Space Oddity? Praepositi Inscribing Power and Appropriating Cityscapes in Theodosian Constantinople
In this chapter, I discuss an epigraphic monument from early fifth-century Constantinople – a porphyry obelisk set up at a strategic point in the cityscape with a series of Greek versified inscriptions. The inscriptions were commissioned by a praepositus sacri cubiculi, and constitute a forceful, and ingenious, effort by a palatine office-holder, who drew his power from his intimate relationship with the emperor, to fashion a public space for himself that would match his covert, if not entirely private, exercise of immense power.
Mouselios substantially re-shaped the capital’s cityscape, appropriating its historical legacy in order to establish his own monumental presence on Constantinople’s symbolic map of power. He achieved this by spatially inscribing himself onto a key element of the Constantinopolitan cityscape, and by visually, linguistically, and symbolically marginalizing the building inscription of an urban prefect as the original dedicator of the obelisk.