Dio of Prusa, Or. 61, Chryseis, or Reading Homeric Silence

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Dio of Prusa, the itinerant orator and moralist of the late first century C.E., is a key figure in the history of ancient Homeric reception. His corpus, like that of many Imperial writers, is filled with Homeric citations and allusions, but it also features an encomiastic essay to the poet – On Homer ( Or . 53) – dialogues that use Homer to demonstrate the good ruler’s proper behaviour – the second Kingship Oration (2) and Agamemnon (56) – and other short essays on Homeric topics, such as Nestor (57) and On Homer and Socrates (55). He is perhaps best known, however, for his notorious anti-Homeric tour de force, the Trojan Oration (11), in which he demonstrates through a close reading of the Iliad that Homer had lied and that the Trojans had actually won the war. Along with Philostratus’ Heroicus and the ‘Troy Romances’ of Dictys and Dares, it is probably the best representative of the Homeric revisionism in vogue during the Roman Empire, and its mixture of audacity, erudition, irony and (feigned?) outrage in the service of overturning tradition has baffled, frustrated and delighted readers ever since.


Earlier versions were presented at the 2001 APA Annual Meeting in Dallas, for the panel ‘Allegory and Interpretation of Homer in the Second Sophistic’ at the 2005 Society for Biblical Literature Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, and at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2007.

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David Bourget & David Chalmers


Cambridge University Press


Cambridge, England

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Classical Quarterly

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