TitleThe politics of translatio
NameMilanović, Ljubomir (author), St. Clair Harvey, Archer (chair), Thuno, Erik (internal member), Weigert, Laura (internal member), Popovich, Ljubica D (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Relics (Canon law),
Stephen, Saint, d. ca. 36--Cult,
Stephen, Saint, d. ca. 36--Relics
DescriptionEarly Christian and medieval representations of the ritual of translatio documented the circulation of relics both within and between medieval cultures. This dissertation elucidates the ways the ritual was used for religious and secular ends from the fourth to the fourteenth century in both the East and the West. Reliquaries transmuted abject human remains into objects of veneration. Neither fully alive nor dead, the saint’s body was suspended in a state of perpetual non-decay and endowed with super-natural powers of healing and protection for the faithful. I argue that representations of translatio exploited this essentially ambivalent status of the saint’s body for religious and secular ends. The detailed iconographic program of the Trier ivory provides a provenance for this phenomenon by linking the translation ritual to its Antique prototypes: the triumph and adventus. Accepting the hypothesis that this object represents the translation of the relics of St. Stephen to Constantinople in the fifth century, I identify the ivory as a prototype of the harnessing of the motif of translatio for secular ends. Later examples such as the mural cycles depicting the translatio of the relics of St. Stephen at San Lorenzo fuori le mura In Rome and the chapel of St Stephen in the monastery at Žiča in Serbia, reveal the further development of this pictorial tradition within a public context and its increasingly explicit conscription for secular ideological purposes. I focus on the case of St. Stephen due to his prominent role in Christian society and the broad dissemination of his cult. As the protomartyr, Stephen was the first individual to emulate Christ’s sacrifice. Christian rulers understood that their power derived directly from Christ and therefore aligned themselves with him. As shown in the Trier ivory and the murals at San Lorenzo and Žiča, by emphasizing their ability to translate and poses his body, they hoped to establish a divine provenance for their earthly powers. Through the representation of the translatio of St. Stephen, the secular and religious leaders depicted in or associated with these objects conscripted a highly sophisticated visual rhetoric to political ends.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Ljubomir Milanović
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.