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By R. F Hoddinott

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Extra resources for Early Byzantine Churches in Macedonia and Southern Serbia: A Study of the Origins and the Initial Development of East Christian Art

Example text

However, it is indicative of the then relative strengths of Roman and Persian civilisations that this was not a two-way traffic in religious ideas. In Persia, Mithra never became a supreme deity and an Apollo cult was negligible or nonexistent. Alexander' s defeat ofDarius not only assured Hellenism its role as one of the formative influences in worId civilisation, it decided that the political and cultural centre of the Ancient W orId should be the eastem Mediterranean instead of Achaemenian Persia.

In retrospect, the glamour and attraction ofParthian Persia appears dim beside that exerted by its Sassanian successors, but, none the less, to a steadily increasing degree its influence was casting a speIl over almost every phase of contemporary Roman life. less the frontality which is such a strong characteristic ofParthian art reflected an ancient Iranian form. And, as can be seen from the excavations at Dura-Europos, this frontality appeared in Christian churches and Jewish synagogues as well as in pagan temples.

To-day, the Oriental cosmic clipeus that originally signified the impending apotheosis of the ancient Persian Cosmocrator still figures in Byzantine iconography. It is found in such scenes as the Dormition, the Transfiguration, the Judgement Day and the Ascension, where, although Christ is appearing to men, emphasis is placed upon His assumption of divinity rather than upon His earthly life. mortal being but the king, at his death, might approach the gods. The supreme god was Ahuramazda, the creator of heaven and earth.

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