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De l'Eros et d'autres démons : les représentations littéraires du tabou et de la transgression dans la société tardo-antique de l'Orient chrétien (IVe - VIIe siècles)

Abstract : This study treats the literary representations of the “demon of fornication” and the adjacent notions of taboo and transgression in the late-antique society of Christian East through a close reading of the Lives of Saints. It focuses on the “Lives of Holy Harlots” and those of “Holy Adulteresses”, which materialize the late-antique man’s perceptions about the question of the transgression of the sexual taboos. But just along with the literary representations of social norms’ real transgression, mostly sexual, we can also find other forms of transgression, either real or imaginary. For this reason we have examined other cases of “border-line” saints, whose Lives provide us with precious indications about the whole range of social norms and the taboo limitations of the late-antique society: the denial of marriage and work, the homosexuality, the contesting of the paternal and political power, the begging, the wandering, the madness and the laughter, only being the most important. However, the simple enumeration of such subjects evokes the question of the position of the outcasts in this society. Which was the place of all those who were considered as social “rejections” in the late-antique society, which was the place of prostitutes, of adulteresses, of homosexuals, of foolish people, of the wandering or begging workless people, and which were the attitudes towards them or the social and psychological repercussions that they were obliged to confront? Upon trying to answer to these questions, we’ve stumbled upon the existence of a distinct category of Lives of Saints which treats all those taboo subjects: the “Lives of popular Saints” (or the “Popular Lives of Saints”), whose main characteristics we have tried to establish and to interpret in an historical synthesis that concludes this study.
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Zisis Ainalis. De l'Eros et d'autres démons : les représentations littéraires du tabou et de la transgression dans la société tardo-antique de l'Orient chrétien (IVe - VIIe siècles). Histoire. Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I, 2014. Français. ⟨NNT : 2014PA010562⟩. ⟨tel-02129629⟩

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