The Last Pagans of Rome

Oxford University Press
3
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Rufinus' vivid account of the battle between the Eastern Emperor Theodosius and the Western usurper Eugenius by the River Frigidus in 394 represents it as the final confrontation between paganism and Christianity. It is indeed widely believed that a largely pagan aristocracy remained a powerful and active force well into the fifth century, sponsoring pagan literary circles, patronage of the classics, and propaganda for the old cults in art and literature. The main focus of much modern scholarship on the end of paganism in the West has been on its supposed stubborn resistance to Christianity. The dismantling of this romantic myth is one of the main goals of Alan Cameron's book. Actually, the book argues, Western paganism petered out much earlier and more rapidly than hitherto assumed. The subject of this book is not the conversion of the last pagans but rather the duration, nature, and consequences of their survival. By re-examining the abundant textual evidence, both Christian (Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, Paulinus, Prudentius) and "pagan" (Claudian, Macrobius, and Ammianus Marcellinus), as well as the visual evidence (ivory diptychs, illuminated manuscripts, silverware), Cameron shows that most of the activities and artifacts previously identified as hallmarks of a pagan revival were in fact just as important to the life of cultivated Christians. Far from being a subversive activity designed to rally pagans, the acceptance of classical literature, learning, and art by most elite Christians may actually have helped the last reluctant pagans to finally abandon the old cults and adopt Christianity. The culmination of decades of research, The Last Pagans of Rome overturns many long-held assumptions about pagan and Christian culture in the late antique West.
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About the author

Alan Cameron is Charles Anthon Professor Emeritus of Latin at Columbia University. His previous books include Claudian: Poetry and Propaganda at the Court of Honorius, The Greek Anthology: From Meleager to Planudes, Callimachus and his Critics, and Greek Mythography in the Roman World. He is the winner of the 2013 Kenyon Medal for Classical Studies and Archaeology of the British Academy.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Nov 30, 2010
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Pages
896
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ISBN
9780199780914
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Ancient / General
History / Ancient / Rome
Religion / Christianity / History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Millennium überschreitet Grenzen, Grenzen zwischen den Epochen und regionalen Räumen wie auch Grenzen zwischen den Disziplinen. Die Schriftenreihe Millennium-Studien ist, genauso wie das Jahrbuch, international, interdisziplinär und epochenübergreifend ausgerichtet. Das Herausgebergremium und der Beirat repräsentieren ein breites Fächerspektrum: Kunst- und literaturwissenschaftliche Beiträge kommen ebenso zu ihrem Recht wie historische, theologische und philosophische, und die Millennium-Studien bieten gleichermaßen Raum für Arbeiten zu den lateinischen und griechischen wie zu den orientalischen Kulturen.

In die Studien finden einschlägige Monographien und Sammelwerke aus dem gesamten Themenspektrum Aufnahme, zudem Kommentare und Editionen. Publikationssprachen sind vornehmlich Deutsch und Englisch; die Aufnahme französischer, italienischer und spanischer Arbeiten ist möglich.

Falls Sie ein Manuskript für die Studien einreichen möchten, bitte wir Sie, sich an den fachnächsten Herausgeber zu wenden:

Wolfram Brandes, Frankfurt (Byzantinistik und Frühes Mittelalter): brandes@rg.mpg.de

Peter von Möllendorff, Gießen (Gräzistik): peter.v.moellendorff@klassphil.uni-giessen.de

Dennis Pausch, Dresden (Latinistik): dennis.pausch@tu-dresden.de

Rene Pfeilschifter, Würzburg (Alte Geschichte): Rene.Pfeilschifter@uni-wuerzburg.de

Karla Pollmann, Bristol (Frühes Christentum und Patristik): K.F.L.Pollmann@bristol.ac.uk

Alle Manuskripte werden von dem jeweiligen Herausgeber und von einem externen Gutachter beurteilt. Dabei gilt das Single-blind peer review-Verfahren.


By the Roman age the traditional stories of Greek myth had long since ceased to reflect popular culture. Mythology had become instead a central element in elite culture. If one did not know the stories one would not understand most of the allusions in the poets and orators, classics and contemporaries alike; nor would one be able to identify the scenes represented on the mosaic floors and wall paintings in your cultivated friends' houses, or on the silverware on their tables at dinner. Mythology was no longer imbibed in the nursery; nor could it be simply picked up from the often oblique allusions in the classics. It had to be learned in school, as illustrated by the extraordinary amount of elementary mythological information in the many surviving ancient commentaries on the classics, notably Servius, who offers a mythical story for almost every person, place, and even plant Vergil mentions. Commentators used the classics as pegs on which to hang stories they thought their students should know. A surprisingly large number of mythographic treatises survive from the early empire, and many papyrus fragments from lost works prove that they were in common use. In addition, author Alan Cameron identifies a hitherto unrecognized type of aid to the reading of Greek and Latin classical and classicizing texts--what might be called mythographic companions to learned poets such as Aratus, Callimachus, Vergil, and Ovid, complete with source references. Much of this book is devoted to an analysis of the importance evidently attached to citing classical sources for mythical stories, the clearest proof that they were now a part of learned culture. So central were these source references that the more unscrupulous faked them, sometimes on the grand scale.
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