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The Life of Saint Basil the Younger, Denis F. Sullivan, Alice-Mary Talbot, and Stamatina McGrath

Dumbarton Oaks welcomes The Life of Saint Basil the Younger (Dumbarton Oaks Studies 45). Weighing in at 829 pages, this is the longest volume in Byzantine studies produced by Dumbarton Oaks in twelve years—and it stands to be a landmark by many measures.

The vita, purportedly written by one of Basil’s disciples, a pious layman named Gregory, is one of the longest and most important middle Byzantine saints’ lives. It presents an account of a holy man who lived in Constantinople in the first part of the tenth century and includes many details on daily life in Constantinople, with particular attention to slaves, servants, and eunuchs. Usually described as a fictional saint, Basil had the distinction of residing in private homes rather than in a monastery, performing numerous miracles and using the gift of clairvoyance. Two lengthy descriptions of visions provide the most comprehensive source of information for Byzantine views on the afterlife. In one, the soul of an elderly servant Theodora journeys past a series of tollbooths, where demons demand an accounting of her sins in life and collect fines for her transgressions. In the other, Gregory describes his own vision of the celestial Jerusalem, the enthronement of the Lord at his Second Coming, and the Last Judgment.

This volume provides a comprehensive introduction and a critical edition of the Greek text facing the annotated English translation, the first in any language.

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