Event Description

This talk is about punishment and exclusion in the Byzantine world. I focus on a particular penalty—blinding—commonly used by Byzantium’s rulers to disqualify political rivals from positions of leadership. But despite its official justification as a merciful alternative to death, “political” blinding in Byzantium often backfired and provoked popular opposition. Drawing on insights from disability studies, I examine the sightless body as an unstable site of meaning: whether it reflected the compassion, or the injustice, of the state remained an open question. It is blinding’s ability to provoke controversy that illuminates persistent tensions across Byzantium’s millenary history.

Respondent: Brent Shaw, Andrew Fleming West Professor in Classics, Emeritus.

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Event Details

Nov 10, 2023, 12:00 pm1:20 pm
Events Venue
Scheide Caldwell House, Room 103