Saturday, June 2, 2007

Well, aren't I just being the productive little writer today?

I had thought. I think I might have picked up on a possible incident of intertextuality between The Acts of Paul and Thecla and the Life of St. Mary of Egypt.

In Thecla, during one of the attempts to martyr Thecla in the arena, the lioness that is supposed to be turning out heroine into lunch instead comes to her aid. In the Life of St. Mary, a lion - male - pays respect to the Mary's corpse and then aids Father Zosima to dig a grave and bury her. In both cases the lion takes the action of licking the feet of the saint. It's probably not the strongest case ever for intertextuality, but I think that it suffices. At least as a place to start. So, now the question becomes, what light does this intertextuality shed on the Life of St. Mary?

I think it's fairly obvious that both lions indicate respect being paid to the saint, an acknowledgment of the saint's holiness. The major difference in the two is that Thecla is honored by a "she-lion" and Mary by a male lion. This contrast draws attention to the maleness of the lion who licks Mary's feet and digs her grave. It doesn't seem unreasonable to think that the presence of this lion associates Mary with maleness and contributes to the subversion of cohesive gender already present within the text.

Now why didn't I notice this when I was writing my paper? Oh well, I need to revise and lengthen the thing anyway.

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