Dr. Matthieu Pignot (Université de Namur): Portraying martyrs in Italy before 700: a survey of hagiography

The paper will be delivered at the late antique seminar at the University of Warsaw on Thursday, 6 June, 4.45 p.m., in the Library of Papyrology and Roman Law (Faculty of Law building, Collegium Iuridicum I) on the main campus.


In studies of hagiography, broad horizons and perspectives are difficult to reach, because of the abundance, complexity, and variety of the evidence. Thanks to the work towards building the database the Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity (CSLA), we might however start to reach that much needed synthesis. The objective of this paper is to contribute towards this goal by surveying martyrdom accounts from Italy composed before 700 to shed light on how martyrdom was portrayed and understood in late Antiquity. After presenting Italian martyrdom accounts as a source, this paper will explore patterns concerning their transmission and diffusion in medieval manuscripts, then look in more detail at features emerging from a serial comparison of the evidence regarding types of martyrs portrayed and narrative choices made by the authors; finally, it will address the significance of rewriting practices, showing how narratives could evolve over time to fit new concerns and audiences.