To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Recent debates on religious violence in the Roman empire have focused mainly on the change from a polytheistic to a monotheistic empire, ‘das Problem des Monotheismus’, as stated by the Egyptologist Jan Assmann.1 In the tradition of the Enlightenment, polytheism and traditional religious practices are depicted as tolerant, because their inclusive character allowed individuals to adhere freely to as many and whichever cults they desired.2 The associated belief-systems are generally considered to have been open and non-coercive. Even the very category of ‘belief’ has been called into question, since it was the adequate performance of the rites that mattered. New cults could always be adapted and reinterpreted in familiar terms.3 Since gods and spirits were conceived of mainly as local entities, the veneration of foreign gods and spirits in a foreign country would be nothing more than a polite act: when in Alexandria, do as the Alexandrians do. Finally, nothing prevented an individual with enough backers and financial means from founding his or her own shrine.
Having described the rapid triumph of Christianity under Constantine in chapter 20, and the short revival of traditional religion by Julian in chapter 23, according to Gibbon the final reckoning with the Graeco-Roman religious tradition took place by the removal of the altar of Victory from the Senate house under Gratian and the subsequent imperial legislation under Theodosius I. The latter incited an empire-wide attack by Christian fanatics on temples, statues and other objects of worship, resulting, for example, in the famous destruction of the Serapeum at Alexandria in 391/92 ce. The success of this systematic campaign aimed at the ‘fall of Paganism’ was so complete, says Gibbon, that by 423 Theodosius’ grandson (Theodosius II) hardly noticed that there were any traces of the old religion left.2
Much like our world today, Late Antiquity (fourth-seventh centuries CE) is often seen as a period rife with religious violence, not least because the literary sources are full of stories of Christians attacking temples, statues and 'pagans'. However, using insights from Religious Studies, recent studies have demonstrated that the Late Antique sources disguise a much more intricate reality. The present volume builds on this recent cutting-edge scholarship on religious violence in Late Antiquity in order to come to more nuanced judgments about the nature of the violence. At the same time, the focus on Late Antiquity has taken away from the fact that the phenomenon was no less prevalent in the earlier Graeco-Roman world. This book is therefore the first to bring together scholars with expertise ranging from classical Athens to Late Antiquity to examine the phenomenon in all its complexity and diversity throughout Antiquity.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this to your organisation's collection.