Nonnos Of Panopolis (B.C. 400)


A composer of the Dionysiaka, the longest epic in Greek literature, in forty-eight books. In it he depicts, in hexameters, the story of Dionysus from his birth to his apotheosis, dealing in particular detail with his expedition to India. He transforms the Callimachean form of the hexameter into the Nonnian, which can be found in other writers down to the seventh century. While the Dionysiaka shows Nonnos as a syncretistic pagan, his paraphrase of John’s Gospel in Nonnian hexameters ( Patrologia Graeca 5641) is probably to be regarded as a work of Nonnos’ old age, after his to Christianity.

Nonnos is the most important epic poet not only of the fifth century but of the imperial period. He influenced a series of poets, not all of whom were born in his native town of Panopolis. Among his followers were PAMPREPIUS OF PANOPOLIS, Triphiodoros of Panopolis (probably from the second half of the fifth century), Colluthus of Lycopolis (in the time of Emperor Anastasius I [491-518]), and CHRISTODOROS OF COPTOS (cf. Krause, 1985, col. 46).


  • Keydell, R. “Nonnos von Panopolis.” In Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, Vol. 33, cols. 904-920. Stuttgart, 1936.
  • . Nonni Panopolitani Dionysiaca. Berlin, 1959.
  • Krause, M. “Ägypten II (literaturgeschichtlich).” In Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum, Supp. I, cols. 14-51, 68-88. Stuttgart, 1985.
  • Peek, W. Lexikon zu den Dionysiaka des Nonnos. Hildesheim and Berlin, 1968.
  • Simon, E. “Nonnos und das Elfenbeinkästchen Veroli.” Jahrbuch des Deutschen archäologischen Instituts 79 (1964):279-336. Wifstrand, A. Von Kallimachos zu Nonnos. Lund, 1933.