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New Heroes in Antiquity

New Heroes in Antiquity

From Achilles to Antinoos

Christopher P. Jones

ISBN 9780674035867

Publication date: 01/01/2010

Heroes and heroines in antiquity inhabited a space somewhere between gods and humans. In this detailed, yet brilliantly wide-ranging analysis, Christopher Jones starts from literary heroes such as Achilles and moves to the historical record of those exceptional men and women who were worshiped after death. He asks why and how mortals were heroized, and what exactly becoming a hero entailed in terms of religious action and belief. He proves that the growing popularity of heroizing the dead—fallen warriors, family members, magnanimous citizens—represents not a decline from earlier practice but an adaptation to new contexts and modes of thought. The most famous example of this process is Hadrian’s beloved, Antinoos, who can now be located within an ancient tradition of heroizing extraordinary youths who died prematurely. This book, wholly new and beautifully written, rescues the hero from literary metaphor and vividly restores heroism to the reality of ancient life.


  • This is an outstandingly interesting and important work about ancient Greek 'heroes,' undoubtedly a fresh and original contribution to the literature. It is beautifully written--a real pleasure to read. I devoured it at one sitting.

    —Simon Hornblower, University College of London


  • Christopher P. Jones is George Martin Lane Professor of the Classics and of History, Emeritus, at Harvard University.

Book Details

  • 144 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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