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Title: Byzantium
Contributor(s): Garland, Lynda (author)
Publication Date: 2006
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Abstract: Although Byzantine society was undeniably patriarchal, attitudes toward women were ambivalent. They were arguably a marginalised group, strictly controlled within a patriarchal framework, and if there was no seclusion per se, at least separation of the genders was ideologically considered a norm. In theory women, as the inferior sex, were supposed to be seldom seen and never heard in public. They were denied the power of giving instruction in church and debarred from all priestly functions. Nevertheless, the church acknowledged that women were spiritually equal to men, and there were many well-known female martyrs and saints, while the Theotokos (the 'Mother of God') was always a central figure in the devotion of both men and women and was seen as the mediator between humanity and Christ. The icon of the Theotokos holding the Christ child, known as the Hodegetria, was one of the holiest relics in Constantinople. While virginity was considered to be a primary virtue for both men and women, unless women entered the monastic life their major functionswere expected to be marriage and the procreation of children. Motherhood was exalted in the cult of the Theotokos and infertility was thought to be a curse.
Publication Type: Entry In Reference Work
Source of Publication: Women and Gender in Medieval Europe: An Encyclopedia, p. 101-104
Publisher: Routledge
Place of Publication: New York, USA
ISBN: 9780415969444
Field of Research (FOR): 210306 Classical Greek and Roman History
HERDC Category Description: B2 Chapter in a Book - Other
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