Rethinking religion in Herodian

Clare Rowan

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Abstract

Herodian has remained a relatively unexamined source amongst classical scholars. Previous and current analysis surrounding the author has largely been focused on the thorny topic of Herodian's sources or Quellenforschung, notably in the thesis of Kolb, who argues that Cassius Dio was the main source for Herodian's account. Kolb's hypothesis has rightly come under recent attack, and this paper shall not reiterate the lengthy rebuttals of others. But for many scholars Herodian remains a passive author, hopelessly led by his sources. This article is an attempt to rethink these conceptions, with an analysis of a part of Herodian's work that has not been subject to detailed modern examination: his treatment of Roman religion. Specifically this paper will deal with what Whittaker has described as Herodian's religious digressions, those instances in which Herodian leaves his historical narrative to describe religious festivals or cults. These can be found at 1.9.2 (Ludi Capitolini), 1.10.5 (the celebration of the Hilaria), 1.14.4 (account of the Palladium), 1.16.1 (the Saturnalia), 4.2.1 (apotheosis of the emperor Septimius Severus) and 5.3.3 (a description of the Emesene god Elagabal). Of these, I provide two of the briefer digressions in full; the description of the festival of the Ludi Capitolini and Herodian's description of the Hilaria.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-176
Number of pages14
JournalAncient history : resources for teachers
Volume35
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Bibliographical note

Publisher version archived with the permission of the Editor, Ancient History : resources for Teachers, Macquarie Ancient History Association, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia. This copy is available for individual, non-commercial use. Permission to reprint/republish this version for other uses must be obtained from the publisher.

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