The date at which work began on the construction of Justinian and Theodora's church of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus is disputed. It is argued here, on the basis of historical sources, that work probably started after 532, and that the evidence of the dedicatory inscription and the monograms on the column capitals is not inconsistent with this conclusion. The construction of the church alongside the basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul may be explained as an act symbolic of Justinian's hopes to reconcile the non-Chalcedonians with the recently reunified Roman and Eastern Churches. An analysis of the language of the dedicatory inscription suggests that the poem was largely inspired by traditional kingship ideology and the biblical book of Wisdom, and need not necessarily be read as a declaration of rivalry with contemporary members of the aristocracy. It has always been taken for granted that the church's gored dome belongs to the original building. Here, it is argued that the dome is a later repair and that the original dome was seated upon an octagonal fenestrated drum, similar to that of San Vitale in Ravenna. Consequently, Sts. Sergius and Bacchus should not be seen as a prototype for Hagia Sophia.


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pp. 62-130
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