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Eudocia Athenais: The Gospel “According To Homer”

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Chapter Summary

The Homeric centos are attributed to the Empress Eudocia Athenais. In her cento she borrows lines from the Iliad and Odyssey, and reorders them to tell the Biblical story of the Paradise and Fall, and the Life of Jesus. The poem is, therefore, in its narrative structure a Gospel harmony, bringing the four Gospels into one story. Eudocia's poem begins in the Old Testament. Christian baptism is often seen as an anticipated "homecoming," signaled by milk and honey, as well as in the kiss and the first eucharist. A summary of Jesus' teaching is introduced in the words of Odysseus. The biblical scenes of the crucifixion are recalled in Jesus being surrounded by enemies and the mob. The lines about Christ visiting the kingdom of the dead prior to his being resurrection are worth considering as an example of a real invention based on Homer alone.

Keywords: Christian baptism; crucifixion; Eudocia Athenais; Gospel; homecoming; Homer; Homeric centos; Jesus; resurrection

10.1163/ej.9789004187184.i-280.39
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