Heroic memory and polis: Achilles and Athens in Zosimus’ Historia Nova

Risultato della ricerca: Otherpeer review


At the time when most people believe in the intercession of the holy man to save the city from barbarians or natural disasters, heroic memory still seems to be venerated by the last pagans. Two passages from Zosimus’ Historia Nova (IV 18 and V 6) tell us how Achilles saved Athens.The first time, the city was spared the earthquake that devastated much of Greece during the empire of Valens; the second time, the city was preserved from Alaric’ ravages in 396-397, thanks to the supernatural precence of Athena Promachos too. These events, told only by Zosimus, are of great importance in the historian’ view, according to whom the neglect of Roman ancestral religion brought about the decline of the empire. Achilles, a very popular hero in the pagan culture of Late Antiquity, is chosen as the most famous warrior of Greek epic, even if he has no specific connections with the Athenian polis. Firstly, the question of the relationship between Zosimus and Eunapius concerning these anecdotes should be debated. Secondly, the preservation of Athens through observance of ancient cults must be analyzed in connection with an epochal event such as the sack of Rome in 410 and with the myth of Roma aeterna in the view of pagan circles.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Numero di pagine17
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2013


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