Abstract

In this philological study we establish and reckon with the fact that the name Carpocrates was exceedingly rare and strange in antiquity. The rarity, we argue, was due to the name being a variant spelling or (purposeful) misspelling of the Greco-Egyptian deity Harpokrates. We also show how bizarre and even comical the name would have sounded to Hellenephone audiences. Greek parents, so far as the evidence suggests, were not naming their sons Carpocrates. We further explain how both the rarity and strangeness of the name functioned as a polemical weapon in the hands of some early Christian writers.

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