Byzantine Art and Architecture

The Byzantines considered themselves the inheritors of the Roman Empire, yet historians often see them as different enough to consider separately. In what ways was their culture similar to the earlier Roman Empire and in what ways were they different in terms of religion, politics and geography? What does their art tell us about these similarities and differences? How different do you think they were from the earlier Roman Empire?

To address these issues, choose a Byzantine work of art or architecture (ca. 500-1453) either from the module or outside sources and compare it to an earlier Roman example (ca. 30 BCE – 410 CE). How do they compare in terms of style, function and message? What do these similarities and differences tell us about their respective cultures? How much of the function is related to religion? To politics?

Suggestions for comparison:

Justinian, Bishop and Attendants vs. Augustus of the Prima Porta

Theodora and Attendants vs. Procession of the Imperial Family

Justinian as World Conqueror vs. Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius

Hagia Sophia vs. the Pantheon