Sailing Beyond the Epic: The Wanderings of Odysseus as Paradigm of Spiritual Virtue in the Writings of Manuel Gabalas
Manuel Gabalas (1272–1357) shows a distinct fascination with Homeric epics throughout his extensive corpus of writings. He not only integrated Homeric imagery in his letters but also devoted a paraphrase and an ethical interpretation of the wanderings of Odysseus intended for pedagogical purposes. These texts were probably used during his time as a teacher in Constantinople in the first decades of the 14th century. Gabalas turns the heroic wanderings into a spiritual battle, and this served him to use Odysseus as an example of the moral perfection of asceticism. Furthermore, Gabalas projects his moral reading of the myth and his vision of Odysseus into his philosophical texts, namely the 200 Chapters, which are a compilation of short notes that represent a synthesis of his vision of Christian ethics and theology. This discussion aims to shed light on the works and thought of Manuel Gabalas, his interpretation of the Odyssey, as well as on the question of the usefulness of pagan literature and philosophy as a complementary tool for illuminating the truths of Christian doctrine, a discussion that will be developed with the outbreak of the Palamite conflict a few years later.
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