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Dionysus as Jesus: The Incongruity of a Love Feast in Achilles Tatius's Leucippe and Clitophon 2.2*

  • Courtney J. P. Friesen (a1)
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A relationship between Achilles Tatius and Christianity has been imagined from at least as early as the tenth century when the Suda claimed that he had converted to Christianity and been ordained as a bishop. Modern scholarship has found this highly improbable; nevertheless, attempts to explore connections between his late second-century c.e. novel, Leucippe and Clitophon, and early Christianity continue. In recent decades, within a context of renewed interest in the ancient novel, scholars of early Christianity have found a wealth of material in the novels to illuminate the generic development and meaning of Christian narratives in the New Testament and beyond. Less attention, however, has been given to the ways in which the novels respond to and incorporate themes from Christianity. Achilles Tatius's etiological myth of wine and its associated harvest festival in Leuc. Clit. 2.2 represent a particularly striking point of contact between Christianity and the Greek novel. In the first section below, I systematically review the narrative and ritual parallels between Leuc. Clit. 2.2 and the Christian Eucharist and conclude that they are too striking to be accidental or to have gone unnoticed by an ancient reader with knowledge of Christianity. Although these similarities have been pointed out, their meaning and consequences have received comparatively little attention from scholars either of the novel or of early Christianity. Thus, in the subsequent sections of this study I contextualize these parallels within second-century Christian and non-Christian literary and religious culture. My contention is that an exploration of the relationship between Leuc. Clit. 2.2 and the Christian Eucharist will provide valuable insight both into the larger project of Achilles Tatius and into the relationship between early Christianity and its contemporary context, particularly the Second Sophistic.

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I wish to express my gratitude to Philip Sellew and Nita Krevans for their insightful comments on various drafts of this article and also to the two anonymous reviewers at HTR. In addition, versions of this paper were delivered at the annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies in Waterloo, Ontario, May 2012, in fulfillment of a requirement for the Jeremias Prize, and at a Colloquium of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies, University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis, Minn., November 2011. I am grateful to both audiences for their valuable contributions.

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1 See Dӧrrie Heinrich, “Die griechischen Romane und Christuntum,” Phil 93 (1938) 273–76, esp. 275–76.

2 Evidence for the late 2nd-cent. date depends largely on the Robinson-Cologne Papyrus, which preserves parts of book 3 of the novel. For a discussion of this papyrus, see Laplace Marcelle, “A propos du P. Robinson-Coloniensis d’Achille Tatius, Leucippé et Clitophon,” ZPE 98 (1993) 4356. Little is known about Achilles Tatius's life. He is traditionally thought to be Alexandrian. For a collection of testimonia, see Vilborg Ebbe, Achilles Tatius: Leucippe and Clitophon (2 vols.; Studia Graeca et Latina Gothoburgensia 1 and 15; Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1955–1962) 1:163–69.

3 A classic study of this type is Pervo Richard I., Profit with Delight: The Literary Genre of the Acts of the Apostles (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987). See also Holzberg Niklas, The Ancient Novel: An Introduction (trans. Jackson-Holzberg Christine; New York: Routledge, 1995) 2226. Specific comparisons between Achilles Tatius and the New Testament are less frequent; see, however, Hedrick Charles W., “Conceiving the Narrative: Colors in Achilles Tatius and the Gospel of Mark,” in Ancient Fiction and Early Christian Narrative (ed. Hock Ronald F., Chance J. Bradley, and Perkins Judith; SBLSymS 6; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1998) 177–97.

4 There are some noteworthy exceptions. Glen W. Bowersock suggests that the Gospel stories themselves provided a central impetus for the birth of the new genre of the novel (Fiction as History: Nero to Julian [Sather Classical Lectures 58; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994] 119–43). See, however, the criticisms of Thomas Christine M., “Stories without Texts and without Authors: The Problem of Fluidity in the Ancient Novelistic Texts and Early Christian Literature,” in Ancient Fiction and Early Christian Narrative (ed. Hock Ronald F., Chance J. Bradley, and Perkins Judith; SBLSymS 6; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1998) 273–91, esp. 277. Ilaria Ramelli finds parodies of the Gospel of Mark in Petronius's Latin novel, the Satyricon (“The Ancient Novels and the New Testament: Possible Contacts,” Ancient Narrative 5 [2007] 41–68). See also Edsall Margaret, “Religious Narratives and Religious Themes in the Novels of Achilles Tatius and Heliodorus,” Ancient Narrative 1 (2000–2001) 114–33, esp. 128, 130–31.

5 But see Smith Morton, “On the Wine God in Palestine (Gen. 18, Jn. 2, and Achilles Tatius),” in Salo Wittmayer Baron Jubilee Volume (ed. Lieberman Saul; New York: Columbia University Press, 1974) 815–29; Bowersock, Fiction as History, 124–29.

6 In Collected Ancient Greek Novels (ed. Bryan P. Reardon; 1989; repr., Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008) 192 n. 25.

7 Bowersock, Fiction as History, 126.

8 A 4th-cent. papyrus (P.Oxy. 1250) has the wine myth (2.2.1–2.3.1) between sections 2.8 and 2.9. For a discussion of the textual problems, see Vilborg, Achilles Tatius, 1:xv, xxxix–xlii; 2:38; Laplace Marcelle, “Achilleus Tatios, Leucippé et Clitophon: P.Oxyrhynchos 1250,” ZPE 53 (1983) 5359. Winkler's translation follows the order of P.Oxy. 1250; see Collected Ancient Greek Novels (ed. Reardon), 189–93.

9 Fergus Millar notes that in the Hellenistic period Phoenician cities had adopted the Greek myth of Cadmus for themselves (“The Phoenician Cities: A Case-Study of Hellenisation,” Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 29 [1983] 55–71).

10 The Greek text of Leucippe and Clitophon follows vol. 1 of Vilborg, Achilles Tatius. Translations of all texts are mine throughout unless otherwise noted.

11 The New Testament texts for the institution narratives are Matt 26:26–29; Mark 14:22–24; Luke 22:15–20; 1 Cor 11:23–25. In the mid-2nd cent., Justin Martyr quotes from Jesus's eucharistic words (1 Apol. 66). For a discussion of the literary traditions, see below.

12 Cf. Matt 26:26: λαβὼν ὁ Ἰησοinline-graphicς ἄϱτον καinline-graphic εὐλογήσας ἔκλασεν καinline-graphic δούς; Luke 22:19: λαβὼν ἄϱτον εὐχαϱιστήσας ἔκλασεν καinline-graphic ἔδωκεν; and 1 Cor 11:23–24: ἔλαβεν ἄϱτον καinline-graphic εὐχαϱιστήσας ἔκλασεν.

13 Luke 22:19 and 1 Cor 11:24 have the additional phrase τὸ ὑπὲϱ ὑμinline-graphicν [διδόμενον]· τοinline-graphicτο ποιεinline-graphicτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν.

14 Luke 22:20 and 1 Cor 11:25 have τοinline-graphicτο τὸ ποτήϱιον ἡ καινὴ διαθήκη ἐν τinline-graphic αἵματί μου in place of τοinline-graphicτό ἐστιν τὸ αinline-graphicμά μου τinline-graphicς διαθήκης.

15 Luke and 1 Cor, however, fall short of the explicit identification made in Matt and Mark.

16 The term φιλοτησία was used to signify various relationships. For example, as Gloria Ferrari notes, it could refer to the relationship between a father and son-in-law at a marriage ceremony or to a sympotic ritual in which one man offers a toast to another (Figures of Speech: Men and Maidens in Ancient Greece [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002] 201–3).

17 Although the possibility of a common source underlying both the novel and the New Testament narratives cannot be ruled out, it seems unlikely; see Bowersock's assessment: “The most plausible source for [Achilles Tatius’s] invention is the Gospel story. It makes far more sense to postulate a direct influence upon the Greek novelist than to suppose that the writer innocently preserved an otherwise unknown tradition of great antiquity that was the source that inspired Jesus himself” (Fiction as History, 128).

18 Anderson Graham, Eros Sophistes: Ancient Novelists at Play (American Classical Studies 9; Chico, Calif.: Scholars Press, 1982) 111; on humor in Leucippe and Clitophon, see 23–32. Pervo addresses a similar failure in scholarship to recognize humor in Acts (Profit with Delight, 58–66).

19 Anderson, Eros Sophistes, 25; see Leuc. Clit. 2.35–38.

20 Anderson, Eros Sophistes, 32. Simon Goldhill similarly sees Achilles Tatius's humor as intended to engage in a reappraisal of traditional values of sexuality (Foucault's Virginity: Ancient Erotic Fiction and the History of Sexuality [Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1995] 66–111).

21 Rattenbury R. M., “Chastity and Chastity Ordeals in the Ancient Greek Romances,” Proceedings of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, Literary and Historical Section 1 (1926) 5971, at 71.

22 Durham Donald Blythe, “Parody in Achilles Tatius,” CP 33 (1938) 119, at 3.

23 Chew Kathryn, “Achilles Tatius and Parody,” CJ 96 (2000) 5770, at 65.

24 Chew, “Achilles Tatius and Parody,” 61. Massimo Fusillo, in his analysis of the Greek novels’ relationship to the Homeric epics, prefers to classify Leucippe and Clitophon as “ironical pastiche” rather than parody (“Textual Patterns and Narrative Situations in the Greek Novel,” Groningen Colloquia on the Novel 1 [1988] 17–32, at 28–29).

25 See Foucault Michel, The Care of the Self (trans. Hurley Robert; vol. 3 of The History of Sexuality; New York: Pantheon, 1986) 228–32; and Konstan David, Sexual Symmetry: Love in the Ancient Novel and Related Genres (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994) 1459; Goldhill, Foucault's Virginity, 85–88.

26 Konstan, Sexual Symmetry, 15–30.

27 Foucault, Care of the Self, 230. For criticism of Foucault on this point, see Goldhill, Foucault's Virginity, 93–102; Konstan, Sexual Symmetry, 48–55. As Konstan demonstrates, the fidelity that is at stake for the heroes and heroines of the novels is not chastity per se—protagonists are often compelled by circumstances to enter into unwanted relationships—but rather a constancy of feeling (Sexual Symmetry, 52).

28 Chew, “Achilles Tatius and Parody,” 60.

29 Chew contrasts Leucippe's willingness to have sex with Clitophon with the attitude of Callirhoe, the heroine of Chariton's 1st-cent. c.e. novel, who “cannot bring herself to speak of desire for Chaereas before the wedding is publically announced” (“Achilles Tatius and Parody,” 63).

30 See here Goldhill, Foucault's Virginity, 115–18.

31 Chew, “Achilles Tatius and Parody,” 64. Furthermore, she adds that Leucippe's three Scheintode (apparent deaths) (3.15; 5.7; 7.3), which are clearly intended to be comic, can all in some way “be understood as violence representing displaced sexuality” (65).

32 Dentith Simon, Parody (New York: Routledge, 2000) 9. Arriving at a precise definition of parody is difficult and would require analysis beyond the scope of the present study. But for a helpful summary of theoretical discussions on the topic, see Dentith, Parody, 9–21.

33 Rose Margaret A., Parody/Meta-Fiction: An Analysis of Parody as a Critical Mirror to the Writing and Reception of Fiction (London: Croom Helm, 1979) 2223, 35.

34 Chew, “Achilles Tatius and Parody,” 61–62. See also the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite.

35 The question of the ancient novels’ readership is notoriously difficult. On the scholarly issues involved, see Stephens Susan S., “Who Read Ancient Novels?,” and Ewen Bowie, “The Readership of Greek Novels in the Ancient World,” in The Search for the Ancient Novel (ed. Tatum James; Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994) 407–18 and 435–59 respectively.

36 Rose, Parody/Meta-Fiction, 27.

37 For a discussion of the Greek novels’ relationship to the Second Sophistic more broadly, see Anderson Graham, The Second Sophistic: A Cultural Phenomenon in the Roman Empire (London: Routledge, 1993) 156–70.

38 Οὐκ ἀκωμῳδήτως ᾔνικται; lit., “is a riddling allusion not without ridicule.”

39 Georgiadou Aristoula and Larmour David H. J., Lucian's Science Fiction Novel True Histories: Interpretation and Commentary (Mnemosyne Supplements 179; Leiden: Brill, 1998) 2223.

40 For a discussion of Lucian's larger satiric treatment of religion, philosophy, and literature, see Jones Christopher P., Culture and Society in Lucian (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986) 4658; Caster Marcel, Lucien et la pensée religieuse de son temps (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1937).

41 Lucian had knowledge of both the Old and New Testaments. writes Hans Dieter Betz, “Die Schriften des Lucian von Samosata verraten eine merkwürdige Bekanntschaft mit den Schriften des Alten und Neuen Bundes. Daraus fällt ein besonderes Licht auf die Geschichte des biblischen Kanons” (Lucian von Samosata und das Neue Testament. Religionsgeschichtliche und paränetische Parallelen [Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1961] 12, citing Rieβler P., “Lucian von Samosata und die Heilige Schrift,” TQ 140 [1933] 6472, at 64).

42 Betz, Lucian von Samosata, 92–93. See, e.g., Ver. hist. 2.11 and Rev 22:11–21. Also, in another scene, the protagonist and his crew survive in the belly of a whale in a manner reminiscent of the biblical story of Jonah (Ver. hist. 1.42–2.1); see Georgiadou and Larmour, Science Fiction Novel, 22.

43 See Betz, Lucian von Samosata, 176; Georgiadou and Larmour, Science Fiction Novel, 22. A direct literary connection, however, is difficult to establish. Lucian's parody of Dionysus's wine miracles in Ver. hist. 1.7 offers an interesting point of comparison with Leuc. Clit. 2.2. On the relationship between Jesus's wine miracle in John 2:1–11 and Dionysiac mythology, see below.

44 For a discussion of Peregrinus and a similar work of Lucian, Alexander the False Prophet, see Branham R. Bracht, Unruly Eloquence: Lucian and the Comedy of Traditions (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989) 181210.

45 Goldhill likewise regards Achilles Tatius's treatment of literary and intellectual traditions as similar to that of Lucian, “a serio-comic sophist who engages his audience in a playful reappraisal of the contemporary value of its celebrated cultural past” (Foucault's Virginity, 93 n. 85, citing Branham, Unruly Eloquence, 7).

46 Jeremias Joachim, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus (trans. Perrin Norman; London: SCM Press, 1966) 100.

47 McGowan Andrew Brian, however, disputes that the earliest function of the institution narrative was liturgical (“‘Is There a Liturgical Text in This Gospel?’: The Institution Narratives and Their Early Interpretive Communities,” JBL 118 [1999] 7387). He argues rather that their earliest use was primarily catechetical; prior to the 3rd cent., there is no clear evidence for the use of these narratives in liturgy (85).

48 Jeremias, Eucharistic Words, 186; see also Marcus Joel, Mark 8–16: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (AB 27A; New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2009) 959–63.

49 John 6:51c: “the bread that I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” (ὁ ἄϱτος δὲ ὃν ἐγὼ δώσω ἡ σάϱξ μού ἐστιν ὑπὲϱ τinline-graphicς τοinline-graphic κόσμου ζωinline-graphicς); cf. 1 Cor 11:24b: “this is my body, which is for you” (τοinline-graphicτό μού ἐστιν τὸ σinline-graphicμα τὸ ὑπὲϱ ὑμinline-graphicν). See Jeremias, Eucharistic Words, 106–8.

50 On the diversity in early eucharistic practices, see McGowan Andrew Brian, Ascetic Eucharists: Food and Drink in Early Christian Ritual Meals (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999) 143–98. There is also a complex historical relationship between the Eucharist and the love feast (ἀγάπη); on this, see Jeremias, Eucharistic Words, 115–22. He suggests that by the time of Paul, the Agape meal and the Eucharist were already separated, in part to keep guests out of the ceremony (133). See also Fitzmyer Joseph A., First Corinthians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (AB 32; New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2008) 428–29. He proposes that Paul's instructions in 1 Cor 11:17–22 in fact led to this separation.

51 Justin, 1 Apol. 66.3: “For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, passed down what was commanded them thus: ‘Jesus, after taking bread and giving thanks, said,’ ‘do this in remembrance of me;’ ‘this is my body’; ‘and likewise, after taking the cup and giving thanks, he said,’ ‘this is my blood’” (Οἱ γὰϱ ἀπόστολοι ἐν τοinline-graphicς γενομένοις ὑπ’ αὐτinline-graphicν Ἀπομνημονεύμασιν, ἃ κατεinline-graphicται Εὐαγγέλια, οὕτως παϱέδωκαν ἐντετάλθαι αὐτοinline-graphicς· “τὸν Ἰησοinline-graphicν λαβόντα ἄϱτον εὐχαϱιστήσαντα εἰπεinline-graphicν·” “Τοinline-graphicτο ποιεinline-graphicτε εἰς τὴν ἀνάμνησίν μου·” “τοinline-graphicτ’ ἐστι τὸ σinline-graphicμά μου·” “καinline-graphic τὸ ποτήϱιον ὁμοίως λαβόντα καinline-graphic εὐχαϱιστήσαντα εἰπεinline-graphicν·” “τοinline-graphicτό ἐστι τὸ αinline-graphicμά μου”). See here McGowan, “‘Liturgical Text?’,” 80–83. On Justin's use of the New Testament Gospels, see Koester Helmut, Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development (Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1990) 360402.

52 Jeremias, Eucharistic Words, 132. He suggests that this is the reason why John only paraphrases the words (125).

53 Ibid., 126–29.

54 See, e.g., Henrichs Albert, “Pagan Ritual and Alleged Crimes of the Early Christians,” in Kyriakon: Festschrift Johannes Quasten (ed. Granfield Patrick and Jungmann Josef A.; 2 vols; Münster: Aschendorff, 1970) 1:1835; Stephen Benko, “Pagan Criticism of Christianity during the First Two Centuries A.D.,” ANRW 23.2.1055–118, esp. 1083–89; and Brown Peter, The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988) 140–59.

55 These observations are in Galen's summary of Plato's Republic, a work preserved only in Arabic quotations; for a translation, see Walzer Richard, Galen on Jews and Christians (London: Oxford University Press, 1949) 15. On Galen's view of Christianity, see Wilken Robert Louis, The Christians as the Romans Saw Them (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1984) 6893.

56 Modern scholars have further developed these ancient comparisons. Henrichs Albert asserts that the cult of Dionysus is particularly “suitable” for comparison with Judeo-Christian religion (“Changing Dionysiac Identities,” in Self-Definition in the Greco-Roman World [ed. Meyer Ben F. and E. Sanders P.; vol. 3 of Jewish and Christian Self-Definition; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982] 137–60, at 137). Regarding a later time period (the reign of Diocletian), writes Glen W. Bowersock, “The soteriological aspects of Dionysus—the release he brought from pain and the triumph he ensured over enemies—made [Dionysus] an ideal pagan antagonist to Christ” (“Dionysus as an Epic Hero,” in Studies in the Dionysiaca of Nonnus [ed. Hopkinson Neil; Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge Philological Society, 1994] 156–66, at 160). See also Spanoudakis Konstantinos, “Icarius Jesus Christ? Dionysiac Passion and Biblical Narrative in Nonnus’ Icarius Episode,” Wiener Studien 120 (2007) 3592. In the past, some scholars sought to find the origin of the Christian sacraments in Greek mysteries. On the Eucharist, see Reitzenstein Richard, Hellenistic Mystery-Religions: Their Basic Ideas and Significance (trans. Steely John E.; PTMS 15; Pittsburg: Pickwick, 1978) 7678; trans. of Die hellenistischen Mysterienreligionen (3rd ed.; Leipzig: Teubner, 1927); and Rahner Hugo, Greek Myths and Christian Mysteries (trans. Battershaw Brian; New York: Biblo and Tannen, 1971) 103–9; trans. of Griechische Mythen in christlicher Deutung (Zurich: Rhein Verlag, 1957). For criticism, see Nock Arthur Darby, “Hellenistic Mysteries and Christian Sacraments,” in Essays on Religion and the Ancient World (ed. Stewart Zeph; 2 vols.; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1972) 2:791820; repr. from Mnemosyne 5 (1952) 177–213; and Metzger Bruce M., “Considerations of Methodology in the Study of Mystery Religions and Early Christianity,” HTR 48 (1955) 120, esp. 7.

57 See, e.g., Henrichs, “Changing Dionysiac Identities,” 141. He further notes that “organized worshipers of Dionysus elevated social wine drinking to a ritualized form of religious group experience, thus making it a hallmark of their Dionysiac identity.” For similar observations, see Wilken, Christians as the Romans Saw Them, 41–44.

58 For a discussion of the various myths of Dionysus's miraculous production of wine, see Otto Walter F., Dionysus: Myth and Cult (trans. Palmer Robert B.; Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1965) 96102. Regarding Jesus's wine miracle, Bultmann Rudolf asserts, “There can be no doubt that the story has been taken over from heathen legend and ascribed to Jesus” (The Gospel of John: A Commentary [trans. Beasley-Murray George R.; Oxford: Blackwell, 1971] 118). For a critique of Bultmann, see Noetzel Heinz, Christus und Dionysos. Bemerkungen zum religionsgeschichtlichen Hintergrund von Johannes 2, 1–11 (AzTh 1; Stuttgart: Calwer, 1960) esp. 57–58. Brown Raymond E. argues for a Jewish background of the miracle (The Gospel According to John (i–xii): Introduction, Translation, and Notes [AB 29; Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1966] 101–2). Morton Smith, however, argues that such a distinction between a Jewish and Hellenistic background is unwarranted. He notes that outside of Palestine observers of Judaism could describe Jews as worshiping Dionysus; and even in Palestine, Dionysiac cult motifs had been at home in Judaism from before the Maccabean revolt (“On the Wine God in Palestine,” 821–29); see similarly Hengel Martin, “The Interpretation of the Wine Miracle at Cana: John 2:1–11,” in The Glory of Christ in the New Testament: Studies in Christology in Memory of G. B. Caird (ed. Hurst L. D. and Wright N. T.; Oxford: Clarendon, 1987) 83112, esp. 108–12.

59 John 15:1: “I am the true vine” (ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἄμπελος ἡ ἀληθινή).

60 These elements are all present in Euripides's Bacchae, one of the most popular texts of Dionysiac mythology in the 1st and 2nd cents. c.e. Nestle Wilhelm, who first identified these similarities, posits that Luke crafted his narrative with Reminiszenzen from similar scenes in Euripides's drama (“Anklänge an Euripides in der Apostelgeschichte,” Phil 59 [1900] 4657). Alternative explanations have been offered, however; see Vögeli Alfred, “Lukas und Euripides,” TZ 9 (1953) 415–38; Seaford Richard, “Thunder, Lightning, and Earthquakes in the Bacchae and the Acts of the Apostles,” in What Is a God? Studies in the Nature of Greek Divinity (ed. Lloyd Alan B.; London: Duckworth, 1997) 139–51; and Weaver John B., Plots of Epiphany: Prison-Escape in Acts of the Apostles (BZNW 131; Berlin: De Gruyter, 2004) esp. 22–27, 132–35.

61 For a discussion of Celsus's view of Christianity, see Wilken, Christians as the Romans Saw Them, 94–125. The earliest evidence for a non-Christian observer who interpreted Christianity in light of Dionysiac religion may be found in Pliny's letter to Trajan mentioned above (Ep. 10.96). Robert M. Grant has argued that Pliny's description of Christian practices was shaped by his knowledge of Livy's account of the Bacchanalia affair at Rome, in which in 186 b.c.e. the Roman Senate prohibited this cult in Italy on suspicion of political conspiracy (“Pliny and the Christians,” HTR 41 [1948] 273–74). For criticism of Grant, see Sherwin-White A. N., The Letters of Pliny: A Historical and Social Commentary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968) 692; and Grant's response in his Greek Apologists of the Second Century (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1988) 29–30, 203–5.

62 Wilken suggests that Celsus “opposed the ‘sectarian’ tendencies at work in the Christian movement because he saw in Christianity a ‘privatizing’ of religion, the transferral of religious values from the public sphere to a private association” (Christians as the Romans Saw Them, 125).

63 Clement of Alexandria similarly inveighs against the debauchery and absurdity of mystery cults; on Bacchic mysteries, see Protr. 2.12.1–2; 2.17.2–18.2.

64 McGowan, Ascetic Eucharists, 143–98.

65 See Brown, Body and Society, 140–59. This anxiety seems to underlie Clement's concern to distinguish the true Christian love feast (ἀγάπη) from those of the Carpocratians, a heretical sect whose love feasts were apparently occasions for fornication and the commonality of wives (Strom. 4.2.10). See also Origen, Cels. 6.40.

66 On women and sexuality in Bacchic religion, see Otto, Dionysus, 142.

67 Trans. Richardson Cyril C., Early Christian Fathers (LCC 1; New York: Touchstone, 1996). See also Athenagoras, A Plea for Christians 33. On the importance of chastity in 2nd-cent. Christianity, see Brown, Body and Society, 83–139.

68 The generic similarities between the apocryphal Acts and ancient novels are well known; see, e.g., Pervo, Profit with Delight, 115–35.

69 On which, see Burrus Virginia, Chastity as Autonomy: Women in the Stories of the Apocryphal Acts (Studies in Women and Religion 23; Lewiston, N.Y.: Mellen, 1987) 3166; Perkins Judith, The Suffering Self: Pain and Narrative Representation in the Early Christian Era (London: Routledge, 1995) 2530; and Cooper Kate, The Virgin and the Bride: Idealized Womanhood in Late Antiquity (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996) 4567.

70 On Thecla, see Burrus, Chastity as Autonomy, 49–57; Cooper, The Virgin and the Bride, 50–51; and Aubin Melissa, “Reversing Romance? The Acts of Thecla and the Ancient Novel,” in Ancient Fiction and Early Christian Narrative (ed. Hock Ronald F., Chance J. Bradley, and Perkins Judith; SBLSymS 6; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1998) 257–72. For a reading that compares the treatment of virginity in Leucippe and Clitophon and the Acts of Paul and Thecla from a postcolonial perspective, see Burrus Virginia, “Mimicking Virgins: Colonial Ambivalence and the Ancient Romance,” Arethusa 38 (2005) 4988, esp. 54–68.

71 Cooper, The Virgin and the Bride, 55.

72 The literary references include Aristophanes, Plut. 807 (the dark wine); Hesiod, Op. 587 and Theocritus, Id. 14.15 (the Biblian vine); Homer, Od. 9.196–97 (the wine of Maron); and Athenaeus, Deipn. 1.69 (citing Aristophanes on Chian wine from Laconia). For a discussion of the literary sources and textual problems, see Vilborg, Achilles Tatius, 2:38–41. Cueva Edmund P. argues that the mythological wines mentioned here are programmatic for all of book 2 (The Myths of Fiction: Studies in the Canonical Greek Novels [Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press, 2004] 6674).

73 The best-known version of the Icarius myth was Eratosthenes's lost poem Erigone. Nonnus's 5th-cent. c.e. epic poem employs it as his source (Dion. 47.1–264); on this, see Solmsen Friedrich, “Eratosthenes’ Erigone: A Reconstruction,” TAPA 78 (1947) 252–75; and Spanoudakis, “Icarius Jesus Christ?” See also Ps.-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3.14.7.

74 For example, in Euripides's Bacchae, the messenger exhorts Pentheus to receive Dionysus into the city because “if wine no longer exists, there remains no Aphrodite or any other pleasure among humans” (οἴνου δὲ μηκέτ’ ὄντος οὐκ ἔστιν Κύπϱις / οὐδ’ ἄλλο τεϱπνὸν οὐδὲν ἀνθϱώποις ἔτι; 773–74). A similar connection is made by Bacchylides in a description of the activity at symposia as a time “when sweet necessity enflames the [tender] heart of youths as the wine cups are sent around and the hope of Aphrodite sets the mind to fluttering, mingling with the gifts of Dionysus” (εinline-graphicτε νέων ἁ[παλὸν] γλυκεinline-graphic’ ἀνάγκα / σευομενinline-graphicν κυλίκων θάλπησι θυμόν, / Κύπϱιδός τ’ ἐλπinline-graphicς <δι>αἰθύσσῃ φϱένας, / ἀμμειγνυμένα Διονυσίοισι δώϱοις; fr. 20B 6–9 Snell and Maehler).

75 See also Leuc. Clit. 1.9.5 where the lovers’ gaze is described as a “new kind of embracing of bodies” (καινὴ γάϱ ἐστι σωμάτων συμπλοκή).

76 The description of wine as the fuel of Eros echoes 1.5.6, where Clitophon, after hearing a song about Apollo and Daphne, comments that “an erotic story is a fuel of desire. Even someone who trains himself in self-restraint is provoked into imitation by the example” (ὑπέκκαυμα γὰϱ ἐπιθυμίας λόγος ἐϱωτικός. κἂν εἰς σωφϱοσύνην τις ἑαυτὸν νουθετinline-graphic, τinline-graphic παϱαδείγματι πϱὸς τὴν μίμησιν ἐϱεθίζεται). Here it seems Achilles Tatius refers self-reflexively to the intended effect of his own writing; see Goldhill, Foucault's Virginity, 67–73.

* I wish to express my gratitude to Philip Sellew and Nita Krevans for their insightful comments on various drafts of this article and also to the two anonymous reviewers at HTR. In addition, versions of this paper were delivered at the annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies in Waterloo, Ontario, May 2012, in fulfillment of a requirement for the Jeremias Prize, and at a Colloquium of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies, University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis, Minn., November 2011. I am grateful to both audiences for their valuable contributions.

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Harvard Theological Review
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