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The David Plates Revisited: Transforming the Secular in Early Byzantium

Ruth E. Leader
The Art Bulletin
Vol. 82, No. 3 (Sep., 2000), pp. 407-427
Published by: College Art Association
DOI: 10.2307/3051395
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3051395
Page Count: 21
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The David Plates Revisited: Transforming the Secular in Early Byzantium
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Abstract

The conventional interpretation of the set of nine early seventh-century silver plates known as the David Plates sees them as an allegory of events in the reign of the Byzantine emperor Heraclius (610-41 C.E.). This article challenges such readings and argues that the plates can best be understood in terms of the Christianization of late Roman silver's tradition of depicting mythological heroes so as to appeal to the common educational culture (paideia) of their elite owners and viewers. From this perspective, they shed new light on Byzantium's transformation of the secular visual culture of the Roman Empire.

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