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Aeneas Αἰνείας

(761 words)

Author(s): K. Dowden
I. Name Aeneas, already a prominent Trojan hero in Homer’s Iliad, is best known to us as the central figure of Virgil’s Aeneid, whose task it is to create the Roman identity and destiny. His name occurs as that of the paralysed man cured by Peter at Acts 9.33–34. The name appears to be Greek, based on the root for ‘praise’ (αἰν-). The form Aineas (as at Acts 9.33), as opposed to Aineias, is originally the Doric dialect form according to Pape-Benseler 1884 s.v.; the Latin is in either case Aeneas.…

Perseus Περσεύς

(872 words)

Author(s): K. Dowden
I. Name Perseus, the name of the slayer of the Gorgon Medousa and the rescuer of Andromeda, is also the name of the elder son and heir of Philip V of Macedon (ruled 179–168 bce). His defeat by the Romans at Pydna, which ended the Third Macedonian War (171–68 bce), is referred to at 1 Macc.

Thessalos Θεσσαλός

(722 words)

Author(s): K. Dowden
I. Name Thessalos (‘Thessalian’) is the eponymous hero of the Thessalians, the inhabitants of Thessaly in northern Greece. His name may be found in Thessalonike (modern Saloniki), the second city of modern Greece and already a place of importance by the time of Acts. II. Identity The Greeks often traced the beginnings of a tribe o…

Menelaos Μενέλαος

(836 words)

Author(s): K. Dowden
I. Name The name of Menelaos, the husband of Helen, is borne by the emissary of the hellenising high priest Jason at


(646 words)

Author(s): K. Dowden
I. Name Quirinus, a Roman god progressively identified with Romulus, occurs as a theophoric element in the name of P. Sulpicius Quirinius at Luke 2.2. II. Identity It is difficult to obtain any accurate understanding of archaic Roman religion (say, before 509 bce) and Quirinus is even by these standards unclear. His festival is obviously the Quirinalia on 17th February, but what happened there is known neither to us nor, apparently, to Ovid. For some reason his name links with the title of the Roman citizens in assembly, the ‘Quirites’.…

Silvanus aediculae

(323 words)

Author(s): K. Dowden
I. Name Silvanus is used in Latin for the Greek name Silas (or vice-versa). This has the effect of remodelling the name into a theonym. The name is borne by a distinguished Christian in Acts and some of the letters. II. Identity III. Identity in the Bible Silvanus is the Latin name in the Vulgate of the Greek Silas (itself representing an Aramaic name)—the leading Christian brother mentioned at Acts 15–18. Strikingly, even the Greek text names him as ‘Silvanus’ at 1 Thess. 1.1 and 2 Thess. 1.1 (and 1 Pet. 5.12, unless that is a different Silvanus), suggesting the deliberate adopt…

Patroklos Πάτροκλος

(472 words)

Author(s): K. Dowden
I. Name The name of Patroklos, the close companion of Achilles in the Trojan War, is given to the father of Nikanor, the high-ranking Greek commander of a force of 20,000 men with instructions to put down the revolt of Judas Maccabaeus ( 2 Macc. 8.12). II. Identity From the perspective of Trojan War mythology, Patroklos would appear to be a figure developed by Homer in his Iliad to anticipate the death of Achilles’ close friend Antilochos and Achilles’ own death—a later part of the story of Troy which Homer does not himself tell. If this is so, it would explain…

Jason Ἰάσων

(990 words)

Author(s): K. Dowden
I. Name The name of Jason, the hero who led the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece, is borne by several persons in 2 Macc and in the NT. II. Identity The name ‘Iason’ appears to refer to ‘healing’ (ἰάομαι), something for which one might naturally turn in cult to a hero. Correspondingly, Pindar referred to a myth that the centaur Cheiron taught Jason medicine ( Pyth. 4:119 and scholiast). Yet one cannot help suspecting that this is folk-etymology, given his father ‘Aison’ and a possible tribal name and eponym ‘Iasos’ (speculatively, Dowden 1989:122). He receives cult at Abde…

Skythes Σκύθης

(617 words)

Author(s): K. Dowden
I. Name Skythes (‘Skythian’) is the eponymous hero of the Skythians, an Indo-European people to the north of the Greek world. Skythians themselves have a mythic quality, occurring in 2-3-4 Macc. and Col. 3.11 as a byword for barbarism. Otherwise the name only occurs in the placename Skythopolis ( 1-2 Macc.). II. Identity For the standard Greek use of eponymous heroes to account for the beginnings of a tribe, see Thessalos. The Skythians are a rather different case, as …