The Ethiopian, the Devil and the Arapes: Emergence of the Collective Image of the Blacks in the Balkan Conceptual World  Cover Image
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От етиопеца през дявола до черния арапин: поява на събирателния образ на черните в балканския мисловен свят
The Ethiopian, the Devil and the Arapes: Emergence of the Collective Image of the Blacks in the Balkan Conceptual World

Author(s): Liliana Simeonova
Subject(s): History
Published by: Институт за исторически изследвания - Българска академия на науките

Summary/Abstract: In the conceptual world of the medieval Balkans, there are three abstract, collective images of blacks which seem to have interacted with each other. These are the Ethiopian, the Devil and the Arapes. While the Ethiopian started out as a literary hero endowed, more often than not, with positive characteristics by Homer, Strabo, Pliny and the rest of the classics, the Arapes seems to have been a scary mythological creature from the very beginning. The Devil, for his part, seems to have acted as a kind of intermediary in the mergence of the images of the Ethiopian and the Arapes: in Byzantine and Slavonic hagiography, the Devil usually displays features that link him with both personages. The brief survey of the references to Ethiopians in the classics has shown that, in the cosmopolitan world of Antiquity, there was no racial prejudice against blacks. .Ethiopian. was an ethnikon that referred to anyone who was either black or dark-skinned. It was in Late Antiquity, in the Greek-speaking monastic communities in Egypt, that the abstract image of the Ethiopian began to be associated with the Devil and his demons: later, this negative attitude toward blacks spread from Egypt, through Palestine and Syria, to Northwestern Asia Minor and the Balkans where it merged with the mythological personage of the Arapes. Further, the survey of the references to Ethiopians in the .high-brow. Byzantine and Slavonic literature has shown that some medieval authors followed the classical tradition and painted a positive portrait of the Ethiopian whereas other medieval authors used the word .Ethiopian. as a synonym for the Devil as well as for all the crude, black .savages from the South.. As could be seen from the surviving literary works, the mergence of the abstract Ethiopian with the mythological Arapes seems to have been completed toward the late 12th or the early 13th century.

  • Issue Year: 2002
  • Issue No: 3-4
  • Page Range: 75-92
  • Page Count: 18
  • Language: Bulgarian