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Title: Paradigmi biografici e poetici nella tarda antichità
Authors: Agosti, Gianfranco
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Gianfranco Agosti, “Paradigmi biografici e poetici nella tarda antichità”, in: CentoPagine, III (2009), pp. 30-46
The Suda lexicon informs that Marinus composed the biography of his master, the
philosopher Proclus, in a double version, prosastic (the only one conserved) and in verses. Instead
of consider the poetic version as a mere example of rhetorical exercise, it should view it as a serious
attempt: one can reconstruct a tradition of hagiographic verse encomia in the neoplatonic school,
starting from the long hexametric oracle in Porphyry's Life of Plotinus (ch. 22), which had a
decisive role in such a tradition. Especially from the end of the fourth century CE Neoplatonists
composed encomiastic poems in honour of the leading figures of their school, treated as theioi
andres (divine men) in order to create an encomiastic-biographic poetry (enkômion and biography
tend to mingle in Late Antiquity), which could be alternative not only to the biblical paraphrases,
but also to the verse hagiographies composed by Christians (a genere which begins with the socalled
Codex of Visions, P. Bodmer 20-37, in the middle of the fourth century CE). Neoplatonic
poetry should actually be viewed against the wider context of the cultural debate on religious
classicizing poetry of the fourth and fifth centuries CE. The core of such a debate was the Homeric
poetry, considered a sacred text by Pagans as well as by Christian intellectuals. For Neoplatonists
Homeric poems were the Scriptures, to put together with the oracular poetry of Chaldaic Oracles
and Plato's dialogues, whereas Christians tried to show that epic language was perfectly suitable to
sing biografies of Christ and of saints, thanks to figural reading and allegorical interpretation of
Homeric expressions, syntagms and verses (as in the Paraphrase of St John's Gospel by Nonnus, or
in the Hoeric Centos by empress Eudocia).
Type: Article
ISSN: 19740395
Appears in Collections:CentoPagine 2009

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