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Pagans and Christians in late antique Rome: conflict, competition, and coexistence in the fourth century
 9781107110304, 9781107527034

Table of contents :
List of Illustrations page ix
Biographies of Authors xi
Acknowledgments xv
Introduction 1
Rita Lizzi Testa, Michele Renee Salzman, and Marianne Sághy
Part I Senatorial Politics and
Religious Conflict
1 Constantine and the Roman Senate: Confl ict, Cooperation,
and Concealed Resistance 11
Michele Renee Salzman
2 Beyond Pagans and Christians: Politics and Intra-Christian
Confl ict in the Controversy over the altar of Victory 46
Robert R. Chenault
3 Were Pagans Afraid to Speak Their Minds in a Christian
World? The Correspondence of Symmachus 64
Alan Cameron
Part II The Construction of New Religious
Identities
4 Christians and the Invention of Paganism in the Late
Roman Empire 115
Thomas Jürgasch
5 Late Antique Divi and Imperial Priests of the Late
Fourth and Early Fifth Centuries 139
Douglas Boin
6 Artis heu magicis : The Label of Magic in Fourth-Century
Confl icts and Disputes 162
Maijastina Kahlos
7 Crowd Behavior in Late Antique Rome 178
Daniëlle Slootjes
Part III Pagans and Christians:
Coexistence and Competition
Section A. Pagans and Religious Practices in
Christian Rome
8 Reinterpreting the Cult of Mithras 197
Jonas Bjørnebye
9 Napkin Art: Carmina contra paganos and the Diff erence
Satire Made in Fourth-Century Rome 213
Dennis E. Trout
10 Poetry and Pagans in Late Antique Rome: The Case of
the Senator “Converted from the Christian Religion to
Servitude to the Idols” 232
Neil McLynn
11 Professiones Gentiliciae : The Collegia of Rome between
Paganism and Christianity 251
Francesca Diosono
Section B. Death and the Afterlife
12 Reinterpreting “Pagans” and “Christians” from Rome’s
Late Antique Mortuary Evidence 273
Nicola Denzey Lewis
13 On the Form and Function of Constantine’s
Circiform Funerary Basilicas in Rome 291
Monica Hellström
14 Romanae gloria plebis : Bishop Damasus and
the Traditions of Rome 314
Marianne Sághy
15 Storytelling and Cultural Memory in the Making:
Celebrating Pagan and Christian Founders of Rome 330
Gitte Lønstrup Dal Santo
Section C. Reading Religious Iconography as Evidence for
Pagan–Christian Relations
16 Rome and Imagery in Late Antiquity: Perception
and Use of Statues 345
Caroline Michel d’Annoville
17 What to Do with Sacra Antiqua ? A Reinterpretation
of the Sculptures from S. Martino ai Monti in Rome 360
Silviu Anghel
18 Myth and Salvation in the Fourth Century:
Representations of Hercules in Christian Contexts 379
Levente Nagy
Concluding Remarks: Vrbs Roma between Pagans and Christians 401
Rita Lizzi Testa
Index 411

Citation preview

PAGANS AND CHRISTIANS IN LATE ANTIQUE ROME This book sheds new light on the religious and consequently social changes taking place in late antique Rome. The essays in this volume argue that the once-dominant notion of pagan–Christian religious conflict cannot fully explain the texts and artifacts, as well as the social, religious, and political realities of late antique Rome. Together, the chapters demonstrate that the fourth-century city was a more fluid, vibrant, and complex place than was previously thought. Competition between diverse groups in Roman society  – be it pagans with Christians, Christians with Christians, or pagans with pagans – did create tensions and hostility, but it also allowed for coexistence and reduced the likelihood of overt violent, physical conflict. Competition and coexistence, along with conflict, emerge as still central paradigms for those who seek to understand the transformations of Rome from the age of Constantine through the early fifth century. Michele Renee Salzman is Professor of Ancient History at the University of California, Riverside. She is the author of numerous articles and books on late antiquity and recently published The Letters of Symmachus: Book 1 (including a translation with Michael Roberts, 2011). Marianne Sághy is Associate Professor in the Medieval Studies Department at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. She has published several books and articles in Hungarian, English and French on Damasus of Rome and on late antique hagiography. Rita Lizzi Testa is Professor of Roman History at the Università di Perugia (Italy), a member of the International Advisory Board of “CUA Studies in Early Christianity,” and of the Advisory Board for the NAPS-Christianity in Late Antiquity Series. She is author of several books, numerous articles, and editor of many volumes.

PAGANS AND CHRISTIANS IN LATE ANTIQUE ROME Conflict, Competition, and Coexistence in the Fourth Century

 Edited by MICHELE RENEE SALZMAN University of California, Riverside

MARIANNE SÁGHY Central European University, Budapest

RITA LIZZI TESTA Università di Perugia

University Printing House, Cambridge CB2 8BS, United Kingdom One Liberty Plaza, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10006, USA 477 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne,VIC 3207, Australia 314–321, 3rd Floor, Plot 3, Splendor Forum, Jasola District Centre, New Delhi – 110025, India 79 Anson Road, #06-04/06, Singapore 079906 Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge. It furthers the University’s mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest international levels of excellence. www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9781107110304 © Cambridge University Press 2016 This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published 2016 Printed and bound in Great Britain by Clays Ltd, Elcograf S.p.A. A catalog record for this publication is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Pagans and Christians in late antique Rome : conflict, competition, and coexistence in the fourth century / edited by Michele Renee Salzman, University of California, Riverside, Marianne Sághy, Central European University, Rita Lizzi Testa, Università di Perugia. pages cm Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-107-11030-4 (hardback) – ISBN 978-1-107-52703-4 (pbk.) 1. Rome – Religion. I. Salzman, Michele Renee, editor. BL803.P34 2015 200.9′015–dc23 2015021999 ISBN ISBN

978-1-107-11030-4 Hardback 978-1-107-52703-4 Paperback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party Internet Web sites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such Web sites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

CONTENTS

List of Illustrations Biographies of Authors Acknowledgments

page ix xi xv

Introduction Rita Lizzi Testa, Michele Renee Salzman, and Marianne Sághy

Part I 1

2

3

4

5

Senatorial Politics and Relig ious Conflict

Constantine and the Roman Senate: Conflict, Cooperation, and Concealed Resistance Michele Renee Salzman Beyond Pagans and Christians: Politics and Intra-Christian Conflict in the Controversy over the altar of Victory Robert R. Chenault Were Pagans Afraid to Speak Their Minds in a Christian World? The Correspondence of Symmachus Alan Cameron

Part II

1

11

46

64

The Construction of New Relig ious Identities

Christians and the Invention of Paganism in the Late Roman Empire Thomas Jürgasch Late Antique Divi and Imperial Priests of the Late Fourth and Early Fifth Centuries Douglas Boin

v

115

139

vi 6

7

Contents Artis heu magicis: The Label of Magic in Fourth-Century Conflicts and Disputes Maijastina Kahlos Crowd Behavior in Late Antique Rome Daniëlle Slootjes

162 178

Part III Pagans and Christians: Coexistence and Competition Section A.

8 9

10

11

12

13

14

15

Pagans and Religious Practices in Christian Rome Reinterpreting the Cult of Mithras Jonas Bjørnebye Napkin Art: Carmina contra paganos and the Difference Satire Made in Fourth-Century Rome Dennis E. Trout Poetry and Pagans in Late Antique Rome: The Case of the Senator “Converted from the Christian Religion to Servitude to the Idols” Neil McLynn Professiones Gentiliciae: The Collegia of Rome between Paganism and Christianity Francesca Diosono Section B. Death and the Afterlife Reinterpreting “Pagans” and “Christians” from Rome’s Late Antique Mortuary Evidence Nicola Denzey Lewis On the Form and Function of Constantine’s Circiform Funerary Basilicas in Rome Monica Hellström Romanae gloria plebis: Bishop Damasus and the Traditions of Rome Marianne Sághy Storytelling and Cultural Memory in the Making: Celebrating Pagan and Christian Founders of Rome Gitte Lønstrup Dal Santo

213

232

251

273

291

314

330

Section C.

16

Reading Religious Iconography as Evidence for Pagan–Christian Relations Rome and Imagery in Late Antiquity: Perception and Use of Statues Caroline Michel d’Annoville

197

345

Contents What to Do with Sacra Antiqua? A Reinterpretation of the Sculptures from S. Martino ai Monti in Rome Silviu Anghel 18 Myth and Salvation in the Fourth Century: Representations of Hercules in Christian Contexts Levente Nagy Concluding Remarks: Vrbs Roma between Pagans and Christians Rita Lizzi Testa

vii

17

Index

360

379 401 411

ILLUSTRATIONS

Figures 5.1 “Divo Caro Pio,” RIC 4.135, an aureus of Emperor Carus (r. ca. 282–3 CE) page 148 5.2 “Deus et Dominus,” RIC 5.145, an aureus of Emperor Carus (r. ca. 282–3 CE) 148 5.3 “Deo Augusto,” Tarragona. Copper alloy sestertius, struck 15–37 CE, RPC C 1.222/6 149 5.4 Locations of imperial cult priests in North Africa, fourth through sixth century CE 152 11.1 The position on the Basilica Hilariana in the Caelian Hill 265 11.2 General view of the excavated area of the Basilica Hilariana 266 11.3 Map of the Basilica Hilariana in the fourth century 267 13.1 Map of Rome with the locations of funerary basilicas 292 293 13.2 Schematic plans of the earliest building phases of the basilicas 15.1 Emperor Marcus Aurelius standing right, clasping hands with Lucius Verus standing left 334 15.2 Portrait busts of Marcus Aurelius (to the right) and Lucius Verus (to the left) 335 15.3 A likeness. Portrait busts of St. Peter and St. Paul side by side, facing each other 336 15.4 The “Sariguzel sarcophagus” 340 17.1 The plan of the area superimposed on the Forma Urbis 364 17.2 The plan of the fourth-century villa 366 17.3 Section of the nymphaeum 367 17.4 Water spout of the nymphaeum 367 17.5 The aedicula and the mithraeum 368 17.6 The aedicula 369 17.7 The mithraeum. Section 372 17.8 Tomis, the statuary group in situ 373 ix

x 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 18.6 18.7 18.8 18.9 18.10

Illustrations Via Latina catacomb, cubiculum N: Hercules, Alcestis, and Cerberus Funerary relief with Alcestis from Intercisa (Dunaújváros, Hungary) Via Latina catacomb, the vault of cubiculum O Early Christian casket mounts from Ulcisia Castra (Szentendre, Hungary) The auxiliary fortress and late Roman cemetery of Ulcisia Castra (Szentendre, Hungary) Hercules medallion of the casket mount of Ulcisia Castra (Szentendre, Hungary) Medallion with ships on the casket mount of Ulcisia Castra (Szentendre, Hungary) Jupiter medallion of the casket mount of Ulcisia Castra (Szentendre, Hungary) Vota publica medallion of Diocletianus with ships Casket mount of uncertain findspot with the representation of Hercules killing the Hydra of Lerna

380 383 384 386 387 388 389 390 391 394

BIOGRAPHIES OF AUTHORS

Silviu Anghel is a researcher at the Bildung und Religion – Courant Forschung Zentrum of the University of Göttingen. He is the author of Burying the Gods: Statue Depositions in Late Antiquity (Leiden: Brill, 2015) and is preparing a book tentatively titled The Last Hellenes: The Athenian Pagan Sacred Landscape in Late Antiquity. His main interests are Greek and Roman Egypt, and late antique history and religion, in particular late antique paganism. Jonas Bjørnebye is the author of several articles and is preparing a book. His most recent publication is “Mithraic Movement: Negotiating Topography and Space in Late Antique Rome,” in I. Östenberg, S. Malmberg, and J. Bjørnebye, eds., The Moving City: Processions, Passages and Promenades in Ancient Rome (New York: Bloomsbury, 2015). Douglas Boin is an assistant professor of ancient and late antique Mediterranean history at Saint Louis University. He is the author of Coming Out Christian in the Roman World (New York: Bloomsbury, 2015) and Ostia in Late Antiquity (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013). Alan Cameron is Charles Anthon Professor of the Latin Language and Literature, Emeritus, at Columbia University. He is the author of several books, including The Last Pagans of Rome (New York: Oxford Press, 2011). He is the winner of the 2013 Kenyon Medal for Classical Studies and Archaeology from the British Academy. Robert R.  Chenault is an associate professor of history and classics at Willamette University. He is the author of several articles, and is preparing a book, Rome without Emperors:  The Revival of a Senatorial City in the Fourth Century A.D.

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Biographies of Authors

Caroline Michel d’Annoville, former member of the École française de Rome, is an archaeologist and is currently Professeur d’archéologie, Université ParisSorbonne (Paris IV, 2015-).  Her publications include “Fidélité à la tradition et détournements dans la controverse de Dracontius (Romulea 5): un poème à double sens,” in Mélanges B. Beaujard (Rennes: Presses de l’Université de Rennes, 2008). Francesca Diosono is Alexander von Humboldt Advanced Research Fellow at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität of Munich. Her published works include a monograph on professional collegia in the Roman world. Monica Hellström is a Junior Research Fellow in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at Durham University, UK. She has written on aspects on the topography and sociology of imperial Rome, most recently published in The Moving City: Processions, Passages and Promenades in Ancient Rome, edited by I. Östenberg, S. Malmberg and J. Bjørnebye (New York: Bloomsbury, 2015). Andra Juga5 naru (indexer) is a second-year PhD student at the Medieval Studies Department, Central European University (Budapest, Hungary). She is interested in the history of Early Christianity, particularly in the early monasticism, within its social, economic, political, and cultural context. Thomas Jürgasch is a scientific assistant at the Faculty of Theology, University of Freiburg. He is the author of Theoria vs. Praxis. Zur Entwicklung eines Prinzipienwissens im Bereich der Praxis in Antike und Spätantike (Berlin:  De Gruyter,  2013) and Boethius as a Paradigm of Late Ancient Thought (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2014). Maijastina Kahlos is at the University of Helsinki and has published several books, including most recently Forbearance and Compulsion: Rhetoric of Tolerance and Intolerance in Late Antiquity (London: Duckworth, 2009). Nicola Denzey Lewis is a visiting associate professor at Brown University and works on the intellectual and social history of late antique Rome. She is the author of Cosmology and Fate in Gnosticism and the Graeco-Roman World: Under a Pitiless Sky (Leiden: Brill, 2013) and of The Bone Gatherers: The Lost Worlds of Early Christian Women (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2007). Neil McLynn is a university lecturer in later Roman history at Oxford University, and a fellow of Corpus Christi College. His publications include Ambrose of Milan:  Church and Court in a Christian Capital (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1994) and Christian Politics and Religious Culture in Late Antiquity (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009).

Biographies of Authors

xiii

Levente Nagy is an associate professor at the University of Pécs and an archaeological advisor of the Gyula Forster National Centre for Cultural Heritage Management, as well as co-director of research in the Frühes Christentum in Ungarn project in collaboration with the University of Vienna. His works focus on pagan and Christian archaeology and have included A Fine and Private Place:  The Late Antique Cemetery of Sopianae/ Pécs: (Pécs:  Örökség Ház, 2008); and, on the cult of Mithras, “The Short History of Time in the Mysteries of Mithras: The Order of Caos, the City of Darkness and Iconography of Beginnings.” Pantheon: The Journal for the Study of Religions 7:1 (2012), 37–58. Marianne Sághy is an associate professor at the Central European University in Budapest, and a former academic director of the Hungarian Cultural Institute in Paris. She has published on late antique bishops and hagiography (“Martyr Bishops and the Bishop’s Martyrs in Fourth-Century Rome,” in John Ott and Trpimir Vedriš, eds., Saintly Bishops and Bishops’ Saints (Zagreb: Hagiotheca, 2012), 31–45), with a special focus on Damasus of Rome (Fido recubans sub tegmine Christi: Rewriting as Orthodoxy in the Epigrammata Damasiana,” in Jörg Ulric, Anders-Christian Jacobsen, and David Brakke, eds., Invention, Rewriting, Usurpation:  Discursive Fights over Religious Traditions in Antiquity (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2011), 41–55). Her monograph on Saint Martin of Tours: Asceticism and Power in Late Antiquity is forthcoming. Michele Renee Salzman is a professor of history at the University of California, Riverside. She is the author of numerous article and books, including On Roman Time: The Codex-Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity (Berkeley, London: University of California Press, 1990), The Making of a Christian Aristocracy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), and The Letters of Symmachus: Book 1. Translation with Michael Roberts. General Introduction and Commentary by Micnele Renee Salzman (Leiden: Brill, 2011). She is the senior editor of The Cambridge History of Religions in the Ancient World and coeditor of Volume I with M. Sweeney (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013). She is the author of a forthcoming book, The ‘Falls’ of Rome: The Transformations of Rome in Late Antiquity, 270–603 CE. Gitte Lønstrup Dal Santo was formerly the assistant director at the Danish Institute at Rome (2011–14), and is currently an advisor and a consultant in Copenhagen. Her PhD thesis, Concordia Augustorum – Concordia Apostolorum.The Making of Shared Memory between Rome and Constantinople (Aarhus University, 2010), is partially published in Stine Birk and Birte Poulsen, eds., Patron and Viewers in Late Antiquity (Aarhus:  Aarhus University Press, 2012), 237–57, and available for loan at www.bibliotek.dk.

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Biographies of Authors

Daniëlle Slootjes is in the Department of History, Radboud University Nijmegen. Among her publications is “Late Antique Administrative Structures: On the Meaning of Dioceses and Their Borders in the Fourth Century AD,” in L. Brice and D. Slootjes, eds., Aspects of Ancient Institutions and Geography: Studies in Honor of Richard J. A. Talbert (Leiden, 2014), 177–95. She is the author of The Governor and His Subjects in the Later Roman Empire (Leiden: Brill, 2007). Rita Lizzi Testa is a professor of Roman history at the Università degli Studi di Perugia. She is the author of numerous works, including Senatori, popolo, papi. Il governo di Roma al tempo dei Valentiniani (Bari: Edipuglia 2004). She edited with Peter Brown Pagans and Christians in the Roman Empire: The Breaking of a Dialogue (IVth–VIth Century A.D.) (Berlin: LITVerlag, 2011) and The Strange Death of Pagan Rome:  Reflections on a Historiographical Controversy (Turnhout:  Brepols,  2013). http://www.brepols.net/Pages/ShowAuthor.aspx?lid=107947 Dennis E. Trout is a professor of classical studies at the University of Missouri and the author of Paulinus of Nola: Life, Letters, and Poems (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999)  and of Damasus of Rome:  The Epigraphic Poetry (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The editors appreciate the generous support they have received for this project from the Thyssen Foundation, Cologne, and from the Balassi Institute of Hungary to host the conference and all participants in the amiable ambiance of the historic Palazzo Falconieri, the seat of the Hungarian Academy in Rome. We want to extend our special thanks for their good cheer and hospitality to director Antal Molnár; András Fejérdy, head of the Fraknói Historical Institute; to cultural advisor Sebestyén Terdik; and to the coordinators of the conference, Mariana Bodnaruk (CEU Budapest) and Johanna Rákos-Zichy (ELTE Budapest).We want to thank Ingrid de Haas as well for her assistance in preparing the manuscript. Finally, the editors wish to thank Andra Juga5naru for the index.

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INTRODUCTION Rita Lizzi   Testa , Michele Renee Salzman, and Marianne   Sághy

This volume reassesses the historical paradigm of relations between pagans and Christians by focusing on the evidence from fourth-century Rome.This topic has taken on new resonance due in large measure to the reinvigoration of the debate over historical models fueled by the 2011 publication of Alan Cameron’s important book, The Last Pagans of Rome. Cameron has argued that the concept of pagan–Christian religious conflict in Rome is a pure historiographical construction – the remnants of the scholarship disseminated by Hungarian scholar András Alföldi, who presented a Christian Constantine in irreconcilable conflict with a pagan Rome.1 Inspired by long-standing traditions of the Hungarian nobility rebelling against Habsburg emperors, Alföldi’s “conflict model” conveyed a significant political message in a time when a frightening “new paganism” seemed to be spreading from above. Two years later, in a seminar at the Warburg Institute in London, Herbert Bloch broadened the idea of pagan–Christian conflict and saw evidence for an aristocracy in Rome faced with a tightening of measures against traditional cults. Bloch proposed that there had been a “pagan revival” in which Rome’s aristocrats led “the last pagan army of the ancient world” against the Christian emperor Theodosius I. His view became really influent only when his paper, in a shorter version, was published as a part of the seminar at the Warburg Institute in London.2 Alan Cameron has meticulously attacked this 1

2

András Alföldi, A keresztény Konstantin és a pogány Róma [Constantine the Christian and Pagan Romee], Budapest:  Istituto Italiano di Cultura per l’Ungheria, 1943, reprinted as Keresztény császárok, pogány Róma [Christian Emperors, Pagan Romee], András Patay-Horváth and Péter Forisek, eds., Máriabesnyo-Gödöllo, 2005. English trans. Harold Mattingly, The Conversion of Constantine and Pagan Romee (Oxford, 1948). Italian trans. Augusto Fraschetti, Constantino tra paganesimo e cristianesimo (Roma, 1976). “The Pagan Revival in the West at the End of the Fourth Century,” in The Conflict between Paganism and Christianity in the Fourth Century, A. Momigliano, ed. (Oxford, 1963): 193–218, is a shorter version of his “A New Document of the Last Pagan Revival in the West”, Harvard

1

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Rita Lizzi Testa et al.

model in his book through a series of studies on a wide variety of texts associated with the last pagans of Rome, the powerful Roman aristocracy who allegedly spearheaded this resistance at the end of the fourth century. Cameron’s publication has aroused a strong response, especially on the part of European scholars. Some have taken the view advanced by Stéphane Ratti that the idea of pagan resistance provides a better method for explaining the literary texts of the fourth century as well as the world that produced these texts.3 In light of such work, the debate on the interpretation of the evidence from fourth-century Rome has gained a new effervescence. The papers presented at the international conference held in September 2012 at the Hungarian Academy in Rome, and featured as chapters in this volume, attest to this. Their focus is on Rome in part because modern historiographic paradigms arose in relation to Rome, its aristocracy, and its Christian leaders. The papers show how rich is the evidence for the city in terms of texts, inscriptions, and artifacts. The scholars, all experts in their fields, present new approaches to old evidence, as well as providing new material and new concepts that require us to rethink the ways pagans and Christians lived in the late fourth-century city. By incorporating European and American perspectives on this evidence and its interpretation, this book goes beyond the limits of any one scholarly tradition to offer a range of different approaches to the interactions between pagans and Christians. Although the debate over the “death” of paganisms continues, the scholars who contributed to this volume, by and large, concur that the once-dominant notion of overt pagan–Christian religious conflict cannot fully explain the texts and artifacts or the social, religious, and political realities of late antique Rome.4 At the same time, many of this volume’s chapters demonstrate that Rome was not a city where pagans and Christians always enjoyed a peaceful, tension-free coexistence either. Rather, all the chapters stress the importance of reading the evidence in its historical and social context. The fourth-century city was a more fluid, vibrant, and complex place than was previously thought. So, for example, scholars have a new appreciation of the nature and role of the Roman senate and aristocracy very different from that which prevailed at the time that Alföldi and Block were developing his conflict model; they no longer view it only as a new aristocracy of service,

3 4

, XXXVIII (1945): 199–244. For a reassessment of the Warburg Lectures see now Peter Brown and Rita Lizzi Testa, eds., Pagans and Christians in the Roman Empire: The Breaking of a Dialogue (IVth–VIth century AD), Proceedings of the International Conference at the Monastery of Bose (October 2008), (Zürich-Berlin, 2011). Stéphane Ratti, Polémiques entre païens et chrétiens. Histoiree (Paris, 2012). Rita Lizzi Testa, ed., The Strange Death of Pagan Rome:  Reflections on a Historiographical Controversy (Turnhout, 2013).

Introduction

3

totally passive in the face of the Christian emperor, and converting simply out of gratitude for their own advancement. Rather, scholars now see the aristocracy as a dynamic social class, organized along lines that were able to advance their interests and hence to modify an imperial and Christianizing agenda. From this newer appreciation of Rome’s nobility, insights into the dynamics of late Roman society emerge, changing the ways scholars see a wide range of topics, including literature, education, and funerary customs, as well as religion. Several scholars whose work appears in this volume emphasize the competitive elements and tensions in late antique Rome. Such competition did lead, at times, to resentment and resistance, albeit on occasion concealed to protect the interests of those involved. But competition between diverse groups in Roman society – be they pagans with Christians, Christians with Christians, or pagans with pagans – also allowed for coexistence and reduced the likelihood of overt and violent, physical conflict. But religious competition did not eliminate violence entirely. Consequently, the editors think that this volume offers a balanced discussion of texts and artifacts, and provides a unique contribution to the scholarship on the history and religion, as well as the material remains of late antique Rome. Moreover, each chapter makes a contribution to the historiographical debate on the question of relations between pagans and Christians.This book is organized to highlight key aspects of the evidence for late antique Rome in the light of its relationship to this historiographic debate.

The Contents This volume begins with Michele Renee Salzman’s work on Constantine and the senate of Rome, which introduces the conflict model associated with Alföldi and Rome’s aristocracy in order to critique the notion of overt religious and political conflict.The senate, as an institution, was central to the emperor’s relations with the city and to his policies in the western empire. The introduction of Christianity as a licit or “true” religion set the stage for transforming late antique Rome. Yet pagan aristocrats, the majority in the early fourth century, were covertly resistant to religious change and to the Christian interpretation of the events that brought victory to Constantine in 312. Her discussion of the Arch of Constantine and of this emperor’s appointments to the office of urban prefect reveals a range of senatorial responses to Constantine’s support for Christianity, including senatorial cooperation but also senatorial resistance to Christian interpretations of events like the victory at the Milvian Bridge in 312. And because religion was deeply entwined in urban life, tensions emerged after 312 along religious as well as political

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and social lines. Salzman’s view of this relationship and of Constantine’s 312 adoption of Christianity has wide-ranging implications, although some scholars, such as Levente Nagy in this volume, would see Constantine as openly adopting Christianity only after his defeat of Licinius in 324. Robert Chenault demonstrates the difficulties in dislodging religion from senatorial politics, especially when the rhetorical production of the actors distorts the evidence. The late fourth-century bishop of Rome, Damasus, used religious conflict, Chenault argues, to overcome his opponents and tighten the ranks of his followers. Hence not only aristocratic families  – Aniciani, Symmachiani – but now also proponents of the bishop – Damasiani – reveal how elites could use a “religious” struggle such as that over the altar of Victory in the Curia of the Senate (which affected Damasus only marginally) for purposes we would define as political.5 In the final chapter to this section on senatorial politics and religion, Alan Cameron restates and advances his views on the problem of pagan–Christian relations in the light of his 2011 monograph. He argues that pagan senators were not afraid to voice their views, based largely on the letters of one of Rome’s most eminent pagans, the late fourth-century orator and urban prefect Symmachus.This chapter thus advances the notion that pagans and Christians coexisted with little in the way of religious conflict in the fourth-century city. The importance of defining the semantic range of the term “pagan” (paganus in Latin) to Christian identity is addressed in the chapter by Thomas Jürgasch. According to Cameron, the term paganus was used as early as the age of Constantine and can be defined in a noncontroversial way; the term was then adopted because Christians had already become a central and confident part of society that no longer needed to define others with a derogatory term. But the single epigraphic testimony prior to 324 cannot be used to prove that the word had already spread: a real change in use occurred over the course of the fourth century, especially after 370, and was still fluctuating, as Thomas Jürgasch argues. The term paganus began to consistently spread in literary and legal use only as of the first decade of the fifth century. There are quite different conclusions to be drawn from this view. For Jürgasch, the term paganus refers to social and political matters, not theology, and had a strong relational value. Its diffusion denies the assumption that pagans and

5

See also R.  Lizzi Testa, “The Famous Altar of Victory Controversy in Rome:  The Impact of Christianity at the End of the Fourth Century,” in J.  Wienand, ed., Contested Monarchy: Integrating the Roman Empire in the Fourth Century AD D (Oxford, 2015), 405–19.

Introduction

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Christians were entirely distinct entities, but suggests, rather, that they were in close contact and increasingly aware of differences. The spread of Christianity in post-Constantine Rome and its empire brought challenges to traditional Roman institutions and values, religious and political. Douglas Boin’s study of the imperial cult and of late Roman imperial priests demonstrates that the persistence of traditional Roman pagan religious ideology and language, in this case the notion of the emperor as divus or deified, continued to have meaning for late Roman Christians and hence survived as a form of veneration. His chapter reinforces Jürgasch’s view that the essential meaning of paganus was based on social relations, for Boin observes that Christians denigrated those involved in the imperial cult as pagans but also used this term to denigrate other Christians as part of intra-Christian dialog. As the spread of Christianity entailed changing definitions of certain traditional concepts and institutions in Rome and in the empire, tensions arose and occasionally flared into violence. As the chapters of Maijastina Kahlos and Daniëlle Slootjes demonstrate, religious conflict cannot be totally abandoned as a category, but must be declined to take into account the complexities and fluidities of urban life in late antiquity. So Maijastina Kahlos stresses the instrumentality of the accusations of magic, which became part of the general discourse of ritual censure in late antiquity that religionists could use to attack pagans. Daniëlle Slootjes, in analyzing the behavior of the crowd in late antique Rome, outlines a number of violent confrontations in which religious difference was one of several factors fueling crowd hatred. In late antique Rome, however, we find abundant evidence for a healthy competition between groups that modern scholars conveniently label pagan and Christian. This evidence is emblematic of a long period of coexistence of religious forms. Indeed, it is important to note that Romans – pagans and Christians – had lived together for more than three centuries; the coming of Constantine and the institutionalized Church forced Christians to adapt to the new fourth-century present as much as it did pagans. As each group strove to negotiate their new identities in the post-Constantinian city, they competed for influence and changed the religious and social options for Rome’s citizens. Still, the chapters argue for the vitality of paganism extending into the fifth century, and against the view advanced by scholars who see the rapid demise of paganism in the middle of the fourth century and its eradication by the early years of the fifth century. The next section considers how pagans survived and adapted their cults in Rome during the fourth and early fifth centuries. Some cults and their worshippers, like the Mithraic cult in Rome discussed by Jonas Bjørnebye,

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survived with little change. Yet there were certainly challenges to traditions in this complex age. Dennis Trout’s chapter shows that as Christians at the end of the fourth century reformed their religious sensibilities, they turned to hexameter poetry, with literary mechanisms of repetitions and exaggerations that were typical of the invective in order to bring about the “invention” of paganism. But paganism was the subject of poetic invective because the pagans had not yet disappeared. According to Neil McLynn, it was not necessary to keep alive the faith by materializing ghosts because pagans were still present and to be feared; hence, their cults had to be exorcised. The Poem of the Senator “Converted from Christian Religion to Servitude to the Idols,” even if we are unable to identify the character it was addressed to, reproduced a historical situation. McLynn’s chapter explores the ways this poem captures the attitudes of the aristocracy, as it is characterized in other late antique sources, and simultaneously reflects the traditions of poetic invective. This chapter offers a different view from Trout of the “paganism” of late Roman literary elites. That paganism remained a vibrant part of Roman social life among the nonelites of Rome through the fourth and early fifth centuries is the conclusion Francesca Diosono draws from her study of the corporations (collegia) of Rome. Only in the first half of the fifth century did the religious aspects of the corporations incur the violent repression of the state. Just as pagans and Christians coexisted in Rome for most of the fourth century, we find them similarly cohabiting in death. Indeed, in terms of burial practices and funerary art, as in the catacombs of Via Latina and in the very recently excavated circiform funerary basilica on the Via Ardeatina, as Nicola Denzey Lewis argues, social and economic factors are more relevant than religion in explaining the remains. Similarly, Monica Hellström finds the inspiration for the distinctive circiform basilicas that Constantine built in Rome in early imperial prototypes used to bury imperial freedmen and freedwomen, not in religious ideology per se. Constantine’s adoption of this building type for his new religion was based on dynastic traditions more than religious ones. Commemoration of the dead also offered opportunities for religious competition between Christians and pagans, and among Christians as well. Marianne Sághy discusses the program of revitalization of the ancient martyrs’ crypts implemented by Pope Damasus. If there were places of memory for the civis Romanus who clung to his ancestral cults, so too were there places that Christians retained as part of their tradition, a world of underground Christianity, whose dead could become patron saints. Using the language of

Introduction

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the classical poet Virgil, Bishop Damasus of Rome (366–84) strengthened the pride of Romanitas through the proclamation of the Christian faith, and at the same time succeeded in anchoring a Christian community, still largely dominated by Greek culture, in classical Latin tradition. Another instance of competition dealing with the cult of the martyrs – although in this case the primary focus is on other Christians – is offered in the chapter of Gitte Lønstrup Dal Santo that focuses on the Roman cult of Peter and Paul. The bishop of Rome shaped this cult not necessarily to eliminate the pagan Romulus Quirinus, she argues, as much as to strengthen the unity of a still-divided Christian community, perhaps echoing with the theme of the “Concord of the Apostles” (concordia Apostolorum) that of the Concord of the Augusti (concordia Augustorum). Her work shows the fluidity of boundaries within Christian communities as well as the tensions between Christians. Religious iconography offers further evidence, although often complex, for relations between pagans and Christians in the late antique city. Caroline d’Annoville addresses the issue of pagan statuary, and how cult statuary was a target for Christians struggling to redefine these as art and decoration. Hence, their survival can owe as much to Christians as to pagans. Silviu Anghel reinterprets the cult sculptures from S.  Martino ai Monti as high imperial Roman artifacts, and hence irrelevant to the issue of the survival of paganism in fourth-century Rome.Yet the evidence is indeed complicated, for some Christians were open to pagan iconography and cultic implications, as was the case for the Hercules imagery in Roman catacombs discussed by Levente Nagy.6 The omnipresence of this demigod in various Christian contexts reminds us that, instead of looking for syncretism, we should accept the ability of late ancient persons to associate the exploits of Hercules with that of Christ. They could see both traditions, cult/mythology and biblical, as equally valid. In her concluding remarks, Rita Lizzi Testa argues that being a civis Romanus and a civis Christianus should not be perceived as two alternative options. Coexistence, in a competitive spirit, is key to an understanding of changes that pagans and Christians implemented from the age of Constantine through the end of the fourth century and into the fifth century. This competition did not cease with the anti-pagan laws of Theodosius I, as so many Roman textbooks argue, but contributed to a vibrant city life 6

For a similar instance of the Christian appreciation of pagan iconography with cultic implications, see Michele Renee Salzman, On Roman Time. The Codex-Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity (Berkeley, 1990).

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and an unmistakably Roman metropolitan culture that continued into the fifth century. Competition and coexistence, along with conflict, emerge as still central paradigms for the scholars whose work appears in this volume. The editors believe that these explorations of past experience will always open up new perspectives on the familiar, beloved, yet so strange landscape that was late antique Rome.

Bibliography Alföldi, A. A keresztény Konstantin és a pogány Róma [Constantine: The Christian and Pagan Rome] (Budapest, 1943). Bloch, H. “A New Document of the Last Pagan Revival in the West”, Harvard Theological Review, XXXVIII (1945): 199–244 = “The Pagan Revival in the West at the End of the Fourth Century,” The Conflict between Paganism and Christianity in the Fourth Century A. Momigliano, ed. (Oxford, 1963): 193–218. Brown, P. and Lizzi Testa, R., eds., Pagans and Christians in the Roman Empire: The Breaking of a Dialogue (IVth–VIth century AD) (Zürich-Berlin, 2011). Lizzi Testa, R., ed., The Strange Death of Pagan Rome:  Reflections on a Historiographical Controversy (Turnhout, 2013). The Famous “Altar of Victory Controversy” in Rome: The Impact of Christianity at the End of the Fourth Century, in J. Wienand, ed., Contested Monarchy: Integrating the Roman Empire in the Fourth Century AD (Oxford, 2015), 405–19. Ratti, S. Polémiques entre païens et chrétiens. Histoire (Paris, 2012). Salzman, Michele Renee. On Roman Time. The Codex-Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity (Berkeley, 1990).

Part I

Senatorial Politics and Religious Conflict 

1

CONSTANTINE AND THE ROMAN SENATE : CONFLICT, COOPERATION, AND CONCEALED RESISTANCE Michele Renee Salzman Constantine’s relations to the senate and to Rome’s resident senatorial aristocracy have attracted a good deal of scholarly attention, but not consensus. In the aftermath of World War II a number of scholars followed a view developed by Hungarian scholar András Alföldi, who characterized that relationship as conflict-ridden and filled with friction between an aggressively Christianizing emperor and a staunchly pagan senatorial aristocracy, the only pagan group capable of resisting.1 In Alföldi’s view, imperial laws advanced Christianity and any policies that favored senators or paganism were grudging concessions to a strong, overtly hostile pagan political party. Alföldi’s model has been called into question. Since the 1980s, some scholars have argued that there was no religious or political conflict and no resistance on the part of Rome’s once pagan senatorial aristocracy who, increasingly Christian themselves, simply acquiesced to a newly Christianized empire.2 Other scholars have argued that because Constantine was either tolerant of pagans, or was not a “really” committed Christian, there was no religious or political conflict with Rome’s pagan senate and senatorial aristocracy.3 And others have argued that religion was not relevant to this relationship; as Van Dam sees it, appeals to religion were part of the language of power, not a source of conflict in and of themselves.4 1

2

3

4

Alföldi, The Conversion of Constantinee, 74–123.  Among this generation of post–World War II scholars influenced by Alföldi’s view on Constantine and the senatorial aristocracy are e Krautheimer, Three Christian Capitals; and Momigliano, The Chastagnol, La préfecture urbaine; Conflict between Paganism and Christianity. Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius; Barnes, “Statistics and the Conversion of the Roman Aristocracy,” 135–47; Cameron, Thee Last Pagans of Romee. For Constantine as a tolerant emperor, see Drake, Constantine and the Bishops. Others, following Burckhardt, The Age of Constantinee, question the level of his commitment to Christianity; see MacMullen, Christianizing the Roman Empire, e and Brandt, Konstantin der Grosse. e Van Dam, Remembering Constantine at the Milvian Bridge. e

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In my view, the differing opinions in the abundant literature on Constantine’s relations to Rome’s senate and resident senatorial aristocracy conflate three distinct issues – the nature of the conflict, imperial interest in Christianization, and the power of the senate and senators to speak openly. Consequently, some scholars assume a strong, pagan senate confronting an aggressively Christianizing ruler led to overt political and religious conflict. Other scholars assume an acquiescent pagan senate responding to a more or less tolerant Christian emperor resulted in the lack of political or religious conflict. But each element in this narrative requires independent consideration because their conjunction has been based on a number of false assumptions. In particular, the senate, as an institution, is in need of reconsideration for it was limited, politically, in facing an emperor in the early fourth century. Consequently, this chapter aims to disentangle the evidence and reconsider relations between Constantine and Rome’s senate and resident senatorial aristocracy. In Part I, I consider the much discussed interaction of senate, resident senatorial aristocracy and emperor during Constantine’s visits to Rome in 312, 315, and 326. Alföldi sees in the ancient accounts of these visits evidence of overt political and religious conflict.5 But others read these visits as evidence for senatorial acquiescence and imperial tolerance for pagans.6 These are not, however, the only alternatives.We should rather consider Constantine’s visits to Rome as occasioning a variety of reactions, some positive, some negative, and including – as James Scott proposed long ago in analyzing unequal power relations  – some resistance, albeit concealed, to a powerful victor in a civil war who also brought significant political and religious change.7 Indeed, the senate was not a unified body, and hence there were a variety of responses to Constantine’s victory of 312 and to Christian interpretations of this event. The assertion of a traditional, pagan view of that victory was also a means of resisting Christian interpretations of the victory of 312. Moreover, a pagan interpretation of these events is relevant for appreciating the iconography on the Arch of Constantine, a monument dedicated during the 315 visit of this emperor to Rome. Constantine’s visit of 326 to the city presented different opportunities for interaction; popular and senatorial reactions provide evidence of support but also of tension and resistance to change. Although Constantine did not return to Rome after 326, his burial

5 6

7

Alföldi, The Conversion of Constantinee, 53–81, 91–104. Brandt, Konstantin der Grosse, e 48–67, 108–35; Van Dam, The Roman Revolution of Constantinee, 48–50. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance, e Hidden Transcripts.

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and consecration in Constantinople in 337 (discussed in Part III) similarly gives rise to a complex set of reactions that evidences certain tensions and resistance occasioned by earlier imperial visits to Rome. In Part II, I consider the evidence that scholars have adduced to argue that Constantine’s aggressive efforts at converting the aristocracy through his appointment of Christians to high office led to religious and political conflict.The office that allegedly aroused such a response is that of urban prefect of Rome. Barnes, for one, has argued that Constantine appointed a number of Christians to this office early in his rule, and Alföldi and Chastagnol see these appointments as hostile acts aimed at pagans, which fueled pagan resentment.8 A  reconsideration of Constantine’s urban prefects leads me to a different view; the men who held this post under Constantine were from old, established senatorial families. Most were pagan. His few Christian appointees to this position can be found only after he controlled the eastern empire in 324, but these men were of the same status as their pagan peers, that is, from old, established senatorial families. Hence, Constantine’s appointments of Christians to the office of urban prefect were neither controversial nor cause for conflict on religious grounds. But Constantine did favor some senatorial families over others. Moreover, Constantine did intervene in senatorial matters, as we shall see. Some of his interventions caused resentment and anger among some senators, as, I propose, when he granted a pardon to a senator exiled by his peers. But in order to assess these tensions, we need to take into account a third important factor, namely the avenues open for the senate and senators to express their political and religious views. Certainly, the wealthiest senators of Rome’s resident aristocracy had resources and influence that they used to advance themselves, their families, and their friends; but assuming they were not merely “spinelessly self-regarding,” senators and senate had limited options for expressing their views.9 Despite rising senatorial prestige and the administrative reforms of the senatorial order undertaken by Constantine that allowed for greater autonomy that I discuss in Part III of this chapter, the senate of Rome was not likely to openly resist imperial policies in the early fourth century. Freedom of speech had long been absent from the senate. Not surprisingly, then, those senators who opposed the changes in politics and religion ushered in by Constantine concealed their views. This makes uncovering their resistance difficult to find in the historical record. However, it is important that modern 8

9

Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius; Alföldi, The Conversion of Constantinee, 100; La préfecture urbaine, 180–3. e McLynn, “Pagans in a Christian Empire,” 572. See too Cameron, The Last Pagans of Romee, 12.

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historians acknowledge the existence of some degree of concealed resistance in order to better explain anomalies in the evidence and the slow pace of the conversion of Rome’s resident senatorial aristocracy.

Part I: Constantine’s Visits to Rome in 312, 315, and 326 Constantine was in Rome three separate times during his rule. Each visit was an opportunity for the senate and senators to interact directly with the emperor. The diversity of senatorial responses emerges from our sources. Constantine in Rome in 312

Although Constantine defeated Maxentius on October 28, 312, he delayed his entry into Rome until the following day. It must have been a tense night for the senators and soldiers who had loyally supported the Maxentian regime. Some senators feared retribution, for they had been among the inner circle that had urged Maxentius to exit the city to engage in combat.10 It was in everyone’s interests to change sides quickly and to show enthusiasm for the new ruler; that was the official version of events expressed by the anonymous panegyrist of 313: there was “so numerous a throng of people, so numerous an entourage of senators [who] carried you along and at the same time detained you ... Thereafter, crowding through all the roads, they (the people) awaited, watched for, sighed and hoped for your appearance, so that they seemed to besiege the man by whose siege they had been liberated.”11 The panegyrist expresses the view we see adopted by emperor and senate: Constantine was freeing Rome from a tyrant and his faction.12 By turning this civil war into a liberation movement, the orator obscured their very real fear of reprisal and eliminated the suggestion that some had supported Maxentius. Constantine acted quickly to reinforce his control of the city; he disbanded the Horse Guard of Maxentius in Rome, destroyed its camp and burial grounds, and made sure there would be no further armed forces in the city.13 Constantine wanted good relations with the senate in 312. According to the panegyrist of 313, the emperor promised to restore the senate to its

11 12

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For the senators who likely urged Maxentius to face Constantine in combat outside the walls, see especially Lenski, “Evoking the Pagan Past,” 204–57. Pan. lat. 12 (9). In language that echoed Augustus’s Res Gestaee, coins proclaimed Constantine liberator urbis suaee; see Marlowe, “Liberator urbis suaee. Constantine and the Ghost of Maxentius,” 217–18. Aurelius Victor, Caes. 40.25; garrisons noted by Zos. Nova Histt. 2.17.2. For punishment of the equites of Maxentius, see Speidel, “Maxentius and his Equites Singulares in the Battle at the Milvian Bridge.”

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former authority, refrained from boasting of the “salvation” that he offered, and promised clemency.14 The panegyrist goes so far as to make the claim that Rome was fortunate to have had this “civic victory” (civilis victoria).15 Doing more than making mere promises, Constantine reappointed Maxentius’s urban prefect, Anullinus, for a month-long tenure. It mattered little to Constantine that Anullinus had earlier, under the emperor Diocletian, prosecuted Christians.16 Constantine’s next two appointments to urban prefect, both of whom were respected Roman senators who had held this office under Maxentius, signaled continuity with the previous government.17 To reassure senators of his clemency, in early January of 313 Constantine also passed an edict against informers and stated that he would not seek revenge through prosecutions.18 For their part, the senate and individual senators were happy to give Constantine what he needed most – legitimacy. They granted him the right of listing his name first in the imperial college, recognizing him as the senior Augustus (although this allegedly infuriated Constantine’s rival in the east, the Augustus Maximin Daia).19 But the senate went beyond this. Soon after the victory, the panegyrist of 313 tells us that the senate dedicated a statue: For just cause, Constantine, the senate has recently dedicated to you a statue of a god, and Italy shortly before that a shield and crown, all of gold, 14

15

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17

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Pan. lat. 12(9). 20.1–2, and 4: gladios ne in eorum quidem sanguine distringi passus est quos ad supplicia poscebatt and 20.4.4:  conservati usque homicidarum sanguinis gratulatio. The panegyrist of 313 reflects imperial policy when remarking the “fame of the emperor’s clemency”; C. 1.41.3, noted an imperial letter recalling to their homes “those subjected Eusebius, in VC to the tyrant’s savagery,” a formula that would apply to political opponents of Maxentius as well as Christians. Pan. lat. 12(9). 20.2; .3. Nixon and Rodgers, eds., In Praise of Later Roman Emperors, 325 n. 127, remark on the novelty of the claim in Latin panegyric. For Anullinus 3, see PLRE E 1.79; he was proconsul of Africa in 303–4, urban prefect in 306–7 under Maxentius, then urban prefect for a second time from October 27 to November 29, 312. However, the Anullinus who was proconsul of Africa in 313 is likely a different E 1.78–9, and Barnes, Thee New Empire, e 116–17. man, perhaps his son; see Anullinus 2, PLRE Anullinus was only in office for one month, however, contra to Barnes, Constantinee, 83, who asserts he was in office for thirteen months and re-dates the subsequent consulship of Aradius Rufinus a year later. Aradius Rufinus, urban prefect for the third time according to PLRE E 1.775 from November 29, 312 to December 8, 313; and then C. C(a)eionius Rufius Volusianus, urban prefect for E 1.976–7 from December 8, 313 to August 20, 315; and see my the second time; see PLRE discussion of these men later in this chapter. C. Th. 10.10.1, January 313; C. Th. 10.10.2, December 319 is a reiteration. Fear of informers remained a problem for senators; see C.Th. 10.10.19 in 387 and The Novels of Majorian, 1.1.458. See too Grubbs, Law and Family in Late Antiquity, 113–14. Zos. Nova Histt. 2.17.2 notes punishments for close Maxentian supporters, and the vindictive destruction of Maxentius’s Horse Guard along with the demolition of their cemetery. Lact. De mort. pers. 44.11: primi nominis titulum.

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Michele Renee Salzman to lessen in some part the debt of their conscience. There is and often will be due a likeness to divinity, a shield to his valor and a crown to dutifulness (pietati).20

The orator lets slip the tension of the moment by alluding to the senate’s guilty “conscience.” This was one of a number of statues that appeared in the city; the emperor himself put up many in “the most frequented places.”21 The panegyrist of 313 adds that the senate’s statue made Constantine divine in some way, although we cannot say how this was done, or if Constantine’s statue had the attributes of a particular deity  – such as Sol or Jupiter  – as some scholars have proposed.22 But by its actions, the senate validated Constantine’s divine associations and his dynastic claim as the son of a god; in this period they also approved a priesthood for the Flavian family, which flourished in Africa and Italy in the coming years.23 There is no hint of open conflict in the pagan writers describing the immediate aftermath of 312, although it is likely that some senators were not entirely happy with the turn of events. Senators were still concerned that they would face punishments for their support for Maxentius, a sentiment that Optatian’s letter to Constantine, allegedly written soon after 312, expressed. This was a reality according to the later historian Zosimus, for 20

21 22

23

It was recent because the panegyrist of 313 says it was nuper; r see Pan. lat. 12(9).25.4, as noted by Nixon and, Rodgers, eds. In Praise of Later Emperors, 331 n. 157 with the text, 607: Merito igitur tibi, Constantine, et nuper senatus signum dei et paulo ante Italia scutum et coronam, cuncta aurea, dedicarunt, ut conscientiae debitum aliqua ex parte relevarent. Debetur enim et saepe debebitur et divinitati simulacrum [mss. aureum] et virtuti scutum et corona pietatii. There are manuscript problems that make deii problematic. I translate pietas as dutifulness rather than as Nixon and Rodgers do, patriotism, to get at the ethical and religious element that is often associated with the Roman notion of pietas; see OLD, D s.v. pietas, 1–3. Aurelius Victor, Caes. 40.28, statuae locis quam celeberrimis, quarum plures ex auro aut argenteae. e Alföldi, The Conversion of Constantinee, 69, for the identification with Soll. See the discussion by Bardill, Constantine, Divine Emperor of the Christian Golden Agee, 212–15, with bibliography. For discussion of this colossal statue and its identification as Jupiter, see Parisi Presicce, “Konstantin als Iuppiter,” 117–31, and Parisi Presicce, “L’abbandono della moderazione,” 138–55. Aurelius Victor, Caes. 40.28: tum per Africam sacerdotium decretum Flaviae gentis. Victor only mentions the Flavian cult in Africa, but it is clear that the imperial cult was also practiced in Italy, as evidenced by the request for a cult temple in Hispellum, dated variously to 333, 335, S 1:158–9, no. 705, and Van Dam, The Roman Revolution of Constantinee, 19–34, or 337; see ILS 53–7, 363–7. Constantine’s last urban prefect, L. Aradius Valerius Proculus signo Populonius, proudly held the title of pontifex flavialis, imperial priest of the cult, in an inscription dedicated in Italy. Because Proculus’s inscription was put up after his return from Africa, he may have held this position in Italy. Constantine had made sure to honor his father as a divus and had promulgated his worship; see MacCormack, Art and Ceremony in Late Antiquity, 110–13. The natalis of his father Constantius is noted in the Codex-Calendar of 354 on March 31; see e 139–42. Salzman, On Roman Time,

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a few of Maxentius’s closest supporters.24 Moreover, Constantine reinstituted Galerius’s hated land tax on Italy and Rome, although his tax on senators was likely a later addition; both acts aroused some resentment.25 From Christian writers (see later in this chapter) we learn that Constantine’s first interactions with the senate also supplied the opportunity for him to assert his new faith in what would, according to some, lead to this emperor’s strained relations with the senate. In the edition of his Church History published before 316, Eusebius tells us that soon after Constantine entered Rome, he ordered the dedication of a statue of himself: And straightway he gave orders that a memorial of the Savior’s Passion should be set up in the hand of his own statue; and indeed when they set him in the most public place in Rome holding the Savior’s sign in his right hand, he bade them engrave this very inscription in these words in the tongue: “By this salutary sign, the true proof of bravery, I saved and delivered your city from the yoke of the tyrant; and moreover, I freed and restored to their ancient fame and splendor both the senate and the people of Rome.”26

The inscription does not exist, but most scholars interpret the salutary sign, alluded to in the inscription, as a distinctly Christian symbol.27 Indeed, that is 24

25

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27

Optatian, Epistulaee 2 and 3.  For dating Optatian’s letter and its authenticity, see doubts raised by Van Dam, Remembering Constantine at the Milvian Bridge, e 158–70, and Herzog, ed., Nouvelle histoire de la littérature latinee, V.275–6. Wienand, Der Kaiser als Sieger, r 358 and note 6, takes it as authentic but admits that the 312 dating is insecure. Barnes, Constantine, 84, argues for the letter’s authenticity and 312 dating. Although Zosimus was hostile to Constantine, he mentions punishment of an unnamed number of close supporters of Maxentius; see Zos 2.19.2. For Galerius’s tax on Italy and Rome, see Aurelius Victor, Caes. 39.31; Lact., De mort. pers. 23.1–6, 26.2. Constantine likely resumed this and added new taxes; see Zos. 2.38.4 for the follis senatorius. The initial date of the follis senatorius is not certain, although most scholars assume it was initiated to pay for the vicennalia in 326; according to Jones, The Later Roman Empiree, I.110, 431–2, it was not financially burdensome in this period. However, resentment over new taxes – after 312 or after 326 – could be aroused regardless of the amounts involved. Senators did complain about these taxes later in the fourth century, and they were removed in the early fifth century; see Barnish, “A Note on the collatio glebalis,” 256. Eusebius HE E 9.9.9–11; see too VC C 1.39–40. For the date of the HE, E see Van Dam, Remembering Constantinee, 82–100. Eusebius, VC C 1.41.2 and HE E 9.9; and Rufinus HE E 9.9.10–11:  in hoc singulari signo, quod est verae virtutis insigne, urbem Romam senatumque et populum Romanum iugo tyrannicae dominationis ereptam pristinae libertati nobilitatique restituii. Most scholars see this as a Christian sign; see the discussion by Lenski, “The Sun and the Senate.” For a different interpretation of this sign, see Van Dam, Remembering Constantinee, 191–200, who favors Rufinus’s text and argues that the sign did not have any Christian significance. In fact, there is no reason to trust Rufinus’s text as more accurate. Rufinus had been in Rome some decades earlier, so his memory was

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the way it is explained in the earliest reference to this inscription and statue in a speech Eusebius delivered for the dedication of the new cathedral in Tyre in 314 or 315.28 The statue Eusebius mentions has been the object of much discussion, for it has been identified with the colossal head, arm, and foot still preserved in the Museo dei Conservatori in Rome. Besides the fact that none of the Christian sources suggest a colossal statue, Presicce’s convincing reconstruction of the remains as a nude, heroic male, possibly Jupiter, would rule this identification out.29 Rather, the kind of statue with the saving sign Eusebius describes is, more appropriately, of the standing male type who holds a spear or vexillum, as the Constantinan emperor now in the forecourt of the Lateran Basilica.30 The statue, a public statement of the emperor’s religiosity, followed on his open display of the symbol that Constantine had painted on the shields of this emperor’s soldiers before the 312 battle, namely the Christogram or Staurogram, which was, according to Lactantius and Eusebius, a reference to the Christian God.31 Constantine’s public show of his religious affiliation did not present a problem in October 312, at least in the version of events reported in Eusebius’s later Life of Constantine:  “All the city’s population together, including the senate and all the people, ... seemed to be enjoying beams of purer light and to be participating in the rebirth to a fresh new life.”32 Eusebius, Lactantius, and later Christian sources depict this initial encounter of the now openly Christian emperor and senate and people of Rome in 312 as a moment of triumph and joy, devoid of conflict.

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30 31

32

Constantine was a Christian in 312. Eusebius HE E 10.14.16: “now – a thing unknown heretofore – the most exalted Emperors of all, [i.e., Constantine and Licinius] conscious of the honor which they have received from Him, spit upon the faces of dead idols ... and of themselves they recognize as the one and only God, and confess that Christ the Son of God is sovereign King of the universe, and style Him as Saviour on monuments, inscribing an imperishable record of His righteous acts and His victories over the impious ones, in imperial characters in the midst of the city that is Empress among the cities of the world.” Translation here by Olgon with Lawlor, Eusebius, 2.407. For dating the oration to 315, see Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 162. Parisi Presicce, “L’abbandono della moderazione,” 138–55. If this great statue of Constantine was dedicated by the senate to Constantine, then the presentation of Constantine as Jupiter is much in keeping with their use of traditional imagery for this Christian emperor. On this, see my discussion of the sacrificial scenes on the Arch of Constantine. Girardet, Der Kaiser und sein Gott, t 89–95, and see Lenski, “The Sun and the Senate.” Lact. De mort. pers. 44.5; Eus. VC C 1.37.1. For the Christogram as a Christian symbol, see especially Girardet, Der Kaiser und sein Gott, t 52–62. However, not all would agree that the Christogram was only a Christian symbol; see Bardill, Divine Emperor of the Christian Golden Age, e 159–78. Eus. VC C 1.41.2.

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Constantine’s allegiance to Christianity was openly acknowledged in Rome in the immediate aftermath of his October victory, and this may have been something of a surprise to traditionalists and pagans in the resident senatorial aristocracy. Soon after his victory, perhaps as early as November 312, work began on the first imperially sponsored Christian place of worship in Rome, dedicated to Saint Salvator, modern St. John Lateran, which was built over the destroyed barracks of Maxentius’s Horse Guard.33 In addition to the basilica and statues, the emperor openly asserted his views on Christianity in official correspondence to Roman senators. So, for example, when granting exemptions from all liturgies to Christian clergy in his letter of 313 to the Roman aristocrat Anullinus, proconsul of Africa, Constantine criticized traditional religion: “Christian priests should not be drawn away by error or sacrilegious fault from the worship which they owe to the Divinity.”34 Constantine’s overt support for bishops and priests elevated the status of a group that only recently had been the object of state prosecution. Moreover, imperial intervention in the internal disputes of Christians showed that this cult was a matter of public concern. In 313 Constantine arguably followed imperial precedent when, in response to the request of African bishops to address the Donatist controversy, he turned the matter over to the bishop of Rome; but Constantine made markedly new precedents that gave church councils a quasi-official character when in 314 he called the first council of western bishops to Arles to deal with the Donatist schism and put the public post at the bishops’ disposal.35 This followed on the heels of the joint policy of 313 that Constantine had agreed upon in Milan with Licinius, which guaranteed freedom of worship to Christians and restored church property at the expense of the imperial treasury in order to maintain divine favor.36

33

34 35

36

See Johnson, “Architecture of Empire,” 282–5. Although the evidence for the dedication of the basilica in November is later, as Curran, Pagan City and Christian Capital,l 94–5, discusses, the decision to destroy the remnants of Maxentius’s Horse Guard was taken very soon after 312, freeing up this area for a Christian basilica in the early years of the reign. Eus. HE E 10.7.2. Eus. HE E 10.5.18 and Drake, “The Impact of Constantine on Christianity,” 117–19, on the radical departure that Constantine’s summoning of the Council of Arles represented in terms of imperial engagement. For an instance of internal dissension in the third century when the bishop of Rome had tried to determine a matter in the Spanish church, see Cyprian, Ep. LXVII.1–6 (CSEL 3.2.735–41). The joint policy agreed upon in 313 in Milan is attested not by an edict but by a 313 letter Licinius issued to eastern provincial governors; see Lact. De mort. Pers. 48.2–.12 for a E 10.5.2–14 for a Greek version. See too Lenski, “The Reign of Latin version, and Eus. HE Constantine,” 70–2.

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Michele Renee Salzman Constantine in Rome in 315

In this much changed world, Christian interpretations of the victories of Constantine circulated during the very years that the Arch of Constantine was being built; these narratives and the support of the emperor for his new cult were certainly known when the senate voted to build and later dedicated the Arch to this emperor upon his return to the city to celebrate his decennalia in July 315. Yet, as has been frequently noted, there are no indications on the Arch of Constantine’s Christianity. There are no Christian images or symbols; the soldiers of Constantine do not carry shields with the Christogram (or Staurogram) in the reliefs carved for the Arch, as there is, for example, on Constantine’s helmet in the famous silver medallion from Ticinum dated to 315.37 And the inscription on the Arch proclaimed that Constantine’s victory was owed to “divine instigation” (instinctu divinitatis), a phrase that, as Noel Lenski has argued, has almost exclusively positive connotations when used by pagan authors and is often associated with Apollo/ Sol, the deity previously linked with Constantine but that is infrequent or negative in Christian texts.38 Similarly, the iconography on the Arch (to be discussed later in this chapter) offers a traditional, pagan view of the divine forces that aided this emperor in achieving his victory. We see the senatorial view most easily, perhaps, in the second-century reliefs reused for this monument. Faust has demonstrated that these reliefs consistently depict two imperial virtues, virtus and pietas.39 Pietas  – dutifulness – can be seen in the four Hadrianic roundels, each of which represents the emperor performing sacrifice to a pagan deity. Pietas also appears in the reused Antonine reliefs, one of which shows the emperor performing a suovetaurilia. In all these reused reliefs, the original emperor’s face has been re-carved to represent Constantine, or in two of the roundels on the northern side, his colleague Licinius.40 These show the proper role of the emperor in the state cult. Pagan deities also appear on the reliefs carved in the fourth century; on the two short sides of the arch, the sun and the moon are present 37

38 39 40

For the Ticinum silver medallion of 315, see RIC C 6 Ticinum 36. On the date, see Kraft, “Das Silbermedaillon Constantins des Grossen mit dem Christusmonogramm auf dem Helm,” L 6. 1139 = ILS S 694.4–5) has no Christian allusions, but speaks 151–78. The inscription (CIL in generic terms, contrary to the assertion of Barnes, Constantinee, 19, that the adjective iustis is a “virtual synonym for Christians” because it is used in the oracles of Apollo and in Lactantius Div. Institutes. Barnes ignores its usage here for “just arms (armis iustis),” not just men. This is certainly not a reference to a Christian military. Lenski, “Evoking the Pagan Past,” 204–57. Faust, “Original und Spolie,” 377–408. For an eloquent discussion of this pagan iconography, see Lenski, “The Sun and the Senate.”

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at Constantine’s victories, alluding to Constantine’s earlier veneration of Apollo-Sun,41 and the goddesses Victoria and Roma are depicted at the emperor’s side at the Milvian Bridge victory.42 But the scenes of sacrifice are most surprising on a monument dedicated after a decade of controversy over the necessity of this rite as a test of citizenship to honor an emperor who was openly Christian. Even if, as Elsner has argued, these scenes of sacrifices were open to multiple levels of interpretation, a literal reading presents a problematic form of religious worship to Christian and some non-Christian viewers.43 Yet the Arch of Constantine repeatedly displays traditional piety as an imperial virtue, explicitly tied to this emperor’s victories. Admittedly, the Arch is dated early in the reign of Constantine. Perhaps, one could argue, the Senate innocently erred on the side of tradition because of uncertainty, or because it thought Constantine remained devoted to a solar god. Neither of these positions is completely convincing for, as discussed earlier in this chapter, it seems that Constantine manifested his religious affiliation quite openly very soon after he had entered Rome on October 29, 312. He put up a statue with the saving sign, as Eusebius notes in his speech in Tyre in 314/315; he initiated work on a new Christian basilica early in his reign, likely in 312 or 313; and he openly spoke of paganism as “erroneous” in his official correspondence with his senatorial administrators. So, during the time of the Arch’s construction, a number of senators were aware of the emperor’s personal religious views. And after years of imperial legislation, most senators could not but help to be aware of the problems attendant on animal sacrifice for Christians. The key to this sacrificial imagery and the absence of Christian symbols or language lies, in my view, in seeing the senate as the primary agent in the design and execution of the monument. That is precisely what the dedicatory inscription states; the senate and the people dedicated the Arch.44 This honor had fallen to the senate since the early empire; and the senate’s assertion of its traditional role was reinvigorated in the late third century when the emperor Galerius had placed Rome under the provincial administration of Italy.45 So even if, as Marlowe proposed, the emperor approved the plans for the Arch as part of his reclamation of Maxentian monuments in this area 41

42

43 44 45

For a succinct discussion of these scenes, see Bardill, Divine Emperor of the Christian Golden Age, e 227–30. Lenski, “The Sun and the Senate,” and Bardill, Divine Emperor of the Christian Golden Age, e 227–30. Elsner, Art and the Roman Viewerr, especially 199–210. CIL L 6.1139 = ILS S 694.4–5. For the role of the senate in dedicating arches, see Lenski, “The Sun and the Senate.”

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presumably before he left Rome in January 313, he was not personally engaged with its planning and execution.46 Once Constantine left Rome for Milan where he met Licinius, he then went to Gaul to fight on the Rhine frontier and stayed there through 315; Constantine returned to Rome a mere four days before his decennalia ceremonies, entering the city probably on July 21, 315.47 So the senate, no doubt in consultation with the pagan urban prefects, executed the Arch. The reliefs – both those that were carved for the occasion and those that were reused and re-carved – and the dedicatory inscription reflect a senatorial view of the emperor and the reasons for his victory. Their interpretation of these events stands against contemporary Christian narratives that claimed Constantine’s victories as the act of their God. The literal message conveyed by scenes of sacrifice and traditional religious practice should not be denied, even if it is also part of the repertoire of traditional imperial iconography. On a literal level, the imagery on the arch asserted that from the view of the senate and people of Rome, there were no changes in the religion and ideology that accompanied Constantine’s victory. Constantine in Rome in 326

After defeating Licinius in 324, Constantine returned to Rome in July 326 to celebrate his vicennalia. This was a difficult time for his family; on his way to Rome, Constantine condemned his son Crispus to death, and likely during his visit, his wife Fausta was put to death with his approval. During his time in Rome, we have textual evidence of open conflict between Constantine and the senate and the people of Rome over his alleged refusal to participate in traditional pagan rites in a much-discussed passage from the history of Zosimus. It is worth quoting this passage in full: When an ancient festival fell due and it was necessary for the army to go up to the Capitol to carry out the rites, for fear of the soldiers he [Constantine] took part in the festival, but when the Egyptian sent him an apparition which unrestrainedly abused the rite of ascending to the Capitol, he stood aloof from the holy worship and thus incurred the hatred of the senate and people. Unable to endure the curses of almost everyone, he sought out a city as a counterbalance to Rome, where he had to build a palace.48 46 47 48

Marlowe, “Framing the Sun,” 223–42; and “Liberator urbis suae,” 199–219. Barnes, The New Empire, 71–2. e Zos. Nova Hist. 2.29.4-.30.1. Paschoud, “Zosime 2, 29 et la version païenne de la conversion de Constantine,” 334–53, argues for the authenticity of this event but dates it to 315, as had Straub, “Konstantins Verzicht auf dem Gang zum Kapitol,” 100–18 (= Regeneratio imperii,i 100–18).

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Zosimus likely took this anecdote from the lost history of the fourth-century historian Eunapius.49 The 326 date is secure because Libanius, in remarking this incident (Oration 20.24), notes that Constantine and his brothers were there, a possibility only at the vicennalia, as Wiemer rightly argued.50 But what caused this outburst? According to Zosimus, it was Constantine’s refusal to participate in rites on the Capitol that caused this response. Fraschetti identified these rites as the popular Ludi Romani celebrated in honor of Jupiter, September 12–15.51 But Libanius, in two speeches from the late 380s, only raises this incident as a way to teach imperial tolerance for free speech.52 Libanius does not narrate the content of the popular outbursts, so we cannot with any certainty prove Zosimus’s assertion that Constantine’s failure to participate in the Roman cult was included in the crowd’s verbal abuse. But it is unlikely that Libanius would have mentioned criticism on religious grounds because he was eager to portray Constantine as a ruler tolerant of his people in all matters, including their paganism.53 Regardless of what the crowd actually said to the emperor in 326, their interaction became part of the negative image of Constantine in pagan narratives as Zosimus preserved them.54 Moreover, it is worth observing that in neither Zosimus’s or Libanius’s account did the senate or individual senators take an open role. To summarize, the initial contacts with Constantine in 312 and 315 show a senate and senators eager to be supporters, and no evidence that the emperor’s adoption of Christianity led to overt political conflict in 312 or 315. However, the iconography of the Arch of Constantine reflects a distinctly senatorial viewpoint of Constantine’s victory that asserts the traditional Roman view of the proper relationship between the emperor and the gods of the state. As such, the Arch offers an alternative explanation for Constantine’s victory as compared to contemporary Christian and imperial narratives. However, Constantine’s 326 visit resulted in a popular outburst, the nature of which later pagan writers interpreted as evidence of resentment at this emperor’s religious policies. Although the later tradition reflects a popular rejection of Constantine’s religious initiatives, it also provides little evidence that senators were openly leading the popular response. 49 50

51 52 53 54

See for this assumption, Novak, “Constantine and the Senate,” 277. Wiemer, “Libanios und Zosimus über den Rom-Besuch Konstantins I  im Jahre 326,” 469–94. Fraschetti, La conversione da Roma pagana a Roma cristiana, 96–108. Lib. Or. 19, 20; cf. Lact. De.Mort.Pers. 17.2. I thank Raffaella Cribiore for this suggestion about Libanius’s motivation. Zosimus’s allegation that Constantine’s founding of a new capital in response to this event cannot be accurate for Constantinople was initiated before his 326 visit to Rome; Grig, “Introduction,” 3–30.

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Constantine left Rome in 326 and spent the remainder of his rule in the east, residing mostly in Constantinople. Indeed, some would interpret his continuing absence from Rome and foundation of a new capital, Constantinople, as further evidence of tensions between emperor and senate. But if senators felt annoyed at the emperor’s absence, we have little evidence of open hostility. On the contrary, after 324 this emperor’s willingness to appoint western senators to high offices in the east as well as the west must have pleased a good number of them. And Constantine kept appointing men from old senatorial families to the office of urban prefect, a highly prized position that made its recipient a mediator between emperor and senate. Even if some of these prefects were Christian, this was not a source of conflict, as my discussion of Constantine’s appointments to the office of urban prefect will show.

Part II: Was Constantine Actively Working to Christianize Rome’s Senatorial Aristocracy Through his Appointments of Urban Prefect? Eusebius claimed that among the practical steps that Constantine took to promote the Church was “to appoint as governors for the most part men consecrated to the saving faith” (VC 2.44). Hence, scholars have seen imperial appointments as one measure of Constantine’s efforts at Christianizing the empire; the key office used to determine Constantine’s efforts at converting Rome’s resident senatorial aristocracy is that of urban prefect of the city.55 Indeed, the office of urban prefect had become under Maxentius, and even more so under Constantine, not only prestigious, but powerful, for it made its holder responsible for an increasingly large share of the civil and judicial administration of Rome.56 Chastagnol, for example, interpreted Constantine’s advancement of Acilius Severus, the man many scholars identify as the first Christian in this position, in 325–6, as “une sorte de provocation à l’égard du Sénat.”57 Yet a broader consideration of the careers of 55

56

57

Chastagnol, La préfecture urbaine, e 180–3; but argued against by Novak, “Constantine and the Senate,” 277, and Barnes, “Statistics and the Conversion of the Roman Aristocracy,” 143, and again “The Religious Affiliation of Consuls and Prefects, 317–61,” 1–11. Coarelli, “L’Urbs e il suburbio,” 29, attributes the augmented powers in large measure to Maxentius but supplies no evidence. More likely, as Chastagnol, “Constantin et le Sénat,” 51–69, argues, this was a more gradual process that also saw moments of rapid acceleration especially after 312 when we see the innovative concession of cognitio vice sacra to the urban prefect, and the choice of a series of unknown functionaries at the discretion of the urban prefect; see Porena, “Problemi di cronologia costantiniana,” 218, n. 61 and 224, n. 94; and e Chastagnol, La préfecture urbaine, 180–3. Chastagnol, La préfecture urbaine, 180–3. e

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leading senatorial urban prefects under Constantine provides scant evidence for this view. There are few Christians in this position, and these emerge only after the 324 defeat of Licinius. Even then, Constantine shows a clear tendency to appoint men from “the narrow circle of Rome’s oldest, wealthiest and most established families rather than to use this office to distance himself from his predecessor in any political, ideological or religious way.”58 Loyalty and status mattered more than religion, and this emperor continued to rely heavily on western senators to oversee the city and maintain calm in his absence. Avianius Symmachus on Constantine’s Urban Prefects

I begin with a senatorial perspective on what made for a successful urban prefect under Constantine. Avianius Symmachus, a well-known pagan senator, eulogized five of Constantine’s urban prefects in epigrams written around 375.59 All of these men demonstrated loyalty and four of the five were from wealthy and established families. After discussing these five men, I will look at Constantine’s appointments to urban prefect more generally. Avianius begins by praising Aradius Rufinus for his ability to “spur on good princes” and “reign in tyrants in whose time [he] flourished.”60 Aradius had been urban prefect first under Diocletian and Maximian, for a second time under Maxentius, and for a third time under Constantine in the critical period after his victory, November 29, 312 to December 8, 313.61 Avianius praised Aradius for providing “protection for the fearful,” a possible allusion to the trepidation senators felt during changing times.62 As I noted earlier, Constantine’s appointment of Aradius Rufinus signaled continuity in the immediate aftermath of a civil war and assuaged senatorial fears of retribution. Aradius, like most of Constantine’s appointments, came from an established, wealthy senatorial family, although in 311 he was apparently its first 58 59

60 61

62

Marlowe, “Liberator urbis suae,” 206. See my discussion of the epigrams of Avianius Symmachus, in Salzman and Roberts, trans., Letters of Symmachus. Book 1, 11–17. See too Lizzi Testa, Policromia di cultura e raffinatezza editoriale. Avianius apudd Symmachus, Symm. Ep. 1.2.3.5–.6. Aradius Rufinus, PLRE E 1.775. Barnes’s suggestion, The New Empiree, 115–16, that the Aradius who was urban prefect in 303–4 was the father of Constantine’s urban prefect lacks support. The reference to Aradius as prefect a second time – iterum – indicates that his prefectureship under Maxentius was not valid; see Chastagnol, Les Fastes de la préfecture de Romee, 59–62. Avianius apudd Symm., Symm. Ep. 1.2.3.4. For Optatian’s expression of this sentiment, see note 24 above.

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consul.63 Constantine may have met Aradius or his father on his earlier visit to Rome as part of Diocletian’s entourage for the latter’s vicennalia.64 It is even possible that Aradius, through his African connections, had been part of a senatorial faction that had reached some sort of an understanding with Constantine and with the usurper Domitius Alexander before 312, for a moribund coin type SPQR Optimo Principi was revived for Constantine and Alexander before 312; this rare shared dye may be an indicator that both Constantine and Alexander tried to win over senators while Maxentius held the city.65 In any case, if Constantine had met Aradius earlier, he would have known that Aradius was a pagan.66 So too was the man who may be his son, the second subject of Avianius’s epigrams, L. Aradius Valerius Proculus signo Populonius.67 Avianius mentions with approval Proculus’s “sincere worship of the gods above.”68 But it was his loyalty that led to his illustrious career. Proculus served in Africa as praeses of Byzacena and then, after the defeat of Licinius, he served in the east as consularis Europae et Thraciae, as had several other western senators under Constantine.69 Proculus was at the imperial court at Constantinople as comes ordini primi intra palatium, before returning to Rome as urban prefect in 337–8.70 Constantine regarded Proculus highly; the emperor’s letter praising him and urging the senate to set up a statue in Proculus’s honor in the Forum of Trajan survives, a sign of this man’s pride in his ties to the emperor.71 Proculus’s loyalty and religiosity help explain why he was also a priest in the imperial cult.72 63

64

65 66 67 68

69

70

71 72

See Aradius Rufinus 10, PLRE E 1.775, assuming L.  Aradius Roscius Rufinus Saturninus Tiberianus and Q. Aradius Rufinus are his predecessors. See too Novak, “Constantine and the Senate,” 287, citing CIL L 6.1984 =  ILS S 5052; and Chastagnol, La préfecture urbaine, e 60–1. Such upward mobility is suggested too by his marriage to a descendant of L.  Valerius Publicola Balbinus Maximus, urban prefect in 255 and consul in 256. For Diocletian in Rome for his vicennalia in November 303, see Nixon and Rodgers, eds., In Praise of Later Emperors, 241 n.  73 and Chastagnol, “Les années régnale de Maximien Hercule en Egypte et les fêtes vicennales du 20 novembre 303,” 66 n.  2, citing Orosius, History 7.25.14. Bruun, Studies in Constantinian Chronology, 4–7. See a votive dedication to Sol and Luna in Proconsularis Africa CIL L 8.14688–9 = D 3937–8. Proculus 11, PLRE E 1.747–9. Symm. Ep. 1.2.4. Epigraphic evidence (PLRE 1.747–8) supports Proculus’s engagement in Roman cult as augur, r pontifex maior, r and quindecimvir sacris faciundis, as well as in the popular cult of the Great Mother and Attis. For his being consularis after 324, see PLRE E 1.748. For other western senators in the east, see the career of Locrius Verinus (note 86), and Moser, Senatui auctoritatem pristinam reddidisti,i chapter 2. Proculus 11, PLRE E 1.747–9, notes he was consul in 340, and urban prefect again in 351–2 under the usurper Magnentius. For the letter, see Weisweiller, “Inscribing Imperial Power,” 309–30. CIL L 6.1690–94; for his career, see Chastagnol, Les Fastes de la préfecture, 97–100. A  comes, Balerius, was the husband of a Christian woman buried in Syracuse in the fourth century;

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Indeed, the pagan Aradii served the Constantinian dynasty for decades; the first member of the Aradii that we can find as a Christian appears only around 376.73 The subject of Avianius’s third epigram, Amnius Anicius Iulianus, is a key figure for those scholars who see Constantine as aggressively advancing Christians as urban prefects.74 Iulianus, a member of the influential Anicii, was urban prefect in 326 immediately after Constantine’s defeat of Licinius.75 But considering his appointment as an attack on the senatorial elite cannot be substantiated. First, as we shall see later in this chapter, there is no good evidence that he was a Christian, and second, although the Anicii prospered under Constantine – no fewer than three urban prefects in this decade come from this family  – none of the sources suggest that their religion was what advanced them. Rather, they were remembered for what Avianius remarks: “wealth, nobility and power.”76 The Anicii rose to prominence during the third century.77 Because of this family’s nobility, the poet Prudentius in his Contra Symmachum boasted that one member of the family had the distinction of converting to Christianity “ante omnes generosos,” that is,“before all the other Roman aristocrats.”78 Based on this poem, some scholars have asserted that Amnius Anicius Iulianus – the subject of Avianius’s epigram – was that early fourth-century convert. But nothing specific supports this identification. Moreover, there are two other Anicii who were urban prefects a decade later under Constantine to whom Prudentius might be referring, namely Sextus Anicius Paulinus, urban prefect in 331–3, or Amnius Manius Caesonius Nicomachus Anicius Paulinus, urban prefect in 334–5.79 We have no direct evidence for any one of these Anicii. As Alan Cameron has recently argued, the formula in an inscription

73 74 75 76

77

78

79

Novak, “Constantine and the Senate,” 290, suggests that this was the same men that Avianius lauded, but there is no evidence he was a Christian, whatever his wife’s religion. For the inscription, see CIL L 10.7123 = ILCV V 174. See Salzman, The Making of a Christian Aristocracy, 95. Barnes and Westall, “The Conversion of the Roman Aristocracy.” Avianius apudd Symm., Symm. Ep. 1.2.5; and see Iulianus 23, PLRE E 1.473–4. Symm. Ep. I.2.5.1–2: Cuius opes aut nobilitas aut tanta potestas, cedenti cui non praeluxerit Amnius unus? See Salzman and Roberts, trans., The Letters of Symmachus. Book 1, 16, n. 24. Novak, “The Early History of the Anician Family,” 119–65, and additional bibliography in Cameron, “Anician Myths,” 134 and n. 3. Translation by Cameron, The Last Pagans of Romee, 180 of Prudentius, Contra Symmachum I.552–3: Fertur enim ante alios generosus Anicius urbis / Inlustrasse caput: sic se Roma incluta iactat, t “For it is said that a noble Anician before all others shed lustre on the city’s head (so glorious Rome herself boasts).” Sextus Anicius Paulinus 15, PLRE 1.679–70, and Amnius Manius Caesonius Nicomachus E 1.679. Anicius Paulinus 14, PLRE

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for Sextus Anicius Paulinus that calls him “benignus and sanctus” is also used for pagans, and sanctus was never used for “ordinary” Christians.80 Amnius Manius Caesonius Nicomachus Anicius Paulinus left no evidence of his religious affiliation either.81 If Prudentius is right about the Anicii converting early – which is assuming this Spanish poet knew the histories of these Roman families – we cannot say which of these early Anicii were Christian or if they were Christian at the time they held the urban prefectureship. The earliest securely attested Christian male member of the Anicii was Sextus Petronius Probus, consul in 371.82 References to this family by later authors remark its wealth and office holding, not its religiosity.83 To return to Avianius’s epigrams, we do not know the religion of his last two subjects, but what they share is loyalty to Constantine. Petronius Probianus, consul in 322 and urban prefect in 329–31, owes much to his family; his presumed father, Petronius Annianus, was consul in 314 and Constantine’s first recorded praetorian prefect after 312.84 Unlike the four other men Avianius lauded, the subject of his last epigram, Lucer(ius) or Locrius Verinus, urban prefect in 323–5, was likely a new man because his family is not attested earlier as senatorial.85 A trusted supporter of Constantine, his military experience made him the right

80

81

82 83

84

85

Cameron, The Last Pagans of Romee, 180; Novak, “Constantine and the Senate,” points to a Vestal Virgin (CIL L 6.2131) so described. I agree with Cameron, The Last Pagans of Romee, 180, that the omission of pagan priesthoods on an inscription to this prefect is not evidence that he was a Christian. The inclusion of this man on a list of senators from the early fourth century, with a name restored as [Am] nius Anicius P[aulinus], is not proof he held a pagan priesthood either because we cannot be certain if the list was that of a priestly college, as Groag, “Der Dichter Porfyrius in einer stadtrömischen Inschrift,” 102–9, observed. Sex. Claudius Petronius Probus 5, PLRE E 1.736–40. Ammianus 16.8.13, writing twenty years after Avianius, subverts the latter’s praise for this family’s success by ascribing to it greed greater than the generation that served Constantine. See Zos. Nova Histt. 6.7.4 on this family’s wealth. Petronius Probianus 3, PLRE E 1.733–4. Novak, “Constantine and the Senate,” 298 and n. 92. Probianus served as proconsul of Africa, where he was engaged in negotiating the Donatist E 10.5.18. Pagans, controversy, but that is no sign of his own religious affiliation; see Eus. HE like the proconsul of Africa, Anullinus, could be tasked with this job; on this see Chastagnol, Les fastes de la préfecture de Rom, 45–8, and my earlier discussion of Anullinus. Lucer(ius) or Locrius Verinus has been identified with Verinus 1 and Verinus 2 in PLRE 1.950–2. Barnes, The New Empire, e 118, follows PLRE E 1 in seeing this man as the son of Sallustius Verianus and Locria Magna, who were Christians (CIL 11.2558; 2580). However, the praenomen of Locrius is uncertain; the Codex-Calendar of 354 has it in the nominative, Lucer. (nom.), and the laws cite Lucrium (accusative), Locrio and Lucrio (dative). Based on this evidence, Chastagnol, Les fastes de la préfecture de Romee, 74, reconstructs his praenomen as Lucerius, hence not at all associated with the Christian Locria. Moreover, the father’s name is Verianus, not Verinus. Hence, I  agree with Chastagnol that we cannot use this inscription to assert Verinus’s religiosity. Moreover, although Verinus had experience dealing

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29

choice to serve as urban prefect during the decisive struggle with Licinius.86 Avianius’s praise of this man suggests the degree to which upwardly mobile senators, with imperial support, could gain acceptance within Roman aristocratic circles.There is no evidence, however, that his religion helped him to advance. Constantine’s Appointments of Urban Prefects

As Avianius’s epigrams show, the majority of urban prefects under Constantine came from established, wealthy senatorial families. None of the men in his epigrams are known Christians. This pattern is in keeping with this emperor’s appointments to this office in general; excluding Anullinus (who was appointed by Maxentius), there are twenty different named men (if we omit the two anonymous prefects) appointed by Constantine as urban prefect (see Table 1.1).Ten of the twenty named prefects are attested as pagan or probably pagan; omitting the three Anicii (about whom see above), there are only three men who are possibly, probably, or certainly Christian. The evidence for the one possible Christian is very insecure; Ovinius Gallicanus, urban prefect in 316–17, has been identified as the Gallicanus named as the donor of a basilica, but he is no more likely to have been the donor than his relative, Flavius Gallicanus, consul in 330.87 The first probable Christian was Acilius Severus, urban prefect from 325–6.88 Acilius Severus corresponded with the Christian Lactantius, and the former dedicated two lost books of letters to him; certainly Jerome considered both Acilius and Acilius’s son, who was a writer, Christian.89 If that is the case, we still do not know if the father was Christian when he held office, and we have some evidence that

86 87

88

89

with Christians when he served as vicar of Africa at the height of the Donatist controversy, 318–21, that does not assure his religiosity. The pagan Anullinus was similarly engaged in trying to bring a resolution to the Donatist issue when he was proconsul of Africa; see Chastagnol, Les fastes de la préfecture de Rom, 45–8 and my discussion. Finally, like the urban prefect Volusianus,Verinus saw military service, as alluded to by Avianius’s reference to him (Avianius apudd Symmachus, Symm. Ep. 1.2.7) as a “royal praetorian” in the east; Verinus likely was praeses Syriae, probably around 305; see Verinus 2, PLRE E 1.951. Novak, “Constantine and the Senate,” 301. Champlin, “Saint Gallicanus,” 70–6, suggests he be identified with the Christian Gallicanus noted in the Liber Pontificalis as donor of a church in Ostia during the reign of the emperor Constantine.This is possible, but there is no secure evidence nor is there any good reason to deny that Flavius Gallicanus, consul of 330, is the donor of the Ostian church. For a different view of the evidence that assumes religious affiliation of a number of urban prefects but without secure evidence, see Barnes, “Statistics and the Conversion of the Roman Aristocracy,” 135–47. Jer. Dee vir. ill. 111: Acilius Severus in Hispania: de genere illius Severi ad quem Lactantii duo epistularum scribunturr. See Acilius Severus 16 and 17, PLRE E 1.834–5, who is perhaps identical with Severus 3 and father of Severus 4, PLRE E 1.831.

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Michele Renee Salzman Table 1.1. Urban prefects of Rome, 306–337

Name

Dates

Religion

C. Annius Mar. 19, Pagan ANULLINUS (3) 306–Aug. 27, 307 (1st)

Attius Insteius Aug. 27, TERTULLUS (6) 307–Apr. 13, 308 Statius RUFINUS Apr. 13, (22) 308–Oct. 30, 309 Oct. 30, Aur. HERMOGENES 309–Oct. 28, (8) 310 Oct. 28, C. C(a)eionius Rufius 310–Oct. 28, VOLUSIANUS 311 (4)

Unknown

Oct. 28, Iunius FLAVIANUS (10) 311–Feb. 9, 312 Aradius Feb. 9, RUFINUS (10) 312–Oct. 27, 312 (2nd)

Unknown

Anonymous (11) 306/312 C. Annius Oct. 27, ANULLINUS (3) 312–Nov. 29, 312 (2nd) Nov. 29, Aradius RUFINUS (10) 312–Dec. 8, 313 (3rd) Dec. 8, C. C(a)eionius 313–Aug. 20, Rufius 315 (2nd) VOLUSIANUS (4) C.Vettius Cossinius Aug. 20, RUFINUS (15) 315–Aug. 4, 316

Evidence

Family

Appointed by and supported Maxentius: Zos. 2.10.1. Called impius iudex: Opt. 3.8.

Unknown

Rufini

Unknown

Pagan

Probably pagan

CIL L VI.2153.5: XVVIR SACRIS FACIVNDIS; S Not. Scav. 1917, 22: VIIVIR EPVLONVM M

Father of C(a)eionius Rufius Albinus (14).

Probably the dedicator of an inscription to Sol and Luna in Proconsularis Africa (CIL VIII.14688–9)

Aradii / Rufini

Unknown Pagan

See above.

Probably pagan

See above.

Aradii / Rufini

Pagan

See above.

See above.

Pagan

CIL VI.32040: PONTIFICI DEI SOLIS, AVGVRI, SALIO PALATINO

Rufini

Constantine and the Roman Senate

Name

Dates

Religion

Ovinius GALLICANUS (3)

Aug. 4, 316–May 15, 317

Possibly Christian

Septimius BASSUS (19) Valerius MAXIMUS (48) Basilius Locrius VERINUS (2)

May 15, 317– Sept. 1, 319 Sept. 1, 319–Sept. 13, 323 Sept. 13, 323–Jan. 4, 325 Jan. 4, 325–Nov. 13, 326

Unknown

Acilius SEVERUS (16)

Amnius Anicius IULIANUS (23)

Nov. 13, 326–Sept. 7, 329

Sept. 7, Publilius OPTATIANUS 329–Oct. 8, (3) Porphyrius 329 Petronius Oct. 8, PROBIANUS (3) 329–Apr. 12, 331 Sex. Anicius Apr. 12, PAULINUS (15) 331–Apr. 7, 333 Apr. 7, 333– Publilius OPTATIANUS May 10, 333 (3) Porphyrius (2nd) May 10, M. Ceionius 333–Apr. 27, IULIANUS (26) Kamenius 334 Amnius Manius Apr. 27, 334–Dec. 30, Caesonius Nicomachus 335 Anicius PAULINUS (14) Honorius

Probably pagan

Evidence

31

Family

Possibly identified with the Gallicanus of Lib. Pontt. 34.29 and/or an inscription from Mutina: CIL L 830 = D 1280, but this could also refer to Flavius Gallicanus (1)) Bassi CTh XVI.10.1

Unknown; see my discussion Probably Christian

Unknown; see my discussion

Christian

Corresponded with Lactantius; ancestor of Severus (17): Jer. De vir. ill. 111 Anicii. Father Probably Proconsul of Africa in of Paulinus 300/303: CIL (14), below. VI.1682 = D 1220. Wrote poem (Carm. 8) to Constantine praising Christ.

Unknown

Unknown; see my discussion Christian

Anicii

See above.

Unknown

Unknown; see my discussion

Anicii. Son of Iulianus (23), above. Possibly father of Anicius Auchenius Bassus (11), PVR 382–3.

(continued)

32

Michele Renee Salzman Table 1.1 (continued)

Name

Dates

Religion

C(a)eionius Rufius ALBINUS (14)

Probably pagan Dec. 30, 335–Mar. 10, 337

Anonymous (12)

Sometime between 326–37.

L. Aradius Valerius Mar. 10, PROCULUS (11) 337–Jan. 13, Populonius 338

Unknown

Pagan

Evidence

Family

Called a philosophus Son of Rufius and honored with a Volusianus statue: CIL L VI.1708. (4), above. Possibly identical with Albinus (3), author of works on logic and geometry (Boeth. Peri Herm. 1.4); he is identified with Anonymous (12) by Barnes, “Two Senators under Constantine,”40-9. Subject of a horoscope cited by Firmicus Maternus (Math. II.29.10–20). Identified with Albinus (14) above by Barnes, “Two Senators under Constantine,” 40–9. CIL L VI.1690 = D 1240 Aradii/ Rufini, and VI.1691–4, and Probably others: AUGUR, PONTIFEX MAIOR, the son of QVINDECIMVIR Aradius SACRIS Rufinus FACIUNDIS, (10), above. PONTIFEX FLAVIALIS. See too Symm. Ep. I.2.4.

In this table, those prefects noted as “Unknown” under religion are men for whom we cannot ascribe probable or possible religious affiliation because of a lack of secure documentation.

may suggest that he was not in the early fourth century; the name Acilius is included on a fragmentary inscription that has been conjectured to have been a list of senatorial members of a priestly college and likely dated to the pre-Maxentian period.90 More important, this inscription  – assuming the 90

See Groag, “Der Dichter Porfyrius in einer stadtrömischen Inschrift,” 102–9. The inscription cites an Acilius seventh on a list of prominent senators of the early fourth century; this man was likely the father of the urban prefect of the same name in 326–9.

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33

Acilius is the same man – shows him to have been an eminent senator before Constantine’s rule. Acilius Severus continued to loyally honor this emperor; for the 326 imperial visit, he disseminated gold plates that depicted Severus side by side with the emperor.91 It is perhaps worth remarking that although fragmentary, this gold plate has no Christian symbols. The one urban prefect who was certainly a Christian at the time he held office was the senator and poet Optatian. He twice served as urban prefect, for one month in 329 and then once again for a month in 333. Optatian’s short prefectures were unusual  – as was his career. At some earlier point, Optatian had been forced into exile. The poet, who wrote to the emperor, leaves the date and reasons vague: “Just ruler, look at me, afflicted by the punishment of exile because of a false accusation.”92 He is not the first senator to face exile; an eminent senator, identified by Barnes as Volusianus, twice urban prefect and twice consul under Maxentius and Constantine, was famously exiled by his enemies in Rome, likely by a hostile faction in the Senate soon after 315.93 Groag suggested long ago that Volusianus and Optatian  – whose names both appear the fourth-century inscription noted earlier  – were both exiled at the same time by senatorial enemies in this critical period of transition rule.94 That internal senatorial fighting was a problem is alluded to as well by the dedication of the Senate’s Arch of Constantine that praises the emperor for rescuing the state from both the tyrant and his faction – factione (CIL 6.1139 =  ILS 694). This is the same problem to which Aurelius Victor (Caes. 40.22) alludes when he decries the praetorians who supported factions under Maxentius. Some senatorial opposition in Africa is suggested by two inscriptions from soon after 312; both cite “factions” under Maxentius, a possible allusion to a divided senate.95 After 315, 91

92

93

94

95

Fuhrmann, “Studien zu den Consulardiptychen verwandten Denkmälern I,” 161–75 and Leader-Newby, Silver and Society in Late Antiquity, 44–5. Optatian, Carm. 2.3:  Respicee me falso de crimine, maxime rector, exulis afflictum poena. For the r most recent work on this man, see Wienand, Der Kaiser als Sieger. Barnes, “Two Senators under Constantine,” 40–9, citing Firmicus Maternus, Math. 2.29.10–24. I  follow Barnes’s identifications of the exiled father as C(a)eionius Rufius Volusianus 4 in PLRE E 1, likely exiled by enemies in the senate (Firm. Mat. Math. 2.29.11), E 1, 37, accused of magic and adultery, while the son, C(a)eionius Rufius Albinus 14, PLRE was exiled apparently under a different charge, and hence condemned by the emperor (Firm. Mat. Math. 2.29.18). Volusianus oversaw Constantine’s decennalia games but was exiled likely by the senate soon after he left office (after September 27, 315). For this suggestion, see Groag, “Der Dichter Porfyrius,” 108. For the senate’s right to exile, see the senate’s exile of Hymetius under the reign of Valentinian I, Amm. Marc. 28.1.24; and the argument of Barnes, “Two Senators,” 47 n. 78. See also, Lizzi Testa, Senatori, popolo, papi, 235–48. CIL L 8 7006 = ILS S 688 and CIL L 8 7007, both dated 312–15. The former reads: Triumphatori omnium gentium ac/domitori universaru[m factionum]/ q[u]i libertatem tenebris servitutis oppressam

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senators could take aggressive actions against their own, taking revenge in the senate on their opponents and accomplishing what the emperor’s proclamation of clemency promised he would not do. If Optatian shared the same exile as Volusianus, he did not share the same fate.Volusianus, likely in his sixties in 315, apparently died in exile.96 Optatian’s request was positively received, perhaps in part because it was accompanied by a book of poems (Carm. 1.15) that praised a victory of Constantine, generally identified as the critical defeat of Licinius in 324.97 Using these allusions, we can date Optatian’s recall soon after 324, before Constantine’s 326 visit to Rome and before Optatian’s brief urban prefectures, from September 8 to October 8, 329 and from April 7 to May 10, 333.98 Optatian’s spectacular return – and his religiosity – made Jerome mention his pardon in his Chronicle.99 Yet Optatian’s career also hints at tensions both within the senate and between the senate and emperor. If, as seems likely, the senate had exiled Optatian – like Volusianus – in this transition period, his recall by Constantine soon after 324 would raise some resentment among those who had engineered his fall. Constantine’s motives for the recall are not fully known. However, by the time Optatian sent his poems to Constantine, Optatian was a Christian. In poem 8, Optatian praises Christ: “You, son of god, sole salvation, sacred, you justly are the god of the good, you offer grace for the faithful”; the poet interweaves a Christogram into this poem and praises the emperor as one whose acts and rewards were “approved under the law of Christ.”100 Optatian’s religiosity was no doubt displayed to attract Constantine’s clemency. To sum up, Constantine, as the winner in a civil war, turned to established senatorial families of Rome to administer the city, as urban prefect, and the empire at large. But Constantine did not use his appointments of urban prefects to aggressively advance Christians in large numbers. Acilius Severus was likely the first Christian appointed to this office in 325–6, and he came from an established Roman family, as was true too for the Anicii who held sua felici vi[ctoria/nova] luce inluminavit... For discussion of this political idea see Grünewald, Constantinus Maximus Augustus, 71–3. 96 See Firm. Mat., Math. 2.29.14–.18.Volusianus’s son, Albinus, exiled for magic and adultery by the emperor, was also recalled, but likely after Optatian, perhaps in the spring of 326 after the death of Fausta, as proposed by Barnes, Constantinee, 144–50. 97 For discussion of this date and identification, see Wienand, Der Kaiser als Sieger, 397. r 98 Optatianus 3, PLRE E 1.649. 99 Jer. Chron. ad ann. 329: Pophyrius misso ad Constantinum insigni volumine exilio liberatus. 100 Optatian, Carm. 8: nate deo, solus salvator, sancte, bonorum/tu deus iusti, gratia tu fidei.i A Chi Rho is interwoven into the text; see Mueller, ed., Publilii Optatiani Porfyrii, Carmina, 8.5 (p. 45) for the visualization of the text. See too Wienand, Der Kaiser als Sieger, r 397; and Carm. 8.3–5:  Summe, fave! Te tota rogat plebs gaudia rite, / Et meritam credit, cum servat iussa timore/ Augusto et fidei, Christi sub lege probata.

Constantine and the Roman Senate

35

this office. Their nobility argues against the assumption that Constantine’s appointments were intentionally provocative or even aimed at converting the aristocracy. Yet that did not mean that there were not tensions between Constantine and Rome’s resident senatorial aristocracy and the senate. Constantine’s recall of the poet Optatian, whose cultural attainments and shared religion likely helped him to earn a pardon, would have been a cause for resentment among Optatian’s enemies who had likely engineered his exile in the senate. How the senate, as a corporate body, and how individual senators might express their criticism of the emperor is now worth considering.

Part III: Senatorial Powers and Freedom of Expression Scholars who posit an open conflict between senate and emperor assume that the senate and individual senators had the power and influence to assert their criticism overtly; those scholars who think that there was no conflict assume the same freedom of speech, but assume that such silent cooperation grew out of support for the emperor and his agenda, religious and otherwise. But both these perspectives rest on faulty notions about the power of the senate in the early fourth century and its freedom of expression. As we will see, the senate, as an institution, and individual senators were influential, but senate and senators faced severe limits on how they could express their political and/or religious opposition to the emperor and his policies. This is particularly true in the early years after the defeat of Maxentius divided the senate. The Senate

The Roman senate as an institution had weakened during the third century, yielding to distant armies its traditional right of proclaiming new emperors and having a much-reduced presence in the imperial administration of the tetrarchy.101 Moreover, the multiplication of imperial capitals under the tetrarchy undermined the centrality of Rome. As is well known, however, Maxentius’s rule went against these trends as he was based in Rome and relied heavily on senators for his administration. Maxentius had turned to a senator,Volusianus,

101

Matthews, Western Aristocracies and the Imperial Court; t Heather, “Senators and Senates,” 184–210; Lizzi Testa, “Costantino e il senato Romano,” notes 29–30 Costantino e il Senato romano, in Costantino I. Enciclopedia Costantiniana sulla figura e l’immagine dell’imperatore del cosiddetto Editto di Milano 313–2013, I, Roma 2013, 351–67.

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Michele Renee Salzman

to be his praetorian prefect and to lead a military operation in Africa.102 The fall of Maxentius did not stop the rising prestige of the senate as the new Augustus in the west, Constantine, continued Maxentius’s reliance on senatorial appointees in his administration, and elevated several administrative positions to senatorial (i.e., clarissimate) status to encourage aristocrats to serve in the government; his promise to restore the senate to its “ancient prestige” led him to a series of reforms, to be discussed later in this chapter, even as he increased the number of men in the Roman senate, thereby augmenting its influence as an institutional reflection of elite status.103 Nonetheless, the Roman senate under Maxentius and Constantine had a limited political role to play in the state. An emperor could consult with the senate or individual senators for advice, as had Maxentius before his battle with Constantine, but there was no necessity to do so, and this was increasingly unlikely as Constantine was rarely in Rome. The senate did receive communications from the emperor in the form of letters and laws; was called to discuss them; and ratified its response in final decrees (patrum decreta) sent to the imperial court and to the archives. The minutes of the senate were passed on to the emperor, including its discussions and resolutions, acclamations, and, presumably, silences.104 The senate could raise issues with the official intermediary between emperor and Senate, the urban prefect, and ask him to convey its concerns, as Symmachus did when he, as urban prefect, passed to the emperor a state paper concerning the removal of the altar of Victory from the Roman senate house.105 The urban prefect sent official reports on a regular basis to the emperor; so, for example, it was the urban prefect who wrote to Constantine to ascertain how to deal with the lightning strike on the Palatine palace in Rome, making the emperor respond with a clarification of his views on the consultation of public soothsayers.106

102

Maxentius appointed C. C(a)eionius Rufius Volusianus as praetorian prefect and sent him to Africa to fight the usurper Domitius Alexander; see C. C(a)eionius Volusianus 4, PLRE E 1.976–8. For Maxentius’s building program continued by Constantine, see especially Coarelli, “L’Urbs e il suburbio,” 1–58, and Valenzani, “La politica urbanistica tra i tetrarchi e Costantino,” 41–4. 103 Pan. Latt. 12(9) 20:  Senatum auctoritaem pristinam reddisti.i See too Salzman, The Making of a Christian Aristocracy, 31–2. 104 For a good discussion of the duties of the senate under Constantine, see Lizzi Testa, “Costantino e il senato Romano.” 105 See Symmachus, State Paperr 3; Chastagnol, la préfecture urbaine, e 66–8; and further discussion in Cameron, The Last Pagans of Rome, 31–56. e 106 C.Th. 16.10.1.1.

Constantine and the Roman Senate

37

As this brief overview shows, the senate’s political powers were largely reactive, and hence it exercised indirect influence as an institution. The senate could try to change imperial policy through a written request, or by sending an embassy to the emperor who was, now, rarely in Rome. So, for example, the senate directed no fewer than six embassies to the emperor in the late fourth century about the restoration of the altar of Victory.107 They also sent delegations of high-ranking senators to protest trials for magic undertaken by Valentinian’s officials.108 As far as we know, however, the senate did not send an embassy to Constantine regarding his religious actions; the motivation for the visit of the urban prefect Septimius Bassus to Constantine in Aquileia in 318 is not known, nor is there any indication in our sources that he went as part of a senatorial deputation.109 On the other hand, under Constantine the senate grew increasingly independent of the emperor, especially in terms of its membership. Emperors residing in Rome had generally taken an active role in nominating the men elected to the lower magistracies (praetor and quaestor) that opened the way to membership in the senate; but by the 320s, Constantine was increasingly leaving this choice to the senate itself.110 He also made it easier for younger sons of the nobility to stand for this office by removing the compulsory fine imposed on the older quaestors and praetors absent from Rome during the games they were obliged to stage.111 Senatorial cooptation of adlecti – men chosen for the senate – was likely adopted circa 335–7; although these newly adlected men had to be confirmed by the emperor, the senate could now take a leading role in advancing candidates.112 As noted earlier, Constantine also made more government positions senatorial in status.113 As the number of men of senatorial rank in the senatorial order increased, ambitious senators – be they members 107

Cameron, The Last Pagans of Rome, 37. e Amm. Marc. 28.1.24–5. See too Lizzi Testa, Senatori, popolo, papi,i 229–48. 109 Porena, “Problemi di cronologia costantiniana,” 205–46, at 214. The evidence is in the Codex-Calendar of 354, MGH AA 9.1, 67. The view, advanced by Alföldi, The Conversion of Constantinee, 76, that this was a senatorial embassy to protest the imperial laws concerning magic and haruspication cannot be substantiated. 110 Salzman, The Making of a Christian Aristocracy, 34 and notes 88–90 for further bibliography. e 83, sees the nomChastagnol, Le sénat romain, 254–58 and Chastagnol, La préfecture urbaine, ination of quaestors and praetors by the senate as early as 315, although the earliest secure dates are for Constantinople under Constantius II; see the C.Th. 6.4.12–15, 359. 111 C.Th. 6.4.1; 6.4.2. 112 Salzman, The Making of a Christian Aristocracy, 34 and notes 88–90 for further bibliography. Chastagnol, Le sénat romain, 254–58 gives this interpretation of the evidence, a fragmentary inscription preserved in the Einsedeln manuscript. 113 See especially Heather, “Senator and Senates,” 184–210; Salzman, The Making of a Christian Aristocracy, 34–5. 108

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of the senatorial order by birth or by virtue of holding one of the new offices that bestowed senatorial standing  – who wanted to advance into the senate could look to members of this body for support. This led to a senate that, by the second half of the fourth century, would have more autonomy in public, which is why, I suggest, we hear about senatorial embassies mostly in the later fourth century. Constantine supported the budding influence of the senate. So, for his 326 visit to Rome, the emperor minted a series of gold medallions including one of quite significant weight, 4.5 solidi. On its reverse it depicts a laureate figure in a toga, holding a globe, the symbol of the world, and a scepter, the symbol of rule; it is surrounded by the legend SENATUS, and the obverse shows the diademed bust of Constantine with the legend CONSTANTINUS AUG(ustus).114 These medallions were gifts to the wealthy and prominent senators of Rome. A second issue, of silver coins, shows the celebration of the senate and the people of Rome as part of this special series.115 It is possible, too, that the circus games to honor the senate, the Victoria Senati, were added for this visit; this day is attested for the first time in the Codex-Calendar of 354 on August 4, just nine days after the vicennalia games of Constantine on July 25. Certainly, these games should be linked to the resurgence of the senate’s prestige in the early fourth century. One of the traditional roles of the senate was the consecration of the deceased emperor. In the early empire the senate issued a senatus consultum, making the deceased emperor a divus or divine, and granting him a temple and priests; by the third century all this generally took place before the funeral.116 By the late third century, under the second tetrarchy, the senate’s role in the deification process was upstaged, or so it would appear from the sources that omit the vote of the senate as a precursor to deification.117 The senate still met and issued a senatus consultum, but that meeting and vote generally happened after the funeral and proclamation of deification took place. This vote was one important vestige of senatorial authority in venerating a ruler and his family. In any case, this is the procedure that seems to have been followed after the death of Constantine, whose burial and funeral 114

115

116 117

Alföldi, The Conversion of Constantinee, 99. For the coin, see RIC C 7: 326 no. 272. For the argument that this coin was not issued for Constantine’s consulship, see Moser, Senatui auctoritatem pristinam reddidisti,i chapter 1. For example, see the Genium PR R silver coin from Rome, RIC C 7: 327 no. 276 and Alföldi, The Conversion of Constantinee, with Moser, Senatui auctoritatem pristinam reddidisti.i HA Pert. t 14.10. See too MacCormack, Art and Ceremony in Late Antiquity, 102–4. For Constantius, see Eus. HE E 8.13.12; and Pan. Latt. 6.14.3 (307 CE), 7.7.1.165 (310 CE); and bibliography in Bonamente, “Dall’imperatore divinizzato all’imperatore santo,” 344 n. 18.

Constantine and the Roman Senate

39

in Constantinople acknowledged him as one of Rome’s deified emperors. Nonetheless, in Rome, the senate also met and recognized Constantine as a divus, honoring him with traditional rites, including the ceremonial display of images showing his elevation to heaven, and recognizing his sons as heirs of a divi (Eusebius VC 4.69.2). This title showed the deep veneration for the emperor and his sons, which is one reason it continued in use through the fourth and fifth centuries; however Constantine was the last emperor to also issue coins to commemorate his deification and consecration, which happened with senatorial decree, although these coins now omitted traditionally pagan religious signifiers associated with the imperial cult, such as altars, temple, or funeral pyre.118 The senate’s role in the deification and consecration of deceased emperors elucidates their reaction to the news of Constantine’s death and burial in Constantinople. As Eusebius tells it, at this news the senate and people of Rome “begged that the remains of their Emperor should be kept by them and laid in the Imperial city.”119 This request was denied, creating some degree of resentment.120 The Roman senate and people viewed Rome as the proper place for the emperor’s burial; his interment and funeral in the city, the “home of the empire and of virtues” (lar imperii virtutumques), was considered a reward for serving the state well.121 Moreover, the emperor’s mother had already been buried in Rome. But Constantine’s funeral and burial in Constantinople denied the Roman senate and people their traditional honor. Nonetheless, despite their disappointment and a strong, critical response, the senate consecrated this emperor.122 The Resident Senatorial Aristocracy

If the senate as an institution faced limits on avenues for open political expression, individual senators confronted even greater dangers in publicly criticizing an emperor. Aside from possible exile, overt opposition could 118

For the continued use of divus and deification of emperors after Constantine, see Boin’s chapter in this volume. See also Van Dam, The Roman Revolution, 59 and note 31. For the coins, see Bruun, “The Consecration Coins of Constantine the Great,” 19–31; and Bonamente, “Dall’imperatore divinizzato all’imperatore santo,” 344, n. 19. 119 Eus. VC C 4. 69.2. 120 Aurelius Victor, Caes. 41.17; see Epit. t 41.17; Origo 6.35; and Van Dam, The Roman Revolution of Constantinee, 59. 121 MacCormack, Art and Ceremony in Late Antiquity, 134, citing Amm. Marc. 25.10.5. For Rome as the lar imperii virtutumque, e see Amm. Marc. 16.10.3. 122 For a good discussion of the funeral with bibliography, see Cameron and Hall, trans., Eusebius’ Life of Constantinee, 331–50.

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jeopardize the standing not only of the senator, but his family. So what could a powerful senator do to express his political opinions if they were at odds with those of the emperor? One vignette, preserved by the late fifth-century senator Sidonius Apollinaris, depicts one senatorial response:  Ablabius, a powerful prefect of senatorial rank but not a member of Rome’s senate, was so angered by Constantine’s murder of his wife and daughter that he surreptitiously posted an anonymous epigram on the palace doors denouncing the emperor.123 The attribution of this action to Ablabius is likely wrong, but it is the kind of concealed criticism that was considered possible, and indeed it had become legendary, which is why the Christian Sidonius repeats it.124 But it is perhaps significant that this prefect could deplore the emperor only by concealing his identity. Fears of informers and of attacks on their property were real senatorial concerns. There were other less dangerous avenues for individual senators to resist and criticize an emperor’s policies. A senator could try to convince his fellow senators to write a letter in protest; this we do not hear of under Constantine, but it is conceivable. A senator could refuse to hold high office, although this makes them hard to find in the historical record. If critical of the emperor’s patronage of Christianity, a senator could more actively support the traditional cult; and we do hear of senators holding priesthoods, and more than one, in Rome. Some scholars have suggested that the popularity of the cult of the Magna Mater and Attis among Rome’s senatorial elite at the Vatican sanctuary opposite the shrine to St. Peter’s in Rome, and the accretion of priesthoods in the state cults into the late fourth century, shows a high level of elite support. These developments could simultaneously be a way to resist pro-Christian imperial policies.125 In time, aristocratic support for pagan cult would fade, but some pagans felt and resisted the winds of religious change even under Constantine, if we accept the evidence in the poetry of Palladias, recently dated to this emperor’s reign.126

Conclusion I have discussed Constantine’s visits to Rome, his appointments of Constantine’s urban prefects, and the avenues for expressing the political will 123

Sidonius Apollinaris, Epigram 5.8.2. For this Ablabius, see Fl. Ablabius 4, PLRE E 1.4; he was dismissed by Constantius II, not Constantine. Barnes, Constantinee, 145, suggests that Sidonius may have taken this idea from a fourth-century anti-Christian writer who attributed it to Ablabius for subversive reasons. 125 See the suggestion of McLynn, “The Fourth Century Taurobolium,” 312–30; and Salzman, “The End of Public Sacrifice,” 167–83. 126 Wilkinson, “Palladas and the Age of Constantine,” 36–60. 124

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of the senate and senators separately in order to highlight problems with earlier interpretations of Constantine’s relationship with the senate and the resident senatorial aristocracy of Rome. Neither Alföldi’s view of an aggressively Christianizing emperor facing a strong senate in a series of open political confrontations, nor the counter narrative of a Christianizing emperor facing a powerful but acquiescent, nobility fully explain the range of responses to the religious and political changes taking place under Constantine. I have proposed, instead, a senate and resident senatorial aristocracy that were influential, but limited in political power, eager to cooperate with a pragmatic ruler who, although a Christian, was more interested in loyalty than in the conversion of Rome’s senatorial aristocracy. In such a world, overt political opposition was understandably infrequent. Nonetheless, it is unlikely that there was no resentment and/or opposition to the policies Constantine ushered in to Roman society. We hear of plots against Constantine, or so the emperor believed this of his son Crispus and perhaps his wife Fausta. Even a relatively weak senate and aristocracy can engage in certain forms of resistance, albeit concealed out of prudence, fear, and the desire to curry favor from the dominant ruler. So, in my view, the re-carved heads of the emperor Constantine sacrificing on the senate’s arch, and the consecration of the baptized, Christian Constantine can be understood as disguised forms of resistance to change. Nor should we expect explicit testimony to senatorial resistance. As Scott observed, official history – what he calls the public transcript – is indifferent to the opinions of subordinates, even if they are, as here, senators.127 Moreover, senate and senators were safer if they could tacitly misrepresent their opposition to change. This makes the extant evidence more difficult to analyze, for senators could hide their motivations from peers as well as the emperor lest they fall to either, as happened to the senators Volusianus, Optatian, and Albinus. Open criticism of an emperor could be expressed only in certain situations, as in the relative safety of a crowd, or in a furtive manner as was attributed to Ablabius. Often, times of transition allow for freer expression of speech, as after the death of Constantine or on his accession to rule. Otherwise, overt opposition was simply too dangerous for senate and senators. Finally, Constantine’s advancement of loyal aristocrats from old, established families, even some now Christian, to the office of urban prefect was aimed at winning support for his regime. He valued these men as administrators and those with high status were most effective in ensuring stable government. Many of these men were eager to cooperate with Constantine,

127

Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance, 1–50. e

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especially because he rewarded them with prestigious offices. But even when Constantine’s interventions into senatorial politics – as seems likely in the case of Optatian’s recall  – fueled resentment, it was also to the emperor’s advantage to accept the official version of events and to ignore such reactions. This was certainly easier to do when residing in Constantinople. Yet modern scholars should acknowledge concealed senatorial resistance to Constantine’s political and religious changes. Its existence illuminates not only the halting progress of Christianity among Rome’s resident senatorial aristocracy, but also better explains certain tensions and anomalies in the evidence than do the approaches advanced by earlier scholars.128

Bibliography Alföldi,A. The Conversion of Constantine and Pagan Rome, trans. H. Mattingly (Oxford, 1948). Bardill, J. Constantine, Divine Emperor of the Christian Golden Age (New York, 2012). Barnes, T. D. “Two Senators under Constantine.” JRS 65 (1975): 40–9. Constantine and Eusebius (Cambridge, MA, 1981). The New Empire of Diocletian and Constantine (Cambridge, MA, 1982). “The Religious Affiliation of Consuls and Prefects, 317–361,” in From Eusebius to Augustine (Aldershot, 1994): 1–11. “Statistics and the Conversion of the Roman Aristocracy.” JRS 85 (1995): 135–47. Constantine: Dynasty, Religion and Power in the Later Roman Empire (Chichester, 2011). Barnes,T. D. and R.W. Westall,“The Conversion of the Roman Aristocracy in Prudentius’ Contra Symmachum.” Phoenix 45 (1991): 50–61. Barnish, S. J. B. “A Note on the collatio glebalis.” Historia (1989) 254–6. Bonamente, G. Dall’imperatore divinizzato all’imperatore santo,” in P. Brown and R. Lizzi Testa, eds., Pagans and Christians in the Roman Empire: The Breaking of a Dialogue (IVth–VIth Century A.D.): Proceedings of the International Conference at the Monastery of Bose (October 2008) (Vienna, Zurich, Berlin, Muenster, New Brunswick, London, 2011), 339–70. Brandt, H. Konstantin der Grosse. Der erst christliche Kaiser (Munich, 2006; 2nd ed., 2007). Bruun, P. “The Consecration Coins of Constantine the Great,” in H. Zilliacus and K.- E. Henriksson, eds., Commentationes in honorem Edwin Linkomies sexagenarii A.D. MCMLV editae (1954) 19–31 (= Arctos n.s. 1). Studies in Constantinian Chronology (New York, 1961). Burckhardt, J. The Age of Constantine, trans. M. Hadas (New York, 1949; 2nd ed.). Trans. of Die Zeit Konstantins des Grossen (Leipzig, 1880). Cameron, Alan, The Last Pagans of Rome (Oxford, 2011). “Anician Myths,” JRS 102 (2012): 133–71. Cameron, Averil and S. Hall, trans. Eusebius’ Life of Constantine, Introduction,Translation and Commentary (Oxford, 1999). Champlin, E. J. “Saint Gallicanus (Consul 317),” Phoenix 36 (1983): 71–6. Chastagnol, A. La préfecture urbaine à Rome sous le Bas-Empire (Paris, 1960). Les Fastes de la préfecture de Rome au Bas-Empire (Paris, 1962). 128

I am grateful to Noel Lenski and Muriel Moser for reading and commenting on this paper.

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Le sénat romaine sous le règne d’Odoacre: Recherches sur l’épigraphie du Colisée au Ve siècle (Bonn, 1966). “Les années régnales de Maximien Hercule en Egypte et les fêtes vicennales du 20 novembre 303,” RN 6, no. 9 (1967): 54–81. “Constantin et le sénat,” in Atti dell’Accademia Romanistica costantiniana (Perugia, 1976): 51–69. Coarelli, F. “L’Urbs e il suburbio,” in A. Giardina, ed., Società Romana e impero tardoantico. Roma politica economia paesaggio urbano II (Rome, Bari, 1986), 1–58. Curran, J. Pagan City and Christian Capital: Rome in the Fourth Century (Oxford, 2000). Drake, H. Constantine and the Bishops: The Politics of Intolerance (Baltimore, 2000). “The Impact of Constantine on Christianity,” in N. Lenski, ed., The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine (Cambridge, 2011), 111–36. Elsner, J. Art and the Roman Viewer:  The Transformation of Art from the Pagan World to Christianity (Cambridge, 1995). Faust, S. “Original und Spolie. Interaktive Strategien im Bildprogramm des Konstantinsbogens,” MDAI R 117 (2011): 377–408. Fraschetti, A. La conversione da Roma pagana a Roma cristiana (Rome, Bari, 1999). Fuhrmann, H. “Studien zu den Consulardiptychen verwandten Denkmälern I.  Eine Glasschale von der Vicennalienfeier Constantins des Grossen zu Rom im Jahre 326 Nach Chr.,” RM 54 (1939): 161–75. Girardet, K. M. Der Kaiser und sein Gott: Das Christentum im Denken und in der Religionspolitik Konstantins des Grossen (Berlin, 2010). Grig, L. and G. Kelly, “Introduction,” in L. Grig and G. Kelly, eds., Two Romes: Rome and Constantinople in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 2013), 3–30. Groag, E. “Der Dichter Porfyrius in einer stadtrömischen Inschrift.” Wiener Studien 44–5 (1924–7): 102–9. Grubbs, J. Law and Family in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 1995). Grünewald, T. Constantinus Maximus Augustus. Herrschafts propaganda in der Zeitgenössen Überlieferung (Stuttgart, 1990). Heather, P. “Senator and Senates,” in Averil Cameron and P. Garnsey, eds., The Cambridge Ancient History 13 (Cambridge, 1998), 184–210. Herzog, R., ed., Nouvelle histoire de la littérature latine, 5. Restauration et renouveau, 284–374 (Brepols, 1993). Johnson, M. J. “Architecture of Empire,” in N. Lenski, ed., The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine (Cambridge, 2011), 278–97. Jones, A. H. M. The Later Roman Empire 284–602: A Social, Economic, and Administrative Survey (Norman, 1964; repr. Baltimore, 1986). Kraft, K. “Das Silbermedaillon Constantins des Grossen mit dem Christusmonogramm auf dem Helm.” JNG 5–6 (1956–5): 151–78. Krautheimer, R. Three Christian Capitals: Topography and Politics (Berkeley, 1983). Leader-Newby, R. E. Silver and Society in Late Antiquity (Aldershot, 2004). Lenski, N. “Evoking the Pagan Past:  Instinctu divinitatis and Constantine’s Capture of Rome,” JLA 1, no. 2 (2008): 204–57. “The Reign of Constantine,” in N. Lenski, ed., The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine (Cambridge, 2011): 59–90. “The Sun and the Senate: The Inspiration for the Arch of Constantine,” in Costantino il Grande: alle radici dell’Europa (Vatican City, forthcoming).

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LizziTesta, R. Policromia di cultura e raffinatezza editoriale. Gli esperimenti letterari dell’aristocrazia romana nel tardo Impero, in J.-M. Carrié and R. Lizzi Testa, eds., Humana Sapit. Études d’antiquité tardive offertes à Lellia Cracco Ruggini (Paris, 2002), 187–99. Senatori, popolo, papi. Il governo di Roma al tempo dei Valentiniani (Bari, 2004). “Costantino e il senato Romano,” in Costantino I. Enciclopedia Costantiniana sulla figura e l’immagine dell’imperatore del cosiddetto Editto di Milano 313–2013, I  (Roma, 2013), 351–67. MacCormack, S. Art and Ceremony in Late Antiquity (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1981). MacMullen, R. Christianizing the Roman Empire: AD 100–400 (New Haven, 1984). Marlowe, E. “Framing the Sun: The Arch of Constantine and the Roman Cityscape.” Art Bulletin 88 (2006): 223–42. “Liberator urbis suae. Constantine and the Ghost of Maxentius,” in B. C. Ewald and C. F. Norena, eds., The Emperor and Rome: Space, Representation and Ritual (Cambridge, 2010): 199–219. Matthews, J. Western Aristocracies and the Imperial Court (Oxford, 1975; rev. ed. 1990). McLynn, N. “The Fourth Century Taurobolium.” Phoenix 50 (1996): 312–30. “Pagans in a Christian Empire,” in P. Rousseau, ed., A Companion to Late Antiquity (Oxford, 2009), 572–87. Momigliano, A. The Conflict between Paganism and Christianity in the Fourth Century (Cambridge, 1963). Moser, M. “Senatui auctoritatem pristinam reddidisti.The Roman Senatorial Aristocracy under Constantine and Constantius II” (diss. University of Cambridge, 2013). Mueller, L., ed. Publilii Optatiani Porfyrii, Carmina (Leipzig, 1877). Nixon, C. E. V. and B. S. Rodgers. In Praise of Later Roman Emperors: The Panegyrici Latini (Berkeley, 1994). Novak, D. M. “Constantine and the Senate.” Ancient Society 10 (1979): 271–310. “The Early History of the Anician Family.” Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History 1 (1979): 119–65. Olgon, J. E.  L. and H. J. Lawlor, trans. Eusebius:  The Ecclesiastical History (Cambridge, MA, 1957). Parisi Pressice, C. “L’abbandono della moderazione. I  ritratti di Costantino e della sua progenie,” in A. Donati and G. Gentili, eds., Costantino Il Grande: La civilità antica al bivio tra Occidente e Oriente (Milan, 2005), 138–55. “Konstantin als Iuppiter. Die Kolossalstatue des Kaisers aus der Basilika an der Via Sacra,” in A. Demandt and J. Engemann, eds., Imperator Caesar Flavius Constantinus. Konstantin der Grosse. Ausstellungskatalog (Mainz, 2007), 117–31. Paschoud, F. “Zosime 2,29 et la version païenne de la conversion de Constantine.” Historia 2 (1971): 334–53. Porena, P. “Problemi di cronologia costantiniana. L’imperatore, Vettius Rufinus, e il senato.” AnTard 13 (2005): 205–46. Salzman, M. R. On Roman Time: The Codex-Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity (Berkeley, 1990). The Making of a Christian Aristocracy. Social and Religious Change in the Western Roman Empire (Cambridge, MA, 2002). “The End of Public Sacrifice: Changing Definitions of Sacrifice in Post-Constantinian Rome and Italy,” in J. W. Knust and Z. Várhelyi, eds., Ancient Mediterranean Sacrifice (Oxford, 2011), 167–83.

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Salzman, M. R. and M. Roberts, trans. Letters of Symmachus. Book 1.  Introduction and Commentary by Michele Renee Salzman (Atlanta, 2012). Scott, J. Domination and the Arts of Resistance, Hidden Transcripts (New Haven, 1990). Speidel, M. P. “Maxentius and His Equites Singulares in the Battle at the Milvian Bridge,” CA 5 (1986): 253–62. Straub, J. “Konstantins Verzicht auf dem Gang zum Kapitol.” Historia 4 (1955):  297–313 (=Regeneratio imperii [Darmstadt, 1972]) 100–18). Valenzani, R. S. “La politica urbanistica tra i tetrarchi e Costantino,” in S. Ensoli and E. La Rocca, eds., Aurea Roma. Dalla città pagana alla città cristiana (Rome, 2000), 41–59. Van Dam, R. The Roman Revolution of Constantine (Cambridge, 2007). Remembering Constantine at the Milvian Bridge (New York, Cambridge, 2011). Weisweiller, J. “Inscribing Imperial Power:  Letters from Emperors in Late Antique Rome,” in C. Witschell and R. Behrwald, eds., Historische Erinnerung im städtischen Raum: Rom in der Spätantike (2012), 309–30. Wiemer, H. U. “Libanios und Zosimus über den Rom-Besuch Konstantins I. im Jahre 326.” Historia 43 (1994): 469–94. Wienand, J. Der Kaiser als Sieger. Metamorphosen triumphaler Herrschaft unter Constantin I (Berlin, 2012). Wilkinson, K. W. “Palladas and the Age of Constantine.” JRS 99 (2009): 36–60.

2

BEYOND PAGANS AND CHRISTIANS : POLITICS AND INTRA-CHRISTIAN CONFLICT IN THE CONTROVERSY OVER THE ALTAR OF VICTORY Robert R. Chenault The controversy surrounding the removal and attempted restoration of the altar of Victory to the Curia in Rome is one of the most notorious episodes in late Roman history. It has customarily been treated as a defining moment in a longer conflict between paganism and Christianity, symbolized by a dramatic “debate” in 384 CE between the pagan prefect of Rome, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, and bishop Ambrose of Milan.1 Sourcebooks have contributed to this impression by (understandably) continuing to print the texts of Symmachus and Ambrose together.2 Only recently have scholars recognized that framing the issue in this way reproduces the perspective imposed on it by Ambrose himself, who purposefully published a copy of Symmachus’s Third Relatio in his own collection of letters, “disadvantageously sandwiched” between his rebuttals.3 Ambrose’s misleading presentation of the “debate” was quickly taken up and elaborated by his admirers, notably Prudentius in his poem Against Symmachus and Paulinus of Milan in his biography of Ambrose.4 In contrast to the focus on the protagonists Symmachus and Ambrose, the role of Damasus in the affair has received much less attention; this, too, reflects Ambrose’s presentation of the episode, for he accorded Damasus only a passing mention in his first letter to Valentinian II. A deeper investigation of Damasus’s actions in the controversy, however, reveals an inconsistency in the Roman bishop’s response to the Senate’s attempts to restore the altar to its

2

3 4

See, e.g., Bloch, “Pagan Revival,” 213–20; Sheridan, “Altar of Victory”; Matthews, Western Aristocracies, 203–11; Evenepoel, “Ambrose vs. Symmachus.” Klein, Streit; t Croke and Harries, Religious Conflictt, 28–51; Ramsey, Ambrosee, 174–94; Liebeschuetz, Ambrosee, 61–94. Cameron, Last Pagans, 39–51, quotation at 40; see also McLynn, Ambrosee, 166–7. Prudentius, Contra Symmachum II; Paulinus, V. Ambrosiii 26.

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traditional place in the Curia. This chapter argues that the apparent inconsistency in Damasus’s approach should be seen in the context of conflict not between pagans and Christians, but within the Christian community of Rome. While there is ample evidence for intra-Christian conflict during Damasus’s episcopate, stemming initially from his contested election as bishop in 366 and subsequently from heated doctrinal debates over marriage and celibacy in the Roman Church, the dispute surrounding the altar has not figured in discussions of intra-Christian conflict at Rome. This chapter proposes to revisit the familiar problem of the altar by situating it in the context of ongoing intra-Christian strife; it argues that Damasus’s actions in the affair were conditioned by his need to respond to internal challenges from schismatic rivals who threatened his position as leader of the Roman Church.5

Damasus and the Altar: A Review of the Evidence As is well known, the altar was removed by order of the emperor Gratian, apparently at the same time that he also withdrew public subsidies for the traditional cults of Rome.6 The Senate then authorized an embassy, led by Symmachus, to go to Milan and present the Senate’s case in person, but the ambassadors were denied an audience and returned to Rome empty-handed.7 Unfortunately, the chronology of these events is uncertain, the only indication being Ambrose’s imprecise comment, in rebutting Symmachus’s Third Relatio of 384, that they occurred “almost two years ago.”8 Gratian’s decision is customarily dated to 382 and most likely occurred late in the year; the embassy Symmachus led would then fall early in 383.9 In August 383, the forces of Magnus Maximus defeated and killed Gratian in Gaul. The next year, with the young emperor Valentinian II precariously enthroned in Milan, the Senate renewed its appeal, authorizing Symmachus to dispatch his petition. In responding to this second senatorial initiative, Ambrose reminds Valentinian that a number of Christian senators had opposed the first request, and that Damasus had forwarded to Ambrose a 5

6

7 8

9

For a similar reading of Damasus’s epigrams, see Sághy, “Pope Damasus”; Trout, “Invention,” 519. Cameron, Last Pagans, 42–6, argues persuasively that it was the removal of public financing, not of the altar per se, that prompted pagan senators to protest Gratian’s decision no fewer than six times between 382 and 394. Gratian is also commonly asserted to have repudiated the title pontifex maximus, but this issue has been clarified by Cameron, “Imperial Pontifex.” Symm. Rel. 3.1. l Amb. Ep. 72[17].10, “ante biennium fermee.” Symmachus’s relatio is dated to the summer of 384 by Vera, Commento storico, 21. Cameron, “Repudiation,” 97.

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memorandum in which these senators had registered their disagreement with the Senate’s action and threatened to absent themselves from senatorial meetings.10 Oddly, however, Ambrose does not say anything about Damasus’s stance in 384; yet if Damasus had opposed the second petition, it seems likely that Ambrose would have mentioned it. On the contrary, Ambrose thought it necessary to explain why he himself was the only bishop voicing a protest; he claims that the Senate’s petition in 384 was so unexpected that the other bishops – implicitly including Damasus – were unable to act.11 This is patently disingenuous: Why should it be easier for Ambrose in Milan to muster a response than for Damasus in Rome? His excuse is designed to anticipate an obvious objection that would be raised in Valentinian’s council: Why was Ambrose involving himself in this dispute at all? Not only were his letters “unsolicited by and almost certainly unwelcome to their recipient,” but he was also intervening in the affairs of another bishop’s see.12 The odd mismatch between Ambrose’s activism and Damasus’s passivity in 384 makes it all the more necessary to explain the stances of both men. In the case of Ambrose, the dispute over the altar offered a low-risk opportunity to flex his muscles with the imperial court of Valentinian and Justina; in particular, Ambrose sought to establish the principle that in questions of religion, secular authorities must defer to the judgment of bishops like himself, a principle he would soon invoke in the confrontation with the court over its request for a basilica in Milan to be used for “Arian” services.13 In contrast, there does not seem to be any obvious explanation for the inconsistency on the part of Damasus, who was willing to assist a group of dissenting Christian senators in 383 but evidently took no action in 384. Although Damasus was quite elderly by the summer of 384 (he would die in December), the episcopal staff presumably could still have communicated his wishes.14 Moreover, if the bishop’s health were truly failing, Ambrose might be expected to say as much; certainly it would seem far more rhetorically effective to claim to be speaking on behalf of the dying leader of the Church than to offer the lame excuse that his fellow bishops were simply caught flat-footed. Alternatively, it could be imagined that Damasus felt no need 10 11 12 13 14

Amb. Ep. 72[17].10. Ibid. Cameron, Last Pagans, 36. This argument is developed in Chenault, Rome without Emperors. Indeed, Cameron, Last Pagans, 273–319, has recently argued that Damasus composed the Carmen contra paganos in autumn 384 (see further discussion later in this chapter), which would imply that the bishop retained his physical and mental faculties nearly until the end.

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to reiterate his position on an issue he considered settled, or that Ambrose deliberately omitted to mention an intervention by Damasus in 384, the better to claim the whole spotlight for himself and to pose as the sole opponent of Symmachus. Neither of these explanations is satisfactory. Ambrose clearly implies that Damasus took no action, yet the change in emperors – which had emboldened the Senate to renew its request – ought to have moved Damasus likewise to reiterate his position. There is little choice but to conclude that Damasus did in fact respond differently to the Senate’s petitions in 383 and 384, intervening in the first case but not in the second. Therefore, it is difficult to maintain that Damasus could have been motivated by simple horror that Christian senators would be forced to look upon an offensive pagan altar; after all, he had expressed no opposition to the altar in the sixteen years he was bishop before 382, nor did he act after Ambrose’s letters opposing the restoration of the subsidies and altar were presumably made known to him in 384.

Damasus and Roman Senators The apparent inconsistency between Damasus’s stance in 383 and his position in 384 suggests that his different responses may have been shaped by the complex political and religious situation in Rome during these years. One possible approach is to evaluate the bishop’s actions in light of what else is known about his relations with Roman senators. Recently, Neil McLynn has suggested that Damasus “played a more subordinate role in Roman society than that usually assigned to him,” which left him scrambling to attach himself as a “distinctly junior partner in a series of collaborations with Christian aristocrats.”15 This view accords with what Ambrose says about Damasus’s involvement in the controversy. According to Ambrose, it was Christian senators who prepared a petition stating their objections; they gave it to Damasus, who forwarded it to Ambrose. Yet if these senators took the initiative, a different problem arises, for these supposedly offended senators evidently voiced no opposition when the second appeal was authorized in 384. The silence of the Christian senators posed a problem for Ambrose, who interpreted their absence – for which there could have been any number of individual reasons – as evidence of a coordinated, principled decision to boycott the meeting.16 Unfortunately, 15

16

McLynn, “Damasus of Rome,” 320. In Ambrosee, 152, however, he suggests that Damasus had actively “drummed up” opposition among Christian senators. Amb. Ep. 72[17].9–11; Evenepoel, “Ambrose vs. Symmachus,” 293.

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it is impossible to identify these dissident senators, let alone to gauge their numbers (notwithstanding Ambrose’s claim that they were “countless”). Probably these senators came from the ranks of the newly rich Christian families whose status derived from the imperial service; now retired to Rome, they occupied the lower tiers of the senatorial order, inhabiting a world of “sub-luxury” in which aspirations to high culture were expressed through carved sarcophagi and classicizing verse epitaphs.17 Such an alliance between upwardly mobile Christian aristocrats and the bishop of Rome can perhaps be glimpsed in the epitaph Damasus composed for the young Christian bride Proiecta, who died in December 383. As the wife of Turcius Secundus, scion of one of Rome’s noble families, and the daughter of Florus, a new man who had risen to become praetorian prefect at Constantinople, Proiecta through her marriage exemplified the attempt by new aristocratic families to lay claim to the prestige of the old.18 As with Damasus’s commission for Proiecta, an alliance between Christian aristocrats conscious of their lesser status and the titular head of the Roman Church had something to offer both parties. In composing their memorandum of dissent, the Christian senators, and to a degree Damasus himself, were expressing their opposition to an initiative authorized by the Senate, and thus were very likely placing themselves at variance with the urban prefect, one of whose most important roles was to be the “intermediary” between Senate and emperor.19 It is worth asking, then, if Damasus’s different responses in 383 and 384 could have been affected by his relationships with the urban prefects at these two moments. If the Senate’s embassy to Gratian on the subject is correctly dated to late 382 or early 383, the urban prefect at this time was Anicius Auchenius Bassus, a member of one of Rome’s most noble families and a Christian.20 There is evidence for possible tension between Bassus and Damasus, for Bassus heard a case brought by Damasus against Ephesius, bishop of the Luciferians in Rome. But Bassus, a long-standing believer in the catholic faith, knew that there was no taint of heresy in Lucifer, a man whom he was well aware had suffered exile for ten years on behalf of the catholic faith; in keeping with the

17

18 19 20

Brown, Through the Eye of a Needle, e 250, on sarcophagi and “sub-luxury”; similarly, Trout, “Metrical Epitaphs,” 11, suggests that inscribed verse epitaphs open a window onto the literary tastes and social aspirations of those from the “sub-elite ranks.” McLynn, “Damasus of Rome,” 319; see further Cameron, “Esquiline Treasure.” Chastagnol, La préfecture urbaine, 66–80. e Jones, Martindale, and Morris, Prosopography, 1:152–4,“Anicius Auchenius Bassus 11.” Bassus’s prefecture is dated only by CTh 1.6.8 (November 22, 382), but it must have extended past Gratian’s death in August 383: see Vera, “Lo scandolo edilizio,” 94.

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firmness of his integrity, he rejected the accusations of Damasus, saying that he refused to persecute catholic men and men of undamaged faith, and especially adding that the decisions of emperors appeared to be directed only against heretics, not against these men, who keep the most holy faith without courting the world’s approval.Then for the first time did Damasus blush, because a judge had been found who alone kept the imperial commands by interpreting them with utmost piety.21

Damasus’s defeat is portrayed sarcastically as a shock to both sides, as if he could normally count on the secular authorities to do his bidding. Evidently Damasus had attempted to win a judgment against the schismatic Luciferians under the authority of an imperial law against heretics, but the prefect Bassus had rejected the claim as groundless.22 Bassus’s dismissal of the case attests to the limits of Damasus’s influence and the “independent judgement which the Christian nobles of Rome brought to bear upon the affairs of their church.”23 At the same time, it is problematic to connect the bishop’s rebuff in court with his assistance to the senators unhappy about the altar. Our vague chronological data do not allow us to say which event came first: Was Damasus’s intervention in senatorial business motivated by his defeat in Bassus’s court, or was Bassus’s judgment colored by resentment that Damasus had lent assistance to a minority faction in the Senate? Moreover, it is not easy to see why either Damasus or Bassus would have chosen to continue a feud rather than patch up relations. If his treatment in Bassus’s court played a role in Damasus’s decision to oppose the Senate’s protest in 383, this might provide a specific motivation that was no longer operative in 384, when a new prefect was in office.This could explain why Damasus did not actively oppose the Senate’s second appeal in 384. Instead, Ambrose cites Damasus’s opposition to the first appeal in order to make it appear that this was a principled objection that remained in force, when in fact it may have been an opportunistic, tactical gambit specific to the political configuration during Bassus’s prefecture. Ironically, the fact that Bassus and Damasus were both Christians might have made it more difficult for them to work together. By contrast,

22

23

Collectio Avellana 2.85, ed. Guenther, 30, “sed Bassus olim catholicam fidem venerans sciebat in Lucifero nullam haereseos fuisse pravitatem, quippe quem et bene noverat pro fide catholica decem annos exilia fuisse perpessum, et pro constantia suae integritatis reppulit accusationes Damasi negans se facturum, ut homines catholicos et integrae fidei viros insequeretur, dicens maxime, quod ipsae constitutiones imperatorum contra haereticos solummodo promulgatae videantur, non contra hos, qui sanctissimam fidem sine saeculi ambitione conservant et tunc primum erubuit Damasus, quod inventus est iudex, qui solus imperialia scripta piissime interpretans tueretur.” r On the important legal distinction between heretics and schismatics, see Sághy, “Pope Damasus,” 280. McLynn, “Damasus of Rome,” 315–16.

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Damasus appears to have had at least a functional working relationship with the pagan prefect of 384. When Symmachus was accused of mistreating Christians while enforcing an imperial edict against the looting of temples, he was able to call on Damasus for a testimonial that he was doing nothing of the sort. Invoking the support of the “praiseworthy bishop” in his response to Valentinian II, Symmachus had a powerful witness for his claim that no Christian had been mistreated.24 This interaction suggests that relationships among urban officials could transcend religious differences; moreover, if Symmachus’s accusers in this complaint were Christians alleging “persecution” at the hands of the pagan prefect – a charge Damasus declined to endorse – it would further demonstrate the divisions among the Christians of Rome.25

Damasus and His Christian Rivals While Damasus’s involvement in the controversy over the altar is usually considered in light of his relations with Roman senators (whether pagan or Christian), it is also possible that the primary audience for this gesture may have been rival Christian leaders and the lay followers of schismatic groups. Indeed, there were several different bands of rigorist opposition in Rome; at least three and probably four other men are attested as bishops at Rome during Damasus’s episcopate. The most dangerous of these rivals was Ursinus, whom Damasus had defeated in the disputed papal election of 366, but the Luciferians and Donatists also had their own bishops in the city; to these can be added the Novatians (a bishop Leontius is attested in 388).26 All of these groups had their origins in hard-line opposition to the secular Roman authority, either during the persecutions or more recently during the allegedly “Arian” regime of Constantius II. Faced with continuous guerrilla opposition from these hard-line groups, Damasus seized an opportunity to shore up his own credentials as the legitimate leader and spokesman of Rome’s Christians by taking a visible stand in opposition to the Senate’s request to return the altar. As is well known, Damasus’s election in October 366 had been marred by bloodshed as his supporters clashed in pitched battles with the partisans of his

25

26

Symm. Rell. 21.3, “respondeat litteris episcopi Damasi,” i 21.6, “laudabili viro episcopo”; McLynn, “Damasus of Rome,” 306–7. Piétri, “Damase,” 42, cautions against interpreting Damasus’s support for Symmachus in this matter as evidence for their personal relationship. Soc. Historia ecclesiastica 5.14.8.

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rival Ursinus.27 Although Damasus prevailed, he was never quite able to put this original sin entirely behind him; even after his death, the acclamations of the faithful in support of his successor Siricius still included denunciations of Ursinus.28 For nearly three years after the disputed election, Damasus faced renewed attempts by Ursinus and his supporters to reestablish themselves in Rome.29 In September 367, Valentinian I permitted Ursinus and his deacons to return to the city.30 Within a few months, the urban prefect Praetextatus expelled them again out of concern for public order.31 In late 368, the emperor was informed of new disturbances fomented by gatherings of Ursinians outside the walls, prompting the emperor to extend the zone of exclusion out to the twentieth milestone and to banish Ursinus to Gaul.32 Although Ursinus was permitted to leave Gaul in 371/2, he was still banned from entering Rome or the surrounding diocese.33 Despite the banishment from Rome of Ursinus and eight of his colleagues, Damasus continued to suffer harassment from his enemies. In 371/2 the bishop was forced to defend himself against a criminal charge of adultery brought by Isaac the Jew, allegedly suborned by Ursinus.34 After his acquittal, Damasus sought vengeance against the Italian bishops who had supported Ursinus, convening a synod that condemned them in 373. Nevertheless, Damasus had difficulty enforcing this judgment, despite obtaining a rescript in 374 from Valentinian ordering Simplicius, the vicarius urbis Romae, to do so. These same troublemakers were still causing headaches in 378, when Damasus convened a new council of sympathetic Italian bishops to once again request the help of the secular authority in enforcing ecclesiastical judgments against recalcitrant bishops. According to the petition drawn up by this council, Ursinus even in exile “was striving, albeit covertly, to stir up all the basest men, using individuals whom he has illicitly and sacrilegiously ordained; following his example, a number of bishops who occupy their churches improperly ... provoke them to reject the judgment of the 27

28 29 30 31 32 33 34

Amm. 27.3.12–13; Collectio Avellana 1.7, ed. Guenther, 3; for the chronology of these events, see Lippold, “Ursinus und Damasus.” Green, “Supporters,” argues that Ursinus was also backed by the Luciferians in 366. Collectio Avellana 4.2, ed. Guenther, 48. Piétri, “Damase,” 33–5; Lizzi Testa, Senatorii, 129–70, chronology at 169. Collectio Avellana 5, ed. Guenther, 48. Collectio Avellana 7.2, ed. Guenther, 49–50. Collectio Avellana 8 and 9, ed. Guenther, 50–1. Collectio Avellana 11 and 12, ed. Guenther, 52–4. Amb. Ep. extra collectionem 7.8, with Lizzi Testa, Senatori,i 171–81 and 196–203. This trial is dated to 373 by Coss kun, “Maximinus,” and to 374/5 by Piétri, Roma Christiana, 1.420–3. On this document, see Liebeschuetz, Ambrosee, 244–8.

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Roman bishop.”35 By mobilizing crowds to intimidate witnesses and judges, these pseudo-bishops had been able to retain their sees illegally for years in flagrant defiance of Damasus’s authority. The support Ursinus was able to mobilize among Italian bishops provided reinforcement to Damasus’s opponents in Rome; the synodal letter names several bishops who were flouting summons issued by ecclesiastical courts, including Urbanus of Parma, Florentius of Puteoli, and Restitutus of Carthage.36 In addition to the continuing trouble from Ursinus, Damasus had to contend with other schismatic groups, each with a leader who likewise claimed to be “bishop.” The Donatists in Africa had ordained one Claudianus and sent him to Rome “as if he was a bishop, to cause trouble by proclaiming, contrary to the teaching of the divine scriptures and contrary to the laws of the gospel, that all bishops, past or present, had lacked divine consecration, and, to use his own expression, had been pagans.”37 Although Gratian had ordered his expulsion from Rome and return to Africa, Claudianus had ignored these judgments; “though frequently arrested,” he continued to perform rebaptisms on poor followers whose consent he allegedly had purchased.38 Presented with this evidence of the ineffectiveness of imperial officials, Gratian instructed the vicarius Aquilinus to carry out the requests of the bishops’ council under threat of punishment should he fail to comply.39 Even in the last years of his episcopate Damasus was still struggling to stamp out resistance by bringing legal pressure and violent intimidation to bear against dissident groups who often found both physical refuge and group solidarity in their private meeting places.40 Clerics and officials loyal to Damasus dragged the Luciferian presbyter Macarius, known for his extreme fasting and powers of exorcism, from a private house where he was holding a vigil and beat him so badly that he later died of his wounds.41 Damasus also used his defensores to bring a suit against the Luciferian bishop Ephesius in 382/3 (see earlier in this chapter). The involvement of the defensores suggests 35

36 37

38 39 40 41

Amb. Ep. extra collectionem 7.4, “per eos quos illicite sacrilegus ordinavit, vilissimum quemque, occulte licet, sollicitare conatur, eoque exemplo nonnulli episcopi, qui male ecclesiis incubant, usu temeritatis suae et profani conspiratione contemptus, ne adquiescant Romani sacerdotis iudicio, lacessunt.” t Amb. Ep. extra collectionem 7.5–6. Amb. Ep. extra collectionem 7.7, “ab expulsis Claudianus est ordinatus, et ad perturbandam urbem Romam quasi episcopus destinatur. qui contra Scripturae praecepta divinae, contra iura evangelica, vacuos omnes mysteriorum, atque, ut eius verbum exprimamus, paganos fuisse vel praeteriti temporis dicat episcopos, vel praesentis” (trans. Liebeschuetz, Ambrosee, 251). Ibid. Collectio Avellana 13.10, ed. Guenther, 57, “piaculum neglectae sanctionis incurres.” Maier, “Topography”; see also Bowes, Private Worship, 99–103, 191–202. Collectio Avellana 2.78–82, ed. Guenther, 28–30, with Piétri, “Damase,” 41.

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that the case may have involved a dispute over property that Damasus was trying to reclaim from the schismatic group.42

Damasus and Jerome If the Christians of Rome had become used to a certain level of ongoing conflict among competing factions, Jerome’s arrival in autumn 382 injected a new and potentially destabilizing element.43 Jerome’s forceful entrance on the Roman scene appears to have shifted the focus of conflict from schism to heresy – away from the legitimacy of Damasus’s election and toward doctrinal questions about the place of asceticism within the Church. It is clear, for example, that Damasus’s supporters included a range of clergy who disagreed strongly with each other about the degree to which ascetic practices, such as celibacy and fasting, should be encouraged or valued. The controversy over the altar of Victory was unfolding at the same time as this intense internal debate was getting under way; indeed, it coincides quite closely with the dates of Jerome’s residence in Rome. The ongoing factional strife during Damasus’s episcopate also helps to explain why and how Jerome came to Rome in the first place.Writing to the bishop from the Syrian desert in the mid-370s, Jerome (after excusing himself for presumptuously initiating the contact) sought Damasus’s judgment as to which claimant should be regarded as the true bishop of Antioch.44 Jerome announced his opposition to the trinitarian formula of the three hypostases favored by Meletius and his support for the strictly unitarian position espoused by Paulinus and Damasus himself. Ironically, Paulinus had been ordained by Lucifer of Cagliari, the Nicene purist whose supporters in Rome were causing trouble for Damasus. By addressing his request to the “chair of Peter and the faith praised by the apostolic mouth,” Jerome appealed to Damasus’s self-image as the successor of Peter and guarantor of Nicene orthodoxy, while simultaneously introducing himself as an advocate for these same principles in the east.45 Although these letters evidently went unanswered, Jerome was not easily deterred. It was perhaps during Jerome’s second stay in Antioch circa 380 that he composed his first polemical treatise,

43

44 45

For a similar attempt to reclaim a church used by the adherents of Ursinus, see Collectio Avellana 6.2, ed. Guenther, 49; Piétri, “Damase,” 44–5, notes that the defensores are first attested under Damasus. For the chronology of Jerome’s years in Rome, see Cavallera, Saint Jérôme, e 2:22–6, 155–6; his framework is followed also by Williams, The Monk and the Book, 277–80. Jer. Ep. 15–16, with Williams, The Monk and the Book, 273–6; Cain, Jeromee, 22–3, 32–3. Jer. Ep. 15.1, “mihi cathedram Petri et fidem apostolico ore laudatam censui consulendam.”

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the Altercation of a Luciferian with an Orthodox, in which an orthodox interlocutor demonstrates that the Church has consistently opposed rebaptism of clerics and laymen.46 With these writings, Jerome performed the delicate balancing act of supporting Paulinus while distancing himself from the Luciferians’ extreme views on rebaptism, thereby demonstrating that his commitments were perfectly aligned with those of Damasus. Thus when Jerome arrived in Rome in autumn 382, serving as an interpreter for the ecclesiastical delegation led by Paulinus and Epiphanius of Salamis, he had already carefully prepared the ground to ingratiate himself with Damasus. When the eastern bishops returned home, Jerome stayed on as an advisor to Damasus; his linguistic skills and knowledge of eastern affairs would have been especially useful, and the promotion of virginity may also have been a shared interest.47 Jerome claims that Damasus also directed him to revise the various versions of the Old Latin Gospels by checking them against the Greek manuscripts. This was a delicate assignment, for it aroused the opposition of skeptical traditionalists like Ambrosiaster, who worried that such translation work might allow unauthorized interpretations to be insinuated into the sacred text.48 Jerome’s expertise in Greek and especially in Hebrew set him apart from other Roman Christian writers. While Jerome used this advantage to disparage his critics, Damasus seems to have valued having access to this expertise. One revealing exchange shows that Damasus had posed the same set of several scriptural questions to both Ambrosiaster and Jerome, doubtless knowing that the two men would explicate the passages in different ways.49 Peter Brown has recently suggested that Jerome would have presented himself to Damasus as a “man of formidable expertise, whose service would add luster to the pope.”50 By retaining such an expert, Damasus demonstrated his powers of patronage and elevated himself above the parochial horizons of his Roman clergy, not to mention his sectarian rivals.51 His employment by Damasus provided Jerome with an imprimatur that he used to help break into the Roman literary scene. He began by publishing a collection of letters designed to attract the favor of potential patrons 46 47 48

49 50 51

Kelly, Jeromee, 62–4. Jer. Ep. 123.9, with Williams, The Monk and the Book, 49–52; Cain, Jeromee, 44–5. Cain, Jeromee, 50–2. Likewise, Ruf. Apol. contra Hieronymum 2.36–41, ed. Simonetti, 111–16, criticizes Jerome for introducing Jewish ideas into Christian teaching under cover of a new translation from Hebrew. Ibid., 53–67. Brown, Through the Eye of a Needle, 260. e Likewise, Damasus’s anxiety about controlling his own clergy has been suggested to underlie CTh 16.2.20 (370); see Lizzi Testa, “Clerical Hierarchy,” 97–101.

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and advertise his promotion of asceticism.52 His reputation as a linguist and expert on Scripture drew the interest of Marcella, a wealthy widow of the illustrious Caeionian family.53 Jerome also became an energetic participant in the controversies buffeting the Roman Church. In 383, a Roman writer named Helvidius published a treatise arguing that Mary had not remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus, but had lived as a normal married woman and had produced other children; thus she could serve as a model for both virgins and married women, and her example demonstrated that celibacy was equal, not superior, to marriage. Later that year, Jerome composed a refutation, On the Perpetual Virginity of Mary against Helvidius. Although Jerome portrayed himself as yielding to the requests of his spiritual brothers in responding to Helvidius, he is unlikely to have needed much prompting to defend the superiority of celibacy and the ascetic lifestyle.54 Jerome followed up his attack on Helvidius with a full-scale treatise on virginity in spring 384. Although nominally addressed to Eustochium, the young daughter of Paula who had taken a vow of perpetual virginity, this lengthy text was clearly meant for a wider audience; Jerome himself referred to it as a pamphlet (libellus), as did his later critic Rufinus.55 In this text, Jerome gives advice to Eustochium on how best to preserve her vow by avoiding the many temptations and corrupting influences that were omnipresent in Roman high society: rich food and drink, the company of married women, false virgins, worldly clerics, and sham ascetics. Jerome makes clear his belief that virginity is superior to marriage, which is deserving of praise only because it is a necessary instrument for the begetting of virgins.56 Although he claims not to want to dwell on the tribulations of married life – for which Eustochium is referred to his earlier treatise Against Helvidius and to the writings of Damasus and Ambrose on virginity – Jerome is sensitive to the charge that his praise of virginity verged on disparagement of marriage.57 Jerome’s strictures on the inferiority of marriage were upsetting to moderate Christians. Writing around this time, the man known as Ambrosiaster, likely a presbyter in the Roman Church, criticized those “who think that in accepting new things the old must be rejected.” The context of this remark shows that Ambrosiaster was objecting specifically to the spread of ascetic ideas that devalued marriage, for he cites Matthew to show that Jesus had 52 53 54 55 56 57

Cain, Jeromee, 12–19, 33–42. Jer. Ep. 127.7. Jer. Helv. v 1, with Hunter, Marriage, e 188–92. Jer. Ep. 22.2.2; 22.22.3; 31.2.2; Ruf. Apol. contra Hieronymum 2.5, ed. Simonetti, 86. Jer. Ep. 22.20.1. Jer. Ep. 22.22; Helv. 22. v

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opposed divorce on the ground that marriage was a union sealed by God.58 Ambrosiaster also alleges that those who seek to forbid marriage are guilty of heresy, likening them to Marcion and Manichaeans.59 This corresponds well with Jerome’s warning to Eustochium that she will face insults from fallen virgins that she is a “miserable Manichaean nun.”60 It seems clear that Helvidius, Ambrosiaster, and Jerome were circulating their competing ideas on marriage and virginity at the same time and could even have been responding directly to one another’s writings.61 Thus when the Senate renewed its request for the return of the altar in the summer of 384, the Christian community of Rome was in the midst of a serious internal debate over the relative merits of marriage and virginity. Pagan aristocrats may well have been aware of the outlines of this debate. According to Rufinus, Jerome’s caustic portrait of worldly Roman clerics in his letter to Eustochium proved immensely popular among pagans who “competed with one another in copying it out for themselves.”62 While Rufinus certainly had his reasons to exaggerate, what we know of the Roman literary scene in the 380s does indicate that satire was immensely popular among the Roman reading public. During these same years, Ammianus Marcellinus lamented Romans’ narrow interest in Juvenal while simultaneously pandering to current literary tastes by including satirical descriptions of the Roman aristocracy and plebs in his own history.63 One of Jerome’s pagan readers may have been none other than Eustochium’s uncle, Julius Festus Hymetius, a former proconsul of Africa who had tried to thwart her ascetic vocation by directing his wife to make the girl look more presentable.64 In contrast to the abundant evidence for the intense debate over marriage and celibacy roiling the Roman Church, there is no indication that the Senate’s petition for the restoration of the altar in 384 attracted any attention from Christian writers at Rome. In autumn 384, Roman high society was shaken by the deaths of two of its leading members, one Christian and one pagan. In September or

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60 61 62 63 64

Ambrosiaster, Quaestt. 127.7, “sunt enim qui quasi nova accipientes vetera repudianda putant.” t On Ambrosiaster’s clerical background, see Lunn-Rockliffe, Ambrosiasterr, 83–6. Ambrosiaster, Quaestt. 127.17–18. Rufinus, Apol. contra Hieronymum 2.43, ed. Simonetti, 117, likewise alleges that Jerome’s denigration of marriage in his later treatise Against Jovinian amounted to the expression of Manichaean dogma. Jer. Ep. 22.13, “miseram et monacham et Manicheam.” Hunter, “Adam and Eve,” 285, followed by Lunn-Rockliffe, Ambrosiasterr, 23–4. Ruf. Apol. contra Hieronymum 2.5, ed. Simonetti, 86, “certatim sibi describebant.” t Amm. 28.4.14. Jer. Ep. 107.5.

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October, Eustochium’s older sister Blesilla died.65 A former society girl who had been left a widow after a brief marriage, she had converted to a life of self-renunciation following an illness in the summer of 384; she died after only a few weeks of living under Jerome’s extreme fasting regimen. Blesilla’s death was a severe blow to her mother, Paula, whom Jerome rebuked for an excessive display of grief at the funeral.66 It also provided a focus for aristocrats disturbed by the influence that freelance spiritual advisors like Jerome wielded over the women of their households; from this point until his departure from Rome in summer 385, Jerome was on the defensive against his Christian opponents.67 Within a few weeks of Blesilla’s death, the great pagan aristocrat Vettius Agorius Praetextatus also died.68 His friend Symmachus, still serving as urban prefect, duly informed both Valentinian II in Milan and Theodosius in Constantinople of the passing of the man who had been designated consul for 385. He reported that the death of the great man had brought an outpouring of public grief, the people testifying to his glorious memory with acclamations in the theater.69 The Senate requested that Praetextatus be honored with public statues; the award of such honors, Symmachus added, would inspire others with the desire to imitate his virtue.70 In response, the emperors authorized the dedication of a statue to Praetextatus in the Roman Forum, an extraordinary, possibly unique, honor for a civilian aristocrat in this period. This concession – perhaps explained by the fact that he died as consul-designate – was probably embodied in an imperial letter that would have been inscribed on the base of his statue.71 The widespread grief for Praetextatus, a high-profile pagan who was being accorded public memorials and held up as a model for imitation, provoked some Christians to attack him in sharply partisan terms. Writing shortly afterward, Jerome independently corroborates Symmachus’s report of the public reaction to the death of Praetextatus while reveling in the shocking reversal of fortune that had laid the illustrious senator low: “a few days before, the highest dignitaries of the city walked before him while he, as though celebrating a triumph over conquered enemies, mounted the 65

66 67 68 69 70 71

For this date, see Nautin, “L’activité littéraire de Jérôme de 387 à 392,” 251 n.20; Cavallera, Saint Jérômee, 2:156, places her death in October or November. Jer. Ep. 39, with Kelly, Jeromee, 98–9. Cain, Jeromee, 99–128. Cameron, Last Pagans, 310, argues for a date in October or November 384. Symm. Rell. 10.2. Symm. Rell. 12.2. Chenault, “Statues of Senators,” 125.

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Capitoline citadel; the Roman people received him with a kind of clapping and dancing, and the whole city was convulsed at his death.”72 In light of the public reaction to Praetextatus’s death, Jerome’s harsh commentary looks defensive and reactive; its purpose was primarily to remind aristocratic Christians – who may well have shared in the general grief for their illustrious peer – that certain examples were more deserving of imitation than others.Thus Jerome sets the death of Praetextatus against that of Lea, a Christian woman who had converted to the ascetic life and led a circle of virgins, contrasting both the manner of their lives and the afterlife that awaited each. The same context may be postulated for the so-called Carmen contra paganos, an anonymous satirical poem that mocks a deceased pagan prefect, likely Praetextatus.73 Alan Cameron has recently made a characteristically meticulous argument that the author of this poem was none other than Damasus himself. Regardless of whether Damasus is the author, however, the poem expresses sentiments comparable to Jerome’s comments on the unnamed pagan dignitary and most likely should be dated to the autumn of 384.While we know nothing about the performance context of the poem or the degree to which it circulated, it seems designed to construct an image of a common pagan enemy for literary-minded Christians. Such a foil might have been especially useful at a time when Roman Christians were divided over the place of celibacy in the Church and aristocratic families were split by the growing tension between the new fashion for asceticism and the relentless need to reproduce the family line and provide for the transmission of property to the next generation.74 If Damasus is indeed the author, it is tempting to see both the poem and his earlier intervention against the altar of Victory as stemming from the same motivation: in each case, Damasus would be responding to public initiatives associated with prominent pagans by taking a conspicuous stand in opposition. These gestures make more sense if seen as directed toward an internal Christian audience rather than externally against the pagan aristocracy. By rallying Christian opinion against the pagan “other,” Damasus sought both to transcend the internecine disputes of his people and to assert his leadership of the Roman Christian community. Other Christian authors of the period likewise recognized the usefulness of “pagans” in 72

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Jer. Ep. 23.3, “ille, quem ante paucos dies dignitatum omnium culmina praecedebant, qui, quasi de subiectis hostibus triumpharet, Capitolinas ascendit arces, quem plausu quodam et tripudio populus Romanus excepit, ad cuius interitum urbs universa commota est.” t The bibliography on this poem is too vast to be listed here, but it is fully discussed and critiqued by Cameron, Last Pagans, 273–319. Curran, Pagan City, 269–98.

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intra-Christian discourse.75 For example, Ambrosiaster’s treatise Against the Pagans, published in the mid-380s, was most likely intended for Christian readers as a helpful summary of arguments to be used in rebutting pagan attacks on Christianity.76

Conclusion Notwithstanding its notoriety among scholars and students of late antiquity, the controversy over the altar of Victory was a sideshow in comparison to the far more contentious and consequential debates taking place within the Roman Church in the 380s. Neither Jerome nor Ambrosiaster ever mentioned the altar, preoccupied as they were with questions about the proper interpretation and translation of Scripture and the degree to which celibacy might entitle laypersons to claim a higher spiritual merit in the eyes of God. Bishop Damasus’s own involvement in the controversy does not appear to have been motivated by ideological or religious opposition to the pagan altar; rather, he was primarily concerned to assert and defend his own position of leadership amid competition from rivals who likewise claimed the title of bishop. In this world of intense intra-Christian conflict, taking a public stance in opposition to a notorious pagan symbol was a useful gesture to ward off attacks from competitors whose appeal was based on a claim to uncompromising purity. Such gestures, although ostensibly directed against pagans, were really intended to promote unity among Christians by reminding them of the ever-present pagan “other.”

Bibliography Bloch, H.“A New Document of the Last Pagan Revival in the West, 393–394 AD.” HThR 38 (1945): 199–244. Bowes, K. Private Worship, Public Values, and Religious Change in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, 2008). Brown, P. Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350–550 AD (Princeton, 2012). Bussières, M.-P., ed. Ambrosiaster: Contre les païens et sur le destin. Sources Chrétiennes 512 (Paris, 2007).

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Similarly, Dennis Trout in this volume argues that the Carmen contra paganos functioned to establish difference between pagans and Christians. Bussières, Ambrosiasterr, 70–1, on the treatise Contra paganos (Quaestt. 114). For a similar sentiment, see Aug. CD D 1.16, “nec tantum hic curamus alienis responsionem reddere, quantum ipsis nostris consolationem.”

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Cain, A. The Letters of Jerome: Asceticism, Biblical Exegesis, and the Construction of Christian Authority in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 2009). Cameron, A. “Gratian’s Repudiation of the Pontifical Robe.” JRS 58 (1968): 96–102. “The Date and the Owners of the Esquiline Treasure.” AJA 89 (1985): 135–45. “The Imperial Pontifex.” HSCPh 103 (2007): 341–84. The Last Pagans of Rome (Oxford, 2011). Cavallera, F. Saint Jérôme: sa vie et son œuvre, 2 vols. (Louvain, 1922). Chastagnol, A. La préfecture urbaine à Rome sous le Bas-Empire (Paris, 1960). Chenault, R. R. “Statues of Senators in the Forum of Trajan and the Roman Forum in Late Antiquity.” JRS 102 (2012): 103–32. Rome without Emperors: The Revival of a Senatorial City in the Fourth Century A.D. (in preparation). Cos çkun, A. “Der Praefect Maximinus, der Jude Isaak und der Strafprozess gegen Bischof Damasus von Rom.” JbAC 46 (2003): 17–44. Croke, B. and J. D. Harries. Religious Conflict in Fourth-Century Rome (Sydney, 1982). Curran, J. Pagan City and Christian Capital: Rome in the Fourth Century (Oxford, 2000). Evenepoel, W. “Ambrose vs. Symmachus: Christians and Pagans in AD 384.” AncSoc 29 (1998): 283–306. Green, M. R. “The Supporters of the Antipope Ursinus.” JThS 22 (1971): 531–8. Guenther, O., ed. Epistulae imperatorum pontificum aliorum inde ab a. CCCLXVII usque ad a. DLIII datae Avellana quae dicitur Collectio. CSEL 35.1 (Vienna, 1895). Hunter, D. G. “‘On the Sin of Adam and Eve’: A Little-Known Defense of Marriage and Childbearing by Ambrosiaster.” HThR 82 (1989): 283–99. Marriage, Celibacy, and Heresy in Ancient Christianity:  The Jovinianist Controversy (Oxford, 2007). Jones, A. H.  M., J. R. Martindale, and J. Morris. The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire,Volume I (A.D. 260–395) (Cambridge, 1971). Kelly, J. N. D. Jerome: His Life,Writings, and Controversies (New York, 1975). Klein, R. Der Streit um den Victoriaaltar: die dritte Relatio des Symmachus und die Briefe 17, 18, und 57 des Mailänder Bischofs Ambrosius (Darmstadt, 1972). Liebeschuetz, J. H. W. G. Ambrose of Milan: Political Letters and Speeches.Translated Texts for Historians 43 (Liverpool, 2005). Lippold, A. “Ursinus und Damasus.” Historia 14 (1965): 105–28. Lizzi Testa, R. Senatori, popolo, papi: il governo di Roma al tempo dei Valentiniani (Bari, 2004). “Clerical Hierarchy and Imperial Legislation in Late Antiquity:  The Reformed Reformers,” in Christopher M. Bellitto and Louis I. Hamilton, eds., Reforming the Church before Modernity: Patterns, Problems and Approaches (Aldershot, 2005), 87–103. Lunn-Rockliffe, S. Ambrosiaster’s Political Theology (Oxford, 2007). Maier, H. O. “The Topography of Heresy and Dissent in Late-Fourth-Century Rome.” Historia 44 (1995): 232–49. Matthews, J. Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court, AD 364–425 (Oxford, 1975). McLynn, N. B. Ambrose of Milan: Church and Court in a Christian Capital (Berkeley, 1994). “Damasus of Rome: A Fourth-Century Pope in Context,” in Therese Fuhrer, ed., Rom und Mailand in der Spätantike: Repräsentationen städtischer Räum in Literatur, Architektur, und Kunst (Berlin, 2012), 305–25. Nautin, P. “L’activité littéraire de Jérôme de 387 à 392.” RThPh 115 (1983): 247–59.

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Piétri, C. Roma Christiana: Recherches sur l’église de Rome, son organisation, sa politique, son idéologie de Miltiade à Sixte III (311–440), 2 vols. (Rome, 1976). “Damase, Évêque de Rome,” in Saecularia damasiana. Atti del convegno internazionale per il XVI centenario della morte di Papa Damaso I. Studi di antichità cristiana 39 (Vatican City, 1986): 31–58. Ramsey, B. Ambrose (London, 1997). Sághy, M. “Scinditur in partes populus: Pope Damasus and the Martyrs of Rome.” EME 9 (2000): 273–87. Sheridan, J. J. “The Altar of Victory: Paganism’s Last Battle.” AC 35 (1966): 186–206. Simonetti, M., ed. Tyrannii Rufini Opera. CCSL 20 (Turnhout, 1961). Trout, D. E. “Damasus and the Invention of Early Christian Rome,” JMEMS 33 (2003) 517–36. “Fecit ad astra viam:  Daughters, Wives, and the Metrical Epitaphs of Late Ancient Rome,” JECS 21 (2013): 1–25. Vera, D. “Lo scandolo edilizio di Cyriades e Auxentius e i titolari della ‘praefectura urbis’ dal 383 al 387.” SDHI 44 (1978): 45–94. Commento storico alle Relationes di Quinto Aurelio Simmaco (Pisa, 1981). Williams, M. H. The Monk and the Book: Jerome and the Making of Christian Scholarship (Chicago, 2006).

3

WERE PAGANS AFRAID TO SPEAK THEIR MINDS IN A CHRISTIAN WORLD? THE CORRESPONDENCE OF SYMMACHUS Alan Cameron

I A once popular game enjoying something of a revival of late is identifying covert anti-Christian polemic in pagan texts of late antiquity.1 The polemic is always covert because it is assumed that pagans were afraid to express pagan views openly. But this is pure assumption, for which no real evidence has ever been produced.2 Of course, direct attack or scurrilous abuse would have been imprudent, but up to the Theodosian age at any rate courteous debate and disagreement were certainly tolerated (for example,Volusianus’s letter to Augustine questioning the virgin birth).3 A recent book by Stéphane Ratti is the first systematic attempt to document this supposed pagan fear, going so far as to maintain that already by the late fourth century pagans were afraid to reveal their paganism in their private letters.4 Because so many private letters survive from the fourth and fifth centuries, both pagan and Christian, this is a hypothesis that can be tested. The letters of Q. Aurelius Symmachus cos. 391 might seem a promising target. A well-known pagan himself, Symmachus corresponded with Vettius Agorius Praetextatus and both the Nicomachi Flaviani, the most notorious pagans of the age. His more than 900 letters might be expected to contain a trove of information about the last days of Roman paganism.Yet if the 390s saw a pagan revival, Symmachus’s letters reveal little hint of it. 1

2 3

4

Ratti, Antiquus Errorr; Ratti, Polémiques; most of my criticisms of the first book (JRA 24 [2011]: 835–46) apply equally to the second. As I first pointed out in JRS S 55 (1965): 240–8 and again in Last Pagans, 207. Aug. Epp. 135–38; cf. Cameron, Last Pagans, 196–7. Rutilius Namatianus’s invectives against Jews (i.395–8) and monks (i.439–52 and 515–26) are regularly said to be “indirect” attacks on Christianity, indirect because (of course) he was afraid to be direct. But the polemic itself is very direct. For many more examples see my Last Pagans, passim. Ratti, Polémiques, 33–49.

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Scholars used to assume that this is because they were edited after his death by his son Memmius Symmachus, to protect both himself and his father’s reputation. Ratti has argued that the explanation for their lack of pagan content is self-censorship by Symmachus himself, afraid to speak his mind. Both explanations might seem reasonable but find little support in the letters themselves.The question has in fact been surprisingly little studied. What follows is an attempt to dig somewhat deeper than has been done hitherto.5

II It is true that, if Symmachus wrote to (or about) the supposedly pro-pagan Eugenius or Arbogast during the period of their rebellion against Theodosius, no such letters were included. But even if they had been pro-pagan,6 that would have been irrelevant to Symmachus’s paganism. Anyone, pagan or Christian, who had written to (or about) a usurper would take care to destroy all such correspondence on the usurper’s fall.7 There are no letters to the Christian usurper Magnus Maximus either. For the same reason, Ambrose included no letters to either Maximus or Eugenius in his correspondence. As bishop of an imperial capital, Ambrose must have written often to both usurpers, but he prepared his correspondence for publication himself, and so discreetly excluded them.8 All Symmachus’s letters to the younger Flavian(us) before 394 were also omitted. But an entire book (vi) is devoted to letters written to him after then. Once again, there is no need to invoke paganism to explain the cutting of the earlier letters. It was enough that the young man had held the prefecture of Rome under a usurper. More important are the letters that were not deleted. Not only the eighty-one letters to the younger Flavian,9 but, more surprisingly, no fewer

6 7

8

9

For bibliography on late antique epistolography, see Karlsson, Idéologie et cérémonial;l Thraede, Grundzüge griechisch-römischer Brieftopik; Constable, Letters and Letter Collections; Mullett, “The Classical Tradition”; Garzya, “L’epistolografia letteraria tardoantica”; Mullett, Theophylact of Ochridd; Delmaire, Desmulliez, and Gatier, eds., Correspondances; Gibson, “On the Nature of Ancient Letter Collections.” For the theoretical texts, Malherbe, Ancient Epistolary Theorists; see too Malosse, Lettres pour toutes circonstances. Against this still popular notion, see my Last Pagans, chapter 2. Letters to Eugenius would in any case not have been included in the nine books of private correspondence, but in Bk x, letters to emperors, lost except for one letter each to Theodosius the elder and Gratian. The much-discussed letter to Eugenius (Ep. extra colll 10) was excluded from the collected edition of Ambrose’s letters, and published together with a few others similarly omitted after his death (Cameron, Last Pagans, 74–89). In fact jointly to the younger Flavian and his (never named) wife, Symmachus’s daughter, under the style Nicomachis filiis.

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than ninety-one10 letters to the elder Flavian, supposedly the ringleader of a pagan rebellion. Not only that. No fewer than three letters (ii.83, 84, and 85) refer to the consulship of the elder Flavian, held in 391 under Eugenius but retrospectively cancelled; and the emperor referred to, although not named, in Ep. ii. 81 must be Eugenius. Symmachus informs Flavian that he has sent dominus et princeps noster a copy of the ivory diptych commemorating Memmius’s quaestorian games. Seeck argued that neither Memmius nor contemporary readers were likely to know who the unnamed princeps was.11 Yet Memmius of all people must have known. He evidently decided that this was no more than a routine courtesy, not compromising and so safely included. Here we may compare the immense correspondence (1,544 letters) of Libanius. There is a large gap between 365 and 388, and a smaller gap in 388/390. According to Ratti, “la seule explication possible” for these gaps is “La peur de l’inquisition policière” (p. 41). Hardly. It is true that Libanius was suspected of supporting the usurpers Procopius and Maximus, but once again, that could have had nothing to do with his paganism, especially because Procopius and Maximus were both Christians. He was also more than once suspected of taking part in magic practices or divination, and while pagans were no doubt more likely to be suspected of such practices, it was the practices, not simply being a pagan, that brought the accusation. In any case, even allowing that suspicions about involvement with Procopius (365–6) lingered for several years, there was certainly no need to delete twenty-three years of correspondence in its entirety, if he wrote at the same pace as in 355–65, perhaps another 2,000 letters. Many friends of Libanius were prosecuted in earlier treason trials, such as those held at Scythopolis in 359, and pagans who (like Libanius) had been close to Julian were also under attack after Julian’s death (363). Yet he allowed large numbers of his letters from both periods to survive. He no doubt scrutinized and pruned his files for these years, but he certainly did not delete them in their entirety. In 371 he records in his autobiography (Or. i.175) that there was some cause for misgiving owing to the correspondence which had passed between some of my friends and myself. There was nothing wrong in it, but it could have provided a handle for informers, but,

10

11

Actually 90; ii.31 is a postscript to 30 introduced by the heading Symmachus hoc manu sua subter adiecit. Q. Aurelii Symmachii, xxiii n. 43.

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by the favour of Fortune, this menace was easily removed, and in all the documents12 there was not a single letter of mine.

Norman comments that “Fortune’s favour was supported by human intervention,” assuming that Libanius himself had removed incriminating documents. Yet he does not mean that his own files were searched, but that the papers of suspected conspirators were searched, and no letter from him was found among them. He had many enemies, and no doubt carefully examined his files whenever some danger threatened. Other objections aside, the assumption that the gap between 365 and 388 is the direct result of fear of Christian persecution makes no sense on chronological grounds alone.13 More likely in so large a text (the 1,544 surviving letters cover more than 1,300 pages in Foerster’s edition) is the loss of an entire codex at some stage of the transmission.The very fact that so many survive is against the hypothesis of censorship. There is much openly pagan material in the abundant other surviving works of Libanius, filling eleven Teubner volumes. To return to Symmachus, the most typical and consistent features of his letters are their brevity and their formulaic character, once seen as evidence that he was simply a dull man who had nothing to say. According to Ratti, the explanation of the brevity is that “écrire est risqué et Symmaque cultive l’art prudent de se taire” (p. 46). This assumes that Symmachus’s letters differ from those of his peers in this respect.Yet all late antique epistolary literature stresses the importance of brevity.14 According to the section De epistolis in the fourth-century rhetorical manual of Julius Victor, in familiaribus litteris primo brevitas observanda.15 Seneca indeed claimed (Ep. 45.13) that a letter “should not fill the hand of the reader” (hardly his own practice). In this context brevity is not to be understood in a merely quantitative sense.16 Gregory Nazianzen, writing to the future editor of his correspondence, explains that brevity and length are functions of subject matter.17 What in general is the subject matter of Symmachus’s letters? Most were not written to convey information at all, but to establish or maintain a connection. 12

13 14

15 16 17

γράμμασι, translated “correspondence” by Norman, but Libanius probably means all documents found in the possession of suspected conspirators, not just private letters. See now Cabouret, “La correspondance fait-elle peur au pouvoir?” Thraede, Grundzüge griechisch-römischer Brieftopik, 154–7; Mullett, “The Classical Tradition,” 78–9; Garzya, “L’epistolografia letteraria tardoantica,” 125–6; see already Pliny, Ep. vii. 2.3, ix. 32. Halm, Rhetores Latini Minores, 448.2. On this see especially Wagner,“A Chapter in the History of Byzantine Epistolography,” 135–8. Greg. Naz. Ep. 51. Gregory’s letter is as literary as anything Symmachus wrote (the image he uses for length is Callimachus’ measuring by the Persian chain: frag. 1. 18 Pfeiffer).

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As John Matthews put it, they “were primarily intended not to inform but to manipulate, to produce results.”18 Such letters have been compared to visiting cards19 or modern Christmas cards,20 a characterization that contains an element of truth but undervalues the fact that they were also intended to be, and certainly greeted by recipients as, miniature works of art. The emperor Julian tells a certain Maximus that “I sleep with your letters as though they were healing drugs of some sort, and I keep reading them as though they were newly written and had only just come into my hands.”21 Gregory of Nazianzus tells a fellow bishop that his letter was like a fine plectrum striking a lyre in his heart; Basil tells another bishop that “I beheld the letter of your Charity ... with the same feelings with which men at sea would behold a beacon fire shining from afar in the deep.”22 The Byzantines frequently compared letters to birdsong, especially that of swallows or nightingales.23 Symmachus is predictably more sober, but always more enthusiastic about the brilliance of his friends’ style than whatever news their letters bring. Most recycle in a variety of elegant combinations formulas of friendship and duty; the pleasure/distress given by the arrival/non-arrival of letters; Symmachus’s anxiety/relief to hear of his correspondent’s ill health/recovery; his delight/dismay that the correspondent will soon be arriving/has delayed his departure, and so forth. Many of his correspondents were connections rather than friends, who expected no more than the sort of bland formalities such letters offer. Their purpose lay not in their content but in the bare fact that they were written; not to have written might have been a social gaffe, costing him a favor he was hoping to ask at a later date.The same applies to the hundreds of recommendations, which seldom say anything specific about the man recommended; it was enough that the letter identified him as a Symmachan protégé. To this end, a few lines were sufficient. Ratti argues that the letters of Symmachus’s contemporaries Julian and Libanius (both also pagans, it should be noted) are longer.Yet while some of Libanius’s are longer, many are just as short. Indeed, twenty-one of his letters fill three lines or less, four of them a single line!24 Several correspondents 18 19

20

21

22 23 24

Matthews, “The Letters of Symmachus,” 64; cf. Bruggisser, Symmaque. e Dill, Roman Society, 153; cf. Brown, The World of Late Antiquity, 30, “as accomplished and as jejune as the visiting-cards of the mandarins of imperial China.” “The content is minimal, it is the thought that counts”: Shanzer and Wood, eds., Avitus of Viennee, 60; there is much of interest for late antique letters in their introduction. Julian, Ep. 190 (not Maximus of Ephesus; Bidez and Cumont, eds., Iuliani Epistulae et Leges, 258–9). Greg. Naz. Ep. 171.2 (ii.60–2 Gallay); Basil, Ep. 100. Karlsson, Idéologie et cérémonial,l 106–11. Epp. 3, 7, 418, 494, 594, 608, 609, 611, 612, 613, 614, 687, 706, 849, 893, 1077, 1078, 1136, 1143, 1290, 1348.

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complained that his letters were too short; Epp. 561 and 580 wittily repudiate the accusation.25 As for Julian, the letters of an emperor are entirely different in nature and purpose; some are quite substantial – although two run to only four lines (Epp. 29 and 54). Some of Synesius’s letters are also long – although again seven have two or fewer lines.26 The letters of fourthand early fifth-century ecclesiastics are often very long, but they too have a very different purpose.27 Here is Giles Constable on medieval letters, although his words apply equally to those of late antiquity: “Brevity is often cited as a reason for omitting an additional argument or example, for restricting the treatment of a particular point, or for coming quickly to a conclusion.”28 Christian letters are no less full of conceits about brevity and length.With iam servabo epistulae terminos in Symmachus (Ep. iv.4.4), compare Jerome:  cernis me ... excessisse modum epistulae et tamen non implesse quod volui (Ep. 53.9), echoing Seneca, ne epistulae modum excedam (Ep. 45.13); epistulae brevitas compellit tacere (Jer. Ep. 7.6).29 “So far was I from being displeased at the length of your letter that it seemed short to me, because of the pleasure I got from reading it” (Basil, Ep. 156.1, to a correspondent who had evidently apologized for the length of his letter); “you complain about the brevity of my letters, I about the length of yours” (Lib. Ep. 369.3–5); “shortness is not a virtue in letters any more than it is in a man” (Basil, Ep. 323.2). Libanius, Julian, Basil, and Gregory Nazianzen all play with the learned conceit of Laconic brevity in letters.30 Symmachus repeatedly exploits such motifs: you ask for longer letters, but I use brevity to conceal my lack of inspiration (Ep. i.14.1 and vi.28.3); repay my brevity with abundance (viii.26.1); an announcement of return should be brief because what might have been said in the letter can be reserved for conversation (v.17.2); in praise of Andronicus’s poems “your modesty demands brevity” (viii.22.1); don’t judge my affection for you by the brevity of my letter (vii.129.1). No fewer than three letters play with the conceit of Laconic brevity (i.14; i.45; v.37).

25

26 27

28 29 30

Translated in Bradbury, Selected Letters of Libanius, 210–11. For other defenses against excessive brevity, see Ep. 81. 2 to Anatolius and Ep. 399.2 and 432.1 to Andronicus. Syn. Epp. 33, 36, 63, 64, 65, 77, 92. Sometimes in effect theological treatises expressly intended for wide circulation: Gorce, Les voyages, l’hospitalité, é 193–204; Conybeare, Paulinus Noster; r Cain, The Letters of Jeromee; Ebbeler, Disciplining Christians. Constable, Letters and Letter Collections, 19. On brevity in Jerome’s letters, Canellis, “La lettre selon saint Jérome,” 312–13. Liban. Ep. 81. 2; Julian, Ep. 31; Basil, Ep. 12; Greg. Naz. Ep. 54.

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When, as often, he had no news he wished to communicate, he could easily weave an entire letter out of such conceits. A nice illustration is iii.10 to Naucellius: You want me to write longer letters. I am delighted with your idea: for it is a compliment to talent, when abundance is desired. But I wish that you did not like verbosity. For what use is it, what does it accomplish, when an empty speech is prolonged with trifling matters? I hate trailing garments on a short figure. That dress is decently worn which does not drag in the dust, and does not touch the ground to be trodden on. So write something for me to expand on in my reply. But I am beguiled by my sense of duty, since I dare to promise you fulsome epistles. I shall see what will be the outcome of your wish. Remember that I have promised you quantity not quality.

Nor is there any reason to believe that Symmachus wrote shorter letters than his many correspondents. For example, iii.1 to Sextus Rusticus Iulianus (iii.1): On returning to my home in the city I found, as I had hoped, the salutations of your letter. After so long a silence it gave me such pleasure and honour that only its brevity was displeasing.

So too vii.6 to his son Memmius. This is important for the thesis under discussion, because at least half his correspondents were Christians.31 It is implausible to suppose that in Symmachus’s case alone brevity was driven by an entirely different factor: fear of Christian reprisals. If this had been the true explanation, why does he so often draw attention to it and explain it otherwise? Not unconnected with this emphasis on brevity is Symmachus’s often repeated horror of boring his correspondent (breves litterae demunt fastidium lectionis).32 There is also another factor involved. As we read in one ancient letter after another, what directly prompted the writer was all too often not the desire to communicate a particular piece of news at a particular moment in time, but the arrival of someone else’s tabellarius, creating an obligation for the recipient to write a quick reply. Here is Cicero to Cassius:33 “It would be more convenient if [your tabellarii] gave me a little time to write, but they arrive with their travelling caps on (petasati) and say their party is waiting for them by the city gate.” In many cases this must have meant that the writer really did only have time to dictate a few lines. The 31 32 33

For the statistics, see Cameron, Last Pagans, 376–7. Ep. i.56.1; there are more than forty-five references to fastidium in the letters. Fam. 15.17.1 = 214 SB; cf. White, Cicero in Letters, 14–15.

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challenge was to achieve an unexpected formulation of the commonplaces. Ep. v.51 is a typical Symmachan example, consisting of nothing but clichés of the courier-is-waiting subgenre, like iii.10 to Naucellius conveying no news whatever: My affection for you urges me to write, the haste of my visitor (praetereuntis festinatio) to write little. So be content with my greeting which, if it does not fulfil my obligation, at least attests my sentiments. In turn, send back something for me to read and, if you must, imitate my brevity. For although I am eager for your brilliant style, conscious as I am of this slender page, I dare not ask for abundance of words.

The haste of writing under pressure excused the brevity:  “because the bearer is in a hurry, I have dictated this letter quickly and abbreviatedly” (not Symmachus, but Ruricius, bishop of Limoges).34 Ratti also suggests that the large number (68 percent) of letters without addressees in Bk ix “a pu être effacé par précaution.” But these letters differ in no significant respect from the 750 odd equipped with addressees in the other eight books. Indeed, as Roda pointed out, Bk ix contains an unusually high proportion of letters consisting of nothing but elegant clichés.35 Here is a particularly egregious example in its entirety (Ep. ix.76): I was complaining to myself about your silence, but your recent communication (recens sermo)36 appeased my friendly wrath. So let us return to our old ways, and pay homage to our mutual regard with dutiful salutations. Querebar tacitus ipse mecum de silentio tuo, sed amicam suscensionem recens sermo placavit. Ergo in usum veterem revertamur et mutuam diligentiam religiosis salutationibus excolamus.

I quote the Latin as well as my much plainer translation to illustrate the ponderous elegance that was to make Symmachus a prized epistolographic model. Brief though it is, the first sentence is dense (the oxymoron of friendly wrath) and (intentionally) far from easy to grasp at a first reading (more later on the motif of silentium).37 More than one critic has interpreted religio in Symmachus as a reference to his paganism, but as Wistrand pointed 34 35 36

37

Mathisen, Ruricius of Limoges, 121; cf. too Paulin. Nol. Ep. 43.1. Roda, Commento storico, 66. My first draft ran “your recent news,” but on checking the Latin I saw that, as so often, there is no suggestion that his friend’s letter had contained any more news than his own reply. The letter is a cento of reused Symmachan phrases:  quererer de silentio tuo, si de religione dubitarem (i.98.1); X’s letters officii plenitudine memoriam suscensionis oblitterantt (v.37.1); mutua diligentia is borrowed from i.28.1; salutatio appears more than 70 times, and religio/religiosus (n. 39) more than 150 times.

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out, it is in fact his standard term for the obligations of friendship or just friendship itself. The greater part of Symmachus’s correspondence could be classified as religiosae salutationes.38 If all these anonymous letters had been written to contacts too dangerous to name, why provoke suspicion by including them in the first place? Two of them, although lacking an addressee, have been shown to be early letters addressed to prominent Christians, Ausonius and Petronius Probus (ix.88 and 112). What is different about Bks viii and ix is their extreme disorder compared with the systematic structure of Bks i–vii. In i–vii letters are grouped by addressee, without thematic or chronological links; in viii–ix, even though there are several cases of individuals who received four or five letters, they are scattered throughout the books. Instead there are signs of a completely different, loosely thematic arrangement. For example, twenty letters on preparations for Memmius’s praetorian games, divided into two groups at the beginning and end of Bk ix:  seven seeking Spanish horses (ix.12, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24), four seeking bears (132, 135, 137, 142). Six letters are concerned with Symmachus’s estates (ix.5, 6, 10, 11, 129, 130); five with the engagements or marriages of his friends (ix.7, 39, 41, 43, 133; cf. 127, 128); two letters refusing invitations to (different) consular celebrations at court are juxtaposed (ix.112–13). Why would Memmius have completely changed the arrangement and structure followed in the first seven books? As for the letter to Ausonius, it is much earlier than the letter Symmachus himself chose to open the Ausonius series (i.13), which shows them as equals, whereas ix.88 shows Symmachus very much the junior. As for the Probus letter (ix.112), it was the first to pass between them, inviting the twenty-nine-year-old Symmachus to Probus’s consular celebrations in Trier. The letter arrived at the end of November 370, hardly leaving time to get to Trier by January 1 in mid-winter. I suspect that, in retrospect, Symmachus thought it had been sent insultingly late, and was embarrassed by his own elaborate apologies for refusing.The six letters to Probus he included in Bk i are brief and distinctly cool in tone.39 If he rejected both letters when making his selection of letters to Probus and Ausonius for Bk i, why would he have marked them for inclusion, anonymously, in Bk ix? As we shall see, it is likely that Symmachus himself made a preliminary selection of the letters included in Bks i–vii.The explanation for the missing

38

39

Wistrand, “Textkritisches und interpretatorisches zu Symmachus,” 87–9; cf. Cameron, Last Pagans, 189. Wistrand’s list of examples could now be vastly increased with the aid of Lomanto, Marinone, and Zampolli, eds., Concordantiae. So rightly Salzman in Salzman and Roberts, eds., The Letters of Symmachus. Book 1, 119.

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names in Bks viii–ix is surely that, with Symmachus gone, no one knew who they were addressed to. The only question is whether viii–ix were included in Memmius’s edition regardless, or (as Roda plausibly argued) added in a later supplement.40

III “It is nonetheless clear,” continues Ratti, “that Symmachus did not dare to put his main points in writing, but what was worth knowing (si quid scitu dignum) was entrusted orally to the messenger, charged to repeat it only to the addressee.”41 This is a tendentious formulation of what was standard practice throughout the ancient world, from the age of Cicero down to the late Byzantine period, with Christians no less than pagans. To quote Peter White on the practice of Cicero and his friends: “Whether carried by an agent of the sender or of the addressee, [the Roman letter] was often supplemented by an oral message, to which the letters themselves repeatedly draw attention.”42 Here is Cicero: “if the country itself possessed a voice to tell you how it is doing, you could not easily learn more than from your freedman Phanias ... He will give you a full account, which allows for brevity on my part and prudence about things in general.”43 The earliest surviving example of the potent Byzantine motif of the courier as a “living letter” comes in Basil writing to a fellow bishop in 375:44 Again we have sent forth our beloved fellow-presbyter Meletius to convey our salutations to your charity. Even though we had quite decided to spare him because of his illness ... yet having judged it proper for ourselves to greet you through such men as can by their own words easily supply what is lacking in this letter and, as it were, can act as a living epistle (ἀντ’ ἐπιστολῆς ἐμψύχου) both to him who writes and him who receives.

Here is Synesius writing a mere five lines to his brother:45 Receive with the living letter also the lifeless one (δέδεξο μετὰ τῆς ἐμψύχου καὶ τὴν ἄψυχον ἐπιστολήν). The one is the charming Gerontius, the other these written lines. They are written to you rather that I may conform to custom, than from any necessity for communicating with you. 40 41 42 43 44 45

Roda, Commento storico, 58–88; cf. Marcone, Di tarda antichità, 63–72. Ratti, Polémiques, 46 (my italics); so too, less forcefully put, Cecconi, Commento storico, 180. White, Cicero in Letters, 16; my emphasis. ad brevitatem est aptius et ad reliquas res providentius, Fam. i.8.1 = 19 Shackelton Bailey. Ep. 205, Deferrari’s Loeb translation, slightly adapted; Karlsson, Idéologie et cérémonial, 17–21. l Ep. 85, with D. Roques’ notes in Garzya and Roques, eds., Synésios de Cyrène, 340–1. e

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Alan Cameron I live with you always in memory.This is what the young man will tell you with a much more powerful voice than ten thousand letters.

And here is Libanius:  “if you would like to know even the most trivial details, you have Gymnasius to hand, and there is nothing he doesn’t know” (Ep. 504.6). A poem of Paulinus (24) describes in detail a courier who was able to reconstruct at least the gist of a letter lost in a shipwreck. Of course, letter carriers could and no doubt often did convey confidential information. There are some things people would rather not put down in writing for a variety of reasons, sometimes simply because they are too trivial or mundane. There is no need to invoke religious persecution to explain every hint of reticence. As Synesius says in a letter to the Alexandrian patriarch Theophilus: “the man I have given this letter to is being dispatched to carry out business which piety does not allow me to specify.”46 On occasion, Symmachus too must have sent confidential messages with the carrier – but only with a carrier he felt he could trust. As in Cicero’s day,47 letters sent between members of the elite resident in Rome or their suburban villas were normally carried by slaves or freedmen in their service.48 Symmachus once complained to the younger Flavian that “your slave” (puer) left without waiting for his reply and should be punished (vi.8.1). Elsewhere he frequently complains of the negligence or slowness of his letter carriers.49 He would hardly confide compromising information to a slave he was likely to whip if he dallied on the way. On the other hand, Symmachus adds that the slave who left without permission had waited long enough to tell him that his daughter (Flavian’s wife) was sick. On another occasion he asked the tabellarius whether his father had changed plans about a visit (i.11.2). Domestic servants were obviously well placed to answer queries about domestic matters, especially concerning the health of family members. Here, from half a millennium later, is a letter of the patriarch Nicholas I: “We have learned, not from your letter, but from an 46

47 48

49

Ep. 68. As he puts it elsewhere (Ep. 137 line 45 (p. 277 Garzya/Roques), a letter cannot hold its tongue. On this, see especially now White, Cicero in Letters, 11–18. homines tuii (viii.11); homo tuus (v.61); homo meus (iii.27); pueri nostrii (vi.39). The terms puer and homo are frequently used of the tabellariii of Paulinus of Nola: see Gorce, Les voyages, l’hospitalité, é 205–47; Mratschek, Der Briefwechsel des Paulinus von Nola, 616; see also her section “Das Postwesen,” ib. 274–324, for much detail. Public officials could make use of the cursus publicus, as Symmachus more than once enviously remarks (i.59; iv.20.3; iv.28). Tabellariorum neglegentia (iii.28); lentitudo tabellariii (ii.48.10; tabellarii vitio (ii.54); at v.33 he tells his correspondent not to blame his slave (puerum) for Symmachus’ own delay; for a full collection of such references in Symmachus and other contemporary letter writers, see Roda’s commentary on Ep. ix.92 and Cecconi’s on Ep. ii.12.

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oral report of the carrier, that, though you had been ailing, you have, through the Divine Power, recovered from your illness.”50 Compare Symmachus:  “I was delighted by the homage to friendship when I got your letter. But when my Annius told me that you had been enjoying uncertain health, my delight turned to grave anxiety” (Ep. viii.31).To judge from the frequency with which Symmachus refers to his and his friends’ health, this was no doubt a question he routinely asked the carrier, or information the carrier routinely supplied of his own accord. In most cases nothing in the context suggests confidential, much less compromising messages that Symmachus “did not dare” to put in writing, still less that they were “only” for the ears of the recipient. Here is what, in Ratti’s version, he wrote to the younger Flavian and his daughter in 397: “Et pour de vrai, si j’avais à dire des choses qui demandaient des pages, elles seraient confiées plus prudemment (rectius) à mon messager.” But rectius does not mean “more prudently,” and a very different impression is conveyed if the preceding sentence is included: “our frequent previous letters have exhausted anything I might have written; there remains only the general obligation of my greeting. Indeed, if there were anything left to fill up the page (si qua suppeterent paginis persequenda), it would be more appropriate to entrust it to the messenger.”51 Symmachus simply means that he has nothing to add to his recent letters, and they should ask the messenger if there was any domestic news. A letter to the elder Flavian (ii.38) tells him that the courier will bring him up to date on what has been happening in Rome, “although the news will have anticipated his report” (licet scriptum fama praevenerit). If he will already have heard, clearly nothing secret, probably one of the all too frequent food riots. From time to time a visiting member of the elite might carry letters to a common friend. But we are not entitled to assume that any friend of Symmachus would be a member of some pagan mafia carrying secret messages. One letter that refers to a courier who will give the correspondent detailed information viva voce looks promising – until we discover that the correspondent is Bishop Ambrose (iii.30)! Symmachus tells the younger Flavian that he will learn more de domesticis rebus from listening to Castor than from reading his letter. It is clear from the last two sentences that he is referring to details of the food crisis at Rome in 395–6.52 50 51

52

Ep. 182, in Jenkins and Westerink, eds., Nicholas I. Letters, 513. “Il serait plus normal,” Callu; “più opportuno,” Marcone; in two exactly parallel cases of leaving the letter carrier to supply details, Symmachus uses aptius and merito (iii.30.1 and v.80); for rectius in this sense, cf. Ep. vi.1.1. Ep. vi.18, with Marcone’s commentary; Ruggini, Economia e società, 164–6; Kohns, Hungerrevolten, 194–207.

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When Symmachus refers to what we might call gentleman-couriers, he usually employs the same formula: I can be brief because X will give full information. In most cases the implication is that Symmachus was taking the opportunity offered by a visitor planning to call on one of his friends to dash off a few words of greeting (i.87; vi.50; vii.46.2). If the courier is known to the addressee, he often does not identify him in the letter (ii.21; v.51 and 80; vi.13). If the courier had come some distance, it was expected that the recipient of the letter would offer him a meal and a bed for the night. Indeed, according to Liebeschuetz, “Many of Libanius’ letters were written to obtain for their bearer the hospitality of the addressee.”53 Bradbury describes the itinerary of a pupil of Libanius who “set out on an overland journey from Antioch to Rome in spring 357, armed with nine letters of introduction to well-known correspondents strung out along his route.”54 Synesius turns the motif into a conceit by twice beginning a letter with the claim that a long letter is an insult to the carrier’s knowledge of the writer (Ep. 55; 84). Even more fancifully, here is John Mauropous in the eleventh century: “As useless as a lantern at midday or well-water in midwinter are letters when you have an eloquent and talkative carrier.”55 Symmachus puts it more simply (i.90.1): “a congenial letter-carrier enhances trivial news.”

IV Symmachus and his friends were always reproaching each other for not writing more often. Failure to understand one form this motif took is responsible for a serious misinterpretation of a letter alleged to reflect Symmachus’s attitude to the post-Frigidus world. “Après le Frigidus Symmaque et ses semblables se savaient condamnés au silence,” claims Ratti (p. 48), on the basis of a single letter to the Gallic aristocrat Protadius. Given how important this interpretation (originally and more cautiously propounded by Callu) would be if it were correct, we need to consider the letter both as a whole and in the context of the seventeen other letters to Protadius:56

53 54 55

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Liebeschuetz, Antioch, 17–23. Bradbury, Selected Letters of Libanius, 23. Ep. 2, in Karpozilos, The Letters of Ioannes Mauropous, 45, with the commentary on 201; and Mullett, Letters, Literacy and Literaturee, chapter vi, 181. On letter carriers in Byzantine times, see Mullet, Theophylact of Ochrid, d 35–9; in the medieval West, see Constable, Letters and Letter Collections, 53. iv.33; there are a few notes in Callu’s Budé (with French translation) and rather more in Marcone, Commento storico (with Italian translation).

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1. You take pleasure in my letters. I believe it! That is why you so often and so passionately beg for them. But I  don’t automatically deserve the reproach of idleness (desidi) if I cannot satisfy the greedy love you bear for me. Or do you suppose that in the interval of my silence (per silentium) the memory of our friendship has ebbed away? Beware of having thoughts like this about hearts committed for eternity. Loyalty has the greatest weight in itself and, if it is bound by a spontaneous oath, stands in no need of admonitions from the pen. 2. This is not the first time I have written this to you, and yet you do not give up your long-standing complaint. Suppose a long silence should turn out to be the best course (quid si praestat longum tacere?)?57 Do you not see that oracles that once spoke have stopped; that there is nothing now to read in the cave of Cumae; that the leaves of Dodona no longer rustle; that no more poems are heard from the whistlings of Delphi? So allow me, as a mere man (homullus) made by the hand of Prometheus, to cease committing to paper what for some time now is no longer read in the sheets of the prophets. 3. Please, however, don’t imagine that I  am declaring my intention of never writing to you (nolo tamen denuntiatum tibi a me silentium suspiceris). I shall observe in writing a calendar proportionate to the distance between us. As for you, overcome your impatience with the reflection that my letters coming from my little Albula [Tiber] cannot reach you daily on the banks of the Rhine [Trier].

For Ratti, the imagery of the now silent oracles represents Symmachus and his fellow pagans condemned, like the oracles of old, to perpetual silence. This might seem a tempting interpretation if the Frigidus had really represented the defeat of paganism,58 if the letter were securely dated to 395, if Protadius was known to be a fellow pagan, and if this letter stood on its own. All Symmachus’s letters to Protadius seem to belong in the period 395–402,59 but there is no evidence that this one was written in 395 rather than 400 or 402. More important, no fewer than six of the other letters to Protadius are largely or wholly devoted to increasingly elaborate mutual complaints about the “silence” of one or the other (iv.21, 25, 27, 28, 30, 32). No one who studies

58

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“Que sera-ce s’il s’avère préférable de longuement se taire?” (Callu); “E che sarà se sembrerà meglio tacere a lungo?” (Marcone); “Ajouterai-je qu’il estt préférable de se taire pour un long moment,” Ratti, Polémiques, 48, ignoring the conditional sii, and stating the desirability of silence as a fact. See Cameron, Last Pagans, 93–131 and, not going quite so far, Salzman, “Ambrose and the Usurpation of Arbogastes and Eugenius,” 191–223. Seeck, Symmachus, cxlii n. 728, followed in Callu’s note, dated iv.24 to 379, but see Marcone, Commento storico, 65; on the chronology of the letters to Protadius and his brothers, see now Beltran Rizo, “La correspondencia entre Q. Aurelio Símaco y los tres hermanos de Tréveris.”

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the context in all these letters could be in any doubt that “silence” here means no more than delay in replying to the other’s letter.There are also almost twenty letters to other correspondents where silentium is used in exactly this reproachful sense.60 In iv.33.1 Symmachus’s “silence” is explained by the accusation of idleness, obviously inappropriate for the enforced silence Ratti envisaged, but entirely satisfactory as an explanation of failure to reply to a letter. Symmachus objects that he does not deserve the reproach of idleness (non statim mereor desidis notam) just because he does not satisfy Protadius’s desire for more letters. We find the same reproach in almost exactly the same words in no fewer than three other letters to Protadius:  iv.32.1 (your letters mihi plerumque exprobrantur ut desidi); iv.27.1 (ut desidem me scribendi saepe accusas); and iv.21.3 (non accusabis ... desidiam). Several letters to other correspondents employ deses and desidia as a reproach for not writing letters.61 Read against this constant drumbeat we are bound to interpret the “silence” of iv.33 as nothing more than a temporary silence, a delay in replying.This is put beyond question by § 3, where Symmachus neatly moves from fanciful mythological analogies to the hard realities of long-distance letter exchange. While it might seem tempting to read a “pagan” subtext into the oracle references,62 in context this makes no sense. Pagan sacrifice had only been banned in Rome since 391, while Symmachus specifically cites Cumae, Dodona, and Delphi for their long silence (quid si praestat longum silere? non vides oracula ...). The oracles will remain silent forever, while Symmachus is just a few days late replying to Protadius’s latest! The analogy of the oracles seems to threaten (suggested by the formal term denuntiatum) that Symmachus will never write again, where we may compare iii.26.1 to Marinianus, a direct threat not to write unless he gets a letter (quotiens tibi minatus sum par silentium, si a litteris temperasses).63 But then he comes down to earth: Protadius must just face up to the fact that he cannot expect next-day delivery of letters that have to come all the way from Rome to Trier, where Protadius lived (even here Symmachus cannot resist the conceit of identifying nearby rivers rather than naming the actual cities).64 Because 60

61 62 63 64

For example, post longum silentium tuum non minus desiderabam quam sperabam litteras longiores (i.23.1); propterea silentium tuum conquerorr (i.34.1); compensasti longum silentium gemina scriptione (i.42.1); sumpsi litteras quas mihi post longum silentium detulistii (iii.9.1); fortasse arguas silentium meum. nolo adplices hanc moram neglegentiaee (iii.16.1); silentium meum etiam ipse reprehenderem, si tuas litteras ... (v.84.1); silentium meum duci vitio non oportett (viii. 73. 1); accusarem silentium tuum, nisi ... (ix.70.1). Lomanto, Marinone, and Zampolli, eds., Concordantiae, 201. e So already Callu’s long note (239) and even Marcone (75). Only to relent in the next sentence: vincor tamen adfectione et delector tali mendacio meo. Here compare silentium tuum honeste possit excusare longinquitas (v.13.1).

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these mutual complaints about “silence” have come up so often in the playful exchanges between the two friends, Symmachus has to keep his end up by producing fresh excuses.The silence of the once loquacious oracles of old is simply his most fanciful and ingenious variation on the theme. For Ratti, iv.33 is a somber document, a bitter reflection on the silence to which Christian repression has condemned pagans. But for anyone who reads it in the context of the other letters to Protadius, it is one side of a light-hearted, amusing exchange between close friends who shared a love of the classics and took special pleasure in filling their correspondence with ingeniously developed motifs of the genre and learned, witty allusions. The correspondence with Protadius, the most charming batch of letters in the entire collection, offers a particularly instructive insight into Symmachus’s attitude to classical culture. It is perhaps the single most clear-cut refutation of the once popular but now generally discredited notion that classical culture was the special prerogative of pagans. Both Protadius and his brother Florentinus, dedicatee of Claudian’s De raptu Proserpinae, used to be assumed pagans, partly because of their literary interests, partly because Protadius was a friend of both Symmachus and Rutilius Namatianus.65 But the fact that he and his two brothers all rose to high office in the immediate aftermath of the Frigidus leaves little doubt that they were Christians, albeit “liberal” Christians, enthusiasts of classical literature.66 On the evidence of his own letters Symmachus’s two closest and most congenial literary friends were both Christians: Ausonius and Protadius. A more complex illustration of the silence motif is iii.12 to Naucellius:67 If, as you say, your only reason for writing regularly is to extract letters from me in exchange, my silence wins a large reward in your letters (magnum silentii nostri in litteris tuis pretium est). Take care that the big advantage that I get from being silent (fructus tacendi) does not prevent me writing, because, if I were to reply often, perhaps you would ease off the more, on the grounds that you have got your wish. So keep to your plan of frequent writing even after my letter, although I would rather have your return than your page.

This is a far-fetched compliment, which I (and perhaps Naucellius too) had to read several times before finally grasping the point. In context there can be no question that here too both silentii and tacendi refer, not to the discreet, 65 66

67

And so a “grand aristocrate païen,” according to Ratti, Polémiques, 222 n. 51. Cameron, Last Pagans, 188–9; Beltran Rizo, “La correspondencia entre Q. Aurelio Símaco y los tres hermanos de Tréveris,” 283 n. 21. Again misinterpreted by Ratti, Polémiques, 46.

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enforced silence of the beleaguered pagan, but simply to not writing letters. The remark of Naucellius that inspired the conceit was itself a hyperbolical compliment, which Symmachus felt obliged to surpass. So he pretended to take it literally, claiming that, if he chose not to write, Naucellius would keep on writing in the hope of getting a letter, so that Symmachus would actually get more letters by not writing than by writing! As with the Protadius letters, Ratti’s interpretation presupposes that Naucellius was a pagan, in itself a reasonable assumption in an elderly man of letters.68 Yet even if born a pagan, Naucellius probably died a Christian. His metrical epitaph was found in the basilica of S. Paolo fuori le mura.69 One last point about the motif of silentium  =  not writing letters. Symmachus certainly did not invent it. Less often than the noun, he twice uses the verb, silere. Ep. iii.82 to the Christian Rufinus begins adhuc siles? Because Symmachus continues sed loquacitas mea non cohibetur exemplo, et est otium mihi ad verborum copiam nimis commodum, there can be no doubt that in effect this means “why have you still not replied to my letter?”70 The interrogative adhuc siles? is an exact Latin translation of a Greek formula used in exactly the same way as a reproachful beginning to a letter.The earliest example I have found is Libanius, Ep. 1129, opening ἔτι σιγᾷς: “Are you still silent?” No fewer than six letters of Procopius of Gaza, a Christian, open emphatically with the same formula ἔτι σιγᾷς (Epp. 29, 38, 55, 71, 89, 150). Procopius also sometimes uses the declarative, as in πάλιν σιγᾷς, “once again you do not reply” (Ep. 47.2).The index to Father Darrouzès’s Épistoliers byzantins du Xe siècle records both σιγή and σιωπή, whether “denounced or justified,” as very frequent in Byzantine epistolographers, simply meaning “failure to write letters.”71 Libanius’s Ep. 1129 dates from 364, earlier than the earliest surviving letter of Symmachus. There are also other parallels between Symmachus and Libanius. For example, with accusarem silentium tuum (Ep. ix. 70. 1), compare Libanius, Ep. 741. 1, written in 362: ἔμελλον αἰτιάσεσθαί σου τὴν πρὸς ἐμὲ σιωπήν, or Ep. 855 (from 388), οὐκ αἰτιασόμεθα τὴν σιωπήν. The combination of accusare/αἰτιᾶσθαι (the same originally legal metaphor)72 and silentium/σιωπή suggests a stock motif in earlier Greek epistolography.There is also another suggestive parallel with Procopius of Gaza. After beginning 68 69 70 71 72

See his entry in PLRE E i. 617–18; Speyer, Naucellius. ICUR R n.s. ii. 5017; Champlin, “The Epitaph of Naucellius”; Cameron, Last Pagans, 373–5. Cf. v. 77, beginning longum siles, continuing sed ego talis exempli imitator esse non debeo. Darrouzès, Épistoliers byzantins, 420–1; Mullett, Theophylact of Ochrid, 27. d For variations on the legal metaphor in Byzantine epistolography, see Hunger, Die hochsprachliche profane Literatur der Byzantinerr I, 222.

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“You are still silent” (σὺ μὲν ἔτι σιγᾷς), Procopius continue, “and that while living in Daphne, by that prophetic talking spring,” referring to the spring known as Castalia in Daphne, a suburb of Antioch where there was an oracle of Apollo.73 By implying that the proximity of a talkative oracle should make a better correspondent Procopius is, of course, making the reverse of the point in Symmachus Ep. iv. 33. But it is nonetheless striking that he links epistolary “silence” with the “voice” of an oracle. Note too that in making this literary point, the Christian Procopius ignores the fact that pagan oracles had supposedly been silent for centuries.

V Symmachus sometimes appended what he called an indiculus, breviarium or commonitorium to his letters, adding material he preferred not to include in the body of the letter, things (some have suspected) that he did not dare to write about openly. This, they assume, is why they were not included in Memmius’s edition. But a closer examination reveals what might be called an “innocent” explanation every time. I propose to translate all three terms, of which the most interesting is commonitorium, by “memo” or “memorandum.” In a letter thanking the younger Flavian and his wife (Symmachus’s daughter) for a birthday present (vi.48), Symmachus adds:  “As to things happening in the city, you will find the news in the appended memorandum” (indiculi cohaerentis lectione). Another letter to them (vi.65) again refers to a memo (breviarium) on the distressing res urbanae of the moment. Another expresses anxiety about an inheritance dispute (de peculio Petroniae); Symmachus says he has listed the principal arguments (capita rerum) of the other party in a memo (vi.2). Yet another refers to a memo for details his daughter had requested about fabrics for distribution at Memmius’s praetorian games (vi.40.2). In a letter to Minervius Symmachus says that he has supplied information about sources for the history of Gaul on a separate sheet to pass on to his brother Protadius; a letter to Protadius himself provides the promised material, references to Caesar, Livy, and Pliny (iv.36.2 and 18.5).74 Three letters to Magnillus about making purchases for Memmius’s quaestorian games in 392/3 refer to lists in attached commonitoria (v.21, 22, and 26). In ii.25 Symmachus advises the elder Flavian that his investigations 73

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Proc. Ep. 71, with F.  Ciccolella in E.  Amato, ed., Rose di Gaza:  gli scritti retorico-sofistici e le Epistole di Procopio di Gaza (Alessandria 2010), p. 467 nn. 342–3. I owe this reference to Arianna Gullo. Discussed in detail in Cameron, Last Pagans, 523–6.

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can contribute something to his business interests (privatis negotiis tuis), listing the main points (capita rerum) in a memo “because I didn’t want to be tedious by including them in my letter.” McGeachy “regret[s] that these valuable notes have perished, while the wordy and often worthless epistles were zealously preserved.”75 Some might indeed have made interesting reading. But what do they have in common? All contain information, requests, advice, or instruction in more detail than Symmachus thought appropriate for an elegant literary epistle: lists of fabrics, items for Memmius’s games, legal points, bibliography, local events.That is why Symmachus claims that they save his reader from tedium, and that is why Memmius did not include them in his edition, which was intended, and treated by later generations, as a stylistic model. Seen in the context of late antique and Byzantine epistolography as a whole, there is nothing in the least unusual, much less furtive or suspicious, about these attached memos. They can be paralleled in other letter writers, once again as far back as the age of Cicero. For example, with Symmachus’s memos about “things happening in the city” sent to the younger Flavian (Ep. vi.48 and 65), compare Caelius Rufus writing to Cicero in 51 BC: Redeeming the promise I made as I took my leave of you to write all the news of Rome in the fullest detail, I have been at pains to find a person to cover the ground so meticulously that I am afraid you may find the result too wordy.... It’s all here – the Senate’s decrees, the edicts, the gossip, the rumours.

A week or so later he sent Cicero another installment of what he describes as a commentarium rerum urbanarum, together with his letter.76 In 44 Cicero sent Trebatius an excerpt from a legal text to settle a dispute they had had the day before: “I have noted the relevant section and send you a transcript” (id caput ... notavi et descriptum tibi misi).77 Like Cicero, in his private letters Pliny often sent copies of his own works with a cover letter, although only the cover letter survives.78 In the letters to Trajan he often includes attached documents.79 Of course, the latter are not private messages but formal documents, and we find exact parallels in original letters preserved on stone or papyrus. For example, in a letter of Domitian, huic epistulae subici iussi (CIL 9. 5420 =  FIRA i. 75); and P. Oxy. 75 76 77 78 79

McGeachy, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 128. Fam. 8.1.1 = 77. 1 SB; Fam. 8.2.2 = 78.2SB. Fam. vii.22 = 331SB. For a list, see Morello, “Pliny and the Art of Saying Nothing,” 196–209. x.22, 47, 56, 58, 59, 79, 83, 92, 93, 114: Sherwin-White, The Letters of Pliny, 591.

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7.1022, huic epistulae subieci. Pliny too normally uses what was obviously the standard formula subieci.80 Only one of his attachments was partially preserved in the published edition (10.58), no doubt because the documents in question were letters from previous emperors. In his Relationes, official reports in his capacity as prefect of Rome, Symmachus regularly attached relevant documents, using a variety of formulas (subieci, subtexui, adnexui).81 Cassiodorus in his Variae frequently refers for details, names, and the like to what he calls a brevis (sc. libellus),82 sometimes singular, sometimes plural, often qualified by the participial phrases subditus, subter annexus, or subter conscriptus. Symmachus too once uses the bureaucratese missis de more brevibus (Rel. 35.2). None of these breves were included in the published edition of either Relationes or Variae.83 There is certainly nothing pagan about the practice of adding commonitoria to private letters. Paulinus refers to a commonitorium from Sulpicius Severus asking for advice about some question of biblical history. Unable to help, Paulinus sent the query on to Rufinus (Ep. 28.5), presumably attached to a letter. Jerome asks a friend to have copies made for him of books whose titles he lists in an attached memo (brevis subditus).84 By far our best source for this increasingly popular subgenre85 is the letters of Augustine, with almost forty references, both to commonitoria of his own and to those sent him by others. Because Augustine was more concerned with subject matter than the social and literary conventions of secular epistolography, ten (both by and to him) were included among his letters proper, formally so headed, for example, Commonitorium diacono Faustino (Ep. 7* Divjak) or Commonitorium domino meo sancto patri Augustino Consentius (11* Divjak), some of considerable length, usually on a single, specialized topic. Epp. 14–15* are a unique example of cover letter followed by commonitorium, with separate headings, the latter forwarded by Augustine from a third party. To return to Symmachus, we should perhaps distinguish between attached indiculi, breviaria, and tituli, mere lists or bullet points relegated to a postscript;

81 82

83 84 85

For more examples, see Coleman, “Bureaucratic Language,” 209 and 212–15. Pliny also uses iungeree, apparently when an original document is attached rather than copied under Pliny’s own letter (ὑπόκειταιι in Greek documents: see Vidman, Étude sur la correspondance de Pline le Jeune avec Trajan, 36–7; and Coleman, “Bureaucratic Language,” 212). For a brief account of these “attached papers,” see Barrow, Prefect and Emperor, 17–19. r This use of brevis is common in the sense “summary” or “résumé” from the third century on: TLL L ii (1900–6), 2179; Seeck, RE E III. 1 (1899), 832. See too OED2 s.v. brief, n1 for a variety of derivative meanings in English. O’Donnell, Cassiodorus, 93. Jer. Ep. 5.2. See the comprehensive treatment by R. Lizzi Testa, Un’epistola speciale: ill ‘commonitorium.’

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and commonitoria, developing a connected argument on a single subject, possibly longer than the letter itself. For example, in a brief note (vi.45) Symmachus claims that, in his anxiety about his daughter’s health, he has put other matters on one side for the moment, but appends a commonitorium he would like her to look at when she feels better. Surely more than a few lines, perhaps advice about buying, selling, or renovating one of her villas. In v.26 he refers to “many” requests about Memmius’s games sent to a certain Oceanus, in both letters and memoranda (et litteris et commonitoriis, v.26). Some of the requests for racehorses and bears preserved in Bk ix (e.g., 12, 18, 20, 132, 135), lacking as they do Symmachus’s usual compliments and salutations, might have been written as commonitoria rather than letters, which would be an additional reason they were not included in Bks i–vii. Only three touch in any way on paganism. First, in Ep. i.68 Symmachus urges his brother Celsinus Titianus, then vicarius of Africa, to do what he can to protect estates in the town of Vaga owned by the college of pontiffs, apparently under some sort of threat. Once again, the letter makes the issue clear while the commonitorium to which he refers for singula merely supplies details (presumably the nature of the threat, legal issues, possible solutions). Second, some “headings” (tituli) sent to the younger Flavian (ii.36). In 395, after his usual fussing about his daughter’s health, Symmachus says: “as to the present situation, I have decided to tell you nothing ... But since the love of our fellow citizens has led you once more to take part in civic affairs, I have briefly listed some facts under various headings, so that you can understand what people have been telling me without the tedium of a long read” (vi.55), evidently an attached commonitorium. This may look evasive, but has nothing to do with the young man’s paganism. These are the anxious months when Flavian was just beginning to emerge from the political disgrace of his role in Eugenius’s rebellion. Symmachus was exploiting every connection to have his beloved son-in-law rehabilitated. The “headings” must be things Flavian should be doing or (perhaps more important)86 not doing to obtain full rehabilitation. The “people” who have been giving Symmachus advice were presumably for the most part current officials and so more likely than not to be Christians. It looks as if Symmachus decided that it would be best to pass on this advice in plain language, without epistolary frills, quoting the very words people had used. Last, ii.36, discussed later. It would have made no sense to relegate secrets to attached memos – and even less to mention the fact in the letter! If a suspicious government had decided to intercept his mail, obviously they would have intercepted the 86

The young man’s arrogance was constantly getting him into trouble:  see Cameron, Last Pagans, 520.

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memos as well as the letters, so there would be no point in “hiding” incriminating material on a separate sheet of paper. Indeed, it would have made it easier to find! As for “living letters,” couriers who might be carrying a confidential oral message, if government spies had serious suspicions about anyone, they would not only have intercepted his letters but arrested his couriers, who might well have confessed to carrying imaginary secrets to avoid torture. Sidonius paints a grim picture of the hazards of being a letter carrier in the more dangerous world of late fifth-century Gaul:87 A courier (tabellarius) can by no means pass the guards of the public highroads without strict scrutiny; he may indeed incur no danger, being free from guilt, but he usually experiences a great deal of difficulty, as the watchful searcher (explorator) pries into every secret of letter-carriers, and if their answers to his questions should happen to show the least nervousness, they are believed to carry verbally in their heads the messages not committed to writing; thus the man sent often suffers ill-treatment and the sender acquires an ill name.

The couriers of anyone under suspicion would certainly have been arrested and interrogated together with the letters they were carrying.

VI A few letters require more detailed discussion. First, a letter written late in 389 to Hephaestion, an official at court Symmachus evidently felt he could trust.This was another difficult period, when Symmachus himself was struggling to recover from the blunder of his panegyric on the usurper Magnus Maximus. He delivered a panegyric on Theodosius, which was apparently not the success he had hoped, and he had to wait some time before being fully rehabilitated.88 Late in the year he was invited to the celebration of the consulates of Valentinian II and his friend Neoterius89 at court in Milan in January 390.The invitation arrived late, putting Symmachus in an embarrassing position. It was difficult to refuse such invitations in any circumstances,90 above all at a moment when his fate hung in the balance. He dashed off a number of apologetic refusals, of which only the one to Neoterius survives (v.38). Here is the letter to Hephaestion:91

87 88 89 90 91

Ep. ix.iii.2, Anderson’s Loeb translation. Sogno, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 68–78. Symmachus’ relationship with Neoterius went back at least to 376: cf. Ep. v.43. On the delicacy of refusing such invitations, see McGeachy, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 99–101. Ep. v.34; McGeachy’s translation adapted.

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Alan Cameron I did not lack the desire to begin the journey, but the tardy invitation limited my time for arrival, and for that reason it seemed more respectful to ask for indulgence [i.e., decline] than to arrive when the consular ceremonies were over. For this reason I have recently written very full letters, both to our lord the most clement emperor and to all the others who wanted me to be present. The agens in rebus Festus is even now holding up these letters by his delay in departing. And because I am afraid that what I have written may either be suppressed and hidden or opened and falsified by my enemies, I decided to send you, my lord and brother, copies of everything. It would be characteristic of your affection towards me in all matters to reply about the accuracy of all these documents (de omnium rerum fidelitate).

It seems that Symmachus had entrusted his various letters of apology to the official post, over which he had no control, and then suspected that they were being deliberately held up to embarrass him. Felix may in fact have had perfectly legitimate reasons for his delay, but time was short and Symmachus could not afford to take chances. His further anxiety, that his letters might be suppressed or falsified by personal enemies, looks paranoid, although perhaps less so when we recall Ammianus’s account of the destruction of Silvanus the magister peditum by the erasure of the original contents of a letter he had written and the substitution of something compromising.92 Symmachus presumably sent Hephaestion’s copies by a trusted courier of his own. For all his anxiety about intercepted letters, Symmachus clearly had no fear that anything incriminating would be found in his original letters, which is why he hastened to send an exact copy of the entire dossier to prove his innocence. What he is asking Hephaestion to do is check (confidentially) the letters that arrived through the official post against the copies. In any case, the underlying issue was not his paganism (everyone knew that Symmachus was a pagan), but that ill-judged panegyric on an unsuccessful usurper. As for his apprehension that his letters might have been suppressed or falsified, suppression would have made him look uncouth for not bothering to respond to an invitation from court; falsification would hardly (at this stage) have consisted of ascribing treasonable (much less pagan) sentiments to him (in a letter to the emperor!), but perhaps rather making him appear ungrateful or insufficiently contrite, faults scarcely less embarrassing in a compromised aristocrat trying to redeem himself. In the event Symmachus was probably exaggerating the danger in which he stood; he soon received the exceptional honor of nomination to the consulship for 391.

92

Amm. Marc. xv.5.4.

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Next, an often misunderstood letter addressed to Flavian at an unfortunately unknown date expresses anxiety about the possibility of letters being intercepted (ii.12):93 1. I’ve discovered that many [tabellarii], after I’ve given them letters [to deliver], go for a stroll in the forum of our city.94 This is why I’m afraid that the haste they affect when they start out is misleading. So I thought it appropriate to send you copies of my letters together with the names of my men [i.e., my tabellarii] to read or re-read.95 For your part, in each case please either let me know about their honesty (fidelitas), if they fulfilled their task, or reveal their perfidy (perfidia), if they did not. I am particularly anxious to know whether you have received all my letters signed with the ring by which my name is more easily deciphered than read [i.e., a monogram].96 2. That there is nothing I fear to have made public you will judge by reading through these copies. There is no reason for secrecy between us. With open hearts we exchange civilities that are innocent. Nothing lurks in our consciences that is concealed in the underground passages of our writing. Nonetheless it is proper that we should not allow people to make a mockery of our candour. Nor, just because my prudence is such that I have nothing to fear (cautio praestitit ne timerem), need I put up with traitors.

Symmachus perhaps protests a little too much here. His emphasis on the innocence of his letters implicitly envisages readers who might need convincing (not that this need have any connection to his paganism).Yet there is no indication that it is government agents or spies he suspects of intercepting them. Indeed elsewhere he makes a joke of the possibility. A letter to no less a person than Stilicho begins by wondering whether earlier letters had been intercepted, surely a joke, a humorous (one might have thought risky) way of complaining that Stilicho had not replied to his letters (iv.11)! If Symmachus had really been afraid that spies had intercepted incriminating letters to Flavian, he would hardly have sent fresh copies of the very same letters out into the world. On the contrary, the dossier of recent letters complete with the names of the tabellarii who supposedly delivered them that he sends Flavian clearly presupposes that it was one of them he suspected. 93

94

95

96

See Cecconi, Commento storico; I have borrowed a couple of phrases from McGeachy’s translation (126–7). spatiari,i uncharacteristically mistranslated by McGeachy, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 121 (“after receiving letters from me are making them public in the forum”), whence my clarifying supplements in square brackets. That is, reread, if he had already received them when Symmachus originally sent them; or read for the first time if he had not. On Symmachus’ monogram, perhaps a novelty, see Cameron, Last Pagans, 721.

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And his basis for this suspicion is nothing more sinister than the fact that some of his tabellarii had been seen lounging about in the forum instead of promptly setting out on their journey.97 He was no doubt distressed by the fact that one or two recent letters had gone astray. A letter to Protadius applies the same harsh categories of fidelitas and perfidia to good and bad tabellarii, respectively (iv.21.3). Another letter to Flavian complains about the slowness of his tabellarius,98 adding that he hopes Flavian has by now received his letter, “unless one of those rich city highwaymen (aliquis ex urbanis divitibus insessor viarum) has stolen our letters once again (denuo)” (Ep. ii.48.1). This is obviously a joke, with the denuo suggesting a familiar joke. The point of the joke is presumably that real highwaymen are poor folk, lurking by the roadside in the hope of snatching a purse. But these are well-to-do highwaymen, lurking by the roadside to steal only one thing, letters written by Symmachus, so that they can pretend that they were the actual addressees! It is often stated, on the basis of this passage, that people really stole Symmachus’s letters, and that this is what led him to think of publishing them.99 This is most unlikely. While it was worrying if letters went astray, Symmachus knew perfectly well that many people other than the named addressees of his letters got to see or hear their contents. Already in Cicero’s day letters were often passed around, with or without writers’ permission or knowledge.100 And most surviving late antique letter writers refer at least once to the public reading of newly arrived letters, especially from famous people. Here is Synesius, writing to his literary friend Pylaemenes:101 A man from Phycus (a harbour of the Cyreneans) has brought me a letter written under your name. I have read it with both pleasure and admiration. It was worthy of both, because of the affection of your soul102 and because of the beauty of its language. I quickly called together in your honour an Of course, an extreme sceptic might maintain that this is all a fabrication to cover up deeper anxiety about spies, but if so, why should we ever trust anything Symmachus says in his letters? And why publish such a fabrication years after the event? 98 Similar complaints in ii.54; iii.28; iv.21.3; ix.92. 99 So already Seeck, Symmachus, xxiv; McGeachy, Symmachus, 121; Marcone, Di tarda antichità 67. 100 Examples quoted by White, Cicero in Letters, 92–3. Roy Gibson points out to me that Pliny, Ep. ix.19 may be an illustration. 101 Ep. 101.1, with the useful commentary in Garzya and Roques, eds., Synésios de Cyrène, e ii, 353–4. 102 τὸ μὲν τῇ διαθέσει τῆς ψυχῆς, τὸ δὲ τῷ κάλλει τῆς γλώττης. For this meaning of διάθεσις, common in the epistolographers, almost in the sense of “friendship,” see Hunger, Die hochsprachliche profane Literatur, 220. r

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assembly (θέατρον) of the Greeks who reside in Libya and told them to come and listen to an eloquent letter.

And Procopius of Gaza: “I have presented your letter as a rhetorical show (θέατρον), and it was recited to all in the centre of Gaza”;103 Aeneas of Gaza: “I have gathered together a θέατρον for your letter and drummed up applause for it”;104 and Libanius: “I received your very precious letter and read it, not by myself, or rather by myself the first time, but then in my admiration I also convened the council as an audience (θέατρον) for the letter” (Ep. 1259). Nor were letters read in public simply display rhetoric, intended for performance. Libanius was clearly annoyed that some people he wrote to made his letters public. For example, the philosopher Themistius:105 “Any letter you get [in Constantinople] is immediately known to people here [in Antioch]. You betray Zeus of friendship and think to put me in the firing line instead. In the city square you display my letters, wind of it rises there, rushes here, and creates storms for me.” Or to Andronicus: “What have you done, Andronicus? I  write a letter to you, you show it to somebody else, they report it to people here, and you leave me with a fight on my hands” (Ep. 477 F = 17 Norman). Ratti writes of Libanius’s “crainte perpétuelle ... que ses lettres ne soient divulgées en dehors du cercle des initiés.”106 Quite the reverse. He was only too well aware that any number of unauthorized persons might be reading (or hearing) his letters, and that there were likely to be Christians and (at Antioch) courtiers present at public recitations. The dignified Symmachus does not mention anything quite like this, although some of his letters to Ausonius and Protadius were surely shared. A pair of linked letters (v.85–6) affect to be surprised, although flattered, at the news that Helpidius has been making copies of his letters, with only a half-hearted protest about the violation of confidentiality. The fact that the man obviously already had the copies Symmachus had sent him presumably means that he made extra copies to give away. By far the most elaborate account we have of the reception of a letter of Symmachus comes in a letter of Libanius:107

103

Ep. 91 fin., in Amato, ed., Rose di Gaza, 368. Ep. 16, in Massa Positano, ed., Enea di Gaza 47; cf. too Ep. 7, p. 43. 105 Ep. 476 F = 16 Norman (i.400 Loeb). 106 Ratti, Review of Delmaire, Desmulliez, and Gatier, eds., Correspondances. 107 Ep. 1004 F  =  177 Norman (ii.384–91), with useful notes. See too Bruggisser, “Libanios, Symmaque et son père Avianius.” 104

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Alan Cameron 1. I enjoyed a good night, such were my dreams. When it was day I met my friends, told them of my dreams of the night and also foretold that something good would happen since the vision would bring it to fruition. 2. So the day proceeded to the third hour and I was in the midst of my task when Quadratus [presumably Symmachus’s tabellarius], that excellent, that blessed fellow – for he must surely be blessed since his time is spent in association with you – came in and placed the letter into my hand, saying quite simply that it was from you. 3. And straightaway all my troubles fled – and these were many that have long assailed me, causing me pain. A joy possessed me greater than that of misers when they happen to get money. 4. And that was before the reading of it! When a translator had been found, I thought it a shame not to fill the whole city with the gift of fortune, and so I handed the letter over to three of my friends and told them to go through the whole of the city and to show it both to those well disposed to me and to those who were not, in the first case for their pleasure, in the second, that they should choke with chagrin.

Symmachus’s “highwaymen” are just a humorous explanation of the fact that his highly prized letters sometimes failed to arrive – hardly an uncommon occurrence for a variety of innocent reasons.108 Clearly not government spies. Rather than expressing anxiety about spies, Symmachus is actually boasting of the fame of his letters!

VII Not only is there no evidence of any kind that Symmachus thought it dangerous to reveal his paganism in his letters. It is clear from Bks i and ii that the publication of his letters was intended positively to draw attention to it. Bk i includes letters to his father, Avianius Symmachus,Vettius Praetextatus, and Celsinus Titianus, his brother. These men were not just pagans. All three were holders of multiple Roman priesthoods:  Avianius and Titianus two each, and Praetextatus four. No fewer than four of the letters to Praetextatus (i.46, 47, 49, 51) and one to Titianus (i.68) deal quite openly and explicitly with business of the pontifical colleges. Let us return to the notion of the “living letter.” Suppose Symmachus entrusted a pagan friend to carry a message about the cults to another pagan friend. What sort of message might it have been? In what respect could it have been more emphatically pagan than what he says openly in letters to 108

Cicero and his friends often took the precaution of sending duplicates of important letters by different couriers: see the texts collected by White, Cicero in Letters, 182 n. 16; for lost é letters, see Gorce, Les voyages, l’hospitalité, 236–7.

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Praetextatus and Titianus? We do in fact have a perfect illustration of the phenomenon, Ep. i.46 to Praetextatus, which Symmachus tells him will be delivered in person by none other than Titianus. Writer, recipient, and courier were all members of the priestly colleges. Here is the entire letter: 1. I could have saved myself the trouble of writing, since my brother’s conversation seemed likely to satisfy you more fully than my letter, but the performance of honorable obligations must be considered of greater profit than speechless repose. Therefore, I  must neither be silent, in order that the honour of friendship redound to my credit, nor must everything be entrusted to a letter, so that something be left for him to tell. Receive nevertheless a summary of these matters and the chief points of the affair concerning which my brother is instructed and will handle any questions of greater length. 2. An agreement was reached among the public priests that we should hand over care of the gods to the guardianship of the citizens for an act of public observance, for the goodwill of the gods is lost, unless it is maintained by cult. Therefore honor was paid to the gods much more lavishly than was customary. You seem to be waiting for the rest. My dear Titianus will serve as your informant, to whom the task has been delegated of telling you more fully whatever you want.This same man will explain to you the edict of the emperors, unless it is already known to you. Now, too, you have got back those statues with almost the same popular acclamations as when you had lost them. Laugh if it pleases you.You were away, so you can laugh. I say no more lest, after recounting better news cursorily, I seem to linger over the bitter.

On the one hand, clearly this letter does not tell us all we would like to know about the “act of public observance,” the imperial edict, the statues that are apparently being restored, or why Praetextatus might be laughing (obviously not with pleasure). On the other hand, this is surely not because Symmachus is afraid to give more information or being evasive. As Michele Salzman observes in her helpful new commentary on Bk i,109 Despite these uncertainties, this letter ... provides significant information about the mechanisms of state cult and its continued performance by public priests in Rome. Indeed, the letter reveals an independent college of public priests ... that is still actively directing rituals in Rome in the last quarter of the fourth century.

109

In Salzman and, Roberts, eds., The Letters of Symmachus, 99–102, summarizing the various interpretations advanced over the years. It is not even clear whether the reference to statues is a separate issue. I gratefully quote Roberts’ and Salzman’s translation.

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Symmachus gives more than enough information to reveal all three of them as active participants in pagan sacrifice. While it would be fascinating to know what Titianus told Praetextatus in person, what could Symmachus have said that would have been more incriminating from the Christian point of view? Compare too Ep. i.49 to Praetextatus: You ask a citizen “born for the common good” what is the news that is closest to the truth about this disturbing matter. From reliable sources we received favorable reports; thereafter the suspicion caused by a long silence gave rise to anxious rumors. But I am not concerned about such opinions that arise without any attribution. I am intensely distressed because, despite numerous sacrifices (sacrificiis multiplicibus), and these often repeated by each of the authorities, the prodigy of Spoleto has not yet been expiated in the public name (necdum publico nomine Spoletinum expiatur ostentum). For the eighth sacrificial victim scarcely appeased Jove (Iovem vix propitiavit octava mactatio) and for the eleventh time honor was paid to Public Fortune with multiple sacrificial victims (multiiugis hostiis) in vain. You know now where we are. The decision now is to call the college to a meeting. I will make sure you know if the divine remedies make any progress.

Once again, the modern scholar might wish for a fuller account (for example, the nature of the portent). But in this case the reason for Symmachus’s failure to give more information is simply that Praetextatus already knew the basic facts. He had written asking for an update, which, despite the relative brevity of the letter, Symmachus provides in revealing detail, actually itemizing the number of sacrifices performed. It seems not to have been appreciated in earlier discussions that these letters in effect carry two dates. The letter to Titianus cannot have been written later than his death in 380; the letters to Praetextatus might be even earlier, at any rate before Gratian’s anti-pagan measures of 382. One of the letters to Flavian dates from 384, the others range from 390 to 393.110 If the letters to Praetextatus and Titianus had been published when they were written, that was a period when the pagan cults of Rome had not yet been banned; indeed, until 382 they were still publicly funded. Twenty years later, inevitably they read very differently. If he had wanted to play safe, Symmachus was under no obligation to publish twenty-year-old private letters, hitherto read by no one but Praetextatus,Titianus, and himself, letters that so emphatically branded all three of them active pagans. He must have had many more letters

110

For a tabulation of the various dates proposed for the letters of Bk ii, see Cecconi, Commento storico, 137–40.

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in his files than those he published, and could surely have made a more neutral selection if he had wished. Bk ii consists of ninety letters addressed to the elder Flavian. Three of them refer quite openly to pagan festivals:  sacra deum matris (ii.34); Vestalis festi gratia (ii. 59.1); unidentified caerimoniae deorum et festa divinitatis imperata (ii.53). A fourth (ii.36) tells Flavian about a meeting of the pontifical college (a meeting Flavian had evidently missed!) that debated a proposal by the Vestals to erect a statue in honor of Praetextatus. Shocked by the innovation of women wishing to erect a statue to a man, Symmachus voted with the minority against the proposal, and enclosed a copy of the decision for Flavian (ipsa verba ad te misi), in passing making (but regrettably not explaining) the point that votes in the college did not work in quite the same way as votes in the senate.111 This is one case where the attachment was a pagan document, but obviously not for the sake of secrecy. Interesting though it would have been to know the exact vote,112 that could hardly have been more incriminating than what Symmachus says quite openly in the text of the letter. In addition, letters to Flavian are peppered with formulae like ope deum, deum beneficio, and dii vertant bene.113 Note particularly, in a letter written during the food crisis of Symmachus’s urban prefecture in 384, the year he wrote his immortal appeal about the altar of Victory, “dii patrii, facite gratiam neglectorum sacrorum” (Ep. ii.7.3). When was Bk i published? It used to be thought that the entire correspondence was published by Memmius Symmachus, soon after his father’s death in 402 (but before 408, or letters to Stilicho would surely have been excluded rather than prominently placed at the beginning of Bk iv). But there are grounds for believing that Symmachus himself published Bk i: (a) no letter in Bk i is later than circa 385, while all the other books (except ii) have letters as late as the late 390s; (b) all the recipients were dead, something not true of Bks iii–vii; (c) there are more archaisms and poeticisms in Bk i than in any of the later books.114 The presumption is that, like Pliny before him and Sidonius after, Symmachus did a certain amount of verbal revising of these early letters with a view to publication, something that only the writer, not a later editor, would do. So first Callu and now Salzman.115

112

113 114 115

For more details, see Cecconi’s useful commentary on ii.36. Among other things, it would have given us some idea how many pontifices there were in 384 (allowing for one or two absentees like Flavian). ii.6; 7; 11; 24; 45; 47; 48.2; 49.1; 50; 52.2; 55.2; 59.2. Haveling, Studies on Symmachus, 136; Cameron, Last Pagans, 368. Callu, Symmaque, e 18; Salzman and Roberts, eds., The Letters of Symmachus, liv–lxi.

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If so, he had every opportunity to delete or modify the letters dealing with pagan sacrifice – but clearly did not. If Symmachus himself published Bk i, when did he do so? According to Salzman, “no later than the early 390s.” But if as early as this, why did he publish no more in the decade before his death in 402? Late in life Augustine began to edit his letters for publication, but was distracted by theological controversy.116 It is difficult to see what might have distracted Symmachus. Sogno points out that one of the closest friends of Symmachus’s later years, Protadius, in a letter datable precisely to November 395, deplored the fact that he entrusted his letters periturae chartae, to perishable paper, perhaps implying that as late as 395 he had not yet published any and encouraging him to do so.117 Perhaps rather the late 390s. The reason I have lingered over this question should by now be obvious. Although no one seems to have raised the matter before, it might be thought to make a difference whether the openly pagan letters to Praetextatus and Titianus were published before or after the Frigidus. If after, these letters would stand out the more if Bk i, for the moment at least, stood alone, unaccompanied by the less obviously controversial contents of Bks iii–vii.118 The few who still believe in the myth of a vigorous pagan rebellion, brutally cut short on the field of battle in September 394, would doubtless prefer to see Bk i published before then, while the temples of Rome might still be pictured running with sacrificial blood. But the probability is that Bk i was published after 395, inescapably so if (as used to be taken for granted) it was Memmius who published Bk i together with ii–vii between 402 and 408. I myself am inclined to a compromise solution. If Symmachus had actually published Bk i himself, might we not have expected it to open, like the opening books of the published letters of Pliny and Sidonius (and Bks viii and ix of Sidonius), with a preface, a new letter addressed to a dedicatee?119 Ambrose, who himself arranged, revised, and published his correspondence in ten books on the Plinian model between 395 and 397, dedicated the work to Justus, bishop of Lyon, with some prefatory remarks.120 Gregory Nazianzen wrote a group of dedicatory letters for the selection of his letters published

116

Ebbeler, Disciplining Christians, 14. Ep. iv.35.3; Sogno, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 61. On the Juvenalian echo, see Cameron, Last Pagans, 537. 118 I am assuming that viii–x were a later addition to the original plan, whether by Memmius a few years later or (as Marcone argued) someone else much later. 119 Gavin Kelly 2015 argues that Bk I was published as early as 381/382. 120 The facts are succinctly set out by Zelzer, Sancti Ambrosii Opera x.2, xix–xxxix. 117

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by his great-nephew Nicoboulos.121 When collecting occasional verse into book form, both Martial and Statius prefaced individual books with specially written epistolary dedications in prose.122 Prefaces and dedications are always written last, and the lack of a dedicatory letter raises the possibility that the volume was all but ready for publication when Symmachus died. Whether or not he lived to see Bk i published, the clear signs of verbal revision leave no doubt that it was Symmachus himself who prepared it for publication. He was evidently planning to publish more, and while he had not begun stylistic revision, it is likely that he had at least made a preliminary selection of which letters to include and (just as important) exclude. Did he get any further than this? The fact that ii.36 to Flavian describes a peculiarity in the voting of the pontifical college that was surely well known to Flavian suggests the possibility of an editorial addition for the benefit of readers of the published version. What did Memmius do for the remaining books? The formula editus post eius obitum a Q. Fabio Memmio Symmacho v. c. filio preserved after Bks ii and iv means only that Memmius published the books, not (as is sometimes stated) that he edited them. Obviously he must have done some editorial work, but it is unlikely that he ventured to add letters not marked for inclusion by his father, and he simply continued the arrangement laid down in Bk i, continuous batches to each correspondent (basically the structure of Cicero’s correspondence).123 As Sogno has pointed out, the fact that Bk i opens with letters to Symmachus’s father and Bk vii with letters to his son can hardly be accidental; nor can the fact that Bks ii and vi consist entirely of letters to the elder and younger Flavian, respectively, the only books with a single addressee throughout.124 There is thus fairly clear evidence of ring composition (i ~ vii; ii ~ vi). Note too that letters to Stilicho, the most important (then) living person included, are placed precisely in the center, at the beginning of Bk iv. Nine hundred letters sounds like a lot, but many are very short and, spread over more than thirty years, add up to fewer than thirty a year. We are surely justified in assuming that this represents no more than a selection 121

Epp. 51–5 in modern editions: Gallay, Saint Grégoire de Naziancee, xxi–xxiii; Dennis,“Gregory of Nazianzus,” 3–13. 122 See White, “The Presentation”; Coleman, Statius Silvae IV V  53–62. 123 Although there is also a chronological element in some Ciceronian groupings absent from the Symmachan batches. 124 Sogno, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 61. Bks iv and vii contain letters written somewhat later than iii and v, but because many are not exactly datable and none actually carry specific dates, it is not likely that most contemporaries would have noticed.

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from a larger, probably much larger number.125 To cite a single pointer, in v.34 Symmachus claims to have sent letters of apology to “all the others” who wanted him to attend the consular celebrations of 390, but only one is included (v.38).126 There is no point in speculating about what he omitted when making his selection, or why, but there is one firm inference we may draw about what he included. Every letter in the published edition must have passed whatever criteria Symmachus set up and Memmius followed. Here we may contrast the circumstances in which Libanius’s correspondence saw the light of day. Libanius was a professional man who kept copies of his letters for a variety of reasons, but one of them was surely the thought that one day he might publish at least a selection. In the end, despite living to a prolific old age of almost eighty, he did not. It is now generally accepted that they were published a few years after his death from his own files by “an unknown literary executor or admirer.”127 There is little sign that this editor attempted to impose any structure on the collection; the letters are not even divided into separate books. There are long sequences in chronological order, but that is not because someone took the trouble to date the letters in question and so arrange them, but simply because this is the order in which they were originally copied into Libanius’s files as he wrote them.128 He refers often to the pagan gods, but is very careful to avoid politics.129 Because many of even his later speeches are deeply pagan, there is no reason to believe that he would have edited pagan references out of his letters if he had lived to publish them himself. What we do know is that, despite his open paganism, later Christian generations had no qualms about copying and recopying the enormous corpus of his letters, and treating them as models of epistolary style. In the case of Symmachus we are fortunate enough to know exactly who was responsible for both the selection and arrangement of at any rate Bks i–vii 125

Cicero’s surviving letters total about 950, but not only are many of them much longer; references to now lost books suggest that as many again were once in circulation, not to mention letters never published. For details, White, Cicero in Letters, 171–5. We saw earlier that there may have been more than 3,000 letters of Libanius. 126 Compare White’s demonstration that Cicero’s published correspondence represents only a selection of the letters he wrote (White, Cicero in Letters, chapter 2). 127 For brief accounts, see Norman, Libanius, 28–43; Bradbury, Selected Letters of Libanius, 19–23 (whence the quotation). 128 While there are chronological sequences of varying length in several ancient letter collections, there is little sign that this was ever considered a basic principle of arrangement: see Gibson, “On the Nature.” 129 For Libanius’ paganism, see Sandwell, Religious Identity in Late Antiquity; Cribiore, Libanius the Sophist. t

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of his correspondence. Because Memmius included an entire book of letters to both Flavians, he surely asked the younger, his own brother-in-law, who had already held high office and was now in his mid-forties, to run a more experienced eye over at any rate Bks ii and vi. That is to say, Symmachus’s correspondence was not put into its surviving form by some unknown (and perhaps imprudent) admirer of uncertain date, but by Symmachus himself, his son, and his son-in-law, all well-informed aristocrats with connections in the imperial administration. The barely twenty-year-old Memmius still had his career ahead of him and Flavian too still had hopes of preferment (he was to hold the praetorian prefecture in 431–2). They must have been confident that nothing published in Bks i–vii would offend the government of the day. And evidently nothing did. It is easy to believe that, in the early stages of the project, doubts were expressed about the advisability of including letters to the elder Flavian so soon after the Frigidus. It is indeed surprising that Symmachus did not at once destroy them all together with those to Eugenius and Arbogast. After all, he did destroy all letters to the younger Flavian written before the Frigidus. But clearly he preserved his letters to the elder Flavian, even those with obvious pagan content. What prompted the decision that there was no risk in publishing them? After Theodosius’s victory in September 394 the elder Flavian suffered posthumous damnatio memoriae: his consulship was cancelled and his name removed from public dedications in his honor. It is widely assumed that he remained a non-person until posthumously rehabilitated in 431. If this were really so, it would have been rash to the point of folly to publish letters to him as early as 402/8. But this assumption ignores the amnesty of May 18, 395, that lifted the “brand of infamy” (nota infamiae),130 alluded to in a letter of Symmachus to Flavian, probably written in winter 395/6. Most of the letter deals with the serious famine in Rome at the time. This famine only accentuated the problems of the younger Flavian, who had been prefect of Rome until the Frigidus in September 394, when the situation began to deteriorate. The main reason was the rebellion of Gildo, the count of Africa, who withheld African corn from Rome.131 This was hardly Flavian’s fault, but there were hostile demonstrations against him, according to Symmachus encouraged by “the tenacious jealousy of our colleagues which we know so well” (Ep. vi.1.2). But by the time Symmachus wrote the situation was improving and the people were now (he claims) openly 130 131

Cod.Theod. d 15.14.11; Sogno, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 82; Cameron, Last Pagans, 199–200. Kohns, Hungerrevolten, 191–207.

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repenting of their hatred of “so great a fellow citizen” (tanti civis), meaning Flavian. The letter concludes as follows: But there’s no need to pursue this point any further. It is enough that the people are providing this proof that your reputation is restored. May you find solace in the celebrated memory of your father (in patris celebri memoria), and may your father’s rehabilitation live on in your safety (vivat ... in tua salute paterna reparatio).

As so often in Symmachus, this is expressed obscurely, but nonetheless implies that the elder Flavian is no longer a disgraced person whose very name is not to be spoken. His memoria is no longer damnata but now celebris, and he has enjoyed a reparatio. That the younger Flavian was soon fully rehabilitated is proved by the fact he was reappointed to the prefecture of Rome by mid-399. What this letter proves is that the elder Flavian too shared in this rehabilitation. He did not receive the additional honor of having his statue in the Forum of Trajan reinscribed until 431,132 but from May 395 on he was no longer a non-person. The clearest proof of this is the statue Memmius Symmachus erected in the family house on the Caelian, where Flavian is given the title co(n)s(ul ord(inarius), officially revoked after the Frigidus. Dessau dated the base before Eugenius’s death, understandably assuming that he could not have been so styled after.133 But the fact that Memmius also styles him prosocer optimus proves that the statue cannot be earlier than 401, when he married Flavian’s granddaughter;134 and the fact that he gives himself only the basic senatorial style v. c. suggests in or not long after 402, given that the statue is paired with one of his father, who died in 402. The atrium of an aristocratic mansion on the Caelian was hardly private space, and Memmius would never have dared to restore the revoked consulship if Flavian had still been a disgraced non-person. It is surely no coincidence that three letters in Bk ii (83–5) also refer to this consulship, his highest distinction. The rebels had all been pardoned, and Flavian was now dead anyway. Even so, once the decision was made to include these letters, one might have expected a brief selection, as with all the other correspondents, rather than an entire book. As it is, more letters are addressed to the elder Flavian than to any other person in the entire collection, a statistic that has not attracted the attention it surely deserves. Why not a selection that simply presented him as a distinguished senator and man of letters – anything but a leading member of the pagan priesthood? Once again, we should bear in 132 133 134

On this, see Cameron, Last Pagans, 199–200. In his notes on ILS S 2947. For the date of the marriage, PLRE E i.1047.

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mind that, before Memmius published them, no one but Flavian himself had ever seen these letters.135 Writing a generation later, Macrobius discreetly describes Flavian as surpassing his distinguished father “no less in his splendid character and sober way of life than in his deep and abundant learning.”136 It is often claimed that assigning him a speech on augural law emphasizes that he was an active pagan, but (as I have explained elsewhere) that is completely to misunderstand Macrobius’ purpose. All his interlocutors were pagans, and he simply used them as mouthpieces for material he himself had collected, in Flavian’s case on Vergil’s supposed expertise in augural law.The speeches in Macrobius are meant to illustrate Vergil’s expertise, not that of the various interlocutors.137 Memmius could have given a similar impression by omitting the handful of letters that referred to pagan festivals and priesthoods. Just to be really safe he might also have chosen to delete the reference to neglecta sacra and formulas like ope deum and dii vertant bene. But he did neither. He ostentatiously included letters that revealed both his father and Flavian as devout and active pagans. It is natural to link the inclusion of the “pagan” letters with the fact that the same Memmius included the priestly title pontifex maior on the statue bases to both his father and his grandfather-in-law in the family house on the Caelian.

VIII Why did Memmius include these letters to Praetextatus, Titianus, and the elder Flavian? Certainly not a provocative gesture by a defiant pagan, at least for Bk i. For while Praetextatus, Titianus, and Symmachus himself were all pagans, at least four of the other five men included in Bk i were prominent Christians (Ausonius, Petronius Probus, Hesperius, and Claudius Antonius). To be sure, Ausonius was what we would now call a liberal Christian, devoted to classical culture. Yet if it had been Symmachus’ purpose to proclaim the centrality of the pagan element in classical culture, it would have undermined the whole concept to have conceded that a Christian could master it just as well. Probus too was a man known for his classical culture.138 Antonius, a kinsman by marriage of the emperor Theodosius, was also a man of culture whom Symmachus praises for his eloquence. The keynote of the

135 136 137 138

Flavian himself, of course, may have shown them to one or two friends. Macrob. Sat. t i.5.13, trans. Kaster, adapted. Flavian cannot have been an authority on augural law; see Cameron, Last Pagans, 607. See Cameron, Last Pagans, 365–6.

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book is thus compromise and conciliation rather than confrontation. Pagan readers would be pleased that Symmachus made no secret of the devotion to the old gods he shared with Praetextatus, Flavianus, and Titianus, but Christians would be reassured to see how many prominent Christians he corresponded with.139 Was Memmius a pagan? It has always been taken for granted that the younger Flavian and Memmius Symmachus shared their fathers’ paganism, and on general grounds it is likely that both were at any rate brought up as pagans.140 But one feature of Symmachus’ letters to them raises the possibility that, by the time they were published in Memmius’ edition, neither man wished to be identified as openly pagan. A detailed study of polytheistic formulas in Symmachus’ letters (deis volentibus and the like) has shown that they appear at least once in letters to virtually all his pagan correspondents.141 Yet while there are sixteen polytheistic formulas in the ninety letters to the elder Flavian, there are none at all in the eighty-one to the younger Flavian (only a vague nunc in caelestium manu est, Ep. vi.75). The same is true of the fourteen letters to Memmius (only advocata numinum voluntate and orans divina praesidia at vii.1 and 12). Nothing much should be made of such vague expressions, given that Symmachus writes voto divina convenio to the passionately Christian prefect Rufinus (iii.90) and “honouring the numina” to Olybrius and Probinus, the Christian consuls of 395. More intriguing still, we find three monotheistic formulas in letters to the younger Flavian (deo iuvante, praefata dei venia: vi.65.2; 19.1; 68.1) and one in a letter to Memmius (deo iuvante, vii.14). Nothing is known of Memmius’ career beyond his praetorship in 401, the same year he married, but because his son, significantly named Q. Aurelius Symmachus after his grandfather,142 reached the consulship in 446, it does not look as if he suffered. His grandson, Aurelius Memmius Symmachus cos. 485, was a pillar of the Christian establishment of Rome.When did the family convert, although “convert” is perhaps too positive a term? Rather, when did the family begin to present itself as openly Christian? Nothing is known about Symmachus cos. 446, although to argue from the date alone it seems 139

The last two sentences are repeated, slightly modified, from Cameron, Last Pagans, 373. There is, however, no evidence that the younger Flavian ever held one of the state priesthoods. 141 Cameron, Last Pagans, 377–82. 142 PLRE E ii.1042 under Symmachus 3 records no other names, but the consul of 446 is to be identified with Q. Aurelius Symmachus of CIL L vi. 32162 rather than Symmachus cos. 485; cf. Cameron, “The Last Consul,” 144; Orlandi, Epigrafia anfitreale dell’0ccidente Romano VI. Roma, 512. Symmachus 446 cannot be descended from Aurelius Anicius Symmachus PVR 418–20: Cameron, “Anician Myths,” 155. 140

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unlikely that he presented himself as a pagan. As for Memmius, whatever his personal beliefs (and he was born too late to have any personal knowledge of living Roman paganism), it is unlikely that he wished to be perceived as an active pagan. That is surely why his father took care to write such neutral letters to him. The younger Flavian, compromised by his part in Eugenius’ rebellion, was obliged to convert. This is the usual and I think correct inference from Augustine, CD v.26: The sons of his enemies, whose fathers had been slain not so much by his command as by the violence of war, took refuge in a church even though they were not Christians. Wishing to take advantage of this situation to make Christians of them, and loving them with Christian charity, [Theodosius] did not deprive them of their property, but indeed increased their honours.

No names are mentioned, but it was well known that the elder Flavian, father of a son who had also held high office under the usurper, died in the war. And for a while at least the younger Flavian indeed faced financial ruin (from which a series of interventions by Symmachus saved him).143 But within five years he was rehabilitated and reappointed to the very office he had held under Eugenius, the prefecture of Rome. If that much of what Augustine says fits Flavian’s immediate post-Frigidus career, we are surely bound to accept that he “converted.” Of course, we are not obliged to believe that he became a sincere believer, but after such a narrow escape it is unlikely that he presented himself openly as a pagan, still less (as so often claimed in the past) the leader of a continuing “pagan reaction.” While Eugenius’ rebellion was not the last pagan stand it used to be represented, it does seem indisputable that Theodosius’ successive victories against usurpers were retroactively seen as proof of the triumph of (orthodox) Christianity.144 The aftermath of the Frigidus was not the moment for anyone to pursue the aggressive paganism that the younger Flavian, without a shred of evidence, continues to be credited with. It is not, I  suggest, a coincidence that Symmachus was careful to draw a distinction between his letters to the two Flavians. It is also surely significant that Macrobius did not include the younger Flavian among the interlocutors for his Saturnalia, despite the fact that he was related to two of the three hosts and quite old enough to have 143 144

On all this, the best treatment is now Sogno, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 78–83. Cameron, Last Pagans, esp. chapter 3.

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participated in the fictional discussions of the work. As I  recently argued elsewhere, there are two possible explanations for his absence, not mutually exclusive. First, unlike all the other interlocutors, he may still have been alive when Macrobius wrote; second, and surely more important, to have been represented together with his father, father-in-law, and Praetextatus discussing topics like sacrifice in Vergil would have branded him a devout and knowledgeable pagan.Whatever his inner beliefs, by the time Macrobius wrote the younger Flavian had long ceased to present himself publicly as a pagan.

IX These considerations perhaps explain why the openly pagan letters are confined to Bks i and ii. By the time the letters were published, Praetextatus, Titianus, Flavianus, and Symmachus himself were all safely dead. None of them were going to be compromised. But many of the correspondents represented in Bks iii–vii were younger men, still alive in the first decade of the fifth century. Most of the correspondents of Symmachus’ later years are likely to have been Christians. There must still have been a few pagans left, although the only explicit allusion to a pagan festival comes in a letter to Helpidius, the friend already mentioned who made additional copies of Symmachus’ letters to him. Symmachus closes a letter of 395 (the year after the Frigidus!) with an invitation: It remains only to invite you to come and enhance by your presence the celebration of the [coming] festival [the Quinquatrus, on March 19]. I’m sure (nempe) you remember the festival of Minerva from our schooldays. We usually recall school holidays even when we get older. For that day we are preparing a meal of small field vegetables for you, because luxury offends a frugal goddess (v.85.3).

The reference to schooldays might suggest a contemporary, but Helpidius seems to have been a much younger man, holding what would normally be the junior post of governor of Campania as late as 395. He was presumably a pagan, but the light tone of the letter does not suggest (although it does not exclude) active involvement in cult. Whether or not Symmachus had reason to believe that Helpidius didn’t mind being publicly “outed” in this way, this is the only reference to a pagan festival in Bks iii–vii. In Bk viii–ix, on the other hand, there are three emphatically pagan letters, notably two dealing with sexual misconduct by a Vestal virgin and insisting on the traditional punishment. Like so many letters in Bk ix, neither

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carries the name of an addressee,145 but they do name both the Vestal and her lover, Primigenia and Maximus (ix. 147 and 148). It is hard to believe that Memmius would have been willing to draw attention to his father’s involvement in such archaic barbarity. Then there is the letter to another Vestal rumored to be planning to retire early (Vestals were expected to serve for a term of thirty years), urging her to reconsider (ix.108). The fact that ix.147–8 expect the city prefect to execute the recommended sentence suggests (although hardly proves) an early date,146 but the willingness of a Vestal to abandon her vows might be thought to imply a late date. It is surely most unlikely that Symmachus intended ix.108 to be made public. Ambrose had great fun with the idea that pagans could only find six virgins – and then had to pay them!147 Christians would have found the idea of a virgin retiring hilarious. This seems to me an additional argument against the assumption that Bks viii–ix were included in Memmius’ edition. Yet Symmachus undoubtedly sent these letters, even if he marked them for exclusion from his published correspondence. While insisting that paganism continued in strength down to the 430s if not later, the pagan reaction school is curiously silent about how, when, and why the pagan families who supposedly promoted it so enthusiastically quietly emerged as uncontroversially Christian in the second half of the fifth century.The Symmachi are a prime example. Symmachus cos. 391 was a loyal and active pagan who did his best for the old cults in 382 and 384. When it became obvious that his efforts were unsuccessful, he seems to have quietly withdrawn from the fray. He took no part in the rebellion of Eugenius. In consequence, when the rebellion failed, he was not compromised and was able, despite remaining an open and unrepentant pagan, to use his still considerable influence to restore the shattered career of his son-in-law. The publication of Symmachus’ correspondence was a complex phenomenon. Symmachus himself was not the pompous dullard he used to be portrayed, but (as Roda and Matthews were the first to appreciate)148 an experienced and shrewd observer and manipulator of the political scene. By 400, when his eighteen-year-old son, Memmius, was about to enter public life as praetor, he was certainly perceptive enough to have learned two lessons: in the current climate the old cults were never going to be restored; and, if Memmius pursued such an agenda, he was unlikely to enjoy the

145

Nothing should be made of this because the entire sequence ix.67–150 lacks addressee names. Chastagnol, La préfecture urbaine, e 97, 141. 147 Cameron, Last Pagans, 41. 148 Roda, “Simmaco nel gioco politico”; Matthews, “The Letters of Symmachus.” 146

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same sort of public career as his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.149 Symmachus himself did not need to make any compromises with the new status quo. Having risen to the prefecture of Rome and the ordinary consulship, he had no further expectations. Not only did he die a pagan, he obviously wished to make clear to posterity that he took his duties as a pontifex seriously to the last. Indeed, because no fewer than six of the eight “pontifical” letters to Praetextatus and the elder Flavian refer to meetings Symmachus attended but they missed, it looks as if they were carefully selected to present Symmachus himself as the last pagan pontifex to take his pontifical duties seriously, in effect the last real pagan of Rome.150 At the same time, he also wished to make clear to the now Christian establishment that the Symmachi were not the intransigent pagans the altar of Victory affair might suggest. Memmius was likely to have to make the compromises Symmachus himself died in time to avoid.

X So were Symmachus and his contemporaries free to say what they liked in their letters? Absolutely not. The most intriguing illustration of Symmachus’ own awareness of the restrictions under which he and his peers wrote comes in Ep. ii.35 to the elder Flavian. He was irritated to discover that one of his copyists had added titles of rank to the headings of his letters (that is to say Symmachus v. c. Flaviano v. c. and the like), reminding him that in scribendo formam antiquitatis amplector. But (he adds) the blunder did at least give him something different to write about instead of the usual mutual compliments: Quousque enim dandae ac reddendae salutationis verba blaterabimus, cum alia stilo materia non suppetat? At olim parentes etiam patriae negotia, quae nunc angusta vel nulla sunt, in familiares paginas conferebant. Id quia versis in otium rebus omisimus, captanda sunt nobis plerumque intemptata scribendi semina, quae fastidium tergeant generalium litterarum. How long are we going to go on babbling words of salutation back and forth, since there is no other subject matter for our pens? In the old days our ancestors (parentes) used to discuss even affairs of state in their private letters, material (materia) that is now limited (angusta) or non-existent. Since we have lost this possibility now that we live in peaceful times, we must look out for new themes for our writing, that will wipe away the tedium of bland epistles. 149 150

On which see Cameron, “The Antiquity of the Symmachi.” Ep. i.46, 49 and 51; ii.34, 36, 59; Cameron, Last Pagans, 163–4 and 167–8.

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The familiares paginae of our parentes that once discussed patriae negotia are obviously Cicero’s letters. Matthews quotes the first two sentences as a revealing acknowledgment by Symmachus himself of the triviality of much of what he writes.151 But the key sentence is the third. The Roman world at peace in 385! In Symmachus’ day, “other subject matter” was not just “unavailable” (non suppetat); it was strictly off limits. Affairs of state were not really “limited or non-existent.” The problems the Roman state faced were as critical as ever, but best left to the emperor, and certainly not to be discussed in private letters. What Symmachus meant is illustrated by two letters of Pliny. Sabinus had asked Pliny (anticipating a favorite Symmachan request) for longer and more frequent letters. Flattering, replies Pliny, but you are busy and I too have been distracted recently (ep. ix.2.2–3): Besides, I lacked subject-matter (materia) for writing more.You want me to follow Cicero’s example, but my position is very different from his. He was not only richly gifted but was supplied with a wealth of varied and important topics to suit his abilities. You know without my telling the narrow limits (angustis terminis) confining me.

Pliny implies that the “narrow limits” Sabinus will appreciate without being told are twofold: his own lack of ability (compared with Cicero) and the lack of suitable subject matter. Of course they both knew perfectly well that the “varied and important topics” Cicero wrote to his friends about were now off limits. The shared theme, shared reference to Cicero’s letters, and shared use of the terms materia and angustus strongly suggest that Symmachus had Pliny in mind.152 But Plinian influence is put beyond doubt by an earlier letter, in which, after discussing a recent change in balloting procedure, Pliny continues (iii.20.10–12): I have told you this primarily to give you some news (ut aliquid novi scriberem), and then to be able to talk a little about political matters (de re publica), a subject (materia) for which there are now fewer opportunities than in the old days, so none must be missed. Besides, how long are we going to go on repeating those commonplace greetings (quousque illa vulgaria) “How are you,” “I hope you are well”? Our letters ought to contain something which is not trivial or mean or restricted to personal affairs. Nowadays everything depends on the will of one man who has taken upon himself for the general good all our cares and responsibilities.

151 152

Matthews, “The Letters of Symmachus,” 62. So Garzya, “L’epistolografia letteraria tardoantica,” 143; for Symmachus’s knowledge of Pliny, Kelly, “Pliny and Symmachus.”

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Here Pliny spells out the “narrow limits” taken for granted in the letter to Sabinus: affairs of state are now the province of the emperor alone. The fact that both Pliny and Symmachus use an incredulous quousque precisely of the hackneyed formulas of salutation to which private correspondence is now reduced clinches the case. Note too that a few words before the quousque sentence, Symmachus expresses his pleasure to have “something new” (novi aliquid) to write about, picking up Pliny’s ut aliquid novi scriberem, a few words before his quousque sentence. And the fact that Symmachus cites peace (versis ad otium rebus) as a damper on exciting subject matter (seven years after the still unavenged defeat of Adrianople!) suggests that he was thinking of Tacitus too. The historians of old wrote of ingentia ... bella, expugnationes urbium, fusos captosque reges, while “mine is an inglorious labour in a narrow field; an age of unbroken (or half-heartedly challenged) peace” (nobis in arto et inglorius labor; immota quippe aut modice lacessita pax).153 Tacitus’ in arto is the same metaphor as Pliny and Symmachus’ angustus. Symmachus was not just making a casual comment of his own, but self-consciously setting himself in the Plinian tradition, alluding to the acknowledged limitations on the topics permitted in private correspondence. Flavian, a historian (of sorts) himself, was surely expected to pick up the Plinian allusion. Pliny’s letters treat such a variety of topics that it is easy to overlook his failure to mention most of the dramatic public events of the time when he was writing.154 But every reader of Symmachus has noticed his “apparent lack of response to the most pressing political events of his day,”155 identified by earlier critics as a personal failing, a reflection of the blinkered obsession of a dull man with the trivial rituals of an aristocratic lifestyle. There is no doubt some truth in this. It is not only affairs of state that are missing from Symmachus’ letters, but most of the other topics that make Pliny’s letters so rewarding.156 For example, Symmachus has been credited with spearheading a pagan literary revival, although there is little trace in his letters of the literary dimension so conspicuous in Pliny’s correspondence. He never mentions such prominent figures as Ammianus or Claudian, 153

154 155

156

Ann. iv.32. For Symmachus’s knowledge of Tacitus, see Kroll, De Q.  Aurelii Symmachi studiis, 95–7. Gibson and Morello, Reading the Letters of Pliny, chapter 1, esp. 24–5. Matthews, “The Letters of Symmachus,” 59; Croke, ‘‘The Editing of Symmachus’ Letters,” 544, claimed that “political affairs were far from Symmachus’ mind in 392–94” while preparing for Memmius’s praetorian games. For a convenient catalog of the contents of Bks i–ix, see Gibson and Morello, Reading the Letters of Pliny, 274–92.

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even though he must have attended one or two of Claudian’s consular panegyrics.157 But his silences about affairs of state are undoubtedly deliberate. Note his admission (again to Flavian, writing of his letters) that “my prudence (cautio) is such that I have nothing to fear” (Ep. ii.12.2). In my recent book I  argued that the lack of any reference to the altar of Victory affair in Symmachus’ letters implied that, despite the apparent passion of his famous third Relatio, this was not an issue he personally felt strongly about.158 On reflection I now incline to a different explanation of what, although little noted, must seem a surprising silence. It was one thing to make a formal submission to court on an issue many senators felt strongly about. The prefect of Rome was the official representative of the senate, and it was Symmachus’ duty, as prefect, to represent their interests at court.159 But discussing the issue in letters to individuals might have been held to constitute private opposition to what was after all current imperial policy. I would now suggest that it was neither lack of interest nor fear of revealing himself a pagan that was responsible for his failure to mention the subject in his letters, but his customary prudence about alluding to contentious contemporary issues. The letters to Praetextatus, Titianus, and the elder Flavian surely confirm the validity of this distinction. By the fifth century sacrifice was banned and the last pontiffs either dead or elderly anachronisms.160 Whatever influence they had once exerted was long gone. Few Christians were likely to be bothered if the few remaining Vestals erected a statue to Praetextatus. Like most aristocrats, Symmachus and the Nicomachi Flaviani had enemies as well as friends. Indeed, Matthews has identified “a sort of ‘language of enmity’ based on words such as invidia, inprobi, aemuli, insidiae, mendacia” to balance the language of friendship on which this study has focused.161 Yet even so, well aware that any letter he wrote was likely to find unintended and not always friendly readers, as late as the 390s Symmachus still felt free to write openly to Flavian about meetings of the pontifical college. We also have a number of letters he wrote Flavian while he was holding high office at court. But even with his oldest friend he never discusses politics. Ratti’s claim that Symmachus practiced self-censorship in his correspondence is justified. But paganism was not high on the list of subjects to avoid. Paradoxically, the doings of the pontifical college were a “safe” subject in 157

For more detail on this, see Cameron, Last Pagans, chapter 10, esp. 360–6. Cameron, Last Pagans, 38–9. 159 Chastagnol, La préfecture urbainee, chapter 3. 160 See Cameron, Last Pagans, 168–72. 161 Matthews, “Symmachus and his Enemies.” 158

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a way that current politics were not. It was no secret that Symmachus and Flavian were pagan priests, and so long as they did not attack Christianity, no one minded if they badmouthed Vestal virgins or reproached each other for missing their silly pontifical meetings. Nor was this discretion confined to Symmachus’ letters. If we read them for clues about the sort of letters his correspondents wrote him, there is no indication that those of his peers, Christian and pagan alike, differed significantly from his in this respect. They protested about the shortness of his letters, kept asking him for more, and complained about his silence. Unless we are to suppose that he systematically ignored their comments on current affairs, we are surely obliged to conclude that they too avoided such topics in their letters. It was not just Symmachus, and certainly not just pagans, who took care to keep their correspondence within angusti termini. The assumption that, after the Frigidus, pagans were condemned to silence like the oracles of old simply does not fit the evidence. As it happens, despite his unrepentant paganism, “Symmachus’ influence was stronger than ever in the aftermath of Eugenius’ usurpation and his patronage was in high demand.”162 A high proportion of the post-Frigidus letters are addressed to the new men appointed by the effective ruler of the West, the generalissimo Stilicho, men not only likely to be Christians, but also members of the government of the day.163 Symmachus corresponded regularly with Stilicho himself, addressing him with considerable familiarity. Indeed, he pressured Stilicho in person for a variety of exemptions from the usual restrictions on praetorian games (iv.7 and 8). Especially during the Gildonic crisis Stilicho badly needed the support of the Roman senate, and for all his paganism Symmachus was one of the powerbrokers he was anxious to conciliate.164 Ecclesiastics might thunder against paganism in all its forms, but in the real world government turned to those with influence, whatever their religious beliefs.165

Bibliography Amato, E. ed., Rose di Gaza:  Gli scritti retorico-sofisti e le Epistole di Procopio di Gaza (Alessandria, 2010). Barrow, R. H. Prefect and Emperor: The Relationes of Symmachus (Oxford, 1973). Beltran Rizo, E. “La correspondencia entre Q. Aurelio Símaco y los tres hermanos de Tréveris.” Pyrenae 33/34 (2002/3): 281–301. 162 163 164 165

Sogno, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 83; Matthews, Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court, t 264–78. Bonney, “A New Friend for Symmachus?” Marcone, “Simmaco e Stilicone.” I am grateful for comments by Roy Gibson, Gavin Kelly, Rita Lizzi and Peter White.

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Bidez, I. and E. Cumont, eds. Iuliani Epistulae et Leges (Paris, 1922). Bonney, Robert. “A New Friend for Symmachus?” Historia 24 (1975): 357–74. Bradbury, S. Selected Letters of Libanius (Liverpool, 2004). Brown, P. The World of Late Antiquity (London, 1971). Bruggisser, P. “Libanios, Symmaque et son père Avianius.” Ancient Society 21 (1990): 17–31. Symmaque, ou le rituel épistolaire de l’amitié littéraire (Fribourg, 1993). Cabouret, B.“La correspondance fait-elle peur au pouvoir?” in R. Delmaire, J. Desmulliez, and P.-L. Gatier, eds., Correspondances:  Documents pour l’histoire de l’antiquité tardive (Lyon, 2009), 259–79. Cain, A. The Letters of Jerome: Asceticism, Biblical Exegesis, and the Construction of Christian Authority in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 2009). Callu, J.-P. Symmaque. Lettres i (Paris, 1972). Cameron, A. “The Antiquity of the Symmachi.” Historia 48 (1999): 477–505. The Last Pagans of Rome (Oxford, 2011). “Anician Myths.” JRS 102 (2012): 133–71. Cameron, A. and D. Schauer, “The Last Consul:  Basilius and his Diptych. Appendix: Senatorial Seats in the Flavian Amphitheatre.” JRS 72 (1982): 144–5. Canellis, A. “La lettre selon saint Jérome. L’épistolarité de la correspondance hiéronymienne,” in L. Nadjo and E. Gavoile, eds., Epistulae Antiquae II (Louvain/Paris, 2002), 311–32. Cecconi, G. A. Commento storico al libro II dell’epistolario di Q. Aurelio Simmaco (Pisa, 2002). Champlin, E. “The Epitaph of Naucellius.” ZPE 49 (1982): 184. Chastagnol, A. La préfecture urbaine à Rome sous le Bas-Empire (Paris, 1960). Coleman, K. Statius Silvae IV (Oxford, 1988). “Bureaucratic Language in the Correspondence between Pliny and Trajan.” TAPA 142 (2012): 189–238. Constable, G. Letters and Letter Collections (Turnhout, 1976). Conybeare, C. Paulinus Noster:  Self and Symbol in the Letters of Paulinus of Nola (Oxford, 2008). Cribiore, R. Libanius the Sophist: Rhetoric, Reality, and Religion in the Fourth Century (Ithaca, New York, 2013). Croke, B. “The Editing of Symmachus’ Letters to Eugenius and Arbogast.” Latomus 35 (1976): 535–49. Darrouzès, J. Épistoliers byzantins du Xe siècle (Paris, 1960). Delmaire, R. “Les lettres d’exil de Jean Chrysostome: Études de chronologie et de prosopographie.” Rech. Augustiniennes 25 (1991): 71–180. Delmaire, R., J. Desmulliez, and P.-L. Gatier, eds., Correspondances: Documents pour l’histoire de l’antiquité tardive (Lyon, 2009). Dennis, G. T. “Gregory of Nazianzus and the Byzantine Letter,” in T. Halton and J. P. Williman, eds., Diakonia: Studies in Honor of Robert T. Meyer (Washington, 1986): 3–13. Dill, S. Roman Society in the Last Century of the Western Empire (London, 18992). Ebbeler, J. Disciplining Christians:  Correction and Community in Augustine’s Letters (Oxford, 2012). Gallay, P. Saint Grégoire de Naziance: Correspondance I (Paris, 1964). Garzya, A. L’epistolografia letteraria tardoantica,” in A. Garzya, Il mandarino e il quotidiano (Naples, 1983): 115–48. Garzya, A. and D. Roques, eds., Synésios de Cyrène, II–III (Paris, 2000).

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Gibson, R. “On the Nature of Ancient Letter Collections.” JRS 102 (2012): 56–78. Gibson, R. and R. Morello. Reading the Letters of Pliny the Younger (Cambridge, 2012). Gorce, D. Les voyages, l’hospitalité et le port des lettres dans le monde chrétien des ive et ve siècles (Paris, 1925). Halm, C. Rhetores Latini Minores (Leipzig, 1863). Haveling, G. Studies on Symmachus’ Language and Style (Göteborg, 1988). Hunger, H. Die hochsprachliche profane Literatur der Byzantiner I (Munich, 1978). Jenkins, R. J. H. and L. G. Westerink, eds., Nicholas I, Patriarch of Constantinople: Letters (Washington, 1973). Karlsson, G. Idéologie et cérémonial dans l’épistolographie byzantine (Uppsala, 19622). Karpozilos, A. The Letters of Ioannes Mauropous Metropolitan of Euchaita (Thessalonica, 1990). Kelly, G. “Pliny and Symmachus,” in B. J. Gibson and R. D. Rees, eds., Pliny in Late Antiquity, Arethusa 46 (2013). “The First Book of Symmachus’ Correspondence as a Separate Collection,” in P. F. Moretti, R.  Ricci, and C.  Rorre, eds.) Culture and Literature in Late Antiquity (Brepols, Turnhout), forthcoming. Kohns, H. P. Versorgungskrisen und Hungerrevolten im spätantiken Rom (Bonn, 1961). Kroll, W. De Q. Aurelii Symmachi studiis graecis et latinis (Breslau, 1891). Liebeschuetz, J. H.  W. G. Antioch:  City and Imperial Administration in the Later Roman Empire (Oxford, 1972). Lizzi Testa, R. “Un’epistola speciale: il commonitorium,” in Franca E. Consolino, ed., Forme letterarie nella produzione latina di IV-VI secolo (Roma, 2003), 53–89. Lomanto, V., N. Marinone, and A. Zampolli, eds. Concordantiae in Q.  Aurelii Symmachi Opera (Hildesheim, 1983). Malherbe, A. J. Ancient Epistolary Theorists (Atlanta, 1988). Malosse, P.-L. Lettres pour toutes circonstances: Les traités épistolaires du Pseudo-Libanios et du Pseudo-Démétrios de Phalère (Paris, 2004). Marcone, A. “Simmaco e Stilicone,” in F. Paschoud, ed., Colloque genevois sur Symmaque (Paris 1986), 145–62. Commento al libro IV dell’epistolario di Q. Aurelio Simmaco (Pisa, 1987). Di tarda antichità: Scritti scelti (Florence, 2008). Massa Positano, L., ed., Enea di Gaza. Epistole (Naples, 1962). Mathisen, R. W. Ruricius of Limoges and Friends (Liverpool, 1999). Matthews, J. F.“The Letters of Symmachus,” in J.W. Binns, ed., Latin Literature of the Fourth Century (London, 1974): 58–99. “Symmachus and his Enemies,” in F.  Paschoud, ed., Colloque genevois sur Symmaque (Paris 1986), 163–75. Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court AD 364–4252 (Oxford 1990). McGeachy, J. A. Q. Aurelius Symmachus and the Senatorial Aristocracy of the West (Chicago, 1942). Morello, R. “Pliny and the Art of Saying Nothing.” Arethusa 36 (2003): 187–209. Mratschek, S. Der Briefwechsel des Paulinus von Nola: Kommunikation und soziale Kontakte zwischen christliche Intellektuellen (Göttingen, 2002). Mullett, M. “The Classical Tradition in the Byzantine Letter,” in M. Mullett and R. Scott, eds., Byzantium and the Classical Tradition (Birmingham, 1981): 75–93. Theophylact of Ochrid: Reading the Letters of a Byzantine Archbishop (Ashgate, 1997). Letters, Literacy and Literature in Byzantium (Ashgate, 2007).

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Norman, A. F. Libanius: Autobiography and Selected Letters i (Cambridge, MA, 1992). O’Donnell, J. J. Cassiodorus (Berkeley, 1979). Orlandi, S. Epigrafia anfiteatrale dell’Occidente Romano VI. Roma. Anfiteatri e strutture annesse con una nuova edizione e commento delle iscrizioni del Colosseo (Rome, 2004). Ratti, S. Antiquus Error: les ultimes feux de la résistance païenne (Turnhout, 2010). Polémiques entre païens et chrétiens (Paris, 2012). Review of Delmaire, Desmulliez, Gatier, eds., Correspondances, Latomus 71 (2012): 554. Roda, S. “Simmaco nel gioco politico del suo tempo.” Studia et Documenta Historiae et Iuris 39 (1973): 53–114. Commento storico al libro ix dell’epistolario di Q. Aurelio Simmaco (Pisa, 1981). Ruggini, L. Economia e società nell’Italia Annonaria (Milan, 1961). Salzman, M. R. “Ambrose and the Usurpation of Arbogastes and Eugenius: Reflections on Pagan-Christian Conflict Narratives.” Journal of Early Christian Studies 18 (2010): 191–223. Salzman, M. R. and M. Roberts, eds. The Letters of Symmachus Book 1 (Atlanta, 2011). Sandwell, I. Religious Identity in Late Antiquity:  Greeks, Jews and Christians in Antioch (Cambridge, 2007). Seeck, O. Q. Aurelii Symmachi Opera quae supersunt, in MGH AA 6, 2 (Berlin, 1883). Shanzer D. and I. Wood, eds. Avitus of Vienne: Letters and Selected Prose (Liverpool, 2002). Sherwin-White, A. N. The Letters of Pliny (Oxford, 1966). Sogno, C. Q. Aurelius Symmachus: A Political Biography (Ann Arbor, 2006). Speyer, W. Naucellius und sein Kreis (Munich, 1959). Thraede, K. Grundzüge griechisch-römischer Brieftopik (München, 1970). Vidman, L. Étude sur la correspondance de Pline le Jeune avec Trajan (Prague, 1960). Wagner, M. M. “A Chapter in the History of Byzantine Epistolography: The Letters of Theodoret of Cyrus.” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 4 (1948): 119–81. White, P. “The Presentation and Dedication of the Silvae and the Epigrams.” JRS 64 (1974): 40–61. Cicero in Letters: Epistolary Relations of the Late Republic (Oxford, 2010). Wistrand, E. “Textkritisches und interpretatorisches zu Symmachus,” Opera Selecta (Stockholm, 1972). Zelzer, M. Sancti Ambrosii Opera x. 2 (Wien, 1990).

Part II

The Construction of New Religious Identities 

4

CHRISTIANS AND THE INVENTION OF PAGANISM IN THE LATE ROMAN EMPIRE Thomas Jürgasch

Introduction Generally, accounts of the relations between Christians and pagans in the late ancient Roman Empire start from an implicit assumption. According to this assumption the Christians and pagans formed two distinct groups, which, although interacting with each other in various ways, existed – so to speak – as two separate and mutually independent “entities.”1 These “entities,” so it appears, had their own characteristic features, rituals, and beliefs, or – to put it more generally – their respective ways of interpreting and dealing with the world. All of these elements formed what we nowadays might call the group identities of Christians and pagans. And it is, among other things, these identities, which suggest that in talking about Christians and pagans we are dealing with two distinct groups that as such existed in the “real world.” Starting from this hypothesis, investigations of the two groups and their relations usually take account of issues such as whether these relations were rather hostile or friendly, or how the Christians related to the pagan Roman Empire, and so on. Certainly, such an approach is apparently quite reasonable and useful with regard to many contexts and investigations pertaining to the relations between Christians and pagans. And yet, considered from a particular point of view, this way of looking at the subject proves rather questionable. To show why this is the case, I  will develop an argument along the following lines: There is an important sense in which Christians and pagans did depend on each other and in which they cannot be considered as two discrete and separate groups. As shall become evident, this dependence, or rather “interdependence,” lies on a conceptual level. That is to say that the 1

I would like to thank Professor Michele R. Salzman for her helpful comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this chapter.

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concepts of what it meant to be pagan and of what it meant to be Christian in the late ancient Roman Empire can only be understood in relation to each other.2 To expound more clearly what this conceptual interdependence consists in and which consequences arise from this idea, I will make a second point closely related to the first one. It concerns the much-discussed question of why, in the fourth century, Christian authors in the western part of the empire actually started using the term “pagan,” applying it in the sense of “non-Christian.” I show that the adoption of this term is very much linked to the Christians’ quest for identity, which had become an important issue in the fourth century, especially because, during that time, the Christians’ social and political situation in the Roman Empire changed drastically. So far, this facet of the Christian adoption of the term paganus has hardly been considered in the context of scholarly debates.3 I will then examine in what sense we can conceive of paganism as a Christian invention. In the end, I consider the implications of my investigation for the accounts of the relations between Christians and pagans in late antiquity. If, as I claim, pagans are to be considered as a Christian invention, in what sense did they exist? To begin, I will discuss how the term paganus was used in its pre-Christian and extra-Christian contexts and thus set the background on which I plan to investigate the Christian adoption of this term. The term paganus had been used long before the Christians started applying it. Its meaning is probably originally derived from pagus,4 which is very often translated as referring to “a country district or community.”5 According to various sources, etymologically considered, pagus stems from the Indo-European verbal root *pak or *pag, which can be taken to mean “to fasten” or “to make fast or firm.”6 Hence, the term pagus is related to 2

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5 6

In this context, I will mainly focus on the fourth century. At the same time, some aspects of the ideas developed here can also be applied to the concepts of “pagan” and “Christian” in late antiquity in general. An exception is Hedrick, History and Silencee, 52–3. Here, Hedrick briefly points out some important aspects of the conceptual interdependence of Christians and pagans which he, too, relates to the formation of their identities in late antiquity. Hedrick confines himself, however, to noting these issues without further spelling out the details of this conceptual interdependence and its consequences for the identity-forming process Christians and pagans underwent in late antiquity. Hedrick’s approach is presented and briefly discussed in Salzman, “Pagans and Christians,” 188–9. As to the scholarly debates mentioned earlier, I make further remarks later in this chapter. For a helpful overview on these debates, see also Salzman, “Pagans and Christians,” 186–9. Cf. Thesaurus Linguae Latinaee 10,1,78; see also Colpe, “Die Ausbildung des Heidenbegriffs,” 73–4. Cf. Glare, ed., Oxford Latin Dictionary, s.v. pagus, 1413. Cf. Pokorny, Indogermanisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch, 787–8; see also De Vaan, Etymological Dictionary, 442–3; Lewis and Short, eds., A Latin Dictionary, 1290.

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words like pangere (“to insert firmly”, “to fix”) or pax, both of which can also be traced back to *pag or *pak.7 Taking up this etymological analysis, we could also translate pagus in a more general sense as “a place or region with fixed boundaries.”8 A pagus, then, is a place or region that has been “fastened” or “made firm” inasmuch as it has fixed boundaries, which define the territory of the place or the region called pagus. Important for the present argument is that the way a pagus is defined necessarily implies a relation to some other region or place – that is, a place that the pagus is distinguished from through its boundaries. Consequently, we can take the term pagus as denoting a relational concept that as such always and necessarily refers to something else. This view is supported by various sources, which show that pagus is normally used in just such a relational way. Thus, the basic meaning of pagus that we can, for example, find in the Oxford Latin Dictionary is “a country district or community” that as such is defined in opposition to a city or town, or a town-community. Furthermore, the term pagus was used to distinguish different smaller regions or cantons within bigger polities – a famous example of this usage can be found in Caesar’s Commentarii de Bello Gallico 1,12,4. There he writes:  “nam omnis civitas Helvetia in quattuor pagos divisa est.” What these different usages of pagus have in common is that they show how the pagus is a place that, because it has fixed boundaries, always also refers to another place that it is distinguished from.9 Hence, pagus is to be taken as a relational concept. This relational aspect of the term pagus is also of some importance when it comes to gaining a better understanding of its inhabitants – the pagani. In a certain way the pagani inherited the relational character of pagus. Being those “belonging to or associated with a pagus”10 the pagani, too, must be considered in relation to something else – or, to be more precise, to someone else. Several authors, such as Carsten Colpe and Alan Cameron, have already pointed this out. Following Christine Mohrmann, Colpe contends that what paganus actually means or refers to has to be considered in relation to those whom the paganus is opposed to in a particular context  – that is to his respective counterpart or antonym.11 This counterpart could, for example, 7

8 9 10 11

Cf. Thesaurus Linguae Latinaee 10,1,92; De Vaan, Etymological Dictionary, 442–3; Galsterer, “Pagus,” 146; Glare, ed., Oxford Latin Dictionary, s.v. pagus, 1413. Cf. Lewis and Short, eds., A Latin Dictionary, 1290; Galsterer, “Pagus,” 145–6. See also the examples given in Galsterer, “Pagus,” 145–6. Cf. the entry for paganus in Glare, ed., Oxford Latin Dictionary, 1282. Cf. Colpe, “Die Ausbildung des Heidenbegriffs,” 73–4; see also Cameron, The Last Pagans of Romee, 22–4, here 22: “The most conspicuous feature of paganus is that, in all its meanings, it takes its precise color from an antonym.”

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be the soldier who was garrisoned in the pagus and who lived there without really being a member or part of it. As a result, in this context, paganus can be taken to mean “civilian,” that is a non-soldier.12 However, as Carsten Colpe explains, many other people also lived in the pagus who were not a part or a member of it. Hence, the paganus could also be understood in relation to these other counterparts of his – for example, to the administrative officers. That, Colpe claims, would make him something like a commoner, a non-expert, or a layman – as opposed to the administrative officer, who was considered an expert and specialist.13 As can be discovered in almost any dictionary, the primary and most common meaning given for paganus is derived from his being opposed to those people living in towns or cities. Consequently, paganus is usually taken to mean “countryman” – just as pagus is usually translated as “country district or community.”14 Taking into account all these  – and further  – different meanings of paganus,15 we can observe that despite the differences between them, they also display a common feature: The meaning of paganus depended on the respective opposite, the antonym the paganus was distinguished from in a particular context. To put this point more generally, a paganus was someone who was a stranger or an alien with regard to a particular group. Consequently, Peter Brown writes: “In classical Latin the term referred to a nonparticipant, one excluded from a more professional or more distinguished group.”16 Hence, a paganus could be the counterpart of the soldier and therefore a civilian; he could be the counterpart of the townspeople and thus a countryman, and so forth. And what is more, in the course of history he was to become the counterpart to, and the nonparticipant of a group that itself for a long time was considered strange and alien in the Roman Empire – the Christians. For different reasons, the fact that Christians in the western part of the empire started to use the term paganus to signify non-Christians might strike us as rather odd. First of all, paganus is not a biblical term in the sense that it does not appear in the Latin Bible translations, the Itala or the Vulgata. These would normally use gentes or gentiles.17 The fact that Christians used a nonbiblical term to denote non-Christians is quite remarkable indeed. For one would expect that the issue of distinguishing the Christians from other religious communities would be a rather high-priority issue for Christian 12 13 14 15 16 17

Cf. Glare, ed., Oxford Latin Dictionary, s.v. paganus, 1282. Cf. Colpe, “Die Ausbildung des Heidenbegriffs,” 74. Cf. Glare, ed., Oxford Latin Dictionary, s.v. paganus, 1282. See the Thesaurus Linguae Latinaee 10,1,78–84. Brown, “Pagan,” 625. Cf. Colpe, “Die Ausbildung des Heidenbegriffs,” 78.

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authors and theologians. This is even more astonishing because with paganus” a term was chosen that in its non- and pre-Christian contexts was devoid of any religious meaning.18 As we have seen, it was rather used to signify particular members of particular social groups, but not of religious ones. Thus, one could wonder why the Christians started using the term at all in this specific and unprecedented way. Another question arising in this context is why the adoption of the term occurred so late. The first sources showing a Christian usage of paganus denoting non-Christians date from the fourth century only.19 From that time onward, however, there is a multitude of historical evidence including epitaphs, theological treatises, and official documents such as the Codex Theodosianus that refer to pagani as non-Christians.20 All of these usages clearly indicate that, in the fourth century, Christians started using the term to also denote non-Christians. Before that, Christian authors had used paganus, too, but in the same way as non-Christians did, that is, in reference to country people, civilians, and so forth. Correspondingly, in the fourth century, the 18

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Brown, “Pagan,” 625, claims that paganus was “a word of Latin slang originally devoid of religious meaning.” Differently from Brown, Bickel, “paganii,” 1–47 argues that the terms pagus and paganus were not at all devoid of religious meaning. Rather, Bickel assumes that the terms did have religious connotations and that the religious aspect of their meanings was even the primary one. The starting point of Bickel’s argumentation can be found in Theodor Mommsen’s account of the pagii of the city of Rome in Römisches Staatsrecht III, 116–20. Mommsen points out: “die Zweckbestimmung des Pagus [ist] zunächst eine sacrale,” 117, cited in Bickel, “paganii,” 28, and, for example, also in Chuvin, “Sur l’origine de l’equitation paganus = païens,” 13. It might certainly hold true that the Roman paganii did also form a religious and sacral community.Yet this does not necessarily entail that the terms pagus and paganus were therefore used in a religious sense. Although, for example, we could imagine all inhabitants of the planet Mars, “the Martians,” to be the members of a particular religious community, let us say the worshippers of “Mars Optimus Maximus,” the term Martian would still not necessarily have to be understood as having a religious meaning. And indeed, the passages Bickel adduces to support his thesis do not show such a decidedly religious usage of the terms in question. Bickel himself seems to sense the weakness of his argumentation as he states that “pagus” and “paganus” had a “sakraler Nebensinn” while he is not speaking of a “sakraler Wortsinn” (my italics). Chuvin adopted Bickel’s argumentation in his article quoted earlier in this chapter. Chuvin does not add further arguments to Bickel’s line of reasoning. Referring to Cic. dom. 74, and to Ps.-Caes. Bell. Alex. 36,4, he does, however, make some interesting points pertaining to the fact that the usages of paganus in the cases quoted do not imply that the meaning of paganus has to be understood in opposition to “townspeople.” Rather, Chuvin states that the passage from the Bellum Alexandrinum demonstrates that “L’opposition est beaucoup moins entre ville et champagne qu’entre habitants du centre et habitants del’ensemble du canton, associés naturellement autour de certains cultes” (cf. “Sur l’origine de l’equitation paganus = païens,” 13). Cf. Mohrmann, “Encore une fois:  paganus,” 112; Colpe, “Die Ausbildung des Heidenbegriffs,” 75. These sources will be discussed in a more detailed way later in this chapter.

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term paganus had, at least in the Christian context, gained another meaning: It was now referring to the counterpart of the Christians and therefore meant “non-Christian.”21 Before delving deeper into the question of who these “non-Christians” actually were, I will examine why Christians started to use the term paganus in their own peculiar way. As has been mentioned before, among researchers the question of why Christians in the western part of the late ancient Roman Empire adopted the term paganus has been the subject of controversial discussions. Basically, three different theories have been put forward in this context. We can label them as the miles Christianus vs. paganus argumentation, the town vs. country argumentation, and the outsider argumentation.22 In the course of various investigations, many arguments have been brought forward in favor and against every single one of these argumentations. Because it would be beyond the scope of this chapter to assess all of these points in detail, I will restrict myself to adding a few general remarks on this controversy.23 In this context, I will also consider some aspects of the adoption of paganus that, as far as I can see, have not been taken into account yet in the scholarly debates. To my mind, a combination of these arguments provides the most compelling explanation. Thus, I  would agree with Christine Mohrmann’s suggestion that the Christians did indeed consider the non-Christians as outsiders or nonparticipants of their own group and that the usage of the term paganus reflected their attitude toward the non-Christians. At the same time, however, the other meanings associated with the term certainly also played an important role when it came to specifying in what sense the outsiders were actually different. So, while Mohrmann’s proposition hints on a formal aspect of the usage of the term, the other two lines of argumentation speak of contents suitable for fleshing out the definition of what it meant to be an outsider from a Christian point of view. Hence, from a Christian 21

22

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Cf. Hedrick, History and Silencee, 52–3:  “So the name ‘pagan’ and the diatribes of the Christians are not to be discarded as ‘biased’ and ‘propagandizing’; they are highly relevant to a knowledge of the character of this group in late antiquity, a substantial part of what it meant to be ‘not a Christian.’” For detailed descriptions of these theories and delineations of the arguments see Opelt, “Griechische und lateinische Bezeichnungen der Nichtchristen,” 1–22; see also Cameron, The Last Pagans of Romee, 14–25; Colpe, “Die Ausbildung des Heidenbegriffs,” 73–6; the third theory, the one I labelled the outsiderr argumentation, has been made popular by Mohrmann’s article “Encore une fois: paganus.” Some of the basic features of the article’s argumentation have already been delineated. A recent critical evaluation of the different arguments can be found in the passage from Cameron quoted earlier in this chapter, The Last Pagans of Romee, 14–25.

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perspective, the pagans proved outsiders and nonparticipants of their group, precisely by not serving Christ as his milites or by sticking to the old polytheistic cults still popular in the countryside. Which of these meanings of paganus Christians chose in a particular situation to flesh out the definition of the “outsider” certainly depended on the concrete circumstances the author(s) found themselves in. Arguing in this way and taking the aforementioned lines of reasoning together, it seems to me that one gets a much more adequate picture of the Christian adoption of the term paganus than by opting for one single line of argumentation and leaving the other ones out. And yet, even by looking at things in this way, we don’t get the full picture, as important aspects of why Christians started to use the term paganus are still omitted. One of the questions remaining is, for example, why the Christian adoption of the term had not occurred earlier than the fourth century. The reasons for the adoption that we have discussed were at least partially valid before that time, so that one might wonder what happened in the course of the fourth century that brought about this change. One of the key factors for the use of paganus is the change of the social and political situation that especially the fourth century brought about for the Christians in the Roman Empire.24 While facing the most severe prosecutions by the Roman authorities at the beginning of this century under Diocletian, the situation of Christians changed dramatically after 311. Not only did prosecutions cease with Galerius’s Edict of Tolerance, but under Constantine and his successors, Christians enjoyed an unparalleled success. This process, also known as the so-called Constantinian shift, involved great social and political advances and reached an important climax in 380 with the edict Cunctos Populos (Codex Theodosianus XVI, 1,2). As a result, in the course of less than 100 years, a religious group once accused of the “hatred of the human race” (Tacitus, Annales 15,44) acquired the highest status a single religion had ever had in the Roman Empire. In this way the Christians succeeded in making the transition from a persecuted minority to a socially, politically, and religiously well-established group within the empire. Now, although, of course, in many respects this new situation proved highly advantageous and beneficial for the Christians, it also presented them with a serious challenge: the changed social and political circumstances they found themselves in forced the Christians to reconsider important aspects of

24

Cf. Mohrmann, “Encore une fois:  paganus,” 112. For the change in the relations between the empire and the Church cf. Meyendorff, Imperial Unity and Christian Divisions, 5–38; see e also. Salzman, “Pagans and Christians,” 191–4; Mitchell, History of the Later Roman Empire, 225–300; Markus, The End of Ancient Christianity.

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their collective identity and to develop a new self-understanding appropriate to their new situation.25 Pinpointing the central issues of this challenge, Lewis Ayres contends: “At the turn of the fourth century two of the most important issues facing the Christian community were the place of Christianity in the Roman Empire and the nature of the Church as a unified body (both in terms of organization and teaching).”26 In the following paragraph, I will take up Ayres’ point and briefly examine some of the consequences the new bond between the Christians and the Roman state had for the reformation of both the religious and the social identities of the fourth-century Christians. To be sure, I do not claim that with regard to Christian identity we could ever assume a strict separation of its religious and its social aspects. Both of these (and many other) aspects of Christian identity are strongly and essentially connected. And basically, there is no Christian social identity that could be considered as really separated from its religious dimension. Being conscious of this actual inseparability, I will still focus on the two aspects of Christian identity separately from each other because, in this way, I hope to gain a deeper understanding of both. Another comment I would like to add regarding the topic of “Christian identity” is the following one. Although most of the time in this chapter I speak of “Christian identity” in the singular form, I do not want to suggest that there was only one unified Christian identity at any particular time.27 Neither do I want to imply that we can conceive of something like an essentially fixed and immutable Christian identity, lasting throughout the times. Certainly, what we can call “Christian identity” was very different at different times. Accordingly, I will base my investigation on a dynamic concept of identity that takes into account the realities of change and diversity. Taking up this idea, I will subsequently describe some aspects of the dynamic process that took place with regard to Christian identity in the fourth century. The reason I still use the singular form when talking about this process is

25

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Cf. Stenger, Hellenische Identität in der Spätantike, e 21–2; for the topic of Christian identity, see also Lieu, Christian Identity, particularly 11–17; Lieu, Neither Jew nor Greek?; Lieu, Image and Reality; Stuckrad, “‘Christen’ und ‘Nichtchristen’ in der Antike,” 185–7; an overview on different theories about the development of Christian identity in the first centuries is provided by Holmberg, “Understanding the First Hundred Years of Christian Identity,” 2–32; with regard to the notion of “collective identity,” Jan Stenger refers to the following works: Assmann, Das kollektive Gedächtnis; Straub, “Personale und kollektive Identität,” 73–104, here 96–104; and Straub, “Identität,” 277–303. Ayres, “Articulating Identity,” 414. This has already been pointed out as early as 1934 by Bauer in his monograph Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei im ältesten Christentum (2nd ed. 1964).

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that I intend to outline principal aspects of the formation of Christian identity during that time.28 A compelling example of how much the new bond between the Christians and the empire affected the reformation of the Christian religious identity (or identities) is provided by the first ecumenical councils. From Nicaea onward, these councils were convoked by the Roman emperors (and empresses) who had an interest in harmonizing and unifying Christian religious and theological thought. Subsequently, a politically legitimized and intended process of dogmatizing Christian faith started that was aimed at achieving lasting effects on the formation of a unified Christian religious and theological identity.29 This is closely related to the fact that the councils, encouraged and protected by the emperors, claimed the authority to determine the “right belief ” and the Church’s definitive teachings that all of its members were supposed to ascribe to. By shaping the doctrine of the Church in this way and by prescribing binding “articles of faith,” the councils – at least in theory – also provided criteria by which one could be judged as “orthodox” or “heterodox.”30 As a consequence, from the councils’ point of view, only those who subscribed to these statements of belief could be considered as members of the Church. Certainly, this aim of creating a homogeneous Christian community had not been reached to the extent the emperors and the council leaders might have hoped for.31 In contrast to the impression one gets from studying the patristic literature of that time, we probably have to conceive of post-Nicaean Christianity – just as of its pre-Nicaean version – as a rather diverse community, or communities, that were still far away from the ideal of the Church as a “unified body.”32 And yet, the councils’ endeavors to create a unified Christian theological and religious identity should not be underestimated. Although these attempts certainly did not succeed as intended, in 28

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Regarding the different approaches to the topic of Christian identity, see Holmberg, “Understanding the First Hundred Years of Christian Identity,” 5–30. For the relation between the development of Christian belief and doctrine on one hand and the formation of Christian identity in the fourth and fifth centuries on the other hand, see for example Lewis Ayres’ already quoted article, “Articulating Identity.” In fact, as Rowan Williams has shown, it is only from Nicaea onward that it actually made sense to speak of orthodoxy and heterodoxy. Cf. Williams, “Does it Make Sense to Speak of pre-Nicene Orthodoxy?” 1–23. Some important aspects of this topic are also covered in Ayres, “Articulating Identity.” Cf. Mitchell, History of the Later Roman Empiree, 234–8; see also Ayres, “Articulating Identity”; Ayres, Nicaea and Its Legacy. Cf. Mitchell, History of the Later Roman Empire, 234–8. Mitchell’s description of the situation in the fifth century can also be applied to the fourth century. For the reception of the council of Nicaea that was not unanimous at all, see, for example, Ayres, Nicaea and Its Legacy.

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the course of time they still achieved some considerable results with regard to the standardization of Christian doctrine, which itself had an important impact on the formation of some important aspects of Christian identity. As such the councils marked key steps toward the increasing institutionalization of both, the Christian faith and the Christian community itself. Taking into account that the councils originally assembled on the initiative of the emperors who, apparently, sometimes even influenced the councils’ decisions, it becomes evident that to a high degree this process of institutionalization was very much promoted by the Roman state. The social and political changes the fourth century brought about for the Christians did not only have an impact on the formation of their religious and theological identity. The second point Lewis Ayers mentions, that is, the “place of Christianity in the Roman Empire,” was at least of the same significance when it came to the reconsideration of the Christian identity. What was at stake here was not so much the question of whether there was a unified religious or theological identity all Christians could share. Rather, it was the relation between two sorts of Roman citizens that brought about a challenge for Christian self-understanding: the relation between Christian and non-Christian Romans. In the course of the fourth century this relation changed inasmuch as the Christians stepped from the edge of the Roman society right into its center. Now that they were no longer considered enemies, but rather pillars of the state and the society they lived in, the Christians had to rethink their social and political identity with respect to these new circumstances.33 Thus, they had to find out what it actually meant to be a Christian who, at the same time, was a fully fledged and well-established Roman citizen.34 While at the beginning of the fourth century, at least from the viewpoint of the Roman persecutors, being Christian and being Roman were irreconcilable opposites,35 over the course of this century, these terms were becoming more and more synonymous. As a result, the question that the 33

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Cf. Stenger, Hellenische Identität in der Spätantike, e 21–3; see also Hedrick, History and Silence, e 52: “Just so, ‘paganism’ (as everyone agrees) comes into existence in late antiquity, precisely with the rise of Christianity to a position of political dominance. It is a creation of the dialectical opposition of two groups, but it is nonetheless socially real, and any account of the period must consider it.” Obviously, this does not entail the idea that there was only onee form of Christianity or Christian identity that faced this challenge. So, after Nicaea, for example, both a follower of Arius and a follower of the Nicaean party had basically to deal with the same problem of finding their place as a Christian in the Roman Empire. Some of the issues raised by this thesis of the irreconcilability of “being Christian” and “being Roman” will be discussed later in this chapter.

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Christians needed to answer was what it meant to be a Christian Roman. To achieve this aim, they had to define themselves in contrast to those Romans who were not Christians.36 Only in opposition to the non-Christian Romans could the Christian Romans understand what was characteristic for them, how they were different from the non-Christian Romans and, consequently, what their own particular identity consisted in.37 Summing up Judith Lieu’s argumentation in Image and Reality where she discusses the formation of Christian identity in contrast to the Jews, Bengt Holmberg writes:  “Her conclusion was that the image of Jews in these writings was created by the need of Christians to make them into their Other, the counter-image that the Christians need in order to explain and confirm themselves. This action is typical for a group or movement that seeks to make clear to itself, and also to others, who they really are and to legitimize their own (separate) existence.”38 Although Lieu’s argumentation concerns the Christian self-definition in contrast to the Jews and not to the non-Christian Romans, it addresses some principle issues, which are of importance for the present context as well. For, in many ways, these issues also apply to the situation in the fourth century when the Christians had to define themselves in contrast to the non-Christian Romans.39 In this situation, too, the Christians needed an “Other” a “counter-image” they could use “to explain and confirm themselves,” “to make clear to [themselves], and also to others, who they really are and to legitimize their own (separate) existence.” In the context

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This line of interpreting the formation of Christian identity in contrast to certain “Others” or “counterparts” can also be found in several of Judith Lieu’s works. Lieu has examined this process especially with regard to the Christian self-definitions in contrast to the Jews and the Gentiles. Cf. for instance Lieu’s already quoted works Image and Reality; Neither Jew nor Greek?; Christian Identity; a good critical discussion of Lieu’s theses can be found in Holmberg, “Understanding the First Hundred Years of Christian Identity,” 6–10. For this principle of the Christian self-definition in opposition to other groups, see also Bélanger “À la croisée des chemins,” 137–69; interesting aspects of the formation of identity in late ancient times are also discussed in Miles, Constructing Identities in Late Antiquity. Hedrick argues in the same way in History and Silencee, 52–3. According to Hedrick, one can take it as a general principle that “[s]ocial identity, like individual identity, must be treated in systematic rather than essential terms. It is the product of a set of relationships, not of an intrinsic self-awareness” (History and Silencee, 52). This principle, he contends in the passages quoted earlier, also applies to the formation of the Christian identity as Christians define themselves in contrast to the pagans. Holmberg, “Understanding the First Hundred Years of Christian Identity,” 6. Moreover, these issues stated by Judith Lieu can also be applied to the Christians’ reconsideration of their theological and religious identity. In this case, too, the Christians needed one or more counterparts against whom they could define their own identity. In this context, heretics of all different kinds played the role of these counterparts, as they did not subscribe to the teachings determined as orthodox by the councils. Judith Lieu has pointed out some very important aspects of these processes of separation in her already quoted works.

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of the fourth century, this “Other” and the relevant “counter-image” were no longer groups like the Jews or the Gnostics – the Christians had started to mark themselves off from both of these long before. This “Other,” or so I want to contend, were the so-called pagans.40 Before I turn to a closer examination of the role of paganism as a Christian counter-image, I will make a few remarks on an argument that raises important issues about the topic of Christian identity in late antiquity. This argument has been developed by Éric Rebillard in his Christians and Their Many Identities in Late Antiquity. Rebillard proposes that we should “abandon groups as the basic units of social analysis.” Rather, we should take into account the “internal plurality” of the identities of ancient and late ancient Christians.41 For, Rebillard contends, there was no “Christian identity as that of an internally homogeneous and externally bounded group.”42 In the face of this plurality of identities, it seems to make little sense to speak of “being Christian” and “being Roman” at all, or to conceive of “being Christian” and “being Roman” as “irreconcilable opposites,” as I  have proposed. Yet, Rebillard’s argumentation does not exclude the possibility of forming “heuristic categories” that can be used to focus on particular aspects of a person’s identity – or, if you will, on one of her identities. Rebillard himself makes use of such a heuristic category, discussing the plurality of Christian identities in late antiquity. Thus, when talking about “being Christian” or “the Christians,” I  do not intend to contradict Rebillard’s point. Instead, just as Rebillard himself did, I am using a heuristic category that focuses on one particular identity of those individuals we consider “Christian” in late antiquity. Attempting to redefine the social and political aspects of their identity, the Christians needed a counterpart that was fitting specifically for this task. Considering the place they now had in the Roman Empire, being Christian but also being fully fledged Roman citizens, the Christians had to define themselves against other well-established Roman citizens. Consequently, it was not so much questions of faith, doctrine, or theological teachings that marked the differences necessary for a new definition of their identities, but rather social or political ones. Taking this into consideration, it is not surprising that, to “baptize” those people who they wanted to define themselves against, the Christians chose

40 41 42

Cf. once more Hedrick, History and Silence, 52–3. e Rebillard, Christians and Their Many Identities in Late Antiquity, 2–3. Ibid., 2.

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a term that originally did not have any religious, but social connotations.43 It appears that the term paganus was very fitting when it came to denoting those non-Christians who were to play the role of a social counterpart.44 For, as has been explained before, in its pre-Christian and extra-Christian usages the term paganus has already had a “tradition” of referring to nonparticipants, or outsiders to particular social groups – but, to emphasize this once again, not to religious ones. Applying paganus to those whom they wanted to define themselves against in a social context and whom they considered as the outsiders to their group, the Christians actually continued its traditional usage.45 This interpretation of why the Christians adopted the term paganus is supported by an investigation of the contexts in which we find the first uses of the term. The earliest sources from the fourth century show that these contexts were particularly related to aspects of social or political life. This becomes evident, for example, with regard to two epitaphs found in Rome and in Sicily and usually taken to be the first examples of a decidedly Christian usage of paganus signifying “non-Christian.”46 Both of these epitaphs, and especially the one found in Catania, clearly show a usage of the term that has mainly social implications. Regarding the epitaph from Catania, Christine Mohrmann and, following her, Carsten Colpe and Alan 43

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46

As we will see, in the course of time, paganus has also acquired more and more religious connotations, and in the fifth century the term will be used to denote all kinds of different aspects of what it meant to be “non-Christian.” In the fourth century, however, we can assume that, initially, the term had mainly, although not exclusively, social connotations. How this observation relates to the results I have reached so far will be discussed later. The role of the religious counterparts could still be played by the Jews, the heretics, or the Gnostics. Many important aspects of how this image looked, which the Christians created with regard to their pagan counterparts, are being considered in the other chapters contained in this volume. While in the present context, I  have restricted myself to examining the formal aspects of the creation of the pagans as a Christian counter-image, these other investigations help flesh out how this counter-image actually looked like and how it was created concretely. Cf. CIL L 6,4,1,30463 (epitaph from the Via Flaminia): “eius aliquot voluerit facere in se[pulcro, sciat]] quod filia mea inter fedeles fidelis fuit interr al[ie]nos pagana fuit.” t Cf. also CIL L, 10,7112 (epitaph from Catania, Sicily): “Iuliae Florentinae infan[t]i dulcissimae atq(ue) innocentissimae, fideli factae, parens conlocavit. Quae pridie nonas Martias ante lucem pagana nata, Zoilo corr(ectore) p(rovinciae), mense octavo decimo et vices[i]ma secunda die completis fidelis facta, hora noctis octava ultimum spiritum agens, supervixit horis quattuor ita ut consueta repeteret, ac defuncta (est) Hyble hora die[i] prima septimum kal. Octobres. Cuius occasum cum uterq(ue) parens omni momento fleret, per noctem maiestatis vox extitit, quae defunctam lamen[t]ari prohiberet. Cuius corpus pro foribus martyrorum, cum loculo suo per presbiterum humatu(m) e(st) IIII non.) Oct(o)br(es);” cf. also Colpe, “Die Ausbildung des Heidenbegriffs,” 75–6; for the dating of the epitaphs, see Cameron, The Last Pagans of Romee, 23–4.

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Cameron have pointed out that, in this context, the term paganus obviously refers to people who are not baptized and thus not full members of the Church.47 Of course, the topics of baptism and of membership in the Church are religious issues. Yet here the focus clearly lies in juxtaposing those who belong to the Christian social community and those who do not. The reasons someone belongs to one of these two groups or the other are certainly religious; still the point being made here concerns membership in a particular social group. That is to say, while the factor differentiating the Christian Romans from their non-Christian fellow citizens was clearly their religion, what the differentiation process amounted to was not only the foundation of a religious but also of a social group. The idea that paganus was rather used in a social sense is supported by the fact that even after the term paganus had been introduced, at least in the early fourth century, most Christian authors still preferred to use terms such as gentes or gentiles when they wanted to point out the religious and theological differences between themselves and non-Christians. Paganus, on the other hand, was rather used to mark off those who did not belong to the social group of the Christian Romans.48 Such a focus on social or political aspects implied in the use of the term paganus can, for example, be traced in the Codex Theodosianus. In passages such as books XVI,2,18 or XVI,7,1–2, the issues at stake are not decidedly religious or doctrinal. Rather, in these passages the Codex’s aim is to clarify some aspects of the legal relationships between Christians and pagans and to prescribe the rules for their social and political coexistence.49 So it says in book XVI,7,1–2: (7,1) Those Christians who have become pagans shall be deprived of the power and right to make testaments, and every testament of such decedent, if there is a testament, shall be rescinded by the annulment of its foundation.

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Cf. Mohrmann, “Encore une fois: paganus,” 114; Cameron, The Last Pagans of Romee, 24. In this context, one also has to consider that in order to differentiate themselves from non-Christians regarding religious or theological questions, the Christians had no need to introduce a new term in the fourth century. Terms like gentiles or gentes offered Christians a terminology ready at hand to signify those who did not share their religious convictions – that is, of course, again with the exception of the Jews. Certainly, the laws and regulations compiled in the Codex Theodosianus do not aim at a “coexistence” in the sense of a legal, religious, and economic equality regarding Christians and pagans. As Michele R. Salzman has shown, particularly the Codex’s book XVI gives testimony of how the emperors from Constantine to Theodosius II worked on a conversion of the empire to Christianity that brought about many social and economic disadvantages for the pagans. Cf. Salzman, “The Evidence for the Conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity,” 362–78, particularly 367–8.

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(7.2) If Christians and those confirmed in the faith have turned to pagan rites and cults, We deny them all power to make a testament in favour of any person whatsoever, so that they shall be outside the Roman law.50

And in XVI,2,18 it says: The regulations of the sainted Constantius which clearly existed at the end of his life shall be valid, and whatever was done or decreed when the minds of the pagans were aroused against the most holy law by any depravity shall not acquire validity under any pretext.51

As these and other passages show, in the context of the Codex Theodosianus, the pagani are usually treated as a social group whose relationships to other groups, especially to the Christians, of course, but also to the Jews, the Codex tries to clarify legally.52 The theory outlined is not only corroborated by an examination of who actually used the term paganus. We can reach a similar conclusion by analyzing who did not make use of it. As has been remarked before, interestingly enough, there are, for example, no occurrences of paganus in the Vulgata. Although Jerome could have used the term for his translation, he preferred gentes or gentiles to pagani.53 What is more, it can be observed that, in general, the term paganus was not very present in the theological discussions of the fourth century.54 The few exceptions to this rule – for instance, Marius Victorinus or Augustine  – make the case outlined earlier in this chapter even stronger.55 This becomes evident against the background of the identity of most of the fourth-century authors using paganus. Regarding this identity, James J. O’Donnell contends that those using the term at this time 50

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Cod. Theod. XVI,7,1–2:  “(1) His qui ex Christianis pagani facti sunt, eripiatur facultas iusque testandi et omne defuncti, si quod est, testamentum submota conditione rescindatur. r (2)  Christianis ac fidelibus, qui ad paganos ritus cultusque migrarunt, omnem in quamcumque personam testament condendi interdicimus potestatem, ut sint absque iure Romano.” The translations are taken from Pharr, The Theodosian Codee. Cod.Theod. XVI,2,18: “Quam ultimo tempore divi Constanti sententiam fuisse claruerit, valeat, nec ea in adsimulatione aliqua convalescent, qua tunc decreta vel facta sunt, cum paganorum animi contra sanctissimam legem quibusdam sunt depravationiubus excitati.” i Interestingly enough, there is a passage in which the Codex Theodosianus discusses matters of doctrine and condemns “all schisms and superstitions of the pagans” and in which it actually does not use the term paganii but gentiles. Cf. Cod.Theod. XVI,5,63: “Omnes haereses omnesque perfidas, omnia schismata supersitionesque gentilium, omnes catholicae legi inimicos insectamur errores.” Cf. Colpe, “Die Ausbildung des Heidenbegriffs,” 71–3; 78 and the works Colpe refers to. Just as Jerome, Ambrose, too, apparently made no use of paganus; cf., for example, O’Donnell, “Paganus,” 165; cf. also Cameron, The Last Pagans of Romee, 16. In “Paganus,” O’Donnell, 165, gives a list of the fourth-century authors that we know of using paganus. Apart from Augustine and Marius Victorinus, he names Ambrosiaster, Pacianus of Barcelona, Optatus of Milevis, Philastrius of Brescia, and Prudentius.

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were mostly “converts and controversialists.”56 As such these authors were not only those “who held the strongest brief against ‘paganism.’”57 Especially as converts, Marius Victorinus and Augustine also had a particular interest to emphasize their newly adopted Christian Roman identity and to mark themselves off from their non-Christian fellow Roman citizens. This line of reasoning is supported by Robert Markus’s analysis of the relations between pagans and Christians in his work The End of Ancient Christianity.58 There, Markus argues that the differences between a cultivated philosophical pagan and a Christian were only marginal in the late fourth century. Interestingly enough, Markus refers to Marius Victorinus as an example of an upper-class Roman who converted to Christianity and whose life before and after his conversion proved relatively similar.59 Given this similarity, it is quite understandable that, after their conversion, authors such as Marius Victorinus or Augustine had a particular need to mark themselves off as Christian Romans. They were therefore very prone to using the term paganus.60 Furthermore, one has to take into account the contexts in which authors such as Marius Victorinus and Augustine use the term paganus  – and in which they do not make use of it. With regard to Marius Victorinus’s De homoousio recipiendo, for example, it is evident that he refers to the graeci when speaking of pagani.61 Accordingly, he is referring to a particular non-Christian philosophical group or point of view that stands in opposition to some Christian theological conceptions, but not to non-Christians in general. Reluctance to use the term paganus was not limited to converts. As Émilienne Demougeot and, following her, Jean Claude Fredouille have pointed out, there was a general reluctance to use paganus in the fourth century.62 Only after the attacks of the barbarians on the empire in 408/10, 56 57 58 59 60

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62

Cf. O’Donnell, “Paganus,” 165. Ibid. Cf. Markus, The End of Ancient Christianity, 28–9. Cf. ibid. In Victorinus’s case, his particular need to mark oneself off as a Christian can be illustrated by a famous anecdote that Augustine told (Conf. VIII,2, 3–5). In Robert Markus’s version (The End of Ancient Christianity, 28) the anecdote goes as follows: “Long before his conversion to Christianity in 355 the pagan rhetorician Marius Victorinus was said to have reassured the Milanese priest Simplicianus that he, too, was a Christian; when the priest refused to accept the claim until he saw him in his congregation Victorinus replied: ‘[D]o walls then make a Christian?’” Cf. Marius Victorinus, De homoousio recipiendo 1, 5–14. O’Donnell includes very helpful remarks on the contexts of Augustine’s uses of paganus in his article “Paganus,” 165–6. Regarding Augustine’s relational use of paganus, see also later in this chapter. Cf. Demougeot, “Remarques sur l’emploi de paganus,” 343; Fredouille, “Heiden,” 1121–2. See also the entry in the Thesaurus Linguae Latinaee for paganus, 78–83.

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Fredouille contends, did the situation change and the usage of pagani prevailed in almost all areas as it gradually replaced other terms such as gentiles.63 To sum up, although I have not undertaken a complete investigation of all usages, in regard to the cases examined, we can discern a tendency toward an emphasis on the social aspects of paganus. If this is correct, the investigation of these contexts provides further support for the argument regarding the Christian adoption of the term. John North has argued that we might have to consider paganism “quite simply as a religion invented in the course of the second to third centuries AD, in competition and interaction with Christians, Jews and others.”64 For several reasons, North’s argumentation, which we find also taken up in Alan Cameron’s The Last Pagans of Rome,65 is quite convincing and I intend just to add some further aspects to it. It is indeed problematic to conceive of paganism as a unified religion, given the diversity that can be discerned regarding the religious groups subsumed under the term paganism. Accordingly, James J.  O’Donnell writes: “The non-Christian side of society was nothing if not diverse in its religious inclinations. Ancient religion always recognized that differences of ancestry, geography, class, and culture led individuals to seek religious affiliations peculiar to themselves and to people like themselves.”66 In the face of such plurality and diversity, it does obviously make little sense to actually speak of “the pagans” or “paganism” in the sense of a unified religious movement. If at all, one could consider talking about paganisms, thus taking into account the diversity and plurality of the various forms of late ancient non-Christian religion.67

63

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65 66

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Cf. Fredouille, “Heiden,” 1121–2; see also Demougeot, “Remarques sur l’emploi de paganus,” 345–6; Colpe, “Die Ausbildung des Heidenbegriffs,” 79.The fact that paganus, from the beginning of the fifth century onward, had become more and more the almost universally used term to denote non-Christians in both nonreligious and religious contexts does not contradict what has been said so far. Cf. North, “The Development of Religious Pluralism,” 187–8; a very similar position is held by Hedrick, History and Silence, 52–3. e Cf. Cameron, The Last Pagans of Romee, 26–7. Cf. O’Donnell,“The Demise of Paganism,” 46. Many other scholars come to the same result as O’Donnell, emphasizing the religious and cultural diversity of what is called “paganism.” See, for example, Markus, The End of Ancient Christianity, 28; Mitchell, History of the Later Roman Empiree, 229–34; Ayres, “Articulating Identity,” 418; Stenger, Hellenische Identität in der Spätantike, 22. e Cf. Cameron, The Last Pagans of Romee, 27: “No one planning to treat the non-Christian cults of late antiquity in and for themselves in all their variety and complexity will feel any need to use so unspecific a term as ‘pagan.’ She will simply write about the followers of Mithras, Isis, Marnas, and so on.”

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And yet there is a perspective from which it actually did make sense to speak of “paganism” and to conceive of the pagans as a unified group – that is the Christian perspective.68 Although it apparently did little justice to the variety the so-called pagan forms of religion displayed, from a Christian point of view it appeared reasonable to use a category like this.This is particularly evident against the background of what has been explained regarding the reformation of Christian identity in the fourth century.69 As we have seen, acquiring the status of well-established Roman citizens, the Christians had to redefine different aspects of their collective identity. In this context, the pagans played an important role, as – at least initially – they served as the counterparts the Christians needed for the new definition of their social self-conception.70 Denoting this counterpart, the term paganus thus referred to all those non-Christians whom the Christians defined themselves against (except the Jews), and who were therefore not members of the Christian community. Starting from this point and following the views of Judith Lieu and Charles W. Hedrick, it seems that Christians characterized pagans as their counter-image and their Other.71 This being “the Other” of the Christians was the common feature all pagans shared, regardless of the differences one could discern between them. And this common feature was reason enough for the Christians to put all those whom they characterized in this way into one category. In this context, it did not matter much to the Christians that the so-defined pagans existed for the Christians, that is, as a category or as a concept that only meant something to them, but certainly not to the pagans. As Alan Cameron puts it: “Fourth-century pagans naturally never referred to themselves as pagans, less because the term was insulting than because the category had no meaning for them.”72 And it obviously also did not matter to the Christians that a category or a concept that had to encompass so many different meanings – signifying a huge variety of groups, people, features, and

68 69

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Cf. ibid. Accordingly, I would propose to add to North’s aforementioned thesis that the invention of “paganism” did not only take place in the course of the second and the third centuries, but also in the fourth. As we have seen, Hedrick, History and Silence, e 52, hints on this issue, too: “Just so, ‘paganism’ (as everyone agrees) comes into existence in late antiquity, precisely with the rise of Christianity to a position of political dominance. It is a creation of the dialectical opposition of two groups, but it is nonetheless socially real, and any account of the period must consider it.” Moreover, one has to consider that later, of course, as the meaning of paganus encompassed more aspects of what it meant to be “non-Christian,” the role of the pagans also changed. See also Hedrick, History and Silence, 52–3. e Cameron, The Last Pagans of Romee, 27.

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so forth – was rather empty, that is to say, except for its negative definition made in contrast to the Christians themselves.73 Hence, not only did the Christians attribute the characteristic features to the pagans by which they actually became pagans. In addition, these pagans, who were created in this way, in fact existed in the conceptual realm of the Christian imagination, but not outside of it.74 Consequently, it appears quite reasonable to agree with John North and Alan Cameron and to speak of the pagans as a Christian invention.75 The assumption that the Christians invented the pagans is very much related to the aforementioned idea that “Christian” and “pagan” formed two interdependent concepts. A closer look at the Christian invention of paganism shows that, as has already been mentioned, what the Christians invented was actually a concept they used as a counter-image to help with their self-definition. As the pagans played the role of the “Other,” it is evident that the definition of the concept of “pagan,” in this context, depended on the definition of what it meant to be “Christian.” So, once again, the term paganus – so to say, faithfully to its tradition – took “its precise color from an antonym”76 and gathered another meaning for its collection. But assuming that the Christians created and then used the pagans as a counter-image, the new Christian identity and the Christians’ self-conception were at least to some extent a result of their marking themselves off from the pagans.77 Thus, constructing their identity in opposition to the pagans, the 73 74

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Cf. ibid. Cf. Markus, The End of Ancient Christianity, 28: “[Paganism] existed only in the minds, and, increasingly, the speech-habits, of Christians.” Cf. also Hedrick, History and Silence, e 52–3. In an analogous way, Steve Mason and Anders Runesson, among others, have argued that what I want to claim about the invention of “paganism” in the fourth century also applies to the invention of “Judaism” in late antiquity. So Runesson writes agreeing with Steve Mason’s position: “‘Judaism’ he [Mason] emphasizes, came into being in late antiquity as a consequence of the religionizing (my [Runesson’s] term) of beliefs and practices along the lines of (non-Jewish) Christian self-understanding of that time. ‘Judaism,’ thus understood was a creation of non-Jewish-Christians for polemical purposes.” Cf. Runesson, “Inventing Christian Identity: Paul, Ignatius, and Theodosius I,” 64–5; see also Mason, “Jews, Judaeans, Judaizing, Judaism: Problems of Categorization in Ancient History,” 457–512. Cameron, The Last Pagans of Romee, 22; see also Hedrick, History and Silence, 53. e Cf. Hedrick, History and Silencee, 53:  “So in the combative or cooperative interactions of Christians and pagans in late antiquity we can see not only the creation of the religious category ‘pagan,’ but also the emergence of Christianity. Paganism in this period is nothing outside of an implied reference and opposition to Christianity; but Christian identity during this period (and for long after) is also established by the exclusion of paganism.” Here, a parallel can be discerned with other processes of the formation of Christian identity. So

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Christians in many respects could be defined as “non-pagans.” Furthermore, in this way, the Christians did not only invent paganism, but they also reinvented themselves, constructing their own identity by creating their counter-image.78 Christians were, in essence, dependent on pagans. Augustine’s De Civitate Dei provides good examples of such a Christian self-definition in contrast to the pagans.79 There, we learn, for example, that, differently from the pagans the Christians did not believe that it was Rome’s conversion to Christianity that caused the catastrophe of the sacking of Rome in 410.We learn that, from Augustine’s point of view, Christian morality was very much superior to the traditional pagan morality, and how little the pagan gods cared about moral decay in the empire (book II). We learn that it is not the demons that mediate between gods and men, but that Jesus Christ is the true mediator between the divine and the human realm (book IX). We learn that Christians do not believe in the power of the gods, but in contrast to that, in the power of the One God who caused the greatness of Rome (book III). We also learn why Platonic theology and demonology are inferior to Christian theology (book VIII), and so on. As these examples show, Augustine uses the opposition between Christian and pagan positions to demonstrate how, in his view, Christianity is to be conceived of in contrast to paganism and how Christianity is superior to paganism. Whether intended or not: Augustine’s depiction of Christianity shows that in many, although not all, respects, the Christians he describes can be defined as being “non-pagans.” To be sure, there is certainly a difference between the definition of the pagans as “non-Christians” and the definition of Christians as “non-pagans.” In comparison to the paganism of that time that “was a varied group of cults and observances,” we can attest the Christians at least a “growing worldwide cohesiveness” that moved in the direction of a “coherent religious movement.”80 Hence, although one should not overestimate these commonalities

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from the Jews, the Gnostics, and those branded as heretics. In parts, Judith Lieu has already made this point. See, for example, her Neither Jew nor Greek? For Lieu’s argumentation in this book cf. also Holmberg, “Understanding the First Hundred Years of Christian Identity,” 6. Cf. Hedrick, History and Silencee, 53: “Pagans, like witches and magicians and later ‘infidels’ of other kinds, were necessary ‘alterity,’ an exclusion that functioned to help Christians know themselves.” Although Augustine does not use the term paganus in De Civitate Deii very often – James J.  O’Donnell and Jacques Zeiller have counted five passages in which it occurs (Cf. O’Donnell, “Paganus,” 165–6) – his way of treating the non-Christians is very illuminating for what I intend to argue at this point. Cf. Markus, The End of Ancient Christianity, 28.

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and the homogeneity of the Christians, we can still assume that the different Christian communities had more of a common foundation than the different pagan communities. So there was probably a broader basis for a positive definition of what it meant to be Christian than of what it meant to be pagan at that time. And still, the fact that the Christians defined themselves in contrast to the pagans had important implications for the formation of Christian identity. At least partially, this identity can be conceived of as “not being pagan.” Adding to this that the pagans were primarily to be defined in contrast to their antonym, the Christians, it is evident that in a sense we can consider “pagan” and “Christian” as two interdependent concepts. As such these concepts depended on each other for their meaning, and only together they constituted the identities of both Christians and pagans.

Concluding Remarks If the term paganus in its initial Christian usage signifies an invented and interdependent concept that as such existed (and exists) in the minds and the speech habits of the Christians and of contemporary scholars, we will have to reconsider some aspects of our approach to pagans as objects of scientific inquiry. We should be careful not to assume that our statements about them refer directly and immediately to entities in the so-called real world. Rather, our examinations of the pagans deal with constructions created by Christian authors who present us with particular images of the pagans.81 Hence, what such investigations on paganism actually focus on is not the pagans, but the Christian attitudes toward the images of paganism which the Christians themselves created.82 Accordingly, we have to bear in mind that the interpretations we develop in this context always refer to previous interpretations that as such take up a particular position. Do we then necessarily have to conclude that in fact we cannot say anything about historical realities when it comes to the relations between Christians and pagans? Can we investigate a form of textual reality only

82

This holds at least with regard to the fourth century when the Christians started to talk about “pagans.” Later, as some non-Christian authors started referring to themselves as “pagans,” the situation obviously changes as we have images of paganism created by those who conceive of themselves as pagans. Cf. Cameron, The Last Pagans of Romee, 27: “But anyone planning to treat the attitude of the Christian establishment to non-Christian groups will find ‘pagan’ a simpler and more accurate term.”

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that does not very well reflect the historical realities, which as such remain inaccessible? Or is it, on the contrary, possible to use this textual reality and other historical sources to access historical facts through them?83 Although my research raises fundamental epistemological issues,84 I nonetheless argue that these texts can allow us to see into certain historical realities because the concepts of “paganism” and “Christianity” are closely interconnected with the social realities they describe. That is to say, that, on one hand, the aforementioned concepts can be viewed as the results of interpretations of certain social realities such as the changes taking place in the fourth-century Roman Empire. On the other hand, however, these concepts (and interpretations) are also determinant factors with regard to the creation and formation of the social realities they depict. For, by creating an awareness among Christians and pagans of their own respective identities, the aforementioned concepts also change the social realities of Christians and pagans. Thus, it is, for example, only after “realizing” that they are in fact pagans, in the sense of “non-Christians,” that non-Christian authors from the fourth century onward actually started to speak of themselves as “pagans.” Before that time, they certainly would not have done so.

Bibliography Assmann, J. Das kollektive Gedächtnis. Schrift, Erinnerung und politische Identität in frühen Hochkulturen (Munich, 1992). Ayres, L. “Articulating Identity,” in L. Ayres, A. Casiday, A. Louth, and F.Young, eds., The Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature (Cambridge, 2004), 414–63. Nicaea and Its Legacy (Oxford, 2004). Bauer, J. Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei im ältesten Christentum (Tübingen, 1934). Bélanger, S. “À la croisée des chemins: les premiers chrétiens et leur quête identitaire.” CEA XLIV (2007): 137–69. Bickel, E. “pagani: Kaiseranbeter in den Laren-Kapellen der pagi urbani im Rom Neros und des Apostels Petrus.” RMP 97 (1954):1–47. Brown, P.“Pagan,” in G.W. Bowersock, P. Brown, and O. Grabar, eds., Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Postclassical World (Harvard, 1999), 625. Cameron, A. The Last Pagans of Rome (Oxford, 2011). Chuvin, P. “Sur l’origine de l’equitation paganus = païens,” in L. Mary, ed., Impies et païens entre Antiquité et Moyen Âge (Paris, 2002), 7–16.

83

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See Holmberg’s comparison of the different approaches that Lieu (in her already quoted works) and Theißen, A Theory of Primitive Christian Religion, choose with respect to discussing the formation of Christian identity. Cf. Holmberg, “Understanding the First Hundred Years of Christian Identity,” 20–1. A discussion of such issues and of their relevance for historical sciences can be found in r Paravicini, Die Wahrheit der Historiker.

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Cicero, De domo sua, A. C. Clark and W. Peterson, eds., M. Tulli Ciceronis Orationes, Vol. 5 (Oxford, 2006 [repr.]). Codex Theodosianus. Theodosiani libri XVI cum constitutionibus Sirmondianis, 3 Volumes, Th. Mommsen, P. M. Meyer, and P. Krüger, eds. (Hildesheim, 1999–2002). Colpe, C. “Die Ausbildung des Heidenbegriffs von Israel zur Apologetik und das Zweideutigwerden des Christentums,” in R. Faber and R. Schesier, eds., Die Restauration der Götter. Antike Religion und Neo-Paganismus (Würzburg, 1986), 61–87. Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL), T. Mommsen and F. W. Ritschl et al., eds. (Berlin, 1863 ff.). Demougeot, É. “Remarques sur l’emploi de paganus,” in E. Arslan, ed., Studi in onore di Aristide Calderini e Roberto Paribeni 1 (Milan, 1956), 337–50. De Vaan, M. Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the Other Italic Languages (Leiden, 2008). Fredouille, J. C. “Heiden.” RAC 13 (Stuttgart, 1986): 1121–2. Galsterer, H. “Pagus,” in H. Cancik and H. Schneider, eds., Der neue Pauly, Vol. IX (Stuttgart, 2000), 146–7. Glare, P. G. W., ed., “pagus,” Oxford Latin Dictionary (Oxford, 2000). Hedrick, C. W. History and Silence:  Purge and Rehabilitation of Memory in Late Antiquity (Austin, 2000). Holmberg, B. “Understanding the First Hundred Years of Christian Identity,” in B. Holmberg, ed., Exploring Early Christian Identity (Tübingen, 2008), 2–32. Internationale Thesaurus-Kommission, ed., Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, Vol. X,1 (Leipzig, 1992). Lewis, C. T. and C. S. Short, eds., A Latin Dictionary, Founded on Andrews’ Edition of Freund’s Latin Dictionary (Oxford, 1969). Lieu, J. Image and Reality:  The Jews in the World of the Christians in the Second Century (Edinburgh, 1996). Neither Jew nor Greek? Constructing Early Christian Identity (Edinburgh, 2002). Christian Identity in the Jewish and Graeco-Roman World (Oxford, 2004). Markus, R. The End of Ancient Christianity (Cambridge, 1990). Mason, S. “Jews, Judaeans, Judaizing, Judaism:  Problems of Categorization in Ancient History.” JSJ 38 (2007): 457–512. Meyendorff , J. Imperial Unity and Christian Divisions. The Church 450–680 AD (New York, 1989). Miles, R., ed. Constructing Identities in Late Antiquity (London, 1999). Mitchell, S. A. History of the Later Roman Empire AD 284–64:  The Transformation of the Ancient World (Oxford, 2007). Mohrmann, C. “Encore une fois: paganus.” VigChr 6 (1952): 109–21. Mommsen, T. Römisches Staatsrecht III (Darmstadt, 1963). North, J. “The Development of Religious Pluralism,” in J. North, J. Lieu, and T. Rajak, eds., The Jews among Pagans and Christians in the Roman Empire (London, 1992), 174–93. O’Donnell, J. J. “Paganus.” CIF 31(1977): 163–9. “The Demise of Paganism.” Traditio 35 (1979): 45–88. Opelt, I. “Griechische und lateinische Bezeichnungen der Nichtchristen. Ein terminologischer Versuch.” VigChr 19 (1965): 1–22. Paravicini, W. Die Wahrheit der Historiker (Munich, 2000).

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Pharr, C. The Theodosian Code and Novels and the Sirmondian Constitutions: A translation with Commentary, Glossary, and Bibliography (Princeton, 1952). Pokorny, J. Indogermanisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch,Vol. 1 (Munich, 2002). Pseudo-Caesar, Bellum Alexandrinum, R. Giomini, ed. (Rome, 1956). Runesson, A. “Inventing Christian Identity:  Paul, Ignatius, and Theodosius I,” in B. Holmberg, ed., Exploring Early Christian Identity (Tübingen, 2008), 59–92. Salzman, M. R. “The Evidence for the Conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity in Book 16 of the ‘Theodosian Code.’” Hist. 42, no. 3 (1993): 362–78. “Pagans and Christians,” in S. A. Harvey and D. G. Hunter, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies (Oxford, 2008): 186–202. Stenger, J. Hellenische Identität in der Spätantike. Pagane Autoren und ihr Unbehagen an der eigenen Zeit (Berlin, 2009). Straub, J. “Personale und kollektive Identität. Zur Analyse eines theoretischen Begriffs,” in A. Assmann and H. Friese, eds., Identitäten (Frankfurt am Main, 1998), 73–104. “Identität,” in F. Jaeger and B. Liebsch, eds., Handbuch der Kulturwissenschaften, Vol. 1 (Stuttgart, 2004): 277–303. Theißen, G. A Theory of Primitive Christian Religion (London, 1999). Von Stuckrad, K. “‘Christen’ und ‘Nichtchristen’ in der Antike.Von religiös konstruierten Grenzen zur diskursorientieren Religionswissenschaft,” in M. Hutter, W. Klein, and U. Vollmer, eds., Hairesis. Festschrift für Karl Hoheisel zum 65. Geburtstag (Münster, 2002), 184–202. Williams, R. “Does it Make Sense to Speak of pre-Nicene Orthodoxy?” in R. Williams, ed., The Making of Orthodoxy:  Essays in Honour of Henry Chadwick (Cambridge, 1989), 1–23.

5

LATE ANTIQUE DIVI AND IMPERIAL PRIESTS OF THE LATE FOURTH AND EARLY FIFTH CENTURIES Douglas   Boin Now that new contributions have been made to the study of “the imperial cult” in the early Roman Empire, the time is ripe to broaden that conversation: by drawing attention to imperial cult practices in the late Roman world.1 This topic will provide an excellent illustration of how our modern categories, like “Roman/Christian” or “pagan/Christian,” fail to capture the nuances of social life in the late Roman world. Two recent studies  – one focusing on divus Constantine, the other on the iconography of Christ as the heavenly emperor – have already begun to sketch out that picture.2 This contribution expands on that work by examining the social and cultural context of one inscription from Rome (CIL 6.1783). This inscription has recently been used to characterize the late fourth and early fifth centuries as a period of “Christian triumph” and “pagan revival” although that 1

2

For background, see now Brodd and Reed, Rome and Religion. Broadly relevant are Arce, “Imperatori”; Bonamente, “Apoteosi”; Brent, Imperial Cultt; Fishwick, “A Critical Assessment”; and Van Nuffelen, “Rezeption.” Because of space, this list is intended to be suggestive, not exhaustive. Additional studies are engaged with later in this chapter. A more complete treatment of the topic is in progress. See Jensen, “The Emperor Cult” and Bardill, Constantinee.

I would like to thank all three co-organizers for their feedback, which was invaluable for giving final shape to this contribution. All citations from ancient works follow abbreviations set forth in the Oxford Classical Dictionary, edited by S. Hornblower and A. Spawforth (Oxford, 1996). Translations are mine. The following are also used: AE = L’Année épigraphique. Paris, 1888–. = Dictionnaire latin-français des auteurs chrétiens. Ed A. Blaise and H. Chirat. Turnhout. BC 1954, reprinted 1997. CIL = Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum. Berlin. 1863–. ICUR = Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae Septimo Saeculo Antiquiores. Ed. G. B. De Rossi. Rome 1857–1915. Second ed. Ed. A. Silvagni et al., Rome. 1922–. ILCV = Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres. Ed. E. Diehl. Berlin, 1925–31. e Ten volumes. London, 1984–94. RIC = Roman Imperial Coinage. RPC = Roman Provincial Coinage. e London, 1992–.

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narrative no longer withstands scrutiny. Traditional worship practices did not vanish with the conversion of Constantine;3 and abundant epigraphic, legal, numismatic, and textual sources, discussed here, attest to the continued practice of naming late antique emperors divi – including references to the diva memoria of the eastern Roman emperor Zeno (474–91 CE) and one reference to divus Anastasius (491–518 CE).4 Given this context, it is surprising, however, that no scholar to date has chosen to discuss the fact that the inscription from Rome names the emperor Theodosius as divus. This chapter rereads that inscription in light of the resilience of traditional Roman worship practices in the fourth century, including imperial cult practices.5 In doing so, it suggests a model for understanding how the same social and cultural mechanisms by which individuals and communities drew the attention and patronage of the imperial house, as in earlier periods, remained an important “transactional” mechanism for brokering social relations in the late antique world.6 This chapter may challenge scholars who see “the imperial cult” as a phenomenon inherently in tension with early Christianity or as one whose outward “pagan” trappings were thrown off with the legalization of Christianity.

Rome, circa 431 CE Few inscriptions have merited their own monograph.7 CIL 6.1783 is privileged to count among this group. Discovered in Rome in 1849 in the Forum of Trajan, the inscription dates to 431 CE and preserves a letter from Flavius Theodosius II and Flavius Valentinian III to the Senate of Rome. It also records the restoration of a statue dedicated to Nicomachus Flavianus the elder. Because Flavianus is famous today for having allied himself with 3

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See Boin, “A Hall for Hercules,” 253–7, which, although nominally similar to Cameron, The Last Pagans of Romee, differs in that it presents a view of the fourth century as a time of resilient, not empty, religious traditions. For additional studies supporting this view, see Salzman, On Roman Timee; and Bjørnebye, “Hic locus.” Gwynn, “The ‘End’ of Senatorial Paganism,” focuses on a model of religious competition over one of overt conflict, 155. For urban and rural communities in Italy, in particular, see Christie, Constantine to Charlemagnee, 91–121. “Hypatius, Pompeius et Probus genere consobrini, divique Anastasii nepotes,” Marcellinus Comes, 532 CE (PL L 51, col. 941D). For the “diva memoria” of Anastasius, see also Novv. 7.2 and 43.praeff For the memory of Zeno, see CJJ 7.37.3, 4.35.23–4, and 5.27.7. Previous approaches include Bowersock and Meyer, “The Imperial Cult”; Bowersock, “Greek Intellectuals”; and Turcan, “Le culte impérial.” As pointed out in Gordon, “Roman Imperial Cult,” 42–3; see also Clauss, Kaiser und Gottt; and Price, Rituals and Powerr. For other examples, see Eck, Caballos, and Fernández, Das senatus consultum, as well as Perri, Ill “senatus consultum.”

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Eugenius in the battle against Theodosius for control of the western empire in 392–4, a battle infamous for having once been associated with the last “pagan revival,” Charles Hedrick dedicated his entire book to illuminating the significance of the inscription. Drawing attention to the pride with which it rehabilitates the memory of the elder Flavianus while leaving the more scandalous details of his past wordless, Hedrick believed that the elder’s religious identity  – a militant paganism  – had so tarred his memory since the establishment of Nicene Christianity as the official religion of the empire that no mention of it could be made in the inscription. “Paganism” was a beast that dare not raise its head, and the silence about it on the epigraph was testimony to dramatic changes sweeping across late fourth-century and early fifth-century Rome.8 There is one problem, observable twice on the face of the stone. Theodosius I is called divus. The word appears first in the description of the career of Nicomachus Flavianus,9 and it appears again in the portion of the text that preserves an imperial letter. bono nobiscum p(atres) c(onscripti) [faustoque] omine intellegitis profecto quidquid in restitutionem pr[...c.8...]inis inlustris et sanctissimae aput [sic] vos recor-| dationis Flaviani Senio[ri]s adimus, divi avi nostri venerationem esse ... In this good and pleasurable time (the emperors write), you know indeed that, whatever we accomplish by recalling an illustrious [pr(...c.8...)inis] and the most revered memory among you of the elder Flavianus, there is reverence for our own ancestor, divus [Theodosius] ...10

Even though the word divus resonates strongly with the memory of divus Iulius and divi filius, Hedrick translates it “of blessed memory,” an interpretation essential for his reading of the inscription. Privileging a model of religious conflict, thereby building the case for “a radical ideological change from the late fourth century” to 431 CE, Hedrick implies that Christianity 8

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Hedrick, History and Silence, e xii. For further discussion and bibliography on this word, see also the section later in this chapter on Christian assimilation and accommodation. “quaest(ori) aulae | divi Theodosi,” CIL L 6.1783, lines 1–2. CIL L 6.1783, lines 13–15. Hedrick has offered, “with much hesitation” (History and Silence, e 256), a reading of “prr[aenomin]is” for the damaged portion of line 13. I will return to this issue in the conclusion to this chapter. Note that he translates “restitutio” as “restoration.” That meaning is indisputable for the classical age. The word, however, does take on a slightly different one in the postclassical period, when it comes to refer to the idea of a “resurrection” (Tert. Praescr. 7 and 13) and, more generally, to the notion of “propagation” (Ruf. HE E 4.29.2); see BC C “restitutio 1 and 4.” I have tried to capture the sense of those translations with the word “recalling.”

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and traditional Roman religion were so diametrically incompatible that one could never really have been a Roman and a Christian at the same time.11 Yet the very word divus and its meaning raise a nagging question: Is there really a silent “paganism” here? Does the inscription really dance around the embarrassing “pagan” past of the elder Flavianus, or is there nothing to be embarrassed about at all – not even for the imperial family? The knots are difficult to untangle, and the final shape of what unwinds may not be what we ourselves expect, but this contribution is offered as a first step in that process. We need to address two assumptions, however, before we turn to the details of the inscription and what they mean.

Two Preliminary Methodological Points 1. Keeping Our Eye on the Nature of Ancient “Religion,” the Meaning of Divus and How Christian Emperors Understood It

The first point is to address the communis opinio that all references to the word divus in later Latin should be translated “of blessed memory” and that the use of title evinces no continuity with the meaning of the word in the earlier periods.12 This proposition has been put forth most succinctly by Ittai Gradel, who located this semantic shift in the second quarter of the third century.13 At that time, according to Herodian, Maximinus the Thracian is reported to have confiscated the temple revenues for deified emperors and repurposed them for an act of economic stimulus. “The dedications in the temples and the statues of the gods and the honors for heroes, any kind of decoration on a public building, either an ornament of the city or material suitable for making coins, all of it he melted down.”14 Gradel interpreted this act as the death knell that signaled the end of the imperial cult. In this way, with the temple treasuries impounded and the system in tatters, one top-down act of confiscation brought to a close the entire system. All subsequent evidence for divi, as Christian emperors understood the title, became, in effect, “honorary.”15

11 12 13 14

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Hedrick, History and Silence, e xix–xx. See, for example, Bonamente, “Imperatore divinizzato,” 360–1. Gradel, Emperor Worship, 304–65. “ναῶν τε ἀναθήματα θεῶν τε ἀγάλματα καὶ ἡρώων τιμάς, καὶ εἴ τις ἦν κόσμος δημοσίου ἔργου ἢ καλλώπισμα πόλεως ἢ ὕλη νόμισμα ποιῆσαι δυναμένη, πᾶν ἐχωνεύετο,” Herodian 7.3.5. Bardill, Constantinee, 380–4, is the most recent to suggest this interpretation.

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This statement can be challenged on two grounds. The first is sociohistorical. Specifically, it fails to take account of the ways both the center and the periphery used the imperial cult system to negotiate power throughout Roman history. This long-standing system was one in which local, provincial, and imperial elites interfaced with and attracted the attention and patronage of the imperial house. Each set of actors had the potential to receive social and political benefits from these transactions. An appreciation for this complex system turns Maximinus’s act into something far less culturally catastrophic, and this point is one to which I  will return in a moment.16 The argument that the Latin title divus became “honorary” can be challenged on a second ground, however: a theoretical one. Here, the need to define the subject of our investigation becomes vital; for as biblical scholar Brent Nongbri has observed, “There is a surprising, and amusing similarity in the way people talk about defining hard-core pornography and the way the term ‘religion’ is used in both popular and academic contexts today.”17 Nongbri’s point is that the old adage, “I know it when I see it,” presumes too much – namely, that all cultures at all times throughout history would have recognized a concept that matches our own post-Enlightenment notion of “religion.” Nongbri’s call for theoretical and methodological sophistication on this point is entirely just. (Roman religio doesn’t map onto modern ideas of “religion,” for example.)18 Nongbri also joins a chorus of scholars like Bruce Lincoln, Clifford Geertz, and Robert Bellah, among others, who have proposed that, if historians are going to talk about “religion” in their research, they clearly define what they’re talking about.19 If we take one definition of “religion” – Geertz’s, for example – and apply it to the study of the imperial cult, it should become immediately apparent why methodology is so important. (I have picked Geertz’s definition because I think it is a flexible, generous one; Bellah himself adapted it for his own research.) Geertz defined “religion” as: (1) a system of symbols which acts to (2) establish powerful, pervasive and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by (3)  formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and (4)  clothing these conceptions 16

17 18 19

See Galinsky,“Uniter or Divider?”; see also White,“Capitalizing on the Imperial Cult.” This approach also builds on imperial ideology as studied in Ando, Imperial Ideology, 19–48; see also now Noreña, Imperial Ideals, 190–324; and Manders, Coining Images, 11–62. Nongbri, Before Religion, 15. Ibid., 26–34. For Lincoln’s definition, see Lincoln, Holy Terrors, 5–7. For Geertz and Bellah, see later in this chapter.

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with such an aura of factuality that (5) the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.20

If we apply this definition to our study of the Roman imperial cult, the problems with suggesting why the title divus evolved into an honorary, or symbolic, title readily become obvious.21 Methodologically, the conclusion is tautological, as are the claims that the imperial cult survived into late antiquity because the system and its priests “had lost their religious connotations and had become secular.”22 Yet “religion” itself, if we follow Geertz’s definition, is a system of “symbols.” Scholars who work on Roman and late Roman “religion” need to demonstrate much more savviness in recognizing the complexities and the limitations involved in applying conceptual frameworks like “religion” and “secular” to a period in which neither of these concepts existed.23 I myself have eschewed the use of “religion” in this chapter for that reason. As a modern term imposed on the study of antiquity, it prevents us from seeing the past on its own terms.24 2. Acknowledging Both the Rhetoric of Rejection and the Evidence for Assimilation and Accommodation in Christianity’s History with the Imperial Cult

Treatment of the cult’s longevity in the Christian Mediterranean also needs proportion and balance. The rise of Christianity in late antique Rome involved more than a “transition from one religion to another”;25 it involved a significant debate among Christians about how or even whether to participate in the working of Rome’s empire. Ever since the text of Revelation, the imperial cult and those Christians who had participated in it had been presented to other Christians as a socially and morally bankrupt element of

20 21 22

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Geertz, Interpretation of Cultures, 90. Bonamente, “Imperatore divinizzato,” 346–58. Leone, End of the Pagan City, 94–5 (“symbolic”), 92 (“had become secular”). Elsewhere, the author describes the imperial cult as “perhaps the most secular of cults,” 100; see also Conant, Staying Roman, who describes “the (now secularized) cultic veneration that had traditionally been dedicated to the Roman emperor,” 46; and “secularized late antique emperor-worship,” 156; as well as Cameron, The Last Pagans of Romee (the priesthoods “survived the loss of their religious functions,” 171); and Brown, Eye of the Needlee (“The office was a title of honor that had come to be held by Christians,” 353). Nongbri, Before Religion, 12–13, 37. See Nongbri’s discussion of the “descriptive” versus “redescriptive” uses of the word, Before Religion, 153. Leone, End of the Pagan City, 21.

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governance in “the whore of Babylon.”26 To characterize the late antique imperial cult as a neutral civic sphere – a mental space that Christians and non-Christians alike shared naturally and eagerly – thus not only creates a false equivalency between Rome’s Christians and non-Christian communities, turning them into polar opposites; it also ignores the volume and the resilience of an important sociohistorical debate that had been taking place between Christians for centuries.27 The rise of the Latin word “civilian” (paganus) to disparage Christians who may have participated in Rome’s imperial cult can now be seen as emerging as product of this intra-Christian debate.28 It becomes paramount, then, when treating the imperial cult in late antiquity to acknowledge and explore the diversity of ways all Christians, as individuals and communities, navigated the social world of Rome’s empire. Indeed, late antique cities were not “bipolar.”29 The fact that many Jews living in the Hellenistic and Roman worlds found ways to participate in them should remind us that the growth of visibility of Christianity, too, was driven as much by assimilation and accommodation as it was by resistance and its social by-product, “persecution.”30 This point is the second one that needs much greater attention today. Just within the past century, the field of New Testament studies has made abundantly clear that members of the early Jesus movement could and did find strategies for working within the Roman social world, including the imperial cult system, to gain greater status as a community. Letters attributed to the memory of Paul, written within two generations of Jesus’ death, teach respect for the paterfamilias as head of the household. These letters encouraged wives to obey their husbands, children to obey their parents, and slaves to maintain a dutiful stance to their masters. All three of these instructions 26

27

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Rev. 14.9–11, 17.5–14; see also the so-called Fifth Sibylline Oraclee lines 16–23. For overview of the theme, see Friesen, Imperial Cults, 138–40. Leone, End of the Pagan City, 13; see also Lepelley, “Les lieu des valeurs communes”; and Brown, Eye of the Needle, e who presents an inscription from 347 CE, honoring an imperial priest and replete with a chi-rho, as “a characteristic product of the bipolar world ushered in by Constantine,” 63. See Boin, “Hellenistic ‘Judaism’ and the Social Origins of the ‘Pagan-Christian Debate.’” For bibliography, see also now Van Nuffelen, who suggests that the late antique concept of “paganism” was “not purely a polemical Christian construct”; rather, “it has roots in the Middle-Platonic reflection of religion” (“Eusebius of Caesarea,” 106). Boin, Ostia, 163. On the imperial cult and persecution, see Millar, “The Imperial Cult,” and now Trombley, who writes, “Christian theological writers had always expressed skepticism about the imperial cult” (“The Imperial Cult,” 39). On Jews and the imperial cult, see now McLaren, “Jews”; and McLaren, “Searching for Rome.”

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can be seen as textbook expressions of Roman pietas, upholding the values of the Roman home.31 The writer of the letter known as 1 Peter expanded on these ideas by exhorting one Christian community in Asia Minor to “honor the emperor” so as not to draw attention to itself.32 Together, these exhortations formed part of a multidimensional and complex social strategy of accommodation by which members of the Jesus movement won greater respect for their group.33 This evidence does not deny that others within the same sect advocated for a more militant separation from and rejection of Roman culture.34 These distinct aspects of Christian identity formation, however, cannot be easily collapsed. Indeed, it is the former set of strategies – speaking to how creatively Jesus’ followers could adapt to Roman society – that can be seen throughout every generation of early Christian history. Scholars working in later periods have not often appreciated this evidence. It should now be understandable why other researchers have chosen to look for specific moments in late antique history, like the third century, as heralding such a dramatic break with Mediterranean mores – intellectually, politically, socially, and culturally – that words like divus must have acquired their “symbolic” meaning.This approach has been born from an assumption, nothing more than that, that the “triumph” of Christianity was predicated upon the collapse of traditional Roman religion.35 It has also been based on the assumption that “the Christians” wouldn’t have participated in Rome’s imperial cult unless the cult itself had somehow been radically divested of its traditional meaning. In the end, then, can we really say how Christian emperors eventually came to understand the meaning of the term divus as they applied it to themselves in the later empire? Given the range of social strategies by which Christians interfaced with Roman power throughout their complicated social history, I doubt we will find one consistent answer among the evidence.36 In fact, I suggest that a more profitable historical approach might be to look at the available evidence in a slightly different way. 31

32

33 34

35 36

See Col 3.18–4.1 and Eph. 5.22–6.9. For overview of this “household code,” see White, From Jesus to Christianity, 274–6. For further study on Christian households, see now Balch and Osiek, eds., Early Christian Families; and Balch and Osiek, eds., Families. 1 Peter 2.11–17 (honoring the emperor), 2.18–25 (slaves and masters), 3.1–6 (wives and husbands). Boin, Coming Out Christian. See Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom, 57–60 (martyrdom of Polycarp), 102–16 (martyrs of Vienne and Lyon), and 122–44 (North Africa). Cameron, The Last Pagans of Rome, 168–9. e “The title of divus survived the third century crisis ... but [it was] not as important as it was before,” Magyar, “Imperial Cult and Christianity,” 386.

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Starting Over: Imperial Cult in the Third Century With these two caveats in place, we are poised to pick up traces of a much more differentiated conversation about the relationship between Christians, Christianity, and the late Roman world. To begin, pace Gradel, Herodian gives no indication that Maximinus’s confiscation of temple properties affected the imperial cult system wholesale at the imperial, provincial, or municipal levels. The role of the divi or the funds associated with temples were not a prefabricated ideological imposition from Rome, and signs and symbols were deployed, managed, negotiated, and finessed on a highly individualized, local basis.37 Emperors and subjects alike drew on them to establish the “moods and motivations” appropriate to the expression of power, authority, and reverence. That is why, after the confiscations of Maximinus, we find a chain of evidence for the proliferation of divi. Upon the emperor’s death in 238, at least two communities in the Mediterranean, one in the Greek East and one in the territory of Latium, offered honors for his deified wife, Paulina.38 Later, the elder Gordians I and II were also each deified and given temples.39 At least seven inscriptions from North Africa confirm the extent of the honors reported by later historians.40 Deification also followed for the young Gordian III.41 Later in the century, the elder and the younger Valerians received the same distinction.42 And Claudius II, praised in a fourth-century imperial panegyric for being the divine ancestor of the new Flavian dynasty established by Constantine, was the recipient of them, too.43 Numismatic evidence for the Emperor Carus (Figure  5.1) commemorates him with the signs and symbols of consecratio; these aurei bear

37 38

39

40 41 42

43

The foundational studies are Fishwick, Imperial Cultt; and Price, Rituals and Powerr. From Atina, “Divae | Caeciliae | Paulinae | Piae Aug(ustae),” CIL L 10.5054. From Anazarbus (modern Anavarza, southern Turkey), see the numismatic evidence, from 236 CE “θεα Παυλινα,” American Numismatic Society 1973.191.110. “omnes in Maximi et Balbini verba iurarunt, Gordianos priores divos appellantes,” SHA The Two Maximians 24.2–3; see also ibid. 26.2 and 26.5. CIL L 8.848, 1218, 10330–1, 10431, 10452, 10460. For example, Amm. Marc. RG G 23.5; see also Eutropius 9.2. For the elder (r. ca. 253–7 CE), CIL L 8.8473 and CIL L 9.5682. For the younger, see CIL 9.1566. “A primo igitur incipiam originis tuae numinaee,” Pan. Lat. 6(7).2; “ab illo enim Divo Claudio manat in te avita cognatio,” id. 6(7).2. On the genealogy, see Nixon and Rodgers, Later Roman Emperors, 219–20, n. 6. See also CIL L 8.10373 and RIC C 5.266 (copper alloy coin with radiate bust on reverse with the legend “Divo Claudio,” on obverse, “consecratio” legend with eagle on lightning bolt).

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5.1. “Divo Caro Pio,” RIC 4.135, an aureus of Carus (r. ca. 282–3 CE). © The Trustees of the British Museum.

5.2. “Deus et Dominus,” RIC 5.145, an aureus of Carus (r. ca. 282–3 CE). © The Trustees of the British Museum.

the legend divus on their reverse, with a radiate bust of the emperor, and were minted at Lyon.44 Others took a slightly different approach. Coins struck in Siscia (modern Sisak, Croatia) pair the radiate bust of Carus with the legend Deus et Dominus (Figure 5.2).45 Based on the change in language, we might be led 44 45

“Divo Caro Pio,” RIC C 4.135, an aureus of Carus (r. ca. 282–3 CE). Cohen, Description historique des monnaies frappés sous l’empire romain, 5.318 (no. 14); see also RIC C 5.145, an aureus of Carus from 282–3 CE.

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5.3. “Deo Augusto,” Tarragona. Copper alloy sestertius, struck 15–37 CE, RPC C 1.222/6. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

to conclude that the imperial cult had gradually been corrupted by the megalomaniacal personality of the third-century ruler.46 Here, too, however, we would do well to check our interpretation.The city of Tarragona in Spain, in the very first decades of the first century CE, had struck coins for the deified Augustus with the exact same language: Deo Augusto (Figure 5.3).47 These depict Augustus on a throne, holding a globe in one hand, a scepter in the other, perhaps in the guise of Jupiter, not unlike the very statue of Constantine from the Basilica Nova.48 The use of deus, in the first century but also the third,

46

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48

Quoting, as it does, Domitian’s request that he be called “dominus et deus” (Suet. Dom. 13.2). The question of who was responsible for coin issues is surveyed in Manders, Coining Images, 29–32.That coins were understood to communicate messages has been treated most recently by Noreña, Imperial Ideals, 147. A copper alloy sestertius, struck 15–37 CE. On the reverse, an octastyle temple with the legend “aeternitatis Augustae”; see RPC C 1.222/6. See Presicce, “Costantino.”

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speaks to the creativity inherent in the workings of municipal and provincial religion.49 Spain was not Rome was not Lyon was not Croatia. A variety of strategies for honoring the imperial house and family bubbled up to the surface, leaving visible traces.

Opening a New Window onto Imperial Cult in the Fourth and Fifth Centuries This same dynamic continued throughout the fourth and fifth centuries.50 Constantine presented himself as a companion of the gods, even continuing to blur the lines between human and gods. He is also well known for having responded to the request by the people of Hispellum (Spello), circa 333–5, to reestablish an imperial cult temple precinct there; it is called both an aedes and a templum for the gens Flavia.51 The town itself was renamed Flavia Constans to honor both the cognomen of Constantine, a name deserving of veneration (nomenq(ue) | venerandum), and the memory of the gens Flavia, from which Constantine traced his descent.52 This moment of reciprocity is an important demonstration of the imperial cult in action, and we should not automatically assume it was unique to the early fourth century. Attestations for divus Julian and divus Jovian are found in epigraphic records,53 and attestations for divus Gratian and divusValentinian I are found in textual sources.54 These are not isolated instances of cultural continuity with the Roman past. The use of these titles is complemented by contemporary epigraphic evidence for provincial imperial cult priesthoods in Dacia, for 49

50 51

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53 54

Ando, Imperial Ideology, 36–8, 41–5, 206–14; see also Manders, Coining Images, 225–302, for case studies of Caracalla, Decius, and Gallienus. Amici, “Divus Constantinus”; see also Trombley, “The Imperial Cult,” 24–39. “[[posceretis] ut civitati cui nunc Hispellum nomen | est quamque Flaminiae viae confinem adque con-|tinuam esse memoratis de nostro cognomine | nomen daremus in qua templum Flaviae Gentis | opere magnifico nimirum pro amplitudinem | nuncupationis exsurgere,” e CIL L 11.5265, lines 25–30; “aedem ... Flaviaee,” id. line 43. On the inscription, see now Van Dam, Roman Revolution, 363–7. The phrase “ne aedis nostro nomini dedicata cuiusquam contagios(a)e superstitionis fraudibus polluatur” r (lines 45–7), with its reference to superstitio, has been discussed in Salzman, “Superstitio”; see also Sandwell, “Magic.” “nam civi-|tati Hispello aeternum vocabulum nomenq(ue) | venerandum de nostra nuncupatione conces-|simus, scilicet ut in posterum praedicta urbs | Flavia Constans vocetur,” r CIL L 11.5265, lines 38–42. “divo Iuliano,” ICUR R 1.164; “divo Ioviano,” id. 1.175. “divum atque inclytum Gratianum,” Sym. Rel. 40.4, as well as id. 34.9 and 34.11; “divi genitoris vestri,” i addressed to Gratian, referencing Valentinian I, id. 27.4. For a list of other examples, see Beurlier, Le culte impérial, 330, although the accuracy of his references should be checked first-hand.

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example, and also in North Africa, where one recent study by Anna Leone has documented more than 60 officeholders.55 I have now been able to add eight more priests to this database (Appendix).These date between 336 CE (Number 5 from Ammaedara) to circa 402–8 (Number 6 from Aradi). Taken alongside our previously existing evidence, these inscriptions testify the resilience of a social network binding the periphery to the center in ways that demonstrate a connection with, not a disruption from, earlier Roman practices (Figure 5.4). At least ten of these date to the fifth or early sixth century.56 How might we transform this bare-bones catalog into evidence for a richer social history of the late Roman empire? Epigraphic evidence from a neighboring province offers an encouraging way forward. The efforts of individuals like those at Leges Maiores (modern Henchir Gousset, Algeria; Number 8, in the Appendix) – a town that as late as 276 CE was known as a village, or locus, in the province of Numidia – suggest that local participation in the Roman imperial cult system could pay important dividends for a community as a whole.57 By the mid-fourth century, the city itself had not only acquired a provincial priest of the imperial cult; it self-identified as a res publica by that time and is known to have been replete with a local town council, or curia, as well as decurions.58 In this same way, I would propose that each of the priests from late antique North Africa might attest to an unexplored geography of late antique imperial cult practices, whereby a greater attention to their local details, including prosopography, might allow us to map out the ways late antique Romans from specific regions negotiated their relationship to imperial power. That is, each of the priests in the system may have capitalized on a mechanism 55

56

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Space prevents from me addressing every region. For priests in Dacia, by way of illustration, see CIL L 3.14468, AE E 1998.1079, and AE E 2003.1418. For the priests in North Africa, both flamines and sacerdotales, see now appendix 1 in Leone, End of the Pagan City, 245–54. On priests in late fourth-century Rome, see now Orlandi, “Gli ultimi sacerdoti.” Some dates are debatable, but among the most secure examples are CIL L 8.450 (sixth century from Ammaedara; Leone, End of the Pagan City, 2013, 245); CIL L 8.10516 (525–6 CE from Ammaedara; Leone, 245); CIL L 8.24101 (408–32 CE from Mesguida; Leone, 246); CIL L 8.969 (400–1 CE from Nabeul; Leone, 249); AE E 1912, 178 (383–408 CE from Pupput; Leone, 250); AE E 1912, 164 (fifth century from Schuhud el Batel; Leone, 251); AE E 1930, 88 and AE E 1952, 209 (493–4 CE from Theveste; Leone, 252); CIL L 8.23045 (end of the fourth century, fifth century or later from Uppenna; Leone, 254); and CIL L 8.1283 (408–23 CE from Vallis; Leone, 254); see also Bassignano, Il flaminato, 16, 62–3, 96, 163, 232, 180–1, 313. “Pro felicitate temporum beatorum | Quintus Cassius Taurus fl(amen) p(er)p(etuus) Legalis | ob honorem flamoni paterni con-|sensu splendidissimi ordinis sibi con-|locati cenitatem curiam sum(p)tu proprio | repparavit (sic),” AE E 1982, 961, dated 371–400 CE. For the transformation of communities across late antique North Africa, see Dossey, Peasant and Empiree, 101–24, with discussion of Leges Maiores at 115. On local elites in the imperial cult during the early imperial period, see Gordon, “Roman Imperial Cult,” 47–50.

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5.4. Locations of imperial cult priests in North Africa, fourth through sixth century CE. Author’s map adapted from data provided the Ancient World Mapping Center (Antiquity À-la-carte). Printed with permission.

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of traditional statecraft to attract the patronage of the imperial house to win greater benefits and social standing for their communities.59 Many of these actors no doubt could and did self-identify as Christian,60 just as the last-known flamen perpetuus of Africa Proconsularis seems to have done in the early sixth century; his relatives erected a funerary inscription for him with the phrase “fl(amen) p(er)p(etuus) Cristianus” [sic].61 That identity claim may have vexed his more militant Christian peers; but just as the issue of assimilation and accommodation to the dominant culture of the day had been a source of concern for Jewish culture and practices in the late Second Temple and remained a source of concern for Christians throughout the first, second, and third centuries CE, so, too, with the legalization and later establishment of Christianity, we should not be surprised to see that the fourth, fifth, and perhaps even sixth century had opened up a new phase in the social debate and definition of what it meant to be Christian and what it meant to “be Roman” and “stay Roman.”62 That dynamism helps explain why even deified emperors were still at home in Christian settings well into the early fifth century. The church of San Giovanni Evangelista in Ravenna, vowed by Galla Placidia, brings that picture into focus. Today, almost nothing of the fifth-century church remains.63 The interior of the building itself, however, was drawn in the Renaissance, leaving us a good visual record of its original mosaic program. Images of ten emperors appeared in the apse, which depicted the family of Flavius Constantius III, Galla’s husband. Portraits of Constantine, Theodosius I, Arcadius, Honorius, Theodosius II, Valentinian I, and Gratian, all of whom were related to Galla, figured prominently in the program, along with her husband. Three younger

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63

The title and theme are thus adapted from the model set forth in White, “Capitalizing on the Imperial Cult,” to whom I owe my thanks for his guidance on these and other matters. People could, it must be remembered, identify as Christian who held priesthoods ((flamines) in this system, as the text from the early fourth-century council at Elvira attests (see canons nos. 2–4); see also Dupuis, “Les pontifices,” and the evidence at Leone, End of the Pagan City, 85–90. “Astius Muste-|{te}lus fl(amen) p(er)p(etuus) C(h)risti-|anus vixit an-|nis LXXII quievit VIII | Id(us) Decem/bres anno | IIII d(omini) n(ostri) regis | [Ch]ildirix (sicc),” CIL L 8.10516, from Ammaedara, Africa Pronconsularis (modern Haïdra, Tunisia). Exact find spot unknown; see also Leone, End of the Pagan City, 245. Conant, Staying Roman, 46, 156, mentions the priesthoods, but much more work is needed to integrate this evidence into the model of Roman identity maintenance and management he describes. See Deliyannis, Ravenna, 63–70. Much of the interior was removed in 1568, and the church itself was pummeled during World War II.

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princes, Gratian, Johannes, and Theodosius III, were also included.64 It is the seven deceased emperors who were labeled “d(ivus)” underneath their portrait medallions, however, who demand historical comment.65 The importance of binding fifth-century Ravenna to the seat of the eastern imperial house in Constantinople cannot be overlooked in the execution of this extraordinary program, “the first church anywhere to contain imperial portraits as part of its decoration.”66 Acting from Constantinople, it was Theodosius II who in 425 CE had conferred the title Augustus upon the young Valentinian III and in one swift stroke resurrected the Theodosian dynasty to rule both halves of the empire.67 In San Giovanni Evangelista the authority of that unified imperial house was inscribed in the landscape of Ravenna. It was advertised to the town’s residents and worshippers, and it was wrapped up in the familiar flair of a centuries-old system that had propagated imperial power in similar ways. Thus, in this brief survey spanning several centuries, a broader picture should be emerging. Although the balance of this evidence  – legal, epigraphic, and art historical  – may be disparate and spotty, we should not expect uniformity among it. Such uniformity, whether chronologically, geographically, or even denominationally, had never been an inherent feature of the imperial cult system. That fact alone attests to the flexibility inherent within it.68 It also should prompt us to consider its lasting spell, even in cases where we have convinced ourselves that imperial cult “transactions” cannot possibly be present. In this way, a greater attention to the workings of the imperial cult, a consistently important actor in the foreground of the ancient Roman city, may begin to help us reorient our understanding of the late antique cultural landscape.69

Conclusion: Rome, circa 431 CE That brings us full circle to the inscription from Rome. I would like to close by exploring whether Charles Hedrick’s restoration of the damaged section, pr[aenomin]is, might not be the right one after all.70 Hedrick wanted to interpret 64

65

66 67 68 69 70

Theodosius III was Galla’s son, who died as a child; Gratian and Johannes were likely her brothers, who died in infancy (Sivan, Galla Placidia, 164). See Amici, “Imperatori divi.” Neither this work nor the topic is discussed in Deliyannis, Ravenna. Deliyannis, Ravenna, 68. Sivan, Galla Placidia, 91–3, 142–69, who also does not discuss the significance of the divii. Trombley, “The Imperial Cult,” 49–51. Boin, Ostia, 1–16. Hedrick, History and Silence, 256. e

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the phrase as referring to the “restoration of [Flavianus the elder’s] praenomen,” inferring that its loss had been a result of damnatio memoriae.71 Unfortunately, he admits,“this restoration [was] vulnerable to serious objections” not because it was impossible  – quite the contrary, the restoration is entirely elegant in the way it accounts for the spaces, the letters, and the case of the word – but because there is no evidence for any ban on praenomina after Tiberius.72 I think there is a simpler interpretation. Given the fact that Constantine honored Hispellum by invoking his own cognomen and by invoking the gens Flavia to which he belonged,73 what could have been more natural for the heirs of the Flavian dynasty,Theodosius II and Valentinian III, to demonstrate their own reverence (veneratio) for the family line by acknowledging their illustrious praenomen? That the imperial family and its deified ancestors were deserving of veneratio is an ideology expressed as early as the Tiberian age.74 By attracting the attention of the emperor, professing a renewed loyalty to the rulers, or honoring the memory of his family members long gone – the invocation of a divus was a well-worn coin that helped to demonstrate one’s reverence for the imperial house and a willingness to work within its power system. In Rome, one could even speculate that the Templum of the Gens Flavia on the Quirinal, a building restored as recently as Claudius II, the ancestor from whom Constantine traced his descent, not only loomed over this late antique transaction in the Forum of Trajan but figured in it in some way.75 An invocation of divus Theodosius on the part of Appius Nicomachus Dexter, the dedicator of the statue base whose name is appended at the end of the text of the imperial letter,76 may have been the very thing that led to the permission to erect the display in the first place. 71 72 73

74

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76

Ibid., 101–6. Gn. Calpurnius Piso, Tac. Ann. 3.17. On this point, see Van Dam, Roman Revolution, 88–129, who suggests that the reply to Hispellum and the appropriation of the Flavian name helped Constantine lend a more Italian identity to his Balkan family. I  like this point because it suggests that imperial cult transactions did not always have to work in one direction; they could benefit the emperor, too. “oblitus non | tantum venerationis caritatisq(ue), quae principis filio debebantur,” r senatus consultum against Cn. Calpurnius Piso, lines 59–60 (Latin text in Eck, Caballos, and Fernández, Das senatus consultum, 38–50, with translation in Meyer, “Das senatus consultum,” 318–24. On the imperial family in the workings of the imperial cult, see Severy, Augustus. Thus, “propter veerationem domus [Augustae],” ] AE E 1984, 507 (Spain), as well as the study of the theme by Hänlein-Schäfer, Veneratio. For the term divus as one of the “nomina veneranda” in the late antique eastern empire, see the reference in Ennodius’s sixth-century panegyric for Theoderic (MGH.AA 7, Panegyric, 17), discussed by McCormick, Eternal Victory, 276–8. “Appius Nicomachus Dexter, v(ir) c(larissimus), ex praef(ecto) urb(i), avo optim[o] | statuendam curavii,” CIL L 6.1783, lines 36–7. On Dexter, see Hedrick, History and Silence, e 171–213.

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In short, is it right to assume that the word divus necessarily meant “blessed” by the beginning of the fifth century? While it’s true that Latin words could often acquire a new meaning,77 the silence of the stone is deafening, as Hedrick himself observed. As I have tried to describe it here, however, the world behind the inscription is much louder and crowded with many more voices than we might care to admit. For that reason, there’s no necessary basis to assume that the word divus meant anything other than what it traditionally meant throughout Roman history, either.

Appendix Priests of the Imperial Cult in Late Antique North Africa

Leone, The End of the Pagan City, 245–54, assembled an epigraphic collection of more than sixty priests of the imperial cult in late antique North Africa. These eight inscriptions can also be added to that list.

(A Supplement) 1.–4. AE 1991, 1641. From Abthungi, Africa Proconsularis (modern Henchir Es-Souar, Tunisia). Found at the large temple, reused in a late antique wall. Dated 375–8 CE. See also the similar inscriptions AE 1991, 1642–4, all with similar language.

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conpellente temporum felicitate ddd(ominorum) nnn(ostrorum) Valentis Gratiani ac Valenti(nia-) ni Invictissimorum semper Auggg(ustorum) Publicius Felix Hortensius fl(amen) cur(ator) r(ei) p(ublicae) rostra ad ornatum patriae in meliorem statum redducxi (sic) itemque dedicavi.

5. AE 1992, 1767. From Ammaedara, Africa Pronconsularis (modern Haïdra, Tunisia). Found at the bath complex. Dated 336 CE. 77

Boin, “Hellenistic ‘Judaism,’” on paganus.

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Nepotia[no et Facund]o co(n)s(ulibus) P(ublius) Rutilius V[– flam(en)] perp(etuus) curator [r(ei) p(ublicae)] absidam a solo [in ther]mis hiemalibus sua pecunia addidit. 6. AE 2004, 1798. From Aradi, Africa Proconsularis (modern Sidi Jdidi, Tunisia). Found in a secondary context. Dated 402–8 CE. beatissimis florentissimisq(ue) [temp]orib(us) ddd(ominorum) nnn(ostrorum) Arcadi Honori et Theodosi ppp(erpetuorum) Auggg(ustorum) administrante M[an]lio Crepereio Scipione Vincentio v(iro) c(larissimo) consulare p(rovinciae) Fl(aviae) Valeriae Byz(acenae) plateam quae splendori est civitati et huic natura loci denecabat ornatum aegestis ruderib(us) inaequalitate silicib(us) coequa5 6

tam (sic) additis quoq(ue) columnis arcib(us) circumclusis in meliorem faciem T(itus) F(lavius) Dyscolius Therapius ex t(ribuno) fl(amen) p(er)p(etuus) c(urator) r(ei) p(ublicae) liberalitatem ob amorem civicum patriae inpendens proprio sumptu excoluit perfecit et ludos scenicos praemiales edidit et cum splendidissimo ordine feliciter dedicavit

7. CIL 8.25810 [= ILCV 1110; AE 1982,  934]. Found in Furnos Minus, Africa Proconsularis (modern Henchir el Msaadine, Tunisia). Found at the Christian basilica. Dated 371–400 CE. Fl(avius) Vitalis fl(amen) p(erpetuus) vis (sic) cur[at(or)] r(ei) p(ublicae) vixit [–] 8. AE 1982, 961. Found in Leges Maiores, Numidia (modern Henchir Gousset, Algeria). Exact find spot unknown. Dated 371–400 CE. Pro felicitate temporum beatorum Quintus Cassius Taurus fl(amen) p(er)p(etuus) Legalis ob honorem flamoni paterni consensu splendidissimi ordinis sibi con5

locati cenitatem curiam sum(p)tu proprio repparavit (sic)

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Bibliography Amici, A. “Divus Constantinus: Le testimonianze epigrafiche,” Rivista storica dell’antichità 30 (2000): 187–216. “Imperatori divi nella decorazione musiva della chiesa di San Giovanni Evangelista.” Ravenna: Studi e Ricerche 7 (2000): 13–55. Ando, C. Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty in the Roman Empire (Berkeley, 2000). Arce, J. “Imperatori divinizzati,” in Aurea Roma: Dalla città pagana alla città cristiana, eds. S. Ensoli and E. La Rocca (Roma, 2001), 244–8. Balch, D. and C. Osiek, eds. Families in the New Testament World:  Households and House Churches (Louisville, 1997). Balch, D. and C. Osiek. Early Christian Families in Context: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue (Grand Rapids, 2003). Bardill, J. Constantine, Divine Emperor of the Christian Golden Age (New York, 2012). Bassignano, M. Il flaminato nelle province romane dell’Africa (Rome, 1974). Bellah, R. Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age (Cambridge, MA, 2011). Beurlier, E. Le culte impérial: Son histoire et son organisation depuis Auguste jusqu’à Justinien (Paris, 1891). Bjørnebye, J. “‘Hic locus est felix, sanctus, piusque benignus’:  The Cult of Mithras in Fourth-Century Rome.” PhD. diss., University of Bergen (Norway, 2007). Boin, D.“A Hall for Hercules at Ostia and a Farewell to the Late Antique ‘Pagan Revival.’” AJA 114 (2010): 253–66. Ostia in Late Antiquity (New York, 2013). “Hellenistic ‘Judaism’ and the Social Origins of the ‘Pagan–Christian’ Debate,” JECS 22 (2014). Coming Out Christian in the Roman World (New York, 2015). Bonamente, G. “Apoteosi e imperatori cristiani,” in G. Bonamente and A. Nestori, eds., I cristiani e l’impero nel IV secolo (Macerata, 1988), 107–42. “Dall’imperatore divinizzato all’imperatore santo,” in P. Brown and R. Lizzi Testa, eds., Pagans and Christians in the Roman Empire: The Breaking of a Dialogue (4th–6th Century A.D.) (Zürich, 2011), 339–70. Bowersock, G. “Greek Intellectuals and the Imperial Cult in the Second Century A.D.,” in Le culte des souverains dans l’empire romain: Entretiens sur l’antiquité classique (Geneva, 1973), 179–206. Hellenism in Late Antiquity (Ann Arbor, 1990). Bowersock, G. and B. Meyer. “The Imperial Cult: Perceptions and Persistence,” in Jewish and Christian Self-Definition 3:  Self-Definition in the Graeco-Roman World (London, 1982), 171–82. Brent, A. The Imperial Cult and the Development of Church Order: Concepts and Images of Authority in Paganism and Early Christianity before the Age of Cyprian (Boston, 1999). Brodd, J. and J. Reed, eds. Rome and Religion: A Cross-Disciplinary Dialogue on the Imperial Cult (Atlanta, 2011). Brown, P. Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350–550 AD (Princeton, 2012). Cameron, A. The Last Pagans of Rome (New York, 2011). Christie, N. From Constantine to Charlemagne:  An Archaeology of Italy, AD 300–800 (Aldershot, 2006).

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Claridge, A. Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide (Oxford, 2010). Clauss, M. Kaiser und Gott: Herrscherkult im römischen Reich (Stuttgart, 1999). Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappés sous l’empire romain (Paris, 1861). Conant, J. Staying Roman:  Conquest and Identity in Africa and the Mediterranean, 439–700 (Cambridge, 2012). Deliyannis, D. Ravenna in Late Antiquity (New York, 2010). Dossey, L. Peasant and Empire in Roman North Africa (Berkeley, 2010). Dupuis, X. “Pontifes et augures dans le cités d’Afrique:  modèle romain et spécificités locales,” in H. Inglebert, ed., Idéologies et valeurs civique dans le monde romain: Hommage à Claude Lepelley (Paris, 2002), 215–30. Eck, W., A. Caballos, and F. Fernández. Das senatus consultum de Cn. Pisone patre (Munich, 1996). Fishwick, D. The Imperial Cult in the Latin West: Studies in the Ruler Cult of the Western Provinces of the Roman Empire (Leiden, 1987–2005). “A Critical Assessment: On the Imperial Cult in Religions of Rome,” in Cult, Ritual, Divinity and Belief in the Roman World (Farnham, 2012), 129–74. Friesen, S. Imperial Cults and the Apocalypse of John:  Reading Revelation in the Ruin (Oxford, 2001). Galinsky, K. “The Cult of the Roman Emperor:  Uniter or Divider?” in J. Brodd and J. Reed, eds., Rome and Religion: A Cross-Disciplinary Dialogue on the Imperial Cult (Atlanta, 2011), 1–22. Geertz, C. The Interpretation of Cultures (New York, 1973). Gordon, R. “The Roman Imperial Cult and the Question of Power,” in J. North and S. Price, eds., The Religious History of the Roman Empire: Pagans, Jews and Christians (Oxford, 2011), 37–70. Gradel, I. Emperor Worship and Roman Religion (Oxford, 2002). Grégoire, H. and P. Orgels. “Paganus:  Études de sémantique et d’histoire,” in Mélanges Georges Smets (Brussels, 1952), 363–400. Gwynn, D. “The ‘End’ of Roman Senatorial Paganism,” in M. Mulyran and L. Luvan, eds., The Archaeology of Late Antique “Paganism” (Leiden, 2011), 135–61. Hänlein-Schäfer, H. Veneratio Augusti: eine Studie zu den Tempeln des ersten römischen Kaisers (Roma, 1985). Hedrick, C. History and Silence:  Purge and Rehabilitation of Memory in Late Antiquity (Austin, 2000). Himmelfarb, M. “Judaism and Hellenism in 2 Maccabees.” Poetics Today 19 (1998): 19–40. Jensen, R. “The Emperor Cult and Christian Iconography,” in J. Brodd and J. Reed, eds., Rome and Religion: A Cross-Disciplinary Dialogue on the Imperial Cult (Atlanta, 2011), 153–71. Kahlos, M. Debate and Dialogue: Christian and Pagan Cultures, c.360–430 (Aldershot, 2007). Leone, A. The End of the Pagan City: Religion, Economy, and Urbanism in Late Antique North Africa (Oxford, 2013). Lepelley, C. “Le lieu des valeurs communes: la cité terrain neutre entre païens et chrétiens dans l’Afrique romaine tardive,” in H. Inglebert, ed., Idéologies et valeurs civique dans le monde romain: Hommage à Claude Lepelley (Paris, 2002), 271–85. Lincoln, B. Holy Terrors: Thinking about Religion after September 11, 2nd ed. (Chicago, 2006). Magyar, Z. “Imperial Cult and Christianity: How and to What Extent Were the Imperial Cult and Emperor Worship Thought to Preserve the Stability of the Roman World?” Acta Archaeologica Academiae Scientarum Hungaricae 60 (2002): 385–95.

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Manders, E. Coining Images of Power: Patterns in the Representation of Roman Emperors on Imperial Coinage, AD 193–284 (Leiden, 2012). McCormick, M. Eternal Victory: Triumphal Rulership in Late Antiquity, Byzantium and the Early Medieval West (Cambridge, 1986). McLaren, J. “Jews and the Imperial Cult:  From Augustus to Domitian.” JSNT 27 (2005): 257–78. “Searching for Rome and the Imperial Cult in Galilee:  Reassessing Galilee-Rome Relations,” in J.  Brodd and J.  Reed, eds., Rome and Religion:  A  Cross-Disciplinary Dialogue on the Imperial Cult (Atlanta, 2011), 111–36. Meyer, E. “Das senatus consultum de Cn. Pisone patre by Werner Eck, Antonio Caballos, and Fernando Fernández.” Classical Journal 93 (1998): 315–24. Meyers, E., and M. Chancey. Alexander to Constantine: Archaeology of the Land of the Bible (New Haven, 2012). Millar, F. “The Imperial Cult and the Persecutions,” in Le culte des souverains dans l’empire romain: Entretiens sur l’antiquité classique (Geneva, 1973), 143–65. Moss, C. Ancient Christian Martyrdom:  Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (Yale, 2012). Nixon, C. and B. Rodgers. In Praise of Later Roman Emperors:  The Panegyrici Latini (Berkeley, 1994). Nongbri, B. Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept (Yale, 2013). Noreña, C. Imperial Ideals in the Roman West:  Representation, Circulation, Power (Cambridge, 2011). Orlandi, S. “Gli ultimi sacerdoti pagani di Roma:  analisi della documentazione epigrafica,” in P. Brown and R. Lizzi Testa, eds., Pagans and Christians in the Roman Empire: The Breaking of a Dialogue (4th–6th Century A.D.) (Zürich, 2011): 425–66. Panagiotis, P. I., A. Chankowski, and C. Lorber, eds. More than Men, Less than Gods: Studies on Royal Cult and Imperial Worship, Proceedings of the International Colloquium Organized by the Belgian School at Athens, November 1–2, 2007 (Leuven, 2011). Perri, B. Il “senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus,” in Livio e nell’epigrafe di Tiriolo (Soveria Mannelli, 2005). Presicce, C. “Costantino come Giove: Proposta di rconstruzione grafica del colosso acrolitico dalla Basilica Costantiniana.” BullCom 107 (2006): 127–61. Price, S. Rituals and Power: The Roman Imperial Cult in Asia Minor (Cambridge, 1984). Salzman, M. “‘Superstitio’ in the Codex Theodosianus and the Persecution of Pagans.” Vigiliae Christianae 41 (1987): 172–88. On Roman Time:  The Codex-Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity (Berkeley, 1990). Sandwell, I. “Outlawing ‘Magic’ or Outlawing ‘Religion’? Libanius and the Theodosian Code as Evidence for Legislation against Pagan Practices,” in W.  Harris, ed., The Spread of Christianity in the First Four Centuries: Essays in Explanation (Leiden, 2005), 87–123. Schwartz, S. Imperialism and Jewish Society, 200 BCE to 640 CE (Princeton, 2001). Severy, B. Augustus and the Family at the Birth of the Roman Empire (London, 2003). Sivan, H. Galla Placidia: The Last Roman Empress (New York, 2011). Trombley, F.“The Imperial Cult in Late Roman Religion (ca.AD 244–395): Observations on the Epigraphy,” in Spätantiker Staat und religiöser Konflikt:  Imperiale und lokale Verwaltung und die Gewalt gegen Heiligtümer (Berlin, 2011), 19–54.

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Turcan, R. “Le culte impérial au IIIe siècle.” ANRW 2.16.2 (1978): 996–1084. Van Dam, R. The Roman Revolution of Constantine (Cambridge, 2007). Van Nuffelen, P. “Zur Rezeption des Kaiserkultes in der Spätantike.” Ancient Society 32 (2002): 263–82. “Eusebius of Caesarea and the Concept of Paganism,” in M. Mulyran and L. Luvan, eds., The Archaeology of Late Antique “Paganism” (Leiden, 2011), 89–110. White, L. From Jesus to Christianity (San Francisco, 2004). “Capitalizing on the Imperial Cult: Some Jewish Perspectives,” in J. Brodd and J. Reed, eds., Rome and Religion: A Cross-Disciplinary Dialogue on the Imperial Cult (Atlanta, 2011): 173–214. Witschel, C. and G. Alföldi. Epigraphic Databank Heidelberg. www.epigraphischedatenbank-heidelberg.de. October 25, 2012.

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ARTIS HEU MAGICIS : THE LABEL OF MAGIC IN FOURTH-CENTURY CONFLICTS AND DISPUTES Maijastina   Kahlos “Alas, while seeking the honours of nobility by your magic arts / you are brought thus low, wretch, rewarded with a tiny tomb.” In this way, an unnamed pagan Roman senator is accused of practicing the magic arts (artis ... magicis) in the anonymous pamphlet poem often called Carmen contra paganos.The same poem, near the end of the work, also mentions the “magic incantations” (carminibus magicis) of the widow of the wretched senator.1 This is only one example of the many labels of magic attached either to religious rivals or to political opponents in the fourth century. This chapter aims to analyze and contextualize the category of magic pinned onto pagan cults and heresies in the fourth century.2 Magic has served as a resourceful and versatile word in interreligious and intra-religious disputes and conflicts. One of the easiest ways to produce differences and create boundaries between groups has been to label the practices and beliefs of a rival group as magic.3

Defining Magic In this chapter, magic is understood as a discursive category that depends on the perspective of the perceiver. Therefore, there is no such thing as magic in itself. Instead, we should speak of rituals, beliefs, and texts that receive, 1

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Cod. Par. Lat. 8084, v. 110–11: Artis heu magicis procerum dum quaeris honores, / sic, miserande, iaces parvo donate sepulcro; v. 119: carminibus magicis cupiens Acheronta moveree. English trans. Cameron, Last Pagans, 808. Being terms formulated from outside, words such as “pagans,” “heretics,” and “magic” should be read with quotation marks throughout this chapter. Here these words serve just as convenient shorthand. For magic in the making of boundaries, see Drake,“Afterword,” 233–41; Dufault,“Magic and Religion,” 61; Stratton, Naming the Witch, x.

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usually from those situated outside such a context, the label of being magical. In this delineation, magic is a socially constructed object of knowledge whose content and formulations vary according to different social contexts and circumstances.4 If we need to define magic, phrases such as “unsanctioned religious activity,” “ritual power,” or “extra-cultic ritual practices” will be adequate.5 We can also refer to alternative, deviant, private, often unaccepted, forms of ritual behavior as some modern scholars have done.6 A  number of researchers have ended up using the term magic as a heuristic tool, a comparative term applied in an etic perspective, that is, perceived from the outside.7 This is pragmatic indeed as long as one remembers one is using the term magic as a heuristic tool.8 However, this solution is problematic insofar as researchers run the risk of making more or less subjective distinctions between what they regard as magic and what they regard as religion.9 In the scholarship of the recent decades, the conventional distinction between religion and magic has increasingly been challenged as untenable.10 In this chapter, the 4

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I follow the theoretical consideration of magic as a discursive formation by Stratton, Naming the Witch, xi, 2–3, 14–17, 23; see also Gordon and Marco Simón, “Introduction,” 5. Unsanctioned religious activity:  Phillips, “Nullum Crimen,” 262–3; ritual power:  Meyer and Smith, “Introduction,” 1, and Gordon and Marco Simón, “Introduction,” 4; extra-cultic ritual practices: Frankfurter, “Beyond Magic and Superstition,” 279. In the current scholarship, the use of the term magic has been thoroughly debated for about 100 years after James Frazer and E. B.Tylor. For surveys of these debates, and for antiquity in particular, see Meyer and Mirecki, “Introduction,” 2–3;Versnel, “Some Reflections,” 177–92; Remus, “‘Magic,’ Method, Madness,” 258–72; Smith, “Trading Places,” 15–17; in general, see Douglas, Purity and Dangerr, 58–60; Hutton, “Approaches to Witchcraft,” 413–34. Versnel, “Some Reflections,” 185–92; Graf, “Excluding the Charming,” 29–42; Schäfer, “Magic and Religion in Ancient Judaism,” 24–25; Hoffman, “Fiat Magia,” 179–94, esp. 180; Rives,“Magic in Roman Law,” 315–16; and partly Smith,“Trading Places,” 15–17, defend the use of magic as a heuristic tool, a comparative and etic term. Magic has nonetheless too often been taken at face value in research. In other words, modern scholars sometimes fail to define whether they are applying the term magic in either an emic or an etic perspective.The emic perspective refers to the perceptions of ancient people, the insiders, while the etic perspective is the viewpoint of modern scholars, the outsiders. Remus, “‘Magic,’ Method, Madness,” 286, describes “the way people pit what they take to be the best of the so-called religion against what they see as the worst of the so-called magic – whereas closer examination reveals correspondences and a continuum rather than a deep cleavage.” See also Ricks, “Magician as Outsider,” 143:  “where religion ends and magic begins on the religion-magic continuum depends upon the stance of the person speaking or writing, since it is not possible to divide religion and magic on the basis of any objective set of criteria.” See also Janowitz, Icons of Powerr, xiv, n. 4, criticizing Versnel, “Some Reflections” for relying “in the end on a ‘common sense’ definition of magic, which includes the use of compulsive means in activities such as cursing”; as Janowitz points out, labelling “a means ‘compulsive’ is often subjective.” Just to mention a few scholars:  Segal, “Hellenistic Magic,” 349–35; Meyer and Mirecki, “Introduction,” 1–10; Neusner, “Introduction,” 4–5; Ritner, “Parameters,” 43–4; Markus,

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term magic is used only to refer to the labels that writers of late antiquity use in their condemnations of rivalling practices and beliefs. Neither will this discussion take a stand on whether these practices and beliefs were magic or religion. Even though magic as such does not exist, it becomes real in the sense that belief in its existence is real and this influences human decisions and actions. Similarly, stereotypes, images, and labels become real in the sense that they influence human decisions and actions. People make the concepts real.11 The label of magic obviously reveals the cultural prejudices and fears of the surrounding society, rather than telling us about those categorized as practitioners of magic. Magic was not only construed but it was also used in marginalizing and alienating groups of people that, for various reasons, fell under suspicion. Furthermore, the label of magic usually lays bare the contest over religious authority. This strategy had a long tradition in Greco-Roman and Christian discourses. For example, during the early empire, from time to time, a number of Christians, including Jesus and the apostles, were denounced as practitioners of magic. Even as late as the fourth and early fifth centuries, Christian authors such as Augustine of Hippo were forced to defend Jesus from the charge of being a magician.12

The Label of Magic Attached to Pagan Practices In the writings of Christian opinion shapers, a package consisting of versatile concepts, paganism, superstitio, and magic was gradually developed. For example, in The City of God, Augustine construes a connection between the traditional Roman religion and magic, portraying Numa Pompilius, the mythical king of Rome and the founder of the Roman civic religion, as making a pact with demonic forces. In Augustine’s argumentation, as a demonic deceit, Roman religion becomes magic and Numa Pompilius a magician.13 Christian writers regularly denounced the deities of other

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, 126; Frankfurter, “Ritual Expertise in Roman Egypt,” 131; Briquel, “Haruspices et magie,” 177; Gordon, “Imagining Greek and Roman Magic,” 168. For the influence of stereotypes and images, see Fält,“Introduction”; Kahlos,“Introduction.” The influence of the belief in magic is appositely pronounced by Stratton, Naming the Witch, 18: “Once the notion magic exists, it takes on a social reality.” Aug. c. Faustt. 29.1. For the charges of magic against Christians, see Kahlos, “Magic and the Early Church.” Aug. Civ. 7.34–5. A similar association of the pagan practices with magic is made by Eusebius of Caesarea (dem. ev. 5), who first refutes accusations of sorcery against Christians and then hurls these charges back, linking Greco-Roman practices such as oracles, libations, and incense with magic and demons.

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religious inclinations as evil spirits and, consequently, other cults as being in communion with these demons.14 In their argumentation against other religious traditions, Christian thinkers such as Origen and Augustine elaborated a difference between divine and demonic power.15 While holy men performed miracles with the authority of the true God, magic was thought to be based on a pact with demons.16 According to Augustine, Christianity had revealed the fraud of demons and freed humans from their oppression.17 Thus, it comes as no surprise that, as an essential part of the invective against the unnamed senator, the writer of Carmen contra paganos accuses him of “magic arts” and his widow of “magic incantations,” or that Prudentius in Contra orationem Symmachi weaves together soothsaying, the prophecies of Sibyl, astrology, and magic. In the preceding verses, Prudentius has depicted a contrast between the single and straight path (simplex via) of the Christian God and of the manifold (multiplex) way of the demon. The demon cheats, among other things, with soothsaying, obscurities of the Sibyl (bacchantis anus ambage Sibyllae), and astrology, and drives to practice magic arts (magicas inpellit in artes).18 In one of his recently discovered sermons dated to 404, Augustine separates pagans into two classes, that is, into those who rely on philosophy and those who practice magical arts.19 He proclaims that even pagans acknowledge the need for salvation through divine grace and sacraments. They just look for this salvation in the wrong way, Augustine asserts. According to Augustine, humans think that the soul, which wants to reach God, “could be purged by magical arts” (per magicas artes posse purgari) and by setting up sacrilegious rites (sacra sacrilega) in temples. These promised a purge by sacrileges (purgationem promittunt sacrilegis).20 Augustine states that all these things are no longer practiced in public (publice fieri destiterunt) because of the public laws in the name of Christ. Here 14

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E.g., Tert. Spect. t 8.7; 10.6; 10.10; Tert. Apoll. 29.1. The Greco-Roman cults are diaboli ecclesia, the congregation of the devil, and daemoniorum conventus, the gathering of demons. Orig. c. Cels. 2.49–51; Aug. Divers. quaest. t 79.1–4. Daimons/demons – good, wicked, or ambivalent – were part of the Greco-Roman world view, and Christians adopted the term but provided it with an entirely negative meaning. For the transformation of the concept daimons/demons, see, e.g., Kahlos, Debate and Dialogue, e 173–4; Gordon, “Imagining Greek and Roman Magic,” 228–9; Klostergaard Petersen, “The Notion of Demon,” 24–6; Zintzen, “Geister,” 640–68. Aug. Civ. 7.33–4; 9.15; 10.9. Prud. c. Symm. 2.889–90: Multiplici dux daemon adest, qui parte sinistra / centifidum confundit iter. r For the sermon, see Lepelley, “L’aristocratie lettrée païenne,” 327–42 and Graf, “Augustine and Magic,” 98–100. Aug. sermo 62.28 Dolbeau: ... ut videretur hominibus per magicas artes posse purgari animam quae ad deum vult pervenire, instituit sacra sacrilega in templis, quae purgationem promittunt sacrilegis.

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Augustine obviously refers to the imperial legislation of Theodosius I and his sons that forbade many polytheistic cult practices. Furthermore, he declares that previously some of these practices had been public practices  – as if they were public magic (cum fuissent quaedam eorum tamquam magica publica).21 Augustine thus equates the public practices of Greco-Roman cults  – formerly an essential part of civic life in Mediterranean communities  – with magic. For him, they had merely been magic practiced in public  – magica publica. Then Augustine mentions that now these previously public practices are performed in the same manner as private magic was formerly performed – in secret (occulte).22 Here the bishop refers to the earlier prohibitions of private practices from the early imperial period onward:  private practices were often perceived as magic and from time to time were forbidden as such by the Roman administrators. Private practices such as private divination were also a great concern for the emperors who aimed at building the imperial monopoly on knowledge.23 Augustine also admits that the previously public, now forbidden, practices have gone underground but are still performed. Modern scholars have often interpreted this mention of magic as an attack specifically targeted at theurgy.24 However, it actually constitutes a part of Augustine’s wider offensive against what he perceived as a whole entity, that of paganism.25 Augustine also elaborated the difference between their religion and the rivals’ magic by distinguishing between public and private aspirations. In On Different Questions, he uses the biblical account of Moses and the Egyptian magicians (Exod. 7:8–8:15) to illustrate his distinction between the men 21

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Aug. sermo 62.28 Dolbeau: ... quae quidem omnia in nomine Christi iam sublata publicis legibus publice fieri destiterunt, cum fuissent quaedam eorum tamquam magica publica. Aug. sermo 62.28 Dolbeau: Sed sicut antea magica privata, sic modo ista occulte fiunt, posteaquam prohibita sunt publice fieri.i Augustine also mentions the old Roman distinction between public and private rituals in On the Divination of Demons (2.5). For the attitudes toward magic in the early imperial period, see Kahlos, “Magic and the Early Church.” For the imperial aspiration for the monopoly on knowledge, see Fögen, Die Enteignung der Wahrsager, r 254–89. Defining theurgy is not less problematic and controversial than defining magic. Many Christian writers made polemical assaults against theurgy, labelling theurgical practices and doctrines as magic. This label has remained attached to theurgy until recently. For an excellent survey on the longevity of this magic label, see Knipe, “Recycling the Refuse-Heap of Magic,” 337–45. For reappraisals, see Janowitz, Icons of Power, r 13, and Drake, “Afterword,” 232, who sums up: “once the pejorative rhetoric attached by Christians is stripped away, theurgists were seeking the same experience Christians sought through their liturgy.” Discussed also by Garnsey and Humfress, The Evolution of the Late Antique World, d 160, who speak of Augustine’s historicization of theurgy, pagan worship, and magic and correctly interpret his attack as a more ambitious “onslaught on the whole edifice of pagan belief systems.”

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of God, who perform genuine miracles, and magicians, who achieve mere tricks. The men of God seek the good of their community and God’s glory while magicians pursue only their own benefit and glory. Augustine condenses the difference into the words diverso fine et diverso iure, with diverse ends and diverse authority.26 Finally, the achievements of God’s men and of the magicians are based on divergent authority. Magicians work on the basis of private contracts with demons, but good Christians perform miracles on the basis of public righteousness (magi per privatos contractus, boni christiani per publicam iustitiam).27

The Label of Magic Attached to Heresies The label of magic was also used in ecclesiastical disputes as can be seen, for instance, in the infamous case raised against Priscillian, the bishop of Avila, and his followers. A number of Hispanian bishops, Hydatius of Merida and Ithacius of Ossonuba among them, accused him of association with incantations, obscenity, magic, and Manichaeism. Priscillian’s activities and teachings were discussed in church councils, for example, in the Council of Saragossa in 380. Finally, the case was consigned to the imperial court of Magnus Maximus, where Priscillian was questioned and forced to make the confession that he studied obscene doctrines, held nocturnal meetings with shameful women, and prayed while naked. Consequently, he was charged with practicing magic (maleficium) and convicted to death in 385.28 26

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Aug. Divers. quaest. 79.1–4. The confrontation between Moses and the Egyptian magicians is also found in Aug. Civ. 10.8 in which Augustine construes a dichotomy between the pharaoh’s magicians acting with sorcery and incantations, and Moses acting only in the name of God and with the help of the angels (“Illi enim faciebant veneficiis et incantationibus magicis, quibus sint mali angeli, hoc est daemones, dediti; Moyses autem tanto potentius, quanto iustius, nomine Dei, qui fecit caelum et terram, servientibus angelis eos facile superavit.”). t Aug. Divers. quaest. 79.1–4. For the difference construed between religion as a public system of signs and magic as a private system based on communion with demons, see also Aug. Doctr. 2.23.36. Markus, Signs and Meanings, 131–2; Graf, “Augustine and Magic,” 93–4; Kahlos, Debate and Dialogue, e 110–11. Sulp. Sev. Chron. 2.50.8 (CSEL L 1, ed. C. Halm): “Is Priscillianum gemino iudicio auditum convictumque maleficii nec diffitentem obscenis se studuisse doctrinis, nocturnos etiam turpium feminarum t 1–2 (liber ad Damasum) (CSEL L 18, ed. egisse conventus nudumque orare solitum”; Priscill. Tract. G. Schepss); Canons of the Council of Saragossa (PL L 84, col. 315–18). It is worth noting that Ambrose of Milan and Martin of Tours disapproved of the Hispanian bishops who consigned Priscillian to the court of Emperor Maximus. For Priscillian and the charges c 79–98; Van of magic, see Chadwick, Priscillian of Avila, 138–48; Burrus, Making of a Heretic, Dam, Leadership and Community in Late Antique Gaul,l 88–106; Girardet, “Trier 385,” 577–608; Breyfogle, “Magic, Women, and Heresy in the Late Empire,” 435–54; Escribano Paño, “Heretical Texts,” 126.

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In this incident, the rivalry for authority between Priscillian and the other Hispanian bishops is apparent: Priscillian with his activities and teachings clearly challenged the authority of other ecclesiastical leaders. More or less vague rumors and slandering of the shameful and treacherous were interwoven:  nocturnal, thus secret, gatherings, sexual promiscuity, heresy, Manichaean influences, nakedness, and incantations. For example, nocturnal gatherings had traditionally been regarded with suspicion and associated with conspiracy in Roman society and even forbidden in Roman legislation. Sexual promiscuity was a recurrent way of defamation against rival religious groups and philosophical schools. In their polemic, mainstream Christian writers linked Manichaeism closely with magic. In Greco-Roman antiquity as well as in the Christian thought world, praying naked was often associated with strong ritual powers.29 After Priscillian’s death, his followers were also associated with magic; for instance, the writings of Priscillianists were seen as containing “the criminal and sacrilegious knowledge of magical incantations” (“magicorum carminum flagitiosam ac sacrilegam scientiam continebant”). Even the term Priscillianism could be applied against rival Christian groups when the need arose.30 Heresy and magic were also associated with each other in a decree issued against Eunomians in 398, under the reign of Emperor Arcadius. In the imperial decree, the writings of Eunomians were compared with magical books. The mere possession of Eunomian books was paralleled with holding harmful books of illegal magic (“velut noxiorum codicum et maleficii crimine conscriptorum”), for which the death penalty was decreed. The codices of their crime were to be immediately burned.31 In Roman law, magical books were condemned to be destroyed by burning.32 According to María Victoria Escribano Paño, this was the first time that a Christian sect, branded as heretical, was associated with magic in imperial legislation. Here again, 29

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For these elements, see Humfress, Orthodoxy and the Courts in Late Antiquity, 244–7; Burrus, Making of a Hereticc, 48–9; Breyfogle,“Magic,Women, and Heresy in the Late Empire,” 444–5; Chadwick, Priscillian of Avila, 18, 140. E.g., Consentius ad Augustinum, in Aug. Epist. t 11* Divjak (in 418–19):  “ex ipsis libris, qui magicorum carminum flagitiosam ac sacrilegam scientiam continebant.” t Burrus, Making of a Heretic, c 115–22; Escribano Paño, “Heretical Texts,” 136; Humfress, “Roman Law,” 138–9. CTh 16.5.34.1: “Codices sane eorum scelerum omnium doctrinam ac materiam continentes summa sagacitate mox quaeri ac prodi exerta auctoritate mandamus sub aspectibus iudicantum incendio mox cremandos. Ex quibus si qui forte aliquid qualibet occasione vel fraude occultasse nec prodidisse convincitur, sciat se velut noxiorum codicum et maleficii crimine conscriptorum retentatorem capite esse plectendum.” Paul. Sent. 5.23.18. For the destruction of magical books, see Speyer, Büchervernichtung, g 130–3; Rives, “Magic in Roman Law,” 332; Herrin, “Book Burning as Purification,” 209; Marasco, “L’accusa di magia,” 375, 379–80.

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accusations of magic arose in a situation of rivalry:  the Eunomians were considered a political threat to Eutropius, the praepositus sacri cubicula, whose faction led the imperial court.33 Another imperial decree that put heresy on a par with magic is the one Theodosius II issued in 435. The emperor proclaims that the sect of Nestorius should be called Simonians because of their imitation of the crimes of Simon in forsaking God.34 The decree linked Nestorians with magic by connecting them with the more or less mythical figure Simon the Samaritan, who had been depicted as the performer of magic both in the canonical Acts of the Apostles (8:5–25) and in the apocryphal Acts of Peter and had been consolidated as the arch-heretic Simon Magus in the subsequent Christian tradition. Here again, the rivalry is apparent:  Nestorius’s main opponent, Cyril of Alexandria, who eventually came off victorious in the Nestorian controversy and probably influenced the imperial legislation against Nestorians, also accused Nestorius of having practiced the “mockeries of magic” (magikes empaigmata).35 Charges hurled against a Syrian bishop, Sophronius of Tella, at the Second Council of Ephesus in 449 show that the label of magic and Nestorianism functioned as double artillery. Sophronius was accused not only of “the miserable doctrine of Nestorius,” but also of participating in “the table of devils,” the numerical computation of astrology, divination, and the “vaticinative art of the pagans.”36 The accusations against Paulinus, bishop of Dacia (or Adana), may also have been connected with ecclesiastical power struggles: he is mentioned as having been charged with being a sorcerer (maleficus) and his magical books were burned by Macedonius, the bishop of Mopsuestia. The contacts of Ossius of Cordoba with this Paulinus were also used by Ossius’s ecclesiastical rivals to tar Ossius.37 33

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Escribano Paño, “Heretical Texts,” 109, 129–32, suggests that the legal precedent for CTh 16.5.34 was Pauline Sententiae 5.23.18 in which the penalty of the possession of libri magicae artis was mentioned. CTh 16.5.66: “sic ubique participes nefariae sectae Nestorii Simoniani vocentur, ut, cuius scelus sunt in deserendo deo imitati, eius vocabulum iure videantur esse sortiti.” i Cyril. Alex. sermo 6 (ACO 1.1.2, 103). The Syrian Acts of the “Robber” Council of Ephesus, ed. and trans. Perry, 190–7. Sophronius’s activities are said to have included divination by means of bread and cheese and a bowl filled with water and oil as well as eggs. Peterson, “Die geheimen Praktiken,” 333–45; Luck, “Witches and Sorcerers,” 155–6. Hilar. Pict. Collectanea Antiariana Parisina Frag. Hist. A IV 1.27 (CSEL L 65, ed. Feder): “quod convixerit in Oriente cum sceleratis ac perditis. Turpiter namque Paulino quondam episcopo Daciae individuus amicus fuit, homini, qui primo maleficus fuerit accusatus et de ecclesia pulsus usque in hodiernum diem in apostasia permanens cum concubinis publice et meretricibus fornicetur, cuius maleficiorum libros Machedonius episcopus atque confessor a Mobso combussitt.” For the charges, see

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The Label of Magic Attached to Political Adversaries Political, religious, and personal rivalries were intertwined in late antique disputes in which the label of magic functioned as a convenient handle for undermining the credibility of an opponent. Allegations of magic were often hurled, not only by senators, courtiers, and bishops against their political and ecclesiastical rivals, but also by emperors against persons they regarded as a threat to their own power.38 For example, Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, was denigrated by his adversaries for using an amputated hand from the corpse of a deceased bishop for magical purposes and, according to Ammianus Marcellinus, for illicit divination and “other practices abhorrent to the religion over which he presided.”39 A  similar politically motivated case is found during the reign of Constantine as a Neoplatonic philosopher Sopater, who was involved in the power struggles of the imperial court, was charged with putting the corn supply for Constantinople at risk by binding favorable winds with magical tricks. Emperor Constantine had him executed.40 Rumors and denigrations sometimes led to criminal proceedings. Ammianus Marcellinus tells us about a number of magic trials under the emperors Valentinian I and Valens, in Rome and in Antioch.41 Charges of maleficium were investigated and pursued under the laws of treason.42 These magic trials give one an impression of an increasing number of magic activities during the fourth century. However, as Peter Brown has correctly argued, these trials hardly indicated any particular boom of unsanctioned practices

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Escribano Paño, “Heretical Texts,” 125–6. For the place of bishopric, see Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius, 74, who regards Dacia as the correct one. For the political instrumentalization of magic accusations, see Gordon and Marco Simón, “Introduction,” 12–13; Escribano Paño, “Heretical Texts,” 123–5. Socr. Eccl. 1.27.18; Sozom. Eccl. 2.25.8; 4.10.5; Amm. 15.7.7–10. For the case of Athanasius, see Barnes, Athanasius and Constantius, 166–7; Escribano Paño, “Heretical Texts,” 125. Eunap. v. Soph. 6.2.10 Wright 384. Boethius faced a similar politically motivated charge in the sixth century: Boeth. De cons. 1.4.36–7; see Rousseau, “The Death of Boethius,” 871–89. Amm. 26.4.4; 28.1.8; 28.1.50; 29.1.41 (books were burned); 29.2.3–4 (libraries were burned to save their owners from charges); 30.5.11. The trials of magic are historical but one should also interpret Ammianus as composing a great narrative with literary topoii such as tyranny and entertaining the reader with heroes and villains. Ammianus’s sense of drama is apparent in his statement that “at that time we all crept about as if in Cimmerian darkness” (29.2.4). For the magic trials during the reigns of Valentinian I and Valens, see Lenski, Failure of Empire, e 25–6, 105–6, 211–13; Wiebe, Kaiser Valens, 86–223; Matthews, The Roman Empire of Ammianus, 210–25; Funke, “Majestäts- und Magieprozesse,” 165–75. Wiebe, Kaiser Valens, 86–168, interpreted the magic trials as directed against pro-Julianic “pagan opposition.” Against Wiebe’s view, Lenski, Failure of Empiree, 226–8, 213, argues that the trials “hardly bent on the destruction of a religion.”

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that were called magic, but they rather reveal an increasing unease of the rulers, as well as their need to control sources of knowledge and eliminate political rivals in their power struggles. Therefore, it is more appropriate to see magic trials as indicating emperors’ fears of magic rather than taking the increase of unsanctioned practices at face value. As I mentioned earlier in my discussion on definitions, magic becomes real in the sense that belief in its existence is real and influences human actions. Hence at least the fears of the emperors and the ruling elite were real; the unsanctioned practices may have been either real or imagined.43

Magic and Legislation Magic was a great concern for the fourth-century Christian emperors who outlawed maleficium, malign magic performed to harm other people.44 In late antique legislation maleficium was classified as the third gravest crime after high treason (crimen maiestatis) and murder (homicidium).45 The label of magic thus was by no means harmless and private rituals such as private divination were continuously at risk of falling into the category of forbidden magical practices.46 Since the early imperial period, emperors aimed at controlling the knowledge of the future and consequently tried to restrain private divination they believed to be connected with conspiracy and treason.47 Magic was a term that was vague enough and capable of covering many different activities. Which of the specific rituals that fell under the umbrella of magic depended on the interpretations of the administrators. As discussed earlier, the charge of magic could be directed against religious rivals, for

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Brown, “Sorcery, Demons and the Rise of Christianity,” 25–6, interprets magic accusations as arising from conflicts between groups in social buffer zones, demi-mondes “in the wide sense,” such as the circus factions, parties at the imperial courts, and the sections with the church. E.g., CTh 9.16.9 (in 371); 9.16.10 (in 371); 9.38.4 (in 368). Escribano Paño, “Heretical Texts,” r 122; Fögen, Diee Enteignung der Wahrsager, 38. CTh 9.38.7 (in 384); also 9.38.3 (in 367); 9.38.4 (in 368). Escribano Paño, “Heretical Texts,” 123. Whereas in republican Rome divination was regarded as distinct from activities deemed magic, during the imperial period, private divination, astrology, and Chaldean practices were gradually associated with magic and those carrying out such rituals risked banishment and even execution; see, e.g., Senatus consultum of 17 CE: “mathematicis, Chaldaeis, ariolis et ceteris, qui simile inceptum fecerunt.” t Coll. Mos. et Rom. legg. 15.2.1; Graf, “Augustine and Magic,” 89; Dickie, “Magic in the Roman Historians,” 94. For attempts at gaining the imperial monopoly on knowledge, see Fögen, Die Enteignung der Wahrsager, r 254–89.

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instance, in the case of Priscillian, and in imperial legislation, the possession of heretical books was compared with that of magical books. Pagan practices were not forbidden under the category of magic in the late imperial legislation.48 However, many decrees referring to another ambiguous concept, superstitio, could be interpreted and directed against different kinds of practices, whether formerly public or private, sanctioned or unsanctioned.49 On the mental map of both ecclesiastical elites and the gradually Christianizing imperial administration, not only were different divinatory practices and astrology packed with magic into a single parcel, but also polytheistic cults and those Christian sects that rivaled Nicene Christianity were more or less loosely associated with magic. Discussions on nocturnal practices illustrate the ambiguities in late Roman attitudes and legislation. Nighttime rituals had already been associated with promiscuity, magical practices, and human sacrifice in republican Rome, as the Bacchanalia affair in the second century BCE shows.50 During the early empire, Christian groups had their share of this label.51 In Greco-Roman and Christian literature alike, nocturnal rituals were an abomination.52 Secret nocturnal sacrifices had been prohibited even in the republic and the early empire.53 In the manner of their non-Christian predecessors, Christian emperors treated nighttime rites with the same suspicion as private and secret practices. In 364 Valens and Valentinian I forbade nocturnal rituals along with maleficent prayers, magical devices, and injurious sacrifices.54 This prohibition might be the same law directed against nocturnal sacrifices that Zosimus mentions in his account on the Roman senator Praetextatus. Praetextatus 48

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As McLynn stresses, pagan practices and magic were collected under entirely separate headings by the compilers of the Theodosian Codee (“Pagans in a Christian Empire,” 575–6). For the concept of superstitio in the Theodosian Codee, see Salzman, “Superstitio,” 177–83; see Salzman, “Superstitio,” 181, on “the usefulness of the ambiguities created by the definitions of the term superstitio as divination, magic, or paganism.” See also Sandwell, “Outlawing ‘Magic’ or Outlawing ‘Religion?’” 90, 122–3, who stresses that “the ambiguity caused some unexpected outcomes” in the way that the administration dealt with pagan practices. The famous inscription ILS S 18 displays the senatorial measures taken against the Bacchic cult. Livy’s account (39.8–14) on the Bacchanalia scandal for its part tells us about the first-century BCE attitudes, reflecting suspicions of secret and nocturnal rites (occultorum et nocturnorum ... sacrorum). For the Bacchanalia affair, see Pailler, Bacchanalia, 151–93. E.g., Celsus in Orig. Cels. 1.7; 8.17; Minuc. Oct. 10.2. E.g., Cic. Leg. 2.9.21 on secret nocturnal practices; Aug. Div. daem. 2.5 on “things that are done in the night” (quod ... nocturno fit tempore). e Paul. Sent. 5.23.14–19 (FIRA II, 409–10); Dig. 48.8.3. CTh 9.16.7:  Ne quis deinceps nocturnis temporibus aut nefarias preces aut magicos apparatus aut sacrificia funesta celebrare conetur. Detectum enim atque convictum competenti animadversione mactari perenni auctoritate censemus.

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appealed to Valentinian and convinced the emperor to make an exemption for Achaea. In his appeal the senator explained that the prohibition would make life intolerable for the Hellenes because then they could not celebrate the most holy mysteries that tied humankind together with a divine bond.55 Praetextatus’s case shows that prominent individuals could influence how laws were interpreted on the local level.

Concluding Remarks This chapter has aimed to contextualize late antique magic accusations. Each case has its specific historical characteristics, but several similarities can be outlined. The label of magic was one polemical tool among multiple rhetorical strategies used against rival religious groups. However, magic was not the only slander but rival groups, rituals, and texts could also be branded as superstitious, idolatrous, pagan, heretic, Manichaean, and barbarian. Common to all these labels is that they were all vague and versatile, capable of embracing a great number of distinct activities and therefore very useful. Thus, late antique magic needs to be interpreted as functioning as a discourse, most often in the context of polemic and in competition for spiritual authority between ritual specialists. As I mentioned in the beginning, magic as such does not exist but it becomes real in the sense that belief in its existence is real and affects human decisions and actions. Thus magic is both real – to the extent that people believe in and practice it – and a social construct  – to the extent that people believe in and practice it.56 People make the concepts real. Magic and magician were labels usually applied from outside.57 Therefore, it is apposite to end with Graf ’s remark: “It is a well-known procedure, already pointed out by Tylor for ethnological cultures or for nineteenth-century 55

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Zos. 4.3.2–3. Zosimus does not name the mysteries, but it is probable that he means the Eleusinian mysteries; the law would have had a particular effect on them. For Zosimus’s account, see Kahlos, Praetextatus, 83–4, with bibliography. The formulation comes from Stratton, Naming the Witch, 11–12. As early as the early twentieth century, Mauss understood magic as a social phenomenon (General Theory of Magic, c 147–50). People did not usually apply the terms magic and magician to themselves. They rather used all the argumentation available to defend against that label. However, some ritual experts i (e.g., Babylonian rabbis and a number of practitioners in the so-called Greek Magical Papyri) nonetheless viewed themselves as magicians and their art as magic, usually in a positive sense. Some ritual experts seem to have deliberately engaged in unsanctioned practices that they saw as subversive and magical, thus transgressing intentionally the societal religious norms. See Smith, “Trading Places,” 18; Stratton, Naming the Witch, xi, 15; Janowitz, Icons of Powerr, xii; Ogden, “Binding Spells,” 84, 86.

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Swedes who called the magicians ‘Finns;’ the Finns, in turn, called them ‘Lapponians;’ the same holds true for Mesopotamian sources where the witches are ladies from the ‘West.’ Magicians are always the others, not us.”58

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Girardet, K. M. “Trier 385. Der Prozess gegen die Priszillianer.” Chiron 4 (1974): 577–608. Repr. in Klaus M. Girardet. Kaisertum, Religionspolitik und das Recht von Staat und Kirche in der Spätantike (Bonn, 2009), 419–54. Gordon, R. “Imagining Greek and Roman Magic,” in Valerie Flint, Richard Gordon, George Luck, and Daniel Ogden, eds., Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: Ancient Greece and Rome (London, 1999): 161–269. Gordon, R. and F. Marco Simón. “Introduction,” in Richard L. Gordon and Francisco Marco Simón, eds., Magical Practice in the Latin West (Leiden, 2010), 1–49. Graf , F. “Excluding the Charming: The Development of the Greek Concept of Magic,” Marvin Meyer and Paul Mirecki, eds., Ancient Magic and Ritual Power (Leiden, 1995): 29–42. “How to Cope with a Difficult Life. A View of Ancient Magic,” in Peter Schäfer and Hans G. Kippenberg, eds., Envisioning Magic (Leiden, 1997): 93–114. “Augustine and Magic,” in Jan N. Bremmer and Jan R.Veenstra, eds., The Metamorphosis of Magic from Late Antiquity to the Early Modern Period (Leuven, 2002), 87–103. Herrin, J.“Book Burning as Purification,” in Philip Rousseau and Emmanuel Papoutsakis, eds., Transformations of Late Antiquity: Essays for Peter Brown (Aldershot, 2009), 205–22. Hoffman, C. A. “Fiat Magia,” in Paul Mirecki and Marvin Meyer, eds., Magic and Ritual in the Ancient World (Leiden, 2002), 179–94. Humfress, C. “Roman Law, Forensic Argument and the Formation of Christian Orthodoxy (III-VI Centuries),” in Susanna Elm, Éric Rebillard, and Antonella Romano, eds., Orthodoxie, Christianisme, histoire (Rome, 2000): 125–47. Orthodoxy and the Courts in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 2007). Hutton, R. “Anthropological and Historical Approaches to Witchcraft:  Potential for a New Collaboration?” The Historical Journal 47, no. 2 (2004): 413–34. Janowitz, N. Icons of Power: Ritual Practices in Late Antiquity (University Park, PA, 2002). Kahlos, M. Vettius Agorius Praetextatus: Senatorial Life in Between (Rome, 2002). Debate and Dialogue: Christian and Pagan Cultures, c. 360–430 (Aldershot, 2007). “Introduction,” in Maijastina Kahlos, ed., The Faces of the Other: Religious Rivalry and Ethnic Encounters in the Later Roman World (Turnhout, 2012), 1–15. “Magic and the Early Church,” in David J. Collins, ed., The Cambridge History of Magic and Witchcraft in the West: From Antiquity to the Present (Cambridge, 2015), 148–82. Klostergaard Petersen, A. “The Notion of Demon:  Open Questions to a Diffuse Concept,” in Armin Lange, Hermann Lichtenberger, and K. F. Diethard Römheld, eds., Die Dämonen. Die Dämonologie der israelitisch-jüdischen und frühchristlichen Literatur im Kontext ihrer Umwelt (Tübingen, 2003), 23–41. Knipe, S. “Recycling the Refuse-Heap of Magic: Scholarly Approaches to Theurgy since 1963.” CrSt 31 (2009): 337–45. Lenski, N. Failure of Empire:  Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century AD (Berkeley, 2002). Lepelley, C.“L’aristocratie lettrée païenne: une menace aux yeux d’Augustin,” in Goulven Madec, ed., Augustin le prédicateur (395–411) (Paris, 1998), 327–42. Luck, G. “Witches and Sorcerers in Classical Literature,” in Valerie Flint, Richard Gordon, George Luck, and Daniel Ogden, eds., Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: Ancient Greece and Rome (London, 1999), 93–158. Marasco, G. “L’accusa di magia e i cristiani nella tarda antichità.” Augustinianum 51, no. 2 (2011): 367–421.

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Markus, R. A. Signs and Meanings: World and Text in Ancient Christianity (Liverpool, 1996). Matthews, J. The Roman Empire of Ammianus (London, 1989). Mauss, M. A General Theory of Magic, trans. Robert Brain (London, 2001) (French orig. 1902). McLynn, N. “Pagans in a Christian Empire,” in Philip Rousseau, ed., A Companion to Late Antiquity (Oxford, 2009): 572–87. Meyer, M. and P. Mirecki. “Introduction,” in Marvin Meyer and Paul Mirecki, eds., Ancient Magic and Ritual Power (Leiden, 1995): 1–10. Meyer, M. and R. Smith. “Introduction,” in Marvin Meyer, Richard Smith, and Neal Kelsey, eds., Ancient Christian Magic:  Coptic Texts of Ritual Power (Princeton, 1999): 1–9. Neusner, J. “Introduction,” in J. Neusner, E. Frerichs, S. Flesher, and P.V. McCraken, eds., Religion, Science, and Magic: In Concert and in Conflict (New York, 1989): 3–7. Ogden, D. “Binding Spells: Curse Tablets and Voodoo Dolls in the Greek and Roman Worlds,” in Valerie Flint, Richard Gordon, George Luck, and Daniel Ogden, eds., Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: Ancient Greece and Rome (London, 1999), 1–90. Pailler, J.-M. Bacchanalia. La repression de 186 av. J.-C. à Rome et en Italie (Rome, 1988). Perry, S. G.  F. The Syrian Acts of the “Robber” Council of Ephesus in the Second Synod of Ephesus Together with Certain Extracts Relating to It (Dartford, 1881). Peterson, E. “Die geheimen Praktiken eines syrischen Bischofs,” in E. Peterson,ed., Frühkirche, Judentum und Gnosis. Studien und Untersuchungen (Rome, 1959), 333–45. Phillips, C. R. III. “Nullum Crimen sine Lege: Socio-religious Sanctions on Magic,” in Christopher Faraone and Dirk Obbink, eds., Magika Hiera: Ancient Greek Magic and Religion (New York, 1991), 260–81. Remus, H. “‘Magic,’ Method, Madness.” Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 11 (1999): 258–98. Ricks, S. D. “The Magician as Outsider in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament,” in Marvin Meyer and Paul Mirecki, eds., Ancient Magic and Ritual Power (Leiden, 1995), 131–43. Ritner, R. K. “The Religious, Social, and Legal Parameters of Traditional Egyptian Magic,” in Marvin Meyer and Paul Mirecki, eds., Ancient Magic and Ritual Power (Leiden, 1995), 43–60. Rives, J. B. “Magic in Roman Law: The Reconstruction of a Crime.” Classical Antiquity 22 (2003): 313–39. Rousseau, P. “The Death of Boethius. The Charge of Maleficium.” Studi Medievali 20 (1979): 871–89. Salzman, M. R. “Superstitio in the Codex Theodosianus and the Persecution of Pagans.” VC 41 (1987): 172–88. Sandwell, I. “Outlawing ‘Magic’ or Outlawing ‘Religion’? Libanius and the Theodosian Code as Evidence for Legislation against ‘Pagan’ Practices,” in W.V. Harris, ed., The Spread of Christianity in the First Four Centuries: Studies in Explanation (Leiden, 2005), 87–123. Schäfer, P. “Magic and Religion in Ancient Judaism,” in Peter Schäfer and Hans G. Kippenberg, eds., Envisioning Magic (Leiden, 1997), 19–43. Segal, A. “Hellenistic Magic: Some Questions of Definition,” in R. van den Broek and M. J.Vermaseren, eds., Studies in Gnosticism and Hellenistic Religions Presented to Gilles Quispel on the Occasion of his 65th Birthday (Leiden, 1981), 349–75.

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Smith, J. Z. “Trading Places,” in Marvin Meyer and Paul Mirecki, eds., Ancient Magic and Ritual Power (Leiden, 1995), 13–27. Speyer, W. Büchervernichtung und Zensur des Geistes bei Heiden, Juden und Christen (Stuttgart, 1981). Stratton, K. B. Naming the Witch:  Magic, Ideology, and Stereotype in the Ancient World (New York, 2007). Van Dam, R. Leadership and Community in Late Antique Gaul (Berkeley, 1985). Versnel, H. S. “Some Reflections on the Relationship Magic-Religion.” Numen 38 (1991): 177–97. Wiebe, F. J. Kaiser Valens und die heidnische Opposition (Bonn, 1995). Zintzen, C. “Geister (Dämonen): B.III.c. Hellenistische und kaiserzeitliche Philosophie.” RAC IX (Stuttgart, 1976): 640–68.

7

CROWD BEHAVIOR IN LATE ANTIQUE ROME Daniëlle Slootjes

Crowds are everywhere. In all stratified societies, past and present, crowds have appeared, and continue to appear, especially in urban contexts where crowds’ emergence can be regarded as a prominent expression of public life. Crowd behavior is closely connected to many social, political, cultural, economic, and religious phenomena within urban contexts, and is of great interest to society’s leadership. Indeed, crowd management and control is of great importance to all authorities who deal with the organized or spontaneous activities of large gatherings of people.1 This contribution examines crowd behavior in late antique Rome.With a particular focus on Christianity and its influence on crowd behavior, I offer an analysis of ways modern methodology could be valuable for our understanding of crowd behavior in the late Roman world. To many modern scholars, the emergence of Christianity and its ability to become the sole religion of the Roman Empire and subsequent developments within the religious life of the inhabitants around the Mediterranean should be seen as one of the most important characteristics of late antiquity. That does not mean, however, that all institutions and societal phenomena in the Roman Empire were entirely submerged into and defined by Christianity as if the Roman world was Christianized in all its aspects. This chapter demonstrates how crowd behavior lends itself well for an analysis of an urban phenomenon in late antiquity that was, on one hand, affected by Christianity, but 1

This contribution presents one out a series of case studies connected to my larger research project “Urban Crowd Control in Pre-modern Europe, 500 BC–AD 1500.”

My sincere gratitude to the organizers and the participants of our pagans and Christians conference (Rome, September 2012) for their comments on my paper, and also to the students in my research seminar in the fall of 2012, for their contributions to our discussions on crowd behavior in the Roman world.

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that, on the other hand, was unaffected by religion, and in many instances even transcended religious influence. Most previous scholarship on crowd behavior in the Roman world has dealt with ancient crowds in a stereotypical way: it tended to focus on the Populus Romanus as a powerful representative of Rome’s population that was kept satisfied by “bread and circuses.”2 Roman authorities were sensitive toward the sentiments of the Roman people because, if the people were disgruntled, riots might break out that endangered the city’s or even the empire’s stability. Such a view of the Roman people, and thus of crowd behavior in the Roman world, is mainly based on fear of aggression and riots. In other words, it focuses on situations of potential crisis and on a relationship between rulers and subjects that was based on their polarization. In the following, I argue that it is time to step away from such clichés, as crowd behavior in ancient Rome should be seen more as a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that presents us with many more ingredients than unrest and potential violence. Furthermore, as the employment of modern sociological theories will demonstrate, we will be able to observe various levels of differentiation that will bring out individual behavior within crowds. Crowds should no longer be seen as large monolithic entities.

Terminology of Crowds A closer look at the terminology and definitions of ancient crowds shows that these are not as straightforward as one would hope. Both ancient authors and modern scholars tend to be vague in their use of terminology when they discuss crowd behavior and the activities of large gatherings of people in Rome. Often, they employ terms without explaining the specific identity of the collective, let alone of the individuals who together make up crowds. A brief look at the terminology in the ancient sources will illustrate this vagueness. In Latin sources, for instance, we find terms such as populus, plebs, multitudo, vulgo, or turba.3 The context of the passages in which these words emerge is crucial for an understanding of their meaning, especially of those that at first sight appear to have a similar meaning. For instance, populus and plebs could both be translated by “people,” but a closer look at the context of many passages shows the reader that the context is often quite different,

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Veyne, Le pain; Cameron, Circus Factions; Geatrex, “The Nika Riot”; Meier, “Inszenierung Katastrophe.” See the lemmata populus, plebs, multitudo, turba, and vulgo in the Thesaurus Linguae Latinaee for more general descriptions of the origins, meaning, and usage of these terms.

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which has consequences for the meaning of the words. Populus often seems to have a more neutral or even positive connotation to it, frequently appearing in a political context specifying the Roman people gathering, for instance, for the citizens’ assemblies during the republic, as representing the Roman populace in communication with its Roman emperor, or as described in laws.4 In this latter instance, ancient authors frequently use the term Populus Romanus as well. Plebs, to be translated with “people” as well, is likewise found in sociopolitical contexts, although there is a clear shift in the meaning of the word throughout the centuries of the Roman world. In particular in those texts that describe the Roman Republic, such as the earlier books of Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita, writers frequently used the word plebs to emphasize the distinction between plebeians and patricians. In this context in some instances there is the suggestion that the plebs can act rather emotionally, which leads later authors to a usage of the word plebs when the people are being portrayed as emotional, and subsequently as potentially uncontrollable.5 Similarly, one could demonstrate how the meaning of multitudo, vulgo, or turba, which we tend to translate as “crowd,” “mass,” or “mob,” depends on the context, if we categorize these words as expressing negative or positive crowd behavior. In other words, it is mostly the context that provides a suggestion for the meaning of the ancient terminology for crowd behavior. Apart from considering the context of the terminology of crowds, the different genres of literature and the motives of the ancient authors should be taken into account as well. As an illustration, an analysis of the way Tacitus described Tiberius’s reign in his Annales shows that Tacitus made use of the people or popular opinion to indirectly voice his own criticisms.6 In this way, the voice of the people has become a rhetorical device to Tacitus, and we need to take into account such devices when attempting to understand the historical role of the people in the Roman world. Modern scholars are equally if not more vague when they describe large gatherings of people in Rome, as they tend to use “people,” the “masses,” the “crowd,” but also plebs or populus without translating or defining these terms. What about the composition of crowds? Although to a certain extent for the individuals the purpose of being part of and acting within a crowd 4

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See, for instance, the works of Livy on the history of the Roman Republic, or Tacitus on the history of the early empire. For examples from the later period: Amm. 14.6.4; 16.10.2; CTh 16.10.3; 16.10.3; Symm., Rel. 6; Rel. 9; Rel. 10. Cf. Livy, 2.64.2 irata plebs. Later authors show numerous examples of an emotional plebs: Tac., Ann. 1.72, or Amm. 27.3.8. For instance, Tac., Ann. 3.5–6; 3.11. Ryberg, “Tacitus’ Art of Innuendo.”

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together was to remain anonymous, insights into crowds’ composition enhance our understanding of those crowds’ actions.Whereas ancient authors seldom explain their terminology, they also hardly ever clarify the composition of the people or the crowd that they have described. Modern scholars have shown more interest in explaining the composition of crowds, but have run into major difficulties when attempting to do this. Purcell, for instance, in trying to define the plebs urbana of Rome, came to the conclusion that it is quite difficult to give a precise definition because the population of Rome was in such flux all the time.7 Even though Purcell especially referred to the constant immigration and emigration of people in and out of Rome, which leads to a different makeup, quite literally, of the population of Rome, and thus of crowds when they gathered, similarly the composition of crowds was also different on every occasion because of the context and circumstances of those occasions. A crowd at the games in the Circus Maximus was different from a crowd gathered in the streets of Rome to protest high bread prices, not in the least because the streets of Rome did not lend themselves at all to crowds of the size that fit into the Circus Maximus.

Methodology and Crowds Crowd behavior represents a universal phenomenon that has caught the attention of scholars from many different fields outside of history, such as anthropology, sociology, or social psychology.8 These latter fields especially have sought to develop methodologies that are valuable for analyses of the behavior of large masses in many modern societies. Even though such analyses have been relatively young to the field of ancient history, they have proven valuable for our understanding of mass behavior.9 For instance, the work by Fagan, who recently sought to explain by way of theories from social psychology why large groups of people were present in the arena to witness violent entertainment and games in the early centuries of Roman imperial times, has shown how such theories can enhance our understanding, not only of ancient Roman phenomena, but also of our modern way of analyzing such phenomena.10 7

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Purcell, “Plebs Urbana.” Cf. Flaig, Kaiser herausfordern, 38; Horsfall, “Cultural horizons of the ‘Plebs Romana,’” 103; Aldrete, Gestures and Acclamations in Ancient Romee, 85–6. Canetti, Massee; Hobsbawm and Ranger, Invention of Tradition; Brown, Group Processes; Reicher, “The Psychology of Crowd Dynamics.” Cf. Purcell, “Populace of Rome in Late Antiquity,” 135; Slootjes, “Local Elites and Power in the Roman World.” Fagan, Lure of the Arena.

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Therefore, before turning to the influence of religion on crowd behavior in late antique Rome, the following methodological considerations are of interest, which are connected to two questions: (1) how to define a crowd, and (2) how to interpret the role of the individual within crowds. First, a crowd can be characterized as a gathering of a large number of individuals who have come together for a particular purpose. At times, the actions of a crowd can be motivated by both positive and negative sentiments in reaction to the daily affairs of the individuals who together make up that crowd. Here, I concur with Fagan in his definition: “crowds are a particular type of a group, defined by their large size and emotional volatility.”11 The actions of a crowd can be identified as “collective behavior,” a phenomenon that Vanderbroeck defined as follows in his study on collective behavior in the late republic: “collective behavior is every large gathering of people in which some action or reaction of the crowd is discernible.”12 In addition, in this study I distinguish between passive and active collective behavior, by which I consider the actions of crowds that can be regarded as reactions to incidents or situations that have occurred as passive collective behavior, and those actions that crowds initiated as active collective behavior. In other words, the people or the situations that prompt actual crowd behavior can be seen as the defining factor for that behavior to be active or passive. Furthermore, one might also recognize the distinction between organized or spontaneous collective behavior, as crowds would either come together in organized contexts such as entertainment or political rallies (during the republic) or spontaneously because a group of people had become angry and dissatisfied, for instance when there was a threat of grain shortage. The passive-active and the organized-spontaneous dichotomies are closely associated. Second, how should we understand the role of an individual who is part of a crowd? For a long time, the ideas of Le Bon, who wrote a monumental study about masses, have dominated, as he argued that individuals are always subordinate to the collective, which results in a rather primitive and barbaric character of crowds when individual responsibility is taken out of the configuration.13 Nowadays, sociologists acknowledge a much larger level of 11

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Fagan, Lure of the Arena, 88 and in particular n.19, where Fagan refers to the issue of the number of people needed to define a large gathering of people as a crowd: 100, 200, or even 1,000 people? Vanderbroeck, “Popular Leadership and Collective Behavior in the Late Roman Republic,” 15. Zie Fagan, Lure of the Arena, 81–93, for an excellent overview of modern scholarly discussions about masses and group processes. Also Brown, Group Processes; Reicher, “The Psychology of Crowd Dynamics.” Le Bon, psychologie des foules.

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responsibility of the individual when being a part of a mass.14 The notion of individual responsibility within crowds can be connected to the following ideas of Vanderbroeck, who made a distinction between the active part within a group of people, and a passive group of followers: In a crowd in which the participants cooperate to achieve shared objectives, i.e. a solidaristic crowd, a division of labor develops between the leaders, the active nucleus, and the spectators. Leaders mainly act as keynoters, i.e. they present a positive suggestion in an ambivalent frame of reference. Other leaders may implement these suggestions. By introducing symbols, for instance symbols with a negative connotation, leaders are able to manipulate the crowd into certain actions. Participation is differentiated. A distinction can be made between an active nucleus and spectators, who are more passive.15

The distinction between an active nucleus and passive bystanders offers a valuable instrument for a further differentiation of the behavior of individuals within a crowd.

Crowd Behavior in the Ancient Sources Are these modern theoretical concepts applicable to the ancient sources, and, perhaps even more important, does the application enhance our understanding of the functioning of crowds in late antique Rome? Even though an extensive discussion of the many ancient sources that refer to crowd behavior in late antiquity is beyond the scope of this chapter, the following case studies offer an initial demonstration of the applicability of the modern theories. The first example takes us to the second half of the fourth century, when Lucius Aurelius Avianius Symmachus Phosphorius (PLRE I, Symmachus 3), who had been praefectus urbi in 364–5, found himself in dire straits when an angry crowd acted violently at the expense of his house. Both his famous son Quintus Aurelius Symmachus Eusebius (PLRE I, Symmachus 4)  and Ammianus Marcellinus wrote about the incident in their works. Ammianus described it as follows:

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Killian and Turner, Collective Behavior; r applied to ancient history: Vanderbroeck, “Popular Leadership and Collective Behavior in the Late Roman Republic”; Flaig, Kaiser herausfordern, 38–92; Fagan, Lure of the Arena, 89. Vanderbroeck, “Popular Leadership and Collective Behavior in the Late Roman Republic,” r 15, basing his ideas on Killian and Turner, Collective Behavior.

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(3) However, long before this happened, Apronius was succeeded by Symmachus, a man worthy to be classed among the conspicuous examples of learning and moderation, through whose efforts the sacred city enjoyed an unusual period of quiet and prosperity, and prides itself on a handsome bridge, which Symmachus himself, by the decision of our mighty emperors, dedicated, and to the great joy of the citizens (et magna civium laetitia), who proved ungrateful, as the result most clearly showed. (4)  For after some years had passed, they set fire to Symmachus’s beautiful house in the Transtiberine district, spurred on by the fact that a common fellow among the plebeians had alleged (quod vilis quidam plebeius finxerat), without any informant or witness, that the prefect had said that he would rather use his own wine for quenching lime-kilns than sell it at the price which the people hoped for.16

Several points of interest emerge from this passage. First, Ammianus’s use of terminology to indicate the crowd that burned down the elder Symmachus’s house reflects a general distinction that Ammianus throughout his History seems to have made between the people in cities in their official and political position as citizens (mostly referred to as cives or populus by Ammianus) and the people as a representation of the lower classes, and subsequently of a more uncontrollable and potentially violent mass (often called plebs or vulgus). In this passage, when Ammianus described the people in their relationship to Avianius when he was the praefectus urbi, he thus employed the word cives because he was presenting the people within the official context of Roman government.17 When Ammianus continued the story, he employed the word plebeius, thereby switching to the context of the potential danger that the crowd’s behavior could pose, which became reality in its burning down of Avianius’s house. For our understanding of the passage, both the terminological distinction Ammianus made between cives and plebs or plebeius and the context of the passage should be noted. Second, in applying the ideas of spontaneous or organized collective behavior to the ancient sources, the event detailed in this particular passage would, in my opinion, classify as spontaneous collective behavior because the people who appeared to burn down the house were acting on a rumor from among one of them, which prompted their violent action. 16 17

Amm. 27.3.3–4. See also Rougé, “Une émeute à Rome au IV siècle.” For similar uses of the word cives in a political context, see, for instance, Amm. 19.10.1–4 (which is a notable passage as Ammianus describes the people as plebs, but has the city prefect address them as cives vestrii) or 28.6.6. It should be noted that Ammianus employs the word populus or populus Romanus more frequently to indicate the people in their official political capacity of citizens of the empire.

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Finally, Vanderbroeck’s distinction between an active nucleus within a crowd and a group of passive bystanders becomes visible in this passage. Even though a more precise identity than a “common fellow among the plebeians” (vilis quidam plebeius) is not given, obviously he is the instigator of the violent reaction, manipulating other people, that is, the passive bystanders, into that type of behavior. After his house was burned down, Avianius saw himself forced to flee the city. In the epistulae of his son, the well-known Symmachus, the follow-up of the story is told. After a while, the crowd began to feel regret about its actions and asked a delegation of the Senate to visit Avianius and ask him to return to the city, which he did in 375. Symmachus, for whom as a son of Avianius the entire episode must have been a frightful experience, wrote in one of his letters: “Our people changed for the better, so much that therefore punishment for the troublemakers was asked and that those who had shown excessive behavior had run away” (“In bonam partem plebs nostra mutata est, adeo ut igitur seditiosorum poena poscatur et iam terga dederint insolentes”).18 Again, this passage calls for an explanation of several issues related to crowd behavior. First, for an understanding of Symmachus’s use of the word plebs in this passage, perhaps a brief comparison with his use of plebs and of populus in his other work might shed some light. Whereas Ammianus often employed plebs in a more negative way to refer to the lower classes of the population with their potentially angry and uncontrollable outbursts in contrast with cives or populus, in Symmachus’s work plebs seems to be used in many instances where it has a more neutral meaning as an indication of a large part of the population of Rome. In his Relationes, for instance, there are several instances where plebs and populus both seem to refer to the populace of Rome, although it must be said that Symmachus used populus much more frequently than plebs.19 I would explain the frequent use of populus by taking into account the context and nature of the Relationes, which were documents Symmachus wrote to the emperor during his period as prefect of the city of Rome.20 Within the political context of Symmachus being city prefect and writing to the emperor about the state of affairs in the city, it seems no more than logical that he would employ a more political terminology when referring to the people, that is, populus or populus Romanus. The relatively close connection between plebs and populus in Symmachus’s

18 19

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Symm, Epist. 2.38. Cf. also Epist. 1.44. Symm., Rel. For plebs: Rel. 9.7 (devota plebs) and 23.11 (Romana plebs); for populus or populus Romanus: 6.1; 9.1; 9.2; 9.4; 9.5; 9.7; 9.8; 18.3. Barrow, Prefect and Emperor, r 15–17; Sogno, Political Biography.

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work is best illustrated by the following passage from Relatio 9, in which Symmachus wrote the emperor about the people’s reaction to ships of grain arriving in Rome, as the grain supply was an ongoing source of anxiety for the city prefects: I hopefully await still better things; you are going to send a royal fleet to augment with plentiful supplies of corn the free maintenance of a devoted people [devotae plebis]. This fleet senate and people [mixtus popolo senatus] together will welcome in the entrances to the Tiber.21

In this passage plebs appears to be used to describe the populace of Rome, and populus in a narrower political and traditional context of the Senatus populusque. To return to Symmachus’s description of the people exhibiting remorse after having burned down Avianus’s house, his use of the word plebs, including the addition of nostra, seems to fit the preceding description of its use in his other works. Clearly, these people had behaved terribly, but they had the common sense to regret their violence against Avianius’s house and to attempt to restore their wrongdoing. One might even argue that Symmachus’s usage of plebs nostra reflected that notion. Second, the type of collective behavior Symmachus outlines could be categorized as active and spontaneous. Even though he does not tell us what or who instigated the regret of the people, they took the initiative in acting that eventually resulted in the return of Avianius.22 The brief analyses of the passages from Ammianus and Symmachus demonstrate that modern theoretical concepts on collective behavior are applicable to the ancient sources. As said, the next, and more important, step is to make evident how these concepts improve or refine our insights into crowd behavior. In other words, why would we want to apply them? The application of these concepts offers, in my opinion, a new perspective on the way we, as modern scholars, so far have analyzed crowd behavior in the ancient world. The difference between spontaneous or organized collective behavior, the idea of crowds consisting of an active nucleus and passive bystanders offer new avenues for differentiation. No longer do we need to look at ancient crowds as anonymous masses of people who behaved as one monolithic body. Instead, the methodological concepts help us to distinguish between individual roles and collective actions. Clearly, the two passages examined here are merely two examples within an enormous amount of ancient source material waiting for more in-depth analyses. A systematic 21 22

Symm., Rel. 9.7 (trans. Barrow). Cf. Rougé, “Une émeute à Rome au IV siècle.”

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analysis and comparison of the many available ancient sources on crowd behavior will, no doubt, change our perceptions and notions of crowd behavior considerably to a much more nuanced view.

Christianity as a New Dimension to Crowd Behavior The acceptance of Christianity within the framework of both Roman imperial government and Roman society from Constantine the Great onward has led many scholars to characterize many, if not most, aspects of the Roman world as Christianized, with several outbursts of pagan opposition in the fourth century.23 If we are to analyze the late antique world as fully Christianized, what consequences does this Christianization have for our notions of crowd behavior? Does this religion add a new dimension to the manifestations of crowd behavior and to our understanding of that collective behavior? In what follows, I investigate if, and in what ways, Christianity influenced crowd behavior in late antique Rome. It is evident, that the emergence of Christianity caused a shift in the religious landscape of Rome, and offered opportunities for those in both religious and political positions of power to mobilize the Christian community for their own specific purposes. The organizational and hierarchical structures of the Christian churches in the fourth century lend themselves particularly well for a sense of collective identity within the growing Christian communities, both in Rome and in the other cities of the empire. An organized Christian community was a powerful unit that the imperial government had to take seriously.24 Simultaneously, control over such a community offered new avenues of controlling Rome’s population, both for the imperial government and for Christian leadership. A Christian crowd became a powerful instrument for bishops who were ambitious in their own struggle for a position of power. Within a city one could even identify a Christian community as a separate crowd within a larger crowd.25 In the ancient sources, Christian crowds become visible when they reacted in the context of religious issues or when they were mobilized for the Christian cause. Never before in Roman history had the Roman populace seen such a new and organized crowd within its own crowd, even though of course there had been smaller communities, for

23

24 25

One of the notions that Alan Cameron has tried to fight against in his latest book, The Last Pagans of Romee. See Eck, “Historische Zeitenwende”; Slootjes, “Bishops and Their Position of Power.” Cf. Herrmann-Otto, Ecclesia in Re Publica.

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instance, of foreigners or Jews, within the city of Rome or other larger cities in the empire, such as the famous Jewish community in Alexandria that had caused some trouble under the emperor Claudius.26 In his Historia Ecclesiastica, Eusebius showed awareness of the difference between his Christian community, often referred to by him as “our people,”27 and the community at large, mostly alluded to as “the Roman people” or the “Roman populace.” The latter would include the Christian community, although in some instances Eusebius seems to have used the term “Roman people” to differentiate between Christians and non-Christians.28 With the emergence of a Christian crowd, what is there to say about its behavior? Can a difference be detected in its collective behavior that can be regarded as the result of the religion? In recent years, religious crowds, and in particular religious violence of Christian crowds, have caught the attention of modern scholars.29 In the discussions about church dogma there are many instances when bishops of one position or ideology mobilized their own crowd against other bishops of other positions. In several instances the collective behavior of these crowds led to violent clashes that killed many people. Furthermore, appointments and succession of bishops seem to have initiated violence as well. In the Historia Ecclesiastica of Socrates Scholasticus, a description of the council of Rimini (Arminimum) of 358 is given, which was called together to resolve the Arrian controversy and which resulted in the writing up of a creed. In Rome, the outcome of the council led to a conflict at the bishops’ level: And first Liberius, bishop of Rome, having refused his assent to that creed, was sent into exile; the adherents of Ursacius appointing Felix to succeed him, who had been a deacon in that church, but on embracing the Arian heresy was elevated to the episcopate. Some however assert that he was not favorable to that opinion, but was constrained by force to receive the ordination of bishop. After this, all parts of the West were filled with agitation and tumult, some being ejected and banished, and others established in their stead. These things were affected by violence, on the authority of the imperial edicts, which were also sent into the eastern parts. Not long after indeed Liberius was recalled, and reinstated in his see; for the people

26

27 28

29

Cf. Noy, Foreigners at Romee; Sandwell, Religious Identity in Late Antiquity; Watts, Riot in Alexandria. For instance, for “our people” see Eus., HE E 8.1.2; 8.1.6; 8.6.6; 9.1.9. For instance, for the “Roman people” as distinct from the Christians see Eus., HE E 8.14.1; the Roman populace including the Christians, HE E 9.9.9; 9.9.11. Gaddis, No Crimee; Hahn, Spätantiker Staat. t

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of Rome having raised a sedition, and expelled Felix from their church, the emperor ( = Constantius II) even though against his wish consented.30

As far as terminology is concerned, it should be noted that to Socrates Scholasticus, born at the end of the fourth century and living well into the fifth century, and thus at a time when Christianity had obtained solid roots within the empire, the “people” or populus of a city, be it Rome, Constantinople, or Antioch, was always a Christian crowd. If he made a distinction, it was to indicate different religious controversies, in which case he then spoke about the people of Alexandria versus the Arianists.31 Markedly, he thus used “people” as a designation of the “correct” Christian belief. In terms of the theoretical concepts as applied earlier in this chapter to the passages from Ammianus and Symmachus, similar points can be made for this passage of Socrates Scholasticus as well. The concept of spontaneous or organized collective behavior can be observed in the passage. Two instances point to spontaneous (or active) collective behavior:  (1)  by the adherents of Ursacius who appointed Felix as bishop of Rome after Liberius had been sent into exile, and (2)  by the people of Rome who revolted against this Felix and expelled him from their church. Unfortunately, there is no evidence for individuals who might have inspired or manipulated these groups into their actions, but the source offers no indication of an organized context within which these collective actions were achieved. Notably, the emperor Constantius II disagreed with the ways the situation evolved, but he decided not to go against this particular group within the Christian community in Rome. Remarkably, throughout the Historia Ecclesiastica of Socrates Scholasticus, we find many more instances of “the people” of a city appointing a man as bishop of the city, or more specifically the Christian community.32 In most instances, the description remains general and without evidence of possible leaders within those crowds, other than some bishops encouraging these crowds. However, in these situations, bishops should be seen as a representation of external leadership that could motivate or manipulate crowd behavior but that was not part of a crowd. A second example of collective behavior in connection to bishops’ appointments can be found when in the year 366 serious violence broke out in Rome when both Damasus and Ursinus were eager to succeed to the bishop’s throne. The story is told both by Ammianus Marcellinus and 30 31 32

Socrates Scholasticus, HE E 2.37 (trans. Zenos). For instance Socrates Scholasticus, HE E 1.37; 2.11; 2.23. Socrates Scholasticus, HE E 2.12, people of Constantinople restoring Paul to his see; or 2.44, people of Antioch appointing someone as bishop.

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in a letter from the Collectio Avellana, although the two versions differ in details of the story. It is not my intention to discuss the incidents surrounding this appointment at great length, as they have been analyzed extensively elsewhere.33 For the purpose of this chapter the following aspects referring to crowd behavior are important. In Ammianus’s the episode is reported as follows: (12) Damasus and Ursinus, burning with a superhuman desire of seizing the bishopric, engaged in bitter strife because of their opposing interests; and the supporters of both parties went even so far as conflicts ending in bloodshed and death. Since Viventius [ = prefect of the city] was able neither to end nor to diminish this strife, he was compelled to yield to its great violence, and retired to the suburbs. (13) And in the struggle Damasus was victorious through the efforts of the party which favoured him. It is a well-known fact that in the basilica of Sicininus, where the assembly of the Christian sect is held, in a single day a hundred and thirty-seven corpses of the slain were found, and that it was only with difficulty that the long-continued frenzy of the people (plebem) was afterwards quieted.34

Notable in this passage is the emergence of two Christian crowds, that is, one supporting Ursinus, the other Damasus. Ammianus credited Damasus’s supporters for his victory, although unfortunately not much detail is given about the individuals who were part of this crowd. However, we find a few more details on both groups in the letter from the Collectio Avellana, where the story of the struggle between Damasus and Ursinus is presented as follows: (5) Then the priests and the deacons Ursinus, Amantius, Lupus, and the Christian populace (cum plebe sancta), who had been obedient to the faith while Liberius was off in exile, proceeded into the Basilica of Julius and demanded that Ursinus the deacon be made their bishop in the place of Liberius. Meanwhile the perjurers (periuri) had gathered at the Church in Lucinis and insisted that Damasus be their bishop in the place of Felix. Paul, Bishop of Tibur, consecrated Ursinus as bishop. But when Damasus, who had always sought to be bishop, learned about this, he used bribes to rile up all the charioteers and ignorant rabble (imperitam multitudinem), and armed with weapons he broke into the Basilica of Julius, and a great slaughter of the faithful raged for three days. (6) Seven days later, in the company of all the perjurers and gladiators whom he had corrupted by 33

34

Most recently reviewed by McLynn, “Damasus of Rome,” 307–11, but see also Lizzi Testa, e 224–42. Senatori, popolo; Diefenbach, Römische Erinnerungsräume, Amm. 27.3.12–13.

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paying huge sums of money, he took possession of the Lateran Basilica and was there ordained bishop. By paying off a city judge named Viventius and the Praefectus Annonae Julianus, he arranged for the respectable Ursinus, who had previously been ordained as bishop, to be sent off into exile along with the deacons Amantius and Lupus. Once that had been accomplished, Damasus began to oppress the Romans (Romanam plebem) who were not willing to go along with him, using various types of beatings and bloodshed. He also tried to expel from the city seven priests who he had detained in the course of duty. But the faithful populace (plebs fidelis) rushed to rescue them, and escorted them to the Basilica of Liberius without delay. (7) Then Damasus and his unfaithful following summoned the gladiators, charioteers, gravediggers, and all the clergy, and with hatchets, swords, and clubs they besieged the basilica, inciting a great battle, beginning at the second hour of the day, on the seventh day before the Kalends of November in the consulship of Gratian and Dagalais. They broke down the doors and set fire underneath, then rushed it and ransacked the building. Some members of his household, when they were destroying the roof of the basilica, were killing the faithful congregation (fidelem populum) with the tiles. Then all of Damasus’s supporters rushed in and killed a hundred and sixty of the people inside, both men and women.They wounded many more, many of whom later died from their wounds. But no one from Damasus’ party was killed.35

Several aspects of collective behavior stand out in this passage. First, the author of the letter makes a distinction between the supporters of Ursinus as the plebs sancta and the followers of Damasus as the periuri. In other words, even though both groups were Christians, the author differentiates between the “good” and the “bad” ones in his opinion.This was reflected in his use of terminology. The righteous Christians were identified as the plebs sancta, the plebs fidelis, or the fidelis populus. As for his use of plebs and populus, the author seems to have used these in a more or less interchangeable way, similar to what we have seen in the example of Symmachus. Second, we get a glimpse of individual participants of the crowd that supported Damasus, as he rallied charioteers, gladiators, gravediggers, and an ignorant mass (imperita multitudo) to fight for him. Remarkably, as gladiators and gravediggers had experience with holding and using dangerous equipment, it was clear to Damasus that violence would be used to secure his position. Could we consider this a case of spontaneous or organized crowd behavior? The answer to this question comes down to the role of the leadership of Damasus. I would argue that he should be considered as a leader who 35

Coll. Avell., Epist. 1.5–7 (trans. A. J. West).

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should be placed outside of the composition of the crowd. He is not part of the crowd nor actively participating in the collective behavior by that crowd. However, he is motivating the crowd into action with a specific objective in mind, obtaining the bishop’s seat by force. Consequently, we could speak of organized crowd behavior. To return to the question of if, and how, Christianity might have had an influence on crowd behavior, the brief analyses of the passage from Socrates Scholasticus, Ammianus Marcellinus, and the Collectio Avellana have demonstrated that Christianity added a new dimension and different perspective to crowd behavior in late antique Rome in the sense that we see an emergence of crowds motivated to act and use violence for the sake of their religion. Because of the religious context within which it was exploited, Christian crowds proved an effective tool for their leadership. Similarly, one could examine crowds that acted out of political, social, or economic motivations. These diverse perspectives all shed a different light on crowd behavior, as the various motivations possibly led to a different compositions of crowds. After all, a Christian crowd that rallied for a particular bishop would have had a different composition from a crowd that started riots because of hunger. From a leadership point of view, one would handle such crowds differently as well. However, the fact that the mechanisms of the functioning and actions of crowds an sich were similar  – as can be shown by way of the analyses of terminology, methodological concepts such as spontaneous or organized collective behavior, or ideas on an active nucleus and passive bystanders – offers the possibility of a comparison and a more in-depth analysis of the various perspectives and motivations of collective behavior. Such analyses allow us to see more and different levels of interaction within the phenomenon of crowd behavior. In this particular case study on the influence of Christianity on crowd behavior, even though in certain instances we see crowd behavior driven by this religion’s internal and external difficulties of the fourth century, at its core we should continue to regard crowd behavior as a universal phenomenon that expressed itself in many more contexts than a religious one. Clearly, much more can and should be said about crowd behavior in late antique Rome. This chapter merely offers an invitation to initiate a reassessment of collective behavior in the Roman world. Crowds mattered in many more ways than scholarship previously has acknowledged.

Bibliography Aldrete, G. S. Gestures and Acclamations in Ancient Rome (Baltimore, 1999). Barrow, R. H. Prefect and Emperor: The Relationes of Symmachus, AD 384 (Oxford, 1973).

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Brown, R. Group Processes: Dynamics within and between Groups (Oxford, 2000). Cameron, A. Circus Factions (Oxford, 1976). The Last Pagans of Rome (Oxford, 2011). Canetti, E. Masse und Macht (Düsseldorf , 1960). Diefenbach, S. Römische Erinnerungsräume. Heiligenmemoria und kollektive Identitäten im Rom des 3. bis 5. Jahrhunderts n.Chr. (Berlin, 2007). Eck, W. “Eine historische Zeitenwende:  Kaiser Constantins Hinwendung zum Christentum und die gallische Bischöfe,” in Florian Schuller and Hartmut Wolff, eds., Konstantin der Große. Kaiser einer Epochenwende (Lindenberg, 2007), 69–94. Fagan, G. G. The Lure of the Arena: Social Psychology and the Crowd at the Roman Games (Cambridge, 2011). Flaig, E. Den Kaiser herausfordern. Die Usurpation im Römischen Reich (Frankfurt, 1992). Ritualisierte Politik: Zeichen, Gesten und Herrschaft im Alten Rom (Göttingen, 2003). Gaddis, M. There Is no Crime for Those Who have God: Religious Violence in the Christian Roman Empire (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 2005). Geatrex, G. “The Nika Riot: A Reappraisal.” Journal of Hellenic Studies 117 (1997): 60–86. Hahn, J., ed. Spätantiker Staat und religiöser Konflikt. Imperiale und lokale Verwaltung und die Gewalt gegen Heiligtümer (Göttingen, 2011). Herrmann-Otto, E. Ecclesia in Re Publica. Die Entwicklung der Kirche von pseudostaatlicher zu staatlich inkorporierter Existenz (Frankfurt am Main, 1980). Hobsbawm, E. and T. Ranger. The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge, 1983). Horsfall, N. “The Cultural Horizons of the ‘Plebs Romana.’” Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 41 (1996): 101–19. Killian, L. M. and R. H. Turner. Collective Behavior (Englewood Cliffs, 1957). Le Bon, G. La psychologie des foules (Paris, 1895). Lizzi Testa, R. Senatori, popolo, papi:  il governo di Roma al tempo dei Valentiniani (Bari, 2004). McLynn, N. “Damasus of Rome: A Fourth-Century Pope in Context,” in Th. Fuhrer, ed., Rom und Mailand in der Spätantike. Repräsentationen städtischer Räume in Literatur, Architektur und Kunst (Berlin, 2012), 305–25. Meier, M. “Die Inszenierung einer Katastrophe:  Justinian und der Nika-Aufstan.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 142 (2003): 273–300. Noy, D. Foreigners at Rome: Citizens and Strangers (London, 2000). Purcell, N. “The City of Rome and the Plebs Urbana in the Late Republic.” Cambridge Ancient History2 9 (1994): 644–88. “The Populace of Rome in Late Antiquity: Problems of Classification and Historical Description,” in W. V. Harris, ed., The Transformation of Urbs Roma in Late Antiquity (Portsmouth, 1999), 135–61. Reicher, S. “The Psychology of Crowd Dynamics,” in M. A. Hogg and R. S. Tindale, eds., Blackwell Handbook of Social Psychology:  Group Processes (Oxford, 2001), chapter 8. Rougé, J. “Une émeute à Rome au IV siècle. Ammien Marcellin XXVII.3.3–4: essai d’ interprétation.” Revue des Études Anciennes 63 (1961): 59–77. Ryberg, I. S. “Tacitus’ Art of Innuendo.” TAPA 73 (1942): 383–404. Salzman, M. R. and M. Roberts, eds. The Letters of Symmachus: Book 1 (Atlanta, 2011). Sandwell, I. Religious Identity in Late Antiquity:  Greeks, Jews and Christians in Antioch (Cambridge, 2007).

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Slootjes, D. “Bishops and Their Position of Power in the Late Third Century CE: The Cases of Gregory Thaumaturgus and Paul of Samosata.” Journal of Late Antiquity 4, no. 1 (2011): 100–15. “Local Elites and Power in the Roman World: Modern Theories and Models.” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 42 (2011): 235–49. Sogno, C. Q. Aurelius Symmachus. A Political Biography (Ann Arbor, 2006). Vanderbroeck, P. “Popular Leadership and Collective Behavior in the Late Roman Republic (ca. 80–50 BC).” PhD diss. (Amsterdam, 1987). Veyne, P. Le pain e le cirque (Paris, 1976). Watts, E. J. Riot in Alexandria:  Tradition and Group Dynamics in Late Antique Pagan and Christian Communities (Berkeley, 2010).

Part III

Pagans and Christians: Coexistence and Competition  SECTION A. PAGANS AND RELIGIOUS PRACTICES IN CHRISTIAN ROME

8

REINTERPRETING THE CULT OF MITHRAS Jonas Bjørnebye

One of the basic assumptions of Mithraic studies has, since the inception of the discipline, been that the cult of Mithras in late antique Rome represented at the very least a break with traditional cult practices of the preceding two centuries, and in the most radical interpretation a contaminated and devolved version of the original ideology and practice struggling to maintain its identity in a religious landscape where Christianity was in ascendancy.1 However, late antique Mithraism has not, with a few notable exceptions, received much serious attention from scholars of ancient religion.2 Mithraism in Rome in this period is still often described as essentially the subject of a failed, politically motivated resurrection of long-dead cult practices in the last decades of the fourth century by a segment of the senatorial elite.3 Mithraic cult rooms have been described as long-abandoned spaces, mostly destroyed by Christian mobs as a result of fierce competition and religiously motivated violence, before eventually every last vestige of the cult 1

2

3

The main exponent of this view was of course the founder of modern Mithraic scholarship, Franz Cumont, in his monumental Textes et monuments figures relatives aux mystères de Mithra, but the idea of a separate late fourth-century Mithraism connected to the so-called pagan revival seems to have been the default majority position until quite recently. See, for instance, Bjørnebye, “Hic locus”; Griffith, “Mithraism in Public and Private Lives”; d and Gordon, “The End of Mithraism”; Sauer, The End of Paganism and Religious Hatred; Nicholson, “The End of Mithraism.” It may be argued that Sauer’s doctoral dissertation, The End of Paganism, deals with fourth-century Mithraism, but in this case, it is a matter of perspective. Sauer’s project is, as his title suggests, a discussion of the end of paganism and of the end of the Mithraic cult, and as such is not concerned with charting the development of the cult throughout the century. Furthermore, his discussion is confined to the northwest provinces, and he does not touch on the cult in Rome in this period. Two relatively recent examples are Clauss, Cultores Mithraee and Merkelbach, Mithras. Merkelbach even goes so far as to argue that there is no evidence for any true Mithraism after the year 325, and categorically defines all later material as belonging to the “heidnischen Reaktion”; see Merkelbach, Mithras, 147.

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was annihilated.4 This turn of events has little, if anything, to do with the actual source material, and when this evidence is reexamined and analyzed in its proper context, a very different view of the late antique cult in Rome emerges. Over the past decade or so, however, new archaeological finds as well as several new studies of previously understudied categories of Mithraic remains carry great potential for new chronological and contextual studies of the cult.5 Access to new evidence as well as a critical reevaluation of both primary and secondary sources clearly shows a picture of continuity rather than decline, and it is clear that an empire-wide reinterpretation of the cult of Mithras in late antiquity is in order. In this chapter, however, I will limit myself to discussing the Mithraic communities in Rome in this period, and my contention is that these communities grew rather than declined, and that Mithraism survived as much the same coherent religious system until the first half of the fifth century.When this evidence is reevaluated within its proper contexts, preliminary results indicate that rather than being revived by a group of senators as part of the so-called pagan revival, the cult of Mithras survived relatively unchanged in Rome in this period. Moreover, I will argue that the inherent flexibility and adaptability of the Mithraic communities of Rome, as well as their essentially conformist nature and their organizational structure that mimicked the central Roman social institutions of the familia and of the system of patronage, would quite painlessly allow Mithraism to adapt to the changing face of imperial attitudes toward religious expressions. This gradual assimilation with the reconstructed social fabric of the city where Christianity was setting the pace effectively ended Mithraism as 4

5

This was the view famously held by Cumont, the founder of modern Mithraic scholarship, M It has since been reiterated uncritically in many nonspecialist treatments of in the TMMM. the cult, but occasionally still crops up in modern Mithraic scholarship, for instance in Sauer, Religious Hatred. Some of the most spectacular of these relatively new finds are the mithraea at Hawarte in Syria (see Gawlikowski, “Hawarti 1999”; “Un noveau mithraeum”; “Le mithraeum de Haoarte”; and most recently,“The Mithraeum at Hawarte”),Tienen in Belgium (see Martens, “The Mithraeum in Tienen”; Lentacker, Ervynck, and Van Neer, “Symbolic Meaning of the Cock” and “Gastronomy and Meaning”), and Crypta Balbi in Rome (see Ricci, “Crypta Balbi”; Saguì, “Crypta Balbi”; and De Grossi Mazzorin, “I resti animali”). As recently as 2011, and as yet unpublished, a mithraeum was found near the second milestone of the Via Tiburtina in Rome, and the discovery is briefly listed in Coates-Stephens, “Notes from Rome,” 332. Also, a portable tauroctony icon was found in a service tunnel connected to the baths in the villa-complex of the Villa dei Quintilii just outside Rome.The icon is presented briefly, although with high-quality photographs, in Forma Urbis, 16–17.These new finds have allowed scholars to examine previously understudied categories of evidence, such as animal bones and plant materials, as well as stringent stratigraphic analyses, which all serve to greatly enhance our knowledge of mithraea and of what went on in them.

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a separate and identifiable religion as far as we can tell. However, there is little or no evidence to suggest that Mithraism met a violent end, at least in Rome itself, and this chapter suggests that rather than becoming the victim of anti-pagan legislation and active suppression by Christian groups, the cult of Mithras eventually became redundant in fifth-century Rome.

Mithraea, Membership, and the Senatorial Elite The mithraea, the Mithraic cult rooms, are the most obvious material remains of Rome’s Mithraic communities. As sites of Mithraic cult practices, these architectural remains supply data on topographical distribution, size of each Mithraic group, and indications of the placement of the group within the social fabric of the city even when no decoration, coinage, or other material evidence is preserved. In Rome, the late antique mithraea provide us with data that seem to highlight several trends in the community life of the Mithraists in the city, notably a strong overall impression of continuity. The most pronounced trend, visible from the mid-third to the late fourth century, is the refurbishing, redecoration, enlargement, and even in one, or possibly two cases, construction de novo of mithraea throughout the city.6 Enlargement of existing mithraea and construction of new ones in the late third and the early fourth centuries7 suggest that the cult in its traditional demographic bracket may actually have been in growth in this period, or that at the very least it was not in decline. Moreover, stability seems to be the clearest trend in the corpus of evidence as a whole, particularly in the iconographical material, and continuity in the use of centrally placed mithraea throughout the city,8 in epigraphic practices, and in the traditional 6

7

8

The mithraea in the Crypta Balbi and the Casa di Nummii Albini and the mithraeum of the Piazza San Silvestro were most likely constructed sometime during the early fourth century. The latter was also heavily restored in the late fourth century. Several other mithraea in the city were constructed, restored, or enlarged in the late third century. For a more detailed discussion of the third- and fourth-century mithraea, see Bjørnebye, “Hic locus,” 25–54. Some of these were very large, like the Crypta Balbi mithraeum, which was probably in use until the mid-fifth century, and the Castra Peregrinorum mithraeum in the second phase, which was filled with rubble sometime in the very late fourth or early fifth century. For more on these two mithraea, see in particular Ricci, “Crypta Balbi”; Saguì, “Crypta Balbi”; and Lissi-Caronna, Il Mitreo Dei Castra Peregrinorum. All categories of mithraea seem to have been in use in the city even in the fourth century:  small neighborhood mithraea and domus mithraea inside private residences, larger mithraea in public buildings, well-appointed mithraea frequented by the elites of the city, and even very large and highly visible semi-public mithraea located close to main thoroughfares and traffic nodes, such as the mithraea of the Crypta Balbi and in the Baths of Caracalla. For a more detailed discussion of the Mithraic topography of Rome in this period, see Bjørnebye, “Mithraic Movement.”

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triclinium-like architectural scheme of the mithraeum itself, indicates that the late antique cult of Mithras was essentially similar to the cult of the second and early third centuries, and not subsumed under the umbrella of any revivalist syncretism. These themes of stability and growth in topographical distribution and architecture are reflected in the Mithraic art of the late antique city and environs as well, with the main emphasis again being on a clear continuity in choice and execution of iconographic motifs. In fact, Mithraic iconography and even artistic styles in Rome remained remarkably stable throughout this period, with little to distinguish the main motifs of fourth-century Mithraic art in Rome from that of the previous centuries.9 If there was an entirely new syncretistic Mithraism in Rome in the late fourth century, one would expect that this would find expression in changes, or at least a somewhat higher frequency of variation, in the corpus of Mithraic art deriving from Rome and central Italy. However, the examination of the iconographical material in question shows that this was not the case.10 This trend is mirrored by what we can surmise about Mithraic demographics based both on the epigraphic material and on the mithraea themselves. The only evidences for senatorial membership are found in Mithraic shrines in other temples, such as is the case with the Phrygianum inscriptions,11 or in very small mithraea located within the urban households of one or two senators. The majority of mithraea, especially the very large and possibly semi-public mithraea of the Crypta Balbi and the Terme di Caracalla, suggests that most mithraea were still associated with its traditional social segment of the urban population – petty bureaucrats and junior officials, shopkeepers, well-to-do freedmen, and so forth, rather than with the elite of the city. The group of senatorial Mithraists that is usually considered part of the pagan reaction, as I argue later in this chapter, represented only a fraction of the membership mass of Rome’s Mithraic communities. 9

10

11

An exception is the discovery of new Mithraic iconographical motifs in the mithraeum at Hawarte in Syria, but these motifs are in addition to – not replacements of – the central iconographical scenes found in every mithraeum, like the bull slaying and the sacred meal. These two motifs from the Hawarte mithraeum are in fact remarkably reminiscent of earlier, canonical representations throughout the empire. For a recent discussion of the iconography of the Hawarte mithraeum, see Gawlikowski, “The Mithraeum at Hawarte.” For more on frequency and variation in Mithraic art, see in particular Gordon, “Paneled Complications” and Schofield, “Search for Iconographic Variation,” but also Will, Le relief cultuel gréco-romain. For a more detailed discussion of late antique Mithraic art from Rome in this regard, see Bjørnebye, “Hic locus,” 85–168. Clauss helpfully lists all the known fourth-century senatorial inscriptions in his Cultores Mithraee, appendix 3, 295–7 with cross-references to Vermaseren’s CIMRM M as well as CIL and AE.

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Even the most conservative estimate of membership in the cult in the city in the fourth century gives a number somewhere in the vicinity of 500; this number is based on an average community of thirty Mithraists per mithraeum, a number almost certainly too low in Rome, which had very large mithraea like that of the Crypta Balbi and the Terme di Caracalla in operation in the mid- to late fourth century – cult rooms large enough to easily accommodate 100 people at any one time. Multiplying the lowest membership estimate by the sixteen mithraea, or Mithraic sites,12 that we can be reasonably sure were in use in the city in the fourth century, gives us the aforementioned average membership mass of a little under 500 persons.13 Five hundred would be the lowest number of Mithraists that our model allows for, and even with this rather low membership number, the presence of seventeen named individuals of senatorial rank, as well as one unnamed, only makes up a small minority – in fact only 3 to 4 percent – of the cultores mithrae.14 While not to be uncritically trusted, the numbers imply that if late antique Mithraism was purely an elite phenomenon in Rome, a sizeable proportion of the clarissimi would need to be practicing Mithraists to warrant the continuous use of even sixteen mithraea, some of them very large. Such a high proportion of Mithraists among the senatorial aristocracy would surely have left much more of an impression in epigraphic and literary sources. Furthermore, if we take into consideration, as I have argued elsewhere, that there was more likely around 250 mithraea in the city of Rome active at this time,15 the impact of senatorial participation on the

12

13 14

15

These are: Casa di Nummii Albini, Castra Peregrinorum, Castra Praetoria, Crypta Balbi, Foro Boario/Circo Massimo, Foro di nerva, Ospedale San Giovanni, Palazzo Barberini, Phrygianum, Piazza San Silvestro, San Clemente, San Lorenzo in Damaso, Santa Prisca, Terme di Caracalla, Terme di Tito, and Via Giovanni Lanza 128. See also Bjørnebye, “Hic locus,” 25–54. See Bjørnebye, “Hic locus,” 59–66 and 180–3. According to Manfred Clauss, these are:  (A)emilianus Corfo Olympius, Agrestius, Alfenius Ceionius Iulianus Kamenius, Aur(elius) Victor Augentius, Caelius Hilarianus, Iunius Postumianus, C.  Magius Donatus Severianus, Nonius Victor Olympius, Petronius Apol[lo]dorus, [Pontius At]ticus, R(ufius) Cae(i)oni(us) Sabin[u]s, C.  Ruf(ius) Volusianus paterr, Sextilius Agesilaus Aedesius, Tamesius Augentius Olympius, Vettius Agorius Praetextatus,Virius Nichomacus Flavianus, Ulpius Egnatius Faventinus. See Clauss, Cultores Mithrae, 295–6. e This number is based on a conservative interpretation of the statistical model in Coarelli, “Topografia mitriaca di Roma.” There are several problems with Coarelli’s model, and some of them are discussed in Bjørnebye, “Hic locus,” 59–66. For detailed discussion of Mithraic topography in Rome and Ostia, see Griffith, “Archaeological Evidence for Mithraism,” and Bakker, Living and Working with the Gods. Most recently see Bjørnebye, “Mithraic Movement.”

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general demographic picture of the cult becomes rather more marginal. Still this group looms large in the extant epigraphic record, which has contributed greatly to keeping the idea of a particular brand of senatorial Mithraism alive, but which of course has many more plausible explanations. Each of these inscriptions needs to be discussed in its own immediate context, but this is not the place for such a detailed analysis.16 According to Manfred Clauss, Mithraism survived into the late fourth century only because it found a place among these pagan senators in their postulated protest against religious reforms.17 This interpretation of the events is based, however, mainly on the atypical set of inscriptions to the “oriental gods” recovered from the Phrygianum and elsewhere in Rome.18 The combination of the problematic evidence of the Phrygianum inscriptions and the other inscriptions of the fourth-century clarissimi that mention Mithras,19 on one hand, and the concept of a senatorial “pagan reaction,”20 on the other hand, has led to several unfortunate conclusions in the scholarship of Mithraism in fourth-century Rome. Reinhold Merkelbach, for instance, claims that there is no evidence for any true Mithraism after the year 325, and categorically defines all later material as belonging to the “heidnischen Reaktion.”21 Even though Mithraism in fourth-century Rome is comparatively well documented, Merkelbach does not accept any of this evidence as relating to “real” Mithraism, but rather to a syncretistic mishmash of a new religion of the old gods, where Mithras himself was forgotten.22 In fact, when engaging with the primary sources, all available evidence for late antique Mithraism, apart perhaps from the Phrygianum inscriptions, imply continuity in cult practices, if not necessarily in the socioeconomic status, of the highest levels of leadership in the cult of Mithras in Rome. Far from a radical reinterpretation of the mysteries, another example of senatorial epigraphy, the inscriptions of the Piazza San Silvestro, instead give the impression 16

17 18 19

20

21 22

Suffice to say at this point that many of the inscriptions seem connected to status concerns. For discussions of the epigraphic record of the senatorial aristocracy in conjunction with Mithraism in late antique Rome, see Bjørnebye, “Hic locus,” 169–89, and “Secrecy and Initiation,” but also Griffith, “Mithraism in Public and Private Lives.” Clauss, Cultores Mithraee, 295. Matthews, “Symmachus and the Oriental Cults,” 194. These inscriptions have in common that they feature the names of several well-known pagan senators proclaiming themselves as holding the supreme grade of pater patrum in the Mithraic mysteries. The “pagan reaction” or “pagan revival” presupposes a coordinated senatorial protest in the face of a postulated increased marginalization of the senatorial class and a loss of privilege vis-à-vis Christianity. Merkelbach, Mithras, 147. Ibid., 247.

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of being very much in line with what we know of traditional Mithraic ritual practices celebrating a series of initiations into several initiatory grades from the lowest (corax) to the highest (pater). Additionally, these inscriptions give firm evidence in support of several generations of the same family being initiated into the same Mithraic community, and, crucially, to the complete refurbishment, or perhaps even the dedication of a completely new structure, in the late fourth century.23 Indeed, if these inscriptions had not mentioned that the dedicants were clarissimi, they would never have been categorized as belonging to the senatorial Mithraism of the pagan revival. Even Manfred Clauss, who does recognize the sharp increase in Mithraic inscriptions in the late fourth century, follows Merkelbach up to a point, and attributes most of the Mithraic epigraphy, including the San Silvestro inscriptions, to the ever-elusive “pagan revival.”24 This has, as we have seen, led to the exclusion of a large segment, in fact approximately half of the available evidence from his statistical model of the quantitative appearance of Mithraic epigraphy.25 These inscriptions are instead relegated to an appendix, and, crucially, are kept separate from the statistical models of the temporal and geographical distribution of the inscriptions.26 Indeed, other archaeological evidence also contradicts this “downward spiral” in Mithraic activity in late antiquity that results from the exclusion of these inscriptions in Clauss’s model. Disregarding these artificial exclusions, the senatorial inscriptions seem rather to suggest a growth in membership, a growth that even attracted higher social classes in addition to the traditional middle-class demographic of the Mithraic communities in Rome. Little of the material evidence for fourth-century Mithraism, apart from the Phrygianum and San Silvestro inscriptions, can be positively associated with members of the senatorial aristocracy in Rome. This suggests that any postulated particular brand of senatorial Mithraism must rather be viewed as an expansion of the traditional membership base and not as a replacement of the older demographic pattern of the cult. Additionally, there is no evidence, material or otherwise, for any doctrinal variation in the most general sense of the word between traditional Mithraism and the late antique brand of 23 24 25

26

The inscriptions are: V 400–6, CIL L 6.749–6.754. Clauss, Cultores Mithrae, 258. e This is in tacit agreement with Reinhold Merkelbach, who distinguishes between the pagan revival and “real Mithraism,” which ends with Constantine; see Merkelbach, Mithras, 143, and 246–9. On the inscriptions and demographics of the Heidnische Restauration, see Clauss, Cultores Mithrae, e 295–7. On the material datable to the fourth century that Clauss considers not connected to the revival but rather “real” Mithraic inscriptions, see 259–60.

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Mithraism associated with the pagan reaction.The inclusion of a wide range of religious titles, connected to both the traditional civic priesthoods and to several “oriental” cults, on the altars of the Phrygianum do not prove that the cult practices and doctrines had become conflated with that of other “oriental” deities, nor that any hint of “syncretistic paganism” had replaced the beliefs and practices of the older cults. These titles only show that a handful of men of senatorial rank held priestly office in several cults at the same time, a not uncommon practice in Rome at any time in history. In essence, there are no grounds to suggest that the Mithraism these men practiced was any different than that of initiates on lower rungs of the social ladder, or of the communities of the preceding two centuries.

Mithraic and Christian Communities in Late Antique Rome The place of Mithraism in the socioreligious fabric of fourth-century Rome is difficult to establish unequivocally, not only because of the nature of the extant evidence and the often conflicting reports on the cult from contemporary sources, but also because the place of the cult of Mithras in this context is closely linked to the problem of Christianity’s growth and change in this period and to the thorny issue of the conversion of the aristocracy of the city. Given the lack of solid firsthand evidence one way or the other, we will most likely never see the complete picture of the end of Mithraism in Rome. Circumstantial evidence, however, does suggest a high degree of peaceful coexistence throughout most of the fourth century, at least in the city of Rome.27 This state of affairs may have been influenced by several factors, chief among them the existence of powerful non-Christian patrons from the ruling families of the city, but also, I think, by the fact that the Christian communities in Rome seem at no point to actually have felt threatened by Mithraism – rather, there seems simply to have been little open competition, at least nowhere near the level and intensity of intra-Christian competition at the time, and hence little basis for an antagonistic relationship. If there had been an antagonistic relationship, one would have expected a mention in at

27

The situation may or may not have been different in other parts of the Roman Empire, as, for instance, studies of the destruction of mithraea in the northwest provinces could suggest; see Sauer, The End of Paganism and Religious Hatredd, but for the opposite point of view also see Gordon, “The End of Mithraism.” The end of Mithraism and whether mithraea were the object of willful, religiously motivated destruction remains an ongoing discussion in Mithraic scholarship, however, and the material itself is in many cases open to several interpretations.

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least one of the fifteen or so literary references to Mithras from the fourth century. Instead, the seemingly indifferent attitude of Christian commentators toward the Mithraic communities in the course of the fourth century is clearly seen in the way the contemporary Christian literary references to Mithraism change from the early second century to the late fourth and early fifth centuries. Tertullian and Justin Martyr, for instance, were primarily preoccupied with the similarities between Mithraic and Christian rituals, and decried the rituals of the former as devilish imitations of the true Christian rituals.28 Later sources, however, like Jerome, Ambrosiaster, Firmicus Maternus, and Prudentius, present a different perspective on the relationship, if any, between the two. Now the focus is on outlandish initiatory rituals and the grade hierarchy – lurid details radically different from their own Christian practices. The focus has shifted, not only from similar to different, but also from serious, diabolically inspired rivalry to flippant, offhand remarks. Clearly, there is little fear of Mithraism as a serious competitor in the writings of fourth-century and later Christian authors. There are more literary references to Mithraism in the material from the fourth and fifth centuries than there are from the second and third,29 and while most of these sources mention Mithraism only in passing, they seem at this point in time almost exclusively concerned with superficial details pertaining to the hierarchical structure of the cult – indicating that this was general knowledge about Mithraism at the time at least in some milieus 28

29

Tertullian, De corona 15.3.; Justin Martyr, Dial. Tryph. 70; 1. Apol. 66. See also Beskow, “Tertullian on Mithras,” 52. There are more texts that mention Mithras, directly or indirectly, in the literary corpus of the fourth century than at any other point in history. If we were to include, as fourth-century texts, Arnobius’s Adversus nationes, possibly written around 298, as well as Claudianus’s panegyric on the consulship of Stilicho from the year 400 (De laudibus Stilichonis 1.63) at the other end of our timeline, there are at least fifteen different texts from the fourth century with one or more, sometimes oblique, references to Mithras.These include, but are not limited to: Ambrosiaster (Questiones Veteris et Novi Testamentii 113.11); Arnobius (Adversus nationes 6.10); Claudian (De laudibus Stilichonis 1.63); Pseudo-Clement (Homil. 6.10); Commodian (Instructiones 1.13); Firmicus Maternus (De errore profanarum religionum 5.2; 19.1; 20.1); Gregory Nazianzen (Oratio 4.70; Oratio 39.5.); Jerome (Ep. 107.2; Comm. in Am. 1.3.9–10); Prudentius (Contra orationem Symmachii 1.562–4); Socrates Scholasticus (Hist. eccles. 3.2–3); Julian (Caesares 336); the anonymous Mithras Liturgy; Pseudo-Paulinus (Carmen 32: Carmen ad Antonium 114–15); and the anonymous Carmen contra paganos 47. Compared to the nine or so extant texts that mention Mithras from the first through the third centuries (except of course the non-extant works on Mithras by Eubulus and Pallas), and the ten or so references to Mithras in texts from the fifth century and onward, the textual evidence from the fourth century seems almost overrepresented.This should at least be taken as an indication that the cult of Mithras was not generally unknown at the time.

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among the intellectual elites. They report on the existence of a grade hierarchy and the use of initiatory rituals often involving fasting, sensory deprivation, and other tests – in short, the typical elements of an initiatory cult. In fact, it seems that the existence of the initiatory grade hierarchy, along with the names of these grades, in Mithraism was comparatively well known while the details of the actual rituals and teachings and dogma were not.30 The nature of this coexistence between the different religious communities in fourth-century Rome is the lynchpin in the understanding of the religious landscape of the late antique city, but owing to the partisan nature of most of our sources it is often difficult to get a clear picture of their interaction, and we must instead rely on rather vague impressions. Jerome’s letter 107 to Laeta is a case in point. The letter is the most frequently cited literary reference to Mithraism in the context of late antique Rome, and famously describes the destruction of an unspecified mithraeum by Laeta’s kinsman, the prefect Gracchus. However, Jerome’s choice of strong words describing the destruction of an unnamed mithraeum is out of step with his description of Laeta’s pagan father, Albinus,31 who was incidentally also a Mithraic priest, in the following sentences, and the use of these terms seems, in the immediate stylistic context of the rest of the letter, first and foremost a literary device. Laeta was apparently worried that her father would have a negative influence on her daughter’s Christian upbringing as a sanctified virgin  – how to do this in a familia dominated by a powerful pagan pater familias? Jerome comforts her by stating categorically that: “one unbeliever is sanctified by a holy and faithful household,”32 and it is in this context that the prefect Gracchus is brought up; he was an example of one of Laeta’s relations who had converted to Christianity and had won for himself a Christian baptism on favorable terms. He had demonstrated his Christian zeal, his pietas, in much the same fashion as Laeta would by consecrating her infant daughter as a Christian virgin, and by raising her as an ascetic. “Christians are not born, but made,”33 Jerome continues in the letter, and consoles Laeta with 30

31

32 33

For a more detailed discussion of secrecy in the Mithraic communities in late antique Rome, see Bjørnebye, “Secrecy and Initiation.” Laeta was from a family that seems to have included both pagans and Christians. She was the daughter of Publilius Ceionius Caecina Albinus but her mother seems to have been a Christian and she was married to (St.) Paula’s son Toxotius. Albinus was a mithraic pater patrum who had constructed a Mithraic cave “cum [sig]/nis et ornamen[tis]” in Cirta in Numidia while he was praeses consularis there from 364–7. The mithraeum itself has never been found, but the inscription is V 129, CILVIII L 6975. See stemma 23 in Jones, Martindale, and Morris, Prosopography, 1143. Sancta et fidelis domus unum sanctificat infidelem. Jerome, Ep. 107.1. Fiunt, non nascuntur Christianii. Jerome, Ep. 107.1.

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the hope that her father, Albinus, will one day become a Christian too. In fact, Albinus remained a pagan, as did his son.34 The ambiguities concerning pagan and Christian family members in this letter illustrates not only that important and influential families in Rome still had pagan household heads in the early fifth century, but also that religious coexistence within the same household was seen as possible, if not desirable, even by apparent hard-liners like Jerome. The whole idea of a final confrontation between Mithraism and Christianity in the late third century, culminating with the aftermath of Constantine’s victory in the early fourth, was in fact an invention of Franz Cumont, the founder of Mithraic scholarship, and not an idea that the Romans themselves seem to have shared. Indeed, to Cumont, Mithraism comes across as a sort of proto-Christianity that was too flawed in its moral teachings to triumph, and that suffered from the fact that its “redeemer” did not, contrary to Christ, actually exist35 In this historically deterministic scenario the victory of Christianity is rendered inevitable because of its moral superiority, but historically speaking, it also becomes imperative that the Christian victory comes as early as possible  – hence no “real” Mithraism after Constantine. However, rather than Mithraism being too flawed to survive the battle for the “Western Soul” and the “Latin Spirit,” it seems, based on what little actual evidence there is, that the two religions lived side by side in relative harmony, peacefully for the most part, and that they, instead of being deadly rivals, were simply both products of a shared sociohistorical context. In fact, the only evidence for any sort of violent conflict is Jerome’s letter, which highlights the destruction of objects and images and is not to be understood as a description of an attack against a practicing community,36 and the mistaken belief that the destruction of the Santa Prisca mithraeum was religiously motivated and occurred in the early fourth century, a misinterpretation of the material evidence that has plagued Mithraic scholarship since Vermaseren’s publication of the excavations.37 The best concrete example of such misinterpretations is the often reported “forceful axe-blow” that

35 36

37

“Albinus’s wife and daughter were also Christians. His son, however, remained staunchly pagan and served as urban and praetorian prefect of Rome (as had Albinus’s father and brothers). One of his brothers was also intermarried with Christian families and would be the grandfather of the noted ascetic Melania the younger.” White, Social Origins, 420, note 202. Cumont, The Mysteries of Mithra, 195. In fact the most plausible explanation for Gracchus’s action is that the mithraeum he destroyed had already been abandoned. This would allow Gracchus to demonstrate his zeal while lessening the offense toward pagan members of the senatorial elite. Vermaseren, Santa Prisca.

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disfigured one of the murals in the mithraeum. In actual fact, clearly visible both in Vermaseren’s own photographs and in the mithraeum itself today, it is nothing of the sort. Rather, it is only a shallow scratch that could have been caused by a number of things, not least by the hurried modern excavations. Indeed, when reexamined, the material indicates that the damages are most likely to have been caused, if not by the excavation team, then by the filling up of the mithraeum in the mid-fifth century when the abandoned cellar rooms were turned into foundations for the expansion of the church above.38 This is a fate that struck not only many mithraea, but indeed most ancient and late antique underground structures and cellar rooms in Rome.

The End of the Mithraic Communities in Rome As for the end of Mithraism in Rome, Manfred Clauss argued for the assimilation of the Mithraists into the Christian communities in the early fourth century by reason of its essentially conformist ethos and its strong connection with political authority.39 I  do agree with Clauss concerning the relatively painless integration of the Mithraists, but I don’t believe this integration would have happened on a large scale in the early fourth century. Instead, this integration, and the consequent disappearance of the cult of Mithras in Rome, is, as indicated by a reevaluation of the evidence, much more likely to be a phenomenon of the early fifth century, in fact a century or so later. Mithraism, then, was indeed not alien to fourth-century Rome, nor was it a syncretistic reinvention of older practices living out its half-life in the collective imagination of a desperately outdated and disenfranchised aristocracy. The concept of a new “senatorial” syncretistic Mithraism far removed from the “real Mysteries” rests, in the end, on two false assumptions. The first is that there was a break in the continuity of the Mithraic corpus of evidence, and the second is the perceived antagonistic relationship between “paganism” and Christianity in late antique Rome. Reexamination of the archaeological evidence shows that at least sixteen mithraea, or Mithraic sites, in the city of Rome seem likely to have been in use until the mid- to late fourth or even, in some cases, into the early fifth century, with the prime examples of fifth-century use being the Crypta Balbi and Foro Boario/Circus Maximus mithraea. Far from abandonment and destruction, the analysis of the mithraea and their decoration, which epigraphy and contemporary 38 39

See especially Griffith, “Archaeological Evidence for Mithraism,” 131–8. Clauss, The Roman Cult of Mithras, 172.

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literary references corroborate, highlights continuity and survival. In fact, rather than dramatically diminishing in size, the Mithraic communities of the fourth century seem instead to have remained proportionally stable in relation to the estimated population of the city of Rome in this period, and there is evidence that the cult survived in all the different sectors of the city where we can reasonably expect to find archaeological remains pertaining to the cult, ranging in socioeconomic catchment from lower middle class to the prefects of the city. Furthermore, there is no hard evidence for any religious struggle in Rome between Mithraism and Christianity. As far as the archaeological evidence is concerned, the damages to all the mithraea Christians are said to have destroyed as an expression of religiously motivated hatred in the fourth century are explicable in other, more plausible, ways. No literary evidence describes attacks on Mithraism in this period, except for the story of Gracchus’s destruction of an undefined mithraeum in Rome in his letter to Laeta (107), which of course comes with its own host of interpretative challenges very briefly touched on earlier.40 The written sources of the fourth and later centuries, when they do mention Mithras at all, never treat the cult as a dangerous rival, but rather as an exotic example of strange cultic practices, indicating a process of “normalization” in the relationship between the two communities, related to the ascendancy of Christianity in the mid- to late fourth century. This process is ironic in a sense because every indication suggests that the similarities between the two cults, such as architectural and decorative preferences, in fact grew more pronounced through the centuries of coexistence, and that by the fourth century, both Mithraic and Christian communities were much more visible, both to each other and to the uninitiated than ever before.41 In the end, it seems likely that it was the inherent flexibility and adaptability of the Mithraic communities that allowed Mithraism to adapt more or less painlessly42 to the changing face of imperial attitudes toward religious expressions in this period, before it finally became redundant and disappeared from view in the city of Rome sometime in the first half of the fifth century. This redundancy would have come about, I think, through what Richard 40

41 42

For a recent discussion of Jerome in Rome, including briefly the “Gracchus incident,” see Grig, “Deconstructing the Symbolic City.” See Bjørnebye, “Secrecy and Initiation” and “Mithraic Movement.” This view of a relatively “painless” end to Mithraism is by no means shared by all. For the opposite view, see for instance Eberhard Sauer’s statement in The End of Paganism: “Mithraism did not die a natural death; there was active Christian euthanasia when the cult was not yet mortally ill” (The End of Paganism, 80).

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Gordon has called Christian hostility in a “weak sense” – indirect pressures rather than active persecution.43 That is to say that as society became more and more Christian, as the Christianization of public life in Rome took more direct forms, Mithraic activity would gradually lessen, the Mithraic cursus and communal activities would become less attractive for a variety of reasons, and the mithraea would gradually be abandoned. Achieving an initiatory grade in a Mithraic community in early fifth-century Rome might have become a prize for old men, and recruiting new members must have become more and more difficult as the costs of membership outweighed the benefits. Many mithraea seem to have been simply bricked up and abandoned, and such is famously the case with the mithraeum at Marino not far from Rome, which was found untouched, its rich murals still brilliantly preserved, during the enlargement of a cellar space half a century ago.44 It is not difficult to visualize the last old pater bricking up his mithraeum when there were no initiates left. After all, religious communities depend on recruitment, new generations to replace the old, and when there are no incentives for new recruits, as was the case in fifth-century Rome, old religions fade away.

Bibliography Bakker, J. T. Living and Working with the Gods: Studies of Evidence for Private Religion and Its Material Environment in the City of Ostia (100–500 AD). Dutch monographs on ancient history and archaeology 12 (Amsterdam, 1994). Beskow, P. “Tertullian on Mithras.” Studies in Mithraism (Rome, 1994): 51–60. Bianchi, U., ed. Mysteria Mithrae:  Atti del Seminario Internazionale su “La Specificità storico-religiosa dei Misteri di Mithra, con particolare riferimento alle fonti documentarie di Roma e Ostia,” Études Préliminaires aux religions orientales dans l’empire romain 80 (Leiden, 1979). Bjørnebye, J. Hic locus est felix, sanctus, piusque benignus: The Cult of Mithras in Fourth-Century Rome. PhD. diss. University of Bergen (2007). “Secrecy and Initiation in the Mithraic Communities of Fourth Century Rome,” in J. Turner, C. H. Bull, and L. I. Lied, eds., Mystery and Secrecy in the Nag Hammadi Collection and Other Ancient Literature: Ideas and Practices (Leiden, 2012), 351–74. “Mithraic Movement:  Negotiating Topography and Space in Late Antique Rome,” in I. Östenberg, S. Malmberg, and J. Bjørnebye. eds., The Moving City (Bloomsbury Academic, London, New York, 2015). Clauss, M. Cultores Mithrae. Die Anhängerschaft des Mithras-Kultes (Stuttgart, 1992). The Roman Cult of Mithras, trans. Richard Gordon (New York, 2001).

44

Gordon, “The End of Mithraism,” 684–5. See Vermaseren, Marino.

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Merkelbach, R. Mithras (Königstein, 1984). Nicholson, O. “The End of Mithraism.” Antiquity 69, no. 263 (1995): 358–62. O’Day, S. J., W.Van Neer, and A. Ervynck, eds. Behaviour behind Bones: The Zooarchaeology of Ritual, Religion, Status and Identity. Proceedings of the 9th Conference of the International Council of Archaeozoology, Durham, August 2002 (Oxford, 2004). Ricci, M. “Il mitreo della Crypta Balbi a Roma (note preliminari),” in M. Martens and G. De Boe, eds., Roman Mithraism:  The Evidence of the Small Finds. Archeologie in Vlaanderen Monografie 4 (Brussels, 2004), 157–65. Saguì, L. “Il mitreo della Crypta Balbi a Roma e i suoi reperti,” in M. Martens and G. De Boe, eds., Roman Mithraism: The Evidence of the Small Finds. Archeologie in Vlaanderen Monografie 4 (Brussels, 2004), 167–78. Sauer, E. The End of Paganism in the North-Western Provinces of the Roman Empire:  The Example of the Mithras Cult, BAR International Series 634 (Oxford, 1996). The Archaeology of Religious Hatred in the Roman and Early Medieval World (Gloucestershire, 2003). Schofield, A. “The Search for Iconographic Variation in Roman Mithraism.” Religion 25 (1995): 51–66. Vermaseren, M. J. Corpus Inscriptionum et Monumentorum Religionis Mithriacae. 2 vols. (The Hague, 1956–60). Mithriaca III:  The Mithraeum at Marino. Études Préliminaires aux religions orientales dans l’empire romain 16.3 (Leiden, 1982). Vermaseren, M. J. and C. C. van Essen. The Excavations in the Mithraeum of the Church of Santa Prisca in Rome (Leiden, 1965). White, L. M. The Social Origin of Christian Architecture. Vol. II. Texts and Monuments for the Christian Domus Ecclesiae in Its Environment. Harvard Theological Studies:  42 (Valley Forge, PA, 1997). Will, E. Le relief cultuel Gréco-Romain:  Contribution à l’histoire de l’art de L’Empire Romain. Bibliothèque des Écoles française d’Athènes et de Rome 183 (Paris, 1955).

9

NAPKIN ART : CARMINA CONTRA PAGANOS AND THE DIFFERENCE SATIRE MADE IN FOURTH-CENTURY ROME Dennis E.   Trout It has become ever more clear that late ancient Rome’s Christian writers were capable of sheer invention. Prudentius’ blood-drenched taurobolium has lately been forced to come clean as the fantasy it was: a burlesque of a far more sober rite still traceable in other sources.1 Similar, if less sensational, fictions surely underlie the outrage punctuating the roughly contemporary anti-pagan verse polemics considered in this chapter. Yet rather than quarantine these carmina contra paganos  – or Prudentius’ lurid fantasy  – simply because they bear the mark of deceit, the proper historical task entails their reintegration into a world where, as otherwise agreed, textual practices often had serious motivations and real consequences.The patent attraction of these verses to the tired clichés and vituperative zeal of pre-Constantinian apologetic, that is, should not be permitted to render this poetry irrelevant to the religious debates of the age.2 Indeed, that these broadsides – embedded in well-known poems or stranded among the manuscripts of other Christian authors – were ever intended to be taken for the kind of truth conceded to objective reportage or fair representation can hardly be the case. Truth, however, is manifold, an assertion whose validity crystalizes in the relentlessly satiric voices of this contra paganos poetry.3 What 1

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Prud. Perist. t 10.1006–50, with McLynn, “The Fourth-Century Taurobolium,” echoed by Cameron, Last Pagans of Rome, e 159–63: “pure fiction from start to finish” (160). Recognition of anachronism and recycling at, for example, Markus, “Paganism, Christianity, and the Latin Classics,” 7–8: “shadow-boxing” in “a world of almost total unreality”; Fontaine, Naissance de la poésie, e 215; and Cameron, Last Pagans of Romee, 283:  “heavily indebted to the Apologists of the second and third centuries.” As McLynn notes, “The Fourth-Century Taurobolium,” 318: “The living world of paganism had receded, liberating the poetic imagination.” Anticipating the rehabilitation offered later in this chapter, however, is Kahlos,Vettius Agorius Praetextatus, 168–71. For recent recognition of the role of satire in this poetry see Alexandre, “Prudence et les trois poèmes anonymes de polémique anti-païenne,” highlighting tone, form, and themes and outlining this poetry’s strategies of borrowing and subverting satire’s generic markers.

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follows, then, is a bid for better understanding of how the “banal” fictions of this late fourth- and early fifth-century verse contributed to the work of forging Christian identity in a city where the problems well-heeled Christians faced had as much (or more) to do with resolving the issues dividing them than with fending off the challenges of pagan cult.

Ad Hominem? Five texts will illustrate here the evidential value of a body of verse too often marginalized as either historically inconsequential or poetically second-rate. Best known of this group, perhaps, is the Contra Symmachum. Prudentius most likely assembled the final version of this two-book rebuttal of Symmachus’ defense of the altar of Victory in late 402, long after Symmachus had sent his famous relatio to Milan in 384. Yet, although Prudentius almost surely drafted parts of Contra Symmachum book one in the mid-390s, attention later in this chapter focuses on lines 42–407, a long section devoted to ridiculing the pagan gods and their myths, which could, in fact, have been composed almost any time during these years.4 Not long after Prudentius finalized the Contra Symmachum, Paulinus of Nola composed a new natalicium (carm. 19) for the feast day of St. Felix in January 405.The second half of this poem recounts an exemplary miracle tale, but in lines 1–377 Paulinus set the stage for Felix’s entrance by rehearsing a good deal of what might pass for standard contra paganos invective.5 Beyond these two projects in representing paganism, lie three anonymous (and most likely slightly earlier) texts, which by their most familiar names are the Carmen ad quendam senatorem, the Carmen ad Antonium (or Carmen ultimum), and, the most renowned of the three, the scurrilous Carmen contra paganos.6 Fortunately, we can sidestep the long history of ingenious attempts either to assign the three anonymous poems to historically identifiable authors

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For the text:  Cunningham, Carmina, 182–208, with translation at Thomson, Prudentius, 345–401. On dating:  Shanzer, “Date and Composition,” 458–9, noting rightly that the “conventional nature” of lines 42–378 makes that section “difficult to date” (457); Harries, “Prudentius and Theodosius,” 73–5, with lines 42–407 styled “a general attack on the pagan gods of a type familiar in anti-pagan polemic” (73); similarly at Cameron, Last Pagans of Romee, 342–9. For text and Italian translation: Ruggiero, Paolino di Nola, 350–79. English translation: Walsh, The Poems of Paulinus of Nola, 131–44. On dating: Trout, “Dates,” 248–53. Texts and Italian translations at Corsano and Palla, Ps.-Cipriano; Corsano and Palla, Ps.-Paolino; Bartalucci, . Text and English translation of the latter at Cameron, Last Pagans of Rome, e 802–8; see also Kahlos, Vettius Agorius Praetextatus, 226–9. Other roughly contemporary verse polemics might well be added to this catalog, e.g., Prud. Perist. t 10.141–305 (by the same “deacon” Romanus who spotlighted the taurobolium).

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and targets or to demote them to the murky realm of scholastic suasoriae, where they merely distill the “spirit of the age” and its schools.7 This kind of detective work is now concisely reviewed in the commentaries of Aldo Bartalucci and of Marinella Corsano and Roberto Palla but is also on display in the pages of Alan Cameron’s Last Pagans of Rome.8 The current consensus regarding dates and contexts can suffice here, for most scholars agree that the three anonymous poems emanate from the same elite Roman context that nurtured the poetic projects of Prudentius and Paulinus, both of whom had Roman readers, and that all three pieces date to the closing decades of the fourth or the opening decade of the fifth century.9 Any greater precision – on dates, authors, and subjects – has relied on arguments and assumptions that have typically proven too fragile to withstand the next round of interrogation. In any case, of keenest interest at the moment are the parts of these five poems that have always seemed most difficult to date because they lack the detail necessary for pinpointing the time and place of attack or determining the names of perpetrators and victims.10 Even the first twenty-two lines of the otherwise relentlessly ad hominem (it seems) Carmen contra paganos have been condemned for their “very triteness.” As Alan Cameron has noted, “almost every phrase can be paralleled from almost any other Christian invective against the pagan gods.”11 And, indeed, it has all been said before: the Sybil’s false oracles and the quackery of Numa; Juno’s incestuous marriage; Jupiter on the prow, gussied up like a swan or a bull or filtering down as golden rain; the Olympian upstart’s banishment of his own father, Saturn; and Venus naked, weeping at the death of Adonis while Mars rejoices  – or later in 7

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For the latter see Bartalucci, , 34–6; Corsano and Palla, Ps.-Cipriano, 23–4: “l’Ad senatorem sia un’esercitazione retorica e l’apostata un destinatario fittizio” (23); e resisted by Cameron, Last Pagans of Rome, 325–6. Cameron, Last Pagans of Romee, 273–352. For the pre-formalist corollary in the criticism of eighteenth-century English satire, see Bogel, The Difference Satire Makes, 5–6. Succinctly at Corsano, “Un incontro problematico.” See also Consolino, “Pagani, cristiani, e produzione letteraria latina,” 316–21. For recent reviews of evidence and arguments, see Corsano and Palla, Ps.-Cipriano, 24–30; Corsano and Palla, Ps.-Paolino 28–39; Bartalucci, , 36–42; Cameron, Last Pagans of Romee, 320–7, although also suggesting (325–7) that the pseudo-Cyprianic carmen ad senatorem was written in an eastern city and its addressee was the eastern official and “unscrupulous opportunist” Domitius Modestus. E.g., Shanzer, “Date and Composition,” 457 on the bland conventionality of Contra Symmachum 1.42–378; Cameron, Last Pagans of Romee, 344 on Prudentius’ “long general attack on paganism (i.42–407), with no contemporary reference,” that is, therefore, “undatable” (349). See also Fontaine, Naissance de la poésiee, 216–17 on the commonplaces and banalitéé of the Carmen ad senatorem and 220 on Prudentius’ “stylisation des thèmes les plus banalisés” in the Contra Symmachum. Cameron, Last Pagans of Rome, 275. e

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the poem, the pillorying of those handy targets, the Galli, Cybele’s eunuch monstrosities, and senatorial shave pates devoted to Isis.12 Certainly all can be found elsewhere. Moreover, not a few expressions in each of these tracts have been plundered from the classical poets of an earlier age (as the notes to any good edition will reveal).13 Knowing this has made it even easier to dismiss the “set piece” of the Contra Symmachum, for example, as little more than “standard invective against the pagan gods” or “a rambling attack on paganism.”14 Certainly such assessments are not entirely misguided. But this poetry’s canned laughter at the expense of outmoded myths and eunuch priests may be more than simply the detritus of laziness, incompetence, or tomfoolery. One way to rehabilitate these blocks of boilerplate would consider the ways this material is creatively (re)deployed to buttress the particular agenda of each poem, for upon reflection it is evident that these are idiosyncratic if not equally successful pieces. The Contra Symmachum and Paulinus’ eleventh natalicium are long and complex poems with overarching arguments. The 657 hexameters of the final version of book one of the Contra Symmachum may have been cobbled together from several sections drafted earlier, but the poem’s exposé (42–407) of paganism’s folly is integral to the book’s revision of imperial Rome’s Vergilian mission, projected as it was through the lens of Christian providence and focused by Theodosius’ address to Rome (415–505).15 Similarly Paulinus’ eleventh natalicium, recited for the feast of Nola’s patron saint, carefully stage managed a novel super-sessionist argument. Therein Christian triumphalism became a saga of hard-fought skirmishes won by foot-soldier martyrs over local and regional cults, so that, for example, Venus’ endlessly enacted adulteries (201–6) were anchored to the specific battle zone of Felix’s Nola.16 Both the Contra Symmachum and the eleventh natalicium harnessed the commonplace to higher purposes.

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Carmen contra paganos 65–6: “cum canibus Megales semper circumdatus esses, / quem lasciva cohors (monstrum) comitaret ovantem. 98–99:  quis te plangentem non risit, calvus ad aras / sistriferam Phariam supplex cum forte rogares.” On the cult of Cybele as a long-standing “easy target for condemnation,” see Rauhala, “Devotion and Deviance,” quote 70 (emphasis in original). To those cited earlier add Begley, “Carmen ad quendam senatorem,” with 132 on the literary filters tinting that poem’s presentation of eastern cults. Shanzer, “Date and Composition,” first quotation 457; Cameron, Last Pagans of Rome, e second quotation 343, “thoroughly conventional stuff.” “Set pieces” was also Robert Markus’ judgment at “Paganism, Christianity, and the Latin Classics,” 7. Contra Symmachum 1.538–43. Fontaine, Naissance de la poésie, e 214–15: “une sorte d’Énéide chrétienne.” Trout, Paulinus, 185–6.

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The three anonymous poems, too, are neither mere copycats of one another nor rote mimics of Christian apology’s one-liners.17 The Carmen contra paganos is notoriously mean spirited – gloating over the protracted death of its duped victim and envisioning the latter’s plummet to hell despite his wife’s solicitous rounds of the temples.18 The author of the Carmen ad Antonium, on the contrary, presents himself as a well-meaning guide to the age’s admittedly bewildering religious and philosophical smorgasbord. A “smiling” fellow seeker after the truth, the narrator plays a congenial Horace to the ad hominem finger-pointing Lucilius of the Carmen contra paganos: “I have, I confess Antonius, investigated all doctrines (sectas). I  have sought out quite a few and run through them one at a time but have found nothing better than to believe in Christ.”19 Even the Carmen ad senatorem, which dresses down its addressee for his apostasy, offers him a second chance, calling him back to respectable Roman mores while promising God’s forgiveness for his errant ways: “He won’t be held to account who repents what he was before.”20 In other words, while these five hexameter poems certainly fall back on proven exempla and time-tested sniggering; they nevertheless tailor their conceits to very specific themes and paranetic ends. Yet it is, in fact, the common impulse of these texts to re-sharpen so many well-worn apologetic barbs that may best explain both the timing and the urgency of this effervescence of verse invective. For in varying degree, each of these poems does delight in an old-fashioned excoriation of pagans and paganism through lampooning episodes drawn from myth and legend, ridiculing outmoded elements of cult and worship, belittling the bloody mess of animal sacrifice, and mocking any fool who would take such claptrap seriously. In other words, these fourth-century authors indulge in the sort of caricature, sarcasm, and diatribe not invented by Christian apologists of the early empire, such as Tertullian,21 but catapulted to literary prominence by Lucilius in the 17

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Recognized by most who read all three poems in concert. See, e.g., Fontaine, Naissance de la poésiee, 216; Corsano, “Un incontro problematico”; and Alexandre, “Prudence et les trois poèmes anonymes de polémique anti-païenne.” Carmen contra paganos 116–22. On the smiling satirist see Braund, Roman Satirists and Their Masks, 29–36. Carmen ad e 217–19 on gentleness (lenitas) as the Antonium 1–3, with Fontaine, Naissance de la poésie, poem’s “musical key.” Carmen ad senatorem 85. Weston, Latin Satirical Writing, g 16–25; Barnes, Tertullian, 202, on Tertullian’s “truly Juvenalian indignation,” with Osborn, Tertullian, 200–4, on the taxonomy of Tertullian’s “humour.” On Tertullian’s familiarity with Juvenal, as well as the satire of Horace and Martial, see Tränkle, “Tertullianus,” 566. Highet, Juvenal the Satiristt, 183, recognized two Juvenalian echoes in

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late second century BCE and in time skillfully manipulated and refined by Horace and Persius and Juvenal. Indeed, the fourth century rediscovered and embraced the classical satirists, especially Juvenal. That story continues to unfold in contemporary scholarship,22 but is well illustrated as early as the prose of Lactantius and poetry of Ausonius, for whom Juvenal was a touchstone.23 More relevantly, in Rome itself during the later fourth century, when Juvenal became a “classic,”24 the satiric mode equally enlivened Ammianus Marcellinus’ ridicule of the trivial pursuits of the Roman aristocracy (14.6.1–25) and Jerome’s lampoons of marriage, worldly women (ep. 22 to Eustochium), former friends (Rufinus), and rival ascetics (Vigilantius). The latter’s sarcasm inspired David Wiesen’s 1964 monograph St. Jerome as a Satirist; the former’s bitterness provoked Timothy Barnes’ recognition of a “satirical intensity” in the historian “worthy of Juvenal.”25 But, while Jerome and Ammianus clearly knew Juvenal, although the former perhaps less well than might be expected,26 they did business in prose. The traditional and more narrowly literary sense of satura, of course, limited its scope to hexametrical verse  – the meter Lucilius canonized half a millennium before Jerome took up his pen. Therefore in form as well as content the carmina contra paganos ran closer to classical satire’s craggy

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“Literary Allusions,” 368. Barnes, Tertullian, 202–3, suggested a third. On the rediscovery:  overview already at Highet, Juvenal the Satiristt, 184–8, singling out Ausonius (“[Juvenal’s] first imitator in poetry”), Paulinus, Prudentius, Jerome (although noting only one line used three times), Servius, and Claudian; Hooley, Roman Satiree, 130–1. See also Cameron, “Literary Allusions,” 369–72, crediting Servius with the resurrection of e 418, interest in Juvenal at Rome although recanting that scheme at Last Pagans of Rome, 452–4. On the literary revival of silver age writers generally, see Begley, “Carmen ad quendam senatorem,” 143–5; 171–3; Cameron, Last Pagans of Rome, e 399–420. Lactantius is the first writer actually to quote Juvenal. See Cameron,“Literary Allusions,” 368; Goulon, “Les citations des poètes latins,” 119–22, including references to Lucilius, Horace, and Persius. Ogilvie, Library of Lactantius, 7–16 suggested that although Lactantius had read Horace and Persius, he did not know Juvenal first-hand; rejected by Cameron, Last Pagans of Romee, 401, who suspected Lactantius’ search “for ammunition to attack paganism” embraced direct reading of Juvenal. Ausonius’ debts to Juvenal are tabulated at Colton, “Ausonius and Juvenal” and recognized by Green, Works of Ausonius, xx and 769, s.v. “Juvenal.” See also Cameron, Last Pagans of Rome, 404–5. e Cameron, “Literary Allusions,” 369. Wiesen, St. Jerome as a Satiristt, with Begley, “Carmen ad quendam senatorem,” 167–71, stressing Jerome’s sensitivity to audience expectations for biting satire. Barnes, Ammianus, 100. Ammianus obviously knew Juvenal (28.14.4); for specific allusions see Kelly, Ammianus, 166–7. Hagendahl, Latin Fathers and the Classics, 284:  Jerome quoted Persius twenty times but only one line of Juvenal (1.15) on three different occasions. Although Adkin, “Juvenal and

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shores. Indeed, the debts of Prudentius’ Contra Symmachum have been duly recorded;27 and, as Ronald Begley has noted, borrowing Ammianus’ snide comment (28.4.14) on the scandal-sheet reading habits (Juvenal and Marius Maximus) of Roman nobles, the poet of the ad quendam senatorem was “steeped in the Satires and wrote for an audience of nobles who read Juvenal curiatore studio.”28 Similarly, Alan Cameron has remarked that Juvenal was “one of the few classics” that the author of the Carmen contra paganos “really knew.”29 And if the Carmen ad Antonium displays less vituperative zeal, there is no missing its satire-ridden send-up of the “diverse rites and temples established for gods and goddesses.”30 Nor was Paulinus a stranger to the corpus of classical satire.31 Juvenal was, it seems, in the air. But so, too, were a good number of his post-Augustan compatriots, for allusive classicizing poetry, one hallmark of Latin literature’s silver age, had (re)emerged in late fourth-century Italy as a signature feature of elite cultural discourse.32 For confirmation simply consider both the place Claudian carved out for himself at court and the two-book In Eutropium he composed for his imperial patrons in Milan (ca. 399), a poem that leaves no doubt about the premium placed on Juvenalian-spiced verse invective in this age.33 What then can be done with our realization that this body of “anti-pagan” poetry owes so much to the modes and form of classical satire while simultaneously recycling so many stock criticisms of traditional myth and cult? Can

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Jerome,” raises that number to four, Cameron’s skepticism, Last Pagans of Rome, e 412–14, regarding Jerome’s early familiarity with Juvenal remains justified. Fontaine, Naissance de la poésiee, 215. For breadth, see Marie,“Prudentius and Juvenal”; Palmer, Prudentius on the Martyrs, 180–4. Begley, “Carmen ad quendam senatorem,” 145; indeed, one of Begley’s aims was “to e 216: “une sorte d’Épître show that the CS is a satire” (163). Fontaine, Naissance de la poésie, horatienne.” Cameron, Last Pagans of Romee, 294. Note Fontaine’s assessment of the poet at Naissance de la poésie, e 219: a “Juvénal désordonné”; “a spirited satirical poem” remarked Weston in 1915, Latin Satirical Writing, g 57, but “third-rate verses” (60). Carmen ad Antonium 52–3: Quid dicam diversa sacra et dis atque deabus / condita templa? The g 64–8: a now familiar “satirical section continues to line 150. Weston, Latin Satirical Writing, treatment.” Green, Poetry of Paulinus, 49–50, although noting Juvenal was not a “favourite poet with Paulinus.” Succinctly now at McGill, “Latin Poetry,” with bibliography: “poetic productivity ... is a defining trait of the age” (338). Long, Claudian’s In Eutropium, e.g., 59–63; more broadly Garambois-Vasquez, Les invectives de Claudien, 149–85, with (168–85) discussion of Juvenal’s fourth satire as the model for the council scene of In Eutropium 2.325–404. Note Cameron, Last Pagans of Rome, e 418: Claudian, as (among other things) a “new Juvenal,” arrived on the Italian scene at “at exactly the right moment.” And now Ware, Claudian and the Roman Epic Tradition, 165–9, on Claudian’s portrait of Gildo.

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we plot a path that will lead to the truth and consequences of these texts? We might begin by circling back to truth’s partner – fiction.

Truth and Consequences Satire, in its various guises, seldom offers unobstructed views of social reality. It is in its nature to distort. In 2001, Kirk Freudenburg convincingly restated the case that Horace willfully (and for his own ends) misrepresented Epicurean philosophy, Old Comedy, and especially his foil and forerunner Lucilius. Indeed, every reader of Juvenal’s first satire steps into a world where “overstatements and bigotry color and unhinge critical judgments at every turn.”34 No better the famous third (“Umbricius”) satire, which, Daniel Hooley has remarked, gave Juvenal’s audience an “imagined Rome” (his own and his readers’) constructed out of “chestnuts from the traditional satiric stock or fantasies.”35 Cries of foul emanating from critics who expect gritty realism from their satirists would surely not have dismayed Juvenal. As a coy Bob Dylan, shunting off objections to the imaginative liberties taken on his thirty-fifth studio album, Tempest, remarked: “A songwriter doesn’t care about what’s truthful. What he cares about is what should’ve happened, what could’ve happened. That’s its own kind of truth.”36 Neither the sentiment (nor the phrasing) was new.37 Nor was it idle. Decades earlier, in songs like “Masters of War,” “Talkin’ World War III Blues,” and “Oxford Town,” Dylan’s cynicism had targeted the military-industrial complex and the “unbroken chains” of social injustice.38 Cold black humor, laughing-over-the-grave invective, and even a kind of Horatian amiability (“what do you think about that, my friend”) served (and served up) truths intended for times that 34 35

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Freudenburg, Satires of Rome, 15–23 (on Horace), 211 (quote). Hooley, Roman Satiree, 137, with the corollary observation that a remarkable feature of Juvenal’s satire is “its faithlessness to fact.” See also Braund, Roman Satirists and Their Masks, 43 on enargeia and “satirical distortion.” The problem of satire’s external referentiality long remained vexing; see Bogel, “The Difference Satire Makes, 10: “To look automatically for the particulars attacked ... is somewhat like searching for the real god invoked by an epic poet instead of investigating the nature and significance of the invocation.” Gilmore, “Bob Dylan on His Dark New LP,” 16. Compare Elie Weisel, Legends of Our Time, e vii–viii, replying to a skeptical Rebbe asking if his stories were “true” and “about things that happened?”: “Yes, about things that happened or could have happened.... Some events do take place that are not true; others are – although they never occurred.” Thanks to David Cain. All appearing on 1963’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (Columbia Records). See Bulson, “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” esp. 128–9 with Ricks, Dylan’s Visions of Sin, 246–52, smartly on “Oxford Town;” and Fariña, “A Generation Singing Out,” 85, on Dylan’s assault on the “unbroken chains of injustice waiting for the hammers of a crusading era.”

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needed to change. And many in Dylan’s audience, perhaps like Juvenal’s first readers, were primed for the message, for, as Richard Fariña then observed, Dylan’s finger-pointing songs were, consciously or otherwise, also hammering out a new countercultural identity on the anvil of “an enjoined social consciousness and responsibility.”39 Issues of identity, of course, are often why we write (and read) satire. The second-century origins of Roman satire, Freudenburg has further observed, were “deeply conditioned by a crisis in Roman identity.” So much so that Lucilius’“genre-chartering performance” was “from start to finish, an aggressive overstatement” of what it meant to be “a genuine Roman.”40 Thereafter, identity construction (the poet’s as well as his Roman readers’) remained at the heart of satire’s darkness, no less so for Horace and his readers walking a wavy line in the final disorienting crisis of the Roman Republic than for Juvenal’s Umbricius and his sympathizers, clambering through the muck in a megalopolis swamped by foreigners and wannabes (as the narrator would have us believe). Certainly questions of identity were no less acute for poets and audiences in late fourth-century Rome, stuck between old ways of thinking (and acting) Roman and the new possibilities being promoted by a Christianizing court and a newly confident episcopacy. Indeed, by making the religious past and its partisans laughable as well as lamentable the carmina contra paganos offered a safe and sensible way to leave that weary world behind. This much Prudentius apparently understood. Theodosius’ plea, late in the first book of the Contra Symmachum, that the goddess Roma abandon her heathen divinities and pursue her civilizing mission under the sign of the cross aligned old-time Roman rationally (or so it was made to appear) with newfangled Christian enlightenment. Simultaneously, and in a move surely welcome in those days of borderland crises, Prudentius juxtaposed this new Romano-Christian dispensation to brutish barbarism and its bloody rites.41 More often, however, this contra paganos poetry settled for pummeling pagan cult and myth with a barrage of cheap (because readily available) shots. Cheapest of all, perhaps, was resort to a bodily discourse that mocked the effeminacy, sexual immodesty, 39

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Echoing Hooley, Roman Satiree, 137, on the symbiotic relationship between Juvenal’s art and his audience’s imagination. See Fariña, “A Generation Singing Out,” for a clear-eyed witness to the emergence of Dylan and Joan Baez as “purveyors of an enjoined social consciousness and responsibility” (82), as well as models for a new sense of style. Historical perspective at Filene, Romancing the Folk, esp. 204–11; overly cynical is Dalton, Who Is that Man? 51–8. Freudenburg, ed., Cambridge Companion to Roman Satire, e  4. Contra Symmachum 1.459–66. See also Kahlos, “Who Is a Good Roman?” 268–70.

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and pathic homosexuality of pagan priests while highlighting the gullibility of any Roman noble who would condone (or imitate) such turpitude.42 Satire’s complex mechanisms for valorizing the “normative” and decrying perversion – while simultaneously indulging the pleasures inherent in making a spectacle of “bad sex” – had already been well oiled by Juvenal’s second satire.43 Now Cybele’s eunuch Galli and the mincing priests of Isis would serve the ends of Christian poets as well.44 Swapping the fasces for the sistrum was the self-evident symptom of a demented waywardness that stamped as null and void any ticket to the ranks of the viri boni: “witless, indeed,” in the words of the Carmen ad senatorem, “to imitate the witless.”45 Throughout this poetry such charges of insania mentis deny their subjects access to the realms of proper Roman manhood – wherein “Christian” had become the new “Roman.”46 Satire, it might seem, offered a way out of at least one crisis created by the Christianization of Rome. But to suggest so is also to realize that the argument being played out here has also traveled beyond the merely literary. By drafting caricatures of late Roman paganism, the poets of the carmina contra paganos revitalized the social engineering regime some scholars now see as the true essence of classical Roman satire, whose notoriously frustrating generic ambiguities, it has been argued, are most easily resolved when satire is viewed not as a literary genre but as a “social practice.” Classical satire, this approach claims, mimicked such venerable Roman institutions of correction, entertainment, and education as the law courts, the theater, and the schools, institutions and discursive venues that, as Cathy Keane has observed, had long “shaped Roman culture.”47 Keane’s assessment correlates nicely with Thomas Habinek’s argument that Roman satire functioned as a playful “social practice” that replicated the “rehearsal of élite identity” in much the same manner as did the age’s 42

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E.g., Contra Symmachum 1.116–21: indignation at Hercules’ passion for Hylas and the dancing priests (Salii) of his Roman cult; 1.271–7: Antinous as Hadrian’s Ganymede. On the wider phenomenon, see Gunderson, “The Libidinal Rhetoric of Satire.” Juv. Satt. 2 with Walters, “Making a Spectacle”; Gunderson, “The Libidinal Rhetoric of Satire,” esp. 227–30 (quotes 224, 226); and more briefly Hooley, Roman Satiree, 117. E.g., Juv. Sat. t 2.111–16, 6.512–41; Prud. Contra Symmachum 1.628–31; Paulinus, carm. 19.87–90, 107–16; Carmen ad Antonium 88–93; and Carmen contra paganos 98–109. Carmen ad senatorem 3–32; quote 39:  vere mente cares, sequeris qui mente carentes. On satire’s concern to expose deviant masculine sexuality and mark the boundaries of acceptable behavior for respectable Roman men, see Walters, “Making a Spectacle” and Gunderson, “The Libidinal Rhetoric of Satire.” On the trope of pagan dementia, see Kahlos, “The Shadow of the Shadow,” 172–3. On the very similar politics of immorality that Christian writers espoused in the second and third centuries, see Knust, Abandoned to Lustt. Keane, Figuring Satiree, 3–4.

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“oratorical sermonizing.” Satire, however, did its job by constructing “the satiric self ” and all those who were “not the satiric self,”48 fulfilling its paideutic and ludic roles, that is, by staging alterity.49 A better understanding of why satire should be asked to perform such work at any particular historical moment can be gained by enlisting Fredric Bogel’s recent reconsideration of seventeenth-century English satire. Bogel contends that frequently satire functions not to ridicule “an object that exists prior to the satiric attack” but to produce difference at a moment when “something” is, in fact, “not alien enough”: In this revised scenario, the crucial fact is not that satirists find folly or wickedness in the world and then wish to expose that alien something. Instead, satirists identify in the world something or someone that is both unattractive and curiously or dangerously like them, or like the culture or subculture that they identify with or speak for, or sympathetic even as it is repellent – something, then, that is not alien enough.50

“The ‘first’ satiric gesture,” in other words, “is not to expose the satiric object in all its alien difference, but to define it as different.” Viewed this way, satire emerges as “a rhetorical means to the production of difference in the face of a potentially compromising similarity, not the articulation of differences already securely in place.”51 Such a perspective offers a context for appreciating why in the age of such self-righteous survivors of Domitian’s tyranny as Tacitus (witness the Agricola) and Pliny (witness ep. 1.17 on Titinius Capito or 4.11 on Valerius Licinianus) – who worked so decorously to demonize that “bad” emperor and his lackeys, to make martyrs of their victims, and to exonerate themselves and their own mores – Juvenal “took a sledgehammer” to what they had handled with such “discretion.” By bashing away at decades of compromise with vice and habit, it has been suggested, Juvenal distanced both his own literary enterprise (satire) and himself (the satirist) from the “refined generic sensibilities” with which his contemporaries set about “coming to terms with the past.” In other words, Juvenal’s “louder and sleazier version” of the “indignation industry” not only pointed the finger at alleged social miscreants and malefactors but also highlighted the difference

48 49

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Habinek, “Satire as Aristocratic Play,” 177–82, quote 182. For recent review of the theoretical literature on “othering” and the construal of difference in identity fashioning, see Kahlos, ed., Faces of the Other, 1–15, and Petersen, “Othering in Paul,” 19–30. Bogel, The Difference Satire Makes, 41, emphasis in original. Ibid., 42, emphasis in original. See also Smith, “What a Difference,” esp. 44–8.

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between his own agenda and another – one of the main cultural enterprises of the day – with which it always had the potential to be confused.52 Similarly, Bogel’s insights make it possible to see more clearly why several late fourth-century writers apparently felt that (re)casting Roman paganism in Juvenalian-inspired hexameters offered a surefire way to alleviate certain deeply felt anxieties of the Theodosian age, even if these had rather little to do with paganism itself.53 Arguably the accelerated rate of conversion to Christianity among the Roman aristocracy of the later fourth century threatened to erode boundaries of practice and belief that (in the minds of some) now needed to be drawn even more boldly in order to mark off proper Christianity and liberate it from the drag of cultural inertia.54 When the urban prefect and pontifex maior Q. Aurelius Symmachus could imply that Christian religio might merely be one of many pathways leading to the godhead and at least one philosophically minded Christian (Augustine) seemed momentarily inclined to agree;55 or when Vettius Agorius Praetextatus, augur, pontifex Vestae, and initiate of a number of private cults, could be thought to have flippantly made himself a candidate for a papacy that Ammianus would soon represent as far too worldly;56 or when the public monuments of prominent pagan nobles could also announce “rebirth for eternity” through the rituals of religious initiation (in this case, the taurobolium)57 or claim 52 53

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Freudenburg, Satires of Romee, 209–42, quotes 239–42. Ibid., 242: not as “late and irrelevant as it seems,” Juvenal’s satire has the “very real potential to disrupt, offend, and tear into the most deeply-felt anxieties of the Trajanic age.” On the modern tendency to overrate late ancient anxiety about “paganism” see Maxwell, “Paganism and Christianization,” 849–51. On the pace of aristocratic conversion in Rome and Italy, see Salzman, Making of a Christian Aristocracy, 78–80. PLRE E 1.865–70, “Symmachus 4.” Sym. Rell. 3.10 (of 384): “uno itinere non potest perveniri ad tam grande secretum.” Aug. Soll. 1.13.23 (of 386/87): “sed non ad eam [sapientiam] una via pervenitur”; r with Retractt. 1.4.6: “item quod dixi ... non bene sonat; quasi alia via sit praeter Christum.” See also Watson, Soliloquies, 176–7. PLRE E 1.722–24, “Praetextatus 1.” Jerome, c. Joh. Hieros. 8:  ““facite me Romanae urbis episcopum et ero protinus Christianus,” allegedly joking with Damasus. Amm. 27.3.14. See also Kahlos, Vettius Agorius Praetextatus, 121–3, arguing for typically cordial relations and collaboration between Damasus and Praetextatus, which, of course, may have been the problem in some eyes. CIL L 6.510 = ILS S 4152 of 376: Sextilius Agesilaus Aedesius was “in aeternum renatus.” Perhaps not to be overstated; see McLynn, “The Fourth-Century Taurobolium,” 313–14, although such claims clearly rankled the author of the Carmen contra paganos 60–3: “vivere cum speras viginti mundus in annos.” For rather similar claims by Christians compare, e.g., CLE 2193 = ILCV V 1515A: “Herculia hic sita est sacratis abluta lymbis, / quae nuper [r]ena[ta] deo vivit per saecula semper”; r or CLE E 1344 = ILCV V 1515 of 377: Fortunatianus “[ca]elesti renatus [aq]ua qui vixit in [aevum]].” On the uncomfortably close “parallels” aligning the cult of Cybele with Christianity, see also Rauhala, “Devotion and Deviance,” 79–81.

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that ancient philosophy and religious mysteries could equally well shove ajar the “gate of heaven (porta caeli)” and banish “death’s lot (sors mortis),”58 some determined Christians sensed that difference was indeed in danger of slipping away. At such moments of cultural contestation, social “reality” requires vigorous architects.59 In short the paganism invented in these carmina, a paganism silly, stupid, and alien, is a socio-literary act of “making difference” at a critical juncture when Christianity (it might seem) risked being swamped in the kind of syncretic compromises that allowed one perpetrator of fourth-century fictions to suggest that the lararium of the emperor Severus Alexander contained images of Apollonius of Tyana, Abraham, Orpheus, and Christ;60 and eventually encouraged one nostalgic writer, nominally Christian, to (re)fashion Jerome’s one time bête noire, Praetextatus, as the suppertime-spokesman of a sensible solar theology in which the sun is the true auctor of “all that goes on around us.”61 That is, if it is indeed true that any “minimal Christianity” in this age was always on the verge of being “absorbed into a basically pagan outlook,” then satirical poetry might be as effective as ascetic pamphleteering in goading Rome’s Christianizing nobles to abandon late antique religiosity’s “gray area” and step fully into their newfound obligations.62 Seen this way, anti-pagan polemic aimed at discouraging overly comfortable cohabitation with old ways of acting and thinking. Invectives that lampooned pagan cult and philosophy were, therefore, the functional equivalents of pronouncements from or about such ascetic champions as the Elder Melania, Paulinus of Nola, and the former proconsul Pammachius – who publicly turned their backs on the

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CIL L 6.1779 = ILS S 1259 = CIL L 6.8.3 (2000) p. 4757 add no. 1779 (Paulina to Praetextatus on their funerary monument): “cura soforum, porta quis caeli patet” t (9); “Tu me, marite, disciplinarum bono / puram et pudicam sorte mortis eximens, / in templa ducis ac famulam divis dicas” (22–24). Cf. Prud. Cath. 10.65–66: “quia lex eadem monet omnes / gemitum dare sorte sub una.” See, e.g., Niquet, Monumenta virtutum 237–52; Trout, “Verse Epitaph(s),” 172–4; Kahlos, Vettius Agorius Praetextatus, 172–8, 216–20. See Cantwell, When We Were Goodd, 148:  in the cultural contestations of the early and mid-1940s the “Popular Front” (and eventually blacklisted) Almanac Singers struck at that acutely sensitive “point where society’s actual construction of its own reality occurs.” Historia Augusta, Sev. Alex. 29. Solar theology at Macrobius, Sat. t 1.17–23 with quote at 1.17.3. See also Kahlos, Vettius Agorius Praetextatus, 193–200. Jerome’s vitriol is on display at ep. 23.2–3 (to Marcella) and ep. 39.3 (to Paula). See also Wiesen, St. Jerome as a Satiristt, 195–6; Kahlos, Vettius Agorius Praetextatus, 160–2. McLynn, “Pagans in a Christian Empire,” 583–4. A case in point: Rauhala, “Devotion and Deviance,” 79–81. Maxwell, “Paganism and Christianization,” 866 on the “gray area,” so easily overlooked, where most people were “neither strict Christians nor devoted pagans.”

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world of wealth and privilege that first brought them status and notoriety.63 Both aimed at pushing people off fences. That, however, is hardly the whole story, for the paganism stitched together (although not entirely from whole cloth) by the carmina surely also shared in what Bogel has called the “doubleness of satiric structure,”64 whereby these satires offered Christians a common enemy who could help them forget (at least momentarily) their internal squabbles and disagreements. This feature of satire worked at “securing harmony within by redirecting aggression outward.”65 Thus the ridicule of “a certain senator” or an “Antonius” or “that prefect of yours” simultaneously served to “enforce separation” and to “deny internal division by converting it into a difference between inside and outside.”66 That is, just as one overriding object of satire’s rhetoric in the eighteenth century of Jonson and Swift – as well as in many topical American protest songs throughout the twentieth century – was the pursuit of “social cohesion,”67 so too distraction and scapegoating offered Rome’s noble Christians a way to bridge their differences in a city not only riven by factional ecclesiastical struggles (particularly during the pontificate of Damasus)68 but also divided by a gulf of ascetic fervor that risked stranding the likes of the ultra-worldly Petronius Probus and the retiring Pammachius on opposite shores. Laughable pagans, like those “gol-darned Reds” of Dylan’s 1962 “Talkin’ John Birch Society Blues,” were handy targets.69 But was the portrayal fair?

63 64 65 66 67

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PLRE E 1.592–3, “Melania 11”; PLRE E 1.663, “Pammachius.” Bogel, The Difference Satire Makes, 81. Ibid., 47. Ibid., 71. Ibid. Notably, asserting group identity through topical parody was a marked feature of the IWW (Wooblies) songbook: see Pete Seeger, “Whatever Happened to Singing in the Unions?” Sing Out! t (May 1965) in Rosenthal and Rosenthal, eds., Pete Seegerr, 86–9, with, e.g., Joe Hill’s 1911  “Pie in the Sky” at Lomax, Guthrie, and Seeger, Hard Hitting Songs, 88–9. Of course, biting social satire was a staple of Guthrie’s writing and repertoire in the 1940s (e.g., “Dust Pneumonia Blues” or “Deportees”), while Guthrie’s influence on the early 1960s revival extended well beyond Dylan. See further Cantwell, When We Were Goodd, 131–50, with the observation that Guthrie “became for a new generation the image that Jewish cowboys like Jack Eliot and Bob Dylan brought to perfection” (135). Sághy, “Scinditur in partes populus”; Blair-Dixon, “The Fiction of Unity.” Heylin, Behind the Shades, 90–1: The song’s lyrics (“one more satirical monologue”) were published in the first issue of Broadsidee magazine (1962). On the controversy see also Heylin, Revolution in the Airr, 70–1: “the John Birchers were an easy target for potshots from a progressive pen,” but the song got Dylan “yanked from the Ed Sullivan Show w.” The performance preserved on Bob Dylan in Concert: Brandeis University 1963 (Columbia 2010) captures the moment (and the laughter).

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“That Don’t Look a Thing Like Me” Bob Dylan’s 1997 Grammy-winning album Time Out of Mind closes with “Highlands.” The sixteen-minute song’s opening line (“Well, my heart’s in the highlands, gentle and fair”) invokes Robert Burns’ four-stanza “My Heart’s in the Highlands,” composed as a response to the eighteenth-century clearance movement’s displacement of Scottish Highlanders.70 Dylan’s “Highlands” honors Burns’ sylvan nostalgia (expressed in such lines as “farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods”) but also transforms it into longing for a more mystical land of final repose: “that’s where I’ll be when I get called home.”71 The centerpiece of Dylan’s song is a wry allegory of art and art criticism staged as an interlude in a deserted Boston restaurant and viewed through the eyes of a narrator as disoriented by modern times as was Juvenal’s Umbricius.72 After a saucy waitress has pegged her customer as an “artist,” she demands that he “draw a picture of me.” The narrator resists (no pencil or “drawing book”) but finally concedes, makes “a few lines” on a napkin, and shows “it for her to see.” She takes it but tosses it back: “that don’t look a thing like me!” The hapless targets of Rome’s carmina contra paganos may have felt much the same. In the lines of this poetry, for example, it is awfully hard to find the conservative Symmachus of his own letters, wherein the polite etiquette of amicitia and the exigencies of careerism largely prevail over religious commitment;73 or the creatively conservative Ammianus of the Res Gestae;74

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Ricks, Dylan’s Visions of Sin, 330:  (punningly) only “a pad-eared laddy of the lowlands” could be deaf to the allusion. Presciently, in 1964 Richard Fariña had already drawn the lines of sympathy between Burns (“another spiritual forebear”) and Dylan: “A Generation Singing Out,” 86. Poignantly expressed in the song’s final verses: “Well, my heart’s in the Highlands at the break of day / Over the hills and far away / There’s a way to get there and I’ll figure it out somehow / But I’m already there in my mind / And that’s good enough for now.” For appreciation from two different perspectives, see Gray, Song and Dance Man, 815–22 and Heylin, Still on the Roadd, 413–18. E.g., “Feel like a prisoner in a world of mystery / I wish someone would come / and push back the clock for me.” Nine years later Dylan’s musically retrospective and lyrically nostalgic album Modern Times (2006) would reference Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 movie of the same name, in which Chaplin’s factory-working character faces the indignities of a mechanized and impersonal world. E.g., Matthews, “Letters,” 85–7; Sogno, Symmachus, 46 and 89. Book one, published during Symmachus’ lifetime, offers the best evidence and the “keynote” of that book is “compromise and conciliation” (Cameron, Last Pagans of Rome, e 373). See also Salzman and Roberts, The Letters of Symmachus, xlvii–xlviii. Davies, Rome’s Religious History, 226–85.

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or even the patriotic Rutilius Namatianus.75 Admittedly we have so few self-portraits by contemporary pagans that drawing conclusions is unwise, but even if the “topics” of the Carmen contra paganos do align to a degree with the cults listed on the funerary monument of Praetextatus and his wife, Paulina,76 the invective’s caricature is surely a misrepresentation of the couple’s religious life and values – as the thrust of this poetry surely crossed purposes with the self-understanding of the owner of the Esquiline lararium or the members of the Mithraic worship groups discussed elsewhere in this volume. In short, even beyond this poetry’s evident pleasure in recycling “old chestnuts,” there is every reason to think that the paganism portrayed in the carmina, like the taurobolium of Prudentius, is fictive at multiple levels. But that, of course, is the point. When the disgusted waitress of Dylan’s “Highlands” fires back “that don’t look a thing like me,” the narrator responds: “I said, ‘Oh, kind Miss, it most certainly does.’ She says, ‘You must be jokin.’ I say, ‘I wish I was.’”77 For all its apparent humor, satire is serious business, its own kind of truth. The carmina contra paganos, too, were napkin art, drawing lines and policing boundaries; and we should not so quickly dismiss their (mis)representations as trivial or irrelevant. It would indeed enrich our histories to know with certainty that Damasus did write the abusive carmen contra paganos and that its target was truly Praetextatus,78 but such facts, on their own, will not explain the proliferation of anti-pagan verse invective in these decades. Satire was about making difference and the differences it was making surely had more to do with the anxieties of identity plaguing Rome’s Christianizing elite in the age of Damasus, Pammachius, and Petronius Probus than any vigorous rearguard action being waged by the city’s traditionalists.

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Ogilvie, R. M. The Library of Lactantius (Oxford, 1978). Osborn, E. Tertullian, First Theologian of the West (Cambridge, 1997). Palmer, A.-M. Prudentius on the Martyrs (Oxford, 1989). Petersen, A. K.“Othering in Paul: A Case Study of II Corinthians,” in M. Kahlos, ed., The Faces of the Other (Turnhout, 2011), 19–50. Rauhala, M. “Devotion and Deviance: The Cult of Cybele and the Others Within,” in M. Kahlos, ed., The Faces of the Other (Turnhout, 2011), 51–82. Ricks, C. Dylan’s Visions of Sin (New York, 2004). Rosenthal, R. and S. Rosenthal, eds. Pete Seeger in His Own Words (Boulder and London, 2012). Ruggiero, A. Paolino di Nola: I carmi.Vol. I (Naples, 1996). Sághy, M. “Scinditur in partes populus:  Pope Damasus and the Martyrs of Rome.” Early Medieval Europe 9 (2000): 273–87. Sallmann, K., ed. Nouvelle histoire de la littérature latine, Vol. 4. L’âge de transition: De la littérature romaine à la littérature chrétienne de 117 à 284 apres J.-C. (Turnhout, 2000). Salzman, M. R. The Making of a Christian Aristocracy: Social and Religious Change in the Western Roman Empire (Cambridge and London, 2002). Salzman, M. R. and Michael Roberts. The Letters of Symmachus: Book 1 (Atlanta, 2011). Shanzer, D. “The Date and Composition of Prudentius’ Contra orationem Symmachi libri.” Rivista di filologia e d’istruzione classica 117 (1989): 442–62. Smith, J. Z. “What a Difference a Difference Makes,” in J. Neusner and E. S. Frerichs, ed., “To See Ourselves as Others See Us”: Christians, Jews, “Others” in Late Antiquity (Chico, 1985): 3–48. Sogno, C. Q. Aurelius Symmachus: A Political Biography (Ann Arbor, 2006). Stein, G. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (New York, 1933). Thomson, H. J. Prudentius: Volume II (Cambridge and London, 1949). Tränkle, H. “Q. Septimius Florens Tertullianus,” in K. Sallmann, ed., Nouvelle histoire de la littérature latine,Vol. 4. L’âge de transition: De la littérature romaine à la littérature chrétienne de 117 à 284 apres J.-C. (Turnhout, 2000), 494–571. Trout, D. “The Dates of the Ordination of Paulinus of Bordeaux and of his Departure for Nola.” Revue des Études Augustiniennes 37 (1991): 237–60. Paulinus of Nola: Life, Letters, and Poems (Berkeley, 1999). “The Verse Epitaph(s) of Petronius Probus:  Competitive Commemoration in Late-Fourth-Century Rome.” New England Classical Journal 28 (2001): 157–76. Walsh, P. G. The Poems of Paulinus of Nola (New York, 1975). Walters, J. “Making a Spectacle:  Deviant Men, Invective, and Pleasure.” Arethusa 31 (1998): 355–67. Ware, C. Claudian and the Roman Epic Tradition (Cambridge, 2012). Watson, G. Saint Augustine: Soliloquies and Immortality of the Soul (Warminster, 1990). Weston, A. Latin Satirical Writing Subsequent to Juvenal (Lancaster, 1915). Wiesel, E. Legends of Our Time (New York, 1968). Wiesen, D. St. Jerome as a Satirist: A Study in Christian Latin Thought and Letters (Ithaca and New York, 1964).

10

POETRY AND PAGANS IN LATE ANTIQUE ROME : THE CASE OF THE SENATOR “CONVERTED FROM THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION TO SERVITUDE TO THE IDOLS” Neil   McLynn The subject of this chapter is a poem transmitted only under a cumbersomely descriptive title, the Carmen ad quendam senatorem ex christiana religione ad idolorum seruitutem conuersum (henceforth, Carmen).1 At eighty-five hexameter verses, it is the shortest of the three closely but indirectly related Latin hexameter satires on paganism to survive from late antiquity, and has been the least studied of the three, having neither the reflective expansiveness of the Poema Ultimum (which is three times its length) to commend it nor the exhilarating nastiness that drives the Carmen Contra Paganos.2 Like the latter’s withering attack on a recently dead prefect, it too is addressed to a Roman aristocrat identified by an office rather than a name: “Who will not mock you,” the poet asks, “who have been consul, that you are now a servant of Isis?”3 However, his mockery is fitful, and between and beyond his bursts of abuse he offers extensive passages of earnestly platitudinous concern. But throughout, and in contrast to the other two poems, he presents himself engaging with his interlocutor and seeking to make him change his ways. He introduces himself at the outset as a long-standing acquaintance of the senator, shocked at the latter’s defection but eager to offer salutary correction; he confronts him with his delinquencies and berates him for his

2

3

Corsano and Palla, eds., Ad un senatoree, provides a modern edition and comprehensive commentary. Boxus and Poucet, “Carmen ad quendam senatorem,” contributes further suggestions. I have not seen Begley, “The Carmen ad quendam senatorem,” but Corsano and Palla incorporate the conclusions of the thesis. Croke and Harries, Religious Conflictt, 84–5, provides a helpful English translation. Trout, this volume, offers an appraisal of the group; there is full discussion in Cameron, Last Pagans of Rome, e 273–352. Carmen 25–6: “quis te non rideat autem,/ qui fueris consul, nunc Isidis esse ministrum?”

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stupidity; and he signs off apparently satisfied that he has achieved his purpose. It is this sustained engagement that will be the principal theme of this chapter, which will suggest a social and cultural context for the exercise; the method will be one of close reading of the poem, and an attempt to identify the poet’s argumentative strategy. The poem survives in four independent manuscripts, two poetic miscellanies and two collections of works by Cyprian.4 Cyprian is credited with authorship in all three of the manuscripts to offer an ascription, but a recent attempt to claim it for the martyr-bishop of Carthage fails to convince.5 Christianity is comfortably in the ascendant in the poet’s world, where a former consul’s natural home is within the Christian community, and his defection is an embarrassment rather than a catastrophe; nor is there any hint that in apostatizing he is allying himself to persecutors. Paganism is grudgingly recognized as a public fact of contemporary life, nor is it anywhere suggested that the ex-consul’s alleged new preferences might be illegal; but Christianity enjoys straightforward respectability, nor does the poet find it necessary to demonstrate the religion’s superiority. Everything therefore points to the same broad chronological range as the other two poems, roughly the second half of the fourth century. What little discussion there has been of the poem has focused primarily on the identity of the lapsed consul. This is understandable: consuls are particularly conspicuous figures and the religious career attributed to the poem’s subject, who had originally been a devotee of traditional religions and had then known the Christian God for “a few years” until his recent defection, is a most interesting one.6 The search has this far proved unavailing. Fl. Claudius Antonius (cos. 382),7 Fl. Afranius Syagrius (cos. 382),8 and Fl. Manlius Theodorus (cos. 399)9 have all found advocates, but there is not the slightest evidence for any of their candidatures, and the objections are in each case compelling. The most recent suggestion has been Domitius Modestus (cos. 372), who at least has the merit of having a religious history as sinuous as that the poet ascribes to his subject.10 However, Modestus held the praetorian prefecture from before his consulship until his death in 4 5 6

7 8 9 10

Corsano and Palla, eds., Ad un senatoree, 60–7. Sordi, “È di Cipriano?” 149–54. An original pagan background is presented at Carmen 1–2; several years’ adherence to Christianity at 44; a “return” to paganism at 40, 45. Hermann, “Claudius Antonius”; Poinsotte, “Le consul de 382.” Bartalucci, “L’antica esegesi virgiliana.” Mazzarino, Antico, tardoantico ed èra costantiniana, 1:395. Cameron, Last Pagans of Rome, 326–7. e

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377, and would more naturally have been identified by that office after his consulship; more important, he played out his colorful career entirely in the East, while our poet’s unqualified reference to “the city” in two important passages anchors the work securely in Rome.11 Further possibilities will be suggested at the end of this chapter. It suffices at present to reaffirm the value of continuing to search for actual targets, despite previous failures. The point is important in that the most recent editors of the text have consigned it to the schoolroom, treating the consul as a composite figure conjured up to meet the demands of a composition exercise.12 This is a premature counsel of despair. Not only does no parallel exist for so circumstantial an invention;13 but also the text makes an unconvincing specimen as an exhibition piece designed to demonstrate mastery of a genre.The poem fails as invective, inasmuch as the addressee’s crimes receive only limited attention and the overall tone, certainly in the closing section, is as much sorrowful as angry; it is not a demolition of paganism, with only half of it concerned with the absurdities of traditional religion, and this discussion confined to two particular sects (which are treated in dramatically different ways, as we shall see); nor again is it a protreptic to Christianity, the truths of which receive only passing endorsement. Above all, such an interpretation fails to take account of the subtle and careful way the ex-consul is handled.The poet is working gingerly around a theme that requires cautious treatment, not tearing apart a monster of his own invention. All previous commentators have accepted that the poem presents a former Christian consul who has deliberately and decisively abandoned his faith, marking his defection by shaving his head and undertaking a priesthood of Isis. But this depends on a literal reading of the poet’s most explicit sally: “I have now learned too that not your age but your religion has made you bald.”14 This marks the first entrance of the central character since the opening invocation, and it comes a quarter of the way through the poem. And as conventionally read, it is extraordinarily bathetic: the shaving required of a priest of Isis was a public commitment, hardly justifying the poet’s claim to have fresh information to disclose (“nunc ... didici”). If the poet indeed has a real individual in his sights, the claim becomes very much more effective 11 12

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Carmen 11 (“unde per urbem”); 25 (“Si quis ab Isiaco consul procedat in urbem”). Corsano and Palla, eds., Ad un senatoree, 23–4, 56–7; endorsed by Boxus and Poucet, “Carmen ad quendam senatorem.” The suggestion had previously been made by Consolino, “Pagani, Cristiani e produzione letteraria latina,” 317. Bartalucci “Contro i paganii,” 35–6, suggested that the Carmen Contra Paganos be treated as “un mescolanza ... di motivi topici.” This seems very implausible. Carmen 21–2: “Nunc etiam didici quod te non fecerit aetas,/ sed tua religio, caluum.”

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if the situation is reversed, if the addressee suffered from a receding hairline and the poet was supplying an outrageously unexpected explanation for this. In other words, this is best read as a joke. And the phrasing would seem to support such a reading: both explanation and explanandum, religio and caluum, are held back until the second line, as if to help create the puzzle.The wording here, that is, suggests that the readers of the poem did not know at the outset that the senator had become a priest of Isis – which must make us ask whether he had, in fact, taken on such a role. The latter half of the sentence invites a similar reading.The poet announces his second discovery:  “Your boots removed, your feet are swathed in slippers bound with soft papyrus.”15 On the standard reading, this is cumbersome metonymy, the change of footwear merely indicating the new, publicly declared, allegiance to an oriental religion. However, here again the Latin word order suggests that something more ambitious, and less straightforward, is being attempted. It is only with the last word, papyro, that anything more sinister than an everyday exchange of outdoor boots for indoor slippers is indicated. We must remember that so far there has been no mention of Isis, and should therefore see this information as a further installment in the case that the poet is building. The weight attached to the single word papyrus (and perhaps also the poet’s awareness that a tenuous case was best reinforced by an exhibition of indignant bluster) is further indicated by the hyperbole that it immediately triggers, as the poet gleefully laments the extraordinary falling-off that was there.16 This exclamation leads to the question that for the first time makes the connection between the addressee and Isis explicit: If anyone should proceed into the city as an Isiac priest turned consul, He will be the laughing stock of the world: who would not mock you, Who have been consul, that you are now a servant of Isis?17

This begins in the conditional, creating the evidently implausible but readily imaginable scene of a linen-clad priest of Isis donning the trabea required for a consul’s ceremonial entrance; this is yet another indication that the converse designation of the ex-consul as a minister of Isis might be less than a straightforward description.18 Notable too is the change of register that immediately 15 16 17

18

Carmen 22–3: “caligaque remota/ gallica sit pedibus molli redimita papyro.” Carmen 24: “Res miranda satis deiectaque culmine summo!” Carmen 25–7:  “Si quis ab Isiaco consul procedat in urbem,/ risus orbis erit; quis te non rideat autem,/ qui fueris consul, nunc Isidis esse ministrum?” I take Isiacus as a masculine noun (as regularly elsewhere) rather than the neuter, referring to a shrine, preferred by Cameron, Last Pagans of Romee, 321; I can find no parallel for the latter. Lizzi Testa, “Christian Emperor,Vestal Virgins and Priestly Colleges,” 256–7, notes (in a different context) the subordinate connotations of the term minister.

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follows:  a seven-line barrage of direct scolding, in which the addressee is kept relentlessly in focus (the second person pronoun and possessive are far more conspicuous here than anywhere else in the poem: te, tuum, tibi, te, tua, tuis) and which is presented in the language of public shame.19 This passage opens with another exclamation, that what shames the addressee a first time (this must refer to his earlier allegiance to paganism) does not the second. He damages his mind by the “foul” hymns of his new coreligionists, as the mob responds to him and the senate “tears into” him. This vivid image begins by evoking Isiac ritual practice, but veers away to an abstract confrontation between the ex-consul’s vulgar choir and an outraged senate.20 We then move still further from the world of public worship, with what becomes the defining image of the passage: the alleged redecoration of the senator’s house. The proud portrait of a consul with his fasces is supplanted by one with the dog mask and rattle that identify the devotee of Isis, a picture conveniently presented in one of the illustrations to the codex-calendar of 354 and so (we should suppose) readily recognizable to the poet’s audience.21 But this exuberant deployment of iconographical tropes should not be mistaken for a report of a redecoration program. Like the papyrus slipper strap a few lines earlier, the dog mask launches the poet directly into a carefully worked exclamation, this time a double one: this was the senator’s abasement, the image of his abasement;22 and these Isiac decorations would endure forever, a monument permanently scarring his home. To appreciate how distinctive this line of argument is, we need only turn to the condemnation of the rites of Isis in the other two satires. The Poema Ultimum uses the same materials, the rattle and dog mask, to take the devotees of the cult to task, but the poet’s main complaint is that they do not hide their 19

Carmen 28–34: “Quodque pudet primo te non pudet esse secundo! Ingeniumque tuum turpes damnare per hymnos, respondente tibi uulgo et lacerante senatu, teque domo propria pictum cum fascibus ante nunc quoque cum sistro faciem portare caninam. Haec tua humilitas et humilitatis imago est! Aedibus illa tuis semper monumenta manebunt.” t

20 21

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See n. 27 for the phrase “lacerante senatu” at Carmen 30. Salzman, On Roman Time, e 77–8, with illustrations at figures 22, 28, 42, 51, 53. Salzman points out that this Roman iconography is distinctive; provincial mosaics uniformly use female portraits for the November Isis theme. Humilitas, emphasized by repetition in Carmen 33, here has the traditional negative connotations rather than the positive Christian ones, despite the translation in Croke and Harries, Religious Conflictt, 84: “Is this humility? It is but a semblance of humility.” See Corsano and Palla, eds., Ad un senatoree, 123–4.

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shameful accessories away, but place them “through public places”; a few lines later he wonders what Serapis had done to earn the tearing apart he received from his worshippers, “through various and disgraceful places.”23 The focus for our poet remains personal and domestic throughout.The senator’s involvement seems confined to his own home; even the hymns of Isis damage only his own mind, and the antiphony between responsive crowd and aggressively censorious senate is not played out in the public domain. Nothing, in fact, is said about any action that had exposed the addressee to public scorn from his Christian peers – the natural inference is that the poet was unable to cite any such action. Most striking of all is the failure to mention the annual festival cycle of the Isia and Hilaria in late October and early November, when the body parts of Osiris were first declared lost and extravagantly mourned, and were then found with equally extravagant celebrations. This was the favorite target of all Christian critics of Isis. The Carmen Contra Paganos mocks its prefect for participation in the rites “when barking Anubis sadly sought poor Osiris, so that he could lose him again when he had found him”;24 the Poema Ultimum makes a similar point about the antics of Isis devotees in public places, as “they look for something and rejoice when they have found it and lose it again so that they can find it.”25 Paulinus of Nola has a long excursus on the ritual in his discussion of pagan absurdities in Carmen 19, even when it was no longer a feature of public worship: “No longer does Isis wander in search of Osiris through the marshes of Pelusium with her bald-headed priests beating their breasts, adding their own grief to one who does not concern them. And then, turning from their mad lamentation, they indulge in equally foolish joy, pretending he is found by the same invention they used as they strayed looking for what they had never lost”; he continues in this vein for another sixteen lines.26 Our poet’s silence is therefore highly significant.That he did not think to associate his subject with the notorious public rituals of Isis adds further support to the view that the senator’s involvement with the cult was far less overt than has usually been supposed.27

23

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25

26 27

Poema Ultimum 117–18: “Quid quod et Isiaca sistrumque caputque caninum/ non magis abscondunt, sed per loca publica ponunt?” t 123–4: “Quid Serapis meruit, qui sic laceratur ab ipsis/ per uarios turpesque locos?” Carmen Contra Paganos 100–1:  “Cumque Osirim miserum lugens latrator Anubis/ quaereret, inuentum rursum quem perdere posset.” t Poema Ultimum 119–20: “Nescio quid certe quaerunt gaudentque repertum/ rursus et amittunt quod rursus quaerere possintt.” Paulinus Nol. Carmen 19.112–33. Corsano and Palla, eds., Ad un senatoree, 121–2, explore the possibility that the enigmatic phrase at Carmen 30, “et lacerante senatu,” refers to the ritual; however, this would undermine any contrast with the mob’s support for the senator’s hymns.

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All this offers strong support to the position that the ex-consul was a real person. Straw men, created in order to be demolished, do not need to be attacked in the roundabout and indirect method that our poet seems to be using; real Roman senators, on the other hand, were powerful and influential figures who were not lightly crossed.28 To speak truth about power, let alone to it, commands credit in any age; the satirical presentations of senatorial foibles in the Res Gestae of Ammianus Marcellinus suggest the possibilities that our author was seeking to tap. But had the senator’s only failings been hair loss and a preference for Egyptian slippers, fair-minded Christian readers would have condemned the attack as a gratuitous slur on an eminent fellow believer. The poem indicates clearly, however, that the senator had, in fact, done something to provide basis for the labels the poet imposes. The crucial testimony comes at the end of the poem, in a remark that poses severe difficulties for any traditional interpretation of the piece. The poet admonishes the senator to learn to keep faith with God: “Lest perchance you suffer the same fall a second time, because it is truly said that he who having tripped over a stone does not know how to avoid it a second time and carelessly hurts himself again must ascribe blame to himself, and not to any accidents.”29 The clear implication here is that the senator has been guilty of one (minor) fault and only one; it is difficult to reconcile this with the multitude of sins involved in any out-and-out rejection of Christianity and embrace of traditional religion, nor is it easy to see either how an initial lapse into paganism could be treated as an unfortunate accident that could be attributed to circumstances, or a subsequent one explained as carelessness. The stakes here seem to relate more to a Wildean handbag than to the fate of an immortal soul. Yet the poet is quite unequivocal on this point, which comes some forty lines after his Isiac attack, at the end of a sustained sermon on the virtues of moderation in which he abandons the ingenious invective that had provided his initial momentum for a more thoughtful register; and he recapitulates it in his penultimate line: “It was sufficient to sin once.”30

29

Aug. Conf. 6.10.16 offers a powerful vignette of the resources available to a “potentissimus senator.” Carmen 78–82: “disce deo seruare fidem, ne forte bis unum incurras lapsum, quia uere dicitur illud: qui pedis offensi lapidem uitare secundo nescit et incautus iterum uexauerit artus, imputet ipse sibi nec casibus imputet ullis.”

30

Carmen 84: “suffecit peccare semel.” l

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Moreover, the poet tells us what this single sin was  – and the cautious hedging with which he does so takes us far from the certainties of the schoolroom. Immediately after his litany of shame he confronts the senator with the information available to him: And a public rumour has reached our ears too, That you have said:  “Goddess, I  have gone astray; forgive me, I  have returned.”31

The significance of these lines is usually lost because this is seen as just one stage in the apostate’s reengagement with the cult of Isis. However, here we have a single act, one sufficient both to explain the emphasis in the concluding lines on a single lapse and to justify the outrageous claims about pagan conversion made in the immediately preceding section of the text. Significantly, the poet disclaims autopsy, or indeed certainty: what he reports is public rumor, known only by hearsay. The Christian senator, we should surmise, was reliably reported to have entered an Isiac sanctuary; on the other hand, given the poet’s acknowledgment of his lack of direct knowledge (not to mention the improbability that he would have had access to any witnesses) the (suspiciously Christian) words he puts into his mouth there must be taken as invention rather than quotation. Our precise understanding of the stakes here will depend on our reading of the next line, in which the senator’s dealings are placed in the imperfect and are therefore implied to be habitual. “Tell me, if you can,” taunts the poet, “when you often made requests like this and sought forgiveness, what words did she say to you?”32 The imperfect suggests repeated action; and commentators have generally treated this as one aspect of the apostate’s new devotions, the sequel to his confessions.33 But the two imperfect verbs, with the intensifying adverb (cum ... saepe rogares et ... peteres), point rather to a previous habit. The poet, let us remember, is happy to treat his addressee as originally a pagan; this passage therefore looks back to the futility of his earlier idolatry rather than to any recently adopted patterns of worship.This too is the clear implication of the remark that follows, where the plural pronoun picks up the practices of confession and prayer just described: “Again you seek out these things, and do not realize that you are doing wrong.”34

31 32

33 34

Carmen 35–6: “Rumor et ad nostras peruenit publicus aures/te dixisse: Dea, erraui; ignosce, rediui.” i Carmen 37–8:  “Dic mihi si ualeas:  cum talia saepe rogares/et ueniam peteres, quae tecum uerba locuta est?” t Corsano and Palla, eds., Ad un senatoree, 125: “dopo la ‘confessione.’” Carmen 40: “Haec iterum repetis, nec te delinquere sentis.”

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The poem therefore imputes only one Isis-related episode to the ex-consul. This need not (as will be argued in more detail later) have made the latter an apostate in his own estimation; and the labored ingenuity with which our poet constructs his case suggests that the audience would not automatically have drawn the conclusion either. But as Dennis Trout notes elsewhere in this volume, this was an era when “difference was in danger of slipping away.” The alacrity with which our poet seizes on this single initiative by the senator, treating it first as a crime to be denounced and then as an accident deserving sympathetic treatment as he adjusts his register, offers a concrete instance of what the business of “making difference” might have involved for the self-appointed custodians of core Christian values.35 We can detect genuine insecurity in the onslaught that this one infraction triggered; we can also find in the poet’s creative exuberance a sense of the opportunities available to those looking to advertise their own preferred boundaries to Christian identity. One reason previous commentators have missed the limited scope and tendentious character of the poet’s claims about the senator is that they have underestimated his cleverness. As mentioned earlier, our bald ex-consul is only unveiled twenty lines into the poem. What precedes his introduction is an exercise in misdirection that has proved all too successful with modern readers, although the poem’s original audience can be supposed to have been more alert. After a short preface, the poet asks a simple question about his addressee: “For who may allow that you should believe that the Great Mother could be called a goddess, and should think that she should be worshipped again, whose devotees are branded by scandalous infamy?”36 So begin ten lines of highly wrought invective against Magna Mater and (especially) her eunuch priests. Modern readers have taken this as a criticism of the senator for involving himself in the notorious rituals associated with the cult of the goddess;37 but the poet never says this. In the passage just quoted, the cultores who are branded with infamia are kept carefully distinct from the “you,” for whom the issue is one of belief and thought. The second person then disappears altogether. This deserves emphasis because a favorite target of late Latin Christian satirists was precisely those public dealings between eminent citizens and outlandishly grotesque priests that were so conspicuous a feature of the great annual festival of the Megalensia. The Carmen Contra

35 36

37

For discussion of this issue, see Trout, this volume. Carmen 6–8:  “Quis patiatur enim te Matrem credere magnam/posse deam dici rursusque putare colendam,/cuius cultores infamia turpis inurit?” t Thus Cameron, Last Pagans of Rome, e 325: “hobnobbing with effeminates and sodomites.”

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Paganos three times exploits the juxtaposition:  the prefect was confident that his sins would remain hidden because “you were always surrounded by the dogs of the Great Mother, you whom a band of perverts (horror!) accompanied in your procession”;“not one of these consecrated men should be allowed to retain his modesty when they follow their custom of chanting falsetto during the Megalensian games”; Rome had seen “prominent senators following the chariot of Cybele, dragged by a hired band at the Megalensian festival.”38 The Poema Ultimum likewise complains that “even now” the eunuchs continued to conduct their mysteries, and that there was no shortage of men for them to corrupt.39 But in the Carmen the senator is kept safely removed from any such taint: everything here relates to the eunuch priests, whose behavior is lovingly cataloged in a series of fourteen verbs; the rites that they celebrate are their own (suos celebrant ritus). This should be seen as a deliberately calculated move. The poet has announced in his preface that he has “seen” his addressee once more involve himself in empty idolatry; once we have recognized that there was no straightforward case of apostasy for him to denounce, we can see what follows as a careful ratcheting up of suspense. By beginning with Magna Mater he teases us with the possibility that this might be the charge (and if we were to include the senator himself among the intended readership, this would help explain the careful control with which the teasing is administered). Nor does he merely rehearse the traditional clichés about the eunuch priests. A manuscript correction recently endorsed by Alan Cameron provides a deliciously obscene climax to this passage, trumping anything in the centuries-old litany of satirical abuse of the Galli, which will help explain the poet’s decision to take this particular course on his roundabout route toward Isis.40 The indirect approach the poet adopts,so different from the double-barreled question with which the author of the Carmen Contra Paganos opens his account against the stupidity of his ostensible audience’s beliefs (“Tell, you who revere groves and the Sibyl’s cave ...”) and then confronts them with the failings of his principal target (“Tell:  what use to the city was your 38

39

40

Carmen Contra Paganos 65–6: “cum canibus Megales semper circumdatus esses,/ quem lasciva cohors (monstrum) comitaret ouantem”; 76–7:  “Sacrato liceat nulli servare pudorem,/frangere cum uocem soleant Megalensibus actis”; 106–7: “egregios proceres currum seruare Cybellae,/quem traheret conducta manus Megalensibus actis.” I cite the translation of Cameron, Last Pagans of Rome, 807–8. e Poema Ultimum 88–93: “Nunc quoque semiuiri mysteria turpia plangunt/ nec desunt homines quos haec contagia uertant.” Cameron, Last Pagans of Romee, 321, for the manuscript correction of Carmen 13, “laxatosque tenent extenso pollice lumbos” of pollicee to podicee: the priests’ sagging hips are thus explained by their stretched anuses. For the Galli as a soft target for satirists, see Trout, this volume.

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prefect ...”),41 once again invites questions about the context, and in particular the relationship between the author, his addressee, and his wider audience. The author of the Carmen Contra Paganos is primarily interested in flaying a safely dead prefect, and his indifference to the grove-enthusiasts whom he apostrophizes at the beginning is indicated by his apparently forgetting their existence halfway through the poem;42 equally remote from his likely readership is the prefect’s widow, conjured up in the final lines solely in order to be slapped down with the command that she “stop weeping for such a husband.”43 This is an exercise in applied malice, created for a Christian audience committed to an uncompromising policing of boundaries.44 Our poet, by contrast, might take some time to reach his addressee but thereafter he keeps him consistently in his sights; moreover, after his initial salvo about Isis, his recriminations become much less straightforwardly polemical. Because the second half of the poem lacks the gusto of the first it has received rather less attention, but as the poet shifts from the exposure of faults to the prescription of remedies it becomes progressively more obvious that the poet does not have any ready-made right to lay down the law. In this he stands in sharp contrast to the author of the Poema Ultimum, who explicitly derives his authority from his own experience.45 The poet’s difficulty first emerges when, deploring his subject’s Isiac relapse, he complains that the sin is much worse because the senator knew better. He had “passed through the entrance of the truth-loving law”; he had had the advantage of “knowing God for a few years.”46 This is couched in the language of Christian initiation, but the emphasis on the senator’s period of acquaintance with the faith should mean that he was a catechumen, because the commitment baptism represented did not depend on how recently or otherwise the sacrament had been administered. In emphasizing the senator’s knowledge of the Christian law, however, the poet frames the issue as one of conscience rather than of ecclesiastical discipline.The Church is in fact never once mentioned in the poem, either as something that has 41

42

43 44 45

46

Carmen Contra Paganos 1: “Dicite, qui colitis lucos antrumque Sibyllaee ...”; 25: “Dicite: praefectus uester quid profuit urbi.” i They last appear at Carmen Contra Paganos 46 (recapitulating 25: see previous note): “Sacratus uester quid profuit urbi, oro?” Carmen Contra Paganos 121: “Desine post hydropem talem deflere maritum.” For the context see now Cameron, Last Pagans of Rome, e 272–319. Poema Ultimum 1–3, 152–63. The Carmen Contra Paganos did not need to justify its excoriation of its notorious, and dead, prefect; Cameron, Last Pagans of Rome, e 309–17, builds a persuasive case for Bishop Damasus as the author. Carmen 43–44:  “at cum uericolae penetraueris ostia legis,/ et tibi nosse deum paucis prouenerit annis ...”

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been abandoned or as a refuge to be regained; we might again contrast the Poema Ultimum, which presents the author being received there, into the “harbour of safety” that is the direct guarantor of his hopes for eternity.47 Baptism was the obvious means of dropping anchor, as the Poema Ultimum indicates, and there were penitential procedures to deal with subsequent lapses.48 The Carmen ignores all such recourses. Not the least of its significance is that it offers an example of a lay Christian voice, taking upon itself the pastoral responsibility that was being claimed, during this same period, as a clerical monopoly.49 The point is relevant to the roadmap to redemption presented at the end of the poem, one that seems distinctly low-key after the torrid language of disgrace and abasement employed to expose the senator’s Isiac associations. Time, it now emerges, is to be the healer: But perhaps ripe old age will call you back to correction And the better path, when you have had enough of these errors, For time brings change, time sets everything in order. Therefore, then, when age and experience have restored you, Learn to keep faith with God ...50

The stakes thus prove surprisingly low. There is no urgency here; the poet is content to leave redemption to take care of itself, consigning it to an unspecified and perhaps remote future. At one level this no doubt reflects his inability, as a layman, to prescribe any sanctions; the approach would make good sense, moreover, if his central charge is an ingenious fabrication, a loaded interpretation of a single gesture that the senator himself might well have believed to be entirely compatible with his professed Christian faith. The poet makes a point of adopting a constructive approach, offering an easily achieved positive outcome to the problem that he had revealed.

48

49

50

Poema Ultimum 154–6:  “sancta salutari suscepit ecclesia portu/ ut mihi iam liceat, detersa nube malorum/ tempore promisso lucem sperare serenam.” Ibid., 155, “detersa nube malorum,” with commentary by Corsano and Palla, eds., Poema Ultimum, 150. The cavalier approach to penitential procedure can be read against the careful treatment in Ambrosiaster, Quaest. 102. For the context, see Lunn-Rockliffe, Ambrosiaster’s Political Theology, 63–86. Carmen 74–7: “Sed te correctum forsan matura senectus in melius reuocat satiatum erroribus istis; tempus enim mutat, mala digerit omnia tempus. Tunc igitur cum te consulta reduxerit aetas ...”

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The poet develops the theme further in the very last lines, when he issues a series of commands that culminate in one that urges the senator (in an echo of the injunction to the prefect’s widow in the last line of Carmen Contra Paganos) to change his ways: “Stop being afraid: he will not be held to blame, who repents that he has previously been so.”51 The force of this expression, one of the poet’s more effective flourishes, has been duly appreciated.52 However, the imperative is negative rather than positive, and does not require the senator to do anything. Although the poet exploits the language of Christian penitence, he does not impose or recommend any sort of penitential discipline; still less does he point toward the font.The framework remains resolutely laicized.53 But in any case the Church found it difficult to make its standard rules apply to powerful senators. In this respect, poets arguably had an advantage over bishops. For these sonorously compelling final words invest the author with considerable authority. Not least, the commandment with which he concludes would not be compromised even if the senator was known to have contemptuously dismissed any presentation (or pirated) copy offered him.The poem ends in a manner that would allow the author to declare victory, no matter what the reaction to publication. One of this cluster of final imperatives had told the senator to “Put straight your mind.” This too is calculated, deftly picking up a theme first advertised in a complaint against the “mindlessness” of the senator’s flirtation with Isis, and resumed in a proclamation of the benefits of a “stable mind.”54 The virtues of this latter quality had been presented at some length, as a bundle of miscellaneous adages that few commentators have appreciated.55 Common sense is the key: “high wisdom does not satisfy.”56 Everything is harmful if carried to extremes. “The poet Vergil” teaches that to sit too long is to suffer;57 long dinners are harmful, long fasts tiresome (a proposition presented as a truism, which indicates that our poet operated a safe distance from the aggressively ascetic extremism fashionable among

51 52 53

54

55

56 57

Carmen 84–85: “Desiste uereri:non erit in culpa, quem paenitet ante fuisse.” e Corsano and Palla, eds., Ad un senatoree, 141. A similar point is made about God’s mercy, again from a lay perspective, at Poema Ultimum 238–40:  “... quod peccatorem quem paenitet antea lapsum/non facitt in numero turbae peccantis haberii.” But these lines conclude a descriptive presentation of the redemptive scheme; they are not applied to any particular case. Carmen 39: “Uere mente cares, sequeris qui mente carentes”; 66: “Mens autem stabilis nullo peruenitur aestu.” Poinsotte, “Le consul de 382,” 300: “un prêchi-prêcha moralisateur ... cette verbeuse et incolore admonestation.” Carmen 51: “sapientia non placet alta.” Ibid. 59–61.

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some elements of the Christian elite);58 too much knowledge makes a man stupid.59 The relevance of all this homespun wisdom to the senator’s situation is not immediately obvious, nor is the connection made any clearer by the two striking cameos that the poet creates for him to bookend the catalog of saws and instances. Instead, these two outbursts rear abruptly from the text. A scolding that the senator failed sufficiently to distinguish truth from falsehood escalates unexpectedly into a claim that for all his pretensions to be a philosopher, he was so unstable that if the people’s anger stirred his passions, he would turn Jew.60 Even more unexpected is the second instance, when we suddenly hear the senator protesting to his goddess (without any of the usual cues to introduce the speaker or mark the switch to oratio recta) that the “wicked sect” had taught him that moderation was a virtue.61 These two outbursts serve to arrest the reader, and seem designed more to attract attention than to convey thought or argument. They serve principally to frame and so enhance the cargo of conventional wisdom contained in the intervening lines, and so bring this cargo impressively home. The poet’s arrangement of his material here might even suggest that he cared less about any flirtation with pagan deities than to reaffirm a cherished set of values, which he might justly suspect an insouciantly cosmopolitan aristocrat of failing properly to appreciate.62 The poet had claimed at the outset a connection with his addressee, and that connection is likely to have consisted of that tenuous but tenacious thread, a shared schooling in classical literary culture.Years of expensive literary training are apparent in the stock on which the poet draws; the citation from Vergil is the tip of a modest iceberg of classical erudition, and most of the school authors have been identified in his repertoire.63 And the very beginning of the poem, looking back through a lifetime of poetic enthusiasm, establishes the classroom of the grammaticus as the likely point of initial contact: When I saw you enslaved again to various and empty rites And being held by your former error, 58 59 60

61

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63

Ibid. 62: “Prandia longa nocent, ieiunia longa fatigant.” t Ibid. 63: “Sic nimium sapere stultum facit.” t Ibid. 48–50: “Philosophum fingis, cum te sententia mutet,/nam tibi si stomachum popularis mouerit ira,/et Iudaeus eris, totusque incertus haberis.” Cameron, Last Pagans of Rome, 326, takes the alleged possibility of conversion to Judaism as an argument in favor of an Antiochene context. Carmen 63–5: “improba secta/ me dea sic docuit moderamen amabile dixit.” t The words have been variously construed; I follow Corsano and Palla, eds., Ad un senatoree, 134. A possible constituency with which such values would resonate is sketched by Brown, Through the Eye of a Needle, 36–8. e Corsano and Palla, eds., Ad un senatoree, 59; the commentary gives full details of echoes deliberate or accidental.

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I was shocked and dumbfounded. Because you have always enjoyed poems, Responding in poetry I have hastened to write verses That I might reproach you for preferring darkness to light.64

Here the poet sets out the terms of a relationship, presenting two old friends with a long history subtly reinforced by a series of adverbs and adjectives: iterum, prisco, semper. The four first-person verbs establish the author as audience and actor in the drama: he saw, he was shocked, he hastened, he would reproach; and two of these verbs, the first and the last in the sequence, have “you” as the object.There is closer intimacy here than anywhere else in the poem; the poet never again juxtaposes himself and his subject. The senator’s enduring love (the first verb that he governs is a striking one) of poetry should be traced to the schools of Rome, where such partiality would have found its initial outlet, and where the ordinarily respectable enjoyed exhilarating opportunities to rub shoulders with the gilded offspring of the top families of Rome, encounters that in all probability signified much more for them than for their schoolmates.65 One possible context for our poem is thus the opportunity that a controversial gesture by a conspicuous Christian would provide for a probably forgotten acquaintance to assert himself, and the values he held dear, at his expense. This brings us, finally, to the question of the ex-consul’s identity. The argument thus far invites us to look beyond the list of candidates previously canvassed. The poet is addressing someone who might well have considered himself a good Christian. One possibility that cannot be altogether excluded is that the senator had not held the ordinary consulship itself, but had been a suffect consul, a junior (and often very young) deputy responsible primarily for presiding over the city’s anniversary games.66 The profile of such figures in the ceremonial round at Rome during the fourth century will not have been negligible, given how rarely the city enjoyed the presence of a genuine consul. However, such a solution would catapult the poet considerably down 64

Carmen 1–5: “Cum te diuersis iterum uanisque uiderem inseruire sacris priscoque errore teneri, obstipui motus. Quia carmina semper amasti, carmine respondens, properaui scribere uersus ut te corriperem tenebras praeponere luci.” i

65

66

McLynn, “Orosius, Jerome and the Goths,” 328, for the asymmetry in the relationship between Jerome and Pammachius. Bagnall, Cameron, and Schwartz, Consuls, 2–3, 21; Chastagnol, “Observations sur le consulat suffect.”

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the social scale. That he foregrounds his subject’s consulship would suggest that the latter had not gone on to achieve any more substantial office; both in singling him out for monumentalization and in treating him with such respectful circumspection he would be betraying the modesty of his own horizons. But these same features  – the particular fight that the poet chooses to pick and elaborately indirect manner in which he does so  – point more naturally toward an ordinary consul. The prestige attached to these figures made them worth a satirist’s attention. Not many fourth-century consuls were domiciled in Rome, and not all of these spent any part of their consular year there;67 and some of these, the likes of Q. Aurelius Symmachus, can comfortably be excluded. But one figure on the list gives particular food for thought. Q. Clodius Hermogenianus Olybrius was a conspicuous and controversial figure, who as city prefect in 368–9 had precipitated the spate of treason trials that convulsed senatorial society.68 After investiture at the imperial court at Sirmium in January 379, he spent most of his consular year as Theodosius’ praetorian prefect in Antioch, but probably returned to Rome before the close of the year.69 He held no further office, but remained a powerful presence in Rome in the mid-380s; he had died by 395.70 Olybrius was a Christian, born of Christian parents and celebrated for his own acts of devotion. Prudentius would single him out, a decade and more after his death, as the “heir of the name of Olybrius” who: Although added to the fasti and conspicuous in the palm-embroidered cloak, Is eager to lower the rods of Brutus before the martyr’s doors And to bend the axe of Italy to Christ.71

But by our poet’s stern criteria, he might yet have qualified as a once and future pagan. Ardently censorious (and envious) schoolboys might easily have seen the ceremonial duties thrust upon their better-born classmates, in their capacity as teenage quaestors or suffects, as intrinsically unchristian. 67

68 69 70 71

The list consists of: Q. Flavius Maesius Egnatius Lollianus Mavortius (355), Neratius Cerealis (358), Sex. Claudius Petronius Probus (371, although his consular year seems to have been spent at Sirmium where he was serving as praetorian prefect), Q. Clodius Hermogenianus Olybrius (379), Q.  Aurelius Symmachus (391), Anicius Hermogenianus Olybrius and Anicius Probinus (395), and Nonius Atticus (397). Lizzi Testa, Senatori, popolo, papi,i 253–62. His successor had his first law issued to him on January 15, 380 (CTh 9.27.1). Symm. Rel. 28; Claudian Consul. Olyb. et Prob. 30 for the force of his memory. Prudentius Contra Symm. 1.554–7: “Quin et Olybriaci generisque et nominis haeres/ Adiectus fastis, palmata insignis abolla,/ Martyris ante fores Bruti submittere fasces/ Ambit, et Ausoniam Christo inclinare securim.”

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Nor can we be entirely certain when Christian fathers found nomination to the traditional priestly colleges, with all the prestige and social advantage that these conferred, unacceptable for their sons. And Olybrius would seem to have had a taste for flamboyant religious gestures, from the vignette provided by Prudentius – which shows him with the paraphernalia associated with the consulate.72 A man capable of such spectacular exhibitions at the martyr-shrines of Rome would have been able to impose himself upon those of Isis too – and whether he went there to preach or on a more inclusive outreach mission, a visit would by itself have sufficed to trigger the anxieties among more conventional Christians recorded in the Carmen. Other solutions of course remain possible. But any reading of the poem such as that proposed here will bring out two important points that have received insufficient weight in recent work on the last days of Roman paganism: the anxieties generated among conservative Christians by the freedom available to their fellow believers from the noblest families to put into practice their own interpretations of the faith; and the enduring value of paganism to literary Christians not just as a tool to think with and a weapon to hit out with, but also as a means of asserting their own conceptions of the limits of the religiously permissible.

Bibliography Bagnall, R. S., A. Cameron, and S. R. Schwartz. Consuls of the Later Roman Empire (Atlanta, 1987). Bartalucci, A. “L’antica esegesi virgiliana in un carme anonimo cristiano.” Studi classici e orientali 42 (1992): 127–45. ed. “Contro i pagani”: Carmen cod. Paris. Lat. 8084. Introduzione, testo critico, traduzione e commento di Aldo Bartalucci (Poeti Cristiani 3) (Pisa, 1998). Begley, R. “The Carmen ad quendam senatorem. Date, milieu and tradition.” PhD diss., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1984 (Ann Arbor, 1985). Boxus, A.-M. and Poucet, J. “Carmen ad quendam senatorem.” Folia Electronica Classica (Louvain-la-Neuve) (2010):  20:  http://bcs.fltr.ucl.ac.be/FE/20/TM20.html accessed July 2013. Brewer, H. “Über den Heptateuchdichter Cyprian und die Coena Cypriani.” Zeitschrift für Katholische Theologie 28 (1904): 92–115. Brown, P. Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350–550 AD (Princeton, 2012). Cameron, A. The Last Pagans of Rome (New York and Oxford, 2011). Chastagnol, A., “Observations sur le consulat suffect et la préture du bas-empire,” Revue historique 219 (1958): 235–8. 72

McLynn, “Damasus of Rome,” 316–17.

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Consolino, F. E. “Pagani, Cristiani e produzione letteraria latina da Giuliano l’Apostata al sacco di Roma,” in F. E. Consolino, ed., Pagani e Cristiani da Giuliano l’Apostata al sacco di Roma. Atti del Convegno internazionale di studi (Rende, 12/13 nov. 1993). (Messina, 1995), 311–28. Corsano, M. and R. Palla, eds. Ps.-Cipriano. Ad un senatore convertitosi dalla religione cristiana alla schiavitù degli idoli. Introduction by M. Corsano and R. Palla. Text by R. Palla. Transl. and commentary by M. Corsano (Poeti Cristiani, 7) (Pisa, 2006). Cracco-Ruggini, L. “Il paganesimo romano tra religione e politica (384–394 d. C.). Per una interpretazione del Carmen contra Paganos,” in Atti della Accademia nazionale dei Lincei. Classe di scienze morali, storiche e filologiche. Memorie 23 (1979), 3–141. Croke, B. and J. Harries. Religious Conflict in Fourth-Century Rome: A Documentary Study. Sources in ancient history (Sydney, 1982). de Labriolle, P. Histoire de la littérature latine chrétienne, 3rd rev. ed. by G. Bardy, 2  vol. Collection d’études anciennes (Paris, 1947). Ebert, A. Allgemeine Geschichte der Literatur des Mittelalters im Abendlande. I. Geschichte der christlich-lateinischen Literatur von ihren Anfängen bis zum Zeitlater Karls des Grossen (Leipzig, 1874). Fontaine, J. Naissance de la poésie dans l’Occident chrétien. Esquisse d’une histoire de la poésie latine chrétienne du IIIe au VIe siècle. Études augustiniennes (Paris, 1981). Hermann, L. “Claudius Antonius et la crise religieuse de 394 ap. J.-C.,” in PANKARPEIA:  Mélanges Henri Grégoire [= Annuaire de l’Institut de Philologie et d’Histoire Orientales et Slaves 10 (Brussels, 1950), 329–42. Lizzi Testa, R. “Christian Emperor, Vestal Virgins and Priestly Colleges: Reconsidering the End of Roman Paganism.” Antiquité Tardive 15 (2007): 251–62. Senatori, popolo e papi: II governo di Roma al tempo dei Valentiniani. (Bari, 2004). Lunn-Rockliffe, S. Ambrosiaster’s Political Theology (Oxford, 2007). Mazzarino, S. Antico, tardoantico ed èra costantiniana (Roma, 1974). McLynn, N. B. “Damasus of Rome. A Fourth-Century Pope in Context,” in T. Fuhrer, ed., Rom und Mailand in der Spätantike. Repräsentationen städtischer Räume in Literatur, Architektur und Kunst, (Berlin, 2011): 305–25. “Jerome, Orosius and the Goths,” in J. Lipps, C. Machado, and P. von Rummel, eds., The Sack of Rome in 410 AD: The Event, Its Context and Its Impact: Proceedings of the Conference Held at the German Archaeological Institute at Rome, November 4–6, 2010 (Wiesbaden, 2013): 323–34. Morelli, C. L’autore del cosiddetto “Poema ultimum” attribuito a Paolino di Nola (Hartel 32). Didaskaleion 1 (1912): 481–98. Perelli, A. “Ad quendam senatorem ex Christiana religione ad idolorum religionem conversum.” Schol(i)a. Rivista quadrimestrale di letteratura greca e latina 2, no. 2 (2000): 97–105 and 2, no. 3 (2000): 103–14. Poinsotte, J.-M. “Le consul de 382 Fl. Claudius Antonius fut-il un auteur antipaïen?” Revue des études latines 60 (1982): 298–312. Rosen, K. “Ein Wanderer zwischen zwei Welten:  Carmen ad quendam senatorem ex Christiana religione ad idolorum servitutem conversum,” in K. Dietz, D. Hennig, and H. Kaletsch, eds., Klassisches Altertum. Spätantike und frühes Christentum. Adolf Lippold zum 65. Geburtstag gewidmet. Selbstverlag des Seminars für Alte Geschichte der Universität Würzburg (Würzburg, 1993), 393–408.

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Salzman, M. R. On Roman Time: The Codex-Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1990). Sordi, M. “È di Cipriano il ‘Carmen ad quendam senatorem’?” Aevum 82 (2008): 149–54. Wischmeyer, W. “Bemerkungen und Beobachtungen zu Ps. Cyprian, Carmen ad quendam senatorem ex Christiana religione ad idolorum servitutem conversum,” in J. A. Loader and H. V. Kiesweler, eds., Vielseitigkeit des Alten Testaments. Festschrift für Georg Sauer zum 70. Geburtstag. Wiener Alttestamentliche Studien 1 (Francfort, 1999), 335–43.

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PROFESSIONES GENTILICIAE : THE COLLEGIA OF ROME BETWEEN PAGANISM AND CHRISTIANITY Francesca Diosono The Roman professional collegium has long been considered one of the principal elements of the economy and of daily life, especially as regards the lower social classes.The collegia were in fact an expression of the lower middle class of the Roman world, both in the West and in the East, of its desire to succeed, its potential, its economic activities, and its culture. If we fail to give it its due importance we lose a fundamental element for our understanding of Roman society and the organization of Rome’s economy. Even today, when approaching the theme of collegia we must first confront a methodological problem, that is, whether to privilege the professional or the religious aspect of these institutions.While a single, primary activity may have characterized the collegium, we must not forget that many other activities were carried out within each association as well. To attribute one exclusive activity to a collegium is a faulty approach, often dictated by a desire to simply catalog rather than understand the institution in all its complexity. The Roman collegia served a series of related functions that can be synthesized as follows: the professional element (it was a voluntary union of people who practiced the same profession, sharing the advantages and the disadvantages of their activity); religious aspects (the members honored and worshipped specific deities who protected their collegia and together practiced common cult rites, including the imperial cult); economic aspects (through the habere corpus, the legal entity recognized by the association, the management of the kitty and of other personal goods, as well as landed property and often A sincere thank you to Rita Lizzi Testa, Michele Renee Salzman, and Marianne Sághy for all the invaluable tips and advice they shared during the drafting of this chapter; Carlo Pavolini for his long-standing courtesy and kindness and for his excellent suggestion on this occasion, while the final publication of the excavation in the Basilica Hilariana is currently in press; Helen Patterson for her advice and the correction of the English translation of this text; Karen Stark for her precious collaboration revising the text.

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very sizeable incomes, as well as the management of monopolies and of state concessions); territorial aspects (in the large centers, members often worked in the same area, whereas in small centers they represented an entire sector of the production of the town); social aspects (the socii presented themselves as a united group with respect to the state, to high-ranking personages, important administrative posts, or influential people, and in exchange their civic role and their position in the urban social hierarchy were recognized); political aspects (they developed profitable, reciprocal relationships with patrons and influential public personages); welfare (offering assistance to poorer members or to the families of members who had died); help with the funerary expenses upon the death of one of the members (the majority of the associations took care of the funeral rites or participated in the ceremonies in the memory of the deceased); festive occasions (with the involvement of the association in banquets, parties, ceremonies, major gatherings, distributiones); and finally, legal and administrative aspects (the collegium had its own rules and an internal hierarchical organization and could impose fines and sanctions on members who did not respect its regulations). Clearly the collegium was a complex entity and it is totally misleading to define the association solely on the basis of its principal role from which its official name also derived. In order to arrive at a full understanding of these institutions we need to study the entire series of activities in which they were involved. Francesco Maria de Robertis’s definition of “association,” voluntary gatherings of individuals who pursue a common and permanent goal according to common rules,1 fits the concept of the collegium perfectly. More recently, Marco Galli stated that “Regardless of the denomination chosen by a specific association and the field in which they are active, one must nevertheless imagine that the basis of an association consisted of a complex interweaving of economic, social, and religious factors; one must keep in mind that people practicing the same professions or sharing similar interests came together with the aim of reciprocally strengthening their business opportunities and economic and social relationships.”2 According to Andreas Bendlin, the prominence given to the sacred element must be interpreted as a decisive factor in the constitution and consolidation of the identity both of the single member and of the group.3 Jörg Rüpke had proposed that the direct reference to the sacred aspect was characteristic of every type of social grouping in the ancient world, thus creating 1 2 3

De Robertis, Il fenomeno associativo, 2–3. Galli, Rituale e struttura comunicativa, 4. Bendlin, “Gemeinschaft,” 13.

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a religious connective network that gave significance and stability to these structures.4 The names of the various collegia refer both to the economic and religious elements of the institutions, and it is impossible to distinguish between the two. It was above all the religious aspect that was the catalyzing factor for the community, triggering the constitution of a collegium, but at the same time there was a widespread diffusion of the collegia that take their name from their professional activities linked to the practice of a common cult. Therefore, we should not give priority or absolute prevalence to economic-professional motives as the basis behind the creation of a collegium. On the other hand, an interpretation that negates or gives a marginal role to the latter is no longer acceptable in modern scholarship, a position that one school of thought continues to propose today.5 According to the study Bendlin conducted, however, the formation of an association is the result of specific dynamics generated within a dense social network in which the individual identity and that of the group are counterbalanced. The social order within the corporative structure is guaranteed by a system of collective rules of conduct. Together with this set of rules, the social and religious rites coordinate the actions and interaction of the single components of the community and of the latter with society. Therefore, the cult practices and all the other collective acts are fundamental factors within a process of formation and consolidation of the individual and collective identity. It follows that although a professional collegium primarily consisted of individuals practicing the same profession or carrying out the same kind of commercial activity, its members not only discussed business matters, but participated in the same religious ceremonies, dined together, and possibly took care of other members’ funeral rites, without, however, losing its essential character, which was primarily professional. At the same time, an association whose very name declares its religious nature would have also included individuals of the same social level, who often also happened to work side by side with each other, so a social and cultural component of the organization existed, even if not purely professional.6 The rise of Christianity brought new challenges to the collegia, but not until the first half of the fifth century, as I will show, do we find Christian emperors intervening in these associations in Rome. My concluding 4 5

6

Rüpke, “Religion und Gruppe.” See, for example, Finley, Ancient Economy, 81, and the recent Van Haeperen, “Collèges de dendrophores.” For discussion of this interpretation, see also Patterson, “Collegia and Transformations of the Town of Italy”;Van Nijf, Professional Associations in the Roman East; t Diosono, Collegia.

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discussion of the excavations of the Basilica Hilariana, the headquarters of the collegia of the dendrophori in Rome, highlights key changes in the critical role of collegia in Rome.

The Evolution of Roman Legislation on Collegia from the Flavian to the Aurelian Period: Control, Obligations, and Privileges The collegia are, on the whole, ignored by contemporary literature, which was primarily written by the aristocracy. Their characteristics and organization are known mainly through other sources closer to their social condition, sources they were able to control and manage, such as epigraphy and other aspects of material culture, through which they would be remembered, by the honorary inscriptions they commissioned, their public or internal documents, their monuments, head offices, and tombs. Legal texts represent another major source of information because it was by them that the collegia were regulated, which describe their organization, restrictions, obligations, and privileges, although they mostly relate to a later period in the long history of Roman collegia. The Roman legislation concerning collegia7 includes a series of diverse, and at times conflicting, legal actions, depending on the political groups advocating them. These political groups were in turn responsive to the emperor, who could direct them through his use of privileges and police measures. The alternation of favorable attitudes toward the corporative associations and repressive actions against them was due to political changes. The initial attitude of tolerance toward the associations (the only restriction imposed was a general prohibition to not damage the state) was gradually replaced by the concept that an association had the right to exist only if it was useful to the res publica and if its activity was, at least in part, to the advantage of the Roman people or, at any rate, did not damage the latter politically or economically. During the Flavian period, the constitution of the municipium of Irni in Baetica8 included a section dedicated to the associations. It specified that it was forbidden to hold a coetus (a gathering of people usually with the intent of insurrection, or rioting), or to form a sodalicium or a collegium whose aim was to disturb the public order, or to conspire against the municipium. Those found guilty of these crimes would be fined and prosecuted. Moreover, it 7

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For a brief analysis of the evolution of Roman laws concerning collegia, see Diosono, Collegia, 24–42. CILA II.4, 1201.

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made it mandatory to put on the market any goods bought in common, and forbid the formation of an association (coitum), an agreement (conventum), or a society (societas) whose main scope was to sell goods at a higher price, or to not sell them, or to sell them in smaller quantities. From the Trajanic period Rome’s attitude toward the professional corporations changed.9 Trajan, in fact, intervened in the professional activities linked to the annona, promoting the corpora of the pistores and navicularii. Thus the annona administration negotiated with such collective organisms in which the responsibility was collective and shared, although it was then the single member of the corpus who offered his services in exchange for fiscal immunitates.10 In the third quarter of the second century CE the jurist Gaius stated that no one was allowed to form a society, a collegiums, or another body (neque societas neque collegium neque huiusmodi corpus passim omnibus habere conceditur), because this was decreed by the laws and regulations of the senate and of the emperor.11 These organizations were permitted in only a few cases: for example, the creation of a corpus was allowed to members who contracted for the management of state possessions (vectigalia), such as gold and silver mines or salt works. Moreover, in Rome the collegia certa existed, whose status was confirmed by senatorial and imperial statutes, as in the case of the bakers and other collegia linked to the annona, but also the navicularii in the provinces. In reality it is highly likely that the list of approved collegia was longer and included many other professional associations, and that those cited in the legal text are only examples that represented the most significant existing corporations at the time of the final drafting of the text. Those who were permitted to form corpora, collegia, and societates were allowed to have property in common, a kitty or common cash fund, and an agent (actor) or a legal representative (syndicus), on the lines of the state model (ad exemplum rei publicae). If such representatives were lacking (and this was automatic in the case of the collegia, which were not officially recognized), an accused collegium could have all its possessions confiscated. 9 10

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See Cotter, “Collegia and Roman Law.” Plin. Panegg. 29; Aur. Vict. Caes. 13.5 and 14, 5. On contracts between the corporations and the state administration that involved the provision of essential services, including the construction of public buildings, in return for immunity tax and other privileges, see Waltzing, Corporations professionelles II, 121 and 393–430; De Robertis, Il fenomeno associativo, 138–56; Cracco Ruggini, Collegium e corpus, 68; Sirks, Food for Romee, 37–107; Lo Cascio, “Ancora e ” 97–8 (where he also points out that the involvement of the sugli ‘Ostia’s Services to Rome,’ corpora in the annona organization between the first and the second century does not affect the overall supply of Rome, but is connected only to the free distributions). Dig. 3.4.1.

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An entire section of the Digest (47.22), entitled De collegiis et corporibus, is dedicated to the regulations governing the activity of an association. Neither the collegia sodalicia (intended in a disparaging sense, more as political factions than as professional associations) were permitted, nor could soldiers create collegia in the military camps.The lower-class sectors of society (the tenuiores), on the other hand, were allowed to gather once a month on the payment of a monthly tribute. Septimius Severus established that this rule was to be applied not only in the city of Rome (as probably decreed by an earlier regulation), but throughout Italy and the provinces.12 Further, religious gatherings were not forbidden, provided they did not infringe the senatorial law banning the collegia illicita. This law allows us to understand why Tertullian described the organization of Christian communities as corpora or collegia religionis causa, having an arca, into which a monthly sum was paid, and gatherings presided over by seniores. Tertullian’s comparison of Christian associations to pagan ones (emphasizing the differences between the two as being more of a moral than of a legal nature) was a means of emphasizing the legality of the Christian meetings within contemporary Severan legislation.13 The fact that the formation of collegia religionis or collegia tenuiores did not require specific permission may have facilitated the spread of the early Christian church and the consolidation of its property during the second and third centuries, as Christian organizations could be presented in this light.14 An example of a Christian community with collegial characteristics could be the collegium quod est in domo Sergiae Paullinae,15 which had an arcarius and a magister like any other pagan collegium, but also maiores and minores, which are otherwise unknown. Professional collegia were usually tolerated, except in the case of those provinces where public order was more at risk, and even increased in number. By the end of the second century, collegia became one of the main bases of consensus and support for imperial policy. Between the Antonines and the Severans, the central administration encouraged and supported the collegia, although it laid down rules. This resulted in the collegia being bound to the state and their loyalty to the central power ensured. Above all, however, 12 13

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Marcian. Dig. g 47.22.1. Apolog. g 39; Ad natt. 1.20.5; Sordi, Cristiani e impero romano, 220–2; Rebillard, Care of the Dead in Late Antiquity, 42–7; Rebillard, Christians and Their Many Identities, 32–3. Furthermore, as Rebillard states, membership in a Christian community didn’t exclude Christians from memberships in one or more of their city’s associations (Care of the Dead in Late Antiquity, 50–6). CIL L VI, 9148f., 10260–4.

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this close relationship was due to the fact that it was in the state’s interest that the public services with which the collegia were entrusted remained regular and efficient. The collegia had the munera obbligatoria toward the state and the municipium, in exchange for which they received immunitates, as explained by a law of the Severan period, when serious difficulties with the annona system led to the transformation of the services provided by the corpora in munus and no longer through a contract negotiated with the state: quibusdam collegiis vel corporibus, quibus ius coeundi lege permissum est, immunitas tribuitur, scilicet eis collegiis vel corporibus, in quibus artificii sui causa unusquisque adsumitur, ut fabrorum corpus est et si qua eandem rationem originis habent id est idcirco instituta sunt, ut necessariam operam publicis utilitatibus exhiberent.16

The necessaria opera is a compulsory professional service for public utilities. According to the Historia Augusta, Alexander Severus may have continued with the transformation of the associations from voluntary to compulsory entities, reorganizing the collegia of all the artes (from wine merchants, to cobblers, to lupin sellers), and forcing them to have external lawyers chosen by the state for their legal defense.17 This act represented a serious interference in collegial management; it forbade the collegia to have their own patron defending their private interests, substituting this important figure with a state defensor, and thus increasing the control of the state over the collegia. After the Severan age, the difficulty in ensuring the provision of Rome and the inefficiency of many of the state services led the central authority to organize and control those institutions essential to its functioning, entrusting them with a series of public tasks (such as, for example, the supply or transportation of goods related to the annona and/or necessary for the efficient functioning of the central administration or the maintenance of public buildings and roads), which they could no longer evade, a practice allowed until the second century. So what happened regarding the relationship between the state administration and the corporations during the third and the fourth centuries? It has often been stated that Aurelian “militarized” the collegia of the city, binding their members for life and making the public services they carried out mandatory.This is what is inferred by Malala,18 according to whom Aurelian

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Callistr. Digg. 50.6.6 (5).12. See also, CTh. 13.4.2 (337). Sirks, Food for Romee; Lo Cascio, “Ancora sugli ‘Ostia’s Services to Romee,’” 104–9. SHA Alex. 33. Malal. Chronogr. 12.30 (Dindorf ed. 300–1).

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forced the collegia of Rome to build the city walls that bear his name.19 More likely, as Hendrik W. Dey has suggested, Aurelian may have reorganized the corporation of fabri to ensure that public works were carried out more quickly and efficiently, as he probably reorganized the corporations linked to the annona system.20 As Michael Rostovtzeff has already hypothesized, Aurelian’s initiatives regarding the annona probably resulted in the state control of the activities of corporations, which by now had become agents of the state for the organization of the food supply of Rome.21

The Collegia Necessaria and the Annona of Rome between the Fourth and Fifth Centuries From the beginning of Constantine’s reign, the collegia linked to the annona of Rome were subject to the compulsory execution of their public mandates; their members were perpetually bound to them (obnoxii), both individually and with their family, together with all their patrimony:22 in 314 these regulations were applied to the navicularii,23 in 315 to the pistores,24 and in 334 to the suarii.25 Each member of a corporation had to contribute personally to the expenses related to the public service requested of them in proportion to their liquid assets. On their part, the collegium ensured that the service was carried out correctly and organized work shifts.26 For example, the navicularii worked in shifts, but once these were completed they were 19

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Groag, Domitius, 1410, criticized by Rostovtzeff, Social and Economic History of the Roman Empire, e 462, and De Robertis, Il fenomeno associativo, 163, while in Steinby, Industria laterizia, 109, it is more of a possibility. Dey, Aurelian Walll, 102–5. Although the description in the Historia Augusta is not accurate (SHA Aur. 47.2–3), Aurelian is believed to have reorganized the distributiones in Rome, with the introduction of the distribution of pork meat and wine (or the selling of a certain amount of these at fixed low price) and the increase in the free rations of bread and oil, and also introducing the corporation of the navicularii amnicii on the Nile and the Tiber to improve transport of the products. Rostovtzeff, Social and Economic History of the Roman Empire, 462. e On the individual holdings that comprised the endowment of each collegium, which were also made inalienable, see CTh. 14.3.1 (319); 13.6.1 (326); 14.3.7 (364). On the annona of Rome and the new status of the collegia in the fourth century, see Waltzing, Corporations professionelles, II, 259–64; De Robertis, Il fenomeno associativo, 157–85; Carrié, “Les distributions alimentaires dans les cités de l’empire romain tardif,” 1051–3, 1064–8; Herz, Lebensmittelversorgung; g Sirks, Food for Rome; e Sirks, Archives; Lo Cascio, “Canon frumentarius”; é Carrié, munus et convivialité. CTh. 13.5.1. Ibid. 13.5.2. Ibid. 14.4.1. Ibid. 13.5.3.1 and 6; 14.4.1 and 4.8.2.

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free to look after their private business.27 Similarly bakers were provided with work premises and the necessary tools, but they had to pay for the grain and maintenance expenses.28 The professional collegia were transformed into static organizations, integrated within the imperial bureaucracy and committed to satisfying public needs. Membership was no longer voluntary, but compulsory and hereditary. This cast-iron restriction was based on the desire of the state to always have the necessary personnel available to ensure the provision of Rome. With the central authority’s change in attitude from the third century and an increasing economic and organizational crisis, the imperial administration transformed a number of mercantile and commercial activities into compulsory services (the transport of products fixed by the annona, their manufacture, the supply of the city with food, wine, and wood, as well as with textiles and building materials and involvement in public works), whose control and regularity were now essential for its survival. The professional associations now slowly became part of the state, or, if one prefers, served the state, until late antiquity, when they became compulsory and coercive associations. In an early fourth-century inscription in Rome the collegia necessaria are distinguished from the alia collegia: the former were assigned to public services and enjoyed privileges and immunity, but at the same time had little autonomy; the latter did not.29 Given the increasing number of attempts by socii to evade the professional and financial duties now burdening the corporations, in 364 Valentinian and Valens ordered that no collegium could escape the obligations imposed by the state.30 Above all, from the reign of Valentinian I the collegia were integrated into an organization from which they could not escape, forced on them by the state’s very dependence on their professional services; therefore a collegium no longer looked for favors from the emperor, but from subordinate or local functionaries.31 The direct link between the emperor and the lower classes characterized by acts of benevolence and evergetism, created by Augustus and strengthened in the Antonine age, aimed at tying the lower classes to the emperor, was now finally cut. The collegia of the Urbs would therefore solicit the urban prefect to obtain fiscal aid and relief, offering themselves as clients in exchange. The collegia at times did, on one hand, and despite the fact that it was forbidden by law, offer commoda (gifts) to high-ranking members of 27 28 29 30 31

Ibid. 13.5.6 and 23. Ibid. 14.3.13 and 15.1. AE E 1941, 68. CTh. 13.1.62. On this argument see, Cracco Ruggini, “Stato e associazioni professionali.”

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the state administration, but on the other, they also tried to recover a certain degree of autonomy by threatening strikes that would bring the city of Rome to its knees, especially as regards the provision of the capital. By the end of the third century, it was above all the corporations directly controlled by the state that made the first move, as in the case of the riot by the workers in the mint of Rome under Aurelian in 274.32 At the same time, the emperors tried to compensate for the heavy duties placed on the collegia by increasing their benefits, especially fiscal ones. This made the formal adhesion to a professional association attractive to all those who wanted to enjoy these advantages, especially in late antiquity; hence the cases of curiales and urban decurions who by this time were so oppressed by the almost unbearable fiscal obligations that they tried to evade them by entering those “privileged” urban collegia, in other words by entering an association, which they would have publicly avoided until a century ago. This phenomenon is attested by a law Valentinian I established in 364 relating to the infiltration of outsiders in the fabri in Rome,33 and by another by Honorius in 399, which referred both to members of the elite as well as to members of collegia from other towns (where they did not have same privileges as those in the capital) who attempted to enter the corpus of the Roman centonarii.34 Between the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth, this process, which definitively blocked and fixed the collegia in their public role, was both gradual and unstoppable. This period marked a significant change in the relationship between the corporations and the state, especially as regards the annona,35 but also regarding the realization and the maintenance of public works. Corporations supplied the city with food, as well as with textiles and fuel for the baths. They also were in charge of constructing and restoring public buildings. In other words, they were responsible for many of the city’s needs, as Symmachus, urban prefect at the time, reminded the emperor Valentinian in 384 when the emperor wished to impose a tax on them, while for centuries the collegia had been exempt from taxes because of the public services they provided for Rome.36 32 33 34 35 36

Aur.Vict. Caes. 35. 6; Eutrop. 9.14; SHA Aurell. 38. 2–4; Su(i)dae lex., s.v. Monitarioii. CTh. 12.1.63. CTh. 12.1.62. Lo Cascio, “Canon frumentarius.” Symm. Rel.l 13.2–3 (= Ep. 34): nec potest aeternitas vestra ab incepto temere destitisse deo proximum virum; noveratt horum corporum ministerio tantae urbis onera sustineri. Hic lanati pecoris invector est, ille ad victum populi cogit armentum, hos suillae carnis tenet functio, pars urenda lavacris ligna comportat, sunt qui fabriles manus augustis operibus adcommodent, per alios fortuita arcentur incendia.

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At this time the collegia system, now under the strict control of the central administration, was still an essential network within the state organization and also represented a level of social organization of the whole urban population.37 The system was, however, on the point of collapse. This was already apparent in the year 400, when Valentinian III ordered the corporations and the citizens of Rome to take responsibility for the repair of the Aurelian walls.38 Valentian III’s measures demonstrate how important the role of associations was as a filter and a tool for managing the relationship between the imperial bureaucracy and the city. In 409 the number of collegiati in the capital was fixed at 563, stipulating that new members could only join the society following another member’s death and ensuring that only those who were fully entitled enjoyed the state immunities granted to the members of collegia.39 This evolution continued until the transformation of the collegia between the fourth and fifth centuries into organs of the state. They were now part of the state system, to which they were completely subject and tied. A law of 426 stated that by now a member could not cease to belong to certain collegia unless that person has been authorized to do so.40 The regulation, however, referred to those associations charged with providing food to the cities of Rome and Constantinople, as well as those manufacturing goods necessary for the maintenance of the imperial court. The Justinian Code contains other laws relating to the collegia,41 referring to the ever essential navicularii and the nautae on the Tiber River, bakers, wine merchants, and pork suppliers, in other words, those collegia traditionally involved in the annona of Rome. It also referred, more generally, to all the collegiati and corporati, and continued to lay down the obligations and the fiscal exemptions to which they had a right. The associations already assigned to the annona supply by the state, those associated with both the transport and the supply of goods, the control of the quality and the quantity of oil, wine, meat, wood, and charcoal, their conservation, and their transformation into the final product, are by this time tied down and forced to provide these services.

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On the decline and the dissolution of the collegia system, see De Robertis, Il fenomeno associativo, 230–41. CTh. Nov. Val.l 5.2–3. On this subject, also in the provinces, see CTh. 15.1.34 (396); 15.1.35 (397); CJJ 9.11.7 (384); CTh. 15.1.49 (412) (also on the transport of food supplies); CTh. 15.3.3 (387) on the maintenance of the roads. CJJ 4. 63. 5. CJJ 11. 8.13. Ibid. 11. 2–5; 8; 10; 15–18; 27.

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The Professional Pagan Collegia in the Christian Rome of Honorius and Theodosius: A Necessary Compromise? By now the system of the corporations was in crisis. Unable to meet the overwhelming requirements imposed by the state and collegia, members fled and hid in the countryside to avoid their obligations, only to be searched out by authorities.42 In 412 Honorius made it known that any members of associations trying to take advantage of the political riots to leave their collegia should be forced to reenter the aforesaid collegia.43 The names of many of the associations quoted in this constitution, like the Nemesiaci and the Signiferi, are clearly reminiscent of pagan rites. Because Honorius was a Christian it is unlikely that he wished to encourage a revival of paganism, instead it is more likely that the law, like others already cited, was an expression of the desire to fix indefinitely the civic obligations that for centuries had been imposed on these corporations and also on those, at least in some cases, whose official purpose was of an exclusively religious nature. It seems likely, however, that in a now Christian empire, the collegia, despite their public usefulness and their fundamental economic-commercial contribution to the functioning of the state system, began to be a source of irritation because of the very religious element that had, in the past, contributed to their identity. This element was becoming unacceptable, but the role of these professional associations was still too important for them to be substituted and disbanded solely on the basis of the religion they practiced, as we will now see. Soon after, in 415, following the issuing of a law aimed at punishing and discouraging pagan cults, Honorius and Theodosius had to restrict themselves to confiscating the possessions of various professiones gentiliciae, that is those professional collegia that had given ample space to the pagan cult within their activities, such as the frediani and the dendrophori, without disbanding them: Thus all outlay belonging at that time to the superstition that has been rightfully condemned, and all places that were possessed by the Frediani, by the Dendrophori, or by various names and pagan professions (quae singula quaeque nomina et professiones gentiliciae), and that were assigned to their feasts and expenditures, shall be able to assist the income of Our household, after the aforesaid false doctrine has been abolished.44

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CTh. 12.19.1 (400): plurimi siquidem collegiati cultum urbium deserentes agrestem vitam secuti in secreta sese at devia contulerunt. Sed talia ingenia huiusmodi auctoritate destruimus, ut, ubicumque terrarum repperti fuerint, ad officia sua sine ullius nisu exceptionis revocentur. r See also CTh. 14.7.1 (397); 14.2.4 (412); 14.1.179 (415). CTh. 14.7.2. CTh. 14.10.20.2 (English transl. C. Pharr).

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This restraint on the part of the emperors was due to the fact that they could not risk Rome remaining without the organized professional skills serving the public administration. Therefore the Christian emperors did not abolish the associations, rather they confiscated the properties and buildings necessary for the practice of the pagan religion, but not those necessary for the continuation of their working activity.45 Christian emperors therefore disbanded the pagan religious associations and declared them illegal, but were forced to suffer the existence of other professional corporations that still had a pagan component (hence defined professiones gentiliciae, pagan corporations, according to the translation of the term proposed by André Chastagnol46), because these associations provided a vital contribution to transport and the circulation and supply of food and other goods. Hence, some professional collegia continued to grant a significant role to the religious cult, protected by an aristocracy that was still pagan (as in the case of Symmachus) and well aware of the importance of their professional skills for the state. Although emperors could not afford to lose their fundamental contribution to commerce and the supply of Rome solely for religious scruple, pagan collegia were badly damaged by the loss of part of their estates.47

Excavations of the Basilica Hilariana: Changes in the Headquarters of Dendrophori in Rome between the Second and the Fifth Centuries The cults of Cybele and Attis, together with that of Mithras, were two of the major impediments to the establishment of the Christian religion. So, for instance, unlike the professiones gentiliciae, the superstitio gentiliciae was punished by a number of imperial decrees,48 including a decree issued in Constantinople in 39249 that listed various prosecuted pagan practices and cited the cult of Attis (redimita vittis arbore). This was a reference to the dendrophores, who were punished for their openly religious behavior by the confiscation of their belongings in 415.50 46

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Chastagnol, Fin du monde antiquee, 230; Salamito, “Dendrophores,” 1009–10. Chastagnol, Fin du monde antiquee, 230, suggests that here the term professiones indicated professional associations, defined gentiliciaee also because they gave considerable space to the pagan cult. Salamito, “Dendrophores,” 1010–12, prefers to translate the term as “expressions of pagan cult”; his emphasis on how this law shows the shift in the legal lexicon of the adjective gentilicius created by Christian authors is also very interesting. Aurigemma, “Dendrophori,” 1684. i CTh. 16.10.10–11. Ibid. 16.10.12. Cumont, “Dendrophori,” i 219. For brevity’s sake, on both the role of the dendrophores in the cult of Cybele and Attis and the characteristics of the public services provided on a

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We have the opportunity of considering the archaeological evidence relating to the headquarters of the dendrophores’ collegium in Rome51 mentioned in the law of 415, discussed above. The Basilica Hilariana lay on the Caelian Hill52 (Figure 11.1), where the sacred pine of Attis, one of the main elements in the celebrations of March in honor of the god, was conserved. Due to this, the Basilica was known in the Regionaries under the toponym of Arbor Sancta, placed exactly in this area.53 This Basilica was also the administrative headquarters for the collegium of the dendrophores, hosting the members’ meetings and the activities relating to their private cult, along with feasts and banquets. We know something of the religious responsibilities of the collegium: at the ceremony of Arbor Intrat, during which the sacred pine of Attis entered the city from the Porta Caelimontana, that is, from the Dolabella arch, next to the Basilica Hilariana itself, they helped to carry it to the Magna Mater temple on the Palatine.54 Archaeology has shed important new light on this collegium discovered at the end of the nineteenth century. Carlo Pavolini carried out a systematic excavation of the basilica between 1987 and 2000 (Figure 11.2).55 The excavation has demonstrated that the basilica served various functions, combining those relating to the cult with the other activities in which the members

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number of levels, from the towns to the central administration, by their collegium, please consult recent papers on the matter: Diosono, Collegia, especially 65–7; Diosono, commercio del legnamee, 274–6 with previous bibliography. For the tradition that interprets dendrophorii as a collegium with an exclusively religious purpose, and whose public function was only to deal with the civic cult of Cybele, see most recently Van Haeperen, “Collèges de dendrophores,” with previous bibliography. We just want to mention here Constantine’s measure in 329, in which he stated that, in the provinces, in quibuscumque oppidis dendrofori fuerint, centonariorum adque fabrorum collegiis adnectantur, quoniam haec corpora frequentia hominum multiplicari expediet (CTh. 14.8.1. On the dating in 329 see Salamito, “Dendrophores,” 994–6); this measure is clearly motivated by the public function of the collegium of the dendrofori,i whose workforce was increased by connecting it to two other associations of a strictly professional nature. However, on the interpretation of this law as reflecting the desire of Constantine to dissolve the collegium of the dendrophorii as pagan, see Cracco Ruggini, Collegium e corpus, 88. The name and the relationship with dendrophorii is attested by an in situ inscription CIL L VI, 30973a–b. On the hypothesis that the basilica Hilariana took its name directly from the festival of Hilaria in honor of Cybele and Attis, see Diosono, “Arbor Sancta” 398. For the connection, however, between the name of the Basilica and M’ Poblicius Hilarus, named in the above inscription, the benefactor to whom the construction of the building, is traditionally attributed, see Colini, Celio, 48. The siting of the collegium on top of the Caelian Hill probably reflects the importance the r collegium held in the city (Bollmann, Vereinshäuser, 146). For a discussion, see Colini, Celio, 278–81; Diosono, “Arbor Sancta,” with previous bibliography. Pavolini, Celio, 80; Pavolini, Agrippina, 318–19. See Pavolini, Celio, 74–92 and Pavolini, Agrippina, 313–21 (with previous bibliography) from which the description in this text is taken.

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11.1. The position on the Basilica Hilariana in the Celio Hill (from Pavolini), C. Lexicon topographicum urbis Romae. Supplementum III. Archeologia e topografia della regione II (Celio). Un aggiornamento sessant’anni dopo Colinii (Rome, 2006). Figure 3, p. 11.

of the collegium were involved. In the original structure of the early Antonine age,56 the cult itself appears to have had a more minor role compared to the more predominant character of a collegial headquarters, a function the building clearly served. The complex is trapezoidal in plan, defined by the presence, to the south and to the west, of preexistent buildings. Made of brickwork, it was constructed at the base of one of the series of terraces that characterized the Caelian Hill, lower than the level of the street defining its eastern limit, and accessible from a twelve-step stairway. The mosaic floor of 56

Although an underlying previous building, which dates back to the principate of Claudius, could be interpreted as the original seat of the collegium of the dendrophorii at the time of its constitution.

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11.2. General view of the excavated area of the Basilica Hilariana (from Pavolini). Figure 45, p. 76.

the vestibule is decorated with apotropaic symbols and an inscription bearing the name of the building, Basilica Hilariana, while a statue base mentions the association of dendrophori.57 On the basis of the epigraphic evidence it is rightly assumed that the basilica was the schola of this collegium in Rome. Passing through the hall, which was flanked by service rooms, one arrived in an open, unroofed courtyard, decorated with a black and white geometric mosaic. As regards the two lateral wings, that on the south originally featured two large rooms covered by a series of cross-vaults, resembling “loggias” opening on to the courtyard itself: evidently rooms used for meetings and collegial activities (other corresponding rooms probably existed in the northern wing, but virtually only the foundations survive). The eastern sector was probably occupied by service areas.The building was enlarged in the fourth century with the addition of at least one story, accessible through an inner staircase (Figure 11.3). The courtyard was small in size and could be reached mainly by the stairs. On the east side of the courtyard is a quadrangular structure without a roof, whose construction is attributed to the original phase of the building during the Antonine era and which was renovated with the rest of the building between the second and third centuries. Pavolini has identified this structure as the place where the sacred pine of Attis, mentioned earlier, was hosted 57

CIL L VI, 30973a–b.

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11.3. Map of the Basilica Hilariana in the fourth century (from Pavolini). Figure 53, p. 84.

(while cautiously defining it as a sacellum/flower bed).58 Between the second and third centuries workshops were added to the service rooms in the southeast wing of the basilica: hearths, basins, benches, and spicatum floors, used for metalworking, dyes, textiles, and possibly ivory and bones. This situation is in itself not surprising. These workshops were distinctly separated from the areas for the collegial and cult activities inside the building; furthermore, the dendrophori were a collegium of a professional (connected with the working and sale of wood and timber) as well as a religious nature. The workshops were abandoned by the third century. Pavolini maintains that there is no evidence that the basilica ceased to be the headquarters for the dendrophores until the end of the fourth century, despite the major restoration works carried out on the building during the phases following its foundation. These interventions were probably concentrated predominately in the first half of the third century and were not only limited to the service rooms mentioned earlier but involved almost the 58

Pavolini, Celio, 80; Pavolini, Agrippina, 314–17.

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entire ground floor. Perhaps the policy of the collegium in this period was oriented toward a more intensive exploitation of all the available spaces, even at the expense of the simple functional plan that had originally distinguished the schola. This in turn suggests that this may have been a particularly prosperous period for the corpus with an increase in the number of members, but also – on the downside – would have led to the need to obtain more sources of income to run the center (hence the construction of workshops between the second and third centuries). Pavolini’s impression is that by now the comfort of the members was considered more important than its true collegial and cult activities. During the first half of the third century two heated rooms, with prefurnia and sospensurae, were created, subdividing the preexisting large loggia, on the sides of the courtyard; the central open area was reduced with the realization of a roof along the two long sides of the courtyard; the sacellum/flowerbed was constructed in brickwork (if it was the place where the sacred pine of Attis was placed, the structure was maintained and renovated even in a moment when the basilica’s religious function seems to have further decreased), and the basin against the western perimeter wall was abolished and replaced with a small marble-faced fountain, with a purely decorative function, at the center of the courtyard itself. Pavolini hypothesizes that throughout the fourth century the cult of Cybele would have been practiced inside the basilica, in other words, under the protection of the great families of the pagan senatorial aristocracy, who had their residences on the Caelian Hill, like the Simmaci.59 The excavation data shows, however, that only in the first (?) half of the fifth century did the Basilica Hilariana undergo a very distinct overall change of function, which was by now definitive.Workshops now occupied the large part of the reception rooms and the corridors of the southern and northern wings, as well as the service rooms, with basins, hearths, floors of mortar, and other facilities. These workshops were destroyed in the first half of the sixth century. Pavolini maintains that the activity that took place in the workshops is contemporary with the hostility the Christian emperors showed toward the collegium, which culminated in the confiscation of 415.60 However, the study of the function, and in particular the management and organization of these workshops, is ongoing.61 59 60 61

Pavolini, Celio, 84. Ibid., 88–9. While this chapter was in draft, the definitive edition of excavations in the Basilica Hilariana was published:  P. Palazzo and C. Pavolini, eds., Gli dèi propizi. La Basilica Hilariana nel contesto dello scavo dell’Ospedale Militare Celio (1987–2000) (Rome, 2013). Concerning dates and characteristics of the building, the volume has not changed from the previous preliminary publications mentioned here in brief.

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In conclusion, the systematic excavation of the seat of one of the most important collegia in Rome, that of the dendrophores, has confirmed the picture revealed by the literary and legal sources, highlighting the collegium’s wealth and prosperity throughout the fourth century, and the presence of other activities apart from the religious element.The decline of the building, and therefore of the collegium itself, was very probably a result of the confiscations imposed by the law of 415.

Bibliography Aurigemma, S. “Dendrophori.” DizEp 2 (Rome, 1910): 1671–1705. Bendlin, A. “Gemeinschaft, Öffentlichkeit und Identität. Forschungsgeschichtliche Anmerkungen zu den Mustern sozialer Ordnung in Rom,” in U. Egelhaaf-Gaiser and A. Schäfer, eds., Religiöse Vereine in der römischen Antike. Untersuchungen zu Organisation, Ritual und Raumordnung (Tübingen, 2002), 9–40. Bollmann, B. Römische Vereinshäuser: Untersuchungen zu den Scholae der römischen Berufs-, Kult- und Augustalen-Kollegien in Italien (Mainz, 1998). Carrié, J. M. “Les distributions alimentaires dans les cités de l’empire romain tardif.” MEFRA 87, no. 2 (1975): 995–1101. “Les associations professionnelles à l’époque tardive. Entre munus et convivialité,” in J. M. Carrié and R. Lizzi Testa, eds., Humana Sapit. Etudes d’antiquité tardive offertes à Lellia Cracco-Ruggini (Turnhout, 2002), 309–32. Chastagnol, A. La fin du monde antique (Paris, 1976). Colini, A. M. Storia e topografia del Celio nell’antichità (Città del Vaticano, 1944). Cotter, W. “The Collegia and Roman Law: State Restrictions on Voluntary Associations, 64 BCE – 200 CE,” in J. S. Kloppenborg and S. G.Wilson, eds., Voluntary Associations in the Graeco-Roman World (London, New York, 1996), 74–89. Cracco Ruggini, L. “Stato e associazioni professionali nell’età imperiale romana,” in Akten des VI internationalen Congresses für griechische und lateinische Epigraphik (Munich, 1973), 272–87. “Collegium e corpus:  la politica economica nella legislazione e nella prassi,” in G. G. Archi, ed., Istituzioni giuridiche e realtà politiche nel tardo impero (III-IV sec. d.C). Atti di un incontro tra storici e giuristi (Milan, 1976), 63–94. Cumont, F. “Dendrophori.” RE 5, no. 1 (Stüttgart, 1903): 216–19. De Robertis, F. M. Il fenomeno associativo nel mondo romano (Bari, 1981). Dey, H. W. The Aurelian Wall and the Refashioning of Imperial Rome (AD 271–855) (Cambridge, 2011). Diosono, F. “Note sull’Arbor Sancta a Urso e Roma.” Habis 37 (2006): 387–98. Collegia. Le associazioni professionali nel mondo romano (Rome, 2007). “Il commercio del legname sul fiume Tevere,” in F. Coarelli and H. Patterson, eds., Mercator Placidissimus. The Tiber Valley in Antiquity:  New Research in the Upper and Middle River Valley. Atti del Convegno (Rome, 2008), 251–83. Finley, M. I. The Ancient Economy (London, 1985). Galli, M. “Iερoν σωμα. Rituale e struttura comunicativa nello spazio associativo antico.” MedAnt 6 (2003): 1–23.

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Groag, E. “Domitius n.36.” RE 5, no. 1 (Stüttgart, 1903): 1347–1419. Herz, P. Studien zur römischen Wirtschaftsgesetzgebung: die Lebensmittelversorgung (Stuttgart, 1988). Lo Cascio, E. “Canon frumentarius, vinarius, suarius: stato e privati nell’approvvigionamento dell’Urbs,” in W. V. Harris, ed., The Transformations of Urbs Roma in Late Antiquity (Portsmouth, 1999), 163–82. “Ancora sugli ‘Ostia’s Services to Rome.’ Collegi e corporazioni annonarie a Ostia.” MEFRA 114 (2002): 87–109. Patterson, J. R. “The Collegia and the Transformations of the Town of Italy in the Second Century AD,” in L’Italie d’Auguste à Dioclètien: actes du colloque international (Rome, 1994), 227–38. Pavolini, C. Lexicon topographicum urbis Romae. Supplementum III. Archeologia e topografia della regione II (Celio). Un aggiornamento sessant’anni dopo Colini (Rome, 2006). “L’ ‘Agrippina-Orante’ di Villa Casali e la politica religiosa degli imperatori sul Celio,” in D. Palombi, S. Walker, and A. Leone, eds., Res bene gestae: ricerche di storia urbana su Roma antica in onore di Eva Margareta Steinby (Rome, 2007), 309–34. Rebillard, E. The Care of the Dead in Late Antiquity (Ithaca, London, 2009). Christians and Their Many Identities in Late Antiquity, North Africa, 200–450 CE (Ithaca, London, 2012). Rostovtzeff , M. The Social and Economic History of the Roman Empire (London, 1957). Rüpke, J. “Religion und Gruppe. Ein religionssoziologischer Versuch zur römischen Antike,” in B. Luchesi and K. Von Stuckrad, eds., Religion im kulturellen Diskurs. Festschrift für Hans G. Kippenberg zu seinem 65. Geburtstag (Berlin, 2004), 236–57. Salamito, J. M. “Les dendrophores dans l’Empire chrétien. À propos du Code Théod. XIV, 8 et XVI, 10, 20, 2.” MEFRA 109 (1987): 991–1018. Sirks, B. Food for Rome: The Legal Structure of the Transportation and Processing of Supplies for the Imperial Distributions in Rome and Constantinople (Amsterdam, 1991). “Archives Used with or by Corpora, Working for the Annona of Rome and Constantinople,” in La mémoire perdue. Recherches sur l’administration romaine (Rome, 1998), 325–43. Sordi, M. I cristiani e l’impero romano (Milan, 2004). Steinby, M. “L’industria laterizia di Roma nel Tardo Impero,” in A. Giardina, ed., Società romana e impero tardoantico (Rome, 1986), 2, 99–159. Van Haeperen, F. “Collèges de dendrophores et autorités locales et romaines,” in M. Dondin-Payre and N. Tran, eds., Collegia. Le phénomène associatif dans l’Occident romain (Bordeaux, 2012), 47–62. Van Nijf , O. M. The Civic World of Professional Associations in the Roman East (Amsterdam, 1997). Waltzing, J. P. Etude historique sur les corporations professionnelles chez les Romains, 1–4 (Bruxelles, 1895–1900).

12

REINTERPRETING “PAGANS” AND “CHRISTIANS” FROM ROME ’S LATE ANTIQUE MORTUARY EVIDENCE Nicola Denzey   Lewis The great Christian catacombs of Rome – Commodilla, Priscilla, Domitilla, Sebastian, Callixtus, to name only the largest complexes – have been since the Renaissance the chief data set for discovering the nature of emergent Christianity “on the ground,” or better, underground. Here, frescoed on the walls of plastered tufa and traced along the ancient routes of the pious, one can witness the rise of a new yet robust Christian identity, already coalesced in the third century. The catacombs reveal a large and protected ancient community of ordinary humble citizens of Rome, united in their vision of an eternal refrigerium that awaited them. Unlike their pagan adversaries, Christians created vast networks of subterranean eschatological hope, clustered together against the pressures of superstition and the sham religions of pagan imitators, against those who believed that death was the end and who abandoned their dead in the cold, dark ground. Given the potential usefulness of the catacombs as a data set for recovering emergent Christianity, it seems important to consider them as we determine to what degree the terms pagan and Christian are useful or accurate to describe religious identities in late antique Rome. Surely Christians distinguished themselves from pagans in their chosen mode of burial, such that we might be able to discern difference, if not actual conflict, from their archaeological remains. Indeed, the very phenomenon of “Christian catacombs” presupposes difference – a distinct Christian community, united in doctrine and praxis, living in the broader environment of the late Roman city. There are no “pagan catacombs,” only the scant remains of pagan hypogea and necropoleis. Yet this supposition – that Christian catacombs reflect the sturdiness, differentiation, and united front of emergent Christianity against paganism – while not incorrect, is fraught with interpretive pitfalls. The picture painted in the opening paragraph of this chapter – often found with only slight variations in scholarship – is entirely wrong. It has emerged, 273

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not from the astonishing 170 kilometers of catacombs that are indeed critical sources for uncovering late antique Christianity, but from a way of reading them that has remained dominant and authoritative until very recently. The centrality of the Roman catacombs to Catholic self-identity began with their “rediscovery” fortuitously one day in 1578, when workers laboring at the Vigna Sanchez off the Via Salaria punctured the soft tuff to discover a vast labyrinth of graves below.1 Church historian Cesare Baronio (1538–1607), crowed at their discovery:  “We can find no better words to describe its extent and its many corridors, than to call it a subterranean city.”2 This hidden city, this mirrored, chthonic Rome of the dead, was shot through with paleo-Christian, Catholic-tinged piety, at least as Baronio and his contemporaries saw it. Modern scholars of late antique Christian Rome, however, are arriving at a rather different interpretation of the catacombs and what they reveal about emergent Roman Christianity. Following the important work of Rebillard and Bodel,3 I argue that from the mortuary evidence provided from more than fifty late antique cemeteries in the city, a distinction between “pagan” and “Christian” would have been virtually nonsensical for most ordinary people well into the fourth century. Likewise, any indication of religious conflict between pagans and Christians is entirely absent from the material and archaeological evidence and must be laid aside. This chapter suggests an alternate hypothesis: at least in death, an individual’s religious affiliation mattered little. The logic of the catacomb grave was driven not by disputes or announcements over religious affiliations, but rather by the messages that those commissioning its paintings wished to convey – more mundane, but no less deeply felt, messages of grief, uxorial devotion, and familial connection in the face of a relentlessly high mortality rate.4 The desires of individuals to commemorate their loved ones was worked into a complex equation with other more pragmatic considerations: their ability to pay, the availability of subterranean “real estate,” the location of other family burials, and finally, the work and inclinations of the copiatae and fossores who were responsible for siting and completing burials. Doing the work of the nascent Church – broadcasting superiority over paganism – was not the work of ordinary families, and those are the graves we have preserved in the catacombs. Neither 1

2

3 4

The story is recounted in virtually every book on the catacombs, but perhaps most effectively in Rutgers, Subterranean Romee, 12–41. Baronio, Annales ecclesiasticii, cited passim but here, see Ditchfield, “Thinking with the Saints,” 556. Rebillard, Care of the Dead; d Bodel, “From Columbaria to Catacombs.” Denzey, Bone Gatherers.

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was it the work of the copiatae and fossores, who conducted the business of burial as a business, not as an opportunity to promote Christianity. To arrive at a new, revisionist understanding of “pagans” and “Christians” in late antique Rome based on the mortuary evidence culled from the catacombs, it is important first to review briefly what place the catacombs have played in the field of Christian archaeology. From there, we might consider what criteria and methods have traditionally been applied, since the Renaissance, to determine religious affiliation: here, we will discuss the most important: (1) burial context and its location within that context; and (2) the presence or absence of Christian iconography. We will then be in a position to consider the evidence that problematizes these criteria – some of which had been suppressed until recently. The general picture that emerges is of pagans and Christians buried together in the third and fourth centuries without any sense of conflict or problem; indeed, the categories “pagan” and “Christian” themselves quickly become devoid of any real substance. In the catacombs, there were only the mourned dead, and it mattered not what they or their families believed.

A Brief History of Christian Archaeology The great historian of the Church,W. H. C. Frend, once famously described Christian archaeology as “the child of the Renaissance.”5 By this, Frend alludes to the “Grand Tour” mentality that was the engine behind catacomb exploration, as well as the mania for collecting sentimental or curious tokens from “archaeological” sites such as the catacombs, effectively despoiling them as accurate data sets. But that is not all. His volume, The Archaeology of Early Christianity: A History, sagely and sometimes sensationally uncovers the doctrinal disputes and convictions that drove the earliest Roman Christian archaeologists. His work suggests that we would be right to be suspicious of the oft-used term rediscovery to apply to the catacombs in the sixteenth century. In truth, such subterranean burial spaces were surely known before 1578.6 But to the Roman Catholic Church, they were not useful until the relentless pressure of the Protestant Reformation demanded the response that was the Counter-Reformation.

5 6

Frend, The Archaeology of Early Christianity, 11. Oryshkevich, “History of the Roman Catacombs”; see, further, Ditchfield, “Thinking with the Saints,” 556, on the “staged” nature of the catacomb rediscovery in deploying potent counter-Protestant rhetoric.

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This endeavor to rediscover or, better, reinvent the catacombs continued in earnest during the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48). The Catholic Church’s “rediscovery” of the catacombs was a carefully orchestrated ritual of inventio precisely at a time when it needed abundant proof of the antiquity and purity of its traditions against Protestantism. It found this in the catacombs, which it exploited for their frescoes of the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, and for its countless bodies – bodies of the ordinary dead now elevated to the status of the Very Holy Dead. Not every bone belonged to a saint, to be sure – but criteria for inclusion into the club were typically generous. In those decades, the Church most trenchantly developed the Cult of the Saints, sowing bones from the catacombs within dozens of private and public chapels, changing definitively the topography of the sacred through affirming the power of human bones as relics. The Tridentine Decrees sought to give papal oversight to the discovery of relics so that they might be properly authenticated as having derived from martyrs, but in truth, no regulations or procedures were ever established. The catacombs themselves, too, came to be profoundly changed at this time. It was not merely the removal of vast quantities of human remains, the shifting of dust and detritus and their transformation into the magical medium of miracles and newly conferred sanctity. It was the emptying out of the catacombs into newly pristine cavities of volcanic earth to be filled with crowds of the pious, jostling for space amidst soft brown walls. Indeed, in the sixteenth century, any Catholic visiting the catacombs would be granted a papal indulgence, a plenary remission of sin.7 The catacombs were transformed from moldering tombs into subterranean churches, replete with candles and altars and clergy to offer up daily masses. So powerful a shift was this, from mass grave to church, that still today Rome’s major catacomb sites constitute consecrated space where throngs of the faithful come from around the world to celebrate the liturgy in the hidden city. They are overseen by the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology (PCAS), and indeed, the term sacred in “sacred archaeology” is still taken as seriously as it is deeply revealing of the motivations and inclinations of those who established the papal office in 1852. The PCAS maintains its mandate of presenting the catacombs to the public as predominantly sacred sites that poignantly record the antiquity of Catholic traditions. Since the sixteenth century, therefore, the catacombs of Rome were deemed Christian more or less because they needed to be. Through them 7

Remission of sin:  on the attestation of architect Andrea Palladio, from Howe, Andrea Palladio: The Churches of Rome, e  84.

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was played out a grand narrative of humble origins, continuity, faith, and steadfastness in the face of persecution. The presentation of this narrative, however, required some tinkering with the evidence. In this endeavor, the great “father” of catacomb studies, Giovanni Battista De Rossi (1822–94), remains a toweringly influential figure. His scholarship was controversial even at the time, aiming as it did to present Catholicism as essentially unchanged since the “primitive Church.” His masterful Roma sotterranea cristiana, along with his collected volumes of Christian inscriptions culled from the catacombs, laid bare a vast network of late antique burial complexes, Baronio’s “hidden city.”8 These attempts to catalog, map, and record for Catholic posterity Rome’s subterranean city took great liberties with the material and archaeological evidence. The material was, in its initial recording – and not occasionally, its removal – disaggregated such that clearly Christian material (predominantly painting, but also inscriptions) was either removed physically or published in collections by type without attempts to map it relationally.9 Clearly Christian graves in the catacombs were duly recorded, but non-Christian ones were not. Christian epitaphs were painstakingly copied into volume collections such as the Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae (ICUR) initiated by De Rossi or, earlier, established in extensive lapidary galleries still extant at the Vatican, the porticoes of Santa Maria in Trastevere, the stairway at Sant’Agnese fuori le Mura, and the cloister at San Paolo fuori le Mura.10 More ambiguously Christian epitaphs were either rendered as Christian by virtue of their mere proximity to less ambiguously Christian ones, or else they were simply discarded. It was not just the major catacomb sites that were reconstructed as purely Christian shrines. All late antique burial sites in the city were similarly presented. In 1626, during the construction of St. Peter’s, excavators searching for a place to situate the new high altar unearthed a pagan sarcophagus of perhaps the third century. The inscription honors one Flavius Agricola, a native of Tivoli. In Etruscan style, Agricola reclines in effigy on top of his sarcophagus. His inscription records that he took care of himself and was “never short of wine.” His final injunction was, at least to a Catholic audience, scandalously Epicurean:  “Mix the wine, drink deep, wreathed with 8

9

10

De Rossi, Roma Sotterranea Cristiana; De Rossi, Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae. De Rossi also began the Bulletino di Archeologia Cristiana to disseminate news of significant new finds. For collections of early catacomb art, with little commentary or analysis, see, for example, Wilpert, Malereien. On inscription collections above ground, see Yasin, “Displaying the Sacred Past.” Yasin, “Displaying the Sacred Past.”

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flowers, and do not refuse pretty girls the sweet things of love. When death comes, earth and fire devour everything.”11 What was worse, Agricola was laid to rest with his wife of thirty years, a “chaste worshipper of Isis.” An unapologetically pagan burial located precisely where those who expected to find something more befitting of a sacred place jarred its excavators; indeed, Pope Urban VIII ordered the offending sarcophagus to be hidden away, before being unceremoniously tossed into the Tiber.12 In fact, all our major Christian catacomb sites contain clearly non-Christian graves – something we know from their modes of disposal of the body, the style of their inscriptions, and their iconography. At the core of the catacombs of Domitilla lies the ancient Hypogeum of the Flavii, which, despite early and strenuous attempts to claim the Flavian gens as crypto-Christians as early as the first century, is now properly acknowledged as non-Christian.13 At the catacombs of Sant’Agnese, pagan hypogea were intact and their accessibility ensured after the Christian catacombs on the site were constructed in the fourth century. At the memoria apostolorum on the Via Appia, there are non-Christian burials dating to 249 CE.14 The Christian catacombs of Praetextatus are directly adjacent to the catacombs of Vibia, which contains the graves of three adherents of Mithras, a priest of Sabazius, and his wife. Like the ignominious fate of Flavius Agricola, the pagan nature of the Vibia catacombs ensured that early excavations were abandoned and their whereabouts once again lost; when they were rediscovered in the nineteenth century, excavators claimed that they were completely separate from the catacombs of Praetextatus rather than contiguous with them.15 In this way, the pristine “Christian” identity of the Praetextatus catacombs might be preserved.

11 12 13

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CIL L 6.17985a, in Mary Beard et al., Religions of Romee,Vol. 2, 236. Frend, The Archaeology of Early Christianity, 17. For the traditional view of Flavia Domitilla as the first-century founder, see Fasola, Catacombs of Romee, 25. More cautious is Rutgers, Subterranean Romee, 130. Excavations of the site began in 1915. The site once belonged to a third-century group, the Innocentii, about which little is known, but they do not appear to have been Christians. By the mid-third century, both Christians and non-Christians were using the same site. There is some evidence that on February 22, 258, the bones of Peter and Paul were moved to this site; June 29 in that same year, during the consulship of Bassus and Tuscus, their dies natalis was celebrated there. After this point – and we don’t know how long after – 640 graffiti record pilgrims’ prayers for intercession from the two apostles. Supposedly, in the first half of the fourth century, Peter’s bones were moved to the Vatican; Damasus writes how they were once at the site but were no more by the 380s. See Frend, The Archaeology of Early Christianity, 211, and his footnotes. MacMullen, The Second Church, 74–5.

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How Do You Distinguish a Christian from a Non-Christian Grave? In order to develop a sensible picture of pagan–Christian relations in the fourth century from archaeological material in the catacombs, we must first ask a basic question: How do you distinguish a Christian from a non-Christian grave? For the Renaissance and early modern catacomb scholars, the question was too obvious to seriously address. Only Christians were presumed to have been buried in the catacombs because, frankly, only the history of Christianity mattered. “As long as Christians are considered in isolation,” notes Rebillard, “it is tempting to conclude that they were living separately and in opposition to surrounding communities.”16 As they were seen to have been living separately, so followed the assumption that Christians buried their dead separately.That was only the simplest argument, however. In truth, the argument that Christians buried their dead separately was, at least at face value, supported by ancient literary evidence. Let us turn to that next. Context

Historically, the assumption has been that the burials in the Christian catacombs are Christian because of their larger context:  catacombs were the burial areas for the Church. A central canon in catacomb scholarship is that the Church had administered these huge burial cemeteries from the middle of the third century, a claim that derives its authority from Hippolytus of Rome and the Liber Pontificalis. Hippolytus writes that in 199 CE, Callixtus was called back from exile by Zephyrinus and appointed “eis to koimeterion” (Ref. 9.12.14). The backstory behind this bit of text, however, is less well known.This passage, at one point attributed to Origen in the Mass, was actually written by a Roman cleric actively opposing the election of Callixtus in 217.17 Remarkably, it was none other than De Rossi who was the first to uncover and read this text in the early modern period, and he did so even as he worked through the catacombs of Callixtus, which he himself had “rediscovered” and began to excavate. De Rossi assumed that the cemetery given to Callixtus must have been the very catacomb he was excavating. He then conflated the Refutatio passage with a short notice from the Liber Pontificalis, which states that the ecclesiastical regions were carved out and entrusted to the care of deacons, and that “things were done in the cemeteries” (21.2–3). As Rebillard observes, “this was all De Rossi needed to find support for 16 17

Rebillard, Care of the Dead, xi. d Rebillard, Care of the Deadd, 2.  For a fuller argument, see Rebillard, “Koimeterion, Coemeterium.”

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his earlier hypothesis: Callixtus was clearly an archdeacon, since, when the number of cemeteries had increased, their administration had become the responsibility of deacons.”18 Rebillard shows that historically, the Hippolytus evidence has been misread and mistranslated; in actuality, the notice says only that Zephyrinus appointed a single deacon, Callixtus, with the oversight of a single cemetery (that is, a martyrium) in the mid-third century. De Rossi associated this one site with the large catacomb complex of Callixtus, but this is guilt by association; at any rate, the Callixtus catacomb was not, in the third century, anywhere near as large as it came to be in the following centuries. There is also no indication that by “deacon” of a single martyrium, Zephyrinus meant that Callixtus was archdeacon over all Christian cemeterial sites in the city. Thus while there is some evidence that the Church did in fact provide for the burial of the very poor (and this is textual, not material evidence), for the most part the responsibility of both burials and funerals fell to individual families, whether Christian or pagan or mixed.19 Rebillard argues persuasively that there was no central administration of the Church over the catacombs as early as the third century. Certainly, there appears to have been a Christian cemetery to the south of the city over which Callixtus was appointed. But Rebillard emphasizes that the word “cemetery” (used in the singular in Ref. 9.12.14, its first occurrence in Greek) means, essentially, a martyrium, that is, a church outside the walls where a holy person or persons were buried, and that “cemetery” refers not just to the subterranean burial ground, but to the entire complex. Rebillard insists that in the third century CE, a “cemetery” was the label by which a church in the suburbia “erected in honor of the martyrs” was known.20 In fact, there is no evidence whatsoever that even the large cemeterial complexes were entirely Christian, let alone centrally administered by the Church. Most likely, the claim that deacons administered them was a fiction of the Liber Pontificalis, which sought to retroject an idealized, centralized picture of Church administration back into the third century. Bishops, and the Church in general, exercised no power over ordinary Christians when it came to burying and commemorating their loved ones. Rather, catacombs were a business: made-to-order tombs were cut and sold to families and collegia by independent operators, the fossores, whose religious identity we simply 18 19

20

Rebillard, Caree of the Dead, 3. d On late Roman Christian burials as largely a family affair, see Saller and Shaw, “Tombstones and Roman Family Relations”; Shaw, “Latin Funerary Epigraphy”; Bowes, Private Worship, d 36; Perry, “A Death in the Familia.” 6; Rebillard, Care of the Dead, Rebillard, Care of the Dead, d 5. See also Rebillard, “Koimeterion, Coemeterium.”

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do not know, but it is not likely that it mattered for business transactions. As Jean Guyon has shown from epigraphical evidence, the fossores sold tombs from circa 337 to 465 CE with only rare intervention by the clergy, who did not directly sell burial spaces until 489 CE.21 The idea that the fossores constituted a minor category of clergy (often found in catacomb scholarship) was born of the myth that because, according to Hippolytus, the Church oversaw the catacombs, the active and visible presence of the fossores through inscriptional and iconographic sources could only be explained if they had been directly working for the Church.22 If, then, Christian catacombs were not truly administered by the Church from the third century on, on what basis do we identify them as Christian? One answer might be from their large amount of unambiguously Christian art. So let us turn next to the issue of Christian iconography, and the ideological uses to which it has been pressed. Iconography

The catacombs provide the bulk of our earliest and finest examples of Christian art, such that catacomb art is a subfield in its own right. Many of the major catacomb sites contain fresco paintings, predominantly in their larger cubicula. These frescoes reveal many Christian themes and scenes, from the Good Shepherd to the Annunciation. Aside from explicitly New Testament scenes, there are also numerous frescoes featuring Old Testament “types” of Christ, predominantly Jonah and Daniel. Although these typological and iconographic scenes have received the most celebration, Catholic scholars since Bosio have also widely exploited non-typological catacomb art: those comparatively rarer scenes that feature ritual or sacramental behavior. These might be funerary meal scenes, or any scenes (rarer still) of sacraments such as baptism and Eucharist. For this reason, collective burial spaces such as the “Cubiculum of the Sacraments” at the catacombs of Callixtus are treated with particular reverence. The small, fairly ambiguous scenes in this cubiculum find their way into every catalog or picture book of catacomb art, presented as some of the earliest Christian paintings. In fact, we are unable to tell whether the painting in this chamber was truly second or third century, as Catholic apologists claim.23

21 22 23

Guyon, “La vente des tombes,” 549–96. Rebillard, Care of the Dead, 35. d On the thorny problem of dating catacomb art, see Deckers,“Wie genau ist eine Katakombe zu datieren?”

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But the polemical and apologetic use of catacomb art is centuries old. Studies of catacomb art have long been marked by an overabundance of interest in the expression of theological ideas, such as the presence of biblical typology, or the choice of themes of salvation, such as Daniel in the lions’ den or Jonah cast out of the whale. Studies of purely decorative catacomb art, or conversely, of portraiture in the catacombs, have languished behind the apologetic concerns of Christian art historians.This agenda stood behind scholars from the time of Antonio Bosio (1575–1629), perhaps the earliest and most illustrious of the catacomb explorers. Bosio sought to demonstrate the centrality of images in early Christian devotional practice, a practice abundantly illustrated in his Roma sotterranea, published posthumously in 1635. Pretty as they might be, picture books showing impressive color reproductions of Christian art, separated from their archaeological context, tell us nothing about early Christian life in Rome. Not all the art in the catacombs is Christian – far from it, in fact. During the Thirty Years’ War, the Vatican’s chief scholar of the catacombs, Severanus, began the process of re-seeing pagan images and symbols as purely Christian, taken over and given a new significance.24 The non-Christian material was frequently subjected to an interpretatio christiana. Famous images of Orpheus from the catacombs of Domitilla, for instance, are still consistently read as ciphers for Christ, even though there is no truly compelling reason for doing so except, arguably, for a brief passage from Clement of Alexandria, where Christ is likened to a “new Orpheus” (Exhortation to the Heathen 1.3).25 Another excellent example of an image that is patently not Christian but consistently interpreted as being so is the so-called Christ-Apollo mosaic from Mausoleum M (the hypogeum of the Julii), in the necropolis beneath St. Peter’s. First “discovered” by Tiberio Alfarano in 1574, the image contains absolutely nothing that we can say is meant to be Christ at all, except that there may be a Christian burial (identified as such by some rather ambiguous imagery) in the same cubiculum. A more recent example is the Herakles images from the catacombs of Via Latina, which some trenchantly maintain represents Christ, despite obvious problems with this interpretation.26 24 25

26

See Frend, Thee Archaeology of Early Christianity, 16. Orpheus appears in other catacombs as well, such as in Room 79 of the catacombs of Peter and Marcellinus, where he appears with Jesus raising Lazarus and Daniel in the lions’ den. For a typical example of a modern Christian apologetic interpretatio Christiana that treats the e examples I cite here, see Murphy, Rebirth and Afterlife. Fasola, Catacombs of Rome, e 36; Ferrua, The Unknown Catacomb; Bargebuhr, Paintings of the “New” Catacomb; Goodenough, “Catacomb Art,” 133. For the new interpretation, see Denzey, Bone Gatherers, 25–57; Snyder, “Pictures in Dialogue,” 377–8, offers a good summary

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A separate corpus of scholarship catalogs the numerous meal scenes found in the catacombs, a focal point for interpretive controversies. Are these scenes meant to depict scenarios from the gospels (for example, the Last Supper), or a Christian idealized eschatological banquet,27 or the celebration of the early Christian Eucharist,28 or are they merely standard depictions of funerary banquets?29 Surely, in many cases, scenes of funerary meals were more or less documentary of a practice that Christians and pagans shared. The most famous interpretive transformation of an ordinary funerary meal scene to the sacred and solemn celebration of the Eucharist lies in the catacomb of Priscilla’s Greek Chapel, where a red-ground scene of a table of men and women celebrating a feast was labeled the Fractio Panis by Wilpert upon its discovery in 1893, and a small figure perched on the left side of the table – probably originally a slave – refigured as an older, male, bearded bishop.30 These debates around catacomb images reveal that they are not neutral, but fodder for our own interpretive projections; a simple determination of them as “Christian” or “pagan” is rarely as simple as it appears. True, a Christian grave with images of Jesus (or a type of Jesus, such as Jonah) is a fair indicator that a Christian was buried there. Still, it is worth asking: Do images convey religious identity? There is a Mithraic iconography, but it was not customarily used in graves – at least, never in mortuary painting or frescoes. Our Mithraic funerary monuments, furthermore, were commissioned by family members, not fellow Mithraists, and were deposited in family tombs, not Mithraic cemeteries.31 Conversely, there is little Isaic iconography, although we have clearly Isaic tombs (from both Isaic devotees and priests). At the catacombs of Via Latina we find images of Heracles, Tellus, Demeter, and Persephone, but do these convey religious identity, or are they there because their myths involve voyages to the underworld? And perhaps we should not be so quick to label; a grave with Tellus depicted over it may well be non-Christian, but it is not necessarily so. I have argued elsewhere that the Christian images in Cubiculum O of Via Latina were commissioned by a pagan woman for her Christian daughter – and this is just an educated

27 28

29 30

31

of those who see the Herakles imagery as triumphant over the Christian paintings in the space. See also Nagy in this volume. Jensen, “Dining in Heaven”; Jastrzebowska, “Les scènes de banquet.” Wilpert, Fractio Panis. Recent work corrects much of the wishful thinking that the meals portrayed are purely Eucharistic, but often still rely on an evolutionary framework:  see Smith, From Symposium to Eucharist. Dunbabin, The Roman Banquett, 175–202; McGowan, “Rethinking Eucharistic Origins.” Wilpert, Fractio Panis; still asserted by Fasola, Catacombs of Romee, 29. For a different reading, see Denzey, Bone Gatherers, 89–124. For the corpus of Mithraic iconography, see Vermaseren, CIMRM M

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guess – but it raises the possibility that late antique citizens deployed “religious” imagery with thought and sophistication, and not merely and simply to broadcast religious identity.32 Images did a different sort of work than simply saying “a Christian was buried here.” Perhaps an image of the raising of Lazarus conveyed predominantly eschatological hope; or one of Persephone the grief for a lost daughter; or a small symbol of a Chi Rho was not a label denoting a Christian grave but rather protecting the body inside from demons. Images broadcast wealth, or educational level, or social aspirations, or more intangible things like grief or loss, the hope that the dead were not really dead. What catacomb images did not do is broadcast doctrinal orthodoxy, or Christian identity as separate and distinct from pagan identity in a visual culture war between Christianity and paganism. A Christian image in a grave therefore likely denoted that a Christian was buried there, but the point of the image was not to act as a sort of label; it was the choice of the individual family who commissioned it according to their tastes and ability to pay. It pleased them, or they imagined it pleased their departed loved one, or both. A pagan image in a catacomb, however, can no longer be interpreted as actually “crypto-Christian” by virtue of its ostensible Christian “context” because the claim that the Church exercised oversight over the catacomb complexes no longer holds weight. There is no proof that Christians took over images of the pagan gods and suddenly “interpreted” them as images of Christ. Indeed, it would be best to adopt a version of Occam’s Razor and admit that an image of a pagan god was probably interpreted, through the third and fourth centuries, as an image of a pagan god. Likely it, too, pleased the individual who commissioned it – and that is why it is there. In summary, the criteria for distinguishing a Christian grave from a pagan one in the catacombs were established 400  years ago. Archaeologists have now abandoned such simple diagnostics. If the Church did not exercise oversight of the major catacombs, then it stands to reason that the catacombs contain burials of both Christians and pagans. In fact, recent studies have indicated that it cannot have been otherwise.

Dating (and Re-Dating) the Catacombs: Some Implications Early modern catacomb scholarship worked on the assumption that the catacombs were purely Christian innovations that had their origins in the first century, as elite Roman crypto-Christians such as Flavia Domitilla Denzey, Bone Gatherers, 25–57.

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offered their ancestral lands to Christian slaves and freedpeople as a service. However, most modern catacomb specialists now recognize that the catacombs were a relatively late phenomenon, with only a few sites that predate the Constantinian era. This is a significant shift; it means that the catacombs are no longer a reliable source for Christianity before late antiquity. If, however, the catacombs are largely late antique phenomena, then they cannot provide meaningful data for the robustness of the Christian community in Rome prior to the Constantinian era. The lack of securely identifiable Christian graves prior to the Constantinian period should in fact not surprise us, given the low numbers of Christians there must have been at that time. As for the major catacomb complexes having been Christian since at least the third century, Roman historian John Bodel recently called this assumption into question on the basis of simple mathematics. Bodel posits for the third century a standard death rate of about 40 per 1000.33 In terms of Christians, he calculates that there might have been in Rome perhaps about 200,000 at the close of the third century around the Diocletianic persecution, or 27 percent of the population.34 He notes, further, that Christians and pagans of the third century must have filled the burial spaces in a proportion equal to that of the live population. In other words, the biggest and earliest catacombs cannot be merely Christian; they must, at least before the end of the fourth century, have contained about 30 percent Christian graves to 70 percent non-Christian, at least until the so-called Christianization of the empire meant that all catacombs contained Christian burials – unless we persist in questioning what “Christianization” truly meant after the fourth century among ordinary inhabitants of Rome.

On Being a Late Antique Christian: What the Catacombs Can and Cannot Tell Us Bodel’s findings actively dismiss the assumption that Rome’s major catacomb complexes – given the absence of non-Christian burial complexes from the same time  – must have been predominantly Christian. His argument offers a significant corrective to one important assumption about the catacombs. If, however, the catacombs were constructed between the mid-fourth to the late fifth century, as appears to be the case, then it is no surprise that the majority 33 34

Bodel, “From Columbaria to Catacombs,” 185. Bodel, “From Columbaria to Catacombs,” 184. The issue of Christian number is complex and highly contested, with significant scholars such as MacMullen, The Second Church, 98–104, 111–14, prepared to admit publicly that the term Christian functionally meant little, as late as the fifth century.

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of their burials were Christian, particularly by the fifth century. Because we are here particularly concerned with pagans and Christians in late antiquity, what can we learn about the social relations between these two groups from the material culture of the catacombs? First, a point about identifying the two. Purely in terms of architecture, little differentiates a pagan grave from a Christian one. Both are – at least in the catacombs – poor in grave goods. Both pagans and Christians commemorated their dead with funerary banquets; both included feeding tubes into the graves, funerary “furniture” for families and the deceased, and images of feasting. Both pagans and Christians used the “Dis Manibus” formula on their funerary inscriptions, although Christians used it far less and in combination with other recognizably Christian symbols such as the Chi Rho or the dove, or with recognizably Christian formulae such as “in pace.” Both pagans and Christians sometimes marked their graves with apotropaic amulets such as gorgon’s heads, ivory “dolls,” or bronze bells.35 Both pagans and Christians embedded grave glass into the soft mortar of tomb closures – as did the Jews of the city – as late as the end of the fourth century.36 In all cases, bodies were wrapped in a shroud and interred, either singly or in double, triple, or occasionally quadruple tombs. There were a variety of tomb types, but these varied by location and era, not religious affiliation. In death, pagans and Christians were truly indistinguishable from one another. The similarity in ritual practice around death should raise significant questions about what constituted a “Christian” after the Peace of the Church. How does one recognize a late antique Christian? The question is posed by Virginia Burrus and Rebecca Lyman at the beginning of their collection of outstanding essays in late ancient Christianity.37 It is an excellent question, given that the contours of Christian behavior were essentially fungible even through the fourth century. Esteemed Roman historian Ramsay MacMullen asks a similar question: What was, or constituted, the City of God in a late antique context?38 Are there Christians without “Christianity” as a unified religious movement? Are there Christians outside the Church? If the major catacomb sites are not Christian, but are filled with the relatively undifferentiated bodies of pagans and

35

36

37 38

See Nuzzo, “Evidence of Amulet Use.” The collections of small finds from the catacombs – quite remarkably non-Christian according to normative notions of late antique Christianity – is on display in one of the halls in the Vatican Museums. For gold glass collections, see Ferrari, The Gold-Glass Collection of the Vatican Library; for comments on their ritual use, see De Santis, “Glass Vessels as Grave Goods.” Burrus and Lyman, “Shifting the Focus of History,” 1. MacMullen, The Second Church, 104.

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Christians with no significant markers to tell us who was which, what, then, made a late antique “ordinary” Christian Christian? If the Christian catacombs were not, in fact, Christian sites but communal graves containing both pagans and Christians, we are also left with the issue of “community” and what community meant in late antiquity. How important was Christian community over other sorts of community, that is, family, or occupational group? Are the coopers buried in the catacombs of Priscilla there because they were Christian coopers, or did a collegium of coopers, Christian or not (or some Christian and others not) simply contract out that space?39 While the traditional narrative is that adherence to the Church replaced family, this may have been true only of those who had no other family (or possibly, a family that had no money for burial). Otherwise, burials (and funerals) apparently were only a family (or collegial) matter until the fifth or sixth century, perhaps later. Here, Rebillard’s words are again insightful: “Christians, like other religious groups, did not have religious reasons for favoring some form of communal burial over family burial. Funerary practices and, specifically, the choice of burial place does not appear to have been, in the Roman Empire, an important element in the constructing of religious identity.”40 If family trumped the Church writ large in terms of determining who was buried where, the pattern we find clearly manifested – of Christian and pagan graves together in single complexes and single cubicula  – becomes only more comprehensible. In truth, every single major Christian catacomb site is, in reality, a late antique cemetery that contained thousands of burials where, generally, we have absolutely no indication of the dead’s religious affiliation because the majority of graves are unmarked.41 One might argue that were religious identity – or drawing religious boundaries – as significant as some have claimed, that more graves would broadcast the religious affiliations of the deceased. Mark Johnson has argued in an important article that Roman laws and church decrees in late antiquity never legislated the forced separation of pagans and Christians in burial. The few patristic writers to broach the subject suggest the same.42 The Digest is typically circumspect on the matter: “If the place where a body is brought for burial belongs to several co-owners, all will have to consent to the burial if the deceased is a stranger; as to such owners themselves, there is no doubt that any one of them may be properly 39 40 41 42

Rebillard, Care of the Dead, XX. d Ibid., 36. Pergola, Catacombe romane, 57–71. e Johnson, “Pagan-Christian Burial Practices.”

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buried there, even though the others should not agree” (Dig. 11.7.41 [tr. Monro, 2.257]). Note that there is nothing specifically here about differences of religion; one would have to infer that such a situation might lie behind the need to legislate the right to burial. There could be many other objections, however, as to why someone ought not to warrant burial in a collective grave. In fact, the first proscription against the mixing of pagan and Christian tombs came only in the eighth century, issued by Charlemagne in 782 in the capitulatio de partibus saxoniae: “We order that the bodies of Christian Saxons be buried in the church cemeteries and not in the pagan tumuli.” The ideological work of creating boundaries between Christians and pagans where in reality there were none had, in part, already begun in earnest in antiquity. When it came to choosing a place to be buried, however, late antique Romans were, it seems, moved by expedience rather than dogma or principle. Families were generally buried together, even when individual members possessed different religious affiliations; ties of family took precedence over burial by larger group. We cannot be sure that cost or other matters of convenience (such as proximity to burial place) were not tremendously important factors in where a burial was cited. For the most part, however, any clear delineation of “pagan” from “Christian,” based on the archaeological evidence, was a product of early modern sensibilities.

Bibliography Bargebuhr, F. P. The Paintings of the “New” Catacomb of the Via Latina and the Struggle of Christianity against Paganism, ed. Joachim Utz (Heidelberg, 1991). Beard, Mary, et al. Religions of Rome,Vol. 2: A Sourcebook (Cambridge, 1998). Bodel, J. “From Columbaria to Catacombs:  Communities of the Dead in Pagan and Christian Rome,” in L. Brink and D. Greene, eds., Roman Burial and Commemorative Practices and Earliest Christianity (Berlin/New York, 2008), 177–242. Bowes, K. D. Private Worship, Public Values, and Religious Change in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, 2008). Burrus, V. and R. Lyman. “Shifting the Focus of History,” in Virginia Burrus and Rebecca Lyman, eds., Late Ancient Christianity. A People’s History of Christianity 2 (Philadelphia, 2005), 1–26. Deckers, J. “Wie genau ist eine Katakombe zu datieren? Das beispiel SS.Marcellino e Pietro,” in Memoriam Sanctorum Venerantes. Miscellanea in onore di Monsignor Victor Saxer (Vatican City, 1992), 217–38. Denzey, N. The Bone Gatherers (Boston, 2007). De Rossi, G. B., ed. Roma sotterranea Cristiana. 3 vols. (Rome, 1864–77). De Rossi, G. B. Inscriptiones christianae urbis romae septimo saeculo (Rome, 1887–). De Santis, P. “Glass Vessels as Grave Goods and Grave Ornament in the Catacombs of Rome: Some Examples,” in J. Pearce, M. Millett, and M. Struck, eds., Burial, Society, and Context in the Ancient World (Oxford, 2000), 240–2.

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Ditchfield, S. “Reading Rome as a Sacred Landscape, ca. 1586–1635,” in W. Coster and A. Spicer, eds., Sacred Space in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 2005), 167–91. “Thinking with the Saints: Sanctity and Society in the Early Modern World.” Critical Inquiry 35, no. 3 (2009): 552–84. Dunbabin, K. The Roman Banquet: Images of Conviviality (New York, 2003). Ferrari, G., ed. Charles Rufus Morey (1877–1955): The Gold-Glass Collection of the Vatican Library: With Additional Catalogues of Other Gold-Glass Collections (Vatican City, 1959). Ferrua, A. The Unknown Catacomb: A Unique Discovery of Early Christian Art. Introduction by Bruno Nardini, trans. Iain Inglis (New Lanark, 1991). Finney, P. C. The Invisible God: The Earliest Christians on Art (New York, 1994). Frend, W. H. C. The Archaeology of Early Christianity: A History (Minneapolis, 1996). Goodenough, E. R. “Catacomb Art.” JBL 81 (1962). Guyon, J. “La vente des tombes à travers l’épigraphie de la Rome chrétienne (IIIe-VIIe siècles):  Le rôle des fossores, mansionarii, praepositi et prètres.” MEFRA 86 (1974): 549–96. Jastrzebowska, E. “Les scènes de banquet dans les peintures et sculptures chrétienne des IIIe et IVe siècles.” Recherches Augustiniennes 14 (1979). Jensen, R. “Dining in Heaven: The Earliest Christian Visions of Paradise.” Bible Review 14, no. 5 (1998): 32–9, 48–9. Johnson, M. “Pagan-Christian Burial Practices of the Fourth Century: Shared Tombs?” JECS 5, no. 1 (1997): 37–59. Logan, A. H. B. The Gnostics: Identifying an Early Christian Cult (London, 2006). MacMullen, R. The Second Church:  Popular Christianity, A.D. 200–400 (Leiden/ Boston, 2009). McGowan, A. “Rethinking Eucharistic Origins.” Pacifica 23 (2010): 173–91. Murphy, S. C. Rebirth and Afterlife: A Study of the Transmutation of Some Pagan Imagery in Early Christian Funerary Art. British Archaeological Reports, International Series 100 (Oxford, 1981). Nuzzo, D. “Evidence of Amulet Use from the Christian Catacombs.” In John Pearce, Martin Millett, and Manuela Struck, eds., Burial, Society, and Context in the Roman World (Oxford, 2000), 249–55. Oryshkevich, I. T. “The History of the Roman Catacombs from the Age of Constantine to the Renaissance.” PhD diss. Columbia University (2003). Osborne, J. “The Roman Catacombs in the Middle Ages.” PBSR 53 (1985): 278–328. Palladio, A. The Churches of Rome, trans. and commentary by Eunice D. Howe (Binghamton, 1991). Pergola, P. Le catacombe romane:  storia e topografia, catalogo a cura di P. M. Barbini (Rome, 1998). Perry, J. “A Death in the Familia: The Funerary Colleges of the Roman Empire.” PhD diss., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (1999). Rebillard, É. “Koimeterion, Coemeterium: Tombe, Tombe Sainte, Nécropole.” MEFRA 105, no. 2 (1993): 975–1001. The Care of the Dead in Late Antiquity (Ithaca, 2009). Rutgers, L. Subterranean Rome: In Search of the Roots of Christianity in the Catacombs of the Eternal City (Leuven, 2000). Saller, R. and B. Shaw. “Tombstones and Roman Family Relations in the Principate: Civilians, Soldiers, and Slaves.” JRS 74 (1984): 124–56.

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Shaw, B. “Latin Funerary Epigraphy and Family Life in the Later Roman Empire.” Historia 33 (1984): 457–97. Spera, L. “The Christianization of Space along the Via Appia: Changing Landscape in the Suburbs of Rome.” AJA 107, no. 1 (2003): 23–43. Smith, D. E. From Symposium to Eucharist:  The Banquet in the Early Christian World (Minneapolis, 2003). Snyder, H. G. “Pictures in Dialogue: A Viewer-Centered Approach to the Hypogeum on Via Dino Compagni.” JECS 13, no. 3 (2005): 347–94. Vermaseren, M. J. Corpus inscriptionum et monumentorum religionis mithriacae. 2 vols. (The Hague, 1956, 1960). Wilpert, J. Fractio Panis, die alteste Darstellung der eucharistischen Opfers (Freiburg in Breisgau, 1895). Die Malereien der Katakomben Roms (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1903). Yasin, A. M. “Displaying the Sacred Past: Ancient Christian Inscriptions in Early Modern Rome.” International Journal of the Classical Tradition 7, no. 1 (2000): 39–57.

13

ON THE FORM AND FUNCTION OF CONSTANTINE ’S CIRCIFORM FUNERARY BASILICAS IN ROME Monica Hellström The so-called circiform funerary basilicas in Rome represent one of the most easily identifiable of all Roman building types.1 In plan the edifices resemble a circus, as suggested by the oblique short eastern wall that imitates the angle of the circus carceres, a feature that is not determined by topography and that has no utility (Figure 13.1).2 Side aisles formed an ambulatory around an apsed nave on the inside, and all were roofed, likely with a clerestory. Six are known to date, and all are located on consular roads at roughly the same distance from the city (Figure 13.2). Starting from the northeast, they include S. Agnese on Via Nomentana with the mausoleum attributed to Constantine’s daughter Constantina, S. Lorenzo by Via Tiburtina, found under the cemetery Campo Verano, the basilica in the Villa dei Gordiani on Via Praenestina with the mausoleum called Tor de’Schiavi, SS. Pietro e Marcellino on Via Labicana with the mausoleum of Constantine’s mother Helena, and S. Sebastiano, or the Basilica Apostolorum, on Via Appia.3 The discovery of a sixth basilica by Via Ardeatina in the 1990s increases the likelihood that similar edifices were raised on further spokes, such as Via Salaria or Via Ostiense.4 Their dates and functions are disputed, but scholars generally agree that they all were erected in the first two quarters of the fourth century, and that they functioned primarily as covered 1

2

3

4

Beyond overviews by Krautheimer, CBCR R, and Brandenburg, Basiliken, see Armstrong, “Churches”; Fiocchi Nicolai, Strutturee; Jastrzębowska, “Fondations”; Krautheimer, “Mensa”; Logan, “Constantine”; Morin, “Basilique”; Tolotti, “Basiliche”; Torelli, “Basiliche”; and Guidobaldi and Guidobaldi, eds. Ecclesiae Urbis. So argued by Jastrzębowska, “Fondations,” 62; see also Krautheimer, “Mensa,” 39; Torelli, “Basiliche,” 207–8; Morin, “Basilique.” To avoid confusion with, for instance, the later ad corpus basilicas of S. Laurence and S. Agnes, I will henceforth refer to them by their associated ancient roads. So also Torelli, “Iconografia,” 1106. A basilica by S. Felicitas on Via Salaria is not unlikely. Its catacomb was popular in the fourth century (Dinuzzi and Pavolini, “L’area,” 87), and according to LP P 227.5–6, Bonifatius I (418–22) dwelled in its cemetery while exiled, in like manner to how Liberius hid in the cemetery of S. Agnes (207.10–11).

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13.1. Map of Rome with the locations of the funerary basilicas:  1.  S. Agnese on Via Nomentana; 2.  S. Lorenzo f.l.m. on Via Tiburtina; 3.  Anonymous on Via Praenestina; 4. SS. Pietro e Marcellino on Via Labicana; 5. S. Sebastiano (Basilica Apostolorum) on Via Appia; 6. Anonymous (Basilica Marcii) on Via Ardeatina. Created by the author based on satellite image @2013 Cnes/Spot Image, DigitalGlobe, GeoEye.

graveyards, coemeteria coperta, because their internal surfaces were paved with tombstones, and once built, mausolea and catacomb galleries emerged at their sites.5 The period of their use was relatively brief; all save the Via Appia basilica, which was preserved through its post-antique association with Saint Sebastian, fell to ruin by the late-seventh and eighth centuries.6 No circiform basilica has been found outside Rome.7 5

6 7

On the vast spread of catacombs on these sites from Constantine onward, Fiocchi Nicolai, Strutturee, 63–72. For the (generally refuted) suggestions by Geertman and Rasch of late dates for Tiburtina and Praenestina, see notes 12 and 21. Krautheimer, “Mensa,” 22–4. See Guidobaldi and Guidobaldi, Ecclesiae Urbis, discussion, 1249–50. These do not conform in all details.

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13.2. Schematic plans of the earliest building phases of the basilicas, in proportion: 1. Praenestina; 2. Appia; 3. Labicana; 4. Ardeatina; 5. Tiburtina; 6. Nomentana. Created by the author based on Tolotti, Stanley, and Fiocchi Nicolai.

Most scholars discuss the circiform basilicas in the context of Constantine’s church-building projects, and the Labicana, Nomentana, and Tiburtina basilicas are mentioned in the Liber Pontificalis, with the Ardeatina a possible fourth.8 Although Constantine was certainly involved with most of these structures, the construction of one, possibly two, of the edifices – the

8

The Tiburtina basilica is not securely identified as the structure raised by Constantine; see note 21.

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Praenestina and Appia basilicas – was in all likelihood already begun before his conquest of Rome.9 This suggests that we need to explain the conception of the building type without regard for Constantine’s open support for Christianity after 312. Furthermore, the tendency to put strong emphasis on the circus association when interpreting these structures is not satisfactory to many scholars, including myself.10 Without excluding associations with Christianity and/or circuses, my research leads me to an alternative explanation. Rather than relying on texts, I will focus on physical evidence, such as visual impact, location, and association with other structures. I will focus on how the basilicas create spaces and movements, and what social relations they express between the buried and their patrons, as well as between the patrons and the city and its suburbium. By drawing analogies with another group of funerary structures, the grand columbaria of the Augustan family and its associates, I  suggest that the primary message the funerary basilicas conveyed was dynastic. The aim of their builder(s), it will be argued, was to make manifest a patronage relation between the (as yet not firmly established) imperial family and the Roman populace, using symbols contemporary Roman audiences understood well. I  will further suggest that Constantine and his sons reformulated this imperial Roman relationship in Christian terms.

The Edifices The circiform basilicas can be divided into two subgroups, based on dimensions and plan. The basilicas by the Via Praenestina, Via Labicana, and Via Appia are of almost identical proportions, and are likely close in date. They are all located by the third mile, at least two of them on imperial estates, and the same may well apply to the third. Most scholars treat them as the earliest of the series, while S. Agnese and S. Lorenzo are generally seen as the latest.11 These two are considerably larger, and also share some formal features. The Ardeatina basilica, finally, resembles the earlier group, but if its association with Pope Marcus (336 CE) is accepted, it is one of the latest.

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See later in this chapter. See later in this chapter. Among those accepting the smaller as older and close in date are Brandenburg, Guyon, Jastrzębowska, Krautheimer, Tolotti, and Torelli. Their internal chronology is debated; for variants see the Ecclesiae Urbis articles, with Torelli “Iconografia,” 1101, the most widely accepted version. A  summary of the discussion on dates is provided by Fiocchi Nicolai, “Basilica Marci,” i 1193–95 n. 34.

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The Praenestina complex in the villa dei Gordiani, often omitted from accounts on the funerary basilicas, predates Constantine. The basilica itself is not well dated (or published), and suggestions range from the late Tetrarchy to the reign of Maxentius, and even to the late-fourth century.12 However, the grand mausoleum on the site, 19 meters in diameter, is beyond doubt earlier than Constantine, possibly even than Maxentius, and is certainly related to the basilica. The most recent suggestion is that the basilica was begun by Maxentius and finished before 312, or soon thereafter.13 It is unique in that it was abandoned after only forty-seven burials, and never became connected to a catacomb. A pre-Constantinian date has also been suggested, if less convincingly, for the Labicana and the Appia basilicas. The construction of the Labicana dates to between the end of the third century and circa 325, as indicated by the discontinuation of the burial ground of the equites singulares on which the basilica was likely raised (judging by tombstones used in the basilica foundations), and the addition of the mausoleum of Helena before her death in 324–5.14 Thus, even if potentially initiated before Constantine, his family clearly appropriated it and appears to have favored it through rich endowments.15 The most controversial of the basilicas in terms of date is the Appia, which like the Praenestina receives no mention in the Liber Pontificalis.16 12

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Rasch, Tor de’Schiavii, 79–80, although widely rejected; see Ceccherelli, “Mausoleo.” The basilica opens away from the mausoleum, which is securely dated to before 309, but a door in the apse leads directly to it. That a later builder would favor access to an imperial mausoleum of that date is hard to imagine. That the Tor de’Schiavi is imperial is not in doubt. Besides being raised on imperial property, no privatus raised tombs of such dimensions; Maiuro, “Gordianorum,” 37. For a recent treatment of the complex, Maiuro, “Gordianorum.” Rasch dated the mausoleum to Maxentius;Torelli, “Basiliche,” 204, dated it to the Tetrarchy. Maiuro dates the mausoleum to the late Tetrarchy, reworked by Maxentius, who added the basilica. Volpe, “Via Labicana,” 225, points out that the cemetery was already discontinued by 300, making a still earlier date possible. Deichmann and Guyon excavated the now demolished i Guyon, “L’origine.” ruins in the 1950s. See Guyon, Cimitièree; Guyon, “SS. Marcellini et Pietri”; Volpe, “Via Labicana.” LP P 182.11–3 states that it was built by Constantine to the saints and his mother, Helena. The text is suspect, but the attribution of the mausoleum to Helena is accepted, raised according to Guyon circa 320–5 while the basilica dates to Constantine’s earliest years, contemporaneous to the Lateran complex; see Guyon, “SS. Marcellini et Pietri,” 24. i Imperial holdings in the area have been reconstructed based on endowments for the complex listed in the Liber Pontificalis; see Volpe, “Via Labicana.” Several entries are fantastical, such as Sardinia and Misenum (called an island), which has led to serious doubts as to the reliability of the text. The most extensive account of the Appia basilica is Nieddu, Basilica; see also Nieddu, “S. Sebastiano”; Spera, “Territorio”; Spera, “Christianization”; Logan, “Constantine”; Giuliani, “Catacumbas”; and Jastrzębowska, “S. Sebastiano.”

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Structural features point to an early date, as it presents building techniques and formal features identical to those seen in the Maxentian villa complex across the road. Also telling is the absence of Chi-Rho symbols among the plentiful graffiti in the so-called Memoria Apostolorum, the cortile where Christians celebrated refrigeria in honor of Peter and Paul, which appears to have been destroyed through the construction of the basilica that sits atop it.17 As with the Labicana basilica, the mausolea that abut it and the catacombs below it were developed at a later stage; the original plan only included one annex, an enormous, apsed extension on the southern flank, which was demolished and built over by two more modest (but still imposing) mausolea. The annex is interpreted as the tomb of the builder, who seems to have fallen out of favor soon after its erection, which might suggest an associate of Maxentius.18 The early chronology has considerable support, but it should be noted that the strategy toward other Maxentian suburban buildings was abandonment rather than repurposing, such as for the villa complex and, it appears, also the Praenestina basilica.19 On the other hand, if, as argued, the teams at work on the villa were transferred across to road to build the basilica, then the extensive landscaping required for its construction must have already been undertaken. The issue of chronology is thus far from settled, but a year not much later or earlier than 312 must be reckoned with. The Ardeatina basilica remains to be fully excavated and has not been conclusively dated, but its excavator Fiocchi Nicolai argues for its construction in the late 330s to match his attribution to Pope Marcus who, according to the Liber Pontificalis, built a cemetery in 336, funded by Constantine.20

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See Jastrzębowska, “Fondations,” 62–5; Jastrzębowska, “S. Sebastiano”; Krautheimer, “Mensa,” 22, allowing for a date of construction either before 313 or, at the latest, in the 320s. Already Styger noted that the masonry is identical in the two complexes; see also recent excavations by Conlin et al., “Villa of Maxentius.” Nieddu, Basilica, 143–4, finds the arguments for a Maxentian date convincing, but maintains that it is a church and thus has to be Constantinian. Logan, “Constantine,” dismisses the structural data and argues for a post-Constantinian date. Nieddu, Basilica, 139, points out that its patron must have been of tremendously high status, and that its thorough destruction is unusual and inexplicable. Suggestions include Fausta, which is complicated by the fact that she did not dwell in Rome. Logan, “Constantine,” 41, interprets the space as a shrine to Peter and Paul. That it was aimed for burials is, however, clear from the identification of tombs inside. Conlin et  al., “Villa of Maxentius,” 358–9, express surprise at not finding evidence of Constantinian reoccupation or destruction. The enormous site was apparently left as it was; evidence of sporadic vandalism dates to Constantius II, half a century later. LP P 202.3–4, 18–9. For the structure and excavation, Fiocchi Nicolai, “Nuova basilica”; Nicolai, “S. Marci basilica”; Nicolai, “Basilica Marci”; i Fiocchi Nicolai et al., “Lo scavo.” See also Spera, “Territorio”; Spera, “Christianization.” Guyon, “SS. Marcellini et Pietri,” i 22, dates

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The second and latest subgroup consists of the Nomentana and Tiburtina basilicas, both far larger than the others. They also share some peculiarities, such as a dent in the ambulatory wall that serves to demarcate the apse, and small extensions in the same relative location as the annex on the Appia basilica. The chronology for the Tiburtina basilica is not well known, and the entry in the Liber Pontificalis that relates to the site presents difficulties of interpretation that have generated wildly conflicting suggestions.21 The kinship with the Nomentana basilica, of which somewhat more is known, may suggest a similar timeline. The Liber Pontificalis claims it was built by Constantine on the request of his daughter Constantina, and it used to be dated close to her death in 354.22 Excavations in the 1990s, however, have shown that the mausoleum is later than the basilica, a discovery that has pushed back the date for the latter to the 330s or 340s.23 The same passage in the Liber Pontificalis claims that Constantina and her aunt Constantia were baptized at S. Agnese by Silvester, which, if taken seriously, indicates a date of erection before their deaths in 330 (Constantia) and 335 (Silvester). Although the dates for nearly all the basilicas are under discussion, two things can be established: on one hand, that an origin for the building type before Constantine’s conquest of Rome must be allowed for, on the other, that he and his family made systematic use of it. It is also evident that the form was abandoned with the passing of his dynasty.

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it earlier because of its similarity to the Praenestina, Labicana, and Appia basilicas. Some inscriptions have consular dates from the mid-fourth century, but these do not become common before then; Nieddu, Basilica, 142–3. LP P 181.5–8 places Constantine’s basilica above the martyr’s tomb, where a small shrine was raised in the fourth century, perhaps by Damasus. It postdates the circiform basilica, which was not connected to the tomb and which Krautheimer, “Mensa,” 22, dated to the 320s or r alone argues that it was built in the fifth century by early 330s. Geertman, “Basilica maior,” Sixtus III, taking an entry in his vita in the Liber Pontificalis to refer to the funerary basilica and not S. Lorenzo in Lucina, as usually assumed. For the structure, see Krautheimer, “Mensa,” Serra, “S. Laurentii basilica.” It is the only basilica with columns and architrave instead of piers and arches, which might suggest that it is the latest in the series, as is generally agreed. LP P 180.11–2; ICUR 8.20752, corroborated by an inscription. The text does not state that it was built to house her remains, and it may have been raised far in advance. On the Nomentana basilica, Frutaz, Sant’ Agnese; e Stanley, “New Discoveries at Santa Costanza”; Mackie, “A New Look at the Patronage of Santa Costanza, Rome.” Stanley’s excavation revealed that the original plan included a trefoil-shaped extension, below S. Costanza. Mackie identifies the latter with the mausoleum of Julian’s wife, Helena, who according to Ammianus, 21.1.3–4, was buried with her sister at his estate on Via Nomentana. A large, apsed structure occupied the westernmost part of the nave, perhaps the initial tomb of Constantina.

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Interpretations of Their Form and Function Interpretations of the form hinged for a long time on the assumption that the basilicas were specifically Christian structures. One of the most persistent explanations is that the shape commemorated the martyrdoms of Christians in circuses, against which one might argue that an amphitheater would have been more suitable. Another suggestion Krautheimer ventures is that the form symbolizes paradise, drawing on circus-shaped gardens such as that of Domitian on the Palatine.24 It should be noted that the circus is not a recurring theme in Christian iconography, the conventions of which were developing at the time – there is no well-established Christian imagery in which a circus is employed to represent either paradise or victorious martyrs. Furthermore, because an earlier date is likely for the form, its origins need to be sought outside Christianity, unless we envision Maxentius and/or his father as large-scale benefactors to the faithful masses.25 Torelli has instead called attention to the cosmic connotations of the circus, with its many references to seasons and eternity, an imagery that is well documented as employed by Christians and pagans alike.26 But the buildings only resemble circuses in the plan of their perimeter walls, and do not replicate the elements that carry the strongest cosmic symbolism, such as the spina. It bears repeating: these towering, roofed structures with their massive horizontal wall curtains looked nothing like circuses, and it is unlikely that a passing viewer would have understood them as such. The angle of the short wall is deliberate, and it seems clear that the architecture references the circus, but it does not imitate it – the association is not strong enough to explain the sudden appearance of the form. Duval, rejecting the circus analogy, suggests that the aula is a better model, and I am inclined to agree.27 The meaning of the form has long dominated the discussion on the basilicas, with far less attention to their function, which remains a subject of considerable debate. In the first place it is unlikely that they ever functioned as regular churches. They had no assigned clergy, and no traces of either altars or baptisteries have been discovered. It is far from evident that the

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The various arguments are discussed by Torelli, “Basiliche,” 207–8. To the contrary, Jastrzębowska, “S. Sebastiano,” who argues for a Maxentian date but sees in this emperor a patron of the by then large community of Christians. Torelli, “Basiliche,” 208–9, repeated in “Iconografia.” La Rocca, “Basiliche,” 1126–40, elaborates both the martyr and the cosmic theme, interpreting the mausolea as emulating, as it seems all in one go, shrines to Hercules, heroa, and the Pantheon. Guidobaldi and Guidobaldi, eds., Ecclesiae Urbis, 1249, supported by Brandenburg, 1251–2; so also Guyon, “L’origine,” 1169–72. Krautheimer has repeatedly rejected the circus analogy.

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basilicas had altars at the original stage, and if so, certainly not in the apses, which appear to have been used as banqueting spaces.28 The discussion on whether the basilicas housed Eucharist celebrations is very much alive; the most commonly accepted position is that they did, but only on a few dates of note.29 The problem posed by the timeline – that Constantine was probably not their inventor – is rarely acknowledged, but at least the Praenestina basilica was in all likelihood not conceived as a church, and the same may well apply to the Appia. It should also be recognized that no concept of a “church” existed as yet in the minds of the Romans who saw them. Edifices that certainly were destined for regular services were very different. This is true both of the earliest, the Lateran, and of all later Constantinian churches, in Rome or elsewhere. If a distinct form is imagined for martyr churches, as opposed to service churches, it should be noted that SS. Peter and Paul were by far the most celebrated martyrs, and their basilicas were not circiform but had the shape of the Lateran basilica. The common interpretation of the edifices as martyria also presents problems, seeing that the four oldest basilicas have no well-established martyr associations at their initial stages.The Labicana basilica, the only one securely mentioned in the Liber Pontificalis, was not connected to the catacomb that housed the tomb of SS. Peter and Marcellinus, which had no architectural elaboration until the time of Damasus, and the new galleries dug under the basilica mirror the overground structure without any relation to the older ones. None of the tombs from the Constantinian era – whether in the basilica, the new catacomb, or the mausolea around it – are oriented toward the martyr tomb, but the main element of attraction, as Guyon has repeatedly pointed out, appears to have been the imperial mausoleum.30 The Appia basilica has no martyr tomb, but a tradition existed at least by the time of

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Arguments against their use as churches are summarized by Krautheimer, “Mensa,” 26–8. Services in the basilicas are described in texts as extraordinary, even illicit. For altars, see Fiocchi Nicolai, “Basilica Marcii,” 1195–6. Tolotti, Memorie, e 273–4 argued based on later examples from Africa and Milan that the Appia basilica had an altar in the middle of the nave and that it dates to the original construction. The discussion in Guidobaldi and Guidobaldi, eds., Ecclesiae Urbis, 1255–60, deals extensively with this issue. Some (e.g., Duval) have found the idea of covered graveyards hard to accept, but the majority agree with Fiocchi Nicolai, De Spirito, Ciancio, Thümmel, Guyon, and Guidobaldi that any frequent use for services dates to the late fourth century, while in the earliest period their primary purposes were funerary. Among those rejecting a martyr connection at the initial stage are Guyon, Cimitièree; Guyon, “L’origine,” 1172–3; Torelli, “Basiliche,” 204; Logan, “Constantine,” 36; Fiocchi Nicolai, Strutture, e 58; and Fiocchi Nicolai, “Basilica Marcii,” 1188–9. The saints receive no mention in the Chronography of 354 or the Depositio Martyrum. The catacomb in which their tomb was inserted did not encroach on the basilica site, suggesting that the managements of the

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Damasus, as shown by an inscription, that the bones of Peter and Paul had been kept on this spot during the persecution of Valerian in the mid-third century, and the Memoria Apostolorum is usually associated with this tradition.31 Whether it was established at the time of construction is, however, less clear, and the ruthless treatment of the Memoria – it was filled in to level the ground for construction and access to it was blocked – has led to doubts that veneration of the two saints played a large part in the basilica’s conception.32 The Ardeatina basilica had no martyr association, and the Praenestina was likely not even a Christian edifice, seeing its early date and absence of identifiable Christian burials.33 The two largest basilicas are mentioned in the Liber Pontificalis as raised in honor of SS. Agnes and Laurence, but they do not relate spatially to their tombs. The entry in the text on S. Laurence may in fact not refer to the funerary basilica at all, as it states that Constantine built his shrine directly on the martyr’s cave together with a descending staircase, which fits ill with the circiform structure.34 There is thus little to support the idea that the building type was originally conceived as a martyrium.When these eventually arose, they tended to be enclosed central plan structures, entirely different from the massive and quite public spaces the funerary basilicas offered. If neither the church nor the martyrium, or even the circus, suffice to explain the invention of the building type, how are we to understand it? If one leaves potential spiritual connotations aside for the time being and instead takes note of how the basilicas operated within their topographical settings and the social landscape of Rome, certain features emerge as common to all of them. The first is a strong connection to the imperial family: three of the basilicas were closely associated with imperial mausolea, imperial women in the cases known. All circiform basilicas for which land ownership is established were situated on imperial estates, including the

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organized and regular than their older neighbors. ICUR R 5.13273. On the apostles and Via Appia, Guarducci, The Tomb of St. Peter, chapter 6. Marucchi, “Iscrizione,” argued that ICUR R 1.3900 also derives from the complex. The inscription mentions the apostles, and refers to an edifice founded by a pope and built by a father and a son, whom he identified with Damasus, Byzantius, and Pammachius because of a strong resemblance to an inscription referring to the construction of SS. Giovanni e Paolo by Pammachius (De Rossi, Inscr. Chrr. 2: 150). Logan, “Constantine,” 40, interprets the three as Silvester, Constantine, and Constans. A fresco fragment from the Memoria was reused in the construction of a tomb in the basilica in a similar way as pagan tomb fragments; Nieddu, Basilica, 116 n. 489. So Maiuro “Gordianorum,” 37, noting that all tombs are anepigraphic and that there is no connection to any catacomb. For the date, see note 13. LP P 181.5–8.Torelli, “Basiliche,” 206–7, follows Tolotti in treating the text as referring to later churches.

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Nomentana, Tiburtina, Praenestina, and Labicana.35 This is not unlikely for the Appia as well, which lay across the road from a massive imperial complex and on top of an old necropolis for imperial freedmen.36 And if the identification of the Ardeatina basilica with Pope Marcus is correct, then Constantine funded it, at least. The edifices themselves display a far-reaching command of spatial, financial, material, and human resources. Massive landscaping of the uneven ground was necessary to build the Nomentana, Appia, and Ardeatina basilicas, including leveling of hills and very deep terracing – as much as 11 meters for the Appia.37 Its builder was at liberty to take over the workforce occupied with the Maxentian complex, and also to destroy recent burials.38 The funerary basilicas represent a level of investment and influence far beyond any burial facilities before them, Christian or otherwise. Their locations are significant: this part of the suburbium, and in particular the stretches along the roads, had been associated with burials for centuries – no doubt contemporary observers would have understood them first and foremost as tombs. Seen in this light, they were truly formidable, the largest that Rome ever saw. The choices of location betray a concern for visual impact; for instance, massive landscaping efforts allowed the Nomentana to dominate visually the entire valley to the west. Spera underlines the towering presence of the Appia and Ardeatina basilicas, henceforth the principal features of the area, and she has no doubt that the basilicas had a political-ideological purpose.39 To insert these imposing funerary structures in a traditional landscape of competition for status by way of tombs conveyed messages surely not lost on contemporary observers. Furthermore, they were strikingly extrovert edifices. Their plans emphasize the association with the consular roads, and include large gathering spaces. The basilica on Via Nomentana had a vast open forecourt, and its 35

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Krautheimer, “Mensa,” 19, does not doubt imperial ownership of the land on which the Tiburtina basilica was raised, so also Torelli, “Basiliche,” 207. The limits of the property called Triopion, donated to Marcus Aurelius by Herodes Atticus in 173, are unknown; Spera, “Territorio,” 274; Maiuro et al., “Triopion.” That the Appia basilica could only have been raised on imperial command is argued by Dey, “Review of A.M. Nieddu.” On the necropolis, Jastrzębowska, “S. Sebastiano,” 1143–6. Nieddu, “S. Sebastiano,” 53. Spera, “Christianization,” 30–1. Their construction changed the entire focus of the suburbium up to the third milestone, where this radical restructuring had begun with the Maxentian complex; Spera, “Territorio,” 287–8. Jastrzębowska, “Fondations,” 59, on the unprecedented sacrilege in destroying functioning necropolises and barring access to tombs for living relatives. Spera, “Christianization,” 31, and “Territorio,” 289. Krautheimer, “Mensa,” 18, notes the massive size and conspicuous location of S. Agnese. On the enormous landfill required to create it, Pavolini, “S. Agnese,” 1222.

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entrance faced the road. The one on Via Labicana had two extensive forecourts on either side of the basilica, which opened toward the road through a monumental staircase.The Ardeatina basilica may have had a similar arrangement, and the entrance of the Appia lay toward the road and was preceded by a wide open area.40 Neither of the spaces was intended for burials; at least initially, these were all concentrated inside the structures. A conspicuous case is the remarkably permeable Tiburtina basilica: it opened at the eastern short end by arcades, while the apse, which faced the road, had as many as seven doorways.41 The arrangement allowed for simultaneous access by crowds from both east and west; incidentally an indication that the structure was not functioning as a church in any manner with which we are familiar. This indicates another aspect of visibility:  frequentation. It is clear that the basilicas were meant to be places, to be moved to and through. Roman burial practices prescribed rites to the dead on several days of the year, and with a concentration of well more than 1,000 burials in a single location, as postulated for the smaller category, the basilicas would have seen considerable traffic.42 With the development of the catacombs below they would have drawn substantial crowds on days of collective commemorations of the dead, such as the parentalia festival. Krautheimer suggested the basilicas were used for funerary banquets, a practice that the Christians adopted as refrigeria, and in the course of the fourth century, martyr feasts developed at some of the sites. These could apparently become quite rowdy, and this, together with the pagan association of the rites, eventually led to their suppression.43 Seeing the weak connection to martyrs for most of the basilicas, however, such rites must (at least initially) have been performed for relatives more often than to saints. Something that in all likelihood did occur, and on a conspicuous scale if involving the families of all those interred in the complexes, was commemorative rites to the imperial patrons buried in the mausolea.Their souls were 40

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For the Ardeatina, Fiocchi Nicolai,“Lo scavo,” 84–91, based on the remains of a portico with burials reminiscent of the Labicana. Krautheimer, “Mensa,” 18. Nieddu, “S. Sebastiano,” 54, suggests as many as 1,600 for the Ardeatina basilica. Spera, “Christianization,” 38, underlines the public role that the suburbium attained with the vast acquisitions there by the church. Krautheimer, “Mensa,” 28–34, followed by Torelli, “Basiliche,” 210–11, connects this to a suspicion of pagan holdovers. Rebillard, Care of the Dead, d 142–53, notes attempts by Ambrose and Augustine to abolish martyr feasts. Fiocchi Nicolai, “Basilica Marcii,” 1196–9, argues that the building type was discontinued because of the ban on banqueting, the transfer of workmen to other imperial projects, and the development of Eucharistic practices that favored other forms.

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thus protected not only by martyrs (in some cases), but by multitudes of Romans, treated to their own tombs through the patronage of the imperial family. The social distance between these illustrious patrons and the buried was huge, at least at the initial stage. The earlier tombs were all, as it seems, quite humble.44 They are best known for the Labicana, Appia, and Ardeatina basilicas, where the tombs that pave the floors are homogenous, and often anonymous. Variation exists, as in the number of inhumations they accommodated (two in most cases, but more in some), but the general impression is of a social spectrum that is not overly wide, with little evidence for family units.45 Compared to the catacombs the use of the space is more coherently organized, which speaks against the idea that different fossores operated independently.46 Any notable hierarchization only set in among the burials toward the mid-fourth century, as seen in the mausolea of wealthy individuals that clustered around the Labicana, Appia, and Ardeatina basilicas, but even these ranked considerably below the imperial patrons. The resources required for the erection of the basilicas were obviously beyond the means of those initially buried in them, even supposing that there existed at the time a church (or other) organization able to manage the projects. That this was the case has been questioned by Rebillard and Denzey, as will be treated further later in this chapter. For several of the basilicas, the majestic mausolea made abundantly clear who was to be perceived as responsible.

Householders and Masters: Aristocratic Columbaria and Social Status That contemporary Romans understood this manner of communication well is suggested by an earlier group of funerary monuments, equally ambitious and distinct: the aristocratic columbaria of the Augustan era. With the shift to cremation burial in the mid-first century BCE, tombs began to appear that displayed rows of niches for cinerary urns, commonly labeled “columbaria” by modern scholars. As other tombs, they were usually organized around a family, often that of a successful freedman, together with 44

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Fiocchi Nicolai, Strutture, e 64–5, claims only limited social stratification set in under Constantine, to become far more pronounced by the mid-fourth century; so also Spera, “Christianization,” 208–30. Nieddu, Basilica, 361, rejects that family (or any) groups are identifiable among the tombs inside the Appia basilica, while the later mausolea represent a significantly higher social horizon and display family and status. In most cases, the ambulatories appear to have been occupied first, the apses last, and less systematically (if at all). Fiocchi Nicolai, “Lo scavo,” 98–9 and Pavolini, “S. Agnese,” 1220–1.

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dependents. However, a small number of edifices are known that form a separate category, which I have chosen to label “aristocratic columbaria.”47 Two features set them apart: their great size and their social organization, in particular the relation between the builders and the buried. They were created specifically to house the dependents of families belonging to the utmost elite, and the burials numbered in the hundreds, even thousands.48 The patrons were not themselves buried in these edifices, which show a social horizon that was quite low, mainly slaves and freedmen of far more humble standing than those whose tombs lined the roads.49 Fewer than ten are known, all raised within a few decades, and all associated either with the family of Augustus or with novi who rose with him.50 Of particular interest for this study is the Monumentum Liviae on Via Appia that housed the slave familia of the empress, the earliest and largest of the series, and the tomb of the slave household of the Statilii Tauri on Via Labicana, descendants of Augustus’s general T. Statilius Taurus.51 Almost as large as the imperial model, it was abandoned in 53 CE, and preserves an undisturbed Julio-Claudian context. Like the funerary basilicas, they are located on consular roads, in horti owned by the imperial family or their closest associates, and are exclusive to Rome.They had a short lifespan; some remained in operation until the reign of Hadrian, but significant changes to

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For definitions, Bodel, “Columbarium to Catacomb,” 195–7; Caldelli and Ricci, Monumentum, 64–5, 67, who consider this limited group of edifices the only true columbaria. For the genre, see also Kammerer-Grothaus, “Camere”; Hasegawa, Familia Urbana;Taliaferro Boatwright, Volusiii; Treggiari, “Family Life.” Caldelli and Ricci, Monumentum, 60–1. The Monumentum Liviae was built to accommodate circa 1,000 burials but eventually received many more. The original part of the monument of the Statilii had more than 700 loculii. The higher levels of the household hierarchy are also absent, such as the freedmen T. Statilius Posidippus, of whom nineteen subslaves are identifiable in the columbarium of the Statilii (e.g., CIL L 6.6274), and T. Statilius Chrestus Auctianus, with six. The tomb of the latter and his family has been found nearby (CIL L 6.6209), showing that he had enough status to secure a discrete tomb and to marry a woman from a different gens. Listed in Caldelli and Ricci, Monumentum, 59–66. They include the columbarium of the familia of Livia on Via Appia, the columbaria at Vigna Codini on Via Appia, also built for the imperial familia, the monument of the Statilii Tauri on Via Labicana, and that of the Volusii Saturnini on Via Appia. Also referred to this category are two anonymous complexes, one on Via Aurelia and a smaller on Via Praenestina. PIR R S. 615.Taurus was the only privatus besides Agrippa to hold two consulships, and one of the last to hold a triumph and to raise a manubial building, Rome’s first stone amphitheater. The Statilii Tauri received extraordinary favor under Augustus. They had special permission to keep private soldiers, owned the domus on the Palatine that once belonged to Cicero (Vell. Pat. Hist. Rom. 2.14.3), married into patrician nobility, and produced consuls in every generation.

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their function occurred far earlier.52 Their particular modus operandi was gone already by the 60s, as displayed by the two rooms then added to the Statili monument to house dependents of Statilia Messalina, wife of Nero. These rooms display a different social organization than the older parts, including many outsiders and freeborn. The same tendency is traceable in the columbarium of Livia, showing less coherence to the familia as the first century progressed. The Monumentum Liviae, the first of the series, is quite luxurious, large, and ornate, with its upper stories above ground – it would have been seen, and known. The edifice of the Statilii Tauri created was almost as ambitious in scope, and also had overground visibility, although the upper floors are lost.53 It lay by the present Porta Maggiore where Via Labicana and Via Praenestina diverged, a conspicuous location in the sumptuous Horti Tauriani on the Esquiline, which passed into the ownership of T. Statilius Taurus soon after the accession of Octavian. As in the funerary basilicas, the grandeur of the structures stands in sharp contrast to the humility of the buried, whose inscriptions are brief, uniform, and offer little beyond the names of the deceased. Unlike the buildings, their execution is often shoddy, showing clearly where patronage ended and self-management began.54 The edifices were administered by slave collegia who allotted slots in loculi, usually employed for double burials without any particular attention to family groupings. The creation of these columbaria has been explained by demographic pressure, as a handy means for masters to dispose of a growing body of dependents. Similar arguments are often put forward for the switch to cremation burial in general, as a way to accommodate a growing number of Roman dead on a limited amount of land. There are problems with this view, among them the fact that the practice was abandoned well before the Roman population peaked.55 As for the aristocratic columbaria, a form only 52

53 54

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Bodel, “Columbarium to Catacomb,” 181 n. 9, 196. The form was abandoned before the change from cremation back to inhumation began in the mid-second century. Caldelli and Ricci, Monumentum, 16–20. Caldelli and Ricci, Monumentum, 60–1; so also Purcell, “Tomb and Suburb,” 36. The tombs were either built by those buried, which suggests very generous peculia, or their masters did it for them.Two of the most showy inscriptions in the Statilii columbarium record expenses L 6.6220–1), which, if multiplied by the number of of 1960 and 900 HS, respectively (CIL buried, would not have gone far toward the costs of construction, land, maintenance, urns, inscriptions, cremation, and rites. Columbaria were in use until Hadrian. Bodel, “Columbarium to Catacomb,” 215. Arguing for demographic pressure, Caldelli and Ricci, Monumentum, 66; Bodel, “Columbarium to Catacomb,” 194–5. Both recognize problems, such as the previous invisibility of the social

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employed for forty or so years, it is clearly insufficient. Owners had at least a moral obligation to bury their slaves, but there were options besides providing them with huge stone structures, lavishly ornamented. The majority likely received simple unmarked tombs; the less fortunate were thrown in refuse pits, which seems to have been a common means to dispose of the dead.56 Cremation was expensive, as were the sumptuous monumenta, which had no precedents – the social strata buried in them have no earlier visibility in the funerary landscape. They also soon lost what they had gained; two-thirds of all confirmed slave tombs in Rome are found in an aristocratic columbarium. The desire for a proper burial can be assumed to have been a constant, the decision on the part of the masters to oblige was not, especially in so grand a fashion. The slaves, it should be noted, are not of the influential kind who eventually made up the imperial bureaucracy, but servants and laborers, at best, household managers. They were not in a position to make demands on their owners, whom many of them likely never saw. If population growth provided the background, a considerable degree of patronage is also evident, as well as intentionality.57 This leads to the question of what the patrons stood to gain. I can think of two suggestions, the first to do with the circumstance that the form was invented, it seems, by Livia, whose public role was being constructed at the time. She was broadcast as materfamilias of the empire as a whole, and the monument dedicated to her household has been interpreted as a demonstration of the care and responsibility she showed toward all Romans, seen as part of her extended familia.58 The other is to understand the monument as a means to make manifest the great size of said familia, which was an important factor in elite competition: to display just how many dependents your family controlled, and how well looked after (and thus, how loyal) they were.59 Although novel in many ways, the tomb thus drew on well-established elements of elite competition to support the notion of a “first family.” The overlap between private and public is notable, as is the emphasis on dynastics by casting imperial women,

56 57

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strata involved: the need for a tomb was not met earlier when this was presumably cheaper and easier to do. To quote Purcell, “Tomb and Suburb,” 34: “The truth is a paradox: in the face of the difficulties which multiplied in the disposal of the dead, the Romans dramatically raised their ‘standard of dying.’” On the infamous puticuli,i Kyle, Spectacles, 164–7. As is widely accepted; see, e.g., Caldelli and Ricci, Monumentum, 60–1; Purcell, “Tomb and Suburb,” 36. Patterson, “Patronage,” 234–5, questions whether even “public” columbaria could operate without patronage. Brännstedt, “Princeps Femina.” See also Severy, Augustus and the Family, 140–57, and Hasegawa, Familia Urbana, 17. See Patterson, “Patronage,” 18; Purcell, “Tomb and Suburb,” 38.

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symbols of the continuity of a family, in the role of patronesses.60 The setting in horti is also no coincidence. One by one, these suburban tracts fell into the hands of the Augustan family, and became remodeled as an expression of its cura urbis. The Horti Tauriani, the last of them to remain private, became the pretext for the fall of the Statilii – this was not neutral ground.Their ruin caused a moratorium on burials in their grand monumentum, which was still half empty when discovered.61 The fate of the household tomb of the Statilii Tauri is not dissimilar to that of the Praenestina basilica, discontinued at a time when burials amassed in other buildings of the type, both in catacombs below and in secondary burials in the floor.62 The suggestion has been offered that it housed slaves of the imperial family of Maxentius, and if so, its abandonment may have represented a manner of damnatio memoriae.63 This is not to suggest continuity between the two types of edifices (although the Monumentum Liviae was still in use in the third century), but their many analogous features may help explain the aims behind the funerary basilicas, and the messages they would have conveyed to contemporary audiences.64 They were of similar size and number, and located within a private suburban setting that was undergoing radical changes under imperial supervision, acquiring increasingly public functions. They show the same unequal relation between builder and buried, with the same contrast between humility and high levels of investment. They were closely associated with the imperial family, in particular with imperial women, which comes across as long-standing practice. It would not be surprising to find that the mausoleum associated with the Praenestina basilica, the Tor de’Schiavi, was built for a female member of the Maxentian dynasty, perhaps his wife, Valeria Maximilla, daughter of Galerius.65 Both initiatives occurred during brief 60

61

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Imperial women are prominently featured in the Vigna Codini columbaria, housing dependents of Antonia, Octavia, and in particular Marcella the Younger, although slaves of Augustus and Tiberius are also present. So Tac. Ann. 12.29. Agrippina, desirous of the horti,i urged her husband to fabricate an excuse to prosecute T. Statilius Taurus IV, the last of this line to become consul. For the moratorium, Caldelli and Ricci, Monumentum, 19–20, 56–7. E.g., at the Ardeatina; see Fiocchi Nicolai, “Lo scavo,” 163. Maiuro, “Gordianorum,” 37. Along these lines, Jastrzębowska, “Fondations,” 59, and Nieddu, Basilica, 143–5. Other basilicas also allow for a triumphatory reading: the Labicana foundations include tombstones of the equites singulares (on whose castra the Lateran was built), while the Nomentana stood on the cemetery of the praetorian guard, both corps disbanded by Constantine. The Appia basilica can be seen as a takeover of a Maxentian building and/ or as a counterweight to the villa complex. Spera, “Territorio,” 276–7. Third-century sarcophagi have been found within. She likely died in 312. Because all Tetrarchs have their tombs accounted for, no suggestion has been offered; Maiuro, “Gordianorum,” 37. Tetrarchic imperial women played increasingly

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periods which both saw momentous transformations of power.The purpose in both cases, I would suggest, was to make manifest the power, legitimacy, and continuity of the new imperial family. This message would serve the purposes of both Maxentius, if he invented the form, and Constantine, who certainly, and systematically, employed it. But did he intend it as a message also to the prominence of Christianity, as is usually argued? I am inclined to believe that he did, with certain reservations. Scholars writing about the edifices do not doubt their Christian nature; however, the issue of whether particular Christian burial practices existed has been raised by Rebillard, and in this publication by Denzey.66 The object for both is to counter on one hand the notion that Christians were required to be buried apart from pagans, on the other that the church was obliged to cater to the funerary needs of all Christians. The organizing principle remained the family, and the appearance in the third century of burial areae and catacombs that housed (at least predominantly) Christians was due to voluntary mechanisms, not prohibitions or a perceived desire to make polemical statements about faith.67 As a collective, Christians had no visibility in the funerary landscape of Rome prior to the circiform basilicas; the modest areae commonly associated with Callixtus and Praetextatus were walled, and set at a distance from major roads.68 Moreover, it is not established that these were strictly Christian, and Bodel has argued strongly against the existence of Christian burial grounds before the arrival of Constantine, discounting even the catacombs.69 While I do believe that the catacombs housed mainly Christians, I agree that there was no specifically Christian burial practice that expressed, through its homogeneity and humble social horizon, basic tenets of the Christian faith.70 Nor were Christians required to be buried in any particular place or fashion. This does not exclude that Constantine meant for his funerary

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public roles after 306. This applies especially to Galeria Valeria who was elevated to Augusta. Maxentius based much of his claim to power on family ties. The comparison with the Augustan tombs makes it less plausible that the mausoleum of Helena was originally meant for Constantine, as suggested by Torelli, “Basiliche,” 208; Logan, “Constantine,” 36; and Volpe, “Via Labicana,” 222. Rebillard, Care of the Deadd; Denzey, Chapter 12 in this volume. That they existed is, however, clear, and Rebillard gives several examples, e.g., 8–11, 30–2, while underlining that the choice was private, not dictated by the Church. Spera, “Christianization,” 24–5. Bodel, “Columbarium to Catacomb,” 182, 188–9, 202–6. As argued by Yasin, “Monuments,” esp. 437. As for the catacombs, explicitly Christian imagery is overwhelmingly more numerous than ambiguous or pagan, as shown by the table by Nestori reprinted by Guyon, Cimitière, e 157 (figure 92). The mixed imagery of the Via Latina catacomb remains exceptional.

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basilicas, which neither Rebillard nor Denzey treat, to attract primarily Christians and for the Romans to associate the edifices with Christianity. The mechanisms that determined to whom the grant to be buried in them was extended remain obscure, but inscriptions in most cases identify those interred as Christians through formulas such as in pace. This does not rule out the possibility that pagans were buried in anepigraphic tombs, and it is certainly not clear that the church handled the burials in them at the earliest stage; however, it is obvious from their rational organization that some form of central management existed that did, in contrast to the more haphazard array of family tombs seen in most funerary contexts.71 The fact that the latest two basilicas had explicit associations with martyrs already at the time of construction suggests that this management was defined in Christian terms, and that Romans were to understand at least these two edifices as tied to the new imperial faith. Thus, whether Constantine initially adopted the form for this purpose or not, he and his sons eventually did. I do not argue for exclusivity; for instance, there appears to have been pagan burials in two hypogea attached to two of the mausolea that accrued to the Appia basilica.72 But if these majestic burial facilities were at least perceived as Christian by the population of Rome, and if not even the third-century areae should be considered Christian, this means that the faithful went from invisibility in the funerary landscape to its domination in one stroke.73

Conclusions Regardless of whether the funerary basilicas in Rome became used as churches, it is beyond question that they were also tombs. Raised before churches existed as a concept in the eyes of the Romans, on grounds used for burials for many centuries, it is as tombs they would have been perceived, of dimensions never before seen. More than tombs, they were manifestations of imperial munificence, organized in terms of patronage that had a long history in Roman funerary practices. The main purpose on the part of the patrons was to establish the dynasty and secure central authority, by giving physical form to a relation between the imperial family and the Roman masses that remained key to the legitimacy of their rule.

71

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On the coherent nature of the burials, Fiocchi Nicolai, “Lo scavo,” 92–102; Nieddu, Basilica, e 107, 118; Guyon, Cimitière, 268. Nieddu, Basilica, 362, albeit later than the initial systematization of the tombs. So Spera, “Christianization,” and Fiocchi Nicolai, Strutturee, 49, 58, who comments on the dramatic increase in the visibility of Christians provided by the basilicas.

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As for the form, the domus and the familia were useful models to adopt for Augustus and his family as the foremost symbols of power for the oligarchy that was his opposition. At the turn of the fourth century the emperor was not controversial per se, and the choice of models underline his relation with the masses, in terms that are distinctly monarchic – both the aula and the circus were locations where emperors and the population communicated directly, a bond that was key to the legitimacy of the ruler. The aula strikes me as the better fit with the physical structures, but the circus with its cosmic associations may certainly have been referenced in the plan. This interpretation would apply equally well to Maxentius or Constantine, and does not exclude that the latter also meant for the buildings to promote Christianity. If so, the basilicas were not, I  believe, raised to cater to any pressing need for specifically Christian burial spaces – the Christians were at liberty to bury their dead wherever they pleased – but rather created a demand for them by their very erection, offering a relatively humble social stratum a monumentality in death that went far beyond their prominence in life. The attraction appears to have been the imperial patrons, truly the “extraordinary dead” in these complexes, rather than the martyrs. The main role of these, when present, may have been to benefit the imperial persons, as in the Basilica of the Apostles in Constantinople where the saints form a circle around the body of the emperor in order to facilitate the transfer of his soul to heaven.74 In the Roman structures, the imperial patrons are supported also by the Roman populus, whose participation appears to be the more important of the two. This conflation of Christian worship and divus cult is, I believe, an instance of the peculiar version of Christianity endorsed by Constantine that emphasized the personal role of the emperor, and is perhaps an additional reason, beside the suppression of funerary banquets and the passing of the dynasty, why these structures fell out of use.

Bibliography Armstrong, G.T. “Constantine’s Churches: Symbol and Structure.” JSAH 33 (1974): 5–16. Bodel, J. “From Columbaria to Catacombs:  Collective Burial in Pagan and Christian Rome,” in L. Brink and D. Green, eds., Commemorating the Dead: Texts and Artifacts in Context. Studies in Roman, Jewish, and Christian Burials (Berlin, 2008), 177–242. Brandenburg, H. Roms frühchristlichen Basiliken des 4. Jahrhundert (Munich, 1979). Brännstedt, L. “Princeps Femina.” PhD Diss. Lund University (Lund, 2015).

74

So Brandenburg, Ecclesiae Urbis, discussion p.  1256. The presence of an altar inside the mausoleum of Helena is conspicuous, and suggests that her soul received its own services; Guyon, Ecclesiae Urbis, discussion p. 1257.

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Caldelli, M. and C. Ricci. Monumentum familiae Statiliorum: un riesame (Rome, 1999). Ceccherelli, A. “Mausoleo ‘dei Gordiani’ e adiacente basilica (circ. II).” BullComm 92 (1987–8): 421–7. Conlin, D. et al. “The Villa of Maxentius on the Via Appia: 2005 Excavations.” MAAR 51–2 (2006): 347–60. Dey, H. “Review of A.M. Nieddu, Basilica.” BMCR August 8 (2009). Dinuzzi, S. and C. Pavolini. “L’area compresa fra Tevere, Aniene e Via Nomentana,” in P. Pergola et al., eds., Suburbium (Rome, 2003), 47–95. Fasola, U. and V. Fiocchi Nicolai. “Le necropolis durante la formazione della citta Cristiana,” in Actes du XI’e Congres international d’archeologie chretienne (Lyon,Vienne, Grenoble, Geneve, Aoste 1986) (Vatican City, 1989), 1153–205. Fiocchi Nicolai,V. Strutture funerarie ed edifici di culto paleocristiani di Roma dal IV al VI secolo (Vatican City, 2001). “Basilica Marci, coemeterium Marci, basilica coemeterii Balbinae: A proposito della nuova basilica circiforme della via Ardeatina e della funzione funeraria delle chiese ‘a deambulatorio’ del suburbio romano,” in Ecclesiae Urbis (Vatican City 2002), 1175–201. S. Marci basilica, ecclesia, coemeterium,” in A. La Regina, ed., LTUR Suburbium (Rome, 2006), 25–8. Fiocchi Nicolai,V., M. P. del Moro, D. Nuzzo, and L. Spera. “Lo scavo della nuova basilica circiforme della via Ardeatina.” RendPontAc 68 (1999): 69–233. Frutaz, A. P. Il complesso monumentale di Sant’Agnese (Rome 1969–2001). Geertman, H. “La basilica maior di San Lorenzo F.L.M.,” in Ecclesiae Urbis (Vatican City 2002), 1225–47. Giuliani, R. “Catacumbas coemeterium,” in A. La Regina, ed., LTUR Suburbium (Rome, 2004), 82–93. Guarducci, M. The Tomb of St. Peter: New Discoveries in the Sacred Grottoes of the Vatican (London, 1960). Guyon, J. Le cimitière aux deux lauriers:  Recherches sur les catacombs romaines (Vatican City, 1987). “À l’origine de la redécouverte et de l’interprétation du monument de la Via Labicana: l’iconographie de la basilique cémétériale des saints Marcellin-et-Pierre,” in Ecclesiae Urbis (Vatican City, 2002), 1157–73. “SS. Marcellini et Pietri basilica,” in A. La Regina, ed., LTUR Suburbium (Rome, 2006): 19–25. Hasegawa, K. The Familia Urbana during the Early Empire: A Study of Columbaria Inscriptions, BAR international series 1440 (London, 2005). Jastrzębowska, E. “Les fondations constantiniennes à Rome.” ArcheologiaWar 44 (1993): 59–68. “S. Sebastiano, la più antica basilica cristiana di Roma,” in Ecclesiae Urbis (Vatican City, 2002), 1141–55. Kammerer-Grothaus H. “Camere sepolcrali de’ liberti e liberte di Livia Augusta ed altri Caesari.” MEFRA 91 (1979): 315–42. Krautheimer, R. “Mensa – Coemeterium – Martyrium.” CahArch 11 (1960): 15–40. Krautheimer, R., W. Frankl, and S. Corbett. Corpus Basilicarum Christianarum Romae (Vatican City, 1937–77). Kyle, D. G. Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome (New York, 1998).

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La Rocca, E. “Le basiliche cristiane ‘a deambulatorio’ e la sopravvivenza del culto eroico,” in Ecclesiae Urbis (Vatican City, 2002), 1109–40. Logan, A. “Constantine, the Liber Pontificalis and the Christian Basilicas of Rome.” Studia Patristica 50 (2011): 31–53. Mackie, G. “A New Look at the Patronage of Santa Costanza, Rome.” Byzantion 67 (1997): 383–406. Maiuro, M.“Gordianorum villa,” in A. La Regina, ed., LTUR Suburbium (Rome, 2005), 31–9. Maiuro, M., P. Pisano Sartorio, and F. Rausa. “Triopion,” in V. Fiocchi Nicolai, M. Grazia, G. Cedere, and Z. Mari, eds., LTUR Suburbium (Rome, 2008), 189–201. Marucchi, O. Di una iscrizione storica che puo attribuirsi alla Basilica Apostolorum sulla via Appia (Rome, 1922). Morin, L. “La basilique circiforme et ses antecedents.” EMC 34 (1990): 263–77. Nieddu, A. M. “S Sebastiano, ecclesia,” in V. Fiocchi Nicolai, M. Grazia, G. Cedere, and Z. Mari, eds., LTUR Suburbium (Rome, 2008), 51–7. La Basilica Apostolorum sulla via Appia e l’area cimiteriale circostante. Monumenti di antichita Cristiana II.19 (Vatican City, 2009). Patterson, J. “Patronage, Collegia and Burial in Imperial Rome,” in S. Bassett, ed. Death in Towns: Urban Responses to the Dying and the Dead, 100–1600 (Leicester, 1992), 15–27. Pavolini, C. “La basilica constantiniana di S. Agnese. I risultati delle indagini e dei restauri per il giubileo del 2000,” in Ecclesiae Urbis (Vatican City, 2002), 1203–24. Pergola, P., R. Santangeli Valenziani, and R.Volpe, eds. Suburbium: il suburbio di Roma dalla crisi del sistema delle ville a Gregorio Magno (Rome, 2003). Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana. Ecclesiae Urbis. Atti del Congresso Internazionale di Studi sulle chiese di Roma (IV-X secolo). (Vatican City, 2002). Purcell, N. “Tomb and Suburb,” in H. von Hesberg, P. Zanker, eds., Römische Gräberstraßen : Selbstdarstellung, Status, Standard. Kolloquium in München vom 28. bis 30. Oktober 1985 (Munich, 1987), 25–41. Rasch, J. J. Das Mausoleum bei Tor de’Schiavi in Rom (Mainz am Rhein, 1993). Das Mausoleum der Kaiserin Helena in Rom und der ‘Tempio della Tosse’ in Tivoli (Mainz, 1998). Rebillard, E. The Care of the Dead in Late Antiquity (Ithaca, 2009). Salzman, M. “Leo’s Liturgical Topography:  Contestations for Space in Fifth-century Rome.” JRS 103 (2013): 208–32. Serra, S. “S. Laurentii basilica, balneum, praetorium, monasterium, hospitia, bibliothecae,” in A. La Regina, eds. LTUR Suburbium (Rome, 2006), 203–11. Severy, B. Augustus and the Family at the Birth of the Roman Empire (New  York, London, 2003). Spera, L. “Il territorio della via Appia,” in P. Pergola et  al., eds., Suburbium (Rome, 2003): 267–330. “The Christianization of Space along the via Appia:  Changing Landscape in the Suburbs of Rome.” AJA 107, no. 1 (2003): 23–43. Stanley, D. J. “New Discoveries s at Santa Costanza.” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 48 (1994): 257–61. Taliaferro Boatwright, M. et al. I Volusii Saturnini: una famiglia romana della prima eta imperiale (Bari, 1982). Tolotti, F. Memorie degli apostoli in catacumbas (Vatican City, 1953).

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“Le basiliche cimiteriali con deambulatorio del suburbia romano: Questione ancora aperta.” RM 89 (1982): 153–211. Torelli, M. “Le basiliche circiformi di Roma:  iconografia, funzione, simbolo,” in G. Sena Chiesa and A. Arslan, eds., Felix tempori reparatio: Atti del Convegno Archeologico Internazionale “Milano capitale dell’impero romano,” Milano, 8–11 aprile 1990 (Milan, 1992), 203–17. “Le basiliche circiformi: iconografia e forme mentali,” in Ecclesiae Urbis (Vatican City, 2002, 1097–108. Treggiari, S. “Family Life among the Staff of the Volusii.” TAPA 105 (1975): 393–401. Volpe, R. “Via Labicana,” in P. Pergola et al., eds., Suburbium (Rome, 2003), 211–39. Yasin, A. M. “Funerary Monuments and Collective Identity:  From Roman Family to Christian Community.” ArtB 87, no. 3 (2005): 433–57.

14

ROMANAE GLORIA PLEBIS : DAMASUS AND THE ROMANIZATION OF CHRISTIANITY Marianne   Sághy

Bishop Damasus of Rome (366–384) was called many names by many people,1 but nobody tagged him a “Romanizer” despite his zeal in promoting both Christianity and the myth of Rome. The Liber pontificalis dubbed him a Hispanic,2 and historians explored this path3 along with Damasus’ possible or symbolic associations with another great Spaniard of the time, Emperor Theodosius.4 Only recently did scholars turn to evaluating the bishop’s achievement in a Roman context.5 Damasus’ struggles and programs – from primatus Petri to cultus martyrum – are indeed best explained as a creative recycling of Romanitas. In competition with passing time, with clerical and aristocratic rivals, the bishop sought to anchor his Church and his authority in distinctly Roman ‘national’ traditions. Damasus’ exploitation of Rome’s non-Christian cultural capital in his epigrams exalting the martyrs6 was far from being an unthinking interpretatio christiana. The bishop adopted the aura of eternity7 derived from classical 1

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“Ear-tickler of the ladies” (auriscalpius matronarum) by the Ursinian party pamphlet Quae gesta sunt, in:  Collectio Avellana, I, 4; “bishop extraordinaire” (egregius archiepiscopus) by the Luciferian party petition Libellus precum, XXII, 79, Canellis ed. 183; keeper of apostolic faith (in tali volumus religione versari, quam divinum Petrum apostolum tradidisse Romanis religio usque ad nunc ab ipso insinuata declarat quamque pontificem Damasum sequi claret) by the imperial edict Cunctos populos, in: Codex Theodosianus XVI. 1. 2. Liber Pontificalis 38: Damasus natione Hispanus. Marucchi, Il Pontificato di Papa Damaso e la storia della sua famiglia. Pietri; “Damase et Théodose. Communion orthodoxe et géographie politique.” Pietri, Roma Christiana I, 271–872; Lafferty, „Translating Faith from Greek to Latin: Romanitas and Christianitas in Late Fourth-Century Rome and Milan”; Sághy, “Martyr Bishops and the Bishop’s Martyrs in Fourth-Century Rome”; McLynn, „Damasus of Rome: e 241–258. A fourth-century pope in context”; Brown, Through the Eye of a Needle, Epigrammata damasiana, Ferrua ed. Cf. Juvencus’ Praefatio 11–12: gloria vatum, quae manet aeternae similis, dum saecla volabunt. t See Green, Latin Epics of the New Testament, 15–16. t

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poetry to express the eternal glory of the Christian martyrs. His recourse to Roman models, however, stood for a sophisticated and subversive referencing of the past of the Vrbs that preserved as well as transcended Roman traditions.8 This paper proposes to examine Damasus’ carmina in the context of the late antique cultural revolution set into motion by Christian intellectuals. It focuses on a single but salient aspect of the Romanization of the martyrs by Damasus: their naturalization as Roman citizens. Concomitantly, the bishop literally tied the martyrs to the soil of Rome, thus inaugurating the catacombs as the distinctly Roman headquarters of the cult of the saints. The appropriation of the voice of Vergil in celebrating Christian heroes was Damasus’ “Ich bin ein Roman”-speech to his clergy, his flock and to the pilgrims, broadcasting in stereo that Roma aeterna was the Holy City of Christendom.

I. Christians and Classics Damasus’ poetry constitutes a unique chapter in the history of Christian epigraphy. The bishop commemorated the martyrs in heroic hexameters carved with exquisite letters on marble plaques displayed in all over the catacombs of Rome. As a result of Damasus’ multi-media enterprise involving archaeological research, architectural renovation and artistic decoration, the Christian martyrs got to be exalted like classical heroes. Scholarship focused mostly on the historical, liturgical, and archaeological meaning of Damasus’ reform of the cult of the martyrs: less attention was paid to the significance of the bishop’s choice of poetic models and the cultural revolution that it triggered. Citations from ancient authors in Damasus were identified only to throw into relief the modest inspiration of the bishop of Rome. In contrast with Jerome, who lauded Damasus’ “elegant talent”,9 modern interpreters frowned at the bishop’s versification: “Damasus’ epigrams are empty of history, they are obscure, and contain scarcely anything but commonplaces.”10

8

9

10

Sághy,. “Fido recubans sub tegmine Christii:  Rewriting as Orthodoxy in the Epigrammata Damasiana.” Hier. De vir. inll. 103: Damasus, Romanae urbis episcopus, elegans in versibus componendis ingenium habuit multaque et brevia opuscula heroico metro edidit. t Duchesne, Histoire ancienne de l’Églisee II, 482–483, English translation by Curran, Pagan City and Christian Capital, 148. l

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Dom Duchesne’s verdict gave the tone of Damasian studies for a century to come. Antonio Ferrua, the last editor of the carmina damasiana applied an even stricter censure: “Nobody who has read his verse will think that Damasus was a poet. His epigrams hardly make any sense, say little, rip off classical authors, distort facts, repeat the same thing endlessly (...) and frequently commit faults with quantities.”11

Damasus’ poetic reminiscences to Roman poets were seen as an imitation of unattainable models: “Damasus is essentially an imitator; consequently when he relies upon the promptings of his own genius, his work lacks savor. But whatever his deficiencies as a poet, Damasus gives evidence of the possession of no snail amount of scholarship. Indeed, the very lack of originality which we deplore in him, caused him to lean heavily on previous writers. He was content to walk in the path defined by his predecessors.”12

It was even questioned whether the catacombs were “a proper echo chamber for Vergil.”13 The overall negative evaluation of Damasus’ poetry in scholarship obscured the fact that he was the first Christian epigrammatist,14 the first bishop to compose hexameters in Latin public poetry, the first to recite the martyrs’ stories in Vergilian language,15 and the first to combine poetic and visual experience in a comprehensive classical high style. This prevailing scholarly attitude also obscured the extent to which Damasus’ inscriptions stand out in the Christian epigraphic habit and dissent from traditional epigraphic production.16 The Damasian carmina are as different from early Christian inscriptions as can be. They transcend the poignant simplicity of the famous Petros eni inscription, the uncertain grammar and hesitant spelling of Greek and Latin catacomb graffitis. Not simply more stylish, but also 11

12 13 14 15

16

Ferrua, Epigrammata Damasiana, 12: Damasum vere poetam fuisse nemo contendet qui eius carmina legerit: sunt enim perobscura, locutiones paucas, praesertim in antiquis expilatas, ad omnem rem torquent, eadem in nauseam repetunt, et quo plura congerunt verba eo pauciores sententias aperiunt, nisi fortasse condunt, sententiarum aculeis, orationes vi et acrimonia perpetuo destituta, ut metricas maculas nec paucas nec leves praeteream. Cadwallader Coffin, Vergil in the Christian Writers, 45. Watson, The Epigrams, X. Bernt, Das lateinische Epigramm im Übergang von der Spätantike zum frühen Mittelalter, 127. r The negative attitude may explain the absence of the Damasian carmina from Early Christian Poetry edited by den Boeft and Hilhorst and from Romane Memento:  Vergil in the Fourth Century edited by Rees. Galvao-Sobrinho, “Funerary Epigraphy and the Spread of Christianity in the West.”

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more informative, not only more ‘élite,’ the epigrammata damasiana are also more professional. Reflecting the concerns and interests of a collegiate body, the clergy of Rome, Damasus’ classicizing verse was set “to build up the strength of [a] profession.”17 Onto Roman family pietas, Damasus grafted a clerical family that included biological relatives as well as a larger, artificial familia composed by the Roman Church’s “fathers in the faith.” Riding the crest of relic veneration, the bishop’s ’post-it’-hagiographies placed at strategic places in the catacombs were the first to redefine and regulate the cult of the saints and the first to draw it under episcopal control. In all these matters, Damasus, the ‘starchitect’ of the catacombs seems to have been an innovator, rather than a conservator. “Is it helpful to study either the late Roman aristocracy or late Latin literature in terms of Christian versus pagan?”18 Damasus would probably answer Alan Cameron’s question in the negative. The bishop’s poetry seems to affirm that it is not particularly helpful to study Christian literature either in these terms. Perhaps it is similarly unnecessary to link Vergilian references to high social status.19 Vergil is appropriated by Damasus neither as a pagan religious icon nor as a cultural status-marker, but as the summus poeta of Rome, whose work was widely popular not only with upper crust pagans and middle-class intellectuals, but also with the Roman clergy. As Jerome knew all too well, Catholic priests loved “their”Vergil: “We see even priests of God slighting the Gospels and the prophets, reading comedies, reciting love passages from bucolic verse, cherishing Vergil.”20

Jerome vehemently attacked those Christians who tried to accommodate Classical authors and brought out in a series of dramatic images the contrast between pagan and Christian texts, between pagan and Christian identities:

17 18 19

20

Brown, Through the Eye of a Needle, 256. e Cameron, The Last Pagans of Rome, 358: e For the association of Vergilian culture and high social status, see Trout, “Damasus and the Invention of Early Christian Rome,” 521; Littlechilds, “The epitaphs of Damasus and the transferable value of persecution for the Christian community at Rome in the fourth-century AD.”, 18; Hunt, “Ibi et cor tuum” (Jer. Ep.  22. 30):  Roman Christian Topography and Statements of Christian Identity in Jerome.” Hier. Letter 21, 13: At nunc etiam sacerdotes Dei omissis euangeliis et propthetis uidimus comoedias legere, amatoria bucolicorum uersuum uerba cantare, tenere Vergilium, et id quod in pueris necessitates est crimen se facere uoluntatis. Cauendum igitur ne captiuam habere uelimus uxorem, ne in idolio recumbamus; aut, si certe fuerimus eius amore decepti, mundemus eam et omni sordium horrore purgemus, ne scandalum patiatur frater pro quo Christus est mortuus, cum ex uoce Christiani carmina in idolorum laudes conposita audierit personare. English translation: Mierow – Comerford Lawler, The Letters of Saint Jerome, 94–96. e

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“Asked who and what I  was I  replied:  I  am a Christian. But He who presided said: You lie! You are a follower of Cicero and not of Christ. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”21

Consequently, Jerome went as far as to prohibit the reading of pagan writers: “Do not seek to appear over-eloquent, nor trifle with verse, nor make yourself gay with lyric songs (...) For what communion has light with darkness? And what concord has Christ with Belial? How can Horace go with the psalter, Vergil with the gospels, Cicero with the apostle? ... We ought not to drink the cup of Christ and, at the same time, the cup of devils.”22

Damasus did take up the problem whether Christians should be caught reading the Classics. Opposing the “lying fables” of the pagans with the salvific text of the Scriptures, the bishop of Rome voiced the same opinion as Jerome in a non-epigraphic poem addressed in reproof to a deacon: Tityrus, reclining under the safe cover of Christ, You chant the Divine Scriptures with consecrated lips. No lying fables do you study with futile zeal. For by the former the glory of blissful life is won; And the latter will be followed by endlessly enduring pains. Therefore, brother, do not be a slave to pointless concerns, So that the depths of hideous hell may not engulf your poor soul. But remember instead to breathe in your soul the Holy Scriptures, Which fill the heart with pure nourishment. May the grace of the Lord keep you safe forever.23 21

22

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Hier. Ep. 22, 30:  Interrogatus de conditione, Christianum me esse respondi.Et ille qui praesidebat: Mentiris, ait, Ciceronianus es, non Christianus: ubi enim thesaurus tuus, ibi et cor tuum. See Hunt, “Ibi et cor tuum” (Jer. Ep. 22. 30): Roman Christian Topography and Statements of Christian Identity in Jerome.” Hier. Ep. 22, 29:  Quae enim communicatio lucis ad tenebras? Qui consensus Christi cum Belial? Quid facit cum Psalterio Horatius? Cum Evangelista Maro? Cum Apostolo Cicero?... Simul non bibere debemus calicem Christi et calicem daemoniorum. Tityre, tu fido recubans sub tegmine Christi divinos apices sacro modularis in ore; non falsas fabulas studio meditaris inani. Illis nam capitur felicis gloria vitae, istis succedent poenae sine fine perennes. Unde cave, frater, vanis te subdere curis, inferni rapiant miserum ne tartara taetri; quin potius sacras animo spirare memento scripturas, dapibus sapiant quae pectora castis. Te Domini salvum conservet gratia semper.

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Paradoxically, the demonization of traditional literature was not meant to construct a demarcation line between pagan and Christian texts and audiences. After all, both Jerome and Damasus practiced a positive attitude towards the classical authors whose consummate users they remained.24 The problem of the Classics was not a matter of debate with pagans, but an internal problem among Christians. Anti-classics slogans were mandatory in inter-Christian dialogues and signaled an ascetic agenda. Rather than a wholesale Christian denunciation of pagan literature, Jerome’s and Damasus’ more drastic declarations constituted an ascetic manifesto that separated the (mostly clerical) “friends of God” following the path of Christian perfection from the mass of ordinary (mostly lay) Christians engaged in Vergil’s Christianization.25 It is worth noting that anti-classics declarations were particularly articulate and clamorous in Damasian Rome. Jerome produced his most memorable reprimands against pagan authors in Rome: having left the Vrbs, he dropped the issue.26 In contrast with Damasus, Latin bishops such as Ambrose or Augustine did not bother with the problem of Christians reading pagan authors.27 Sallies at traditional literature, however, not only expressed a special Christian commitment, but also promoted special ways of reading texts.28

II. Making the Martyrs Roman A hero from a foreign country suffers many a hardship, wins glorious victories and founds a new city. Who is he? In fourth-century Rome, Aeneas was not the only correct answer to this question. The Apostle Peter was just as good a response, along with countless Christians who suffered martrydom in the Vrbs and came to be commemorated in Damasus’ epigrams. These verse incriptions transformed persons persecuted, tortured, and ultimately killed by Roman authorities into heroes on a par with Aeneas. Vergil had long been part of Rome’s funerary landscape: now, as he became associated with the Christian commemoration of the dead, he operated a much larger cultural transfer. In Dennis Trout’s words, Damasus 24 25

26 27

28

Banniard, M. „Jérôme et l’elegantia d’après le De optimo genere interpretandi.” i The best known examples are the epics of Juvencus and Proba, see Matthews, “The Poetess Proba and Fourth Century Rome:  Questions of Interpretation”; Green, Latin Epics of the New Testament; Pollmann, “The Transformation of the Epic Genre in Christian Late Antiquity”; Sandnes, The Challenge of Homer: School, Pagan Poets and Early Christianity. Adkin, “Jerome s Vow Never to Reread the Classics: Some Observations.” Jerome accused Ambrose of plagiarism: Layton, „Plagiarism and Lay Patronage of Ascetic Scholarship: Jerome, Ambrose and Rufinus.” Augustine referenced Virgil throughout his life without the qualms of a Jerome or Damasus: MacCormack, The Shadows of Poetry. Vergil in the Mind of Augustine. e Warner, The Augustinian Epic, Petrarch to Milton, esp. chapter 2.

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“dressed a peripheral early Christian subculture in the (...) language of classical poetry.”29

Damasus integrated cosmopolitan Christian Globe-trotters into the heritage of Roman glory. The bishop not only subverted Rome’s national epic, but also enriched it with a new reading. Polytheist commentators exploited the Aeneid for greater meanings, deep allegorical and philosophical revelations,30 while Christian poets read Aeneas’ story allegorically as if telling about the spiritual journey of the soul to God through the conquest of earthly passions or about the active versus contemplative life.31 Damasus did not read the Aeneid allegorically: he was literally interested to associate the martyrs with the founder of Rome.32 Applying consistently the comparison between Aeneas and the Christians coming from the East, Damasus sought to allude to the foundation of a new city: not only the City of God, but also a new, Christian Rome. Vergil donned the immaculate toga of Romanitas onto legal aliens who, in turn, acted as mediators and heavenly patrons for Rome. Damasus’ work demonstrated that it was possible to blend the ‘national culture’ of Rome to Christianity, as well as the vitality, resilience and strength that this culture derived from reinterpretation.

III. The Home(s) of the Brave Ultimate followers of Christ, the martyrs shared in Jesus’ victory over death. As a reward, they got a passport to Heaven and a seat on Christ’s right hand. Martyrdom was a radical choice between this world and the world to come, and the martyrs expressed unambiguously which one they wanted to belong. Patria nostra in caelis est, ciues angeli:33 „the friends of God” sought to become angelic citizens of Heaven. The martyrs’ death was the peak point of their break with family and city and signaled their birth to Heaven. Martyrdom was not an opportunity to acquire earthly citizenship, but to spectacularly lose it.34 29 30

31

32

33 34

Trout, “Damasus and the Invention of Early Christian Rome,” 531. Courcelle, Lecteurs païens et lecteurs chrétiens de L’Énéide. For examples of non-Christian allegorical readings, see also MacKay, “Three levels of meaning in Aeneid VI” and Jones, “Allegorical Interpretation in Servius.” Green, R. P. H. Latin Epics of the New Testament, t 49; The Golden Bough,The Oaken Cross: The Virgilian Cento of Faltonia Belitia Proba; for Christian allegorical readings see Courcelle, Lecteurs païens et lecteurs chrétiens de L’Énéidee and Warner, The Augustinian Epic, Petrarch to Milton. It is an interesting question concerns the allegorical reading of the epigrammata damasiana, of which we lack late antique evidence. A possible allegorical interpretation of the carmina would be the fight of the Christian soul with Satan. Aug. Serm. 378. Fux, „Les patries des martyrs. Doctrine et métaphores chez les poètes Damase, Ambroise, Paulin de Nola et Prudence,” 366:  “A priorii, le martyre ne constitue pas l’occasion de l’acquisition d’une multiplicité de ’patries’.”

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In practice, however, it was just the other way round. Martyrs came to be less known for their birthplaces than for their „deathplaces,” because immediately on their passing away, they were promoted to the status of patron saints of the cities where they died.Their graves were seen as meeting points of heaven and earth. Tomb and heaven were closely connected: the martyr acted as a mediator between „his” or „her” new urban community (in which s/he was, more often than not, a total stranger) and God. In three epigrams, Damasus, quite uniquely, emphasized that by shedding their blood in Rome, the martyrs acquired Roman citizenship. In so doing, he linked the martyrs to Rome and Rome to the martyrs. Emphasizing that Rome „deserved more” (potius meruit) than any other city the glory of the Apostles Peter and Paul, Saturninus of Carthage and the Greek Hermes, Damasus not only evoked Roman attitudes about past grandeur, but voiced his stance in the political and ecclesiastical polemics of the day. As bishop of Rome, he defended and propagated the primacy of Rome as mother city of the Empire. As the home countries of the martyrs had a powerful symbolic ring in Roman tradition, Damasus could allude to the rivalry between Rome and Constantinople, Rome and Carthage, Rome and Greece. The Vergilian astral apotheosis of Peter and Paul  – „following Christ across the stars”35  – is sandwiched between references to the country of origin of the apostles and to their blood-purchased citizenship. The apostles came from the East, but dying in Rome, they became Romans:36 Here you should know that the saints dwelt at one time You who seek the names of both Peter and Paul. We freely acknowledge that the East sent them as disciples For Christ’s sake and the merit of his blood They followed Him across the stars And sought heavenly regions, kingdom of pious souls Rome has merited to claim them as citizens. Damasus wished to proclaim these things, O new stars, to your praise. 37 35 36

37

Brändle, “Petrus und Paulus als nova sidera.” A lesson not lost on his successors: Benedict XVI’s Homily on the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, June 29, 2008 expresses the same idea:  “...Peter and Paul are together founders of the new Christian Rome... because of their martyrdom they are now part of Rome... through their faith and their love, the two Apostles indicate where true hope lies and they are founders of a new type of city, which must always form itself anew in the human city.” Epigram 20 (English translation by A. S. Barnes, O’Connor). Hic habitasse prius sanctos cognoscere debes, nomina quisque Petri pariter Paulique requiris. Discipulos Oriens misit, quod sponte fatemur;

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Recent scholarship has reassessed the importance of martyrdom in constructions of late ancient Christian identity. Representations of suffering in the acta martyrum and in late antique martyr poetry have been interpreted as suggesting that „being a Christian was to suffer.”38 In the epigram dedicated to the memoria apostolorum on the Via Appia, Damasus remarkably omits all reference to the suffering of the apostles – probably also because they did not suffer martyrdom at this very spot –, and evokes instead the community to which the apostles belong to. As opposed to a “social memory of suffering,”39 Damasus’ martyr epigrams activate Roman civic conscience, grafting a new Christian identity onto it. “Social memory is essentially compatible with early Christian (...) conceptualization of the past,”40 but in exceptional cases, such as Damasus’ epigraphical program of commemorating martyrs, collective memory must not necessarily be a memory of suffering: it can equally be a memory of shared civic and urban responsibility. In this context, it is particularly meaningful that Damasus presents Romanness as the ‘antechamber of heaven.’ The bishop emphasizes the theme of “purchasing Roman citizenship” at the price of martyrdom even more forcefully in the epigram dedicated to Saturninus of Carthage. Subverting ordinary ideas about the regular process of acquiring a new citizenship, Damasus declares that martyrdom makes the Roman: Citizen now of Christ, formerly of Carthage, The moment the sword pierced the Mother’s holy breast, through her blood he changed country, name and lineage, the birth to the life of the saints made him a Roman citizen...41

Saturninus, the stranger, did not live in Rome, but died as Romans do. Tortured in Carthage, Saturninus was exiled to Rome, where he was beheaded. His virtus, however, converted the tyrant Gratian to the faith: the Carthaginian became a role model for a Roman high official. sanguinis ob meritum Christumque per astra secuti aetherios petiere sinus regnaque piorum: Roma suos potius meruit defendere cives. Haec Damasus vestras referat nova sidera laudes. 38 39 40 41

Perkins, The Suffering Self: Pain and Narrative Representation in the Early Christian Era, 200. Castelli, E.A. Martyrdom and memory: early Christian culture making, 5. g Ibid. Epigram 46: (English translation by W. L. Watson) Incola nunc Christi, fuerat Carthaginis ante. Tempore quo gladius secuit pia viscera Matris, sanguine mutavit patriam, vitamque, genusque Romanum civem sanctorum fecit origo.

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The Greek Hermes also became a Roman through martyrdom. Damasus assures his community that a fellow citizen is serving now the altar of Christ in heaven: A long time ago, the story says, Greece sent you here. By your blood, you changed countries; And love of the Law made you our fellow citizen and brother. Having suffered for the Holy Name, You are now a dweller in the Lord and keep the altar of Christ..42

The idea that strangers could stand for Rome in Heaven pretty much obliterated any claim of rootedness, family ancestry, even ancestry of office in Rome. The martyrs spent little time in Rome, they contributed next to nothing to the life of the urban community, they were hardly known even by Christians or Church officials when alive,43 but by their heroic death, as if overnight, they assumed the responsibility for each and every member of the largest metropolis in the Roman world. Damasus operated a cultural transfer between Roman patriotism and Christian citizenship, but, yet again, with several subversive twists: according to the testimony of his epigrams, being Roman is not a lifetime experience; Roman citizenship does not require long years of waiting, but is obtainable on an instant; the best advocates of the Roman congregation and indeed of Vrbs Roma before God are not long-serving, well-rooted, white-togaed officials but persecuted, tortured, mass-massacred legal aliens.

III. From Terror to Glory The underground cemeteries of Rome today seem such an obvious site of martyr veneration that we tend to forget: the catacombs were pretty unlikely places to start a revolution in martyr veneration after the Constantinian turn. After 312, emperors and bishops alike displayed a great deal of creativity in 42

Epigram 48: (English translation by W. L. Watson) Iam dudum, quod fama refert, te Graecia misit. Sanguine mutasti patriam, civemque fratremque fecit amor legis. Sancto pro nomine passus, incola nunc Domini, servas qui altaria Christi.

43

It is important to note in this context that Damasus does not throw into relief Saint Peter’s tenure as a bishop of Rome! In contrast with the Liberian catalogue that credits Saint Peter twenty-five years of episcopal service in Rome, Damasus is surprisingly reticent on this point, see Sághy, “Martyr Bishops and the Bishop’s Martyrs in Fourth-Century Rome.” In: Saintly Bishops and Bishops’ Saints,” 17 and 23.

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enhancing the praesentia of the martyrs above ground in the cities of the Roman Empire by constructing basilicas, translating relics into town, revising earlier cults.44 Throughout the Roman Empire, the trend was to move the holy relics out from extra muros into town – or to home. We are so used to see the catacombs as “the great halls of fame” of Christian Rome45 that we tend to forget that the maze of underground tombs, whatever their usage and property rights before Constantine,46 evoked, above all, the topography of terror for Christians. They were terrifying places because they reminded the faithful of the works of the Evil One:  persecutions, pogroms, torture, mass killings. This is the sense that is conveyed by Jerome’s description of the catacombs: “When I was a boy, receiving my education in Rome, I and my schoolfellows used, on Sundays, to make the circuit of the sepulchers of the apostles and martyrs. Many a time did we go down into the catacombs. These are excavated deep in the earth, and contain, on either hand as you enter, the bodies of the dead buried in the wall. It is all so dark there that the language of the prophet seems to be fulfilled, ‘Let them go down quick into hell.’ Only occasionally is light let in to mitigate the horror of the gloom, and then not so much through a window as through a hole.You take each step with caution, as, surrounded by deep night, you recall the words of Vergil: “Horror ubique animos, simul ipsa silentia terrent.”47

The catacombs were like Hell, because they evoked the destruction of thousands of people instigated by Satan. It was Damasus who transformed the topography of terror into a topography of glory. Inaugurating formerly anyonymous tombs as richly decorated shrines, consecrating formerly family graves with an altar and praising the martyrs in Vergil’s diction, the bishop gave a new language to the martyr cult and a new understanding of Rome’s underground culture: “One of the first to describe this new understanding of the environment systematically was Pope Damasus. His epitaphs of the Roman martyrs not 44

45 46 47

Translationes and commerce in relics were popular in the East:  Clark, “Claims on the Bones of Saint Stephen: The Partisans of Melania and Eudocia,”; Holum- Vikan, “The Trier Ivory, Adventus Ceremonial and the Relics of Saint Stephen,”; Woods, “The Date of the Translation of the Relics of SS. Luke and Andrew to Constantinople”. In Italy, martyrs were transferred from Lodi to Milan: Paulinus of Nola, Carmen 19, 322–327, and several martyrs were brought to Rome from Pannonia: Saint Anastasia, Saint Quirinus, the Four Crowned Saints, see Guyon, “Les Quatre Couronnés et l’histoire de leur culte des origines à la fin du IXe siècle”. Richly evoked by Trout, “Damasus and the Invention of Early Christian Rome.” Rebillard, Religion et sépulture. L’Église, les vivants et les morts dans l’Antiquité tardive. Hier. In Ezech. XL.

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only designated specific places as holy, but also guided the devout visitor through Rome. And they informed the visitor of the city’s Christian topography that had been superimposed on the sacred topography of Republic and Empire.”48

Damasus also extended the religious prescription concerning the inviolability of the tomb into new directions. The martyrs were tied to the tombs because they rested there. Instead of transferring their relics to intramural churches, Damasus designated the catacombs as the headquarters of martyr cult. The bishop observed Roman law prohibiting the disturbance of the eternal peace of the dead: I was afraid of disturbing the holy ashes of the saints.49

Violating the sanctity of the grave was not only a Roman, but a universally accepted norm. But, as Rebecca Leigh Littlechilds notes, “the martyrs stayed in situ because they had to legally, but also because (...) the Christian notion of the sanctity of ad limina ground tied closely and inseparably to traditional Roman ideas of topographical ‘loading.’”50

It was important to Damasus to ‘load’ the very sites where the martyrs died. He respected the intangibility of the tomb, but also sought to localize the veneration of the holy dead “on the spot.” This locative approach to tomb, relic and story was typically Roman.51 Emphasizing the sacred character (sacrum) of the tomb, Damasus condemned the “savage frenzy” of the violators of the grave: Weep for your sins, cruel nation: your furies have vanished. The glory in this temple has been enhanced because of your outrages.52

Attacks against Christian martyr tombs occurred under Julian the Apostate:  the “vanished furies” in the epigram dedicated to Chrysanthus and Daria are a cover name for “paganism.” Closely linked to the inviolability of the grave and the ‘locative sanctity’ of the tomb is Damasus’ refusal to engage the Roman Church in the relic trade. Corporeal cults, without the removal or disturbance of relics, will be the rule observed by the Church of Rome for centuries to come. No form 48 49 50

51 52

MacCormack,“Loca Sancta: The Organization of Sacred Topography in Late Antiquity”, 19. Epigram 16: cineres timui sanctos vexare piorum. Littlechilds, R. L. “The epitaphs of Damasus and the transferable value of persecution for the Christian community at Rome in the fourth-century AD.”, 20. Well brought out by Littlechilds, ibid, 21–23. Epigram 45: Plange tuum, gens saeva, nefas; periere furores/ crevit in his templis per tua damna decus. All English translations of Damasus’ epigrams are taken from Watson, 1958.

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of ‘sacred archaeology’ was allowed in the catacombs: no body parts of the saints were supposed to leave Rome. Leaving the dead undisturbed was an ancient Roman religious observance. Creating a physical link with the martyrs’ body, Damasus linked directly his congregation to the Church of the martyrs and put the Roman suburbia onto the Christian map of the city.53 The bodies of the martyrs surrounded the Vrbs with a sacred ring, forming a wall of sanctity around Rome. Damasus’ epigrams witness to a remarkable Christian engagement with Romanitas, but also imply a critique of its most hollowed elements. This is how Damasus achieved the apotheosis of Vrbs Roma in a heavily loaded Christian context.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Basil the Great, “To Young Men, On How They Might Derive Profit From Pagan Literature.” In: Saint Basil’s Letters (Cambridge, M. A., 1970) Davis, R. The Book of Pontiffs (Liverpool, 2000) Epigrammata damasiana Ferrua, A. ed. (Vatican City, 1942) Carmina Latina epigraphica Bücheler, F., Lommatzsch, E. eds. (Leipzig, 1895 – Stuttgart, 1982) Quae gesta sunt interLiberium et Felicem episcopos In:  Collectio Avellana. Günther, O. ed. (Vienna, 1895) I, 1–4. Watson, W. L. “The Epigrams of St. Damasus. A Translation and Commentary.” (unpublished M.A. thesis, University of Texas, Austin, 1958). Faustin et Marcellin, Supplique aux empereurs (Libellus precum et Lex augusta.) Canellis, A. ed. (Paris, 2006) Select Letters of Saint Jerome. “Wright, F. A. ed.” (Cambridge, Mass, 1933) Hieronymus liber De viris inlustribus. Gennadius liber De viris inlustribus. Richardson, E. C. ed. (Leipzig, 1896) Jerome, On illustrious men. Tr. Halton, T. P. (Washington, D.C.,1999) Jérôme, Débat entre un Luciférien et un orthodoxe (Altercatio Luciferiani et orthodoxi). “Canellis, A. ed.” (Paris, 2003) Le Liber pontificalis.Vols. 1–2, “Duchesne, L. ed.” (Paris, 1886–1892), vol. 3, “Vogel, C. ed.” (Paris, 1957) Mierow Ch.,Comerford Lawler, Th., The Letters of Saint Jerome (Mahwah, N.J., 1963) Adkin, N. “Jerome’s Vow Never to Reread the Classics: Some Observations.” Revue des études anciennes 101 (1999) 161–167. Banniard, M. „Jérôme et l’elegantia d’après le De optimo genere interpretandi.” In:  Jérôme entre Occident et Orient “Duval,Y-M. ed.” (Paris, 1988) 305–322. Bažil, M. Centones Christiani. Métamorphoses d´une forme intertextuelle dans la poésie latine chrétienne de l´Antiquité tardive (Paris, 2009) Bernt, G. Das lateinische Epigramm im Übergang von der Spätantike zum frühen Mittelalter (Munich, 1968) Brandt, J.R. „From Sacred Space to Holy Places. The Christianization of the Roman Cityscape: Some Reflections,“ Orizzonti 12 (2011) 151–56. Brown, Through the Eye of a Needle, 250–254.

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Brändle, R. “Petrus und Paulus als nova sidera.” Theologische Zeitschrift 48 (1992) 207–217. Brown, P. Through the Eye of a Needle.Wealth, the Fall of Rome and the making of Christianity in the West, 350–550 AD. (Princeton, 2012) The Cult of the Saints: its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity (Chicago, 1981) Cameron, A. The Last Pagans of Rome (Oxford, 2010) Cain, A. “Jerome’s Epitaphium Paulae: Hagiography, Pilgrimage, and the Cult of Saint Paula.” Journal of Early Christian Studies 18/1 (2010) 105–139. The Letters of Jerome: Asceticism, Biblical Exegesis, and the Construction of Christian Authority in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 2009) Castelli, E.A. Martyrdom and memory: early Christian culture making. (New York, 2004) Cecchelli, C. I monumenti cristiano-eretici di Roma (Rome, 1944) Coffin, H. C. “Vergil in the Christian Writers” (Unpublished PhD dissertation, Johns Hopkins University, 1920) Courcelle, P. Lecteurs païens et lecteurs chrétiens de L’Énéide (Paris, 1984) Curran, J. Pagan City and Christian Capital (Oxford, 2000). Curtius, E. R. European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages.Tr.W. R.Task (New York, 1963) Davidson, I. “Doing What Comes Naturally? Vergil and Ambrose.” In:  Romane Memento. Vergil in the Fourth Century “Rees, R. ed.” (London, 2004) 97–111. Diefenbach, S. Römische Erinnerungsräume. Heiligenmemoria und kollektive Identitäten im Rom des 3. bis 5. Jahrhunderts n. Chr. (Berlin, 2007) Duchesne, L. Histoire ancienne de l’Église (Paris, 1910) II, 482–483. Early Christian Poetry “den Boeft, J., Hilhorst, A. eds.” (Leiden, 1993) Edwards, C. Writing Rome: textual approaches to the city (Cambridge, 1996) Felle, A. E. „La Sacra Scrittura negli epitaffi papali da Damaso (366–384) ad Adriano I (772–795).” Motivi e forme della poesia cristiana antica tra Scrittura e tradizione classica (Rome, 2008) I, 193–209. Février, P. A. „Un plaidoyer pour Damase: les inscriptions des nécropoles romaines.” In Institutions, société et vie politique dans l’empire romain au IVe siècle ap. J. -C. “Christol, M. et al. eds.”, (Rome, 1992) 497–506. Field, L. L. On the communion of Damasus und Meletius. Fourth-century synodal formulae in the Codex Veronensis LX. (Toronto, 2004). Floridi, L. “The Epigrams of Gregory of Nazianzus Against Tomb Desecrators and Their Epigraphic Background” Mnemosyne 66 (2013) 55–81. Fontaine, J. Ambroise de Milan, Hymnes (Paris, 1992) “Images virgiliennes de l’ascension céleste dans la poésie latine chrétienne.” In: Gedenkschrift für A. Stuiber, Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum Ergängzungsband 9, (Münster, 1992) 55–67. „Damase, poète théodosienne.” In: Saecularia damasiana (Vatican City, 1986) 113–145. Naissance de la poésie dans l’Occident chrétien. Equisse d’une histoire de la poésie latine chrétienne du IIIe au VIe siècle (Paris, 1981), 111–125. “La conversion du christianisme à la culture antique: la lecture chrétienne de l’univers bucolique de Virgile.” In: Études sur la poésie latine tardive d’Ausone à Prudence (Paris, 1980) 214–240. Fux, P.-Y. „Les patries des martyrs. Doctrine et métaphores chez les poètes Damase, Ambroise, Paulin de Nola et Prudence.” Mauritius und die Thebäische Legion. Wermelinger, O. ed. (Fribourg, 2005) 365–375. Galvao-Sobrinho, C. „Funerary Epigraphy and the Spread of Christianity in the West.” Athenaeum 83 (1995), 431–462.

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The Golden Bough, The Oaken Cross: The Virgilian Cento of Faltonia Belitia Proba. Clark, A. E.- Hatch, D. F. eds. (Chico, 1981) Guyon, J. „Damase et l’illustration des martyrs. Les accents de la dévotion et l’enjeu d’une pastorale.” In Martyrium in Multidisciplinary Perspective. Memorial Louis Reekmans. Lamberigts, M., Deun, P. eds., (Leuven, 1995) 157–177. Green, R. P. H. Latin Epics of the New Testament (Oxford, 2006) Hagendahl, H. Latin Fathers and the Classics. A  Study on the Apologists, Jerome and Other Christian Writers (Göteborg, 1958) Hoogma, R. P. Der Einfluss Vergils auf die Carmina Latina Epigraphica (Amsterdam, 1959) Hunt, Th. “Ibi et cor tuum” (Jer. Ep. 22. 30): Roman Christian Topography and Statements of Christian Identity in Jerome.” Journal for Late Antique Religion and Culture 2 (2008) 17–32. The Invention of Tradition. Hobsbawm, E. - Ranger, T. eds. (Cambridge, 1983). Jones, J. W. Jr., “Allegorical Interpretation in Servius.”The Classical Journal 56 (1961), 217–226. Kahlos, M. “The importance of being pagan.” Pagans and Christians in the Roman Empire. The Breaking of a Dialogue (IV-VIth century A.D.) eds. Brown, P- Lizzi Testa, R. (Münster, 2011), 187–192. Lafferty, M. K. „Translating Faith from Greek to Latin:  Romanitas and Christianitas in Late Fourth-Century Rome and Milan.” Journal of Early Christian Studies 11/1 (2003) 21–62. Lattimore, R. Themes in Greek and Latin Epitaphs (Urbana, 1942) Layton, R. „Plagiarism and Lay Patronage of Ascetic Scholarship: Jerome, Ambrose and Rufinus.” Journal of Early Christian Studies 10 (2002), 489–522. Littlechilds, R. L. “The epitaphs of Damasus and the transferable value of persecution for the Christian community at Rome in the fourth-century AD.” (unpublished M.A. thesis, University of Victoria 2011) Lizzi Testa, R. Senatori, popolo, Papi: il governo di Roma al tempo dei Valentiniani (Bari, 2004) MacCormack, S. The Shadows of Poetry.Vergil in the Mind of Augustine (Berkeley, 1998) “Loca Sancta: The Organization of Sacred Topography in Late Antiquity.” The Blessings of Pilgrimage. Ousterhout, R. ed. (Urbana, Ill. 1990), 7–40. MacKay, L. A. “Three levels of meaning in Aeneid VI.” Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 86 (1955), 180–189. Matthews, J.F. „The Poetess Proba and Fourth Century Rome:  Questions of Interpretation.” Institutions. Société et vie politique dans l’Empire romain au IVe siècle après J. C. (Rome,1992), 277–304. McLynn, N. B. „Damasus of Rome: A fourth-century pope in context,” In:  Rom und Mailand in der Spätantike: Repräsentationen städtischer Räume in Literatur, Architektur und Kunst “Fuhrer, Th. ed.” (Berlin-Boston, 2012) Ambrose of Milan: Church and Court in a Christian Capital (Berkeley – Los Angeles, 1994) Marucchi, O. Pontificato del Papa Damaso e la storia della sua famiglia (Rome, 1905/2010) Matthews, J. „The Poetess Proba and Fourth Century Rome: Questions of Interpretation.” In:  Institutions, société et vie politique dans l’Empire romain au IVe siècle après J.  C. “Christol, M. ed.” (Rome, 1992) 277–304. Niquet, H. Monumenta virtutum titulique. Senatorische Selbstdarstellung im spätantiken Rom im Spiegel der epigraphischen Denkmäler (Stuttgart, 2000) Perkins, J. The Suffering Self: Pain and Narrative Representation in the Early Christian Era. (London, 1995)

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Pietri, Ch. Roma Christiana (Rome, 1976). Pietri, Ch. “Damase et Théodose. Communion orthodoxe et géographie politique.” In:  Epektasis. Mélanges patristiques offerts au cardinal Jean Daniélou “Fontaine, J., Kannengiesser, Ch, eds.” (Paris, 1972) 627–634. “Concordia Apostolorum et Renovatio Urbis: Culte des martyrs et propagande pontificale.” MEFR 73 (1961), 275–322. Poinsotte, J. M. “Jérôme et la poésie latine chrétienne.” In:  Jérôme entre Occident et Orient “Duval,Y-M. ed.” (Paris, 1988) 295–303. Pollmann, K. F. “The Transformation of the Epic Genre in Christian Late Antiquity.” Studia Patristica 36 (2001), 61–75 Rebillard, E. Religion et sépulture. L’Église, les vivants et les morts dans l’Antiquité tardive. (Paris, 2003). Reutter, U. Damasus, Bischof von Rom (366–384) (Tübingen 2009) Romane Memento.Vergil in the Fourth Century “Rees, R. ed.” (London 2004) Saecularia Damasiana (Vatican City, 1986) Sandnes, K. O. The Challenge of Homer: School, Pagan Poets and Early Christianity (London, 2009) Sághy, M. “Fido recubans sub tegmine Christi: Rewriting as Orthodoxy in the Epigrammata Damasiana.” In:  Invention, Rewriting, Usurpation. Discursive Fights over Religious Traditions in Antiquity. Jakobsen, A.C., Brakke, D. eds. (Aarhus, 2012), 41–55. Sághy, M. „Renovatio memoriae: Pope Damasus and the Martyrs of Rome.” In: Rom in der Spätantike: Historische Erinnerung im städtischen Raum “Behrwald, R., Witschel, Ch. eds.” (Stuttgart, 2012) 251–267. “Martyr Bishops and the Bishop’s Martyrs in Fourth-Century Rome.” In:  Saintly Bishops and Bishops’ Saints. “Vedris. T., Ott, J. eds.” (Zagreb, 2012) 31–45. “Pope Damasus and the Beginnings of Roman Hagiography.” Promoting the Saints: Cults and their Contexts from Late Antiquity until the Early Modern Period. Essays in Honor of Gábor Klaniczay for his Sixtieth Birthday (Budapest, 2011) 1–15. Schäfer, E. Die Bedeutung der Epigrämme des Päpstes Damasus I.  für die Geschichte der Heiligenverehrung (Rome, 1932) Schetter,W. „La poésie épigraphique entre 284 et 374”Nouvelle histoire de la littérature latine 5. Herzog, R. ed. (Turnhout, 1993) 265–71. Sebesta, J. L. “Costume in the Vatican Vergil Codex.”The Classical World 87 (1993) 27–33. Thacker,A.“Rome of the Martyrs. Saints, Cults and Relics, Fourth to Seventh Centuries.” Roma felix: formation and reflections of medieval Rome “Ó’ Carragain, E., Neuman de Vegvar, C. L. eds.”(Aldershot, 2007) 13–49. The See of Peter “Shotwell T., Loomis, L. R. eds.” (New York, 1965) Tolotti, F. “Il problema dell’altare e della tomba del martire in alcune opere di papa Damaso.”Studien zur spätantiken und byzantinischen Kunst F. W. Deichmann gewidmet. (Bonn, 1986) 51–71. Trout, D. E. “Saints, Identity and the City” In:  Late Ancient Christianity “Burrus, V. ed.” (Minneapolis, 2005) 165–187. “Damasus and the Invention of Early Christian Rome.” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 33:3 (2003) 517–536. Warner, Ch. The Augustinian Epic, Petrarch to Milton. (Ann Arbor, 2005). Woods, D. ‘The Date of the Translation of the Relics of SS. Luke and Andrew to Constantinople’, Vigiliae Christianae 45 (1991) 286–92. Ziolkowski, J, M. The Virgilian tradition. (New Haven, 2008).

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STORYTELLING AND CULTURAL MEMORY IN THE MAKING : CELEBRATING PAGAN AND CHRISTIAN FOUNDERS OF ROME Gitte Lønstrup Dal   Santo To understand the complex processes of change that Roman society underwent with the advent and expansion of Christianity, scholars of the late antique and early Christian period have used cultural memory theory as an interpretive model.1 Despite the criticisms that may be raised against this approach, from vagueness and lack of terminology, to theoretical exaggeration, the efforts (whether conscious or unconscious) of late Roman people to establish a new collectively shared memory about their Christian past may be detected in and across diverse groups of Christian Romans – from the lower and middle classes to senators and emperors. Such efforts may be seen in the establishment of narratives and commemorative practices with respect to the new Christian guardians of Rome: the apostles and the martyrs. This chapter will discuss one of these commemorations, the festival honoring the Apostles Peter and Paul on June 29, and the narratives supporting it – ancient as well as modern. According to tradition, Peter and Paul were the founders of the Roman Church by their joint martyrdom at Rome.2 The memory of the two apostles was anchored to Rome by way of their graves, which were, in fact, called memoriae. These memoriae were monumentalized with shrines donated by emperors, praised by poets, and visited by pilgrims throughout the year, but especially around the annual festival on June 29.3 On this day, the reenactment of the memory of the Apostles also took place at the so-called Memoriae Apostolorum on the Via Appia, today’s S. Sebastiano. Six hundred 1 2

3

See for instance Castelli, Martyrdom and Memory; Diefenbach, Römische Erinnerungsräume. e See, for instance, Cle. Rom. Epistt 1,5; Ignatius Epist. Rom. 4; Irenaeus Adv. Haer. 3.3.2–3; E II, 25, 8. Euseb. HE For Prudentius’s praise of the apostolic basilicas built by members of the Constantinian and Theodosian dynasties, see Perist. XII. Like Prudentius, Paulinus of Nola (Epist. 20) described his visit to Rome for the celebration of June 29.

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graffiti from the third century onward contain prayers of intercession devoted to Peter and Paul, thus testifying to a joint cult of these apostles – all year round.4 In the second half of the fourth century, the cult and the festival on June 29 was intensified by Pope Damasus (366–84) who composed an epigram for Peter and Paul at the Memoriae Apostolorum.5 For more than two centuries, a considerable number of scholars have claimed that the celebration of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29 reflected an effort, during the third century, to appropriate an existing celebration on the same day of the divine founder of Rome, Romulus/Quirinus. In this chapter it will be argued, however, that this narrative about a Christian “usurpation” of a pagan celebration of Rome’s foundation is a misguided modern construction of religious politics and cultural memory in fourthand fifth-century Rome. Instead, this chapter will suggest that the narrative about the Christian founders of Rome, commemorated on June 29, came to be closely connected to other layers of Roman culture and Romanness, among them the value, virtue, and ideal of concordia.6

Arguing Against a Usurpation Theory of June 29 Leaving all historical inconsistencies aside, the urge to compare – or rather to contrast – the pagan foundation of Rome by Romulus and Remus to the Christian foundation by Peter and Paul can, in fact, be traced to late antiquity itself. In a sermon Leo I gave on June 29, 441, the pope referred indirectly to the traditional twin founders of Rome as if to suggest a parallel and yet a contrast to the Apostles who were “better by far and much more favorably than those twins quarrelling to the point of murder.”7 In the Middle Ages the comparison between the pairs of founders was topographically anchored by the authors of the Mirabilia, who renamed the pyramidal tomb at the Vatican Meta Romuli and that of Cestius on the Ostian Way Meta Remi – as if to suggest a parallel to the neighboring Apostolic graves of St. Peter in the Vatican and St. Paul on the Via Ostiense.

4

5 6 7

For the graffiti, some of which contain consular dates, see Ferrua, “Rileggendo i graffiti,” III 428–37, IV, 134–41. Ferrua, Epigrammata, no. 20. Thus expanding Lønstrup, “Constructing Myths,” with a Constantinopolitan perspective. Sermon 82.1:  multo melius multoque felicius condiderunt, quam illi quorum studio prima moenium tuorum fundamenta locata sunt: ex quibus is qui tibi nomen dedit fraterna te caede foedavit. Dolle, Sermons, IV, 48, according to whose numbering the sermon is no 69. Transl. by Conway and Freeland, Sermons, 352–3.

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These intriguing ancient pairings of the founders of pagan and Christian Rome have led a surprising number of distinguished modern scholars to claim that even the feast of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29 – which commemorated not only their joint martyrdom but also in a symbolic way the foundation of Christian Rome – coincided with an established festival in celebration of the foundation of pagan Rome.8 Or in Huskinson’s words, whose work on Peter and Paul and Concordia Apostolorum has been foundational: “Perhaps it is not a coincidence that the renovatio urbis, the foundation of a nova Roma by Peter and Paul, was celebrated on 29 June, the same day as the anniversary of the foundation, or re-foundation, of Rome by Quirinus-Romulus.”9 Oscar Cullmann was the first to make this claim and although Antonio Rimoldi criticized it already in 1958, Cullmann’s argument turned into a scientific dogma.10 There is neither absolute nor circumstantial evidence, however, for the existence of this narrative about a Christian “usurpation” of a pagan feast celebrating Rome’s foundation in late antiquity. Furthermore, it is well known and well documented that the foundation of Rome, Roma condita Urbis, was celebrated on April 21, while the Quirinalia, the feast of Quirinus (the divine Romulus), was celebrated on February 17.11 Both dates are registered in the calendars into the fourth and fifth centuries – even after the abolition of most other pagan feasts in 389.12 The only two pieces of evidence that document a feast of Quirinus on June 29 date from the Augustan era: the Fasti Venusini from circa 16 BCE to 4 CE and Ovid’s Fasti from circa 4–6 CE. In the Fasti Venusini the remark Quirino in Colle next to the date of June 29 may be explained by Ovid’s poem referring to the same day: “When as many days of the month remain as the Fates (Parcae) have names, a temple was dedicated to thee, Quirinus, god of the striped gown.”13 There is no reason to doubt that the temple Ovid refers to was that of Quirinus that Augustus rededicated in 16 BCE before

9 10

11 12

13

See, for instance, Pietri, “Concordia Apostolorum et Renovatio Urbis,” 311; Bisconti, “L’abbraccio,” 91–2; Carletti, “Damaso,” 362; Cracco Ruggini, “Quirinus and Peter,” 29–34; Guarducci, “Il culto,” 834–7. Further examples later in this chapter. Huskinson, Concordia, 82. Cullmann, Saint Pierree, 116. Fifty-three years ahead of Cullmann, Erbes (Todestage, e 39) had suggested a parallel between the festival of Romulus-Quirinus on June 29 and that of the founders of the Church, Peter and Paul, but without claiming that June 29 was the foundation day of Rome. Rimoldi, “L’Apostolo,” 34. For a critical approach, see also Klauser, Petrustradition, 77. Invernizzi, Il calendario; Brind’amour, Le calendrier romain. Fasti Philocalianii 354 CE and Fasti Silvii Polemiii 449 CE. For the abolition of holidays in 389, see CTh 2. 8. 19–22; Salzman, On Roman Time, 155. e Ovid Fast. VI 795–6: Tot restant de mense dies, quot nomina Parcis, cum data sunt trabeae templa, Quirine, tuae. e

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his departure for Gaul, as mentioned by Cassius Dio (Hist. Rom. 54.19.3).14 The precise date of departure is unknown. The Fasti Venusini is, however, the only calendar in which this celebration on June 29 features. It is not registered in any other calendar from the same time span or later – for instance in the Fasti Maffeiani 8 BCE or in the Fasti Esquilini 7 BCE. This suggests that the celebration of the rededication of this temple soon faded out, while the traditional feasts relating to the founder and to the foundation of Rome on February 17 and April 21 continued for centuries. They are even documented in the fifth-century calendar, Fasti Silvii Polemii (449 CE). Hence, it seems highly improbable that a feast that had not been recorded in the calendars for more than two centuries would have been deliberately appropriated by Christians as a celebration of the pair of Apostles, Peter and Paul, replacing a feast of Romulus/ Quirinus. Furthermore, for the equation to make sense, the feast of the new pair of founders, Peter and Paul, would have had to replace the former pair of founders, Romulus and Remus, but there is no evidence for such a celebration. Finally, it is difficult to imagine, as Erbes suggested, that the bishop of Rome had the luxury of worrying about such analogies, when faced with the practical and acute challenges of gaining access to the cemeteries and to sites of worship.15 Thus it must be time to let go of the, albeit irresistible, analogy between the feasts of the founders of Roma cristiana and Roma pagana.16

Concordia In other words, the celebration of the joint martyrdom of Peter and Paul on June 29 seems to have been an entirely original Christian invention without any connection to an existing Roman festival of Romulus and Remus rooted in the city’s pagan or Roman past. Of course we will never know whether the date coincides with historical events such as the death by martyrdom of Peter and Paul. But more importantly this date is documented in the calendars of the fourth and fifth centuries. Furthermore, Pope Damasus made 14 15

16

See also Richardson, Topographical Dictionary, 326–7. Erbes (Todestagee, 39) maintained that Pope Sixtus II established the cult of the founders of the Church, Peter and Paul, on June 29, 258, because this was the closest available date with any connection to the founder(s) of Rome. The edict of persecution that Decius (249–51) issued prohibited visits at the cemeteries.Valerian’s edict of persecution from 257 as well as that issued to immediate effect in the summer of 258, also prohibited Christian worship. Bishop Sixtus II was martyred during the latter. For the edicts, see Haas,“Imperial Religious r 193, note 73. Policy,” 133–44. See also Toynbee and Ward-Perkins, Shrine of St Peter, Guarducci, “Il culto,” 834, 837.

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15.1. Emperor Marcus Aurelius standing right, clasping hands with Lucius Verus standing left. Sestertius. Struck 161 CE. Legend:  IMP CAES L AVREL VERVS AVG / CONCORD AVGVSTOR TR P, COS II. Photo © Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. http://www.cngcoins.com.

an effort to promote it, and for this purpose, he did not need Romulus and Remus. These figures were associated with fratricide and discordia and less with the desired concordia that Damasus and later Leo wanted to emphasize. In this sense, a much more powerful role model for promoting the princes of the Apostles was the double portrait of emperors, sometimes, but not always, emphasized by the legend concordia augustorum (Figures  15.1 and 15.2).17 This image visualized the unity of the rulers of the Roman Empire. The ideology behind it was based on the traditional Roman value and virtue of concord, well known to the Romans from panegyrics, poetry, and the female deity personifying it.18 In the mid-fourth century concordia made its way into Christian ideology and iconography in the shape of the double portraits of the chief Apostles, posing as emblems of unity within the Church.19 Although Peter and Paul were often depicted with individually recognizable features – Peter with a short beard and thick grey hair; Paul 17 18

19

See also Noreña, Imperial Ideals, 134–6. See esp. Prudent. Psy. 689:  maxima Virtus ..., Concordia (“Thou greatest of virtues ..., Concordia”), 709–10: Discordia dicor, cognomento Heresis (“I am called Discord, and my other name is Heresy”). See also Prudent. C. Symm. 2.586–94. In Sophronius’s (560–638) sermon on Peter and Paul, disorder is referred to as an enemy of God (PG G 87: 3 3356–64). See also Kent, The Divided Empire, 59–64. e On Christian iconographic appropriations, see Bisconti, “Le iconografie.”

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15.2. Portrait busts of Marcus Aurelius (to the right) and Lucius Verus (to the left). Medallion. Struck 161 CE. Legend: IMP ANTONINVS AVG COS III, IMP VERVS AVG COS I. Photo © Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. http://www.cngcoins.com.

with a longer beard and half bald as seen here  – their unity seems to be emphasized on a number of golden glasses where they are visually indistinguishable (Figure 15.3).20 Only the inscription of their name ensures identification. A similar use of visual sameness as a demonstration of unity was used by the tetrarchs, as seen in the famous sculpture group now in Venice. The pairing of emperors as an expression of concordia resonated far more powerfully among late antique Christians as a model for the cult of Peter and Paul than did the examples of Romulus and Remus (however much that has appealed to the imagination of modern historians). Of course, scholars have widely explored the Christian appropriation of concordia augustorum since Pietri’s article on the subject in the 1960s, but it has almost always been narrowly identified as limited to Rome.21 What it has not been linked to is the subtle process of cultural change, exchange, and transfer of Roman culture to the “New Rome” after the foundation of Constantinople. In the remaining part of this chapter, it will be argued that from the late fourth century to the mid-fifth century, the cult of Peter and Paul became an exportable emblem of Romanness (romanitas) and unity (concordia) between empire and church, now formally divided into east and west.

20 21

For the gold glasses, see Morey, Gold-Glass Collection. Pietri, “Concordia Apostolorum et Renovatio Urbis.”

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15.3. Alikeness. Portrait busts of St Peter and St Paul side by side, their faces toward each other. Their names are inscribed behind their heads. Photo © Trustees of the British Museum.

The Cult of Peter and Paul – Exportable to the New Rome on the Bospherus? The Roman cult of the Apostles Peter and Paul can be seen as part of a “package,” as it were, of Roman culture imported to Constantinople to emphasize the Romanness of the New Rome. It is within this context that we may consider their rather unacknowledged cult in Constantinople – one quite free of any association with Romulus and Remus.22 The question to answer first is what made the cult of Peter and Paul Roman? One could argue that the devotion to Peter and Paul was not inherently Roman but simply Christian, as Peter and Paul were the first and foremost missionaries of the Church. However, the scope of the festival on June 29 was, indisputably, to celebrate the believed martyrdom of both Apostles at Rome. It was not to commemorate, for instance, the Apostolic 22

The only, albeit obscure, link to the Roman twins is the Lupercalia feast mentioned in the Liber de Ceremoniis.

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meeting in Jerusalem described in Galatians 2:11–14  – even if one might rightfully point out that it was this meeting that saw the resolution of the conflict and discord between Peter and Paul regarding circumcision and its transformation into agreement and concord with the division of labor, so that Peter would preach among the circumcised (the Jews) while Paul would preach among the uncircumcised (the gentiles). The Roman character of the festival on June 29 stands out even more clearly in comparison to such eastern churches as Antioch, Nicomedia, and Jerusalem, where Peter and Paul were celebrated on December 28, according to a Syriac martyrology from 411 and later in a sermon by Sophronius (560–638).23 This tradition was not observed in Constantinople. Nonetheless, a certain degree of confusion has arisen regarding the Constantinopolitan practice, perhaps because an older Constantinopolitan tradition of celebrating Peter on December 27 and Paul on December 28 is documented in the Laudatio apostolorum, a pseudo-Chrysostomica sermon from circa 370.24 According to Sever Voicu, this is the only Constantinopolitan document that testifies to two separate feasts of the two Apostles in December.25 It does not concern a joint celebration of Peter and Paul on December 28 as recorded in the Syriac martyrology. Because of lack of evidence, it is unknown whether this older Constantinopolitan practice continued or was obliterated after the appropriation in Constantinople of the joint Roman feast on June 29 witnessed by a sermon Chysostom delivered three decades later. On July 2 or 3, 399, John Chrysostom gave a sermon describing how a few days earlier – that is, on June 29 – he and his congregation had crossed the strait of the Bosphorus to celebrate the feast of Peter and Paul:26 Three days ago rain and heavy showers broke, and swept away everything.... There were litanies and prayers of intercession, and our entire city went like a torrent to the places of the Apostles, and took as their advocates Saint Peter and blessed Andrew, the pair of Apostles, Paul and Timothy.

24

25 26

Lietzmann, Martyrologien, 12. Text related to December 28: “am XXVIII im selben ersten Kanun in der stadt Rom Paulos der apostel und Symeon Kepha(s) das haupt der apostel unsres herrn.” See also Baumstark, Comparative Liturgy, 178–9, and Voicu, “Feste di apostoli,” 51, who suggest that the Syriac martyrology from Edessa (ca. 411) was translated from a now lost Greek manuscript from Nicomedia, as it commemorates several Nicomedian martyrs. For Sophronius’s sermon to Peter and Paul, see PG G 87: 3, 3356–64. For a detailed discussion of this confusion, see Lønstrup Dal Santo, Concordia, 166–7;Voicu, “Feste di apostoli,” 57. Voicu, “Feste di apostoli,” 57, 68–9. On the controversy of dates, July 2 or 3, see Mayer,“Les homélies,” 286; Pargoire,“Rufinianes,” 157. In 399, June 29 fell on a Wednesday. The question is whether the Wednesday is counted or whether the sermon was given on a Saturday or on a Sunday.

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After that, when God’s anger was placated, crossing the sea, daring the waves, we went to Peter, the fundament of the faith, and Paul, the vessel of choice, and celebrated a spiritual festival, proclaiming their struggles, their trophies and their victories over the demons.27

The sermon is crucial evidence that at least since the late fourth century, the feast of Peter and Paul on June 29 was celebrated by a devoted congregation at Constantinople. While the first site of devotion was clearly the church of the Holy Apostles, which possessed the relics of the “deputies” of Peter and Paul, Andrew and Timothy, the second site of devotion was located at Rufinianae,28 south of Chalcedon. This was the first center of devotion to Peter and Paul within reach of the Constantinopolitan congregation. “Crossing the sea, daring the waves,” people risked their lives to go and celebrate the festival of Peter and Paul on June 29 in conformity with the long-established Roman practice and in the presence of their relics. Rufinianae was named after its founder, as Sozomen described in the mid-fifth century: “This place now bears the name of Rufinus; for he was a consul, and erected here a magnificent palace and a great church in honor of the apostles, Peter and Paul, and therefore named it the Apostolium.”29 It was presumably during a state visit to Rome in 389, accompanying Theodosius I, that the praetorian prefect Flavius Rufinus († November 27, 395) obtained the relics of Peter and Paul, which permitted him to inaugurate a sacred site in their name.30 The relics were placed in a shrine, which, apart from the 27

28 29 30

Chrysostom, Contra ludos et theatra: Πρὸ τριῶν ἡμερῶν ἐπομβρία καὶ ὑετὸς κατεῤῥήγνυτο πάντα παρασύρων ..., τὰ ἄλλα ἅπαντα τῇ πλεονεξίᾳ τῆς ὑγρᾶς κατασήπων οὐσίας· λιτανεῖαι καὶ ἱκετηρίαι, καὶ πᾶσα ἡμῶν ἡ πόλις ὥσπερ χείμαῤῥος ἐπὶ τοὺς τόπους τῶν ἀποστόλων ἔτρεχε, καὶ συνηγόρους ἐλαμβάνομεν τὸν ἅγιον Πέτρον καὶ τὸν μακάριον Ἀνδρέαν, τὴν ξυνωρίδα τῶν ἀποστόλων, Παῦλον καὶ Τιμόθεον. Μετ’ ἐκεῖνα, τῆς ὀργῆς λυθείσης, καὶ πέλαγος περάσαντες, καὶ κυμάτων κατατολμήσαντες, ἐπὶ τοὺς κορυφαίους ἐτρέχομεν, τὸν Πέτρον τὴν κρηπῖδα τῆς πίστεως, τὸν Παῦλον τὸ σκεῦος τῆς ἐκλογῆς, πανήγυριν στεως ἐπιτελοῦντες πνευματικὴν, καὶ τοὺς ἄθλους αὐτῶν ἀνακηρύττοντες, τὰ G 56, 263–70; transl. by Mayer, Allen, John τρόπαια καὶ τὰς νίκας τὰς κατὰ τῶν δαιμόνων (PG Chrysostom, 120; they choose to translate τὴν κρηπῖδα as “fundament,” and so I include their translation although it is problematic.). Pargoire, “Les homélies,” 154, 156; Mayer, “Les homélies,” 277. Soz. Hist. eccl.VIII.17: Transl. NPNF F. PLRE E I, 778–81:  Praefectus Praetorius Orientis in 392–5 and consul in 392 with Arcadius. Magister officiorum of Theodosius I in 388–92. See Pargoire, “Rufinianes,” 433–7; Pargoire, “Les homélies,” 156. According to Pargoire, the sanctuary was inaugurated in 393 or 394, which would have coincided with a council in Constantinople on September 24, 394. See also Thacker, “Rome of the Martyrs,” 41; Matthews, Western Aristocracies, 134–6, 227–8. In 386 Theodosius had confirmed the decree against moving buried bodies and selling relics of them. See CTh 9.17; Crook, Architectural Settingg, 23. Hence, it is likely that Rufinus did not obtain “first class” relics of Peter and Paul, but rather bits of the chains or contact relics.

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church and palace described by Sozomen, constituted a grander complex consisting of a monastery and Rufinus’s mausoleum. It is worth bearing in mind that the visit in 399, made by Chrysostom and his congregation, occurred only four years after Rufinus’s assassination by Gainas’s Gothic mercenaries on Stilicho’s orders. The proximity in time of this macabre event seems to indicate that the site had not suffered closure or damnatio memoriae along with its founder. On the contrary. While the transfer of the relics of Peter and Paul from Rome testifies to the involvement of the aristocracy in importing the cult of Peter and Paul to the region of Constantinople, the reenactment of their festival in June testifies to the interiorization of the cult on behalf of common people. It is impossible to say exactly who joined Chrysostom on the journey to Rufininae. But it remains certain that a group of people from Constantinople commemorated Peter and Paul at this time. As a number of late fourth- and early fifth-century sarcophagi excavated in Constantinople show, some also chose these Apostles as their patrons in death (Figure  15.4).31 These sarcophagi, Rufinus’s martyrium shrine, Chrysostom’s sermon, and Sozomen’s description all provide significant evidence for the commemoration of Peter and Paul on the Bosphorus.

Conclusion The Constantinopolitan cult of Peter and Paul is compelling evidence, partly for the strong cultural bond between the two “Romes,” and partly for the complex relationship between “Roman” and “Christian” in late antique culture. For this cult, including the festival on June 29, can be seen as part of the aforementioned “package” of emblems, monuments, institutions, and practices imported at Constantinople to confirm the Roman identity of that city. In this package, the cult of Peter and Paul, a cultural practice from Rome’s relatively newly constructed Christian past, could exist apparently without tension, alongside institutions and customs that belonged irrefutably to Rome’s pre-Christian past – from the senate and the circus games to the Capitolium, the imperial fora, and the dress code enforced on senators by Theodosius I.32 That is to say: when rethinking the relationship of the categories of “Christian” and “pagan or Roman,” we need to step away from the interpretative paradigm 31 32

For a study on these sarcophagi, see Lønstrup Dal Santo, “Bishop and Believers.” Theodosius I set a standard for public appearance by issuing regulations that imposed a traditional Roman dress code such as toga and paenula among senators and government officials, who, in failing to comply, risked a fine, exclusion from meetings or even exile from the city. See CTh 15.1.25, CTh 14.10.01.

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15.4. The “Sariguzel sarcophagus,” The Archaeological Museum, Istanbul. Photo. Gitte Lønstrup Dal Santo.

of opposition and usurpation and, instead, move toward one that focuses on the subtle and complex process of cultural change. In this process Roman values, virtues, and ideals were not just absorbed into the Christian cultural memory and redefined as Christian – but interestingly sublimated in a way that allowed “Christian” to be associated with a broader category of things “Roman.” As we have seen, one of the fundamental values in Roman society, with which the cult of Peter and Paul cult was closely associated, was that of concordia. This value of agreement and unity was also necessarily central to the imperial administration. Indeed, it was represented on coins to visualize the internal concord of the Theodosian dynasty, which was reinforced by the marriage of Theodosius II’s daughter, Licinia Eudoxia, and the Western emperor, Valentinian III, in 437. The alliance was meant to ensure safety, salus, in the empire through unity, concordia, between its eastern and western halves.33 It is hardly difficult to see why such values as salus and concordia were 33

For the connection between salus and concordia, see Noreña, Imperial Ideals, 144.

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promoted at a time of uncertainty and division within the empire, within the Church and between them. Peter and Paul came to embody Christian Romanness, unity, and safety – and as such they were venerated as protectors by the inhabitants of both Romes. This veneration reflects the contours of Constantinople’s distinctive Roman identity.

Bibliography Baumstark, A. Comparative Liturgy (London, 1958). Bisconti, F. “L’abbraccio tra Pietro e Paolo ed un affresco inedito del cimitero romano dell’ex Vigna Chiaraviglio,” in XLII Corso di cultura sull’arte ravennate e bizantina in memoria di prof. Giuseppe Bovini (Ravenna, 1995), 71–93. “Le iconografie,” in S. Ensoli and E. La Rocca, eds., Aurea Roma: dalla città pagana alla città cristiana (Rome, 2000), 361–7. Brind’amour, P. Le calendrier romain: recherches chronologiques (Ottawa, 1983). Carletti, C. “Damaso,” in Enciclopedia dei Papi (Rome, 2000), 349–72. Castelli, E. A. Martyrdom and Memory: Early Christian Culture Making (New York, 2004). Conway, A. and J. P. Freeland. St Leo the Great: Sermons (Washington, DC, 1996). Cracco Ruggini, L. “Quirinus and Peter: The Ideological Function of an Ancient Cult (III–IV Century),” in Paganism in the Later Roman Empire and in Byzantium (Cracow, 1991), 9–34. Crook, J. The Architectural Setting of the Cult of Saints in the Early Christian West c.300–1200 (Oxford, 2000). Cullmann, O. Saint Pierre, Disciple, Apôtre, Martyr (Neuchâtel-Paris, 1952). Diefenbach, S. Römische Erinnerungsräume:  Heiligenmemoria und kollektive Identitäten im Rom des 3. bis 5. Jahrhunderts n. Chr. (Berlin, 2007). Dolle, R. Sermons. Léon le Grand, Latin text and Franch translation, Sources Chrétienne 200 (Paris, 1973). Erbes, C. Die Todestage der Apostel Paulus und Petrus und ihre Römischen Denkmähler (Leipzig, 1899). Ferrua, A. Epigrammata Damasiana (Vatican City, 1942). “Rileggendo i graffiti di San Sebastiano.” Civiltà Cattolica III (1956): 428–37; IV: 134–41. Guarducci, M. “Il culto degli apostoli Pietro e Paolo sulla Via Appia: riflessioni vecchie e nuove.” MEFRA 98 (1986): 811–42. Haas, C. J. “Imperial Religious Policy and Valerian’s Persecution of the Church, AD 257–260.” ChHist 52, no. 2 (1983): 133–44. Huskinson, J. M. Concordia Apostolorum:  Christian Propaganda at Rome in the Fourth and Fifth Centuries: A Study in Early Christian Iconography and Iconology (Oxford, 1982). Invernizzi, A. Il calendario,Vita e Costumi dei Romani Antichi, 16 (Rome, 1994). Kent, J. P. C. The Divided Empire and the Fall of the Western Parts, Roman Imperial Coinage X (London, 1994). Klauser, T. Die römische Petrustradition im Lichte der neuen Ausgrabungen unter der Peterskirche (Cologne, 1956). Lietzmann, H. Die drei ältesten Martyrologien (Bonn, 1911). Lønstrup Dal Santo, G. “Constructing Myths: The Foundation of Roma Christiana on 29 June.” ARID (2008): 19–56.

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“Concordia Apostolorum – Concordia Augustorum: The Making of Shared Memory in and between the Two Romes in the Fourth and Fifth Century.” PhD diss. University of Aarhus (2010). “Bishop and Believers – Patrons and Viewers: Appropriating the Roman Patron Saints Peter and Paul in Constantinople,” in S. Birk and B. Poulsen, eds., Patrons and Viewers in Late Antiquity (Aarhus, 2012), 237–57. Matthews, J. F. Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court A.D. 364–425 (Oxford, 1990). Mayer, W. “Les homélies de S.  Jean Chrysostome en juillet 399.” ByzSlav (1999): 273–303. Mayer, W. and P. Allen. John Chrysostom, The Early Church Fathers (London, 2000). Morey, C. R. The Gold-Glass Collection of the Vatican Library: With Additional Catalogues of other Gold-Glass Collections (Vatican City, 1959). Noreña, C. Imperial Ideals in the Roman West (Cambridge, 2011). Pargoire, J. “Rufinianes.” BZ 8 (1899): 429–77. “Les homélies de S. Jean Chrysostome en juillet 399.” Echos d’Orient 3 (1900): 151–62. Pietri, C. “Concordia Apostolorum et Renovatio Urbis. Culte des martyr et propagande pontificale.” MEFRA 73 (1961): 275–322. Richardson, L. A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome (Baltimore and London, 1992). Rimoldi, A. “L’Apostolo San Pietro,” in Analecta Gregoriana (Rome, 1958). Salzman, M. R. On Roman Time: The Codex-Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity (Berkeley, Los Angeles, Oxford, 1990). Thacker, A.“Rome of the Martyrs: Saints, Cults and Relics, Fourth to Seventh Centuries,” in É. Ó. Carragáin and C. Neuman de Vegvar, eds., Roma Felix  – Formation and Reflections of Medieval Rome (Aldershot, 2007), 13–49. Toynbee, J. M. C. and J. B. Ward-Perkins. The Shrine of St Peter and the Vatican Excavations (London, New York, Toronto, 1956). Voicu, S. J. “Feste di apostoli alla fine di dicembre.” Studi sull’oriente cristiano, 82 (2004): 47–77.

SECTION C. READING RELIGIOUS ICONOGRAPHY AS EVIDENCE FOR PAGAN–CHRISTIAN RELATIONS



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ROME AND IMAGERY IN LATE ANTIQUITY: PERCEPTION AND USE OF STATUES Caroline Michel d’Annoville

Divine statues, as objects that were thought of very differently in terms of both their nature and their use, crystallized the tensions between pagans and Christians in the fourth and fifth centuries.The “graven image” as an emblem of pagan religions gradually became the preferred target of Christians. From the second half of the second century, ideas on the link between the god and its effigy, on the type of representation based on mimicry as well as on its actual power were put forward by both Christian authors and pagan philosophers, who reflected on their conception of piety and on the religious relationship between mankind and the divine. Some of the arguments Christian writers advanced on divine statues in fact came to be used as encouragement and justification for legal decisions that limited and then prohibited their use, occasionally with a concern for protecting the work nonetheless, but little is known about the efficacy of these measures or the precise nature of the objects involved. We do not know whether all kinds of divine effigy were affected, or if these attacks targeted only consecrated images. In any case, these struggles over the approach to divine statues gradually modified the role they played in the city. As Lepelley has shown, divine statues lost their primary purpose and became real “heritage” objects.1 In Rome, a fairly wide range of sources, comprising inscriptions, writings by Christian or pagan authors, and archeological and iconographical data, allows us to follow the main phases of this change of status. Statues became markers of a society in transition, and they allow us to observe their complex relationship with tradition and the past in the context of the diffusion of a new culture that weakened and called into question some of the structures underpinning society, in Rome more so than elsewhere.

1

See Lepelley, “Le musée des statues,” 5–15.

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I: Tradition and Initial Tensions Surrounding Images In the fourth century, Christian reticence toward divine representations was above all evident in literature,2 with only rare material consequences, since the tradition of erecting images to the gods in fact remained a powerful one. Effigies were still very current, to the extent that from 331 a civil servant with responsibility for statues in the city of Rome was appointed, the curator statuarum.3 He was answerable to the urban prefect, and although we know nothing of his precise duties, we can deduce from references made to him that he managed all the statuary, whatever the exact nature of the image – divine, imperial, or honorary.4 He was able to organize the movement of statues, but we do not know if he was involved in the important transfer of statues to Constantinople carried out under Constantine.5 Two documents presenting the topography of Rome, the Notitia Regionum Urbis Romae, dating from 334, and the Curiosum urbis Romae regionum, written in 357 or shortly after, mention the presence of statues at the heart of the city, but their purpose was to calculate the number of objects on display, perhaps the most imposing and valuable ones, without giving any details as to where they were or what they represented.6 The first official statement on the use of divine images in traditional religion appears in a law enacted in Milan in 356, but that must have had a more general application. It is difficult to know, however, whether it referred to private or public occasions.7 The earlier law Constantine decreed in 318 concerned sacrifices and rites such as haruspicy, seen as superstitious practices likely to weaken authority. This fear seemed to grow stronger between February 319 and the end of 320; haruspicy was condemned on three occasions.8 The practice of haruspicy in private, and thus out of sight and beyond 2

3

4

5 6

7 8

See the work of Clerc, Les théories, and the article by Bouffartigue, “Les statues divines du paganisme,” 53–64. The curator statuarum appears in the following documents: CIL L VI, 1708 ( = 31 906- Flavius Magnus Januarius, 335 and 337), CIL L VI, 1159 (Pubilius Caeionius Julianus, 353 and 356), CIL VI, 102 (ILS S, 4003- Longeius, 367 or 368). See Chastagnol, La préfecture urbaine, e 52, 139, 181, 363, 469. Curators also existed prior to this. J. Beaujeu considered the possibility of museum management during the imperial period, and has shown the existence of people responsible for this heritage; see Beaujeu, “A-t-il existé une direction des musées,” 671–88. See Dagron, Constantinople imaginaire, e 100–59. The notitia mentions eighty gilded statues of gods and seventy-seven made of ivory, and the curiosum reports that in Rome it was possible to see twenty-two golden statues and eighty ivory statues of the gods. See Jordan, Topographie der Stadt Rom, 539–74;Valentini and Zucchetti, Codice topografico, 63–188; Arce, “El inventario de Roma,” 15–22. See Belayche, “Realia versus leges,” 343–70. C.Th. IX, 16, 1 (February 1, 319) and 2 (May 15, 319); 16, 10, 1 (December 17, 320).

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control, was severely condemned, whereas it was tolerated in public.9 This difference between the two kinds of haruspicy, private and public, secret and visible, unchecked and under control, is indicative of the fear that these practices could be unwisely used against the state and the prince and damage the balance of power and the stability of the empire.10 The law of 356 was part of five vigorous anti-pagan constitutions attributed to Constantine’s sons, Constans, emperor of the West, and his bother Constantius II, emperor of the East. They revived the measures their father took, largely against the use of divinatory signs, at first moderately then with great severity during the short period between 354 and 356. From then on offenders faced the death penalty and the confiscation of property, even if they held high office. Governors who did not uphold these measures were subject to the same punishment. In this law (C. Th. XVI,10,6),11 the worship of religious statues (simulacra) is mentioned as one of the most reprehensible practices of paganism, together with sacrifice, which up to that point had been the only one forbidden. According to Firmicus Maternus, who wrote a severe critique of paganism and its symbols during this period,12 taking up an argument Christians had refined since the second century,13 the demons that haunted statues were kept alive by the blood of sacrificial victims.14 The presence of statues and the worship of them probably reinforced for the ancients the magical nature of pagan practices, justifying the idea that these religions were close to superstition. It is in this context that the Christian emperor Constantius II, when he first arrived in Rome in 357, must have had the altar of Victory, and perhaps

9 10

11

12

13

14

C.Th. IX, 16, 2: carrying out ancient ceremonies during the day was tolerated. See Gaudemet, “La législation,” 452–53 and Gaudemet, Siniscalco, and Falchi, Legislazione, e 7–66, Gaudemet reminds us that these laws were part of a tradition. He mentions previous laws:  from the beginning of the empire measures had been taken against private divining: according to Dios Cassius (LVI, 25, 5), Augustus had forbidden “prophecies or prognoses of death”; Suetonius says of Tiberius that “he forbade any consultation of haruspices in secret and without witnesses” (Tib. 63,2); a prohibition mentioned in the Sententiae Paulii (V, 21 1–4). C. Th. XVI,10,6: Idem A. et Iulianus Caes. Poena capitis subiugari praecipimus eos, quos operam sacrificiis dare uel colere simulacra constiterit. Dat. XI kal. mart. Med(iolano) Constantio A. VIII et Iuliano Caes. Conss. In the De errore profanarum religionum, in II,9 (on human creation); XIII,4 (on sacrifice); XIV,3 (on objects made of bone); XVI,102 (on the worship of five Minervas); XX, 4 (on Daniel’s prophecy on a statue); XXII,1 (on a rite involving a statue), 2 (on a buried idol). The longest and most interesting chapter is XXVIII,1–13 on the vanity of idols and the need for their destruction. See the work of Clerc, Les théories, and the article by Bouffartigue, “Les statues divines du paganisme,” 53–64. See the introduction by Turcan, L’Erreur des religions païennes, 1–72.

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also the statue of Victory herself,15 removed from the Curia. Both of these had been put there in 29 BCE to celebrate the victory of Actium in 31 BCE. This ancient work of art16 was, according to Herodian,17 an object of worship for the senators who went into the Curia. They had to stretch out their hands toward Victory on the accession of a new prince and swear their loyalty to him. Every year, on January 3, they stood before the statue and solemnly declared their good wishes for the health of the emperor and the prosperity of the empire. No source provides details of the position of the statue and the altar of Victory.18 As Symmachus, one of the chief representatives of the traditional aristocracy, later stated however, when the altar and the statue had again been moved, “The love of tradition is strong; it is right that the measure taken by divine Constantius did not last long.”19 As Symmachus’s comment suggests, traditions were so powerful that the only effect in Rome of imperial edicts or demonstrations of reticence in relation to traditional religion was to provoke tension, but nothing more serious. During this period the statues of dei consentes were, moreover, restored. Twelve effigies of gods and goddesses, perhaps the Roman version of the twelve Greek gods or a group of divinities of Etruscan origin, had been placed in a portico below the Capitol, on the Forum Romanum, probably built in the third or second centuries BCE, and partly rebuilt, to judge by the visible remains, in the Flavian period.20 Then, as an inscription engraved on the architrave of the portico indicates, the group was restored by Vettius Agorius Pretextatus, urban prefect in 367.21 He was thus responding to imperial demands that old monuments should be restored,22 with due 15 16

17 18

19 20

21

22

Symmachus, Relatio, III,4. See Reinach, “Notes tarentines,” 19–29: this statue was apparently the work of Eutyches of Sicyon, a pupil of Lysippos. Herodian, The Roman Histories, III,5,5,6–7. Several hypotheses have been put forward on the basis of ancient authors, for example Herodian (5,5 7), and on the results of Bartoli’s ancient explorations. The first of these assumes that the altar and the statue of Victory were both in the center of the room; another places an altar near the entrance, while the statue was at the end of the hall and placed on the presidential podium; the last defends the idea that they were both at the entrance, with some slight variations in their position. See Bartoli, Curia senatus. Symmachus, Relatio III, 4. For the archaeological phases of the Porticus, see Nieddu, “Il portico,” 37–52, and Kahlos, “Restoration Policy of Vettius Agorius Praetextatus,” 39–47. See CIL L VI, 102: [...deorum c]onsentium sacrosancta simulacra, cum omni lo[ci...adornatio]ne, cultu in f[ormam antiquam restituo/ V]ettius Praetextatus, u(ir) c(larissimus), pra[efectus U]rbi, [reposuit],/ E, curante Longeio [...u(iro) c(larissimo) c]onsul[ari operum maximum?]. See Praetextatus 1 in PLRE I, 722 sq. The emperors were increasingly concerned to maintain the heritage of cities in good condition and to prevent others from profiting from the removal of statuary from certain cities.

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consideration being given to both financial resources and the decorative integrity of the cities concerned.23 Pretextatus’s gesture, however, no doubt also showed his great piety toward the pagan gods that was demonstrated in the many initiations into the great mystery cults of his time.24

II: Divine Images: Condemnation, Removal, Protection Then for a time there was no more talk of statues or even of sacrifices. Under Julian, the package of measures suppressing paganism was abolished but only for a short while, as this emperor was only in power for two years (November 361–3). The problem of divine statues reappeared in the last two decades of the fourth century with the Edict of Thessalonica. Images of the gods were then either condemned or appreciated for their aesthetic value. These considerations were put forward in a law promulgated in Constantinople (C.Th. XVI,10,8)25 which related to the East, but which was used elsewhere in the empire to justify the transfer of certain images from ancient places of worship. A total of some twenty inscriptions mention removals to the heart of cities (about ten of them in Rome). The reasons for these transfers are difficult to assess, but the result was that these objects then found a new place in the city and acquired new value. In the inscriptions, the transfer is noted either by the use of a particular formula referring to the object’s place of origin (those most frequently used were in abditis locis or ex abditis locis or again ex sordentibus locis), or by the mention of a new, more visible position (celeberrimo loco). The statues would thus be transferred from deserted buildings, from temples that had been abandoned or destroyed, or from storage where

23

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On this occasion he referred to a measure with this aim enacted a little earlier, the constitution C.Th. XV, 1, 11, in which the emperors ordered that no new monuments should be built, and that all efforts were to be directed toward the restoration of ruins. See Janvier, La Législation, 339, on the financial aspects, and Thomas, “Les ornements,” 275, on the ideological aspects: the prince, through his representatives, was concerned for the decorative state of the cities and aimed to “remédier à la deformitas entraînée par les négligences et les déprédations qui altéraient la belle apparence des édifices publics et privés.” See his epitaph: CIL L VI,1779 (= ILS S,1259). His intentions have been analyzed by Bloch in particular, who interprets the restoration of this monument as a religious gesture; see Kahlos, “Restoration Policy of Vettius Agorius Praetextatus,” 39–47. C. Th. XVI,10,8:  Idem AAA. Palladio duci Oshroenae. Aedem olim frequentiae dedicatam coetui et iam populo quoque communem, in qua simulacra feruntur posita artis pretio quam diuinitate metienda iugiter patere publici consilii auctoritate decernimus neque huic rei obreptiuum officere sinimus oraculum. Ut conuentu urbis et frequenti coetu uideatur, experiential tua omni uotorum celebritate seruata auctoritate nostri ita patere templum permittat oraculi, ne illic prohibitorum usus sacrificiorum huius occasione aditus permissus esse credatur. Dat. prid. kal. dec. Constantinop(oli) Antonio et Syagrio conss.

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they would have been kept after the promulgation of imperial laws forbidding paganism, and brought into public view.26 The majority of these transfers were the work of civil servants. In Rome, they were carried out on the orders of the urban prefect who controlled the transfers and never delegated this responsibility. Sextius Anicius Paulinus was the first urban prefect (331–3) to remove statues from pagan sanctuaries and transfer them with new inscriptions to public squares or thermal baths, notably those of the Aventine Hill,27 but the phraseology is so laconic that it is difficult to know whether the transferred object is a former divine statue or not. Transfers were more explicit in the case of the urban prefect Gabinius Vettius Probianus.28 Historians disagree as to when he was urban prefect: either in 377 on the evidence of a briefing Gratian addressed to him on September 17 of that year, or at the end of the year 416.29 He had five statues transferred to the forum and into the Basilica Julia and the Basilica Aemilia. Chastagnol has linked this transfer to the “iconoclast” policy of one of the predecessors of Vettius Probianus, Gracchus, urban prefect from 376–7, and who has been identified as Furius Maecius Gracchus, corrector clarissime of Flaminia and Picenum before 350.30 According to Prudentius,31 Gracchus had himself and his lictors baptized, then once he was urban prefect he ordered the destruction of the gods.32 For Chastagnol and also for Lepelley, the transfers Probianus carried out were probably “une continuation, sous une forme nouvelle et moins brutale de l’action chrétienne de Gracchus, les statues des temples n’étant plus détruites, mais au contraire, remises en état et transférées dans un lieu public profane pour en rehausser la décoration.”33

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The movements of statues carried out in late antiquity have certain peculiarities that have been the focus of two studies, one by Lepelley and the other by Curran. Both link these movements to the laws condemning paganism and its rites and aiming to protect statues; such movements would be one of the effects. See Lepelley, “Le musée des statues,” 5–15; Lepelley, “Témoignages épigraphiques”; and Curran, Moving Statues, 46–58. See PLRE E, 679 and Lanciani, The Destruction of Ancient Rome, 36. e CIL L VI 1156 ( =  CIL L VI,31866), CIL L VI 3864 ( =  ILS S 9354), CIL L VI, 1658 a and b. Other urban prefects moved statues in the 390s, but here we will only give references in the CIL: CIL.VI,41344a L ( = CILVI,36968 =  L AE E 1996 100 a-b) (in 391); CILVI, L 41 333 (in 395). See C. Th. XI,2,3 (September 17, 377). See Chastagnol, Les fastes de la préfecture, e 201–2; Lepelley, “Témoignages épigraphiques”; PLRE E, 734. See Chastagnol, Les fastes de la préfecture, e 199–200; Chastagnol, La préfecture, e 69, 157–61, 198, 347, 436–7. See Prudentius, Contra Symmachum, I,561–5. See Jerome, ep. 107,2: Jerome described one of these events: to his great delight, Gracchus, who was a patrician, had all the statues of a mithraeum smashed. Chastagnol, Les fastes de la préfecture, e 200–2: The transfers Probianus carried out were probably “a continuation of the christian action of Gracchus in a new and less brutal form,

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Another hypothesis may also be proposed, extending the interpretation Lizzi offered of the transfer of statues to Verona by Valerius Palladius in advance of Gratian’s journey from Milan to Aquileia in 380.34 Probianus himself may also have planned to move the statues to decorate the city so as to receive Gratian after a journey organized in 376 from Trier to Rome, where he was to celebrate his decennalia. The emperor hoped to demonstrate to the Senate his power, which had been weakened by the attacks from Valentinian. The decoration in the center of the city may have been renewed at that time, or shortly afterward, as a way for some to show their devotion to the emperor. It was at this same time that the problem of the altar of Victor y arose again. In 382 Gratian, who had taken up the fight against paganism in energetic fashion, had the altar of Victory, and probably also its statue, removed, despite resistance from aristocratic senators. He also annulled the state subsidies to both religion and the schools of divinity.The title of pontifex maximus given to the emperor was abolished, revealing the new relationship between church and state.35 The supporters of paganism reacted immediately and chose Symmachus to represent their case to the emperor at an audience with him in Milan. In order to obtain the abolition of the measures, Symmachus presented a whole series of arguments, and notably political ones, justifying the reestablishment of traditions. Symmachus spoke about the various elements of the cult as ornamenta.36 Now this term had a legal meaning, and was used to refer to the body of materials, figures, marble objects, columns, and statuary that made up the decorative assets of a house, a temple, or a city. The use of this term was probably not anodyne, as it effectively accused those responsible for this transfer of damaging the integrity of a heritage. The imperial authorities had dealt with this issue by promulgating a series of laws intended to protect the heritage, not only of cities but also more widely within the empire as a whole, as this was a visible guarantee of the proper working of institutions and authorities.37 Symmachus thus proposed a legal argument that would justify the restitution of the decorative elements of the Curia. In his plea he naturally mentioned the object of controversy, the representation of Victory herself, but without employing the term usually used to refer to religious statues (simulacrum). The absence of a specific term to

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temple statues being no longer destroyed, but rather renovated and then transferred to a non-religious public place for decorative effect.” See Lizzi, Fra prosopografia, 145–64. Lipani, “La controversia,” 75–9. Symmachus, Relatio III,3. See Thomas, “Les ornements,” 263–83.

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refer to it has lent weight to hypotheses casting doubt on its removal. Most historians38 believe that only the altar, a ritual symbol par excellence, had been taken away, leaving the statue, now harmless, in place (some rely on the letters of Ambrose to maintain that the statue was still there39). According to other historians, such as Mazzarino, the statue was normally associated with the altar by virtue of their sacred unity.40 But in essence, does not the absence of any reference to the image itself reveal a particular bias, a religious approach, on the part of Symmachus? Unlike some pagans, and also some Christians,41 even if only Ambrose, he may have considered the image of lesser importance. In the Saturnalia by Macrobius, in which Symmachus is one of the main protagonists, he is presented as one of the more moderate pagans, in contrast to Praetextatus who took a far more extremist position. Taking inspiration from Porphyry,42 Symmachus saw the statue as a sign, a support for pagan devotions. Whatever the arguments and positions taken up on each side, Symmachus and the pagan senators had to endure the emperor’s refusal. We do not know when the altar and statue were put back (if indeed that was the case) because the laws became fiercer. One of these, considered the first law Theodosius enacted against any form of pagan cult, concerned religious statues. This law, issued on February 24, 391, from Milan,43 is addressed to Ceionus Rufius Albinus, who was at that time urban prefect and not praetorian prefect.44 This high-level administrator, portrayed in the Saturnalia, no doubt defended the pagan point of view. The greatest irony is that he had to enforce measures aimed at his coreligionists, notably pagan administrators. 38 39 40 41

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See, for example, Canfora, Simmaco, 37–38; Paschoud, Roma aeterna, 78. Ambrose, ep., 18,32,10. See Mazzarino, Antico, tardo-antico, I, 351–7; Pohlsander, Victory, 588–97. See the work of Clerc, Les théories, and the article by Bouffartigue, “Les statues divines du paganisme,” 53–64. See, for example, two authors who wrote about divine statues: Clement of Alexandria, Protrepticus, IV, and Arnobius, Adversus nationes, VI,8–26. They criticize the beliefs of pagans who saw the gods themselves in the statues. See Bidez, Porphyry: Porphyry explained in particular that the faithful did not consider the statues or other venerated images in the temple the gods themselves. They were a figurative way of illustrating traditional religion. C.Th. XVI,10,10: Idem AAA. Ad Albinum p(raefectum) p(raetori)o. Nemo se hostiis polluat, nemo insontem uictimam caedat, nemo delubra adeat, templa perlustret et mortali opere formata simulacra suspiciat, ne diuinis adque humanis sanctionibus reus fiat. Iudices quoque haec forma contineat, ut, si quis profano ritui dededitus templum uspiam uel itinere uel in urbe adoraturus intrauerit, quindecim pondo auri ipse protinus inferred cogatur nec non officium eius parem summam simili maturitate dissoluat, si non et obstiterit iudici et confestim publica adtestatione rettulerit. Consulares senas, official eorum simili modo, correctors et praesides quaternas, apparitions illorum similem normam aequali sorte dissoluant. Dat.VI kal. Mart. Med(iolano) Tatiano et Symmacho conss. See Chastagnol, Les fastes, 233–6, and PLRE E Albinus 15

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The worship of statues was here criticized:  statues were frequently presented as mortali opere, a term that can be translated either as “a perishable work” or as “a work carried out by man.” The expression alludes to a whole arsenal of often bitter arguments criticizing statues, which can be found in the Apologists from the second century onward:45 statues are simply crude objects, made by man in perishable materials; they cannot therefore be considered true divinities. The very precise use of this expression suggests that these ideas and this approach to objects were familiar to the person who drew up the law, who was no doubt a convinced Christian. These prohibitions were renewed on November 8, 392, in Constantinople, in a law that operated not only in the eastern capital, but in the whole of the Roman Empire.46 Longer and more detailed than the others, the law aimed to cover all cases. For this reason it is more systematic and more “programmatic”: it applied to everyone, whatever their status (s