The Last Pagans of Rome - Alan Cameron


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The Last Pagans of Rome
Autor: Alan Cameron
Oxford University Press, 2011, 447p

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The Last Pagans of Rome - Alan Cameron

  1. 1. F The Last Pagans ofRome Alan Cameran OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 2011
  2. 2. p I ~ OXFORD VNIVERSITY I'Ilf.SS l):u..rJ UIlierlty ['re~, In •. , pu¡'h~hc~ w"rL:. Ibat ¡urlher llxfllrJ Ulllvcr~lty's 1bjedLVC lIt" cJ:.. dlen~e ni rc~",ud, ~dUlbr,lllr. ,lIlJ edu.Mlllo. lhi"rJ Ncw Ylfk Cape Tllwn [l,¡r e~ Salum Hung Kong KoIf,¡du KUolla tumpur MaJml Mc1buurnc Ml.'xlu' l'uy N,urtllH Ncw ndlu Sh¡ngholl TJlpc-, Turuntu AULkl~[J Wlth ltii.:CS ,n ArgclltlllJ. AU~lrI.1. Hrol7¡J Cluh.' Cze~h ~publi.: h'¡IlLe t,ro:"'Le l:u,¡tem.1l¡ Hungny J¡ PolanJ Pllrtug,¡1 Smg.l.pure Suuth Kun~,¡ SWltzerlJ.nJ '[hJ.lbnJ Turkcy Ukr.l1ne Vietnam Cllpyught ((~ 1011 by oxforJ UniwT'.ily Prc~s, 101:. l'uhlllilu~J by llllurJ UmVCIslty l're~~, In ... 10,1)1 M,¡Jl~un Avenu ..., NL'W Ylld., Ncw y.,rk 1001(> lhwrJ,~ J. tCs"releJ tr,¡Jemar'; "1 Olú,rJ Ulllwr~lly I'r ...,s AH rl~hts res~'rv~J. NtI p~rt tlt tlus pubh':~hUIl mJy he repwJu~~J, ~lllC!;'J 111.1 relrlcv~1 If!otem, llr tUllsmlttcJ, III ~uy t,'rm Uf by ~ny m~Jn~, dL>.:tWIIIL, mcdulll~,d, phUWLUPylllg, reLluJlIlg, ,le tltherwl~e, wllhllut the pour penm"!tJoII111 (hltlrJ UIII"ee~lty i're"~' l:.unewn,Aldll,I'>I,II'Ill'" bst pJg,llls ulRlme / AIJn C,¡mewli. p. ~m. InduJe_ blhllUge~l'h,~,¡1 fefcren .. e~. ISUN 9711 ,,·1<}·9':'4'i17·6 1, l'lu"I,~IlI[y .InJ ,.ther r~J¡glllll~-Rum~lI. 1.. l'hurLh hi~tury_i'rinuhve ~nJ "'Mly ,hurLh, ':.1. ~0-6oo. '. Rume-Hlllury-l'.mplre, 10 11.l.-47ÓA.ll. .¡. C!mS[¡olmty .luJ uther fehgll!llS'-PJgJIII"m-HI~t(lfy­ ¡<arly Lhurdl,Lol..10 600. .<,. I'd~JIiI$m-RelatlOll~-Chfl~II~lIIty. (>. EmPCWf,,-R1>me. 1. Tille. llRI70.CÓ !Oll 101000',1147 7 <) 8 Ó i'rinteJ 111 the UIIII",J Stalcs ,lf !unen.:.l on a':IlJ.lree pJper Por old friends TDB, GWB, WlH, PEK, JAN and (once again) for Carla
  3. 3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 1he seeds that evcntually grew into this volume were sown in articJes 1 published as long ago as 1966 and 1977. It was in the 1980s that 1 first had the idea of turning my approach to the so·called pagan reaetian into a bookJ and it was then that 1 began campillng the informatian on subscriptions that now fills chapters 11-14. It was also tbcn that 1 carne up with the title, which, as rny ideas progressed, has turned out to be more ironic than I originally would (1 suspect) have been a very different book if I had written it then. But I had not yet thought out all the issues to my own satisfaction, and other projects (mostly Greek) beckoned more insistently. Yct 1 never gave up on the last pagans, and at the turn of the millennium decideo that the moment had come to pick up thc threads again. The last decade oc so has flot only seen much important new work, but a1so the unexpected discovery of important ncw texts. 1 have incorporated radically revised versions of three early articles, and substan~ tially revised and updated the unpublished drafts of chapters 12-14. 1 more than once toyed with the iJea of publishing the material on subscriptions separately, but in the end decided that, despite their bulk, they formed an cssentia! p.rt of the argument of Last Paga"s, a perspective that would have been lost in a separate publication. AII the rest has been written in the last few years. Chapters 17-18 were added at a late stage, provoked by the continuíng emphasis in recent continental scholarship on the entirely lost (and surely trivial) history of Nicomachus Flavianus. At first I thought of publishing them separately, but given the ever increasing importance accorded this his~ tory in modero writiog on the "pagan reacUon," they too beloog in this book. My debt to the published work of Alfoldi, llarnes, Bloch, Brown, Chastagnol and Paschoud (among m.ny others) will be obvious. Many friends have sent me books and off'prints, supplied informationl commented on drafts or discussed problems with me over many years. 1 trunk. particularly ofTim Barnes, Glen Bowersock, Christopher Jones, Franca Ela Consolino, Bob Kaster,Arnaldo Marcone,John North¡ Lellia Cracco Ruggini¡ Rita Lizzi Testa¡ Míchele Salzman, Pe ter Schmidt, and Jim Zetzel.l aro espe~ cially grateful to Michele for organizing a symposium on my views in May 2.008 (aod to Carmela FrankJin for hosting it at the American Acaderny in Rome)¡ and to Tirn for generously taking the time to give the en tire penultimate version oE the manuscript a thorough critica} rcading, saving me from many errors.
  4. 4. viii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 1 have also profiteJ from criticisms and information of various sorts [rom Neil, Tom lJanchich, Daug Boin, Philippe Bruggisser, Richard Burgess,J.-P. Callu, Giovanoi Ceceoni, Brian Croke, Michel Fcsty, Gavin Kelly, Dale Kinncy, Hartmut Leppio, Neil MeLyon, Silvio Panciera, Umberto Romano, Cristiana 50goo, John Weisweiler, anu rnany othcrs over the yeus. 1 wish 1 could recall the names of all those CONTENTS who askcu questions after lecturcs that startcd a train of thought or lcd me tú rethink ao iS5ue. Irene SaoPietro hclped with editorial work on a Jifficult manuseript, and David Rat'lan performed the Herculean task ol' compiling the indexo Hérica Valladares suggested the cover illustratioo. 1 am particularly grateful to the Andrew W Mellon Fouodation [or awarding me ao emeritus fcllowship that covered many expenses, and lo the Stanwooo Cockey Lodge Fund of Columbia University for a geoerous subvcn- Illustrations xi Introduction 3 tion to defray the cost ol'publication. Finally, a special thank you to Stefan Vr.nka and the statr of Oxfon1 Press USA for accepting so forbidding a manuscript in sueh diffi· cult times, ¡¡nd for the promptest and most efficient operation 1 have cncountered in CHAPTER 1 Pagans and Polytheists ,+ forty years of publishing books. CHAPTER 2 From Constantius to Theouosius 33 CHAPTER 3 lhe Frigidus 9J CHAPTER 4 Priests ano Initiates CHAPTER 132 5 Pagan Converts 173 CHAPTER 6 Pagan Writers 206 CHAPTER 7 Macrobius and the "Pagan' Culture of His Age 2JI CHAPTER 8 lhe Poem against the Pagans 273 CHAPTER 9 Other Christian Verse Invectives 320
  5. 5. x CONTENTS CHAPTER la The Real Cirde of Syrnmachus 353 ILLUSTRATIONS CHAPTER 11 lhe "Pagan" Literary Reviva.l 399 CHAPTER 12 la and lb. 692 Mildenhall plate 700 3· Parabiago plate 702 4· 421 Contorniates of Apollonius ofTyana and Nero 2. Corrcctors ano Critics 1 Vatican Vergil: Diclo sacrifices, accompanied by two victimarii CHAPTER 13 Correctors ano Critics Il 457 and a camillus 708 5· Roman Vergil: '!heee seated Trojansj man sacrifices to left 710 6. Consular diptych ofBoethius 712 7· Syrnrnachorum/Nicornachorurn diptych 7 13 8. Consecratio diptych 720 9aand 9b. Christ and Virgin diptych 721 10. Consecratio reHef on mausoleum at Igel 727 11. Apotheosis ofAntoninus Pius and Fausta, Rome 7 28 12. Fauve! panel 729 13· Lampadiorum panel 73 1 CHAPTER 18 14· Probianus diptych 735 The Atmalcs ofNicomachus Flavianus Il 659 15· Liverpool vt!natio panel 73 6 16. Leningrad Lion hunt diptych 739 17· Milan Marys panel 74 1 18. Munich Ascension panel 74 2 CHAPTER 14 The Livian Revival 498 CHAPTBR 15 Greek Texts and Latin Translation 527 CHAPTERIÓ Pagan Scholarship: Vergil ano His Cornmentators 567 CHAPTER 17 lhe Annales 01" Nicomachus Flavianus 1 CHAPTER 627 19 Classical Revivals and "Pagan" Art 691 CHAPTER 20 The Historia Augusta 743 CONCLUSION 783 APPENDIX The Poem against the Pagans 8 o 2 SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY lNDEX 855 809
  6. 6. • INTRODUCTION lhe ruin of paganism, in the age ofTheoJosius, is p~rhaps the only example of the total extirpation oC Olny ancient and popular superstitiofl¡ and may therefore deserve to be considered, as a singular event in the history oC the human mind -Gibboll, D.clin. anu FaU ofthe Roman Empire, Ch. xviii lhe last pagans of my titIe are the nobles oflate fourth.century Rome. Although they spent their days moving between their grand Roman mansions and a variety Df suburban villas, the oldest families owned estates all over ltílly, North Africa, and many other parts of the empire, thus controlling the lives of hundeeus of thousands. In th. regian of Hippo, according to Augustinc, people said that iE ane particular noble convertedJ "no pagaos would be lcEt."¡ Sermons cf the age constantly exhort landowners to destroy pagan shrines on their land (Conelusion). Prudentius singled out for sp'· cial mention the tirst noble familles to convert to the new faith (Ch. 5. 2). Biographifs of the ascftic saints of th. age always stress the rank anu wealth repudiatfu by their heroes, [rom the younger Melania to Honoratus of Aries.! WhHe insisting that it was of no importance, Jerorne fantasized that his aristocratic groupies were descended from CamiUus and the Scipios.' We are rCilsonably sure that by ca. 450 there were few pagan nobles Icft. But there is very little rcliable evioence about thc earliest Christians in any given family, no statistics, and no conversian stories. Fortunately, rny subject ís not so rnuch the conversion of the last pagans,' as how long they survivcd anu what they diu to defenu the oId cults. lt ís widt!ly believed that pagans remaíned in a majaríty in the aristocracy till at least thc 380s, ano continueJ to remaio a powerful force weU into the fifth century (Ch. 5). On this basis the main focus of much modern scholarship has becn on their supposedly stubborn resistance to Christianity. Rather surprisingly, they have becn transformed from thc arrogant, philistine land-grabbers most of thern were into fearless champíons of senatorial privilegc, literature Iovers, and aficionados of elassical (especially Greek) culture as weU as the trauitional cults.lhe dismantling of this romantic rnyth is one ofthe main goals ofthis book. me l. lIobi/is, !i Christ/{lIIus tUtt, IltlnO rematltrd pag'lIIus, Aug. EllrJrr. in Ps. S4. 13. 1. Vtla Mtlaniat, passim¡ HII. tius, Vila Hlltloroti 4.1l lo Jerome, Epp. $4. 1, 4; 108. 1, ].4. 4. Now treated in detail, (rom various anglcs, by Salzman 1001: see too Ch. S. l. 3
  7. 7. ....------------------------------- ----------------------------------~ INTRODUCTION 4 Thc idea that the aristocracy of Rome spearheaucJ a "pagan revival" at the end of s Introduction 1hree aristocrats in particular have been identified as the core of a continuing Q Aurelíus Symmachus, and the [ourth ccntury. culminating in a "last pagan stand" defcated at the battle of the pagan opposition: Vettius Agorius Praetextatus, river Frigidus, dies haedo The nalure of the problem has changed in many ways follow- Nicomachus Flavianus,9 al! holders of priesthoods in the state cults. The most influen- ing the reassessment ofthe cultural ami religious life oflate antiquity initiated by Petee tial single source for this supposed opposition, often identified as thc "circle of Brown. But the thesis so eloquently expounded more than sixty years ago by Andrew Symmachus," is Macrobius's Saturnalia, a dialogue in which noue other than Alf61di~ and Herbert Bloch 6 lives on, if in modificd form, in even the most recent his- Praetextatus, Symmachus, and Flavian are the hosts at a symposium attended by a tories of the late Roman West by scholars of repute. 7 More important perhaps, it is a group of aristocrats and scholars who discuss at length such subjects as Vergil's tixture in countless more general books that allude in passing to the end of paganismo knowledge of pagan cult (Ch. 16). It used to be taken for granted that Macrobius was Te cite only the most recent to come my way, the new Engllsh translation of Fillppo himself a member of this pagan opposition. But the circle he depicts, like the "circle of Coarelli's archaeological guide to Rome dates the abandonment of the House of the Scipio" represented in Cicero's De republica, is an imaginary creation: the speeches Vestal Virgins to "the defeat ofthe last champions of paganism near Aquileia in 394:' The he puts in the mouths of his interlocutors renect his interests rather than theirs context docs not caH for mention ofthese "champions."The battle ofthe Frígidus (Ch. 3) (Ch. 10. S). Macrobius himselfwas almost certainly a Christian, and wrote a full half· has simply become thc cananical date for the definitivc end ofRaman paganismo century alter his dramatic date (382). Several chapters are devoted to this important 'Ihis view depends less on evidence than on a series of assumptions, many of which continue to be repeatcd as if establishcd facts. There is only one narrativc but much misunderstood work (Ch. 7,10,15,16), which tells us more about the antiquarianism of Christian senators in the 430S than the beliefs of pagans in the 380s.10 chapter (Ch. 2), describing the succcssive measures taken against paganism by It is the political aspect of the supposed pagan revival that has attracted most Constantius Il, Gratian, and 1heodosius 1. 1hc other chapters reexamine these attention (Ch. 2, 3, S). In 382, Gratian ordered the altar ofVictory removed from the assumptions, sometimes (incscapably, given thcir often unquestioned hold in both senate house, and withdrew the traditional public subsidies from the state cults. popular and scholarly litcrature) in considerable detail. Readcrs may be surprised to Syrnmachus led an embassy to court to protest. Two years later, now prefect ofRome, discovcr how líttlc cvidence there is for this enduring myth-and how much that he wrote his celebrated formal appeal to Gratian's successor, Valentinian lI, again supports a very diffcrent story. There has been much loose talk of pagan "revival," but it is not cIear what form this asking for the restoration ofaltar and subsidies, again unsuccessfully. In 391 Theodosius 1 (it is clairned) decided that the time had come to go beyond these half measures and revival is supposed to have taken. The term itsclf might suggest an increase in the eliminate paganismo So he issued a comprehensive ban on al1 forms of non~Christian number of pagans. But the 380s and 390S were undoubtedly a period when the pace of cult activity, which was rigorously enforced. This was the last straw for pagan arista· conversion to Christianitywas accelerating (Ch. 5). "It is well known," claims one recent erats, who rallied behind the western usurper Eugenius (prodaimed on 2.2. August book, "that there was a resurgence of pagan activities and sympathy at Rome during the 392). In return for their support Eugenius (supposedly) restored both altar and sub· years 392-394:" What sort of activities? What kind of sympathy? A series of dedica· sidies, leading to a fully t1edged revival of paganism at Rome, directed by his praeto· tions by aristocrats from a single site of the Magna Mater in Rome is sometimes Ínter- rian peefect Nicomachus Flavianus. l1 Very little of this story survives serious scrutiny. preted as a revival of"oriental" cults, which are held to have been what really drove the Flavian's reputation as the pagan fanatic who "directed" this revival rests almost last pagaos to take up arms in defense of the old ways. But the initiations they attest are entirely on the interpretation ofa single anonymous poem 00 the death ofan unoamed more llkc a sort of upper-dass freemasonry than cults with a genuine following (Ch. 4. pagan prefect devoted to exotic pagan cults. From the moment ofits discovery in 1868, Sometimes "pagan revival" functions as a shorthand for the revival of secular litera- the prefect was identified as Flavian, and it was inferred that he had revived all the ture in fourth-century Rome (Ch. 11). To be sure, Claudian and Ammianus were both supposedly now forbidden cults mentioned in the poem. Even accepting the pagans, but Claudian at any rate wrote for Christian patrans. Indeed, the late fourth- identification "revival" would be a stretch since the cults had been banned for barely 2.). and earIy fifth-century West is rightly seen as the golden age of Christian literature, three years. Nor does the poem say anything about the prefect reviving cults; he is poetry no less than prase (Ambrose,]erome, Augustine, Paulinus, Prudentius ... ). slmply ridiculed for believing in such nonsen,e. 5. Altold, 1<).~7, 1943, 1943, 1952, ,lnd many artu;les. 6. Bloch 1945; 1<)63; B10dl1945 IS the .>tandard treatment (he ¡¡ved till2006: obltuary by Joncs 200S). 7. Potter 2004, 531; Dcmandl2007, 166; Mitche112007, 88-8<)i van Dam 2007, 349i Coarl!lIi 2007. 86.1he mo.>t extreme reccllt cxample is Hedrick 2000. 8. Hunter 2007, 20. 9. Hereafter usually Flavian. 1hroughout this book, 1assume that readers will con.>ult PLRE for details of careerb, even without explicit citations. lO. Study oC the Sllturnalia willln Cuture be greatly facilitated by Kaster's ncw Loeb edition (3 volumes, 1010). 11. ~Les Flaviens pere et fils dirigent ti. Rome la réaction palenne," Chastagnol1962, 242j ef. Piganiol1975. 293i Matthews 1975, 241-42; Pietri 1976,438-39, and so on.
  8. 8. ...--------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------~ llItroduction INTRODUCTION 6 More important, the clues in the poem simply do fiot lit Flavial1. New evidence anu new arguments prave beyonu a shadow of a doubt that the prefect is Praetextatus, in which case the poem belongs in 384 rather than 394 (Ch. 8). 1his uecaue makes all the uifrerencc. For in 384 sacrilice hau not yet been forbiuuen. Dateu to 384 it simply provides evidence of permissible pagan practices, fiot a pagan "revival," At one stroke 7 pagan revival and pagan revolt for granted). According to Markus, the defeat of what he called "the pagan revolt" in 394 1l could easily have endangered the survival of the classicallearning with which it had been idelltified. In the generation afrer Julian, and especially around the we lose fiot onlyvirtually all the evidence there cverwas foc a pagan revivalin the 3905 turn ofthe century¡ there is a perceptible hardening ofattitude among Western but also foc tbe belief that Flavian was its ringleader and inspiration. 1he only other text that lends any support to the notion ofFlavian as pagan paladin is a single paragraph in RuJinus's Ecdesiastical History, which describes him playing the role of haruspex, examining the entrails of a sheep before tbe battle of the Frigidus. 1his is regularly taken out of its conlext in RUMUS (where it simply balances Rulinus's pie· ture of1heouosius no less improbably preparing for battle by praying to the saints) and treated as proof both of the pagan "revival" and FlaviaIl's fanaticism. 1he exaggerateu attention paid to the Frígidus in modero writings has had anotber unfortunate consequence (Ch. 3). 1he battle has been seen as a dramatic elash between paganism Christians toward classical culture. Classical education haa become linked with pagan religioll in a lIew way. 1he link was forged in the heat of battle. 1he and Christianity, and the condusion drawn that it was Theouosius's victory at the Frigiuus that dealt Roman paganism its deatbblow. 1he pagan revival was ovcr almost fiercely self-eonscious vindication of their claims to sale rightful possessian of cIassical culture struck a new note¡ introduced by the pagan reaetion under JuHan and renewed¡ intensified, in the 380s and 390s. What Christians had been ready to accept before 360, they were to question anxiously foc the next forty or fifty years. This emphasis is, I believe, mistaken. It is true enough thatJulian was happy to exploit the double connotation (both cultand culture) ofthe term "Hellene;' and his short·lived attempt to stop Christians teaching the dassics implied a pagan monopoly on secular as soon as it had begun.12 Tbis means that Roman paganism has becn seen as a culture. But there was never any serious break in the devotion of Christian memhers of phcnomenon that had to be suppressed by force. But there is no contemporary evi- that there is a very general correlatian between Theodosius's victory and the decline of fhe Bastero elite to Greek grammatical, rhetorical, and even philosophical culture. Gregory Nazianzen at once repudiated Julian's attempt to appropriate Hellenism for p~gans, and there is no sigo of the sort of long.term anxiety about elassical culture Markus suggested among cultivated Greek Christians ofthe lifth and sixth centuries. Markuswas certairdyright to draw attention to a marked hostility to "pagan" (better paganism (Ch. 4). More generally, there is not a shreu of eviucnce for the often-re- secular) culture in Jerome, Paulinus of Nola, Augustine, and a few other western peated assertion that the pagan nobility "rallied" to Eugenius's cause. The truth is that Christians (all ofthem highly cultivated men themselves). 1here was indeed a wave of asceticism that swept through the Christian aristocracy in the last decados ofthe fourth dence that anyone saw the dash between Theodosius anu Eugenius as a religious battle at all, and it is most unlikely that the Frigiuus made any difference to the status of paganism at Rome. Since it was already in rapid decline by the 390S, it is not surprising 2. Flavian is the one anu only pagan supporter ofEugenius we can actuaUy name. Flavian is also known to have written a history. Taking bis faoaticism as axiomatic, century. But it is a mistake to cQnnect this hostility on the Christian side with the a Jlood of recent publicatioIls has argued that this lost work "must have beeIl" an attack cultural activities of contemporary pagaos. There is no evidence of any sort that pagaos ChristiilIlity, a majar souree for later historians both Greek anu Latin. But there is itwas a detailed política! narcative rather than the barest of epitomes,like most fourth- themselves felt called upon to defend their culture-or inueed that tbey saw it as "pagan" culture at all rather than the culture shared by all educated people. For while a few prominent Christian intellectuals attacked the elassics (while ostentatiously quot- 00 no reason to believe that it eovered the empire at aH rather than the Republic¡ or that century histories in Latin (Ch. 17-18). Ifit was so inlluential, why uiu not a single word ing them in their own writings), lay Christian members ofthe elite continued to en;oy survive? The most widely held axiom of the "pagan opposition" mouel is that the aristoe- an education that consisted entirely of the classics. Syrnmachus, the ooly pagan aristo- raey of Rome "displayeu their pagan faith along with their attaehment to dassical out to have been less well read than many ofhis Christian peers (Ch. n, 14). 1here is no taste" in the art they patronized anu the literature they stuuied, driven by a eonsuming indication that he saw rumself as a sponsor of a literary reviva! of any sort, much less a passion to preserve anu propagate "pagan" culture.1his is a venerable thesis¡ reformu- pagan revival. Least of all did he champion a revival ofGreek culture (Ch. 15). One of the most endllring (and improbable) assumptions, constantly repeated not only by historians but also in works on the history of scholarship and the lateu in a more sllbtle (but no more cOIlvincing) way by Robert Markus (taking both 11. erat of the periad whose writings allow us to form sorne impression ofhis culture, turns "On que ce réveil palen (lit de courte durée. 11 est incontest,lble que la vir.:toire de Théodo!oe au Frigidus et le suicuie de Nicomaque Flavlen ... ont frappé o'un coup mortel la vlelle rehgion," ChallltagnoI1960, 164. 1). Markus 1974, 131 (my italics).
  9. 9. $ INTRODUCTION Introductioll transrnission of classical tcxts, is that pagan aristocrats of the periad "devoted their amplc leisure ... to reading, copying and editing the texts of the classics."I .. The cvi- assumption that a Christian emperor "must have" wanted to replace the pagan temples of Rome with Christian churches. 18 But it is important to bear in mind Van 8 9 uence-notcs known as "subscriptions" in manuscripts of dassical texts-is abun- Dam's recent warning that "before Constantine was a. Christian emperor, he was a dant, but should be interpreted in an entircIy different and actuaUy t:1f more interesting anu instructivc sense. Jn order to establish this paint 1 have assembled a complete dos- typical emperor."''l1he fact is that he exploited the monumental centre of Rorne as a typical emperor. 10 There was no reason in principIe for pagans to see Constantine's sicr of subscriptions, Greek aS well as Latin, in Christian as well as pagan texts, ano conversion as a threat. Rome had after all absorbed aIle new cult after another over reconsidered the copying and reading oftcxts in late antiquity (Ch. 12-14). tbe centuries. lbe most recent pre~Christian innovatian in the religiaus sphere had Thc traditional intcrpretation ofthese subscriptions has always formed the core of the widespread madcrn belief in a "dassical revival" in late fourth~century Rome, been Aurelian's devotion to the cult of the Sun, which had led lo the building of a splendid new temple, cornmemorative games, and the creation of a new coHege of potltifices¡ subsequently distinguished from the old ones as pontífices SOliS. 11 sponsorcd by literature-Ioving pagan nobles. But it is difficult to know what could constitute anything so general as a "classical" revival. "he most influcntial texts (Vcrgil, Symmachus would surely have been satisfied with a compromise that added a Tercnce, Cicero, Sallust) never feU out of favor anu did not need to be revived. What college of pontifice, Chri,!i. He would not perhaps have wished to join this college did the late fourth century consider dassical? lf thcre was a revival of any period himself, but wowd have been perfectly happy ifhis friend Praetextatus, notoriously of Latin literature during these years J it is what we moderns would caH the post~ classical-Lucan, Statius,]uvenal (Ch. u). The notion of a "classical revival" is partic~ curious about mystery cults, had done so. ularly oear to art historians, who use it to explain any manifestations of"classicizing" age of Constantine has recently been advanced by John Weisweiler. A small group of dedications on the bases of statues erected to fourth~century aristocrats in the Forum stylein the artofthe age (Ch. 19). l1le most IcarneoJ livcly, brilliant, and colorful of my prcdecessors was Anorcw An imporlant new argwnentagainst the idea of a pagan opposition going back to the Romanum or Poruro ofTrajan (the two most important public spaces in late antique Alfóldi, whom 1 was privilegcd to know slightly in his old age. In adoition to an inti~ mate knowlcdge of aH the relevant texts, he was able to adouce as Illuch again from the Rome) include a briefiroperialletter authorizing the award ofthe slatue and praising its recipient.:u The earliest known example is a letter of Constantine granting the statue material culture of the age. 1 do not mysclf believe that more than a fraction of this erected to L. Aradius Proculus wbile prefect ofRome in 337. Then we have the posthu· maus gold statue erected to Avianius Symmachus in 376, where the dedication refers to h material actually belongs to whatAlf61di liked to tbink of as a fierce battle bctween the pagan aristocrats of Rome ano the Christian statc, but it certainly illustrates what an "attached oration" (adposi!a oratione) inscribed on a now lost part of Ihe base. The 1 would prefer to caH the secular culture of the age, a culture that imposeo itself on besl known is the letter ofValentinian III that survives complete on the base of the statue cultivated Christians aud so rightly bclongs in this book. A number of chapters deal with the culture, both literary and artistic, offourth- and early fifth.century Rome. erecled to the elder Plavian in 431, on bis rehabilitation (Ch. 6.3). We also have frag. ments of two further imperialletters on the statue bases of two other fourth-century The l1rst docurnented clash between the senate ofRome and the imperial court prefects ofRome, one ofthem perhaps [Ru]fius [Aibinus], prefect ofRome in 389-91. did not come till 357, when the altar of Victory was l1rst removed from the senate house by Constanlius 11. Yet Alf61di had no doubt that thc hostility of pagan sena- On the dealh of Praelextatus, Symmachus, in bis capacity as city prefect, asked Valentinian II to grant permission for statues to the great man) explicidy requesting tors to Christianity went aH the way back to Constantine. Constantine's conversion, sorne words of praise from the emperor hirnself: "for praise is all the more illustrious J he insisted, "must have hit the Roman aristocracy amazingly hard/ and from that moment theywere engaged in a bitter struggle with one Christian court after anoth- ifitcorncs from a celestial ;udgment" (caelesti ... iudicio: the imperialletter onAvianius Syrnmachus's monument is characterized as a perenne iudicium).13ln light ofthe texts er. According to .Krautheimer, "contemporary writings" suggest that Constantine's lb purpose in building his first large Roman church, S. Giovanni in Laterano, so far from the city centre was "to avoid or minimize friction with a strong pagan opposi~ tion headeu by the senate and old families."17 There are no such writings, just the 14. So even Markus 1974, 1]0, one ofthe mo!ot intelligent !otudents oflilte ilntique culture. IS. $ee hl) delightfullypatronrlingdismlssaJ o1'an e.uly artide ofmine (Altoldi 1965/66,.!I3 n. 111), express· ing: his cllnJldence that 1would soon !oee that he was right. 16. Alfoldi 1937, 1943, 1948, 1951, and many artide!o. 17. R. Kr,lUtheimer 1983, l. t8. Too much attention has been paid to Zosimus's garbled story (ii.19. s, with Paschoud 1000, 134-40; and Fraschetti 1999,76-134) that Constantine rcfuscd to ascend the Capital to sacriJlce and "incurred the hatred of the senate and people," whereupon he decided to found a new capital ofhis own. No one can agree which ofhis three Roman visits is meant bll, 31S, or 316), and the motive for the foundatian of Constantinople is absurdo 19. van Dam 1007, 11. 10. Curran 1000, 71. 11. Watson 1999, Ch. U; unfortunately, nothing remains o1'the temple. n. Weisweiler 1010. 1 am grateful to the author for showmg me a copy of this important paper before publication. :13· Re!. 1:1. 4.
  10. 10. INTRQDUCTION Introductioll assembleu here, there can be little uoubt that Symmachus was asking foc a brief imperial testimonial to inelude on Praetcxtatus's statue base. H In the early empire it was only provincial granJees, people who in the ordinary way would never sce ao emperor, who solicited anu prized lctters from the emperor ano hao them inscrihcu 00 their monuments. Bul by the fourth century, when Roman aristocrats no longer cnjoyed regular intercourse with the normally ahsent emperor, "closeness to imperial power became amare precious cornmodity," and a briefimperial testimonium inscribed on a statue base evidently added to the standing of even the most bluc-blooded aristocrat. What is so intriguing about the surviving texts is that all thase who can be identifico are prominent pagans, people generally thought of as members of a pagan opposition. 1his must be eoincidence¡ we can hardly doubt that similar letters adorned the statue bases of distinguished Christians. But it is nonethe~ less striking tbat members of tbe leamng pagan families of the age all put so high a premium on the commendation ofa now Christian emperor. And scarcely less striking that Christian emperors were so wilUng to llatter the vanity of pagan nobles. All too often crities both ancient and modern have seen the Christianization ofthe Roman world in terms of coniliet. Fiftyyears ago, a famous series oflectures was held at the Warburg Institute under the title The Conjlict between Paganism and Cltristianity in the Fourtlt Celltury.2f> While late antique Christians certainly saw themselves as engaged in a battle with paganism, what is m.uch less dear is whether pagans saw tbemselves fighting a battle against Christianity. 1he miUtary metaphor impUes that one side hopes tovanquish tbe otber. Yetwhile militant Cbristians undoubtedly cher· ished hopes of stamping paganism out, and from the early fifth century on expUcitly worked toward this end (Conclusion), there was no battle tbat pagans either could or perhaps even wanted to win. What sort of"victory" could they have hoped for? Many must have wished that Christianity had never entered the world, but by the 380s no one can have imagined that it would disappear. Most (certainly Syrnmachus, on the evidence of his speech on the altar ofVictory) simply asked for coexistence, to be allowed to maintain the state cults. It is not even certain that all pagans felt it necessary was because Syrnmachus WilS a pagan that Constantius blocked his statues.z' But there isno evidence that Constantius was the guilty party, or, even ifhe was, that his obstruc~ 10 11 tionism was due to the religious factor. It was not till much later that Symmachus emerged (briefly) as a pagan champion. 1he notion that any Christian would rou· Unely do down any pagan (or vice versa) whenever he had a chance is entirely gratu· itous. A subtle artide by John Matthews has shown that, like many other aristocrats, Symmachus was engaged in feuds and quarrels throughout his life, on a variety of issues, social, economic, and purely personal. 28 Pagan aristocrats playa large part in this book. Chapter 1 will justify tbe term "pagan:' Here a fewwords on aristocrats. Both term and concept are modern, with no exact Latin equivalent. 'Ihe dosest is nobilis, variously defined (under the Republic, consuls and descendants of consuIs; in the late empire, consuls or holders ofthe urban or praetorian prefecture). But such definitions do not capture the essence of aristocracy. As Chris Wickham has put it, an aristocrat is "a member of a (normaUy landed) political eUte ... who could wield sorne sort of power simply hecause of who he ... was:'19 Sexo Petronius Probus and QAurelius Symmachus, enormously wealthy Iandowners descended from generations of consuls, were undoubtedly aristocrats on this definition, destined to be VIPs from birtb. But the historian AureUus Victor, who rose from humble beginnings to become prefect ofRome, was noto Despile his illus~ trious office, Probus and Symmachus would not have recognized him as their social peer. A perfect ancient defmition of aristocrat in this sense is offered by the first line of Probus's epitaph: dives OpUtn} clarusquegenus} pmecelsus honore (wealthy, well born and distinguished in rank).'" A new man Uke Victor could laya (rather modest) c1aim to only tbe last of tbese titles. In her comprehensive recent study, Michele Salzman employs the terms "senator" and "aristocrat" interchangeably, at one point explicitly stating that she uses the term rtsenatorial aristocracy ... to refer to all holders of the senatorial rank of darissimus."·u While perfectly acceptable in itself, this usage blurs the distinction between run-of-the~mill senators and the old aristocracy, a distinction that is important for this succes~ to maintain blood sacrifice (Ch. 2. 4). More than a century ago Samuel Dill justly remarked that "it would be a mistake book. By ca. 400 new policies initiated by Constantine and continued by bis to suppose that in gelleralsociety the line between the two camps was sharply drawn."2b in each half ofthe empire leading more or less directly to senatorial status."31 'Ihe many Iguoring this warning, many scholars have assumed that pagans and Christians were newer members were inevitably of more modest stock, less likely than scioos of noble constantly at each other's throats. One trivial illustration. Syrnmachus was annoyed when what he describes as Ujealousy or ingratitude" robbed him of the normal honor families to hew to the traditional cults. 33 More important, it was seioos of the noble families who monopoUzed the many priesthoods in the traditional cults (Ch. 4). So sors had enormously expanded the senate, until"there were something like 3000 jobs of public statues after his proconsular year in Africa (373/74). His successor, Pautus Constantius, as it happens, is k.nown to have been a Christian. So it is assumed that it 2.4. Presumably thc emperor someLimet. granled the request wlthoUl induding words of suitablc for inscription. 2.5. Momigh.ll1o 1963. 2.6. Dill1899, ll.. '2.7. Ep. IX. 115i so Chastagnol1962., against, Matthews 1971, ll.1-2.3. 2.8. Matthews in Paschoud 1986, 163-75; see too Sogno 2.006. 19. Gelzer 1969; Barnes 1974, 444-49; Badel2.005, 90-94i Wickham 2.005, 153-2.57 at 153· 30. eLE 1347; Trout 2.000. 31. Salzman 1.002., 4, anJ passim. 31. Heather, in CAH 13(1998), 191; for a useful summary ofthe evidence, Chastagnol1976¡ 51-69. 33- As recognized by Salzman 2.002., 14.