Looking at and Listening to Byzantium

BY Leslie Brubaker

The pen is mightier than the sword—but a picture is worth a thousand words. So which is more powerful — words or images? The medieval Byzantine world offers valuable insight into the complex relationship between words and visual images.

This discourse traces the tenuous relationship between visual and verbal communications in Byzantium. As a largely illiterate society, the Byzantines were very aware of the visual aspect of communicating and the subject is mentioned in the writings of Basil of Caesarea, John of Damascus, Eustathios of Thessalonike, and George Pachymeres. But Byzantine texts seem to indicate images as the m... View Full Summary