remarks on a number of holy men of his own time, but not all of them became the focus of a later cult.42

There is a vast and diverse body of literature - hagiography in the proper sense - specifically devoted to promoting the memory of a saint and his cult.43 The most basic form of commemoration of a deceased martyr or holy man is the liturgical calendar, a simple list of 'birthdays' in heaven (dies natalis), which records the date and month of his death. The earliest such calendar of saints' days to survive is the Martyrology ofEdessa, written in Syriac, which was copied in 411. It was one of the sources of the so-called Martyrology of Jerome, which was compiled in around 450 in northern Italy and revised in Gaul more than a century later. This became the common basis for all later Latin martyrologies.44

Just as the cult of saints developed and expanded in the fourth to sixth centuries, so did its reflection in writing, leading to a new, Christian form of rhetoric.45 Authors adapted ancient literary genres to new use. Biographies were now written not only of famous statesmen and generals, but also of pagan holy men and of Christian saints. Athanasius' Life of Anthony, composed shortly after the latter's death in 356, served as the blueprint for all later saints' Lives. Jerome, the first Latin author to try his hand at the new genre, wrote his Life of Paul, a hermit near Thebes, and his Life ofHilarion, a monastic leader near Gaza in Palestine, as a marked counterpoint to Athanasius' emphasis on Anthony as the prototype of a holy man and on Egypt as the cradle of monasticism.46 Panegyrics were delivered not only to celebrate the arrival of the emperor in a city, but also to mark the adventus of a saint's relics. Victricius of Rouen, for example, in 396 hailed the arrival of a gift of relics from Ambrose in a speech and in the process formulated a detailed theology of relics that, even though they may be subdivided, are consubstantial with God. Tomb inscriptions in the form of short poems commemorating the life and career of the deceased now also served the purpose of honouring the saintly conduct and miraculous abilities of holy men and women.

Christian authors not only adapted pagan literary forms, but also developed entirely novel ways of writing about the saints. Sermons, which had been developed to explicate Scripture and provide moral exhortation, could on

43 A. de Vogué, Histoire litteraire; H. Delehaye, The legends of the saints; R. Aigrain, L'hagiographie.

44 J. Dubois, Les martyrologes du moyen âge latin; G. Philippart, Les legendiers latins et autres manuscrits hagiographiques.

45 Averil Cameron, Christianity and the rhetoric of empire.

46 A. A. R. Bastiaensen, 'Jerome hagiographe'.

0 0

Post a comment