"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, May 9, 2022

Symeon Atop His Pillar in Late Antique Antioch

When a young boy more than a decade ago my oldest son was fascinated with the concept that a man could live atop a pillar. So I have always kept an eye out for new studies on the paradigmatic example of such living, who is treated in a new book by Lucy Parker, Symeon Stylites the Younger and Late Antique Antioch: From Hagiography to History (Oxford University Press, October 2022), 288pp.

About this book the publisher tells us this:

Symeon Stylites the Younger and Late Antique Antioch: From Hagiography to History is a study of the authority of the holy man and its limits in times of crisis. Lucy Parker investigates the tensions that emerged when increasingly ambitious claims about the powers of holy men came into conflict with undeniable evidence of their failures, and explores how holy men and their supporters responded to this. The work takes as its central figure Symeon Stylites the Younger (c.521-592), who, from his vantage point on a column on a mountain close to Antioch, witnessed a period of exceptional turbulence in the local area, which, in the sixth century, experienced plague, earthquakes, and Persian invasion. Through an examination of Symeon's own writings, as well as his hagiographic biography, it reveals that the stylite was a divisive figure who played upon social tensions and upon culturally sensitive areas such as paganism to carve out a role for himself as prophet and spiritual authority in the face of considerable opposition. It sets Symeon's life and cult in the context of Antioch and eastern Roman society, offering a new perspective on the state of the empire in the period before the rise of Islam. It argues that hagiography is an exceptionally rich source for the historian, offering insights into debates and tensions which reached to the heart of Christianity.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anonymous comments are never approved. Use your real name and say something intelligent.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...