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Selected Topics in History IV: Miracles and Magic in Byzantium

Saint Cyprian the sorcerer
Saint Cyprian the sorcerer

Plucked from the Hogwarts graduate calendar! This seminar will explore evidence for attitudes towards, and perceived mechanisms of, miracles and magic in the Byzantine Roman world, while considering differing theoretical approaches and the historiography of the subject. Following a brief introduction to Byzantium (for those less familiar with its history and culture), topics to be covered will include: traditions of sanctity and miracle (healing or otherwise), of demonology, and of magic or sorcery (roughly categorized under protection, discovery, and manipulation). Discussion and analysis will be facilitated primarily by means of case studies drawn from original sources in translation. The related topics of Byzantine cosmology, science, and medicine will also necessarily be considered, as will the implications of this study for understanding broader Byzantine constructions of religious orthodoxy, unorthodoxy, and alterity. Although the roots of these traditions of belief, and the behaviors associated with them in the Ancient and Late Antique worlds, and their parallels in the surrounding cultures of the Middle East, the Balkans, and Western Europe, will contextualize discussion, the focus will be primarily in Roman Byzantium after the seventh and down to the fifteenth century. 

Department of History, Queen's University

49 Bader Lane, Watson Hall 212
Kingston ON K7L 3N6




Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.