Duhaime's LawGallery - The Law In Pictures


Justinian at Ravenna

  • Object type: Other
  • Formal Title: unknown
  • Creator: unknown
  • Date Created: 547
  • Origin: Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy
  • Current Location: Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy

The mosaic is actually little coloured stone squares affixed together. The life-like portrayal of Justinian exudes so much life that historians debate whether it is based on his real appearances. Justinian's contribution to Roman and civil law was significant.

In the mosaic, Justinian, crowned, is surrounded by religious leaders on his left, and his imperial guard on his far right. Much has been made of the fact that he is surrounded by 12 "disciples" and that he has religious officials on one side, and secular on the other, just as he balanced his government and, for that matter, his personality.

Ravenna had been the capital of the Roman Empire from 402 to 493, when it was overtaken by Ostrogoths.

In May of 540, under Justinian and his general Belisarius, the Romans retook Ravenna. This mosaic was created about seven years later. According to P. Hunt, who wrote Byzantine Art as Propaganda: Justinian and Theodora at Ravenna:

"The officials (in the mosaic) cannot be easily named, although ... Belisarius (is) most likely the bearded man on the left wearing the purple and with the insignia on his right shoulder."

This page has been viewed 11664 times.