Sandro Nikolaishvili, Central European University (September 1, 2016 – January 15, 2017)

Reception of the Byzantine Political Culture and Literary Traditions in Medieval Georgia, ca 1030 –1213

 In this dissertation, I aim to uncover the ways in which Byzantine ideas of power representation were transmitted to the empire’s periphery and adopted by the Georgian rulers who legitimized their rule and promoted their image in this way. I intend to study the ideology of kingship/queenship of the following rulers: Bagrat IV (r.1027–72), Giorgi II (1072–89), Davit IV (r. 1089–1125), Giorgi III (r. 1156–84) and queen Tamar (r. 1184–1213).

My research is based on the comparative study of the various Greek and Georgian literary narratives (historiographical writings, prose and verse panegyrics) as well as imperial/royal imagery, numismatic material, and epigraphic inscriptions. I focus on the Georgian and Byzantine sources that reflect the offical image of the kings/emperors, by means of which Georgian and Byzantine rulers comunicated their image to the audience. In the Georgian encomiastic historical writings and panegyric poetry I trace the evolution of the ideology of rulership. I intend to see what methods Georgian literati applied in their narratives to construct the image of the ideal rulers. My interest lies in the ways they arranged their narratives, and in the style, language, metaphors and Classical and Biblical exempla that they used. I place the encomiastic Georgian historiography and court poetry in the context and compare it with the Byzantine literary narratives in order to discern to what extent Georgian tradition followed Byzantine rhetorical traditions. For instance, Georgian panegyric poems as well as historical narratives were, similarly to Byzantine encomia, heavily imbued with sun-like and Christ like image of the ruler. The royal imagery and the numismatic materials serve as the examples of understanding the extent to which the Georgian rulers adopted Byzantine iconography and language of power for their self-promotion.