Xenophon’s Ephesiaka gives an account of the connectivity in the ancient Roman world as seen in the characters’ adventures in the novel. The major persons in the work are Anthia and Habrocomes who move from one city to another. In Book I, the two characters’ love begin in the city of Ephesus (Tagliabue 9). Their separation is triggered by a prophecy that the two will undergo travails to help cure them from their miserable suffering. This marks the onset of their journey across the ancient Mediterranean. Anthia and Habrocomes are sent to Egypt to be safe from the prophesied travails. They encounter other problems on their way, which leads to their sending to Tyre. For the most part, the characters’ movement from one region to another can be attributed to a number of factors including escape from religious persecution, slavery, slave trade, wars, and intra-marriages.
From the adventures of the persons in the novel, one can imagine the mechanisms through which various forms of Christianity moved around the ancient Mediterranean. The inception of this particular religion was in the Roman Empire, and it came about as a part of a Jewish reform movement. Several Jews were involved in the spreading of messages about the coming of a Messiah. From this, Christians based their argument of the coming of a Messiah who will bring the last judgment on humans. This and other ideologies and forms of Christianity later moved around the ancient Mediterranean. One of the mechanisms that facilitated this movement was the persecution of Christian believers and those preaching about the coming of the Messiah. With the oppression of staunch Christians in one city, they were forced to move to other places where they continued spreading the message of the coming of the Messiah and other related teachings. This resembles the situation in Xenophon’s Ephesiaka in which people placed from one city to another not because of religious persecution but because of oppression for their love for others (Tagliabue 10). In addition to escapes from the issue, the movement of various forms of Christianity around the ancient Mediterranean was triggered by the need to convert non-believers.
The issue mentioned above can be seen in the description of Paul’s foundation of an early Christian community in Acts 18. The chapter talks about a man named Paul who lived with the Jews and tried to convince them about the coming of the Messiah. Paul proclaimed to them that the Messiah was Jesus. In his mission, he faced resistance and opposition from the Jews who took him before a tribunal and argued that “he was persuading them to worship God in ways that are contrary to the law” (Acts 18: 13). Paul faced religious persecution that forced him to sail to Syria. This also paved the way for his movement to other towns such as Cenchreae, Ephesus, Caesarea, Jerusalem, Galatia, Phrygia, and others. Other than escaping from the oppression, he saw the need to convert nonbelievers in other regions and have them embrace Christianity and its teachings.
The Apostle Pole played a key role in writing many books in the New Testament with the messages and teachings in the books coming from small communities in the ancient Roman Empire. Their revelation is that Paul and Christians’ focus on what becoming a Christian requires. Issues concerning the relationship between Christianity and Judaism, and between Christianity and the Roman government have been interesting topics to discuss.
Tagliabue, Aldo C. F. Xenophon’s Ephesiaca: A Paraliterary Love-Story from the Ancient World. 2017.