Online Encyclopedia

GILES (GIL, GILLES), ST

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V12, Page 18 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!
GILES (GIL, GILLES), ST, the name given to an abbot whose festival is celebrated on the 1st of September. According to the legend, he was an Athenian (Aiyi&or, Aegidius) of royal descent. After the death of his parents he distributed his possessions among the poor, took ship, and landed at Marseilles. Thence he went to Arles, where he remained for two years with St Caesarius. He then retired into a neighbouring desert, where he lived upon herbs and upon the milk of a hind which came to him at stated hours. He was discovered there one day by Flavius, the king of the Goths, who built a monastery on the place, of which he was the first abbot. Scholars are very much divided as to the date of his life, some holding that he lived in the 6th century, others in the 7th or 8th. It may be regarded as certain that St Giles was buried in the hermitage which he had founded in a spot which was afterwards the town of St-Gilles (diocese of Nimes, department of Gard). His reputation for sanctity attracted many pilgrims. Important gifts were made to the church which contained his body, and a monastery grew up hard by. It is probable that the Visigothic princes who were in possession of the country protected and enriched this monastery, and that it was destroyed by the Saracens at the time of their invasion in 721. But there are no authentic data before the 9th century concerning his history. In 8o8 Charlemagne took the abbey of St-Gilles under his protection, and it is mentioned among the monasteries from which only prayers for the prince and the state were due. In the 12th century the pilgrimages to St-Gilles are cited as among the most celebrated of the time. The cult of the saint, who came to be regarded as the special patron of lepers, beggars and cripples, spread very extensively over Europe, especially in England, Scotland, France, Belgium and Germany. The church of St Giles, Cripplegate, London, was built about 1090, while the hospital for lepers at St Giles-in-the-Fields (near New Oxford Street) was founded by Queen Matilda in 1117. In England alone there are about r 5o churches dedicated to this saint. In Edinburgh the church of St Giles could boast the possession of an arm-bone of its patron. Representations of St Giles are very frequently met with in early French and German art, but are much less common in Italy and Spain. See Acta Sanctorum (September), i. 284-299; Devic and Vaissete, Histoire generale de Languedoc, pp. 514-522 (Toulouse, 1876) ; E. Rembry, Saint Gilles, sa vie, ses reliques, son tulle en Belgique et dans le nord de la France (Bruges, 1881); F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications, or England's Patron Saints, ii. 46-51, iii. 15, .363-365 (1899) ; A. Jameson, Sacred and Legendary Art, 768-770 (1896) ; A. Bell, Lives and Legends of the English Bishops and Kings, Medieval Monks, and other later Saints, pp. 61, 70, 74-78, 84, 197 (1904). (H. DE.)6 Roman miles north of Antipatris (Ras el `Ain). This is apparently the modern Kalkilia, but about 4 M. north of Antipatris is a large village called Jiljulieh, which is more probably the biblical town. 3. The third Gilgal (2 Kings iv. 38) was in the mountains (compare r Sam. vii. 16, 2 Kings ii. 1-3) near Bethel. Jerome mentions this place also (Onomasticon, s.v. " Galgala "). It appears to be the present village of Jiljilia, about 7 English miles north of Beitin (Bethel). It may have absorbed the old shrine of Shiloh and been the sanctuary famous in the days of Amos and Hosea. 4. Dent. xi. 3o seems to imply a Gilgal near Gerizim, and there is still a place called Juleijil on the plain of Makhna, 21 m. S. E. of Shechem. This may have been Amos's Gilgal and was almost certainly that of 1 Macc. ix. 2. 5. The Gilgal described in Josh. xv. 7 is the same as the Beth-Gilgal of Neh. xii. 29; its site is not known. (R. A. S. M.) GILGAMESH, EPIC OF, the title given to one of the most important literary products of Babylonia, from the name of the chief personage in the series of tales of which it is composed. Though the Gilgamesh Epic is known to us chiefly from the fragments found in the royal collection of tablets made by Assur-bani-pal, the king of Assyria (668-626 B.c.) for his palace at Nineveh, internal evidence points to the high antiquity of at least some portions of it, and the discovery of a fragment of the epic in the older form of the Babylonian script, which can be dated as 2000 B.C., confirms this view. Equally certain is a second observation of a general character that the epic originating as the greater portion of the literature in Assur-bani-pal's collection in Babylonia is a composite product, that is to say, it consists of a number of independent stories or myths originating at different times, and united to form a continuous narrative with Gilgamesh as the central figure. This view naturally raises the question whether the independent stories were all told of Gilgamesh or, as almost always happens in the case of ancient tales, were transferred to Gilgamesh as a favourite popular hero. Internal evidence again comes to our aid to lend its weight to the latter theory. While the existence of such a personage as Gilgamesh may be admitted, he belongs to an age that could only have preserved a dim recollection of his achievements and adventures through oral traditions. The name' is not Babylonian, and what evidence as to his origin there is points to his having come from Elam, to the east of Babylonia. He may have belonged to the people known as the Kassites who at the beginning of the 18th century B.C. entered Babylonia from Elam, and obtained control of the Euphrates valley. Why and how he came to be a popular hero in Babylonia cannot with our present material be deter-mined, but the epic indicates that he came as a conqueror and established himself at Erech. In so far we have embodied in the first part of the epic dim recollections of actual events, but we soon leave the solid ground of fact and find ourselves soaring to the heights of genuine myth. Gilgamesh becomes a god, and in certain portions of the epic clearly plays the part of the sun-god of the spring-time, taking the place apparently of Tammuz or Adonis, the youthful sun-god, though the story shows traits that differentiate it from the ordinary Tammuz myths. A separate stratum in the Gilgamesh epic is formed by the story of Eabani—introduced as the friend of Gilgamesh, who joins him in his adventures. There can be no doubt that Eabani, who symbolizes primeval man, was a figure originally entirely independent of Gilgamesh, but his story was incorporated into the epic by that natural process to be observed in the. national epics of other peoples, which tends to connect the favourite hero with all kinds of tales that for one reason or the other become em-bedded in the popular mind. Another stratum is represented by the story of a favourite of the gods known as Ut-Napishtim, who is saved from a destructive storm and flood that destroys ' The name of the hero, written always ideographically, was for a long time provisionally read Izdubar; but a tablet discovered by T. G. Pinches gave the equivalent Gilgamesh (see Jastrow, Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, p. 468).
End of Article: GILES (GIL, GILLES), ST
[back]
GILEAD (i.e. " hard " or " rugged," a name sometime...
[next]
GEORGE GILFILLAN (1813-1878)

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.