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Historical and Religious Memory in the Ancient World$
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Beate Dignas and R. R. R. Smith

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199572069

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199572069.001.0001

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Abercius of Hierapolis

Abercius of Hierapolis

Christianization and Social Memory in Late Antique Asia Minor

Chapter:
(p.257) 12 Abercius of Hierapolis
Source:
Historical and Religious Memory in the Ancient World
Author(s):

Peter Thonemann

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199572069.003.0012

The verse epitaph of the second-century bishop Abercius of Hierapolis, ‘the queen of Christian inscriptions’, is one of the best known and most thoroughly studied of all early Christian texts. Less well-known is the extraordinary Life of St Abercius, a fictionalised hagiography composed by an anonymous native of Hierapolis in the late fourth century ad. The Life has generally been dismissed as an extended elaboration of the epitaph of Abercius, of little or no historical value in its own right. This chapter aims to rehabilitate the Life as a uniquely valuable document of the processes by which the Christians of Late Antique Asia Minor re-fashioned their (pagan) Roman past in their own image, through creative readings of those second-century epigraphical monuments — including, but not restricted to, the Abercius epitaph — which survived in the fourth-century urban landscape.

Keywords:   Abercius, Asia Minor, epigraphical monument, epitaph, Hierapolis, late antique, social memory

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