Chapter

Sanctity And Stench

Susan Ashbrook Harvey

in Scenting Salvation

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2006 | ISBN: 9780520241473
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520931015 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520241473.003.0006
Sanctity And Stench

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The career of Simeon the Stylite bids a remarkable example of how incense usage established an intersection between devotional practices, religious images, and ascetic meaning. Yet, as the consideration of Simeon's vitae showed, the olfactory dimensions of his vocation were not confined to the sacrificial or relational associations common to incense traditions of the Mediterranean. Simeon's pursuit of ascetic discipline was further characterized in olfactory terms that clearly unsettled the ancient Christian sensibility of religious order. At each phase of his career, Simeon disturbed his fellow Christians, whether his monastic brethren, his ecclesiastical superiors, his devotees, or his disciples. The difficulty he caused in each case was not simply the cognitive discomfort of seeing his self-mortification. It was a physically experienced consternation: Simeon's holy career was repeatedly marred by the stench of his practices.

Keywords: Simeon; Stylite; vitae; ecclesiastical superiors; monastic brethren

Chapter.  9586 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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