From the first centuries of Christianity, believers turned to the perfection modeled by saints for inspiration, and a tradition of recounting saints’ Lives flourished. The Latin narratives followed specific forms, dramatizing a virgin’s heroic resolve or a martyr’s unwavering faith under torture.In early medieval England, saints’ Lives were eagerly received and translated into the vernacular. The stories collected here by unknown authors are preserved in manuscripts dating from the eleventh and twelfth centuries. They include locally venerated saints like the abbess Seaxburh, as well as universally familiar ones like Nicholas and Michael the Archangel, and are set everywhere from Antioch to Rome, from India to Ephesus. These Lives also explore such topics as the obligations of rulers, marriage and gender roles, private and public devotion, the environment, education, and the sweep of human history. This volume presents new Old English editions and modern English translations of twenty-two unattributed saints’ Lives.
As the high-ranking Bishop of Alexandria from 328 to 373, Athanasius came into conflict with no fewer than four Roman emperors—Constantine himself, his son Constantius, Julian the Apostate, and the “Arian” Valens. In this new reconstruction of Athanasius’s career, Timothy D. Barnes analyzes the nature and extent of the Bishop’s power, especially as it intersected with the policies of these emperors.Repeatedly condemned and deposed by church councils, the Bishop persistently resurfaced as a player to contend with in ecclesiastic and imperial politics. Barnes’s work reveals that Athanasius’s writings, though a significant source for this period, are riddled with deliberate misinterpretations, which historians through the ages have uncritically accepted.Untangling longstanding misconceptions, Barnes reveals the Bishop’s true role in the struggles within Christianity, and in the relations between the Roman emperor and the Church at a critical juncture.
Created in the tenth century, most likely as an imperial commission, the Menologion is a collection of rewritings of saints’ lives originally intended to be read at services for Christian feast days. Yet Symeon Metaphrastes’s stories also abound in transgression and violence, punishment and redemption, love and miracles. They resemble Greek novels of the first centuries of the Common Era, highlighting intense emotions and focusing on desire, both sacred and profane.Symeon Metaphrastes was celebrated for rescuing martyrdom accounts and saints’ biographies that otherwise may have been lost. His Menologion, among the most important Byzantine works, represents the culmination of a well-established tradition of Greek Christian storytelling. A landmark of Byzantine religious and literary culture, the Menologion was revered for centuries—copied in hundreds of manuscripts, recited publicly, and adapted into other medieval languages. This edition presents the first English translation of six Christian novels excerpted from Symeon’s text, all of them featuring women who defy social expectations.
Nigel of Canterbury, also known as Longchamp and Whiteacre, wrote toward the end of the so-called Twelfth-Century Renaissance. He was a Benedictine monk of Christ Church when Thomas Becket was martyred, and a star of Anglo-Latin literature while the Angevin kings held sway over a vast empire that encompassed not only the British Isles but also western France.The Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library volume features, alongside the Latin, the first-ever English translation of Nigel’s second-longest poem, Miracles of the Virgin. The Miracles is the oldest extant collection of versified miracles of Mary in Latin and indeed in any language. The seventeen narratives, telling a gamut of tales from diabolic pacts to pregnant abbesses, gave scope for Nigel to display skills as a storyteller and stylist, while recounting the miraculous mercy of the Virgin. This supplement offers an extensive commentary to facilitate appreciation of the Miracles as poetry by a medieval writer deeply imbued in the long tradition of Latin literature.
The classic account of crisis and conversion.Aurelius Augustine (AD 354-430), one of the most important figures in the development of western Christianity and philosophy, was the son of a pagan, Patricius of Tagaste, and his Christian wife, Monnica. While studying to become a rhetorician, he plunged into a turmoil of philosophical and psychological doubts, leading him to Manichaeism. In 383 he moved to Rome and then Milan to teach rhetoric. Despite exploring classical philosophical systems, especially skepticism and Neoplatonism, his studies of Paul's letters with his friend Alypius, and the preaching of Bishop Ambrose, led in 386 to his momentous conversion from mixed beliefs to Christianity. He soon returned to Tagaste and founded a religious community, and in 395 or 396 became Bishop of Hippo.Confessions, composed ca. 397, is a spiritual autobiography of Augustine's early life, family, personal and intellectual associations, and explorations of alternative religious and theological viewpoints as he moved toward his conversion. Cast as a prayer addressed to God, though always conscious of its readers, Confessions offers a gripping personal story and a philosophical exploration destined to have broad and lasting impact, all delivered with Augustine's characteristic brilliance as a stylist.This edition replaces the earlier Loeb Confessions by William Watts.
In the fourth century a new narrative genre captured the imagination of the faithful—the moving accounts of the lives of Christian saints. Willing to die gruesome deaths or endure constant suffering, saints conveyed a powerful message: God was still present in the world. He continues to manifest His powers and communicate His messages through His special friends—the saints. What kind of Christianity do we find in these stories? In this original and provocative work, Aviad Kleinberg argues that the saints’ stories of medieval Europe were more than edifying entertainment; they retain an alternative theology, often quite different from the formal theology of the Church. By telling and retelling the story of virtue and salvation, by expanding the religious imagination of the West, they were shaping and reshaping Christianity itself.In this study of stories from the fourth through the fourteenth centuries, we meet the tender Perpetua bidding farewell to her infant son, Simeon Stylites turning himself into a rotting corpse, Francis of Assisi finding joy in suffering, and Fra Ginepro playing the fool, for Christ. We meet holy anchorites, headstrong virgins, fearless dragon slayers, and scheming politicians. Kleinberg unveils the inner contradictions, the subversive ideas, and the deadly power games that lay behind the making of the Western imagination. People, ideas, and passions—often relegated to the back pews—take center stage in this daring book. This is a story of how stories change lives.
Although there are several studies dedicated to the lives of Francis and Clare of Assisi, Gilberto Cavazos-González’s Greater Than a Mother’s Love is the first to investigate their spirituality in the context of family relationships. He delves into the writings of Francis and Clare and illustrates how both used observations of their various human relationships to understand their experiences with God. Accompanying this study is an exhaustive bibliography and several appendices that enhance this unique treatment of these two beloved and admired religious figures.
Often simply called the Holy Mountain, Mount Athos was the most famous center of Byzantine monasticism and remains the spiritual heart of the Orthodox Church today. This volume presents the Lives of Euthymios the Younger, Athanasios of Athos, Maximos the Hutburner, Niphon of Athos, and Philotheos. These five holy men lived on Mount Athos at different times from its early years as a monastic locale in the ninth century to the last decades of the Byzantine period in the early fifteenth century. All five were celebrated for asceticism, clairvoyance, and, in most cases, the ability to perform miracles; Euthymios and Athanasios were also famed as founders of monasteries.Holy Men of Mount Athos illuminates both the history and the varieties of monastic practice on Athos, individually by hermits as well as communally in large monasteries. The Lives also demonstrate the diversity of hagiographic composition and provide important glimpses of Byzantine social and political history.All the Lives in this volume are presented for the first time in English translation, together with authoritative editions of their Greek texts.
In the Roman and Byzantine Near East, the holy fool emerged in Christianity as a way of describing individuals whose apparent madness allowed them to achieve a higher level of spirituality. Insanity and Sanctity in Byzantium examines how the figure of the mad saint or mystic was used as a means of individual and collective transformation in the period between the birth of Christianity and the rise of Islam. It presents a novel interpretation in revealing the central role that psychology plays in social and historical development.Early Christians looked to figures who embodied extremes of behavior—like the holy fool, the ascetic, the martyr—to redefine their social, cultural, and mental settings by reading new values in abnormal behavior. Comparing such forms of extreme behavior in early Christian, pagan, and Jewish societies, and drawing on theories of relational psychoanalysis, anthropology, and sociology of religion, Youval Rotman explains how the sanctification of figures of extreme behavior makes their abnormality socially and psychologically functional. The sanctification of abnormal mad behavior created a sphere of ambiguity in the ambit of religious experience for early Christians, which brought about a deep psychological shift, necessary for the transition from paganism to Christianity.A developing society leaves porous the border between what is normal and abnormal, between sanity and insanity, in order to use this ambiguity as a means of change. Rotman emphasizes the role of religion in maintaining this ambiguity to effect a social and psychological transformation.
Theodore (759–826), abbot of the influential Constantinopolitan monastery of Stoudios, is celebrated as a saint by the Orthodox Church for his stalwart defense of icon veneration. Three important texts promoting the monastery and the memory of its founder are collected in The Life and Death of Theodore of Stoudios.In the Life of Theodore, Michael the Monk describes a golden age at Stoudios, as well as Theodore’s often antagonistic encounters with imperial rulers. The Encyclical Letter of Naukratios, written in 826 by his successor, informed the scattered monks of their leader’s death. Translation and Burial contains brief biographies of Theodore and his brother, along with an eyewitness account of their reburial at Stoudios.These works, translated into English for the first time, appear here alongside new editions of the Byzantine Greek texts.
Gregory of Tours served as bishop of Tours, then a city in the Frankish kingdom, from 573 to 594. Acclaimed by the French as “the father of our history” on account of his History of the Franks, he also wrote stories about holy men and women and about wondrous events he experienced, witnessed, or knew as miracles. In our times many people deny the existence of miracles, while others use the term so loosely that it becomes almost meaningless. Must a true miracle transcend “natural laws”?Gregory’s lively stories relate what he regarded as the visible results of holy power, direct or mediated, and its role in the lives of his contemporaries. His conversational narratives, which are largely without self-conscious stylistic effects, present unique, often moving, glimpses into his world. For Gregory, the frontiers between interior and exterior, God and matter, word or gesture and its referent, remained fluid.Lives and Miracles includes the texts of The Life of the Fathers, The Miracles of the Martyr Julian, and The Miracles of Bishop Martin.
The first English translation of the earliest Latin poems about miracles performed by the Virgin Mary, composed in twelfth-century Canterbury by a Benedictine monk who inspired Chaucer.Nigel (ca. 1135–1198), a Benedictine monk at Christ Church in Canterbury, is best known for The Mirror of Fools—a popular satire whose hero Burnellus the Ass is referenced in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Nigel’s oeuvre also includes other important poems and hagiography.The Miracles of the Virgin is the oldest Latin poem about miracles performed by Mary. This collection features seventeen lively tales in which the Virgin rescues a disappointed administrator from a pact with the devil, has a Roman emperor killed by a long-dead martyr, saves a Jewish boy from being burned alive, and shields an abbess from the shame of pregnancy. Each story illustrates the boundlessness of Mary’s mercy. In the Tract on Abuses, a letter that resembles a religious pamphlet, Nigel rails against ecclesiastical corruption and worldly entanglements.Alongside authoritative editions of the Latin texts, this volume offers the first translations of both works into English.
In Reading Medieval Latin with the Legend of Barlaam and Josaphat, Donka D. Markus offers comprehensive commentary on the 13th-century Dominican theologian Jacobus de Voragine’s retelling of the ancient story of the life of the Buddha that will resonate with contemporary students of Latin.
Jacobus’s version of the legend serves as a compelling, original Latin text. Vividly conveyed through parables, fables, and anecdotes, it naturally lends itself to a critical consideration of ethical principles and philosophical truths commonly shared across many cultures. With its rich stylistic devices and authentic classical Latin word order, it provides superb training for reading rhetorical prose before advancing to the works of more complex classical prose authors. At the same time, the text offers a unique opportunity for systematically learning the special features of Late and Medieval Latin. Included in this volume are two presentations of Jacobus’s text: one maintaining the original orthography reflecting Latin as it appears in medieval manuscripts, and one in which the orthography follows Classical Latin norms.
This textbook is designed for intermediate-level learners of Classical or Medieval Latin, whether in college, high school, or by self-directed study. The 5,000-word narrative text lends itself to a semester-long experience of reading one continuous work of prose. Each of the legend’s embedded stories can also be read as an independent selection with the help of the ample commentary, vocabulary, and grammar guidance. The extensive introduction provides the necessary background to contextualize the legend in its Latin iteration and sufficient historical information to make the reading meaningful for those without prior knowledge of Buddhism or medieval history. Additionally, this work makes Latin attractive to students of diverse backgrounds, as it highlights the language’s important role in disseminating the universally shared cultural legacy of humanity.
Revised and updated edition of the perennial Georgetown University Press classic, Saints of the Liturgical Year, this beautiful and comfortably sized guide is compact, but brimming with information. This edition includes over 260 brief biographies, including 33 new entries, as well as a glossary of terms to help explain the theology of the Roman Catholic Church. Based on the General Roman Calendar, presently in use in the Roman Catholic Church, it also includes the feasts, Saints, and Blesseds from the Liturgical Calendar of the Society of Jesus—known as the Jesuits—as officially observed within the Society of Jesus.
Offering inspiration and encouragement, Saints and Feasts of the Liturgical Year functions as an aid in introducing the faithful to the day's feast or to the saint whose memorial is being celebrated. As a gift, for personal or group study, and helpful for introducing parishioners to the history of the church, this book can also be used as a source of ideas for all pastors.
A collection of medieval tales of Byzantine saints, including some rejected by the Church, translated into English for the first time.The legends collected in Saints at the Limits, despite sometimes being viewed with suspicion by the Church, fascinated Christians during the Middle Ages—as related cults, multiple retellings, and contemporary translations attest. Their protagonists span the entire spectrum of Byzantine society, including foreigners, soldiers, ascetics, lustful women, beggars, and the sons and daughters of rulers. They travel to exotic lands, perform outlandish miracles, suffer extraordinary violence, reject family ties, save cities, destroy absolute rulers, and discover the divine. Some saints, like Markos the Athenian, are forgotten nowadays; others, like Saint George the Great Martyr, still command a wide appeal. Each, however, negotiates the limits of Byzantine imagination: the borders that separate the powerful from the outcasts, the real from the imaginary, the human from the beyond human. These stories, edited in Greek and translated into English here for the first time, continue to resonate with readers seeking to understand universal human fears and desires in their Byzantine guise.
While the modern world has largely dismissed the figure of the saint as a throwback, we remain fascinated by excess, marginality, transgression, and porous subjectivity—categories that define the saint. In this collection, Françoise Meltzer and Jas Elsner bring together top scholars from across the humanities to reconsider our denial of saintliness and examine how modernity returns to the lure of saintly grace, energy, and charisma.
Saints of Ninth- and Tenth-Century Greece collects funeral orations, encomia, and narrative hagiography. Together, these works illuminate one of the most obscure periods of Greek history—when holy men played central roles as the Byzantine administration reimposed control on southern and central Greece in the wake of Avar, Slavic, and Arab attacks and the collapse of the late Roman Empire. The bishops of the region provided much-needed leadership and institutional stability, while ascetics established hermitages and faced invaders. The Lives gathered here include accounts of Peter of Argos, which offers insight into episcopal authority in medieval Greece, and Theodore of Kythera, an important source for the history of piracy in the Aegean Sea.This volume, which illustrates the literary variety of saints’ Lives, presents Byzantine Greek texts written by locals in the provinces and translated here into English for the first time.
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