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10. Hagiography and the Cult of Saints

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Chapter Summary

Gregory's Dialogi are the most important hagiographical text written in Italy in late antiquity, and they enjoyed considerable popularity in Europe through the Middle Ages. This chapter aims to provide a guide to the reading and interpretation of the Dialogi, and to situate them within the broader hagiographical context primarily of late antique Italy. In the context of hagiography, it distinguishes three interlocking but separate subjects: concepts of (living) saints or holy men and women; the cult of (dead) saints and their tombs; and the literary representation of these saints, or "hagiography". Gregory is obviously familiar with hagiographical conventions. Throughout the Dialogi, he deploys a variety of "commonplaces" or topoi. The chapter concludes that the Dialogi should also be more broadly situated within the literary context of late antique hagiography, and the sources of each of the stories, where they exist, need to be itemized and their adaptation analyzed.

Keywords: cult of saints; Gregory's Dialogi; hagiography; Middle Ages

10.1163/9789004257764_011
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