Anagnostou-Laoutides Abstract Herakles in Byzantium

Eva Anagnostou-Laoutides

Herakles in Byzantium: a (Neo)Platonic Perspective

Taking a start from the recent work of Siniossoglou (2011), Anagnostou-Laoutides examines the Neoplatonic and Stoic profiles of Herakles in the Byzantine East, where he influences the tradition of the mixed-race hero Digenis Akritas who in his final exploit fights against death, a fight which is considered to be the pinnacle of Byzantine philosophy.

By closely reading the references to Herakles in the works of Michael Psellos, Plethon Gemistos, Demetrius Kydones, Maximus Planudes and Maximus Confessor in relation to Herakles’ descriptions by Plotinus and Proclus the paper argues that Stoicism was employed by Byzantine authors as a practical guide and even as a preparation for an ecstatic (=Platonic) union with God which remained the preferred way of experiencing the divine in the East – especially in the case of asceticism.