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Religions of the Constantinian Empire$
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Mark Edwards

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199687725

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199687725.001.0001

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Latin Apologists and Roman Culture

Latin Apologists and Roman Culture

Chapter:
(p.19) Chapter 2 Latin Apologists and Roman Culture
Source:
Religions of the Constantinian Empire
Author(s):

Mark Edwards

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199687725.003.0002

Chapter 2 presents the Latin apologists of this period as complementary figures to Eusebius, challenging Rome from her own traditions rather than foreign sources and taking positions which are more obviously opposed to the ideology of empire. Lactantius may be responsible for the widespread popularity of Euhemerism (the theory that gods are deified humans) in subsequent Christian writing, but he is not, as Cantwell Smith surmised, the first author to speak of a plurality of religions. The most remarkable feature of Arnobius’ treatise Against the Nations (apart from its recondite erudition) is its refusal to accept antiquity as a test of veracity in religious matters. It is argued that recent scholarship has not put the dating of this work to 303 beyond doubt, and that Jerome’s date of 326 remains tenable.

Keywords:   Lactantius, Arnobius, Cantwell Smith, Jerome, apologetic, Latin, Euhemerism, divine transcendence, imperial ideology, chronology

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