Dr Nicola Zito

UK Host Institution: Newcastle University
Project status

The “Orphic” Lithica: A 4th Century Religious Manifesto of the Last Pagans

The aim of this project is to provide the first monograph dedicated to the “Orphic” Lithica, a short epic-didactic poem dedicated to the theurgical and therapeutic virtues of 29 stones composed in the 4th century within the entourage of the emperor Julian the Apostate (r. 361-363).

It will analyze the historical context in which the poem was composed; the ideological aims of this cryptical text addressed to the Pagans, who were by then an increasingly minority in a Christian empire; the role of the sense of sight in the experience of the mirabilia aroused by the stones (thus providing access to the divine); the importance exerted by poetry in Julian’s milieu, hitherto neglected.

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