SENINA T.A. (nun Kassia). Representation of the Iconoclast Emperors in the Byzantine Offices in Honour of the Confessors of Iconoduly


Tatiana A. Senina (nun Kassia)

Candidate of Sciences (Philosophy), Editor-in-Chief,

Saint Petersburg State University of Aerospace Instrumentation,

Bolshaya Morskaya St, 67, 190000 Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation;

Associate Research,

Sociological Institute, Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences,

7-ya Krasnoarmeyskaya St, 25/14, 190005 Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation

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Abstract. Introduction. Present article examines the representation of the iconoclast emperors in the Byzantine offices in honour of the confessors of iconoduly of the 8th – 9th centuries, and shows how this representation relates to the general view of icon-worshipers on the imperial power and its role in the spread of iconoclasm.

Methods. Methods employed in this article are source research, information analysis, and comparative research. Sources on the subject include the offices in honor of the saints of the iconoclastic era which contain mentions of the iconoclastic emperors, published in the printed Menaion in Greek and Church Slavonic, as well as in Analecta hymnica Graeca.

Analysis. An iconoclast emperor is usually represented by hymnographers as a tyrant, a lawless ruler, an enemy and persecutor of saints, godless and unholy, bestial and cruel, arrogant and daring, ignorant, insane and reckless, incurably sick with heresy; his teachings are hated by God, he is responsible for spreading the iconoclastic heresy. The term “tyrant” for the Byzantines meant a ruler who went against the law and the common good, preferring personal arbitrariness to the observance of laws, including church laws; a tyrant is the antipode of a legitimate emperor, his orders are illegal and criminal, and the overthrow of such an emperor is permissible. Therefore, the confessors of iconoduly are glorified for rejecting the orders and dogmas of the iconoclast emperors, and the death of such emperor is presented as the answer of God to the saints’ prayers confessors. For Byzantine hymnographers, the most odious figures among the six iconoclastic emperors in texts are Leo III and Leo V, as well as Constantine V; they are called by their names or nicknames in some hymnographic texts. Theophilus, thanks to his posthumous rehabilitation, escaped such a fate: he is nowhere called by name in the hymnographic texts, but he is anonymously reviled only in the offices in honour of Theophanes and Theodore Graptoi, who were tortured on his direct order.

Results. On the whole, this corresponds to the picture that can be seen in the iconodule literature of other genres, primarily in hagiographical texts. Hymnographic texts were constantly used during public worship and reached the ears of the wide masses of believers; therefore they have significant contributed to the spreading of a number of legends about icon-worshipers and iconoclasts and to the formation of the image of the iconoclastic era in the minds of the Byzantines.

Key words: Byzantine hymnography, Byzantine history, iconoclasm, iconoduly, iconoclast emperors.

Citation. Senina T.A. (nun Kassia). Representation of the Iconoclast Emperors in the Byzantine Offices in Honour of the Confessors of Iconoduly. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2022, vol. 27, no. 6, pp. 131-142. (in Russian). DOI:

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Representation of the Iconoclast Emperors in the Byzantine Offices in  Honour of the Confessors of Iconoduly by Senina T.A. (nun Kassia) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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