The Truth of Janet Mefferd’s “Pagan Plot” To Wipe Out Christianity

Oct 05 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Right Wing Watch has caught another wannabe martyr. Janet Mefferd, like so many fundamentalists today, is anxious to spread the meme that Christianity is under attack by a nebulous “Pagan” enemy.  Hardly a day goes by when there is not another reference to Pagans and Paganism and the threat it poses to Christianity and to “Judeo-Christian” values.

Mefferd had this to say:

Mefferd: I think the homosexuality issue is an excuse, I think it’s an excuse. I think it’s an excuse of the pagan mind to begin what they have wanted to do for a very long time and that is to wipe out Christianity. Maybe that’s overstated, maybe I’m being a little bit over the top, but I really don’t think so. I think it’s an excuse. I think it’s the pagan who doesn’t want to hear about sin. I think it’s the pagan who doesn’t want the word of God to be believed by anybody because it’s an offense. And I think homosexuality is the perfect issue for them to use to shut Christians up.

It must be borne in mind that by use of the term “Pagan” Mefferd is, like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and centuries of Christians before her, including all non-Christians under the umbrella of Paganism. This therefore includes not only those often styled “neo-Pagans”, polytheistic reconstructionists and revivalists (like myself) but feminists, the LGBT community, secularists, atheists, etc. Everyone who is not one of them is a Pagan.

Obviously, at no point in history has there been a plot (by anyone) to wipe out Christianity (scholars recognize that until the mid-third century there was not even one government-sponsored attack on Christianity let alone centuries of persecution) and there is none now. Unfortunately, simply declining to be persecuted apparently makes a person a persecutor of Christianity. Declining to allow them to spread their hate is apparently itself hate. It’s a weird and wacky world fundamentalist Christians inhabit. Sadly, we get to share it with them.

I thought I would present the true history of who persecuted whom, taking the period from the fourth to the ninth centuries as my example. As you will be able to see, people did not exactly flock to become Christians and had to be forced to it, and that the process took many centuries, beyond even the point at which this list ends. And clearly, undeniably, the persecutors were fundamentalist Christians. Though this list ends with the ninth century, the persecutions continued for centuries after in northern and eastern Europe.

The idea that Christians persecuted Pagans is a fairly new one in the world of scholarship. Ramsay MacMullen dates its inception to 1986 with Noethlichs and says that “Christian readiness for action carried to no matter what extremes has not always received the acknowledgment it deserves in modern accounts of the period” and that “prior to the 1980s, readers will be hard put to find Firmicus’ word ‘persecution’ describing the conduct of the Christian empire toward its non-Christian subjects.” He notes that R.M. Price in 1993 attributes the “‘absence of continuous religious strife’ to ‘a general determination in Late Roman society to minimize the diviseness of religious differences’ (yes, by extermination).” It is almost a certainty that most Christians are unaware of this process of genocide carried out by their religion.[1]

In the end, neither alleged (but wholly mythical) social egalitarianism nor thirst for a superior religious experience drove conversion in the fourth century; fear did. Ramsay MacMullen has noted the penalties and incentives used by the Christian authorities to speed conversion:

Government…at the urging of the bishops weighed in with threats, and more than threats, of fines, confiscation, exile, imprisonment,flogging, torture, beheading, and crucifixion. What more could be imagined? Nothing. The extremes of conceivable pressure were brought to bear. Thus, over the course of many centuries, compliance was eventually secured and the empire made Christian in truth.[2]

What this list demonstrates is not only the long history of persecution of ethnic religion in the Christian Roman Empire, but also the enduring nature of Paganism in the face of these persecutions.

This list is doubly frightening because this is precisely what  today’s fundamentalists wish to do to today’s “Pagans”.

Note: All dates given are C.E. (Common Era).


The Genocide of Polytheism (4th to 9th Centuries)
Date Event
Constantine announces that his victory over Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge outside Rome was due to the intervention of the Christian god.
Edict of Milan issued by the tetrarchs Constantine (the Great) and Licinius, proclaiming the Roman Empire neutral in matters of religion, stating that “we have also conceded
to other religions the right of open and free observance of their worship for the sake of the peace of our times, that each one may have the free opportunity to worship as he pleases; this regulation is made we that we may not seem to detract from any dignity or any religion” (Lactantius, De Mort. Pers., ch. 48). A panegyric of this year
by an unknown author, celebrating Constantine’s triumph over Maxentius, refers to
Paganism as superstitiosa maleficia.
The Council of Ancyra denounces the worship of Goddess Artemis.
The writing of Eusebius’ Demonstratio Evangelica (The Proof of the Gospel) in 20 books, of which 10 remain. The Demonstratio is the completion of the Praeparatio (Preparation for the Gospel) in 15 books, written c. 314, the purpose of which was “to show the nature of Christianity to those who know not what it means” Demonstratio took this process
a step further; it is for “those who have passed beyond this, and are already in a state prepared for the reception of the higher truths.”
Athanasius writes Against the Gentiles (Another date put forward is the period of his exile in Trier (335-337).
Law of Constantine prohibits private consultation of soothsayers (haurspices) but permits public acts of divination. The correct date is either 1 September 319 or 1 February 320 (C.Th. 9.16.1).
25 December 323
Law of Constantine ordering that Christians not be forced to take part in lustral sacrifices (C.Th. 16.2.5): “Christians shall not be forced into participating in pagan practices; anyone who forces a Christian into such an act shall be publicly beaten, unless he holds an honorable rank, in which case he will be fined and the money given to the state treasury.” This law refers to Paganism as an “alien superstition”! An odd term to use for what is, in fact, indigenous religious practices, while it is Christianity that is the alien superstition. A neat piece of normative inversion.
Constantine defeats Licinius and becomes sole Emperor of Rome. “By this course he drew upon himself the emperor Constantine’s heaviest displeasure; and they became enemies, the pretended treaty of friendship between them having been violated. Not long afterwards they took up arms against each other as declared enemies. And after
several engagements both by sea and land, Licinius was at last utterly defeated near Chrysopolis in Bithynia, a port of the Chalcedonians, and surrendered himself to Constantine.” (Socrates Scholasticus, Eccl. His. 1.4) Licinius goes into exile at Thessalonica. As Socrates Scholasticus goes on to say, “Constantine thus became possessed of the sole dominion, and was accordingly proclaimed sovereign Autocrat, and again sought to promote the welfare of Christians. This he did in a variety of
ways, and Christianity enjoyed unbroken peace by reason of his efforts.
” (1.4). Constantine banned sacrifices, the erection of cult statues and the consultation of oracles (Eusebius EHII.45).At this point, when Christianity was made the official state religion (see Eusebius EH II.24-60), Christians accounted for no more than five to ten percent of the population of the Roman Empire and were, in the west especially, a tiny minority religion.
Constantine orders the strangulation of Licinius despite having publicly promised not to execute him after his surrender the year before. Socrates Scholasticus (1.4) claims Constantine killed Licinius in response to Licinius’ gathering of barbarian mercenaries
in order “to repair his late disaster by a fresh appeal to arms.”
Constantine begins his rebuilding of Byzantium into “New Rome” conceived as not only the new capital of the Roman Empire to replace old Rome, but also as a Christian city.[3]
Eusebius publishes his Historia Ecclesiastica in which he says “that from that time seditions and wars and mischievous plots followed each other in quick succession, and never ceased in the city and in all Judea until finally the siege of Vespasian overwhelmed
them. Thus the divine vengeance overtook the Jews for the crimes which they dared to commit against Christ.” (Hist. Eccles. II.6: The Misfortunes which overwhelmed the Jews after their Presumption against Christ)[4]
In 326 Constantine, the first Christian emperor, known to Christians as “the Great”, who according to Eusebius led a “godly life” (Eusebius, Vita Constantini 1.3) murdered his eldest son Crispus on the flimsiest prextext – and without trial or hearing – and then a few months later his wife, Fausta.
9 May 328
Athanasius becomes bishop of Alexandria, succeeding Alexander. Athanasius was to later be Deacon at the Council of Nicea and was a violent foe of Arianism Later in the same year, Constantine recalls Arius from Illyria. During his term as Patriarch there, along
with the standard method of excommunication he used beatings, intimidation,
kidnapping and imprisonment to silence his theological opponents.
Unsurprisingly, these tactics caused widespread distrust and led him to being tried many times for “bribery, theft, extortion, sacrilege, treason and murder. He justified these tactics by saying he was saving future Christians from hell.
11 May 330
Dedication of New Rome (Constantinople) “At the dedication of Constantinople in 330 a ceremony half Pagan and half Christian was performed, in the market place, the Cross of Christ was placed over the head of the Sun-God’s chariot. There was a singing of hymns.” (New Catholic Encyclopedia 1908),
Birth of the Emperor Julian (Flavius Claudius Julianus)
Execution of the neoplatonist philosopher Sopatros, disciple of the great Iamblichos, who had gone to Constantinople to restrain Constantine from his anti-Pagan policies, on the orders of Constantine, a victim of court intrigues that saw him accused of “fettering” the winds. An inscription from Hispellum in Umbria granting permission for thetown to celebrate spectacles refers to Paganism as “contagious superstition.”
Julian witnesses the murder of his family by his Christian cousin, the Emperor Constantius II.
A code this year is the first to ban pagan sacrifice (C.Th. 16.10.2.).
It was issued by Emperor Constans in the West: “Superstition shall cease; the madness of sacrifices shall be abolished. For if any man in violation of the law of the sainted Emperor, Our father, and in violation of this command of Our Clemency, should dare to perform sacrifices, he shall suffer the infliction of a suitable punishment and the effect of an immediate sentence.”
A decree issued to Catullinus, Prefect of Rome states that “all superstitions must be completely eradicated.” Rome, at this time, is still a Pagan city; Catullinus decides to treat “superstition” as the old form and applies it to divination. Pagan sacrifice continued in Rome from 340 to 363 (see Amm. Marc. (359 CE); Zos.Hist. Nova 4.3.2-3 (363-364 CE).
1 December 346
Emperors Constantius and Constans order the praetorian prefect to close all temples
“in all places and cities” and that access to them be forbidden in order to deny men the opportunity to sin. Sacrifice is forbidden and any caught in the act “shall be struck down with avenging sword” and their property confiscated. To put teeth into the edict, governors of provinces are made subject to the same punishment if they
fail to “avenge such crimes.” The crime was Pagan sacrifice, an act which, interestingly, required an act of vengeance, apparently on behalf of “God” – who apparently is incapable, despite all consuming power, of acting on his own (C. Th. 16.10.4). This law was repeated in 354 or 356.
Pope Julius I orders Christmas to be celebrated on December 25. Firmicus Maternus finishes his De Errore Profanarum Religionum in which he urges the emperors to use the power of the state to eradicate what he calls “superstitio” (Paganism – a new use for this term, which previously applied to an “unreasonable fear of the divine” – Christianity. Firmicus says, “whoever takes pleasure in the contagion of this superstition, is either seeking solace for his own troubles or else is praising the misdeeds of the gods” (12:1).
23 November 353
Nocturnal sacrifices are prohibited (C. Th. 16.10.5)
19 or 20 February 356
Constintius issues a clarification that specifically prohibited the adoration of cult images: “If any person shall be proved to devote their attention to sacrifices or to worship images, We command that they shall be subjected to capital punishment.”
(C. Th. 16.10.6).
First removal of the Altar of Victory from the Senate house by Constantius II on his visit to Rome. Constantius did not touch the priesthood and even performed some of the duties of the office.[5]
From 357-358 comes a barrage of legislation which “proscribed sorcery and divination: soothsayers, readers of entrails, astrologers, augurers, and sorcerers were denied the right to practice.”[6]
11 December 361
Emperor Julian issues his edict of tolerance in Constantinople which decreed the reopening of pagan temples, the restitution of alienated temple properties, and called back Christian bishops that were exiled by church edicts.
Winter 362/63
Julian writes Against the Galileans, in 3 books (of which one survives) in which he says that “the fabrication of the Galilaeans is a fiction of men composed by wickedness.” Libanius, pagan philosopher, in the Epitaph on Julian, states that the attack
on Christian doctrines was composed in the long nights of winter, i. e. 362-363, at Antioch, where he spent the winter with Julian. In the fifth century Cyril of Alexandria (writing c. 429-441 CE) regarded the treatise as peculiarly dangerous, and said that it had shaken many believers.”
An Imperial Edict of 11 September orders the death penalty for all Gentiles that worship their ancestral Gods or practice Divination (“sileat omnibus perpetuo divinandi curiositas“). Three different edicts (4th February, 9th September, 23rd December)
order the confiscation of all properties of the pagan Temples and the death penalty for participation in pagan rituals, even private ones.
September 364
Praetextatus, proconsul of Achaea, and a Pagan, successfully opposes Valentinian I’s law against nocturnal rites.
17 November 365
An Imperial edict forbids the Gentile officers of the army to command Christian soldiers.
New prohibition of all Divination methods. The term “pagan” (pagani, villagers) is introduced by the Christians to replace use of the term “Gentiles.”
January 379
Theodosius (who had been magister militum per Illyricum from 376 until 19 January 379, made emperor of the eastern empire by Gratian following death of Valens at Adrianpole (August 378). At this point, Christians made up no more than twenty percent of the population.
August 379
Gratian and Theodosius issue a joint edict which proclaims Nicene Christianity.
January 380
Damasus “lived to welcome the famous edict of Theodosius I, “De fide Catholica” (27 Feb., 380) (Catholic Encylopedia) issued in Thessalonika, which says “All the various nations which are subject to our clemency and moderation should continue in the profession of that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter.” In this edict, non-Christians are called “loathsome, heretics, stupid and
blind” and Christianity is made the official religion of the Roman Empire.
January 381
Theodosius issues an epistula (a formal decree) to Eutropius, the Prefect of Illyricum (the area once comprised by modern Yugoslavia) ordering that from now on only Nicene Christianity was to be permitted. Everything else was heresy. By July 381 this decree applies to the entire empire. This edict effectively brought to and end the ancient polytheistic concepts of freedom of speech and thought.[7]
2 May 381
Theodosius deprives of rights all Christians who revert to pagan belief. In all the Eastern Empire the Pagan Temples and Libraries are looted or burned down. On 21st December, Theodosius outlaws even the simple visits to the Temples of the Hellenes. In Constantinople, the Temple of Goddess Aphrodite is turned into a brothel and the Temples of Sun and Artemis is put to use as stables.
21 December 381
Emperor Theodosius outlaws visits to Pagan temples.
Gratian confidscates income-producing property from the temples and withdraws the funds which support the public cults of the Roman state. Moreover, he orders the altar of victory removed from the Senate house
Gratian rejects the title of Pontifex Maximus the first emperor to do so. He was forced to do so by the position he had put himself in when he withdrew support for the public cults.[8]
Gratian dies when a general revolts and Symmachus wrote that in his opinion many of the gods were punishing Rome for the attack on the national religion.
Emperor Theodosius orders the Praetorian Prefect Maternus Cynegius, a dedicated Christian, to cooperate with local bishops and destroy the temples of the pagans in Northern Greece and Minor Asia.
Bauto, the most powerful man in Valentinian II’s court (who succeeded Gratian) and who is a pagan, appoints Praetextatus praefectus praetorio (Praetorian Prefect) for Italy and Symmachus praefectus urbi (City Prefect) for Rome. Praetextatus obtains from Valentinian II an edict by which the emperor empowered the praetorian prefect to investigate spoliations (we would say vandalism) of public buildings (i.e. Pagan temples)
(Symm., rel. XXI)
Praetextatus dies late in the year, depriving the pagan party of its leader. He was to have been consul for 385. Symmachus, as leader of the Pagan party in Rome, argues for status quo and nothing else.[9]
John Chrysostom, in Antioch, orders Christmas to be celebrated by the Christian community there on December 25.
18 June 386
Emperor Theodosius outlaws the care of the sacked Pagan temples.
The complaint of Pagan orator Libanius to the emperor about gangs of monks
who wander the Syrian countryside “tearing down statues and throwing down altars.” Libanius rightly calls them bandits, plundering on the pretext that they are suppressing Paganism (Libanius Or. 30.8-9).
Christians, acting on the instigation of the local bishop, set fire to a synagogue in
Syrian Callinicum. About the same time, monks burn a meeting place of the Valentinian Gnostic sect . The emperor Theodosius orders the bishop of Callinicum to pay for the repair of the synagogue but “Saint” Ambrose intervenes, chastising the
emperor for “valuing mere disciplina above the sacred cause of religion” (Ambrose Epp. 40 and 41). Ambrose told the gullible emperor that his predecessor Maximus’ downfall had been due to “God” becoming angry because he ordered a synagogue in
Rome (also destroyed by Christians) be rebuilt at Christian expense.[10]
16 June 388
“There shall be no opportunity for any man to go out to the public and to argue about religion or to discuss it or to give any counsel. If any person hereafter with flagrant and damnable audacity, should suppose that he may contravene any law of this kind or if he should dare to persist in his action of ruinous obstinacy, he shall be restrained
with a due penalty and proper punishment” (C. Th. 16.4.2)
Both consuls for 391, Symmachus and Tatian, are Pagans but Theodosius refuses to restore the public cults
391 or 392
Marcellus, bishop of Apamea, as usual using imperial troops to cow the Pagan populace, destroys the Temple of Zeus in that city. The date of this event is uncertain; Theodoret HE 5.21 places it immediately before the Serapeum’s destruction in 391.
24 February 391
Emperor Theodosius outlaws blood sacrifice and declares that “no one is to go to the sanctuaries, walk through the temples, or raise his eyes to statues created by the labor of man”. The eternal fire in the Temple of Vesta in the Roman Forum was extinguished, and the Vestal Virgins were disbanded. (C. Th. 16.10.10)
11 May 391
A few months after his first decree, Theodosius directs a severe law against apostates from the Christian religion to the praetorian prefect, Flavianus, who was himself a Pagan (C. Th. 16.7.4,5). A week later, from Aquileia, he issues a stern antipagan
law for Egypt (C. Th. 16.10.11) “No person shall be granted the right to perform sacrifices; no person shall go around the temples; no person shall revere the shrines.” This edict results in the destruction of the famous Serapeum in Alexandria by Bishop Theophilus (Socrates EH 5.16 – written in 440).
19 May 391
Christian oppression of religious alternatives did not ignore heretics: “We order that the pollution contagions of the heretics shall be expelled from the cities and driven forth from the villages. No opportunity shall be available to them for any gathering, so that in no place may a sacriligious cohort of such men be collected. No conventicles, either public or hidden, shall be granted to the perversity of such persons as retreats for their false doctrines” (C.Th. 16.5.20).
Theodosius orders the destruction of the Serapeum (Greek Serapeion) of Alexandria (built by Ptolemy III (reigned 246-222 BCE) Theophilus, patriarch of Alexandria, carries out the destruction of the Serapeum and other pagan temples in the city. The Gentiles,
led by the philosopher Olympius, revolt and after some street fights they lock themselves inside the fortified Temple of God Serapis. After a violent siege, the Christians take over the building, demolish it, burn its famous Library and profane the cult images. J.B. Bury’s verdict: “The account of Sozomen, vii.15, is better than that of Socrates, v.16, 17. See also Eunapius, ib. The pagans were not guiltless in this affair. They had attacked the Christians and fortified themselves in the buildings of the Serapeum; but they had been provoked to this outbreak by Theophilus, who had paraded rely symbols, than from a
temple of Dionysus (which the Emperor had permitted him to convert into a church), through the streets in derision of the pagan cults. The most unfortunate occurrence was the destruction of the library of the Serapeum” (Orosius, vi.15).[11]
Marcellus, bishop of Apamea, tries to destroy one temple too many and earns a well-deserved death. This time, even the fear of imperial troops is not enough to hold back the outraged Pagans. Sozomen tells us that Marcellus “having heard that there was a very spacious temple at Aulon, a district of Apamea, he repaired thither with a body of soldiers and gladiators” (note here that not only did the Christians not abolish gladiatorial contests, but they even employed gladiators as private armies – another myth
abolished!). The soldiers and gladiators attacked the temple and some Pagans, finding the criminal bishop alone, seized him and burnt him alive (Sozomon HE 7.15.
April 392
The law restricting monks to the desert is repealed, enabling a renewed assault on Pagan holy sites.
22 August 392
Revolt in the Western Empire of magister militum Arbogast and Flavius Eugenius. Eugenius was most likely at least nominally a Christian but with pagan sympathies and immediately restored the Altar of Victory to the Senate House in Rome (Ambrose Ep. 57; Sozomen 7.22). He also provided funds to the temple to Hercules in Ostia and
to rededicate the temple of Venus at Rome. (John F. Matthews, Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court A.D. 364-425 (Oxford, 1975), 241ff ). Eugenius was a former teacher of grammar and rhetoric, and had been magister scrinorum sometime before 392, and had become Arbogast’s confidant after being introduced to him by Arbogast’s uncle Richomer
(Zosimus 4.54; Socrates 5.25). Bloch suggests that the pagan Tatian, praefectus praetorio Orientis to the Christian Rufinus, might have motivated Arbogast to act in self-preservation.[12]
8 November 392
Theodosius outlaws all the non-Christian rituals and names them “superstitions of the gentiles” (gentilicia superstitio). Even private worship is prohibited, including every symbol of Paganism, even on household altars: “No one, under any cirumstances, is permitted to sacrifice an innocent victim nor, as a less serious sacrilege, to worship one’s lares with fire, one’s genius with uncut wine, one’s penates with perfume, to light lamps, waft incense, or hang garlands.” The gods are re-classified as “evil spirits.”(C. Th. 16.10.12) New full scale persecutions are ordered against pagans. The Mysteries
of Samothrace are ended and the priests slaughtered. In Cyprus the local bishop “Saint” Epiphanius and “Saint” Tychon destroy almost all the temples of the island and exterminate thousands of non-Christians. The local Mysteries of goddess Aphrodite are ended. Theodosius’s edict declares: “the ones that won’t obey pater Epiphanius have no right to keep living on the island”. The Gentiles revolt against the Emperor and the Church in Petra, Aeropolis, Rafia, Gaza, Baalbek and other cities of the Middle East.
Last Olympic Games of Antiquity. Theodosius bans the Olympic, Pythian and Aktian games and the dating by Olympiads comes to an end. The Olympic Games had been celebrated for over a thousand years in honor of Zeus.
5-6 September 394
Battle of Frigidus in Italy (on the border of modern Italy and Slovenia). Theodosius defeats Arbogast and Eugenius. Arbogast commits suicide. Eugenius is captured and executed (6 Sept. 394). When Arbogast led his army north in 394 to meet Theodosius’ troops, he and Flavianus the Elder had threatened to stable the horses of the army in the basilica of the Church of Milan and enroll the clergy in the military when Eugenius returned victorious (Paulinus, Vita sancti Ambrosii 31 ). Instead, the reign of Eugenius marked the last serious organized attempt at organized resistance among the pagan
Roman senatorials to the Christianization of the Empire.
July 3 395
A new law reminds everyone of a previous law (which we no longer possess) that made all Pagan festival days non-holidays.(C.Th. 2.8.22)
7 August 395
Pagan sacrifices are no longer permitted. People are required to obey previously enacted laws against heretics and Pagans and governors and members of the imperial staff who fail to enforce these laws will be punished (C.Th. 16.10.13).
3 September 395
Emperors Arcadius and Honorius inform the Proconsul of Asia that those who deviate “even in a minor point of doctrine” are to be considered heretics and subject to the sanctions already in force against heretics (C.Th. 16.5.28).
The Eleusinian mysteries cease from the consequences of Alaric’s invasion of Greece, though Eunapius (Vita Maximi) suggests that the destruction was wrought by a band of fanatical monks who accompanied the Gothic army. Athens was said to have been saved
from the rapacity of the Goths by the appearance of Athene Promachos and the hero Achilles.[13]
March 396
Christians who return to Paganism lose the right to beequeath property in their wills to anyone outside of their family: parents, siblings, children, or grandchildren. (C.Th. 16.7.6) This is further evidence of the tendency of converted Pagans to return to traditional cults.
December 396
Old privileges still enjoyed by old priesthoods are abolished on the grounds that their profession is now condemned. (C.Th. 16.10.14)
7 December 396
Eastern Roman Emperor Arcadius declares that Paganism is high treason.
Three Christian missionaries sent to proselytize the Anaunia valley (modern Val di Non), a Pagan area, are burnt alive and as quickly proclaimed martyrs (the incident is mentioned by Augustine, Ep. 139). Maximus, Bishop of Milan, complained in a sermon that they were killed “because the sacriligious were being rebuked for not being Christians and devout persons” (Sermon 106).
The Fourth Church Council of Carthage prohibits to everybody, including to the Christian bishops, the study of the books of the Gentiles. Porphyrius, bishop of Gaza, demolishes almost all the Pagan Temples of his city (except 9 of them that remain active). Emperor Arcadius, when asked to order the destruction of Gaza’s temples, had at first refused on the basis that the local Pagans were “peaceful subjects and taxpayers” (Mark the Deacon, Life of Porphyry of Gaza 41) but religious zealotry triumphed over the law.
10 July 399
Arcadius, under the influence of Chrysostom, issued an edict to destroy, not merely to close, temples in the country and to use the material for public buildings.(C.Th. 16.10.16)
Bury observes: “The ordinances of Theodosius did not, of course, avail immediately to stamp out everywhere the forbidden cults. Pagan practices still went on secretly, and in some places openly, and the government, generally perhaps yielding to ecclesiastical pressure, issued from time to time new laws to enforce the execution of the old or to supplement them. Arcadius, under the influence of Chrysostom, issued an edict to destroy, not merely to close, temples in the country and to use the material for public buildings. Chrysostom sent monks to Phoenicia to carry out the work of destruction there, but the money required was provided not by the state but by pious Christians, especially
August 399
It is ruled that temples which do not contain illegal objects (statues and altars) may not be destroyed but that idols shall be taken down and those performing sacrifices will be punished (C.Th. 16.10.18.).
Imperial officials Gaudentius and Jovius demolish the temples of Carthage (Augustine, City of God 18.54). In the same year, Augustine oversees the destruction of “idols” at Mappalia, near Carthage, on lands given to the Church by the formerly Pagan owner upon his conversion (Augustine, Sermon 62.17-18). At Sufes, also in North Africa, Christians destroy a cult statue of Hercules, and the Pagan reaction leaves 60 Christians dead (Augustine, Ep. 50). The sixty are, in an obscene reversal of justice, remembered by the Catholic Church as martyrs on 30 August.
Bishop Nicetas destroys the Oracle of the God Dionysus in Vesai and baptises all the Gentiles of this area.
Despite anti-Pagan legislation, celebratory crowds as the new century began “were strong in numbers. No denunciation to the authorities by some personal enemy or zealot could have much disturbed them. Nothing less than a cavalry charge could have cleared them away. As long as a critical mass of co-religionists could still be gathered at the traditional
time of the year, mindful of their ancestral ways, there was not much anyone could do about it.”[15] Indeed, despite almost a century of legal enactments and repression, the majority religion of the Roman Empire was still Pagan, and Christianity was a minority.
Spring 401
“Porphyrius, the bishop of Gaza, with other clergy of that diocese, visited Constantinople in the spring of A.D. 401, to persuade the government to take strong measures for the suppression of pagan practices. For the citizens of Gaza still obstinately held
to the worship of their old deities, Aphrodite, the Sun, Persephone, and above all Marnas, the Cretan Zeus.” In particular, the Christian delegation wanted the emperor to order the destruction of the Temple of Zeus Marnas. The unscrupulous Christians obtained an audience with the emperor Eudoxia and unscruplously promised the pregnant woman a male child if she would use her influence for them. Fortunately, in this instance, at least, rather than destroying his tax base, the emperor decides to restrict Gaza’s Pagans from public office and to close up the temples Stones from the sanctuary of Zeus Marnas are reused as paving stones in order to desecrate them..[16]
The Christian mob of Carthage lynches Gentiles and destroys Temples and “idols”. In Gaza too, the local bishop (also a..”Saint”) Porphyrius sends his followers to lynch Gentiles and to demolish the remaining 9 still active Temples of the city. The 15th
Council of Chalcedon orders all the Christians that still keep good relations with their gentile relatives to be excommunicated (even after their death).
January 402
The male child Eudoxia was promised by Porphyry is us baptized. In a mockery of justice, the petition formerly rejected by Arcadius is brought before the infant. The bearer “who was in on the charade, glanced at the petition, raised the child’s head with his hand, and proclaimed: ‘His majesty ordains that whatever is in this petition shall be granted.'” The emperor soon discovered what had happened but allowed himself to be persuaded because “the lady empress nagged him incessantly.” The appropriate legislation was soon drafted and a certain zealous Christian named Cynegius, a member of the imperial advisory council, was sent to Gaza with orders to “demolish to their foundations all temples of idols.” Cynegius was given troops to cow the Pagan population.
On the site of the Temple of Zeus Marnas the criminals built a Christian basilica, generously funded by the empress.[17]
At the time Honorius visited Rome, following Stilicho’s repulse of Alaric in 403, “The temples of the gods stood still unharmed, but derelict; more than twenty years before the altar of Victory had been removed from the Senate-house. Some distinguished senatorial
families had been converted from their errors, like the Anicii and the p164 Bassi, but the greater number of the senators were still devoted to paganism and would have welcomed a new Julian on the Imperial throne.”[18]
Chrysostom, who would later use monks as storm troopers (see below) found cause to
complain about their behavior at Cappadocian Caesarea, soldiers who sought refuge with him calling the monks “wild beasts” (Chrysostom, Letters of Olympias 14.2).
Chrysostom sent monks to Phoenicia to carry out the work of destruction there, but the money required was provided not by the state but by pious Christians, especially women. Theodoret v.9.[19]
Great Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, burned down by the Christians. Some time after this, the base of the statue was reused (a common practice) and scratched upon it was the verse, “Destroying the deceitful
figure of the demon Artemis, Demeas raised this monument of truth, the cross of God that drives away idols…”[20]
Emperors Arcadius, Honorius, and Theodosius II issue legislation which states “It shall in no wise be permitted to hold convivial banquets in honor of sacrilegious rites in such funereal places [as temples, honoring not the living but only ‘dead’ gods], or to celebrate any solemn ceremony. We grant to bishops of such places the right to use ecclesiastical power to prohibit such practices” and imperial governors were ordered to support them.(C.Th.
The legislation of the previous year (C.Th. is repeated.
The Emperor of the Western Empire Honorius and the Emperor of the Eastern Empire Arcadius order together all the sculptures of the Pagan Temples to be either destroyed or to be taken away. Private ownership of pagan sculpture is also outlawed. The local bishops lead new heavy persecutions against the Gentiles and new book burning.
The judges that have pity for the Gentiles are also persecuted. In Calama, North
Africa, protesting Pagans burn a church. Despite claims made elsewhere of a massacre
of Pagans, only one person is known to have died (for Calama, see Austustine, Ep. 90 and 91, 103 and 104).
“A law issued at Ravenna in 408 excluded enemies of the Catholic faith from serving in the Palace, but was probably applied only temporarily.” C.Th. 16.5.42[20]. The move did not remain temperory. See the entry for 415.
1 February 409
Astrologers are to be expelled and exiled unless they burn their books in the presence of a bishop and convert to Christianity (C.Th. 9.16.12).
Of a Pagan ritual in Calama, in the province of Africa Procunsularis, Augustine
writes, “At the June 1st festival the impious ceremony of the pagans was celebrated without hindrance from anyone with such impudent audacity as was not ventured in Julian’s day: An aggressive crowd of dancers in this precinct passed directly in front of the church. doors. And when the clergy attempted to prevent such an outrageous thing, the Church was stoned” (Augustine, Ep. 91.8.)
August 410
Sack of Rome by Alaric and the Visigoths. Pelagius flees to Carthage with his supporter Caelestius. Augustine begins writing City of God. J.B. Bury says of Augustine, “It is to be observed that Augustine regarded the virtues of the pagans as vices, because
vera religio was absent “(xix c25).[22]
August 410
Law against “enemies of the sacred law”who are to be punished by proscription and blood if they continue to publically assemble (C.Th. 16.5.51).
Rabbula, future bishop of Edessa, in the words of one scholar, “a fanatical Christian who persecuted all those who had other ideas, such as diophysites and other heretics,” as well as Jews in company with a monk named Eusebius, future bishop of Tella, travel to Baalbek (Heliopolis) in Lebanon (Phoenicia Libanensis) in order to seek martyrdom by attacking the Pagan cult images of that city. Rather than being killed, they were severely beaten.[23]
“Near Canopus there was a temple of Isis where such nocturnal cures were dispensed, and professing Christians continued to have recourse to this unhallowed aid. The Patriarch Cyril found a remedy. He discovered the bodies of two martyrs, Cyrus and John, in the church of St. Mark at Alexandria, and dislodging Isis he interred
them, and dedicated a church to them, in the same place, where they freely exhibited the same mysterious medical powers which had been displayed by the great goddess.”[24]
30 August 415
Pagan priests in North Africa must abandon metropolitan cities and return to their ancestral cities before the kalends of November or be punished.
Throughout the empire, any place formerly devoted to Pagan worship is given to the church and anything which leads men to worship the gods is removed (C.Th. 16.10.20).
7 December 415 or 416
Persons polluted with errors of Pagan rites were excluded from state service, (C.Th. 16.10.21). The law was apparently effective, as only three Pagans can be identified as holding high office during the reign of Theodosius II (from 408).[25]
Shortly before the murder of Hypatia, Cyril, who was sainted by the Catholic Church (which still defends his reputation) exhorted the Christian population of Alexandria to massacre the Jews and plunder their property (Socrates EH 7.13-14). In the words of Bury: “At this juncture 500 monks of Nitria, sniffing the savour of blood and bigotry from afar, hastened to the scene. These fanatics insulted Orestes (who was a Pagan) publicly,
one of them hitting him with a stone; in fact the governor ran a serious risk of his life. The culprit who hurled the missile was executed, and Cyril treated his body as the remains of a martyr.” [26]
March 415
Murder of Hypatia of Alexandria, by a Christian mob led by a lector named Peter, who “waylaid her returning home, and dragging her from her carriage, they took her to the church called Caesareum, where they completely stripped her, and then murdered her
with tiles. After tearing her body in pieces, they took her mangled limbs to a place called Cinaron, and there burnt them.” (Socrates Scholasticus Ecclesiastical History).[27]
August 415
Pagan priests in North Africa are required to return to their home cities before the kalends of November or be punished. All Pagan holy places anywhere in the empire are to be turned over to the church. Pagan officials (Chiliarchs and Centenarii) are banned on penalty of capital punishment (C.Th. 16.10.20).
The inquisitor Hypatius, alias “The Sword of God”, exterminates the last Gentiles of Bithynia. In Constantinople (7th December) all non-Christian army officers, public employees and judges are dismissed.
December 416
Pagans no longer allowed to enter the imperial service; they can no longer serve, for example, as judges or administrators (C.Th. 10.10.21). Jews join the list of those barred from imperial service two years later, on 10 March 418 (C.Th. 16.8.24).
419 or 420
Not to be outdone by their co-religionists in the Roman Empire, Christians in Persia attack
Magian fire-temples, provoking a persecution by the Sasanian government of Yazdgard I (399-420), resulting in a war from 421-22 with the Roman Empire.[28] Quite obviously, this is a war that would not have taken place in a world in which the Roman Empire remained polytheistic. This episode, and others, cast doubt on the claim that Christianity had no deliterious effect on the strength of the empire.
During the decade of the 420s, the penalty for not attending church was having your property seized and being sent into exile.
9 April 423
All previous laws against Paganism are upheld (C.Th. 16.10.22).
8 June 423
Emperor Theodosius declares that Paganism is nothing more than “demon worship” and orders all those who persist in practicing it to be punished by imprisonment and torture (C.Th. 16.10.23).
The Temple of Goddess Athena (Parthenon) on the Acropolis of Athens is sacked and the Athene of Pheidias taken away. Its fate is not known. The Athenian Pagans are persecuted.[29]
The earliest possible date of Cyril of Alexandria’s composition of his refutation of Julian’s
Contra Galilaeos (Against the Galileans). The last possible date is 441. In answer to the question of why a refutation was three-quarters of a century in coming, Garth Fowden says, “In fact there were to be found in Alexandria, as in Athens, devotees of the old gods, of revealed wisdom and of theurgy; and although it would be idle to assert that the holy men of Alexandria were as influential as those of Athens (with whom the Alexandrians had close links), their almost total neglect by modern scholarship urgently needs to be compensated by an unprejudiced examination of the evidence.”[30]
Council of Ephesus decrees Porphyry’s books to be burned. It also raised the Virgin Mary’s status from the mother of Jesus to “theotokos”, the mother of God.
Theodosius believes at this date that there are no Pagans living in his empire. (C. Th. 16.10.22),[31]
Theodosius apparently recants his position of a year before and repeats the prohibition of sacrifices and orders anew the conversion of temples into churches (C. Th. 16. 10.25): “All persons of criminal [sic] pagan mind we interdict from accursed immolations of sacrificial victims and from damnable sacrifices…and we order that all their shrines, temples, sanctuaries, if any even now remain intact, should be destroyed by the magistrates’command and that these should be purified by the placing of the venerable Christian religion’s sign [the Cross].”[32]
14 November 435
Pagan sacrifices are forbidden and temples and shrines belonging to the
traditional cults are to be torn down and replaced with a cross. Anyone who mocks this law to be executed (C.Th. 16.10.25).
434 or 435
Constantinoples Urban Prefect Leontius plans to reestablish the Olympic games in Chalcedon but Hypatius, leader of a monastery at Rufinianae, becomes angry at the news and threatened to assault Leontius in the company of his monks. Leontius backed down (Life of Hypatius 33).
The emperor Theodosius II this year expresses outrage at continued public Pagan worship despite “a thousand terrors of laws” and the penalty of exile (Nov. Theod. 3.8).
31 January 438
Theodosius II issues an edict against Pagans, Samaritans and Jews.[33]
The Theodosian Code (Codex Theodosianus) was “presented to the empire as a Christmas present in 438″ and contained 25 titles dedicated to “Pagans, sacrifices, and temples.”[34]
Cyrus of Panopolis, Praetorian Prefect of the East and Prefect of the City of Constantinople, who is a Pagan “was compelled to take ecclesiastical orders and was made bishop of Cotyaeum in Phrygia.”[35]
By the 450s the “legal system became wholly an instrument of persecution.”[36]
All the Temples of Aphrodisias (City of Goddess Aphrodite) are demolished and all its Libraries burned down. The city is renamed Stavroupolis (City of the Cross).
The Blemyes in Egypt entered into an arrangement with Maximin, Master of Soldiers in the East “that they might at stated times visit Philae in order to worship in the temple of Isis, in which the policy of the Emperors still suffered the celebration of old pagan
The man chosen by Leo to be Western Emperor was the patrician Anthemius, son-in-law of the Emperor Marcian. He was crowned emperor on 12 April. Bury says, “In Italy he was not popular. He was a Greek; he was too fond of philosophy or thaumaturgy; he was
inclined to paganism.”[38] Damascius (Vita Isidori, p208) says that he cherished the hope of restoring “pagan idolatry.”
Codex Justinianus: “If any unholy and defiled pagan (hellon) does not make himself
manifest,whether living here or in the countryside(chora), and run to the churches with his household, that is to say wives and children, let him submit to the aforesaid penalties, let the fisc confiscate their property, and let them be given over to exile” (CJI 11.10.3).
11 July 472
Anthemius defeated by Ricimer and killed. J.B. Bury calls this “the last flutter of a dying cause” – the end of the hopes for a Pagan restoration.[39]
The Pope shows outrage over the celebration of the Lupercalia of February 2.
Zosimus writes his New History (Historia novae).
Zosimus was a pagan author and the only pagan source we have for this period. He states (Zosimus, v.23): “They renounce legal marriages and fill their populous institutions in cities and villages with celibate people, useless either for war or for any service to the State; but gradually growing from the time of Arcadius to the present day they have appropriated the greater part of the earth, and on the pretext of sharing all with the poor they have, so to speak, reduced all to poverty.” According to Photius (820-891), he was a comes, and held the office of “advocate of the fisc”, putting him in a position to know of what he spoke.(Bibliotheca, Codex 98)[40]
Eastern Emperor Anastasius bans The pagan festival of the Brytae, which was celebrated with dancing when at one of these celebrations, which frequently caused rioting in the demes.
6th Century
What scholar Ramsay MacMullen calls “open, in-the-street paganism” was seen in eastern cities as late as the sixth century and “at an even later date in towns of Italy and Gaul”[41] Brtain, Spain and Gaul reverted to Paganism until Pope Gregory “the Great” (c. 540-604) set his counter-attack in motion and began the genocide of European Paganism eumphemistically (and obscenely) called the “Conversion of Europe.”
Baptism becomes obligatory even for those that already say they are Christians. The Emperor of Constantinople Anastasius orders the massacre of the Gentiles in the Arabian city Zoara and the demolition of the Temple of local God Theandrites.
The Emperor Justinian closes the Academy of Plato in Athens. According to the sole witness, the historian Agathias, its remaining members looked for protection under the rule of Sassanid king Khosrau I in his capital at Ctesiphon, carrying with them precious
scrolls of literature and philosophy, and to a lesser degree of science.
After a peace treaty between the Persian and the Byzantine empire in 532 guaranteed their personal security (an early document in the history of freedom of religion), some members found sanctuary in the pagan stronghold of Harran, near Edessa. One of the last leading figures of this group was Simplicius, a pupil of Damascius, the last head
of the Athenian school. The students of the Academy-in-exile, an authentic and important Neoplatonic school surviving at least until the 10th century, contributed to the Islamic preservation of Greek science and medicine, when Islamic forces took the area in the 7th century (Thiele).
Phocas, son of Craterus, of good family and well off is prosecuted as a Pagan. He began as a silentiary in the Palace and rises to Praetorian Prefect briefly after the Nike Riots. (John Mal. xviii.449, where it is falsely said that he was put to death). See the panegyric of John Lydus (iii.70 sqq.), where his liberality and personal frugality are praised. When he became Prefect he set himself to learn Latin, and John Lydus procured him the services of an instructor. He is highly spoken of by the Emperor in Nov. 82, §1 (539).
The world is treated to a new idea of warfare, born of Abrahamic monotheism, the “holy war” as the Eastern emperor Justinian advertises his reconquista in Africa in 533 as a war against Arian heretics.
Temple of Isis at Philae closed by Justinian (centuries later, to escape the rising waters of the Aswan damn, the temple was removed and reassembled on Agilika Island about 550 meters from its original home on Philae Island)
John of Ephesus (nicknamed the “idol-breaker” and “over the pagans”), a Monphysite Christian leader and Monophysite Bishop is sent by Justinian I to persecute the remaining
Pagans of Asia Minor (Asia, Caria, Phyrgia and Lydia) in order to strengthen the empire against Zoroastrianism. John demolishes temples and shrines, fells sacred trees, baptizes 80,000 people, builds 98 churches and founds 12 monasteries. This episode shows how strong Paganism still was even after almost two centuries of Christian persecution and
exposes the myth of a “moribund Paganism” that had already withered on the vine
two centuries before.[42]
The emperor entrusted John of Ephesus with the task of rooting out the secret practice of idolatry in Constantinople and its neighborhood. He carried out this task faithfully, torturing all suspected of the “wicked heathenish error”, as John himself calls it, and finding much worship of the ancestral gods amongst the Empire aristocracy.
The Caristia rites of Gaul are deplored by the Council of Tours.
The Emperor Maurice ordered Harran’s bishop to institute a persecution. This he did in typically brutal fashion by stringing up those who resisted, suspending them by their limbs in the city’s main thoroughfare. The local garrison commander was denounced as a secret Pagan as part of these proceedings and crucified.
The anti-Pagan persecutions under Tiberius (578-582) are particularly brutal. The High Priest of Antioch kills himself rather than be taken and events proved this a wise precaution. One of his associates, less lucky (or wise), is Anatolius, the late Prefect and a senator to boot, who is tried, tortured, and torn apart by wild beasts and then crucified. His chief aid dies of tortures. This latter event takes place in 579.
Pope Gregory writes to Bishop of Terracina, on the coast between Rome and Naples, that it has come to his attention that inhabitants of that area are worshipping sacred trees.[43]
Famous letter of Pope Gregory to the English mission calling for the destruction of idols and appropriation of holy sites as well as cultic acts (animal sacrifice) for Christian use (Bede HE i.30)
Pope Boniface IV acquires the Pantheon, a Pagan temple in Rome, built by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all the gods of Rome, and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in about 126 AD, and converts it into a church, the Sta Maria Rotonda. As Bede says, ‘He made a church of it and dedicated to the holy Mother of God and all the martyrs of Christ, so that when the multitude of devils had been driven outit might serve as a shrine for a ultitude of saints.”[44]
When the city of Harran surrenders to Arab conquerors, the delegation sent out to treat with the Muslim commander in 639 CE is entirely Pagan in composition.[45]
At the Council of Toledo, Firmicus, quoting from Deuteronomy (17.2ff), “called on the civil authorities to seize and behead all those guilty of non-Christian practices of whatsoever sort.”[46]
The “Penthekte” Council of Constantinople prohibits the remains of Calends, Brumalia, Anthesteria, and other Pagan / Dionysian festivals.
The Ekloga of Emperor Leo III, a simplified law code then in use, which observes, “Let apostates who make sacrifices and temples be denounced by every person.
If they had become Christians from pagans, and had been baptized, they shall be executed.”[47]
Charlemagne destroys the Irminsul (“World Tree”) on his first Saxon campaign.
Charlemagne massacres 4,500 Pagan Saxon prisoners as part of his brutal campaign to suppress Saxon Paganism (conducted during the 770s and 780s). Others are enslaved or deported.
Pagan Saxon King Widukind forced to submit and be baptized by Charlemagne.
Saxon Capitulary (Capitulary of Paderborn): a blueprint for cultural genocide. Charlemagne decrees the death penalty for all Saxons who fail to be baptised, who fail to keep Christian festivals, and who cremate their dead. Fletcher calls this “a blueprint for the comprehensive and ruthless Christianization of a conquered society…To the degree that such tactics had never before been essayed in a Christian missionary context, it seems reasonable to infer that the tearing apart of Saxon society was deliberately intended, and that the measures were framed by persons who knew how to inflict the maximum damage.”[48]
The inhabitants of Maina, in Greece, convert to Christianity only during the reign of the Byzantine emperor Basil I. The “De Administrando imperio of the Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, is quite clear in its main points: the citizens of Maina were not Slavs but descendents of the ancient Greeks, they were called Hellenes by the local inhabitants and they claimed to have been idolators in ancient times.[48] Says one scholar, “it is admirably clear that organized paganism survived well into the sixth century throughout the empire and in parts of Greece…until the ninth century or later.”[49]


[1] Ramsay MacMullen, Christianity & Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries (Yale University Press, 1997), 15. For R.M. Price citation, 171 n. 46. The reference to Noethlichs is to K.L. Noethlichs, “Heidenverfolgung,” Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum 13 (1986), 1149-1190.
Elaine Pagels, “Christian Apologists and “The Fall of Angels”: An Attack on Roman Imperial Power?” HTR 78 (1985), 325. It should be observed here that J.B. Bury also discussed Christian persecution of Paganism in his “The Later History of the Roman Empire” but it seems likely that MacMullen had Bury in mind when saying “hard-pressed” rather than impossible (Bury wrote in 1923).

[2] MacMullen (1997), 72.

[3] Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion (1997), 22.

[4] An easy to obtain translation is Eusebius, The History of the Church (Penguin: 1989 [1965]).

[5] Alan Cameron, “Gratian’s Repudiation of the Pontifical Robe,” The Journal of Roman Studies 58, Parts 1 and 2. (1968), 99.

[6] Pierre Chuvin, A Chronicle of the Last Pagans (1990), 38-39.

[7] Charles Freeman, 381: Heretics, Pagans, and the Dawn of the Monotheistic State (The Overlook Press 2009), xxi right calls this a “pivotal moment” in history: “Never before in the Greek or Roman world had there been such a sweeping imposition of a single religious belief alongside the active suppression of alternatives.” The only possible comparison, he argues, is with Akhenaten’s reforms in fourteenth century BCE Egypt, though this leaves out the actions of the post-exilic Jewish priesthood (Yahwists) of the 7th century BCE and the Hasmonean suppression of Paganism in second century CE Israel.

[8] Cameron (1968), 99.

[8] Herbert Bloch, “A New Document of the Last Pagan Revival in the West, 393-394 A.D,” The Harvard Theological Review 38 (1945), 209.

[9] See also Michael Gaddis, There is No Crime for Those Who Have Christ,(University of California Press, 2005), 194-195).

[10] J.B. Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire, 369 n. 70.

[11] Bloch (1945) 38, 225.

[12] Bury, 370.

[13] Bury, 370-371.

[14] MacMullen (1997), 41. See also Ralph Martin Novak, Christianity and the Roman Empire (Trinity Press International, 2001), 227, who observes that despite Paganism’s strength of numbers, “the ultimate fate of Paganism was sealed in the face of a unified political/economic/social elite willing and able to use moral persuasion, private violence, and state force to spread and envforce Christian belief.”

[15] Kenneth G. Holum, Theodosian Empresses (University of California Press, 1982), 54. cf. Bury, 142.

[16] Holum (1982), 55-56. See also Freeman (2009), 144. For Martin the Deacon’s Life of Porphyry see As Freedman says, this account “is an important source for showing the resilience of paganism and the violent means necessary to destroy the ancient buildings that housed pagan cults.”

[17] Bury, 163-164.

[18] Bury, 371.

[19] MacMullen (1997), 52.

[20] Bury, 372 n. 90.

[21] Bury, 306, n. 97. “vera religione” = ” true religion” Augustine is the first Christian writer to use the phrase in this way, as Tertullian, Cyprian and Novatian.

[22] Gaddis (2005), 162-164. On views of Rabbula, Jan Willem Drijvers, “The Protonike Legend, the Doctrina Addai and Bishop Rabbula of Edessa,”
Vigiliae Christianae 51 (1997), 298-315.

[23] Bury, 374 P. G. lxxxvii.3.3424 sqq.

[24] Holum, 100. The law excluded “those polluted from the error or, rather, the crime of pagan worship.”

[25] Bury, 218.

[26] Bury, 219. Gibbon (v.117) misunderstood when he interpreted, “her flesh was scraped from her bones.”

[27] Gaddis, 196.

[28] Bury, 370.

[29] Garth Fowden, “The Pagan Holy Man in Late Antique Society,” The Journal of Hellenic Studies 102 (1982), 33-59. Julian’s
translator, R. Joseph Hoffman, calls this a “resurgence of pagan activity” in Alexandria and a worry that “the earlier antagonists of Julian
had been, by his own reckoning, heretics themselves.” Julian, Julian’s Against the Galileans, ed. and tr. by R. Joseph Hoffman (Prometheus Books,
2004), 87.

[30] Bury, 371 n. 85.

[31] Holum, 188.

[32] Freeman (2009), 144.

[33] MacMullen 1997, 20.

[34] Bury, 228.

[35] MacMullen 1997, 30.

[36] Bury, 238.

[37] Bury, 339.

[38] Bury, 377.

[39] Bury, 387.

[40] MacMullen (1997), 40.

[41] For the myth of a moribund Paganism see especially W.H.C. Frend, The Rise of Christianity (Philadelphia, 1984) and idem,
Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church: A Study of a Conflict from the Maccabees to Donatus (NY: New York University Press, 1967.
See also the explanations offered by Christian apologist and sociologist Rodney Stark (The Rise of Christianity 1997; and Cities of God 2006.) Stark’s pro-Christian bias is especially evident in the latter work.

[42] MacMullen (1997), 65-68. Frank R. Trombley, “Paganism in the Greek World at the End of Antiquity: The Case of Rural Anatolia and Greece,” HTR 78 (1985), 327-352. Tree veneration was a continuing problem for Christian authorities, repeatedly denounced from the fourth century and common not only in the West, but in all regions of the Mediterranean world, including Lycia, Antioch and central Asia Minor. Other rural targets were hilltop shrines and sacred waters.

[43] MacMullen (1997), 28.

[44] This is a process (normative inversion) that was taking place all over Europe at this time. See Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity (University of California Press, 1999), ch. 8. For an online version of this letter see Medieval Sourcebook

[45] MacMullen (1997), 16.

[46] Frank R. Trombley, “Paganism in the Greek World at the End of Antiquity: The Case of Rural Anatolia and Greece,” HTR 78 (1985), 347. Citing Ecloga Leonis et Constantini cum Appendice, Appendix 4.20
(ed. A.C. Monferratus (Athens: Fratrum Perri, 1889), 66-67.

[47] Trombley, 347, citing Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De administrando imperio (ed. G. Moravcsik; trans. R. Jenkins (Washington DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 1967), 236.”

[48] Fletcher (1999), 215. Fletcher states that the capitulary “cannot be dated except within the range 775-90, but about 785 seems plausible. For an online version of the capitulary, see the Medieval Sourcebook

[49] Timothy E. Gregory, “The Survival of Paganism in Christian Greece: A Critical Essay,” The American Journal of Philology (1986), 107. Of the continuing survival of
Paganism at this late date, MacMullen has this to say: “The old religion suited people very well. THey loved it, trusted it, found fulfillment
in it, and so resisted change however eloquently, or ferociously, pressed upon them” (MacMullen 1997, 68-69).



















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