Nonnus on Tyre and Beirut


1 Introduction


2 Nonnus on Tyre (Dionysiaca 40)

The Tyrian section of Nonnus’ epic shows many strong continuities with earlier Phoenician traditions: there are elements of theogony (cf. Sidonian theogony), a focus on gods as inventors (as in Philo of Byblos), and Heracles (Phoenician Melqart) is still the most important indigenous god, as already in the time of Herodotus.


3 Nonnus on Beirut (Dionysiaca 41–43)

A place which Nonnus especially adored was the city of Beirut, Bērytós or Beróē, as he calls it. In the three books devoted to it, the poet incorporates many Phoenician traditions, all eleganty woven into a Greek mythological framework, while at the same time celebrating the city’s Romanness, as a center of Latin learning and Roman legal studies.

As in book 40, the account of the city’s origins is enmeshed in cosmogony, a testiment to the enduring importance of theogonic traditions in the region; in fact, the great antiquity of Beirut is parallelled in Philo of Byblos. In addition, Nonnus locates Aphrodite and Adonis in Beirut, and tells a myth explaining why Poseidon is its patron.

Old Myth: 41.51–154
New myth: 41.155–etc.