Philostratus's Heroikos: Religion and Cultural Identity in the Third Century C.E.

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This multidimensional collection of essays explores the interrelation of religion, cultural identity, politics, literature, myth, and memory during the Roman Empire by focusing on the cultural dynamics embedded in and surrounding Philostratus’s Heroikos, an early third-century C.E. dialogue about Homer and the heroes of the Trojan War. The essays focus on ritual and literary dimensions of hero cult; cultural and community identity reflected in the Heroikos and in early Christianity; and the cultural, literary, and political turn toward heroes in the negotiation of difference, particularly with those outside the Roman Empire. Contributors to this volume include classicists, archaeologists, ancient historians, and scholars of early Christianity: Ellen Bradshaw Aitken, Susan E. Alcock, Hans Dieter Betz, Alain Blomart, Walter Burkert, Casey Dué, Simone Follet, Sidney H. Griffith, Jackson P. Hershbell, Christopher Jones, Jennifer K. Berenson Maclean, Francesca Mestre, Gregory Nagy, Corinne Ondine Pache, Jeffrey Rusten, M. Rahim Shayegan, James C. Skedros, and Tim Whitmarsh.

Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Ellen Bradshaw Aitken, Th.D. in New Testament (1997), Harvard University, is Associate Professor of Early Christian History and Literature at McGill University in Montreal. Jennifer K. Berenson Maclean, Ph.D. in New Testament (1995), Harvard University, is Associate Professor of Religion at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia.

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Table of Contents

Concerning transliteration
Singing heroes - the poetics of hero cult in the Heroikos 3
Hero worship and Christian beliefs : observations from the history of religion on Philostratus's Heroikos 25
Illuminating the classics with the heroes of Philostratus 49
Apollonius of Tyana, hero and holy man 75
Transferring the cults of heroes in ancient Greece : a political and religious act 85
Jason, Hypsipyle, and new fire at Lemnos : a study in myth and ritual 99
Refuting Homer in the Heroikos of Philostratus 127
Living in the past : allusive narratives and elusive authorities in the world of the Heroikos 143
Material witness : an archaeological context for the Heroikos 159
Philostratus's Heroikos and early Christianity : heroes, saints, and martyrs 169
The Heroikos and popular Christianity in the third century C.E. 181
Jesus as cult hero in the fourth gospel 195
Philostratus's Heroikos and the regions of the Northern Aegean 221
The harvest of wisdom : landscape, description, and identity in the Heroikos 237
The [ainoi] of the Heroikos and the unfolding transformation of the Phoenician merchant 251
Why a phoenician? : a proposal for the historical occasion for the Heroikos 267
Philostratus's Heroikos and the ideation of late Severan policy toward Arsacid and Sasanian Iran 285
Beyond the Euphrates in Severan times : Mani, Bar Daysan, and the struggle for allegiance on the Syrian frontier 317
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