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Pursuing salvation through a body of parchment: books and their significance in the illustrated homilies by Iakobos of Kokkinobaphos

Pursuing salvation through a body of parchment: books and their significance in the illustrated homilies by Iakobos of Kokkinobaphos

By Maria Evangelatou

Mediaeval Studies, Vol. 68 (2006)

Introduction: The present article is concerned with two Byzantine illustrated codices of the twelfth century and the information they provide on the use and symbolism of books in their cultural context. The two manuscripts in question are the so-called Kokkinobaphos homiliaries, codex graecus 1162 of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana in Vatican City and codex graecus 1208 of the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. They both include six homilies on the life of the Virgin written by Iakobos, monk of the Kokkinobaphos monastery, and are lavishly illustrated with an almost identical set of miniatures that are well known to Byzantinists for their superb artistic quality and iconographic peculiarities. Scholars have dated these manuscripts to the second quarter of the twelfth century, when Iakobos must have been still alive, and have related them to a most active patroness of the imperial family, the Sebastokratorissa Eirene (ca. 1110–1151/52), sister-in-law of the emperor Manuel Komnenos and wife of Sebastokrator Andronikos (1108/9–1143).

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