The Ancient Novels and the New Testament: Possible Contacts


  • Ilaria L.E. Ramelli


This paper analyzes the ancient novels and their possible contacts with the New Testament and Christianity. Petronius, who wrote at the time of the fire in Romeand the related anti-Christian persecution arranged by Nero (A.D. 64), presents possible parodies of some Gospel scenes and of the tymbôrykhia of which the Christians were accused. This element is present also in Chariton, together with the topics of crucifixion and resurrection. While in the later novels the last two motifs – which appear simultaneously with the birth of Christianity – continue, that of tymbôrychia vanishes, just when the anti-Christian charge lost its strength. In some novels chastity, virginity and other moral values appreciated by the Christians are prominent; ancient novels and the early Christian narratives also have some motifs in common.

I have a degree in Classics with specialization in Early Christianity, another degree in Philosophy with specialization in Ancient Philosophy (both at the Catholic University of Milan), and a Doctorate in Philology and Literature of the Classical World (at the State Univeristy of Milan). I taught at the University of Chieti as a ‘Professore contrattista’ and am now assistant at the Catholic University in Milan, Ancient Philosophy. My favourite field of research is the interrelation between classical culture and early Christianity. I am now studying the allegorical interpretation of sacred narratives (myths and Scripture) both in pagan (Stoics and Neoplatonists) and in Christian authors (mainly Origen and Gregory of Nyssa, of whose De anima et resurrectione I am preparing a new edition with essays and commentary, to be published in Milan: Bompiani 2006). I am also studying the theme of the virtues in the ancient novels and early Christianity.