Hellenic Verse and Christian Humanism: From Nonnus to Musurus
Hellenic and Christian Poetry in Late Antiquity
The last decades have witnessed a radical reappraisal of the role of Hellenism in the culture of late antiquity, especially in regard to art, literature and poetry: I am referring to the path-breaking work by scholars such as Glen Bowersock, Alan Cameron and Gianfranco Agosti.1 The traditional view of a stern ideological opposition between paganism and Christianism has shifted towards a framework of fluidity and interconnection, in which fragments of the old, Hellenic heritage could be freely re-used either in order to ensure a form of continuity with ethnic cults and practices (the cases of Egypt and Syria are particularly remarkable in this respect) or by way of contrasting imitation and allusive game. The Greek language and the pagan tradition represented a flexible instrument of cultural expression, easily adopted by different Mediterranean peoples despite differences of religious belief.
Students of early Byzantine art have grown...