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Byzantium Lecture – March 27th.docx

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HIST 218
Richard Greenfield

Byzantium Lecture – March 27 th Last few classes – Byzantine popular religion - Monks and holy men Monday: Monasteries: - Holy men and women performed miracles and lives ascetic lifestyles - Seem by visitors as having power in their own rite – not just through the divine o Beyond strict orthodoxy Demons: - Demons and exorcisms - Many of these things are completely orthodox on one level (perfectly acceptable to orthodox theologians), but there is also room for ambiguity in these practices and beliefs - Most people in the Byzantine world didn’t have the same sort of grasp as theologians on orthodoxy – didn’t understand the way they were meant to - Not all demons and exorcisms are orthodox o Ritual practices as having power in their own rite – not just through grace – this is unorthodox - Demons are without power individually – power in orthodox traditions - In other traditions, they are more than just general – they have names and specific power and attributes - Exorcism is by the grace of God in orthodoxy, but by power of people, rituals, materials and popular tradition o In popular tradition, the people themselves have the mechanical power over demons – much more scientific o Blurred lines between religious tradition that involve supplication to the gods and independent coercion of demons - “Female” demons are associated with problems in pregnancy, childbirth, and infancy o Sudden infant death syndrome o Goes by many names – Gello/Gylou are the most common o Specific demons predates Byzantine world o Thought to be thwarted by a particular group of sayings for the particular demon o Countered by warrior saints, e.g. St. Sisinnios - Archangel Michael and the child murdering demon of any names o In Russian orthodox tradition (inherited from Byzantine), he tramples female demon – warrior o Comes down from Heaven with burning eyes and meets demon  Demon can transform into snake or other beast  She wishes to destroy and torture anything in her path o Michael grabs hold of her by her hair and demands she tell him all of her 12 names  Gello was the first - This practice branches into the world of magic spells o Incantations or spells explain the mechanism of what is going down and are used in the nursery  Hang an amulet in the room to protect the infant  Small metal amulets with warrior symbols and incantations written on them o This moves outside orthodoxy - Demons can have individual identities and properties, and individual people can both exorcise and exercise them – make them do human’s will through magic Spectrum of religious belief and practice: - Standard, doctrinal, acceptable orthodoxy
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