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Wandering Poets and Other Essays on Late Greek Literature and Philosophy$
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Alan Cameron

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190268947

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190268947.001.0001

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Paganism in Sixth-Century Byzantium

Paganism in Sixth-Century Byzantium

(p.255) 12 Paganism in Sixth-Century Byzantium
Wandering Poets and Other Essays on Late Greek Literature and Philosophy

Alan Cameron

Oxford University Press

By the time Justinian became sole emperor in 527 AD, pagan practices had been banned for more than a century. However, certain recent scholars have claimed that, despite the censure, paganism remained strong in the deeply Christian empire of Justinian. This chapter questions that claim by attempting to clarify the contexts in which terms like “Christian,” “pagan,” and “secular” were actually used. Christians could invoke classical subject matter without its implying that they had pagan sympathies. And neglecting to refer to Christian themes did not imply that a writer was secretly or openly pagan; where a writer has failed to include Christian references, it is obviously essential to ask whether the inclusion would have been relevant to the subject. The chapter investigates how the contemporary charge of paganism was itself difficult to prove, a fact that makes modern interpretations of paganism especially problematic.

Keywords:   Agathius, Constantinople, Byzantium, Hagia Sophia, Phocas, John Lydus, Hesychius of Miletus

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