Papers of BAS. Humanities and Social Sciences

Vol. 8, 2021, No. 2

The basilisk:

An episode from the Historia de preliis Alexandri Magni

Vanya Lozanova-Stancheva

Abstract. The paper aims to analyse the episode about the fight of Alexander the Great with the sinister, poisoning the air with his breath and eyes basilisk in the medieval tradition about the Romance of Alexander, respectively the Historia de preliis Alexandri Magni (Rezension J3).

However, the tracing of the literary tradition in the Latin West unequivocally suggests the functioning of at least three basic variants of the mythic-and-literary narrative, which presupposes the multiplication of the sources and its transmission. Variations in the story of Alexander and the basilisk sometimes indicate a distancing and alienation from the paradigm of the Rezension J3.

If the oldest α-Rezension of the Pseudo-Callisthenes’ literary core dates no later than AD 200, we are most likely faced with a later interpolation of a text that functioned independently of it, but dating back to an earlier epoch, not later than the middle of the 4th century, and probably before that. This would hypothetically outline the chronological boundaries and possible transmissions of the episode with the meeting of Alexander the Great and the basilisk as an integral part of the landscape of the Otherworld on the way to the “land of the blessed” and the end of the world passing through the “land of twilight”, where miracles can happen and fantastic monsters meet.

Keywords: Historia de preliis Alexandri Magni, Rezension J3, Archipresbyter Leo, basilisk, Itinerarium Alexandri


Papers of BAS. Humanities and Social Sciences

Vol. 7, 2020, No. 2

Emperor Constantine I the Great

between Byzantion and Constantinople

Vanya Lozanova-Stancheva

Abstract. The paper examines the religious, ideological, and political manifestations of Emperor Constantine I the Great during the consecration ceremonies of the city named after him, which have been the subject of heated discussions and contradictory interpretations. The focus is on the policy of tolerating and encouraging local cults in Byzantion, which Constantine clearly preferred and pursued.

Historical sources can be grouped into at least two groups organized around the events related to the consecration of Constantinople in May 330 AD, in which two remarkable ritual and cult centres stand out:

1) The Constantine Forum: the consecration of the solar statue of Emperor Constantine at the newly constructed Constantine Forum on the famous porphyry column the day before or on the first day of the 40-day celebrations, accompanied by numerous additional ceremonies and rituals;

2) The Hippodrome: The ceremony of the Hippodrome on the first day of the 40-day celebrations in which the gilded xoanon of Constantine, holding a small sculpture of Tyche on the city in his right hand, was carried in the “Helios Chariot”.

In the worship of the Emperor Constantine I the Great during the consecration ceremonies of the Constantinople two important religious ideas were intertwined as central:

- Reviving and incorporating the ancient mythological tradition of the founding Byzantion in the new context and traditions of Constantinople;

- The specific role of Zeuxippus, the central solar deity of the Thracian population in the city identified with Helios / Zeus Helios / Zeus Hippios, in this religious-political context.

With this public behaviour, perhaps the emperor sought a balance between the traditional urban religion and local cult practices, on the one hand, and those of the imperial cult of the ruler or even his personal cult, on the other.

Keywords: Emperor Constantine I the Great, Byzantion, Constantinople, Zeuxippus, Tyche of the city