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Nectar and IllusionNature in Byzantine Art and Literature$
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Henry Maguire

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199766604

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199766604.001.0001

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Nature and Metaphor

Nature and Metaphor

(p.78) 3 Nature and Metaphor
Nectar and Illusion

Henry Maguire

Oxford University Press

This chapter is concerned with the repetition of metaphors in Byzantine art, with a focus on images that evoked the Virgin. Byzantine homilists and poets created a rich repertoire of metaphorical images to describe the Virgin, many of which were derived from the natural world. These metaphors were reiterated in sermons and hymns until the end of Byzantium. Many of the same images also accompanied the Virgin in her portrayals in Byzantine art, but much less frequently than they appeared in literature, and not at all periods. The most striking examples of artistic poverty in face of the luxuriant nature-derived metaphors of the texts come in the cycles of the Akathistos hymn, which was frequently illustrated in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Here, the rich animal and even horticultural imagery of the poem is largely ignored. For the most part, the illustrations of the Akathistos are rigorously anthropomorphic, with very little attention paid to the nature imagery of the poem.

Keywords:   metaphors, sermons, hymns, Akathistos, Virgin, anthropomorphism

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