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SERAO—SERAPION

still maintained by the mission. There is a jute mill, and paper is manufactured.


SERAO, MATILDA (1856–), Italian novelist, was born at Patras in Greece. Her father was an Italian, a political emigrant, and her mother a Greek. She began by becoming a schoolmistress at Naples, and afterwards she described those years of laborious poverty in the preface to a book of short stories called Leggende Napolitane (1881). But attention was first attracted to her name by her Novelle, published in a paper of Rocco de Zerbi’s, and later by her first novel, Fantasia (1883), which definitely established her as a writer full of feeling and analytical subtlety. She spent the years between 1880 and 1886 in Rome, where she published her next five volumes of short stories and novels, all dealing with ordinary Italian, and especially Roman, life, and distinguished by great accuracy of observation and depth of insight: Cuore Inferno (1881), Fior di Passione (1883), La Conquista di Roma (1885), La Virtù di Checchina (1884), and Piccole Anime (1883). With her husband, Epoardo Scarfoglio, she founded Il Corriere di Roma, the first Italian attempt to model a daily journal on the lines of the Parisian press. The paper was short-lived, and when it was given up Matilda Serao established herself in Naples, where she edited Il Corriere de Napoli, and in 1891 founded Il Mattino, which became the most important and most widely read daily paper of southern Italy. But the stress of a journalistic career in no way limited her literary activity; between 1890 and 1902 she produced Paese di Cuccagna, Ventre di Napoli, Addie Amore, All' Erta Sentinella, Castigo, La Ballerina, S-nor Giovanna della Croce, Paese di Gesu, novels in which the character of the people is rendered with minute sensitive power and sympathetic breadth of spirit. Most of these have been translated into English.

Matilda Serao’s place as a contemporary Italian novelist is one apart: she is a naturalist, but her naturalism should be understood in a much wider sense than that which is generally given to it. She is a naturalist because her books reflect life with the utmost simplicity of means, sometimes with an utter neglect of means, and at the same time she is an idealist through her high sense of the beauty and nobility which humanity can attain, and to which her writings continually aspire. All her work is truly and profoundly Italian; it is the literature of a great mass of individuals, rather than of one peculiarly accentuated individual; the joy and pain of a whole class rather than the perplexities of a unique case or type pulsates through her pages. Matilda Serads defects are always defects of style; her want of sufficient choice of detail often clogs the movement of her narrative and mars the artistic effect of her always animated pages. Like Fogazzaro’s, her speech is too often the popular speech of her particular province, in description as well as in dialogue.


SERAPHIM, the imaginary supernatural guardians of the threshold of Yahweh’s sanctuary, only mentioned in Isa. vi. (Isaiah’s vision). Their form is not described, but they have not only six wings (verse 2), but hands (verse 6) and feet (verse 2). They are of colossal height, for they overtop Him who is seated on the high throne; and with a voice that shakes the thresholds they proclaim the Trisagion, like the four “living creatures” (cf. Cherubim) in Rev. iv. 6-8. Probably in the lost Hebrew text of Enoch xx. 7 “seraphim” stood where the Ethiopic and the Greek give “the serpents” or “the dragons”; Paradise, serpents and cherubim are here made subject to Gabriel. In late Tewish writings, more recognized than “Enoch,” they are classed among the celestial with the cherubim and the 'ophannim (“wheels,” cf. Ezek. i.). Now as to their origin and significance. They may originally have had a serpent form, for it is difficult not to regard “seraphim” as originally (as in Num. xxi. 8)= “serpents”; cf. also the flying serpents of Israelitish folklore in Isa. xiv. 29. If so, Isaiah has transformed and ennobled these supernatural guardians of sacred things and persons. The “Nehushtan” broken in pieces under Hezekiah (2 Kings xviii. 4) may have given an impulse to the prophet"s imagination. Was it not a greater thing to ennoble them than to destroy their artistic representation? There is no precise Babylonian or Egyptian equivalent, though attempts have been made to produce points of contact with Babylonian or Egyptian beliefs.

See further Enc. Bib. “Seraphim,” and cf. Duhm’s Jesaia, ed. 2 (1902), on Isa. vi.  (T. K. C.) 


SERAPION, or Sarapion (flor. c. 350), bishop of Thmuis in the Nile Delta and a prominent supporter of Athanasius in the struggle against Arianism (sometimes called, for his learning, Scholasticus), is best known in Connexion with a prayer-book or sacramentary intended for the use of bishops. This document, contained in a collection of Egyptian documents in an 11th-century MS. at the Laura on Mount Athos, was published by A. Dmitrijewskij in 1894, but attracted little attention until independently discovered and published by G. Wobbermin in 1899. It is a Celebrant’s book, containing thirty prayers belonging to the mass (19-30, 1-6), baptism (7-11, 15, 16), ordination (12-14), benediction of oil, bread and water (17), and burial (18), omitting the fixed structural formulae of the rites, the parts of the other ministers, and almost all rubrication, except what is implied in the titles of the prayers. The name of Serapion is prefixed to the anaphora of the mass (1) and to the group 15-18: but whether this indicates authorship is doubtful; for whereas the whole collection is bound together by certain marks of vocabulary, style and thought, 15-18 have characteristics of their own not shared by the anaphora, while no part of the collection shows special affinities with the current works of Serapion.[1] But his name is at least a symbol of probable date and provenance: the theology, which is orthodox so far as it goes, but “conservative,” and perhaps glancing at Arianism, shows no sign that the Macedonian question has arisen; the doxologies, of a type abandoned by the orthodox, and by c. 370 treated by Didymus of Alexandria as heretical; the apparent presupposition that the population is mainly pagan (1, 20), the exclusive appropriation of the mass to Sunday (19; cp. Ath. ap. c. Ar. 11), whereas the liturgical observance of Saturday prevailed in Egypt by c. 380; the terms in which monasticism is referred to together point to c. 350: the occurrence of official interpreters (25) points to a bilingual Church, i.e. Syria or Egypt; and certain theological phrases (ἀγέννητος, ἐπιδημία, μόνη καθολικὴ ἐκκλησία) characteristic of the old Egyptian creed, and the liturgical characteristics, indicate Egypt; while the petition for rains (23), without reference to the Nile-rising, points to the Delta as distinguished from Upper Egypt. The book is important, therefore, as the earliest liturgical collection on so large a scale, and as belonging to Egypt, where evidence for 4th-century ritual is scanty as compared with Syria.

The rites form a link between those of the Egyptian Church Order (a 3rd- or early 4th-century development of the Hippolytean Canons, which are perhaps Egyptian of c. 260) and later Egyptian rites-marking the stage of development reached in Egypt by c. 350, while exhibiting characteristics of their own. I. The Mass has the Egyptian notes—a prayer before the lections, elsewhere unknown in the East; an exceptionally weighty body of intercessions after the catechumens’ dismissal, followed by a penitential act, probably identical with the έξομολόγησις of Can. Hippol. 2, which disappeared in later rites; a setting of the Sanctus found in several Egyptian anaphora’s; the close connexion of the commemorations of the offerers and of the dead; and the form of the conclusion of the anaphora. The structure of the communion—with a prayer before and prayers of thanksgiving and blessing after—shows that Egypt had already developed the common type, otherwise first evidenced in Syria, c. 375 (Ap. Const. viii. 13). Among the special characteristics of Serapion are the simplicity of the Sanctus, and of the Institution, which lacks the dramatic additions already found in Ap. Const.; the interpolation of a passage containing a quotation from Didachē 9 between the institutions of the bread and of the chalice; the form of the ἀνάμνησις; and the invocation of the Word, not of the Holy Ghost, to effect consecration. That the Lord’s Prayer before communion is not referred to may be only because it is a fixed formula belonging to the structure of the rite. II. The Order of Baptism has a form for the consecration of the water, and a preliminary prayer for the candidates, perhaps alluding to their exorcism; a prayer

  1. These are: a vigorous and acute refutation of the Manichaeans, and some letters. A book on the titles of the Psalms has not survived.