Date of Degree

9-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor(s)

Eric Ivison

Subject Categories

Medieval History

Keywords

Byzantine Studies, Constantinopolitan History, Cultural History

Abstract

This thesis discusses the cultural history of the Column of Constantine at Constantinople, exploring its changing function and meaning from Late Antiquity to the end of the Byzantine era. Originally erected as a pagan triumphal column in celebration of Constantine’s re-foundation of Byzantium as Constantinople in 330 C.E., this monument was soon reinterpreted within a Christian context and acquired its own relic tradition, most significantly relics from Christ’s Passion. In addition, as the centuries passed, this relic tradition increased to include objects significant not only to Biblical history but also Constantinopolitan history. Because of this, in the middle Byzantine period, the column became a significant imperial and ecclesiastical station along the main street or Mese of Constantinople and was incorporated into the military triumphs of the period. Here, through close proximity with the column, the current emperor could link himself to Christ through Constantine the Great. Ultimately, at the conclusion of the Byzantine era, the column continued to retain significance as a monument of Byzantium’s future and revival. Therefore, with this in mind, we will study the Column of Constantine as a monument of layered meaning that sustained its significance in each Byzantine epoch as a microcosm of the history of Constantinople that was tied directly to its wellbeing by its citizens.

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