• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Get control of your email attachments. Connect all your Gmail accounts and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio will automatically organize your file attachments. You can also connect Dokkio to Drive, Dropbox, and Slack. Sign up for free.



Page history last edited by kay hones 5 years, 12 months ago
2013-2014 Season at Marines' Memorial Theatre, Union Square

constatinople   Constantinople and the Byzantine Millennium (330-1453)
February 28-March 1, 2014
Marines' Memorial Theatre, San Francisco
The fall of the Roman Empire is often seen as a major dividing line in European history, but its offshoot, the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, lived on from 330 to 1453, providing continuity as a fascinating cultural and political power. In fact, the Byzantines thought of themselves as Romans, while imposing a predominantly Greek culture and Eastern Orthodox religion over their multiethnic territories, dominating the eastern Mediterranean, Southern Italy, the Balkans, and North Africa. The Byzantine Empire bridged east and west, ancient and modern, until overwhelmed by the rising power of the Ottoman Turks.

Presented in collaboration with the Consul General of Greece in San Francisco and the Center for Modern Greek Studies at San Francisco State University.  

Learn more about this program's presenters.

> Join the presenters for lunch or dinner: download the reservation form. (pdf document)

> View our Suggested Reading and Resources for this program.

Download the postcard for this event. (pdf document)

> Ticket holders may request a sourcebook to accompany the Constantinopleprogram. 
   Please write us.

Friday, February 28, 7:30 to 9:45 pm

PerformancePeter Kalafatis and the Belmont Dancing Group Enomenoi

Performance: Anthology of Byzantine MelodiesReverends Apostolos Koufallakis, Nikos Bekris, John Kololas, Dimosthenis Paraskevaidis, Nebojsa Pantic, Michael Prevas, Alex Leong, Peter Salmas, Jon Magoulias, and Aris Metrakos; and George Haris and Basil Crow perform under the direction of Costas Haralambopoulos (Annunciation Cathedral, San Francisco) 


Byzantium as a World CivilizationMaria Mavroudi (UC Berkeley). Nineteenth- and early twentieth-century scholars assigned Byzantium a marginal role in the development of world civilization, one limited to the preservation of “classical” Greek texts. However, the Greek texts chosen for translation into Latin and Arabic during the medieval period indicate that Byzantium’s contemporaries were not primarily interested in its pagan Greek heritage but in its Christian and Roman traditions, especially since the Byzantine state viewed itself (and was also viewed by its Eastern neighbors) as the continuation of the Roman empire. Consequently, they chose to translate a great number of biblical, patristic, hagiographical, liturgical, and legal texts, while the Arabic and Latin translations of pagan Greek texts were influenced by Byzantium’s monotheistic understanding of their content. We also have Byzantine translations of medieval Latin and Arabic texts. This suggests that the Greek, Latin, and Arabic Middle Ages were all interested in the same larger philosophical and scientific questions and occasionally exchanged ideas on them.

Saturday, March 1, 10 am to noon and 1:30 to 4:00 pm

Constantinople - the New Rome in Late Antiquity. Rossitza Schroeder(Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley). The city of Constantinople was named New Rome or Second Rome very soon after its foundation in AD 324; over the next two hundred years it replaced the original Rome as the greatest city of the Mediterranean. How did perceptions of Rome and Constantinople change? Who were the new emperors and how did they live in their new capital? What role did the New Rome's new religion, Christianity, play?

The Many Faces of Byzantium: Ideologies of Power from Constantine to Mehmed the Conqueror. Dimiter Angelov (University of Birmingham, UK and Harvard). The Byzantine Empire (330-1453) was the direct successor to imperial Rome in the eastern Mediterranean—a flourishing civilization that received, preserved, and reinterpreted many of the political and intellectual traditions of antiquity. What was the political ideology of Byzantium throughout its millennial existence? How was it constructed, communicated, and questioned throughout the centuries? The original voices of Byzantine thinkers and the powerful images produced by Byzantine artists will help to answer these and other questions, bringing to life a rich world of politics, imagination, and continual change and rediscovery of the past. 

Performance: Holy Trinity Youth Choir, with Anysia Dumont

Hagia Sophia and Multi-Sensory Aesthetics. Bissera Pentcheva(Stanford). Focusing on the 6th-century interior of the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, Professor Pentcheva explores the optical shimmer of marble and gold and its psychological effect on the spectator as recorded in Byzantine ekphrasis and liturgical texts. In turn, this optical shimmer, marmarygma in Greek, is linked to the acoustic properties of marble, especially its capacity to reflect sound waves. The meaning of the optical and acoustic reflection is related to the Eucharist rite and more specifically to the concept of animation, empsychosis. The exploration of acoustics is further deepened by the use of the sound of exploding balloons and modern digital technology to measure the reverberation time of the interior and to generate with its aid computer auralizations of Byzantine chant, recorded anechoically (with minimal room acoustics).  Combining literary analysis, philological inquiry, and scientific research, this study uncovers the multi-sensory aesthetics of Hagia Sophia and recuperates the notion of aural architecture.

Constantinople and the Generation of Orthodox Painting, Sharon E. J. Gerstel (UCLA). The legacy of Byzantium can be traced in the remains of thousands of painted churches that still stand and serve for common worship. Looking at the remains of monumental decoration in the Byzantine capital, both painted and mosaic, can one characterize an art form that was uniquely metropolitan? What was the role of the capital in the creation and dissemination of artistic styles and subjects? Professor Gerstel looks at the last and most famous phase of ecclesiastical decoration in the Byzantine capital (1261-1453), and its echoes in other regions of the empire.

Panel Discussion with Presenters Moderated by George Hammond(Humanities West)  

Related Events 

Humanities West Book Discussion with Lynn Harris
The Alexiad by Anna Komnene (1143-53) 
February 5, 2014
5:30 to 6:30 pm 

Written between 1143 and 1153 by the daughter of Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, The Alexiad is one of the most popular and revealing primary sources in the vast canon of medieval literature. Princess Anna Komnene, eldest child of the imperial couple, reveals the inner workings of the court, profiles its many extraordinary personages, and offers a firsthand account of significant events, such as the First Crusade, including its impact on the relationship between eastern and western Christianity. A celebrated triumph of Byzantine letters, this is an unparalleled view of the glories of Constantinople.

Commonwealth Club of San Francisco
595 Market Street
RSVP: commonwealthclub.org or 415.597.6700
Club members free, non-members $5

Glimpsing the Past: a Virtual Tour of Pompeii
Michael Anderson, Associate Professor, Department of Classics, San Francisco State University 
February 10, 2014
5:30 PM - Networking Reception
6:00 PM - Program

The Commonwealth Club explores the past with Dr. Michael Anderson, who will present a virtual day in Pompeii: a walking tour of the highlights of the ancient city designed to reveal aspects of its history, development, daily life, and destruction. Monuments visited will include the forum and its temples and administrative buildings, theatre district and the city's amphitheatre, and numerous ancient houses. Italian espresso not provided, but highly recommended.

Commonwealth Club of San Francisco
595 Market Street
RSVP: commonwealthclub.org or 415.597.6700
Commonwealth Club members, $8, Public, $20

Fireside Chat with George Hammond
A Byzantium Preview
February 25, 2014
6:30 pm, Orinda Library, Orinda

The Anatomy of a Byzantine Illustrated Gospel Book. Kathleen Maxwell
February 27, 2014. 6 pm.
Commonwealth Club 

Paris gr. 54 is one of the most ambitious and complex manuscripts produced during the late Byzantine Empire. Its full-page evangelist portraits, extensive narrative cycle, and unique polychromatic Greek and Latin texts have garnered scholarly attention since Henri Omont first published its illustrations in 1929. Professor Maxwell addresses the following questions: Who commissioned it and for what purpose? What does it reveal about the production of luxury manuscripts and why was it left unfinished? She demonstrates that it was designed to eclipse its contemporaries and to physically embody a new relationship between Constantinople and the Latin West, as envisioned by its patron.  Detailed analysis of Paris 54’s texts and miniature cycle indicates that Paris 54 was created at the behest of a Byzantine emperor as a gift to a pope, in conjunction with imperial efforts to unify the Latin and Greek Orthodox churches.


Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.