Georgian influence on Byzantine art: the case of Varzahan
The article is dedicated to Georgian influence on Varzahan churches in Pontus.
The book contains papers delievered for the 10th annual conference "Nish and Byzantium".
The prayer in the liturgy of Basil for those condemned to the mines, taken to be a relic of the time of pagan persecutions, is shown by Slavonic mss. to have addressed a continuing practice of the Christian emperors themselves.
The Apostle Andrew, which the New Testament mentions very sparingly, appears in the Acta Andreæ (2 half. II c.) as a preacher of encratism, but in the Byzantine era these acts have been revised by removing the “heresy” and served as a statement of the cult of the apostle in Patras in the Peloponnese. In addition, the mention of Byzantion has been interpreted afterwards as the foundation of Constantinopolitan siege and updated by metropolitan legends. Andrew is also a hero of the apocryphal acts which show him together with the other apostles. Among these quite fantastic narratives, one must mention the Acts of Andrew and Matthias (beginning of the IV c.). The action takes place along the southern Black Sea coast. Particular data from all these sources were compiled from the VI c. in the so-called lists of the Apostles, and they in turn inﬂ uenced Epiphanius the Monk, who wrote in 815-843 The Life of Andrew – a very singular text in the tradition of Apostles’ stories. This life, where the Apostle acts in the boundaries of the Byzantine Empire of IX c., gave rise to a number of revisions in the IX-XI cc. (Nicetas Paphlagonian, Simeon Metaphrastes, etc.), but also inﬂ uenced the formation of the legends about Andrew’s preaching in Georgia and Russia. From the preacher of encratism he was at ﬁ rst, Andrew became the Apostle of Byzantium and its world.
Any person, even with no knowledge about Russia, easily identifies the image of St. Basil’s Cathedral in the Moscow Red Square. This cathedral is the symbol of Russia, yet few people know what made St. Basil so famous. This saint wandered about naked, bullied passersby, brawled at the marketplace and once even smashed a revered icon. Saints such as Basil overturn the conventional concept of sainthood. Why do they get away with any bizarre act that they commit? What is saintly about them?
Such saints are called ‘holy fools’. The concept of holy foolery is a spontaneous response of the religious consciousness to the “secularization” of the church; it is an attempt to blow up the world which is “lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot”.
In his lecture Ivanov will identify the prerequisites for this phenomenon, trace the way it was shaped by a religious mind, and follow the emergence of the first hagiographic texts telling about these paradoxical saints. Ivanov will demonstrate how actual towns’ madmen were “promoted to the rank” of holy fools, while subsequent generations of hagiographers sought to “fit” the actual insanity in the earlier established canon.
Sergey Ivanov will track down holy foolery from its origins in Egyptian monasteries through its evolution in the cities of Byzantium, describe its prime and its decline followed by a new flourish and a gradual fading on the Greek soil. He will also consider other phenomena similar to holy foolery, especially in medieval Italian culture. Ivanov will proceed to analyze Russian holy foolery, which borrowed some elements from the Byzantine model, but also reinterpreted it quite a bit. Examining both types of holy foolery side by side will shed new light on both cultures. Holy fools vanished in modern Greece. In Russia, however, they are deeply worshiped by the believers up till this day. What is happening to this phenomenon in a modern, secular society?