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Johannes Of Gazas Tabula Mundi Revisited

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Chapter Summary

This chapter gives a brief presentation of the ekphrasis and the work of art it describes. It then tries to resolve the following questions: what was the location of the picture described by Johannes?Gaza or Antioch? Was it a mosaic or a painting? Were the Christian motifs an integral part of the original work of art, or is it possible that the figures Johannes describes as angels and a cross were not Christian figures at all but rather winged pagan personifications and a decorative motif to which he assigned Christian significance? Johannes?s ekphrasis and the depiction it describes are interesting because they reflect the encounter between Christian thought and the Classical tradition. A comparison of the picture in the bathhouse of Gaza (Tabula Mundi) with late Roman pagan cosmic depictions helps us to understand some modifications and innovations of the Classical tradition that can be found in Gaza.

Keywords: Christian motifs; ekphrasis; Johannes of Gaza; Mosaic; pagan cosmic depictions; Roman; Tabula Mundi



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