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Chapter 5 - ‘For Every Blade Was Red’

War and Bloodshed in the Iohannis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 October 2023

Andy Merrills
Affiliation:
University of Leicester
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Summary

Chapter 5 examines Corippus’ accounts of military activity, his battle narratives and his use of violent imagery. The first part of this chapter discusses the likely sequence of John’s campaigns in 546, 547 and 548. Certain conclusions are drawn regarding the size of John’s army, its constitution and the strategic goals he followed, as well as Moorish fighting practices in the same period.The second part of the chapter considers the long battle accounts within the Iohannis, and the political function they may have had. Stylized combat sequences were a very common feature of Greek and Latin epic, and Corippus added new and visceral imagery to the poetic repertoire. Violent imagery of battle was a display of poetic virtuosity, but also a means to address the ambiguities of ‘Moorish’ identity and political fealty. Battle clarified loyalties – and hence identities – in a manner that was not otherwise possible. Violent imagery accentuated this process, essentially transforming the ‘good’ Moors into heroes, (and so comparable to their Roman allies), and the ‘bad’ into abject and dismembered body parts. If the Iohannis was intended to reconstitute the body politic in North Africa, it frequently did so in an unusually literal manner.

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War, Rebellion and Epic in Byzantine North Africa
A Historical Study of Corippus' <i>Iohannis</i>
, pp. 172 - 215
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • ‘For Every Blade Was Red’
  • Andy Merrills, University of Leicester
  • Book: War, Rebellion and Epic in Byzantine North Africa
  • Online publication: 12 October 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009392013.007
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  • ‘For Every Blade Was Red’
  • Andy Merrills, University of Leicester
  • Book: War, Rebellion and Epic in Byzantine North Africa
  • Online publication: 12 October 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009392013.007
Available formats
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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • ‘For Every Blade Was Red’
  • Andy Merrills, University of Leicester
  • Book: War, Rebellion and Epic in Byzantine North Africa
  • Online publication: 12 October 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009392013.007
Available formats
×