Home > Korinthian Matters, Late Antiquity > Epigraphy, Liturgy, and Imperial Policy on the Justinianic Isthmus

Epigraphy, Liturgy, and Imperial Policy on the Justinianic Isthmus

I have just completed an article entitled, “Epigraphy, Liturgy, and Imperial Policy on the Justinianic Isthmus” and sent it off for possible inclusion in a published conference proceedings.  The article looked at this Late Antique inscription from Isthmia:


I originally delivered the paper at the Half Century on the Isthmus Conference this past summer.


I’ve been working on this paper for about 5 years now. I originally gave a version of it as a Tea Talk here at the American School of Classical Studies in the Spring of 2003.  I then converted it into an article which looked like this and was rejected everywhere.  I then modified its focus and delivered it at the Isthmus Conference this summer looking like this.  After considerably more work, I’ve managed to turn it into this.

The final product is probably better than my first effort on this topic (after 4 years of additional though!).  Moreover, it should set up nicely my research in the spring, which will seek to introduce the concept of hybridity (as articulated by post-colonial theorists like Homi Bhabha) to the study of Early Christian architecture and liturgy in Greece.  The goal of “Epigraphy, Liturgy, and Imperial Policy” was to establish that Justinian sought to project imperial authority on the Isthmus through the use of the Constantinopolitan version of the liturgy.  The imperially funded Lechaion basilica alludes to the Constantinopolitan rite through the presence of a solea linking the ambo to the chancel.  The text shown above (IG IV, 204 for those of you with a scorecard) likewise shows some indication of the Constantinopolitan right.  This would have been particularly controversial in Greece which in the 6th century ecclesiastically part of the west.

If we accept that the liturgy can be used to project authority (either imperial or, presumably, ecclesiastical), we can begin to consider how these efforts to construct authority were understood by the community.  Bhabha’s idea of the hybrid, from what I understand, suggests that individual actors when confronted with external (colonial) sources of authority found ways to interpret, negotiate and in some cases (re)deploy it for their own benefit.  This process, which creates the empowered, colonial hybrid, promotes a qualitatively new, but undiminished voice for the colonial subject.  For Greece, this process creates the voice which will become, by the Early and Middle Byzantine period, the dominant component of Christian Greek culture.

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