29 April 2021 Nina Mazhjoo: “The Cultural Transmission of Mithras (Miϑra) from Persia to the Hellenistic World”
Abstract: The major schools of modern Mithraic studies disagree on the origin of the Roman mystery cult of Mithras. The School of Iranisante attempts to Persianize the Roman mystery cult of Mithras and argues that the cult originated in the diaspora of Magi; alternatively, the School of Roman bricolage emphasizes the separation between the Persian Yazāt Miϑra and the Roman Mystery cult of Mithras and interprets the cult of Mithras as a Roman production. However, recent scholarship suggests the influence of Persianism behind the Mithraic art and ritual language, whereby the Roman Mithraists sought to develop a novel cult and identity.
Building on this recent scholarship, this research proposes a new perspective on Mithras’ Persian origin in the invention of the Roman Mithraic art and ritual language. By examining specific data, this research will demonstrate how the Mithraic art and imagery points to the Greek descriptions of the Persian Yazāt Miϑra, and incorporates the Greek image of “handsome Oriental” to create an ex novo cultic identity. It also examines the Hellenistic Roman imagery of Mithras and his Persian origin in relation to the Roman Imperial ideology towards the Orient and Persia in particular.
27 May 2021 Piotr Głogowski: “Phoenicia in the Greco-Roman Age: Hellenization and Romanization in Longue Durée”
Abstract: For centuries the Phoenicians were one of the most important peoples in the Ancient Mediterranean. We have enough evidence to see that the Phoenician-Punic culture continue to exist long after the destruction of Tyre (332 BCE) and Carthage (146 BCE) and the decline of this culture should be considered in terms of gradual process taking place in the Greco-Roman period. Unfortunately, in the Phoenician-Punic studies a great deal of modern scholarship adopts rather narrow chronological and thematic scope of research what makes tracing the long-lasting cultural processes extremely difficult and very often prevents one from comprehending multifold cultural phenomena. Furthermore, there is a number of aspects of these processes that so far met with only very limited interest of modern scholars. In my PhD thesis entitled "Phoenicia in the Hellenistic and Roman Age: Hellenization and Longue Durée", I intended to address these difficulties by examining a number of these aspects in terms of the diffusion of ancient Greek cultural elements (e.g. epigraphic habit, athletic culture). In this paper my aim is to present my PhD thesis, some of its preliminary conclusions and to discuss the general outline and the most important directions of my envisaged further research on the cultural development of Phoenicia in the Greco-Roman times.
23 June 2021 Paulina Zagórska: “John Malalas and his work – reliability, interpretation and main hypotheses”
Abstract: John Malalas’, the 6th c. author, was accused of unreliability and clumsiness in rewriting his sources for much too long. His work concerns the universal history from biblical creation of the world until the Justinian’s times. The scope of research of the historical commentary – the subject of my doctoral thesis – are books 6th, 7th and 8th. They are composed of closely intertwined history of Near East (i.e. Assyrian, Persian, Alexander’s conquest and Seleucids), Jewish history, beginnings of Italy and Rome and Greek poleis. Commentary to this selected chapters allows me to observe Malalas’ perception of history in the context of many different cultural traditions. It hopefully makes it possible to determine his perspective on Greco-Roman past, but Biblical and Jewish past at the same time. Book eight, reporting the Hellenistic times and foundation of Antioch and other cities of Syriac Tetrapolis, is crucial for understanding the Antiocheian identity in Malalas time, which was most likely rooted deeply in mythological Greek legends and Hellenistic history. Comprehensive and exhaustive research in potential sources of Malalas’ work allow to reformulate previous judgments about his credibility and methodological approach. I would argue that insightful source studies and searching for literary context – which is crucial for research in post-classical texts – leads to reinterpretation of information Malalas preserved and emphasizing his importance as a Christian historian of his times.