Event Title

Imperial Themes in the Santa Maria Maggiore: A Comparison of Mosaic Representations and Political Events in the 420s

Faculty Mentor

Laura Dufresne, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Interdisciplinary Studies

Location

DIGS 114

Start Date

20-4-2018 3:45 PM

Description

The Santa Maria Maggiore mosaics are a well-studied example of early Christian and late Roman art, considered the earliest surviving church-sponsored mosaic and highly regarded for its depictions of the virgin Mary. Indeed, the mosaics were commissioned in time to coincide with the ecumenical council of Ephesus in 431, which condemned Nestorianism and confirmed the virgin’s title of Khristotokos and Theotokos. However, the commissioning and construction of the church was shadowed by the tumultuous political circumstances between the eastern and western administrations in the 420’s and 430s C.E. The decade saw a civil war to ensure the continuation of the Theodosian dynasty, the rise of Aetius, and the Vandal invasion of Africa, all of which impacted the sociopolitical climate of Roman Italy. It is possible that in support of the new emperor Valentinian and his mother, Galla Placidia, elements of the Santa Maria Maggiore may have reflected the political developments surrounding the transition of power in the middle of the decade by displaying legitimizing and authoritative imagery of the Imperial dynasty.

Course Assignment

MDST 510 – Dufresne

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Apr 20th, 3:45 PM

Imperial Themes in the Santa Maria Maggiore: A Comparison of Mosaic Representations and Political Events in the 420s

DIGS 114

The Santa Maria Maggiore mosaics are a well-studied example of early Christian and late Roman art, considered the earliest surviving church-sponsored mosaic and highly regarded for its depictions of the virgin Mary. Indeed, the mosaics were commissioned in time to coincide with the ecumenical council of Ephesus in 431, which condemned Nestorianism and confirmed the virgin’s title of Khristotokos and Theotokos. However, the commissioning and construction of the church was shadowed by the tumultuous political circumstances between the eastern and western administrations in the 420’s and 430s C.E. The decade saw a civil war to ensure the continuation of the Theodosian dynasty, the rise of Aetius, and the Vandal invasion of Africa, all of which impacted the sociopolitical climate of Roman Italy. It is possible that in support of the new emperor Valentinian and his mother, Galla Placidia, elements of the Santa Maria Maggiore may have reflected the political developments surrounding the transition of power in the middle of the decade by displaying legitimizing and authoritative imagery of the Imperial dynasty.