[ 3 ]est to the historian. Of particular importance is the indirect and inadvertent information provided bythese texts; although data about the social background of saints, for example, may reflect a societaldesideratum or cliché, not reality, information about
is much more trustworthy, because it isoften incidental to the main point, i.e., to the miracle or to the saint’s virtuous qualities. Generally, onemust beware of anachronisms introduced by a later biographer; many of the
in our database,however, seem reliable in that they were written by a disciple within a generation of the saint’s death,and often the historical data can be independently verified.As long ago as 1917 the pioneering Russian scholar A. P. Rudakov wrote a book on Byzantineculture as portrayed in hagiography (
erki vizantijskoj kul’tury po dannym gre
[Mos-cow 1917]), but his study has remained little known. In recent decades a number of Byzantinists,especially in France and the United States, have revived the approach of Rudakov and have begun touse the evidence of hagiographical texts to explore new dimensions of social history such as the fam-ily, marriage, sexuality and the role of women and children. One could cite, for example, the extensiveuse of hagiographic material in Peter Brown’s cultural studies,
in Evelyne Patlagean’s seminal workson the family and social and economic structures,
in studies on Byzantine childhood and educationby Ann Moffatt and Hélène Antoniadis-Bibicou;
Alexander Kazhdan’s and Catia Galatariotou’s ar-ticles on Byzantine sexuality
and Angeliki Laiou’s and Alice-Mary Talbot’s studies of women and thefamily also come to mind.
Other areas for which saints’ lives furnish abundant data are everyday lifein Constantinople and provincial cities (Gilbert Dagron),
agrarian life (Michel Kaplan and H. J.Magoulias),
travel (Elisabeth Malamut, Angeliki Laiou),
medicine (Alexander Kazhdan, H. J.Magoulias),
art (Robin Cormack, Henry Maguire),
magic and popular religion (Dorothy Abrahamse,Gary Vikan, Frank Trombley, H. J. Magoulias).
This type of investigation of hagiographic sources isparalleled for western Europe in the work of such medievalists as Donald Weinstein, Rudolph Bell andCaroline Bynum.
Scholars tend, however, to use a relatively small number of
, those which are well-knownand easily accessible. It is extremely time-consuming to read a large number of
(most of whichlack indices or even chapter headings) in search of information on a single topic of interest. The D.O.project is therefore designed to make possible a
search of all Greek
of the saints froma given century on any topic, i.e., to provide a comprehensive database. The user of our database willbe able to make broad searches, under such categories as “medicine,” “monasticism” or “agriculture,”or specific searches on individual words such as “nun,” “plow” or “barley gruel”. The material isorganized thematically, rather than alphabetically, to facilitate search by subject.The pilot phase of the project focussed on saints who lived in the 9
century; the second phase,the Greek
of saints of the 10
century, and the third phase, now complete, the Greek
of thesaints of the 8
century. We chose these centuries because they represent a period rich in the develop-ment of the cults of saints and the production of
and relatively poor in other sources for socialhistory. This was an era when Byzantium was fully established as a medieval civilization quite distinctfrom its Roman predecessor. This transformation is reflected in a general trend away from
originating from a wider geographic area to
originating from select regions and cities. It was alsothe epoch which witnessed the iconoclastic dispute and is thus of special interest to historians of religion and art.
Saints and Society: The Two Worlds of Western Christendom
, (Chicago, 1982), 2, 7.
P. Brown, “The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity,”
61 (1971), 80–101;idem,
The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity
, (NewYork, 1988);
Society and the Holy in Late Antiquity
, (London-Binghamton, New York, 1982).
Pauvreté économique et pauvreté sociale à Byzance, 4
, (Paris; TheHague, 1977);
Structure sociale, famille, chrétienté à Byzance IV
A. Moffatt, “The Byzantine Child,”
53 (1986), 705–723; H. Antoniadis-Bibicou, “Quelques notes sur l’enfant de la moyenne époque byzantine (du VI
Annales de démographie historique
A. Kazhdan, “Byzantine Hagiography and Sex in the Fifth to Twelfth Centuries,”