Virginity Recast : Romanos and the Mother of God

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The Virgin Mary has always stood out in the Christian scenery, yet in ever-changing guises. This study explores the characterization of the Virgin in the poetic works of Romanos the Melodist (ca. 490–560), the great composer of the so-called kontakion. Written for liturgical use, these dramatic songs soon became well-known and immensely popular. The most famous ones reveal a remarkable interest in and concern with the person of Mary, making the œuvre of Romanos both a pinnacle and a crux in the Mariological writings of sixth-century Constantinople.

What notions of the Virgin did his poetry evoke, as it made her tangible to the congregated assembly? The kontakia are dedicated to various festal occasions, but the ones discussed in the present volume share a concentration on the Mother of God. Committed to a close reading of the hymns, the study is able to show that Romanos’ Mary appears neither as an ascetic virgin nor as a dogmatic virgin; in his songs we encounter a fertile Mother who mediates between Heaven and Earth, with parrhesia and power. Rather than a model or an object of contemplation she emerges as a relational figure to whom the Constantinopolitan people may turn for support and salvation.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Church and Mission Studies
  • Rubenson, Samuel, Supervisor
Award date2014 Mar 7
Print ISBNs9789174738469
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2014-03-07
Time: 13:15
Place: CTR

External reviewer(s)

Name: Krueger, Derek
Title: Professor
Affiliation: The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA


The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Centre for Theology and Religious Studies (015017000)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Philosophy, Ethics and Religion


  • Saint 6th cent
  • Romanus Melodus
  • Hymns
  • Greek (Byzantine)
  • Virgin Mary – History of doctrines – 030–600
  • Virgin Mary – Annunciation
  • Virgin Mary – veneration
  • Bible – use in hymns
  • Akathists
  • Hymns – Theology
  • Theotokos
  • Nativity
  • Byzantine rite – Liturgy
  • Kontakion
  • Mariology
  • Orthodox Eastern Church – Liturgy
  • Orthodox Eastern Church – Hymns
  • Body
  • Human – religious aspects – Christianity
  • Late Antiquity
  • asceticism
  • breast feeding
  • gender and sexuality issues
  • Justinian Era.


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