How To Read The Saints: A Poetics Of Exemplarity In Sulpicius Severus' Gallus
This dissertation argues that, in his writings on Martin, Sulpicius Severus constructs for his audience an ideal reader of hagiography, whose depiction allows him to condition the eventual reception of the text. Past scholarship on this corpus has focused especially on questions of historicity, in an attempt to understand more fully the figure of Martin in the context of a late ancient Gaul riven by ecclesiastical conflict. Instead of seeing Sulpicius' writing simply as a conduit to Martin, this project shifts scholarly focus from the holy man to his hagiographer. The dissertation's first chapter addresses the narrative structure of Sulpicius' writings on Martin, which include the original Life, three letters and the dialogue, Gallus. The second and third chapters account for Sulpicius' experimentation across diverse ancient genres: biography, epistolography and dialogue and argue that this formal progression allows Sulpicius to foreground the figure of the reader in the corpus. The chapters demonstrate that readers as depicted in the dialogue are marked as exemplary for Sulpicius' external audience: they model how to read a saint. The fourth chapter examines the content of that program of reading, in particular the frequent use of exempla in the dialogue, suggesting that Sulpicius uses these episodes to fashion a link that correlates the writing and reading of hagiography to the performance of saintly virtus.
Latin Literature; Late Antiquity; Ancient Christianity
Brittain, Charles Francis; Haines-Eitzen, Kimberly Joy
Ph. D., Medieval Studies
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis