1
PAGANS AND POLYTHEISTS

1

How did Latin paganus come to acquire its most famous meaning? The earliest documented meaning was apparently “rural,” from pagus, a rural district. But to judge from surviving texts, the dominant meaning by the early empire was “civilian,” as opposed to “military.” Finally, soon after the middle of the fourth century, quite suddenly we find it as the standard Latin designation for non-Christians. It is less well known that by as early as the first century the word had passed into Greek (

), where it still survives in the modern language—but only in the second of these three meanings.1 How did the religious sense develop?2 And why did it not develop in Greek?

Medieval writers assumed the rural derivation, on the ground that pagan practices tended to linger longest in the countryside.3 So Baronius (1586), assuming that Christians dismissed nonbelievers contemptuously as country bumpkins. This seems to be the dominant view today.4 Yet there are major objections. In the first place, this is not a perspective likely to have occurred to anyone as early as the fourth century, when, at any rate in the Latin-speaking western provinces, the primary and most conspicuous focus of paganism was still the city cults, presided over by the city elites, above all (as we shall see) in Rome itself.5 Second, paganus is never used like rusticus or agrestis for “coarse” or “uncouth.”6 Notoriously, rusticitas stands for lack of polish and sophistication in Ovid,7 but his one use of paganus, in a brief account of a rural festival, is entirely respectful.8 Three examples in Apuleius all carry the sense “villagers” or “locals,” again

1. LSJ, Lampe and Preisigke, s.v.

; H. Cuvigny and G. Wagner, ZPE 62 (1986), at 66–67 and P. Oxy. 3758, dated to 325; Grégoire and Orgels 1952, at 363–400.

2. Zeiller 1917; for more texts and a more systematic classification, Flury in TLL x. 1 (1982), 78–83 (add Aug. Ep. 11. 5. 2 Divjak and many examples in the new sermons published by F. Dolbeau); Mohrmann 1965, 277–89; Bickel 1954, 1–47; Demougeot 1956, 337–50; O’Donnell 1977, 163–69; Chuvin 2002, 7–15; Kahlos 2007, 22–26.

3. Le Goff 1980, 92–94.

4. “the term pagani, meaning inhabitants of the rural pagi, became synonymous with non-Christians,” C. R. Whittaker, CAH xiii (1998), 308; Fowden 1993 and Athanassiadi/Frede 1999 below; Kahlos 2002, 6.

5. See (e.g.), Rives 1995; rural cults may have been more prominent in the East: Lane Fox 1987, 41–46.

6. So rightly Bickel 1954, 26–27; the closest example is Pliny, NH 28. 28.

7. Hollis 1977, 129–30.

8. Pagus agat festum: pagum lustrate, coloni,/et date paganis annua libafocis, Ov. Fasti i. 669–70; annua pastorum convivia, lusus in urbe,/cum pagana madent fercula divitiis, Propertius iv. 4. 75–76.

-14-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Last Pagans of Rome
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Introduction 3
  • 1- Pagans and Polytheists 14
  • 2- From Constantius to Theodosius 33
  • 3- The Frigidus 93
  • 4- Priests and Initiates 132
  • 5- Pagan Converts 173
  • 6- Pagan Writers 206
  • 7- Macrobius and the "Pagan" Culture of His Age 231
  • 8- The Poem against the Pagans 273
  • 9- Other Christian Verse Invectives 320
  • 10- The Real Circle of Symmachus 353
  • 11- He "Pagan" Literary Revival 399
  • 12- Correctors and Critics I 421
  • 13- Correctors and Critics II 457
  • 14- The Livian Revival 498
  • 15- Greek Texts and Latin Translation 527
  • 16- Pagan Scholarship Vergil and His Commentators 567
  • 17- The Annales of Nicomachus Flavianus 1 627
  • 18- The Annales of Nicomachus Flavianus II 659
  • 19- Classical Revivals and "Pagan" Art 691
  • 20- The Historia Augusta 743
  • Conclusion 783
  • Appendix- The Poem against the Pagans 802
  • Selected Bibliography 809
  • Index 855
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 878

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.