Greek Speakers and Eastern Martyrs: The Greater Contexts of the Theodotus Chapel, Santa Maria Antiqua, Rome (741-752)
Joseph Kopta (BFA/MS)
This paper examines the broader contexts of the decorative program of the Theodotus Chapel in Santa Maria Antiqua, Rome. Byzantium’s influence on Rome’s artistic culture in the eighth century, in the midst of the iconoclastic controversy, significantly shaped the Theodotus Chapel’s style and iconography as a site of papal-court patronage. The substantial number of Greek-speaking immigrants to Rome during this period developed a cultural climate in which these frescoes could be executed in an orthodox milieu at a time when images of its kind were anathematized in the eastern Mediterranean. Through three broadly defined avenues of influence that shaped the pictorial program of the Theodotus Chapel- cultural, religious and political, and artistic- this paper demonstrates that the Theodotus Chapel frescoes belong to a Rome that interacted with and actively made use of Byzantine iconography.