Recent work by various scholars on the political make-up of the Byzantine Empire has highlighted the fragility of the emperor’s position and his dependence on popular support to keep his office. This thesis looks at the use of ceremony by Byzantine emperors to advertise their qualifications to rule according to medieval Roman sensibilities. The crux of this thesis is the tenth-century Byzantine text known as the De cerimoniis, or The Book of Ceremonies, an imperial handbook detailing the procedures regarding numerous imperial processions, feasts, and other ceremonies compiled on the order of Emperor Konstantinos VII Porphyrogennetos (r.~ 913-959). With this text and supplementary historical narratives, this thesis examines how history, space, and symbolism came together to associate Byzantine emperors with the ancient virtues of rulership as defined by Menander Rhetor (c. second/third century A.D.) – justice, temperance, bravery, and wisdom – essential for any legitimate Basileus.
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Thesis advisor: Krallis, Dimitrios
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