Two or three days ago I was making a half-hearted attempt to cull the books in the den. Many of them haven’t moved since they were put on the shelves almost three years ago. I came across Volumes 1 and 3 of John Julius Norwich’s trilogy on the history of Byzantium. I then recalled that I had never been able to lay my hands on Volume 2 and had no idea what happened between the reigns of Irene of Athens and Alexios I Komnenos. Who had been beheaded, blinded, castrated or otherwise mutilated in what was considered the apogee of the Empire. I immediately put in an order for a copy which should be on its way to me in the next day or two.
In the meantime I thought I’d take a look back at a particularly fascinating piece from the exceptional Byzantine Collection at the Bode in Berlin. So it was off to the Hippodrome for a day at the races.
On this day in 1747: The first venereal diseases clinic opens at London Lock Hospital.
A day at the Hippodrome was a big event when Constantinople was the jewel of the Eastern World. Festivals – religious and secular – triumphs, marriages, births, events of all sorts, particularly when an unpopular Emperor was trying to curry favour with a fickle people – were celebrated with chariot races surrounded by pomp and ceremony. So popular were these races that the political parties took their colours from the four racing teams. The colour you supported indicated not only who was your favorite team but what political party you belonged to. In his marvelous triptych history of Byzantium hardly a chapter goes by without John Julius Norwich making some reference to the Hippodrome and the races as part of not only daily life but the tumultuous history of Constantinople.
This piece of carved stone, found in the Byzantine Collection at the Bode Museum, served two purposes – as…
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2 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday”
💟 l’empire byzantin.
I need to do something about the books as well. I used to feel awful to be rid of them. However they are not eliciting joy these days; out with them.