Tag Archives: hagiography

The Structure of Argumentation in Pseudo-Axumite Hagiography IV: Conclusion

This is the fourth of four blog-posts going back to a paper at the International Congress at Leeds in 2017: I. Introduction II. Aregawi as Pachomios‘ son III. The saints’ interaction with the Aksumite kings IV. Conclusion

In conclusion, Stephen Kaplan wrote, though not specifically of the 9 saints, that “Ethiopian hagiographic literature, despite its saintly subject matter, did not partake of the exalted status of canonical literature. The monk writing a gadl felt free to shape and supplement his material to his purposes because he knew that no one was compelled to accept the truth of his narrative.” Continue reading The Structure of Argumentation in Pseudo-Axumite Hagiography IV: Conclusion

The Structure of Argumentation in Pseudo-Axumite Hagiography III: The saints’ interaction with the Aksumite kings

This is the third of four blog-posts going back to a paper at the International Congress at Leeds in 2017: I. Introduction II. Aregawi as Pachomios‘ son III. The saints’ interaction with the Aksumite kings IV. Conclusion

Finally, I will discuss is the saints’ interaction with the Aksumite kings, which would have been chronologically impossible had they trained with Pachomios. The authors of the chosen gadlat wrote their holy men into established late antique narrative traditions surrounding Kaleb and by doing so not only negotiated their role in this ostensibly revived Solomonid kingdom but simultaneously used these traditions to present their own ideas of what the role of a secular king ought to be. Continue reading The Structure of Argumentation in Pseudo-Axumite Hagiography III: The saints’ interaction with the Aksumite kings

The Structure of Argumentation in Pseudo-Axumite Hagiography II: Aregawi as Pachomios‘ son

This is the second of four blog-posts going back to a paper at the International Congress at Leeds in 2017: I. Introduction II. Aregawi as Pachomios‘ son III. The saints’ interaction with the Aksumite kings IV. Conclusion

The first narrative oddity is the most conspicuous: The saints’ time in training with the famous 4th-century Egyptian monk, Pachomios, which is not chronologically feasible, given the fact that they later meet 6th century Aksumite kings. When Abba Aregawi found Pachomios in the Thebaid of “the Greek country,” Pachomios was immediately taken by his piety and accepted him as a student. After a lengthy period of training, and having passed all the necessary tests of his character, Aregawi, now 40 according to the text, stood before Pachomios. Pachomios then dressed him in his new uniform, the eskema and said “May god bless your eskema, as he gave his blessing to my fathers, Abba Antonyos and Abba Maqaris (Makarios).” Continue reading The Structure of Argumentation in Pseudo-Axumite Hagiography II: Aregawi as Pachomios‘ son

The Structure of Argumentation in Pseudo-Axumite Hagiography I: Introduction

The Nine Saints. Painting in the Abba Pentalewon Monastery near Aksum. Image taken by Ondřej Žváček; via WikiCommons; licence: CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en)

Ethiopian Christians have long venerated a group of monks from various cities in the Roman empire who allegedly arrived in Aksum in northeastern Ethiopia during the early- to mid-6th century CE. They are credited with establishing the first monasteries in Ethiopia and converting much of the country to Christianity. While the stories of individual saints might vary in some details, on the whole they tend to follow a predictable narrative structure, based closely on a highly popular Arabic translation of the 5th century Syriac hagiography of Saint Alexius of Rome, and other late antique texts translated from Greek and Coptic into Arabic, and then again into Ge’ez, or Classical Ethiopic. Continue reading The Structure of Argumentation in Pseudo-Axumite Hagiography I: Introduction