Dignas, Beate, and Kai Trampedach, eds. 2008. Practitioners of the Divine: Greek Priests and Religious Figures from Homer to Heliodorus. Hellenic Studies Series 30. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_DignasB_and_TrampedachK_eds.Practitioners_of_the_Divine.2008.
8. An Egyptian Priest at Delphi: Calasiris as theios anēr in Heliodorus’ Aethiopica*
1. The Discovery of the Priest in the Greek Novel
2. The Poetics of Reading in Heliodorus’ Aethiopica
a) Calasiris as priest: the perception from the outside
Cnemon can immediately identify the stranger as a priest by his long hair. Obviously, his awareness is based on his Greek knowledge of priests. Yet even apart from Cnemon’s Greek knowledge, the appearance of the hair and clothes are frequently mentioned as important characteristics of priests, who thus form a clearly defined and identifiable group, as far as their outward appearance is concerned. Hence, Heliodorus depicts the priest as a type which is easily recognizable in any context and which even surpasses national borders.  Indeed, it is striking that in his first description of Calasiris through Cnemon, Heliodorus does not follow Herodotus’ well-known depiction of Egyptian priests, a near topos which nonetheless occurs frequently elsewhere in the novel, but prefers a strongly un-Herodotean image: while Herodotus writes that “everywhere else, priests of the gods wear their hair long; in Egypt they are shaven” (2.36) because of strict purification rules,  Heliodorus amends this representation, ascribing Greek traits to Calasiris, yet intending that he assume a certain universality. Thus, both the Greek Cnemon and Calasiris’ own estranged Egyptian sons at Memphis recognize Calasiris as a priest because of his outward appearance:
By establishing a type of priest whose phusis is universally recognizable, the novel not only establishes a constant which guides a Greek reader through unfamiliar terrain during the fictional journey from Greece to Egypt,  but it also alerts the reader to the religious dimension: by being reminded of Calasiris’ identity as a priest, the reader is directed towards the larger religious content of the plot, which is shaped by a priest as the representative of the divine will and who therefore seems to be especially sacred. 
The authority of a priest seems to derive entirely from his religious profession, whereas neither his social nor his political position is taken into account. No political functions are ascribed to either Calasiris or Chariclea, nor are they singled out because of any notable descent—in fact, their background is scarcely mentioned; only their priesthood in the polis is important.  For Heliodorus, it is the profession alone which brings honor to the individual. Thyamis can justify his forthcoming marriage to Chariclea, who is completely unknown to him, thus:
b) Calasiris as philosopher: his self-perception
Cnemon may not observe anything here which is particularly odd, but this figure will strike the reader as being at least a little ambivalent. The long hair, dignified beard, and Greek attire are strongly suggestive of the type of a Greek philosopher, the more so as Calasiris walks up and down the river bank like a peripatetic,  pondering and lost in thought. The ambivalent significance of his outward appearance will lead the reader immediately to view Calasiris not merely as a priest but also as a philosopher. As the reader steps back from the perspective of Cnemon and more critically evaluates the latter’s account of Calasiris—and if one accepts Calasiris’ self-perception as philosopher, explorer, and wise man—this double identification will appear justified. Although at several points Calasiris mentions the close association of scholarship with the priesthood, it is scholarship in which he and the reader are especially interested. Thus he explains his journey to Delphi:
Here, Calasiris is partly motivated by religion, but contact with philosophers proves to be the more important interest. His position in Delphi is assured by an oracle from Apollo, but he devotes only part of his time to religious activities:
Emphasizing the close—and for an Egyptian priest, typical—connection between priesthood and scholarship, Calasiris at the same time undermines this relation by revealing fragments of secret knowledge known only to priests, thereby violating their group identity. The longer we listen to Calasiris, the weaker becomes the religious aura that surrounded the priest of Isis at the beginning of the novel and in the portrayal of him by Cnemon. Moreover, in the course of his story (and his transformation into a scholar), Calasiris does not merely qualify his earlier claim to priestly divine inspiration by classifying science as an art of prognostication;  in fact, the strongest proof of his own divinity, the correct interpretation of the oracle for Theagenes and Chariclea (a riddle that nobody in Delphi, not even the local oracle priest, could solve), turns out to be nothing more than the crafty invention of a clever man with sufficient experience in life to unravel the prediction without the aid of the gods. 
In this respect, the comparison between Calasiris and Charicles is illuminating, since Charicles is expressly presented as a Greek priest. He is associated with only one deity (Apollo) and one sanctuary (Delphi), performing the rituals there as they are prescribed. He has not received any special education, which was neither characteristic of nor a precondition for a Greek priesthood.  Schooling, however, becomes the most important criterion of a priest, especially in a novel which abandons all other features which would distinguish a priest. Hence, apart from providing the opportunity to witness the activity of an Egyptian priest in Greece, the confrontation between Charicles, the typical priest, and Calasiris, who is independent of both place and cult, encourages the reader to question familiar notions of the Greek priest and to look at him through Egyptian spectacles, from the point of view of Calasiris, for whom education is the main criterion even for priests. In this respect, two points are particularly interesting.
Since, according to Calasiris, true priests reject the use of magic, Charicles cannot be one.
Hence, Charicles is systematically dismantled before the eyes of the reader and shown to be uneducated, unqualified, and unsuited. He simply cannot compete with Calasiris, and is therefore left in Delphi while Calasiris takes over the responsibility for Chariclea and Theagenes. Calasiris’ wisdom and knowledge of human nature (the two qualities which enable him to interpret the oracle) make him an appropriate guide for the protagonists. As such, he can be, and desires to be, acknowledged less as a priest than as a wise man, and the figures in the novel increasingly recognize him as such: Cnemon, Theagenes, and Chariclea repeatedly address him as sophōtate (wisest) or as sophos anēr (wise man),  and thus lead the reader towards the identity of the divine man that—as a concept—seems to be hidden behind the figure of Calasiris.
c) Calasiris as theios anēr: the reader’s perception
3. The Aethiopica as a Program of Education for a theios anēr