SummaryThe Lives of Saints as well as fairy-tales eventually tell of animals which have the gift to speak. The categorization of phenomena like speaking animals is dependent on the epistemic structure of the narrated world. On the example of ‘speaking deers’ the paper outlines, that in hagiographic literature speaking animals are reported as miracles, which are to testify either the holiness of a place or the person they are speaking to. On the contrary, in fairy-tales speaking animals are part of the expected actors to appear in the structure of the narrated world and are not marked as miracles, at all. Consequently, the semiotic status of such phenomena can be differentiated: hagiography tends to symbolical or metaphorical meaning, fairy-tales to allegoric meaning. The difference between symbolic and metaphorical meaning in hagiography is shown in comparing two episodes including a speaking deer as if Christ himself is speaking. In Vita Placida, the deer has the specific and contextually supported gnostic meaning ‘soul’, while in Vita Huberti the deer only takes iconically induced metaphoric meaning (wearing cross-like antlers = carrying the cross), but in the fairy-tale the deer is an allegory of a human character trait and thus can be substituted by another allegory without change of context.
Zeitschrift für Slawistik – de Gruyter
Published: Jun 1, 2018
Keywords: Gnosticism; stag’s antlers; metaphor; allegory; fairy-tale
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