The 11th Century’s Renaissances (Transformations in the system of images of the Byzantine political theory) Cover Image
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Les Renaissances du XIe siècle: L’évolution de l’imagerie de la théorie politique byzantine
The 11th Century’s Renaissances (Transformations in the system of images of the Byzantine political theory)

Author(s): Vesselina Vatchkova
Subject(s): Cultural history
Published by: Институт за литература - BAN
Keywords: Byzantine political theory; symbols of political power; difference between rhetoric and pragmatic

Summary/Abstract: The paper traces the allegories and symbols of state and government the Byzantine writers came to use in the 11th century. These images revive, on the one hand, some ideas from the Antiquity (such as the Aristotle’s organismic symbolic, or the comparison of the government with a competition); on the other hand, they persistently stick to the Biblical imagery (the representation of the people as a herd or the state as a garden); and there are also some completely new rhetorical figures (the king represented as an oikonomos and the state as oikos - a house) which were to be used for long centuries to come, and some of them topical even today. A careful analysis of the relationship between these three levels attests to: 1) parallel revival and giving new meaning to the antic, biblical and patristic rhetoric; 2) conceiving the power through the double prism of a markedly practical approach to the figure of the ruler and a mystical interpretation of power itself; 3) variability and, at times, paradoxical employment and combination of the images of the state and government; 4) increasingly explicit denouncement of sticking to a strictly structured vision of a society in which each person and social layer (at macro-level – each people or state) would occupy a well defined position. Whereas in the West, the same period will have as its climax the crystallization of the well-known horror vacui (its social equivalent being the concept of the three orders), in Byzantium it will see a sua specie amor vacui based on a biased preservation and emphasizing on the ontological difference between rhetoric and pragmatic, ideal (image) and reality, theory and practice.

  • Issue Year: 2010
  • Issue No: 8-9
  • Page Range: 435-460
  • Page Count: 26
  • Language: French