ABSTRACT

The holy man is a familiar character in fiction no less than in life, and the testimony for our period is particularly rich. The presence material indicates the hold of the subject on popular imagination. Moreover, some of our fictional instances have plausibility and sense of realism which offers genuine documentary value, sense that they aim to present what is obviously credible and probably typical. Sometimes a fictional recreation fills in a missing part of our factual mosaic quite convincingly; more often it is in matters of ethos or psychological motivation that fictional texts are able to enrich our appreciation of more strictly historical evidence. This chapter revealing details, in the first place the venue, doors of a local patron, in the hope of a large donation, one suspects; pilgrims associated with a local centre of power. Secondly, sense of spectacle: a procession in honour of the Syrian goddess, with orchestrated ecstasy, and, bystanders, no doubt, miraculous feats of endurance.