JAVIER FUERTES – Symeon the Fool

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.