Beauty and the Male Body in Byzantium: Perceptions and Representations in Art and Text

Beauty and the Male Body in Byzantium: Perceptions and Representations in Art and Text


By (author) Myrto Hatzaki

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  • Publisher: Palgrave MacMillan
  • Format: Hardback | 210 pages
  • Dimensions: 140mm x 216mm x 20mm | 481g
  • Publication date: 15 December 2009
  • Publication City/Country: Basingstoke
  • ISBN 10: 0230007155
  • ISBN 13: 9780230007154
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 1,601,294

Product description

Beauty and the Male Body in Byzantium looks into a subject previously ignored in discussions of the Byzantine world: it explores physical beauty as an attribute of the human and, in particular, of the male body through the evidence of imagery and writing from the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries. A close look into the workings of beauty in Byzantium reveals it to be attributed equally to the bodies of heroes and villains, saints and sinners, emperors and executioners, angels and eunuchs, manly soldiers and effeminate youths. Praised, admired, but also feared and envied, beauty's power appears to be matched only by the reverence bestowed upon it by Byzantine authors and artists alike. This study of Byzantine perceptions and representations of beauty tilts the balance in our understanding of Byzantium between spirituality and physicality, soul and body. It not only restores beauty to its proper place, but also refines our perception of the Byzantine world.

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Author information

MYRTO HATZAKI was born in Athens in 1977. She studied History of Art at Warwick University, UK and at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London where she obtained her MA and then her PhD in 2004. She is currently working as a curator at the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum and the A.G. Leventis Foundation.

Review quote

"Its lucid and assertive prose and its stylish presentation are unusually attractive for a first solely-authored academic book. Further, the claims of originality Myrto Hatzaki makes are absolutely justified as there is no other comprehensive study that deals explicitly with the topic of beauty in Byzantium published in any major European language[!]Originality of thought and expression are not Hatzaki's only virtues. Her ability to carve a securely-defined area of expertise in such a highly populated field as medieval art history is also remarkable[!]Furthermore, the meticulousness and intensity of this book will make it a must amongst Byzantinists and Hellenists, whether art historians or not. Its extensive illustrations render it a useful reference source for Byzantine imagery. Palgrave Macmillan, too, must be commended for the high production values displayed here. Further, the book's inventive art historical language can serve as a model for new researchers and its engagement with historiography and literature offers fresh perspectives to those who study or teach those disciplines." - Eugenia Russell, Reviews in History

Table of contents

List of Illustrations Acknowledgements Illustration Sources Introduction The Byzantine Ideal of Beauty: Definitions and Perceptions Only Skin Deep: Beauty and Ugliness between Good and Evil Beauty and Power and Beauty as Power The Beauty of Broken Bodies: Pain, Eloquence and Emotion Angels and Eunuchs; the Beauty of Liminal Masculinity The Fragile Beauty of Soldiers Conclusion Endnotes Bibliography Index