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Volume 9/10, 2011/2012

L’âme et ses Discours de l’Antiquité au Moyen Âge

Alain Le Boulluec
Pages 125-147

La fonction des images et des comparaisons dans le Dialogue sur l’âme et la résurrection de Grégoire de Nysse

The rhetorical and demonstrative function of images and comparisons in Gregory of Nyssa’s De anima et resurrectione is well known. They aim at warranting the faith in resurrection and making it desirable. The prospect of this study is to show that they belong to the progress of the debate such as Gregory has composed it. Their quality changes while the author moves from the philosophical likelihood to the truth of the Scriptures. He opposes one secular image to a biblical one : at the beginning of the dialogue he refuses the comparison which reduces man to a bubble ; in the last part he chooses the solid composition (pukasmos) of the skènopègia (Ps. 117, 27). Other pictures are partly accepted, specially those which are borrowed from the sphere of tekhnè, whereas Macrina dismisses the Platonic myth of the soul’s chariot. Nevertheless, the end of the dialogue becomes pregnant with images derived from the Bible, when Macrina and his brother are discussing resurrection itself. Then by the means of the comparisons which they select, the biblical revelation and the facts of the phusis finally unite. Nature in some way supplants tekhnè, which has been honoured in the first half of the dialogue.