A study of the extensive corpus of around 200 Greek homilies dating from the late ninth to the end of the tenth century has revealed a clear trend in Byzantine homiletics, which has practically escaped attention so far: references to Ancient Greek myths in the form of exempla occur in roughly one tenth of them. All of this material is presented in detail and analyzed in the article. Moreover, this paradoxical phenomenon of incorporating pagan material in religious works that were read out in church is accounted for by appealing to a number of factors, including the influence of Gregory of Nazianzus’ and Photius’ examples on the homilists involved, the flourishing of rhetoric in the era of the “revival of learning”, and the classicizing spirit of the “Macedonian renaissance”. While the use of myths did not imply acceptance of their ethics, a special fondness of erotic myths makes its appearance. The trend under discussion here emerges as a literary counterpart to classicism in the art of the tenth century.
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