Heliodorus was the author of the Aethiopica, the latest and longest Greek novel to survive from antiquity. In his work, Heliodorus claims to be a Phoenician from Emesa, but there are good reasons against treating this as an authoritative autobiographical statement. The Aethiopica tells the adventures of Charicleia, the white daughter of the black queen and king of Ethiopia. Her mother abandons her, and she is brought up by foster-fathers in Ethiopia and Delphi. There she falls in love with the young Greek Theagenes, with whom she travels via Egypt to Ethiopia. They are almost sacrificed to the local gods, but Charicleia’s parents eventually recognise her. The protagonists become priests and marry. The novel is a narratologically ambitious work that draws on the structure of the Odyssey (in mediis rebus beginning, embedded heterodiegetic narratives) and takes these devices to a whole new level. A wide range of topics play important roles in the Aethiopica, such as religion, multiculturalism, identity, and epistemology.
The religious syncretism associated with the Commagenian dynasty, combining Greek and Iranian elements, is a phenomenon linked exclusively to king Antiochus I (c. 69–36bce). Whereas its Greek component reflected contemporary paradigms, the Iranian one was constructed by combining supposed tradition with elements drawn from contemporary religious practice.The syncretistic approach is best identifiable in three male deities, known from numerous inscriptions. Each of their names combines one to three Greek elements with a single Iranian one into the following theokrasiai: Zeus-Oromasdes, Apollon-Mithras-Helios-Hermes, and Artagnes-Herakles-Ares.1In his inscriptions Antiochus essentially dedicates himself to the worship of all the gods. But at least one of his early texts refers to two named deities: Artemis Diktynna and Apollon Epekoos.2 Some years later, when the three syncretistic gods start to appear instead of those, they occur beside another named deity, a goddess sometimes called Hera Teleia (e.g. A 251), and sometimes All-nourishing Commagene (e.g. N 56f.