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Architects of PietyThe Cappadocian Fathers and the Cult of the Martyrs$
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Vasiliki M. Limberis

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199730889

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199730889.001.0001

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Materializing Martyria Then and Now

(p.53) 2 Ekphrasis
Architects of Piety

Vasiliki M. Limberis (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the Cappadocians’ deployment of ekphrasis as it appears in panegyrics to the martyrs and in other letters connected in some way to the cult of the martyrs. The analysis of Gregory of Nyssa’s powerful use of ekphrasis of the artwork in the martyrium of St. Theodore of Euchaïta shows how astutely he prepares the faithful for physical and spiritual redirection through ritual acts at the martyr shrine. The second part links the role of ekphrasis to the two structures built by the Cappadocians: the church built by Gregory of Nazianzus’ father, and the martyrium built by Gregory of Nyssa. Finally, the chapter compares and contrasts Nyssen’s martyrium with the archeological reconstruction of St. Philip’s martyrium in Hierapolis, built in the late-fourth century, thus providing a tangible entrance into the vibrant network of Cappadocian martyria, no longer extant.

Keywords:   Ekphrasis, panegyric, Gregory of Nyssa, St. Theodore of Euchaïta, panegyris, relics, martyrium, St. Philip martyrium, martyrium in Nyssa

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