The Myth of Paganism: Nonnus, Dionysus and the World of Late Antiquity (Classical Literature and Society)

November 28, 2020
The Myth of Paganism: Nonnus, Dionysus and the World of Late Antiquity (Classical Literature and Society)

Traditional and still prevalent accounts of late antiqueliterature draw a clear distinction between 'pagan' and 'Christian'forms of poetry: whereas Christian poetry is taken seriously interms its contribution to culture and society at large, so-calledpagan or secular poetry is largely ignored, as though it has nomeaningful part to play within the late antique world. The Mythof Paganism sets out to deconstruct this view of twocontrasting poetic traditions and proposes in its place a newintegrated model for the understanding of late antique poetry. Asthe book argues, the poet of Christ and the poet of the Muses weredrawn together into an active, often provocative, dialogue aboutthe relationship between Christianity and the Classical traditionand, ultimately, about the meaning of late antiquity itself. Ananalysis of the poetry of Nonnus of Panopolis, author of both a'pagan' epic about Dionysus and a Christian translation of StJohn's Gospel, helps to illustrate this complex dialectic betweenpagan and Christian voices.