Twilight of the Gods: Greek Cult Places and the Transition to Late Antiquity

Conference Paper

Overarching Themes II
Friday 2021-10-15
17:00 | 19:00
Place: Swedish Institute at Athens & Zoom

Athene with the Cross. Forms of Continuance in Pagan Worship in Late Antique Greece

Nadin Burkhardt, 2021-10-15, Time: 17:40 - 18:20


In the period from the early 4th to the 6th century AD we observe a drastic transformation in the religious identity of the Mediterranean world: also in Greece large sanctuaries were abandoned and declined, and by the end of the theatre and circus program the end of the ancient culture was heralded. With the advent of Christian emperors and the spread of Christianity, the situation has become difficult for the multifaceted compilation of traditional cults referred to as “paganism”. But why should paganism die out in a society dominated by Christian faith when Christianity had flourished under pagan ones, notwithstanding different forms of persecution?

A statuette of Aphrodite, a story in which Achill figures as saviour, Atene depicted on objects of daily use, Artemis in the dining room, a long-living cult festival… all these are signs of continued pagan belief. In some cities like Athens, statues of the old deities were present in public places and thus still formed part of the visual appearance of a late antique town. A necessary premise is the assumption that the material culture of Late Antiquity obviously contains the potential to reect religious belief and practice. The focus of this lecture is the presence and the meaning and significance of depictions of pagan myths and gods in Late Antique Greece.

About the Author(s)

Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt

Burkhardt Nadin
Burkhardt Nadin

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