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The Myth of the Eternal Rebirth: Critical Notes on G. W.

Bowersock, Hellenism in Late Antiquity Author(s): Jarl Fossum Source: Vigiliae Christianae, Vol. 53, No. 3 (Aug., 1999), pp. 305-315 Published by: BRILL Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1584594 . Accessed: 14/04/2011 07:03
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JARL FOSSUM In his famous work, Die Untergang desAbendlandes (ET, The Declineof the West [1928]), Oswald Spengler used the language of mineralogy to illustrate his thesis that in the Hellenistic age Greek philosophy and religion provided the hollow forms in which the Oriental material underwent a 'pseudomorphosis'.The simile used was the following: When a crystalline substance fills a hollow left in a geological layer made by a crystal which has disintegrated,the former is forced to take on the mould of the latter, thereby deceiving the observerwho does not subject the substanceto chemical analysis. In his slim book of less than 100 pages of text, ProfessorGlen Bowersock propoundsa more perceptiveview: 'Hellenism'-by which the author means Greek language, philosophy, and religion-did not disintegrateso quickly. Surely the great Dionysus remained alive for a long time; in the chapter on 'Dionysos and His World', Bowersock cites that Dionysus is the 'controlling figure' in some beautiful late antiquity art work. Rather than effecting a 'pseudomorphosis'of Near Eastern religion, Hellenism was able it became a vehicle for 'strengtheningand to bring about a metamorphosis: even transforming local worship without eradicating its local character' (p. 21). Bowersock also correctly notes: 'Christianityhad a powerful influence on the paganism that prosperedin the late antique world, to a degree [...] no less important than the influence-much more frequently remarkedof paganism on Christianity'(p. 26). However, in his eagerness to demonstrate the influence of Christianityupon paganism, Bowersockunfortunately makes many mistakes. This is rather glaring in his attempt at a 'thorough examination' of Epiphanius' account of the festival in the Alexandrian
' Jerome Lectures 18; Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1990. The Lectures were delivered in February of '89. ? Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 1999 53, 305-315 Irgiliae Christianae



sanctum of the goddess Kore in the bishop's own day (ca. 315-402). Since Bowersock states that his 'detailed and somewhat intricate argument can stand as a test case for the approach to Hellenism espoused in this book' (pp. 21-22), a critical examination of his interpretationmay be found in order. Furthermore,since the account by the bishop of Salamis actually testifies to a mythical-ritualpattern which can be observed in Christianity as well as pagan religion, some concluding comments of a psychological nature may be found appropriate.

In his Panarion or 'medicine chest' (of antidotes to the poisons of sects and idolatry), Epiphanius tells the following story:
... The leaders of the idolaters... in many places hold a great feast on the very night of Epiphany, so that those who have placed their hopes in what is error may not seek the truth. First of all, in Alexandria they hold a festival in what is called the Koreum, which is a huge temple, namely the sacred precinct of Kore. They stay awake the entire night singing hymns to the idol to the accompaniment of flutes. They keep it up the entire night, and after cockcrow torchbearersdescend into an underground shrine and bring up a wooden statue seated naked on a litter, having a seal of a cross inlaid with gold upon the forehead, and two other such seals on both hands as well as another two upon the knees themselves, making altogetherfive seals impressed with gold. They carry the statue in a circle seven times around the very centre of the temple to the accompaniment of flutes, kettle-drums,and hymns, and thus reveling carry it back down to the place underground.Asked what the rite means, they say: 'Today at this hour Kore (meaning the Virgin) has engendered Aion.'2 Bowersock states: 'It has rarely been noticed that, after his invocation of the Alexandrian parallel to Epiphany, Epiphanius goes on to provide two other parallels' (p. 24). The first parallel is that of a ceremony at Elusa in the Negev desert; unfortunately, we are only told that it occurred in the same night as the other two. Reporting on the nocturnal rite at Petra, however, the bishop furnishes the information that this was the Nabateans'

2 LI.22.8-10 Vol. 2 [GCS 31, revisedby J. Drummer; (text in K. Holl, Epiphanius, Berlin:Akademie-Verlag, in P.R. Amidon, ThePananon 1980),p. 286; translation of St. Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis [Oxford:UniversityPress, 1990], p. 182, and in F. Williams,

The Panarionof Epiphanius of Salamis,Books II and III [NHMS 36; Leiden: Brill, 1994],

p. 51).



celebration of the birth of their main god, Dusares, from a virgin goddess named Khaamon or Khaabon. Bowersock infers that the Alexandrian Aion, too, must have been an indigenous deity who could lay some claim to being the supreme god. Since there are passages in the Suda Lexicon which identify Osiris with Aion, Bowersock concludes that the Egyptian god Osiris was embodied by 'the Hellenistic philosophical deity Aion' and lived on in a 'Hellenic mystery cult' (p. 25).3 The cross marks on the body of the Aion statue and the profession of virgin birth are taken by Bowersock as evidence for Christian influence.4 Then why not the date of the (re)birthof Aion as well? In the beginning, the birth of Christ was celebratedonJanuary 6,5 as it still is in the 'Oriental Orthodox' Churches. Bowersock does not comment upon the date at all. It is wrong that Epiphanius' account is 'never discussed or analyzed at length' (p. 21). Already in 1913 W. Bousset devoted just as much space to this report as Bowersock's 'thorough examination'.6Bousset knew that
3 Apparently already P.E. Jablonski (1693-1757), De originefestinativitatisChristi,took Aion in Epiphanius' account to be Osiris. I have not seen Jablonski's Opuscula, published byJ.G. te Water in four parts (Leiden, 1804-13), but I have read P. de Lagarde, who repeatedJablonski's identification of the two gods; see de Lagarde, 'Altes und Neues Vol. 4 (Gottingen: Liider Horstmann, 1891), iiber das Weihnachtsfest', Mittheilungen, n. 1. 302 p. In his article, 'Der Ursprung des Epiphanienfestes', originally published in SAB for 1917, K. Holl denied that the Suda Lexicon equated Aion and Osiris; see Holl, Gesammelte Aufsitze zurAKrchengeschichte (1928; reprinted Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1964), pp. 149-50. His skepticism appears exaggerated and his alternative explanation too forced. 4 (2nd ed.; Bonn: Cohen, 1911), pp. 28-9, saw Already H. Usener, Das Weihnachtsfest as a semi-Christian feast, the crosses supposedly revealing Christian influence. the Koreion 5 Epiphanius himself (Pan. LI.22.3-7 and 29.4-7) believed this was the date of the birth of Christ. Ca. 428 John Cassianus (Collationes X.2) reports that Epiphany in Egypt is 'by ancient tradition' believed to be the time for both the baptism and the birth of Jesus. For the celebration of the birth of Christ in a cave in Bethlehem in the night of 5/6 January, see Holl, Aufsatze,p. 126. For a general discussion, see L. Fendt, 'Der heutige Stand der Forschung iiber das GeburtsfestJesu am 25.XII und iiber Epiphanias', ThLZ 78 (1953), cols. 1-10. 6 KyriosChristos (FRLANT 21; Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1913), pp. 33237. Bousset's seminal work was published in ET (Nashville: Abingdon) in 1970. Some other important discussions of Epiphanius' account are cited by P.M. Fraser, Ptolemaic Vol. 2 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1972), pp. 336-37 n. 79 (to ch. 5 ? 2). For the Alexandria, Schule god Aion proper, reference may also be made to C. Colpe, Die religionsgeschichtliche (FRLANT 78; Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1961), pp. 209-16.



January 5/6 was observed as the date of the epiphany of Dionysus.7That the Alexandrian Aion is no other than Dionysus is corroborated by the fact that Dusares was frequently identified with Dionysus--a fact duly noted by Bousset, but overlooked by Bowersock. Bowersockwrites: 'Apart from a Cretan legend of the birth of Zagreus, nothing in the entire Greek mythological tradition suggests that Kore, or as she is otherwise known, Persephone, the bride of Hades, ever gave birth at all' (p. 26). That very myth, however, relating that Persephone'schild, Dionysus-Zagreus,was torn to pieces by the Titans but then put together again and revived by the gods, was quite popular. It is repeatedlyreferred to in the Orphic texts.9The Orphics could even say that Kore gave birth to Dionysus in a subterranean cave,'0 which calls to mind Epiphanius' report that Aion was reborn every year in the undergroundshrine of Kore. The 53rd Orphic hymn says that Dionysus'sleeps'in the house of Persephone in the intervals between his appearances. Every year the god was awakened as Liknites, the 'One in the Cradle' (e.g., Plutarch,De Is. et Os. 365a; Orphic Hymn 46). It was undoubtedlyas a repeatedlyrebor god that Dionysuswas identified

7 Given his identification of Aion in Epiphan.Pan. LI.22.9-10 as Osiris, it is sur-

prisingthat Bowersockdoes not cite Pan.LI.30.3, where the bishop says that on 1 th Tybi = 6th January'everyonedrawswater [from the Nile] and stores it.' On account of this report, already H. Gressmann,Tod undAuferstehung des Osiris (Der Alte Orient 23/3; Leipzig:Hinrichs'sche Buchhandlung,1923), pp. 22-25, took Pan. LI.22.9-10 to describethe ritual rebirthof Horus, the son and representative of Osiris, the god of the Nile. However, as pointed out by R. Merkelbach, in griechisch-romischer Zeit Isisfeste zur klassischen (Beitrage Philologie5; Meisenheimam Glan:Anton Hain, 1963),p. 49, the drawingof Nile water on Tybi 11 is a rite which must have been transferred from the festivalof the birth or 'finding'(heuresis) of Osiris, celebratedin July when the Nile rose. That an Osirian ceremonywas transferred to the epiphanyfeast of Dionysusis shown by the account of Epiphaniusthat the water even turned into wine on 6th De Is. et Os. 364E, where Osiris January.See also Holl, Aufsdtze, p. 153, citing Plutarch, and Dionysusare identified. 8 F. Cumont,'Dusares' and 'Dusaria',PW, Vol. 5 (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1905),p. 1866 and p. 1867. 9 The myth did not originatewith the Orphics;see W. Otto, Dionysus. MythandCult IndianaUniversity,1965),p. 191; E.R. Dodds, TheGreeks andtheIrrational (Bloomington: Los Angeles& London:University of California, (SatherClassicalLectures25; Berkeley, 155-56. The texts are assembledby O. Kern, Orphicorum 1951), pp. Orphic Fragmenta (1922; reprintedBerlin:Weidmann, 1963). '0 K. Kerenyi, TheGods of theGreeks (London:Thames & Hudson, 1951),p. 253. See below.



with Aion, 'Time' or 'Eternity'.This seems to have taken place in Orphic circles. According to the Orphics, Phanes-the young god emerging from the cosmic egg and often depicted in the centre of the zodiac-could be regarded as the new Aion," born every year in an ever-repeated cycle.'2 The Orphic Fragmentsrelate that the cavern in which Dionysus was born was the cave of Phanes (98; 105). In the Orphic verses quoted by Macrobius, Phanes and Dionysus are equated (Saturnalia 1.18.12). Surveying Orphic cosmogonies,Damasciusnotes that the RhapsodicVersion mentionsDionysus as a name of Phanes (Deprincipiis 123). Diodorus Siculus says that Orpheus Phanes and as Dionysus names of the same god (I.11.3).'3 regarded Diodorus also says that 'some give to Osiris the name Dionysus' (ibid.). In two of the places in the Suda Lexicon where Osiris is identified with Aion, the god is also equated with Adonis.'4That Osiris could be identified with Dionysus and Adonis stands to reason, for these gods all died and were revived every year. Into this amalgam Aion, the cyclicallyreborn god, too, entered.'5
" That the figure of Time was not always cast as the monstrous Mithraic deity, undHimmelszelt, Vol. 2 (Miinchen: Zervan, was first pointed out by R. Eisler, Weltenmantel Beck, 1910), pp. 400-405, with reference to the beautiful young god on the Modena relief first published in 1863. See also M.P. Nilsson, 'The Syncretistic Relief at Modena', SO 24 (1945), pp. 1-7. 12 The marble statue of a naked youth entwined by a serpent found in 1902/3 at see MJ. Merida, Spain, can be identified as the reborn Aion as well as Mithras iuvenis; Studies (ed. J. Hinnels; Manchester: University Vermaseren, 'A Magical Time God', Mithraic Press, 1975), pp. 446-56, especially p. 450. 13 For the relation between Dionysus and the Orphic mysteries, see E. Rohde, Psyche, Vol. 2 (4th ed.; Tiibingen: Mohr, 1907), pp. 103-136; M.P. Nilsson, 'Early Orphism', HTR 28 (1935), pp. 203-204. 14 Svidae Lexicon (Lexicographi Graeci I), Vol. 2 (ed. A. Adler; Leipzig: Teubner, 1931), 52 and p. 579 (s.v. Hebraiskos).Only the latter passage is cited by (s.v. p. Diagnmn6n) Bowersock. The third identification of Osiris and Aion (ibid., pp. 391-92 [s.v. Epiphanios]) does not mention Adonis. For the high age of the identification of Osiris and Adonis, see W.W. Grafen Baudissin, Adonis und Esmun (Leipzig: Hinrichs'sche Buchhandlung, 1911), pp. 185-202. 15 Ps.-Callisthenes (1.30-33) says that Serapis, that is, Osiris, was identified with Aion Plutonius in Ptolemaic Alexandria. R. Pettazzoni, 'Aion-(Kronos) Chronos in Egypt', Essays in the Historyof Religions (Suppl Numen 1; Leiden: Brill, 1954), pp. 171-76, argues that Epiphan. Pan LI.22.9-10 describes the ritual birth of Horus-Harpokrates as the representative of his father, Osiris (Serapis)-Aion. Pettazzoni thinks that Aion is a 'Hellenized' form of 'an ancient Egyptian conception of the Endless Time' embodied by the figure of the sun god. He sees the Egyptian Kronoia on Dec. 25 as described by Epiphan. Pan. LI.30.3 as the feast of another form of the same deity, Kronos-Chronos. Cf. already



Another deity who was assimilated into this theokrasia was Attis. Prime evidence for this syncretismis provided by the Gnostic Naassene Homily, a text to which Bousset directed attention in his discussion of Epiphanius' report on the festival in the Alexandrian sanctuary of Kore.16 The basic source of the Naassene Homily, summarizedby the heresiologistHippolytus, is a hymn to Attis to which had been appended a commentary in which the Phrygian god is equated with a series of other deities.17Before this material reached Hippolytus, the Gnostics had reworked it to the effect that the main character of the myth was seen as the archetypal Man in whom people had a part.'8The realization of this Anthropos within is the goal of all initiation rituals, thus also that at the 'great mysteries'of Eleusis, where the climactic cry of the celebrant was: 'A holy child is born to the This cultic Lady Brimo-Brimos (that is, to the Strong One-the Strong)!"9 exclamation is not unlike that uttered at the birth of Aion in Alexandria, and it comes as no surprise that Brimo is a name of the Queen of the Brimos was obviunderworld,who was identified as Persephone or Kore.20 ously her child, Dionysus.21 Hippolytus goes on to report that the Greek version of Isa 7.14 was taken to pertain to the 'great mysteries' of Eleusis: 'For she is the virgin
Gressmann, Tod, pp. 23-24. But Jan. 6 is too far removed from winter solstice to be the birthday of the sun god. For a refutation of the attempts to connect Epiphanius' report with various evidence pertaining to the birth of the sun god on 25th Dec., see Holl, Aufsatze,pp. 145-47. Merkelbach, Isisfeste,pp. 46-49, also connects the evidence of Ps.-Callisthenes and Epiphanius' description of the ritual rebirth of Aion, but he does allow for a further identification with Dionysus; cf. above, n. 7. The figure of Dionysus may even have been a component in the amalgamation of Serapis and Aion Plutonius, for already Heraclitus (Frag. 15) identified Hades (Pluton) and Dionysus. For Dionysus as the god of the underworld, see Otto, Dionysus,pp. 113-19, 169, 190-91. 16 KyriosChristos, p. 334, and 'Der Gott Aion', published posthumously in RelgionsStudien(Suppl Novum Testamentum 50; ed. A.F. Verheule; Leiden: Brill, geschichtliche 1979), p. 229. 17 Already in the hymn itself (Hipp. Philos. V.9.8), the 'many-formed Attis' is equated with Adonis, Osiris, and other gods. 18 On the Naassene Deutung Homily, see J. Frickel, Hellenistische Erlosungin christlicher (Nag Hammadi Studies 19; Leiden: Brill, 1984), who shows that there also was a final Valentinian redaction according to which only the pneumatics had part in the Anthropos. 9 Hippolytus, Philosophumena omnium V.8.40 (text in P. Wendland, Hippolytus Refutatio haeresium (Philosophumena) [GCS 26, 1916; reprinted Hildesheim: Olm, 1977], p. 98). 20 III.861) says that Brimo is the name of the Queen Appolonius Rhodius (Argonautica of the Underworld, Persephone-Hekate. 21 The Orphic hymn to the Nereids speaks of the mysteries of 'the most holy Bakchos and the pure Persephone' (24.11). Bakchos is the Lydian name of Dionysus.



who is with child and conceives and bears a son, who is not psychic, and not bodily, but a blessed Aion of Aions.'22The words, 'not psychic, and not bodily,' are a Gnostic addition: the Gnostics took the Scripturalverse to refer to the birth of the spiritualMan. In the original Homily, Isa 7.14 was taken to pertain to the mysteries which celebrated the birth of the saviour god from the goddess of the underworld.The god is called by the same name as that which Epiphaniusheard in Alexandria almost two hundred years later: Aion. We may ask if the term 'virgin' (parthenos) in the accounts of Hippolytus and Epiphanius really describes the goddess as having conceived without intercourse,for in Greekparthenos may simply denote a female in the bloom of her youth. Thus, Epiphanius'explanation of the name of Kore (literally, the 'girl', 'young woman') as the 'virgin', if stemming from the religious vocabulary of her worshippers,may have meant something else than what the bishop understood by the term. In the Ugaritic texts, 'Anat, whose cult was introduced into Egypt quite early and cherished by the Israelite colonists of Elephantine,23 bears the epithet btlt, 'virgin', emphasizing her and youth procreativeness;the goddess was certainly not sexually abstinent. Isis could also be called parthenos in her capacity as the astral Virgo.24 If Epiphanius'explanation of the name of Kore as the 'virgin' is to be understood in the Christian sense, Christian influence is by no means the LXX Isa 7.14 shows that the of idea only explanation. virgin birth might have arisen in Alexandria well before the arrival of Christianity. There was a traditionto the effect that Hera renewed her virginity every year by bathing in the spring of Canthus (PausaniasII.36.2). In the century after Epiphanius, Nonnos gives an account of Kore as a virgin mother (V.56571; VI. 155-68). Bowersock takes the crosses on the hands and knees of the Aion image to represent the stigmata of Christ (p. 27). But crosses are not stigmata in the sense of wound marks, and Jesus' knees are not said to have been afflicted. Moreover, the cross on the forehead of Aion is hardly a wound mark, and Bowersock accordingly furnishes another interpretationin this case: it is actually a cross sign, which the Christiansdemonstrablyput on

Philos. V.8.45 (Wendland, p. 99). On 'Anat in Egypt, see A. Vincent, La religion desJudio-Arameens d'Elephantine (Paris:

LibrairieOrientalistePaul Geuthner, 1937), pp. 622-53; A.S. Kapelrud, The Violent Goddess (Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 1969), pp. 14-16. 24 F. Boll, Sphaera Teubner, (Leipzig: 1903), pp. 209-216. Isis could also be called
Kore; see Julian, Epist. 111, and the papyrus texts cited by Pettazzoni, 'Aion-(Kronos) Chronos', p. 174 n. 20.



their foreheads and other parts of their bodies. But so did other people,
for the cross was a widespread symbol in antiquity.25 Here I only want to

point out that the cross was also a Jewishsymbol, as is shown by evidence from tombs inJerusalem, Rome, and Alexandria.26 The literarybackground is to be found in the Bible. In Ezek 9.4 the Tau, the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, written as + or x, was the mark of God put upon the foreheads of the elect. Isa 44.5 witnesses to the custom of stigmatization on the hand (cf. Exod 13.9).27That cross-markssignifying the Name of God could be used in an apotropaic sense as a guarantee of resuscitation If it is right to see Christian influence in the five crossstands to reason.28 marks on the statue of Aion, we should not think of the cross (and still less of the stigmata)of Jesus, but rather of the first letter (X) of the Greek name Christos. Already in the second century C.E., this was taken as a name of God.29 We would have to agree with R. van den Broek who says, 'So far as I can see, no one has of yet found a close parallel to the divine image described by Epiphanius.'30 Van den Broek mentions the five cross-marks

For references see E. Dinkler,'Kreuzzeichen und Kreuz', to some of the literature,

JbAC 5 (1962), pp. 93-94 (= SignumCrucis[Tiibingen: Mohr, 1967], p. 27, et s.v. 'Kreuz

Zeichen, heidnisch'). 26 The materialis convenientlycollected and discussedby Dinklerin the first three in Crucis. essays Signum I: Kain und das Kainszeichen', 27 B. Stade, 'Beitragezur Pentateuchkritik ZAW 14 ZTK 48 (1951), (1894), pp. 250-318. Cf. Dinkler, 'Zur Geschichtedes Kreuzsymbols', pp. 163-66. 28 In this connection it may be pointed out that Bowersockpays remarkably little attention to Jewishevidence. The curious divine name, 'Blessed be His Name', in from the second century C.E. (p. 19) is of course to PalmyreneAramaicinscriptions be connectedwith the Jewish and Samaritanbenedictionof pronouncing blessingupon the Name of God. Thus, an ancient cultic refrainfound throughoutthe literatureof the Samaritans runs, 'Blessedbe our God forever,and blessedbe His Name forever.' From southernSyriawe have evidencefor a pagan 'angel'(angelos) called 'the Raised which was an adapHand' (p. 30). There was an ancient ChristianHand Christology tationof theJewish idea of Sophiaas the Hand of God; seeJ. Zandee,"'The Teachings on Presented to GillesQuispel of Silvanus"(NHC VII, 4) and Jewish Christianity', Studies theOccasion (EPRO 91; ed. MJ. Vermaseren& R. van den Broek; of His 65thBirthday Leiden:Brill, 1981), pp. 570-72. In 1 QS 3.20 the 'MightyHand' of God appearsin with the angel Michael. parallelism 29 J. Danielou, The Theology ofJewishChristianity (London:Longman,Darton & Todd, 154. 1964), p. 30 'Von der jiidischen Weisheit zum gnostischenErloser:Zum Schlusshymnus des in Gnosticism andAlexandrian desJohannes',in his Studies Christianity (NHMS Apokryphons 39; Leiden: Brill, 1996), p. 112. Van den Broek considersit possible that the cross-



of the Aion statue in the context of his discussion of the five seals carried by the descending saviour in some Gnostic texts, but Gnosticism cannot throw direct light on the Epiphanius passage. The Gnostic seals symbolize the saving knowledge conveyed to the initiands who are to use them when ascending past the planetary rulers; the seals bestowed by the revealer would seem to be passwords.3'On the other hand, van den Broek may have hit upon an indirect connection between the Gnostic seals and the cross-markson the Aion statue when pointing to F. Boll's suggestion that the number five alludes to the five planets of the Egyptians.32 The number of crosses on the Aion statue thus might be seen to show specifically Egyptian influence and indicate the cosmic nature of Aion. In any event, it is palpable that Bowersock is too quick in finding Christian influence in religious evidence from late antiquity.33 Moreover,
marks had an apotropaic significance. He refers to AJ. Festugiere, 'Les cinq sceaux de I'Aion alexandrin', RevuedEgyptologie 8 (1951), pp. 63-69 (supplemented with notes by E. Coche de la Ferte and J. Vandier, pp. 69-70). The Egyptian evidence surveyed by Festugiere does not furnish any dose parallel to the Aion statue as described by Epiphanius: the fact that statues of Bes Pantheos had the Uraeus (Aspis) snake depicted on the forehead, knees and feet cannot explain the cross-marks on the forehead, hands and knees of the Aion statue. The numberfive, however, may carry significance. See below. 31 A.H.B. Logan, 'The Mystery of the Five Seals: Gnostic Initiation Reconsidered', 51 (1997), pp. 188-206, adds nothing of importance for the interpretation of the VigChr Epiphanius text, which he does not cite. Logan argues that the five seals conveyed by the Gnostic revealer refer to a ritual post-baptismal chrismation with myrrh. In this connection it may be pointed out that there is evidence for an ancient prebaptismal anointing in Egypt as well as Syria; see G. Kretschmar, 'Beitrage zur Geschichte der Liturgie, inbesondere der Taufliturgie in Agypten', JahrbuchfiirLiturgik und Hymnologie 8 (1963), pp. 43-45. If it be maintained that the crosses on the Aion statue reveal Christian influence, we would have to take into account that the night/morning of 5th/6th January was the time for baptism. 32 F. Boll as cited in O. Weinreich, 'Aion in Eleusis', 19 Archivfir Relgionswissenschaft (1916-19), p. 187 n. 2. 33 Another mistake made by Bowersock which may be mentioned in this connection is to be found in his discussion of a mosaic panel from New Paphos at Cyprus (pp. 49-54; PI. 2). Here Dionysus sits on the lap of Hermes, allegedly 'very much like the child on the lap of the virgin' (p. 52). Approaching 'are persons holding out their hands in adoration,' presumably suggesting 'the iconography of the Magi approaching the Christ Child' (ibid.).Now Hermes was the god who delivered the Dionysus child to the nymphs who were to rear him, and the 'persons holding out their hands' are clearly identified (even by names!) as the nymphs who reared Dionysus. The nymphs are holding out their hands in order to receive the child, not in order to adore him. The posture of Hermes enthroned with the child on his lap cannot possibly derive from Christian iconography, for this kind of representation of the Mother of God with the Child on her lap did not come into being until after the Council of Ephesus (431)



of the Aion cult in cosmopolitanAlexandriain Epiphanius' his interpretation day is not correct: this was not an indigenous Egyptian cult influenced by Christianity;it was basically a Dionysus cult which had contracted traits from more or less similarreligions.Neither Egyptiannor Christianinfluence should be excluded; after all, Dionysiac religion, the Egyptian religion centered around Isis, Osiris and Horus, and Christianityall knew the idea of the birth and rebirth of the divine child. II The motif of the birth of the child god is quite widespread;obviously The image of the newborn child symit has a great psychologicalappeal.34 bolizes the possibilitiesof the future and, hence, paves the way for a change of personality. The image of the child is therefore charged with potential. Though a child, Dionysus was appointed by Zeus to rule over all the cosmic gods. This explains the popularity of the title, the 'New Dionysus', claimed by several rulers around the beginning of our era. The rulers also issued coins with legends such as Aion,Aeteritatis,etc., in order to suggest that their reign inaugurated a new era which would be characterizedby the joy of the golden age. Thus, the Alexandrian ruler Antoninus Pius, a 'New Dionysus',struckcoins which carrieda representation of the Phoenixthe symbol of cosmic renewal-with the legend Aion.35 Again we see that the identity of Dionysus could be connected with the name of Aion. Now, however much the image of the newborn child points to the future, it also representsa link with the concrete, specific inheritance of the past. This is the reason why Aion inscriptionsand representationscould be used to boost such an idea as that of the imperial rule of Rome: Aion, the everrenewed god, guarantees the perpetuity of Rome.36
had pronounced Mary 'God-Bearer' (Theotokos).See G.A. Wellen, in Art. 'Maria,

Vol. 3 (Rome-Freiburg-Basel-Vienna: Lexikon der christlichen Herder, Marienbild', Ikonographie, 1971), pp. 157-58. The Dionysus panel is from the fourth century C.E.; see W.A.
(Trierer Beitrage zur Altertumskunde 2; Mainz am Rhein: Daszewski, DionysosderErlbser Philipp von Zabern, 1985), pp. 46-48. 34 K. Kerenyi, 'The Primordial Child in Primordial Times', in C.G. Jung & K. Kerenyi, Essays on a Scienceof Mythology: The Myths of the Divine Child and the Divine Maiden (Bollingen Series 22; Princeton: University Press, 1949; reprinted New York: Harper, 1963). 35 R. van den Broek, The Myth of the Phoenix (EPRO 24; Leiden, Brill, 1971), pp. 70, 105, 417; PI. VI.8-9; cf VI.3, VII.9, VIII.l-9. Cf. already Holl, Aufsdtze,p. 148. 36 Bowersock (p. 27), however, regards the Aion inscriptions guaranteeing the per-



Standing at the border between the past and the future, the child is also an eminent representation of the present, the receptivity and freshness of the consciousness which is open to the here and now. The child is thus a symbol of the conscious ego. Emerging out of the night and the subterranean cave, the child god stands for the ego emerging from the dark realm of the unconscious. The dark cavern represents chaos, the state in which it is impossible to distinguish between things. The divine child brought out into the light of day signals the new creation and the moment when the human being awakens from the sleep of the unconscious. As is well known, according to an ancient and persistent tradition, Jesus was born in a cave (although there is nothing in the Gospels to support such a belief). Moreover, he was buried in a cave. Similarly, DionysusAion is taken back to his subterranean cave. From the dark cave, the god emerges again. The 'child' is therefore renatus in novam It is thus both beginning infantiam. and end, an initial and a terminal creature. The initial creature existed before man was, and the terminal creature will be when man is not. Psychologically speaking, this means that the "child" symbolizes the pre-conscious and the post-conscious essence of man. His pre-conscious essence is the unconscious state of earliest childhood; his post-conscious essence is an anticipation by analogy of life after death. In this idea the all-embracing nature of psychic wholeness is expressed. Wholeness is never comprised within the compass of the conscious mind-it includes the indefinite and indefinable extent of the unconscious as well. Wholeness, empirically speaking, is therefore of immeasurable extent, older and younger than consciousness and enfolding it in time and space. [...] Consciousnesshedged about by psychic powers, sustained or threatened or deluded by them, is the age-old experience of mankind. This experience has projected itself into the archetype of the child, which expresses man's wholeness. The 'child' is all that is abandoned and exposed and at the same time divinely powerful;the insignificant,dubious beginning, and the triumphal end.37 Department of Near Eastern Studies The University of Michigan 3074 Frieze Building, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1285

manence of the Eleusianmysteriesand the perpetualrule of Rome as 'far removed' from the Antoninecoins. 37 C.G. andtheCollective Unconscious Works9/1; London: Jung, TheArcheypes (Collected Routledge& Kegan Paul, 1968), p. 178.