Chapter

Hystoria Rara, sed Graciosa

Brian Murdoch

in Gregorius

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199596409
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745737 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199596409.003.0001
Hystoria Rara, sed Graciosa

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The chapter introduces the unusual but extremely widely disseminated medieval literary narrative of Gregorius, son of a brother and sister, who later marries his mother, does an extensive penance, and becomes pope. The difference between this exemplary story and the tragic-prophetic one of Oedipus is stressed. The gods cannot be defied, but human propensity to sin can be coped with. The range of texts is presented, from the earliest medieval French poems to modern versions and folktales from Ireland to Egypt. Possible sources, influences, and analogues are considered, including the Bible (especially Adam and Eve), history, and other apocryphal saints’ lives. The concept of literary hagiography is examined, as is the function of the story in the context of original and actual sin.

Keywords: Gregorius; medieval; hagiography; Oedipus; folktale; incest; sin; original sin

Chapter.  15622 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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