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Urban Religion in Late Antiquity
 9783110641813, 311064181X

Table of contents :
Table of Contents
Intersecting religion and urbanity in late antiquity
A tale of no cities
The children of Cain
Faith and the city in the 4th century CE
Intellectualizing religion in the cities of the Roman Empire
The city of the dead or: the making of a cultural geography
A new “topography of devotion”
City of prophecies
Creating a city of believers: Rabbula of Edessa
Sacred spaces and new cities in the Byzantine East
Roman baths as locations of religious practice

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Urban Religion in Late Antiquity

Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche und Vorarbeiten

Herausgegeben von Jörg Rüpke und Christoph Uehlinger

Band 76

Urban Religion in Late Antiquity

Edited by Asuman Lätzer-Lasar and Emiliano Rubens Urciuoli In collaboration with Jörg Rüpke and Rubina Raja

ISBN 978-3-11-064117-2 e-ISBN (PDF) 978-3-11-064181-3 e-ISBN (EPUB) 978-3-11-064127-1 ISSN 0939-2580

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial NoDerivatives 4.0 License. For details go to http://creativecommons.org/licens-es/by-nc-nd/4.0/. Library of Congress Control Number: 2020942059 Bibliographic Information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at http://dnb.dnb.de. © 2021 Asuman Lätzer-Lasar and Emiliano Rubens Urciuoli, published by Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston Printing and binding: CPI books GmbH, Leck www.degruyter.com

Table of Contents Asuman Lätzer-Lasar, Rubina Raja, Jörg Rüpke, Emiliano Rubens Urciuoli Intersecting religion and urbanity in late antiquity 1 Emiliano Rubens Urciuoli A tale of no cities Searching for city-spaces in Augustine’s City of God Clifford Ando The children of Cain



Teresa Morgan Faith and the city in the 4th century CE


Heidi Wendt Intellectualizing religion in the cities of the Roman Empire Lara Weiss The city of the dead or: the making of a cultural geography Michele Renee Salzman A new “topography of devotion” Aurelian and Solar worship in Rome


Michael Blömer Sacred spaces and new cities in the Byzantine East Dirk Steuernagel Roman baths as locations of religious practice



Paroma Chatterjee City of prophecies Constantinople in late antique and medieval sources Hartmut Leppin Creating a city of believers: Rabbula of Edessa






Table of Contents



Asuman Lätzer-Lasar, Rubina Raja, Jörg Rüpke, Emiliano Rubens Urciuoli

Intersecting religion and urbanity in late antiquity 1 Urban Religion: readdressing historical change in late antiquity The period of Late Antiquity is characterised by dramatic and even contradicting developments, especially for the urban networks in the Mediterranean and beyond. On the one hand many prosperous cities downsized their earlier territory. The development in the Western part of the (former) Imperium Romanum could outrightly be called a period of de-urbanisation, impacting on the density and strength of the urban networks as much as on the fabric of individual cities from the late third century CE onwards (Osborne and Wallace-Hadrill 2013, 56 f.). Due to the invasion of the Vandals, the western part of Northern Africa witnessed a widespread desertion of cities in the fifth and sixth centuries CE (Leone 2007, 2013; summarily Osborne and Wallace-Hadrill 2013). On the other hand, and in particular in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean, several new cities emerged, and existing cities were expanded, even raised to the status of a capital city. The category of the urban, seen globally as the product of specific economic and social developments in the aftermath of the Neolithic revolution (Childe 1950) and regionally as the result of a specific Greco-Roman circum-Mediterranean offspring and conscious production of a dense network of interrelated and competing urban settlements (Cunliffe and Osborne 2005; Osborne 2005; Zuiderhoek 2017), changed significantly and in correlation to local developments. This happened much in continuity in the East and far into the Islamic period and the second millennium CE, much contrary to the forms of political power and the loci of cultural production in the West. Unsurprisingly, these developments had tremendous effects on the religious sphere. Religious actions, communications, and identities offer tools for carving out social spaces and making or at least modifying urban space. Neither is religion specifically urban nor the city specifically religious. But historically, in many periods and cultures, the shape and development (including growth as much as decline) of cities – and, even more, the different urban spaces created by individuals and different social groups within such built environments – and the shape and development of religious practices and ideas have significantly inOpenAccess. © 2020 Laetzer/Urciuoli, published by De Gruyter. the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110641813-001

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Asuman Lätzer-Lasar, Rubina Raja, Jörg Rüpke, Emiliano Rubens Urciuoli

fluenced each other (Rau and Rüpke 2020). By stressing the translocal references inherent to religious communication and the, in that simple sense, transcendent character of human-divine-relationships in the – in evolutionary terms – rather recent, but decisively not just “contemporary” phenomenon of urban religion (Urciuoli and Rüpke 2018; Rüpke 2020), we can further ask about the role of religion in mediating between the local and the global: that is its interference with cities’ attempts to create lasting horizons and control access to them (Raja 2019; 2020). The role of religion in creating spatial, temporal and social order in cities has always been an important topic in archaeological research from ceremonial centres and cities of Meso- and South America to Near Eastern and ancient Mediterranean, but also Chinese, Indian and medieval European cities. Frequently and rather one-sidedly, such research has reduced religious practices and beliefs to mere instruments of rulers and administrators to establish or bolster their hold of power (Liverani 2013, 177; cf. Rüpke 2019). Yet, a growing number of inhabitants and the increased density of interaction within and between urban settlements seem to have prompted and enabled processes of institutionalisation and the formulation of norms and imaginaries. Referring to, and including, non-human agents in communication, and therefore enlarging the relevant environment beyond the unquestionably plausible environment inhabited by coexisting humans (Rüpke 2015, 348), seemed to have contributed to organising economic exchange and redistribution. Furthermore, it has been functional in defining property rights as well as rights of political participation, for instance in ancient Rome (Rüpke 2018b). Vice versa, citizenship could regulate access to gods, as shown by the choice of words like “synagogue” and ekklesia, which refer first of all to voting assemblies (cf. Urciuoli 2013). Historical research has reconstructed such functions in many instances. In general, however, the analytical perspective was rather oriented from top-down processes when focussing on architecture or urban planning for instance. The urban religion approach (Becci, Burchardt and Casanova 2013; Day 2014; Knott, Krech and Meyer 2016; Day 2017; Garbin and Strhan 2017; Burchardt and Westendorp 2018; Lanz 2018; Rüpke 2020), which is evolving in the disciplines of sociology and anthropology for modern-day India, Africa, the US or South-America, offers a different perspective: religions and cities are entangled and impact in a dialectical way on each other on every social level, even the micro-level. The newest research stresses especially the power of individual actors, or minority groups in transforming the city, even if it is only on an ephemeral basis (Hill 2013; Low 2013; Urry 2013; Walkowitz 2013). Rarely and never comparatively has the interrelationship of city, religion and the global been thoroughly historicised and investigated with a view to other social differences of gender and age, social position and literacy, rural and trans-

Intersecting religion and urbanity in late antiquity


regional relationships. Therefore, in our new approach that is building on a cooperation with the The Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre of Excellence for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet), directed and represented by Rubina Raja, in the scope of the DFG-funded Humanities Centre for Advanced Studies “Religion and Urbanity: Reciprocal formations” we ask: how is religion used by different agents to appropriate (and that is to say, also craft) urban space? How do religious practices and imaginaries produce a transcending global that is different from other projections of the trans-urban? How does this specific religious agency shape and change urban space over time? And how does the urban context change different or even competing practices of religious communication and the ensuing forms of sacralisation? These are questions that need to be tackled. In a historical perspective these processes have hardly been investigated. At the heart of our approach is not a harmonizing view but a rather conflicting one of socially embedded agents who need to come to grips with their city, to endure and also to sustain, fight or transcend it. We do not suppose an easy evolutionary path but rather assume high variability in the relationship of developments in religious practices in cities, and the development of cities comprising agents using religious practices in different phases of the history of religion. Thus, we will go well beyond approaches that focus on competition of religious groups in claiming public space, or research that is interested above all in the role of religion for minorities (immigrants for example) joining the urban fabric as sketched above. Within the wider framework of such a larger comparative approach, this volume zooms in on the historical context of the advanced imperial and late antique broader Mediterranean space (2nd–8th centuries CE). Thus, it is not the periods of classical monumentalisation of cities like Athens, Antioch or Rome, which define our chronological framework. Instead we focus on cities such as Edessa, crisis management in Carthage or new foundations in Roman and Byzantine Syria, but also on the foundation and growth of Constantinople. We focus on periods of sustained change and ever new appropriation by ever different agents within clearly articulated and monumentalised built environments. Expertise and social trust are invoked within urban spaces that are consciously embedded in much larger political, military and imaginary frameworks. It is individuals making urban space and the processes of groupings following on or directed against such built environments and social interaction as informed by them that take centre-stage. The chapters are looking for archaeological evidence not only of new structures, but of rebuilding, of creating coherent or dis-coherent urban spaces by patterns of movements or marking in religious terms. They are looking for textual evidence for such strategies, but also for imaginations of urban spaces, ritual practices, religious narratives or norms of


Asuman Lätzer-Lasar, Rubina Raja, Jörg Rüpke, Emiliano Rubens Urciuoli

re-interpreting and transcending them by relocating the urban in global horizons, whether formulated as universal norms or global geographies. The case studies presented here from different angles question many of the (mostly implicit) hypotheses that are frequently entertained when thinking about religion in the city. First, we need to think about cities always in the plural. This is particularly important in two respects. The term city, in particular as used in European traditions and its exported terminologies, is a highly loaded and normative term (see Weber 1922 and the reception of the chapter on “city”, Weber 1958). This is certainly an ancient Mediterranean heritage, starting from philosophical concepts of the polis and its presence in political discourses, taken over and modified by the Latin term urbs and its Roman use and diffusion as a tool of dominion. Later European variants, even if built on very different types of cities, inscribe themselves into this tradition: Stadtluft macht frei, that is, living within the confinements of city walls is liberating (for an overview see Russo 2016). The highly different realities of cities do not live up to the singular of the normative concept. The cities reviewed in the following were old capitals or administrative centres, recently expanded villages or foundations due to military or dynastic reasons. Some were growing, others in decline or struggling to upkeep built environments. The sample reminds us that cities can and sometimes do fail. Many of the present metropolitan centres were insignificant a few centuries (if not shorter) before ancient capitals were moved and deserted in many instances. This is easily overlooked when a normative concept of cities as the better places for life is treated as a descriptive one. This normative discourse itself is part of ‘urbanity’, the specific way of living in cities and thinking about city – or cities (Rau 2014; Raja and Sindbæk 2018). Here a second aspect comes to the fore. Cities do not always, probably even rarely, regard themselves as the axis mundi, as a certain line of research in the nexus of the urban and religion supposes (see e. g. Rykwert 1976, built above all on ancient Chinese discourse, cf. Steinhardt 2013). Frequent is the orientation at larger centres within one’s own network of cities. Such cities, Babylon, Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, but also new foundations like Alexandria or Constantinople, were regarded as model cities, within their narrower or wider networks, offering features or standards for emulation or even competition. Yet even in such a city, the idea that one is living in just one case of a kind, in a concrete version of the type of built environment called city, might be present. In such imaginations of urbanity, religious practices – prayer as well as pilgrimage – and ideas – the Holy Land, the Eternal City – were not just inviting us to think in a specific way beyond the walls – to repeat a very basic notion of transcendence – but frequently referring to and focusing on specific places and above all cities in a distance (see Rüpke 2016). Many cities in

Intersecting religion and urbanity in late antiquity


many urban networks were competing, vying for the benevolence of an emperor or defending respectively struggling for regional priority, with regard to economic attraction or administration of water. If we need to think about cities in the plural, we also need to pay attention to the very different kinds of people living in the city at the same time. Sometimes a basic differentiation of visitors, immigrants and inhabitants might be helpful, but many of those present only temporarily interrupt their migrant status or stop involuntarily, for a year, for life or some generations (for a useful typology see Tacoma 2016). A steady influx from the rural environs, whether seasonal for certain phases of life or permanent, is one source. A smaller number of people come from afar (and even other cities) is another one. An astonishing number of visitors, merchants, family, students or artisans stayed for longer, but not forever. Slavery adds another feature to the balance sheet. “To the present day, cities remain confection of movers” (Clark 2013, 18). With a view to urban complexity, religion is not only nice to think with, but offers a battleground. Homogenisation of the heterogeneity and diversity of life in the city is a central administrative aim, whether followed by some imperial representative, local elite or bishop – or against one or more of those. Ruling the urban plebs is of particular importance (Le Galès 2013; Simone 2013; cf. Gruber 2016). In all these constellations religion comes in, whether as a centralising resource for political or ecclesiastical authorities (a classical focus of the study of religion in and of cities, as pointed out before) or as a means of stabilising or tolerating social differences. Drawing a dividing line between public and private in the form of eruvim, defining Jewish neighbourhoods for purposes of the Sabbath, or establishing ambivalent spaces like bathes – as analysed for Rome here – is pursued by or questioned by religious communication (e. g. Klein 2006; Fonrobert 2020). Such a diversity of urban religion is not identical with differences between religions – but urban diversity seems to draw further boundaries (Rüpke 2018a). Such boundary work might take very different forms, for instance philosophy and different ‘schools’ of reasoning or the establishment of religious authority. Boundaries could also be created by means of prophecy and based on critique of social or political practices (e. g. Schott 2005; Tiersch 2008; Hezser 2013; Alciati 2018; Bremmer 2018) as well as by establishing stable groups of followers. Social movements might be instigated by religious agents. At times, such urban religion might even take the shape of the “fundamentalist city” (for this notion see AlSayyad 2010; for intra-urban religious conflict see Bremmer 2014 and Mayer 2018). Religious action might be invited into large open spaces, laid out for such purposes as fora, circi, theatri or monumentalised (and roofed) as basilicae, or be performed in nearly invisible space, in houses or only temporarily used space. Religious practices and ideas can become “citified” (Urciuoli),


Asuman Lätzer-Lasar, Rubina Raja, Jörg Rüpke, Emiliano Rubens Urciuoli

as it will be shown. ‘Urban religion’ is not any specific form, but the ever-changing contingent outcome of a religious placemaking (Lätzer-Lasar) that is not a solely top-down process, but rather a process integrating all social levels of urban actors, as well as objects (buildings, infrastructures) and imagined spaces of urbanity, which leads into the development of specific ways of urban life and urban sets of minds.

2 Overview of the volume Even in focusing on the interdependency of city and religion and the many different forms it can take, the textual analyses and the archaeological case studies presented in this volume reflect the shared awareness that ‘city’ and ‘religion’ are vastly unevenly distributed (re‐)sources. The history of cities has often been conceptualised as change of rulers or of ideological regimes and resulting in internal changes. The history of religions, instead, has been seen as diffusion (or contraction) of rather stable beliefs that constitute the very identity and continuity of the subject. Engaging in relating city and religion needs to take the very different traditions of conceptualising the two poles into consideration. Therefore, the authors did not start from shared concepts of ‘city’ or ‘religion’, but rather from the shared perspective of urban religion as a lens into historical change in late antiquity. It turned out that this approach offered a view right into the centre of late ancient change – and a new perspective onto the mutual constitution as mutual critique of the urban and the religious Emiliano Rubens Urciuoli sets the stage in a treatment of one of the most influential texts for European urbanism, Augustine’s “City of God”. Under the headline of “A tale of no cities” he is scrutinising the text for treatment of city-spaces. Astonishingly, the result is largely negative. This is not questioning Urciuoli’s starting point, namely the assumption that the City of God itself is the quintessential product of an urban religion, authored by a city-based religious authority, using and targeting the very urban institutions and media he is relying upon in order to “claim, contest, and patrol urban spaces vis-à-vis intra- and inter-religious competitors.” Yet, Augustine’s analysis of cult relics, the material expressions of polytheism, and theatres and all kinds of spectacles, did not lead, as Urciuoli is able to show, to any appreciation of their specific urban qualities. Augustine sticks to a degree of generality that does not go beyond appreciating such cities’ principle of unity, sustaining life by cooperation and possibly peace. In contrast, the heavenly city is not a perfection of such qualities, but its very difference: the end of all labour and performances.

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In his chapter “The children of Cain”, Clifford Ando sticks to the same author. He deals with a text, written in Northern Africa at the beginning of the fifth century, Augustine’s Ennarationes in psalmos. Augustine, he claims, performed a violent misreading of the narrative of Cain and Abel. This radical interpretation allowed him to represent the twin brothers as the founders of two communities of very different norms and sentiments. Thus, he could circumvent the fixing of urbanism on the figure of Cain. And yet, the possibility for a positive evaluation of urbanism thus opened was not brought to work. In the historical of a widespread questioning of urban resilience, Augustine opted for the radical distinction of urban cities as sites of temptation, prefigured by Babylon, with the heavenly city of God, which is lacking any terrestrial precursor. Textual analysis is also the hallmark of Teresa Morgan’s chapter “Faith and the city in the fourth century”. On a broader textual basis, the chapter demonstrates how the idea “that church buildings, places of pilgrimage, and certain other spaces have the ability to create, alter and increase belief” was developed after the Constantinian restitution and sponsoring of buildings after 313. The material production went hand in hand with the widespread expectation and experience that architecture can replace experiences produced by preachers or healers. It is stone that gives proof of the truth of the sacred texts and enables the encounter with the divine. In certain places, Jerusalem above all, this general principle is heightened with the narrative assurance of historical authenticity. Heidi Wendt goes back a few steps and sets early Christian literature within a wider urban framework. Her chapter “Intellectualizing religion in the cities of the Roman Empire” examines these texts as indicators of a larger change towards intellectualisation as strategies of creating religious authority and group profiles. The spatial precondition is the direct encounter and cross-reference to intellectual rivals drawing on similar literary resources. Again, it is the urban technique of writing and the proliferation and accessibility of such skills and book production that form the basis of these strategies, shared across a broad range of sets of beliefs and group boundaries. The analyses of literary texts and their urban ecology is followed by chapters focusing on specific sites, urban settlements around the Mediterranean. Lara Weiss makes a start in a chapter that offers a methodological tool across periods; her example, Egyptian Memphis and its necropolis Saqqara, is not meant as a case-study for late antiquity. The chapter “The city of the dead or: the making of a cultural geography” presents a conceptual approach. Using a ‘lived ancient religion’ turned into a ‘walking dead’ approach, she is criticising the widespread focus on the presentation and representation of the tomb owner. She does so by turning to the larger spatial context and the practices of a landscape that comprises the city of the living and its extra-urban places of activity. It is the agency


Asuman Lätzer-Lasar, Rubina Raja, Jörg Rüpke, Emiliano Rubens Urciuoli

informed by practices, traditions and the spatial conditions that needs to be placed at the centre of analyses. Focusing on 3rd century Rome, Michele Renee Salzman offers a clear example of how and to what extent pre-existing topographical factors in the historical space of a metropolis can influence the planning strategies of the mightiest among the urban actors, i. e., the ruling emperor. Aurelian’s enforced ‘materialisation’ of his reformed version of the cult of Sol Invictus in the Campus Agrippae had a massive impact on the topography of devotion in Rome. However, the choice of the location was driven by his intent to capitalise on the different emplaced memories and topographical associations inherent in that area of the city via a building and organisational strategy that entailed a twofold achievement: on the one hand, stressing the continuity of this reformulated cult with the religious interests and ritual traditions of different categories of prior Sol devotees (military and non-elites); on the other, enlarging the pool of adherents by potentially including all levels of Roman society, and especially engaging those elite groups who had initially resisted his power seizure (senators). Paroma Chatterjee meticulously describes in her chapter “City of prophecies: Constantinople in late antique and medieval sources” the various cultural strategies with which the Byzantine intellectuals, but also the inhabitants of Constantinople in general dealt with pagan statues in the orthodox Christian city of the late antique and medieval period. By synoptically evaluating two ancient texts, such as the travelogue Parastaseis Syntomoi Chronikai and the Patria, a patriographic account of the legendary foundation of the city, in combination with and contrast to archaeological evidences, she comes to the conclusion that intellectuals rather ridiculed the statues and pagan deities in order to desacralise the objects, still standing in public, while the population of the city inscribed the statues in their physical and mental city-map as part of the urban landscape, both significant reasons why the statues actually survived this long period of disruption and iconoclasm. Hartmut Leppin engages with the topic of fundamentalist cities and analyses in his chapter “Creating a city of believers: Rabbula of Edessa” a city at the Eastern borders of the Empire in the early fifth century. But he is neither interested nor able to show that bishop Rabbula established such a regime, but in the motives of his rigorist interpretation of the office of a Christian bishop by the time and the motives to even radicalise these failing attempts in the biography written after his death. Dealing with the complexities of religious beliefs in a city even largely Christianised, the attempt was built on practices rather than beliefs. Rabbula tried to outflank other aristocrats not by his orthodoxy, but by his super-asceticism, including financial support of the poor. Even if not successful in the long run, the visibility of these practices won him some approval and in-

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dicates ways of communication in urban space that are not adequately represented in other literary sources. Michael Blömer discusses the same region, the Roman East and the same period, the fifth century. It is not the radicalisation, but the attempt at religious homogenisation and economic success by means of new foundations that is thematised in his chapter “Sacred spaces and new cities in the Byzantine East”. His case studies comprise Sergiupolis/Rusafa, Anastasiopolis/Dara, and Martyropolis/Mayyāfāriqīn, cities dedicated to protect the Eastern border, but enjoying the full range of urban characteristics like churches as central foci, colonnaded streets for civic pride, and substantial water supply. Each urban biography, however, was very different. At least for the first and the third example a strategy can be plausibly reconstructed that tried to ensure mercantile success by creating religiously attractive places. Imperial investment itself was as much a precondition as a result of such attractivity. Even more fundamental, however, was the very idea of an urbanity that took its pride in monumentality. Religion made it work. Finally, Dirk Steuernagel’s close-up analysis of “Roman baths as locations of religious practice” takes a comparative approach and starts from the well-accepted observation that baths were important social spaces across the Imperium Romanum and in particular in the examples focused upon in Asia minor. Building even on earlier traditions of athletics in the Hellenistic gymnasia and body-centred practices in healing sanctuaries, baths offered spaces for a wide range of social encounters and religious activities. Decorations in bathing areas proper as well as in the increasing recreational space could help to produce religious atmospheres. However, as Steuernagel is able to show, they never gained a religiously specific profile, but religious semantics and activities just partook in general social exchange. Temples, theatres, and circuses kept their proper place. Only occasionally, they served as locations for individual or small group activities that could not fall back on other established locations; such a privatisation of the communal space for the veneration of Mithras or God must thus be regarded as an exception rather than the rule. As such they did not discourage people of very different allegiances to use the same spaces. Taken together, the chapters underline the dynamics of the mutual shaping of urban space and religious ideas and practices. The specific forms resulting from this entanglement have to be seen against the background of a long and diverse Mediterranean history. Regional traditions are as much part of it as are visions of what a settlement called urban, what a ‘city’ should be. Here the establishment of religious authority found its limits – and found a fruitful field for innovation at the same time. ***


Asuman Lätzer-Lasar, Rubina Raja, Jörg Rüpke, Emiliano Rubens Urciuoli

The editors would like to thank all participants of the conference held in November 2017 in the Augustinerkloster at Erfurt – another urban space of religious making – for their engagement in the topic and their careful recrafting of their contributions. We would like to extend our thanks to those who could not be part of the publication, but contributed to the discussions and helped to shape the authors’ arguments. A table ronde led by Susanne Rau put these discussions in an even larger comparative framework. Diana Püschel accompanied the organisation throughout. We are grateful to the Max-Weber-Kolleg für kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien der Universität Erfurt, the Centre for Urban Network Evolutions at Aarhus University, Denmark, and the Research Focus ‘Religion’ of the University of Erfurt for the financing of the conference. Sophie Wagenhofer and Katrin Mittmann accompanied the editing of this book with their usual helpfulness and professionalism.

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Garbin, David; Strhan, Anna (eds.) 2017, Religion and the Global City (Bloomsbury Studies in Religion, Space and Place), New York: Bloomsbury. Gruber, Elisabeth 2016, “The City as Commune”, in Eirik Hovden; Christina Lutter; Walter Pohl (eds.), Meanings of Community across Medieval Eurasia: Comparative Approaches, Leiden: Brill. 99 – 124. Hezser, Catherine 2013, “The Jesus Movement as a ’Popular’ Judaism for the Unlearned”, in Petra Gemuenden; David G. Horrell; Max Kuechler (eds.), Jesus – Gestalt und Gestaltungen: Rezeptionen des Galilaeers in Wissenschaft, Kirche und Gesellschaft, Goettingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. 79 – 104. Hill, Andrew 2013, “The City, the Psyche, and the Visibility of Religious Spaces”, in Gary Bridge; Sophie Watson (eds.), The New Blackwell Companion to the City (rev. ed. edn.), Malden, Mass: Wiley-Blackwell. 367 – 75. Klein, Gil P. 2006, “The topography of symbol between late antique and modern Jewish understanding of cities”, Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte 58 (1). 16 – 28. Knott, Kim; Krech, Volkhard; Meyer, Birgit 2016, “Iconic Religion in Urban Space”, Material Religion 12 (2). 123 – 36. doi: 10.1080/17432200.2016.1172759. Lanz, Stephan 2018, “Religion of the City: Urban-Religious Configurations on a Global Scale”, in Helmuth Berking; Silke Steets; Jochen Schwenk (eds.), Religious Pluralism and the City: Inquiries into Postsecular Urbanism, London: Bloomsbury. 65 – 80. Le Galès, Patrick 2013, “Urban Governance in Europe”, in Gary Bridge; Sophie Watson (eds.), The New Blackwell Companion to the City (rev. ed. edn.), Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell. 747 – 58. Leone, Anna 2007, Changing Townscapes in North Africa from Late Antiquity to the Arab Conquest, Bari: Edipuglia. Leone, Anna 2013, The End of the Pagan City: Religion, Economy, and Urbanism in Late Antique North Africa, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Liverani, Mario 2013, “Power and Citizenship”, in Peter Clark (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Cities in World History, New York: Oxford University Press. 164 – 80. Low, Setha 2013, “Spatializing Culture: Embodied Space in the City”, in Gary Bridge; Sophie Watson (eds.), The New Blackwell Companion to the City (rev. ed. edn.), Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell. 463 – 75. Mayer, Wendy 2018, “Re-Theorising Religious Conflict: Early Christianity to Late Antiquity and Beyond”, in Wendy Mayer; Chris L. de Wet (eds.), Reconceiving Religious Conflict: New Views from the Formative Centuries of Christianity, London: Routledge. 3 – 29. Osborne, Robin 2005, “Urban Sprawl: What is Urbanization and Why does it Matter?”, in Robin Osborne; Barry Cunliffe (eds.), Mediterranean Urbanization 800 – 600 BC, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1 – 16. Osborne, Robin; Cunliffe, Barry (eds.) 2005, Mediterranean Urbanization 800 – 600 BC, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Osborne, Robin; Wallace-Hadrill, Andrew 2013, “Cities of the Ancient Mediterranean”, in Peter Clark (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Cities in World History, New York: Oxford University Press. 49 – 65. Raja, Rubina 2019, “Dining with the gods and the others: the banqueting tickets from Palmyra as expressions of religious individuality”, in Martin Fuchs; Antje Linkenbach; Martin Mulsow; Bernd-Christian Otto; Rahul Bjørn Parson; Jörg Rüpke (eds.), Religious


Asuman Lätzer-Lasar, Rubina Raja, Jörg Rüpke, Emiliano Rubens Urciuoli

Individualization: Historical Dimensions and Comparative Perspectives, Berlin: De Gruyter. 243 – 256. Raja, Rubina 2020, “Come and dine with us: invitations to ritual dining as part of social strategies in sacred spaces in Palmyra”, in Valentino Gasparini; Maik Patzelt; Rubina Raja; Anna-Katharina Rieger; Jörg Rüpke; Emiliano Rubens Urciuoli (eds.), Lived Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World: Approaching Religious Transformations from Archaeology, History and Classics, Berlin: De Gruyter. 385 – 404. Raja, Rubina; Sindbæk, Søren Michael 2018, “Urban Network Evolutions. Exploring dynamics and flows through evidence from urban contexts”, in Rubina Raja; Søren Michael Sindbæk (eds.), Urban Network Evolutions. Towards a High-Definition Archaeology, Aarhus: Universitetsforlag. 13 – 18. Rau, Susanne 2014, “Urbanität”, Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit Online, Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0248_edn_ a4491000. Rau, Susanne; Rüpke, Jörg 2020, “Religion und Urbanität: Wechselseitige Formierungen als Forschungsproblem”, Historische Zeitschrift 310. 654 – 680. DOI: 10.1515/hzhz-2020 – 0021. ISSN 0018 – 2613. Rüpke, Jörg 2015, “Religious agency, identity, and communication: reflections on history and theory of religion”, Religion, 45 (3). 344 – 366. Rüpke, Jörg 2016, “Religiöse Identität: Topographische und soziale Komponenten”, in Martina Böhm (ed.), Kultort und Identität: Prozesse jüdischer und christlicher Identitätsbildung im Rahmen der Antike, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. 19 – 43. Rüpke, Jörg 2018a, “Living Urban Religion: Blind Spots in Boundary Work”, Historia Religionum 10. 53 – 64. doi: 10.19272/201804901005. Rüpke, Jörg 2018b, Pantheon: A New History of Roman Religion, Princeton: Princeton University Press. Rüpke, Jörg 2019, “Religion als Urbanität: Ein anderer Blick auf Stadtreligion”, Zeitschrift für Religionswissenschaft 27 (1). 174 – 95. Rüpke, Jörg 2020, Urban Religion: A Historical Approach to Urban Growth and Religious Change, Berlin: De Gruyter. Russo, Manfred 2016, Projekt Stadt: Eine Geschichte der Urbanität, Basel: Birkhäuser. Rykwert, Joseph 1976, The Idea of a Town: The Anthropology of Urban Form in Rome, Italy and the Ancient World, Princeton: Princeton University Press. doi: 6.22; 6.14.4. Schott, Jeremy 2005, “Porphyry on Christians and Others: ‘Barbarian Wisdom,’ Identity Politics, and Anti-Christian Polemics on the Eve of the Great Persecution”, Journal of Early Christian Studies 13 (3). 277 – 314. doi: 10.1353/earl.2005.0045. Simone, AbdouMaliq 2013, “The Politics of Urban Intersection: Materials, Affect, Bodies”, in Gary Bridge; Sophie Watson (eds.), The New Blackwell Companion to the City (rev. ed. edn.), Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell. 357 – 66. Steinhardt, N[ancy L.] 2013, “China”, in Peter Clark (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Cities in World History, New York: Oxford University Press. 105 – 24. Tacoma, Laurens Ernst 2016, Moving Romans: Migration to Rome in the Principate, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Tiersch, Claudia 2008, “Zwischen Hellenismus und Christentum: Transformationsprozesse der Stadt Gaza vom 4. – 6. Jh. n. Chr.”, Millennium 5. 57 – 91.

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Urciuoli, Emiliano Rubens; Rüpke, Jörg 2018, “Urban Religion in Mediterranean Antiquity: Relocating Religious Change”, Mythos 12. 117 – 35. Urciuoli, Emiliano Rubens 2013, Un’archeologia del “noi” cristiano: Le “comunità immaginate” dei seguaci di Gesù tra utopie e territorialozzazioni (I – II sec. e.v.), Milano: Ledizioni. Urry, John 2013, “City Life and the Senses”, in Gary Bridge; Sophie Watson (eds.), The New Blackwell Companion to the City (rev. ed. edn.), Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell. 347 – 56. Walkowitz, Daniel J. 2013, “Urban Choreographies: Dance and the Politics of Space”, in Gary Bridge; Sophie Watson (eds.), The New Blackwell Companion to the City (rev. ed. edn.), Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell. 255 – 64. Weber, Max 1922, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft: Grundriss der verstehenden Soziologie (5., rev. Aufl. 1985 edn.), Tübingen: Mohr. doi: 0.2; 24; 26. Weber, Max 1958, The city, trans. Gertrud Neuwirth; Don Martindale, Glencoe, Ill: Free Press. Zuiderhoek, Arjan 2017, The Ancient City, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Emiliano Rubens Urciuoli

A tale of no cities

Searching for city-spaces in Augustine’s City of God ¹ Abstract: Augustine’s City of God (412– 426/427 CE) is only nominally a book on cities. Inspired by a historical event, the City of God’s project corresponds to the full-scale historicisation of a long-established theological-political trope within which space, in general, and urban space, in particular, seem to play a negligible role. Is this merely because Augustine’s two cities are only ‘allegorically (mystice)’ such? Aim of this paper is not to reinvent the wheel by ascertaining that Augustine resorts to a conventional imagery in order to visualize the way in which a human dichotomy takes shape and runs through the ages. My intention is rather: (a) to investigate the actual presence and significance of city-spaces in the City of God; (b) to apply the research programme of “urban religion” to the material provided by the book; (c) to verify whether and to what extent the Lefebvrian concept of “non-city” fits the post-urban reality of Augustine’s heavenly civitas.

1 Introduction St Augustine used the city as a metaphor for God’s design of faith, but the ancient reader of St Augustine who wandered the alleys, markets and forums of Rome would get no hint of how God worked as a city planner (Richard Sennett, Building and Dwelling)

This paper is a spatial analysis of Augustine’s City of God. It focuses on the role played by city-spaces in the most influential book of Western culture that features something translatable with “city” in its title. It concentrates on Augustine’s practice of “cityscaping” (Fuhrer, Mundt and Stenger 2015) as imaginative construction of city-spaces² which draws on both cross-culturally recurrent and

 Funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) – FOR 2779. I am grateful to Cristiana Facchini for her insightful remarks on a previous version of this paper.  I will follow Ed Soja’s suggestions “to think, write, and read about cityscapes as cityspaces” in order to both retain the former’s “evocations of panoramic visuality and global scope” and better “embed the interpretation” of urban landscapes, places, and practices “in the wider framework of critical spatial thinking and analysis” (Soja 2006, XV; italics in original). OpenAccess. © 2020 Laetzer/Urciuoli, published by De Gruyter. the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110641813-002

This work is licensed under


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culturally specific urban semantics, tropes, discursive traditions, and imageries. Yet, just as to pen the City of God is not a secluded and uncommitted literary desk work, Augustine’s cityscaping, too, is not an isolated cognitive and rhetorical performance. From the perspective adopted here, a religiously engaged cityscaping represents only one strand of a wider set of socio-spatial³ phenomena which I term “citification of religion” (Urciuoli 2020). Evidenced also by the literate elites’ writing of mental cities, citification of religion refers to the processes whereby (permanently or temporarily) urban-based religious agents from all social stations carry out religiously infused actions that succeed in appropriating city-spaces at least for some time, in relation to a certain audience, and in manners that dynamically and deliberately engage with the urban quality of their contexts at particular moments in their histories. It defines also the religious state of affairs resulting from such processes in the long run, which should be viewed more as the outcome of specific effects and uses of spaces by religious agents than of some intrinsic characteristics of a specific religion (Urciuoli and Rüpke 2018, 120). Instead of measuring anew the impact of Augustine’s book on Western theological, philosophical, and political thought, the paper raises the question as to how and to what extent Augustine’s cityscaping in the City of God has contributed to the centuries-long collective enterprise of the citification of Jesus/Christ.⁴ To my knowledge, the only spatially informed⁵ analysis of a book of Augustine hitherto published is Owen M. Ewald’s chapter on “Imperial Roman Cities as Places of Memory in Augustine’s Confessions” (Ewald 2014). Building also on Lefebvre, Shira L. Lander’s book on religious conflicts in Late Roman North Africa emphasizes the spatialized rhetoric of triumph and defeat, in-grouping and outgrouping, as it appears in some Augustine’s sermons and letters (Lander 2016).

 Belonging to the lexicon of the critical spatial theory, the formula “socio-spatial” refers to the “fundamental premise” of Lefebvre’s sea-changing reassessment of spatial thinking: that is, to the idea that “the social and the spatial relationships are dialectical interactive, interdependent, that social relations of production are both space-forming and space contingent” (Soja 1980, 210). The notion of “spatiality” encapsulates precisely this dialectic.  “Citifying Jesus: Early Christians’ Making of an Urban Religion (1st – 5th CE)” is the title of the monograph I am currently writing at the Max Weber Centre in Erfurt within the framework of the research group on “Religion and Urbanity: reciprocal formations”. As the title shows, “citification” is one of the key notions of this study.  With “spatially informed” I mean informed by the insights of thinkers who “have contributed significantly to theoretical discussions of the importance of space and place in shaping cultural, social, economic and political life in recent years” (Hubbard and Kitchin 2011, 1). Ewald’s enquiry into Augustine’s spatial metaphors builds on the work of the architectural theorist Kevin Lynch and his notion of “public images” (Ewald 2015, 274; see Lynch 1960).

A tale of no cities


However, as far as the City of God is concerned, temporally focused enquiries have been predictably preferred to spatial investigations.⁶ Critical geographers and spatial theorists will certainly not be surprised to know that, once again, in the midst of what Foucault imagined as the “epoch of space” (Foucault 1986 [1967], 22),⁷ time and temporal concerns have subordinated space and the spatial problematic (Lefebvre 1991 [1974], 21– 24; Soja 1989 31– 38; Massey 1993).⁸ Moreover, biblical and early Christian studies are habitual latecomers in 20th-century epistemological trends and the “spatial turn” is no exception.⁹ Lastly, Augustine himself prioritizes time over space:¹⁰ while the temporal span of existence of the two cities is thoroughly sequenced (Civ. 16.43; 22.30), with their initial and final termini fixed or at least discussed in details (Civ. 11– 14, in particular 12.11, and Civ. 19 – 21, in particular 20.5 – 14, respectively), their spatial features remain both untreated and undefined (Kemezis 2015, 3). When they do not rhetorically crystallize around “metonymic spaces” (Crang and Thrift 2000, 13) like Jerusalem, Babylon, Rome,¹¹ and when the Scriptures do not suggest any temporary emplacement (Markus 1971, 63), the two cities perfectly stick to the role theologically assigned to them: namely that of illegible and thus unmappable communities of humans and angels stretching across ontological realms, spanning continents, and running through millennia. We simply have no means to border them and no hints of how to map them out. All these reasons may account for the substantial neglect of both the dynamics of spatiality, in general, and the topics of urbanism and urbanity, in particular, in the immense literature on the City of God. This paper will try to partially fill this lacuna in order to gain new insights into aspects of religion in the City of  This tendency includes also scholars well versed in spatial theory. An author of cutting-edge spatial analyses of early Christians’ texts (Maier 2013; 2017a; 2017b), Harry Maier’s essay on “The City of God as revelation” (Maier 1999) prioritizes time over space.  Dating back to 1967, Foucault’s interview on “Des espaces autres” coincides with the “initial impetus” of the “spatial turn” but predates its much later “expansion” well beyond spatial disciplines “to infiltrate” scholarly fields hitherto dominated by a historical imagination (Soja 2006, XVI) – including religious studies (see Knott 2010).  For a philosophical history of the “dormant” position of place and space in Western thinking, see Casey 1997.  The earliest overview of the impact of spatial analysis on biblical scholarship is to be found in Stewart 2012.  For Augustine’s strong sense of historical development, see O’ Donovan 1987. For the debate on Augustine’s eschatological-soteriological sense of progress, see also van Oort 1991, 99 – 102.  We can probably say that, in the City of God, Rome and Babylon stand for the earthly city’s life and values just as, in urban literature, 19th-century Paris has functioned as a metonym for modern city life and 20th-century Los Angeles for postmodern urbanity (Crang and Thrift 2000, 13).


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God that only a focus on space, in general, and urban space, in particular, can illuminate. It is divided into two parts. The first focuses more generally on Augustine’s treatment of city-spaces. The second pinpoints three possible foci of analysis for what might represent an “urban religious approach” to the textual material provided by the City of God. A final reflection on the urban remains in the world to come (in futuro saeculo) and the related limits of Augustine’s cityscaping will conclude the paper.

2 Writing cities un-spatially 2.1 Missing “the urban” Augustine’s City of God (Hippo Regius, 412– 426/427 CE) is only nominally a book on cities. Occasioned by the sack of a city without being a book on the sack of a city, the City of God is a work framed by a civic imagery and dotted with a cityrelated vocabulary but quite reluctant to deploy an urban imagination. This argument clearly builds on a preliminary distinction. In this paper “civic” is not taken as a synonym of “urban”. This study rather aims to stretch out the semantic difference between the two modern terms by poaching on this crack in an unprecedented manner for Augustinian studies. In his 1991 book on the “sources of Augustine’s doctrine of the two cities”, Johannes van Oort has listed the main “possible meanings” of the manifold notion of civitas in Augustine’s time. Such meanings are: (a) a legally united and articulated community of citizens (without emphasis on the territoriality or the polity); (b) a territorially nucleated and built settlement where city-dwellers live; (c) a city-state (with emphasis on the polity); (d) citizenship and the related rights (van Oort 1991, 102). Surveying Augustine’s way to navigate the interrelated facets of the “Roman social imaginary” (Ando 2015) that coalesces around civitas, van Oort concludes that “city” is “the best way to denote” the comprehensive meaning of the word (van Oort 1991, 105). However, in a previous dedicated lexicographical analysis, R.T. Marshall had decidedly questioned this traditional option by judging its “restricted sense” “at odds with the inclusive natures” of the two civitates (Marshall 1952, 46): whatever its physical-geographical or political-personal connotations, our standard meaning and lexical definition of “city” do not fit the predominant “socio-religious” signification of Augustine’s use of the term (Marshall 1952, 43). An alternative comprehensive translation is not supplied and perhaps deliberately avoided. By focusing on semantics in order to eventually work out matters of theology, these two opposite ways of cutting the Gordian knot of the “standard metonymic range of civitas” (Ando 2014,

A tale of no cities


242) may help understand why Augustine’s reluctance to thematize “the urban” in the City of God has largely escaped notice. The substantivized formula “the urban” is not meant to gesture at the long apprehended distinction between urbs and civitas as the difference and the tension between the “city of stones” and the “city of people”, also known as “la ville et la cité” (Sennett 2018, 1).¹² Augustine too, in other writings, deploys this discriminating strategy in order to eventually divorce the lives of the Romans from the fate of Rome (Sermones 81.9; De excidio urbis Romae 6 and 8; see Ando 2014, 241– 242) and thereby dry out any sentimental attachment to the metaphysically resonating places of a former pagan capital (Edwards 1996, 17– 18). Yet this contrast between a local and a personal understanding of the city does not correspond to the thematic cleft I aim to point out. In fact, images of the urban built environment, that is, of the emplacement, spaciousness, and displacement of its imposing architecture, are far from absent in the City of God. Starting and stemming from Cain’s inception of the urban form and life (Civ. 15.8), we read of cities being materially founded, seized, and destroyed, pomeria being drawn, and high towers, like Babylon’s “marvelous construction” (Civ. 16.4), erected and torn down. Moreover, at a higher interpretive level, the “cities of stones” not only concretize the plot of the civilisational advancement of human race, by harboring its ambiguities since the dawn of history,¹³ but also display the God-sponsored constructional superiority of Christian architecture from the very outset of the book. On the one hand, the “moral and theological topography” of basilicas and martyrs’ shrines confronts that of temples and theatres all the way through (Lugaresi 2008, 674); on the other, the first book of the City of God immediately stages the physical capacity of big churches (amplissimae basilicae) in a real-and-imagined “space of religious competition” (Kong and Woods 2016, 3) with the pagan architecture over civilian protection (Civ. 1.1 and 7; 2.2). As articulated in both material and rhetorical strategies,¹⁴ competition over urban space makes religion tangible through the occupation  As sketched above, in Roman political theorizing this distinction seeps through civitas itself by disarticulating the civitas qua citizenship from the civitas qua city: see Ando 2014. For a conciliation, see Cicero, De officiis 1.17.53. For an enforcement of the disjunction, see Cicero, De lege agraria 2.87– 88. For the opposition between a local and a personal sense of polis in Greek classical sources, see Hansen 1998, 17– 20 and 52– 64. For an overview of the millennia-long cultural history of the polarity in the sense of an almost mutually exclusive relationship, see Farinelli 2003, 136 – 137. For an interpretation of urbanism as modern “fractured discipline split “between the knowledge of building [ville] and dwelling [cité]”, see Sennett 2018, 21– 89.  See Ando in this volume.  Lander (2016, 26 – 30) calls these strategies “architectural dispossession” and “spatial supersessionism”, respectively.


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of a limited and contented resource such as the city soil. Claiming space in the urban landscape represents for Augustine a crucial geographical side of the cosmic battle “against the pagans”.¹⁵ “The urban” on which Augustine hardly focuses stands in this paper for both “urbanism” and “urbanity”. The former specifically refers to the constructionalfunctional features of the urban genotype as structures created by urbanization processes, whereas the latter designates the peculiar socio-cultural form and symbolic infrastructure of everyday city life.¹⁶ Zooming in on these two aspects, the scope of a spatial analysis of the City of God is to survey the whole work and look for the specific awareness, concerns, and even imperatives that are needed in order for his author to apprehend the city as city-space, that is, “as a historical-social-spatial phenomenon, but with its intrinsic spatiality highlighted” for specific purposes (Soja 2000, 8). Of course, in Augustine’s case, one cannot expect these purposes to be of an interpretive and explanatory nature. It would be neither sound nor fair to ask a late antique writer to be, at the same time, a pioneer of the “spatial turn” and a forerunner of the “urban turn”.¹⁷ Nor could the City of God be interested in laying out a sort of geo-history of city-spaces from the creation of the universe to the final judgment, with the writer either adopting a Le Corbusier-like bird eye view on buildings (Le Corbusier 1947 [1937]) or playing the role of the flâneur strolling the streets (Benjamin 1999 [1982]). Rather, what is more reasonable to look for, and not so unlikely to find among non-modern writers are hints of a “topographical logic” and an “interest in the systematics of topographical details” like those that Varro displays at length in the fifth book of the De lingua latina (Rüpke 2020, 81 and 82). In alternative, without necessarily assuming any topographical agenda, I would have been content to pinpoint a “trend”, if not a “logic of change”, in Augustine’s metaphorical treatment of

 For the role played by Augustine in the struggle against the Donatists as a seminal example of how “intra-religious competitions” can intersect with “religion-state competitions” (Kong and Woods 2016, 2), see Rossi 2013. On the spatial relations between religious competitors in Late Roman North Africa and their rhetoricization, see Lander 2016. On the transformation of the regional religious landscape in general, see Leone 2013.  Although Louis Wirth’s seminal article names the urban “way of life” “urbanism” (Wirth 1938), the Anglo-Saxon urban discourse has been increasingly resorting to the notion of “urbanity” to specifically refer to the cultural-symbolic dimension of cities. The German “Urbanität” tends to include both the socio-cultural and the architectural-functional aspects of the urban genotype (Rau 2011; Schneider and Stercken 2016). In some Graeco-Roman urban histories, the form “urbanism” is used to refer to both aspects. See Zuiderhoek 2016.  The latter formula designates geographical and sociological approaches both proposing “specifically urban explanations of social phenomena” (Soja 2003, 275) and emphasizing the “spatial specificity of urbanism” (Soja 2000, 7– 10; e. g., Berking and Löw 2005 and 2008).

A tale of no cities


urban spaces, as it is the case for the Confessions (Ewald 2015). After all, if the cross-disciplinary development of a spatial epistemology is a 20th-century belated achievement,¹⁸ sense of space is not: neither is the attention to the spatial organization of the urban fabrics a hallmark of contemporary narratives on cities, nor are the symbolic-communicative implications of the ‘staging of urbanity’ (Schneider and Stercken 2016) coterminous with the late middle ages and early modern times (e. g., Edwards 1996 for Rome). Yet in the City of God Augustine not only never “put[s] space first” and “does not write cities spatially” (Soja 2003, 272) but also operates in a way that evens out all spatial formations by systematically ignoring the spatial characteristics of different political and social entities.

2.2 A methodical leveling of spatial forms I will start with a few examples taken from some propositional materials in the City of God. Augustine offers two almost identical definition of civitas. ¹⁹ The first appears already in Civ. 1.15, where Augustine poaches on the Roman repertoire of human ideals in order to show that the happiness of a city does not correspond with its historical fortune and religious loyalty is not necessary advantageous “in this life”: If, however, our adversaries say that M. Regulus, even while in captivity and suffering torture of the body, could still have been happy in the blessedness of a virtuous soul, then let us also seek such true virtue: a virtue by which a city also (et civitas) may be made happy, as well as a single man. The happiness of a city and of a man do not, after all, arise from different sources; for a city is nothing other than a concordant multitude of men (cum aliud civitas non sit quam concors hominum multitudo). (Civ. 1.15; transl. Dyson 1998)²⁰

Here the question of what a civitas is arises from a quest for the moral resources (virtus … vera) that it needs from its citizens in order to “be made happy”. Within this eudemonistic frame based on individual men’s virtues, the urban magnitude is simply supposed to multiply (multitudo) and spread a single consensus-generating moral factor – whatever it is – rather than beeing brought to bear on the production of new and mutable ways of morally and happily coexisting. On  What Lefebvre has called “spatiology” (Lefebvre 1991 [1974], 404).  In the City of God there are neither definitions nor other specific propositional materials on urbs.  The same definition occurs in Ep. 155.9.


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these bases, no sustained reflection involving the urban spatial specificity can be expected. Dating back to Aristotle (Pol. 2 1261a23 – 33), the argument about the specific societal benefits of increasing complexity via clustering a large number of different people,²¹ which already hints at the interplay between the three structural characteristics of urbanism according to sociologist Louis Wirth, i. e., size, density, and heterogeneity (Wirth 1938),²² is totally glossed over. Civitas is nothing but a ‘superorganism’ (Hölldobler – Wilson 2008) whose components are embodied individuals ultimately concordant and therefore synergetically interacting for the sake of a common earthly happiness. It is a consensually constructed but spatially unspecific collective body, like many other Romanstyled social unities (populus, societas, etc.). The second definition, which occurs much later in Augustine’s reading of Genesis 4, is no more accurate in this sense. Civitas is “nothing but a multitude of men united by some tie of fellowship” (nihil est aliud quam hominum moltitudo aliquo societatis vinculo conligata) (Civ. 15.8; thus also in Letters 138.10). Note that, despite the Ciceronian echo (concilia coetusque hominum iure sociati; De republica 6.13.2), the legal nature of this “tie” is deliberately denied and its quality left vague (aliquo vinculo; see Marshall 1952, 11). In fact, the urban macro-individual is further explained as a mere extension of a mostly biologically related domestic unit. No matter what the biblical narrative seems to say, the first city was founded by Cain and named after his first son, Enoch, when the growth rate in his family-run “assemblage of mammals in number and proximity” (Scott 2017, 104) was such to demand some functional update: But even if Enoch was indeed the first-born of the founder of that first city, we should not on that account conclude that Enoch’s father founded it and gave his son’s name to it at the time of Enoch’s birth. For a city is nothing other than a multitude of men bound together by some tie of fellowship; and so a city could not then have been established by one man. However, when that man’s household (familia) became so numerous that it now had the size of a population (populi quantitatem), it was certainly then possible for him to establish a city and to give the name of his first-born son to what he had established. (Civ. 15.8)

 Yet not too large for Aristotle: see Pol. 7 1326a-b. For the way urban clustering fosters reflexivity and spurs innovation by putting into contact new people with new ideas, new ways of looking at things, and maybe new ways to solve old problems, see Jacobs 1969; also Storper 1997, 244– 248; Soja 2000, 14– 15; 2003, 274– 280; Glaeser 2011.  “For sociological purposes a city may be defined as a relatively large, dense and permanent settlement of socially heterogeneous individuals” (Wirth 1938, 4). Archeologists have questioned these criteria as a good description of contemporary Western cities which is hardly applicable to pre-modern Western and non-Western societies: see M. E. Smith 2010, 138. Urban sociologists sometimes think the opposite: see Martinotti 2017, 94.

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The Bible neither deceives nor speaks nonsense:²³ no city can be a one-man enterprise and individual achievement. Only once his household had grown “so numerous (tanta numerositate)” that it exceeded the size limit of the kinship connectivity – whatever it is – Cain could (potuit) establish a city. Nonetheless, apart from this demographic argument and a subsequent reflection on the longevity of the antediluvian folks (Civ. 15.9), Augustine provides no further instruction about how such a massively scaled-up parental unit has technically morphed into something like a city – instead of a tribe, a nation, or more modestly a village. And why, a critic of Neolithic urbanization as universal aspiration might wonder, did Cain impose such a civilizational leap to his people? For instance, Augustine could have focused on the internal division of labor of the newly founded urban superorganism, thus tapping into the biblical account of Cain’s progeny as the inventor of urban culture – above all, metallurgy and arts (Gen. 4.21– 22) – via functional differentiation of the agricultural surplus. Alternatively, he could have drawn on the Genesis’ overall antipathy for cities in order to explain how it happened that the ancient peoples’ will to sedentism and nucleation ended up with the divine destruction of the tower of Babylon (Gen. 11.1– 9).²⁴ Neither option is pursued. On the one hand, his Roman-styled notion of civitas prevents him from embarking on whatever narrative of the rise of urbanism which resorts to non-consensual initiatives on the part of ambitious chiefs (like coercion, expropriation, and exploitation of concentrated manpower; see Scott 2018).²⁵ On the other hand, restrained by the biblical version of the story, this consensual sociopolitical framework does not prompt any insight into any of the socio-spatial dynamics that might have led to organize and structure peoples’ coalescence into an urban agglomeration as higher level of societal organization (like synoecism; see Soja 2003, 273 –

 On the same passage, see already Philo, Post. 14, who solves the quandary by simply allegorizing the whole story: “It would seem… that it is better to take the words figuratively, as meaning that Cain resolves to set up his own creed, just as one might set up a city (καθάπερ πόλιν)”.  See the anti-urban tones of the Book of Jubilees (II – I BCE) whose author rewrites the biblical genealogies between the destruction of the tower of Babylon and the birth of Terah, Abraham’s father, in Ur (Jub. 11.1– 13). Here urbanity is connected with warfare, domination, expropriation, idolatry, and sinful lifestyles in general.  As Clifford Ando shows in this volume, Augustine’s necessity to contradict the biblical narrative by positing both Cain and Abel as “equally founders” of civitates calls for a non-genealogical inception of city life as “community of consent”. In consequence, he wrestles with the problem of grafting the Roman notion of civitas on the story of the patriarchs and its account of an urbanism based on descent.


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280).²⁶ The enlargement of the group is enough to justify and produce a city: only size matters. However, size alone is no guarantee of spatial specificity. Augustine’s adoption of the Old Academic conceptualization of the sequenced levels of human society (Civ. 19.7)²⁷ elicits an explicit isomorphism in the elementary drives and workings of the two lowest forms of sociation: the household and the city. In two passages of the book 19 that develop the same argument, Augustine posits a concentric arrangement and a perfect alignment of the domestic and the civic “search for peace”. The premise is that, whatever its size and complexion, “every community seeks some peace” (O’ Donovan 1987, 103). In consequence, the specific quality and capacity of city-spaces to sustain a nucleated diversity go unnoticed: Thus, if he [scil. a robber] were offered the servitude of a large number – of a city or of a nation (vel civitatis vel gentis) – who would serve him in just the same way as he had required his household to serve him, then he would no longer lurk like a robber in his lair; he would raise himself up as a king for all to see. (Civ. 19.12) A man’s household ought to be the beginning, or a little part, of the city; and every beginning has reference to some end proper to itself, and every part has reference to the integrity of the whole of which it is a part. From this, it appears clearly enough that domestic peace has reference to civic peace (ut ad pacem civicam pax domestica referatur): that is, that the ordered concord of domestic rule and obedience has reference to the ordered concord of civic rule and obedience. Thus, it is fitting that the father of a family should draw his own precepts from the law of the city (Ita fit ut ex lege civitatis praecepta sumere patrem familias oporteat), and rule his household in such a way that it is brought in harmony with the city’s peace. (Civ. 19.16)

Augustine’s general disinterest in the political-institutional specificity of social relationships (Weithman 2001, 238) includes their spatiality. The isomorphic logic glosses over the substantial difference between managing the propinquity

 As Soja reminds (Soja 2003, 273 – 274), the most elaborate ancient theorization of synoecism as “stimulus of urban agglomeration” is provided by Aristotle to describe the natural processes leading to the polis creation – which develops out of the village which again develops out of the household: see Aristotle, Pol. 1 1252b16 – 1253a18.  “After the city or town (post civitatem vel urbem) comes the world, which the philosophers identify as the third level of human society. They begin with the household (a domo), progress to the city (ad urbem), and come finally to the world (ad orbem)” (Civ. 19.7). See Cicero, Off. 1.53: “Gradus autem plures sunt societatis hominum …”.

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of thousands of strangers²⁸, on the one hand, and ruling the cohabitation of a few owned subordinates and biologically related individuals, on the other. The two types of “ordered concord” are fully equated in an un-spatialized treatment of their authority structures. The spatial bases of rulership do not matter at all, expect for the fact that scaling up the size complicates the task of the urban equivalent of the domestic peacekeeper, the judge: If, therefore, there is no security even in the home from the common evils which befall the human race, what of the city (quid civitas)? The larger the city (quanto maior), the more is its forum filled with civil law-suits and criminal trials. Even when the city is at peace and free form actual sedition and civil war, it is never free from the danger of such disturbance or, more often, bloodshed. (Civ. 19.5)

Among all the authority structures he comments upon, statehood is probably the subject of Augustine’s most sustained, though totally un-spatialized, theoreticalpolitical reflection. He resorts twice to Cicero’s coupled definitions of “state” (res publica) as the “property of a people” (res populi) and of “people” (populus) as “a multitude united in fellowship by common agreement as to what is right and by a community of interest (coetum multitudinis iuri consensu et utilitatis communione sociatum)” (Civ. 19.21; also 2.21; see Cicero, Resp. 1.25). Building on these definitions, Augustine argues that, given that there is no shared sense of right without a shared concept of justice, but also no justice where the true God is not properly obeyed,²⁹ one has to conclude that either the second definition is somehow wrong or ‘there never was Roman state (numquam fuit Romana res publica)’ (19.21; also 2.21).³⁰ Eventually, Augustine is neither an ontological nor a political nihilist and therefore the first option is preferred. Justice is removed from the propositional picture³¹ and the definition of populus is later emended as follows: “a ‘people’ is an assembled multitude of rational creatures bound to-

 For cities are “worlds of strangers”, where every human and non-human service “is there to serve strangers”, see Lofland 1973; also Massey 2005.  Only Christian rulers can “rule justly”: see the brief mirror for (Christian) princes in Civ. 5.24. Yet this briefly sketched Christian political justice is no condition for political order, since the government can perfectly work without and “vicious communities can function … well as organized societies” (O’ Donovan 1987, 103). For Augustine, there is no alignment of moral and political order outside the eschatological realm of the city of God as res publica “whose founder and ruler is Christ” (Civ. 2.21).  For the complex interplay of book 2 and 19 in the presentation of this argument, see O’ Donovan 1987, 90 – 96.  For the less conspicuous, though equally important, removal of “common utility”, see O’ Donovan 1987, 97– 99.


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gether by a common agreement as to the object of their love” (… rerum quas diligit concordi communione sociatus, Civ. 19.24). This “value-free”³² (O’ Donovan 1987, 97) alternative definition avoids absurdity. For, on the one hand, the identity of the supreme matter of concern affects only the quality of the people and not its reality: evil people’s territorial polities are state nevertheless. On the other hand, when the disagreement of what is ultimately desirable as social good is such that it undermines the common concern of security and orderly social intercourses – that which Augustine calls the “earthly peace” (Civ. 19.17) – then the res publica is torn apart and the populus breaks down into parties fighting each other in civil war: the “stateness” (Scott 2017, 23) of a state only vanishes when the social bond is severely damaged or lost. This second definition indirectly relaxes the conditions required for statehood and thereby rescues the political reality of both earliest and current states. On the contrary, the following quote shows how irrelevant the spatial reality of territorial polities still remains: It must be understood, however, that what I have said of the Roman people and state (de isto populo et de ista re publica) I also say and think of the Athenians and any other Greeks, of the Egyptians, of the ancient Babylon of the Assyrians, and of every other nation, great or small, which has exercised its sway over states (quando in rebus publicis suis imperia vel parva vel magna tenuerunt). For the city of the ungodly (civitas impiorum), considered generally, does not obey God’s command that sacrifice should be offered to none save Him alone. Thus, because the soul cannot in that case rightly and faithfully govern the body, nor the reason the vices, there can be no true justice in that city. Civ. 19.24 (transl. Dyson 1998; slightly modified)

Although lexicographical surveys have made sure that terms like res publica, populus, societas, regnum, urbs/civitas are not equivalent (del Estal and Rosado 1954, 420; Marshall 1952, 4), no qualitative difference associated with the diverse territorialities of the small-, medium-, and large-scale polities is felt significant to understand them. Questions as to how and to what extent the classical imperialist statelet of the Athenians differs from the post-classical dominated city of Athens in such things like order-maintenance policies and management of human diversity remain unexplored. Admittedly, there is only one passage in the book 19 where Augustine recognizes that, beyond the level of the “civitas vel urbs”, there is at least an annoying linguistic leap that impinges on the sociality of people:

 For some scholars even “positivistic” (Markus 1970, 65) or “political realist[ic]” (Weithman 2001, 244).

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After the city or town comes the world, which the philosophers identify, as the third level of human society. They begin with the household, progress to the city, and come finally to the world. And the world, like a gathering of waters, is all the more full of perils by reason of its greater size. First of all, the diversity of tongues now divides man from man (linguarum diversitas hominem alienat ab homine). For if two men, each ignorant of the other’s language, meet, and are compelled by some necessity, not to pass on but to remain with one another, it is easier for dumb animals, even of different kinds, to associate together (sociantur) than these men, even though both are human beings. For when men cannot communicate their thoughts to each other, they are completely unable to associate with one another despite the similarity of their natures (nihil prodest ad consociandos homines tanta similitudo naturae); and this is simply because of the diversity of tongues. (Civ. 19.7)

Fully “ignorant of the other’s language”, two human beings meeting up at the level of the “world” (orbis) as the highest spatial scale are communicatively and thereby socially separated from one another in a way that, continues Augustine, only the military spread of the imperial language could amend at the cost of wars, slaughters, and bloodshed (Civ. 19.7). What the overall linguistic cohesion of the city of Hippo may offer to its Latin-speaking citizens is a “politics of the encounter” (Merrifield 2013) for which the outer world, that is, the world that for Augustine starts with the Punic-speaking countrymen of his diocese,³³ provides no shared code. Nonetheless, Augustine does not pause to think that such failed encounters do happen in cities which are simply other than one’s own. Nor does the argument lead him to assume that that daily urban encounters among city-dwellers can well produce situations of deep “estrangement” (… hominem alienat ab homine) that have nothing to do with the language. After all, the city as a spatial formation still remains out of the spotlight. To summarize briefly: it was not my intent to survey once more the bundle of reasons (cognitive, semantic, scriptural, discursive-argumentative, etc.) why, despite this lack of concern for the urban, Augustine entitled his magmum opus “De civitate Dei” rather than “De re publica Dei” or “De regno Dei”, thereby employing the term civitas much more often than res publica or regnum (van Oort 1991, 106). Nor is my purpose to appeal to his preferred non-Christian and Christian sources in order to account for his almost undifferentiated spatial treatment of different social and political formations (van Oort 1991, 199 – 359) – such a comparative research would be too wide an issue to be tackled in this paper. Lastly, the pos-

 In the City of God Augustine never thematizes the city/country divide as a linguistic barrier. For his difficulties with the “Punic” of the countrymen of his diocese, see Letters 84.2 and 209.2– 3. For the issue of rural vernacular and the geographical areas of city/country bilingualism, see Robinson 2017, 107– 121


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sible extra-textual motivations for this block of urban geographical imagination are not discussed at length either.³⁴ I confine myself to the following argument: while unfolding a somewhat conventional, partly even “truistic” (Brown 1967, 287), theological-political trope throughout the ages – even if in an unprecedentedly erudite and far-reaching way –, in the City of God Augustine acts as a systematic leveler of spatial forms. He shows no actual concern for the distinctive properties of city-spaces as determining the specific characters of city life.

2.3 The body as ‘absolute place’ in the City of God Before moving to the second part of this paper, I will shortly dwell on the City of God’s paramount spatiality, which is neither the city nor the world but the body. I am not gesturing here at the links between “body” and “city”, which, through the Donatist Tyconius’ image of the Church as corpus bipertitum, traces back to the Greek and Roman analogy of the state and the human (O’ Daly 1999, 63). I rather refer to human and non-human bodies as significant spaces per se, that is, in their aerial (demons), earthly (humans), and eschatological (resurrected beings altogether) realities. Somehow endorsing Henri Lefebvre’s argument that “the genesis of a far-away order can be accounted for only on the basis of the order that is nearest to us, namely the order of the body” (Lefebvre 1991 [1974], 405), Augustine displays a painstaking physiology of doom and salvation by arranging human membership in the heavenly city according to three bodily stages and states: before the incarnation of Christ, after Jesus in historical time, after Jesus in eschatological time. Several long excursions (Civ. 5.2– 6; 16. 8 – 9; 21.2– 10; 22.4– 5 and 10 – 22) and a whole book (13) are dedicated to the scrutiny of ordinary and freaky bodily constitutions of human beings, as well as of their physical-behavioral constraints and possibilities under different environmental conditions. (nor are demons exempted: Civ. 8.14– 16). The history of the two cit On the one hand, for his contemporary Catholic reader, some more instructions about how to navigate the topographical illegibility of the heavenly city may well have been of help in order to account for its preeminent realization and telescopic overlap with the historical-empirical Catholic church (for the lexical alignment see the related table in Marshall 1952, 38). On the other, considering the neatly bordered and spatialized ecclesiology of the Donatists, the emphasis on the commingling of the two cities in saeculo prevents Augustine from conceiving a similar mapping of the contemporary heavenly city-space. Tapping into a commonplace imagery of spiritual distinction, the bishop-writer wants his people to be content with the existence of their blissful commonwealth without snooping too much around its territory to chart its borders: “he could try to win over his Donatist opponents through a shared view”(van Oort 1991, 275 with reference to Contra epistulam Parmeniani 2.4.9).

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ies, which starts with the ‘absolute space’ (Lefebvre 1991, 48)³⁵ of Cain’s sacrificial offering and his criminal reaction to the divine rejection (Civ. XV 5 and 7), parallels the story of the body as ‘absolute place’ (Foucault 2006, 229):³⁶ since the eye-opening of the newborn to the resurrection date and even after (Civ. 22.21), heavenly citizens cannot move without some kind of body. They are condemned to such mutable sites of possibilities without other recourse possible than God’s artistic grace (Civ. 22.20).

3 Urban religion in the City of God 3.1 The challenge of an “urban religious approach” to the City of God The challenge for the second part of this paper is to demonstrate that a text showing such a lack of interest in urban spatiality can nevertheless be of interest for a study on urban religion. Allegedly, Augustine embarked on the project of the City of God to contrast the vengeful theodicy of some people of traditional polytheistic background (Retract. 2.69) who, in the aftermath of the sack of Rome, blamed imperial Christianity as a powerless established/state religion. Augustine’s main preoccupation is therefore the shock resilience, the emotional, social and political upkeep, and the endurance of the state-patronized Catholic Christianity. For this very reason, he gives battle for unveiling, debunking, and thus severing the false from the “true religion (vera religio)” (Civ. 4.1; 7.33 and 35; 8.17; 10.3; etc.) in a combat whose critical move is to conceptually neutralize the so-called “immanentist” political assumption of past and present religions: “the purpose of religion is to access supernatural power for the flourishing of existence in the here and now” (Strathern 2019, 36).³⁷ By making religious truth independent from the mutable fate of mundane institutions, Augustine strives to

 “Absolute space was made up of fragments of nature located at sites which were chosen for their intrinsic qualities (cave, mountaintop, spring, river), but whose very consecration ended up by stripping them of their natural characteristics and uniqueness” (Lefebvre 1991, 48).  “The only thing is this: I cannot move without it. I cannot leave there where it is, so that I, myself, may go elsewhere. […]. It is here, irreparably: it is never elsewhere. My body, it’s the opposite of a utopia: that which is never under different skies. It is the absolute place, the little fragment of space where I am, literally, embodied. My body, pitiless place” (Foucault 2006, 229).  Without forgoing recommending to establish the machinery of the state upon both the rulers’ conformity with and a wider consensus on the “true religion”: see Ver. rel. 31.58 and Ep. 137.17, respectively.


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safeguard what we could call the Catholic Christians’ “religious right to the city”,³⁸ that is, to ensure that the Catholic Church will preserve the right to monopolize the management over the urban production and consumption of religious goods and services, no matter the adversities suffered by the citizenry. Topologically speaking, the result of this confrontational agenda are distinct sets of religious phenomena crystallizing along clearly demarcated borders. On the one side, the “pagan” camp, we find publicly financed polytheistic religions and sets of gods, sacrifices, religiously laden shows, mythological materials, demonology, and tons of philosophically mediated bookish knowledge on religion.³⁹ On the other side, the Christian-Catholic front, we have episcopal government of churches, “spiritual” liturgies, martyrs and cult relics, angelology, and tons of biblically based bookish knowledge about religion. If the two mystic cities are not spatially mappable in the saeculum until the end of the world, the two fronts must be religiously legible. “Membership of the two cities is mutually exclusive, and there can be no possible overlap” (Markus 1970, 60).⁴⁰ Augustine’s agenda, however, is not mine. While examining his battlefield map, my task is not to stress and restate the dividing line among the two religious camps. Rather, my aim is to recognize some scattered emblems of a shared matrix of religious phenomena that crosscuts the field because – and this is the important difference – said phenomena are to be seen as city-specific rather than inherent to specific religions. This matrix is called “urban religion” (Ruepke 2020). It is not my task here either to define or theorize about the pivotal category of a brand new, cross-disciplinary and –temporal program of research that sets out to survey the millennia to track down the ongoing co-constitution of religion

 For the concept see Lefebvre 1968. For a critical examination, see Attoh 2011. I follow the collective interpretation of this right proposed by Harvey 2008.  Peter Brown has observed that “the City of God contains hardly any reference to those contemporary forms of pagan worship and feeling that interest modern scholars of late paganism – the mystery-cults, the Oriental religions, Mithraism. It seems as if Augustine were demolishing a paganism that existed only in libraries. […]. In this, the City of God reflects faithfully the most significant trend in the paganism of the early fifth century” (Brown 1967, 305). In fact, however accurately the “paganism” of the late antique antiquarians may have mirrored a vintage religious landscape out there, the City of God is mostly unconcerned with what Heidi Wendt (2016) has called the “religion of freelance experts” – a formula that refreshes and rearranges extensive bits of views and lexica of non-civic/traditional cults, including early Christ religion. Wendt’s book focuses on the first two centuries CE as the epoch when these “self-authorized experts” (Wendt 2016, 39) actually gained momentum.  For Augustine’s groupism in general, see Rebillard 2012, 61– 91.

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and urbanity.⁴¹ I limit myself to saying that something like an urban religion could not be singled out without two conditions being fulfilled: (a) assuming space as condition, medium, and outcome (Lefebvre 1991; Soja 1989) of communication practices deemed religious; (b) taking the city as a ‘genuinely distinct form of sociation (Löw 2012) that both enables and constrains religiously motivated actions by producing recognizable, and sometimes durable, effects on religion. In order for an urban religion to surface, the urban spatial organization should make a recognizable difference to how religion functions and changes. Evidently, I move from the assumption that the City of God itself is the quintessential product of an urban religion. First, authored by a city-based religious authority, the City of God would not have been conceived, written, published, and spread without the material support of the urban educational institutions, social networks, and media industry. Second, Augustine’s main targets are some equally textualized and/or historicized versions of religion (philosophical and antiquarian) that relied on the same material and symbolic infrastructures upon which his big book draws. Third, the writing of the City of God must be contextualized among a broader set of actions taken by religious specialists and practitioners in order to claim, contest, and patrol urban spaces vis-à-vis intraand inter-religious competitors (Lander 2016). Therefore, the next question is: do the textual material contained in this full-fledged urban religious literary product provide further insights into urban religion out there? I will focus on three examples: cult relics, polytheism, and spectacles.

3.2 Hampering the fame, spreading the voice: miracles, cult relics, and urban religion To start elucidating the first point, I resort to an example taken from the last book of the City of God. By assembling a series of twenty individual instances (Civ. 22.8), Augustine wants to demonstrate that miracles, which had lent credibility to Christ religion in the earliest times of the Jesus movement, have not ceased to happen, even though they are less widely known than those appearing in the canonized scripts. Then he pinpoints the role that the location of the occurrences plays in the little fame and scarce publicity of contemporary miracles:  See the Introduction to this volume. For the study of Mediterranean antiquity, see Urciuoli and Rüpke 2018. Urban Religion, therefore, designates both a research subject (i. e., a spatially specific and contingent constellation of religious phenomena), an analytical instrument (i.e., the scholarly lenses that permit to point out a religion that happens to be urban) and a research program.


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Moreover, miracles are being wrought even now, in Christ’s name, either by his sacrament, or by the prayers or relics of his saints; by these are not distinguished by that brilliance (eadem claritate) which would cause them to be proclaimed with a glory like that attaching to the miracles of the past. For the canon of the Holy Scripture, which it behoved the Church to define, causes the latter to be recited everywhere, and so to dwell in the memory of all peoples. More recent miracles, however, wherever they occur, are scarcely known to all the people of the city, or even to the whole district, in which they are performed. For the most part, they are known only to a very few persons, and all the rest are ignorant of them, especially when the city in which they are wrought is a large one (maxime si magna sit civitas). (Civ. 22.8)

After all, Augustine’s argument is one of epidemiology of beliefs (Sperber 1996). He establishes a clear correlation between the spread of the faith in a miraculous event and the spatial setting of its occurrence. He points at something that we, as modern urbanites experiencing a technological eve of hyper-connectivity and synchronicity, might have some difficulty in figuring out: the bigger the city, the harder and the more problematic the conveyance of information. The sheer size of a city-space – an issue which is never explicitly thought over by Augustine, as I have shown above – may well produce dispersion and segmentation and thus jeopardize the fame of a genuine divine portent by confining its knowledge to a neighborhood-scale diffusion at best (quocumque commanentium loco). On the contrary, regularly reproduced through diffused religious infrastructures, scheduled liturgies, and canonization, the miracle items of the gospel narratives have been safely stocked in the long-term semantic memory of all believers (et memoriae cunctorum inhaere populorum; Whitehouse 2004; Czachesz 2017, 62– 87). However, a different arrangement of the urban pixels may well produce the opposite effect, namely, an extraordinary broadcasting success of a contemporary urban wonder. This is the case of a miracle happened in Milan at the time when Augustine was dwelling there: A miracle which took place at Milan while I was there, when a blind man was restored to sight, was able to become known to many because Milan is a great city (quia et grandis est civitas) and because the emperor was there at that time, Also an immense crowd had gathered to see the bodies of the martyrs Protasius and Gervasius – bodies which had been lost, and of which nothing was known until their whereabouts was revealed to bishop Ambrose in a dream – and the miracle was witnessed by all those people. It was thee that the darkness in which the blind man had lived so long was dispelled, and he saw the light of the day. (Civ. 22.8)

When performing at their best, cities are “the most effective way to transfer knowledge”, since “urban proximity reduce the curse of communication com-

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plexity”⁴² (Glaezer 2011, 24). In this case, a big city like Milan can bring about the successful spread of a miracle (multorum notitiam potuit pervenire) by at once filtering and channeling the mob during the translation of the relics into a newly built basilica (the Basilica Martyrum later renamed Sant’Ambrogio),⁴³ accommodating the media apparatuses of the struggling authorities (the Arian-supporting imperial court and the Catholic bishop), and providing a vast and extremely concentrated audience for the spectacular display of holy power (inmenso populo teste).⁴⁴ The distinctively urban arrangement and synergetic action of a set of elements, notably (1) a principle of spatial organization (density; Löw 2012, 306), (2) a built environment (streets conducive to religious architecture), (3) a physically constrained and topographically oriented mass mobility (procession), and (4) the presence of the main governmental actors (public powers), leads to the production of an “urban miracle” that helps speed up a mass cult of relics.⁴⁵ As Augustine shows in another report of a multiple miracle, in medium-sized cities like Hippo the word of mouth can be so effective that, “wherever they went”, the healed persons “turned the gaze of the whole city on them (convertebant in se civitatis aspectum)”, thus gathering throngs of people in the right place at the right time (Civ. 22.8). To be clear, there is nothing specifically urban in miracle beliefs. Nor, as Peter Brown as shown, is the boundary-crossing topology of the cult of the saints simply urban (Brown 1981). Yet in all these three cases we can detect modalities to experience and practice religion, as well as to convey knowledge about it, that strictly depend on some urban socio-spatial constraints and possibilities for their rise, outcome, and change. Moreover, the description of the first episode clearly shows Augustine’s awareness of the material effectiveness of city-spaces in the domain of religion. However, as said before, urban religion is too a promiscuous object and perspective for being confined to the Christian front. Augustine targets at least other two potential foci of an urban-religious approach which are neither Christian nor paradigmatically late antique. I refer to his extensive critique of polytheism and theatrical spectacles. In both cases, but especially when it comes to the spectacles, Augustine’s lines of argument do not necessarily make things easier. Never-

 That is, “the fact that the possibility of a garbled message increases with the amount of information that is being transferred” (Glaeser 2011, 24).  That the miracle happened during the transportation is made clear in Conf. 9.7; also Ambrose, Ep. 22. The same episode is told also in Augustine, Serm. 286.5.  See also Conf. 9.7 (“inde fama discurrens”).  In Ambrose’s longest account, the religious competitors, the Arians, react to the large success of the miracle by denouncing its counterfeit character: see Ambrose, Ep. 22.17– 23


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theless, some selected passages can be used to advocate a perspective on ancient Mediterranean religions that, among other things, highlights and gauges the impact of urbanism on religion.

3.3 Allotting the space: polytheism and urban religion Greek and Roman polytheistic cosmologies were intellectually designed, sociopolitically enforced, and also architecturally instantiated in manifold manners that research has preferably interpreted as structured arrangements of relations among gods as individualized, coexisting, and mutually delimitated active powers (Versnel 2011, 23 – 36). Thinking spatially, they also served the crucial function of ordering and organizing space by placing gods, that is, by fixing them to specific places. By prioritizing topographical concerns over ontological questions, one of the principal functions of the cult epithet system might have been precisely to territorialize the deities via individuation of specific cult sites (Parker 2003). From the spatially informed perspective of urban religion, polytheisms and sets of gods, like other forms of religion in cities, stand out first and foremost as key practices for urban societies insofar as they contribute to “craft place by relating people and space, disrupting continuous space, and selectively appropriating space”. The wider, denser, and the more heterogeneous the space, the more critical the “service” provided by these religious formations for the upkeeping of large-scale nucleated societies (Rüpke 2020, 86).⁴⁶ By the same token, cities and the related functional differentiation of urban architecture are critical to the understanding of ancient Mediterranean polytheisms: when sanctuaries are scattered all over in sparsely populated areas, or when worshipping places are not recognizable as such and look all like clustered houses, then the very structure of polytheism lacks visibility and clarity. Augustine’s critique of Roman polytheism has many facets, including a spatial one. In the fourth book of the City of God, within a larger section dedicated to several stated absurdities of pantheistic positions, we come across a ridiculing rendition of polytheism as system for allotting divine urban abodes (Civ. 4.23).

 Albeit critical towards both the methodology and the arguments of the book (see Rüpke 2014), Rüpke does not question “the problem” identified by Ara Norenzayan’s evolutionary narrative on Big Gods, that is, whether specific forms of religious beliefs and practices have “ratchet[ed] up large-scale cooperation in a runaway process of cultural evolution”. (Norenzayan 2013, 8; see Rüpke 2020, 77). He rather aims to historically reassess it via a cross-disciplinary and -temporal approach focused on the context-dependent interplay of different types of agencies, all of which are engaged in religiously coping with urban spaces.

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According to Augustine’s hierarchical view, the theo-logically soundest method of spatial distribution of the gods would be to assign to the greatest divinities the best places, the most revered divine companies, and greatest and most sublimes temples. It is at this point that he picks on the very spatial cradle of Roman religion on the Capitoline hill. By retelling the legendary story of the construction of the great temple of Jupiter, he shows how and to what extent preexisting states of affairs in the “perceived space” of the selected site have interfered with the “conceived space” (Lefebvre 1991, 38 – 39)⁴⁷ of a consistently hierarchical polytheist planning, thus troubling the plans of the most powerful urban actor: As the written records of the Romans show,⁴⁸ when Tarquin the king wished to build the Capitol and found that the place which seemed most worthy and appropriate was already occupied by other gods, he did not presume to do anything against their will. He believed, however, that that they would willingly yield to so great a deity, who was also their prince. Thus, because there were so many of them where the Capitol was built, he asked them all by augury whether they were prepared to grant the place (concedere locum) to Jupiter. All were willing to give precedence to him apart from those whom I have named: Mars, Terminus and Juventas. It was for this reason that the Capitol was constructed in such a way that these three might also be within it, but with the signs of their presence so well concealed that even the most learned men could hardly know this (Civ. 4.23)

This text lays bare the city as a stratified palimpsest of finite size, upon which a “multiplicity of histories that is the spatial” (Massey 2000, 231) have left material footprints that may well hamper an ideal logic of planning. However, this is not the only passage where Augustine mocks the way the Romans have allocated their gods within their city. A few chapters above, Augustine was “marvel[ing] at the fact” that, contrary to many other deities specialized in less crucial functions, the goddess Quies received no “public worship” (publica sacra) and her abode was established outside the porta Collina. His sarcastic explanation is aligned with a general argument of refutation of Roman polytheism: where legions of demons rule, no quiet is actually possible for individuals as well as for cities (Civ. 4.16). In general, by looking at the extent to which the “balkanization” of the pagan brain (Veyne 1988, 41) maps onto the compartmentalization of the divine reality (Civ. 4.11), Augustine sets out to show that such a chaotically

 In Soja’s term: “Firstspace” and “Secondspace” (Soja 1996, 74– 82). In Lefebvre’s view, the conceived space, as dominant space of any society insofar it is the space planned by the dominants of all societies, turns into “abstract space” when the homogenizing spatiality of capitalism begins to paper over the whole world. See Lefebvre 1991, 49 – 53; 285 – 292; etc.  See Livy 1.55.4 (only Terminus); Livy 1.54.7 and Dionysius of Halicarnassus 3.69.5 (Terminus and Juventas). Mars is never mentioned in this context by extant Greek and Roman sources.


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departmentalized mass of gods cannot claim any credit for the foundation, expansion, and defense of the city of Rome and its empire: “For each of these deities was so busy with his own duties that no one thing was ascribed as a whole to any of them (ut nihil universum uni alicui crederetur)” (Civ. 4.8). It is noteworthy that Augustine’s faith-based polemic against the moral laxity and normative deficiency (Civ. 2.4– 16) of Roman religion partly resonates with the value-free criticism voiced by many reviewers of psychologist Ara Norenzayan’s Big Gods thesis (Norenzayan 2013). The argument of a supernatural moral monitoring is mostly inapplicable to the case of Roman religion. Therefore, failing to account for the internal cohesiveness of a metropolis like the pagan Rome and the scaling up of its multi-cultural empire, the religious control exerted by sharp-eyed moralizing deities can hardly be seen as a universal prime driver for the rise of large-scale cooperative communities beyond the stage of face-to-face groups (Thomassen 2014, 671– 672; Martin 2014, 631; Rüpke 2014, 647). In Augustine’s own terms, how could such a morally unconcerned surveillance and strictly departmental monitoring of human practices, whereby no overall supervision can be outsourced to any particularly watchful god, have succeeded in bounding individuals together in a society led by a megacity and rapidly outcompeting all the others? Alternative explanations must be sought after (see Civ. 5.12– 22). Contrary to both Norenzayan’s Big Gods religion and Augustine’s vera religio, urban religion is not meant to account for the competitive advantage of some religions and societies over others. Nor does it call for whatever kind of superiority of city-based religious practices over religious traditions which are documented in rather rural, desert or wild areas, and/or contain supposedly rural characters, and/or are said to be elicited by “natural” factors – like meteorological phenomena and agricultural risks underpinning fundamental forms of polytheism. Following up Augustine’s description of how the workings of the pantheon ideally resembles the workings of a city workshop or a silversmiths’ neighborhood (Civ. 7.4),⁴⁹ urban religion should rather delve into this analogy to better illuminate and historicize the nexus between the city’s and the gods’ division of labor, that is, roughly, between polytheism, on the one hand, and the triad of urbani-

 “Certainly, we laugh when we see assigned to them the duties which are distributed among them according to the fancies of human opinion. They are like those who collect small portions of public revenues, or like workmen in the street of silversmiths, where one vessel passes through the hands of many craftsmen before it emerges perfect, although it could have been perfected by one perfect craftsman. But many craftsmen are employed in this way only because it is thought better for each part of an art to be learned by a single workman quickly and easily, so that all are not be compelled to acquire the whole art slowly and with difficulty” (Civ. 7.4).

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zation, urbanism, and urbanity, and the other. Eventually, the main purpose is to provide a new heuristic pattern for locating and accounting for religious phenomena which are hardly explainable with the alternative between de-territorialized “cults” and territorialized “polis religions’”.⁵⁰ For example, the ludi.

3.4 “Theatrum vero ubi est nisi in urbe?”: spectacles and urban religion Religion as a component of the “spectacular machinery” (spectaculorum paratura: Tertullian, The shows 4.3) of theatres, amphitheatres, and circuses is an excellent test-case for an urban religious approach. In fact, religious communication via mass spectacles is neither fully civic nor cultic. On the one hand, although these urban settings for mass entertainment were normally built, arranged, and orchestrated by individual members of the central and local elites as “spatial forms work[ing] to mark and reinforce social hierarchies” (Maier 2017, 266; also Gunderson 1996, 123 – 126), they could nevertheless harbor, and even encourage, practices that resisted and violated hegemonic expressions of emotions, meanings, and values – that is, the ordinary means whereby the elites attempt to control and capitalize on the shows. On the other hand, despite Rodney Stark’s influential reassessment of Christian martyrdom as a successful strategy of attraction for the cultural transmission of Christ religion (Stark 1996, 163 – 190),⁵¹ the ways religious representations, practices, and experiences were spatialized in such venues do not fit the traditional scholarly account of the kinds of avenues that a so-called cult religion most frequently and ordinarily used to win followers (Gasparini 2018) In his old age an overt sympathizer of Plato’s prohibitionist approach (Civ. 2.14), the incisive insights and significant changes in Augustine’s attitude to spectacula (shows, races, games) and spectators throughout his work have now been thoroughly investigated (Lugaresi 2008, 535 – 694; Hugoniot 1992; Markus 1990, 110 – 123; Weismann 1972, 123 – 195). Yet, as far as an urban religious

 Thus duly spatializing the “Lived Ancient Religion” agenda: see Rüpke 2012; Albrecht et al 2018.  Stark’s influential book on The Rise of Christianity dates back to 1996. Therefore, it sets out the argument without building on the most recent cognitive-experimental studies on the honestsignaling attractiveness and the pro-social consequences of the “martyrdom effect” (for the concept, see Olivola and Shafir 2013; for an overview of the Cognitive Science of Religion on this topic, see Czachesz 2017, 19). Stark eminently – and less conclusively (see already Blasi 1997) – relied on the “rational choice theory”.


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approach to the ecology and the infrastructure of spectacles is concerned, the City of God proves to be of very little help. Simply put, this work offers almost nothing for a viable theory of spectacle as an urban religious phenomenon. It supplies nothing comparable to the earlier phenomenology of the spectacles as social and economic machinery perfectly nested in the city fabric, which Augustine displayed in the De catechizandis rudibus (Catech. 16.25; see Lugaresi 2008, 619 – 621). Nor, “intoxicat[ion]” of the urban follies aside (Civ. 1.32), does the City of God replicate the detailed analysis of the “teletropic” (Smail 2008, 170 – 174) force of theatrical fictions as brilliantly conducted in the third book of the Confessions (Conf. 3.2; see Lugaresi 2008, 549 – 555).⁵² This is no fortuitous elision. To a great extent, the agenda of the City of God on this issue eventually stands in the way of a theo-logical and religious-moral critique of the ludi as a specifically urban phenomenon. In the second book of his work, Augustine indulges in a long tirade against Greek and Roman spectacles (Civ. 2.8 – 14). Targeting principally at Roman practices, he points out a major contradiction between the Roman religious and legal approach to theatrical amusements. On the one hand, stage performances in honor of the gods are said to have been established “by the authority of the pontiffs” at a divine “command” (Civ. 2.8 and 1.32) and there are no restrictions on the shameful ways in which divine behaviors can be represented on the stage. On the other, actors performing such honors are not only prevented from stigmatizing citizens on the scene (Civ. 2.9 and 12) but legally treated as infamous, secondclass citizens and thus deprived of “civil rights” – being at once barred from any post of honor and removed from censors’ lists (Civ. 2.13). Outlined again in the fourth book (Civ. 4.26), Augustine’s provocative call for a Roman-pagan consistency towards spectacles climaxes in the sixth book in the midst of his handto-hand combat with Marcus Varro’s Antiquitates rerum divinarum. Augustine’s argument boils down to a “take it or leave it” proposition: either Christianity or the pagan theatrical takeover of religion. Tertium non datur. Despite Varro’s intellectual efforts, there is no such a thing as a non-theatrical “civic theology” that can be cordoned off from histrionism: But where is the theatre, if not in the urbs? Who established the theatre, if not the civitas? (Theatrum vero ubi est nisi in urbe? Quis theatrum instituit nisi civitas). For what purpose was it established, if not for the theatrical plays? And where do such theatrical performances

 As Daniel Lord Smail put it, “teletropic,” is “a category of psychotropy embracing the various devices used in human societies to create mood changes in other people – across space, as it were (hence ‘tele’)” (Smail 2008, 170).

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belong if not among the divine things which Varro describes with such skill in his books? (Civ. 6.5; transl. Dyson 1998; slightly modified)

One of the main lines of attack that Augustine adopts to tear down the edifice of the so-called Varronian “theologia tripertita” (mythicon – physicon – civile)⁵³ is to show that the mythical and the civic theology are like conjoined twins (Civ. 6.7– 10) and thus Varro’s differentiation between them is eventually confusing and self-delusive.⁵⁴ Rather, it is more reasonable to think in terms of a unique, both urban (urbana) and theatrical (theatrica), civic (civilis) theology,⁵⁵ with the two departments feeding on each other and often sharing the same calendar (Civ. 6.7– 8).⁵⁶ Augustine’s reasoning sounds cogent. The theater is an institution of the city (civitas) perfectly nested in the urban space (urbs). The city political leaders (principes civitatis; see Civ. 4.27) mostly overlap with the affluent citizens who patronize the artists and finance the amusements. The highest-ranking priestly personal who has long managed the public city cults belongs to the same institution that is said to have originally established the shows. Moreover, the institutional-managerial contiguity presupposes a deeper gnoseological kinship: Augustine insinuates that there would be no consistent divine cult-imagery, which could sustain “the whole of norms and practices of public and private cult […] thought necessary […] by the leading class for the correct cult of the god” (Rüpke 2005, 109), without the representations of the gods that have been constantly forged and shaped by the stage plays (Civ. 6.7). To borrow a famous image from Walter Benjamin, the anthropomorphic and licentious “hunchbacked dwarf” of the theatrical theology guides the more reputable  “Next, what does he mean when he says that there are three kinds of theology (tria genera theologiae), that is, of accounts given of the gods? Of these, he calls one mythical, another physical, and the third civic” (Civ. 6.5; transl. slightly modified). For an influential genealogy of this concept, see Lieberg 1982; for a critical reassessment focused on the pragmatics of the theory, see Rüpke 2005.  “For the civic and the mythical (et civilis et fabulosa) theologies are both civic and both mythical” (Civ. 6.8; transl. slightly modified).  “I think that we have now sufficiently shown, […], that the theology of the city and of the theatre both belong to the one civic theology (… et urbanam et theatricam theologian ad unam civilem pertinere satis)” (Civ. 6.9; transl. slightly modified).  Scholarly technical notions like “cultic theatres and ritual dramas” (Nielsen 2002; see Gasparini 2013 and 2018) have blurred the boundaries between rituals and dramas, thus somehow backing up Augustine’s argument. Note that, concerning the topographical proximity and the functional overlapping of the theatre and the temple of Isis in Pompeii, Gasparini uses almost the same words of Augustine’s more general argument: “the theatre was a functional appendix” of the temple (Gasparini 2013, 192); “huius urbanae theologiae […] illam theatricam […] membrum et partem fecerunt” (Augustine, Civ. 6.9).


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“puppet” of the civic theology by means of its representational strings. The statetheology of the priests and the Roman ruling class has “enlist[ed] the services” (Benjamin 1969, 253) of the stage-theology of people as disreputable as actors and mimes. Evidently, Augustine is too caught up in his argument about the de facto identity of “civic theology” and “theatrical theology” to dwell upon his repeated use of “urbana” as something ultimately different from, and more specific than, Varro’s civilis (“urbanae theologiae”; “urbanam et theatricam theologiam”). Nor does his polemical agenda invite him to unpack the first two sentences of the passage cited above (“Theatrum vero ubi est nisi in urbe? Quis theatrum instituit nisi civitas?”) and then embark on a reflection on spectacles that would fit well in the explanatory framework of urban religion. Theatres, Augustine says, exist only “in urbe”: “ubi urbs et ibi theatrum” (Lugaresi 2008, 643). Therefore, once may add, religion as taking place in these urban settings is not adequately illuminated either by a focus on public rituals (that is, approximately via our re-descriptive category of “civic religion”) or by a more comprehensive approach on ritual rules, designated religious professionals, and politically entitled supervisors and patrons (that is, roughly according to Varro’s re-descriptive notion of theologia civilis). The establishment and upkeep of theatres by the city political leaders, as well as their management by specific groups of priests, does not tell the whole truth about their use by city-dwellers. Like most religious phenomena when investigated from the bottom-up and consumer-focused perspective of “appropriation” (Raja and Rüpke 2015), religion in mass spectacles, too, can hardly be explained away as one of the elites’ assorted attempts to monopolize both religious and urban systems of meanings by imposing “cosmetically conspicuous but functionally identical” ways of calling the gods into play (Martin 2014, 50). This would be only possible by systematically ignoring the spatial characteristics. On the one hand, as archeologists have shown for some “theatre-cum-temple” architectural and ritual compounds, the theatricalization of a cult can be situationally connected to, and eventually emphasized by, the physical proximity of a theatre in a dense urban district (Gasparini 2013 and 2018). On the other hand, there is good evidence that the religion staged in city spectacles and the religion administered by traditional city-based authorities can be formally and functionally very far apart. The most obvious and best documented case are the spectacular/ized performances of some Christ-believers in early Christian martyrdom literature. In this sense – moving from theatrical to amphi-theatrical settings – Augustine’s scattered treatment of Christian martyrdom in the City of God is telling. Since the earliest instances of martyrdom literature, the urban space of the arena has been the “textual amphitheatre” (Maier 2017, 257) where the spatial re-

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ality of the material venues has been cosmically augmented, a combating counterculture been staged, and alternative “counterscripts” (Castelli 2004, 122) of the actual events been laid out. Yet in the City of God there is no trace of this confrontational shaping of space. In no case are Augustine’s martyrs the visual epicenters of vivid narratives through which power-filled spatial relationships and practices are questioned and reversed. The nexus between martyrdom and urbanism is never touched upon, neither as a historical phenomenon and literary plot that urban spaces sequence from the setting of the interrogation to that of the penalty, nor as a sensational spectacle in extraordinary situations of coercive visibility that only cities can provide.⁵⁷ After all, although it hints at some urban determinants for the cult of the martyrs, the City of God is not the kind of work that facilitates the study of martyrdom as an element of urban religion.

4 Conclusion: the sabbatical civitas Dei as a “non-city”? It is hardly possible to write a paper on the city-spaces and city life in the City of God without concluding it where the book ends, that is, in the transfigured cosmos of the final separation of the two cities. Some pages above, I briefly touched on Augustine’s statement that, “when it is condemned to the punishment which is its end”, the earthly city “will no longer be a city (neque enim … iam civitas erit)” (Civ. 15.4). The earthly city’s principle of unity, namely, the search for temporal peace via “a kind of cooperation of human wills” such as to attain life-sustaining goods (Civ. 19.17), will be deactivated once the final judgment has been issued. What the “city of the devil” (Civ. 21.1) as a post-city will ontologically be is not further elucidated. Its elusive spatiality will presumably melt into the even less legible spatial order of the “new heaven and new earth” (Civ. 20.16;

 The two spatialities to which living and suffering martyrs are connected are the world (i. e., imperial) surface and Israel. The first is the “smooth space” (Meyer, Rau and Waldner 2017) filled with the increasing number of the martyrs and dotted with a blood which acts as seed of faith (Civ. 5.14; 10.21 and 32; 18.50; 22.6 and 7); the second is the national space that mothered the first heroes of faith (after Christ: Civ. 17.7; before Christ: CIV. 18.36). The spatiality to which dead martyrs are related is the heavenly abode that their souls temporarily share with God (Civ. 20.9). The only urban space that Augustine’s martyrology plays out is that of the memoriae of the saints, namely, the urban and suburban sites where the martyrs’ bodily remains are offered to mass veneration and procure individual healings (Civ. 1.1; 7.27; 22.8). Yet in most of these narratives the city plays the role of a mere topographic reference – this miracle happened here, that occurred there, etc.


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see Rev. 21.1), whose dystopian district, the hell, has no location, no environment, “nor even, properly speaking, any ‘site’ distinct from the overall texture” (Lefebvre 1991, 240), and no topographical clues apart from a “material fire” (corporalis ignis; Civ. 21.10) torturing the damned; excluded from the perfect peace and rest of the vision of God, these latter will be doomed to eternal and real torments. Delving into his favorite spatiality, Augustine consecrates several chapters to the afterlife bodies – human and demonic – whose constitution should guarantee that, in some way, sinners will be excruciated (Civ. 21.2– 10). Fine doctrinal elaborations and urgent pastoral aims meet at the crossroads of the suffering (re-embodied) selves of the wicked: graphic accuracy and ekphrastic imagination cannot be wasted in spatial reveries. Yet what about the heavenly city? Its citizenry is now clearly defined but, once again, its space remains unprocessed. If the first nineteen books of City of God provide “no hint of how God worked as a city planner” during the historical time (Sennett 2018, 1), the last three show that his author is no planner of the post-judgment heavenly city either. Augustine, indeed, does not follow up on the spatial imagination displayed by his guiding authority in the eschatological realm, the “apostle John”.⁵⁸ Fully coherent with his lack of concern for the spatiality of the heavenly city before the doom, Augustine’s sustained spiritualization/allegorization⁵⁹ of most visionary materials of Revelation 20 – 22 rules out the possibility that he will imitate John the Seer’s “panoptic sensibility” (Maier 2002, 66) along with his detailed description of the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21– 22). Deprived of such a “visual feast” (Maier 2002, 65), a sound investigation of what is left of urbanity in a post-historical and post-urban world can only rest on some final considerations on the activities of its blessed inhabitants. We are told that the citizens of the heavenly city will be immortal, replace the population gap left by the fallen angels (Civ. 22.1),⁶⁰ and enjoy eternal bliss in a perpetual Sabbath (Civ. 22.30). Thus, arguably, they will do nothing. Herein lies the sacred dilemma of “inoperativity (inoperosità)” upon which Giorgio Agamben has brilliantly expanded. The visio Dei is portrayed as an inoperative praxis characterized by the interruption of the means/ends dialectic and the termination of the teleological dimension of social praxis, which is the logic that sustains human labor (Agamben 2011, 240 – 251). Since this very logic has been successfully spatialized, and then continuously upgraded, accelerated, and  For Augustine’s shifting, though systematic, use of this guidance in Civ. 20 – 22, see Maier 1999.  For the ambiguity of this received opinion, see both Pollmann 1999 and Burrus 1999  Augustine hypothesizes that these replacement will increase the population size of the heavenly city.

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spread all over large-scale societies with the invention of cities (Jacobs 1969), this labor-free population gathered in a post-urban paradise clearly cannot function as a city. The allegorical sense of civitas still holds because this is a “concordant multitude” as probably never before. Yet, due to the vanishing of urban forms and the ending of any urban activity, maybe it makes sense to use the concept of “non-city”. At the end of his commentary on Marx’s and Engels’ scattered insights into urbanism and its division of labor (La ville et la division du travail), Henri Lefebvre sketches out the notion of “non-city (non-ville)” (Lefebvre 2016, 57).⁶¹ In these final pages, Lefebvre seeks to spatialize the image of the communist society precisely as a place where “non-work has replaced work”. The “revolutionary time” is a “schedule of ends – ends “of religion, philosophy, ideology, the state, politics, and so on” (Lefebvre 2016, 58). The revolutionary space adds “the end of work and the end of the city” to the list: Work does not culminate in leisure but in non-work. The city does not culminate in the countryside but in the simultaneous surpassing of city and country. This leaves a void that can be filled by the imagination, projections, and theoretical forecasts. But what do non-work and non-city consist of? To answer the question, we must take a step backward, toward creative activities (art) and toward the concepts that analysis has identified in the “urban”, such as meetings, gatherings, the center, decentering, and so on. But one can always respond that the surpassing of work and the city will have nothing in common with was formerly known by those terms. (Lefebvre 2016, 58).

Arrived at the very end of his work, Augustine is confronted with the end of the society and the work as we know them, with “meetings” and “gatherings” which are no longer recognizable as such. His apocalyptic imagination reacts by becoming extremely self-reflexive (Maier 1999, 155 – 156). It first feels compelled to stop and admit hesitation due to his non-empirical knowledge of this shared sabbatical activity (Civ. 22.29).⁶² Then it resorts again to his preferred spatiality, the body, for trying to devise the embodied conditions of a state of total contemplation and visibility of God in all beings (Civ. 22.29). After hesitating again on  Lefebvre’s use of this expression is neither limited to this text nor confined to a post-capitalist imagined scenario. In The Urban Revolution, he employs it to designate either “the absence or the rupture of urban reality” (Lefebvre 2003, 13). In this latter sense, it refers to the unstructured and thus illegible features of the city as generated by the capitalist-industrial takeover and limitless expansion of urbanism “in a historical process of implosion-explosion” (Lefebvre 2003, 14).  “And yet, to tell the truth, I do not know what the nature of that occupation, or rather of that rest and repose (Et illa quidem actio vel potius quies atque otium), will be. After all, I have never seen it with my bodily sight” (CIV. 22.29).


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the mystery of the movement of these bodies,⁶³ it sketches first a bodily motility which perfectly meets any spiritual wish, and then speculates on a spontaneously hierarchical sense of positioning which knows no jealousy and conforms to a sinless free will (Civ. 22.30). Finally, after perception and motility, Augustine’s restrained imagination of how a non-urban civitas will look like culminates in the description of the knowledge of the saints. Freed from the feeling of past evils, the perfection of this knowledge moves the citizenry to execute a most joyful script: the “song of the glory of the grace of Christ” (Civ. 22.30). Eventually, the reader expects that the final “surpassing of work and the city will have nothing in common with was formerly known by those terms” (Lefebvre 2016, 58) since the time when Cain and his kin laid the foundation of urban life. However, one could be tempted to ask Augustine if this non-urban liturgy will be a ritual or a show or, like in Varro’s demolished system, both.

Bibliography Agamben, Giorgio 2011 (2007). The Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Albrecht, Janico et al. 2018. “Religion in the Making: The Lived Ancient Religion Approach.” Religion 28 (4): 568 – 593. Ando, Clifford. 2014. “Postscript: Cities, Citizenship and the Work of Empire.” In The City in the Classical and Post-Classical World: Changing Contexts of Power and Identity, edited by Claudia Rapp and H.A. Drake, 240 – 256. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ando, Clifford. 2015. Roman Social Imaginaries: Language and Thought in Contexts of Empire. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Benjamin, Walter. 1969 (1942). “Theses on the Philosophy of History.” In Illuminations, edited by Hannah Arendt, 253 – 264. New York: Schocken Books. Benjamin, Walter. 1999 (1982). The Arcade Project. Cambridge (Mass.): The Belknap Press. Berking, Helmut; Löw, Martina, eds. 2005. Die Wirklichkeit der Städte. Baden-Baden: Nomos. Berking, Helmut; Löw, Martina, eds. 2008. Die Eigenlogik der Städte. Neue Wege für Stadtforschung. Frankfurt am Main: Campus. Blasi, Anthony J. 1997. “Review of Rodney, Stark, The Rise of Christianity: A Sociologist Reconsiders History.” Social Forces 75 (4): 1499 – 1501. Brown, Peter. 1967. Augustine of Hippo. A Biography. London: Faber and Faber. Brown, Peter. I981. The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Early Christianity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Burrus, Virginia. 1999. “An Immoderate Feast: Augustine Reads John’s Apocalypse.” In History, Apocalypse, and the Secular Imagination: New Essays on Augustine’s City of

 “I do not venture to give any bold account of what the movements of such bodies (motus illic talium corporum) will be in the world to come; indeed I cannot even imagine it (CIV. 22.30).

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God, edited by Mark Vessey, Karla Pollmann and Allan D. Fitzgerald, 183 – 194. Bowling Green: Philosophy Documentation Center. Casey, Edward S. 1997. The Fate of Place: A Philosophical History. Berkeley: University of California Press. Castelli, Elizabeth A. 2004. Martyrdom and Memory: Early Christian Culture Making. New York: Columbia University Press. de Certeau, Michel. 1984 (1980). The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California Press. Crang, Mike; Thrift, Nigel. 2000. “Introduction.” In Thinking Space, edited by Mike Crang and Nigel Thrift, 1 – 20. London: Routledge. Czachesz, István. 2017. Cognitive Science and the New Testament: A New Approach to Early Christian Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press. del Estal, Gabriel; Rosado, Juan José. 1954. “Equivalencia de ‘civitas’ en el ‘De civitate Dei’.” Ciudad de Dios 167 (2): 367 – 454. Dyson, Robert W. 1998. Augustine, The City of God against the Pagans. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Edwards, Catharine. 1996. Writing Rome: Textual Approaches to the City. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ewald, Owen M. 2014. “Imperial Roman Cities as Places of Memory in Augustine’s Confessions.” In Urban Dreams and Realities in Antiquity: Remains and Representations of the Ancient City, edited by Adam M. Kemezis, 273 – 293. Leiden: Brill. Farinelli, Franco. 2003. Geografia. Un’introduzione ai modelli di mondo. Torino: Einaudi. Foucault, Michel. 1984. “Space, Knowledge, and Power.” In The Foucault Reader: An Introduction to Foucault’s Thought, edited by Paul Rabinow, 239 – 256. London: Penguin. Foucault, Michel. 1986 (1967). “Of other spaces”. Diacritics 16: 22 – 27. Foucualt, Michel. 2006. “Utopian Body.” In Sensorium: Embodied Experience, Technology, and Contemporary Art, edited by Caroline A. Jones, 229 – 234. Cambridge (Mass.): The MIT Press. Fuhrer, Therese; Mundt, Felix; Stenger, Jan, eds. 2015. Cityscaping: Constructing and Modelling Images of the City. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. Gasparini, Valentino. 2013. “Staging Religion. Cultic Performances in (and Around) the Temple of Isis in Pompeii.” In Memory and Religious Experience in the Greco-Roman World, edited by Nicola Cusumano et al., 185 – 211. Heidelberg: Franz Steiner. Gasparini, Valentino. 2018. “Les acteurs sur scène. Théâtre et théâtralisation dans les cultes isiaques.” In Individuals and Materials in the Greco-Roman Cults of Isis: Agents, Images, and Practices, edited by Valentino Gasparini and Richard Veymiers, 714 – 746. Vol. 2. Leiden: Brill. Glaeser, Edward . 2011. The Triumph of the City. How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier. New York: Penguin Books. Gunderson, Erik. 1996. “The Ideology of the Arena.” Classical Antiquity 15: 113 – 151. Hansen, Mogens Herman. 1998. Polis and City-State: An Ancient Concept and its Modern Equivalent. Copenhagen: Munksgaard. Harvey, David. 2008. “The Right to the City.” New Left Review 53 sept-oct.: 23 – 40. Hölldobler, Bert; Wilson, Edward O. 2008. The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies. New York: Norton. Hubbard, Phil; Kitchin, Rob, eds. 2011. Key Thinkers of Space and Place. Los Angeles: Sage.


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Clifford Ando

The children of Cain Abstract: The paper studies Augustine’s attitude to urbanism by tracing his readings of the episode of Cain and Abel. In particular, Genesis attributes the origin of the first city and of urban culture to Cain, while the lineage that leads to Israel is pastoralist. Augustine, by contrast, performs a distinctive misreading of the Biblical text. He assigns offspring to Abel, whom he figures both as commingling with the children of Cain and as founders of their own civitas. This move enables a typological reading of the story of Cain and Abel, whose respective foundations may then figure in a sequence of Augustinian contrasts between Jerusalem and Babylon, civitas dei and civitas terrena. But it also disallows, or allows Augustine to evade, the ideological stakes of the Genesis narrative, which so dispreferred urban culture and, perforce, urban religion. Throughout the paper attends carefully to complex metaphors elaborated by Augustine with regard to Latinate vocabularies of both politics and public law.

1 Introduction Haec autem mulier, antiqua est civitas Dei, de qua in psalmo dicitur: Gloriosa dicta sunt de te, civitas Dei (Ps. 86.4[87.3]). Haec civitas initium habet ab ipso Abel, sicut mala civitas a Cain. (Augustine, En. Ps. 142.3¹) But this woman is the ancient civitas of God, of which it is said in the psalm, “Glorious things are spoken of you, civitas of God”. This civitas has its beginning from Abel, as the evil civitas has its origin from Cain.

Augustine expounded Psalm 142 in 412 or perhaps 416 CE.² Readers of Augustine might therefore be excused if their first instinct is to read the assertion that the civitas Dei has its origin from Abel, as the evil civitas has its origin from Cain, in light of the grand thematics of the De civitate Dei, which focus on the distinguishing and ultimate separation of the two communities, the political community ruled by God and that ruled by the devil. And of course it does do that. But the story of Cain and Abel was made to serve that end in consequence of a violent misreading with a long history in Augustinian polemics, which was itself

 Translations from En. Ps. are sometimes adapted from that of Boulding 2000 – 2004.  For the dating of the Enarrationes in Psalmos, all modern scholarship commences from the studies collected Zarb 1948. OpenAccess. © 2020 Laetzer/Urciuoli, published by De Gruyter. the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110641813-003

This work is licensed under


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abetted by the representational and cognitive commitments of classical Latin. I therefore commence my exploration of Augustine’s reflections on urban religion by concentrating on two aspects of this problem. First, Augustine misrepresents the facts of the Genesis narrative in interested ways: the construction of Cain and Abel as equally founders of civitates belies the claim of Genesis 4:17, to the effect that Cain was the founder of urbanism (or, at least, he founded the first city), and his children were the inventors of (urban) culture, not only metallurgy but also music (Gen. 4:21– 22). What is more, of course, Abel is not explicitly described as having given rise to any line of descent, let alone a political community: for that, according to Genesis, Adam and Eve needed Seth (Gen. 4:25 – 26). Augustine effects this misrepresentation in part by means of his use of civitas, as opposed to any of the available terms for conurbation or urban settlement with less complicated metonymic reach, whether urbs or oppidum or what have you.³ This is the second aspect of Augustine’s writings on urbanism on which I wish to focus. By “metonymic reach”, I intend the following: the primary meaning of civitas was not “city” but “citizenship”. It is an abstraction from civis. By metonymies that were standard already in the classical period, civitas could designate all persons united by a given citizenship. Hence, civitas was potentially synonymous with populus, meaning “community of citizens” or “citizen body”. But the same term could also designate the conurbation wherein the citizen-body dwelt or the territory that it claimed as its own: it could, in short, mean “city” or “city-state” (Ando 2015, esp. 7– 15; see also Thesaurus Linguae Latinae s.v. civitas, III: 1229 – 1240). Augustine’s use of civitas thus achieves a number of things. To begin with, by Roman lights, a community of citizens was a community of consent, not descent (Ando 2015, especially 47– 50 and 78 – 92). This notion is foundational to Roman political thought, and Augustine affirmed it repeatedly—on this point see section 3, below. The prophetic and typological uses to which he will ultimately put the narrative of Cain and Abel would not be sustainable if he subscribed instead to the genealogical logic of Genesis. Second, bracketing the problem that Abel did not found anything, identifying both Cain and Abel as the originators of civitates elides, if it does not efface, the fact that the children of Cain, as founders of poleis and poliadic paideia, were opposed in Scriptural narrative to the generations that led to Israel, who were pastoralists. Not simply in bk. 4, but throughout Genesis, urbanism and urban culture are dispreferred: the story of

 On Augustine’s use of the term civitas and its background, see Thraede 1983; Lamirande 1986; Lepelley 1992. See also Ando 2014, 240 – 256 and Conybeare 2014, 139 – 155.

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Babel, after all, begins with a brick (Gen. 11:3). The dispreferral of cities, and preference for non-urban lifestyles in general and pastoralism in particular, were a time-bomb, waiting to be exploded in the moral and political economies of scriptural hermeneutics and Christian culture (see Nelson 2010). In what follows I start to trace Augustine’s long wrestling with the story of Cain and Abel as a means of shedding light on his confrontation with cities as sites of sin and power. The overall topic is, of course, large. Elsewhere I have explored the very distinctive ways in which Augustine’s reflections on political communities—on civitates—were separated, as it were, from their Ciceronian roots by virtue of citizenship being in his day an imperial rather than civic phenomenon (Ando 2014). By this I intend the following: Cicero located Roman citizenship emphatically in the city-state of Rome, which act allowed him to advance a theory that citizens of municipalities of Italy only kilometers away might be conceived as having two citizenships. In the late empire, citizenship was still “of Rome”, but its geographic locus transcended the city-state on the Tiber and was felt affectively to be effective throughout Roman space. In this context, local structures of civic identity became subordinate to the Roman one, rather than existing in some way in conceptual and geographical parallel to it. There are naturally many ways that one might address these questions. Within the corpus of Augustine narrowly, as well as the body of late ancient Christian Latin more generally, one might pursue the topic of urban religion by a variety of means. Augustine, of course, delivered sermons in numerous places. One might commence by careful comparison of the sermons in Hippo with those in Carthage. All his sermons, delivered wheresoever, caution his auditors against the temptations they will confront as soon as they leave the building—even as he harangues against their present sins in the building—but the pleasures and sins of Carthage are not simply on a different scale, but are different in kind, from those of Thagaste or Hippo. Cityscapes were battlegrounds: whatever else they were, sectarian disputes in late antiquity were contests for the control of buildings, and the dominance and social prestige that monumental architecture and the treasure they contained might bring. (This is so despite a very great literature that focuses, often without confessing this, on cities in specific imaginaries; e. g., MacCormack 1998, 175 – 224; also Manent 2010). This aspect of the dispute between Catholic and Donatist in North Africa is among the themes of Brent Shaw’s Sacred Violence (Shaw 2011). Nor were all one’s enemies heretics: pagans did not fight over the same buildings, of course, but pagan ritual amounted to a claim upon the topography of the sacred; and the blandishments of poliadic culture, in the form of theater, festivals and games, were perforce urban. Contests over


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the symbolics of public space and the establishment of its meaning via ritual procession were at the heart of the dispute that generated the correspondence between Augustine and Nectarius; they were likewise thematized in Augustine’s great New Year’s sermon delivered in Carthage, in 404. But no late ancient text reveals the earthly politics and material practices of such disputes better than Mark the Deacon’s Life of Porphyry, the bishop of Gaza, which culminates in a frenzy of violence unleashed by the reading aloud of the imperial letter that gave permission for the city’s Christian authorities to attack its temples. The seeking of that letter must have been a wholly typical act, yet it, too, is narrated here in wholly unusual and hilarious detail. The Christians advanced against the temples of the city and its Marneion with torches and pitch. Porphyry was later inspired to manufacture tesserae from the remains of the Marneion’s marble decorations. These were used to pave the ground in front of the city’s new church, which was five years in the making—Eudoxia herself sent columns—in order that not only men and women, but also dogs and beasts would walk on it. Nevertheless, despite the passage of time, when the new cathedral opened, the former idolators would not walk on the pavement, even unto the day of the Life’s composition (Mark the Deacon, Vit. Porph. 76). Spoliation was not merely an aesthetic, nor simply a technique. It bears recalling at this juncture that the social prestige that attached to control of monumental public buildings situated within urban landscapes was neither natural nor necessary. Late ancient Christianity was of course an urban (and suburban) phenomenon. This was true not simply as a matter of demographics and ideology, but also in respect of its material basis and institutional elaboration. But these facts were consequent upon a long history. For one thing, the church had long calqued itself upon the institutions of public power in the world at large. In that world, the preeminence of urban religion—the dominance of monumentalized temples as sites for accessing the divine; the attraction of urban festivals; the superordinate importance of sacrifice at urban altars—had issued from struggles whose basic structure is broadly familiar to all. The social authority of civic elites was both expressed and bolstered by a claim to preeminence not simply in politics but also religion; and their success was measured in the transfer of both wealth and nutrition from the countryside to the city in the form of dedications and sacrifice, with the result that even festivals for agricultural fertility were often performed in the center of cities. The political economics of these systems are so familiar to ancient historians that their contingency and history is little explored, but they are visible in regions of the Mediterranean that underwent poliadization during the Hellenistic era, and similar processes can be

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detected in operation, if not so easily documented, not simply in earlier waves of Greek imperialism but also in formation of poleis in the Greek peninsula itself.⁴

2 Civitas as city As a hermeneutical matter, it is useful to begin where Augustine insisted that one must begin, namely, the literal truth of Scripture. To that end, he several times averred that Cain really did build a city—civitas as urbs—and did not simply found the earthly political community of humans ruled by the devil. He recognized why some would find this implausible: My present duty, as it seems to me, is to defend the historical truth of the Scriptural account, in case it may seem incredible that a civitas should have been built (aedificatam) by one man at a time when there were apparently only four men in existence on the earth—or, rather, three, after the one brother killed the other: these three were the first man, the father of all, Cain himself, and Cain’s son Enoch, after whose name the civitas itself was named.⁵ (Augustine, Civ. 15.8)

Augustine elsewhere demonstrates his commitments to the truth of the literal meaning of Scripture by employing (once again) aedificare, “to build or construct”, to describe Cain’s action; he also feels compelled, not for the only time, to respond to his own concern that there were “apparently only three men on earth”: Therefore that civitas is greater in respect of age, since Cain was born first, and Abel later: but in them, the older served the younger. That city is greater in respect of age; the other is greater in respect of dignity. Why is it greater in age? Because what is spiritual is not prior, but what is animal is. Why is the latter greater in respect of dignity? Because the older serves the younger. We read therefore that Cain built a civitas. Before there was any other civitas, in the very beginning of human affairs, Cain built a civitas. Obviously you must understand that many persons had been born from these two brothers, and from those that these two bore, so that there would be an appropriate and proper number to whom the term civitas might be applied. Therefore, Cain built a civitas, where there had

 Osborne 1987, chapter 8; Gordon 1990, 179 – 98; Gordon 1990, 201– 32; Chandezon 2014, 29 – 50; Ando 2017, 118 – 136.  Augustine, Civ. 15.8: Nunc autem defendenda mihi videtur historia, ne sit Scriptura incredibilis, quae dicit aedificatam ab uno homine civitatem eo tempore, quo non plus quam viri quattuor vel potius tres, posteaquam fratrem frater occidit, fuisse videntur in terra, id est primus homo pater omnium et ipse Cain et eius filius Enoch, ex cuius nomine ipsa civitas nuncupata est. Translations from Civ. are adapted and revised from the translation of Bettenson 2004.


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been no civitas. Jerusalem was built later, the kingdom of God, the holy civitas, the civitas of God; and it was established as a sort of image of a shadow, foreshadowing things to come.⁶ (Augustine, En. Ps. 61.7)

Two puzzles arise here. The first is that Augustine insists that Abel had children; the second, that he apparently believes the offspring from the two lineages intermingled in the first city. Certainly he argues that there were sufficient persons to populate the one civitas by citing the offspring of both brothers, not that of Cain alone. (He also affirms the commingling of the two groups in En. Ps. 64.2, below.) The second notion, that of the commingling of the two civitates-cum-political communities, is of course fully in keeping with the historical and soteriological interpretation of the two communities that Augustine advanced from at least 408 onwards. But the first puzzle, namely, that concerning the children of Abel, has powerful implications for the interpretive and ethical meanings we assign to Augustine’s beliefs about the origin of non-Jews. It is, I believe, nowhere defended by him at length. Augustine’s use of civitas to describe the city built by Cain has implications for how one might imagine the constitution of its community. In a similar fashion, the notion that Cain’s civitas, and that of the descendents of Abel, are sort-of images of a shadow, pointing to things to come, gestures at the symbolic and typological readings that Augustine will impose on the two so-called cities. I will treat these topics separately in what follows. For Augustine, however, these separate meanings were imbricated in historical reality and several might be elucidated in any given reading, as in the sermon on Psalm 64: Et videte nomina duarum istarum civitatum, Babylonis et Ierusalem. Babylon Confusio interpretatur, Ierusalem visio pacis. Intendite nunc civitatem confusionis, ut intellegatis visionem pacis: istam toleretis, ad illam suspiretis. Unde dignosci possunt istae duae civitates? Numquid possumus eas modo separare ab invicem? Permixtae sunt, et ab ipso exordio generis humani permixtae currunt usque in finem saeculi. Ierusalem accepit exordium per Abel; Babylon per Cain: aedificia quippe urbium postea facta sunt. (Augustine, En. Ps. 64.2)

 Augustine, En. Ps. 61.7: Ideo civitas illa maior aetate, quia prior natus est Cain, et postea Abel: sed in his maior serviet minori (Gen. 25:23). Illa maior aetate; ista maior dignitate. Quare illa maior aetate? Quia non prius quod spiritale est, sed quod animale. Quare ista maior dignitate? Quia maior serviet minori. Aedificavit autem civitatem Cain, sicut legimus (Gen. 4:17): antequam esset ulla civitas, in primordio rerum humanarum, aedificavit civitatem Cain. Procul dubio intellegas iam natos fuisse multos homines ex illis duobus, et ex his quos genuerant, ut posset esse aptus et congruus numerus cui nomen civitatis imponeretur. Aedificavit ergo civitatem Cain, ubi non erat civitas. Aedificata est et postea Ierusalem, regnum Dei, civitas sancta, civitas Dei; et posita in specie quadam umbrae significantis futura. See also En. Ps. 121.4.

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Consider, too, the names of those two civitates, Babylon and Jerusalem. Babylon is translated “confusion”; Jerusalem as “vision of peace”. Pay attention now to the civitas of confusion, in order that you may understand the vision of peace; endure that one, so that you may long for the other. How can these two civitates be distinguished? Can we never separate them, one from the other? They are commingled, and from the very beginning of the human race they continue commingled until the end of the age. Jerusalem received its beginning through Abel; Babylon through Cain: for the buildings of cities were constructed thereafter.

In this case, the materiality of the two cities is not in question: they are each composed of aedificia, buildings. But the cities in material reality—which, for precision’s sake, he also names urbes—are logically and temporally posterior to the symbolic meaning with which Augustine freights the brothers, in which each figures as the originator of a civitas qua community of persons. To the relationship of Babylon to Jerusalem, I will return.

3 Civitas as contractualist political society In constructing his arguments about the forms of political and religious communities, Augustine relied upon an essential aspect of Latinate usage and Roman political thought that inhered in the meaning of civitas and its synonymity with populus. Put briefly, Romans understood political belonging to rest on individual commitment to the community’s norms (Ando 2015). Augustine’s on-going endorsement of this principle in respect of politics is most visible in his engagements with Cicero’s definition of a political community or citizen body as not any gathering of persons, who come together for any reason whatsoever, but a gathering of many joined by consent to a particular normative order and shared utility.⁷ Arbitror tamen satis nos iam fecisse magnis et difficillimis quaestionibus de initio vel mundi vel animae vel ipsius generis humani, quod in duo genera distribuimus, unum eorum, qui secundum hominem, alterum eorum, qui secundum Deum vivunt; quas etiam mystice appellamus civitates duas, hoc est duas societates hominum, quarum est una quae praedestinata est in aeternum regnare cum Deo, altera aeternum supplicium subire cum diabolo. (Augustine, Civ. 15.1) All the same, I think that I have already discharged my obligation to the important and knotty problems about the beginning of the world, and of the human race itself, which

 Cicero, De re publica 1.39: populus autem non omnis hominum coetus quoquo modo congregatus, sed coetus multitudinis iuris consensu et utilitatis communione sociatus.


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I classify in two branches: the one consists of those who live by human standards, the other of those who live according to God’s will. Speaking allegorically, I also call these two classes the two civitates, that is to say, the two societates of human beings, one of which is predestined to reign with God for all eternity, the other doomed to undergo eternal punishment with the devil.

Please observe that Augustine performs a twofold move. First, he admits that his use of the term civitas is itself interpretive (quas etiam mystice appellamus civitates duas)—which is to say, it is he who so classifies human life on earth; this was not, inter alia, the self-understanding of those whose lives he categorizes. Second, he glosses civitas with societas. ⁸ This latter move is likely also derived from Augustine’s reading of Cicero, and of the De re publica in particular, though the metaphorical association between the two terms has a long life in Roman political thought. The fundamental point is that sociare and societas were terms of art in the private law of corporations, and corporations were purely voluntary associations (see Moatti 2001, 811– 837, with Ando 2015). Membership in a Roman-style political community was understood normatively to be consequent upon individual consent, rather than (as in Athenian law) to follow upon descent.⁹ A short while after his famous definition of populus, Cicero turns to the relations operative among those of shared citizenship: Quare cum lex sit civilis societatis vinculum, ius autem legis aequale, quo iure societas civium teneri potest, cum par non sit condicio civium? (Cicero Rep. 1.49) Wherefore, since law is the bond of a civilis societas, a citizenly association, and rightful order is equivalent to law, then by what rightful order can a societas civium, an association of citizens be held together, when the condition of those citizens is not equal?

As the political community was defined by the individual commitments of its members to its norms, so the norms may be figured as the bond that unites a citizenly (voluntary) association. In these and other texts, Augustine elaborates the metaphorical use of terms of art in legal and political-theoretical discourse in order to discuss religious communities in many directions: as some are citizens in this world, so others

 See also Augustine, En. Ps. 17.18: Si autem sic accipiendum est: Et florebunt sicut fenum terrae, quemadmodum dictum est: Omnis caro fenum, et claritas hominis sicut flos feni; profecto et civitas illa intellegenda est, quae saeculi huius societatem significat: non enim frustra primus Cain condidit civitatem (Gen. 4:17).  On the (relative) importance of descent and contract in Athenian and Roman ideologies of political belonging see Ando 2019, 175 – 88.

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are aliens; as the Christian god is the rightful ruler of this world, so his rulership is statal—Augustine terms it administratio publica—and his law is public (ius publicum); those who live contrary to his law conduct their lives diverso iure, under another law (Augustine, De diversis quaestionibus 79, on which see Ando 2016, 102– 103). Cain and Abel are both paradigmatic of this distinction and posited as originary.¹⁰ In the Enarrationes in Psalmos, the metaphorical construal of human populations as civitates receives its most extended elaboration in En. Ps. 9.8: Inimici defecerunt frameae in finem. … Et forte iste est finis in quem frameae deficiunt inimici, quia usque ad ipsum aliquid valent; ipse nunc operatur occulte, ultimo autem iudicio palam vibrabitur. Hoc destruuntur civitates; nam ita sequitur: Inimici defecerunt frameae in finem; et civitates destruxisti: civitates autem in quibus diabolus regnat, ubi dolosa et fraudulenta consilia tamquam curiae locum obtinent, cui principatui quasi satellites et ministri adsunt officia quorumque membrorum, oculi ad curiositatem, aures ad lasciviam, vel si quid est aliud quod in malam partem libenter auditur, manus ad rapinam vel quodlibet aliud facinus aut flagitium, et membra cetera in hunc modum tyrannico principatui, id est perversis consiliis militantia. Huius civitatis quasi plebs est omnes delicatae affectiones et turbulenti motus animi, quotidianas seditiones in homine agitantes. Ergo ubi rex, ubi curia, ubi ministri, ubi plebs invenitur, civitas est: neque enim talia essent in malis civitatibus, nisi prius essent in singulis hominibus, qui sunt tamquam elementa et semina civitatum. Has civitates destruit, cum excluso inde principe, de quo dictum est: Princeps huius saeculi missus est foras. (John 12:31) “The swords of the enemy have given way at the end”. … And perhaps this is the “end” before which the swords of the enemy fail, since up until that time they had some force. For now he operates secretly, but at the final judgment it will be brandished openly. By this means the civitates are destroyed, for it continues thus: “The swords of the enemy have given way at the end, and you have destroyed the civitates”—the civitates in which the devil rules, where treacherous and fraudulent plans have the place, as it were, of a senate—to which government, like officials and ministers, servants are present in the form, as it were, of its limbs: eyes for curiosity; the ears for lewdness, or whatever there is that is freely heard for evil purpose; the hands for theft or some other crime or misdeed whatsoever, and the other parts [serve] tyrannical rulership in this same fashion, which is to say, they serve evil purposes. Of this civitas the plebs, as it were, are all the pleasurable desires and movements of a disturbed soul, stirring up the daily seditions in the human being. Thus, where there is a king, where there is a senate, where there are ministers, where a plebs is found: there is a civitas. For such things would not be found in evil city-states, if they had not first been found in individuals, who are the as-it-were building-blocks and seeds of city-states.

 Augustine, Civ. 15.1: Scriptum est itaque de Cain, quod condiderit civitatem; Abel autem tamquam peregrinus non condidit.


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He destroyed these city-states, at the time when their ruler was shut out, concerning whom it is said, “The ruler of this world has been sent out”.

I have underlined the terms of art of a Roman political discourse and placed in bold the lexical operands by which Augustine flags his argument as metaphorical. Please observe, too, that the argument proceeds in two directions. To begin with, humans of this world organize themselves into political communities that are, on Augustine’s model, isomorphic: a senate (curia) functions as a deliberative body, which exercises its sovereignty (principatus) through officials and ministers; there may be a head of state (rex)—who is, for earthly civitates, ultimately the devil—and there will be a mass of citizens who are free and yet have no voice in deliberations (plebs). These are the constituents of a political society (civitas). In a second stage, he affirms that this model of the political society may also serve to map the internal operations—the governance of the self—of human beings: for wrongly-ordered political communities must needs express the internal ordering of their members.

4 Typological and allegorical figurations The tension between civitas as political community and civitas as city achieves a particular salience for Augustine because the only citizenship truly present to his imagination was that of Rome, which was of course a city but was inescapably also an empire. It was, needless to say, this context that made the use of civitas to describe the population of the world possible and intelligible in the first place. That said, Augustine does not take the mapping of Rome-as-civitas and civitasas-empire for granted. Instead, he constructs a typological argument why Rome, which began as a city and still remained one, is paradigmatic of the civitas, the citizen body-cum-voluntary association of this world. The argument commences from the observation that Rome, too, was founded in an act of fratricide: Primus itaque fuit terrenae civitatis conditor fratricida; nam suum fratrem civem civitatis aeternae in hac terra peregrinantem invidentia victus occidit. Unde mirandum non est, quod tanto post in ea civitate condenda, quae fuerat huius terrenae civitatis, de qua loquimur, caput futura et tam multis gentibus regnatura, huic primo exemplo et, ut Graeci appellant ἀρχετύπῳ, quaedam sui generis imago respondit. (Augustine, Civ. 15.5) The first founder of the earthly civitas was, as we have seen, a fratricide; for, overcome by envy, he slew his own brother, a citizen of the eternal civitas, who was wandering as an alien in this world. Whence it is no wonder that long afterwards, this first precedent—

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what the Greeks call an archetype—was answered by a kind of reflection, by an event of the same kind, in the founding of the civitas that was to be the capital (caput) of this earthly civitas, of which we are speaking. Illud igitur, quod inter Remum et Romulum exortum est, quemadmodum adversus se ipsam terrena civitas dividatur, ostendit; quod autem inter Cain et Abel, inter duas ipsas civitates, Dei et hominum, inimicitias demonstravit. Thus the quarrel that arose between Remus and Romulus demonstrated the extent to which the earthly civitas is divided against itself, while the conflict between Cain and Abel displayed the hostility between the two civitates themselves, the civitas of God and the civitas of humans.

Please observe here the complex imbrication of the term civitas in two of its senses, referring to the selfsame historical entity in its two guises: the city— the civitas—of Rome was founded by a fratricide (Romulus), even as the first city was founded by a fratricide (Cain); at the same time, the political community, the civitas, established by Rome now transcends the city in its material reality, even as the civitas that finds its origins in Cain is no longer confined to the walls of Enoch. The figuration of the Roman empire as a political community founded upon consent to law—the construal of empire as civitas—plays an essential role in a further argument of great importance to Augustine, in which both the conflation and distinction of city and political community operates on several levels. I refer to his grand claim in respect of Christian supersessionism (see Nirenberg 2013, 123 – 134). The portion of Augustine’s arguments on this topic that concerns me identifies the Jews as a civitas, a political community, centered in a civitas, a city, namely Jerusalem, which they had seized in war and made their own. But the Jews lost access to their city, even as they must remain imperfectly integrated into the civitas in which they were absorbed, namely the empire. Within this figuration, the empire is a community formed by consent to a particular normative order, and Jewish clinging to their superstition is both voluntary—insofar as each Jew is a citizen, and citizenship is consequent upon individual commitment—and yet foreordained. Truly, my brothers, look how those things have been taken away, while these things have been fulfilled. Let the Jewish people show me a priest now. Where are their sacrifices? They have truly perished; now these things are taken away. Should we remonstrate them for those things then? We only disapprove now: if you want to do such things now, it is untimely, it is not appropriate, it is not right. You still promise, but I have received. Something remains for them to celebrate, lest they remain without a sign. For Cain, the older brother, who killed the younger brother, received a sign, lest anyone kill him, as it is written in Genesis: God placed a mark on Cain, lest anyone kill him (Gen. 4:15). In exactly the same way the Jewish gens itself remains. All gentes who are subject to Roman law came


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together under Roman law; they shared their superstitions; but later they began to abandon them, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. That race alone remains with its sign, with the sign of circumcision, with its sign of the unleavened bread: Cain was not killed; he was not killed; he had his sign.¹¹ (Augustine, En. Ps. 39.13)

Admittedly, Augustine here uses gens to describe the myriad peoples who have come together in the empire—in part, it seems, for the sake of variatio, and in part to reflect the past that each group had to overcome in order to achieve lives ordered by (Roman) law. That said, the community of the Roman empire is emphatically one that was so ordered: the population was not simply constituted through law, but it was united through the consent of its individual members to a particular normative order. This characterization of the population of the (Roman) world is then fundamental to the way in which Augustine subsequently interprets Jewish adherence to its own practices-cum-law as a form of individual dissent to law. When, therefore, Augustine revisits this topic, he recasts the entire argument through a metaphorical apparatus that draws on the language of public law: How is it that he said a little earlier, “Do not pity any of those who work iniquity”, but now concerning his enemies says, “Do not kill them, lest they ever forget your law?” … That is true death, to go into the depths of sin. This is to be understood concerning the Jews. What about the Jews? “Do not kill them, lest they forget your law?” The gens of the Jews remains. To be sure, it was conquered by the Romans; to be sure, their civitas was destroyed; the Jews are not admitted into their own civitas, but nevertheless there are Jews. For all those provinces were subjugated by the Romans. Who now can know the races in the Roman empire, how many there were, since all have become Roman, and all are called Romans? The Jews abide nevertheless, with their sign, for they were not conquered in such a way that they were absorbed by the victors. Not without reason is it Cain, who after he had killed his brother, God put the sign on him, lest anyone kill him. This is the sign that the Jews have; they cling altogether to the remnants of their law (reliquias legis suae); they are

 Augustine, En. Ps. 39.13: Et vere, fratres mei, attendite illa ablata, haec impleta. Det mihi modo gens iudaica sacerdotem. Ubi sunt sacrificia illorum? Certe perierunt, certe ablata sunt nunc. Numquid tunc reprobaremus ea? Reprobamus modo: quia si modo velis facere, intemporale est, non est opportunum, non congruit. Adhuc promittis, iam accepi. Remansit illis quiddam quod celebrent, ne omnino sine signo remanerent. Cain enim maior frater, qui occidit minorem fratrem, accepit signum, ne quis eum occideret, sicut scriptum est in Genesi: Posuit Deus Cain signum, ut nemo eum occideret (Gen. 4:15). Proinde et ipsa gens iudaea manet. Omnes gentes subditae iuri romano, in ius romanum confluxerunt, superstitiones communicaverunt; postea inde coeperunt per gratiam Domini nostri Iesu Christi separari: illa vero sic mansit cum signo suo, cum signo circumcisionis, cum signo azymorum sic mansit: non est occisus Cain, non est occisus, habet signum suum. See also En. Ps. 77.22.

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circumcised; they observe the Sabbath; they slaughter the paschal lamb; they eat unleavened bread. Therefore there are Jews; they are not killed; they are necessary for the gentiles who believe. Why is this? So that he may show us his mercy toward our enemies. “My God has given me proof in respect of my enemies”.¹² (Augustine, En. Ps. 58(1).21)

Here, the gens of the Jews constitutes a civitas-as-political commmunity, which had a civitas-as-city, from which they are now excluded. What is more, the Jews are materially within a community of law—the imperium Romanum—and yet apart from it, because they dissent from its law and cling to their own. What is merely adumbrated in the sermon on Psalm 39 is expansively elaborated in the fourth sermon on Psalm 30, namely, that the Jews as god’s chosen people were surrounded by a multitude of peoples that might nonetheless be interpreted as a single civitas, insofar as the gentiles were united in their commitment to what was then error. The civitas of the Jews resided in Judaea, wherein lies the city-cum-civitas, Jerusalem, in which Christ suffered and rose again: “Blessed be the Lord, for he has wrought wonderful mercy in the civitas that lies all around”. What is this civitas that lies all around? The populus of God was established in one place, Judaea, as it were in the middle of the world, where the praises of God were spoken, and sacrifices were offered to him, where prophecy never ceased, by singing of the future, which now we see being fulfilled: that people was, as it were, in the midst of the gentiles. That prophet paid note to this, and he saw the church-of-God-to-come in middle of the gentiles, and since all the gentiles around were everywhere, which made the one race of the Jews the middle, he called the gentiles that stood all around everywhere a civitas that lies all around. Indeed, Lord, you worked a marvel, your mercy, in the civitas, Jerusalem: there Christ suffered, there he rose again, there he ascended to heaven, there he performed many

 Augustine, En. Ps. 58(1).21: Unde ergo paulo superius: Non miserearis omnium qui operantur iniquitatem; et nunc de inimicis suis: Ne occideris eos, nequando obliviscantur legis tuae? … Ipsa est vera mors, in profundum ire peccati: potest quidem hoc et de Iudaeis intellegi. Quid de Iudaeis: Ne occideris eos, nequando obliviscantur legis tuae? Istos inimicos meos, ipsos qui me occiderunt, noli tu occidere. Maneat gens Iudaeorum: certe victa est a Romanis, certe deleta civitas eorum; non admittuntur ad civitatem suam Iudaei, et tamen Iudaei sunt. Nam omnes istae provinciae a Romanis subiugatae sunt. Quis iam cognoscit gentes in imperio Romano quae quid erant, quando omnes Romani facti sunt, et omnes Romani dicuntur? Iudaei tamen manent cum signo; nec sic victi sunt, ut a victoribus absorberentur. Non sine causa Cain ille est, qui cum fratrem occidisset, posuit in eo Deus signum, ne quis eum occideret. Hoc est signum quod habent Iudaei: tenent omnino reliquias legis suae; circumciduntur, sabbata observant, pascha immolant, azyma comedunt. Sunt ergo Iudaei, non sunt occisi, necessarii sunt credentibus Gentibus. Quare hoc? Ut demonstret nobis in inimicis nostris misericordiam suam. Deus meus demonstravit mihi in inimicis meis.


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miracles. But your praise is greater, because you worked a marvel your mercy on the civitas all around, which is to say, you poured out your mercy on all the gentiles all around.¹³ (Augustine, En. Ps.

Here, the Jewish people are figured as a both a civitas and a populus—these are synonyms, as I have stressed, that figure the Jewish people as a political community founded upon individual commitment to its norms. To the extent that the gentiles are united in the normative commitment that makes them gentiles, they, too, may be figured as a single civitas. What is more, here again the civitas of the Jews has a civitas, Jerusalem—from which, as we have seen, they are now excluded. Finally, as an historical-interpretive matter, it was the act of exclusion that established the isomorphy between the Jews as diaspora population, scattered without a clear home, and the citizens of the civitas Dei, who are scattered over the earth but without a home (for now). Of course, Jerusalem itself was overlaid with typological and eschatological meaning, a problem to which I gestured earlier. In material reality, Jerusalem is the civitas of the civitas of the Jews, from which they have been excluded. “They are indeed two cities, literally two cities. Jerusalem is no longer inhabited by Jews. For after the crucifixion of the Lord, they were punished with a terrible punishment, and they were uprooted from that place” (istae quippe duae civitates, secundum litteram revera duae civitates. Et illa quidem Ierusalem modo a Iudaeis non incolitur. Post crucifixum enim Dominum, vindicatum est in illos flagello magno; et eradicati ab eo loco [Augustine, En. Ps. 64.1]). The violence of the act of exclusion is captured in the very circularity of the language with which Latin conveys the idea: on this reading, expulsion from one’s civitas ought to be an existential matter, and, in Augustine’s polemics against the Jews, it was. In historical time and material reality, that land is now held by Christians (data est illa terra Christianis). But Jerusalem and Babylon are also allegorical

 Augustine, En. Ps. “Benedictus Dominus, quoniam mirificavit misericordiam suam in civitate circumstantiae”. Quae est civitas circumstantiae? In una Iudaea populus Dei erat positus, quasi in medio mundo, ubi dicebantur laudes Deo, eique sacrificia offerebantur, ubi prophetia non cessabat canendo futura, quae modo videmus impleri: iste populus quasi in medio gentium erat. Attendit propheta iste, et vidit futuram Ecclesiam Dei in omnibus gentibus: et quia omnes gentes circum undique erant, quae in medio ponebant unam gentem Iudaeorum; has undique circumstantes gentes appellavit civitatem circumstantiae. Mirificasti quidem, Domine, misericordiam tuam in civitate Ierusalem; ibi passus est Christus, ibi resurrexit, ibi ascendit in caelum, ibi multa mirabilia fecit: sed maior laus tua est, quia mirificasti misericordiam tuam in civitate circumstantiae, id est, in omnibus gentibus diffudisti misericordiam tuam.

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names for civitates: the one has Christ for its king; the other, the devil.¹⁴ Of these two, Augustine avers, Babylon has priority on earth in respect of time, having been founded earlier, by Cain. The allegorical Jerusalem finds its origin in Abel, and was born later.¹⁵ This one also exists eschatologically, outside material reality, which is to say, despite its now being inhabited by Christians, it is nevertheless the place to which we long to return.¹⁶

5 Conclusion In the introduction, I suggested that Augustine performed a violent misreading of the narrative of Cain and Abel, one that allowed him to escape the ideological commitments of the Genesis narrative. In it, pastoralism and urbanism figure among a set of associated foundational polarities that distinguish Jew and non-Jew in complex patterns of descent and commitment. On my reading, Augustine performed this misreading because he wanted to figure Cain and Abel as the founders of two communities, distinguished according to the individual ethical and affective commitments of their members. The language that Augustine inherited to discuss this issue both required and encouraged him to elide the thematics of Cain as the founder of urbanism and urban culture. That said, although formed in the classical tradition and endowed with social power by institutions sustained by its thematics, Augustine was consistently and perhaps stunningly unwilling to esteem the city as a site of moral life and human flourishing. Whereas physical cities were sites of temptation, existing in typological relation to Enoch or Babylon, the civitas of God is not a physical city, nor does any civitas-qua-urbs anticipate it in any direct way. Augustine is quite rigorous that it has no locus on this earth or in this age.

 Augustine, En. Ps. 61.6: Quid est, una civitas et una civitas? Babylonia una; Ierusalem una. Quibuslibet aliis etiam mysticis nominibus appelletur, una tamen civitas et una civitas: illa rege diabolo; ista rege Christo.  Augustine, En. Ps. 61.6: Illa enim in terra quasi maior est tempore; non sublimitate, non honore. Civitas illa prior nata; civitas ista posterior nata. Illa enim incoepit a Cain; haec ab Abel.  Augustine, En. Ps. 64.1: Debemus et nos nosse prius captivitatem nostram, deinde liberationem nostram; debemus nosse Babyloniam, in qua captivi sumus, et Ierusalem, ad cuius reditum suspiramus.


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Bibliography Ando, Clifford. 2014. “Postscript: Cities, citizenship and the work of empire.” In The city in the classical and post-classical world. Changing contexts of power and identity, edited by Claudia Rapp and H. A. Drake, 240 – 256. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ando, Clifford. 2015. Roman Social Imaginaries. Language and thought in contexts of empire. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Ando, Clifford. 2016. Religion et gouvernement dans l’Empire romain. Turnhout: Brepols. Ando, Clifford. 2017. “City, village, sacrifice: The political economy of religion in the early Roman empire,” In Mass and Elite in the Greek and Roman World: From Sparta to Late Antiquity, edited by Richard Evans, 118 – 136. New York: Routledge. Ando, Clifford. 2019. “Race and citizenship in Roman law and administration.” In Xenofobia y Racismo en el Mundo Antiguo. Collecció Instrumenta, 64, edited by Francisco Marco Simón, Francisco Pina Polo, and J. Remesal Rodríguez, 175 – 188. Barcelona: Edicions de la Universitat de Barcelona. Bettenson, Henry. 2004. St Augustine. City of God. London: Penguin Classics. Boulding, Maria. 2000 – 2004. The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century. New York: New City Press. Chandezon, Christophe. 2014. “L’hippotrophia et la boutrophia, deux liturgies dans les cités hellénistiques.” In Institutions, sociétés et cultes de la Méditerranée antique. Mélanges d’histoire ancienne rassemblés en l’honneur de Claude Vial, edited by Cl. Balandier and Chr. Chandezon, 29 – 50. Bordeaux: Ausonius. Conybeare, Catherine. 2014. “The city of Augustine: On the interpretation of civitas.” In Being Christian in Late Antiquity: A Festschrift for Gillian Clark, edited by Carol Harrison, Caroline Humfress, and Isabella Sandwell, 139 – 155. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Gordon, Richard. 1990. “From Republic to Principate: priesthood, religion and ideology.” In Pagan priests: religion and power in the ancient world, edited by Mary Beard and John North, 179 – 198. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. Gordon, Richard. 1990. “The veil of power: emperors, sacrificers and benefactors.” In Pagan priests: religion and power in the ancient world, edited by Mary Beard and John North, 201 – 232. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. Hey, Oskar. “civitas.” Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, III:1229-1240. Lamirande, Emilien. “Ciuitas dei.” Augustinus-Lexikon, I:958-969. Lepelley, Claude. “Ciuis, ciuitas.” Augustinus-Lexikon, I:942-957. MacCormack, Sabine. 1998. The Shadows of Poetry. Vergil in the mind of Augustine. Berkeley: University of California Press. Manent, Pierre. 2010. Les métamorphoses de la cité. Essai sur la dynamique de l’Occident. Paris: Flammarion. Moatti, Claudia. 2001. “Respublica et droit dans la Rome républicaine.” Mélanges de l’École française de Rome, Moyen Âge 113/2: 811 – 837. Nelson, Eric. 2010. The Hebrew Republic: Jewish Sources and the Transformation of European Political Thought. Cambridge: Harvard/Belknap. Osborne, Robin. 1987. Classical Landscape with Figure. The Ancient Greek City and its Countryside. London: George Philip. Nirenberg, David. 2013. Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition. New York: W.W. Norton.

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Shaw, Brent D. 2011. Sacred Violence: African Christians and Sectarian Hatred in the Age of Augustine. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Thraede, Klaus. “Gottesstaat.” Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum, XII:58-81. Zarb, Seraphim. 1948. Chronologia enarrationum S. Augustini in Psalmos. Valetta: St. Dominic’s Priory.

Teresa Morgan

Faith and the city in the 4th century CE

Abstract: How do concepts and practices of Christian faith change when it becomes possible for Christians to live openly and interact materially with the cities of the later Roman empire? How do Christian understandings of pistis/fides change the social or spatial order of late antique cities? This paper will investigate how physical space and movement in late antique cities are described as fostering or shaping faith, and explore the competition between Christian and non-Christian practices of pistis/fides in some urban contexts.

1 Introduction The language of “faith” (πίστις, fides and their relatives in the languages that dominate our early sources) is central to Christianity as to no other ancient cult or modern religion.¹ In the earliest surviving Christian writings, followers of Christ are already known as οἱ πιστεύοντες or οἱ πιστοί, and πίστις language describes almost every aspect of the relationship between God, Jesus Christ, and Christ’s followers (Morgan 2015, chs. 6 – 7). By the early second century πίστις was so embedded in Christian thinking that Christianity had become known to its adherents simply as ἡ πίστις, “the faith” (Morgan 2015, 514). Faith was linked discursively with all the other key concepts and practices of the new cult, including grace, salvation, righteousness, holiness, love, peace, obedience, truth, new life, hope, and thanksgiving. From this unprecedented use of a single lexicon to describe almost all of a cult’s central theological, ethical, ecclesiological and eschatological ideas, one range of usage is notably absent. Before the fourth century, Christians almost never connect πίστις/fides with the physical context of worship, and never in unequivocally positive terms.² Nor are faith and place connected in the scanty early

 I will usually translate πίστις/fides as “faith” for convenience; distinguishing shades of meaning is not the main concern of this essay, but on the range of meanings in play see Morgan 2015, 5 – 7, 20 – 21. On the inappropriateness of the term “religion” to this period see Nongbri 2013; Barton and Boyarin 2017. I am grateful to Laura Nasrallah for her illuminating comments on a draft of this essay.  The evolving relationship between faith language and architecture is related to that between faith and liturgy; the latter is beyond the scope of this essay, but see below, pp. 80 – 81. References to pre-fourth-century meeting places and church buildings are often to their destruction OpenAccess. © 2020 Laetzer/Urciuoli, published by De Gruyter. the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110641813-004

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Teresa Morgan

accounts of the cultivation of significant sites, such as places associated with the life, death and resurrection of Christ or the tombs of martyrs. Seeking to explain a negative is methodologically risky: too often the identification of a puzzling absence is based on an unwarranted assumption that some positive phenomenon, attested elsewhere, must be the norm. In this case, though, there is some justification for it. Christians use πίστις/fides language so extensively and systematically that its absence from writing about space and place is intriguing. Several explanations are possible, in addition to the relative paucity of Christian discourse and visible Christian buildings and pilgrimage sites before the fourth century. As long as Christian places of worship intermittently risked attack from hostile neighbours or a nervous Roman administration, there may have been little incentive to invest much in them either materially or theologically. Alternatively or additionally, the Christian topos, borrowed from the Jewish scriptures, that the whole world, as God’s creation, illustrates God’s power and law, may have led worshippers to think that one does not need to be in any particular location to express one’s faith in God (Fuchs 1965; Novak 1998). This may be the view of a hymn from the second-century Odes of Solomon, which hints that Christians can think of practising faith as an alternative to visiting a particular place of worship. “One hour of your faith is more excellent than all days and years”, says the psalmist (4.5), adapting Psalm 84.10 (“one day in your courts [of the Jerusalem temple] is better than a thousand elsewhere”). The Jerusalem temple, of course, is no longer standing in the second century, but Christian meeting places exist and might be imaginable as “courts”.³ The psalmist, however, sees him or herself as worshipping God by exercising πίστις rather than by going to church. In another topos from an even earlier date, the faithful themselves form an edifice to the glory of God, built on foundations laid by Christ or on Christ himself as its foundation. “[L]ike a wise master builder,” says Paul, “I laid a foundation and another is building upon it … Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit

(e. g. White 1990, 118, 127– 30; MacMullen 2009, 117– 41). Places of worship are sometimes mentioned where the emphasis is on the gathering of the community rather than the building: e. g. Ign. Eph. 5.2– 3, Clem. Str. 7.5, Or. De or. 31. Sessa 2009 disposes of a longstanding misapprehension that the phrase οἶκος ἐκκλησίας in the sense of a church building predates Constantine; cf. e. g. Cypr. De mort. 6 (doubt is like being without faith in domus fidei) which refers to a community, not a building, in a back-formation from Paul’s οἰκείοι τῆς πίστεως (Gal. 6.10).  Even if, as Charlesworth 2010, xvii – xx suggests, the psalmist is a Jewish Christian who might have wanted to visit the temple and emends the verse because he no longer can.

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of God dwells in you?”.⁴ Clement of Alexandria agrees: “Christ builds his temple in people, so that he may set up the shrine of God in humanity” (Protr. 11). In this world, at least, no other city or even building is needed.⁵ Clement is also among those who emphasize that faith, in the form of prayer, can and should be practised everywhere and at all times: at home and at work, on land and sea, by day and night.⁶ Any or all of these may explain why early Christians, who made such extensive use of πίστις/fides language elsewhere, did not apparently connect it with buildings or significant locations. The fourth century, however, saw a dramatic change. Christians began to connect πίστις/fides language regularly with places of worship and, increasingly, with the act of pilgrimage and pilgrimage sites. As far as I know, this change has gone unnoticed, but it is striking and significant.⁷ It is interesting not only for historians of Christianity but for classical historians and archaeologists, who are deeply interested in the development, representation, and lived experience of space and architecture – especially civic space and architecture – throughout the Graeco-Roman world. What follows will focus on three aspects of the change: how fourth century writings talk about churches in connection with πίστις/fides, and, more briefly, how they describe pilgrimage and monastic sites.⁸

2 Πίστις/fides and churches Most of the Christian discourse that links faith with places of worship or pilgrimage relates to churches in cities. From the early fourth century it is, if not abun-

 1 Cor. 3.10, 16, transl. NAB, cf. 1 Cor. 3.11 (Christ as the first builder); Mt 21.42 (Jesus as the cornerstone); Acts 7.48; 2 Tim. 2.19.  Origen Or. 31.5, which suggests that it is especially helpful for the faithful to meet in a place of prayer, emphasizes the importance of the community (of the living, and of the living with angels and the dead) and their shared ritual rather than of the place, which he does not describe.  Strom.; Paed., 3.12.; cf. 1 Thess. 5.16 – 17; Trad. Apost. 35; Origen, Or. 31:549B.  Little work has been done on the meaning and operation of πίστις/fides in the patristic period, except in specific instances such as the relationship between πίστις and γνῶσις or the meaning of πίστις Χριστοῦ. There is a widespread and mistaken assumption that πίστις/fides discourse is thinly spread outside the New Testament.  I shall not discuss the evolution and likely symbolism of fourth century church architecture in general, nor the overall impact of Christianity on the organization and appearance of late imperial cities, both of which are well studied, except where references to them are explicitly linked with πίστις/fides.


Teresa Morgan

dant, a definite presence, especially in literary sources. The longest single account of the connection between faith and a church is also the earliest. In c.315, remarkably soon after Constantine’s 313 edict of toleration, Bishop Paulinus of Tyre completed and dedicated a grand new cathedral at Tyre which he had built on the foundations of an earlier church destroyed by non-Christians (Eus. HE 10.4.26 – 7). Paulinus invited Bishop Eusebius from nearby Caesarea to speak at the consecration, and Eusebius preserves a version of his oration in his Ecclesiastical History (10.4). Eusebius calls the cathedral, in the tradition of the Jerusalem temple (and, though not explicitly, Greek and Roman temples), “God’s house on earth”. It is no longer by hearing the spoken word, he says (10.4.5 – 6), that people learn about the power and might of God. We can now see with our own eyes that the traditions of the past were trustworthy and true (πιστὰ καὶ ἀληθή). This “church of the living God” is a “pillar and foundation of truth” (στῦλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας) (10.4.7). By it God has “proven reliable (πιστός) the record of the ancient narratives” foretelling the humbling of the mighty and exalting of the humble, and he has done this “not only for believers (οἱ πιστοί) but also for unbelievers (οἱ ἄπιστοι)” (10.4.8 – 9).⁹ The cathedral building, in its highly wrought and decorated glory, both expresses God’s power and, like a human preacher or teacher or an oral or written tradition, teaches viewers about God. It is, as Eusebius spells out at length, with multiple examples and scriptural quotations, the confirmation Christians have been waiting for that Christian πίστις is justified. Not only does it confirm the faith of the faithful: it also creates faith, or the conditions for faith, in unbelievers. A gateway to the outer enclosure of the church gives a clear view into the precincts from the street, which has the effect of “turning the faces even of outsiders to ἡ πίστις to the entrances (καὶ τῶν ἀλλοτρίων τῆς πίστεως ἐπὶ τὰς πρώτας εἰσόδους ἐ̓ πιστρέφων τὰς ὄψεις) … no-one can hurry past without having his soul mightily struck first by the … miracle” (10.4.38). By this means, Eusebius explains, Paulinus hopes to impel non-Christians to have their steps turned, purely by the sight of it, towards the entrance to the church and the entrance to the faith (10.4.39). In this passage, Paulinus’ cathedral is given a novel and specific set of duties. Together they encompass much of the work of bringing people to faith and strengthening the faithful in their faith which historically has been performed by human preaching, teaching and example, miracles, scripture, and tradition. The

 Eusebius’ language of truth and proof indicates that πίστις here is belief in the truth of the Church’s teaching; elsewhere it is also (e. g. 10.4.38, 39) Christianity itself.

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idea that a building can confirm God’s faithfulness to his people has a precedent in the building and dedication of Solomon’s temple in 1 Kings 5 and 8, but Eusebius’ account of what the Tyrian cathedral represents is rather different from the account of 1 Kings and much more dramatic.¹⁰ A much-longed-for and longawaited hope has been gloriously fulfilled; the power and faithfulness of God are all the more convincingly demonstrated; the impact even on those outside the community is proportionately greater. A description of the cathedral follows, emphasizing its beauty: the “perfect wisdom and architectural order” with which it has been designed (10.4.44), the embossed bronze and iron gates, towering walls, porches and colonnades, and the inlaid marble floor (10.4.41– 4). “Why need I say more?” asks Eusebius (10.4.44), before saying a good deal more. The building is miraculous, and miracles traditionally evoke faith. It seems clear that both Paulinus and Eusebius expect not only non-believers (10.4.38), but all the believers listening to Eusebius’ oration to be struck by the wonder of it all – and wonder too is a precursor to faith, or the increase of faith. The idea that Christian πίστις might be inspired or inflamed by the beauty of a building, however, is new.¹¹ Towards the end of the oration (10.4.61) Eusebius returns to the scriptural idea that the faithful are given to Christ by God to be built up into a metaphorical building.¹² The whole edifice of the church, in the sense of the people of God, he says, is supported by πίστις. Some people are entrusted with acting as entrances to the house of God; others are props under the first quadrangle; others form the basilica, and so on (10.4.62– 5). Catechumens can enter the building, but only the faithful (who are always the baptized) enjoy a “divine vision of what is innermost” (10.4.63). This vision plays on the commonplace identification of the faithful with the church and the church with “the faith”, but it also relies on a vision of how people interact with a physical building. The more deeply one is involved in the cult, the further one progresses into the church, and the more one’s faith is nourished by divine visions.

 Solomon’s prayer of dedication (1 Kgs. 5.19, 8.22– 24) affirms that God keeps his covenant with his faithful servants, and has kept his promise to David, but God’s promise here has been fulfilled within a generation by Solomon’s decision and there is no sense that it might not have happened or that God’s intervention was needed to make it happen.  For two other ecphrastic tours of churches, emphasizing their effects on those who approach and enter them, see Paul. Nol. Ep. 13.11– 13 (St. Peter’s in Rome) and Carm. 27– 28 (Paulinus’ own church complex at Nola).  This passage draws on the relational aspect of πίστις which dominates very early Christian writings (Morgan 2015, chs. 6 – 10): the faithful put their trust in God and Christ and are entrusted with participation in God’s ongoing action in the world.


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Eusebius gives a vivid impression of the joy and triumphalism of Christians who are enjoying official imperial toleration and (even more by the time of writing than in 315) patronage, and who could, for the first time, dare to build large, prominent, highly decorative churches in major cities and develop elaborate, publically visible rituals in them.¹³ His vision of churches as active promoters of faith, and the faith itself, soon became common currency, if it was not already. At the other end of the century another Paulinus writes in similar terms of the church complex he has built at Nola: “How, therefore, will this building provide a model by which I can cultivate myself, build myself up and renew my faculties, and establish myself as a dwelling place for Christ? (quoniam igitur nunc ista modo mihi fabrica formam / praebebit, qua me colere, aedificare, novare / sensibus, et Christo metandum condere possim?)” (Carm. 28.279 – 81). Imitatio Christi is a familiar concept to Christians; imitatio aedis is new. The idea that church buildings can act as miracles or portents to create and foster faith is taken up by Sozomen and Socrates in a story of the conversion of the Iberians by the example a Christian slave (Soz. HE 2.7, Soc. HE 1.20). Having been attracted to Christianity by her πίστις, the Iberians decide to build a church. As building proceeds, however, one of the pillars refuses to be raised. The slave prays over it all night and the next morning the pillar is found miraculously hovering in the air. As the Iberians watch, it descends and fixes itself into position. The new converts, awestruck, send to Constantine offers of friendship and a request for clergy. Their new church has miraculously confirmed their πίστις and – equally important for the historians – brought them into God’s Roman Empire. In another story from Sozomen a Christian shrine acts as a warning of faithlessness. The young future emperor Julian and his brother Gallus, while living in Cappadocia, undertake to raise a shrine over the tomb of St. Mammas. Julian’s section keeps collapsing, which is interpreted (even, allegedly, at the time) as a sign of his lack of true πίστις.¹⁴ Eusebius refers to the cathedral at Tyre as “God’s house”, and this phrase introduces a second development in the discourse connecting faith with church buildings. In the course of the fourth century, churches are increasingly understood as the principal places in which the faithful encounter God and Christ, and

 Following Eusebius see e. g. Procop. Aed. 1.1.27, 61– 4, 67 on Justinian’s Hagia Sophia in Byzantium with Pentcheva 2017. On the power of ritual to excite the cognitive-affective responses of Greek worshippers see e. g. Chaniotis 2014; Chaniotis notes the importance of location to ritual but does not discuss it.  Soz. HE 5.2. Cf. Soz. HE 2.5, 5.22 par. Soc. HE 7.17 (a baptistery prevents a man who has already been baptized from being rebaptized by draining itself of water); Ambros. Hom. adv. Aux. 10 (a church miraculously protects itself against armed men).

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going to church, consequently, as the principal way in which the faithful practise their faith.¹⁵ Church buildings are described – often in passing, as if the idea is uncontroversial – as the places for prayer, repentance, and the strengthening of one’s πίστις/fides. ¹⁶ The faithful are noted as celebrating feast days, especially, in church.¹⁷ The contents of churches are characterized for the first time as sacred by virtue of belonging in church buildings, and not to be removed.¹⁸ John Chrysostom, in his sermons, is especially fond of metaphors for churches and what the faithful do in them: he calls one church a perfumery (Hom 53 in Sanct. Ioh. Ev. 1) making visitors smell sweeter, another a pharmacy (Hom 1 in Gen. 3) to which one comes to be dispensed medicine for the spirit.¹⁹ In Augustine’s Confessions (8.2.4– 5), a church building plays an active role in a conversion. The grammarian Victorinus is interested in Christianity and is studying scripture. His and Augustine’s friend Simplicianus, however, tells him that he will not believe that Victorinus is a Christian, nor count him as one, until he has seen him in the “church of Christ”. Victorinus replies, mockingly but on sound theological principles, “Is it walls, then, that make a Christian?” One day, however, Victorinus says to Simplicianus, “Let us go to the church: I want to become a Christian.” Simplicianus is overjoyed; in church Victorinus’ real instruction begins, and eventually he makes his profession of fides … in conspectu populi fidelis Romae. ²⁰ Apparently for Simplicianus, and perhaps Augustine, it is, in significant part, walls that make a fidus. In 395, the increasing significance of church buildings attracts criticism by Jerome in a letter to Paulinus of Nola (Ep. 58). Jerome objects to the assumption that Christians need buildings (as he says Jews needed the temple²¹) as places in which to encounter God. “You are the temple of the Lord”, he insists, quoting Paul, and “the Holy Spirit lives in you” (3).²² Fides takes place between God and the faithful, wherever the faithful are; no building is needed. (One aim of

 Though some writers, notably the Cappadocians, continue to use “church” almost always to refer to the community, not a building.  E. g. Aug. Conf. 5.9.17, 8.6.13 – 14, J. Chrys. Hom. 2.1 (on repentance), 3.19, 64, 82, passim; cf. Ambros. Ep. 18.10.  E. g. Athanasius Ep. Fest. 1.10 19 Aug. Serm. 254.5, 259.6, 264.1. Preachers regularly refer, in passing, to the fact that they are in church, and not infrequently to church decorations.  Ambros. De off. 2.28(143), Hom. adv. Aux. 5.  Though he can also criticize congregations for treating the church like a shop, without respect for its sanctity (1 Cor. hom. 36.340D).  On the church as the physical place to be instructed in fides cf. Aug. Enchirid. 5.  Cf. Ep. 52.10 to Nepotian: it was appropriate, and approved by God, for the Jerusalem temple to be highly decorated, but the poverty of Christ sets a different standard for Christians.  2 Cor. 6.16; Rom. 8.11.


Teresa Morgan

this letter, to which we will return, is to persuade Paulinus that he need not make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem: if the faithful can encounter God anywhere, there is no advantage in travel.) Worse, according to Jerome, some people think that if churches are places of divine encounter, they should be decorated as lavishly as possible. There are, he says, better uses for wealth. “The true temple of Christ is the soul of the faithful person: decorate this, clothe it, make gifts to it, welcome Christ in it. What good are walls shining with jewels when Christ, in his poor, is in danger of starving to death?” (7).²³ Jerome’s reservations about church buildings are linked not only to his focus on the community but to his interest in the individual soul as the place where the worshipper meets God.²⁴ The evolution of discourses of interiority, which become increasingly important in the fourth century, is a topic in its own right, but we can infer from Jerome’s objections that, for some worshippers, on the contrary, faith increasingly involves new forms of exteriority. Building and decorating churches and making expensive gifts to them are germane to the divinehuman relationship because worshippers have come to understand Christ as inhabiting the church and themselves as encountering Christ there, as well as, or even more than, in scripture, tradition, or faithful individuals.²⁵ Jerome’s view was evidently not widely shared. By the mid-fifth century it has become commonplace to refer to churches as the places where the faithful encountered God and Christ and practised their faith. In his pastoral sermons, for instance, Peter Chrysologus (bishop of Ravenna c.433—50) takes for granted that “making an act of faith” means going to church. In Sermon 6 on Psalm 99 he says that scripture tells us to go into God’s gates with praise. “This praise is the only confession which makes us pass through the gate of faith (sola est confessio quae nos fidei facit introire per ianuam)”. A little later: “as we enter [the gate of the Church] we can make a confession of faith; we can sing hymns in its atria; and then we can utter full praises in its inner sanctuary, where the whole fullness of the Godhead resides” (transl. Ganss 2014, 55 – 6, emended). Enacting one’s faith is equated with going to church. As people progress from the catechumenate through baptism to full membership of the community, they move symboli-

 Cf. Ambros. Off. 2.28(137); later he plays on the church as building/community by saying (140) that a church’s real treasures are its poor. Elsewhere (e. g. Ep. 60.12), Jerome can approve of decorations as an expression of devotion.  For Jerome here fides, though interior, remains strongly relational. Augustine shifts the focus of interior faith (fides qua, e. g. De Trin. 13.2.5) further towards the individual’s experience, and describes the divine-human relationship more often with the language of love.  No doubt making gifts to churches is also a new form of competitive euergetism, but Jerome does not dignify this with comment.

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cally from the gate to the atrium to the inner sanctuary, and what the faithful do in church allows the fullest expression of their faith.²⁶ The revolution of the fourth century is firmly embedded in worshippers’ thinking in both east and west.²⁷ In a letter of 403/4 to Severus (Ep. 32.5), Paulinus of Nola (who never visited Jerusalem, but does not seem to have shared Jerome’s low view of churches), provides an inscription for a church which recalls the Jerusalem temple (ll. 3 – 4) and affirms the building as the location of Christian fides: aula duplex tectis, ut ecclesia testamentis: una sed ambobus gratia fontis adest. lex antiqua novam firmat, veterem nova complet; in veteri spes est, in novitiate fides. sed vetus atque novum conjungit gratia Christi; propterea medio fons datus est spatio. This atrium has two porches, as the Church has two testaments But the temple and the Church are each blessed with one fount. The old law gives strength to the new, the new completes the old; In the old was hope, in the new is faith. But old and new are joined by the grace of Christ: Which is why a fountain has been put in the space between. (ll. 15 – 20, transl. Hamman 1961, 205).

The fountain represents the grace of God in Christ which joins the old and new covenants, and the whole complex of fountain, building and epigram celebrates God, Christ and fides. It marks the church complex as a place where fides takes place, not just for community members and those who attend liturgies and listen to sermons, but for any passer-by at any time. Faith here has become something which it is appropriate to adorn equally with architecture and literature, and we can infer that it is imagined as being confirmed and strengthened by this visual representation and tribute to itself.²⁸ Unlike Paulinus, the pilgrim nun Egeria did visit Jerusalem, in c.381– 4. There she saw the sights and sites, took part in liturgies, and heard a set of catechetical lectures something like those delivered a few years earlier by Cyril,

 Cf. Valerian, Hom. 3.5: faith possesses the inmost hearts of the faithful when they assemble in church. On what faith means when it is most fully expressed by going to church see Morgan forthcoming.  Cf. e. g. Leo, Hom. 27.4 on St. Peter’s at Rome.  The church complex was also highly decorated with symbolic and educational mosaics and paintings for the education of the illiterate (e. g. Carm. 27.552– 98).


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later Bishop of Jerusalem, of which a version survives. Both Cyril and Egeria are deeply interested in the role that church buildings play in the life of the faithful: above all at the festival of Easter. Egeria (32.1– 38.1) records in detail how, day by day in Holy Week, the bishop and his congregation move between the church on Mount Eleona (where Jesus’ apocalyptic predictions are read at the place where they were traditionally made), the Imbomon (for the gospel reading of Jesus’ arrest and trial), the Martyrium (inorporating the traditional site of the crucifixion) and the Anastasis (the site of the resurrection).²⁹ In this carefully choreographed sequence, myth and ritual, past and present, heaven and earth, historical place and ecclesial space converge to maximize the experience of those present. The faithful respond: Egeria describes (34, 36.3) how people groan, weep and lament at hearing the narrative of Jesus’ betrayal; how they are moved by the readings, mourn and weep at the crucifixion (37.7).³⁰ She does not say in so many words that the surroundings increase the intensity of people’s response, but that is surely their intention and effect. “It is wonderful, says Egeria (37.7), “how stricken and groaning everyone is at the [Good Friday] readings and prayers”.³¹ One of the high points of the week is when the faithful line up to kiss the wood of the cross (36.5 – 37.2), which everyone believes (credere) brings them salvation, in the place where it stood at the crucifixion. Egeria’s is the earliest surviving account of the combined power of place and liturgy to generate an emotional response from Christian worshippers.³² Egeria does not say explicitly in this passage that fides is increased by the Holy Week liturgies, but other pilgrims describe pilgrimage as strengthening their πίστις/ fides and, given the central importance of the Holy Week rituals to Egeria and

 The bishop begins the daily liturgy by blessing first the catechumens, then the faithful, from within the rail of the Anastasis, the meeting place of earth and heaven. Egeria is impressed not only by the buildings themselves and the movement between them, but by their ornaments, the “veils and hangings”, lamps, and what are probably the clergy’s gold vestments: e. g. 25.7, 8, 24.9, 36.2.  tantus rugitus et mugitus totius populi est cum fletu, ut fortisan porro ad civitatem gemitus populi omnis auditus est.  Phrases such as “it is wonderful” and “you would hardly believe” become topoi of pilgrimage literature. They recall the reports of strange, faraway places and strange peoples in paradoxography (Morgan 2015, 161– 3), but their aim is less to tease or toy with readers’ credulity, as often seems to be the case in paradoxography, than to emphasize the value of locations and holy spaces.  Faith is at most weakly marked as an emotion in early churches (Morgan 2015, ch. 11), but is becoming more emotional through this period. Egeria does not distinguish between individual and group emotion, but in this context probably both are involved.

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her fellow-worshippers, we can assume with some confidence that the development of emotion through the week is understood as matched by a development in faith.³³ Cyril’s catechetical lectures were delivered during Lent 347/8 in the Constantinian church complex in Jerusalem, before the catechumens were baptized on Easter Sunday. Procatechesis 2 warns the catechumens that they should not approach baptism saying, “Let us see what the faithful are doing!” “Do you expect to see and not be seen?” he says. “God will be investigating you!”³⁴ A church is not a place where people go to satisfy their curiosity. It is not a place where they are in control. It is a place of mystery, divine encounter, risk and change.³⁵ The church here has become a unique environment: both safe (because God is there) and radically unsafe (because being baptized is only the beginning of one’s encounter with God).³⁶ In telling catechumens that a church is a place where they can especially hope (or risk) to encounter God, Cyril affirms the opposite of what the hymnist said in the Odes of Solomon and early Christian theology claims about the ubiquity of God in creation.³⁷ He also goes beyond the vision of Eusebius: his church not only shares the role of miracles, preaching or scripture in spreading the gospel, but has a role of its own.³⁸ Cyril makes much of the choreography of baptism (Lecture 19.2, 9, 11). First, baptizands enter the baptistery, and there, facing west (away from the church and its altar, towards the “realm of darkness” (4)), are commanded to stretch out a hand and renounce Satan. Then they turn from west to east (9), towards the body of the church and the altar, to symbolize their turning towards light and paradise, and affirm their πίστις towards God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. After baptism they enter the church for the first time as insiders. The spatial or-

 Below, pp. 87– 88.  μὴ τις ὑμῶν εἰσέλθῆι λέγων· Ἄφες, ἵδωμεν τί ποιοῦσιν οἱ πιστοί· εἰσελθὼν ἴδω, ἵνα μάθω τὰ γινόμενα. Ἰδεῖν προσδοκᾶις, τὸ δὲ ὀφθῆναι οὐ προσδοκᾶις; καὶ νομίζεις ὅ τι σὺ μὲν πολυπραγμονεῖς τὰ γιγνόμενα, Θεὸς δέ σου οὐ πολυπραγμονεῖ τὴν καρδίαν;  In the background to Cyril’s thinking may be the tradition that certain locations, such as Mount Horeb, Mount Sinai, and the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem temple, are special places of divine encounter.  For Cyril (ch. 14), the period around baptism is one of special vulnerability and therefore special requirements to behave virtuously and fix one’s mind on God. The faithful, who are secure in their relationship with God, can be more relaxed.  It also preserves orthodoxy (18.26).  On churches as changing those who visit them cf. J. Chrys. Hom De paen. 8.3, Hom. St. Ioh. Apost. 53.


Teresa Morgan

ganization of the church reflects the progress of the faithful from baptism to faithful life and the celebration of the Eucharist.³⁹ By the late fourth century the activity of churches has become a complex discursive field. Churches can behave like portents or miracles to express the power of God, or like human followers of Christ and the words of scripture to teach both outsiders and insiders about the gospel and confirm its truth. Like human communities and the “bond of faith” itself, churches offer a – even the – context in which faith is articulated, practised, and developed.⁴⁰ They create a space in which worshippers encounter God and Christ and are changed by that encounter. The movement of enquirers, catechumens, baptizands and community members through church space is beginning to reflect their journey into and in “the faith” itself. On one level, all these activities constitute an evolution within Christian thinking, extending to buildings the traditional actions of individual miracleworkers, evangelists, communities, written and oral traditions, and Godself.⁴¹ Evolution, however, can be revolutionary. The fourth century marks a major shift in Christian mentality, away from the idea of divine-human πίστις/fides as a relationship practised anywhere and everywhere, towards the idea of faith as practised above all through shared rituals in God’s house.⁴² The church has become the definitive locus and symbol of Christianity. None of these developments is inevitable. Christians might, like Jerome, have followed scripture and tradition, and never created large, elaborate places of worship or never attributed such theological and ecclesiological significance to them. One reason for the change must be the continuing dominance of πίστις/ fides in Christian mentality. For an aspect of the faith so visible and increasingly significant as churches not to be integrated into the discourse of faith would

 Cf. Prud. Cath. 5, describing being in church at night. The hymnist asks Christ to restore light to his fideles at dawn (1– 4). During the liturgy, the congregation looks up at the lamps as at the starry sky; the lights and church as a whole express the gratitude of the faithful for creation and embody God’s fides that light will come again (137– 64). Like Eusebius’ cathedral, Prudentius’ church embodies the assurance of salvation which the faithful historically associate with scripture and tradition.  Morgan 2015, 221– 3; cf. Cypr, Ep. 25.4– 5: reading the letters of Paul and other writings ‘inflames’ his fides.  The attribution of evangelical activity to churches suggests that evangelism may have been a more significant activity in the fourth century than we usually assume.  This, of course, is not the whole story: other aspects of the faith in simultaneous evolution include ideas about orthodoxy, interiority, mysticism, fideism, and the increasing identification of socially role-specific forms of faith (see Morgan forthcoming).

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surely have discomforted many theologians and worshippers. For other reasons, we need to look beyond Christianity, to the role of buildings in other cults.

3 The power of God’s house The reference to ritual, with its inescapable associations with Greek and Roman cult and Second Temple Judaism, raises an obvious question. Are the developments we have seen wholly internal to Christianity, or do they also have roots in the wider world? The idea that a church is God’s or Christ’s house on earth has obvious precedents throughout the ancient world. The idea that a building might preach, teach, convert or change potential or actual worshippers, is largely unexplored. We need not expect Greek, Roman or Jewish buildings specifically to be cultivating πίστις or fides, but the possibility that they act on worshippers in some fashion deserves consideration.⁴³ A large literature in classical history, art history and archaeology discusses what the impact of buildings, spaces and urban assemblages may have been on the inhabitants of ancient cities and visitors to them. This is a sophisticated and illuminating body of scholarship, but the focus of this essay are different. I am interested not in what modern scholars can imagine that the impact of churches or temples may have been, but with the presence or absence and content of explicit ancient discourse: what is said or not said by contemporary sources about buildings, and why. The advantage of keeping these two approaches separate is clear if, for example, we consider the difference in the volume of Greek and Roman discourse about the impact of temple buildings on viewers and that about the impact of statues, especially the effect of statues of gods on worshippers and visitors to shrines. The appearance of statues, their effect on those who view them, and their sometimes dramatic actions are discussed extensively by Greek and Latin writers.⁴⁴ The appearance and impact of buildings are men Though there is some language of πίστις/fides between gods and Greek, Roman and Jewish worshippers (Morgan 2015, 128 – 42).  See e. g. Pirenne-Delforge 2004, Mylonopoulos 2010, Bremmer 2013. The space Christians give to attacks on images correlates with the space Greek and Roman writers give to describing their impact on worshippers. Even when divine statues are described as having powers of attraction, it is unlikely that this language is a source for Christian writing about buildings, not least because explicitly attractive statues tend to be problematic in some way: see notably stories of the statue of Cnidian Aphrodite (Pliny, HN 36.20; Lucian, Amor. 3; Imag. 16, with the discussion of Nasrallah 2010, ch. 7). Though they are becoming increasingly common in this period, images in churches are not described as exercising power or attraction: perhaps a lingering effect of preConstantinian Christians’ often-voiced objection to “graven images”.


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tioned rather rarely; the difference (though little discussed and outside the scope of this essay) must be significant. It is when we recognize what contemporary discourse deals explicitly with the effects of buildings on most ancient viewers or users, and in what terms, that we will best appreciate, first, the changes in Christian discourse in the fourth century, and, secondly, how these changes relate to the surrounding world.⁴⁵ The Jewish scriptures are a natural place to look for precedents for Christian thinking about churches. In the psalms and prophetic writings, however, though God is often closely identified with his temple and is said to act from the temple or the temple mount, no passage describes the temple building itself as a power for creating or strengthening, for instance, piety or righteousness.⁴⁶ The scriptural idea that the temple broadcasts God’s light or glory is taken up by the Book of Revelation (21.23 – 6), where the New Jerusalem is said to have “no need for the sun … The nations will walk by its light…”, but (in an echo of Psalm 43.3) the city’s light is the glory of God, not a light of its own (21.23). Perhaps the nearest Jewish precedent for fourth-century Christian ideas is Josephus’ Antiquities 8.225 – 6, where Josephus reports that King Jeroboam built a sanctuary at Bethel to rival King Solomon’s new temple in Jerusalem because he was afraid that, if his people went to Jerusalem to worship, they might be captivated by the grandeur of the temple and the ceremonies performed in it and desert him.⁴⁷ Jeroboam seems to think that for a temple building to have an impact on viewers would be a mistake, and perhaps even that its grandeur risks replacing pious wonder at God with impious wonder at the works of humanity. His attitude is therefore the opposite of fourth-century Christians’, but it does suggest that Josephus thought that buildings could have an effect on piety. In her 1989 article on Eusebius’ Oration at Tyre, Christine Smith traces the precedents in Greek and Latin literature for praise of buildings and cities and shows that, from Isocrates’ Panegyricus to Libanius’ Antiochicus, nothing in Greek or Latin panegyric parallels the idea that buildings have an intrinsic  Temples are frequently described as thaumata for their architectural beauty and the wealth of their contents, but not for their effect on the piety or emotions of visitors. On the value of beautifying one’s city, including temples, to impress visitors on a human level, see e. g. D.C. 47.15.  Closest is perhaps Ps. 43.3, but it is God’s light and truth that act here, not those of the building. At Ps. 48.1– 2, Mount Zion is the “joy of all the earth”, and God is “renowned … as a stronghold” within her defences (transl. NAB): here too God is identified closely with the temple but it is God’s power that protects his people (cf. 84.2). Ezek. 43.1– 4 emphasizes the glory of the temple but not its active power on worshippers or others. On going to the temple to see the “face of God” see Neis 2013 41– 5, 73.  In an echo of early Christian and post-70 Jewish thinking, Jeroboam also tells his people (8.227– 8) that they do not need to go to Jerusalem because God can be worshipped anywhere.

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power to attract worshippers or non-worshippers or alter their response to the gods. Casting the net more widely in Greek and Latin literature, however, produces a handful of partial parallels.⁴⁸ Temple buildings, like statues, not infrequently act as portents: for instance by opening, quaking, or catching fire.⁴⁹ In On Superstition (166e), Plutarch observes that one can claim asylum by touching a temple building as an alternative to a statue. Like statues, temple buildings can represent and even channel the god’s power or protection. In the same essay (169e) Plutarch describes how the superstitious man approaches the temples of the gods as fearfully as he would the dens of bears or snakes or the lairs of sea monsters. He expresses his fear by over- or under-washing, extreme prostration to images of the gods, obsessive praying, panic, and even madness at the sound of ritual drumming. Here, though, the buildings are confined to representing their gods: the superstitious man is afraid of the gods and of buildings as places where he expects to encounter them.⁵⁰ Strabo (5.3.8), in his description of the Campus Martius in Rome, also attributes a degree of agency to buildings. Of one section he says that it is so thick with temples that they appear to be proclaiming the rest of the city incidental to their holiness (ὡς πάρεργον ἄν δόξαιεν ἀποφαίνειν τὴν ἄλλην πόλιν). Rich and famous Romans have responded by erecting family tombs in the area: the temples’ declaration that this is a holy place has apparently affected the behaviour of worshippers.⁵¹ Vitruvius (Arch. 4.9) seems to confirm this possibility with a hint that architects can design places of worship to elicit a response from worshippers. Let altars face east and always be placed lower than the images which will be in the temple, so that those who pray and sacrifice may look up to their divinity from various levels, as is appropriate to each person’s god. The heights of altars should be arranged so that those to Jupiter and the gods of heaven are as exalted as possible, and those to Vesta, Earth and Sea are placed low.

 The following examples focus on the early principate, but earlier sources would not significantly change the picture.  E. g. Diod. 17.10.2– 5; D.C. 1.8.1– 2, 17.60, 61.35.1; Plu. Vit. Alex 3.5 – 6; Suet. Aug. 94.5.  Cf. Tac. Ann. 15.36.  Origen’s Celsus (CC 7.62) claims that atheists (including Christians) cannot bear even to see temples, altars or images. Since atheists do not believe that the gods exist, this must be a reaction to the objects themselves: the antitype to what Celsus expects to be the reaction of the pious.


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Vitruvius does not describe the response he aims to provoke (awe? confidence?) but he implies that altars and temple buildings play a role in reflecting, and even enhancing the experience of those who use them.⁵² Perhaps the most promising precedents for Christian ideas, at first sight, are the concepts of numen or genius loci, which describe the religious feeling that moves worshippers unexpectedly in certain locations. Seneca, for example, describes to Lucilius (Ad Luc. 41.3) how when a person suddenly comes across a grove of ancient trees in a forest, or a natural cave under a mountain, “your soul will be shaken by a certain sense of reverence” (animum tuum quadam religionis suspicione percutiet) which indicates the presence of the divine.⁵³ If a sense of reverence is normal and appropriate in the presence of the divine, then no doubt Seneca expects people to feel it in temples too. It is not clear here, however, that it is the place itself, as opposed to the presence of the god, that has the impact on worshippers, while the fact that one can feel the presence of the divine in a natural environment suggests that the presence of human structures is not important. Recent scholarship, moreover, downplays the significance of numen loci in Roman and finds it even less important in Greek religiosity, making it an unlikely precedent for Christian thinking about churches.⁵⁴ These examples suggest that Christian thinking about churches has some roots in the world around it, but that these are, at best, slender and peripheral. Two Greek cults, however, offer more significant parallels. Initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries involves an elaborate ritual, carefully choreographed. As initiands enter the sanctuary, they are given a wreath and then led in procession to the great hall, the Telesterion. There the main rituals are conducted by priests, the senior of whom occupies a throne near the entrance to the Anaktoron, the most sacred part of the building. As neophytes leave the Telesterion they are given new clothes as a symbol of their new status (Dillon 1997, 156 – 7, 179; Myer 1999, esp. 17– 45; Nielsen 2014, 200 – 203). The staging of initiands’ progress  Cf. Arr. 4.11.2; D.C. 52.35.4– 6, both arguing in different ways that temples raised to men cannot make them divine and should not be used to attempt to influence potential worshippers. On temples as impressing potential worshippers (who in this case are disappointed by the actual cult) cf. Origen, CC 3.17. Lib., Or. 30.9 – 10, 23 makes a unique plea for the maintenance of Greek temples in villages, even when sacrifices are no longer offered in them, on the grounds that they are a focus for communities’ hopes and a place of rest. His argument, addressed to a Christian emperor, is surely influenced by Christian thinking.  Cf. Ov., Met 1.545; Fasti 2.641– 2, 3.296, 5.673 – 4; Verg., Aen. 5.744 with Phillips 1976.  Fenechiu 2008; cf. Rose 1935 (Greeks are more likely to describe a place as containing a daimon; this does not necessarily imply a different understanding of the source of one’s experience).

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through the building prefigures Cyril’s account of baptizands’ movements through a baptistery and church building in the course of baptism. One might object that what changes the status of initiands at Eleusis is less the spaces they move through than the liturgy during which they move, but a comment by Plutarch suggests otherwise. In How a Man may become Aware of His Progress in Virtue, Plutarch uses the mysteries as an image for initiation into philosophy: Just as those who are being initiated crowd together at the beginning with noise and shouting, and shove each other, but when the rites are being performed and revealed they immediately attend, in awe and silence, so too at the beginning of philosophy: around its doors you will see a lot of noise and babble and boasting, and some vulgarly try to shove their way to a reputation by force; but the man who has got inside and seen a great light, as though a shrine had been opened, adopts a different attitude of silence and amazement, and “humbly and in good order attends on” reason as on a god (ὁ δ’ ἐντὸς γενόμενος καὶ μέγα φῶς ἰδών, οἳον ἀνακτόρων ἀνοιγομένῶν, ἕ τερον λαβὼν σχῆμα καὶ σιωπὴν καὶ καὶ θάμβος ὥ σπερ θεῶι τῶι λόγωι ταπεινὸς συνέπεται καὶ κεκοσμημένος). (81d – e)

At first it seems to be the rites that change the attitude of the initiand, but in the second half of the image the building itself, when one steps inside it, changes people too. An even more striking pre-echo of fourth-century Christian thinking is inspired by the cult of Asclepius in the second century CE. Aelius Aristides’ Oration 39.1– 18 praises the well in the Pergamene temple of Asclepius. We should ornament this well with speech, he says, and address the saviour god whose work and creation it is (3). The well is in the most beautiful place on earth, in the most beautiful part in the sanctuary, and flows from the very foundations on which the temple stands, “so that this opinion and belief forces itself on everyone, that the water flows from a place that is healthy and gives health” (ὥ στε παντί γε ταύτην τὴν δόξαν καὶ πίστιν ὑπεῖναι, ὅ τι ἀπὸ ὑγιεινοῦ καὶ ὑγιείας χορηγοῦ χωρίου φέρεται) (6). Aristides describes the well not just as expressing the god’s power but as the god’s co-worker and a miracle-worker in its own right (14). The water is as superior among waters as the god is among gods (18). He even uses πίστις language: the fountain creates a belief among worshippers in the healing powers of the water. Here – whether or not Eusebius knew this speech – is surely an ancestor of Eusebius’ preaching cathedral. Here too the patterns of explicit Greek and Roman discourse add something to our understanding of Greek, Roman, and Christian religiosity alike. On some level, common sense suggests that all Greek and Roman temples, sacred boundaries, altars, sacred groves and other cult sites probably had some effect on worshippers: framing and guiding their


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experience as well as their ritual actions.⁵⁵ These effects, however, are rarely marked in contemporary sources as a matter of interest. They are explicitly marked almost entirely in connection with the cult of Asclepius and the Eleusinian Mysteries (and, admittedly, only rarely there). In most respects, mysteries and Asclepius cults are rather different from one another, but they have in common that – by healing worshippers, blessing them or paving their way to a happy afterlife – they significantly change some aspect of their adherents’ current state or expectations of the future.⁵⁶ Cults, it seems, which are particularly interested in the power of buildings are those whose worshippers are most marked as being changed by participation in ritual. The houses of the gods have a distinctive status when entering them, sleeping in them or being initiated in them changes the worshipper’s life.⁵⁷ Cults of Asclepius and mysteries, especially the Eleusinian Mysteries, share another quality: both are particularly disliked by Christians. Christians seem to have seen them as key competitors: Asclepius cults because they offer healing, mysteries because they offer blessedness in this or the afterlife, and both because, like Christianity, they are thought to change their worshippers’ lives for the better.⁵⁸ This suggests another reason why fourth-century Christians begin to discuss the active power of church buildings. It may have been a rhetorical move to position churches as more powerful, more attractive and more transformative than popular competing temples and cults. Church politics doubtless played a role in the development of Christian discourse too. Once churches were built, bishops and presbyters must have wanted the faithful to use them and be seen to use them, preferably more than other worshippers used nearby temples. They must also have wanted their congregations’ help in improving them, which led them to encourage investment (spiritual and financial) by emphasizing churches’ importance for the practice of faith. Clergy competed fiercely among themselves, so the more pilgrim sites advertized

 The absence of ancient writing about the significance or impact of sacred boundaries is a longstanding puzzle: e. g. Bergquist 1967, 126.  I am grateful to Theodora Jim for preventing me from using “salvation” language here: her forthcoming monograph on σωτηρία makes clear that hope of salvation plays at most a modest role in mystery cults, and that such salvation as is invoked in the mysteries or cults of Asclepius is this-worldly and (given the Christian connotations of salvation) better translated as “help” or “protection”.  Participation in cult, of course, affects worshippers’ lives regularly to some degree, through divine advice, protection or punishment; the difference here is one of degree rather than kind.  Remus 1983, 97 (noting that both non-Christians and Christians recognize the hostility between cults of Asclepius and Christianity); Bowden 2010, 24, 206 – 11; Gasparro 2014.

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the benefits to faith of travel, the more the clergy of other churches will have emphasized that faith could equally well be practised at home. Christian discourse about faith and churches is not, in principle, confined to churches in cities. In practice, though, it is urban churches – grand in scale, lavish in decoration (inside if not always outside), and locations of conspicuous euergetism – that Christians talk about, and it is their new ability to build such churches (together, no doubt, with the fact that many of the most spectacular temples of other cults are located in cities) that encourages Christians to talk about the power of buildings in the terms we have seen. The linking of churches with faith is essentially an urban phenomenon. We can go further, and see it as political both in the sense that it takes place in poleis and in the sense that it becomes part of the discourse of politics .⁵⁹ From Constantine’s reign onwards, Christians periodically took the opportunity to celebrate the Emperor as entrusted with the Empire by God and as Christ’s representative on earth.⁶⁰ In that context, the πίστις/fides enacted towards God and Christ in church begins to converge with the πίστις/fides which loyal subjects traditionally offer to the Emperor in other locations (Morgan 2015, 77– 89). A story of the Emperor Theodosius II, told by Socrates (HE 7.23.11– 12) underlines this connection and vividly describes how political and ecclesial space sometimes converge to form one powerful locus of faith in God, Christ and the Emperor. Some time in the year 426, Theodosius was watching the sports in the Constantinopolitan hippodrome when he heard good news of the suppression of an attempted coup against him in Ravenna. καὶ τὰ μὲν τῆς θέας ἐπέπαυτό τε καὶ ἠμέλητο· διὰ μέσου δὲ τοῦ ἱπποδρόμου πάντες συμφώνως ἅ μα αὐτῶι εὐχαριστηρίως ψάλλοντες, ἐπὶ τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοὺ Θεοῦ ἐπορεύοντο· καὶ ὅ λη μὲν ἡ πόλις μία ἐκκλησία ἐγίνετο· ἐν δὲ τῶι εὐκτηρίῶι τόπωι γενόμενοι ἐκεῖ διημέρευον. They immediately abandoned the spectacles; everyone trooped out of the hippodrome singing thanksgivings together and went to the church of God. And the whole city became one congregation, and when they had assembled in the church they spent the rest of the day there.

 Not only were Christians unusual (though not unique) in the Roman empire in not having sizeable public places of worship; they were unusual in being, in their own eyes, a community and polity (βασίλεια, πολιτεία, ἐκκλησία, γένος, ἔθνος) without conspicuous meeting places. Christians’ long self-identification as a political community, independent of their increasingly close links with the Empire, may be one reason why the basilica form was popular for fourthcentury churches.  E. g. Eus. Laus Const. 2.1– 3.1; cf. Ambros. De fide 1 prol. 2.


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At a moment of high political emotion the city becomes a congregation, its principal church becomes a triumphant symbol of empire, and the city/church becomes a prime locus and expression of politico-religious faith.

4 Faith on pilgrimage Early Christian pilgrimage is much discussed, and the idea that pilgrimage may be an expression of faith has not gone unnoticed, though it has not been explored systematically. The language of faith on pilgrimage has particular interest, however, in the context of Christian discourse about πίστις/fides as a whole. Several fourth-century sources indicate that pilgrimage was undertaken both as an expression of faith and in the hope of increasing the quantity or quality of one’s faith.⁶¹ When the pilgrim Egeria, for example, reaches Edessa (19.5), the local bishop, Eulogios, says, “My daughter, I can see what a long journey this is on which your fides has brought you … So please let us show you all the places Christians should visit here.” In 394, a group of seven monks from Palestine travelled down the Nile to see some of its holy sites. In the account of their journey, Historia Monachorum in Aegypto (1.19) they say, We have come … from Jerusalem for the good of our souls, so that what we have heard with our ears we might perceive with our eyes – for the ears are naturally less trustworthy than the eyes – and because very often forgetfulness follows what we hear, whereas the memory of what we have seen is not easily erased but remains imprinted on our minds like a picture.

The monks are invoking a long tradition that autopsy is the best basis for trust or belief, including trust or belief in the divine and the truth of a tradition (Morgan (2015) 39 – 45, 241– 6). They are confident that autopsy will improve their souls. Pilgrimages are made over long and short distances to a huge range of destinations, but many of the best-known in this period are to Jerusalem and its environs. It is not only physical seeing that is enabled by travel. Jerome (Ep. 108.10.2) reports that during his protégée Paula’s first visit to Bethlehem, real and spiritual vision blurred and she saw “with the eye of fides … a child

 The tombstone of Abercius of Hierapolis (Wischmeyer 1980, 24– 6, cf. Thonemann 2012) records that Abercius made a journey to Rome and ‘Πίστις everywhere led the way’ (l. 11). In addition to being an early example of the personification of πίστις, this may be an early example of faith prompting a pilgrimage if we can call the aim of the journey pilgrimage in at least an informal sense. (The tombstone (ll. 6 – 9) reports that Abercius went to see the city, the Christian community and perhaps a physical as well as human church.)

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wrapped in swaddling clothes, crying in the Lord’s manger.” Since seeing is regarded as an especially reliable basis for conviction, it is a reasonable inference that Jerome understands Paula’s vision as both expressing and confirming her faith. The eye of faith is also evident throughout Egeria’s journey. Everywhere she travels she finds beautiful and wonderful sites and churches, while all the monks she meets are helpful, kind, hospitable and informative.⁶² Monks receive pilgrims in their cells and bless them; Egeria’s response is gratitude, thanks and admiration.⁶³ The landscape through which she travels, impelled by fides, is an idealized one, in which faith is everywhere illustrated and enacted.⁶⁴ The eye of faith can even be extended beyond the person who travels. Egeria explains (5.8) that she writes her account of her travels in order to help her sisters visualize all the places where the events of scripture occurred. The implication is that their fides, like hers, is hungry for direct experience of the place, and is confirmed and fortified by what she sees.⁶⁵ As we have seen, not everyone thinks pilgrimage either necessary or desirable. Much of Jerome’s Letter 58 to Paulinus is an attack on the idea of pilgrimage: I do not presume to enclose the omnipotence of God within a tight boundary, nor to restrict One whom heaven cannot contain to a small patch of earth. [But] every believer (credens) is judged not by the variety of places he inhabits but according to the merit of his fides; and true worshippers worship the Father neither in Jerusalem nor on Mount Gerizim, because ‘God is spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4.24)…” (58.3)

Those, says Jerome (3), who say, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” (Jer. 7.4) should listen to the words of Paul: “You are the temple of the Lord” (2 Cor. 6.16). “Access to the courts of heaven is as easy from Britain [the farthest, least spiritual place he can imagine] as it is from Jerusalem…” (3).⁶⁶ “The true temple of Christ is the soul of the faithful person”, he insists (7).

 Paula, according to Jerome (Ep. 108.14) goes further and throws herself at the feet of the “saints” she meets on pilgrimages, seeing Christ in each one.  E. g. 3.1, 3.7, 5.12, 11.1.  Egeria and the earlier fourth-century Itinerarium Burdigalense (e. g. 594, 595, 599), like mainstream Greek and Roman writers, regularly mark the places and monuments they visit as wonders, without describing them as having a specific effect on pilgrims.  Touch is another sense which is often regarded as fundamentally trustworthy (Morgan 2015, 49, 41– 2); Egeria also attests to the importance of touching to the faithful, who pick up stones in places they visit (V3), and can even bite off a piece of the true cross in their enthusiasm (37.2).  Between the time of Hadrian and Constantine, the site of the resurrection was a cult of Jupiter, but “polluting our holy places” had no effect on our “fides in the passion and in the resurrection” (3).


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The length at which he writes is powerful testimony to how deeply involved both holy places and buildings and pilgrimage to places and buildings had become as an expression and a means of developing faith. Gregory of Nyssa’s Letter 2 to the otherwise unknown Censitor (PG 461009 – 46) offers a series of reasons not to go on pilgrimage, especially not to Jerusalem, which include the dangers of travel (particularly for women) and the prevalence of theft, murder, and other moral and practical dangers in the Holy Land (2.6 – 7). The Holy Spirit, he says, is everywhere, and Christians (2.8 – 9, 16 – 17, 19) receive the gifts of the Spirit in proportion to their πίστις, not according to their location. Nor has travel to Jerusalem increased his own πίστις towards Christ (2.15).⁶⁷ Gregory, like Jerome, strengthens our impression that, for many by the late fourth century, πίστις/fides was increasingly connected with place and, in particular, that it was thought to be most fortified and to yield the most spiritual gifts in Jerusalem. The discourse connecting πίστις/fides and pilgrimage is closely related to that connecting faith and churches, but has its own color. Pilgrims are impelled to go on pilgrimage by faith and holy sites are imagined as places where πίστις or fides is justified or confirmed and strengthened; where God, Christ and the Spirit are especially encountered and their gifts received. Several sources refer to the extravagant joy which the first sight of Jerusalem stimulates in pilgrims looking forward to the gifts they may receive there (Greg Nyss. Ep. 3.3; Joh. Ruf. Vit. Petr. Hib. 38). By no means all pilgrimage sites, of course, are in cities, but, as in the case of churches, some of the most significant and most celebrated are.. Travel enriches the imaginative participation of the faithful in the stories of Jesus and his followers. It can never have become (at any period) indispensible to faith, because it can never have been possible for all the faithful to travel.⁶⁸ The enthusiasm, though, with which increasing numbers of people did travel significant distances, to Jerusalem and other places, and report on their travels, must also have fuelled interest in smaller scale journeys such as visits to local shrines. Between them, going to church and going on pilgrimage must have

 Cf. Ep. 17.1– 14; on similar arguments in other fourth-century authors see Brakke 2001. Augustine, notoriously, in CD does not explicitly discuss pilgrimage or the importance or otherwise of the holy places of Jerusalem, but the book assumes that no earthly city can be an ideal context for faith, so his view is presumably close to that of Jerome and Gregory.  Neither did church buildings, though from the fourth century it must have been increasingly possible for most worshippers to reach one. Canon 21 of the Council of Elvira (if this council did take place in c. 305/6, which is uncertain), provides for the punishment of those who do not go to church for three consecutive Sundays, but only in cities.

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helped to strengthen faith in local as well as global networks of journeys, places and spaces of faith.

5 The desert a city Desert monasticism may seem an unlikely coda to an essay about faith and the city. Monasticism, however, had a complex relationship with cities, and the connection between cities, monasticism and πίστις/fides deserves a brief mention. Not all monks lived in deserts. An anonymous visitor to fourth-century Oxyrhynchus observes that it hosts so many monks that the whole city has been turned into one great Christian ἐκκλησία. “It is impossible to do justice to the marvels which we saw there. For the city is so full of monasteries that the very walls resound with the voices of monks … all the citizens as a body are catechumens and πιστεύοντες, so that the bishop is able to bless the people publicly in the street” (Lives of the Desert Fathers 5.1– 4, transl. Russell 1981, 67.). At Oxyrhynchus, the faithful have turned the whole city into a church. The lifelong quest of monks who retreat to the desert is to practise and perfect their faith (usually glossed in hagiographies as faithfulness or obedience; see Morgan 2015, passim). In the desert, however, some monks immediately form quasi-cities. Athanasius’ Life of Antony (14 (13)-15 (14)) tells how Antony inspired so many others to become monks that “the desert was turned into a city by monks” who, having left their earthly cities, registered for citizenship in heaven.⁶⁹ This passage is usually read as ironic, even paradoxical, but the discourse we have seen about faith and cities suggests another interpretation. By the middle of Antony’s life, cities and discourses of faith are becoming deeply intertwined. Perhaps, for some monks, building a city in the desert is not merely an unfortunate accident, but an expression of the importance of cities as places where faith can be developed. Others (including Antony himself (Vit. 49) are torn between the monastic city and the call of solitude, and repeatedly move further into the desert, away from their communities, only to be pursued by fellow monks and others who want to visit them (presumably to confirm and develop their own faith and perhaps to create a new city). Cities are so ingrained in late antique thinking, as environments both natural for human beings and potentially ideal, that it comes naturally to writers of the fourth century and later to think of faith, even extreme and world-denying faith, as taking place

 Vit. Ant. 14 (the political language is characteristically Greek: the Coptic version says simply that the desert filled with monks); cf. 21 (the desert as ideal city).


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in some type of city, and the city as a natural, even the natural environment for faith.

6 Conclusion In the modern western world, religious buildings (across many traditions) and places with religious associations are widely seen as attractive, numinous and potentially transformative. By their location, their architectural beauty and/or their associations, they speak both to the curious and to the reverent. Once inside, visitors expect to find them mysterious and powerful. Some visitors do not expect to remain fully in control of their experience; some hope to encounter the divine and in some way to be inspired or changed. This cluster of discourses is substantially the creation of fourth century urban Christians.⁷⁰ The idea, explicitly articulated, that church buildings, places of pilgrimage, and certain other spaces have the ability to create, alter and increase πίστις/fides springs into being and spreads with remarkable speed in the years after 313. Fourth-century churches and other significant locations become central to the thinking of many, if not all worshippers. Church buildings attract ἄπιστοι to themselves, taking over some of the traditional functions of miracles, preaching, scripture, and the example of the faithful in drawing people to Christ. They act as a proof of the reliability of revelation and scripture, giving traditional assurances an encouragingly solid superstructure. They take catechumens step by step from curiosity to their affirmation of faith at baptism and beyond. Movement within them differentiates the faithful from the unbaptized and clergy from lay people. For the first time, the faithful expect to encounter God, Christ in certain physical locations, and churches become the principal places in which the faithful practise the complex of attitudes, relationships, and actions that constitute faith.⁷¹ In places of biblical and historical significance, above all in Jerusalem, churches and symbolic locations combine with stories of the past in a powerful fusion of heavenly and earthly space, history and theology. Travel to such places becomes increasingly explicitly an expression, test, and proof of faith: a new way of affirming the gospel.

 Later centuries draw periodically on it to reinvent churches as places that preach, teach, convert, challenge and deepen the faith of the faithful (see e. g. Whyte 2018 on the nineteenth century, though he does not note what are surely the patristic roots of the thinking of the Tractarians and their followers).  Cf. Lact. De mort. persec. 2.19 – 30 on St. Peter’s, Rome as templum fidele.

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By manipulating the emotions of the faithful, not least through liturgy, churches and other significant places help to make πίστις/fides a more emotional and interior concept, experienced more intensely in the heart and mind of the believer (Yasin 2012). We have barely touched here on the growing importance of liturgy and liturgical choreography, but Cyril’s Mystagogical Lecture 23, on the Eucharist, hints at a developing discourse of location-specific ritual and πίστις. When you are invited to the communion table, says Cyril (23.20), do not judge what you receive with your physical palate but with πίστις, because you are bidden to taste not physical bread and wine but the body and blood of Christ. There are signs that the Eucharist is becoming a more mystical and more fideistic religious experience in the new, vast, dim, decorative, fragrant, lamplit halls of the great fourth-century churches. In extreme cases or at moments of high emotion, meanwhile, whole cities can become identified with congregations or churches as locations of faith, emphasizing in Christian minds the takeover of the earthly Roman empire by God and the reorientation of the earthly empire to God through faith. The biblical and theological objections even of such eminent authorities as Gregory, Jerome and Augustine had no power to stem the tide of change.

Bibliography Barton, Carlin A. and Boyarin, Daniel. 2017. Imagine No Religion: How modern abstractions hide ancient realities. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Bergquist, Birgitta. 1967. The Archaic Greek Temenos. A study of structure and function. Lund: CWK Gleerup. Bowden, Hugh. 2010. Mystery Cults in the Ancient World. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Brakke, D. 2001. “Jewish flesh and Christian spirit in Athanasius of Alexandria.” Journal of Early Christian Studies 9.4: 453 – 81. Bremmer, Jan. 2013. “The agency of Greek and Roman statues from Homer to Constantine.” Opuscula. Annual of the Swedish Institutes at Athens and Rome 6: 7 – 21. Chaniotis, Angelos. 2014. “Staging and feeling the presence of God: emotion and theatricality in religious celebrations in the Roman East.” In Panthée: Religious Transformations in the Graeco-Roman Empire, edited by Laurent Bricault and Corinne Bonnet. Leiden: Brill: 169 – 89. Charlesworth, James. 2010. The Odes of Solomon. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Dillon, Matthew. 1997. Pilgrims and Pilgrimage in Ancient Greece. London: Routledge Elsner, John and Rutherford, Ian, eds. 2005. Pilgrimage in Graeco-Roman and Early Christian Antiquity: Seeing the gods. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Fenechiu, Carmen. 2008. La notion de numen dans les textes littéraires et épigraphiques. Cluj-Napoca: Mega. Fuchs, J. 1965. Natural Law: A theological investigation. Dublin: Gill and Son.


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Ganss, George E. 2014. St. Peter Chrysologus and St. Valerian, Selected Sermons. Washington DC: Catholic University Press of America. Gasparro, Giulia Sfameni. 2014. “Après Lux Perpetua de Franz Cumont: quelle eschatologie dans les ‘cultes orientaux’ à mystères?” In Panthée: Religious Transformations in the Graeco-Roman Empire, edited by Laurent Bricault and Corinne Bonnet. Leiden: Brill: 145 – 67. Hamman, Adalbert-G. 1961. Early Christian Prayers Chicago: H. Regnery Co. MacMullen, R. 2009, The Second Church: Popular Christianity A.D. 200 – 400. Atlanta: SBL. Morgan, Teresa. 2015. Roman Faith and Christian Faith. Πίστις and fides in the early Roman Empire and early churches. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Morgan, Teresa. forthcoming. The Invention of Faith: The evolution of Πίστις and fides in early churches and the later Roman Empire. Myer, Marvin W. 1999. The Ancient Mysteries; A sourcebook of ancient texts. Philadelphia: Penn University Press. Mylonopoulos, J. 2010. Divine Images and Human Imaginations in Ancient Greece and Rome Leiden: Brill. Nasrallah, Laura. 2010. Christian Responses to Roman Art and Architecture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Neis, Rachel. 2013. The Sense of Sight in Rabbinic Culture: Jewish ways of seeing in late antiquity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Nielsen, Inge. 2014. Housing the Chosen: The Architectural Context of Mystery Groups and Religious Associations in the Ancient World. Turnhout: Brepols. Nongbri, Brent. 2013. Before Religion: A history of a modern concept. New Haven: Yale University Press. Novak, David. 1998. Natural Law in Judaism Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pancheva, Bissera V. 2017. Hagia Sophia. Sound, Space and Spirit in Byzantium. University Park: Pennsylvania University Press. Phillips, Robert. 1976. “A note on Vergil”s Aeneid 5.744.” Hermes 104: 247 – 9. Pirenne-Delforge, Vinciane. 2004. “Image Des Dieux et Rituel dans le discours de Pausanias: de l’ “axiologie” à la theologie.” Mélanges de l’École Française de Rome. Antiquité, 116: 811 – 25. Remus, Harold. 1983. Pagan-Christian Conflict over Miracle in the Second Century. Cambridge, MA: The Philadelphia Patristic Foundation Ltd. Rose, H. J. 1935. “Numen inest: “animism” in Gk and R religion.” Harvard Theological Review 28: 237 – 57. Russell, N. 1981. The Lives of the Desert Fathers. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Sessa, Kristina. 2009. “Domus ecclesiae: rethinking a category of ante-pacem Christian space.” Journal of Theological Studies 60: 90—108. Smith, Christine. 1989. “Christian rhetoric in Eusebius’ panegyric at Tyre.” Vigiliae Cristianae 43: 226 – 47. Thonemann, Peter. 2012. “Abercius of Hierapolis: Christianization and social memory in late antique Asia minor.” In Historical and Religious Memory in the Ancient World, edited by Beate Dignas and R R R Smith. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 257 – 79. White, L. Michael. 1990. Building God’s House in the Roman World: Architectural adaptation among pagans, Jews and Christians. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

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Whyte, William. 2017. Unlocking the Church: The lost secrets of Victorian sacred space. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wischmeyer, W. 1980. “Die Aberkiosinschrift als Grabepigramm.” Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum 23: 22 – 47. Yasin, Ann Marie. 2012. “Sacred space and visual art.” in The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity, edited by Scott Fitzgerald Johnson. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 935 – 69.

Heidi Wendt

Intellectualizing religion in the cities of the Roman Empire Abstract: This essay examines early Christian literature as evidence for a trend in religious movements with an increasingly literary or otherwise intellectual profile. Self-proclaimed authorities on Christ clustered in the urban spaces of the empire where they joined and rivaled assorted aspiring specialists who boasted a range of skills and, in some cases, derived wisdom or mysteries from the same writings. All partook in a broader phenomenon of religious innovation that was propelled by urban resources: the book industry, a growth in libraries, the heightened status of writings, and a widespread enthusiasm for paideia. I argue that Christian authors are prime, if unexceptional, examples of this more general religious development. Thus situated, their writings hold important clues for theorizing the activities of non-Christian religious actors and groups that are less well attested in this early period.

1 Introduction In the first book of his Against the Heresies (Haer. 1.7.1– 2), Irenaeus denounces Marcus, a follower of Valentinus, as a “skilled magical imposter” (magicae imposturae peritissimus) who deceived many with his apparent ability to work wonders. The tricks that Irenaeus attributes to Marcus—altering the color of a cup of wine to give the impression of an efficacious invocation, for instance—are well known; less so, perhaps, their alleged source, the Paignia of Anaxilaus, a figure known variously from earlier sources as a physician, a Pythagorean philosopher, a magician, and the author of several writings about the “magical” properties of minerals, herbs, and other natural materials.¹ These paignia, Irenaeus reports, Marcus combined with the wickedness of those called magi as well as a smattering of Christian texts to achieve his proprietary heretical brew, one that proved especially intoxicating to wealthy women. Irenaeus’s tone, equal parts derisive and hyperbolic, has led many a translator to render paignia as buffooneries or tricks, with the implication that Marcus traded in cheap magicians’ gimmicks; there can be little doubt that the heresiologist understood Αnaxilaus and his legacy in such terms. However, this lan See, e. g., Pliny, Nat. 19.19 – 20, 25.10, 154, 28.180, 32.141, 35.175. OpenAccess. © 2020 Laetzer/Urciuoli, published by De Gruyter. the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110641813-005

This work is licensed under


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guage points in a more specific direction, namely, to Marcus’s possession of a technical manual intended for practical application. A woman named Salpe, whom, like Anaxilaus, a handful of Greco-Roman authors connect with knowledge about the special properties of natural substances, was the putative author of a work on the topic known by the same title.² The term paignia also appears in the Greek Magical Papyri as the heading for twelve remedies and tricks ascribed to Democritus that require little skill and access to only mundane ingredients.³ Comparing the respective paignia of Salpe and Democritus, James N. Davidson (1994, 592) remarks that both collections seemed to have shared the distinctive quality of simplicity, “which provides a stark contrast with the usual convoluted procedures and dense formulaic complexity of ancient medicine and magic.” This language, he concludes, evoked not mean tricks or nonsense per se, but an easy task or “child’s play.” In such literary contexts, paignia served as a title for the wisdom or spells or pharmaka or divinatory techniques of some renowned sage; a how-to manual of sorts, for beginners. Marcus’s alleged consultation of the Paignia of Anaxilaus is but one of many indications that Christian authors of the second century participated in a literary landscape that encompassed many more writings than Jewish and Christian scripture. On the one hand, there is nothing surprising about this observation. It is well known that our earliest “Christian” author, the apostle Paul, was well versed in contemporary philosophy, as were some, if not all, of the authors of the (later) canonical gospels and certainly those of many non-canonical writings and heresiological literature. On the other, we are only beginning to appreciate how thoroughly certain Christians were imbricated in this fuller literary matrix. Their writings do not merely reflect the general intellectual climate of the day but also exhibit active, often technical engagement with specific sources.⁴ Of course, one might conclude that, as in the case of Marcus or his philosophically attuned Valentinian associates, such textual dalliances were an index of heretical tendencies, but this conclusion would overlook the larger point that literate Christians on either side of the “orthodoxy” divide were both highly aware and made ample, if varied, use of assorted writings available to them. Likewise, the character, form, and purpose of their literary activities matched those of contemporaneous social actors, particularly ones who aspired to some form of religious or intellectual expertise.  FGrHist 572 F 5; Athenaeus, 7.322a; Pliny, Nat. 28.18, 23, 38, 66, 82, 262, 32.135, 140.  For discussion, including a possible connection between Paignia of Democritus and Anaxilaus, see Dickie 2001, 118 – 19.  For example, the author known as Hippolytus of Rome’s extensive engagement with astrological texts and epistemologies (Berzon 2016, 98 – 126).

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This volume’s focus on ancient cities as sites of religious activity furnishes an opportunity to consider not only the range of religious institutions and materially attested spaces that comprised urban topographies—everything from monumental temples to mithraea and other gathering places for voluntary associations to household shrines—but also more ephemeral religious social formations that cities supported. If one of our emphases is on how religion contributed to or promoted socio-spatial and temporal order in the cities of the Roman world, I wish to approach our topic from another perspective. I am more interested in their comparatively disordered spaces, those that existed between religious activities that unfolded in institutions funded by the state and overseen by regular personnel, and the largely symmetrical, if flexible, practices of domestic cult. For cities of the empire served not only as sites for articulating relations of power and order, new civic statuses, and so forth, but also as especially wellequipped theaters of possibility for aspiring specialists lacking institutional affiliation, who capitalized on particular features of their urban environments to claim other modes of distinction and legitimacy. Our appreciation for the interests, tactics, and impact of these self-authorized or freelance religious experts has grown considerably in the last decades as the result of a growing interest in the contributions of individual agents to other currents of religious diversity and change occurring under the empire (Rüpke and Spickermann, 2012; Rüpke 2013). Interestingly, if unsurprisingly, the methodological reorientation that has occurred for other subsets of religion in the Roman world has had less of an impact on the study of early Christianity, which remains primarily the study of an emergent community or tradition in favor of enterprising individuals. Elsewhere I have situated Christian experts of the first two centuries within the wider milieu of freelance religious expertise and proposed that their writings might shed light on the development not only of Christian forms of religion but also on phenomena that appear to have arisen from the same settings. However, the latter are not as well attested until later periods, when they had already coalesced into more institutional forms (Wendt 2016). I wish to stress from the outset that the justification for this comparison is not simply that Christian actors and phenomena were like others in their environments, a point made repeatedly with respect to any number of characteristics; rather, it is my contention that Christians were examples, fairly unexceptional ones, of a broader swath of religious activity. In this essay I am interested generally in individual constructions of religious authority and literate intellectual practices, particularly the interpretation of “authoritative” writings and the production of new ones. Among assorted kinds of would-be religious specialists,


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textual engagement, writing, or even invoking a text notionally as the basis for one’s knowledge or skills functioned as hallmarks of real expertise. Christian writings, as a matter of their survival, constitute an especially rich literary record of this relationship between textuality and pretensions to religious authority, but they were not unique. Indeed, the sheer quantity of such literature known or known of from this period is remarkable, as are the numerous occasions on which texts that promoted individual expertise were confiscated or legislated against, with increasingly severe consequences (Sarefeld 2012; Howley 2017). Notwithstanding numerous points of contact between early Christian writers and their approximate literary contemporaries, scholars of early Christianity tend to stop short of considering the former’s literature, especially (later) canonical texts, as products of the same social processes and interests that gave rise to these other texts from the same period. In this essay my aim is thus to restore all early Christian literature to an equal footing both internally, with respect to traditional divisions between canonical and non-canonical writings, and also externally, so that it can be viewed alongside other writings seemingly implicated in a wider phenomenon of self-authorized religious expertise. My interest is ultimately less in the writings per se, than in the individual authors who composed and enlisted them. Therefore, I situate early Christian writers within a wider matrix of intellectualizing religious experts who drew on a standard repertoire of intellectual skills and habits, and, in some cases, on the same writings, to common ends. These dynamics were not exclusive to urban settings, but there is reason to think that the increasingly cosmopolitan cities of the empire furnished resources that were highly conducive to the development of religious offerings with a distinctly intellectual profile.

2 Aspiring specialists and their texts In his recent book, Who Were the First Christians? Dismantling the Urban Thesis, Thomas A. Robinson calls into question what he characterizes as the “universally accepted thesis of the urban character of early Christianity, …that Christianity was an urban religion in the first three centuries.”⁵ To the contrary, he argues, the empire’s overall rural population so greatly exceeded the urban that “if Christianity had even a most minimal success in the countryside, gaining but a small percentage of the rural inhabitants, the number of rural Christians easily

 The influence of the urban thesis is vast but of note are Meeks 1983; Stark, 2006; Harrison and Welborn, 2015, 2016, 2018.

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could have equaled—or indeed surpassed—that of urban Christians in the early period” (Robinson 2017: 19, cf. 39). The constant assertion of Christianity’s urban profile thus risks distorting the complexion of its pre-Constantinian Christian population, which must have included a significant rural contingent in keeping with the empire’s general population distribution between cities and the countryside. One might conclude from my preliminary remarks affirming the significance of urban settings for Christian literary production that the approach I advocate in this essay sits uneasily with Robinson’s important corrective; in fact, the opposite is true. What we glimpse of early “Christianity” through writings is, I suspect, a highly specialized niche within a cluster of social formations that ranged from exorcists invoking Christ, to people prophesying in his name, to semi-literate specialists who inserted him into spells or lots or horoscopes alongside other deities and sages, to voluntary associations that honored him, to more scholastic groups formed around texts featuring Christ or a cognate figure like Savior, and much more in between. That we possess and can more easily make sense of the writings may grant them far more weight, power, and representation than they actually held in this early period. It is striking that Pliny’s interrogations of Christians in the second decade of the second century uncover no mention of literary engagement (Ep. 10.96.7),⁶ and even literate authors such as Justin hint at expressions of Christian religiosity—exorcism, in this case (2 Apol. 5.6)—that may have operated in distant relation to, if not entirely apart from, texts.⁷ There can be no doubt that authors of this period insist that authoritative writings were indispensable to the Christian activities they present as normative, but this is precisely what one would expect of figures operating within an intellectualizing niche who are, in essence, arguing for their own indispensability. My main critique of Robinson’s book—apart from the tricky matter of how one even identifies Christians at a time when this language is used inconsistently as a term of self-identification (Kotrosits 2015, 32– 45)—is that the concept of con Pliny reports on meetings before dawn that featured singing hymns to Christ, swearing oaths, and eating. Of course, the details he reports do not preclude other activities involving texts, but these should not just be inferred for their omission from his account.  Although exorcism could certainly be performed in conjunction with texts, as seems to be the case in Josephus’s account of Eleazar (AJ 8.45– 48), a renowned Judean exorcist of the Flavian period who employed in his craft incantations against illness and forms of exorcism that were composed by Solomon (ἐπῳδάς τε συνταξάμενος αἷς παρηγορεῖται τὰ νοσήματα καὶ τρόπους ἐξορκώσεων κατέλιπεν, οἷς οἱ ἐνδούμενοι τὰ δαιμόνια ὡς μηκέτ᾿ ἐπανελθεῖν ἐκδιώκουσι). The contemporary story appears anachronistically in the Antiquities as evidence of Solomon’s great and enduring wisdom in a section that also attributes to him one thousand and five books of odes and songs and three thousand books of parables and similitudes.


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version underpinning his case for the rural dimension of Christian growth lacks this sort of differentiation, as though early Christianity was a monolithic entity whose reconstruction has suffered principally from an imbalanced topography. His arguments for the significance of rural populations in accounting for Christian numbers issue an invitation to reconsider the full range of possible “Christian” social formations in the first three centuries with a view to parsing these in accordance with the differential roles that texts might have played in their activities, if they played a role at all.⁸ Elsewhere I have shown that the imperial period witnessed (and also stimulated) a rise in the prominence and influence of would-be experts in all manner of specialty, including philosophy, history, rhetoric, paideia, medicine, and law (Wendt 2016; cf. Eshleman 2012). Many within this wider field of actors alleged expertise in matters of religion, in the sense that their practices, which might overlap with those of other kinds of specialists to a significant degree, are distinct for the direct involvement of and attribution of agency to gods and other divine beings. The edges between these putative areas of expertise were hazy: many experts balanced religious skills or practices with other dimensions of their programs, to greater and lesser degrees. The expansion of religious offerings purveyed by self-authorized specialists coincided and overlapped with an effervescent literary culture at Rome and in other cities of its empire, fueled by an abundance of public and private libraries as well as a thriving commercial book industry (Johnson and Parker 2009; Johnson 2010; König, Oikonomopoulou, and Woolf 2013, esp. 279 – 417). In keeping with the heightened status of writing under the empire (Ando 2000; MacRae 2016; Rüpke 2016), aspiring experts of all stripes wielded sundry intellectual tools—philosophical discourses, textual exegesis, and the composition of new writings—to impress audiences who valued these offerings. In the satires of Petronius, Juvenal, Lucian, and Apuleius one observes considerable demand for the religious expert whose initiations were gleaned from ancient wisdom or prophecies, or whose healing methods aligned with contemporary currents in medicine and philosophy. While few inhabitants of the Roman world possessed the abilities required to occupy such a specialized niche, those who did wasted no opportunity to display their learning.

 Here, I have in mind a very flexible notion of any and all social formations involving the figure of Jesus Christ, which could range from scanty references in sources such as Greek so-called magical papyri to references to exorcisms performed in Christ’s name to networks comprising literate experts such as Paul or, in the second century, Justin, Ptolemy, or Marcion (Wendt 2016: 215 – 16). For theorization of such possibilities, see Stowers 2013. Henceforth I will use “Christian” without qualification in this broad sense.

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Religious experts with pronounced intellectual tendencies are prominent in the late Classical and Hellenistic evidence (Edmonds 2013, 112 – 16), but they become more visible and, evidently, more numerous under the empire. So, too, did writings that either enabled or plausibly arose from this sort of religious activity. This relationship between text and authority is evident in everything from seemingly insignificant details—Lucian’s Alexander (Alex. 11) unearths an oracle, purportedly Sibylline, foretelling the advent of a prophet with his own biography, thus legitimating the establishment of his oracular temple in Abonoteichus—to the partial or full survival of collections such as the epistles of Paul and of Apollonius of Tyana, the Sibylline and Chaldean Oracles, the Orphic Rhapsodies, the Oneirocritica of Artemidorus, the Hermetica, the so-called Greek Magical Papyri, various collections of lots, and the Nag Hammadi codices (Heineman 2018). To this list should be added a number of texts that receive mention in our ancient sources, for instance, writings attributed to Pythagoras, which enjoyed renewed interest in the first centuries BCE and CE, books of the Persian sage Hystaspes (Justin, 1 Apol. 44.12), or almanacs attributed to Thrasyllus and Petosiris (Juvenal 6.575 – 79), famous astrologers hailing from Egypt. The dating of much of this literature is uncertain, in some cases impossible to ascertain with precision. Yet all are thought to have been composed no earlier than the first century BCE, most in the first or second centuries CE, and to have circulated within and beyond the latter window (Wendt 2016: 136 – 41). In addition to texts that are either at least partially extant or mentioned in another ancient source, many authors hint at robust literatures devoted to the topics about which they write. In the preface to his own “definitive” treatment of dream interpretation, for example, Artemidorus legitimates the work to follow in contradistinction to a literary subculture that has, in his estimation, run amuck: For nearly all our recent predecessors, perhaps wishing to achieve literary acclaim and thinking they would become famous through this alone, namely, if they left behind treatises on dream-divination, have made copies of each other’s works, either expounding badly things already having been said well by the old-time authors or just adding a bunch of things that are untrue to some of the material of the old-timers. For, speaking not from experience but instead off the cuff in whatever way each of them was moved concerning some matter, so they wrote, both those having read all the books of the old-timers as well as those who have not read them all. For some of these books, having become scarce and corrupt through old age, escape their notice. But there is no book on dream-interpretation which I have not acquired, expending much zeal in this regard (Oneir. praef.2, trans. Harris-McCoy).

Artemidorus’s prefatory remarks point to a regular circulation of manuals on dream interpretation or divination that entails, in turn, the copying of both


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older and contemporary works as well as ample opportunity for interpolation or redaction. While this scene is reminiscent of ancient writing and publication practices in general, it could just as easily describe the early Christian literary landscape, most obviously, in the relationships between the Synoptic Gospels or between various Nag Hammadi writings, Genesis, and Platonic texts (Larsen 2017). Another intriguing implication of Artemidorus’s preface is that his text is not only the culmination of his own erudition, but also confers expertise on the reader who is able to employ it correctly. Radcliffe G. Edmonds III (unpublished) has advanced a similar reading of the Greek Magical Papyri, namely, that these texts were written not for clients needing to be convinced of the author’s expertise but rather for potential practitioners interested in impressing their own clients. The oft-repeated insistence that the reader “will be amazed” by the outcome of a given ritual gives rise, Edmonds argues, to a feedback loop of expertise: the author may position himself as expert in relaying a spell or rite, but the reader’s own competence is tested and reinforced by its proper performance.⁹ William Arnal (2014 and 2016) has proposed a similar reading of intellectual dynamics fostered in the Gospel of Thomas, which imposes obscurity on its cryptic logia via a series of literary techniques that function to cultivate and reinforce the reader’s own sense of cultural refinement and distinction through the display of refined skills; importantly, it is the act of deploying such skills, rather than anything about the gospel’s content, that produces these effects. Approaching the matter from the opposite perspective, Juvenal ridicules the woman who, having gotten ahold of an astrology almanac, “doesn’t consult anyone else, but these days is consulted herself” (6.574– 75). It is in a similar spirit that Irenaeus quibbles with Marcus’s use of the Paignia of Anaxilaus, yet another example that underscores the ability of particular writings to weave and sustain complex webs of specialty. It should also be said that the impetus to textualize need not correlate with literacy and often did not in the Roman world.¹⁰ While many of the writings I have mentioned, including (later) New Testament and other early Christian literature, imply fairly to highly literature authors and audiences, aspiring religious experts who were illiterate, or largely so, had several options for incorporating writing, texts, and other hallmarks of skill into their practices. For some, “writ As Edmonds (unpublished) writes, “Religious expertise is validated by an appeal to the extraordinary efficacy of the procedure, an efficacy that is proven by the reader’s own experience.”  There are also important distinctions between the functional literacy required to keep ledgers or draft receipts, for instance, and the caliber of literacy that produced the writings of present interest.

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ing” might amount to nothing more than a piece of metal inscribed with crude, nonsensical characters, but the plentiful attestation of such objects underscores its cachet among those claiming some form of religious expertise. As Richard L. Gordon (2017, 134) explains, “[T]here were sharp differences of perspective, aims, skills and procedures, and appeal to literate modes even within the groups we might call ‘religious specialists,’ none of whom would have applied the discourse(s) regarding their powers, abilities, and social standing.” All, he insists, might be considered as experts in their particular domains of skill. Nor did the skills required to work with texts eclipse those for producing and manipulating other expressly extraordinary objects or “technologies for the imagination of the divine.”¹¹ Thus, Gordon issues caution about underestimating illiterate or less literate practitioners, whose knowledge often contributed to literary treatments of their areas of specialty.¹² At the same time, Gordon calls attention to various manifestations of specialization and complexity—for instance, elaborate diagrams or systems of rules for ritual performances—that fall between illiterate and highly literate forms of expertise. In contexts of acute competition, there was a premium on “highly specialised and inventive type[s] of materiality” that served as indices of skill for the specialists who wielded them while also conveying the impression that the activity in question required intricate but exact procedural knowledge. Texts constituted one such type of materiality, and one that was particularly well-suited to these performances. The more complex a writing, the more elaborate the schemes of rules or meanings that it could support, including narratives that explained and justified the need for a specialist’s intervention (Gordon 2017, 141). The urban concentration of aspiring experts in the late Hellenistic and Roman periods produced conditions for exponentially higher degrees of innovation: exposure to new discourses (astrological, philosophical, medical); access to a larger and more diverse array of material items (substances, objects, texts); competition between figures claiming expertise in the same or related domains of knowledge; and the attraction of gaining a wider reputation for expertise,

 Gordon 2017, 138. The expression comes, however, from Daniel Miller, “Introduction,” in Materiality, ed. Daniel Miller (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005), 23. As Gordon writes of objects enlisted in Greco-Roman magical practice (153), “It is primarily the framing of such objects, though sometimes also their very manufacture, that simultaneously calls attention to the exceptional nature of the claims made for the knowledge that motivates their production, and the meaningfulness of that knowledge within the totality of knowledge-claims on offer.”  As Gordon notes (2017, 143), the written herbalist-medical tradition drew heavily on the work of unknown numbers of rhizotomists and herb-sellers, almost all anonymous.


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foremost through literary production. Gordon traces an arc of increasingly textualized specialty through the last century before the Common Era and continuing through the Roman period. “Such efforts were by no means purely pragmatic,” he concludes, “but appealed to the growing class of leisured readers interested in organised knowledge. Access to…books thus provided yet another way of turning material substances into ideas: substances became good to think” (Gordon 2017, 152). Nor was the impetus to specialize restricted to the realms of religious intellectual pursuits: Nicholas Purcell (1995) reconstructs a comparable trend in the Roman game of alea, a simple combination of dicethrowing and a gaming board that nevertheless acquired more and more elaborate rules and literate trappings in the urban societies where it flourished. Although the writings I have mentioned in this section represent a wide range of aptitude, all appear to have bolstered the authority of experts acting in a freelance capacity and were indispensable to their practices. Maren R. Niehoff (2007) has suggested a simultaneous development in the formation of “textual communities” around particular corpora; her example is the Platonic corpus, above all the Timaeus. ¹³ The Timaeus always stimulated philosophical debates about whether the cosmos were eternal or created, but in the centuries before the Common Era it served neither to define the boundaries of a particular group or philosophical school, nor as an exclusive text for Platonists that demarcated them from adherents to Aristotle (164). Interestingly, she proposes that it was Philo who, in his concern to establish a textual community around Judean “holy books” or “holy writings,” elevated the Timaeus to a comparable status and defended the literal interpretation—that, as in Genesis, Platos’s cosmos were created—of key passages as authoritative and true (171). For Philo, Plato —to whom Philo refers as “most holy”—“should be to the pagans what Moses was to the Jews. Plato is thus advocated as someone who wrote a text of similar

 Niehoff borrows the phrase from B. Stock (The Implications of Literacy: Written Language and Models of Interpretation in the Eleventh and Twelth Centuries [Princeton: 1983]), who, in her words, “coined textual community to refer to groups dissenting from the mainstream and justifying their particular position by recourse to an authoritative text. This particular text was shared by society at large, but interpreted differently. The dissenting group, led by a figure with direct access to the text, formed their sense of solidarity around their particular reading” (162). Niehoff adapts the phrase to what she envisions as “an intellectual community-at-a-distance,” more of a diffuse network than the quasi-monastic groups at the center of Stock’s study. She also stresses that her cases are from a period in which readers of the Timaeus were in the majority and the sense of identity they formed around the text countered not a majority opinion but the claims of Christians, specifically. For a review of the use of Stock’s concept in the study of antiquity, see Heath 2018.

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authority as Moses, conveying basically the same ideas as the Jewish scriptures” (173). It is not clear whether Philo’s stance was adopted more widely before the second century, but similar regard for author and text, as well as the “true opinion” on the creation question, is evident in the writings of Plutarch. Positioning himself in opposition to “most of the Platonists,” Plutarch claimed to reconstruct Plato’s “authentic message” by impeaching earlier and contemporary detractors from his reading as mistaken or even deceitful (An. Procr. 1012B). He also composed supplemental literature in support of his claims, two treatises and a work on Platonic questions. Thus, “by the end of the first or the beginning of the second century Plato’s works, especially the Timaeus, were established as authoritative texts conveying a philosophical truth, which was faithfully transmitted by part of the Greek tradition” (Niehoff 2007, 177; cf. Hadot 2002: 148 – 53). Writing against Christians in the middle part of the second century, Celsus pointedly defended what he considered to be the original meaning of the Timaeus, and Platonic literature more generally, in response to Christian “misappropriations” of these texts. By placing Plato’s writings at the center of his concept of “Greekness,” he presented them as the boundary-marker between Christian belief and the Greek ethos, construed in kind (178). Hence, Niehoff concludes, “Celsus constructed a textual community centered on a particular approach to a specific corpus of texts. He claimed superiority of ‘our’ textual tradition over its Christian equivalent. The atmosphere is clearly one of competition, each community defending the value of its textual heritage and status within society at large” (178 – 79). Niehoff’s attention to the evolving status of the Platonic corpus traces a more general relationship between constructions of authority, textuality, and ideological concepts of community that became steadily more intertwined over the first two centuries (also Eshleman 2012). So too, did the ontology of and epistemological orientation toward certain texts begin to shift as part and parcel of this constellation, so that they were gradually granted within the social formations that developed around them a status akin to “scripture.” Daniel Sarefeld finds another source of support for this scriptural trajectory in the practice of book burning, which grew increasingly prominent under the empire and, though employed on occasion by authorities of the Roman state, is also attested among “leaders of religious communities who were…engaged in local conflicts over proper beliefs and practices” (2012, 163). I would reframe Sarefeld’s somewhat passive characterization of these conflicts—the incidents he cites feature book burning as an aggressive assertion of authority among rival religious and/or intellectual specialists—but find the argument suggestive of how particular texts or corpora could, by the second century, operate as metonyms for the groups de-


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fined in relation to them. And while Judean and Christian intellectuals certainly contributed to all of these developments, even prominently so, their prominence cannot be reduced to a unique scriptural sensibility. Rather, these developments occurred in a climate of dynamic intellectual and literary exchange, overwhelmingly in cities, even if there was variance in the types of social formations that the texts might support on account of the differential social locations, power, and goals of the intellectuals involved. A growing body of scholarship has emphasized the intimate contact that Christian intellectuals had not only with one another, irrespective of whether they would be coopted into later orthodox tradition or classified as heretics, but also with non-Christian intellectuals (Synder 2000, 2007, 2013; Dunderberg 2008; Eshleman 2012; Secord 2017). It is equally evident, I have argued, that self-identifying Christians had in their sights, in addition to other Christians and Jewish or Judean religious experts, magi, astrologers, myriad diviners, exorcists, healers, prophets, exegetes of prophecy, and so on (Wendt 2016, 198 – 202). We have only begun to appreciate the depth and significance of these affinities, that they go beyond mere resemblance and indicate instead that Christians participated in a common field of religious activity populated by assorted would-be experts, an outsized subset of which was marked by conspicuous intellectual tendencies and literary engagement. To say that Christians were merely (or even very much) like these other figures is to miss the point: they were one of many variations on the broader phenomenon. The impression that they were otherwise owes much to the calculated efforts of literate Christians, who not only formed distinct social formations—textual communities, in Niehoff’s sense—predicated on specific writings and interpretations of those writings, but also, like Plutarch, wrote prolifically to authenticate their textual stances at the expense of rivals claiming the same or related literature. And despite many a claim to possess or have recovered pristine, pure, original, or authentic “traditions,” all of these authors partook from a literary milieu that was inherently heterogeneous. Heidi Marx-Wolf (2016) elaborates these latter points in her study of thirdcentury Alexandrian intellectuals, which demonstrates, very persuasively in my view, that an author’s self-designation or putative affiliation—whether he or she was a Christian, a Neoplatonist, a theurgist, an Egyptian priest, a magician, and so on—were less determinative of his or her intellectual program than the specific writings that informed it. In other words, the most significant difference between a writer such as Origen and his Neoplatonic interlocutors lay in the particular literary materials that sustained their respective exegetical activities: a preference for biblical texts over Homeric (cf. Niehoff 2011). This was in keeping with the tendency of aspiring experts to concoct synthetic wisdom from ma-

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terial ranging from ancient Judean or Egyptian literature, to the writings of Plato or Hippocrates, to oracular corpora. Marx-Wolf identifies common features between the writings of Porphyry, Origen, and Iamblichus, the Nag Hammadi and (other) Platonic writings of the second and third centuries, as well as Greek so-called magical papyri. These affinities are predictable, she concludes, since many of the works in question arose, or likely did, from similar social settings: philosophical schools or circles in large urban centers that supported expansive networks of intellectual and literary exchange. One can extend the yields of Marx-Wolf’s important study to other sites of intense intellectual competition and literary production: Rome, Corinth, Smyrna, Ephesus, Jerusalem, Caesaria, Antioch, and so on. It comes as no surprise, then, that the same places were also major hubs for the publication of Christian literature (Kruger 2013; Gamble 2015). Justin’s writings offer ample evidence for comparable intellectual and textual cross-pollination at Rome; he also refers with some regularity to Greek “poets,” possibly the exegetes of Orphic poetry or verse oracles, and Mithras priests with knowledge of Judean prophetic texts, in addition to more obvious engagements with philosophy. A shift in focus from the specific content of such writings, including early Christian texts, to the skills, ambitions, and possible social settings of their authors allows for a more thoroughgoing redescription of religious actors who not only had many commonalities, but also viewed one another as direct competitors. To be clear, literacy and textuality were not exclusive to urban settings; the distinctions I am advocating are not meant to replicate simplistically Robinson’s urban/rural population map, with the implication that well-heeled urbanites were more drawn to intellectualizing forms of “Christianity” than simpler country folk. My point is only that the emergence of complex Christian and other religious writings can be located most plausibly in cities, especially the empire’s most cosmopolitan cities, where would-be experts clustered and rife competition between them resulted in a broad spectrum of specialization and diversification. A city’s “Christian” population also surely comprised multiple types of social formations, some of which were enmeshed in literate networks while others were less so or not at all. Rural areas might support some of this diversity, but they are less likely to have generated it to the same degree. That being said, rural populations were not wholly unattuned to the notional power of writing or the prestige of bookishness and might, therefore, have been quite receptive to literate experts and writings emanating from cities, even if fewer people in the countryside possessed this caliber of literacy. It is also the case that on those occasions when early Christian writers ventured into the sticks, as it were, by establishing themselves in less urbane provinces, the places where they took up residence were not the cultural backwaters that


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scholars have tended to infer. Proffering Irenaeus as an example, Jared Secord notes that Lyons, a Latin city prone to snobbish slights, nonetheless exhibited Greek cultural aspirations, particularly among its more educated class. Rather than imagining Ireneaus’s mission “among the Celts” as a brave foray into the woods, then, Secord suggests an alternative scenario (2012, 32): Christianity had to have been introduced to Gaul from outside, and the person or people who introduced it had to have been speakers of Greek. Native residents of Gaul certainly did become Christians, but there was still a need for the sort of (Greek) expertise that could come only from larger centers of Christian teaching, such as Rome. There is a clear precedent for this model in the practice described by Strabo of the Gauls welcoming and hiring Greek sophists and doctors to become residents of their cities and to work in them. A Greek doctor, Alexander of Phrygia, was even one of the Christians martyred at Lyons. In this sense, Irenaeus was perhaps a different sort of Greek expert encouraged or even invited to come to Lyons.

What Secord’s astute reframing makes clear is, on the one hand, that even less obvious areas of the empire—places without reputations as cultural hubs— strived to court and cultivate Greek intellectual life (which included religious intellectuals, among them Irenaeus), and, on the other, that more cosmopolitan cities, Rome in particular, served as hubs for the formation or refinement of would-be experts who might later fan outward to regions less cluttered with competition; many, as had Justin and Irenaeus, had already relocated to the capital from another provincial city. It stands to reason that writings followed the same pattern, taking shape in urban milieus as artifacts of intellectual competition that could be disseminated more widely. Such a picture arises in the Shepherd of Hermas (Vis. 2.4.3), whose eponymous author is instructed in a vision to copy a mysterious text and then send an additional copy of his little book to Clement, whose duty is to send it to “the cities abroad,” while keeping his own copy to read “in this city” (Rome). This Christian anecdote has a centripetal counterpart in the report that Juba II of Mauretania was in the habit of traveling to Rome to peruse its famous collection of Pythagorean pseudepigrapha, which he was keen to amass (Wendt 2016, 122 n. 28). In both examples the capital emerges as a place known for literary production, the point of origin for a wider dissemination of texts. The trend of fashioning expertise increasingly along intellectual lines was not exclusive to but was especially pronounced in cosmopolitan cities, which boasted a number of resources that contributed to it: the widespread availability of texts; numerous mechanisms and venues that promoted literary exchange; and a general enthusiasm for forms of religion with a textual or intellectual

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bent; to say nothing of background factors such as population density and heterogeneity. Sorting the participants in this sort of religious activity into distinct categories—Judaism, Christianity, Gnosticism, magic, mystery cults, or philosophy—on the basis of their textual proclivities or select features of their practices masks any number of resemblances between them that stemmed from reliance on the same urban resources and networks.

3 Christian literature as witness The methodological reorientation that I outlined in the preceding section stands to improve our reconstruction of its broader religious landscape in at least two ways, one specific to the Christian evidence and the other less so. First, imagining early Christian literature, both canonical and non-canonical, doing work in the service of interested authors and audiences encourages us to move beyond a cataloguing of resemblances between Christians and contemporaneous social actors toward a theorization of Christians among other experts for whom literary composition and interpretation furthered various ambitions: to display and safeguard religious authority; to elevate one’s own expertise above that of assorted rivals; to cater to widespread interest in religious offerings that required and rewarded the skills of their audiences; and to form various types of groups dedicated to one’s particular teachings and practices. These considerations promote a more plausible account of why and to what ends at least some early Christians wrote and interpreted texts, one that also explains similarities between their writings and others that did similar work. The second gain is that restoring Christian literature to this literary landscape allows these plentifully attested writings to be mined for insight into more shadowy religious developments occurring simultaneously within the same field of religious activity. Regarding the first matter, namely, of how the approach that I have advocated in this paper stands to reorient scholarly inquiry into the origins and development of Christianity as reflected in its literature, I propose the following: viewing this literature as artifacts of religious competition that was taking place apart from (and prior to) the existence of Christian institutions puts considerable pressure on the exceptional history that is told through the same texts. Earlier I noted that the analytical turn to individual agency in the study of ancient Mediterranean religion has not been fully absorbed in the study earliest Christianity, especially (later) New Testament literature. This is, in part, because traditional narratives about its origins and spread tend to posit pious religious communities, and networks of such communities, as the most elemental social formations compris-


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ing the movement (Stowers 2013; Urciuoli 2013).¹⁴ Where individuals or individual interests do factor into this account, they stand in tension with Christian communities, or the authoritative tradition that the communities preserved. Support for this logic is ample in early Christian literature, for example, in Irenaeus’s complaint that each so-called heretic “claims as this wisdom—(the secret wisdom Paul taught only ‘among the mature’ [1 Cor 2:16])—that which he discovers by himself, which is really a fiction, so that their truth may fittingly be in Valentinus at one time, at another in Marcion, at another in Cerinthus, finally in Basilides, or even in one who disputes against these and would not be able to say anything pertaining to salvation. For each one of them, being totally corrupt, is not ashamed to deprave the rule of truth and preach himself” (Haer. 3.2.1, trans. Unger). Here and elsewhere in “proto-orthodox” literature, a or the “Church” is the shadowy negative image of problematic exercises of individuality: its actuality and integrity are, for scholars, implicit in anxiety about atomization. However, the trail of evidence for earliest Christianity leads necessarily to individuals, authors, whose relationship to actual groups is another matter from the corporate and institutional rhetoric they employ. Nevertheless, it is from this evidence that scholars have extrapolated fully formed religious communities and traditions whose hypothetical status, once posited, not only obscures other social settings from which early Christian literature might have arisen, but also renders Christians incomparable to non-Christian (and non-Jewish) religious actors and groups of the Greco-Roman world. Nowhere are these observations more apparent than in scholarship on the fourfold gospel, another Irenaean legacy that stresses the collective witness of these writings over and against the singular gospels of his opponents. Irenaeus’s presentation of these texts as a synthetic (even natural) testament to a unitary Christian tradition mimics the same corporate-versus-individual logic. And yet, as recent publications remind us, there is no incontrovertible evidence that the canonical gospels were written prior to the mid-second century, when there is suddenly quite a lot. Nothing about this textual lacuna is revealing at its face. However, Markus Vinzent has taken the absence of reliable early witnesses to gospel literature as a point of departure for the intriguing thesis that the concept of a written gospel did not emerge until Marcion composed his Evangelion, which then provoked responses in kind from his literate Christian rivals

 Both Stowers and Urciuoli offer insight into the intellectual history and offer persuasive critiques of this concept of Christian community, applied uniquely to the Christian evidence, which does very different historiographic work than the sociological model of textual communities developed by Niehoff 2007 and Johnson 2010.

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(Vinzent 2011 and 2014).¹⁵ As one would expect in competing classrooms in a city,” Vinzent explains, “Marcion’s venture was soon replicated by other teachers who contributed, altered, broadened, or nuanced both the [Pauline] letters and [his] Gospel according to their respective needs and interests” (2011, 88). Vinzent presumes a high degree of mutual awareness and exchange among would-be Christian authorities of the mid-second century, all of whom were active at Rome. Hence the capital emerges in Vinzent’s account as the likeliest setting for much early Christian literary composition, and its abundant intellectual resources as the armature that supported these efforts. It remains to be seen how many will be persuaded by Vinzent’s arguments, but some of the planks of thesis gain strength from consideration of the broader social context for which I have argued above. In light of analogous instances of literary production—for instance, texts that were written about, or attributed to Pythagoras, Abraham, Moses, Solomon, Epicurus, Zoroaster, Apollonius, and so on—it is certainly worth considering whether the composition of gospel literature, both canonical and non-canonical, amounted to a tactic that rival Christian experts enlisted to undermine one another’s authority as they legitimated their own. There are numerous indications to support this general picture, including at least one canonical gospel author, Luke’s, apparent reliance on the writings of Josephus (Mason 2003). Other signatures of intellectual competition play out through all four New Testament gospels, above all the literary dependence between Mark, Matthew, and Luke, which makes a good deal of sense as an outcome of rivalry among intimate, literate rivals. Drawing gospel composition into the general fold of freelance religious expertise does not require a second-century date for the (later) canonical texts, but there are clues that points in this direction. Notably, Paul neither attributes any teachings to Jesus, nor characterizes Jesus as a teacher; his focus falls instead on how “the writings” or “oracles of God,” properly interpreted with the benefit of pneumatic discernment, reveal divine wisdom about Christ. Justin strengthens the connection between Judean prophecy and Jesus Christ through a series of fulfillment citations, while also introducing Jesus’s own logoi (especially, 1 Apol. 32.1– 42.1); for corroboration, he directs his readers to certain apostolic memoirs (ἀπομνημονεύματα τῶν ἀποστόλων) and the Acts of Pilate. ¹⁶ Justin

 On the priority of a gospel used and broadcast, although not written, by Marcion, see also Klinghardt (2008 and 2015).  Cosgrove 1982. The language occurs twice in Justin’s 1 Apology, 66.3 and 67.3, and thirteen times in the Dialogue with Trypho, all in chapters 99 – 107, where Justin cites the circumstances and events of the crucifixion as proof they have fulfilled the “oracular” criteria of Ps 21. One additional reference to the “memoirs” is found in Dial. 100.4, where Justin indicates that these writ-


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may be a reliable witness to written traditions about Jesus, but it is far from certain that he regards such writings as scripture. It is equally possible that his apparent knowledge of gospel material stems from texts not yet in existence, but only then taking shape, maybe even within his own intellectual circle at Rome. By the time that Irenaeus writes, there is a much stronger relationship between teachings and stories associated with Jesus, and the kinds of contemporary practices that such writings might authorize. Among the many complaints that he registers against heretical teachers and groups, Irenaeus’s greatest and most pervasive grievance involves the vulnerability of Christian writings to “manipulation.” This language is consistent with how he characterizes the textual practices and character of all heretical teachers: in terms of corruption, adulteration, perversion, falsification, divergence, and innovation. These concepts suggest explicitly that what unites heretics is a disregard for the integrity of authoritative texts and the tradition that precedes them, and implicitly that the writings in question exist, and have long existed, in pure and unadulterated forms. Irenaeus labors to create the impression that the Christian literary landscape can be broken down into three classes of writings: the first consists of authentic texts, whose reliability and legitimacy are confirmed by the status of their authors; the second consists of corrupted versions of authentic writings, that have been rearranged, reworded, reinterpreted, and so forth in accordance with the interests of various heretical interpreters; while the third consists of entirely new texts that are tailored to the interests and practices of contemporary authors.¹⁷ Scholars have been reticent to challenge the basic elements of this “proto-orthodox” gospel scheme, with the result that the sort of literary taxonomy we encounter in Irenaeus’s writings continues to be reinscribed in our scholarly categories and disciplinary sub-divisions even as other elements of his discursive practices have been reoriented (Brakke 2012). It is largely accepted that his preferred gospels (versions of which will become the canonical gospels) contain traditions that are early and reliable (or more reliable), and that these traditions acquired written form through disinterested processes, namely, as the result of Christian community needs. It is likewise accepted on Irenaeus’s authority that “heretics” both manipulated versions of the canonical gospels and also

ings attest Jesus to be the “Son of God.” He is curiously resistant to the term εὐαγγέλιον, which appears only three times in his extant writings. Moreover, where εὐαγγέλιον does occur, Justin is careful to decouple this concept from the apostolic writings to which he refers on other occasions.  Articulations of this logic are scattered throughout the text; for poignant distillations, see esp. Haer. 1.8.1; 3.1– 3.4; 3.11.7– 9.

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made up their own gospels from whole cloth. With the focus shifted to the textual practices of these rival Christian experts, and with a view to the use of writings within the wider context of freelance expertise, it is worth considering that even the canonical were in the process of being written to support particular positions as opposed to the other way. It is noteworthy that many of the practices criticized in second-century sources—mythmaking, genealogical speculation, the ongoing exegesis of oracular Judean texts (e. g., 1 Tim 1:3 – 7, 5:3 – 5; 2 Tim 4:3 – 4; Tit 1:13 – 14, 3:8 – 9)—feature as prominently in the fourfold gospel as they do in non-canonical texts. Beyond these possibilities in the narrower study of early Christianity, I indicated that redescribing Christian writings as evidence for the religion of self-authorized experts, more generally, may offer new avenues of explanation for other religious phenomena that seem to have emerged from this context. There is considerable room for developing this second suggestion with respect to particular bodies of evidence but, given spatial limitations, I will only gesture toward such possibilities with respect to a single comparandum, religious offerings that featured Mithras. I highlight this example for two reasons: First, there is a considerable lag between our earliest literary and epigraphic references to Mithras, which come in the last decades of the first century CE, and the earliest mithraea, which, at least in Rome and Ostia, are not attested before the third century (Gordon 1972; White 2012). This timeframe coincides roughly with, on the early end, the Pauline Epistles and the first external witnesses to Christ devotion and the emergence of Christian material cultural evidence no earlier than the third century. It is apparent from the regularity of Mithraic image programs and gathering spaces that the intervening century witnessed the consolidation of some institutionalized version of Mithras cult (Gordon 2007). Similar processes can be seen occurring in and by means of Christian literature dated confidently to the second century. The full body of evidence for Mithras devotion comprises fresco and sculptural programs, references to the god in the Greek Magical Papyri, including the so-called “Mithras liturgy” (Betz 2003), depictions of him on amulets and gemstones (Mastrocinque 1998), scores of altars and other dedications, various epigraphic texts, and mention of his priests and devotees in scattered literature, in addition, of course, to mithraea. That his mysteries proper were conveyed through the adapted medium of astrology has led many to suspect they originated from intellectual circles (Ulansey 1991), maybe even, as Roger Beck has postulated, in the immediate circle of the court astrologer, Ti. Claudius Balbillus, thought to be the son of the aforementioned Thrasyllus (Beck 1998 and 2004).


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What we lack for Mithras is the sort of literary evidence that discloses, in grainy detail, how phenomena involving the figure of Christ fractured, coalesced, and acquired regular institutional features over the course of at least two centuries, before eventually imprinting the archaeological record. I see every indication that these processes unfolded in both cases within the context of self-authorized religious expertise. Furthermore, there is an intriguing parallel in evidence for Persian and Judean religious experts early in the first century and the emergence of Mithras and Christ devotion in its final decades. Numerous references to magi at Rome—a term that retained connotations of Persian religious expertise through most of the first century (Rives 2010)—occur in early imperial literature. They appear time and again in stories of Roman aristocrats tried for consulting them about sensitive political matters; in various expulsions issued during this period; and in Suetonius’ report that the emperor Nero had undergone rites of the magi, a rumor to which Pliny assigns a specific magus, Tiridates, who traveled with other magi to Rome in order to initiate Nero and instruct him in their arts ( Nat. 30.14– 17; also Suetonius, Ner. 13.11, 30.22). Locating the origins of Mithras religion within the context of freelance expertise accounts for the apparent Roman origins and range of evidence for this deity, some of which bears no obvious relationship to the activities posited for mithraea. Instead of presuming that such artifacts were derivative of Mithras cult as it has been reconstructed from archaeological contexts, it seems worthwhile to explore the possibility that all of this evidence attests ongoing configurations of Mithras offerings taking shape among experts of differing abilities, interests, and settings and gaining traction among different types of social formations, eventually, voluntary associations that could finance dedicated meeting spaces. If there is any merit to this suggestion, patterns and dynamics that emerge from Christian sources might be useful for filling in some of the gaps in the parallel development of these forms of religion. Apropos of that proposal are a handful of references to Mithras and in the writings of Justin. In his Dialogue with Trypho, he writes, “Now, when those who transmit the mysteries of Mithras claim that he was born of a rock, and call the place where they initiate his believers a cave, am I not right in concluding that they have imitated that saying of Daniel, ‘A stone was hewn without hands out of a great mountain (Dn 2:34)?’ In a similar fashion, have they not attempted to imitate all the sayings of Isaiah?” (Dial. 70.1, trans. Falls). Justin then quotes Isaiah 33.13 – 19, concluding that it obviously foreshadows Christ, and none other (70.2– 4). He returns to this point, insisting, “By these words the priests who perform the mysteries of Mithras were urged by the devil to declare that they were initiated by Mithras himself in a place they call a cave” (78.6).

Intellectualizing religion in the cities of the Roman Empire


While one might rightly be skeptical of Justin’s claim that Mithras initiators found evidence for their god in Isaiah, here and elsewhere he invokes as his principal rivals not an exclusive, undifferentiated swath of Judeans and contrary Christians, as one might expect, but assorted actors with his intellectual druthers. There is, apart from inscriptions and occasional references to Mithras in spells, an absence of more complex Mithraic literature, although this does not foreclose the possibility that, as some have conjectured, such a literature once existed. Justin’s references suggest, however, that he viewed Mithras priests or initiators as opponents in kind and connected them with literary exegesis; whether they actually knew Isaiah matters less than Justin’s sense of his claim’s plausibility. Here and elsewhere, fleeting glimpses of “Persian” experts and texts suggest processes, practices, diversity, and rivalries that concur with dynamics pervasive in Christian literature of the second century. If all these actors—Justin, Marcion, Valentinus, Irenaeus, Marcus, and possibly even the authors of the four gospels—are theorized as examples of the religious experts who were commonplace in cities of the imperial period, then Christian literature, restored to this context, stands to shed light on this particular dimension of the empire’s evolving religious culture.

4 Conclusions In this essay, I have attempted to illustrate how a particular form of religious activity offers a plausible social setting for theorizing the emergence, development, and ongoing diversification of Christian forms of religion. I have suggested that our earliest evidence for Christian experts, texts, and social formations, maps onto an earlier and more capacious class of religious activity, one area of which consisted of writer-intellectuals, while other areas comprised non-textual diviners, inspired prophets, exorcists, and even authorities on Christ whose practices might not emphasize writings much or at all. To theorize Christian intellectuals and texts as variations on a wider phenomenon permits more thoroughgoing and creative comparisons with contemporaneous actors, groups, and writings. It strikes me as a promising exercise to map texts seemingly implicated in this sort of religious activity along a vertical axis in accordance with degrees of aptitude, requisite levels of literacy, specialized training, and intellectual backdrops, so that complex writings cluster at one pole, and the most basic ones at the other. This way of arranging the evidence has the advantage of then throwing into relief horizontal textual relationships at particular literary registers, for instance, as Ismo Dunderberg (2008) has demonstrated, between Valentinian and Hermetic literatures.


Heidi Wendt

With the materials arranged in this way it is easier to see how particular kinds of writings worked to construct and foster dependence on specialty or to engender particular social formations: occasional client or pedagogic relationships, schools of instruction, initiation circles, voluntary associations, private temples and even the independent acquisition of wisdom or skills. It also expresses these possibilities without implying from the outset essential differences between the texts, authors, readers, or groups. Finally, and perhaps counter-intuitively, this approach reminds us of the representative limits of the literary record. That the triumph of Christianity was as much a triumph of literate religious specialists all but guaranteed the pride of place texts would occupy in post-Constantinian historiographies of the movement.¹⁸ Just as competing claims to the “authentic” Platonic legacy should not be taken as straightforwardly representative of “Platonism,” “philosophy,” “the Greek ethos,” or “Greek theology,” neither were the self-positionings of literate Christian experts or Christian texts necessarily, or likely, representative of the full landscape of “Christianity” in this period

Bibliography Ando, Clifford. Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty in the Roman Empire. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. Arnal, William. “Blessed Are the Solitary: Textual Practices and the Mirage of a Thomas ‘Community.’” In The One Who Sows Bountifully: Essays in Honor of Stanley K. Stowers, edited by Caroline Johnson Hodge, Saul M. Olyan, Daniel Ullucci, and Emma Wasserman, 271 – 81. Brown Judaic Studies 356. Atlanta: SBL Press, 2014. Arnal, William. “How the Gospel of Thomas Works.” In Scribal Practices and Social Structures among Jesus Adherents: Essays in Honour of John S. Kloppenborg, edited by William Arnal, Richard Ascough, Robert Derrenbacker, and Philip Harland, 261 – 80. Leuven: Peeters, 2016. Beck, Roger. “The Mysteries of Mithras: A New Account of their Genesis.” The Journal of Roman Studies 88 (1998): 115−28. Beck, Roger. “Whose Astrology? The Imprint of Ti. Claudius Balbillus on the Mithraic Mysteries.” In Beck on Mithraism: Collected Works with New Essays, 323 – 29. Burlington: Ashgate, 2004. Betz, Hans Dieter. The Mithras Liturgy: Text, Translation, and Commentary. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003. Berzon, Todd S. Classifying Christians: Ethnography, Heresiology, and the Limits of Knowledge in Late Antiquity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2016.

 For the tendency to overemphasize the textual profile of early Christianity in the pre-Constantinian period, see Stowers 2016 and 2019.

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Brakke, David. The Gnostics: Myth, Ritual, and Diversity in Early Christianity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012. Cosgrove, Charles H. “Justin Martyr and the Emerging Christian Canon: Observations on the Purpose and Destination of the Dialogue with Trypho.” Vigiliae Christianae 36 (1982): 209 – 32. Davidson, James N. “Don’t try this at home: Pliny’s Salpe, Salpe’s Paignia and Magic.” Classical Quarterly 45 (1994): 590 – 92. Dickie, Matthew W. Magic and Magicians in the Greco-Roman World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. Dunderberg, Ismo. Beyond Gnosticism: Myth, Lifestyle, and Society in the School of Valentinus. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. Edmonds, Radcliffe G., III. “And You Will Be Amazed: The Rhetoric of Authority in the Greek Magical Papyri.” Unpublished paper presented at “Colloquium in Response to Heidi Wendt’s At the Temple Gates: The Religion of Freelance Experts in the Roman Empire.” Ohio State University, Columbus, OH. September 30, 2017. Edmonds, Radcliffe G., III. Redefining Ancient Orphism: A Study in Greek Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Eshleman, Kendra. The Social World of Intellectuals in the Roman Empire: Sophists, Philosophers, and Christians. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Gamble, Harry Y. “The Book Trade in the Roman Empire.” In The Early Text of the New Testament, edited by Charles E. Hill and Michael J. Kruger, 23 – 36. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Gordon, Richard L. “Mithraism and Roman Society.” Religion 2 (1972): 92 – 121. Gordon, Richard L. “Institutionalized Religious Options: Mithraism.” In A Companion to Roman Religion, edited by Jörg Rüpke. Oxford: Blackwell, 2007. Gordon, Richard L. “From Substances to Texts: Three Materialities of Magic in the Roman Imperial Period.” In The Materiality of Magic, edited by Dietrich Boschung and Jan N. Bremmer, 133 – 76. Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink, 2017. Hadot, Pierre. What Is Ancient Philosophy? Translated by Michael Chase. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002. Harris-McCoy, Daniel. E. Artemidorus’ Oneirocritica: Text, Translation, and Commentary. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Harrison, James R. and L. L. Welborn, eds. The First Urban Churches, vol. 1 – 3. WGRW Suppl. 7 – 9. Atlanta: SBL Press, 2015 – 2018. Heath, Jane. “‘Textual Communities’: Brian Stock’s Concept and Recent Scholarship on Antiquity.” In Scriptural Interpretation at the Interface between Education and Religion: In Memory of Hans Conzelmann, edited by Florian Wilk, 5 – 35. Themes in Biblical Narrative 22. Leiden: Brill, 2018. Heineman, Kristin M. The Decadence of Delphi: The Oracle in the Second Century AD and Beyond. New York: Routledge, 2018. Howley, Joseph A. “Book Burning and the Uses of Writing in Ancient Rome: Destructive Practice Between Literature and Document.” The Journal of Roman Studies 107 (2017): 213 – 36. Irenaeus. Against the Heresies, I–III. Translated and annotated by Dominic J. Unger. Ancient Christian Writers 55, 64 – 65. New York: Paulinist, 1992 and 2012.


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Johnson, William A. Readers and Reading Culture in the High Roman Empire: A Study of Elite Communities. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Johnson, William A. and Holt N. Parker, eds. Ancient Literacies: The Culture of Reading in Greece and Rome. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Justin Martyr. Dialogue with Trypho. Translated by Thomas B. Falls. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2003. Klinghardt, Matthias. Das älteste Evangelium und die Entstehung der kanonischen Evangelien. Tübingen: Francke Verlag 2015. Klinghardt, Matthias. “The Marcionite Gospel and the Synoptic Problem: A New Suggestion.” Novum Testamentum 50 (2008): 1 – 27. König, Jason, Katerina Oikonomopoulou, and Greg Woolf, eds. Ancient Libraries. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Kotrosits, Maia. Rethinking Early Christian Identity: Affect, Violence, and Belonging. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2015. Kruger, Michael J. “Manuscripts, Scribes, and Book Production within Early Christianity.” In Social and Literary Contexts for the New Testament, edited by Stanley E. Porter and Andrew W. Pitts, 15 – 40. Leiden: Brill, 2013. Larsen, Matthew D.C. “Accidental Publication, Unfinished Texts, and the Traditional Goals of New Testament Textual Criticism.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 39 (2017): 362 – 87. Marx-Wolf, Heidi. Spiritual Taxonomies and Ritual Authority: Platonists, Priests, and Gnostics in the Third Century C.E. Divinations. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016. Mason, Steve. Josephus and the New Testament. Peabody, MA: Henderson, 2003. Mastrocinque, Attilio. Studi sul Mitraismo: il Mitraismo e la Magia. Rome: Giorgio Bretschneider, 1998. Meeks, Wayne. The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983. Niehoff, Maren R. “Did the Timaeus Create a Textual Community?” Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 47 (2007): 161 – 91. Niehoff, Maren R. Jewish Exegesis and Homeric Scholarship in Alexandria. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Purcell, Nicholas. “Literate Games: Roman Urban Society and the Game of Alea.” Past & Present 147 (1995): 3 – 37. Rives, James. “Magus and its Cognates in Classical Latin.” In Magical Practice in the Latin West: Papers from the International Conference Held at the University of Zaragoza 30 Sept.–1 Oct. 2005, edited by Richard L. Gordon and Francisco Marco Simón, 53 – 77. RGRW 168. Leiden: Brill, 2010. Robinson, Thomas A. Who Were the First Christians? Dismantling the Urban Thesis. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017. Rüpke, Jörg. On Roman Religion: Lived Religion and the Individual in Ancient Rome. Townsend Lecture Series/Cornell Studies in Classical Philology. London: Cornell University Press, 2016. Rüpke, Jörg, ed. The Individual in the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

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Rüpke, Jörg and Wolfgang Spickermann, eds. Reflections on Religion Individuality: Graeco-Roman and Judaeo-Christian Texts and Practices. RVV 62. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012. Sarefeld, Daniel. “The Symbolics of Book Burning: The Establishment of a Christian Ritual of Persecution.” In The Early Christian Book, edited by William E. Klingshirn and Linda Safran. CUA Studies in Early Christianity. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2012. Secord, Jared. “The Cultural Geography of a Greek Christian: Irenaeus from Smyrna to Lyons.” In Irenaeus: Life, Scripture, Legacy, edited by Sara Parvis and Paul Foster, 25 – 34. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2012. Secord, Jared. “Irenaeus at Rome: The Greek Context of Christian Intellectual Life in the Second Century.” In Irénée entre Asie et Occident, edited by Agnès Bastit-Kalinwoska, 1 – 20. Turnhout: Brepols, 2017. Snyder, H. Gregory. Teachers and Texts in the Ancient World: Philosophers, Jews, and Christians. Religion in the First Christian Centuries. London: Routledge, 2000. Snyder, H. Gregory. “‘Above the Bath of Myrtinus’: Justin Martyr’s ‘School’ in the City of Rome,” Harvard Theological Review 100: 335 – 62. Snyder, H. Gregory. “The Classroom in the Text: Exegetical Practices in Justin and Galen,” in Christian Origins and Greco-Roman Culture.” In Social and Literary Contexts for the New Testament, edited by Stanley E. Porter and Andrew W. Pitts, 663 – 85. Leiden: Brill, 2013. Stark, Rodney. Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006. Stowers, Stanley. “The Concept of ‘Community’ and the History of Early Christianity.” Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 23 (2013): 238 – 56. Stowers, Stanley. “Why Expert versus Nonexpert Is Not Elite versus Popular Religion: The Case of the Third Century.” In Religious Competition in the Greco-Roman World, edited by Nathaniel DesRosiers and Lily Vuong, 139 – 54. Atlanta: SBL Press, 2016. Stowers, Stanley. “Locating the Religion of Associations.” In Remaking the World: Christianity and Categories. Essays in Honor of Karen L. King, edited by Taylor G. Petrey et al., 301 – 24. WUNT 434. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2019. Ulansey, David. The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries: Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. Urciuoli, Emiliano Rubens. “La comunità ubiqua: Considerazioni sull’onnipresenza comunitaria nella storia del cristianesimo antico.” Studi e Materiali di Storia delle Religioni 79 (2013): 557 – 83. Vinzent, Markus. Christ’s Resurrection in Early Christianity and the Making of the New Testament. Surrey: Ashgate, 2011. Vinzent, Markus. Marcion and the Synoptic Gospels. Studia Patristica Suppl. 2. Leuven: Peeters, 2014. Wendt, Heidi. At the Temple Gates: The Religion of Freelance Experts in the Roman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. White, L. Michael. “The Changing Face of Mithraism at Ostia: Archaeology, Art, and the Urban Landscape.” In Contested Spaces: Houses and Temples in Roman Antiquity and the New Testament, edited by David L. Balch and Annette Weissenreider. WUNT 285. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012.

Lara Weiss

The city of the dead or: the making of a cultural geography¹ Abstract: Saqqara was the necropolis of the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis, a centre of major political and religious importance throughout Pharaonic history. Kings as well as commoners choose to be buried here from the earliest times onwards, resulting in the first monumental stone building (the Step Pyramid complex of King Djoser, c. 2600 BCE) and a myriad of other smaller, non-royal tombs. From the New Kingdom to the Late Period (c. 1500 – 332 BCE), Egyptian kings were buried elsewhere, but Saqqara remained an important cultic area and numerous monumental tombs, funerary temples and shrines were built there until the end of ancient Egyptian history. Yet we still know little about how people dealt with organised religion in day to day practice and how things may have changed over time. Having served as a memorial site for non-royal individuals and kings, as well as a centre for the worship of gods for millennia, Saqqara not only provides chronological depth, but also the necessary thematic breadth to study the ways in which religion changed and impacted on the physical environment and contemporary society, and how, in turn, contemporary society and restrictions and possibilities offered by the environment shaped the site’s dynamic cultural geography.

 This paper is an extended version of the funding application I wrote in fruitful collaboration with Nico Staring (landscape) and Ramadan Hussein (transmission) for the Vidi talent scheme of the Dutch Research Council (NWO) in autumn 2016. The project ‘Walking Dead at Saqqara: The Making of a Cultural Geography’ has kindly been granted by NWO as dossier no. 016.Vidi.174.032 and is hosted at Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS), and will run from 1 November 2017 to 31 October 2022. https://www.nwo.nl/en/research-and-results/research-projects/i/52/ 28952.html. I would like to thank my postdoctoral project staff members Nico Staring and Huw Twiston Davies for their kind feedback on this text. I am indebted to Jörg Rüpke and Rubina Raja for their continuous support and many fruitful discussions during the past five years. The current text was submitted for publication in autumn 2018 and references were not fully updated. For a brief summary in Dutch see also Weiss 2018. OpenAccess. © 2020 Laetzer/Urciuoli, published by De Gruyter. the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110641813-006

This work is licensed under


Lara Weiss

1 Introduction An exhibition held in the Melbourne Art Museum in spring 2017 was called ‘The Dead Don’t Bury Themselves’.² While this may seem fairly obvious at first, it challenges a prevailing idea of the worlds of the living and the deceased as two opposites. For example, some authors claim that “city and the cemetery are in fact spatial, and architectural responses to two different physiological states of the human body in the space. The city is the space designed to the living, and the cemetery is the space designed to the dead”.³ With reference to modern European cemeteries, others argue that “cemeteries can be defined as specifically demarcated sites of burial, with an internal layout that is sufficiently well ordered to allow families to claim and exercise control over their particular grave space, and which facilitate the conducting of appropriate funerary ritual”.⁴ Funerary practices and the existence of any type of burial are crucial elements of cemeteries in any time period; graves and tombs are usually designed as more or less elaborate shelters for either the bodies and/or bones of the dead or their ashes. However, neither tombs nor the cemetery should be viewed as designed for the deceased alone. On the contrary, as expressed in the title of the exhibition mentioned above: the dead don’t bury themselves – ‘death is for the living’.⁵ The living are the ones who organise the burial, potentially participate in the funeral ceremonies, and may return later to memorialise the deceased. Prior to their death, they see others’ funerals and funerary monuments at various occasions and may develop a vision for their own passing. The existing literature on the ‘architecture of death’ in Europe often sketches this history from graveyards near churches to the ‘Arcadian gardens’ of the 18th century.⁶ Most of these studies try to embed their analyses of modern developments into a wider historical perspective, starting with a short introduction to Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and/or Roman cemeteries. In spite of these attempts to integrate a broader historical view of the material, authors tend to miss the deliberate resemblance between modern and ancient sites. For example, the famous Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris was planned to serve as a modern version of the an The exhibition was on the role of burials and mortuary traditions in the Bronze Age in the Near East. http://www.art-museum.unimelb.edu.au/exhibitions/exhib-date/2016-09-27/exhib/ the-dead-don-t-bury-themselves. The title is possibly borrowed from the seminal article by Parker Pearson 1993 probably with a Bible reference to Mt 8:22/Lk 9:60.  Amadei 2006, 11.  Rugg 2000, 264.  Gordon 1984, 150 – 52.  E. g. Etlin 1984.

The city of the dead or: the making of a cultural geography


cient Greek Kerameikos in Athens,⁷ and does so successfully in terms of its role as a place for the display of status, as a dwelling place etc. We should thus not view a cemetery as a place for the deceased only, but as a place of interaction between the living and the dead.

2 Extra-urban practices The material evidence from Ancient Egypt provides to the discussion fresh food for thought, because a variety of individual and group activities can be detected in Egyptian cemeteries. People built their tombs, and commemorated their ancestors there often over the course of several centuries, but we also see other activities such as worship for various gods. Egyptian burial sites are usually located near the places where the deceased were born and lived.⁸ From this perspective human agency in Egyptian cemeteries can be understood as an extension of city life, as ‘extra-urban practices’, both in cemeteries located near cities, and more generally.⁹ Urban is thus understood here as meaning “relating to, characteristic of, or constituting a city”¹⁰ and extra-urban as moving beyond urban lifestyles into a wider frame. The borders between “city” and “non-city” are thus fluid and continuously enacted and negotiated by human agency. In Ancient Egypt, cities are not usually well-preserved, although their religious importance is reflected in various records (Baines 2013, 167– 70; 2015, 31– 32; and Baines et al. 2015, 94 – 110). The fact that most ancient Egyptian cities do not survive makes it necessary to discuss urban life indirectly, through the lens of the extra-urban practices found in cemeteries. Using evidence from tombs for the understanding of Egyptian daily life is common practice in Egyptology,¹¹ but it is worthwhile to consider more seriously the spatial aspects of a cemetery, as a place where individuals and groups interact and shape their environment, and are influenced by it in turn. This appropriation, modification and invention of traditions is a process of lived ancient religion.¹² In the Egyptian context I con-

 Laqueur 2015, 261.  E. g. Assmann 1996, 87– 9.  This idea was emphasised at the Urban Religion conference in Erfurt by Hartmut Leppin and Christopher Smith among others. I would like to thank both the organisers of the conference as well as the other participants for critically reviewing this paper, and for their most helpful feedback.  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/urban accessed 15 May 2018.  E. g. Petrie 1927 for the earliest example of this view.  Rüpke 2012, McGuire 2008, and on Egypt see e. g. Luiselli 2011 and Weiss 2014.


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sider these processes through the concept of ‘the Making of a Cultural Geography’ (see below), not as urban religion, because as we have seen the accompanying ancient cities are usually not well-preserved enough to allow analysis of whether the data truly reflects ‘urban lifestyles’. Yet as categories both the concepts ‘urban religion’ and ‘cultural geography’ are closely linked. Both concepts are born from the desire to add a clearer spatial perspective to the lived ancient religion approach and can hence be understood as two sides of the same coin, albeit sides dependent on two different evidence bases.

3 A cultural geography in Ancient Egypt: methodological remarks In ancient Egypt, as today, religion was continuously changing, and not, as is still often assumed, essentially static. Individuals and groups continuously shaped their environment and their agency was shaped by it in turn, “weaving” individual and group “life cycles into long term histories”¹³. The study of (lived) religion is vital for a comprehensive understanding of culture,¹⁴ especially in ancient Egypt, where the social order was underpinned by religion.¹⁵ The main case study of the ‘Walking Dead’ project is the cultural geography of Saqqara, the necropolis of the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis, and its development.¹⁶ Saqqara was a centre of major political and religious importance throughout Pharaonic history. Kings and non-royal individuals were buried there from the earliest times onward, and the site is home to both the first monumental stone building (the Step Pyramid complex of King Djoser, built c. 2600 BCE) and a myriad of smaller, non-royal tombs. In the New Kingdom to the Late Period (c. 1500 – 332 BCE), Egyptian kings were buried elsewhere, but Saqqara remained an important cultic area and monumental tombs, funerary temples, and shrines continued to be built there. This evidence has never been studied in its broader historical context and we still know little about how people engaged with organised religion in day-to-day practice, or how things may have changed over time. Having served as a memorial site for non-royal individuals and kings, as well as a centre for the worship of the gods, for millennia, Saqqara not only provides chronological depth, but also the necessary thematic breadth to study the

   

Kolen/Hermans 2015. Stump 2008. On Egyptian divine kingship see e. g. Maitland 2016, 16 – 23. Weiss 2018.

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ways in which religion changed and impacted on the physical environment and contemporary society, and how, in turn, contemporary society and the restrictions and possibilities offered by the environment shaped the site’s cultural geography. The Memphite necropolis was a crucial religious site for the Egyptians, because private individuals, kings and gods were buried and worshipped there for about 3000 years.¹⁷ The New Kingdom (c. 1500 – 1100 BCE) necropolis under excavation by the Leiden-Turin archaeological mission provides the starting point for the research, but this evidence will be contextualised within the wider cultural geography of the Saqqara, i. e. co-relating earlier tombs, as well as other New Kingdom rock-cut tombs, temples, and processional routes, and traces of later reuse.¹⁸ Tombs changed over time, as can be observed in the stratigraphic sequence of the site, and religious practices changed as well.¹⁹ For example, the New Kingdom tomb of Iurudef contained c. 70 secondary burials from later periods.²⁰ These later burials were often rather reluctantly published by the previous excavators,²¹ but considered “intrusive”.²² However, tomb reuse should not necessarily be considered transgressive.²³ It is interesting to analyse where in the New Kingdom tombs these later burials were made, and whose activities we can trace. For later phases of Egyptian history, for example, the remains of ‘embalmers’ caches’ and related funerary activities is noteworthy.²⁴ The variety of activities that can be detected in the archaeological record reflects the religious traditions of individuals and groups, but also the way their organised and constantly negotiated their social interaction. The hypothesis of this project is that any potential systematisation provided new opportunities for individuals and groups to appropriate their activities, depending on context and situation.²⁵ People changed their existing environment, for example, by choosing a certain spot to make an offering, but at the same time their action changed that location. We see small changes in the provision of an offering, or bigger ones in the building of a tomb. I propose to conceptualise the tangible re-

 E. g. Málek 1992, 57– 76 and Raven 2000, 133 – 44.  Al-Aguizy 2007, 2008, 2009, 2015; Gohary 2009, 2010; S. Tawfik 1991; T. Tawfik 2001, 2003, Ockinga 2004, 2011, 2012, e. g. Zivie 2009; 2012, 2013.  Compare also Rowan 2011 on materialised religious belief.  Raven 1991.  For a recent first attempt at a synthesis, however, see Raven 2017a.  Sometimes later shafts were not excavated e. g. Raven 2011, 31– 2 and see Raven 2001, 35.  E. g. Polz 1990, 334.  E. g. Martin 1985; 1989; 1997; 2001; Raven 2001, D. Aston 2011.  De Certeau 1984; Gardiner 2001, 167– 8; 177; Füssel 2006.


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sults of these processes of religious appropriation by individuals and groups as a ‘cultural geography’. The term is meant to capture the “mutual relationship between religion and {its} environment”²⁶ and to describe its development. Cultural geography is used here as a term to highlight the manifold ways “meaning and social understandings are constructed, contested and negotiated”²⁷ at Saqqara. The term ‘cultural geography’ (as opposed, for example, to ‘sacred landscape’²⁸) describes the result of human agency and recognises that although the focus is on a landscape of tombs, temples, and procession roads, not all individual and group appropriations necessarily need to have been religiously motivated.²⁹ For example, the building of a large and beautiful tomb provided status to the living, and the opportunity to demonstrate their refined taste, and access to esoteric religious knowledge.

4 Three vectors of religious agency The methodological presupposition of the ‘Walking Dead’ project is that the development of a cultural geography can be traced in the archaeological record at Saqqara – and indeed potentially at other sites – by analysing three fields of human action: (1) religious practices, (2) transmission of images and texts, and (3) potential changes and utilisation of the landscape. In other words, these three fields of human action are reflected in the material, and textual and artistic evidence and can be studied as the three main vectors of religious agency (Fig. 1).

4.1 Religious practices In view of the previous methodological remarks, the choice of the term ‘practices’ may appear somewhat ambiguous at first. Within the academic discourse of practice theory, the term usually appears in a methodological programme in order to acknowledge and study human activities as belonging to a wider frame of “social structure in which they are embedded and which they help

 Soliman 2014, 35, and see Büttner 1974, 165 – 96; Kong 1990, 355 – 71; Cooper 1992, 123 – 29; Park 1994.  Atkinson et al. 2005, xv.  An approach apparently taken by Snape 2020, which is of course legitimate, but which targets entirely different questions and answers.  See most recently Staring/Twiston Davies/Weiss 2019.

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Fig. 1

shape”.³⁰ The perspective taken up by the cultural geography approach is to study archaeologically tangible results as products of ongoing processes of “meaning-making, order-producing, and reality-shaping activities. That is, orderly sets of materially mediated doings and sayings aimed at identifiable ends”.³¹ Such practices could be the creation and utilisation of landscape (e. g. burials and monument building), transmission processes visible in the choice of texts and decoration in monumental tombs, or human activities directed to the veneration of gods and ancestors. In line with my earlier research,³² all these practices are understood as multi-layered activities performed by individuals moving between various roles and levels of group participation. When I claim here that religious agency manifests itself in (religious) practices, I refer to the tangible evidence for human activities as well as pictorial evidence of action directed at the veneration of gods, kings or ancestors, but not to building activities or utilisation of architectural features such as tombs. From a sociological perspective those ‘mediated doings’ could also be termed practices, but within this project they will be studied as part of the landscape approach (see below). When I speak of religious practices here, however, I mean the ritual activities related to the burial (such as the ‘embalmers’ caches’ in the Late Period, i. e. ‘funerary rituals’), and all activities related to the veneration of the gods and deceased after the burial (i. e. ‘mortuary rituals’), as attested in both pictorial and material evidence.³³

 This is in fact the definition for literary practices provided by Barton/Hamilton 2000, 7. An interesting academic blog collecting different viewpoints is https://practicetheorymethodologies. wordpress.com/about/ (accessed 21 December 2017).  Langley 2017, 6.  Cf. Weiss 2012; Weiss 2015a; building on e. g. Giddens 1984 and Burke/Stets 2000.  Raven et al. 2015.


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To sum up, ‘practices’ in the sense defined above, ‘transmission’, and ‘landscape’ gain their meaning through re-enactment and appropriation.³⁴ The material being studied to detect religious practices overlaps partly with other ‘fields of action’ such as ‘transmission of text and images’ or ‘landscape’, but are considered in this part of the project only from the perspective of religious practices. For example, tombs in the Leiden-Turin concession area provide pictorial evidence for the destruction of the red pots in their reliefs.³⁵ From the ‘practices’ perspective these depictions provide evidence for potential religious activity additional to material evidence such as the remains of offering pottery. From the ‘transmission’ perspective it is noteworthy that similar scenes appear in other tombs, for example in Thebes (e. g. El-Shahawy 2012, 133 – 35), and to consider the choices for tomb decoration in terms of intericonicity (Laboury 2017).

4.1.1 Religious practices – case study The most important tomb owner in the Leiden-Turin concession at Saqqara area is without doubt the general and future Pharaoh Horemheb. After a career in the ancient Egyptian military, Horemheb became king of Egypt. As a consequence, he was buried in a royal tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Thebes and reused his Memphite tomb for his second wife Mutnodjemet.³⁶ However, principal dedicatee of the superstructure remained Horemheb. On a relief now in Leiden and also on some reliefs still left in his tomb, somebody has carved the uraeus (i. e. the protective cobra typically seen on the brow of Egyptian kings) on the foreheads of representations of the general Horemheb.³⁷ It is of course hard to tell who made this modification, and when, but the symbol indicates his royal status unambiguously. While such additions could have been spontaneous religious impulses, in case of Horemheb the quality of the carving argues against this idea. It is crucial to understand that in ancient Egypt, practices were not necessarily confined to bodily activity. Participation in cultic activities could also take place by representation in both image and text.³⁸ This magic representation in-

 E. g. Weiss 2015c.  E. g. Seiler 1995, 191. Some red pots have also been found around the opening of the shaft of the tomb of Ptahemwia. These are most probably part of the funerary cult, and not evidence for post-burial ‘mortuary’ cult activities, cf. B. Aston 2008 – 9, 20 – 2, fig. 14.  Strouhal 2008, 1– 4.  E. g. Raven 2011, 27.  Assmann 1991; Baines 2007; Bredekamp 2010; Weiss 2015b; 2015c.

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cludes not only ‘pictorial’ offerings, but also statues of offering-recipients, reliefs, inscriptions of individuals and groups, and graffiti.³⁹ That Horemheb was later venerated as a king in his Memphite tomb is indicated, for example, by an inscription dating to the reign of Ramesses II (c. 1279 – 1213 BCE).⁴⁰ Around 20 years after Horemheb’s death, a family of mortuary priests was still in charge of offering services at his tomb. Such services provided the deceased with the necessary food to survive in the afterlife, but were also acts of veneration and memorialisation. Raven has suggested that it was during the later veneration of Horemheb as a king that his Saqqara tomb was rebuilt, and a larger forecourt and first pylon (monumental gateway) added to the tomb.⁴¹ However, considerable doubts have been raised about this interpretation.⁴² Raven considered it unlikely that two pylons were “under construction at the same time for what was still the funerary monument of a commoner” and that “the two pylon gateways rather give the monument a royal character, comparable to the mortuary temples of the Pharaohs at Thebes or Abydos”.⁴³ However, in the concession area of Cairo University northeast of Horemheb’s tomb, there is at least one example of a nonroyal tomb with two pylons and two forecourts⁴⁴ and others have been discovered recently. Another problem with Raven’s theory is that if Horemheb had added another forecourt to his tomb at a later time, he would likely already have completed the decoration of the rest of the tomb.⁴⁵ Yet, irrespective of the question of when the pylons were built, it is clear that Horemheb was venerated in his forecourt as attested by pottery found there:⁴⁶ in addition to a few small pictorial graffiti of royal heads one of a standing king was carved into the doorposts of the first pylon. ⁴⁷

 E. g. Navrátilova 2007; Staring 2010; Van Pelt/Staring 2015; Van Pelt/Staring 2019; Staring 2019.  Martin 1989.  Raven 2011, 27.  See Staring forthcoming. The following argument is his.  Raven 2011, 27.  Cf. S. Tawfik 1991, fig. 1.  Compare Martin 1989, scenes 1– 2.  Raven 2011, 191.  Raven 2011, 29 and see Van Pelt/Staring 2019 noting that the ‘royal’ graffiti appear elsewhere as well.


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4.2 Transmission of texts and images New Kingdom tombs at Saqqara were decorated by professionals and reflect certain choices of the tomb owners and/or the artist: the walls show sequences of Book of the Dead chapters as well as, for example, hymns to deities.⁴⁸ These texts were interwoven with non-religious texts (particularly self-presentation texts), and traditional ‘daily life’ scenes, challenging the idea of two different ‘spheres’ of life, the worlds of the living and the dead. Vignettes (pictorial scenes) illustrated the meaning of texts, or served as substitutes.⁴⁹ Like the tombs themselves, the texts and vignettes from Saqqara have been overshadowed in the scholarly literature by an intense focus on contemporaneous material from Thebes. For this southern Egyptian necropolis, there is abundant evidence that ancient Egyptians visited existing tombs and were influenced by their decorative motifs in selecting decoration for their own tombs.⁵⁰ Possessing a monumental tomb demonstrated the owner’s elite status.⁵¹ Relating oneself to a superior or predecessor through similar tomb decoration was a way to enhance the presentation of this status.⁵² Although tomb decoration at Saqqara differs from the Theban tradition, both centres may in fact have influenced each other.⁵³ Whereas the city of Thebes increased in importance from the Middle Kingdom (c. 1840 – 1640 BCE) onwards,⁵⁴ Memphis was already important in the Old Kingdom (c. 2680 – 2180 BCE). For example, pictorial evidence shows that New Kingdom tomb owners at Saqqara occasionally ‘borrowed’ scenes from Old Kingdom mastabas,⁵⁵ raising interesting questions about the transmission of images. As to textual transmission, Saite-Persian texts from Late Period tombs at Saqqara and nearby Abusir and Heliopolis (c. 664– 404 BCE) show that a tomb’s textual composition

 See e. g. Raven 2010.  E. g. Gessler-Löhr 1993; Lapp 2015.  E. g. The case of lieutenant Pehsukher-Tjenu (Theban Tomb 88), whose tomb shows strong similarities to that of his superior, the chief of the army Amenemheb-Mahu (Theban Tomb 85); see Den Doncker 2017, 337– 8, and Eisermann 1995, 65 – 80.  Bács 2015; Hartwig 2004; Franzmeier 2017.  Den Doncker 2017, 334– 5.  Raven 2010, arguing mainly for an influence from Saqqara to Thebes; see E. Hofmann 2004: Bilder im Wandel (Theben 17) 2004; e. g. 105: “Saqqara war Theben nicht nur deutlich voraus, sondern es war stilbildend” vs. El-Shahawy 2012, 145 for the opposite direction (Thebes influencing Saqqara).  Cf. Guermeur 2005.  E. g. the case of the 19th dynasty tomb of Mes from the cemetery near the Teti pyramid, whose tomb shows parallels to 6th dynasty mastaba Khentika nearby, which was built about 1000 years earlier, see Pieke 2017, 300. Staring 2014, 489 – 90 (with references).

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can be contextualised as part of a textual tradition.⁵⁶ That this practice existed and indeed texts were supposed to be read is reflected, for example, in an inscription in the tomb of Ibi dating to the 25th dynasty which invites their reader to “copy what you like there on a blank roll”.⁵⁷ Recent research on the transmission of Egyptian literary texts has emphasised the role of individual copyists in making conscious choices to redact and alter the text,⁵⁸ emphasising the competence of Egyptian scribes, against traditional notions of ‘scribal error’. On the texts and images found in tombs, recent publications have emphasised the role of individual ‘draughtsmen’ or ‘scribes of the outline’ in creating decoration schemes in tombs in the Theban necropolis.⁵⁹ This finding will be tested against the New Kingdom evidence at Saqqara, potentially bridging a gap in the textual tradition of more than a millennium. In the Saite period, texts were seldom transmitted as separate text units (i. e. spell, chapter, formula, paratextual material, etc.) but rather in clusters, as building blocks (Hussein 2013). The tombs at Saqqara allow us to analyse texts synchronically, in order to underline the principles of how textual compositions were assembled, and laid out on walls, and the interrelationship among text genres, as well as the mechanics of conveying the overall meaning of the compositions.⁶⁰ Textual tradition must be understood as a process. ⁶¹ The composition of tomb texts was the product of a number of intricate processes⁶² and drew from shared textual materials. Yet each tomb composition has a certain degree of originality with regard to the form and arrangement of the incorporated texts, suggesting that the textual composition of an Egyptian tomb resulted from intertextual processes.⁶³ The transmission of these shared textual materials will be examined without the aim of constructing a stemma codicum, or diagram of relationships between textual sources, which has dominated earlier Egyptological studies.⁶⁴ Instead of (re)constructing an Ur-

 Hussein 2013.  Cf. Eyre 1990; 2013, 288 – 9 with reference to Kuhlmann/Schenkel 1983, 71– 3 and Assmann 1983, 66 – 7.  E. g. Parkinson 2009, 200 – 3; Hagen 2012, 238 – 9; Twiston Davies 2018, 422– 9. See also Winand, 2014, 215 – 43 for a more institutionalised view of redaction in literary texts, and also Ragazzoli 2017, 95 – 126.  E. g. Lüscher 2013; Laboury 2012, 203 – 6.  On the method: Hussein 2009.  E. g. Bushell 2009.  Hussein 2011; 2013.  Hussein 2011; 2013; 2017; drawing on e. g., Kristeva 1980; 1986; Duranti 2009; Bauman 2004.  E. g. Westendorf et al. 1975; Schenkel 1978; Zoltán 1989; Kahl 1998; Zeidler 1999; Backes 2005; 2011; Peust 2012; Winand 2014; criticisms see Fleischman 1990; Parkinson, 2009; Hagen 2012; Hussein 2017.


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text not preserved in any surviving textual ‘witness’,⁶⁵ each surviving manuscript should be recognised as a distinct cultural product that has a ‘use life’, and as such its form and function varies through space and time.⁶⁶ Textual transmission was not a purely mechanical act,⁶⁷ but rather a literary, creative, and adaptational endeavour, subject to personal, creative, and practical concerns, among others. Put differently, texts as cultural phenomena constantly evolve as a result of human engagement with them, by creation, canonisation, transmission, reception or modification.⁶⁸ The same principles apply to images (‘intericonicity’⁶⁹): the location of decoration on walls, and also the choice of text and images by the tomb owners can inform us about the religious ideas of individuals in a given period. These considerations can also inform us about possible social interdependence, for example, when a subordinate has been buried in the monumental tomb of his employer.

4.2.1 Transmission – case study There is abundant evidence at Saqqara that contemporaneous tomb owners shared similar decoration schemes. For example, some scenes in the tombs of Horemheb and Meryneith (both from King Tutankhamun’s time, c. 1333 – 1324 BCE) are so similar that they may have been carried out by the same artist.⁷⁰ Yet “copying (…) can be motivated by prestige to different ends”.⁷¹ Similar decorative motifs should be considered as part of a complex process of intericonicity.⁷² Another example can be found in a scene in the tomb of Tia and Tia, which is next to Horemheb’s tomb. A relief shows a boat journey on the Nile, most probably to the temple of Osiris in Abydos.⁷³ The representation of the river features elaborate waterlines and several animals swimming in it such as fish and a crocodile. This representation recalls the typical ‘marsh scenes’ known from Old Kingdom mastabas. ⁷⁴ A somewhat rigid comparison of the scene with the exist-

         

E. g. Maas 1958; West 1973; Cherniack 1994. E. g. McGann 1983; Cerquiglini 1989; Besse 2003. One copy made from another cf. e. g. Schenkel 1986. Bell 2008; Hussein 2013. Laboury 2017. Raven 2017b. Den Doncker 2015. Den Doncker 2017, 335. Term: Laboury 2017, 229 – 58. Martin 1997, 47. Martin 1997, 47.

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ing parallels led the excavators to conclude that there were too many “contradictions” to assert that the scene in Tia and Tia’s tomb had actually been copied from an Old Kingdom exemplar.⁷⁵ While they did acknowledge the possibility that artists and their clients could have been inspired by the surrounding mastaba tombs, they ignored the possibility that the variation was a deliberate result of the creative process in which motifs were borrowed and then playfully given a new meaning.

4.3 Landscape The first pyramids at Saqqara were built from around 2600 BCE onward. Old monuments remained meaningful for later generations, although their significance may have changed.⁷⁶ In addition to King Djoser’s step pyramid (c. 2592– 2566 BCE) other kings were also buried at Saqqara in the Old Kingdom. The causeway of King Unas’ pyramid (2321– 2306 BCE) may still have served as an access road to the desert plateau in the New Kingdom. While certain areas might have been restricted in terms of access and mobility, lived space could transcend such boundaries in certain contexts, such as during funerals or religious processions.⁷⁷ The role of religious agency in creating the landscape must be considered. The location of tombs, for example, is often taken for granted. Yet the choices underlying the spatial distribution of tombs is still poorly understood. Why were certain areas of the necropolis selected for monumental tombs, and how were these structures accessed (physically and visually) from the distant habitation areas? What were their spatial relations to contemporaneous and older monuments? Previous studies focusing on the Saqqara New Kingdom tombs have usually been analysed the monuments individually in terms of architecture, iconography, and biographies of their owners, but have not considered the tombs in the context of their immediate surroundings and wider cultural geography. Only occasionally has the impact of the visibility of monuments been acknowledged.⁷⁸ It is therefore crucial to move on and to analyse the use and appropriation of space at Saqqara in terms of tomb architecture, access, processional routes, and shared spaces.⁷⁹ The ancient Egyptians themselves conceived of Saqqara as part of a wider cultural geography. For example, some of the tomb     

Martin 1997, 30 – 1. Cf. Navrátilová 2015; Goldstein 2002; Staring 2019. E. g. Staring 2015a. See Málek 1992; Snape 2011, Pethen 2017. See e. g. Dodson 2016; Nicholson 2016; Staring 2015b.


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owners placed stelae in the nearby Serapeum, a temple where the Apis bull was honoured.⁸⁰ Again, the same evidence is analysed from different angles. The religious practices approach would ask which action was performed by whom, when and why, whereas the landscape approach is more interested in mapping the evidence of permanent or semi-permanent features and explaining them in relation to each other. Crucially, any cultural geography needs to be (re‐)enacted and mediated by individuals and groups who actively participated in its creation and are at the same time influenced by it.⁸¹ When Horemheb began to construct his tomb at Saqqara, the pyramids had stood there for millennia.⁸² The cultural geography of Saqqara is thus much more than an accumulation of monuments connected to gods, ancestors, and past kings. Earlier monuments and infrastructure remained visible. For Saqqara this is important because it was not just a place where the deceased were buried, but a combination of natural and built environment, constructed cognitively, symbolically, and physically by religious practices, such as funerary ceremonies and mortuary cults, as well as where various public (religious) festivals were performed.⁸³ The landscape approach mainly looks into the architectural and infrastructural evidence for such religious practices and how, for example, certain processional routes affected the location of tombs and vice versa.

4.3.1 Landscape – case study For the choice of tomb location, practical reasons such as accessibility or personal funds may have played a role, alongside factors such as gender, age, or social status,⁸⁴ as well as social relationships⁸⁵ and profession.⁸⁶ For example, Tia and Tia placed their tomb between the tombs of Horemheb and Maya.⁸⁷ Tia lived in the Ramesside period and was overseer of the treasury, and was a successor to Maya in this office. Tia’s wife, also called Tia, was the sister of king Ramses II. The combination of family relations to the royal court and shared offices provides two reasons that Tia and Tia may have wanted to be buried so close to Hor-

       

E. g. Staring 2014 and Frood 2016, 69 – 87. Similarly Goldstein 2002; Dickhardt et al. 2003; Park 1994. For a similar argument compare Sullivan 2016, 76. E. g. Málek 1984; Raven 2000; Staring 2015a. Compare e. g. Seidlmayer 2003. Stevenson 2009. Staring 2014– 15. Martin 1997, 3.

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emheb. High officials usually related their tombs to their predecessors in terms of decoration and sometimes of location, often in an attempt to eclipse the earlier tomb.⁸⁸ An additional reason to be buried immediately north of Horemheb’s tomb was the status of Horemheb as founder of the 19th dynasty, to which Ramses II belonged.⁸⁹ This idea is supported by the fact that Tia and Tia renovated a northern boundary wall of Horemheb and made it into one shared boundary wall,⁹⁰ increasing the interplay of the two monuments. The landscape approach is also key to the detection of cultic activity over time. Beside the evidence provided by textual sources, the sequence of building activity provides important insights as to when earlier monuments were no longer in use. The evidence, however, is often far from straightforward. For example, Tia and Tia restored parts of Horemheb’s boundary wall, but built the pyramidion of their tomb over about one third of the earlier tomb of Ramose.⁹¹ Frazer assumed that Ramose’s tomb was no longer in use at that time. However, in spite of the destruction of Ramose’s own pyramid, some effort was taken to keep the tomb accessible: at some point a gate with limestone doorposts was cut in the north-east corner of the wall of Ramose’s tomb.⁹² These limestone posts preserve graffiti, one of which shows a male figure smelling a lotus flower.⁹³ This is a symbol typically associated with ancestors in ancient Egypt,⁹⁴ so we may tentatively interpret the head as evidence of the continued veneration of Ramose. Later, Khay’s tomb chapel covered an inscribed part of Tia and Tia’s pyramid.⁹⁵ Such interventions were common and do not automatically imply that religious activities had ceased in the older tomb. On the contrary, the various building activities provide an interesting case study for the day-today negotiations of religious practice in a lived environment.

5 Postscript The ‘Walking Dead’ approach presented here aims to challenge a prevailing tendency in Egyptology to overemphasise the significance of tomb owners and their

       

Den Doncker 2017, 352. Martin 1997, 2. Martin 1997, 3 – 4. Martin 2001, 1. Frazer 2001, 2. Frazer 2001, 2 and fig. 2. Compare e. g. Demarée 1983. Martin 2001, 59.


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grave goods at the expense of considering the role that the creation and use of cemeteries played in the social existence of the living.⁹⁶ When the current article was submitted the ‘Walking Dead’ project had just begun. Now, about two years later, two conferences – one in Leiden,⁹⁷ the other one in Cairo,⁹⁸ have proved fruitful and triggered positive feedback by our fellow Egyptologists as well as by colleagues from other disciplines. In the first half of the project, we have learned to understand much better the multilayered information available from the decorated tombs, which relate to one another in terms of chosen topics and genres in both text and imagery, but which are never exact copies from one another. The tombs share common grounds in terms of the choice of themes at large which were believed to support the desired eternal life of the tomb owners, but a multitude of other layers of information can be detected that relate to the daily life practice of living even stronger than to the benefit of the deceased. The tomb owners were normally still alive when they commissioned their tomb to be built and decorated. Hence they wished to display their taste, status as well as their access to elite iconography and knowledge for eternity in both life and death, and indeed in relation to their living and deceased peers. In other words, they chose both the location of their tomb as well as its wall decoration, texts and images, and its architectural designs fully conscious of other existing tombs (both contemporary ones, but also sometimes also reflecting much older traditions). The various choices to be made depended on the religious ideas shared by the tomb owners who wished to be commemorated for ever and live on in the afterlife, but at the same time choices were made to distinguish each tomb owner from their peers and to show off his social status. The representation of subordinates in tombs functions in the same multilayered way. One the one hand the representations of, for example as offering bearers or servants performung cult activities serve as eternal support of the tomb owners’ well-being in the afterlife. On the other hand individuals recognizable by name and title(s) gained status in their superior’s tomb and became by means of their representation part of the wider memorial culture of the venerated dead at Saqqara. On yet another level, the use of both the architectural space and its tomb decoration in daily life by the living is important. The tomb decoration allows both an optical and an auditive interpretation by the various living recipients visiting the tombs.⁹⁹ Finally, tomb representations may also have served as emotional mementors of religious practices or recitations only hinted at, but not spelled    

See also Stevenson 2009. Staring/Twiston Davies/Weiss 2019. Planned for publication. Compare also Meyer-Dietrich 2018.

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out. To sum up, a lot more work needs to be done, but I am confident that the conceptualisation of practices, transmission and landscape as three important vectors of religious agency will prove useful to model religious change at Saqqara, and hopefully also at other sites.

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Lara Weiss

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Lara Weiss

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Michele Renee Salzman

A new “topography of devotion”

Aurelian and Solar worship in Rome¹ Abstract: The late third-century emperor Aurelian’s fashioning of Sol Invictus worship was both innovative and influential for the religion and “topography of devotion” of the city of Rome. As I demonstrate in this paper, Aurelian’s placement of a monumental templum of Sol Invictus in the Campus Agrippae Region of the city linked Aurelian’s cult and his victory over the Eastern queen Zenobia of Palmyra with the monuments and victories of Augustus over Cleopatra, still physically visible in the nearby Campus Martius across the nearby Via Lata. This new topography of Solar devotion also spoke to the military ties of its worshipers, for it was lodged near to the preexisting camps of the urban cohorts whose newly built – or rebuilt – barracks were located closeby within the recently constructed Aurelianic walls. Aurelian also ushered in new rites and expanded the body of Solar worshippers to incorporate senatorial elites through the establishment of a new priestly college to Sol in Rome. By including multiple levels of society into his reformed Sol Invictus cult and by connecting his patronage to topographical traditions in the city of Rome, Aurelian demonstrated how a universalizing religious impulse supported by a new emperor could unite a city and its society. He also changed the religious identity of the city which, by the midfourth century, was known for its devotion not just to Jupiter, but to Sol. Later emperors would strive to build support for their rule by following Aurelian and appealing to a universalizing cult that built upon pre-existing topographical associations in the city of Rome.

1 Introduction “Colunt [Romae] autem et deos ex parte Iovem et Solem.” “And indeed they [at Rome] honor the gods, and especially Jupiter and Sol.”²

After seizing power in a military coup in 270, Aurelian faced a series of military and political crises. He confronted an invasion of Germanic invaders, the Iuthun-

 Moralee 2018, 42 uses the term “topography of devotion.” I have adopted it here.  Expositio Totius Mundi et Gentium, ed. Valentini and Zucchetti, I, 265. OpenAccess. © 2020 Laetzer/Urciuoli, published by De Gruyter. the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110641813-007

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Michele Renee Salzman

gi, in Italy, who ravished Umbria.³ Aurelian’s army finally won a decisive victory in the Danube region, but the threat of invasion had created fear and riots in Rome. One unique, and not altogether reliable source, the Augustan History, claimed that the Senate responded to the crisis by consulting the Sibylline books and ordered the performance of religious ceremonies of purification, the Roman ambarvalia and amburbium. ⁴ We cannot verify this act, but it speaks to the need for a religious response to a military threat to restore order. It is the pattern that Aurelian followed as well when restoring order to Rome. Indeed, after his defeat of the Iuthungi, the victorious Aurelian faced an open rebellion when he entered the city to claim his office in 271. The mint workers, under the direction of their chief, one Felicissimus, and with the support of a number of senators, had taken up arms, angered in part at Aurelian’s economic reforms and his elevation by the soldiers.⁵ A pitched battle ensued in which, according to our sources, some 7000 of the rioters died in fighting against the soldiers on the Caelian Hill in Rome.⁶ It was perhaps in this battle that Aurelian made what would be a signature claim for the legitimation of his regime, that “God had given him the purple.”⁷ Aurelian’s assertion of being divinely chosen to rule – a princeps a diis electus’- was critical for his position.⁸ He reinforced his  Zos. Hist. nova 1.49.1 identified the Germans Aurelian confronted in Italy as Alamanni, but they were accompanied by their neighbors, identified as Iuthungi by Dexippus frg. 6 [Jacoby]. Aurelian’s defeat in 270 is noted by the Hist. Aug. Aur. 18.3; 21.1– 3; Aur. Vict. Epit. 35.2; Zos. 1.37.1– 2. He won victories in Umbria and then near Pavia, Aur. Vict. 35.2. After these successes in Italy, Aurelian pursued the barbarians to the Danube area and successfully defeated them there. For the reconstruction of these events, see Zos. Hist. nova. 1.49.1 and Paschoud, 1971, vol. 1, p. 163.  For riots in Rome in response to the threat of invasion, see Zos. 1.49.1– 2; HA Aurel. 18.4-.6; 20.3; 21.5. The Augustan History is notoriously unreliable, and this is the sole text to reference this consultation of the Sibylline Books at this juncture. For bibliography on the Augustan History, see note 16 below.  HA Aurel. 38.2: ‘fuit sub Aureliano etiam monetariorum bellum Felicissimo rationali auctore…’ See too Bond 2016, 133 – 135; Watson 1999, 52– 53; and note 6 below.  Aurelius Victor, De Caes. 35,6 cites 7,000 soldiers killed, as does HA Aurel. 38.2. Malalas, Chron. 12, incorrectly identifies this revolt as taking place in Antioch. See Dey 2011, 112 n. 7.  FHG 4.197, at 10.6 in Latin reads: “Aurelianus seditione militari aliquando appetitus dixit falli milites, qui regum fata in sua se potestate habere putarent. Quippe deum, qui dator sit purpurae (quam utique dextera praetendebat), etiam annos regni definire.” The anonymous continuator of Dio goes from Valerian and Gallienus through the death of Constantine. This text was a source for Zonaras; see the discussion by Banchich and Lane 2009, 122 – 124.  Garnsey and Humfress 2001, 26 – 27, state that Aurelian was the first third century emperor to make this claim. This statement is hard to verify given the lacunae in our information about third century emperors. And Fears 1977 argues that this was a third century phenomenon more broadly seen.

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legitimacy by reiterating this claim throughout his reign, as coinage and inscriptions attest.⁹ The primary divinity whose support Aurelian claimed – Sol – was a powerful one especially among the military.¹⁰ Indeed, for that reason a number of Aurelian’s third century imperial predecessors had fostered their connections to Solar cults.¹¹ But Aurelian’s claim to Sol as his patron deity and his fashioning of Sol Invictus worship was different than his predecessors. As I will demonstrate, the Solar cult that he imported into Rome, although building on pre-existing patterns of worship in the army and in the city, transformed not just the cult, but also the “topography of devotion” in the late antique city. His religious gratitude for his victories over the rebel Zenobia queen of Palmyra, and over Tetricus, a rival contendor for the throne active in Gaul (270 – 274), was manifested by constructing a new and magnificent temple and precinct to Sol in the Campus Agrippae. This area, to the north of the Via Flamnia, was laid out as a park for strolling by Agrippa in the age of Augustus (see the map).¹² But with the building of Aurelian’s wall, this area saw a massive reordering of its priorities. Aurelian transformed this region of the city to focus attention on imperial piety and to demonstrate the abundance of this emperor’s patronage as part of his claim to power. Aurelian’s version of Solar worship, as it developed in Rome, was uniquely able to unite multiple social classes in the third century city. Sol was worshipped there by soldiers and the military, both in the city and across the empire. But Aurelian expanded the cult to include senatorial elites as well as the populace at large. His success ensured the popularity of the cult of Sol Invictus well past Aurelian’s brief five-year reign, as the mid-fourth century epigraph to this paper attests. Indeed, Aurelian’s focus on Sol and his development of a new “topography of devotion” for Solar worship was paradigmatic for future emperor, including Maxentius and, most notably, Constantine who, like Aurelian, entered Rome after a bloody civil war and proceeded to develop a new, albeit Christian, “topography of devotion” in Rome. Like Aurelian, Constantine’s personal interaction with and gratitude for the divine force who granted him victory was translated into developing new monuments that transformed the city of Rome. Just as the Temple of Sol was also a victory monument for Aurelian, so the first basilica Constantine constructed in Rome to the Saviour, the modern St. John the Later Aurelian continued to make this claim central to his authority, as for the numismatic and epigraphic evidence indicates: see note 10 below and Wienand 2015, 63 – 99..  See Rowan 2012; Berrens 2004, especially 57– 88.  See Rowan 2012.  For the park, see A. Gellius 14.5.1.


Michele Renee Salzman

Fig. 1: Rome at the time of the Emperor Aurelian (275 CE). Map by Ian Mladjov.

an, lie on top of the destroyed camp of the equites singulares, the soldiers who had supported his opponent Maxentius.¹³ To appreciate Aurelian’s impact on the “topography of devotion” in Rome, I begin, in Section One of this paper, with a brief discussion of the circumstances that moved Aurelian to initiate his version of solar cult in Rome. According to our sources, he had a personal contact with the deity in Palmyra. In commemoration of that contact which confirmed his victory over Zenobia in 272 and that over Tetricus in 274, he celebrated games at the templum to Sol Invictus in Rome in the Campus Agrippae, marking its dedication in 274 on December 25 with annual games .¹⁴ In Section Two, I argue that the pre-existing topographical associations of Solar cult in Rome were key to Aurelian’s placement of the templum of Sol Invictus in the Campus Agrippae Region of the city. Thus, the location of this temple served a double purpose. First, it linked Aurelian’s devotion and his victory over the Eastern queen Zenobia of Palmyra with the monuments and victories of Augustus over Cleopatra, still physically visible in the nearby Campus Martius

 The narrative of this is well known. For discussion of the sources and the implication of the topography, see Curran 2000, 93 – 96.  Salzman 2017, 37– 49.

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across the Via Lata (see map).¹⁵ Second, the location of Aurelian’s templum Sol Invictus spoke to the military ties of this cult since it was lodged near the preexisting camps of the urban cohorts, whose newly built – or rebuilt- barracks were located nearby within the recently constructed Aurelianic walls. Thus the location of Aurelian’s solar complex has contemporary associations with the military as shown by the presence of the urban cohorts, a point that has not been appreciated by scholars working on Roman topography. Yet this is a second key topographical factor in Aurelian’s decision to locate a new Temple to Sol Invictus in the Campus Agrippae. Finally, as I show in Section three of this paper, the attachment of the military in Rome to Sol Invictus pre-existed the construction of Aurelian’s Solar temple complex, as is supported by the epigraphic evidence from Rome. In fact, prior to Aurelian, solar worship appealed almost exclusively to a non-elite urban population – soldiers, merchants, tradespeople, and workers. Hence, Aurelian’s association of his rule with this powerful deity would have appealed to non-elites who, as noted earlier, had rioted against his rule. But Aurelian’s innovations of this cult extended even to the elites, for he aimed to incorporate senatorial elites through the establishment of a new priestly college. The development of a college for the priests of Sol, the pontifices Solis, drawn from senatorial aristocrats, was a meaningful attempt to win over supporters. By including multiple levels of Roman society into his reformed Sol Invictus cult – senators along with the military and non-elites – Aurelian found an effective and durable means to restore control over the city after a bloody civil war and to build loyalty to his regime. This was a universalizing impulse that could work across the empire as well as in Rome. The success of Aurelian’s achievement in developing a version of Solar religion that united all groups in the city can to some extent by measured by the important status that this cult enjoyed for over a century. By the mid-fourth century, Rome was known for its devotion not just to Jupiter, but to Sol. The monumental Temple to Sol Invictus transformed not just “the topography of devotion” in the Campus Agrippae, but in Rome.

 For the importance of Augustan solar cult in this area in the third century, see Frischer et al. 2017 18 – 122, and especially 72– 75.


Michele Renee Salzman

2 Aurelian and Solar worship in Rome: a personal connection The late fourth-century Life of Aurelian from the Historia Augusta relates that after Aurelian’s victory over Queen Zenobia of Palmyra, the emperor went as if to fulfill his vows in the temple of Sol Elagabalus at Emesa.¹⁶ 4. And so, having reduced the East to its former state, Aurelian entered Emesa as a conqueror, and at once made his way to the Temple of Elagabalus, to pay his vows as if by a duty common to all. 5. But there he beheld that divine form (formam numinis) which he had seen supporting his cause in the battle. 6. Wherefore he not only established a temple/temples there, dedicating gifts of great value, but he also built a temple to the Sun at Rome, which he consecrated with still greater pomp, as we shall relate in the proper place.¹⁷

The author of this Life sought to explain Aurelian’s personal connection to Sol as the direct result of a personal encounter, a narrative reminiscent of other imperial first-person meetings with deities, such as Constantine’s encounter with his god Apollo (tuus Apollo) in a pagan shrine in Gaul or his later vision of the Chi Rho before his battle .¹⁸ The promise of a temple as an ex voto follows after Aurelian’s victory over Zenobia, but it is worth remarking that the narrative in which Aurelian promised to rebuild the temple to Sol in Palmyra that his troops had destroyed in putting down Zenobia’s rebellion is found in a fictitious letter of Aurelian included in the Historia Augusta, itself a very untrustworthy source.¹⁹ The Historia’s author claims, in what looks like a reversal of religious ritual, that Aurelian promised to send a priest (pontifex) from Rome to dedicate the restored temple to Sol in Palmyra. This may be a reference to the development of a priestly college in

 For a complete dismissal of the reliability of the HA and a proposed dating before 385, see Cameron 2011, 743 – 82. This earlier dating is rightly rejected by Rohrbacher 2016, 146 – 169, who proposes a late fourth century date, (ca. 390). Rohrbacher’s arguments are persuasive about Cameron’s dating being too early, but Rohrbacher’s dismissal of any religious information in the HA is not convincing. It is in part to counter that view that I am writing this article.  HA Aurel. 25.4– 6: “Recepto igitur orientis statu Emesam victor Aurelianus ingressus est ac statim ad templum Heliogabali tetendit, quasi communi officio vota soluturus. 5 Verum illic eam formam numinis repperit, quam in bello sibi faventem vidit. 6 Quare et illic templa fundavit donariis ingentibus positis et Romae Soli templum posuit maiore honorificentia consecratum, ut suo dicemus loco.”  For Constantine’s 310 vision of Apollo in Gaul, see Pan. Lat. 6.21.4. For Constantine’s vision of the Chi-Rho in his dream recounted by Eusebius, see VC 1. 28 – 43.  HA Aurel. 31.

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Rome by Aurelian, or it may be fanciful. Nonetheless, the association of the cult in Rome with the Palmyrene cult of Sol recurs in a number of authors. According to Zosimus and Eutropius, the temple Aurelian built for Sol in Rome was filled with the treasures of Palmyra, and included the Palmyrene deities Helios and Belos; it even allegedly included a portrait of Aurelian, either in fresco or painted on a wood board.²⁰ Aurelian’s appropriation of Sol as a divine patron and guarantor of his victory after defeating Queen Zenobia in the east and Tetricus in Gaul was not a novel claim in the third century. The Severans had issued coins representing Sol as the guarantor of their military victory and of the security of the Empire.²¹ Gallienus, Aurelian’s predecessor, had also issued coins which depicted that emperor’s investiture by Sol in a similar attempt to associate himself with military victory.²² Certainly, Aurelian’s focus on Sol served to reinforce these military associations to his eastern victory. But his claim to having been “born to rule” was articulated in new ways through his association with Sol. Indeed, given the difficulties that he faced in Rome upon his accession, his reliance on the idea of divine selection to justify his position was useful for supporting Aurelian’s authority. These factors were at play in Aurelian’s reformulation of Solar cult and his building of a monumental sacred precinct to Sol Invictus in Rome as a way of manifesting the power of his supporting deity.

3 A new “topography of devotion” 3.1 Earlier temples to Sol in Rome Aurelian’s temple to Sol Invictus was not built on any pre-existing Solar temple, although there were several smaller shrines or temples to versions of Sol in the city prior to his rule. A republican aedes to Sol or Sol et Luna is attested in the time of Tacitus, perhaps built into the cavea of the Circus Maximus (Tacitus, Ann. 15.74.1).²³ A small aedicula to Sol Invictus from the area of the Theater of

 Zosimus 1.61.2; Eutropius 9.15; Hist. Aug. Aur. 28.4; 10.2. For the frequent paintings on wood boards in temples, see Liverani 2018, pp. 295 – 328.  See Berrens 2004, 80 (for Gallienus’s actions) and 57– 88 (for earlier third century evidence).  Brunt 1979, 173 – 174.  See Sol in the Circus Maximus, LTUR IV, 333 – 334, P. Cianco Rossetti. Another temple of Sol on the Quirinal has been disputed. Hijmans argues for its survival into the first century when it is described by Quintilian as very old (Inst. 1.7.12; Hijmans 2010, pp. 386 – 387), but this has been dismissed by most modern scholars. If it existed, it is not attested past the first century CE.


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Marcellus is one of the earliest places of worship in Rome specifically dedicated to Sol Invictus; dated to 158 CE, its small size (40 cm high) indicates that it was a private shrine.²⁴ In the third century, the emperor Elagabalus is alleged to have built or rebuilt a temple to Sol Elagabalus on the Palatine Hill, but the structure did not outlast his reign, even if the cult of Sol Elagabalus continued in Rome unofficially.²⁵ One additional site for solar worship in Rome is of particular note for understanding Aurelian’s cult. In modern Trastevere, in the area of Piazza Ippolito Nievo, a portico, dated on epigraphic grounds to before 102 A.D. (CIL 6.31034) and described as the prima porticus Solis, (see map for location) was restored with the permission of the kalatores, assistants of Rome’s most important state priests. Several scholars have argued that this Trastevere shrine to Sol should be associated with the patron divinity of the city of Palmyra, established by the Palmyrene community in Rome prior to Aurelian.²⁶ They have concluded this based on a number of bi- or tri- lingual inscriptions to the Palmyrene deities Bel, Aglibol, Iarhibol, Malakbek and Res Patroios found in nineteenth century excavations in a vineyard. then called the Vigna Bonelli, that was in the area of modern Piazza Ippolito Nievo. Other inscriptions to Sol Invictus from other areas of the city or other parts of Trastevere cannot, as Hijmans has rightfully concluded, be securely provenanced to this one site.²⁷ Nonetheless, the group of inscriptions from this area from the nineteenths century vineyards of Vigna Bonelli, modern Piazza Ippolito Nievo (see map), attest to the presence of Sol Invictus worship among Palmyrenes in Trastevere in the first and second centuries. This is relevant. Although there were already in the city worshippers of Sol Invictus from Palmyra who would have been familiar with this cult, they were associated with the Trastevere area in Rome. Yet Aurelian chose to locate his newly formulated Temple Complex to Sol Invictus in another part of the city, the Campus Agrippae, an area with quite different memories and topographical associations.

 See Sol Invictus, aedicula, LTUR IV, 334, P. Liverani. The aedicula was given in gratitude: Invicto/Soli/Felicissimus et/Philocurius aed(iculam)/d(onum) d(ederunt).  Prado 2010, 124 n. 330. For more on the temple of Elagabalus in the area now known as the Vigna Barberini, see Villedieu 1995, 33 – 39.  This view is based on Chausson 1995, 661– 765.  Hijmans 2010, 396 – 402.

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3.2 The Location of Aurelian’s Temple to Sol Invictus Textual evidence places Aurelian’s temple to Sol Invictus in Region Seven of the city, the Campus Agrippae; it is so recorded by the fourth-century Regionary Catalogue, after which comes the Castra (Urbana); both are said to have been dedicated (dedicavit) by Aurelian in the Campus Agrippae. ²⁸ (See map). Textual evidence also indicates that in the porticoes of the Temple of Sol Invictus wine was stored for distribution at a reduced price, an innovation ushered in by Aurelian.²⁹ As to the temple itself, the evidence for its physical layout is disputed. Sixteenth- century drawings by Palladius and others of this temple are identified as with the site of modern S. Silvester in Capite, and these drawings have led most scholars to posit that the temple had an east-west orientation.³⁰ This would suit the alignment recommended by Vitruvius for temples in general, and it would seem particularly apt that a temple to Sol should have an east-west orientation.³¹ This positioning would fit, too, Carandini’s proposed reconstruction of this area as his research similarly aligns the two porticos in an east-west direction parallel along the modern Via Lata.³² The sixteenth-century drawings also show in this area two rectangular enclosure walls, one of which encircles a circular building with stairs in the front.³³ But since no one has identified the remains of its cella or foundations, some scholars have posited that these were only porticoes in an enclosed sacred space without a temple proper.³⁴ A coin by Aurelian’s successor, Probus (276 – 283), to Sol Invictus that sketches out a round temple with an open door has been ad-

 Chron. 354, 148 M: templum Solis et castra in campo Agrippae dedicavit [Aurelian].  Hist. Aug. Aur. 48.4.  LTUR, s.v. Sol, Templum, 331– 332. See too Liverani 2006 – 2007, 302– 305; Hijmans 2012, 385 – 390.  Vitruvius  Carandini 2012, I, 487, n. 146.  Carandini 2012, I, 487, n. 143. Palladius’s plan of the complex also notes the dimensions of the structure, which would make it a very large temple. However, the dimensions and reconstruction in Palladius’s plan reflects his interpretation of the remains, which differs from other Renaissance drawings of the site an dhence cannot be used to reconstruct the temple with confidence; see Lanzarini 2012, 101– 111. For the drawing and a more literal approach, see table 205 – 206 in Carandini, Atlas, II.  Hijmans 2010, 388 suggests that there was no actual temple building within the enclosed space of the porticoes, but this does not square well with the testimony of Zosimus.


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duced to support the idea that the temple was a circular building.³⁵ Aurelius Victor stated that Aurelian built a fanum – sacred precinct – without mentioning an aedes or temple building, but we should not take this statement as definitive; a study of his word usage does not indicate a sharp distinction between templum and fanum. ³⁶ Moreover, the Regionary Catalogue, the author of the Historia Augusta, and Jerome assert that what was built in this precinct was a temple, or templum. Given the widespread use of templum for a building, and the coin’s representation of a temple, it seems most likely that a real temple was built here as part of a monumental precinct which was described as “magnificum” by Aurelius Victor who had been in Rome and presumably seen it. That the temple was in an open area precinct with porticoes would fit, since earlier temples of Sol were open to the sky. This monumental building went up quite quickly. Aurelian may well have built his temple within a pre-existing portico that had existed into the Flavian period; if so, he would have had to have it reworked quite considerably.³⁷ The porticoes for the temple were also functional. As I noted earlier, wine was stored for distribution in the porticoes of the temple of Sol from the time of Aurelian and continuing through the fourth and fifth centuries.³⁸ An inscription (CIL 6.1785 + 31931) records the transport of barrels from the area of the Ciconiae to the Temple; this inscription was discovered near the Church of S. Silvester in Capite and provides some additional evidence for the location of the temple with its porticoes used for wine distribution. Other finds from the site shed some additional light on the nature of the temple; reliefs of Victories and conquered barbarians speak to its being a victory

 Carandini 2012, I, 487, n. 142 accepts this as evidence, but this is opposed by J. Calzini Gysens and R. Coarelli, LTUR IV s.v. Solum Templum, pp. 332– 333. For the coins, see RIC V.2, 55N. 354, 62 s. NN 414– 417, 74 Nn 536 – 538.  Aurelius Victor 35.7: His tot tantisque prospere gestis fanum Romae Soli magnificum constituit donariis ornans opulentis. For his usage of fanum and templum interchangeably, see Aur. Vict. De Caesaribus for the use of templum/a: 1.5-.6; 16.12-.15; 42.5-.9 and for the use of fanum/ a in this work, see 35.6-.8; 40.24-.28. For the De viris Illustribus and the use of for templum/templa, see 19.4-.5; 22.3; 46.2-.3; 65.5; 70.3-.4. For the De. Vir. Ill. And the use of fanum, see this work, 22.3. For the Origo gentis Romanae and Victor’s use of templum, see 14.4-.5; and for fanum in this work, see 5.3.  The shrine was last attested in Flavian times; see Carandini 2012, I, 487 for the suggestion that the portico in connection with the ara Providentia of Tiberius was reused; this is not commonly accepted, nor is his proposal that some inscriptions to Mithra found in the portico are from a cult site here (Carandini 2012, I, 487, n. 148).  Hist. Aug. Aurelian 25: templum Solis fundavit; 48.4: in porticibus templi Solis fiscalia vina ponuntur. For discussion, see LTUR s.v. Sol, Templum, 331– 32 and Liverani, 2006 – 7, 302– 305.

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monument.³⁹ It was, by ancient accounts, an impressive temple, and one possible indication of its luxuriousness are eight porphyry columns that were said by an eighth- century source to have been given ca/ 536 by a Roman owner of the property for the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; we cannot be certain if these came from this monument, and, even if they did, they could have come from the temple porticoes in the precinct.⁴⁰ However, if these columns are any indicators of the original construction, temple and complex were built with very expensive materials with impressive dimensions.

3.3 Topographical Associations of the Templum Solis The Campus Agrippae area had strong associations to Augustus. After the death of Agrippa in 12 BC, Augustus made this region public land.⁴¹ Augustus also founded the urban cohorts, whose duties were to keep peace in the city. He may have built camps for them in the modern area of Piazza di Spagna, and there is good evidence that some were housed there even in the first century, when troops are attested in the porticus Vipsania in 69 CE.⁴² And there is good epigraphic evidence for their presence by the late second century, including a dedication to the Genius of the Century, dated to 182 CE (CIL 6. 217).⁴³ Aurelian’s newly built – or rebuilt – Castra Urbana was constructed in part or entirely on this same site.⁴⁴ The location was convenient for the military since it was near a good supply of water (the Aqua Virgo and Aqua Marcia), and with open space for exercise for the soldiers (see map). If it housed all four urban cohorts, it must have been a camp of some size prior to Aurelian’s time. We do not know anything of its actual form, but Aurelian’s construction within the recently built walls may have recalled its earlier foundations in formal ways as well.

 Carandini 2012, I, 487, n. 144 for the fragments. Zosimus 1.61 for Belos and Helios.  Codrinus reports that the property now belonged to a widow, Marcia, who gave them away; see Codrinus, De antiquit. Const. 4 P 65 (p. 131– 2 Bekker – Corpus Script. Hist. Byz.) and more recently, Ps.-Codrinus, Narratio de structura templi S. Sophiae, Antiquitates Constantinopolitanae 4. 185 ed. Prenger 1901, I, 75 – 76. However, this is a text of the 8th century, so not entirely reliable. On the other hand, we do have other instances of private donations of public monuments from Rome from the fifth or sixth centuries; see Liverani 2015. Aurelius Victor 35.7.  Cassius Dio 55.8.  Tacitus Hist. 1.31; cf. 1.6.  Carandini 2012, I, 482, n. 63  Chronogr. A. 354 148 M: “templum Solis et castra in campo Agrippae dedicavit [Aurelian].” It is also linked with the temple of Aurelian to Sol in the campus in the Regionary catalogues.


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Aurelian’s newly refurbished camp in this area would be needed given the new duties for the urban cohorts. Aurelian’s wall was intended to secure the city against attack but also to control movements of people, and this duty would have fallen to the soldiers. They could also assist with tax collection as people moved in and out of the city.⁴⁵ Importantly, the camps were near entry gates to the city, the Porta Pinciana and Porta Flaminia (see map). And the castra were also close to the Forum Suarium, an area for the distribution of pork that was placed under the direction of a tribune of the urban cohorts; this office was given a new and expanded role to play under Aurelian, who also now regularly distributed subsidized pork rations here (see map).⁴⁶ The importance of these camps increased in the fourth century city, for Constantine disbanded the military contingents in Rome, the equites singulares, and the praetorian guard. After 312, this office continued its administrative role, under the direction of the urban prefect, as is attested by Symmachus in the late fourth century.⁴⁷ Thus the building of camps in the Campus Agrippa, where military officials were involved with the distribution of food and controlled the movements of people, was a good way to use this area while the building of a Aurelian’s new Temple of Sol would appeal to the military housed nearby. The building of a monumental complex to Sol Invictus in an area redolent with Aurelian’s contributions to the well-being of its people – subsidized wine in the porticoes of the Temple of Sol Invictus and subsidized pork in the nearby Forum Suarium – transformed the Campus Agrippae into a region of religious as well as economic importance. The monumental temple of Sol Invictus proclaimed Aurelian’s victory and divine support, while the Castra Urbana helped to secure his control of the city. This combination of military victory and Solar cult that had transformed the character of the area of the Campus Agrippae reflected a similar conjunction of ideas in the nearby Campus Martius. Augustus had brought an obelisk from Egypt and placed it there to be used as a meridian in a sundial that both noted the times of the day and also commemorated his victory over Cleopatra. Though the meridian was no longer functioning by the time of Aurelian, the obelisk and the inscription would have remained for visitors in late antiquity. The third century visitor to the Temple of Sol Invictus could easily walk across the modern Via Flaminia to see the obelisk that Augus-

 For these functions, see Dey 2010, 110 – 123.  Carandini 2012, I, 487, n. 153, 154. For the tribune of the urban cohorts involved in the meat supply, see CIL 5.1156a=ILS 722. For Aurelian’s innovation in the meat supply, see Aur. Vict. 35; and HA Aurel. 35.1.  Symm. Ep. 9.57, dated before 402; Rel. 42.

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tus had given to commemorate his conquest as a “gift to Sol” (see map).⁴⁸ And this was but one of many obelisks that had arrived in the city to advertise Augustus’s victories.⁴⁹ Just as Augustus sought to associate his victory over the Eastern queen Cleopatra with the divine power of Sol, so too Aurelian could associate his victory over the defeated Eastern queen Zenobia with the divine power of the eastern Sol in the field of Agrippa. Aurelian’s harkening back to Augustus was also conveyed by coins, as we know.⁵⁰

4 Epigraphic evidence for Sol devotees in Rome before Aurelian The close ties between the new temple of Sol Invictus and the military in Rome is supported by a number of inscriptions prior to Aurelian’s accession. So, for example, Cornelius Maximus, centurion of the tenth cohort of the praetorians, fulfilled his vows to Sol Invictus (CIL 7.728).⁵¹ The inscription, now lost, was found near the Quirinal Hill, perhaps in association with an earlier altar or shrine in this area, the Pulvinar of Sol which was last attested by Quintilian in his Institutes 1.7.12 (see map). Another dedication to Sol Invictus by a member of the equites singulares Augusti is of special interest because it links Sol Invictus with the well-being of the emperor(s). The text, dated to the late second century, reads: “Soli Invicto pro salute imp(eratorum) et genio n(umeri) eq(uitum) sin(gularium) eorum.”⁵² Its second century dedicant, M(arcus) Ulpius Chresimus, also served as a sacerdos of Iovis Dolichenus, and this is logical since this cult, like that of Sol Invictus, was popular in the Roman army.⁵³ Palmyrenes with military connections are also attested as having worshipped Sol in Rome, as I noted earlier. A member of the third cohort dedicated a votive altar to Sol Sanctissimus in the second half of the first century, and he

 CIL 6. 702= ILS 91: …/Aegyptio in potestatem/ populi Romani redacta/Soli donum dedit.  For Augustus’s use of obelisks, see especially Frischer et al, 2017, 18 – 122.  See Watson 1999.  CIL 6.728 = Chausson 1995, 684, inscr. VQuater: “Soli Invicto/ sacrum/ Cornelius Maximus/ (centurio) coh(ortis) X pr(aetoriae) ex voto.”. “Sacred to Sol Invictus. Cornelius Maximus/ (centurion) of the tenth cohort of the praetorians”. For discussion and translation, see Hijmans 2010, 425: CIL VI.1728 =. = Vermaseren, CIMRM pp. 165 – 166, number 379.  CIL 6.31181 = Vernaseren CIMRM p. 164, number 374 = EAGLE: EDR033526. For the date, see Speidel 1978, 17– 18.  Speidel 1978,1– 18, 38 – 45.


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did so in Latin and Palmyrene.⁵⁴ The dedicators, Claudius Felix, Claudia Helpis and their son, Tiberius Claudius Alypus, Calbienses (?), also honored Palmyrene deities, namely Malakbel and the gods of Tadmore. These dedications by Palmyrenes with military associations living in Rome fit the widely documented pattern of popularity of Sol, and especially of Sol Invictus in the military across the empire.⁵⁵ In Rome, however, not only the soldiers, but also a wide range of tradespeople, merchants, and workers worshipped Sol prior to the reign of Aurelian. In his 2010 study of “Sol Temples and Priests of Sol in the City of Rome,” Hijmans published inscriptions from collections pertaining to the Trastevere area, some 27 in all (see map: number 9). These included a wine-merchant named Daphnicus; a slave named Eumolpus, and the son-in-law of the slave, one Anicetus.⁵⁶ By and large, the worshippers from the first though the third century in this area were almost all non-elites. The very well attested early third-century devotee Balbillus, whose devotion to Sol between 199 and 215 CE occurred before Elagabalus had arrived in Rome in 219, was a client of an equestrian patron.⁵⁷ The only exception to this status observation is the case of M. Aurelius Victor, a vir clarissimus who was also the praefectus feriarum Latinarum; his title, sacerdos Solis, indicates that he held this priesthood prior to Aurelian’s creation of the pontifices dei Solis. ⁵⁸ My search of the epigraphic databases of EDR for the late third century city as a whole has brought to light no new datable instances to contradict Hijman’s conclusion about the non-elite nature of Solar cult prior to Aurelian; hence the evidence from Rome as well as from the Trastevere area reinforces the conclusions reached by Hijmans’s study of this cult, namely that Sol Invictus attracted primarily non-elites and military devotees in Rome.⁵⁹ Hence Aurelian’s establishment of a new college of Pontifices Solis, the members of which came from the most elite circles of Rome’s senatorial class, is noteworthy. One of the early priests was Virius Lupus, a former consul of high senatorial status.⁶⁰ Another

 CIL 6.710 = Chausson 1995, 675 = EDR121389 = CIL 6, 30817 (4) = ILS 4337 (5) is a bilingual inscription of Latin and Palmyrene which attests to devotion to ‘Sol Sanctissimus’. This “magnificent votive altar” is dated most recently by S. Orlandi to the second half of the first century (51– 100 CE).  See especially Berrens 2004, 104– 202.  Anicetus, CIL 6. 52; 6.2185=31034; 6.709. For Daphnicus, see CIL 5.712.  CIL 6.708.; 6.1603; 6.2130; 6.2269; IGUR 124; CIL 5.1027; 6.2129; 6.2270;  CIL 6.1358 = D 1205. Hijmans, 2010, also dates him prior to Aurelian.  I consulted EDR with the databases that contribute to it.  Virius Lupus, no. 3541, in Rüpke 2008, 958.

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priest, Iunius Gallienus, was also a man of senatorial status.⁶¹ We know of several more of these men from inscriptions beginning in 274; their college was tied to the Temple of Sol in the Campus Agrippae, and continued to attract elite senators in an uninterrupted fashion into the late fourth century in Rome.⁶² This overview of the dated inscriptions for Sol Invictus worshippers in Rome indicates that the cult prior to Aurelian attracted military and non-elites. His new temple would provide a new focus for military devotions, since a number of them were now housed in the Campus Agrippae. Aurelian’s development of a priesthood with senatorial members added a novel dimension to his efforts to bring Solar worship to the city. By including new religious roles for senators and developing new games associated with the cult of Sol Invictus that would be open to all in Rome, all levels of Roman society could engage in his reformulated solar cult, The core of this cult remained military victory, but the manner of worship initiated in the city of Rome engaged all levels of Roman society. By uniting Romans for these events, Aurelian was also aiming to win over those disengaged groups who had resisted his initial entry into the city upon his accession to power.

5 Conclusions Any visitor to Rome or any resident in the city would be reminded of Aurelian’s veneration of Sol. On designated days, a resident of Rome would buy discounted wine in the portico of the Temple of Sol Invictus in the Campus Agrippae (see map). At other times of the year, free pork would also be distributed by the urban cohort in this same area of the city. One would remember Aurelian when celebrating at the games and festivals to honor Sol Invictus that were instituted recently by this same emperor; the Ludi Solis from 19 – 22 October were the triumphal games that were originally held under Aurelian in 274 that culminated with thirty-six circus games, and the Natalis Invicti, 25 December, which was celebrated with some thirty circus races to commemorate the dedication of the temple to Sol Invictus in Rome by Aurelian.⁶³ If one were in Rome in 274, one could have have perhaps seen Aurelian himself at his games. If not, one could look at Aurelian’s coins that depicted Sol on the obverse with the legend Sol Dominus Imperii Romani, and on the reverse, Aurelian at an altar to this  Iunius Gallienus, CIL 14.2082, from Lavinium (Latium), was a vir clarissimus and also pontifex dei Solis invicti.  Rüpke 2008, 65, 386.  Salzman 1990, 149 – 53.


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god with the legend Aurelianus Aug(ustus) Cons.; whether we interpret this text and image to signify Aurelian as consecrator or as consul, the visual language of the coin emphasized the pious devotion of this emperor, if not the actual temple dedication. The new rituals and extant artifacts advertised Aurelian as a devotee of Sol, as did the monumental temple in Rome which he had built in conjunction with the restoration of the barracks of the Urban Cohorts in the Campus Agrippae (see map). Given Aurelian’s devotion to Solar worship and his monumental building in Rome, it is not surprising that later pagan writers elaborated on his commitment to this cult and presented him as a paradigm for a traditional pagan emperor. The author of the Historia Augusta’s Life of Aurelian, as noted above, spoke about this emperor’s personal religious experiences. Not only Aurelian’s face to face encounter with the numinous Sol in Emesa that I discussed earlier, but the addition of details to his biography like the assertion that his mother had been a priestess of Sol and that she had dedicated his swaddling clothes in the temple of the Sun-god fill are indicators of this emperor’s special relationship with this deity from birth for the late fourth century reader of this Life. ⁶⁴ Such details are reminiscent of the kinds of portents used to mark out divinely chosen rulers. So, for instance, when Augustus’s mother was bitten by a snake prior to the birth of Augustus, a sign of his special status to come.⁶⁵ So, too, it was a divine sign when Aurelian received a gift from the Persians which was fit for a king, but it had an image of Sol as the god in the temple where his mother had been priestess (SHA Aurel. 5). The veracity of these accounts is beside the point for an ancient Roman. They did, however, contribute to an image of Aurelian that influenced later Romans. Given Aurelian’s well-established veneration of Sol Invictus and his eastern victories, it made sense to Zosimus, writing in the early sixth century, to assert that Aurelian had moved the statues of Helios and Baal from Palmyra to his temple to Sol Invictus in Rome as an evocatio. ⁶⁶ Because of Aurelian’s reputation for traditional religiosity and his patronage of Solar cult, the rumours about an intended purge of Christians can be better understood. At least four later Christian writers believed that Aurelian was about to reinstate a policy of persecution of Christians; only his murder in late 275, according to these later writers, prevented enforcing his already drafted policy.⁶⁷ The silence about this alleged action in our pagan sources does not negate  HA Aurel.4: “sacerdotem templi Solis sui in vico eo in quo habitabant parentes fuisse dicit.”  Suet. Div. aug. 94.4.  Zosimus 1.61.2.  H.A. Aurel. 35.5 – 6 for his death. For the tradition of his intended persecution, see Eusebius of Caesarea, HE 7.32.6; Lactantius, de Mort. Pers. 6; Zonaras, 12.27; Jerome, Chronicle, s.v. 275/6.

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the views of these Christian sources that Aurelian’s religiosity was a key component of a planned effort to unite support for his rule by returning to the policies of earlier emperors who had attempted to unify by forcing sacrifice.⁶⁸ An empirewide cult to Sol Invictus, which included Eastern and traditional Roman rites focused now on a newly built monumental cult site in Rome coupled with forced sacrifice would be something that Christians would indeed fear. Aurelian’s embrace of traditional paganism made many believe that he was indeed, planning such a step. In light of the crises which Aurelian faced as he entered the city at the beginning of this reign, notably the ‘mint workers war’ and the plots by senators, Aurelian’s efforts at claiming divine patronage would have been extremely helpful to a new emperor seeking to strengthen his hold on the city and to legitimate his rule. The formulation of Solar worship to include diverse urban groups – senators along with the military and non-elites – was an effective means to build loyalty. Aurelian’s monumental Solar temple complex, an act of religious gratitude, made visible his relationship to his protecting divinity, under whose auspices Aurelian could provide not just peace, but the benefits of wine and pork to the city’s inhabitants. A number of Aurelian’s successors emulated his strategy of building ties to the inhabitants of Rome through this combination of monumental acts of imperial religious devotion and urban transformation. A prime successful example was Constantine, who followed Aurelian insofar as he, too, developed new monumental public works, including secular as well as religious constructions to transform specific areas of the city as a means of making visible his devotion and divine support. So, for example, he built a basilica to the Saviour, the modern St. John the Lateran, immediately after his victory in his war against Maxentius on the grounds of the destroyed camp of the equites singulares, and continued to develop places of Christian worship in the nearby areas within the Aurelian Wall, between the Caelian Hill and the Sessorian palace (see map).⁶⁹ And like Aurelian, Constantine chose to build in areas of the city that had pre-existing associations to which he could tie his patronage; so Aurelian played with Augustan solar imagery by locating his Temple to Sol in the Campus Agrippae that spoke to the Solar monuments in the nearby Campus Martius, and Constantine used the destruction of the military camps to claim a victory not just for himself but for his Christian cult with the Basilica of St. Saviour. Augustus had

 For the classic article on the move to enforce universal sacrifice by Decius in the middle of the third-century, see Rives 1999, 135 – 154.  For a good discussion with bibliography, see Bardill 2012, 237– 242; Curran 2000, 93 – 96.


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established the precedent for emperors to reshape the “topography of devotion” in areas in Rome to advertise their military victories, a tradition which Aurelian revived to the benefit of the material and religious lives of the inhabitants of the city.

Bibliography Banchich, Thomas; Lane, Eugene. 2009. The History of Zonoras: From Alexander Severus to the Death of Theodosius the Great. Abingdon: Routledge. Bardill, J. 2012. Constantine, Divine Emperor of the Christian Golden Age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Berrens, Stephan. 2004. Sonnenkult und Kaisertum von den Severern bis zu Constantin I. (193 – 337 n. Chr.). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner. Bond, Sarah E. 2016. Trade and Taboo. Disreputable Professions in the Roman Mediterranean. Arbor: Michigan Press. Brunt, Peter Astbury 1979. “Review of J. Rufus Fears, Princeps a diis Electus.” Journal of Roman Studies 69: 168 – 175. Cameron, Alan. 2011. The Last Pagans of Rome. New York: Oxford University Press. Carandini, Andrea; Carafa, Paolo. 2017. Atlas of Ancient Rome Vol. 1 & 2. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Chausson, François 1995. “Vei Iovi vel Soli. Quatre études autour de la Vigna Barberini.” Mélanges de l’École française de Rome : Antiquité 107 (2): 661 – 765. Curran, John. 2000. Pagan City and Christian Capital. Rome in the Fourth Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press. de Arrizabalaga y Prado, Leonardo. 2010. The Emperor Elagabalus. Fact or Fiction? New York: Cambridge University Press. Dey, Hendrik W. 2011. The Aurelian Wall and the Refashioning of Imperial Rome, AD 271 – 855. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press. Fears, Jesse Rufus. 1977. Princeps a Diis Electus: The Divine Election of the Emperor as a Political Concept at Rome. Rome: American Academy. Frischer, Bernard et al. 2017. “New Light on the Meridian, Obelisk, and Ara Pacis of Augustus” Studies in Digital Heritage 1 (1): 18 – 122. Garnsey, Peter; Humfress, Caroline. 2001. The Evolution of the Late Antique World. Cambridge: Orchard Academic. Halsberghe, Gaston. 1972. The Cult of Sol Invictus. Leiden: Brill. Hijmans, Steven. 2003. “Sol Invictus, the Winter Solstice, and the Origins of Christmas” Mouseion 3: 377 – 398. Hijmans, Steve. 2010. “Temples and Priests of Sol in the City of Rome” Mouseion 10 (3): 381 – 427. Lanzarini, Orietta. 2012. “Il tempio del Sole di Aureliano a Roma in due disegni inediti del codice Destailleur B dell’Ermitage, San Pietroburgo.” In Porre un limite all’infinito errore. Studi di storia dell’architettura dedicati a Christof Thoenes, edited by Alessandro Brodini and Giovanna Curcio. Roma: Campisano Editore: 101 – 111.

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Liverani, Paolo. 2018. “Il ritratto dipinto in età tardoantica.” In Figurationen des Porträts, edited by Martin Roussel and Thierry Greub, 295 – 327. Leiden: Wilhelm Fink. Liverani, Paolo. 2006 – 2007. “Templa duo nova Spei et Fortunae in Campo Marzio.” Rendiconti. Atti della Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archeologia 79: 291 – 314. Moralee, Jason. 2018. Rome’s Holy Mountain. The Capitoline Hill in Late Antiquity. New York: Oxford University Press. Palmer, Robert E. A. 1981. “The Topography and Social History of Rome’s Trastevere.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 125 (5): 368 – 397. Rives, James B. 1999. “The Decree of Decius and the Religion of Empire.” Journal of Roman Studies 89: 135 – 154. Rohrbacher, David. 2016. The Play of Allusion in the Historia Augusta. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Rowan, Clare. 2012. Under Divine Auspices. Divine Ideology and the Visualisation of Imperial Power in the Severan Period. New York: Cambridge University Press. Rüpke, Jörg. 2008. Fasti Sacerdotum. A Prosopography of Pagan, Jewish, and Christian Religious Officials in the City of Rome, 300 BC to AD 499. New York: Oxford University Press. Salzman, Michele Renee. 2017. “Aurelian and the Cult of the Unconquered Sun: The Institutionalization of Christmas, Solar Worship and Imperial Cult.” In Expressions of Cult in the Southern Levant in the Greco-Roman Period: Manifestations in Texts and Material Culture, edited by Oren Tal and Zeev Weiss, 37 – 50. Turnhout: Brepols. Salzman, Michele Renee. 1990. On Roman Time: The Codex-Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity. Berkeley, Los Angeles, Oxford: University of California Press. Speidel, Michael. 1978. The Religion of Iupiter Dolichenus in the Roman Army. Leiden: Brill. Steinby, Eva Margareta. 1993 – 2000. Lexicon Topographicum Urbis Romae Vol. 1 – 6. Rome: Quasar. Valentini, Roberto; Zucchetti, Giuseppe. 1940. Codice topografico della città di Roma. Rome: Istituto Storico Italiano Per Il Medioevo. Villedieu, Francoise. 1995. “La Vigna Barberini (Palatino): nuove acquisizioni.” In Archeologia laziale XII: dodicesimo incontro di studio del Comitato per l’archeologia laziale, edited by Stefania Quilici Gigli, 33 – 39. Rome: Consiglio nazionale delle ricerche. Wallraff, Martin. 2001. Christus Versus Sol. Sonnenverehrung und Christentum in der Spätantike. Münster: Aschendorffsche Verlagsbuchhandlung. Wallraff, Martin. 2001. “Constantine’s Devotion to the Sun after 324.” Studia patristica 34: 256 – 269. Watson, Alaric. 1999. Aurelian and the Third Century. New York: Routledge. Wienand, Johannes. 2015. “Deo et domino: Aurelian, Serdica und die Restitutio orbis.” In Jahrbuch für Numismatik und Geldgeschichte, edited by Bayerische Numismatische Gesellschaft, 63 – 99. München: Eigenverlag der Bayerischen Numismatischen Gesellschaft.

Paroma Chatterjee

City of prophecies Constantinople in late antique and medieval sources Abstract: This paper will discuss two texts – the Parastaseis Syntomoi Chronikai (8th-9th centuries) and the Patria (10th century) – which describe the topography of Constantinople with an emphasis on the prophetic imagery that was so prominent in the urban landscape of New Rome. Two major points mark the late antique and medieval perception of this city: 1) that its very civic identity rests on the conglomeration of “foreign” objects (mainly statues) that were plundered from other parts of the Roman empire during its foundation and 2) that the history of the world rests on the history of this city as expressed in its prophetic imagery. My paper will focus on the Hippodrome as one of the major sites in which the above concerns came together. Finally, my paper will reflect on the enduring value of ancient imagery to the Constantinopolitans right up to the Fourth Crusade (1204 CE) and beyond despite the Orthodox Christian character and identity of their city.

1 Introduction This paper considers the implications of the material juxtaposition of Byzantium’s pagan heritage with its Christian Orthodox identity. How did the citizens of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine empire, negotiate the public spaces of a city which contained, on the one hand, churches and monasteries, and which displayed, on the other, statues of Athena, Herakles, mythical monsters, and imaginary beasts? How did the confrontation of the past dispensation and the present, of a pagan legacy and a Christian Orthodox empire, play out? Last but not least, I wish to consider the powerful material and psychic resonance that ancient statues held for the Constantinopolitans. These statues appear in the fabled lands conjured up in the romances of the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, but they also appear in historical chronicles and topographical accounts of the capital from the late antique period. The statues, in short, straddle both the fictive and the historical landscapes of Byzantium and, in such a capacity, underscore their importance in shaping the very historical and imaginative identity of the empire the capital of which they inhabit – an aspect that has gone largely unremarked in the scholarly literature which has mainly focused on the Orthodox icon as the visual emblem of the eastern Romans. The OpenAccess. © 2020 Laetzer/Urciuoli, published by De Gruyter. the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110641813-008

This work is licensed under


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(fairly regular) occurrence of statues in varied literary genres is not just a sign of their continued significance over centuries; it is also a fundamental marker of the modes of reception these objects elicited. This is a critical point when we recall that very few statues from Constantinople survive today, most of them having been subject to the ravages of the Fourth Crusade in 1204 CE when they were smashed, taken away, or melted down for currency by the Latins. In light of the scant material remains, the literary evidence (a few examples of which this essay considers) assumes an overarching importance in signaling the role these were perceived to have enacted right from the 4th century CE up to the 13th. This paper will focus on two particular texts in order to consider the above points: an eighth-century guidebook or travelogue, known as the Parastaseis Syntomoi Chronikai, or “Brief historical notes” (Cameron and Herrin 1984) and the Patria, a patriographic account of the legendary foundation and monuments of the city (Berger ed., 2013). The Parastaseis is a puzzling text, to put it mildly. A compilation of the various monuments of Constantinople (both Christian and non-Christian), it liberally peppers its passages with historical references (some of which are highly dubious), cryptic asides, and personal anecdotes regarding the viewer/viewers’ relationships with statues, most of which, however, serve to confound rather than elucidate the roles and identities of those sculpted images. The text is, nonetheless, a valuable topographical guide in spite of the fact that it is repetitive and often dismisses precision in terms of location. It contains a treasure trove of insights into the Byzantine conception of non-Christian imagery in general, and statues in particular. Averil Cameron and Judith Herrin who, in 1984, published a translation and commentary on the text as it is preserved in one eleventh-century manuscript (MS. Par., gr. 1336), claimed that it aimed “to record and expound the pagan statues for the benefit of the unwary,” even comparing its author (or authors) to a sort of “local history society.” (Cameron and Herrin 1984,1). Herrin and Cameron argued convincingly that the Parastaseis “represents the work of a group rather than a single author, and that it may to some extent constitute a dossier of information, including letters, rather than a finished work.” (Cameron and Herrin 1984, 1). Liz James contended that the Parastaseis was a general, if an intriguing, compendium of the range of powers invested in images, especially in statues. (James 1996, 12). Considering the fact that debates over the validity of religious images vis-à-vis their non-religious counterparts raged throughout the eighth century in Byzantium and culminated in the historic Second Council of Nicaea in 787 (Brubaker and Haldon, 2011), James’ observation is astute. Benjamin Anderson argued that the Parastaseis “asserts a form of knowledge unique to the well-born and essential to the management of the empire.” (Anderson 2011, 5). He observed that the enigmatic references in the text sought to bolster aristocrat-

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ic claims to knowledge of the city and its past against the influx of foreigners – “arrivistes” (Anderson 2011, 5) – who vied for bureaucratic jobs in the eighth century when the Parastaseis was composed, and who did not have as intimate a historical and topographical understanding of Constantinople as did the older, patrician families of the city. The most recent work on the Parastaseis by Paolo Odorico, based on a careful analysis of the manuscript, argues that it was part of a larger “dossier pour servir a l’histoire.” (Odorico 2014, 124). The first 26 chapters of the text are part of the Parastaseis, while the rest (including the episode that opens this chapter) are supposedly excerpts from an anthology compiled by a certain “Theodore” which combines a number of disparate texts about the city. Odorico believes that both the Parastaseis and Theodore’s anthology were brought together in the manuscript as the preparatory notes intended to facilitate the production of a larger project, namely a historical chronicle. Odorico’s argument is for the most part convincing, although he admits that it is based on hypotheses “et nous ne pouvons pas les demontrer de façon certaine” (Odorico 2014, 123). The crux of all the above arguments pivots on a critical factor: enigma, and the capacity of the statues mentioned in the Parastaseis (and also the Patria) to be enigmatic, and enigmatically powerful, sometimes to the point of becoming objects of fear because of the unexpected ways in which they could behave. Indeed, the text contains a number of anecdotes in which statues are responsible for the undoing and death of various individuals. One of the most well-known instances of these is the image in the Kynegion which fell upon and killed a bureaucrat who attempted to decipher its identity (Cameron and Herrin 1984, 89 – 91). Yet another instance is that of a statue which was destroyed by a general who, in turn, was sentenced to death for having committed such an act, thus testifying to the immense power of the statue. Smashed by the general, it succeeded in wiping out the very existence of its destroyer. (Cameron and Herrin 1984,77). But the power of statues and the fear with which some viewers broached them – or should broach them – are not, by any means, the only leitmotifs in the Parastaseis. My paper takes a different approach by considering two broad questions. First, what is the significance of the statues in this narrative? What is their precise relationship to Constantinople, not just in terms of their physical position in the urban layout of the city, but as markers of history and temporality? Second, I wish to interrogate the overall effect of the text’s implications for the urban landscape it describes; its insistent evocation of monuments lost in the mists of time, or stolen, or re-located, or smashed out of rage. What, apart from the obvious aim of commemorating these monuments and statues, motivates such descriptions? That commemoration wasn’t the only – perhaps not even the primary – goal of the writer/s of the Parastaseis and Patria is clear from


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two resounding factors: that they don’t seem to give complete descriptions of the things they talk about, and often veer from the subject at hand; and secondly, that they don’t engage in the popular mode of ekphrasis, in which the affective qualities of a monument were extolled, all the better to impress it firmly in the memories of readers and listeners. What, then, inspired these texts? This essay looks closely at a few episodes of the Parastaseis and Patria to shed some light on these questions. My argument will suggest that ancient statues occupied an integral position in the urban landscape of Constantinople as the physical markers of historical continuity, especially – and critically – in relation to holy icons. Where the latter were subjected to official suppression and rigorous re-evaluation in the eighth and ninth centuries during the outbreak of iconoclasm (726 – 87, 815 – 43 CE), the statues never had to encounter such trials and thus endured over centuries. Many of them were transported to the capital city from other sites as spolia and were, therefore, older than their environs (Bassett 2007). They served as the concrete links tying the capital to more ancient parts of the Roman empire, and were constitutive of the very idea of Byzantium as a continuation of antiquity into the present and the distant future. Indeed, both the Parastaseis and the Patria, while revealing a marked historicism in recounting details of the statues’ origins, also display a distinct concern for the future, as its characters go about scrutinizing the statues for prophecies and predictions regarding the fate of the empire. Last, but not least, this paper will argue that in times of crisis, ancient statues played a fundamental role in the Byzantine intellectual imagination as symbols of the promise of the empire’s permanence, its resilience and durability.

2 Pagan prophecies Several chapters in the Parastaseis describe the prophetic powers of the statues in Constantinople. These are concerned with recording – or (the often unsuccessful) deciphering of – the sculpted objects in terms of their iconography in order to foretell the future of the imperial office (although exactly how the iconography corresponded to a specific prophetic message is typically left unexplained, as we shall see below in several examples). As Anderson has noted, these chapters are concerned not only with the past but also the future of the empire. (Anderson, 6). Although emperors are not always mentioned in relation to them, the very existence of these monuments attests to a sphere of influence within the city that was utterly outside imperial control. For instance, Chapters 20 and 21 talk about the sites of the Xerolophos and the Exakionion (it is unclear exactly where this site is, but it might have been atop a hill at the highest point of

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the old Constantinian wall; Janin 1950, 34– 5) both of which were outfitted with statues. These consisted of Artemis, the builder, Severus, and a tripod in the Xerolophos, and of a hare, a hound, and a huge Faunus made from one piece of iron in the Exakionion. Significantly, both were sites of prophecies. In the case of the Exakionion, several lives are said to have been endangered because of general ignorance regarding the prophecy. (Cameron and Herrin 1984, 83). In a similar vein, Chapter 40 states that two Gorgons presided at the site of the Bread market, and that a certain Galen who was a doctor and philosopher, managed to read accurately the hieroglyphs and astronomical inscriptions on those heads, thereby attracting the ire of a certain Callistratus, “vulgar by birth and a pedlar by station,” who mocked the philosopher and dealt him blows over the course of a year until a court was held at the same site and “he was beheaded by the sword.” (Cameron and Herrin 1984, 111). Exactly who was beheaded, and for what reason, is without explanation, as is typical of the Parastaseis. But more to the point, the statues’ capacity to bear predictions about the destinies of emperors, and their locations in public spaces exposed to the eyes of all must have been discomfiting to the Byzantine ruler, at the very least. It is telling that a few people, “philosophers”, are said to be able to decipher those predictions. Galen apparently laughs when he reads about Emperor Zeno’s fate at the hands of empress Verina on the Gorgons, and keeps repeating the story, “especially frequently after the second return of Zeno from Isauria.” (Cameron and Herrin 1984, 111). The Gorgons then, by dint of their knowledge, provoke at least one viewer to laugh at imperial authority, and to spread the word about Zeno’s impending misfortunes; not an auspicious sign for the Byzantine head of state. Immediately following upon this episode, the Parastaseis talks about the neighborhood of the Amastrianon which was richly endowed with the statues of various animals (an eagle worshipped by a wolf, eighteen she-serpents, and other sundry stuff) and of one ‘Koukobytios the philosopher, a champion of idols and a sacrificer of his wife and two children, his mother Aglaide and his sister Graphentia. In this place the dominion and fall of demons [exemplified] those of emperors to philosophers, especially if the accursed emperors be fornicators in word or offspring.” (Cameron and Herrin 1984, 111). Once again, a site teeming with public statues affords knowledge of the personal lives of the emperors and their tendencies to adultery, thus harboring the potential to undermine the imperial persona. That emperors were sensitive to the above episodes is evident from one of the longest anecdotes noted in Chapter 64 of the Parastaseis, in which emperor Theodosius II assembles a group of philosophers in the Hippodrome and asks them what the statues there might mean. The chapter, according to Cameron and Herrin is “extremely difficult and textually very corrupt” (Cameron and Herrin 1984, 253) but it is fascinating for the insights it gives into the tradition of in-


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terpreting statues, which was a long and venerable one in the Roman empire. The chapter is as follows: …The Emperor Theodosius (II, 408 – 50) drove into the Hippodrome to satisfy the philosophers. And which of them did not participate? They were seven in number: Kranos, Karos, Pelops, Apelles, Nerva, Silvanus, Kyrvos. These men met the emperor in the Hippodrome to see the Olympians. And the Emperor Theodosius, seeing that the philosophers were amazed, said to them, ‘If you are amazed, philosophers, you have been out-philosophized.’ And at once one of them, Apelles by name, replied, and said, ‘ I am surprised at the horses the rider, for I see clearly that horses will be the riders of men when the Olympians change, and the amazement will then fade away’. And Nerva replied, ‘ a bad sign for the queen – the statue which is like its meaning’. And Silvanus, looking at the statue towards the south, up on high, leaning on its knee like…, said, ‘The artificer has done well, for in that day times will be barren’. Kyrvos, looking at of the People, said, ‘O People, through whom public executioners are unnecessary’. Pelops, looking at the starting-gates of the horses, said, ‘Who posed the riddle?’ And when Theodosius said, ‘Constantine’, he said, ‘Either the philosopher has got it wrong or the emperor did not keep to the truth’…Karos, urged by the philosophers to speak, said, ‘All these things are bad in my opinion; I mean, if these statues tell the truth when they are put to the test, why does Constantinople still stand?’ And Kranos, who was said to be the leader of the Athenian philosophers, smiled and hooted with laughter. When the emperor asked, ‘Why are you doing that?’…he replied ‘Enough’, more in laughter than mockery. Narcissus, a praepositus, gave the philosopher a slap and said to him, ‘You are benighted; answer the sun like the sun he is’. When Kranos turned the other cheek, Narcissus gave him . The philosopher said to Narcissus, ‘It won’t be you who makes me speak; it is because I am disturbed by the inscriptions’. The riddle of Kranos is as follows: he asked the emperor if he could inspect the statues in the Hippodrome, and at the emperor’s command, he immediately chose one. The statue is shaped like a man, with a helmet on its head, completely naked but with its private parts covered. The philosopher asked ‘Who set it up?’ and a lector replied ‘Valentinian put it here’. And when the philosopher said ‘When did he add the donkey?’ And when the other said ‘At the same time’, he said, ‘One day a donkey will be like a man; what a fate, for a man to follow a donkey!’ May the words of the seer not come to pass! This problem, which Kranos expounded, was found in the books of Leo the Great, according to Ligurius the astronomer and consul of the same Emperor Leo (Cameron and Herrin 1984, 141– 47).

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What does this episode reveal, if read closely? For one, it highlights the zeal of an emperor in deciphering the meanings of the statues that adorn his city. These images are believed to harbor a significance that is greater than their appearance; they are perceived to be the repositories of arcane, but intensely important secrets pertaining to the future of the city and, by extension, of the empire. The philosophers are summoned to the very site of the Hippodrome in order to unravel these secrets. The fact that they perform their task in situ makes them akin to art historians and archaeologists who must, ideally, gain physical proximity to their objects of study. It is striking that the emperor, philosophers, and officials are primarily presented as viewers over and above their professional and imperial identities. No matter one’s position in the stringent hierarchy of Byzantine society, what the Parastaseis extols is viewing for the sake of viewing, and developing one’s stance as a careful, discerning viewer. In chapter 64, in particular, the philosophical endeavor is invested with a tangible material and visual dimension. The wise men, by their very presence in the Hippodrome, proclaim the importance of looking as the first and most vital step in the hermeneutical process. In doing so, they posit the writing of the history of the empire as being contingent on the ability to appraise and interpret visual evidence. The site in which they conduct their investigations is also accorded a resounding importance. The Hippodrome, as its name suggests, was the sporting arena for the Constantinopolitans; a space dedicated to horse racing. But more critically, the Hippodrome was invested with a profound cosmic significance. The 6th-century chronicle of John Malalas claims, on the basis of ancient writings, that “the structure of the hippodrome was modelled on the regulation of the world, that is, of the heaven, the earth and the sea…the twelve doors to the twelve houses of the zodiacal cycle, which regulates the land, the sea and the fleeting course of man’s life. The race-track represents the whole earth; the spina is the sea surrounded by the land; the curve by the starting gates is the East; the curve by the turning point is the West; the seven lanes represent the course and astronomical motion of the seven stars of the Great Bear.” (Jeffreys, Jeffreys, Scott and Croke 1986, 93). Even as Malalas traces the conceptual alignment of the Hippodrome with universal order, and the mapping of this space to the elements of the cosmos, he cannot avoid a concurrent strand of tension when it comes to the actual events that unfold as a consequence of the Hippodrome’s very existence. Factional strife is rampant between the so-called “elements” and leaks out to the space of the city itself. The contours of the arena cannot contain the sporting competitions – and conflicts – that occur within. The Hippodrome was also the primary public space for the display of imperial power where the emperor was crowned in the early Byzantine period and ritually acclaimed by the throngs. (Boeck 2009, 287). Along with its imperial reso-


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nance, the Hippodrome hosted the display of foreign embassies and their retinues, celebrations of military triumphs, and the performance of public executions. The episode from the Parastaseis however, adds yet another dimension to this multifaceted arena; it becomes a site of prophecy and divination, a gathering place for philosophers to ponder and debate over the meanings of the statues that studded it. Several of these were spolia, and included the bronze horses that now stand in front of the Basilica of San Marco in Venice, the Serpent Column (parts of which still stand today in Istanbul), and gigantic statues of Herakles (said to be by the hand of the sculptor, Lysippos), and Athena which was destroyed by a Constantinopolitan mob in the thirteenth century, during the Fourth Crusade. (Bassett 2007). But if the statues maintain tangible links with the past, they also encompass the future, as the Parastaseis reveals. They inhabit multiple moments at once: their origins from an era long ago, their present time (in which their past meanings are lost, hence the attempts of the characters in the Parastaseis to decipher them), and premonitions of the future that they gesture toward, which bestow upon them a tremendous prophetic aura. In thus embracing the past, the present and the future, the statues reveal themselves as the material markers of the history of the Roman empire. Interestingly, their very prophetic potential positions the statues as tangible mediators between the past and the future, since prophecies were predicated on the knowledge of the past of the individual/s or empire/s that formed their subject. The philosophers attest to this when two of them inquire as to the statues’ original creators while attempting to uncover what they portend. Pelops asks the emperor who set up the riddle (problema) while looking at the starting-gates of the horses, and Kranos has the same query with respect to the statue of the naked man wearing a helmet. Kranos goes so far as to ask for more details regarding the statue; in inquiring as to when “the donkey” was added, he is told “at the same time” that Valentinian had had the entire ensemble made. In posing such a question, Kranos does not merely display a sensitivity pertaining to the contingency of a work of art, which may be added to or taken away from over time; he also hints at the inexorable march of history and historical time, which adds to or detracts from the glories of an empire. This is particularly pertinent in light of recent scholarship which argues for a strong sense of historicism in Byzantine literature, “historicism” being defined here as “the awareness of long-term and deep historical change”…and “the avoidance of anachronism in examining the past …a sense of the fundamental difference of the past.” (Kaldellis 2007, 1– 2). What the philosophers in the Hippodrome reveal – and what Kranos, especially, points to – is a sense of that historicism as embedded in the statues that litter the capital city. In tracing the past

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and the future of these images, the philosophers explicitly recognize them as markers attesting to the transformation of Byzantium as reflected through successive emperors and eras. The statue of the man in the helmet, in this case, parallels what Kranos sees as the future of Constantinople. There is a strong implication that had the donkey been revealed to have been added at some other time, then Kranos’ prediction too would have been modulated accordingly. The various parts of the statue, in other words, elicits a historicist hermeneutic from Kranos in his attempt to decipher the prophecy it holds. But for the most part, the statues remain enigmatic and do not yield their prophecies easily. Even when they deign to reveal something, they preserve their larger secrets, for as one of the philosophers, Karos, rightly wonders, “All these things are bad in my opinion, …but if these statues tell the truth,… why does Constantinople still stand?” If the statues mediate the relationship between their viewers and the city by claiming knowledge of the city’s future, then they do it in a thoroughly lopsided fashion, revealing some aspects of the history of Constantinople to those who look carefully upon them, but retaining other critical details; proffering disquieting omens on the one hand, but still standing along with the city, despite those omens. The Patria of Constantinople was compiled in the late tenth century and reproduces several episodes mentioned in the Parastaseis, thus attesting to the endurance of its themes in the Byzantine patriographic imagination. It consists of three major portions: an account of the legendary foundation of Byzantion up to the time of Constantine the Great, an account of the statues and buildings of the city, and an account of the construction of Hagia Sophia in the reign of Justinian I. (Berger, 2013 vii – xxi). Legend and fact are intertwined in each of these accounts, but they are no less important for that. Indeed, the very range of objects and events included attests to the accommodation of a fluid, vibrant, and even contradictory sense of the city as it was understood by the compilers and the audience of the text. Constantinople emerges as a protean entity, constantly subject to change which, in fact, allows for its very continuity into time and space. It is also a city that allows rank outsiders to inhabit and manipulate it with particular consequences, as we shall see. Book Two of the Patria largely consists of material from the Parastaseis with some changes. As in the Parastaseis, the Patria too recounts the episode of the emperor Theodosius seeking to interpret its statues with the help of philosophers. But unlike the Parastaseis, the Patria is painstaking about noting the wide-ranging provenance of the objects placed there. Chapter 73, the introduction to the section on the Hippodrome, begins by mentioning that many pieces were brought from Rome and Nikomedeia as were statues brought by Constantine the Great from “Athens, Kyzikos, Kaisareia, Tralles, Sardis, Mokesos, Sebas-


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teia, Satala, Chaldeia, Antioch the Great, Cyprus, Crete, Rhodes, Chios, Attaleia, Smyrna and Seleukeia, and from Tyana, Ikonion, Nicaea in Bithynia, Sicily and all the towns of the east and west, which were set up and enchanted, and those that pass by and are experienced find there infallible knowledge of the last days.”(Berger 2013, 101). In no other section of the Patria do we encounter such a litany of towns, nor such insistent signposting as to the original locations of the objects mentioned. The Hippodrome here emerges as a site reflective not of Constantinople per se, but of the various places “of the east and west” from where statues were plundered. The Patria marks the Hippodrome as a space expressly inhabited by foreign idols. Why does it do so? Chapter 79 gives us a clue: The other statues of the Hippodrome, both male and female, the various horses, the stone and bronze columns of the turning points, the bronze obelisks of the turning points, the reliefs on the obelisk, the charioteer’s statues with their relief bases, the columns of the galleries with their capitals and bases, those in the Sphendone [the curved section of the race track], their balustrades and wall revetments, their steps and podia, and simply every place where an inscription can be found, especially on the bronze statues – all these are depictions of the last days and of the future. Apollonios of Tyana set them up to commemorate these events as they are imperishable. In a similar way, he also enchanted the statues throughout the city. Those who are experienced with the workings of statues will find everything without missing anything. The tripods of the Delphic pots and the equestrian statues also bear inscriptions, explaining why they have been set up and what they mean (Berger 2013, 103). Might there be a connection between the foreign origins of these statues and the “last days” depicted on them? There certainly is, if we consider the prophecies that circulated in Constantinople from the ninth century onward. As with the Parastaseis and the Patria, prophetic literature has not been given its due because of the aura of superstition that clings to it. But as Paul Magdalino points out, this is an essential genre with which to probe perceptions of history and of the particular moments on which these predictions were scripted and/or received. (Magdalino 2013). More pertinently, the apocalyptic dimension of these prophecies was expressly mapped out on the topography of Constantinople. The most enduring prophetic text for the Greeks was the Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius, translated from the Syriac original with many emendations and interpolations. (Garstad 2012). One of the most dramatic interpolations (in a text not lacking in drama to begin with) notes the progress of conquering invaders toward Constantinople in baleful detail, starting from the Xylokerkos gate and moving across the Forum of Arkadios to the Forum of the Ox. This prophecy had a powerful effect in shaping the topography of Constantinople and its asso-

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ciations well beyond even the Byzantine era. (Berger 2008, 136 – 7; Brandes 2008, 193 – 5). It is not a stretch to claim that the emphatic foreignness of the Hippodrome statues as mentioned in the Patria allude to the foreigners who shall, in due course, lead to the final days of the city. More intriguingly, the foreign statues call attention to the fact that they do not really owe allegiance to New Rome at all, despite having stood on its soil over centuries. This outsider status, if you will, is starkly visible in the notorious episode of the enraged Constantinopolitan mob that pulled down the imposing statue of Athena in the Forum because it believed she was beckoning the invaders toward the city. This may not have actually occurred, but the fact that Nicetas Choniates notes it in his chronicle at some length makes it a telling instance of how statues were regarded by the people of the polis: in this case, as an enemy collaborator, no less. (Magoulias 1984, 306). It is of note that the crowd did not act upon a surge of irrational frenzy, for the notion that an ancient statue might be in league with foreigners and overpower the citizens of the land where it stood was a longstanding perception. (Feldherr 1998, 42– 3). It stands out starkly when we examine texts such as the Patria and its scrupulous attention to the origins of those beings of stone and bronze. The editor/s of the Patria were convinced that the city would have to confront its last days, no matter how illustrious its past and present. It even identifies the people who would bring it to its knees. Chapter 47 on the Tauros describes an equestrian statue on a four-sided stone-cut plinth with “relief narratives of the final days of the city, of the Rhos who will conquer this city… Similarly, both the huge, hollow column there and the Xerolophos have the story of the final days of the city and its conquests depicted as relief.” (Berger 2013, 83 – 4). These ominous events can and should be deciphered by the experienced viewer who, the Patria claims, shall not “[miss] anything.” The text is emphatic about the necessity of close and careful viewing: of the ten chapters devoted to the Hippodrome, four of the longest observe that those experienced in looking at statues can uncover what they portend. Cursory glances do not suffice for apocalyptic imagery which needs to be mined with a fine-toothed comb, a searching gaze buttressed with a wealth of knowledge. The flip side of this exhortation is, of course, the implication that the inexperienced (the vast majority, to judge from the episodes in the Parastaseis and the Patria) would not be able to understand the images, no matter how hard they tried. The objects that demand such a refined viewer are literally standing testimonials to the relative futility and powerlessness of the grandees – emperors, charioteers, court officials, aristocrats – who preside at the site in the present moment. They point inescapably to the future which shall annul, or at the very least diminish, any immediate triumphs. Importantly, those far-off (but also


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frighteningly near) events are described as being “imperishable.” (Berger 2013, 103). And they are inscribed on statues in the most prominent public spaces of the capital.

3 Historicism in the Parastaseis and Patria What is the point of resurrecting a wealth of images (primarily statues) without imparting a clear sense of their appearance, and by handing out details in so partial a mode as to obscure rather than clarify, especially when the audience is exhorted to look closely at these monuments? Why does the Parastaseis (if not the Patria) render these images even more weirdly absent – or at any rate, opaque – to the reader than they literally are (since so many of them are missing even as the writers compose the text)? This is where, I believe, the value of the ancient image in the medieval urban context comes into play, and is cleverly manipulated in the service of history and the prestige of the city in which it stands, or once stood. Consider the very first chapter of the Parastaseis. It describes the church of St. Mocius which, like many another Christian edifice, stood on pagan ground. The chapter informs us that a temple of Zeus was formerly located on the site, and that its very bricks were recruited to build the church in the reign of Constantine I. Significantly – and typically – the chapter offers no description of St. Mocius. Instead, it tells us that the church collapsed during the reign of Constantius, was rebuilt by the Arians under the reign of Theodosios, then collapsed again, until it was rebuilt under Justinian and still “stands in our own day.” (Cameron and Herrin 1984, 57). This is a tactic that the Parastaseis embraces throughout; eschewing elaborate descriptions and/or explanations, the narrative traces instead a trajectory of erection, destruction, and reconstruction or re-location. While one may, at a simplistic level, read each episode of construction and destruction to signify “good” and “evil” empires, as it were (in which case Constantine and Justinian emerge as the greatest of all Roman emperors), such a reading would miss the point. For over and above the implicit critique of individual emperors, or even the listing of monuments, the Parastaseis and the Patria are concerned with the history of Constantinople. More importantly, these texts posit the rhythm of putting up, and taking apart, as the norm for any city with roots (and pretensions) reaching back to an ancient past. In chapter after chapter we encounter this manoeuver, be it with churches, statues, or palaces. Not even the images of emperors are spared. They are broken, pulled down for precious metal, destroyed by natural calamities, and are put back together again, or replaced, or simply moved off

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to another site. In this panoply of monuments and statuary, some are never seen again and endure only as memories. In the process, the audience of the Parastaseis and the Patria receives the impression of a city caught up in the throes of constant change. Constantinople emerges as a consummate shape-shifter; a place in which a handful of monuments survive for centuries, but most of whose attractions are subject to the depredations of time and men. And this is my second point: it is this very store of absent images that grants a vital dynamism to the map of Constantinople. In the Parastaseis, a blank spot is not a blank, but a hiatus in the rhythm of visual and architectural change that the city lives out. The spot was probably once inhabited by a statue or a church or an arch which is now gone, but which shall return at some point in the future, in a different form. Even those monuments that still stand attest to a series of alterations over time; images that were integral to the final shape of the building, or statue, as it appears in the eighth century. It is, paradoxically, this very pattern of putting up and pulling down, of visual shaping and re-shaping, that imparts a rich historical tradition and continuity to the city, and which the Parastaseis and Patria are so interested in recuperating, if in a rather half-baked manner. But more importantly, if read against the larger context of the eighth century when the text was composed, we find a similar dynamic of creation, destruction and re-location, on an official scale, in the arena of religious icons. In the year 726, emperor Leo III prohibited the depiction of holy figures and unleashed the first phase of Byzantine iconoclasm. (Haldon and Brubaker 2011). Along with the numerous theological debates that unfurled, a concrete side effect of iconoclasm was visible in the cityscape, with the pulling down of holy icons from its gates, churches, and walls, and their re-erection by zealous iconophiles (and again, pulling down by iconoclasts, and so on). There has been some debate over whether the Parastaseis is pro- or anti-icons, with valid arguments on both sides. (Cameron and Herrin 1984, 18; James 1996, 12– 20). But what interests me beyond the text’s potential polemics is its literary evocation of the practices concerning holy icons and other artefacts such as the occasional statue, churches, and other sites. In emphasising the erection, destruction, and reerection of various monuments the Parastaseis, oddly, normalizes iconoclasm. It suggests that the artefacts constituting the material wealth of a city are bound to be caught up in the trajectory of creation and destruction, whether by the wilful acts of men or the forces of nature. Iconoclasm, which was regarded as a momentous phenomenon in Byzantium, signaling a violent and undesirable rupture in the seamless continuity of the history of the Romans, is thus given a subtly different cast by the text. It is not exonerated – that would have been blasphemous in the extreme. But it is (implicitly) presented as but one of the many stages in the natural growth cycle of a city and empire.


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4 The endurance of statues If the Parastaseis and the Patria offer a comprehensive overview of the distinct ruptures marking Byzantine history – paganism to Christianity, pre-Iconoclasm and, possibly, post-Iconoclasm (if we accept a date of composition for the Parastaseis in the late eighth century) – then they also make pagan statues the overseers and survivors of those moments of disruption. The statues endure, even after the dispensation they were part of is routed by Orthodoxy. And although the foremost material symbol of Orthodoxy and Byzantium was the holy icon, the status was hard-won. For more than a century, images of Christ, the Virgin and the saints were subjected to a bitter and bloody battle regarding their theological and epistemological validity with periods in which their very existence was, at best, ignored, and at worst, outlawed. (Haldon and Brubaker, 2011). If the transitions from paganism to Christianity and from the Old Testament to the New Testament were regarded as epochal by Byzantine intellectuals, then I would argue that the final and absolute triumph of the holy icon over its detractors was yet another historic moment, and one which was celebrated every year in the liturgy as the Triumph of Orthodoxy. (Barber 2007, 2). But therein lies the crux. The very ‘triumph’ bespoke a history of persecution, interrogation and banishment that holy images and their supporters had had to suffer. Ancient statues, on the other hand, were never subjected to such a sustained and concentrated movement of suppression. Even in Eusebius’ passionate (and probably biased) account of the Christianisation of the empire, the statues are not destroyed wholesale; instead, they are brought out from their special chambers and recesses in the temples and displayed to the populace. Their desacralisation (in terms of their being broken up, stripped off their precious material, melted down, pulled down with ropes and dragged, and exposed to ridicule, as Eusebius has it; Stewart, 2003, 296 – 7) stems from their very exposure to the eyes of all and sundry. But this procedure – if we are to take Eusebius’ account seriously – suggests that the statues were firmly embedded in the physical landscape of the empire, even if the motives behind their display aimed at turning them into objects of ridicule. (Cameron and Hall trans. 1999). I do not mean to suggest that these statues never felt the force of destruction; certainly they did, at different moments of time. But these were individual incidents as opposed to the full-scale imperial onslaught that holy icons faced during Iconoclasm. Ancient statues, on the other hand, endured for centuries undisturbed by such vigorous en masse assaults. This very continuity, to my mind, gave them an edge over their religious counterparts; one which was recognized by Byzantine intellectuals and also, possibly, by ordinary people who saw these im-

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ages, whether intact or in ruins, whether attentively or disinterestedly, on a regular basis. Nicetas Choniates, for instance, quite explicitly identifies the fall of Byzantium to the Crusaders in 1204 with the destruction of the pagan statues that once stood in Constantinople; in his chronicle, both events stand for the devastating collapse of an ancient civilization. (Chatterjee 2011, 396 – 406). This perceived endurance of the statues in contrast to the vulnerability and effacement of the religious icon in the eighth and ninth centuries, in my view, is one of the most compelling reasons why the former remained important in the Byzantine urban and literary imagination for centuries. Along with the Christian markers of salvation that dotted the capital city, the statues plotted yet another, parallel historical trajectory – one that underwrote the longevity of Constantinople, its emperors, and of the Roman empire itself.

Bibliography Anderson, Benjamin 2011. “Classified Knowledge: the epistemology of statuary in the Parastaseis Syntomoi Chronikai,” Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 35:1: 1 – 19. Barber, Charles 2007. Contesting the Logic of Painting. Art and Understanding in Eleventh-Century Byzantium. Leiden: Brill. Bassett, Sarah 2007. The Urban Image of Late Antique Constantinople. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. Berger, Albrecht trans., 2013. The Patria, Account of Medieval Constantinople. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Berger, Albrecht 2008. “Das apokalyptische Konstantinopel. Topographisches in apokalyptischen Schriften der mittelbyzantinischen Zeit,” in Endzeiten: Eschatologie in den monotheistischen Weltreligionen eds. Wolfram Brandes and Felicitas Schmieder, 135 – 56. Berlin: De Gruyter. Boeck, Elena 2009. “Simulating the Hippodrome: The performance of power in Kiev’s St. Sophia,” Art Bulletin 41:3: 283 – 301. Brandes, Wolfram 2008. “Kaiserprophetien und Hochverrat. Apokalytpische Schriften und Kaiservaticinien als Medium antikaiserlicher Propaganda,” in Endzeiten: Eschatologie in den monotheistischen Weltreligionen eds. Wolfram Brandes and Felicitas Schmieder, 157 – 200. Berlin: De Gruyter. Cameron, Averil and Herrin, Judith eds., 1984. Constantinople in the Early Eighth Century: The Parastaseis Syntomoi Chronikai, Introduction, Translation and Commentary. Leiden: Brill. Cameron, Averil and Hall, Stuart, trans. 1999, Life of Constantine by Eusebius. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Chatterjee, Paroma 2011. “Sculpted Eloquence and Nicetas Choniates’ De Signis,” Word & Image 27:4: 396 – 406. Feldherr, Andrew 1984. Society and Spectacle in Livy’s History. Berkeley: University of California Press. Garstad, Benjamin ed. and transl. 2012. “Apocalypse” of Pseudo-Methodius. An Alexandrian World Chronicle. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


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Haldon, John and Brubaker, Leslie 2011. Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era 680 – 850: A History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. James, Liz 1996. “‘Pray Not To Fall Into Temptation And Be On Your Guard’’: Pagan Statues in Christian Constantinople.” Gesta 35:1: 12 – 20. Janin, Raymond 1950. Constantinople byzantine. Developpement urbain et repertoire topographique. Paris: Institut francais d’Etudes Byzantines. Jeffreys, Elizabeth, Jeffreys, Michael, Scott, Roger and Croke, Brian 1986. The Chronicle of John Malalas. Melbourne: Australian Association for Byzantine Studies. Kaldellis, Anthony 2007. “Historicism in Byzantine Thought and Literature.” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 61: 1 – 24. Magdalino, Paul 2013. “Generic Subversion?: The political ideology of urban myth and apocalyptic prophecy,” in Power and Subversion in Byzantium: Papers from the forty-third spring symposium of Byzantine Studies, eds. Michael Saxby and Dimiter Angelov, 207 – 20, Ashgate: Burlington, VT. Magoulias, Harry J. 1984. O City of Byzantium: Annals of Niketas Choniates. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. Odorico, Paolo 2014. “Du recueil à l’invention du texte: le cas des Parastaseis Syntomoi Chronikai,” Byzantinische Zeitschrift 107:2: 755 – 84. Stewart, Peter 2003. Statues in Roman Society: Representation and Response. New York: Oxford University Press.

Hartmut Leppin

Creating a city of believers: Rabbula of Edessa Abstract: A variety of sources refer to the work of Rabbula, bishop of Edessa from 411/2 to 435/6. Normally, their evidence is combined and harmonized by scholars in order to convey a homogeneous depiction of the bishop. My contribution begins by underlining the necessity of distinguishing carefully between sources and considering their respective contexts. Special attention will then be devoted to the idealizing but still reliable depiction in the Syriac Vita entitled The Heroic Deeds of Rabbula. It depicts Rabbula as an urban bishop wanting to assert himself within a community in which Christianity is dominated by aristocratic groups. He attempts to transform Edessa into a community of ascetism and religious welfare where the importance of displays of wealth is diminished and paupers play a more prominent role. He single-mindedly sets his own ascetic authority above other forms of authority. If we follow this line of interpretation, Rabbula envisaged a new Christian character for his city. However, he did not win acceptance among the influential groups as demonstrated by the election of his successor Hiba, who was indirectly criticized in works praising Rabbula. The debate over Rabbula’s role thus offers us insights into the discussions about what it meant to shape a Christian city.

1 Introduction Edessa, modern-day Urfa in south-eastern Turkey, played a significant role in the history of Christianity (Kirsten 1959; Segal 1970; Leppin 2021). In the first centuries CE, the city maintained loose contact with other Christian centres and practised distinct traditions. Significantly, Edessenes promoted the idea that Jesus himself planted Christianity in their city, personally corresponding with their ruler Abgar Ukkama (the Black); even the eikon acheiropoietos, the true image of Christ not created by human hands, was connected with Edessa and became famous as the Mandylion. Any doubt about the historicity of those contacts could be put to rest reading Christ’s letter to the king that was duly preserved in the famous archive of the city, Eusebius said (Eus. HE 1.13.5). I am grateful to my audiences in New Haven, Oxford and Erfurt for their comments and to Anne Schaefer (Frankfurt am Main) for her help and Chris Rands for debarbarizing my English. OpenAccess. © 2020 Laetzer/Urciuoli, published by De Gruyter. the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110641813-009

This work is licensed under


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Edessa was extremely important as an economic centre and as a military stronghold between Rome and Persia. Parthian influence dominated until the second century. Edessa then became more dependent on Rome, the kings called themselves philorhomaioi and mostly behaved accordingly. Nevertheless, the rule of the Abgarid dynasty ended under the reign of Gordian III. There was a strong Greek cultural influence, but the dominant language remained Syriac, the local dialect of Aramaic, which became a standard literary language in the Middle East (Gzella 2014, 367). Fittingly, mosaics have been found in a Greek style, but with Syriac inscriptions. Numerous sources show that Christianity was highly important in Edessa and was accepted by members of the elites early on, although Mesopotamian cults were also present in the city alongside a strong Jewish community. However, few martyrs are securely attested in Edessa, and none before the reign of Diocletian, suggesting that Christianity was less confrontational in Edessa than elsewhere. Bishops remain shadowy figures. Later, Nicenes referred to names such as Palut circa 200 CE and Quna (Conon) about 300 CE, who was regarded as the founder of the main church. Yet it remains unclear what it meant to be a bishop of Edessa at this time. Edessa was also an early centre of Christian learning: The Christian polymath Bardaisan, who gained lasting fame despite his doctrines later being condemned as heretical, lived here around 200 during the reign of Abgar IX. Abgar’s court also attracted Julius Africanus, another Christian polymath, who, however, wrote in Greek and eventually moved elsewhere. There was obviously no question that Christians could be members of the court of Edessa, express their ideas freely and take part in aristocratic life. Bardaisan for example was not only a Christian philosopher and composer of hymns, but also an excellent archer. Yet, we should not forget that members of the Severan dynasty did not hesitate to show intellectual interest in Christians, among them the afore-mentioned Iulius Africanus. Christian intellectual life continued to flourish in Edessa after the end of the Abgarid dynasty. Especially in contrast to near-by Carrhae, Edessa was the Christian city par excellence. Not unexpectedly, various forms of asceticism also played an important role in late antique Edessa: The hills in the West of the city were called the holy mountains because of the high number of monks living there (Kirsten 1959, 583; Blum 1969, 60−61). At first, Edessa was not affected intensely by the Christological controversies of the fourth century. It remained the centre of a region where various forms of Christianity co-existed more or less peacefully. The loss of Nisibis to Persia in 363, however, marked a watershed for Edessa with the so-called School of Nisibis moving to the city. Among others, the poet-theologian Ephrem had to leave Ni-

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sibis and chose Edessa as his residence. He seems to have been shocked by what he perceived as an assortment of heresies. In high language, he set out to chide groups such as Marcionites, Valentinians, and Bardaisanites with impressive words. In addition, there was a strong Jewish community and those who could be defined as pagans by certain Christians. Edessa featured few bishops with supra-regional influence. Among the most famous was Rabbula, in office from 411/2 to 435/6. He is perhaps best known for his role in the Christological controversies during and after the Council of Ephesus (431) when he eventually (?) took a stance for Cyrillus of Alexandria against the Antiochenes, an unusual position in Syria.¹ Although a highly controversial and well-attested figure, he has enjoyed little attention in modern scholarship.² There are many scattered references to Rabbula and two main sources attesting to his life: An idealizing, but at least partially reliable Syriac work, which bears the title The Heroic Deeds of my Lord Rabbula, Bishop of Edessa, the Blessed City ³, and a long passage from the Life of Alexander the Akoimetes that describes Rabbula’s conversion. This text has been transmitted in Greek, but seems to go back to a Syriac original.⁴ The work describing his heroic deeds is often called his Vita or Encomium. In one passage, the author uses the word mēmrā, which has a very general meaning such as treatise or sermon, although the translation as ‘encomium’ makes sense (46.198.23 Ov.).⁵ In addition, two sets of rules for ascetics are ascribed to Rabbula: The Admonitions for the Monks

 At first, he seems to have been a supporter of John of Antioch, s. Millar (2015, 607−608); but see Phenix and Horn (2017, clxiv − clxxiii), who don’t think that Rabbula was present at the Council of Ephesus. According to Barḥadbshabba, who goes back to Hiba’s Letter to Mari (ACO, 23−24), Rabbula initially appreciated the works of Theodore but changed his opinion after being rebuked by him on a council in Constantinople.  To my knowledge, the only monograph so far is the somewhat idealizing work of Blum (1969, 60−61), cf. Harvey (1994) for comparisons with other ascetic figures of his time; Kohlbacher (2004) on Rabbula’s theological background. The introduction to the edition and translation of the Rabbula Corpus by Phenix and Horn (2017, xvii − xxviii) comes close to another monograph. For a similar interpretation within another theoretical framework s. Leppin (2020) in print.  Edition by Overbeck (1865), now also in Phenix and Horn (2017); an earlier English translation in Doran (2006); a German translation in Beckell (1874); cf. Nau (1931, 98−99) (with translations of extracts of the mēmrā); for the depiction of Rabbula as a contrast to Hiba in the context of the latrocinium Drijvers (1996, 235−248); for the literary character Phenix (2005, 281−293). For the manuscript of the text BM Add. 14,652; s. Wright (1871, 651−652). It also contains the lives of female saints and the sets or rules and his speech in Constantinople.  See the commentary in Caner (2002, 255−263), cf. Gatier (1995). Millar (2015, 584) believes that this is a piece of literary fiction.  For a discussion of the literary genre s. Phenix and Horn (2017, xxvii − lviii).


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(Adm. monks) and the Precepts and Admonitions for the Clerics and the bnay qeyāmā (Adm. cler.). Various letters he wrote or received are also known. The Vita, written by a man close to Rabbula, depicts him as an imitator of Christ and other exemplary figures of the Bible. The author, however, begins by stating that Rabbula’s father was a pagan priest whereas his mother adhered to Christianity and tried to convert her son in vain.⁶ According to a passage in the Vita of Alexander, Rabbula even proved to be a staunch defender of paganism. Yet, in the end, when he was already a married man and held an important position in the administration, he converted to Christianity. He single-mindedly decided to become a monk, gave away his possessions and sent his children and wife to monasteries. His mother and wife showed themselves happy to accept the yoke of Christ, as we learn (10.166 Ov.). After the death of Diogenes, a synod in Antioch made Rabbula bishop of Edessa in 412 (Chron. Edess. 6, Guidi 1903; Blum 1969, 39−42).⁷ His strong Christian beliefs were already apparent when he gave away all his possessions and manumitted his slaves after his baptism. He adopted a life of renunciation and in his new office he continued on this path. This meant that he lived an extremely hard ascetic life never eating enough, wearing tattered garments, rejecting pleasure and so forth. He refused to reside at the bishop’s palace (Haensch 2003, 134−135) and showed himself aloof from any involvement in business while being keenly interested in raising money for his poor.⁸ As previously indicated, this diocese was a prestigious see. It is unclear whether Rabbula had any connection to the city prior to his appointment. According to his Vita, he distributed some of his wealth to the poor and to the saints in Edessa immediately after his baptism (9.165 Ov.). This act, which is interpreted in the sense of a prophecy⁹, presupposes some contact and, if true, would certainly have made him popular. On the other hand, some people might have found this behaviour intrusive. Furthermore, they must have felt offended by the decision to grant his bishopric made by a synod that apparently

 For the Vita s. Bowersock (2000), who prefers it to the notes in the Vita of Alexander the Acoimete, but only deals with the text up to Rabbula’s becoming bishop of Edessa.  For Antioch s. Blum (1969, 39−40, n. 4). It remains strange that the election took place in Antioch although the electors were expected to ask the local population about their views on the candidates.  For the influence of the mēmrā s. for example Vööbus (1960a, 40−45).  For other interpretation s. Phenix and Horn (2017, 18 n. 1).

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did not involve Edessenes. There are good reasons to assume that Rabbula was a contested figure in Edessa from the beginning.¹⁰ For the study of urban religion Rabbula is a fascinating case as he exemplifies how and within what limits the complex texture of urban religion could be changed from the position of a Christian bishop – or how contemporaries imagined the bishop’s role in a context of this kind. In this contribution, I will first discuss how Rabbula tried to transform the blessed city of Edessa into a powerhouse of asceticism and furthermore how his Vita describes his role as a bishop who set out to homogenize urban religion in the spirit of ascetic and charitable Christianity. The Vita, which has recently become much more accessible thanks to the edition and translation by Phenix and Horn, seems to have been written under the impression of the rule of Rabbula’s successor Hiba (Gr. Ibas) of Edessa, another well-known figure in church history. Hiba’s Letter to the Persian Mari became notorious in the time of the Three Chapters and was condemned under Justinian. As we shall see, Hiba chose a completely different way to perform his role as a bishop from Rabbula’s. Rabbula proved to be an ascetic of rare qualities and, more importantly, his ideas about an ascetic way of life reached beyond his person – the Vita describes how asceticism shaped the city as a whole. The text celebrates the achievements of Rabbula, who turns the blessed city of Edessa into a truly Christian city, a city of believers (mhaymnē) as he says (26.179 Ov.). We must keep in mind that the Vita is highly stylized: It depicts Rabbula as a man who fulfils the commandments of the Bible and behaves in a way similar to Moses, Paul, Joshua and Josiah, sometimes even re-enacting their deeds. Thus, my main focus is not on the historicity of the measures ascribed to Rabbula. Instead, I will analyse his portrayal as an exemplary bishop presented here and what this meant for the character of urban religion in Edessa. I will then look at the two sets of rules for ascetics ascribed to him. Finally, I will offer some reflections on the historical background of those descriptions. The narration of Rabbula’s episcopate in the Vita contains two elements of unequal length: a concise speech to the clerics of the city attributed to Rabbula (19 −20.173−175 Ov.) − his “theory”, to put it that way − and many deeds graphically, or, for our taste, even hauntingly depicted by the author.

 Significantly and less reliably, the Vita of Alexander 21 (PO 6.673 Cr) describes this as an election by the whole city and its surroundings, see for the question Phenix and Horn (2017, cxxx − cxxxviii).


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2 Homogenizing Christian lifestyle Rabbula’s first act as bishop must have had a powerful symbolic effect – he sold carefully crafted silver dishes used by the clerics and gave the proceeds to the poor (19.172 Ov.). From then on, the clerics had to use clay vessels. This demonstrated clearly that his church was to be one without luxury. No resistance is mentioned – although in the late sixth century Barḥadbshabba, an author from the Church of the East and thus deeply opposed to Rabbula, insinuates that the bishop was notorious for smiting his clerics (Barḥadbshabba, Foundation of Schools 380−381). Rabbula went even further attempting to sell the liturgical vessels made of silver and gold to again give the proceeds to the poor. But now he met resistance. “In their insolence, his command was held in contempt. At the request of many he was prevented from doing any of this, since they were offerings of their forefathers who had passed on before them that they (had) offered in return for the salvation of their (souls)” (19.172−173 Ov.).¹¹ This short passage bears witness to a conflict of crucial importance: With his attempt to destroy luxury goods, Rabbula probably strove to suppress opportunities for the notables to show off both their wealth and their piety in the church. He did not want the church to be a place of aristocratic representation. Interestingly, the traditional families asserted their position.¹² As defeats of this kind are rarely mentioned in hagiographies, we can safely assume that this conflict was real. Obviously, Rabbula had to cope with influential and rich families who were important donors to the church. However, he does not choose to adapt to their lifestyle. On the contrary, he presents himself as a rigorous Christian who, as we are told, convinces his clerics to do the same.¹³ In the aforementioned speech, he exhorts them to demonstrate that they are true ministers of God. The clerics have to be exemplary Christian figures avoiding all contact with women, even with relatives such as nieces, mothers or sisters. In the same paragraph Rabbula presses them not to be served by slaves, male or female (19.173−174 Ov.). This shows that the admonition is not only about purity, but again about refusing an aristocratic lifestyle that is based on family relations and that takes slaves for granted. Instead, clerics shall serve each other. Plainly, Rabbula wants to separate the clerics from their families in order to make them depend even more on their bishop.

 Cf. his speech (19.173 Ov.): “Let us not serve mammon in the liturgy.”  Segal (1970, 125−127) on the little information about the notables of Edessa we have.  For the implicit polemic against Hiba s. Drijvers (1996, 244−245).

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The clerics are expected to abstain from meat, fowl and baths except in cases of illness. They are not allowed to manage possessions nor to wear luxury goods, to walk about in the city aimlessly nor to use their eloquence. Yet again the detachment from their origins is underlined: “Let no one among you give himself over to the affairs of the members of his family” (20.174; cf. 22.176 −177 Ov.). Instead, clerics spend their time praying, fasting, performing holy works and reading the Scripture. The habitus Rabbula demands from his clerics is that of modesty. The Vita explicitly says that he humiliates the haughty and the rich (21.175 Ov.). Several other passages show how Rabbula personally declines certain practices of aristocratic communication: “Whenever he was convinced to receive great honours (in the form) of diverse foods, which were brought to him by many in the confidence that he might make use of them, he sent them to the sick and to the afflicted in the xenodocheion and to those in the destitute habitation of the solitude who were afflicted with diseases” (29.182 Ov.). The food donations to a conspicuously ascetic bishop can be best explained in the context of traditions of gift exchange. Obviously, some people tried to induce him into this way of life. Rabbula’s behaviour, however, was consistent with his strong ascetic attitude and relieved him from any social obligations towards other members of society. It also meant that he redefined any social relations in the city by religious standards. However, the fact that people still sent those gifts suggests that they expected him to follow the traditional style. The way in which he held his office cannot have been as conspicuous as the Vita affirms. The anti-aristocratic stance of the text is confirmed by its mention that the songs of the heretic Bardaisan appealed especially to the nobles (rawrbnē) of the city, who formed a kind of wall around this teacher (40.192 Ov.). It is clear that the author saw a close connection between this form of Christianity and elites. Rabbula’s outward appearance bore testimony to his ascetic mode: He and the inhabitants of his house who shared his ascetic practices were noted for their wearied look and yellow skin (30.183 Ov.). He himself wore a coat of hair and a modest mantle (32.184 Ov.). Not surprisingly, he condemned various features of traditional city life: He detested the theatre and the circus and even suppressed venationes (26.179 Ov.). Secular people had to respect his strict marriage rules (37.188−189 Ov.). He protected the weak: Soldiers, notorious oppressors of the ordinary population at this time, feared him (36.188 Ov.). Reading the faces of all people, he was able to act as a fair judge and fought vigorously against evildoers (39.191 Ov.). Women had to avoid any sign of licentiousness and wear a veil (23.177 Ov.). He was omnipresent with his rigorist directions; everyone was expected to be-


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have accordingly demonstrating very clearly how the bishop aimed to achieve a homogeneous Christian lifestyle in his city.

3 Rabbula’s building policy Sumptuous buildings were a major expression of urban religion: Temples were visible as well as churches. A growing number of magnificent church buildings shaped the image of many cities during late antiquity and demonstrated the economic power and piety of both bishops and donors. Rabbula, for his part, showed off his care for the poor.¹⁴ He demonstratively refused to undertake any building activity with the exception of one case in which repairs were unavoidable and he used all funds for charity. Whenever he received money, he directed it to the needy (38.190 Ov.). This is a major theme of the Vita, which repeatedly focuses on the use of wealth. In fact, the Vita admits that Rabbula did not completely abstain from building activities: He improved the conditions in the xenodocheion of Edessa, financed by the proceeds of church property (50.202−203 Ov.). In addition, he established a xenodocheion for women using the stones of four shrines of idols that had been destroyed (50.203 Ov.). The poor were taken from the public spaces of the city and housed in buildings under the control of the bishop. They had to quit the traditional locations where they beseeched the support from passersby and were put, instead, under the well-meaning protection and command of the bishop. In terms of social history, he built up a clientele of the poor for himself. Rabbula’s abstention from building activities must have been widely known and noteworthy. According to a very difficult source, the Syriac Vita of the famous Alexius, a poor man was detected between the colonnades of Edessa by a paramonarius and was taken to the xenodocheion. ¹⁵ Rabbula was so impressed by Alexius’s modesty that he henceforth renounced building projects. This account deviates slightly from the Vita, but the message is the same. Rabbula does not aim to change the cityscape with sumptuous buildings. Still, the mostly reliable Chronicon Edessenum plausibly mentions that Rabbula built a church of St Stephen in the place of a synagogue at the behest of the

 For late antique concepts of poverty cf. Patlagean (1977) and Brown (1992, 89−99) for the role of the bishops.  For the legend cf. Amiaud (1889); Khalek (2005); s. Drijvers (1996, 235−248) for the identification of Alexius as a holy man who had been hiding his holiness.

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emperor (Chron. Edess. 51, Guidi 1903).¹⁶ The brief notice gives an idea of the degree of stylizations of the Vita, which obviously wants to leave no doubt about Rabbula renouncing a central element of episcopal representation, which allowed his colleagues to shape the whole city in a concrete sense. The Vita characterizes Rabbula as a bishop who does not plan to display his piety and economic power by splendid architecture. The rich revenues he receives are channelled to the needy and the sick. The city depicted in this text must have looked unfamiliar to ancient observers with no beggars huddled on streets and squares. According to our source, their filthiness disappears from the colonnades and the streets and, instead, they now live in the orderly and clean xenodocheia, chastely separated according to sex. On the streets Rabbula’s own emaciated appearance and that of his close followers paraded their ascetic energy. Edessa did not shine in the splendour of ornaments, but in the splendour of renunciation.

4 Combat against religious deviance Another field of activity is Rabbula’s fight against religious deviance.¹⁷ The Vita sweepingly affirms that he converted thousands of heretics and Jews (41.193 Ov.), but goes into more detail regarding certain groups, whom the text treats differently:¹⁸ Rabbula approached the adherents of Bardaisan individually and offered them immunity if they renounced their old faith. In doing so, he was able to silently destroy the house of their assemblies and even take possession of their treasure (40−41.192−193 Ov.). This circumspect way of converting those who deviated from his form of Christianity seems fitting for a group with an aristocratic background. Similarly, the bishop seems to instruct and convert the Messalians personally (42.194−195 Ov.).

 Hallier (1892, 106−107) believes on the base of mēmrā 42 (194 Ov.) that the phrase meant the Audians. His argument presupposes a high reliability of the mēmrā, which seems doubtful. The differing attitudes of the bishops become only clear by the fact that the Chronicon, whose author was a Chalcedonian, has the opportunity to mention donations by high-ranking people under Hiba (Chronicon 60−61).  Phenix and Horn (2017, cxxxviii−clxiv) cast some doubt on the historicity of this passage, but leave the question open; the nuanced description, however, could serve as an argument in favour of historicity.  His energetic fight against heretics is also testified by his letters, s. Letter of Andrew of Samosata to Rabbula (CPG 63841); Rabbula’s letter to Gemellina of Perrha (CPG 6493) on monks with a special diet; in 5 (B 185), Rabbula implies that heretics only wanted to win admiration.


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The Arians also joined his community, but the adverb quietly is missing in the notice on the destruction of their church building (41.193 Ov.).¹⁹ As it appears, they needed much less consideration than the elitist Bardaisanites. Rabbula also convinced the Marcionites and crazy Manicheans who received baptism (41.193−194 Ov.). The Borborians for their part were sent to certain dwellings, probably monasteries. This may be due to their reputation as being a filthy sect, which demanded separation from their world. The hagiographer does not state that they had been converted before, a detail he does not fail to mention in regard to other groups he writes about (40.194 Ov.). Apparently, the Borborians were kept under a kind of surveillance. The Audians, who had a church organization of their own, were expelled (42.194 Ov.). Those passages make clear that Rabbula staged himself as a strong ascetic, whereas, in fact, he was politically versatile in certain aspects. Even while recounting these conflicts the Vita always insists that Rabbula acted as a mild shepherd. The result was the religious homogenization of the diocese. If we take the author’s account at face value, there were only Christians obedient to Rabbula and Jews left. In line with the homogenization of religious life, Rabbula’s translation of the New Testament from Greek into Syriac makes sense (19.172 Ov.).

5 The countryside What happens in the city radiates into its surroundings. Rabbula even took care of the lepers who live outside of the city – a special deacon looked after them and Rabbula himself visited the sick (51.203−204 Ov.). We would be inclined to define this as a transition zone between city and countryside. However, the real base of asceticism in the diocese of Edessa was, as elsewhere, the countryside. Rabbula had few possibilities to gain influence among people living outside the city. There were periodeutai, but he seems to have doubted their loyalty. According to the Vita he visited monasteries and had a cell reserved for himself in each one, officially with the intention to revere the relics of the dead (48.201 Ov.). The countryside looks different in the two sets of rules that have come down under the name of Rabbula. The first set of rules is called “Admonitions (zuhāre) for the Monks”, the other “Precepts (puqdāne) and Admonitions to the Clerics

 Here Rabbula uses the word ‘qr’, which describes a much stronger measure than str used in regard to the Bardaisanites.

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and the bnay qeyāmā” (Phenix and Horn 2017, 94−101, 102−117; Vööbus 1960b, 24−33, 34−50).²⁰ Although they are often called canons, they were not issued by a council, but by the bishop.²¹ In contrast to the Vita, those rules are mainly directed at a rural population: The rules for the monks entirely, the other set primarily in the villages – which is expressly said in the heading as given for example by BL Add. 14652. Although often read together, the rules should be seen separately from the speech to the clergy in the Vita since they affect different groups (19.173−174 Ov.).²² In general, one should be careful not to lump together all the texts that have to do with or pretend to have to do with Rabbula’s ideas of asceticism. Rather, those texts should be interpreted as sources for the diversity of ascetic life in Edessa, which meant a real challenge for Rabbula. Let us first have a closer look to the Admonitions for the monks. Significantly, a major issue of this text is the restriction of their mobility. Monks are not allowed to enter villages or towns with the exception of the sā‘ūrā who, for his part, has to spend the nights in a church or a monastery (Rab., Adm. mon. 1;2).²³ The monks are also forbidden to appear before court or visit cities in the name of justice (Rab., Adm. mon. 15). Another interesting point is Rabbula’s distrust of individual asceticism: Monks who show off their ascetic virtue by growing long hair or bearing iron (viz. chains) were forbidden to leave the monastery (Rab., Adm. mon. 5). The sā‘ūrā and other monks are not allowed to wear shirts made of hair outside the monastery (Rab., Adm. mon. 6). This is one of the very few rules for which Rabbula gives a reason: If people wore hair shirts, the monastic garb might be despised. Read against the grain, this shows how villagers revered ascetic monks. It is also a sign for there being at least some sā‘ūre who preferred ascetic costumes to their normal robes. Whereas asceticism, especially in Syria, used to be shaped by virtuous individuals, Rabbula shows the totalizing potential of asceticism in his fight against potentially disruptive ascetics.²⁴

 A third set of rules (Phenix and Horn 2017, 118−125; Vööbus 1960b, 78−86) has falsely been ascribed to Rabbula. Vööbus (1970, 128−138) is still fundamental. See Blum (1969, 42−61) with helpful comments that are, however, based on a high degree of sympathy.  Although there seems to exist a scholarly consensus that Rabbula was the author of both sets of rules, this issue should be discussed more deeply. Since I believe that Rabbula was at least the final authority behind the rules, I continue to call the author Rabbula.  Blum (1969, 44) considers them as similar. In fact, they are similar under various aspects, but there are differences: To give only one example, the mēmrā forbids bathing, which goes unmentioned in the rules. I will discuss the rules in another context.  For the office Nedungatt (1973, 191−215; 419−444, here: 204).  Some hints in Cameron (1995, 147−161).


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The Vita, by the way, describes extensively Rabbula’s own life as a hermit prior to his episcopacy. He did what he could in order not to attract many visitors, departing to the inner desert: “His work there was this alone: constant prayer, the service of the psalms, and the reading of the Scriptures, for these are the righteous canons of all proper monasteries and of all who belong to our Lord” (14.168 Ov.). This is not in opposition to, but different from what he recommends in his rules.²⁵ Fittingly, the bishop does not tolerate autonomous Christian cultcentres in the countryside: Relics were to be handed over to Rabbula to decide whether they were truthful. If this was the case, they were to be revered in martyria whereas the rest would be buried in ordinary cemeteries (Rab., Adm. mon. 22). If monks crafted urns for the dead of their brethren, they had to be hidden so deeply that nobody could catch sight of them (Rab., Adm. mon. 23). The depiction of monks that lurks behind Rabbula’s warnings is impressive. They were well-connected people able to conduct business from the monastery and were highly mobile. They accompanied their clients to the courts in order to support them. They staged their holiness, they showed off their asceticism and they had relics at their disposition. In short, they were the same figures, as we know them, for example, from Theodoret’s Philotheos Historia. But Theodoret, the bishop of Kyrrhos, had a completely different way of dealing with his monks. He stylized himself as their patron. The hermits were allowed to maintain their lifestyle, but had to respect the role of the bishop and heed his advice, as Theodoret suggested in his famous work (Leppin 1996, 212−230).²⁶ Rabbula, in contrast, attempted to hammer home a rigid, rigorous and restrictive idea of monastic life. He obviously wanted to keep the monks and their charismatic authority in check.²⁷ The other set of rules refers to the bnay qeyāmā. They formed a group of men and women characteristic of Syria who devoted their lives to ascetic practices, but who were allowed to live with or close to their families. These rules also included clerics.²⁸ Nevertheless, they had to respect the authority of the bishop. A crucial issue is once again the involvement in lawsuits, which, however, is not

 The parallels given in the notes by Phenix and Horn (2017) are more general in character.  For the comparison s. Stewart (2013, 207– 222); Schor (2011, 118) for a parallel between Theodoret and Rabbula.  In this regard he was by no means an isolated figure, s. Can. 4; 8 of Chalcedon which warns monks against any meddling in worldly affairs.  Still fundamental Vööbus (1961, 19−27); Nedungatt (1973, 204) mainly on Aphrahat, underlining the differences with Rabbula. According to him 433 qeyāmā means marriage; for a balanced Griffith (1995, 229−234).

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generally forbidden. Rabbula mentions among their tasks that they have to demand justice for the oppressed (Rab., Adm. cler. 11). The periodeutai are responsible for entrusting people with hearing a defence in trial, but must be known for their honesty (Rab., Adm. cler. 14).²⁹ Rabbula was obviously aware that this role was full of temptations. No cleric was allowed to receive bribes namely in the context of lawsuits (Rab., Adm. cler. 5). They should not accept forged documents (Rab., Adm. cler. 47). Contentions between the children of the church, as the addressees are called altogether, should be settled locally and not in town: “Those who ignore you send to us” (Rab., Adm. cler. 36). No cleric or bar qeyāmā should travel to the judicial court without episcopal permission (Rab., Adm. cler. 38). The bishop obviously wanted to keep the rural bnay qeyāmā away from the city, if possible. In one rule, there is mention of the most important figures from the social world of the countryside, the Lords of the villages. Rabbula emphasizes that they deserve due respect – but nothing more. Not every order they gave was to be respected, especially when the poor might be disadvantaged (Rab., Adm. cler. 34). This is another example of his resistance against the elites: Rabbula exhorts the clerics not to enforce tributes, not even when commanded by city authorities (Rab., Adm. cler. 6; 7). The set of rules for the children of the church is even more heterogeneous than the one for the monks. We can observe a world in which clerics live under difficult economic circumstances. They feel forced to raise money with fees for church services. Others are involved in businesses and lawsuits, perhaps on the basis of their offices’ spiritual authority. Some of them work as farmers or hirelings of more prosperous people. Laypeople thus exerted heavy influence on this group. The bnay qyāmā held a certain importance for the church. They had to rely on the support of the clerics, but were also in danger of being exploited by them. Other religious authorities such as roaming individuals who promise to heal and do miracles seem to be present, calling to mind early Christian communities.  There is an interesting difference between the two sets of rules: In the rules for the monks the author uses the word sā‘ūrā, whereas in the rules for the children of the church he prefers the Greek loan word. How should we explain the differences? Various answers seem possible: One could deny Rabbula’s authorship for one of the texts. One could think of two redactors with differing stylistic ideals. It is also possible that the rules were based on petitions made by various groups who used different vocabulary or even different languages. If so, the rules did not only affect different groups but also different regions with linguistic particularities. I am, however, unsure whether the periodeutes and the sā‘ūrā are in actual fact identical. The original meaning of the Syriac word is effector, see ThesSyr II 2688, which translates the word with chorepiscopus, periodeuta. For the chorepiscopus Robinson (2017, 198−207); Phenix and Horn (2017, cciv − ccivi) with strong arguments against identification.


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Both sets of rules depict the city as a place that might entrap the ascetics in difficult problems. They show that Rabbula wanted to maintain a sharp distinction between city and countryside although forms of asceticism shaped both urban and rural religions. Robert Markus (1990, 199−213) compellingly described the ascetic invasion of the cities in fifth and sixth century Gaul. Similarly, the frontiers between city and country are blurred by Rabbula’s own intrusion into the city. Yet he wants to keep away any other ascetic trespasser. He aims to be the foremost and only ascetic leader in town.

6 Lacunae When Rabbula died in 435, the whole city lamented, his panegyrist says. He claims that the mourning population included not only clerics, but also laypeople and even Jews (55.207 Ov.).³⁰ Finally, Rabbula, the tough fighter, appears as an integrating force for the city of Edessa – but the description of the unifying force of the death rituals for a city is among the topoi of hagiography. Not untypically, the hagiographic text on Rabbula brushes off vast parts of normal city politics: No secular judge is mentioned, no magistrate, no imperial official, almost no soldier, and no contact with the imperial court apart from a visit to Constantinople where Rabbula heavily reprimands Nestorius (46 −47.198−200 Ov.). Even the famous schools go unmentioned, which were central institutions of Edessa.³¹ Hiba, his successor, taught at the School of the Persians that held opposing views to those of Rabbula in many aspects (Rammelt 2008, 41 −46). Barḥadbshabba (Foundations of Schools 380−381) mentions that the bishop had almost all works of Theodore of Mopsuestia burnt.³² Hiba, for his part, had the texts of Theodore translated into Syriac (Kavvadas 2015, 89−103). Whatever the historicity of the notice in Barḥadbshabba, the Vita conspicuously ignores the theological conflicts within Edessa except for Rabbula’s fight against

 The same motive appears in the Doctrina Addai and the Story of the Martyrdom of Habbib the Deacon, cf. Drijvers (1985, 95).  In contrast to the Vita of Alexander 22 (PO 6.674 Cr). S. Becker (2013, 61); he rightly says that the Vita of Alexander is not reliable (Becker 2013, 56−57), but the fact that the schools of Edessa go unmentioned in the Vita of Rabbula is not significant since the Vita is far from comprehensive.  On burning of book cf. Andreas of Samosata, Ep. to Alexander of Hierapolis (CPG 6374 = ACO 1.4.86,25 – 87,6).

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Nestorius. Nor does the hagiographer mention that Rabbula exiled Hiba.³³ One gets the impression that the author wanted to smooth over the frictions among Christians, all of whom, in the best of all worlds, should have accepted the union of 433.³⁴

7 Conclusion In the picture the Vita evokes, urban life in Edessa was completely dominated by the bishop although secular judges still existed as the rules that he himself issued show. The baths still welcomed their clients, theatrical shows did not stop. This text ignored at least one natural catastrophe that affected the city³⁵ and could have highlighted the efforts of the bishop for the victims – if they were relevant. The text is completely focused on a bishop who acts single-mindedly for the best of his flock, following the example of biblical figures. This narrowness of the Vita can only be understood against the background of the developments in Edessa after Rabbula’s death, which brought a complete change of course. Hiba, his successor, did not only hold contrarian views in regard to doctrine, but also interpreted the office of the bishop differently. He pursued an aristocratic lifestyle, indulging in what his enemies called luxuries such as banquets. From a local viewpoint, this might have been much more important than the dogmatic quarrels, since the result could be seen in everyday life. Although Hiba’s election seems to have proceeded smoothly, resistance against him soon flared up, even on the part of the aristocrats and high officials. The conflict became part of a wider field of Christological debates that led to the divisive councils of Ephesus II and Chalcedon.³⁶ This confirms that there was an on-going debate about how a bishop should perform his office, with two extreme positions held in Edessa. Rabbula’s rigorist interpretation of the office is an expression of strength only at first glance, but in fact it is a sign of his weakness. Rabbula seems

 As the acclamations of his adherents during the so-called latrocinium reveal (Flemming 1917, 20.7; 21.9−21.10).  On Rabbula’s divisive role Rammelt (2008, 139−142); for the context Rammelt (2009).  An inundation in 413 (Chron. Edess. 52, again mentioned as a dire catastrophe in 106).  See ACO 4.1, n. 141.29−30, a letter from Proclus of Constantinople to John of Antioch that mentions a complaint of leading Edessenes (primates et clari militia) about Hiba, probably from 438, cf. Rist (2011). The conflicts on the latrocinium of 449 show that he had determined foes in Edessa, cf. Rammelt (2008, 144−146, 180 – 230). The Florilegium Edessenum could be an expression of this controversy s. Rucker (1933, XX).


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never to have won general acceptance in the diocese of Edessa. His term of office was defined by conflicts, which the Vita interprets as virtuous agones as early as in the first paragraphs. His rules are famous for their rigor and were transmitted to later generations up to Bar Hebraeus, but this does not imply that they were largely respected in their time. The Vita paints a picture without shades: Rabbula fights for the homogenization of religious life in his diocese. He strives for a uniform Christian city and makes “the entire flock into the one peaceful body of the perfect human being,” as the Vita puts it in an allusion to Ephesians 2.14−16 (43.195 Ov.). Urban religion had to be homogeneous under the sign of asceticism, jaundiced instead of colourful. It was based on the authority of the bishop rather than the economic and symbolic authority of aristocrats. However, Rabbula’s main asset was not the authority his office implied. Rather, this church was based not only on asceticism but on a special form of asceticism controlled by the bishop himself and not by abbots or charismatic hermits. Personally, he lived an ascetic life and in doing so he enhanced the charismatic authority that probably had propelled him into office. Nobody could contest his authority claiming higher ascetical credentials. Why asceticism? In a Christian environment, asceticism had the huge advantage that it imposed itself independent of any doctrinal orientation and might even impress non-Christians – this was a major difference to theological expertise. It served Rabbula as a means towards the homogenization of the religiously diverse city of Edessa.³⁷ The emaciated faces of his adherents were to dominate the image of the town rather than the splendour of ancient architecture and ornaments. The common sight of poverty disappeared from the public space and became part of the episcopal representation. Rabbula could have used urban religion as a form of aristocratic representation. With his super-asceticism, however, Rabbula set out to outplay aristocrats and to become the dominant figure in the city of Edessa. He also wielded economic power, receiving and distributing money while visibly despising all kinds of wealth. His hagiographer is deeply impressed by high sums of money, which sometimes colours the description in an unexpected way. Urban religion as staged by Rabbula centred on a bishop who tried to interpret the re-

 The Doctrina Addai, which also advances ascetic views and seems to sympathize with a Cyrillian standpoint, is interpreted as a work close to (or even by) Rabbula, cf. for example Griffith (2009, 269−292); Saint-Laurent (2015, 47). Yet the Doctrina underlines the importance of the aristocratic tradition, of the apostolic succession via Antioch and Rome and the importance of church building, all of which does not correspond with Rabbula’s standpoint. Also sceptical Phenix and Horn (2017, liv − lviii).

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ligious life of the city under the premise of totalising asceticism and protection of the poor. He obviously impressed many people, but he did not win lasting acceptance. When Hiba denounced the man who claimed to create a city of believers as the tyrant of Edessa, he had a point (ACO 2.1.3, n. 138.32– 34, here 33.26).

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Guidi, Ignatius, ed. 1903. Chronica minora. Paris: CSCO Scr. Syr. 3,4. Griffith, Sidney H. 1995. “Asceticism in the Church of Syria: The Hermeneutics of Early Syrian Monasticism.” In Asceticism, edited by Vincent L. Wimbush and Richard Valantasis, 220 −245. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. Griffith, Sidney H. 2009. “The Doctrina Addai as a Paradigm of Christian Thought in Edessa in the Fifth Century.” Hugoye 6:269−292. Gzella, Holger. 2014. A Cultural History of Aramaic: From the Beginnings to the Advent of Islam. Handbook of Oriental Studies 1. Leiden: Brill. Haensch, Rudolf. 2003. “Römische Statthalter als Vorbilder für Bischöfe im 4. Jh.?” In Representation and Perception of Roman Imperial Power. Impact of Empire 3, edited by Lukas de Blois et al., 117−136. Amsterdam: Gieben. Hallier, Ludwig. 1892. Untersuchungen über die Edessenische Chronik. Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 9,1. Leipzig: Hinrichs. Kavvadas, Nestor. 2015. “Translation as taking stances. The emergence of Syriac Theodoranism in 5th century Edessa.” Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum 19:89 – 103. Khalek, Nancy A. 2005. “Methods of Instructing Syriac-Speaking Christians to Care for the Poor: A Brief Comparison of the Eighth Mêmrâ of the Book of Steps and the Story of the Man of God of Edessa.” Hugoye 8:13−25. Kirsten, Ernst. 1959. “Edessa.” Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum, Vol. 4, 552−597. Stuttgart: Hiersemann. Kohlbacher, Michael. 2004. “Rabbula in Edessa. Das Weiterwirken eines Schismas in der armenischen Bekenntnistradition.” In Blicke gen Osten: Festschrift für Friedrich Heyer zum 95. Geburtstag. Studien zur orientalischen Kirchengeschichte 30, edited by Martin Tamcke, 233−274. Münster: LIT Verlag. Leppin, Hartmut. 1996. “Zum kirchenpolitischen Kontext von Theodorets Mönchsgeschichte.” Klio 78:212−230. Leppin, Hatrmut. 2020 (in print). Normative Ordnung, Exemplarität und Performanz – das Beispiel Rabbulas von Edessa Rainer Forst / Klaus Günther (ed.), Theorien normativer Ordnungen. Berlin: Suhrkamp. Leppin, Hartmut. 2021 (in print).” Edessa.” In The Oxford Handbook of Hellenistic and Roman Syria and the Near East, edited by Rubina Raja. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Markus, Robert. 1990. The End of Ancient Christianity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Millar, Fergus. 2015. “Greek and Syriac in Fifth-Century Edessa. The Case of Bishop Hibas.” In Empire. Church and Society in the Late Roman. Late antique history and religion 10, edited by Fergus Miller, 605−630. Leuven et al.: Peeters. Nau, François. 1931. “Les ‘belles actions’ de Mar Rabboula, évèque d’Édesse de 412 au 7 août 435 (ou 436).” Revue de l’histoire des religions 103:97−135. Nedungatt, George. 1973. “The Covenanters of the Early Syriac Speaking Church.” Orientalia Christiana Periodica 49:191−215; 419−444. Overbeck, J. Josephus, ed., 1865. S. Ephraemi Syri, Rabulae episcopi Edesseni, Balaei aliorumque opera selecta. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Patlagean, Evelyne. 1977. Pauvreté économique et pauvreté sociale à Byzance 4e − 7e siècles. Paris et al.: Mouton. Phenix, Robert R. 2005. “Kunstprosaische Elemente in der Vita Rabbulae. Ein Blick auf das Encomium an den Helden.” In Die Suryoye und ihre Umwelt: 4. deutsches

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Syrologen-Symposium in Trier 2004. Festgabe Wolfgang Hage zum 70. Geburtstag. Studien zur orientalischen Kirchengeschichte 36, edited by Martin Tamcke and Andreas Heinz, 281−293. Münster: LIT Verlag. Phenix, Robert R. and Horn, Cornelia B. 2017. The Rabbula Corpus: Comprising the Life of Rabbula, his Correspondence, a Homily Delivered in Constantinople, Canons, and Hymns. Translations, notes, and introduction by Robert R. Phenix and Cornelia B. Horn. Atlanta: SBL Press. Rammelt, Claudia. 2008. Ibas von Edessa: Rekonstruktion einer Biographie und dogmatischen Position zwischen den Fronten. Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte 106. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter. Rammelt, Claudia. 2009. “Die Vorgänge in Edessa im April des Jahres 449 nach den syrischen Konzilsakten des so genannten Latrociniums.” In Edessa in hellenistisch-römischer Zeit. Religion, Kultur und Politik zwischen Ost und West. Beiträge des internationalen Edessa-Symposiums in Halle an der Saale, 14. − 17. Juli 2005. Beiruter Texte und Studien 116, edited by Lutz Greisinger, Jürgen Tubach, and Claudia Rammelt, 231−254. Beirut and Würzburg: Ergon Verlag. Rist, Josef. 2011. “Zum Beispiel Proklos von Konstantinopel. Über Chancen und Grenzen des spätantiken Bischofsamtes.” In Johan Leemans et al. (ed.), Episcopal Elections in Late Antiquity. 515 – 530. Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte 119. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter. Robinson, Thomas A. 2017. Who Were the First Christians? Dismantling the Urban Thesis. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. Rucker, Ignaz. 1933. Florilegium Edessenum anonymum (syriace ante 562). Phil-hist. Kl. 1933,5. München: Verlag der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaft. Saint-Laurent, Jeanne-Nicole Mellon. 2015. Missionary Stories and the Formation of the Syriac Churches. The Transformation of the Classical Heritage 55. Berkeley: University of California Press. Schor, Adam M. 2011. Theodoret’s People. Social Networks and Religious Conflict in Late Roman Syria. The Transformation of the Classical Heritage 48. Berkeley: University of California Press. Segal, Judah F. 1970. Edessa. The Blessed City. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Stewart, Columba. 2013. “The Ascetic Taxonomy of Antioch and Edessa at the Emergence of Monasticism.” Adamantius 19:207 – 222. Vööbus, Arthur. 1960a. “Das literarische Verhältnis zwischen der Biographie des Rabbula und dem Pseudo-Amphilochianischen Panegyrikus über Basilius.” Oriens Christianus 44:40 −45. Vööbus, Arthur. 1960b. Syriac and Arabic Documents regarding Legislation relative to Syrian Asceticism. Estonian Theological Society in Exile 11. Stockholm: Papers of the Estonian Theological Society in Exile. Vööbus, Arthur. 1961. “The Institution of the benai qeiama and the benat qeiama in the Ancient Syrian Church.” Church history 30:19−27. Vööbus, Arthur. 1970. Syrische Kanonessammlungen: Ein Beitrag zur Quellenkunde, I: Westsyrische Originalurkunden, 1, A − B. Louvain: CSCO 307, 317, Subs. 35, 38. Wright, William. 1871. Catalogue of Syriac Manuscripts in the British Museum acquired since the year 1838, Vol. 2. London: Longmans and Asher.

Michael Blömer

Sacred spaces and new cities in the Byzantine East Abstract: Some of the main trajectories of urban development in Roman Syria and Asia Minor have been studied in detail. Not much attention, however, has been paid to the fact that in some places the urban can be seen as the product of sacred. There are various examples of large rural sanctuaries that over time gained urban characteristics and eventually developed into cities. During the second wave of urbanisation in Syria in the 2nd / 3rd centuries CE, some of those “urbanised sanctuaries” were formally recognised as cities. This close entanglement between sanctuaries and the emergence of urbanity was not confined to the pagan period. Christian places of worship could trigger the urbanisation of rural places, too. Resafa, for example, developed from a small border post into a flourishing city of Sergiopolis due to the popularity of the martyrium of S. Sergios. It is remarkable that in most cases the cities that developed around sanctuaries very quickly emancipated themselves from those sanctuaries. The growing complexity of the cities‘ metabolism turned them into regional hubs in their own right. They proved to be very resilient and maintained their urban role even after the sanctuaries that initiated the process of urbanisation were finally abandoned.

1 Introduction Stating that the cities of the Eastern Empire did not decline in late antiquity is a commonplace today. Over the last 30 years, a large array of studies has demonstrated the resilience of urbanism in this region and highlighted the vivacity of urban life in the fourth to sixth centuries CE. The master narrative changed from decline to a contingent process of transformation.¹ Cities successfully adapted to changing economic, political, social, religious, and environmental re-

 This work was supported by the Danish National Research Foundation under the grant DNRF119 – Centre of Excellence for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet). See for example Kennedy (1985); Foss (1997); Avni (2011); Lavan 2012; Grig 2013; Eger (2013): 95 – 134; Quiroga (2016); Zanini (2016). Michael Milojević (2017, 247) labelled the sixth century as a period of “accelerated transformation” in the infinite process of urban transformation. OpenAccess. © 2020 Laetzer/Urciuoli, published by De Gruyter. the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110641813-010

This work is licensed under


Michael Blömer

alities and thrived until the Umayyad period at least. This process involved the remodelling of cityscapes and the emergence of new, Christianised urban ideals. Yet, not only did many cities of the Eastern Empire continue to prosper, new cities emerged in this period, too. This phenomenon has started to arrest attention only recently (Zanini 2003; Rizos 2017a). In most cases, the settlements were not completely new, however. Emperors promoted prospering rural communities to civic status, which sometimes entailed the adoption of a new name.² This practice had a longstanding tradition in the Roman world. The recognition of a pre-existing settlement as a city did not necessarily have much impact on the built environment. The consequences of the status change were of mainly political, administrative, and fiscal nature. In rare instances, however, massive investments were made to turn places without a substantial previous infrastructure into urban settlements. Examples for the latter practice are Sergiupolis/ Rusafa, Anastasiopolis/Dara, and Martyropolis/Mayyāfāriqīn.³ All three cities were located in peripheral areas of the Near East that were frequently contested in antiquity. For a long time, they have been portrayed primarily as heavily fortified military bases, as garrison towns, which were constructed to close gaps in the defence system against the Sasanian Empire and potentially hostile nomadic tribes.⁴ They served military purposes indeed, but clearly, they were much more than just military camps. Recent research proved that they were densely populated and that they functioned as important economic hubs and religious foci. In contrast to many cities of the region with a long history that goes back to the Hellenistic period or even further, as Antioch, Cyrrhus, Hierapolis, Edessa, or Carrhae, these cities did not have a pagan past and accordingly no pre-Christian places of memory, which influenced and manipulated later urban development. They are therefore fascinating test cases for inquiries in the urban ideals of their time. Moreover, they offer insights in the entanglement between urbanism, religion, and economy. The intertwined role of economy and religion in the urbanization process is the focus of this article. Rather than giving comprehensive accounts of the individual cities, their buildings, and their development, the factors that influenced the decision to found the cities and the role of religion in their rise and success will be scrutinized.

 For the sixth century blossom of urbanism in Byzantine North Africa, see Modéran (1996); Leone (2013).  Another example is Zenobia at the Euphrates; see Blétry (2017). The praxis of founding new cities continued in the Umayyad period. The most famous example is ʿAnjar, located on the slopes of the Anti-Lebanon; see Hillebrand (1999).  For example Pollard (2000), who traces the growing militarization of cities in the Eastern Empire; see also Petersen (2013, 135– 143).

Sacred spaces and new cities in the Byzantine East


2 Sergiupolis/Rusafa Sergiupolis emerged from a Late Roman castellum on the strata diocletiana, which linked the middle Orontes valley with the Euphrates.⁵ It developed into one of the most important Christian sanctuaries of Syria in the fifth century CE. This was due to the relics of St Sergius, a Roman soldier who is said to have been martyred in the time of Galerius at the site that was later renamed Sergiupolis. Like other military martyrs, the cult of St Sergius gained immense popularity very quickly and his shrine in Sergiupolis became a popular destination for sacred travel (Fowden 1999). Consequently, the site transformed into the main economic hub in the wider region and served as an important place of exchange between the nomads of the steppe and the sedentary population of Northern Syria. From the late fifth century CE onwards, a striking process of monumentalisation commenced. In a much-cited passage, Procopius gives an account of this process in his famous book de aedificiis: There is a certain church in Euphratesia, dedicated to Sergius, a famous saint, whom men of former times used to worship and revere, so that they named the place Sergiopolis, and they had surrounded it with a very humble wall, just sufficient to prevent the Saracens of the region from capturing it by storm. For the Saracens are naturally incapable of storming a wall, and the weakest kind of barricade, put together with perhaps nothing but mud, is sufficient to check their assault. At a later time, however, this church, through its acquisition of treasures, came to be powerful and celebrated. And the Emperor Justinian, upon considering this situation, at once gave it careful attention, and he surrounded the church with a most remarkable wall, and he stored up a great quantity of water and thus provided the inhabitants with a bountiful supply. Furthermore, he added to the place houses and stoas and the other buildings, which are wont to be the adornments of a city. Besides this he established there a garrison of soldiers who, in case of need, defended the circuit-wall. (Procopius, de aedificiis 2, 9)

The historicity of this report has been questioned and archaeological research at Resafa/Sergiupolis has clearly shown that the transformation of the place into a city already started in the later fifth century CE.⁶ Yet, more important than the exact dating of the different phases of construction is the fact that the transformation and monumentalisation of Sergiupolis happened within a relatively short

 For the late antique Roman limes in this part of Syria, see Konrad (2001).  The results of research in Resafa have been published in the volumes of the Resafa publication series and in a large array of articles. For a brief overview of recent research, see Gussone (2010); Sack, Gussone, and Kurapkat (2014).


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period and that the imperial court was involved in the financing and planning of the building activities. In the decades from the later fifth century to the mid-sixth century, the city walls, various large churches, massive underground cisterns, and monumental streets were built. After the reign of Justinian, Sergiupolis continued to prosper due to the unbroken popularity of St Sergius. This did not change in the Umayyad period, when St Sergius was revered even among Muslim arabs. In addition to the Christian basilica, a mosque was attached to the shrine of St Sergius (Sack 1996). Settlement activity peaked in the late Umayyad period when caliph Hišām b. ʿAbd al-Malik (r. 724– 742) took up residence at Rusafa and built a number of palaces immediately outside the city walls (Gussone – Müller-Wiener 2012; Konrad 2016). Rusafa preserved an urban character for a long time and was abandoned only in the thirteenth century in the wake of the Mongol invasion. Today, well-preserved ruins convey a good impression of the monumentality of the city in the sixth century CE. Striking are the remarkable circuit walls that give the city the appearance of a military camp (Hof 2016; Hof [forthcoming]). Inside the walls the dominant features are the sumptuous churches, among them the central basilica with the shrine of St. Sergius.⁷ Colonnaded streets that start at the main gates of the city connect the churches. The main streets were 15 m wide and decorated with various monumental arches (Westphalen 2000). Flanked by shops, the streets served as the main places of mercantile activity and production. Other large-scale infrastructure works were underground cisterns fed by a complex system of subterranean aqueducts that collected water from the hinterland of the city (Brunke et al. 2016, 277– 283). Archaeologists and architects have investigated the ruins of Sergiupolis since the 1950s. The focus was, however, for a long time on the monumental church buildings and their decoration. Only more recently broader questions of urban life, the construction of urban space, and the life of the individual inhabitants started to play a role. The outbreak of the war in Syria, however, has prevented the full implementation of the new research agenda.

3 Martyropolis/Mayyāfāriqīn Martyropolis (syr. Mayyāfāriqīn) is one of the earliest examples of a newly founded city in the late antique Eastern Empire. The city is located in the Armenian

 Basilica A: Ulbert (1986); Basilica D: Westphalen (2000, 349 – 357); basilica C: Ulbert (2016).

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region of Sophanene, north of the Tigris at the river Farkin Su.⁸ It appears to have been an insignificant village until massive building activities commenced in 410 CE.⁹ Martyropolis then quickly rose to one of the most prominent cities of the Eastern Byzantine Empire. The sudden rise to an important city is closely tied to Marutha of Martyropolis, at that time a prominent bishop of Mesopotamia and diplomat for the Roman state (Fowden 1997, 48 – 59). On various occasions between 400 and 410 CE emperor Theodosius II sent him as an imperial ambassador to the Persian Great King Yazdegerd I. As the story goes, Marutha won the confidence of Yazdegerd and was granted the right to collect the bones of all Christian martyrs in the Persian Empire. When he returned with these relics to Byzantine territory, he decided that the relics should be kept at a place in Sophanene, which then became Martyropolis. The Armenian Life of Marutha relates that … he [Theodosius] asked him [Marutha] what he desired. And the man of god requested the emperor to fortify the city of Cop’k’ with a strong wall and a church to the glory of God in the midst of city, wherein the sacrifice of Christ and praises of God might continually be performed; and that a certain number of all the saints might be brought together; and that it should be named the city of martyrs. And the emperor said: “Thy words are good, and acceptable to God are thy designs. Therefore do as thou wilt, and the expenses of the building will be paid by me, as much as is needed.” And he gave treasures of gold and silver, and craftsmen from the land of the Greeks and overseers and workmen as many as were needed.¹⁰

It is difficult if not impossible to decide whether the building of the city can be attributed exclusively to the authority of bishop Marutha. Yet, the translation of the martyrs‘ bones and the ensuing religious significance of the place must be regarded the decisive momentum for the foundation of the city. Soon after, Martyropolis became seat of a Byzantine duke and thus an important military post at a crucial location between Armenia and Mesopotamia. The place remained important until the Mongol invasion. The modern name of the city is Silvan. It is a small district town in the Diyarbakir province with a predominantly Kurdish population. Silvan was one of the epicentres of Kurdish-Turkish tensions and as recently as in 2015 serious clashes

 For the history and topography of this understudied region, see Marciak (2017).  The claim that Martyropolis is the site of Tigranocerta, the short-lived capital of the Armenian Kingdom of king Tigranes I. is completely unfounded. Tigranocerta has been securely located at the site of Arzan on the Garzan River in Arzanene, east of Sophanene and Martyropolis, see Sinclair (1994/95); Sinclair (1996/97).  The Armenian Life of Marutha of Maipherkat, transl. Marcus (1932, 63 – 64).


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between Kurdish separatists and Turkish military forces took place in the town. The long history of political turmoil explains the almost complete lack of archaeological research in Martyropolis, which in the view of the still impressive monuments of the Byzantine time and later periods is otherwise surprising. To gather information about the monuments of Martyropolis, it is therefore necessary to resort to travel reports of the nineteenth and early twentieth century.¹¹ The most notable remains of the late antique city are the city walls, which are still partly preserved.¹² The course of the walls can be easily traced on satellite images and allows a precise reconstruction of the extent of the walled city. It is possible to ascertain that the fortifications had an almost rectangular outline and enclosed an area of roughly 30 hectars. Inside the walls, an orthogonal street grid can be partly reconstructed. Apparently, a main street, which probably was colonnaded, ran from the east gate to the west gate. Apart from that it is difficult to assess the late antique cityscape. Today only scattered traces of ancient buildings are preserved, but when the first Western travellers visited Martyropolis before the First World War, the ruins of two monumental churches were still visible.¹³ Altogether, we may assume that Martyropolis was designed according to the same urbanistic patterns as later was Sergiupolis, with fortifications, water management systems, monumental public buildings, and churches. Moreover, like in the latter city, the creation of urban space had been an imperial project, but in this case evidently mediated by the local bishop. Another similarity is the role of the city as a centre of pilgrimage. Yet, in contrast to Resafa/Sergiupolis the religious significance was not rooted in local traditions, but artificially generated by the translation of the relicts of the Persian martyrs. It was, however, the prerequisite for the formation of the city and her raison d‘être.

4 Dara/Anastasiopolis The vast ruins of Dara are located between Mardin and Nusaybin at the southern foothills of the Tur Abdin Mountains in South Eastern Turkey. The site is not as well preserved as Sergiupolis, but the extant remains still convey a good impression of the layout of the city and its fortifications. Dara is one of the very few  For early descriptions of Martyropolis/Maipherkat and its ruins, see Lehmann-Haupt (1910, 381– 429); Bell (1913); Gabriel (1940).  For descriptions of the fortifications, see Gabriel (1940); Whitby (1984).  Keser-Kayaalp and Wheatley-Irving (2017) provide an analysis of the buildings the based on legacy data, most notably the archive of Gertrude Bell.

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examples of a major city that was built at a previously insignificant spot in the sixth century CE. The foundation act differs from what we have seen so far. Religious considerations did not play a role. The decision to build the city and the choice of the place were a response to the reignited Roman-Persian conflict in the first years of the sixth century CE after more than one century of largely peaceful relations between the two empires (Dignas and Winter 2007). In previous wars, Nisibis, located at the northern fringe of the Mesopotamian plain at the headwaters of the Khabur River had been the main Roman bulwark in the region.¹⁴ After the Roman defeat of 363 CE, however, the Romans had to cede Nisibis to the Persians (Greatrex and Lieu 2002, 1– 13). The ramifications of this loss must not be underestimated. Nisibis was at that time among the most important cities of the Eastern Empire. The almost complete lack of ancient traces in the modern city and the limited attention that archaeologists paid to the site tend to conceal this fact. The literary sources, however, clearly reveal the role of the city as a military, religious, and cultural centre that was matched only by Edessa. The economic importance of Nisibis resonates in the Sasanian-Roman peace treaties, too. The treaty of 297 CE stipulated that Nisibis was the only place along the border where the exchange of goods between the Persian and the Byzantine Empire was legal (Dignas and Winter 2007). Later agreements added further cities, but Nisibis remained the main hub of international exchange in Mesopotamia. The volume of trade must have been immense and a source of great wealth. This is confirmed by the results of recent excavations that have revealed parts of a massive basilica dating to the second and third decades of the fourth century CE.¹⁵ With five aisles and a reconstructed length of 90 m the basilica of Nisibis was one of the largest churches of the time. With this city in their possession, the Persians held the key to Byzantine Mesopotamia. When they attacked in 502 CE, the Romans had difficulties to defend their territories east of the Euphrates. After this experience, a main concern was to balance the loss of Nisibis and to release the Persian pressure on the cities of Amida and Edessa. To achieve this aim, in 507 CE the decision was taken to build a new city, Anastasiopolis, at the site of the village of Dara a close distance

 The site is located at the Turkish-Syrian border. Today, the modern Turkish city of Nusaybin and the Syrian city of Qamishli obscure the ancient settlement. For the history of Nisibis and a description of the physical setting, see Palermo (2017, 71– 79) and, largely identical, Palermo (2014).  Keser-Kayaalp and Erdoğan (2013). A large baptistery that was added in 359, not long before the Persian takeover. Parts of it are still standing today.


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to Nisibis.¹⁶ The local agent in the construction of the city was not the military commanders of Mesopotamia but the bishop of Amida, Thomas. The emperor entrusted him with the execution of all works and within only three years, the building of the city was completed. A detailed report of the construction work and the agents involved is given in the chronic of Pseudo-Zachariah Rhetor.¹⁷ He concludes his account with the following remark that gives a short glimpse of the cityscape: When Kavadh [the Persian Great king] heard and tried to destroy [the city], he could not because a wall had been raised and built which was a defence for those taking refugee behind it. A large public bath and a spacious storehouse were built, and an aqueduct that came to the outskirts of the mountain, and wonderful cisterns in the city that received the water. (Pseudo Zachariah, Chron. 7, 6.)

The extant monuments of Dara/Anastasiopolis largely confirm the pieces of information given in the chronic and in other sources. Most spectacular in this respect was the recent discovery of a building complex with a mosaic inscription that confirms many details of Pseudo-Zachariah‘s report.¹⁸ In general, however, the amount of precise archaeological information about the site is limited. As in the case of Martyropolis, the location of Dara in a politically sensitive region has restricted research opportunities. Only recently, in 2009, Turkish archaeologists have started large-scale excavations in different areas of the city and its peripheries, but so far, only few of the very rich results have been published.¹⁹ Consequently, assumptions about the cityscape and the urban fabric must rely on reports of early travellers and a small number of studies that are based on the observation of visible remains.²⁰ What we can see is a heavily fortified vast city area, considerably larger than Sergiupolis and Martyropolis. The line of the fortification wall is easy to follow, sections of the ramparts and some towers are still well preserved. Only recently, however, have excavations and surveys in the area between the walls and the  Multiple accounts of the city building have survived, see for example Ps.-Zach. HE, 7, 6; Ps.Josh. Styl. 90; Procop. Aed. II.1.4–II.3.28; Procop. Pers. I.10.13 – 18; II.13.16 – 19. See Greatrex and Lieu (2002, 74– 77) for a collection of translated sources.  For this text and an introduction see Greatrex (2011); Rist (2004).  Keser-Kayaalp, Erdoğan and Palmer (2017, 165 – 168). Among others, the inscription mentioned bishop Thomas of Amida.  The best account of the new excavation results is Can and Erdoğan (2016) and KeserKayaalp, Erdoğan and Palmer (2017). The results of previous excavations in the 1980s and 1990s have never been fully disclosed, see Ahunbay (1990); Ahunbay (1991); Brands (2004).  Croke and Crow (1983); Nicholson 1985; Whitby (1986); Zanini (1990); Furlan (1995); Garbrecht (2004).

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proteichisma shown that this area was occupied, too (Keser-Kayaalp, Erdoğan, and Palmer 2017, 161– 165). The existence of a sizable suburban area means that assumptions about the size of the settlement and the number of inhabitants cannot be based on the extent of the walled area. It seems likely that the population size was considerably larger that has previously been assumed. Apart from the walls, the main urban features visible today are water installations. Most notable are two enormous underground cisterns that are fed by aqueducts. Likewise, remarkable is the integration of a seasonal river in the city. Massive water gates allow the water to pass through the city walls; within the city, various bridges span over the riverbed. Moreover, the recent excavations have cleared a large section of a colonnaded street with shops (Can and Erdoğan 2016, 351). The street runs from one of the city gates to the administrative and sacred centre of the city, the praetoria and the ruins of the main church, which was built on top of a massive underground cistern. Notable is also the presence of a monumental arch in this area (Brands 2004). The cityscape of Dara featured a set of public buildings, as churches, water installations, fortifications, and colonnaded streets, that resembles what we see in Sergiupolis and in Martyropolis, but in each case they were adapted to the local topography. We must assume that structure and stratification of all three cities were relatively similar and that they functioned in analogous ways. Even though the state of research for each site is very different and impedes comparisons at a more sophisticated level, it may be concluded that a similar urban ideal resonates in the cityscape of Dara/Anastasiopolis, Martyropolis, and Resafa/Sergiupolis.²¹

5 The idea of a city in the early Byzantine period Previous studies have elaborated on the fact that new cities of the early Byzantine period share common characteristics and differ from the cities of the previous periods.²² In a programmatic article, Zanini identified four features that in his view describe the cities of the period: they were small, fortified, Christian, and imperial (Zanini 2003, 214). A closer look at individual urban sites of this period quickly reveals that this template is too rigid. There was a large variety of urban settlements based on local needs, resources, and traditions. While

 Further examples of new foundations of the same period like Zenobia at the Euphrates, which are not discussed here, display similar cityscapes, see Zanini (2003).  Brogilio and Ward-Perkins (1999); Krause and Witschel (2006); Dey (2015).


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many of the new cities were certainly much smaller than the large cities of the Imperial period, it is notoriously difficult to estimate the actual population size without extensive archaeological research. Misleading is the focus on the space that was enclosed by walls. Dara/Anastasiopolis and Sergiupolis are good examples in this regard. The territory protected by the massive fortifications is limited, but recent research has proven that the habitations stretched far beyond these walls (Keser-Kayaalp, Erdoğan, and Palmer 2017, 161– 165). Monumental fortifications were of great importance, indeed. The character of the cities as protectors of the imperial border and order resonates in the massive walls that became an integral part of the urban landscape. They are imbued with symbolic meaning and highlight the reinforced character of the city as a protected area with a military garrison in a potentially hostile environment. What the walls do not do, however, is to demarcate the inhabited space. Furthermore, it is also worth mentioning that not all new Byzantine cities were heavily fortified. While strong circuit walls and towers were crucial for cities in contested areas of the empire, a place like Mokissos in Cappadocia that Justinian promoted to a city did not have walls that protected the residential areas of the settlement.²³ Within cities, church buildings became focal points of the urban network and in doing so replaced and recalibrated the previous pagan landscape of power and religion. They created a sacred topography that dominated and determined urban flows. This is most evident in Resafa/Sergiupolis, where church buildings clearly form the central hubs of the urban network and dominate the urban infrastructure (Schuhmann 2016; Schuhmann 2018). We may assume that the same applied to Martyropolis, where the construction of the church for the relics of the martyrs was the keystone of the city building programme, and to Dara/Anastasiopolis. Another central urban feature was colonnaded streets with shops and workshops. The monumental streets connected the gates with the religious and administrative centres and at the same time formed the economic centre of the settlement. They replaced the agora as the main locus of urban life and local civic identity, a process that had commenced already in the Imperial period.²⁴ It is remarkable that still in the sixth century CE new monumental colonnaded streets were constructed. This underlines their extraordinary importance as ceremonial and economic spaces. They were a fundamental part of late antique urbanity.

 For Mokissos, see Berger (1998). There was a fortified citadel, but the settlement itself was only protected by the peculiar topography of the site.  On the development of the colonnaded streets in the Near East, see Ross (2017). Also, see Dey (2015), who discusses the role of colonnaded streets in late antiquity.

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The building of new colonnaded streets also puts into perspective the idea of encroachment that frequently looms large in the discussion of public spaces in late antiquity.²⁵ The act that in Dara/Anastasiupolis as well as in Resafa/Sergiupolis, monumentalized public space administered by the local or imperial authorities was considered essential implies that colonnaded streets must still have been fulfilling their purpose as communal spaces for economic activities and as stages for political as well as religious activities in contemporary cities. Another main feature of urban planning was public water supply. Hydraulic installations of large scale were built to collect water from the surrounding areas and, particularly relevant in dry areas, to store water inside the city for periods of drought or siege. At Dara and Resafa, massive underground cisterns attest to the immense efforts to manage the water supply. Moreover, public baths continued to be landmarks of urbanity.²⁶ In general, the construction and even more so the maintenance of the monumental urban infrastructure required a high degree of organisation and presupposed the existence of institutions, which were able to exert control. Unfortunately, it is difficult to populate these buildings with people and activities, because the focus of research not only at the sites under scrutiny but also in most other late antique cities of the Near East has been mainly on architecture. Moreover, knowledge of city life beyond monumental, mostly public buildings is in general rudimentary. More research in the living quarter of non-elites is required to understand how the majority of the citizens lived in their cities and how they made use of the urban landscape. Even at Sergiupolis little evidence of residential quarters of the sixth century exists.²⁷ The relative homogeneity of the urban layout of the new cities at the eastern frontier is to a large part the result of the engagement of the imperial court in their formation. In all three cases discussed here, city building relied almost exclusively on imperial funding. Moreover, the literary sources state explicitly that architects and craftspeople were sent from the imperial centres to take part in the building activities. The cities reflected an urban ideal that was conceived at the imperial court in the fifth and sixth century CE. This ideal can also be traced in new foundations in other border regions of the Byzantine Empire, but it rarely manifests itself as clearly as at the Eastern frontier (Zanini 2003; Dey 2015). Despite the strong impact of the imperial court on the physical appearance, the cities must not per se be labelled Imperial. In Martyropolis and in Dara/Ser See Jacobs (2009) for a balanced discussion of the evidence for encroachment.  On baths and bathing in late antiquity, see DeForrest (2019, 189 – 206) with further literature.  There have been exceptions of course, most notably a project on the urban structure of the city directed by Stephan Westphalen (2000) in the 1990s.


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giupolis, the Imperial investment was a response to local and regional factors that facilitated and, most importantly, sustained the urbanisation process: religion and economy.

6 Sacralised economy and the formation of new cities in the Near East Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell developed the idea of sacralised economies to characterize the entanglement between economic activity and religious practice in the ancient Mediterranean world (Horden and Purcell 2000, 432– 449). Religious festivals and fairs encapsulate this interconnectedness best. The seasonal movement of large crowds to sanctuaries played a major role for trade and created nodal points for the local, regional, and international exchange of goods. They offered lucrative business opportunities for the local population and had a huge impact on the local economy during the festival season. The visitors had to pay for accommodation, food, and services and they made endowments and donations. Moreover, festivals created the opportunity for trade that was not a direct response to the demands of the religious activities and the people participating in them. The predictable gathering of large crowds made them attractive as market places for all sorts of goods. Yet, few attempts have been made to further conceptualise the intimate relation between religious travel, economy and the city (Kristensen 2017; Collar and Kristensen [forthcoming]). For the late antique East, a wide range of sources attests to the continued importance of this entanglement and its impact on both rural and urban economies.²⁸ Gregory of Tours, for example, mentions an annual fair at Edessa, which was attended by large crowds.He reports “…those who come from various regions for prayer and for traffic are given permission to sell and buy without any taxes being levied for a period of 30 days” (Gregory of Tours, Glory of the Martyrs, 32). The close connection between trade and religion is very explicit here. In general, we see an increased economic activity due to the presence of pilgrims and the attraction of festivals and fairs taking place during religious holidays for the inhabitants of the surrounding regions. This applies to Sergiupolis in particular. The appeal of the Sergius sanctuary is well attested. This quickly resulted in a rearrangement of local and regional networks (Fowden 1998, 101– 129; Schuh For an overview of fairs in late antique Near East, see De Ligt (1993, 70 – 75); Binggeli (2007, 2012). The focus of the latter author is on the Islamic period.

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mann 2018). Sergiupolis turned into a central hub and the impact of this shift must not be underestimated. Not only was the flow of people, but also of goods recalibrated. This process was closely intertwined with the urbanisation of the site. What is crucial here is the contingency of the development. The rapid rise of Sergiupolis to the main centre of north-western Syria was not the result of a centralised attempt to reinforce imperial power in a contested border area, but from the attraction of the cult of St Sergius and its appeal to the nomads of the Syrian steppe. With their support, the Byzantine emperors acknowledged the new economic and religious topography. The religious allure of the site nourished economic success that was necessary to sustain a city in a marginal region. A sustainable city, however, was the prerequisite for the maintenance of a large military garrison. This demonstrates the close entanglement between religious, economic and military aspects in the construction of urban spaces. After the Byzantine retreat from Syria, the central position that the city had taken in the regional and international economic network not only secured the survival of Resafa/Sergiupolis, but also ushered in a new floruit under Umayyad rule. The Byzantine state had heavily invested in the urbanisation of the city, but it was neither dependent on Byzantine subsidies nor just a disembedded garrison town. We may assume that similar mechanisms were at play at Martyropolis in the fifth century. The reputation of bishop Marutha and the deposition of the relics of the Persian Martyrs will have had a direct impact on regional networks and economic flows. This must have been quickly recognized or even anticipated by the imperial court and triggered the heavy investment in the urbanisation of Martyropolis. Finally, the long survival of the city and the continued prosperity in the Islamic period proves the city‘s role as an economic hub. Dara/Anastasiopolis developed in a profoundly different way. The foundation of the city, its quick growth, and its economic success were created very artificially. Sustaining a large city at close distance to a prominent urban centre like Nisibis required not only a heavy Imperial investment, but also a very specific geopolitical situation.²⁹ The latter guaranteed substantial economic power to the new city, because the Persian-Byzantine peace treatises conceded the rare privilege to exchange goods between the Byzantine and Persian empires not only to Nisibis, but also to Dara/Anastasiopolis.³⁰ This secured an eminent role in long distance trade. On the long run, however, the reliance on this clause and Byzantine security concerns at the Persian border proved to be detrimental.  Dara/Anastasiopolis can be considered disembedded, taking up a term coined for newly funded capitals. On this concept, see Joffee (1998).  The peace of 561 CE stipulates that the border can be crossed only at Nisibis and Dara; see Menander frg.6.1.314– 97, trans. Greatrex and Lieu (2002, 132).


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The Arab conquest of Mesopotamia rendered all Byzantine-Persian trade regulations irrelevant. Mesopotamia in its entirety stood under Arab rule and the military, economic, and political incentives to support Dara/Anastasiopolis were no longer valid. Within a short period, Dara/Anastasiopolis lost its importance and was largely abandoned. The neighbouring city of Nisibis, however, traditionally the main religious centre of the region, well-integrated with the hinterland, prevailed and never ceased to play a role as a regional centre.

7 Conclusion The foundation of new cities at the eastern fringes of the Byzantine Empire in the fifth and sixth century CE did not follow a uniform rationale. In the case of Anastasiopolis/Dara, the emergence of the city was a response to very specific military and economic needs. The loss of the eminent city of Nisibis to the Sasanians needed to be balanced to protect the military and economic position of the Byzantine Empire in Northern Mesopotamia. In Martyropolis and Sergiupolis however, we see a complex interplay of local, regional, and imperial agents involved in the creation of urban space. Yet, it appears that the religious significance and the ensuing economic importance of both places were the driving forces in the urbanization process. At Sergiupolis, the relicts of a local martyr gained unforeseeable fame and fostered the rise of a previously inconspicuous place to a regional centre of high religious prestige, pilgrimage and, consequently, economic importance. The subsequent imperial investment acknowledged the position of the place and cast it in a physical form that mirrored the urban ideal of the time. Moreover, the imperial endorsement of the site and the cult of St Sergius tied the new city closely to the empire. Yet, the decision to monumentalize the place was not part of an overarching imperial strategy to strengthen the Eastern frontier, but the result of a contingent process that was driven by regional trajectories. In the case of Martyropolis, the translation of a large number of relicts increased the sacredness of the place. This was the result of the agency of one individual, bishop Marutha, who at that time was an important figure at the Byzantine court. The motifs that made him choose the site of Martyropolis remain unknown, but there is no indication of imperial involvement in the decision-making process. The heavy involvement in the construction and fortification of the city should therefore be considered a response to local developments, too. Despite the different factors that fostered urbanisation, the study of the archaeological remains and the written sources show that the three cities adhered to similar urbanistic models. The urban topography on the one hand emphasizes military power and puts emphasis on the role of the cities as protectors of the

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land. On the other hand, the cityscape displays a pronounced desire for monumentality: Colonnaded streets, plazas, arches, public bath buildings, churches, and long-distance aqueducts continue the tradition of Classical cities in the Mediterranean world. The resemblance is no coincidence, because in all three cases urbanization and monumentalisation of the cityscape depended almost exclusively on imperial funding and support. The cities mirror an urban ideal that had been developed at the imperial court. Yet, the agents who negotiated and oversaw the construction of these cities were primarily clergymen. They overtook duties, which previously had been in the hands of the local councils. The sustainability of these new cities that were located in contested frontier zones with limited natural resources depended to a large degree on the embeddedness with the hinterland and the establishment of far-reaching trade networks. A very efficient way of securing the integration of a place in the wider economic network was religious capital. In fact, religious significance appears to have been the premise for the creation of sustainable urban sites. The network of new cities along the border is therefore not only a response to defensive needs than the result of the emergence of new religious and economic networks, which had developed under Christian auspices. This was not a new phenomenon. Forerunners were the urban centres of the Syrian and Mesopotamian steppe in the late Hellenistic and early Roman period. Palmyra, Hatra, and Emesa developed along similar lines. Their emergence as cities was symbiotic with their rise to religious and economic centres. In general, the interdependence of sacred travel and mercantile activity seems to be one key to an understanding of the formation of sustainable large cities in the marginal areas of Syria and Mesopotamia in both antiquity and late antiquity.

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Dirk Steuernagel

Roman baths as locations of religious practice Abstract: From a present-day perspective, Roman baths may appear as pure leisure-time environments, dedicated mainly to the cult of the body and only secondarily to activities of other types. In the Eastern part of the empire, however, strong links between thermae and the gymnasion-tradition existed. Thus, we can trace a veneration of the ‘resident gods’ of the palaestra and of divine rulers even within bath-complexes. In these cases, we can suppose also a specific connection with agonistic festivals, and inasmuch as festivals of such a kind were present also in some Western cities, athletes-guilds seem to have transferred similar cult practices. Another field in which bathing-establishments are closely connected to the religious sphere is the cult of sacred springs and waters, especially where the ancients attributed a healing power to the water. This issue of Roman ‘thermalism’, neglected for a long time, has become subject of a whole range of recent studies. My special interest, however, is directed towards evidence that cannot easily be filed into the aforementioned categories: inscriptions dedicating bath-buildings to the gods or to the welfare of the emperor as well as more ‘workaday’-phenomena like votive-altars and statues put up in the thermae (particularly within service areas) or mithraea established in the underground-corridors of the Baths of Caracalla at Rome and the Terme del Mitra at Ostia. A closer examination may shed new light also onto the discomfort that some Jewish and Christian authors felt with regard to the bathing culture of their times.

1 Introduction The increasing social importance of bathing and bath buildings during the Roman Imperial period has often been noticed and commented upon in archaeological and historical studies. For my purposes, it may suffice to quote Paul Zanker’s article on “changes of public space in Italic cities of the Imperial period”. Zanker describes thermal settings as a “new kind of public sphere” (Zanker 1994, 270 – 273). Ensuing from Janet DeLaine’s (1992; 1999) and others’ studies on the development of baths and bathing in the Roman world, he states a more and more complex and sumptuous configuration of thermal buildings. Beginning with the Imperial period, these often included secondary, i. e. non-bathing units, dedicated to other kinds of leisure-time activities, among them (at least OpenAccess. © 2020 Laetzer/Urciuoli, published by De Gruyter. the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110641813-011

This work is licensed under


Dirk Steuernagel

in the case of the city of Rome and its great Imperial baths) some elements of highbrow culture such as libraries or lecture halls. Following Zanker, the growing relevance of the thermae as locations of an originally casual and alternative type of social intercourse revealed itself through the interference with more official aspects of public life, testified by the presence of emperors, senators or local dignitaries, be it in person or as honorary statues (Zajac 1999, 103 – 104; Fagan 2002, 189 – 196; Thébert 2003, 444. 446 – 447. 479). Interestingly enough, Zanker at this point does not touch upon religious aspects, even if Hubert Manderscheid’s (1981) most comprehensive study of the sculptural decoration of Roman thermal buildings shows clearly that statues representing deities and other mythical personae outnumber by far the portrait statues of emperors and elite-members. Should we consider those, within the given context, as purely decorative monuments, estimated for their aesthetic (and sometimes erotic) attraction, but lacking religious functions? At least, some inscriptions like those mentioning the setting up of statues at (sic!) exornationem balinei seem to justify such an approach¹. Manderscheid, however, gives a rather prudent comment on this matter: according to his opinion, the thermae certainly did not function as art museums, hosting collections of opera nobilia. Instead, the sculptural endowment would have expressed cultural values of the Roman society, in correspondence with general expectations of donors and visitors (Manderscheid 1981, 36 – 37. 46). More precisely perhaps, Katherine Dunbabin has interpreted artistic representations of gods and heroes within thermal establishments as expressions of the Roman attitude to bathing as a culturally distinctive practice. Since bathing was an important element of civilised life, the highly allusive and sometimes even poetically conceptualised images would have helped to illustrate the intrinsic qualities of baths, thus evocating a “world of beauty and luxury which lay at the heart of the bath-aesthetic” (Dunbabin 1989, 24).

2 The gymnasion-tradition Against this overall background, Manderscheid and others have treated some phenomena as cases apart. This applies, for example, to the great bath-gymnasia  BCTH 1901, 311 no. 8; CIL VIII 2340; ILS 9259 b, all coming from a bathing annex of a private house at Thamugadi (Numidia, modern Timgad, Algeria); note that the latter two inscriptions give the name of the divinity (Aesculapiu[m], Hygiam) in the accusative case. See also Thébert 2003, 244– 245. 519 no. 184– 186; Riethmüller 2005: 2, 416 no. 532; Benseddik 2010: 2, 162– 163 nos. 1– 3.

Roman baths as locations of religious practice


of Western Asia Minor, in particular those of Ephesos. Their Kaisersäle, lavishly decorated halls with rich ensembles of sculpture, would have been used as stages for the Imperial cult (Manderscheid 1981, 46). Actually, there has been much debate, also in recent years, on the functions of Kaisersäle, so it might be useful to have a closer look at the evidence. The term Kaisersaal was first applied in 1929 to a large exedra which makes part of the bath-building proper, but opens onto the palaestra of the grand gymnasium built by P. Vedius Antoninus (commonly designated as Vedius III) and his wife Flavia Papiane at Ephesos (fig. 1) (cf. Steskal 2001, 181– 184). The room’s interior is embellished with a columnar façade-architecture that is articulated in two storeys of recessing niches and projecting aediculae (fig. 2). According to the then head of the Austrian excavation-team, Josef Keil, the central niche, which spans over both storeys, most probably would have hosted the over-lifesized statue of an Roman emperor, presumably Antoninus Pius, whom the building was dedicated to (and with him to the Roman senate, Artemis Ephesia and the city of Ephesos). In front of the niche, an altar remained in situ, thus suggesting the practice of religious rituals in connection with the colossal image (Keil 1929, 34– 45). A parallel situation was found in the Eastern gymnasium at Ephesos, and thus seemed to underpin the interpretation of the hall as a space designated for Imperial cult. Again, a hall with an architecturally similar inner layout is placed between palaestra and thermal suite. Here a bearded male head was found, belonging to a statue that was placed within the central niche of that hall, which Keil believed to be an image of Septimius Severus (fig. 3). In addition, the statue of a man with a very particular headgear – a crown carrying thirteen busts (all heads unfortunately lost) – once stood in one of the northern niches of the hall (fig. 4a – b). The excavators identified the man as Flavius Damianus, a well-known priest of the Imperial cult at Ephesos during the Antonine and early Severan age, and the bust-crown as an insignia of that priestly function. Accordingly, in this case a function of the hall within the context of Imperial cult seemed firmly attested (Keil 1931, 32. 40 – 41. 43 – 44; cf. Alzinger 1970, 1614. 1616). In the meantime, these former assumptions have been harshly criticised in detail and in general. To start with, the bearded head from the Eastern gymnasium is not considered a portrait of Septimius Severus any more, but probably represents a Vatergottheit, possibly Asklepios (Manderscheid 1981, 36. 93 no. 206; Aurenhammer 1990, 137– 138 no. 115). Furthermore, the other aforementioned statue is no longer identified as T. Flavius Damianus; it rather appears to be a portrait of Vedius III (Auinger 2011, 121). Still more relevant is the new interpretation of the bust-crown, proposed by Jutta Rumscheid in her fundamental study on wreaths and crowns; thus, this insignia does not necessarily and exclu-


Dirk Steuernagel

Fig. 1: Ephesos, Gymnasion of Vedius: ground plan (MS: ‘Marmorsaal’ resp. ‘Kaisersaal’). Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften (ÖAW)/Österreichisches Archäologisches Institut (ÖAI) (M. Steskal – M. La Torre)

sively refers to a function as Imperial priest, but rather to an editor of agonistic festivals (Rumscheid 2000, 34– 36. 143 – 144 no. 19). With regard to the Kaisersaal of the gymnasium of Vedius, renewed archaeological investigation in the early 2000’s detected fragments of a gigantic statue of Herakles that might have occupied the central niche (fig. 5a – b), but unquestionable evidence for an Imperial portrait is still missing². Closer inspection of the altar in front of the central niche revealed its unimposing patchwork character. Actually, it is pieced together from apparently reused and reworked marble blocks (fig. 6). It may not even belong to the original state of the hall (Steskal and La Torre 2008: 1, 295 – 296). Partly based on these insights, Barbara Burrell has concluded that “as yet there is absolutely no evidence that the emperor was honoured as a god there. The term ‘Kaisersaal’

 Auinger 2011, 122– 125, but see ibidem fig. 8.7: as Hans Rupprecht Goette has rightly pointed out to me (oral communication), a fragment of a foot wearing a mulleus does not fit the normal iconography of Herakles, but could have belonged to the representation of an emperor (in the guise of Herakles?); cf. Goette 1988, esp. p. 422– 423.

Roman baths as locations of religious practice


Fig. 2: Ephesos, Gymnasion of Vedius: reconstruction of inner architecture of ‘Kaisersaal’. Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften (ÖAW)/Österreichisches Archäologisches Institut (ÖAI) (M. Steskal – M. La Torre)

is both misleading and anachronistic, and should no longer be used” (Burell 2006, 459; cf. Price 1984, 144 n. 34; Rumscheid 2000, 444– 45). In my opinion, there is just as little need to throw the baby out with the bath water. Even if one cannot ascertain beyond doubt a veneration of the emperor within the Kaisersäle, the latter nevertheless might well have been settings for a religious practice, involving, among others, the traditional gods of the palaestra. Fikret Yegül, against whose line of interpretation Burrell is arguing, has rightly exposed many aspects by which the Roman bath-gymnasia seem connected to the institution of the Hellenistic gymnasium. Thus, as a close parallel to the Kaisersäle, Yegül recalls the central hall (so-called room H) on the Northern side of the Upper Gymnasium’s peristyle at Pergamon where statues of Attalid rulers were set up together with those of deities such as Herakles³. Moreover, the bust-

 Yegül 1982, 12– 15; cf. Schazmann 1923, 58 – 60; sculptures from room H: Mathys, Stappmanns and von den Hoff 2011, 273 – 274; von den Hoff 2015, 129 – 130 (with references).


Dirk Steuernagel

Fig. 3: Selçuk, Efes Müzesi 2236: Head of statue from the Eastern Gymnasion at Ephesos. ÖAW/ ÖAI (M. Aurenhammer)

crown of Damianus/Vedius III points, as we have seen, to agonistic festivals with their all-to-well known religious background. One even can imagine that victors of single contests (which might have took place within the bath-gymnasium proper) would have placed their prizes on altars like the one in the gymnasium of Vedius (Burrell 2006, 444– 446; Auinger 2011, 127)⁴. The specific Eastern-Hellenistic tradition, which transferred certain religious practices as a kind of legacy into the bath-gymnasia of Imperial times, had an impact also on the West, inasmuch Greek athletics and agonistic festivals had

 A case apart, not pertinent to the question of the Kaisersäle and the gymnasion tradition, and thus omitted here, is the Temple of Hadrian within the Varius-Baths at Ephesos. On the one hand, it forms an integral component of the whole architectural complex, on the other hand it has no direct connection to the inner rooms of the bath, but is oriented toward the so-called Curetes Street, a main street and processional route of Ephesos, see Quatember 2017: 1, esp. 125 – 135.

Roman baths as locations of religious practice


Fig. 4a – b: İzmir, Arkeoloji Müzesi 648: Statue of a priest with bust crown from the Eastern Gymnasion at Ephesos. Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Istanbul, D-DAI-IST-R28220/22 (D. Johannes)

been introduced to Rome and Italy since the 2nd century BC. For the 2nd to 4th century AD, the presence of athletes’ guilds within the thermae of the urbs is attested epigraphically⁵ as well as through musive representations. Among the famous mosaics coming from the palaestrae of the baths of Caracalla is at least one depiction of a man wearing a bust-crown, thus he might be considered a guild principal who fulfilled also priestly functions as archiereus (Werner 1998, 217– 251, esp. 226. 239). Comparable is a set of mosaics of the mid-4th-century AD from the Grandi Terme at Aquileia, with images of athletes and of a bearded man with a bust-crown (fig. 7), furthermore a representation of a prize-crown, related

 For the epigraphic evidence see IGUR 235 – 263; Caldelli 1992; Newby 2005, 34– 36. – The hiera xystike synodos, the athletes’ guild of the city of Rome, had its seat, including archive and sanctuary (temenos), within the complex of the thermae Traiani. The chairmen (archiereis and xystarchoi) at the same time were, by Imperial appointment, “overseers of the baths” (a balnearibus, epi balaneiōn Sebastou).


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Fig. 5a – b: Selçuk, Efes Müzesi: Fragments of colossal statue from Gymnasium of Vedius at Ephesos. ÖAW/ÖAI, A-W-OAI-ESK-01467/68 (N. Gail)

by a Greek inscription to a contest named Olympeia ⁶ (fig. 8). More representations of athletes and athletic contests are known from thermal buildings at Ostia. Most interesting is a mosaic floor from the Terme di Porta Marina (ancient name: thermae maritimae), of late Traianic or Hadrianic date, depicting different types of athletes (Newby 2002, 189 – 192). These are grouped around a table, on which a radiate corona gemmata and a palm-branch are lying, obviously representing the prizes for victors of athletic contests. Standing beside the table, a bearded herm is represented; a garland twines around the head and another palm-branch is fixed to its shaft (fig. 9). Most probably, it is an image of Herakles, which functioned also as divine patron of the athletes’ guild at Rome⁷. Another  Lopreato 1994, 92; Alföldi-Rosenbaum 1994; Newby 2002, 187– 188; Newby 2005, 65 – 67; for chronology of the Grandi Terme see Rubinich 2012– 2013, 112– 115.  Cf. above n. 3 and esp. Newby 2005, 35; the official name of the Roman guild was ἡ ἱερὰ ξυστικὴ σύνοδος τῶν περὶ τὸν Ἡρακλέα ἀθλητῶν (IGUR 235 – 237. 243 – 244).

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Fig. 6: Ephesos, Gymnasium of Vedius: altar within the ‘Kaisersaal’. ÖAW/ÖAI (N. Gail)

kind of evidence for the religious aspects of athletes’ guilds is possibly extant near the Terme del Foro at Ostia. Within the area immediately south of the thermal building, which is supposed to have served as the appropriate sports ground, an aedicula and a small temple building were constructed during the 2nd century AD (fig. 10: A – B; fig. 11). Both are more or less unpublished up to date. A building complex seaming the southern border of the area might have been a guild’s seat⁸. It remains to add that Christians in late antiquity seem to have still felt the religious aspects of athletics within the context of Roman baths. As but one example, Sidonius Apollinaris may be cited, who in a description of his private bath explicitly states that there are no indecent decorations, amongst others no pictorial representations of wrestlers (palaestritae)⁹.

 Ostia I, xii, 8 – 9: shaded in fig. 10: Bollmann 1998, 288 – 291 A 31; cf. Steuernagel 2004, 84– 85 n. 395; 201– 202; Steuernagel 2005, 78 – 79.  Sid. Apoll., Epist. 2, 2, 6; cf. Dunbabin 1989, 9; de Haan 2010, 134.


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Fig. 7: Aquileia, Museo Archeologico Nazionale: mosaic panel from the ‘Salone Nord’ of the ‘Grandi Terme’ at Aquileia, representing a priest with bust crown. Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Rom, D-DAI-Rom_Neg. 82.156 (H. Schwanke)

Fig. 8: Aquileia, ‘Salone Nord’ of the ‘Grandi Terme’: mosaic panel representing a price crown with Greek inscription OLYMPEIA. Aquileia, Museo Nazionale Archeologico, archivio, 377 N

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Fig. 9: Ostia, ‘Terme di Porta Marina’: mosaic with representation of athletic contests (detail). K. Heese (reproduction authorised by photographer and Archivio Fotografico del Parco Archeologico di Ostia Antica)

Fig. 10: Ostia: plan of ‘Terme del Foro’ and surroundings. adapted from: Guido Calza, Scavi di Ostia, 1. Topografia generale (Roma: Libreria dello Stato, 1952), fogli 8 and 13


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Fig. 11: Ostia, palaestra of the ‘Terme del Foro’: small temple (B in fig. 10). D. Steuernagel (reproduction authorised by Archivio Fotografico del Parco Archeologico di Ostia Antica)

3 Not only healing gods: a survey of the North-African material Besides the Hellenistic tradition of athletics, other customary ties existed between the conduct and use of Roman baths on the one hand and the field of ancient religion on the other. Most relevant is the relation to sacred springs and to bodies of water to which healing powers were ascribed. Well known and most impressive for the extraordinarily close association of thermal spring, temple and bath basins is the complex at Bath (England) (Cunliffe and Davenport 1985; Cunliffe, Tomlin and Walker 1988). Many more constellations of similar type exist. Being a neglected area of research for a long time, the Roman ‘thermalism’ is object of a whole series of more recent studies¹⁰. These have demonstrated, however, that in more than one case a distinction is perceptible between the cultic site proper and the bathing facilities. Still more important for my topic is an observation made by Marie Guérin-Beauvois: “La dédicace à un dieu au sein d’un édifice thermal y compris curative, ne fait pas de ce bâtiment un lieu sacré ni de la divinité une divinité guérisseuse, et qui plus est, guérisseuse  e. g. Chevalier 1992; Dvorjetski 2007; Schäfer 2009; Bassani, Bressan and Ghedini 2013; Guérin-Beauvois 2015.

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au moyen des eaux” (2015, 366; cf. Scheid 1991, 205; Aupert 1991, 192). So how should we interpret the not small number of different votive inscriptions found within bath-buildings? Is it possible to draw a division line between water and healing cults and other religious phenomena? Can we distinguish “Kultanlagen in Bädern” from “Bäder in Kultanlagen” as proposed by Ulrike Egelhaaf-Gaiser (2000, 382– 388)? Quite revealing in this regard appears the rich evidence from Roman North-Africa, which is now easily accessible by way of the extensive compilations that Yvon Thébert (2003), Jürgen W. Riethmüller (2005) and Nacéra Benseddik (2010) have assembled. The sanctuary of Aesculapius at Lambaesis (Numidia, modern Tazoult, Algeria) offers a good example for the sometimes hardly perceptible connections between healing cults and bathing establishments. Admittedly, it is not an urban sanctuary in the proper sense, as it appears related principally to a military camp¹¹. It is located in the so-called Upper City, in the immediate forefield of the older camp that had been founded under Titus. Actually, this is an area dominated by public architecture, hosting no or only few domestic buildings. The temple of Aesculapius was constructed by the legio III Augusta on behalf of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus during their joint rulership (161– 169 AD) (CIL VIII 18089a – c; Horster 2001, 424 no. 1; Benseddik 2010: 2, 121 no. 2). Two smaller chapels, dedicated to Iuppiter Valens and Silvanus, are immediately linked to the temple of Aesculapius; together they form the Eastern limit of a wide street or esplanade. Some decades later, a propylon was erected at the Western end of the esplanade, and more small temples to a variety of divinities line up on its Northern border. On the Southern side, excavations during the early 20th century have uncovered a series of extensive building complexes. Even if publications are insufficient, the characteristic layout helps to identify some of those buildings with certainty as thermae¹² (fig. 12). Interestingly enough, these thermae were detached from the esplanade by means of walls and, at a later stage, by a monumental hypostyle building. Moreover, the orientation of the bath buildings differ from that of the esplanade. Thus, at a first glance and although passageways did exist, it appears questionable if we should consider the bathing facilities as an integral part of the sanctuary. On the other hand, an under life-size statue of Aesculapius stood in an aedicule that was part of a building

 Cagnat 1923; Janon 1985, 102; Christol – Janon 2002, 73 – 74; Janon and Gassend 2005, 33 – 40; Riethmüller 2005: 2, 415 – 416 no. 530; Benseddik 2008, 119 – 128; Groslambert 2010, 83 – 89.  Cagnat 1923, 85 – 86; Janon 1977, 706 – 707; Janon and Gassend 2005, 38 – 39; Groslambert 2010, 88.


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with several piscinae. More imagines sacrae might have existed¹³. Furthermore, a rather early inscription, dating back to the time before the main temple was built, mentions the dedication of a piscina to Aesculapius and Hygia (AE 1915, 26; Benseddik 2010: 2, 120 no. 1: 144– 146 AD). As a result, an inclusion of thermae into certain practices of the healing cult gains probability¹⁴.

Fig. 12: Lambaesis/Tazoult: aerial view of sanctuary of Aesculapius and surroundings. Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Rom, RAK-00743 (Nachlass F. Rakob)

There are more bath-buildings in the neighbourhood of sanctuaries, where a relationship obviously did exist though in these cases not amidst immediate (spatial and functional) incorporation. Instructive is the situation of the Thermes du Sud at Thamugadi (Numidia, modern Timgad in Algeria). These are located immediately off the city walls. About 250 m further south lies one of the largest sanctuaries of the Western Roman world, extending over an area of about 7000 m2, today for the most part covered by a Byzantine fortress (Leschi 1947; Le Glay 1991; Benseddik 2010: 2, 155 – 156). The focus of the cult was a holy spring, called Aqua Septimiana Felix, with its water being collected in a basin

 BCTH 1915, 112; 1917, 271; Cagnat 1923, 85; Benseddik 2010: 2, 118 no. 6; the statue of Aesculapius is missing since long. – For the imagines sacrae see also Groslambert, 2010, 33 n. 5, referring to CIL VIII 2586.  Cf. Janon 1985, 96 : “… l’ampleur des annexes thermales démontre assez l’importance de l’hydrothérapie dans le sanctuaire.”

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that is still extant today. On the Southern side of the basin, three temples (or cellae) stood upon a common podium; the one in the centre was dedicated to Dea Africa, the others to Serapis and Aesculapius respectively. The water of the spring, however, supplied also the South thermae. Besides, an inscription from 213 AD mentions a street leading to the thermae within the context of renovation and extension of the sanctuary (AE 1948, 111). Images of Dea Africa and Aesculapius were found in the frigidarium (fig. 13: H), the latter represented by a statue (Benseddik 2010: 2, 157 no. 2), the former in a relief on a limestone vase, as part of a scene of sacrifice (fig. 14). On the left, a victimarius leads a bull to an altar. To the right of the altar, one recognises a fragmented anthropomorphic figure, which can be interpreted as Dea Africa by means of her attributes: vexillum, cornucopiae and the accompanying animal, presumably representing a lion (Le Glay 1964; Domes 2007, 186 Re 7; Hamdoune 2008, 159 – 160). Despite the manifold interrelations, the distance between sanctuary and thermae suggests not considering the one as a part of the other. Moreover, there is a wider spectrum of sculptures on display in the bath building, and this does not speak in favour of an exclusive connection with the divinities of the sanctuary. To start with, the aforementioned stone vase, placed in the centre of the frigidarium, not only bears an image of Dea Africa, but also images of Hercules, Venus and Amor and Psyche; these figures seem not related to the sanctuary, but they are generally frequent within the context of bath buildings. Furthermore, within the scene of sacrifice described above appears a symbol pointing to an (for us) anonymous association, the presence of which is documented also elsewhere in the Thermes du Sud as well as in other places (zu Löwenstein 2011, 230 – 231). In the frigidarium (fig. 13: H) were set up other statues, too. Still in situ, resp. in the Northwest and in the Southwest corner were, at the time of the excavation, two bases for statues of Fortuna Augusta and Victoria Augusta, the latter being dedicated ob honorem IIvir(atus). Situated in a niche that was created in a subsequent building phase, in the middle between the two former bases, was a base for a statue of the Genius Thamugadensis. No exact location is identifiable for the already cited Aesculapius, a male nude (maybe Mercurius) and a small female draped statue (Hygia?)¹⁵. Yet, there is a remarkable preference for dedications and deities in connection to imperial, provincial and local authorities. Correspondingly, in the 260s AD statues of Valerianus, Gallienus and their relatives were erected in the great anteroom of the frigidarium

 BCTH 1893, 161– 162 nos. 41– 43; Boeswillwald, Cagnat and Ballu 1905, 235 – 242; Thébert 2003, 517 nos. 172– 174; zu Löwenstein 2011, 229 – 230.


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Fig. 13: Thamugadi/Timgad: ground plan of ‘Thermes du Sud’. reproduced from Émile Boeswillwald, René Cagnat and Albert Ballu, Timgad. Une cite africaine sous l’Empire romain (Paris: Leroux, 1905): pl. 27

(fig. 13: B)¹⁶. At a still later date, statues for the Concordia populi et ordinis flanked the main entrance of the bath-building (fig. 13: R) (CIL VIII 2380 – 2383; Thébert 2003, 517– 518 nos. 176 – 180; zu Löwenstein 2011, 227– 229). The overall impression given by the endowment of the Thermes du Sud at Thamugadi points to a mixture of, on the one hand, quasi intrinsically related cult practices, which derive from the vicinity of the sacred spring, and, on the other hand, more diversified phenomena, which might have attached themselves to the original religious core. Still, we need to be prudent in order to prevent premature conclusions. As other examples demonstrate, the relation between ther-

 CIL VIII 2380 – 2383; Thébert 517– 518 nos. 176 – 180; zu Löwenstein 2011, 227– 229.

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Fig. 14: Thamudagi/Timgad: stone vase from frigidarium of ‘Thermes du Sud’. reproduced from Émile Boeswillwald, René Cagnat and Albert Ballu, Timgad. Une cite africaine sous l’Empire romain (Paris: Leroux, 1905): p. 238 fig. 106

mae and near-by sanctuaries could also be a conflicting one. This appears to be the case at Thuburbo Maius (Africa proconsularis, modern Henchir Kasbat, Tunisia), with regard to the Thermes de l’Été. Here, archaeology does not proof the existence of a sanctuary in the neighbourhood, but such is attested through an inscribed stele that was reused as a threshold in the bath building. The text runs as follows:


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Iussu Domini Aesculapi L(ucius) Numisius L(uci) f(ilius) Vitalis podium de suo fecit. Quisq(uis) intra podium adscendere volet, a muliere a suilla a faba a tonsore a balineo commune custodi at triduo cancellos calciatus intrare nolito ¹⁷.

Modern commentators have puzzled over the interdiction to use the baths prior to a visit to the sanctuary of Aesculapius. Most probably, the emphasis on balineum commune hints to mixed bathes of men and women and thus correlates bathing with the threat of sexual pollution, which is evident also in the admonition to abstain from intercourse with one’s wife (mulier) (Kleijwegt 1994, 215 – 216; cf. Vattioni 1978, 19). Nevertheless, the evidence discourage from interpreting spatial contiguity alone as a general clue for functional linkage. Thus, I agree with Ulrike Egelhaaf-Gaiser’s scepticism towards approaches proposed by John Scheid and Janet DeLaine, which tend to explain the distribution of thermae within the urban space from the necessity for visitors of sanctuaries to purify themselves ritually¹⁸. We now turn to thermal establishments that do not have any recognisable relation with sanctuaries. In these cases, our observations start from the localisation and contextualisation of single divine images within the buildings. Famous for their rich and manifold sculptural decoration are, for example, the ‘Thermae of Hadrian’ at Lepcis Magna (Africa proconsularis, modern Lebda, Libya) (Manderscheid 1981, 40 – 43. 104– 109 nos. 292– 341). Many of the statues found there represent the outcome of a process of embellishment and aggrandisement, which went on over several decades between the 2nd and 3rd century AD. Thus, we need not to take all-too literally the mentioning of a reconstruction a fundamentis in an inscription from the age of Septimius Severus¹⁹. Neverthe-

 AE 1916, 112; Benzina Ben Abdallah 1986, 122 – 123 no. 325; Riethmüller 2005: 2, 414 no. 520; Benseddik 2010: 2, 85 – 86 no. 1; text according to Clauss-Slaby, EDCS-10300552.  Egelhaaf-Gaiser 2000, 394– 395; cf. Scheid 1991, 213; DeLaine 2006, 338 – 340. For the practice of bathing on pagan holidays see Aug., Epist. 46, 15 (Si christianus debet in balneis, quibus in die festo suo Pagani loti sunt, lavare, sive cum ipsis, sive sine ipsis?).  Bartoccini 1929, 79; Reynolds 1952, no. 396; Manderscheid 1981, 104 no. 298; Benseddik 2010: 2, 60 – 61 no. 3; cf. Thomas and Witschel 1992, 162– 163. – Text according to Clauss – Slaby (EDCS-06000386): Imp(eratoris) Caes(aris) L(uci) Septimi S]eve[ri Pii Pertinacis Aug(usti) Arabici A]diaben[ici Par]thici maximi [pontificis max]imi [tribunici]ae potes[tati]s V[II?] imp[eratoris ? p(atris)] p(atriae) et I[mp(eratoris)] / [Caes(aris) M(arci) Aureli Antonini et I]uliae [Augu]stae [matris Augusti et cas]tror[um totiusque] divinae domus / [‐-‐] Rusonianus fl[am(en)] augur IIvir q(uin)q(uennalis) cellam f[rigi]darii et [‐– c]ry/[ptam(?) –‐] rui[na con]lasas [e]x pollicitatione m[un]eris gladiato[rii o]b honorem / [quinquennalita]tis p[romissa(?) –‐] permissu sacratiss[imi pr]incipis divi M(arci) Antonin[i f(ilii)] a fundamentis / [‐-‐] marmoribus et co[l]umnis exornavit stat[u]am Aesculapii novam / [‐– res]tituit ceter[as] refe[c]it ex [multi]s aliis [m]une[ribu]s rei p(ublicae) suae conlatis et / [‐-‐]uli nomine vi[‐-‐]iti[ // ]bus[

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less, it is reasonable that some damaged parts of the building, namely the frigidarium and the adjacent corridor (crypta), needed thorough repair at the time. In the course of these works, “a new statue of Aesculapius” (statuam Aesculapii novam) was set up. The wording of the inscription conveys an outstanding importance of this statue in relation to others, which were only restored (ceteras refecit). This might include a special religious significance of the “new” image²⁰. In any case, already the relatively high number of statues of Aesculapius found in the ‘Thermae of Hadrian’ (five, four of them within the frigidarium; fig. 15) stresses the particular relevance of the god for the overall context²¹. It is thus not surprising that one statue base, from the edge of the natatio, bears a votive inscription in the proper sense, which once again refers to a building measure²². Sculptural monuments combined with votive inscriptions are known also from other thermae of Roman North-Africa. Most frequent are dedications to Aesculapius. Obviously, the salutiferous qualities ascribed to bathing favoured the veneration of the god within the thermal complexes even if the latter neither formed part of a sanctuary nor were considered sanctuaries themselves. Reasons and aims of the dedications, however, not uncommonly fall outside the immediate realm of health and hygiene. By way of example, we may consider two oblong statue bases found in the Grand Thermes de l’Est of Mactaris (Africa proconsularis, modern Maktar, Tunisia), at the Northern exit of the central frigidarium. They belonged to statues of Apollo and Aesculapius respectively, which were dedicated pro salute victori(i)sque et incolumitate of Septimius Severus and his

 Considering the connection between the statue and the (re‐)building process, one could recall a passage from a Talmudic tractate, the Avodah Zarah (I Mishna 7), which permits Jews to participate in the construction of bath buildings while advising them to quit work when it comes to the niche where the idol would be placed, cf. Eliav 2010, 613. Based on cases like the one of the ’Hadranic thermae’ at Lepcis, we may assume that some thermae could be named after divinities, which enjoyed particular attention or even veneration within the baths. Examples are quite numerous and have already been collected by others, see e. g. Fagan 2002, 242 nos. 32– 33; 245 no. 43; Egelhaaf-Gaiser 2000, 383 with ns. 178 – 179 (thermae Herculis, thermae Silvani, balneum Veneris etc.).  Bartoccini 1929, 124– 129, nos. 1– 5; Manderscheid 1981, 43. 104 nos. 293 – 297; Riethmüller 2005: 2, 412 no. 509; Benseddik 2010: 2, 54– 57 nos. 1– 5; Finocchi 2012, 80 – 89 nos. 38 – 42. – Most promising candidate for the statua Aesculapii nova at Lepcis Magna is an over life-sized marble image of Severan date that probably was located on the main axis of the frigidarium, in the passageway leading to the tepidarium and in line with a bronze statue of the emperor Septimius Severus (here figure 15); see Finocchi 2012, 87– 89 no. 42 (with references); 146.  Bartoccini 1929, 80 – 81; Reynolds 1952, no. 263; Benseddik 2010: 2, 59 no. 1; Finocchi 2012, 145; text according to Clauss – Slaby (EDCS.06000268): P(ublius) Cornelius Attax / Marcianus / L(ucius) Appius Amicus / Rufinianus / curr(atores) refectionis / thermarum tert(ium) / deo Aesculapio / v(otum) s(olverunt).


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Fig. 15: Homs, Leptis-Magna-Museum 25: statue of Aesculapius from frigidarium of ‘Hadrianic Thermae’ at Leptis Magna. Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Rom, D-DAI-Rom Neg. 76.2230R

family in 198 – 199 or 203 – 204 AD²³. The formula is stereotypical and appears in many military dedications of the time, but it might have had, as Nacéra Bensed-

 BCTH 1952– 1952 (1954) 196; 1953, 46; AE 1955, 49. 54; Cadotte 2002. While Cadotte speaks of

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dik suggests, a more concrete sense here, inasmuch it addresses gods of health and salvation (Benseddik 2010: 2, 65 – 66 no. 1; cf. Le Bohec 1989, 563 – 565). For our concerns, suffice it to note that a public bath obviously had been rated as an appropriate place for a dedication regarding survival and success of the ruling dynasty²⁴. This is not an isolated case. Also at Madauros (Africa proconsularis, modern Mdaourouch, Algeria), a certain number of pedestals for statues have been found in and in the proximity of the Grands Thermes. These are likewise dedicated for the salvation of Septimius Severus, his family and his immediate successors (Caracalla, Severus Alexander). The dedicators always indicate the honos aedilitatis as occasion on which the dedication was made. Unfortunately, the inscriptions describe the object of the dedication only vaguely as statua ²⁵. Nevertheless, moulded top frames were found, which seem to fit the square bases and bear inscriptions for Aesculapius Augustus, Hygia Augusta, Venus Augusta, Liber Augustus, Fortuna Augusta ²⁶. Even corresponding statues are preserved (fig. 16)²⁷. Again, we deal with healing gods and others seem to come in addition. In this respect, the situation is similar to the one we have seen at Thamugadi²⁸. Another example for the inclusion of deities that have no particular relation to healing is given by statues and inscriptions coming from the Thermes de l’Ouest at Thubursicu Numidarum (Numidia, modern Khamissa, Algeria). The exact number of statues found within the bath-building is not known. It may well be higher than sometimes is supposed (Kleinwächter 2001, 298. 302– 303). Undisputed is the provenance of two statues of Aesculapius from the frigidarium, of different dimensions (height 1,42 m and 2,60 m respectively)²⁹. A third statue

one base with two inscriptions, older publications mention two bases, and also the photographs accessible through publications and online databases seem to refer to two bases. – For the architectural context see Charles-Picard 1974, 9 – 24; Thébert 2003, 144– 146.  Cf., e. g., CIL VIII 17726 (Aquae Flavianae).  ILAlg 2087– 2089. 2092. 2095; Thébert 2003, 511– 512 nos. 139 – 144.  ILAlg 2031. 2040. 2050 – 2051. 2067; Thébert 2003, 510 – 511 nos. 133 – 137; cf. Gsell and Joly 1922, 107– 108 with n. 3; 112– 113.  The statue reproduced by the photograph may represent Venus or Fortuna Augusta; for the whole group see Gsell and Joly 1922, 112– 114 pl. 12– 13. 13 bis; Manderscheid 1981, 119 – 120 nos. 446 – 454 pl. 46; Riethmüller 2005: 2, 413 no. 512; Benseddik 2010: 2, 66 – 68 nos. 1. 3 pl. 28.  There also we have noticed an honorary appointment (ob honorem IIviratus) as occasion on which a dedication was made: BCTH 1893, 162 no. 42; above n. 43; cf. also ILAlg 7635; Benseddik 2010: 2, 147– 148 no. 1 (dedication to Aesculapius Augustus from the frigidarium of the Grands Thermes at Cuicul/Djemila, ob honorem aedilitatis).  BCTH 1919 – 1920, 63 nos. 2. 4; Manderscheid 1981, 120 nos. 456 – 457; Benseddik 2010: 2, 89 – 90 nos. 1– 2.


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Fig. 16: Madauros/Mdaourouch: statue of female deity from the ‘Grand Thermes’. Reproduced from Stéphane Gsell and Charles A. Joly, Khamissa, Mdaourouch, Announa. Fouilles exécutées par le Service des Monuments Historiques de l’Algérie. Seconde partie: Mdaourouch (Alger et Paris, Caronel et De Boccard, 1922): pl. 12, 2

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coming from the frigidarium represents a female deity (BCTH 1919 – 1920, 62 no. 1; Benseddik 2010: 90 no. 3). It has been interpreted variously, as Hygia/Salus as well as Fortuna. The former seems more probable, not least because the sculpture corresponds by size and stylistic features with the larger one of the Aesculapius-statues³⁰. On the other hand, two (apparently lost) votive inscriptions to Aesculapius Augustus and Fortuna Augusta are mentioned among the findings from the Thermes de l’Ouest (BCTH 1919 – 1920, 61 nos. 1– 2; ILAlg 1220. 1222). The reported measurements of the inscribed objects are too small that these could have carried monumental statues, but they well could have served as votive altars related to the statues. From the background of the dedication of single statues – not uncommonly, as we have seen, on behalf of the emperors – maybe we can understand also the dedications of entire thermal buildings pro salute. A prominent example are the ‘Antonine baths’ at Carthago, which were enlarged and embellished during the reign of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. On this occasion, the building was re-dedicated to the well-being of the emperors (fig. 17)³¹. Similar dedications are known from Siga (Mauretania Caesariensis, modern Takembrit, Algeria: AE 1934, 80) and Thagora (Numidia, modern Taoura, Algeria: CIL VIII 4645)³². To the Thermes de l’Ouest at Mactaris, also called Thermes du Soffite capitolin belongs an epistyle with an inscription pro restituta salute of Marcus Aurelius (169 AD)³³. The soffit of the same ashlar shows a relief representing a divine triad, explained as Capitoline triad by Gilbert Charles-Picard (BCTH 1955 – 1956, 178; Charles-Picard 1957, 151– 152). Claudia Kleinwächter (2001, 159) has convincingly demonstrated, though, that this cannot be the case, inasmuch only one female and two male deities are depicted, one bearded, the other juve-

 Uncommon with regard to Hygia may seem the drapery which exposes the right shoulder of the goddess; it is, though, not without parallels, see Böhm 2004, 121– 125 fig. 77 (votive relief, middle of the 2nd century AD).  BCTH 1946 – 1949, 219 – 221; AE 1949, 27; Fagan 2002, 258 no. 86; Horster 2001, 417 with n. 755; Thébert 2003, 491 no. 23.  Other provinces (Balkans, Asia Minor) offer epigraphic evidence for bath buildings dedicated to the numen domus Augustae, the numen deorum Augustorum and to divinities whose relation with the emperors is expressed by the epitheton Augustus/Augusta: CIL III 1006. 3047. 6992. 7380; Fagan 2002, 256 no. 81; 287 no. 161; 294– 295 no. 180; cf. Aupert 1991, 190; Egelhaaf-Gaiser 2000, 384 n. 182.  CIL VIII 11799 (text according to Clauss – Slaby, EDCS-23200445): [Pro] restituta sa[lute] Imp(eratoris) Caes(aris) M(arci) Aureli Antonini Augusti Armeniaci Medici Parthici Medici / [pontificis] maximi p(atris) p(atriae) trib(unicia) pot(estate) XXIIII co(n)s(ulis) III / [imp(eratoris) V— civi]tas M[ac]taritanor[um –‐] / [extruxit(?) a]nno Sexti Laterani proco(n)s(ulis) c(larissimi) v(iri) L(ucius) Rupilius Au[‐-‐] / [‐-‐] leg(atus) eius dedicavit.


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nile. They thus could well be identified as Hygia, Aesculapius and Apollo (or one of Aesculapius’ sons), invoked in connection with the dedication of the whole building for the recovery of the emperor.

Fig. 17: Carthago/Carthage: epistyle with inscription from ‘Antonine Baths’. D. Steuernagel

To sum up, the North-African evidence clearly demonstrates that bath buildings or at least parts of them (primarily the frigidaria) were used as locations for some kind of religious practice during the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. The character of this practice can be described as a public and almost as an official one. Public-office holders had made most of the dedications mentioned before. The context often was one of public cults (sometimes in connection to public sanctuaries). Many votive monuments were donated on occasion of honorary appointments or on behalf of the well-being of emperors. Others remain anonymous for us, but the overall-sensation is that individual dedications by inconspicuous persons are rather rare. Most notably, although healing deities as Aesculapius and Hygia play an important role, personal thank offerings seem not to be attested, regardless of whether a sanctuary of these gods is nearby or not. Thus, from the kind of and reasons for votive donations, we also cannot distinguish between the thermae with connection to sanctuaries and those without. It may well be that thermae were used as locations for votive monuments because, displayed there, these had wide appeal with large sections of the cities’ populations.

Roman baths as locations of religious practice


Another point is important: As far as I can see, there are never any altars reported in connection with divine images. The only exception could have been the votive monuments for Aesculapius and Fortuna at Thubursicu Numidarum, which unfortunately are missing today. The apparent absence of altars might be explained by casualties of conservation or even of unwary excavation practice, particularly as Augustine mentions sacrifices before idols in bath buildings. Still, other authors, from other regions, are rating the immediate religious impact or appeal of such images rather lowly³⁴, and judging by the North-African evidence, it appears safer not to postulate an actual sacrificial cult within the bathing suites proper.

4 Workaday religion? Few are the cases I have noticed that convey insight into the religious practice of operators of bathing establishments. The ‘Thermes du Nord’ at Lugdunum Convenarum (Gallia Aquitania, modern S. Bertrand-de-Comminges, France) offer one of the rare examples: two votive altars, of which only the bases without inscriptions were preserved at the moment of the excavation in 1936/37, stood in the heating room (praefurnium) that served the caldarium. In addition, two decontextualised altars with inscriptions (dedications to Fortuna) have been found within the area of the thermae (Lizop 1947, 91. 108; cf. AE 1933, 238; AE 1951, 152). In the course of more recent fieldwork activities, two inscribed fragments have been found, which fit perfectly one of the praefurnium-altars. Thus, it is now certain this altar was dedicated by one M. Mansuetus Titullinus to Fortuna Augusta (Aupert and Monturet 1997; Schenck-David 2001; AE 2001, 1375). Roughly comparable with the practice at Lugdunum Convenarum appears the setting up a statue of Vulcanus in a niche of the underground-praefurnium of the Terme del Mitra at Ostia (Manderscheid 1981, 79 – 80 no. 103; Steuernagel 2004, 105 n. 510) (fig. 18). While this room most probably was accessible only for the bath’s operators, immediately north of and connected to it lies a Mithraic spelaeum from which the bath building received its modern name. Contempora-

 Aug., Epist. 46, 15: Si christianus debet in balneis lavare, vel in thermis, in quibus sacrificatur simulacris? Tertullian, de idololatria 15, 6, mentions cult practices referring to the doorways (ostia) of baths, but seems to be not afraid of divine images in the baths (de spectaculis 8); cf. Egelhaaf-Gaiser 2000, 383 ns. 172. 180. The Talmudic tractate Avodah Zarah (III Mishna 4) considers an image of Aphrodite in public baths at Acco harmless, inasmuch the visitors of the bath do not hesitate to urinate before it, cf. Aupert 1991, 192; Egelhaaf-Gaiser 2000, 383 n. 172; Eliav 2002, 424– 425; Eliav 2010, 613.


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neously with the installation of the mithraeum, a flight of steps was constructed that connected the entrance of the cult room, which is located on underground level, with a corridor on the ground-floor level. Thus, the mithraeum had two entrances, one from the service-area, the other one from the public part of the building³⁵. Thus, we may assume that both, workers and visitors, participated in the cult. Similar is the situation at the ‘Thermae of Caracalla’ at Rome (fig. 19). Also in this case, the mithraeum seems immediately connected with an extended system of corridors which served the thermae’s staff. Nevertheless, there too is an entrance-stair leading downwards from the ground level, while it was possible to bar the passage to the service corridors by a door or railing. These circumstances and the exceptional size of the complex – it is among the largest mithraea of the ancient world – lead to assume that bathers and personnel joined in the veneration of the Roman-Persian god³⁶.

Fig. 18: Ostia, ‘Terme del Mitra’: underground service room with wall niche. D. Steuernagel (reproduction authorised by Archivio Fotografico del Parco Archeologico di Ostia Antica)

 Becatti 1954, 29 – 38, part. 29; Steuernagel 2004, 108 (with further references). – For the double entrance see also White 2012, 479.  Ghislanzoni 1912, 317– 319; LTUR 3 (1996), s. v. Mithra, spelunca (thermae Antoninianae; Reg. XII), 267– 268 (M. Piranomonte); Piranomonte 1998, 29 – 33; see here fig. 19, plan of excavations undertaken in 1912, showing part of the underground corridor-system of the Terme di Caracalla with the rooms adapted as mithraeum (shaded) and the way to the mithraeum leading down from the ground level (dotted line).

Roman baths as locations of religious practice


Fig. 19: Rome, Thermae of Caracalla: part of underground rooms adapted for mithraeum. Adapted from Ettore Ghislanzoni, “Scavi nelle Terme Antoniniane”, Notizie degli scavi di antichità (1912): p. 318, fig. 9

5 Baths as locations for religious discourse or as “lieux de propaganda”³⁷? As we already have seen, religion in thermae is a manifold phenomenon. Some of its aspects seem quasi intrinsically related to main functions of the bath buildings, which for their part result from connections to athletics, healing and water cults; other aspects appear to attach themselves. More fundamentally, baths are important stages of social encounter, as streets, inns and workshops are; therefore, it is not surprising to find mithraea in baths, since the locations of this cult usually are established in places with a certain degree of ‘traffic density’ (Steuernagel 2004, 108). Consequently, and considering the archaeological and epi-

 Quotation from Thébert 2003, 446.


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graphic material we have scrutinised, it is possible and probable that people also talked about religion during their stay at the thermae. We can deduce this also from the many references Jewish and Christian authors make. Visiting the bath was equivalent to participating in urban life. It is in this sense that Tertullian mentions the baths among other locations that Christians are frequenting as well as all others do. On the other hand, he is sensible of the problems that arise from cross connections between baths and pagan cults; thus, he avoids bathing on holidays like the Saturnalia ³⁸. A similar attitude other authors demonstrate when they too rate bathing in public as a normal practice for Christians or Jews while discussing possibly compromising situations; some examples have already been quoted³⁹. Taking account of these general dispositions, we can also imagine some Christian teachers visiting the baths with the intention to use them as places of schooling and proselytising. H. Gregory Snyder has I think rightly emphasised this point in his article on “Justin Martyr’s ‘School’ in the City of Rome” (Snyder 2007). Grown up within the Greek-Hellenistic tradition, Justin had already used a gymnasion-setting at Ephesos for the dialogue on questions of faith with his Jewish counterpart Tryphon⁴⁰. Therefore, it probably was not by pure coincidence that Justin’s apartment in the city of Rome was located – according to an indication given within the Acts – above the “bath of Myrtinus”⁴¹. He might have chosen this apartment to be in close contact with wide circles of the urban population, drawing on the function of public thermae as spots and vehicles for spreading news – be they official bulletins or ordinary gossip. Later on, within an already widely Christianised world, Augustine held at least once a religious dispute within a bath building⁴². At this point even the transformation of bath buildings into churches comes into play. The need for spacious and solidly built structures was certainly high in late antiquity. It was tempting to convert bath buildings – and primarily the largest rooms, the frigidaria – into churches, particularly when the supply with water

 Tert., apol. 42, 2 (itaque non sine foro, non sine macello, non sine balneis tabernis officinis stabulis nundinis vestris ceterisque commerciis cohabitamus in hoc saeculo). 4.  see above, ns. 9, 18, 20, 34; cf. Zellinger 1928, 8 – 9; Eliav 2000; Eliav 2010, 612– 614.  Justin., dial. 1, 1 (xystos of a bath gymnasium); cf. Euseb., Hist. eccl. 4, 18, 6 (in the city of Ephesos).  Acts of Justin (III) 3; the indication ἐπάνω τοῦ Μυρτίνου βαλανείου is given only in recension A (corrupted text), recension B at the same place mentions “baths of a certain Martinus, son of Timotinus”, see Musurillo 1972, 44. 49.  The disputatio contra Fortunatum manichaeum took place in urbe Hipponensium regionum, in Balneis Sossii, sub praesentia populi; cf. Thébert 2003, 444– 446.

Roman baths as locations of religious practice


and fuel had become difficult. We thus can explain the installation of churches into thermae, e. g. in North Africa (Petit Thermes of Madauros, Thermes de l’Ouest of Mactaris) and at Ostia (Terme del Mitra, fig. 20), from purely pragmatic reasons⁴³. Still, it is imaginable (though not proofed), that at least in some cases the churches used the former thermal structures because they had a certain renown as places of activity or even martyrdom of early Christians⁴⁴.

Fig. 20: Ostia, ‘Terme del Mitra’: frigidarium adapted as Christian cult-room. D. Steuernagel (reproduction authorised by Archivio Fotografico del Parco Archeologico di Ostia Antica)

6 Conclusions We come to some succinct conclusions. Returning to the starting point of my survey – the social relevance of bath and bathing in Roman cities – it seems to me that a plurality of modes, levels and agents of (religious) communication were present in thermal settings, and not few of the expressions were of long-since established types and exhibited relations with firmly rooted traditions such as

 For North-Africa see Duval 1971 [1973]; Sears 2007, 20 (“Some parts of baths were also converted into churches but given the negative connotations associated with baths and bathing this seems to be more an opportunistic [sic!] use of a solid, un-used, structure than an ideological statement.”). – For Ostia see Steuernagel 2004, 116 (with references).  For a (private) bath building beneath the church of S. Cecilia in Trastevere (supposed place of Caecilia’s martyrdom) see Stasolla 2002, 43 – 44.


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healing cults or (Greek) athletics. Garrett G. Fagan rightly assumes that the “general function of Roman public baths” were one of “reproducers of the social order in Roman communities” (Fagan 2002, 189 – 222, quotation 218). It is important to pinpoint, however, that going to the baths was no substitute for visiting forum and temples, and never became one. Rather, it was a supplementary, though during the course of the Imperial period increasingly important and so to say constitutive element of communal life in Roman cities. A quotation from Ulpianus in Digesta makes the point very clear. To determine the place of residence (domicilium) of a subject, Ulpian suggests checking where the person uses “forum, bath and public spectacles”, where he “celebrates the public holidays” and “uses all the other municipal amenities” (Dig. 50, 1, 27, 1; cf. Fagan 2002, 194). Thus, in my view and trivial as it may seem, baths were locations of religious practice since they were locations where people frequently met; they were permeated by religion since the urban life during Roman Imperial and late antique times generally was. Thermae offered themselves for the exercise of certain religious rites inasmuch they were prominent parts of the public urban sphere; thus we find mostly quasi-official dedications, while individual donations for private reasons are almost absent. But the buildings not only offered themselves as locations, they were also shaped by religious practices. The installation of mithraea into the fabric of bath buildings is particularly instructive in this regard. Even if the installation of Christian sanctuaries can only with some uncertainties be interpreted in a similar way, it is certain that religiously dissident factions in Roman cities availed themselves of opportunities offered by the bathing establishments, not only for private hygiene, but also for religious discourses. Conflicts with the ‘mainstream’ religious practices were inevitable, but obviously no reason to refrain from visiting the thermae.

Abbreviations AE: Année épigraphique BCTH: Bulletin archéologique du comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques CIL: Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum Clauss – Slaby: Epigraphik-Datenbank Clauss – Slaby (www.manfredclauss.de) IGUR: Inscriptiones Graecae Urbis Romae ILAlg: Inscriptions latines d’Algérie LTUR: Lexicon topographicum urbis Romae RE: Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft

Roman baths as locations of religious practice


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Index Absolute place 28 f. Aedes 155, 158 Aedicula 155 f., 227, 233 Agency (human and non-human) 7, 83, 102, 111, 125 f., 128 f., 135, 139, 218 Alea 106 Altar 54, 79, 83 – 85, 115, 161 – 163, 225, 227 f., 230, 233, 239, 247, 249 Ambarvalia 150 Amburbium 150 Amphitheatre 37 – textual amphitheatre 40 Ancestors (veneration of) 125, 129, 136 f. Appropriation 3, 40, 125, 128, 130, 135, 155 Archiereus/eis 231 Architecture of death 124 Arena, see Circus; Amphitheatre Asceticism, ascetic 186, 189, 194 – 196, 198, 200 f. – super-asceticism 8, 200 Astrologers 103, 108 Athletes’ guilds 225, 231–233 Baptism 76, 79 f., 85, 92, 188, 194 – Baptistery 74, 79, 85, 211 Basilica 5, 19, 33, 73, 87, 151, 165, 176, 208, 211 Bath (bathhouse, bath buildings) 5, 9, 191, 199, 212, 215, 219, 225 – 227, 229 – 231, 233, 236 – 243, 245, 247 – 249, 251 – 254 Bath-gymnasium, see Gymnasion, gymnasium – Bathing culture 225 Belief (religious) 2, 6 – 8, 32 – 34, 72, 85, 88, 107, 127, 188 Bible, see Scripture Big Gods (religion) 34, 36 Bishop, bishopric 5, 8, 28, 32 f., 54, 72, 76, 78, 86, 88, 91, 185 – 193, 195 – 200, 209 f., 212, 217 f. Body (human and non-human) 9, 21, 26, 28 f., 43, 93, 124, 200, 225 – citizen-body, see Citizenship

Boundary 5, 33, 89, 107, 137 – sacred boundaries 85 f. Building (activities) 3, 6 – 9, 15 f., 19 f., 25, 37, 53 f., 57, 59, 69 – 78, 80 – 87, 90 – 92, 123, 126 – 129, 133, 137, 151, 155, 157 f., 160, 164 f., 177, 181, 192, 194, 200, 206 – 210, 212 – 215, 219, 225 – 227, 232 f., 237 – 243, 245, 247 – 254 Built environment 1, 3 f., 19, 33, 136, 206 Canon 32, 90, 195 f. – canonical (writings) 98, 100, 111 – 115 – canonization, canonisation 32 Catechumens 73, 78 – 80, 91 f. Cathedral 54, 72 – 74, 80, 85 Cemetery 124 f., 132 Christians 16 f., 30, 54, 64 f., 69 – 72, 74 f., 80 – 83, 86 – 88, 90, 92, 98 – 101, 106 – 108, 110 – 112, 117, 164 f., 186 f., 194, 199 f., 233, 252 f. – Christian city 8, 185 f., 189, 200 Christological controversies 186 f., 199 Chronicle 164, 169, 171, 175, 179, 183 Church (religious building) 7, 9, 19, 54, 69– 93, 124, 158 f., 169, 180 f., 186, 189 f., 192, 195, 200, 207–211, 213 f., 219, 252 f. – Church (The) 28, 30, 32, 54, 63, 72, 75– 77, 88, 112, 189 f., 192, 194, 197, 200 – children of the church (bnay qeyāmā) 197 Circus 9, 37, 155, 163, 191 Citification (of religion) 16 Citizenship 2, 18 f., 52 f., 58, 60 f., 91 – citizen-body 22, 52, 57, 60, 91 City – city-space, see Urban space – city-state 18, 52 f., 59 f. – earthly, heavenly 6 f., 15, 17, 28 f., 41 f., 55, 60 f., 90 f. – first city 22, 51 f., 56, 61 – metropolis, megacity 8, 36 – non-city, non-ville 15, 41, 43, 125 – of believers (mhaymnē) 8, 185, 189, 201 – of people vs. of stones 19



– post-city 41 – quasi-cities 91 Cityscape 15, 53, 181, 192, 206, 210, 212 f., 219 Cityscaping 15 f., 18 Civic – civic identity 53, 169, 214 – civic religion 40 – civic theology 38 – 40 Civil war 25 f., 151, 153 Civitas 15, 18 f., 21–27, 32, 33, 38–41, 43 f., 51–53, 55–65, 78 – civitas dei 41, 51, 56, 64 – civitas terrena 51 Community (political, of citizens) 18, 23–25, 36, 51–53, 55–58, 60–64, 87, 91, 185, 254 – textual 106–108, 112. Competition 3 f., 19, 69, 105, 107, 109 f., 113, 175 – intra-religious competition 20 – religion-state competition 20 Conurbation 52 Countryside 43, 54, 100 f., 109, 194, 196 – 198 Critical spatial theory 16 Crucifixion 64, 78, 113 Cultural geography 7, 123, 126 – 129, 135 f. Dedication 54, 73, 115, 152, 159, 161 – 164, 238 f., 243 – 245, 247 – 249, 254 Density (urban) 1 f., 22, 33, 111, 251 Desacralisation 182 Desert 36, 82, 91, 135, 196 De-urbanisation 1 Deviance (religious) 193 Devotion, see Topography of devotion Diversity (urban, of life in cities) 5, 24, 26 f., 99, 109, 117, 195 Divination 103, 176 Division of labour 23, 36, 43 Eikon acheiropoietos (the Mandylion) 185 Eleusinian Mysteries, see Mysteries, mystery cults Equites singulares 152, 160 f., 165 Esplanade 237

Eucharist 80, 93 Euergetism 76, 87 Evocatio 164, 171, 181 Extra-urban (practices) 7, 125 Faith, see Πίστις, fides Fanum 158 Fortification 210, 212 – 214, 218 Forum 5, 15, 25, 160, 178 f., 254 Foundation (of cities) 3 f., 8 f., 36, 44, 51, 169 f., 177, 209, 211, 213, 215, 217 f. – by a fratricide 60 f. – of buildings 70, 72, 85, 157, 159 Freelance (religious) experts, expertise 30, 99, 106, 113, 115 f. Frigidarium, frigidaria 239, 241, 243 – 245, 247, 253 Fundamentalist city 5 Funerary practices, rituals 123 f., 126 f., 129 – 131, 136 – monuments, see Tomb – temples, see Temple Garrison town 206, 217 Genius loci 84 Gens, gentes 61 – 63 Gnosticism 111 Gods, heroes, and mythological figures – Abel 7, 23, 51 – 53, 55 – 57, 59, 61, 65 – Abraham 23, 113 – Adam 52 – Aesculapius 237 – 239, 242 – 245, 247 – 249 – Aglibol 156 – Amor 81, 239 – Apollo 154, 243, 248 – Artemis 173, 227 – Asklepios / Asclepius 227, 237–249 – Athena 169, 176, 179 – Baal / Bel 156, 164 – Belos 155, 159 – Cain 7, 19, 22 f., 29, 44, 51 – 53, 55 – 59, 61 – 63, 65 – Christ 16, 25, 30 – 32, 40 f., 62 f., 65, 69 – 71, 73 f., 76 f., 79 – 81, 87, 89 f., 92, 97, 101 f., 113, 115 – 117, 185 – Dea Africa 239


– Enoch 22, 55, 61, 65 – Eve 52 – Fortuna Augusta 239, 245, 247, 249 – Gorgons 173 – Helios 155, 159, 164 – Herakles / Hercules 169, 176, 228 f., 232, 239, 243 – Holy Spirit 75, 79, 90 – Hygia / Salus 226, 238 f., 245, 247 f. – Iarhibol 156 – Joshua 189 – Jupiter / Zeus 35, 83, 89, 149, 153, 180 – Juventas 35 – Liber Augustus 245 – Luna 155 – Malakbek 156 – Mars 35 – Mercurius 239 – Mithras 9, 109, 115 – 117 – Moses 106 f., 113, 189 – Osiris 134 – Psyche 239 – Quies 35, 43 – Remus 61, 86 – Res Patroios 156 – Romulus 61 – Satan 79 – Serapis 239 – Seth 52 – Silvanus 174, 237 – Sol Invictus 8, 149, 151 – 153, 155 – 157, 160 – 165 – Solomon 70, 73, 79, 82, 101, 113 – Tarquin 35 – Terminus 35 – Venus 239, 245 – Vesta 83 – Victoria Augusta 239 – Zoroaster 113 Graffiti 131, 137 Graven images 81 Grouping 3, 16 – in-grouping, out-grouping 16 Gymnasion, gymnasium 225 f., 228 – 231, 252 Hagiography, hagiographic



Healing (gods/cults/powers) 9, 41, 85 f., 102, 225, 236 – 238, 245, 248, 251, 254 Heretics, heretical 53, 108, 114, 193 Heterogeneity (urban) 5, 22, 34, 111 Hippodrome 87, 169, 173 – 179 Historicism 172, 176, 180 Homogenization (of urban religious life) 194, 200 Household 22 – 24, 27, 99 Icon (religious, holy) 169, 172, 181 – 183 – iconoclasm 8, 172, 181 f. Identity 6, 106, 169, 171 – Christian Orthodox 169 – civic 53, 169, 214 – religious 149 Imagery 15, 18, 28, 39, 138, 165, 169 f., 179 Immigrants 3, 5 Intellectualisation, intellectualization (of religion) 7, 100 f., 109 Intericonicity 130, 134 Investment 9, 86, 206, 216 – 218 Isomorfic (logic), isomorfism 24, 60 Jerusalem temple 70, 72, 75, 77, 79, 82 Jews, Jewish people 61 – 64, 75, 81, 106, 108, 186 f., 193 f., 198, 225, 243, 252 Judaism 81, 111 Kaisersaal 227 – 229, 233 Kingdom (Ancient Egypt) – Middle 132 – New 123, 126 f., 132 f., 135 – Old 132, 134 f. Landscape approach 129, 136 f. Literacy 2, 104, 106, 109, 117 Liturgy 44, 69, 78, 80, 85, 93, 115, 182, 190 Lived Ancient Religion 7, 37, 125 f. Magic, magi, magus 98, 111, 130 Map (city‐) 8, 28, 30, 60, 181 Martyrs, martyrdom, martyrium 19, 30, 32, 41, 70, 186, 207, 209 f., 214, 216 f. – martyrdom literature 40 – shrines (also saints) 19, 74, 81, 90, 207 f.



Memory, memorialisation 16, 32, 88, 131, 206 Metonymic reach 52 Metonymic space 17 Military (the) 8, 130, 149 – 151, 153, 159 – 163, 165 f., 206 – 212, 214, 217 f., 237 Minority (groups) 2 Miracle (urban) 31 – 33, 41, 64, 72 – 74, 79 f., 85, 92, 197 Mithraea 99, 115 f., 225, 250 f., 254 Monasticism 91 – monasteries 91, 169, 188, 194, 196 – monastic city 91 – monastic life 196 – rules for the monks 194 – 196 Monumentalisation, monumentality 3, 5, 9, 54, 207 f., 215, 218 f. Mortuary rituals 129 Mysteries, mystery cults 30, 85 f., 97, 111, 115 f. – Eleusinian mysteries 84 – 86 Nag Hammadi writings, codices 104 Necropolis 7, 123, 126 f., 132 f., 135 Neighbourhood, neighborhood 5, 32, 36, 173, 238, 241 Neolithic 1, 23 – revolution 1 – urbanization 23 Network 1, 3 – 5, 10, 31, 91, 102, 106, 109, 111, 205, 214, 216 f., 219 Niche 101 f., 227 f., 239, 243, 249 f. Numen loci, see Genius loci Offerings (religious) 100, 102, 111, 115 f., 190, 248 Oppidum 52 Oracle 103, 109, 113 Pagan, paganism 8, 19 f., 30, 35 f., 38, 53, 106, 154, 164, 169 f., 172, 180, 182 f., 187 f., 205 f., 214, 242, 252 Paideia 52, 97, 102 Paignia 97 f., 104 Palaestra 225, 227, 229, 231, 236 Pastoralism 53, 65 Patronage 74, 149, 151, 164 f.

Philosophy 5, 43, 85, 98, 102, 109, 111, 118 – Philosophers 24, 27, 173 – 177 – Philosophical schools 109 Pilgrimage (also sites of) 4, 7, 70 f., 76, 78, 88 – 90, 92, 210, 218 Piscina 238 Πὶστις, fides 69–93 Placemaking (religious) 6 Plebs 5, 59 f. Polis religion 37 Polytheism 6, 31, 33 – 36 Populus 22, 25 f., 52, 57 f., 63 f. Porticoes 157 – 160 Praefurnium 249 Prayer 4, 32, 71, 73, 75, 78, 196, 216 Procession 33, 54, 84, 128, 135 Prophecy 5, 63, 108, 113, 173, 176 – 178, 188 – prophetic imagery 169 Publica sacra 35 Public images 16 Pylon 131 Rational choice theory 37 Relics (cult of) 6, 30 – 33, 194, 196, 207, 209, 214, 217 Religious agency, agents 2 f., 5, 16, 99, 102, 111, 128 f., 135, 139, 253 – authority 5–7, 9, 31, 38, 42, 99 f., 103, 106 f., 111, 113 f., 185, 195–197, 200, 209 – communication 1–3, 5, 31 f., 37, 253 – community 57 f., 70 f., 73, 75–77, 80, 84, 88, 91, 99, 107–112, 186 f., 194, 197 – experts, specialists 30 f., 99–118 – ideas 9, 31, 69, 73–75, 80–82, 84, 88 f., 92, 107, 189, 195 f. – practices 1–5, 9, 36, 127–130, 136–138, 216, 225, 229 f., 248 f., 254 Res publica, res populi 25 – 27 Right to the city 30 Roman empire 7, 61 f., 69, 74, 87, 93, 97, 169, 172, 174, 176, 183 Roman social imaginary 18 Rural 2, 5, 27, 36, 100 – 102, 109, 195, 197 f., 205 f., 216 – Christians 100


– population 27, 100–102, 109, 195, 197, 206 – religion 36, 198 Sacralisation 3 – Sacralised economy 216 Sacred landscape 128 Sacred space 9, 157, 205 Sacred spring 225, 236, 240 Sacred travel 207, 219 Sacrifice 26, 30, 54, 61, 63, 83 f., 165, 173, 209, 239, 249 Salvation 28, 69, 78, 80, 86, 112, 183, 190, 245 Sanctuary 76 f., 82, 84 f., 216, 231, 237 – 239, 241 – 243, 248 School (philosophical), see Philosophy Scribes 133 Scripture (Jewish, Christian) 17, 32, 55, 70, 72, 75 f., 79 f., 82, 89, 92, 98, 107, 114, 191, 196 Societas (civium) 22, 26, 58 Solar cult, worship 149–166 – ludi Solis 163 – pontifices (dei) Solis (college of) 153, 162 – templum Solis 151 – 165 Space (types of) – absolute 29 – abstract 35 – disordered 99 – Firstspace, Secondspace 35 – of religious competition 19, 111 – perceived, conceived, lived 35, 135 – revolutionary 43 – sacred, see Sacred space – urban, see Urban space Spatiality 16 f., 20, 24, 28 f., 35, 41 – 43 Spatial turn 17, 20 Spatiology 21 Spectacles 6, 31, 33, 37 f., 40, 87, 254 Statehood, stateness 25 f. Statues 8, 81, 83, 131, 164, 169 – 180, 182 f., 225 f., 229, 239 f., 242 f., 245, 247 – prophetic power/capacity 172 f., 176 Supernatural monitoring 36 Superorganism (city as) 22 f.


Supersessionism 19, 61 Synoecism 23 f. Temple (building) 9, 19, 35, 39, 40, 54, 72, 77, 81 – 87, 89, 99, 103, 118, 123, 126 – 128, 131, 134, 136, 151 – 165, 180, 182, 192, 230, 233, 236 – 239, 254 – spiritual, inner temple 70 f., 75 f., 89 – temple of Jerusalem, see Jerusalem temple – templum Solis, see Solar cult Textual community 106 f. Theatre 6, 9, 19, 37 – 40, 191 – theatre-cum-temple 40 – theatrical theology 39 f. Theologia tripertita 39 Thermae (thermal buildings), see Bath – Thermalism 225, 236 Tombs 7, 70, 74, 83, 123 – 138 Topography of devotion 8, 149, 151 – 153, 155, 166 Tower of Babel 19, 23 Transcendence 4 Transmission 37, 123, 128 – 130, 132 – 134, 139 Typological reading 51 f., 56, 60, 64 f. Urban (The) 1, 4, 6, 18–20, 27, 205 – culture 23, 51–53, 65 – ideal 206, 213, 215, 218 f. – imagination 3 f., 18., 28, 42–44, 183 – life, lifestyle 6, 17, 20, 23, 28, 41, 44, 53, 125 f., 191, 199, 205, 208, 214 f., 252, 254 – planning 2, 8, 35, 215 – religion 1 f., 5 f., 15 f., 29–31, 33 f., 36 f., 40 f., 51–54, 100, 125 f., 189, 192, 200 – religious approach 18, 29, 33, 37 f. – space 1, 3, 6, 9 f., 15 f., 18 f., 20 f., 24, 28, 31–34, 39 f., 41, 97, 208, 210, 217 f., 242 – turn 20 Urbanisation, urbanization 205, 216 – 218 Urbanised sanctuaries 205 Urbanism 6 f., 17, 19 f., 22 f., 34, 37, 41, 43, 51 f., 65, 205 f. Urbanity 1, 3 f., 6, 9, 16 f., 20 f., 23, 31, 37, 42, 205, 214 f. Urbs 4, 19, 21, 26, 38 – 40, 52, 55, 65, 231



Vera religio 29, 36 Vignettes 132 Violence (sacred, religiously motivated) 53 f., 64 Visio Dei 42 Voluntary association 58, 60, 99, 101, 116, 118 Votive (monuments, inscriptions) 161 f., 225, 237, 243, 247 – 249

Walking Dead project, approach 7, 123, 126, 128, 137 f. Wall (city walls) 4, 61, 91, 149, 151, 153, 159 f., 165, 173, 181, 207–214, 238 Workaday religion 249 Xenodocheion

191 f.