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Angels Of A Pagan God

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines Roman-era grave inscriptions that name or invoke angeloi. The Theran epitaphs are more problematic, and their interpretation concerns a great deal of this chapter. By comparing the Theran epitaphs with other funerary invocations of angeloi and with later Roman discourse on the nature of tutelary spirits, the chapter suggests that the angeloi of the Theran epitaphs should be understood as the deceased themselves, as well as protectors of the grave. The funerary inscriptions examined in this chapter provide an indication of beliefs about angeloi outside of literary sources. They reveal that in late antiquity the belief in guardian angeloi existed outside of the learned, literary elite, whose beliefs concerning tutelary spirits are recorded on the page. Literary evidence and funerary inscriptions from Melos, Eumenia, Thera, and Rome suggest several reasons why the word angelos would be inscribed on grave stelai and used in funerary epigrams.

Keywords:angels; funerary epigrams; Roman-era grave inscriptions; Theran epitaphs; tutelary spirits



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