Water in Andreas

Andreas gives the ocean many names: the whale-road, the formidable waterways, the menace of the water,  the salt sea-streams, the cold waters. The ocean roars, jostles, surges, and encroaches. The epithets of the ocean mirror the epithets of God. In fact, one of God’s names is “the Sentinel of the Sea.” Andreas does not treat the ocean as a mere means of transport or geographical feature. The ocean becomes a character, a force of conflict, and an extension of the will of God. Early descriptions juxtapose the ocean with the sun, illustrating how “the sun, brightest of beacons, came in its morning radiance, a holy thing, hastening out of the darkness across the deep; heaven’s candle shone over the waters of the ocean.” Andrew fears the treacherous ocean, yet the narrator directly links the water to light and holiness. When Andrew inquires about the ship God provides, he asks “from where has the flowing ocean brought you over the heaving of the waves?” The ocean drives action and direction and determines the fate of characters. The ocean exhibits agency, compared to human passiveness following the patterns of the waves. This passive-active dynamic mimics previous saint stories regarding the will of God. Often, the saints take passive roles, allowing God to drive them forward. When Jesus takes the form of a sailor, the ocean becomes an extension of the will of God. Nonetheless, the ocean is not gentle, as Andrew and his crew experience: “Then the ocean grew disturbed and agitated; the garfish dashed and darted through the sea and the grey gull wheeled, greedy for carrion. The sun, candle of the firmament, darkened, the winds increased, the waves crashed together, the currents swirled, the ropes and the sodden sails creaked. The menace of the water mounted with the strength of armies; the thanes grew fearful.” The narrative maintains a direct connection between the ocean and the sun and lightness, but the water transforms from a force of peace into one of terror. The ocean illustrates the duality of God. God ferries Andrew and his men across the sea to rescue Matthew, but forces Matthew and Andrew to suffer torture. Terror and awe walk hand in hand. Once Andrew has proven his faith, the storm stills. The ocean fades into the background of the story, until called upon by Andrew/God to flood Mermedonia. In addition to rage, the sea obtains hunger: “The waters were spreading, the torrent flowed on, the flood was voracious, until the rising sea crept above people’s chests and up to their shoulders.” The sea performs God’s judgement and devours the city. As a dreadful inversion of baptism imagery, the ocean surrounds people up to their shoulders and slowly drowns them. Nathalie

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