Belisarius (Beliusarius blinded, is recognized The Hearing #IV
by one of his soldiers) Oil on canvas,1781, Acrylic on Canvas
Jacques-Louis David 52" h x 52" w
Flavius Belisarius (505-565 ) Belisarius was one of the greatest generals of the Byzantine Empire and one of the greatest generals in history. He became a Byzantine soldier as a young man, serving in the bodyguard of the Emperor Justin I .
According to a story that seems to have developed during the Middle Ages , Justinian is said to have ordered Belisarius' eyes to be put out, and reduced him to the status of homeless beggar condemned to asking passers-by to "give an obolus to Belisarius" ( date obolum Belisario ), before pardoning him. Although most modern scholars believe the story to be apocryphal, after the publication of Jean-François Marmontel 's novel Bélisaire (1767 ), this account became a popular subject for progressive painters and their patrons in the later 18th century , who saw parallels between the actions of Justinian and the repression imposed by contemporary rulers.
The Belisarius series is a continuation of the theme, perpetuated by the myth, that Belisarius’ eyes were put out and he was left blind. The series is in part inspired, from a romanticized point of view, by the love triangle that supposedly existed between Belisarius, his wife, and an associate named Theodosius; some of which is reflected in the titles. It is also a theme that lends itself to my explorations in phenomenology, truth, doubt and ontology as a potential for “picturing” those interests.
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