Sunday, March 07, 2021


Be Careful Outside, and Watch Where You Dig

Cyril Mango (1928-2021), Byzantium: The Empire of New Rome (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1981), p. 160, with note on p. 295:
The Lives of saints are full of references to demons that haunted the out-of-doors, as a few examples will show. In the sixth century St Nicholas of Sion, whom we have already mentioned, was called upon to deal with a huge cypress tree inhabited by a demon who terrified the surrounding region and killed anyone that drew near. The saint, before a large assembly, began chopping the tree down with an axe; it wavered and began falling into the crowd (naturally at the devil's instigation), but Nicholas caught it single-handed and made it fall in the opposite direction. Thereupon the demon admitted defeat and departed.21 Demons lurked in deserted places, kept watch at the crossing of rivers and torrents, and were particularly numerous underground. A man who walked abroad after dark ran the risk of becoming possessed. An injudicious excavation, especially of a spot marked by the remains of pagan antiquity, was apt to release a multitude of demons who would then take possession of human beings and farm animals.

21 Anrich, Hagios Nikolaos, i, 12ff.
Related post: St. Nick and Old Nick: A Case of Arboricide.

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