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Contesting the Logic of Painting

Art and Understanding in Eleventh-Century Byzantium

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Charles Barber

Studies of the icon in Byzantium have tended to focus on the iconoclastic era of the eighth- and ninth-centuries. This study shows that discussion of the icon was far from settled by this lengthy dispute. While the theory of the icon in Byzantium was governed by a logical understanding that had limited painting to the visible alone, the four authors addressed in this book struggled with this constraint. Symeon the New Theologian, driven by a desire for divine vision, chose, effectively, to disregard the icon. Michael Psellos used a profound neoplatonism to examine the relationship between an icon and miracles. Eustratios of Nicaea followed the logic of painting to the point at which he could clarify a distinction between painting from theology. Leo of Chalcedon attempted to describe a formal presence in the divine portrait of Christ. All told, these authors open perspectives on the icon that enrich and expand our own modernist understanding of this crucial medium.
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Edited by Charles Barber and David Jenkins

Given the enduring importance of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, it is remarkable to find that there is no extensive surviving commentary on this text from the period between the second century and the twelfth century. This volume is focused on the first of the medieval commentaries, that produced in the early twelfth century by Eustratios of Nicaea, Michael of Ephesus, and an anonymous author in Constantinople. This endeavor was to have a significant impact on the reception of the Nicomachean Ethics in Latin and Catholic Europe. For, in the mid-thirteenth century, Robert Grosseteste translated into Latin a manuscript that contained these Byzantine commentators. Both Albertus Magnus and Bonaventure then used this translation as a basis for their discussions of Aristotle's book.
Contributors are George Arabatzis, Charles Barber, Linos Benakis, Elizabeth Fisher, Peter Frankopan, Katerina Ierodiakonou, David Jenkins, Anthony Kaldellis and Michele Trizio.
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Edited by Charles Barber and David Jenkins

The papers of this volume originated in a workshop held at the University of Notre Dame in February 2004 to discuss the variety of ways one might read Michael Psellos (1018-after 1081?). One of most original figures of Byzantine intellectual history, Psellos was a polymath whose range extended from rhetoric and philosophy to law and medicine. While his history of his own times, the Chronographia, is one of the best known works of Byzantine literature, very little else of his large body of work has been translated. It is the intention of this volume to encourage a wider awareness of Psellos' many interests by offering readings of his original texts from a variety of scholarly perspectives.