IMC 2013: Sessions

Session 516: Purity and Pleasure: The Lives of Byzantine Clerics and Saints

Tuesday 2 July 2013, 09.00-10.30

Moderator/Chair:Stavroula Constantinou, Department of Byzantine & Modern Greek Studies, University of Cyprus, Nicosia
Paper 516-aSuffering for Salvation: The Saint as a Scapegoat
(Language: English)
Andria Andreou, Department of Byzantine & Modern Greek Studies, University of Cyprus, Nicosia
Index terms: Byzantine Studies, Hagiography, Language and Literature - Greek, Religious Life
Paper 516-bEucharistic Purity and the Problem of Clerical Continence in 12th-Century Byzantium
(Language: English)
Maroula Perisanidi, Classics, Ancient History & Archaeology, University of Nottingham
Index terms: Byzantine Studies, Canon Law, Liturgy
Paper 516-cPriests and Sensuality: The Perception of the Ethical Collapse in the Late Medieval Crete
(Language: English)
Eleftherios Despotakis, National & Kapodistrian University, Athens / Università Ca' Foscari, Venezia
Index terms: Byzantine Studies, Ecclesiastical History, Historiography - Medieval, Mentalities

Paper -a:
The proposed paper addresses the theme of a saint appearing in certain hagiographical texts as a scapegoat, as he/she provokes a society’s established norms and thus draws collective violence against him/her. The issue of a saint appearing as scapegoat constitutes an essential feature of three types of Byzantine hagiographical texts: the Lives of female cross-dressers, the Lives of holy fools and the martyrs’ Passions. These three types of saints perceive the earthly life as illusionary and the afterlife as fulfilling instead. They thus realise the collective violence directed against them as a form of corporeal-spiritual trial that contributes to their spiritual salvation – which equates their meaning of pleasure.

Paper -b:
One of the most common justifications for clerical continence given in the Byzantine canonical commentaries of the 12th century is grounded in the clerics’ handling of the Eucharist. Bishops, priests, deacons and subdeacons are throughout the canons asked to abstain from their wives because they handle the holy things. This explicit association between sexual continence and the Eucharistic sacrifice raises questions of ritual purity. This paper will examine the canonical commentaries written by Theodore Balsamon, John Zonaras, and Alexios Aristenos in order to establish the impact of purity on the rules of clerical continence.

Paper -c:
By focusing on Crete during the 14th and 15th century, this paper aims at illustrating several forms of earthly pleasure experienced by the Greek and Latin clergy of the island and especially the desire of women. Although the moral decadence was expressed by scholars in poems and sermons, more consideration is needed regarding how much literature differs from the historical reality and to what extent this ethical collapse was related to the approaching catastrophe of the world, expected according to the Byzantine Era in 1492.