Ancient statues in medieval Constantinople

A truly fascinating article has come my way, thanks to a tweet by Dorothy King: Cyril Mango’s Antique Statuary and the Byzantine Beholder (online here).[1]  The tweet itself was as follows:

Rare scene of pagan statues that survived being destroyed during later Byzantium in Constantinople pic.twitter.com/UYKMlAnIoS

The article contains a great number of references to primary sources describing statues and the attitude of the Byzantines to them.  In some cases statues could be destroyed as idols; but more often they were left alone.  The idea of demonic inhabitation of statues became transmuted into the idea that the statues were talismans, infused with magical power to protect the city.

If I had any time at all at the moment I might chase down a few of these.  Book 2 of the Loeb Greek Anthology, however, does indeed contain a description of 80 ancient statues collected at the palace of Lausus in the 5th century.

  1. [1]Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 17 (1963), pp. 53+55-75.

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