September 19, 2011

Ancient Greek Philosophers In An Orthodox Monastery

One of the best ways to interpret the Orthodox position on a matter is to see how it is depicted in its artistic and liturgical life. When it comes to certain Ancient Greek writers and philosophers, many are honored with iconographic depictions that are usually only allowed in the narthex of churches and depicted without halos of sanctification. These can be seen especially in northern Greece in places like Ioannina and even Mount Athos (Vatopaidi, Great Lavra, etc.). These frescoes were initially done during the Turkish occupation, and since Secret Schools gathered in the narthex of churches for the education of Greek Christians, ancient writers were portrayed to aid in their education.

One example of such iconography can be viewed in the frescoes adorning Great Meteoron Monastery in Meteora, Greece. They can be seen prior to entering the church. Depicted are Solon, Sybil, Socrates, Plutarch, Homer, Thucydides, Plato, and Aristotle. Next to them is St. Justin the Philosopher with a halo, because he was a holy Christian and died a martyrs death in the second century.

Read also: Byzantine Frescoes of Ancient Philosophers