Inspired by Istanbul Research Institute’s exhibition at Pera Museum titled “What Byzantinism Is This in Istanbul!”: Byzantium in Popular Culture, we invited artists, authors and musicians to converse with researchers of Byzantine history on how they have engaged with Byzantine history in their works. We explore the unearthly ways of appropriating Byzantine culture in unlikely mediums and genres, showing novel ways of engagement with Byzantine heritage in popular culture.
On Rotting Christ: Sakis Tolis, Jeremy J. Swist and Nikos Tragakis converse on the legendary band’s engagement with history
Jeremy J. Swist hosts Sakis Tolis of Rotting Christ and Nikos Tragakis. They venture into the appropriation of history in Greek metal scene, especially by Rotting Christ.
Jeremy J. Swist is a lecturer in the department of Classics at Brandeis University. His research interests lie in Greek and Imperial Roman historiography and rhetoric, Reception of Greece, Rome, and Byzantium in Heavy Metal Music among other things. He has given talks and published articles on the classical reception in heavy metal in various academic conferences and journals. His latest article, “Headbanging to Byzantium: The Reception of the Byzantine Empire in Heavy Metal Music,” appeared in the exhibition catalogue of “What Byzantinism Is This in Istanbul!”: Byzantium in Popular Culture. Jeremy is a prolific writer, and you can read his non-academic but still very insightful pieces at his blog Heavy Metal Classicist.
Nikos Tragakis is the vocalist of the band Exarsis, and a deputy editor and writer for Metal Hammer Greece.
Sakis Tolis, the founder and the frontman of Rotting Christ, which is a Greek black metal band founded by Sakis and his brother Themis back in 1987. The band has 13 full-length albums. With mythology-themed lyrics, and with music incorporating various folkloric elements, Rotting Christ creates his own myth in the metal scene. In 2018, Sakis and Dayal Patterson co-authored the story of the band: Non Serviam: The Official Story of Rotting Christ, named after their song Non Serviam.