The Last Pagans of Rome

Paperback | May 22, 2013

byAlan Cameron

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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 apowerful 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 toChristianity. 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 AmmianusMarcellinus), 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, TheLast Pagans of Rome overturns many long-held assumptions about pagan and Christian culture in the late antique West.

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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 apowerful and active force well into the fifth centu...

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.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:896 pages, 10 × 7 × 0.68 inPublished:May 22, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199959706

ISBN - 13:9780199959709

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Table of Contents

1. Pagans and Polytheists2. From Constantius to Theodosius3. The Frigidus4. Pagan Priests and Initiates5. Pagan Converts6. Pagan Writers7. Macrobius and the "Pagan" Culture of his Age8. The Poem against the Pagans9. Other Christian Invectives10. The Real Circle of Symmachus11. The "Pagan" Literary Revival12. Correctors and Critics I13. Correctors and Critics II14. The Livian Revival15. Greek Texts and Latin Translation16. Pagan Scholarship: Vergil and his Commentators17. The Annales of Nicomachus Flavianus I18. The Annales of Nicomachus Flavianus II19. Classical Revivals20. The Historia AugustaConclusionAppendix: The Poem against the Pagans