chapter  7
13 Pages

Christian Hagiography and the Rhetorical Tradition: Victricius of Rouen, In Praise of the Saints


Late antique Christianity was deeply indebted to classical culture and education, as was already noted in Late Antiquity itself and later confirmed by modern research. From the very beginning, recognising this debt provoked the question whether this heritage may consciously and willingly be utilised by Christian writers, e.g., for preaching, exegesis or clarifying theological questions. I just mention in passing the outspokenly critical stance of Tertullian and the comprehensive educational programme of Origen’s ‘one-man university’ in Alexandria and Caesarea as two extremes within a multitude of positions already in the second and third centuries AD. This debate, which was intensely conducted at the turn of the fourth to the fifth century by prominent theologians such as Basil and John Chrysostom as well as Augustine and Jerome,1 involved a broad variety of literary genres, including hagiographical writing. While the relationship between hagiography and (literary) education has mostly been investigated with respect to the Lives of saints,2 other (sub-)genres of hagiographical discourse have hitherto been widely neglected.3