Miti come spolia: costruire le origini della Nuova Roma

Tommaso Braccini


When the ancient Greek colony of Byzantion became Constantine's 'New Rome', the meagre repertoire of myths which until then had been linked to its origins was profoundly reworked to adapt it to the dignity of an imperial capital. Panegyrists and encomiasts (gathered and summarised in particular in the chronicle of Hesychius Illustrius) populated the beginnings of the city with figures and events based on the ktiseis of the Hellenistic capitals and above all on the legends of Rome. Myths of pagan origins thus took hold in an increasingly Christian Constantinople, without this being perceived as problematic. It will be shown that, just as in the field of architecture, so too in literature the use of recognisable mythological spolia from traditions foreign to ancient Byzantium, reworked and set up with great skill, constituted an indispensable rhetorical device for celebrating the New Rome and its origins.

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