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Nectar and Illusion: Nature and Rhetoric in Byzantium

September 23, 2009

The Byzantines had an ambivalent attitude towards rhetoric, which was for them a source both of refinement and deceit. They felt a similar ambivalence concerning terrestrial nature, which was on the one hand a source of wealth and delight, but on the other hand corruptible and fleeting compared to the spiritual rewards of heaven. Both in their literature and in their art, the Byzantine found ways to put nature securely in its subordinate position, even while they were still prepared to deploy their eloquence in acknowledgment of its charms.