Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Roman Empire: a history

Our special interest is the appearance of divine men in Classical Antiquity, a long period of cultural history for the Greco-Roman world ending with the dissolution of classical culture at the close of Late Antiquity (300–600 CE) and blending into the Early Middle Ages (600–1000 CE) – in Edgar Allan Poe’s words, “the glory that was Greece, the grandeur that was Rome!”

We note that divine men begin to appear – in human form – during the early Roman Empire, based usually on earlier cultic heroes. Two examples:

  • Alexander III of Macedon, son of Philip II, reappears as Alexander the god, Alexander Helios.
  • Pythagoras of Samos reappears gleaming with a supernatural brightness, a golden thigh and his father is now Apollo. Right: Pythagoras medallion engraved about 400 CE.
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