Sacred Founders: Women, Men, and Gods in the Discourse of Imperial Founding, Rome through Early Byzantium
Diliana Angelova, associate professor in the Departments of History and History of Art, is a scholar of early Christian and Byzantine art. Sacred Founders explores deep continuities between the ancient and medieval worlds, and recovers a forgotten transformation in female imperial power.
Sacred Founders (UC Press, 2015) asserts that from the time of Augustus through early Byzantium, a discourse of "sacred founders"—grounded in the notion that imperial men and women were mirror images of the empire’s divine founders—helped legitimate the authority of the emperor and his family. Constantine and his formidable mother, Helena, initiated the Christian transformation of this discourse, which Angelova argues led to the empowerment of imperial women and a strengthening of the cult of the Virgin Mary. Sacred Founders presents a bold interpretive framework that unearths a forgotten transformation in female imperial power.
After an introduction by Thomas Laqueur (History), Angelova will speak briefly about her book and then open the floor for discussion.