Narrating Power and Authority in Late Antique and Medieval Hagiography across East and West (Fabulae) (Fabulae, 1) 9782503590653, 2503590659

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Narrating Power and Authority in Late Antique and Medieval Hagiography across East and West (Fabulae) (Fabulae, 1)
 9782503590653, 2503590659

Table of contents :
List of Illustrations
Notes on Transliteration
Part 1: Saints at the Courts of Rulers
Between Emperor and Caliph
The Representation of Power Relations in the Life of John of Damascus
Petros Tsagkaropoulos
The Caliph, the Jew, and the Bishop
Power and Religious Controversy in the Georgian Life of John of Edessa
Damien Labadie
Whose Dream Comes True?
Negotiation of Primacy in the ‘Legend of Theodosius and Theophilus’
Maria Conterno
Part 2: Authority at the Cross-Sections of Society
Getting Naked for God
Social and Juridical Implications of Renouncing Female Vanities in the Vitae of Mystics of Medieval Italy
Federica Boldrini
Zoroaster’s Legend in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages
Carlo G. Cereti
Who’s the Authority Around Here?
Zoroastrians as Sites of Negotiation in ʿAṭṭār’s Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ and Ilāhīnāmah
Ghazzal Dabiri
Part 3: Mapping the Terrain of Power
Two Churches, Two Saints, One Island
The Narrative Construction of a Conflict between Tamasos and Salamis (Cyprus) through Heracleides and Barnabas
Maïeul Rouquette
Strangers in a Strange Land
Alienation, Authority, and Powerlessness in Georgian Hagiography (Tenth–Eleventh Century)
Nikoloz Aleksidze
State Power, Hagiography, and the Social Shape of the Past
Re-Reading the Gesta Martyrum Romanorum
Jason Moralee
Part 4: Negotiating Power and Authority
Disguising Himself or Describing the Other?
Muslim-Christian Encounters and Narratives of Sarı Saltuk in Ottoman Times
Sibel Kocaer
Power and Prophecy in Late Antique Hagiography
The Life of Saint Daniel the Stylite
Fabrizio Petorella
The Accommodating Queen
The Miracles of the Virgin Mary in the Legenda Aurea
Jeremiah A. Lasquety-Reyes

Citation preview

Narrating Power and Authority in Late Antique and Medieval Hagiography across East and West

FABULAE Narrative in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

Volume 1 General Editor Koen De Temmerman, Ghent University Editorial Board Christa Gray, University of Reading Scott Fitzgerald Johnson, University of Oklahoma Ulrich Marzolph, Georg-August-University, Göttingen Helen Moore, Corpus Christi College Oxford Lars Boje Mortensen, University of Southern Denmark, Odense Ingela Nilsson, Uppsala University

Narrating Power and Authority in Late Antique and Medieval Hagiography across East and West

Edited by Ghazzal Dabiri


Left cover image: Detail from ‘Sultan Sanjar and the Old Woman’, New York, The Met, bequest of Adrienne Minassian, 1994, Accession Number: 1997.295a, folio from a Khamsa (Quintet) of Nizami. Early sixteenth century. Image in the Public Domain. Right cover image: Giovanni di Paolo, The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine of Siena, New York, The Met, bequest of Lore Heinemann, in memory of her husband, Dr. Rudolf J. Heinemann, 1996, Accession Number: 1997.117.2. c. fifteenth century. Image in the Public Domain.

© 2021, Brepols Publishers n. v., Turnhout, Belgium. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission of the publisher. D/2021/0095/41 ISBN 978-2-503-59065-3 eISBN 978-2-503-59066-0 DOI 10.1484/M.FABULAE-EB.5.120904 Printed in the EU on acid-free paper.

Table of Contents



List of Illustrations


Notes on Transliteration


Introduction Ghazzal Dabiri13 Part 1 Saints at the Courts of Rulers Between Emperor and Caliph: The Representation of Power Relations in the Life of John of Damascus Petros Tsagkaropoulos29 The Caliph, the Jew, and the Bishop: Power and Religious Controversy in the Georgian Life of John of Edessa Damien Labadie43 Whose Dream Comes True? Negotiation of Primacy in the ‘Legend of Theodosius and Theophilus’ Maria Conterno59 Part 2 Authority at the Cross-Sections of Society Getting Naked for God: Social and Juridical Implications of Renouncing Female Vanities in the Vitae of Mystics of Medieval Italy Federica Boldrini71 Zoroaster’s Legend in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages Carlo G. Cereti85


ta bl e o f co n t e n t s

Who’s the Authority Around Here? Zoroastrians as Sites of Negotiation in ʿAṭṭār’s Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ and Ilāhīnāmah Ghazzal Dabiri103 Part 3 Mapping the Terrain of Power Two Churches, Two Saints, One Island: The Narrative Construction of a Conflict between Tamasos and Salamis (Cyprus) through Heracleides and Barnabas* Maïeul Rouquette121 Strangers in a Strange Land: Alienation, Authority, and Powerlessness in Georgian Hagiography (Tenth–Eleventh Century) Nikoloz Aleksidze133 State Power, Hagiography, and the Social Shape of the Past: Re-Reading the Gesta Martyrum Romanorum Jason Moralee153 Part 4 Negotiating Power and Authority Disguising Himself or Describing the Other? Muslim-Christian Encounters and Narratives of Sarı Saltuk in Ottoman Times Sibel Kocaer167 Power and Prophecy in Late Antique Hagiography: The Life of Saint Daniel the Stylite Fabrizio Petorella183 The Accommodating Queen: The Miracles of the Virgin Mary in the Legenda Aurea Jeremiah A. Lasquety-Reyes197 Index



The present volume is based on the international conference, ‘Narrating Power and Authority in Late Antique and Medieval Hagiography from East to West’, that was held in Rome, Italy at the Academia Belgica in February 2018. The goal of the conference was to bring together a diverse group of scholars working on the various hagiographical traditions of the late antique and medieval periods to challenge commonly held notions about how power and authority are articulated and to what possible aims. The conference was generously funded by the European Research Council (Starting Grant n° 337344 Novel  Saints) with additional support by the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO), Academia Belgica, Commission Scientific Research (CWO) – Ghent University, and Henri Pirenne Institute at Ghent University. Many wonderful discussions emerged at the conference, and I wholeheartedly thank the participants for their insightful papers. Various people lent their support during the planning stages of the conference to whom I owe a debt of gratitude: Carlo Cereti, Chantal Verween, Lotte Van Olmen, and Federica Boldrini for going above and beyond to provide logistical support, Jeroen Deploige, the director of the Henri Pirenne Institute, for his encouragement and support, and Marc Van Uytfanghe for his enthusiasm for the conference and its outcomes. My heartfelt thanks go to Julie Van Pelt and Klazina Staat for their moral support in the weeks and days leading up to the conference but also for their friendship throughout my time in Belgium. Though time and space precluded it, it would have been an honour to publish the entire proceedings of the conference. I wish to express my utmost gratitude to the contributors of this volume for their engaging scholarship and for trusting me with their work. I would like to acknowledge the European Research Council, Ghent University, and Koen De Temmerman and to thank them for the opportunity to dig deeper into the narrative worlds of late antique and medieval hagiographers without which the conference, and, hence the volume, would not have come to fruition. My thanks also go to the editorial board and the anonymous reviewer for their support for the publication of this volume, and Sarah Thomas for her attentive editing. My deepest thanks go to Guy Carney at Brepols for his enthusiasm for the project and for being a superb guide in the process to publication. Words fail to express the extent and depth of my gratitude to Lizette Gabriel for her unconditional support; to Maria Conterno whose friendship I treasure and for reading an early draft of the introduction and my chapter; to Flavia Ruani whose friendship sustained me during our time in the Blandijn;


ack n owl e d g e m e n t s

to Keisha Newell and Gillian Dwyer Pridgen for lovingly cheering me on; and to Gorgy for the laughs. My family is my greatest source of strength. I am grateful to them each and every day for all the ways they show their support for me but especially to my parents, Mahroo and Mahmoud, for teaching and showing me and my siblings, Ganary and Iman, that true power lies in being of service to others and the greater good.

List of Illustrations

Figure 1.

Dieric Bouts, Coronation of the Virgin, Wien, Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien. c. 1450. Reproduced with the permission of the Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien. Figure 2. Jan van Eyck, Virgin and Child with Canon van der Paele, Brugge, Musea Brugge. 1436. Reproduced with the permission of the Musea Brugge,, photo Hugo Maertens. Figure 3. Jan van Eyck, Madonna of Chancellor Rolin, Paris, Réunion des musées nationaux – Grand Palais. c. 1430. Reproduced with the permission of bpk | RMN – Grand Palais | Gérard Blot.




Notes on Transliteration

For the transliteration of Arabic, Ottoman Turkish, and Persian, the United States Library of Congress System of Romanization has been adopted, except for words and proper names known commonly in English. The same system has been adopted for Georgian in Nikoloz Aleksidze’s chapter while the system in Heinz Fähnrich’s Grammatik der altgeorgischen Sprache (Hamburg: Buske, 1994) is used in Damien Labadie’s chapter. For Middle Persian, the transliteration system in D. N. MacKenzie’s A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary (London: Oxford University Press, 1971; reprinted with corrections 1986) has been adopted.

Ghazzal Dabiri


According to the first story in the Tazḵ irat al-awliyāʾ (Memorial of God’s Friends), one night, the Abbasid caliph, Manṣūr (d. 775), summons his vizier. Manṣūr orders him to bring Jaʿfar Ṣādiq (d. 765), the sixth Shiʿite Imam, before him so that he can put him to death. The vizier tries to convince Manṣūr that the imam poses no threat to the caliph, living as he does far from society and having renounced all earthly power. But, to no avail. The vizier, resigned, takes his leave. Then, Manṣūr instructs his servants to execute the imam when he removes his hat. Shortly thereafter, the imam is brought before the caliph, who immediately jumps up from his throne, runs to Ṣādiq, brings the latter to the throne, and sits him on it, asking what he can do for him. The imam says, ‘You can stop summoning me before you and let me go back to serving the mighty and glorious Lord’.1 The caliph then faints and is out for three days.2 After he comes to, the confused servants ask Manṣūr what had happened that caused him to faint. Manṣūr responds that when the imam appeared, so too did a dragon who held the caliph and his throne between his jaws and said, ‘“If you harm him, I will swallow you up along with this throne”. I was so afraid of the dragon that I didn’t know what I was saying. I apologized to Sādeq and fainted’.3 The tale then abruptly ends at this humbling, albeit rather humorous, juncture for Manṣūr. Similar to the rulers of innumerable hagiographies, the caliph, in this tale, has the power to summon and execute his subjects at will. Likewise, however, his ability to put to death a spiritual authority figure is thwarted by no less than the divine. As a result, the bloodthirsty ruler is rendered ineffectual or, more aptly, powerless in his aim. The spiritual authority figure, hence, emerges

1 Farīd al-Dīn ʿAṭṭār, Memorial of God’s Friends, trans. by Losensky, p. 48. (Farīd al-Dīn ʿAṭṭār, Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ, ed. by Istiʿlāmī, p. 12). 2 Or for the length of three daily prayers. ʿAṭṭār informs us that there are different accounts of the duration. 3 ʿAṭṭār, Memorial of God’s Friends, p. 12. (ʿAṭṭār, Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ, p. 13). Ghazzal Dabiri  •  is an Iranist whose research focuses on late antique and medieval narratives of kingship, kinship, and sainthood. Narrating Power and Authority in Late Antique and Medieval Hagiography across East and West, ed. by Ghazzal Dabiri, FABULAE 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2021), pp. 13–25 © FHG10.1484/M.FABULAE-EB.5.122488


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unscathed from the contest with the recently humiliated ruler and is given leave to carry on with his devotions. The tale, composed by the prodigious Sufi hagiographer and poet, Farīd al-Dīn ʿAṭṭār (d. c. 1222),4 thus, adopts one of the most popular themes found in late antique and medieval hagiographies, namely, the deficiencies and/or lowliness of temporal power apropos to spiritual authority and divine power.5 Nevertheless, the tale subtly upholds the authority of the caliph — khalīfat Allāh (God’s viceregent) — who is also the amīr al-muʾminīn (Commander of the Faithful). And it does so by upending the expectations that this theme and tale-type generate. Upon closer inspection, it becomes abundantly clear that the tale is, indeed, highly marked. First, we should bear in mind that in the introduction, ʿAṭṭār states his intent to relate the sayings and deeds of God’s friends (saints)6 with the express purpose of aiding himself and his audience in their spiritual development.7 Second, and relatedly, the tale appears in the section devoted specifically to the imam.8 It is, thus, peculiar that the first saying of one of God’s prominent friends is encapsulated in a tale which pits a caliph against an imam, both of whom hold near equal claims to religious authority and legitimate rulership, or power, by virtue of being direct descendants of the prophet Muḥammad (the imam) or his relatives (the caliph).9 Turning our

4 Sufism is the prominent form of Islamic mysticism. For an introduction to Sufism, see Chittick, Sufism. 5 This is a common theme that also courses throughout early medieval Islamic histories and practical ethics. 6 ‘Saint’ is the nearest equivalent term used to translate awliyāʾ (‘God’s friends’), Abraham’s well-known epithet, which connotes a closeness to God. For more on the equivalency between ‘saint’ and ‘awliyāʾ’, see Cornell, Realm of the Saint, pp. xvii–xxix and Abun-Nasr, Muslim Communities of Grace, pp. 1–6. 7 ʿAṭṭār lists eight reasons in all. ʿAṭṭār, Memorial of God’s Friends, pp. 39–46. (ʿAṭṭār, Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ, pp. 3–10). 8 The fact that this tale revolves around a Shiʿite imam, a direct descendant of ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib (601–661), the prophet Muḥammad’s cousin, son-in-law, early convert to Islam, and fourth caliph is interesting but not especially marked in terms of our current aims. Ṣādiq was highly respected among the many political, juridical, and theological factions of the time and, as ʿAṭṭār states in his introduction to the imam’s chapter, Ṣādiq was ‘the sultan of the people of Muhammad, the proof of prophetic argument, the trustworthy scholar, the world of verity, the lifeblood of God’s friends, the heartbeat of prophets…the knowing lover…’ and just as importantly, ‘he has said the most about the path’ of the Sufis. (Italics mine) ʿAṭṭār, Memorial of God’s Friends, p. 46. (ʿAṭṭār, Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ, p. 11). Ṣādiq is specifically a lover of God who in Sufism’s coded terminology is likened to a beautiful, yet cruel, beloved. Cruel because the ultimate, yet unachievable goal of the way-faring Sufi is union with the divine in this world. Jaʿfar Ṣādiq, as such, possesses holiness and has an indisputable command of a treasure trove of knowledge; he is, hence, a prominent authority who transcends the various schisms of his time. Even as a Shiʿite imam, thus, Ṣādiq stands at the head of a long line of pre-eminent saints for ʿAṭṭār. 9 The Abbasids staked their claim to the caliphate based on their kinship ties to the prophet and made common cause with the Shiʿites to topple the Umayyad caliphate. For overviews of the Abbasid revolution, see Daniel, ‘ʿAbbāsid Revolution’ and Kennedy, The Early Abbasid

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attention to the saying itself, it certainly is demonstrative of the imam’s courage in the face of certain death as much as it displays his spiritual authority. Yet ‘let me go back to serving the mighty and glorious Lord’ is not particularly illuminating of the tenets of Sufism. A person of deep faith expressing (rather mild) annoyance at being pulled away from their devotions by mundane concerns can hardly be considered ontologically, theologically, or eschatologically revealing of any one religion, much less the mystical branch of one. This leads us to the most striking aspect — the tale is not about the imam at all. Rather, the tale begins and ends with the caliph, but, most importantly, it is centred around him and his experiences too. Indeed, though the imam clearly emerges as the victor in the exchange, it is the caliph who has a divinely inspired vision (however frightening), not the imam as one might expect. And the caliph is the one who faints. Fainting, it should be mentioned, is usually associated with saints and masters who have achieved the ultimate goal of Sufis, the death-before-death (fanāʾ billāh) or near union with the divine in the corporeal world which is sometimes accompanied by a missive from the divine.10 Furthermore, the caliph’s abilities are not just thwarted, his actions and words are corrected — his acknowledgement of the imam’s authority. The caliph in this tale, therefore, may be likened to a wayward Sufi or an adept whose course is corrected, although it is not set straight by a master or even by the imam as in the next story (see below) but by the ultimate source of power and authority, the divine. To add further context, it is important to backtrack for a moment and note again that the caliph’s power and authority, within and without the tale, is related to his status as a member of the prophet’s family.11 It is also tied to general notions in circulation. Early medieval Islamic political theory posits

Caliphate. The issue at stake goes back generations to Muḥammad who had not appointed a successor when he died. Among Muḥammad’s inner circle, there were those who believed that the leadership of the community fell automatically to ʿAlī, and there were those who felt Abū Bakr (573–634), Muḥammad’s early companion and father-in-law, should lead the community. The split between the Shiʿites (‘party’ of ʿAlī) and the Sunnis began to solidify after the assassinations of ʿAlī and his sons, Ḥasan (624–670) and Ḥusayn (626–680), the prophet’s grandsons. On these events and their implications for the early Muslim community, see Madelung, The Succession to Muḥmmad. For an overview of the waxing and waning of the caliphs’ religious authority and the meaning implied in khalīfat Allāh and, to a lesser extent, amīr al-muʾminīn, see Crone and Hinds, God’s Caliph, especially pp. 13, 84–87, and p. 92 for Manṣūr and pp. 80–96 for the Abbasids’ multivalent claim to religious authority. For an overview of the problems of religious authority between the caliphs, the ulamāʾ (‘scholars’) and Sufis, see Abun-Nasr, Muslim Communities of Grace, pp. 7–25. 10 Here, albeit, it is delivered by the dragon rather than a friendly voice or authoritative figure such as another saint or one of the prophets. For instances of saints who receive divine missives while unconscious or dreaming in the Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ and Ilāhīnāmah (Book of the Divine), see my contribution to this volume. 11 See n. 9.



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that a ruler’s spiritual authority underpins his temporal power.12 For instance, the pre-eminent and influential exegete and historian, Ṭabarī (839–923), opens his monumental Taʾrīkh al-rusul wa al-mulūk (History of Prophets and Kings) with a causation that begins with Iblīs (‘Satan’) and winds its way throughout human history. He links the downfall of oppressive kings to divine will: ‫رسل أو ملك مسلَّط او خلیفة مستخلف فزاده إلی ما ابتدأه به من نعمه يف العاجل نعام و الی‬ َ ‫من رسول له ُم‬ ‫ و من کفر منهم فسلبه ما ابتدأه به‬.‫ما تفضّ ل به علیه فضال و َمن آخّر ذلك له منهم و جعله له عنده ُذ ْخرا‬ 13.‫ و من کفر منهم نعمه فمتعه مبا أنعم به علیه الی حین وفاته و هالکه مقرونا‬،‫من نعمه و عجل له نقمه‬ ّ ّ There were messengers sent by God, kings placed in authority, or caliphs established in the caliphal succession. God had early on bestowed His benefits and favors upon some of them. They were grateful for His favors, and He thus gave them more favors and bounty in addition to those bestowed by Him upon them in their fleeting life, or He postponed the increase and stored it up for them with Himself. There were others who were not grateful for His favors, and so He deprived them of the favors He had bestowed upon them early on and hastened for them His revenge. There were also others who were not grateful for His favors; he let them enjoy them until the time of their death and perdition.14 ʿAṭṭār’s tale, it should be mentioned here, is grounded in history; Manṣūr was

known to have summoned the imam and his supporters on several occasions, only to release them each time. ʿAṭṭār simply may be bound by the events of history, limiting the scope of the damage (humility) to the caliph as he does. The matter is, of course, more complex. As we have just seen, the divine corrects the caliph’s conduct, indubitably, to protect the imam. Yet, and as noted above too, the focus of the tale is on the caliph. Therefore, the converse of this scenario is equally important to consider; the divine forestalls an egregious wrong by Manṣūr. The divine, in other words, prevents the caliph, to whom ʿAṭṭār refers as the Commander of the Faithful twice in the tale, from completely divesting himself of his own authority (having lost a bit of it for his initial intent). Accordingly, then, what we have here is a nuanced take on a prevailing theory of the time — God may intervene so that a ruler is reminded from whence his authority originates and, thereby, may retain His favour and remain in power. Now, we briefly turn to the second tale in the Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ, which may help us illuminate ʿAṭṭār’s aims further and finally lead us to the goals of this volume. This second tale, too, follows a similar pattern of adopting and disrupting a popular story-type to nearly the same effect. Except in this case, 12 For an overview of early Islamic and medieval political theory, see Crone, Islam and Government. 13 Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh al-rusul wa al-mulūk, p. 5. 14 Ṭabarī, The History of al-Ṭabarī, trans. by Rosenthal, p. 168.

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it is an ascetic master facing the imam. Indeed, on the surface, the second tale shifts gears drastically; it is a ‘teachable moment’ type of tale that is generally a hallmark of ʿAṭṭār’s works. In this story, Jaʿfar Ṣādiq is approached for advice by a stricken Dāvūd-i Ṭāʾī (d. c. 781), an ascetic master whose disciples would become prominent Sufi masters in their own rights. Ṣādiq, acknowledging Ṭāʾī’s status as ‘the ascetic of the age’, wonders what advice he could possibly give him.15 Ṭāʾī appeals to Ṣādiq’s special status as the ‘offspring of the prophet’ which obliges him to counsel and help everyone.16 Ṣādiq counters this by admitting his fears that on the day of resurrection, his forefathers will ask him why he had not lived up to his duties. Then, in quasi-admonition, he tells the ascetic, who later on has an entire section devoted to his exemplary sayings and deeds, that the matter is not one of genealogy but rather has everything to do with one’s deeds and conduct. Surface differences notwithstanding, both tales position a bloodthirsty ruler and an ascetic master similarly apropos to the imam. Though the aim of both tales is to highlight the imam’s superiority among contemporaries, bar none, equally important is the lesson that the two other spiritual authority types receive: in their lack of self-awareness and knowledge (placing importance on temporal power and genealogy, rather than just actions), their authority is momentarily diminished, even as they continue to wield power by virtue of their respective statuses. And, indeed, the responsibilities of the caliph and the ascetic, as leaders, run parallel to each other; Manṣūr, as Commander of the Faithful, was responsible for the well-being and salvation of the entire Muslim community which, during the early Abbasid period, spanned across large swaths of Asia and North Africa. The prominent ascetic was, in turn, responsible for teaching and training generations of Sufis who, in their turn, proselytized and taught local populations and new generations of Sufis. As such, Ṭāʾī was likewise responsible for his community’s salvation. In ʿAṭṭār’s worldview, then, very little separates saints and rulers; both wield considerable power and authority, and they must do so responsibly. Otherwise, they pose a danger to the salvation of their communities. Thus, for all the aforementioned peculiarities of our two opening tales, they nevertheless are perfectly in line with the spirit of the introduction; saints and rulers are as equally in need of spiritual advice literature for their development as Sufi novices and other interested folks across society are. Just as importantly, the tales emphasize the significance of the welfare of the community, to which saints and rulers belong and not just float above, even if it is the inconspicuous subject of the tales. What I hope to have shown by presenting and analysing these two tales is that close readings of hagiographies, even those tales that make use of ubiquitously popular themes, motifs, and story-types, can help us paint ever more detailed pictures of the socio-political worldviews of hagiographers

15 ʿAṭṭār, Memorial of God’s Friends, p. 48. (ʿAṭṭār, Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ, p. 13). 16 ʿAṭṭār, Memorial of God’s Friends, p. 48. (ʿAṭṭār, Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ, p. 13).



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and, by extrapolation, the hopes and anxieties of their communities. Yet, as has been so often, and rightly, noted by scholars of late antique and medieval literature, the conventionality of such popular themes and motifs led generations of positivist-oriented historians to indiscriminately and injudiciously relegate these tales to the dustbins of their field, castigating them especially for their repetitiousness.17 As a number of impressive studies over the last few decades have shown, however, these tales should be viewed less as products off an assembly line and more like our own genetic material — a fixed set of themes that, while largely replicative, give rise to innumerable and unique variations within and across genres. Such studies have brought to the fore fresh perspectives on familial and class relations, gender,18 performance, violence,19 communal identity formation,20 territorial concerns, governance at local and state levels, institutional attitudes,21 knowledge production and dissemination, and the role of audiences and their expectations in the writing of such tales,22 which may account for the upcycling of prominent story-types, themes, and motifs.23 Recent decades have seen a growing interest in the relationship between state power and religious institutions as depicted in histories, hagiographies, and martyr acts. These studies have shed important light on

17 So common is the notice about nineteenth- and early twentieth-century scholars’ assessments of these types of narratives and the concomitant case made for studying them, that their inclusion resembles the very exordiums that medieval authors, especially hagiographers, employed as justifications for their work. 18 See, for instance, De Nicola, ‘The Ladies of Rūm’. See, also, Kate Cooper’s The Virgin and the Bride which analyses the confluence of gender, family, and class relations in a variety of texts, including hagiographies. 19 For an illustrative example of violence and performance in hagiography, see Constantinou, ‘Bloodthirsty Emperors’. 20 For example, see Graiser, Shurāt Legends, Ibāḍī Identities and Sahner, Christian Martyrs under Islam. 21 See, for instance, Henken, ‘The Saint as Secular Ruler’ on the confluence of territory, local governance, and institutional attitudes. 22 For more, see Rapp, ‘Storytelling as Spiritual Communication’ and Rapp, ‘Author, Audience, Text and Saint’. 23 Relatedly, modelling older texts as authoritative sources certainly may account for this upcycling as well. For a brief discussion on the importance of this from antiquity to the hagiographies of the medieval period in the Latin west, see Gatland, Women from the ‘Golden Legend’, pp. 13–20. For a more general discussion, see Minnis, Medieval Theory of Authorship. For textual authority from antiquity to the medieval period across east and west, see the collected essays in Wisnovsky, Wallis, Fumo, and Fraenkel, ed., Vehicles of Transmission, Translation, and Transformation. In the Islamic tradition, textual authority is conveyed by a variety of means, including, most importantly, receiving permission/license (ijāzah) from one’s teacher; recording the chain of transmission (isnād) of authoritative transmitters of knowledge; being a noted disciple of a saint in the case of hagiographies; and modelling older works. The first three have received abundant attention in modern scholarship. The latter, however, remains woefully underappreciated. Mostly, works that model older ones are painted as paying mere lip service or are designated almost as crude plagiarisms rather than viewed as receptions that offer a window onto the socio-cultural world of later generations.

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the concept of sainthood, court dynamics, doctrine, and more generally, the history of various late antique and medieval courts.24 Most works, however, focus on a particular hagiographer, text, sub/genre, region, or confession.25 Furthermore, while the role of power and authority pervades or underpins much of these studies, what has received far less attention is the varied ways in which power and authority are articulated from above (courts/saints) and below (saints/laity), especially from a comparative view.26 Indeed, when we think of late antique and medieval hagiographies, specifically in terms of power and authority, the texts that come readily to mind are stories in which saints stand unyielding before and speak truth to power, even when threatened with a gruesome death. These tales certainly receive the lion’s share of attention in modern scholarship, partly for the sheer quantity of extant tales that explore this theme. Thus, in relation to hagiographies, ‘power’, which is typically understood as the ability to ‘produce physical actions’, is usually contrasted with ‘authority’, which is delineated as the ability to ‘influence actions, effect moral persuasion, or inspire belief ’.27 Yet the two terms are the flipsides of the same coin, overlapping one another at the edges. In fact, hagiographies, interested as they are in verisimilitude, explore a cornucopia of situations in which power and authority are negotiated among various actors. In some cases, kings are imbued with spiritual authority and have the power to effect significant ideological changes across society in addition to mobilizing military and economic forces for various political purposes. In other cases, saints exert tremendous power, sometimes even over a king and to the latter’s humility and, other times, in coordination when motivated by common ideological and political aims. For as many tales that pit saints against hard-hearted rulers, there are those that explore the power of a society over lay saints and relatedly the authority of ordinary folks over saints and kings; highlight the symbiotic or exploitative relationships between rulers and saints; depict power as a negotiation between claimants, sometimes mediated through the divine; demonstrate the wonderous workings of divine power through a saint’s performance of miracles; or highlight the competition among various churches and orders for

24 See, for instance, the contributions in Sarris, Dal Santo, and Booth, ed., An Age of Saints? and in Mortensen, ed., The Making of Christian Myths. The Sufi hagiographer and poet, Jāmī (1414–1492), composed a verse translation of the popular love story of Salāmān and Absāl for his patron, Sultan Yaʿqūb Khān (d. 1490), to encourage the ruler to contend with and exercise his spirituality and, hence, authority. Though not a hagiographical work, per se, as an allegorical tale about Yaʿqūb Khān it certainly evokes them. See Lingwood, Politics, Poetry, and Sufism. 25 A quite recent exception is Smith, ed., Authority and Power in the Medieval Church. 26 See Waters, ‘Power and Authority’, which is particularly noteworthy for its overview of the complex ways in which hagiographies portray power and authority. However, as the title of the volume in which it appears conveys, it is focused on Middle English hagiographies. 27 Waters, ‘Power and Authority’, pp. 70–71.



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power within and without a given territory.28 In other words, not all wielders of power always hold court, nor do those who hold spiritual authority of the highest order are always sanctified, and neither are saints always infallible, or rulers irredeemable. Even those hagiographical tales that are focused on the ubiquitous theme of saintly authority pitted against the temporal power of kings and deploy popular motifs do so towards unique aims. Thus, the decision to begin this introduction with ʿAṭṭār’s tales, which make use of ubiquitous themes found across Eurasia and North Africa towards its own aims. Another aspect that remains relatively understudied too is the question of how hagiographers themselves understood, navigated, and articulated — how they responded to — the vagaries of late antique and medieval life. Indeed, while employing common narrative motifs and themes, hagiographers offer their unique perspectives on a variety of events such as the seismic and minor shifts in society caused by war and conquests and changes in alliances, ideologies, and territories. All through tales of their chosen saints. This volume, then, situates itself within the larger tradition of hagiographical studies as it seeks to contribute to it in unique ways. It takes a diachronic and cross-cultural and cross-linguistic approach to the study of power and authority from above (courts/saints) and below (saints/ordinary people). As such, it is particularly interested in those works in which saints, kings, or the laity find themselves wielding and/or negotiating with one another for power and authority. The chapters in this volume, which were selected for their unique perspectives on how power and authority are narrated, address different types of late antique and medieval hagiographical narratives written and/or translated throughout the Islamicate world, Christian East, and Christian West in a range of languages such as Arabic, Armenian, Georgian, Greek, Latin, Middle Persian, Ottoman Turkish, and Persian. As such, the volume bridges the traditional linguistic, regional, literary/ historical, and epochal divides imposed by early modern scholarship that have hampered research into the continuities and confluences exhibited in a wide array of hagiographies. In other words, as each chapter delves into the specific literary and social scene of a particular time, place, or hagiographer, the volume as a whole offers a broad view; it brings to the fore important literary and social historical aspects that currently remain underexplored, such as the itineraries of popular narratives and motifs across Eurasia and North Africa. It, ultimately, illustrates the extents to which power and authority were similarly narrated and thus, possibly, navigated across time and space — despite the rugged, oftentimes inhospitable terrain, linguistic and socio-religious divides,

28 Hence the choice in the left cover image, an illustrated manuscript from the Makhzan al-asrār (Treasury of Mysteries) from the Khamsah (Quintet) of Niẓāmī Ganjavī (1141–1209) which depicts an old peasant woman berating Sultan Sanjar (1085–1157) for letting injustice reign throughout his kingdom. On Niẓāmī, see my chapter in this volume. On St Catherine of Siena, the focus of the right cover image, see Boldrini’s contribution to this volume.

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and vast seas separating the various societies and communities of the texts under study — but towards different aims. For instance, in their respective contributions, both Petros Tsagkaropoulos and Damien Labadie focus on hagiographical narratives that fall within the category of tales broadly known as the ‘Christian saint at the court of the Muslim caliph’. Both the Life of John of Damascus (Tsagkaropoulos) and the Life of John of Edessa (Labadie) project a cooperative relationship between caliph and saint. Yet, as Tsagkaropoulos illustrates, the Greek Life of John of Damascus traces the darker contours of the complex relationship between saint and caliph. This is in stark contrast to the Arabic version which paints a less fraught relationship between the two. In fact, the Greek Life of John of Damascus follows the saint’s development from a powerless servant of the caliph to an emboldened saint, who having been vindicated of charges of disloyalty to the caliph, ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Marwān (685–705), made by the Byzantine emperor, Leo the Isaurian (685–741), is able to demand that the caliph give him leave of his post to turn to his devotions in language similar to martyr acts. Both versions highlight the very different circumstances and attitudes of Christian communities living under Muslim rule. Meanwhile, the Georgian Life of John of Edessa offers a more optimistic view of the relationship between saint and caliph. As Labadie notes, John of Edessa and Harun al-Rashid (d. 809) accordingly are equal recipients of divine power and authority and both are fully cognizant of this fact and the differences in their functions. Indeed, as Labadie argues, the Life may have been conceived of as a blueprint for the ideal type of relationship between a Christian community and Muslim ruler that safeguards the former. From this vantage point, the Georgian translation of the Life of John of Edessa shares much in common with a hagiographic episode within the Arabic Annals by the Melkite patriarch of Alexandria, Eutychius who is also known as Saʿīd ibn Baṭrīq (877–940). As Maria Conterno demonstrates, the elaborately detailed depictions of the intimate, symbiotic relationship between the patriarch of Alexandria, Theophilus (d. 412), and the emperor, Theodosius I (347–395), may have been intended as a handbook of sorts, highlighting a path forward for the Coptic community living under Muslim rule. The text, accordingly, stakes out a personal claim of authority for the patriarch as well as making a case for the Coptic Church’s unwavering Orthodoxy and its ties to the central powers in Constantinople. On the other end of the spectrum, Federica Boldrini and Carlo Cereti amplify the otherwise muted responses to societal pressures by medieval lay saints across Italy and the Zoroastrian community across Iran, respectively. In her contribution, Boldrini weaves together a number of hagiographical accounts of saintly women who chose not to enter into orders. These women, thus, found themselves navigating familial and marital responsibilities to dress according to status and station, which were upheld by medieval sumptuary laws, with their own desire to dress with the modesty called for by mendicant preachers. Caught between the powers of society and their own spiritual



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authority and that of the orders with which they were associated, Boldrini demonstrates how women often found clever and ingenious ways of meeting these opposing demands that anticipated the ethos of the Counter-Reformation. Though the early medieval Zoroastrian community increasingly found itself in a relatively similar position to the Christian community in the east, especially in terms of conversion, Zoroastrians rarely produced texts similar to Christian hagiographical tales in which saints negotiate for power and authority with Muslim rulers.29 Instead, as Cereti carefully demonstrates, the Zoroastrian community’s receding power is illustrated in the way Zoroaster himself was depicted, with Sasanian era accounts differing vastly from medieval accounts which adopt the tropes and structures of medieval Muslim hagiographies. As a result, Cereti also has been able to identify and date the various layers of a Middle Persian text that have remained rather obscured. In my own contribution, I illustrate how ʿAṭṭār, in his understudied Ilāhīnāmah (Book of the Divine), demonstrates the power of the laity as everyday saints, sometimes besting both rulers and prominent, esteemed saints. This is especially salient when we compare ʿAṭṭār’s treatment of Zoroastrians across texts; in the Ilāhīnāmah, for instance, Zoroastrians inspire self-doubting saints to renew their faith, whereas, in the Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ, they fall under the protection of confident saints. The contest for power and authority sometimes plays out in physical spaces such as courts, churches, Sufi and Mendicant orders, and private homes. At stake in such competitions is the adherence, heart, or even submission of an individual or larger group. As important as such physical structures are, some hagiographies place the contest in imagined spaces; spaces where saints contend not with rulers or society but with each other over the identity or superiority of a church or community. The former is the case with the Acts of Barnabas and the Acts of Heracleides, the latter of which is preserved in both Armenian and Greek. Thought to be a unified response of the Church of Cyprus against the Church of Antioch in a Christological dispute, Maïeul Rouquette argues that the two works, instead, were part of an internal dispute. The two competing foundational hagiographies of the Church of Salamis and the Church of Tamasos were sparring over their own pre-eminence. In terms of the latter, Nikoloz Aleksidze illustrates how tenth-eleventh-century Georgian hagiographic accounts such as the Life of Grigol, Life of Ilarion, Life of John and Euthymios, and the Life of George Hagiorites navigate alienation, strangeness, and moral authority in the context of geographic and political isolation vis á vis the Byzantine Empire to define the borders of Georgianness and make claims for Georgia’s long-standing Orthodoxy. This is especially enlightening considering that these tales appear in the wake of a shift among

29 There are, however, texts and episodes within other works that depict Zoroastrian clergy debating theology and dogma with Christians and Jews at the caliph’s court. See, for instance, Sahner, ‘A Zoroastrian Dispute in the Caliph’s Court’.

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Georgia’s ruling and religious elites in imagining Constantinople as the heart of Christendom rather than Jerusalem. Jason Moralee, in his contribution, meanwhile, traces the ‘imaginary Rome’ of the Martyr Acts. Drawing on both theories of state formation and recent forays into the building of virtual spaces, Moralee analyses hagiography’s relationship to state power and the ways in which communal identities (Christian, Roman) were formed through ‘itineraries of power’, wherein readers of hagiographies ‘visit’ sites important to Rome’s martyrs and saints as the texts themselves were both informed by and became part of the infrastructure of Rome. In as much as saints, rulers, and the laity navigated physical and imagined spaces as well as written and unwritten laws governing engagement with the other, so too did they negotiate with one other for power and authority. For instance, the tales of the legendary dervish, Saltuk, take place in the Balkans, on the western frontiers of the Ottoman Empire. As Sibel Kocaer illustrates, the tales in which Saltuk disguises himself as a Christian depict a negotiation between the self and the other. Except, the lines were not always clearly drawn since the other was often one’s own self before conversion and one’s own neighbours and former co-religionists. Interestingly, the collection of these stories into a book, the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme, was directly ordered by the Ottoman prince Cem (d. 1495). Kocaer considers this fact in light of Cem’s struggle for power against his brother over the succession to the Ottoman throne to pose important questions about the shaping of the stories during the process of redaction and the possible audiences and aims of the text. In the Life of Saint Daniel the Stylite, Daniel (409–493) is a rhetorically proficient monk who, through his prophecies, is able to assuage Leo I (d. 474)’s worries about the internal and external conflicts facing the realm and the religion. As Fabrizio Petorella notes, when the prophecies are stitched together, the hagiographer’s ideological bent becomes apparent. Interestingly, so too does a more specific political ideology emerge; part of which comes to the fore when usurpers learn a valuable lesson as they try to convince the saint to support their new reign — usurpers cannot negotiate with saints as they are God’s humble mouthpieces. In stark contrast, Jeremiah A. Lasquety-Reyes, in his contribution, demonstrates that in two, rather amusing tales in the Legenda Aurea (Golden Legend), the Virgin Mary suspends her power and authority momentarily to allow the most special of her devotees to negotiate with her for control of a desired outcome. As Lasquety-Reyes also points out, such momentary deferrals of power by the divine queen in heaven were also depicted in Flemish paintings at the height of the Legenda Aurea’s popularity. Altogether, the chapters in this volume illustrate the various ways that power and authority were articulated, navigated, and negotiated across the social spectrum in late antique and medieval hagiographies. The hagiographies under discussion certainly demonstrate affinities of varying degrees with one another and with similar tales from within their own linguistic traditions. Nevertheless, each study demonstrates the extents to which hagiographers employed these similar (sometimes even shared) themes and motifs toward their own unique



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ends. Just as each study, even while grounded in meticulous scholarship, has brought to the fore with fresh perspectives previously overlooked aspects in some of the most popularly studied hagiographies. Since one volume cannot cover every linguistic tradition, analyse every theme or motif, or cover every town and court across Eurasia, this volume, thus, is presented to the reader in hopes that it will serve as a stepping-stone in the flourishing field of reading hagiography as literature, as it offers new perspectives on late antique and medieval hagiographers and their communities.

Bibliography Primary Sources Farīd al-Dīn ʿAṭṭār, Farid ad-Din ʿAttār’s Memorial of God’s Friends: Lives and Sayings of Sufis, trans. by Paul Losensky (New York: Paulist Press, 2009) ———, Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ, ed. by Muḥammad Istiʿlāmī, 28th edn (Tehran: Intishārāt-i Zavvār, 2018) Ṭabarī, The History of al-Ṭabarī: An Annotated Translation, trans. by Franz Rosenthal, 40 vols, SUNY Series in Near Eastern Studies (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989) 1 ———, Taʾrīkh al-rusul wa al-mulūk (Annals of the Prophets and Kings), ed. by Michael Jan de Goeje, reprint edn (Leiden: Brill, 2010), i, 1 Secondary Sources Abun-Nasr, Jamil N., Muslim Communities of Grace: The Sufi Brotherhood in Islamic Religious Life (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007) Chittick, William C., Sufism: An Introduction (Oxford: One World, 2005) Constantinou, Stavroula, ‘Bloodthirsty Emperors: Performances of Imperial Punishment in Byzantine Hagiography’, in In the Presence of Power: Court Performance in the Pre-Modern Middle East, ed. by Maurice A. Pomerantz and Evelyn Birge Vitz (New York: New York University Press, 2017), pp. 30–41 Cooper, Kate, The Virgin and the Bride: Idealized Womanhood in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996) Cornell, Vincent J., Realm of the Saint: Power and Authority in Moroccan Sufism (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998) Crone, Patricia, Islam and Government: A History of Medieval Islamic Political Thought (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003) Crone, Patricia, and Martin Hinds, God’s Caliph: Religious Authority in the First Centuries of Islam (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Oriental Publications, 1986) Daniel, Elton, ‘ʿAbbāsid Revolution’, in Encyclopedia of Islam, THREE, online edn, 2007 (Leiden: Brill, 2007) [accessed 13 August 2019]

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Gatland, Emma, Women from the ‘Golden Legend’: Female Authority in a Medieval Castilian Sanctoral (Woodbridge: Suffolk Tamesis, 2011) Graiser, Adam R., Shurāt Legends, Ibāḍī Identities: Martydom, Asceticism, and the Making of an Early Islamic Community (Columbia: University of South Carolina University Press, 2016) Henken, Elissa R. ‘The Saint as Secular Ruler: Aspects of Welsh Hagiography’, Folklore, 98.2 (1987), 226–32 Kennedy, Hugh, The Early Abbasid Caliphate: A Political History, Routledge Revivals (London: Routledge, 2015) Lingwood, Chad, Politics, Poetry, and Sufism in Medieval Iran (Leiden: Brill, 2013) Madelung, Wilferd, The Succession to Muḥmmad: A Study of the Early Caliphate (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997) Minnis, A. J., Medieval Theory of Authorship: Scholastic Literary Attitudes in the Later Middle Ages, Routledge Studies in Medieval Religion and Culture, 5 (London: Routledge, 2003) Mortensen, Lars Boje, The Making of Christian Myths in the Periphery of Latin Christendom (c. 1000–1300) (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, University of Copenhagen, 2006) De Nicola, Bruno, ‘The Ladies of Rūm: A Hagiographic View of Women in Thirteenth and Fourteenth Century Anatolia’, Journal of Sufi Studies, 3 (2014), 132–56 Rapp, Claudia, ‘Storytelling as Spiritual Communication in Early Greek Hagiography: The Use of Diegesis’, Journal of Early Christian Studies, 6.3 (Fall 1998), 431–88 ———, ‘Author, Audience, Text and Saint: Two Modes of Early Byzantine Hagiography’, Scandinavian Journal of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1 (2015), 111–30 Sahner, Christian C., Christian Martyrs under Islam: Religious Violence and the Making of the Muslim World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018) ———, ‘A Zoroastrian Dispute in the Caliph’s Court: The Gizistag Abāliš in its Early Islamic Context’, Journal of Iranian Studies, 52.1–2 (2019), 61–83 Sarris, Peter, Matthew Dal Santo, and Phil Booth, eds, An Age of Saints? Power, Conflict, and Dissent in Early Medieval Christianity (Leiden: Brill, 2011) Smith, Thomas W., ed., Authority and Power in the Medieval Church, c. 1000–1500 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2020) Waters, Claire M., ‘Power and Authority’, in A Companion to Middle English Hagiography, ed. by Sarah Salih (Cambridge: Brewer, 2006), pp. 70–86 Wisnovsky, Robert, Faith Wallis, Jamie Claire Fumo, and Carlos Fraenkel, eds, Vehicles of Transmission, Translation, and Transformation in Medieval Textual Culture (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011)


Part 1

Saints at the Courts of Rulers

Petros T sagkaro p oulos

Between Emperor and Caliph The Representation of Power Relations in the Life of John of Damascus

The appointment of John of Damascus (d. c. 749) as secretary (kātib) at the Damascene court of the caliph, ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Marwān (685–705), marks the threshold of his administrative career under the Umayyads.1 What follows is a summary of the events as they emerge from the Life of John of Damascus (Bibliotheca hagiographica graeca 884).2 According to the vita, John entered the service of the caliph when Leo the Isaurian (685–741) was ruler of the Roman dominions. It was a time when Leo pursued the destruction of holy icons and the persecution of those who venerated them. At the news of the emperor’s transgressions, the story informs us, John armed himself with the power of words and wrote orations in the form of letters defending the veneration of images. Reports of the existence of these letters outraged Leo who sought revenge by slandering John to his master, the caliph of Damascus. Leo, according to the narrative, devised a scheme whereby he copied John’s handwriting from one of his autograph letters and produced a false letter in which John allegedly revealed to the emperor his plan for the return of Damascus to Roman control. The forgery was then sent to Damascus, together with a letter written by Leo himself in which the emperor unveiled John’s plot to the caliph as a sign of good faith. Deceived by Leo’s plan and convinced of his servant’s guilt, the caliph ordered the amputation of John’s right hand. When John’s severed hand was miraculously healed through the intervention

1 On the prominence of John of Damascus’ family in the Umayyad administration and his career, see Griffith, ‘The Manṣūr Family and Saint John of Damascus’, pp. 29–35. 2 Specifically, sections Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Migne, cols 449B9–461A4. At the moment, there is no critical edition of the Life of John of Damascus. The text is reprinted in Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Migne, cols 429–90. A new critical edition of the Greek vitae of John (Bibliotheca hagiographica graeca 884 and others) is being prepared by the Byzantine Institute of the Abbey of Scheyern under Robert Volk, whom I would like to thank for providing me with valuable feedback in a personal communication. Petros Tsagkaropoulos  •  completed his PhD at King’s College London with a thesis on John of Damascus’ homilies. His publications focus on homiletics, hagiography, and the depiction of power in Byzantine literature. Narrating Power and Authority in Late Antique and Medieval Hagiography across East and West, ed. by Ghazzal Dabiri, FABULAE 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2021), pp. 29–42 © FHG10.1484/M.FABULAE-EB.5.122489


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of the Mother of God, the caliph recognized the plot woven against John, asked for his forgiveness, and restored him to his previous position as adviser. John, however, refused, and despite the caliph’s insistence, abandoned the city to become a monk. Focusing on the events just outlined, this paper will examine how the theme of power and authority pervades the account of John’s time as a civil servant. More specifically, it will trace the processes by which the vita presents John’s relationship with the Byzantine emperor and the Muslim caliph as an interplay of conflicting forces. As will be seen below, the two rulers are depicted as wielding their oppressive authority against the saint. The negative portrayal of the caliph, whose temporal power weighs on the saint, is of particular interest here since it gives the story of John’s years in office a polemical tone. Given the similarly polemical stance of other contemporary vitae, the Life of John of Damascus’s viewpoint is not surprising. However, the existence of the Arabic Life of John of Damascus, written by a monk, invites us to re-evaluate this notion.3 Indeed, the Arabic vita is closely related to the Greek text except with respect to the role of the caliph and the theme of power and authority; from a comparative perspective, the former is downplayed and the latter is undeveloped. Thus, this chapter, in its attempt to offer a more nuanced understanding of the Greek text, will also bring the Arabic vita into the discussion. On the other hand, as will be demonstrated, the Greek vita is also intended to highlight John’s evolving power and authority. By defying the authorities and enduring their wrongdoings, John emerges as a powerful propagator of the faith and a quasi-martyr figure who defines, through his actions, what it means to resist religious oppression. This aspect of the vita has not yet received attention in recent scholarly literature.4 Therefore, an attempt will be made to approach the Life of John of Damascus as a response to the volatile religious climate of the Near East. It will be suggested that the vita’s polemical edge and its view of John of Damascus as an example of outspokenness could be better understood in relation to the situation of contemporary Christians under Muslim rule. The discussion will thus conclude with a brief comment on the historical context that might have influenced the text’s depiction of the power struggle between John and the authorities.

3 For the editio princeps, see Michael, Arabic Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Bacha. Translations are available in English: The Arabic Life of St John of Damascus, trans. by Portillo and in German: ‘Das arabische Original der Vita des hl. Johannes von Damaskus’, trans. by Graf. 4 The Greek Life of John has repeatedly been mined for information about John of Damascus and his contemporary context. However, it has hardly been studied with regard to its author and his intentions. The most notable contribution in this direction is Kontouma, ‘John III of Antioch’, who reads the vita in the light of the Byzantine return to the Near East region (see also below).

b e t w e e n e mpe ro r and cali ph

Authorship and the Arabic Vita The Life of John of Damascus has a complicated history in terms of its authorship and its resemblance to the aforementioned Arabic Life (which will be dealt with momentarily). The vita’s problematic status has been pursued by different scholars with varying results.5 While a resolution is not the aim of this chapter, a brief overview of the available information will help us to anchor the Life of John in its literary and historical contexts and, hence, elucidate the text’s particular point of view of the account. The authorship of the Life of John is attributed to two patriarchs of the same name: John, patriarch of Jerusalem, and John, patriarch of Antioch. Although both possible candidates are well attested in the manuscript tradition, scholarship has generally favoured John of Jerusalem as the author of the vita without, however, settling the question.6 Strong arguments have been put forward for the composition of the vita by John of Antioch, who is identified with Patriarch John III (996–1021), a highly educated Constantinopolitan who held the office of chartophylax of the Great Church and who was trained in the practice of hagiographic metaphrasis. The reasons that have made John III’s authorship particularly appealing are as follows: the resurgence of the Byzantine presence in Antioch in the late tenth century; the appointment of John III to the Antiochene throne; and the general interest in promoting the figure of a Greek-speaking Melkite saint of the calibre of John of Damascus.7 Recently, however, serious doubts have been cast on this hypothesis by the current editor of the corpus of the Greek vitae of John of Damascus, who has argued for the authorship of John VIII of Jerusalem (1098–1106/7?).8 Very little is known about the personality and patriarchate of John VIII, except that he had been bishop of Tyre and that he went into exile to Constantinople soon after the capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders.9 For the purposes of this paper, and in view of the as yet inconclusive debate, the authorship will be approached as an open question. The Arabic Life, meanwhile, was penned by Michael, a monk in the Monastery of St Symeon near Antioch, in 1084–1085 in the aftermath of the Seljuk conquest of the city. Michael confesses in his prologue to the Arabic vita that he based the text on various testimonies, which he collected as an act of gratitude to the saint since he was able to escape capture and slavery on 4 December 1084— that is, on

5 For an overall picture of the main scholarly opinions to this day concerning the Life of John and its place in the hagiographical tradition surrounding the saint, see Kontouma, ‘John III of Antioch’. 6 Kontouma, ‘John III of Antioch’, pp. 4–7. 7 Kontouma, ‘John III of Antioch’, pp. 7–26. 8 Given that the critical edition is a work in progress, glimpses of Volk’s arguments are only available in the following online review: Volk, ‘Vassa Kontouma’. 9 See Jotischky, ‘Greek Orthodox and Latin Monasticism’, p. 91.



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St John of Damascus’s feast day.10 Michael’s Arabic text shares great similarities with the Greek vita. For a long time, it was thought that the Greek vita was based on Michael’s text, a hypothesis which has gained new momentum in light of recent editorial work.11 Another intriguing possibility, which presupposes John III of Antioch’s authorship, is that Michael based his Arabic version on a ‘dossier’ of compiled hagiographical sources. That same dossier would have been used by John III of Antioch for the composition of the Greek Life of John sixty years earlier.12 Whatever the case, it is significant to bear in mind that the texts stand in close relation to each other, which accounts for their similarities and, crucially for what follows, urges us to shed light on their differences.

Tyrannical Authorities and John as a Figure of Power Concentrating now on the contents of the Greek Life of John, the author presents the saint’s pre-monastic years in the administration of the caliphate of Damascus as a time of inner suffering and physical torment caused by the unholy rule of impious sovereigns. Involuntarily involved in court life, John was torn between the godlessness of the Muslim leader, on the one hand, and the treacheries of the Byzantine emperor, Leo, on the other. In the opening passage of the section considered here, the latter’s reign, which coincided with John of Damascus’s period in office and under which the Church witnessed violent upheavals, presages the inevitable fate that awaited the saint: Ἦν δὲ τὰ τῆς Ῥωμαϊκῆς ἀρχῆς διιθύνων τότε Λέων ὁ Ἴσαυρος, ὅς κατὰ τῶν σεβασμίων εἰκόνων, καὶ τοῦ ὀρθοδόξου τῆς Ἐκκλησίας πληρώματος, ὡς Λέων ἁρπάζων καὶ ὠρυόμενος ἦν, ἐκείνας μὲν κατακαίων τῷ πυρὶ τῆς θηριώδους μανίας, τοὺς δ’ αὐτῶν προσκυνητὰς ἁρπάζων, καὶ ἀπολλύων, καὶ ὀδοῦσι τυραννικῆς δυσσεβείας διασπαράσσων ἐλεεινῶς. At that time, the ruler of the Roman empire was Leo the Isaurian, who behaved like a plundering and roaring lion against the venerable icons and the orthodox body of the Church, burning them with the fire of savage madness and snatching away those who venerated them, destroying them and pitiably tearing them to pieces with the teeth of tyrannical impiety.13 From the start, the Byzantine emperor is branded as a ‘plundering and roaring lion’ who preys on holy icons and the faithful. Characterizations such as this

10 See the prologue in Michael, Arabic Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Bacha, pp. 7–10 (The Arabic Life of St John of Damascus, trans. by Portillo, pp. 171–73). 11 For a summary of the status quaestionis (though now in need of revision), see Treiger, ‘Michael al-Simʿānī’, pp. 658–60 and, also very importantly, see Volk, ‘Vassa Kontouma’. 12 Kontouma, ‘John III of Antioch’, pp. 22–24. 13 Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Migne, cols 449B15–452A6.

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emerge as an important instrument for evoking the emperor’s impiety and the injustices he commits against John as a result of his abuses of power. Throughout the course of the narrative, similar imagery and epithets are used to depict the emperor as ‘bearing the name of a lion’ (λεοντώνυμος), a ‘snake-minded’ (ὀφιογνώμων) person who hatches plots against the saint, an ‘ill-named emperor’ (δυσώνυμον βασιλέα), and an ‘impious’ (δυσσεβής) person who lets loose his ‘tyrannical impiety’.14 It is notable that the emperor’s destructive aggressiveness towards icons and their defenders represents a significant point of convergence between the Greek and Arabic vitae of John. Michael’s Arabic Life similarly emphasizes imperial opposition to the images of Christ, the Virgin, and the saints, as well as the emperor’s hatred for monks.15 In particular, Leo is described as an enraged boar: ‫ رص عليه‬،]‫ ووقف عىل [مكاتباته‬،‫فلام بلغ الون امللك ماقت االيقونات املقدسة افعاله الشهمة الطاهرة‬ .‫اسنانه وانيابه كالخنزير الربي‬ When the king Leo, who despised the holy icons, had news of his (i.e. John’s) pure and intelligent actions and read his writings, he ground all his teeth like a wild boar.16 This similarity notwithstanding, however, the characterization in the Greek vita is more targeted and systematic. The descriptions of the emperor are not mere literary embellishments; rather, they serve to highlight unambiguously the consequences of his unchecked power over the saint. The Life of John does not limit itself to portraying the ruler, who tyrannically uses the forces at his disposal as emperor to confront the saint, as animal-like and impious. It also elaborates on the reasons for their conflict. And by doing so, it places the issue of power at the very heart of the relationship between the two. This immediately becomes clear when John writes letters defending the veneration of icons to edify the faithful.17 The influence of John’s writings is such that when the Byzantine emperor discovers that John has defied the doctrine he had promoted, he is obligated to take measures. His fury is not the only reason for retaliating; it is also the fact that he cannot bear ‘the public denunciation of his impiety’ (τὴν τῆς ἀσεβείας αὐτοῦ στηλίτευσιν).18 The emperor is incited to action because his authority is questioned. More importantly, the saint is seen as exercising his own spiritual authority. The text describes the effect that John’s letters produce on the public:

14 Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Migne, cols 456B10; 456B11; 453C2; 456A6. 15 Michael, Arabic Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Bacha, p. 15. 16 Michael, Arabic Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Bacha, p. 16 (translation adapted from The Arabic Life of St John of Damascus, trans. by Portillo, pp. 179–78). The edited version has ‘’‫مکانباته‬, a likely typo for ‘‫’مکاتباته‬. 17 Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Migne, cols 452A12–453A11. 18 Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Migne, col. 453B3.



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Ἐπιστολιμαίους τοίνυν λόγους ὑπὲρ τῆς τῶν σεβασμίων εἰκόνων τιμῆς, τοῖς εἰδόσιν αὐτὸν ὀρθοδόξοις ἐξέπεμπεν, ἄγαν δεικνὺς ἐμφιλοσοφώτατα, ἀναγκαίαν εἶναι τὴν τῶν θείων ἐκτυπωμάτων προσκύνησιν. Κἀκείνους παρήγγειλε πρὸς ἄλλους λέγειν τὰ ὅμοια, καὶ τὰς αὐτοῦ δεικνύειν ἐπιστολάς. Καὶ διὰ πάντων ἔσπευδεν ὁ τῆς ἀληθείας νέος ἀθλητής, ὡς διὰ κύκλου τινὸς τὰς οἰκείας ἐπιστολάς ἀπὸ χειρῶν εἰς χεῖρας διαβαίνειν τοῖς πιστοῖς, καὶ κρατύνεσθαι τὸ ὀρθόδοξον˙ καὶ κατὰ Παῦλον ἠπείγετο κύκλῳ διαλαβεῖν τὸ περίγειον, εἰ καὶ μὴ τῷ ποδί, ἀλλὰ δι’ ἐπιστολῶν τῷ τῆς ἀληθείας κηρύγματι. So, he sent out orations in letters to the orthodox who knew him, in favour of the honour of the venerable icons, showing most eruditely that the veneration of the holy images was necessary. And, he exhorted them to tell others the same and show everyone his letters. And, by every means, the new athlete of truth made haste, so that his letters passed to the faithful from hand to hand as if in a circle and strengthened the orthodox spirit; and, like Paul, he hurried to traverse the whole earth, and even if not on foot, then by preaching the truth through his letters.19 John spreads his message in defiance of imperially sponsored iconoclasm, relying on his divinely sanctioned authority as a ‘new athlete of truth’. The narrative and the relationships among the protagonists are, thus, given depth through an emphasis on the social impact of the saint’s acts and his vigorous resistance to corrosive temporal power. Leo’s solution to the problem caused by John’s dissentient voice is to summon his best copyists to forge a letter not only in careful imitation of John’s handwriting but, also, one that reproduces his style, basing it on the letters that are in circulation.20 In the forged letter, ‘John’ addresses the Byzantine emperor and informs him that the city of Damascus may easily fall into the hands of the Byzantines. In the Arabic vita, only the core of the letter is provided — John allegedly discloses the deficiencies of the defences in Syria and Palestine.21 By contrast, the author of the Greek vita offers a more elaborate version of the letter’s contents. Instead of simply revealing the weaknesses of the city’s defence, John discloses both his reason for aiding the emperor and his plan, which includes his own assistance since ‘the city and whole country are in my hand’ (ὑπὸ χεῖρα ἐμὴν πᾶσα ἡ χώρα καὶ ἡ πόλις ἐπιτελεῖ).22 The theme of the exercise of power, here, springs up to the foreground: John allegedly indulges in the influence he exerts. The hoped-for result is a displacement of strained relationships; from John and emperor to John and caliph. The false letter is subsequently sent to the Muslim ruler together with a message in which Leo explains that the uncovering of the plot is a proof of

19 Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Migne, cols 452A12–453A11. 20 Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Migne, cols 453B1–C2. 21 Michael, Arabic Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Bacha, p. 16. 22 Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Migne, cols 456A2–3.

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his friendship.23 Upon receiving the letter, the caliph brings John to trial for treason. At this point, the caliph, as a second adversary, subjects the saint to his terrible ordeal. Misled by the instigator of the plan (Leo), the executioner (caliph) orders John’s hand to be cut off. Before considering, however, the text’s reaction to the cruel punishment in more detail, it is first important to note that the particular sharpness in tone against the Byzantine emperor that permeates the entire section concerning John’s service in Damascus now extends to include the caliph from the moment he appears in the narrative. The Greek vita informs us that John initially refused to accept the title of ‘first councillor’ (πρωτοσύμβουλος) because he yearned for the monastic life. John’s inner spiritual desires, however, were constrained by external pressures. Helpless in the face of the caliph’s demands, he submitted to his will: Ὁ δὲ τῶν Σαρακηνῶν ἀρχηγὸς τὸν Ἰωάννην εἰσκαλεσάμενος, προεχειρίζετο πρωτοσύμβουλον. Ὁ δ’ ἀνένευεν, ἀλλαχόσε προσνενευκυῖαν ἔχων τὴν ἔφεσιν˙ ὅμως ἱκανῶς βιασθεὶς, ἀντιτείνειν ἔτι οὐκ ἴσχυσε˙ καὶ καθίσταται οὗτος ἐν μείζονι ἀρχῇ παρὰ τὸν γεννήσαντα. The leader of the Saracens summoned John and appointed him first councillor. But he refused since his heart’s desire was leaning elsewhere. He was, however, forced enough, so that he could no longer resist. And so, he was appointed to a higher rank than that of his father.24 From the outset, the text conveys John’s feeling of powerlessness and his subordination to the caliph; he is impeded by a higher, albeit temporal, power from fulfilling his longing to devote himself to God. In this, there are religious overtones, since the caliph prevents John, a Christian, from his search for God. Interestingly, this is not the impression we get from the Arabic Life. John, we are told, became the secretary of the amir of the city and was his confidant in private and public affairs and was given the authority to execute his orders.25 The text simply speaks of the administrative position that John held and of the duties that accompanied it. A quick glance at the wording of the Greek vita in the passage above reveals, then, how the author perceives and expresses in a very different way the power relation between the saint and the Muslim authorities with whom he has close dealings. He presents John of Damascus as a victim of political severity, to the effect that the caliph begins to emerge as an antagonistic figure: a perspective that is absent from the Arabic text.

23 Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Migne, col. 456B7. 24 Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Migne, cols 449B9–14. 25 Michael, Arabic Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Bacha, p. 15 (translation adapted from The Arabic Life of St John of Damascus, trans. by Portillo, p. 177): ‘After that Mansur died, and his son John became secretary of the amir of the country. He occupied a prominent place and knew the amir’s secret and public life, his orders and prohibitions’.



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Here, now, we turn to the scene of the trial. John’s plea about his innocence regarding the letter that bears his name falls on the caliph’s deaf ears: Ἀλλ’ ὁ μισόχριστος ἐκείνος ἄρχων πρὸς τὰ ὑπὸ τοῦ Ἰωάννου λεγόμενα, ὄνος ἦν λύρας ἀκούων, τοῦτο δὴ φάναι τὸ τῆς παροιμίας˙ καὶ ἐκωφώθη μὲν ἐξ ἀγαθῶν ῥημάτων καὶ ἀληθῶν. Οὐκ ἐσίγησε δὲ τοῦ μὴ ἄδικον ἀποφθέγξασθαι πρόσταγμα, ἀλλ’ εὐθὺς κελεύει τὴν δεξιὰν κοπῆναι τοῦ Ἰωάννου. Καὶ δεομένου βραχὺν χρόνον δοθῆναι οἱ πρὸς ἀπολογίαν τε καὶ ἀφήγησιν τῆς κατ’ αὐτοῦ μανίας τοῦ δυσσεβοῦς, οὐκ ἀνῆκεν, οὐδὲ ἠνέσχετο, ὅλος ὑπὸ τῆς μανίας ἐκστὰς ὁ βάρβαρος. Καὶ δὴ ἐκκόπτεται δεξιά, ἡ ποιήσασα δύναμιν τοῖς ὀρθοδόξοις ἐν Θεῷ, δι’ ὧν γέγραφεν˙ ἐκκόπτεται δεξιὰ, ἡ ἐλέγχουσα τοὺς μισοῦντας τὸν Κύριον, καὶ ἀντὶ μέλανος ᾧ ἐβάπτετο πρότερον λογογραφοῦσα τὴν τῶν ἐικόνων προσκύνησιν, οἰκείῳ αἵματι βάπτεται. But with respect to John’s words, the Christ-hating ruler was like an ass who listens to the lyre, as the proverb goes, and was deafened by the goodness and truth of his words. He did not keep silent, so that he might not utter any unjust command but immediately ordered that John’s hand be cut off. And although he (i.e. John) had asked to be given a little time to make a defence and explain the madness of the impious [Leo] against him, the barbarian did not let him, nor did he tolerate this, since madness had entirely driven him out of his senses. The right hand, which strengthened the orthodox in God through its writings, was cut off; the right hand, which exposes those who hate the Lord, was cut off and was now dyed with its own blood instead of with ink, with which it used to be dyed when it wrote speeches for the veneration of icons.26 What is notable about this passage is that characterization is once again employed as a literary device, but, as noted above, now it is done so as to draw a negative portrait of the caliph rather than the emperor. The caliph is called ‘Christ-hating’, which is a direct reference to his being a Muslim and is, thus, flagged as an enemy of the saint since he deprived him of his most valuable weapon in the war against the heretics: the hand with which he wrote his treatises against the defamers of the icons. Similarly, he is referred to as a ‘barbarian’, whose acts seem to be on a par with his uncivilized ways, and, elsewhere, as a ‘tyrant’.27 The caliph’s identity as an unbeliever and a merciless ruler, glimpses of which became visible when he obliges John to undertake the councillor’s position, is now further elaborated, making him a second Leo with the only difference being one of confession. The author’s polemical perspective transforms the text into an encomium of the saint’s heroic stance towards every kind of affliction originating in the 26 Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Migne, cols 456C6 – D5. 27 Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Migne, col. 456D9. On the barbaric savagery of the Arabs in the Christian imagination, see examples in Awad, Orthodoxy in Arabic Terms, pp. 31–32. See further, Christides, ‘Arabs as “Barbaroi”’ and Stroumsa, ‘Barbarians or Heretics?’, pp. 761–76.

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impiety of the heretical Roman emperor and the ‘Christ-hating’ caliph. It is also the converse of the Arabic Life in the latter’s subtle, neutral depiction of the relationship between John and the caliph. Indeed, the Arabic vita portrays a hierarchical relationship between a lord and his subject, not one between a Muslim oppressor and a defending Christian. Even the harsh sentence issued by the caliph against John is represented in starkly different ways. In the Arabic vita, despite the caliph’s apathy towards the saint’s entreaties, the punishment is simply stated as a fact: ‫حكم علیه االمیر لوقته بقطع یده فترضع الیه كثیرا ً وسال ُه سؤالً جزیالً ان ميهل ُه لیكشف لدی ِه الحیلة التي‬ ‫بسببها بعث امللك الكتاب الی ِه فلم یسمع االمیر من ُه قوال وال اوسع ل ُه ان یعتذر طویالً حتى قطعت ميینه‬ .‫وعلقت يف وسط مدینة دمشق‬ The amir ordered his hand to be severed immediately. [ John] fervently implored him, asking many times to be given time to uncover the ruse that it was the king who had sent the letter. But the amir did not listen to a word and did not give him the possibility to defend himself any longer. On the contrary, he ordered his right hand to be severed and hung in the centre of the city of Damascus.28 The Greek vita, meanwhile, paints a hostile portrait of the Muslim ruler as we have seen. In fact, the Greek text’s caliph could not be further removed from his counterpart in the Arabic text. This contrast eloquently illustrates the creation of a different pattern of relations among the protagonists and a deliberate emphasis on Muslim impiety and oppression. Indeed, the Greek text would have the reader believe that John of Damascus bounced back and forth between a savage heretical emperor and an equally ruthless Muslim caliph. This is certainly not the image that the Arabic Life intends to transmit. In the Arabic version, John asks, in his grief, for his mutilated hand after the passing of the sentence, and the caliph grants him his request.29 When, after many tearful prayers to the Virgin Mary, John’s hand is miraculously restored to his forearm, the caliph summons him and, convinced by the miracle, asks John for forgiveness, reinstates him to his former office, and promises to always listen to his counsel. John, however, rejects the offer and, after much effort, is released from service.30

28 Michael, Arabic Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Bacha, p. 17 (trans. adapted from The Arabic Life of St John of Damascus, trans. by Portillo, p. 179). 29 Michael, Arabic Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Bacha, p. 17 (trans. adapted from The Arabic Life of St John of Damascus, trans. by Portillo, p. 179): ‘the amir ordered the severed hand to be given to him’. 30 Michael, Arabic Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Bacha, p. 19 (trans. adapted from The Arabic Life of St John of Damascus, trans. by Portillo, p. 180): ‘John prostrated before him, with his body on the ground, remaining in this position a long time. He asked him to be excepted and be let free to follow the way of the Lord that he had chosen and was satisfactory for him. After a lot of effort and pain, he let him free’.



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This smooth succession of events is choppier in the Greek vita. For instance, the author expends time and energy to build an image of the caliph as an impious ‘barbarian’ which is incompatible with the later fact that the caliph grants the saint his wish; the ‘tyrant’ indeed immediately grants John’s petition for the return of his hand: Εἶξεν οὖν ἐυθὺς ὁ τύραννος πρὸς τὴν δέησιν, καὶ δίδοται τῷ δικαίῳ ἡ χείρ (So the tyrant immediately yielded to the request, and the hand was given to the righteous man).31 Strikingly, the tyranny of the caliph that the text establishes throughout the account is undercut when he confesses that his decision to punish the saint was a mistake and asks for forgiveness: ‘Καὶ λοιπὸν ἡμῖν σύγγνωθι, ἐφ’ οἷς ἀπερισκέπτοις καὶ ἀλογίστοις ταῖς ἀποφάσεσιν ἐπηνέγκαμέν σοι τὴν τιμωρίαν’ (Therefore, forgive us, for we inflicted upon you this punishment on account of thoughtless and irrational decisions).32 When, finally, the conflict is resolved, a new one begins, as the caliph initially refuses to give John permission to leave. Once again, the two confront each other, with the text describing the scene with imagery borrowed from martyrdom accounts: the saint is depicted as being inside an arena in which Christ himself is the judge and the angels the spectators. John struggles against the ‘barbarian’ who is encouraged by the devil: Ὁ δὲ βάρβαρος οὐκ ἐδίδου τὴν συγχώρησιν. Καὶ ἦν ἰδεῖν μονομάχους, ὡς ἄν τις εἴποι, τὸν βάρβαρον καὶ τὸν δίκαιον. Ὁ μὲν πολλοῖς ἠγωνίζετο ἐπέχειν τὸν Ἰωάννην τοῖς τοῦ κόσμου δεσμοῖς˙ ὁ δὲ βίαιός τις ἦν ταῦτα ἀπορρῆξαι μετὰ σπουδῆς, καὶ ἀγγελικαῖς πετάσαι τοῖς πτέρυξι. Καὶ στάδιον τότε ἠνεῳγμένον μέγα ἐτύγχανεν, ἀγωνοθέτης δὲ Χριστός προεκάθητο, καὶ τὸ θέατρον οἱ ἄγγελοι. Ἐρεῖ δέ τις δικαίως καὶ τοὺς πονηροὺς ἐξ ἀριστερῶν παραθαρρύνειν τὸν βάρβαρον καὶ ἐπαλείφειν πρὸς πιθανότητας. Νικᾷ δὲ μετὰ πολλῆς ἀναρρήσεως ὁ ἐμὸς μονομάχος καὶ πιθανὰ πάντα τοῦ ἀντιπάλου ὡς βέλη νηπίων λελόγισται. Καὶ νικητὴς ἄπεισιν, ἀναδεδεμένος τὴν κεφαλὴν ταινίᾳ περιφανεῖ, καὶ τὸν οἶκον εἴσισι φαιδρωπός, ὁ πρὶν ἐξιὼν αὐτὸν σκυθρωπός. But the barbarian did not give permission. And one could see the barbarian and the righteous as gladiators, as it were. The first was striving to stop John with the shackles of the world; the other was violently trying to break them with haste and to fly on angelic wings. And, so, it happened that there opened a stadium, and Christ presided as judge, and the angels were the spectators. One would rightly say that the evil [demons] were also there, encouraging the barbarian from the left side and anointing him for the persuasion contest. But my gladiator won with much acclamation and considered all the arguments of his opponent as children’s arrows. So, he left victoriously, binding his

31 Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Migne, cols 457Α7–8. 32 Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Migne, cols 460C2–4.

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head with a bright headband, and entered his house with a cheerful look, he who had come out with a sad countenance.33 The description of John as a gladiator is analogous to his earlier proclamation as an athlete who opposes Leo’s iconoclasm. A carefully calibrated balance of pressure is thus created, thanks to which the saint appears to accept the blows of the two powerful rulers, although he soon triumphs victoriously over both of them.

Historical Context Following the analysis of the power relations between John and the other protagonists in the Greek account, an attempt could be made to read the text as a product of the historical context in which it was written and to explain, in particular, the striking differences it presents compared to the Arabic version regarding the description of the caliph. The Greek text takes on special significance if approached in the light of general late tenth- and eleventh-century developments. The campaigns of Nikephoros II Phokas (963–969) and Ioannes I Tzimiskes (969–976) on the Byzantine Empire’s eastern frontier represented a concentrated effort to restore control of the border region of Cilicia and to penetrate into Muslim lands in northern Syria.34 The consolidation of the Byzantine territorial gains during the reign of Basil II (976–1025) decisively bolstered the Chalcedonian (Melkite) Christian community in the broader region.35 Significantly, the recovery of Antioch from 969 to 1084 and the re-establishment of its patriarchal see forged strong links with the capital, especially among the Greek-speaking population which benefited from the arrival of members of the Constantinopolitan elite.36 It should be recalled, here, that the attribution of the Life of John of Damascus to John III of Antioch has been based, in part, on this precise context: John III, Constantinopolitan in origin, authored the vita of an important Melkite saint to serve as an example for his Greek- and Arabic-speaking flock in Antioch. Above all, however, the Life of John of Damascus seems to reflect local Christians’ views of their Muslim overlords. While the Byzantine presence in the Near East offered a friendly hand to the Melkites, it also added layers of complexity. It implied tensions with the Muslim world that often had serious repercussions for the Christians who lived in it or within its sphere of influence. In 966 the damage to the Holy Sepulchre through mob violence and

33 Life of John of Damascus, ed. by Migne, cols 460C12–461A4. 34 The initial Byzantine operations in the east in the second half of the tenth century are discussed in detail in Kaldellis, Streams of Gold, pp. 46–49 and 74–79. 35 For Basil II’s eastern campaigns, see Kaldellis, Streams of Gold, pp. 103–11 and 127–30. 36 On the Byzantine reorganisation of the doukaton (district) of Antioch, see Todt, ‘Region und Griechisch-Orthodoxes Patriarchat’ and Todt, ‘Antioch in the Middle Byzantine Period’, especially pp. 182–88 on the population of Antioch.



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the burning alive of the patriarch of Jerusalem, John, came about as a reaction to Byzantine expansionism.37 Religious persecution was another tangible and continuous threat. During the reign of the Fatimid caliph, Ḥākim (r. 996–1021), the Holy Sepulchre was demolished (c. 1009), and between 1013–1015 many Christians were forced to flee from lands under Muslim rule to Antioch and other Byzantine cities, a time which coincided with John III of Antioch’s patriarchate.38 Throughout the eleventh century, the instability caused by the Byzantine-Fatimid conflict of interests and the dynastic disputes among the Arabs, tribal feuds, and the arrival of the Muslim Seljuk Turks from the mid-eleventh century onwards formed part of the background against which many Christian populations in Syria, northern Mesopotamia, and Palestine lived.39 Both John III of Antioch and John VIII of Jerusalem — the former dispatched from Constantinople to the east to occupy the Antiochene see, the latter an exiled Jerusalemite patriarch resident in the imperial capital — would have been well familiar with the general conditions under which Christians lived at the time. The issue of the authorship notwithstanding, the Life of John of Damascus expresses the discontent of Melkite Christians with Muslim rule and contextualizes it in the world of hagiography, in the hostile depiction of the caliph and in John of Damascus’s pre-eminence over the Muslim authorities. The rhetorical thrust of the vita becomes even more understandable if we assume a predominantly Greek-speaking audience which very likely lived in Byzantine territory (e.g. Antioch or Constantinople). The adoption of a removed perspective would further explain why the Greek text is not culturally sensitive or reconciliatory with the Islamic world. The Arabic version of the story, on the other hand, takes a more neutral stance. It is possible that in the aftermath of the Seljuk invasions and the conquest of Antioch in 1084 the caliphate and all that it represented was of the least concern to the monk Michael and the local Christian community. To suggest another hypothesis, perhaps the author’s intention was simply to narrate John of Damascus’s admirable life and acts without hidden agendas. Besides, the lack of vigorous anti-Muslim polemic was not an unusual feature of Christian literature in Arabic, even in apologetic tracts.40 It is, therefore, 37 See Ikonomopoulos, ‘Byzantium and Jerusalem’, p. 20. 38 Kaldellis, Streams of Gold, pp. 129–30. 39 See, for example, Kaldellis, Streams of Gold, pp. 160–63. See further on the Seljuk presence in Syria from the 1070s onwards, Beihammer, Byzantium and the Emergence of Muslim-Turkish Anatolia, pp. 179–92. 40 See the comment on Christian apologetic literature in Arabic by Griffith, The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque, p. 105: ‘For one thing, these works lack the extremely negative rhetoric of contemporary Greek or Latin anti-Islamic texts, and they are singularly lacking in the customary invective these compositions directed against Muhammad or the Qurʾān. Rather, in the Arabic texts written by Christians in the world of Islam it is clear that the intention of their authors was to compose a Christian discourse in the Arabic language, sufficient both to sustain the faith of Christians living in that world and to commend the reasonable credibility of Christianity to their Muslim neighbors in their own religious idiom’.

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reasonable to think that the Arabic version of the vita conformed to the conventions of an established literary tradition.

Conclusion However we understand the political thrusts of the two versions, it is clear that the Greek Life of John was designed to project a polemical dimension which included Muslims. The reasons for this choice could well be related to the author’s personal contact with the Islamic world and his experience of the occasionally harsh treatment of the Christian community or be connected with the target audience of the vita which was presumably distanced from the reality of Christians living outside the empire. Operating in this framework, the text encapsulates the tensions that underpin the relations among the protagonists as a result of their different positions of authority and their conflicting worldviews. It also describes the consequences of that tension when it is unleashed in order to present the Christian saint as an innocent victim of but also as a worthy victor over worldly powers. Through characterization, the emphasis on competing interests and ambitions, the use of a religiously charged language, and the presentation of the caliph as a hateful figure, we are offered a story with a very distinct texture in comparison with the Arabic version. According to the author’s methodically constructed vision of the life of John, the saint was indeed standing between the emperor and the caliph, defending the Christian faith and ideals against the authoritarian rule and impiety of both heretical and non-Christian rulers.

Bibliography Primary Sources Life of John of Damascus, in Patrologiae cursus completus: series graeca, ed. by Jacques-Paul Migne, 161 vols (Paris: 1857–1866), 94 (1864), cols 429–90 Michael, Arabic Life of John of Damascus, in Constantin Bacha, Biographie de Saint Jean Damascène. Texte original arabe (Harissa: Imprimerie Grecque Melchite de Saint Paul, 1912) ———, Arabic Life of John of Damascus, trans. by Georg Graf as ‘Das arabische Original der Vita des hl. Johannes von Damaskus’, Der Katholik, 93 (1913), 164–90 (repr. in Hubert Kaufhold, ed., Georg Graf: Christlicher Orient und schwäbische Heimat: kleine Schriften, 2 vols (Beirut: Orient-Institut Beirut, Ergon Verlag Würzburg in Kommission, 2005), ii, 370–402) ———, The Arabic Life of John of Damascus, trans. by Rocio Daga Portillo, Parole de l’Orient, 21 (1996), 157–88



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Secondary Sources Awad, Najib G., Orthodoxy in Arabic Terms: A Study of Theodore Abu Qurrah’s Theology in Its Islamic Context (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2015) Beihammer, Alexander Daniel, Byzantium and the Emergence of Muslim-Turkish Anatolia, ca. 1040–1130 (Oxford: Routledge, 2017) Christides, Vassilios, ‘Arabs as “Barbaroi” before the Rise of Islam’, Balkan Studies, 10 (1969), 315–24 Griffith, Sidney H., The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque: Christians and Muslims in the World of Islam (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010) ———, ‘The Manṣūr Family and Saint John of Damascus: Christians and Muslims in Umayyad Times’, in Christians and Others in the Umayyad State, ed. by Antoine Borrut and Fred M. Donner (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2016), pp. 29–51 Jotischky, Andrew, ‘Greek Orthodox and Latin Monasticism around Mar Saba under Crusader Rule’, in The Sabaite Heritage in the Orthodox Church from the Fifth Century to the Present, ed. by Joseph Patrich (Leuven: Peeters, 2001), pp. 85–96 Ikonomopoulos, Konstantinos, ‘Byzantium and Jerusalem, 813–975: From Indifference to Intervention’, in Papers from the First and Second Postgraduate Forums in Byzantine Studies: Sailing to Byzantium, ed. by Savvas Neocleous (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009), pp. 7–25 Kaldellis, Anthony, Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood: The Rise and Fall of Byzantium, 955 a.d. to the First Crusade (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017) Kontouma, Vassa, ‘John III of Antioch (996–1021) and the Life of John of Damascus (BHG 884)’, in John of Damascus: New Studies on his Life and Works, ed. by Vassa Kontouma (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015), ii, 1–26 Stroumsa, Guy G., ‘Barbarians or Heretics? Jews and Arabs in the Mind of Byzantium (Fourth to Eighth Centuries)’, in Jews in Byzantium: Dialectics of Minority and Majority Cultures, ed. by Robert Bonfil, Oded Irshai, Guy G. Stroumsa, and Rina Talgam (Leiden: Brill, 2012), pp. 759–76 Todt, Klaus-Peter, ‘Region und Griechisch-Orthodoxes Patriarchat von Antiocheia in Mittelbyzantinischer Zeit (969–1084)’, Byzantinische Zeitschrift, 94.1 (2001), 239–67 ———, ‘Antioch in the Middle Byzantine Period (969–1084): The Reconstruction of the City as an Administrative, Economic, Military and Ecclesiastical Center’, Topoi. Orient-Occident, 5.1 (2004), 171–90 Treiger, Alexander, ‘Michael al-Simʿānī’, in Christian and Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History. Volume 5 (1350–1500), ed. by David Thomas and Alex Mallett (Leiden: Brill, 2013), pp. 655–64 Volk, Robert, ‘Vassa Kontouma: John of Damascus. New Studies on his Life and Works, Aldershot: Ashgate 2015’, Sehepunkte. Rezensionsjournal für die Geschichtswissenschaften, 16 (2016), online [accessed on 31 August 2019]

Damien Laba die

The Caliph, the Jew, and the Bishop Power and Religious Controversy in the Georgian Life of John of Edessa

The Life of John of Edessa is an interesting, though little studied, apologetic Christian text composed in the early Islamic era.1 The narrative is primarily focused on the theological debate and thaumaturgic contest that took place at the court of the caliph Harun al-Rashid (d. 809), pitting the bishop, John of Edessa, against Phineas, a Jewish courtier. This short text deserves further literary and philological treatment than it has received thus far, for it is a relevant example of the rich and abundant apologetic literature that was produced by Christians in a Muslim context. But, while modern scholarship has been interested mostly in the apologetic and theological features of this text, to-date no attempts have been made, as far as I am aware, to describe how the narrative is carefully elaborated from a literary point of view. Here, I will focus on one particular aspect: the literary construction of the caliph as a figure of authority in this Christian hagiographical text. I will explore how the anonymous author of the Life of John of Edessa defined and fashioned a Muslim authoritative figure along Christian lines and how he positioned this political character to mirror John’s own religious authority and charisma in his support of the latter.

1 For studies and short commentaries on this text, see: Caspar and others, ‘Bibliographie du dialogue islamo-chrétien (1)’, p. 156; Caspar and others, ‘Bibliographie du dialogue islamochrétien (6)’, p. 294; Graf, Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur, ii, 25–26; Haddad, La Trinité divine, pp. 29–30; Kekelidze, Geschichte der kirchlichen georgischen Literatur, p. 480; Khairallah, ‘La joute de Jean d’Édesse avec le juif Phinéas’; Lamoreaux, ‘John of Edessa and Phineas the Jew’; Lamoreaux, ‘The Life of John of Edessa’; Rosenkranz, Die jüdisch-christliche Auseinandersetzung, pp. 89–91. Damien Labadie  •  Holding a PhD from the École pratique des hautes études (Paris), Damien Labadie is currently a researcher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), as a member of the CIHAM laboratory in Lyon. Narrating Power and Authority in Late Antique and Medieval Hagiography across East and West, ed. by Ghazzal Dabiri, FABULAE 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2021) pp. 43-58 © FHG10.1484/M.FABULAE-EB.5.122490


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Manuscript Witnesses The text is extant in two languages, Arabic and Georgian. The text was first written in Arabic and then translated into Georgian. As far as Arabic witnesses are concerned, four manuscripts have been identified. Unfortunately, all of these manuscripts are either lost or fragmentary. Therefore, we do not possess a complete copy of the Arabic text of the Life of John of Edessa. Herein is a summary of what is known about these four manuscripts: – K. W. Hiersemann, Kat. 500, Nr. 14.2 The University of Leuven in Belgium possessed this manuscript of Melkite provenance, from Sinai, probably dating back to the tenth century. Unfortunately, it was lost during World War II.3 A portion of it was edited in 1930 by Paul Peeters in the Analecta Bollandiana.4 It has been listed under number 14 in Hiersemann’s catalogue. – Mingana Chr. Arab. add. 172.5 Alphonse Mingana possessed two leaves of a Sinai manuscript preserving the table of its contents. Among the texts listed appears the Life of John of Edessa. Unfortunately, the rest of the manuscript no longer exists, either at Sinai or elsewhere. The two leaves were dated to the beginning of the fifteenth century on palaeographic grounds. – Dayr al-Mukhalliṣ 2252. Rachid Haddad asserted, in a book written in 1985, that the Arabic text of the Life of John of Edessa was preserved in a manuscript held at the monastery of Dayr al-Mukhalliṣ in Lebanon.6 With the help of the monastery’s superior, John C. Lamoreaux and Hassan Khairallah attempted to locate the text to which Rachid Haddad alluded, but the manuscript does not contain the Life. Instead, it contains a series of homilies by John Chrysostom.7 – Sinai ar. 411.8 A fourth copy of the Arabic Life is preserved, though in fragmentary form, at Mount Sinai.9 The manuscript was copied in the year 1287. This lacunar manuscript was edited and translated by John C. Lamoreaux and Hassan Khairallah in 2000.10

2 The manuscript is described in Baumstark, K. W. Hiersemann, Katalog 500, pp. 10–12. 3 On the fate of this manuscript, see Strothmann, ‘Die orientalischen Handschriften’, pp. 286–87 and p. 292 n. 31; Outtier, ‘Le sort des manuscrits’, p. 378. 4 ‘La passion de S. Michel le Sabaïte’, ed. and trans. by Peeters, edition of the Arabic text and Latin translation on pp. 87–89. 5 Mingana, Catalogue of the Mingana Collection of Manuscripts, iii, 52. 6 Haddad, La Trinité divine, pp. 29–30. 7 See introductory remarks in ‘The Arabic Version of the Life of John of Edessa’, ed. and trans. by Lamoreaux and Khairallah, p. 443. 8 Kāmil, Catalogue of All Manuscripts, p. 43. 9 Only the beginning (ch. 1 and 2) and the end (end of ch. 12 and ch. 13 to 19) have been preserved. 10 ‘The Arabic Version of the Life of John of Edessa’, ed. and trans. by Lamoreaux and Khairallah, pp. 450–60.

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The Georgian witnesses of the Life of John of Edessa are the following: – British Library add. 11281.11 In Georgian, we possess a complete version of the Life of John of Edessa. It is only preserved in the British Library add. 11281 manuscript, which was copied in Palestine at the beginning of the eleventh century. This text was translated from a now lost Arabic recension of the Life of John of Edessa.12 This Georgian text was edited and translated into Russian by Korneli Kekelidze in 1914 and then reprinted in 1961.13 My study below about the caliph’s role is based on this Georgian recension. – Tbilisi Institute of Manuscripts S-425. There is another Georgian witness to the Life, preserved in a shorter form and contained in a manuscript held at the Tbilisi Institute of Manuscripts. It is a commemorative text designed for liturgical reading on the occasion of the saint’s feast on the thirteenth of November. It is a Georgian composition and not a translation from the Arabic. The manuscript preserving this liturgical service was copied by the hymnographer Michael Modrekili between 978 and 988. Though the text was not composed by Micheal Modrekili himself, the original author certainly made use of the Life of John of Edessa in a form close to the text preserved in the British Library add. 11281. It was also edited by Korneli Kekelidze, in 1914 and then in 1961, together with the longer form of the Life.14

Date and Provenance On the basis of manuscript evidence, the original Arabic text was produced at quite an early date, probably during the ninth or tenth century. The action takes place during the reign of Harun al-Rashid, who was caliph between 786 and 809, and we may conjecture that the text was produced during these years or a little afterwards. This terminus a quo, however, is far from secure. Since we know that the Georgian Life was known to the author of the commemorative service, which was copied by Micheal Modrekili, the terminus ad quem is accordingly set before Modrekili’s floruit, which was between 978 and 988. Thus, the Life was translated into Georgian in the middle of the tenth century. Therefore, the Arabic text must have been produced in the first half of the tenth century at the latest. As for John of Edessa, his historical reality remains elusive and uncertain. But, as Ignace Dick suggested, John of Edessa might be identified with the

11 See John Oliver Wardrop’s appendix in Conybeare, A Catalogue of the Armenian Manuscripts, pp. 397–405. 12 See introductory remarks in ‘The Arabic Version of the Life of John of Edessa’, ed. and trans. by Lamoreaux and Khairallah, p. 447. 13 ‘Žitie i podvigi sv. Ioanna’, ed. by Kekelidze, pp. 114–29. The previous edition appeared in Kekelidze, ‘Žitie i podvigi’, pp. 317–40. 14 ‘Žitie i podvigi sv. Ioanna’, ed. by Kekelidze, pp. 129–35. First edition in Kekelidze, ‘Žitie i podvigi’, pp. 340–48.



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recipient of Theodore Abū Qurrah’s Treatise on the Veneration of Icons, written around 800. Indeed, Theodore Abū Qurrah, bishop of Harran, wrote his work for a certain ‘Anbā Yannah’, (Bishop John), who requested from him an apologetic tract defending the cult of icons. Accordingly, Anbā Yannah needed such a treatise so that he could use it against those who criticized the veneration of the ‘Image of Christ’ (ṣūrat al-masīḥ), a phrase that probably alludes to the holy mandylion of Edessa.15 If this is correct, Anbā Yannah’s episcopacy would perfectly fit the chronological boundaries of Harun al-Rashid’s reign and this Anbā Yannah could therefore be identified with Bishop John of Edessa. Nonetheless, in the absence of other pieces of evidence, this assumption remains to be further investigated and supported. The production milieu of the Life can be mostly deduced from the manuscript tradition. Indeed, John’s Life appears in manuscripts of Chalcedonian provenance: the Arabic manuscript K. W. Hiersemann, Kat. 500, Nr. 14 was copied at Mount Sinai, and the Georgian manuscript British Library add. 11281 was copied at the Orthodox Monastery of the Cross, near Jerusalem. In addition, John of Edessa is commemorated as a saint in Chalcedonian Georgian and Syrian liturgical services, as in Modrekili’s commemorative notice and Bishop Macarius III’s calendar.16 As a consequence, it seems likely that the Life of John of Edessa was first written in an Arabic-speaking Melkite community in Syria, probably in Edessa, and was then copied, preserved, and translated in Chalcedonian monastic circles in Palestine, Egypt, and Georgia.

Outline and Genre of the Story According to the Georgian version contained in British Library add. 11281,17 the text opens with a description of a Jewish courtier named Phineas, who has succeeded in turning the caliph Harun al-Rashid against the Christians of his realm. Learning this, John, bishop of Edessa, goes to the church of the Image of Christ18 where he prays that God will grant him victory over Phineas. Seven days later, John receives a vision of the angel Gabriel, who assures him that he will be victorious. After gathering his fellow bishops, John goes to see the Commander of the Faithful, amīr al-muʾminīn, at Raqqa, in northern Syria (the Georgian text uses the Arabic phrase amīr al-muʾminīn under the form amiri momli). The caliph greets him gladly and then summons Phineas for a

15 Cf. Dick, ‘Introduction’, pp. 39–40. 16 For the Arabic text of Bishop Macarius’s notice, see ‘The Arabic Version of the Life of John of Edessa’, ed. and trans. by Lamoreaux and Khairallah, p. 445. 17 See ‘Žitie i podvigi sv. Ioanna’, ed. by Kekelidze, pp. 114–29. 18 It refers to the church of the Holy Mandylion in Edessa. Kept in a church of Edessa and venerated among the most precious relics in the Christian East, this mandylion was a piece a cloth on which, according to tradition, Jesus pressed his face so that it retained the impression of his features (see Ševčenko, ‘Mandylion’).

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theological debate with John. After a long dispute between John and Phineas, the caliph finally declares that he agrees with the bishop’s arguments and wonders how Phineas cannot be convinced that God is triune. Then Phineas challenges John to perform miracles. John heals a demoniac, causes Phineas to lose his ability to speak, drinks poison, causes Phineas’ hand to wither, and finally raises the caliph’s daughter from the dead. This last momentous miracle impresses the caliph, who then takes important measures beneficial to Christians. The text concludes with the baptism of Phineas and his household. Though we cannot absolutely dismiss John of Edessa’s historical reality, it seems safe to assume that his Life, preserved in Arabic and Georgian, is fictional. It belongs to the literary genre of the majlis (meeting, session) in which Christians, Muslims, and Jews dispute and contend with one another about the truth of their faith in the presence of the caliph, who plays the role of arbitrator but who also takes a major part in these vivid conversations. Though such interfaith debates did take place at the caliphal court in Abbasid times, the disputatio of the bishop or monk in the caliph’s majlis emerged as a specific literary genre of Christian apologetics during the ninth and tenth centuries.19 These majlis texts stage fictional characters, be they Christians, Muslims, or Jews, engaged in a theological and polemical contest about the superiority of one’s own religion. In most of them, the caliph or the amīr plays a central role and he is often presented as the main Muslim interlocutor of the Christian protagonist. The outcome of the session varies from one text to another. Either the Christian monk or bishop has the upper hand and may even succeed in converting the caliph, or is sentenced to capital punishment and dies a martyr. It is worth remarking that most of these texts, like the Passion of Michael of Mar Saba,20 the Disputation of the Monk Abraham with the Amīr ʿAbd al-Raḥmān,21 the Debate of Theodore Abū Qurrah at the Court of al-Maʾmūn,22 the Life of Theodore of Edessa (BGH 1744),23 or the Life of John 19 Griffith, ‘The Monk in the Emir’s Majlis’; Griffith, ‘Christians, Muslims and Neo-Martyrs’. Paul Peeters lists more than a dozen texts belonging to this literary genre (see remarks in ‘La passion de S. Michel le Sabaïte’, ed. by Peeters, pp. 94–97). 20 This Passion exists in an independent form, but it was later inserted into the Life of Theodore of Edessa. English translation in ‘The Georgian Version of the Martyrdom of Saint Michael’, ed. by Blanchard, pp. 149–63 and Latin translation in ‘La passion de S. Michel le Sabaïte’, ed. by Peeters, pp. 66–77. For secondary sources, see Roggema, ‘The Martyrdom of Michael of Mār Saba’ and Griffith, ‘Michael, the Martyr and Monk of Mar Sabas Monastery’. 21 Le dialogue d’Abraham de Tibériade, ed. and trans. by Marcuzzo. See also Swanson, ‘The Disputation of the monk Ibrāhīm al-Tạbarānī’. 22 La discussion d’Abû Qurra, ed. by Dick. See also Griffith, ‘The Qurʾān in Arab Christian Texts’. 23 The text is preserved in Greek, Arabic, Georgian, and Slavonic. The Greek version was published in Žitie iže vo svjatyx otca našego, ed. by Pomjalovskij. The Georgian version is in ‘Teodore Edeselis cxovreba’, ed. by Kekelidze. This text has received much scholarly attention: Vasiliev, ‘The Life of St Theodore of Edessa’; Abel, ‘La portée apologétique’; Griffith, ‘The Life of Theodore of Edessa’; and Swanson, ‘The Christian al-Maʾmūn Tradition’, pp. 69–84.



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of Edessa were produced in Melkite circles in Palestine and Syria and share many literary motifs and topoi: the presence of a Jewish controversialist in the majlis,24 the Christian hero’s pre-eminent rhetorical abilities,25 the caliph’s knowledge of the Christian Scriptures,26 miracles performed by the monk or bishop,27 and the ordeal by poison.28 The desire of their authors, namely, to defend Chalcedonian orthodoxy and to strengthen the sense of identity of the Melkite communities living in a Muslim environment may account for the production of such texts in the early Islamic period.29 Aimed at such communities, these texts certainly intended to bolster the internal resistance of Melkite Christians and to offer a response to the temptation of conversion. In Sidney H. Griffith’s words, these texts are fictions, ‘artfully composed for apologetical/polemical purposes’.30 Among these texts, the Life of Theodore of Edessa shares many features with the Life of John of Edessa, particularly as far as the majlis episode is concerned.31 Though the Life of John of Edessa was probably composed before the Life of Theodore of Edessa, they were nevertheless written around the same time period and in the same Melkite milieu.32 However, the Life of Theodore of 24 See Passion of Michael of Mar Saba, ch. 7–8 (‘The Georgian Version of the Martyrdom of Saint Michael’, trans. by Blanchard, pp. 153–54); Life of Theodore of Edessa, ch. 86–91 (Žitie iže vo svjatyx otca našego, ed. by Pomjalovskij, pp. 91–97); Disputation of the Monk Abraham, ch. 14, ch. 153, ch. 162 and ch. 213 (Le dialogue d’Abraham de Tibériade, ed. and trans. by Marcuzzo, pp. 268–71, 342–43, 346–47, and 366–67). 25 This power of persuasion often leads to the conversion of the interlocutors or the surrounding listeners; see, for example, Life of Theodore of Edessa, ch. 89–90 (Žitie iže vo svjatyx otca našego, ed. by Pomjalovskij, pp. 94–96). 26 See Life of John of Edessa, ch. 12 (‘Žitie i podvigi sv. Ioanna’, ed. by Kekelidze, pp. 123–24); Passion of Michael of Mar Saba, ch. 7 (‘The Georgian Version of the Martyrdom of Saint Michael’, trans. by Blanchard, p. 152). 27 These are mainly healing miracles. See Life of Theodore of Edessa, ch. 74–75 (Žitie iže vo svjatyx otca našego, ed. by Pomjalovskij, pp. 78–79); Life of John of Edessa, ch. 13–17 (‘Žitie i podvigi sv. Ioanna’, ed. by Kekelidze, pp. 124–28; ‘The Arabic Version’, ed. and trans. by Lamoreaux and Khairallah, pp. 451–54 and 456–60). 28 In this recurring motif, the Christian protagonist is asked to drink poison, but it has no effect on him. See Passion of Michael of Mar Saba, ch. 10 (‘The Georgian Version of the Martyrdom of Saint Michael’, trans. by Blanchard, pp. 155–56); Life of John of Edessa, ch. 14 (‘Žitie i podvigi sv. Ioanna’, ed. by Kekelidze, pp. 125–26; ‘The Arabic Version of the Life of John of Edessa’, ed. and trans. by Lamoreaux and Khairallah, pp. 452–53 and pp. 457–58); Disputation of the Monk Abraham, ch. 550–56 (Le dialogue d’Abraham de Tibériade, ed. and trans. by Marcuzzo, pp. 520–23). 29 Griffith, ‘The Life of Theodore of Edessa’, p. 155. 30 Griffith, ‘Michael, the Martyr and Monk of Mar Sabas Monastery’, p. 145. 31 See Life of Theodore of Edessa, ch. 86–91 (Žitie iže vo svjatyx otca našego, ed. by Pomjalovskij, pp. 91–97). According to the text, an anonymous wealthy Jew arranged a debate with bishop Theodore in the presence of the caliph. Failing to gain the upper hand at the end of the dispute, the Jew is sent to prison and blinded. But Theodore intercedes for him, and the Jew is miraculously cured. Like the Life of John of Edessa, the Jew receives baptism at the hand of the bishop. 32 ‘La passion de S. Michel le Sabaïte’, ed. by Peeters, pp. 89–91.

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Edessa, much longer than the Life of John, diverges markedly in one aspect: Theodore manages to convert the caliph al-Maʾmūn (786–833) after healing him.33 This conversion, on which I will comment briefly in the concluding remarks, is a striking feature that sets the Life of Theodore of Edessa apart from the Life of John of Edessa.

The Figure of the Caliph in the Georgian Life of John of Edessa Though Phineas remains the main opponent of John throughout the narrative, the caliph intervenes at crucial moments. Therefore, he does not appear as a secondary character but as a major player in the story, whose presence is essential for the unfolding of the plot. I will now concentrate on the three passages in which the Commander of the Faithful makes an appearance. First, in chapter five, as John draws near Raqqa to meet Harun al-Rashid, the caliph has a divine vision: და ვ[ითარც]ა მიეახლნეს ქალაქსა მას რაკაჲსსა. იხილა ამირა მომლმან ძილსა შინა ცეცხლი მოტყინარჱ: სახლსა შინა მისსა. აღგზებული. და ჴმაჲ რომელი ეტყოდა. ძილსა შინა თჳსსა: აჰა ესერა მოწაფჱ ქრისტჱსი მოვალს შენდა. აწ იხილე ვ[ითა]რ იგი შეემთხჳო მას. და დიდითა დიდებითა პატივ ეცმას. შემთხუევასა მისსა. ყოვლითა ძალითა შენითა. და პატივითა მიეგებე მას: რ[აჲთა] იდიდოს უფლებაჲ და ჴელმწიფებაჲ შენი: და ჰრქუა მას ჴმამან მან: და უკუეთუ არა ჰყო ესე. დაჰჴსნდეს და განქარდეს: ძალი და მეფობაჲ შენი: და მოაკლდეს დღეთა შენთა: დაილივნენ ჟამნი შენნი. და აუფლე იგი ჰურიასა მას ზედა. ხ[ოლო] ჰურიაჲ განაყენე მსხჳლისა მის ზრახვისა მისისა-გან ბოროტისა: სიტყჳს გებისა მისისა-გან. და ნუ უტეობ მძლავრობად. წინაშე შენსა. და ნუცა მიუშუებ სიტყჳს-გებად: მოწაფისა ქრისტჱს მიმართ. ა[რამე]დ სიტყჳთა კეთილითა იტყოდის. წინაშე გონიერთა და მეცნიერთა და სწავლულთა. აჰა ესერა გრქუა შენ წინაჲსწარვე: და უწყებულ იყავ: რ[ამეთუ] მისცა ღმერთმან ჴელმწიფებაჲ მოწაფესა ქრისტჱსსა ამბა იოვანეს: თუ უნდეს მოაკუდინოს ჰურიაჲ. და თუ უნდეს აცხოვნოს. When they [ John and the other bishops] drew near the city of Raqqah, the amīr al-muʾminīn saw a blazing fire while he was sleeping, and it was burning in his house. He heard a voice that told him in his sleep: ‘Behold, the disciple of Christ is coming to you. Look how you will

33 Life of Theodore of Edessa, ch. 78–83 (Žitie iže vo svjatyx otca našego, ed. by Pomjalovskij, pp. 80–88).



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meet him and honour him with much praise! When you meet him, you will reward him with all your strength and honour so that he may glorify your rule and authority’. The voice said to him: ‘If you do not do this, your power and kingship will be destroyed and annihilated. Your days will be fewer and your times will come to an end. Let him rule over this Jew! Stop this Jew in his inordinate thinking and impious dispute! Do not either let him commit violence in front of you or allow him to challenge the disciple of Christ. On the contrary, he [ John] will utter beautiful words in front of the intelligent, the wise, and the learned. Behold, I am telling you this in advance so that you may know that God has given authority to the disciple of Christ, Abba John, who, as he wishes, will kill the Jew or grant him life’.34 After this divine warning, the caliph goes out of the city with his troops to meet John, and the two greet each other: მაშინ მოიკითხა ამბა იოვანე ამირა მომლი და მოიღო მანცა ამირა მომლისა-გან. დიდითა პატივითა მოკითხვაჲ კეთილად. და ჰრქუა ამირა მომლმან იოვანეს. ბრძანებულ არს ჩემდა ღმრთისა მიერ. წინამიგებვაჲ და პატივი შენი. და დიდებაჲ. და უმრავლჱსი შენი პატივი დგას ჩემ თანა. და ითხოვე ჩემ-გან ყოველი რაჲცა გნებავს საქმჱ შენი. მაშინ ჰრქუა იოვანე ამირა მომლსა: აკურთხენინ ღმერთმან დღენი შენნი და ნაყოფიერ ყავნ დავლაჲ შენი და განგიგრძელენ მზჱ შენი. დაამტკიცენ მეფობაჲ შენი. მაშინ ბრძანა. ამირა მომლმან გარდაყვანებაჲ ამბა იოვანჱსი: და მისთანათაჲ მათ. და მოცემად საჴმრისა მათისაჲ. ფართოებით ფ[რია]დ. და ეგრჱთ უყვეს მათ. ვ[ითარც]ა ბრძანა. Then, Abba John greeted the amīr al-muʾminīn, who also greeted him magnificently and with great honour. The amīr al-muʾminīn said to John: ‘I was ordered by God to meet, honour, and praise you. But you will enjoy even greater honour with me. Ask me whatever you want to do’. Then John said to the amīr al-muʾminīn: ‘May God bless your days, make your wealth fructify, extend your sun,35 and strengthen your kingship!’ Then, the amīr al-muʾminīn ordered for Abba John and those who were with him to be led away and given in great abundance everything they needed. And they treated them as he had commanded.36

34 Life of John of Edessa, ch. 5 (translation mine; Georgian text in ‘Žitie i podvigi sv. Ioanna’, ed. by Kekelidze, pp. 117–18). 35 The sun is, here, a symbol of the caliph’s power. 36 Life of John of Edessa, ch. 6 (translation mine; Georgian text in ‘Žitie i podvigi sv. Ioanna’, ed. by Kekelidze, p. 119).

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Reading these two passages, it is interesting to note, first, that the caliph’s authority is of divine origin. Indeed, as the vision reveals, God can put an end to the caliph’s rule at any time. God is actually the foundation that establishes the caliph’s ‘power and kingship’ (ʒali da mepobaj), as the Georgian text states. Though this may come across as a topos, the salient point here is that the caliph is viewed in this Christian text as a perfectly legitimate ruler. Like the Christian monarch, the Muslim sovereign derives his power and authority from God, thus appearing and acting as a new Constantine in the Life of John of Edessa. But, secondly, the strength of the caliph’s authority, as an earthly monarch, closely depends on his behaviour towards Bishop John, who is himself entrusted with God’s authority. As the text states, ‘God has given authority to the disciple of Christ, Abba John’. Thus, if the caliph wants to preserve his authority, he has to respect John’s divine authority. On the other hand, John respects and praises the caliph’s authority when he says, ‘May God bless your days, make your wealth fructify, extend your sun, and strengthen your kingship!’ It is worth emphasizing as well that the same word, qelmċipebaj, meaning ‘authority’ is used in the Georgian text to refer to both the caliph’s and the bishop’s authority, respectively. To sum up, the text presents both characters as invested by God with authority. But the caliph’s authority, as established and maintained by God, can only be efficient and enduring if it respects the authority that God has bestowed on Christian officials, especially John of Edessa. As a consequence, in the eyes of the Christian author of the Life, a good Muslim caliph is one who complies with God’s authority, heeds His warnings, and obeys His orders, particularly when it comes to Christians, the chosen people of God. In a second passage, in chapter twelve at the end of the debate involving John and Phineas, the caliph intervenes and concludes the dispute. He defends John’s theological stance, which the bishop had earlier expounded upon in front of Phineas: მაშინ ჰრქუა ამირა მომლმან ჰურიასა: ვაჲლაქ ფინეზ: რად ემტერები ქრისტეანობასა. მე ვითარ ვხედავ: წ[ინაჲს]წ[არმე] ტყ[უე]ლნი მათ ეწამებიან. და ეგრჱთვე დაბადებაჲ დაამტკიცებს სიტყუათა და თქუმულთა მათთა. და დავითს წ[ინაჲს]წ[არმეტ] ყ[უე]ლსაცა ჰრწამს. სარწმუნოებაჲ მათი: და გონებაჲცა მეწამების. ვ[ითარმე]დ კაცი სამი არს. გონებაჲ ფარული უჩინოჲ. და სიტყუაჲ შობილი გონებისა-გან მსგავსად განგებულებისა. და სულითა იყნოსებს კაცი. და ცხონდების. ესე სამნი კაცებისაგან რ[აჲ]ჟ[ამ]ს ერთი ამათგანი: განქარდეს სამთა ამათგანი: კაცისა-გან ჴორციელისა მოკუდეს და განქარდეს. და ამათ სამთა შ[ორი]ს. ვ[ითარც]ა თქუა არა რაჲ არს მას შინა რაჲ-მე სახჱ. მიმსგავსებული: ერთი ერთისა: რ[ამეთუ] არცა გონებაჲ მსგავსი არს სიტყჳსაჲ. და არცა სული მსგავსი არს გონებისაჲ. და არიან იგინი ერთი ბუნებითა და გამოცხადებულ არს აწ. ვ[ითარმე]დ სამებაჲ ერთი არს. და ერთი სამი არს განუყოფელად



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და განუშორებლად: ურთი-ერთას: და არცა ნებაჲ. განყოფილ: და არცა განზრახვაჲ მათი განწვალებით: ერთი ერთისა-გან. გარნი ერთი ბუნება არს: და რაჲღამცა იყო უნათლჱს ამისა. და უსარწმუნოჱს ამისა. ოდესღა საქმენი შეეწყოდიან და ეწამებოდიან: და ჩუენცა თუალითა ვხედავთ. ჭეშმარიტად: ვ[ითარმე]დ ერთი ესე სამი არს. და სამი ერთ არს: ესე არს კაცი. და კუალად ვიქცეთ აწ თქუმულსა მას ღმრთისასა: მსგავსებაჲ კაცისაჲ მისა. რომელსა იტყჳს ვქმნეთ კაცი ხატად და მსგავსად ჩუენდა: მაშა არა ვხედავა: რ[ამეთუ] მსგავსებაჲ კაცისაჲ მისა. ესე სამნი არიან. რომელ ესე არიან კაცსა შ[ორი] ს. გონებისა-გან უჩინოჲსა. და სიტყუაჲ შობილი მის-გან. და სული რომლისაგან იყნოსებს კაცი და ცხოვნდების. Then, the amīr al-muʾminīn said to the Jew: ‘Woe to you, Phineas! Why are you hostile to Christians? As I can see, the prophets testify about them. Likewise, the book of Genesis confirms their words and sayings, and David the prophet37 believes in their faith. And his [ John’s] reasoning also convinces me that man is made of three parts: the hidden and invisible mind, the word that is begotten by the mind according to one’s intent, and the soul through which man breathes and lives. These three things are in men. When one of those three disappears, a man’s body38 dies and disappears. And among these three things, as he said, there is no likeness or resemblance whatsoever between one another for the mind is neither like the word nor the soul like the mind. However, they are naturally united into one. It is now obvious that the Trinity is one. And one is three wholly and indivisibly. They are not divided with one another as far as will is concerned, nor are they split up in their thought. But there is only one nature between them. And it should be even clearer and more convincing when the facts are presented in orderly fashion and confirmed by testimonies. In truth, we see with our own eyes that one is three, and three is one. Such is man! And now we return to the word of God, which he says about man’s likeness to him: “Let’s make man in our image and likeness”.39 Therefore, how could I not see that man’s likeness to God consists in these three things that are found in him: the invisible mind, the word that is begotten from it, and the soul through which man breathes and lives?’40

37 It refers to the Psalms, of which King David is viewed as the author in Jewish and Christian traditions. 38 Literally, ‘the bodily man’. 39 Genesis 1. 26. 40 Life of John of Edessa, ch. 12 (translation mine; Georgian text in ‘Žitie i podvigi sv. Ioanna’, ed. by Kekelidze, pp. 123–24). In the Arabic version, only the last sentence of this chapter has been preserved.

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The caliph here plays the role of an arbitrator between the two contestants. The author of the Life shows that Harun al-Rashid is clearly endowed with rhetorical authority. Not only does he put an end to the debate and chooses John as the winner, but he also stands out as a staunch and persuasive advocate of the doctrine of the Trinity. The caliph’s apologetic performance, echoing John’s earlier theological demonstration, is part and parcel of the portrait that is drawn by the author of the Life of John of Edessa. Although the text does not specify that the caliph sincerely believes in the Trinity, he is undoubtedly convinced by the logical foundations that support this doctrine since he quotes the Scriptures and appears to be knowledgeable in such theological matters. Thus, for the author of the Life, a worthy caliph should use his full rhetorical abilities in favour of Christian doctrines and ideas without necessarily adhering to their fundamental tenets as a matter of faith. A third and last passage, from chapter eighteen, deserves mention here as well. It recounts the series of actions that the caliph took for the benefit of his Christian subjects after John had raised his daughter from the tomb: მაშინ ბრძანა დაცადებაჲ მტერობაჲ ბერძენთა თანა: და ბრძანა გამოცხადებად შჯულისა და ყოველთა წესთა ქრსიტეანეთაჲსა და სიხარულსა მათსა: და სამსახურებელთა მათთა უშიშად და უფარველად: და აღჰჴადა ქრისტეანეთა-გან ყოველი ხარკი და ჭირი და წუნობაჲ: რ[ამეთუ] ვერვინ იკადღებდა გამოცხადებად განსაცდელთა მათ-გან. რომელი შეემთხუეოდა ქრისტეანეთა სისხლისა მის-თჳს: და წარწყმედისა კაცთაჲსა. მათ ჟამთა შინა: და ბრძანა აღშჱნებაჲ ეკლესიათაჲ. ყოველსა საბრძანებელსა შინა მისსა. ხ[ოლო] ამბა იოვანჱს-თჳს. ბრძანა ყოველივე რაჲცა ინება მიმადლებად მისსა. Then, he [the caliph] ordered all hostilities to cease with the Romans.41 He also ordered for the Christians’ laws and all their customs to be made public, and for them to rejoice and gather for their services fearlessly and without hiding. He withdrew from Christians all taxes, burdens, and grievances for, in those days, nobody dared to denounce the hardships that befell Christians, because people feared for their blood and life. He ordered for churches to be built in all his realm and Abba John to be granted anything he desired.42 The Arabic version presents here a noteworthy variant. It states that the caliph would have converted to Christianity, but he feared his co-religionists’ hostile reaction: ‘He [the caliph] also lifted oppression from the people in general.

41 The term berʒenni can also be translated as ‘Greeks’. It refers to Melkite Christians. In the Arabic version, the word ‘Romans’ (rūm) is used (see ‘The Arabic Version of the Life of John of Edessa’, ed. and trans. by Lamoreaux and Khairallah, pp. 454 and 460). 42 Life of John of Edessa, ch. 18 (translation mine; Georgian text in ‘Žitie i podvigi sv. Ioanna’, ed. by Kekelidze, pp. 128–29).



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Indeed, if it had not been that his co-religionists would have hated to hear it, he would have entered the Christian faith’.43 Be that as it may, the caliph is presented in this short extract as a fully-fledged monarch, enjoying wide political and diplomatic powers. He ceases all his assaults against the Christians, enables them to practise their religion freely, and has many new churches built in his realm. The caliph is, thus, ideally portrayed as a courageous and strong sovereign who easily institutes measures that may displease his co-religionists. Unimpeded by internal strife or opposition, the Muslim caliph, as described by the author of the Life, is characterized by his strong political will. Having read and commented on these three passages in which the caliph makes an appearance, we now have a better understanding of what the ideal Muslim sovereign in the eyes of a Christian writer of the ninth or tenth century should be. Interestingly, these three passages highlight, above all, his authoritative dimension. He is first and foremost presented as a figure of power, entrusted with a multifaceted authority. First, he embodies divine authority since his kingship is established and confirmed by God, with one caveat: he should listen to His commandments and protect Christians’ rights. Second, he embodies rhetorical authority insofar as his words are strong and persuasive enough to establish religious truth. Third, he embodies political authority because he is able to take unpopular but necessary measures to guarantee full freedom of religion for all his Christian subjects. Ideally portrayed, the caliph thus appears, in this text, as a literary invention. But by staging such a Christianized caliph, the Life of John of Edessa aptly expresses what Christians desired of the Muslim sovereign and what kind of authority they wished him to wield and apply for the benefit of his subjects and particularly his Christian subjects. Expounding such a positive appreciation of the caliph, the Life of John of Edessa may be considered, thus, as a valuable witness to the ‘Christian al-Maʾmūn tradition’. Transmitted and attested in Christian texts of the early Islamic period, such as the Life of Theodore, Abū Qurrah’s Prayer for al-Maʾmūn,44 or the Wisdom of the Sibyl,45 this tradition presents a very positive view of caliphs, especially al-Maʾmūn, who embodies all the virtues of the Muslim monarch and whose benevolent and fair attitude was cultivated and cherished in the memory of Melkite Christians.46 Praised for his religious openness and his encouragement of inter-confessional debates, the caliph al-Maʾmūn figures prominently in these texts and acts as a protector of his Christian subjects against the assaults of Jews and Muslims alike. For example, striking similarities between the Life of John of Edessa and another text, the Debate of Theodore

43 ‘The Arabic Version of the Life of John of Edessa’, ed. and trans. by Lamoreaux and Khairallah, p. 454 and p. 460. 44 See Abū Qurrah’s Prayer for al-Maʾmūn, ed. by Swanson, pp. 87–90. 45 See the third Arabic recension (Arab. III) in Die Erzählung der Sibylle, ed. by Schleifer. 46 See Swanson, ‘The Christian al-Maʾmūn Tradition’, particularly, pp. 85–86.

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Abū Qurrah at the Court of al-Maʾmūn,47 may be noticed. Belonging to the majlis genre, the Debate of Theodore Abū Qurrah at the Court of al-Maʾmūn is an important witness to the Christian al-Maʾmūn tradition. According to this text, the great theologian and controversialist Theodore Abū Qurrah is summoned by al-Maʾmūn in the year 829 to take part in a series of debates with Muslim scholars. Using quotations from the Qurʾān in his apology of the Christian faith, Abū Qurrah finally defeats his opponents and is then richly rewarded by the caliph. What is noteworthy is that Harun al-Rashid, in the Life of John of Edessa, shares many features with the figure of al-Maʾmūn as presented in the Debate of Theodore Abū Qurrah: both take the initiative of inviting the bishop to the debate, they are well-disposed towards the Christian contestant, both act as fair arbitrators, and they kindly reward the Christians for their loyalty and unflinching faith. Furthermore, we should not forget that Harun al-Rashid is al-Maʾmūn’s father and that John of Edessa and Theodore Abū Qurrah (d. c. 825) are both Melkite bishops from Syria, the former being, perhaps, the recipient of Abū Qurrah’s Treatise on the Veneration of Icons.48 Thus, though we cannot ascertain that the Debate of Theodore Abū Qurrah exerted any sort of influence on the redactor of the Life of John of Edessa, what is obvious is that Harun al-Rashid, in the Life, appears as an idealized figure filtered through the lens of the ‘Christian al-Maʾmūn tradition’.

Concluding Remarks A final feature needs further commenting. The caliph, though impressed by the Christian faith and doctrine, does not convert to Christianity. From this point of view, the Life of John of Edessa stands in stark contrast to the Life of Theodore of Edessa in which the caliph receives baptism in the Tigris, makes public profession of his faith, and is ultimately martyred by the angered crowd.49 John’s victory could be said to be incomplete; though he elicited beneficial measures for his fellow Christians, he did not manage to convert the sovereign. Nevertheless, the author of the Life of John of Edessa seems to imply that the conversion of the caliph could lead to worse consequences for Christians. Because he remains Muslim, the caliph is unchallenged and does not run the risk of being overthrown and killed for his apostasy. In the eyes of the author of the Life, it is necessary for the caliph to cling to his native religion so that he may remain uncontested in his realm and enforce his political measures unimpeded. Wielding full

47 La discussion d’Abû Qurra, ed. by Dick. 48 See above, under the paragraph ‘Date and Provenance’. 49 See the Life of Theodore of Edessa, ch. 78–83 and ch. 107–11 (Žitie iže vo svjatyx otca našego, ed. by Pomjalowskij, pp. 80–88 and 113–16). On the motif of the conversion of the caliph, see Binggeli, ‘Converting the Caliph’.



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authority, the caliph, then, may pursue his religious and political agenda, including the protection of Christians. As a consequence, the fact that the caliph should remain a Muslim is a necessary condition for the well-being of Christians. Though conveyed in a legendary narrative, this moderate view expresses a deeply realistic attitude toward the caliph. The author appears to be fully conscious of the limits of Christian proselytizing in a Muslim context. But these limits are not to be crossed if the Christians intend to live in safe conditions and under the protection of the caliph. Far from being a utopian revolutionary, like the author of the Life of Theodore of Edessa, we may state that the author of the Life of John of Edessa stands out as a realistic conservative.

Bibliography Primary Sources Abū Qurrah’s Prayer for al-Maʾmūn, ed. and trans. by Mark N. Swanson, in ‘The Christian al-Maʾmūn Tradition’, in Christians at the Heart of Islamic Rule: Church Life and Scholarship in ʿAbbasid Iraq, ed. by David Thomas (Leiden: Brill, 2003), pp. 63–92 ‘The Arabic Version of the Life of John of Edessa’, ed. and trans. by John C. Lamoreaux and Hassan Khairallah, Le Muséon, 113 (2000), pp. 439–60 Le dialogue d’Abraham de Tibériade avec ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Hāšimī à Jérusalem vers 820. Étude, édition critique et traduction annotée d’un texte théologique chrétien, ed. and trans. by Giacinto Būlus Marcuzzo (Roma: Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 1986) La discussion d’Abû Qurra avec les ulémas musulmans devant le Calife al-Maʾmûn, ed. by Ignace Dick (Aleppo: [n. pub.], 1999) Die Erzählung der Sibylle, ed. by Joel Schleifer (Wien: Alfred Hölder, 1908) ‘The Georgian Version of the Martyrdom of Saint Michael, Monk of Mar Sabas Monastery’, trans. by Monica J. Blanchard, Aram, 6 (1994), 149–63 ‘La passion de S. Michel le Sabaïte’, ed. and trans. by Paul Peeters, Analecta Bollandiana, 48 (1930), 65–98 Théodore Abuqurra: Traité du culte des icônes, ed. by Ignace Dick ( Jounieh: Librairie Saint-Paul, 1986) ‘Teodore Edeselis cxovreba’, ed. by Korneli Kekelidze, in Kartuli hagiograpiuli ʒeglebi, 2 vols (Tbilisi: [n. pub.], 1918–1946), i, 165–73 ‘Žitie i podvigi sv. Ioanna, katolikosa Urhajskogo’, ed. by Korneli Kekelidze, in Eṭiudebi ʒveli kartuli liṭeraṭuris isṭoriidan, 13 vols (Tbilisi: Tbilisis universiṭetis gamomclemoba, 1956–1974), vii, 102–35 Žitie iže vo svjatyx otca našego Feodora arxiepiskopa edesskago, ed. by Ivan Pomjalovskij (Saint Petersburg: Tipografija imperatorskoj akademii nauk, 1892)

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Secondary Sources Abel, Armand, ‘La portée apologétique de la ‟Vie” de st. Théodore d’Édesse’, Byzantinoslavica, 10 (1949), 229–40 Baumstark, Anton, K. W. Hiersemann, Katalog 500. Orientalische Manuskripte: Arabische, syrische, griechische, armenische, persische Handschriften des 7.-18. Jahrhdrts (Leipzig: Hiersemann, 1922) Binggeli, André, ‘Converting the Caliph: A Legendary Motif in Christian Hagiography and Historiography of the Early Islamic Period’, in Writing ‘True Stories’: Historians and Hagiographers in the Late Antique and Medieval Near East, ed. by Arietta Papaconstantinou (Turnhout: Brepols, 2010), pp. 77–103 Caspar, Robert, Abdelmajid Charfi, Miguel de Epalza, Adel Théodore Khoury, and Paul Khoury, ‘Bibliographie du dialogue islamo-chrétien (1)’, Islamochristiana, 1 (1975), 125–82 ———, ‘Bibliographie du dialogue islamo-chrétien (6)’, Islamochristiana, 6 (1980), 259–99 Conybeare, Frederick C., A Catalogue of the Armenian Manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1913) Dick, Ignace, ‘Introduction’, in Théodore Abuqurra: Traité du culte des icônes ( Jounieh: Librairie Saint-Paul, 1986), pp. 12–82 Graf, Georg, Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur, 5 vols (Vatican: Biblioteca apostolica Vaticana, 1944–1953) Griffith, Sidney H., ‘Michael, the Martyr and Monk of Mar Sabas Monastery, at the Court of the Caliph ʿAbd al-Malik: Christian Apologetics and Martyrology in the Early Islamic Period’, Aram, 6 (1994), 115–48 ———, ‘Christians, Muslims and Neo-Martyrs: Saints’ Lives and Holy Land History’, in Sharing the Sacred: Religious Contacts and Conflicts in the Holy Land; First-Fifteenth Centuries ce, ed. by Arieh Kofsky and Guy G. Stroumsa ( Jerusalem: Yad Izhak ben Zvi, 1998), pp. 163–207 ———, ‘The Monk in the Emir’s Majlis: Reflections on a Popular Genre of Christian Literary Apologetics in Arabic in the Early Islamic Period’, in The Majlis: Interreligious Encounters in Medieval Islam, ed. by Hava Lazarus-Yafeh and others (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1999), pp. 13–65 ———, ‘The Qurʾān in Arab Christian Texts: The Development of an Apologetical Argument: Abū Qurrah in the Maǧlis of al-Maʾmūn’, Parole de l’Orient, 24 (1999), 203–33 ———, ‘The Life of Theodore of Edessa: History, Hagiography, and Religious Apologetics in Mar Saba Monastery in Early Abbasid Times’, in The Sabaite Heritage in the Orthodox Church from the Fifth Century to the Present, ed. by Joseph Patrich (Leuven: Peeters, 2001), pp. 147–69 Haddad, Rachid, La Trinité divine chez les théologiens arabes (750–1050) (Paris: Beauchesne, 1985) Kāmil, Murād, Catalogue of All Manuscripts in the Monastery of St Catherine on Mount Sinai (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1970)



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Kekelidze, Korneli, ‘Žitie i podvigi sv. Ioanna, katolikosa Urhajskogo’, Xristianskij Vostok, 2 (1914), 301–48 ———, Geschichte der kirchlichen georgischen Literatur, ed. by Michael Tarchnišvili and Julius Assfalg (Vatican: Biblioteca apostolica Vaticana, 1955) Khairallah, Hassan, ‘La joute de Jean d’Édesse avec le juif Phinéas’, Chronos, 4 (2001), 63–89 Lamoreaux, John C., ‘John of Edessa and Phineas the Jew at the court of Harun al-Rashid’, Karmo, 1 (1999), 5–21 ———, ‘The Life of John of Edessa’, in Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History, vol. i (600–900), ed. by David Thomas and Barbara Roggema (Leiden: Brill, 2009), pp. 898–901 Mingana, Alphonse, Catalogue of the Mingana Collection of Manuscripts, III: Additional Christian Arabic and Syriac Manuscripts (Cambridge: Heffer, 1939) Outtier, Bernard, ‘Le sort des manuscrits du “Katalog Hiersemann 500”’, Analecta Bollandiana, 93 (1975), 377–80 Roggema, Barbara, ‘The Martyrdom of Michael of Mār Saba’, in Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History. Volume 1 (600–900), ed. by David Thomas (Leiden: Brill, 2009), pp. 911–15 Rosenkranz, Simone, Die jüdisch-christliche Auseinandersetzung unter islamischer Herrschaft: 7.-10. Jahrhundert (Bern: Lang, 2004) Ševčenko, Nancy Patterson, ‘Mandylion’, in Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, ed. by Alexander P. Kazhdan (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), pp. 1282–83 Swanson, Mark N., ‘The Christian al-Maʾmūn Tradition’, in Christians at the Heart of Islamic Rule: Church Life and Scholarship in ʿAbbasid Iraq, ed. by David Thomas (Leiden: Brill, 2003), pp. 63–92 ———, ‘The Disputation of the monk Ibrāhīm al-Tạbarānī’, in Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History. Volume 1 (600–900), ed. by David Thomas (Leiden: Brill, 2009), pp. 876–81 Strothmann, Werner, ‘Die orientalischen Handschriften der Sammlung Mettler (Katalog Hiersemann 500)’, in XIX: deutscher Orientalistentag, ed. by Wolfgang Voigt (Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1977), pp. 285–93. Vasiliev, Alexandre, ‘The Life of St Theodore of Edessa’, Byzantion, 16 (1942–1943), 165–225

Maria Conterno

Whose Dream Comes True? Negotiation of Primacy in the ‘Legend of Theodosius and Theophilus’

In this paper, I will discuss a short hagiographical account which has the patriarch of Alexandria, Theophilus (d. 412), and the emperor, Theodosius I (347–395), as its protagonists. It is a fabled account of how Theophilus and Theodosius became patriarch and emperor, respectively. As the emperor who issued the edict of Thessalonica (380) and convened the second ecumenical council (Constantinople, 381), Theodosius the Great needs no introduction. The figure of Theophilus of Alexandria, however, can be more elusive, especially since he was overshadowed by his better-known nephew, Cyril of Alexandria.1 Theophilus was patriarch of Alexandria from 384 to 412 and a champion of the fight against paganism. His name is (in)famously linked to the destruction of the Serapeum of Alexandria in 391, and he was also quite active in the campaign against Origen and Origenism.2 Although he is universally renown as a fervent opponent of paganism, Theophilus is only venerated as a saint by the Coptic and the Syro-Orthodox Churches. And it is precisely in the Coptic literature that we find traces of what must have been a hagiographical cycle centred on this figure. There are, in fact, a few pseudo-epigraphical homilies ascribed to Theophilus himself in which the saint allegedly narrated his own miraculous performances as church builder and ‘pagan-slayer’.3 The story I will present and analyse here

1 Cyril (376–444), who succeeded Theophilus on the patriarchal throne, is immediately associated with the third ecumenical council (Ephesus, 431) and with the murder of the pagan scientist Hypatia (d. 415). 2 On the historical figure of Theophilus of Alexandria and on his role in the Christianization of Egypt and in the expansion of the Church of Alexandria, see the introduction to the English translation of his extant writings, Russell, Theophilus of Alexandria, pp. 5–41. 3 See Orlandi, ‘Theophilus of Alexandria’ and Orlandi, ‘Raphael in Alexandria’. The edition of one of the homilies is available online, on the website Corpus dei Manoscritti Copti Letterari: Orlandi, ‘Encomium in Raphaelem Archangelum (Relatio Theophili)’. Maria Conterno  •  holds a PhD in Byzantine Civilisation. She held post-doctoral research fellowships at Princeton University, CNRS (Paris), and Ghent University before transitioning to a career in sound engineering. Narrating Power and Authority in Late Antique and Medieval Hagiography across East and West, ed. by Ghazzal Dabiri, FABULAE 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2021) pp. 59-68 © FHG10.1484/M.FABULAE-EB.5.122491


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comes most likely from the Coptic cycle too, but it is only preserved in a tenth-century universal chronicle, written in Arabic by the Melkite patriarch of Alexandria, Eutychius, who is also known as Saʿīd ibn Baṭrīq (877–940). The work, entitled String of Pearls (Naẓm al-jawhar) but commonly referred to as Annals, has come down to us in two recensions: a short one, preserved in one single manuscript, which is currently considered as the original text,4 and a much longer one, which is, allegedly, a heavily interpolated reworking.5 The relationship between the two recensions demands further investigation,6 but the ‘Legend of Theophilus and Theodosius’ is present in both with just minor differences.7 Therefore, it safely can be assumed that it was part of Eutychius’s original text. The story runs as follows: the Roman Empire is experiencing a succession crisis. As a solution to the crisis, one of the bishops of Constantinople, Cyrus, encourages the populace to spend an entire night in prayer in church, asking God to choose an emperor for them. And so they do. The two heroes of the story, Theodosius and Theophilus, are then introduced: they are presented as inseparable friends; they are poor but pious and generous woodcutters who share the revenues of their hard work with the needy. Theodosius is thirty. Theophilus is twenty-five and also a wise philosopher. Next, we are informed that on the night Cyrus asks for prayers, Theodosius hears a voice calling to him in his sleep and then he has a wondrous dream. The next morning, Theophilus — who, besides being a woodcutter and a philosopher, is also an expert oneirocritic — interprets his friend’s vision as a premonition that he will be chosen as the new king while he himself will become patriarch. Theodosius is rather sceptical about the interpretation and suggests that it would be better to go to church to see who the new emperor will be. Ashamed of their poor clothes, they stay behind trying to hide in the crowd. At the end of the prayer, however, a bird appears with a crown of light in its beak and drops it on Theodosius’s head. The people understand that he is the emperor

4 The short version is preserved in the manuscript Library of the Monastery of St Catherine on Mount Sinai, MS Sinaiticus Arabicus 582. It was discovered by Michael Breydy who claimed that it is the author’s autograph and published its text accompanied by a German translation. See Eutychius – Patriarch of Alexandria, Das Annalenwerk des Eutychios von Alexandrien, ed. and trans. by Breydey. See also Breydy, Études sur Saʿīd ibn Baṭrīq. 5 The long recension was published at the beginning of the last century: Eutychius – Patriarch of Alexandria, Eutychii Patriarchae Alexandrini Annales pars prior, ed. by Cheikho and Eutychius – Patriarch of Alexandria, Eutychii Patriarchae Alexandrini Annales pars posterior, ed. by Cheikho. An Italian translation based on Cheikho’s text is available: Eutychius – Patriarch of Alexandria, Eutichio Patriarca di Alessandria (877–940), trans. by Pirone. 6 For a reconsideration of the relation between the Sinai codex and the rest of the manuscript tradition, see Conterno, ‘The Recensions of Eutychios of Alexandria’s Annals’. 7 Eutychius, Das Annalenwerk des Eutychios von Alexandrien, ed. and trans. by Breydey, pp. 77–86 (Arabic text), pp. 64–71 (German translation); Eutychius, Eutychii Patriarchae Alexandrini Annales, pp. 140, 12–144, 15 and 149, 3–24; and Eutychius, Eutichio Patriarca di Alessandria (877–940), trans. by Pirone, pp. 214–18 and 227–28.

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designated by God; they take hold of him, change his clothes, and have him crowned right away by the bishop. Theodosius is then taken to the royal palace on horse and his friend Theophilus, whose reading of the dream is proving correct (or at least half of it), is left behind. After that, poor Theophilus spends one whole year trying to see his friend again, asking the guards at the palace gate to deliver him a message, but he is always brushed off. Until one day the emperor, while praying, hears again the voice of his dream which reminds him of the friend he has forsaken. He immediately summons Theophilus and welcomes him warmly, apologizing for forgetting him. At that very moment, a messenger arrives and breaks the news of the death of the Patriarch of Alexandria. Theodosius appoints Theophilus to the seat on the spot, fulfilling, thus, the other half of the prophetic dream. Newly arrived in the city, Theophilus immediately wages war on paganism and idolatry, and his first exploit is the solution of an ancient enigma: a marble slab carries an inscription with three thetas and the sentence, ‘He who will interpret the meaning of these three theta will possess what they hide’. The three thetas — Theophilus explains — stand, of course, for God (Greek theos), Theodosios, and Theophilos. The slab is removed, and a treasure is found, which Theophilus uses to build a church, following Theodosius’s instructions. And they both lived happily ever after, hunting pagans and exposing heretics. The story of the slab with the three thetas is also attested in the Coptic sources,8 and this suggests that the whole account is likely to come from the Coptic hagiographical cycle centred on Theophilus in which Emperor Theodosius is also a prominent figure. Like any hagiographical text worthy of the designation, the narrative brims with biblical motifs that inform the characterization of the two protagonists. For instance, there are two heroes of humble origin. Especially noteworthy is that one is a king of humble origins which immediately recalls the biblical King David.9 In fact, there is a dichotomy between wilderness — the uncorrupted place from whence the heroes originate — and the city which hearkens to the tale of John the Baptist.10 Both heroes hear a voice calling them while sleeping which immediately reminds us of the prophet Samuel.11 The prophetic dream which reveals that the dreamer has been chosen for higher purposes brings another prophet to mind, namely, Ezekiel.12 A holy man’s oneiromancy for a man of power reminds us of Joseph and Daniel, who interpreted Pharaoh’s and Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams, respectively.13 And Theophilus was able to understand the mysterious

8 9 10 11 12 13

Orlandi, ‘Theophilus of Alexandria’ and Orlandi, ‘Raphael in Alexandria’, pp. 237–38. I Samuel 16. Matthew 3. 1–3; Mark 1. 1–8. I Samuel 3. 1–10. Ezekiel 1–3. Genesis 41; Daniel 2.



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inscription on the marble slab, just like Daniel was able to read the enigmatic writing on the wall in the palace of King Belshazzar.14 It is immediately clear that the holy man and the man of power in this story are both positive figures, and they are on very good terms: they are indeed in symbiosis. Moreover, the key features in their characterization are drawn from the very same pool of symbolic narrative elements. In fact, a certain amount of ‘cross-symbolism’ can be observed, since narrative elements that apply to holy men in the Bible are applied here to the (future) man of power: in the Bible, the night call and the prophetic dream are experienced by two prophets, Samuel and Ezekiel, whereas in our story they pertain to the man of power, Theodosius. We, thus, have a number of features combined together in a sort of ‘hagio-biblical pastiche’ that results in two protagonist-types, namely, a holy man and what we might call here a ‘holy king’. In effect, the man of power embodies a holy figure, too. We shall now look at the story line to see how holiness interacts with power. The plot is a very simple one. There is an initial condition of symbiosis and balance between the two protagonists: they are friends, they are both poor but generous, and they spend most of their time together, secluded from society. Then, the initial symbiosis is suddenly altered; one of the two (Theodosius) moves on and the other (Theophilus) is left behind. There is, thus, a rupture and even a physical separation between them. Eventually the period of separation ends, the two protagonists are reunited, and the symbiosis and the balance between them are restored. The two major changes — alteration and restoration — represent two turning points, or rather two steps forward, in the story. What triggers both turning points is a communication from the divine which is manifest in the form of a dream and of a calling voice. However, even though there is a return to balance, the story line is not circular, because the final condition of symbiosis between the two protagonists is significantly different from the initial one. The initial symbiosis can be described as fairly ‘static’: at the beginning, Theodosius and Theophilus are two pious but ordinary boys, whose only remarkable activity is to share their income with the poor. The final symbiosis, on the other hand, is more ‘active’: as emperor and patriarch, the two heroes become champions of the faith, strenuous church builders, and zealous pagan hunters. We have, therefore, two holy figures whose holiness is initially latent, as it were, but who are then upgraded to a position of power, and power ‘activates’ their holiness. In other words, they go from being ordinary good Christians to successfully teaming up against idolatry and heresy. This is a first layer of subtext, and it conveys already an interesting message for the subject of this volume. The story tells us that holiness and power are not mutually exclusive and that, in fact, the latter can boost the former. But there is more to it. Even if Theophilus and Theodosius eventually maintain their symbiosis, historically the positions of power they reach 14 Daniel 5.

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— political and ecclesiastical power, respectively — were not always in symbiosis: quite the opposite, ecclesiastical and political power were often in competition and in conflict. Ever since Christianity became religio licita (‘approved religion’), with Constantine’s Edict of Milan in 313, the emperors’ attempts at interfering in religious and ecclesiastical matters were met with staunch opposition by either Church or monastic leaders, both in the East and in the West: the schisms brought about by the councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon, Iconoclasm, and the Investiture Controversy are a few among the many examples we may list here. This tension is latent in our story as well but becomes clear when looking at Theodosius’s dream in detail. Indeed, Theodosius dreams that he is in a desert filled with all sorts of animals and trees and huge piles of wheat. Suddenly a fifty-arm-tall man appears at his side, shining like gold and carrying a double-edged sword with four seals on it and a golden shield. The man tells Theodosius that, from now on, he has power over all that he sees in that desert. As the two move forward together, the trees bend their branches in front of Theodosius, and all the animals bow down, except for the lions. Theodosius is scared when the lions roar, but the man reassures him and gives him the sword and the shield in front of which even the lions yield. Then they walk towards the sea and a column of light comes out of it, the man wraps Theodosius in the light which splits into three stars that glow differently. Back in the desert, lightning strikes and splits into two branches just above Theodosius’s head. After that, Theodosius notices a corner full of dry bushes and barren trees and on the other side is a large and beautiful tent. Inside the tent, he sees a lamb standing by a well of pure water. The man is now waiting for him with a long key in his hands. He gives Theodosius the key, but Theodosius is already holding the sword and the shield and asks how he is supposed to carry them all. The man replies that those are the orders. As he looks around, his friend Theophilus appears on his right, wearing a splendid white gown and a headdress. Theodosius hands the key over to him, and the two walk back home together. Once again, we are offered a fascinating medley of familiar symbolic elements drawn from the various prophetic dreams in the Bible to the hagiographic tradition, via apocalyptic literature. As Theophilus explains, the desert represents the world, the animals its inhabitants, the trees the generals and ministers, the wheat the reaches of the empire. The sword stands for the Sacred Scriptures, the two edges being the Old and the New Testament, and the four seals the Gospels. It is the weapon with which the emperor will subdue his enemies, the lions. The column of light represents God’s mercy, which will abound during his reign, whereas the three different stars refer to the Baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The lightening that splits in two over Theodosius’s head is the crown of the Empire which he will divide between his two sons. The dry bushes and barren trees are the people who do not believe in God, whereas the tent is, of course, the Church, the lamb the Eucharist, and the water source the Baptism.



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What interests us most here is the last item, the key. The key is given to Theodosius, but his hands are already busy with the shield and the sword, he does not know what to do with it, so he gives it to his friend to hold. Theophilus interprets this as follows: .‫واملفتح سلطان اعطيته لتقيم عىل الكنيسة رئيسا من قبلك وانك اعطيتني املفتاح فصريتني بطريرك‬ The key is the power that was given to you to appoint a leader for the Church [who will govern it] on your behalf. You have given the key to me, this means that you will make me patriarch.15 The message seems pretty clear: religious authority belongs to the emperor, and it is only because he is too busy juggling his other powers that he delegates it to the Church leaders. And he, the emperor, is the one who is supposed to choose the Church leaders. But where does the authority of the emperor come from? Where does political power come from? Theodosius’s dream gives a clear answer to this question too, but, before addressing this, it is worth going back to the beginning of the story. Curiously, when reading the beginning of the story, one is led to believe that political power may come from the people: ‫ وقال‬. ‫ ميلك علينا واحد من اوالد والنتيانوس امللك الكبري‬: ‫ فقال قوم‬. ‫فوقع بني الروم اختالف كثري يف املليكة‬ .‫ ال ميلك علينا الّ رجل نرىض حاله ويكون يقاتل عن دين النرصانية‬: ‫قوم‬ There arose among the Romans many disputes about [the succession to] the empire. Some would say, ‘One of the sons of the great King Valentinian shall reign over us’. Others said, ‘No one shall reign over us except a man of our own choosing, who will be fighting for the Christian faith’.16 Setting aside the historicity, or rather the lack thereof, of this depiction of the workings of the Roman Empire, we see upon careful reading that these opening lines function to illustrate precisely why the people cannot be the source of political authority. The introduction is set up only to highlight immediately the weakness of human judgement. We are told that six months later the people were still unable to reach an agreement, and the situation was aggravated by the dissent among the various Christian factions and doctrines. To extricate themselves from this impasse, the populace of Constantinople turns to the religious authority: they ask a bishop to choose a new emperor. Is the text placing ecclesiastical and political power on an equal level and suggesting that they can confer authority on each other? Not at all, because the bishop Cyrus refuses to appoint an emperor himself and encourages the people to pray to God instead. True, he does not claim that he lacks the authority to do this, he just says that since public opinion is divided, any

15 Eutychius, Das Annalenwerk des Eutychios von Alexandrien, pp. 81, 11–12 (Arabic text); Eutychius, Eutychii Patriarchae Alexandrini Annales, pp. 144, 1–2. 16 Eutychius, Eutychii Patriarchae Alexandrini Annales, pp. 140, 12–14.

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choice of his would be divisive. Yet, again, this reinforces the idea that human judgement is not up to the task. Who is to make the choice, then? Only God can make the right choice. The man in Theodosius’s dream, who hands him the sword and the key, is of course God. The emperor’s power is given to him by God and God only. What people and ecclesiastics can do is pray and ask God to manifest his will and show them the right choice. The first half of the story, therefore, seems to suggest the following state of affairs: God confers political power, and he who wields political power confers religious power. In other words, the emperor’s power comes from God, and the patriarch’s power comes from the emperor, not the other way around. So far, there seems to be no negotiation of primacy in this story but a rather blunt statement of one. Furthermore, since the statement comes directly from the mouths of two religious figures — the bishop Cyrus first and then the patriarch-to-be Theophilus — it seems as though the primacy of political power is even endorsed by the religious one. In the second half of the story, though, things become a little more nuanced. What reminds Theodosius of his friend, one year on, is the voice of the man in the dream who says to him, while he is praying: ‫يا تدوس نسيت صاحبك توفيل فقال تدوس يل سيدي من انت فقال له انا الرجل الذى كنت معك يف الصحرا‬ ‫اصي توفيل بطريرك‬ ّ ‫صيتك ملكا كذلك‬ ّ ‫فكام‬ ‘Theodosius, have you forgotten your friend, Theophilus?’ Theodosius said, ‘My lord, who are you?’ and he said to him, ‘I am the man who was with you in the desert and, as I made you emperor, I shall make Theophilus patriarch’.17 At that very moment, Theophilus dreams of the same man and hears the same revelation: ‘As I made Theodosius emperor, I shall make you patriarch’. What is the text actually stating? Whose dream comes true? Both do, eventually. But did Theodosius’s dream really leave him any choice? In his dream, Theodosius is given the key, namely the authority to appoint Church leaders, but when he looks around wondering what to do with the key, Theophilus promptly appears at his side: this means that Theophilus was chosen by God, too, and when Theodosius does not fulfil the prophesy, when he fails to comply with God’s will, God intervenes once more. While seemingly endorsing the primacy of political over religious power, the narrative provides a gentle reminder to the former that the ultimate source of any power is God; the emperor cannot do whatever he wants with the powers he has been given. Political and religious power are both holy because they are both bequeathed by God. They, therefore, share the same symbolic representation and ultimately also the same responsibilities, since

17 Eutychius, Das Annalenwerk des Eutychios von Alexandrien, pp. 85, 1–3; Eutychius, Eutychii Patriarchae Alexandrini Annales, pp. 149, 7–9.



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they both have to answer to God. In the ideal scenario, then, the two powers are in the hands of two holy figures who team up and whose cooperation leads to the best results for the faith, as it is eventually the case with Theodosius and Theophilus. On a first reading, this story may seem like an attempt on the part of the seat of Alexandria to claim closeness to, and deep ties with, the central power in Constantinople in its competition with the seat of Antioch and also with the Constantinopolitan seat itself (which is presented as vacant at the moment of the events and is remarkably irrelevant in the whole story). Since the narrative was most likely composed after the Chalcedonian break and the separation of the Coptic Church from the Imperial one,18 it also may be read as an attempt on the part of the Copts to appropriate the figure of Theophilus, a pre-Chalcedonian hero of the faith, therefore an unquestioned and shared one. And as an attempt to boast, through Theophilus, connections with one of the greatest, undisputed, Christian kings — Theodosius I — in order to stress the continuity of the Coptic Church with the orthodox past of Christianity. What emerges from the analysis I have offered here is that, at a deeper level, this text problematizes the relationship between holiness and power and between religious and political power, proposing eventually a solution that is clearly meant to work as a paradigm, as an ideal precedent. It sets an example that every emperor should follow — and we know how many did not, both from an anti-Chalcedonian and a Chalcedonian perspective.19 It gives emperors a warning that their power, especially their authority over the Church, is not absolute but subordinate to their own holiness and their compliance with God’s will. If this narrative dates indeed to the eighth century, like the rest of the Coptic hagiographical material on Theophilus, such a warning must have worked rather as a back-projection, a reproach to Chalcedonian emperors of the past, since by then the Coptic Church was definitively under Muslim rule and was no longer affected by imperial religious policies. However, it is worth asking ourselves whether this tale conveys any implicit message that could be relevant also at the time of its composition. How did Christian holy men fare under non-Christian power? With the establishment of Islamic rule on formerly Byzantine lands, the story of the various Christian communities remained one of intra-religious competition. Even though the contest to win the Christian ruler to their respective doctrinal sides was over, Chalcedonians and anti-Chalcedonians never put up a united front against Muslim power. Instead, they continuously competed to obtain, from the central or local 18 Tito Orlandi has dated the development of the ‘Theophilus cycles’ approximately to the eighth century, see Orlandi, ‘Raphael in Alexandria’. 19 Emperors who endorsed the Chalcedonian creed were reviled by the anti-Chalcedonian clergy (and sources) and the other way around. Both sides wanted the emperors to be in symbiosis with the clergy but each one with its own clergy, of course. As a result, each complains about different emperors in similar ways.

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authorities, recognition, privileges, or, simply even, an undisturbed life for their own communities. In this race, holy men — that is religious authorities — played a key role, acting as official interlocutors with political power and, therefore, mediating between the Christian communities and the Muslim authorities. Moreover, they also maintained some civic powers at a local level, the extension of which depended on variables such as the general mood of the Muslim authorities and the quality of their relationship with the Christian religious ones. In this scenario, any tale of symbiosis between holiness and power would come in handy. By appropriating the figure of Theophilus, the Coptic hierarchy claims for itself a history of positive and constructive cooperation with political power; one which is implicitly supposed to continue in the present and in the future. One further question may be asked; a question that is related more specifically to the author of the chronicle that preserves the story: why did Eutychius, a Melkite patriarch of Alexandria, find this piece of Coptic hagiography appealing and include it in his historical work? The easiest answer would be that the tale came in handy to Melkites as well, for the very same reasons outlined above. And although Theophilus was not venerated as a saint by the Chalcedonians, he was still one of the brightest stars in the pre-Chalcedonian past of the patriarchate of Alexandria. Eutychius’s biography, however, suggests more personal reasons too. We do not know much about Eutychius’s life, but the one detail about which we are relatively well informed — thanks to the continuation of the Annals written by Yaḥyá al-Anṭaki (c. 980–1066) — is the trouble Eutychius’s patriarchal election caused: the physicians and the notables of Cairo and Fustat, as well as some bishops, were opposed to him and incited the faithful against him to the point that the Melkites split up in two factions and the whole controversy was brought to the attention of the Muslim authorities, with even worse consequences.20 Although Yaḥyá does not explain the reasons for this fierce opposition, Michael Breydy argued it was due to his having been fast-tracked from layman to patriarch, having been a physician in the first place, and not a member of the Melkite hierarchy.21 If true, the humble origins story of two powerful leaders, Theophilus and Theodosius, provided a most authoritative precedent to the ‘exceptional’ circumstances of his election, bringing, thus, a strong historical argument in favour of his legitimacy. And not only in favour of his legitimacy but of his worthiness too. The story of Theophilus and Theodosius teaches that God can intervene in history and bestow power on outsiders in exceptional ways in order to activate their latent holiness. The unenigmatic writing is on the wall, and there is no need for a holy man to read it.

20 Yaḥyá ibn Saʿīd, Histoire de Yahya ibn Saʿid, ed. by Kratchkovsky and Vasiliev, pp. 713–19. 21 Breydy, Études sur Saʿīd ibn Baṭrīq, pp. 9–10.



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Bibliography Primary Sources Eutychius – Patriarch of Alexandria, Eutychii Patriarchae Alexandrini Annales pars prior, ed. by Louis Cheikho, Corpus scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, 50, Scriptores Arabici, 6 (Paris: Harrassowitz, 1906) ———, Eutychii Patriarchae Alexandrini Annales pars posterior, ed. by Louis Cheikho, Corpus scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, 51, Scriptores Arabici, 7 (Paris: Harrassowitz, 1909) ———, Das Annalenwerk des Eutychios von Alexandrien. Aus gewählte Geschichten und Legenden kompiliert von Saʿid ibn Baṭrīq um 935 a.d., ed. and trans. by Michael Breydey, Corpus scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, 471–72, Scriptores Arabici, 44–45 (Leuven: Peeters, 1985) ———, Eutichio Patriarca di Alessandria (877–940): Gli Annali, trans. by Bartolomeo Pirone (Cairo: Franciscan Centre of Christian Oriental Studies, 1987) Yaḥyá ibn Saʿīd, Histoire de Yahya ibn Saʿid, continuateur de Saʿīd ibn Batrīq, ed. by Ignatii Kratchkovsky and Alexander Vasiliev, Patrologia Orientalis, 18 (Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1924) Secondary Sources Breydy, Michael, Études sur Saʿīd ibn Baṭrīq et ses sources, Corpus scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, 450, Subsidia 69 (Leuven: Peeters, 1983) Conterno, Maria, ‘The Recensions of Eutychios of Alexandria’s Annals: MS Sinai 582 Reconsidered’, Adamantius, 25 (2019), 12–35 Orlandi, Tito, ‘Theophilus of Alexandria in Coptic Literature’, Studia Patristica, 16 (1985), 100–04 ———, ‘Raphael in Alexandria’, in Philologie, herméneutique et histoire des textes entre Orient et Occident: Mélanges et hommage à Sever J. Voicu, ed. by Francesca P. Barone, Caroline Macé, and Pablo A. Ubierna (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017), pp. 225–46 ———, ‘Encomium in Raphaelem Archangelum’ (Relatio Theophili), Corpus dei Manoscritti Copti Letterari [accessed 29 May 2019] Pirone, Bartolomeo, Eutichio Patriarca di Alessandria (877–940): Gli Annali (Cairo: Franciscan Centre of Christian Oriental Studies, 1987) Russell, Norman, Theophilus of Alexandria (London: Routledge, 2006)

Part 2

Authority at the Cross-Sections of Society

Federica Boldrini

Getting Naked for God Social and Juridical Implications of Renouncing Female Vanities in the Vitae of Mystics of Medieval Italy

‘When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind”’ (Mark, 3. 21)

Surrendering Female Vanities: A Hagiographic Topos Urban populations across Italy experienced a great change in their relationship with religion from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries. In the early medieval period, those who aspired to moral perfection opted for a complete separation from worldly affairs; they chose to commit themselves to the monastic life.1 Gradually, new forms of asceticism became popular in urban contexts. And, through mendicant preaching, every baptized person was called to conform his or her behaviour to the example which had been set by Christ: people were asked to change radically their way of living.2 Many of those who answered the call to this new kind of day-to-day holy living were women.3 This is confirmed by the large increase in the number of female lay saints — holy women who were never formally part of any established religious order — during the later medieval period. Indeed, ten out of fourteen women who were canonized between 1200 and 1500 were lay.4

1 As demonstrated by the prevalence of the so-called ‘monastic model’ in high medieval hagiography. See Leonardi, ‘Agiografia’, pp. 456–60. 2 One of the most remarkable effects of this evolution was the inclusion of a growing number of lay men and women among the officially venerated saints. See Vauchez, ‘Une nouveauté du xiie siècle’. 3 Vauchez, ‘Une nouveauté du xiie siècle’, p. 80. 4 Bartlett, Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things?, p. 72. Federica Boldrini  •  ([email protected]) is a researcher at the University of Parma; her first monograph is on medieval sumptuary laws in Italy. Narrating Power and Authority in Late Antique and Medieval Hagiography across East and West, ed. by Ghazzal Dabiri, FABULAE 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2021) pp. 71-83 © FHG10.1484/M.FABULAE-EB.5.122492


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Women who chose to answer the call and adhere to this new ‘christomimetic’ way of living outwardly exhibited their special dedication to God through sartorial choices — by renouncing their fashionable attires. It is not surprising, thus, that as far as female saints were concerned, the surrender of vanities was considered a central moment in hagiographical narrations. A good number of medieval Italian vitae describe holy women as avoiding vanities from their early childhood and they rely on the literary topos of the child wiser than his or her age, whose model may be traced back to St Luke’s infancy narratives, to do so.5 Hagiographers adopted this motif in order to attribute to women extraordinary moral virtues; virtues which were nearly unattainable except for those who were imbued with God’s favour. In this way, hagiographers were trying, as it were, to secure the holiness of their respective subjects. It was something of a necessity, as the women had not formally taken vows. These women, thus, were usually regarded with some degree of suspicion by clerical institutions.6 The hagiographers, then, were writing about women who considered themselves consecrated and who had undertaken a deeply mystical approach to religion while living in the lay world. We may cite, for example, the Vita devotissimae Benvenutae de Foro-Julii, which was dedicated to the blessed Benvenuta Boiani of Cividale del Friuli,7 a thirteenth-century member of the Third Order of St Dominic. In this vita, written around 1292/12948 and attributed to Benvenuta’s confessor, the Dominican Friar Conrad a Castillerio,9 Benvenuta is described as completely impervious to any temptation concerning her physical appearance from a very young age;10 she would later grow up to live as a consecrated virgin in her father’s house and as an ascetic who spent her time in contemplation. Other hagiographical accounts, meanwhile, actively note their protagonists’ early disdain for worldly attire. One such example is the Latin vita of St Frances of Rome,11 authored around 1447 by her confessor Giovanni Mattiotti,12 which claims that the saint despised luxury and mundane ornamentation from a very young age.13 In accordance with the penitential spirit which characterized the Mendicant Orders, other hagiographers instead turned to the narrative archetype of the reformed sinner which was used with significant dramatic effect by several

5 Luke 2. 46–52. 6 On the suspicious attitude of the clergy towards female mysticism, see Papi Benvenuti, ‘La santità al femminile’, p. 480. 7 On this figure, see Tilatti, Benvenuta Boiani. 8 See the remarks in the appendix to Dominican Penitent Women, ed. by Lehmijoki-Gardner and others, p. 244. 9 Opinion rejected in Acta Sanctorum, October, xiii, 148. 10 Vita devotissimae Benvenutae de Foro-Julii, p. 152. 11 On Frances, see Esch, ‘Francesca Bussa’ and Esch, ‘Santa Francesca Romana’. 12 On this author, see Bartolomei Romagnoli, ‘Mattiotti, Giovanni’. 13 Vita ex autographo Romano manuscripto auctore Joanne Mattiotti, i. 5, *94.

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authors. An often theatrically described renunciation of vanities is a key moment in the first part of many of these types of narratives. A particularly emblematic case is that of the fourteenth-century blessed Villana delle Botti,14 whose vita was written between 1420 and 1422 by the Dominican Girolamo di Giovanni15 who was a friar of the Florentine convent of S. Maria Novella. According to the vita, Villana was born in Florence to a wealthy merchant family16 and became a mystic after joining the Third Order of St Dominic. In the first chapter of her vita,17 great emphasis is placed on her conversion, which is described with supernatural overtones: given in marriage to a nobleman by her mother, Villana lived a carefree life in her younger years, seeking worldly pleasures. One day, while dressed in a rich outfit resplendent with gold and gems, she looked at herself in a mirror and saw a horribly disfigured image. She promptly understood this as a reflection of her soul, deformed by her sinful love for mundanity.18 Her subsequent rejection of luxury marked the beginning of her sanctified life, which she spent while retaining her lay status, under the spiritual guidance of the Dominicans of Florence. Even more surprising is the conversion of another Florentine ascetic, the blessed Umiliana de’ Cerchi, since it lacks miraculous elements. Umiliana, who was baptized Emiliana but changed her name to celebrate the virtue of humility, lived in the first half of the thirteenth century. She was born into one of the wealthiest and most prominent merchant families in Florence and became a member of the Third Order of St Francis.19 Her biographer, Vito da Cortona,20 was a first-generation member of the Order of Friars Minor and is said to have taken the habit from St Francis himself. His narration of her life begins quite abruptly with a description of Umiliana’s mysterious and deeply, socially embarrassing decision to give up all interest in her outward appearance.21 She was only one month into her marriage when she unexpectedly changed her attitude towards attire and cosmetics (a topic which will be addressed below). It is quite possible that her gesture was rooted in a pre-existing affinity for Franciscan spirituality, since she models St Francis’s behaviour. However, unlike other hagiographers who, as noted above, make

14 On Villana, see La beata Villana, ed. by Orlandi, and Papi Benvenuti, ‘In castro poenitentiae’, pp. 171–84. 15 On this author, see the comments in La beata Villana, ed. by Orlandi, pp. 33–35 and Pignatti, ‘Girolamo di Giovanni’. 16 In the first chapter of the vita, Villana’s father, the merchant Andrea, is said to have been ‘non maiori studio comparandis eternis mercibus quam terrenis avidissime intentus’ (‘not making less effort in “buying” eternal salvation than in buying worldly goods’). La beata Villana, ed. by Orlandi, pp. 76–77. 17 La beata Villana, ed. by Orlandi, pp. 76–90. 18 La beata Villana, ed. by Orlandi, p. 79. 19 On Umiliana, see Papi Benvenuti, ‘Cerchi, Umiliana (Emiliana)’; Papi Benvenuti, ‘Umiliana dei Cerchi’; and Schuchman, ‘Politics and Prophecy’. 20 On this author, see Storini, ‘Umiliana’. 21 Vita auctore Vito Cortonensi coevo, i, 387.



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it a point to note their subjects’ aversion to vanities from a young age, Vito da Cortona does not recount these possible antecedents. Rather, he describes Umiliana’s life choice as a sudden and inscrutable reaction to an irresistible spiritual calling. Other hagiographers chose instead to underline the connection between lay women conversions and the penitential preaching delivered by mendicant Friars; the censure of luxurious ornamentation was such a common subject of late medieval preaching that, unsurprisingly, sermons on this issue are often mentioned in hagiographies as the trigger for female saints’ conversions. This is the case, for example, in the vita of the blessed Diana degli Andalò, which was edited in the seventeenth century by the historian of the Dominican Order Tomàs Malvenda.22 Diana, who was one of the key figures in the establishment of the Dominicans in Bologna,23 was born in 1200 to a noble family of great ancestry. When she was an adolescent, she befriended the first Black Friars, including the founder himself, and used the influence deriving from her family connections to help the friars acquire the property on which the church of St Dominic was later built.24 According to her vita, the first step in her spiritual journey was hearing a sermon on the first Epistle to Timothy given to the people of Bologna by the renowned Dominican preacher Reginald of Orléans.25 His criticism of vain ornamentation shocked Diana, stimulating her to progressively detach herself from worldly interests.26 This marked the beginning of a life of evangelical perfection, which was partly spent by Diana in her family house, until she managed to publicly take the vows of the Second Order of St Dominic, finally overcoming her family’s opposition (a topic which will be addressed further below). Whatever its cause, renouncing vanities is always presented both as an act of penance and as a way of publicly displaying the adoption of a new way of living. Much like taking the habit of an order,27 which was required for more conventional forms of religious consecration, this gesture announced that the person in question had turned away from worldly aspirations. This is made explicit in a handful of vitae, such as that of Vallumbrosan Abbess Umiltà of Faenza:28 after describing the renunciation of female luxuries as a 22 On this author, see Robles, ‘Documentación’. 23 On Diana, see Alessandrini, ‘Andalò, Diana d’’. On her close relationship with the first Dominican leaders, with special reference to her intense spiritual friendship with the blessed Jordan of Saxony, the second Master General of the Order of Preachers, see Vann, To Heaven with Diana!, especially pp. 9–15. 24 D’Amato, I domenicani a Bologna, i, 43. 25 On this remarkable personality, see D’Amato, I domenicani a Bologna, i, 39–48. 26 Vita a Thoma Malvenda, i. 3, 359. 27 On this subject, with a description of the habit adopted in the most prominent religious orders, see Augé, L’abito religioso, especially pp. 9–135. 28 On this prominent personality of late medieval female monasticism, see Mooney, ‘Authority and Inspiration’.

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moment of spiritual transformation for the protagonist of his narrative, the author, a fourteenth-century monk of the same order, took care to mention the subsequent despair of her family, who understood from this gesture that all hopes of lay success for their child — most likely marriage into an affluent family — were destined to perish.29 Strikingly, in these hagiographies, there is a remarkable difference between women who choose to formally join an order and those who prefer to remain among the laity. Especially when it comes to their families and, relatedly, sartorial choices. Entering a monastery or a convent of the new mendicant orders implied an indisputable breach with the logic regulating lay life. In the case of women, this meant a chance to break free from paternal or marital power, removing themselves from a wide range of family duties and social conditionings.30 Lay women who chose to live in ascesis and contemplation or devoted themselves to works of charity without leaving their family home were, on the contrary, exposed to a great number of pretences (which will be addressed momentarily) concerning their external conduct. Since their innovative ways of sanctifying their lives were often in contrast to social conventions, their religious choices frequently encountered substantial resistance from relatives.31 Highly visible and rich with symbolic meanings, outward attire was one of the principal grounds for such conflict. For this reason, in medieval hagiography, the narration about a holy lay woman relinquishing ornamentation is quite frequently associated with references to familial conflicts.

The Duty to Keep an Attractive Appearance and the Resulting Familial Conflicts If analysed in their entirety, accounts of these familial conflicts highlight the existence of two different kinds of claims, familial and spousal, concerning female appearance, which limited the lay mystics’ freedom in pursuing their ascetic calling. The first claim is with regard to ornamentation which was a customary and completely licit way for lay women to find and retain their place within the order of families. For indeed, cosmetics and other female vanities were commonly used to improve one’s appearance in order to increase one’s chances of finding an appropriate suitor. From this perspective, it is easier to understand the intensity of maternal pressure to induce maidens of marriageable age to improve their physical appearance as much as possible as reported in many female hagiographies. This latter is exemplified in the

29 Vita auctore monacho, i, 207. 30 Vauchez, ‘L’idéal de sainteté’, pp. 331–32. 31 The subject of familial conflicts in female hagiography has been extensively addressed in Barbero, Un santo in famiglia, pp. 259–300.



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famous Legenda maior (Great Legend) of St Catherine of Siena,32 which was written by her confessor and spiritual director Raymond of Capua.33 In the Legenda, the wife of a humble but rather wealthy textile artisan, Catherine’s ambitious mother desires to find a wealthy groom for her daughter. She tries to persuade her daughter to take better care of her appearance, to wash her face more often, to fashion her hair into elaborate styles, and to remove her blemishes.34 After encountering firm resistance from Catherine, who had already secretly taken a private vow of virginity, she finds a way to undermine her daughter’s resolution: she asks Bonaventura, Catherine’s older and already married sister, to intervene. Under her sister’s guidance, the future saint agrees to adorn herself,35 an act for which she feels bitter remorse for the rest of her life.36 The frequency of the topos — maternal pressure to improve one’s appearance — in late and post medieval female hagiography is likely due, in part, to the vast influence exerted by Raymond of Capua’s text. The impact of Legenda maior can be identified in the hagiography of one of the most famous ascetics of the sixteenth century, the Florentine nun Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi, who was also a great admirer of the Sienese saint, Catherine. According to the text, which was written some decades after her death by the Jesuit father Virgilio Cepari, de’ Pazzi was born into a very prominent patrician family. However, during her childhood, she was so contemptuous of luxury that coeval Florentine parents used to single her out as a model of modesty for their vain daughters.37 Her own mother, nevertheless, did not appreciate her restraint and once reduced her to tears by forcing her to wear a splendid white robe that she had made for her.38 These two examples illustrate how girls aspiring to modesty found themselves caught between a double set of conflicting imperatives: on the one hand, was their own aspiration to attain moral perfection and, on the other, was their commitment to obey parental commands. If for this reason, while still living with their families, girls of marriageable age had little control over their exterior appearance, matters did not improve after their entrance into marriage. Hence, we turn to the second claim made on women’s appearance. According to canon law, one of the main juridical 32 For more recent work on the great Sienese saint, see the collected works in Muessing, Ferzoco, and Mayne Kienzle, eds, A Companion to Catherine of Siena. 33 On this author and his intense relationship with St Catherine, see Coakley, Women, Men, and Spiritual Power, pp. 170–92. 34 Vita auctore fratre Raimundo Capuano, i. 2. 41, 873. Quite similar passages are included in another famous Dominican hagiography, the Vita mirabilis et mors pretiosa venerabilis sororis Rosae de Sancta Maria Limensis, by the eminent English Dominican Leonard Hansen, published in 1664. In this vita, long passages describe maternal pressures on Rosa to improve her looks. Vita mirabilis, ii. 14–19, 905–06. 35 Vita auctore fratre Raimundo Capuano, i. 2. 42, 873. 36 Vita auctore fratre Raimundo Capuano, i. 2. 42, 873. 37 Alia vita a patre Virgilio Cepario, iii. 22, 253. 38 Alia vita a patre Virgilio Cepario, iii. 22–23, 253.

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effects of marriage was that in exchanging nuptial consent, spouses acquired the so-called ius in corpus, the sexual right over the other’s body.39 From this basis, canon lawyers deduced the existence of the precise obligation for wives to maintain a pleasant appearance. This opinion was confirmed by at least one relevant patristic text, the Augustinian epistle to the wealthy matron Ecdicia. In this letter, the holy bishop of Hippo sternly reproaches the matron for her inconsiderate choice, namely, taking the penitent habit against her husband’s will, which led him to despair and ultimately to adultery.40 The blame for the husband’s adultery clearly lay with the wife’s sartorial choices. In his letter, Augustine (354–430) went on to assert that the sin implicit in such marital disobedience and the subsequent scandal frustrated the spiritual good arising from ascetic practices. The passage in which this principle is stated and which is included in the Decretum Gratiani (Gratian’s Decree)41 — the most important canon law collection of the twelfth century — assumed a universal juridical significance over the centuries. It became part of the so-called ius vetus (ancient law) — the canon law that was in force in the Catholic Church until 1917. Medieval jurists interpreted this principle as a formal recognition of a woman’s obligation to conform her looks to her husband’s will.42 The discussion of this subject in canon law treatises helps us to better appreciate why in the hagiographies of married saints, holy women are often described voluntarily, even if reluctantly, mitigating their penitential approach to outward appearance in order to meet their husbands’ requests. They are conscious that through marriage they had ceded the power of control over their bodies to their husbands. Take, for example, the case of the blessed Aldobrandesca Ponzi of Siena, a thirteenth-century member of the Humiliati movement.43 In her vita, written by the sixteenth-century Dominican author Gregorio Lombardelli, Aldobrandesca is initially described as having convinced her husband to refrain from consummating their marriage for the first six or eight days and to spend them instead in prayer and penitence. Afterwards, having meditated on her submission to her spouse, which implied ceding to him control over her appearance, she started complying with his will, dressing for his appreciation while, at the same time, taking great care to avoid attracting other men’s lust.44

39 On the matter of ius in corpus and, in general, on the canon law regulation on conjugal sexuality in the medieval period, see Makowski, ‘The Conjugal Debt’. 40 Augustine, Epistulae, Ep. 262, 9, col. 1081. 41 Causa XXXIII quaestio 5 capitulum 4, Decretum Magistri Gratiani, ed. by Friedberg, i, cols 1251–52. 42 For more on this, with special reference to Giovanni d’Andrea (on whom see below), cf. Boldrini, Per la storia, pp. 349–50. 43 On this figure, see Andrews, The Early Humiliati, pp. 38–63 and Argenziano, ‘Ponzi, Aldobrandesca, beata’. 44 Vita ex Italico Gregorii Lombardelli, i. 5, 473.



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Providing a basis for the exertion of marital control over wives’ appearances in canon law had a further, relevant juridical consequence as illustrated by Giovanni d’Andrea, one of the most influential canon lawyers of the fourteenth century. In one of his famous Quaestiones mercuriales (Wednesday proceedings45), d’Andrea affirmed, on the basis of the aforementioned epistle to Ecdicia, that according to Romano-canonical universal law (ius commune), women had to adorn themselves according to their husband’s will (ad voluntatem viri); even to the point of ignoring ecclesiastical exhortations to modesty. Giovanni d’Andrea went further and discussed the possibility of a conflict between marital desiderata and the legally enforceable ecclesiastical provisions about female appearance which were often adopted by bishops in the form of episcopal decrees. This conflict was resolved by d’Andrea who introduced a distinction between two different levels on which married women were called to obey: outwardly to their husbands, who had immediate rights over their bodies, and inwardly (or more aptly in spirit) to canon law precepts.46 A very similar distinction is mentioned in some female hagiographies with reference to the conflict between the aspiring ascetics’ penitential ambitions and their duty to respect marital precepts. Much like the juridical contrast between the ius in corpus acquired by husbands and the obligations deriving from ecclesiastical precepts on the subject of female appearance, this moral dilemma was solved by inviting women to live their ascetic calling in their interiority, without any potentially unsettling external action. In other words, lay female saints were depicted using various techniques to navigate societal and canonical power and the authority they derived from their own spirituality and the various orders to which they belonged. A prime example is the hagiography of Luchina of Soncino, a fifteenth-century member of the Third Order of St Dominic. According to her sixteenth-century vulgar vita, Luchina was forced by her ‘devil-inspired’ husband to give her penitential habit back to the Dominican fathers who had provided her with spiritual guidance. But she imagined that the habit was always with her in her mind.47

Female Vanities as Instruments of Social SelfRepresentation: Ascetics, Dress, and Class Tensions Women’s appearances were not limited solely by the marital ius in corpus and a family’s ambitions for their daughters. In fact, universally accepted social conventions regarding female garments carried great symbolic import for a family’s status. Therefore, social conventions played an equally active role in

45 It was common for medieval scholars to publish collections of their lessons, and Wednesday was the day reserved for debates on particularly controversial issues. 46 Giovanni d’Andrea, Quaestiones mercuriales, vi. 5. 13. 26, f. 13vb. 47 Razzi, Vite dei santi, p. 100.

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regulating women’s sartorial choices.48 Deeply conscious of social distinctions, which were often rooted in feudal logic, the medieval world attributed great significance to the richness of apparel as a means of making social hierarchies fully visible. This mindset is quite visible in the vitae of late medieval female saints of northern and central Italy. Indeed, in the economically well-developed urban realties of this area, vanities had gained special importance as an instrument of social self-representation.49 By the way they dressed, noble women portrayed the exact social standing of their house: thus, they were hardly free to choose what to wear. The wrong choice, for instance, could lead to family dishonour as well as to a highly undesirable confusion about their precise status. Awareness of the symbolism behind sartorial choices in late medieval Italy may help us to understand seemingly bizarre behaviours described in female hagiographies. For example, when the aforementioned Umiliana de’ Cerchi was forced to take back her luxurious garments out of respect for her husband (ob viri reverentiam50), she found a cunning way to combine her drive to give away family money to charity with her sense of social duty — to make sure her outward appearance appropriately reflected her husband’s social standing, she cut up her dresses. As garments for upper class women were usually made out of a greatly exaggerated quantity of luxurious cloth, Umiliana took advantage of such excess by extracting as much fabric as possible from her gowns by shortening them and taking them in. Thus, she was able to retain a socially appropriate appearance. At the same time, she was able to reuse the extra scraps from the precious material to create and sell accessories (in particular sleeves51) and to give all the proceeds to charity.52 In Italy, efforts to maintain an appropriate appearance became increasingly common in subsequent centuries, when the function of clothing as a status symbol was more precisely codified not only by moralists but also by legislators. Indeed, legislators enacted sumptuary laws selectively permitting vanities to women of different social strata so as to define precisely distinctive aesthetics for each social class.53 In a context in which female appearance was regulated for the purposes of social classification to such a fine degree in its details, it is easy to understand how women born in the upper classes were not allowed to publicly adopt excessively modest outfits. Such sartorial prohibitions strikingly increased the popularity of secret mortifications of the flesh as in the case of the blessed Osanna Andreasi,54 a sixteenth-century Dominican

On this widespread custom, see Hunt, Governance of the Consuming Passions, pp. 223–28. Kovesi Killerby, Sumptuary Law in Italy, p. 116. Vita auctore Vito Cortonensi, i, 386. On the importance of sleeves as economic assets and objects of fashion, see Urso, Tra essere e apparire, pp. 205–06. 52 Vita auctore Vito Cortonensi, i. 3, 386. 53 Hughes, ‘Sumptuary Law’, pp. 149–50. 54 On Andreasi, see Redigonda, ‘Andreasi, Osanna’. The social significance of the way this holy woman dressed has been discussed in detail in Tosi Brandi, ‘Un abito per Osanna’. 48 49 50 51



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tertiary of aristocratic origin from the Lombard city of Mantova. In her vita, she is said to have worn a hair shirt under her refined linen blouses.55 While this is described by the hagiographer as an act of humility, it illustrates how a woman of her standing — as someone who was admitted to the ducal court and sometimes even associated with the exercise of public functions — had to conceal her ascetic practices since she could not avoid dressing for status. Significantly, her biographer highlights that while she constantly avoided luxury, she naturally tended to opt for sober, neat clothing which were adequate with regards to her outward status.56 Indeed, the practice of secretly mortifying the flesh by wearing a cilice under lavish attire is well attested in Italian literary sources.57 Such descriptions eloquently describe how lay women with ascetic aspirations were forced to live out their choices in secret, if not merely in spirit, and to conform their external conduct to social customs to avoid any manifestation of radical religiosity that could be considered unsettling in women. To conclude briefly, lay medieval female saints — those who were not formally part of any established ecclesiastical institution but nevertheless pursued ascetic practices — encountered many obstacles while participating in the highly symbolic sphere of social customs, especially with regard to their outward appearances. Described in precious detail in their vitae, it is interesting to note that their habit of living their ascetic choices in secret prefigured the strictly disciplined, devotion-centred, and mostly internalized way of experiencing religion that would be imposed on lay women after the Counter-Reformation.58

Bibliography Primary Sources Alia vita a patre Virgilio Cepario Societatis Jesu, in Acta Sanctorum (Paris: apud Victorem Palmé, 1866), May, vi, 247–301 [St Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi] Augustine, Epistulae, in Patrologiae cursus completus: series Latina, ed. by JacquesPaul Migne, 221 vols (Paris: Petit-Montrouge, 1844–1864), 33 (1845) La beata Villana terziaria domenicana fiorentina del secolo XIV, ed. by Stefano Orlandi (Firenze: Rosario, 1955) Decretum Magistri Gratiani, in Corpus Iuris Canonici, ed. by Emil Friedberg (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1879), 1 55 Vita per fratrem Franciscum Silvestrum Ferrariensem, i. 1. 15, 562. 56 Vita per fratrem Franciscum Silvestrum Ferrariensem, i. 1. 15, 562. 57 Another famous example was that of the blessed Clara Gambacorta from Pisa. On this, see Elliott, ‘Dress as Mediator’, p. 299 n. 6. 58 On the progressive establishment of this new form of female religiosity, see Zarri, ‘From Prophecy to Discipline’.

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Dominican Penitent Women, ed. by Maiju Lehmijoki-Gardner, Daniel Ethan Bornstein, and E. Ann Matter (New York: Paulist Press, 2005) Giovanni d’Andrea, Quaestiones mercuriales (Pavia: Iohannisantonii Birrete Franciscique Gyrardenghi, 1491) Razzi, Silvano, Vite dei santi e beati del sacro ordine dei frati predicatori (Firenze: per gli eredi di Jacopo Giunta, 1588) Vita a Thoma Malvenda ex variis collecta, in Acta Sanctorum (Paris: apud Victorem Palmé, 1867), June, ii, 358–63 [Bl. Diana degli Andalò] Vita auctore fratre Raimundo Capuano, Ordinis Praedicatorum Magistro generali, ipsius Sanctae Confessario, in Acta Sanctorum (Paris: apud Victorem Palmé, 1866), April, iii, 862–969 [St Catherine of Siena] Vita auctore monacho sui Ordinis et familiari, in Acta Sanctorum (Paris: apud Victorem Palmé, 1866), May, v, 207–14 [St Umiltà of Faenza] Vita auctore Vito Cortonensi coevo, in Acta Sanctorum (Antwerpen: apud Michaelem Cnobarum, 1685), May, iv, 385–402 [Bl. Umiliana de’ Cerchi] Vita ex autographo Romano manuscripto auctore Joanne Mattiotti, in Acta Sanctorum (Paris: apud Victorem Palmé, 1865), March, ii, pp. *93-*178 [St Frances of Rome] Vita ex Italico Gregorii Lombardelli, in Acta Sanctorum (Paris: apud Victorem Palmé, 1866), April, iii, 472–76 [Bl. Aldobrandesca of Siena] Vita mirabilis et mors pretiosa venerabilis sororis Rosae de Sancta Maria Limensis, in Acta Sanctorum (Antwerpen: apud Bernardum Albertum van der Plassche, 1741), August, iv, 902–1029 [St Rosa of Lima] Vitae devotissimae Benvenutae de Foro-Julii, in Acta Sanctorum (Paris: apud Victorem Palmé, 1883), October, xiii, 152–85 [Bl. Benvenuta Boiani] Vita per fratrem Franciscum Silvestrum Ferrariensem, in Acta Sanctorum (Paris: apud Victorem Palmé, 1867), June, iv, 557–601 [Bl. Osanna Andreasi] Secondary Sources Alessandrini, Ada, ‘Andalò, Diana d’’, in Dizionario biografico degli Italiani (Roma: Istituto dell’Enciclopedia italiana, 1961), 3, pp. 48–50 Andrews, Frances, The Early Humiliati (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000) Argenziano, Raffaele, ‘Ponzi, Aldobrandesca, beata’, in Dizionario biografico degli Italiani (Roma: Istituto dell’Enciclopedia italiana, 2015), 84, pp. 812–14 Augé, Matias, L’abito religioso. Studio storico e psico-sociologico dell’abbigliamento religioso (Roma: Claretianum, 1977) Barbero, Alessandro, Un santo in famiglia: vocazione religiosa e resistenze sociali nell’agiografia latina medievale (Torino: Rosenberg & Sellier, 1991) Bartlett, Robert, Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things? Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013) Bartolomei Romagnoli, Alessandra, ‘Mattiotti, Giovanni’, in Dizionario biografico degli Italiani (Roma: Istituto dell’Enciclopedia italiana, 2009), 72, pp. 322–25



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Boldrini, Federica, Per la storia delle leggi suntuarie. Il Tractatus de ornatu mulierum di Orfeo Cancellieri (Milano: Monduzzi, 2019) Coakley, John W., Women, Men, and Spiritual Power: Female Saints and Their Male Collaborators (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006) D’Amato, Alfonso, I domenicani a Bologna (Bologna: ESD, 1988) Elliott, Dyan, ‘Dress as Mediator between Inner and Outer Self: The Pious Matron of the High and Later Middle Ages’, Mediaeval Studies, 53 (1991), 279–308 Esch, Arnold, ‘Francesca Bussa’, in Dizionario biografico degli Italiani (Roma: Istituto dell’Enciclopedia italiana, 1997), 49, pp. 594–99 ———, ‘Santa Francesca Romana e la società romana del suo tempo’, in Francesca Romana. La santa, il monastero e la città alla fine del Medioevo, ed. by Alessandra Bartolomei Romagnoli (Firenze: Sismel, 2013), pp. 3–21 Hughes, Diane Owen, ‘Sumptuary Law and Social Relations in Renaissance Italy’, in The Italian Renaissance: The Essential Readings, ed. by Paula Findlen (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002), pp. 124–50 Hunt, Alan, Governance of the Consuming Passions: A History of Sumptuary Law (New York: St Martin’s, 1996) Kovesi Killerby, Catherine, Sumptuary Law in Italy: 1200–1500 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2002) Leonardi, Claudio, ‘Agiografia’, in Lo spazio letterario del Medioevo. I. Il Medioevo latino. Vol. i. La produzione del testo, dir. Guglielmo Cavallo, Claudio Leonardi, and Enrico Menestò (Roma: Salerno, 1993), ii, pp. 421–62 Makowski, Elizabeth M., ‘The Conjugal Debt and Medieval Canon Law’, Journal of Medieval History, 3 (1977), 99–114 Muessing, Carolyn, George Ferzoco, and Beverly Mayne Kienzle, eds, A Companion to Catherine of Siena (Leiden: Brill, 2012) Mooney, Catherine M., ‘Authority and Inspiration in the Vitae and Sermons of Humility of Faenza’, in Medieval Monastic Preaching, ed. by Carolyn Muessing (Leiden: Brill, 1998), pp. 123–44 Papi Benvenuti, Anna, ‘Cerchi, Umiliana (Emiliana)’, in Dizionario biografico degli Italiani (Roma: Istituto dell’Enciclopedia italiana, 1979), 23, pp. 692–96 ———, ‘Umiliana dei Cerchi. Nascita di un culto nella Firenze del Duecento’, Studi Francescani, 77 (1980), 87–117 ———, ‘In castro poenitentiae’: santità e società femminile nell’Italia medievale (Roma: Herder, 1990) ———, ‘La santità al femminile. Funzioni e rappresentazioni tra Medioevo ed Età moderna’, in Les fonctions des saints dans le monde occidental (iiie-xiiie siècle). Actes du colloque de Rome, 27–29 octobre 1988 (Roma: École Française de Rome, 1991), pp. 467–88 Pignatti, Franco, ‘Girolamo di Giovanni’, in Dizionario biografico degli Italiani (Roma: Istituto dell’Enciclopedia italiana, 2001), 56, pp. 559–60 Redigonda, Abele L., ‘Andreasi, Osanna’, in Dizionario biografico degli Italiani (Roma: Istituto dell’Enciclopedia italiana, 1961), 3, pp. 131–32 Robles, Laureano, ‘Documentación para un estudio sobre Tomas Maluenda, O. P. (1565–1628)’, Revista Española de Teologia, 38 (1978), 113–40

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Schuchman, Anne M., ‘Politics and Prophecy in the “Life” of Umiliana dei Cerchi’, Florilegium, 17 (2000), 101–14 Storini, Monica Cristina, ‘Umiliana e il suo biografo. Costruzione di un’agiografia femminile fra XIII e XIV secolo’, Annali d’italianistica, 13 (1995), 19–39 Tilatti, Andrea, Benvenuta Boiani. Teoria e storia della vita religiosa femminile nella Cividale del secondo Duecento (Trieste: Lint, 1994) Tosi Brandi, Elisa, ‘Un abito per Osanna. La moda come linguaggio non verbale alla fine del Medioevo’, in In gloria 1515–2015. Osanna Andreasi da Mantova, ed. by Angela Ghirardi and Rosanna Golinelli Berto (Mantova: Casandreasi, 2016), pp. 171–82 Urso, Carmelina, Tra essere e apparire. Il corpo della donna nell’Occidente medievale (Acireale: Bonanno, 2005) Vann, Gerald, To Heaven with Diana! A Study of Jordan of Saxony and Diana D’Andalò with a Translation of the Letters of Jordan (London: Collins, 1960) Vauchez, André, ‘L’idéal de sainteté dans le mouvement féminin franciscain aux xiiie et xive siècles’, in Movimento religioso femminile e Francescanesimo nel secolo XIII. Atti del VII convegno internazionale. Assisi 11–13 ottobre 1979 (Assisi: Società internazionale di studi francescani, 1980–81), pp. 317–37 ———, ‘Une nouveauté du xiie siècle: les saints laïcs de l’Italie communale’, in L’Europa dei secoli XI e XII fra novità e tradizione: sviluppi di una cultura (Milano: Vita e pensiero, 1989), pp. 57–80 Zarri, Gabriella, ‘From Prophecy to Discipline 1450–1650’, in Women and Faith: Catholic Religious Life in Italy from Late Antiquity to the Present, ed. by Lucetta Scaraffia and Gabriella Zarri (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), pp. 83–112


Carlo   G. Cereti

Zoroaster’s Legend in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

The fullest versions of Zoroaster’s legend are found in a Middle Persian work, book VII of the Dēnkard (Acts of the Religion), and in a New Persian poem, the Zarātushtnāmah (Book of Zoroaster). Though sharing a number of details, these two books each present a different narrative structure and offer a window onto the social worlds from which they emerge. Dēnkard VII places Zoroaster’s dialogue with Ahura Mazdā (Middle Persian Ohrmazd)1 in year 3000 of human existence, in other words, half way between Gayōmart, the first man in the Zoroastrian tradition, and Sōšāns, one of Zoroaster’s three future sons who are also eschatological saviour figures, thus making Zoroaster the central pivot of an eschatological drama. Meanwhile, the Zarātushtnāmah does not mention the messengers of Ohrmazd who came before the prophet; it simply traces Zoroaster’s lineage back to Frēdōn (New Persian Firaydūn), the mytho-historical king who sets the world aright after slaying the world-destroying dragon, Dahāg (New Persian Z̤ aḥḥāk).2 Middle Persian literature preserves other versions of Zoroaster’s legend, some limited to one or the other aspect of this narration, some more comprehensive. One episode, the Battle of the Faith between Wištāsp (New Persian Gushtāsp), Zoroaster’s royal patron, and Arjāsp, the Turanian ruler who rejects Zoroaster’s religion, is found in the Middle Persian Ayādgār ī Zarērān (Memorial of Zarēr), a text belonging to the epic rather than to the priestly tradition of Middle Persian literature.3 This episode constitutes the

1 The dialogic form of questions and answers between prophet and God is common in Zoroastrian literature, both in Avestan and Middle Persian texts. 2 On Zoroaster’s lineage in Pahlavi books, see Cereti, ‘On Zoroaster’s Genealogy’. For a bird’seye view of Zoroaster in the Pahlavi texts, see Williams, ‘Zoroaster iv’. 3 Remarkably, Ayādgār ī Zarērān preserves passages that witness an earlier Parthian (250 bce– 226 ce) version, especially in direct speech. Carlo G. Cereti  •  ([email protected]), Professor of Iranian Studies at Sapienza – University of Rome. The research leading to this paper was accomplished with the support of the PRIN research project 2017PR34CS. Narrating Power and Authority in Late Antique and Medieval Hagiography across East and West, ed. by Ghazzal Dabiri, FABULAE 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2021) pp. 85-102 © FHG10.1484/M.FABULAE-EB.5.122493


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backbone of Wištāsp’s cycle as transmitted in the tradition deriving from the Sasanian Xwadāy-nāmag (Book of Lords);4 it is attested in, among other texts, Firdawsi’s tenth-eleventh-century Shāhnāmah (Book of Kings) — enshrined in the section describing the deeds of Shāh Gushtāsp, which contain the verses traditionally assigned to Daqīqī (d. c. 976), the Samanid (819–1005) court poet.5 However, they are clearly different and largely independent of the legendary biography that is the focus of this paper. In a posthumous work edited by Jean-Pierre de Menasce, Marijan Molé collected the main Middle Persian passages dealing with Zoroaster’s life: Dēnkard book VII, Dēnkard book V,6 the Pahlavi Rivāyat (exposition),7 and the Wizīrgard ī Dēnīg (Religious Judgements), which is probably a late composition.8 Molé was not the first scholar to gather in a single book a number of Middle Persian texts dealing with Zoroaster’s legendary biography. In 1897, Edward W. West had already translated the pertinent parts of Dēnkard V and VII as well as relevant passages taken from the Selections of Zādspram.9 The scientific debate on Zoroaster’s legend is vast and cannot be summed up here since it intersects the debates on Zoroaster as an historical person, his time and homeland, the genesis of the Avesta, the Zoroastrian holy book, and the dawn of Zoroastrianism itself.10 However, even leaving aside the studies on Zoroaster’s existence and historical milieu that have both been hotly disputed by scholars, one cannot but mention at least two

4 Scholarly consensus traditionally assigns the composition of the Xwadāy-nāmag to the reign of Khosro I (r. 531–579), though some scholars have doubted this date or even the existence of a Sasanian Book of Lords, which is a chronicle of the history of Iranian kings. See, now, Hämeen-Anttila, Khwadāynāmag, who argues in favour of dating the Sasanian Xwadāynāmag, a chronicle of limited extent, to the reign of Khosro I or more probably to that of his grandson Khosro II (590–628). 5 Firdawsī, The Shāhnāmeh, ed. by Khaleghi-Motlagh, v, 75–268. 6 On which see now Le cinquième livre du Dēnkard, ed. by Amouzgar and Tafazzoli, pp. 24–33. 7 The Pahlavi Rivāyat, ed. by Williams, pp. 169–93. 8 See La légende de Zoroastre, ed. by Molé, 8*–9* where the author argues in favour of an eighteenth- or nineteenth-century date for this work, clearly influenced by legendary biographies of Sufi masters. 9 Pahlavi Texts Part V, ed. by West. On which see now Anthologie de Zadspram, ed. by Gignoux and Tafazzoli, pp. 61–87. Minor episodes of the prophet’s life are preserved in other Middle Persian books as well. These are all edited and translated, though some may need to be re-edited according to contemporary standards. The ‘Vie de Zoroastre’ compiled by Abraham Hyacinth Anquetil-Duperron and published in 1771 as a part of his monumental Zend-Avesta is also quite interesting because it preserves the memory of Parsi traditional lore before the modernizing impact of western scholarship. See Zend-Avesta, ed. by AnquetilDuperron, i, I i, 1–70. 10 For a bird’s-eye view, see Stausberg, ‘Zarathustra’, pp. 69–81. Kellens, La quatrième naissance de Zarathushtra, is an interesting and subjective presentation of the history of studies on Zoroaster. Daniel N. Sheffield, ‘In the Path of the Prophet’, convincingly traces the development of Zoroaster’s legend in Islamic Iran and Western India, showing how it intersects with major trends of contemporary intellectual life.

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fundamental scholarly works on Zoroaster’s life, standing one at the opposite end of the other.11 The earliest of the two is Abraham V. Williams Jackson’s late nineteenth-century Zoroaster: The Prophet of Ancient Iran. The author gathered all available sources in an attempt to reconstruct what he believed to be a veritable biography of this religious leader based on elements of truth, though set in a narrative framework. His painstakingly detailed presentation of Zoroaster’s life, albeit to some extent uncritical, is still the most comprehensive available.12 The author makes it clear from the very beginning that he considers Zoroaster to have been a historical religious teacher and prophet, whose life may be compared to that of other founders of religion, and repeatedly states that there may well be some reality in the various events reported in his biography.13 Moreover, he believed that the stories that concurred in building the prophet’s literary life did not occur in the Gāthās (the Old Avestan core of the Zoroastrian liturgy), a position later to be challenged by Molé, whose structuralist approach required continuity between the different stages of tradition.14 Completely different and methodologically more mature and complex is Molé’s epoch making Culte, mythe et cosmologie dans l’Iran ancien which, as just noted above, proposes a structuralist approach to Zoroaster’s legend that

11 For a first introduction to the debate on the historicity or lack of historicity of Zoroaster, one may refer to pertinent chapters in Stausberg, Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina, and Tessman, eds, The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism: Grenet, ‘Zarathustra’s Time and Homeland: Geographical Perspectives’; Hintze, ‘Zarathustra’s Time and Homeland: Linguistic Perspectives’; Humbach, ‘Interpretations of Zarathustra and the Gāthās: A.’; Kellens, ‘Interpretations of Zarathustra and the Gāthās: B.’; Schwartz, ‘Interpretations of Zarathustra and the Gāthās: C.’; and Skjærvø, ‘Interpretations of Zarathustra and the Gāthās: D.’) as well as to the entries in the Encyclopædia Iranica online edition 2009 such as Malandra, ‘Zoroaster ii’ and Hutter, ‘Zoroaster iii’, both of which fail to mention Gnoli, Zoroaster in History, a work strongly arguing in favour of Zoroaster’s historicity. Skjærvø’s contribution, focusing on Zoroaster’s character in the most ancient Avestan texts, builds on Molé’s ground-breaking book, Culte, Mythe et Cosmologie, which gathers a number of constituent elements of what he believes to be Zoroaster’s mythical biography, basically based on ritual aspects, as found already in the Gāthās. Interestingly, this narration shares only few elements with Zoroaster’s medieval legend. 12 Williams Jackson, Zoroaster. 13 Williams Jackson, Zoroaster, pp. 1–9. 14 For example when commenting on the conversion of Zoroaster’s patron, Williams Jackson, Zoroaster, pp. 67–68, concludes: ‘In reviewing the accounts of the conversion of Kavi Vishtāspa one can but feel convinced of the reality of the event. It is not easy, however, to decide how much is fiction in the stories that are told. Nor is it easy to determine of how early or how late origin some of these stories are. Several of them appear to be hinted at in the younger portions of the Avesta; they hardly would occur in the existing Gāthās, for the nature of those Psalms would rather preclude them. Some of them seem to be built on the basis of old allusions which have been interpreted to fit a situation. Several of them strike us to-day as silly, but a number of them as picturesque and as tinged with Oriental fancy. Nevertheless, amid all the dross, grains of gold are undoubtedly to be found; and beneath the blaze of tinsel and the glare of gaudy coloring, a sober shade of truth may be recognized’.



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was in line with the prevailing intellectual trends of the time. Molé considered Zoroaster’s biography as a symbolic representation of sacrifice and believed that its structure went back, at least in its innermost core, to the Gāthās themselves. This approach, according to which the debate about Zoroaster’s time and homeland was ultimately irrelevant to the interpretation of the texts themselves, opened the way for a new understanding of Zoroastrian tradition and eventually to the negation of the prophet’s existence itself, as proposed many years later by scholars such as Jean Kellens, Eric Pirart, and Prods Oktor Skjærvø, among others.15 Considering the complexity of the tradition and the limited space available, here I shall only present the two main surviving books narrating Zoroaster’s legendary life, the aforementioned Dēnkard book VII and Zarātushtnāmah. Henrik Samuel Nyberg, in a seldom quoted but seminal paper, dates the final redaction of Zoroaster’s legend as narrated in the seventh book of the Dēnkard to the reign of Shāpuhr II (r. 309–379). And he considered it to be based on more ancient materials.16 In the following pages we shall try to show that the full-blown version of the legend should be dated to a later period but that Nyberg was basically correct in believing that it essentially belongs to the Zoroastrian cultural milieu of Sasanian times and that the extant medieval version employs earlier material but framed within a new context. This is not to deny the existence of a legendary life of the prophet in antiquity or at least of traditions regarding some episodes of his life. In fact, episodes regarding Zoroaster were known to classical authors such as Pliny the Elder (23–79) who, in his Naturalis Historia, reported that Zoroaster laughed at birth, a tradition widely attested in a number of western and eastern works, including the scholiast to the platonic Alcibiades.17 Moreover, Zoroaster was

15 Molé’s view deeply influenced scholars such as Jean Kellens (La quatrième naissance de Zarathushtra, pp. 141–43 and ‘Interpretations of Zarathustra and the Gāthās: B.’, p. 48), who, however, criticizes it in many of its aspects, and Skjærvø (‘Interpretations of Zarathustra and the Gāthās: D.’, pp. 61–63), who more openly admits his debt. 16 In a presidential discourse read at the Nathan Söderblom Society in 1955 and later translated into French by J. Duchesne-Guillemin, Nyberg, ‘La biographie de Zarathuštra’, p. 517, states, ‘Et puisque dans la première partie de l’apocalypse, la série des grands personnages religieux va jusqu’à Āturpāt i Mānsraspandān, le grand-prêtre de Šāpūr II, il n’est trop hardi d’admettre que la biographie de Zarathuštra fut composées précisément sous Šāpūr II […] Une telle datation n’est pas contredite par le fait que l’apocalypse, dans sa dernière partie, va jusqu’à l’époque musulmane. Toutes les apocalypses zoroastriennes ont été plus ou moine remaniées et mises à jour après la catastrophe que fut pour le zoroastrisme la chute de l’Empire sassanide […] Cela ne dit rien, cependant, quant à l’âge des matériaux utilisés dans cette Vie de Zarathuštra. Il est clair qu’ils devaient être beaucoup plus anciens’. According to J. Josephson, ‘The “Sitz im Leben”’, pp. 210–12, Dēnkard book vii was composed in the eighth century to be performed orally for the Zoroastrian community in a time of growing distress, though the text includes earlier material. Stylistical differences show that it includes material from different epochs of Zoroastrian history. 17 Williams Jackson, Zoroaster, p. 27.

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known to classical authors as the author of a number of works.18 However, here we shall not focus on the antiquity of the legend but rather on its arrangement in the books transmitted by the Zoroastrian community; a structure that shows that it could not have been composed, in its present form, before late Sasanian times, namely, the sixth and seventh centuries. The Dēnkard, as noted above, is an early medieval composition and derives from the Sasanian Zand (commentary) to the Avesta. Originally consisting of nine books, only seven (III–IX) of which have come down to us, it was first redacted by Ādurfarrbay ī Farroxzādān, a Zoroastrian cleric who lived in the ninth century, and a second one at the hand of Ādurbād ī Ēmēdān, living in the tenth century. Assigning individual books to the pen of one or the other of the two authors is a difficult exercise, but as far as we can judge, book V schematically preserves the work of the earlier scholar, while book VII may well have been written by the later. Dēnkard VII is the first of the three books regarded to be exegetical, aiming at presenting the beliefs of the Zoroastrian community and the contents of the Sasanian Avesta. The very fact that the exegetical part of the Dēnkard begins with a life of Zoroaster reveals much about the epoch and the cultural milieu in which this summa of Zoroastrian thought was conceived. It suggests that, indeed, it may have been influenced by Christian models, though possibly not the very ones indicated by Nyberg,19 and perhaps even by Islamic ones, considering that Muḥammad’s biography was already being collected in the eighth century as demonstrated by Ibn Isḥāq’s Sīrat rasūl Allāh (Biography of the Prophet of God).20 In fact, the necessity to compose a legendary life of the founder of the religion probably arose from the need to defend the Good Religion from the polemical attacks of other, younger and more aggressive faiths. However, its account is basically based on traditional materials that have been rearranged into a continuous narration and a foreign model cannot be identified, at least not at this stage.21 The main source of Dēnkard VII is the Middle Persian Zand of the Spand nask (‘book’), though a number of chapters must derive from the Čihrdād nask which contains a continuous narration of the history of humanity. Many passages are introduced by a reference to the Avesta and, according to Molé, the language of these passages reveals that they were translated directly from the Avestan language, though one should add the caveat that this may not always be the case. In fact, Molé follows de Menasce in dating the last version of the seventh book of the Dēnkard to the tenth century22 and believes that 18 Stausberg, ‘Zarathustra’, pp. 71–73 with reference to Vasunia, Zarathustra. In general, on Zoroaster in the classical tradition, see Bidez and Cumont, Les Mages hellénisés and de Jong, Traditions of the Magi. 19 Nyberg, ‘La biographie de Zarathuštra’, p. 517. 20 On the tradition of the sīrah, see Guillaume, ‘Introduction’. 21 On shared literary themes in late antiquity, see i.e. Dabiri, ‘Visions of Heaven and Hell’. 22 Une encyclopédie mazdéenne, ed. by de Menasce, pp. 8–12.



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the greatest part of this text consists of quotes from the Middle Persian translation of the Zand and are introduced by formulae such as čiyōn dēn gōwēd (in the religion it is thus stated) or čiyōn az dēn paydāg (thus is it revealed in the religion).23 However, de Menasce believes Dēnkard VII to be an original composition in Middle Persian, though laden with Avestan quotations taken from the Middle Persian Zand.24 Generally, in the Middle Persian tradition, it is important to note here, Zoroaster’s life is set against the background of universal history: the prophet receives the revelation at the beginning of the ninth millennium of the 12,000 years cycle— that is, exactly midway between Gayōmart and Sōšāns.25 Dēnkard VII opens with a paragraph which clearly states its scope: 1) šnāyišn dādār ohrmazd pad-iz *spurr-abarīgān *ī wispāgāhīh pēsīd dēn mazdēsn andar gēhān. 2) haftom. abar abdīh ī dēn mazdēsn mahišt aštag spitāmān zarduxšt ud ān čē ōy warzawand pad ohrmazd aštagīh u-š dēn pad gōwišn ī ohrmazd būd andar wištāsp-šah kišwarīgān wābarīgānīhist, az nigēz ī weh-dēn. 3) bē pēš az ān čē weh-dēn čihr ud dahišn ud rawāgīh u-š padīriftār ī fradom pad mēnōg ud gētīg ud az ān pas waxšwarān ud frēstagān ud āwurdārān ī andar zamānag tā yašt-frawahr zarduxšt u-šān nihang-ē az gōwišn ud warz kē padiš andar mardom pad waxšwarīh wawarīhist hēnd nibišt čimīg. 1) In the world praise of the Creator Ohrmazd and to the complete superiority of the Mazdean religion adorned with omniscience. 2) Seventh, about the miracles of the greatest apostle of the Mazdean religion, Zarduxšt of the Spitāma. How that mighty one, sent by Ohrmazd, was able to prove to Wištāsp’s countrymen the truth of the religion, which came from the words of Ohrmazd. From the teachings of the Good Religion. 3) Before this, we shall purposefully write about the nature and creation and diffusion of the Good Religion, the first beings who accepted it in the spiritual and material worlds, and we shall write about the prophets, apostles, and messengers who followed in the time until Zarduxšt, whose frawahr (glory) is venerable, a choice (nihang) of the words and miracles that proved them true prophets among men.26 Looking at the seventh book of the Dēnkard in its entirety, one may easily see that, in this work, Zoroaster’s life is part of the eschatological history of

23 24 25 26

La légende de Zoroastre, ed. by Molé, 2*-4*; Molé, Culte, Mythe et Cosmologie, p. 276. Une encyclopédie mazdéenne, ed. by de Menasce, pp. 63–66. See Cereti, ‘Myths, Legends, Eschatologies’, pp. 264–69. Dk vii. I. 1–3; B [469].13-[470].2. La légende de Zoroastre, ed. by Molé, pp. 2–13; Dīnkard-i haftum, ed. by Rāshid Muḥaṣṣil, pp. 9–22. Pages from La légende de Zoroastre refer to transcription and translation by Molé, pages given for Dīnkard-i haftum refer to transcription by Rāshid Muḥaṣṣil.

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mankind.27 The first chapter of the book is dedicated to the prophets that came before Zoroaster,28 and it is followed by chapters on the miracles revealed before the most fortunate of beings was born to his mother;29 on the miracles that took place between his birth and his first encounter with Ohrmazd;30 on the miracles revealed between the first and the seventh encounter with Ohrmazd in a period of ten years, his conversion of Wištāsp;31 on the miracles revealed from the moment Wištāsp accepted the Religion to the death of Zoroaster, which took place seventy-seven years after his birth, forty-seven years after his encounters, and thirty-five years after Wištāsp’s conversion;32 and on the miracles that took place between the death of Zoroaster and that of Wištāsp.33 Then, a few chapters follow that belong to the eschatological genre and more specifically: on the miracles revealed to have taken place from Wištāsp’s death to the end of the Iranian Empire;34 on the miracles that took place between the fall of the Iranian Empire35 and the close of Zoroaster’s millennium when, thirty years before the end of the millennium, Ušēdar was born of a virgin who became pregnant while bathing in a lake where Zoroaster’s seed was kept;36 on the miracles that took place between the end of Zoroaster’s millennium and the end of Ušēdar’s and the coming of Ušēdarmāh;37 on the miracles that took place between the end of Ušēdar’s millennium and the end of Ušēdarmāh’s time and the coming of Sōšāns;38 on the miracles that took place from the end of Ušēdarmāh’s millennium, the coming of the Victorious Saviour (Sūdōmand Pērōzgar), and during the 27 Cereti, ‘Myths, Legends, Eschatologies’. 28 B [476]. 12-[477].5 shortly summarizes the contents of the chapters that follow; it is numbered differently by Molé (vii. i. 44–54) and Rāshid Muḥaṣṣil (vii. i. 0–10), who assigns the entire narration about earlier prophets to chapter zero. 29 Ch. II: La légende de Zoroastre, ed. by Molé, pp. 14–27; Dīnkard-i haftum, ed. by Rāshid Muḥaṣṣil, pp. 23–38. 30 Ch. III: La légende de Zoroastre, ed. by Molé, pp. 28–41; Dīnkard-i haftum, ed. by Rāshid Muḥaṣṣil, pp. 39–52. 31 Ch. IV: La légende de Zoroastre, ed. by Molé, pp. 42–61; Dīnkard-i haftum, ed. by Rāshid Muḥaṣṣil, pp. 53–74. On Zoroaster’s meeting with Wištāsp as a possible model for other similar meetings between religious leaders and sovereigns, see de Jong, ‘The Cologne Mani Codex’. 32 Ch. V: La légende de Zoroastre, ed. by Molé, pp. 62–65; Dīnkard-i haftum, ed. by Rāshid Muḥaṣṣil, pp. 75–78. 33 Ch. VI: La légende de Zoroastre, ed. by Molé, pp. 66–69; Dīnkard-i haftum, ed. by Rāshid Muḥaṣṣil, pp. 79–82. 34 Ērān-xwadāyīh; Ch. VII, La légende de Zoroastre, ed. by Molé, pp. 70–79; Dīnkard-i haftum, ed. by Rāshid Muḥaṣṣil, pp. 83–93. 35 Clearly to be identified with the Sasanian Ērānšahr. On which, see Gnoli, The Idea of Iran. 36 Ch. VIII: La légende de Zoroastre, ed. by Molé, pp. 80–91; Dīnkard-i haftum, ed. by Rāshid Muḥaṣṣil, pp. 95–107. 37 Ch. IX: La légende de Zoroastre, ed. by Molé, pp. 92–97; Dīnkard-i haftum, ed. by Rāshid Muḥaṣṣil, pp. 109–14. 38 Ch. X: La légende de Zoroastre, ed. by Molé, pp. 98–101; Dīnkard-i haftum, ed. by Rāshid Muḥaṣṣil, pp. 115–18.



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fifty-seven years of the Sōšāns until the final Renovation.39 Remarkably, the events of the eleventh and twelfth millennia follow the pattern of those which took place in the tenth millennium. Summing up, Book VII has one chapter on the three thousand years before Zoroaster’s birth, four chapters (II–V) on the prophet’s life itself, one chapter (VI) on the events that took place after Zoroaster’s death but still during Wištāsp’s lifetime, one other chapter on the historical events up to the end of the Sasanian Empire (VII), four eschatological chapters (VIII–XI) on the remaining years of the prophet’s millennium, and on the three millennia assigned to his future sons, the last one counting fifty-seven years. As we shall see, chapters VII and VIII reveal much about the period in which Zoroaster’s legend was written down in its present form.40 The Zarātushtnāmah,41 meanwhile, was written in Ray (a city in north-western Iran) by Kaykāʾūs ibn Kaykhusraw ibn Dārā in the late twelfth or early thirteenth century. Later, in 647 AY,42 corresponding to 1278 ce, it was copied by Zartusht ibn Bahrām ibn Pazhdū43 who is traditionally considered to be the author of the text.44 Its narrative is possibly based on an earlier Middle Persian work45 but finds no precise correspondence in existing Middle Persian literature. Be that as it may, it certainly preserves ancient lore, though, as we will see momentarily, it is in many respects different from the seventh book of the Dēnkard. After a short introduction (1–3), the poet jumps immediately to describing events preceding Zoroaster’s birth (4–5), without noting anything regarding his predecessors. Next, he discusses his birth and the miracles and events that took place in his youth (6–15), his travelling to Iran and reaching the river Dāitī (16–21), and meeting Ohrmazd and the six Amahraspand (‘divine entities’) in six successive meetings (22–34). He then goes on to discuss Zoroaster’s return to this world, his conversion of Wištāsp\Gushtāsp, and the events that follow (35–56). He then concludes with a narration of eschatological events regarding the end of Zoroaster’s millennium and the millennia of his three future sons (57–61), which is a revised Persian version of the Middle Persian Zand ī Wahman Yasn, a Middle Persian apocalyptic work that was written, in its present form, in early Islamic times.46 Interestingly, in his description 39 Ch. XI: La légende de Zoroastre, ed. by Molé, pp. 102–05; Dīnkard-i haftum, ed. by Rāshid Muḥaṣṣil, pp. 119–21. Sūdōmand pērōzgar literally means the ‘useful and victorious one’. 40 On Zoroastrian eschatological tradition, see Cereti, ‘La figura del redentore futuro’. See also Josephson, ‘The “Sitz im Leben”’. 41 For text and translation see Le livre de Zoroastre, ed. by Rosenberg and, now, Sheffield, ‘In the Path of the Prophet’, pp. 249–508. 42 AY, which stands for ‘After Yazdegerd’, is the calendrical system in use by Zoroastrians which begins with the death of Yazdegerd III (r. 632–651), the last ruling Sasanian monarch. 43 Sheffield, ‘In the Path of the Prophet’, p. 249. 44 See i.e. Le livre de Zoroastre, ed. by Rosenberg, p. xxxiv. 45 Rose, ‘Zoroaster vii’ and de Blois, Persian Literature, p. 174. 46 For an edition of the Zand ī Wahman Yasn, see The Zand ī Wahman Yasn, ed. by Cereti.

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of the seven eras of the world, the author assigns the sixth era, the one made of steel, to the reign of Khosro I, stating that the heretic Mazdak (fl. fifth c.) appeared in this age, without providing the details found in Dēnkard VII (on which see below).47 He then goes on to discuss the era of mixed iron, clearly identified with the onslaught of Islam. The tripartition of the narration about Zoroaster’s life corresponds to the ancient Zoroastrian concept of time, where the prophet is born at the end of the third millennium of human history, half way between the First Man, Gayōmart, who eventually died because of Ahriman’s attack, and the future saviour, Sōšāns, who will finally reconduct the world to its pristine purity. The Dēnkard preserves a clear memory of Zoroaster’s centrality in human history, narrating his life as an eschatological present, preceded by three millennia of human history and followed by the three millennia characterized by the advent of his posthumous children, though already showing less attention to the events that took place before Zoroaster’s time. On the contrary, the Zarātushtnāmah has already lost memory of what took place before the prophet’s birth and is on its way to separating future events from Zoroaster’s legend. Hence, we may readily observe that Zoroaster’s centrality in the eschatological history of mankind, so important for structuralist interpretations of the legend, such as the one put forth by Molé, was still preserved in the seventh book of the Dēnkard but was entirely lost in the Zarātushtnāmah. Thus, the Dēnkard responded to the challenge posed by the growing diffusion of Christian saints’ lives and possibly even to the spread of early Islamic biographies of Muḥammad, maintaining, however, a substantial coherence with ancient Zoroastrian doctrine about time. In the Zarātushtnāmah, however, the prophet’s legend already had lost its original arrangement and had taken up a narrative form more similar to that of the later lives of medieval Muslim holy men. Therefore, we can assume that in the years spanning the tenth to the thirteenth century, Zoroastrians had lost the capacity to understand the deeper significance of the traditional narration about the life of their prophet, framing his legend in a structure that revealed the degree of influence that Islamic culture had on the Zoroastrian community. Yet the structure of the Zarātushtnāmah, which also includes chapters presenting the future history of mankind, attests to the fact that a narration about future events was felt to be an essential part of Zoroaster’s legend, showing, among other aspects, the importance of eschatological speculation for the community increasingly suffering under the yoke of Islam. Indeed, while in Dēnkard VII the narration runs smoothly and without evident discontinuities in the flow of the story, in the Zarātushtnāmah, the two parts — the life of Zoroaster and those of his yet unborn sons in a future millennium — are clearly separated. However, notwithstanding the presence of a break in narration, ZN 60. 92 clearly shows that the Mawlūd-i 47 ZN 57. 63–65.



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Zarātusht (Birth of Zoroaster, an alternative name for the Zarātushtnāmah) was considered to be a unitary work by its author.48 Remarkably, a similar narrative break, marking as if it were a new start, can be detected at the end of chapter i in Dēnkard VII, where it separates the narrations about earlier religious characters from the story of Zoroaster’s life.49 Zarātushtnāmah, ZN 55. 64, reads: yik faṣlī gūyam digar gūsh dār – nigar tā chih gūyad nikū hūsh dār (listen, I shall tell another chapter, be careful so that you may understand well what it says).50 These words are followed by a eulogy, and then the narration starts anew in ZN 57. 1–3: Nikū bišinaw īn qiṣṣah-yi arjumand — zih-guftār-i ān mawbid hūshmand Bīyāvardah az zand-o-vastā bidar — zih-guftār-i dādār pīrūzgar Nibishtam man īn rā bih-lafẓ-i darī — kih tā bāshad āsān ču tu binigarī Listen well to this valuable story from the words of that wise Mobad It was taken from the Zand-Avesta, from the words of the victorious Creator I wrote it in Persian words so that it may be easy for you when you read it.51 Then follows the long narration about future events, being essentially a New Persian paraphrase of the Zand ī Wahman Yasn. Incidentally, the fifth book of the Dēnkard, preserving an older layer of tradition, summarizes the original Zand narration in only a few pages. Out of these few pages only two paragraphs speak about future times: 13) abdom az dēwān hāzišn ud +sārēnišn be dīd widard-az-ōšmār +dēwyasn hambadīg-kōšišnīhā padīrag ēstād hēnd ud was ardīg ud ōzanišn būd ī abēzagīhā būd kū gumēzagīhā dēn andar gēhān be raft 14) u-š hēnd im dēn abēzag nōg āwurdārān spurr rāyēnīdārān ušēdar ušēdarmāh sōšāns pad bowandag rawāgīh ī ēn Ohrmazd dēn bawēd harwisp weh dām a-petyāragīh ud hamāg-xwārīh.52 13) At last he (Zoroaster) saw that because of the persuasion and provocation of the dēw [‘demon’] innumerable dēw-worshippers stood in violent opposition against him, and there was much fighting and killing. The religion spread into the world, be it in purity, be it in admixture. 14) Ušēdar, Ušēdarmāh, and Sōšāns will be those who bring

48 ZN 60. 92, cf. Sheffield, ‘In the Path of the Prophet’, pp. 433 and 505: chaw mawlūd-i zartusht khānī tamām – bih dil khān bar ū āfrīnī tamām ‘Once you have read the entire Mawlūd-i Zartusht, praise him deeply in your heart’. See further n. 25. 49 Dk vii. 1. 44–54, see La légende de Zoroastre, ed. by Molé, pp. 12–13 and Dīnkard-i haftum, ed. by Rāshid Muḥaṣṣil, pp. 21–22. 50 Cf. Sheffield, ‘In the Path of the Prophet’, pp. 402 and 493. 51 Sheffield, ‘In the Path of the Prophet’, pp. 404–05 and 494. 52 Dk v. ii. 13–14; B [341]. 1–7.

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this religion anew and fully organize it; with the complete diffusion of the religion of Ohrmazd all good creatures will be free of opponents and completely happy.53 The names of the future saviours are known already in the Young Avesta (e.g. Yt. 13. 128–29), and the evidence in Dēnkard V suggests that the Sasanian Zand already treated their myth as an extension of Zoroaster’s imaginary biography, though flesh was added to the skeletal outlines at a relatively late period. Can we say something more about the date in which the narration transmitted by Dēnkārd VII took its actual form? In my opinion, a number of clues found in the seventh book of the Dēnkard point towards a late Sasanian date. One is the use of the title rāmšāh (a compound joining rām ‘peace’ and šāh ‘king’)54 for Kay Wištāsp that closely recalls the honorific title rāmšahr (also a compound joining rām and šahr ‘country’), carried by the same Kay Wištāsp in the Ayādgār ī Zarērān55 and which is also attested on the coinage of Sasanian kings from Yazdegard I (r. 399–420) to Yazdegard II (r. 439–457), roughly in the first half of the fifth century, thus setting a post quem date.56 The other evidence may be deduced from chapters vii and viii of book vii of the Dēnkard that seem to describe events that took place in late Sasanian times (sixth and seventh century) or in the early Islamic period. For instance, Dk vii. vii lists the miracles that took place between Wištāsp and the fall of Iranian kingship. A number of kings are mentioned by name, together with the main religious authorities (dastwar) and heretics (ahlomōγ)57 of the late Sasanian period, such as § 5 Wahman ī Spandyādān, § 7 Aleksandar (Alexander the Great), § 12 Ardaxšīr ī Pābagān (r. 224–242), § 22 the Mazdakites, and § 26 Husraw ī Kawādān, among others. Of significance are the paragraphs describing the Mazdakite rebellion, briefly mentioned also in the Zarātushtnāmah 57. 63–65. These are quite realistic and may well derive from some historic chronicle narrating the events up to the early stages of Khosro I’s reign: 22) ud *ēd ī az dēn pētyāragān ahlōmōgān ahlōmōg ī-šān mazdagīg-iz xwānd hēnd čiyōn-išān ēn-iz abar gōwēd kū: ēn ī man dēn pad axw-mēnišnīh nigerē, was be nigerē Zarduxšt ka was ahlomōg āgāh ahlāyīh-kardārīh ud asrōnīh-iz gōwēnd awināhīh [ud] kam āškār warzīdār hēnd.

53 The transcription follows Le cinquième livre du Dēnkard, ed. by Amouzgar and Tafazzoli, pp. 30–31; see also Dk v.iii. 3, where the future saviours are once more mentioned. 54 Dk vii. 1. 49 (B [476]. 21) lʾmšh; Dk v. 2. 8 (B [340]. 4) lʾmšh; Dk v. 2. 11 (B [340]. 19) lʾmšh. 55 AZ 63, lʾmštr’, see The Pahlavi Texts, ed. by Jāmāsp-Āsānā, p. 8. 56 Cf. Le cinquième livre du Dēnkard, ed. by Amouzgar and Tafazzoli, p. 112. On the numismatic evidence, see, further, Huyse, ‘Die sasanidische Köningstitutlar’, pp. 183–85 and Schindel, Sylloge Nummorum Sasanidarum, pp. 183–85, 222, and 255. 57 On the use of ahlomōγ in Dēnkard vii and on the possibility that it may mostly be used for Mazdakites, see now Timuş, ‘Breaking the Rules’, pp. 271–94.



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23) pad dēn ī mazdēsnān ēd kū: pad dēn bē niger u-šān cārag xwād ud kē awēšān čegām-iz-ē pētyārtar būd ēstēnd andar axw ī astōmand ud agriftār ēg hēnd ahlāyīh kē az hastān pahlom. ud ēdōn dēn ī mazdēsnān: pad tōxmag-*bazišnīh baxšēnd, kardārīh xwēšān rāy gōwēnd ud bahr ō xwēšān dahēnd 24) xwarišn fšōnēnēnd58 (kū xwarišn suy paymān gōwēnd) ud zahagīh gōwēnd [gōwēnd] (kū paywand pad mādarān gōwēnd) ud gurgīh hunēnd59 (kū tis gurgīhā kunēnd) awēšān sāxtan ī pad kāmag-rawišnīh čiyōn ān ī gurg zahag pas mādar 25) awēšān-iz paywand pad mādarān kunēnd; awēšān narīg ī gōspand xrīnēnd, ān-iz ī zahag (pus) brād be barēnd ō bār. kū-šān: ašmāh ō hamīh dād hēm nē pādixšāy hēd bē pad hamīh ēstād. awēšān nē-z *wurrōyēnd war nē ka āškārag abar dahēd (kū be bōxtēd). awēšān pad-iz frazandān druzēnd kū-šān mihrōdruz abar rasišn ud pad-iz ān ī xwēš tan. 26) ēdār abar dēn ārāstārīh ī anōšag-ruwān husraw ī kawādān gōwēd kū: pad ān ī awēšān abāz-astišnīh mard-ē dād ī ahlaw, anōšag-ruwān, uzwān-a-jōydār ī dānāg [ī] kē-šān hanjaman az niyōšišn saxwan (kū ān ī gōwēd pad dastwar gōwēd) ān ka srōšīgīh frāz dahēd (kū wināhgarān pādifrāh kunēd). 27) bāstān pafšārēd kastārān ōy wīr bīm az ān hanjaman ka az nazdīg pad abganišn abganēd (ku zūd zūd nišast kunēd) az ōy sišd bawēnd dādār, ān-iz ī ahlaw [nūn] mardom čiyōn nūn ka ān ī sišd ī xrad wistard āz ašmāh sišd, spitāmān. 28) anōšag-ruwān rāy pad wānīdan ī axw ī ahlamōgīh ēn-iz gōwēd kū: harwispīn rāy ō tō gōwom, spitāmān zarduxšt, kū-šān hangām pad ōy kē āškārag mihr-xwābar (ud) druxtārtom, druwandān-iz ahlawān-iz anōšagruwān āyōxtār dāmān nāf nāf, kē dāmān hēnd ī ahlawān (kū abāz ō kār ēstēd pad kardan ī anōšagruwān. kē paywastār-kārān rāst passaxwguftār ān anōšagruwān).60 22) And this (also), among the enemies of the Religion the heretics of the heretics are called Mazdakite, about them it is said: ‘Observe my religion mindfully and look after it well, Zarduxšt, when there will be many heretics who will knowingly speak about righteousness and

58 See Macuch, ‘Legal Implications’, pp. 160–61. 59 See Macuch, ‘Legal Implications’, pp. 164–65. 60 Dk vii. vii. 21–28 B [505].11-[506]. On § 22–25, see Macuch, ‘Legal Implications’. See also La légende de Zoroastre, ed. by Molé, pp. 74–75; Shaki, ‘The Social Doctrine of Mazdak’, p. 290 and Dīnkard-i haftum, ed. by Rāshid Muḥaṣṣil, pp. 88–89; cf. also Timuş, ‘Breaking the Rules’, pp. 280–86. On Khosro I and Mazdak in Pahlavi books, see Azarnouche, ‘La geste zoroastrienne de Husraw’, pp. 240–42.

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even about the priestly office, they will practice innocence little and it will be hardly obvious (for them)’. 23) In the Mazdean religion (it is said) that to observe the religion is itself a mean against them, who are the evilest in the tangible and intangible existence. Righteousness is the best of beings. So (says) the Mazdean religion: Within the stock they apportion shares, they say action belongs to their own (followers), and they give portions to their own (followers). 24) Food they fatten (they say that the measure of eating is hunger)61 descendance62 they say (i.e. they say lineage is through the mother) they procreate like wolves (i.e. they do things like a wolf). Their doing is according to desire, so as wolves are afterwards children of (their) mother, they calculate their lineage through the mothers. They buy females (as if) sheep, they take the profit of child (son) and brother as well, since (they say), ‘We have given it to you jointly, you are only authorized to keep them jointly’. They do not believe in the oath (war), not even when it reveals the obvious (i.e. when it saves). They lie even about children: the sin of breaching the treaty (mihrōdruǰ) will fall upon (abar rasišn) them, and (upon) their kindred. 26) About the renovation of Religion (brought about by) Husraw of Immortal Soul, son of Kawād, here it says that to send them away He created a righteous man, of immortal soul, with a holy tongue, wise, around whom (people) gathered to listen to his speeches (i.e. what he said he said with authority) when he administered justice (srōšīgīh) (i.e. when he punished sinners) 27) He always shamed wrongdoers, the man is afraid of that assembly. When he throws down from near (when he quickly associates). They are *far from him, Creator, even the righteous ones, just as now those *far (away ones) who spread wisdom are far from you, Spitāmā. 28) About Anōšagruwān’s defeating the lord of heresy this also is said: ‘About them all I tell you, Spitāmā Zarduxšt, that in their time Anōšagruwān will bring together those who are evidently respecting the contract (mihr-xwābar) and the worse liars, the evil ones and the righteous ones, (he gave) each to their own family, the creatures that are good creatures (who were back at work thanks to the doings of Anōšagruwān. Anōšagruwān is responsible for the re-establishment of the correct lineages)’.

61 See also de Blois, ‘Mazdak the Ancient’, p. 149, who considers Dk. vii. 7. 23 to be a gloss of Vendīdād. 4.49. 62 Zahagīh translates to ‘matrilineal descent’ according to Macuch, ‘Legal Implications’, p. 158.



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Though further work is needed to understand all the nuances in this passage, it is clear that it argues against communality of property and women and criticizes the Mazdakite movement much along the same lines as later Islamic polemists do. In fact, it may point to the existence of a Sasanian ‘official’ chronicle, or maybe a ‘religious’ chronicle distinct and separate from the royal one that somehow may even have been part of the Avestan Zand and which may be the ultimate source utilized by Ādurbād ī Ēmēdān. The eighth chapter of Dēnkard VII describes the events that took place after the fall of Iranian royalty (ērān-xwadāyīh) in the Iranian Empire (ērānšahr), but it is very different in style from the passages above. The narration does not derive from an official chronicle, rather, it speaks of a world in progressive decay, where traditional values are abandoned, and ominous events take place. It tells the story of the fall of the Sasanian Empire and of the rise of Islam from the point of view of a Zoroastrian believer who witnesses his world falling apart. In § 4–5, the author describes the decrease of wisdom, the increase of heresy, and the worship of the sacred fire being abandoned; in § 6–8, he laments the increase in the power of the evil religion (ag-dēnīh), war, and the annihilation of royalty by men set one against the other; in § 13, he speaks about the abuse of the positions of axw (lord) and rat (spiritual chief) and the unification of kingship and priesthood against the law. In the ninth and tenth century of the millennium, it is noted further, men such as (in § 42) the Kaisar and the *Khaqan will mix with the good ones (wehān) and (in § 45–50) the hero, Čihrōmehān, will challenge the three groups (azg) who worship Lie, namely, the Turks, the demons with dishevelled hairs, here identified with the Arabs (Tazīg), and the Byzantine (Hrōmīg), Šēdāsp ī Kilisāyīg.

Conclusions Summing up the evidence discussed in this paper, we may first of all affirm that the division of human history in two great periods, the 3000 years from Gayōmart to Zoroaster’s conversation with Ohrmazd and the 3000 years that divide Zoroaster from the final apocatastasis operated by the future Sōšyāns are essential to the narration of Dēnkard VII, which divides Zoroaster’s legend in three great periods: before Zoroaster, his life, and events that will take place after the prophet’s death. Zoroaster’s centrality in human history is lost already by the thirteenth century, as witnessed by the narration of the Zarātushtnāmah. Moreover, evidence points towards a relative late date for the creation of Zoroaster’s legend in the form attested in its fullest form in Dēnkard VII. The title borne by Zoroaster’s royal mentor (rāmšāh) is similar to one of the official titles used by Sasanian kings of the fifth century (rāmšahr). Furthermore, Dēnkard VII.vii preserves the memory of two great Sasanian kings, the founder of the dynasty, Ardašīr, and Khosro I, son of Kawād (488–531), perhaps the

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greatest monarch of the late Sasanian period. As noted above, the passage on the Mazdakite movement is quite realistic and may well derive from an ‘official’ chronicle while the episodes told in Dēnkard VII.viii may well refer to events belonging to the years of the decline and fall of the empire or to the early Islamic period but are narrated in a very different style. Therefore, one may hypothetically date the primary arrangement of Zoroaster’s legendary life as found in the seventh book of the Dēnkard to the late Sasanian period, surely after Yazdegerd I and probably under Khosro I or soon after. The part dealing with the future trials undergone by the followers of the Good Religion (wehdēn) at the end of Zoroaster’s millennium was then to be revised, adding the events that followed upon the fall of the Sasanian Empire and the rise of a new religion, Islam.

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Hämeen-Anttila, Jaakko, Khwadāynāmag: The Middle Persian Book of Kings, Studies in Persian Cultural History, 14 (Leiden: Brill, 2018) Hintze, Almut, ‘Zarathustra’s Time and Homeland: Linguistic Perspectives’, in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism, ed. by Michael Stausberg, Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina, and Anna Tessman (Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2015), pp. 31–38 Humbach, Helmut, ‘Interpretations of Zarathustra and the Gāthās: A. The Gāthās’, in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism, ed. by Michael Stausberg, Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina, and Anna Tessman (Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2015), pp. 39–43 Hutter, Manfred, ‘Zoroaster iii: In the Avesta’, in Encyclopaedia Iranica, online edition, 2009 [accessed 01/05/2019] Huyse, Philip, ‘Die sasanidische Köningstitutlar: Eine Gegenüberstellung der Quellen’, in Ērān ud Anērān. Studien zu den Beziehungen zwischen dem Sasanidenreich und der Mittelmeerwelt: Beiträge des Internationalen Colloquiums in Eutin, 8.-9. Juni 2000, ed. by Philip Huyse, Joseph Wiesehöfer, and Carsten Binder, Oriens und Occidens, 13 (Stuttgart: Fr. Steiner, 2006), 181–201 de Jong, Albert, Traditions of the Magi: Zoroastrianism in Greek and Latin Literature, Religions in the Graeco-Roman World, 133 (Leiden: Brill, 1997) ———, ‘The Cologne Mani Codex and the Life of Zarathushtra’, in Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians: Religious Dynamics in a Sasanian Context, ed. by Geoffrey Herman (Piscataway: Gorgias Press, 2015), pp. 129–47 Josephson, Judith, ‘The “Sitz im Leben”’ of the Seventh Book of the Dēnkard’, in Religious Themes and Texts in pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia: Studies in Honour of Professor Gherardo Gnoli on the Occasion of his 65th Birthday on 6th December 2002, ed. by Carlo G. Cereti, Mauro Maggi, and Elio Provasi, Beiträge zur Iranistik, 24 (Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert, 2003), pp. 203–12 Kellens, Jean, La quatrième naissance de Zarathushtra (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2006) ———, ‘Interpretations of Zarathustra and the Gāthās: B. The Gāthās, Said to be of Zaratustra’, in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism, ed. by Michael Stausberg, Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina, and Anna Tessman (Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2015), pp. 44–50 Macuch, Maria, ‘Legal Implications of Mazdakite Learning According to the Dēnkard’, in Husraw Ier, reconstructions d’un règne, ed. by Christelle Jullien, Cahiers de Studia Iranica, 53 (Paris: Association pour l’avancement des études iraniennes, 2015), pp. 155–74 Malandra, William W., ‘Zoroaster ii. General Survey’, in Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2009 [accessed 01/05/2019] Molé, Marijan, Culte, Mythe et Cosmologie dans l’Iran ancien. Le problème zoroastrien et la tradition mazdéenne (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1963) ———, La légende de Zoroastre selon les textes pehlevis (Paris: Travaux de l’Institute d’études iraniennes de l’Université de Paris, 1967)



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Nyberg, Henrik Samuel, ‘La biographie de Zarathuštra dans le Dēnkart. Discours présidentiel prononcé à la Société Nathan Söderblom en la séance anniversaire du 15 janvier 1955’, in Monumentum H.S. Nyberg IV, Acta Iranica 7 (Tehran: Peeters, 1975), pp. 503–19 Rose, Jennifer, ‘Zoroaster vii. As Perceived by Later Zoroastrians’, in Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2009 [accessed 01/05/2019] Schindel, Nikolaus, Sylloge Nummorum Sasanidarum Paris – Berlin – Wien, 6 vols (Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2004), vol. 3: Shapur II. – Kawad I. / 2. Regierung Schwartz, Martin, ‘Interpretations of Zarathustra and the Gāthās: C. Dimensions of the Gāthās as Poetry’, in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism, ed. by Michael Stausberg, Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina, and Anna Tessman (Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2015), pp. 51–58 Shaki, Mansour, ‘The Social Doctrine of Mazdak in the Light of the Middle Persian Evidence’, Archiv Orientální, 46 (1978), 289–306 Sheffield, Daniel N., ‘In the Path of the Prophet, Medieval and Early Modern Narratives of the Life of Zarathustra in Islamic Iran and Western India’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, Harvard University, 2012) Skjærvø, Prods Oktor, ‘Interpretations of Zarathustra and the Gāthās: D. The Gāthās as Myth and Ritual’, in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism, ed. by Michael Stausberg, Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina, and Anna Tessman (Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2015), pp. 59–67 Stausberg, Michael, ‘Zarathustra: Post Gathic Trajectories’, in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism, ed. by Michael Stausberg, Yuhan SohrabDinshaw Vevaina, and Anna Tessman (Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2015), pp. 69–81 ———, Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina, and Anna Tessman, eds, The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism (Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2015) Timuş, Michaela, ‘Breaking the Rules: Considerations on Zoroastrian Terminology Related to the Idea of Heresy’, Numen, 66 (2019), 271–94 Vasunia, Phiroze, Zarathustra and the Religion of Ancient Iran: The Greek and Latin Sources in Translation (Mumbai: The K. R. Cama Oriental Institute, 2007) Williams, Allan V., ‘Zoroaster iv. In the Pahlavi Books’, in Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2013 [accessed 01/05/2019] Williams Jackson, Abraham V., Zoroaster: The Prophet of Ancient Iran (New York: Macmillan, 1899)

Ghazzal Dabiri

Who’s the Authority Around Here? Zoroastrians as Sites of Negotiation in ʿAṭṭār’s Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ and Ilāhīnāmah

Among the most impenetrable questions regarding medieval Iranian history surround the life and circumstances of Zoroastrians. Whether from within or without the community, we have very little detailed information on what daily life was like on the ground. We do know that, at different points in time (varying across locations), the community faced external pressures as the Muslims expanded their reach in three overlapping waves — the initial conquests, subsequent migrations, and intermarriages and conversions of Zoroastrians to Islam.2 Looking at the questions from within the community, the eighth and ninth centuries saw the preservation of sacred texts and a flurry of writerly activities centring on matters of law, dogma, and rituals. While these texts point to specific anxieties regarding the state of the religion, the daily experiences undergirding them are little mentioned.3 From without, Zoroastrians primarily feature in three types of texts; the first are the local histories, such as the Tārīkh-i Bukhārā (History of Bukhara) by Narshakhī (899–959), which (often sparsely) note that Zoroastrians mainly made their living as merchants.4 Zoroastrians also captured the medieval

1 I would like to acknowledge and thank the European Research Council (Starting Grant n° 337344) and Ghent University for the time and space afforded to me to write an early draft of this chapter, which was presented at the conference that forms the basis for this volume. 2 For more information on this, see Choksy, Conflict and Cooperation. 3 The exception is the bitterness with which these authors speak about the conquests and Muslim rule. On this, see Carlo G. Cereti’s contribution in this volume. For the development of various laws and practices in response to/as a consequence of the Islamic conquest and conversions of Zoroastrians to Islam and general interactions, see Choksy, ‘Zoroastrians in Muslim Iran’; Kiel and Skjærvø, ‘Apostasy and Repentance’; Macuch, ‘Descent and Inheritance’; and Green, ‘The Survival of Zoroastrianism’. For the declining state of firetemples, see also the latter and Choksy, ‘Altars, Precincts, and Temples’. 4 For instance, the Tārīkh-i Bukhārā makes brief references to the local inhabitants of a town in the region making their living as merchants before and after the conquest. See The History of Bukhara, trans. by Frye, pp. 13–16 and 60. Ghazzal Dabiri  •  is an Iranist whose research focuses on late antique and medieval narratives of kingship, kinship, and sainthood.1 Narrating Power and Authority in Late Antique and Medieval Hagiography across East and West, ed. by Ghazzal Dabiri, FABULAE 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2021) pp. 103-118 © FHG10.1484/M.FABULAE-EB.5.122494


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Muslim imagination. Thus, the second type of texts are largely heresiographical in nature and, therefore, offer a window onto medieval Muslim normative sensibilities, expectations, and prejudices.5 Ripe with stereotypes, some wilder than others, scholars have had to sift carefully through these texts to stitch together reliable information which, by default, also revolve around medieval Zoroastrian belief and praxis. Then there are the texts that laud ancient Iranian kings, such as mirrors-forprinces, generally, and, more specifically for instance, Niẓāmī Ganjavī (1149–1209)’s beloved Khosrow va Shīrīn and Haft Paykar (Seven Portraits). Both mas̱navīs (long narrative poem) focus on the lives and loves of the Sasanian kings, Khosro II (d. 628) and Bahrām V (406–438), respectively. Interestingly, for our purposes, while Niẓāmī downplays the importance of the religion itself, if not outright decrying it, he projects back contemporary ideals on to the ancient Sasanians, upholding Zoroastrian kings as exemplary models for (wayward) Muslims, rulers and otherwise, to emulate.6 In one illuminating instance, when a young Khosro disregards his father’s edict not to harm anyone or their property, the king punishes the young prince as he would any other lower ranking member of society. At this point in the tale, Niẓāmī interjects to ask, ‘We are Muslims, and he is a Zoroastrian / if this is a Zoroastrian, then who is a Muslim?’,7 meaning ancient Zoroastrian kings had a strong sense of justice that resembles the highest Muslim ideals which, perhaps, were not always exactly being met. For the purposes of this volume, then, I will look at the representation of Zoroastrians in the works of Niẓāmī’s contemporary, the prodigious and influential Sufi and hagiographer, Farīd al-Dīn ʿAṭṭār (d. c. 1222). Much like Niẓāmī’s portrayals, ʿAṭṭār’s works offer instances of positive images of ancient Iranian kings. Indeed, he makes use of a plethora of ancient figures (such as biblical prophets and heroes and Iranian mytho-historical kings), including the popular Sasanian kings, to explore current concerns as well. Additionally, however, ʿAṭṭār features coeval Zoroastrians positively and toward different aims.8 As time and space, here, preclude an extensive survey of his works, I will train my attention on the Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ (Memorial of God’s Friends) and Ilāhīnāmah (Book of the Divine). These two texts are chosen since, for all their similarities,9 they offer contrasting views on power and authority best

5 For more on this, cf. Crone, The Nativist Prophets. 6 This is a common trope in medieval Islamic practical ethics and mirrors-for-princes which also back project current ideals onto the most popular Sasanian kings such as Khosro I Anōšruwān (immortal soul) (501–579), who during the Abbasid period became a veritable metonym for just rulership (he is referred to as Khosro Anūshīravān-i ʿĀdil [Anushiravan the Just]). 7 Niẓāmī Ganjavī, Khosrow va Shīrīn, p. 149. 8 For an overview of the image of Zoroastrians in Sufi literature and especially ʿAṭṭār’s Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ, see Neale, ‘The Zoroastrian’, especially pp. 146–47 for one early positive depiction of a Zoroastrian in a work of history, the Tārīkh-i Sīstān (The History of Sistan). 9 For more on this, see below and Dabiri, ‘“When a Lion is Chided by An Ant”’.

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perceived in tales of coeval Zoroastrians. Indeed, contemporary Zoroastrians (gibrān or mughān10) appear primarily in tales dealing with conversion, across confession. And both texts make a point of displaying the power of saints (God’s friends, awliyāʾ11) to convert Zoroastrians who have long held onto their native religion. Yet each text takes a distinctively different stance on the authority of saints as they go about flexing their power to convert.12 Though we may not be able to paint any more of a detailed picture of the lives of Zoroastrians, we may be able to corroborate what little we know of their financial and social circumstances with such analyses. More significantly, we will be better positioned to appreciate the complexities in the worldview of one of the most accomplished medieval storytellers and undoubted sources of inspiration for later Sufi poets and hagiographers (the most famous of whom are the thirteenth-century Rumi and the fifteenth-century Jāmī). ʿAṭṭār’s Dīvān (collected poems) will also be brought into the discussion, since it is concerned with spiritual rather than confessional conversion and has an alternative take on the power and authority of saints.13 As such, it is an important counterweight to the Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ (henceforth, Taẕkirat) and Ilāhīnāmah. Before turning to the topic at hand, it behoves us to address the fact that, in modern scholarship, only one of the three texts under discussion here is considered a hagiography — the entertaining and illuminating Taẕkirat, which is a collection of tales from the lives of various saints and is the oldest work in Persian to bear this name.14 The collected poems, as I have just mentioned, serve as a litmus test in comparing and contrasting the images of Zoroastrians. Deserving our attention, then, is the underappreciated Ilāhīnāmah. I have argued elsewhere that the Ilāhīnāmah, even if not considered hagiography proper, shares many characteristics in common with other generic types, specifically the malfūẓāt (sayings) and taẕkirat (remembrances).15 To begin 10 Magians. 11 On the development of the term ‘awliyāʾ’ and its equivalence with ‘saints’, see Cornell, Realm of the Saint, pp. xvii–xxix and Abun-Nasr, Muslim Communities of Grace, pp. 1–6. 12 Neale’s premise is that in the Taẕkirat, saints are called upon to reflect on deeper spiritual meanings through their interactions with Zoroastrians. See Neale, ‘The Zoroastrian’, pp. 140–48. Some of the anecdotes certainly point to this, especially when the saint is left to ponder the words or actions of a Zoroastrian in a happenstance encounter. However, the other anecdotes he categorizes as such leave room for interpretation. Indeed, when looked at through the lens of power, conversion, and neighbourliness, a rather different, more nuanced picture emerges of Zoroastrians in the Taẕkirat. See the section below titled: Confessional Conversion I: The View from Above. Interestingly, masters made to reflect on their spirituality or deeper meanings is a prevalent theme in the Ilāhīnāmah with thieves, drunkards, and catamites playing this ‘driving’ role. For more on this, see Dabiri, ‘“When a Lion is Chided by An Ant”’. 13 The Taẕkirat also features stories depicting a saint’s call, so-to-speak, to Sufism. For a comparative view, see Sirry, ‘Pious Muslims’. 14 de Bruijn, ‘Tad̲h̲kira 2.’. 15 Dabiri, ‘“When a Lion is Chided by An Ant”’, pp. 79–84.



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with, the Ilāhīnāmah and the Taẕkirat display remarkable affinities. For instance, both works contain exemplary/edifying tales of historical saints and kings and fictional merchants, farmers, disciples, religious elites, nobles, soldiers, bakers, and street-sweepers. And the Ilāhīnāmah narrates similar tales about the same saints who appear in the Taẕkirat. Furthermore, the Ilāhīnāmah’s main narrator, a fictional caliph, has a function parallel to ʿAṭṭār’s authorial voice in the Taẕkirat; they share the same goals in telling the tales of saints — it is beneficial to the development of one’s soul to hear and/or read about them and to use them to instruct others toward the same goal.16 The difference being that in his introduction to the Taẕkirat, ʿAṭṭār lists his goals to benefit himself and to enlighten his fellow denizens17 while the Ilāhīnāmah is about a caliph who one day sits with his sons, consummate kings in their own rights, to ask them what it is that they wish for most in the world. It turns out that they each desire a worldly token of power, such as Solomon’s ring, Alexander’s water of life, or Jamshīd’s world-seeing chalice,18 or mastery over its manifestations, such as complete knowledge of alchemy or thaumaturgy. Their disappointed father takes it upon himself to teach his sons about the ultimate source of power, the divine. And he instructs them with lectures, catechisms, aphorisms, ḥadīs̱ (sayings of the prophet Muḥammad and his companions), and tales of earlier and contemporary saints in which teaching others and learning are prominent themes. In doing so, then, the Ilāhīnāmah also evokes the malfūẓāt, which focus on the similar types of sayings of masters.19 The Ilāhīnāmah, thus, invokes, depicts, and complements Sufi mentor-discipleships and the various texts produced by masters and their adepts. But, while it devotes itself to the lives and sayings of saints’ lives, it also creates momentary saints out of everyday folk, including Zoroastrians. Everyday folk, in the Ilāhīnāmah, offer by-turns implicit and explicit lessons on Sufism’s highest ideals to those in power, whether saints or kings.20 Herein lies the crux of the matter; while the Taẕkirat articulates power from above — saints in apposition to disciples, kings, and ordinary folk — the Ilāhīnāmah infuses all members of society with spiritual authority. Hence, in my view, the Ilāhīnāmah may be considered as a type of exemplary hagiography and will be treated as such here.

16 Dabiri, ‘“When a Lion is Chided by An Ant”’, pp. 72–79. 17 ʿAṭṭār, Memorial of God’s Friends, trans. by Losensky, pp. 39–46. 18 Jamshīd is a mytho-historical king of ancient Iranian lore who, in the medieval versions of his tale, has a chalice imbued with the mystical power to see the inner-workings of the world. 19 The authors of malfūẓāt are usually the disciples of a master; the Ilāhīnāmah does have a narrator telling the tale of the caliph and his sons, but the narrator is anonymous. For more, see Dabiri, ‘“When a Lion is Chided by An Ant”’, pp. 79–84 and Dabiri, ‘Reading ʿAttār’s Elāhināma as Sufi Practical Ethics’, pp. 42–43. 20 For more on the Ilāhīnāmah as a text that creates saints/masters out of kings and ordinary folk alike and disciples out of its audience, see Dabiri, ‘“When a Lion is Chided by An Ant”’, especially pp. 90–98. For an illuminating discussion on this topic in Byzantine hagiography, see Rapp, ‘The Origins of Hagiography’, pp. 119–30.

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Conversion: The View from Within Now, I turn our attention briefly to the Dīvān since it is our touchstone. While Zoroastrians rarely make an appearance in the Dīvān, oddly, their trappings do. ʿAṭṭār’s poetic persona, man (I), and sometimes his anonymous shaykh or pīr (master)21 are depicted engaging in practices that were deemed scandalous to normative medieval Muslim sensibilities, such as partaking of wine and communing with people of ill-repute (rinds), which are common tropes in mystical poetry in general.22 ʿAṭṭār’s poetic persona and shaykh also can be found tearing/burning up their Sufi’s cloak and donning the habits of Zoroastrians, in both senses of the word — they wear Zoroastrian clothing, particularly the zunār (the identifying belt that was required of all non-Muslims to be worn in public),23 go to their fire-temples, or, more rarely, engage in consanguineous relations.24 When ʿAṭṭār’s poetic persona or his shaykh claims to go to the Zoroastrian’s temple, for instance, it produces two overlapping effects on the audience; it evokes the sacred pilgrimage to the Kabah at Mecca that is required of all Muslims and, hence, it has a shock-effect. Sufis, no-doubt, have made quite the antinomian reputation for themselves over the centuries (at least by some groups and individuals more so than other more conservative ones).25 However, while such ‘acts of Zoroastrianism’ are indeed intended for their shock-value, 21 It is not known for certain whether or not ʿAṭṭār studied with any specific master, though it is alleged that Abū Muḥammad ʿAbbās b. Muḥammad b. Abī Manṣūr, also known as ʿAbbāsah-i Ṭūsī, was. See Ritter, Das Meer der Seele, p. 703. In any case, the pīr of the poems should also be considered a persona rather than ʿAṭṭār’s actual shaykh, though he does sometimes refer to the pīr as shaykh-i mā (my/our shaykh). 22 Other frequent ‘extreme’ tropes are idol-worshipping and exiting the Kabah to enter a tavern. 23 For instances of the tropes that pertain to ‘acts of Zoroastrianism’, as I call it (which also include other similar motifs), see ʿAṭṭār, Dīvān-i ʿAṭṭār, ghazal (lyric) numbers: 7, 43, 94, 154, 160, 190, 199, 246, 252, 272, 383, 450, 478, 486–87, 493, 515, 581, 600, 610–11, 617, 620, 628, and 836. (Ghazals 702 and 766 have the rather opposite message, namely, if you are not going to abide by the religion, you may as well tie the zunār, while 845 is a call to tear the zunār of hypocrisy). 24 Muslims often erroneously charged Zoroastrians as being fire-worshippers, confusing the fastidiousness with which Zoroastrians maintained ritual purity which was extended onto fire. Fire is held sacred, but it is not an object of worship. Zoroastrians did engage in consanguineous relations for a variety of reasons, prime among them were keeping wealth within families and to maintain and improve upon good traits. For an extensive overview of consanguineous marriages in Zoroastrianism, see Skjærvø, ‘Marriage ii’. For an overview of the perspective from the point of view of Muslim authors, see Gelder, Close Relationships. In Dīvān-i ʿAṭṭār, ghazal no. 493, ʿAṭṭār claims to enter into sexual relations with his mother, on top of wearing the Zoroastrian’s belt and partaking of wine. Furthermore, he declares that if he should be burned for these deeds, we should know he did so to annihilate himself (here annihilation can be read as erasing his self and/or his stature in the community as well as the death-before-death). 25 For the early development of antinomianism in Sufism, see Karamustafa, Sufism, pp. 155–71.



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and may even offend, shock/offence is certainly not the end goal. Receptivity is. The depiction of such acts is intended to have a cascading effect. The first stage is to knock the audience off-kilter to make them more amenable to the symbolism behind the trope — the second stage — which, in-turn, aids in the grasping and internalizing of the message and acting on the invitation to seek deeper spiritual truths elucidated in the rest of the poem — the third stage.26 Take, for example, ghazal number 515: ‫مسلامنان من آن گربم که دین را خوار می دارم‬ ‫ ولیکن از صفا دورم‬،‫طریق صوفیان ورزم‬ ‫ در میخانه بگشودم‬،‫ببستم خانقه را در‬ ‫چو یار اندر خرابات است من اندر کعبه چون باشم‬ ‫به گرد کوی او هر شب بدان امید چون عطار‬

‫مسلامنم همی خوانند و من زنار می دارم‬ ‫صفا کی باشدم چون من رس خامر می دارم‬ ‫می دارم ز می من فخر می گیرم ز مسجد عار‬ ‫خراباتی صفت خود را ز بهر یار می دارم‬ ‫مگر بنوازدم یاری خروش زار می دارم‬

O’ Muslims! I am that Gibr who scoffs at religion / Muslim, they call me, but I wear the zunār I follow the Sufi path but am far from pure27 / How pure can one such as I be with my head in my drink? I’ve locked the door to the khānqah28 and opened the tavern door / I take pride in wine and I scorn the mosque Since my Beloved is at the ruins, why should I be at the Kabah? / I embody the ruinous for the sake of my Beloved Each night, like the scent of perfume (ʿaṭṭār), I drift through my Beloved’s alley filled with hope / Should my Beloved reach out and caress me, I’ll cry out and weep29 Here, ʿAṭṭār declares to his audience that he despises his religion and that though many may call him Muslim (perhaps a subtle reference to his popularity and, 26 Neale, ‘The Zoroastrian’, p. 138 describes this process by making use of the ‘estrangement’ principle of Russian Formalists and only as far as the Taẕkirat is concerned. The ‘estrangement’, making use of the ‘other’, is more appropriate for the Dīvān rather than the Taẕkirat since in all but one story in the Taẕkirat, Zoroastrians are depicted as neighbours of saints and in intimate friendships with the saints. 27 This may be a play on the words Sufi and ṣafāʾ (purity). ‘Sufi’ refers to one who wears wool as part of ascetic practice/breaking with social customs (wearing refined clothing). Though it is widely accepted (both by medieval practitioners of Sufism and modern scholars) that the term ‘Sufi’ (wearer of wool) derives from this meaning, ṣafāʾ is among the other etymologies that were put forth in the medieval period. On this, see Schimmel, ‘The Origin and Early Development of Ṣūfism’, p. 62 and Nasr, An Introduction, p. 25 n. 1. For an overview of the development of the Sufi tradition, see Abun-Nasr, Muslim Communities of Grace, pp. 26–55 and Karamustafa, Sufism, pp. 1–19. 28 Sufi order. 29 ʿAṭṭār, Dīvān-i ʿAṭṭār. Translation is mine.

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hence, stature), he has donned the Zoroastrian’s identifying belt. Anyone familiar with the coded terminology of Sufism soon comes to realize, however, that he is in actuality following the path of the Beloved, the divine, metaphorically; by claiming that he is imbibing, he is stating that he is infusing himself with the divine mysteries.30 His hope is that as he ‘drinks’, he will lose all reason and sense of self, becoming ephemeral like the perfume wafting through the air, so that ultimately he may be able to attain the Sufi’s ultimate goal, union with the divine in this world (fanāʾ billāh). Thus, when his poetic persona or master trades in the khirqah (robe or cloak) for the zunār or enters the tavern, Zoroastrian temple, or ruins(/place of ruin), the actions are simultaneously a signal for and a ritual marking spiritual conversion.31 The act is the ritual, and it signals an altered yet higher state of being, a new summit reached by the lover of the divine, an abandonment of reason for love, and a shedding of all the trappings that go with being a respected member of society.32

Confessional Conversion I: The View from Above In the Dīvān, the Sufi saint who loses all reason by ‘donning Zoroastrian habits’ is either ʿAṭṭār’s poetic persona or his anonymous shaykh. Remarkably, the first notice ʿAṭṭār gives regarding the life and deeds of Abū al-Qāsim Naṣrābādī (d. 978) in the Taẕkirat is arguably the most shocking of all the

30 The coded terminology would have been widely known (including among non-specialized audiences), considering the fact that Sufism, by this time, had become a broad-based social movement and because of the various functions of the khānqāhs; in addition to its primary function as an order, they also served as inns for travellers and centres for learning. Cf. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam and Malamud, ‘Sufi Organization’. 31 In these poems, love for Christians (often prepubescent boys), who are incomparably beautiful and knowers of divine mysteries, acts as the catalyst for spiritual conversion. For an example, see ʿAṭṭār, Dīvān-i ʿAṭṭār, ghazal number 93. And, see Lewis, ‘Sexual Occidentation’ for an analysis of this trope across ʿAṭṭār’s works. For a general survey of gendered imagery and spiritual conversion in medieval Sufism, see Malamud, ‘Gender and Spiritual SelfFashioning’ and on homoeroticism in hagiography, see Miller, ‘Embodying the Beloved’. 32 See, for instance, ʿAṭṭār, Dīvān-i ʿAṭṭār, ghazal number 60 in which ʿAṭṭār explicitly states that he is setting aside his stature in the community (tark-i maqāmāt) and that he is taking up a ruinous path at the Zoroastrian’s temple (dar dayr-i mughān rāh-i kharābāt giriftīm). The Ilāhīnāmah is also replete with lessons and advice on not attaching any significance to one’s stature and rank whether of the religious or courtly kind. See, for instance, Discourse 9, story 8 where Abū Bakr Vāsitī (d. 932) misunderstands his own goal as a Sufi master or Discourse 2, story 6 in which a quite rude lay person asks Shaykh Jandī whether he is better or a dog, and the shaykh has the presence of mind not to react to the insult to his stature as a master and even stops his disciples from violently attacking the man in defence of their master’s honour. All references to the Ilāhīnāmah are from the Shafīʿī-Kadkanī edition, except when otherwise stated. Shaykh Jandī, here, may be Bābā Kamāl-i Jandī (d. 1273), the pre-eminent master of the Kubravī order. For more on this identification, see Ritter, Das Meer der Seele, p. 767.



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tropes we have seen thus far:33 after a pilgrimage to Mecca, the saint apparently not only loses his reason, tears up his cloak, and fastens the zunār; he also circumambulates a sacred fire at a fire-temple!34 However frequently such tropes occur in the Dīvān, they are certainly outliers in ʿAṭṭār’s other works. Moreover, Zoroastrians themselves are featured only a handful of times in the Taẕkirat and, when they do appear, the theme of conversion, across confession, is prominently displayed. These tales of conversion shine light on particular aspects of a saint’s power, namely, performance of miracles, theological command, and compassion. In all of these cases, the saint is portrayed, significantly, as a ‘neighbour’. For instance, Shaykh Abū Isḥāq Shahryār Kāzarūnī (d. 1035), founder of the Kāzarūnī order, notices that the Muslim population of his home city of Kazerun can be counted on one hand and proclaims that soon the opposite will be the case. Soon and sure enough, he personally converts 24,000 Jews and Zoroastrians.35 In another instance, when Sahl ibn Tustarī (818–896) dies, his Jewish neighbour sees angels accompanying the saint’s body, and he converts forthwith.36 Sahl ibn Tustarī, in another anecdote, tells his disciples before dying that he wants his Zoroastrian neighbour, a certain Shāddil, to climb the minbar three days after his death and give a speech. Despite the shock of his decision, his disciples, who are four hundred in number, honour his request, and the entire community turns up to hear out the Zoroastrian. In a very vivid and dramatic scene, Shāddil climbs atop the minbar and cuts his zunār and cap and converts to Islam. It turns out, Tustarī had convinced his neighbour to convert and to do so publicly. Shāddil, then, calls them to do the same. In their awe, the people vow to cut their metaphorical zunārs and renew their faith.37 The saint, thus, as a neighbour has effected mass spiritual conversion as well as a personal confessional conversion.38 In the story of Aḥmad Ḥarb Quds (d. 849) and his Zoroastrian neighbour, Bahrām, we have one of the most intimate portraits of a saint and his neighbour in the Taẕkirat.39 One day, Aḥmad hears that his Zoroastrian neighbour and merchant, Bahrām, was robbed of his goods and suggests that he and his disciples go out to comfort him in person. As he does so, he reminds his disciples that Bahrām is a neighbour and, therefore, should be cared for as

33 It may be tied with engaging in consanguineous relations with one’s own mother (see above). 34 ʿAṭṭār, Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ, p. 684. 35 ʿAṭṭār, Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ, p. 668. 36 ʿAṭṭār, Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ, p. 279. 37 ʿAṭṭār, Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ, p. 278. 38 Neale, ‘The Zoroastrian’, pp. 145–46, argues that by having a Zoroastrian ascend the minbar to lecture, the lesson given by the saint to his disciples is on God’s oneness (tawhīd). 39 ʿAṭṭār, Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ, pp. 253–54. Although as Neale, ‘The Zoroastrian’, p. 143, rightly points out, there is a similar, albeit quite short, anecdote in which a Zoroastrian stands out among the community in comforting a suffering saint. See, ʿAṭṭār, Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ, p. 189.

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any other. But contrary to expectation, he finds an optimistic Bahrām. Ahm ̣ ad believes that Bahrām’s optimistic view of the world, namely that God is a constant and a source of strength, sounds similar to the Muslim’s worldview.40 He then asks him why he is a Zoroastrian. When Bahrām gives an answer about the faith and loyalty of the fire, Aḥmad convinces Bahrām that both of them would burn if they were to stick their hands into it. Then, he asks about the kind of loyalty the fire has that it would burn a man who has been faithful for his seventy years the same way it would a Muslim. Partially convinced, apparently, of this logic, Bahrām then asks a few theology-lite questions and, satisfied with the illuminating answers, converts to Islam. Much to everyone’s surprise, at the moment of conversion, Aḥmad cries out and faints. (Fainting, as it were, is the closest one gets to union with the divine in Sufism since the senses are incapable of beholding the divine). Later, when he comes to, his disciples ask what happened. He says that a voice proclaimed, ‘Bahrām has brought himself into the fold of the faithful. You, who have been a Muslim for seventy years, what will you bring?’ The first lesson of this story, namely, that neighbours — Muslim, Zoroastrian, or otherwise — should be treated with the same kindness and generosity gives way to the one immediately pertinent to the aims of the volume; the power of the saint to convert a Zoroastrian through compassion and a simple conversation about theology. However, as soon as that power is on full display, it is somewhat turned upside down: a voice reminds the saint that the act of conversion is not enough. There is more for even a saint, one of God’s friends, to do.

Confessional Conversion II: The View from Across Society To see saints almost completely out of their element, we now turn to the upside-down mirror image of the Taẕkirat, the Ilāhīnāmah. Above, we remarked upon the similarities between the two works. Here, I will note the main differences between them. First and foremost, the Taẕkirat is organized by saints, whereas the Ilāhīnāmah is organized around themes relevant to Sufism and has a frame story. This marked difference is telling since, as noted above, the Taẕkirat’s focus is on the saints who are the exemplars, whereas the Ilāhīnāmah’s focus is evenly distributed across various character-types, both fictional and historical, across all sections of society. In other words, saints are not always exemplary models. The saints in the Ilāhīnāmah often

40 Interestingly, Zoroastrians and Sufis seem to share a similar goal, being God’s friend. In the Avesta, the Zoroastrian holy book, Zoroaster asks God to ‘tell me truly: How with your agreement, can I reach my goal, your friendship’. See The Heritage of Zarathushtra, ed. by Humbach and Ichaporia, pp. 70–71.



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have as much to learn from their lay neighbours as their disciples do from them in the Taẕkirat. In Discourse 11, story 13, Ḥasan of Basra (642–728) appears in a similar tale-type as Aḥmad does in the Taẕkirat, especially since both include common legitimating experiences (fainting and dreams, respectively). However, Ḥasan has a much harder time of it than his counterpart. In this tale, one day, Ḥasan learns that his old Zoroastrian neighbour, Shamʿūn, has fallen gravely ill and is at the end of his life. Feeling great pity for the man, Ḥasan visits with him because he is his neighbour. When he enters the Zoroastrian’s home, he finds him burnt from having approached too close to the fire. Feeling great pain for Shamʿūn, Ḥasan begins to proselytize his neighbour, asking how he can continue in the error of his ways. To prove the disloyalty of the fire, Ḥasan sticks his hand in the fire and remains unscathed. The Zoroastrian, convinced, asks Ḥasan to convert him but asks for witnesses to sign a document that states that Ḥasan converted Shamʿūn for proof in the face of divine wrath. Shamʿūn, soon after, dies and is buried according to his wishes — as a Muslim — with the slip of paper — his proof of conversion — in hand. Although one of the most revered Sufis of the early period, Ḥasan is unconvinced that he has attained the highest levels and comes to believe that he had no business offering a dying man salvation. That night, Ḥasan has a dream in which a crowned and smiling Shamʿūn, now in paradise, comes to him to tell him not to fret about his fate. Ḥasan wakes up the next morning with the note he had written guaranteeing the Zoroastrian’s conversion. Herein lies the difference between the two texts: whereas in the Taẕkirat, the master is gently informed by a voice that he still has much work to do for the sake of the religion, the saint in the Ilāhīnāmah doubts himself and must be comforted and assured that in fact he has been doing enough. The stark contrast between the two works is especially highlighted in Discourse 7, story 3 in which the famous Shaykh Bāyazīd (d. 848 or 875) converts a Zoroastrian to Islam.41 After the conversion, Bāyazīd is inconsolable. Exasperated, he exclaims that after seventy years of following his own religion, the Zoroastrian is now instantly saved. The shaykh may be a bit envious. This story is then followed by a tale on the capriciousness of God’s will. The lesson for everyone, including the shaykh, is that one never knows who is filled with God’s grace whatever religion he or she has been born into, so be good to your neighbours. Contrast this with the story of Abū Bakr Vāsitī (d. 932), the ‘soaring minaret’,42 whose disciples instead get a little grumpy and complain when he converts a Zoroastrian in the Taẕkirat. They grumble about the fact 41 The term used in this instance is ‘tarsā’ which, while it is usually used in reference to Christians, may also be used to refer to Zoroastrians. John A. Boyle, a translator of the Ilāhīnāmah, following Hellmut Ritter, an editor of the Ilāhīnāmah, understands the term here as Zoroastrian. I also follow suit. See ʿAṭṭār, Ilāhi-nāma, trans. by Boyle, pp. 367 n. 33 and 368 n. 5. 42 Silvers, A Soaring Minaret.

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that after forty years of being a Zoroastrian just like that, in an instant, the man becomes a Muslim. Vāsitī cleverly responds by asking what they make of the prophet Muḥammad’s first forty years before he was called to prophethood.43 The lesson, on one level, may be to respect the power of confessional and spiritual conversion but so too is the authority of the saint on full display in his act of mercy towards the Zoroastrian and in his rhetorical powers. In one of the final stories of the Ilāhīnāmah (Epilogue, story 10), Shaykh Bāyazīd seems to have finally learned his lesson. At death’s door, Bāyazīd asks for a zunār to wear. Shocked, his friends at first refuse. When they finally relent, he ties the belt and then immediately tears it. When his friends ask him the meaning of this, he says that the seventy-year-old Zoroastrian had been on his mind the whole time. He announces that he wants to proclaim his faith just like the Zoroastrian had at the end of his life. The shaykh, at the end of his own life, may just be the shaykh featured in ʿAṭṭār’s Dīvān as he figures out what, in the Taẕkirat, Tustarī’s community intuitively understands and Vāsitī’s disciples must learn. The Ilāhīnāmah, as interested as it is in people from every walk of life, has favourites among historical figures. And here I will transition for a brief moment to one of the stories in the Ilāhīnāmah that does not feature a saint. One of the Ilāhīnāmah’s favourite kings is the tenth-eleventh-century Sultan Maḥmūd Ghaznī (970–1030), who was as well known for his irascibleness as he was for his expeditions into northern India, which resulted in mass conversions in the newly conquered territories, and for being a staunch guardian of orthodox Islam. A significant number of Maḥmūd’s tales centre on his receptivity to lessons on love, faith, and social justice, making him, in ʿAṭṭār’s narrative world, a most adept Sufi disciple. His teachers are either his lover and slave, Ayāz, his own intuition, holy fools, or old peasant women. In one marked exception, it is an anonymous Zoroastrian merchant who teaches the world conquering sultan about right governance, social justice, and religion. In Discourse 5, story 7, a Zoroastrian merchant, seeing the need for a bridge to help ease travellers’ burdens, builds it with his own funds. The sultan, one day, happens along the road and seeing the new beautiful bridge, enquires after its patron. When Maḥmūd discovers the patron is a Zoroastrian, he is immediately dismissive. He thinks him unworthy because of his religion. This despite the fact that the maintenance of infrastructure is the duty of kings who collect taxes from the populace, presumably, for this purpose. The sultan insists on remunerating him. The Zoroastrian shows the sultan what the price of the bridge is — and it is not gold or his faith. He throws himself off the bridge and into the water rather than subject his faith to a belligerent king. The caliph, who was telling this story to his sons, praises the Zoroastrian for his steadfastness in faith and admonishes his sons that in their negligence to the faith, they have much to learn about Islam from a 43 ʿAṭṭār, Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ, p. 651.



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Zoroastrian. In fact, the Zoroastrian merchant is much like a Sufi; one after ʿAṭṭār’s own heart for he builds a bridge to assist his community struggling on the path (of love) in attaining their destination (the divine). Though confessional and spiritual conversion from above drive most of the images of Zoroastrians and their ‘habits’ in the Taẕkirat and poems, respectively, something rather different occurs in the Ilāhīnāmah. The two Shaykh Bāyazīd tales and the story of Maḥmūd and the Zoroastrian are especially demonstrative of the lengths to which power and authority are narrated from below. In the latter, the contrast between protagonist and antagonist is striking — a historical ruler lauded for his contributions to the expansion and safe-guarding of normative Islam is one-upped, and rather embarrassingly so, by a fictional merchant Zoroastrian. Not willing to be bullied by a worldly king, in his self-sacrifice, he is a type of martyr that faintly echoes those in Christian martyrdoms. Thus, though not every tale features a saint, nevertheless, the Ilāhīnāmah makes momentary saints out of everyday folk.

Concluding Remarks It is perhaps not coincidental, then, that ʿAṭṭār, a pseudonym meaning perfumer and apothecary, was by trade the city’s apothecary. Applying healing salves to the bodies of his neighbours to help them with their physical ailments, his tales were a salve for their souls. This may even explain his concern for neighbourly kindness, regardless of religion. I am perhaps wrapping up the Sufi metaphor of the interior/exterior-soul/body paradox a little too neatly here. However, I do so to note the importance of the fact that literature was not ʿAṭṭār’s profession by trade. This, perhaps, may account for how ʿAṭṭār is able to narrate power and authority from both above and below. As a Sufi, he devotes one text (Taẕkirat) to laud God’s early friends, for their closeness to God. As his city’s apothecary, he devotes another text (Ilāhīnāmah) to the various people that make-up a community. Indeed, his trade afforded him independence from the patron-client relationship that marks many literary texts and hagiographies. And I would argue here that disciples writing the hagiographies of their masters is a particular kind of patron-client relationship, where the reward is clout rather than the clout and coin of courts. He was, thus, independent of the mediating effects of competition and cooperation that existed among a court’s or khānqāh’s literary tastemakers whose works revolve around courtly concerns and elite heroes and masters, respectively. As such, he eschews focusing on any one particular saint or master, placing the importance on the collective. He also demonstrates the ability to perceive the potential in everyday folk to become exemplary models. From this vantage point, it is easy to see how ʿAṭṭār’s multivalent identity as a Sufi, hagiographer, apothecary, and neighbour translates into a complex worldview across his texts. And as we have seen, in the Taẕkirat, saints are imbued with power and authority. But, in the Ilāhīnāmah, Zoroastrians, together with peasants

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and slaves, merchants and soldiers, and shaykhs and kings, are the heart of society’s moral authority, at least when they act according to the tenets of Sufism or teach others to do the same. And in this we have a clear vision of ʿAṭṭār’s political thought-world: saints, kings, and the public alike are equally charged with responsibility towards faith and spirituality, towards each other, and towards the maintenance of social justice and stability.44 In conclusion, I return to the matter with which I began, namely, the circumstances of medieval Zoroastrians. In the case of ʿAṭṭār’s poems, we saw Zoroastrian trappings become ritual objects marking spiritual conversions of a higher order for Sufis. In the Taẕkirat and the Ilāhīnāmah, we saw that Zoroastrians had their friendly neighbourhood saints, who were concerned with their physical and spiritual well-being. Strikingly, the combined stories of conversion in the Taẕkirat and Ilāhīnāmah may point to another reason that Zoroastrians converted to Islam — one rarely noted in modern scholarship, perhaps for lack of corroborating evidence — namely, proselytizing saints.45 Though it almost goes without saying, the tales in both works are ultimately anecdotal. Clearly, ʿAṭṭār, in projecting an ideal, portrays the verisimilitude of society. In portraying what should be, what is becomes salient to the discerning reader. We know that despite the complex ritual purity laws that demanded Zoroastrians keep themselves apart, they were less strictly upheld as the years went by and intermarriages and conversions increased. This is corroborated in the tales of both texts as we see Zoroastrians and masters in close proximity with one another. So, too, is the fact that many Zoroastrians earned their daily sustenance as merchants and, like everyone else, were equally vulnerable to the capriciousness of the world and in need of a comforting word from their friends and neighbours. The significance of this is that, according to the tales, it seems Zoroastrians were accepted into the fold of medieval Muslim cities, if not fully integrated into the fabric of the Muslim community, at least not until conversion. Moreover, saints are depicted as being concerned about the salvation of their neighbours, Muslim or otherwise. It is then not too far-fetched to imagine Sufi saints proselytizing Zoroastrian neighbours in early medieval Iran on both a personal and a grand scale, as depicted in the tales, as they later did on a grand scale further east in missionary activities (as Kāzarūnī did for his home city).46 Thus, in addition to making Sufism a wildly popular and social-based movement, ʿAṭṭār’s tales suggest that Sufis played yet another transformative role in the socio-cultural and religious landscape of early medieval Iran. 44 See Dabiri, ‘“When a Lion is Chided by An Ant”’, pp. 62–79. 45 The notice on Kāzarūnī is frequently noted in secondary literature, however. See, for instance, Choksy, Conflict and Cooperation, p. 88. By contrast, there is an abundance of evidence and literature on the missionary activities of Sufis in premodern India. For an overview, see Wormser, ‘The Spread of Islam’, pp. 110–11. 46 For a general overview, see Hodgson, The Venture of Islam, pp. 535–36.



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Bibliography Primary Sources ʿAṭṭār, Farīd al-Dīn, Farid ad-Din ʿAttār’s Memorial of God’s Friends: Lives and

Sayings of Sufis, trans. by Paul Losensky (New York: Paulist Press, 2009) ———, Dīvān-i ʿAṭṭār, ed. by Badīʿ al-Zamān Furūzānfar, 8th edn (Tehran: Muʾassasah-i Intishārāt-i Nigāh, 2012) ———, Ilāhi-nāma, or Book of God of Farīd al-Dīn ʿAṭṭār, trans. by John A. Boyle (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1976) ———, Ilānīnāmah, ed. by Muḥammad Riz̤ā Shafīʿī-Kadkanī, 3rd edn (Tehran: Intishārāt-i Sukhan, 2013) ———, Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ, ed. by Muḥammad Istiʿlāmī, 28th edn (Tehran: Zavvār, 2018) The Heritage of Zarathushtra: A New Translation of His Gāthās, ed. and trans. by Helmut Humbach and Pallan Ichaporia (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag C. Winter, 1994) Narshakhī, The History of Bukhara: Translated from the Persian Abridgement of the Arabic Original by Narshakhi, trans. by Richard N. Frye (Princeton: Marcus Wiener Publishers, 2007, second printing 2011) Niẓāmī Ganjavī, ‘Khosrow va Shīrīn’, in Kulliyāt-i Niẓāmī Ganjavī: Muṭābiq-i nuskhah-i Vahīd Dastgirdī, ed. by Parvīz Bābāʾī, 3rd edn, 2 vols (Tehran: Nigāh, 1999) Secondary Sources Abun-Nasr, Jamil M., Muslim Communities of Grace: The Sufi Brotherhood in Islamic Religious Life (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007) de Bruijn, J. T. P., ‘Tad̲h̲kira 2. In Persian Literature’, in Encyclopaedia of Islam, vol. 2, online edition [accessed 01/03/ 2019]. Choksy, Jamsheed K., ‘Zoroastrians in Muslim Iran: Selected Problems of Coexistence and Interaction during the Early Medieval Period’, Iranian Studies, 20.1 (1987), 17–30 ———, Conflict and Cooperation: Zoroastrian Subalterns and Muslim Elites in Medieval Iranian Society (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997) ———, ‘Altars, Precincts, and Temples: Medieval and Modern Zoroastrian Praxis’, Iran, 44.1 (2006), 327–46 Crone, Patricia, The Nativist Prophets of Early Islamic Iran: Rural Revolt and Local Zoroastrianism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012) Cornell, Vincent J., Realm of the Saint: Power and Authority in Moroccan Sufism (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998) Dabiri, Ghazzal, ‘Reading ʿAttār’s Elāhināma as Sufi Practical Ethics: Between Genre, Reception, and Muslim and Christian Audiences’, Journal of Persianate Studies, 11.1 (2018),  29–55

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———, ‘“When a Lion is Chided by An Ant”: The Making of Sufi Kings and Everyday Saints in ʿAttār’s Elāhināma’, Journal of Persianate Studies, 12.1 (2019), 62–102 Gelder, Jan van Geert, Close Relationships: Incest and Inbreeding in Classical Arabic Literature (Tauris, 2005) Green, Nile, ‘The Survival of Zoroastrianism in Yazd’, Iran, 38.1 (2000), 115–22 Hodgson, Marshall G. S., The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization, vol. 2: The Expansion of Islam in the Middle Periods (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1974) Karamustafa, Ahmet T., Sufism: The Formative Period, The New Edinburgh Islamic Surveys (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007) Kiel, Yishai, and Prods Oktor Skjærvø, ‘Apostasy and Repentance in Early Medieval Zoroastrianism’, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 137.2 (2017), 221–43 Lewis, Franklin D., ‘Sexual Occidentation: The Politics of Conversion, ChristianLove and Boy-Love in ʿAttār’, Iranian Studies, 42.5 (2009), 693–723 Macuch, Maria, ‘Descent and Inheritance in Zoroastrian and Shiʿite Law: A Preliminary Study’, Der Islam, 94.2 (2017), 322–35 Malamud, Margaret, ‘Sufi Organization and Structures of Authority in Medieval Nishapur’, International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 26.3 (1994), 427–42. ———, ‘Gender and Spiritual Self-Fashioning: The Master-Disciple Relationship in Classical Sufism’, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 64.1 (1996), 89–117 Miller, Matthew Thomas, ‘Embodying the Beloved: Embodiment, (Homo) eroticism, and the Straightening of Desire in the Hagiographic Tradition of Fakhr al-Dīn ʿIrāqī’, Middle Eastern Literatures, 21.1 (2018), 1–27 Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993) Neale, Harry Stuart, ‘The Zoroastrian in ʿAttār’s Tadkiratuˈl-Awliyāʾ’, Middle Eastern Literatures, 12.2 (2009), 137–56 Rapp, Claudia, ‘The Origins of Hagiography and the Literature of Early Monasticism: Purpose and Genre between Tradition and Innovation’, in Unclassical Traditions, ed. by Christopher Kelley, Richard Flower, and Michael Stuart Williams, vol. 1: Alternatives to the Classical Past in Late Antiquity (Cambridge: Cambridge Philological Society, 2010), pp. 119–30 Ritter, Hellmut, Das Meer der Seele: Mensch, Welt und Gott in den Geschichten des Farīduddīn ʿAttār, tr. J. O’Kane as The Ocean of the Soul: Men, the World, and God in the Stories of Farīd al-Dīn ʿAṭṭār, Handbook of Oriental Studies, 69 (Leiden: Brill, 2003) Schimmel, Annemarie, ‘The Origin and Early Development of Sufism’, Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society, 7.12 (1959), 55–67 Silvers, Laury, A Soaring Minaret: Abu Bakr al-Wasiti and the Rise of Baghdadi Sufism (Albany: SUNY University Press, 2011) Sirry, Munˈim, ‘Pious Muslims in the Making: A Closer Look at Narratives of Ascetic Conversion’, Arabica, 57 (2010), 437–54



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Skjærvø, Prods Oktor, ‘Marriage ii. Next of Kin Marriage in Zoroastrianism’, in Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2013 [accessed 05/07/2019] Wormser, Paul, ‘The Spread of Islam in Asia through Trade and Sufism (ninthnineteenth century)’, in Routledge Handbook of Religions in Asia, ed. by Bryan S. Turner and Oscar Selemnik (London: Routledge, 2015), pp. 109–22

Part 3

Mapping the Terrain of Power

Maïeul Rouquette

Two Churches, Two Saints, One Island The Narrative Construction of a Conflict between Tamasos and Salamis (Cyprus) through Heracleides and Barnabas*

In 431, the bishop of Antioch, John (d. 441), wanted to delay the consecration of a new bishop to the Chair of Salamis, in Cyprus, until the council of Ephesus. He asked Flavius Dionysius, the commander of the imperial troops in the Diocese of the Orient (magister militum per orientem), to intervene with Theodorus, the governor (consularis) of Cyprus, towards that aim. For, as a unified front, the bishops of Cyprus had sided with Alexandria during the Christological conflict with the Church of Antioch. Consequently, for John of Antioch, one fewer Cypriot bishop at the Council would have meant one fewer opponent. As the Alexandrian camp ‘won’ the council, the Cypriot bishops received confirmation of the autonomy of the Church of Cyprus from the Church of Antioch. The impression given in the classical historiography of the Church of Cyprus is that the fifth century was marked by a long-standing conflict between Cyprus and Antioch. Two hagiographic narratives, the Acts of Barnabas and the Acts of Heracleides, produced at this time, thus, have been considered in modern scholarship as apologias of the autonomy of the Church of Cyprus against the Church of Antioch. Though a second conflict between the two churches did emerge in 488, as Glanville Downey astutely demonstrated, an ongoing conflict throughout the fifth century is not corroborated by other existing material evidence.1 To address this fully, we momentarily will turn our attention to the Laudatio Barnabae (Praise of Barnabas), which may help shed some light on the matter. It was written by the monk, Alexander of Cyprus, at some point

* This contribution is partially based on the fifth chapter of my thesis. See Rouquette, ‘Étude comparée’, 325–66. 1 Downey, ‘The Claim of Antioch’, pp. 226–27. Maïeul Rouquette  •  (Ph.D., 2017) is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Lausanne where he is preparing a new edition of the Acts of Barnabas in Greek and Latin. Narrating Power and Authority in Late Antique and Medieval Hagiography across East and West, ed. by Ghazzal Dabiri, FABULAE 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2021) pp. 121-132 © FHG10.1484/M.FABULAE-EB.5.122495

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during the sixth–seventh century. And it is the only narrative that details the aforementioned second conflict between the bishop, Anthemios of Salamis, and Peter the Fuller (d. 488), the bishop of Antioch,2 who is described as a daemon who sought to control the Church of Cyprus for introducing heresy and, thereby, for sowing discontent: Peter the Fuller was asked by certain bishops of Cyprus to intervene regarding the use of the ‘Theopaschit’ form of the Trisagion hymn, but his intervention was considered an attack against the autonomy of Cyprus by other bishops.3 Recuperating local fifth-century traditions, the Laudatio Barnabae notes that to win against Antioch, Anthemios of Salamis ‘found’ the body of the apostle Barnabas and a gospel of Matthew near Salamis. The gospel was then moved to Constantinople, and the bishop of Salamis received imperial protection against Antioch and, thus, gained the autonomy of the Church of Cyprus,4 which was soon thereafter known as autocephaly.5 Incidentally, the invention of the body of Barnabas and the translation of the Gospel of Matthew is also attested by an independent and extra-Cypriot source, the Historia Ecclesiastica of Theodorus Lector, but this source does not detail the conflict between Cyprus and Antioch.6 Consequently, with the exceptions of the conflicts of 431 and 488, it does not seem that the whole fifth century was marked by a conflict between Cyprus and Antioch, as many scholars, relying on the Acts of Barnabas, have argued. Upon closer inspection, the Acts of Barnabas and the Acts of Heracleides suggest that there was, instead, a quarrel between the Church of Salamis, which

2 Alexander of Cyprus, Laudatio Barnabae, ed. by Van Deun, pp. 82–122. For the dating, see Rouquette, ‘Étude comparée’, pp. 198–216. 3 Excluding the Laudatio Barnabae, we have no biographical elements about the relationship between Peter the Fuller and the Church of Cyprus. However, Alexander of Cyprus, in the Laudatio Barnabae (ed. by Van Deun, ll. 630–64, pp. 110–11 and ll. 687–91, p. 113), mentions that some Cypriots have accepted the ‘Theospachist’ form of the Trisagion which inserts ‘Crucified for us’ in the hymn. This form of the hymn is ascribed to Peter the Fuller. We can suppose that Anthemios, who was, as described by Alexander of Cyprus, a full Chalcedonian bishop, disagreed with this form of the hymn. In this case, the defenders of the ‘Theopaschist’ form asked Peter the Fuller to intervene, which was considered as an intrusion by Anthemios. See Rouquette, ‘Étude comparée’, pp. 380–86. On the ‘Theopaschit’ form of the Trisagion, see Kosiński, ‘Peter the Fuller’, pp. 68–70. 4 Later traditions state that the Archbishop of Cyprus also gained three privileges: the ability to sign with red ink, to carry the imperial sceptre instead of an episcopal cross, and to wear purple attire during religious ceremonies. However, we have demonstrated in an annex of our thesis that this legend of the ‘three imperial privileges’ is later and starts in the fourteenth century. See Rouquette, ‘Étude comparée’, pp. 689–97. 5 Concerning the term ‘autocephaly’ as applied to the Church of Cyprus, see Rouquette, ‘Étude comparée’, p. 585. 6 Theodorus Lector, Epitome, 436, ed. by Hansen, p. 121, ll. 19–23. Concerning the independence of this source from the Laudatio Barnabae, see Rouquette, ‘Étude comparée’, pp. 200–04. There are some other chronicles that mention the invention, but they are dependent on Theodorus Lector. See Rouquette, ‘Étude comparée’, pp. 578–93.

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is located on the east coast of Cyprus, and the Church of Tamasos, which is situated in the great central plain of the island. This paper, therefore, will focus particularly on the activities and itineraries of the protagonists, Barnabas and Heracleides, as representatives of the two Churches. The ultimate aim of this paper is to help paint a more detailed picture of the history of the Church of Cyprus during one of its most important periods.

The Acts of Barnabas and the Acts of Heracleides: Background and Context The two texts analysed in the present contribution, the Acts of Barnabas and the Acts of Heracleides, were written during the fifth century. The Acts of Barnabas is preserved in Greek in two recensions; the older, which is known as the Paris recension, is attested in only one manuscript. The later recension, Σ, is attested in eleven manuscripts.7 The narrative is presented as a first-person account by John called Mark (also known as John Mark) who was Barnabas’s companion. The first part of the text narrates Paul’s and Barnabas’s journeys together. The second part narrates Barnabas’s and his companions’ journeys, with a special focus on the island of Cyprus. The third and last section describes the martyrdom and burial of Barnabas in the city of Salamis. There are some debates regarding the dating of this text, giving rise to two questions pertinent to our current concerns: what is the relationship between the redaction of the Acts of Barnabas and the decision of the Council of Ephesus and is the text anterior or posterior to the invention of the relics of Barnabas in 488?8 Indeed, it seems improbable that there existed an influential Cypriot tradition concerning Barnabas before 431 but was not used by the Cypriot bishops at the Ephesus Council to argue in favour of Cyprus’s autonomy. Furthermore, it is possible that the Cypriot tradition concerning Barnabas arose after the Ephesus Council as supporting evidence for the Church of Cyprus’s newly won autonomy. Hence, 431 should be retained as a terminus post quem. The terminus ante quem is clearer. In the Acts of Barnabas, the body of Barnabas is burnt, and his ashes are buried. Since this version of events is not compatible with the invention, in 488, of Barnabas’s preserved body in Salamis (Cyprus), it suggests that the Acts of Barnabas is older than the invention of his relics.9 We consider, therefore, that the Acts of Barnabas

7 All references to the Acts of Barnabas in this paper refer to the following edition: Acta Barnabae, ed. by Bonnet, pp. 292–302. We are currently preparing a new edition of the Acts of Barnabas, including the Latin version, at the University of Lausanne. Maximilien Bonnet’s edition is an eclectic and, therefore, problematic one. 8 See Rouquette, ‘Étude comparée’, pp. 124–27. 9 Some authors imagine a double invention of relics; a first one with only ashes, a second one with a full body. It seems implausible to us. For more details on the dating, see Rouquette, ‘Étude comparée’, pp. 124–28.



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must be dated after 431 (council of Ephesus) and before 488 (invention of Barnabas’s relics). The Acts of Heracleides is kept in two recensions. The older one exists only in an Armenian translation and is available in one manuscript.10 The later — and restructured — one is preserved in a single Greek manuscript.11 The Greek version presents Heracleides’ conversion through Barnabas and Mark. This seems to be a later modification, made to mark the prominence of Barnabas (and so, Salamis) over Heracleides (and so, Tamasos). For the purposes of the present article, we will focus primarily on the earlier version and will have occasion to address the Greek version at the conclusion. The narrative of the Armenian Acts of Heracleides is quite complex, especially since it makes frequent use of flashbacks. However, if we turn to the diegetic order rather than to the narrative one, we may offer a chronological outline of the major events: Heracleides, a fictional figure and the main character of the narrative, and his companions are evangelized by Christian missionaries whose names are not mentioned. Then, Heracleides and his companions start to evangelize local populations. At this point in the story, Barnabas is not yet at Tamasos. Later, Barnabas comes to Tamasos and hears about Heracleides’ virtues. He then witnesses Heracleides’ ordination by his brother, Heraclidanos.12 Afterwards, Paul and Barnabas confirm Heracleides in his pastoral mission. Finally, the two leave Cyprus and later send a letter to Barnabas. The text ends with the letter.

The Apostolic Status of Barnabas The prevalent notion in modern scholarship, as noted above, is that the Acts of Barnabas and the Acts of Heracleides are apologias of the autonomy of the Church of Cyprus but more specifically that they ‘have been written to support the apostolicity of the Church of Cyprus against the Church of Antioch’.13 The crux of the matter turns on the question of Barnabas’s apostolicity. For indeed, the apostolicity of Cyprus through Barnabas is used as an argument during the conflict with Antioch, but it was used as such in 488 only, not in 431 during the council of Ephesus.14

10 Acts of Heracleides, ed. by Van Esbroeck, pp. 129–61. 11 Acts of Heracleides, ed. by Halkin, pp. 139–69. 12 The identification of Heraclidianos as the man who ordains Heracleides is not easy because of the structure of the text. We can deduce it from a close analysis of the text. See Rouquette, ‘Étude comparée’, pp. 340–41. 13 See, for example, van Esbroeck’s edition and Halkin’s but also ‘Actes de Barnabé’, trans. by Norelli, especially p. 624 and also The Acts of Barnabas, ed. and trans. by Snyder, i, 317–26, especially p. 324. 14 See Downey, ‘The Claim of Antioch’.

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In the Acts of Barnabas, Barnabas’s apostolicity is not mentioned or hinted at. There is no direct relation between Christ and Barnabas. While Barnabas certainly has a vision of Christ,15 the objective of this vision is to emphasize Barnabas’s involvement with Christ, not to establish Barnabas’s apostolic status. In other words, Christ does not designate Barnabas as an apostle in the Acts of Barnabas. Nor does the Acts of Barnabas attempt to explain the close relationship among the apostles. Furthermore, there is no section where Barnabas is described as an apostle among a circle of apostles. Similarly, in the Acts of Heracleides, there is no evidence concerning the apostolic status of Barnabas. In fact, Barnabas’s status is unclear in Christian texts composed between the first century and the invention of Barnabas’s relics in the fifth century; some authors consider him an apostle while the majority consider him a companion of the apostle Paul.16 As such, it is implausible that Cyprus authors would argue for the apostolicity of Cyprus through Barnabas without first or simultaneously arguing or demonstrating Barnabas’s apostolic status. But, as mentioned earlier, there is no evidence that the Acts of Barnabas argues for Barnabas’s apostolic status. Thus, it remains unconvincing that this text was written to demonstrate the apostolicity of Cyprus through Barnabas. Nevertheless, though Barnabas is broadly not considered an apostle, his status as a figure of authority is significant for our current aims, as will be demonstrated below. Both the Acts of Barnabas and the Acts of Heracleides acknowledge Barnabas as Paul’s companion. They also consider that both Barnabas and Heracleides have a special relationship with Cyprus and between them, which is what has led many scholars to consider that these two texts have a common goal and origin. However, they differ as to the relation between the Churches of Salamis and Tamasos in Cyprus and the nature of the relationship between Barnabas and Heracleides. Such textual discords cannot be explained away if, indeed, our two texts are to be considered communal products of a uniform fifth-century Church of Cyprus. These differences suggest some friction within the Cyprus churches, and, in the next sections, we will explore in-depth their significance, which will help us paint a more detailed understanding of the history of the Church of Cyprus in the fifth century.

Two Competing Visions of the Origins of the Cyprus Churches: Geography The Acts of Barnabas and the Acts of Heracleides expend time and energy mapping the itineraries of their protagonists. In other words, territory is a

15 Acts of Barnabas, iv, 293, ll. 11–16. 16 See Rouquette, ‘Étude comparée’, pp. 75–120.


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prominent concern for both texts. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that neither text centres on the whole island of Cyprus. Instead, they each focus, respectively, on two particular cities, Salamis and Tamasos. In the Acts of Barnabas, Barnabas certainly travels throughout (almost) all Cyprus; Barnabas visits nine Cypriot cities or places, but he is unable to convert anyone. However, it is in Salamis that he is able to convert Jews, and it is there that he is martyred and buried. By all outward appearances, then, his Cypriot mission is a failure, except at Salamis.17 From an early Christian perspective, however, martyrdom was not viewed as a failure but rather a success, as a sign of deep commitment to Christ and a mark of future glory in heaven.18 Therefore, Salamis is indeed the place of Barnabas’s success, and he becomes the tutelary figure of the Church of Salamis. But what does his failure to convert in other cities mean? It seems to show a contrast between Salamis and the other cities of the island. The author of the Acts of Barnabas describes Salamis as the only Cypriot city which accepted the truth in the first century, despite the final martyrdom. With this argument, the author is implicitly arguing that the Church of Salamis holds greater legitimacy and pre-eminence among all the Churches of Cyprus in the fifth century. On the other hand, in the Acts of Heracleides, the only cities mentioned are Tamasos and Paphos. However, the main event of the narrative takes place exclusively in Tamasos: Heracleides is ordained there,19 and the city serves as a base for all his pastoral missions.20 With regard to Paphos, this city is simply mentioned at the very end of the text, in a letter sent to Heracleides, as the place of a future pastoral mission. However, the text does not describe any effective activity undertaken by Heracleides in Paphos.21 Hence, it seems that Heracleides, from the perspective of the Acts of Heracleides, is intimately linked to Tamasos. In terms of the geography of our texts, the focal point of the Acts of Barnabas is the relationship between Salamis and Barnabas, while the focal point of the Acts of Heracleides is that between Tamasos and Heracleides. Mutatis mutandis, the relationship between Heracleides and Barnabas in both texts may describe the vision of the relationship between the Churches of these two cities. To test this hypothesis, we will discuss how the texts represent Heracleides and Barnabas as well as the salient differences in the following section.

17 Acts of Barnabas, § 22–23, p. 300, l. 19 – p. 301, l. 15. 18 Delehaye, Les origines du culte des martyrs, pp. 1–23. 19 Acts of Heracleides, § 1, pp. 128–31. 20 Acts of Heracleides, § 4, pp. 134–35. 21 Acts of Heracleides, § 17, pp. 158–61.

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The Relationship between Barnabas and Heracleides I: The Conversion of Heracleides One of the more important divergences between our two texts revolves around Heracleides’ conversion. The following ambiguity is particularly illuminating: Οὗτος ἦν ἀπὸ τῆς Ταμασέων, ὃς ἐληλύθει ἐπισκέψασθαι τοὺς οἰκείους αὐτοῦ· πρὸς ὃν ἀτενίσας ὁ Βαρνάβας ἀνεγνώρισεν αὐτόν, πρώην ἐπὶ τῆς Κιτιέων συντυχίαν πεποιηκὼς μετὰ Παύλου πρὸς αὐτόν· ᾧ καὶ πνεῦμα ἅγιον ἐδόθη ἐπὶ τοῦ βαπτίσματος, μετωνόμασέν τε αὐτὸν Ἡρακλείδην. χειροτονήσαντές τε αὐτὸν ἐπίσκοπον τῇ Κύπρῳ καὶ ἐκκλησίαν ἐπιστηρίξαντες ἐν Ταμάσῳ κατελείψαμεν αὐτὸν εἰς κατοίκησιν τῶν ἐκεῖσε.22 Heracleius was the one from Tamasus who had come to oversee his properties. Looking at him, Barnabas recognized him, having recently happened into him at the city of Citium with Paul. To him also the Holy Spirit was given upon baptism, and he renamed him ‘Heracleides’. Having elected him as overseer for Cyprus and having confirmed the church in Tamasus, we left him behind in a settlement of the brothers sojourning there.23 It is unclear whether it is Paul and Barnabas, or Paul alone who converts and baptizes him during their journey throughout Cyprus, or Barnabas alone during his solo journey. However, in any case, Barnabas has some role in the conversion of Heracleides, even if tangentially as Paul’s companion as in the second scenario. Furthermore, it is clear that it is Barnabas who changes Heraclius’s name to Heracleides because the change happens when Barnabas meets Heraclius for the second time, without Paul. Barnabas is also the one who places Heracleides as the prominent figure of Cyprus’s churches. This fact clearly describes Heracleides as someone who, in some ways, is subordinated to Barnabas, who gives him both a new identity (new name) and a new ecclesial office. The Acts of Heracleides has a completely different vision of the relationship between the two characters. In fact, the narrative does not mention Heracleides’ conversion at all, especially not at the hands of Barnabas. When Barnabas arrives at Tamasos, Heracleides is already a Christian. Hearing that Heracleides and his companions perform miracles, Barnabas decides to meet them and is grateful to God for Heracleides’ conversion.24 The text mentions that Heracleides was converted by some disciples of Christ but does not mention their names.25 As

22 23 24 25

Acts of Barnabas, § 17, p. 298, ll. 8–15. Acts of Barnabas, § 17, translation in ‘The Acts of Barnabas’, trans. by Snyder, 1, p. 335. Acts of Heracleides, § 1, pp. 128–29. Acts of Heracleides, § 4, pp. 134–37. Michel van Esbroeck has translated the Armenian word աշակերտ [aǰakert], which means ‘disciples’, into ‘apostles’. We thank Sara Scarpellini for having pointed out this issue to us.


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such, it seems that Heracleides was converted by some anonymous Christian missionaries, among whom Barnabas was not included. If the author of the Acts of Heracleides knew the Acts of Barnabas, he deliberately chose to make Barnabas have no part in the conversion of Barnabas. Reciprocally, if the author of the Acts of Barnabas knew the Acts of Heracleides, he consciously decided to include Barnabas in the process of converting Heracleides. That would then suggest that the Church of Salamis, represented by Barnabas, and the Church of Tamasos, represented by Heracleides, do not agree about their mutual relationship.

The Relationship between Barnabas and Heracleides II: The Ordination and Training of Heracleides as Bishop Another significant point of diversion between Barnabas’s and Heracleides’ relationship in their respective texts centres on the latter as bishop. For instance, in the Acts of Barnabas, Heracleides is clearly ordained at Tamasos as bishop by Barnabas,26 and, furthermore, Barnabas instructs him regarding his pastoral mission. Significantly, these instructions take place near Salamis, not at Tamasos.27 However, in the Acts of Heracleides, Heracleides is not ordained by Barnabas. Moreover, and as noted above, the text is not clear as to who has ordained Heracleides. According to Michel van Esbroeck’s translation, Heracleides is ordained ‘par le ministère des anges’— that is, ‘through the ministry of the angels’.28 However, our colleague Sara Scarpellini explained to us that the expression ե ւ անդ հրեշտակային վարիւք (ew and hreǰtakayin variwkʿ) used in the Armenian may be translated roughly as ‘through angelic usages’, or ‘through an angelic life’. If we accept the latter translation, then we have a human. In any case, the salient point here is that it is some being (angelic or human) other than Barnabas, who is not mentioned, who ordains Heracleides. At the end of the Acts of Heracleides, it is then confirmed that Heracleides (Heraklisis in Armenian) is ordained by Heraclidianos (Iraklisianos in Armenian), who is not mentioned in the text.29 Since Barnabas does not ordain Heracleides in the Acts of Heracleides, does he train him like he does in the Acts of Barnabas? Not at all! The text is very explicit: Paul and Barnabas (and not Barnabas

26 27 28 29

Acts of Barnabas, § 17, p. 298, ll. 8–15. Acts of Barnabas, § 22, p. 300, ll. 12–14. Acts of Heracleides, § 1, pp. 130–31. Acts of Heracleides, § 4, pp. 134–37. Michel Van Esbroeck considers that the Heraclidianos of the Acts of Heracleides is the Heracleides of the Acts of Barnabas (ed. by Van Esbroeck, pp. 162). However, he does not offer any evidence for such a claim. Furthermore, in the Acts of Heracleides, Heracleides is the only one who receives a pastoral charge from Barnabas. So, it is more plausible that the Heracleides of the Acts of Barnabas is the same as the one of the Acts of Heracleides.

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alone) witness Heracleides performing his missionary and pastoral tasks well and, upon witnessing his dedication, decide to confirm him in his pastoral charge.30 The intervention of Paul and Barnabas in Heracleides’ activities exists only a posteriori. Later, at the end of the Acts of Heracleides, Paul and Barnabas give counsel, through their letter, to Barnabas.31

Synthesis and Conclusion We have no evidence concerning the historical origins of the Churches of Tamasos and Salamis, and it is impossible to tell if one of them was founded before the other one. Of great interest to us, then, is their self-representation in our two narratives: through the figure of Barnabas and Heracleides, each makes a claim concerning their respective places inside the Church of Cyprus. In the Acts of Barnabas, Heracleides’ Christian life, as convert and ordination as bishop, depends on Barnabas. Conversely, in the Acts of Heracleides, the Christian life of Heracleides does not depend intrinsically on Barnabas who confirms a posteriori Heracleides’ activities. This opposition between the two texts combined with the differences regarding their geographical focus — Salamis for the Acts of Barnabas and Tamasos for the Acts of Heracleides — invites us to understand these texts as proposing two different visions for the origins of the churches of Cyprus. A simplistic interpretation of the differences would hold that the Church of Tamasos, represented by Heracleides, contests, in the Acts of Heracleides, the authority of the Church of Salamis, represented by Barnabas and, reciprocally, that the Church of Salamis affirms its authority in the Acts of Barnabas. However, the relationship is more complex. Interestingly, the Acts of Barnabas agrees with the fact that the Church of Tamasos played a significant role in the history of the Church of Cyprus since Heracleides is ordained as bishop of Cyprus, and not just as bishop of Tamasos. Even still, Heracleides is fully dependent on Barnabas for his pastoral activity and legitimacy. Therefore, it seems that the Acts of Barnabas argues that the Church of Salamis has an honorific and hierarchical pre-eminence, despite the chronological pre-eminence of Tamasos over Salamis among the churches of Cyprus, as noted by the localization of the ordination of Heracleides at Tamasos, not at Salamis. The fact that, in this text, Heracleides was potentially converted and baptized not by Barnabas but by Paul would also be an argument in favour of such a thesis, given Paul’s eminent stature. The Acts of Heracleides, on the other hand, asserts its chronological pre-eminence clearly, as Heracleides does not need Barnabas to be ordained, though it concedes that the Church of Salamis may counsel the Church of

30 Acts of Heracleides, § 4, pp. 136–37. 31 Acts of Heracleides, § 17, pp. 158–61.



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Tamasos as Barnabas and Paul do for Heracleides in the final letter. The argument made here regarding the internal dispute among these two churches is corroborated by two other texts. The first text, the Synedkmos by Hierokles (527–528),32 puts Tamasos just after Salamis in its list of the cities of Cyprus.33 This confirms Salamis’s pre-eminence while nevertheless emphasizing the major roles both cities played, potentially concurrently, in Cyprus. Conversely, there is a later episcopal list (difficult and uncertain dating but later than our texts)34 which qualifies Tamasos as the prototronos (first throne) city but places it in a secondary position after Salamis.35 This list could reflect the idea that historically, Tamasos was the first Church of Cyprus (with the prototronos qualification) but is now subordinated to Salamis. One last piece of corroborating evidence to which we should return is the relic of Barnabas. It seems that the invention of the relics of Barnabas at Salamis in 488 made definitive the supremacy of Salamis among the Churches of Cyprus. As I have demonstrated elsewhere, textual and archaeological testimonies illustrate that Salamis was transformed into a popular pilgrimage site.36 After the invention, extra-Cypriot witnesses assimilate the Church of Cyprus with the Church of Salamis.37 Finally, the Laudatio Barnabae, a later narrative written in Salamis, already mentioned above, also makes a narrative assimilation between the Church of Salamis and the Church of Cyprus without arguing much against other Cypriot churches.38 This may help explain some changes in the later Greek form of the Acts of Heracleides in which Heracleides is more subordinate to Barnabas than in the Armenian recension. Contrary to the Armenian version, Heracleides is, indeed, converted by Barnabas.39 In his letter to Heracleides, in the Greek text, Barnabas considers him a disciple and gives him his orders, which Heracleides follows.40 Finally, before Heracleides dies, an episode absent from the Armenian recension, he asks to be burnt in the crypt where he spent time with Barnabas and mentions that he was glorified by Barnabas, which could mean that he was ordained by him.41 In summary, the Acts of Barnabas and the Acts of Heracleides are not the products of a uniform Church of Cyprus, arguing about its apostolicity against the Church of Antioch. Rather, they are products of two concurrent churches inside Cyprus, arguing one against the other through their tutelary figures: Barnabas for Salamis, and Heracleides for Tamasos.

32 Honigmann, ‘Hiéroklès’, p. 2. 33 Hierokles, Synecdemus, ed. by Parthey, 706, 4–5, p. 39. 34 Darrouzès, ‘Notitia 10’, pp. 116–17. 35 Notitia 10, ed. by Darrouzès, § 760, p. 338. 36 Rouquette, ‘Étude comparée’, pp. 367–404. 37 Rouquette, ‘Étude comparée’, pp. 579–97. 38 Rouquette, ‘Étude comparée’, pp. 197–269, especially p. 253. 39 Acts of Heracleides (Greek), ed. by Halkin, § 8, pp. 150–51. 40 Acts of Heracleides (Greek), ed. by Halkin, § 7, pp. 147–49. 41 Acts of Heracleides (Greek), ed. by Halkin, § 20, pp. 168–69.

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Bibliography Primary Sources Acta Barnabae, in Maximilien Bonnet, Acta Apostolorum Apocrypha, 2.2 (Leipzig: Hermann Mendelssohn, 1903), pp. 292–302 Acts of Barnabas, trans. by Glenn E. Snyder, in New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures, ed. by Tony Burke and Brent Landau, 2 vols (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016), i, 327–36 Acts of Heracleides (Armenian), in Michel Van Esbroeck, ‘Les actes arméniens de Saint Héraclide de Chypre’, Analecta Bollandiana, 103 (1985), 115–62 Acts of Heracleides (Greek), in François Halkin, ‘Les Actes apocryphes de saint Héraclide de Chypre, disciple de l’apôtre Barnabé’, Analecta Bollandiana, 82 (1964), 133–69 Alexander of Cyprus, Laudatio Barnabae, in Peter Van Deun, Hagiographica Cypria, Corpus Christianorum Series Graecorum, 26 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1993), pp. 82–122 Hierokles, Synecdemus, in Gustave Parthey, Hieroclis Synecdemus et Notitiae graecae episcopatum: accedunt Nili Doxapatrii Notitia patriarchatum et Locorum nomina immutata (Berlin: Nachrduck der Ausgabe, 1866), pp. 3–59 Notitia 10, in Jean Darrouzès, Notitiae episcopatuum Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae, Géographie ecclésiastique de l’empire byzantin, 1 (Paris: Institut français d’études byzantines, 1981), pp. 309–39 Theodorus Lector, Epitome, in Günther Hansen, Theodoros Anagnostes Kirchengeschischte, Zweite, durchgesehene Auflage, Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten Jahrhunderte. Neue Folge, 3 (Berlin: Akademie, 1995), pp. 1–159 Secondary Sources Darrouzès, Jean, ‘Notice 10’, in Notitiae episcopatuum Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae, Géographie ecclésiastique de l’empire byzantin, 1 (Paris: Institut français d’études byzantines, 1981), pp. 95–117 Delehaye, Hippolyte, Les origines du culte des martyrs, Subsidia Hagiographica, 20, 2nd edn (Bruxelles: Société des Bollandistes, 1933) Downey, Glanville, ‘The Claim of Antioch to Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction over Cyprus’, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 102.3 (1958), 224–28 Honigmann, Ernest, ‘Hiéroklès. Introduction’, in Le Synekdèmos d’Hiéroklès et l’opuscule géographique de Georges de Chypre, ed. by Ernest Honigmann, Corpus Bruxellense Historiae Byzantinae Forma Imperii Byzantini, 1 (Bruxelles: Éditions de l’institut de philologie et d’histoire orientales et slaves, 1939), pp. 2–11 Kosiński, Rafal ‘Peter the Fuller, Patriarch of Antioch (471–488)’, in Byzantinoslavica. Revue internationale des Études Byzantines, 1–2 (2010), 49–73


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Norelli, Enrico ‘Actes de Barnabé’, in Écrits apocryphes chrétiens, vol. 2 (Paris: Gallimard, 2005), pp. 621–25 Rouquette, Maïeul, ‘Étude comparée sur la construction des origines apostoliques des Églises de Crète et de Chypre à travers les figures de Tite et de Barnabé’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, Université de Lausanne and Aix-Marseille University, 2017)

Nikoloz Aleksidze

Strangers in a Strange Land Alienation, Authority, and Powerlessness in Georgian Hagiography (Tenth–Eleventh Century)

The Religious Geography of Early Medieval Hagiography Hagiography and martyrdom accounts constitute the largest and most enduring genre of the medieval Georgian literary corpus. The earliest surviving autochthonous narratives are accounts of the suffering and death of Georgian male and female martyrs at the hands of the Sasanians (224–651) and, later, of the Umayyads (661–750) as a result of their religious policies in Iberia (early medieval eastern Georgia). In the Ashgate Research Companion to Byzantine Hagiography, Bernadette Martin-Hisard identifies four conventional types of Georgian hagiographic literature:1 1. The corpus associated with the conversion of Georgia and the story’s principal protagonist, St Nino. Multiple versions of her life were produced from the fifth to the thirteenth century. 2. The corpus of texts concerning the Syrian fathers. 3. The aforementioned martyrdom accounts. 4. Monastic hagiographies that emerged in the tenth century. Despite such diversity, there is one particular topic that unites these four hagiographical types. Whether martyrdom accounts, stories of evangelization, or monastic hagiographies, all directly or obliquely theologize and politicize alienation, strangeness, and moral authority in the context of geographic and political isolation. The earliest surviving Georgian text, the fifth-century Martyrdom of Queen Šušanik, narrates the story of an Armenian princess who

1 Martin-Hisard, ‘Georgian Hagiography’, pp. 291–93. Nikoloz Aleksidze  •  ([email protected]) is Professor of the History of Religion and Political Thought and Dean of Social Sciences at Free University of Tbilisi. Narrating Power and Authority in Late Antique and Medieval Hagiography across East and West, ed. by Ghazzal Dabiri, FABULAE 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2021) pp. 133-151 © FHG10.1484/M.FABULAE-EB.5.122496


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was married to and later martyred by her Georgian husband in Georgia. The story of St Nino, as known from the (presumably) seventh-century Conversion of Georgia, for example, is that of a missionary and ascetic who arrived in Georgia to convert the royal family and the entire realm while also facing problems of authority and legitimization in strange and sometimes hostile surroundings.2 The Conversion of Georgia became an important and the most frequently alluded to early medieval literary composition. In fact, the religious idea of strangeness developed by the Conversion was taken up by medieval Georgian theologians who re-evaluated the story of Nino’s evangelism within the context of their immediate political circumstances.3 In addition to Nino’s Life, the theme of alienation and strangeness also pervades the various versions and editions of the Lives of the Syrian Fathers, all written before the tenth century. These Lives narrate the arrival of Syrian monks in Georgia who founded monastic communities, lived as ascetics, became bishops, or were martyred for their faith.4 Likewise, the Martyrdom of St Evstat‘e (c. 570) recounts the story of a young Persian immigrant to Georgia who converted to Christianity and was martyred for his faith in Georgia. Similarly, the tale of St Abo of Tbilisi is one of an Arab youth who arrived in Tbilisi and through his example strengthened the faith of the Georgians.5 As all these stories focus on a saint’s migration with its religious and political meaning, they also inevitably elaborate on, as it were, the metaphysical geography of the land of Kartli, known to western authors as Iberia. For the authors of the Martyrdom of Abo, the Life of Nino, and the Lives of the ‘Syrian Fathers’, Iberia is a ‘northern realm’, the land of the shade which has received, through the effort of its first evangelists and the recent martyrs, the illuminating light from the South (i.e. from the Holy Land). Due to the influence exerted by the Conversion of Georgia in early medieval Georgian writing, the ‘North’, apart from its religious significance, also acquired political relevance as a marker of the northernmost limits of the Christian ecumene. Its location at the northernmost edge of the Christian ecumene, with Jerusalem its centre, became the raison d’être of Iberia’s body politic. Such a zeal to justify the existence of one’s body politic by geography is particularly highlighted in the Life of King Vaxtang the Wolf-Head, a narrative of an ambiguous genre (it is part history, part epic, and part hagiography), which recounts the life and

2 For the English translation of the Conversion of Georgia and the Life of Nino, see Lerner, The Wellspring. On the cult of St Nino, among a wealth of studies, see, e.g. Martin-Hisard, ‘Jalons’. 3 This aspect is particularly highlighted in the homily on the Holy Pillar by Patriarch Nikoloz Gulaberisdze (1150–1178). Gulaberisdze, საკითხავი [‘Homilies’], ed. by Qubaneishvili, i, 232–33. 4 For an overview of the Syrian Fathers tradition, see Martin-Hisard, ‘Les Treize Saints Pères’, 1 and 2. 5 The Georgian editions of all these texts can be found in ძველი ქართული აგიოგრაფიული ლიტერატურის ძეგლები 1 (V–X სს) [Old Georgian Hagiographic Literature (5th-10th cc)], ed. by Abuladze, 1.

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deeds of Georgia’s holy king Vaxtang in the fifth century.6 Here, Vaxtang is presented as the ruler of the North, whose political and apocalyptic purpose is to guard the northern limits of the Christian ecumene and whose political and religious affairs are guided by St Nino, Georgia’s original enlightener. This calibration of Iberia’s location in the North was ubiquitous in early medieval hagiographic corpus. Moreover, the general reflection on Georgia’s geographic locus, with its ensuing religious, theological, and political connotations, affected the rhetoric of later hagiographic accounts.7 Indeed, the aforementioned texts were held in such high esteem that the political and religious meanings of strangeness, alienation, and remoteness of Georgia in the Christian ecumene, inevitably, became theological and political concepts with which later tenth- and eleventh-century hagiographic narratives, namely, the Life of Grigol, Life of Ilarion, Life of John and Euthymios, and the Life of George Hagiorites engaged. This paper, therefore, will investigate how these medieval hagiographic narratives reused, reimagined, and diametrically transformed these late antique concepts and channelled them through a new discourse of power and identity.

From North to North-West The tenth century was marked by a series of dramatic and religious political upheavals which brought about a radical shift in various social and cultural systems, including, most pertinently, Georgian liturgical literature, historical writing, and hagiography. Old Georgian monasteries and monastic colonies in and around the Holy Land were fading away, and new ones were founded in the heart of Byzantium.8 Meanwhile, in the early eleventh century, the Bagratids, who ruled in Georgia until the end of the eighteenth century, rose to power and unified Georgian and non-Georgian domains in Caucasia under their crown, a move which was accompanied by an unmatched flourishing of cultural and economic life. The Bagratids, although supposedly of Iranian origin, adopted Byzantine titles, insignia, rhetoric, and generally byzantinized their court culture. By the eleventh century, when Bagrat III (975–1014) managed to unite most of Georgia, the Bagratids were already a staggeringly successful dynasty. Mimicking the ideological tendency in the Georgian Kingdom, the Georgian Church too abandoned the old Jerusalemite rite and systematically and methodically switched to the Constantinopolitan liturgical practices by also rewriting the entire liturgical corpus. While court historians

6 For a study, see Martin-Hisard, ‘Le roi géorgien Vaxt‘ang Gorgasal’. 7 On the political and theological significance of the ‘North’ in medieval Georgian writing, see Aleksidze, ‘A Nation’. 8 This is only partially true, as the Georgian Monastery of the Holy Cross was founded in Jerusalem in the early eleventh century; nevertheless, this occurred already when the centre of Georgian literary output was transferred to Athos.


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rewrote history in hopes to break with Georgia’s Iranian past, old religious books too were massively abandoned, and new ones were produced with an aim to achieve maximum closeness to Greek prototypes.9 Ironically, the ‘byzantinization’ of Georgian court and literature, a consequence of the ever-increasing cultural ties with Constantinople, resulted in a growing political and religious antagonism between Georgians and the Byzantines, which were dramatically augmented by Bagratid chroniclers.10 While Georgian monasteries were founded in and thrived across Byzantium, with Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos as their flagship, Georgia’s rulers were occasionally waging wars against Constantinople.11 Greek monks, who had lived near new Georgian foundations and who had never encountered Georgians before, were suspicious of their language, mores, and their orthodoxy in general while often challenging the very right of the Georgian Church to be independent. This tension, consequently, resulted in a certain cognitive dissonance reflected in historical and hagiographic writing vis-à-vis the Byzantines where, on the one hand, Constantinople is presented as the new source of Georgia’s enlightenment, and, on the other, the Byzantines are painted as natural foes of Georgians. By the tenth century, Georgian hagiography increasingly presents the Byzantines as their identity-making other. This reorientation of the cultural orbit also affected the Georgian’s geo-political self-identification. If, earlier, the political theology, as elaborated in earlier hagiographies, was concentrated on self-identification as that of ‘North’, in the writing of the tenth and eleventh centuries, it was predominantly in the ‘East’ that Georgian authors placed themselves by calling themselves ‘easterners’ and taking Constantinople as the new cultural axis rather than Jerusalem.12 It is precisely this reorientation — the quest for a new political, religious, and geographic matrix with new anxieties for a raison d’être — that Georgian hagiography of the tenth to the twelfth centuries reflects. The systematic reorientation of Georgia’s religious life from the Holy Land to Constantinople brought about a new discourse regarding authority, power, alienation, and prestige in Georgian hagiography which, as a genre, also experienced dramatic changes in its scope and rhetoric. From the ninth century until the Mongol invasion in the thirteenth century, martyrdom

9 This rewriting and ‘byzantinization’ of medieval Georgian historical corpus are discussed in detail in Rapp, The Sasanian World, p. 365. 10 The most vehement anti-Byzantine rhetoric can be read in the eleventh-century Life and Tale of the Bagrationis by Sumbat Davit‘isże. See The Georgian Chronicles, trans. and ed. by Metreveli and Jones, pp. 211–26. For a study on Sumbat’s rhetoric of authority, see Rapp, ‘Sumbat Davitisdze’, pp. 570–76. 11 See, for example, Giorgi II’s anti-Byzantine warfare in Rayfield, The Edge of Empires, pp. 73–85. 12 ‘The easterner’ as a self-reference is found in eleventh-century documents. For example, in his Typikon of the Petriconi Monastery in Bulgaria, Gregory Pakourianos (d. 1086) calls his father ‘Easterner and Georgian’. For a discussion, see Aleksidze, The Narrative of the Caucasian Schism, p. 162.

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accounts gave way to extensive monastic hagiographies, all of which were thoroughly political in nature. The hagiography that emerged specifically in the tenth century exhibit an unusual dynamism unknown to earlier narratives. The four texts under discussion in this paper are diverse in their scope and describe the state of affairs in different geographic locations, from Georgia proper to Athos and Italy. Yet they are all concerned with a few topics that they share in common but that one does not encounter in earlier productions; they, thus, reflect the spirit of the age. First, all were created specifically for the purpose of deliberating on the meaning, advantages, and privileges of being Georgian in a non-Georgian environment. They are dedicated to sustaining moral authority in the circumstances of political inferiority, which eventually resulted in the quest for the limits and meaning of Georgian Orthodoxy as something, on the one hand, organically part of and, on the other, qualitatively distinct from the Byzantine world. This was manifested predominantly in the creation of a new narrative, namely, uninterrupted Orthodoxy, something that, from their point of view, the Byzantines lacked. This quest for moral authority in circumstances of political insecurity eventually resulted in claims to Georgia’s general cultural superiority. Essentially, what emerges from analyses of these texts is that a new political-theological symbolism of power and authority was formulated under the Bagratids and their loyal ecclesiastic authors.

The Stranger-King: The Life of Grigol of Xanc‘t‘a The earliest surviving monastic Life is that of Archimandrite Grigol of Xancta. It was written by Giorgi Merč‘ule in 951 nearly a century after the death of the story’s principal protagonist, Grigol, the founder of the monastic communities in Klarjet‘i, the south-western region of the Kingdom of Georgia which is now part of north-eastern Turkey. The Life of Grigol is the earliest explicitly political Life which presents a carefully crafted and balanced relationship between the king and the abbot, with a purpose to justify a new political state of affairs. It is also the earliest text that acknowledges the right of the Bagratids to Kartli’s kingship and in which Ašot is hailed by Grigol as a ‘faithful king for whose sake his and his children’s rule has been established among the Georgians until the end of times’.13 Written in the era when the monasteries founded by Grigol, his companions, and students reached the apogee of their political and cultural influence, the Life is at its core a story

13 Giorgi Merč‘ule, შრომაჲ და მოღუაწებაჲ ღირსად ცხორებისაჲ წმიდისა და ნეტარისა მამისა ჩუენისა გრიგოლისი არქიმანდრიტისაჲ, ხანცთისა და შატბერდისა აღმაშენებელისაჲ [‘The Work and Labour of the Worthy Life of Our Holy and Blessed Father Grigol the Archimandrite, the Builder of Xanc‘t‘a and Šatberdi’], ed. by Abuladze.



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of the beginnings, of how the inhospitable deserts and alien lands became the centre of Georgia’s political and religious body. In its ruminations on spiritual and earthly powers, the Life of Grigol reveals a triple scope. First, the Life describes the events that accompanied the transfer of the Bagratid powers from central Caucasus (Iberia) to a new area in north-eastern Anatolia. Kingship had been abolished in Kartli since the mid-sixth century. Thereafter, a dynasty of dukes, the Erismt‘avaris, ruled the land. It was in the next couple of centuries that the Bagratids became particularly prominent and became de-facto rulers of Kartli. In the eighth century, however, Tbilisi, the capital of Kartli, and its surroundings were occupied by the Muslims, and it became a caliphal centre for the next three centuries. The last of the Erismt‘avaris of Kartli, Ašot, was forced to flee his historic domains. He transferred all his family, court, and authority to north-eastern Anatolia and made the fortress, Artanuji, his new military capital. Ašot’s authority in the region was acknowledged by the Byzantine emperor, and, in 813, he was granted the title of Kouropalates.14 Simultaneously, Ašot became the first member of the Bagratid House to be hailed as the King of the Georgians.15 In essence, then, the Life traces the political and metaphysical transfer of Kartli/ Iberia from its original location to Tao-Klarjet‘i and the emergence of a new Georgian Kingdom. Second, as a chronicle of the biography of the land’s greatest spiritual authority, Grigol, it is also the story of the foundation of the great monasteries of the area as it attempts to legitimize the area as part, and indeed the new centre, of the Georgian body politic. Its third purpose is to legitimize the Bagratids as the charismatic and divinely sanctioned rulers of Georgia. Therefore, the overarching aim of the narrative is to legitimize Georgian political, cultural, and religious authority over the region, a task that Merč‘ule masterfully accomplishes. Indeed, in the tale, Grigol and Ašot are both strangers in a strange land. However, Grigol has legitimized already his spiritual authority in the area by earlier becoming ‘the maker of cities in the deserts’.16 It is now Grigol’s mission to metaphysically Georgianize the land and to ‘naturalize’ Ašot as the legitimate king of the area. The narrative, therefore, effectively consists of several stages of legitimization: the legitimization of Grigol’s superior authority in the area, the legitimization of the area as Georgia, legitimization of Ašot as the ruler of the area, and the legitimization of the Bagratid as the rightful kings of the Georgians. In due course, the narrative re-defines the meaning and limits of Kartli and proposes a novel definition of what constitutes it. The most often quoted paragraph of the Life, evoked multiple times since the discovery of

14 Kouropalates was a Byzantine court title first attested in the fifth century. The title was also granted to important foreign, mostly Caucasian, rulers. Sixteen Georgian rulers held the title from the sixth to the eleventh centuries. 15 For a historical overview of the period, see Rayfield, The Edge of Empires, pp. 63–66. 16 Giorgi Merč‘ule, ‘The Work and Labour’, p. 249.

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the single manuscript of the Life in the early twentieth century, articulates the author’s zeal to mark the limits of this new Kartli: არამედ დიდი ეფრემ მრავლისა კეთილისა მომატყუებელ ექმნა ქუეყანასა ჩუენსა, რამეთუ პირველად აღმოსავალისა კათალიკოსთა მიჰრონი იერუსალჱმით მოჰყვანდა. ხოლო ეფრემ ქრისტჱსმიერითა ბრძანებითა მიჰრონისა კურთხევაჲ ქართლს განაწესა იერუსალჱმისა პატრიაქისა განწესებითა და წამებითა სიხარულით. არამედ ქართლად ფრიადი ქუეყანაჲ აღირაცხების, რომელსა-ცა შინა ქართულითა ენითა ჟამი შეიწირვის და ლოცვაჲ ყოველი აღესრულების, ხოლო კჳრიელეჲსონი ბერძულად ითქუმის, რომელ არს ქართულად. ‘უფალო, წყალობა ყავ’.17 Great Ephrem brought the greatest good to our country, for earlier the katholikoi of the East brought the myrrh from Jerusalem. But Ephrem, through Christ’s order, instituted the preparation of the myrrh in Kartli, through the order and joyful resolution of the Patriarch of Jerusalem. But, Kartli is called the entire land where liturgy is celebrated and all prayers are offered in the Georgian language, whereas Kyrie Eleison is said in Greek, which, in Georgian, stands for ‘God have mercy’.18 This passage simultaneously articulates several crucial points: through Grigol’s and Katholikos Ephrem’s efforts, the Georgians were endowed with the right to independently produce myrrh, an event which, from the author’s perspective, is a symbolic attestation to the independence and authority of the Georgian Church. Merč‘ule also provides a new definition of what constitutes Georgia in these novel ethnic and geographic circumstances. His Georgia transcends geographic and ethnic limits and is entirely marked by the language of the liturgy, an idea to which the founders of Georgian monastic colonies further west would readily subscribe. Merč‘ule’s Georgia, therefore, is where liturgy is celebrated in Georgian, a quasi-imperialistic claim to be sure. Finally, Merč‘ule also defines the place and role of the Greek language which, from his perspective, occupies merely a mnemonic and traditional role symbolized in the pronouncement of Kyrie Eleison in Greek. This last statement is, I believe, the earliest, albeit very faint, indication that, henceforward, the allegiance of the Georgian Church to the Pentarchy would remain symbolic and mnemonic only, an idea eagerly taken up by later authors. Ašot, the new king, is technically an alien, as his original domains were located deep in the Caucasus. Therefore, and as noted above, he needed to be

17 Giorgi Merč‘ule, ‘The Work and Labour’, p. 290. 18 This paragraph remains as one of the most popular passages in the entire medieval Georgian corpus, as it supposedly reflects a very modern understanding of what constitutes Georgian unity. For a discussion on this ‘imagined continuity’ of Georgian unity, see Aleksidze, The Narrative of the Caucasian Schism, pp. 183–88.

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‘naturalized’. According to Marshall Sahlins, who has written on the concept of the naturalization of ‘alien-kings’, the foreign king’s right to rule over the new land is legitimized through his relationship with the autochthonous people, what Clifford Geertz calls ‘a model of and for’ cultural order and historical action.19 Through a rite of initiation, the alien king must become endowed with the right to rule in this new land: ‘The ritual consists of a transfer of sovereignty in the course of which the stranger-prince is appropriated by the native owners of the land, and vice versa’.20 After ritual rebirth, ‘the headman then undertakes the new chief ’s maturation, as it were, by instructing him in the morality of the native society, while forcefully admonishing him to leave off the antisocial behaviour of his previous existence’.21 Grigol’s ritual admonishment and rebuke of the newly-arrived Ašot over his transgressive morality constitutes the dramatic centre of the relationship between the two men: ხოლო ჟამთა ამის წმიდისათა ხელმწიფემან აშოტ კურაპალატმან დაიპყრნა მრავალნი ქვეყანანი და აღაშენა ციხე არტანუჯისაჲ საცხორებელად დედუფლისა, მეუღლისა თვისისა. და მას შინა კეთილად ცხოვნდებოდა მრავალთა წელიწადთა. ხოლო აცთუნა მტერმან ხელმწიფე იგი და მოიყვანა მან დედაკაცი სიძვისაჲ ციხესა მას შინა, რომლისა თანა იმრუშებდა, რამეთუ ეშმაკი ტრფიალებისაჲ ფრიად აზრზენდა. რომელსა პირველ არა აქვნდა ეგევითარი ჩვეულებაჲ, არამედ ძლეულ იქმნა ბოროტითა მით ცოდვითა. და ვითარცა ესმა ნეტარსა გრიგოლს საქმე იგი სულისა განმხრწნელი, შეწუხნა ფრიად. და აუწყა წმიდასა გრიგოლს დიდსა მას მოხუცებულსა, რომელი მკჳდრ იყო ეკლესიათა, რამეთუ იყო იგი სასწაულთა მოქმედ და დიდად პატივ-ცემულ ღმრთისა და კაცთაგან. და განზრახვითა მისითა ამხილა პირის-პირ ჴელმწიფესა მას. ხოლო მან აღუთქუა ცოდვისა მის განტევებაჲ და დედაკაცისა მის წარგზავნაჲ, ვითარცა მოეყვანა იგი. და ვერ დაამტკიცა თჳსი ბრძანებაჲ, რამეთუ დაემონა გულის-თქუმასა.22 In the days of the holy one [Grigol], Ašot Kouropalates conquered many lands and built the city of Artanuj for his queen and wife. And there he lived for many years. But the adversary tempted the king, and he brought a harlot to his fortress, with whom he committed

19 Graeber and Sahlins, On Kings, p. 175. 20 Graeber and Sahlins, On Kings, p. 175. 21 Graeber and Sahlins, On Kings, pp. 170–71. Here, Sahlins quotes Geertz’s ethnographic record: ‘You are a mean a selfish fool, one who is bad-tempered […] But today you are born as a new chief […] If you were mean, and used to eat your cassava much alone, or your meat alone, today you are in the chieftainship. You must give up your selfish ways, you must welcome everyone, you are the chief! You must stop being adulterous and quarrelsome’. 22 Giorgi Merč‘ule, ‘The Work and Labour’, p. 296.

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adultery, for the devil of passion perturbed him. For this was not his original habit, but rather he was defeated by the evil sin. This was made known to elderly blessed Grigol, for he was a miracle-maker and was greatly respected by God and by men. And he [the king] promised to abandon his sinful ways and to send the woman away, just as he had brought her. However, he could not live up to his promise for he was enslaved to his passions. The narrative further describes the standoff between the king and Grigol and his followers over the woman and the monastic community’s eventual victory, albeit achieved through deception. The episode concludes with the king’s remorse after being rebuked by mother P‘ebronia, Grigol’s closest associate who had virtually kidnapped the woman from the king’s castle: ესე რაჲ ესმა კურაპალატსა, სირცხჳლეულ იქმნა მართლმხილებისა მისგან კდემული და მყოვარ ჟამ დადუმნა, ვითარცა ძლეული, რამეთუ ჴორციელად ძლიერსა ჴელმწიფესა სულითა ძლიერთა კაცთა სძლეს, შეჭურვილთა მათ საღმრთოჲთა შურითა, ხოლო შეურვებულმან კურაპალატმან გულისა შეჭირვებისაგან თქუა: ‘ნეტარ მას კაცსა, ვინ არღარა ცოცხალ არს-ო’. და მსწრაფლ ხოლო აღდგა და წარვიდოდა.23 When the Kouropalates heard this, he was deeply ashamed by her pious rebuke and was immediately silenced, as if defeated. For a powerful earthly monarch was overpowered by men strong in the spirit, armoured with the divine zeal. And perturbed Kouropalates said, distressed, ‘blessed are those who are not alive’. He immediately rose and left. As Sahlins and Geertz, respectively, have observed, the new Georgian king’s conversion to a new ethos is a certain rite of passage, whereby he becomes a legitimate monarch. It is in this context that the Life of Grigol inaugurates the sturdiest theological and political concept of medieval Georgian royal ‘political theology’ — the dynasty’s descent from biblical King David, an idea that, later, the most successful members of the Bagratid House strongly promoted. Indeed, the story of Ašot’s lust openly mimics Prophet Nathan’s rebuke of King David over his lust for Bathsheba. It is impossible to determine whether it is Grigol’s Life that invents the Bagratid claim to Davidic descent of the Bagratid House, but it certainly is the earliest surviving evidence.24

23 Giorgi Merč‘ule, ‘The Work and Labour’, p. 297. 24 The Davidic claims of the Bagratids is particularly fully presented in Sumbat Davit‘isże’s eleventh-century Chronicle. See Rapp, ‘Sumbat Davitisdze’, pp. 570–76. For an art-historical study of the same question, see Eastmond, Royal Imagery, pp. 223–25.



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Finally, in a dramatic encounter between Ašot and Grigol, the two utter what they consider to be the essence of the relationship between the rulers and the religious authorities. Grigol blesses the king in the following words: დავით წინაჲსწარმეტყველისა და უფლისა მიერ ცხებულისა შვილად წოდებულო ხელმწიფეო! მეფობაჲ და სათნოებანიცა მისნი დაგიმკვიდრენ ქრისტემან ღმერთმან, რომლისათვისცა ამას მოგახსენებ: არა მოაკლდეს მთავრობაჲ შვილთა შენთა და ნათესავთა მათთა ქვეყანათა ამათ უკუნისამდე ჟამთა, არამედ იყვნენ იგინი მტკიცედ უფროჲს კლდეთა მყართა და მთათა საუკუნეთა და დიდებულ იყვნენ უკუნისამდე.25 O King, the son of the one anointed by Prophet David and the Lord! Christ God gave you his mandate and his virtues, and because of this I tell you: May the authority to rule remain with your children and their relatives on these lands until the end of times, and may they be as firm as rocks and everlasting mountains and glorified for ever and ever.26 To sum up, Grigol’s Life is the earliest openly political hagiography which engages with current identity discourse and the political and religious meaning of Georgianness. It reimagines alienation and strangeness as symbols of power and authority and, thus, lays ground for the new political theology of the Bagratid House. This theme was readily adopted by subsequent hagiographic accounts and most importantly by the Life of Ilarion the Georgian to which we will turn next.

Familiar Strangers: The Life of Ilarion the Georgian The Athonite Life of the ninth-century ascetic, Ilarion the Georgian, was composed in the tenth century and has survived in a single eleventh-century manuscript. The Life of Ilarion is a unique phenomenon in Georgian hagiography. If previous accounts, whether of conversion, martyrdom, or monastic life, were centred on the saints’ arrival in Iberia, Ilarion’s Life is entirely built on Ilarion’s zeal to leave his homeland and to find a home in an alien one. In this, the Life essentially reflects the historical state of affairs of contemporaneous Iberia. The Life of Ilarion was most likely written on Mt. Athos, where the Georgian Monastery (Iveron) had been earlier founded by a group of colonists, just as several other monasteries across Byzantium and the Near East were. The original founders further recruited young Georgian men and provided them with the most current Byzantine education.27 Ilarion’s Life is, in this sense, pioneering: it tells the story of the first such great ‘expat’, if one may use a modern term, 25 Giorgi Merč‘ule, ‘The Work and Labour’, pp. 261–63. 26 On this episode, see also Rapp, Studies in Medieval Georgian Historiography, pp. 233–34. 27 On this, see Martin-Hisard, ‘Du T‘ao-K‘lardzheti à l’Athos’.

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who prefigured the religious and intellectual exodus from Georgia. Ilarion is conceptualized in his Life as a trailblazer who reaches further west (specifically Rome) than any other Georgian has ever travelled. Ilarion also inaugurates a new addition to his name, ‘the Georgian’, which was later used with reference to Georgian spiritual authorities who had worked outside Georgia and, most notably, to Peter the Iberian, the fifth-century ascetic, who was re-discovered as an ‘ethnic’ Georgian saint in thirteenth-century Georgia. Ilarion’s story is also that of the first encounter between two supposedly co-religionists but eventually antagonistic ethnic and linguistic groups, namely Georgians and Greeks, and seeks to define the power relationship between the two. Ilarion’s first arrival at Olympus, where he eventually founded a monastery, was immediately accompanied by a scandal. When the Georgian brethren stayed overnight, the local abbot did not appreciate their presence and tried to expel them, as he was suspicious of their strange language and alien looks. Before dawn, the abbot, however, saw a vision wherein the Mother of God appeared to and scolded him: ჵ, უბადრუკო, რაჲსა ინებე განძებაჲ უცხოთაჲ მათ, რომელნი მოსრულ არიან სიყუარულისათჳს ძისა და ღმრთისა ჩემისა და დაუტეობია ქუეყანაჲ მათი, და არა დაიმარხე მცნებაჲ იგი უცხოთა და გლახაკთა შეწყნარებისათჳს, ვითარ-იგი ეტყჳს მდიდარსა მას უფალი ჩემი და ძჱ ჩემი. ანუ არა უწყი-ა, ვითარმედ მრავალნი დამკჳდრებად არიან მთასა ამას მათისა ენისა მეტყუელნი და ცხოვნებად არიან ღმრთისა მიერ? და რომელნი მათ არა შეიწყნარებენ, მტერ ჩემდა არიან, რამეთუ ჩემდა მონიჭებულ არს ძისა მიერ ჩემისა ნათესავი იგი შეურყეველად მართლ-მადიდებლობისათჳს მათისა, ვინაჲთგან ჰრწმენა სახელი ძისა ჩემისაჲ და ნათელ-იღეს.28 O the wretched one, why did you plan to expel the strangers who have arrived here for the love of my Son and God and had abandoned their country, and you have not followed the law of the acceptance of foreigners and of the poor. Is it not known to you that there are many who have found their home here on this mountain who speak their own tongues and are saved by God? And whoever does not accept them are my enemies, for that nation was given to me by my Son for their steadfast Orthodoxy, for they believed in the name of my Son and were baptized. This is the earliest explicit association of the Virgin Mary with Georgia. Georgia as the ‘lot of the Mother of God’ was a political and theological concept that soon thereafter became the most enduring idea in medieval 28 ცხოვრებაჲ და მოქალაქეობაჲ წმიდისა და ნეტარისა მამისა ჩუენისა ილარიონ ქართველისაჲ [‘The Life and Work of Our Holy and Blessed Father Ilarion the Georgian’], ed. by Abuladze, p. 20.



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and modern Georgian political imagination, though it was particularly promoted and developed during the reign of Queen Tamar in the late twelfth century.29 It is noteworthy that the idea, referred to multiple times in later Bagratid rhetoric, found its origin in monastic literature and specifically in the Byzantine context as a marker of the Georgians’ right to a presence in the heart of Constantinopolitan Orthodoxy. It is also most likely that the idea of Georgia being allotted to the Virgin originated in and was elaborated by the Georgian brethren on Mt. Athos in order to elevate their prestige and was only later adopted by authors in Georgia.30 It is possible to observe different points of view by making brief comparisons between the Athonite and a later (presumably twelfth-century), so-called metraphrastic, version of the Life of Ilarion, which was presumably created independently from the Athonite version.31 While Georgian metaphraseis were created in accord with the Byzantine metaphrastic movement, unlike the Byzantine tradition, the Georgian metaphraseis had another aim — to incorporate the earlier hagiographic accounts into contemporary ethno-religious discourse and to create stronger bonds between a historic saint and their ethnic and communal identity. Like other hagiographies of the same period, the metaphrastic Life of Ilarion is supplemented with a lengthy introduction on the history of Georgia’s orthodoxy. This introduction repeatedly stresses the uninterrupted continuity of Nicene and Chalcedonian Orthodoxy in Georgia and the fact that Iberia never turned away from the Orthodox path, not even for a moment, since its conversion under Constantine. One of the most blatant examples of the rewriting of histories for the purpose of sustaining this imagined continuity is the Georgian version of the Life of Peter the Iberian, which was originally composed by John Rufus in the fifth century in Syriac.32 It is unknown, however likely it is, whether the Georgian Life is a rewriting of an earlier, perhaps late antique, Georgian original. Nevertheless, it certainly serves the purpose of entirely re-imagining the life and work of this prominent fifth-century Palestinian Georgian monk. While in the original narrative, Peter is presented and hailed as a champion of anti-Chalcedonian activism, in the Georgian version, Peter is an ardent Chalcedonian and even attends the Council of Chalcedon (451). The rhetorical role of Peter in this 29 The story that is expounded in the twelfth-century metaphrastic edition of the Life of St Nino recounts the apocryphal events following Christ’s ascension, when various lands were allocated to Christ’s disciples. Georgia however became the Virgin’s lot. Nevertheless, Christ halted her journey, and it was for this reason that St Nino, also a woman, was chosen to convert Georgia. 30 My monograph on this topic, which, among other aspects, elaborates on this particular claim, will appear in 2021 with a working title, Holy Bodies and Body Politic: Sanctity, Gender and Polity in Medieval Caucasia. 31 Both versions are edited and compared in Dolakidze, ილარიონ ქართველის ცხოვრების ძველი რედაქციები [Old Georgian Redactions of the Life of Ilarion the Georgian]. For a French study, see Martin-Hisard, ‘La peregrination’, pp. 101–38. 32 For discussion and original work, see Horn, Asceticism and Christological Controversy.

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narrative is to assert the continuous and essentialist association between Chalcedonian Orthodoxy and Georgianness, a concept that, on the one hand, was challenged by the Byzantines and, on the other, was undermined by the supposed non-Chalcedonian period of the Georgian Church history. Thus, the Life of Peter is both ardently Chalcedonian and thoroughly advocates Georgianness since care is taken to systematically refer to Peter’s Georgian origin. In the introductory chapter, the author emphatically stresses: და რამეთუ ვინაჲთგან ექადაგა ქადაგებაჲ იგი წმიდისა ქრისტეს სახარებისაჲ წმიდისა და დიდებულისა ქრისტეს მოციქულისა ანდრიას მიერ ქუეყანასა მას ქართლისასა […] და უკუანაჲსკნელ მიივლინა წმიდაჲ დედაჲ ნინო კერძოსა ერთსა ქუეყანისა მისვე ქართლისასა ქრისტეს ღმრთისა მიერ, და ისწავეს ღმრთის-მსახურებაჲ, და ჰრწმენა წმიდაჲ სამებაჲ და ნათელ-იღეს სახელსა ზედა წმიდიდა სამებისასა ქადაგებითა მით წმიდათა მოციქულთაჲთა, მიერითგან არღარა ოდეს მიდრეკილ არს ქუეყანაჲ იგი ქართლისაჲ წმიდისა და მართლისა სარწმუნოებისაგან, არცა მივდრკეთ უკუნისამდე მადლითა-ვე წმიდისა სამებისაჲთა და მეოხებითა ყოლად წმიდისა დედოფლისა ღმრთისმშობ[ე]ლისაჲთა და სასოჲსა მის მფარველისა ჩუენისაჲთა.33 For the teaching of the Holy Gospel of Christ was taught by the holy and great apostle of Christ, Andrew, on this land of Kartli, […] Finally, it was the holy mother Nino who was sent by Christ God to a certain place of the same land of Kartli. And they learned to worship and to have faith in the Trinity, and they were baptised in the name of the Holy Trinity through the teaching of those holy apostles, since then the land of Kartli has never averted from the true faith, and we too shall never avert by the grace of the Holy Trinity and the intercession of the all-holy Queen, the Mother of God, our hope and protectress. It is this assertion that ‘never have the Georgians averted from the true faith’ that constitutes the core of the narrative, which also became the cornerstone of anti-Byzantine rhetoric in medieval Georgian writing: while Georgians received the light from Constantinople, nevertheless, unlike Constantinople, they had never averted from the Orthodox path.34 The same idea is the quintessence of the Life of Ilarion and other monastic vitae of the same period.

33 ცხორებაჲ და მოქალაქობაჲ წმიდისა და ნეტარისა მამისა ჩუენისა პეტრე ქართველისაჲ [‘The Life and Work of Our Holy and Blessed Father Peter the Georgian’], ed. by Abuladze. 34 The guidelines on how to polemicize with the Byzantines and with their allegations against the Georgians were summarized and provided somewhat later by Ephrem the Lesser in his compact account of Georgia’s ecclesiastic history, based entirely on Greek and Latin sources.



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While both the Athonite and the metaphrastic versions of the Life of Ilarion are created in the context of anti-Byzantine rhetoric among the Georgian monastic elites, particularly those who lived outside of Georgia and in the Byzantine monastic milieu, the difference between the two versions of the Life manifests in the same speech by the Virgin Mary. Here is how the metaphrastic version reads: რაჲსათჳს, საწყალობელო, დიდი იგი მოღუაწე ილარიონ და მისთანანი იგი უპატიოდ განასხენ, ანუ ვითარ დაივიწყე ესრეთ ურცხჳნოებით მცნე\ბაჲ იგი ძისა და უფლისა ჩემისაჲ, ვითარ ჰნატრის უცხოთ-მოყუა\რესა და ვაებასა მისცემს უწყალოთა და გულ-ფიცხელთა, და ვითარმედ თავადისა მის აღიწევის ამათ ზედა ქმნილი იგი, ამას მარადის ღაღადებს, გარნა რაჲსა მიჰჴდი ამათ წყლტუდ მეტყუელებასა და ჰგონებ, ვითარმედ ელენთა ოდენ ენაჲ მარტოდ შეწყნარებულ არს? ვითარ არა უწყი, ვითარმედ ყოველთაგან ნათესავთა, რომელიცა არს მოშიში უფლისაჲ და მოქმედი მცნებათა მისთაჲ, სათნო მისა არ იგი? არა ხედავა რაოდენნი ნათესავისაგან მათისა სათნო ეყვნეს ღმერთსა? ვითარ საწყალობელად უცხო ჰყავ თავი შენი ლოცვისაგან მეგობრისა ჩემისა და კურთხევისა მისისა? რამეთუ, რომელი ამათ არა შეიწყნარებს, იგი მტერი არს ჩემი.35 Why, you wretched, did you cast away the great labourer Ilarion and his companions? Why did you forget in your shamelessness the commandment of my Son and Lord, for he blesses the lovers of the foreigners and gives pain to the merciless and the evil […] and why did you give yourself to this foolish speech and believe that only the tongue of the Greeks is accepted? How come you do not know that all races who fear God and follow his commandments are agreeable to God? How come you alienated yourself from the prayer of my friend and from his blessing? For whoever does not accept them is my enemy! While the two versions of the Virgin’s speech are very similar in their scope and rhetoric, they also illustrate two evolving discourses. The Athonite version stresses the story of the Lot of the Mother of God and how Iberia was chosen by the Virgin. The metaphrastic version was also written and disseminated in the monasteries outside Georgia. However, it is seemingly unaware of this particular motif that had sprung up on Mt. Athos. The Life of Ilarion is also pioneering in its reconceptualization of Iberia’s geo-political or rather geo-theological role. While late antique and early

Ephrem Mc‘ire, უწყებაჲ მიზეზთა ქართველთა მოქცევისასა, თუ რომელ წიგნთა შინა მოიჴსენების [‘The History of the Reasons of Georgia’s Conversion and Which

Books Tell the Story’], ed. by Bregadze. 35 ცხოვრებაჲ და მოქალაქეობაჲ წმიდისა მამისა ჩუენისა ილარიონ ახლისაჲ [‘The Life and Work of Our Holy Father, Ilarion the New One’], ed. by Abuladze.

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medieval hagiographies theologized on Iberia’s location in the North and on ensuing political and religious connotations, for the author of the Life of Ilarion, it is the East-West trajectory that matters. The politicizing of the cult of the Mother of God is closely associated with this self-conceptualization as the easternmost kingdom of the Christian world. Ilarion’s journey from the eastern frontiers of Iberia, the desert monasteries of Davit‘-Gareja, to the westernmost centre of Christianity, Rome, and the foundation of monastic communities along the way, is systematically accompanied with deliberations over this ‘new’ state of affairs, whereby the light emerges from the east. The association of Iberia as the land in the East and of the Virgin Mary becomes particularly prominent in hymnography and homilies of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Patriarch Nikoloz Gulaberisże recounts, in his homily, the conversion of Georgia as the reason why Iberia had become the lot of the Virgin Mary in whose stead eventually it was St Nino who arrived in Georgia: მას ჟამსა უკუე ყოვლადსანატრელი იგი და უფროჲსადკურთხეული დედაჲ ღმრთისაჲცა სურვიელ იყო და მეცადინეობდა წარსლვად ქადაგებად ძისა მისისა ღმრთეებისა და გულისთქუმით წადიერ იყო აღმოსავალით კერძოთა მათ წარსლვად შესაბამობისათჳს სახელისა მისისა, ვითარცა თჳთ იწოდების აღმოსავალით მზისა სიმართლისა.36 At the same time, the most gracious and the most blessed Mother of God also wished and tried to go and preach the divinity of her Son, and secretly she wished to go to the East, according to her own name, for she was called the Eastern sun of the truth. While this quote essentially tries to explain the association of the Virgin with Georgia, it also legitimizes Georgia’s contemporary claims for spiritual and political superiority in the region. A century earlier, King Davit‘ IV (d. 1125) had founded the Gelat‘i Monastic school which was hailed by his contemporary and later hymnographers as the New Athens and New Jerusalem. The Gelat‘i cathedral housed the Xaxuli Icon of the Mother of God which, for the twelfth-century Bagratids, was a material and visual attestation to the original idea conceived on Mt. Athos.37

The Athonite Project Arguably, the entirety of the rhetoric discussed above was shaped and developed by the founders of the Georgian Monastery on Mt. Athos, namely, John, Euthymios, George Hagiorites, and, later, George the Lesser. 36 Gulaberisdze, ‘Homilies’, pp. 232–33. 37 On the symbolism of the Xaxuli icon, see Papamastorakis, ‘Re-Deconstructing the Khakhuli Triptych’.


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They mostly developed the methodology, rhetoric, and argumentation for sustaining the moral and religious superiority of the Georgians in volatile circumstances centred on political inferiority. Limited time and space here preclude a detailed analysis of the following two vitae, namely, the Life of John and Euthymios by George Hagiorites and the Life of George Hagiorites by George the Lesser. However, since they do elaborate, to a great extent, on the meaning of Georgianness in an alien and inhospitable realm, a few words are warranted here.38 The Life of John and Euthymios is, essentially, the story of the foundation of the Iveron Monastery on Athos, and it is closely tied to the political state of affairs of the age. Georgia’s King Davit‘ Kouropalates (d. 1001) and his general, T‘ornik, had aided the Byzantines in quelling the rebellion of Bardas Skleros (976–979). The monastery was founded by the wealth gained as a result of this victory. Therefore, the Life legitimizes Georgian presence on Athos and acts as a reminder of the favour that the Georgians had bestowed upon the Byzantines. The remainder of the narrative is riddled with explicit and implicit anti-Greek sentiments. For instance, at the outset of the narrative, George stresses that initially General T‘ornik wished to have a Georgian-only monastery but was eventually forced to incorporate Greeks, who were more experienced in various crafts than the Georgians. To conclude the present chapter, it is perhaps worth recounting a brief interlude found in the Life of John and Euthymios, which also reveals a particular discourse that apparently the Athonite fathers tried to advance. According to the Life, at a certain point after T‘ornik’s death and as a result of deepening antagonism with the Greeks, John decided to migrate to Spain together with all his brethren, for he believed that due to the similarity in names, Georgians and Spaniards, both Iberians, must have been related. He was finally dissuaded by the emperor and offered further concessions on Athos. Although the expedition never took place, the preference that the Georgian Athonites exhibited towards the Latins as opposed to the Greeks is apparent in both narratives. The culmination of this rhetoric is, I believe, to be found in the story of the pious friendship between a Georgian and Latin visiting monk, neither of whom could understand each other’s language or speak a common tongue. Nevertheless, as George Hagiorites tries to convey, the two regularly engaged in a miraculous silent dialogue which transcended everything that Greeks and Georgians had in common.

38 A modern translation of the two Lives with introduction and commentary can be found in Grdzelidze, Georgian Monks on Mount Athos. For Georgian editions, see Giorgi Hagiorites, ცხორებაჲ ნეტარისა მამისა ჩუენისაი იოვანესი და ეფთჳმესი და უწყებაჲ ღირსისა მის მოქალაქეობისა მათისაჲ [‘The Life of Our Fathers John and Euthymios and of the History of Their Blessed Work’], ed. by Abuladze; Giorgi Mc‘ire, ცხორებაჲ და მოქალაქობაჲ წმიდისა და ნეტარისა მამისა ჩუენისა გიორგი მთაწმიდელისაჲ [‘Life and Work of Our Father George Hagiorites’], ed. by Abuladze.

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This brief episode, I believe, encapsulates the anxiety over alienation, strangeness, and powerlessness with which the figures in the vitae discussed above struggled. It also inaugurates the new modes and rhetoric of alternative power and authority that, through this sense of alienation, they have formed. As a result, the ideas of chosen-ness, of ethnic belonging, of memory, of uninterrupted continuity, and of the divinely sanctioned kingship of the Bagratid House all emerged and were elaborated in these monastic contexts, devised by strangers in strange lands, that ultimately became cornerstones of medieval and indeed modern Georgian political thinking.

Bibliography Primary Sources Ephrem Mc‘ire, უწყებაჲ მიზეზთა ქართველთა მოქცევისასა, თუ რომელ წიგნთა შინა მოიჴსენების [The History of the Reasons of Georgia’s Conversion and which Books Tell the Story], ed. by Tamar Bregadze (Tbilisi: Georgian SSR Academy of Sciences, 1959) The Georgian Chronicles of Kartlis Tskhovreba (A History of Georgia), ed. and trans. by Roin Metreveli and Stephen Jones (Tbilisi: Artanuji, 2014) Giorgi Hagiorites, ცხორებაჲ ნეტარისა მამისა ჩუენისაი იოვანესი და ეფთჳმესი და უწყებაჲ ღირსისა მის მოქალაქეობისა მათისაჲ [The Life of Our Fathers John and Euthymios and of the History of Their Blessed Work], in Ilia Abuladze, Old Georgian Hagiographic Literature (Tbilisi: Georgian SSR Academy of Sciences, 1962), pp. 38–102 Giorgi Mc‘ire, ცხორებაჲ და მოქალაქობაჲ წმიდისა და ნეტარისა მამისა ჩუენისა გიორგი მთაწმიდელისაჲ [Life and Work of Our Father George Hagiorites], in Ilia Abuladze, Monuments of Old Georgian Hagiographical Literature 2 (Tbilisi: Metsniereba, 1967) pp. 102–208 Giorgi Merč‘ule, შრომაჲ და მოღუაწებაჲ ღირსად ცხორებისაჲ წმიდისა და ნეტარისა მამისა ჩუენისა გრიგოლისი არქიმანდრიტისაჲ, ხანცთისა და შატბერდისა აღმაშენებელისაჲ [The Work and Labour of the Worthy Life of Our Holy and Blessed Father Grigol the Archimandrite, the Builder of Xanc‘t‘a and Šatberdi], in Ilia Abuladze, Old Georgian Hagiographic Literature, 1 (Tbilisi: Georgian SSR Academy of Sciences, 1962), pp. 248–318 ცხოვრებაჲ და მოქალაქეობაჲ წმიდისა და ნეტარისა მამისა ჩუენისა ილარიონ ქართველისაჲ [The Life and Work of Our Holy and Blessed Father Ilarion the Georgian], in Ilia Abuladze, Old Georgian Hagiographic Literature, 2 (Tbilisi: Metsniereba, 1967), pp. 9–38 ცხორებაჲ და მოქალაქობაჲ წმიდისა და ნეტარისა მამისა ჩუენისა პეტრე ქართველისაჲ [The Life and Work of Our Holy and Blessed Father Peter the Georgian], in Ilia Abuladze, Monuments of the Georgian Hagiographic Literature, 2 (Tbilisi: Metsniereba, 1967), pp. 215–16


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n i ko loz a l e ks i dz e

ცხოვრებაჲ და მოქალაქეობაჲ წმიდისა მამისა ჩუენისა ილარიონ ახლისაჲ [The Life and Work of Our Holy Father, Ilarion the New One], in

Ilia Abuladze, Old Georgian Hagiographic Literature 3 (Tbilisi: Metsniereba, 1971), pp. 227–28 Nikoloz Gulaberisdze, საკითხავი სვეტის-ცხოვლისანი, კუართისა საუფლოჲსა და კათოლიკე ეკლესიისაჲ [Homilies on the Holy Pillar, the Tunic of the Lord and the Catholic Church], On the Basis of the Partial Edition in Solomon Qubaneishvili, Zveli kartuli lit‘erat‘uris krest‘omatia I (Tbilisi: State University Press, 1946), pp. 232–33 ძველი ქართული აგიოგრაფიული ლიტერატურის ძეგლები 1 (V–X სს) [Old Georgian Hagiographic Literature (5th–10th cc)], ed. by Ilia Abuladze (Tbilisi: Metsniereba, 1963), 1 Secondary Sources Aleksidze, Nikoloz, ‘A Nation among Other Nations: A Political Theology of the Conversion of Georgia’, in Quis est qui ligno pugnat? Missionaries and Evangelisation in Late Antique and Medieval Europe, ed. by Emanuele Piaza (Verona: Alteritas, 2016), pp. 227–45 ———, The Narrative of the Caucasian Schism: Memory and Forgetting in Medieval Caucasia (Leuven: Peeters, 2018) Dolakidze, Manana, ილარიონ ქართველის ცხოვრების ძველი რედაქციები [Old Georgian redactions of the Life of Ilarion the Georgian] (Tbilisi: Metsniereba, 1974) Eastmond, Antony, Royal Imagery in Medieval Georgia (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998) Graeber, David, and Marshal Sahlins, On Kings (Chicago: HAU, 2017) Grdzelidze, Tamar, Georgian Monks on Mont Athos: Two Eleventh-Century Lives of Hegoumenoi of Iviron (London: Bennet and Bloom, 2009) Horn, Cornelia, Asceticism and Christological Controversy in Fifth-Century Palestine: The Career of Peter The Iberian (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006) Lerner, Constantine, The Wellspring of Georgian Historiography: The Early Medieval Historical Chronicle the Conversion of Kartli and the Life of St Nino (London: Bennet and Bloom, 2004) Martin-Hisard, Bernadette, ‘La pérégrination du moine géorgien Hilarion au ixe siècle’, Bédi Kartlisa, 39 (1981), 101–38 ———, ‘Le roi géorgien Vaxt‘ang Gorgasal dans l’histoire et dans la légende’, in Temps, mémoire, tradition au Moyen-Âge, Actes du 13e congrès de la Société des historiens médiévistes de l’enseignement supérieur public, Aix en Provence, 4–5 juin 1982, ed. by Bernard Guillemain (Aix-en-Provence: Université de Provence, 1982), pp. 205–42 ———, ‘Du T‘ao-K‘lardzheti à l’Athos: moines géorgiens et réalités sociopolitiques’, Bedi Kartlisa, 61 (1984), 34–46

s t r an g e rs i n a st range land

———, ‘Les Treize Saints Pères. Formation et évolution d’une tradition hagiographique géorgienne (viie–xiie siècles)’, Revue des Études Géorgiennes et Caucasiennes, 1 (1985), 141–68; 2 (1986), 76–111 ———, ‘Jalons pour une histoire du culte de sainte Nino (fin ive–xiiie s.)’, in From Byzantium to Iran: Armenian Studies in Honour of Nina G. Garsoïan, ed. by Jean-Pierre Mahé and Robert W. Thomson (Atlanta: Scholar’s Press, 1997), pp. 53–81 ———, ‘Georgian Hagiography’, in The Ashgate Research Companion to Byzantine Hagiography volume 1: Periods and Places, ed. by Stephanos Efthymiadis (London: Routledge, 2011), pp. 291–93 Papamastorakis, Titos, ‘Re-Deconstructing the Khakhuli Triptych’, Deltion tes xristianikes arxeologikes hetaireias, 23 (2002), 225–54 Rapp, Stephen H. Jr., ‘Sumbat Davitisdze and the Vocabulary of Political Authority in the Era of Georgian Unification’, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 120.4 (2000), 570–76 ———, Studies in Medieval Georgian Historiography: Early and Texts and Eurasian Contexts (Leuven: Peeters, 2003) ———, The Sasanian World through Georgian Eyes: Caucasia and Iranian Commonwealth in Late Antique Georgian Literature (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014) Rayfield, Donald, The Edge of Empires: A History of Georgia (London: Reaktion, 2012)

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Jason Moralee

State Power, Hagiography, and the Social Shape of the Past Re-Reading the Gesta Martyrum Romanorum

Introduction There has never been a time when hagiography was not a problem.1 Hagiographical writings carry the suspicion of lies, anachronism, and partisanship. They are literary artefacts first and foremost, but the ways in which they are social facts are not always clear — indeed, many lack even the most basic social fact possible: named authorship. Moreover, they are almost always about people and places from times that are located in the past, often in the distant past for their audiences, and so it is not always clear where and when the texts belong: to the narrative time of the text; its originary moment as a text; its earliest manuscript exemplar; or each time that the text was translated into another language, read by an individual, or performed in an organizational setting. Perhaps one way of explaining hagiography’s problem is its persistent entanglement with issues of power: divine power working through human agents, the despotic power of the state to suppress dissent, the ideological power embedded in the contents of the text, and the ways in which texts were used to shape social realities. This essay will explore the workings of power in and through the gesta martyrum, the deeds of the martyrs. The gesta martyrum is a shadowy collection of hagiographical texts in circulation in Rome by the sixth century. It is far from clear what texts were included in the collection, how many texts were included, how it was assembled, and what its purposes were. Indeed, we should probably assume that the designation gesta martyrum pointed not to just one collection

1 For an excellent summary of the problem of hagiography in the Latin west, see Taylor, ‘Hagiography’. Jason Moralee  •  is Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His most recent book is titled Rome’s Holy Mountain: The Capitoline Hill in Late Antiquity. Narrating Power and Authority in Late Antique and Medieval Hagiography across East and West, ed. by Ghazzal Dabiri, FABULAE 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2021) pp. 153-164 © FHG10.1484/M.FABULAE-EB.5.122497


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of texts but to a category of texts that circulated in multiple forms. We only know two things: the identity of a few of the texts and that by the time when this collection is first mentioned in the sixth century, the gesta martyrum had become a problem, a challenge to the institutional authority of the Roman Church and potentially, also, a source of danger to the theological identity of Roman Christians. The problem was the promiscuous anonymity of the acts and passions of Rome’s holy dead. According to the Decretum Gelasianum (Gelasian Decree), a document written perhaps in the middle of the sixth century, the gesta martyrum are included in a list of writings approved for the edification of Roman Christians, together with the Acts of the Councils of Nicaea (325), Ephesus (431), and Chalcedon (451), the works of the Church Fathers, and a smattering of other texts, such as the chronicle of Eusebius (d. 339) and Church History. However, the Decretum Gelasianum states that the gesta were not allowed to be read in churches because ‘the names of those who wrote them are not known’.2 Because the individual texts lacked the authority of a theologically approved author, the gesta were considered a Trojan horse for heresy. Their proliferation within the city’s lay Christian communities had the power to undermine communal and theological unity. While two such dangerous apocryphal texts are named, one is singled out for approval: the Acts of Silvester.3 Attempts have been made to reconstruct the contents of a collection of gesta martyrum that was supposedly in use in the Christian communities of late antique Rome. All that really can be said with certainty is that the Acts of Silvester was understood as included in a collection and was widely available by the sixth century.4 According to the Decretum Gelasianum, the Acts of Silvester had been read for a long while in the city of Rome and, thus, because of this ancient custom, the text could be used in Rome’s churches.5 Though the textual history of the Acts of Silvester is complex, the main outlines of the story will be familiar to many. By contrast, however, with most of the acts and passions of Rome’s holy dead, which tend to be brief, the Acts of Silvester is an especially lengthy story. It tells of the rise of Silvester from priest to the pre-eminent bishop of Rome, his role in the baptism and conversion of the emperor Constantine to Christianity, and his theological disputation with the leaders of Rome’s Jewish community.6 2 Decretum Gelasianum, 4.4, ed. by von Dobschütz, pp. 39–43. See Hillner, ‘Families, Patronage’. 3 The two dubious texts named are: Passio Cyrici et Iulittae and the Passio Georgii. 4 The gesta martyrum could supposedly be reconstructed: Dufourcq, Étude, 1. But see, among others, Diefenbach, Römische Erinnerungsräume, pp. 434–35. 5 This sixth-century awareness of the use and usability of the gesta martyrum is reflected also in the Liber Pontificalis, a chronicle of the deeds of the popes told through a series of biographies, the first editions of which appeared in the sixth century. Here, they are used as a source, for a few of the popes were also confessors and martyrs. For example, the entry for Pope Urban (222–230) has an oblique reference to the Passio Caeciliae. See Le Liber Pontificalis, ed. by Duchesne, i, 143 with n. 4. 6 There is still no critical edition of the Acts of Silvester. For comments on the different versions, see now Canella, Gli ‘Actus Silvestri’.

s tate p ow e r , h ag i o g r ap h y, an d t h e s o c i al shape o f t he past

This paper will draw on the Acts of Silvester to think about the workings of different forms of power in hagiographical writings, but I will also make use of other texts whose narratives take place against the backdrop of Rome’s cityscape. Since most of the texts remain stubbornly resistant to scholars’ best efforts to assign them dates,7 I will not make the claim that any of them were included in those gesta martyrum deemed acceptable for lay edification in the Decretum Gelasianum. By choosing hagiographical texts set in the imaginary Rome of persecuting emperors, some of which were also composed and consumed in Rome, I hope to explore two ways in which power works: first, how Roman state power is represented within the imaginary world of the acts and passions of Rome’s holy dead and, second, how the operations of power within texts worked outside the texts. Throughout this paper, I will sacrifice the examination of particular cases to make general observations in the hope that re-reading the gesta martyrum by way of recent sociological studies on social power, virtual environments, and the organization of time will raise useful questions for further debate.

Hagiography and the Social Shape of the Past According to the sociologist Michael Mann, ‘societies are constituted of multiple overlapping and intersecting networks of social power’.8 He observes that there are four sources of social power and thus four main types: meaning systems and ideological power; material resources and economic power; physical violence and military power; and administrative infrastructure and political power. States draw upon all four sources and types of power to exercise authority. States are thus, in Mann’s words, impure alloys. For what follows, it is important to emphasize that, whatever its foundations and forms, state power is an autonomous social reality— that is, state power existed and exists outside and irrespective of the existence of hagiography. How can we then locate the operations of state power within hagiography, its embeddedness in ‘multiple overlapping and intersecting networks of social power’? This is an especially difficult question for one apparent reason: the state power reflected in the hagiography of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages is mostly an imaginary construct. We usually cannot, for example, read hagiography as an empirical account of how the Roman state used judicial authority and extreme violence to demonize and eliminate political enemies.9 The states found in hagiography are imaginary states, the violence is imaginary, the death is also imaginary. Let us begin with the workings of state power within the virtual environments of Roman hagiographical writings. The imaginary Roman states of hagiography

7 See Pilsworth, ‘Dating the Gesta Martyrum’. 8 Mann, The Sources of Social Power, i, 1–33. See also Schroeder, ‘Introduction’. 9 But see Aubert, ‘The Setting’.

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exercise their authority through what Mann calls ‘infrastructural power’. This is the ability of the state to penetrate deeply into society through not just road systems, taxation, and state media organizations but also through relatively independent social networks whose interests motivate them to support the regime. Infrastructural power is thus ‘power through’ society as opposed to ‘despotic power’ or ‘power over’ society. It is relatively easy to understand the ways in which these two types of power work within a text. Like allowing a digital virtual environment to ‘load’ until its features emerge in sharp relief, users of hagiography become immersed in the story through the layering of expected features and new, specific details. The narrative then makes sense on its own terms, even if modern critics can point out inaccuracies, anachronisms, and inventions. Put differently, these states exist within virtual environments, realities delimited by narrative form, literary topoi, and echoes of bureaucratic norms. And like more recent formations of virtual environments, the acts and passions of Rome’s holy dead function as ‘models of the real world’ which orientate their users so that they can ‘find their way around in them’, and in so doing, the users come to feel, as it were, ‘at home’ in the often distant past of these violent virtual worlds through the familiarity that is created by the sheer repetition of hagiographical tropes.10 What is notable is that Roman hagiographical texts place its users ‘at home’ in a failing state: the Roman state attempts to exert Mann’s categories of despotic and infrastructural power with mixed results. Roman state power hardly penetrates into civil society. Christians are everywhere, and they are from the economically dominant classes of the empire, some even from the imperial bureaucracy. No matter the degree of state-sanctioned brutality, the state always loses even as it has the despotic power to incarcerate, torture, and kill dissidents. The virtual environments of hagiography celebrate the restricted movement of Roman state power over and through society, in Mann’s terms, despotic and infrastructural power, respectively. But such texts also make clear that the movement of power is not monopolized or directed by the state. In fact, the idea of power itself is made polyvalent. Users of these virtual environments are repeatedly told that if you wish to see real power (potestas and virtus are common terms in this connection), you should see how the power of the holy spirit works through the bodies of popes, bishops, priests, and even children. This is a movement of power through society that shatters other state-based definitions of power. Borrowing from Mann’s language, we can see that Christianity’s ‘society-organizing capacity’, a ‘socio-spatially transcendent’ ideology that, in a sense, overpowers Roman state ideology, an ideology that is represented by the authority of the ruler as well as the efficacy of his edicts, state administrators, and security forces. By overpowering these state institutions, the virtus of the saints, thus, to borrow from computing terminology, ‘powers down’ the truth claims of Roman state religion. 10 Schroeder, Being There Together, pp. 61–93.

s tate p ow e r , h ag i o g r ap h y, an d t h e s o c i al shape o f t he past

This is all well understood by scholars of hagiographical texts and by their intended users. But there are other ways in which infrastructural power works both in and through texts. The first encounter with the infrastructural power of the state is often found in the opening words of the acts and passions of the holy dead. Here, users of these virtual environments are firmly placed in time through formulas that name the emperors, officials, or popes. In the case of the Acts of Silvester, we are told that while Silvester was young, Tarquinius was urban prefect, and then when Silvester was ‘bishop of the city of Rome’ (urbis Romae episcopus) an edict of persecution was enacted under the emperor Constantine’s sole rule (Constantinus Augustus monarchiam tenens).11 Strict accuracy was not the point. There was no urban prefect named Tarquinius in the years before the pontificate of Silvester.12 We are also firmly placed in space. The hagiographical writings set in Rome force an encounter with the cityscape by naming the locations where violence is either threatened or delivered in full, thus mapping the infrastructural power of the state onto the urban infrastructure of Rome. These locations of violence include the Tiber river and Tiber island, the Forum Romanum, the Forum of Trajan, the Capitoline and Palatine Hills, the Colosseum, military barracks in Trastevere, among other spaces of officialdom. In contrast to these places of state authority and state violence, the virtual environments in which Roman saints lived and died offer up an alternate map of the city. Steffen Diefenbach and others have suggested that the imaginary Rome of hagiography is not centralized but rather nucleated into multiple centres. Operating in the shadow of Roman state power, the martyrs and confessors demonstrate their revolutionary authority in houses, prisons, and crypts, where through their instruction, battles with demons, and miraculous healings, the saints convert Rome in a step by step process: one official and then another, one family and then another, or in the most dramatic case, the emperor himself. In the Acts of Silvester, under the influence of lay Christians, visions of the apostles, and the instruction of the pope, the emperor Constantine (d. 337) rejects the Capitoline Hill and its bloodthirsty priests and ends up baptized by Silvester at the Lateran and prostrating himself at the shrine of St Peter.13 It was thus possible for the users of these virtual environments to re-orient their sense of where true power was physically located. The users are thus in for an (expected) surprise; they do not find themselves ‘at home’ in places of state power but rather find comfort in hidden or heretofore obscure locations that are suddenly illuminated through their association with Roman saints. Even though we are dealing with imaginary Roman states, the inquiry into ways in which state power is virtually represented in hagiography shines a light

11 Acts of Silvester, ed. by Mombritius, ii, 508 and 510. 12 See Sessa, ‘Constantine and Silvester’. 13 Acts of Silvester, ed. by Mombritius, ii, 512–13.

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on what Eviatar Zerubavel calls the ‘outlines of a mnemonic community’s social reality’.14 By looking at how a community remembers events ‘marked’ with high significance, we can begin to see the relationship between the imaginary workings of power and collective identity. These spatio-temporal localizations create what Zerubavel would call ‘time maps’. They establish ‘marked’ time and ‘marked’ locations that together function to define the ‘social shape of the past’. Time maps, in turn, constitute a fundamental aspect to the formation of a ‘mnemonic community’, a collective identity formed by collective forms of memorializing activities. Zerubavel observes that technologies of commemoration, like the calendar of public holidays in modern states, tend to create ‘mnemonic mountains’ and ‘mnemonic valleys’.15 Taken together, the virtual environments of Roman hagiography commemorate events that can be visualized like a mountain chain: peaks representing events that took place in the reigns of the persecuting emperors and valleys in which nothing of special significance took place at all. Moreover, these mountains of marked significance take place in a particular urban environment: the streets, plazas, and cemeteries on either side of Rome’s Aurelian Wall. According to Zerubavel, this mapping of events on timelines and places establishes a sense of ‘sameness’. ‘Even as we ourselves undergo dramatic changes’, he explains, ‘both individually and collectively, our physical surroundings usually remain relatively stable’. Our physical surroundings thus ‘constitute a reliable locus of memories and often serve as major foci of personal as well as group nostalgia’.16 Hence, the ways in which state power and Christian revolutionary power are textually represented serve to ‘bridge’ the ‘mnemonic valleys’ that would otherwise disrupt a community’s identity. These representations create an experience of unity between the martyrs of the past and the Christians of the present because the hagiographical virtual environments map onto the urban environment of Rome in the present — a point to which I will return. The imaginary state power in the gesta martyrum is essentially a ‘modern’ invention. It is an anachronistic and fantastical by-product of the formation of a Christian collective identity forged in late antiquity that understood the age of martyrdom — the mnemonic peaks — as a foundational past.17 Though the martyrs die suddenly and violently, commemorating them through individual texts and collections of texts gives the illusion that the users of Roman hagiographical texts were part of the same community. This sense of continuity is heightened by the constancy of place and the constancy of authority that are highlighted in these virtual worlds. When popes, such as Alexander and Silvester, turn up in these martyr acts, this furthermore suggests

14 Zerubavel, Time Maps. The discussion below derives especially from pp. 26–28. 15 Zerubavel, Time Maps, p. 28. See also Zerubavel, Hidden Rhythms. 16 Zerubavel, Time Maps, p. 40. 17 For a discussion of such foundational pasts, see Confino, Foundational Pasts.

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an institutional continuity in the authority of the popes stretching from the present to the chain of distant events of marked significance represented in the gesta martyrum.

Hagiography and the Social Shape of the Present Thus far, I have attempted to re-describe hagiography’s relationship to state power by discussing the ways in which power works both inside and through texts, especially in relation to the formation of collective identity. This assumes that hagiography does something more than is explicitly described in the contents of the stories of individual texts, namely, creating a communal identity. Furthermore, this assumes that hagiography constitutes both a product and a process, a form of ‘-ization’ like the old-fashioned scholarly analytic of ‘Romanization’. Similar to how Romanization is sometimes used to describe the encounter between putative Romans and putative non-Romans (or less-Romans), the term hagiography becomes a product of a fully formed collective identity and the process by which collective identity was formed.18 Like Romanization, hagiography as a term is problematic, for it is both evidence and explanation for the formation of collective identity and, thus, also for the formation of the social shape of forms of worship in late antiquity and beyond. I have no easy way out of this circular bind. However, I can point to a few examples of how the acts and passions of the Rome’s holy dead participated in shaping social realities within Rome in late antiquity and the Middle Ages. To do so requires us to return to Michael Mann’s meditations on social power. For Mann, ideologies need to be embedded in networks of social power for them to do something in the real world. If we can agree that hagiographical writings constitute an ideology, a system of making sense of the world, we need to locate the ways in which these writings were connected to networks, organizations, and other material practices that facilitated the movement of power into and through society. In short, we need to pay attention to the ways in which power, as represented within texts, worked outside the texts. How did the virtual environments of Roman hagiography play a role in the formation of the social shape of the late antique present? Unlike the imaginary failed states ridiculed in text, the late Roman state harnessed the memory of the martyrs to re-make the city of Rome.19 The evidence for the imperial use of the cult of the martyrs as a form of ideological power is perhaps most obvious through the sponsorship of church building projects and the continued patronage of churches through lavish donations. The emperor Constantine and his family as well as subsequent emperors quite literally changed the face of the city of Rome by establishing large-scale churches at

18 See Mattingly, ‘Cultural Crossovers’. 19 See Noga-Banai, Jerusalem.

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St Peter’s, the Basilica Constantiniana on the Caelian Hill, and elsewhere.20 Not only did these structures change the face of the city, but they also changed the ways in which emperors, clergy, and lay Christians moved through the city. Paolo Liverani, Hendrik Dey, and others have shown that, by the fifth century, emperors and then kings began to move through Rome like pilgrims, beginning their processions at St Peter’s and then moving into the Forum Romanum to address the plebs Romana.21 Though there is no evidence that Constantine or his immediate successors stepped foot at the future site of St Peter’s, the fact that the Acts of Silvester imagines Constantine venerating the site after his conversion to Christianity is itself a form of mnemonic bridging, linking current practice to an imaginary moment when the practice supposedly began.22 There were knock-on effects of these new itineraries of power. The elaboration of St Peter’s led fifth-century emperors to monumentalize the processional route from St Peter’s into the city’s heart with two triumphal arches and porticated streets which continued to define the look of the city and ways of orienting oneself within the urban environment into the later Middle Ages.23 Signs of the power of martyr memorialization to change the urban environment of Rome are everywhere. By the ninth century, as reflected in the so-called Einsiedeln Itineraries, transalpine visitors (or armchair visitors) to Rome saw the city like a circuit board, a series of conductive tracks connecting one site of martyrial commemoration to another. These itineraries draw the reader through the city by showing them what would be seen along each route. The first itinerary begins at St Peter’s. It moves into the Campus Martius and terminates near the Baths of Diocletian. Along the way, the reader is invited to see churches dedicated to Sts Lawrence, Cyriacus, Sergius, Agatha, Euphemia, Vitalis, Pudenziana, Apollinaris, Eustachius, Susanna, and Felix.24 By the twelfth century, the spatio-temporal localizations of marked time, which we examined above in the gesta martyrum, became part of the urban infrastructure of Rome. We see this most clearly in the Mirabilia urbis Romae, a description of the city and a collection of legends officially sanctioned by the papal administration. After describing the postdiluvian foundation of Rome by Noah’s sons, the Mirabilia urbis Romae begins a series of infrastructural lists: the length of the Aurelian Wall, the names of the gates of the city, triumphal arches, hills, baths, palaces, and theatres. Thereupon follows a list of ‘places found in the passions of the saints’ (loca quae inveniuntur in passionibus sanctorum).25 We are swept from the Via Appia into the city centre, learning as we read where St Sixtus and St Paul were beheaded, where St Sebastian’s body was thrown, where St Silvester and Constantine kissed and took leave of one another, where 20 Most recently, see Lenski, Constantine and the Cities. 21 Liverani, ‘Victors and Pilgrims’; Dey, The Afterlife of the Roman City, pp. 68–73. 22 McLynn, ‘The Transformation of Imperial Churchgoing’. 23 See above n. 21. 24 See Die Einsiedler Inschriftensammlung, ed. by Walser, pp. 159–67. 25 Mirabilia urbis Romae, ed. by Valentini and Zucchetti, iii, 23–26.

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St Lawrence was roasted, and many other locations. Then come more lists of infrastructure, concluding with lists of Rome’s bridges and cemeteries. By the twelfth century, Rome was ‘always already’ a city of martyrs.26 With respect to the formation of a collective identity, it is admittedly difficult to locate the causal relationship between the cult of the martyrs, the memory of the martyrs, and specific hagiographical texts. We can only say that agents from different socio-economic strata participated in the ‘martyrization’ of Rome’s identity as an urban community. The ruling elites were joined by others in this process of urban change. In a typically astute observation, Peter Brown writes, ‘Altogether, religious history would be immeasurably poorer if it were not for the unflagging pretentiousness of members of the sub-elites’.27 It was this ‘unflagging pretentiousness’ of sub-elites that made the acts and passions of Rome’s holy dead so appealing. These sub-elites were the target audience of hagiographical writings, for the martyrs were often from their social and economic ranks. A particularly good example is demonstrated by a hagiographical verse inscription copied into the seventh-century Sylloge Turonensis, a fragment of which was found close to S. Maria ai Monti in 1877. This epigram commemorates the siblings Maria and Nion for ‘generously distributing their wealth according to the precepts of Christ’. The last line of the epigram urges us to read the passion (passio) and learn the virtues of the martyrs, and in so doing we will learn that ‘god is present to his servants’. In this modelling of the martyrs’ virtues, Christian conversion proceeds from the top. It was through the pious giving of these siblings that ‘a holy crowd came to the highest god’. In other words, while Christians would not be able to imitate the fortitude of the martyrs, they could imitate their material practices ‘to advance the holy faith’.28 Peter Brown has gone into great detail on how New Testament injunctions to renounce wealth had material consequences, leading to the flow of wealth from late Roman elites into the coffers of churches throughout the empire.29 In Rome, the ‘unflagging pretentiousness’ of sub-elites found the expression of this ideology in the donation of properties to the church, and these donors were thus celebrated by having their names attached to the titular churches. Some of these donors, such as Caecilia who dedicated the property that would become Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, came to be remembered as holy martyrs.30 Others sought identification with the martyrs through burial ad sanctos, a practice that returns us to the siblings Nion and Maria. In the 1990s, Italian excavators discovered a large late fourth-century church-funerary complex just outside the Aurelian Walls on the Via Ardeatina. Dozens of burials were discovered 26 See Goodson, The Rome of Paschal I and Maskarinec, City of Saints. 27 Brown, ‘Enjoying the Saints in Late Antiquity’, p. 546. 28 Amore, I martiri di Roma, ed. by Bonfiglio, pp. 137–42. 29 Brown, Through the Eye of a Needle, especially pp. 241–72. 30 Passio Caeciliae, 31. Text: Delehaye, Étude, p. 219. The Roman Martyrs, trans. by Lapidge, p. 164. For the development of the church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere in its early medieval context, see Goodson, The Rome of Paschal I, pp. 94–100.



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inside the structure, including a tomb that was especially distinguished by its placement beneath the centre of the apse. Though virtually all of the tombs and the remains they housed had been robbed, one of them was intact. This woman was put to rest with a dazzling collection of jewellery: necklaces, rings, and earrings, some with precious stones.31 Through their ‘unflagging pretentiousness’, she and her entombed neighbours had learned the lesson to be taught by the martyrs Maria and Nion. And, indeed, this complex on the Via Ardeatina, according to the excavators, could be the location that commemorated the place where the remains of the siblings Nion and Maria were eventually deposited and subsequently celebrated by the epigram discussed above.32

Conclusion These observations have suggested some novel ways of addressing old, thorny questions about what hagiographical writings are and what they do virtually and in the real world. In doing so, I have merely attempted to sketch out some of the operations of conflicting sources of power that run in and through hagiography and how these articulations of power later affected state, collective, and individual behaviour outside hagiography. This is a reminder, if any such reminder is needed, that social facts determine the shapes and contents of hagiographical writings, whatever their forms. And, perhaps more importantly, such texts could help determine the social shape of the past through the formation of collective memory, and they could help determine the social shape of the present and future through commemorative performances and Christian euergetism. In a sense, the gesta martyrum functioned in ways similar to more recent formations of virtual environments: virtual worlds create remote locations for the building of small-group communities. The users of the premodern virtual worlds of hagiography were invited to join mnemonic communities with a shared past and with practices that bridged the divide between virtual power and power in the real world.

Bibliography Primary Sources Acta Silvestri, in Boninus Mombritius, Sanctuarium seu Vitae Sanctorum, 2 vols (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1978), ii, 508–31 Decretum Gelasianum, in Ernst von Dobschütz, Das Decretum Gelasianum de libris recipiendis et non recipiendis in kritischem Text (Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs, 1912)

31 Fiocchi Nicolai, ‘Corredi aurei’, pp. 60–66. 32 See the discussion in Fiocchi Nicolai, ‘La nuova basilica circiforme’, pp. 125–35.

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Die Einsiedler Inschriftensammlung und der Pilgerführer durch Rom (Codex Einsidlensis 326): Facsimile, Umschrift, Übersetzung und Kommentar, ed. by Gerold Walser (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1987) Le Liber Pontificalis: Texte, introduction et commentaire, ed. by Louis Duchesne, 3 vols (Paris: Éditions E. de Boccard, 1981) Mirabilia urbis Romae, in Roberto Valentini and Giuseppe Zucchetti, Codice topografico della città di Roma, 4 vols (Roma: Istituto Storico Italiano, 1942), iii, 3–65 The Roman Martyrs: Introduction, Translations, and Commentary, ed. by Michael Lapidge (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018) Secondary Sources Amore, Agostino, I martiri di Roma, ed. by Alessandro Bonfiglio (Todi: Tau Editrice, 2013) Aubert, Jean-Jacques, ‘The Setting and Staging of Christian Trials’, in Spaces of Justice in the Roman World, ed. by Francesco de Angelis (Leiden: Brill, 2010), pp. 277–309 Brown, Peter, ‘Enjoying the Saints in Late Antiquity’, in The Religious History of the Roman Empire: Pagans, Jews, and Christians, ed. by John A. North, Simon R. F. Price, and Christopher Rowland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 531–61 ———, Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350–550 ad (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012) Canella, Tessa, Gli Actus Silvestri: Genesi di una leggenda su Costantino imperatore (Spoleto: Fondazione Centro italiano di studi sull’alto Medioevo, 2006) Confino, Alon, Foundational Pasts: The Holocaust as Historical Understanding (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012) Delehaye, Hippolyte, Étude sur le Légendier romain: Les saints de novembre et de décembre (Bruxelles: Société des Bollandistes, 1936) Dey, Hendrik, The Afterlife of the Roman City: Architecture and Ceremony in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015) Diefenbach, Steffen, Römische Erinnerungsräume: Heiligenmemoria und kollektive Identitäten im Rom des 3. bis 5. Jahrhunderts n. Chr. (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2007) Dufourcq, Albert, Étude sur les ‘Gesta Martyrum’ romains, 5 vols (Paris: Fontemoing, 1900) Fiocchi Nicolai, Vincenzo, ‘La nuova basilica circiforme della via Ardeatina’, Rendiconti della Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archeologia, 48 (1995–96), 69–233 ———, ‘Corredi aurei da una tomba della basilica di papa Marco sulla via Ardeatina’, in Costantino, 313 d.c., ed. by Mariarosaria Barbera (Milano: Electa, 2013), pp. 60–66


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Goodson, Caroline J., The Rome of Paschal I: Papal Power, Urban Renovation, Church Rebuilding and Relic Translation, 817–24 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010) Hillner, Julia, ‘Families, Patronage and the Titular Churches of Rome’, in Religion, Dynasty and Patronage in Early Christian Rome, 300–900, ed. by Kate Cooper and Julia Hillner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 225–61 Lanéry, Cécile, ‘Hagiographie d’Italie (300–550)’, in Hagiographies: Histoire internationale de la littérature hagiographique latine et vernaculaire en Occident des origines à 1550, ed. by G. Philippart, 7 vols (Turnhout: Brepols, 2010), iv, 15–369 Lenski, Noel, Constantine and the Cities: Imperial Authority and Civic Politics (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016) Liverani, Paolo, ‘Victors and Pilgrims in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages’, Fragmenta, 1 (2007), 83–102 Mann, Michael, The Sources of Social Power, 4 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986) Maskarinec, Maya, City of Saints: Rebuilding Rome in the Early Middle Ages (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018) Mattingly, David, ‘Cultural Crossovers: Global and Local Identities in the Classical World’, in Material Culture and Social Identities in the Ancient World, ed. by Shelley Hales and Tamar Hodos (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 283–95 McLynn, Neil, ‘The Transformation of Imperial Churchgoing in the Fourth Century’, in Approaching Late Antiquity: The Transformation from the Early to Late Empire, ed. by Simon Swain and Mark Edwards (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 235–70 Noga-Banai, Galit, Jerusalem and the Visual Christianization of Rome (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018) Pilsworth, Clare, ‘Dating the Gesta Martyrum: A Manuscript-based Approach’, Early Medieval Europe, 9.3 (2000), 309–24 Schroeder, Ralph, ‘Introduction: The IEMP Model and its Critics’, in An Anatomy of Power: The Social Theory of Michael Mann, ed. by John A. Hall and Ralph Schroeder (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 1–9 ———, Being There Together: Social Interaction in Virtual Environments (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011) Sessa, Kristina, ‘Constantine and Silvester in the Actus Silvestri’, in The Life and Legacy of Constantine: Traditions through the Ages, ed. by Shane Bjornlie (New York: Routledge, 2007), pp. 77–91 Taylor, Anna, ‘Hagiography and Early Medieval History’, Religion Compass, 7.1 (2013), 1–14 Zerubavel, Eviatar, Hidden Rhythms: Schedules and Calendars in Social Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981) ———, Time Maps: Collective Memory and the Social Shape of the Past (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003)

Part 4

Negotiating Power and Authority

Sibel Kocaer

Disguising Himself or Describing the Other? Muslim-Christian Encounters and Narratives of Sarı Saltuk in Ottoman Times

The Ṣaltuḳ-nāme (Book of Ṣaltuḳ) by Ebū’l-ḫayr-i Rūmī (fl. fifteenth century) is a multi-layered Turkish prose text from the early Ottoman period. Comprised of three volumes, it is a compilation of stories of varying themes that centre on the liminal figure Saltuk. These stories, which date back to pre-Ottoman times in the lands of ‘Rūm’,1 were in oral circulation throughout Anatolia and eastern Europe under Ottoman rule in the late medieval period. The work as a whole blends together various genres such as epic, hagiography, and wondertale, and the stories describe Saltuk’s heroic deeds and his religious miracles,2 some of which take place in legendary and imaginary places, such as Mount Qāf or under the sea. This chapter will focus on the episodes which relate the adventures of the protagonist, Saltuk, when he is in disguise as a Christian monk or priest. These episodes, which appear in the first volume of the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme, include oft-repeated descriptions of Christians, specifically with regards to monks, priests, and kings who are designated as infidels, in general, but also as Rūmīs (Byzantines) at other times. Concentrating on the depictions of Christians and the disguise motif, this paper will address questions regarding the composition of the audience of the text and its narrators who lived in the

1 For the connotations of Rūm in pre-Ottoman and Ottoman times and the geographical definition it conveys, see Özbaran, Bir Osmanlı Kimliği; Kafadar, ‘A Rome of One’s Own’; and Kuru, ‘The Literature of Rum’. For the concept of Rūm in the frontier narratives of Anatolia, see Aydoğan, ‘Changing Perceptions’. 2 Although the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme under discussion in this paper is a written work, I prefer to use ‘audience’ instead of ‘reader’ in order to clarify and highlight its links with oral literature during its composition and circulation. In addition, as Ebū’l-ḫayr-i Rūmī writes in the last pages of the third volume, Cem Sultan would always have the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme read to him aloud to listen to it, see Saltuk-nâme, ed. by Akalın, iii, 366. Henceforth, the quotations from the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme are based on the transliteration of this edition. Sibel Kocaer  •  is an Assistant Professor at Bandırma Onyedi Eylül University. She lectures on Turkish literature of the Ottoman period and before, Ottoman Turkish, mythology, and comparative literature. Narrating Power and Authority in Late Antique and Medieval Hagiography across East and West, ed. by Ghazzal Dabiri, FABULAE 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2021) pp. 167-181 © FHG10.1484/M.FABULAE-EB.5.122498

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multi-religious and multi-cultural regions of Anatolia and the Balkans in the medieval period. Furthermore, the influence of the political agenda of the Ottoman prince, Cem (1459–1495), on the content of the text will also be considered, as it may open a window onto the intimate connections between popular narratives and political and/or religious authorities.

The S.altuk.-nāme The Ṣaltuḳ-nāme was commissioned by the Ottoman prince Cem, son of Mehmed II (d. 1481). According to Ebū’l-ḫayr-i Rūmī, one day, Prince Cem was out hunting in Babadağ (Dobruja) where he visited a dervish lodge.3 When Cem heard the stories of Saltuk at the lodge, he pointed at Ebū’l-ḫayr-i Rūmī and ordered him to gather and compile them. Ebū’l-ḫayr-i Rūmī then walked throughout the region, and, wherever he heard a story about Saltuk, he wrote it down and then organized the stories to form a book.4 When a text is written upon the request of a ruler, the first question that may come to mind is how that ruler’s power is represented in the text. Significantly, Ebū’l-ḫayr-i Rūmī uses the words menâqıb (qualities, virtues, miracles, hagiography/biography) and qıssa (story, tale) for the narratives about Saltuk, who is portrayed as a strong and brave warrior, a highly knowledgeable Muslim, and a dervish. Ebū’l-ḫayr-i Rūmī also states that he will specifically ask dervishes for Saltuk’s stories.5 Considering this and the fact that the prince first heard the tales in a dervish lodge, another question arises related to the political turmoil of his time: how did the relationship between Cem and the spiritual-religious authorities in the region and Cem’s aim to succeed the throne after his father, Mehmed the Conqueror, influence the tales as written by Ebū’l-ḫayr-i Rūmī? Since we cannot know the extent of Ebū’l-ḫayr-i Rūmī’s fidelity to the tales as recited to him, Saltuk’s identity, characterization, and exploits may help us to provide some preliminary answers to these questions. As such, the extents to which the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme reflects Ebū’l-ḫayr-i Rūmī’s handling of the tales he recorded must be considered here especially in light of the fact that different layers in the text are discernible.6 The available Ṣaltuḳnāme manuscripts, upon which this study is based, were copied in the late

3 Today Dobruja has been divided between Bulgaria and Romania. 4 The only source of information about Ebū’l-ḫayr-i Rūmī is the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme itself. Based on the limited information he gives about himself in the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme, he could be identified as a member of Prince Cem’s court: see Akalın, ‘Ebülhayr Rûmî’, pp. 360–62. 5 Akalın, ‘Ebülhayr Rûmî’, p. 366. 6 For information about the historical and textual layers in the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme, see Aydoğan, ‘An Analysis of the Saltukname’; Aydoğan, ‘Creating an Ideal Self ’; and Kafadar, Between Two Worlds.

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sixteenth century,7 but the original text by Ebū’l-ḫayr-i Rūmī was composed in the late fifteenth century.8 As the author states in the text, he compiled the stories about Saltuk over a period of seven years.9 Therefore, the composition of the work may be dated between 1473/1474 and 1480/1481. However, the events described in the stories take place in the thirteenth century. Four hundred years offers ample opportunity for changes such as the accretion and loss (and perhaps even suppression) of various details. This is especially salient given the ephemeral nature of oral tales, which may have been further filtered through popular dervish lodges, named after Saltuk, that were located throughout eastern Europe under Ottoman rule.10

Sarı Saltuk’s Identity: Historical Figure or a Fictitious Hero of Its Era? The earliest extant source regarding Saltuk is the account by Ibn al-Sarrāj (d. 1346/1347). Consisting of four main chapters in two volumes, the third volume of his account, titled Tuffāḥ al-arwāḥ wa miftāḥ al-arbāḥ (Nourishment for the Soul and the Key to Benefits), is on the miracles (karāmah) performed by dervishes who lived in the thirteenth century. In this volume, al-Sarrāj refers to Saltuk as ‘Saltuk al-Turkī’ and notes that his source of information about Saltuk is a group of ‘trusted people’. Among them, he particularly mentions Sayyid Bahrāmshāh al-Ḥaydarī, whom he met in 1304/1305, and who was a follower of Saltuk. According to the information reported by al-Sarrāj, Saltuk was a person with fair skin, medium height, and he would often look at the sky. The miracles performed by Saltuk fall into two categories, namely, curing illnesses and transmogrification; for instance, he had the ability to change his appearance and natural elements such that he could make dust turn into gold and gold turn into dust. Furthermore, he notes that Saltuk established a zāwiyah (assembly, religious school) in Dobruja with a capacity of three hundred dervishes and that he died in 1297/1298 when he was in his seventies. His funeral, accordingly, was teeming with mourners, and his coffin was cut

7 Karamustafa, ‘Islamisation through the Lens of the Saltuk-name’, pp. 352–53, roughly dates the historical context of the narrative as ‘the middle two quarters of the thirteenth century’, which was the era of the Latin Empire of Constantinople (1204–1261), the Byzantine Empire of Nicea (1204–1261), the reign of emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos (r. 1259–1282), and the Seljuq Sultanate in Anatolia. 8 As Akalın notes, the only manuscript collection which includes all three volumes together are kept in the Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi Kütüphanesi. For brief information about the content of the volumes and the manuscript copies, see Akalın, ‘Ebülhayr Rûmî’, pp. 360–62. For the facsimile of the manuscripts kept in the Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi Kütüphanesi, see Ebū’lḫayr-ı Rūmī, Saltuk-nâme, ed. by Fahir İz. 9 Ebū’l-ḫayr-ı Rūmī, Saltuk-nâme, ed. by Akalın, iii, 366. 10 For a detailed study on Sarı Saltuk, see Ocak, Sarı Saltık.



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into pieces and shared by Muslims.11 The second earliest source which makes mention of Saltuk is the celebrated travel account of Ibn Battuta (d. 1368). According to Ibn Battuta’s travelogue, Saltuk was an ecstatic mystic and an antinomian Muslim.12 Another source of information for Saltuk is the religious places named after him, such as tombs or dervish lodges. Saltuk has seven identified tombs throughout south-eastern Europe. The dervish lodges named after him in Dobruja, Varna, and the Crimea are famous among the lodges. There are also Christian-Muslim shrines dedicated to Saltuk, and in those places he is identified with St Nicholas or with other Christian saints.13 Although religious sites are controversial places from which to obtain reliable information about historical facts and figures, they nonetheless provide other types of crucial information regarding the social and cultural history of a certain region and epoch. In this regard, the religious sites named after Saltuk seem to point to a radical change in the social landscape across the region: the cohabitation of Christians and Muslims.14 In the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme, one of Saltuk’s epithets is ‘Sarı’, which literally means yellow. Used in this way, as an epithet, it may imply that he was blond. Of significance, beginning with the first pages, he is associated with several interchangeable titles that denote religious status, such as seyyid (leader) and șerīf (honourable).15 He is thusly portrayed as a descendant of the prophet, Muhạ mmad. Furthermore, with his first name noted as Hızır (Khidṛ ), he is also associated with one of the most popular sacred figures in Islamic literature; one who appears as a spiritual guide to dervishes in dreams and visions.16 Indeed, in the episodes, Saltuk is a holy person much like Khiḍr, and he even directly receives the help of Khiḍr and his well-known companion, Ilyās (Elias).17 Significantly, however, unlike previously mentioned sources, the Ṣaltuḳnāme also portrays him as a brave warrior and an undefeatable hero, leading 11 See Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī ibn al-Sarrāj, Tuffâhu’l-Ervâh ve Miftâhu’l-İrbâh, ed. by Gürkan, Bardakçı, and Sarıkaya, especially pp. 319–27 and Öztürk, Velilik ile Delilik Arasında, especially pp. 122–39 and 145–47. For the digital copy of one of its manuscript copies kept at the Princeton Library online collection, see Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī ibn al-Sarrāj, Tuffāḥ al-arwāḥ wa miftāḥ al-arbāḥ, Princeton University Library Online. 12 See Norris, Popular Sufism of Eastern Europe, p. 4. 13 See Ocak, Sarı Saltık, especially pp. 91–109. 14 Today, there is a rich corpus of literature on the history of conversion and cohabitation of Christians and Muslims in the region. For a pioneering study on this subject, see Hasluck, Christianity and Islam. Also, see the essays in the collected volume Shankland, ed., Archaeology, Anthropology and Heritage. 15 As a title, ‘sayyid’ is used for the descendants of Ḥusayn (626–680) and ‘sharīf’ is used for the descendants of Ḥasan (624–670), the grandsons of the prophet Muḥammad. 16 For information on Khiḍr, see for example Ocak, İslam-Türk İnançlarında Hızır; Wensinck, ‘al-Khidr’, 4, pp. 902–05; and Kocaer, ‘The Journey of an Ottoman Warrior Dervish’, especially pp. 90–106. 17 For the English translation of this episode, see ‘Sarı Saltık Becomes a Friend of God’, trans. by Karamustafa.

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us to another intriguing detail about Saltuk’s identity in the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme. In addition to being a descendant of the Prophet and resembling Khiḍr, he is also a descendant of Baṭṭāl Ġāzi, the renowned warrior in Anatolia.18 In fact, the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme is the last literary composition of the so-called ‘frontier epic cycle’ from Anatolia which includes the heroic battles and adventures of three popular Muslim warriors, namely Baṭṭāl Ġāzi, Dānişmend Ġāzi, and Sarı Saltuk.19 This cycle comprises multiple volumes dedicated to each of the three warriors who share several characteristics in common. Of significance to our current purposes, all three have complete mastery of the four holy books. By means of this knowledge, they can easily disguise themselves as members of other religions to the point that they can preach with the expertise of religious scholars without anyone suspecting, at first glance, their true identity. As will be discussed in the following section, Sarı Saltuk even convinces a group of Christians that he has met Jesus Christ while up in the heavens and claims that, for this reason, he can baptize them on behalf of Jesus Christ. Certainly, al-Sarrāj's account includes evidence suggesting Saltuk’s factual identity. Indeed, there is a strong possibility that Saltuk’s fame in the region originates from a local dervish who lived in the thirteenth century. However, al-Sarrāj’s portrayal of Saltuk, which is mostly based on anecdotes narrated by his followers or disciples, has the hallmarks of hagiographical tales. Likewise, his portrayal in the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme echoes those of previous warrior dervishes from the central and eastern parts of Anatolia. This connection between the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme and the previous frontier narratives circulating in the region suggests shared narratives by different cultures and regions, which date back to earlier times in the medieval period. Thus, the Sarı Saltuk of the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme appears as a fictional hero.20

The Disguise Motif and Describing the Other In the first volume of the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme, there are innumerable episodes which follow Saltuk disguised as a Christian monk or priest. The general structure of these episodes is as follows: while Saltuk is on his way to a city, he encounters a group of monks, a church filled with parishioners, or rulers, all of whom are

18 Ġāzī (ghāzī) is the title for Muslim warriors who fight for the sake of God. For the diachronic changes in the meanings of ghāzā and ghāzī among Turkish speakers, see Tekin, ‘Türk Dünyasında Gaza’. Also see Tekin ‘XIV’. For detailed information about the ghāzāthesis, which has been used to explain the formative period of the Ottoman Empire, see Wittek, The Rise of the Ottoman Empire; Kafadar, Between Two Worlds; Lowry, The Nature of the Early Ottoman State; and Darling, ‘Contested Territory’. 19 See Battalnāme, ed. by Dedes and Dânişmend-nâme, ed. by Demir. 20 For an elaborate analysis of the frontier narratives in Anatolia, their links with other literary traditions, and their transmission from other languages into Turkish, see the commentary by Yorgos Dedes in The Battalname, ed. by Dedes, pp. 1–85.

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described as infidels. Then, Saltuk disguises himself as a Christian, joins the Christian community or enters the church, and convinces the people in the group that he is a knowledgeable monk or priest. He reads from the Gospels in a sonorous, beautiful voice that makes the audience dissolve into tears and believe in him. When they offer him food and wine, he defers by telling them that he either is fasting or he is having issues with his stomach. He, thereby, avoids arousing any suspicion while abiding by Islamic purity laws. When the people drink and become inebriated and fall asleep, he catches them: for instance, by tying them to trees. When they wake up, he asks them to convert to Islam. In some episodes, he reveals his true identity after deceiving them in different ways and then asks them to embrace Islam. In essence, then, the episodes which centre on the encounters of Sarı Saltuk with the Christians include the disguise motif and the theme of conversion together. Both actions (disguising/converting) of the narratives have the same two actors, ‘self ’ and ‘other’, and they overlap. For instance, when Sarı Saltuk (self) asks the Christians (other) to convert to Islam, the message to the audience is clear: Islam (self) is superior to Christianity (other). However, it is not easy to define the self and other in terms of the narrator(s) and audience when Sarı Saltuk acts as the other, one of his contenders, through disguise. Until he reveals his true identity and asks them to convert, the audience listens to or reads the portrayals of Christians through Saltuk, a warrior dervish and venerated figure. Here, several questions arise. For instance, how, then, may the narrator(s) and audience be delineated? What is the possible function of the ‘disguise’ motif in these episodes? What does this motif illustrate to the audience? And, for what possible reasons have the narrator(s) of frontier narratives kept this motif for centuries? The studies which focus on the portrayals of Christians and Christianity in the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme claim that the depictions often repeat certain stereotypes, and therefore they do not include factual observations. Zeynep Aydoğan examines the representations of infidels in frontier epics and argues that the Anatolian warrior epics portray them in a caricaturized manner and with stereotypes such as foolish and corrupt. According to Aydoğan, the reason for the ‘negation of the other’ is to construct ‘their own ideal self-image’.21 Likewise, Ahmet T. Karamustafa also emphasizes the lack of details in the depiction of Christianity in the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme, such as the fact that conversion is associated only with abstaining from wine-drinking and the consumption of pork. Indicating the lack of both Christian and Muslim ritual practices but the inclusion of only a few distinctively Christian and Muslim social habits in the narrative, Karamustafa claims that ‘the question for the audience for the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme still remains unanswered’.22

21 Aydoğan, ‘Creating an Ideal Self ’, especially p. 105. 22 Karamustafa, ‘Islamisation through the Lens of the Saltuk-name’.

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Here, this chapter will focus on two episodes to better understand the composition of the narrator(s) and audience. The first episode may be summarized as follows: while Şerīf is on his way to the city of Morina, he sees someone hunting: it is the ruler of the city, and they begin to talk. Afterwards, the ruler takes Şerīf to his palace, and they sit down to eat and drink. Şerīf refuses to eat the food and drink the wine and tells the king that he is fasting, like other monks who are able to fly from one mountain to another. And he adds that he too is able to fly from one mountain to another mountain; it is, he claims, very easy for him. Then, the king tells Şerīf that there is an island close to their region, and on that island there is a monk who can fly in the sky. Şerīf asks to visit the island to meet the monk, and the ruler orders his men to prepare his boat. When they arrive at the island, Şerīf recites from the Gospels in a beautiful voice, and all the infidels start to weep. Then he asks the monk to perform his miracles. The monk wears a shirt, recites something magical, and flies into the sky. When Şerīf sees this, he at once recites the prophet Ilyās’s prayer, and, immediately, the monk gets stuck in the sky. The other monks on the island shout at him to come back down, but he cannot move at all and tells them that he does not know what is happening. The infidels on the island come to realize that Şerīf is the cause, and they ask him to stop. Şerīf laughs at them and asks them to sink all the boats on the island. They comply and afterwards he asks for a sword, which they bring to him. Then, he asks questions about Christianity, Islam, and the prophets and later reveals his true identity as Sarı Saltuk. Afterwards, he asks them to convert to Islam. When the ruler refuses to convert, they fight each other. At the end of the episode, Saltuk defeats or kills those who did not respond to his call.23 The second episode is as follows: when Şerīf enters a castle, he sees a church close to its gate. He enters the church, and the people inside ask him where he is from. Şerīf replies that he is the son of a clergyman from Serbia. Then he asks for more people to gather in the church in order to hold a discussion on Christianity. Three hundred monks and the clergy gather in the church. Everyone is enraptured by his words. Afterwards, Şerīf goes to the lectern, preaches, and comments on the Gospels. All the people in the church burst into tears, and they become ecstatic. Next, he approaches the patriarch and the king and kisses their hands. Şerīf then says: ‘I saw Īsā Mesīḥ ( Jesus Christ) in my dream last night, and he said to me: ‘“Baptize my people by using my donkey’s leg. Slap the back of their necks. Whoever you slap s/he will be the one who first enters paradise”’. As it so happens, the leg was being kept in a wooden box on the wall of the big church nearby. They bring it to Şerīf who then takes the leg and, as he is reciting from the Gospels loudly, bursts into tears. All the infidels around him also dissolve into tears. Then, Şerīf tells them that he goes up to the heavens and meets with Jesus Christ there. He 23 Ebū’l-ḫayr-ı Rūmī, Saltuk-nâme, ed. by Akalın, i, 69–73.

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tells them that if they do not believe him, he can prove it. He recites a prayer which was previously taught to him by a jinn. The jinn immediately appears and takes Şerīf with him up to the heavens. Then he descends back to earth. All the infidels around him who witness this say that they believe in him and ask him to speak to Jesus Christ for their sins to be forgiven. Many people gather around Şerīf. He slaps the back of their necks with the donkey’s leg so powerfully that their faces bleed, and some even lose their minds. He stays there for three days and, on the fourth day, he heads to Constantiniyye. On his way, he sees a castle. His fame preceding him, the people of the castle welcome him. They shout ‘Ayasu Dimitri’ (St Dimitrios), uncover their heads, and call him their holy saint. He baptizes these people with the leg and takes their goods.24 The episode continues on with a few more anecdotes about his encounters with different people from various Christian communities. Similar to the previous instances, Saltuk baptizes the people by slapping them so hard that their faces become covered in blood, and afterwards he takes their goods. Finally, one of the rulers recognizes him, and, while telling his son, Şerīf cries out that he is Sarı Saltuk, revealing finally his true identity. These two challenging episodes do not inform or instruct their audience about religious practices. However, through the disguise of Sarı Saltuk, the audience learns about — in the case of Muslims — and recalls — in the case of Christians — certain details regarding Christian traditions and beliefs. The flying monk who is stuck up in the sky, for example, suggests a humorous retelling of popular narratives among Christians, except in Saltuk’s version the aim differs.25 Likewise, to baptize people by using Jesus Christ’s donkey’s leg also seems to be a retelling of popular Christian narratives in the region, similarly to comical effect. As explained in The Jewish Study Bible, the portrayal of the Messiah in Zechariah 9. 9 has influenced the depiction of Jesus in the Gospels and later became prevalent:26 Lo, your king is coming to you. He is victorious, triumphant, Yet humble, riding on an ass, On a donkey foaled by a she-ass. Such details, rooted in the religious beliefs and popular stories of the counterpart, indicate that the identity of the narrator(s) and audience of the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme cannot easily and clearly be ascertained. Therefore, the disguise motif within the episodes allows the narrators to portray the Christian community in different ways, standing on the blurred realm between self and other.

24 Ebū’l-ḫayr-ı Rūmī, Saltuk-nâme, ed. by Akalın, i, 35–44. 25 For a discussion on the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme’s narrator(s), see the following section. 26 The Jewish Study Bible, ed. by Berlin and Brettler, pp. 1250 and 1259.

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Who is the Other? Some Remarks on the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme’s Audience and Narrator(s) It might be a truism to state that one must consider several overlapping factors in addressing the question of the audiences of literary works before the printing era. One factor that is especially relevant here is that of records, specifically those related to the oral and written circulation of works in particular regions. For example, in İsmail E. Erünsal’s studies, which focus on the tereke (inheritance) records of booksellers in different cities across Anatolia, one inheritance record from Istanbul (1503) distinguishes itself from another one from Edirne (1608) in terms of the content of the manuscripts.27 As Erünsal notes, the number of works focused on religious stories and epics in Edirne outnumbers those in other cities. Significantly, this bookshop carries a significant number of books on heroism, in multiple copies; a phenomenon which may be ascribed to the location of Edirne.28 Indeed, Edirne is an important city, for it was not only the former capital of the Ottomans it was also intimately linked to the Ottoman frontier cities in eastern Europe. In the second and third volumes of the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme, moreover, Edirne is referred to as ‘the heart of the ġāzīs’, and its superiority over Istanbul, which is depicted as the source of all wickedness, is explicitly emphasized. When Prince Cem ordered the narratives of Saltuk to be compiled into a book, his most likely aim was to promote heroism among the warriors in the frontier zones and to ensure their support in Edirne and its vicinity.29 If this is the case, these warriors seem to form the most significant group among the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme’s audience. There is now a rich corpus of secondary literature focusing on the frontier areas of the Ottoman Empire. These areas are described by scholars as ‘area of contact’, ‘cohabitation’, ‘physical mobility’, ‘ethnic fluidity’, ‘conversion’, ‘inclusion’, and ‘cooperation’.30 Therefore, to define ‘self ’ and ‘other’ in those areas is highly challenging due to the frequent changes in geographical settings, boundaries, power relations, frontier culture, and religious life through conversion and cohabitation. According to Cemal Kafadar, ‘empathy’ and ‘conciliation’ are two important elements if one’s aim is to ‘achieve victory over a rival’ in such an area.31 In a recent study, which addresses current historiography regarding conversion to Islam, Tijana Krstić points to the lack of research on the Ottoman Muslim community’s experience of conversion.

27 Tereke is the record of a deceased person and includes information about their identity and a detailed list of their inheritance. 28 Erünsal, Osmanlılarda Sahaflık, pp. 55–56 and 140. 29 For more information, see Kafadar, Between Two Worlds and Aydoğan, ‘An Analysis of the Saltukname’. 30 See Kafadar, Between Two Worlds and Aydoğan, ‘Creating an Ideal Self ’. 31 Kafadar, Between Two Worlds, pp. 63–74.

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She notes further that ‘the challenge that the absorption of non-Muslims and converts posed to the Ottoman Muslim community’ is a subject that needs to be studied. Accordingly, Krstić focuses on the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme and examines one of the episodes concerning conversion. In this episode, Sarı Saltuk fights a champion of the pope and the Christian king, the famous Alyon-ı Rūmī. When, unsurprisingly, Sarı Saltuk defeats Alyon-ı Rūmī, the latter converts to Islam, and Sarı Saltuk gives him a new Muslim name — Ilyās-ı Rūmī. Afterwards Ilyās-ı Rūmī becomes Sarı Saltuk’s best companion and warrior against the Christians.32 According to Krstić, in this episode, ‘the quick integration of the warrior […] against his former co-religionists’ is striking, and these narratives promote ‘the image of the quickly integrated convert’.33 Considering the analysis of this episode by Krstić as well as the studies on the frontier regions of the Ottomans, when we ask our previous question again, ‘who could “the other” for the audience of the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme be?’, the answer arises as follows: for some warriors in the frontier areas, the ‘other’ is their former co-religionists.

Cem Sultan and Sarı Saltuk: A Powerful Figure for the Sultan’s Political Message? Cem Sultan, third son of Mehmed II and younger brother of Bayezid II, lived an extraordinary and tragic life for a prince. His biography stands out as being one of the most intriguing life stories among other members of the Ottoman family, marked as it is by success, failure, and captivity. He was born in Edirne, and he spent his childhood in this significant former capital city of the Ottoman Empire until he was eleven. Edirne, thus, was not only the city where the idea of composing the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme occurred but is also the hometown of Prince Cem himself. Prince Cem was sent to Kastamonu as a provincial governor when he was eleven. After staying there for a while, he was first sent to Istanbul, then back to Rumelia. In 1473, when his father and brothers were fighting in an expedition against Uzun Hasan (d. 1478), he was in Edirne to safeguard Rumelia. Upon the death of his brother Mustafa (d. 1474), who was the governor of Karaman Province, he replaced him in this position. His father, Mehmed II, passed away in May 1481, and the two princes, Cem and Bayezid II, went to war over the succession to the throne. At that time, Bayezid II was the governor of Amasya, and, with the support of Cem’s rivals and the Janissaries, he was the first to reach Istanbul. Although Cem was supported by the troops from Karaman and some Turcoman tribes, his rivals were successful in blocking his

32 Here the name Ilyās is significant since, as noted above, Sarı Saltuk’s first name is given as Hızır (Khiḍr). Hence, their friendship implies the companionship between Khiḍr and Ilyās. 33 Krstić, ‘Conversion and Converts to Islam’.

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way, thus preventing him from reaching the capital. On his way to Istanbul, Cem arrived at Bursa. There, he declared his sovereignty, stamped his name on coinage, and had the khutbah (Friday sermon) read. He stayed in the city for eighteen days, but, in the end, his troops were defeated. After he lost the war, he first went to Konya. Then with his family and dependents, he fled to Cairo which was then under Mamluk rule. He tried to take back Konya in 1482, but he failed. Afterwards he went to Rhodes with his thirty men, hoping to go to Rumelia with the help of Pierre d’Aubusson (d. 1503), grand master of the knights of St John in Rhodes. He arrived at the island in July 1482. While Cem was hopeful about going back to Rumelia and continuing his fight for the Ottoman throne, d’Aubusson had plans of his own in mind; he broke his agreements with Cem and made two new, separate agreements with Bayezid II to detain Cem: the first was for a tax exemption and the second was for an annual payment which would be made to prevent Cem from posing a threat to the Ottoman throne. The amount paid by the Ottoman sultan was about 40,000 Venetian gold ducats annually. After these agreements, Cem became a very valuable hostage for the knights in Rhodes, the Venetians, and the European kingdoms and also a very powerful instrument against the Ottomans. Hence, the knights rejected Cem’s request to go to Rumelia and, instead, they secretly sent him to Nice in October 1482. During Cem’s captivity, Bayezid II kept sending his men, spies or ambassadors, to Europe to be sure that Cem was still not a threat to his sovereignty. When Cem was sent to Rome in 1489, Bayezid II worried again. Indeed, the pope was planning a crusade against the Ottomans by using the prestige of the Ottoman prince in captivity. Cem left Rome in 1495 and died in Castel Capuana, Naples, on 25 February of that year. Although some sources claim that he was poisoned by the pope, it is possible that he died from pneumonia. In his testament, Cem asked his death to be announced publicly so as to prevent any plans for a crusade, and he also asked Bayezid II to take his body back to Ottoman territory. His corpse was brought to Bursa in 1499 and buried near the tomb of his grandfather Murad II (d. 1451).34 As this brief information about Cem Sultan’s life reveals, he had a significant role in the history of the Ottoman dynasty as well as the political history of the Ottoman Empire, being at the centre of crucial events and diplomatic relations between the Ottomans and the European kingdoms. He was a powerful prince, supported by many groups under Ottoman rule, especially the Turcoman tribes. As his testament suggests, he was well aware of his charisma among his supporters and knew that it would continue until his death. Although he did not have an opportunity to rule over Ottoman lands after his father’s death, the European kingdoms used his power against Ottoman rule. In this game of power, the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme appears as a striking text to reflect on larger questions such as the influence of rulers on the content of popular 34 See Vatin, ‘Cem’; Şakiroğlu, ‘Cem Sultan’; İnalcık, ‘Djem’; and Lefort, Documents Grecs.

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narratives and how such narratives may be turned into powerful tools for the political message of a ruler, as the patron. The time in which the narratives of Sarı Saltuk were ordered to be written down by Prince Cem and were compiled and composed under the name of the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme coincides with the war against Ūzūn Ḥasan, the powerful rival of the Ottomans, and the final years of Cem’s father, Mehmed II. Being a strong and charismatic leader who was preparing to succeed to the throne after his father, the great conqueror of Constantinople, Cem was in urgent need of means by which to consolidate his own power among his supporters, who were, as discussed previously, mostly warriors and warrior dervishes, including recent converts to Islam. Accordingly, Sarı Saltuk in Cem Sultan’s Ṣaltuḳ-nāme appears as a powerful and charismatic figure who addresses his supporters and represents his political message.

Conclusion The Ṣaltuḳ-nāme is a compilation of various stories which were collected from numerous narrators within seven years. Therefore, although the final version of the main narrative was composed by a certain Ebū’l-ḫayr-i Rūmī for the Ottoman prince Cem, the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme cannot be regarded as a text composed by one single author. With its many authors and with the episodes dating back to earlier centuries, it emerges that the audiences of the episodes were a multi-cultural and multi-religious group who were from different times and regions. As the entire text was composed in the frontier areas, the Ottoman warriors in those regions are the main target audience for the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme. To understand the social and religious background of the people living on the frontiers, there is a pressing need for more studies on the history of conversion in Anatolia and the Balkans. The episodes which tell of the encounters of Saltuk with Christians suggest that both the narrators and audiences were familiar with Christian customs, daily life, and stories. Although some scholars find these episodes ahistorical because of the stereotypes they incorporate and the lack of details in religious practices, what I hope to have shown with such close readings is that, in fact, they do include information about Christianity, but as it pertains to their social life. Hence, like many texts, the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme reflects the social and cultural circumstances of its narrator(s) and audience. Along these lines, then, it should be noted here that the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme is not an instructional manual detailing the tenets and rituals of any religion, including Islam. Thus, the portrayals of the members of the other religion, in this case Christianity, are based on the most visible practices in social life in accordance with the other generic types the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme does evoke, such as epic, wondertale, and hagiography. Furthermore, the stereotypes, or the repetition of specific adjectives and descriptions of certain figures, is a typical feature of narratives

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which have been transmitted orally for centuries.35 Therefore, with repetitions and stereotypes, the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme is also in keeping with its nature as a collection of texts transmitted orally over a long period of time. As the frontier areas moved westwards, so too did the conversion stories in the frontier epic cycle in Anatolia, and, for as long as they maintained their function, they remained popular in the frontier regions. In the episodes analysed in this paper, the motif of disguise serves as a key with which to enter into Christian physical and spiritual domains. Therefore, through disguise, the narrators not only portray the Muslim hero as highly knowledgeable and smart, but they also create a space in which to talk about their religious counterparts. The circulation of these episodes for centuries suggests a link between the audience and Christianity not only as a rival but, for some, as a former religion. Therefore, the negation of Christians in amusing retellings of their well-known stories or their most visible social habits seem to be a distancing tactic for the converts from their former religion; it is a more relaxed, non-combative way to do so while promoting heroism and entertaining a wider audience. As for power relations, as a prince who needed the support of Ottoman warriors against his father and brother, the Ṣaltuḳ-nāme appears as a powerful tool since it embraces the frontier community and reflects the prince’s political message.

Bibliography Primary Sources The Battalname: An Ottoman Turkish Frontier Epic Wondertale: Introduction, Turkish Transcription, English Translation and Commentary, ed. by Yorgos Dedes, 2 vols (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, 1996) Danişmend-nâme: Critical Edition, Turkish Translation, Linguistic Analysis and Glossary, Facsimile, ed. by Necati Demir, 4 vols (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, 2002) Ebū’l-ḫayr-i Rūmī, Saltuk-nâme, ed. by Fahir İz, 7 vols (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 1974–1984) ———, Saltuk-nâme, ed. by Şükrü Haluk Akalın, 3 vols (Ankara: Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı Yayınları, 1987–1990) ———, ‘Sarı Saltık Becomes a Friend of God’, trans. by Ahmet T. Karamustafa, in Tales of God’s Friends – Islamic Hagiography in Translation, ed. by John Renard (London: University of California Press, 2009), pp. 136–44 The Jewish Study Bible, ed. by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014)

35 For a pioneering study on this subject, see Ong, Orality and Literacy.

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Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī ibn al-Sarrāj, Tuffâhu’l-Ervâh ve Miftâhu’l-İrbâh, ed. by Nejdet Gürkan, Mehmet Necmettin Bardakçı, and Mehmet Saffet Sarıkaya (İstanbul: Kitap Yayınevi, 2015) ———, Tuffāḥ al-arwāḥ wa miftāḥ al-arbāḥ (Princeton: Princeton University Library Online) [accessed 29 September 2019] Secondary Sources Akalın, Şükrü Haluk, ‘Ebülhayr Rûmî’, TDV İslâm Ansiklopedisi, 10 (1994), 360–62 Aydoğan, Zeynep, ‘An Analysis of the Saltukname in Its Fifteenth Century Context’ (Unpublished MA thesis, Boğaziçi University, 2007) ———, ‘Creating an Ideal Self: Representations of Infidels in the Late Medieval Anatolian Frontier Narratives’, Osmanlı Araştırmaları/The Journal of Ottoman Studies, XL (2012), 101–19 ———, ‘Changing Perceptions along the Frontiers: The Moving Frontier with Rum in Late Medieval Anatolian Frontier Narratives’, in Living in the Ottoman Realm: Empire and Identity, 13th to 20th Centuries, ed. by Christine IsomVerhaaren and Kent F. Schull (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016), pp. 29–41 Darling, Linda, ‘Contested Territory: Ottoman Holy War in Comparative Context’, Studia Islamica, 91 (2000), 133–63 Erünsal, İsmail, Osmanlılarda Sahaflık ve Sahaflar (İstanbul: Timaş Yayınları, 2013), pp. 55–56 Hasluck, F. W. Christianity and Islam under the Sultans (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1929) İnalcık, Halil, ‘Djem’, in Encyclopedia of Islam, ed. by Peri Bearman, Thierry Bianquis, Clifford Edmund Bosworth, Emeri Johannes van Donzel, and Wolfhart P. Heinrichs, 2nd edn. Kafadar, Cemal, Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995) ———, ‘A Rome of One’s Own: Reflections on Cultural Geography and Identity in the Lands of Rum’, Muqarnas, 24 (2007), 7–25 Karamustafa, Ahmet T., ‘Islamisation through the Lens of the Saltuk-name’, in Islam and Christianity in Medieval Anatolia, ed. by Andrew Charles Spencer Peacock, Brune De Nicola, and Sara Nur Yıldız (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015), pp. 349–64 Kocaer, Sibel, ‘The Journey of an Ottoman Warrior Dervish: The Hızırname (Book of Khidr): Sources and Reception’ (Unpublished doctoral dissertation, SOAS, London University, 2015) Krstić, Tijana, ‘Conversion and Converts to Islam in Ottoman Historiography of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries’, in Writing History at the Ottoman Court: Editing the Past, Fashioning the Future, ed. by H. Erdem Çıpa and Emine Fetvacı (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013), pp. 58–79

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Kuru, Selim S., ‘The Literature of Rum: The Making of a Literary Tradition (1450– 1600)’, in The Cambridge History of Turkey, ed. by Suraiya N. Faroqhi and Kate Fleet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), pp. 548–92 Lefort, Jacques, Documents Grecs Dans Les Archives de Topkapı Sarayı / Topkapı Sarayı Arşivlerinin Yunanca Belgeleri, trans. by Hatice Gonnet (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Basımevi, 1981) Lowry, Heath, The Nature of the Early Ottoman State (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2003) Norris, Harry T. Popular Sufism of Eastern Europe: Sufi Brotherhoods and the Dialogue with Christianity and ‘Heterodoxy’ (London: Routledge, 2006) Ocak, Ahmet Yaşar, İslam-Türk İnançlarında Hızır yahut Hızır-İlyas Kültü (İstanbul: Kabalcı Yayınları, 2007) ———, Sarı Saltık: Popüler İslam’ın Balkanlardaki Destanî Öncüsü (XIII. Yüzyıl) (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Yayınları, 2011) Ong, Walter, Orality and Literacy (London: Routledge, 2002) Özbaran, Salih, Bir Osmanlı Kimliği: 14.-17. Yüzyıllarda Rûm/Rumî Aidiyet ve İmgeleri (İstanbul: Kitap Yayınevi, 2004) Öztürk, Eyüp, Velilik ile Delilik Arasında, Ibnu’s-Serrâc’ın Gözünden Muvelleh Dervişler (İstanbul: Kitap Yayınevi, 2013) Şakiroğlu, Mahmut, ‘Cem Sultan’, Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı İslâm Ansiklopedisi, 7 (1993), 283–284 Shankland, David, ed., Archaeology, Anthropology and Heritage in the Balkans and Anatolia: The Life and Times of F. W. Hasluck, 2 vols (Istanbul: The ISIS Press, 2013) Tekin, Şinasi, ‘XIV. Yüzyılda Yazılmış Gazilik Tarikası “Gaziliğin Yolları” Adlı Eski Bir Anadolu Türkçesi Metni’, Journal of Turkish Studies/Türklük Bilgisi Araştırmaları, 13 (1989), pp. 139–204 ———, ‘Türk Dünyasında Gaza ve Cihad Kavramları Üzerine Düşünceler (Başlangıcından Fetret Devrine Kadar)’, in İştikakçının Köşesi (İstanbul: Simurg Yayınları, 2001), pp. 151–97 Vatin, Nicolas, ‘Cem’, in Encyclopedia of Islam, THREE, ed. by Kate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, and Everett Rowson. Wensinck, Arent Jan, ‘al-Khidr’, Encyclopedia of Islam, Second Edition (Leiden: Brill, 1960–2007), iv, 902–05 Wittek, Paul, The Rise of the Ottoman Empire: Studies in the History of Turkey, 13th15th Centuries, ed. by Colin Heywood (Oxon: Routledge, 2012)


Fabrizio Petorella

Power and Prophecy in Late Antique Hagiography The Life of Saint Daniel the Stylite

In this paper, I will deal with the political meaning of the Life of Saint Daniel the Stylite,1 a late fifth-century hagiography,2 by focusing on the relationship between earthly and spiritual power. Its protagonist, Daniel (409–493), is a hermit who, thanks to his prophetic skills, becomes a relevant figure in Constantinopolitan political life. My aim is to reconstruct the well-defined concept of authority which emerges from Daniel’s prophecies in the Life, paying particular attention to the rhetorical devices used by the saint. The Life begins with a premonitory dream: the birth of the saint is announced to his mother, Martha, a pious woman who had been childless for a long time.3 On the surface, it appears to have no political content. This may come as a surprise to the reader who is familiar with the protagonist’s fame, especially once he or she becomes accustomed to the way in which the Life articulates the influence Daniel the Stylite wields over imperial power. However, the novice reader, at this point, may be unequipped to grasp fully the significance of the dream; the anonymous hagiographer will explain only later that the two heavenly, great circular lights, which Martha sees in her vision, symbolize Emperor Leo (d. 474) and his wife, who will come one day and pay homage to her son.4 The royal visit is related to another prophecy; only this prophecy is now given by a full-grown Daniel to the emperor. Fifty-six years after Martha’s dream, 1 Sancti Danielis Stylitae Vita antiquior, ed. by Delehaye, pp. 1–94 is the edition I will use throughout this paper. Delehaye distinguishes between two redactions of the vita but considers the second part of the work (including the passages which I analyse) a unitary text: Delehaye, Les Saints Stylites, pp. xxxv–xli. On this distinction, cf. also Déroche and Lesieur, ‘Notes d’hagiographie byzantine’, pp. 286–90. 2 On the dating of the work, cf. Lane Fox, ‘The Life of Daniel’, p. 208. 3 Sancti Danielis Stylitae Vita antiquior, ed. by Delehaye, § 2. 4 Sancti Danielis Stylitae Vita antiquior, ed. by Delehaye, § 46. Fabrizio Petorella  •  ([email protected]; [email protected]) is a doctoral student in Late Antique Philology at Università degli Studi Roma Tre, en cotutelle with the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris. Narrating Power and Authority in Late Antique and Medieval Hagiography across East and West, ed. by Ghazzal Dabiri, FABULAE 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2021) pp. 183-196 © FHG10.1484/M.FABULAE-EB.5.122499

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Daniel is the famous Syrian anchorite living atop a column in the vicinity of Constantinople. Leo, who did not care for Daniel’s catastrophic predictions, visits the holy man in 465 to apologize after a great fire had destroyed parts of the city.5 The encounter marks a turning point in the relationship between the emperor and the saint, especially since it is the first instance in which a ruler pays reverence to Daniel. Indeed, the holy man soon becomes counsellor both to Leo and his son-in-law and successor, Zeno (d. 491). The first time Daniel offers them his prophecies is when Genseric (c. 389–477), the king of the Vandals and the Alani, is planning to attack Alexandria. Leo sends an imperial bodyguard to inform Daniel about the situation and the emperor’s intention to dispatch an army to Egypt. In response, the saint foretells the defeat of the Arian enemies: Περὶ τούτου μὴ ἀθύμει· λέγει γάρ σοι δι’ ἐμοῦ τοῦ ἁμαρτολοῦ ὁ Θεὸς ὅτι Γηζήριχος τὴν Ἀλεξάνδρου πόλιν οὐ βλέπει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα οὔτε τις τῶν αὐτοῦ· εἰ δὲ βούλει ἀποστέλλειν ἐξέρκετον, τοῦτο ἐν τῇ σῇ γνῶμῃ ἔστω, ὁ δὲ Θεός, ῷ λατρεύω, καὶ τὴν εὐσέβειαν ὑμῶν ἄθλιπτον διαφυλάξει καὶ τοὺς ἀποστελλομένους ἐνισχύσει κατὰ τῶν ἐχθρῶν τῆς βασιλείας.6 Do not be troubled about this, for God sends word to you through me, a sinner, that neither Genseric nor any of his [people] will ever see the city of Alexandria; but if you wish to send an army that is a matter for you to decide; the God, Whom I adore, will both preserve your Piety unhurt and will strengthen those who are sent against the enemies of the Empire.7 More than just a political counsellor, Daniel is a mediator between God and the pious emperor, par excellence, Leo. His short speech opens and ends with the reassurance that Genseric will not conquer Alexandria.8 Despite the fact that he announces himself as a sinner (ἁμαρτωλός), Daniel’s words are a pure expression of divine will. The authority of the saint is subtly underlined by how he articulates his role: his task is not to make warlike decisions but rather to empower the ruler and buttress his choices through spiritual authority. At the core of Daniel’s captatio benevolentiae (fishing for good will) is the admission that military power resides exclusively in the emperor’s hands: the holy man emphasizes that he is not influencing the ruler. Still, as we will see below, the Emperor of the Christian East needs support from a poor Syriac-speaking sinner who is illuminated by God.

5 For a description of the damages caused by this fire, cf. Kaldellis, ‘The Forum of Constantine’. 6 Sancti Danielis Stylitae Vita antiquior, ed. by Delehaye, § 56. 7 The Life and Works of our Holy Father, St Daniel the Stylite, trans. by Dawes and Baynes, p. 40, with adjustments. 8 On the unsuccessful earlier phase of the war, completely omitted by the biographer, cf. Lane Fox, ‘The Life of Daniel’, pp. 190–91.

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A similar episode is articulated when Daniel hears Zeno’s name for the first time:9 unidentified Barbarians are bringing chaos to Thrace. Before sending his son-in-law there as magister militum (commander-in-chief), Leo pays a visit to the saint and begs him to pray for Zeno. Daniel summarizes in a rather laconic prophecy how the future emperor must conduct himself: Ἔχων μεθ’ ἑαυτοῦ τὴν ἁγίαν Τριάδα καὶ τὸ ἀκαταμάχητον ὅπλον τοῦ ἁγίου σταυροῦ ἀβλαβὴς ἐπανέρχεται· ἐπιβουλὴν δὲ ἕξει καὶ θλιβήσεται πρὸς μικρόν· ἀλλ’ ἀνεπηρέαστος διασωθήσεται.10 As he has the holy Trinity and the invincible weapon of the Holy Cross on his side he will return unharmed. However, a plot will be formed against him and he will be sorely troubled for a short time, but he shall come back without injury.11 Judging from Leo’s reply (‘Is it possible, I beg you, for [anyone] to survive a war without some labour and trouble?’),12 the emperor gives considerable weight to the second part of the prediction, namely, that Zeno will come back without injury. Leo cannot be blamed if his main interest lies in this information, for it is why he came to the saint. Nonetheless, in the episode’s rhetorical construction, the first sentence is particularly striking. It functions as a condicio sine qua non (indispensable condition): if Zeno wants to return safe and sound and wishes to win the campaign against political and religious barbarism, he needs to follow the basic principles of Christianity, namely, paying respect to and venerating the Trinity and the Holy Cross. Since the prediction will come true, Daniel’s message is clear: he is the true guide, the holy man able to reveal to the emperor divine will. For context, it would behove us to recall the religious background against which these political predictions are pronounced. The enemies of the empire are, here, viewed as the enemies of Orthodoxy and, consequently, of God. Accordingly, Arian Vandals cannot conquer Alexandria because of their heresy. The situation is presented as a simple, dualistic struggle between a refined pious empire and a barbarian blasphemous opponent. In a post-Chalcedonian context, however, the reality was certainly far more complex. The conflict between Orthodoxy and Monophysitism spilled out of the churches and flowed into the throne room. Furthermore, during his second reign, Zeno will base his religious policy on the Ἐνωτικόν (act of union), thus creating a

9 In all likelihood, Zeno’s accession was already predicted by the saint in Sancti Danielis Stylitae Vita antiquior, ed. by Delehaye, § 53. On that prophecy, enigmatic enough to be obscure to Daniel himself, cf. Lane Fox, ‘The Life of Daniel’, p. 205. 10 Sancti Danielis Stylitae Vita antiquior, ed. by Delehaye, § 65. 11 The Life and Works of our Holy Father, St Daniel the Stylite, trans. by Dawes and Baynes, p. 47. 12 The Life and Works of our Holy Father, St Daniel the Stylite, trans. by Dawes and Baynes, p. 47, with adjustments.


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third faction.13 But the hagiographer’s and his audience’s orientation is not easy to define. Robin Lane Fox developed the intriguing hypothesis that ‘the apparent simplicity of the Life’s theology may conceal its author’s considered support for unity’.14 Though supported by Vincent Déroche and Bénédicte Lesieur,15 the argument has been questioned recently by Rafał Kosiński, who suggests that the biographer may be a moderate Chalcedonian.16 Though time and space preclude a detailed discussion here, I would like to call special attention to the following two points which are particularly relevant to my analysis: firstly, the author of the Life clearly rejects Monophysitism. Secondly, he considers religious controversies vain. Even though Zeno’s fame is linked to attempts at reconciliation with the Monophysite Church, the biographer never mentions this policy. The omission begs the question: why? A possible solution to this literary problem can be found in the Life itself. It is clear, even from a cursory reading of the work, that, according to the author, the Lord protects and supports the legitimate ruler, who, being the leader of God’s people, must be portrayed as the guardian of Orthodoxy.17 Consequently, as enemies of a divinely willed state, the emperor’s opponents are not different from heretics. The episode regarding the treacherous plot against Zeno, expertly foretold by Daniel, is introduced by a meaningful sentence: Τῶν δὲ Ῥομαϊκῶν πραγμάτων βουλήσει Θεοῦ καλῶς διοικουμένων καὶ τῆς πολιτείας ἡσυχαζούσης ἐν καταστάσει καὶ τῶν ἁγίων ἐκκλησιῶν ἐν εἰρήνῃ καὶ ὁμονοίᾳ διαγόντων, ὁ ἀεὶ φθονερὸς καὶ βάσκανος διάβολος μῖσος ἄδικον ἐνέσπειρεν εἰς τὰς ψυχὰς τῶν δῆθεν συγγενῶν τοῦ βασιλέως Ζήνωνος, λέγω δὴ Βασιλίσκον καὶ Ἀρμάτον καὶ Μαρκιανὸν καὶ λοιποὺς τῆς συγκλήτου.18 The Roman government was being well administered by the will of God, and the State was enjoying a time of quiet and order, and the holy churches were living in peace and unity, when the ever envious and malignant Devil sowed seeds of unjust hatred in the hearts of some who claimed to be the Emperor Zeno’s kinsmen, I mean Basiliscus, Armatus and Marcianus and some other senators.19 The premise underlying Daniel’s statement is of paramount importance: the empire is the earthly representation of Heaven, ruled by godly harmony. The order of the clauses clearly illuminates this point. The opening hierarchical

13 On the Ἐνωτικόν (‘act of union’), see Kosiński, The Emperor Zeno, pp. 125–45. 14 Lane Fox, ‘The Life of Daniel’, p. 208. 15 Déroche and Lesieur, ‘Notes d’hagiographie byzantine’, pp. 283–86. 16 Kosiński, Holiness and Power, pp. 121–22. This opinion is shared by Laniado, ‘Some Problems in the Sources’, pp. 167–68. 17 Cf. Kaplan, ‘L’espace et le sacré’, p. 214 n. 78. 18 Sancti Danielis Stylitae Vita antiquior, ed. by Delehaye, § 68. 19 The Life and Works of our Holy Father, St Daniel the Stylite, trans. by Dawes and Baynes, p. 48.

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ordering, or rhetorical anticlimax, (Roman government, state, churches) suggests a subtle political message: only the proper administration of the Roman government can bring about the unity of the Church. A wise ruler always governs ‘by the will of God’ (βουλήσει Θεοῦ). Next, there is a rigorous application of Pauline political doctrine: if ‘there is no authority except from God’,20 then every opposition to established power is a devilish sin. In fact, the conspiracy cannot be explained without Satan’s treacherous activity.21 Thus, embedded in the statement is another premise: the pious man who wants to reject the Devil must recognize Daniel’s sanctity and respect legitimate earthly authority. The parallelism is evident: like the protagonist of the Life, Zeno is a man chosen by God, and, acting against him, the legitimate holder of power, is unjust. Returning to the biographer’s religious orientation, I suggest that the Life’s seemingly uncomplicated theology betokens a political ideal: God’s chosen ruler must always be supported. Orthodoxy and legitimacy are two sides of the same coin. The immediately following prophecy is an illustrative example of the political optimism which pervades the work. When Zeno becomes aware of the conspiracy against him, he confides the matter to the holy man and receives calm reassurance: Μὴ λυπηρὸν ἔστω ἐνώπιόν σου περὶ τούτου· δεῖ γὰρ πάντα τὰ προωρισμένα ἐν σοὶ πληρωθῆναι· ἐκ γὰρ τῆς βασιλείας σε ἐκδιώξωσιν· καὶ ἐν ᾧ τόπῳ διασωθῇς, θλιβήσῃ, ὥστε ἐν τῇ ὑστερήσει σου τὴν χλόην τῆς γῆς μεταλαβεῖν σε. Ἀλλὰ μὴ ἀθυμήσῃς· δεῖ γὰρ σὲ ἄλλον Ναβουχοδονόσορ εὑρεθῆναι· οἱ γὰρ νῦν σε ἀπωθούμενοι αὐτοὶ πάλιν τοῦ καιροῦ πληρουμένου ἐν σοὶ ἐπιζητήσαντες ἀνακαλέσονταί σε· καὶ εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν σου ἐπανέλθῃς καὶ τιμὴ καὶ δόξα περισσοτέρα προστεθήσεταί σοι καὶ ἐν αὐτῇ τελειωθήσῃ. Εὐχαρίστως οὖν φέρε· δεῖ γὰρ ταῦτα γενέσθαι οὕτως.22 Do not let yourself be troubled about this; for all things that have been foreordained must be accomplished upon you. They will chase you out of the kingdom, and in the place where you find a refuge, you will be in such distress that in your need you will partake of the grass of the earth. But do not lose heart; for it is necessary that you should become a second Nebuchadnezzar, and those who are now expelling you, having felt the lack of you, will recall you in the fullness of time. You will return to your Empire, and more honour and glory shall be added unto you and you shall die in it. Therefore bear all with gratitude; for thus must these things be.23 20 Romans 13. 1., trans. New American Standard Bible. 21 Such a topos is already known to the reader: when other monks report Daniel’s supposed heresy to the Patriarch, the biographer attributes their behaviour to a demonic temptation (Sancti Danielis Stylitae Vita antiquior, ed. by Delehaye, § 17 and § 19; cf. also § 39). 22 Sancti Danielis Stylitae Vita antiquior, ed. by Delehaye, § 68. 23 The Life and Works of our Holy Father, St Daniel the Stylite, trans. by Dawes and Baynes, p. 48.


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This prediction echoes the language of and is thusly linked to a very specific passage of the Book of Daniel:24 Nebuchadnezzar, the famous king of Babylon, has a dream and needs the prophet Daniel to interpret it for him. The similarity between the two anecdotes and the allusions to the Book of Daniel are evident.25 Indeed, the reference to Zeno as a ‘second Nebuchadnezzar’ later in the passage makes the prophecy clear: in the Book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar is guilty of pride and deserves God’s punishment. He dreams of an angelic watcher who commands the cutting down of a tall robust tree, leaving the stump with its roots in the ground. The hesitant prophet, Daniel, explains that the ruler will be driven away from mankind, dwell with the beasts, eat grass like cattle, and be drenched with dew. This savage condition will last seven periods of time, until the king recognizes ‘that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes’.26 The explicit reference to Nebuchadnezzar in the Life strengthens the biblical allusion, even as an educated Christian reader would have recognized the quotation by the opening words. The political message of the Life is, thus, doubly strengthened — by name and allusion. The purpose of such a rhetorical construction is twofold. Firstly, the biographer demonstrates that the emperor’s authority is necessarily subordinated to divine will, according to what God himself said through the voice of Daniel’s biblical namesake. Secondly, he rewrites history, offering an anti-Monophysite-oriented account of the events. Indeed, the reader will soon clearly discover that Basiliscus (d. c. 476)’s reign accordingly was a dark period for Eastern Christianity since he supported Monophysitism; the prophecy precedes the account of the sins committed by the heretic ruler. Daniel’s prediction warns the true emperor, and the reader, against any doubt: pain is certainly part of God’s plan, according to which Basiliscus will soon lose the throne. But, does Zeno deserve punishment for sins committed? Though the text does not mention Zeno’s ‘sins’, as it does for the usurper, his religious sympathies had to be well known, even before the conspiracy, due to his support of Peter the Fuller (d. 488), the controversial patriarch of Antioch who favoured Monophysitism.27 Does the parallelism with 24 The ancient prophet is often, either tacitly or overtly, mentioned in the Life, as the protagonist was named after him (Sancti Danielis Stylitae Vita antiquior, ed. by Delehaye, § 3). 25 The verb ἐκδιώξουσιν (chase away, persecute), which introduces the expulsion of the ruler in the Old Testament and in the Life, and the reference to Zeno’s nourishment dispel any doubt. Delehaye prefers the form ἐκδιώξωσιν, but the variant ἐκδιώξουσιν is witnessed by the manuscripts O, P, and V (cf. Delehaye, Les Saints Stylites, p. 66). 26 New American Standard Bible, Daniel, Theod. 4. 25. In the same chapter, similar admonitions are pronounced by the angelic watcher (Daniel, Theod. 4. 17) and by God (Daniel, Theod. 4. 32). 27 For a detailed analysis of this question, cf. Kosiński, ‘Peter the Fuller’, pp. 60–63. Even though Kosiński thinks that the generally assumed close relationship between Zeno and Peter the Fuller has been deliberately overstated by Theodore Lector, the author of the Life and his audience seemingly had no reason to doubt the historicity of this version of events.

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Nebuchadnezzar conceal a cursory allusion to Emperor Zeno’s religious policy, perhaps comparable to the ‘walking in pride’ which caused the biblical king’s punishment?28 It is an intriguing but unprovable hypothesis. However, the saint opens and concludes his speech with reassuring words, thus creating a sort of Ringkomposition, or ring pattern, which underlines the main message: God is with Zeno, so he must bear all sufferings without any fear. Returning to our text, the new emperor, Basiliscus, soon becomes embroiled in a conflict with Orthodox Christianity. Archbishop Acacius (d. 489) orders all the churches to be draped as a sign of mourning and, in his speech to the crowds, proclaims that the time of martyrdom is at hand. In such desperate conditions, Basiliscus tries to obtain a blessing from Daniel, the former political counsellor of Leo and Zeno. But in response to the ineffective prayers of Basiliscus’s cubicularius (imperial chamberlain), the holy man offers the first negative prediction in the Life: Ἄξιος εὐλογίας οὐχ ὑπάρχεις, ἰυδαϊκὸν φρόνημα ἀναλαβὼν καὶ ἐνυβρίζων τὴν ἐνανθρώπησιν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ ταράσσων τὴν ἁγίαν αὐτοῦ ἐκκλησίαν καὶ τοὺς ἱερεῖς αὐτοῦ ἀθετῶν· γέγραπται γάρ· Μὴ βάλλετε τὰ ἅγια τοῖς κυσὶν μηδὲ τοὺς μαργαρίτας ὑμῶν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν χοίρων. Γνῶτι οὖν καὶ ἴδε, ὅτι ὁ Θεὸς ἐν τάχει διαρρήσσων διαρρήξει τὴν τυραννικήν σου βασιλείαν ἐκ χειρῶν σου29 You are not worthy of a blessing for you have adopted Jewish ideas and are setting at nought the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ and upsetting the Holy Church and despising His priests. For it is written, ‘Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine’ (Matthew 7. 6). Know therefore and see, for the God Who rendeth swiftly will surely rend your tyrannous royalty out of your hands.30 The prophecy given to Basiliscus is the converse of the one given to Zeno. Basiliscus’s defeat is unavoidable: the ruler is an impious sinner, and his punishment is undeniably just. Thus, biblical references assume a new meaning. For instance, the phrase ‘the God Who rendeth swiftly will surely rend your tyrannous royalty out of your hands’, modified from the Old Testament,31 emphasizes the usurper’s fault and introduces another biblical king, namely, Solomon. Since Basiliscus despised sacred things, thus violating a precept

28 New American Standard Bible, Daniel, Theod. 4. 37. 29 Sancti Danielis Stylitae Vita antiquior, ed. by Delehaye, § 71. 30 The Life and Works of our Holy Father, St Daniel the Stylite, trans. by Dawes and Baynes, pp. 49–50. 31 The saint’s words repeat almost ad litteram the biblical prediction pronounced by God in I Kings 11. 11: διαρρήξω τὴν βασιλείαν σου ἐκ χειρός σου καὶ δώσω αὐτὴν τῷ δούλῳ σου (I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant, trans. New American Standard Bible). A similar prediction is in I Kings 11. 31.



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established by Christ himself, he deserves to be punished like Solomon, who offended the Lord by worshipping the foreign gods of his wives and concubines. This reference reconstructs an apocalyptic sense of divine judgement, accentuated by the events which occur immediately afterwards: obedient to God’s order, Daniel comes down from the pillar and goes to Constantinople. Nonetheless, the letter, which the saint writes here ‘both by way of counsel and of blame’ to Basiliscus, is ineffective. As in the case of the aforementioned prediction, the ruler refuses to meet Daniel in person, but the saint’s words, reported by two guardsmen and a legal secretary, are alarming: Οἱ δολεροὶ καὶ ἀπατηλοί σου λόγοι οὐκ ἰσχύσουσιν ἀπατῆσαι τὴν ἐμὴν εὐτέλειαν· σὺ γὰρ οὐδὲν ἕτερον σπεύδεις ἢ θησαυρίζειν ἑαυτῷ ὀργὴν ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ὀργῆς· οὐ γάρ ἐστιν ἐν σοὶ καρπὸς ἀγαθῶν ἔργων· ὅθεν διὰ τάχους στιβαρώσει ὁ Θεὸς ἐν σοὶ τὴν ὀργὴν αὐτοῦ, ἵνα γνῷς, ὅτι κυριεύει ὁ ὕψιστος τῆς βασιλείας τῶν ἀνθρώπων καὶ δώσει αὐτὴν τῷ ἀγαθῷ ὑπὲρ σέ.32 Your words of guile and deceit will not avail to deceive my unworthiness, for you are doing nothing but ‘treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath’ (Romans 2. 5); for in you there is no fruit of good works; wherefore God will shortly confirm his wrath upon you that you may know that ‘the Most High ruleth over the kingdom of men’ (Daniel, Theod. 5. 21) and will give it to the good man in preference to you (cf. I Samuel 15. 28).33 This sequence of biblical quotations accentuates an atmosphere of martyrdom established by the initial reference to Basiliscus as a ‘second Diocletian’ (νέος Διοκλητιανὸς).34 It also allows the reader to fully understand the meaning of the carefully constructed prediction, as the biblical passages would have been familiar to most educated readers. First, the quotation from Paul is a harsh reproach against the man who thinks he can escape God’s judgement. Second, the arrogant usurper is presented as one who turns away from another pronouncement, ‘there is no authority except from God’, which appears in the Letter to the Romans as well. The citation from the Book of Daniel is identical to the Old Testament statement quoted in the aforementioned prophecy offered to Zeno.35 Furthermore, the words of the First Book of Samuel: διέρρηξεν κύριος τὴν βασιλείαν Ἰσραήλ ἐκ χειρός σου σήμερον καὶ δώσει αὐτὴν τῷ πλησίον σου τῷ ἀγαθῷ ὑπὲρ σέ (The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you36) are a clear source

Sancti Danielis Stylitae Vita antiquior, ed. by Delehaye, § 76. The Life and Works of our Holy Father, St Daniel the Stylite, trans. by Dawes and Baynes, p. 54. Sancti Danielis Stylitae Vita antiquior, ed. by Delehaye, § 73. Actually, Delehaye, Les Saints Stylites, p. 74 and The Life and Works of our Holy Father, St Daniel the Stylite, trans. by Dawes and Baynes, p. 54, refer to Daniel, Theod. 5. 21, evidently because this passage adds the words ὁ Θεὸς which also appear in manuscript P. 36 New American Standard Bible, I Samuel 15. 28.

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for the aforementioned prediction about Solomon’s throne: διαρρήξω τὴν βασιλείαν σου ἐκ χειρός σου καὶ δώσω αὐτὴν τῷ δούλῳ σου (I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant).37 These biblically-styled internal cross-references are intended to recall the premises of Daniel’s political discourse. The reader is guided step by step to the conclusion. The verdict against the usurper is not only due to his heretical theological ideas. Basiliscus refuses to recognize divine will, despising a political theory which, through the voice of ancient prophets, comes from God. His sin is, above all, a political sin. Before his defeat, Basiliscus is compelled to recognize God’s authority. Bending to Daniel’s will, he sets out at the head of a solemn procession to the cathedral. Here, both the usurper and Patriarch Acacius fall at the holy man’s feet in the presence of all the people.38 The humiliation is sanctioned by a public proclamation: the imperial secretary mounts the pulpit and, before the crowd, declares loyalty to the Orthodox cause.39 As Kosiński notes, this is ‘a complete reversal of the Roman Empire’s long-established order’.40 But this is also the spectacular failure of a man who tried to rule the empire without regard to God’s will. Put another way, Basiliscus’s conversion to Orthodoxy is not only a religious conversion; it is a political one. In any case, it is too late. After returning to the top of the column and resuming his daily ascetic practice, Daniel summons an inner circle of priests, monks, and other followers and foretells the usurper’s final defeat: ‘Οὐ προθέσει ὁ λυμεὼν τὴν πρὸς ἡμᾶς εἰρήνην ἔδοξεν ποιεῖν· μακροθυμήσατε οὖν, καὶ ἐν τάχει ὄψεσθε τὴν δόξαν τοῦ Θεοῦ· οὐ γὰρ παρίδῃ Κύριος τὴν θλίψιν τῶν δούλων αὐτοῦ καὶ τῶν ἁγίων ἐκκλησιῶν’. Τούτων οὕτως βουλήσει Θεοῦ τελεσθέντων, οὐ μετὰ πολὺν χρόνον ἐπανῆκεν ὁ βασιλεὺς Ζήνων σὺν τῇ αὐτοῦ γυναικὶ καὶ βασιλίδι καὶ ἐκ βασιλέων τεχθείσῃ Ἀριάδνῃ. Καὶ λοιπὸν αἱ ἁγιώταται ἐκκλησίαι ἐν πολλῇ εὐφροσύνῃ ὑπῆρχον καὶ ἡ πολιτεία ἐλαμπρύνετο καὶ ἡ Ῥωμαϊκὴ κατάστασις ἐκραταιοῦτο.41 ‘It was not with honesty of purpose that the persecutor appeared to make peace with us; be patient therefore and you will soon see the glory of God; for the Lord will not overlook the affliction of His servants and His holy churches’. And thus it was accomplished by the will of God, for after a short time Zeno, the Emperor, returned with his wife, the Empress Ariadne, the daughter of royal parents. Thenceforth the holy churches rested in much contentment and the State grew glorious and the Roman government waxed in strength.42 37 New American Standard Bible, I Kings 11. 11 (see footnote 31). In the First Book of Samuel, these words are directed at Saul, who, during a war, did not follow God’s orders. 38 Sancti Danielis Stylitae Vita antiquior, ed. by Delehaye, § 83. 39 Sancti Danielis Stylitae Vita antiquior, ed. by Delehaye, § 84. 40 Kosiński, Holiness and Power, p. 159. 41 Sancti Danielis Stylitae Vita antiquior, ed. by Delehaye, § 85. 42 The Life and Works of our Holy Father, St Daniel the Stylite, trans. by Dawes and Baynes, p. 59.


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Basiliscus’s sin is so grave that the holy man does not believe the ruler’s conversion is genuine: he is not the legitimate ruler, therefore he cannot be an Orthodox ruler. The legitimate emperor regains his throne and, thus, the empire may be described once again as the earthly representation of Heaven. Surprisingly, the previous hierarchical rhetorical anticlimax (Roman government, state, churches) is now reversed: churches precede political institutions. In this way, the biographer focuses on Zeno’s new role. Unlike Basiliscus, the legitimate emperor, Zeno, demonstrated his submission to divine authority, even accepting the coup and the exile. He passed his test, and now he is allowed to return to Constantinople. In other words, like Nebuchadnezzar,43 he recognizes that all power derives from God. The next prediction appears after a few chapters regarding Daniel’s activity as a miracle-worker:44 διεμαρτύρατο […] πίστεως μὲν γὰρ ἕνεκα τῆς περὶ Θεὸν καὶ εὐποιιῶν ἱκανὴν ἔχειν αὐτὸν παρὰ Θεῷ παρρησίαν· χρὴ τοίνυν ἔμφρονα ὄντα πάσης μὲν ἀπέσχεσθαι πλεονεξίας, βίῳ δὲ εὐσχήμονι διαπρέπειν καὶ πάντας συκοφάντας ἀποστρέφεσθαι πᾶσί τε τοῖς εἰς αὐτὸν ἡμαρτηκόσιν μεταδοῦναι φιλανθρωπίας· οὐδενὶ γὰρ ἄλλῳ ἀρέσκεται Θεὸς ὡς ἀμνησικακίᾳ καὶ ἡμερότητι.45 He told Zeno that owing to his faith in God and his good deeds he might have full confidence when he came into the presence of God; but he must be mindful to abstain from all covetousness, and he must excel in the good ordering of his life and banish all informers and treat with generosity all those who had sinned against him; for by nothing is God better pleased than by forgiveness and gentleness.46 Death is imminent, but, as in the case of his expulsion, the emperor has nothing to fear because God is with him. There is an important difference though. Daniel highlights that Zeno’s fate does not only depend on God’s will; it depends also on his deeds. In other words, Zeno will be saved due to his submission to divine authority. Lane Fox remarks that the following

43 Cf. Daniel, Theod. 4. 34–37. 44 The events that took place in the 480s are not mentioned in the Life. For a list of the events omitted by the biographer, cf. Lane Fox, ‘The Life of Daniel’, pp. 201–02. Kosiński, Holiness and Power, p. 122, justifies this silence as dictated by hagiographical considerations: ‘The period of Basiliskos’s usurpation is the climax of the holy man’s influence […] It was therefore difficult to describe his life and activity in that period while avoiding the feeling that his significance had come to an end long prior to his death’. According to Lane Fox, ‘The Life of Daniel’, pp. 207–09 and Déroche and Lesieur, ‘Notes d’hagiographie byzantine’, p. 283 n. 3, the biographer simply aims to be discreet about his religious ideals. At any rate, chapter 90 may conceal a cursory reference to the Ἐνωτικόν (‘act of union’). 45 Sancti Danielis Stylitae Vita antiquior, ed. by Delehaye, § 91. 46 The Life and Works of our Holy Father, St Daniel the Stylite, trans. by Dawes and Baynes, pp. 63–64.

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recommendations are ‘conventional and positive’47 and adds: ‘if Zeno obeys, he is told, he will continue to earn the favour of God at the Last Judgement which his “faith and good deeds” have already merited’.48 Indeed, far from expressing critical remarks, the second part of the prophecy corroborates Zeno’s positive image. Since the emperor has reached his heavenly reward, the saint can only advise him to continue along his path. Eloquently, the prophecy about Zeno’s death introduces a more important prediction: ἡμῖν δὲ προηγόρευσεν, ὅτι ἡ φιλόχριστος Ἀριάδνη τῆς βασιλείας ἄρξει μετὰ τὴν τοῦ ἀνδρὸς τελευτὴν διὰ τὴν τελείαν τὴν πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν τῶν πατέρων αὐτῆς πίστιν· συμβασιλεύσει δὲ αὐτῇ ἀνὴρ φιλόχριστος καὶ τὸν ὅλον ἑαυτοῦ βίον ὕμνοις τοῖς πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν καὶ ἀγρυπνίαις ἀνατεθεικώς, σωφροσύνης μὲν ἅπασι γινόμενος εἰκών, πραότητι δὲ καὶ ἐπιεικείᾳ τοὺς ἐν ἑκάστοτε καιρῷ βασιλεύσαντας ὑπερβαλλόμενος, ὑπερβαλεῖ καὶ τὴν φιλαργυρίαν μὲν ἀποστρεφόμενος ἀποστραφήσεται, ἥτις ἐστὶ κατὰ τὸν ἀπόστολον ῥίζα πάντων τῶν κακῶν· ἀπροσωπολήπτως δὲ καὶ καθαρῶς τὴν πολιτείαν κυβερνῶν καὶ ταῖς ἁγιωτάταις ἐκκλησίαις καὶ τῷ μοναχικῷ τάγματι εἰρήνην καὶ παρρησίαν ἐπὶ τῶν ἑαυτοῦ χρόνων ἔσται δωρούμενος· παρ’ ᾧ μηδὲν ὁ πλούσιος ἕξει πλέον μηδὲ ὁ πένης ἔλαττον· τοῦτο γὰρ μάλιστα καὶ ἐν εἰρήνῃ καὶ ἐν πολέμοις ἱκανωτάτην εὐπραγίαν τῇ οἰκουμένῃ παρέξει.49 To us he foretold that after her husband’s death the Christ-loving Ariadne would reign over the Empire because of her perfect faith in the God of her fathers. And that with her would reign a man who loved Christ and had devoted his whole life to hymns to God and to vigils, who was a model of sobriety to all men and who in gentleness and justice would surpass all those who had reigned at any time; ‘he will turn aside, too’, he said, ‘from that love of money which according to the apostle is “the root of all evil” (I Timothy 6. 10). He will govern the State impartially and honestly, and throughout his reign he will grant peace and confidence to the most holy churches and to the order of monks. In his time the rich shall not be favoured, neither shall the poor be wronged, for this above all, both in peace and in war, will be the surest guarantee of prosperity to the world’.50 Here, a prophecy offered about Zeno provides an overview of the empire’s future. In the passages analysed above, the empire is described as a mirror image of God’s realm, which means that by this point in the narrative, the reader is familiar with such ‘heavenly’ depictions of state. As in the prediction

47 Cf. Lane Fox, ‘The Life of Daniel’, p. 205, who argues against Laniado, ‘Some Problems in the Sources’, pp. 167–68. 48 Lane Fox, ‘The Life of Daniel’, p. 205. 49 Sancti Danielis Stylitae Vita antiquior, ed. by Delehaye, § 91. 50 The Life and Works of our Holy Father, St Daniel the Stylite, trans. by Dawes and Baynes, p. 64.


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above, Church unity is considered the most valuable result of good policy. But now, at the end of the Life, two new players enter the stage: Ariadne’s future husband and the order of monks, which is tellingly mentioned alongside the churches. The well-balanced word order suggests that soon the two souls of Eastern Christianity, namely the churches and the order of monks, will be on the same level. Furthermore, Daniel states that, in order to guarantee prosperity to the world, God’s chosen ruler must assure social justice. Thus, the aforementioned rhetorical anticlimax (Roman government, state, churches) acquires this new element which is an integral part of the divine plan. The ultimate purpose of God’s choice is to guarantee harmony among Christians. The new figure, Ariadne’s future husband, so enthusiastically portrayed above, is Anastasius (430?–518), a former court functionary with Monophysite sympathies. Why does the biographer depict him as an ideal emperor? As Kosiński notes: [A]t the time of the work on the VD Anastasius had not yet launched his anti-Chalcedonian policy. Thus the most likely explanation is that we are dealing with an opportunistic praising of the incumbent ruler. […] Since Daniel died in the early period of Anastasius’s reign, the author intimates that the stylite had made the situation in the Empire more stable and secure, and that the ruler’s holy patron would be succeeded by the holy ruler himself.51 Kosiński, here, neatly summarizes the political meaning of the prophecy. Anastasius is portrayed as a member of the clergy, a ‘holy ruler’ who combines sanctity and power. A man like this surely recognizes God’s authority and respects the churches and the order of monks. Daniel could not leave Constantinopolitan leadership in better hands. With his death, the empire loses its spiritual guide but acquires a divinely inspired ruler, a holy man able to govern Christians according to God’s will. This image meets the audience’s horizon of expectation. This is the only possible conclusion for Daniel’s political discourse: if all authority comes from God, the legitimate ruler must be the perfect ruler. To conclude, the Life of Daniel the Stylite is a wonderful example of a political discourse embedded in a hagiographical text. Through careful reading and in-depth analyses of the saint’s prophecies, we may reconstruct a well-defined concept of authority, based on Old Testament and Pauline references. According to the biographer, all earthly legitimate power comes from God. Thus, any opposition comes from the Devil and it will be punished by God himself. But no earthly ruler is an absolute monarch. Like Nebuchadnezzar, even the emperor of Christianity needs to demonstrate his total submission to God’s will. This notion pivots on the saint who, as a mediator between humanity and divinity, guides the legitimate ruler, helping him to abandon any arrogance 51 Kosiński, Holiness and Power, p. 163.

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in order to recognize his role in God’s plan. Since he supports the legitimate emperor and opposes the usurper, the holy man can be considered the true representative of God on earth and, ultimately, his opinion becomes the only source of power. In the struggle against Basiliscus, even the Patriarch acknowledges Daniel’s leadership of the Constantinopolitan Church. The hierarchical order of the Eastern Empire is redefined according to a theological conception: if all authority comes from God, the saint must be at the top of the social pyramid. Thus, in the Life, politics and religion are intertwined. But the ‘political treatise’ that emerges from Daniel’s prophecies leaves many questions unanswered. What is the actual aim of such a political message? Does the biographer aim to persuade the reader that the emperor and the patriarch must submit to a hieratic leader, to a man directly inspired by God? And if so, who is this holy man? Is he a leader of the monastic movement, somehow considered the heir of Daniel? The answers may be provided by further studies focused on the hagiographer’s identity and the latter’s relationship with the imperial court, Church, and, especially, audience.52 Though one cannot predict the types of studies that will emerge, it is my sincere hope that future research will engage with these questions to shed new light on this hagiographical tale of power.

Bibliography Primary Sources The Life and Works of our Holy Father, St Daniel the Stylite, in Elizabeth Dawes and Norman H. Baynes, Three Byzantine Saints: Contemporary Biographies Translated from the Greek (Oxford: Blackwell, 1948), pp. 1–84 New American Standard Bible (La Habra: Foundation Publications, for the Lockman Foundation, 1971) Sancti Danielis Stylitae Vita antiquior, in Hippolyte Delehaye, Les Saints Stylites, Subsidia hagiographica, 14 (Bruxelles: Société des Bollandistes, 1923), pp. 1–94 Secondary Sources Delehaye, Hippolyte, Les Saints Stylites, Subsidia hagiographica, 14 (Bruxelles: Société des Bollandistes, 1923) Déroche, Vincent, and Bénédicte Lesieur, ‘Notes d’hagiographie byzantine. Daniel le Stylite – Marcel l’Acémète – Hypatios de Rufinianes – Auxentios de Bithynie’, Analecta Bollandiana, 128.2 (December 2010), 283–95

52 Lane Fox, ‘The Life of Daniel’, p. 210, suggests that the Life may be linked to Archbishop Euphemius and his circle.


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Kaldellis, Anthony, ‘The Forum of Constantine in Constantinople: What do we Know about its Original Architecture and Adornment?’, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies, 56 (2016), 714–39 Kaplan, Michel, ‘L’espace et le sacré dans la Vie de Daniel le Stylite’, in Le sacré et son inscription dans l’espace à Byzance et en Occident, ed. by Michel Kaplan (Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 2001), pp. 199–217 Kosiński, Rafał, ‘Peter the Fuller, Patriarch of Antioch (471–88)’, Byzantinoslavica, 68 (2010), 49–73 ———, The Emperor Zeno: Religion and Politics, Byzantina et Slavica Cracoviensia, 6 (Kraków: Historia Iagellonica, 2010) ———, Holiness and Power: Constantinopolitan Holy Men and Authority in the 5th Century (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2016) Lane Fox, Robin, ‘The Life of Daniel’, in Portraits: Biographical Representation in the Greek and Latin Literature of the Roman Empire, ed. by Mark J. Edwards and Simon Swain (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), pp. 175–225 Laniado, Avshalom, ‘Some Problems in the Sources for the Reign of the Emperor Zeno’, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 15 (1991), 147–73

Jeremiah  A . Lasquety- R eyes

The Accommodating Queen The Miracles of the Virgin Mary in the Legenda Aurea

In late medieval Europe, the Virgin Mary was generally recognized as the Queen of Heaven who deserved more reverence than any earthly queen. Unlike with human monarchs, however, anyone in society could speak with the Virgin Mary and ask her for help. This naturally led to a diversity of interactions with the Virgin Mary as is reflected in the most popular work of that period, the Legenda Aurea (Golden Legend). There we see knights, monks, thieves, mothers, and other types of people receiving different miracles from her. In most cases, the stories depict the incomparable authority of the Virgin Mary as the Queen of Heaven who thwarts demonic powers and successfully intercedes on behalf of even the most wretched sinners. At the same time, there are also two stories that depict unusual interactions between the Virgin Mary that involve audacious negotiations with her. The two stories provide an interesting contrast between the Virgin Mary’s celestial authority, on the one hand, and her accommodation of devoted followers, on the other. At the end of this chapter, I also provide a visual representation of the contrast using Flemish paintings that were made during the height of the Legenda Aurea’s popularity. The Legenda Aurea is a compilation of stories and theological texts for feast days of Catholic saints. It was compiled by the Dominican Jacobus de Voragine (in English, James of Varazze) (1228/1229–1298) between 1251 and 1260 using a wide range of available materials. It soon became the most popular work of the late medieval period in Western Europe, especially in England, France, Flanders (modern day Belgium and the Netherlands), and the German-speaking regions (modern day Germany, Switzerland, and Austria). It was even more popular than the Bible;1 it was, as one scholar put

1 The sheer number of preserved manuscripts attests to the popularity of the Legenda aurea. As Reames, The Legenda Aurea, p. 4, notes: ‘Over 800 extant manuscripts containing all or part of the Latin Legenda have been identified within the last century, and the Latin text Jeremiah Lasquety-Reyes  •  obtained his Ph.D. in Philosophy and advanced M. A. in Medieval and Renaissance Studies from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium. Narrating Power and Authority in Late Antique and Medieval Hagiography across East and West, ed. by Ghazzal Dabiri, FABULAE 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2021) pp. 197-210 © FHG10.1484/M.FABULAE-EB.5.122500

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it, a ‘medieval best-seller’.2 In fact, during the advent of the printing press in the fifteenth century, 156 editions of the Legenda Aurea were printed compared to the 128 printed editions of the Bible.3 Contributing to the popularity of the Legenda Aurea were likely the great coeval Summas (summaries), such as the Summa Theologiae and Summa Contra Gentiles of the great theologian Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274) who was also a Dominican. Indeed, much like the Summas, which were standard references, the Legenda Aurea served as a kind of Summa Hagiographiae, a summation of hagiography, a book containing everything that one needed to know about the saints during that time.4 However, its popularity rapidly declined in the sixteenth century primarily due to the Protestant Reformation which attacked its stories as fantastic superstition. Many in the Catholic Counter-Reformation also saw it as a kind of embarrassment or weak spot which undermined the defence of the Catholic faith and which, therefore, should be discarded. By the seventeenth century, the work was practically forgotten.5

is just the first of its numerous incarnations’. Barbara Fleith lists as many as 1042 surviving Latin manuscripts of the Legenda. See Fleith, Studien zur Überlieferungsgeschichte, pp. 55–331. In addition to the Latin copies, there are also vernacular translations. There are eight surviving manuscripts of a prose English translation, thirty-four of the French translation by Jean de Vignay, thirty-six of a German Elsässiche Legenda Aurea, and 108 manuscripts of a Südmittelniederländische Legenda Aurea in the Middle Dutch language. See Jeremy, ‘The English Prose Translation of Legenda Aurea’, pp. 181–83; Maddocks, ‘Illumination in Jean De Vignay’s Légende Dorée’, p. 155; and Williams-Krapp, Die deutschen und niederländischen Legendare, pp. 35–47 and 55–84. 2 Reames, The Legenda Aurea, p. 197. 3 Seybolt, ‘Fifteenth Century Editions of the Legenda Aurea’; Seybolt, ‘The Legenda Aurea, Bible, and Historia Scholastica’. 4 The Legenda Aurea was by no means the first of its kind. Two Dominicans previously compiled their own legendaries which may or may not have served as sources for the Legenda. The first was Jean de Mailly’s Abbreviatio in gestis et miraculis sanctorum (written and circulated after 1243) and the second was Bartholomew of Trent’s Epilogus in gesta sanctorum (1245). On this, see Le Goff, In Search of Sacred Time, p. 6. These provided Jacobus de Voragine with the pattern of arranging the legends of the saints according to the liturgical year. On this, see Rhein, Die Legenda Aurea des Jacobus de Voragine, p. 16. Both of them also achieved a certain degree of popularity as attested by the survival of at least twenty manuscripts for each text. Cf. Reames, The Legenda Aurea, p. 3. There were also legendaries written after the Legenda such as the Speculum sanctorale of Bernard Gui in 1324–1329, the Catalogus sanctorum of Petrus Natalis in 1493, the De probatis sanctorum historiis of Laurentius Surius in 1570, and the famous Acta sanctorum of the Bollandists from the seventeenth century onward. None of these other works could compare to the popularity achieved by the Legenda Aurea. The last two works, in particular, tried to lessen the fantastical elements of the Legenda and present accounts of the saints that could either be historically verified or be imitated by the faithful, mostly as a response to the criticisms of the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation. 5 There were only forty-nine editions between 1500–1530, thirteen editions between 1531–1560, five editions between 1561–1605, one final Italian edition in 1613, and one Latin edition in 1688, see Reames, The Legenda Aurea, p. 5.

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Because of the great popularity achieved by the Legenda, Jacobus has been considered a great ‘popularizer’ of the lives of saints. However, upon closer inspection, it seems that Jacobus intended the Legenda for the educated clergy, especially his Dominican brothers, as a supplemental resource for their preaching. Indeed, the book was originally in Latin, which would have made it inaccessible to the laity. Moreover, along with stories of the saints, the Legenda also contains material on scholastic doctrine and theology, Church history, liturgy, and notes on conflicting textual sources. It is, therefore, more historically accurate to view the Legenda as a preacher’s handbook or reference material rather than a deliberately ‘popular’ work. Nevertheless, as noted above, the Legenda clearly became popular beyond the original intention of de Voragine and appealed to many people outside priestly circles. There are approximately two hundred feasts in the Legenda Aurea, depending on the different manuscripts.6 The majority of these are feast days for individual saints, such as a feast day for St Barbara, St Nicholas, and St Dominic, among others. However, there are four feasts focused on the Virgin Mary. These are (1) the Nativity or birth of the Virgin Mary; (2) the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary, when the angel Gabriel ‘announces’ to her that she will bear a Son, Jesus; (3) The Purification of the Virgin Mary, which refers to the purification ritual of Jewish mothers after giving birth according to the Law of Moses; and (4) the Assumption of Mary, when Mary dies and is taken up body and soul to heaven through the power of God. In the Legenda, de Voragine employs a standard format for each feast day: he interweaves the main narrative of the saint with theological or devotional material and then places several miracle stories at the end. The concluding miracle stories are short, often one to two paragraphs long (though there are some exceptions). The sources for some of the miracle stories can be identified, but the sources for others are unknown.7 In total, there are twenty miracle stories within the four Virgin Mary narratives. A summary is presented below. I have also identified certain recurring themes concerning the Virgin Mary’s power and authority which are as follows: A – The Virgin Mary’s power over the Devil and demons (five stories) B – The Virgin Mary’s power with regards to sinners who live sinful lives but, nevertheless, show a devotion towards her (four stories) C – The Virgin Mary’s power with regards to the righteous with a devotion to her (six stories) D – Close interaction or ‘negotiation’ with the Virgin Mary (two stories) E – Other stories depicting the Virgin Mary’s favour, protection, or healing (seven stories)

6 In two modern editions, Th. Graesse lists 243 feasts and Bruno Häuptli lists 182 feasts: see a Voragine, Legenda Aurea, ed. by Graesse and de Voragine, Legenda Aurea, ed. by Häuptli. 7 de Voragine, Legenda Aurea, ed. by Häuptli, pp. 1532, 1747, and 1749.



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Miracle Story

1. Purification 1. A noblewoman receives a candle in an ecstatic vision of the Virgin (discussed further below). Mary 2. A pregnant woman loses her reason and senses but regains them after spending a night in a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary during the feast of Purification. 2. 3. A rich and noble knight renounces the world and joins the Annunciation Cistercian religious order. Since he cannot read, the monks try to to the Virgin educate him. However, the only words he is able to learn are the Mary Ave Maria (‘Hail Mary’), which he learns by heart and repeats often. After his passing, a white lily with a leaf that has the golden letters of the Ave Maria written on it grows on his grave. When the monks dig the earth, they see that the roots of the lily come from the mouth of the dead man, a sign of God’s favour. 4. An evil knight used to rob people who passed by the road near his castle. Nevertheless, he was committed to reciting the Ave Maria daily. One day a holy monk arrives and shows that one of the knight’s servants, the cellar master, is in fact a demon in disguise. This demon had waited fourteen years for a day when the evil knight would miss saying the Ave Maria in order to strangle him and bring him to hell. The knight, horrified, changes his life from then on. The monk banishes the demon to the wilderness in the name of Jesus Christ. 3. Assumption 5. A certain cleric is greatly devoted to the Virgin Mary and of the Virgin consoles her every day on her grief over the five wounds of Mary Jesus.8 When he becomes very sick and fears his death, the Virgin Mary appears to him to comfort him and brings him to Heaven. 6. A sexually immoral monk was, nevertheless, greatly devoted to the Virgin Mary and would say the Ave Maria every time he left and came back to church. One night as he was on his way to commit his usual sin, he falls into a river and drowns. Demons try to claim him, but the Virgin Mary intervenes. The monk is brought back to life, repents, and leads a life filled with acts of good deeds. 7. A powerful and rich knight, who is falling into poverty, is tempted by the devil to give his devout wife to him in exchange for wealth. However, the wife is devoted to the Virgin Mary. While they are on their way to the designated place where the knight is supposed to hand over his wife, they stop by a small church where the woman prays. She suddenly falls asleep, and the Virgin Mary comes down from the altar,

Theme C, D E C

A, B



8 Häuptli notes that a cleric (clericus) refers to anyone living under Church Canon Law, even if that person is not a priest or has not made any spiritual vows to join a religious order: de Voragine, Legenda Aurea, ed. by Häuptli, p. 1751, n 54.

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4. Nativity of the Virgin Mary

Miracle Story


takes up the wife’s appearance, and rides behind the knight in her place. When they encounter the devil, the Virgin Mary shows herself and condemns him. The repentant knight returns to his wife and renounces the devil’s riches. The couple live in praise of the Virgin Mary and receive riches from her. 8. A great sinner has a vision of God’s judgment in which Satan is claiming his soul. However, the personification of Truth and the personification of Justice both help him, and they advise the sinner to also turn to the Virgin Mary for help. The sinner is liberated from Satan and changes his life. 9. A Jewish boy, who partakes of Holy Communion with his Christian friends, is thrown into a furnace by his angry father. However, the Virgin Mary protects him from the fire. 10. Several monks gossiping by a riverbank encounter some demons who want to tear them to pieces and drown them. They are spared when they call on the Virgin Mary. 11. A certain woman is harassed by the devil in the form of a man. Despite resorting to different remedies, the devil only leaves her after a holy man advises the woman to raise her hands and call on Mary at the next opportunity. 12. A knight who is devoted to the Virgin Mary is on his way to compete in a tournament. On the way, he sees a monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary and enters to hear Holy Mass. However, after the Mass, other Masses follow and the knight stays for them as well to honour the Virgin Mary, causing him to be late. As he later rushes to the tournament, he encounters different people who congratulate him on his victories in the tournament. This he understands to be the work of the Virgin Mary. 13. A bishop, who holds the Virgin Mary in highest reverence, is on his way to a church dedicated to her. The Virgin Mary herself greets him and accompanies him with all the choir of virgins into the Church. 14. A widow’s son is captured and imprisoned by enemies (discussed further below). 15. A thief, who is devoted to the Virgin Mary and who often recites the Ave Maria, is caught and sentenced to be hanged. During the hanging, the Virgin Mary invisibly holds him up for three days so that he suffers no harm. His captors try to kill him with their swords, but Mary deflects the blows. When the thief explains to his captors that it is the Virgin Mary helping him, they are amazed and let him go. He then enters a monastery and serves God for the rest of his life.

A, C





C, D B



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Miracle Story


16. A cleric, who greatly loves the Virgin Mary and diligently prays the ‘Hours of the Virgin’, receives a huge inheritance from his parents.9 Because of this, his friends convince him to take a wife. One day, the Virgin Mary appears to him and rebukes him for leaving her for another woman. Remorseful, he leaves everything behind and enters a monastery of the Blessed Mary. 17. A bishop is disappointed with a priest because this priest only knows how to celebrate one kind of Mass, the Mass of the Blessed Mary. He, therefore, suspends the priest from his duties. The following night, the Virgin Mary appears to the bishop, rebukes him, and threatens him with death. The bishop repents, asks for the priest’s forgiveness, and orders him to celebrate no other Mass besides the one he knows. 18. One night, a vain and sexually immoral cleric, who nevertheless greatly loves the Mother of God and prays the ‘Hours of the Virgin’, sees a vision of God’s tribunal where God sentences him to damnation. However, the Virgin Mary intercedes on his behalf so that he is spared. When the cleric wakes up, he changes his life and enters a religious order. 19. A man named Theophilus loses his position as assistant to the bishop. He makes a pact with the devil and renounces Christianity in order to regain his position. However, he soon regrets it and entreats the Virgin Mary for her help. The Virgin Mary appears to him, rebukes him for his unfaithfulness but also frees him from the pact. Theophilus is extremely grateful, reports to everyone what has happened, and three days later dies in peace. 20. A mother-in-law orders the killing of her son-in-law. Eventually, her crime is exposed, and she is sentenced to be burned. However, she turns to the Virgin Mary in tears. The Virgin Mary protects her in the fire and from physical attacks. She passes away three days later, praising the Virgin Mary.






The main characters as well as the types of stories are varied, and this perhaps reflects Jacobus de Voragine’s intent to provide preachers with a wide selection of materials to choose from depending on their audience.10 As noted above, I have identified several recurring themes: Three of these themes involve Mary’s power and authority to thwart the Devil or demons, aid sinners who show their devotion towards her, and aid the righteous who also are devoted 9 A devotion to the Virgin Mary patterned after the Divine Office prayed daily by the clergy. 10 The proportions of the miracle stories in relation to the rest of the text is roughly twenty percent (Purification), twenty-five percent (Annunciation), fifteen percent (Assumption), and forty percent (Nativity). Though the miracle stories are not the main focus of de Voragine, they clearly constitute a significant portion. The diversity of miracle stories may have contributed to the Legenda’s widespread popularity.

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to her. The first and the third of these themes are perhaps not surprising, and parallels can also be seen in the stories of other saints. Perhaps more thought-provoking, however, are the stories that deal with the second theme. These involve sinners such as an evil knight who robs travellers, a thief, a sexually immoral monk, and a sexually immoral cleric. The contrast between the gravity of their sins and the small acts of devotion that they show the Virgin Mary, which usually means saying the short Ave Maria prayer daily, is vast. Nevertheless, these small acts of devotion are enough to secure them protection from demons, death, or damnation and eventually lead them to a righteous life. These miracle stories emphasize the Virgin Mary’s privileged position which easily overrides the negative deeds of these characters. The degree to which the Virgin Mary’s transcendent power is manifested is best illustrated in the text for the feast of the Assumption. The Assumption, as noted above, refers to the Virgin Mary’s body and soul being taken up or ‘assumed’ into Heaven by the power of God. There she is given a throne beside her son and becomes the Queen of Heaven. De Voragine quotes St Gerard describing the glorious scene: Solus dominus Iesus Christus potest hanc magnificare, quemadmodum fecit, ut ab ipsa maiestate laudem continue accipiat et honorem, angelicis stipata choris, archangelicis vallata turmis, thronorum hinc inde possessa iubilationibus […] Ipsa quoque ineffabilissima trinitas perenni tripudio sibi applaudit atque sua gratia in ea tota redundante omnes eidem attendere facit. Apostolorum splendidissimus ordo ineffabili laude illam extollit, martyrum multitudo omnimode supplicat tantae dominae […] Invite etiam infernus sibi ululat et procacissimi daemones conclamant.11 The Lord Jesus Christ alone can give such greatness as he gave to his mother — greatness such that she continuously receives praise and honor from the divine majesty itself, is attended by choirs of Angels, compassed about by troops of Archangels, accompanied on all sides by the jubilation of Thrones […] The ineffable Trinity also applauds her with unceasing dance, and the grace with which the three Persons totally infuse her draws the attention of all to her. The illustrious order of the apostles extols her with praise beyond expression, the throng of martyrs offers every kind of worship to so great a queen […] Unwilling Hell howls to her and the impudent demons add their shrieking.12 According to Philippe Verdier, the Legenda Aurea provided the ‘canonical canvas’ (canevas canonique) for a recurring theme in art, namely, the coronation of the Virgin Mary as the Queen of Heaven.13 It is a theme that appears in the early thirteenth century and became widespread after the Legenda. There 11 de Voragine, Legenda Aurea, ed. by Häuptli, pp. 1530–32. 12 de Voragine, The Golden Legend, trans. by Ryan, ii, 85. 13 Verdier, Le couronnement de la Vierge, p. 16.


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Figure 1. Dieric Bouts, Coronation of the Virgin, Wien, Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien. c. 1450. Reproduced with the permission of the Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien.

are two ways that artists depict this scene: the first is with Jesus sitting on a throne and crowning Mary who sits on a throne to his right. The second is with the Holy Trinity (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) all crowning her. An example of this latter is a fifteenth century painting by the Flemish painter Dieric Bouts (d. 1475) (Figure 1). The setting is a canopied throne room surrounded by a choir of angels. Through visual art such as this, the laity in addition to church officials were made keenly aware of how the Virgin Mary’s power and authority were granted by God himself. Given the emphasis placed on the Virgin Mary’s power and authority, there are two miracle stories (#1 and #14 above) that make use of situational irony. These two stories depict more intimate interactions and negotiations with the Virgin Mary than what one might expect given her divine-regal position. In story #14, which is included in the story of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, a widow’s son is captured by enemies and imprisoned. The widow importunately prays to the Virgin Mary for the liberation of her son,

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but her prayers go unanswered. Thus, the widow enters the church, stands in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary, and tells the Virgin Mary that since her son has not been liberated despite her many prayers, she will take the Virgin Mary’s son as hostage until her own son is freed. Then, she takes the sculpted image of the child Jesus, brings it home, wraps it in clean clothes, and locks it up in a chest. The following night, the Virgin Mary visits the widow’s son in prison, opens the door of the prison so that he can escape, and also requests that he ask his mother to return her son, Jesus. The widow’s son returns to his mother who is greatly overjoyed. She then returns the sculpted image of Jesus to the Virgin Mary and gives thanks for her son’s liberation. Story #1, which is included in the text of the Purification of the Virgin Mary, involves a noblewoman who attends daily mass in the chapel that she ordered to be constructed next to her house. On one occasion, the chaplain assigned to the chapel needs to go away for some business. Since the noblewoman had previously given away her cloak out of generosity and so is unable to go to another church, this means that she will not have a mass to attend for the feast of the Purification. The noblewoman prays about the situation with tears in her eyes before the altar to the Virgin Mary and suddenly experiences an ecstatic vision in which she is brought to a beautiful church and sees the Virgin Mary and other virgins. Everyone in attendance is given a candle, including the noblewoman. The woman then observes that the Mass itself is celebrated by Christ himself as priest and with saints and angels as servers. When the time for the offering during the Mass comes, the Virgin Mary and the other virgins offer their candles to Christ. However, when it is the woman’s turn to give her candle, she refuses. The Virgin Mary sends a messenger to tell the woman that it is improper to keep the priest waiting, but the woman responds that the priest may continue with the Mass since she will not offer her candle. The Virgin Mary sends a second messenger to whom the woman similarly replies that she will not give the candle to anyone but will keep it out of devotion. Finally, the Virgin Mary commands the messenger to go to the woman a third time and to take the candle by force if necessary. The woman still refuses to offer the candle, and the messenger tries to take it away, but the woman resists. After a long struggle, the candle suddenly breaks in two, with half of the candle remaining in the woman’s hand and the other half in the messenger’s hand. The vision suddenly ends, and the woman finds herself once again in the chapel with the broken candle still in her hands. She thanks the Virgin Mary for not letting her miss Mass on that feast day and keeps the candle as a precious relic which has the power to heal people of their sickness. In these two stories, we see the central characters and the Virgin Mary interacting with one another more closely than in the other tales. Moreover, and strikingly, our two female supplicants, the widow and the noblewoman, show a surprising audacity towards the Virgin Mary. The first story depicts an unusual case of kidnapping and blackmail while the second story highlights a stubborn refusal to obey the Virgin Mary’s commands. It would seem, on the surface, that the two main characters should merit some punishment for



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their actions. However, it must be noted that both these characters have a strong devotion to the Virgin Mary. The text explicitly states that the widow was ‘greatly devoted’ (multum devota) and the noblewoman ‘had the greatest devotion’ (maximam devotionem habebat).14 We, therefore, are invited to interpret their respective stubbornness as negotiations performed in a spirit of devotion. For instance, in story #14, the widow takes the sculpted image of Jesus as a hostage fully aware that the Virgin Mary has the power to free her son in prison. Possibly, the widow also imagines that being a mother herself, the Virgin Mary would be more compelled to act if she also were to experience the same situation. Of course, there is also an element of humour here since the widow kidnaps a sculpted image of the child Jesus and not the actual Jesus himself. In this light, the Virgin Mary’s actions were an accommodation of the widow rather than any real compulsion to do as the widow wanted. In story #1, the noblewoman refuses the Virgin Mary’s request three times. On the surface, this appears to be a transgression against the Virgin Mary’s power and authority. However, the noblewoman herself claims that she wants to keep the candle out of a sense of devotion (ex devotione). The fact that half of the candle remains in her hands is not due to any lack of power on the part of the Virgin Mary to take the entire candle back but is rather an act of accommodation toward the noblewoman. In fact, the remaining half of the candle could also be seen as the Virgin Mary granting a kind of honour upon the noblewoman for the woman’s original intention to venerate the Virgin Mary, i.e. by attending Mass on the feast of the Purification. In these two examples, it is as if the Virgin Mary permits a partial suspension of her power and authority to allow certain devoted individuals to have power over her. This is an accommodation of the devoted individuals and not any real insufficiency of the Virgin Mary’s power. However, it is highly unlikely that grave sinners, such as those found in the other miracle stories, would be accommodated if they were to negotiate similarly. They are not in a position to do so. Also, if one considers these two miracle stories in proportion to the number of other types, they stand as prominent exceptions, and this could have been a conscious choice on the part of de Voragine. He primarily stresses the Virgin Mary as a powerful queen, but he also acknowledges that there are exceptional cases when a devout person can be audacious with her and negotiate. Given the present volume’s connection to Ghent University and that the associated conference was held at the Academica Belgica, I would like to conclude with a visual representation of the contrast between authority and 14 Though de Voragine also describes some sinners as having a devotion to the Virgin Mary, such as the immoral monk who was ‘very devoted’ (valde devotus) (story #6); the thief who ‘greatly held her in devotion’ (plurimum in devotione habebat) (story #15); and the immoral cleric who ‘very much loved her’ (plurimum diligebat) (story #18), the text immediately qualifies this devotion as manifesting only through a specific means, such as saying the Ave Maria or praying the ‘Hours of the Virgin’.

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Figure 2. Jan van Eyck, Virgin and Child with Canon van der Paele, Brugge, Musea Brugge. 1436. Reproduced with the permission of the Musea Brugge, www., photo Hugo Maertens.

accommodation with two paintings from the most famous Flemish painter, Jan van Eyck (1390–1441), who, like Dierek Bouts (d. 1475), was actively painting during the height of the Legenda’s popularity.15 In the van der Paele Madonna (Figure 2), the Virgin Mary is seated on a throne and approached from the side. St Donatian, who is the saint of the Church who received the painting, stands on the left with a stern look on his face, as if guarding to ensure that the proper ceremonial manners are displayed. The man kneeling on the floor is Joris van der Paele (d. 1433), who commissioned the painting. He is introduced to the queen and her son by his patron, St George, the saint famously known for slaying a dragon. But St George himself looks hesitant and a bit embarrassed in his movements and facial expression. As Max Friedländer notes, ‘he seems to commend [van der

15 Some prominent examples of the Legenda Aurea’s impact on Flemish art include the illustrated saints in the Belles Heures of Jean de Berry (1340–1416) produced by the Limbourg brothers and the reliquary of St Ursula made by Hans Memling (d. 1494) for the St John’s hospital in Bruges. For more on this, see van Dael, ‘De Legenda Aurea en de Beeldende Kunst’, pp. 100–01. As mentioned previously, we also have more than a hundred surviving manuscripts in the Middle Dutch language, which testify to the popularity of the Legenda Aurea in Flanders, see Williams-Krapp, Die deutschen und niederländischen Legendare, pp. 55–84.



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Figure 3. Jan van Eyck, Madonna of Chancellor Rolin, Paris, Réunion des musées nationaux – Grand Palais. c. 1430. Reproduced with the permission of bpk | RMN – Grand Palais | Gérard Blot.

Paele] to the Virgin with an uncertain gesture’.16 Perhaps the awkwardness is caused by the awe of being in the royal presence of Mary and Jesus, or it may have something to do with uncertainty regarding the worthiness of the person he is introducing. The clumsiness is made even more apparent when we see that St George steps on van der Paele’s garment. On the other hand, in the Rolin Madonna (Figure 3), the setting is very personal and intimate, and the gaze of Chancellor Nicolas Rolin (1376–1462) is straight. There is no patron saint here for the Chancellor.17 Mary is still a

16 Friedländer, Early Netherlandish Painting, i, 43. 17 In contemporary discussions on the painting, Rolin generally has been cast in a negative light as an ambitious man of the world who was presumptuous in commissioning such a painting. However, there are also more nuanced interpretations of Rolin and his intentions.

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queen as can be seen by the spectacular jewelled crown that a hovering angel is about to place on her head or has just recently lifted up. It is as if the Virgin Mary’s queenship must be momentarily suspended or held in abeyance for such a direct and personal interaction. This was not the norm in Flemish paintings. Normal donor paintings looked like the van der Paele Madonna. Did the Legenda influence Jan van Eyck or the commissioner of the painting in this choice of portrayal? We cannot know for sure. But it seems that Jan van Eyck’s paintings and Jacobus de Voragine’s miracle stories recognize that such an approach to the Virgin Mary is possible. And it is only possible because the Virgin Mary, in spite of her power and authority, allows it.

Bibliography Primary Sources a Voragine, Jacobi, Legenda Aurea: vulgo Historia Lombardica dicta, ed. by Th. Graesse, 3rd edn (Osnabrück: Otto Zeller, 1890 [1969]) de Voragine, Jacobus, The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints, trans. by William Granger Ryan, 2 vols (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993) ———, Legenda Aurea / Goldene Legende, ed. by Bruno W. Häuptli, 2 vols (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 2014) Secondary Sources Fleith, Barbara, Studien zur überlieferungsgeschichte der lateinischen Legenda Aurea, Subsidia hagiographica, 72 (Brussels: Société des Bollandistes, 1991) Friedländer, Max, Early Netherlandish Painting: The van Eycks-Petrus Christus, trans. by Heinz Horden, 14 vols (New York: Praeger, 1967−1976) Gelfand, Laura, ‘Piety, Nobility and Posterity: Wealth and the Ruin of Nicolas Rolin’s Reputation’, Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art, 1.1 (2009), 1–26 Jeremy, Mary, ‘The English Prose Translation of Legenda Aurea’, Modern Language Notes, 59 (1944), 181–83 Le Goff, Jacques, In Search of Sacred Time: Jacobus De Voragine and the Golden Legend, trans. by Lydia G. Cochrane (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014)

See, for instance, Gelfand, ‘Piety, Nobility and Posterity’. Molly Teasdale Smith has also suggested that it was one of Rolin’s sons, a high-ranking church official, who commissioned the painting as ‘a permanent visual intercession for his father’s soul’, which would explain the unusual composition. See Smith, ‘On the Donor of Jan van Eyck’s Rolin Madonna’, p. 278. We are not so much concerned here with the historic figure of Rolin as with the general dynamic symbolism in the painting in which the Chancellor can be replaced with any person intensely devoted to Mary.


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Maddocks, Hilary Elizabeth, ‘Illumination in Jean De Vignay’s Légende Dorée’, in Legenda aurea: sept siècles de diffusion, ed. by Brenda Dunn-Lardeau (Montréal: Éditions Bellarmin, 1986), pp. 155–70 Reames, Sherry L., The Legenda Aurea: A Reexamination of Its Paradoxical History (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1985) Rhein, Reglinde, Die Legenda Aurea des Jacobus de Voragine: die Entfaltung von Heiligkeit in ‘Historia’ und ‘Doctrina’ (Köln: Böhlau, 1995) Seybolt, Robert Francis, ‘Fifteenth Century Editions of the Legenda Aurea’, Speculum, 21 (1946), 327–38 ———, ‘The Legenda Aurea, Bible, and Historia Scholastica’, Speculum, 21 (1946), 339–42 Smith, Molly Teasdale, ‘On the Donor of Jan van Eyck’s Rolin Madonna’, Gesta, 20.1 (1981), 273–79 van Dael, Peter, ‘De Legenda Aurea en de Beeldende Kunst’, in Gouden legenden: heiligenlevens en heiligenverering in de Nederlanden, ed. by Anneke B. MulderBakker and Marijke Carasso-Kok (Hilversum: Uitgeverij Verloren, 1997), pp. 89–108 Verdier, Philippe, Le couronnement de la Vierge: Les origines et les premiers développements d’un thème iconographique (Montréal: Institut d’études médiévales, 1980) Williams-Krapp, Werner, Die deutschen und niederländischen Legendare Des Mittelalters: studien zu ihrer Überlieferungs-, Text- und Wirkungsgeschichte (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1986)


ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Marwān (685–

705), Ummayad caliph  21, 29 Abo, saint of Tbilisi  134 Abū Bakr Vāsitī (d. 932)  109, 112–13 Abū al-Qāsim Firdawsī (fl. tentheleventh century) Shāhnāmah 86 Abū al-Qāsim Naṣrābādī (d. 978) 109 Abū Isḥāq Shahryār Kāzarūnī (d. 1035), shaykh  110, 115 Abū Qurrah’s Prayer for alMaʾmūn 54 Acacius (d. 489), Archbishop of Constantinople  189, 191 Acts of Barnabas  22, 121–30 Acts of Heracleides  22, 121–30 Acts of Silvester  154–55, 157, 160 Accessories. See Wardrobe Ādurfarrbay ī Farroxzādān (fl. ninth century) 89 Aḥmad Ḥarb Quds (d. 849)  110 Ahura Mazdā (Ohrmazd)  85, 90–92, 94–95, 98 Alcibiades 88 Aldobrandesca Ponzi of Siena (fl. thirteenth century)  77 Ādurbād ī Ēmēdān (fl. tenth century)  89, 98 Alexander, pope  158 Alexander of Cyprus  121 Laudatio Barnabae  121–22, 130 Alexander the Great  95 Alexandria  59, 66, 121, 184–85 Alia vita a patre Virgilio Cepario Societatis Jesu 76

ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭalib (601–661), fourth

caliph  14 n. 8, 15 n. 9 alienation  133–36, 142, 145, 149 Alyon-ı Rūmī, king 176 Amasya, Turkey  176 Anastasius (430?-518), Byzantine emperor 194 Anatolia  138, 167–68, 171, 175, 178–79 Anthemios of Salamis  122 Antioch  31, 39–40, 121–22, 124 amīr al-muʾminīn  14, 46, 49–50, 52 appearances  72–73, 75–79, 169 Ardašīr I (180–242), founder of Sasanian empire  95, 98 Ašot, Georgian king  137–40, 142, Athos, mountain  136–37, 142, 144, 146–48 ʿAṭṭār, see Farīd al-Dīn ʿAṭṭār (d. c. 1222) Augustine (354–430), Bishop of Hippo 77 Epistle 77–78 Avesta  86, 89, 95, 111 Ayādgār ī Zarērān  85, 95 Bagrat III (975–1014)  Georgian king 135 Bagratids  135, 137–38, 147 Bahrām V (406–38), Sasanian king 104 Bahrāmshāh al-Ḥaydarī, sayyid 169 Balkans  23, 168, 174 Barbara, saint  199 Bardas Skleros (976–79)  148

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Barnabas, apostle  122–30 Basiliscus (d. c. 476), Byzantine emperor  186, 188–92, 195 Basil II (976–1025), Byzantine emperor 39 Baṭṭāl Ġāzi  171 Battal-nāme 171 Bāyazīd (d. 848 or 875), shaykh 112–15 Bayezid II, Ottoman Sultan  176–77 La beata Villana terziaria domenicana fiorentina del secolo XIV 73 Belshazzar 62 Benvenuta Boiani of Cividale del Friuli (fl. thirteenth century)  72 Black Friars  74 Bologna 74 Bursa 177

Constantinople  21, 23, 31, 40, 59–60, 64, 66, 122, 136, 145, 178, 184, 190, 192 conversion confessional  22–23, 48, 55, 91–92, 105, 110–15, 124, 127–28, 133–34, 141–42, 144, 147, 154, 160–61, 172, 175–76, 178 political 191–92 spiritual  73–75, 105, 109–10, 113–15 Council, of Chalcedon (451)  63, 144, 154 Ecumenical, second (381)  50, 63 Ephesus (431)  121, 123–24, 154 Nicaea (325)  154 Counter-Reformation  22, 80, 198 Cyprus  122–27, 129–30 Cyrus, bishop  60, 64–65

Caecilia 161 Cairo  67, 177 Catherine of Siena, saint  76 Caucasus, see Iberia Cem (1459–95), Ottoman prince  168, 175–78 Church Catholic 77 Coptic 66 Antioch  22, 121, 124, 130 Cyprus  22, 121–25, 129–30 Salamis  22, 122, 125–26, 128–30 Tamasos  22, 123, 128–29 Chalcedonians  46, 66–67, 144, 186. See also Melkites Cilicia 39 clothing. See wardrobe Conrad a Castillerio, Dominican friar 72 Vita devotissimae Benvenutae de Foro-Julii 72 Constantine (d. 337)  51, 144, 154, 157, 159–60

Daniel, biblical figure  61–62, 188 book of  188, 190 Daniel the Stylite, saint (409– 93)  23, 183–95 Danişmend-nâme 171 Damascus  29, 32, 34–37 Dānişmend Ġāzi  171 Daqīqī (d. c. 976)  86 Davit‘ IV, Georgian king  147 Davit‘ Kouropalates (d. 1001), Georgian king  148 Davit‘-Gareja 147 Dāvūd-i Ṭāʾī (d. c. 781)  17 David, biblical figure  52, 61, 141–42 Debate of Theodore Abū Qurrah at the Court of al-Maʾmūn 47, 54–55 Decretum Gelasianum 154–55 Decretum Magistri Gratiani 77 Dēnkard  85–86, 88–90, 92–95, 98–99 Diana degli Andalò (b. 1200)  74 Dieric Bouts (d. 1475)  204 Dimitrios, saint  174

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Disputation of the Monk Abraham with the Amīr ʿAbd alRaḥmān 47 Dobruja  164, 169–70 Dominic, saint  199 Donatian, saint  207 dreams 173 prophetic  60–65, 112, 183, 188 Ebū’l-ḫayr-i Rūmī (fl. fifteenth c.)  167–69, 178 Ṣaltuḳ-nāme  167–68, 170–72, 174–79 Ecdicia 77–78 Edessa 46 Edicts, of Milan (313)  63 Thessalonica (380)  59 Edirne, Turkey  175–76 Elias, biblical figure, see Ilyās Ephrem Mc‘ire The History of the Reasons of Georgia’s Conversion and Which Books Tell the Story 146 Ephrem, the Syrian  139 Ephrem, the Lesser  145 Erismt‘avaris 138 Eusebius (d. 339)  154 Euthymios 147 Eutychius, Patriarch of Alexandria (877–940)  21, 60, 67 Annals  60, 67 Ezekiel, biblical figure  61–62 Farīd al-Dīn ʿAṭṭār (d. c. 1222)  14, 16–17, 22, 104, 106–09, 113–15 Dīvān-i ʿAṭṭār  105, 107–10, 113 Ilāhīnāmah  22, 104–06, 111–15 Taẕkirat al-awliyāʾ  13, 16, 22, 104–06, 108–15 Firdawsī. See Abū al-Qāsim Firdawsī Firaydūn 85 First Book of Samuel 190 Flavius Dionysius  121

Flemish paintings  23, 197, 207, 209 Florence 73 Frances, St, of Rome  72 Francis, saint  73 Fustat 67 Gabriel, archangel  46, 199 garments. See wardrobe Gāthās 87–88 Gayōmart  85, 90, 93, 98 Genseric (c. 389–477), king of the Vandals 184 George, saint  207, 208 George, the Lesser  148 Life of George Hagiorites  22, 135, 148 Georgianness  22, 142, 145, 148 Gerard, saint  203 Gesta Martyrum Romanorum 153– 55, 158–60, 162 Giorgi (George) Hagiorites  147, 148 Life of John and Euthymios 22, 135, 148 Giorgi Mc‘ire The Life and Work of Our Father George Hagorites 148 Giorgi Merč‘ule  137 Life of Grigol  22, 135, 137–38, 141 Grigol of Xancta, archimandrite  137–38, 141–42 Girolamo di Giovanni (fl. fifteenth century) 73 Giovanni d’Andrea (fl. fourteenth century) 78 Quaestiones mercuriales 78 Giovanni Mattiotti (fl. fifteenth century) 72 Vita ex autographo Romano manuscripto auctore Joanne Mattiotti 72 Gregorio Lombardelli Vita ex Italico Gregorii Lombardelli 77 Gushtāsp. See Wištāsp



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Ḥadīs̱ 106 Ḥākim (r. 996–1021), Fatimid

caliph 40 Harun al-Rashid (d. 809), Abbasid caliph  21, 43, 45–46, 49, 53, 55 Ḥasan ibn ʿAlī  15 n.9, 170, n. 15 Ḥasan of Basra (642–728)  112 Heracleides 123–30 Heraclidanos 128 Hierokles (527–28) Snyedkmos 130 Hızır, see Khiḍr Holy Mandilion of Edessa, see prophets—Christ—image of Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī  15, n. 9, 170 n. 15 Iberia  133–35, 138–39, 142–43, 144–48 Ibn Battuta (d. 1368)  170 Ibn al-Sarrāj (d. 1346/7)  169, 171 Tuffāḥ al-arwāḥ wa miftāḥ alarbāḥ 169 Ibn Isḥāq Sīrat rasūl Allāh 89 iconoclasm  34, 39, 63 Ilarion the Georgian  142–43, 146–47 Ilyās 170 Ilyās-ı Rūmī. See Alyon-ı Rūmī Ioannes I Tzimiskes (969–76)  39 Istanbul 175–77 Jacobus de Voragine (1228/29– 98)  197, 199, 202–03, 206, 209 Legenda Aurea  197–99, 203, 207 n. 15, 209 Jaʿfar Ṣādiq (d. 765), sixth Shiʿite Imam  13, 17 Jāmī (1414–1492)  19 n. 24, 105 Jan van Eyck (1390–1441)  207–09 jewellery. See wardrobe John, Bishop of Antioch (d. 441)  121, 133 John III of Antioch  31–32, 39–40

John the Baptist  61 John of Damascus (d. c. 794)  29– 41 John of Edessa  21, 43, 45–47, 50–51, 53–55 John VIII of Jerusalem (1098– 1106/7?)  31, 40 John Mark  123 John Rufus (fifth century): The Life of Peter the Iberian 144– 45 Joris van der Paele (d. 1433)  207 Joseph, biblical figure  61 Kartli. See Iberia Karaman 176 Kastamonu 176 Kawād I (488–531), Sasanian king 98 Kaykāʾūs ibn Kaykhusraw ibn Dārā (fl. twelfth-thirteenth century) 92 Zarātushtnāmah  85, 88, 92–95, 98 khalīfat Allāh  14, 15 n. 9 Khiḍr  170–71, 176 n. 32 Khosro I (501–579), Sasanian king  86 n. 4, 93, 95, 96, 98–99, 104 n. 6 Khosro II (d. 628), Sasanian king  86 n. 4, 104 Klarjet‘i 137 Knights of St John, in Rhodes  177 Konya 177 Lawrence, saint  160, 161 laws Constantinus Augustus monarchiam tenens 157 Decretum Gelasianum 154–55 ius commune 78 ius in corpus 77–78 ius vetus 77 of Moses  199 Sumptuary  21, 79

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Leo I (d. 474), Byzantine emperor  23, 183–85, 189 Leo the Isaurian (685–741), Byzantine emperor  21, 29, 32–36, 39 Leonard Hansen Vita mirabilis et mors pretiosa venerabilis sororis Rosae de Sancta Maria Limensis 76 Letter to the Romans 190 Liber Pontificalis  154 n. 5 Life of St Daniel, the Stylite  23, 183, 186–88, 194–95 Life of Ilarion the Georgian  22, 135, 142–47 Life of John of Damascus  21, 29–35, 37, 39–41 Life of John of Edessa  21, 43–51, 53–56 Life of King Vaxtang the WolfHead 134–35 Life of St Nino 134 Life of Peter the Iberian 144–45 Life of Theodore of Edessa 47–49, 54–56 Luchina of Soncino (fl. fifteenth century) 78 Luke, saint  72 Macarius III  46 Maḥmūd Ghaznī (970–1030), sultan 113–14 al-Maʾmūn (786–833), Abbasid caliph  49, 54–55 al-Manṣūr (d. 775), Abbasid caliph  13, 16–17, 35 n. 25 Mantova, Lombard  80 Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi  76 Maria ai Monti  161–62 Martyrdom of Queen Šušanik 133 Martyrdom of St Abo 134 Martyrdom of St Evstat‘e 134 Matthew, saint, Gospels of  122

Mawlūd-i Zarātusht, see Kaykāʾūs ibn Kaykhusraw ibn Dārā— Zarātushtnāmah Mazdak (fl. fifth c.)  93 Mazdakites  96, 98–99 Mehmed II (d. 1481), Ottoman Sultan  168, 176, 178 Melkites  21, 31, 39–40, 46, 48, 54– 55, 60, 67. See also Chalcedonians Michael, the monk  31 Arabic Life of John of John of Damscus  21, 30–33, 35, 37, 39–41 Micheal Modrekili (fl. tenth century) 45 Mirabilia urbis Romae 160 miracles  37, 47, 199–206, 209 miracle-worker  141, 192 Monophysitism  148, 186, 188 Mother of God. See Virgin Mary Murad II (d. 1451), Ottoman Sultan 177 Mustafa (d. 1474), Ottoman governor 176 Naples 177 Narshakhī Tārīkh-i Bukhārā 103 Naẓm al-jawhar, see Eutychius— Annals Nebuchadnezzar, king of Bablyon  61, 187–89, 192, 194 neighbourliness  110, 112, 114 Nice 177 Nicholas, saint  170, 199 Nicolas Rolin (1376–1462), chancellor 208 Nikephoros II Phokas (963– 69) 39 Nikoloz Gulaberisże, patriarch  147 Nino, saint  133–35, 144 n. 29, 145, 147 Nion 161–62


21 6

i n de x

Niẓāmī Ganjavī (1149–1209)  20 n. 28, 104 Khosrow va Shīrīn 104 Noah, biblical patriarch  160 Notitia 10 130 Ohrmazd, see Ahura Mazdā Orders Friars Minor  73 Mendicant  72, 75 St Dominic (Second)  74 St Dominic (Third)  72–73, 78 St Francis (Third)  73 orthodoxy Chalcedonian  48, 144, 145 Nicene 144 Osanna Andreasi (fl. sixteenth century) 79 Pahlavi Rivāyat 86 Palestine  34, 40, 46, 48 Passio Caeceliae 161 Passion of Michael Mar Saba 47 Paul, apostle  34, 124–25, 127–30, 160, 190 Peter, apostle  154 Peter the Fuller (d. 488), Bishop of Antioch  122, 188 Peter the Iberian (fl. fifth century) 144–45 Pharaoh, biblical king of Egypt  61 Phineas  43, 46–47, 49, 51–52 Pierre d’Aubusson (d. 1503)  177 Pliny the Elder (23–79)  88 Naturalis Historia 88 prophets Christ  33, 38, 49–51, 77, 125–27, 142, 144 n. 29, 145, 171, 173–74, 189, 190, 193, 200, 203, 205 donkey of  173–74 image of  46 Muḥammad  14, 15 n. 9, 40 n. 40, 89, 93, 106, 113, 170 Zoroaster  85–95, 98–99 prophecies  183–84, 187–90, 193–94

Raqqa  46, 49 Ray 92 Raymund of Capua  76 Legenda maior 76 rebellion of Bardas  148 Mazdakite 95 Reginald of Orléans, Dominican preacher 74 relations, between Christians and Muslims  29–58, 66–67, 167–68, 171–76 Church of Antioch and Church of Cyprus 121–22 Church of Salamis and Church of Tamasos 121–32 Georgians and Byzantines  136– 37, 145, 148 Georgians and Greeks  136, 139, 148 Muslims and Zoroastrians  93, 103–04, 109–14 Rhodes 177 Rome  72, 143, 147, 153–55, 157–61, 177. See also Rūm Rumelia 176–77 Rūm  53, n. 41, 167 Rumi (1207–1273)  105 Saʿīd ibn Baṭrīq. See Eutychius, Patriarch of Alexandria Sahl ibn Tustarī (818–96)  110 Salamis  122–24, 126, 128–30 Saltuk  167–76, 178 Samuel, biblical figure  61–62 Sebastian, saint  160 Seljuks conquest 31 Shāpuhr II (r. 309–79), Sasanian king 88 Silvester, bishop of Rome  154, 157, 158, 160 Sixtus, saint  160 Solomon, biblical king  189–90 Sōšāns  85, 90–94

i nd e x

strangeness, see alienation Syria  34, 38, 40, 46, 48, 55 Ṭabarī (839–923)  16 Taʾrīkh al-rusul wa al-mulūk 16

Tamasos 123–30 Tao-Klarjet‘i 138 Testament New  63, 161 Old  63, 189–90, 194 Theodore Abū Qurrah (d. c. 825) 55 Treatise on the Veneration of the Icons 55 Theodorus, governor of Cyprus 121 Theodorus Lector Historica Ecclesiastica 122 Theophilus (d. 412), Patriarch of Alexandria 59–67 Theodosius I (347–95), Byzantine emperor 59–67 Thrace 185 Tomàs Malvenda  74 Vita a Thoma Malvenda ex variis collecta 74 T‘ornik, general  148 Turcomans 176–77 Umiliana de’ Cerchi  73, 79 Uzun Hasan (d. 1478)  176, 178 Vallumbrosan Abbess Umiltà of Faenza 74 Vandals 185 Vaxtang the Wolf-Head, king of Georgia 135 Venetians 177

Villana delle Botti  73 Virgilio Cepari, Jesuit father  76 Alia vita a patre Virgilio Cepario 76 Virgin Mary  23, 30, 37, 143, 146–47, 197, 199–207, 209 virtual environments  155–59, 162 worlds  156, 158, 162 Vita per fratrem Franciscum Silvestrum Ferrariensem  80 n. 55 and 56 Vita auctore monacho sui Ordinis et familiari 75 Vito da Cortona  73 Vita auctore Vito Cortonensi coevo 73 wardrobe  78–80, 107, 162 Wisdom of the Sibyl 54 Wištāsp, Zoroaster’s royal patron  85–86, 90–92, 95 Yaḥyá al-Anṭaki (c. 980–1066)  67 Z̤aḥḥāk 85 Zand  89–90, 94–95, 98 Zand ī Wahman Yasn  92, 94 Zartusht ibn Bahrām ibn Pazhdū 92 Zeno (d. 491), Byzantine emperor 184–93 Zoroaster  22, 85–89, 91, 93, 94, 98, 111 Zarātusht, see Zoroaster Zoroastrians  93, 103–08, 110, 111 n. 40, 112 n. 41, 114–15