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Frangulyan L.R. Elements of (Auto) Biography in the Context of Coptic Hagiography, 7 th –8 th Centuries. Studia Litterarum, 2018, vol. 3, no 4, pp. 40–57. (In Russ.)

DOI: 10.22455/2500-4247-2018-3-4-40-57

Author: Liliya R. Frangulyan
Information about the author:

Liliya R. Frangulyan, PhD in Philology, Research Fellow, Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Rozhdestvenka 12, 107031 Moscow, Russia; Senior Lecturer, Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox University, Likhov 6, 127051 Moscow, Russia.

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Received: February 24, 2018
Published: December 25, 2018
Issue: 2018 Vol. 3, №4
Department: World Literature
Pages: 40-57

UDK: 821’01
BBK: 83.3(0) 4
Keywords: Coptic series, Emperor Diocletian, Julius of Aqfahs, authors of the series, martyrs of the Ancient Church, hagiography, autobiography, biographical elements, canonical literature, pseudo-attribution.


The Coptic hagiographic series, which became widespread after the Arab conquest of Egypt, are texts united by a common hero-martyr of the Ancient Church. The plot takes place against the background of persecutions against Christians under the pagan emperor Diocletian. Martyrdoms, encomiastic lives, and collections of miracles are either pseudo-attributed, or have no attribution; therefore, their authors or the school they must have belonged to remain unknown. The Coptic hagiographers used different literary methods to confirm the truth of the events described. One of such methods was the inclusion of the (auto)biographical elements in the narrative. Two biographies of the characters important for the Coptic series are scattered in different texts. The first legend concerns the Emperor Diocletian, the chief instigator of the persecutions by the Coptic tradition. The second biography concerns judicial secretary Julius of Aqfahs who due to his miraculous healing had chosen to help martyrs and write down their martyrdoms. These characters, undoubtedly familiar to the Copts, play opposite roles in relation to the martyrs, and the facts of their biographies must have interested the reader increasing the significance and the authenticity of each text. Autobiographical elements are mainly associated with pseudo-authors who claim to have been witnesses or participants in the events. Thus, the Coptic hagiographers tried to increase the plausibility of their narratives and make them an integral part of the corpus of hagiographic texts.


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