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E00672: A Greek Homily on the Martyr Barlaam, (martyr of Antioch, S00417), attributed to Basil of Caesarea or John Chrysostom, is given during a service at his feast in Antioch (Syria); it recounts the story of his martyrdom. Written in Antioch in the late 4th c.

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posted on 30.08.2015, 00:00 by sminov
Basil of Caesarea, Homily 17, On Barlaam (dubious) (CPG 2861, BHG 223)

Εἰς Βαρλαὰμ μάρτυρα.

Πρότερον μὲν τῶν ἁγίων οἱ θάνατοι κοπετοῖς ἐκοσμοῦντο καὶ δάκρυσιν· ἔκλαυσε σφοδρῶς Ἰωσὴφ τὸν Ἰακὼβ τεθνεῶτα, ἐκόψαντο καὶ τὴν Μωϋσέως τελευτὴν οὐ μικρῶς Ἰουδαῖοι· πολλοῖς καὶ τὸν Σαμουὴλ τετιμήκασι δάκρυσι· νῦν δὲ ταῖς τῶν ὁσίων τελευταῖς ἐνσκιρτῶμεν. Ἡ γὰρ τῶν λυπηρῶν μετὰ τὸν σταυρὸν μεταβέβληται φύσις. Οὐκέτι θρήνοις τοὺς τῶν ἁγίων δορυφοροῦμεν θανάτους, ἀλλ’ ἐνθέοις χορείαις τοῖς ἐκείνων ἐπορχούμεθα τάφοις. Ὕπνος γὰρ τοῖς δικαίοις ὁ θάνατος. Μᾶλλον δὲ πρὸς κρείττονα ζωὴν ἐκδημία. Ἐντεῦθεν σκιρτῶσι σφαττόμενοι μάρτυρες. Ὁ γὰρ τῆς μακαριωτέρας ζωῆς πόθος τὴν τῆς σφαγῆς ὀδύνην νεκρὰν ἀπεργάζεται. Οὐ βλέπει τοὺς κινδύνους, ἀλλὰ τοὺς στεφάνους ὁ μάρτυς· οὐ φρίττει τὰς πληγὰς, ἀλλ’ ἀριθμεῖ τὰ βραβεῖα· οὐχ ὁρᾷ τοὺς κάτω μαστιγοῦντας δημίους, ἀλλὰ τοὺς ἄνωθεν εὐφημοῦντας ἀγγέλους φαντάζεται· οὐ σκοπεῖ τῶν κινδύνων τὸ πρόσκαιρον, ἀλλὰ τὸ τῶν ἐπάθλων αἰώνιον. Λαμπρὸν καὶ παρ’ ἡμῖν ἤδη τὸν ἀῤῥαβῶνα καρποῦνται, ταῖς παρὰ πάντων ἐνθέοις εὐφημίαις κροτούμενοι, καὶ μυρίους ἐκ τάφων σαγηνεύοντες δήμους. Τοῦτο δὴ τὸ τῷ γενναίῳ τήμερον Βαρλαὰμ πεπραγμένον.


'On the Martyr Barlaam

Once the deaths of holy men were adorned with lamentations and tears: Joseph wept bitterly for Jacob when he died; the Jews greatly lamented Moses’ death; they honoured Samuel with many tears. But now we rejoice in the deaths of the hallowed ones. The nature of distressing things has been transformed after the cross. We no more accompany the deaths of the saints with lamentations, but dance at their tombs in godly companies. For death is just sleep for the righteous. It is rather departure for a better life. For that reason, the martyrs rejoice when they are slain. The desire for a happier life mortifies the distress of slaughter. The martyr does not look at the perils, but at the crowns of victory. He is not distressed by the beatings, but counts the prizes. He does not see the torturers flogging him down here, but envisions the angels acclaiming from above. He does not consider the temporary state of danger, but the eternal nature of his reward. Even among us, he already enjoys a splendid repayment, as he is applauded by everyone’s pious acclamations, and captivates from his tomb myriads of crowds. This is then what was done today by the brave Barlaam.'

Barlaam is a barbarian in descent and tongue, but, nonetheless, wise in the spirit and the faith, who bravely and joyfully defies torture, flogging, imprisonment, insults and the wrath of the judge. Seeing that they cannot bend his determination, his torturers make him stretch his right hand over an altar, and place a burning piece of frankincense into his palm, in order to make him drop it unwillingly onto the altar. Barlaam stands without moving till his hand burns complete. The homily finishes as follows:

Ἀλλὰ τί παιδικοῖς ἐλαττῶ τὸν ἀριστέα ψελλίσμασι; Ταῖς μεγαλοπρεπεστέραις τοίνυν τὸν εἰς αὐτὸν ὕμνον παραχωρήσωμεν γλώτταις· τὰς μεγαλοφωνοτέρας τῶν διδασκάλων ἐπ’ αὐτῷ καλέσωμεν σάλπιγγας. Ἀνάστητέ μοι νῦν, ὦ λαμπροὶ τῶν ἀθλητικῶν κατορθωμάτων ζωγράφοι· τὴν τοῦ στρατηγοῦ κολοβωθεῖσαν εἰκόνα ταῖς ὑμετέραις μεγαλύνατε τέχναις. Ἀμαυρότερον παρ’ ἐμοῦ τὸν στεφανίτην γραφέντα τοῖς τῆς ὑμετέρας σοφίας περιλάμψατε χρώμασιν. Ἀπέλθω τῇ τῶν ἀριστευμάτων τοῦ μάρτυρος παρ’ ὑμῶν νενικημένος γραφῇ· χαίρω τὴν τοιαύτην τῆς ὑμετέρας ἰσχύος σήμερον νίκην ἡττώμενος. Ἴδω τῆς χειρὸς πρὸς τὸ πῦρ ἀκριβέστερον παρ’ ὑμῶν γραφομένην τὴν πάλην· ἴδω φαιδρότερον ἐπὶ τῆς ὑμετέρας τὸν παλαιστὴν γεγραμμένον εἰκόνος. Κλαυσάτωσαν δαίμονες, καὶ νῦν ταῖς τοῦ μάρτυρος ἐν ὑμῖν ἀριστείαις πληττόμενοι. Φλεγομένη πάλιν αὐτοῖς ἡ χεὶρ καὶ νικῶσα δεικνύσθω. Ἐγγραφέσθω τῷ πίνακι καὶ ὁ τῶν παλαισμάτων ἀγωνοθέτης Χριστός· ᾧ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. Ἀμήν.

'But why am I belittling the victor with my childish mumbling? Let us then cede his praise to grander tongues! Let us call for him trumpets which are louder than teachers! Arise now, brilliant painters of heroic achievements! Glorify by your art the mutilated image of the general! Brighten by the colours of your skill this victor who has been described in less bright tones by me! Let me depart defeated by you in outlining the triumphs of the martyr! I am glad to be defeated by such a victory of your might today! Let me see the struggle against the fire being depicted by you with greater precision! Let me see the combatant being depicted even more joyful on your image! Let the demons weep also now, being afflicted by the feats of the martyr in your work! Let once again the burning hand be shown defeating them! And let also Christ, the master of the fighting contest, be depicted on the panel! Glory be to Him forever and ever. Amen.'

Text: PG 31, 484-489. Summary and translation: E. Rizos.

History

Evidence ID

E00672

Saint Name

Barlaam/Barlāhā, martyr in Antioch : S00417

Saint Name in Source

Βαρλαὰμ

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom Literary - Sermons/Homilies Images and objects - Images described in texts

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

370

Evidence not after

600

Activity not before

370

Activity not after

600

Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Antioch on the Orontes Kaisareia/Caesarea in Cappadocia

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Antioch on the Orontes Thabbora Thabbora Kaisareia/Caesarea in Cappadocia Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Basil of Caesarea

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult activities - Activities Accompanying Cult

  • Feasting (eating, drinking, dancing, singing, bathing)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Verbal images of saints

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Ecclesiastics - bishops Crowds

Source

This text has been published among the homilies of Basil of Caesarea, but the attribution has been disputed, because the style and language of the text are not typical of Basil. Some scholars regard it as a misattributed work of John Chrysostom. If it was indeed written by him, it must date from the period of his ministry at Antioch (386-397). Chrysostom wrote another hagiographic encomium on Barlaam, which recounts his martyrdom along the same lines, though more extensively, and omitting to refer to the martyr’s ‘barbarian’ background (mentioned in our text). The problem of attribution to Basil or John has led to uncertainty as to whether Barlaam was a martyr of Kaisareia/Caesarea or Antioch.

Discussion

This homily was apparently given during a service held at the saint’s burial shrine on the anniversary of his martyrdom. The peculiar series of exclamations at the end of the text seem could imply that the celebration was accompanied by the dedication of a painted image depicting the martyrdom of Barlaam. Nevertheless, the painting metaphor is common in hagiographical homilies of this period (see E00477, E00718, E00719), being used in order to describe narrative discourse and storytelling. In Byzantine Greek, the verb ἱστορέω (historeō) had both the meaning of verbal narrative and of illustrating a story with images. Similarly, descriptive discourse is called ζωγράφος λόγος (zōgraphos logos) in a 9th century text (Leo VI the Wise, Homily 41). Thus the ‘painters’ of this homily may in fact be the faithful whom the speaker encourages in a rhetorical way to spread the story of Barlaam with enthusiasm and in greater detail than he did.

Bibliography

Text: Migne, J.-P., Patrologiae Graeca 31 (Paris: Imprimerie Catholique, 1857), 484-489. Further reading: Mango, C., The Art of the Byzantine Empire 312-1453: Sources and Documents (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986), 37 (translated part of the last paragraph on the depiction). Delehaye, H., "Saint Barlaam, martyr en Antioch," Analecta Bollandiana 22 (1903), 132.

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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