Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Christine Shepardson - Apollo’s Charred Remains: Making Meaning in Fourth-Century Antioch

When the oracular temple of Apollo burned down in Daphne, the emperor Julian warned that the people of nearby Antioch should interpret the charred remains as a shameful reminder of their maltreatment of Julian and the gods.  Libanius likewise lamented the loss of the temple and encouraged Antiochenes to see in the transformed site a reminder of Apollo’s strength and the peaceful rest that the temple had offered.  Writing De S. Babyla at least fifteen years after the fire, John Chrysostom reignited this debate over the meaning that Apollo temple’s remains (and the empty shrine to the Christian martyr Babylas that was in the temple precinct) should convey to passers-by.  As a Christian he argued that the rubble witnessed indisputably to the power that the Christian martyr Babylas and his God held over Apollo and traditional religion. This paper will demonstrate the ways in which John Chrysostom’s rhetoric reshaped the visible lingering devastation of Apollo’s temple in a way that furthered his efforts to Christianize Antioch – landscape and citizens alike. 

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