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Reviewed by:
  • Basileia: Essays on Imperium and Culture in Honour of E. M. and M. J. Jeffreys by Geoffrey Nathan and Lynda Garland, eds
  • Stephen Joyce
Nathan, Geoffrey and Lynda Garland, eds, Basileia: Essays on Imperium and Culture in Honour of E. M. and M. J. Jeffreys (Byzantina Australiensia, 17),Brisbane, Australian Association for Byzantine Studies, 2011; paperback; pp. 266; 50 illustrations; R.R.P. in Aust AU $44.00, elsewhere AU $57.00; ISBN 9781876503300.

Basileia represents a collection of studies that first began as a series of papers delivered at the 2008 Australian Association for Byzantine Studies, held in honour of the contributions of Elizabeth Jeffreys and Michael Jeffreys to Australian Byzantine studies. Under a general theme of ‘Imperium and Culture’, editors Geoffrey Nathan and Lynda Garland have collated some nineteen essays that examine the evolving imperial and cultural forms of Byzantium from the fifth century through to the sixteenth century. The editors have brought together some of the finest academics in the field of Byzantine studies, and this, in turn, is represented in the quality of the contributions.

The first two studies are, of course, by Elizabeth and Michael Jeffreys. Following a general theme of imperium and its relationship with its literature, the role of imperial patronage and the poems of Manganeios Prodomos are examined. Following this, Andrew Stone, Roger Scott, and Penelope Buckley examine the role of imperial panegyric, chronicles, and imperial traditions. Justinian looms large in the studies of Sarah Gador-Whyte, Ross Burns, and Brain Croke where Justinian’s wars are officially chronicled by a [End Page 312] critically veiled Procopius, Justinian’s military strategies are compared and distinguished from those of Diocletian, and the use of Justinian’s virtue of sleeplessness is used to define vigilance in imperial rule. Geoffrey Nathan and Lynda Garland examine the minutiae of imperium. Nathan examines the role of dedicatory images to communicate aristocratic ideals in politically fluid times, while Garland looks at Agathias’s cycle of poems and the imperial and domestic significance of inscriptions and epigrams.

The Church, of course, receives its due share: Amelia Brown examines the struggle between western and eastern ecclesiastical authorities in fourth-and fifth-century Greece and its political impact on early Byzantine imperium; Pauline Allen compares Synesius of Cyrene and Augustine of Hippo and their episcopal approaches to crisis; Bronwen Neil looks at imperial benefactions to the fifth-century Roman church and the emphasis on the civic ideals of episcopal authority; Erica Gielen examines the influence of the monk Joseph the Philosopher on a Byzantine renaissance under emperor Andronicus II.

The attitudes and representations of Byzantine imperium and culture in the West are also examined. Andrew Gillett looks at communications between Byzantium and the sixth-century Frankish dynasty of the Merovingians. Penelope Nash considers Byzantine influence on the West’s architecture and art in the late eighth and tenth centuries. This theme is further explored by Robert Mihajlovski who looks at the church buildings in the medieval Macedonian town of Prilep, and by Nigel Westbrook who examines a rare sixteenth-century drawing of Byzantine buildings in Constantinople.

This volume of Byzantina Australiensa honours the contributions Elizabeth and Michael Jeffreys have made to Australia Byzantine studies with quality contributions. The depth and variety of the thematic offerings is a joy and there will be something here for any scholar of romanitas.

Stephen Joyce
The Centre for Studies in Religion and Theology
Monash University


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