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The Last Pagans of Rome$
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Alan Cameron

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199747276

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199747276.001.0001

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The Real Circle of Symmachus

The Real Circle of Symmachus

(p.353) 10 The Real Circle of Symmachus
The Last Pagans of Rome

Alan Cameron

Oxford University Press

Within the ranks of the aristocracy many scholars have identified an inner core of literary pagans, the so-called “Circle of Symmachus,” actively nurturing the classics and sponsoring pagan writers in the hope of recalling waverers to the fold. This chapter argues that it is the chance congruence of two factors—one ancient and one modern—that has saddled Symmachus with this unlikely role: Macrobius's Saturnalia, where he appears as one of the three hosts to a fictitious literary gathering; and Otto Seeck's wonderful edition of Symmachus's Letters (1883), with its massive introduction identifying every correspondent and his family. As a consequence, Symmachus has always been seen as the central figure in late 4th-century Roman society.

Keywords:   Roman aristocracy, literary pagans, Macrobius, Saturnalia, Otto Seeck

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