Skip to Content

The Function of Text: Byzantine Reliquaries with Metrical Inscriptions, 843–1204

Bradley Hostetler, Florida State University, Junior Fellow 2015–2016

I finished and defended my dissertation, which charts a paradigm for understanding the forms and functions of middle Byzantine reliquaries, focusing on those inscribed with metrical inscriptions, or epigrams. These texts provide valuable evidence for how the Byzantines viewed, interpreted, and handled reliquaries, and how they accessed relics. As my research questions evolved, I developed two additional dissertation chapters on relic accessibility and on ekphrastic epigrams. My dissertation also contains a catalogue of all epigrams associated with middle Byzantine reliquaries. I completed the translations and received valuable feedback from my colleagues, specifically Nikolaos Zagklas, whose work on twelfth-century poetry greatly informed my research.

I began drafting three new chapters for a book based on my dissertation. One presents the various material and medieval textual sources on middle Byzantine reliquaries; a second examines how relics were labeled in Byzantium; and a third contextualizes the use of relics and reliquaries in battle. I also finished an article on the tenth-century Limburg Staurotheke. I completed two essays, “Image, Epigram, and Nature in Middle Byzantine Personal Devotion,” in Natural Materials of the Holy Land and the Visual Translation of Place, 500–1500 (edited by R. Bartal, N. Bodner, and B. Kühnel), and “Reliquary Epigrams,” in Byzantine Texts on Art and Aesthetics, vol. 3: From Alexios I to the Rise of Hesychasm (1081–ca. 1330) (edited by C. Barber and F. Spingou).