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Chapter 12 - Crowd Behaviour and the Destruction of the Serapeum at Alexandria in 391/392 ce

from Part III - Religious Violence in Late Antiquity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 September 2020

Jitse H. F. Dijkstra
Affiliation:
University of Ottawa
Christian R. Raschle
Affiliation:
Université de Montréal
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Summary

The riotous behaviour by crowds towards other crowds, individuals, buildings or objects is considered in many studies to be a main component of ‘religious violence’ in Late Antiquity.2 Yet these studies often fail sufficiently to take into account three, interrelated points. The first is that the, mostly Christian, sources typically describe the incidents in stark antithetical terms depending on the author’s agenda (‘pagan’–Christian, Arian–‘orthodox’, miaphysite–Chalcedonian and so on). The resulting black-and-white picture tends towards exaggeration and overemphasises the religious antithesis.3 A second point is that despite the focus in the sources on religious differences in reality – as with religious violence in general – almost always other factors were in play.

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Religious Violence in the Ancient World
From Classical Athens to Late Antiquity
, pp. 286 - 305
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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