This paper from is a very interesting contribution to the knowledge of a great italogreek author: Philagathos of Cerami.  At this  moment the edition of his homilies is frozen because the big work it demands: about a hundred is the number of manuscripts containing his writings and maybe in some uncatalogued library fund you could find the missing speechs about Pascha and other important feasts. (I wonder why the fundamental Rossi Taibbi's edition has the fault of a misleading Italian title of its first volume: Omelie per le feste fisse = Homilies for the fixed feasts, whereas it includes movable feasts too.)



Praising the Stylite in Southern Italy:

Philagathos of Cerami on St Symeon the Stylite


Cristian-Nicolae Gaspar,

Central European University,


Philippos-Philagathos of Cerami: the Recovery of an Author


It took more than seven centuries to discover the true identity of the author who produced an impressive, learned, and elegant collection of homilies for the Sunday readings and for all the feasts of the liturgical year, usually referred to as the  italo-griechische Homiliar” (A. Ehrhard). Until Giuseppe Rossi Taibbi published his accurate study on the textual tradition of this homiletic corpus[1], and brilliantly recovered the identity of its author as Philippos-Philagathos the Philosopher,[2] entire generations of readers and scholars had considered it the work of a never existing “most learned and most eloquent Theophanes Kerameus, archbishop of Taormina in Sicily.”[3] As Rossi Taibbi plausibly explained, this identity was forged around 1250 by a Byzantine scribe (probably working in Constantinople), who was commissioned to copy a manuscript containing 61 of Philagathos’ homilies and which had been brought to the Capital from Sicily.[4]

As in the original manuscript the homilies did not follow any logical order, the anonymous scribe felt it necessary to rearrange the texts according to the liturgical calendar of the Byzantine Church; he, therefore, made them follow the order of the liturgical readings: menologion, triodion, pentekostarion, and orthros. In a note penned after the end of the thirtieth homily, this unknown scribe informed his future readers about just how arduous a task he had undertaken: “it should be noticed that the old copy which had been brought from Sicily was not arranged in such a good order, but it was we who laboured [over it] and, having first made a table of contents, we later rightly arranged all the discourses according to the proceeding of the Typikon.”[5]

The new collection became increasingly popular during the following centuries as attested by the large number of manuscripts in which it survives.[6] This popularity, however, was achieved at a high price: the complete obliteration of the original author of the homilies. Only in a small number of manuscripts, produced and circulated in Sicily and Southern Italy, was the original attribution of the works preserved.[7]

Rossi Taibbi recognised the value of this branch of the textual tradition and used it as a basis for his (unfortunately incomplete) critical edition of the text.[8] Some of the remaining homilies are available in Migne’s Patrologia graeca[9]; a few have been critically edited by Stefano Caruso,[10] while still an important part of the corpus remains unedited.[11]

Even in these circumstances, Rossi Taibbi’s works have revealed a fascinating figure: Phillipos the Philosopher, more commonly known as Philagathos, the name he assumed after becoming a monk in Rossano at the Monastery of New Hodegetria in Calabria.[12] Important research carried out by scholars such as Bruno Lavagnini,[13] Stefano Caruso,[14] Carolina Cupane,[15] Ernst Kitzinger,[16] Aristide Colonna,[17] and others[18] have uncovered a wealth of information about the long forgotten author of the “italo-griechische Homiliar.”

Philagathos has thus emerged as “un personaggio chiave”[19] in the process that led to a brief but intense flowering of Greek culture in the Norman Kingdom of Sicily, most notably in the times of Roger II (1130-1154) and William I (1154-1166). Philagathos was probably born in the last quarter of the eleventh century at Cerami (a small place in north-eastern Sicily, which in 1063 had seen one of the important battles fought between the Arabs and the Normans in their conquest of Sicily).[20] After completing the first stages of his education, mainly by self-sustained efforts (as it seems), young Philippos acquired quite a reputation for learning, which later brought him the nickname Ð filÒsofoj.[21] The amount and the quality of his classical Greek and Christian knowledge come almost as a surprise if one thinks that it must have been “interamente acquisita in loco.”[22]

He probably carried on with his readings even after becoming a monk and changing his name to Philagathos (which Lavagnini interpreted as a polemical farewell to his pre-monastic life).[23] His “curiosità intelettuale fuori del comune, che le ricche biblioteche monastiche potevano in larga parte soddisfare”[24] would probably account for a monastic life which, one guesses, was in part dedicated to further readings, to writing, and, to a greater extent, to preaching. Indeed, it is probable that Philagathos’ main claim to fame during his lifetime was his performance as an elegant and effective preacher. As the inscriptions of his homilies attest, he travelled widely through Calabria and Sicily, delivering his elaborate rhetorical compositions in various churches, and even before a royal audience.[25] To my mind, however, it seems exaggerated to claim that he became “predicatore ufficiale alla corte dei re normanni.”[26] Equally questionable is the assertion that he was, at some time, “al vertice di un organico di recente formazione” aimed at “l’istituzione di un controllo ufficiale sull’insegnamento religioso, esercitato tramite la creazione di una vera e propria cariera didattica.”[27]

On the other hand, it seems that he travelled intensively and that his preaching might have been connected with his being among the Greek monks invited to Sicily from Calabria by King Roger II in order to revive the Greek monastic communities on the island.[28] An important part of this project was the newly established Monastery of the Holy Saviour in Messina.[29] Founded by Roger II and entrusted with significant authority over Greek monasteries in Sicily and in Calabria, this monastery received the status of m£ndra, and Luke, its newly appointed head, direct archimandrital authority over a number of 24 monasteries.[30] The first settlers of the m£ndra were twelve monks from Rossano, the monastery with which Philagathos himself is closely associated. We find Philagathos preaching in the church of the Monastery of Christ Saviour in Messina,[31] in Rossano,[32] in Reggio,[33] in several churches in the capital of the Kingdom, Palermo,[34] in Taormina,[35] in his own birthplace,[36] and on other, unidentifiable, locations.[37]

It is probable that, besides his preaching, Philagathos led an intensive scholarly life. Sometime in his old age he produced a Christian ˜rm»neuma of Heliodoros’ novel Ethiopica,[38] and he could have also been the author of a sort of grammatical handbook.[39] In any case, a homily by one Sabas, from Misilmeri, styled “his [scil. Philagathos’] disciple” survives among the works of our author as a proof that he did become involved with teaching during the later period of his life.[40] As for his end, it seems probable that he did not live long after the reign of William II (1166-89).          

Although Philagathos’ homilies could claim scholarly attention in various ways,[41] in what follows I wish to briefly address only one precise question connected with the first homily of his corpus, that dedicated to the Indiction or the ecclesiastic New Year.[42] Besides an allegorical interpretation of the Indiction, this homily also includes a relatively short account of the life of St Symeon the Stylite (d. 459) as well as an equally allegorical exegesis of his life.[43] I intend to analyse the possible sources which Philagathos used in order to get acquainted with the first Stylite. One reason for conducting such an inquiry is adding a new element to the existing picture of the Stylite’s cult throughout history.[44] An incentive for exploring Philagathos’ view of Symeon is the exquisite and highly original quality of his interpretation, so far unknown to modern exegetes of the Stylite.[45] In order to fully reveal this original interpretation, it seemed useful to include a commented English translation of the homily, dwelling on those aspects which seem peculiar to Philagathos as a reader and exegete of hagiographic works. Finally, as none of the philagathean homilies have been rendered into English to this date, I wish to argue through the present translation that both their interesting contents and their exquisite literary quality could make them worth such an undertaking.


Which Stylite? The Possible Source(s) of Philagathos’ Account of Symeon


Although elsewhere Philagathos explicitly mentions the authors of hagiographic texts he used in his homilies,[46] this does not apply in the case of Symeon the Stylite, whose life is briefly recounted in Hom. 1. 12-13 (ed. Rossi Taibbi, p. 7). Thus we are left with the task of trying to identify the possible source(s) for the version of the Stylite’s life available to Philagathos for his allegorical interpretation.

 The brevity of his account could indicate that he borrowed it from a synaxarion. This is rendered improbable by the fact that the published synaxaria lack several of the concrete details of the saint’s life mentioned by Philagathos such as Symeon’s dwelling in a dry well, the episode of the rough rope wrapped around his body or the exact dimensions of his column.[47]

It is then plausible that the hagiographic text read during the service previous to Philagathos’ preaching[48] was a somewhat longer narration, including all these episodes. From the three hagiographic accounts of Symeon that would have been available to Philagathos,[49] the Life attributed to “his disciple Antonios” seems to be the most unlikely candidate (at least prima facie!): the figures it gives in connection with the height of Symeon’s column do not fit those reported by Philagathos.[50] Theodoret’s version (Philotheos historia 26. 12, ed. Canivet and Leroy-Molinghen, p. 182) agrees with Philagathos on this point, and so does that of Metaphrastes (Vita Sym. Styl. 19, PG vol. 114, col. 337), whose text is mostly a reworking of Theodoret’s. However, in a section of the metaphrastic Life containing material from the Ecclesiastic history of Evagrius, the final height of the column is given as forty cubits. This variant appears in par. 59 of the metaphrastic text (PG vol. 114, col. 392), a fact that indicates that its author omitted to harmonise the various narratives he had incorporated in his Life of Symeon. If Philagathos indeed used a metaphrastic menologion (as it seems probable[51]), he deliberately cast aside the information contained in Ch. 59 of the metaphrastic text, since it would probably not fit his allegorical interpretation of the Stylite, which revolved around the symbolic meanings of number six.

While it seems plausible that the text of Metaphrastes (and, through it, that of Theodoret) could both have served as a basis for Philagathos’ homily, there is one detail in the short narrative provided by our learned preacher for the benefit of his readers, that cannot be found in either of them. This appears in the passage concerning Symeon’s conversion to a monastic lifestyle: according to Philagathos, this happened “on the advice of some elder.”[52] Both Theodoret and Metaphrastes remain vague about the person who advised young Symeon to become a monk.[53] Now, the only other possible source for the story of the old man is the Vita by “Antonios” (or, possibly, a text dependent on it), where the dialogue between Symeon and the old man plays an important part in the narrative of the saint’s Life.[54] One conclusion seems obvious: the Life of Symeon by “Antonios” was also known to Philagathos, who probably supplied the detail “concerning the old man” into the larger hagiographic framework, most probably imported from a metaphrastic menologion.

To offer a definitive solution at this point would be unwise as long as the metaphrastic Life of Symeon has not been critically edited. It remains plausible that Philagathos had known a version of the Life ascribed to “Antonios” by the time he composed his own homily on the Stylite. Another possibility is that Philagathos had read a version of Symeon’s life that combined Theodoret with “Antonios” (much like Metaphrastes did in his own text). Although I am much inclined to favour the first solution, until further texts are published that could shed some light on this matter, I must admit that the only reasonable (if temporary) verdict is a non liquet.        


Note on the Present Translation


The present translation of Philagathos’ Hom. 1, the first into any modern language as far as I know, is based on the Greek text published in Rossi Taibbi’ s edition (p. 3-9). In the few instances when I have chosen not to follow Rossi Taibbi’s text, I have mentioned and justified this in the annotations, where I have also indicated several scriptural allusions and quotations from various authors not identified by Rossi Taibbi. I have tried to render Philagathos’ complex, learned, and most elegant Greek as best I could in English without making the text obscure. In this, I have received precious help from Matthew Suff (Central European University, Budapest), whom I wish to kindly thank here. However, the responsibility for the remaining errors is entirely mine.



Homilies for the Gospel Readings on Sundays and for All the Feasts of the Year


Homily I: For the Beginning of the Indiction[55] and for Saint Symeon the Stylite



 Philippos of Cerami, Also Called Philagathos the Philosopher


1. Blessed be God, Who has deemed us worthy of going through a complete temporal cycle and of reaching the end of the year! From here, as if springing from a starting-block,[56] we shall begin anew the race of our life, spinning the same cycle all throughout our life until that endless age, not measured by spans of time and by the movement of the sun, will receive us.


2. According to history, to what has happened, and to what has been accomplished (for let us put at the very beginning of our speech some sort of seasoning[57] for those of you interested in learning[58]), the day here present represents the renewal of the temporal cycle and is called Indicta in the language of the Romans, for this is how they call the “imposition.”[59] For the Hebrews, it is the month they call Nisan,[60] which marks the beginning of the year, this being the beginning of the vernal equinox and of the rebirth of the world, as is proved by the growth of plants, bushes, and trees. Now, for the Romans of old, it was January that marked the beginning of the year. However, when Caesar Augustus defeated Antony in the month of September, he wished to make his victory famous and changed the Roman custom by granting this month the primacy, as if it were the first spoils [of the battle].[61]


3. Our Good Lord, in turn, by revealing Himself to us according to the flesh, and by gathering into one fold[62] Jews, Romans, and Hellenes, wanted to sanctify the day when He was in Nazareth and entered the synagogue, as is narrated by the refined Luke.[63] And taking in His hands the Book, He read aloud those things which had been foretold about Him by the Prophet [Isaiah].[64] For this reason the Church has traditionally received this day as a feast blessed by God.[65]


But think of these [words merely] as of the outer body of our discourse (to speak as St. Maximus does[66]), and let us now breathe the spirit into it by considering its innermost significances![67]


4. This month, then, called Gorpiaios by the Greeks,[68] Thoth by the Egyptians,[69] Elul by the Hebrews,[70] and by us September in the language of the Romans, contains a symbol and a type of both the Old and the New [Testaments], of this transitory life[71] and of the existence to come. And God has showed this through a parable, when He ordered that three festivals should be observed during this month, namely, that of the trumpets, that of the atonement, and that of the tabernacles.[72] And He said to Moses: “On the fifteenth day of this seventh month, and lasting seven days, there shall be the festival of tabernacles to the Lord, and you shall present [the Lord’s] offerings by fire and sacrifices for seven days!”[73]


5. And the seventh month after Nisan is [precisely] this one, Elul.[74] He also ordered them to sound their trumpets as well as to have a festival and a repose on the first and on the seventh days. And the Law also enjoins taking branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees, of willows and of goodly trees, and in this way rejoice in the holiday.[75]


6. Now, the festival of the trumpets is a type of both the prophets and of the knowledge they foretold. The atonement, on the other hand, is a symbol of God’s reconciliation with mankind: the Father put forth as a sacrifice for atonement[76] the One Who assumed the condemned nature, as Paul says.[77] And the [festival] of the tents symbolises the time of the Resurrection,[78] which for us is thrice longed for [as the great Cyril said][79]; this shall rightly happen during the seventh month, for after a seven-fold passing of time the Resurrection is expected,[80] when man will change, through incorruptibility, his abode. Also, the immortal soul is united with the decaying body in the same manner as those celebrating this festival mix together leaf-shedding trees with evergreen ones. I, for one, think that even the injunction concerning the sounding of trumpets refers to the same [meaning], for on the last day, as it is said, “the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised.”[81]


7. Perhaps someone wishing to cast some doubt will ask: “And why would this month have been chosen to bear all these symbols of the end of [our] present life and of the mystery of the Resurrection?” Obviously, it is because this month is most appropriate to symbolise them, since not only is it the seventh after Nisan, as my discourse has already shown, but it also marks the disappearance of the crops that had started to grow in spring.


8. For you surely realise that the life to come means the end of all that develops through birth and extinction as long as Creation lasts. Furthermore, it is also because the Sun, proceeding through the circle of the zodiac, during this month enters its twelfth [sign], namely, that of the Scales.[82] This probably signifies the justice of the retribution according to God’s impartial judgement. As the month itself is the seventh according to the Hebrews and the first according to our reckoning, the same being both things at once, it thus marks the end of the crops and the beginning of the harvest. We should understand that in the same way this seventh millennium[83] represents on one hand the cessation of birth and extinction, while on the other it announces the beginning of the spiritual harvest, for we shall be placed in that future wine-press. And, as happens there,[84] when healthy and beautiful grapes are put under the press, a sweet and well-scented wine will pour forth, which with the passing of time will develop both beauty and a pleasant odour. However, if the wine is pressed from rotten or sour grapes, it will immediately become spoiled[85] and unfit for drinking, either developing a bad odour or some acid quality, or decaying through some other process of decomposition and producing worms. In the same way at the [time of the] Resurrection, when our deeds, like the grapes, will be passed through the testing fire of Judgement,[86] as in a press, the fruits of the labours of every one of us will be revealed.


9. Do you see what great mysteries are contained in this seemingly small holiday and how this month was not uninspiredly called September by the Romans? Not only because it is the seventh in a row (for septe<m> is the Latin name of the number seven), but also because it is holy (septÒj) and venerable (seb£smioj)![87] And think also of how on this day, which is the beginning and the crowning of the year, we celebrate the common feast of many saints who help us to live virtuously throughout the year!


10. For on this day we celebrate the memory of the Saviour’s reading in the synagogue, of the holy icon of the Mother of God,[88] of Joshua son of Nun, of the seven bloodless martyrs of Ephesus,[89] of the forty virgins,[90] of Calliste, Euodos, and Hermogenes, brothers in blood and in faith[91]; also, Symeon the Stylite illuminates the feast. All these sanctify the beginning of the year: our Saviour Jesus “blesses the crown of the year”[92]; our most holy Lady, who is worshipped through her icon, intercedes with God on our behalf; Joshua, son of Nun, teaches us that we will follow in the footsteps of the true Jesus if we make haste to destroy the walls of sin as he did with those of Jericho[93]; the seven youths [from Ephesus] consecrate the year which is measured in weeks, thus revealing the mystery of the Resurrection through which they were themselves resurrected after having slept for a long time; mighty Symeon by the example of his column bids us to lift ourselves through virtue from earthly things and to keep our mind set on the heavenly [things]. We shall hardly separate Calliste, Euodos, and Hermogenes, for they were not kept apart either by their characters, or by their thoughts, by their unanimity or by their identical combats. And, indeed, these will most rightly (k£llista) guide us on our path (eÙodèsousi), preserving our harmony (¡rmon…an) with God, “whose offspring (gšnoj) we are,” as the wise has said.[94]


11. You have heard the evangelist Luke saying that on this day Christ arrived in his homeland, Nazareth, and read: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.”[95] Come yourself to your own homeland, the spiritual Nazareth,[96] which in the Greek language is translated as “purity”! Come towards a life of purity! This is the homeland and the world, I mean the real homeland and the real world of the soul! If you come towards this, then the Spirit of God is upon you. Let the beginning of the year be the beginning of a purer life for you! Have you been enslaved by some sin until now? Make it end now, at the end of the year! Let the Indiction become for you the beginning of a virtuous way of life! Let us imitate the deeds of the saints, those of the others and those of the holy Symeon, whose Life we have all listened to with admiration! However, the lives of the saints were written not only for the purpose of stirring admiration; nay, through our admiration we should rather be drawn to become their imitators! But someone will say: “Now, how is it possible to imitate him, when his ascetic feats go beyond human nature’s limits?” I will explain it to you in a few words; first, though, I will quickly go through [the events of] his life.


12. Even while he was still a child, this great [saint] became a shepherd of sheep. Mind you, he did not live in the company of pigs as that dissolute youth did, who deserted his father’s house and became a swineherd.[97] Nor did he pasture the mules as did Doeg the Edomite.[98] Nor did he learn how to tame horses, but he guarded a flock of sheep in the same way as Moses,[99] Jacob,[100] David,[101] and Amos.[102] When he once entered the church and heard the words of the Gospel, on the advice of some elder, he did not take any account of all the things of this life and he made himself part of the spiritual flock instead of commanding over beasts.


13. And, at first, he wrapped a rough rope around his loins. Then, having been discovered, he threw himself into a well, and took to living underground. And when they pulled him out of there, he chose for himself the life of a stylite, being the first ever to do so. He kept increasing the height of his column by small additions, first lifting himself at the height of six cubits, then increasing this until [he reached] thirty-six cubits.[103] Thus, having lifted himself above the ground and having become the author of many miracles (he chased demons, tamed the savage character of the barbarians, and turned many to God), he migrated to the eternal abode and left behind his column as a memorial of his way of life.[104]


14. Now, by his example, Saint Symeon teaches us that, while we are still children and at an imperfect spiritual age, we should not live in the company of people of swine-like habits, with those who wallow in the mire of incontinence or with those who shepherd sin like some sterile mules (for, as the race of mules cannot get any offspring from themselves, so vice does not receive its multiplication from God[105]), nor should we have any intercourse with those who, like horses, are crazed with desire for females.[106] On the contrary, we should avoid all these and seek the company of people who share the same thoughts and intentions that we ourselves “shepherd.”


15. When all our thoughts will be guarded, like sheep, by the will of the overseeing reason[107] and we shall live in meekness, [only] then will the message of the Gospel illuminate our souls. This will teach us virtue with the help of those ahead of us and will stir us up towards the perfect life, in order that we might distance ourselves from worldly passions and walk the strait and narrow path,[108] wrapping our loins[109] with the rough and difficult life of chastity,[110] and restraining, as if with a rope, the irrational burning [desires] of our loins with the thought of temperance.[111]


16. When we shall achieve this, even if we are made known to all and admired by all for our virtue, let us plunge ourselves into the pit of humility! Following the example of that great [saint], let us shun this vain and useless trifle of glory, “for all who humble themselves will be exalted,” as Holy Writ says.[112] The saint was not lifted to the heights of his column before having plunged himself into the dry pit, an exploit which brought upon him enough scorn [from the others]. We shall also not be raised to the heights of virtue unless we [first] embrace humility. And even if we hide ourselves through humility and do not succeed in remaining hidden (for this is true about virtue that the more it tries to hide itself, the more it is revealed[113]), and they will drag us out from the pit, I mean to say that the admirers of virtue will make us known [to the world], let us embrace an even harsher way of life! Let us mount the column of virtue with small steps, first reaching to a height of six cubits; this obviously means that we should make the fundament of our further ascent those six commandments through which the just will inherit the heavenly kingdom. For the King Who sits on the throne of glory will grant the kingdom of heaven to those sitting at His right hand as a reward for having kept the six commandments.[114]


17. Therefore, when we shall feed in the flesh, through his poor, the Lord, Who is hungry, and we shall give Him to drink when He is thirsty, and we shall offer Him shelter as to a stranger, and clothe Him, and care for Him when He is suffering in sickness or in prison, then we shall have risen to the six-cubit column!


And if we multiply our virtues like a mina or a talent, increasing them through our effort, then the cycle of our virtues will be complete, the hexad of the commandments being multiplied by itself so that the six may become thirty-six. For there, I think, if the column of the great Symeon was raised to this height (as the story goes), it is because this number is a circle, and a triangle, and a square, and it signifies the perfection of his virtue,[115] how he was unshaken in his reverence for the Trinity and how he was crowned with a rounded wreath of virtues.


18. Now, if by an ascent of this kind we should also reach such heights, we shall chase away demons, the enemies of our salvation, we shall tame the passions which attack us like barbarians,[116] we shall become our own saviours as well as [those] of many others, and we shall thus enjoy the incorruptible and eternal goods. May it be that all of us attain this through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, to Whom is due all glory, honour, and majesty together with His Father, Who has no beginning, and with the most Holy and Life-giving Ghost, for all time. Amen!


Note: The following abbreviations have been used throughout this paper:

AB                           Analecta Bollandiana

BHG                       Bibliotheca hagiographica Graeca, 3rd ed., Brussels, 1957; reprint 1985

LSJ                         Liddell-Scott-Jones, Greek-English Lexicon, 9th ed. (Oxford, 1996)

PG                          Patrologia graeca

PGL                        A Patristic Greek Lexicon, Oxford, 1968

PLRE                      Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire

PW                          Pauly-Wissowa, Real-Encyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft

TLL                         Thesaurus Linguae Latinae

Synax. Eccl. CP.  Synaxarium ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae e codice Sirmondiano nunc Berolinensi adiectis Synaxariis selectis (ed. Hippolyte Delehaye, Brussels: Socii Bollandiani, 1902, Propylaeum ad Acta Sanctorum Novembris


[1] G. Rossi Taibbi, Sulla tradizione manoscritta dell’omiliario di Filagato di Cerami, Palermo: Istituto Siciliano di Studi Bizantini e Neoellenici, 1965.

[2] For the details of his detective work, see the discussion, ibidem: 79-81 and 20 and passim for the various inscriptions of individual homilies present in the manuscripts. 

[3] The collection of homilies was mostly ascribed to this invented archbishop, although several other names  are attested in the manuscripts; see ibidem: 79,  n. 2 and 30, 32, 35 et passim. For previous editions of the corpus and scholarly studies dealing with it, see the overview by Rossi Taibbi, op. cit.: 11-21.

[4] See ibidem: 20 and 80-81.

[5] I translate the Greek text published in the first volume (the only one to appear) of the modern critical edition of the “italo-griechische Homiliar”: Filagato da Cerami, Omelie per i vangeli domenicali e le feste di tutto l’anno (edited by Giuseppe Rossi-Taibbi), vol. 1: Omelie per le feste fisse, Palermo: Istituto Siciliano di Studi Bizantini e Neoellenici, 1969, “Prolegomeni,”: xxiv. The scribal notice is present exclusively in one branch of the manuscript tradition, for which see ibidem: n. 25 and the full descriptions of the manuscripts on xxvi. Note that in his earlier study on the textual tradition of the homilies, Tradizione manoscritta,  Rossi Taibbi had stated that the scribal notice appears after the thirtieth homily (30 and then repeatedly on 35-37), while in his “Prolegomeni” to the critical edition the same notice is placed after Homily 35 (xxiv); I have followed his earlier, more detailed description. For the date and place of the scribal notice, I have also followed Rossi Taibbi plausible conjecture (“Prolegomeni,”: xxiv-xxv). All throughout this study I will refer to the numbering of the homilies as given in Rossi Taibbi’s catalogue (see “Prolegomeni,”: xvii-xxiii), followed by a reference to the page number where they appear in Rossi Taibbi’s edition.

[6] Over a hundred known to Rossi Taibbi (see “Prolegomeni,”: xxxii and xxv-xxxvii for an updated list of these; a revised stemma codicum on xxxix). For the fortune of the corpus see also P. Canart, “Le livre grec en Italie méridionale sous les règnes normand et souabe: aspects matériels et sociaux”, Scrittura e civiltà 2 (1978): 103-162, especially 135-137.

[7] See Rossi Taibbi, “Prolegomeni,”: xxiv, n. 25.

[8] After the tragic disappearance of Rossi Taibbi, the remaining planned two volumes of his critical edition never appeared, although their publication “fra breve” by Enrica Follieri was announced  in print in 1982 (see Lidia Perria, “La clausola ritmica nella prosa di Filagato da Cerami”, Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik 32 (1982), 3: 371, n. 6. 

[9] The Greek text reprinted in Migne’s Patrologia graeca, vol. 132, Paris, 1864 is that of the editio princeps by the Jesuit Francesco Scorso (Paris, 1644). See Rossi Taibbi, “Prolegomeni,”: vi and also xiii for another partial edition of the philagathean homilies.

[10] Stefano Caruso, “Le tre omelie inedite ‘Per la Domenica delle Palme’ di Filagato da Cerami (LI, LII, LIII Rossi Taibbi )” 'Epethrˆj `Etaire…aj Buzantinîn Spoudîn 41 (1974): 109-27.

[11] About 18 items identified and described by Rossi Taibbi (see “Prolegomeni,”: xix-xxiii).

[12] Such is the hypothesis of Rossi Taibbi accepted by other scholars (see “Prolegomeni,”: liv). The Vaticanus Barberinianus gr. 465 (IV 47) clearly states that Philagathos was the monastic name assumed by Philippos of Cerami: see the inscription reproduced by Rossi Taibbi, “Prolegomeni,”: xxxvi.

[13] Bruno Lavagnini, “Filippo-Filagato promotore degli studi di greco in Calabria” originally published in Bollettino della Badia Greca di Grotaferrata, n. s. 28 (1974): 3-12; I have used the version reprinted in Idem, Atakta. Scritti minori di filologia classica, bizantina e neogreca, Palermo: Palumbo, 1978: 760-69. Unfortunately, I had no access to Prof. Lavagnini’s recent contribution Profilo di Filagato di Cerami. Con traduzione della Omelia XXVII pronunziata dal pulpito della Cappella Palatina in Palermo, Palermo: Accademia nazionale di scienze, lettere e arti, 1992.

[14] Besides his already mentioned publication of three philagathean Homilies for the Palm Sunday, Caruso has also written a study entitled “Note di cronologia filagatea (Omelie IV, VI e LII Rossi Taibbi)”, Siculorum Gymnasium, n. s. 31 (1978), 1: 200-212.

[15] Carolina Cupane, “Filagato da Cerami filÒsofoj e did£skaloj: Contributo alla storia della cultura bizantina in età normanna”, Siculorum Gymnasium n. s. 31 (1978), 1: 1-28, a valuable, although somewhat controversial study.

[16] Ernst Kitzinger, “The Date of Philagathos’ Homily for the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul”, in Byzantino-sicula II. Miscellaneo di scritti in memoria di Giuseppe Rossi Taibbi, Palermo: Istituto di Studi Bizantini e Neoellenici, 1975: 301-306, a rare contribution in English. 

[17] Aristide Colonna, “Teofane Cerameo e Filippo filosofo”, Bollettino del Comitato per l’edizione nazionale dei classici greci e latini n. s. 8 (1960): 25-28.

[18] Most recently Gaia Zaccagni, “La p£rergoj ¢f»ghsij in Filagato da Cerami: una particolare tecnica narrativa”, Rivista di Studi Bizantini e Neoellenici, n. s. 35 (1998-99): 47-67 (non uidi).

[19] Cupane, “Filagato,”: 4.

[20] See Donald Matthew, The Norman Kingdom of Sicily, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992 for a convenient introduction to the history of the Normans in Sicily and the historiography of the topic.

[21] I consider this an equally plausible interpretation of the nickname given to him in the manuscripts; for different opinions, see Lavagnini, “Filippo-Filagato,”: 765, Rossi Taibbi, “Prolegomeni,”: liii and contra Cupane, “Filagato,”: 9-10, n. 24, whose interpretation I find the most improbable.

[22] Cupane, op. cit.: 5.

[23] Lavagnini, “Filippo-Filagato,”: 762. It was this name, fil£gaqoj “lover of goodness (and beauty),” that was probably mistook by the scribes for an adjective, and triggered the complicated chain of events which led to the disappearance of all indication of authorship in the majority of the manuscripts containing Philagathos’ homilies (see Rossi Taibbi, “Prolegomeni,”: lii).

[24] Cupane, “Filagato,”: 6, n. 14.

[25] This is the case of Hom. 27 said in the chapel of the royal palace in Palermo in the presence of Roger II; for the controversial dating of this homily, see Kitzinger, “The Date,”: especially 306, placing “it in the late ‘40s or the early ‘50s” of the twelfth century against Rossi Taibbi’s overconfident dating to 29 June 1140 (“Prolegomeni,”: lv). Another homily said in Palermo, in the old cathedral of the city, and with Roger II present is Hom. 50 (see Rossi Taibbi, op. cit.).

[26] As does Cupane, “Filagato,”: 4.

[27] Ibidem: 11, 15-16.

[28] As suggested by Rossi Taibbi “Prolegomeni,”: lvi. For this attempt, see Bruno Lavagnini, “Aspetti e problemi del monachesimo greco nella Sicilia normanna,” which I have read in the version reprinted in Atakta. Studi minori di filologia classica bizantina e neogreca: 627-640, especially 631-635 and the bibliography quoted in Byzantine Monastic Foundations: A Complete Translation of the Surviving Founder’s Typika and Testaments, ed. John Tomas and Angela Constantinides Hero, Washington, D. C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2000: 642-43.

[29] See Lavagnini, “Il monachesimo,”: 632-634.

[30] For the evolution of this royal foundation, see now the historical overview provided in Byzantine Monastic Foundations: 637-639 and 641 for an analysis of the monastery’s authority in Sicily and Calabria; this is based on the introduction to the Typikon of the monastery written by Luke, the archimandrite, in 1131-1132; an English translation of this document by Timothy Miller is provided ibidem: 643-647.

[31] Caruso, “Note di cronologia,”: 206-207; Hom. 6 was probably said there immediately after 1141.

[32] Usually in the cathedral church of Rossano, according to the numerous inscriptions in the manuscripts; see Rossi Taibbi, “Prolegomeni,”: liv.

[33] See Rossi Taibbi, Tradizione: 71.

[34] See Idem, “Prolegomeni,”: lv for the examples; Philagathos seems to have preached in Palermo on eight different occasions.

[35] Hom. 26.

[36] Hom. 18, said in the church of Apostle Andrew.

[37] For a list of manuscript indications concerning the different places where the homilies were said, see Rossi Taibbi, Tradizione: 70-71.

[38] This was published by A. Colonna in his edition Heliodori Aethiopica, Rome, 1938; the item is Testimonium XIII, p. 365-70. Lavagnini observed that this is a work composed at a relatively old age (see his “Filippo-Filagato,”: 765).

[39] On this, see Lavagnini, op. cit.: 768 and Cupane: 24; see ibidem: 20-24 for a short poem which is probably not the work of Philagathos.

[40] This text, included among the homilies of Philagathos in the Matritensis grec. 4554, was edited by Stefano Caruso, “Un’ omilia inedita di Saba di Misilmeri” in Byzantino-sicula II: 139-164. The stylistic quality of this text is quite inferior to those composed by Philagathos: see ibidem: 140 and 142.

[41] The stylistic features of Philagathos’s prose have recently retained the attention of researchers: see the already mentioned contributions by Perria and Zaccagni. Cupane, “Filagato,”: 5, n. 11 considers that “il problema delle fonti classiche di Filagato è però ancora tutto da studiare” and she notes that her own investigation “ha già dato risultati imprevisti” (Prof. Cupane kindly informed me per litteris that she never published the results of her research). Even after a first look, I completely agree with such suggestions. To mention only one topic to which I plan to dedicate some attention in the future, in the homilies published by Rossi Taibbi I have discovered several quotations from the Apokritikos of Macarius Magnes, which probably preserve anti-Christian criticism by Porphyry the philosopher. Given the ongoing debates concerning the attribution of Porphyry’s Contra Christianos, further investigation of Philagathos’ testimony could yield valuable results. Another virtually unexplored topic is the use of hagiographic material in Philagathos’ homilies. The present paper is a first attempt in this direction. 

[42] There are several homilies and texts dedicated to this feast: see the list in the BHG 819-822h: 262-263 and the Auctarium: 93. A comparative study of these texts would undoubtedly help reveal the original parts of Philagatos’ homily.  

[43] Hom. 1: 3-9 translated and commented below.

[44] For a convenient introduction to St Symeon the Stylite, see The Lives of Simeon Stylites, transl. with and introduction by Robert Doran, Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1992: 15-59. Particularly addressing various aspects concerning the cult of the saint, see a series of articles by J. Nasrallah, “Le couvent de Saint Siméon l’Alépin: Témoignages littéraires et jalons sur l’histoire”, Parole de l’Orient 1 (1970): 327-356; “L’orthodoxie de Siméon Stylite l’Alépin et sa survie dans l’église melchite”, Parole de l’Orient 2 (1971): 345-64; “A propos des trouvailes épigraphiques à Saint Siméon l’Alépin”, Syria 48 (1971): 165-78; “Couvents de la Syrie du Nord portant le nom du Siméon”, Syria  49 (1972): 127-59; “Survie de Saint Siméon Stylite l’Alépin dans les Gaules.”, Syria 51 (1974): 171-97. More recently, Jean Pierre Sodini, “Nouvelles eulogies de Syméon” in Les saints et leur sanctuaire à Byzance: textes, images, monuments, ed. by Catherine Jolivet-Lévy, Michel Kaplan, and Jean-Pierre Sodini, Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1993: 26-33, quoting his older studies, and Catherine Jolivet-Lévy, “Contribution à l’étude de l’iconographie mésobyzantine des deux Syméon Stylites” in the same vol.: 35-47.

[45]The literature on the stylites, and on Symeon in particular, is quite extensive; for good bibliographical surveys, see the articles by Susan Ashbrook Harvey, “The Sense of a Stylite: Perspectives on Simeon the Elder”, Vigiliae Christianae 42 (1988): 376-394 and, more recently, by Antony Eastmond “Body vs. Column: The Cults of St Symeon Stylites” in Desire and Denial in Byzantium, ed. Liz James, Aldershot, Great Britain: Ashgate, 1999: 87-100. Various explanations have been offered for the stylite phenomenon, ranging from attempts to connect it with pre-Christian cults in Syria (see David Frankfurter, “Stylites and Phallobates: Pillar Religions in Late Antique Syria”, Vigiliae Christianae 44 (1990): 168-198) to a recent hermeneutic approach that would place Symeon in the general liturgical context of the Syrian church (S. Ashbrook Harvey, “The Stylite’s Liturgy: Ritual and Religious Identity in Late Antiquity”, Journal of Early Christian Studies 6 (1998), 3: 523-539). I find both attempts inconclusive and sometimes testifying to a richer creative imagination than the one standing behind Philagathos’ exegesis. 

[46] See, for instance, Hom. 26, 2, p. 170 and 23. 1, p. 146.

[47] See, for instance in the Synax. Eccl. CP, col. 2-3 and ibid. the synaxaria selecta for 1 September.

[48] Hom. 1. 11: “whose Life we have all listened to” (oá tÕn b…on p£ntej ¢koÚontej).

[49] Three Lives of the Stylite are extant in Greek: that by Theodoret of Cyrrhus (written in 444) [BHG 1678-79] and published as ch. 26 of his Philotheos historia (Thodoret de Cyr, Histoire des moines de Syrie: Histoire Philothe, vol. 1 and vol. 2, ed. by Pierre Canivet and Alice Leroy-Molinghen, Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1977 and 1979: 158-210; that by “Antonios,” supposedly a disciple of the saint [BHG 1682-1685]. This is an extremely problematic text, which still awaits an editor for all its variants; some manuscripts containing the text were published in Das Leben des heiligen Symeon Stylites, ed. by Hans Lietzmann, Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs’sche Buchhandlung, 1908: 20-78. The third is a Life by Symeon Metaphrastes [BHG 1686-87], published in Migne’s PG vol. 114: cols. 336-92; this text is a reworking of the Life by Theodoret, with elements added from the narrative of “Antonios” and from the Ecclesiastical history  Evagrius. Except for the last item, which has not been translated into English, the others are available in English in Doran, Lives: 69-100.

[50] Six cubits at the start and thirty-six at the end in Philagathos, and four (var. three) cubits at the start and forty cubits in the end in various versions of the Life by “Antony”; for a comparison of these dimensions, see Doran, “Introduction,” in Lives: 17.

[51] There are similarities in the language used by Philagathos (Hom. 1. 10: 6) and the text of the metaphrastic Life (ch. 47, PG, vol. 114, col. 381). Moreover, more than one metaphrastic collection must have existed at the Nea Hodegetria at Rossano. Archimandrite Luke, when departing for the newly founded Christ Saviour in Messina received from St Bartholomew of Simeri, the hegumen of the Hodegetria, half of the books of the monastery (see the quotation from the Life of St Bartholomew in Lavagnini, “Aspetti,”: 636). He probably refers to this in the “Preface” to the Typikon he wrote for the new monastery in Messina, remembering that  “other  books [we obtained], which teach us about the lives of the fathers and contain the paraphrases which that most wise Symeon [Metaphrastes] the Logothete composed while moved by the most sacred spirit” (Luke, Typikon, ch. 6 as translated by Timothy Miller in Byzantine monastic Foundations: 645; emphasis added). 

[52] Om. 1. 12, p. 7: gšrontoj aÙtù parainšsantoj.

[53] Theodoret, Philotheos historia, 26. 2 (ed. Canivet and Leroy-Molinghen: 162): tin¦ tîn parÒntwn “someone from those present [at the time]”; the same in Metaphrastes, Vita Sym. Styl. 3 (PG, vol. 114, col. 337), who adds that “it seems this person was also someone who practiced virtue.”

[54] See Lietzmann, Das Leben: 20-22 for the versions of this episode in the various manuscripts printed by the editor.

[55] Initially, the indiction (Lat. indictio) referred to the assessment of land taxes in the Roman Empire, being used to denote a fiscal year when the amount of the annual tax was periodically fixed for a number of years to come. Emperor Diocletian is held to have introduced the first five-year indiction, beginning in 297-98, although this probably applied exclusively to Egypt. The classical Byzantine indiction (or Constantinopolitan indiction), the only one which was systematically applied in the whole Roman Empire, was a fifteen-year cycle first introduced by Licinius in 312-313. Originally starting on the 23 September (dies natalis Augusti), the indiction changed its beginning to 1 September during the second half of the fifth century. Thus, 1 September became the first day of the civil year, and dating events by reference to the year of the indiction when they took place, increasingly common from the latter half of the fourth century, was made mandatory by Justinian I in 537 in the case of legal documents.

The indiction mentioned in the title of Philagathos’ homily, however, is the name of a religious feast which marked the beginning of  the liturgical new year (nšon œtoj) in the Orthodox Church. As in the civil calendar, the evolution of which was closely followed by that of the ecclesiastic one, the first day of the new year was originally 23 September, marked by the feast of the Conception of John the Baptist. When 1 September became the new beginning of the ecclesiastic year, a religious feast was instituted in order to enhance its importance, namely the commemoration of Christ’s first preaching (Lk. 4. 16-22). For a detailed presentation of the evolution of the indiction and its various meanings, see Venance Grumel, La Chronologie, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1958: 192-203, whose conclusions I follow here.

[56] `/Wsper ¢f' Ûsplhggoj; the term Ûsplhgx (more commonly attested as Ûsplhx) refers to a certain machine which was used as a starting block at the races. It was probably based upon a twisted strand which released energy in an automaton when untwisting. See LSJ,: 1905, s. u.

[57] “Hdusma, used by several authors for introducing a digression in their speech, usually containing an explanation or a short narrative: see, for instance, Gregory of Nyssa, In sanctum Ephraim, PG, vol. 46, col. 845; Gregory Nazianzen, Or. 43. 15 Funebris oratio in Basilium Magnum (ed. Bernardi: 150) and especially Or. 41. 2 In pentecosten, (ed. Moreschini: 314).

[58] FilÒkaloij; for other occurrences of this meaning, see Lampe, PGL: 1479 ff. This could be an indication that at least some of the members of the audience addressed by Philagathos were educated and might have had scholarly interests.

[59] Philagathos derives here Greek name for the first day of the year, ‡ndiktoj (instead of the more common „ndiktièn) from Latin indicta “decrees, orders”, which he translates as ÐrismÒj “separation, limitation, definition, decree.” Such a translation derives most probably from the text he found in a synaxarion entry for 1 September: see, for instance, the relevant passages printed in Synax. Eccl. CP., col. 1, lines 4-6 and 27-30. Other Byzantine authors preferred to translate it as m»numa “information, indication” (see, for instance, Lydus, De mensibus 3. 22, ed. Wünsch), deriving its name from the fact that it indicates the beginning of the yearly cycle (Cedrenus, Compendium historiarum, ed. Bekker,  vol. 1: 378). For information concerning the use of  „ndikt…wn and its variants in Greek, see TLL, vol. 7, pt. 1, Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1954, cols. 1159-61, s. u. indictio.

[60] Nisan is the first month of the year according to the Old Testament. During this month, which falls in the spring (March-April), the festival of Passover was celebrated (in mid Nisan). Although Philagathos regards it as the first month of the year according to the Jews, there are other ancient testimonies which indicate the seventh month (called Tishri) as the beginning of the year (on this, see Grumel, Chronologie: 178). Tishri encompasses a thirty day period extending from the latter half of September to the first half of October.

[61] January marked the beginning of the official Roman year only after the introduction of the Julian calendar in 45 B. C. E. In attributing to Augustus the promotion of September as the beginning of the civil year, Philagathos is following an erroneous tradition known to other Byzantine authors. This tradition connected Octavian Augustus’ victory over Mark Antony in the naval battle fought at Actium on 2 September 31 B. C. E. with the introduction of the indiction cycle beginning in September (for this, see, for instance, Lydus, De mensibus 4. 124 (ed. Wünsch) and Hesychius, fr. 2 (ed. Müller: 145-46), who derives the name of the indiction from the place name („ndiktièn, toàt' œstin „naktièn ¹ perˆ tÕ '/Aktion n…kh). In fact, as Grumel has argued, the only probable connection between Octavian Augustus and the indiction is the fact that his Dies Natalis (23 September), a major official holiday of the Empire, was chosen to mark the beginning of the year (nšon œtoj) when the fifteen-year indictional cycle was instituted by emperor Licinius. In fact, many civil calendars in use in various Asian provinces of the Roman Empire had the beginning of the year on 23 September (for a detailed discussion, see Grumel, Chronologie, p. 196-202).    

[62] 'Aul» “steading, fold” is metaphorically used to denote the Christian Church (see Lampe, PGL, p. 264 with relevant quotations).

[63] Lk. 4. 16.

[64] Is. 61. 1, 2; 58. 6.

[65] Philagathos’ statement bears great resemblance to those found in the synaxaria; see, for instance, the Synax. Eccl. CP.,  col. 2, lines 4-7.

[66] Kaˆ p£lin Ólhj tÁj ¡g…aj GrafÁj, Palai©j tš fhmi kaˆ Nšaj, tÕ kaq' ƒstor…an gr£mma, sîma: tÕn d� noàn tîn gegrammšnwn kaˆ tÕn skopÒn, prÕj Ön Ð noàj ¢potštaktai, yuc»n (Maximus the Confessor, Mystagogia 6, ed. Cantarella). This distinction between the historical and allegorical meanings is a constant element in Philagathos’ homilies, although the imagery which expresses it can vary greatly; for other examples, see, for instance, Hom. 13. 12: 89 as well as the other examples quoted by Rossi Taibbi and his critical remarks in the “Prolegomeni” to his edition: xlv-xlvi.

[67] Ta‹j œndoqen qewr…aij; qewr…a was used as a technical term to denote the spiritual sense of the Scripture (especially by the Antiochene school) and equated with ¢llhgor…a by many Fathers. It frequently indicated allegorical exegesis, as in this passage. For relevant occurrences of the term, see Lampe, PGL: 649, s. u. Revealing the hidden, spiritual meanings of the Scriptures (and of other liturgical readings) represents, according to Philagathos, the main purpose of his exegesis: see the fragments from Hom. 42. 12 and 37. 6, quoted by Rossi Taibbi, “Prolegomeni,”: xlv.

[68] Gorpia‹oj was initially the name of a month in the Macedonian calendar (roughly equivalent with August), which was adopted by several provinces throughout the East following Alexander the Great’s conquests. A form of this calendar survived most notably in Antioch, where Gorpia‹oj was the equivalent of September. From the fourth century C. E. onwards this became the official calendar of the Antioch patriarchate. It was known to some as the calendar kat¦ “Ellhnaj and kat¦ SÚrouj e‡t' oân kat¦ “Ellhnaj (Epiphanius, Panarion 51. 24; ed. Holl, vol. 2: 293) and this might explain why Philagathos considers Gorpia‹oj to be a Greek (possibly pagan) name. For details, see Grumel, Chronologie: 169, 174.

[69] After a reform of the Egyptian calendar during the time of Augustus (30 B. C. E), the month of Thôth started on 29/30 August and lasted until 27/28 September (see Grumel, Chronologie: 167). In the fourth century, we find the following equation: m¾n . . . Ð kat¦ `Rwma…ouj kaloÚmenoj Septembr…oj, kat¦ d� toÝj A„gupt…ouj Qëq kaˆ kat¦ MakedÒnaj Gorpia‹oj (Athanasius of Alexandria, De synodis Arimini in Italia et Seleuciae in Isauria 12. 1. 2; ed. H. G. Opitz, vol. 2. 1).

[70] After their Babylonian captivity, the Jews started using Elul as a name for the sixth month of the year (August-September), which is the twelfth month of the older civil calendar. This month’s name is given as Eloul (2 Esdras 16. 15 and 1 Machab. 14. 27) and as 'EloÚl by Lydus (De mensibus 3. 22, ed. Wünsch) in a list with the Hebrew names of months. I suspect that EÙ£l, the form printed by Rossi Taibbi and apparently unattested elsewhere, is a misreading; I have used the attested form in my translation.    

[71] TÁj parodikÁj taÚthj zwÁj probably inspired by the similar expression used in Gregory of Nyssa’s De dominica oratione, or. 4 (ed. Oehler: 278).

[72] The festival of the trumpets is the New Year Festival (Hebr. Rosh Hashanah “the head of the year”), a festival celebrated on the first day of the month of Tishri (September-October); see Lev. 23. 23-25 and Num. 29. 1-6. The festival of the atonement refers to the Day of Atonement (Hebr. Yom Kippur), a day spent in fast and abstention from work. It was observed ten days after the beginning of the new year; see Lev. 23. 27-32. The festival of the tabernacles (Hebr. Sukkoth) was celebrated for eight days starting on the fifteenth day of Tishri; see. Lev. 23. 39-43. John Chrysostom says that this is celebrated “around the end of Gorpiaios” (In diem natalem, PG vol. 49, col. 357).

[73] Lev. 23. 34 and 36.

[74] Philagathos is somewhat stretching his chronology here, since Elul is the sixth month after Nisan, the seventh being Tishri, as shown above.

[75] Lev. 23. 40.

[76] For patristic references to Christ as effecting the atonement of God with mankind, see Lampe, PGL: 673, s. u. ƒlasmÒj.

[77] Rom. 3. 25. For similar references to the expression t¾n katakriqe‹san fÚsin “condemned nature,” used here by Philagathos, see Gregory Nazianzen, Ep. 101. 51 (ed. Gallay) and Maximus Confessor, Quaestiones ad Thalassium 62 (ed. Laga and Steel, vol. 2, p. 318).

[78] See Lampe, PGL: 1237, s. u. skhnophg…a for other patristic references where the same interpretation is attested.

[79] I have integrated into the text the addition ˜ort¾ æj Ð polÝj œfhse KÚrilloj appearing in the Ambros. gr. 196, which Rossi Taibbi printed only as a variant reading (see Filagato, Hom. 1. 6; p. 4, apparatus ad. loc.). The phrase is an almost verbatim quotation from Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentarii in Ioannem (ed. Pusey, vol. 1: 686): ™f£skomen g¦r t¾n m�n ™ort¾n tÁj skhnophg…aj tÕn tripÒqhton ¹mîn tÁj ¢nast£sewj katashma…nein kairÒn; elsewhere Philagathos indicates expressis uerbis when he is quoting Cyril’s interpretation, see Hom. 4. 10, p. 26.

[80] The Jewish Passover, when Christ died and was resurrected, was celebrated in mid Nisan (end of March-beginning of April). According to Philagathos’ calculation, Easter would fall some time at the end of March (that is, if his placing Easter in the seventh month of the year is not merely part of the allegorical interpretation of number seven he puts forth in this homily). For a list of the years when Easter fell at the end of March during the twelfth century, see Grumel, Chronologie: 310. For the meaning of the “seven-fold passing of time”, see below, n. 83.

[81] 1 Cor. 15. 52.

[82] Between 1100 and 1250 the sun entered the zodiacal sign of the Scales on 16 September (see Grumel, Chronologie: 315, table XV).

[83] `O ›bdomoj oátoj a„ën; Philagathos refers here to the mystical conception which regarded the duration of this world as corresponding to the six days of Creation; the world would last for six thousand years, and during the seventh millennium the Eternal Judgement would happen, where all the dead will be resurrected. This was one of the fundamental tenets of Byzantine chronology (see Grumel, p. 3 for a detailed presentation). Following this chronology, Philagathos stated elsewhere that Christ assumed a human body during the sixth millennium (Hom. 25. 6, p. 164) and that the end of this world would take place in the seventh millennium (ibid., 8, p. 165). For this particular meaning of the term a„èn, see Lampe, PGL, p. 55, s. u. with the appropriate quotations.

[84] The following passage, an elaborate description of wine-making, was borrowed almost verbatim by Philagathos from Gregory of Nyssa’s In inscriptiones psalmorum (ed. McDonough, vol. 5: 84), although our author changed the order of Gregory’s phrases and did not take over his allegorical interpretation, preferring to produce his own, rather strained, exegesis. Rossi Taibbi’s edition does not indicate this borrowing.

[85] I do not see any decisive reason for preferring ™ntrop…aj [scil. o�noj], printed by Rossi Taibbi, to ™ktrop…aj, attested in most of the codices detteriores  and favoured by all previous editors, since the two expressions were synonymous; Gregory of Nyssa’s text, copied here by Philagathos, presents yet another synonym, trop…aj.

[86] The same imagery of the pàr dokimastikÒn was used by Cyril of Jerusalem (Catecheses ad illuminandos 15. 21, ed. Reischl and Rupp, vol. 2) and by Theodore the Studite (Ep. 340, ed. Fatouros, vol. 2: 481) in connection with the Last Judgement.

[87] The fanciful etymological-allegorical explanation given here by Philagathos might have been inspired by a passage in the De opificio mundi 127 by Philo of Alexandria (ed. Cohn), which also connects Lat. septem with Gk. semnÒj and sebasmÒj. Lydus (De mensibus 4. 121, ed. Wünsch), on the other hand, and closer to the truth, associated the name of the month with its position as the seventh in a row, according to the pre-Julian calendar, which had March as the first month. The same etymological-allegorical interpretation of number seven is present in another work, now unanimously attributed to Philagathos; this is a Christian ˜rm»neuma of the novel Etiopica by Heliodoros, contained in the Marcianus graecus 522 (olim 410) and last edited by A. Colonna, who was the first to convincingly demonstrate that Philagathos is the author of this hermeneutic work. For his contribution, as well as for other issues connected with this text, see the subsequent discussions in Cupane, “Filagato,”: 16, n. 42, for Colonna’s bibliography.

[88] This was an icon of the Holy Mother of God preserved in the monastery of Miasena (QeotÒkoj tîn Miashnîn), probably located near Melitene, in Armenia (for this site, see the notice by F. Schachermeyr in PW, vol. 5, Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1932, col. 1515, s. u. Miasena). According to the notices in the synaxaria, this icon was thrown in a lake close to the monastery during the reign of Leo the Isaurian (717-741), and miraculously emerged a century later, after the defeat of the iconoclasts; see the notices in Synax. Eccl. CP., col. 1, lines 30-33 and col. 6, lines 10-17 and the remarks of I. Martinov in Annus ecclesiasticus Graeco-Slavicus, Brussels: H. Gremaere, 1863: 215. 

[89] Philagathos is the only author to mention a celebration of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus on this date, while they are usually commemorated on 4 August and 22 October. This has not escaped the notice of Hippolyte Delehaye, who observed long ago that in the Homily for the Beginning of the Indiction our author (whom the reputed Bollandist still knew as “Theophanes Kerameus”) “ajoute à la liste traditionnelle, on ne sait pourquoi, les Sept Dormants d’Éphèse” [“Quelques dates du martyrologe hiéronimien”, AB 49 (1931): 48, n. 2]; emphasis added). Considering the important role played by the number seven in the allegorical interpretation on which much of this homily is built, I would assume Philagathos’ odd choice was not based on a real liturgical practice. It was rather the convenient (exegetically speaking) number of the saints that led to their inclusion in the list in order to buttress an interpretation which relied so heavily upon the symbolism of number seven. 

[90] Various synaxaria add a certain deacon Ammon (or Ammoun) to the forty virgin martyrs as their teacher and fellow martyr in Thrace towards the end of Licinius’ reign; see Synax. Eccl. CP., col. 3, lines 20-29 and the testimonies of the synaxaria selecta quoted therein. These martyrs are commemorated on the same date in the Martyrologium Romanum, ed. Delehaye et al.: 373-374 and on 19 November in the Martyrologium hieronymianum (for which, see H. Delehaye, Commentarius perpetuus in Martyrologium hieronymianum: 607-608). A Passio of these martyrs [BHG 2280] and Epitome of this [BHG 2281] were edited by H. Delehaye “Saints de Thrace et de Mésie”, AB 31 (1912): 194-207 and 207-209. Although, based on the testimony of the Passio, the editors of the PLRE have given an entry to Baudus (vol. 1, p. 159) as “governor in Thrace ? c. 319/324”, T. D. Barnes has convincingly warned that these documents are completely unreliable, and, consequently, that the entry should be deleted as spurious (see Barnes, The New Empire of Diocletian and Constantine, Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1982: 186. Although he mentions them at this point, Philagathos will not provide an allegorical interpretation for the forty martyrs later, as he does for the other saints feasted on this day.

[91] In most synaxaria Calliste, Hermogenes, and Euodos are celebrated together with Agathocleia (see Synax. Eccl. CP., col. 4, lines 18-20 and cols. 5-6, lines 39-40 and 42-46). A group of three martyrs, as mentioned by Philagathos appears in the manuscript styled Fa (Paris. gr. 1590) in Delehaye’s edition (see ibid. the synaxaria selecta for 1 September, cols. 2-3, line 38) as well as in the Martyrologium hieronymianum on 25 April and 1 September, where they are said to have been martyred at Syracuse. Little else is known about these martyrs besides the meager indications provided in the synaxaria. Delehaye plausibly argued that Calliste is a mistake for Callistus, and the three were the sons of St. Theodote of Niceea, had no connection with Syracuse, and were probably martyred in Bythinia on 2 September; for the Bollandist’s remarkable detective work, see his studies “Quelques dates du martyrologe hiéronimien”, AB 49 (1931): 47-49 and “Sainte Théodote de Nicée”, AB 55 (1937): 204-209). Philagathos undoubtedly found useful the feminine form of the first name when providing it with a witty allegorical interpretation (Hom. 1. 10).

[92] Ps. 64. 12.

[93] Jos. 6. 5, 6. 20.

[94] Aratus, Phaenomena 5, also quoted in Acts 17. 28. The allegorical interpretation (sometimes reaching virtuoso levels) applied to names, numbers, concepts, and objects is one of the most salient features of Philagathos’ homiletic style. Rossi Taibbi remarked that this places our author in the exegetical tradition of Philo of Alexandria, Gregory of Nyssa, and Maximus the Confessor, from whose works he extensively borrowed (“Prolegomeni,”: xlvi). For other examples of  such exegesis applied to names of saints and martyrs, see, for instance, Hom. 29. 22-23, p. 197 and 30. 18-19, p. 204-5.

[95] Lk. 4. 16-18.

[96] T¾n s¾n patr…da t¾n noht¾n Nazaršt; in Hom. 28. 22, p. 189, Philagathos speaks of the “spiritual Jerusalem” (tÁj nohtÁj 'Ierousal»m) as being the true homeland of humankind.

[97] Lk. 15. 11 sqq.

[98] 1 Sam. 21. 7, 22. 9, Ps. 51. 2.

[99] Exod. 3. 1.

[100] Gen. 30. 36.

[101] 1 Kings 16. 11, 16. 19.

[102] Am. 1. 1. This list of famous Old Testament characters who began their career as shepherds does not include Amos, but Michaia in the version given by Theodoret (and, subsequently, by Symeon Metaphrastes): see Theodoret, Philotheos historia, 26. 2, ed. Canivet and Leroy-Molinghen: 160 and Symeon Metaphrastes, Vita S. Symeonis Stylitae, PG vol. 114, col. 337. While two of  the manuscripts of Theodoret’s text omit the prophet Michaia from this list (see apparatus ad. loc.), none seem to mention Amos. Unfortunately, a reliable critical edition of the metaphrastic Lives remains a desideratum, therefore it cannot be excluded that Philagathos might have found Amos in one of the metaphrastic manuscripts containing the Life of Symeon. However, as Philagathos is not a slavish imitator of his sources (as observed by Rossi-Taibbi in his “Prolegomeni,”: xlix), it is also possible that the addition of Amos represents one of his original contributions to the hagiographic dossier of the Stylite.    

[103] Theodoret’s account of Symeon is the only one among the ancient sources to give the final height of Symeon’s column as thirty-six feet (see Philotheos historia 26. 12, ed. Canivet and Leroy-Molinghen: 184). Symeon Metaphrastes speaks first of a final thirty-six foot column (kaˆ tšloj ›x p»ceij tÕ p©n Ûyoj ™pˆ tîn tri£konta œscen Vita Sym. Styl. 19, PG, vol. 114, col. 349) and, towards the very end, in a section which reworks material from EvagriusHistoria ecclesiastica, inadvertently keeps the mention of a forty-foot pillar (Ð stÚloj ™ke‹noj Ð tessarakont£phcuj Vita Sym. Styl. 59, ibidem, col. 392). If Philagathos used the metaphrastic Life for his account of Symeon (as I think he did), he neglected the last indication, adopting the version ultimately indebted to Theodoret, which served his exegetical purposes much better.    

[104] The Greek original has tÁj aÙtoà polite…aj oŒa st»lhn ton stàlon katalipîn with a play upon words that was not possible to render exactly into English.

[105] This is an almost verbatim quotation (not mentioned as such in Rossi Taibbi’s edition) from Gregory of Nyssa’s In inscriptiones psalmorum (ed. McDonough, vol. 5: 134): dÁlon d'¨n e‡h t…nej e„sˆn aƒ ¹m…onoi, ïn ™pistate‹ oátoj Ð 'Iduma‹oj Ð t¾n ¥gonon boukolîn fÚsin, ™n Î toà Qeoà ¹ eÙlog…a tÒpon oÙc eáren . . . oÙ g¦r ™k Qeoà Ð plhqusmÕj tÍ kak…v: æj oÙd� ™x ¢ll»lwn ™stˆn ¹ toà gšnouj tîn ¹miènwn diadoc» [. . .].

[106] Jer. 5. 8, a scriptural reference not provided by Rossi Taibbi.

[107] I have identified this as another verbatim quotation from Gregory of Nyssa (De vita Moysis 2. 18, ed. Daniélou): ¢ll' ™n Ðmofronoàs… te kaˆ Ðmognwmoàsi to‹j par' ¹mîn boukoloumšnoij suz»somen, p£ntwn tîn ™n ¹m‹n tÁj yucÁj kinhm£twn, prob£twn d…khn, tù boul»mati toà ™pistatoàntoj lÒgou poimainomšnwn.

[108] Mt. 7. 14; although not indicated in Rossi Taibbi’s edition, this is clearly a scriptural allusion.

[109] The language is that of Ephes. 6. 14, also alluding to Is. 11. 5; not indicated by Rossi Taibbi.

[110] KatesklhkÒti b…J tÁj ™gkrate…aj. The terms are those of Gregory of Nyssa (cf. his In canticum canticorum, ed. Langerbeck, vol. 6, p. 282).

[111] For a similar passage, although with a different imagery (Philagathos speaks of the belt as symbolising the thought of temperance), see Hom. 22. 15, p. 146.

[112] Lk. 14. 11.

[113] A well known hagiographic topos, also used by Philagathos elsewhere (see Hom. 26. 1, p. 169).

[114] Mt. 25. 31-37.

[115] Allegorical interpretation of numbers and speculating on their mystical value is another favourite exegetic procedure employed by Philagathos. For further examples, see Rossi Taibbi, “Prolegomeni,” xlvi.

[116] This allusion to the spiritual warfare against the passions is a well-known topos of monastic and hagiographic literature. To give just an example, one of the less studied patristic authors, St Nilus of Ancyra (d. ca 430) employs the “barbarian” imagery in the same was as Philagathos: in his Logos asketikos (PG vol. 79, cols. 719-810), the tempting demon is presented as the Barbarian (tÕn B£rbaron), whom the monks are supposed to chase away “through chastity and abstinence” (di¦ swfrosÚnhj kaˆ ™gkrate…aj) (805C). For other examples and for an excellent discussion of this imagery, see Mary B. Cunningham, “ ‘Shutting the Gates of the Soul’: Spiritual Treatises on Resisting the Passions” in Desire and Denial in Byzantium: 23-32 (especially 29-30).