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Melania the YoungerFrom Rome to Jerusalem$
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Elizabeth A. Clark

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780190888220

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190888220.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 20 April 2021

Pagans and Christians in Late Ancient Rome

Pagans and Christians in Late Ancient Rome

(p.61) 4 Pagans and Christians in Late Ancient Rome
Melania the Younger

Elizabeth A. Clark

Oxford University Press

Chapter 4 explores the meaning of “pagan” in late antiquity, debates over its use today, and the meaning and progress of Christianization. Recent controversies over “conversion” and the pace of Christianization, especially among the senatorial aristocracy, have called into question mid-twentieth-century claims that there was an ardent “pagan revival” among aristocrats at the end of the fourth century. Some key elements in that controversy involved the removal of the altar of the goddess Victory from the senate house and the fate of the Vestal Virgins. The chapter details later imperial rulings against pagan practices from the 390s onward. Recent scholarship questions whether conversion to Christianity entailed a radical life change for upper-class Romans. The growth of the number and role of bishops is noted. Christianity’s charity operations were probably a factor in winning some to the new faith. Soon, “heresy” would become a more pressing concern to bishops and some emperors than the occasional “pagan” practitioner.

Keywords:   Altar of Victory, bishops, charity, Christianization, conversion, heresy, paganism, temples, Vestal Virgins

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