Late medieval literature

The Supernatural Agents in Medieval and Early Modern Bulgarian Charms: Magical Functions and Quotidian Contexts

  • Summary/Abstract

    This article explores the quotidian functions and roles of the supernatural powers, attested by Bulgarian charms from the middle Ages and Early Modern times. Using the textual source material as a starting point, the focus is put on the supernatural presence as a cultural phenomenon in the context of quotidian sphere. The supernatural power of evil and good act within the frames of a crisis and its seizure is analyzed. They are integral part of the system of charms and other powerful words, the purpose of which is to counteract the serious challenges in everyday life. Thus the supernatural powers create dynamic and constant interaction between the human and supernatural world. These interactions could be seen also as complicated relations of the powers which sustain the verbal magic as effective network for crisis management.

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A Russian "Spiritually Beneficial Tale" Featuring Andrew The Fool

  • Summary/Abstract

    The text of “A Sermon on a very sinful” man which is published in this article came down to us in seven copies dating back to the late 16th – 17th centuries. In several cases, it is included in the Russian translation of the Life of Andrew the Fool, but it has no Greek prototype either in this vita or in Byzantine hagiography in general. At the same time, the text follows the rules of Byzantine hagiography. Some of the Greek “spiritually beneficial tales” exhibit a pattern that can be labeled as “reconciliation between the quick and the dead”. These tales could be known to Old Russian litterati through their Slavonic translations. The Vita of Andrew the Fool was immensely popular in Rus’: its Russian translation survived, until the beginning of the 17th century, in 56 manuscripts, but the appearance of Andrew the Fool as a character of the “spiritually beneficial tale” at the first glance looks strange: not a single episode of his vita resembles reconciliation between “the quick and the dead”. The Greek tradition has not preserved any tales in which a criminal guilty of abominable crimes would address for absolution first to a hermit and later to a holy fool. Yet, such tale could easily have existed, since we have a Latin story in which this happens. Since the setting of the novel is obviously Early Byzantine, it can be surmised that there has existed its Greek version which could also have been known to the author of our text. The first half of the text is a heart-rending story of an evil woman and her malicious parents who entangled her husband killing his own parents. There are no analogies to such tale in Byzantine hagiography. We can suppose that the tale combines some hagiographic and some folklore features. It is an original story which demonstrates how the Byzantine genre developed within the Russian cultural milieu of the post-Byzantine epoch.

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Once Again on the Cult and Hagiographic Texts about St. Paraskeve/Petka of Rome in the South-Slavic Middle Ages

  • Summary/Abstract

    The veneration of St Paraskeve/ Petka of Rome became widespread rather early among the Orthodox Slavs on the Balkans, as is clear by a well-known historical record from 1234 (which states that at that time the Life and the Office of this Roman martyr were accessible everywhere in medieval Bulgaria) and by the numerous manuscript copies of the texts dedicated to her. Her Live is preserved in several different versions witnessing both to independent translations from Greek and to attempts to create a free narrative based upon the already existing Slavic texts. Furthermore, the literary tradition of St. Paraskeve of Rome, in addition to being interesting in itself, has proved to be important for the Balkan cultural and religious history in at least two other ways: it deeply influences the cult of St Parakeve/Petka of Epibatai (the most popular Balkan woman-saint) and it was fundamental for building-up the popular cult of St Paraskeve/Petka on the Balkans. The article provides an edition of a little-known passion of this Roman martyr made according to the three preserved South-Slavic transcripts of the text (Savina Monastery, MS 29, 1380; Moscow, State Historical Museum, Xludov collection, MS 241, middle of the 15th century; and Plovdiv, National library, MS 101, end of the 16th-beginning of the 17th century).

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The Scribal Centre at the Village of Adzhar in the 17th century: New Data

  • Summary/Abstract

    The article offers new attributions and localizations of ten Adzhar monuments on the basis of a paleographic analysis. The scribal activity in the centre is viewed in comparison with that of the rest of the calligraphic centers in the Bulgarian lands in the XVII century. The analysis of the repertoire of Adzhar monuments in the light of the new material brings about the conclusion that in the second half of the century the settlement became a literary and educational centre of a parish type, where the book copying was directly bound with the preparation of priests.

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