‘Archi-texts’ for contemplation in Sixth-Century Byzantium:\ud the case of the Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Gavril, Iuliana-Elena (2012)
  • Subject: N6250 | NK1648

This thesis aims to contribute towards a better understanding of what the\ud Byzantines experienced in church spaces. By thoroughly mapping users’ encounters\ud with the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople in the sixth-century, it examines\ud whether the experience of the architectural space during the Eucharistic ritual\ud augmented a religious experience, which in turn, influenced the way the Byzantines\ud talked about their spiritual experience whilst being in a church, and thought of their\ud churches as ‘heaven on earth.’ It places textual evidence alongside architectural\ud evidence. The basic approach of this thesis is rooted in phenomenology and multisensory\ud perception of space.\ud \ud In the first chapter, I make a case for the necessity of studying the textual\ud evidence in light of the spatial experience of the building. I suggest that the concept of\ud ‘archi-text’ is key to answering the question of what was a church in sixth-century\ud Byzantium. Developed in three chapters, the textual analysis focuses on sixth-century\ud ekphraseis of Hagia Sophia written by Procopius of Caesarea and Paul the Silentiary, and\ud the inauguration kontakion composed for the church dedication. In the first two\ud chapters, I examine how the spatial perception of the church influenced the way Hagia\ud Sophia was described. In the next chapter, I explore how the Byzantines thought of the\ud church in symbolic and theological terms. The literary analysis concludes that Hagia\ud Sophia was perceived as a centralised space and represented as a ‘heaven on earth.’\ud These two points are further scrutinized all through the spatial analysis of the church.\ud The final chapter links the Byzantines’ symbolic representation of the church to the\ud architectural physicality of Hagia Sophia.
  • References (221)
    221 references, page 1 of 23

    INTRODUCTION: Looking for a Church with a View ..................................................8 1. Aims and Questions............................................................................................14 2. A Church with a View: Hagia Sophia in Constantinople as a Case Study.........16 3. Byzantine Church Architecture as a Prop for Religious Experience - Literature Review ...............................................................................................23 4. Analytical framework -'Archi-texts' for Contemplation ...................................29 5. Encounters with Buildings, Architectural Experience and Religious Experience: Defining Key Terms...........................................................................35 6. Outline of the Thesis ..........................................................................................37

    CHAPTER ONE: The Experienced Architectural Space of Hagia Sophia: Procopius' Account .............................................................................................39 Introduction: Approaching Sixth-Century Ekphraseis of Hagia Sophia................39 1.1 Procopius' Ekphrasis of Hagia Sophia: Overview ............................................43 1.2. Critical Appraisal of Hagia Sophia's Design and the Rhetorical Structure of Procopius' Ekphrasis ...................................................................................46 1.3 Mapping the Encounter with Hagia Sophia: Procopius' Account....................50 1.4 How to Describe a Building and Its Interior Space: Precedents in Late Antiquity .....................................................................................................53 1.5 The Experienced Architectural Space of Hagia Sophia: Procopius' Case.......58 1.6 'Dancing Columns' (κιόνια ὥσπερ ἐν χορῷ): The Performance of the Exedra's Columns........................................................................................62 1.7 'The Vision Constantly Shifts Suddenly' (ἀγχίστροφός ἡ τῆς θέας μεταβολὴ ἐς ἀεὶ γίγνεται): Perceptual Processing in Procopius' Account of Hagia Sophia ............................................................................65

    CHAPTER TWO:The Experienced Architectural Space of Hagia Sophia: Paul the Silentiary's Account .........................................................................72 Introduction: Approaching Paul the Silentiary's Ekphrasis of the Church of Hagia Sophia (Eκφρασις τοῦ ναοῦ τῆς ἁγίας Σοφία)..........................72 2.1 Spatial Experience and the Order of Describing Buildings .............................74 2.2 Readings of the Spatial Layout of Hagia Sophia ............................................82 2.3 Space and Spatial Relations in Paul's Ekphrasis ..............................................86 2.4 The Experienced Natural Space in the Church of Hagia Sophia ....................89

    Byzantium:Textual Evidence ...................................................................................... 94

    Introduction: Approaching the Inauguration Hymn (Τῶν Ἐγκαινιῶν ὁ ὔμνος) ...... 94 3.1 The Inauguration Kontakion as a Literary Genre ............................................. 97 3.2 Inauguration Hymn of Hagia Sophia - English Translation ............................ 99 3.3 Intertextuality................................................................................................. 105 3.4 Attributes of Hagia Sophia in the Inauguration Kontakion ........................... 111 3.5 The Depth Structure of the Kontakion - Shaping Meaning .......................... 113 3.5 Text Pragmatics - Hagia Sophia as 'a Heaven on Earth' (οὐρανός τις ἐπίγειος) .................................................................................................. 117 3.7 Hagia Sophia's 'Archi-Text' for Divine Contemplation (θεωρία)................ 120

    CHAPTER FOUR:Experiencing the Architectural Space of Hagia Sophia: a Spatial Analysis ........................................................................................... 123

    Introduction: Evaluating Hagia Sophia in Spatial Terms............................................ 123 4.1 Hagia Sophia: a Domed Basilica or a Centralised Building? ......................... 125 4.2. Hagia Sophia: Spatial Configuration in Light of Rituals .............................. 129 4.3 Spatial Analysis of the Church of Hagia Sophia ............................................ 132 4.3.1 Space Syntax Theory - Overview .................................................... 132 4.3.2 Spatial Integration, Connectivity and Visibility in Hagia Sophia .... 133 4.3.2.1 All-line Axial Mapping ........................................................... 135 4.3.2.2 Isovist and Visibility Graph Analysis ..................................... 137 4.4 Spatial Properties of the Layout of Hagia Sophia Based on the Isovist Properties ...................................................................................... 138 4.5 Light in Hagia Sophia..................................................................................... 142

    CHAPTER FIVE: Hagia Sophia's 'Archi-text' for Contemplation in the Sixth Century............................................................................................ 147 Introduction: How can experience be deemed religious? ................................... 147 5.1 The Aesthetic Qualities of Hagia Sophia's Design ........................................ 148 5.1.1 How was beauty defined? ................................................................ 149 5.1.2 The Finality of the Beauty of Hagia Sophia ..................................... 154 5.2 Hagia Sophia's 'Archi-Text' for Contemplation: a Built Cosmos and 'Heaven on Earth' (οὐρανός τις ἑπίγεος) ...................................................................... 156 5.3 Excurse: The Architectural Physicality of the 'Archi-Text' for Contemplation..................................................................................................... 161

    CONCLUSION: The View From the Church of Hagia Sophia ................................. 167

    Sallustius, Concerning the Gods and the Universe. Edited with Prolegomena and Translation, Latin text and English trans. by Arthur Darby Nock (Hildensheim: Georg Olms, 1926, repr. 1966)

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