Sunday, 3 May 2015

Raducan Ana Maria: Types of Audience in Saint Symeon the New Theologian's Hymnns of Divine Love

This paper aims to analyse the two types of audience taken into account by the editor of Saint Symeon the New Theologian's Hymns of Divine Eros. I consider this author not only as a mystical saint, living isolated from the world, but as an active person involved in public life, as abbot surrounded by disciples, monks and laymen alike. I argue that there is a tight interaction between the concepts of author, editor, and audience in the tenth-eleventh centuries in Byzantium. To publish and to transmit a text required equally money and influence. The author, Symeon the New Theologian, was considered a saint from his lifetime in a certain milieu, but contested by the officials of the Church. His works were edited and transmitted some decades after his death by his disciple, Niketas Stethatos, abbot of the monastery Studion. His aim was to rehabilitate his master, who had been exiled, and to demonstrate his sanctity, in the context of political changes and religious crisis. This work was intended to be heard and read by Symeon’s disciples, but the editor took into account two types of audience: one of detractors, with certain literary and philosophical tastes, and one of admirers, who had a certain spiritual quest. The names of some admirers, who strongly recommended the Hymns as a contemplative masterpiece and their author as a truly mystical saint, are mentioned in the beginning of the work. These writings could reflect a schema of social connections in the tenth-eleventh centuries in Byzantium.

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