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Αναζητώντας την εικόνα του Ελκομένου της Μονεμβασίας. Το χαμένο παλλάδιο της πόλης και η επίδρασή του στα υστεροβυζαντινά μνημεία του νότιου ελλαδικού χώρου

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Vassiliki Foskolou

Tracing the Monemvasia Icon of Christ Helkomenos. The City's lost Palladium and its Influence on the Late Byzantine Monuments of Southern Greece

The study's aim is to trace the now lost Monemvasia icon of Christ Helkomenos. Our knowledge of the city's celebrated palladium is confined to fragmentary information deriving from narrative sources. Specifically, we know that it was transferred by Isaac Comnenos to Constantinople in the late 12th century; as for the scene represented on the icon, our sole information comes from an epigram by John Apokaukos.

The written sources as well as some recent oral testimonies, reveal also the icon's importance to local tradition; this leads us to the thought that the famous icon might have influenced the artistic production of southern Greece. The research resulted to the conclusion that a specific iconographie type of Christ Helkomenos is widely diffused throughout the late Byzantine monuments of this area, especially of Laconia (Peloponnese). In this iconographie type, Jesus, wearing a red tunic and a crown of thorns, is standing facing the Cross, which is already fixed on the ground with a ladder standing against it. This basic notion is in some examples enriched with secondary figures such as Roman soldiers accompanying Jesus, or the Jewish prelate. The latter, pointing towards the symbol of Passion, is ordering Jesus to ascend, by the exclaiming word «ἀνάβηθι», which is usually inscribed at the background of the scene.

Since G. Millet's days (1916), scholars have already expressed assumptions regarding a probable relation between these depictions and the lost icon. However, having as a starting point the above -quite appealing- thought, and based on the currently available evidence, we must pose two questions, presented below.

The theme of Christ Helkomenos is depicted in Byzantine Art in two different iconographie forms. The theme, moreover, does not belong to the illustrations of the Great Feasts of the liturgical Calendar, which were usually represented in Byzantine icons. So the following question arises: Is it possible for the iconographie type found in Laconia to have been used for a devotional icon and, furthermore, to reflect the Monemvasia palladium?

If we accept a positive answer to the first question, we have then to answer the second one: in what way the icon, kept at the Archangel Michael Monastery en to Anaplo in Constantinople since the late 12th century, could have been used as a model for several monuments in its «native» land?

A brief review of the iconographic type's evolution, combined with research into Monemvasia's historical profile in the end of the 13th century, provides us with satisfactory answers to our questions and allows an approach to the city's legendary icon.


Λέξεις κλειδιά

Μονεμβασία; εικόνα Χριστού Ελκομένου; Λακωνία; Κωνσταντινούπολη

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