Κόρινθος: λατρεία στὴν κρήνη τῶν λύχνων

corinth-fountainoflamps

Γιὰ κάμποσες δεκαετίες, ἢ μᾶλλον γιὰ κάτι παραπάνω ἀπὸ ἕναν αἰώνα περίπου (5ο – 6ο), στὸ ἴδιο μέρος, Ἐθνικοὶ καὶ Χριστιανοὶ ἄφηναν λυχνάρια μὲ διάφορες εὐχὲς κι ἐπικλήσεις. Πόσο χριστιανοὶ ἦταν οἱ Χριστιανοὶ αὐτοὶ εἶναι δύσκολο νὰ εἰπωθεῖ λαμβάνοντας ὑπόψη τὶς εὐχές τους. Φαίνεται ὅτι οἱ Ἐθνικοὶ πίστευαν στὶς Νύμφες ποὺ κατοικοῦσαν ἐκεῖ, ἐνῶ οἱ Χριστιανοὶ ὅτι κατοικοῦσαν ἄγγελοι. Βλέπουμε ἔτσι τὶς ἀπόψεις τῶν χριστιανικῶν κατώτερων κοινωνικῶν στρωμάτων, ἀφοῦ στὸ σημεῖο ἐκεῖνο δὲν ὑπῆρχε ἐκκλησία. Πάντως, τὸ τεράστιο πλῆθος τῶν λύχνων καθιστᾶ ἀναπόφευκτο τὸ συμπέρασμα ὅτι Χριστιανοὶ καὶ μὴ Χριστιανοὶ συναντιόντουσαν στὸν (μικρὸ σὲ μέγεθος) «ἱερὸ χῶρο» (ποὺ εἶναι ἄγνωστο γιατί θεωρήθηκε τέτοιος). Τὸ γεγονὸς ὅτι ὑπάρχουν παγανιστικὰ καὶ χριστιανικὰ λυχνάρια μαζί, τὴν ἴδια ἐποχή, χωρὶς ἐνδείξεις καταστροφῶν, ἔρχεται σὲ ἀντίθεση μὲ τὶς μαρτυρίες γιὰ θρησκευτικὴ ἀντιπαλότητα καὶ μίσος γιὰ τὶς ὁποῖες κάνουν λόγο τὰ κείμενα τῶν ἀνώτερων τάξεων καὶ τῶν μορφωμένων, Χριστιανῶν καὶ Ἐθνικῶν. Πράγμα πού, μὲ τὴ σειρά του ἀμφισβητεῖ τὴν ἑρμηνεία τῆς βίας ὡς τοῦ κύριου χαρακτηριστικοῦ τῆς ἐποχῆς. Ὑπῆρξαν πολὺ βίαια ἐπεισόδια ἀλλὰ ἦταν οἱ ἐξαιρέσεις. Στὴν Κόρινθο, μετὰ τὴν κατάρρευση τῶν ναῶν ἔπειτα ἀπὸ ἐπιδρομὲς καὶ σεισμοὺς ὣς τὰ τέλη τοῦ 4ου αἰ., αὐτοὶ δὲν ξανακτίστηκαν. Οἱ Χριστιανοὶ ἔθαψαν διάφορους νεκροὺς σὲ σημεῖα τῶν γκρεμισμένων ναῶν, γιὰ νὰ ἀποτρέψουν ὅσο γινόταν τὴν συνέχιση τῆς παγανιστικῆς λατρείας σὲ αὐτούς, κι αὐτὸ πάνω-κάτω ἦταν ὅλο.

H. G. Saradi – D. Eliopoulos, Late Paganism and Christianisation in Greece, στό: L. Lavan – M. Murlyan (ἐκδ.), The Archaeology of Late Antique ‘Paganism’ [Late Antique Archaeology 7], Leiden – Boston 2011, 263 – 310:

The Fountain of the Lamps

In the area of the Gymnasium of Corinth the underground structure known as the ‘Fountain of the Lamps’ offers a rare example of the interaction of pagan and Christian beliefs, interspersed with a mixture of magic. The fountain provided water for the Hellenistic and Roman baths, with the natural cave and its fountain located only 200 m west of the Asklepieion. This bath complex was abandoned towards the end of the 4th c., after its destruction by an earthquake in 375 or by the Visigoths in 396. From then on until the final collapse of the bath and the final abandonment of the site in the middle or in the third quarter of the 6th c., the Fountain of the Lamps was used for a cult with magical nuances. Four thousand lamps, half of them intact, and four lead tablets with defixiones have been found deposited there; the coins date from the mid 5th c. to the mid or late 6th c. These lamps were decorated with the figure of Eros—a very popular deity at the time— Christian crosses and figures of the Old Testament. The inscriptions on four of the lamps have generated much discussion regarding their correct reading and their content. One is inscribed ‘angels who dwell on the waters’. The cross at the beginning leaves no doubt that it was Christian. The worship of angels was condemned by the 35th Canon of the Council of Laodicaea in 363 as ‘concealed paganism’ (κεκρυμμένη εἰδωλολατρεία), which threatened with anathema those who abandon the Church and invoke the angels. In the early 5th c., Theodoretus, bishop of Cyrrhus, mentions the pathos of the worship of angels in Phrygia and Pisidia. The worship of angels was considered parallel to the worship of the Nymphs. Another lamp has a magical invocation (‘I invoke you by the great god Sabaoth, by Michael, by Gabriel, in order that you do . . .’), and another one has the Christian invocation ‘Be merciful to your servant . . .’ Another mentions the demons that need to be pacified (eukataktoi), along with a reference to γένος Θ(εοῦ) Ἰη(σοῦ) and the dedication of the slave of the Ὕψιστος. Four lead tablets have also been found. On one is inscribed an invocation to the Nymphs; on another there is reference to Abrasax, often invoked in magical spells and represented in the form of a serpent, symbol of the underworld. Rothaus draws attention to a similar cult at Mamre in Palestine, as described by Sozomen. There too, Jews, pagans and Christians celebrated the same festival at the same time and lamps were deposited according to the pagan custom. The votive offerings in the fountain at Corinth show the interaction of Christian beliefs, pagan cults and Jewish influences with a mixture of magic.96 The volume of lamps found at the Fountain of the Lamps in Corinth may indicate that, as at Mamre, there too a cult of people of various religious beliefs was operating.

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