Magnaura

   A reception hall adjacent to the Great Palace in Constantinople (qq.v.), to the east of the Augustaion (q.v.). It was a basilica (q.v.) of three aisles and galleries. The central aisle terminated in a flight of six stairs that led to an apse (q.v.) where the famous throne of Solomon was placed. It was here that the emperor (q.v.) presided at state receptions and where he greeted foreign ambassadors. Theophilos (q.v.) is said to have had Leo the Mathematician (q.v.) construct automata to impress foreign visitors, including a mechanism that could suddenly raise the enthroned emperor nearly to the ceiling. Liutprand of Cremona (q.v.) reports that when this happened, bronze lions beside the throne opened their jaws and roared, beating their tails upon the ground, while mechanical birds fluttered and sang from a golden plane tree, each singing a different tune. Two gold organs played while visitors entered and exited. During the reign of Michael III, Caesar Bardas (qq.v.) organized a school in the Magnaura, where Leo the Mathematician taught.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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