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E05649: The Miracles of Saint Thekla recounts how *Thekla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092) prevented the burial of a certain Hyperechios in her church at Seleucia in Asia Minor. Written in Greek at Seleucia ad Calycadnum (southern Asia Minor) in the 470s.

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posted on 05.06.2018, 00:00 by julia
Miracles of Saint Thekla, 30

There was a man of great renown for his nobility, artistic sense, cultivated manners and strong Christian belief. His name was Eusebios and he was one of the orators serving in the imperial administration. This man greatly admired a certain Hyperechios when he was still alive, for his supremacy in every virtue and his talents. Also, they both came from the same city of Dalisandos. When Hyperechios died, Eusebios could not find a more prestigious honour than to bury him in the church of Thekla. He received permission of Maximos who at that time presided over the church of the martyr, and the grave diggers started their work and began to dig up the pavement.

Καί πως ἀθρόως ἐπέστη τούτοις ἡ μάρτυς ἐπιτιμῶσα, ἐγκαλοῦσα τόλμης αὐτοῖς, ἐκπληττομένη καὶ ὑποχωρεῖν ἤδη παρακελευομένη. Οἱ δὲ τὴν μὲν ἀρχὴν ἥτις καὶ ἦν ἠγνόησαν—οὐδὲ γὰρ ἦν ἐκείνων τὸ οὕτω παράδοξον καὶ δυστέκμαρτον πρᾶγμα καταλαβεῖν—, ὑπεχώρησαν δ’ οὖν ὅμως· ὡς δὲ καὶ μικρὸν ἐνδόντες καὶ αὖθις ἐπεχείρησαν, παρέστη καὶ ἡ μάρτυς αὖθις αὐτοῖς, ἐμβριθέστερον δὲ καὶ ὀργιλώτερον εἰς αὐτοὺς ἀπιδοῦσα λοιπόν, καὶ οἷα τῶν ἄγαν χαλεπαινόντων ἐστίν, ἄπνους μὲν αὐτοὺς παραχρῆμα ἐποίησεν, ὡς μηδὲν μεῖναι τῶν μελῶν ἄτρομον ἢ ἀκλόνητον—φοβερὰ γὰρ ἡ μάρτυς, οὐ κινοῦσα μόνον τὴν ἰσχύν, ἀλλὰ γὰρ καὶ βλέπουσα ἀτενὲς πρὸς οὓς ἂν καὶ δεηθείη τοιούτου βλέμματος—, μικροῦ δ’ ἂν καὶ τῆς ζωῆς αὐτοὺς ἀπέρρηξεν, ὡς καὶ ἑτέρων λοιπὸν εἰς τὸ ταφῆναι δεηθῆναι χειρῶν, εἰ μὴ αἰδοῖ τοῦ Μαξίμου τούτων μὲν ἐφείσατο. Αὐτῷ δὲ τῷ Μαξίμῳ καὶ μάλα ὀνειδιστικώτερον νύκτωρ ἐπιστᾶσα παρῄνεσε μὴ οὕτω τοῦ νεὼ καταφρονητικῶς ἔχειν, ὡς τὴν τῶν πολυανδρίων καὶ τάφων δυσωδίαν εἰς αὐτὸν μεταφέρειν. Μήτε γὰρ εἶναί τι κοινὸν τάφοις καὶ εὐκτηρίοις οἴκοις, πλὴν εἰ μή τις ἄρα καὶ νεκρὸς γεγονὼς μὴ εἴη νεκρός, ἀλλὰ ζῇ τε τῷ Θεῷ καὶ ἄξιος ᾖ τοῦ καὶ μάρτυσιν συνοικεῖν καὶ ὁμοστεγεῖν, ὡς Συμπόσιος ἐκεῖνος ὁ θεσπέσιος, ὡς Σάμος ἐκεῖνος ὁ θεῖος ἀνήρ, ὡς εἴ τις ἄλλος παραπλήσιος ἐκείνοις.


'All at once the martyr stood before them, rebuking them, accusing them of insolence, striking them with fear, and commanding them to withdraw at once. They did not realize at first who she was – it was not their lot to comprehend an event so strange and unexpected – but they withdrew nevertheless. After waiting a little while they got to work again, and again the martyr stood before them, this time looking at them with a more severe and angry gaze, as is typical of those who are extremely irritated. She immediately knocked the breath out of them, so that none of their limbs remained free of shaking and trembling – for the martyr is fearsome, not only when she exercises her strength, but also when she gazes directly at those who might be deserving of such a gaze – and she nearly deprived them of their lives, so that other hands would be required for their burial, but she spared them out of respect for Maximos.

When she presented herself to Maximos himself during the night, she exhorted him that he should not have been so disdainful of her church as to introduce into it the foul smell of burials and tombs. There was nothing in common, she said, between tombs and houses of prayer, unless someone who has died is not really dead but is alive to God, and is worthy to dwell together under the same roof as the martyrs, such as the divine Symposios, or Samos, the famous holy man, or someone else of the same quality as they.'

Text: Dagron 1978. Translation: Johnson 2012. Summary: J. Doroszewska.

History

Evidence ID

E05649

Saint Name

Thekla, follower of the Apostle Paul : S00092

Saint Name in Source

Θέκλα

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

470

Evidence not after

476

Activity not after

476

Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Seleucia ad Calycadnum

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

Seleucia ad Calycadnum Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Other specified miracle Punishing miracle

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Officials

Source

The anonymous text known under the title of The Life and Miracles of Thekla was written in the city of Seleucia-on-the-Calycadnum in the province of Isauria in southern Asia Minor around 470. It was certainly written before c. 476, which is approximately when Thekla's shrine outside Seleucia (modern Meriamlik/Ayatekla in Turkey) was monumentalised by the emperor Zeno (r. 474-491), since this activity is not mentioned in the text. The text consists of two parts: the first half is a paraphrased version of the second-century Acts of Paul and Thekla, a text which was widely known in Late Antiquity and translated into every early Christian language; this early text was rendered by our author into Attic Greek, and contains many minor changes to the original story, with one major change at the end: instead of dying at the age of 19 years, Thekla descends into the earth and performs miracles in and around the city of Seleucia in a spiritual state. The second half, from which this passage is drawn, comprises a collection of forty-six miracles, preceded by a preface and followed by an epilogue. It is written in a high literary style which distinguishes it among other hagiographical texts, which were typically composed in a low style of Greek. The text was for a long time attributed to a 5th century bishop, Basil of Seleucia (fl. c. 448-468); but in 1974 Dagron demonstrated conclusively that the Miracles could not have been authored by Basil, since there is an invective directed against him in chapter 12. The anonymous author is himself the subject of a few miracles, including miraculous interventions on his behalf in ecclesiastical disputes.

Discussion

The statement 'he was one of the orators serving in the imperial administration' indicates a rhetor/advocatus serving in an officium (Dagron 1978: 371, n. 1). When referring to the home city of Eusebios and Hyperechios (Dalisandos), the text reads 'the same city of Damalis and Sandos of Herakles, the son of Amphitryon'. Dalisandos, therefore (mentioned also in ch. 26 of the Miracles of Thekla) must be a contraction of these two names; Sandos/Sandes/Sandon was the name of an indigenous god, who was claimed to be the founder of the city of Tarsus; he was assimilated with Herakles. Damalis was a female hero associated with Sandos (Dagron 1978: 371, n. 3). Maximos was a contemporary of John Chrysostom and was still alive around 383 or 390; he was the predecessor to Dexianos, mentioned in ch. 29 of the Miracles of Thekla.

Bibliography

Edition: Dagron, G., Vie et miracles de sainte Thècle (Subsidia hagiographica 62; Brussels: Société des Bollandistes, 1978), with French translation. Translations: Johnson, S.F., Miracles of Saint Thekla, in : S.F. Johnson and A.-M. Talbot, Miracle Tales from Byzantium (Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 12; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), 1-201. Festugière, A.-J., Collections grecques de Miracles: sainte Thècle, saints Côme et Damien, saints Cyr et Jean (extraits), saint Georges (Paris: Éditions A. et J. Picard, 1971). Further reading: Barrier, J., et al., Thecla: Paul's Disciple and Saint in the East and West (Leuven: Peeters, 2017). Dagron, G., “L'auteur des Actes et des Miracles de Sainte Thècle,” Analecta Bollandiana, 92 (1974), 5–11. Davis, S., The Cult of Saint Thecla: A Tradition of Women's Piety in Late Antiquity, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). Honey, L., “Topography in the Miracles of Thecla: Reconfiguring Rough Cilicia,” in: M.C. Hoff and R.F. Townsend (eds), Rough Cilicia: New Historical and Archaeological Approaches, Proceedings on an International Conference held at Lincoln, Nebraska, October 2007 (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2013), 252–59. Johnson, S.F., “The Life and Miracles of Thecla, a literary study” (University of Oxford, doctoral thesis, 2005). Kristensen, T.M., "Landscape, Space and Presence in the Cult of Thekla in Meriamlik," Journal of Early Christian Studies 24:2 (2016), 229-263.

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