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Narrating Martyrdom: Rewriting Late-Antique Virgin Martyrs in Byzantium

Alwis, Anne P. (2020) Narrating Martyrdom: Rewriting Late-Antique Virgin Martyrs in Byzantium. Translated Texts for Byzantinists . Liverpool University Press, Liverpool, UK, 210 pp. ISBN 978-1-78962-155-6. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:79559)

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This book reconceives the praxis of rewriting Byzantine hagiography between the eighth and fourteenth centuries as a skilful initiative in communication and creative freedom, and as a form of authorship. Three men – Makarios (late C13th-C14th), a monk; Constantine Akropolites (d.c.1324), a statesman; and an Anonymous educated wordsmith (c. C9th) – each opted to rewrite the martyrdom of a female virgin saint who suffered and died centuries earlier. Their adaptations, respectively, were of St. Ia of Persia (modern-day Iran) (BHG 762), St. Horaiozele of Constantinople (BHG 2180), and St. Tatiana of Rome (BHG 1699b). By tracking and evaluating the modifications made between earlier existing editions and the later versions of the texts, we see that Makarios, Akropolites, and the Anonymous knowingly tailored their compositions to influence an audience and to foster their individual interests. The implications arising from these studies are far-reaching: this monograph considers the agency of the hagiographer, the instrumental use of the authorial persona and its impact on the audience, and hagiography as a layered discourse. The book also provides the first translations and commentaries of the martyrdoms of saints Ia, Horaiozele, and Tatiana.

Although Ia is described as a victim of the persecutions of the Persian Shahanshah/king, Shapur II (309–79 C.E), Makarios manipulates the historical context of her martyrdom to invoke the events of post 1204, the Fall of Constantinople, and the Fourth Crusade. Tatiana, we are told, was a deaconess, martyred during the reign of emperor Alexander Severus (222–35 C.E). Here, her narrative may function variously and contrarily, as an iconophile text, an iconoclast polemic or even as a response to Arab invasions. Akropolites fashions Horaiozele into a sounding board for his fears about discord within the Church and the threat posed to Byzantium by the ongoing Turkish invasion and migrations. This is despite the fact that this virgin was allegedly a disciple of St Andrew and killed anachronistically under Decius (249–51 C.E).

Item Type: Book
Uncontrolled keywords: Byzantium, hagiography, saints, rewriting, narratology, focalisation, virgin martyrs, authorship
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible
D History General and Old World > DE The Greco-Roman World
P Language and Literature > PA Classical philology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Anne Alwis
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2020 09:52 UTC
Last Modified: 06 Aug 2020 09:43 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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