William of Moerbeke's Church at Merbaka: The Use of Ancient Spolia to Make Personal and Political Statements

by Guy D. R. Sanders

Hesperia, Volume 84, Issue 3
Page(s): 583-626
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2972/hesperia.84.3.0583
Year: 2015


William of Moerbeke, translator of Aristotle, Hero, Galen, and Archimedes, was present as a papal adviser and confessor at the Second Council of Lyons in 1274. On becoming Archbishop of Corinth in 1287, he was responsible for enacting the provisions of the council. His church at Merbaka in the Argolid contains specially selected ancient spolia. These blocks refer directly to the clauses of the council that suppressed piracy in the Aegean, reunited the Roman and Orthodox churches, and provided for the universal adoption of the contentious filioque clause in the Nicene Creed. The positive association of Merbaka with Moerbeke has wide-ranging archaeological ramifications.