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Heliodorus’ Aethiopica and the Homeric Hymns to Demeter

image of Mnemosyne

Set at a narratologically crucial moment of Heliodorus’ novel, the hymn to Thetis precedes and foreshadows the appearance of the protagonists, Theagenes and Charicleia, within the religious festival at Delphi. While the parallel between Neoptolemus and Theagenes is rather clear and explicit, the hymn honours Thetis in a distinctive way which does not correspond symmetrically to the depiction of Charicleia. The paper will argue that this hymn alludes to the Homeric Hymn to Demeter and contrasts the various figures of Thetis, Demeter and Persephone to Heliodorus’ heroine. This interpretation explains the meaning of the hymn to Thetis both in its immediate context and within the larger ideology of the novel.

Affiliations: 1: Babeș-Bolyai University, Department of History and Philosophy


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