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The Heroikos of Philostratus: A Novel of Heroes, and more

Francesca Mestre and Pilar Gómez

Abstract

This paper aims to analyze why the Heroikos puts together, in a fictional work, local heroes - and their real cults - and pan-Hellenic heroes of epic: two aspects belonging, apparently, to different domains. In this work, in a very complex way, the author offers the reader a range of highly significant elements, in the fields of both literature and of ‘reality’, taking into account, however, that both are fictional. Our approach, then, is to establish two separate levels in this narration: first, the narrative about heroes (in this sense we could consider the Heroikos ‘a novel of heroes’); secondly, the description of the framework in which the dialogue takes place, and of the characters in it; that is, primarily the vinedresser and the Phoenician in person, and the absent Protesilaos. In the end this reading shows that, among other things, one of Philostratus’ goals in writing the Heroikos is to show that the figure of the hero is a central point of Greek identity within the Roman Empire, because it both covers the everyday life of belief and the mythical life of relevant heroic ‘history’.

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston