Stirring up Sundry Emotions in the Byzantine Illuminated Book: Reflections on the Female Body

  • Mati Meyer
Part of the New Approaches to Byzantine History and Culture book series (NABHC)


Meyer suggests that gazing at images of the desirable female body portrayed in illuminated manuscripts might have invoked an amalgam of sexual desire and fears of emasculation in a presumed, otherwise unknown male readership, resulting in a mixed emotional response—pleasure coupled with shame and fear. This emotionally distressing experience, in its turn, probably entailed a feeling of anger, which led to a gendered ‘barbarism’—erasure, rubbing, and scrapping—that defaced the images in question. She suggests that these erasures reflect ingrained societal Byzantine notions that associated women with a disruptive and unsettling erotic power that was a threat to manliness and the consequential need to maintain the gender-hierarchical order.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mati Meyer
    • 1
  1. 1.The Open University of IsraelRa’ananaIsrael

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