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On the Form and Content of the Certificates of Pagan Sacrifice 1

  • Paul Schubert (a1)


Certificates of sacrifice (libelli) were produced during the so-called persecution of Decius (a.d. 250), which is documented through the testimony of Christian authors and through original certificates preserved on papyrus. The aim of this article is to offer a more detailed perspective on some specific points in the procedure as regards the production of the papyri. Although Decius’ edict did not produce an instant and decisive change in the religious balance of the Empire, the procedure that was put in place nonetheless testifies to the effectiveness of the existing structure, and also to the capacity of the officials to adapt this structure so as to obtain maximum compliance from the population.


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I wish to thank Professor Adalberto Giovannini (Geneva), who read a first version of this article. My gratitude also extends to all four anonymous readers for their helpful comments.



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