The domestic sphere

Devotional practices were also incorporated into many aspects of home life, in city and countryside alike. There were blessings upon the house itself, when the foundation stone was laid, or when a family first entered a new home; on such occasions a priest would recite the appropriate prayers and sprinkle the house with holy water.34 Invocation of divine intercession and prayers of thanksgiving marked the daily routine, such as before and after meals, and at bedtime.35 There were also prayers appropriate to various stages of the lifecycle, especially at the beginning and end of life, blessings on the birth of a child, the child's first haircut, and his introduction to his letters.36 Women in labour might seekto receive Holy Communion before givingbirth.37 For adults there were prayers for forgiveness at times of severe illness and impending death.38

Other forms of private devotion such as singing of hymns, reading of scripture and other sacred writings, and the veneration of icons all might be carried out in the home. This can be seen at the highest level of society in the household of the emperor Alexios I Komnenos (1081-1118), whose mother, Anna Dalassene, set an example of piety for the rest of the imperial family. We are told by her granddaughter, Anna Komnene, that she spent much of the night in prayerful vigils and singing hymns; she insisted that there be set times for chanting of hymns by the household so that 'the palace assumed the appearance rather of a monastery'.39 Her daughter-in-law, Irene Doukaina, had to be torn away from her spiritual reading to sit down to meals; among her favourite

33 See, for example, Tsames, 0iAo6éouKrx>v<TTaVTivouvóÁ£(X>s, 373-7, 572-4, 579-80.

34 J. Goar, EúxoÁóyiov seu Rituale Graecorum (Venice: Bartholomaeus Javarina, 1730; reprinted Graz: AkademischeDruck-undVerlagsanstalt, 1960), 483-4. See also Lesregestes des actes du Patriarcat de Constantinople, ed. J. Darrouzes (Paris: Institut francais d'études byzantines, 1971), iv:i777, no. 8.

35 Goar, Euchologion, 529, 568-9.

37 Cf.V Grecu, Ducas: istoria Turco-Bizantina (1341-1462) ([Bucharest]: Editura Academiei Republicii Populaire Romine, 1958), 323-5.

38 Goar, Euchologion, 543-4, 549-50.

39 Anna Comnene, Alexiade, iii, viii, 3-4; ed. B. Leib (Paris: Belles Lettres, 1937), i, 125-6; ed. D. R. Reinsch [CFHB 40 (Series Berolinensis)] (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2001), 105-6.

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