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Ildiko Csepregi, University of Reading, United Kingdom, Fellow 2010–2011, Fall

Temple Sleep from Antiquity to Byzantium: Healing, Dreaming, and Storytelling

My research focused on the transition of Greek temple sleep into Christian incubation ritual: sleeping in a sacred space to obtain healing through the dream-appearance of the healer (a god like Asclepius or, later, a physician saint). My sources were the miracles of Thekla, the two versions of Kosmas and Damian’s miracles, the collection of Cyrus and John, and the corpus of Saints Artemios and Dometios, Therapon, Isaiah, Demetrios, and Saint Michael. These collections—dating from the fifth to the seventh centuries and deriving from the eastern Mediterranean—constitute a well-defined group, differing in kind from other contemporary Byzantine hagiographical records. I examined the transformation of the cult place, the cult function (healing), and the technique of healing as well as the ritual (temple sleep) and the medium (dream). My major interests were (1) the formation of such miracle stories; (2) the compositional history of the tales; (3) the figure of the hagiographer; (4) the role of telling and listening to the miracles in the ritual experience; (5) the tenacity of the cultic and narrative patterns; and (6) the finality of the recording of these miracles. Because of the easy access to both primary and secondary scholarship, some new ideas also emerged from this project that will be developed into three conference papers and integrated into an eventual monograph.

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