The demoniacal influences of Late Antiquity in early Byzantine hagiography: the black demons of the Life of Simeon the Fool.
Javier Fuertes, université de Cantabria
Through demoniacal epiphanies contained in the Life of Symeon the Fool, written by bishop Leontius of Neapolis, this work aims to study the influence of cultural Late Antiquity’s notions in early Byzantine hagiography, analyzing the traditions which explain and justify the black appearance of demons in that work.
The author begins by describing demon’s epiphanies in the text, where evil spirits are described as dogs, terrifying spirits or Ethiopians, but always black, placing them in the narrative context of the story. Then, he combines both historical and anthropological approaches to analyze the precedents and parallels of this particular dark appearance in order to understand its origins and explanation. Finally, the author concludes that these epiphanies are drawn not only from the image of darkness associated with the evil forces in the evangelical literature but also from pagan traditions about daimones as well as from certain Greco-Roman prejudices regarding somatic and racial archetypes.
Symeon the Fool: gifts, demons and other particularities of an apparently strange monk.
Javier Fuertes (Université de Cantabria de Santander)
Through Leontius’ Life of Symeon the Fool, the author aims to discuss on the influence of ideas, patterns and literary topics of Late Antiquity’s hagiographical tradition on early byzantine hagiography, focusing especially on ascetic and demonic aspects. Moreover, he also wants to verify if « fool saints » could appear as counter-cultural holy men, since their behavior bears a remembrance to their own enemies: magicians, sinners and demons.
To put these ideas into effect, the author begins from the « usual holy man » which literary hagiographical sources tend to show us. Then, he takes Symeon the Fool as archetype of « fool saint », giving examples of parallels between Leontius’ account with other previous ascetic texts to prove the relationship between the Life and the Late Antiquity’s hagiographical tradition. Finally, he analyzes Symeon’s actions and concludes that, although they were demonized by later Christian writers due to their rebelliousness and insubordination to bishops, the fool monks continue keeping the common patterns of ascetic holiness.