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39 - A Land without Priests? Religious Authority in Longus, Daphnis and Chloe (2015)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 October 2023

Ewen Bowie
Affiliation:
University of Oxford
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Summary

This chapter discusses the absence from Longus of institutionalised community religion and of one of its central elements, priests, who (like priestesses) are found in the other four novels. A reason for this might be that some rural cults ran themselves and thus differed from polis-based religion. The only character within the story eligible for description as a holy man is Philetas: he has a very close relationship with Eros, who watches over him. The story’s narrator, however, relates in the preface how a shadowy exegetes explained the paintings in the Nymph’s grove: yet this exegetes, on whose say-so the novel’s four books are offered, lacks authority. Longus reverses the novelistic trope of supporting his story by a Beglaubigungsapparat: instead his exegetes’ interpretations of the painting’s scenes leave the reader quite uncertain about the reality of their world.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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