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A discussion on the concept of religious tolerance in ancient rome

Personal religion and imperial subjectivity 1The first two lectures sought to explain the rise of conceptions of individual religious affiliation that were understood as distinct from the structures of political belonging.

  • The people in the eastern part of the empire—Greece, Asia Minor, Middle East, and Egypt—had already been deeply influenced by Greek civilization;
  • The first part analyzes legal evidence in four areas;
  • For many years, Christians lived with the uncertainty that another persecution could erupt at any time;
  • Although Ancient Rome practiced religious tolerance to a degree, it was generally for self-seeking reasons and not for the better of all the people;
  • As a result, he ordered Roman officials not to interfere with the new religion, a policy that lasted about 30 years until the time of Nero;
  • The common people of Rome believed rumors about Christians.

These drew principally on two bodies of scholarship. On the one hand, the dominant models of religion in the ancient world religious life as embedded within larger political or cultural formations. On this view, the traditional cults of Greek and Roman cities were ordered by principles homologous to those that organized their dominant political and cultural institutions and indeed were not conceptualized as distinct from them.

The adherence of individuals to such cults was then assumed to follow upon local structures of political belonging: To explain how this occurred, the structures of imperial administrative and communicative practice are analyzed as aiding to produce among subjects of empire a new and distinctively imperial form of subjectivity. As a result, religious affiliation could increasingly be conceptualized as distinct from political membership.

A discussion on the concept of religious tolerance in ancient rome

The result was a landscape in which the concept of conversion acquired widespread utility. The imperial roots of the religious body 4The second lecture undertakes a similar inquiry in respect to the asceticism.

Religious persecution in the Roman Empire

It falls into three parts. It first seeks to demonstrate that shame of the body as a justification for ascetic practice is always explained by reference to classical theories of the soul. Some small number of individuals had cultivated forms of social practice on this basis for centuries. Second, it urges that Christian justified their own ascetic practice in similar terms. The sudden popularity of bodily discipline in the fourth century therefore requires explanation outside the domains where it has traditionally been sought.

The third part of the lecture urges a turn to politics, where, I argue, a concern for the cultivation of the self became a pronounced feature of doctrines of both kingship and citizenly virtue during the fourth century.

  1. The lecture compares evidence from legal practice and doctrine to practice and doctrine in the conduct of religious rites, in order to reconstruction the historical self-consciousness operative in these domains.
  2. After all class members present their reports, the class should count how many religions it discovered in the community. Today, the area of the ancient Roman empire holds more than 25 separate nations.
  3. Rome controlled all the land surrounding the Mediterranean, making the large sea, in effect, a "Roman lake. Dying of cancer that was literally rotting his body, Galerius suspended the persecution in 311.
  4. Whether ordaining a continuity of religious practice or urging the maintenance of religious properties, Roman legislation concerns itself with rites, not with gods.

In the conclusion to the lecture, I connect this concern for the body of the citizen with another distinctive feature of fourth-century government, namely, the desire of legislation to penetrate society to the level of the individual. To achieve this, imperial legislation sought to mobilize non-statal forms of social dependency in service of state interest.

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The paradigm of legal pluralism 5The third lecture uses the abundant evidence for both practice and theory in respect to legal pluralism as a guide to the reconstruction of practice and elaboration of ancient theory in respect to religious pluralism. On one level, the lecture seeks to demonstrate that pluralism in local practice was understood to conduce a distinctively imperial order. Within the domain of the history of religion, the lecture urges that classical Roman writings about the religions of others focus overwhelmingly on practice.

  • He forbade gatherings for Christian worship and ordered the destruction of churches and sacred writings;
  • Teachings with opposing views in this sense posed the threat of citizens not behaving as expected by the Ancient Roman government;
  • Jews and Christians couldn't;
  • He set price controls;
  • The result was a landscape in which the concept of conversion acquired widespread utility;
  • Rome allowed its diverse peoples to practice their own religions as long as they also made offerings to Roman gods.

Whether ordaining a continuity of religious practice or urging the maintenance of religious properties, Roman legislation concerns itself with rites, not with gods. The history of religion according to the Romans: The lecture compares evidence from legal practice and doctrine to practice and doctrine in the conduct of religious rites, in order to reconstruction the historical self-consciousness operative in these domains.

The first part analyzes legal evidence in four areas: It urges in conclusion that these two traditions, legal and religious, reveal Roman thought to have possessed a distinctive ontology of the social, very different from that visible in any other literary tradition of Mediterranean Antiquity.

  1. But Rome viewed the Jews with suspicion and persecuted them on several occasions.
  2. This is why religious disorder was not tolerated or accepted in Ancient Rome. The common people of Rome believed rumors about Christians.
  3. Dressed in wild animal skins, they were torn to pieces by dogs, or crucified, or made into torches to be ignited after dark as substitutes for daylight.
  4. Emperors of this time were aware that religion, being deeply rooted in Ancient Roman life, would be beneficial to use to get what they needed from citizens.