Friday, 17 May 2019

Eirini Afentoulidou: Between Incantation and Prayer: From Late Antique Amulets to the Euchologia

Byzantine liturgy as crystallised in surviving Euchologia developed forms of expression that influenced other spheres of life. Yet the main features of the liturgical language remained distinct and recognisable, despite the creation of new prayers. However, several later Euchologia include prayers with elements known from Late Antique incantations. These can be entire formulas, or features such as abjurations and commands, detailed lists of dangers to be averted, angelology, otherwise unattested historiolae, etc. These prayers pertain to concerns often addressed in amulets, but absent in the standard Euchologion prayers: fever, migraine, gynaecological concerns, animal diseases, bugs attacking the crops, etc. The analysis of these prayers indicates that christianised Late Antique traditions continued to interact with liturgical practices of the official church throughout the Byzantine times and beyond. Taking as a starting point the absence of such prayers in early forms of the Euchologion, this paper will investigate their significance when they are mentioned later. This investigation will contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the lives of Christian communities and their interaction with the supernatural in the period of transition from Late Antiquity to the Byzantine Middle Ages.

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