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San Vitale Mosiac Theodora and Justinian

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I would really like to hear opinions and facts on these two very famous mosaics located in Ravenna Italy. Some believe that on Justinian's left is Narses and on the right is Belisarius but who is on the right of Belisarius? I always thought it could be Germanus Justinian's cousin. The Theodora mosiac is quite fascinating because we see obviously Comita but who are the two soldiers on Theodora's right? Can anyone help me as too who were her personal eunchs or generals that were that close to be in a mosiac with her? I was wondering if one was the posthumous Sittas (Comitas's husband) and maybe John (Vitalian's nephew) I dont know the dates of when the mosaics were made??

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I'd love to hear something on this too. I've poked around the web, but I've never found any speculation on who is who in these mosaics, apart from the obvious.


I was partly sparked to investigate this because of Guy Gavriel Kay's "Sailing to Sarantium" series, which fills in the blanks about who is in the mosaic, but I assume it's all made up.

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I have a copy of Giuseppe Bovini's, Ravenna: Art and History, Longo Publisher, Ravenna (English Ed) 1991(?). Unfortunately, not much more light is shed in that work.


The names supplied for the Emperor fresco:


Bishop Maximian.


Between the Emperor and the Bishop: "We do not know precisely who he was; some critics have suggested that he is Julianus Argentarius [...] but recently this supposition has been doubted as improbable, and the latest theory [...] is that here we see the "Praefectus Praetorio of Italy, the high functionary who represented the imperial authority at the consecration of the Church[...]" (p. 44)


The Theodora fresco:


"She is preceded by two civil dignitaries and is followed by a crowd of court ladies" (p. 44)


An attempt has been made two name the two expressive ladies,


"A not improbable theory identifies them as Antonina and Giovannina, wife and daughter of Belisaurius[...]; this is all the more likely as we learn from the historian Procopius of Caesarea, that they were the Empress's intimate friends." (p. 48)


The Church of San Vitale was consecrated in 547 (possibly 548). Construction began under the Goths by the Bishop Ecclesius. However, the work does not state when the frescoes were completed. If you can get your hands on the book, by all means do so; it is a pictorial work (not just S. Vitale, but also of St Apollinaire etc) and I treasure it like you wouldn't believe. The pictures taken of all the mosaics are exquisite and some details of the mosaics are truly breathtaking.

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