Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Theophanies in Classical Literature

I am working on a smallish project where I am researching theophanies. I need some help locating some resources that deal with theophanies in the classical world. I know for instance, that the word itself derives from a festival (θεοφάνεια)that took place at Delphi in the spring to celebrate Apollo and his return from Hyperborea. I was looking for specific examples from Greco-Roman mythology.  For instance, would a good place to start be the Iliad?

Along with primary source materials, are there some good classical dictionaries or encyclopedias I should be looking into?

4 comments:

Charles Augustine Rivera said...

Hi, sometime visitor to your blog, though I've never posted. I'd suggest the Homeric Hymns before the Iliad. The gods are everywhere in the Iliad, so 'theophany' is really more of the norm, although there are points, such as when Athena grants Diomedes the ability to see the gods on the battlefield in Book V (and the parallel scene between Aeneas and Venus in Aeneid II) which might be of interest. Some of the Homeric Hymns (I'm thinking especially of the Hymn to Aphrodite and the Hymn to Dionysus) do have long accounts of appearances of the gods in them. There's probably lots of interesting material to be found in tragedy too; I'm thinking of the end of Sophocles' Philoctetes and of several points in Euripides' Bacchae. The myth of Semele is an important theophany myth but I don't know where to direct you for a good telling of it (it's probably in Ovid somewhere). Hope this helps!

Jeremy said...

Ovid, Metamorphoses 8.611-724 is a good example, though it is a myth story, of course. It also could be called a theoxeny - hospitality shown to the gods.

Jeremy said...

I forgot to add that the story of Philemon and Baucis is set in Phrygia, not far away from Lystra. Acts 14 is a nice parallel: Zeus & Hermes (Acts), Jupiter & Mercury (Ovid).

Tim said...

There's an account in Herodotus' Persian Wars of Pan appearing to the Athenian runner (I think it was actually Phidippides) who was returning from Sparta after seeking their help against the approaching Persians.