Book Series Fabulae, vol. 2

Constructing Saints in Greek and Latin Hagiography

Heroes and Heroines in Late Antique and Medieval Narrative

Koen De Temmerman, Julie Van Pelt, Klazina Staat (eds)

  • Pages: 182 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:1 b/w
  • Language(s):English, French
  • Publication Year:2023

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-60282-0
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-60283-7
  • E-book
  • Available

Explores narrative constructions of saints as hero(in)es in Greek and Latin hagiography.


Koen De Temmerman is a Professor of Classics at Ghent University, Belgium.

Julie Van Pelt is a postdoctoral researcher of the FWO Flanders at Ghent University. She specializes in late antique and early medieval Greek hagiography.

Klazina Staat is Assistant Professor in Latin Language and Literature and Roman Cultural History at VU University Amsterdam.


This book explores representations of saints in a variety of Latin and Greek late antique hagiographical narratives, such as saints’ Lives, martyr acts, miracle collections, and edifying tales. The book examines techniques through which the saints featured in such texts are depicted as heroes and heroines, i.e., as extraordinary characters exhibiting both exemplary behaviour and a set of specific qualities that distinguish them from others. The book inscribes itself in a growing body of relatively recent scholarship that approaches hagiographical accounts not just as historical sources but also as narrative constructions. As such, it contributes to the development of a scholarly rationale which increasingly values imaginative and fictional aspects of hagiography in their own right, with the aim of answering broader questions about narrative creativity and ideology. For instance, individual chapters examine how hagiographical accounts mobilize and capitalize on earlier literary and rhetorical traditions or narrative models. These questions are specifically addressed to explore the narrative construction of characters. The chapters thereby encourage us to acknowledge that many hagiographers were more skilful than is often accepted.


Saints, Narratives, and Hero(in)es: Scholarship, Definitions, and Concepts — KOEN DE TEMMERMAN

Saints and Secondary Heroes in Byzantine Hagiography — STEPHANOS EFTHYMIADIS

Rhétorique de l’éloge et construction des modèles de sainteté dans l’hagiographie africaine (IIe-VIe siècles) — SABINE FIALON

Listen to Her: Rewriting Virgin Martyrs as Orators in the Byzantine Passions of St. Tatiana and St. Ia — ANNE ALWIS

Fail Again. Fail Better. Notker Balbulus cum suis on the Impossibility of Writing the Life of St. Gallus — PIET GERBRANDY

Character Types and Characterization in Byzantine Edifying Stories — MARKÉTA KULHÁNKOVÁ

Money and Sainthood: Doctor Saints as Christian Heroes — CHRISTIAN HØGEL

An Unstable Heroine: The Life and Lives of Constantina — VIRGINIA BURRUS