Byzantine Political Ideology and the Importance of Eye Language


Abstract


The ways how the perceptions of emperors’ bodies reflected the theories of the Byzantine political ideology is yet to be analyzed in this paper. Accordingly, the Byzantine chroniclers’ works showed that there was a strict connection between bodily integrity and the ability to exercise good governance. Intellectual and moral abilities are reflected by physical traits, while illness equaled moral degeneration and the slide into tyranny. The second part of the research is a case study mainly about the eyes’ various symbolism in the view on the Byzantine power, as the emperors’ physical descriptions specially cared about this part of the body and its fundamental functions. Through its radial shape, the eye was associated with imperial universalism and the Sun, while the look was linked to the sovereigns’ ability of leading their subjects in a proper manner2. On the other hand, blindness was seen as a symbol serious moral degradation, in correlation with the absence of the Sun’s beneficial light and with the dispossession of the spirit of justice. This is the method how one can explain why blindness punishment was applied to tyrants and usurpers, as it involved their permanently removal from the achievement of power.

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