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Two works by Nonnus of Panopolis survive to this day:

This is a rare example of an ancient author producing works in different (and perhaps we could even say competing) theological traditions. This is far from certain, but I am assuming Nonnus was immensely interested in Christianity, and may even have practised it while writing the Dionysiaca. The subject matter of the Dionysiaca alone could hint to an interest in Christianity1.

I have not read the Dionysiaca, and this may be an obvious question to those who have, but I'm wondering if scholars have positively identified Christian influences in the poem.


1 Nonnus lived in a time and place where he would be in constant contact with the emerging religion. Given the strong parallels between the life of Dionysus and the life of Jesus, the life of Dionysus would have been a relatively accessible Greek mythology topic for Christian audiences.

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A paper I just found by a Nicholas Kauffman entitled Nonnus’ Dionysiaca and Late-Antique Discourse on Warfare (warning, clicking on the link will download the article) has as its very first sentence

Recent work on Nonnus’ Dionysiaca has highlighted the pervasive presence of Christian themes and ideas in the epic.

The rest of the paper discusses some of these influences, and provides many citations.

Also interesting is Brill’s Companion to Nonnus of Panopolis (Google books link) which on page 88 says

As part of this larger process, Nonnus makes use of Christian allusions on all levels

In the article Mythical Violence as Christian Violence in Nonnus’ Dionsysiaca it says

Scholars of Nonnus in recent years have highlighted the extent and subtlety of the Christian resonances in the Dionysiaca

In the book Nonnus of Panopolis in Context: Poetry and Cultural Milieu in Late Antiquity with a Section on Nonnus and the Modern World (Google books link) edited by Konstantinos Spanoudakis (it seems to be a book of literary criticism) it says

The fusion of Judeo-Christianity and the classical tradition of Hellenism [...] is exemplified in Nonnus' oeuvre.

(Oeuvre just means the works of an author.)

Another article notes

The Dionysiaca is a work of rampant Paganism with hints of Christian imagery (if one looks close enough) but not a trace of Christian moralizing.

The paper Reconstructing Nonnos: a Pagan Writer and a Christian Bishop? (link is to a pdf of an abstract) also says

select episodes of the Dionysiaca [...] reveal [...] a prevalence of Christian themes

There are many more such quotes, papers, books, and articles. All in all, there seems to be a fairly clear scholarly consensus that there are indeed Christian influences in the Dionysiaca.

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