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date: 27 November 2022



  • Robert Parker


Was for late antiquity the personification and god of indefinitely extending time. In early Greek αἰών means ‘life’ (often in the sense of ‘vital force’), ‘whole lifetime’, ‘generation’. It was perhaps through application to the kosmos, the lifetime of which is never-ending, that the word acquired the sense of eternity (cf. Pl. Ti. 37d; Arist. Cael. 279a23–8). There is no good evidence for cult of Aion in the Classical or Hellenistic periods. The transition from philosophy to religious practice is first suggested by a statue of Aion dedicated at *Eleusis (at some time in the 1st cent. bce or ce) by three brothers ‘for the power of Rome and continuation of the mysteries’ (Syll.3 1125): Aion is celebrated as ‘ever remaining by divine nature the same’ and closely linked with the single unchanging kosmos. Numerous developments occurred in the imperial period: Aion was identified with the power ruling the kosmos (so regularly in the Corpus Hermeticum, and sometimes in magical papyri, see magic), with the sun (magical papyri), perhaps with the eternity of Rome and the emperors (see aeternitas), and much else besides; in a festival at *Alexandria (1), probably of late foundation, an image was brought out of the inner sanctuary of the Koreion, with the announcement that ‘the Maiden has brought forth Aion’ (Epiph.


  • Greek Myth and Religion

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