Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index

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1. Record Number: 12734
Author(s): Barber, Charles.
Title : The imperial panels at San Vitale: a reconsideration [Two sixth century mosaics in the aspe of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy, depict the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (on the left) and his wife Theodora (on the right). Although the Emperor and Empress appear to be represented identically (with purple clothing, haloes, and similar postures), other types of iconography in the panels differentiate the role and status of the figures according to their gender. The Emperor, flanked by priests and soldiers, carries objects that indicate his priestly and military roles. The Empress, dressed in more lavish clothing and jewels and enclosed in a depiction of architectural space, reflects Byzantine society’s legal and social relegation of women (even aristocratic ones) to the domestic sphere. Nonetheless, Theodora’s position in image (in the center with males on one side of her, females, on the other) places her at the boundary between the sexes, as a transgressive figure who straddles both public and private spheres. Title note supplied by Feminae.].
Source: Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies , 14., ( 1990):  Pages 19 - 42.
Year of Publication: 1990.