Mutations of Hellenism in Late Antiquity: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Mutations of Hellenism in Late Antiquity

1st Edition

By Polymnia Athanassiadi


394 pages

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pub: 2015-08-28
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The 21 studies in this volume, which deal with issues of social and intellectual history, religion and historical methodology, explore the ways whereby over the course of a few hundred years -roughly between the second and the fifth centuries A.D.- an anthropocentric culture mutated into a theocentric one. Rather than underlining the differences between a revamped paganism and the emergent Christian traditions, the essays in the volume focus on the processes of osmosis, interaction and acculturation, which shaped the change in priorities among the newly created textual communities that were spreading across the entire breadth of the late antique oecumene. The main issues considered in this connection include the phenomena of textuality and holy scripture, canonicity and exclusion, truth and error, prophecy and tradition, authority and challenge, faith and salvation, holy places and holy men, in the context of the construction of new orthodox readings of the Greek philosophical heritage. Moreover the volume suggests that intolerant attitudes, which form a characteristic trait of monotheisms, were not an exclusive preserve of Christianity (as the Enlightenment tradition would insist), but were progressively espoused by pagan philosophers and divine men as part of the theory and practice of Hellenism’s theological koine. Efforts to establish the monopoly of a revealed truth against any rival claims were transversal to the textual communities which emerged in late antiquity and remodelled the intellectual and spiritual landscape of the Greater Mediterranean.


‘Athanassiadi remains a significant and engaging interlocutor in the conversations on Late Antiquity and its pagan holy men’ – The Classical Journal, 2016.05.05

Table of Contents

Methodological Concerns: Antiquite tardive: construction et deconstruction d'un modele historiographique. The oecumenism of Iamblichus: latent knowledge and its awakening. A Religious Koine: Hellenism: a theological koine. The gods are God: polytheistic cult and monotheistic theology in the world of late antiquity. Apamea and the Chaldaean Oracles: a holy city and a holy book. Canonizing Platonism: the fetters of Iamblichus. The creation of orthodoxy in Neoplatonism. A contribution to Mithraic theology: the Emperor Julian's Hymn to King Helios. Le traitement du mythe: de l'empereur Julien a Proclus. Prophecy and Revelation: Philosophers and oracles: shifts of authority in late paganism. The fate of oracles in late antiquity: Didyma and Delphi. Dreams, theurgy and freelance divination: the testimony of Iamblichus. The Chaldaean Oracles: theology and theurgy. Byzantine commentators on the Chaldaean Oracles: Psellos and Pletho. I"I*IIYIGBP ANHI!: Ascent to heroic or divine status in late antiquity: continuities and transformations. The divine man of late Hellenism: a sociable and popular figure. Julian the Theurgist: man or myth? Dissidence and Persecution: Persecution and response in late paganism: the evidence of Damascius. Who was Count Zosimus?' Christians and others: the conversion ethos in late antiquity. Envoi: From polis to Theoupolis: school syllabuses and teaching methods in late antiquity.

About the Author

Polymnia Athanassiadi is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Athens, Greece.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Ancient / General
RELIGION / Christianity / General