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E06987: The Greek Conversion of *Taisia (penitent of Egypt, S02646) recounts the story of a prostitute in Alexandria who is converted to the monastic life by *Serapion Sindonios (travelling ascetic of Egypt, S02647). Written in Egypt, it survives in two versions, probably originating from the 5th century.

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posted on 26.10.2018, 00:00 by erizos
The Conversion/Penance of Taisia (BHG 1695-1697)

Short Summary:

Taisia was an extremely beautiful woman from Alexandria, who as a girl was sold into prostitution by her mother. Her beauty infatuated innumerable men, rich and poor alike, who spent all their money to be with her. She attracted the attention of the ascetic Sarapion Sindonios, who visited her, seemingly in order to use her services. Alone in her bedroom, he convinced her to abandon her way of life and seek forgiveness from God. She burnt all her belongings in the centre of Alexandria, and was taken by Sarapion to a convent. He instructed that she be locked in a dark cell, and only be given some bread and water, without being allowed to leave even for her hygiene. Three years later, Sarapion visited the monastery of *Antony ['the Great', monk of Egypt, ob. 356, S00098] and asked the monks to seek a revelation as to whether Taisia's sins have been forgiven. A vision was granted to *Paulos the Simple [ascetic of Egypt, ob. c. 340, S01480] confirming the salvation of the former prostitute. Sarapion went to Taisia's monastery and released her from her cell, although she implored that she be allowed to continue her asceticism. She died two weeks later.

Text: Nau 1903. Summary: E. Rizos.

History

Evidence ID

E06987

Saint Name

Sarapion/Serapion 'Sindonios', ascetic : S02647 Thais/Taisia, penitent of Egypt, 4th c. : S02646 Antony, 'the Great', monk of Egypt, ob. 356 : S00098 Paulos the Simple, ascetic in Egypt, ob. c. 340 : S01480

Saint Name in Source

Σαραπίων Ταϊσία Ἀντώνιος Παῦλος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Other saint-related texts

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

450

Evidence not after

800

Activity not before

450

Activity not after

800

Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Alexandria

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

Alexandria Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Apparition, vision, dream, revelation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women The socially marginal (beggars, prostitutes, thieves) Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits

Source

For the full text of Nau's edition, translation and accompanying study, see: https://archive.org/details/histoiredethais00nauf/page/n1

Discussion

This is a monastic edifying story which was in circulation by the early 6th century, when a version of it, very close to the text of BHG 1695, was translated into Latin by Dionysius Exiguus (E06983). In that version, the figure of Serapion is replaced by that of Paphnutios, suggesting the existence of several variants.

Bibliography

Text, French translation, commetary: Nau, F. 'Histoire de Thais," Annales du Musee Guimet 30:3 (1903), 51-114.

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