n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - The cult of Neoptolemos at Delphi in Heliodoros'

Volume 55, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1141
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In the Heliodoros provides precise and copious details about the opening ceremonies and sacrifices at the Pythian Games at Delphi at which his hero, Theagenes, and heroine, Charikleia, first meet. The date of composition of this narrative is some time in the 4th century CE; the dramatic date is almost a millennium earlier (during the Persian occupation of Egypt), but the description itself is Homeric. The events are described by a narratological focaliser, the exiled Egyptian priest Kalasiris, who informs his narratee, the young Athenian Knemon, of the religious rites of purification in honour of Neoptolemos that preceded the games. This paper examines the ideological reasons for this elaborate fictional reconstruction of the cult of Neoptolemos at Delphi by a fourth-century CE Syrian author from Emesa and the relevance of this account to the attempt of Heliodoros' contemporary, the Roman emperor Julian, to revive paganism within the Roman Empire.

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