The belief in the divinity’s healing intervention during the dream state is widespread in all the ancient cultures as well as in the modern folklore. In this paper I will examine a few aspects of the question in late antique and early medieval literary sources. Through an historical-semantic and historiographic analysis, I will first explore the possibility of a new approach based on an anthropological reading of the text, which is particularly susceptible to the ritual performance of the healing dream. While contributing to the elaboration of the dreaming imagery and, thus, playing a decisive part in directing the expectations of health and salvation, the literary sources integrate with the complex active dynamic of the ‘miracle’. Only this methodology allows the historian to break the impasse, to which inevitably leads the sterile research of mere correspondences between an ancient ritual paradigm – that many scholars consider the unambiguous definition of incubation – and case studies based on the mechanic identification of the lowest common denominator that indeed includes the observable facts in the same paradigm. This new methodology also allows to approach correctly a crucial point: the continuity or discontinuity of the oneiromantic practices in Paganism and Christianism, which involves the relationships among oneiric, literary, iconic and therapeutic imagery. The impact of the divination’s traditional interpretations in the Greek and Latin speaking provinces of the Roman Empire as well as the differences between the two Partes in managing with or eradicating the legacy of the pagan cults, only partially contribute to understand the diverse fortunes of the incubation in Byzantium and the Latin West. Even if ancient, a ritual practice is always a very flexible behaviour’s pattern. In order to understand the interpretative strategies and the active aims of a ritual practice, it is necessary to address the question of its historicity, thus of its changes and reactivations even if the latter happen through gestures and verbal forms absolutely unexpected.

L'incubazione cristiana tra Antichità e Medioevo

CANETTI, LUIGI
2010

Abstract

The belief in the divinity’s healing intervention during the dream state is widespread in all the ancient cultures as well as in the modern folklore. In this paper I will examine a few aspects of the question in late antique and early medieval literary sources. Through an historical-semantic and historiographic analysis, I will first explore the possibility of a new approach based on an anthropological reading of the text, which is particularly susceptible to the ritual performance of the healing dream. While contributing to the elaboration of the dreaming imagery and, thus, playing a decisive part in directing the expectations of health and salvation, the literary sources integrate with the complex active dynamic of the ‘miracle’. Only this methodology allows the historian to break the impasse, to which inevitably leads the sterile research of mere correspondences between an ancient ritual paradigm – that many scholars consider the unambiguous definition of incubation – and case studies based on the mechanic identification of the lowest common denominator that indeed includes the observable facts in the same paradigm. This new methodology also allows to approach correctly a crucial point: the continuity or discontinuity of the oneiromantic practices in Paganism and Christianism, which involves the relationships among oneiric, literary, iconic and therapeutic imagery. The impact of the divination’s traditional interpretations in the Greek and Latin speaking provinces of the Roman Empire as well as the differences between the two Partes in managing with or eradicating the legacy of the pagan cults, only partially contribute to understand the diverse fortunes of the incubation in Byzantium and the Latin West. Even if ancient, a ritual practice is always a very flexible behaviour’s pattern. In order to understand the interpretative strategies and the active aims of a ritual practice, it is necessary to address the question of its historicity, thus of its changes and reactivations even if the latter happen through gestures and verbal forms absolutely unexpected.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/92203
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