Smashing God‘s Face: Art, Theology and Violence in the Byzantine Empire

This essay explores ways in which sources might demonstrate closer congruence than has previously been considered of the infamous iconoclast Emperor Leo and the theology of the iconoclasts to the iconodule position. Hagiographic, historical and legal sources are consulted to consider the context within which Leo‘s position will emerge; second, through analysis of select theological documents of both iconoclasts and iconodules—texts roughly contemporary with Leo‘s actions against icons—this essay addresses how structures held as ‗iconic‘ by the iconoclasts are understood within the theology of the iconodules in a manner similar to the iconoclasts, and concludes with a call for a reconsideration of the iconoclastic and heresiarch titles which Leo has borne, in addition to that of “emperor.”