Thursday, 30 June 2011

Juan Antonio Jiménez Sánchez - The Monk Hypatius and the Olympic Games of Chalcedon

A passage of the Life of Hypatius, written by Callinicus of Rufinianae about 450, provides interesting information concerning the pagan cults and spectacles in the Bithynian countryside in the first half of the 5th century. According to Callinicus, Leontius, praefectus Vrbis of Constantinople in 434-435, decided to establish again the Olympic Games at the theatre of Chalcedon. This local festival might be composed by athletic, literary, and musical competitions. The pagan elements in these festivals did not exist in that time, because paganism had been banned by Theodose the Great in the previous century. However, the response of Hypatius, the founder and first abbot of the monastery of Rufinianae (near Chalcedon), was forceful. He affirmed that these games promoted idolatry and, having assembled twenty monks, marched on Chalcedon with the intention of entering into the theatre and killing the praefectus if it was necessary. Frightened, Leontius revoked his decision of offering games and Hypatius appeared as a champion of the faith. This conflict between Leontius and Hypatius represent a good example of the struggle between a victorious Christianity and a dying paganism in the Later Roman Empire.

No comments:

Post a Comment