2019-04Thematic Section
An Image of Power in Transition: St. George Slaying Diocletian and the War of Images


This essay discusses the mounted image of St. George slaying an emperor within the broader context of how and why early Christian images were transformed and adapted to the early Byzantine religious style. The representational framework of Arthur Danto’s philosophical system is used to tie together the threads of this research. By drawing parallels between changes in contemporary art and culture – often referred to as the modern/postmodern shift – and the transition of the Hellenistic to the Byzantine era, structures common to artistic creation and reception are brought to the fore. The case study presents the history of the depiction of St. George slaying Diocletian, how it emerged in the Caucasus region, and the manner in which it reflects the stylistic changes that took place in the late antique eastern Roman world. The social, cultural and philosophical ramifications of the shift of high classical art to the early Byzantine style are laid out in terms of art, modes of inquiry, and action-orientation. A theory is presented on what role the image of St. George killing Diocletian may have played in transforming the late antique and early medieval worldview. The final section sketches a philosophical framework that supports the conclusions of this research.


Arthur Danto, early Christian art, Byzantine art, Georgian sculpture, action-orientation, worldview, transformation

How to cite:

Snyder, Stephen. “An Image of Power in Transition: St. George Slaying Diocletian and the War of Images.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 3, no. 4(10) (2019): 67-100. https://doi.org/10.14394/eidos.jpc.2019.0043.


Stephen Snyder
Boğaziçi University


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