Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350-450 9780190067250, 019006725X

Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity reconsiders the religious history of the late Roman Empire, focusing on the shifting

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Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350-450
 9780190067250, 019006725X

Table of contents :
Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450
Introduction: Rhetoric and realities
Religious dissenters
The emperors and the churches
Rhetoric and the realities of life
The themes of this book
SECTION I Imperial and ecclesiastical authority
1 The emperor and the dissenters
The rhetoric of public welfare and divine peace
Imperial striving for unity
2 The realities of legislation
Sound and fury
Good citizens and infamous dissenters
The realities of responsive legislation
The local realities of legislation
3 The bishops and the dissenters
Coping with diversity
Coping with the emperor
4 The local limits of imperial and ecclesiastical power
Patronage and local landowners
Laxity or tolerance?
5 Authority and aggression
The narrative of Christian triumphalism
Triumph as legitimation
Vigour and violence
Initiating aggression
Supporting aggression
Controlling, punishing, and criticizing aggression
Imperial and ecclesiastical authority: Concluding remarks
SECTION II People in rhetoric and realities
6 Individuals, groups, and plural possibilities in Late Antiquity
Naming, listing, and labelling
‘Christians’ and Christian self-​perception
7 Otherness outside: Making pagans
Who were pagans? Stereotypes and realities
Flesh-​and-​blood pagans?
The first or last pagans? The self-​perception of pagans
8 Deviance or otherness inside: Construing heretics
The making of heresies—​and orthodoxy
Making Arians
Making Donatists
Making Pelagians
Heretics and social reality
9 Reactions
Accommodation: Conversion and conformity
Non-​violent resistance: Eloquent appeals
Non-​violent resistance: Silence and self-​segregation
Confrontations: Verbal and physical violence
People in rhetoric and realities: Some conclusions
SECTION III Time, place, practices
10 The transformation of practices
In search of local religion
Sacrifices in Late Antiquity
The abhorrence of sacrifice
The realities of pollution?
Disappearances, continuities, and adaptations
11 Economics of practices
Competing for resources
Competing philanthropic practices
Blaming civic philanthropy
12 Sacred places and spaces
Shared cult places
Rhetoric of purification and reality of aesthetization
13 Sacred times and spaces
Feasts and spectacles
Christians and the New Year
The reality of popular needs
Funerary and martyr cults: Complaints and realities
14 Rhetoric and realities of magic
Dissenters and magic accusations
Roman suspicions and Christian fears
From traditional civic rituals to magic
From dissent Christianity to magic
Your magic, my miracle
Time, place, practices: Some conclusions
Conclusion: The darkening age or the victory of John Doe?
Authority: Attempts to control and define
People: Attempts to categorize people
Practices: Attempts to control practices
Index locorum
General Index

Citation preview


OXFORD STUDIES IN LATE ANTIQUITY Series Editor Ralph Mathisen Late Antiquity has unified what in the past were disparate disciplinary, chronological, and geographical areas of study. Welcoming a wide array of methodological approaches, this book series provides a venue for the finest new scholarship on the period, ranging from the later Roman Empire to the Byzantine, Sasanid, early Islamic, and early Carolingian worlds. The Arabic Hermes From Pagan Sage to Prophet of Science Kevin van Bladel Two Romes Rome and Constantinople in Late Antiquity Edited by Lucy Grig and Gavin Kelly Disciplining Christians Correction and Community in Augustine’s Letters Jennifer V. Ebbeler History and Identity in the Late Antique Near East Edited by Philip Wood Explaining the Cosmos Creation and Cultural Interaction in Late-​Antique Gaza Michael W. Champion Universal Salvation in Late Antiquity Porphyry of Tyre and the Pagan-​Christian Debate in Late Antiquity Michael Bland Simmons The Poetics of Late Antique Literature Edited by Jas Elsner and Jesus Hernandez-​Lobato Rome’s Holy Mountain The Capitoline Hill in Late Antiquity Jason Moralee The Koran and Late Antiquity A Shared Heritage Angelika Neuwirth, translated by Samual Wilder Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–​450 Maijastina Kahlos

Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–​450 Maijastina Kahlos


1 Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Oxford is a registered trade mark of Oxford University Press in the UK and certain other countries. Published in the United States of America by Oxford University Press 198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, United States of America. © Oxford University Press 2020 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of Oxford University Press, or as expressly permitted by law, by license, or under terms agreed with the appropriate reproduction rights organization. Inquiries concerning reproduction outside the scope of the above should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above. You must not circulate this work in any other form and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer. CIP data is on file at the Library of Congress ISBN 978–​0–​19–​006725–​0 1 3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2 Printed by Integrated Books International, United States of America

‘Heathen,’ they called us. A word we learned from them. If it meant anything, it meant people who don’t know what’s sacred. Are there any such people? ‘Heathen’ is merely a word for somebody who knows a different sacredness than you know. Ursula K. LeGuin, Voices (London: Orion, 2006), 126


Acknowledgements  xi Abbreviations  xiii Introduction: Rhetoric and realities  1 Religious dissenters  3 The emperors and the churches  6 Rhetoric and the realities of life  7 The themes of this book  10 SECTION I  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority 1. The emperor and the dissenters  17 The rhetoric of public welfare and divine peace  17 Imperial striving for unity  24 2. The realities of legislation  27 Sound and fury  28 Good citizens and infamous dissenters  30 The realities of responsive legislation  33 The local realities of legislation  36 3. The bishops and the dissenters  40 Coping with diversity  41 Coping with the emperor  44 4. The local limits of imperial and ecclesiastical power  50 Patronage and local landowners  51 Laxity or tolerance?  54


viii Contents 5. Authority and aggression  57 The narrative of Christian triumphalism  59 Triumph as legitimation  63 Vigour and violence  67 Initiating aggression  68 Supporting aggression  72 Controlling, punishing, and criticizing aggression  74 Imperial and ecclesiastical authority: Concluding remarks  79 SECTION II  People in rhetoric and realities 6. Individuals, groups, and plural possibilities in Late Antiquity  85 Naming, listing, and labelling  88 ‘Christians’ and Christian self-​perception  90 7. Otherness outside: Making pagans  92 Who were pagans? Stereotypes and realities  94 Flesh-​and-​blood pagans?  97 The first or last pagans? The self-​perception of pagans  100 8. Deviance or otherness inside: Construing heretics  105 The making of heresies—​and orthodoxy  106 Making Arians  111 Making Donatists  114 Making Pelagians  116 Heretics and social reality  118 9. Reactions  121 Accommodation: Conversion and conformity  122 Non-​violent resistance: Eloquent appeals  124 Non-​violent resistance: Silence and self-​segregation  127 Confrontations: Verbal and physical violence  131 People in rhetoric and realities: Some conclusions  134 SECTION III  Time, place, practices 10. The transformation of practices  139 In search of local religion  140 Sacrifices in Late Antiquity  144 The abhorrence of sacrifice  147 The realities of pollution?  151 Disappearances, continuities, and adaptations  154

Contents  ix 11. Economics of practices  158 Competing for resources  159 Competing philanthropic practices  161 Blaming civic philanthropy  165 12. Sacred places and spaces  168 Shared cult places  170 Rhetoric of purification and reality of aesthetization  172 13. Sacred times and spaces  176 Feasts and spectacles  178 Christians and the New Year  180 The reality of popular needs  184 Funerary and martyr cults: Complaints and realities  187 14. Rhetoric and realities of magic  195 Dissenters and magic accusations  197 Roman suspicions and Christian fears  200 From traditional civic rituals to magic  204 From dissent Christianity to magic  206 Your magic, my miracle  207 Time, place, practices: Some conclusions  211 Conclusion: The darkening age or the victory of John Doe?  214 Authority: Attempts to control and define  215 People: Attempts to categorize people  216 Practices: Attempts to control practices  218 Bibliography  221 Index locorum  261 General Index  269


Writing the acknowledgements is the most gratifying mo-

ment in writing this book. As I  have been busy with Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity for several years, there are many colleagues and friends whom I wish to thank for inspiring, guiding, or supporting me through the process. I wish to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to colleagues in Rome, Perugia, Catania, Granada, Santander, Yale, Oxford, Exeter, St Andrews, Hawarden, Frankfurt, Münster, Göttingen, Aarhus, and Budapest, just to mention a few great scholarly places where I  have attended colloquia and conferences over these years and met the authentic res publica litterarum. For their comments, advice, and hospitality, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to Rita Lizzi, Chiara Tommasi, Michele Salzman, Mar Marcos, Juana Torres, Alessandro Saggioro, Hartmut Leppin, Richard Flower, Morwenna Ludlow, Douglas Boin, Lucy Grig, Noel Lenski, Jan Willem Drijvers, Kate Cooper, Johannes Hahn, Jan Stenger, Anders-​Christian Jacobsen, Tobias Georges, Averil Cameron, Neil McLynn, and Marianne Sághy (for even though my thanks may no longer reach her, she will always be in my warmest thoughts). I am grateful to the entire team at Oxford University Press, especially Stefan Vranka for his patience during the process. I  owe special thanks for Ralph Mathisen for taking my book into the Oxford Studies in Late Antiquity series and the anonymous reviewers who meticulously commented on my manuscript, made constructive suggestions, and saved me from many errors. I wish to thank Albion M. Butters for conscientiously and patiently revising my English. I have had the wonderful opportunity to enjoy academic freedom as a research fellow, both at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies and the Centre of Excellence ‘Reason and Religious Recognition’, University of Helsinki. Both places have been inspiring, multidisciplinary sites of research and great sources of brainstorming for a classicist and ancient historian, who was encouraged to start thinking outside her frames of Antiquity. I am grateful for Sami Pihlström and xi

xii Acknowledgements Sari Kivistö for steady steering at the Collegium, and Risto Saarinen and Virpi Mäkinen for real recognition at the Centre of Excellence. My thanks are also due to the Ancient Team at the Centre, the leaders of the team, Ismo Dunderberg and Outi Lehtipuu, and the team members, Vilja Alanko, Raimo Hakola, Niko Huttunen, Ivan Miroshnikov, Marika Rauhala, Joona Salminen, Ulla Tervahauta, Siiri Toiviainen, Anna-​Liisa Rafael, Miira Tuominen, and Sami Ylikarjanmaa, for their advice over these years. My warmest thanks also go to other members at the Centre—​to name just a few of them, Hanne Appelqvist, Sara Gehlin, Heikki Haara, Heikki J. Koskinen, Ritva Palmén, Mikko Posti, and Panu-​Matti Pöykkö—​ for cooperation in the serious sense and community full of laughter, coffee, spinning, and boxing. I wish to thank my university colleagues Juliette Day, Alexandra Grigorieva, Marja-​ Leena Hänninen, Mari Isoaho, Tua Korhonen, Mia Korpiola, Antti Lampinen, Ilkka Lindstedt, Petri Luomanen, Nina Nikki, Katja Ritari, and Ville Vuolanto for their collaboration and inspiration. And what would a human be without her dear friends? Thanks for sharing and supporting, Johanna, Helena, Katja, Marja-​Leena, Mia, Ritva, Pia, Tuula, and Ulla! This book was in the making for quite a while. This led my spouse, Jarkko Tontti, unfaltering in his encouragement, to make remarks in a manner similar to those which Dorothea uttered to Casaubon in George Eliot’s Middlemarch: ‘And all your notes’, said Dorothea  .  .  .  ‘All the rows of volumes—​will you not now do what you used to speak of?—​will you not make up your mind what part of them you will use, and begin to write the book which will make your vast knowledge useful to the world?  .  .  .’ (George Eliot, Middlemarch, Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1895, p. 147) Jarkko comforted me that this will be my last book on the last pagans. Well, perhaps not, but it may be time to ‘take it as an opportunity’ and do something else for a change.


Abbreviations of the most well-​ known authors follow the conventions of Thesaurus Linguae Latinae and Liddell and Scott, Greek–​English Lexicon. ACO AntTard BMCR CAH CCSL CIL CP CSEL CTh CIust FIRA IGLS ILCV ILS HThR JbAC JECS JRS JThS LCL MAMA

Acta conciliorum oecumenicorum, ed. E. Schwartz. Berlin 1959 Antiquité tardive Bryn Mawr Classical Review The Cambridge Ancient History Corpus Christianorum Series Latina. Turnhout 1954–​ Corpus inscriptionum Latinarum. Berlin 1862–​ Classical Philology Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum Latinorum Codex Theodosianus Codex Iustinianus Fontes Iuris Romani antejustiniani II, ed. J. Baviera & J. Furlani. Firenze 1968 Inscriptions grecques et latines de Syrie Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae veteres. Berlin 1924–​1967 Inscriptiones Latinae selectae, ed. H. Dessau. 1892–​1916 Harvard Theological Review Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum Journal of Early Christian Studies Journal of Roman Studies Journal of Theological Studies Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge MA 1912–​ Monumenta Asiae Minoris Antiqua. Manchester 1928–​1988, London 1993 xiii

xiv Abbreviations MGH AA Monumenta Germaniae historica, scriptores antiquissimi MGH Cap. reg. Franc. Monumenta Germaniae historica, Capitularia regum Francorum MGH Leg. Monumenta Germaniae historica, Leges MGH SS rer. Merov. Monumenta Germaniae historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum NPNF Nicene and Post-​Nicene Fathers PG Patrologia Graeca, ed. J.–​P. Migne. Paris 1857–​1866 PL Patrologia Latina, ed. J.-​P. Migne. Paris 1844–​1855 RAC Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum RAL Rendiconti della classe di scienze morali, storiche e filologiche dell’Accademia dei Lincei SC Sources Chrétiennes. Paris: Cerf, 1943–​ Sirm. Constitutiones Sirmondianae VC Vigiliae Christianae

 Introduction: Rhetoric and realities


n her recently published The Darkening Age:  The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, Catherine Nixey shares a story of the all-​ embracing, ancient world that triumphant Christianity destroyed.1 Nixey’s book is, of course, a non-​fiction book aimed at a wider readership, not the academic work of a specialist written for other specialists. Such a straightforward narrative is probably sexier for the media and promises to get more online clicks than a research report filled with unresolved questions and reservations. In the research of the religious history of the late Roman world, however, we must exercise extreme caution in the construction of such ostentatious narratives. For this reason, Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity is not meant as a grand narrative. Instead, the book challenges those biased accounts that build on simplistic assessments of the categories of ‘paganism’ and ‘Christianity’. The focus of this book is on the religious dissident groups in the late Roman Empire in the period from the mid-​fourth century until the mid-​fifth century CE. I am not claiming that this is a pleasant story. By analysing religious dissent in Late Antiquity, I wish to demonstrate that the narrative is much more nuanced than the simple Christian triumph over the classical world. My interpretation is not sexy and sensational. Instead, it looks at everyday life, economic aspects, day-​ to-​day practices, and conflicts of interest. There are, and there have been, many straightforward melodramatic narratives over the centuries, both in academic research2 and in popular non-​fiction works. One of these has been the long-​standing debate on the last phases of Roman paganism. According to the traditional view, explicated especially by Andreas Alföldi and Herbert Bloch after World War II, pagan aristocrats were united as a heroic and cultured resistance against the advance of Christianity, and they even rose up in the final battle near the Frigidus in 394. The notion of the last pagan stand was promoted by Alföldi, Bloch, and others especially during and after the war, in a Zeitgeist in which it was perhaps characteristic to construe Christian-​ pagan relations in terms of dichotomy and conflict. 1. E.g., Nixey 2017, 247:  ‘The “triumph” of Christianity was complete.’ Nixey repeats the oft-​told story of Christian triumph since Edward Gibbon, and before Gibbon, of the Christian church historians. 2. Athanassiadi 2006 and Athanassiadi 2010, 14 interpret the intellectual and spiritual development of Late Antiquity as the change from the ‘zenith of acceptance’ (polydoxie) to the trend towards one-​sided thought (monodoxie); for criticism see Papaconstantinou 2011.

Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450. Maijastina Kahlos. Oxford University Press (2020). © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190067250.001.0001

2  Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450 Later generations have outlined the world of Late Antiquity in more nuanced ways than the interpretations put forward immediately during and after World War II. The traditional interpretation of conflict has been challenged since the 1960s by Alan Cameron, among others.3 The ‘new radical’ view refutes the idea of the last pagan resistance as a romantic myth and contends that there was neither a pagan reaction in a military sense nor a pagan revival in a cultural sense. The fact that there are now more abundant and multifarious sources available for late antique studies than ever before has also led to further reinterpretations of the religious changes of Late Antiquity (the so-​called Christianization) of the late Roman world. However, the traditional view of conflict tends to live on in modern scholarship. It pops up in different forms, especially in non-​specialist books, such as Nixey’s The Darkening Age. Why does the dichotomous and conflictual image of the pagan reaction continue to attract scholars (not to mention the general audience)? It seems that the melodrama of a last resistance with discernible heroes is both dramatic and simple enough to captivate more attention than the mundane, everyday nuances of economic and social issues.4 In Christian literary sources, the more committed or rigorist writers made a lot of noise, and it is this noise that has influenced the tendency to see the religious history of Late Antiquity primarily in antagonistic terms. The problems with these melodramatic grand narratives—​either Christian triumphalism (often, but not always, connected with the Christian confessional agenda) or a gloomy decline of classical civilization (often, but not always, connected with a secularist worldview)—​is that, in both cases, interpreters fall into the trap of taking the late antique, highly rhetorical sources at face value. This is why in Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity I address two aspects: rhetoric and realities. Both are necessary for understanding the religious history of the late Roman Empire, particularly the shifting position of dissenting religious groups. In terms of the first, the research focuses on the analysis of discourse used in late antique sources, moving principally in the textual world of the writers. The second aspect involves social and historical research, which surveys the practical circumstances of religious minorities in late Roman society. This approach does not entail an epistemologically naïve distinction between the ‘text world’ and ‘historical reality’. These are not separable. Thus, this research delves into the interplay between the manifest ideologies and daily life found in our sources. The hundred years under scrutiny, from c. 350 to c. 450 CE, stretch approximately from Constantius II’s reign until the end of Theodosius II’s reign. The time span covers the most crucial years of Christianization after the Constantinian turn and, consequently, the shifts in relative power between religious majorities 3. See also Alan Cameron 2011. 4. For the attraction of melodramas, see Lavan 2011a, lv–​lvi.

Introduction  3 and minorities. This period witnessed a significant transformation of late Roman society and a gradual shift from the world of polytheistic religions into the Christian Empire.5 However, this shift should not be plotted teleologically. Rather, in the fourth century, a wide variety of religions, cults, sects, beliefs, and practices coexisted and evolved in the Mediterranean world. The coexistence of religious groups led sometimes to violence, but these outbreaks seem to have been relatively infrequent and usually localized. My purpose in this book is to explore what impact these changes had on the position and life of different religious groups. In the late Roman Empire, constant flux between moderation and coercion marked the relations of religious groups, both majorities and minorities, as well as the imperial government and religious communities. The area under examination is the late Roman Empire, in both the East and West. In my analysis of the status and everyday life of different religious groups, I am not aiming at an exhaustive or systematic treatise on what is clearly a wide-​ranging topic. What I propose to provide is a detailed analysis of selected themes and a close reading of selected texts, tracing key elements and developments in the treatment of dissident religious groups. I have concentrated on specific themes, such as the limits of legislation, the end of sacrifices, the label of magic, and the categorization of dissidents into groups. Religious dissenters The religious groups under consideration are pagans and heretics. These terms are only shorthand:  ‘pagans’ for non-​Christians or polytheists; ‘heretics’ for Christians marked as deviants. Furthermore, these terms are relational. Pagans were a creation of Christian writers, of course; there would have been no pagans without the viewpoint of Christians. Likewise, the question of who is a heretic naturally depends on the perceiver.6 I  am inclined to call the religious groups under scrutiny religious dissenters or dissidents, as well as deviant groups or religious deviants. In late Roman society, relations between the religious majorities and minorities fluctuated. Over the course of the fourth century, Christianity shifted from a minority position to the majority one, or at least a strong minority, while the Graeco-​Roman religions gradually fell to a minority position, or a silent and weakened majority.7 It is impossible to precisely define the relative proportions 5. The Christian Roman Empire here means the empire governed by Christian emperors, as in many regions it may have remained non-​Christian in other aspects. 6. For discussions on the term ‘polytheist’, see Cribiore 2013, 7. The use of the terms ‘pagan’ and ‘heretic’ is covered in more detail in ­chapters 7 and 8. 7. For the majorities and minorities in Late Antiquity, see Brown 1961; Kaegi 1966, 249; Haehling 1978; Barnes 1989, 308–​309; Barnes 1995; MacMullen 2009, 102–​103; Alan Cameron 2011, 178–​182; and Salzman 2002 on Roman aristocracy; except for Barnes, scholars usually estimate that the majority of the elite remained pagan up to c. 400.

4  Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450 of the religious groups in the Roman Empire. At best, we can make guesstimates. Moreover, the proportions of religious groups varied by area. Therefore, it is problematic to speak of religious minorities, because we cannot specify which groups—​for example, pagans or Christians—​were in the majority or minority in a specific place at a specific time. The same applies to the power relations between the Nicene and other Christian groups (e.g., Homoians, or ‘Arians’, as they were called by the Nicene Christians). In certain areas and spheres of politics at specific times, as in the imperial court during the reigns of Constantius II and Valens, the Homoians held the upper hand while the Nicenes (or pro-​Nicenes) were at risk of being marginalized as deviants.8 Consequently, for most of the fourth century, the boundaries for the normative orthodoxy were in flux. Thus, what was ‘orthodox’ and what was ‘heretical’ were under continuous negotiation and struggle. Nicene Christianity eventually became the imperially supported church and the mainstream institution as late as the end of the fourth century, calling itself the Catholic Church.9 Nonetheless, in terms of the proportions and power relations that were significant, one cannot overemphasize the regional differences within the Roman Empire.10 What constituted the dominant group in one area did not hold true in another region. In this book, I  examine the ways in which dissident religious groups were construed as religious outsiders in late Roman society. The question of outsiders, or ‘aliens’ (alieni, allotrioi) in relation to ‘our’ religion and society, is a matter of who is outside, but also who is within; accordingly, it requires a formation of a mode of thinking about insiders (nostri, oikeioi).11 Imperial legislation followed the logic that those who were ‘aliens’ or ‘foreigners’ in matters of religion were also aliens or foreigners in the eyes of Roman law.12 Another question is how frequently this judicial infamia was handed down as a penalty and how significantly it influenced dissidents’ everyday lives in practice. Citizenship was only one aspect of social status and practical circumstances. It is unavoidable that humans divide the world into ‘us’ and ‘them’. Both individuals and groups distinguish themselves from the other and, by construing differences, make sense of themselves. There is no self or collective identity without

8. According to McLynn 2005, 86, in the 380s–​390s, the Nicenes did not necessarily enjoy an overall ascendancy; Barnes 1997, 1–​16, however, regards Homoians as already defeated by that point. Positions of power are not, of course, the same as the number of adherents. 9. The status of the creed settled in the Council of Nicaea (in 325) came to be recognized only gradually as the divinely inspired and unalterable standard of faith. For the complexities of the fourth-​century doctrinal disputes, see Ayres 2004, 139–​239; Gwynn 2007; Gwynn 2010; Wiles 1996. 10. Fredriksen 2008, 99 estimates that the groups outside the Nicene church constituted the majority of the total population in the fourth century and perhaps later. 11. The issue of oikeioi and allotrioi in the fourth century is highlighted by Elm 2012, 432. 12. Gaudemet 1984, 7–​37. See c­ hapter 2.

Introduction  5 an other or others. Subsequently, the other is necessary in the construction of the self, with the self and the other being dependent on and complementary to one another.13 A group or community marks, clarifies, and checks its boundaries through defining the other. To the other are often ascribed the qualities that a group or community prefers not to see in itself. Therefore, the ways in which late antique religious dissenters were construed as a religious other reveal the processes of identity-​building in late Roman society. Here identity is not understood as a stable entity but rather as something shaped, probed, and negotiated, being always in the making.14 The use of the term ‘identity’ in classical and early Christian studies has often been criticized. According to critics, identity is a modern and thus anachronistic concept, and is therefore not a proper tool for understanding people in the ancient world. Nonetheless, we are bound to our modern language in other respects as well—​I am here writing in modern English, to use just one example. To take my point to the extreme (this is an argument ad absurdum, I admit), to properly remain within the period under scrutiny, should we use the vocabulary and concepts of the ancients only? In the case of the religious dissidents, this would mean employing terms such as ‘divine wrath’, ‘pollution’, and ‘demonic machinery’—​all in Latin and Greek. Therefore, while we cannot avoid modern concepts, we can be aware of the hazards of using them. As Denise Buell appositely points out, ‘the problem is not that modern ideas are distorting historical analysis, since we can only interpret the past from the vantage point of the present’.15 Modern concepts like identity and othering, often taken from sociological research, are part of historical analysis from an etic or observer-​oriented perspective—​that is, observations made from outside. To impose classifications from a purely etic perspective necessarily imports modern categories and conceptions. Therefore, it is imperative to analyse emic terminology as well—​that is, the ancient terms and concepts employed in ancient contexts.16 Historical research is a continuous act of balancing between etic and emic perspectives. Nonetheless, it is clear that the emic or subject-​oriented approach—​that is, from the inside—​is not adequate. We need holistic analysis from the outside, but using modern conceptual tools. The construction of the other is hierarchical, and this applies to late Roman society, too. Making differences is based on power relations: ranking superiors 13. For a general introduction to theories of otherness, see Kahlos 2011a. For a theoretical discussion, see Stuart Hall 1997, 234–​238; Green 1985, 49–​50; Judith Lieu 2004, 269; Shusterman 1998, 107–​112; Gruenwald 1994, 9–​10; Woolf 1998; Woolf 2011; Jonathan Hall 1997. 14. For useful discussions on the use of identity in modern scholarship and on the criticism of its use in premodern texts, see Iricinschi and Zellentin 2008b, 2, 11–​12 n. 40; Judith Lieu 2004, 11–​17; Cribiore 2013, 138. 15. Buell 2005, 4; see also Buell 2005, 14, remarking that ‘the question of the viability of using these [modern] categories . . . is partly about how to formulate an interpretive framework that accounts for historical difference while still being intelligible to the interpreter. . . . We can place modern categories into conversation with ancient ones without effacing their differences.’ 16. Headland, Pike, and Harris 1990—​esp. Harris 1990, 48–​61 and Pike 1990, 62–​74. See also Stratton 2007, 14–​16 on emic and etic perspectives in the research of ancient ‘magic’.

6  Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450 and inferiors morally, existentially, and/​or socially. Very seldom can we speak of groups or communities being held as equals. The representation of a group or individual as inferior, subordinate, alien, foreign, or abnormal—​as compared to the self—​is called ‘othering’.17 In Late Antiquity, we observe othering discourses and othering patterns of thinking that diminish or entirely ignore common features between the other and the self. The other always includes the repressed aspects of the self. Othering signifies subordination or segregation. The emperors and the churches ‘Imperial power’ is here understood as the emperors in both the East and the West, the imperial courts, and the administration, as well as the elites closely connected to the courts and in a position to influence imperial decision-​making. The most important sources for the imperial discourse of power are imperial proclamations, letters, and legislation. Panegyrics addressed to emperors reveal themes and attitudes important to the elites close to the imperial establishment. In the fourth century, the Roman emperors adopted an increasingly autocratic style of government, and this is apparent in the imperial rhetoric. As we will see in ­chapter 2, imperial power (like any other form of power) was not self-​evidently fixed, but constantly negotiated at every level of law-​making and government. The authoritative language of legislation was used not only to manifest imperial power, but also to create and reinforce it. ‘Ecclesiastical power’ refers here to church leaders—​mainly bishops, whose authority was increasing during the fourth and fifth centuries. There was no uniform church, and Christian congregations were miscellaneous assemblages of adherents. Therefore, we should speak of Christian churches in the plural rather than the Church in the singular.18 The mainstream church or mainstream Christianity is understood in this case as the Christian inclination that in this period gradually became the dominant church supported by the emperors, usually called the Catholic Church in scholarship. I prefer to avoid the term ‘Catholic Church’, which is problematic because most churches of the period regarded themselves as catholic, meaning ‘universal’. For example, the North African Christian group—​called Donatists by their rivals and subsequent generations of scholars—​considered itself the catholic church. It regarded its opponents merely as traditores or Caeciliani, basing the name on the rival bishop of Carthage, Caecilianus.19 The terms ‘mainstream church’ or ‘mainstream Christianity’ are also problematic, because it is far from clear which church was prevailing in a 17. ‘Othering’ refers here to the representation of a person or group of people as fundamentally alien from another, frequently more powerful, group. See Stuart Hall 1997, 258–​259; J. Z. Smith 1985, 5; Klostergaard Petersen 2011,  19–​50. 18. Regarding the problems of speaking of one Christianity, see Salzman 2008, 189 and Hopkins 1998, 90–​94. 19. Shaw 1992, 7–​14, esp. 8 on the hegemonic domination of the labelling process of Donatists.

Introduction  7 specific region at a specific time. The ‘Donatist’ church was dominant in North Africa for most of the fourth century. Furthermore, it was not the same church that enjoyed imperial backing all the time. As is well known, the emperors Constantius II and Valens were sympathetic to the Homoian (‘Arian’) inclination and supported Homoian bishops, while other emperors, especially Theodosius I, showed their support to the Nicene (‘catholic’) inclination—​the future mainstream church. The period under scrutiny saw the Christianization of imperial and ecclesiastical discourses of control. I analyse the ways in which these differed from the earlier discourses of power in regard to religious dissenters. We can observe divergences from earlier rhetoric legitimating Roman and imperial power, but also remarkable continuity.20 Furthermore, when studying the relationship between imperial and ecclesiastical powers, we can see both collaboration and rivalry. The rhetoric of both the imperial government and the leading bishops often argued for a correlation between the unity of the empire and that of the church. In the ecclesiastical discourses of power, we recognize rhetoric of conviction and persuasion as well as that of control and discipline. Averil Cameron’s Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire: The Development of Christian Discourse (1991) characterized Christian rhetoric as a ‘totalising discourse’ in the sense that it aimed at a comprehensive interpretation of reality, subsuming or excluding other interpretations. The Christian message thereby became a complete worldview.21 Rhetoric and the realities of life Late antique writers often conveyed a simplified and codified perception of their lived world. This work studies the interplay between the manifest ideologies and daily realities. My analysis of imperial and ecclesiastical rhetoric draws attention to their attempts to eliminate ambiguity or dissent, as well as to ways in which religious dissenters and outsiders were represented in rhetoric. In Graeco-​Roman Antiquity, harsh slander was a ubiquitous element in the discursive warfare of political disputes, law courts, conflicts between religious groups, and debates between philosophical schools. Christian writers’ invectives against their theological adversaries, or bishops’ denunciation of pagans, followed well-​established conventions of polemic. In the analysis of polemical sources, we should focus on what their rhetoric reveals about their aims and ambitions and how the writers constructed a reality of their own through text. This is a step away from thinking about late antique ecclesiastical writing (for example, heresiological and 20. Discourse here is not simply a collection of sentences. It is not merely a form of knowledge but also a practice, since it confers and regulates power. Discourse and discursive practices are specific to each culture at a given period, and they are thus the historically situated frames of reference that validate what counts as knowledge in a certain historical context. Foucault 1971; Lincoln 1992, 3–​5; Perkins 2009, 6–​7; Stratton 2007, 18. 21. Averil Cameron 1991, esp. 220–​221. See also Hargis 1999, 7–​8 and de Bruyn 1993, 406.

8  Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450 hagiographical texts) as sources of information; we should rather understand them as performative or functional texts. I extend the scope of the analysis to the complexities of social reality, contextualizing the dissident groups and their social circumstances. As mentioned above, the status of groups is studied on different levels of rhetoric and reality. The practical circumstances and complex religious atmosphere can be determined not only from literary sources, but also from archaeological evidence, inscriptions, and papyri. Literary sources may often convey a different picture than the archaeological, epigraphical, or papyrological evidence. A  variety of non-​literary sources reveal that religious diversity persisted or even increased in Late Antiquity. Whereas a writer could celebrate the destruction of shrines and idols in a certain region, archaeological evidence often reveals a less dramatic picture (for example, the continuity of practices or the simple abandonment and decay of shrines).22 Literary sources—​even by the very same author, depending on the perspective or the genre of their writing—​give inconsistent representations of the religious and social circumstances. For example, Isidore, a presbyter of Pelusium, magnanimously proclaimed in the 430–​440s that Hellenism (that is, paganism) had vanished: ‘Hellenism, made dominant for so many years, by such pains, such expenditure of wealth, such feat of arms, has vanished from the earth.’ At the same time, the very same Isidore was caught up in disputes with pagans, as revealed by his letters addressed to pagan opponents; moreover, he is known to have written a treatise titled Against the Pagans, which is unfortunately no longer extant.23 Other challenges in interpreting our sources are topoi, literary conventions or traditional motifs and themes. In their sermons, bishops made ample mention of pagans, the purpose of which varied according to the motivations of each writer. There are numerous representations of pagans in fourth-​and fifth-​century Christian literature, which include, for example, the motif of good pagans and the theme of wretched pagans engaged in magical practices. Looking at the texts, it is often clear that we are dealing with rhetorical commonplaces in which the real humans are far away. In other cases, it is equally evident that writers are referring to pagans in factual everyday situations, even though they are treating their subject in adherence to the literary conventions of their erudite tradition. Although various labels and stereotypes, such as pagan blindness and rusticity, are used to depict these people and their practices, they still have some equivalence in quotidian reality. For example, Augustine of Hippo and Maximus of Turin complain of people clinging to idolatrous rituals and taking part in pagan 22. Garnsey and Humfress 2001, 165. See, for example, Goodman 2011, 165–​193 on iconoclasm in texts (triumphalism) versus archaeological evidence, and Sears 2011, 231 on a model of inexorable Christianization versus archaeology. 23. Isid. Pelus. ep. 1.270 (PG 78, 344). Trans. Kaegi 1966, 243, modified. For Isidore’s correspondence and discussions with pagans, see Jones 2014, 83–​84.

Introduction  9 festivities. In addition to these pagans existing and acting in factual social contexts, it is possible to see that they were also used as a theological construction, which functioned as a mirror image in which one’s own theological views and moral conduct could be tested, and defended. Thus, there are pagans and ‘pagans’ in the same way as there are Jews and ‘Jews’ in early Christian literature: theological Jews were vital for the construction of Christian identity.24 The complexity of different levels can be observed in testimonies in which researchers have found local forms of religiosity in Late Antiquity, construed by ecclesiastical writers and councils as ‘magical’, ‘pagan’, or ‘heretical’, according to the literary conventions of the time. We will see, especially in ­chapter 10, how religious diversity persisted despite the ideals outlined by ecclesiastical leaders and despite the manifestations promulgated by the imperial administration. Historical sources tend to highlight the dramatic, violent, and spectacular at the expense of repeated routines and undisturbed everyday life. They are also wont to focus on specific and exceptional incidents. They do not make comments on peaceful conditions when everything goes as expected. Therefore, realities here also refer to the compromises made by emperors who tried to manage the diversity that persisted in their empire. Furthermore, the realities of life included daily economic concerns. Dissident groups could be marginalized by directing sanctions against their economic relations and juridical status. It was no minor issue which of the churches (e.g., either the Caecilian or Donatist church in North Africa) enjoyed imperial privileges. Obviously, the social life filled with negotiations and compromises was more complex than church leaders wished. The day-​to-​day realities lead us to the problematic concept of Christianization, as the term ‘Christianization’ may refer to both the process and its results.25 As Jitse Dijkstra remarks, it is useful to ask from whose angle we look at Christianization—​ from our perspective or an ancient perceiver’s. Furthermore, we should consider whether Christianization was the process of a person, a group, a region, or Roman society in general.26 Christianization has as many definitions as there were definers. Each late antique writer, Christian leader, Roman administrator, and individual had a notion of his or her own of what becoming Christian and making the empire, region, or household Christian implied. Each modern scholar also has her or his own views of what constituted Christianization in the late Roman Empire—​depending on the scholar’s perspective—​be it classics, social history, the history of ideas, systematic theology, biblical studies, church history, religious studies, archaeology, or art history, among other things—​not to mention her or his age, gender, nationality, and religious/​non-​religious inclination. For my part, 24. Kraabel 1985, 219–​246. 25. On problems with the concept of Christianization, see Inglebert 2010, 9–​17; Busine 2015, 2–​5; Leppin 2012, 247–​278. 26. Dijkstra 2008, 16–​17. Similar problems are involved with the use of the term ‘Romanization’: see Woolf 1998,  5–​7.

10  Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450 I look at Christianization as part of a wider process of religious transformations in the Mediterranean world, which embraced what we distinguish and call by the separate names of Graeco-​Roman, Christian, Jewish, and Manichaean religions.27 The themes of this book My discussion starts with Section I: Imperial and ecclesiastical authority, which first focuses on imperial and ecclesiastical rhetoric of power and then observes both the interaction and the power struggle between the imperial and ecclesiastical authorities. The rhetoric of alienation and aggression is counterbalanced by a discussion of the limits of power, such as the realities of making laws. I analyse these dynamics of power on the macro level of the state and church. The chapters explore the development of the legal status of religious dissidents, the attempts to enhance religious unity by both the emperors and bishops’ authorities, and the rhetoric of public welfare. As we will see, the imperial and ecclesiastical discourses in legislation and the canons of church councils were offset by the limits of power—​in making and enforcing laws, negotiating power in ecclesiastical disputes, and taking local circumstances, such as the patronage of local landowners, and local diversity into account. In Section I, the categories ‘pagans’ and ‘heretics’ are treated as a given because imperial and ecclesiastical discourses build and maintain these categories. However, we need to move beyond these categories. Therefore, in Section II: People in rhetoric and realities, I analyse the construction of ‘pagans’ and ‘heretics’. In due course, these categories are questioned and finally deconstructed. Section II surveys both the rhetoric of separation against dissident groups and the relations between religious groups. Social, religious, and cultural encounters were complex moments in which the identities of groups or individuals were never fixed but always multivariable, fluid, and negotiated. The realities and pragmatic solutions of everyday life included accommodation and flexibility in interfaith relations as well as aggression and resistance. After questioning and deconstructing the ancient and modern use of these categories, we move on to Section III:  Time, place, practices, which offers an alternative way of looking at the late antique religious world: through local religion. This is an attempt to get beyond categorization, labelling, and the listing of groups in the imperial and ecclesiastical writings—​thus restoring agency to the individuals. The purpose of this section is to show how late antique people were not passive recipients of change, but instead actively took part in creative interaction. Therefore, I explore how the dissident religious groups coped with day-​to-​day social life in urban and rural communities, and I analyse social, economic, and cultural structures. Rhetoric by emperors and ecclesiastical writers 27. For the religious koine of the Mediterranean world, see Stroumsa 2008, 30.

Introduction  11 against practices, feasting, and places was balanced by the realities of everyday life. Many traditional rituals and local communal practices went through a series of metamorphoses in the fourth and fifth centuries, and this section explores the transformations of such practices as sacrificial rituals, as well as their economics and the competition over and sharing of holy places and sacred times. Section III ends with a discussion of how the label of ‘magic’ functioned as a boundary marker between what was understood as the proper religion and the deviant one.


Imperial and ecclesiastical authority


he chapters in this section look at the attempts of the late antique imperial government and ecclesiastical leaders to eliminate ambiguity, diversity, and dissent. At the same time, the constraints that these attempts encountered are discussed. What was the potential to achieve religious unity, and what were the limits? In this section, the groups ‘pagans’ and ‘heretics’ are treated as a given, because imperial and ecclesiastical rhetoric built and maintained these categories and based their totalizing discourse on them.1 I analyse these dynamics at the macro level of the state and church, focusing first on imperial and ecclesiastical rhetoric of power concerning religious dissident groups, and then observing both the interaction and power struggles between imperial and ecclesiastical authority. The chapters survey the development of the legal status of religious dissidents, the aims of religious unity by both the imperial and ecclesiastical bodies, and the rhetoric of public welfare. The power discourses, comprising imperial and ecclesiastical rhetoric in legislation and the canons of church councils, were counterbalanced by the limits of power—​the realities, for instance, of making and enforcing laws, negotiating power in ecclesiastical disputes, and considering local circumstances. The important topics here are the patronage of local landowners, local diversity, and attempts by imperial powers to create balance between different religious groups. The concepts of ‘power’ and ‘authority’ overlap each other in significant ways, though there are nonetheless important differences. I take ‘power’ as a combination of physical domination and persuasion—​as in the case of Roman imperial power over the subjects of the empire. For its part, ‘authority’ is a socially constructed form of power to which members of the society submit without coercion as long as its legitimacy is recognized. The idea of authority is fluid and flexible. As authority is socially constructed, it is constantly negotiated and renegotiated by members of the society.2 Power (and authority even less so) is by no means the same as the exercise of physical domination or violence. Power can be based on persuading people to bend to the authority that all accept as collectively valid, but in many cases, especially in Graeco-​Roman Antiquity, it may be based on physical domination as well. Power was usually a combination of persuasion and physical domination, as is well shown in the analysis of power and persuasion in

1. ‘Totalizing discourse’ refers to a comprehensive interpretation of reality, such as the Christian one in Late Antiquity. Averil Cameron 1991, esp. 220–​221; de Bruyn 1993, 406. 2. This Weberian outlining of authority is discussed, for example, in Kangas, Korpiola, and Ainonen 2013,  ix–​xi.


14  Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450 the late Roman Empire by Peter Brown.3 Roman imperial power was typically established on the basis of, and maintained by, both physical domination and persuasion. One cannot play down the fact that Roman supremacy throughout the provinces (and beyond) was based on the use and threat of violence. Neither the threat of violence nor its use can be ignored in the research of Christianization. Nonetheless, violence is not the whole picture. The religious rivalries of Late Antiquity involved authority and persuasion, power and physical violence, domination, and economic pressures. The term ‘coercive turn’ illustrates this change. Coercion here implies not only physical force and violence, but also hegemony in economic relations, such as those between landowners and tenants.4 The Foucauldian notion that power not only entails the exercise of physical force, but also language that shapes and constructs reality, explains the attempts of the imperial government and ecclesiastical leaders to constrain and control practices and sources of knowledge. For example, since the early principate, the continuous concern of emperors for divination, to gain knowledge of the future, was related to the maintenance of authority. Emperors sought to restrain unsanctioned private soothsaying, which they believed to be connected with conspiracy and treason. This was associated with the concept of ‘magic’, which was one of the gravest crimes in Roman law. Consequently, magic was the most dangerous label for religious dissenters to be associated with in imperial legislation.5 Religion and power/​authority were intrinsically intertwined in late Roman society. Religion had a central role in forming collective identities and defining relations with other groups in the Graeco-​Roman world. In Late Antiquity, the role of religion may have even become more significant than previously. In their refashioning of the authoritative metanarrative of society, Christian leaders successfully combined the Christian rhetoric of persuasion and conviction with the Graeco-​Roman elite discourse and the Roman imperial language of control and discipline. However, these discourses were not static but prone to change. In the early imperial period, as Judith Perkins shows, Christians as a cultural movement had challenged the totalizing elite discourse, employing universalizing language to create a cosmopolitan trans-​empire identity for themselves, thus disrupting the imperial elite’s monopoly on authority. Ultimately, the imperial elite was

3. Brown 1992, esp. 7–​11. 4. For the Foucauldian notions of interwovenness of power, knowledge, and violence, see Jacobs 2003, 6–​7 and Lenski 2009, 2–​4. Foucault distinguishes power from violence that does not require any dynamic exchange between active agents but is based rather on physical domination over passive subjects. Lenski 2009, 3–​4 takes coercion as both physical force and the domination of economic relationships, such as production and property-​holding. The term ‘coercive turn’ is used, for example, by Drake 2008, 450–​451; for discussions on coercion and physical violence, see also Sizgorich 2009; Gaddis 2005; Mayer 2013, 1–​19. 5. For attempts at controlling and building an imperial monopoly of knowledge, see Fögen 1993, 254–​289. For the interconnection between politics, religious policies, and magic, see Wischmeyer 1998, 95; Funke 1967, 145–​151; MacMullen 1966, 129–​162.

Imperial and ecclesiastical authority  15 transformed into a Christian elite, and its rhetoric was replaced by new forms of Christian totalizing discourses.6 By its nature, discourse is about power. In achieving enduring social control, it is even more effective than the brute exercise of force. In Late Antiquity, emperors and church leaders sought to determine the right behaviour and correct belief, and to control what could be said (and imagined). Since discourse constructs social meanings, it is a means by which power is distributed in the matrix of the power relations of a society. In imperial and ecclesiastical rhetoric—​for example, in legislative texts and the sermons of bishops—​certain religious groups were argued to be alien to the Roman order. Roman power and order were believed to be divine in origin. Consequently, appropriate forms of worship and conceptions of the divine were thought to be crucial for the successful government of the empire and even for the maintenance of the cosmic order. As one imperial decree stated, religion was the foundation of the empire: ‘We are aware that our state is sustained more by religious practices (religionibus) than through offices, physical labour, and sweat.’7 In imperial legislation and ecclesiastical polemic, religious dissenters were labelled as belonging outside the Roman state, Graeco-​Roman civilization, and oikoumene—​and also, in the crudest cases, outside humankind. Thus, at issue was who was inside and who was outside, or who was Roman and who was alien (alienus, allotrios). This is what Ambrose of Milan hinted at when refuting the appeal made by the Roman senator Symmachus (345–​c. 402) for the continuation of imperial support for the traditional Roman cults. For Ambrose, Christian was identical with ‘Roman’, and pagan with ‘non-​Roman’, or even barbarian. He asserts that the only thing that pagan Rome had in common with barbarians was idolatry, and he portrays the personification of Rome by saying ‘I did not know God is the one thing I once had in common with barbarians.’ The implication is that Rome has now become Christian, and it finally has nothing in common with barbarians. Consequently, those who still remain pagans are barbarians, not proper Romans.8

6. Perkins 2009, 28–​32, 177–​180. See Jacobs 2003, 9, 22–​23 on postcolonial analyses of imperial and colonial discourses. 7. CTh 16.2.16 (in 361):  magis religionibus quam officiis et labore corporis vel sudore nostram rem publicam contineri. Pharr 1952, 443 translates religiones as ‘religion’. 8. Ambr. ep. 73.7 (=ep. 18 Maur.) (CSEL 82.3). Trans. Liebeschuetz 2005, 83. Ambrose’s aim was to embarrass the aristocratic Roman pagans (such as Symmachus himself) by connecting them with barbarians.


The emperor and the dissenters


s was pointed out in the introduction, the fourth-​century Roman emperors adopted an ever more autocratic style of government and, consequently, more autocratic discourse. The harsh-​sounding rhetoric in imperial legislation was meant not only to manifest imperial power, but also to formulate and enhance it. This change, sometimes depicted by the term ‘coercive turn’, is apparent especially in the imperial rhetoric against religious dissident groups. As we will see, however, imperial power was not inevitably stable. It had to be continuously negotiated and legitimated at every level of government. In particular, imperial power had to be legitimised on three levels. First, it needed to conform to established conventions. Second, these conventions had to be validated by appealing to beliefs and values shared by both those in domination and subordinates. And third, specific power relations had to be reinforced by those in subordinate positions showing some kind of consent to it.1 The emperor had to ensure the collaboration of the local upper classes in the cities and provinces, including the ecclesiastical elite. Unpopular imperial policies could easily lose their force in the silent ‘go-​slow’ resistance.2 Furthermore, the emperor was expected to act with a certain code of civil kindness (civilitas, clementia, philanthropia). He was a monarch with absolute power and the air of divinity, but he was still expected to rule with civility and take into account a supposed consensus of subjects. Thus, even though the ancient discussions lacked such modern concepts as ‘human rights’, writers continuously evaluated the conduct and action of those in power and distinguished between malicious tyrants and civilized rulers.3 The rhetoric of public welfare and divine peace Imperial authority was reinforced with the rhetoric of public welfare. The order and welfare of the empire, and even the whole of humankind, was based, it was claimed, on the maintenance of good relations with the divine (pax deorum, pax Dei). The emperors represented themselves as the guardians of these 1. For legitimacy as a multidimensional concept, see Beetham 1991, 15–​16. 2. Brown 1992, 3, 23. Here Brown compares the later Roman Empire with modern colonial regimes. 3. Lenski 2002, 211–​212; Gaddis 2005, 17–​18. On the long tradition of Hellenistic treatises on rulers as philosopher-​kings, see Brown 1992, 9.

Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450. Maijastina Kahlos. Oxford University Press (2020). © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190067250.001.0001

18  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority proper relations on behalf of the community. It was the main responsibility of the emperor to preserve the benevolence of the divine forces towards the commonwealth. We could speak of the maintenance of public security or ‘national security’, for although these terms are anachronistic, they show that we should not take the maintenance of good relations with the divine in Graeco-​Roman and Christian Antiquity as only a religious issue. The traditional civic religio—​the proper observance of the cults of the gods—​was considered the basis of the stability, morality, and well-​being of the empire. Order and welfare were articulated with the term pax deorum (the peace of the gods), which included peace and harmony in society as well as in the universe. Participation in civic religious life was connected with loyalty to the emperor. During the imperial period, the personal health of the emperor (salus Augusti) came to be connected with public welfare. In earlier Roman thought, religious adherence in this sense had not been a matter of belief, but of loyalty. A similar pattern of thought—​mutatis mutandis—​ is found in the legislation of Christian emperors (e.g., Theodosius I, Honorius, Arcadius, Theodosius II) in which the position of the Christian ‘orthodoxy’ was reinforced.4 Religious unity and the correct form of religion were presented as a matter of state security, and the emperor was put forth as the guardian of the correct religion in the proclamation of Theodosius II during the Nestorian controversy. Here he announces that ‘the condition of our state’ depends on piety towards God, and that ‘there is a close connection and affinity between the two’. Furthermore, he says that these are in fact linked, and they develop each other through their mutual progress. It is thus necessary to keep the condition of the empire free from trouble and rivalry.5 In this case, the role of Theodosius II reminds us of the traditional role of the Roman emperor as the guardian of pax deorum. In another announcement, Theodosius II identifies dissensions and rivalries as the principal cause for ‘the present misfortunes’, such that all the affairs of the empire would be improved when the members of the church and the correct faith are united.6 Loyalty was also shown to the Christian emperor in religious terms. Even though the emperor could not be venerated as a divine being as before, he was nonetheless a holy being who was the essential link to the divine sphere on behalf of the empire. As Raymond Van Dam shows, thinking about the divine and thinking about emperors overlapped in vocabulary and imagery. Religious ideas, pagan and Christian alike, offered symbolic idioms for constructing and legitimating imperial power; in turn, imperial representations provided symbolic idioms for outlining and understanding the divine, meaning pagan gods as well as the Christian deity. This intersection is perceivable in the shifting views of emperors 4. ‘National security’ is the term used in Drake 2008, 460; Drake 2011, 198. 5. Theodosius, Sacra ad Cyrillum et ad singulos metropolitas 3 (ACO 1.1.1, 114–​115); Festugière 1982, 173. 6. Theodosius, Sacra ad Symeonem Stylitam (ACO 1.1.4, 5); Festugière 1982, 471.

The emperor and the dissenters  19 and their equal or subordinated co-​rulers vis-​à-​vis the varieties of Christian interpretations of the relationship between the Father God and the Son God.7 The order and welfare of the empire was now based on pax Dei, the peace of God. The ‘orthodoxy’ defined by emperors became the marker of loyalty to the imperial power. As has often been stressed, the spheres of ‘political’ and ‘religious’, which in the modern (Western) world are separated, were intertwined in the ancient world, including the Christian Roman Empire, in such a manner that we should not take them as distinct entities. Simon Price remarks that the conventional distinction between religion and politics tends to obscure their similarity, as they are both ‘ways of systematically constructing power’.8 The worldview based on divine favour and indignation was shared by Christians and pagans alike. Consequently, the idea of public welfare predicated on good relations with the divine and the emperor’s responsibility for maintaining them were recognized by all circles in the later Roman Empire: emperors themselves, their propagandists, intellectuals, ecclesiastical leaders, all religious groups, and even dissidents. The common concern was how to govern the empire in the correct way to please the divine forces.9 How was the traditional rhetoric of public welfare used in relation to deviant religious groups? Those groups and individuals who did not conform to the normative religious order supported by the emperors were represented as threatening proper relations with the divine. As transgressors of the divine order, dissident groups were thought to bring pollution upon their communities and consequently draw down divine indignation and wrath on the whole of society. Therefore, it was the duty of the emperors to regulate the religious life within the empire and avoid (at any cost) the divine indignation that religious transgressors might invoke. This avoidance of divine anger justified the coercion of deviant religious groups.10 At stake were public welfare and security.11 Dissident individuals and deviant groups could be regarded as saboteurs of that security. Those who did not act, believe, or formulate their doctrine in accord with the emperors were not loyal subjects and properly Roman. They did not belong to the empire and they were not oikeioi—​they were alieni and allotrioi.

7. See Van Dam 2007b, 226–​227, 251–​267, 346–​347 on how the making of Christian theology overlapped with the making of new political philosophy. Theodosius I, for example, supported the Nicene doctrine, according to which the Father and the Son were coordinate, while at the same time, he and his son Arcadius were represented as co-​equal senior emperors. 8. Price 1984, 247. 9. Elm 2012, 480–​481. For example, concern for the appropriate comprehension of the divine connected with the welfare of the empire was shared by Gregory of Nazianzus and Emperor Julian: see Elm 2012, 11, 265, 300. 10. The divine indignation towards deviant religious groups was used by the pagan Tetrarchs as well as the late fourth-​and early fifth-​century Christian emperors; see Digeser 2006, 73–​74. 11. For citing the good of the community as a justification of religious oppression, see Kahlos 2009, 34–​35, 121–​123. In particular, medical analogies were used to validate religious coercion: the community had to be cured of the diseases of undesirable religious inclinations.

20  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority In the Christian Empire, Christianity was considered the instrument that protected and saved the oikoumene. It was the responsibility of the emperor as the vice-​regent of God on earth to guarantee the correct interpretation of the nature of God.12 Thus, the fate of the imperial power and the empire was intrinsically linked with the unity and harmony of Christianity. This is why the definition of the doctrine became so imperative in the fourth and fifth centuries. This connection between the welfare of the state and correct Christian doctrine is highlighted in the sixth-​century legislation of Justinian. He declared that the security of the empire was guaranteed not by arms, soldiers, military leaders, or imperial intellect, but only by the providence of the supreme Trinity.13 The concern of the Christian emperors and their entourage was as a continuation of the age-​old Roman tradition in which it was precisely the public religion (religio) that was dutifully performed to maintain the security and prosperity of the empire. Correspondingly, divine anger could be provoked by religious misbehaviour or neglect (religio neglecta), and natural catastrophes and all kinds of disasters resulted from the indignation of divine forces. Religious misbehaviour involved impiety towards the gods (asebeia, impietas), but it was also regarded as a transgression against the state.14 In the second and third centuries, the Christians had occasionally been accused of bringing misfortunes down on the community.15 Christian replies relied on the same mental framework as the accusations. Christian writers usually flipped the charges back on pagans, arguing that it was the pagans who drew the divine indignation. As the connection between religious misbehaviour and divine retribution in the form of calamities had been raised vis-​à-​vis deviant groups, such as Christians and Manichaeans in the reign of the Tetrarchs, the thought pattern was shared by pagans and Christians alike.16 The correlation between the welfare of the empire and divine favour achieved by the proper conduct of religion was still central in the proclamations of Constantine and his successors. The letter of Licinius and Constantine (the so-​called Edict of Milan) set as the aim of the emperors the well-​being and public security of the empire and the profit of humans, and it spoke of the divinity ‘in the seat of heaven’ who is ‘appeased and made propitious’. The ‘habitual 1 2. See esp. Elm 2012, 264, 373. 13. CIust 1.17.1 praef. (in 530). 14. Cicero explicated the idea that Rome had attained its greatness by scrupulously fulfilling religious duties (nat. deor. 2.7–​8, 3.94). On neglect of the gods causing defeat in battle, see, e.g., Liv. 22.9.7–​11; Cic. nat. deor. 2.8. Heck 1987, 30–​37, 182; Scheid 1985, 29–​32; Liebeschuetz 1979, 56–​57, 92; North 2010, 44. 15. Accusations are reported in Tert. apol. 40.1–​2; nat. 1.9; Cypr. Demetr. 1–​2; Arnob. nat. 1.1, 1.9, 3.11, 4.24; Aug. civ. 2.3. 16. Most of the early fourth-​century accusations by pagans against Christians were conveyed by Christian writers such as Arnobius and Lactantius. However, one proclamation of Emperor Maximinus Daia in 312 against Christians is extant both in Eus. eccl. 9.7.3–​14 and as fragments in CIL III 12132; see Mitchell 1988, 105–​124. Moreover, the idea of divine favour and anger is not limited to Graeco-​Roman and Christian Antiquity, but also found in other cultures and societies. For the ‘logic of retribution’ (e.g., in the works of ecclesiastical historians), see Trompf 2000, 230–​231. See Scribner 1996, 43 on the ‘moralized universe’, in which the state of affairs in this world is dependent on the moral quality of humans, whether as individuals or as a collective.

The emperor and the dissenters  21 favour and benevolence’ of the divinity were said to be maintained when no one is denied freedom of religion.17 A similar connection was postulated in fourth-​and fifth-​century imperial legislation, specifically in terms of the contamination that incorrect religious behaviour was thought to bring upon the community and the entire empire. In a law instituted by Theodosius II in 425, the presence of religious dissidents is supposed to cause pollution in the cities where they live: Because, of course, it is unseemly that religious people should be depraved by any superstitions, we command that the Manichaeans and all other heretics, whether schismatics or astrologers, and every sect that is inimical to the Catholics shall be banished from the very sight of the various cities, in order that such cities may not be defiled by the contagion even of the presence of such criminals (praesentiae quidem criminosorum contagione).18 In another law from 438, the traditional cycle of cause and effect is turned against pagans. Theodosius II attributes abnormalities in nature—​the succession of the seasons has been disturbed—​to pagan perfidy. Thus, spring is not as lovely as usual, summer is barren of its harvest, and winter is unexceptionally harsh and has doomed the land with disastrous sterility. The conclusion is that nature must be punishing impiety in its own manner, and the emperor states that the revered majesty of the supreme deity must be placated.19 In a number of laws, public welfare and the unity of the church were identified with each other. For example, in a decree from 409, the public well-​being (salus communis), meaning the well-​being of the empire, is linked with the benefit of the church (pro utilitatibus catholicae sacrosanctae ecclesiae).20 The emperors were also reminded of the connection between public welfare and the correct interpretation of religion. The leaders of divergent inclinations stressed this connection for their own purposes. In his campaign against Homoian Christianity (Arianism), Ambrose adopted the idea of divine retribution. In On Faith, he explained military defeats, especially the one at Adrianople in 378, as God’s punishment for Emperor Valens’s ‘Arianism’. He stated that the ‘reason for the divine indignation’ is evident: faith (fides) in the Roman power has been broken where faith in God has been broken. Furthermore, Ambrose linked religious dissidence and barbarian attacks, associating the ‘sacrilegious voices’ [of ‘heretics’] with the ‘barbarian attacks’ (sacrilegis pariter vocibus et barbaricis motibus). He exclaimed, ‘How can the Roman state be secure with such 17. See Lact. mort. 48.2; see also Eus. eccl. 10.5. Kahlos 2009, 56–​58 with further bibliography. 18. Sirm. 6 (in 425). Trans. Pharr 1952, 480. Here the legislator links Manichaeans, heretics, and schismatics together with the mathematici (astrologers). 19. Novellae of Theodosius II, 3.8 (in 438). Noethlichs 1998, 17; Millar 2006, 121, 224–​225. 20. CTh 16.5.47 (in 409). On heresy as linked with the issue of public welfare, see Humfress 2000, 129–​131.

22  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority custodians?’21 Here Ambrose articulates the familiar idea of the emperor as the guardian not only of the commonwealth, but also of the correct religion. During the Nestorian controversy, Cyril of Alexandria, when urging Theodosius II to turn against Nestorius, associated imperial power with the correct doctrine. Cyril insisted that those rulers who did not take care of the true faith would perish. Consequently, disagreement within the church was perceived as a threat to the stability of imperial power.22 The logic of retribution and reward is also apparent in Cyril’s rhetoric in his letters to the imperial ladies, the Empress Aelia Eudocia and the emperor’s sister Pulcheria, respectively. He assures them if they confess the correct doctrine (Cyril’s version, obviously), they will enjoy strong blessings:  ‘For if Christ thus finds that your faith is steadfast and pure, he will honour you abundantly with good things from above, and you will be fully blessed.’23 Cyril was not alone in linking the unity of the church with imperial success in accordance with the logic of divine reward and retribution. It was rumoured that his rival Nestorius had promised to Theodosius II that if the emperor gave him ‘the earth cleansed of heretics’, he would give the emperor ‘heaven in return’. Nestorius was alleged to have declared, ‘Help me in destroying heretics and I will help you in defeating the Persians.’24 As previously mentioned, the idea of divine favour and anger was commonplace among both Christians and non-​Christians. In his famous appeal for the continuation of public support for the old Roman religion, Symmachus based his argumentation on the utility of the traditional Roman religion in guaranteeing the public welfare. Correspondingly, he argued, the neglect of Roman religion by Christians led to drought, failure of crops, and famine.25 In a similar vein, Libanius, in his speech for the temples, attributed the success and security of the empire to the favour of the old gods, which was maintained by the traditional cults.26 The question was, which religion—​Christianity or the traditional Roman religion—​could guarantee divine support for the well-​being of Rome. Similar 21. Ambr. fid. 2.16.139–​140. Cf. Oros. hist. 7.33.9, 7.33.19: iusto iudicio Dei; Theodoret. eccl. 4.30–​31. For the circumstances concerning Ambrose’s De fide, see McLynn 1994, 102–​105, 120–​121; Lenski 1997, 149–​150; Lenski 2002, 213; and Alan Cameron 2011, 35–​36. 22. Cyr. Alex. or. ad Theod. imp. (ACO 1.1.1, 43–​44). For the contest for imperial support during the Nestorian controversy, see Wessel 2004, 90; Millar 2006, 36; Kahlos 2014, 1–​32. 23. Cyr. Alex. or. ad Augustas 48 (ACO 1.1.5, 61). For Cyril’s letters to the imperial women, see Millar 2006, 36; Wessel 2004, 98–​99; Graumann 2002, 323–​333; Holum 1982, 159–​161. 24. The rumours are found in Socr. eccl. 7.29. A  similar combination of promise and threat is reported by Sozomen (eccl. 6.40.1): the monk Isaac asserted to Valens, who was the keen supporter of Homoian Christians, ‘But you will not return [from Adrianople] if you do not restore the [Nicene] churches.’ 25. Utility: Symm. rel. 3.2–​3, 3.8, 3.11 (in 384). On the failure of crops, see Symm. rel. 3.15–​17. Ambrose, who in his own attack against ‘Arians’ had applied the idea of divine retribution, in his reply to Symmachus (Ambr. ep. 73.7 =ep. 17 Maur.) refuted Symmachus’s charges by attributing the successes and failures to humans, not to the divine sphere (i.e., it was the strength of the Roman soldiers that made the empire successful, not the gods), as well as by attributing the failure of crops to the natural sphere (Ambr. ep. 72.20–​21, 72.30 =ep. 18 Maur.). For Symmachus’s relatio and the responses to it, see Klein 1971; Klein 1972; Demandt 1972; Döpp 2009; Alan Cameron 2011, 337–​343. 26. Liban. or. 30.31, 30.34, also 30.4–​5. For Libanius’ speech, see Criscuolo 1995; Sizgorich 2007, 75–​101.

The emperor and the dissenters  23 arguments continued to be presented at the turn of the fifth century in connection with ill-​fated events during the Gothic wars, and especially the sack of Rome in 410, as shown by the discussions on calamities in Augustine’s City of God, Orosius’s Histories against Pagans, and a few other works.27 Augustine informs us of the statements of pagans, according to which Radagaisus, the leader of a Gothic group, had defeated the Romans because he had performed sacrifices to the gods but the Romans had not. For his part, Augustine refutes these charges and argues instead that the barbarian attacks were God’s punishment for the Romans.28 The fictive conversation in the anonymous early fifth-​ century treatise Questions and Answers to the Orthodox seems to arise from a similar discussion on divine favour. The writer is asked whether Hellenism (that is, the cults of the old gods) is more pious because all the towns and the country enjoyed wealth and well-​being and did not suffer from warfare as long as Hellenism was practised, but there were great losses after Christianity replaced Hellenism. In his response, the writer offers a set of different refutations: first, he denies that the old gods had any influence, because towns and countries had been devastated even in the period when Hellenism prevailed. Second, he notes that divine providence governs the world as it wishes, sending prosperity and desolation as deemed appropriate. Third, in spite of these former explanations, the writer draws on the idea of divine favour by maintaining that no city has fallen since the triumph of Christianity and that there have been fewer wars in the world since that point than before.29 Consequently, the argument of divine favour and anger was not of minor importance when used as a weapon against a rival religion. In a world in which most of the population was involved in agricultural work, well-​being and even survival depended on the balance of natural forces.30 Thus, the idea that the correct worship of divinities was the basis of the well-​being of the community was not a mere rhetorical device against opponents. As Susanna Elm explains, to ‘misread the divine will could spell disaster for all, even small theological differences could 27. The sixth-​century pagan historian Zosimus (5.40–​41) and the fifth-​century church historian Sozomen (eccl. 9.6–​7) refer to the demands that were made for the revival of traditional cult practices during the Gothic invasion of Italy in 408. Both writers seem to follow Olympiodorus’s lost account. O’Daly 1994, 65–​75; Burgarella 1995, 190; Salzman 2010, 260; Alan Cameron 2011, 190–​191. 28. Aug. civ. 5.23. By means of the barbarian assaults, God flogged (flagellavit) Romans and demonstrated that sacrifices to the old gods were useless, even in securing earthly well-​being. 29. Pseudo-​Justin, Quaestiones et responsiones ad orthodoxos 126 (PG 6). This work was earlier falsely assigned to Justin the Martyr, but later it was attributed either to Diodore of Tarsus or Theodoret of Cyrrhus. Papadoyannakis 2008, 115–​127 sets the provenance of the work in early fifth-​century Syria. The bitter voices of pagans are heard as late as the sixth century in the complaints of Zosimus (4.59, also 1.57.1, 2.33.4, 3.32.1, 4.21.3), who blamed the calamities of the empire on neglect of the traditional cults. 30. This concern is echoed in the narrative of Life of Porphyry: as soon as the bishop Porphyry arrives in Gaza, the people begin to blame the drought at that time on his presence: Marc. Diac. v. Porph. 19 Kugener. Even though the work most likely does not date from the period it purports to depict, it reflects the contemporary ways of attributing natural calamities to the incorrect religion of rivals. For a discussion on the dating, see Grégoire and Kugener 1930, vii–​xxix; Barnes 2010, 260–​283.

24  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority have significant impact, if misunderstood by those who ruled the empire, the emperor and the elites’. In the fourth century, it was the nature of the divinity that was at the centre of disputes.31 When security and order were disturbed by natural disasters, disease, war, and upheavals, divine forces needed to be placated to restore normality. Wielded by the majority, the idea became a powerful form of ammunition against the dissident minorities. Many Christian writers, such as Orosius and Salvian of Marseilles, nonetheless also ascribed misfortunes and the divine anger behind them to the sinfulness of the whole community, not only the deviants of the community. Calamities were argued as being divine retribution meant for chastisement and the cure of sins.32 The old Roman idea of pax deorum and its late antique variant, the Christian logic of divine reward and retribution, were usually connected with the demand of correct religious behaviour and/​or belief within the community. The idea of religious misconduct drawing divine anger down on the whole community could be wielded against religious dissidents. As Michael Gaddis suggests, this worldview created the preconditions for official intolerance.33 For example, in his Cunctos populos edict, Theodosius I threatened heretics (in this case, Homoians were the principal target) with both divine vengeance and ‘the retribution of our own initiative, which we shall assume in accordance with divine judgment’.34 The connection of religious deviance with divine wrath indeed was a powerful argument in imperial legislation against pagans and heretics. Imperial striving for unity In the context of divine anger and favour, the requirement for unity—​not only in what we call the political sphere, but also the religious one—​becomes understandable. The unity of correct religious behaviour, cult, and belief was necessary for maintaining balance, both on the cosmic level and in mundane affairs. It was argued that good governance safeguarded this unity. Even during the early imperial period, which was well known for its diversity of religions—​or the ‘market-​place of religions’, as it has been called—​the emperors attempted to control religious life with various restrictions. The imperial government was especially concerned with private practices, such as private divination. With their regulations and restrictions, the fourth-​century Christian emperors followed the models of policy established by their predecessors in the early imperial period

31. Elm 2012, 2. Furthermore, cosmic, communal, and individual salvation and public order were intertwined; see Lyman 2000, 151. 32. E.g., Oros. hist. 2.1.1, 7.15.5; Salv. gub. 6.2, 6.6, 6.11, 8.2. Basil. Caes. Quod deus non est auctor malorum 5 (PG 21, 377C) argued that disease, droughts, and dearth were the testing of Christians. For further discussion, see Kahlos 2013a, 177–​193; for Salvian, see Lambert 1999, 115–​130. 33. Gaddis 2005, 34. 34. CTh (in 380). Trans. Pharr 1952, 440.

The emperor and the dissenters  25 (for example, by regulating private practices).35 In the third and fourth centuries, there was an increasing tendency in the imperial policies to control religious activities. This striving for harmony in matters of religion was often linked with concurrent attempts to enhance the unity of the empire.36 In the recent research, this imperial emphasis on universalizing religion has been interpreted as a response to ideas that had already changed rather than as top-​down impulses of individual emperors. Thus, imperial policies are now understood more as reflecting shifts in religion and society in general.37 In the fourth century, Christianity and the Roman Empire were both transformed and developed side by side as competing but also overlapping universalisms.38 The unity of the empire was thought to be reinforced by the unity of cult and belief. In addition to control of rituals and practices, this meant attempts to regulate beliefs—​namely, striving for ‘the imperial monopoly on knowledge’.39 This can be seen in the proclamations in which Constantine acknowledged religious unity as his principal goals (for example, his wish ‘to unite all the opinions of the divine of the nations in a single consistent view’). This is justified with the concord (homonoia) among God’s servants that brings tranquillity and well-​being. Thus, religious unity, ‘one united judgment about the divine’, was postulated to provide welfare to the empire.40 Unity and the correct doctrine (orthodoxy) became a matter of public safety. Constantine highlighted public safety in the heat of the controversy between the mainstream (Caecilianist) church and the Donatists, stating that ‘the legally adopted and observed religion guarantees the welfare of the state and brings happiness to all human undertakings’. Correspondingly, he inferred, if religion is neglected, the state is in great danger.41

35. On continuities in the attitudes of the Roman elite towards private practices, see Hunt 1993, 143–​158; Martroye 1930, 669–​701; Kahlos 2013b, 313–​344. 36. In the third century, this striving for unity is apparent in the attempts to unify the empire by Emperors Decius, Valerius, and Diocletian and his co-​rulers. For the third-​and fourth-​century attempts at unity by imperial governments, see Rives 1999, 135–​154; Kahlos 2009, 28–​38, 56–​66; and Van Dam 2007b, 272, 281 on Constantine’s obsession with political and religious unity. Athanassiadi 2010, 15–​16 sees Decius’s policy, as well as Julian’s, as an important phase in the development towards theocracy and monodoxy. There were similar attempts to enhance politico-​religious unity in the Persian Empire during the same period: Fowden 1993, 80–​168. 37. Salzman 2008, 186, 189–​190 calls the traditional narrative, in which the emperor is seen as the initiator of (political, social, or religious) change, a ‘top-​down political conflict model’. For the criticism of the top-​down model, see also Salzman 2002, xi–​xii, 5; Salzman 2007, 210; Elizabeth A. Clark 2004, 183. 38. On Christianity and the Roman Empire as ‘two powerful, enduring and competing visions of universalism in the fourth century’, see Elm 2012, 1–​10. 39. Fögen 1993, 254–​321; also Baudy 2006, 112; Humfress 2000, 130–​131. 40. Constantine’s letter to Bishop Alexander of Alexandria and Arius in 324 in Eus. v. Const. 2.64–​72, esp. 2.65.1–​2. Trans. Averil Cameron and S. G. Hall 1999, 43–​44. Constantine also stressed religious unity in his inaugural speech in the Council of Nicaea: in Eus. v. Const. 3.12. Constantine appealed to religious unity mainly in his dealings with Christian dissident groups (rather than with non-​Christians), in his decree against Christian dissidents, prohibiting their meetings and confiscating the property and churches for the ‘catholic’ church, in Eus. v. Const. 3.64–​65. Barnes 1981, 224; Norderval 1995, 95–​115; Drake 1996, 30 n. 51; Drake 2000, 346–​348; S. G. Hall 1986,  5–​7. 41. Constantine’s letter to Anulinus in Eus. eccl. 10.7.1–​2. For Constantine’s policies in the Donatist strife, see Drake 2000, 212–​231; Lenski 2016, 102–​135; Tilley 1996, xi–​xvi; and Frend 1952, 159–​163.

26  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority During the overlapping reigns of Gratian, Valentinian II, and Theodosius I, religious unity was announced as the indisputable aim of the emperors. Consequently, the very presence of religious dissident groups was taken as an offense to Christian unity and the emperors. The imperial striving for unity culminated in the legislation of Theodosius I and continued in the fifth century in the legislation of his successors Honorius, Arcadius, and Theodosius II. These emperors defined a single understanding of the one religion, Nicene Christianity, while condemning other interpretations. Nicene Christianity came to be linked with loyalty to the empire and the emperors, and thus with being a good Roman. Other religious inclinations (‘heresies’ and ‘paganism’) were associated with dissidence and disloyalty. In the proclamation of 407, Honorius and Theodosius II spoke of ‘the catholic faith and rites, which We wish to be observed by all humans’. Through this legislation, the emperors set themselves up as the guardians of the true religion, announcing that the law was being given ‘to the advantage of true worship’.42 The unity of religion and the unity of the empire were accordingly seen as correlative with each other.

42. CTh 16.5.41 (in 407):  catholicam fidem et ritum, quem per omnes homines cupimus observari. This law announced the annulment of punishments if heretics, especially Donatists and Manichaeans, embraced ‘catholic’ Christianity. Hunt 1993, 148.


The realities of legislation


he fourth-​century emperors represented religious unity, and especially the Christian unity of the empire, as a goal to be pursued in order to ensure public welfare and state security. That said, we should avoid falling into the trap of teleology by postulating—​throughout the entire fourth century until the beginning of the fifth century—​a coherent or systematic policy against those who with their very existence challenged the ideals of religious unity. There was no imperial programme of efficient and organized coercive legislation from Constantine until Theodosius II and beyond. Instead, there seems to have been a great deal of incoherence and ambivalence.1 Even during the reign of a single emperor, Theodosius I, which a number of ecclesiastical writers afterwards constructed as the conclusive triumph of Christianity, and which even modern researchers have identified as a decisive period of increasing pressure against dissidents, we can discern different and often mutually contradictory decisions and compromises.2 Instead of reflecting coherence and consistency in legislation, imperial rulings are better understood when the imperial decision-​making is observed in terms of ongoing negotiations between the central government and numerous groups of interest, such as the leaders of different Christian sects, local aristocracies, and military circles. Recent research on late antique legislation has stressed that imperial laws and proclamations reflect extensive negotiations, which were going on at every level of government.3 Furthermore, intense law-​ making does not necessarily mean that laws were implemented. Legislative texts were normative: they decreed that certain things should proceed this or that way and that certain actions are not allowed. Legislation often reveals the ideology and aims of the administration rather than the way in which laws were really interpreted, enforced, and obeyed in everyday life.4 Another problem is that of authenticity. Compiled in the 430s, the Theodosian Code contains fourth-​century laws that are not in their original form, but versions that are usually abridged.

1. Salzman 1993, 362–​378. 2. On the figure of Theodosius I constructed in accordance with the great narrative of the Christian triumph over paganism, see Errington 1997a, 398–​443. 3. On the late antique processes of law-​making, see Harries 1999 and Matthews 2000. 4. As A. H. M. Jones 1964, viii states, ‘the laws . . . are clues to the difficulties of the empire, and records of the aspirations of the government and not its achievement’. See also Humfress 2007a, 121–​142; Salzman 2008, 197.

Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450. Maijastina Kahlos. Oxford University Press (2020). © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190067250.001.0001

28  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority Sound and fury Legislation in Roman society had a different function than legislation has today: it represented ideology and served as propaganda; it was full of moral proclamations; and its language was strong, moralizing, and highly rhetorical. In the fourth century, legislation reflected the increasingly autocratic governmental style that the emperors had adopted. Late antique legislation, which not only concerned cult activities and religious groups, but also other issues, was articulated in uncompromising and moralizing language. Religious groups were condemned with harsh, insulting terms such as superstitio, error, perfidia, perversitas, and vesania.5 Laws described the ‘pagan criminal mind’ (sceleratae mentis paganae); damnable, accursed, and abominable sacrifices; and the insanity of sacrifices.6 To give one example, in a decree from 348 against pagans, the legislator uses such phrases as ‘their heathen enormities’, ‘their natural insanity and stubborn insolence’, ‘the nefarious rites of their sacrifices and the false doctrines of their deadly superstition’, ‘their crimes’, ‘their mass of crimes’, ‘the corruption of their sacrifices’, ‘audacious madness’, ‘these impious persons’, ‘their pagan madness’, and ‘any person of polluted and contaminated mind’.7 Not sounding politically correct to the ears of a modern observer, this reproving language reminds us more of contemporary hate speech on the Internet than the neutral tone of legislative texts that people today are accustomed to. However, as David Moncur and Peter Heather point out, we need to make a distinction between how things were articulated and what was actually ordered. Emperors tried to strike a balance between gratifying rigoristic Christians and maintaining social equilibrium between different interest groups. Despite their severely worded directives and threats, laws were not necessarily always meant for universal application.8 The highly coloured, morally charged language of the legislation implies an efficient autocracy and severe imperial authority. It was used not only to describe imperial power, but also—​first and foremost—​to create it. Emperors needed to send an authoritative message to their subjects on the maintenance of morality, social order, and discipline, as well as state security. The same applied to imperial legislation in general, not only to the laws that disciplined religious dissident groups. Emperors needed to convince rigorist Christian circles that Christian unity was intensely pursued by means of strict laws, and to reassure them with 5. CTh 16.5.51 (in 410): haereticae superstitionis. CTh 16.8.19 (in 409) calls Judaism superstitio, perversitas, and incredulitas; cf. 16.8.24 (in 418): superstitio and perversitas; 16.9.4 (in 417): superstitio. CTh 16.5.63 (in 425): Omnes haereses omnesque perfidias, omnia schismata superstitionesque gentilium, omnes catholicae legi inimicos insectamur errores; 16.10.20 (in 415): pagana superstitio; 16.10.7 (in 381): vesanus ac sacrilegus. 6. E.g. CTh 16.10.25 (in 435), 16.10.23 (in 423), 16.10.13 (in 395), 16.10.2 (in 341). 7. Novellae of Theodosius II, 3.8 (in 348). 8. On paying lip service to rigorist circles, see Heather and Moncur 2001, 48–​60. On emperors balancing between different religious interests, see Lee 2000, 94; O’Donnell 1979, 59–​60.

The realities of legislation  29 triumphalist assertions of the demise of paganism.9 Consequently, we should read many of these late antique laws as moral proclamations rather than practical enactments. This is particularly apparent in those laws whose main concern was to control the behaviour of public figures, such as iudices (judges and provincial governors) and the personnel under their authority.10 Such showing off probably was not even meant for actual execution. The imperial language of condemnation nonetheless set pretexts and possibilities for action and enactment if bishops or magistrates at the local level decided to proceed in that way. Language is used not only to describe reality, but also to create it. This can be seen in the creation of categories and the adaptation of old categories of illegal practices and beliefs in late antique legislation. Categories such as illegal sacrifices, nefarious practices, superstition, and magic, which had been used in earlier legislation, were adapted for Christian use. As Caroline Humfress points out, efforts to maintain proper relations between the empire and the divine sphere were still the focus of late antique legislation. Consequently, what changed were definitions and the interpretations of which cultic practices were regarded as licit and which were illicit. The most significant shift after the Constantinian turn was the idea that there was wrong religious belief (and actions resulting from that) that could be regarded as a crime under Roman law.11 The illegal practices mentioned in laws could be interpreted in various ways, depending on the preferences of local governors. For example, in the decree of 381, illegal sacrifices performed by day and night could be understood as animal sacrifices in general, sacrifices linked with illegal private divination or sacrifices connected to illegal magical practices. Moreover, dire incantations (diris carminibus), in contrast to chaste prayers (castis deum precibus), could be understood as pagan practices or magical spells. Thus, it was possible to use this law against magical practices as well as traditional Graeco-​Roman cults, according to the inclinations of local administrators. As Michele Salzman shows, laws that forbade superstition (superstitio) could be interpreted as banning either pagan practices in general (depending on which practices were regarded as pagan), animal sacrifices in general, or magical practices (again, depending on which practices were deemed magical).12

9. CTh 16.10.22 (in 423), 16.10.25 (in 435), 16.10.19 (in 407). Veyne 1981, 355; Bradbury 1994, 134–​137; and Drake 2011, 211 draw attention to the disciplinary nature of the late antique legislation meant to educate people by exhortation, condemnation, and threats. 10. CTh 16.10.10 (in 391) on iudices. Hunt 1993, 157 points out that the Theodosian laws against paganism appear comprehensive in terms of their prohibition of pagan practices, but they were actually directed at the provincial administration. 11. For a discussion of the changes, see Humfress 2007b, 234–​235; Humfress 2016, 160–​176. This shift in the legal thinking was possible only after Constantine had integrated Christianity into the legal framework. 12. CTh 16.10.7 (in 381). Similarly, CTh 16.10.9 (in 385) forbade the performance of sacrifices for divination. Salzman 1987, 177–​183.

30  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority From the discussion above, it becomes clear that the existence of harsh legislation does not necessarily imply that laws were widely obeyed. The prohibitions were renewed again and again, and punishments became more severe. It must also be remembered that enforcement of laws often depended on regional circumstances and the initiatives of local leaders such as bishops. It has been surmised that the repetition of laws (e.g., banning sacrifices) implies widespread disobedience at the local level.13 This is certainly true in many cases, although we must bear in mind that the repetition was also part of imperial procedures. When assuming the throne, a new emperor had to proclaim his power and either renew or cancel the legislation of his predecessors. Good citizens and infamous dissenters Christian orthodoxy and Roman citizenship were equated in late antique legislation. This pattern of thought, in which being a good citizen or loyal subject was delineated in terms of correct religion, had a long tradition and from time to time showed up in imperial announcements. Communities in Graeco-​Roman antiquity had habitually defined themselves through religion and its correct performance. During the Republican and early imperial periods, a proper Roman was suitably pious, performing rituals and worshipping the gods in the correct manner, such as through participation in sacrificial rituals (as performers or spectators).14 Defining Romanness in religious terms became an even more important part of political debate from the early third century onwards.15 This tendency to delineate a proper Roman in terms of religion continued in the Christian Empire. The criteria for being a good Roman gradually changed, but the principle persisted. In the imperial proclamations of the late fourth and fifth centuries, a Roman was redefined as being a Christian and, moreover, the right kind of Christian. In the legislation from Gratian and Theodosius I onwards, that meant being a Nicene Christian. Practising devotions other than imperial Christianity (now Nicene) was argued to be one of the gravest transgressions against the state and the emperor, and according to some texts it led to falling out of civilized—​Christian and Roman—​society. However, as already noted, imperial decrees need to be taken more as moral proclamations than practical instructions. Furthermore, imperial announcements such as the famous Cunctos populos by Theodosius I in 380 were made in response to local circumstances.16

13. E.g., in CTh 16.10.12 (in 392). On reiteration, see Fowden 1998, 540; Bradbury 1994, 133; Hunt 1993, 143–​144; O’Donnell 1979, 59–​60. 14. Beard, North, and Price 1998, 239–​240; Gordon 1990, 253–​255. 15. The connection between the suitable way of performing religious duties and being Roman was accentuated by Caracalla in 212, Decius in 249–​250, Valerian in 257–​258, and the Tetrarchs in 304. On the developments in the third century, see Inglebert 2002, 241–​260; Digeser 2000; Digeser 2006, 69–​71; Rives 1999, 135–​154. 16. CTh 16.1.2. See also CTh 16.5.5 (in 379) and 16.5.4 (in 376/​378).

The realities of legislation  31 That said, these proclamations set the tone for connecting correct religion (that is, Nicene Christianity) and being a citizen. These announcements publicized not only the idea of protecting the true doctrine, but also the moral unity of the Empire. We perceive again the interwovenness of things ‘religious’ and ‘political’. Failure to practise correct religion was taken as one of the gravest transgressions against the Roman state and the imperial majesty.17 In a number of imperial decrees, religious dissidents—​especially heretics and apostates, but also pagans—​were deprived of their rights to conduct economic transactions such as donating, buying, selling, and making contracts.18 Furthermore, the loss of rights also affected acting as a witness, making testaments, and receiving an inheritance,19 as well as serving in administrative and military offices.20 The message was that these persons were aliens in relation to the empire. If the decrees had ever been put into practice, they would have made the lives of dissidents rather grim. The penalties declared against heretics and apostates were set forth in the legal framework of traditional sanctions pronounced on citizens who had fallen into disgrace; namely, infamia. It is understandable that the already available framework was used in the case of pressuring dissidents. Citizens who fell into infamia lost their legal rights of Roman citizenship, and this penalty, involving loss of status, bore most heavily on the privileged and propertied classes of Roman society. The less privileged did not have much to lose when punished with infamia. As a state of being infamous or disgraced, it was connected with some professions (such as keeping brothels and taverns) that entailed ‘shameful’ conduct. As Jill Harries points out, a person did not necessarily have to do anything wrong to incur infamia other than simply being in a shameful state.21 However, when inflicted as a penalty, it deprived the offender of the rights to act as a citizen, to give and receive property in a will, and to make contracts. Infamia was given

17. Offences against the emperor and offences against public security were regarded as treason. The civil rights of free individuals were subordinated to the salus publica. Harries 2007, 34; Gaudemet 1984, 17–​18. 18. E.g. CTh 16.5.40 against Manichaeans and Priscillianists; 16.5.54 praef. against Donatists. On the evolution of definitions of apostasy, see Hornung 2016, 262–​299. 19. E.g., in a decree against apostates, the rights to act as a witness, make testaments, and receive inheritance were all removed: CTh 16.7.2, also 16.7.4 praef. For acting as a witness, see CTh 16.7.3, 16.7.6, 16.7.7. For making a testament, see CTh 16.5.7, 16.5.18 against Manichaeans, 16.7.1 against apostates, 16.5.17 against Eunomians, etc.; see also 16.5.21–​23, 16.5.25, 16.5.27, 16.5.31–​32, 16.5.34, 16.5.36, 16.5.49, 16.5.58, 16.5.61, 16.5.65, 16.6.7. For receiving inheritance, see CTh 16.5.7, 16.5.17. See Noethlichs 1986, 1163–​1164; Noethlichs 1998, 23; Salzman 1993, 373–​377. 20. E.g., CTh 16.5.25 (in 395) banned heretics from the offices of the imperial administration, 16.5.29 (in 395), 16.5.42 (in 408) banned inimici catholicae sectae from service in the imperial court, 16.5.41 (in 408) banned heretics from the western court, 16.5.48 (in 410), 16.10.21 (in 416) forbade pagans to enter military or administrative offices or become judges. Sirm. 6 (in 425) banned pagans and Jews from any administrative office or militia. Humfress 2008, 132–​137; Noethlichs 1986, 1165–​1175. 21. On the concept of infamia, see Harries 2007, 6; Harries 1999, 142; Bond 2014, 1–​30; Garnsey and Humfress 2001, 89.

32  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority as the punishment for various crimes, but especially for the misdemeanours of administrators in their office. In particular, judges were threatened with it.22 In the case of religious dissidence, the penalty of infamia came to be applied in late fourth-​and early fifth-​century legislation:  for example, in several laws, the testamentary rights of Manichaeans, Donatists, Eunomians, and apostates were removed.23 The disgrace connected to the loss of civic rights was publicized by imperial authorities in other ways as well. Theodosius II was said to have erected statues to Arius, Sabellius, Macedonius, and Eunomius in the forum of Constantinople so that passers-​by could ‘vent on them dung and urine and spittle’, and ‘load with dishonour those who had dishonoured the Son of God’.24 In the Christian Empire, full citizenship became conditional, being based on following the correct Christian inclination.25 Religious dissidents, including those who abdicated from Christianity to practise ‘pagan rites’, were decreed to be outside of Roman law (absque iure Romano). It is, however, difficult to specify what is meant by ‘pagan rites’ in these laws.26 In a law of 391, people who left Christianity were decreed to ‘be kept apart from the community of all’ (a consortio omnium segregati sint).27 In another law of 391, the abandonment of Christianity and a collapse into the practice of pagan sacrifices resulted in the upper-​class person falling into infamia: he would lose his status to such a degree that he ‘was not even counted among the ignoble mob’. As a kind of rationale, it is asked rhetorically what these apostates could have in common with humans: those who ‘in their dreadful and beastly minds’ (infandis et feralibus mentibus), despising ‘the respect of community with others’ (gratiam communionis), withdrew from humans (ab hominibus recesserunt). This law shows that the main concern of the legislators was the religious conduct of the upper classes.28 Such alienation can be read as functioning like a two-​way street:  religious dissidents are portrayed as alienated from the human community as a result of their deviance, while, because of their deviance, the legislator also decrees their exclusion from the human community. Thus, in the eyes of the legislator, the religiously incorrect have already made themselves unsuitable for the human community, and the legislator is merely confirming the state of affairs.29 Similar 2 2. Harries 1999, 142. 23. CTh 16.5.3 (in 372) and 16.5.7 (in 381) on Manichaeans, 16.5.54 (in 414) and 16.6.4 (in 405) on Donatists, 16.7.5 on apostates. In the Cunctos populos (CTh 16.1.2), however, infamia does not refer in its technical sense to a loss of civil rights (see McLynn 2005, 84 pace Errington 1997a, 414). 24. Parastaseis syntomai chronikai 39. Trans. Averil Cameron and Judith Herrin 1984, 107. See Lim 1995, 148; Van Dam 2007b, 257–​258. 25. Mathisen 2006, 14. 26. CTh 16.7.2 praef. (in 383). CTh 16.5.7 praef. (in 381) deprived Manicheans of the right to live according to Roman law (vivendi iure Romano). 27. CTh 16.7.4 (in 391). 28. CTh 16.7.5 (in 391). Rougé (SC 497, 365) translates this as ‘la grâce de la communion’. See also CTh 16.5.40 (in 407). Salzman 1993, 373; Noethlichs 2015, 20–​21. 29. This alienation was no innovation in the ancient world: in the early empire, both Jews and Christians were depicted as hating humankind: Tac. hist. 5.5; Tac. ann. 15.44.

The realities of legislation  33 alienation is seen in the law of 425, in which all kinds of religiously suspect people—​Manichaeans, heretics, schismatics, astrologers, and any other ‘sect inimical to Catholics’—​are ordered to leave the cities, as the ‘religious peoples’ should not be corrupted by the presence of superstitions.30 There seems to have been a tendency to move religious dissidents from the centres to the periphery.31 Also listed are suspicious heretical groups—​Eunomiani, Arriani, Macedoniani, pneumatomachi Manichaei, encratitae, apotactitae, saccofori, hydroparastatae—​ who are ordered to be expelled ‘by the common agreement of all good people, and the opportunity to expel him shall be granted to all who delight in the cult and the beauty of the correct religious observance’.32 The realities of responsive legislation Many scholars, especially Fergus Millar and R. M. Errington, have referred to the responsive character of Roman imperial legislation. This means that emperors did not usually launch new policies in their own right. Emperors issued most laws as reactions to local problems brought to their attention by magistrates or delegations from the provinces. Millar describes imperial law-​giving with the expression ‘petition and response’.33 Consequently, as most laws were not passed because of an autocratic desire on the part of the emperors to systematically control the affairs of the empire, it is very questionable whether the imperial government had in mind a big picture or a certain policy. We should try not to plot late antique religious legislation teleologically. Thus, imperial laws should be read as letters addressed to individual office-​holders, as replies to specific petitions, and as responses to problems arising in particular local contexts.34 Most of the laws that prohibited pagan cult practices and ordered temples to be closed and idols to be destroyed were responses to local circumstances, not a mark of systematic and deliberate imperial policy. In a ruling from 405 concerning the banishment of the clergy, the reports made by bishops are specifically mentioned.35 The two laws issued by Theodosius I in Italy in 391 banned animal sacrifices as well as the worship of statues and visits to temples by imperial magistrates. As R. M. Errington shows, these laws only confirmed the local application of earlier imperial rulings, repeating earlier decisions. Addressed to the urban prefect of Rome, CTh

30. Sirm. 6 (in 425). The idea of pollution also appears in CTh 16.10.21 (in 416). 31. However, CTh 16.10.20 (in 415), which tells sacerdotales in Africa to leave great cities and return to their home regions, is not necessarily a prodecure of alienating pagan priests, but rather an attempt to retain curiales in their regional positions. 32. CTh 16.5.11 (in 383). Trans. Garnsey and Humfress 2001, 148 (modified). 33. On the reactive model, see Millar 1977, 266, 271; Errington 1997a; Errington 2006, 7–​8; see also Harries 1999, 4, 88 regarding self-​interested embassies; Bradbury 1994, 133; Rebillard 2012, 62. 34. Millar 2006, 20; Garnsey and Humfress 2001, 142. Magistrates sought final solutions to difficult juridical problems. 35. Sirm. 2 (in 405): Suggerentibus episcopis didicimus.

34  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority 16.10.10 was targeted at the local conditions of the city of Rome. CTh 16.10.11 was addressed to the civil and military administration in Egypt and, while imitating the decree that targeted Rome, was adapted to the local circumstances in that country.36 Late antique legislation involved ‘petition and response’, known in modern terms as heavy lobbying. Different interest groups and institutions approached the imperial government with their wishes. Ecclesiastical circles were but one interest group among others, but they were successful in increasing their influence on emperors and their families. In 380 Theodosius I complained that the ‘shameless greed of petitioners’ led him to ‘even grant requests that should not be allowed’.37 In his edicts against heretics of 380–​381, Theodosius I enacted the same things that church leaders and councils had already decided on.38 As M. V. Escribano Paño shows in the case of the law given by Honorius in 409 (Sirm. 14, extracted in CTh 16.2.31 and 16.5.46), imperial decision-​making was related to local religious conflicts in Africa. Several clerics (including, for example, Possidius, the bishop of Calama) were sent to Ravenna to complain about Donatists and pagans, and to object to local magistrates and judges turning a blind eye towards the violence against clerics during these disturbances.39 Augustine approached the magister officiorum Olympius with a letter that expressed joy at some coercive laws against pagans and heretics, which had already been promulgated. He states that many pagans had converted to Christianity because of these laws and their faith had been reinforced. Olympius had become a key figure at the imperial court of Ravenna after the fall of Stilicho, and Augustine sought to affirm whether these laws that had been given during the heyday of Stilicho were still in force—​since they had been issued on the emperor’s initiative, not Stilicho’s, even though the enemies of the church claimed otherwise to provoke the people against the clerics. It is possible that the law of 409 was eventually the result of the embassies and Augustine’s intense lobbying with his letter.40 The church authorities were surprisingly quick to adapt to the traditional system of appealing to the central authority of the emperor when defending their interests and even when looking for a solution to disciplinary and dogmatic disputes, which often took place at the 36. CTh 16.10.10 (24 February 391) and 16.10.11 (16 June 391). Errington 1997a, 398–​443; Errington 2006, 97; Rebillard 2012, 62. 37. CTh 10.10.15 (in 380). Trans. Pharr 1952, 275. This proclamation is not connected to religious issues. McLynn 2005, 87 calls Theodosius I ‘a temporary prisoner of lobbyists’ in 380. Theodosius’s situation illustrates well the general position of the Roman emperor, who was dependent on ‘information’ from courtiers and lobbyists and likely to be misled. 38. On the connection between imperial legislation and church councils, see Hunt 1993, 149. 39. Sirm. 14 (CTh 16.2.31 and 16.5.46). The mention of violence against clerics refers to riots in Calama in 408, but also to conflicts in other North African cities. Hermanowicz 2004, 488–​505; Hermanowicz 2008, 156–​187; Escribano Paño 2013, 105–​126. 40. Aug. ep. 97.2–​4 (in 408, probably November). Augustine praises Olympius’s religiosa oboedientia. Escribano Paño 2013, 113–​116; cf. Mratschek 2001, 224–​232; Hermanowicz 2004, 481–​521. Harries 1999, 90 n. 44 regards the law as almost certainly the response to Possidius’s embassy.

The realities of legislation  35 local level.41 Diverging Christian groups appealed to the emperor and often competed to represent the universal (‘catholic’) church. The imperial stance regarding specific groups varied according to the social and political circumstances. The case of the Eunomians illustrates the fluctuations of decision-​making: the imperial government placed them in the category of the forbidden groups (CTh 16.5.6 and 16.5.8 in 383), but then revoked the censure (CTh 16.5.23 in 394), only to impose it once more and then again revoke it (CTh 16.5.25 and 16.5.27 in 395), and finally to reimpose it the following year (CTh 16.5.31–​32 in 396).42 Keeping these caveats in mind, we can track tendencies beyond separate resolutions. This tracking of trends often emerges out of modern hindsight, but, as Errington puts it, it would be equally ‘false to deny that here the imperial center developed initiatives that made themselves felt throughout the empire’. It is true that each emperor responded to local problems that needed local solutions, ‘but taken together such replies suggest a tendency, an inclination, to decide similar things in similar ways, thus finally creating an impression of a considered policy, which, once appreciated, might be articulated in a general law summarizing but also perhaps systematically going beyond individual decisions’.43 This applies not only to fourth-​and fifth-​century religious legislation, but to earlier imperial enactments on other issues as well. Fourth-​and fifth-​century emperors simply continued the tradition of governing that had developed in the preceding centuries. The reign of Theodosius I is often regarded as a turning point in imperial assertiveness against pagan practices. For example, Peter Brown sees the battle of Adrianople in 378 as a decisive crossroads in Theodosius’s policies.44 It appears that from the early 390s, or from the latter part of the reign of Theodosius I  onwards, oppressive legislation hardened against pagans, Jews, and heretics. In the beginning of Theodosius’s reign in the 380s, heretics more than other religious groups seem to have been the emperor’s main concern.45 Likewise, the laws of 391–​392 (CTh 16.10.10–​12), prohibiting various pagan practices, have usually been taken as a marker of the more repressive imperial policy, especially against pagans.46 However, it seems that seeking consistency in Theodosius’s 4 1. Errington 2006, 8–​9; similarly Harries 1999, 88. 42. One of the issues that laws dealt with was the question of whether the Eunomians could make testaments and receive inheritance by means of a will. This is discussed in Garnsey and Humfress 2001, 148 and Humfress 2016, 160–​176. 43. Errington 2006, 8. 44. Brown 1993, 100. See also Trombley 1993a, 3; Noethlichs 1971, 182; Salzman 1993, 362–​378. 45. Theodosius followed the religious policies of his predecessors towards pagan practices: public pagan practices were permitted and temples were allowed to remain open. Animal sacrifices, divination, and magical practices were forbidden; see CTh 16.10.8 (in 382). This has often been explained as the newly appointed emperor first having to strengthen his uncertain position; only thereafter could Theodosius concentrate on matters of religious unity. First securing his imperial position meant chastising heretics, and only later did he turn his attention to pagans. For example, O’Donnell 1979, 54 links the appearance of anti-​pagan laws to the downfall of the Homoians. However, it is doubtful whether the emperor was successful in weakening Homoian Christianity; see McLynn 2005, 121–​149. 46. For Fowden 1998, 549, 553–​554, the year 391 was the point after which Theodosius turned against pagan practices.

36  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority legislation is an impossible task. There was not necessarily anything final in his policies (as modern scholars tend to teleologically view them), but rather ‘the engagement between state and church took shape one ceremony at a time’.47 All in all, reinforcing Christian unity appears to have been the foremost concern for Theodosius, as well as his successors. His attention was fixed more intensely on heretics than on other groups. In general, the extant laws issued at the turn of the fourth and fifth centuries deal more with heresies than pagan practices.48 The local realities of legislation In general, the two partes of the empire, the East and the West, were administered separately. The imperial governments in each part were not particularly well acquainted with the administrative practices and legal precedents of the other half. The partitioning of the empire split the imperial administration already from 364 onwards, as Valentinian I and Valens divided the responsibilities. Thus, the division after the death of Theodosius I was not the first to have taken place. According to Errington, ‘no serious effort was ever made to stop the gradual development of separate administrations’ after 364.49 Therefore, it is understandable that emperors were not able or even willing to impose empire-​wide policies of any kind. The dynamics between the central government and local aspirations can be seen in the attempts of the local interest groups to influence imperial decision-​ making and in the enforcement (or lack of it) of decrees at the local level. Many decrees were made in response to specific problems in specific situations and regions.50 Therefore, even though the decrees of Theodosius I against pagans and pagan practices may seem thorough and universal, their actual targets were not the people, but rather officials, judges, governors and those in power in general. The greater concern of the emperor was the public conduct and duties of judges and governors.51 In many cases, we see that emperors were prone to make compromises in their enactments regarding local situations. The city of Rome is a well-​known case where emperors were ready to mitigate their harsh-​sounding prohibitions of pagan practices.52 In many regions, locally important old festivals were specifically allowed to continue (e.g., the Maiuma festival). Likewise, in 382 47. McLynn 2005, 107–​108. 48. Hunt 1993, 157; Fowden 1998, 559. 49. Errington 2006, 1, 101. 50. See Heather and Moncur 2001, 52–​53 for a discussion on CTh 16.10.4 (in 346). Although it proclaimed the closure of temples, this was probably concerned with sacrifices that continued in specific temples. 51. CTh 16.10.10–​12 (in 391–​392). On locality of legislation, see Hunt 1993, 157. 52. This has been explained as the Roman aristocracy being influential enough to obtain exceptions from decrees against pagan practices. During the reign of Constantius II, CTh 16.10.3 (in 342) indicates that all superstitions should be eradicated, but temples outside Rome had to remain intact and undamaged. The rationale for this was the great popularity of the feasts celebrated in these temples. Salzman 1990, 196–​199; Curran 2000, 161–​193; Kahlos 2002, 57–​59.

The realities of legislation  37 a decree was addressed to the dux of Osrhoene, allowing a temple ‘consecrated once in the presence of large crowds and now still frequented by people’ to stay open to ‘maintain all the celebrations of festivities’. In a similar manner, the famous Theodosian law of February 391 was a response to a specific local conflict of interests in Antioch, as the bishop of Antioch Theophilus had appealed to the emperor.53 Emperors were occasionally willing to modify and revise their enactments according to changing local circumstances. During crises, they were prepared to negotiate with local interest groups, even dissident Christians. One illustrative case is that of Honorius, who consented to allow dissidents a certain extent of freedom to practise their religion. This is implied in a later decree in which he cancels this policy: The divine imperial response in accordance with which those persons of heretical superstition secretly resorted to their own rites shall be entirely annulled, and all the enemies of sacred religion shall know that if they should attempt further to convene publicly, in the accursed impertinence of their crime, they will suffer the penalty both of proscription and of blood.54 Laws that were originally meant as responses to local problems could nonetheless be interpreted later as universal and integrated into the overall religious policies of a reigning emperor. The famous ‘Edict of Thessalonica’, Cunctos populos, issued by Theodosius I in 380, is an illustrative example of these changes. Theodosius proclaimed: It is our will that all peoples who are ruled by the administration of our clemency shall practise that religion which the divine Peter the Apostle transmitted to the Romans, as the religion which he introduced makes clear unto this day. It is evident that this is the religion that is followed by the Pontiff Damasus and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic sanctity; that is, according to the apostolic discipline and the evangelic doctrine, we shall believe in the single deity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, under the concept of equal majesty, and of the Holy Trinity.55

53. CTh 15.6.1 (in 396): Maiuma festival; CTh 16.10.8 (in 382): Osrhoene. CTh 16.10.10 (in 391): Antioch; for the local circumstances behind the issuing of the law, see Hahn 2008, 335–​365 and Alan Cameron 2011, 61–​63. 54. CTh 16.5.51 (in 410). Trans. Pharr 1952, 459, with modifications. As Barnes 1982, 70 remarks, the previous decree allowing some sort of religious freedom was annulled on the very day after the Goths led by Alaric had seized the city of Rome. Thus, there might have been a connection here: the imperial court no longer needed to please dissident groups, since their support was of no use after the sack of Rome. 55. CTh 16.1.2. praef. (28 February 380). Trans. Pharr 1952, 440.

38  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority Theodosius indeed speaks of all peoples (cunctos populos) under his administration. However, the law was not intended to establish Nicene Christianity as the official religion for all inhabitants, as has generally been presumed. Instead, at the moment of its promulgation, it was tailored as a specific solution to the particular circumstances in Constantinople in 380.56 Addressed to the people of the city of Constantinople, it was connected with the power struggles between Nicenes and Homoians in the city. After the demise of Valens, Theodosius tried to extricate himself from his predecessor’s pro-​Arian legacy and, therefore, released this intense Nicene definition of the Christian doctrine.57 The Cunctos populos was not intended against pagans but heretics, as is emphatically proclaimed in the next paragraph: We command that those persons who follow this rule (lex) shall embrace the name of Catholic Christians. The rest, however, whom we adjudge demented and insane, shall sustain the infamy of heretical dogmas, their meeting places shall not receive the name of churches, and they shall be smitten first by divine vengeance and secondly by the retribution of our own initiative, which we shall assume in accordance with divine judgment.58 Neil McLynn suggests that contemporary readers of the decree did not take it as ‘an expression of crusading zeal’, but rather those who were responsible in administration probably understood ‘the quality of the emperor’s legal advisers’. The decree is more a pronouncement of the emperor’s will. There is no provision for enforcement of the emperor’s ruling, only mention of God’s vengeance and the retribution of the emperor thereafter. It is all very vague.59 It was in the compilation of the Theodosian Code in 436 that the decree attained far-​reaching significance. All of the laws that were included in the Theodosian Code received the status of empire-​wide laws. The decree was raised to even greater importance in 529 when Justinian, in the Justinian Code, picked it as the first law to begin the entire code. In this relocation of the decree and the whole renovation of Roman law, Christian (Nicene) orthodoxy and Roman citizenship were paralleled.60 56. In 379–​380, Constantinople was dominated by the Homoian clergy, while the Nicene community was small. For the local character of the Cunctos populos decree, see Errington 1997b, 36–​41. Garnsey and Humfress 2001, 141–​142 distinguishes three distinct phases in the interpretation of the decree over 150 years. See also Ernesti 1998, 19–​25 and McLynn 2005, 81 for the tendency (of modern scholars as well as church historians such as Sozomen and the compilers of the Theodosian Code) to read Theodosius’s later anti-​pagan and anti-​heretical actions back to his earlier decrees, such as Cunctos populos. 57. On the ecclesiastical power struggles in Constantinople, the Nicene community as a minority, and the background of the decree, see Errington 1997b, 33–​41; McLynn 2005, 82–​84; on the theological aspects, see Ayres 2004, 251–​252. 58. CTh Trans. Pharr 1952, 440. 59. McLynn 2005,  83–​84. 60. CIust 1.1.1. Justinian intended a renovation of the Roman law for the (now) Christian Empire. Here the emperor represented the incarnation of the law and was held to receive his authority directly from the Christian deity. Garnsey and Humfress 2001, 141–​142.

The realities of legislation  39 The moralizing proclamations give the impression of an authoritarian society that was ruled with a totalitarian grip, with the divine and omnipotent emperor as its head. Nonetheless, the legislation was not universally enforced and, in the first place, it was never intended for universal application. Even though laws were proclaimed by the imperial administration, only some of them were universal, covering the whole empire, while the rest were meant only for certain regions. A  law proclaimed for one province was not necessarily valid in another province. Hence, the idea of a totalitarian grip is illusory. The imperial administrative machinery was neither particularly efficient nor omnipotent. There seems to have been considerable discrepancy between laws and practice. Emperors issued more and more severe laws and decreed more and more cruel punishments, but these did not necessarily have any impact. Imperial decrees—​with severe threats to local governors about neglecting enforcement—​were reiterated from time to time. This may imply that laws were not always put into effect at the local level. However, it is worth remembering that laws issued by one emperor were often reiterated by his successors, and that this was part of the procedures of imperial accession, being part of the routine of a succeeding ruler to repeat a number of laws of his predecessor to enhance his own position and policies. In the decree of Theodosius II in 348, it is admitted that ‘a thousand terrors of the laws that have promulgated, the penalty of exile that has been threatened, do not restrain them’.61 It is even possible that emperors did not expect their laws against pagan practices to be particularly energetically and consistently enforced. Bishop Maximus of Turin (c. 380–​465) complained that emperors issued laws defending Christianity, but did not put them into effect. Even in the middle of exultant proclamations of triumphalism in the legislation of Theodosius II, the conditional ‘if ’ reveals the uncertainties in applying imperial decrees: ‘if any shrines still remain intact’ (si qua etiam nunc restant integra), or ‘if any cult images stand even now in temples and shrines’ (simulacra, si qua etiam nunc in templis fanisque consistunt).62

61. Novellae of Theodosius II, 3.8. 62. Max. Taur. serm. 106.2. CTh 16.10.25; also 16.10.19 (in 407). For the uncertainties, see Hunt 1993, 156–​157.


The bishops and the dissenters


cclesiastical authority, referring here to church leaders (mainly bishops), was remarkably on the rise during the fourth and fifth centuries. The Christian church—​or, more appropriately put, churches—​with new and sophisticated power structures, partly challenged and partly complemented the monopoly of the empire’s elite and the emperor in terms of power and authority. In many areas, the churches eventually took on several functions of the local administration, so that a bishop could influence official policy more than a local magistrate. The third-​century persecutions had already solidified Christian communities around their bishops, and recognition of the Christian communities by the emperor enhanced even further the authority of the bishops. Constantine extended privileges such as immunity from municipal duties to bishops and clerics, and even though succeeding emperors restricted privileges, they retained this immunity. Consequently, clerical service became an attractive alternative in late Roman society.1 From the fourth century onwards, bishops gradually became the central dominating figures in late antique cities and the rural districts around the cities, and they held a wide variety of social and economic responsibilities in a growing vacuum of local power, especially in the Western provinces. The rise of the bishops and the transformation of the cities were interlinked phenomena with the decline of classical civic institutions. In addition to their ecclesiastical authority, bishops accumulated local influence.2 The role of a bishop overlapped with that of the magistrate. Bishops forged and fostered strong allegiances within urban populations. An individual bishop’s authority could be challenged by leaders of Christian subgroups (e.g., heretics and schismatics). The political and social influence and authority that bishops exercised was very much like that of imperial administrators. This is understandable, because bishops usually came from the social class of curials, which routinely took care of the duties of the city and/​or 1. Van Dam 2007a, 346. Senatorial rank, a high office, or long service in the imperial court guaranteed immunity from municipal duties (services as decurions). The law of 361 by Constantius (CTh 16.2.16) regarded perpetual immunity as the reward for the ‘excellent and singular virtue’. 2. On the bishops’ growing authority and responsibilities, see Lizzi Testa 2009, 527; Lizzi 1989, 118–​119; Gaddis 2009, 512–​514; Rapp 2005, 6. For bishops as economic actors in the fourth century, see Sotinel 1998, 105–​ 126. On the rise of bishops and the transformation of cities, see Liebeschuetz 2000, 138, and on the rise of bishops as a social and political process as well as a religious transformation, see Van Dam 2007a, 349–​350.

Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450. Maijastina Kahlos. Oxford University Press (2020). © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190067250.001.0001

The bishops and the dissenters  41 imperial administration and knew how to maintain and legitimize local power. As civic responsibilities gradually shifted to bishops and their administrators from the fifth century onwards, bishops became the most important type of regional leaders. They became patrons who could use their connections, alliances, and social prestige to benefit their communities on economic, social, political, and spiritual levels.3 The bishops of the great cities Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, and Rome exercised influential patronage over the surrounding regions and even beyond, and thereby became involved in many ecclesiastical and political disputes. It is telling that the bishops of Alexandria were called ‘new pharaohs’.4 Ecclesiastical affairs also provided a new channel for rivalries between the cities. The bishops of Rome, especially Leo I, legitimized their status as the heirs of the Apostle Peter and claimed for the primacy of Rome.5 Most bishops were leaders of Christian communities in small towns and villages. In many cities, especially in North Africa during the Donatist controversy and in the East during the several Christological disputes, there were two or more bishops, as each rival church had its own bishop.6 Even though individual local bishops did not necessarily exert great impact, bishops as a collective were powerful. As shown by the North African church councils at the turn of the fifth century, regional and local meetings of bishops aimed at influencing the decision-​making of provincial administrators and even the legislation of emperors. For example, in 401 the Council of Carthage appealed to the emperors to order the ‘complete elimination of the remnants of idols throughout all of Africa’ (ut reliquias idolorum per omnem Africam iubeant penitus amputari). The bishops on the council demanded that shrines in the countryside and remote places be destroyed.7 Coping with diversity Councils and bishops spent much ink and effort to enforce conformity of beliefs and rituals within Christianity. It was for resolving issues of discipline and doctrine that regional church councils—​namely, meetings of local bishops—​had evolved. These mechanisms for disciplining ‘the religiously incorrect’ had already 3. Basil of Caesarea, for example, considered his episcopal vocation in the light of fulfilling the duties of patronage. For bishops, especially Basil, as patrons and mediators of power, whether earthly or heavenly, see Sterk 2004,  66–​67. 4. ‘New pharaohs’: Isid. Pelus. ep. 1.152; Leo M. ep. 120.2. Hahn 2004, 38–​39; Van Dam 2007a, 354–​357. 5. Dunn 2015b, 2–​3 warns us not to read into the late antique evidence too much of the later history of the universal claims of the papacy. For the rivalries between the cities, see Van Dam 2007a, 356–​357. 6. Van Dam 2007a, 344 estimates that there were over 2,000 bishops in the empire at the same time during the doctrinal disputes between the later fourth and the later fifth centuries. 7. Council of Carthage can. 58 (CCSL 149, 196); other demands can. 84 (p. 205): De idolorum reliquiis exstirpandis. Chadwick 1985, 12 suggests that bishops had encountered legal opposition by pagans and wanted the emperors to order the destruction of all forms of cult. For the Council of Carthage, see Alan Cameron 2011, 784–​ 765; Riggs 2006, 297–​308.

42  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority been developing before the Constantinian turn. As discussed in ­chapter 2, the laws did not necessarily reflect what the lived reality was. The same caveats apply to the canons of the church councils, although they can reveal which particular collective anxieties were in play. Thus, conciliar decisions were not descriptions of the prevailing situation but rather attempts to control; they provide evidence of felt problems, not their solution. However, this does not mean that church leaders were unified in their attitudes towards religious dissidents or in their views on what practical procedures were appropriate in disciplining them. As Erika Hermanowicz points out, North African bishops disagreed on what kinds of legal threats and punishments should be applied.8 Competition between Christian subgroups was vehement. In their struggle to achieve religious unity, ecclesiastical leaders used both words and actions. Christian writers resorted to the same universalizing language of ethnicity that Romans had used to create unity. In this language, they moulded for themselves a cosmopolitan trans-​empire identity.9 Bishops such as Ambrose and Augustine enhanced the notion of religious unity, whether it was meant to exclude the option of other religions or the option of other Christian inclinations. Ambrose stated that Christians could not endure any fellowship with the alien error (alieni erroris societatem suscipere non possumus).10 Towards the end of his life (in 417), Augustine maintained that religious dissenters—​he especially had Donatists in mind—​must be returned to the unity of orthodoxy, which at first may involve fear or pain, so that they can thereafter be guided with teaching.11 The unity of the church was taken as the ideal state of affairs and the diversity of beliefs as an injurious one in the argumentation of ecclesiastical leaders; for instance, each of the parties in the Nestorian controversy in the 430s appealed to the unity that was now threatened by the chaos of doctrinal error. Cyril of Alexandria stressed the ‘one soul and one mind’ of the bishops in the struggle for the correct faith, which was under attack.12 Cyril justified all of his actions against his rival Nestorius by the welfare of the people—​or, more specifically, the salvation of those people who read Nestorius’s strange and profane blasphemies.13 Rival inclinations (i.e., heresies) were compared with sicknesses that must be

8. Conciliar decision as reflecting existing anxieties: Flower 2013a, 13; North Africa: Hermanowicz 2004, 483. For example, at the Council of Carthage in 404, bishops disagreed on the extent of the measures against Donatists. 9. See Perkins 2009, 28–​29 and Buell 2005, 38–​40 for a discussion of the preceding centuries, which lay the foundation for the universalizing language of the fourth and fifth centuries. On Christian universalism, see Fowden 1993. As the most prominent developer of Christian universalism, Eusebius of Caesarea outlined Christianity as the universal law for all humankind. Eus. dem. ev. 1.2.10; laud. Const. 9; 11. 10. Ambr. ep. 72.13. 11. Aug. ep. 185.6.21; also retract. 1.12.6 (in 426–​427): non sermone suasionis, sed vi potestatis. On Augustine’s views on coercion being for the good of religious dissidents and the hardening of his attitude over the course of time, see Markus 1990, 115–​119; Brown 1964 [1972], 260–​263; Frend 1952, 227–​243; Kahlos 2009, 111–​117. 12. Cyr. Alex. ep. 11.6 (ACO 1.1.5, 12). Trans. McGuckin 1994, 276–​279. 13. Cyr. Alex. expl. XII cap. 3 (ACO 1.1.5, 15–​25). Trans. McGuckin 1994, 282–​293.

The bishops and the dissenters  43 cured whatever the cost of the remedy. In Cyril’s depiction, Nestorius’s sickness threatened to spread in the souls of people, and therefore a remedy was needed.14 The correct doctrine was frequently associated with medicine, an antidote that was needed against the internal poison of false teachings, which was constantly appearing within the church. One of the most noteworthy writers to use the medical analogy was Epiphanius of Salamis, who presented his heresiological treatise Panarion as a remedy chest against the poisonous teachings of heresies.15 This kind of medical analogy was also used to justify religious coercion. The more potent the disease, the stronger the remedies needed to cure it. The example of Cyril indicates that ecclesiastical leaders not only struggled to enforce their authority in doctrinal disputes, but they also employed these controversies to create power. This was the case in Athanasius’s manoeuvres during the evolving stages of the Arian controversy in Alexandria.16 The competing group could be portrayed as somehow un-​Roman, alien, barbarian, and even seditious and traitorous. As we saw in c­ hapter 2, in the power struggle with Homoian Christians, Ambrose labelled their inclination as a double treason, not only against the church but also against the empire.17 The correct performance of religion and the correct interpretation of the divine guaranteed the welfare of the empire, and vice versa (that is, heresies brought disaster). Ambrose also connected Homoians with the success of the Goths, and the victory of the Nicenes with the triumph over the Goths. He was not the only one to draw these kinds of connections: Rufinus also connected Emperor Valens’s alleged ‘Arianism’ and his defeat at the hands of the Goths at Adrianople in 378.18 Ambrose even implied in a letter to Emperor Gratian that a former ‘Arian’ bishop of Poetovio (Pettau) called Julianus Valens had betrayed his city to the Goths during the Gothic War. In order to strengthen this accusation, Ambrose stated that Julianus Valens wore ‘a collar and bracelets, dressed in the manner of tribesmen [or pagans] (more indutus gentilium), being desecrated by Gothic impiety (impietate Gothica profanatus)’.19 Furthermore, Ambrose is said to have chastised the Homoian bishop Palladius of Ratiaria and blamed him—​and implicitly his

14. Cyr. Alex. ep. 11.4 (ACO 1.1.5, 11). For further examples in Cyril’s rhetoric during the Nestorian controversy, see Kahlos 2014, 1–​32. 15. On ‘theological maladies’, see Elm 2000, 94–​95; Averil Cameron 2003, 475; Lyman 2000, 154–​155; Kim 2015; Kim 2010, 382–​413. 16. Galvão-​Sobrinho 2013, 4, 155 shows that it was the theological disputes that pushed bishops to the centre of public affairs; see esp. 114–​120 on Athanasius suppressing dissent in Alexandria. 17. Ambr. fid. 2.16.139. Augustine (ep. 93)  also represented Donatists as traitorous and un-​Roman. Shaw 2011, 51. 18. Ambr. spirit. sanct. 1. prol. 17 (CSEL 79); Rufin. eccl. 11.13. 19. Ambr. ep. extra coll. 4[10].9–​11 (CSEL 82). Trans. Liebeschuetz 2005, 226–​227. As Liebeschuetz 2005, 226 n. 6 points out, Ambrose is deliberately ambiguous in his use of the terms impietas Gothica and more gentilium, which can be understood as referring to ‘Gothic paganism’ or ‘Gothic heresy’ and ‘in the fashion of barbarians’ or ‘of the pagans’.

44  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority group of Homoians—​for the barbarian invasions.20 The implication was that, as ‘Arians’ were aliens in regards to the correct religion, they must also be aliens of the empire, and even its enemies. The strength of the association of barbarian/​ Goth/​enemy with heresy/​Arian/​deviance becomes more understandable with the background of the Gothic War in the late 370s and early 380s. Thereafter, peace was made in 382 and the Goths were settled within the empire, but remarkable tension and hostility erupted from time to time in riots and violence against Goths. One consequence of the Gothic crisis and the increasing trend to connect it with Homoian Christianity was Gratian’s abandonment of his previous neutral position and his turn towards favouring the Nicenes.21 Coping with the emperor In the relationship between imperial and ecclesiastical powers, we can perceive both collaboration and rivalry. Emperors and bishops had shared interests as well as conflicting ones. The alliance of the imperial and ecclesiastical establishments represents the intimate degree of interaction between the emperors and Christian leaders. As discussed in ­chapter 1, the spheres of what we today call religion and politics—​the sacred and the secular—​overlapped, and attempts to separate these are inescapably anachronistic. Several bishops aimed to draw a distinction between the emperor and the church; Ambrose presented imperial interventions in the affairs of the church as great violations. As Neil McLynn has shown, however, these boundaries were blurred.22 The episcopate transformed into a powerful force in late Roman society, and this changed the relations between bishops and emperors. The emperor and bishops were also competing for authority as the ultimate protectors of divine peace and order. The emperor as the traditional guarantor of the divine peace was challenged by the new authority of bishops.23 In their rhetoric, both the imperial government and the leading bishops frequently argued for a connection between the unity of the empire and that of the church. From Constantine onwards, the Christian emperors sought to reinforce the unity of the empire with the enhancement of some form of centralized imperial Christian church. The sophisticated organization of the churches provided 20. Dissertatio Maximini, fol. 300 (CCSL 87, 152). See Palladius’ Apologia (Pallad. Ratiar. apol. fragmenta, fol. 338, CCSL 87, 176–​177); this fragment records Palladius’s attempt to refute Ambrose’s association of Arianism with the invasions. See Meslin 1964, 13–​15; McLynn 1994, 129. 21. Lenski 1997, 150–​152. 22. McLynn 1994, 173–​174. The modern myopia of seeing these spheres as separate is partly the consequence of late antique bishops’ influential boundary-​marking. It is also partly, of course, the influence of Reformation period. 23. Bowersock 1986, 307–​308. Drake 2011, 193 even explains the violence and intolerance as ‘the by-​product of a struggle between emperors and bishops to control access to the divine’. This hardly explains all the violence in the fourth century. Lizzi Testa 2009, 526 speaks of the unresolved tension between the imperium (empire) and sacerdotium (priesthood).

The bishops and the dissenters  45 the emperors with a convenient support in binding the population to the empire. For their part, the emperors provided privileges, of which exemption from taxes and curial duties (munera, leiturgia) were the most important. They also provided funds for the establishment and maintenance of churches and monasteries. Christian groups and their leaders also contended for imperial support. Therefore, imperial recognition of a group as belonging to orthodox Christianity was not only a doctrinal issue, but also an economic one.24 The bishops made ample use of the means that the imperial power had at its disposal in disciplining and chastising religious dissidents through coercion, whether they were pagans outside the church or heretics within it.25 As noted above, many emperors set out to suppress religious dissidents by means of their legislation. Furthermore, the imperial authorities became an executive arm that enforced the penalties decided by ecclesiastical councils and bishops. This ‘secular arm’ was not a minor force, as the army was used to intervene in ecclesiastical controversies. One of the most infamous episodes was the revolt in Alexandria in 356 between Homoian Christians and the Nicene supporters of Athanasius. Emperor Constantius ordered his troops to remove Athanasius from the bishopric see and replace him with a Homoian, George of Cappadocia. Another incident occurred in Constantinople in 404, when soldiers were marshalled against the adherents of John Chrysostom. These were not isolated cases, since the army is known to have intervened in other ecclesiastical controversies.26 One of the interventionist emperors was Valens, who in the doctrinal controversies gave his support to the Homoian bishops. Therefore, Nicene writers presented him as the tyrannical oppressor of true Christianity. Understandably, ecclesiastical writers interpreted Valens’s disciplinary policies along sectarian lines. From the ruler’s point of view, Valens was only trying to cope with the mutual conflicts of Christian sects by one of the traditional (albeit crude) methods of maintaining social tranquillity: the banishment of troublemakers.27 Valens’s task of reducing strife in the East was demanding, and he does not seem to have been very skilful in his manoeuvres. He was prone to using the army to keep order, but that was not uncommon in late Roman society. For example, he sent imperial troops to 2 4. Errington 2006, 263; Shean 2003, 82; Van Dam 2007b, 263. 25. As Honoré 1998, 6 remarks, ‘the bishops needed the emperor as much as he needed them’. Augustine rationalized the duty of Christian rulers to promote the true religion and true doctrine by all appropriate means, which included forceful intervention and violence: Aug. civ. 5.24; ep. 93.1.1; c. litt. Petil. 2.92.210; c. ep. Parm. 1.8.13–​1.9.15. 26. John Chrystostom: Pallad. dial. 9.177–​207 (SC 341, 196–​198). See Lee 2007, 200–​201 for a table of military interventions in church affairs; see also Hahn 2004, 64; Drake 2008, 448. 27. Socr. eccl. 4.1 (SC 505, 22–​27) contrasts Valens with his brother and co-​emperor Valentinian I, who deliberately distanced himself from the doctrinal controversies. Errington 2006, 175–​177, 188–​189 states that the aim of Valens’s policy was ‘not doctrinal persecution but disciplined tolerance’. Posterity has considered Valens an ‘Arian’ heretic, but Errington shows that the labels of ‘Nicene’ and ‘Arian’ Christianity simply do not fit Valens or Valentinian I. Lenski 2002, 240–​241, 246 suggests that both Valentinian I and Valens came from dominantly Homoian surroundings; whereas Valentinian changed his initial doctrinal Homoian leanings to conform with the prevailing norms in the West, when he attained the throne Valens ended up upholding the status quo in the East, where Homoianism was the dominant form of Christianity.

46  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority calm the Alexandrians and ensure the ordainment of the Homoian bishop Lucius after the death of the Nicene Athanasius. However, even Nicene writers had to admit that Valens did not coerce Nicene bishops everywhere all the time, as in many regions he let them keep their bishoprics for longer periods.28 In many instances, the interests of imperial and ecclesiastical circles intersected and were made conjoint.29 As noted in ­chapter 2, imperial legislation was largely based on the practice of ‘petition and response’, which involved bishops and councils in a great deal of lobbying. Influential persons at the imperial courts were approached with gifts; during the Nestorian controversy, for example, Cyril of Alexandria sent valuable gifts to key persons at the imperial court of Constantinople. By greasing the wheels of the administration with little gifts and bribes (sportulae), bishops acted in complete accordance with the conventions of late Roman society, which were based on patronage and involved what we would today call bribery and corruption.30 However, this does not mean that the emperors always fell neatly under the influence of bishops (such as Ambrose), as has been suggested in the cases of Gratian and Theodosius I.31 In the case of Theodosius I, it was Ambrose who posthumously constructed an idealized image of a ‘most Christian emperor’ (Christianissimus imperator), who served the cause of the Nicene church with uncompromising missionary enthusiasm. In a funerary speech for Theodosius, Ambrose stated that the late emperor had been an implacable adversary of idolatry and idolaters, a new Jacob who ‘discarded the idols of the pagans’ and whose ‘faith indeed eliminated all worship of the idols, obliterated all their ceremonies’.32 In the case of Gratian, in Ambrose’s letter from 379 we get the impression that the young emperor has taken the bishop’s side. Ambrose rejoices at Gratian’s support of him against the rivalling Homoians: ‘For you have given back to me the peace of the Church, and you have stopped the mouths (would you had also stopped the thoughts) of the faithless.’ This is what Ambrose wants to us to believe. However,

28. Troops in Alexandria: Theodoret. eccl. 4.22.13–​15 (SC 530, 276–​9). Nicenes in Alexandria and Antioch were at times left in peace; after 366 Valens did not intervene in the affairs of Athanasius in Alexandria. Basil of Caesarea kept his bishopric in Cappadocia. Historia acephala 5.8–​10 (SC 317, 162–​165); Rufin. eccl. 11.2 (PL 21, 510); Socr. eccl. 4.13.6, 4.20.1 (SC 505, 64–​65, 76–​77); Sozom. eccl. 6.12.16 (SC 495, 302–​305). For the image of Valens as a persecutor, see Lenski 2002, 243–​246. 29. Several laws were decreed and some councils were convened by emperors at the urging of influential bishops; for example, Theodosius I called a council in Rome in 391, probably on the initiative of Ambrose, with the aim of resolving the schism in Antioch. Errington 1997a, 398–​443; Liebeschuetz 2005, 49; Hunt 2007, 57–​68. 30. Cyr. Alex. ep. 96. Trans. McEnerney 1985, 151–​153. The letter of Epiphanius, archdeacon and syncellus (deputy) of Cyril, to Maximian, the bishop of Constantinople (ACO 1.4, 222–​224). Trans. McEnerney 1985, 188–​ 192. See Millar 2006, 219–​220; McGuckin 1994, 351 n. 8. On the routine giving of gifts, see MacMullen 2006, 71; Kelly 2004, 107–​185. 31. The influence of Ambrose on Gratian has been questioned by McLynn 1994, 79 and Alan Cameron 2011, 35–​36, and his influence on Theodosius I by McLynn 1994, 330–​333. For the supposed influence of Ambrose on Gratian, see Wiebe 1995, 262, and on Theodosius, see Baldini 1985, 102. 32. Ambr. obit. Theod. 4; Errington 2006, 167; Errington 1997a, 398–​443; Sizgorich 2009, 3; Ernesti 1998, 207–​208.

The bishops and the dissenters  47 it is known that Gratian agreed to hand over a church in Milan to Homoians even some time after Ambrose’s exulting letter.33 Though the triumphalist rhetoric of bishops rejoicing about how they were able to guide emperors was mostly an exaggeration, it is still likely that bishops did have some influence on imperial decision-​making. The edicts of Theodosius I in 380–​381 against heretics undertook the same issues that bishops and councils had previously set to resolve.34 In some cases, the bishops and councils may have assumed their stance in line with imperial actions and legislation, thereby finding justification for their harsh ways of dealing with religious dissidents, especially heretics. In many cases, however, there are several alternative interpretations, and the influence of bishops such as Ambrose and Augustine on coercive imperial legislation continues to be a matter of scholarly dispute.35 The imperial aim toward unity led to a collision of interests between the imperial government and the ecclesiastical establishment. Any emperor who interfered in the doctrinal and disciplinary issues of Christian communities turned out to be a challenger of the authority of the bishops. In his attempts to settle the Donatist dispute, Constantine invoked the rights of the emperor as arbiter of religious matters in the Roman Empire. Constantius II’s active involvement in doctrinal issues led to several crises in which the emperor ended up exiling Nicene bishops, such as Dionysius of Milan, Eusebius of Vercelli, and Liberius of Rome. This showed how vulnerable and dependent bishops in the Christian Empire were on the favour and privileges granted by the emperor—​even though they were outside the imperial hierarchy.36 A  bishop who lost imperial favour and his privileges could nonetheless maintain his authority (social, practical, and spiritual), as the remarkable authority of Athanasius shows.37 Decisions regarding which sect represented the true Christianity were crucial, not only from the viewpoint of doctrine and identity, but also from the perspective of imperial support and the economy of privileges and status. A sect that lost rightful possession of the nomen Christianum—​and, subsequently, imperial support—​was at risk of losing properties (including church buildings) and privileges (such as exemption from curial duties). The Christian churches challenged emperors, who consequently had to share with bishops their authority, privileged access to the divine, and the responsibility 33. Ambr. ep. extra coll. 12.[1]‌.2; this may perhaps be dated to the autumn of 379. Trans. Liebeschuetz 2005, 275. Ambrose’s note was a cover letter to De fide, which the bishop wrote for Gratian. It is probable that Gratian urged Ambrose to clarify his doctrinal stance, and this was then connected to the issue of loyalty to the emperor. For the circumstances surrounding De fide, see McLynn 1994, 112–​118; Ayres 2004, 262–​263; Alan Cameron 2011, 35–​36, 42. It is not certain what Gratian’s actions celebrated by Ambrose were; for suggestions, see Liebeschuetz 2005, 275 n. 3; McLynn 1994, 57–​58. 34. Hunt 1993, 149. 35. For a survey of the modern discussions, see Kahlos 2009, 108–​111. 36. Lizzi Testa 2009, 530. 37. Even though bishops were dependent on the privileges and favours granted by emperors, the churches developed structures of their own, independent of the imperial government.

48  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority to maintain divine order. This led to tensions and collisions between emperors and bishops. The challenge can be seen, for example, in Ambrose’s delineation of how the emperor should be subordinate to divine law and imperial authority dependent on divine intervention.38 In the famous incident of the destruction of the synagogue in Callinicum, Ambrose took the side of the local bishop responsible for the devastation. When Theodosius I  demanded criminal proceedings and punishments be brought against rioters who had attacked the synagogue, and then called upon the local bishop to rebuild it, Ambrose insinuated to Theodosius that any punitive measures taken against the bishop of Callinicum would incite disturbances. Bishops would not keep peace in society if emperors did not act as piously as they should. One could take Ambrose’s words as a veritable threat: For it is normal for bishops to restrain crowds and to be lovers of peace, except when they are themselves roused by some wrong done to God, or by an insult to the Church.39 He argued that by insisting upon punishment for violence against the synagogue, the emperor would appear both as a persecutor of the faithful and a supporter of Jews. Ambrose cited as a warning the example of Maximus, the usurper who had insisted on punishing people who rioted against a synagogue in Rome; subsequently, it was said that Maximus would come to no good and that he had become a Jew. Ambrose asked what a pious man—​probably a reference to Theodosius—​had in common with an infidel, referring to Maximus: ‘When the impious person is destroyed, the impious precedents must be destroyed too. What caused damage and made the defeated person to founder, the victor must not imitate, but condemn.’40 Hence, emperors were constantly at risk of being labelled persecutors when they took sides in the disputes between Christian sects. For example, when Constantius took the Homoians’ side against the Nicenes, this led Athanasius, Hilary of Poitiers, and Lucifer of Cagliari to depict him as a Christian tyrant—​an equivalent of the famous villains and tyrants in biblical and Roman histories, such as Cain, Saul, Jezebel, Ahab, and Pontius Pilate, as well as Nero, Decius, Maximian, Maxentius, and even the archenemy Persians. According to Hilary, Constantius only pretended to be Christian, but he was really a new enemy of Christ. Hilary described the emperor as sharing a characteristic of the former persecutors of Christians:

38. Ambr. fid. 2.16.141. Lizzi Testa 2009, 526; Drake 2011, 216–​217. Emperors had shared access to the divine with other priests, but during the early imperial period their authority had been unchallenged: see Várhelyi 2010. For their part, bishops were challenged by charismatic monks. 39. Ambr. ep. 74.6 (=ep. 40 Maur.) to Theodosius I in 388/​389. Trans. Liebeschuetz 2005, 99. Christian rioters had burned a synagogue in Callinicum, a small town on the eastern frontier. When Theodosius I ordered the local bishop to rebuild the synagogue and the persons responsible for the devastation to be punished, Ambrose protested in a letter to the emperor. Lee 2000, 159–​162; Chin 2016, 63–​75; Drake 2011, 210; Sizgorich 2009, 82–​83. 40. Ambr. ep. 74.7, 74.17, 74.23. Trans. Liebeschuetz 2005, 107, modified.

The bishops and the dissenters  49 You fight against God, you rage against the Church, you persecute the saints, you detest those who proclaim Christ, you abolish religion, you are now a tyrant not just in human matters but also divine.41 As we saw in the case of Valens, in the apologetics of the exiled Nicene bishops, the emperor was considered a persecutor. According to Sozomen, the persecution that the bishops faced under Valens’s reign was equal to the persecutions inflicted by pagans.42 The emperor could also be slandered as a persecutor if he did not effectively demonstrate that he was a strong champion against paganism or heresy. Theodoret of Cyrrhus painted Valens as a friend of pagans:  the emperor gave ‘complete license’ to everyone—​‘those under cover of Christian name, pagans, Jews, and the rest’—​to worship in any manner they wished. The only exception were the Nicenes: thus, Valens was ‘a foe to none but them that held the apostolic doctrine’, driving them from their churches. Therefore, according to Theodoret, various pagan and Jewish practices flourished in Antioch under Valens’s reign. Gregory of Nazianzus declared Valens a new Julian and a fake Christian.43 To sum up, emperors and bishops competed for authority in religious affairs and supported each other in regard to religious dissidents. The most significant concern for emperors was civic peace and order, but intra-​Christian contentions, especially between Nicenes and Homoians, threatened the peace in society. Some fourth-​century emperors gave their support to the Nicene church, and others to Homoian Christians, and this affected the status of the groups, their privileges, and their ecclesiastical properties. In many cases, the interests of the emperors and the churches were mutual, and this affected the religious legislation and policies concerning pagans (whatever was meant by the term ‘pagan’ in imperial decrees in each case). In other instances, bishops and councils regarded emperors’ policies as inadequate. From time to time, imperial and ecclesiastical authorities banded together, but at another moment they collided.

41. Hilar. Pict. in Const. 7 (SC 334, 180). Trans. Flower 2013a, 113. For the villainizing of Constantius and the imagery of a Christian tyrant, see Flower 2013a, 82, 99–​100, 110–​113. 42. Sozom. eccl. 6.12.16 (SC 495, 308). See also Socr. eccl. 4.1; Theodoret. eccl. 5.20. 43. Theodoret. eccl. 5.21.3 (SC 530, 424); Greg. Naz. or. 43.30 (SC 384, 192); or. 42.3 (SC 384, 56–​58). For further discussion, see Leppin 1996, 98; Elm 2012, 341, 473.


The local limits of imperial and ecclesiastical power


e have discussed (­chapter  3) how emperors and bishops sometimes supported one another and sometimes contended with each other. As we consider the power relations in late Roman society, we cannot ignore the aristocracy in general and the landowning elites at the local level. Even though the late Roman emperor was an autocratic ruler, he could not rule by himself. He had to justify his power to Roman aristocrats and have their support in his policies. In late Roman society, aristocrats had remarkable power, economic resources, and prestige, and no emperor could ignore their influence, especially on the local level. Pagan aristocrats continued to hold administrative offices and even high positions at the imperial courts—​despite all the lofty declarations of banning dissidents from the court, army, and administration.1 In ­chapter 2, we also discussed the local character of legislation and the ways in which legislators responded to local requests and lobbying. On the one hand, aristocratic circles at the regional level brought local issues to the imperial courts and lobbied for their views to be considered by those involved in decision-​making at the central level of the administration. The wishes of the central administration and the local realities were often in tension with each other, as had been the case since the early imperial period. In some cases, imperial decrees could be ignored in the local setting if they were not well received. Local authorities could decide not to enforce a law if they expected disturbances, for example, or they could delay the application of imperial decisions if they had particular sympathies. Some governors had specific interests and were keen to enforce anti-​pagan or anti-​heretical laws.2 Even if local authorities were willing to enforce imperial enactments, they definitely had other problems to worry about, especially in the western provinces from the early fifth century onwards. They did not necessarily have resources to vigorously enforce all laws. For example, in the case of blood offerings, sacrifices used for illegal divination were the main concern of the authorities. It was

1. On aristocrats limiting the imperial power, see esp. Salzman 2002, 178–​199; Salzman 2007, 210; Salzman 2008, 190; Brown 1992, 9–​34; Millar 1977, 3–​12. 2. On the great gulf between imperial law-​giving and enforcement on the ground, see Hunt 1993, 143–​144; Van Dam 1985a, 14–​15; Bradbury 1994, 133–​134; Brown 1998b, 638–​641.

Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450. Maijastina Kahlos. Oxford University Press (2020). © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190067250.001.0001

The local limits of imperial and ecclesiastical power  51 the local bishops who were active in introducing repressive measures against dissidents, usually rival Christian groups, in their bishoprics. As discussed in ­chapter 2, it has been suggested that the repetition of laws—​with repeated warnings to local authorities—​shows that these rulings were not obeyed as widely as the imperial government would have wanted. Nonetheless, we do not know to what degree the repetition of prohibitions to perform sacrifices, for example, was due to widespread disobedience.3 As Jill Harries points out, ‘to discuss Roman Law in terms of “obedience” or the reverse is a misconception of what law is for and contributes to a mistaken assessment of its real effectiveness’. The repeated warnings and complaints about disobedience were part of the moralizing legal language. In the legislation, emperors used a language of power that was designed to hold their administrators to account.4 The legislators faced similar difficulties with the enforcement of other laws as well, not only those prohibiting old practices. The seemingly authoritarian hold of solemn and severe late Roman laws was illusory. The imperial administrative machinery was neither particularly efficient nor omnipotent. Imperial proclamations were not necessarily executed at the local level, and imperial decrees were not necessarily well known outside the regions for which they were primarily issued. Even if laws were theoretically valid in all parts of the empire, people were rarely acquainted with particular laws, except for a number of lawyers and teachers of law, or those who could take advantage of appealing to particular laws (such as bishops eager to campaign against their religious rivals).5 Patronage and local landowners In order to understand the local realities of dissident groups, it is best to look at the patronage relationships and discuss the conflicts of interests in the regular routines of everyday life. A powerful landlord or landlady could influence his or her clients to either embrace Christianity or retain old practices. The same applied to the rivalry between Donatists and Caecilianists in North Africa, where local landowners exerted pressure on their tenants. There was often a conflict of interests between local landowners and bishops in their struggle for hegemony at the regional level. Sometimes they had shared interests, or at least that is what 3. Already A. H. M. Jones 1964, viii stressed that the existence of laws did not presuppose widespread public obedience, but rather reflected ‘pious aspiration’. For recent estimates, see Beard, North, and Price 1998, 375; Fowden 1998, 540. 4. Harries 1999, 4, 93–​96 criticizes A. H. M. Jones (see the preceding note); see also Alan Cameron 2011, 72, which points out that ‘it was no part of the responsibility of any official to enforce the law in the way that modern states enforce the law’. 5. On the difficulties of making laws known, see Errington 2006, 91; Heather and Moncur 2001, 48–​49 on Libanius or. 48.15–​16, which lists the hindrances of enforcing the law on decurions, starting from the fact that the imperial authorities should first make people aware of the law; finally they should struggle against local governors who were not interested in taking any pains to put the law into effect—​‘if any of you were willing to apply the law’, Libanius writes.

52  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority local bishops such as Maximus of Turin in the West and John Chrysostom in the East were at pains to prove. The relationship between a patron and a client was one of the most important forms of dependence, dating from the Republic period through the imperial era until Late Antiquity. In the late Roman Empire, the patronage system did not differ essentially from the early imperial period. The ties of patronage crossed all levels of late antique society: clients could be humiliores, honestiores, senators, peasants, rich, and poor. Patronage relationships were a universally acknowledged part of how Roman society functioned and how the empire was governed, but what was under dispute in Late Antiquity were the boundaries between suitable and unsuitable dependence. Likewise, it was debated who the proper patrons were, especially in regions where new patrons, bishops, and military commanders competed with traditional ones, namely landowners.6 As we will see in ­chapter 5, bishops did not want to act against the landowning elite. They were keen to emphasize respect for private property and consequently wanted to influence the local landowners, who eventually decided whether or not the laws were applied, and whether pagan cult places were devastated or allowed to remain open on their estates. Even the powerful bishops had to strike a balance between different parties and forces—​the imperial government, local administration, landowners, competing ecclesiastical leaders, competing Christian groups, ascetic movements, and peasants—​Christians and pagans alike. In these social settings of late Roman society, it becomes more understandable that local landowners could play a decisive role in guiding rural populations to Christian influence in Italy, Gaul, and North Africa, and that ecclesiastical leaders looked upon them for decisive disciplining. A landowner could give socio-​ economic support to some cults and withdraw it from other cults. Christian domini were expected to guide their tenants by means of positive actions, such as by sponsoring churches on their properties. They could also pressure them by tearing down pagan cult places.7 How successful and comprehensive this ‘Christianization’ was, however, is another matter. This is why many bishops often addressed landowners in their sermons and letters. Augustine stated that the master of a household ought to use all of his authority to either make his dependants Christians or encourage them to remain so.8 Augustine wrote that there was a proverb in Hippo about a certain aristocrat: if he were a Christian, no one would remain pagan. This remark reveals the expectations that bishops put on the landowning elite.9 The prestige of aristocratic conversions was substantial, but 6. Garnsey 1970; Garnsey and Woolf 1989, 153–​167; Wallace-​Hadrill 1989, 63–​87; Bowes 2010, 63–​64; Saller 1982; Saller 2000, 817–​854; Humfress 2007b, 57; Bowes 2010, 62–​63. 7. Ioh. Chrys. hom. 18 in act. apost. 4. In the fourth and fifth centuries, however, landowners and ecclesiastical leaders competed for prestige and authority, and private religiosity turned out to be problematic for church leaders, as the cases of Priscillianism and Pelagianism show. 8. Aug. civ. 19.16. 9. Aug. enarr. ps. 54.13. See also Lizzi Testa 2010, 95.

The local limits of imperial and ecclesiastical power  53 even more important was the socio-​economic influence of the leading landowners. Augustine stressed respect for private property in his preaching, and calming his listeners if there was a risk that they would become too zealous. He admitted that there were still pagan shrines on the estates of many pagan landowners, but he stressed that Christian enthusiasts should wait patiently until landowners became Christians and then destroy the pagan shrines on their estates themselves.10 Augustine complains in several sermons about how Christians were afraid of offending those in more powerful positions, and consequently were influenced to take part in pagan practices. He also writes that the needs of everyday life led people either to choose Christianity or to retain pagan practices.11 Similarly, local landowners exerted pressure on their tenants in the rivalry between the Donatists and Caecilianists in North Africa. The Council of Carthage of 411 instructed local leaders (decurions, landowners, and village leaders) to close Donatist churches and hand their property over to the Caecilianists.12 A decree of 412 ordered landowners to flog their Donatist coloni and servi, and magistrates to collect fines. If landowners failed to draw their tenants and slaves away from Donatism, they were expected to pay penalties.13 In his letter 93, Augustine stressed paternal care in correcting Donatists and bringing them ‘back’ to the ‘catholic’ church, as he was concerned about the Donatists inciting slaves and peasants against their landlords.14 A Christian landowner was expected to put an end to pagan practices on his estates. In a number of sermons, Maximus, the bishop of Turin, advised the divites and potentes, the rich and the powerful, in his audience to wipe out the pagan impurities on their properties.15 He stated that idolatry polluted the whole community—​not only those who were directly participating in idolatry, but also those who were aware of it and kept quiet. Idolatry endangered everyone in the community, and it was the duty of a landowner to stop it.16 Maximus complained about Christian landlords who pretended not to know what peasants were performing on their estates: ‘I do not know, I have not ordered [them to do so]; this is not my fault, this is none of my business.’17

10. Aug. serm. 62.17–​18. On the propaganda value, in the case of the renowned rhetorician Marius Victorinus in Rome for the fame of the Roman church, see Aug. conf. 8.2.3. 11. Aug. serm. 62.5, 81.7, 47.18. Warning about earthly concerns: Aug. serm. 360A.8; catech. rud. 16.24. 12. Edictum cognitoris (SC 224, 974–​976). 13. CTh 16.5.52. 14. Aug. ep. 93. In ep. 108.6–​8, Augustine portrays Donatists as militants and troublemakers, and as challenging the established hierarchical order of Roman society. Kahlos 2009, 125–​126; see also Forst 2013, 52–​55. 15. Max. Taur. serm. 42.1, 106.2, 107.1, 108. On pagan practices in Maximus’s sermons, see Merkt 1997, 111, 139, 198 and Kahlos 2013c, 159–​171. 16. Max. Taur. serm. 107.2. 17. Max. Taur. serm. 106.2. Maximus (serm. 108) stated that a landlord who did not tolerate sacrileges on his property did not have a defiled conscience. Zeno of Verona (serm. 1.25.10) and Gaudentius of Brescia (tract. 9.2) also complained about the laxity of landlords. For a discussion, see Lizzi Testa 2010, 100.

54  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority An attempt to correct landowners was made through imperial legislation: it was decreed that landlords were to destroy pagan shrines.18 Nonetheless, fifth-​ and even sixth-​century bishops (for example, Gregory of Rome) continued to complain about landlords and magistrates who allowed peasants to persist with their idolatry, and they reminded landowners of their responsibilities for the souls of their tenants. Gregory insisted that Sardinian tenants should be persuaded with such a severe increase in their rents that it would force them to Christianity.19 Laxity or tolerance? When complaining about the laxity of landlords, Maximus of Turin described them with the words coniventia/​conniventia and dissimulatio.20 The same terms were repeated in imperial decrees, where the legislator complained about negligence in enforcing laws or the disregard of judges. The words appear also in laws forbidding pagan practices and condemning heresies. In CTh (in 392), forbidding several pagan practices, it is declared that the law should be enforced by the judges and defensores and decuriones of the cities. Then the legislator feels it necessary to warn that if some think that these crimes should be concealed through favouritism (gratia) or overlooked through carelessness (incuria), they will be subject to judicial indignation. Furthermore, the judges are warned: ‘If the judges should be advised of such crimes and should defer punishment through connivance (dissimulatio), they shall be fined thirty pounds of gold.’21 Dissimulatio, gratia, and incuria—​connivance, favouritism, and negligence—​ were part of the legislation and administration of the late Roman Empire. As Raymond Van Dam puts it, this might to us ‘look like corruption, insubordination, or inefficiency’, depending on the situation. Dissimulatio and the like seem to have been an integral part of the late Roman administration. This was partly due to the low salaries of minor officials in the administration; there was a tendency to acquire additional income from all sorts of extra payments and bribes, and officials were more or less expected to rely on these.22 Many of the extant laws prohibiting pagan activities threatened penalties against authorities who failed to put the law into practice. In 408, in a law against pagans and heretics that ordered their buildings and temples to be released for public use, the emperors proclaimed that they were compelled ‘by the pertinacity

18. CTh (in 408): domini destruere cogantur. On the role of landowners in religious coercion, see also Garnsey and Humfress 2001, 91; Kahlos 2018, 182–​207. 19. Greg. M.  ep. 4.23 (CCSL 140A, 241); ep. 4.26 (CCSL 140A, 245). MacMullen 1984, 144 n.  18; Markus 2001, 30. 20. Max. Taur. serm. 106.1–​2. 21. CTh 22. Van Dam 1985a, 14–​15; also Meyer-​Zwiffelhoffer 2011, 113–​114.

The local limits of imperial and ecclesiastical power  55 of the Donatists and the madness of pagans which have been enkindled by the evil sloth of the judges (mala desidia iudicum), by the connivance of the office staffs (coniventia officiorum), and by the contempt of municipal senates’ to repeat the previously given regulations.23 Another example is a law from 409 targeting heretics, Jews, and pagans, which included a reminder that the laws previously issued against those groups had not diminished in force. This message was particularly meant for judges, who ‘shall know that the precepts thereof must be obeyed with loyal devotion’. They are then threatened with punishments ‘if any of the judges through the crime of connivance (peccato coniventiae) should fail to execute the present law’. The law of 409, which made committing acts of outrage against clerics a capital offense, was connected with riots in Calama and elsewhere in North Africa. The legislator states that the deed was done with the connivance of judges (coniventia iudicum)—​thus, with the silent approval of the judges—​and because of their culpable dissimulation (culpabili dissimulatione) the crime was left unpunished.24 As E.  D. Hunt remarks, anti-​pagan and anti-​ heretical laws issued by Christian emperors, especially Theodosius I, were intended to control the public comportment of magistrates, judges, governors, and the ruling elite in general, rather than the population of the empire as a whole.25 How should we understand the legislators’ repeated threats in regard to the negligence of magistrates and judges when enforcing laws forbidding pagan practices and heresies? Jill Harries states that ‘one should not believe everything emperors, or their elite imitators, said or wrote was true’ (on the corrupt behaviour of judges, for example). Furthermore, complaints should not be interpreted as self-​ evident evidence of widespread misconduct of magistrates, especially judges.26 In the imperial legislation, the terms dissimulatio and coniventia had a clearly negative meaning. In other contexts, they could have both positive and negative senses, depending on the perspective of the writer. During the controversy over the altar of Victoria (in 384), Symmachus and Ambrose used the terms dissimulatio and coniventia in completely different ways. In his third relatio, Symmachus offered reasons for the restoration of the altar of Victoria back to the Senate house; among other arguments, he cited the example of earlier moderate emperors, whose dissimulatio he recommended as the good policy of religious moderation.27 In his first response to Symmachus’s relatio, however, Ambrose attacked this validation of dissimulatio: 23. Sirm. 12 (5 June 408). Trans. Pharr 1952, 483. See also CTh 16.5.4 (in 378): dissimulatione iudicum. Other examples include CTh 16.10.4, 16.10.13, 16.10.19. 24. Sirm. 14 (CTh 16.2.31, 16.5.46; 15 January 409). 25. Hunt 1993, 157 on CTh 16.10.10–​12 (in 391–​392). 26. Harries 1999, 5. Harries speaks of ‘a culture of criticism’ in which historians, rhetoricians, and bishops also condemned abuses of power with similarly assertive and critical attitudes. This does not mean that ‘there was, necessarily, more to criticize in the fourth and fifth centuries than there had been earlier’. 27. Symm. rel. 3.3. On argumentation, see Klein 1972, 31; Vera 1981, 16–​18; Rosen 1994, 29–​36. The recent emperors probably include Constantius II and Valentinian I. Barrow 1973, 37 translates dissimulatio as ‘the policy

56  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority Now everyone is in the service of this true God, and he who undertakes to worship God with his innermost spirit offers him neither duplicity, nor prevarication (non dissimulationem, non conniventiam), but zeal and devotion to the faith.28 Ambrose stresses here that God is to be served (militat) with the zeal of faith and devotion, not with pretence and indifference. The service of God is militia, which can be understood in the sense of both military service and administrative office. In either case, service to God should be as faithful and zealous as service to the emperor. Then Ambrose states that ‘nobody deceives God to whom all secrets, even of the heart, are crystal clear’. It is implied that in imperial service, one can make a trickery of dissimulatio and coniventia. In the service of God, this is not possible. In this way, Ambrose turns the positive sense of Symmachus into something completely dubious. In Ambrose’s treatment, dissimulatio is merely a trickery and subordination, by means of which the emperor’s regulations are left disobeyed through negligence and deception. Ambrose returns to the dissimulatio in his second response to Symmachus’s relatio, showing his indignation at Symmachus’s strategy of making dissimulatio a positive thing and interpreting the emperor’s ‘turning a blind eye as if it were approval’ of enduring pagan practices.29 The terms dissimulatio and conniventia insinuate the complexities of everyday life behind the harsh-​sounding imperial proclamations. Symmachus’s strategy of using the term in a positive sense indicates that the terms could also have positive connotations. Negligence, favouritism, or inertia for one person could, for someone else, be ‘toleration’—​to use an anachronistic modern term here. Ambrose certainly understood the power of Symmachus’s strategy and was at pains to repudiate this interpretation and return his audience back to the negative connotations of deception.

of the blind eye’; Liebeschuetz 2005, 72 as ‘the policy of turning a blind eye’; Klein 1972, 101 as ‘Duldsamkeit’; Döpp 2009, 77 as ‘Duldung’; and Canfora 1991, 145 as ‘tolleranza’. 28. Ambr. ep. 72.2. Trans. Liebeschuetz 2005. 29. Ambr. ep. 73.22. Trans. Liebeschuetz 2005, 89.


Authority and aggression


his chapter examines the various standpoints that imperial and ecclesiastical authorities had towards the coercion of religious dissidents, especially violence towards people and their cult places. Periodic outbursts of aggression between religious groups were sometimes aggravated and even instigated by church leaders, while sometimes they were settled and even condemned by them. Imperial authorities sought to keep the mechanisms of coercive rule under their own control. Therefore, imperial authorities needed to suppress and punish other forms of aggression than their officially sanctioned violence. While I analyse only a few cases, the purpose of this chapter is to show the variety of attitudes held by the imperial and ecclesiastical authorities and the responses to them. The differences in local circumstances were so great that it is useless to make generalizations. For example, in regard to pagan shrines, we have evidence of maintenance, destruction, abandonment, and transformation of temples in Late Antiquity.1 Violence in late Roman society has been a much debated issue in recent research. One question is whether there was an increase in violence in late Roman society in comparison to the early imperial period. This leads us to the problem of the number, nature, and representativeness of our sources, again as compared to the early empire. Furthermore, we have far more reports about crises than normal patterns of life.2 Moreover, the question of whether there was increased participation of people in violent conflicts, especially in religiously motivated violence, is a topic that remains to be debated.3 The question draws us into a bog of interpretations. In local conflicts, are we able to distinguish religious impetuses

1. For local differences, see Sears 2011, 229; Talloen and Vercauteren 2011, 347–​387. 2. This includes the eternal problem of historical sources that tend to mention and highlight the dramatic, violent, spectacular, and extraordinary at the expense of repeated routines and undisturbed everyday life. See the chapters in Drake 2006b; Mayer and Neil 2013; Mayer and de Wet 2018; see also Magalhães de Oliveira 2012; Sizgorich 2009; Gaddis 2005. 3. Garnsey and Humfress 2001, 150 suggest that in the fourth century, and especially from the early fifth century onwards, ‘popular participation in religious competition and violence was on the increase’. But how can we estimate that? Garnsey and Humfress regard crowd violence, such as the killing of the Neoplatonic philosopher Hypatia in 415, as relatively rare. Alan Cameron 2011, 797–​798 states that there were certainly confrontations between pagans and Christians, but probably fewer than have usually been surmised. Based on his analysis of fourth-​century Alexandria, Antioch, Gaza, and Panopolis, Hahn 2004, 292 states that religious violence was not the norm but the exception.

Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450. Maijastina Kahlos. Oxford University Press (2020). © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190067250.001.0001

58  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority from other kinds of motivation, including political and economic ones?4 Church historians and hagiographers often interpreted violent encounters in urban and rural settings with a religious overtone. As we will see in ­chapter 5 (para 6), triumphalist religious interpretations were a dominant topos in accounts of violence. However, social and economic factors were also intertwined with religious fervour. For this discussion, it is crucial to understand how these conflicts affected the status of dissident groups, whatever the motivation may have been. In the fourth and fifth centuries, at least judging from the attention paid to them in the extant sources, the conflicts were mainly intra-​Christian. The attention of imperial and ecclesiastical authorities was drawn less to pagans and more to heretics. During Augustine’s bishopric at the turn of the fifth century, North Africa saw two episodes of coercion: one was a repression of pagans that was at least partly imperially supported, and the other was an attempt to suppress Donatist Christians in the controversy between Donatists and Caecilianists (‘catholics’). In 392 the Serapeion in Alexandria was destroyed by a Christian crowd; the incident became the paradigmatic example of the annihilation of paganism in both late antique historiography and modern accounts, whether it was valued as a positive or negative incident. To this period also belongs the forced conversion of the Jews to Christianity in Minorca.5 The fate of the pagan temples in Late Antiquity has also been disputed in recent scholarship. Put bluntly, on one extreme the literary accounts have been viewed as mere narrative constructions without any historical basis, while the other extreme has taken narratives at face value as depicting authentic historical events. Hardly any researchers are really at either extreme, but instead tend to value the literary sources in different ways.6 Late antique hagiographies, sermons, ecclesiastical histories, and other Christian literary works abound with dramatic accounts of temples being destroyed or converted into churches. A less drastic version, however, often emerges from non-​literary materials—​archaeological evidence, papyri, and inscriptions—​that tell us a more nuanced story of the temples. This is not to deny that destructions took place and that ecclesiastical and imperial authorities were sometimes even involved in such actions, either initiating or supporting them. Christian accounts of temple destructions usually come from literary works with an ideological agenda. In many cases, Christian 4. Hahn 2004, 12, 292 argues that religious conflicts were mingled with other issues, such as political, social, and economic problems. Meier 2005 also remarks that it is characteristic of most fourth-​century intra-​Christian conflicts that religious problems cannot be separated from political implications. While religious explanations have been the dominant interpretation of many conflicts, in the case of North Africa there was also a tendency to explain the struggles between Donatists and Caecilianists as resulting from peasant rebellions and revolutionary social struggles; for interpretations, see Shaw 2011, 1–​4. 5. On the Serapeion, see the discussion below. On Jews in Minorca, see Sivan 2013, 121–​136. 6. Sauer 2003 [2009], 37 represents the trend of according considerable weight to literary sources (e.g., on hagiography); see also Fowden 1978, 53–​78. Van Dam 1985a, 2 seems to downplay clashes, stressing ‘the pale pastels of a misty process’ that in literary narratives ‘were outlined instead in the swift, bold strokes of violence and mass conversion’.

Authority and aggression  59 authors, especially hagiographers, were writing about destruction and conversion in a considerably later period than the purported events. Consequently, these depictions may be better understood as the ways in which writers and their audiences looked back and sought to explain the pagan past from their contemporary perspective. This does not exclude the possibility that there was violence and devastation, even if the writers conveyed the events in a formulaic way, common to many hagiographies, with stereotypical and distorted images of pagan practices—​such as the stock motif of human sacrifices performed in temples that consequently are destroyed.7 The literary accounts may in some cases be balanced by inscriptions and papyri, which can give us indications about when regular cult activities ceased in temples and when temples or their building materials were adapted to new purposes (not necessarily always to religious use). Local differences in these changes can be considerable. For example, in Egypt, cult activities ceased in Thebes before the fourth century; in other places, such as Hermonthis, cultic activity continued well into the fourth century.8 Of course, the available archaeological evidence is not consistently preserved, nor do the literary accounts represent all regions. It seems that temples were not as widely destroyed or converted into churches as the hagiographies and church histories claim. The narrative of Christian triumphalism In the Christian accounts, aggressions against and conversions of pagan shrines served an important function in the evolving self-​fashioning of Christian identity. Pagan temples were presented as a threat to Christian souls and the community. Bishops and charismatic ascetic leaders were portrayed as saving endangered souls by annihilating and purifying old cult places. In hagiographies and Christian historiography, the destructions or closures were usually depicted as sudden and complete.9 These accounts should be read as a means of recalling and explaining in a dramatic and understandable way how the contemporary order of things had emerged from the pagan past. Therefore, accounts reveal the needs of Christian communities to reinforce their identity and frame their past. Reading through these testimonies is thus an exploration of the mindsets, hatreds, hopes, and fears of Christian communities.10 Roger Bagnall has even 7. Dijkstra 2011, 389–​436 offers an excellent discussion on the problems of the temple destructions in Egypt and the complexities of the literary sources. 8. See Dijkstra 2011, 402–​406 on the changes in Egypt. Temples could be reused in various ways in different localities: as a military camp (Thebes/​Luxor), a monastery (Deir el-​Bahari), a prison and courthouse (Oxyrhynchus), an apartment building (Oxyrhynchus), or a martyr’s shrine (Hermopolis). 9. Oros. hist. 7.28.8; Excerpta Valesiana 34 (LCL 331, 528); Chronica Gallica 468 (MGH AA 9, 643): Edicto Augusti Constantini gentilium templa subversa sunt; Prosp. chron. 1035 (MGH AA 9, 451): Edicto Constantini gentilium templa subversa sunt. See Sizgorich 2009, 8–​11; Vinzent 1998, 48; and Gaddis 2005, 6–​14 for the defining narratives of Christianity. 10. For the social logic of the text, see Spiegel 1990, 78–​85; Elizabeth A. Clark 2004, 162–​165.

60  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority stated that traditional religion was already in decline in Egypt from the beginning of Roman rule (from 30 BCE onwards) and continued at an accelerated pace from the 220s onwards. Bagnall’s interpretation has raised several counterarguments among researchers of late antique religiosity.11 Concerning traditional Roman religion, Alan Cameron has argued for a similar trend of decline, with Roman religion drying out by itself, notwithstanding the spread of Christianity.12 The highly dramatic accounts may function in the manner of myths, clothing complex gradual processes in the form of simple violent outbursts. In her insightful analysis of the temple destruction narratives, Aude Busine shows that the devastation of the Zeus Belos temple by Marcellus of Apamea and the Zeus Marnas temple by Porphyry of Gaza were part of myth-​making processes: these narratives were designed to reinvent local Christian history and shape new civic identities.13 In his Ecclesiastical History, Theodoret describes how during the reign of Theodosius I, Marcellus, the bishop of Apamea, succeeded in devastating the huge temple of Zeus Belos. This happened, after the vain attempts of a praetorian prefect and his troops, with the help of God, workmen, and fire. The account is embellished with a black demon who tries to stop the fire; however, the demon is driven away with the sign of the cross and sprinkles of holy water. Theodoret writes, Then the fire, affected by its adversary the water as though it had been oil, caught the timber and consumed it in an instant. When their support had vanished, the columns themselves fell down, and dragged another twelve with them. The side of the temple that was connected with the columns was dragged down by the violence of their fall and carried away with them. The crash, which was tremendous, was heard throughout the town, and all ran to see the sight. No sooner did the multitude hear of the flight of the hostile demon than they broke out into a hymn of praise to God.14 Theodoret wrote his account sixty years after the purported destruction, and he was the first author to depict it, but as Busine shows, he ‘took considerable liberties in his treatment of reality and included miracle stories in his description of facts’. The account extolled the virtues of the local bishop, Marcellus, and thereby enhanced the prestige and power of the Syrian episcopacy.15 11. Bagnall 2001, 148–​156; pace Frankfurter 2006, 13–​37, with the latter insisting on the vital Egyptian religion. For a balanced account, see Dijkstra 2008, 14–​36. 12. Alan Cameron 2011, 12 on Roman paganism petering out ‘with a whimper rather than a bang’. 13. Busine 2013, 344–​346. Busine focuses on the meaning of temple destruction narratives at the time when these accounts were composed. For the function of Christian triumphalism, see also Hahn 2015, 123 and Kristensen 2013, 76. 14. Theodoret. eccl. 5.22 (SC 530, 426–​432). Trans. NPNF, modified. 15. Busine 2013, 328–​330. Sozom. eccl. 7.15.13 writes generally of Marcellus converting pagans and destroying shrines, but does not mention the temple of Zeus Belos.

Authority and aggression  61 The narrative of temple destructions in Gaza, including the temple of Zeus Marnas, in The Life of Porphyry, provides another example of later elaborations of historical reality. The temple of Marnas is mentioned by Jerome, who in a letter from 400/​401 lists the Christian triumphs over paganism, writing that ‘Marnas mourns in his prison at Gaza, and fears continually that his temple will be overthrown’. In his Isaiah commentary (from around 407), Jerome refers to both the Serapeion and Marneion, which ‘have arisen as churches of the Lord’.16 In The Life of Porphyry, the writer Mark the Deacon depicts the missionary activities of Porphyry, the bishop of Gaza. Porphyry leads an intense lobbying campaign at the imperial court of Constantinople and, after receiving the blessing of the imperial authorities, eventually heads the destruction of Marneion. The account is filled with various adventures, difficulties and turns, dreams and visions. At first, Emperor Arcadius is reluctant to interfere in the Gazan affairs, but Porphyry succeeds in winning Empress Eudoxia to his cause.17 Porphyry is aided by the imperial officer Cynegius and his troops, authorized by the letter from the emperor. As Cynegius arrives with his soldiers, idolaters flee. Mark the Deacon describes the devastation of many shrines and idols, remarking that after these attacks, the Gazaean people, who in their simplicity had been led astray, were now ‘converted unto the holy faith’ and ‘became zealous Christians’. The destruction of Marneion was more difficult, as the priests hid their idols in the sanctuary and barred the doors from inside. However, God helped the bishop through the visions of a seven-​year-​old child, who revealed how to open the doors with liquid pitch, sulphur, and lard. Consequently, the Marneion was conquered and burned, and after purification a church called Eudoxiana was built in its place.18 The writer Mark the Deacon claims to have been the assistant of the bishop and thus an eyewitness to the events, which have usually been dated to the early fifth century. The Life of Porphyry, at least in its extant Greek version, is, however, probably from the sixth century or later.19 The late dating of the work has led several scholars to dismiss the events described in it as almost pure fiction, even casting doubts on the historicity of Porphyry himself. The contemporary writer Jerome confirms the fate of Marneion, but it is notable that neither he nor any other ancient author mentions Porphyry, a bishop of Gaza.20 In Mark the Deacon’s hagiography of Porphyry of 16. Hier. ep. 107.2. Trans. Wright (LCL 262, 342). In the letter, Jerome speaks of the threat, not any factual destruction. Hier. comm. in Is. 7.17 (PL 24, 249). For Marneion, see Hahn 2004, 213–​215; Belayche 2001a, 241–​247; Drake 2000, 428–​429; Van Dam 1985a, 1–​20; Fowden 1978, 73–​75. 17. Marc. Diac. v. Porph. 37–​54 Kugener. 18. Marc. Diac. v. Porph. 63–​75 Kugener. 19. The text has been preserved in a Greek version and a shorter, Georgian one (which is possibly based on a lost Syriac version). For a discussion of the dating of The Life of Porphyry, see Grégoire and Kugener 1930, vii–​xxix; Barnes 2010, 260–​283. 20. Busine 2013, 330–​332; Alan Cameron 1987, 355 n. 60; Alan Cameron 2011, 799; Barnes 2010, 283; Rapp 2001, 55. By contrast, a number of other scholars (Trombley 1993a, 187–​282; Hahn 2004, 202–​209; Kristensen 2013, 78–​85; Lim 1995, 82–​84; Drake 2000, 428–​429; Van Dam 1985a, 1–​20) have accepted the events as historical despite the problems of the source.

62  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority Gaza, as in Theodoret’s account of Marcellus of Apamea, the dramatic and violent collapse of a pagan temple serves the triumphalistic agenda of the ecclesiastical writers. The demise of the temples symbolized the Christian victory over demonic paganism. At the same time, the accounts gave a Christianizing explanation for what was the present state of affairs.21 Augustine also alludes to the demise of paganism in North Africa in his works, especially in his famous mention in The City of God of the imperial overthrow of the temples and demolition of cult images in Carthage in 399 by the imperial legates Gaudentius and Jovius (deorum templa everterunt et simulacra fregerunt). Augustine sees this happening in accordance with the prophecies. His depiction must be understood as an exaggeration and set in the context of his polemic in The City of God. The devastation of traditional cult places in Carthage seems not to have been as thorough as he would have us believe. Imperial officials only closed temples. In his sermons, Augustine deals with the problems caused by continuing traditional practices (whether we define them as pagan or not). Therefore, what probably happened in 399 was only the closure of temples by imperial authorities, not devastations. The scope of the legates’ procedures seems to have been limited to a number of temples in Carthage.22 In a later account in Liber promissionum et praedictorum, Quodvultdeus refers to the temple of Caelestis, which (he tells us) had been closed for a long time (thus, not destroyed) and covered by thorny thickets because of neglect. However, when local Christians wanted to ‘claim it to the use of the true religion’—​to convert it into a church—​ local pagans protested. This might imply, as A. D. Lee suggests, that the temple of Caelestis perhaps had some cultic significance for local pagans. At least the local Christians had worries about the pagans’ aspirations.23 In Quodvultdeus’s account, Aurelius, the bishop of Carthage (391–​429), placed his (episcopal?) seat and sat down on the very spot where the cult statue of the goddess Caelestis had formerly been, thus indicating Christian seizure of the sacred space. This triumph is highlighted by the inscription Aurelius pontifex dedicavit on the façade of the temple, which could now be interpreted as predicting that Bishop Aurelius, leading the Christians, would take over the temple and dedicate it as a church. Furthermore, Quodvultdeus contrasts this Christian true prophecy with a pagan false prediction which was spreading around that the pagan temples and rituals

21. Busine 2013, 335–​338 explains that Theodoret and Mark the Deacon probably integrated local foundation myths of the churches in Apamea and Gaza into their narratives of the devastation of the shrines, thus construing an interpretatio christiana of sacred places. 22. Aug. civ. 18.54.1. Aug. serm. 24 (in 401) placates Christian protesters who considered the pace of Christian expansion in Carthage too slow. Riggs 2006, 298 and Rebillard 2012, 86 find the significance of Gaudentius and Jovius’s mission overstressed in modern research. See also Hahn 2015, 124; Salzman 2006, 278. 23. Quodv. prom. 3.38.44. Lee 2000, 138–​139 suggests a probable date of 407/​408. See also Riggs 2006, 298; Shaw 2011, 234.

Authority and aggression  63 would once again be restored. The building was destroyed around 421, however, which may mean that it was not converted into a church.24 Triumph as legitimation In the Christian narratives, ‘triumph’—​that is, the trend of the religious group attaining a majority position—​justified its cause. The growth of the Christian movement was part of the otherworldly narrative of Christianization, comprising a mighty battle between the forces of light and darkness.25 In his Church History and Life of Constantine, Eusebius composed a victorious account of the Christian triumph, which in his view inevitably entailed the demise of all other religions. Similar vindictive triumphalism appears in Lactantius’s Divine Institutes and in Athanasius’s Against Pagans, in which it is declared that now, after the appearance of the Cross, ‘all idolatry has been overthrown, and by this sign all demonic activity is put to flight, and only Christ is worshipped, and through him the Father is known’.26 Similar imagery of defeated idols and expelled demons is found in the later fourth-​and fifth-​century Christian literature. In 403 Jerome rejoices about the inevitable advancement of Christianity in the city of Rome, describing that the city is shaken to its foundations as Christians rush outside the walls to visit the martyrs’ graves, while the gilded Capitol is filled with dirt and all the temples of Rome are covered by dust and cobwebs. Jerome paints a picture of all the pagan shrines as neglected, deserted, and half-​ruined. The modern scholarly interpretations of Jerome’s depiction have been varied, from taking it at face value as a factual report of the state of affairs—​namely, the demise of Roman paganism—​to more restrained statements, in which his polemical agenda and persuasive rhetoric are taken into account.27 What is noteworthy in his exaltation is the emphasis put on the Capitol, which seems to stress its continuing—​at least symbolic—​ importance. The Capitol stands here for the whole of Roman paganism and its downfall. Jerome’s message is that the religious institutions of a once-​great majority, formerly supported by the res publica, magistrates, and emperors, have now been abandoned as the odd, time-​worn hobby of a small minority. He mentions that the military standards, imperial purple robes, and diadems have been 24. Quodv. prom. 3.38.44. The inscription probably indicated that the temple was dedicated during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who, as all emperors had been, was pontifex maximus. Lee 2000, 138–​139. 25. See Brown 1995, 4–​5; Brown 1998b, 634 also describes the narratives of the preordained triumph of the church as gods passing ‘away from whole regions, ... in a single, dramatic spasm’. 26. Eus. eccl. 9–​10; mart. Pal. 7.8; v. Const. 2.26–​27; Lact. inst. 7.26.10; Lact. mort. passim; Athan. c. gent. 1; trans. Thomson 1971, 5. For Eusebius’s triumphalism, see Kofsky 2006, 148–​149; Trompf 1983, 136–​137; Barnes 1981, 187–​188; for Lactantius, see DePalma Digeser 2000, 115–​147. 27. Hier. ep. 107.1. On the background of the text, see Lee 2000, 125–​126 and Kelly 1975, 273–​275. According to Fraschetti 1993, 677–​678, Jerome’s exaggerated attack is a certain mark of the continuing significance of the Capitol, suggesting that the inhabitants of Rome had probably not left the old city centre, although new cult places had moved outside the walls.

64  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority adorned with the cross. The Egyptian Serapis has become a Christian and the Gazan Marnas fears continually that his temple will be overthrown. Moreover, Jerome describes an old pagan senator whose little granddaughter sings hallelujah in his arms.28 The grandfather, Albinus, the Roman pontifex, here represents the senatorial aristocracy, the buttress of Roman society that eventually is converted to Christianity. The older generation clings to the old religion, but change will inexorably come with those who follow. Similar triumphalism is also expressed by Hilary of Poitiers, who announces that ‘temples have collapsed, idols have been muted, haruspices have been silenced by the intervention of saints and the belief in the augurs’ predictions has been lost’.29 Ambrose declares that the faith of the church has abolished the practice of paganism. He celebrates Theodosius I as ‘hiding the images of the pagans out of sight’, ‘hiding the cult of idols out of sight with his faith’, and ‘wiping their rituals out’.30 Augustine speaks about pagans either as a tiny minority living in distress and disgrace or practically non-​existent. He depicts the very few pagans that still exist as separated from the human race by their hard-​necked stubbornness.31 Augustine’s remarks should be understood in their specific argumentative and persuasive context. Thus, we ought be cautious when using such statements as evidence for estimating the proportionate sizes of groups or numbers of adherents. What these mentions reveal, as Éric Rebillard remarks, is that being ‘Christian’ was no longer a marked category in the early fifth century, but had by this time become an unmarked category, something recognized and appropriate. Instead, being pagan was now a marked category, the ‘other’.32 Whether this marked category and that taken-​for-​granted category reflect (or not) real proportions of majorities and minorities in North Africa of Augustine’s day is unclear. These proportions probably varied from region to region, as Augustine’s remark on the differences between Carthage and Bulla Regia indicates. While preaching in Bulla Regia, he implied that in the city there were only Christians who took part in public life: the population of Bulla Regia was homogenous and everybody knew it was Christians who went actively to the spectacles and theatre, which Augustine disapproved of. This was contrasted with the great city of Carthage, where there were still pagans and Jews:  Carthage had a mixed population in 28. Hier. ep. 107.1–​2. The mentions of Sarapis and Marnas refer to the destruction of the Serapeion and the closure of Marnas’s temple. 29. Hilar. Pict. in ps. 137 tract. 10 (CSEL 22, 740): templa conlapsa sunt, simulacra muta sunt, haruspices interventu sanctorum silent, augurium fides fallit. 30. Ambr. Iac. 2.(7).33 (CSEL 32.3); see also spirit. sanct. 1.prol.4 (CSEL 79), in which he assures of the disappearance of all pagan sacrifices. Ambrose compares Theodosius with the biblical figure Jacob, who ‘uprooted the faithlessness of tyrants’: Ambr. obit. Theod. 4 (CSEL 73, 373). Ambr. obit. Theod. 38 compares Theodosius with the biblical king Josiah in ‘removing the sacrilegious errors, closing temples, destroying cult images’. McLynn 1994, 358–​360; Errington 1997, 399. 31. Aug. serm. 198augm.8: qui iam separati a genere humano nescio qua durissima pertinacia pauci remanserunt; also serm. 360B.25 (=Dolbeau 25.25); serm. 306B.6 (=Denis 18.6); cons. ev. 1.14.21: pauci pagani, qui remanserunt. 32. Rebillard 2012, 61. For the terminology, see Brubaker, Feischmidt, Fox, and Grancea 2006, 211–​212.

Authority and aggression  65 which Christians could easily hide during their (in Augustine’s eyes) condemnable participation in the shows. Here again we can perceive Augustine’s persuasive rhetoric and be on guard against drawing generalizing conclusions about the populations.33 These announcements tell us about the hopes of church leaders; namely, expectations about which group should be the prevailing majority. Moreover, Augustine’s statements may reflect the need to convince Christian audiences of the triumph of Christianity. Persuasion was needed in sermon 279, in which he defended a recent convert called Faustinus.34 Augustine mentioned that Christians in his audience had accused Faustinus of opportunism; it was claimed that Faustinus was eager only to hold an office. Augustine therefore appealed to the exemplum of the Apostle Paul’s conversion ex necessitate to justify Faustinus’s ‘forced’ conversion. On a number of other occasions, Augustine had also argued in support of forced conversions, with various arguments to justify them, such as considering outward conversions as a means that would in the end make the persons coerced into more sincere Christians, as in the Apostle Paul’s case.35 In sermon 279, Augustine’s justification is based on majority versus minority positions. He argues that even a forced conversion benefits the church because, as a result, pagans will not be too powerful and they will not dominate Christians.36 Here he probably refers to his region and the local community. He concludes sermon 279 with the triumphant vision of pagans gradually getting older and decreasing in number, either by converting (‘believing’) or by dying out. He exults in the fact that ‘today pagans are fewer than they were yesterday’. Augustine draws hope from the generational shift—​as did Jerome in 403.37 In Augustine’s argumentation, the triumph serves as the justification for the Christian religion: the triumph of Christianity and the demise of the false gods had been predicted and ordered in biblical prophecies.38 In his sermon Against Donatists and Pagans, Augustine states that, in line with the prophecies, in their fear pagans hide in caves and abandon their idols. Furthermore, he declares that God is zealous and even his name is ‘God the Zealous’.39 In a psalm tractate, 33. Aug. serm. 301A.7 (=Denis 17.7):  Pagani faciunt, Iudaei faciunt, potest dici Carthagine; hic, quicumque faciunt, Christiani faciunt. For Bulla Regia and Carthage, see Markus 1990, 115–​116. 34. Augustine’s serm. 279 and serm. Morin 1 ‘post-​sermonem’ (PLS 2, 659–​660) and Faustinus’s conversion were connected with the disturbances between pagans and Christians over the statue of Hercules in Carthage in 401, referred to by Augustine in serm. 24. For the context of Aug. serm. 279 and serm. Morin 1, see Magalhães de Oliveira 2006, 245–​262; Magalhães de Oliveira 2012, 227–​251. 35. Aug. serm. 279.12–​13 (=Morin 1.3–​4) in 401. Augustine (ep. 93.2.5) offers the Apostle Paul’s conversion as an example of a forced conversion, in regard to the Donatists. Kahlos 2009, 123–​127. 36. Aug. serm. 279.12 (=Morin 1.3): ut maiores pagani non sint, ut non dominentur pagani christianis. Maiores may refer to pagans being greater in number or more powerful, or, as Magalhães de Oliveira 2006, 258 (also Magalhães de Oliveira 2012, 245) points out, superior authorities in the late antique hierarchy of power; see also Rebillard 2012, 90. 37. Aug. serm. 279.13 (=Morin 1.4). 38. Aug. c. Cresc. 3.47.51; enarr. ps. 32.2.13–​14; c. Faust. 12.42, 13.7–​9, 22.38, 22.60; cons. ev. 1.16.24, 1.21.29, 1.26.40, 1.28.43–​4, 1.30.46, 1.34.52; ep. 91.3, 137.4.16, 185.5.20. 39. Aug. serm. 360A.7–​8 (=Dolbeau 24.7–​8), 360A.11: Dominus enim deus zelans est, nomen eius deus zelator.

66  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority Augustine highlights the role of the emperors in enhancing the expansion of Christianity, as the imperial legislation has brought pagans under control. He states that pagans no longer dare publicly act against the Christians, but only covertly murmur. Whereas previously they raged in public (tunc aperte), now it is in secret (nunc occulte). Augustine thus wants to convince his audience that Christians are now the prevailing majority, practising religion in public as the taken-​for-​granted category, while pagans are the diminishing minority, practising religion in secret, as the marked category. Augustine assures his audience that the church is able to go forward, since ‘the path is opened and the emperor protects our streets’.40 Even though Christians were not necessarily the majority everywhere in the present, they would be in the future—​because they had the prophecies. They were the ‘self-​styled majority’. As Hagith Sivan remarks, the emergence of the Christian hegemony led to ‘the neutralization of other creeds and of other people’. Subsequently, the new Christian discourse ‘set minorities apart from the rest of humanity’.41 Theodoret declared that paganism no longer existed: The earth and the sea are freed from ancient ignorance, the error of idolatry is no more, the shadows of ignorance are dispersed, and the light of knowledge fills the entire inhabited world with its rays. Greeks, Romans and barbarians acknowledge the divinity of the Crucified One, venerate the sign of the Cross, serve the Trinity in place of the multitude of false gods. The temples of demons are torn down, the altars of idols have been torn from their bases, and splendid churches are rising on all sides.42 Theodoret’s triumphalism is simultaneously self-​assuring and apologetic. The contradictions between the triumphalist declarations of the end of paganism proclaimed by church leaders and evidence of the continuation of many old religious practices in the areas of those same leaders are striking. In Cure for the Sickness of the Hellenes, the very same work in which he celebrated the demise of paganism, Theodoret was at great pains to repudiate Hellenes and their literature, philosophy, practices, and shrines. The situational and persuasive character of the different statements about pagan and Christian populations can also be observed in the complaints of bishops and church councils; instead of a triumphant Christianity, a divergent state of affairs can now be construed. As noted earlier, the bishops in the Council of Carthage in 401 declared their worries about the vitality of the pagan error and 40. Aug. enarr. ps. 32.2.10. Augustine’s remark may refer not only to the practical circumstances of the streets in a city where religious groups contested for urban space, but also to the more abstract progress of the church. 41. Sivan 2013, 121–​122. 42. Theodoret. cur. 6.87 (SC 57.1, 285). Trans. Kaegi 1966, 243. Theodoret. cur. 8.34 reports that the temples of pagan gods have been destroyed and the materials have been used for the shrines of martyrs. For Theodoret’s apologetics, see Canivet 1958.

Authority and aggression  67 wickedness in coastal regions and different properties, and they demanded that shrines be destroyed. The threat of active paganism was employed in persuasive rhetoric when needed to obtain the desired decisions from the imperial court. Similarly, a great threat of heresy could be construed when necessary, as Vincent of Lérins did, speaking of the time when ‘nearly the entire world’ had been overturned by a savage and sudden storm of heresy.43 Vigour and violence Analysing triumphalist accounts and topoi of the destruction of cult places is not to deny that devastations also really took place. As Brent Shaw has pointed out, representations of violence also ‘fed on themselves and were seedbeds for novel and innovative acts of physical harm’. The ‘archaeology of religious hatred’ has uncovered cult places and images that were violently destroyed. In many cases, the interpretation of archaeological remains as evidence of Christian iconoclasm is clear, as in the case of the fragmented cult relief from Dieburg, or three pieces of statues marked with crosses from Corinth.44 In many other cases, however, it is not always evident whether the damage was done on purpose (and for which purpose), or whether the object was broken by accident or in a natural disaster, such as an earthquake. Furthermore, it is not always certain whether the damage was due to enemy invasions or Christian attacks.45 It is difficult to estimate the frequency of Christian violence against traditional cult places and objects. As already noted, the late antique accounts in hagiography exaggerate the extent of destruction of shrines and cult objects. However, this is not to claim that there was no intentional, religiously motivated damage. Troels Myrup Kristensen and Rick Bonnie show that there is a substantial amount of evidence that pagan statues were mutilated, dismembered, and ridiculed by Christians. As Peter Stewart points out, it was important for the violators that ferocity against pagan monuments and artefacts was shown and seen. A number of statues were marked with crosses, which modern researchers usually interpret as Christian attempts to exorcise the demons believed to dwell in them. The eyes and mouth were sometimes sealed with crosses. A case from late antique Gaul, a statue of Venus found in Nîmes in the Maison Carrée, also suggests particular enthusiasm in the destruction process: the statue was hacked into 103 fragments. In other instances, the destruction involved a selective cutting off of the ears, noses, or genitals of statues.46 4 3. Council of Carthage can. 58 (CCSL 149). Vinc. Lerin. commonit. 5.13. 44. Shaw 2011, 4. On Dieburg, see Sauer 2003, 23–​29; on Corinth, see Saradi and Eliopoulos 2011, 295. 45. For a discussion on uncertainties, see Saradi and Eliopoulos 2011, 302. Sauer 2003, 72–​73 argues that the most laborious forms of devastation cannot be confused with an accident, provided that the object comes from a properly recorded excavation. 46. Kristensen 2013, 93–​99 and Bonnie 2016, 208 with references; Stewart 1999, 167; Pollini 2014. On crosses, see Saradi and Eliopoulos 2011, 291–​296; on the statue of Venus, see Mâle 1950, 44; Kristensen 2013, 90.

68  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority Local circumstances probably varied to a significant extent. In regard to North Africa, Gareth Sears shows that the archaeological evidence does not support the ecclesiastical historians’ triumphant narrative of inescapable Christianization and the rapid decline of temples.47 In regard to the Mithraic sanctuaries, according to Eberhard Sauer, it was between the 380s/​390s and the early fifth century that artwork and shrines were smashed. Such destruction overlaps with written sources in which church leaders sought justification for attacks against pagan monuments and art.48 Mutual conflicts between Christians and pagans could also lead to iconoclasm against Christian cult places and objects. Christian writers do not fail to mention pagan attacks against Christians, especially in the reign of Julian, during which the sentiments between religious groups were exacerbated.49 However, not all the violence against temples, churches, and other shrines was religious. Monuments and artefacts were also destroyed during military campaigns, especially in civil wars and when suppressing revolts. There was a long tradition of non-​religious plundering and iconoclasm as well, and already in the early imperial period, some emperors in need of cash are known to have seized the treasuries of temples.50 Conversely, ostensibly religiously motivated attacks may in reality have been driven by pursuit of financial profit. Augustine, for example, warned his listeners about acting out of greed.51 Some imperial decrees allowed the demolition of temples to supply resources for public projects. Temples could be transformed into civic buildings, and structures of temples (as well as other public buildings) were reused as materials or components in defences from the 230s onward.52 Initiating aggression Christian sources, especially hagiographies, often highlight the role of bishops in inciting violence and leading the people against other religious groups and their cult places. Much of the hagiography, as mentioned previously, was composed considerably later than the purported events and is either exaggerated or fictional. Nonetheless, we also have contemporary letters, sermons, and tractates written by bishops and monks that incite their audiences against pagan cult places and artefacts. Some individual bishops organized attacks against temples, even before Constantine and other emperors started to signal their backing of Christianity. In 47. Sears 2011, 231 states that literary works provide us with a useful context in relation to which the archaeological evidence may be placed. According to Sears, 2011, 246–​249, the number of archaeologically recorded, organized, deliberate, and religiously inspired temple destructions is relatively low in North Africa. 48. Sauer 2003, 152–​153; also Winter 2000, 174. 49. See, e.g., Philost. eccl. 7.3 on a Christian statue destroyed by pagans during the reign of Julian. 50. Stewart 1999, 159–​189 with references; this is also pointed out by Sauer 2003, 47–​48. See Kristensen 2013, 25–​27 on the earlier tradition of plundering and iconoclasm. 51. Aug. ep. 47.3. 52. CTh 15.1.36 (in 397). Goodman 2011, 173; Sauer 2003, 47–​48.

Authority and aggression  69 306, for example, Macarius, the bishop of Tkow, ordered the devastation of idols in an Egyptian village. In North Africa before the Tetrarchic persecution, militant Christians caused a disturbance among more moderate ones such as Mensurius, the bishop of Carthage. Christians who pursued ‘voluntary martyrdom’ by provoking and attacking pagan shrines and cult images were a headache for many bishops. At the Council of Elvira, it was decided that those who were killed when attacking pagan shrines were not to be revered as martyrs.53 While the main concern of emperors and local administrators was to keep peace and order in their communities, some local administrators are mentioned as closing temples and showing sympathy to militant Christians. Two later sources, the Latin Constantinopolitan Consular Chronicle and the historian Zosimus, identify the imperial administrator Maternus Cynegius as a suppressor of pagan practices.54 In his role as the praetorian prefect of the East (384–​388), he was also the addressee of imperial legislation, among which were anti-​pagan and anti-​heretical decrees, suggesting that he possibly instigated or was otherwise connected with this legislation. Consequently, he is often cited as a famous example of an imperial administrator who went on to ‘crusade’ against temples.55 Neil McLynn, however, has questioned Cynegius’s role. Because the legislation created during his prefecture repeats earlier decrees, he does not need to have been the originator of anti-​pagan and anti-​heretical laws.56 Even though the imperial administration could show its sympathies for the eradication of idolatry, it did not engage in systematic attacks or coercion. Officials rarely initiated any coercion of pagans. The exception perhaps is North Africa, where in 399–​401 a special imperial delegation was sent to Carthage to enforce anti-​pagan legislation (in this case, closing temples). However, as noted above, the significance of the embassy should not be overstressed.57 Bishops acted in a dual role in conflicts between local Christian and pagan groups, as well as in internal struggles between Christian groups. Depending on the circumstances, bishops in their sermons either incited people against pagan cult places and images or calmed people in conflicts and prevented them from committing illegal actions. We have several contemporary or later references speaking of bishops who organized attacks against pagan cult places or 53. Council of Elvira can. 60 on ‘the voluntary martyrs’. The Council of Elvira was probably held between 306 and 312, but the exact date is still under dispute. On North Africa, see Chadwick 1985, 15–​16, who speaks of ‘muscular Christianity’. 54. Consularia Constantinopolitana (the Constantinopolitan consular annals) s.a. 388 (Burgess 1993, 242); Zos. 4.37.3. Furthermore, the administrator attacking pagan shrines, mentioned by Libanius in his oration for the temples (or. 30), has often been identified with Maternus Cynegius (Petit 1951, 285–​309). 55. See Matthews 1975, 140 on Maternus Cynegius’s ‘full-​blooded religious enthusiasm which was his personal contribution to the war against paganism’; according to Matthews, Maternus Cynegius went beyond the limits of his commission and engaged in ‘an aggressive pilgrimage of violence’. 56. McLynn 2005, 112–​113. 57. Fowden 1998, 539; Bradbury 1994, 137; Harries 1999, 95. Aug. civ. 18.54 on the imperial delegation in Carthage in 399.

70  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority rival Christian churches. Marcellus of Apamea, George of Cappadocia, Mark of Arethusa, and Eleusius of Cyzicus made assaults against local cult places.58 Martin of Tours is depicted as attacking traditional cult places in the countryside in Gaul. Some of the mentions come from hagiographical accounts that highlight the dramatic violence and final devastation of cult places. Sulpicius Severus depicts Martin of Tours wiping out the shrines of Gaul.59 A bishop with local authority and spiritual charisma could inspire and steer his flock to act against cult places (whether pagan or belonging to a rival Christian group). This should not be overestimated, however, since the episcopal influence on crowds was not self-​evident. In many cases, it is not easy to pinpoint the discrete influence of a particular bishop in a specific conflict; for example, one might ask who took the initiative when Augustine, in sermon 24, showed his approval for the enforcement of anti-​pagan laws and his audience rose up to demand that the ‘superstition of demons’ be eradicated, as it had been in Rome.60 Recently, Claire Sotinel has pointed out that fourth-​century bishops were less powerful than previously thought. Furthermore, in his research on the logic of crowd behaviour, Julio Cesar Magalhães challenges the top-​down model of popular participation in Late Antiquity and suggests a more independent agency of the urban population.61 The urban populace played an active role in many demonstrations and disturbances, but in some incidents, small but determined ‘professional’ groups acted as recruits of local bishops with their blessing.62 Both local bishops and local powerful men (curiales and landowners) could mobilize their clients as armed forces. This was no novelty in Roman society, in which influential patrons had for centuries gathered their clients and the clients of their clients into pressure groups. A bishop with dependants was just one variation of the client system.63 From time to time, local bishops or other spiritual 58. Marcellus:  Sozom. eccl. 7.15.13–​15; Theodoret. eccl. 5.21.1, 5.21.5–​15. Mark of Arethusa:  Greg. Naz. or. 4.88–​91; Sozom. eccl. 5.10.5–​14; Theodoret. eccl. 3.3, 3.7.10; Liban. ep. 819.6. Eleusius: Sozom. eccl. 5.15.4–​10. See Fowden 1978, 58–​60, 64–​65, 75–​76; Trombley 1993a, 123; Lizzi Testa 2010, 98. 59. Martin: Sulp. Sev. v. Mart. 13–​15. Martin’s violence as the militant converter of Gaul is highlighted, but Salzman 2006, 279–​285 draws attention to the ‘relatively low-​level of pagan response to Martin’s provocations’. Lizzi Testa 2010, 80–​86 remarks that the depiction of Martin’s campaign of attacks against temples in 355–​367 is probably anachronistic because the ecclesiastical leaders in the West were involved more in internal doctrinal struggles. Lizzi Testa nevertheless thinks that Martin’s campaigns later in 371–​397 sound more credible. 60. Aug. serm. 24. A statue of Hercules was damaged, and this led to rioting in which sixty Christians were killed. Rebillard 2012, 86–​89 remarks that Augustine deliberately provoked his listeners to call for the devastation of the pagan statues; see also Salzman 2006, 274. 61. The limits of episcopal power are discussed in Sotinel 1998, 120, 123; Bowes 2008, 4, 11; McLynn 1992, 36. Magalhães de Oliveira 2012 discusses all kinds of popular action, not only religious incidents. Magalhães de Oliveira 2012, 21, 147–​148 criticizes MacMullen 1990, 250–​276 and Veyne 1976 for portraying the subaltern social groups as merely passively accepting the direction of the elite groups. 62. On professional groups, see McLynn 1992 [2009], 36 (on bishops relying on smaller groups rather than the masses); Lizzi 1995, 140; Fowden 1978, 71, 67–​68 (on the monks of Syria in attacks against polytheistic cult places and other interreligious conflicts). 63. For the Roman patronage system, see Saller 1982 and Saller 2000, 817–​854. On bishops, see Lizzi 1995, 116–​118, 135 and Brown 1992, 85–​95. The traditional Roman patronage and that of bishops had differences, of course, as is stressed by Lepelley 1998, 18–​21, 32–​33.

Authority and aggression  71 leaders (‘holy men’) acted as instigators of uprisings that at first sight might have seemed spontaneous. During the Nestorian controversy, the monks allied with Cyril of Alexandria were ready to demonstrate for him against his opponents in Constantinople, even before the Syrian delegation arrived for the Council of Ephesus.64 The most renowned case is the plundering and destruction of the Serapeion in Alexandria in 392. The series of events in Alexandria also tells us about the circumstances in which the late antique interreligious disturbances arose; the final outcome of the acerbations was the fall of the Serapeion. During the renovation of a church, workmen found an underground shrine, probably a Mithraeum, with cult images, that were then exposed and paraded in a Christian procession through the city. This insulted many pagans, who started revolting.65 Soon were ‘the two sides at open war’. The pagan rioters retreated to the Serapeion, from where they continued their warfare. The uprising was pacified only when Theodosius I intervened with an imperial letter, recognizing the Christians killed in the disturbances as martyrs but also granting amnesty to the pagans involved in the riot. However, the conflict was not over. The Christian crowd started plundering the temple, encouraged by one of the soldiers, who started striking the statue of Serapis until it fell down. The statue was chopped into small pieces that were dragged and burned in different places, and the remaining torso was burned in the amphitheatre. Furthermore, many small busts of Serapis on the streets and crossroads were brought down. As Johannes Hahn remarks, the incineration of the statues ‘was celebrated as a religious statement’, symbolizing the ritual cleansing of the city. It was important to stage the demolitions as public acts before the Alexandrian populace.66 The attack of the Christian crowd may seem spontaneous, but Theophilus, the bishop of Alexandria, is usually associated with the destruction. Edward Watts argues that the distribution and demolition of the pieces of the statue around the city suggest organized activity. Theophilus was ready to take the area into Christian use, building a church with the relics of John the Baptist and the prophet Elisha.67 Theophilus also extended the 64. Episcoporum Constantinopoli consistentium commonitorium (ACO I.1.2, 65–​66). For a discussion, see Schor 2011, 87. 65. For the accounts of the destruction, see Rufin. eccl. 11.22–​23; Sozom. eccl. 7.15; Eunap. v. soph. 6.111–​112 Goulet (=LCL 134, 420–​424). Dijkstra 2018, 214–​218; Dijkstra 2011, 394; Watts 2010, 192–​197; Hahn 2015, 125–​ 128; Hahn 2004, 68–​70, 81–​94; Kristensen 2013, 121–​125; Haas 1997, 161; Vinzent 1998, 44–​45; Baldini 1985, 97–​152; Thélamon 1981, 165–​205; Fowden 1978, 69–​71. The Serapeion had also been attacked earlier, in 357–​358, under George of Cappadocia, the bishop of Alexandria, but this did not apparently end the cult activities in the temple (Amm. 22.11.6). 66. Rufin. eccl. 11.22–​23 Trans. Amidon 2007, 79. See Hahn 2015, 126–​128 on these ritualized forms of aggression as the magical-​symbolic acts of degradation and humiliation. 67. Watts 2010, 194–​196. It is not clear what happened to the actual building of the Serapeion, as the pagan cult place was closed. Rufinus (eccl. 11.27) states that a martyrs’ shrine and a church were built on both sides of the levelled temple, while Sozomen (eccl. 7.15) claims that the temple was taken and turned into a church. For a discussion, see Dijkstra 2011, 394. Kristensen 2013, 125 argues that the archaeological evidence confirms Rufinus’s view that the Serapeion was razed to the ground.

72  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority Christian takeover of urban space to the suburbs of Alexandria:  he destroyed another Serapeion and other shrines in Canopus, and he built a martyrs’ shrine near the site of the Serapeion.68 Supporting aggression Occasionally, but not frequently, the imperial government gave unambiguous approval for individual bishops’ campaigns. Bishops and church councils could be explicitly allowed or even authorized to suppress ‘convivial banquets in honour of sacrilegious rites in funereal places’ in their areas, as seen in a decree from 407/​ 408, in which Emperor Honorius granted permission to the Western bishops to use ecclesiastical manpower (ecclesiastica manus) to disallow such practices. The version in the Sirmondian Constitutions even names three agentes in rebus, inspectors of the imperial secret service, with whom the ecclesiastical leaders could act in cooperation.69 The law of 399 encouraged the destruction of rural temples, while another in 425 decreed the destruction of temples.70 Bishops usually assured themselves of imperial approval before they moved against cult places. John Chrysostom organized attacks against pagan shrines by bands of monks in Phoenicia. According to Theodoret, John Chrysostom had imperial authorization for the attacks. It is, however, difficult to verify whether this was true. In their triumphalist accounts, church historians tended to portray temple destructions as authorized by state authorities.71 In some cases, bishops used their networks of influence to get moral or legal support for their actions against practices or cult places—​both pagan ones and those of rival Christians. Augustine sought and found supporters among imperial magistrates, as shown by his correspondence with comes Marcellinus, the proconsul of Africa Macedonius, and comes Africae Bonifatius. Eventually Marcellinus became the dedicatee of the first books of Augustine’s City of God. Augustine pointed out to Macedonius that he had a duty to ensure that the true God was venerated in the region under his jurisdiction. To Bonifatius, Augustine justified the use of force in ‘correcting’ the Donatists.72 In seeking supporters 68. Rufin. eccl. 11.26; Eunap. v. soph. 6.114–​115 Goulet (=LCL 134, 420–​424). 69. CTh (in 407). Sirm. 12 (Rome in 407; Carthage in 408) includes the addition: Nam et agentum in rebus executionem Maximi, Iuliani, Eutychi, ut ea, quae generalibus legibus contra Donatistas, Manichaeos adque huiuscemodi haereticos vel gentiles statuta sunt, impleantur, indulsimus. The ecclesiastica manus refers to corps of men in the service of the church: Pharr 1952, 465 n. 41; MacMullen 1997, 16. However, Garnsey and Humfress 2001, 149 (pace Fowden 1978; Fowden 1998, 554) points out that this decree did not authorize bishops to dismantle pagan altars and temples. The coercion was targeted as much at Christians attending these festivals and cult practices as at pagans, as I will argue in ­chapter 7. 70. CTh 16.10.16 (in 399); 16.10.25 (in 435). 71. Theodoret eccl. 5.29. For accounts in ecclesiastical histories, see Noethlichs 1986, 1163. See also the devastation of the Marneion depicted by Mark the Deacon, in which it was vital for Porphyry of Gaza to gain imperial support in his action against the temple. See Bradbury 1994, 137 for other examples. 72. Marcellinus: Aug. ep. 133; Macedonius: Aug. ep. 155, esp. 155.3.10 (in 414); Bonifatius: Aug. ep. 185. On Augustine’s relations with magistrates and aristocrats, see McLynn 1999, 29–​44.

Authority and aggression  73 among local and imperial authorities for their cause and actions, bishops were involved in networks of mutual gifts and services typical of late antique relations of patronage and friendship. In this sense, bishops were no better or worse than other late antique people seeking to grease the wheels of administration. Bishops such as Cyril of Alexandria approached prominent people at the Constantinopolitan court with valuable gifts. There were bounds of propriety (which were continually renegotiated, of course), and rivals accused each other of overstepping these limits. Against Augustine, Julian of Aeclanum implied that someone had sent eighty horses to Ravenna to convince the imperial court against the Pelagians.73 Whether historical or not, the account of Porphyry of Gaza reveals contemporary views of how to influence the imperial court. In order to persuade the emperor to permit the devastation of the cult places in Gaza, Porphyry sent several embassies to the court of Constantinople and then visited the court himself. He and his delegates approached the emperor through the bishop of Constantinople, courtiers such as chamberlains, and finally the imperial women. The women of the imperial family were an important connection, as Emperor Arcadius was approached via Empress Eudoxia. The narrative of Porphyry’s activities against the pagan practices in Gaza also conveys contemporary notions of the limits of imperial and episcopal powers. The emperor sent the subadiuva of the magister officiorum Hilarius to Gaza to oversee the destruction of pagan idols. However, the magistrate was bribed and secretly turned a blind eye to pagan practices, allowing the temple of Marnas to continue giving oracles.74 On the local level, who was in charge of reinforcing the decisions made in the centre of power was crucial. As we saw in ­chapter 3, Ambrose showed his support in the case of the burned synagogue of Callinicum. He protested against Theodosius’s punitive measures, seeing the destruction as legitimate in the name of orthodoxy.75 Harold Drake pays attention to a more aggressive concept of ‘martyrdom’ that emerged during the fourth century, after the end of the Tetrarchic persecution, and occasions in which authorities made allowances for or overlooked religious violence, as was the case in Callinicum, where Theodosius ultimately let the matter drop. Drake points out that in the fourth century, an emperor ignored ‘centuries of Roman jurisprudence dealing with both damage to private property and public disorder in order to placate an aggressive bishop’. In these new settings, authorities could turn a blind eye to religious disturbances. Emperors or governors wanted to avoid being labelled as persecutors of the faithful, friends of Jews, lovers of pagans or, 7 3. On Cyril, see ­chapter 3. Aug. c. Iulian. op. imperf. 1.42, 3.35. 74. Marc. Diac. v. Porph. 26–​27, 33, 37–​39, 41, 50–​51. The events in The Life of Porphyry are set to the years 395–​420. For the problems of The Life of Porphyry, see the discussion in para 10. 75. Ambr. ep. 74.23. According to Liebeschuetz 2005, 39, Ambrose even ‘goes as far as to insist that acts of criminal damage . . . are to be ignored if the damage inflicted in the name of orthodox Christianity on Jews or heretics’.

74  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority in general, Christian leaders that were not rigorous enough. Authorities could turn a blind eye to violence, not only that inflicted by Christians on pagans, Jews, and other Christians, but also that of pagans who caused disturbances against Christians, as happened in Sufetula (Sufes) when Christians smashed the statue of Hercules and the local people rioted.76 Controlling, punishing, and criticizing aggression In their dual role in religious conflicts, local bishops tried to calm situations that were on the verge of getting out of hand. In their attempts to keep the actions of the people under control, they tried to balance between the violent enthusiasm of hard-​line Christians and the limits of legality in regard to private property. In hostilities organized against rival cult places, it was crucial to obtain a local bishop’s blessing for violent actions, and local bishops were usually keen to respect the property interests of local landowners. As Magalhães shows in his analysis of crowd behaviour in late antique cities, bishops (and other leaders of communities, for that matter) were not always capable of steering violent outbursts so easily.77 On one hand, Augustine was one of the bishops who urged people to give up their traditional practices and rise up against pagan cult places. On the other hand, he also needed to keep the crowds in check and their actions within legal limits, especially in terms of respecting private property. In sermon 24 in 401, Augustine took a stand on the disturbances that had arisen—​as he depicts it—​ between the Christian and pagan populations of Carthage. A group of Christians had despoiled the cult statue of Hercules by shaving off its gilded beard. This drove pagans to revolt against the Christians.78 Augustine attempted to maintain a balance between the actions of hot-​headed Christians and the more controlled policies of the ecclesiastical authorities. Consequently, Augustine’s sermon contains a mixture of agitating and pacifying rhetoric. Augustine mentions in his sermon that the Carthaginian Christians shouted slogans against the superstitiones daemonum, calling for the Roman gods to be smashed in Carthage as they were already being destroyed in Rome. Augustine shows his sympathies to the demands of the populace, praising the ‘sacred zeal’ of the Carthaginians and mocking the Roman gods, Hercules in particular. Yet he also turns to remind his audience that, as the people of God are his sheep, they also have their

76. Drake 2011, 198–​200, 209. Sufetula: Aug. ep. 50. See Salzman 2006, 274 for the support of the local establishment to the rioting people. The attackers against the statue of Hercules had their own sympathizers, most prominently Augustine. 77. Magalhães de Oliveira 2012, 147–​148. 78. On the background of sermon 24, see Kelly 2015, 121–​132; Riggs 2006, 298–​299; Markus 1990, 116–​117; Chadwick 1985, 12. See Kristensen 2013, 90–​92 on gilding statues as constructing the divine and shaving them as humiliating and disempowering the image.

Authority and aggression  75 shepherds—​that is, their bishop and priests. One can see this as an admonition that people should not challenge ecclesiastical leaders. The sheep want the same thing that their shepherd wants. Their voluntas agendi, the will to act, is the same, but the voluntas agendi cannot be the same as the modus agendi, the mode of action. Like many other church leaders, Augustine stresses the importance of unity and obedience: people should not attack pagan cults until ordered to do so by their bishop.79 Augustine certainly advocated the suppression of pagan cults. In the eyes of the most reckless militants, however, a bishop who pondered the limits of legality and the inviolability of private property may have seemed too slow in giving licence to act. For a bishop who was also a manager of local administrative, economic, and social matters, this was an uncomfortable situation. A bishop needed the support of both imperial authorities and local landowners. In connection with the disturbances at the festival of the genius of Carthage, Augustine tells his listeners not to destroy pagan idols if they do not have licence to act. To balance this admonition, he assures his listeners that God will eventually give the pagan cult places into their hands, but clarifies that they are not authorized to devastate shrines on the estates of pagan landowners.80 In another case in which real estate came into Christian hands, Augustine accepted the destruction of pagan altars, but warned his listeners not to attack any property of pagan landowners.81 We have a few mentions of Christian magistrates abolishing pagan shrines. Jerome writes about Maecius Gracchus, who during his Roman city prefecture in 376–​377 destroyed a Mithraeum. It is probable, as John Matthews suggests, that Gracchus demolished the shrine on his private family property as an owner, not as a magistrate.82 On their own estates, Christian landowners could act as they pleased. Parts and materials of temples could be used for private constructions, as we know from the archaeological evidence. Augustine, however, forbade Christians to loot cult objects and decorations for private use, and he noted that they should make it clear that the destruction happened out of piety, not greed.83 Augustine’s emphasis on private property and legality can be understood in the context of the Donatist controversy in North Africa, where he tended to label the illegal devastations of idols and shrines as the work of deviant Christians, namely Donatists. For Augustine, as Michele Salzman points out, the insistence on legality functioned as a means of criticizing heretical groups. People who died in the middle of violent acts without legitimate authority were not to be 79. Aug. serm. 24.5–​6. 80. Aug. serm. 62, esp. 62.11.17–​62.12.18. 81. Aug. serm. 308A. The land called Mappalia was situated near Cyprian’s tomb in Carthage. After the Christian takeover it was purified for the martyr cult of Cyprian. 82. Hier. ep. 107.2; also Prud. c. Symm. 1.561–​565. Both the date before the anti-​pagan legislation and the respect for private property would suggest that the shrine was on Maecius Gracchus’s own estate. Matthews 1975, 23, pace Chastagnol 1960, 157; Vera 1981, 153–​154; Clemente 1982, 62. 83. Aug. ep. 47.3; with appeals to Deut. 7:25.

76  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority considered true martyrs. In the ecclesiastical control of aggression, Donatists were martyrs of the wrong kind. Action without right authorization did not bring a heavenly reward. Augustine’s restrictions arose not from any sort of toleration of pagans, but from discipline.84 This becomes clear in his Against Gaudentius, where he argued that Donatists acted as real Christians in attacking idols, but they proceeded in the wrong way, since they lacked the authorization of the state. If they died when attacking idols, their suffering was of the wrong kind for the wrong reasons.85 In On obedience, he stressed the rationale for suffering martyrdom, not the suffering itself: [M]‌urderers suffer punishment but are not martyrs, adulterers suffer punishment but are not martyrs. For you make a show of your martyrs: you throw out what they suffered, I asked why they suffered. You laud the penalty, I examine the cause. The cause I examine, I say, the cause I seek. Tell me why he suffered, he whom you toss out to have suffered. For righteousness? Learn this: for this itself is the cause of the martyrs. Punishment does not crown the martyrs, but the cause.86 As Michael Gaddis remarks, discourses of martyrdom and persecution in Late Antiquity ‘formed the symbolic language through which Christians represented, justified, or denounced the use of violence’. Some other bishops, such as Cyril of Alexandria, were prone to accept Christian rioters as martyrs, provided that they were the bishop’s partisans.87 The imperial administration shared the bishops’ concerns about the legality of temple demolitions. Local and imperial authorities had interests in the maintenance of public order and tranquillity between religious groups. The Christian emperors and their officials often found themselves in uncomfortable situations in which they had to suppress violent disturbances and enforce punishments against Christian zealots who had transgressed the limits of legal action. The laws that emperors issued in order to protect temples from unauthorized plunder reveal that looting pagan cult places for valuables and building materials was reported to the imperial administration. Spoliation was decreed to be a crime with dire penalties. Emperor Honorius remarked in his decree that pagan sacrifices were forbidden, but this did not justify demolishing the ornaments of temples. No one had the authority to do that:

84. Aug. serm. 62.17–​18; ep. 185.3.12; c. Gaud. 1.28.32; c. litt. Parm. 1.10.16. Augustine nonetheless admits that both his Christians and the Donatist Christians destroyed pagan cult places: c. Gaud. 1.38.51. On destruction and martyrdom, see Salzman 2006, 274–​277; Sears 2011, 247–​248; Thornton 1986, 121–​129. 85. Aug. c. Gaud. 1.28. 86. Aug. oboed. 17. Trans. Sizgorich 2009, 63–​64. 87. For a discussion of the justification of violence, see Sizgorich 2009, 63–​64; Gaddis 2005, 115–​116; Drake 2011, 201–​205. Cyril: Socr. eccl. 7.14.10–​11.

Authority and aggression  77 If any person should attempt to destroy such works, he shall not have the right to flatter himself as relying on any authority, if perchance he should produce any rescript or any law as his defence.88 Temples were still regarded as public monuments and consequently worth protecting, but they were now purified from ritualistic content. A few laws were issued to protect the property of pagans and Jews living quietly from aggressions by Christian zealots.89 The law of 393 ordered that local authorities should prevent with due firmness the excess of those who, under the name of Christianity, committed illegalities, trying to devastate and despoil Jewish synagogues.90 The disturbances in Calama in June 408 show that patronage relations influenced how rioters were treated in the aftermath—​if the patron was powerful enough, he could protect his dependants from being punished. This conflict is well known because Augustine settled it in his correspondence with Nectarius, a local aristocrat. The strife started with a traditional procession of pagans (in which local Christians took part). The procession proceeded past the local church, and this annoyed the clergymen, who attempted to stop the celebration. The participants reacted by throwing stones at the church. Christians complained to the local council, but with no success. A week later, the situation in the town was exacerbated to such an extent that riots broke out, which lasted for several days. The church was stoned again and finally set on fire. One of the clergy was killed and the rest fled.91 Augustine intervened to help the clergy in Calama. He wrote that the local council initially ignored the complaints of Christians. Augustine complained that pagans could go on with their procession without anyone banning it, even though it was against ‘very recent laws’. Augustine also implied that the local civic authorities basically overlooked the disturbances. The conflict of Calama prompted Possidius, the bishop of Calama, to travel to Ravenna to lobby for more robust sanctions against pagans. This had an effect, and in the next phase, Nectarius, a local aristocrat, appealed to Augustine to use his local authority to mitigate the grave punishments given to the rioters. It seems that at least some of the rioters were Nectarius’s dependants, as he acted as a middleman

88. CTh 16.10.15 (in 399). Trans. Pharr 1952, 474. See also CTh 16.10.18 (in 399) on protecting empty temples from demolition. Fauvinet-​Ranson 2006; Goddard 2006, 282–​286; Trombley 1993a, 25–​26; Noethlichs 1986, 1172; Caseau 2003, 61–​77. 89. CTh 16.10.24 and 16.8.26 (damages were to be compensated by paying three or four times more); CIust 1.11.6 (double payment). Noethlichs 1986, 1165; Trombley 1993a, 32; Salzman 1993, 364; Harries 2006, 89. 90. CTh 16.8.9 (in 393). For similar decrees, see CTh 16.8.12 (in 397), 16.8.2 (in 423). New synagogues nonetheless were not allowed to be built. 91. Aug. ep. 91 writes about the incident in his reply to Nectarius (Aug. ep. 90), and thus it is Augustine’s perspective that we get. Hermanowicz 2004, 484–​488; Harries 1999, 88–​90; Salzman 2006, 275–​276; Lizzi 1995, 115–​140; Escribano Paño 2013, 111–​112; Alan Cameron 2011, 800. As Rebillard 2012, 87–​88 suggests, there were probably both Christians and non-​Christians among the celebrants.

78  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority in his attempts to influence Augustine. From Augustine’s account, we get the impression that the local elite turned a blind eye to the conflict.92 There are some mentions of Christians criticizing attacks against cult places. What was intensely disputed was the honour of martyrdom, something that had been a matter of debate since the Tetrarchic persecution. The question involved whether a person who was killed when attacking pagan shrines and cult images was a martyr.93 The church historian Socrates writes that Cyril of Alexandria received censure for his attempt to declare rioters martyrs:  ‘[W]‌ise moderates (eu phronountes), even though they were Christians, did not share Cyril’s zeal for this cause’. Furthermore, Socrates criticizes Cyril for entering into enmity (philoneikia) with the prefect Orestes and thus acerbating the violent atmosphere in Alexandria that culminated in the infamous murder of the philosopher Hypatia. Socrates refers to the public odium after the cruel lynching: ‘This murder brought much disapproval, not only upon Cyril, but also upon the whole Alexandrian church, as massacres, fights, and transactions of that sort are completely outlandish (allotrion) to the wise people (phronountôn) of Christ.’94 Many ordinary Christians were appalled by the violence directed against individuals as well as cult places. The Life of Porphyry shows that moderate Christians in Gaza were distressed by the coercion organized by Porphyry.95 Bishops such as Possidius of Calama and Augustine were prone to call for stricter laws and measures against pagans and heretics—​especially against their specific rivals. In Augustine’s case, these were Donatists. The procedures of coercion, namely the application of corporal punishment, were the responsibility of the imperial authorities. According to imperial legislation, only they were to allowed perform necessary judicial violence (that is, torture in interrogation) during times of court procedure or after the announcement of the court’s decision. In theory, the imperial power had a monopoly on judicial violence.96 In principle, the ecclesiastical leaders did not accept the application of force and corporal punishment by clerics. Therefore, it is usually supposed that the church authorities only resorted to spiritual punishment (e.g., excommunication) and did not adopt judicial violence. However, as Leslie Dossey argues, in practice, bishops and the clergy enforced corporal punishment (e.g., the beating of monks 92. Aug. ep. 91.8–​10. Probably connected with laws such as CTh 16.5.43 and 16.10.19. Salzman 2006, 275–​276 and Lizzi 1995, 139–​140 suggest that both the bishop’s clients and the clients of the local pagan landowners were involved in the riot, and this is why community leaders interfered in the aftermath of the conflict. The possibility to change severe punishments into fines implies that clients of the local elite were involved. 93. The Council of Elvira (can. 60) decreed that those who died when attacking pagan temples were not to be considered martyrs. 94. Socr. eccl. 7.14 (SC 506, 58–​60); see also 7.7 (SC 506, 36) for criticism of Theophilus for going beyond the limits of the sacerdotal functions and becoming involved in secular issues; 7.15 (SC 506, 60–​62): Hypatia. For the climate of violence, see Watts 2010, 208–​211. 95. Marc. Diac. v. Porph.  72–​73. 96. For example, Constantine (Sirm. 1)  ordered that local authorities were to apply episcopal judgments. Dossey 2001, 98–​114; Brown 2012, 61.

Authority and aggression  79 in disciplinary matters, but also the beating of laymen and laywomen for heresy). Despite the ‘official line’ that left corporal punishment to the local authorities, there was silent acceptance of corporal punishment by the clergy and monks.97 The role of bishops and clerics in condemning heretics—​and from time to time also punishing them—​was also intensely debated. In the midst of the struggle between the Donatists and Caecilianists, the Donatist Petilianus of Cirta was keen to remind Augustine of Jesus’s warning against resorting to the use of a sword (Mt 28:51–​52).98 Augustine replied with a counterargument, connecting the Donatists with the violence of the Circumcelliones and noting that although they used clubs rather than swords, it was violence all the same.99 Augustine followed the ‘official line’ and insisted that the clergy should let local authorities take care of punishments rather than themselves resorting to ‘clubs and carnage’.100 In cases in which the heretics condemned by church authorities were left to local officials for punishment, Augustine nevertheless had qualms. In 408 he admitted to Paulinus of Nola that he was far from certain that being coerced into the correct religion saves people. He was worried about the spiritual welfare of dissidents who had to be chastised, and he had great doubts about whether or not the threat of punishment really helped a greater number of people: ‘What could I say about chastising or not chastising?’ While Augustine advocated coercion, giving the rationale of reformation of the soul of the dissident, he still maintained that judicial violence was to be limited and as restrained as possible.101 Imperial and ecclesiastical authority: Concluding remarks In this Section I, Imperial and ecclesiastical authority, the focus has been on the macro level of the state and church. I have analysed imperial and ecclesiastical attempts to wipe out ambiguity or dissent in the religious diversity of the late Roman world. The authority of Christian emperors was strengthened with the rhetoric of public security and well-​being, which was declared to be based on good relations with the divine—​very much in line with the earlier imperial tradition. The emperor was presented as the guardian of the divine peace. In the imperial legislation and the polemic of ecclesiastical writers, religious dissenters—​that is, those groups and individuals who did not conform to the normative religious order (which, of course, shifted over the course of time)—​were depicted

97. Dossey 2001, 98–​114. 98. Petilianus in Aug. c. litt. Petil. 2.88.194. 99. Aug. c. litt. Petil. 2.88.195. 100. Aug. c. litt. Petil. 2.19.43. Augustine’s line was followed by the Council of Carthage in 403 (SC 224, 1120) when it requested the help of imperial authorities. See Dossey 2001, 100. 101. Aug. ep. 95.3. The carrier of this letter, Possidius of Calama, travelled to the imperial court to lobby for stricter measures against pagans and heretics. See also Aug. ep. 43.2, 134.3, 139.2, 153.18, 185.2.9.

80  Imperial and ecclesiastical authority as threatening the good relations with the divine and, consequently, the balance of everything. From the imperial and ecclesiastical discourses of power, one might get the impression that the religious changes in the Mediterranean area were the result of simple, top-​down influences, either originating from emperors (especially Constantine) or instigated by bishops. However, this view overlooks the realities of social and religious life in Late Antiquity. We have seen how the aspirations of emperors and bishops were limited by many practical and local issues and power struggles. Recent research on late antique legislation stresses that laws were decreed after extensive negotiation. Furthermore, the enforcement of laws was uncertain. In the socio-​religious dynamics at the local level, the influence of both imperial decrees and the measures of ecclesiastical leaders were limited. This is suggested by numerous complaints in imperial legislation, repetition of the same prohibitions, and complaints in the sermons of bishops. Emperors could not rule alone as autocrats. Neither could bishops lead their congregations without constant negotiation and persuasion, or without the support of local elites. Imperial legislation, episcopal letters, and the acts of councils reveal relentless attempts to regulate religious normativity and deviance. At the same time, they tell us about the loopholes and laxity that imperial government and ecclesiastical leaders had to cope with. The morally charged language in imperial declarations and episcopal admonitions implies strong authority, but we should remember that, as much as it was used to manifest authority, it was foremost in creating it. For example, the harsh competition between Christian subgroups, such as the ‘Nicenes’ and ‘Homoians’ (or rather, the many groupings that have been categorized under the titles ‘Nicenes’ and ‘Homoians’), not only challenged the position of various church leaders (especially Athanasius and Ambrose), but also cemented their authority. One of the factors that counterbalanced imperial and ecclesiastical influence was the patronage of local landowners. On the local level of rural and urban communities, depending on the district, pagans could go on with their religious practices. Festivities continued and shrines stayed open, especially when they had support from the local landowners. In late Roman society, the landowning elite had remarkable power, economic resources, and prestige. Therefore, neither emperors nor bishops could ignore their power on the local level. We have also discussed acts of aggression between religious groups. These were occasionally aggravated and even instigated by ecclesiastical leaders, although from time to time they were pacified and even condemned by them. The imperial government tried to keep officially sanctioned violence under their own control. We also analysed a number of temple destructions from the viewpoint of religious dissent, such as the infamous devastation of the Serapeion in Alexandria. However, the number and scale of the devastations should not be overestimated. Some accounts of the destruction of local shrines mentioned in church histories

Authority and aggression  81 and hagiographies, especially their remarks on its completeness, have been questioned in the recent research. In the bellicose narratives of the Christian triumph, temple demolitions functioned as important symbols of change in the balance of power in the local relationships between religious groups.102 They were a way to show that Christians now held the upper hand—​whether that was true or not, given the particular circumstances at the local level. This scepticism of the destruction narratives or their accuracy does not mean that there was no violence against both persons and places. In the words of Paula Fredriksen, ‘this is not to claim that “interfaith” relations in antiquity were universally sunny: beneath the smoke of hostile rhetoric, some genuine fires also burned’.103 Throughout the discussion of this section, the groups ‘pagans’ and ‘heretics’ have been treated as labels that were given from the top down—​according to the delineations that the imperial and ecclesiastical discourses maintained. The language of power built categories that sought to contain and control the multifaceted reality, but which real-​life people usually escaped. Condemning and categorizing language nonetheless had an impact. We may ask what influence the portrayal of religious dissidents such as ‘pagans’, ‘heretics’, and Jews as alienated from not only the Empire but also the entire human community had on public opinion. It is also opportune to inquire how the imagery of aggressive piety that we find in sermons and hagiographies, and that captured the imagination of early Christian communities, influenced the relations between religious groups in everyday life. How long (or short) it took to go from verbal violence to physical violence depended on how acerbated the social climate became in local circumstances. We know of several cases in which tensions—​between religious groups or within religious groups—​erupted after years of relatively peaceful coexistence, at least on the surface (e.g., in North African cities such as Calama and Sufetula). The categories ‘pagans’ and ‘heretics’ were adopted into general use, and reproving language opened the door not only for aggression and violence towards religious dissidents, but also for social control through more subtle and complex mechanisms. In late Roman society, language created and maintained social control over religious normativity, as Rebecca Lyman shows, ‘not merely through institutions, but rather through the web of opinions, “facts”, vocabularies, ancillary disciplines, and professions within an entire culture’.104 In Section II, People in rhetoric and realities, we will analyse the construction and reinforcement of the dissident categories of ‘pagans’ and ‘heretics’, and then question and deconstruct them.

1 02. Emmel, Gotter, and Hahn 2008b, 1–​3. 103. Fredriksen 2008, 95. 104. Lyman 2000, 150–​151 discusses the Foucauldian insight (Foucault 1975) on the ways in which social control is created and exercised.


People in rhetoric and realities


n the preceding section, ‘Imperial and ecclesiastical authority’, the groups ‘pagans’ and ‘heretics’ were treated as a given because imperial and ecclesiastical discourses employed these categories. In this section, ‘People in rhetoric and realities’, I  will analyse these categories and the ways in which they were construed and maintained. By categorizing, listing, and labelling, imperial legislators, bishops, and church councils coped with diversity and dissent. In this analysis, the categories of ‘pagans’ and ‘heretics’, which are also in use in modern research, will be questioned and finally deconstructed. Authorities’ representations diverged from the multifaceted reality, which did not fit into these definitions and categories. In the chapters of this section, we will trace how people on the ground behaved contrary to the expectations of the elite (and a few modern researchers), changing their positions if needed. People whom the rhetoric of power tried to define as ‘pagan’ or ‘heretic’ simply escaped these straitjackets. The notion of situational identities is helpful in our attempts to understand late antique individuals. Furthermore, I will analyse the many ways in which people responded to the expectations and demands of imperial and ecclesiastical authorities. Some acquiesced to demands, some pretended to comply, others protested and rioted, and others just kept silent, remained hidden, or went into isolation. The chapters of this section function as a link between Section I on authorities and Section III on practices. By questioning and deconstructing the categories created from above and outside by imperial and ecclesiastical authorities, these chapters are the lever that switches the perspective from the top-​down perception to the realities of the grassroots level.



Individuals, groups, and plural possibilities in Late Antiquity


arlier scholarship often contended with indisputable and impermeable divisions between pagans and Christians, Christians and Jews, or orthodox Christians and heretical Christians. Research in recent decades has interpreted individuals and groups as less segregated and their religious (ritualistic, confessional, and doctrinal) positions as less determined. Another trend taken as self-​evident in earlier scholarship was the idea that the pagan sphere and the Christian one were successive in Late Antiquity; that is, as paganism faded, Christianity prevailed. In the current research, they are seen as changing and developing together.1 The construction of an identity is an abstract and universal process, but profoundly embedded in specific historical, cultural, social, and material environments. Furthermore, there is more than one way of understanding one’s identity—​‘identity’ here meaning one’s self-​conception as a group member.2 Groups, but also individuals, have a propensity to mould their identities. Thus, despite an individual being classified as a Christian by late antique bishops (and modern researchers), being Christian was not the only available alternative. An individual could activate and deactivate identities in a given situation from a situational selection of identities.3 Therefore, anthropologists and sociologists speak of situational identities or levels of identity, which make it possible for individuals to adjust their identities. During significant social and cultural transformations, such as the late antique periods of transition, individuals and groups have more objects for identification than during more static periods.4 1. For criticism of the previous scholarship, see Sizgorich 2009, 21 and Brown 2007, 6–​7. 2. In what follows, I  will draw upon recent work in the different fields of sociology. In the social identity approach developed by Henry Tajfel and onwards, social identity is understood as ‘that part of an individual’s self-​ concept which derives from his knowledge of his membership of a social group (or groups) together with the value and emotional significance attached to that membership’ (Tajfel 1978, 63). See also Abrams and Hogg 1990, 2–​5; Nikki 2013, 84–​88; Hakola 2013, 33–​65. 3. As Turner 1987, 44 notes, ‘any individual possesses multiple concepts of self. If there is unity at all, it is only in so far as the different cognitive representations form a cognitive system, but the parts are highly differentiated and can function relatively independently’. On identity as a sociocultural variable, see Abner Cohen 1981, 317–​329; on the plurality of identities in Late Antiquity, see Rebillard 2012, 7–​8, 91–​92. 4. Okamura 1981, 452–​465; Brubaker 2004, 28–​48; Lahire 2011, esp. 11–​31 on an individual’s internal plurality. The starting point for Lahire 2011, x is a criticism of Pierre Bourdieu’s habitus as too simplistic a model into which ‘out of place’ and ‘maladjusted’ individuals do not fit.

Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450. Maijastina Kahlos. Oxford University Press (2020). © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190067250.001.0001

86  People in rhetoric and realities As Éric Rebillard has appositely pointed out, research on the encounters between religious groups in Late Antiquity is at risk of reifying the groups—​even though researchers realize that the boundaries between groups are ever-​changing and contingent.5 In modern sociology, Rogers Brubaker has criticized modern research for uncritically taking categories of religious practice as categories of social analysis and falling into the trap of ‘groupism’. Instead of tackling ‘groupism’, scholars ought to concentrate on processes in which categories are developed to make sense of the social world.6 In the case of Late Antiquity, this means that the category ‘pagans’ developed by Christian writers should not be taken for granted. Instead, scholars ought to analyse the processes by means of which the late antique writers used categories such as ‘pagans’ and ‘heretics’, as well as ‘Christians’, to make sense of their world. There was a potential for myriads of different and even contradictory meanings of being Christian (or non-​Christian as well). Raffaella Cribiore writes of ‘many different passageways in which people could walk, sometimes back and forth, at various moments of their life’.7 Vis-​à-​vis research of the distant past, this often means developing increased awareness of and making distinctions between emic and etic concepts. In recent discussions, it has also been noted that use of the modern term ‘identity’ is problematic because it is anachronistic, to the point that its value as an analytical category has been questioned.8 The boundaries between groups such as late antique pagans and Christians were continuously shifting, negotiated, and redefined.9 Boundaries between groups are delineated and reinforced by boundary markers, which are necessarily reinvented and replaced when new ideas and relationships are incorporated in the wake of cultural contacts.10 As Judith Lieu writes, the frontiers are under both construction and contention, and ‘at times rather more a potentially well-​populated, perhaps transient, no-​man’s land, where movement and connectedness is at least as common as separation’.11 When analysing ancient religions, we need to look at who marked and defined these boundaries (for example, of a correct religion, proper practices, or true doctrine).12 One of the boundary markers in late antique Christian groups was idolatry, while the Trinitarian doctrine became another significant marker. The more porous boundaries are and the more uncertain groups are, the more absolute, the more immutable, and the more intransgressible markers are often seen to be, and the more intensively they 5. Rebillard 2012, 2; also Rebillard 2015, 293–​294. Stowers 2011a, 238–​256 gives similar warnings on the use of the concept of ‘community’ in the research of early Christianity. 6. Brubaker 2004, 7–​48. 7. Cribiore 2013, 172. 8. See Berzon 2016b, for apposite criticism on the uses of the concept of identity. 9. Drake 2006a, 229; Verdoner 2006, 237–​239. 10. Barth 1969, 15–​16; Barth 2000, 22–​25; Stuart Hall 1997, 223–​290. 11. Judith Lieu 2004, 141. 12. Frakes and DePalma Digeser 2006, 7; Woyke 2007, 87–​112; Niehoff 1998, 135.

Individuals, groups, and plural possibilities  87 are disciplined.13 This can be seen in Prudentius’s eloquent proclamation in his Against the Appeal of Symmachus: Go away, you pagans! You have no fellowship in the way with the people of God. Depart afar and enter into your chaos, where that guide calls you, who goes before you over twisted ways far from the road in the infernal night!14 With their porous boundaries, identities are best analysed as processes. People create categories that are in constant flux:  how individuals come to constitute and understand themselves and how categories are adapted to changing circumstances.15 Research with an etic perspective sees change and negotiation, while groups and individuals with their emic perception, as Thomas Sizgorich writes, ‘seldom understand their own identities as contingent, constructed, or subject to elaboration or reinterpretation’, and they more often believe that their identity is ‘the sum of some combination of unchanging characteristics which define all real members of the group and which are in the present moment as they always have been’.16 Making differences between ourselves and the others is necessary for making meaning in human encounters. Thus, identity as a process entails the presence of the other. The image of the other is fundamental for constructing a sense of the self.17 We can distinguish between the language of difference and that of otherness (often called ‘othering’). As the language of difference is relative and open to dialogue (negotiation and alteration), the language of otherness builds boundaries that are aimed at being definitive. Thus, the language of otherness involves more than simply pointing out differences.18 Creating stereotypes of others (outsiders) has proved to be a powerful tool in maintaining boundaries between groups.19 In the research on stereotypes, it is vital to avoid looking for universalizing explanations or metanarratives that only naturalize the stereotype rather than questioning its artificiality. Instead of overarching generalizations, we should enquire about the factors that contribute to the development of specific stereotypes at a specific time and place. Stereotypes are to be historically contextualized (where they come from and how they develop) in the sense that 13. On the disciplining of Christian identities, see Sizgorich 2009, 11; on regulative self-​definition, see Iricinschi and Zellentin 2008b, 13. 14. Prud. c. Symm. 2.900–​903. Trans. LCL 398, 79, modified. 15. For categorization and processes, see Nikki 2013, 48–​51 (Apostle Paul); Rebillard 1998, 127 n. 1 (bishops); Sizgorich 2009, 22–​23 (late antique Christians); Miles 1999, 1–​15 (late antique identities). Bhabha 2000, 51 stresses that ‘identity is never an a priori, nor a finished product’, but ‘it is only ever [a]‌problematic process’. 16. Sizgorich 2009,  22–​23. 17. For relationship of the self and the other, see Kahlos 2011a, 2–​4; Stuart Hall 1997, 234–​238; Shusterman 1998, 107–​112; Gruenwald 1994, 9–​10; Gruenwald 1998, 18. 18. J. Z. Smith 2004, 241–​242 on otherness. Rauhala 2012, 12–​15 gives one of the best recent theoretical treatments on stereotypes in Antiquity. 19. Hogg and Abrams 1988, 65–​78.

88  People in rhetoric and realities they arise for specific reasons.20 By means of stereotypes, groups and cultures externalize onto others attributes that are problematic for the definers themselves. Negative features belonging to the human animalistic nature/​body are projected onto others, who are then defined as dirty, defiled, and disgusting. Other people are viewed as less human and more animal.21 Bestial imagery was a frequently used tool for denigrating one’s religious rivals. For example, Jerome degraded his ecclesiastical rivals with metaphors of animals, such as horses, goats, doves, and hoopoes. These animals had connotations of sexual immoderation. Jerome further depicted his opponents as dogs, foxes, different birds of prey (vultures, eagles, hawks, and owls), scorpions, and snakes.22 In his gigantic list of heresies, Epiphanius of Salamis parallels the heresies with snakes, lizards, or other poisonous beasts, against whose bites he then offers an antidote: the true doctrine.23 After all this theoretical contemplation, I discuss the late antique sources in which we see different binary oppositions being worked and reworked. My intention is not to reauthorize any of these oppositional categories (Christians/​pagans, orthodox/​heretic, proper religion/​superstition, religion/​magic, and so forth), but rather to analyse the discursive processes by means of which these categories were developed, and to observe their effects. Naming, listing, and labelling Naming the surrounding world is not a neutral issue. The members of a group usually denote themselves (‘we’) simply with a word that means ‘the people’. ‘We’ represents the norm and does not need a name, while outsiders are given specific names because they are regarded as divergent from this norm.24 Thus, those who set names to function as boundary markers segregate those who are named. They have the power to mark, assign, and classify. The power of naming and labelling can be seen in the use of the terms ‘pagans’ and ‘heretics’, as well as ‘barbarians’. Many terms carried negative connotations. Several ecclesiastical writers named their rival Christian groups with appellations derived from their alleged founders—​ Marcionites, Arians, Luciferians, Eunomians, Nestorians, Priscillianists, Donatists, and so on. These were not names that these groups would have called themselves, but only designations that their opponents used. With these labels, the name-​givers implied that these groups were not real Christians. 2 0. Stratton 2007, x–​xi, 179. 21. See Rauhala 2012, 15; Schneider 2004, 14–​22; Gilman 1985, 16–​31. The animalization of the other has been connected with the worldview that consists of the binary oppositions ‘human/​not human’ and ‘we/​they’; see J. Z. Smith 1985, 15. 22. Dogs: Hier. c. Vigil. 6, 11; foxes: c. Ruf. 3.7; scorpions: c. Ruf. 3.42; c. Ioh. 8; snakes: c. Iov. 1.3; c. Vigil. 15–​16; c. Ioh. 3, 25. Kahlos 2010, 621–​649; Opelt 1973, 126 n. 55; Wiesen 1964, 234–​235. 23. E.g., Epiphanius (pan. compares Heracleonites to a lizard whose poison in food or drink causes immediate death. For the bestial imagery in the Panarion, see Kim 2015, 173–​203. 24. de Bruyn 2004, 149; Remus 2004, 192–​193; Iricinschi and Zellentin 2008b, 2.

Individuals, groups, and plural possibilities  89 It is illustrative that the Christians their rivals referred to and modern scholars still refer to as Donatists called themselves catholic Christians—​and in turn called their opponents (who also considered themselves catholics) Caecilianists. Giving names to religious others—​namely, dissenters from the viewpoint of the mainstream—​relates to constructing taxonomies and classifications. David Chidester writes in his research on colonialism and comparative religion that ‘the conceptual organization of human diversity into rigid, static categories was one strategy for simplifying and thereby achieving some cognitive control over the bewildering complexity of a frontier zone’. Naming and classifying groups into distinct packages served to create order in society when it was experiencing change and confusion. This also gave the ecclesiastical authorities and the imperial administration a sense of managing individuals and groups and ordering the knowledge of these groups. This knowledge-​ordering is particularly noticeable in the increasing heresiological literature of the fourth and fifth centuries.25 As we have already seen in the discussion on legislation in ­chapter  1, legislators sought to treat religious dissenters as groups. Furthermore, in the compilation of the Theodosian Code, legal taxonomies were endorsed in Book 16 with the following title headings: ‘pagans’ (linked with sacrifices and temples), ‘Jews, Caelicolists and Samaritans’, and ‘heretics’. These legal taxonomies were soon adopted in Theodosius II’s Novel 3.1. As Caroline Humfress points out, these categories were hardly a ‘natural’ or ‘accurate’ reflection of realities on the ground, but what they show us is ‘an imperial—​and imperialist—​ordering of late Roman law and religion’.26 Furthermore, the variety of religious dissenters (adherents of old and new gods, rival Christian groups, Jews, Samaritans, Manichaeans, and so forth) were lumped together into the category of the enemies of the true catholic Christianity. Three dissident groups—​pagans, Jews, and heretics—​were demonized in legislation27 and episcopal writings as representing the same error and delusion.28 Brent Shaw argues that Augustine deliberately represented heretics (especially his rivals, the Donatists), pagans, and Jews as strongly linked in their hostility to the church and as enemies of the truth, and that this triangle was well-​ versed in promoting policies against pagans and Donatists.29

25. Chidester 1996, 21–​22; Chidester is discussed by Jacobs 2003, 24. On knowledge-​ordering, see König and Whitmarsh 2007; Flower 2013b, 172–​175; Berzon 2016a, 1–​26. 26. Humfress 2016, 160–​176. 27. CTh 16.8.26 (in 423): pagans, Jews, and heretics all together; 16.10.24 (in 423). CTh 16.5.63 (in 425): pagans, all heresies, perfidies, and schisms grouped together. A fourth group, the Samaritans, is occasionally added to this category of the erroneous ones. Millar 2006, 119–​120, 126; Stemberger 2002, 203–​208. 28. Mentions of the triple conspiracy abound in ecclesiastical writings: see, e.g., Gaudent. tract. 7.21 on the error of pagans, the iniquity of Jews, and the wickedness of heretics that all corrupt the mass of faith with the leaven of the Devil. See also Theodoret. ep. 81, 113 (PG 83, 1260, 1317) on the continuous struggle against pagans, Jews, and heretics. For a discussion, see Cracco Ruggini 1986, 39; Van Dam 2007b, 258–​259; Kahlos 2011c, 190–​192 with further examples. 29. E.g. Aug. serm. 64.1. Shaw 2011, 271–​283 with plenty of references.

90  People in rhetoric and realities ‘Christians’ and Christian self-​p erception When considering naming and labelling, it is worth remembering that the term Christianoi for Christians originated outside the community of Jesus’s followers, most probably from among the Greek population of Antioch. Only later did the term become a self-​designation for Jesus’s adherents themselves.30 It has become commonplace to mention that we should speak of Christianity in the plural. Nonetheless, modern scholars tend to refer to the ancient Christians as if they constituted a single conglomerate. It would be as incorrect to depict Christianity as a single, monolithic unit as it would be to portray the others as non-​Christians. All religions include ever-​changing, contending, and differing ideas and possibilities, and so did Christianity. It contained a broad range of Christians and alternative voices.31 Consequently, there was no one Christian attitude regarding non-​Christians or deviant Christians. Not every Christian aimed to establish strict boundaries between one’s own group and others. Homogeneity and fixed boundaries were not objective features in the social reality, but rather part of the rhetorical self-​enhancement of ecclesiastical leaders who wanted to view Christians as a self-​contained entity. As Keith Hopkins remarks, the term ‘Christian’ is more of a persuasive category than an objective one. Furthermore, in the Graeco-​Roman polytheistic society, many individuals whom Christian leaders counted as Christians may not have regarded themselves as primarily Christian: as Hopkins points out, ‘ambiguity of religious identity was particularly pervasive in a polytheistic society, because polytheists were accustomed to seek the help of strange gods’. Commitment to one god only or belonging to one group only, which ecclesiastical leaders demanded, was not easy to understand for people brought up in a culture with many cults, civic and private. Christians—​or, simply, people with Christian sympathies—​were not necessarily predominantly determined by their religious adherence. Many Christians had a situational selection of identities and, therefore, did not always accord to their Christianness as much importance as ecclesiastical leaders would have liked.32 In their search for Christian identity, Christian writers moulded their self-​ understanding in relation to Jews, especially during the first centuries CE, and pagans. The boundaries of being Christian were negotiated with binary oppositions by defining what ‘we’ were and were not, or what ‘our’ deity was and was not, or ‘our’ rituals were and were not, in relation to the ideas of Jews and pagans.33 30. Acts 11:26. I am following the interpretation of Hegedus 2004, 174; see also Judith Lieu 2004, 250–​253; Townsend 2008, 212–​230. 31. For the polyphony of early Christian voices, see King 2008, 71; Lieu, North, and Rajak 1992, 4; Wischmeyer 2001, 270–​281. Rowan Williams 1989, 2 even questions the idea of thinking of a single and continuous Christian history. 32. Hopkins 1998, 186. 33. For the moulding of Christian self-​understanding, see Buell 2005, 35–​62, and especially in regard to Jews, see Boyarin 2004; Boyarin and Burrus 2005, 431–​441; Lieu 2004. In regard to pagans, see Kahlos 2011c, 194–​195; Kahlos 2007, 11–​54.

Individuals, groups, and plural possibilities  91 Christian self-​perception was in a continual process of redefinition, especially during periods of great social and religious change, such as the Constantinian turn, when the power relations began to shift. Ecclesiastical leaders sought to clarify what being a proper Christian meant. A highly self-​aware bishop regarded as accurate his own views of what being a Christian entailed, while (in his eyes) other people had no idea of what being a Christian really meant. Even though they eventually ended up on competing sides, both Augustine and Pelagius admonished their audiences to be Christians not only in name (nomen), but also in action (facta), works (opera), and way of life (conversatio). Orosius also complained of people who were Christians only in name (praetento Christiano nomine).34 The variety of Christians is also connected to the ecclesiastical leaders’ use of labels such as ‘weaker Christians’, referring to those Christians whose allegiance they did not regard as adequate. Modern researchers have called them moderate, mediocre members of the two-​tiered church, semi-​Christians, and centre-​Christians.35 Bishops and their parishioners had divergent views on which festivities a proper Christian could or could not attend. Bishops ended up even guiding emperors on this matter. Ambrose admonished Valentinian II to make a clear choice, since every Christian should truly worship (veraciter colere) only the one god.36

34. On the ever-​changing conceptual frontiers, see Markus 1990, 34; Rothaus 1996, 299–​307. For the ambivalence of Christianization, see Salamito 2010, 64. Oros. hist. 1.8.14. 35. Markus 1990, 9 speaks of ‘Christian mediocrity’ and ‘two-​tiered church’. Correspondingly, in regard to the more demanding Christians, Garnsey and Humfress 2001, 142 speak of Christian ‘overachievers’ such as Augustine. Alan Cameron 2011, 176–​177 speaks of centre-​Christians as part of his five overlapping categories of committed Christians, centre-​Christians, those who resisted straightforward classification, centre-​pagans, and committed pagans. See Rebillard 2011, 297–​298 for a criticism of Cameron’s categories. 36. Ambr. ep. 72.6–​7.


Otherness outside: Making pagans


he concept of ‘pagans’ was developed and used by ancient Christian writers to refer to religious others. ‘Pagans’ is a relational concept, which means that it only exists in relation to, and in most cases in contrast with, the concept of ‘Christians’. The Christian concept of pagans was influenced by Jewish tradition, which distinguished between Jews and non-​Jews. From the later Hellenistic period, Greek-​speaking Jews referred to Hellenes in the sense of ‘non-​believer’ or ‘idolater’, making a distinction between ‘Jews’ and ‘Hellenes’. The term ‘Hellene’ and its derivatives referred to those who were not true Jews in the eyes of the speaker.1 Later, Christian writers adopted the Greek terms ethne and ethnikoi from Jewish writers. The Greek terms were then adopted as the Latin translations gentiles, gentes, and nationes. These terms were by no means neutral, but had connotations of foreignness, strangeness, and barbarity. They also stressed the local or tribal nature of non-​Christian religions, in contrast to the universality of Christianity. Before and during the fourth century, the Greek ethne and ethnikoi, as well as the Latin gentes, gentiles, and nationes, were the most frequent words for non-​Christians.2 The Greek word Hellenes, in the sense of non-​believer or idolater, was also adapted from Jewish usage and became commonly used as the synonym for non-​ Christians in Christian literature. It also came to mean those who were not true Christians in the eyes of the speaker (for instance, other Christians whose theological views differed from one’s own). At the Council of Nicaea, members of the opposing party shunned their rivals as Hellenes and accused them of introducing polytheism.3 Thus, Hellenism and Judaism were also a rhetorical twin-​headed threat in intra-​Christian disputes: rival Christians were dismissed as improper Christians and labelled as inclining either to ‘Judaism’ or ‘Hellenism’ (for instance, in the attacks of Athanasius against the Homoians). It is not always clear to the 1. For the concept of pagans, see Kahlos 2011c, 167–​170; Kahlos 2007, 15–​28; Lizzi Testa 2013, 31–​51; Jürgasch 2015, 115–​138. On the terminology of Jewish writers, see Hengel 1994, xii–​xv; Fredouille 1986, 1116–​1118; on Hellenistic terminology, see Boin 2014, 176; C. P. Jones 2014, 2; Janowitz 2000, 214. 2. In the New Testament, the word ethne refers to pagans as contraposed to God’s people and Christians converted from pagans; see Matt. 28:19 on the mission to ‘instruct all the nations’ (ethne). Latin: e.g., Tert. spect. 1.2, 3.1, 3.5, 5.1, 19.5, 21.1, 24.3, 27.1. Fredouille 1986, 1117–​1120; Demougeot 1956, 342–​343; Heckel 1994, 270; Bowersock 1990,  10–​11. 3. Cf. Acts 18:4, 19, 17. Socr. eccl. 1.23.7.

Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450. Maijastina Kahlos. Oxford University Press (2020). © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190067250.001.0001

Otherness outside  93 modern observer whether the reference is to other Christians or to people outside the Christian communities. Eusebius can be interpreted as either using the term Hellenismos in an intra-​Christian context or portraying Christians as distinct from the Greeks (non-​Christians).4 In Greek, Hellenes became the standard overall term for pagans in the fourth century, and it was employed throughout the late antique and Byzantine periods. The title of Theodoret’s work, Hellenikon therapeutike mathematon, is illustrative of this use. Hellenes were those who belonged to the Greek culture, but were neither Christians nor Jews. It is difficult to say when exactly the linguistic, ethnic, and cultural emphasis was replaced by contraposition in relation to Christians.5 The term Hellenes probably meant different things to different people, particularly in the fourth century. Libanius used the term as referring to myths, literature, art, and lifestyle, whereas John Chrysostom used it to chastise Christian participation in urban life (festivals and games). Greek culture and the traditional religious life were closely connected in the word Hellenismos. Libanius uses the expression ‘to be a Hellene’, which was understood to emphasize the traditional Greek way of life, including the traditional religious customs of the fathers.6 Pagani emerged as the term for non-​Christians in the Latin West in the fourth century, and for the most part it replaced other terms such as gentes and gentiles in Latin from the fifth century onwards.7 In the sense of non-​Christian, the word paganus does not become frequent until the mid-​fourth century. The earliest writer is Marius Victorinus, who applies the word a couple of times when explaining the word Graeci used in the sense of non-​Christians.8 Thereafter the term pagani appears in legislation and Christian literature (for instance, ‘Ambrosiaster’, Prudentius, and Augustine, Philastrius, Optatus, and Rufinus) along with the words gentiles and nationes. Paganus became more frequent in the beginning of 4. Athan. ep. Aeg. Lib. 21. Eus. dem. ev. 1.2.1 with the differing interpretations by Boin, 2014, 185–​187 (intra-​ Christian context) or A. P. Johnson 2012, 437–​466 (referring to non-​Christians). 5. Theodoret. cur. prooem. 1.19, 2.95, 9.28, 11.16. Klein 1988, 434 and Vinzent 1998, 36 suggest that the word ‘Hellenes’ had the contraposition of pagans and Christians for the first time in Origen’s use. Bowersock 1990, 9–​10 states that the term was used in the sense of pagan in the Constantinian period (e.g., by Eusebius). 6. Liban. ep. 285.2. For a discussion, see Sandwell 2007, 176–​180. 7. Before its Christian use, the Latin word paganus, meaning literally ‘villager’ (from the word pagus), referred to a country dweller, peasant, or rustic. The scholarly discussion on the history of the term is surveyed in Chuvin 1990, 6–​9; Chuvin 2002, 7–​15; Remus 2004, 198–​201; C. P. Jones 2014, 5–​6; O’Donnell 1977, 163–​164; Mohrmann 1952, 109–​121. The most recurrent modern interpretation (from Zeiller 1917, 59–​70 onwards) stresses the aspect of rusticity and provinciality in the Christian use of paganus: the use of the word was explained with the supposition that pagan cults survived most tenaciously in the remotest country districts, whereas Christianity dominated in the cities. Paganism was a relic on the periphery. This interpretation follows the fifth-​century contraposition connected to the term. Orosius (hist. 1 prol. 9) points out that non-​Christians are called pagani (‘belonging to a village’) because they live in pagi of rural places; thus, they are aliens in relation to God’s commonwealth. The second interpretation (Altaner 1939, 130–​141; also Lane Fox 1986, 30–​31) stresses the contraposition between civilian and military life: in its early Christian use, the term paganus was used for a person who was not a miles Christi. 8. Mar. Victorin. in Gal. 2.3: qui [sc. Titus] utique, inquit, Graecus erat, id est paganus; 4.3: . . . apud Graecos, id est apud paganos; see also homoous. 1.7: Hellenas, vel paganos vocant. Boin 2014, 193 suggests that ‘paganus arose among Latin-​speaking Christians who viewed their own social identity in much more uncompromising terms than their peers’ in the period after the legalization of Christianity.

94  People in rhetoric and realities the fifth century (around 415–​420). Orosius applied the term repeatedly.9 In legislation, the term pagani was applied to non-​Christians for the first time in 370.10 Thereafter paganus is used in legal language connected with negative words such as superstitio, error, crimen, and insania.11 Paganus in the sense of non-​Christian was employed colloquially, and it was probably in common use before it appeared in literary texts and legislation.12 In the Latin West, pagans were labelled as a group of country folk on the periphery or even outside Roman Christian society, whereas in the Greek East, they were defined as Hellenes without any insinuation of provinciality. The difference in the terms may reflect the fact that in the East, non-​Christian cults were not restricted to the remotest areas of the empire, but remained active in the cities. The term pagani may tell us more about what Christian writers regarded as appropriate to call their religious rivals, even though it may reveal historical circumstances as well—​the pace of the Christianization of western cities and the lingering of pagan remnants in the countryside. In the East, a contrast was construed between the Hellenic and Christian cultures.13 In the West, the dichotomy was between the centre and periphery, sophistication and crudeness, and even the Roman and the barbarian.14 Who were pagans? Stereotypes and realities The concept of ‘pagans’ was used to define the boundaries of being Christian. Thus, its development illustrates the evolving Christian self-​consciousness, the Christian keenness to be defined as separate and different from other, non-​ Christian people.15 In the Christian construction of paganism, a wide variety of Greek, Roman, and other cults, beliefs, and practices were grouped together. 9. Augustine also uses the nouns paganitas and paganismus. Gens pagana appears a few times in Prud. c. Symm. 1 praef. 6, but nowhere else in Prud. c. Symm; in 1.449 paganus is used in the sense of ‘rustic’. Ambrose and Jerome do not use the term. Oros. hist. 1 prol. 9; passim. In Salvian’s De gubernatione Dei (around 440), paganus appears fairly rarely, whereas writers such as Pacianus of Barcelona, Optatus of Milevis, and Philastrius of Brescia use the word repeatedly. Demougeot 1956, 337–​340, 344–​345; O’Donnell 1977, 165. 10. CTh 16.2.18 (in 370): paganorum animi. However, according to Martroye 1930, 683 n. 1, in CTh 16.2.18 pagani refers to Donatists—​not non-​Christians—​as country dwellers, being inhabitants of pagi. 11. E.g. CTh 16.10.2–​3, 16.10.13, 16.10.16, 16.10.20–​21, 16.10.25. 12. CTh 16.5.46 (in 409) explains pagani as a word used by the commons: gentiles quos vulgo paganos appellant. Aug. ep. 184a.5 stresses the popular character of the word: quos vel gentiles vel iam vulgo usitato vocabulo paganos appellare consuevimus; retract. 2.43.1. Pagani became prevalent at the cost of the previously frequent words gentes and gentiles, which were disturbingly ambiguous, referring to both non-​Christians and non-​Romans. Because of this double meaning, church fathers and legislative texts often clarified the use of the word gentiles with explanatory remarks of pagani. The two terms were used to explain each other: CTh 16.10.21 (in 416): qui profano pagani ritus errore seu crimine polluuntur, hoc est gentiles. 13. The second-​and third-​century Christian apologists such as Justin had already highlighted the contrast between the Hellenic and Christian paideia, as they themselves belonged to the Hellenic culture as well. See Lyman 2003a, 209–​222; Lyman 2003b, 36–​60;. 14. Other appellations such as ‘polytheists’ were rare: Procop. hist. arc. 11.26–​27 speaks of polytheoi. 15. Vinzent 1998, 32–​65; Stuckrad 2002, 184–​202. Boin 2014, 194–​195 also suggests that the emergence of ‘pagan’ and ‘paganism’ is best seen as a symptom of growing Christian sectarianism in the fourth century.

Otherness outside  95 People Christian writers called ‘pagans’ neither had any name for themselves nor conceived of themselves as any kind of unified religious tradition. What we call the Greek and Roman religious traditions lacked a distinctive name: the Greeks and Romans simply spoke of threskeia, cultus (worship), eusebeia, pietas (piety), nomos (law), or religio (religious observance). Despite syncretistic tendencies during the early imperial period, many of these cults still had very little in common with each other. Stoic and Neoplatonic philosophers looked for a common ground of all religions and made attempts to see all religions as a system. This does not mean, however, that the adherents of different cults would have perceived of themselves as pagans or were conscious of their paganism. They neither had any common creed nor aimed at one. The consciousness of an entity of ‘paganism’ came only in relation to evolving Christianity, as Christian apologists grasped onto ‘paganism’ as the thing against which to contrast Christianity.16 References to pagans and pagan beliefs and practices cannot be taken at face value.17 The ‘pagans’ in Christian sources had different functions, and often several overlapping functions, depending on the context and motivations of the writers. When ecclesiastical leaders mention pagans in their letters, sermons, and theological treatises, in our interpretation of these representations, we must take into account the topoi, the literary conventions or traditional motifs and themes that they frequently used. In the Christian literature, especially theological tractates and commentaries, pagans were frequently used as a theological construction—​very much in the manner of Jews in the New Testament and other early Christian writings as ‘theological phantoms’ that functioned as a mirror image in which the writer’s theological views and moral conduct were reflected and enhanced. In hagiography, we encounter ‘cartoon pagans’, as Michael Gaddis calls them.18 Augustine explained the existence of remaining pagans as contradictors, or testers, of the Christian faith. Ambrose mocked the absurdities of metempsychosis, thereby confirming for his audience the superiority of the Christian doctrine.19 In his Psychomachia, Prudentius characterized the vices as representing the pagan Roman world, whereas he depicted the virtues as 16. Hopkins 1999, 30; Fowden 1993, 38; Fowden 2001, 83; Watts 2015, 221 n. 2. However, see Van Nuffelen 2011, 80–​109, which draws attention to the Graeco-​Roman tendency to perceive different cults as an entity, and North 1992, 188–​189, which speaks of pagan self-​awareness as early as the second and third centuries. While this is true, I would see this tendency as more philosophical theorization of the divine sphere by intellectuals, rather than as pertaining to the practical side of religious activities. 17. As Markus 2001, 23 points out, we also need to consider whether we are speaking of ‘pagans’ in our own modern sense (and what we mean by the word) or ‘pagans’ as they were understood by late antique Christians (and what they meant by it). This leads to a wide variety of meanings, since each scholar may have his or her own individual idea, and each late antique writer may have had his own. 18. The most notorious theological creation was the hostile image of the Pharisees in the canonical Gospels, which was used in the internal debates of Christians. See Kraabel 1985, 219–​246 on ‘theological phantoms’; Fredriksen 2008, 353 on ‘theological and rhetorical Jews’; Stroumsa 2009, 48–​49 on the ‘Hermeneutical Jew’; Gaddis 2005, 188 on ‘cartoon pagans’. 19. Aug. serm. 360A (=Dolbeau 24.4). Kennell 1998, 343–​352. Ambr. excid. fratr. 2.131. McLynn 1994, 77 on Ambrose’s Christian audience.

96  People in rhetoric and realities Christian. For Caesarius of Arles, drunkenness and other vices are emphatically pagan. Gaudentius of Brescia lumps idolatrous practices together with crimes and vices such as adultery, debauchery, and murder.20 The moral and cultic integrity of pagans was undermined by the use of such terms as impious, unjust, immoral, perfidious, profane, and blasphemous (impii, iniusti, nefandi, perfidi, profani, blasphemi). Rhetorical, literary, or theological pagans served in Christian self-​perception as the mirrors for being Christian, and flesh-​and-​blood individuals are quite removed from these phantoms. The pagan label, or defamation by association with paganism, was one of the most frequently employed weapons against ecclesiastical or political opponents (among the charges of heresy, Judaism, magic, and Manichaeism). Even powerful bishops were branded as pagans or crypto-​pagans. In their mutual polemic, Christian sects called each other pagans or even worse than pagans. Athanasius of Alexandria defamed ‘Arians’ as being even inferior to pagans and comparable to animals: Who would call them even by the name of pagans, much less by that of Christians? Would anyone regard their habits and feelings as human and not rather those of wild beasts, seeing their cruel and savage conduct? . . . They are much inferior to the pagans and stand far apart and separate from them.21 Cyril of Alexandria and Nestorius refuted each other’s introduction of pagan impiety and polytheism.22 Jerome played the pagan card against John of Jerusalem, whose doctrine he slanders as the composition of pagan fables. In Against Vigilantius, he even associates his rival with Porphyry of Tyre and Eunomius and, correspondingly, pagan philosophy and heresy.23 In the fifth century, the charge of paganism was increasingly connected with accusations of magic and divination.24 Ecclesiastical leaders used the concept of pagans to reproach their Christian congregations. The picture of good pagans was a mirror for the moral education of Christians themselves: Christians should do better. Augustine declared that many pagans lived far more respectably and chastely than those wretched Christians who wasted their time in feasting, drinking, and sexual excess. Christian immorality and immoderation were an offence to these good pagans, which gave them an opportunity to despise Christians for their corruption. Consequently, pagans found a pretext to refuse Christianity and, thus, wretched 20. Caesar. Arel. serm. 192–​193; also serm. 233. Gaudent. tract. 13.28. 21. Athan. hist. Arian. 64. Trans. NPNF, modified. 22. Cyril of Alexandria in ep. 1.7, 1.27 (ACO 1.1.1, 13, 23); Nestorius in ep. 2 (ACO 1.1.1, 29–​32) and ep. 1 (ACO 1.2, 12–​14). For Cyril and Nestorius, see Kahlos 2014, 1–​32. 23. Hier. c. Ioh. 19; cf. c. Ioh. 32; c. Vigil. 10. 24. See my discussion in ­chapter 14.

Otherness outside  97 Christians were an impediment to pagans’ salvation. Respectable pagans hardly wanted to be converted when they saw Christians persisting with their recklessness. Augustine proclaims that he would regard good pagans (rather than wretched Christians, he implies) as leading decent lives. A good pagan was in the darkness with his eyes wide open because he did not acknowledge the light of the Christian God. In comparison, a wretched Christian was in the light of the Lord, but with eyes shut.25 In another sermon, Augustine points out that one could find people who lived decently and yet were not Christians (invenies quippe homines bene viventes, et non Christianos). He remarks that there are pagans who ‘walk’ in the proper manner; that is, they lead good lives, but they do not walk in the right path (bene currunt, sed in via non currunt).26 As Augustine reminds his audience, Christians were responsible for marketing a good image of Christians for the remaining pagans. Therefore, those Christians who frequented pagan feasts and ceremonies obstructed pagans from becoming Christians. Noting that those pagans who might have wanted to come to the Christian church were insulted and drew back, Augustine exclaims to his parishioners, ‘You are the stones in their way’ (lapides estis in via).27 The exceptions of respectable pagans could explain away the inconvenient elements that did match the stereotypical image of impious and indecent pagans. Augustine refers to a discussion on good and bad pagans held with some pagans who had reminded him that, as there were both decent and wretched Christians, there were also decent and wretched pagans.28 Flexible prejudices were useful in missionary dialogue with pagans. When not all pagans were labelled as corrupt, it was easier for pagans that sympathized with Christianity to approach it. Flesh-​a nd-​b lood pagans? As Augustine’s sermons show in many cases, it is clear that writers referred to real humans in factual everyday situations by following the literary conventions that they had learned as part of their education. Different stock descriptions and labels—​such as stupidity, rudeness, and rusticity—​are projected onto these people, forming a point of reference in contemporary social reality. In their sermons, Augustine, Caesarius of Arles, and Maximus of Turin complained of people who adhered to idolatrous practices and even enticed their Christian neighbours to attend pagan festivities. Whether these people regarded themselves as pagans or Christians, in the eyes of church leaders they appeared as pagans. Here the 25. The argument a minori ad maius had already been used by the Apostle Paul when he acknowledged the existence of some pagans who by nature followed the Law, even though they were not acquainted with it (Romans 2, 14–​15). Aug. enarr. ps. 25.2.14, 25.2.2; also enarr. ps. 100.8. 26. Aug. serm. 141.4. 27. Aug. serm. 62.6.9. For other examples, see Courcelle 1958, 171–​173; Chadwick 1985, 17. 28. Aug. serm. 198 augm. (=Dolbeau 26.10).

98  People in rhetoric and realities pagan label functioned as a method of chastisement for people in the bishops’ audiences. Augustine argues with his listeners about participation in urban celebrations. He reports that some of them defended this practice, insisting that they are good Christians: the sign of cross that they have received on their foreheads as catechumens protects them from the pollution of idolatry.29 In another case, Augustine mentions Christians who think that they can visit idols and consult magi and soothsayers, but still consider themselves good Christians, claiming, ‘I have not abandoned the church for I am catholicus.’30 We can presume that even though these remarks are Augustine’s rhetorical constructions, they have some vague point of reference in North African social life. These examples show different levels of overlapping functions, making it usually impossible to distinguish between them. The same image of pagans could be used to draw boundaries in relation to real or fictive opponents on theological and rhetorical levels, and at the same time at the practical, social level in a writer’s community. The concept of pagans was used for policing boundaries within the church. Bishops and other ecclesiastical leaders tried to control religiously ambivalent persons, labelling them as pagans. In the sixth century, Gregory I, the bishop of Rome, spoke of the ‘gentile’ within ‘the bosom of the church’ itself. For Gregory, ‘pagan’ was also a theological category for policing and defining those belonging to the in-​group of proper Christians and those who were outside it.31 In this way, religious ambivalence and unaccepted conduct were exiled outside the Christian community. Nonconforming Christians were portrayed as pagans. For example, Caesarius of Arles reprimanded his parishioners for still visiting idols. They were not only reluctant to demolish the shrines of pagans, but they even dared to restore shrines that had already been razed.32 What ‘pagan’ meant depended on the standards of each writer. Church leaders called various individuals and groups pagans or idolatrous; these included those who were baptized, catechumens, and unbaptized persons. In the circles of Christian over-​achievers or ‘super-​Christians’, especially among ascetic groups, those Christians who did not meet their more rigorist criteria were often considered pagans.33 Paganism was a construct of Christian self-​perception and, as such, it was fluid and opaque. In the legislation of Christian emperors, it could not be forbidden as a whole, because there had never been such a religion as paganism. Nor were any ‘pagan’ cults or groups named in fourth-​or fifth-​century legislation, 29. Aug. serm. 301A.8. On the social life of North African pagans and Christians in Augustine’s time, see Lepelley 1987, 99–​103; Lepelley 2002b, 278–​283; MacMullen 2009, 51–​67. 30. Aug. enarr. ps. 88.2.14. 31. Greg. M. mor. in Iob 29.26.53. Markus 2001, 25–​30; Cracco 2011, 585–​587. 32. Caesar. Arel. serm. 53.1 compares nonconforming Christians with pagans and wonders why these miserable people take baptism and go to church. 33. Alan Cameron 2011, 192–​197 argues that Volusianus, who was referred to as a pagan by Christian writers, was actually a catechumen; in the ascetic circles, ‘Hellene’ implied no more than that he had till then refused baptism and continence.

Otherness outside  99 contrary to heretical groups that were named, listed, and categorized with an almost obsessive intensity. Forbidding such a thing as paganism would have been juridically incomprehensible. Instead, more understandable was to refer only generally to people as gentiles or, as was more frequent, to various practices that were prohibited. In the law of 392, various sorts of practices were listed in detail and forbidden, so as to cover as many as possible: household gods (lares) were not to be venerated with fire, an individual’s genius was not to be honoured with wine, nor were the gods of his hearth (penates) to be offered fragrant odours: ‘he shall not burn light to them, place incense before them, or suspend wreaths for them’.34 Furthermore: But if any person should venerate, by placing incense before them, images made by the work of mortals and destined to suffer the ravages of time, and if, in a ridiculous manner, he should suddenly fear the effigies which he himself has formed, or should bind a tree with fillets, or should erect an altar of turf that he has dug up, or should attempt to honour vain images with the offering of a gift, which even though it is humble still is a complete outrage against religion, such person, as one guilty of the violation of religion, shall be punished by the forfeiture of that house or land holding in which it is proved that he served a pagan superstitio.35 Animal sacrifice was the most prominent ritual to be banned. In the eyes of Christian leaders, it represented the wickedness of paganism. For Christian apologetics and polemic, paganism was first and foremost signified by blood sacrifice. The opacity of the construct ‘paganism’ makes it very difficult to form arguments for or against the tenacity of paganism. While we have the statements of church leaders, who either complain about the continuation of idolatry or exult over its demise, what they reveal is the anxiety or religio-​political manoeuvring of the writers—​that is, what they saw as a real or imagined threat, and/​or what they considered a useful strategy to take against their (often intra-​Christian) religious rivals. Who are the pagans in these mentions? One can surmise that they are usually country folk whose practices on some level insulted the ecclesiastical elite. Another matter is which category modern scholars wish to give them: ‘pagans’, ‘Christians’, ‘paganizing Christians’, ‘Christianizing pagans’, ‘half-​ Christians’, ‘half-​pagans’, ‘part-​time pagans’, ‘part-​time Christians’, and so forth.36 All of these appellations involve problems. Modern scholars have tried to grasp the incomprehensibility, fluidity, and fuzziness of late antique individuals with their religious practices. One concept is hybridity, adapted from postcolonial theories. Hybridity signifies the third space 34. CTh Trans. Pharr 1952, 473–​474. 35. CTh Trans. Pharr 1952, 474. 36. Guignebert 1923, 65–​102: demi-​chrétiens; Daut 1971, 171–​188: halben Christen; McLynn 2009, 587: part-​ time paganism.

100  People in rhetoric and realities that questions the notion of pure entities such as ‘Christianity’ and ‘paganism’.37 The idea of hybridity resembles the concept of incerti that I once developed to discuss the in-​between individuals who are (n)either pagan (n)or Christians and who simply evade our classifications.38 Even the idea of hybridity entails the idea that there are some entities between which hybrids exist. Consequently, the idea of hybrids may enhance the presupposition of pure entities, rather than deconstructing them. Instead, we should just consider all cultures as eventually involved in each other; consequently, no one culture is single and pure, but all are hybrid, heterogeneous, and unmonolithic. Hybridity is as problematic a concept as syncretism, which implies mixture in contrast to purity.39 The same dilemma occurs with the idea of being in-​between, since one can ask from whose (power) perspective we are looking at the poles and centres between which something else is situated.40 The notion of hybridity and the idea of being in-​between work well only as long as they remain heuristic tools for rethinking and deconstructing fixed categories. The first or last pagans? The self-​p erception of pagans As already noted, those people whom Christian called ‘pagans’ would not have initially interpreted their religious inclination as ‘paganism’ in contrast to Christianity. Greek philosophers certainly conceptualized of and systematized Mediterranean traditions in relation to the complex of Hellenic and barbarian wisdom.41 In competition and interaction with Christians, especially in post-​ Constantinian Roman society, non-​Christians were compelled to reflect on their own beliefs and practices more explicitly. In the fourth century, the Neoplatonic philosopher Iamblichus aimed at presenting Graeco-​Roman religious traditions as a coherent system.42 Consequently, over the course of the fourth century, we can perceive a distinct pagan self-​awareness emerging as a reaction to the altered circumstances. In the construction of their self-​identity as a reaction to the growth of Christian influence, the adherents of old cults revalued the term Hellenes. Emperor Julian’s vision of Hellenism in the 360s was a symptom of this growing pagan self-​understanding. He was a former Christian who (in his own words) was converted to Hellenism. The idea of conversion to Hellenism is an indication 37. Bhabha 2000, 37. On hybridity, see Iricinschi and Zellentin 2008b, 11–​12, 19–​20; Lyman 2003a, 214–​216; Lyman 2003b, 37–​38, 44–​45; Jacobs 2003, 8–​14; Jacobs 2012, 9–​10. 38. Kahlos 2007 with examples. 39. Said 1994, 15–​20; see also Miles 1999, 8.  See Frankfurter 2005, 266 on the problematic concept of syncretism. 40. For a discussion on similar issues with the paths of ancient Jews and Christians, see Boyarin 2004. 41. Van Nuffelen 2011, 89–​109. 42. Iambl. myst. 3.31.179–​180, 10.2. Fowden 2001, 86–​87.

Otherness outside  101 of this growing pagan self-​awareness.43 Confining the meaning of Hellenes to emphasize the religious aspect over the cultural and ethnic aspects, Julian followed the existing trend and exploited the possibilities of this use against educated Christians. It is possible that he emphasized the contrapositive, non-​Christian aspect of Hellenism because he had been raised a Christian. Julian’s edict (the ‘School Edict’) that prohibited Christians from teaching Greek classics implied the identification of adherence to the old religions with devotion to Greek culture and insisted on a distinction between everything Christian and Greek. If Christians refuted Hellenism in the sense of the old cults, they were expected to also give up Greek culture, including literature. For his part, Gregory of Nazianzus complained that Julian wickedly changed the meaning of Hellenes to represent a religion but not a language. In his assault on the emperor, Gregory writes that Julian had lumped together the nuances of the verb hellenizein—​on the one hand the cult, and on the other the ethnos and those who had found the power of the Greek language.44 Despite the fact that this was exactly what many Christian writers had been doing in their use of the term Hellenes, Gregory lays the blame only on Julian. Gregory complained about pagan teachers who were enthusiastic in their intellectual Hellenism, stating that, for Christian students, ‘it is hard to avoid being carried away by their [the pagans gods’] admirers and adherents’. Occasionally this caused tension in the great learned centres of Athens, Alexandria, and Antioch.45 Tensions between Christians and passionate Hellenes led to conspiracies, or at least conspiracy theories, in which some intellectuals were claimed to be secretly planning to restore paganism. In the fifth and sixth centuries, the Neoplatonic philosophers Eunapius of Sardis, Damascius, Proclus, and Marinus knowingly manifested their own forms of Hellenism as well as the Hellenism of their heroes and communities. Damascius wrote Hellenic hagiographies about strong defenders of Hellenism and martyrs who resisted Christian coercion.46

43. Iul. ep. 89a Bidez-​Cumont (=ep. 20 Wright). Hellenismos and Hellenikos in Iul. ep. 84a Bidez-​Cumont (=ep. 22 Wright). Sandwell 2007, 18–​19; Bowersock 1990, 11. North 1992, 188–​189 dates the emergence of pagan self-​ awareness as one religious group among others to as early as the second and third centuries. In my opinion, however, this is a different phenomenon than the self-​conscious effort to defend the pagan tradition as a whole, as seen in Julian’s activities in the fourth century. Simon 1981, 256–​258 interpreted the emergence of ‘pagan theology’ as a kind of mimesis, as a defensive reaction to Christianity. 44. Greg. Naz. or. 4.5.79–​81; 4.103. The short reign of Julian has been regarded as a turning point that either started or intensified the polarization of the pagan and Christian poles which had already begun: see, e.g., Markus 1974, 5–​7, 12–​13; Garnsey 1984, 20–​21. Ironically enough, from this point of view, Julian did polytheists a considerable disservice in polarizing the relations of pagans and Christians even further; as the religious circumstances became more and more exacerbated, pagans’ space was gradually diminished. I am inclined to think that Julian should be perceived as one manifestation of the overall phenomenon rather than the cause. Nevertheless, Julian’s activities functioned as a catalyst in the deterioration of pagan-​Christian relations. 45. Greg. Naz. or. 43.21 (SC 384, 168). Watts 2010, 17–​18; Limberis 2000, 373–​400. 46. Athanassiadi 1993, 1–​29; Haehling 1980, 82–​95; Haehling 1982, 52–​85; Elm 2012, 93–​95, 103–​104; Watts 2010, 55–​57; Penella 1990, 143; Dillon 2007, 120–​121.

102  People in rhetoric and realities This does not mean that all non-​Christian writers made their Hellenism or traditional Roman religion manifest, or gave religion and religious differences a prominent place in their lives. Themistius, Libanius, and Symmachus are illustrative examples of those authors who were prompt to negotiate the status of their traditional religion and find a place in the Christian Empire. The Constantinopolitan philosopher and rhetorician Themistius (317–​388) is well known for his cooperation with subsequent Christian emperors (Constantius II, Jovian, Valens, and Theodosius I) and for his orations in which he advocated religious moderation.47 In his appeals, Themistius reflects the fourth-​century development of pagan self-​perception: he classified the religions of the empire into two religions (ex hekateras threskeias), stating that it was important to keep society stable by striking a balance between them, and that it was the emperor’s duty to maintain the scale in equilibrium. Themistius thus lumped all the non-​ Christian religious traditions into one threskeia.48 Libanius’s vast literary production, including letters and speeches, gives a many-​sided image of the rhetorician’s religious world in Antioch.49 On the one hand, he strongly perceived of himself as a polytheist in contrast to a monotheistic Christian.50 He also sympathized with Emperor Julian as the promoter of the Hellenic cause.51 On the other hand, Libanius was ready to downplay religious differences and set religious issues aside.52 In terms of situational identities, Libanius could activate his religious allegiance in one situation and deactivate it in another. Furthermore, other pagans in Libanius’s correspondence appear as multifaceted and with individual features. In her analysis of Libanius’s letters, Raffaella Cribiore divides his pagan acquaintances into ‘those who supported paganism with some energy’ and those more moderate pagans (‘gray pagans’) for whom ‘paganism was a way of life rather than a cause to sustain’. As a moderate Hellene, Libanius had to cope with both hard-​line pagans and rigorist Christians 47. Them. or. 5–​6. It is perhaps telling that Themistius, the moderate Hellene, did not have good relations with Emperor Julian, the converted militant Hellene. Julian’s address (or. 4 Rochefort = ep. ad Them. Wright) to Themistius has been interpreted as a sarcastic one. On the relations between Julian and Themistius, see Leppin and Portmann 1998, 11–​12; Heather and Moncur 2001, 138–​142; Penella 2000, 3–​6; Vanderspoel 1995, 126–​127. 48. Them. or. 5.69c. When discussing the colourfulness or diversity (poikilia) of the religious traditions in the empire (or. 5.68d–​70a), Themistius refers to three traditions: Greek, Egyptian, and Syrian (meaning Christian). On Themistius’s appeals for moderation, see Garnsey 1984 and Kahlos 2011b, 287–​304. 49. For interpretations of Libanius’s Hellenism, see Cribiore 2013, 132–​181; Sandwell 2007, 91–​98; Sandwell 2010, 533–​539; Stenger 2009; Stenger 2014, 268–​292; Criscuolo 1995, 85–​103; Limberis 2000, 389–​390. 50. In Libanius’s distinction between his Hellenic side and the Christian one, the defining feature seems to have been the worship of many gods and one god, respectively. Libanius never uses the words ‘Christians’ or ‘Christianity’, but refers to them by many other terms (e.g., calling them ‘different’ or ‘other’), even using negative terms such as ‘the impious ones’ (dyssebeis), ‘atheists’ (atheoi) and ‘the polluted ones’ (miaroi). For the variety of Libanius’s terms, see Sandwell 2007, 93–​94. 51. E.g., Liban. or. 17, or. 18 (Epitaphios for Julian), and or. 24. 52. Sandwell 2007, 113 states that ‘religious allegiance could be emphasized when it was necessary’ and ‘it could be pushed into the background if it caused dissension’. Sandwell 2010, 535 calls this ‘ “playing the religious game” in order to achieve the best outcome at any particular moment’; Cribiore 2013, 137–​138 criticizes Sandwell for viewing Libanius as using religion for mere opportunism.

Otherness outside  103 in Antioch. Pagan hard-​liners even criticized him for being passive and compromising with powerful Christians.53 The life of Libanius and his acquaintances—​ Christians, Jews, and pagans—​indicates that the intellectual and aristocratic elites cherished friendships and alliances in all religious camps. One moderate Christian, Eusebius, was a teacher of rhetoric, whom Libanius depicts as a person who ‘in honouring his own way  .  .  .  did not dishonour those who took their oath by Zeus’. Another was Libanius’s close Christian friend Olympius. Libanius was planning to take part in Julian’s sacrificial ceremonies on Mount Casius near Antioch in 362, but he fell ill and sent Olympius in his stead.54 The same applies to Symmachus, whose correspondence shows how the Roman aristocrats, pagans and Christians alike, shared culture, material concerns, and civic ideals that cut across religious differences.55 Symmachus has entered the history books as one of the ‘last pagans’ because of his third relatio, an administrative report that he as the urban prefect of Rome wrote to the emperor in connection with the dispute over the altar of Victoria in 384. Emperor Gratian had the altar of Victoria, the personified deity of victory, removed from the Senate house in Rome. This procedure was linked with his other policies, including the withdrawal of the public subsidies of the traditional Roman cults, the annulation of the economic privileges of the priestly colleges, such as the Vestals, and the confiscation of the revenues of a few temples. Symmachus approached Gratian’s successor Valentinian II with his relatio, in which he appealed for a return of the altar back to the Senate house and for the continuation of imperial support of the traditional Roman cults and the privileges that Roman priests enjoyed.56 Modern scholars have highlighted the controversy over the altar of Victoria as one of the most important ancient appeals for religious tolerance. It was certainly an appeal for the recognition of traditional Roman cults by the Roman emperors. However, Ambrose and, later, the Christian poet Prudentius used the altar to polarize opposition between the old religion and Christianity, creating an issue of faith for Christian rulers—​Ambrose by publishing two letters in reply to Symmachus, and Prudentius by composing an entire work against Symmachus’s petition, thus portraying Symmachus as a pagan champion. The dispute probably tells us more about Christian passions than Symmachus’s pagan

53. Cribiore 2013, 23; also 133, 156–​159, 166–​180; Criscuolo 1995, 85; Bradbury 2004, 199–​200. We encounter Libanius (ep. 1376 Foerster =ep. 107 Norman), for example, appealing for a Christian who was accused of having burned the temple of Apollo in Daphne. 54. Olympius: Liban. ep. 739 Foerster = ep. 43 Bradbury; Eusebius: Liban. ep. 1411.3 Foerster = trans. ep. 98.3 Bradbury. On Libanius as living between worlds, see Cribiore 2013, 160–​179 with examples; on Olympius, see Cribiore 2013, 144–​145, 190. 55. For Symmachus’s correspondence, see Salzman 2010, 247–​272. 56. Gratian’s order on subsidies and revenues has not been preserved, but CTh 16.10.20 issued by Honorius in 415 refers to it. For the controversy over the altar, see Klein 1972; Canfora 1991, 23–​139; Chenault 2015, 46–​63; see also the chapters in Paschoud 1986.

104  People in rhetoric and realities sentiments. Symmachus may not have regarded himself as a great defender of the pagan cause. Alan Cameron argues that Symmachus was not speaking straightforwardly on his own behalf, but repeating the more philosophical arguments of those who had him as their mouthpiece. Be that as it may, Symmachus does not elsewhere show passionate attitudes about the restoration of the altar of Victoria or the privileges of Vestals.57 Symmachus’s fellow senator Vettius Agorius Praetextatus (c. 320–​384) was one of the renowned ‘last pagans’. Praetextatus’s funerary inscriptions reveal not only his civic offices, but also his cultic achievements, both Roman priesthoods (augur, pontifex Vestae, pontifex Solis, quindecemvir sacris faciundis, curialis Herculis) and initiations in the mystery cults (tauroboliatus, neocorus, sacratus Libero et Eleusinis, pater patrum).58 The funerary poem in CIL VI 1779 tells us that Praetextatus worshipped the divum numen multiplex, a universal divinity, which modern scholars have sometimes interpreted as the Neoplatonic Intellect (Nous).59 Praetextatus was not the only Roman aristocrat who accumulated priesthoods and initiations, as several inscriptions testify that other pagan senators also collected them. Priesthoods and initiations in pagan cults, as well as public appearances in religious celebrations, formed a part of the aristocratic way of life. With their religious titles, fourth-​century Roman senators demonstrated that they belonged to the well-​to-​do club of the aristocracy. These activities of the Roman aristocracy indicate pagan self-​perception.60 However, they hardly represented any anti-​Christian ‘pagan revival’, as a number of modern scholars have interpreted them in past decades.61

57. The controversy may not have even been as great an incident as it appears in modern scholarship; Alan Cameron 2011, 38–​40; McLynn 1994, 166–​167. Brown 2012, 101–​102, who calls Symmachus the ‘first pagan’, states that in the dispute, the significance of religion was not important. Perceiving Symmachus only as one of the ‘last great pagans’ would be misleading. For an updated analysis of Symmachus as a landowner and political figure, see Sogno 2006. 58. CIL VI 1778–​1779. For Praetextatus’s religious, literary, and philosophical activities, see Kahlos 2002, 50–​150. 59. For the funerary poem in CIL VI 1779, see Polara 2000, 107–​126; Polara 1967, 264–​289; Kahlos 2002, 172–​178. 60. For the pagan aristocrats, see Iara 2015, 165–​214; Salzman 2002, 61–​68. For an analysis of the last pagan generation of Praetextatus, Libanius, Themistius, and Ausonius, see Watts 2015. 61. The idea of the ‘pagan revival’ was enhanced especially by Alföldi 1948 and Bloch 1945. See the Introduction on the lure of melodramas.


Deviance or otherness inside: Construing heretics


rom the viewpoint of a modern observer, in Late Antiquity there simply existed many Christianities. For the ancient Christian, there were differences and disagreements that in internecine Christian struggles were taken as deviance and heresy. Heresy and orthodoxy are relational concepts, which means that they are always defined and understood in relation to one another. There is not one without the other. The notion of orthodoxy presupposes that there is something such as a true doctrine (usually one’s own), and this presupposition implies that other views are false, being either deviances or heresies.1 Mapping normativity and deviance reveals more about the concerns of the communities making these judgments about deviants—​in Late Antiquity, ecclesiastical leaders and councils defining heresies—​than deviants themselves.2 Definitions of heresy and orthodoxy are never natural, ahistorical, or stable ontological categories, but context-​specific categories that are continuously negotiated. Defining and instituting orthodoxy and heresy is always an issue of power. There is usually an authoritative institutional apparatus—​in Late Antiquity, ecclesiastical councils and imperial legislation—​that aims at identifying and managing heretics. Those who have power have the capacity to label others as heretics, and making labels can be utilized as a tool to secure power.3 Orthodoxy and deviance are shaped in social interaction, and therefore naming groups as heretical involves labelling rather than simply reporting on observable realities. Correspondingly, beliefs, rituals, and individuals are not heretical as such. In fact, deviance implies that in a community there are some accepted standards or 1. Wilson 2002, 441–​456; Barclay 1995, 114–​127; Windon 2007, 462–​463; Berlinerbau 2001, 331, 335. As Boyarin 2004, 3 states, orthodoxy and heresy ‘come into the world of discourse together’ and are ‘notions that must always be defined in each other’s context’. For understanding Christian diversity in Antiquity, Burrus 2014, 10 proposes the model of rhizomatic reproduction, instead of singularity and linearity. Van Dam 2007b, 266–​267 suggests that instead of timeless teleology, late antique Christianity, theological doctrines included, ought to be studied as cultural systems in the Geertzian sense, like other religions, as historically transmitted patterns of meanings embodied in symbols. 2. Lyman 1993, 46–​47. 3. Orthodoxy possesses the true doctrine or belief; by definition, everything else is relegated to the realm of falsehood. Therefore, as Averil Cameron 2008, 111, 106 points out, it ‘is not benign; it entails demarcation and condemnation’, and because religious orthodoxy aims at unity and unanimity, it ‘of its nature seeks to suppress or deny difference’.

Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450. Maijastina Kahlos. Oxford University Press (2020). © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190067250.001.0001

106  People in rhetoric and realities norms from which an individual or a group deviates, even though these norms are not always clearly spoken, as was the case in the Graeco-​Roman religious world. The binary opposition of orthodoxy/​heresy functions as the marker in boundary-​making and maintenance between religious communities. The definitions of orthodoxy/​heresy were part of power struggles within religious communities and in relation to other communities. Therefore, in the battle for authority and influence, the language of theological definitions was the language of power.4 The making of heresies—​a nd orthodoxy In late antique Christianity, several ecclesiastical councils made attempts to define orthodoxy. As Karen King points out, the great variety and differences of Christian communities were settled ‘into the tidy, bifurcating mode of orthodoxy and heresy, right and wrong, true and false’. The discourse of orthodoxy and heresy became the master narrative of Christian origins and development, according to which the original truth had been conveyed in a direct chain from the apostles and their successors to the bishops of the one true Church, but this original truth was later corrupted by heresy.5 Therefore, orthodoxy and heresy are best seen as a process in which different ecclesiastical authorities, councils, and bishops set and policed the boundaries of the norm and the deviant. Furthermore, Caroline Humfress argues that Roman forensic expertise contributed to the exacerbation of Christian disputes of the true and false doctrine. An immense body of laws was issued against specifically named Christian heretics from the fourth to the sixth centuries, defining and categorizing heretical groups and establishing penalties. In this way, heresy was a theoretical legal concept, but along with forensic practices it also became a lived reality.6 This lived reality of heresies does not mean that all the characterizations, classifications, and naming of Christian groups as heretical would have been simple reports on observable realities. In ­chapter 2, in the case of Eunomians, we saw how fluid definitions in imperial decision-​making could be: the status of the Eunomians was altered according to the changing power climate. On the one hand, church leaders reduced the variety of rival Christian groups to a single collective term: ‘heretics’. This was a helpful rhetorical instrument in strengthening one’s own interpretation (‘orthodoxy’), and in condemning and

4. On the construction of heresy and orthodoxy, see, e.g., the chapters in Elm, Rebillard, and Romano 2000; Averil Cameron 2003, 471–​492; Iricinschi and Zellentin 2008b, 1–​27; Averil Cameron 2008, 102–​114; Brakke 2010, 7. 5. King 2008, 67; Ayres and Radde-​Gallwitz 2008, 865. On the discursive institution of orthodoxy, see Boyarin and Burrus 2005, 431–​441; Le Boulluec 1985; Le Boulluec 2000, 303–​319; Burrus 1995, 171 n. 50. See also Burrus 2000, 356 on the disciplinary processes that enforce conformity and effect exclusion from the community. 6. Rebillard 2000, 225–​226. On the process of constructing orthodoxy and heresy in the legal context, see Humfress 2007b, 217–​268.

Deviance or otherness inside  107 then excluding all the rival views at a single stroke. On the other hand, councils and legislators seem to have been almost obsessed in their care in naming, listing, and classifying specific heretical inclinations. This relates to the all-​encompassing scheme of knowledge developed by late antique Christians. Ecclesiastical writers such as Epiphanius of Salamis (Panarion), Philastrius of Brescia (De haeresibus), Augustine (De haeresibus in 428), Theodoret of Cyrrhus (Haereticorum fabularum compendium), the anonymous Praedestinatus (in 432), and Gennadius of Marseilles (Adversus omnes haereses in the fifth century) created extensive classifications and historical systems in their handbooks on heretics.7 With his extensive catalogues and classifications, Epiphanius has been compared to a botanist who records and systematizes new and exotic plants.8 Classifications were eager attempts to stabilize unstable reality and to fit new phenomena into already existing categories. Classifications were also statements of institutional power on the part of the ecclesiastical leaders. They were new relational webs of knowledge and power in which the deviant others could be ‘known’ and, as a result, controlled.9 Christian heresiologists continued the ancient tradition of medical literature and genealogies of philosophical schools. Irenaeus, Justin, and, later on, Eusebius had contributed to an understanding of heresies in the genealogies of heretical schools (in a manner similar to the Greek philosophical schools); consequently, every new deviance could be classified as the successor of an earlier heresy. Similar to the chain of Platonic tradition or the chain of apostolic succession, heretics were also claimed to have their own succession of teachers, albeit false ones.10 Consequently, in modern research, deviance is not understood as an act as such, but rather as a response to this act. The shift of focus is in the construction of deviance and in the role of those—​namely, the social audience—​who create it. Deviance is a violation of norms. Nothing or nobody deviates in a social vacuum; thus, an act or an individual (or a doctrine) is not deviant in itself but becomes deviant as other people respond by labelling it deviant. In the modern theory of deviance, it is also seen as an important part in the identity-​building of groups, institutions, and communities. Deviants are necessary because the identities of groups are based on the idea of uniqueness, singularity, and distinctiveness from others. If there are no real great differences—​at least to an outside observer—​any slight variations are seen to be construed as differences between groups. Groups tend to be particularly hostile to those deviants who, being proximate others, are

7. On late antique heresiology, see Inglebert 2001, 393–​461; Shaw 2006, 181–​183, 196; Flower 2011, 70–​87. 8. Cohen 2014, 41. For Epiphanius, see Jacobs 2003, 44–​55; Jacobs 2016; Kim 2010, 382–​413; Kim 2015, 13–​21, 173–​203; Lyman 2000, 154–​155. On Theodoret, see Sillett 2000, 261–​273. 9. Lyman 1993, 46–​47; Jacobs 2003, 24–​26. 10. Lyman 2007, 297–​299; Lyman 1993, 46–​47. On the genealogies of the Greek philosophical schools, see Boys-​Stones 2001, and on the genealogies of heresies, see Kim 2010, 393–​400, esp. on Epiphanius’s method of making retrospective links between Arius and the older genealogy of heresiarchs.

108  People in rhetoric and realities not necessarily far removed in their beliefs, rituals, or doctrines.11 This explains the greatest enmity shown towards those groups that resembled mainstream Christianity. Those who were outsiders (e.g., pagans) were not seen as posing as great a threat as proximate others (i.e., heretics). This is evident from the vast bulk of council acts and imperial laws, which deal much more with heresies than with paganism. In the fourth and fifth centuries, condemnations of heretics became increasingly formulaic. The anathemas of the church councils became almost a routine of rituals used to separate and exorcise defiling elements from the community. The falseness of theological opponents was taken for granted; the idea that one’s rival was a heretic was established as a norm.12 Details of doctrine were the subject of arguments. Late antique Christians were aware that even though they labelled rival groups as heretics, from the point of view of their competitors, they were the heretical ones. One of the writers to articulate this was Salvian of Marseilles, who made a rather radical re-​evaluation of orthodox Romans, whom he chastised, and heretical barbarians, whom he portrayed as morally superior. Nicene Romans possessed the true doctrine, while Arian barbarians were in error, but that was not everything. In the long run, barbarians did better. The portrait of morally superior barbarians was part of Salvian’s agenda in On the Government of God to argue for God’s judgement and providence. In his mind, divine judgement was the consequence of the failure of most Christians to live according to God’s will. As theological pagans, ‘Arian barbarians’ functioned as the mirror for Salvian’s rebuke. One may ask whether the morality of the heretical barbarians was less important here than the wickedness of the Nicene Romans, who are reprimanded in the text. After all, the heresy originated with the Romans and thence came to the barbarians; as Salvian writes, the heresy of the barbarians ‘flowed from the wickedness of Roman teaching’.13 Nonetheless, Salvian’s reproaches have a certain sense of the relativity of heresy: [T]‌hey are heretics without knowing it. They seem heretics to us, but not to themselves. They consider themselves so much to be catholic that they accuse us with the name of heretics. What they are to us, therefore, we are to them.14 In the internecine disputes, Christian writers typically refused to call their rivals Christians, but instead applied labels to other Christian sects, such as ‘idol-​worshippers’, ‘Jews’, ‘Judaisers’, ‘Manichaeans’, and magicians. ‘Manichaean’ was frequently used as an abusive term to discredit a theological opponent. 11. The classical theory of deviance was developed by Becker 1973 (1963). Becker’s theory still has relevance in the research of heresy. See Lehtipuu 2013, 171–​174 with bibliography. 12. Cohen 2014, 40. 13. Salvian. gub. 5.14. On Salvian, see Lambert 1999, 115–​130; Lambert 2000, 103–​115; Maas 1992, 275–​284. 14. Salvian. gub. 5.9.

Deviance or otherness inside  109 Important figures such as Priscillian, Ambrose, Augustine, and Jerome were all denigrated as Manichaeans.15 Ecclesiastical writers often named the rival groups after their leading figures; thus, they were called followers of Arius, Nestorius, Eunomius, and so forth, rather than real Christians. This kind of alienation outside the Christian community is apparent in the imperial legislation in which the Christian mainstream was defined as the catholic Christianity, while other Christian inclinations were categorized as un-​Christian. Athanasius made it clear that ‘Arians’ were not Christians: [D]‌arkness is not light nor falsehood truth nor Arianism good; those who call these people Christians are in great error.16 Likewise, in his ecclesiastical power struggles, Ambrose argued that by repudiating his newly found martyrs’ value as real martyrs, Arians showed that they were not only bad Christians, but actually belonged to another faith altogether and, accordingly, another lineage: Arians demonstrate that the martyrs were of another faith than that which they themselves believe in . . . they do not have the faith which was in the martyrs, that faith confirmed by the tradition of our forefathers.17 Thus, martyrs were not only important for enhancing the coherence of the community to which they belonged, but they also served as a powerful tool in the mutual Christian disputes about who were genuine Christians and who were false. This is perceptible in Augustine’s preaching against the Donatist martyrs. He warns about false martyrs, whom the Donatists claim to be true ones: as the Devil could no longer make false gods for Christians, he made false martyrs. This was the Devil’s trick of mixing venomous deceit with true piety; thus, Christians were warned not to be betrayed by things ‘similar in appearance’. A law of 379 declared that heretics were not Christians, even though they used the same terms for their prelates as real Christians.18 In a similar vein, Basil of Caesarea sets heresies as alien to the Christian community. He defines heretics as those who ‘are entirely separate and alien to the faith’, and thus beyond all hope of salvation. Epiphanius states that Elchasaites were neither Christians nor Jews nor Greeks, but something between these and, accordingly, actually nothing at all. An even more extreme form of alienation is Athanasius’s comparison of heretics with the deceased.19 15. Jerome (ep. 22.13) stated that anyone who had become pale from fasting could be labelled Manichaean. On the brush of Manichaeanism, see Hunter 2007, 29–​30, 130–​146; Hunter 2003, 457–​459; Lyman 1993, 48–​60; Cohen 2014, 233–​242. 16. Athan. or. c. Arian 1.1. 17. Ambr. ep. 77.19 (=ep. 22.19 Maur.), CSEL 82.1, 138. Trans. Sizgorich 2009, 60–​61. 18. Aug. oboed. 13, 16. CTh 16.5.5 (in 379). For ‘Christian’ as an appellation reserved only for the orthodox, see Lyman 2007, 302. 19. Basil. ep. 188.1. Epiphan. pan. 53.1.3. Athan. ep. 39.2.

110  People in rhetoric and realities Paradoxically, the heretic was both alien, excluded outside Christendom, and an insider, who brought destruction into the Christian community. The heretic was an internal enemy who tried to destroy the true church from the inside.20 Heretics were characterized as internal poison or snakes and scorpions lurking within Christian communities. According to a common view, heresies were a cunning device of the Devil, who, after failing to destroy the church during the persecution, attempted to tear it down in a more intricate way by leading it into confusion through heresies. Making reference to his arch-​rival Nestorius, Cyril of Alexandria states that Satan is confusing all things, raging against the churches of God and attempting to seduce people from the right path of faith.21 During the Jovinianist controversy, Siricius, the bishop of Rome, labelled Jovinian’s group as deviant. His description includes virtually all of the significant features of what heresy was thought to be, ranging from devastation of the true mainstream to distortion and deceit, from seduction into diabolical alliance to the risk of getting many followers and folly: Wounding catholics, perverting the continence of the Old and New Testament, interpreting it in a diabolical sense, by their seductive and deceitful speech they have begun to destroy no small number of Christians and to make them allies of their own insanity.22 In a way similar to seeing all non-​Christians as a single group of pagans, ecclesiastical writers lumped their opponents into a single bundle. Creating a fixed enemy was also a method of propaganda. Thus, a single enemy was manifold and changing, like the primeval monster Hydra, as depicted by Athanasius: Heretics show no shame, but as the Hydra of the gentile fable when its former serpents were destroyed gave birth to fresh ones, contending against the slayer of the old by the production of the new, so also are they hostile and hateful to God.23 A similar image was conveyed by imperial legislation, as a law from 423 states that heretical errors had ‘different names, but the same perfidy’ (quibus cunctis diversa sunt nomina, sed una perfidia).24 Treating rival positions as a single set of heresies also offered an ecclesiastical writer a convenient and already tested supply of weapons—​connotations and arguments that could be brought to bear on one’s new opponents. This was an efficient rhetorical weapon because 2 0. E.g., Photinus and Eunomius; see Elm 2012, 228. 21. Cyr. Alex. ep. 11.1 (ACO 1.1.5). On the idea of the Devil destroying the church through heresies, see Theodoret. eccl. 1.1 and Pallad. dial. 20.579–​584 (SC 341, 444–​445), according to whom the Devil infuriated the ambitious leaders of the church to mutual rivalry and to tear the church asunder. 22. Siric. ep. 7.4. Trans. Hunter 2003, 453. 23. Athan. or. c. Arian. 3.58. 24. CTh 16.5.60.

Deviance or otherness inside  111 the writer could collect all of the various rival views into the same category and employ them against the target with one stroke. Furthermore, the writer could employ reductio ad haeresim, the rhetorical technique by means of which a theological rival is discredited by connecting him to a renowned heresy that has already been condemned. For example, Jerome replied to accusations of heresy with counterattacks, comparing Jovinian with Basilides, one of the most well-​ known heretics of earlier centuries. Basilides has transmigrated into Jovinian, Jerome announces. Regarding his other opponent, Vigilantius, Jerome connects him with several renowned heresies and argues that Vigilantius cannot boast of having created a new crime.25 Athanasius had once successfully crushed Arius, and by associating Nestorius with Arius, Cyril of Alexandria could do the same to his opponent. Nestorius eventually developed into an archetypal heretic, just like Arius before him.26 It is worth noting that associating an opponent with an already condemned heresy was not merely a rhetorical strategy, but it also had legal consequences, as most of the heresies denounced by church councils were also criminalized in imperial legislation.27 Next, I will take three heresies as examples of the late antique construction of deviance within Christianity. ‘Arianism’ here represents the mechanisms by which doctrinal disagreements were deduced into a fundamental heresy. ‘Donatism’ stands for local disagreements that ecclesiastical leaders at first categorized as a schism but later defined as a heresy. ‘Pelagianism’ exemplifies the competition for resources between Christian groups and thus introduces social and economic dimensions into the discussion on religious dissent. Making Arians The phenomenon called ‘Arianism’ illustrates in a revealing way the continuous and fluctuating construction of heresy—​and orthodoxy, as well. Throughout the fourth century, bitter controversies over the definitions of the divinity and the relationship between God the Father and God the Son dominated ecclesiastical life. This was ‘an age which was producing new creeds with bewildering rapidity’.28 As scholars of doctrinal disputes have stressed in recent decades, there emerged a wide range of doctrinal positions that in the heat of the disputes were reduced to the single rhetorical construction of ‘Arianism’. In polemics for centuries, and in modern scholarship until recently, the concept of Arianism was used 25. Hier. c. Iov. 2.37; c. Vigil.  6–​8. 26. E.g., Cyr. Alex. ep. 1.7, 1.15 (ACO 1.1.1, 10–​23); hom. 4 (ACO 1.1.2, 104); or. ad Theod. imp. (ACO 1.1.1, 79); apol. ad Theod. imp. (ACO 1.1.3, 89). For the polemical construction of Arius as the arch-​heretic, see Lyman 1993, 45–​62. On Cyril’s strategies, see Wessel 2004, 189, 263–​264, 302. 27. E.g., Arianism had been forbidden as a heresy in CTh (in 381) and 16.5.8 (in 381). 28. D. H. Williams 1996, 341. Ayres 2004, 3 specifies the controversies as debates about the generation of the Word or the Son from the Father and debates about the ‘grammar’ of human speech about the divine. For a concise review of the disputes, see Heil 2014, 88–​99; Brennecke 2014b, 1–​19; Brennecke 1988, 1–​4.

112  People in rhetoric and realities as an imprecise but convenient blanket term to cover a wide spectrum of beliefs. However, there never really was an Arianism as a theological school, programme, or conspiracy, except as a product of rival polemical attacks and as a category of secular and ecclesiastical authorities. As Lewis Ayres remarks, ‘such heresiological labels enabled early theologians and ecclesiastical historians to portray theologians to whom they were opposed as distinct and coherent groups and they enabled writers to tar enemies with the name of a figure already in disrepute’.29 The figure in disrepute here was Arius of Alexandria, whose ideas of divinity were condemned at the Council of Nicaea in 325.30 The creed that was publicized in Nicaea was not intended as any binding or universal formulation of faith. It was only afterwards, in the course of the fourth and fifth centuries, that this Council of Nicaea with its canons gradually became seen as an authoritative gathering. Athanasius of Alexandria, Hilary of Poitiers, and their ilk contributed to the construction of Nicaea as the holy assembly with an inspired and unalterable creed. At the same time, they fashioned the monster ‘Arianism’.31 The decisive point in both the development of the label ‘Arian’ and the cementation of the Council of Nicaea was the Council of Constantinople in 381, convened by Theodosius I, which reaffirmed and refined the judgement of the Council of Nicaea.32 For those who opposed the decisions made in Nicaea, the figure of Arius himself was never central. In fact, we do not have much evidence of late antique thinkers dependent on Arius’s theology. Instead, there were different theological interpretations, and the followers of these views saw their stand in terms of true orthodoxy.33 This is why many scholars have recently preferred abandoning the term ‘Arian’ when speaking of the variety of theological views in the fourth and fifth centuries. Some scholars, including myself throughout this book, use the term ‘Homoian’, even though it is not unproblematic either. The use of that single term is again a violent simplification of the diversity and fluidity of religious views.34 29. Ayres 2004, 2.  Heresiological categories such as ‘semi-​Arian’ and ‘neo-​Arian’ also appeared during the doctrinal disputes. As Hen 2015, 311–​312 points out, Arianism meant different things to different people, and to approach it as a coherent Christian phenomenon distorts the complex reality. Modern research has suffered from ‘Nicene myopia’, meaning that questions and perspectives have arisen from the hostile Nicene sources. 30. Recent research on the doctrinal disputes perceives the ‘Arian’ controversy as mainly igniting already pre-​ existing tensions: see Behr 2004a, 238; Ayres 2004, 20. 31. For Athanasius’ construction of the ‘Ariomaniacs’ led by Eusebius of Nicomedia, especially in his Orations against the Arians, see Gwynn 2007, 52–​55; Ayres 2004, 105–​117; Van Dam 2007b, 275–​277. 32. Gwynn 2010, 230; Behr 2004b, 370–​379; Lyman 2008, 237–​257. As Ayres 2004, 85–​99 shows, the idea of a binding and universal standard of faith was unheard of at the time of Nicaea, since it only evolved during the fourth century. 33. Ayres 2004, 2–​3, 138–​150; Wiles 1996, esp. 5–​9; see also Gwynn 2010, 232; Lyman 1993, 45–​62; Ward-​ Perkins 2010, 265. What was shared to varying degrees in these views was the conception of the Trinity, and especially the relationship between God the Father and God the Son, in which the Son was different in nature than God the Father, and a somewhat subordinate power. 34. On the terms, see Heil 2014, 85–​86; Gwynn 2007, 6–​8; Flower 2013a, 15. The same problems concern the terms ‘neo-​Arians’ or rather Anomoians, or better Heterousians; or ‘semi-​Arians’ or rather Homoiousians; see Ayres 2004, 145, 150.

Deviance or otherness inside  113 Using the term ‘Nicene’, especially for the decades immediately after the Council of Nicaea, is also somewhat misleading, since the Council of Nicaea as a defining benchmark of orthodoxy was created only thereafter. The term ‘pro-​ Nicene’ refers to the wide variety of theologies that used arguments to defend the Council of Nicaea. Furthermore, it is worth remembering that we should not take the Nicenes or pro-​Nicenes as a collective entity either, as they were divided and mutually competitive as well.35 Both classifications (‘Nicene’ vs. ‘Homoian’) assume a uniformity of theological views that did not exist in the fourth century. One of the individuals who escapes the ‘Arian’ typologies is Germinius of Sirmium (d. 375/​376). He is conventionally labelled as Arian and then depicted as having suddenly changed his camp to Nicene theology. D. H. Williams argues that Germinius did not disavow his earlier theological roots that were expressed in the creeds of the Councils of Sirmium in 351 and 359, even though he was later known to have modified his views. Germinius was not the only person (in Williams’s words) to be ‘neither “round” nor “square” ’, as defined by the conventional typologies.36 These simple taxonomies nonetheless served polemical purposes in the ecclesiastical struggles. Similarly to the label ‘pagan’, the term ‘Arian’ became an invective hurled at almost any theological opponent. Ambrose used this brush of Arianism successfully when painting his ecclesiastical rivals in Italy.37 Like other heretics, Arians were the target of manifold forms of denigration in intra-​ Christian polemic. The writer of an anonymous Life of Constantine, for example, attacked their ‘vain and diabolic imaginings’ and called them ‘mad and senseless people’. Theodoret depicted Arius as executing the well-​laid plans of the Devil. Arians were wolves in sheep’s clothing, as well as wild boars and leopards.38 Quodvultdeus (d. 453), the bishop of Carthage, describes his own (‘catholic’) church as the legitimate bride of Christ and the Arians only as the concubine. The true bride has the matrimonial contract and ‘possesses everything that she received from her husband as a dowry’. But it was said that while the true church for a time would suffer insult from the Arian heresy, like the wife from the concubine, in the end only the children of the legitimate wife will be freeborn and heirs, and the sons of the servant girl will be expelled. Quodvultdeus’s ‘catholic’ teaching represents the whole world, while the heresy condemns the Arians into a corner.39 35. For the diversity of pro-​Nicene theologies, see Ayres 2004, 139–​140, 235–​239; D.  H. Williams 1996, 335–​338. 36. In the Collectanea Antiariana Parisina (Fragmenta Historica) of Hilary of Poitiers, document A.III (CSEL 65, 47–​48), Germinius’s letter is titled as Incipit epistula Germini episcopi adversus Arrianos, [qui] iam subscripserant in Concilio Ariminensi scientes, quod male fecerunt. D. H. Williams 1996, 356. 37. Wiles 1996, 36–​37; Brown 2012, 50. See Gwynn 2010, 254 on how Ambrose labelled his rivals as Arians. 38. Anon. Vita Constantini (Bibliotheca hagiographica Graeca 364 c.18). Theodoret. eccl. 1.2.5–​12. On the denigration of Arians, see Lieu and Montserrat 1996, 151–​152. 39. Quodv. symb. 3.13.2–​5, 3.9.9. Trans. Finn 2004.

114  People in rhetoric and realities Making Donatists The issue of ‘Donatism’ was regional, being confined almost entirely to North Africa. As is well known, the Donatist disputes were rooted in the Tetrarchic persecution and its aftermath. Both Caecilianists and Donatists regarded themselves as the true catholic church.40 What had first been a schism between competing groups grew into a struggle for the status of orthodoxy and the condemnation of the other as a heresy. The Caecilianists obtained imperial support from Constantine onwards, and, finally, the status of the Donatists was even altered from that of a schism into a heresy. This led to alienation in legislation, as the Donatists were proclaimed by successive laws to be heretics.41 Brent Shaw shows how the local majority of North African Christians were marginalized into an illicit deviance; the systematic use of the label ‘Donatists’ was part of the strategy.42 One of the most prominent Caecilianists to hammer the Donatists down, both in writings and ecclesiastical politics, was Augustine. He was also an influential architect of the Council of Carthage in 411, in which he was guaranteed the support of the imperial officers, such as the tribunus et notarius Marcellinus. The Donatist bishops were forced to take part.43 Augustine dedicated much of his episcopal career to debates with Donatist bishops. In 418 in Caesarea (the modern Cherchel), he engaged the local Donatist bishop Emeritus in a public debate. However, the debate turns into Augustine’s monologue; Emeritus keeps silent, and the only words he utters are, ‘I cannot resist what you want, but I can still wish what I want’ (Non possum nolle quod vultis, sed possum velle quod volo). As Erika Hermanowicz remarks, Emeritus’s silence is far from a tacit submission, but rather a determined statement of his own beliefs. From the viewpoint of the Caecilianist Augustine and the secular authorities supporting him, this is stubborn resistance.44 Augustine portrayed these debates as attempts to reach mutual understanding, but from the perspective of the Donatists, they were organized only for show. In another meeting with Emeritus, Augustine stressed that there were no authorities to press in the debate, only the truth, even though Emeritus claimed that he had been defeated by force. Emeritus simply replied, ‘The acts

40. For the problems with the term ‘Donatism’, see Shaw 1992, 7–​14, where the term ‘African Christianity’ is preferred. Shaw 2011 uses the term ‘dissidents’. I choose the term ‘Donatists’ for these traditional African Christians in order to make the text easier for modern readers to follow; compare Gaddis 2005, 104 n. 6. I call the Christians of Augustine’s side (conventionally named ‘Catholics’) Caecilianists, based on the name of their most prominent bishop in Carthage, Caecilianus. 41. For brief accounts on the conflict, see Tilley 1996, xi–​xvii and Lenski 2016, 102–​118. On the legislation, see CTh 16.5.37–​38, 16.6.4–​5, 16.11.2, all in 405. On baptism and the Donatist schism, see Burns and Jensen 2014, 195–​201. 42. Shaw 1992, 16–​33. On the application of the laws in reality, see Marone 2015, 78–​84. 43. For the acts of the Council of Carthage, see Gesta Conl. Carth. in CCSL 149A and Lancel 1972, 1975 (SC 195, 274); Weidmann 2015, 85–​100. 44. Aug. sermo ad Caesariensis ecclesiae plebem 1. Hermanowicz 2008, 50; also O’Donnell 2005, 256–​258.

Deviance or otherness inside  115 will show if I was conquered or if I won, and if I was conquered by the truth or if I was oppressed by force’.45 Caecilianists such as Augustine—​with imperial backing—​emphasized the unity of Christianity. For their part, the Donatists denounced the notion of unity as diabolical:  in the anonymous Sermon on the Passion of Saints Donatus and Advocatus, it was stated that it was the Devil who claimed that Christ is a lover of unity.46 The negative stance of the Donatists is understandable in the face of the coercive legislation that aimed at unifying North African Christians (e.g., in the so-​called Edict of Union of 405).47 Caecilianist sources, first and foremost Augustine in his sermons and letters, reported violence on the part of the Donatists. Augustine accused the Donatists of brutally harassing Caecilianist communities and forcing people to convert to their side and be rebaptized.48 Augustine presented the Donatists as involved in the rebellions led by Firmus and Gildo, thus characterizing his rivals as a treasonous sect and a danger to legitimate Roman rule. His charges of violence often came as counter-​accusations against the Donatists’ lamentations of being persecuted by Caecilianists with state support.49 Augustine was keen to reply with counter-​accusations to the typical Donatist allegations of traditio, the sacrilege of betraying the Christian holy scriptures to the Roman authorities during the Tetrarchic persecution. He composed Psalm against the Donatists, in which he hurled the charge back and claimed that it was the Donatists who were in league with the Devil and sought to accuse others for the crime they themselves had committed: ‘They handed over the Scriptures and they dare to accuse us.’50 This does not mean that North African ecclesiastical life was only conflict and dispute. Augustine tells us about a relatively peaceful period in the 370s, during which Donatists and Caecilianists lived in the same households and were able to discuss their differences. Furthermore, the two groups were prone to negotiate with each other, bringing their disagreements to Augustine, then a presbyter, to be settled. Augustine’s account here serves his rhetorical purposes, of course, and one can also doubt whether the relations were so eirenic, but it does indicate that groups that were hostile to each other could also set aside their disagreements.51 In schools and neighbourhoods, young people studied and played together. Donatists could participate in the church services of Caecilianists. Augustine 45. Aug. De gestis cum Emerito Donatistarum episcopo 3. 46. Sermo de passione SS. Donati et Advocati 3 (PL 8, 754): ‘Christus’, inquit [diabolus], ‘amator unitatis est, unitas igitur fiat’. Trans. Tilley 1996, 54–​55. 47. CTh 16.6.4. On this edict, see Escribano Paño 2013, 115. 48. Aug. c. litt. Petil. 1.10.11 (CSEL 52, 11); c. Cresc. 4.25.32 (CSEL 52, 530). 49. Aug. c. litt. Petil. 2.83.184 (CSEL 52, 112–​114); c. ep. Parm. 2.2.4 (CSEL 51, 47). On Augustine’s strategy, see Shaw 2011, 46–​61. 50. Aug. Psalmus contra partem Donati v.  24–​26:  Diabolo se tradiderunt, cum pugnant de traditione/​et crimen quod commiserunt, in alios volunt transferre./​Ipsi tradiderunt Libros et nos audent accusare. Shaw 2011, 78–​81, 100–​101. 51. Aug. ep. 35.2, 33.5.

116  People in rhetoric and realities also reports how a Donatist could greet a Caecilianist, saying, ‘You would be a good fellow, if you were not a traditor. Think things over, man, and become a Christian.’52 While this was the attitude of the Donatists, as a Caecilianist Augustine stated that a Donatist surpassed even a pagan in impiety. In another instance, he stated they were worse than barbarians. Augustine also ridiculed the Donatists for tolerating mockery against Christ better than against their Donatus.53 The power relations between Donatists and Caecilianists in North Africa are still debated in scholarship. It is unclear when the Caecilianists attained the upper hand (if at all) and when the Donatists started fading away—​at the eve of the Vandal expansion or even the arrival of the Arabs.54 After the Vandal conquest, the Donatists fade away from the focus of our sources, while the issue of ‘Arianism’ dominates the surviving literature from the period. This does not mean that Donatists would have disappeared from social reality, however.55 Making Pelagians Pelagianism was usually used as a blanket term for various, more or less individual views on original sin, baptism, predestination, free will, and divine grace that the writer himself disapproved of. The authors of these ‘Pelagian’ views—​Pelagius, Caelestius, Julian of Eclanum, and some anonymous writers of treatises—​did not necessarily represent any unified movement or tradition. As the main opponent of Pelagians, Augustine represented their views in ‘a concise and pointed summary’, making a simplification for his polemical ends. Thus, Pelagianism as a consistent system of doctrine should be seen only as his construction of the opponents.56 But from the perspective of mainstream ecclesiastical leaders, it was easy to see the arguments as similar, and it was convenient to lump the opponents into the same bag. Writers who challenged Augustine’s views on predestination and free will were almost automatically branded Pelagians.57 In the Pelagian controversies, many important theological issues were at stake—​basic human questions, original sin, baptism, predestination, free will, 52. Aug. ep. 93.1; bapt. 2.7.10 on the Donatist greeting. 53. Aug. serm. 360A.4–​5: pagans; ep. 111.1: barbarians; serm. 198augm.45: Donatus. 54. See Shaw 2011, 62 on Donatists as the majority for the whole fourth century. Frend 1952, 210 has argued that in 388–​398, Donatists enjoyed overwhelming dominance of North Africa. Possidius (v. Aug. 7) states that in the mid-​390s, Donatists were the majority; Optatus of Milevis (tract. c. Donat. 7.1.2, SC 413, 192) admits that the ‘catholics’ (Caecilianists) were few; Augustine concedes that the Donatists were the dominant group in several cities (Aug. serm. ad Caesariensis ecclesiae plebem 8; ep. 34.5; c. litt. Petil. 2.83.184, 3.57.69). 55. Whelan 2014, 239; Adamiak 2015, 211–​236. 56. For a discussion of the generalizations of Pelagian views, see Lamberigts 2008, 258–​259, 273. As Bonner 1972, 1 notes, ‘a considerable mythology, not to say demonology, has attached itself to Pelagianism’. 57. For examples, see Rees 1988, 98–​124. ‘Pelagianism’ and ‘Semi-​Pelagianism’ also functioned as convenient labels during the Middle Ages and even later periods. The term ‘Semi-​Pelagianism’ was coined in the seventeenth century; on the unsuitability of the term, see Rees 1988, 106.

Deviance or otherness inside  117 and divine grace. However, the dispute also extended to another level, including the social and economic dimensions of patronage, as Anne Kurdock and Kate Cooper show in their research on Roman aristocratic women and the rivalry between ecclesiastical authors for economic support. Kurdock analyses how Jerome, Pelagius, and Augustine in their writings keenly approached Anicia Demetrias, the young aristocratic heiress of the powerful family Anicii in the early fifth century.58 Pelagius wrote his Letter to Demetrias at the request of her mother, Anicia Juliana, as the daughter had decided to take a vow of virginity in 413.59 Jerome and Augustine joined the competition for the attention of Demetrias and her family, sending letters and offering their spiritual direction.60 Pelagianism indeed found many supporters among the newly Christianized Roman aristocracy, to the great displeasure of Jerome, who had been influential in the very same circles a few years earlier. Jerome argued that these people wished to be called ‘Pelagians’ rather than simply ‘Christians’.61 Modern scholars have speculated on whether the Pelagian emphasis on human achievement and free will had a special appeal to aristocrats because of its (alleged) ascetic elitism. With its appeal to aristocracy, it clearly constituted a threat to the authority of the bishops of Rome.62 Pelagian influence was felt not only in Rome but elsewhere in Italy, as well as in Dalmatia and Gaul. The main attack against Pelagianism came from North Africa, where Augustine set himself rigorously against Pelagian views. Later, views labelled as Pelagian or Semi-​Pelagian were also found in Britain and Ireland.63 In the early fifth century, Pelagius’s views and the positions related to him were intensely debated in North African church councils, especially those under Augustine’s influence. Peter Brown argues that Pelagius’s views worried bishops because they were seen as weakening episcopal authority. The North African bishops condemned Pelagius’s views in Carthage in 418. Their decision was supported by the rescript of Emperor Honorius in 418, in which it was decreed that Pelagians were to be expelled from Italy.64 This was nothing new in Late Antiquity, for Christian interest groups appealed to the emperor, looking for solutions to disciplinary and dogmatic disputes. As we saw in ­chapter  2, church authorities had adopted the traditional system of appealing to the central 5 8. Cooper 2007, 165–​189; Kurdock 2007, 190–​224. 59. Pelag. ep. ad Demetr. (PL 33, 1099–​1120). Trans. Rees 1991, 29–​87. The letter was attributed either to Jerome or Augustine for centuries because it discusses asceticism. 60. Hier. ep. 130 and Aug. ep. 150. Augustine (ep. 188.4) saw it necessary to warn Anicia Juliana about Pelagius’s doctrines. 61. Hier. ep. 133.12. 62. See Bonner 1972, 13, which describes the ethos of Pelagianism as ‘an aristocratic asceticism, with the hauteur and exclusiveness which goes with it’; also Rees 1991, 8–​10. For the fluctuating attitudes of the bishops of Rome, see Samuel Cohen 2014, 59–​67; Dunn 2015a, 275–​277. 63. Allen and Neil, 2013, 115; Neil and Allen 2014, 44. Shaw 2011, 313–​314 argues that Augustine needed the heresy of Pelagianism to establish his position as an authoritative theologian. 64. Brown 1967, 358. For the condemnation, see Allen and Neil, 2013, 117; Lamberigts 2004, 363–​375; Samuel Cohen 2014, 59–​60.

118  People in rhetoric and realities authority of the emperor when defending their interests, often at the local level. Pelagianism was also condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431. Pelagians nonetheless continued to be a painful thorn in the side of the bishops of Rome, among other doctrinal and ecclesiastical problems.65 The differences between the Pelagians and the mainstreamers were not always clear enough. Pelagians posed a threat because the boundaries were blurred. Those groups that were real outsiders, distant others, and sufficiently distinctive were not dealt with as harshly as heretical insiders. The Pelagian other only existed because mainstream Christian leaders perceived their differences and recognized these differences as meaningful. To be sure, Pelagians definitely considered themselves true Christians, and particularly high-​quality Christians. For mainstream leaders, especially the fifth-​century bishops of Rome, condemning and disciplining Pelagians—​or rather a variety of forms of private and domestic religiosity under the blanket term of Pelagians—​offered the possibility to enhance their own positions; in the case of the bishops of Rome, this meant extending beyond their episcopal jurisdiction to other regions in Italy and the western provinces.66 Consequently, Pelagianism was useful indeed. Heretics and social reality Polemics in early Christian texts often reveal that the boundaries between groups were not as clear as the writers wished them to be, and that they felt the need to strengthen and clarify fuzzy borderlines. For instance, the martyr accounts functioned in this way, depicting Christians and pagans as two distinct and easily identifiable entities.67 The same applies to the hostile language between Christian groups and the ever-​continuing construction of orthodoxy vis-​à-​vis deviance. After all of the theoretical discussion presented here on the making of deviance, it is opportune to ask who heretics were, or what effect the category of heresy had on social reality. In the intra-​Christian controversies in particular, it was crucial which Christian group was recognized by the emperor as the true version of Christianity and, consequently, as the receiver of imperial support and privileges: Nicene or Homoian Christians (‘Arians’), or, in the North African disputes, Caecilianists (‘catholics’) or Donatists.68 Therefore, decisions about which group represented the ‘true Christianity’ were decisive not only from the viewpoint of doctrine and identity, but also from an economic perspective.

65. In his first two extant letters, Leo of Rome (ep. 1–​2, dated to 440–​442) addressed the problem with the Pelagian clergy who were coming back to Italy from exile in the early 440s. Neil and Allen 2014, 44; Allen and Neil 2013, 118. 66. Samuel Cohen 2014, 45–​56 discusses the enhancement of the Roman bishops’ authority. 67. Lehtipuu 2016, 99–​100; Markus 1990, 27–​29; Boyarin 1999, 16–​19. 68. On the properties of the Donatist church, see Buenacasa Perez 2015, 102–​111.

Deviance or otherness inside  119 But how to spot a heretic? As Rebecca Lyman points out, polemical literary categories were both codified in laws and classified historiographically in heresiological treatises, but the problem remained how to identify the suspects.69 Ecclesiastical leaders were also worried about ‘heretics in disguise’, meaning those who pretended to be orthodox but were insinuating dangerous and unacceptable teachings among the truthful ones. Bishops demanded constant vigilance.70 In Graeco-​ Roman Antiquity, nonconforming, private, and foreign religious practices had been performed in private domestic spaces, and this continued in Late Antiquity. People labelled either pagans or heretics for not conforming to the public demands of mainstream Christianity are often reported to have withdrawn to engage in religious practices privately. Harry O. Maier describes domestic spaces as strongholds for heretical groups in the fourth and fifth centuries: ‘[O]‌utside the walls of officially recognized meeting places we may imagine a “heterodox” mosaic of more private conventicles, a diverse series of movements oriented around particular figures, ideas and practices, in varying degrees exotic and virtually impossible to control.’71 As in earlier Antiquity, authorities and religious leaders were suspicious about private forms of religiosity that fell outside their control. Anything could happen behind closed doors! The retreat to private space also explains how religious dissident groups could continue their practices even after the confiscations and prohibitions. Several imperial decrees forbade religious dissidents from convening not only in public, but also in private.72 The church buildings of dissident groups were shifted to the imperially sanctioned form of Christianity. When the emperors supported Homoian Christianity, the pro-​ Nicene Athanasius of Alexandria went into hiding, and as the Nicenes gained the upper hand, the Homoian bishop and his followers had to retreat to domestic assembly places in Alexandria. We find a similar situation in Italy during the time of the Homoian bishop Auxentius of Milan: the pro-​Nicene Philastrius of Brescia wandered around the countryside and preached in private locations. Pelagius’s ideas spread through private networks, and his followers met in aristocrats’ households in Rome and elsewhere in Italy. Leo, the bishop of Rome, complained that the Pelagians were furtively and deliberately trying to corrupt the hearts of many people under the pretence of being Christians. Aristocratic asceticism with a Pelagian tint challenged the public piety controlled by bishops and thus threatened to form a new Christian elite competing with the episcopal influence.73 6 9. Lyman 2007, 309. On cases in lived reality, see Humfress 2007b, 244–​259. 70. E.g., Cyr. Alex. ep. 11.1 (ACO 1.1.5, 10). Kahlos 2014, 688–​689; Lyman 1993, 53. 71. Maier 1995, 59; also Maier 2005, 213–​233; Steven D. Smith 2016, 37. 72. CTh 16.5.6 (in 381), 16.5.12 (in 383); Manichaeans: 16.5.3 (in 372), 16.5.40 (in 407); Arians: 16.5.11 (in 383), 16.5.58 (in 415); Donatists: 16.6.2 (in 377), 16.6.4 (in 405), 16.5.40 (in 407); Nestorians: 16.5.66 (in 435). Maier 1995, 50–​60 with further examples. 73. Alexandria: Sozom. eccl. 5.7.1, 6.19.1–​6. Italy and Philastrius of Brescia: Gaudent. tract. 21. Pelagians: Leo, ep. 1.1 (PL 54, 593–​597). For the ascetic challenge, see Sessa 2007, 202–​203; Samuel Cohen 2014, 66–​67.

120  People in rhetoric and realities Homoian Christianity remained the imperially sanctioned form of Christianity for almost two decades, from Constantius II to Valens. It was the dominant Christianity in the East, and this is probably why many Gothic groups adapted Christianity in its Homoian, then imperially enhanced, form. After the 380s, Homoians did not hold any major bishoprics in the West, but there were active theologians who kept on writing and publishing their views. It is worth noting that Valentinian II promulgated freedom of worship for those who professed the creed of the Council of Rimini.74 The conversion of the many Gothic groups in the fourth century—​and of the Vandal, Frankish, and Burgundian groups later—​brought a new, sharper dichotomy to the Arian-​Nicene controversy, since divisions were now followed along ethnic and political as well as theological lines.75 However, we should not exaggerate the tensions. Despite rivalries and the attempts of ecclesiastical leaders to draw lines between the churches, many ordinary people did not bother with the theological differences. Thus, several modern scholars have instead turned their attention to fraternization in daily life in regular encounters between ‘barbarian Arians’ and ‘Roman Nicenes’ in the fifth and sixth centuries. As Bryan Ward-​Perkins points out, Homoians and Nicenes ‘were seemingly happy to take over each other’s churches’, and this indicated that ‘there were no macroscopic differences, in terms of architecture and fittings, between the two groups, and perhaps no microscopic ones either’.76

7 4. Ayres 2004, 165, 266; Brennecke 2014a, 117–​130; Heather and Matthews 2004 [1991], 100. 75. Gwynn 2010, 230–​233; Ward-​Perkins 2010, 266. In the newly emerging kingdoms of Vandals, Visigoths, and Ostrogoths with ‘Arian’ rulers, there were Nicene and ‘Arian’ churches, which, if not always in conflict, had tensions with one another. 76. Ward-​Perkins 2010, 267; also Bockmann 2014, 218; Mathisen 2014, 184–​187.




eople responded to the altered social and religious circumstances in the Christianizing empire in various ways. Many accommodated the dominant form of Christianity (whether it was Nicene or Homoian at the time). There were several degrees of religious allegiance. The accommodation was evaluated in different ways, depending on the circumstances and the observer. Ecclesiastical leaders usually spoke about conversion in a favourable manner. Some reservations were shown when a few recent converts became more militant than their fellow Christians. Gregory of Nazianzus writes about former pagans who, after their conversion, became even more fanatical than the Christians themselves.1 Outward religious conformity and feigned conversions were despised by both Christian and pagan writers and often judged as opportunistic. Not everyone accommodated the changing circumstances. We have appeals and apologetical writings from dissidents, even though these have not been preserved in equal quantity as the mainstream Christian literature. In particular, defences and polemics written by the eventually defeated parties of ecclesiastical disputes (such as Homoians, Donatists, Pelagians, and Nestorians) are extant mainly in fragments. Many of the non-​conforming religious practices shifted to private spaces, beyond the control of the ecclesiastical and imperial authorities. Some scholars speak of privatization, others even of silence and self-​censure. Be that as it may, there seems to have been self-​segregation among several Christian sects deemed as heretical, as well as some pagan Neoplatonist circles. Bishops and imperial legislation condemned the phenomenon called ‘apostasy’; that is, abandoning Christianity and (re)turning to paganism or Judaism, or shifting from mainstream Christianity to a deviant type. Resistance could also be aggressive. Besides appeals, apologetics could appear in the form of verbal violence and polemical attacks. We also have mentions of confrontations between religious groups.

1. Greg. Naz. or. 5.37. For the passage, see Dagron 1968, 165.

Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450. Maijastina Kahlos. Oxford University Press (2020). © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190067250.001.0001

122  People in rhetoric and realities Accommodation: Conversion and conformity Sociologists have analysed encounters of groups by means of the concepts ‘accommodation’, ‘acculturation’, and ‘assimilation’, which resemble each other but also have differences. The phenomenon of acculturation is a consequence of the encounter of two cultural groups as the culture of one group or both groups changes. Because acculturation is usually regarded as a one-​way rather than a two-​way process, I  am not very convinced by this concept and instead prefer other ways of describing the responses of late antique dissenters. Assimilation usually means the complete integration of a group into a majority. A member of a minority or dissident group (instead of ‘exiting’) may even aim to ‘pass’ as the member of another group, so that the majority or mainstream group believes her or him to have assimilated. Christian writers usually depicted the decision to join the Christian community as conversion.2 P. J. Griffiths has called conversion ‘domesticating the religious alien’, and this also describes the attitudes of late antique church leaders.3 Motives for conversion were certainly manifold and different. The term ‘conversion’ is problematic, because it has many modern connotations. Although I deign to use it here to refer to the transition from one religious allegiance to another, I do not presuppose this transition to have been total in the sense that an individual rejected her or his previous life. Conversion accounts in Christian literature, especially hagiographies, functioned to define and enhance the boundaries of being Christian and non-​Christian.4 In these accounts and normative texts, such as sermons, a convert was expected to abandon her or his former life, including pagan practices, rituals, and festivities belonging to communal life, and to embrace a new way of being with Christian practices. If converts did not give up the practices of their previous life or did not see these practices as incompatible with the Christian way of life, ecclesiastical leaders chastised them as fake Christians. Evaluations of conversion depended on both context and the observer. Both bishops and pagan writers recognized problems connected to religious coercion and the increasing socio-​economic pressures that forced people to convert. Bishops complained about feigned conversions. Augustine referred to pagans who complied, becoming Christian converts only in order to protect their gods and shrines. Some conformed to secure a good position in the social hierarchy. Bishops labelled this kind of social climbing by adhering to Christianity as ‘opportunism’. Themistius also referred to turncoats who switched their faith 2. The research on late antique conversion is immense. To list just a few recent volumes, see Bøgh 2014; Papaconstantinou 2015; Mills and Grafton 2003. For different understandings of conversion from A.  D. Nock onwards, see Kahlos 2007, 83–​86. 3. Griffiths 2001, 119–​120. 4. Cracco 2011, 576.

Reactions  123 according to the changes of the tide in imperial politics. Others were simply forced to adapt to the dominant form of religion in order to keep their jobs.5 In ­chapter 4 I discussed the pressures that landlords put on peasants in the direction of their religion, whether it was Christianity or the traditional cults. In his speech for temples, Libanius makes it clear that ordinary peasants crowded to church because of coercion and pretended to become Christians only out of fear. At the same time, they continued to invoke their traditional gods in the Christian churches. Apparent conversions formed an important argument in Libanius’s defence for temples: the emperor should not allow this kind of intimidation that only caused falsification.6 In theory, bishops’ attitudes to forced conversion were negative. Earlier Christian apologists such as Lactantius had insisted that religion should not be compulsory.7 In regard to pagans, Augustine argued that idols should be first destroyed in people’s hearts and only thereafter were material idols to be smashed. However, concerning the Christian brothers led astray (namely, Donatists), Augustine was prepared to recommend coercion: they should first be compelled and thereafter persuaded.8 Ecclesiastical leaders and imperial legislation condemned the phenomenon called apostasy; that is, renouncing Christianity and (re)turning to paganism or Judaism (or shifting from mainstream Christianity to a deviant type). The concept of ‘apostate’ is, of course, perceived entirely from the Christian perspective. Apostates from Christianity to ‘pagan rites and cults’ are condemned in six laws in the Theodosian Code. Apostates who have been baptized as Christians are threatened with harsher penalties than apostates who have been catechumens; that is, not yet baptized as Christians.9 The transgression from baptism was felt to be greater than from a mere catechumenate.10 According to Alan Cameron, the laws concerning apostasy were targeted less against those who formally renounced their Christianity than those Christians who were thought to perform ‘pagan’ or ‘Jewish’ practices—​meaning practices that church leaders or authorities deemed

5. These complaints emerge from Constantine onwards; see Eusebius (v. Const. 4.54.2) on individuals who pretended to have embraced Christianity only to please the emperor. Aug. serm. 360A.8 and serm. 279 on securing positions; catech. rud. 16.24 and serm. 47.18 on the commodities of this present life. Them. or. 5.67d–​68a on turncoats. See also Ambr. expos. in psalm. 118 serm. 20.48–​49; Sozom. eccl. 2.5. 6. Liban. or. 30.26–​29. For a discussion, see Van Nuffelen 2014, 293–​314; Lee 2000, 122. Later, similar accounts of people pretending to be Christians while continuing their former pagan or Jewish practices are found in Procopius (hist. arc. 11.31–​32 on pagans performing libations) and Gregory of Tours (hist. 6.17; MGH SS rer. Merov. 1.1.1, 286 on Jews who were forced to be baptized). 7. Lact. inst. 5.19. Kahlos 2009, 49–​50. Of course, the pagan apologists Libanius and Themistius did not fail to appeal to this principle, which they knew Christian writers had defended. 8. Aug. serm. 62.11.17–​12.18: pagans; Aug. ep. 93.5.17 and 185.6.21: Donatists. 9. CTh 16.7.1–​7; these are dated between 381 and 426. On apostates, see Crook 2014, 119–​134; Cecconi 2012b, 68–​80; Hornung 2016, 262–​282. Similarly, conversion of Christians to Judaism and their practice of circumcision was forbidden: CTh 16.7.3 (in 383). Nonetheless, Jews were allowed to practise their religion: CTh 16.8.9 (in 393). Millar 1992, 116; Linder 1987, 67–​78. 10. E.g., CIust (in 391) defined apostasy as a crime without the possibility of penitence.

124  People in rhetoric and realities pagan or Jewish.11 Thus, the legislation was aimed at people that ecclesiastical leaders regarded as ‘apostates’: lapsed, mixed, incerti, improper Christians. It is useful here to consider religious allegiance to the mainstream or the dominant form of Christianity as varying in degrees, as some individuals were more committed than others. Individuals could have joint allegiances—​taking part in the religious life of several religious groups. They did not necessarily see this as a problem of divided loyalties—​even though the leaders of rival religious communities told them this was the case. Many moderate pagans and Christian continued to live and act (as we would call it) ‘between worlds’. Even such an enthusiast pagan as Vettius Agorius Praetextatus could toy with the idea that he would become a Christian if he were consecrated the bishop of Rome. In regard to the distinction between the private and public forms of Christianity, Maier writes of joint allegiances of Christians who could participate both in the publicly sanctioned Christian life (‘orthodoxy’) and in private Christian activities in the domestic sphere (‘heresy’).12 Joint allegiances are not unusual in the modern world either. Recent sociological research on new spirituality and social engagement in present-​day Europe also sheds light on ways of being spiritual or being religious in Late Antiquity. Religious inclinations, beliefs, and practices that may look incompatible with each other—​in the eyes of modern scholars and late antique ecclesiastical leaders—​were not irreconcilable for the religious practitioners themselves.13 Non-​v iolent resistance: Eloquent appeals Accommodation and assimilation are not the whole story. We also have mentions of resistance from the side of dissenters, both non-​violent and violent. We have appeals and apologetics, silencing and censuring, withdrawal and self-​ segregation. The pagan writers Themistius, Libanius, and Symmachus, discussed in ­chapter  7, wrote eloquent speeches and reports on behalf of the traditional cults. These three differed with each other in their appeals and line of argumentation, but they all pleaded for the voluntary nature of religion and the compatibility of all religions. All three were ready to dialogue in order to secure their positions and defend their tradition. All three took care of their network of friendships and alliances with both pagans and Christians. Themistius’s example shows that many pagan intellectuals were able to move in imperial circles and attain the favour of the succeeding Christian emperors. 1 1. Alan Cameron 2011, 794. 12. Jerome (c. Ioh. 8) writes that Praetextatus used to joke with Damasus, the bishop of Rome, saying that if he were made the bishop instead, he would immediately become Christian. Kahlos 2002, 204. On the idea of being between worlds, see Cribiore 2013, 168–​170; on joint allegiances, see Maier 1995, 59. On unclassifiable individuals, see Perrin 2010a, 47–​62; Salamito 2010, 63–​75; Soler 2010a, 281–​291. 13. Berghuijs, Pieper, and Bakker 2013a, 15–​32; Berghuijs, Pieper, and Bakker 2013b: 775–​792.

Reactions  125 He made an outstanding career not only as a philosopher and teacher of rhetoric, but also as the adviser of emperors and the leading senator in Constantinople. Themistius used his rhetorical skills to plead for the diversity of religions in the empire: he did not speak only for his Hellenic religion, as he is known to have appealed for the Nicenes in the court of the Homoian emperor Valens.14 In the oration addressed to Emperor Jovian in 364, Themistius supported the moderate religious policies of the new emperor after Julian’s death. In this speech, he argues for the uselessness of coercion, stating that all virtue and reverence for the divine are beyond compulsion and are stronger than any intimidation and the use of force. In religious issues, compulsion is inappropriate, since religion is an impulse of the soul that should be uncompelled, independent, and based on free will. Themistius also appealed to many monotheistic ideas shared by contemporary intellectuals, pagans, and Christians alike, such as the inaccessible magnificence of the supreme deity and the fundamental unity of religions, however different they may be. Themistius used the metaphor of many paths connected with the theme of competition; namely, that not everyone proceeds on the same course, as there is not just one path leading towards the same goal.15 Symmachus, who has conventionally been portrayed as the last champion of paganism, appears in the more complex analysis of recent research as ‘a master of reconciliation and compromise’ and ‘an example of cooperation’, rather than a figure of hard-​necked opposition.16 As noted in ­chapter  7, it was Ambrose who, with his two letters in reply to Symmachus, turned the controversy into an issue of faith for Christian rulers. What Symmachus asked for in his relatio 3 to Valentinian II was the return of the altar of Victoria to the Senate house and the continuation of state support for the traditional Roman cults and, consequently, the privileges of Roman priests. Similar to Themistius, Symmachus argued that all people worship the same supreme deity, but they do so according to their own religious customs and rites. In his view, this diversity of religious traditions was authorized by the supreme deity, which he called the divine intellect, mens divina. Thus, Symmachus also appealed to the monotheistic koine of his time. Likewise, he used the metaphor of the road, speaking of the great mystery that cannot be reached by one path only (Uno itinere non potest perveniri ad tam grande secretum).17 Libanius addressed a speech, often called Oration for the Temples, to Theodosius I in 390. In it he complains to the emperor about the Christian attacks against

14. Penella 2000, 1–​5; Dagron 1968, 5–​16; Leppin and Portmann 1998, 1–​26; Vanderspoel 1995; Heather and Moncur 2001, 1–​42. 15. Them. or. 5.67b–​69c. Themistius’s characterization of Jovian’s moderate policy is reinforced by Socrates (eccl. 3.25.4); see Errington 2006, 173–​175. For Themistius’s speech, see Kahlos 2011b, 287–​304. For the shared monotheistic koine in Late Antiquity, see Athanassiadi and Frede 1999, 16–​18; Stroumsa 2008, 30–​31. 16. Salzman and Roberts 2011, xlvii–​xlviii; see Alan Cameron 2011, 377 on Symmachus as a skilful politician. 17. Symm. rel. 3.3, 3.7–​8, 3.10. For Symmachus’s appeal, see Kahlos 2009, 95–​99.

126  People in rhetoric and realities pagan temples in the countryside around Antioch. To strengthen his cause, he reminds the emperor about the imperial religious policies from Constantine to Theodosius I himself. Libanius argues that Theodosius has neither ordered temples to be closed nor prohibited anyone to enter them. Thus, any devastation is against the emperor’s will. Libanius declares that the destruction of temples does not lead to any genuine conversion to Christianity, as people only become more affirmed in their religious convictions due to their suffering, and compulsion only leads to feigned conversions.18 Common to the three pagan petitions for religious moderation is the plea to free choice in religious issues, since coercion is pointless in the area of religion. Similarly, the pro-​Nicene bishops, who fell into disfavour during the reign of the Homoian emperors and were exiled or had to otherwise lay low, appealed to free choice. Hilary of Poitiers wrote that God neither needed forced obedience nor demanded confession by compulsion. Athanasius spoke for free choice as the requisite for Christian faith, for the truth is not spread with swords or with darts or by soldiers, but through persuasion and counsel.19 The apologetic writings written by ‘heretics’ such as Homoians, Donatists, Pelagians, and Nestorians have been preserved mainly through the replies of Nicene writers, as well as in fragments and scholia. What is common in their responses is the defence against accusations of heresy and their conviction of representing the true doctrine and true community of the faithful. The ‘Luciferians’ Faustinus and Marcellinus vehemently refuted the label of heretic attached to them and asked the imperial authorities to protect the followers of Lucifer of Cagliari against persecution by Damasus, the bishop of Rome.20 The protesting voices of Homoians can be heard in the margins of a manuscript of fourth-​ century anti-​Arian texts, where a writer called Maximinus wrote a reply to the acts of the Council of Aquileia in 381. This text includes fragments of an apologia written by Palladius of Ratiaria, one of the Homoian opponents of Ambrose. Palladius remonstrated against the treatment of Homoians at the Council.21 Furthermore, we hear Palladius’s complaints (in a fragmentary form) in the report of the debates at the Council.22 In 428 Augustine was involved in a public debate with a Homoian called Maximinus, which was published as Augustine’s

18. Liban. or. 30.4–​13, 30.26–​29. Criscuolo 1995, 85–​103; Van Nuffelen 2014, 293–​314. 19. Hilar. Pict. ad Const. 2.(1.)6 (CSEL 65.4, 185); Athan. hist. Ar. 33. 20. Faustinus and Marcellinus, De confessione verae fidei et ostentatione sacrae communionis 21.78, in Collectio Avellana (CSEL 69, 378). McLynn 2005, 108–​109; Maier 1995, 55. 21. The texts have been preserved as scholia in the manuscript Cod. Par. lat. 8907, and have been edited in Gryson 1980 (SC 267), 25–​200 and Gryson 1982 (CCSL 87). Brennecke 2014a, 123–​124; Heil 2014, 109–​111; Graumann 2007, 104–​105; McLynn 1991, 52–​76. 22. The acts of the Council of Aquileia in CSEL 82.3. Heil 2014, 109–​111; Lim 1995, 219–​220; on Ambrose, who engineered the condemnation of Palladius and other Homoians in Aquileia, see Ayres 2004, 265–​267.

Reactions  127 Conlatio cum Maximino Arrianorum episcopo. It is possible that this Maximinus is also the writer of the fragmentary Dissertatio Maximini.23 Non-​v iolent resistance: Silence and self-​s egregation Pagans made eloquent appeals and heretics took part in debates in the councils and other ecclesiastical meetings. This indicates that in the fourth and fifth centuries, religious issues were widely discussed and debated, even to the point that emperors found the controversies to be disturbing social tranquillity and attempted to restrain them.24 This does not mean that an individual would not have gotten into problems when speaking out too audaciously. However, the risks did not necessarily concern religion, but rather challenging the authority of the emperor—​even though these issues often went hand in hand. Libanius implies that some may think he is exposing himself to danger by making an appeal for temples, but then, rhetorically, he assures that the emperor in his philanthropy would not punish anyone for expressing their opinion.25 Some cases suggest that people at least occasionally were afraid of showing their religious allegiances. In one sermon, Augustine mentions that a man had shouted the common exclamation ‘By Hercules!’ and then started trembling out of fear of being charged with idolatry. Augustine’s remark must be assessed in the context of his persuasive rhetoric. He wanted to argue that paganism was a lost cause and Christianity was the triumphant one backed up by emperors.26 Peter Brown speaks of the ideology of silence, meaning that Christian leaders wanted to represent paganism as silenced and dissipated.27 Silence was probably one way to respond to the rise of Christianity. However, this does not necessarily mean that pagans were silenced or censured. Nor is there a need to exaggerate the fear that pagan intellectuals may have felt before a Christian government because of their paganism.28 It is true that some writers (for example, Libanius) occasionally declined to mention Christianity or spoke of Christians with circumlocution.29 However, as such late antique historians as Eutropius, Aurelius Victor, Festus, and the anonymous writer of Epitome de Caesaribus ignore Christianity in their

23. Gryson 1980 (SC 267), 204–​327; Gryson 1982 (CCSL 87), 147–​196. See also Heil 2014, 112–​113 n.  76; Mathisen 1999, 173–​196. 24. Lim  1995. 25. Liban. or. 30.2–​3. 26. Aug. serm. 360A.8, dated around 400. 27. Brown 1992, 128–​131. 28. Pace Ratti 2012, 43–​44, states that pagans lacked freedom of speech during the Christian Empire, and therefore construes a war with hidden words in the late fourth-​century literature. 29. On the appellations used by Libanius for Christians, see Sandwell 2007, 92–​93; e.g., Liban. or. 1.39: ‘those who deride our shrines, these heirs of the kingdom of heaven’.

128  People in rhetoric and realities histories of the fourth century, it is probable that the issues of religion simply did not belong to the field of historiography. Freedom of speech was certainly limited under the Christian emperors, but these limits concerned everyone in the empire, not only pagans. If and when fear was felt, Christians and pagans alike were alert to the dangers of insulting the majesty of the emperor or being associated with illegal magic. Late antique individuals had many reasons to be cautious in their words and deeds.30 It was not against the law to be a pagan. What Christian emperors were concerned about was putting an end to pagan practices. Emperors in general, as well as Christian emperors continuing the earlier tradition, were apprehensive about practices that might challenge their power and their alleged monopoly of knowledge. As Marie Theres Fögen has shown, owing to their fear of conspiracy and treason, emperors aimed at controlling knowledge, especially that of the future. Magic was the means of outlawing problematic things and practices, and it offered a convenient target against paganism.31 In the late fifth century, it was still possible for a prominent Athenian like the Neoplatonist Proclus to profess paganism openly, if discreetly.32 We can speak of silence in the sense that pagan cults and heretical sects disappear from public spaces—​and often from our sources. The persistence of non-​ Christian religions in the fourth and fifth centuries is continuously debated in research. As discussed in ­chapter 7 (para 6), the mentions of pagans are ambiguous, and it is often impossible to know what kind of pagans the writers are discussing. Christian groups deemed as heretical also shifted to using private spaces beyond the control of the mainstream bishops. This can be regarded as a kind of quiet or passive resistance. Augustine speaks about pagans who hide their idols in fear of imperial legislation. While Augustine’s triumphant tone may sound exaggerating, Libanius also writes of pagans who maintained their religious devotion in secret and even prayed to their own gods while taking part in Christian services. In Libanius’s case as well, we need to take his rhetorical strategy into account: his purpose is to paint as miserable and perverted a situation as possible, in order to convince his listeners about the absurdity of coercion. In the late fifth century, pagans hid their sacred images and continued their cult activities in secret. Zachariah Scholasticus describes in Life of Severus how the bishop of Alexandria, Peter Mongus (482–​490), found a collection of idols hidden behind a double wall in Menouthis.33 We have mentions of groups performing their practices secretly to avoid problems with ecclesiastical leaders and clashes with the Christian population. 3 0. Lizzi Testa 2004, 27 on l’autocensura professata; Alan Cameron 2011, 70 on parrhesia, ‘freedom of speech’. 31. Fögen  1993. 32. Dillon 2007, 124–​127. 33. Aug. serm. 360A.8. Liban. or. 30.27–​28. Zachar. v. Severi 29 Kugener. The hidden shrine was probably a temple of Isis. Kristensen 2013, 129; Hahn 2004, 101–​105.

Reactions  129 Most of the comments come from eastern bishops proceeding with missions in the countryside or from disputes in educated circles in Athens and Alexandria. Scholars often speak of crypto-​pagans or crypto-​polytheists. Some converted to Christianity as a merely outward form of conformity and remained emphatically self-​conscious pagans. In the fifth and sixth centuries, philosophers in particular were either defamed or praised for being pagans.34 As an extreme example of crypto-​paganism, Garth Fowden gives an account of John of Ephesus, the bishop who aggressively converted the countryside of Asia Minor in the sixth century and who told about a cult image of Apollo being painted on the back of an icon of Christ.35 Dissenters did not necessarily go underground, but simply kept a low profile. Some scholars call this phenomenon ‘privatization’. The demise of the state-​supported traditional Roman religion, as well as the end of the public polis cults, changed the pagan way of life. Performing religious practices in private or in secret was problematic, since many cults functioned as the core of a community. Public rituals were the core of these cults. In response to changed circumstances, paganism was also in transformation. After the prohibition of animal sacrifice, other rituals became more prominent.36 After the prohibition of animal sacrifices, an official category of law-​abiding, non-​sacrificing pagans appeared in imperial legislation. The need to protect non-​ sacrificing pagans was pronounced in laws. The absence of sacrifices led bishops and legislators to redefine paganism so that sacrifice was no longer the defining feature. As a result, other rituals and objects were needed to define pagans. This can be seen in new laws that forbade other rituals and ordered the removal of cult statues from temples. This shows how definitions of paganism and Christianity were continuously renegotiated in new circumstances. The space and action restricted by the growing domination of Christianity and imperial legislation also led to changes in paganism. As Peter Garnsey and Caroline Humfress point out, instead of attempting to follow the decline of paganism, it is more fruitful to explore its evolution, looking at how people ‘developed their religious beliefs and sought “licit” ways of expressing them’. Imperial and ecclesiastical authorities tried to control religious beliefs and practices, but we can nonetheless perceive persisting religious diversity.37 Many Christian sects deemed as heretical, as well as some pagan Neoplatonist circles, also more or less consciously isolated themselves from mainstream religiosity. Part of the self-​segregation was a strong sense of pollution. On the one hand, mainstream church leaders warned their parishioners about the polluting 34. External conformity: Eunap. v. soph. 7.6 Goulet (=LCL 134, 428–​429); Eunap. hist. fr. 48.2 Blockley; defamation: Zachar. v. Severi 17–​37 Kugener; Procop. anecd. 11.32. Fowden 1998, 557. 35. Ioh. Ephes. eccl. 3.3.29. Fowden 2001, 87. 36. E.g., according to Sandwell 2007, 180, Libanius countered the growing Christian domination in public life by stressing the private sphere of religion. 37. CTh 16.10.24 (in 423). Alan Cameron 2011, 800; Garnsey and Humfress 2001, 6, 152–​153.

130  People in rhetoric and realities influence of heretics. Cyril of Alexandria stated in his polemic against Nestorius that even a reader could be defiled by studying Nestorius’s blasphemous distortions. On the other hand, dissenting groups regarded themselves as orthodox, and they were likewise concerned about getting contaminated by those they deemed to be heretical.38 This idea of pollution was pervasive in the mutual relations and rivalries between religious groups in Graeco-​Roman Antiquity. In her classic study Purity and Danger, Mary Douglas connects pollution with guarding the ideal order of society and threatening the transgressors of this order. The systems of purity and pollution created and reinforced boundaries between religious communities. Consequently, the fear of pollution can be interpreted as a reaction to disrupted boundaries and hierarchies that communities aimed to sustain. Judith Perkins interprets the disgust and fear of pollution as a reaction to disrupted boundaries. Consequently, the sense of pollution can be seen as construing and maintaining boundaries and hierarchies in communities, as Judith Lieu suggests. Robert Parker, who has analysed the Greek concept of pollution (miasma), also regards fear of pollution as a product of the urge for order and control.39 Pollution was not merely metaphorical, but often taken as a concrete state of affairs. A  Christian needed to remain clean from the contaminating influence of deviant Christians, and this meant keeping away from heretics, both spiritually and physically.40 In the rivalry between Christian sects, competing Christian groups were branded as spreading polluting heresies. For mainstream bishops, heretics were contaminating transgressors who endangered the purity of the church, while, vice versa, other Christian groups regarded the mainstream church as an abomination. For example, Donatists regarded themselves as the ‘Church of the Martyrs’ and the elect, pure people of Israel.41 We have mentions of Donatists who avoided polluting contact with Caecilianists. Optatus of Milevis mentions Donatist Christians wanting to sprinkle salt water and wash the walls of churches previously been used by mainstream Christians.42 As noted in c­ hapter  1, paganism and heresies in the Christian Empire were increasingly claimed to contaminate the entire society. The notion of polluting influence is apparent in the fifth-​century imperial legislation; for example, in a decree of 425 in which it is announced that ‘since genuinely religious people may not be harmed by superstitions’, it was decreed that ‘Manichaeans, all heretics, schismatics, mathematici and all sects inimical to the catholic faith must be expelled from the sight of the 38. Cyr. Alex. ep. 7 (ACO 1.1.1, 111). See Lyman 1993, 49 and Lyman 2000, 155 on the ideas of heretical pollution, poison, and disease, as well as orthodoxy as an antidote and medicine. 39. Douglas 1978 [1966], 3–​11, 122–​139. On pollution and the maintenance of boundaries in Graeco-​Roman and Christian Antiquity, see Perkins 2009, 90; Judith Lieu 2004, 110–​111, 118–​119; Parker 1983, 10–​19, 62–​63. 40. See Perrin 2010b, 201–​227 for a number of examples. 41. For the Donatist self-​identity, see Tilley 1997, 21–​35 and Gaddis 2005, 41. 42. Optat. tract. c.  Donat. 6.6.1 (SC 413, 182). For the polluting effect of ‘traitors’, see Shaw 2011, 99–​100; Merdinger 2015, 167–​169.

Reactions  131 towns in order to prevent people from becoming polluted by the presence of these criminal sects’.43 Confrontations: Verbal and physical violence A sharp sense of pollution, with severe codes of avoidance at times, may have kept religious groups from harming one another.44 However, in conflicts between religious groups, the fear of pollution could be channelled into discrimination and even violence against rivals. Sometimes violent outbursts took the form of riots and attacks against persons and places. Furthermore, violence between religious groups was articulated in words, as seen in polemical writing that has been preserved in abundance. The same literary works usually include both apologetics and polemics, as defence and assault went hand in hand. To mention just a few examples, contra paganos literature flourished with the anonymous pamphlet poems Carmen contra paganos, Poema ultimum, and Carmen ad quendam senatorem in the late fourth century. Ecclesiastical writers such as Jerome, Augustine, John Chrysostom, and Theodoret condemned pagans in sermons, letters, and Bible commentaries. Nicene and Homoian writers alike rebuked pagans.45 Deviant Christians suffered their share of polemics; for example, in On Faith, Ambrose paints a chilling picture of the dangers of Arianism.46 The anonymous pro-​Nicene treatise Altercatio Heracliani cum Germinio from the 360s is a more or less fictive account, written in the style of earlier Christian martyr acts, of a Nicene in the hostile Homoian environment. It depicts how Germinius, the Homoian bishop of Sirmium, led proceedings against a Nicene layman named Heraclianus. After the examination, Heraclianus was not killed, but Germinius ordered his deacon to knock Heraclianus’s teeth out.47 We have already discussed the fashion of composing heresiological treatises in which heresies were listed, classified, and condemned. It is probable that polemics were more fervent the more need there was to convince one’s own group of its truthfulness and define the group’s boundaries. Dissenter groups responded with vehement polemics as well. We hear about slander by pagans against Christians mainly through the Christian literature, in which Christian writers refute accusations and arguments raised by pagans. A prominent example is The City of God, in which Augustine reports on pagans’ complaints, according to which the closure of temples and the prohibition of 43. Sirm. 6 (in 425). The term mathematici probably refers to magi. Cf. CTh 16.7.3, in which Judaism is described as a polluting thing. 44. Brown 1993, 100. 45. On the polemic against pagans, see Kahlos 2007, 62–​66; on the Homoian polemic against pagans and Jews, see Meslin 1967, 353–​379. 46. Ambr. fid. 2.16.139–​140. 47. Altercatio Heracliani (PL Suppl. 9, 345–​350), dated to 366. D.H. Williams 1996, 351; Lenski 2002, 241; Flower 2013a, 1.

132  People in rhetoric and realities sacrifice and other rituals were the cause of the contemporary misfortunes of the empire, including the sack of Rome in 410.48 In the previous section of this chapter (para 3), we discussed non-​violent resistance by means of which dissident groups carried on their practices, keeping a low profile. However, pagans also continued to perform their practices in public places. Defiance may have been deliberately provocative, especially in the case of making animal sacrifices that were forbidden in imperial legislation.49 In a few inscriptions, pagans emphatically make it known that they have observed traditional rituals; for example, an inscription of the priest Helladios in Megara, which is dated after the imperial prohibitions of sacrifice in the 390s, commemorates the performance of sacrificial rituals. This is, according to Angelos Chaniotis, ‘not just a performance of a custom, but the demonstrative defiance of Christian legislation and observance of ancient customs in a period of religious intolerance’.50 Community festivities and showy processions irritated not only church leaders, but also Christian hard-​liners, especially because many fellow Christians often participated in these celebrations with pagans. And, as discussed in c­ hapter 6, the boundaries between alleged pagans and alleged Christians were blurred. The traditional festivities and participation of Christians in them were one of the sore points that in several cases aggravated tensions between the groups and led to violent riots. These tensions often erupted, fracturing otherwise relatively peaceful coexistence. Augustine, for example, forbade Christian merchants from cheating pagans, thus implying that these kinds of problems existed in everyday encounters between Christians and pagans.51 Furthermore, riots could be inflamed by the disempowered position of pagans and as a reaction to imperial laws forbidding rituals and ordering the closure of temples. Correspondingly, in pagan-​Christian disturbances, many Christians could have felt supported by imperial legislation, even if not necessarily by the local administration, especially after the Theodosian legislation in 392 that restricted and even forbade many pagan cult practices. In ­chapter 5 I discussed the conflicts in Calama and in Sufetula (Sufes) in 399, which revealed that pagans could be provoked to violence when their cult statues, places, or festivities were violated.52 There were also several disruptions between religious groups in Carthage and its surroundings. Some of these upheavals were connected to the imperial legislation of 399 and the special delegation sent to Carthage to oversee the closure of temples. We already saw that pagans could respond to Christian

48. Echoes of pagan complaints are found in Aug. serm. 60.6.7, 81, 296.7, 198augm. (=Dolbeau 26.63); ep. 98.1; cons. ev. 1.32.50, 1.33.51. For further examples, see Kahlos 2013a, 177–​193; Courcelle 1958, 149–​186. 49. Deligiannakis 2011, 318–​319. 50. Chaniotis 2005, 165–​166. 51. Aug. tract. in Ioh. ev. 70.18. 52. Aug. ep. 50. On the Theodosian legislation against pagans in 391–​392, see Alan Cameron 2011, 61–​64; on Christians having the upper hand, see Salzman 2006, 283–​285.

Reactions  133 aggression with counter-​violence when they had support from the local elites. In addition to the tensions and aggression in North Africa, Sulpicius Severus describes a few famous incidents in Gaul during the missionary expeditions of Martin of Tours.53 Furthermore, in 397 in the region nowadays called Val di Non in northern Italy, there was a confrontation between the local country folk and Christians, during which three clergymen were killed.54 When the Serapeion in Alexandria was attacked, the local pagans fought back heavily. When making his appeal for the temples in Syria, Libanius refers to pagan resistance. Furthermore, Sozomen reports of pagans defending their temples against the attacks by Marcellus, the bishop of Apamea.55 All these accounts make the late antique world appear blood-​soaked. Estimates of researchers on the incidence of violence have varied. Michele Salzman argues that pagan-​Christian violence was infrequent. According to Alan Cameron, there were confrontations between pagans and Christians, but fewer than generally assumed. T. D. Barnes suggests that these were not necessarily isolated episodes. Brent Shaw argues for a relatively limited amount of violence in the Donatist controversy, despite all the offensive accounts. He perceives a clear difference in the types of Christian violence: in regard to pagans, it was not directed against persons but rather cult places, whereas in regard to heretics, it tended to target persons in the form of physical attacks.56 Indeed, from late antique sources, we hear much more about aggression between Christian groups than between pagans and Christians. It is difficult to say whether this is because Christian writers, especially church historians, were more prone to report confrontations among Christians. Many authors compared the disputes and conflicts with civil war; for instance, John of Antioch stated that in the controversy between Nestorius and Cyril of Alexandria, the church was disrupted by turmoil and civil war.57 Thomas Sizgorich notes that figures of aggressive piety captured the imagination of the communities and that militant forms of piety became an important part of communal self-​fashioning among early Christian communities. All Christian communities built their identity around the memorialization of martyrs, but the Donatists in particular shaped their self-​understanding as ‘the sons of martyrs’

5 3. The imperial delegation in 399: Aug. civ. 18.54. Martin of Tours: Sulp. Sev. v. Mart.  13–​15. 54. The clergymen were sent by Bishop Vigilius of Trent to Val di Non to convert peasants: Vigil. ep. 1–​2; Max. Taur. serm. 105–​106; Lizzi 1990, 169–​172; Lizzi Testa 2010, 96–​100. 55. For the relations of religious groups in Alexandria, see Haas 128–​ 206, 316–​ 330. Liban. or. 30; Marcellus: Sozom. eccl. 7.15. On the destruction of temples, see Theodoret. eccl. 5.21–​23. 56. Salzman 2006, 285; Alan Cameron 2011, 797–​799; Barnes 1982, 71–​72; Shaw 2011, 623. Cf. also responses by Maureen Tilly and Paula Fredriksen to Shaw’s book in JECS 21 (Tilly 2013; Fredriksen 2013). 57. Ioh. Antioch. ep. Orientalium ad synodum (ACO 1.1.5, 124). On the language of civil war, see Gaddis 2005, 283–​285. On the complaints of church historians, see Sulp. Sev. chron. 2.51.8–​10 on the Priscillianist dispute; Rufin. eccl. 11.3.10; Socr. eccl. 2.27.38, 7.3.15.

134  People in rhetoric and realities and the ‘church of the truth’ in continuous resistance with the Caecilianists and the Roman imperial power—​even though it was Christian.58 People in rhetoric and realities: Some conclusions In Section II, People in rhetoric and realities, I have analysed the construction and categorization of dissidents into entities such as pagans and heretics. These categories were established and used by outsiders, such as ecclesiastical writers and imperial authorities, to make sense of the world, but also for polemical purposes. Equally, the category ‘Christians’ was normative, indicating what people were expected to be or not be. In research on the religious groups of Late Antiquity, there is always a risk of reifying them—​falling into the trap of ‘groupism’—​even though scholars may realize that the boundaries between groups are in constant flux. Instead of assuming entities or fixed groups, therefore, the focus here is on the constant developments, fluctuations, and negotiations of these entities and categories. I  have discussed various oppositional categories in the late antique sources. My discussion has not been meant to support the narrative of the oppositional pairs, such as Christians/​pagans, or orthodox/​heretic, but rather to analyse their use and development. Paganism and Christianity are better understood as changing, mutually influencing concepts, not two separate religious entities. The boundary-​making between Christians and pagans was a continuous process, as church leaders qua ideologues of separation collided with the complex socio-​religious fabric of late antique realities. Similar remarks can be said about Jewish-​Christian relations, even though I  have mentioned them only as comparative material. ‘Pagans’ was a relational concept that Christian writers used to refer to religious others. Therefore, ‘paganism’ defined the boundaries of being Christian, and it therefore reveals more about Christian aspirations than about the great diversity of Greek, Roman, and other Mediterranean cults, beliefs, and practices. Instead, we have theological constructions of pagans that function as weapons against ecclesiastical rivals or as Christian self-​rebuke. Consequently, the categories ‘pagans’, ‘Christians’, ‘orthodox’, and ‘heretic’ used in Christian literature should not be taken for granted. Rather, we should understand them as the apparatus in which late antique writers attempted to create order and make sense of their world. This is especially observable in the heresiological treatises, in which writers such as Epiphanius of Salamis and Theodoret of Cyrrhus organized the ‘knowledge’ of dissenters—​creating taxonomies and genealogies of heresies. Another field in which the dissenters were organized into taxonomies was legislation, in particular during the compilation 58. Sizgorich 2009, 4; Donatist self-​identity:  Pelttari 2009, 359–​369; Donatists and resistance:  Lenski 2016, 114–​119.

Reactions  135 of the Theodosian Code. Knowledge-​ordering gave the imperial and ecclesiastical authorities a sense of managing individuals and groups. The legal categories of pagans, heretics, Jews, Caelicolists, and Samaritans in the Theodosian Code reveal the late Roman order of religion rather than reflecting any day-​to-​day reality. Furthermore, pagans, Jews, and heretics were often lumped together into a triadic category representing error and the enemy of true catholic Christianity. Thus, on the one hand, imperial and ecclesiastical authorities reduced the variety of deviant Christian groups to a single collective term of ‘heretics’, and, on the other hand, they were fixated with naming and listing specific heretical groups. It is also worth noting that there was not only one kind of attitude regarding religious dissenters—​whether they were non-​Christians or deviant Christians. Not everyone was keenly concerned with establishing strict boundaries between one’s own group and others. Libanius and his correspondents, for example, show us that individuals had friends on both sides of the fence, so to speak. Church leaders and people in their congregations certainly had differing views on what being a Christian meant and what a Christian could and could not do. Bishops tried to control even emperors, as the example of Ambrose shows: he demanded that Valentinian II make a definitive decision in his attitudes towards the traditional Roman religion.59 In the course of these discussions, I have questioned the categories—​modern and late antique—​of what people were required to be, and I  have shown how late antique individuals eventually escaped the definitions of ‘pagans’, ‘Christians’, ‘orthodox’, and ‘heretic’. In Section III, Time, place, practices, we will shift from categories to practices. We will look at action and performance—​what people were supposed to do and not do—​and what people eventually did.

59. Ambr. ep. 72.6–​7.


Time, place, practices


n the first section of this book, ‘Imperial and ecclesiastical authority’, the categories ‘pagans’ and ‘heretics’ were treated as a given, because imperial and ecclesiastical discourses built and maintained them as such. In the second section, ‘People in rhetoric and realities’, the means by which these categories were construed were analysed. After questioning and deconstructing them, it is now time to move on and go beyond categorizing, labelling, and listing groups. Section III, ‘Time, place, practices’, offers an alternative of way of looking at the late antique religious world and its social fabric: local religion. In this section, I discuss the topic of religious dissidents on the micro level of social, economic, and cultural structures. The rhetoric and ecclesiastical discourse of censure against practices, feasting, and places is here contextualized by the realities of everyday life. Therefore, the focus is moved from melodrama to everyday nuisances. This section addresses the tension between the normative writings of ecclesiastical writers condemning traditional rituals and community practices, on the one hand, and the imperial administration, which often allowed traditional festivals to continue, on the other. Furthermore, attention is drawn to the contradictions between the triumphalist declarations made by church leaders about the destruction of cult places in some regions and the archaeological evidence, which reveals a less dramatic picture (for instance, the continuity of cult practices or the natural abandonment and decay of shrines). Over the course of the fourth and fifth centuries, many traditional rituals and practices were transformed. Late antique church leaders labelled the local forms of religiosity as magic, surviving paganism, or heretical distortions. These interpretations have also influenced modern scholars, who often continue to classify the alternate expressions of religiosity into these three categories. In this section I put forward a local religion model as a means of interpreting the local practices condemned and censured by ecclesiastical leaders. Another theoretical standpoint that I find important is the perspective of lived religion.1 We need to distinguish between early Christianity as lived religion and the early church as the institutional manifestation of Christianity.2 I wish to break away from traditional dichotomies, such as pagan/​Christian, religion/​magic, and religion/​superstition, in order to observe religious practices in the late antique world on their own terms. We may call that religious world ‘the third paganism’, 1. For the local religion model, see Frankfurter 2005, 256–​257; Frankfurter 2018, 1–​33. For lived ancient religion, see Raja and Rüpke 2015, 11–​19, influenced by the lived religion model of McGuire 2008. 2. Humphries 2006, 12.


138  Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450 ‘popular Christianity’, the ‘second church’, ‘Religion zweiter Ordnung’, or whatever we choose.3 The term is not relevant here, however. Instead of taking local forms of religiosity simply as magic, surviving paganism, or Christian superstition, we should analyse local religious worlds in their different sociopolitical contexts. I explore local rituals and beliefs as creative applications and expressions of the infinite range of human inventiveness. Moreover, I suggest that this is a way to restore agency to individuals. This is not an easy task. It is almost needless to say that we obtain most of our ‘information’ on the religious practices of this time from the writings of bishops and other ecclesiastical authors. These mentions and depictions are biased, distorted, and (at best) misinformed. However, I am not entering into an epistemologically untenable distinction between the rhetorical sphere and the domain of real practices, as such is beyond our ability as historians. What I wish to do is to analyse the rhetoric of dichotomy and denigration as operating hand in hand while studying the historical dynamics in local settings and in religion as practised and lived in concrete situations and social contexts. We get some glimpses (however dim they may be) of late antique people; we may hear their voice in their practices. It is preferable to break away from a top-​down model and perceive people as active and creative in their involvement, resistance, and accommodation, for we can conduct research on late antique people by analysing their practices.4 As Zsuzsanna Várhelyi succinctly puts it, ‘culture is understood not simply as a discursive regime, as Foucault would have it, but as practices that put that language to work in order to reference and interpret the world’.5 The chapters of this section illuminate late antique practices, times, and places. In ­chapter  10, we look at the transformation of rituals, with the focus on the much-​disputed topic of sacrifices, including their alleged continuities and disappearances. Chapter 11 explores the economic aspects of religious dissidence, such as the confiscation of temples and churches, as well as competing philanthropic practices, civic euergetism, and ecclesiastical charity. Chapters 12 and 13 discuss not only the rivalry between Christians, pagans, and Jews in regard to sacred places and times, but also how these were shared. Our discussion on the transformation of practices ends with ­chapter 14, which challenges the conventional distinction between religion and magic.

3. On the ‘second church’, see MacMullen 2009; on ‘Religion zweiter Ordnung’, see Harnack 1923, 302. 4. In this sense, I am more optimistic than Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak in her classic essay ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’ (1988). For the usefulness of postcolonial perspectives in the research of Late Antiquity, see Elizabeth A. Clark 2004, 182–​184. 5. Várhelyi 2010, 12. On ‘practice theory’, see Spiegel 2000, 22–​25.


The transformation of practices


efining and redefining the concept of being Christian was—​and is—​an issue of authority. With their episcopal authority, late antique bishops defined what appropriate conduct was for Christians. They were inclined to define as pagan, superstitious, and magical those practices and beliefs that they personally detested and disapproved of. For instance, Maximus of Turin labelled as pagan any custom that did not meet his Christian standards. Augustine interpreted the popular feasting in honour of St Leontius as pagan custom and insisted that excessive banqueting be abolished. Crowds of recent converts in the aftermath of the conversion of Constantine had not been able to give up the banqueting and drunkenness that were part of their pagan feast days. According to Augustine, church leaders had made a concession and allowed them to bring their previous practices into the martyr cult, but now that they had become established Christians, they should give up their pagan excesses.1 The narrative of a contamination of original, pure Christianity by pagan ritual, presented in such forceful terms by late antique bishops, convinced not only their contemporaries but also modern scholars. Augustine’s interpretation of the pagan past of local Christians, as well as other attitudes of the ecclesiastical elite towards local religious practices, led modern scholars to classify the local forms of religiosity simply as pagan survivals or magicized misrepresentations of Christianity.2 According to this view, old and traditional pagan practices infiltrated Christian rituals in the aftermath of the Constantinian shift as the Roman Empire was Christianized. Scholars still often speak of pagan survivals, which as a legacy of the traditional Graeco-​Roman religions were adopted into popular Christianity.3 It is not always clear what modern scholars mean by ‘pagan survivals’.4 Another question, in emic terms, is how people understood their own religious allegiances. Furthermore, in etic terms, modern scholars have a different understanding of

1. Aug. ep. 29.9 (in 395). Maximus: Devoti 1981, 165–​166; Augustine: Brown 1998b, 662. 2. E.g., Lancel 1999, 228–​229; Gnilka 1993, 82–​83; Andresen 1974, 362–​363; Barb 1963, 105–​108. 3. Gregory 1986, 229–​242; McKenna 1938; Meslin 1969, 512–​524; Filotas 2005; Piña-​Gabral 1992; Whitby 1991, 111–​132. 4. See O’Donnell 1979, 83:  ‘Christianity triumphed, but paganism survived.’ See also Kaegi 1966, 245–​268; Dagron 1968, 92–​93; Frend 1952, 101.

Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450. Maijastina Kahlos. Oxford University Press (2020). © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190067250.001.0001

140  Time, place, practices what these allegiances were. Our literary sources are the writings of the ecclesiastical elite, and this often leads modern researchers to take ‘pagan survivals’—​ following ecclesiastical writers—​as some undesirable side effects of the hasty Christianization of the masses and as coming from outside that ‘polluted’—​or, to speak more neutrally, changed—​Christianity. As we have seen in the discussion on ‘pagans in social reality’ and ‘theological pagans’ (in ­chapter 7), it is problematic to differentiate between the kinds of ‘pagans’ being censured at any specific moment in the church leaders’ outbursts. True, we have plenty of evidence of ‘pagan survivals’, but this is ‘constructed paganism’ conveyed through the lens of the usually hostile ecclesiastical elite. Bishops complained about local rituals in the countryside. As expected, the term ‘pagan survivals’ has been disputed. Clifford Ando points out that the term ‘deflects modern surprise at how little Christian authorities demanded in their litmus-​tests’, and David Frankfurter remarks that ‘pagan survival’ brings an association of timeless primitivity, and often behind it lurks an imperialist or missionary agenda.5 Additionally, the term is vague and fails to do justice to the diversity of the late antique religious world. The idea of ‘survival’ takes as a given the whole narrative of a triumphant Christianity composed by ecclesiastical writers. In fact, we do not have enough evidence on the extent, number, or level of weakenings and dominations of particular forms of religiosity. Furthermore, the religious fluctuations and alterations can be outlined in many ways, not only as a dichotomy between the alleged pagans and the alleged Christians, or as the colligatory concept of Christianization. For centuries, the Mediterranean world had been suffused with a myriad of various cults, practices, religious ideas, and beliefs, which continually cross-​pollinated one another. The development of Christian groups was part of this metamorphosis of Antiquity. Moreover, the inhabitants of the Roman Empire, especially those in the East with a Hellenistic background, had as their cultural heritage a shared religious koine.6 In search of local religion Late Antiquity seems to abound with catalogues: we have lists in imperial legislation, church council canons, heresiological treatises, and bishops’ sermons, all of them condemning pagan, heretic, magical, or otherwise wicked practices. How should we understand these catalogues? How much can we rely on them as a source for practices that were still actively performed or groups still operating in society? In recent research, heresiological literature has been analysed as a

5. Ando 1996, 207; Frankfurter 2005, 267; also Meltzer 1999, 16–​17; Meyer and Smith 1999, 7; Frankfurter 2018, 7–​14; Humphries and Gwynn 2010, 494–​495. 6. Brown 1978, 7–​8 depicts the changes in Late Antiquity as ‘a redistribution and a reorchestration of components that had already existed for centuries’.

The transformation of practices  141 part of knowledge-​ordering in the late Roman world and connected with ethnographical discourse and encyclopaedic literature.7 As well as heresies, paganism also needed to be grasped and categorized. One purpose of imperial legislation was to outline paganism as a legally understandable entity expressed in the form of individual forbidden practices. It was in this process that paganism was construed.8 The lists of forbidden practices, such as magical acts, made by ecclesiastical councils may have functioned in the same way. The prohibitions were part of disciplining lay Christians as well as the clergy, but also making sense of the boundaries of Christian conduct. Likewise, several bishops list evil practices that their audiences should avoid. In the 380s, Cyril of Jerusalem enumerates them: The devil’s worship consists of prayers in the temples of idols, honours paid to lifeless idols, the lighting of lamps or burning of incense by springs and rivers. Some people have been tricked by dreams or demons into acting in this way, thinking they will even find a cure for bodily ailments, but you must have no part in such doings. Taking the auspices, divination, omens, amulets, writing on leaves, the use of charms or other spells—​such things are the devil’s worship.9 Canons of church councils produced lists of forbidden rituals and practices, often judged as magical, in the fourth to seventh century and onwards, thus defining the proper Christianity by way of exclusion. The Council of Ancyra held in 314 prohibited Christians from practising divination and following the customs of pagans, as well as bringing people into their houses for practising sorcery or for lustrations. Here, as in many other regulations, divination, magic, and ‘pagan’ customs are paralleled. The council forbade people to bring diviners into their houses to cast out evil, detect magic, or perform pagan purifications. Likewise, the Council of Constantinople in Trullo in 691 banned cloud-​chasers, sorcerers, purveyors of amulets, and diviners, who were to be cast out of the church if they persisted in ‘these deadly pagan practices’.10 Later medieval church councils and monastic writings again include lists of forbidden practices. Modern scholars have debated about the conventional catalogues of prohibited practices, whether these mentions are evidence of continuing practices or mere topoi, prohibitions repeated over the centuries without any reference to social reality. If the conventional lists are ‘only’ topoi, they may still have had a purpose. These lists may have

7. Berzon 2016a, 1–​26; Flower 2013b, 172–​194. For knowledge-​ordering in Antiquity, see König and Whitmarsh 2007. 8. See CTh 16.10.12 (in 392) for attempts to cover as many forms of pagan practices as possible—​by night or day, in temples, houses, or fields, burning incense, erecting cult images, and so forth. 9. Cyr. Hieros. catech. myst. 1.8. Trans. Yarnold 2000, 171. 10. Council of Ancyra can. 24; see also canons translated by Martin of Braga in Barlow 1950, 140. Council of Constantinople in Trullo, can. 61 (ACO 2.2.4). For the councils, see Klingshirn 2003, 68; Jonkers 1968, 49–​53; Stolte 2002, 114.

142  Time, place, practices functioned as a kind of exorcism by means of which all unwelcome behaviour was cast out. However, it is also possible that ecclesiastical leaders reiterated the traditional list of proscribed practices because it was the convention to forbid anything they despised and saw as detrimental but were not able to outline.11 Modern scholars often call local practices ‘popular’. In The Second Church:  Popular Christianity A.D. 200–​400, Ramsay MacMullen refers to ‘bishops and the masses pulling in opposite directions’.12 While practices were indeed popular and ‘ordinary people’ performed them, distinguishing between the two different Christianities, the religion of the few bishops and that of the masses, is by no means unproblematic. The contradistinction may in several cases be misleading, since not all practices were performed by ordinary people only, but by the socio-​economic elite as well. Both the elite and the common folk often shared the same practices and similar beliefs of the sacred and the divine. The dichotomy between the popular and the elite can be seen as a form of ritual censure, by means of which a writer sought to articulate cultural differences. A writer may have aimed to represent the elite exactly by making such a distinction. We find similar patronizing rhetoric of vilification not only by late antique legislators, bishops, and church councils, but also in the writings of Graeco-​Roman aristocrats, philosophers, and historians. These writers edit out elements they deem as ‘vulgar’, ‘barbarian’, ‘superstitious’, ‘old-​womanish’, ‘magical’, ‘pagan’, ‘heretical’, and ‘demonical’, and thereby confirm themselves as representatives of proper, sane, Greek, Roman, civic, or orthodox religion. The ecclesiastical elite’s ritual censure in the fourth and fifth centuries had its roots not only in the Jewish and early Christian discourses, but also Greek and early Roman imperial ones. The Greek philosophers deepened their self-​understanding with the distinction between hoi oligoi and hoi polloi. Roman writers’ (such as Tacitus’s) mockery of the superstitiones of Christians, Egyptians, Gauls, the populace, and so forth were adopted by the literate Christian apologists.13 Fourth-​and fifth-​century bishops wrote their denunciations as self-​appointed ideologues of separation. Their efforts to purify Christianity of ‘popular’, ‘superstitious’, ‘pagan’, and otherwise distorted practices were destined to be futile—​ because there was always some local variation to be condemned and detested. Imposing late antique bishops’ categories from outside (popular, elite, pagan, Christian, religion, superstition, magic) as etic (modern scholarly) definitions 11. E.g., Indiculus Superstitionum et Paganiarum, an appendix to the Council of Estinnes in 742/​743 (MGH Cap. reg. Franc. I, 222–​223). For a discussion of lists of forbidden practices, see Hen 2015, 183–​190. See also the debates on sacred springs (continuing but altered practices vs. topoi, based on Caesarius of Arles), reported in Sauer 2011, 507–​508. 12. MacMullen 2009, 95, 98. Trombley 1993a, 36 and Beatrice 1996, 11 use the term ‘popular’/​’populaire’ in quotation marks. See the ‘second church’ in MacMullen 2009, 31, which estimates it as 95 percent of the whole Christian population. 13. Kahlos 2007, 99–​110.

The transformation of practices  143 would be misleading and confusing. As an alternative, it is imperative to look at the ancient contexts and discourses within which emic (ancient) terms arose, in order to understand how and why they were used.14 I have chosen the neutral term ‘local religion’ to describe practices and beliefs that church leaders often—​but not always—​objected to. I find the local religion model enhanced by David Frankfurter, Jörg Rüpke, Hubert Cancik, Darja Šterbenc Erker, Christoph Auffarth, and Rubina Raja to be useful for observing and understanding the late antique religious world.15 Instead of interpreting local religious phenomena simply on the axis of Christianity and paganism, we can analyse local religious worlds in their different sociopolitical contexts. We perceive local creative applications, and we see people actively engaging to make adaptations in their local communities, according to their everyday life needs, tensions, and crises.16 The acculturation and encounter of religious traditions has often been outlined as syncretism. However, ‘syncretism’ is problematic, because it is a very vague and ambiguous term that can mean almost anything.17 Syncretism implies that there is some entity that is pure, original, and solid, which is then mixed with another entity. Almost everything can be syncretism. Another concept often used in the studies of cultural encounters is hybridity. A similar problem emerges with this concept, however, when we consider from whose perspective something is hybrid. Therefore, it is opportune to ask whether all cultures and religions are not more or less involved in each other and, consequently, hybrid. When developing the concept of ‘hybridity’, Homi Bhabha himself admits, ‘It is only when we understand that all cultural statements and systems are constructed in this contradictory and ambivalent space of enunciation, that we begin to understand why hierarchical claims to the inherent originality or “purity” of cultures are untenable, even before we resort to empirical historical instances that demonstrate their hybridity’.18 In this sense, as Andrew Jacobs shows, spaces of hybridity become useful, as from there ‘the colonized subject can “speak back” to the colonizer, by which he or she can appropriate and manipulate the voices of dominant culture at the same point at which his or her own voice has been appropriated’.19 There is a similar problem of presupposing the entities ‘Christianity’ and ‘paganism’ in Glen Bowersock’s description of the influences between Christianity 14. Stratton 2007, 14 raises this point in an admonition against making scholarly distinctions between religion and magic. I find Stratton’s argumentation useful and follow it in my discussion on magic in c­ hapter 14. 15. Frankfurter 2005, 257–​267; Cancik and Rüpke 2009; Raja and Rüpke 2015, 11–​19; Šterbenc Erker 2009, 75–​97; Auffarth 2003, 14–​26. 16. As Frankfurter 2005, 268 aptly remarks, they are neither ‘the simple survival of a pagan belief or practice nor the struggle (even victory) of one religion against another’; see also Frankfurter 2018, xiv on late antique religious worlds as overlapping rather than separate. Talloen 2011, 593–​594 writes that ‘rather than a complete change, it represented a coalescence of practices, in which some long-​standing local traditions continued in new forms’. 17. Meslin 1986, 23 on syncretism as ‘un mot passe-​partout parce qu’il est plurivoque’; also Simon 1973, 8. For a survey of different concepts, see Markschies 2006, 26–​29. 18. Bhabha 1994, 37. 19. Jacobs 2003, 8.

144  Time, place, practices and Hellenism (paganism) as a two-​way street:  late paganism responded to the pressures coming from the Christian environment, and at the same time Christianity borrowed from the language and iconography of paganism. As Bowersock states, ‘paganism/​Hellenism enriched Christianity, just as Christianity transformed late antique paganism’.20 Garth Fowden writes about polytheism as ‘a state of mind, a force within, as much as a physical context or a ritual’ that could survive within Christianity.21 While there is a risk here of interpreting polytheism as something static and ahistorical, the idea apprehends something of the acculturation processes of Late Antiquity. No religion is an unchanging monolith. Adaptations had been happening all the time in the ancient Mediterranean area.22 Frankfurter speaks of ‘contextualized Christianities’. We could also call that religious world the third paganism or regional micro-​Christianity.23 I am inclined to think that we need not use fixed categories, either contextualized Christianity or contextualized paganism. Due to pressures from the ecclesiastical elite and secular authorities, ordinary people defended their allegiances as the Christian faith. I wonder whether they would have defended their practices and beliefs as something else in connection with other pressures (e.g., Manichaean, Zarathustrian, Islamic). ‘Local religion’ is the safest term to use here. Sacrifices in Late Antiquity One of the most significant changes in Late Antiquity was the disappearance of animal sacrifices from the public space. Even though animal sacrifice was only one of the sacrificial rituals belonging to ancient cults, it was the most conspicuous in its public visibility and communality.24 In this chapter, I  discuss the continuities and changes of animal sacrifice, starting with imperial prohibitions and the condemnations of church councils. Furthermore, I  ask what role and meaning sacrifice had in ancient discourses, especially in the Christian rhetoric of ritual censure. We look at the fear of pollution connected to pagan rituals and sacrifice in particular. Then we discuss the continuities and adaptations of sacrificial rituals. Discussing the decline of public animal sacrifices and their replacement with other kinds of rituals during the later Roman Empire, Guy G. Stroumsa explains the shift as deriving from the developments in Second Temple Judaism after 2 0. Bowersock 1990, 44, 64; also Bowersock 2001, 14. 21. Fowden 1998, 558–​559 explains that polytheism as ‘so thoroughly immanentist religion could not easily be conceptualized or, therefore, defended’. O’Donnell 1979, 87 understands paganism as a moderate attitude towards religious diversity: ‘If paganism is an attitude toward one’s religion more than a religion itself, the eradication of non-​Christian cults did not necessarily lead to the eradication of that attitude.’ 22. Stroumsa 2008, 31 aptly stresses the religious culture and religious perceptions shared by polytheists and monotheists alike; it is this religious koine that was transforming in Late Antiquity. 23. I use ‘third paganism’ as the continuation of Veyne’s ‘paganisme seconde’ in Veyne 1986, 259–​283. 24. On sacrifice, see Ekroth 2014, 324–​354; Ullucci 2015, 388–​439.

The transformation of practices  145 the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE. Because the Jewish abandonment of sacrifices influenced polytheistic and Christian ideas as well, this ultimately resulted in a gradual diminution in the significance of sacrifice in general. However, as Stroumsa himself concedes, ‘sacrifice would remain present even after its official death’—​‘official death’ here referring to the fourth-​and fifth-​century imperial legislation against animal sacrifices.25 For his part, Daniel Ullucci states that it was the distance from the Temple of Jerusalem that first transformed Christians into non-​sacrificers, and only thereafter did the theologizing start.26 J. B. Rives calls into question the monolithic place of animal sacrifice in narratives of ancient religion. We need more nuanced accounts of sacrifice. It is by no means certain that all pagans felt it necessary to perform animal sacrifices.27 The overstated emphasis for the most part derives from the ancient Christian discourse of ritual censure, which construed a caricature of paganism as a blood-​ soaked religion. It is worth noting that Julian’s zeal for sacrifices and anxiety about cultic purity was disapproved of as superstitious exaggeration by contemporary pagans. Ammianus condemned Julian as practising rites in a superstitious rather than a correct way. Ammianus’s views reflect the customary Roman conception of superstitio as exaggerated religiosity. Libanius even admits that by sacrificing every day, the emperor did not follow the cultic conventions; furthermore, Julian paid considerable sums of money for sacrifices.28 Julian’s excesses in sacrifices simply reflected the caricatures that Christian writers had of pagan cults. It is ironic that Julian, being a convert from Christianity to Hellenism, thus fulfilled in himself the stereotype of a pagan.29 As Rives argues, animal sacrifice became more prominent in the local forms of emperor worship and in the public rituals connected with euergetism. Consequently, those who did not want to participate in civic worship, such as Porphyry of Tyre, developed a sophisticated argumentation for rejecting animal offerings.30 The theory, allegorical meanings, and spiritualization of sacrifices were keenly discussed by pagan, Christian and Jewish authors alike.31

2 5. Stroumsa 2009, 56–​83; also Petropoulou 2008, 37–​106. 26. Ullucci 2011,  67–​68. 27. Rives 2011, 187–​202; also Kahlos 2007, 119–​123; Stowers 2011b, 35–​56; Frankfurter 2011, 75–​93. As Alan Cameron 2011, 10 suggests, pagans most simply asked to be able to coexist and be allowed to maintain the state cults. 28. Amm. 25.4.17: Superstitiosus magis quam sacrorum legitimus observator. Liban. or. 12.80, 18.170. Julian (misop. 346c) himself reports that he was blamed for ‘disturbing the gods’. On Libanius and sacrifice, see Sandwell 2007, 95–​98 and Sandwell 2010, 537. 29. This is pointed out by Garnsey and Humfress 2001, 154–​155; also Van Dam 2007b, 362; Kahlos 2007, 29–​30. For an up-​to-​date interpretation of Julian’s ‘pagan reaction’, see Belayche 2002, 101–​126 and Belayche 2001b, 455–​486. 30. Rives 2011, 188–​189. Porphyry (abst. 2.34.1–​2) argues for worshipping the deity in pure silence and with pure thoughts. 31. Belayche 2002, 101–​126; Bradbury 1995, 331–​356; for earlier periods, see Petropoulou 2008.

146  Time, place, practices As noted in ­chapter  2, different kinds of traditional rituals were forbidden in the fourth-​century imperial legislation, and prohibitions were frequently repeated in the fifth century. In the imperial decrees that restricted the performance of many kinds of sacrifices, Christian emperors announced their resentment towards such practices.32 The nefarious character of sacrifices was abhorred in voluminous words in imperial declarations. A 382 law forbade using permission to enter the temple as a pretext for making sacrifices: ‘But this opportunity to enter the temple is not to be taken as giving permission for the performance of sacrifices, which is prohibited there.’33 It is important to remember that not all sacrificial rituals were definitively forbidden; the main target was animal sacrifice. Imperial legislators were mostly concerned about private practices, especially divination. Sacrifices were not thoroughly banned until the 390s, during the reign of Theodosius I.34 It was the law from November 392 that forbade all public sacrificial activity, on all social levels, as the wording in the very beginning of the law indicates: No person at all, of any class or order whatsoever of men or of dignities, whether he occupies a position of power or has completed such honours, whether he is powerful by the lot of birth or is humble in lineage, legal status and fortune, shall sacrifice an innocent victim to senseless images in any place at all or in any city.35 The law continues by listing the places in which public sacrifices could have been made (temples, shrines, buildings, and fields), and then listing the forbidden practices, such as veneration of an individual’s household god (lar) with fire, of genius with wine, of gods of the hearth (penates) with fragrant odours; burning lights to them and placing incense before them; suspending wreaths for them; venerating images and burning incense before them; binding trees with fillets and erecting altars of turf; and honouring images with the offering of a gift.36 In their legislation, Christian emperors usually differentiated between licit and illicit sacrifices, thus following the religious policies of the early empire. Constantine and Constantius II forbade sacrifices and soothsaying made in secrecy, and these bans can be understood as a continuation of the traditional Roman suspicion of private practices.37 As a compromise between the traditional 32. Constantine condemned blood sacrifices in his speeches and correspondence: Constantine in Eus. v. Const. 4.10 and Const. or. ad sanct. 11. Eusebius’s (v. Const. 2.45.1) claim that Constantine banned all sacrifices has been the source of a wide dispute among modern scholars; for a survey of the discussion, see Kahlos 2007, 122. 33. CTh 16.10.8 (in 382). Trans. Lee 2000, 112–​113. 34. CTh 16.10.10 (February 391) and CTh 16.10.11 (June 392). 35. CTh (8 November 392). Trans. Pharr 1952, 473. This law, addressed to Rufinus, marked ‘a new stage in anti-​pagan legislation’, but was the making of Rufinus rather than Theodosius I himself; see Alan Cameron 2011, 63; also Belayche 2005, 357–​358; Trombley 1993a, 13. 36. CTh–​3. 37. CTh 9.16.4, 9.16.16.

The transformation of practices  147 needs of the people and the demands of sacrifice-​loathing church leaders, imperial legislators ended by stripping civic celebrations of their cultic features—​that is, sacrifices. For example, a decree of 399 declared that amusements shall be performed for the people as before, but without sacrifices and superstition. Nicole Belayche analyses these imperial prohibitions of sacrifice and casts doubts on their efficiency.38 We need to distinguish between simply banning practices and attempts to eradicate them. Furthermore, Scott Bradbury stresses that there is no record of anyone having been put on trial for making conventional animal sacrifices in the fourth century. Instead, we have mentions of people prosecuted for performing sacrifices connected with magic.39 In recent scholarship, imperial legislation is not seen as affecting the (alleged) decline of sacrifices. Pierre Chuvin argues that the prohibitions were issued at the same time that animal sacrifice came into less favour among the pagans. Scott Bradbury dates the decline of sacrifice to the fourth century, explaining it in terms of the decline and redirection of euergetism, or private benefaction, which played a significant role in funding traditional cults.40 For some time, people had already been substituting less expensive offerings for animal sacrifices and adapting other kinds of rituals, such as incense-​burning, hymn-​singing, and lamp-​lighting. Animal sacrifice was by no means central to all pagan rituals. Consequently, the major impetus probably revolved around the economics of the practices. As Luke Lavan points out, animal sacrifices falling out of favour and the diminishing importance of the temple building may be connected with one another. However, these changes should be seen in a broader perspective, ‘as the final chapter in a longer story, which had little to do with Christianisation’.41 Public sacrifices in the cities seem to have ceased by the early fifth century, at least in places under imperial control, but private sacrifices, despite all the severe-​sounding prohibitions, persisted in various forms, especially in the countryside, as late as the ninth century and perhaps even beyond that.42 The abhorrence of sacrifice We can deduce from these prohibitions and reinterpretations that the theme of sacrifice was still important in the late antique religious world. Fourth-​and fifth-​century legislation echoed the Christian loathing of blood sacrifices. For many Christian leaders in Late Antiquity, one of the most essential divisions between Christianity and traditional Graeco-​Roman religions lay in participation in sacrificial rituals, especially animal sacrifices. Revulsion for animal sacrifices 38. CTh 16.10.17 (in 399). Belayche 2005, 343–​370. 39. Bradbury 1994, 134. Strictly speaking, this is an argumentum e silentio. 40. Chuvin 2009 [1990], 237–​244. Bradbury 1995, 347–​355; Deligiannakis 2011, 312. 41. Lavan 2011a, xlvii; Brown 2012, 103; Stroumsa 2008, 30. 42. Trombley 1993a, 10–​14, 34, 95; Trombley 1985, 327–​352; Caseau 2011, 117; Lavan 2011a, xxiii.

148  Time, place, practices is commonplace in early Christian literature, in which they are usually depicted with great loathing as involving blood, flesh, and smoke. Ecclesiastical writers stressed that traditional religions, especially sacrifices, polluted the surrounding community. Prudentius mocked that the togas of senators were stained with smoke and blood.43 As discussed in ­chapter 9, purity and impurity functioned as concepts upon which communities projected their fears of and concerns about social character. Accordingly, Christian writers depicted the participation of Christians in traditional rituals, such as sacrifice, as a polluting transgression. Maximus of Turin warned the landowners in his audience about the dangers of continuing idolatry on their estates, and he exhorted them to use all of their authority as patrons and proprietors to eradicate paganism on their domains. According to Maximus, neighbours and mere bystanders were endangered by idolatrous practices. The contaminating influence infected everybody. Thus, the transgression of one member of the community was seen as defiling the whole community. This meant that the members of a community should not tolerate any practices that deviated from those accepted by the local bishop.44 In another sermon, Maximus insisted that the landowner was touched by dreadful pollution (pollutio nefanda) because of the tenant’s idolatry. The landlord became a participant—​if not because he agreed with idolatry, then certainly because he knew it was happening. A  Christian landlord who had prohibited sacrileges on his estates was a pure man, and his property was free from filth and untainted by any contagion of the devil.45 The same notion of pollution is present in the tractates of Gaudentius of Brescia, who repeatedly urges his listeners to avoid becoming violated by the contagion of idolatry. He contrasts the meal of the spiritual Easter with the mortifying food of demons. A Christian should keep away from all polluted food that ‘pagan superstition’ has poisoned. Furthermore, he warns his listeners against polluting themselves with food offered to the Devil. These are references to food and drink dedicated to the traditional gods and thus, in Christian eyes, contaminated as the food of demons and the Devil.46 Late antique bishops devoted considerable attention to the pollution caused by sacrifices, sacrificial meals, and traditional rituals in general. In order to understand the issue of pollution, I  briefly survey the debates on participation 43. Prud. c. Symm. 1.8: togas procerum fumoque et sanguine tingui; also Ps.-​Paulin. Nol. Poema ultimum 27; ‘Ambrosiaster’ comm. in Rom. 8.23. For the Christian revulsion to blood sacrifices, see Bradbury 1994, 129; Kahlos 2007, 119–​123. 44. Max. Taur. serm. 107.2 (CCSL 23). It is difficult to say how common and influential this policy was. Salzman 2006, 272 argues that Maximus’s policy of interventionism in local pagan matters was not the norm. See Lizzi Testa 2009, 532; Lizzi Testa 2010, 100. 45. Max. Taur. serm. 108. Maximus described the polluting influence of traditional practices with a number of terms, such as pollutio, polluere, inquinamenta, inquinare, maculare, contamination, and contagio (serm. 105.2, 106.1–​2, 107.2, 108, 22a.2). In contrast with the contamination of idolatry, Maximus (serm. 22a.2) depicted how Christianity purified people and places of this pollution. 46. Gaudent. tract. 9.2, 4.13, 15.21 (CSEL 68).

The transformation of practices  149 in festivals and eating sacrificial food, which extend from the Apostle Paul to Augustine. Sacrificial food—​which Christians called eidolothyton, ‘food offered to idols’, and which Greeks called hierothyton, ‘holy food’, or meals offered to the gods—​was an important issue, and it was treated with the utmost seriousness. For example, at the Council of Elvira in the early fourth century, it was decreed that Christian landowners could not accept payment in the form of products that had been dedicated to idols; that is, to the Graeco-​Roman gods.47 We know that in their abhorrence of traditional sacrifices, many Christians refused to eat sacrificial food. Yet sacrificial food was not such a horrendous issue to every Christian; some Christians had no scruples about eating sacrificial meat. This could be turned into a polemical weapon against theological rivals in disputes between Christian sects:  rival groups were occasionally condemned for eating sacrificial meat.48 Eating meat was traditionally connected with animal sacrifice because a considerable amount of the meat sold and consumed came to the market from sacrificial ceremonies.49 Over the course of the fourth and fifth centuries, this changed as the number of sacrifices decreased. Meat was by no means the only article of alimentation that was dedicated to the gods—​grain, vegetables, wine, milk, honey, and other products were, too. During the late Roman Empire, bloodless rituals such as pouring libations, burning incense, and lighting lamps seem to have become more important in ritual life than in earlier periods. Therefore, it seems that animal sacrifice was not the only prominent ritual in the time of the late empire.50 In the Christian imagination, however, it was animal sacrifice that was the really pagan thing, and most of the Christian polemic against traditional rituals was directed at it. In Christian literature, pagan cults were emphatically associated with the gore and smoke of animal sacrifice. According to Christian authors, sacrifices were performed to gratify bloodthirsty demons; that is, the old gods. These demons were believed to long for grisly offerings because they fed on gore and the smoke of burning flesh.51 This had several implications, one being the comparison made between animal sacrifice and the superior sacrifices of martyrs and the ultimate sacrifice of Christ.52 It is worth remembering that Christians 4 7. Council of Elvira can. 40 (PL 84, 306B). 48. The writer of Revelation (2:14–​15, 2:20, 2:24–​25) castigates some Christian groups for eating food sacrificed to idols and being unchaste; for a discussion, see Yarbro Collins 1985, 210. Iren. haer. 1.6.3 (SC 264, 94–​96) censured ‘Gnostic’ Christians for frequenting spectacles and eating sacrificial meat. 49. On the essential connection between sacrifice and eating, especially meat, see Scheid 2005, 273–​287; Rüpke 2005, 227–​239. 50. Veyne 1986, 259–​283; Bradbury 1995, 335–​337; Garnsey and Humfress 2001, 154; Sandwell 2007, 74. Petropoulou 2008, 23–​24 insists upon the prominence of animal sacrifices during the period 100 BCE–​200 CE, but Petropoulou’s survey does not cover the later empire. 51. For the nourishment of demons, see earlier apologetics: Athenag. leg. 26; Orig. c. Cels. 7.35, 8.60; Tert. apol. 22.6; the turn of the fourth century: Eus. praep. ev. 5.2; Arnob. nat. 7.23; Lact. inst. 2.16–​17; Firm. err. 13.4. 52. For a comparison of animal sacrifice and the Christian sacrifices, see Kahlos 2007, 123–​126; Heyman 2007, 95–​218. In fact, the vocabulary of Christian discourse was integrally connected to sacrifice. See Stroumsa 2009,  72–​73.

150  Time, place, practices were not the only group in Graeco-​Roman Antiquity to show their repugnance for blood sacrifices. However, it is difficult to estimate how common this repugnance was.53 In the late third and fourth centuries, a number of Neoplatonists were involved in mutual disputes about the benefits and detriments of animal sacrifices. Porphyry of Tyre criticized traditional blood sacrifices, denouncing animal sacrifice in his Letter to Anebo and On Abstinence from Animal Food.54 Furthermore, fourth-​century mystical lore on the first-​century sage Apollonius of Tyana reports that he condemned blood sacrifices and refused to participate in them. Satirists such as Lucian of Samosata did not hesitate to mock traditional festivities and sacrifices.55 The question of eating food offered to the gods had been debated among Christians since the Apostle Paul. His approach in First Letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 8)  seems practical:  he stresses the unity of the Corinthian Christian community. This is why he does not make sacrificial food too great of an issue. The problem of sacrificial food had already divided the Christian community in Corinth into the stronger and weaker brothers, as Paul depicts them. Eating food sacrificed to the gods could defile the uncertain conscience of the weaker brothers, while for the stronger ones it was no problem. The apostle assures Christians that eating sacrificial food as such could not pollute them, but warns that weaker brothers might fall back into idolatrous practices. Despite this pragmatism, the Apostle Paul is worried about the gods, whose existence he does not deny and whom he regards as demons. What is significant for him is koinonia—​ communion, connection, or sharing. In Christian rituals, koinonia stands for participation in the blood of Christ. The term koinonia was also in use in Greek cultic contexts, in which its meaning ranged from the association or communion of the participants offering sacrifice to the mystical union between the worshippers and the deity. In the Christian interpretation of the rituals of Graeco-​Roman cults, sacrifice also resulted in koinonia, but this communion was formed with demons. Christians were free to eat anything as long as the context did not imply any cultic communion with alien gods.56 Christians were puzzled about the levels of participation: What was to be counted as mere presence at public traditional celebrations, and what was actual participation? In the early third century, Tertullian stated that ideally a Christian should not even see an idolatrous act. However, because Christians could not avoid living in the middle of a pagan world, their presence in these celebrations should be considered as service to

53. For the debates on sacrifice during the imperial period and in Late Antiquity, see Ullucci 2011, 57–​74; Ullucci 2012; Pernot 2005, 323–​324 (for Lucian of Samosata); Belayche 2005, 348; Bradbury 1995, 332–​341; Gillian Clark 1999, 128. 54. Porph. abst. 2.34, 2.61; Porphyry in Eus. praep. ev. 4.8 and in Aug. civ. 19.23. 55. Philostr. v. Apoll. 1.31–​32; Lucian, de sacr. 1. 56. For discussions on Paul’s attitudes, see Woyke 2007, 104–​109. On koinonia, see van Straaten 2005, 24; Heyman 2007, 113–​118.

The transformation of practices  151 a host, not to any idol. Nonetheless, in regard to animal sacrifice, there was no compromise: Tertullian insisted that even the slightest indirect contribution, such as the utterance of a word, was to be understood as participation in a sacrifice.57 The realities of pollution? The contaminating influence of sacrifices is considered in the correspondence between Augustine and a Roman Christian named Publicola (Aug. ep. 46–​47), where pollution appears as a very tangible matter. Publicola is concerned about everyday issues—​including food, drink, and baths—​and if he can eat food that has been sacrificed to pagan gods, drink water from a spring into which something originating from a sacrifice has been thrown, or go to baths where sacrifices have been performed to idols.58 We hear about similar anxieties in the eastern part of the empire. John Chrysostom writes that breathing air filled with sacrificial smoke caused Christian soldiers serving in Emperor Julian’s army to suffer. They complained: ‘Everything groans with the smoke of sacrifice, we cannot even breathe pure air.’59 Ambrose shows revulsion for sacrifices in his reply to the famous petition of Symmachus for the restoration of the altar of Victoria. Ambrose complains about the ubiquitous presence of traditional ceremonies that infiltrate the senses of Christians even against their will—​smoke in their eyes, music in their ears, ash in their throats, incense in their nostrils, and dust stirred up from hearths in their faces. Ambrose even raises the issue as endangering the religious freedom of the Christian senators.60 Comparable discussions revealing similar anxieties about pollution are known from Rabbinic Judaism, in Mishnah during the late empire.61 In his reply to Publicola, Augustine tries to appease the troubled Publicola by taking his discomfort to the most unreasonable conclusion. He cannot avoid everything because he breathes the air, into which the smoke from sacrifices and incense rises, and he lives in the light of the sun, which pagans worship with their sacrifices. However, after all this reasoning, Augustine advises that, in some cases, if it is certain that the meat placed in a shrine has been offered as a sacrifice to an idol—​that is, a deity—​it is better to keep one’s Christian integrity and refuse to eat it. Augustine states that when a Christian knows that something is 57. Tert. idol.  16–​17. 58. Publicola’s letter in Aug. ep. 46; Augustine’s reply in Aug. ep. 47. 59. Ioh. Chrys. hom. de Iuven. et Maximin. 2 (PG 50, 574); worked up by Theodoret eccl. 3.15.4–​9 (SC 530, 142–​ 144). Translation and discussion by Tomlin 1998, 33, 48 n. 93. Theodoret (eccl. 3.16.3; SC 530, 146) tells a similar story about the future emperor Valentinian I, who was a military officer during the reign of Julian. As a Christian, Valentinian was horrified by having purifying water sprinkled upon him, and he said that he was not purified, but polluted. For a discussion, see Gaddis 2005, 256. 60. Ambr. ep. 73.31. Similarly to Ambrose, John Chrysostom (catech. 1.5; SC 50, 111) describes with disdain ‘the smell of the sacrificial victim, the filth of blood, and the smoke’. Trans. Sandwell 2007, 68. 61. Yarbro Collins 1985, 210–​211 and Rajak 1985, 251–​253 discuss the fear of pollution in the Jewish context (with references to Jewish sources).

152  Time, place, practices taken from his threshing area or wine press—​namely, grain or wine—​and offered to the old gods, he commits a sin if he permits this and it is in his power to prevent it. But if it is not in his power to prevent this from happening, he can use it in the same way as the rest of the clean grain or wine from which the sacrificed items were taken. Thus, Augustine’s idea is that if a Christian cannot prevent sacrifices from happening, or if sacrifices have already happened, a Christian may use items as if they were uncontaminated. Furthermore, he explains that in the same way, Christians can use springs from which they know with certainty that water is taken for the use of sacrifices. The same principle applies to the use of baths. Accordingly, Christians do not hesitate to breathe the same air into which they know with certainty that there arises smoke from altars and the incense of demons. For Augustine, it is the intention that counts here. He writes that what is forbidden is to use anything in honour of alien gods, or to appear to do so.62 The views of these bishops and their audiences remind us of Greek and Roman perceptions of purity and contamination and concepts such as miasma and pollutio.63 Publicola’s nervousness in the face of pollution has been interpreted as representing particularly Roman perceptions versus the new Christian ideas.64 However, the concept of pollution in its many aspects is by no means a Graeco-​ Roman idiosyncrasy. Nor is it a Christian or Jewish particularity. Mary Douglas states that whenever boundaries are felt to be precarious, ideas of pollution emerge for their support.65 Participation in traditional cults outside the boundaries of proper Christian behaviour caused contamination. A transgressing polluter is doubly deserving of reprobation—​first for crossing the boundary, and second for endangering others by causing contamination for the whole community. The sense of pollution and the need for purification emerged in the mutual relations between religious groups in late Roman society. For example, Emperor Julian insisted that converts from Christianity to Hellenism had to purify themselves—​ their souls by supplications, and their bodies by customary purification rituals—​ before they could take part in the traditional sacrifices.66 Systems of purity and pollution thus created and reinforced boundaries between religious groups. Albert de Jong analyses the relations between Jews, Zoroastrians, Mandaeans, and Christians in the cultural mix of Sasanian Babylonia and Iran, and he remarks that ‘virtually all religious communities banned the eating of meat from animals killed by “others” ’.67

6 2. Publicola in Aug. ep. 46.6–​18; Augustine in Aug. ep. 47.3–​4. 63. On the Greek perceptions of these, see Parker 1983, 10–​19. 64. Lepelley 2002a, 89. 65. Douglas 1978 [1966], 139. As Hershman 1974, 290 states, ‘Pollution is essentially that which cannot be controlled.’ 66. Iul. ep. 114.436c–​d Bidez-​Cumont (=41 Wright). For a discussion, see Belayche 2002, 118–​119. Likewise, converts to Christianity were thought to purify themselves from idolatry by means of the rite of baptism. 67. de Jong 2002, 141.

The transformation of practices  153 As discussed in ­chapter  1 on imperial legislation, the idea of pollution was harnessed by prohibitions against pagan practices. In 391 Theodosius I declared that, among other things, no one was allowed to pollute himself with sacrificial animals and no one was permitted to kill an innocent victim. Rulings against pagan practices employed terms referring to contamination.68 In their rulings against sacrifice, Christian emperors customarily declared their revulsion at the practice, using harsh language. In a law from 393, sacrifices are depicted as abhorrent.69 Furthermore, imperial prohibitions of ‘the condemned sacrifices’ and ‘the accursed immolations of victims’ were occasionally accompanied by the order to cleanse traditional cult places with the sign of cross. In 435 Theodosius II commanded all groves, temples, and precincts to be destroyed and purified by the erection of ‘the venerated sign of the Christian religion’.70 Pollution could be utilized in rhetoric of social exclusion, as a law of 416 shows: ‘those people who are polluted with the profane error or crime of a pagan rite, that is, heathens’, were not to be admitted to the imperial service.71 It is, however, difficult to determine how tangible the pollution caused by sacrifices and other pagan practices was thought to be.72 In imperial legislation, emperors vaguely refer to the injury that adherents of traditional cults cause to the empire with their contaminating practices. Some clues are provided by conflicts that arose between Christians and pagans in the Mediterranean area, including northern Africa and northern Italy; for example, we hear about incidents in Carthage and the region of Val di Non reported by Augustine and Maximus of Turin. In Val di Non, a clash between the church and local peasants took place in 397 as Vigilius, the bishop of Trent, sent three clergymen to Christianize the surrounding countryside. The clergymen rebuked the locals for their traditional practices and tried to prevent them from carrying out their purification rituals. Peasants roused themselves to riot, and they killed the clergymen.73 Maximus of Turin, who refers to the conflict in his sermons, calls the customary practices of local peasants a sacrilege (sacrilegium). With this sacrilege, Maximus declares, they seek to pollute all places. Ironically, for peasants lustrum was a purification rite, while for ecclesiastical leaders and the Christian elite it represented contamination.74

68. CTh 16.10.10 (in 391): nemo se hostiis polluat; 16.10.11 (in 391): polluta loca; 16.10.12pr: secretiore piaculo larem igne; polliceri; violatae religionis reus. 69. CTh 16.10.13 (in 393): abominanda sacrificia. 70. CTh 16.10.25 in 435: venerandae christianae religionis signi expiari praecipimus. 71. CTh 16.10.21 (in 416). 72. In early twentieth-​century religious studies, some scholars favouring ‘medical materialism’ (e.g., E. B. Tylor in Primitive Culture, 1871) attempted to show that ideas of pollution focused on real danger and were aimed at preserving proper hygiene. For a survey on scholarship, see Parker 1983, 57. 73. Vigil. ep. 1–​2; Max. Taur. serm. 105–​106. Cf. Zeno Veron. serm. 1.25.6 (CCSL 22). Lizzi 1990, 169–​172; Lizzi Testa 2010, 96–​100. 74. Max. Taur. serm. 105.

154  Time, place, practices One person’s purification was another’s pollution, and the fear of pollution could be used deliberately to provoke religious rivals. During the conflict between pagans and Christians over the relics of the martyr Babylas and the shrine of Apollo at Daphne, Christians transferred the relics of Babylas to Daphne, near Antioch, in the early 350s. In the eyes of Christians, the relics purified the traditional cult places and silenced the demon at Daphne, whereas from the traditional Greco-​Roman perspective, the martyr’s corpse polluted Apollo’s oracular shrine. In his response to this conflict, Emperor Julian had the relics of Babylas moved away from Daphne. Furthermore, he deliberately aimed to irritate Christians with ‘polluted’ water and food. He had a portion of sacrificial meat thrown into the springs of Daphne. Moreover, he ordered that all the food in the market be sprinkled with lustral water.75 As a concept, pollution had also formerly been a useful weapon in interreligious struggles. In a notorious incident preceding the Tetrarchic persecution of Christians in 303, Emperor Diocletian made sacrifices, and the haruspices were to ascertain the divine will from the inspection of the entrails of the victims. According to Lactantius, some Christians attended the sacrificial ceremony. They made a Christian sign on their foreheads, which, from the Christian viewpoint, drove demons away. However, in the eyes of pagans, this annulled the ritual. Finally, the leader of the haruspices announced that the rites were disturbed because of the presence of profane persons (profani homines).76 During the Tetrarchic persecution of Christians, sacrifice was utilized to distress and isolate Christians:  Emperor Maximinus Daia commanded all Roman citizens to offer sacrifices, pour libations, and eat ‘the polluted sacrifices’, as Eusebius of Caesarea puts it. Furthermore, the emperor ordered that everything sold in the market should come from sacrifices; in Eusebius’s account, this meant that it was all polluted with libations and the blood of sacrifices.77 Disappearances, continuities, and adaptations As noted earlier in the chapter (para 15), in the fourth and fifth centuries, traditional sacrifices, public and private alike, were gradually prohibited by Christian emperors. Many temples were ordered to be closed and public sacrifices ceased.

75. Theodoret. eccl. 3.15.2 (SC 530, 142). The removal of the relics incited riots and eventually the shrine of Apollo was destroyed by fire. Finally, after Julian’s death, the relics of Babylas were returned to Daphne. John Chrysostom’s account of the conflict in his Discourse on Blessed Babylas and Against the Greeks refers several times to contamination and purification. The translation of the relics of Babylas to Daphne purified the place from pollution by traditional practices (Ioh. Chrys. or. Babyl. c. gent. 70–​72, SC 362, 185–​189), and Julian removed the relics of Babylas in order to purify the place from the pollution of the martyr’s corpse (81–​85, SC 362, 201–​209). The Babylas case was the first known transfer of relics. Finally, his relics were situated in a church built specifically to house them. For the conflict at Daphne, see Gillian Clark 2004, 56–​57; Shepardson 2014, 58–​66; S. N. C. Lieu 1989, 48–​52. 76. Lact. mort. 10.2–​3. For the purifying sign (of the cross) on the forehead, see Briquel 1997, 55. 77. Eus. mart. Pal. 9.2. Eusebius adds that even non-​Christians detested Maximinus Daia’s actions.

The transformation of practices  155 As a consequence, in the 370s and 380s, adherents of traditional cults—​such as Symmachus—​adapted to the changed circumstances. Michele Salzman demonstrates that Symmachus attempted to keep the practice of Roman sacrifices alive by letting private individuals fund and perform them and by broadening the notion of the sacrificial ritual to include forms of praxis other than animal sacrifice. However, the transfer from the public to the private sphere undermined the idea of the traditional Roman sacrificial ritual, which by definition was a communal, public act.78 Alan Cameron argues that pagan aristocrats wanted to avoid being associated with the ritual of sacrifice, and this was the reason for the decrease of temple restorations by private individuals in the fourth century, more than prohibitions in legislation.79 Private sacrifices are attested to have continued, especially in the countryside, where the role of landowners consenting to the continuance of sacrifices on their estates may have been significant. What happened in rural shrines on private properties was difficult to control.80 Some laws even reveal concern for the possibility that sacred objects and material for sacrifices could be taken and still be used for pagan rituals. A law of 407 ordered that anything consecrated to sacrifices should be removed from public places to protect those in error from temptation. Another law in 399 pointed out that rural shrines should be torn down without commotion or tumult. Moreover, it stressed that the material used for all superstitions should be burned. In 451 yet another law repeated the prohibition of animal sacrifices, as well as other rituals such as incense-​burning and libations.81 The abhorrence of sacrifice and pollution so vehemently advocated by bishops was not a concern to all Christians. This is why Maximus of Turin, Gaudentius of Brescia, and other bishops took great pains to address the Christian landowners in their bishoprics and make them concerned about the traditional local rituals performed on their properties. Quodvultdeus, the bishop of Carthage, lamented that some people, despite threats and torments, still sacrificed to ‘demons’. Referring to the traditional practices of peasants in the North Italian countryside, Zeno of Verona lay the blame on landowners who pretended to be unaware of the fuming shrines on their properties. According to him, they knew exactly every clod of earth, stone, and twig even on their neighbours’ domains.82 Furthermore, he complained about funerary banquets at the tombs of the ordinary deceased as

78. Salzman 2011, 167–​183. 79. Alan Cameron 2011, 51; see Lavan 2011a, xxxvi on the effects of laws against sacrifice, especially on the imperial elite. As indications of the disappearance of sacrifice from the public sphere, Alan Cameron 2011, 707 refers to the Calendar of 354 mentioning only incense-​burning and not animal sacrifices, and the Symmachorum/​ Nicomachorum diptych, which shows only incense-​burning and not animal sacrifice. Strictly speaking, these are argumenta e silentio. 80. On the continuity of sacrifices, see Trombley 1993a, 14–​16; Deligiannakis 2011, 312–​319. 81. CTh 16.10.20 (in 415), 16.10.16 (in 399), 16.10.23 (in 423). CIust (in 451). 82. Quodv. temp. barb. 1.4.11–​13 (CCSL 60, 429). Zeno Veron. serm. 1.25.10 (CCSL 22). Dölger 1950, 305, interprets Zeno’s statement ‘every clod of earth, stone, and twig’ to refer to the vestiges of rural sacrifices.

156  Time, place, practices well as at the memorial places of martyrs. Especially reprehensible to him was the contamination of divine sacraments by mixing profane fables with them. Zeno stressed that one should be attentive to the way one either consumed or offered sacrifice:  it was as detestable to perform sacrificial rituals as to eat the offered food.83 The ‘Christianization’ of animal sacrifice is a matter of scholarly dispute. Specifically, it is debated whether the ritual slaughter in honour of Christian saints is to be regarded as animal sacrifice. Frank Trombley has analysed the Christianization of traditional rituals in Asia Minor and Greece, finding interesting cases of Christianized forms of sacrifices. One of the Christian variants of sacrifice is the celebration sponsored by Nicholas, the hegumen of Hagia Sion (d. 565) in Lycia. Trombley writes that Nicholas made a concession to his congregation ‘by sponsoring sacrifices which used Christian cult formulae and were held at rural chapels’. As Trombley states, the ritual of sacrifice ‘lay deep in the ethos of rural village life’ and ‘whatever the cultic significance, it functioned as the symbol and instrument of the community’s solidarity’.84 In his carmen 20, Paulinus of Nola describes rituals performed in honour of Saint Felix in Nola in 406. The poem introduces three miracle stories concerning animals to be slaughtered. The first tells of a peasant who by a vow (votum) has promised to offer a hog to the saint but gives only the head and the innards from the belly to be distributed to the audience, keeping the proper meat of the trunk for himself. However, on his way home he falls from his horse and becomes paralysed. The horse then returns to Nola with the proper meat and the peasant repents, gives all the meat to the crowd, and is eventually healed. In the second story, the peasants had selected a piglet when it was still sucking milk in order to fulfil a vow they had made to the saint. The animal had become so fat that it could not move, and therefore the peasants have to take small piglets instead of the chosen one to St. Felix. However, the next day the chosen swine arrives on its own in Nola and offers itself voluntarily to be killed. The third narrative is about a heifer, also dedicated as a vow, that flees and goes to the slaughter by itself. It acts as if it is discharging the vow and shows delight when being offered as the victim.85 Paulinus represents the animals in the manner of ideal victims in traditional sacrificial rituals, where the whole efficacious performance of the ritual was based on the voluntary contribution of all participants, including the animal itself. Furthermore, the terms he uses remind us of the traditional Roman terminology of sacrificial rituals (votum solvere, victima, ferculum, epulum, daps).86 Modern scholarship has interpreted the rituals depicted in Paulinus’s poem as

83. Zeno Veron. serm. 1.25.11–​12. 84. Trombley 1985, 331, 339; Trombley 1993a, 10–​14, 34, 95. 85. Paulin. Nol. carm. 20.67–​431. 86. Versnel 1981, 147.

The transformation of practices  157 a continuation of local sacrifices, as a compromise to the Christian demands of bishops, and as slaughters reformulated into proper Christian behaviour by Christian leaders.87 In my view, it is helpful here to think of the issue of sacrifices or ritual slaughters according to the local religion model. It is not essential what name modern scholars decide to give to these rituals from our etic and modern perspective. What is more important is what it may have meant to the local population. The local population most probably invested the rituals with different meanings than the ecclesiastical elite. They fulfilled communal local needs, and at the same time they fulfilled the needs of Paulinus, the church leader.

87. Trout 1995, 281, also 284:  ‘Paulinus’ striking sympathy for a synthesis of traditional sacrificial practice and Christian worship at the tomb of Felix’. Grottanelli 2005, 387–​407: slaughters redirected into proper Christian behaviour. Frankfurter 2018, 120–​122 uses the term ‘popular animal slaughter’.


Economics of practices


n ­chapter 4 we discussed the limits of imperial and ecclesiastical power in the local realities, especially considering the local elites and patronage relationships in rural areas. This chapter addresses further questions of conflicts of interest in the regular routines of everyday life. I argue that, in many instances, economic issues carried more weight than the solemn proclamations of emperors and church councils. When the emperor chose a cult or a group as something to favour or support, he recognized that cult or religious group as a receiver of privileges and donations. The emperors’ economic support of Christian communities, either in the form of donations or exemption from taxes and curial duties (munera, leitourgia), strengthened the position of the churches.1 In many regions, churches came to own enormous properties and numbers of slaves. Consequently, the churches exercised local influence that was comparable with—​and later in the fifth century, even superior to—​the power of the provincial governors.2 The privileges of Christian communities and the clergy became an administrative and fiscal problem because emperors had to take a stand on which Christian sect would receive imperial support, such as in the Donatist dispute. In that instance, Constantine granted privileges to the Caecilianist clergy, thus excluding Donatists from receiving them.3 This meant that only those Christian communities recognized as ‘catholic’ by the emperor could obtain exemptions and donations. Privileges included gifts of money and, later, also gifts of corn; it was subsequently arranged that each town made annual provisions to ‘the ministers of the divine cult’.4

1. See CTh 16.2.1–​2, 15.5.1 on exemptions for the clergy, such as the exemption from the munera civilia (e.g. collection of taxes, distribution of supplies to the military, maintenance of public buildings). Constantine exempted clerics and bishops from public duties in the cities. According to Eus. eccl. 10.7.1–​2, the emperor explained the exemptions of the clergy thus: ‘[I]‌t seems that when they show greatest reverence to the deity, the greatest benefits mount up for the state’. In providing exemptions to the Christian clergy, emperors continued the tradition of privileges given to the Roman priestly colleges such as the Vestals. Lizzi 2009, 527–​529; Brown 2012, 35, 543; Lenski 2016, 105; Van Dam 2007a, 346. 2. Errington 2006, 171. 3. This was an efficient way to apply economic pressure on Donatists and avoid physical coercion. Gaddis 2005, 54, 125; Lenski 2016, 105. 4. Theodoret. eccl. 1.11.2–​3; Sozom. eccl. 5.5.2; see CIust 1.2.12 (in 451) on salaria in the form of alimentation. For the economic side of the ecclesiastical disputes, see Humfress 2007b, 259–​260 and Lizzi Testa 2009, 527–​530.

Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450. Maijastina Kahlos. Oxford University Press (2020). © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190067250.001.0001

Economics of practices  159 Competing for resources The imperial recognition of a Christian group as the true version of Christianity was important, not only from a doctrinal point of view, but from an economic one as well. The categories of ‘heretic’ and ‘catholic’ were thus used to distinguish between unlawful possessors of church land, property, and privileges and legal receivers of imperial support and privileges. A  large amount of property and wealth was at stake. A  group that lost rightful possession of the nomen Christianum—​and, subsequently, imperial support—​was at risk of losing properties (including church buildings) and privileges (exemptions from curial duties). Constantine stresses in a 326 law that ‘the privileges that have been granted in consideration of religion must benefit only the adherents of the catholic faith’. Thus, ‘heretics and schismatics shall not only be alien from these privileges but shall also be bound and subjected to various compulsory public services’. Constantine turned his order against ‘heretics and schismatics’ by cancelling their privileges. For his part, Constantine’s successor, Constantius II, hit at the pro-​Nicene clergy of Athanasius by depriving them of their immunities.5 Thus, the emperors could influence religious life, especially church politics, both in a positive way by their support and in a negative way by denying or withdrawing it. Towards the end of the fourth century, emperors recognized the Nicene interpretation as the orthodox form of Christianity. The meeting places of Christians who did not fall under the Nicene definition were not regarded as churches. This segregation had economic consequences: if meeting places did not have the status of churches, they did not enjoy all of the privileges that emperors provided. Nonetheless, the social reality usually followed its own course, which was not always what the emperors proclaimed. The withdrawal of imperial support hit those pagan cults that had traditionally been endowed with land, property, and exemptions from duties. As economic support for temple buildings ceased, they could not be maintained as vigorously as before. In some cities, in order to gain imperial favours, town councillors ceased to finance civic cults, including games. The inhabitants of the Phrygian town of Orcistus petitioned Constantine to grant them the status of an independent city (from the neighbouring city Nacolea). To strengthen their request, they declared themselves to all be Christians, ‘followers of the most holy religion’ (sectatores sanctissimae religionis), and after the imperial granting of independent city status, they pulled their support from public pagan cults.6 In this atmosphere of rivalry for resources, pagans had considerable support withdrawn, and some properties of pagan temples were even confiscated. It is understandable that pagan writers were prone to criticize the offerings heaped on Christian 5. Constantine: CTh 16.5.1 (in 326). Garnsey and Humfress 2001, 137; Galvão-​Sobrinho 2013, 135. 6. The procedure is documented in the inscription MAMA 7, 305 (=ILS 6091). Trans. Lee 2000, 90–​92; for a discussion, see Caseau 2011, 122–​123; Van Dam 2007b, 150–​162; Bleckmann 2006, 16–​17; Edwards 2006, 139.

160  Time, place, practices communities. Libanius disapproved of Constantine’s confiscations of temple properties and of his donations to churches. Furthermore, Libanius mentions that Constantius II ‘donated temples as gifts to his courtiers as if they were horses, slaves, or golden bowls’.7 The economic aspect was also apprehended by Christian polemicists such as Firmicus Maternus, who in his pamphlet against ‘profane religions’ encouraged emperors to remove ornaments from temples and take everything for their own use. According to Ammianus Marcellinus, it was rumoured that George, the bishop of Alexandria, maliciously informed Constantius about the enormous riches in the buildings of the city (probably referring to the great temples), which could benefit the imperial treasury.8 It is still debated in research to what extent the decline of the pagan temples was the result of a lack of imperial support, legislation, or other economic factors. Temple reconstructions (that we know of from commemorations in inscriptions) decline in absolute numbers from Constantine onwards. However, this is connected with a general reduction in the number of inscriptions commemorating public works.9 Emperors—​and, to a growing extent, aristocrats as well—​directed funds towards church building. Here we must stress regional differences, as in some areas specific cult places remained popular and were maintained by the local elite, while in other regions some temples and other cult places were abandoned. In North Africa at Cyrene, after the earthquake of 365, statues at the sanctuary of Isis and Serapis were repaired, and there are signs of continued ritual practice in the mid-​fourth century. In North Africa and Gaul, some temples seem to have been abandoned in the third century, long before the spread of Christianity. As Gareth Sears points out, however, not all cases of desertion of shrines indicate that devotion to the old cults had weakened. The popularity of individual cults waxed and waned over time. Furthermore, there may have been other factors, such as natural disasters, population movement, economic hardship, and military invasions. The impoverishment of the curial class, which had routinely maintained temples in the cities, may have been another reason.10 These regional differences are a good reminder not to regard paganism as an entity in relation to which changes happen universally, but rather as a variety of cults with a range of different adherents and circumstances. After Constantine provided privileges to the Christian clergy, a system prevailed in which Christian communities and the traditional civic Roman 7. Liban. or. 30.6–​7. In literary sources, Constantine’s monetary reform and construction of Constantinople are often connected with his confiscations. See Eus. v. Const. 3.54; Socr. eccl. 1.16; Sozom. eccl. 2.5.3; Liban. or. 62.8. Liban. or. 30.38 on Constantius II. Lizzi 2010, 89–​90; Hahn 2015, 119. 8. Firm. err. 28.6; Amm. 22.11.6. 9. Sears 2011, 232–​234 on North Africa. On the economic impact, see Bradbury 1995, 351–​353; Metzler 1981,  27–​40. 10. Sears 2011, 236–​239 with examples from North Africa; Goodman 2011, 170–​172 with examples from Gaul. Regional differences are stressed in Talloen and Vercauteren 2011, 348–​351. On the continuity of cult activities in Greece, see Saradi and Eliopoulos 2011, 286–​290.

Economics of practices  161 religion simultaneously enjoyed a privileged status recognized by the emperors. Furthermore, the emperor remained the head of the Roman civic religion, probably until the reign of Gratian, who may have been the first emperor to abandon the traditional title of pontifex maximus.11 In 382 Gratian removed the public subsidies of the civic cults, annulled the economic privileges of the Roman priests, and confiscated the revenues of some temples.12 It is Gratian’s procedures that Symmachus laments in his third relatio to Gratian’s successor, Valentinian II. Ambrose does not fail to mock Symmachus’s appeal, pointing out that its main concern was economic support, which he contrasts with Christian martyrdom: ‘We Christians glory in the blood spilt by martyrs. The pagans are upset by expense.’ Indeed, almost half of Symmachus’s appeal is dedicated to economic privileges and the revenues of temples.13 Confiscated temple properties could be donated to the churches. Rita Lizzi Testa states that, in some cases, transferring these temple properties was not understood as confiscations, because they had been integrated into the imperial res privata, meaning that they were regarded as the emperor’s private possessions and he could—​at least theoretically—​do whatever he liked with them.14 Competing philanthropic practices In addition to the changes in the directing of economic resources to cult places and communities, late Roman society saw another great transformation in the economics of practices. The philanthropy of the Christian churches gradually replaced the traditional Graeco-​Roman form of civic philanthropy in the fourth and fifth centuries. The private donations of rich benefactors were now mainly channelled via ecclesiastical leaders instead of town and city administrators. In Graeco-​Roman antiquity, philanthropy had been widely understood as beneficial practices for the community, such as charity, care for the poor, generosity, communal contributions, and even entertaining people by organizing spectacles.15 The wealthy elite of local Graeco-​Roman communities had maintained a multifaceted system of euergetism, financing spectacles and feasts, as 11. Dates between 375 and 383 have been suggested for the abandonment of the title pontifex maximus: 376 (Paschoud 1975, 77); 379 (Chastagnol 1960, 157; Noethlichs 1971, 202); 382 (Matthews 1973, 176; Cracco Ruggini 1979, 4 n. 3); 383 (Alan Cameron 1968, 96–​69); and after the fourth century (Alan Cameron 2016, 139–​159). 12. Gratian’s decree on subsidies and revenues has not been preserved, but CTh 16.10.20 in 415 refers to it. For a debate of Gratian’s procedures, see Alan Cameron 2011, 41–​46 vs. Lizzi Testa 2007, 251–​262. 13. Symm. rel. 3.11–​19; Ambr. ep. 73.11. Trans. Liebeschuetz 2005, 84. Symmachus’s motives have been evaluated in different ways in modern research: for surveys, see Klein 1972 and Canfora 1991. 14. Emperors could donate or sell temple properties: Lib. or. 17.7; Amm. 22.4.3; cf. CTh 16.10.20, 11.20.6; CIust 11.70.4. Lizzi Testa 2010, 90. Furthermore, it was no novelty that emperors or army commanders took over temple possessions as war booty during civil wars. 15. Philanthropic practices were described by the terms philanthropia, euergesia, beneficia, eleutheriotes, liberalitas, and munus. The philanthropist was called an euergetes or benefactor. Christian writers used the terms agape and caritas, which had divergent nuances but also much in common with euergesia, beneficia, and other terms.

162  Time, place, practices well as public buildings such as temples. The local elite contributed to food delivery, water supply, teaching, nursing, and care for poor orphans and widows. Philanthropic practices were conducted by private benefactors, by emperors, and by city administrators from private donations. Ancient euergetism was a combination of voluntary generosity (liberalitas) and a moral obligation to contribute (munus). Not all donations to the community were voluntary and spontaneous: Roman magistrates and curiales of the towns had to finance spectacles and feasts for the urban community.16 As is well known, the curial class in late antique towns suffered from considerable financial troubles because of these duties. The priests responsible for the imperial cult—​pagans as well as Christians—​still had a duty to organize races and spectacles in honour of the emperors.17 The shift from traditional civic forms of largesse to the Christian mode of philanthropy called charity was a great change in the economic life of late Roman society. Donations were to a great extent given through the churches and no longer through the urban administration for the use of the community. However, both types of giving existed side by side at the same time, and the civic philanthropy financed by the local elites still continued in the fourth and fifth centuries (for instance, in North Africa, as inscriptions and recurrent complaints by church leaders show).18 Bishops could represent themselves as sponsors in a similar manner as old civic benefactors, as exemplified in an inscription from Asia Minor in which Eugenius, the bishop of Laodicea, reports to have been the donor for the church building.19 The celebration of festivals had been a traditional part of urban euergetism. In many festivals, animal sacrifice was performed, and, after the ritual, sacrificial meat was distributed to the participants. Festivals were thus an important part of the communal food supply. Benefactors distributed sacrificial meat, vegetables, and fruit, as well as money, in these feasts, and these donations were like income transfers from the wealthy to the poorer members of the community. This communality had its darker sides, too:  failing to attend communal feasting could occasionally be interpreted as misanthropy (for instance, in the case of Jews). A few ecclesiastical writers, such as Augustine and John Chrysostom, blamed civic benefactors for seeking glory and prestige for themselves. Attacks against wealthy donors were part of general attacks against the rich; thus, they were a literary topos. However, the use of topoi does not necessarily mean that they were not also used to discuss real-​life situations. Therefore, these attacks imply that there was rivalry between the ecclesiastical authorities and local urban 1 6. Gellner and Waterbury 1977; Carlà and Gori 2014; Brown 2012, 59–​60. 17. After Constantine, imperial worship was purged of sacrifices, but spectacles were continuously organized. Both pagans and Christians were recruited to act as priests of imperial worship. 18. Lepelley 1975, 27; Bradbury 1995, 353, and Natali 1975, 56 stress the continuity of civic philanthropy in the fourth century. 19. MAMA 1, 171; Mitchell 2007, 335–​336.

Economics of practices  163 administration for private donations. Did urban civic euergetism in the form of festivals and sacrifices annoy ecclesiastical leaders because, in their eyes, it had a ‘pagan’ tint to it? Many cults of the old gods with their communal feasting were supported by private finances, even though people did not necessarily understand their participation as something emphatically ‘pagan’.20 In the competition of philanthropic practices, church leaders aimed to reinforce Christian identity by construing a sharp difference between their own practices and those of pagans. Augustine disparages his Christian parishioners for taking part in the traditional celebrations of the New Year (Kalendae Ianuariae). He declares, Let them give presents—​you, give alms. Let them be summoned by the songs of luxuries—​you, summon others with sermons on the Scriptures. Let them run to the theatre—​you, run to church. Let them get drunk—​ you, engage in fasting.21 Augustine builds a contradistinction between luxury-​ enjoying pagans—​ including those whom he regards as pagan-​minded Christians—​and genuine Christians with their decent alternatives. Strenae, presents that were traditionally given on the Kalendae Ianuariae, are contrasted with Christian alms. Augustine adds that true Christians must live in a different way than pagans and prove their diverging faith, hope, and love by means of their diverging mores.22 With the distinction ‘we practise caritas—​they do not’, church leaders sought to strengthen Christian identity and distance their parishioners from what they considered the pagan world of feasts and spectacles.23 We will see later on that, given the realities of communal life, this strategy was not always very successful. An interesting aspect of this image of Christians practising charity and pagans failing to practise it is the Christian portrayal of Julian as imitating Christian charitable institutions. Gregory of Nazianzus claimed that the emperor tried to establish a pagan church as an equivalent to the Christian one.24 Furthermore, the 20. According to Bradbury 1995, 332, 350–​351, traditional euergetism was in decline in the third century, and, consequently, sacrifices decreased with it. Many traditional cults had less economic support during the recession of the third century. 21. Aug. serm. 198.2. 22. Aug. serm. 198.3. 23. The distinction of ‘we practise caritas—​they do not’ appears in earlier Christian literature as a part of Christian identity-​building. The best-​known example (in Eus. eccl. 7.22.7–​10) comes from Dionysius, the bishop of Alexandria, who tells us about an epidemic disease in Alexandria in 262. In this account, Christians are presented as taking care of the sick and the deceased ‘with extraordinary love and brotherly affection’, and pagans as acting ‘in precisely the opposite manner’, casting the sick away and even shunning their loved ones. 24. Greg. Naz. or. 43.34–​37. The image of Julian as imitating Christian institutions portrayed by Gregory of Nazianzus was influential, and it has been accepted to a great extent by modern research. For a survey of the literature, see Elm 2012, 326–​327. As Rowland Smith 1995, 6–​7, 110–​111 stresses, the influence of Christian models should not be overemphasized in Julian’s other projects of reorganizing traditional cults. Julian speaks of philanthropia in an authentic letter (ep. 89a Bidez–​Cumont =ep. 20 Wright), advising the archiereus Theodorus to see that Hellenic priests show ‘philanthropia towards those who deserve it’, but this is mainly a philosophical discussion not intended for practical implementation.

164  Time, place, practices fifth-​century church historian Sozomen depicts Julian’s attempt to bring about a new bloom of Hellenism. According to Sozomen, Julian realized that his efforts had been futile in spite of temples being reopened, sacrifices being performed, and old feasts being celebrated in all the towns. Furthermore, in Sozomen’s narrative, Julian knew beforehand that when his support for paganism ceased, the scales would eventually tip in favour of Christianity. The emperor thus understood that the most significant factor in favour of the Christians was their way of life and morals, and this is why he tried to develop for pagan temples a similar order and discipline as Christianity. Moreover, Sozomen tells us, Julian not only established monasteries for men and women, but also hostels for the relief of strangers and the poor and for other philanthropic purposes. As his evidence for all this, Sozomen quotes a letter by Julian that proves the inferiority of paganism and the superiority of triumphant Christianity; thus, despite all of his energetic attempts, the emperor failed and he had to admit it, because Christians were overwhelming in their charity and organization.25 Sozomen’s account shows how the notion of Christian triumph based on the Christians’ supreme and genuine charity was an integral part of Christian self-​understanding. Christian writers underlined that only Christians had caritas, while others did not, even though they pretended to have it; thus, Christian caritas was genuine, whereas others only had an artificial form of it. In a letter traditionally attributed to Julian, the emperor is represented as writing that the popularity of Christianity was based on the philanthropia practised by Christians. This letter has been the main evidence for the idea that the emperor wanted to establish philanthropic institutions in imitation of the Christian works of charity. However, Peter Van Nuffelen has now shown that this letter to Arsacius, the archiereus of Galatia, is a fifth-​century fake.26 Consequently, this letter illustrates Christian fifth-​century identity-​building rather than Julian’s preoccupations. In this letter, the emperor is depicted as worried about those adherents of Hellenism who did not do anything for those in need of support. The Hellenic religion did not prosper, as he wished it to, and that was the fault of those who professed it. ‘Julian’ states that the popularity of Christianity, which he calls atheism (atheotes), is due to the ‘philanthropy towards aliens’ practised by Christians, as well as the care of tombs and strict way of life that Christians pretended to have. He mentions the Christians’ philanthropia towards strangers, their care for graves, and their devoutness, and he notes that Hellenic priests should practise these kinds of virtues. Thus, ‘Julian’ tells Arsacius and all the 25. Sozom. eccl. 5.16. Modern scholarship has often followed this line of thought, according to which charitable practices were a significant factor in the expansion of Christianity in Antiquity; see, e.g., Stark 1996, 74–​76; Hopkins 1999, 126–​127; Chadwick 1967, 56. 26. Iul. ep. 84a Bidez–​Cumont (=ep. 22 Wright =ep. 49 Hertlein). Van Nuffelen 2002, 136–​159; Elm 2012, 326–​ 327; pace Bouffartique 2010, 111 n. 10, as Bouffartique still regards the letter as an authentic letter by Julian. On the letter, see Kabiersch 1960, 75; Lee 2000, 95–​98.

Economics of practices  165 priests in Galatia to establish hostels (xenodocheia) in every town so that strangers could profit from Hellenic philanthropia.27 Blaming civic philanthropy Ecclesiastical leaders condemned feasts and spectacles funded by local aristocrats and curiales especially, because, in their eyes, these feasts were ‘pagan’ and competed for popularity with Christian rituals during Christian feast days. However, they also disapproved of the extravagance of feasts and spectacles, spending funds that could have been used in a more expedient way, as well as the self-​ importance and love of glory of the benefactors. In their argumentation, bishops stressed how dissimilar the motives behind worldly euergetism and Christian charity were.28 Those who practised worldly euergetism only sought their own glory, whereas those who practised Christian charity did it for the love of God and for the glory of God. Thus, ecclesiastical leaders such as Augustine constructed a difference between Christian caritas and worldly euergetism in order to reinforce Christian self-​understanding. Augustine often discusses euergetism and charity in his sermons and psalm commentaries. For example, he disparages the rich who organize spectacles, along with their love of empty glory, pride, and arrogance: these people puff themselves up as if filled with smoke (that is, vain pride); they are empty inside and swollen outside (inflati typho, inanes intus, foris tumidi). How much do they donate? How much do they waste? They spill the vigour not only of their inheritance, but also of their souls. Augustine states that the omnipotent God condemns all this, with a reference to the separation scene at the Last Judgement (Matt. 25:43–​45), ‘I was naked and you did not clothe me’. He elaborates on the theme of clothing when he discusses the exquisite dresses that the actors and victors of hunting spectacles receive as donations. Augustine stresses that it is the people who demand gifts for the fighters in hunting spectacles and all that is connected with the entertainment of spectacles. Because the people do not demand anything for the poor, the poor will not receive anything. Augustine refers here to postulationes populi, the ‘demands of the people’, which directed streams of funds from benefactors and formed an essential part of the euergetism in towns.29 In his argumentation, Augustine depicts urban euergetism as antisocial, implying that funds are being wasted on spectacles, luxurious gifts to the actors, animal fighters and drivers, and all other kinds of vanity, while the poor 27. Iul. ep. 84a Bidez–​Cumont. 28. See Veyne 1969, 806, who distinguishes between charity and euergetism:  when observed from a closer perspective, they differ in terms of needs, receivers, institutions, and motives. However, as Veyne states, when observed from a broader perspective, they can be seen as having the same functions and reactions. See also Brown 2012,  53–​61. 29. Aug. enarr. ps. 149.10. Hugoniot 2002, 180–​181; Lepelley 1975, 26–​31.

166  Time, place, practices suffer from hunger and cold.30 This is achieved by turning the traditional model of euergetism upside down: while earthly euergetism and the communal feasting connected with it had previously been understood as philanthropy, and avoiding these feasts as misanthropy, in Augustine’s inverted reinterpretation vis-​à-​ vis Christianity, urban euergetism was antisocial and real misanthropy. Those who practised urban euergetism only sought vainglory, grandeur, and power, whereas the church practised charity quietly, without further interest in earthly glory. Civic euergetism was represented as calculated, corrupt, and selfish, and something that could not be compared to Christian caritas. In this opposition, it did not matter who the sponsors of urban euergetism were—​for there were both Christian and pagan sponsors. In any case, urban euergetism became labelled as ‘pagan’. Likewise, John Chrysostom wrote prolifically on charity and alms, stressing that, for a Christian, the motive for charity should never be one’s own glory but rather the feeling of pity. Distributing money was not in itself almsgiving: giving because of pity was almsgiving. People in theatres gave money to prostitutes and actors, and that was not almsgiving, even though money was distributed.31 It was the motive that counted. John Chrysostom contrasted the civic duties of organizing the food supply and spectacles by the ruling elite with Christian religious ascesis. Chrysostom mentioned the many lavish dinners and grand spectacles arranged by the wealthy. Many of the rich, when pursuing popularity, disbursed their fortunes. In his treatise Vainglory and the Right Way for Parents to Bring Up Their Children, John Chrysostom complains how incredible sums of money are wasted in pursuing vainglory: silver and gold (as much as 10,000 talents), horses, clothes, slaves, and much else for organizing spectacles and feasts.32 He contrasts this waste of funds for the sake of earthly glory and popularity with seeking heavenly glory and the favour of God, asking, Which is better, to be admired on earth or in heaven? To be esteemed by a human or by God? To your disadvantage or to your advantage? To carry the wreath of glory for only one day or forever?33 In his condemnation of civic euergetism, Chrysostom also sets up a contrast between the local and the universal, blaming civic euergetism for parochialism and exclusivism restricted only to one’s own town. These rich people gave as their excuse that the people in need of support were refugees, strangers, people who were convicted to be whipped, and all those who arrived in towns from elsewhere. In 30. Aug. serm. 32.10 disparages a rich earthly man who subdues a poor one and despises a human who is his peer. A rich man organizes animal fighting, supplying bears and distributing his wealth to hunting fighters, and at the same time Christ is suffering from hunger among the poor. 31. Ioh. Chrys. hom. in 2 Cor. 13. 32. Ioh. Chrys. educ. lib. 5. Natali 1975, 43–​45. 33. Ioh. Chrys. hom. in Ioh. 42.

Economics of practices  167 John Chrysostom’s view, this kind of segregation is against the Christian spirit. He stresses that Christian charity is universal and belongs to everyone.34 In the middle of his disparagement, John Chrysostom nevertheless understands that not all civic philanthropy practised by the local wealthy is voluntary—​he admits that euergetism is a social obligation. The curial class in towns was increasingly burdened by the social obligations of euergetism in Late Antiquity.35 In their sermons and treatises, church leaders aimed at outlining who had the right to practise philanthropy, and in which form—​civic euergetism or Christian charity—​on the basis of what premises and which motives were involved. Euergetism and the bonds of patronage, gifts and counter-​gifts, services and counter-​services, were a complicated system in Graeco-​Roman Antiquity. In premodern societies such as that of the Roman Empire, which were based on patronage, giving and receiving gifts symbolized communal relations; the gift always had a social meaning and important consequences.36 In the fourth and fifth centuries, there was keen competition for the power and authority that charity brought. By means of charity, the giver and the receiver were equally bound in the relationship of patronage. It was the duty of the ruling elites and patrons to give gifts, make donations, and practise charity. Correspondingly, the receiver was bound by means of gifts to be the client of the benefactor as part of a broader network of duties.37

34. Ioh. Chrys. hom. elemos. 6 (PG 51, 269–​270). 35. Ioh. Chrys. hom in 2.  Cor. 12 (PG 51, 488). On the economic burdens carried by the curial class, see Garnsey and Humfress 2001, 94; Liebeschuetz 1992, 13. 36. For euergetism, patronage, and gifts in Roman Antiquity, see Lomas and Cornell 2003, 1–​11; Saller 1982, 22–​39. On the giving of gifts as a cultural and social phenomenon, see Veyne 1969, 785–​825; Veyne 1976; and the classical treatise Essai sur le don: Forme et raison de l’échange dans les sociétés archaïques (1925) by Marcel Mauss. 37. For bishops as powerful patrons, see Lepelley 1998, 17–​33. See Klingshirn 1985, 198–​202 for an analysis of the fifth-​century bishop Caesarius of Arles, who widened his network of influence by means of charitable practices and ably translated ‘bonds of charity’ into links of patronage.


Sacred places and spaces


n the wake of the ‘spatial turn’ in historical studies, space has entered into the research on late antique religious changes. These alterations occurred both in time and place.1 Space is understood as both tangible material environments and social-​symbolic spaces, and thereby also as a means for the formation of personal and communal identities. Meanings and values are produced and reproduced in places, and we also see this happening in fourth-​ and fifth-​century transformations and Christian appropriations of places. As Henri Lefebvre has shown, ideologies (and religions among them) can be comprehended through how they operate in social space and how this social space is controlled.2 Spaces can reveal social relations, and they can thereby tell us about power structures. In Late Antiquity, the concepts of sacred and profane, as well as private and public, were redefined in many urban and rural environments. These binaries were by no means fixed, as we may perceive a crossing and merging of boundaries. In the location of a sacred place, whether it was a shrine, temple, church, or synagogue, there were both continuities and ruptures.3 Even though a pagan temple had been destroyed, desacralized, or abandoned from regular use, devotees could continue to visit the cult place and perform sacrifices or pray, as was the case with the temple of Apollo at Daphne, the shrine of Asclepius at Aigeai in Cilicia, the sanctuary of Asclepius in Athens, and possibly even the ruined temple of Artemis in Ephesus.4 At Halasarna on the island of Kos, archaeological evidence at the sanctuary of Apollo and Heracles indicates that a pagan cult continued in a demonumentalized form at the site of a temple that had fallen out of use. Pagan cult places also saw continuity as Christian

1. Day, Hakola, Kahlos, and Tervahauta 2016, 1–​4. See Warf and Arias 2009, 1 for space as ‘a social construction relevant to the understanding of the different histories of human subjects and to the production of cultural phenomena’. 2. Lefebvre 1974, English translation Lefebvre 1991, has distinguished between ‘natural’ or ‘absolute places’ and ‘social places’ as formed by groups and individuals. For a discussion on power and social space, see Lenski 2009, 14. 3. Literature on sacred places is abundant. Just to mention a few, see MacCormack 1990, 7–​14; Soler 2010b, 273–​286; Machado 2010, 287–​317; Sotinel 2010a; Sotinel 2010b, 319–​349; Sotinel 2010c. 4. E.g., Liban. or. 17.22 (the Temple of Apollo at Daphne); or. 1.143; or. 30.39 (the shrine of Asclepius at Aigeai in Cilicia in 371); Marin. v. Procli 29 (the sanctuary of Asclepius in Athens); Damasc. v. Isid. fr. 145 (Hegias of Athens). Isidore of Pelusium (ep. 1.55, PG 78, 217) implies that pagans performed rituals within the precincts of the ruined temple of Artemis in Ephesus. Deligiannakis 2011, 312 with examples.

Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450. Maijastina Kahlos. Oxford University Press (2020). © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190067250.001.0001

Sacred places and spaces  169 church buildings. Some places and buildings were shifted from the public sphere to the private, and vice versa.5 In his appeal for temples, Libanius stressed their significance for both towns and the country, and he called them ‘the eyes of cities’ and ‘the soul of the countryside’.6 The identity of many religious groups was rooted in specific places, which were associated with meanings derived from mythology, history, and tradition. Memories of the past had remained visible in these places for centuries as buildings, artwork (such as statues), and inscriptions, and they were celebrated in poetry and civic festivities.7 The importance of particular locations for many pagan cults was understood by legislators, bishops, and church councils, who tried to discourage people from visiting their holy places—​by forbidding visits, but also by closing, destroying, and profaning shrines.8 This could be a fatal blow to local cults. Modern researchers have seen these restrictions, especially the prohibition of sacrifice and the closing of temples, as undermining local cults and, consequently, weakening the cultural identity and autonomy of the Mediterranean cities. Certainly, there were also other factors that led to the waning of local activities, such as the economic problems of the curiales. Put very bluntly, specific sacred sites were not as crucial for Christianity as for local cults. However, over the course of the fourth and fifth centuries, Christian local communities developed a sacred topography of their own, comparable to pagan holy places in terms of their significance to local identities. As the Christian churches began gradually to dominate the landscape in the cities, and later little by little in the countryside, there was competition for supremacy in the public space. Public monuments, statues, and inscriptions were replaced with church buildings, martyr shrines, and icons. In the modern research, the Christian appropriation of space is called the conquest of both place and time.9 Temples were the most conspicuous element in the pagan sacred landscape. Being such a visible component, they drew the greatest part of the ecclesiastical leaders’ contempt and condemnation, but they were not the only holy places. We hear about rural celebrations and rituals around altars, sacred enclosures, columns, stone basins, hearths, pits, trees, rocks, springs, roadways, and hilltops. This caused anxiety for bishops, since demonic powers were believed to live in these sacred places in nature. Shrines that had been built could be destroyed, but natural sites could not be annihilated in a simple assault. In holy springs in Britannia and Germania, and to a lesser extent in Gaul, offerings of coins and

5. Deligiannakis 2011, 322–​323. 6. Liban. or. 30.9; 30.42. 7. Machado 2006, 157–​192. 8. CTh 16.10.19 (in 407); CTh 16.10.4 (in 417) ordered all temples to be closed. On the significance of locality, see Beard, North, and Price 1998, 167–​168; Brown 1992, 19; Salzman 1990, 20. 9. Markus 1990, 140–​142; Salzman 1999, 123–​134. On the rapid construction of churches in the fourth century, see Pietri 1993, 706–​709.

170  Time, place, practices artefacts continued in the fourth century and even later, suggesting the continuation of veneration of springs.10 Shared cult places Many springs were in sacred locations shared by several religious groups. Even though many groups maintained the separateness and uniqueness of their sacred sites, and thereby their own identity, they could easily move into locations held by other groups. Late antique people seem to have commuted between spaces or between different interpretations of the same space.11 People engaged in cult activities and processions in the same locations, sometimes as separate groups side by side, and sometimes even together. One of the most famous shared holy places is the Oak of Mamre with a spring (near Hebron in Palestine), which commemorated the appearance of the angels to Abraham. The church historian Sozomen writes that people from surrounding regions gathered annually to celebrate at the site during the summer season. This was also an occasion for markets. Sozomen depicts Mamre as representing a great assemblage of different religious groups, all of whom had a good reason to honour the place: Indeed, this feast is diligently frequented by all nations: by the Jews, because they boast of their descent from the patriarch Abraham, by the Hellenes, because angels there appeared to humans, and by Christians, because he who for the salvation of humankind was born of a virgin afterwards manifested himself there to a godly man.12 Furthermore, Sozomen describes the religious practices that these groups performed at Mamre: Here some prayed to the God of all; some called upon the angels, poured out wine, burnt incense, or offered an ox, or he-​goat, a sheep, or a cock. Each one brought the most cherished and beautiful animal, and after carefully husbanding it through the entire year, offered it according to promise as provision for that feast, both for himself and his household. . . . No one during the time of the feast drew water from that well; for according to

10. Sulpicius Severus (v. Mart. 13–​15) tells us of Martin of Tours’ attacks against sacred trees. Aug. ep. 47.4 to Publicola admitted that natural phenomena such as the sun and moon could not be attacked. In the fifth century, Caesarius of Arles (serm. 13.5, 14.4, 53.1, 54.5, 229.2, 229.4) condemned prayers and vows at springs, as well as throwing bread into them and lighting tapers next to them. Lavan 2011a, xli; Goodman 2011, 167; Sauer 2011, 505–​550. 11. Day, Hakola, Kahlos, and Tervahauta 2016, 1–​4. See Mulryan 2011, 217 on ‘peaceful, if perhaps occasionally uncomfortable, harmony’ of the pagan and Christian elements of the city. 12. Sozom. eccl. 2.4 (SC 306, 244–​248). Translation NPNF, modified. Graf 2015, 79; Wallraff 2011, 11–​12. Different people were attracted to the place because of its reputation for holiness; Key Fowden 2002, 126–​129 reminds us of the economic aspect, pointing out that Mamre was a marketplace already in the early Roman period.

Sacred places and spaces  171 Hellenic usage, some placed burning lamps near it, some poured out wine or cast in cakes, and others, coins, myrrh, or incense.13 This shared cult place with common feasting was not looked upon favourably by the imperial family. Sozomen tells us that Constantine’s mother-​ in-​ law, Eutropia, who had attended the Christian prayers at Mamre, complained to the emperor about the shared celebrations. Consequently, in a letter to the bishops of Palestine, Constantine rebuked the bishops for permitting ‘a holy place to be defiled by impure libations and sacrifices’. Demolition of altars and images was ordered, and a church was founded at Mamre. Constantine decreed that neither libations nor sacrifices were to be offered at the site, only the cult of the Christian god according to the regulations of the church. Thus, we witness not only the conquest of place by the dominant religion (or on its way to become dominant) enhanced by the imperial authority, but also disciplining by the ecclesiastical elite of practices shared at the grassroots level.14 A similar shared sacred location was the so-​called Fountain of the Lamps in Corinth. The fountain had been used for Hellenistic and Roman baths, as well as for the nearby Asclepieion, until perhaps the earthquake in 375 or the attack of Alaric’s Goths in 396, after which the baths were abandoned. From the late fourth century until the late sixth century, however, the fountain was still used as a cult place for pagans and Christians alike. Coins found there date from the mid-​fifth century to the late sixth century. Four thousand lamps have been excavated at the site, half of them intact. Moreover, four lead curse tablets have been found.15 One of the lamps has a cross and an inscription that refers to ‘angels that dwell on the waters’. The cult of water angels (angeloi), parallel to nymphs, makes the popularity of the place understandable. In his well-​ known homilies against Jews, John Chrysostom complained about Christians who participated in Jewish festivals at Antioch. For example, he laments: The festivals of the wretched and miserable Jews which follow one after another in succession—​Trumpets, Booths, the Fasts—​are about to take place. And many who belong to us and say they believe in our teaching attend their festivals, and even share in their celebrations and join in their fasts. It is this evil practice I now wish to drive from the church.16

13. Sozom. eccl. 2.4 (SC 306, 244–​248). Translation, NPNF modified. 14. Sozom. eccl. 2.4 (SC 306, 244–​248). Translation, NPNF modified. Sozomen elaborates on the short mention in Eus. v. Const. 3.51–​52, which reproduces Constantine’s letter to the bishops of Palestine. On the role of Constantine’s mother-​in-​law, Eutropia, see Van Dam 2007b, 301. 15. Rothaus 1996, 299–​307; Saradi and Elipoulos 289–​291. 16. Ioh. Chrys. adv. Iud. 1. Trans. Harkins 1977. The research on Judaizing Christians is vast; just to mention a few, see Soler 2010a, 281–​291; Perrin 2010a, 47–​62; Wilken 1983, 35, 64; Kinzig 1991, 27–​53; Lieu, North, and Rajak 1992,  6–​7.

172  Time, place, practices What his homilies reveal first and foremost is the fact that his Christian congregation was far from homogeneous and united in its views and practices. John Chrysostom even questions whether these ‘judaising’ Christians are real Christians at all (in his view, of course, they are not). He makes participation an issue of loyalty: Are you a Christian? Why do you then so eagerly go with the Jews? So, are you a Jew? Why do you then come to church? Is a Persian not loyal to the Persians? Is a barbarian not interested in barbarian issues? He who lives among the Romans—​does he not live according to our [Roman] ways? . . . Why do you mix what cannot be mixed? They have crucified Christ whom you worship. Can you see how great the difference is?17 Rhetoric of purification and reality of aesthetization The examples of Mamre and Corinth show that different groups could interact in shared religious places. However, their claims for specific spaces could sometimes escalate into conflicts, as we have already seen in our discussion on authority and aggression (­chapter 5).18 The most fervent Christians demanded devastation of temples and their ornaments, such as the statues of gods (for Christians, these idols were inhabited by demons). The destruction of pagan cult places could be justified as purification; a law of 435 ordered authorities to demolish pagan shrines and purify them by placing there the ‘sign of the revered Christian religion’.19 In hagiographies, the triumphant saint is depicted destroying temples and/​or neutralizing the demonic influence of pagan places with the sign of the cross. There are several extant statues marked with crosses; modern scholars usually interpret this as a way to Christianize them and/​or to drive demons away.20 On the other hand, as we saw in c­ hapter  5, emperors issued laws to protect temples from attacks and plundering. As public buildings, temples were fiscal (imperial) property. They were regarded not only as cult places, but also as civic monuments, and they were valued as aesthetic objects.21 Prudentius, 17. Ioh. Chrys. adv. Iud. 4.3, also 2.1, 7.1, 8.1–​2. On similar complaints about ‘cultic leakage’ by Cyril of Alexandria, see McGuckin 2003, 226–​227. 18. Schmitzer 2012, 237–​362. 19. CTh 16.10.25 (in 435), also 16.10.19 (in 407). On the Christian purification of pagan shrines, see Saradi-​ Mendelovici 1990, 47–​61; Saradi 2008, 113–​134. Both pagans and Christians understood images of gods as possessing power and life; for pagans, this presence was divine, and for Christians it was demonic. For an analysis of images in Late Antiquity, see Pekáry 2002; Francis 2012, 146–​147. 20. Saradi and Eliopoulos 2011, 296–​297. 21. CTh 16.10.19: temples in public use; 16.10.3, 16.10.18: respect for the monuments of the past; 16.10.8: the aesthetic value of temples and images as an acceptable reason for keeping temple buildings open; 16.10.15:  the ornaments of temples as works of art; this law of Honorius reveals that some fanatical Christians had used the prohibitions of sacrifice as a justification for devastating and/​or robbing temples; see Goddard 2006, 282–​286; Hahn 2015, 120–​121; Trombley 1993a, 26. Libanius (or. 30.43) was keen to remind Theodosius I that temples were imperial property. He (or. 11.125) also called temples ‘adornment and protection to the city’.

Sacred places and spaces  173 who advocated the ending of sacrifices and all demonic idolatry, by no means demanded the annihilation of pagan monuments. On the contrary, he insisted (using Theodosius I as his mouthpiece) that after the works of art had been completely purified of pollution, including the blood and smoke of sacrifices, their real splendour could come forth: Wash the marbles that are bespattered and stained with putrid blood, you nobles! Let your statues, the works of great artists, be allowed to remain clean; let these be the fairest ornaments of our native city and let no debased usage pollute the monuments of art and turn it into sin.22 In this manner, the temples and images within them came to be recognized for their artistic value rather than as cultic objects. Similarly, Christian writers discussed the aesthetic value of the old literature and education for Christians; in these debates, Basil of Caesarea and Augustine took a moderate stance, emphasizing the ‘correct use’ of the ‘pagan’ achievements.23 There is some archaeological evidence that temples were converted for public use as ‘museums’ and ‘art galleries’ (as they are called in modern terminology). Modern research has seen this as an attempt to preserve traditional urban sites in a new manner. Imperial legislation allowed the preservation of temples and statues if they were not used for illicit activities (that is, cult practices).24 In ­chapter 5 we discussed the attacks against pagan temples and the plundering of their material and ornaments. The circulation of material from buildings, both secular and religious, was common in Graeco-​Roman Antiquity. Therefore, not all reuse or plunder originated from religious zeal; the availability of easy-​to-​ use material simply led people to exploit the opportunity.25 Thus, in some cases at least, as Jitse Dijsktra has shown from archaeological evidence, temples were destroyed not because of religious motivations, but with the aim of retrieving building material.26 Practical purposes rather than ideological motives were at work. This does not mean, however, that some individuals could not have acted for both reasons. We find different forces and interests influencing the status of temples. On the one hand, imperial legislation protected temples and their ornaments as civic monuments and works of art. On the other hand, a law of 397 22. Prud. c. Symm. 1.501–​505. Trans. Thomson, modified (LCL 387, 389). The words belong to a fictional speech of Theodosius I  in which he admonishes the Senate to convert to Christianity. It was credible to use Theodosius I as the mouthpiece for the aesthetic value of temples and images, because in CTh 16.10.8 (in 382) he noted the artistic value of temples and their ornaments: ars pretio quam divinitate metienda. Discussions: Gnilka 1994, 397–​415 (=repr. Gnilka 2001, 457–​473); Salzman 1999, 131–​132; Kristensen 2013, 27; Lepelley 1992, 59; Lepelley 2010, 482; Alan Cameron 2011, 348; Lavan 2011b, 442. 23. Rousseau 1999, 172–​187. 24. Sears 2011, 242–​245; Gutsfeld 2009, 355–​364. 25. Stewart 1999, 159–​189; Sauer 2003, 102; Bonnie 2016, 190–​211. 26. Dijkstra 2011, 406–​409.

174  Time, place, practices permitted the reuse of materials from temples in the construction and reconstruction of walls, aqueducts, roads, and bridges. In these cases, the reuse was for civic structures, not for private use.27 In the late fifth century at Palaiopolis on Corfu, the bishop Jovianus did not hide the fact that he destroyed at least one temple and used the material for building his own church; here he erected an inscription in which he recorded the devastation of ‘the temples of the Hellenes’.28 The conversion of pagan cult places into Christian churches has raised much discussion in scholarship. It seems that this did not occur as widely as has previously been assumed.29 Dijkstra argues this to be the case in late antique Egypt, where temple conversions were only one minor feature in a complex process of a changing sacred landscape. In regard to North Africa, Gareth Sears points out that it is difficult to make any firm statements about the frequency of temple conversions for Christian use in the fourth and fifth centuries. In some cases, inscriptions reveal that a temple was transformed into secular use. As Georgios Deligiannakis points out, ‘the real extent of the phenomenon in terms of central versus local-​based motivation, chronologies and actual numbers, can vary and is a complex question’.30 As symbolic statements, reuse and conversion were nonetheless powerful signs of the takeover of public space by the dominant religion. This is manifested in an early fifth-​century lintel inscription, which celebrates a church built inside the enclosure of a small temple in the village of Saisaniyeh near Saita: Jesus Christ, the son of God dwells here. Nothing evil shall enter! [alfa] [cross] [omega] Iordanes [cross]. Help!31 Richard Bayliss distinguishes between two different types of temple conversion. ‘Indirect conversion’ meant that no standing material from the shrine was taken, but the church was built within the temenos of the shrine or parts of the temple were reused; ‘direct conversion’ meant that the standing material from a sanctuary was materially restructured into a church, and thus the church preserved in situ some remnants of the temple.32 It seems that temples were converted into

27. CTh 15.1.36 (in 397). Sears 2011, 239–​242; Leone 2013, 60–​65. 28. Bowden 2001, 63; Makrides 2009, 127. 29. For a review of the scholarship, see Emmel, Gotter, and Hahn 2008b, 1–​22; Talloen and Vercauteren 2011, 372–​374. The recent research has largely been the response to Deichmann 1954, 1228–​1241, which highlights the phenomenon of temple conversions. 30. Dijkstra 2011, 430–​431; Deligiannakis 2011, 324. See Sears 2011, 250–​252 on temple conversions into churches claimed to have happened in the late fourth to early fifth centuries in Sufetula, Mactar, Thuburbo Maius, Lepcis Magna, Thamugadi, Tipasa in Mauretania, and Cyrene; however, the datings for these transformations are problematic. 31. IGLS 4050. Trombley 1993b, 159. As Trombley 1993b, 258 notes, Christian lintel inscriptions (such as one from Refadeh, Syria: ‘Jesus the Nazarene, who was born of Maria, the son of God, lives here. Let nothing evil enter here!’) resemble pagan ones (such as the one from Red feh as well: ‘Herakles, the splendidly victorious son of Zeus lives here. Let nothing evil enter!’). 32. Bayliss 2004, ch. 3; Talloen and Vercauteren 2011, 363, 368.

Sacred places and spaces  175 churches to some extent as late as the mid-​fifth, sixth, and seventh centuries. At Aphrodisias, the temple of Aphrodite was altered into a church, which later became a cathedral. In Athens, the Parthenon was transformed into a church in the mid-​sixth century and the Erechtheion in the late sixth or early seventh century, as well as the south wing of the Propylaia, the Asclepieion, and the Hephaisteion. In Rome in 609, the Pantheon was the first documented temple to be changed into a church; thereafter it was referred to as the Church of S. Maria ad Martyres.33 The relatively long lapse of time between imperial closures connected with prohibitions and temple conversions, especially in the East, has been explained in relation to fear of demons, which were thought to inhabit pagan shrines even after their abandonment or destruction.34 Peter Talloen and Lies Vercauteren suggest that the interval between the abandonment of temples and their conversion into churches may even indicate that these two phenomena do not necessarily have much to do with the manifestation of Christian triumph. The pagan shrines may have been taken into Christian cult use simply because they were situated in good locations.35 Be this as it may, the evidence does not imply that there were always such dramatic attacks by zealous Christians as portrayed in the hagiographies and church histories in relation to the destruction of temples. Instead, we perceive a long process during which pagan cult space was diminished by economic pressures (the withdrawal of privileges as Christian communities gained them), closing temples by imperial decrees, and forbidding cult practices in imperial legislation. Thus, it was not always outright violence, but rather passive-​aggressive intimidation, that gradually weakened the possibilities of non-​Christians to perform their cult practices—​at least in public spaces.

3 3. Saradi and Eliopoulos 2011, 273. 34. CTh 16.10.25 (in 435) refers to this fear by ordering the exorcism of impure spirits that may haunt pagan cult places after their destruction. 35. Talloen and Vercauteren 2011, 378.


Sacred times and spaces


othing in itself is sacred or secular, religious or non-​ religious, or neutral. We invest things, places, feasts, and acts with meanings. All societies negotiate the meanings and contents of their rituals and institutions. They are under continuing cultural negotiation in modern societies as much as they were in the late Roman world.1 The more society is in flux, the more meanings and contents are intensely debated. Late antique bishops debated with their Christian fellows about whether festivities and rituals that Christians (also) took part in were to be understood as something connected with the old cults (‘pagan’ and ‘idolatrous’) or something that was held in common by all (‘mere celebration’). In this chapter, I examine the bishops’ condemnations from the viewpoint of discursive boundary-​marking in which the borders of ‘pagan’, ‘Christian’, ‘cultic’, and ‘civic’ were constantly shifting. Many of the terms used in modern debates have been employed in the research to describe late antique celebrations. These terms—​religious and neutral, sacred and secular—​are doomed to be anachronistic and hence problematic for Late Antiquity. Robert Markus analysed late Roman society by using the division between sacred and secular.2 The term ‘secular’ has been used to designate anything that has nothing to do with a religious context.3 The term is modern and not particularly fitting to describe late antique social life. Modern secularization theories (since Max Weber) imply shifts from the sacred to the secular and often fail to take into account that many (especially premodern) societies did not maintain strict distinctions between what we take as sacred and secular. The ‘sacred is never removed’, as Susanna Elm remarks, criticizing the idea of secularization as inadequate in Late Antiquity.4 Hartmut Leppin suggests that a more suitable way of depicting the late antique urban and

1. Margaret M.  Mitchell 2008, 327 n.  70 appositely describes this idea when speaking of images of wreaths: ‘Given any viewer’s capacity to invest images with meaning, I would prefer to say the wreath is religiously ambiguous—​a kind of open cipher that can be variously filled with import, or left empty.’ 2. Markus 1990, 1–​17. 3. Gruenwald 1994, 11. Liebeschuetz 2011, 310–​311 speaks of late antique public entertainments in Antioch that had been ‘completely secularized’. See also Caseau 2001, 110 on ‘la sécularisation des statues païennes’, and Lepelley 2011, 288 on ‘la sécularité exprimée par les inscriptions municipales’. Belayche 2007, 35–​46 analyses the spaces in the late Roman Empire; Sotinel 2010b, 319–​349 reviews urban spaces, using the term ‘profane’. 4. Elm 2012, 450–​451, 486; also Curran 1994, 50. For problems concerning the concept of secularization, see the excellent discussion in Lim 2009, 503; Lim 2012, 65–​67.

Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450. Maijastina Kahlos. Oxford University Press (2020). © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190067250.001.0001

Sacred times and spaces  177 rural spaces shared by religious groups is with the term ‘neutral’.5 Furthermore, Éric Rebillard questions the division between sacred and secular, or between religious and non-​religious, because it presupposes ‘a model of behaviour that is too rigid and too dependent on a Christian theological point of view’. To speak of sacred and secular, or religious and neutral, is to adopt the criteria of the late antique bishops, who wanted to propagate it among their parishioners and have their activities follow straight lines of sacred and secular.6 In the reality of late antique communal life, Christians tended to make their decisions on a situational basis: in situations where they felt belonging to their Christian community was important enough, they ‘activated’ their Christian ‘identity’.7 The same persons can be seen as taking part in both ‘pagan’ (or what was seen as pagan) and Christian festivities, probably without any particular scruples—​or at least they would have had no scruples if bishops had left them to continue their celebrations in peace. Put bluntly, the often discussed identity crisis of late antique Christians was more of a headache for ecclesiastical leaders than a problem for ordinary people. Practices that in the eyes of bishops appeared incompatible with Christian conduct were not irreconcilable for the participants themselves. I argue that the same local celebration may have had different meanings and contents for different persons, and even for the same person, depending on the situation. For one person, a festival constituted a cultic act; for another, it was simply a civic celebration that enhanced a sense of belonging to the urban community; for a third person, it meant just having fun (e.g., getting good food, getting drunk, and perhaps even finding company or sex partners); and for a fourth person, it was all of these things. There was no single or identical meaning for everyone. Nor did the celebrations mean the same thing for a person all the time, for their meanings were situational and dependent on life circumstances. Therefore, there is no need here to take any stand on whether a late antique festival was religious (‘pagan’) or secular: the issue is beyond the scope of this discussion. What is important is the content and connotations with which ecclesiastical writers endowed these celebrations, and how these were disputed and negotiated in debates within the community. The content and significance of celebrations, including their ‘paganness’ or neutrality, were discursive categories that were defined according to the writer who discussed them.

5. The term ‘Neutralisierung’ is used by Leppin 2012, 247–​278; See also Leppin 2009, 17–​19. Drake 2001a, 48 speaks of the ‘religiously neutral public space’ that Constantine favoured. 6. Rebillard 2012, 62, 70, 96. See also my discussion in ­chapter 7. 7. The recent sociological research on new spirituality and engagement in several religious traditions in the modern world may be useful in attempts to understand the activity of late antique people; see Berghuijs, Pieper, and Bakker 2013a, 15–​32; Berghuijs, Pieper, and Bakker 2013b, 775–​792.

178  Time, place, practices Feasts and spectacles In ancient cities throughout the Mediterranean area, there flowered a shared public urban culture with a tradition of openness (to a certain extent). To this shared culture belonged public feasts in honour of emperors and local gods, processions, spectacles, and races. All this urban celebration provided an environment for commerce, social interaction, and many kinds of communication between different social groups, including religious ones. In modern research, this interface in an urban setting has been called ‘throwntogetherness’, through which people are brought together and conciliation and compromise are forced upon them.8 In the urban environs, our sources mention pagans and Christians alike participating in communal celebrations and spectacles. Bishops who complained about their parishioners eating, drinking, dancing, and singing in local celebrations were commonplace in the fourth and fifth centuries. Church leaders used much of their time and energy disparaging their fellow Christians’ waywardness, whether it was taking part in local traditional festivals; accomplishing funerary rites; attending theatrical spectacles, games, and races; or sharing practices with Jews and pagans. During the fourth and fifth centuries, Christian festivals gradually developed and were merged into the life of cities and country villages. At the same time, many traditional celebrations important to the communal life of these localities continued. Many of these festivities and spectacles had been closely connected with the cults of the old gods and, in the minds of many people, were still more or less associated with these divinities. Nonetheless, the connection was no longer very clear for all who participated in these celebrations. Traditional local festivals, races, and theatre spectacles were also popular among Christians, who seem to have understood engagement in these celebrations as merely partaking in the public life of local communities. However, ecclesiastical leaders usually took a stricter stand, interpreting these celebrations as idolatry and, consequently, prohibiting Christians from attending them.9 Again, the same festivity could constitute different meanings for different individuals and even for the same individual, according to the particular situation. For ordinary Christians, the boundaries set by bishops between proper and improper religious practice were necessarily not clear-​cut or even important in the way they were to the bishops. Communality, participation in local life, and maintaining social and economic relations may have been more significant than making distinctions. In his sermons, Augustine condemns his congregation for taking part in urban celebrations, and he demands that they choose between proper Christian 8. See Massey 2005, 149–​162 on ‘throwntogetherness’. 9. The bibliography on Christian attitudes to traditional spectacles and feasts is vast: see Markus 1990; Salzman 1990; Barnes 1996, 161–​180; Harl 1981, 123–​147; Jürgens 1972; Weismann 1972; Curran 2000, 236–​258; Lugaresi 2007, 35–​46; Soler 2010b, 273–​286.

Sacred times and spaces  179 and improper pagan practices. He embellishes his admonitions with violent metaphors. As he preaches against attending theatrical performances and insists upon abstaining from them, he enhances his admonitions by speaking of the sword for separation (gladius ad separationem) and the fire for burning (ignis ad ustionem). The sword will separate Christians from evil habits, their past life, and even their ancestry, whereas the fire will burn their adversaries, who have abandoned God and cling to idolatry. In Augustine’s preaching, it is stressed that every Christian is more or less attached to the pagan past from which one should rid oneself—​and not only oneself, but also one’s Christian fellows. Augustine urges his listeners to direct their fellow Christians away from theatre spectacles.10 Similar to Augustine, John Chrysostom, in his homily against the games and theatres, admonishes his audience to seek out and chase down those Christians who have not kept away from spectacles; they should be chastised and corrected.11 Both bishops urged their parishioners to engage in policing of proper behaviour in their community and to intervene to the improper practices of their fellow Christians. This kind of guidance was not always welcomed by fellow souls, however: we hear of disturbances breaking out when more zealous Christians tried to prevent their neighbours from taking part in urban celebrations.12 Along with many other church leaders in the fourth and fifth centuries, Augustine was particularly worried about the popular celebrations during the Kalendae Ianuariae (see further discussion below on the New Year celebration). In a sermon delivered on that very day, he warns his listeners about taking part in what he describes as an outright pagan celebration. Moreover, he highlights the worldly and carnal character of the festival: Now, if this feast of the pagans which is celebrated today with such joy of the world and of the flesh, with the singing of meaningless and base songs, with banquets and shameful dances, if these things which the pagans do in the celebration of this false festival do not please you, then you shall be gathered from among the nations.13 Augustine reminds his listeners that it is far more important to keep a separation of minds than to worry about physically mingling with pagans. As we already saw in the discussion on competing philanthropies, Augustine distinguishes between practices proper to pagans and Christians:  pagans offer presents, but Christians should give alms; pagans run to the theatre, but Christians should go to the church; and so forth. Augustine remarks that he is addressing the true Christians, who should live in a different way than pagans. The celebrations and 10. Aug. enarr. ps. 96.7–​10 (in 399). 11. Ioh. Chrys. hom. c. ludos et theatra (PG 56.263–​270). Sizgorich 2009, 36. 12. For the conflicts between pagans and Christians in North Africa, see c­ hapter 5. 13. Aug. serm. 198.1. Trans. Muldowney 1959, 55. On Augustine’s complaints, see Scheid 1998, 353–​365; Brown 1998a, 367–​375; Magalhães de Oliveira 2012, 140–​141.

180  Time, place, practices spectacles delight demons, he states, giving an exhaustive list of these: songs of vanity, worthless spectacles, the shamefulness of theatres, the madness of the circus, and violent competitions. In his view, taking part in shows and feasts is the same as offering incense to demons in one’s heart.14 Augustine understood that different people invested urban celebrations with different meanings, as shown by his sermon from 399/​401, referring to the Apostle Paul’s discussion in 1 Corinthians 8. ‘Firm’ brothers knew that the gods connected with the festivals were not real deities, and thus for them these celebrations were not idolatry. In modern terminology, they did not regard the communal celebrations as religious or sacral. However, this caused problems for ‘weaker’ brothers, who could go astray by thinking that their firm brothers venerated idols in these celebrations; that is, they invested the feasts with religious or sacral content.15 Here it is the interpretation of the content and the intention of activities that cause problems, not participation as such. This is by no means a new issue, and, as we saw in c­ hapter 10 in our discussion on sacrifices, the debate about participation in pagan activities can be traced as far back as the Apostle Paul and the dispute in 1 Corinthians 8 over eating food offered to the gods. Paul mainly worried about the lapse of the ‘weaker brothers’ into idolatry, but he was also concerned about the pollution caused by cultic communion with gods—​for him, demons. Fourth-​and fifth-​century writers used the Pauline distinction between ‘stronger’ and ‘weaker’ brothers in their discussions on the boundaries of being a proper Christian and participation in the celebrations of the surrounding society in general: what should be regarded as mere presence in everyday life rituals (harmless for a Christian), and what should be seen as active involvement and thus detrimental. In late fourth-​century Antioch, John Chrysostom condemned Christian attendance at the races and compared the Antiochians, who considered it innocuous, to the Corinthians, who saw no problem with eating sacrificial food.16 He also stated, ‘If a man sees you who have knowledge of piety passing the day in those foolish and harmful associations, will not the conscience of this weak man be given the excuse to pursue such actions with more enthusiasm?’17 Christians and the New Year One of the most popular feasts was the celebration of the New Year. The Kalendae Ianuariae had been celebrated from Republican times onwards as the first day of the year on which the consuls entered their office and public vows were made to Jupiter Optimus Maximus to ensure the welfare of the state. During the imperial 14. Aug. serm. 198 augm.1–​3. Augustine stresses his admonitions concerning separation by means of repeated pairs of words: congregari/​segregari, misceri/​separari, commixtio/​separatio. 15. Aug. serm. 62. 4.7. 16. Ioh. Chrys. hom. in 1 Cor. 24.3–​5 (PG 61, 201–​205). 17. Ioh. Chrys. catech. 6.16 (SC 50, 223). Trans. Sandwell 2007, 79.

Sacred times and spaces  181 period, the Senate and the army took their oaths of allegiance to the emperor on the Kalendae Ianuariae. The emperor received different kinds of offerings as signs of loyalty from his subjects. Besides this clearly state-​run element of the festival, there was also a private side to the New Year celebration. In addition to the vota publica on behalf of the state, there were private vows and prayers, especially to Janus, the god of beginnings and endings. The New Year was a time for mutual visits and gift-​giving and interpreting omens for the whole year.18 The celebration of the Kalendae Ianuariae remained popular throughout the centuries, even in the Christianizing empire, as numerous complaints by Christian writers reveal. Christian emperors did not prohibit festivals of this kind, which they defined as gatherings of citizens and a common pleasure for all.19 The solemn festivities of the Kalendae Ianuariae—​such as the appointment of consuls, making vows, and offering gifts to the emperor—​continued. In 323 Constantine ordered that Christians ‘could not be forced’ to make vows and sacrifices in the ritual of the ‘alien superstition’ as Roman magistrates were expected to do, according to the traditional rites.20 Because the fourth-​and fifth-​century bishops who disapproved of the New Year feasting could not openly attack the state-​run imperial side of the Kalendae Ianuariae, they instead directed their energies towards scolding private practices, such as dancing, drunkenness, and engaging in obscene spectacles and revelries, as well as covering the dinner table with the greatest possible variety of courses and delicacies in the last evening of the old year in order to guarantee prosperity for the next. A  number of sixth-​and seventh-​century writers continued to criticize these private practices.21 One example of these reproaches is Peter Chrysologus’s sermon on the Kalendae Ianuariae in the 440s. Chrysologus, the bishop of Ravenna, complains of his city folk who, despite being Christians, participate in the festivities of the New Year. For him, the festivities are clearly idolatrous: ‘the pagans bring out their gods today’. Peter starts his attack by describing these traditional religious practices as a distortion made by the devil, and he goes on to attack immoral myths in which the gods of the pagans are presented as monstrosities who commit incest and adultery (Mars and Venus are named). This exposition is a relevant part of his demonstration of the New Year celebrations as sacrilegious and idolatrous. Furthermore, Peter admonishes his parishioners to weep for those who follow such things and to rejoice for having themselves escaped them. He states that he 18. On the development and different elements of the Kalendae Ianuariae, see Meslin 1970, 23–​46, 73–​75; Grig 2017, 237–​256; Graf 2015, 128–​162. 19. CTh 16.10.17 (in 399). 20. CTh 16.2.5 (in 323). 21. Hier. comm. in Is. 65.11 (PL 24, 639): people decorate the table and drink a cup of wine with honey, futuri fertilitatem auspicantes. Caesarius of Arles (serm. 192, CCSL 104, 779) reproves the practice of covering the dinner table with so much food and drink, which would be needed in the year to come. Martin of Braga (corr. 11, 16) castigates the habit of taking auspices from the abundance of the New Year’s Eve dinner table. On the continuation of such rebukes, see Meslin 1970, 71.

182  Time, place, practices has explained these matters in order to make it understandable why people still do such things and ‘why they make their gods such as to cause horror and shame for those who see them’. Consequently, Peter warns his listeners not to pollute themselves with such spectacles. They should rather avoid showing approval of these spectacles. For to approve these things, Peter stresses, is the same as to do these things.22 In his sermon, Peter construes a fictive protest by his parishioners, who explain that the festivities of the New Year are harmless celebrations without ‘sacrilegious’ content: But someone says: ‘These are not practices of sacrilegious rites. These are vows of entertainment. And this is merriment for the new, not an error of the old. This is the beginning of the year, not a pagan transgression.’23 According to the fictive protest of these Christians, the celebrations are not religious (‘not practices of sacrilegious rites’; ‘not a pagan transgression’), but merely societal entertainment in a neutral sense. How reliable can we consider these exclamations that Peter Chrysologus presents? Are these the voices of ordinary Christians who preferred to participate in local festivals and embedded these events with significations that differed from those of their Christian leaders? Similar construed responses of ordinary Christians are found in other bishops’ sermons, as we have seen in Augustine’s sermons.24 These views are conveyed by ecclesiastical writers, who most probably portrayed the opposing viewpoints in a selective way, as a straw man that could be conveniently refuted. Therefore, protesting voices of ordinary Christians can sometimes be heard, although inexorably in caricatures, in the sermons and treatises of these bishops. The perspective is constantly that of the bishop, who formulates the wording according to his dichotomous worldview of sacrilege and entertainment. However, these straw men construed by ecclesiastical writers needed to appear credible, at least to some extent, in order to function effectively in their rhetoric. Thus, even though sermons constructed the voices of parishioners that did not have an exact reflection in social reality, they needed to have some point of comparison. Peter Chrysologus replies to these protests, maintaining that these people were in error. These celebrations are not mere enjoyments, but crimes. He labels these celebrations impietas, sacrilegium, and piaculum. Consequently, in his interpretation, the Kalendae Ianuariae falls outside the category of neutral or societal merriment. Instead, he insists upon a choice between joking with the Devil and rejoicing with Christ. Furthermore, he exhorts his listeners—​as an indication of humanity and brotherly love—​to restrain those who are running to perdition in

22. Petr. Chrys. serm. 155.1–​5 (CCSL 24B). On similar argumentation regarding the silent approval of idolatry, see Maximus of Turin in ­chapter 10. 23. Petr. Chrys. serm. 155.5. 24. Aug. serm. 301A.8; enarr. ps. 88.2.14. See ­chapter 7.

Sacred times and spaces  183 this way. The father must restrain his son and the master his servant, but from this traditional hierarchy Peter even widens the scope to include the mutual duty among relatives, citizens, and humans to restrain one another and the overall duty of Christians to restrain all who err with these celebrations.25 Thus, in the same way that Augustine and John Chrysostom did earlier, Peter demands that his listeners police the community and direct their fellow Christians away from feasting. What were people actually doing in these practices that Peter condemns? He does not describe them in detail, but only refers to them through eloquent repudiation. He vaguely depicts the practices as a horror and disgrace, connected with the old gods and myths. Furthermore, towards the end of his sermon, he describes people making themselves comparable to beasts, behaving like draught animals, turning themselves into cattle, and presenting themselves as demons. Is this equation with animals a general rebuke, so abundant in ancient polemic against religious and ethnic groups, or is it meant as a concrete reference to the practices? Peter Brown has connected Peter Chrysologus’s remarks with the procession accompanying the nomination of new consuls, in which actors dressed as planets (hence Peter’s reference to the old gods); in this interpretation, the target of the bishop’s attack would be the state-​run imperial side of the New Year celebrities.26 Peter may have been speaking of theatrical performances held on the Kalendae Ianuariae. Another explanation could be that he is referring to processions of masquerades, which were often reproved in other late antique bishops’ writings. In these processions, people danced and sang, masked as various gods and animals; we have references to people acting as Saturn, Jupiter, Hercules, Diana, and Vulcan, but also as domestic animals and wild animals, especially elk.27 Whatever people were doing, the essential point is that Peter interprets and condemns the practices as idolatrous and sacrilegious, thus investing them with religious content, while the fictive voices of the ordinary people have a divergent interpretation: they see the celebrations as neutral societal merriment. Ecclesiastical leaders raised urban celebrations as a problem because they coincided with important Christian feast days, thus competing for the attention of the audience.28 This is apparent in Peter Chrysologus’s struggles with Christians who kept celebrating the Kalendae Ianuariae. Among many others, Maximus of Turin condemned the celebration of Kalendae Ianuariae as well as Saturnalia, in 25. Petr. Chrys. serm. 155. 5–​6. 26. Brown 1993, 99. Peter Chrysologus’s reference (serm. 155.4) to people who make themselves images of gods might corroborate this interpretation. 27. Max. Taur. serm. 16: pecudes portenta; Caesar. Arel. serm. 192.2: qui cervulum facientes in ferarum se velint habitus commutare. Pacian. Barcil. par. (PL 13, 1081):  cervulum facere. According to Jerome (vir. ill. 106), this Pacianus wrote a (no longer extant) tractate called Cervus against the habit of using masks in the New Year celebrations. Ambrose (Iob 2.1.5) condemned the wearing of elk masks in the New Year festivities. Ecclesiastical writers saw these processions as the pomp of the Devil. Grig 2017, 237–​256; Meslin 1970, 74–​82. 28. On situations of rivalry, see Salv. gub. 6.7.37; Ambr. expos. in psalm. 118 serm. 16.45; Aug. conf. 10.23; enarr. ps. 80.23, 96.7–​10; serm. 301A.7; Caesar. Arel. serm. 89.5. Fraschetti 1999, 307–​309; Jürgens 1972, 182; Markus 1990, 118–​119.

184  Time, place, practices which his congregation was accustomed to take part, as ‘gloomy superstitions of errors’. The nativity of the Lord occurred exactly midway between these festivities in order to shine the true light, he stated. Maximus denounced the festivities of pagans as sacrilege, superstition, drunkenness, and intemperance. He stressed that the one who ‘has fellowship with the vanity of pagans shall not have communion with the truth of the saints’. Maximus insisted upon choosing between things he regarded as Christian and those he considered pagan or superstitious. In his case, this included refraining from traditional banquets with wine and food and from giving gifts and taking auspices.29 John Chrysostom also attacked the celebration of the Kalendae Ianuariae at Antioch. The whole city, he stated, was guilty of sin on that day. He compared the festivities with the war against Amalecians or barbarians, but with the New Year feasting it was the demons that led the war with their pomp at the agora, implying that demonic carousing was an enemy attacking from inside the community. After a lengthy lamentation on nocturnal drinking, dancing, and other revelries, John Chrysostom contrasts intoxication with spiritual prayer (the Word over wine, as wine only causes agitation, while the Word brings peace). Furthermore, he attacks the interpretation of auspices for the New Year to come and states that a Christian should not celebrate the Kalendae of months, New Moons, or Sundays, since the whole year was a feast day for a Christian; calculating days did not belong to Christian philosophy, but was a Hellenic error. Playing with lights in the agora was childish, he maintains, since a Christian should have attained the true Light.30 The reality of popular needs The imperial government defined the content of urban celebrations in a manner which diverged from the delineations of ecclesiastical leaders. For emperors and their administration, many festivities were valuable for maintaining societal coherence, as fourth-​century imperial legislation shows. In many cases, they sought to retain traditional festivities. The law of 399, which declares that the emperors have forbidden profane rituals, also clarifies that emperors will not accept the abolition of celebrations of citizens and the common merriment of all people. Therefore, these amusements were allowed to continue according to custom, but without sacrifices or superstitions that had been condemned. The continuation of the festivities was justified by the antiquity of the custom and the popularity of the merriments.31

29. Max. Taur. serm. 98.1–​3, quoting 2 Cor. 6:14. 30. Ioh. Chrys. hom. in Kal. Ian. (PG 48, 953–​962). 31. CTh 16.10.17 (in 399). Lim 2009, 508; Lim 1999, 268–​269.

Sacred times and spaces  185 In another law of 382, addressed to the governor of Osrhoene, it was declared that a temple in the region of Osrhoene would be permitted to stay open and the cult images in it were to be left untouched. The law specifically mentions that the governor would take care of the preservation of all festivities. Again, the festivities were allowed to continue, but without sacrifices. The emperors justified the preservation of the temple and its images in view of the popularity of the festivities, as well as the artistic value of the images.32 Not that the emperors did not set limitations on popular celebrations. Theodosius I and his successors Honorius, Arcadius, and Theodosius II forbade games and theatre shows on Sundays and Christian feast days. One of the reasons for this was to prevent crossover between the traditional forms of entertainment and Christian rituals. A law of 392 forbidding circus races on Sundays states in a straightforward way that the prohibition is given ‘in order that no gathering to the spectacles may divert people from the reverend mysteries of Christianity’. The emperor and his power nonetheless transcended all restrictions, since the birthdays of emperors were an exception to this rule.33 A law of 425 forbade games and theatrical performances on Sundays, Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Pentecost, and a few other Christian feast days, and it reminded even those still ‘enslaved by the madness of the Jewish impiety or the error and insanity of senseless paganism’ that there was ‘a time for prayer and a time for pleasure’.34 Furthermore, as the aforementioned laws show, festivities were permitted only when divested of sacrificial rituals. In fourth-​and fifth-​century legislation, many practices and rituals—​and cases where loyalty to the emperor would be shown, even encouraged—​were allowed to continue when stripped of sacrifices, especially ones involving blood-​offerings. For example, imperial images were habitually venerated in the consular games in the circus. A law by Theodosius II aimed at regulating these rituals connected to the emperor’s images: the magistrate should not employ ‘any vainglorious heights of adoration’ (sine adorationis ambitioso fastigio).35 What ‘vainglorious heights of adoration’ meant, however, was left to a magistrate to decide in each case. With these decrees, the imperial government aimed at balancing the demands of ecclesiastical leaders and the needs of the urban and rural populations. The attempts to ‘clean up’ those features of traditional celebrations that were disturbing to many Christians—​often sacrifices—​can be seen as a compromise. This expurgation could also involve the eradication of superstitio, as in the aforementioned law of 399 or in the rescript of Hispellum in 333/​335 concerning the veneration paid to Constantine’s family.36 As such, superstitio was a vague term 32. CTh 16.10.8 (in 382). Similarly, CTh 16.10.3 (in 346) speaks of ‘the regular performance of long established amusements for the Roman people’. 33. CTh 2.8.20 (in 392). See also CTh 15.5.2 (in 386), forbidding spectacles on Sundays. 34. CTh 15.5.5 (in 435). 35. CTh 15.4.1 (in 425). 36. CIL XI 5265 (=ILS 705). The inscription was an imperial response to a petition from the inhabitants of Hispellum; Constantine approved the continuation of emperor worship, with restrictions (‘should not be defiled by

186  Time, place, practices that could be interpreted to mean almost anything from traditional sacrifices to illegal magic. Its interpretation on the level of local administration was obviously a question of authority.37 As we saw in the discussion on the aesthetic value of monuments (­chapter 12), a similar ‘cleaning up’ was connected with the idea of divesting temples and shrines of cultic content but preserving their artistic value. The emperors tried to achieve a balance between various forces that pulled in many different directions. Bishops who represented divergent Christian sects and regions exerted pressure on the imperial government, defending their own interests. Ecclesiastical councils made demands of the emperors to limit ‘pagan’ feasting and even to put an end to many traditional celebrations. For instance, the Council of Carthage in 401 insisted that the emperors should forbid public banquets (convivia) that originated due to ‘pagan’ error. It was declared that ‘pagans’ forced Christians to celebrate these banquets, and this even looked like a second persecution in the era of Christian emperors.38 The disapproving tone of the church council reminds us of the condemnations by Augustine and Peter Chrysologus. Local bishops defined public banqueting as a religious activity, originating out of ‘pagan’ error and imposed upon Christians by ‘pagans’, whoever these ‘pagans’ were—​adherents of old polytheistic cults or ‘weak’ Christian brothers. Ecclesiastical writers often complained of imperial indulgence; what a modern observer might call broadmindedness or even toleration, they saw as irresponsibility or being a friend of pagans. Theodoret of Cyrrhus writes of Valens, who, while staying at Antioch, ‘gave complete license to all who, under cover of the Christian name, pagans, Jews, and the rest, preached doctrines contrary to those of the gospel’. Furthermore, he tells us that ‘the slaves of this error went so far as to perform pagan rites’. The consequence was that pagan rites were no longer performed in private, but entered the public sphere: ‘[T]‌he rites of Jews, of Dionysus, and of Demeter were now no longer performed in a corner . . . but by revellers running wild in the forum’.39 In these debates on Christian participation, defining and constantly redefining the content of urban celebrations was an issue of authority.40 Church leaders used their episcopal and spiritual authority to bolster their stricter interpretations of what was considered proper Christian behaviour and what was idolatry (that is, religious activity). We hear the fictive voices of Christians defending their attendance at what they thought were mere amusements (that is, a neutral

the deceits of any contagious superstitio’), which have usually been interpreted as referring to sacrifices. Lee 2000, 92–​93; Van Dam 2007b, 28–​30; Cecconi 2012a, 273–​290. 37. Salzman 1987, 172–​188. 38. Council of Carthage can. 60–​61 (CCSL 149, 196–​197). On similar complaints of the seductive influence or pressure of ‘pagan’ friends, see Aug. enarr. ps. 80.11, 85.15, 90.10. Markus 1990, 117 n. 33. 39. Theodoret. eccl. 4.21. 40. On the issue of authority, see MacMullen 2009, 61–​62, 161 n. 38; Brown 1998b, 662–​663; Brown 1995, 23–​24; Klutz 1998, 183–​184.

Sacred times and spaces  187 activity) and even challenging their bishops’ authority. The dividing line did not necessarily always fall between strict leaders and temperate, ordinary Christians. It is more accurate to speak of degrees of moderation. Some so-​called ordinary Christians argued for more austere attitudes towards worldly merriments, while several bishops advocated for a more permissive stance on celebrations. The meanings of practices were contested and negotiated amid conflicting and divergent interpretations. A person could take part in both traditional and Christian celebrations and see no difficulty with that. The notion of situational identities within an individual explains what outwardly may seem to be inconsistencies in an individual’s behaviour. Late antique Christians did not necessarily understand their activities as being distinguished along the lines of religious and secular.41 Nor was the demand to make distinctions and choices self-​evident for all bishops even, as indicated by the policing letter of Innocent I, the bishop of Rome, to the Council of Toledo in 400. Innocent laments that so many clergymen and even bishops, being members of the local elite, continued their habit of organizing spectacles for the people. Innocent exclaims that such promotions must now cease.42 Even bishops had situational identities! Many overachiever bishops (such as Augustine) nonetheless insisted upon a choice being made between these lines, as well as identity-​building that diminished the space in which Christians acted. The reactions of ecclesiastical leaders were connected with contested situations in which urban space and time were competed for. Individual Christians often found themselves in the middle of pressures coming from various directions:  their bishops, city councillors in the cities, landowners in the countryside, and local magistrates. Pressure also came from the central government and the emperors. Funerary and martyr cults: Complaints and realities In Late Antiquity, many Christians extensively followed the same burial customs and funerary cult as found in their environment. In their choice of a burial place, they often did not see religious allegiance as a decisive factor or hindrance for burying their deceased beside non-​Christians.43 Similarly, participation in a funerary cult at tombs with their pagan neighbours was not an issue. However, as in other matters of rituals, time, and place, church leaders were keen to police the 4 1. Rebillard 2012, 62, 70, 96; see Lim 2012, 77–​78, which discusses multiple and ever-​changing meanings. 42. Innoc. ep. 3 (PL 20, 491–​492). Garnsey and Humfress 2001, 122. 43. Rebillard 2009a, 13–​56; also Denzey Lewis 2015, 279–​287; Saradi and Eliopoulos 2011, 300–​301; Brown 1981, 24. On the continuities in burial and funerary cults, see Rebillard 2009b, 220–​230; Rebillard 2013a, 227–​249; Destephen 2010, 165–​174; M. J. Johnson 1997, 37–​59; Samellas 2002; Osiek 2008, 243–​270. Saller 2008, 2 and Bodel 2008, 177–​242 stress that the shift of burials from the columbarium to the catacomb, the spread of Christianity, and the shift from cremation to inhumation in the late second and third centuries were three separate developments and not causally related.

188  Time, place, practices boundaries of proper behaviour. Consequently, fourth-​and fifth-​century debates about popular funerary rituals and martyr cults were part of the discourse of ritual censure and the debates about what was properly Christian. A  number of bishops opposed the popular practice of feasting at tombs and the shrines of martyrs, condemning it as immoral, superstitious, pagan, or even demonic. The focus here is on Augustine, who in his sermons and letters complained of Christians banqueting at tombs. I also discuss the objections of the people, which can be reconstructed from his sermons and letters. Finally, I interpret these disputes as power struggles between local elite groups: the Christian lay elite and the ecclesiastical elite. Fourth-​and fifth-​century bishops criticized their parishioners for dancing, abundant eating, and heavy drinking at Christian tombs and martyria. Ambrose forbade Christians to offer food and wine at the martyrs’ tombs, justifying his prohibition by means of two arguments:  first, there should be no opportunity for drunkenness, and second, the habit of offering food and wine at the tombs of the martyrs was too similar to the superstition of pagans, the traditional Roman celebration at the tombs in the memory of the deceased during the feast of Parentalia.44 Paulinus of Nola complained that people celebrating in honour of St. Felix imagined that saints were delighted to see their tombs flooded with wine. Paulinus demanded that funerary meals at saints’ tombs be replaced by other kinds of celebrations, and that profane songs be replaced by hymns.45 Furthermore, John Chrysostom, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Augustine complained about dancing in honour of martyrs. Augustine even stated that the dances at the martyria were performed to worship and delight demons.46 Several church councils condemned banquets at the tombs.47 As we saw above (under “The reality of popular needs”), at the Council of Carthage in 401 it was discussed that people did not fear to celebrate convivia even on the anniversaries of martyrs and in sacred places.48 Thus, Augustine’s grievance is only one example of the negative attitudes of ecclesiastical leaders towards popular feasting within the Christian martyr cult, as well as the funerary cult. He complains that ‘revelling and drunkenness (comissationes ... et ebrietates) are

44. Aug. conf. 6.2.2. Gaudentius of Brescia (tract. 4.14) also condemned the feasting of Parentalia as the foremost error of idolatry. 45. Paulin. Nol. carm. 27.555–​557. Paulinus tried to channel the popular feasting into what he thought was a respectable and sober form of celebration; the several poems in honour of St. Felix were an important part of this project. 46. Ioh. Chrys. hom. 19.1; Greg. Naz. epigr. (Anthologia Graeca 8.166–​169, 8.174–​175); Aug. serm. 311.5–​6. For other grievances on feasting at the tombs and martyria, see Aug. mor. eccl. 1.34.75; enarr. ps. 48.1.15; Basil. Caes. hom. 14.1 (PG 31, 445–​446); Sidon. Apoll. ep. 5.17. On the complaints of church leaders, see Samellas 2002, 279–​290; Fraschetti 1999, 311. 47. E.g., Council of Tours (in 567)  can. 23 (CCSL 148A, 191). On the prohibitions by church councils, see Noethlichs 1998, 21. 48. Council of Carthage can. 60 (CCSL 149, 196–​197).

Sacred times and spaces  189 considered so acceptable and tolerable that they are practised in honour of holy martyrs not only on feast days . . . but even everyday’.49 According to Augustine, banqueting at the tombs of martyrs was not only disgraceful, but also sacrilegious. Still, as he states, it was called honouring martyrs when practised in holy places. Augustine insists that even if this immense shame could not be suppressed on private occasions, it should at least be kept away from the tombs of the saints, places of sacrament, and houses of prayer. To strengthen his point, Augustine argues that these practices had already been rooted out everywhere except Africa. He advises Aurelius, the bishop of Carthage, to suppress drinking and excessive feasting in Christian cemeteries, not harshly but with gentleness. The Christian people should be taught and guided, he notes, rather than commanded and threatened. This was the best method to deal with the multitudes; nevertheless, individuals should be treated with severity. According to Augustine, offerings to the spirits of the departed should not be too sumptuous, but instead be appropriate to the memory of the departed. Moreover, the poor should also be remembered.50 Augustine offers a new interpretation for grave offerings: gifts were no longer taken to mean food for the deceased, but alms for the poor. Similarly, in his letter to Alypius, Augustine writes that he has replaced the banquets in honour of St. Leontius with reading from the Scriptures and the singing of psalms. Instead of corporeal forms of celebration, there should be spiritual feasting.51 Later, in 405, Augustine refers to Aurelius, the bishop of Carthage, who had succeeded at least in suppressing dances at the nocturnal festival in honour of St Cyprian. Songs and dances had been replaced by sanctae vigiliae.52 These ‘reforms’ could be characterized as cautious compromises:  private commemorations with feasting were permitted to continue—​albeit in a more moderate fashion—​while the public martyr cults were suppressed under the control of ecclesiastical leaders. Modern scholars, on one hand, have argued that the foremost preoccupation of fourth-​century bishops was the immoral excesses of the banquets belonging to the cults of the dead or martyrs.53 On the other hand, it has also been stated that the feasts at the tombs and martyria were condemned because they were regarded as a continuation of ‘pagan’ funerary banquets during the Parentalia and Feralia.54 Ambrose explained his prohibition on food and wine offerings in two ways:  first, there should not be any opportunity for drunkenness, and second, the habit of bringing food and wine to tombs was too similar to the

49. Aug. ep. 22.3 (in 390). See also Aug. ep. 22.6: istae in coemeteriis ebrietates et luxuriosa convivia. 50. Aug. ep. 22.3–​6. 51. Aug. ep. 29.11; also serm. 280.6.6: sobria hilaritate, casta congregatione, fideli cogitatione, fidenti praedicatione. On Augustine’s reform, see Saxer 1980, 141–​149; Kotila 1992, 65–​73; Magalhães de Oliveira 2012, 151–​155. 52. Aug. serm. 311.5. 53. Saxer 1980, 135. 54. Fraschetti 1999, 311.

190  Time, place, practices superstition of pagans.55 The issue of funerary banquets has also been analysed as a conflict between two rival systems of patronage. Peter Brown interprets the dispute as a power struggle between the Christian lay elite and the ecclesiastical elite, in which bishops attempted to bring the martyr cult under the control of the church—​that is, the control of the bishops themselves.56 The bishops’ concerns were probably influenced by critiques from outside. Rivals such as Emperor Julian mocked the Christian martyr cult, writing that Galileans (that is, Christians) filled the whole world with graves and sepulchres even though it was by no means ordered in the Christian Scriptures that they should grovel among the tombs and pay the martyrs homage.57 Faustus of Milevis, a Manichaean bishop, scoffed at the Christian feasts at martyrs’ tombs, claiming that Christians placated the shadows of the deceased with wine and food offerings. They only adjusted pagan rituals for Christian use (for example, transforming pagan sacrifices into love feasts, agapae, and idols into martyrs). Faustus concludes that Christianity was merely a schismatic movement within paganism, not a religion in its own right.58 Given these circumstances, it is understandable that ecclesiastical leaders, recognizing the force of such an accusation, wanted to suppress feasting at the tombs. The label of revelry and drunkenness was by no means flattering. The idea that to the eyes of outsiders, as well as Christians themselves, the Christian funerary and martyr cults should not be seen as much different from pagan ones caused great unease for church leaders. Therefore, they aimed at redefining proper Christian conduct and proscribing what was regarded as improper Christian behaviour. In Against Faustus and City of God, Augustine set out to assure his opponents of the chastity and soberness of the Christian funerary and martyr cults, whereas in his preaching he intensely and repeatedly condemned his fellow Christians for excessive revelry. He complained that many so-​called Christians were still getting drunk (among other things), just like the ungodly. It was also important to Augustine to stress that the altars at martyrs’ shrines were not dedicated to them as if they were deities.59 As far as we can tell from indirect evidence found in the complaints of the ecclesiastical leaders, ordinary people taking part in local popular feasting at the tombs and martyria regarded their funerary customs and the martyr cult as properly Christian. In bishops’ admonitions, we can observe echoes of the counter-​arguments of these Christian people. Ambrose complains that some people considered their drunkenness a sacrificium. But even though these voices of protest come via bishops’ sermons, and as such are their construction, they 55. Aug. conf. 6.2.2. 56. Brown 1981,  32–​36. 57. Iul. c. Gal. 335C. Cf. Liban. or. 62.10. 58. In Aug. c. Faust. 20.4. For other debates with outsiders on the issue of banquets, see Aug. mor. eccl. 1.34.75. 59. Aug. c. Faust. 20.4; civ. 8.17.2, 8.27.1; in ep. Ioh. 4.4; serm. 313A.5 (=14.5 Denis); serm. 335H.2. For other defences of the martyr cult, see Hier. ep. 109; Ambr. obit. Theod. 77.

Sacred times and spaces  191 may have reflected the social reality. In any case, the sermons represent North African Christians as insisting that they were acting appropriately according to the Christian tradition. Augustine’s parishioners asked him if the church leaders who had not previously forbidden these customs had not been Christians. In the minds of these people, these rituals were long-​established customs, while Augustine argued against them as pernicious and pagan.60 There is wide archaeological evidence of Christian funerary banquets before the fourth century.61 It seems that we should speak about a shared evolution of practices rather than mere pagan influence.62 However, I do not take a stand here on the antiquity or novelty of the funerary banquets within Christian death rituals. Neither do I  take any position on the question of whether banquets were a pagan influence or not. Instead of reading the writings of the church leaders as straightforward and precise accounts of social reality, I focus on how fourth-​century Christian writers described the state of affairs and argued for a certain representation of reality. These constructions served to redefine the sort of Christian identity that these church leaders spoke for. To reinforce proper Christian conduct was to cordon off what was defined as pagan. In the case of the funerary and martyr cults, the need to draw boundaries led church leaders to condemn funerary banquets as inappropriate for Christians. The funerary customs or rituals of the cult of martyrs that they disapproved of for various reasons were labelled as pagan, superstitious, and demonic practices. The issue of spiritual and ecclesiastical power is perceived in the choice of arguments taken from the Scriptures. Influential bishops such as Augustine interpreted passages from the Old Testament as supporting their attacks against banquets. According to Augustine, the writings of the Old Testament showed that the Hebrews had never even held sober feasts, much less drunken ones, in the name of religion.63 In a sermon on the resurrection of the dead, he stresses that making offerings to the deceased was a pagan habit which was not suitable for the offspring of the patriarchs. The Scriptures were also used for counter-​ arguments, as Augustine complains:  some people invoked a passage from the Book of Tobit (Tob. 4:18: ‘Lay out thy bread and thy wine upon the burial of a just man’) in order to justify food and wine offerings and feasting at the tombs. Augustine uses his authority as bishop and interpreter of the Scriptures to reject

60. Aug. ep. 29.8; Ambr. Helia 17.62. 61. The most famous example is ILCV I, 1570, dated to 299, the Christian inscription of the mensa of Ain Kebira (the ancient Satafis in Mauretania Sitifiensis), dedicated by Statulenia Iulia to the deceased 75-​year-​old Aelia Secundula. For archaeological evidence, see Jensen 2008, 107–​143; Burns and Jensen 2014, 126–​128; MacMullen 2009, 58; Février 1978, 241–​256, 271–​274; Lepelley 1987, 101. 62. Février 1978, 226 discusses second-​century Christian rituals of death. At the Council of Elvira, where some other funerary customs (can. 34–​35; e.g., women holding vigils at tombs) were forbidden, feasting with food and wine offerings is not mentioned and perhaps was not felt to be a problematic issue. Nevertheless, one should be cautious of drawing hasty conclusions from this argumentum e silentio. 63. Aug. ep. 29.4.

192  Time, place, practices this interpretation. The passage from Tobit does not suit this discussion, he asserts, and Christian believers understood well its meaning, knowing what was suitable in honouring the memory of the departed in accordance with religion.64 Attacks against funerary banquets were also useful as a weapon against rival Christian groups (in North Africa against the Donatists, for example), and comparisons with the construed depravity of adversaries reinforced one’s own group identity. Augustine stresses in a triumphant tone that, while he and his fellow bishops had suppressed the rampant feasting at the martyria of his church (Caecilianists), popular banqueting continued at Donatist cult places. Augustine constructs a binary opposition between the revelling and promiscuous Donatists and the sober and chaste Christians:  Donatists went on banqueting, whereas Augustine’s side now concentrated on preaching and singing psalms. The feasting of his group was spiritual, while the Donatists engaged in carnal excesses.65 The controversy between Jerome and Vigilantius in the early fifth century shows how the boundaries of acceptable practices were also debated by the ecclesiastical elite. Vigilantius was a presbyter who criticized several practices common in the mainstream church: the reverence paid to the relics of holy men, vigils held in honour of martyrs, and the burning of tapers. His attack is not extant, but fragments are known through Jerome’s reply, Against Vigilantius, in which Jerome attacks his rival.66 Jerome cites Vigilantius as calling burning tapers, as well as kissing and worshipping the relics of martyrs, pagan practices: [U]‌nder the cloak of religion (sub praetextu religionis) we see almost pagan rituals (prope ritum gentilium) introduced into the churches: while the sun is still shining, masses of tapers are lighted, and everywhere a little bit of powder, wrapped up in a costly cloth, is kissed and worshipped. People of this sort pay great honour to the blessed martyrs, who, they think, are to be made glorious by skimpy tapers.67 Vigilantius uses here the label of paganism as a method of undermining opposing views. For his part, Jerome takes great pains to refute Vigilantius’s views and brand him as a heretic. Jerome states that Christians never adore martyrs or any humans as gods. Concerning the burning of tapers in honour of martyrs, Jerome takes the side of the ordinary Christians. He admits that some persons, being ‘ignorant and simple-​minded laymen’ (or, in any event, religious women), have zeal for God but not knowledge, and they adopt this practice in honour of the martyrs. ‘But what harm is thereby done to you?’ Jerome asks Vigilantius. Jerome defends 64. Aug. serm. 361.6. 65. Aug. ep. 29.11; also c. litt. Petil. 1.24.26. 66. Since Vigilantius’s arguments are only seen through Jerome’s vitriolic, ad hominem attack, we cannot know how accurately his ideas are conveyed. Kelly 1975, 286–​290; Hunter 1999, 401–​410; Kahlos 2010, 621–​643. 67. Hier. c. Vigil. 4.7; also c. Vigil. 10. For tapers, candles, and lamps, see Nilsson 1950, 96–​111.

Sacred times and spaces  193 the rituals, writing that ‘all those who light these tapers have their reward according to their faith,’ and he asks whether Vigilantius would call these kinds of people idolaters. Jerome admits that not all those who believe in Christ have passed from the error of idolatry. However, he continues, former worship of idols should not deter Christians from worshipping God now. Christians should not be afraid of having similar rituals and abstaining from rituals completely out of fear of appearing to worship God in a manner similar to idols. For while a ritual involving idols is to be abhorred, a ritual observed for the sake of the martyrs is to be allowed. Jerome verifies his interpretation of the proper Christian cult with arguments of authority: the authority of Christian emperors such as Constantius II and Arcadius, who promoted cults of martyrs, as well as the authority of the bishop of Rome, offering ‘sacrifices to the Lord’, as Jerome puts it, ‘over the venerable bones of the deceased Peter and Paul’. Consequently, Jerome’s boundaries followed different lines than those set by Vigilantius. Their disagreement was one of many disputes over authority among the fourth-​and fifth-​century ascetic circles. In their mutual rivalry, ascetic movements and their leaders engaged in vehement campaigns of denigration against one another.68 It has been commonplace in modern research to interpret the feasting at the tombs and martyria as a result of influences—​and even superstitions—​ transmitted by pagan converts or people whom scholars tend to call semi-​ Christians. However, as we already saw in ­chapter 10, the picture seems to have been less straightforward and unambiguous than that painted by ecclesiastical writers. P. A. Février asks whether we should speak of an earlier evolution of rituals that was common to both the Christian communities and the outside world. Similarly, Richard Saller warns us of the hazards of simplifying ancient contexts ‘by sharply separating ethnic and religious groups and reifying them with the historian’s hindsight’.69 Instead of perceiving ancient Christianity as something static and motionless, untainted and original, we should observe boundaries in continuous fluctuation within a constant re-​demarcation of frontiers. In altered circumstances with shifting needs of self-​identification, earlier conventions were re-​examined and condemned as pagan, demonic, or superstitious. The attitudes varied to a great extent:  in the eyes of fourth-​century legislators and emperors, many practices were valuable for maintaining societal coherence. For the Christian laity, local traditions such as banquets at the tombs and martyria were manifestations of social duty and devotion. However, for ecclesiastical leaders the reassessment of rituals of death and the martyr cult functioned as a reinforcement of Christian distinctiveness during identity crises. These leaders aimed at constructing a conceptual and intellectual divide between the Christian and the 68. Hier. c. Vigil. 7–​8. Ascetic groups also aroused suspicion with their extravagant practices; see Beskow 1988,  1–​11. 69. Février 1978, 214; Saller 2008, 6. See also the other chapters in Brink and Green 2008.

194  Time, place, practices pagan: in order to define what made Christians Christian, they needed to draw a frontier between Christian things and pagan things. Both funerary practices and martyr cults were constantly under dispute, and these conflicts can be interpreted as power struggles between two rival systems of patronage:  that of the Christian lay elite, and that of the ecclesiastical elite. We could also speak of conflicts of interest: either between the practitioners of local religion and the ideals of the elite, between the ‘first’ and ‘second churches’, between the religion of everyday social exchange and the religion of literate specialists, or between different Christian groups.70

70. For the different interpretative models, see Brown 1981, 32–​36 (rival systems of patronage), Frankfurter 2005, 268–​269 (the local religion model), MacMullen 2009 (the first and second churches), Stowers 2011b, 41–​51 (the religion of everyday social exchange and the religion of literate specialists), and Dunderberg 2013, 419–​440 (rivalry between different Christian groups).


Rhetoric and realities of magic


n Late Antiquity, magic was used in marginalizing and alienating people. In this chapter, I examine the ways in which different, often marginal or dissident, religious groups were depicted as practitioners of magic by the mainstream church and/​or rival groups. In particular, I look at the consequences that the label of magic had for group relations in Late Antiquity. Suspicion of magic and sorcery had deep roots in the Mediterranean world, and fears of magic mirrored intergroup and interreligious concerns and complications in late Roman society. This discussion focuses on the competition for spiritual authority between ritual experts.1 Magic functioned as a discursive category of social disapproval, and it proved to be a powerful cultural weapon against dissenting groups. In Chapter 10, I suggested that instead of sketching out magical practices, pagan survivals, or heretical distortions, and speaking of paganization, magicization, or simplification,2 we should explore the local creative applications in their different social milieus. The conventional and traditional distinction between religion and magic has repeatedly been challenged in recent scholarship as untenable.3 Accordingly, the term ‘magic’ has been taken as referring to alternative, deviant, private, and usually unaccepted forms of ritual behaviour.4 The solutions of modern scholars for how to handle the concept of magic vary.5 One can either accept all rituals and 1. Ullucci 2014, 21–​31 speaks of ‘religious experts’. I decided to use the term ‘ritual experts’, as I decline to take a stand on which practices are religion and which are magic. 2. Flint 1991, 4–​6 speaks of ‘magical’ survivals instead of ‘paganism’ or ‘primitive religion’, because Flint wants to avoid the burdens of implicit condemnation that these words carry with them. However, the word ‘magic’ may carry an even heavier burden. Velásquez Soriano 2010, 611 writes about ‘the simplifications of Christian concepts that helped give Christian magic its specific shape’. 3. Douglas 1978 [1966], 23–​24; Gordon and Marco Simón 2010b; Meyer and Mirecki 1995a; Ritner 1995, 43–​ 44; Remus 1999, 258–​298; Meyer and Smith 1999, 1–​5; Meltzer 1999, 13–​14; Markus 1996, 126; Frankfurter 1997, 131; Frankfurter 2002, 159; Briquel 1997, 177; Janowitz 2002, xiv–​xviii; J. Z. Smith 1995, 16; Gordon 1999. 4. For surveys of the debates on the term ‘magic’, in Antiquity in particular, see Meyer and Mirecki 1995b, 2–​3; Versnel 1991, 177–​192; Remus 1999, 258–​272; Stratton 2007, xi, 4–​12; J. Z. Smith 1995, 15–​17; in general, see Douglas 1978 [1966], 58–​60; Hutton 2004. Versnel 1991, 185–​192, Graf 1995, 29–​42, Schäfer 1997, 24–​25, Rives 2003, 315–​316, and partly J. Z. Smith 1995, 15–​17 defend the use of ‘magic’ as a heuristic tool, a comparative and etic term (that is, from outside). 5. Stolte 2002, 105 makes a prudent decision in not giving a precise definition of magic, but referring in a loose way to the practices and beliefs that deal with the ‘supernatural’ but are not part of established religion. Gordon 1997, 66–​67 uses the term ‘magician’ ‘as a shorthand’. Velásquez Soriano 2010, 602 n. 2 uses the term ‘magic’ ‘for convenience’, equivalent to ‘instrumental religion’.

Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450. Maijastina Kahlos. Oxford University Press (2020). © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190067250.001.0001

196  Time, place, practices beliefs under the blanket term ‘religion’, or one can bundle all rituals and beliefs together into the concept ‘magic’—​again, these definitions depend on the interpreter.6 Many scholars decline to use the term ‘magic’ and instead prefer more precise terms for specific practices, such as libations, incantations, curse tablets, binding spells, divination, and rituals of an apotropaic or exorcistic character.7 I prefer to treat magic as a socially constructed object of knowledge whose content and formulations varied, according to different social contexts and circumstances, following here the theoretical considerations formulated by Kimberly Stratton.8 The meanings of rituals as proper religious acts or distorted magical ones are attributed by actors and observers. Most of the practices—​for example, sacrifices, libation, curses, prayers, and divination—​were performed both in official sanctioned contexts (‘religion’) and in marginal unsanctioned ones (‘magic’). This applies to Graeco-​Roman, Jewish, and Christian traditions. As J. Z. Smith remarks, ‘every sort of society appears to have a term (or terms) designating some modes of ritual activities, some beliefs, and some ritual practitioners as dangerous, and/​or illegal, and/​or deviant’; therefore, he maintains that in the discourse of magic, we should ‘shift attention away from the act and actor to the accuser and the accusation’.9 Accordingly, I  use the term ‘magic’ only to demonstrate how late antique writers themselves used the term in their discourse of ritual censure—​not to express what I as a modern observer would deem any of these practices to be. If one needs to define magic, terms such as ‘unsanctioned religious activity’, ‘ritual power’, or ‘extra-​cultic ritual practices’ will be adequate.10 Thus, magic functions as a boundary-​making concept in the demarcation between sanctioned and unsanctioned cultic behaviour. Both religion and magic are social constructs, which are formed and reformed through ongoing cultural negotiation. As devices, ‘magic’ and ‘magician’ are used to justify and articulate fears and anxieties within society. In analysing late antique discussions on magic, it is important to ask which practices were defined as magic as well as who made the definitions.11 The function of a boundary-​marking category is observable in many late antique traditions, both religious and philosophical. The early fourth-​century Neoplatonist Iamblichus developed a distinction of religion and magic in which

6. Frankfurter 2005 uses the blanket term ‘religion’. 7. Gager 1992; BeDuhn 1995, 425; Janowitz 2002. Meyer and Smith 1999 simply uses ‘texts of ritual power’ (even though the conventional term ‘magic’ appears in the title, Ancient Christian Magic). J. Z. Smith 1995, 16–​17 questions the use of ‘magic’ as a ‘substantive term in second-​order, theoretical, academic discourse’, and suggests categories such as ‘healing’, ‘divining’, and ‘execrative’ as better. 8. Stratton 2007, xi, 2–​3, 14–​17, 23; also Gordon and Marco Simón 2010a, 5. 9. J. Z. Smith 1995, 17–​18. 10. On unsanctioned religious activity, see Phillips 1991, 262–​263. On ritual power, see Meyer and Smith 1999, 1 and Gordon and Marco Simón 2010a, 4. On extra-​cultic ritual practices, see Frankfurter 2005, 279. 11. On magic in relation to boundary-​making, see Dufault 2006, 61 and Stratton 2007, x.

Rhetoric and realities of magic  197 he labelled as magic those rituals he thought could not contain any spiritual or pious aspect. In Iamblichus’s dichotomy, theurgy represented good and acceptable religious activity, whereas goeteia was objectionable witchcraft. Theurgy, or ‘divine work’, was not dependent on human will, whereas magic was mere human technique. Correspondingly, another Neoplatonist, the fifth-​century Proclus, used the label of magic to denigrate those practices that he did not accept in his system of theurgy, the genuine religion.12 The theurgy that Iamblichus and Proclus regarded as the supreme form of religion was classified by Christian writers as magic: Augustine bundled magia, goetia, and theurgia into the same category of magic.13 We can also see other religious or philosophical groups delineating their categories of magic. Manichaeans, who themselves were denounced and associated with magic by Roman legislators and Christian writers, critiqued what they regarded as magic. In the Manichaean work Kephalaia, practices of other religions such as Zoroastrianism are condemned as ‘magic rites and spells of darkness’ and ‘magic rites of error’.14 Dissenters and magic accusations Accusations of magic have an extensive history in the Mediterranean world before Late Antiquity. As a marginalizing strategy, they usually reveal a contest over religious authority. In this rivalry, each group claims to be acting with divine authority, while rivals are reviled as mere charlatans or, even worse, the accomplices of demons. Therefore, the mutual accusations reflect a rivalry between charismatic miracle-​workers and other ritual specialists in the religious marketplace of the empire. They also inform us about the increasing interest in ritual experts. This can be observed in the growing variety of religious options during the imperial period from the first to the third century, as well as in the melting pot of the late antique world.15 The charge of magic was one of the customary polemical strategies against rival and often deviant forms of ritual, texts, and behaviour. As we have seen, magic was by no means the only pejorative label; practices could also be dismissed as idolatrous, superstitious, pagan, barbarian, and heretic. All 12. Iambl. myst. 2.11, 3.26, 3.28, 3.31, 161.10–​16. Procl. comm. rep. 1.255.19, 1.29.14. Dufault 2006, 73–​76; Shaw 1985, 2; Janowitz 2002, 11–​13. 13. Aug. civ. 10.10, using Porphyry’s critique of theurgy. Augustine dedicates almost the entirety of Book 10 of City of God to refute Neoplatonists and theurgy. Dillon 2007, 122 remarks that theurgy was activity in relation to the gods, ‘which is really no more than the Hellenic equivalent of Christian religious observance, or sacramental theology’. When the denigrating rhetoric by Christian writers is removed, we perceive theurgists to seek the same result as Christians through their liturgy: a bridge to the absolute beyond the grasp of human intellect; see Shaw 1985, 11. Again, however, the late antique Christian labelling of theurgy as magic has exerted a strong influence on modern scholars (e.g., Barb 1963, 100–​125 and even Flint 1999, 286–​288). For a discussion, see Knipe 2011, 163–​170; Meyer and Smith 1999, 2. 14. For Manichaeans being labelled as magicians, see, e.g., Epiph. pan. 66.10. Diocletian’s decree against Manichaeans in 297/​302 linked their religion with magic:  Mos. et Rom. leg. coll. 15.3.5; Kephalaia 31.25, 31.30 (Gardner 1995, 35). See Coyle 2004, 220–​221; BeDuhn 1995, 423–​425. 15. Garrett 1989, 4; Stratton 2007, 7; Bremmer and Veenstra 2002a, ix–​xi.

198  Time, place, practices of these categories were versatile and ever-​mutating; accordingly, they were expedient. Consequently, it is imperative not to read late antique accusations at face value, but rather to interpret them within the context of rhetorical invective and slander, often in a rivalry for spiritual authority between ritual experts. Stereotypes and images nonetheless become real in the sense that they influence human decisions and actions. This applies to the label of magic as well. As Stratton remarks, ‘once the notion magic exists, it takes on a social reality’.16 ‘Magic’ and ‘magician’ were habitually labels that were applied from outside. In most cases, individuals and groups did not apply the terms ‘magic’ and ‘magician’ to themselves. On the contrary, they used all the persuasive and argumentative means available to repudiate the charge.17 In the early imperial period, Christians had belonged to a number of religious groups that attempted to avoid being accused of sorcery. In the eyes of Graeco-​Roman outsiders, Christian practices resembled widespread stereotypes of magic.18 The second-​century Platonist Celsus labelled Jesus as a magician who exerted demonic powers, comparing him to charlatans who performed their tricks for money in marketplaces.19 As late as the fourth century, Augustine and Athanasius report of pagan slanders of magic targeted against Jesus.20 Emperor Julian dismissed the Apostles and other Christian leaders as practitioners of magic.21 With the Christian turnover, accusations of magic against Christians were refuted and hurled back against Graeco-​ Roman cults and practices. Christian writers held two views of the origin of magic. The first strand followed the widespread Graeco-​Roman idea about the beginning of magic. According to this view, magic had been invented by humans. The second view followed the Jewish tradition, according to which magic with sacrifices, incense, and libations had been taught to humans—​women in particular—​by fallen angels.22 Thus, in the Christian interpretation, sacrifices, offering incense, and libations, which made up the essential part of Graeco-​Roman religious life, were magic.

1 6. Stratton 2007, 17–​18; also Ritner 1995, 59. 17. Individuals could sometimes view themselves as magicians and their art as magic, usually in a positive empowering sense. Some ritual experts seem to have intentionally engaged in unsanctioned practices that they saw as subversive and magical, thus deliberately transgressing the societal religious norms. J. Z. Smith 1995, 18; Stratton 2007, xi, 15; Janowitz 2002, xii; Ogden 1999, 84, 86; Wilburn 2012, 15. 18. Christian miracle-​workers’ use of the name of Jesus in their healing practices and exorcisms looked like many practices that were commonly considered magical; cf. Tert. anim. 57.1, 57.3. Ogden 1999, 16; Garrett 1989, 3, 155 n. 25. 19. Celsus in Orig. c. Cels. 1.6, 1.28, 1.38, 1.46, 1.68, 3.44, 5.12, 2.9, 2.14, 2.16, 2.48, 2.49, 6.77. 20. Aug. cons. ev. 1.10.15; c. Faust. 29; Athan. incarn. 48. The label of magician being attached to Jesus is reported in Eus. dem. ev. 3.6; Arnob. nat. 1.43; Lact. inst. 4.15. Bremmer 2002, 53–​54; Luck 1999, 124; Flint 1999, 329; Courcelle 1958, 149–​186; Blänsdorf 2010, 240. 21. Julian (c. Gal. 99E) writes that the Apostle Paul outdid every other wizard and charlatan anywhere. See also Hier. tract. in psalm. 81; Aug. cons. ev. 1.9.14, 1.10.15, 1.11.17. 22. This interpretation of Genesis 6:1–​4 was derived from the apocryphal Book of Enoch (1 Enoch 6:1–​3, 7:1–​ 2). Flint 1999, 293–​294; Knust 2005, 122–​123.

Rhetoric and realities of magic  199 The question of whether magic was understood as a human invention or demonic machinery was by no means trivial. In the Christian interpretation of magic as demonic design, magic was not human charlatanism and trickery, but based on commerce with demons. Christian writers not only connected magic with demons, but they also labelled Graeco-​Roman cults as magic, and thus interpreted them as dealing with evil spirits.23 According to this line of thought, Augustine stated that demons were able to do things that were beyond human capacities (e.g., causing and curing illnesses and predicting the future).24 As a result, demons misled humans with false miracles and signs to regard them as gods.25 The demonization of rivals seems to have been a routine element in the polemics of religious, philosophical, and ethnic groups throughout the late antique Mediterranean and Near Eastern world. In their polemics, Christian writers habitually referred to the presence of demons, not only in Graeco-​Roman cults and practices, but in all societal life. Jews had their share of demonization: John Chrysostom stated that demons inhabited synagogues.26 In the late antique worldview, demons functioned as the explanation of diseases and other misfortunes of human life. The early Christian fixation with demons even intensified the darkening of the late antique view of the universe.27 However, daimons/​demons were not a Christian innovation, as supernatural beings that were either good or wicked had been part of the Graeco-​Roman worldview. The Christian input was to repeatedly announce that all demons were evil.28 Augustine declared that, in reality, demons are spirits ‘whose only desire is to do harm, who are completely alien from any kind of justice, swollen with arrogance, purple with envy, and full of crafty deception’.29 Furthermore, the specific Christian contribution was to interpret the traditional Graeco-​Roman gods as utterly hostile and treacherous demons. In the fourth and fifth centuries, 23. For the demonization of polytheistic cults and practices, see Markus 1996, 130; Kühn 1997, 299–​307; Janowitz 2001, 18–​19; Kahlos 2007, 172–​177. 24. On predicting the future, see Aug. div. daem. 1, 3.7, 4.7–​8; civ. 8.15, 8.18, 9.1, 9.22, 18.15, 21.6. On causing illnesses, see Aug. div. daem. 5.9; enarr. ps. 130.7. Abilities that were usually explained as due to demons’ aerial bodies were not questioned by Christian writers; e.g., Aug. div. daem. 2.6, 3.7; civ. 18.15, 21.6. 25. On the deception of demons, see Aug. cons. ev. 1.12.18; ep. 102.20; div. daem. 6.10; doctr. 2.23.35; c. Faust. 22.17; civ. 8.22, 18.18; cf. Zeno Veron. serm. 1.1.3; Mart. Brac. corr. 6–​7; Greg. Nyss. or. cat. 6; Macar. Magn. apocr. 2.21. 26. Ioh. Chrys. adv. Iud. 1.6. 27. On the darkening of the late antique universe with evil demons, see Armstrong 1992, 50 and Liebeschuetz 1979, 269. 28. Christian authors adopted the term daimon/​daemon, which was already used by Graeco-​Roman writers, but gave it a totally negative meaning. For Greek writers such as Plutarch, Cornelius Labeo, and Porphyry of Tyre, daimons were supernatural intermediary beings between gods and humans; there were both beneficent good daimons and harmful, wicked ones. As Pépin 1977, 29–​37, Markus 1996, 130–​131, Flint 1999, 326–​327, Brown 1999, 290–​291, and Blänsdorf 2010, 239–​240 point out, there were many similarities between Christian and Graeco-​ Roman views of angels (good demons) and demons (wicked angels). On the development of the beliefs in daimons/​ demons, see Kahlos 2007, 173–​174; Gordon 1999, 228–​229; Klostergaard Petersen 2003, 24–​26. 29. Aug. civ. 8.22. In the eighth and ninth books of the City of God, Augustine debates with Graeco-​Roman authors on the nature of demons and whether they are to be regarded as good or evil. Augustine stresses that there are no good demons: Aug. civ. 6.4, 9.2, 9.19. In addition, demons are always malicious: Aug. enarr. ps. 26.2.19.

200  Time, place, practices this identification of the traditional gods with demons became commonplace. Christian writers continually referred to the Graeco-​Roman gods as demons (daemonia, daemones), impure spirits (spiritus immundi), and wicked angels (angeli maligni).30 The connection between Graeco-​Roman religions and magic as a form of demonic deceit is clearly expressed in the City of God, in which Augustine discusses Numa Pompilius, the mythical king of the Romans. He represents Numa Pompilius as making a pact with demonic forces, thus portraying the legendary founder of the Roman civic religion as a magician.31 Roman suspicions and Christian fears In the Roman Empire, religious groups that fell outside the public civic religion were at risk of being charged with practising magic. This had been a matter of serious concern for Christian groups from the first to the early fourth century, especially at the turn of the third century when there was a clear hardening of both popular attitudes to and imperial repression of practices deemed as magic. The same fears were faced by adherents of pagan cults and deviant Christians from the fourth century onwards as the attitudes towards people labelled as magicians became even more severe under the Christian emperors. The label of magic was by no means harmless, as it could lead to problems with Roman authorities.32 In Graeco-​Roman society, religion had been emphatically public, and secret and private rituals had been regarded with suspicion and could end up considered as magic. The fourth-​century Christian emperors inherited the fear of private practices associated with treason and plots against the emperor. The privacy and secrecy of rituals, especially divinatory practices, were considered a threat to imperial rule. Since the early imperial period, emperors aimed to control knowledge of the future and tried to restrain private divination, which they believed to be connected with conspiracy and treason. Consequently, private and secret rituals such as private divination were constantly at risk of falling into the 30. Aug. div. daem. 2.6; serm. 198augm (=Dolbeau 26.3); civ. passim; e.g., 4.1, 4.16, 4.29, 2.2, 2.4, 2.10, 1.31, 2.5, 2.25, 2.29, 3.10, 4.25, 4.27. Other writers: Theodoret. eccl. 5.22.3–​6; Gaudent. tract. 6.5–​6; 12.8; Leo M. serm. 8; Sulp. Sev. v. Mart. 22; dial. 2.13.6, 3.6.4; Mart. Brac. corr.  8–​9. 31. Aug. civ. 7.34–​35. According to Augustine (civ. 7.33–​34; 9.15), Christianity had revealed the fraud of demons; see also civ. 10.9; serm. 198augm (=Dolbeau 26.3). Similarly, Eusebius of Caesarea (dem. ev. 5) had refuted accusations of sorcery against Christians and hurled these charges back, linking Graeco-​Roman practices such as oracles, libations and incense with magic and demons. 32. A Republican law, Lex Cornelia de sicariis et veneficiis (81 BCE), was targeted against murderers and poisoners. A performer of magic could be put in the same category as a poisoner (veneficus). The exposition of Lex Cornelia in Paulus’s Sententiae (5.23.14–​18, FIRA II, 409) shows that the law was interpreted to penalize many practices stigmatized with the label of magic. The passage is probably not a genuine work of Paulus, but rather derives from the early fourth century. Moreover, during the imperial period, private divination, astrology, and Chaldean practices were gradually associated with magic, and they carried the threat of banishment and even execution: see, e.g., the Senatus consultum of 17 CE: mathematicis, Chaldaeis, ariolis et ceteris, qui simile incertum fecerint. Mos. et Rom. leg. coll. 15.2.1. Rives 2003, 317–​321, 331–​335; Rives 2006, 47–​67; Gordon and Marco Simón 2010a, 10; Kippenberg 1997, 147–​150; Graf 2002, 89; Dickie 2010, 94.

Rhetoric and realities of magic  201 category of forbidden magical practices.33 Christian emperors proscribed secret rituals such as sacrifices and divination performed privately behind closed doors. Constantine forbade haruspicina and private sacrifices. He nonetheless explicitly allowed haruspices to perform their rituals in public, even though, with aspersion, he called their practice superstitio. While Constantine’s decree did not classify divination in the category of magic, private and secret rituals were always at risk of being associated with magic.34 Constantius II linked divination and magic in his legislation. In 357, he decreed that nobody was to consult a diviner, an astrologer, or a soothsayer; then he listed augurs and seers who were to be made to fall silent, as well as Chaldeans, magicians, and ‘all the rest’, who, because of the greatness of their crimes, were called malefactors (malefici) by the people. The inquisitiveness (curiositas) of divination had to be silenced.35 Injunctions against a combination of magical and divinatory practices are repeated in the early fifth-​ century legislation of Honorius and Theodosius II, such as in the law of 409 de maleficis et mathematicis, in which astrologers (mathematici) are ordered to be recalled to the ‘worship of the catholic religion’ and their books ‘consumed in flames before the eyes of the bishops’.36 Late antique legislation often correlates with the perceptions of the ecclesiastical elite. Inquisitiveness, mentioned in Constantius’s decree in 357, was closely associated with interest in magic. Augustine condemns curiositas as a vice and vanity, and he links it with demonic divination and the art of magic.37 Augustine labelled the old Roman civic religion, with its traditional divinatory practices, as magic and, consequently, an illegal activity. After Augustine, the bundle of magic and divination—​private and public alike—​became customary in late antique treatises on magic and idolatry. The early fifth-​century writer Apponius condemns a convenient bunch of practices that demons use to ensnare human hearts: magical spells, maleficia, augury, astrology, mathesis, predictions gained from the calls or flights of birds, and haruspicina, or the scrutiny of entrails.38 Christian emperors outlawed maleficium, ‘malign magic’, which was performed to hurt other people.39 The specific rituals that were forbidden varied from decree to decree and from emperor to emperor. Late antique legislators, however, 33. Rives 2003, 317–​321, 331–​335; Errington 2006, 119. Fögen 1993, 254–​321, argues that emperors, especially during the fourth century, tried to monopolize the access of divine knowledge, restricting the ‘Wissensmonopol’ to emperors and bishops only. 34. CTh 9.16.1 (in 319); also 9.16.2 (in 319), 9.18.4 (in 321). Martroye 1930, 671–​672; Graf 2002, 101; Briquel 2000, 188–​189; Trombley 1993a, 60. Similarly, in the beginning of his reign, Theodosius I did not prohibit public pagan ceremonies but he forbade private activities that were associated with magical arts: CTh 16.10.12 (in 392). 35. CTh 9.16.4 (in 357). 36. CTh 9.16.12 (in 409) de maleficis et mathematicis. For the connection between magic, divination, and astrology, see Escribano Paño 2010, 122, 134. 37. As Graf 2002, 102 points out, this practice of aggregation is very much in line with Augustine’s association of magic, divination, and idolatry (doctr. 2.20.30–​2.24.37), as all involve communication with demons; also Aug. div. daem. 3.7; serm. 198augm (=Dolbeau 26.46); civ. 10.9. 38. Appon. expos. cant. 7.11 (CCSL 19, 159). 39. CTh 9.16.9 (in 371), 9.16.10 (in 371), 9.38.4 (in 368).

202  Time, place, practices made a distinction between malign, harmful magic and harmless, beneficial remedies, often permitting healing practices and divination, which were held to be innocuous and even of potential help to the community. Constantine distinguished between practices that were ‘remedies sought for human bodies’, as well as devices for protecting harvests against rains and hail—​these were allowed—​ and magic that was aimed at killing or seducing someone—​this was forbidden. In the case of permitted remedies and protective devices, it was explained that no one’s safety or reputation was damaged: on the contrary, they kept divine gifts and human labour from harm. It is also stressed that the performer acts innocently (innocenter) and the act is beneficent.40 Similar emphasis on the intention and the outcome is found in a decree of Valentinian I that allowed the performance of benevolent haruspicina. It was only forbidden to practise it in a damaging way (nocenter).41 As already noted, it was the private nature of practices that also made them problematic and threatening for Christian emperors. Over the course of the fourth century, traditional Graeco-​Roman cults gradually lost their public civic nature and consequently became private cults. As private practices, traditional rituals were at risk of being labelled magic. Many laws included another vague term, superstitio, which could be interpreted and targeted against a variety of practices, previously public or private, permitted or forbidden. This was not necessarily what had been explicitly intended by the laws.42 Not only were divination (including the traditional Roman augury and haruspicina performed in public) and astrology gradually bundled together with magic into a single thing, but pagan cults and heretical sects were also associated with magic.43 It is nonetheless worth noting that traditional pagan practices were not prohibited under the category of magic in the fourth-​century legislation preserved in the Theodosian Code.44 It was the ecclesiastical writers who argued vehemently that pagan cults and magic belonged together. Even though there were probably not great numbers of criminal proceedings concerning magic, from time to time the label of magic was employed against political and ecclesiastical rivals, and being suspected of magic was by 40. CTh 9.16.3 (in 319/​321). Rituals of power for protecting fields against hail were a widespread tradition throughout the Mediterranean; for example, in a Christian phylactery from Sicily (late 4th–​late 6th century), Jesus Christ, angels, pagan deities, and mysterious beings are invoked to protect a vineyard against a demon that rains down hail (Manganaro 1963; Nieto 2010, 565 n.  5). Roman jurisprudents distinguished between bad and good magic: Gaius in Dig. 50.16.236. Cf. the distinction between ‘black’ and ‘white magic’ often made in modern research; see, e.g., Barb 1963, 100–​125. 41. CTh 9.16.9 (in 371). Augustine (doctr. 2.20.30, 2.29.45) stressed the intention of ambiguous practices: it was the intention of the performer that defined whether the act was a mere human device (in medicine or in agriculture) or demonic machinery. For similar arguments in Rabbinic texts, see Janowitz 2001, 22–​23. 42. On unexpected outcomes, see Sandwell 2005, 120–​123. For superstitio, see Salzman 1987, 177–​183. 43. The connection of magic with heresies was construed by early heresiologists such as Irenaeus and Hippolytus, and later by Epiphanius of Salamis. 44. This is stressed by McLynn 2009, 575–​576.

Rhetoric and realities of magic  203 no means a harmless affair. Thus, accusations of magic were often levelled, not only by emperors themselves against persons they regarded as a threat, but also by aristocrats and bishops against their political and ecclesiastical rivals.45 Fears of magic led to a series of criminal proceedings under the reigns of the Christian emperors Constantius II, Valentinian I, and Valens. One among those accused during the reign of Constantius II was Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria, who was charged with illicit divination and ‘other practices abhorrent to the religion over which he presided’.46 Accusations were linked not only with the great ecclesiastical disputes, but also with imperial politics. Ammianus Marcellinus tells us about several trials of magic during the reigns of Valentinian I and Valens.47 The accusations against Paulinus, the bishop of Dacia (or Adana), may have also been related to ecclesiastical power struggles: he was charged with being a sorcerer (maleficus) and his magical books were burned. Another case was the Christian ascetic Priscillian, who was prosecuted for heresy, Manichaeism, and sorcery.48 At the Council of Ephesus in 449, a Syrian bishop, Sophronius of Tella, was charged by his colleagues with astrology, divination, the ‘vaticinative art of the pagans’, and Nestorian heresy.49 At first glance, one gets the impression of an increased number of magic trials in the fourth century. As Peter Brown has shown, there was hardly a specific increase in the phenomenon called magic, but rather growing concern by the fourth-​century emperors to eliminate political rivals and control sources of knowledge in their power struggles. Prosecutions for performing magic were a symptom of the fears of the people and rulers—​ which were real—​rather than any increase in unsanctioned practices, which were either real or imagined. The concept of magic was suitably vague, and thus charges involving it could be adjusted and applied in various circumstances.50 45. For example, in the midst of power struggles in Constantine’s court, the Neoplatonic philosopher Sopater was accused of binding favourable winds by magical means and thus preventing the supply of corn getting to Constantinople; he was executed by Constantine (Eunap. v. soph. 6.7–​18 Goulet (= LCL 134, 384)). A similar politically motivated charge was directed in the sixth century against Boethius: Boeth. cons. 1.4.36–​37; Rousseau 1979, 871–​889. On the political instrumentalization of magic accusations, see Gordon and Marco Simón 2010a, 12–​13; Escribano Paño 2010, 123–​125. 46. Amm. 15.7.7–​10 (charges against Athanasius; also in Sozom. eccl. 4.10; Socr. eccl. 1.27–​35), Amm. 16.8.2–​4, 18.3, 19.12.14 (anyone who happened to pass by tombs at night was at risk of being accused of magic and necromancy). For the case of Athanasius, see Barnes 1993, 166–​167. 47. 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. Ammianus depicts Valentinian I as an utterly paranoid ruler. Even though the magic trials are historical, it is not necessary to take everything in Ammianus’s reports at face value; one can also analyse them as a drama embroidered in grand style by the historian (for example, the literary topos of tyranny). On the trials in the reigns of Valentinian I and Valens, see Lizzi Testa 2004, 209–​235; Matthews 1989, 210–​225; Funke 1967, 165–​175. Wiebe 1995, 86–​168 interprets the magic trials as directed against pro-​Julianic ‘pagan opposition’. Against Wiebe’s view, Lenski 2002, 226–​228, 213 argues that the trials were ‘hardly bent on the destruction of a religion’. 48. Paulinus: Hilar. Pict. Collectanea Antiariana Parisina (Fragmenta Historica)A 4.1.27 (CSEL 65, 66). Barnes 1993, 74; Escribano Paño 2010, 125–​126. The bishopric of Paulinus has sometimes been corrected as Adana. 49. The Syrian acts of the ‘Robber’ Council of Ephesus in 449. Trans. Perry 1881, 190–​197. The accusations included divination by means of bread and cheese, a bowl filled with water and oil, as well as eggs. Peterson 1959, 333–​345; Graf 2002, 103; Luck 1999, 155–​156; Schor 2011, 126–​127. 50. Brown 1970 [1972], 25–​26; also Dufault 2006, 63; Flint 1999, 319–​322.

204  Time, place, practices From traditional civic rituals to magic In the early empire, for the Roman elite and legislators, the Roman civic religion was religio, while many other, foreign or popular beliefs and practices were bundled under the term superstitio. Furthermore, beliefs and practices associated with the label of magic were also lumped into the package of superstitio. This concept of superstitio was nonetheless a wider concept than magic, and superstitio as such was not illegal. Magic was often understood as illegal activity that could even be punished by death.51 Christian writers, however, effected an inversion of the Roman conception, by means of which the Roman civic religion and other non-​Christian cults were deemed as superstitio while the Christian cult was regarded as the only proper religio. The Roman religion and other non-​ Christian cults were considered magic because, in the eyes of Christians, they involved the worship of demons. However, this association between pagan cults and magic construed by Christian writers was not immediately realized in late Roman societal life. In fact, pagan cults and magic were not easily coupled with each other. Therefore, two competing interpretations of the term superstitio coexisted, for instance, in fourth-​century imperial legislation. From the late fourth century onwards, however, superstitio was understood as referring to pagan cults and practices, and to a great extent it was associated with magic.52 An ensemble consisting of three vague and protean concepts—​paganism, superstitio, and magic—​ was gradually established. Ecclesiastical leaders enhanced this aggregation in their argumentation. The most prominent author was Augustine, who in On the Christian Doctrine delineated the concept of superstitio as comprising ‘anything established by humans that refers to the making and worshipping of idols, or the worshipping of creation or any part of creation as God, or to consultations and certain agreed codes of communication, settled in collusion with demons’.53 Augustine worked out a dichotomy between the public and the private, as well as between the interests of the community and personal aspirations. This dichotomy resembles earlier Roman ideas of the divergence of religio and superstitio, where religio had been the official and public religious rituals of the Roman state, while superstitio had represented the private and unofficial religious sphere. Augustine elaborated further on the connection between traditional pagan cults, divination, and magic in his early fifth-​century treatise against divinatory practices, On the Divination of Demons. He reported on a (fictive or real) conversation in which he helped lay Christians to formulate rebuttals to arguments 51. On the concept of superstitio in Roman discourse, see Gordon 1990, 237, 253; Gordon 2008, 72–​94; Grodzynski 1974, 36–​60; on the concept of superstition in general, see S. A. Smith 2008, 7–​55. 52. On the development and ambiguities of the concept superstitio in the fourth century, see Salzman 1987, 172–​188. 53. Aug. doctr. 2.20.30, 2.23.36. For Augustine’s concept of superstitio, see Markus 1996, 131–​139, 146; Dufault 2006, 77–​79; Graf 2002, 97–​98.

Rhetoric and realities of magic  205 that had been raised against Christianity by pagans.54 Even though pagans were mentioned as the critics, it is possible that Augustine’s discussion dealt with problematic issues that lay Christians disputed merely among themselves. Here the ‘pagan’ probably functioned as a mirror against which theological views were reflected, tested, and defended. According to Augustine, some people claimed that the forbidden pagan practices, even though they were illegal now, had not been evil in the past. Furthermore, these people reasoned that these practices had not been evil, because otherwise God would not have allowed them to occur. Consequently, the old pagan practices had not been morally evil, but made illegal, and in the past they had been tolerated by God, who in his omnipotence had let them occur. Against these claims, Augustine asked how it could be a good thing that these practices were now forbidden and overthrown. His opponents replied that they were now prohibited because they no longer pleased the omnipotent God, even though they had been pleasing to God in the past. To refute this claim, Augustine asked why such practices were now still performed in secret and punished when detected if the omnipotent God did not allow them to occur unless they pleased him. Thus, for Augustine, what had been performed in Roman civic religion had been evil, even if it was permitted by God to occur. However, for those who debated with Augustine, the former practices of Roman religion had been pleasing to God. They distinguished between practices recorded in pontifical books (legal and pleasing to God in the past) and practices that had been evil and illegal even in the past. The former practices, Augustine’s conversants stated, were no longer performed; the forbidden sacrifices that were still performed secretly and illegally (occulte atque illicite) should not even be compared with the pontifical type of sacrifice. Instead, they should be regarded as being the same as ‘things that are done in the night’, which among all illicit things had also been prohibited and condemned in pontifical books. Here Augustine’s discussants wanted to see a distinction made between the public, civic, and official—​sanctioned—​ on the one hand, and the private, unofficial, and secret—​unsanctioned—​on the other. For Augustine, no such distinction existed. He concluded the discussion, explicating that an act was not righteous just because God let it occur:  in his righteousness God might disapprove of an act, but in his omnipotence he could permit it to happen.55 A similar approach is found in one of Augustine’s recently found sermons edited by François Dolbeau, in which Augustine classifies all of the traditional

54. De divinatione daemonum discusses the traditional divinatory practices, whether they can be trusted, and why they sometimes come true. Augustine states that pagan predictions come from demons (that is, Graeco-​Roman gods), but they can sometimes be true because God allows them to know something of the future. The starting point of the treatise is a ‘pagan’ prediction of the destruction of Serapeum, which eventually took place in 391. On this work, see Kühn 1997, 291–​337. 55. Aug. div. daem. 2.4–​6. It is not clear what is meant by pontifical books, but it is possible that they allude to laws and regulations, official calendars, and pontifical annals.

206  Time, place, practices practices—​whether formerly public or private—​into the same group. In his division, there were two kinds of pagans: those who relied on the formerly public rituals, and those who engaged in Chaldean and magical rituals. All these things, he proclaims, are no longer practised in public because of the public laws in the name of Christ. Augustine adds that previously some of these practices had been public, as if they were public magic (tamquam magica publica).56 Consequently, in Augustine’s argumentation, the formerly public civic practices of Graeco-​ Roman communities are equated with magic. From dissent Christianity to magic In the polemic between Christian groups, writers aimed at undermining the legitimacy and divine authority of rival groups by accusing them of magic. The terms ‘heresy’ and ‘magic’ were intimately associated with each other, from the first-​and second-​century disputes onwards.57 One of the most famous cases was that of the fourth-​century bishop Priscillian of Avila. His ecclesiastical rivals, several Hispanian bishops—​Hydatius of Merida and Ithacius of Ossonuba among them—​accused him of incantations, obscenity, magic, and Manichaeism. After years of disputes in church councils (e.g., the Council of Saragossa in 380), the case was consigned to the imperial court of Magnus Maximus at Trier. Under questioning there, which most probably included torture, as was usual in cases of magic, Priscillian confessed that he had studied obscene doctrines, held nocturnal gatherings with shameful women, and prayed while naked. He was accused of maleficium and convicted to death in 385.58 In the polemic and charges against Priscillian and his followers, the elements of nocturnal (and thus clandestine) gatherings, sexual promiscuity, sorcery, heretical doctrines, and Manichaeism were all lumped together into a blend of dangerous magic. Nocturnal gatherings were traditionally regarded with suspicion and associated with conspiracy in Roman society.59 Sexual promiscuity was a stock slander against rival religious groups. In their polemic, mainstream Christian writers occasionally linked Manichaeism closely with magic. Furthermore, praying naked was associated 56. Aug. serm. 198augm (=Dolbeau 26; dated to 404). Augustine probably refers to the legislation of Theodosius I and his successors. For this sermon, see Lepelley 1998, 327–​342; Graf 2002, 98–​100. In this sermon, pagans are divided into two classes: those who rely on philosophy, and those who practice magic arts. It is worth recalling that Augustine does not necessarily describe the division of pagan practices in social reality, but these categories serve his rhetorical purposes in his attempt to embarrass intellectual pagans. 57. This is most apparent in the attacks of the second-​century heresiologist Irenaeus of Lyon against competing Christian groups and figures, whom he links to heresy and magic. Irenaeus of Lyon (haer. 1.13.1, 1.13.5, 7.41.1–​6) attacked the leader of a rival Christian group, Marcus, accusing him of magical improprieties. In a similar attack, Hippolytus (haer. 6.19–​20) presented Simon the Samaritan (Simon Magus) as a magician. Förster 1999, 54–​63, 132–​138, 360–​361; Bremmer 2002, 54; Bremmer 2000, 26. 58. Sulp. Sev. chron. 2.50.8 (CSEL 1). Canons of the Council of Saragossa (PL 84, 315–​318). On the charges against and the trials of Priscillian, see Chadwick 1976, 138–​148; Burrus 1995, 79–​98; Van Dam 1985b, 88–​106; Girardet 1974, 577–​608; Breyfogle 1995, 435–​454; Escribano Paño 2005, 122–​128. 59. Kahlos 2013b, 313–​344.

Rhetoric and realities of magic  207 with strong ritual powers. After Priscillian’s death, Priscillianism was associated with magic and the term was applied as a conventional label against other rival Christian groups.60 Another connection between heresy and magic was made in 398 when the imperial court led by the chamberlain Eutropius issued a decree against Eunomians, which equated them with sorcerers. This was the first time a Christian sect deemed as heretical was explicitly associated with magic in legislation. In the imperial decree, the mere possession of heretical books was treated as a crime of maleficium. The outlawed codices were to be burned immediately. Similar to other cases, magic accusations arose out of a situation of rivalry: the Eunomians were considered a political threat to Eutropius’s governing clique at the court. Escribano Paño even cautiously proposes that John Chrysostom was possibly behind the decree.61 Another example is the decree by Theodosius II in 435, in which he announces that Nestorians should be called Simonians because they imitate the crime of deserting God. In this way, Nestorians were labelled as the followers of Simon the Samaritan, who in the Christian tradition became the arch-​heretic Simon Magus, and were thus connected with magic.62 Your magic, my miracle In the preceding discussion, we saw that the concept of magic functioned as a boundary-​marker and was used in competitive situations where it was imperative for Christians and pagans alike to refute accusations of magic and redirect them against their opponents. After the Constantinian turn, as Christianity was gradually being established as the prevailing religion in the empire, the contest for authority between ritual experts continued. This is visible in the fourth-​and fifth-​century debates on magic and miracle, where magic and miracle were clearly contrasted with each other. In Christian accounts, miracles are the powerful acts of Christian holy men, bishops or saints, whereas representatives of the other side (whether pagans or rival Christians) are involved in magical acts.63 Furthermore, in Christian narratives, miracles compete in strength and effect with the deeds of others: the miracles of Christian holy men are depicted as far greater than the magical achievements of other religious groups. Both

6 0. Van Dam 1985b, 110–​114; Chadwick 1976, 18, 140; Breyfogle 1995, 444–​445; Burrus 1995, 48–​49, 115–​122. 61. CTh 16.5.34 (in 398). Escribano Paño 2010, 109, 129–​132 suggests that Paulus’s Sententiae 5.23.18, which forbade the possession of magical books (libri magicae artis), was the legal precedent for the decree. In imperial legislation, it was from time to time decreed that magical books were to be destroyed by burning. On the destruction of magical books, see Speyer 1981, 130–​133; Rives 2003, 332; Wiebe 1995, 119–​122; Rohmann 2016, 62–​110. The burning of magical books could occasionally be used as a pretext for pillaging houses of polytheists (e.g., during the religious conflict in Palestine reported by Marc. Diac. v. Porph. 71). Brown 1970 [1972], 24. 62. CTh 16.5.66. Simon the Samaritan was depicted as a performer of magic, both in the canonical Acts of the Apostles (8:5–​25) and in the apocryphal Acts of Peter. 63. Cf. Grant 1966, 93, which states, ‘your magic is my miracle, and vice versa’.

208  Time, place, practices Christian miracle-​workers and their rivals achieved their acts with the help of supernatural allies. Fritz Graf remarks that ‘the difference between the miracles of magicians and the saints, then, is not one of action or cosmology, it is one of magnitude’.64 A number of Christian writers discussed the mythical account of Moses and Pharaoh’s magicians (Exod. 7:8–​8:15) to show the supremacy of God’s holy men over pagan ritual experts.65 Similarly, Jerome’s account of the Christian holy man Hilarion illustrates the roles of magic and miracle in the contest between Christians and pagans in Gaza—​specifically, the worshippers of Marnas. A Christian charioteer asks Hilarion for help in a circus race, making his personal concern into a public cause for Christianity. Consequently, Hilarion gives Italicus water, which is then sprinkled on the stable, horses, charioteers, carriage, and barriers of the course. Naturally, the Christian charioteer wins the race, and the people of Gaza cry that the god Marnas has been defeated by Christ. In the aftermath, Hilarion’s adversaries accuse him of sorcery. Jerome’s narrative shows how Hilarion’s own group saw his ritual of power as the miracle of a holy man, while his opponents blamed him for using magic.66 It also indicates how the line between miracle and magic could be drawn, with a difference being made between public and private aspirations. One of the ways of discussing the boundaries of proper religion with miracles and magic that used tricks was again through the story of Moses and the Pharaoh’s magicians. In his discussion on their confrontation, Augustine explicates the dichotomy between genuine miracles and magical feats by arguing for the difference between public and private aspirations: God’s servants who perform miracles seek the good of their community and God’s glory, whereas magicians only look for their own benefit and glory. Moreover, miracles and magic are based on different types of authority. Magicians have a private contract with demons, but God’s holy men perform miracles as a public service.67 In the worldview that was filled with greater and lesser deities, with angels and demons, there was plenty of space for miracles. Augustine understood miracles as events that were not contrary to nature, but rather contrary to what is known of nature: since everything happens by the will of God, miracles are not contrary to nature, but they appear as miracles to humans because they are beyond human knowledge.68 Christian writers could admit that magicians—​that is, rival experts—​performed miracles, too, even though these were based on collaboration with demons and 6 4. Graf 2002, 94. 65. Aug. div. quaest. (octoginta) 73.79.1–​4; civ. 10.8; also Orig. c. Cels. 2.49–​51. In Jewish, Christian, and Graeco-​Roman circles, Moses was renowned as a mighty miracle-​worker imbued with Egyptian wisdom. Gager 1972, 140–​161; Wischmeyer 1998, 96; Luck 1999, 115. 66. Hier. v. Hilar. 20. On circus competitors trying to harm the horses and charioteers of the rival team through rituals of power, see Jordan 1988, 117–​134; Jordan 1994, 325–​335; Ogden 1999, 33. 67. Aug. div. quaest. (octoginta) 73.79.1–​4. Augustine condenses the difference into the words diverso fine et diverso iure, ‘with diverse ends and diverse authority’. 68. Aug. civ. 21.8, 22.8.

Rhetoric and realities of magic  209 thus distorted. Therefore, they were miracles of the wrong sort. The two poles of supernatural phenomena—​ miracle and magic—​ were distinguished according to their source of power, being either the true God or wicked demons. Miracles demonstrated legitimate divine power and conferred authority, whereas magic was considered human trickery or, in the worst case, the achievement of demons.69 The difference between Christian miracles and pagan magic was also articulated in relation to moral quality. Magicians were corrupt and licentious and worked their tricks with base selfish motives. Jesus and his followers could not be charlatans because they were pious and ascetic and they lived according to moral teachings.70 As noted earlier, ‘magic’ and ‘magician’ were labels that were usually struck from outside. Ritual experts did not usually wish to apply these terms to themselves, but instead did their best to evade the label. In the self-​image cherished by many Christian writers, Christians neither practised magic nor employed any props in their rituals.71 John Chrysostom states that good Christians resorted only to words in their practices, but nonetheless acknowledges the sign of the cross among the acceptable apparatus.72 Despite these apologetic affirmations, the late antique epigraphical and literary evidence, as well as Greek and Coptic papyri, indicate that many Christians made ample use of amulets, incantations, and rituals that church leaders deemed as magical.73 Bishops, who frequently forbade these practices, insisted upon the image of the genuine Christian who did not get involved in magic. For example, Augustine blamed his parishioners who have visited ritual experts, whom he calls ‘sorcerers’, for receiving remedies for illnesses. Instead, he advised his listeners to use an amulet with Gospel text on one’s head rather than an amulet of those unacceptable healers. Augustine reminded his listeners that he was pleased, not because a copy of the Gospel was done for this healing purpose, but because it was better than amulets made by others.74 69. Consult. Zacch. 1.13.2–​4; Aug. civ. 10.9, 10.16; cf. 4.19, 4.26; div. quaest. (octoginta) 73.79.1–​4. 70. Eus. dem. ev. 3.6.1–​3; 1.6.4. For the moral criterion in Eusebius’s argumentation, see Kofsky 2006, 199, 202. 71. E.g., Orig. c. Cels. 7.4, 1.6; Eus. dem. ev. 3.6.11; eccl. 7.10.4. Graeco-​Roman, Jewish, and Christian writers alike underlined that material equipment belonged to baser rituals, while rituals with only verbal formulas represented a more advanced level of ritual: see Janowitz 2002, 14–​16. 72. See John Chrysostom (hom. Col. 8.5 in 3:5–​15, PG 62, 357–​359), complaining about the use of amulets by Christians. 73. The Christian self-​image has been so convincing that modern scholars have been at odds with Christian writers, such as the second-​century writer Julius Africanus, who in his encyclopaedic work Kestoi shows broad knowledge of various remedies, incantations, and rituals traditionally regarded as magic. This led some modern scholars to doubt whether he was Christian at all. Julius Africanus inhabited the ambiguous space that did not fit into the clear boundaries set by church leaders. As Wallraff 2009, 51 notes, the alleged discrepancy between Julius Africanus’s religious conviction and magic disappears when it is observed in relation to the broad spectrum of the different contents and institutions of second-​century ‘Christianity’. On the remedies and rituals in Kestoi, see Meissner 2009, 17–​37. 74. Aug. tract. in Ioh. ev. 7.6–​7; 7.12. Augustine refers here to little copies of Gospels that were used as amulets. Wearing amulets was a widespread, everyday practice in Graeco-​Roman, Jewish and Christian circles alike. For example, John Chrysostom (hom. de statuis 19.14) refers to a practice among Antiochene women and children of wearing Gospel texts around their necks as ‘a powerful amulet’. On the ritual power of the Gospels and other sacred books, see Escribano Paño 2010, 129.

210  Time, place, practices The dichotomy of religion and magic can be outlined as a struggle of rival ritual experts. The ecclesiastical elite despised and condemned many local practices and clashed with local ritual experts. How could an ordinary late antique individual make a distinction between proper holy men and sorcerers? Even the clergy were not always sufficiently in the know to clearly demarcate the borderlines between accepted religious activities (sacraments) and unaccepted ones (magical practices). In Egypt, a local charismatic monk could be a former pagan priest—​in Christian eyes, a sorcerer. Likewise, the writers of ritual texts deemed as magical were probably local clergymen, ritual experts who had the knowledge and writing skills for amulets and spells.75 The vehement self-​assurance and condemnations by church leaders become more understandable against this background of Christian diversity in Late Antiquity. The repeated prohibitions of church councils and the complaints of bishops imply that many rituals and practices seen as magical persisted in the fourth to seventh centuries and onwards. Such categorizations were used to dismiss behaviour that was perceived as improper and un-​Christian; in these lists, pagan, divinatory, and magical practices were paralleled. This approach spanned from the Council of Ancyra in 314 to the Council of Braga in 572 and the Council of Constantinople in Trullo in 691, and so forth.76 This continuous marking and remarking of borderlines by ecclesiastical leaders in regard to magic has led many modern scholars to speak of the magicization of Christianity in Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. The idea is connected to the complaints of bishops and church councils about recent Christian converts who imported magical or pagan elements into Christianity. The idea is problematic for several reasons. First, it is based on the untenable assumption that magic and religion are separate and separable phenomena. Second, it implies that there were no such practices and beliefs that ecclesiastical writers, the elite, outsiders, and modern scholars together deemed as magic before the late antique transition in Christianity. Inferred here is the notion of an authentic, primordial Christianity originally untainted by this magic.77 This presupposition takes at face value the self-​assertive claims of a magicless Christianity, conveyed by Christian writers such as Augustine, which we have just discussed. Instead of magicization or the rise of magic, it would be more fitting to speak of a possible increasing interest in the supernatural in general, or of the rise of religion.78 Techniques such as apotropaic signs, protective objects and rituals, words of power, and divinatory

75. On continuities and blurred boundaries, see Frankfurter 1997, 127–​130; Frankfurter 2002, 168, 172; Brakke 2008, 94; Wischmeyer 1998, 103; Velásquez Soriano 2010, 603, 618. 76. Klingshirn 2003, 80; Flint 1999, 345; Kahlos forthcoming. 77. Even the title of Valerie Flint’s groundbreaking The Rise of Magic (1991) infers the idea of magicization. On the criticism of the idea of magicization, see Markus 1996, 142–​143; Kahlos 2007, 112. For the elusiveness of the magical practice, see Wilburn 2012, 20–​25. 78. Johnston 2000, 36 regards the increasing interest in ‘magical’ as part of a wider interest in ‘religion’.

Rhetoric and realities of magic  211 practices were not specifically Graeco-​Roman, Jewish, or Christian. Instead, they were shared by different, often competing religious groups and subgroups. These ritual technologies of life, which circulated as ritualistic koine throughout the Mediterranean world and beyond, belonged to a wide spectrum of methods of coping with the difficulties of human existence and crises of life, disease, childbirth, love, economic rivalry, stubborn neighbours, taxes, and death. The role of the ‘magician’, as H. D. Betz describes, was that of ‘a power and communications expert, crisis manager, miracle healer and inflictor of damages, and all-​purpose therapist and agent of worried, troubled, and troublesome souls’.79 Time, place, practices: Some conclusions In Section III, Time, place, practices, I have approached the late antique religious world in an alternative way—​by looking at local religion. This has involved an effort to get beyond the groupings of ‘Christians’ and ‘pagans’, and ‘orthodox’ and ‘heretics’, favoured in the imperial and ecclesiastical discourses. This is also a departure from the categorization of practices and beliefs as proper religion, superstition, and magic. Ecclesiastical leaders often condemned and censured local forms of religion as magic, pagan survivals, or heretical distortions. Most of the references we have regarding ordinary people and their activities come from the literate ecclesiastical elite, in a more or less formulaic or distorted fashion. Consequently, in my analysis of church leaders’ mentions, I have avoided making classifications or claims about what the past people’s allegiances were, focusing instead on an analysis of rhetoric. More reliable evidence is provided in the papyri, inscriptions, objects, and other archaeological material. I have offered the local religion model as an alternative way of looking at local practices on their own terms. As I have suggested, we could call that religious world ‘the third paganism’ or ‘popular Christianity’. However, the term as such is not significant. In my discussion on the transformation of practices, I  criticized the views in which the Christianization of the Mediterranean world has been understood as an infiltration of traditional pagan practices into Christian rituals after the Constantinian shift. I  also argued that the whole colligatory concept of Christianization is problematic. Neither does the term ‘pagan survivals’ do justice to the diversity of the late antique religious world. I  suggested that the religious changes can be sketched in several other ways, not only as a dichotomy between alleged pagans and alleged Christians, or as the Christianization of a pagan world. The Roman Empire witnessed a centuries-​long diffusion and cross-​ pollination of copious cults, practices, ideas, and beliefs, and the wide range of Christian groups was a part of these religious changes in Antiquity.

79. Betz 1992, xlvii. See also the title of Graf 1997, ‘How to Cope with a Difficult Life: A View of Ancient Magic’.

212  Time, place, practices I have discussed the topic of religious dissidents on the micro level of practices in everyday life. Economic issues and conflicts of interest in regular routines influenced people’s religious life more than the severe decrees of emperors, the canons of church councils, or the chastisement of bishops. When the emperors chose a group as something to favour or support, they recognized that religious group as a receiver of privileges and donations. The categories of ‘heretic’ and ‘catholic’ were used to distinguish between unauthorized possessors of church property and privileges. Consequently, recognition was also an issue of economy. I  have analysed the competition for the power and authority connected with euergetism and charity in the fourth and fifth centuries. The bonds of patronage with obligations and gifts were onerous. Bishops understood the significance that the ties of dependence had, and they aimed to outline philanthropic practices according to the lines of ecclesiastical authority. We also looked at the changing meanings and contents of times, places, and practices in the late Roman Empire. Concepts of sacred or profane, religious or non-​religious, or which were neutral regarding these were continuously redefined and renegotiated. Bishops disputed with their Christian parishioners about communal festivities and rituals that Christians took part in alongside pagans. I  examined bishops’ denunciations of Christian participation from the viewpoint of discursive boundary-​marking. The borders of ‘pagan’, ‘Christian’, ‘cultic’, and ‘civic’ were constantly shifting. The same local festivity could have different meanings for different persons and even for the same individual, according to the circumstances—​being either a cultic act, a civic celebration, mere merriment, or even all of these things. There was no single or identical meaning for everyone. In the analysis of the rhetoric and realities of magic, we have discussed the charges of magic against religious groups—​against Graeco-​ Roman cults by Christian writers, and against Christians by other Christians. What is common to these accusations of magic is the presence of mutual contestations between ritual experts over religious authority. This is apparent in the fourth-​and fifth-​century debates on magic and miracle. The striking thing about these debates is the use of similar techniques by holy men and magicians. Christian writers stressed that Christian holy men did not perform magic in their miracle-​working, but despite this ‘magicless’ Christian self-​image, the late antique literary, epigraphical, and papyrological evidence shows that many Christians made ample use of amulets, incantations, and rituals that ecclesiastical leaders deemed to be magical. The repeated complaints of bishops and church councils would seem to indicate that many rituals and practices judged as magical continued in the fourth to the seventh centuries. We have seen how bishops and legislators made attempts to repress and even eliminate religious ambiguity and dissent. What they were able to do was define which rituals were forbidden. But not even the most proactive bishop could control what was going on in peoples’ heads. Beliefs could be controlled only by

Rhetoric and realities of magic  213 forbidding practices—​namely, which rituals, celebrations, and liturgies one took part in. In this chapter, we have seen that it was difficult to limit these practices. The Roman legislation from the Republican and early imperial periods onwards had defined which kinds of religious activity were allowed, and late antique lawmakers followed this tradition when reclassifying and redefining such practices as sacrifices, libations, offerings of incense, and so forth. In several laws, these practices were listed in detail; for example, sacrifices were prohibited at night and during the day in temples, houses, and fields. At the same time that legislators reorganized religious activities into categories of allowed and disallowed practices, a new way of treating religious dissidence appeared in laws against heretics—​namely, the condemnation of false beliefs.80

80. E.g. CTh 16.10.12 (in 392). Garnsey and Humfress 2001, 138–​139; Fowden 1998, 553. Practice and belief are in a dialectical interplay with one another, not only in the way that practices presuppose belief in their significance. Judith Lieu 2004, 153 speaks of ‘dynamism and interaction between practice, perception, and response that a more static, creedal model fails to accommodate’.

Conclusion: The darkening age or the victory of John Doe?


n this book, we have looked at the religious transformations in Late Antiquity (from c. 350 to c. 450 CE) from the viewpoint of religious dissent, and analysed the various circumstances of religious dissenters, conventionally called ‘pagans’ and ‘heretics’. I have not aimed to provide a comprehensive treatment of all dissenters in all regions of the Roman Empire. Instead, I have brought together a wide range of evidence to illustrate the dynamics of rhetoric and reality—​including, among other things, the limits of imperial and ecclesiastical strivings towards unity, the deconstruction of the categories ‘pagan’ and ‘Christian’, as well as ‘orthodox’ and ‘heretic’, and the creativity and fluidity of local people in their practices. The time span under scrutiny covers the religious changes after the Constantinian turn and the major shifts in power relations between religious groups. During this period, there were vigorous attempts to construct a normative ‘orthodoxy’ in the empire and to marginalize and segregate pagans and deviant Christians (as well as other groups, such as Jews and Manichaeans). Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity has studied the interplay between the rhetoric of manifest ideologies and complex daily realities. An exploration of both aspects, rhetoric and reality, was necessary for an understanding of the religious changes (‘Christianization’) of the late Roman Empire, particularly the shifting position of dissenting religious groups. Without an analysis of the rhetoric of our sources, we might fall into the trap of taking them at face value. Late antique authors habitually conveyed a simplified and codified perception of their lived world. We need to be especially cautious in charting their worldviews, for otherwise we end up only repeating and uncritically echoing their dramatic narratives. In this book, I have sought to stress that the accounts of violence need to be balanced with dreary everyday life. Changes in economic structures and the social factors in local communities were probably much more influential in terms of religious transformation than the uproars depicted in hagiographies and church histories. For instance, the fact that the private donations of rich benefactors were increasingly channelled to bishops instead of town and city administrations caused a significant change in the urban life of the empire.

Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450. Maijastina Kahlos. Oxford University Press (2020). © Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190067250.001.0001

Conclusion  215 Authority: Attempts to control and define In my analysis of imperial and ecclesiastical discourses, I have drawn attention to their attempts to eliminate ambiguity or dissent, as well as to the ways in which religious dissenters were construed as religious outsiders in late Roman society. Imperial legislation implied that those who were ‘aliens’ or ‘foreigners’ in matters of religion should also become aliens or foreigners in the eyes of Roman law. Emperors tried to reinforce their authority with the rhetoric of the divine order and public welfare. Imperial declarations presented religious unity and the correct form of religion as a matter of state security, and the emperor as the guardian of the correct religion, for example, in the law announcing that it was given ‘to the advantage of true worship’.1 As transgressors of the divine order, religious dissenters were represented as causing pollution for their communities and, consequently, bringing divine wrath on the whole of society. The morally charged language of legislation in this period conveys an idea of an efficient autocracy and severe imperial authority. However, we should understand the late antique laws as not only describing imperial power, but also, first and foremost, creating it. Most imperial decrees should be taken more as moral proclamations than practical instructions. Emperors wanted to send an authoritative message to their subjects, including Christian hard-​liners, on the maintenance of morality, social order, and discipline. Tracking tendencies in religious legislation has often emerged through modern hindsight (for example, we know that in fifth-​century legislation, all the ‘pagan’ practices the legislator could imagine were forbidden). However, beyond an individual emperor’s distinct responses to local problems that needed local solutions, taking such replies together suggests a tendency. One of the tendencies in the Christian Empire was to define a ‘proper Roman’ in terms of religion. One of the main concerns of legislators was the religious conduct of the upper classes. I have discussed the endeavours of the imperial government, bishops, and church councils on the macro level of the state and church. When observing the relationship between imperial and ecclesiastical powers, we can see both collaboration and intense power struggles. Emperors and bishops had many shared interests, but also conflicting ones. The major collusions were under the emperors Constantius II and Valens, who favoured the Homoian version of Christianity. Competition for imperial recognition between Christian subgroups was intensive. During the reign of Theodosius I, Nicene Christianity attained the upper hand, which led to a gradual marginalization of other Christian inclinations as heresies. In their attempts to achieve religious unity, church leaders used both words and actions. The bishops knew how to leverage the means the imperial and

1. CTh 16.5.41 (in 407).

216  Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450 local authorities had at their disposal in chastising religious dissenters—​heretics more than pagans. By analysing the aggression against religious dissenters and their shrines, I  have demonstrated the diversity of attitudes that the imperial and ecclesiastical authorities held. In regard to the attacks against pagan temples, we have evidence of the maintenance, destruction, abandonment, and transformation of temples in Late Antiquity. The depictions of temple destructions usually come from Christian literary works, especially hagiographies, with a highly ideological agenda, and we need to exercise considerable caution in evaluating them. These accounts may be better taken as the ways in which writers wanted to memorize and explain the local pagan past. In these depictions, aggressions against pagan temples functioned as a reinforcement in the moulding of Christian identity. Nevertheless, this does not exclude the fact that there was also violence and devastation, even if the ecclesiastical authors described the events in a formulaic way. Therefore, analysing triumphalist accounts and the topoi of the destruction of cult places is not to deny that devastations did really take place. Simply put, the number and scale of these should not be overestimated. Some accounts of the destruction of local shrines mentioned in church histories, especially their remarks on its completeness, have been questioned in the recent research. It is also worth noting that the destruction and conversion of temples were only one feature in a long and complex process of a changing sacred landscape. People: Attempts to categorize people In my analysis of imperial and ecclesiastical authority in Section I, I discussed the groupings ‘pagans’ and ‘heretics’ as given categories because it was precisely imperial and ecclesiastical discourses that built and maintained these categories. The purpose of Section II (People in rhetoric and reality) was to explore the ways in which the dissident categories ‘pagans’ and ‘heretics’ were construed. In discussing these categories, my intention was not to reify any of the oppositional categories (Christians/​ pagans, orthodox/​ heretic, proper religion/​ superstition, religion/​magic). Instead, I  analysed the discursive processes in which late antique writers developed and maintained these categories to make sense of their social world. In our analysis, we perceived that there were myriads of different meanings of being Christian—​and being non-​Christian as well. Likewise, there was no one Christian attitude towards non-​Christians or deviant Christians. Furthermore, not every Christian wished to establish strict boundaries between one’s own group or community and that of others. We can observe that creating and marking the boundaries of one’s group by redefining the self and the other become expressly important in periods of transformation and crisis. If during such times one feels that one’s identities and values are challenged, this is obvious in the period under

Conclusion  217 our consideration. What is characteristic of Late Antiquity is the construction of taxonomies and classifications, especially giving names, defining, and categorizing deviant Christian groups as heresies. This was part of late antique knowledge ordering, in which heresiological packages served to create order in society. Not only heresiologists such as Epiphanius of Salamis, but also imperial legislators sought to classify and reduce religious dissenters into neat taxonomies. The concept ‘pagans’ is relational, which means that it only exists in relation to, and usually in contrast with, the concept of ‘Christians’. Thus, it was used to define the boundaries of being Christian. The people late antique Christians called ‘pagans’ neither had any collective appellation for themselves nor conceived of themselves as any kind of monolithic religious tradition. The concept ‘pagans’ was versatile. Christian writers could use it as a theological construction or label against ecclesiastical or political opponents. It could be a form of Christian self-​rebuke that bishops such as Augustine employed to reproach their Christian congregations. What ‘pagan’ implied depended on the standards of each writer. Ecclesiastical writers labelled various individuals and groups pagans or idolatrous; these could be baptized or unbaptized persons, or catechumens. As a construct of Christian self-​perception, paganism was fluid and opaque, and it is due to this opacity that debates on the vitality of non-​Christian religions in the fourth and fifth centuries are especially scrambled. It is very hard to form arguments for or against the vigour of paganism. Church leaders either complained about the continuation of idolatry or exulted over its demise. In the end, what these mentions usually reveal is the anxiety of the writers. I also charted a number of dissidents’ reactions in interreligious and intrareligious relations. Many pagans accommodated the prevailing version of Christianity, whether it was Nicene or Homoian at the time. There were many degrees of religious allegiance, and ecclesiastical leaders had difficulties controlling and defining, for instance, the sincerity of conversion to Christianity, or in the case of heretics, their return to the dominant form of Christianity. However, not every individual accepted the religious changes. We have evidence of both peaceful and aggressive resistance. Religious dissidents wrote appeals and gave speeches expressing their religious inclinations. We have the extant orations by Themistius and Libanius and the relatio by Symmachus. Deviant Christians, such as Homoians, Donatists, Pelagians, and Nestorians, also wrote defences and polemics, which have mainly been preserved in fragments. One form of peaceful resistance for both pagans and heretics was simply to lay low—​to move religious performance to private spaces, beyond the control of the emperors and mainstream bishops. Modern scholars speak of the privatization and self-​segregation of both pagans and heretical sects. Here it is good to note that local differences were significant. Resistance could be aggressive, too. Verbal violence and polemical attacks were commonplace phenomena in the confrontations between religious groups

218  Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450 in Late Antiquity. The enmity between religious groups occasionally erupted in open violence in the form of riots and physical assaults against persons and places. One of the sore points that particularly irritated bishops and hard-​line Christians was community feasting, especially when fellow Christians participated in these celebrations, spectacles, and processions with pagans. Practices: Attempts to control practices It is not enough simply to discuss imperial and ecclesiastical rhetoric and to deconstruct the categories of pagans and heretics. Therefore, Section III (Time, place, practices) sought an alternative way of looking at the late antique religious world: examining local religion and analysing religious dissidents on the micro level of social, economic, and cultural structures. The imperial and ecclesiastical discourses were balanced by the realities of quotidian life. Thus, we moved the focus from melodrama to everyday nuisances. Breaking away from traditional dichotomies, such as pagan/​Christian, religion/​magic, and religion/​superstition, we have observed religious practices in the late Roman world on their own terms. I have suggested that we can call that religious world ‘the third paganism’, ‘popular Christianity’, or something else. Ultimately, the term or label is not relevant. The point is that instead of taking local forms of religiosity simply as magic, surviving paganism, or Christian superstition, we analyse local practices as creative applications in their different sociopolitical contexts. Peter Garnsey and Caroline Humfress describe this inventiveness beautifully: On a personal level individuals could (and did) decide upon their relationship with the divine, framed by their own degrees of allegiance to diverse local groups. . . . The importance of these personal, localised networks in defining boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable religious beliefs and practices should not be underestimated.2 I have argued that the religious changes and diversity can be outlined in many ways, not only as ‘Christianization’, which presupposes a dichotomy between pagan and Christian practices, taken directly from the late antique bishops’ constructions of a conceptual and intellectual divide between Christian and pagan. The Mediterranean area had for centuries been diffused with different cults, practices, religious ideas, and beliefs, which were continuously cross-​pollinating each other. Modern scholars have aptly called this interaction the religious koine of Antiquity. The spread of various Christian groups is a part (nothing more, nothing less) of these religious changes in Antiquity.3 2. Garnsey and Humfress 2001, 142. 3. The specificity of Christianity in the marketplace of religions in the late Roman Empire indeed needs to be reassessed, as Rebillard 2012, 97 and Stowers 2011a, 238–​256 propose.

Conclusion  219 The vigorous self-​assurance and condemnation of different local practices by ecclesiastical leaders become more comprehensible against this background of religious diversity in Late Antiquity. Late antique bishops, as ideologues of separation, hurled their invectives and denunciations of local practices. However, their attempts to wipe out ‘popular’, ‘superstitious’, ‘pagan’, ‘heretical’, ‘magical’, and otherwise distorted practices were useless—​because there was always some local variation to be despised and condemned. Instead of delineating magical practices, pagan survivals, or heretical distortions, we modern scholars should explore the local creative applications in their different social milieus. As Nicola Denzey Lewis argues, what ecclesiastical leaders and modern scholars conventionally label as ‘magic’, we should perceive as ancient lived religion.4 Conflicts of economic interests in the regular routines of everyday life indicate that, in many cases, economic issues were far more influential than the solemn proclamations of emperors and church councils. The emperors gave their support to Christian communities, either in the form of donations or as exemption from taxes and curial duties. This economic backing gave churches a great deal of local influence. Thus, the recognition of a cult or religious group as a receiver of privileges and donations was never only something abstract, for the issue of money was also always involved. Property and wealth were at stake. A Christian sect that was deemed heretical and lost the right to use the nomen Christianum also lost imperial economic support. The end of imperial support for pagan cults and temples meant that they could not be maintained as steadily as before. The properties of some pagan temples were even confiscated. It is not clear to what extent the eventual gradual decline of the pagan temples was due to a lack of imperial support, legislation, or other economic reasons. The impoverishment of the curial class, which had sustained cults in the cities, could be another reason. Regional differences were again considerable, as in some areas, individual cult places remained vital and popular and were supported by the local elite. In other regions, temples and cult places were abandoned. These regional variances should remind us not to take ‘paganism’ as a monolith about which we can make generalizations. This leads us again to the problematic term ‘Christianization’.5 Like many other colligatory concepts in history (such as Romanization and Reformation), Christianization is both useful and unavoidably misleading. The many local religious changes in Late Antiquity are conventionally bundled into one phenomenon. In terms of common-​sense understanding, this may be helpful, but it can also lead scholars astray, making them connect causally individual, separate local incidents with one another. One of these connections, which many scholars have recently criticized, is between the spread of Christianity and the weakening of 4. Denzey Lewis 2017, 258–​259. 5. See also my discussion in the Introduction.

220  Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350–450 traditional Graeco-​Roman religions.6 Luke Lavan suggests that in regard to the decline of urban temples and animal sacrifice, ‘the disuse and even closure of temples could be seen as the final chapter in a longer story, which had little to do with Christianization’.7 When looking at the continuities and changes of practices, we can place the religious changes in Late Antiquity in the bigger picture and longer story of the Mediterranean world. As Greg Woolf argues about religious life in the Empire and provinces, treating private cult as secondary makes it difficult to account for the continued popularity of paganism in a period when public cults withered away and were abolished. Continuities in ritual from paganism to Christianity—​hymns, ritual feasting at graves, votives—​are also difficult to examine if such practices are as marginalised by scholars as they were by civic priests and Christian bishops.8 To balance the ever-​returning views of the darkening ages, I would suggest that we look for the local and the ordinary. As much as their predecessors in earlier periods and their successors in later periods—​elite writers, philosophers, theologians, local landowners, aristocrats, governors, rulers—​late antique bishops exerted pressure on the John Does and Jane Does of late Roman society. From time to time, their eating, drinking, dancing, singing, search for sex partners, and having a good time were censured, ridiculed, and forbidden. However, despite the expectations and demands outlined above, they held their own ground, made adaptations and created modifications, and found their space to act. These people even escape the definitions set by us modern scholars. The categories ‘paganism’ and ‘Christianity’ are inadequate for them. They prevailed against and overcame the ideologues of separation. Consequently, one could flip the maxim of J. J. O’Donnell, ‘Christianity triumphed, but paganism survived’,9 the other way round: ‘Paganism triumphed, but Christianity survived.’10

6. Alan Cameron 2011, 783 reminds us that the end of paganism should not be confused with the victory of Christianity. 7. Lavan 2011a, xlvii. Animal sacrifices fell out of favour, but other practices such as incense-​burning, hymn-​ singing, and lamp-​lighting replaced it, probably because of economic reasons. 8. Woolf 1997, 76. 9. O’Donnell 1979, 83. 10. Both slogans are correct, yet at the same time they miss the notion of local religiosity.


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Index Locorum

For the benefit of digital users, indexed terms that span two pages (e.g., 52–53) may, on occasion, appear on only one of those pages.

AUTHORS  Altercatio Heracliani cum Germinio, 131–32, 131n47 Ambrose of Milan (Ambr.) ep. 72.2, 56n28; 72.6–7, 91n36, 135n59; 72.13, 42n10; 72.20–21, 22n25; 72.30, 22n25; 73.7, 15n8, 22n25; 73.11, 161n13; 73.22, 56n29; 73.31, 151n60; 74.6, 48n39; 74.7, 48n40; 74.17, 48n40; 74.23, 48n40, 73n75; 77.19, 109n17 ep. extra coll. 4[10].9–11, 43n19; 12. [1].2, 47n33 excid. fratr. 2.131, 95n19 expos. in psalm. 118 serm. 16.45, 183n28; 20.48–49, 123n5 fid. 2.16.139–140, 17n1, 22n21, 43n17, 131n46; 2.16.141, 48n38 Helia 17.62, 191n60 Iac. 2.(7).33, 64n30 Iob 2.1.5, 183n27 obit. Theod. 4, 46n32, 64n30; 38, 64n30; 77, 190n59 spirit. sanct. 1. prol. 17, 43n18; 1. prol. 4, 64n30 ’Ambrosiaster’, comm. in Rom. 8.23, 148n43

Ammianus Marcellinus (Amm.) 15.7.7– 10, 203n46; 16.8.2–4, 203n46; 18.3, 203n46; 19.12.14, 203n46; 22.4.3, 161n14; 22.11.6, 71n65, 160n8; 25.4.17, 145n28; 26.4.4, 203n47; 28.1.8, 203n47; 28.1.50, 203n47; 29.1.41, 203n47; 29.2.3–4, 203n47; 30.5.11, 203n47 Apponius (Appon.), expos. cant. 7.11, 201n39 Arnobius (Arnob.), nat. 1.1, 20n15; 1.9, 20n15; 1.43, 198n20; 3.11, 20n15; 4.24, 20n15; 7.23, 149n51 Athanasius of Alexandria (Athan.) c. gent. 1, 63n26 ep. 39.2, 109n19 ep. Aeg. Lib. 21, 93n4 incarn. 48, 198n20 hist. Arian. 33, 126n19; 64, 96n21 or. c. Arian. 1.1, 109n16; 3.58, 110n23 Athenagoras of Athens (Athenag.), leg. 26, 149n51 Augustine of Hippo (Aug.) bapt. 2.7.10, 116n52 c. Cresc. 3.47.51, 65n38; 4.25.32, 115n48


262  Index Locorum Augustine of Hippo (Aug.) (cont.) c. Faust. 12.42, 65n38; 13.7–9, 65n38; 20.4, 190n58, 190n59; 22.17, 199n25; 22.38, 65n38; 22.60, 65n38; 29, 198n20 c. Gaud. 1.28, 76n85; 1.28.32, 76n84 c. ep. Parm. 1.8.13–1.9.15, 45n25; 1.10.16, 76n84; 2.2.4, 115n49 c. Iulian. op. imperf. 1.42, 73n73; 3.35, 73n73 c. litt. Petil. 1.10.11, 115n48; 1.24.26, 192n65; 2.19.43, 79n100; 2.83.184, 115n49, 116n54; 2.88.194, 79n98; 2.88.195, 79n99; 2.92.210, 45n25 catech. rud. 16.24, 53n11, 123n5 civ. 1.31, 200n30; 2.2, 200n30; 2.3, 20n15; 2.4, 200n30; 2.5, 200n30; 2.10, 200n30; 2.25, 200n30; 2.29, 200n30; 3.10, 200n30; 3.57.69, 116n54; 4.1, 200n30; 4.16, 200n30; 4.19, 209n69; 4.25, 200n30; 4.26, 209n69; 4.27, 200n30; 4.29, 200n30; 5.23, 23n28; 5.24, 45n25; 6.4, 199n29; 7.33–34, 200n31; 7.34–35, 200n31; 8.15, 199n24; 8.17.2, 190n59; 8.18, 199n24; 8.22, 199n25, 199n29; 8.27.1, 190n59; 9.1, 199n24; 9.2, 199n29; 9.15, 200n31; 9.19, 199n29; 9.22, 199n24; 10.8, 208n65; 10.9, 200n31, 201n37, 209n69; 10.10, 179n13; 10.16, 209n69; 18.15, 199n24; 18.18, 199n25; 18.54, 62n22, 69n57, 133n53; 19.16, 52n8; 19.23, 150n54; 21.6, 199n24; 21.8, 208n67; 22.8, 208n67 conf. 6.2.2, 188n44, 190n55; 10.23, 183n28 cons. ev. 1.9.14, 198n21; 1.10.15, 198n20, 198n21; 1.11.17, 198n21; 1.12.18, 199n25; 1.14.21, 64n31; 1.16.24, 65n38; 1.21.29, 65n38; 1.26.40, 65n38; 1.28.43–4, 65n38; 1.30.46, 65n38; 1.32.50, 132n48; 1.33.51, 132n48; 1.34.52, 65n38 div. daem. 1, 199n24; 2.4–6, 205n55; 2.6, 200n30; 3.7, 199n24, 201n37; 4.7–8,

199n24; 5.9, 199n27; 2.6, 199n24; 3.7, 199n24; 6.10, 199n25 div. quaest. (octoginta) 73.79.1–4, 208n65, 208n67, 209n69 doctr. 2.20.30, 202n41, 204n53; 2.20.30– 2.24.37, 201n37; 2.23.35, 199n25; 2.23.36, 204n53; 2.29.45, 202n41 enarr. ps. 25.2.2, 97n25; 25.2.14, 97n25; 26.2.19, 199n29; 32.2.10, 66n40; 32.2.13–14, 65n38; 48.1.15, 188n46; 54.13, 52n9; 80.11, 186n38; 80.23, 183n28; 85.15, 186n38; 88.2.14, 98n30, 182n24; 90.10, 186n38; 96.7– 10, 179n10, 183n28; 100.8, 97n25; 130.7, 199n24; 149.10, 165n29 ep. 22.3, 189n49; 22.3–6, 189n50; 22.6, 189n49; 29.4, 191n63; 29.8, 191n60; 29.9, 139n1; 29.11, 189n51, 192n65; 33.5, 115n51; 34.5, 116n54; 35.2, 115n51; 43.2, 79n101; 46, 151n58; 46.6–18, 152n62; 47, 151n58; 47.3, 68n51, 75n83; 47.3–4, 152n62; 47.4, 170n10; 50, 74n76, 132n52; 90, 77n91; 91, 77n91; 91.3, 65n38; 91.8– 10, 78n92; 93, 43n17, 53n14; 93.1, 116n52; 93.5.17, 123n8; 95.3, 79n101; 97.2–4, 34n40; 102.20, 199n25; 108.6–8, 53n14; 111.1, 116n53; 133, 72n72; 134.3, 79n101; 137.4.16, 65n38; 139.2, 79n101; 150, 117n60; 153.18, 79n101; 155, 72n72; 155.3.10, 72n72; 184a.5, 94n12; 185, 72n72; 185.2.9, 79n101; 185.3.12, 76n84; 185.5.20, 65n38; 185.6.21, 42n11, 123n8; 188.4, 117n60 De gestis cum Emerito Donatistarum episcopo 3, 115n45 in ep. Ioh. 4.4, 190n59 mor. eccl. 1.34.75, 188n46, 190n58 oboed. 13, 109n18; 16, 109n18; 17, 76n86 Psalmus contra partem Donati v. 24–26, 115n50 retr. 1.12.6, 42n11; 2.43.1, 94n12 serm. 24, 62n22, 70n60; 24.5–6, 75n79; 32.10, 166n30; 47.18, 53n11, 123n5;

Index Locorum  263 60.6.7, 132n48; 62, 75n80; 62.4.7, 180n15; 62.6.9, 97n27; 62.11.17– 62.12.18, 75n80, 123n8; 62.17–18, 53n10, 76n84; 62.5, 53n11; 64.1, 89n29; 81, 132n48; 81.7, 53n11; 98.1, 132n48; 141.4, 97n26; 198.1, 179n13; 198.2, 163n21; 198.3, 163n22; 198 augm. (=Dolbeau 26), 205n55; 198augm (=Dolbeau 26.3), 200n30, 200n31; 198augm. (=Dolbeau 26.10), 97n28; 198augm (=Dolbeau 26.46), 201n37; 198augm. (=Dolbeau 26.63), 132n48; 198augm.1–3, 180n14; 198augm.8, 64n31; 198augm.45, 116n53; 279, 65, 65n34, 123n5; 279.12–13, 65n37; 280.6.6, 189n51; 296.7, 132n48; 301A.7, 65n33, 183n28; 301A.8, 98n29, 182n24; 306B.6, 64n31; 308A, 75n81; 311.5, 189n52; 311.5–6, 188n46; 313A.5, 190n59; 335H.2, 190n59; 360A (=Dolbeau 24.4), 95n19; 360A.4–5, 116n53; 360A.7–8 (=Dolbeau 24.7– 8), 65n39; 360A.8, 53n11, 123n5, 127n26, 128n33; 360A.11, 65n39; 360B.25 (=Dolbeau 25.25), 64n31; 361.6, 192n64 sermo ad Caesariensis ecclesiae plebem 1, 114n44; 8, 116n54 tract. in Ioh. ev. 7.6–7, 209n74; 7.12, 209n74; 70.18, 132n51  Basil of Caesarea (Basil. Caes.) ep. 188.1, 109n19 hom. 14.1, 188n46 Quod deus non est auctor malorum 5, 24n32 Boethius (Boeth.), cons. 1.4.36–37, 203n45  Caesarius of Arles (Caesar. Arel.), serm. 13.5, 170n10; 14.4, 170n10; 53.1, 98n32, 170n10; 54.5, 170n10; 89.5, 183n28; 192, 181n21; 192.2, 183n27; 192–193, 96n20; 229.2, 170n10; 229.4, 170n10; 233, 96n20

Cicero (Cic.), nat. deor. 2.7–8, 20n14; 3.94, 20n14 Chronica Gallica (Chron. Gall.) 468, 59n9 Consularia Constantinopolitana (Cons. Const.) s.a. 388, 69n54 Constantine (Const.), or. ad sanct. 11, 146n32 Consultationes Zacchaei et Apollonii (Consult. Zacch.) 1.13.2–4, 209n69 Cyprian (Cypr.), Demetr. 1–2, 20n15 Cyril of Alexandria (Cyr. Alex.) apol. ad Theod. imp., 111n26 ep. 1.7, 96n22, 111n26; 1.15, 111n26; 1.27, 96n22; 7, 130n38; 11.1, 110n21, 119n70; 11.4, 43n14; 11.6, 42n12; 96, 46n30 expl. XII cap. 3, 42n13 hom. 4, 111n26 or. ad Augustas, 22n22 or. ad Theod. imp. 111n26; 48, 22n23 Cyril of Jerusalem (Cyr. Hieros.), catech. myst. 1.8, 141n9  Damascius (Damasc.), v. Isid. fr. 145, 168n4 Dissertatio Maximini fol. 300, 44n20  Epiphanius of Salamis (Epiph.), pan., 88n23; 53.1.3, 109n19; 66.10, 180n14 Episcoporum Constantinopoli consistentium commonitorium, 71n64 Eunapius of Sardis (Eunap.) v. soph. 6.111–112, 71n65; 6.114–115, 72n68; 6.7–18, 203n45; 7.6, 129n34 hist. fr. 48.2, 129n34 Eusebius of Caesarea (Eus.) dem. ev. 1.2.1, 93n4; 1.6.4, 209n70; 3.6, 198n20; 3.6.1–3, 209n70; 3.6.11, 209n71 eccl. 7.10.4, 209n71; 7.22.7–10, 163n23; 9–10, 63n26; 9.7.3–14, 20n16; 10.5, 21n17; 10.7.1–2, 25n41, 158n1 laud. Const. 9, 42n9; 11, 42n9 mart. Pal. 7.8, 63n26; 9.2, 154n77

264  Index Locorum Eusebius of Caesarea (Eus.) (cont.) praep. ev. 4.8, 150n54; 5.2, 149n51 v. Const. 2.26–27, 63n26; 2.45.1, 146n32; 2.64–72, 25n40; 2.65.1–2, 25n40; 3.12, 25n40; 3.51–52, 171n14; 3.54, 160n7; 3.64–65, 25n40; 4.10, 146n32; 4.54.2, 123n5 Excerpta Valesiana 34, 59n9  Faustinus et Marcellinus, De confessione verae fidei et ostentatione sacrae communionis (= Libellus precum) in Collectio Avellana, 21.78, 126n20 Firmicus Maternus (Firm.), err. 13.4, 149n51; 28.6, 160n8  Gaudentius of Brescia (Gaud. Brix.), tract. 4.13, 148n46; 4.14, 188n44; 6.5–6, 200n30; 7.21, 89n28; 9.2, 53n17, 148n46; 12.8, 200n30; 13.28, 96n20; 15.21, 148n46; 21, 119n73 Gregory of Nazianzus (Greg. Naz.) epigr. 188n46 or. 4.5.79–81, 101n44; 4.103, 101n44; 4.88–91, 70n58; 5.37, 121n1; 42.3, 49n43; 43.21, 101n45; 43.30, 49n43; 43.34–37, 163n24 Gregory of Nyssa (Greg. Nyss.), or. cat. 6, 199n25 Gregory of Rome (Greg. M.) ep. 4.23, 54n19; 4.26, 54n19 mor. in Iob 29.26.53, 98n31 Gregory of Tours (Greg. Tur.), hist. 6.17, 123n6  Hilary of Poitiers (Hilar. Pict.) ad Const. 2.(1.)6, 126n19 Collectanea Antiariana Parisina (Fragmenta Historica), 113n36; A 4.1.27, 203n48 in Const. 7, 49n41 in ps. 137 tract. 10, 64n29 Hippolytus (Hippol.), haer. 6.19–20, 206n57 Historia acephala (Hist. aceph.) 5.8–10, 46n28 

Iamblichus (Iambl.), myst. 2.11, 197n12; 3.26, 197n12; 3.28, 197n12; 3.31, 197n12; 3.31.179–180, 100n42; 10.2, 100n42; 161.10–16, 197n12 Innocentius I (Innoc.), ep. 3, 187n42 Irenaeus (Iren.), haer. 1.6.3, 149n48; 1.13.1, 206n57; 1.13.5, 206n57; 7.41.1–6, 206n57 Isidore of Pelusium (Isid. Pelus.), ep. 1.55, 168n4; 1.270, 8n23; 1.152, 41n4  Jerome (Hier.) comm. in Is. 7.17, 61n16; 65.11, 181n21 c. Ioh. 3, 88n22; 8, 88n22, 124n12; 19, 96n23; 25, 88n22; 32, 96n23 c. Iov. 1.3, 88n22; 2.37, 111n25 c. Ruf. 3.7, 88n22; 3.42, 88n22 c. Vigil. 4.7, 192n67; 6–8, 111n25; 6.11, 88n22; 7–8, 193n68; 10, 96n23, 192n67; 15–16, 88n22 ep. 22.15, 109n15; 107.1, 63n27; 107.1– 2, 64n28; 107.2, 61n16, 75n82; 109, 190n59; 130, 117n60; 133.12, 117n61 tract in psalm. 81, 198n21 vir. ill. 106, 183n27 v. Hilar. 20, 208n66 John Chrysostom (Ioh. Chrys.) adv. Iud. 1, 171n16; 1.6, 199n26; 2.1, 172n17; 4.3, 172n17; 7.1, 172n17; 8.1–2, 172n17 catech. 1.5, 151n60; 6.16, 180n17 educ. lib. 5, 166n32 hom. 19.1, 188n46 hom. c. ludos et theatra, 179n11 hom. de Iuven. et Maximin. 2, 151n59 hom. de statuis 19.14, 209n74 hom. 18 in act. apost. 4, 52n7 hom. Col. 8.5 in 3:5–15, 209n72 hom. elemos. 6, 167n34 hom. in 1 Cor. 24.3–5, 180n16 hom. in 2 Cor. 12, 167n35; 13, 166n31 hom. in Ioh. 42, 166n33 hom. in Kal. Ian., 184n30 or. Babyl. c. gent. 70–72, 154n75; 81–85, 154n75

Index Locorum  265 John of Antioch (Ioh. Antioch.), ep. Or. ad syn., 133n57 John of Ephesus (Ioh. Eph.), eccl. 3.3.29, 129n35 Julian (Iul.) c. Gal. 99E, 198n21; 335C, 190n57 ep. 84a, 101n43, 164n26, 165n27; 89a, 101N43, 163n24; 114.436c–d, 152n66 misop. 346c, 145n28 or. 7.22bB, 160n7; or. 4 Rochefort = ep. ad Them. Wright, 102n47  Kephalaia 31.25, 180n14; 31.30, 180n14  Lactantius (Lact.) inst. 2.16–17, 149n51; 4.15, 198n20; 5.19, 123n6; 7.26.10, 63n26 mort. 10.2–3, 154n76; 48.2, 21n17 Leo of Rome (Leo M.) ep. 1–2, 118n65; 1.1, 119n73; 120.2, 41n4 serm. 8, 200n30 Libanius (Liban.) ep. 285.2, 93n6; 739, 103n54; 819.6, 70n58; 1411.3, 103n54 or. 1.39, 127n29; 1.143, 168n4; 12.80, 145n28; 17, 102n51; 17.7, 161n14; 17.22, 168n4; 18, 102n51; 18.170, 145n28; 24, 102n51; 30, 69n54, 133n55; 30.2–3, 127n25; 30.4–5, 22n26; 30.4–13, 126n18; 30.6–7, 160n7; 30.9, 169n6; 30.26–29, 123n6, 126n18; 30.27–28, 128n33; 30.31, 22n26; 30.34, 22n26; 30.38, 160n7; 30.39, 168n4; 30.42, 169n6; 30.43, 172n21; 48.15–16, 51n5; 62.8, 160n7; 62.10, 190n57 Livy (Liv.) 22.9.7–11, 20n14 Lucian, de sacr. 1, 150n55  Macarius of Magnes (Macar. Magn.), apocr. 2.21, 199n25 Marcus Diaconus (Marc. Diac.), v. Porph. 19, 23n30; 26–27, 73n74; 33, 73n74; 37–39, 73n74; 37–54, 61n17; 41, 73n74; 50–51, 73n74; 63–75, 57; 71, 207n61; 72–73, 78n95

Marinus (Marin.), v. Procli 29, 168n4 Marius Victorinus (Mar. Victorin.) in Gal. 2.3, 93n8; 4.3, 93n8 homoous. 1.7, 93n8 Martin of Braga (Mart. Brac.), corr. 6–7, 199n25; 8–9, 200n30; 11, 181n21; 16, 181n21 Maximus of Turin (Max. Taur.), serm. 16, 183n27; 22a.2, 148n45; 42.1, 53n15; 98.1–3, 184n29; 105–106, 133n54, 153n73; 105, 153n74; 105.2, 148n45; 106.1–2, 54n20, 148n45; 106.2, 39n62, 53n15, 53n17; 107.1, 53n15; 107.2, 53n16, 148n44, 148n45; 108, 53n15, 53n17, 148n45  Nestorius, ep. 1, 96n22; 2, 96n22  Optatus of Milevis (Optat.), tract. c. Donat. 6.6.1, 130n42; 7.1.2, 116n54 Origen (Orig.), c. Cels. 1.6, 198n19, 209n71; 1.28, 198n19; 1.38, 198n19; 1.46, 198n19; 1.68, 198n19; 2.9, 198n19; 2.14, 198n19; 2.16, 198n19; 2.48, 198n19; 2.49, 198n19; 2.49–51, 208n65; 3.44, 198n19; 5.12, 198n19; 6.77, 198n19; 7.4, 209n71; 7.35, 149n51; 8.60, 149n51 Orosius (Oros.), hist. 1. prol. 9, 93n7, 94n9; 2.1.1, 24n32; 7.15.5, 24n32; 7.28.8, 59n9; 7.33.9, 22n21; 7.33.19, 22n21  Pacianus of Barcelona (Pacian. Barcil.), par., 183n27 Palladius (Pallad.), dial. 9.177–207, 45n26; 20.579–584, 110n21 Palladius of Ratiaria (Pallad. Ratiar.), apol. fragmenta fol. 338, 44n20 Parastaseis syntomoi chronikai 39, 32n24 Paulinus of Nola (Paulin. Nol.), carm. 20.67–431, 156n85; 27.555–557, 188n45 Pelagius (Pelag.), ep. ad Demetr., 117n59 Peter Chrysologus (Petr. Chrys.), serm. 155.1–5, 182n22; 155.5, 182n23; 155.5–6, 183n25

266  Index Locorum Philostorgius (Philost.), eccl. 7.3, 68n49 Philostratus (Philostr.), v. Apoll. 1.31–32, 150n55 Porphyry of Tyre (Porph.), abst. 2.34, 150n54; 2.34.1–2, 145n30; 2.61, 150n54 Possidius, v. Aug. 7, 116n54 Proclus (Procl.), comm. rep. 1.29.14, 179n12; 1.255.19, 179n12 Procopius (Procop.) anecd. 11.32, 129n34 hist. arc. 11.26–27, 94n14; 11.31–32, 123n6  Prosper (Prosp.), chron. 1035, 59n9 Prudentius (Prud.), c. Symm. 1. praef. 6, 94n9; 1.8, 148n43; 1.449, 94n9; 1.501–505, 173n22; 1.561–565, 75n82; 2.900–903, 87n14 Pseudo–Justin, Quaestiones et responsiones ad orthodoxos 126, 23n29 Pseudo–Paulinus of Nola (Ps.–Paulin. Nol.), Poema ultimum 27, 148n43  Quodvultdeus of Carthage (Quodv.) temp. barb. 1.4.11–13, 155n82 prom. 3.38.44, 62–63n24 symb. 3.13.2–5, 113n39; 3.9.9, 113n39  Rufinus (Rufin.), eccl. 11.2, 46n28; 11.3.10, 133n57; 11.13, 43n18; 11.22–23, 71nn65–66; 11.26, 72n68; 11.27, 71n67  Salvian of Marseilles (Salv.), gub. 5.9, 108n14; 5.14, 108n13; 6.2, 24n32; 6.6, 24n32; 6.7.37, 183n28; 6.11, 24n32; 8.2, 24n32 Sermo de passione SS. Donati et Advocati 3, 115n46 Sidonius Apollinaris (Sidon. Apoll.), ep. 5.17, 188n46 Siricius of Rome (Siric.), ep. 7.4, 110n22 Socrates Scholasticus (Socr.), eccl. 1.16, 160n7; 1.23.7, 92n3; 1.27–35, 203n46;

2.27.38, 133n57; 3.25.4, 125n15; 7.3.15, 133n57; 7.7, 78n94; 7.14, 78n94; 7.14.10–11, 76n87; 7.15, 78n94; 7.29, 22n24; 4.1, 45n27, 49n42; 4.13.6, 46n28; 4.20.1, 46n28 Sozomen, eccl. 2.4, 170–71n14; 2.5, 123n5; 2.5.3, 160n7; 4.10, 203n46; 5.5.2, 158n4; 5.7.1, 119n73; 5.10.5–14, 70n58; 5.15.4–10, 70n58; 5.16, 164n25; 6.12.16, 46n28, 49n42; 6.19.1–6, 119n73; 6.40.1, 22n24; 7.15, 71n65, 71n67, 133n55; 7.15.13, 60n15; 7.15.13–15, 70n58; 9.6–7, 23n27 Sulpicius Severus (Sulp. Sev.) chron. 2.50.8, 206n58; 2.51.8–10, 133n57 dial. 2.13.6, 200n30; 3.6.4, 200n30 v. Mart. 13–15, 70n59, 133n53, 170n10; 22, 200n30 Symmachus (Symm.), rel. 3.2–3, 22n25; 3.3, 55–56n27, 125n17; 3.7–8, 125n17; 3.8, 22n25; 3.10, 125n17; 3.11, 22n25; 3.11–19, 161n13; 3.15– 17, 22n25  Tacitus (Tac.) ann. 15.44, 32n29 hist. 5.5, 32n29 Tertullian (Tert.) anim. 57.1, 198n18; 57.3, 198n18 apol. 22.6, 149n51; 40.1–2, 20n15 idol. 16–17, 151n57 nat. 1.9, 20n15 spect. 1.2, 92n2; 3.1, 92n2; 3.5, 92n2; 5.1, 92n2; 19.5, 92n2; 21.1, 92n2; 24.3, 92n2; 27.1, 92n2 Themistius (Them.), or. 5–6, 102n47; 5.67d–68a, 123n5; 5.67b–69c, 125n15; 5.68d–70a, 102n48; 5.69c, 102n48 Theodoret of Cyrrhus (Theodoret.) cur. proem., 93n5; 1.19, 93n5; 2.95, 93n5; 6.87, 66n42; 8.34, 66n42; 9.28, 93n5; 11.16, 93n5

Index Locorum  267 eccl. 1.1, 110n21; 1.2.5–12, 113n38; 1.11.2–3, 158n4; 3.3, 70n58; 3.7.10, 70n58; 3.15.2, 154n75; 3.15.4–9, 151n59; 3.16.3, 151n59; 4.21, 186n39; 4.30–31, 22n21; 4.22.13–15, 46n28; 5.20, 49n42; 5.21–23, 133n55; 5.21.1, 70n58; 5.21.3, 49n43; 5.21.5–15, 70n58; 5.22, 60n14; 5.22.3–6, 200n30; 5.29, 72n71 ep. 81, 89n28; 113, 89n28  Vincent of Lérins (Vinc. Lerin.), commonit. 5.13, 67n43

Vigilius of Trento (Vigil.), ep. 1–2, 133n54, 153n73 Vita Constantini (v. Const.), 113n38  Zachariah of Mytilene (Zachar.), v. Severi 17–37, 129n34; 29, 128n33 Zeno of Verona (Zeno Veron.), serm. 1.1.3, 199n25; 1.25.6, 153n73; 1.25.10, 53n17, 155n82; 1.25.11–12, 156n83 Zosimus (Zos.), 1.57.1, 23n29; 2.33.4, 23n29; 3.32.1, 23n29; 4.21.3, 23n29; 4.37.3, 69n54; 4.59, 23n29; 5.40–41, 23n27 

INSCRIPTIONS CIL III 12132, 20n16 CIL VI 1778, 104n58 CIL VI 1779, 104n58, 104n59 CIL XI 5265, 185–86n36 IGLS 4050, 174n31

ILCV I, 1570, 191n61 ILS 705, 185n36 ILS 6091, 159n6 MAMA 1, 171, 162n19 MAMA 7, 305, 159n6 


Codex Iustinianus (CIust), 1.1.1, 38n60; 1.2.12, 158n4;, 123n10; 1.11.6, 77n89;, 155n81; 1.17.1 pr., 20n13; 11.70.4, 161n14 Codex Theodosianus (CTh), 2.8.20, 185n33; 9.16.1, 201n34; 9.16.2, 201n34; 9.16.3, 202n40; 9.16.4, 146n37, 201n35; 9.16.9, 201n39, 202n41; 9.16.10, 201n39; 9.16.12, 201n36; 9.16.16, 146n37; 9.18.4, 201n34; 9.38.4, 201n39; 10.10.15, 34n37; 11.20.6, 161n14; 15.1.36, 68n52, 174n27; 15.4.1, 185n35; 15.5.1, 158n1; 15.5.2, 185n33; 15.5.5, 185n34; 15.6.1, 37n53; 16.1.2, 30n16, 32n23, 37n55;, 24n34, 38n58; 16.2.1–2, 158n1; 16.2.5, 181n20; 16.2.18, 94n10; 16.2.31,

34–35, 34n39, 55n24; 16.5.1, 159n5; 16.5.3, 32n23, 119n72; 16.5.4, 30n16, 55n23; 16.5.5, 30n16, 109n18; 16.5.6, 119n72;, 111n27; 16.5.7, 31n19, 32n23, 32n26; 16.5.8, 111n27; 16.5.11, 33n32, 119n72; 16.5.12, 119n72; 16.5.17, 31n19; 16.5.18, 31n19; 16.5.21–23, 31n19; 16.5.25, 31n20; 16.5.27, 31n19; 16.5.29, 31n20; 16.5.31–32, 31n19; 16.5.34, 31n19, 207n61; 16.5.36, 31n19; 16.5.37–38, 114n41; 16.5.40, 31n18, 32n28, 119n72; 16.5.41, 26n42, 31n20, 215n1; 16.5.42, 31n20; 16.5.43, 78n92; 16.5.46, 34–35, 34n39, 55n24, 94n12; 16.5.47, 21n20; 16.5.48, 31n20; 16.5.49, 31n19; 16.5.51, 28n5, 37n54; 16.5.52, 53n13;

268  Index Locorum 16.5.54, 31n18, 32n23; 16.5.58, 31n19, 119n72; 16.5.60, 110n24; 16.5.61, 31n19; 16.5.63, 28n5, 89n27; 16.5.65, 31n19; 16.5.66, 119n72, 207n62; 16.6.2, 119n72; 16.6.4, 32n23, 115n47, 119n72; 16.6.4–5, 114n41; 16.6.7, 31n19; 16.7.1, 31n19; 16.7.1–7, 123n9; 16.7.2, 31n19, 32n26; 16.7.3, 31n19, 123n9, 131n43; 16.7.4, 31n19, 32n27; 16.7.5, 32n23, 32n28; 16.7.6, 31n19; 16.7.7, 31n19; 16.8.2, 77n90; 16.8.9, 77n90, 123n9; 16.8.12, 77n90; 16.8.19, 28n5; 16.8.24, 28n5; 16.8.26, 89n27; 16.9.4, 28n5; 16.10.2, 28n6, 94n11; 16.10.3, 36n52, 94n11, 172n21, 185n32; 16.10.4, 36n50, 55n23, 169n8; 16.10.7, 28n5, 29n12; 16.10.8, 35n45, 37n53, 146n33, 172n21, 173n22, 185n32; 16.10.9, 29n12; 16.10.10–12, 35–36, 55n25; 16.10.10, 29n10, 33–34, 34n36, 37n53, 146n34, 153n68; 16.10.11, 33–34, 34n36, 146n34, 153n68; 16.10.12, 30n13, 54n21, 141n8, 213n80;, 146n35, 153n68;, 99n34, 153n68;, 99n35, 153n68;–3, 146n36; 16.10.13, 28n6, 55n23, 94n11, 153n69; 16.10.15, 77n88, 172n21; 16.10.16, 72n70, 155n81; 16.10.17, 147n38, 181n19,

184n31; 16.10.18, 77n88, 172n21; 16.10.19, 29n9, 39n62, 55n23, 78n92, 169n8, 172n19, 172n21;, 54n18;, 72n69; 16.10.20, 28n5, 33n31, 94n11, 103n56, 155n81, 161n14; 16.10.21, 31n20, 33n30, 94n11, 94n12, 153n71; 16.10.22, 29n9; 16.10.23, 28n6, 155n81; 16.10.24, 77n89, 89n27, 129n37; 16.10.25, 28n6, 29n9, 39n62, 72n70, 94n11, 153n70, 172n19, 174n30; 16.10.26, 77n89; 16.11.2, 114n41  Constitutiones Sirmondianae (Sirm.) 1, 78n96; 2, 33n35; 6, 21n18, 31n20, 33n30, 131n43 12, 55n23, 72n69; 14, 34–35, 34n39, 55n24 Gaius, in Dig. 50.16.236, 202n40 Lex Cornelia de sicariis et veneficiis, 200n32 Mosaicarum et Romanarum legum collatio (Mos. et Rom. leg. coll.) 15.2.1, 200n32; 15.3.5, 180n14 Paulus, Sententiae 5.23.14–18, 200n32; 5.23.18, 207n61  Theodosius II Novellae 3.8, 21n19, 28n7, 39n61 Sacra ad Cyrillum et ad singulos metropolitas 3, 18n5 Sacra ad Symeonem Stylitam, 18n6 

CHURCH COUNCILS Ancyra, can. 24, 141n10 Aquileia, 126n22 Carthage in 401, can. 58, 41n7,can. 60, 188n48, can. 60–61, 186n38, can. 84, 41n7, 67n43; in 403, 79n100; in 411, Edictum Cognitoris, 53n12 Constantinople in Trullo, can. 61, 141n10

Elvira, can. 34–35, 191n62; can. 40, 149n47; can. 60, 69n53, 78n93 Estinnes, Indiculus Superstitionum et Paganiarum, 142n11 Saragossa in 380, 206n58 Tours in 567, can. 23, 188n47

General Index

For the benefit of digital users, indexed terms that span two pages (e.g., 52–53) may, on occasion, appear on only one of those pages.   Adrianople, 21–​22,  35–​36 Athanasius, 43, 45–​46, 48, 63, 80, 92–​93, Albinus,  63–​64 96, 108–​9, 110, 112, 119, 125–​26, Alexander of Alexandria, 25n40 198,  202–​3 Alföldi, Andreas, 1 Auffarth, Christoph, 142–​43 Altercatio Heracliani cum Augustine of Hippo, 8–​9, 22, 34–​35, 42, 52–​ Germinio,  131–​32 53, 58, 62–​63, 64–​65, 68, 72–​73, 74–​76, Ambrose of Milan, 15, 21–​22, 22n25, 42, 77–​79, 89, 93–​94, 95–​98, 106–​7, 108–​9, 43–​44, 46–​48, 55–​56, 63–​66, 73–​74, 114–​18, 122–​23, 126–​28, 131–​32, 139, 80, 90–​91, 95–​96, 103–​4, 108–​9, 148–​49, 151–​52, 153, 162–​63, 165–​66, 113, 126–​27, 131–​32, 135, 151, 173, 178–​80, 182–​83, 186, 187–​89, 160–​61,  189–​90 190–​92, 196–​97, 198, 199–​200, 201, ‘Ambrosiaster’,  93–​94 204–​6, 209,  210–​11 Ammianus Marcellinus, 145, Aurelius of Carthage, 62–​63 159–​60,  202–​3 Aurelius Victor, 127–​28 anathema, 108 Auxentius of Milan, 119 Ancyra, council of, 141–​42, 210 Ayres, Lewis, 111–​12 Anicii,  116–​17   Aphrodisias,  174–​75 Babylas, 154 Apollo,  168–​69 Bagnall, Roger, 59–​60 Apollonius of Tyana, 149–​50 Barnes, T. D., 133–​34 apostates, 32, 121, 123–​24 Basil of Caesarea, 41n3, 109, 173, 188–​89 Aquileia, council of, 126–​27 Basilides,  110–​11 Arcadius, 17–​18, 19n7, 26, 73, 185, 192–​93 Bayliss, Richard, 174–​75 Arius, 25n40, 32, 110–​12 Belayche, Nicole, 146–​47 Arnobius, 20n16 Betz, H. D., 210–​11 Arsacius,  164–​65 Bhabha, Homi, 143 Artemis,  168–​69 Bloch, Herbert, 1 Asclepius,  168–​69 Bonifatius,  72–​73


270  General Index Bonnie, Rick, 67 Bourdieu, Pierre, 85n4 Bowersock, Glen, 143–​44 Bradbury, Scott, 146–​47 Braga, council of, 210 Brown, Peter, 13–​14, 35–​36, 117–​18, 127, 182–​83, 189–​90,  202–​3 Brubaker, Rogers, 85–​86 Buell, Denise, 5 Burgundian, 120   Caeciliani, Caecilianists, 6–​7, 9, 25, 51–​52, 53, 58, 78–​79, 114, 118, 133–​34, 158 Caecilianus,  6–​7 Caelestius, 116 Caelicolists, 89, 134–​35 Caesarius of Arles, 95–​96, 98, 167n37 Calama, 54–​55, 77–​78, 81, 132–​33 Callinicum, 47–​48,  73–​74 Cameron, Alan, 2, 103–​4, 123–​24, 133–​34,  154–​55 Cameron, Averil, 7 Cancik, Hubert, 142–​43 Capitol,  63–​64 Carmen ad quendam senatorem,  131–​32 Carmen contra paganos,  131–​32 Celsus, 198 Chaldeans,  200–​1 Chaniotis, Angelos, 132 Chidester, David, 89 Christianization, 9–​10,  13–​14 Chuvin, Pierre, 146–​47 Cicero, 20n14 Circumcelliones,  78–​79 coercive turn, 13–​14, 17 coniventia/​conniventia,  54–​56 Constantine I, 20–​21, 25, 27, 68–​69, 80, 125–​26, 146–​47, 158–​61, 180–​81, 185–​86,  200–​2 Constantius II, 2–​3, 4, 6–​7, 40n1, 47, 102, 120, 146–​47, 159–​60, 192–​93, 200–​1, 202–​3,  215–​16 Cooper, Kate, 116–​17 Corinth, 67 Cribiore, Raffaella, 86, 102–​3

Cunctos populos, 24, 30–​31, 37 Cynegius, 61–​62, 69 Cyprian, 75n81, 189 Cyril of Alexandria, 22, 42–​43, 46, 70–​71, 72–​73, 78, 96, 110–​11, 129–​30,  133–​34 Cyril of Jerusalem, 140–​41   Damascius,  100–​1 Damasus, 37, 126–​27 Daphne, 103n53, 154, 168–​69 Decius, 25n36 Deligiannakis, Georgios, 174 Demetrias,  116–​17 Denzey Lewis, Nicola, 219 Dieburg,  66–​67 Dijkstra, Jitse, 9–​10, 173–​74 Diocletian, 25n36, 154 Dionysius of Milan, 47 dissimulatio,  54–​56 Dolbeau, François, 205–​6 Donatists, 6–​7, 9, 25, 32, 51–​52, 53, 58, 75–​76, 78–​79, 88–​89, 109, 111, 118, 121, 122–​23, 126–​27, 130–​31, 133–​ 34, 158, 192 Dossey, Leslie, 78–​79 Douglas, Mary, 129–​30, 152 Drake, Harold, 73–​74   ‘Edict of Milan’, 20–​21 ‘Edict of Union’, 115 Elchasaites, 109 Eleusius of Cyzicus, 69–​70 Elm, Susanna, 22–​23, 176–​77 Elvira, Council of, 68–​69, 148–​49 Emeritus,  114–​15 Ephesus, councils of, 70–​71, 117–​18,  202–​3 Epiphanius of Salamis, 43, 87–​88, 106–​7, 109, 134–​35,  216–​17 Errington, R. M., 33–​34, 35, 36 Escribano Paño, M. V., 34–​35, 207 Eudocia, 22 Eudoxia, 61–​62, 73 Eugenius of Laodicea, 162

General Index  271 Eunapius of Sardis, 100–​1 Eunomians, 32–​33, 34–​35, 106, 207 Eunomius, 32, 96, 108–​9 Eusebius of Caesarea, 63, 106–​7, 154 Eusebius of Nicomedia, 112n31 Eusebius of Vercelli, 47 Eutropia, 171 Eutropius, chamberlain, 207 Eutropius, historian, 127–​28   Faustinus, cleric, 126–​27 Faustinus, convert, 65 Faustus of Milevis, 190 Felix, saint, 156–​57 Feralia,  189–​90 Festus,  127–​28 Février, P. A., 193–​94 Firmicus Maternus, 159–​60 Firmus, 115 Fögen, Marie Theres, 128 Foucault, Michel, 14n4, 81n104 Fountain of the Lamps (Corinth), 171 Fowden, Garth, 128–​29, 143–​44 Frankfurter, David, 140, 142–​44 Franks, 120 Frigidus, 1   Gaddis, Michael, 24, 76, 95–​96 Garnsey, Peter, 129, 218 Gaudentius, imperial legate, 62–​63 Gaudentius of Brescia, 95–​9 6, 148,  155–​5 6 Gaza,  61–​62 Gennadius of Marseille, 106–​7 gentes, gentiles, 92, 98–​99 George of Cappadocia, 45–​46, 69–​70,  159–​60 Germinius of Sirmium, 113 Gildo, 115 goeteia, goetia, 196 Goths, 120, 171 Gracchus, Maecius, 75 Graf, Fritz, 207–​8 Gratian, 26, 30–​31, 43–​44, 46–​47, 103,  160–​61

Gregory of Nazianzus, 19n9, 49, 100–​1, 121, 163–​64,  188–​89 Gregory of Rome, 54, 98 Griffiths, P. J., 122   hagiography, 58–​60, 68–​69, 100–​1, 122, 172,  174–​75 Hahn, Johannes, 71–​72 Harries, Jill, 31–​32, 50–​51, 54–​55 haruspicina, 200–​1, 202 Heather, Peter, 28 Helladios, 132 Hellenes, 92–​93, 94, 100–​1 Heracles, Hercules, 74–​75, 168–​69,  182–​83 heresiology, heresiological literature,  140–​41 Hermanowicz, Erika, 41–​42, 114–​15 Hilarion,  207–​8 Hilary of Poitiers, 48, 63–​64, 112, 125–​26 Hispellum,  185–​86 Honorius, 17–​18, 26, 34–​35, 37, 72, 76, 117–​18, 185,  200–​1 Hopkins, Keith, 90 Humfress, Caroline, 29, 89, 106, 129, 218 Hunt, E. D., 54–​55 hybridity, 99–​100, 143 Hypatia, 57n3, 78   Iamblichus, 100, 196–​97 incerti, 99–​100,  123–​24 infamia, 4, 31–​32 Innocent I, 187 Irenaeus,  106–​7 Isaac, monk, 22n24 Isidore of Pelusium, 8 Isis, 160   Jacobs, Andrew, 143 Jerome, 63–​64, 87–​88, 96, 108–​9, 110–​11, 131–​32, 192–​93,  207–​8 John of Antioch, 133–​34 John Chrysostom, 45–​46, 51–​52, 72, 92–​93, 131–​32, 151, 162–​63, 166–​67, 171–​72, 178–​79, 180, 182–​83, 184, 186, 188–​89, 207, 209

272  General Index John of Ephesus, 128–​29 de Jong, Albert, 152 Jovian, emperor, 102, 124–​25 Jovianus, bishop, 173–​74 Jovinian,  110–​11 Jovinianist controversy, 110 Jovius, imperial legate, 62–​63 Julian, Emperor, 19n9, 49, 68, 100–​1, 102–​3, 145, 151, 152, 154, 163–​65, 190, 198 Julian of Eclanum, 72–​73, 116 Juliana,  116–​17 Julianus Valens, bishop, 43–​44 Jupiter, Juppiter Optimus Maximus, 180–​81,  182–​83 Justin,  106–​7 Justinian I, 20, 38   Kalendae Ianuriae, 163, 179, 180–​84 King, Karen, 106 koinonia,  150–​51 Kristensen, Troels Myrup, 67 Kurdock, Anne, 116–​17   Lactantius, 20n16, 63, 122–​23, 154 Lavan, Luke, 146–​47, 219–​20 Lee, A. D., 62–​63 Lefebvre, Henri, 168 Leo I of Rome, 40–​41, 119 Leppin, Hartmut, 176–​77 Libanius, 22–​23, 102–​3, 122–​23, 124, 125–​ 26, 127–​28, 132–​33, 135, 159–​60, 169, 217 Liberius of Rome, 47 Licinius,  20–​21 Lieu, Judith, 86–​87, 129–​30 Lizzi Testa, Rita, 160–​61 ‘local religion’, 143–​44 Lucian of Samosata, 149–​50 Lucifer of Cagliari, 48, 126–​27 Luciferians,  126–​27 Lucius of Alexandria, 45–​46 Lyman, Rebecca, 81, 119   Macarius of Tkow, 68–​69 Macedonius, 32, 72–​73

McLynn, Neil, 38, 44, 69 MacMullen, Ramsay, 142 Magalhães, Julio Cesar, 70–​71, 74 Maier, Harry O., 119, 124 Maiuma,  36–​37 Mamre,  170–​71 Manichaeans, 9–​10, 32–​33, 89, 96, 108–​9, 130–​31, 143–​44, 196–​97, 202–​3,  206–​7 Marcellinus, cleric, 126–​27 Marcellinus, magistrate, 72–​73, 114–​15 Marcellus of Apamea, 61–​62, 69–​70,  132–​33 Marinus,  100–​1 Marius Victorinus, 93–​94 Mark of Arethusa, 69–​70 Mark the Deacon (Marcus Diaconus),  61–​62 Markus, Robert, 176–​77 Marnas, 59–​60, 61–​63, 73, 207–​8 Marneion, 61–​62, 63–​64, 73 Martin of Tours, 69–​70, 132–​33 Matthews, John, 75 Maximinus, bishop, 126–​27 Maximinus, writer, 126–​27 Maximinus Daia, 20n16, 154 Maximus, usurper, 48, 206–​7 Maximus of Turin, 8–​9, 39, 51–​52, 53, 54, 97–​98, 139, 148, 153, 155–​56,  183–​84 miasma, 152 Millar, Fergus, 33–​34 Minorca, 58 Mithraeum, Mithraic sanctuary, 68, 71–​72,  75 Moncur, David, 28   Nacolea,  159–​60 nationes, 92 Nectarius,  77–​78 Nestorian controversy, 18–​19, 22, 42–​43, 46, 70–​71, 121, 126–​27, 202–​3, 207 Nestorius, 22, 42–​43, 96, 108–​9, 110–​11, 129–​30,  133–​34 Nicaea, Council of, 4n9, 92–​93, 111–​13 Nicholas of Hagia Sion, 156

General Index  273 Nîmes, 67 Nixey, Catherine, 1 Numa Pompilius, 199–​200   oikoumene, 15 Olympius,  34–​35 Optatus of Milevis, 93–​94, 130–​31 Orcistus,  159–​60 Origen, 93n5 Orosius,  22–​24 Osrhoene, 36–​37, 185   pagani,  93–​94 Palladius of Ratiaria, 43–​44, 126–​27 Parentalia,  188–​90 Parker, Robert, 129–​30 Paul, Apostle, 65, 150–​51, 180, 192–​93 Paulinus, bishop of Dacia (or Adana),  202–​3 Paulinus of Nola, 78–​79, 156–​57, 188–​89 pax deorum, pax dei, 17–​18, 19 Pelagianism, Pelagians, 52n7, 72–​73, 111, 119, 121, 126–​27 Pelagius, 116–​17, 119 Perkins, Judith, 14–​15, 129–​30 Peter, Apostle, 192–​93 Peter of Alexandria, 37 Peter Chrysologus, 181–​84 Peter Mongus, 128 Petilianus of Cirta, 78–​79 Philastrius of Brescia, 93–​94, 106–​7, 119 pollutio, 152 pontifex maximus,  160–​61 Porphyry of Gaza, 61–​62, 73, 78 Porphyry of Tyre, 96, 145, 149–​50 Possidius, 34–​35,  77–​79 Praedestinatus,  106–​7 Praetextatus, Vettius Agorius, 104, 124 Price, Simon, 19 Priscillian of Avila, 108–​9, 202–​3, 206–​7 Priscillianism, 52n7 Proclus, 100–​1, 128, 196 Prudentius, 86–​87, 93–​94, 95–​96, 103–​4,  172–​73 Publicola,  151–​52 Pulcheria, 22 

Quodvultdeus, 62–​63, 113, 155–​56   Radagaisus,  22–​23 Raja, Rubina, 142–​43 Rebillard, Éric, 64–​65, 85–​86, 176–​77 religious koine, 140 Rimini, council of, 120 Rives, J. B., 145 Rome, sack of, 22–​23, 131–​32 Rufinus, 43–​44,  93–​94 Rüpke, Jörg, 142–​43   Sabellius, 32 Salvian of Marseille, 23–​24, 108 Salzman, Michele, 59–​60, 75–​76, 133–​34,  154–​55 Samaritans, 89, 134–​35 Saragossa, council of, 206–​7 Sauer, Eberhard, 68 ‘School Edict’, 100–​1 Sears, Gareth, 68, 160, 174 ‘second church’, 139–​40, 142 Second Temple Judaism, 144–​45 secularization,  176–​77 Serapeion, 58, 61–​62, 63–​64, 71–​72, 80–​81,  132–​33 Serapis, 160 Shaw, Brent, 67, 89, 133–​34 Simon Magus, 207 Siricius, 110 Sirmium, council of, 113 Sivan, Hagith, 66 Sizgorich, Thomas, 87, 133–​34 Smith, J. Z., 196 Socrates, church historian, 78 Sophronius of Tella, 202–​3 Sotinel, Claire, 70–​71 Sozomen, 132–​33, 163–​64,  170–​71 spatial turn, 168 Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, 138n4 springs, 142n11, 169–​70 Šterbenc Erker, Darja, 142–​43 Stewart, Peter, 67 Stilicho,  34–​35 Stratton, Kimberly, 195–​96, 197–​98 strenae, 163

274  General Index Stroumsa, Guy G., 144–​45 Sufetula (Sufes), 73–​74, 81, 132–​33 Sulpicius Severus, 132–​33 Symmachus, Q. Aurelius, 15, 22n25, 55–​ 56, 86–​87, 102, 103–​4, 124, 125, 151, 154–​55, 160–​61,  217 syncretism, 143   Tacitus, 142 Tajfel, Henry, 85n2 Talloen, Peter, 174–​75 Tertullian,  150–​51 Tetrarchs, 19n9, 78, 154 Themistius, 102, 124–​25, 217 Theodoret of Cyrrhus, 49, 61–​62, 66, 72, 92–​ 93, 106–​7, 113, 131–​32, 134–​35, 186 Theodosius I, 17–​18, 19n7, 24, 26, 27, 30–​ 31, 33–​37, 38, 46–​48, 54–​55, 63–​64, 71–​72, 73–​74, 102, 112, 125–​26, 145, 153, 172–​73, 185, 215–​16 Theodosius II, 2–​3, 17–​18, 21, 26, 27, 39, 153, 185, 200–​1, 207 Theophilus of Alexandria, 71–​72 Theophilus of Antioch, 36–​37 theurgy,  196–​97 ‘third paganism’, 139–​40, 211 traditor,  115–​16 Trombley, Frank, 156 Trullo, council of Constantinople in,  141–​42  

Ullucci, Daniel, 144–​45   Val di Non, 132–​33, 153 Valens, 4, 6–​7, 21–​22, 22n24, 36, 38, 43–​44, 45–​46, 49, 102, 120, 124–​25, 186, 202–​3,  215–​16 Valentinian I, 36, 201–​3 Valentinian II, 89, 103, 120, 125, 135, 160–​61 Valerius, 25n36 Vandals, 116 Van Dam, Raymond, 18–​19, 54 Van Nuffelen, Peter, 164–​65 Várhelyi, Zsuzsanna, 138 Vercauteren, Lies, 174–​75 Victoria, the altar of, 55, 103–​4, 125 Vigilantius, 96, 110–​11, 192–​93 Vigilius of Trent, 153 Vincent of Lérins, 66–​67   Ward-​Perkins, Bryan, 120 Watts, Edward, 71–​72 Weber, Max, 13n2, 176–​77 Williams, D. H., 113 Woolf, Greg, 219–​20   Zachariah Scholasticus, 128 Zeno of Verona, 155–​56 Zoroastrians, 196–​97