Bouttios and Late Antique Antioch undertakes the exciting, if laborious, task of assembling clues and piecing back together a book that has disappeared from our library of Greek and Roman works. But it does not merely add another author to the bibliography of antiquity and place him in fourth-century Antioch. It shows how the gods could be reduced to historical characters, the powerful goddess of luck turned into a pitiful victim of virgin sacrifice, and respected emperors defamed as despots—and, in sum, how the writing of history could be exploited for partisan purposes. We see how people in what we consider the distant past thought about their own history, and how they discussed momentous political and social issues across a seemingly insurmountable divide in a period of existential crisis.
Garstad’s volume offers a historically coherent and lucid analysis, full of interesting insights and ideas. Bouttios and Late Antique Antioch is therefore a contribution of great relevance not only for those who wish to study Bouttios, but also for anyone who deals with fourth-century Christian literature and historiography and with the broader religious and literary polemic of the Constantinian era.
Benjamin Garstad is Professor of Classics at MacEwan University.