Sinners and damned in antiquity and Byzantium

Violations of legal and moral, human and divine rules are an integral part of human behavior. Accordingly, individuals as well as (social, religious or state) units deal with the violations at all times, discuss, evaluate and classify both the violations themselves and their potential consequences in this life and the hereafter. The texts may do this in an abstract, impersonal form, or (exemplarily) on the basis of certain / named people.

The aim of this project is to determine to what extent similarities in the understanding of sin and its (written and pictorial) manifestations exist between Greco-Roman antiquity and Byzantium, the way in which ancient concepts were transmitted and how they were possibly adapted in order to correspond to changing moral and social ideas.

The analysis will differentiate between various periods and spaces. It asks which violations the sources addressed, on the basis of which (type of) figures they illustrated them, and how these figures were portrayed (both in comparison to figures who were accused of other types of violations and in comparison to figures who were innocent. Moreover, it examines the contexts in which these characterizations occur. In addition to the visual sources, written sources are also included in the study. The analysis focuses on the use and meaning of terms and will compare the content of various source types as well as assess the differences in (figure / violation) selection and description that emerge.


Univ.-Prof. Dr. Heide Frielinghaus

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Vasiliki Tsamakda

A. Cultural Change and Cultural Continuity