The first lecture in our online seminar series will be given by Dr Benedek Kruchio (Universität Regensburg) on ‘Heliodorus’s Aethiopica and early Christian hermeneutics: a “historically informed” approach’.
The intellectual landscape of late antiquity was characterised by overlapping yet competing reading communities – philosophers, pepaideumenoi, and Christians – all of whom laid claim to the classical literary heritage in order to substantiate their own teachings. Focusing on Heliodorus’s Aethiopica (approx. 4th cent. C.E.), this paper asks the neglected question of how this ‘predatory’ environment informs our understanding of the contemporary literary production and its early reception. Is antiquity’s most virtuosic novel a ‘pagan’ or Christian work? Is it best understood as contributing to the same religious project as, for example, apocryphal acts and saints’ lives – or does Heliodorus fashion his novel in opposition to Christian narrative? I argue that such questions are based on an overly static understanding of texts, audiences, and their relationship: we need new, dynamic concepts to grasp the cultural framework and ideological force of late antique literature.
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