February 14—Felix Szabo, Servants of the Lord: Eunuchs in Middle Byzantine Christianity (843-1204 CE)

The Workshop on Late Antiquity and Byzantium is pleased to announce our next meeting:

Servants of the Lord: Eunuchs in Middle
Byzantine Christianity (843-1204 CE)

The monk Sabas instructs the emperor Nikephoros III Botaneiates.
Bibliothèque National de France MS Coislin 79, f. 2bis-r (ca. 1078-1081).

Felix Szabo
Ph. D. Student, University of Chicago (History)

For more than a thousand years, eunuchs constituted a small but highly visible population at the heart the Byzantine courtly elite. Yet in a society like Byzantium, which viewed itself as a divinely-appointed synthesis of the glory of antiquity and Christ’s kingdom on Earth, what can we really say about social perceptions and roles without an equally thorough consideration of their religious contexts? Throughout the Middle Byzantine period, eunuchs continued to seek active participation in the fullness of Christian life; this participation, however, differs from that of both men and women, in significant, thoughtful, and at times apparently deliberate ways. These eunuch-specific practices, along with the social contexts that allowed them to take shape, offer valuable insight (and a tantalizing glimpse) into devotional practices on the medieval margins—practices that have, until now, been generally ignored.

Tuesday, February 14 — 4:30 pm in CWAC 156

We look forward to seeing you there!

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