Archive for the ‘female saints’ Tag

Exemplum Davidicum: Saint Domna and her feigned madness   Leave a comment

In the story of the saint Domna (cf. BHO 457), who is commemorated on Kałoc’ 22/Dec 30 and is said to have been a young pagan priestess converted to Christianity, there is an instance of her feigned madness to avoid having to interact with the other inhabitants of the prison into which she had been cast. The hagiographer explicitly models her madness on that of David in 1 Sam 21. First, then, here are the relevant verses from the Armenian Bible (Zohrab), followed by the few lines from the synaxarion reading for Domna and her companions (PO 18: 142). As usual, vocabulary is included.

1 Sam 21:13-15

13 եւ այլակերպեաց առաջի ն(ո)ր(ա) զերեսս իւր, եւ պատճառեցա́ւ յաւուր յայնմիկ. եւ կաքաւէ́ր առ դուրս քաղաքին, եւ ծորեցուցանէր զլորձունս իւր ՛ի վ(ե)ր(այ) մօրուաց իւրոց, եւ յափսիթե́րս խաղայր։

  • այլակերպեմ, -եցի to transform, change, disguise
  • երես, ի, երեսք, -սաց face
  • պատճառեմ, -եցի to allege, pretend
  • աւուր gen/dat/loc sg աւր day
  • այնմիկ gen/dat/loc sg (long form) այն dem adj
  • կաքաւեմ, -եցի to dance
  • ծորեցուցանեմ, -ուցի to make flow (cf. ծորիմ, -եցայ to trickle, flow, leak)
  • լորձունք, -ձանց spit, slobber (n.)
  • մօրուք, -րուաց beard
  • յապսիթերս on all fours (vel sim.)
  • խաղամ, -ացի to play, jump, frolic, joke

14 Եւ ասէ Անքուս ցծառայս իւր. ահա տեսէ́ք զայրն՝ այսահար՝ եւ ընդէ՞ր մուծէք զնա առիս.

  • ասեմ, ասացի to say
  • ծառայ, -ից servant
  • տեսանեմ, տեսի to see
  • այր man
  • այսահար demon-possessed, demoniac (< այս evil spirit)
  • մուծանեմ, -ծի to introduce, bring in

15 միթէ կարօ՞տ ինչ իցեմ ես այսահարօք, զի ածէք զդա այսահարել առաջի իմ. մի́ մտցէ դա ՛ի տուն։

  • միթէ is it that…?
  • կարօտ, ից in need
  • իցեմ pres subj 1sg եմ to be
  • ածեմ, ածի to carry, bring
  • այսահարիմ, -եցայ to rave, be frantic, act like a madman
  • մտանեմ, մտի to enter (aor subj 3sg)
  • տուն, տան, տանց home, house, family

From the synaxarion:

Եւ Դոմնա աղախինն Քրիստոսի ի հնարս մտեալ իմաստութեամբ որով կարասցէ զերծանիլ յանօրինացն բնակցութենէ, եւ ըստ մարգարէին Դաւթի այլագունեցաւ դիմօք որպէս այսահար, եւ բանս բարբառէր անպատշաճս։

  • աղախին female slave, maidservant
  • հնար, -ի, -ք, -րից means, way, utmost diligence, trick
  • մտանեմ, մտի to enter
  • իմաստութիւն wisdom, understanding
  • որով inst sg որ rel pron
  • կարեմ, կարացի to be able (aor subj 3sg)
  • զերծանիմ, -ծայ to be freed, delivered, escape
  • անօրէն, -ինի, -ինաւ unjust, wicked
  • բնակցութիւն living together (n.)
  • մարգարէ, -ից prophet
  • այլագունիմ, -եցայ to turn pale, discolor
  • դէմք, դիմաց face
  • այսահար demon-possessed, demoniac (< այս evil spirit)
  • բան, -ից word
  • բարբառիմ, -եցայ to speak, cry out
  • անպատշաճ unsuitable, absurd, improper

English’d:

Domna, the maidservant of Christ, having gotten into the means by which knowledge she might be able to escape having to be with the unjust people there, like David the prophet she made her face pale like a demoniac and was crying out absurd expressions.

Bayan’s FT:

La servante du Christ Domna chercha avec sagesse comment elle pourrait éviter la cohabitation des impies, et, à l’exemple du prophète David, elle changea son visage en celui d’un possédé et se mit à proférer des paroles incohérentes.

While the vocabulary between the verses in 1 Sam is not absolutely mimicked in the synaxarion, the writer has nevertheless made the comparison explicit. The following of biblical exemplars, whether explicit or not, is a hallmark of hagiography, and here we have an example of a clear case of explicit imitation of a biblical figure.

And with that, I wish you all a happy year’s end and new year’s beginning!

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A treasury of Arabic (Garšūnī) hagiography: Saint Mark’s, Jerusalem, № 199   Leave a comment

The first Garšūnī manuscript that I remember studying closely is SMMJ 199, a huge manuscript copied in 1733-1734 and now divided into two parts due to its size. Altogether, it is 750 folios long, with 90 distinct longer or shorter hagiographic pieces. Fortunately the colophon has also survived. This colophon, with a few Syriac elements, but mostly in Garšūnī and Arabic, tells us not only the completion date, but the beginning date, where it was copied (and translated), and about its textual basis. It was copied and translated at Dayr al-Zaʿfarān from a Syriac manuscript dated 1490 AG (= 1178/9 CE) “into the Garšūnī language” by the scribe of this manuscript himself, Bišāra of Aleppo.

SMMJ 199B, f. 750v

SMMJ 199B, f. 750v

Among the later notes to the manuscript is one on f. 367v by Yulius, Metr. of Malabar dated 1933.

SMMJ 199a, f. 367v

SMMJ 199a, f. 367v

According to notes on f. 751 of SMMJ 199 B, the manuscript was purchased in Aleppo and donated to Saint Mark’s in 1874.

William Macomber’s catalog of the manuscript for the BYU microfilm project is available here, and the earlier record by Graf is in Oriens Christianus n.s. 3 (1913): 311-327. I am finishing up the new record of the manuscript for HMML’s own catalog now, but here is an alphabetical index that I made some time ago (also in PDF here: SMMJ_199_index). A few more images from the manuscript follow the index.

The stories are alphabetized by the names of the saints (or the miraculous events) themselves. The parenthetical reference to Graf is to vol. 1 of his Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur (Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1944)

A
Aaron, 187a-195b (Graf 523)
ʿAbd Al-Maṣīḥ, 651b-657a (Graf 523)
Abel, see below under Martyrs
Abḥai, 513a-524a (Graf 523)
Abraham, 401a-409a (Graf 523)
Abraham of Qidun, 174b-182a (Graf 523)
Abraham of Kashkar, 310a-311b (Graf 523)
Addai, 545b-547a (Graf 524)
Agrippas, see under Lawrence & Agrippas
Andronicus & Athanasia his wife, 153b-156a (Graf 404)
Antonius, 4b-33b (Graf 312)
Arcadius, son of Xenophon, see under Xenophon
Archelides, 138a-142b (Graf 498)
Athanasia, see under Andronicus
Athanasius, 446b-452a (Graf 315)
Awgen, 323a-340a (Graf 525)
Awtil, 166b-171a (Graf 524)

B
Bacchus, see under Sergius & Bacchus
Barbara & Juliana, 714b-716a (Graf 499ff.)
Barsawma, 226a-265b (Graf 524)
Miracles of Basil, 462a-469b (Graf 328)
Basilia, see under Eugenia
Bayt Al-Šuhadāʾ, 313a-323a (Graf 525)
Bishoi, 67a-81a (Graf 539)

C
Children of the rulers of Rome & Antioch, 150b-153b
Christopher the Barbarian, 642a-646b (Graf 500)
Clement of Rome, 440b-443a (Graf 304)
The Invention of the Cross, 412a-414b (Graf 244)
Cyprian & Justa, 494a-498a (Graf 517)
Cyriacus & his mother Julitta, 646b-648b (Graf 500)

D
Daniel of Scetis, 156a-159a (Graf 403)
Daniel & the Virgins, 675a-677b (Graf 403)
Daniel of Ǧabal Galaš, 266a-272a
Dimet, 171b-174b (Graf 525)
Dionysius, see under Peter & Paul
Dometius, see under Maximus

E
Ephrem the Syrian, 453b-462a (Graf 433)
Eugenia, her family, & Basilia, 723a-729b (Graf 501)
Eulogius the stonecutter, 156a-159a (Graf 403)
Eulogius the Egyptian, 390b-400a (Graf 526)
Euphrosune, 689a-693a (Graf 501)
Eupraxia, 677b-684a (Graf 518)
Eustathius, see under Placidus
Evagrius, 362a-363b (Graf 399)

F
Faith, Hope, & Love, & their mother Wisdom, 719a-723a (Graf 513ff.)
Febronia, 729b-737a (Graf 502)
The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, 570b-574a (Graf 510)

G
George, 578b-582a (Graf 502-504)
Gerasimus, 308a-310a (Graf 408)
Gregory the Illuminator, 484a-494a (Graf 310, 518)
Gregory Thaumaturgus, 479b-484a (Graf 309)

H
Habib, 635b-638b (Graf 526)
Hagna, 718a-719a (Graf 526)
Hilaria, 684b-689a (Graf 526)
The Himyarites, 624b-631b (Graf 516)

I
Ignatius, 437b-439b (Graf 305)
The Image of Christ made by the Jews in Tiberias, 366a-379b (Graf 245)
Invention (of the Cross), see above under Cross
Isaiah of Aleppo, 349b-356a (Graf 528)
Isaiah of Scete, 363b-366a (Graf 403)

J
Jacob, 582a-585b (Graf 504ff.)
Jacob the Anchorite, 272a-277a (Graf 527)
Jacob Baradaeus, 527a-533a
Jacob of Nisibis, 452a-453b (Graf 527)
Jacob the Recluse, 379b-390a (Graf 527)
Jacob of Sarug, 526b-527a (Graf 452)
John the Anchorite, 409a-412a (Graf 527)
John the Baptist, 434a-437b (Graf 506-508)
John Chrysostom, 469b-479b (Graf 353ff)
John of Edessa, see under Paul of Cnidus
John the Evangelist, 422b-434a (Graf 261ff.)
John of Kfar Sanya, 590a-599a (Graf 527)
John of Tella, 533a-545b (Graf 528)
John of the Well, 290b-294a (Graf 527)
John, son of the emperor (John of the Golden Gospel), 142a-146a (Graf 505)
John the Short, 81a-98a (Graf 534)
John, son of Xenophon, see under Xenophon
Juliana, see under Barbara & Juliana
Julianus, 182a-187a (Graf 367)
Justa, see under Cyprian

L
Lawrence & Agrippas, 612b-624b (Graf 528)

M
Macarius, 33b-52a (Graf 395)
Malchus, 340a-349b (Graf 528)
Malchus of Clysma, 280a-282b (Graf 529)
Mamas, his father Theodotus, & his wife Rufina, 648b-651b (Graf 520)
Mari(n)a, 693a-694a (Graf 508)
Mary the martyr, 716a-718a (Graf 528)
Mary the Egyptian, 698b-703a (Graf 508)
Mark of Ǧabal Tarmaq, 110b-114a (Graf 512)
Mark the Merchant, 286b-290a
Martinianus, 277a-278a (Graf 510)
The Holy Martyrs, beginning with Abel, 564b-566b (Graf 528)
The Assumption of the Virgin Mary, 414b-420b (Graf 249-251)
Maximus & Dometius, sons of Emperor Valentinus, 52a-67a (Graf 536)

N
Nicholas, also known as Zakhe, 511a-513a (Graf 511)

O
Onesima & other women, 669a-672a (Graf 529)
Another on Onesima (the same martyr as above), 672a-675a (Graf 529)

P
Pantaleon, 604a-609b (Graf 521)
Pappus, 638b-642a (Graf 529)
Paul of Alexandria, 1b-4b (Graf 512)
Paul (the Apostle), see under Peter & Paul
Paul of Cnidus & John of Edessa, 506a-511a (Graf 529)
Pelagia, 703a-709b (Graf 529)
Peter, 443b-446b (Graf 309)
Peter & Paul, Dionysius’ Letter on the Apostles, 420b-422b (Graf 270)
Pethion, 657a-662a (Graf 529ff)
Petra, 311b-313a (Graf 530)
Pistis, Elpis, Agape, & Sophia, see under Faith et alii
Placidus, also known as Eustathius, 566b-570b (Graf 502)
Plotinus, 498a-506a (Graf 530)

R
Rechab, the sons of, (Rechabites) 282b-286b (Graf 214)
Reuben (Rubil), 162b-166a (Graf 530)
Risha, 146a-150b (in two parts) (Graf 498)
Romanus, 609b-612b (Graf 530)
Rufina, see under Mamas et alii

S
Saba of Alexandria, 278a-280a (Graf 530)
Seleucus, see under Stratonike
Serapion, 114a-132b (Graf 530)
Sergius & Bacchus, 585b-590a (Graf 512)
The Seven Martyrs of Samosata, 599a-604a
The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, 574a-578b (Graf 512ff.)
Severus (Letter), 524b-526b (Graf 419)
Shenoute, 98a-110b (Graf 463)
Shmona & Gurya, 631b-635b (Graf 530)
Simeon of Kfar ʿĀbdīn, 159a-162b (Graf 530)
Simeon Stylites, 196a-226a (Graf 513)
Simeon the Fool (Salos), 294a-308a (Graf 409)
Stratonike and her fiance Seleucus, 737a-750a (Graf 530)
Susanna, 695b-698a (Graf 530)

T
Thecla & other female martyrs, 709b-714a (Graf 514)
Theodore, martyred in Euchaita, 662a-669a (Graf 514)
Theodotus, father of Mamas, see under Mamas et alii
Theodotus of Amida, 547a-564b

V
A Certain Virgin, 694a-695b
Another Virgin, 698a-698b

X
Xenophon & his sons, John & Arcadius, 132b-137b (Graf 515)

Y
Yareth, 356b-362a (Graf 531)

Z
Zakhe, see under Nicholas

Example of the mise en page. SMMJ 199A, f. 52r.

Example of the mise en page. SMMJ 199A, f. 52r.

Scribal note on Mar Malkē. SMMJ 199A, f. 349v.

Scribal note on Mar Malkē. SMMJ 199A, f. 349v.

SMMJ 199A, f. 290v, John of the Well

SMMJ 199A, f. 290v, John of the Well

SMMJ 199B, f. 698v, Mary the Egyptian

SMMJ 199B, f. 698v, Mary the Egyptian

SMMJ 199B, f. 703r, Pelagia

SMMJ 199B, f. 703r, Pelagia

An episode from the Martyrdom of Barbara   1 comment

Today (Old Style, Dec. 4) is the commemoration of Saint Barbara (and her companion Juliana). Greek, Armenian, and Syriac texts are listed at BHG 213-218 and BHO 132-134. In addition, there are truncated notices of the synaxarion in Arabic (ed. Basset, PO 3: 403-404) and Gǝʕǝz (ed. Grébaut, PO 15: 651-654, with the sälam on 674-675). This Georgian icon of the saint has the following inscription at the bottom in asomt’avruli: წმიდაო ქალწულ-მოწამეო ბ(არ)ბ(ა)რე ევ(ედრ)ე ღ(მერ)თსა ჩუენთჳს (“O holy virgin-martyr Babara, plead with God for us!”).

From here.

From here.

Well known is the metamorphosis (Verwandlung) of Kafka’s Gregor Samsa “zu einem ungeheuren Ungeziefer”, but in this hagiographic episode we have another metamorphosis, a change into beetles thanks the curse of a saint! Prior to the part of the narrative I want to focus on, mainly for its fantastic elements, Barbara’s father, who is not a Christian, has hired some craftsmen to make a bath — balani in Syriac, but a tall tower (πύργος ὑψηλός) in Greek — in her name with two windows, but his daughter, who is beautiful, of course, and a Christian, in her father’s absence orders the builders to add an extra window, so that when he returns he finds three windows, an obvious index to the Trinity. Below I give part of the next part of the story in English, translated from Syriac; the corresponding Greek text is in Joseph Viteau, Passions des saints Écaterine et Pierre d’Alexandrie, Barbara et Anysia, publiées d’après les manuscrits grecs de Paris et de Rome, avec un choix de variantes et une traduction latine (Paris, 1897), pp. 91, 93; the book is now at archive.org here. The Syriac text is available in two places. In 1900, Agnes Smith Lewis, in her still significant volumes on females saints in Syriac, gave it along with an English translation: Select Narratives of Holy Women, vol. 1 (Syr.) 104-105, vol. 2 (ET) 79-80. Unfortunately, her manuscript was illegible at a crucial part, and thus her translation is missing some words, but Bedjan’s previously published text (AMS III 348-349, which appeared in 1892) has it, and it is on the basis of his text that I give the translation below.

In lieu of typing out the Syriac text from Bedjan, here are the necessary images.

bedjan_ams_III_348 bedjan_ams_III_349

Here is my translation:

When the building was finished and the bath made, her evil father, Dioscorus, returned from his journey. He entered the bath to see it, and saw three windows there. He asked and said to the craftsmen, “You’ve installed three windows?” The craftsmen said to him, “It was your daughter that commanded us to do so.” So he turned to his daughter and said, “Did you command the craftsmen to open [sic!] three windows?” She answered and said to him, “Yes, father, well have I commanded, because there are three windows that give light to everyone who comes into the world, and just two are dark.” So her father took her and went down to the bath, and she said to him, “How much more splendidly these three windows give light than two!” Again the maidservant of Christ, Barbara, said to him, “Observe now, father, and see: here is the Father, here is the Son, and here is the Holy Spirit.”

[p. 349]

When her father heard these things, he was filled with anger and great wrath, and he drew the sword that was hanging on him in order to kill her. But Saint Barbara prayed, and the crag that was near her opened up and received her within it and immediately put her out on the mountain that was there to receive her. Two shepherds, who were shepherding on that mountain, saw her fleeing, and when her father approached them, he questioned them whether they had seen his daughter. One of them, because he wanted her to be rescued, swore that he had not seen her, but the other one pointed his finger and showed her to her father. When the saint saw what he had done, she cursed him and immediately he and his sheep became beetles [ḥabšušyātā]: to this day these beetles congregate on the saint’s grave. As her father was going up the mountain after her, he found her and pulled her bitterly: he grabbed her by the hair of her head, drug her, brought her down from the mountain, brought her in and imprisoned her in a nasty room [ḥabšāh b-baytā ḥad šiṭā]. He closed and sealed [the door] in front of her with his ring, and he set guards over her, so that no one would be able to go in with her, until he went and informed Marcianus the governer about her, that he might eliminate her.

The whole text of the martyrdom has other happenings of interest, including some that have verbal echoes with parts of the text given above, but for now, in this part of the tale, we see a saint teleporting through rock, and a shepherd and his flock transmogrified into beetles. In the Greek version, the sheep do indeed become beetles, as here, but the informer shepherd himself becomes a stone instead: καὶ εὐθέως ἐγένοντο τὰ πρόβατα αὐτοῦ κανθαρίδες καὶ προσμένουσιν τῷ τιμίῳ αὐτῆς λειψάνῳ, αὐτὸς δὲ ἐγένετο λίθος, καὶ ἔστιν ἕως τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας. Notably, the synaxarion texts in Arabic and Gǝʕǝz lack the part about the shepherds, and thus the beetles! But since we’re here, I’ll append the sälam from Gǝʕǝz:

ሰላም ፡ ለበርባራ ፡ ዘአግሀደት ፡ ሃይማኖታ።
እንዘ ፡ ታርኢ ፡ ሥላሴ ፡ በውስተ ፡ መስኮተ ፡ ቤታ።
ኢያፍርሃ ፡ መጥባሕት ፡ ወሞሰርተ ፡ ሐፂን ፡ ኢያሕመመታ።
ሰላም ፡ ሰላም ፡ ለዩልያና ፡ ካልእታ።
እንተ ፡ ሰቀልዋ ፡ በ፪ኤ ፡ አጥባታ፨

Greetings to Barbara, who publicly announced her faith,
Showing the Trinity in the window of her house.
The sword does not frighten her, the iron saw does not harm her.
Greetings, greetings to Juliana, her companion,
Whom they hung up by her breasts.

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