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Listen to Her: Rewriting Virgin Martyrs as Orators in the Byzantine Passions on St Tatiana and St Ia

Alwis, Anne P (2023) Listen to Her: Rewriting Virgin Martyrs as Orators in the Byzantine Passions on St Tatiana and St Ia. In: de Temmerman, Koen and van Pelt, Julie and Staat, Klazina, eds. Constructing saints in Greek and Latin hagiography. Heroes and Heroines in Late Antique and Medieval Narrative. Fabulae. Narrative in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages . Brepols, Turnhout, pp. 79-103. ISBN 978-2-503-60282-0. E-ISBN 978-2-503-60283-7. (doi:10.1484/M.FABULAE-EB.5.132449) (KAR id:101121)

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The virgin martyr is a familiar heroine in Late-Antique hagiography, whose body and/or beauty is the catalyst for her martyrdom. For Byzantium, scholarship has tended to assume that she occupies a more subdued role since, given historical circumstances, no new virgin martyrs appeared. Those passions that were revised have mainly been analysed for information on the women’s resurrected cult or for linguistic interest. Examination of the rewritten Greek passions of the late-antique martyrs, St Tatiana of Rome (C8th-9th), a deaconess, and Ia of Persia (C13th), reveal women who were transformed into public orators. Technically, the stories follow a ‘standard’ plot whereby a beautiful, virginal girl is subjected to horrific tortures by a male aggressor. Tatiana’s antagonist is Emperor Alexander Severus whilst Ia’s is Shapur II. However, their revisers (an Anonymous and Makarios the monk, respectively) deliberately transformed their chosen martyrs partially by employing rhetorical and philosophical terminology. Each woman now becomes a new type of heroine, whose virtue is linked to, and expressed by, her facility with language. Her body and her beauty are now of little importance. Ia, in particular, has been transformed into an elderly woman. This paper will thus explore the notion of rewriting in tandem with these revisions to see how, and why, virginity and heroism have been reconceptualised.

Item Type: Book section
DOI/Identification number: 10.1484/M.FABULAE-EB.5.132449
Uncontrolled keywords: Rewriting; hagiography; gender; virgin martyrs; martyrdom; Late Antiquity; Byzantium; early Christianity
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D51 Ancient History
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
D History General and Old World > DE The Greco-Roman World
P Language and Literature
P Language and Literature > PA Classical philology
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN441 Literary History
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > Department of Classical and Archaeological Studies
Depositing User: Anne Alwis
Date Deposited: 01 May 2023 11:31 UTC
Last Modified: 02 May 2023 09:43 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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