Recently I posted a guest blog by NT scholar Dennis MacDonald, which discusses the possible use of Homeric mimesis in the canonical Gospels, particularly the Gospel of Mark. Mimesis of earlier literature is a common literary technique found in the genre of Greek popular-novelistic biography, which I argue is the genre that the Gospels most resemble in Hellenistic literature. Even if one does not grant that the Gospels imitate Homer, however, it is still widely accepted among NT scholars that the Gospels imitate the language, tropes, and characters of the Greek Septuagint, and thus model Jesus off of OT figures such as Moses, David, Elijah, and Elisha.
The same is true for the Life of Aesop, which is a philosophical biography blended with heavy novelistic elements. In the biography Aesop is modeled off of famous Greek philosophers, such as Diogenes and Socrates. In the latter case, a clear echo of Socrates is heard in the Life of Aesop (25) when the philosopher Xanthos asks him, “What do you know how to do?,” to which Aesop replies, “Nothing at all.” When Xanthos asks, “Why do you say nothing,” one of his students responds, “No man alive knows everything. That’s why he said he knew nothing.” This imitates Socrates’ declaration in Plato’s Apology (29b), where he states that he knows only one thing: that he knows nothing.
I likewise discuss in this earlier post how Alexander is modeled off of Odysseus in the Alexander Romance (1.21), when he drives out Philip’s wedding banquet (as Philip was in the process of marrying another woman than his mother), which mimics Odysseus driving out the suitors from his house in the Odyssey. Below I will discuss another instance of Homeric mimesis in the Alexander Romance, which this time imitates the cycle of the Trojan War.