The female personifications in the art of late antiquity

Doctoral Dissertation uoadl:3365105 33 Read counter

Department of History and Archaeology
Library of the School of Philosophy
Deposit date:
Kourkouta Nikoleta
Dissertation committee:
Αναστασία Δρανδάκη, αναπληρώτρια καθηγήτρια Τμήματος Ιστορίας και
Αρχαιολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
Πλάτωνας Πετρίδης, καθηγητής Τμήματος Ιστορίας και Αρχαιολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
Brigitte Pitarakis, Chargée de recherche au CNRS Centre d’Histoire et
Civilisation de Byzance
Αικατερίνη Νικολάου, καθηγήτρια Τμήματος Ιστορίας και Αρχαιολογίας,
Σοφία Ανεζίρη, αναπληρώτρια καθηγήτρια Τμήματος Ιστορίας και
Αρχαιολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
Μαρία Ξανθοπούλου, επίκουρη καθηγήτρια Τμήματος Ιστορίας,
Αρχαιολογίας και Διαχείρισης Πολιτισμικών Αγαθών, Πανεπιστήμιο
Χριστίνα Τσιγωνάκη, επίκουρη καθηγήτρια Τμήματος Ιστορίας και
Αρχαιολογίας, Πανεπιστήμιο Κρήτης
Original Title:
Οι γυναικείες προσωποποιήσεις στην τέχνη της ύστερης αρχαιότητας
Translated title:
The female personifications in the art of late antiquity
The dissertation discusses the personifications of late antiquity. The research focuses on the study of the personifications of female figures that belong to the broader conceptual field of abstract ideas. For this purpose, female personifications that are found in mosaic pavements, textiles and coins from the Eastern Mediterranean and accompanying countries that belonged to the Eastern Roman and later Byzantine empires and chronologically are included between the 3rd and the 6th century AD are analyzed. This dissertation consists of three volumes.
Volume I is divided into two parts. In the first part, the categories of personifications are analyzed according to the pictorial group to which each personification belongs, accompanied by the pictorial analysis and the comparative study of these groups. Particularly, these are personifications of time, such as the seasons, the months, the day, the night and the moon, personifications of space, such as the sea, the earth, the mountains, the springs, and personifications of the Nereids, Victories, Tyches of cities, souls and other concepts that fit into the broader conceptual framework of abstract ideas. Finally, a chapter includes unidentifiable figures which are embodied in the category of personifications due to the distinctive elements that they carry. In the second part of Volume I, the theoretical approach of the dissertation followed, which was divided into four separate synthetic-conclusive chapters.
Specifically, in the first of the synthetic-conclusive chapters, the contribution of the personifications of the mosaic pavements, coins and textiles to the further understanding of the symbolic representation of the female figure and its connotations at the level of abstract concepts in the context of late antiquity was analyzed. Additionally, questions regarding the choice of the specific figures in the media to be examined and the distinguishing elements they carry were investigated. It is interesting to see if and to what extent these figures depict the women of the period, if they themselves participated in the selection process and how these figures ultimately express a side of women's social reality. At the same time, in order to draw conclusions, a pictorial comparison was made with the depictions of real women in different materials in order to investigate the sources of patterns of female personifications. Accordingly, depictions of empresses, deities and everyday women in portraits, statues and statuettes, statuary, caskets, jewellery, reliefs, mosaics and textiles are listed. The study of the female gender during the period under consideration, but also the position of the woman and the meaning of her gender were also a starting point for the research questions discussed in this dissertation, despite the fact that they functioned in an indirect way as a background.
Finally, the use of personifications led to conclusions regarding the organization and intake of the structured space, attire and the use of coins. Specifically, in the last three synthetic chapters, each of the three categories of material was analyzed separately and also in combination, where this was considered necessary. In the chapter concerning the organization and reception of the structured space, the ways of viewing the themes of the mosaic pavements and textiles, the role of the client in the selection of the themes, as well as the sources of themes and how they were influenced by the education of the period were analyzed. The next chapter concerning the coins discusses the relationship between the pictorial themes of personifications and imperial propaganda, while in the last chapter the relationship between the themes of personifications and attire was analyzed.
Volume II includes detailed catalogues of the figures according to their material, while volume III includes maps, charts and catalogues of the images of the figures according to their material.
Main subject category:
personifications, late antiquity, mosaic pavements, textiles, coins, female figures
Number of index pages:
Contains images:
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Κουρκούτα Νικολέτα Διατριβή.pdf
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File access is restricted until 2026-01-15.