Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Severed Breast: The Legends of Saints Agatha and Lucy in Medieval Castilian Literature

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Severed Breast: The Legends of Saints Agatha and Lucy in Medieval Castilian Literature

Article excerpt

Andrew M. Beresford, The Severed Breast: The Legends of Saints Agatha and Lucy in Medieval Castillan Literature (Newark, Del.: Juan de la Cuesta Hispanic Monographs, 2010). 272 pp. ISBN 978-1-5 8871-183-0. £14.50.

Hagiography was one of the most prolific narrative genres in the Middle Ages, with Jacobus de Voragine 's Legenda aurea (f. 1260) the most popular and widely disseminated compendium. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the Legenda aurea was reworked into Castilian in the form of anthologies that have come to be known as Compilations A and B. The number of conserved hagiographie documents in the medieval Iberian peninsula dwarfs those belonging to other narrative genres, yet, despite their leading position amongst written narrative, the extant collections of saints' lives remain largely unedited. Female saints, whose lives constitute approximately a third of the Legenda, remain particularly understudied.

Andrew M. Beresford recognizes this paucity of scholarship. His monograph on the legends of Sts Agatha and Lucy - Sicilian virgin martyrs who died at the height of the Decían persecutions of 250-3 and during the Diocletian persecution of 302, respectively - subjects to scrutiny the relationship between the two saints. One might question whether the topic covered merits a booklength study, particularly given that the legends of the virgin martyrs depart, in some ways, relatively litde from one another. Similarly, one might argue that with over forty female saints in the extant Castillan collections and over 1 50 witnesses of their lives (almost all of which are unavailable except in manuscript form), scholarly approaches that tackle the vast corpus one or two saints at a time will inevitably have their limitations. Beresford's is one such approach, focusing on 'discrete conceptual discussion, with the emphasis on the specific rather than the generic' (p. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.