Macquarie University
01whole.pdf (1.14 MB)

Performative hagiography: The Life of Theodoros of Sykeon and its seventh-century Galatian context

Download (1.14 MB)
posted on 2022-08-23, 23:47 authored by Joel DowlingSoka

The Life of Theodoros of Sykeon, finished after 641 CE, is a sprawling hagiography that was written during a period of crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean. Dozens of academic studies over the last century have used this text as a source for the sixth and seventh centuries. This thesis adds to the academic discussion by attempting to demonstrate that the text was a complex document developed over multiple stages and several decades and by attempting a reading that prioritizes the different roles that two separate versions of Theodoros’ life performed for the monastery that produced them. The thesis first argues that there is evidence both internally and in a ninth or tenth-century recension for a version of the text written between 613 and 620. It then discusses the hypothesis that the eleventh-century manuscript Atheniensis BN 1014 contains a copy of the earlier text. From there, it establishes context by outlining the events of the seventh century as they might have affected Sykeon. The project then turns to performative readings that read both texts against the specific context of the seventh century. The first case study examines the structure of both texts and argues that these structures suggest different purposes. The second turns to the issue of hetaerae portrayed in both versions of the text. This section demonstrates an increase in both hostility to sex work and monastic claims to Theodoros’ family wealth in the later version of the text. The last case study examines the militarization of religious figures in both texts and the addition of an apocalypse prediction in the post-641 version. While the earlier version used military imagery to recruit people away from worldly careers, the later text used it to suggest divine protection in a time of collapse. In all three cases, the changes between the candidate for the pre-620s text and the post-641 text fit the context of seventh-century system collapse.


Table of Contents

Chapter One: Introduction and Methodology -- Chapter 2: Looking for a Shorter Text -- Chapter 3: Stories from throughout a World Crisis -- Chapter 4: Comparative Structures -- Chapter 5: How do you Solve a Problem Like Maria? -- Chapter 6: Joining the Heavenly Army Right Before an Apocalypse -- Conclusion -- Works Cited


Supervisor: Bronwen Neil Associate Supervisor: Eva Anagnostou Centre for Ancient Cultural Heritage and Environment Presented for the degree of Master of Research On November 3, 2020

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Thesis (MRes), Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, 2020

Department, Centre or School

Department of Ancient History

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Bronwen Neil

Additional Supervisor 1

Eva Anagnostou


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




108 pages

Usage metrics

    Macquarie University Theses


    Ref. manager