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14. The “Court of Amorous Dominion” and the “Gate of Love”: Rituals of Empire in a Byzantine Romance of the Thirteenth Century

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the ceremonies and rituals in only one text, the anonymous Tale of Livistros and Rodamne (L&p;R). The romance was written most probably in the middle of the thirteenth century at the Laskarid Empire of Nicaea. The chapter argues that the sequence of Livistros' three dreams, found in the romance's first "chapter", represents a didactic ritual of initiation into love. It shows that this and other rituals and ceremonies one can find in the romance are, in fact, rituals of empire reflecting the image of a specific imperial ideology that firmly anchors the romance in a thirteenth-century political context. The action of L&p;R unfolds in a geographically fluid Eastern Mediterranean, without any appearance of Byzantine characters. Livistros's conviction is based on his belief that his two-year period of wandering is the guarantee of his vassal allegiance to the sovereign of Amorous Dominion.

Keywords: Amorous Dominion; Byzantine romance; court ceremonies; imperial ideology; Laskarid Empire; Livistros's conviction; love



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