Echi di Passio Agnetis BHL 156 – BHG 46 in un’orazione di Eustazio di Tessalonica?
| AEVUM - 2012 - 2
SUMMARY: In 1179, when the King of France’s daughter, Agnes, promised bride to Alexios II
Komnenos, arrived in Constantinople, the Archbishop Eustathios of Thessalonike composed an
oration, in which he underlined that, in spite of her young age, the princess already showed a
‘‘white-haired wisdom’’. Certainly, the recourse to the topos of the puella senex might be
grounded on facts; but in this paper another hypothesis is suggested: the praise could be part
of a more sophisticated rhetoric game in which the prelate aimed at associating, in an allusive
way, the little princess with her patron saint, Agnes. In fact the text of Passio Agnetis BHL
156, which was immensely popular in the West and enjoyed a Greek translation (BHG 46),
presented the twelve year old martyr corpore iuvencula sed animo cana (young in body, but
white-haired in spirit) and gifted with a senectus mentis immensa (very old for her wisdom).