A Byzantine bulge and Byzantine buttocks

Plus, the bulge is male and the buttocks are female — well, of course, that’s just projection vs. concavity — though both are imperial.

That would be the Byzantine boxer shorts, recently listed on Etsy, from source TheOldNorth:


(#1) Front view: the Emperor Justinian, in a mosaic of his time


(#2) Rear view: the Empress Theodora, ditto

(hat tip: from Bert Vaux on Facebook yesterday)

The Etsy description:

Everyone’s favourite Byzantine Imperial Couple on your pants… Justinian and Theodora.

These boxer briefs are made from a soft and stretchy material that ensures comfort throughout the day. The boxer briefs have no back seam, and they feature a lined front pouch for extra comfort and support.

Note: what is underwear? If the boxer briefs had a fly, they would be irrevocably underwear, and so not decent to wear in public. These garments have no fly, but they are normally worn right next to the skin, so they would not technically be wearable as, for example, gym shorts, unless you had a jockstrap or some minimal briefs on underneath.

Of course, you could probably get away with these as gym shorts, or maybe swimming trunks, since they won’t inadverently expose any of your dangly bits (and they have a lined pouch).

Justinian and Theodora. And now back to the 6th century. From Wikipedia:

Justinian I (c. 482 – 14 November 565), also known as Justinian the Great, was the Byzantine emperor from 527 to 565.

His reign is marked by the ambitious but only partly realized renovatio imperii, or “restoration of the Empire”. Because of his restoration activities, Justinian has sometimes been known as the “Last Roman” in mid-20th century historiography.

… [One] aspect of his legacy was the uniform rewriting of Roman law, the Corpus Juris Civilis, which is still the basis of civil law in many modern states. His reign also marked a blossoming of Byzantine culture, and his building program yielded works such as the Hagia Sophia. He is called “Saint Justinian the Emperor” in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

And on the Hagia Sophia, from Wikipedia:


(#2) (image from the Independent)

Hagia Sophia, officially the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque and formerly the Church of Hagia Sophia, is a Late Antique place of worship in Istanbul. Built in 537 as the patriarchal cathedral of the imperial capital of Constantinople, it remained the largest church of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, except from 1204 to 1261 when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral.

In 1453, after the Ottoman Empire took over the city, Muslims converted it into a mosque [hence, the minarets in the photo]. In 1935 Turkey established it as a secular museum. In 2020, Turkey re-established Islamic worship here and re-opened it as a mosque [as part of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s larger program to desecularize Turkish society].

Completed during the reign of the eastern Roman emperor Justinian I, the church was then the world’s largest interior space and among the first to employ a fully pendentive dome. It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have “changed the history of architecture”.

Then to Theodora. From Wikipedia:

Theodora (c. 500 – 28 June 548) was an Eastern Roman empress by marriage to Emperor Justinian. She became empress upon Justinian’s accession in 527 and was one of his chief advisers, albeit from humble origins. Along with her spouse, Theodora is a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church, commemorated on 14 November.

… Her involvement in helping underprivileged women was substantial, being “known for buying girls who had been sold into prostitution, freeing them, and providing for their future.” She closed brothels and made pimping a criminal offense. She created a convent on the Asian side of the Dardanelles called the Metanoia (Repentance), where the ex-prostitutes could support themselves. … [The chronicler] John Malalas … wrote she “freed the girls from the yoke of their wretched slavery.” A century later, John of Nikiu observed its positive impact, noting that Theodora “put an end to the prostitution of women”.

Justinian’s legislations also expanded the rights of women in divorce and property ownership, instituted the death penalty for rape, forbade exposure of unwanted infants, gave mothers some guardianship rights over their children, and forbade the killing of a wife who committed adultery.

Together, Theodora and Justinian did much to advance the rights of women in their time, some 15 centuries ago.

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