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BLACKWELL COMPANIONS TO THE ANCIENT WORLDThis series provides sophisticated and authoritative overviews of periods of ancient history, genres ofclassical literature, and the most important themes in ancient culture. Each volume comprises betweentwenty-five and forty concise essays written by individual scholars within their area of specialization. Theessays are written in a clear, provocative, and lively manner, designed for an international audience ofscholars, students, and general readers.AN C I EN T HI S T O R YPublishedA Companion to the Roman RepublicEdited by Nathan Rosenstein and Robert MorsteinMarxA Companion to the Roman EmpireEdited by David S. PotterA Companion to the Classical Greek WorldEdited by Konrad H. KinzlA Companion to the Ancient Near EastEdited by Daniel C. SnellA Companion to the Hellenistic WorldEdited by Andrew ErskineIn preparationA Companion to Ancient HistoryEdited by Andrew ErskineA Companion to the Archaic Greek WorldEdited by Kurt A. Raaflaub and Hans vanWeesA Companion to Julius CaesarEdited by Miriam GriffinA Companion to the Roman ArmyEdited by Paul ErdkampA Companion to ByzantiumEdited by Elizabeth JamesA Companion to Late AntiquityEdited by Philip RousseauLI T ER ATU R E AN D CU LT U REPublishedA Companion to Ancient EpicEdited by John Miles FoleyA Companion to Greek TragedyEdited by Justina GregoryA Companion to Latin LiteratureEdited by Stephen HarrisonIn preparationA Companion to Classical MythologyEdited by Ken Dowden and Niall LivingstoneA Companion to Greek and Roman HistoriographyEdited by John MarincolaA Companion to Greek ReligionEdited by Daniel OgdenA Companion to Greek RhetoricEdited by Ian WorthingtonA Companion to Roman RhetoricEdited by William Dominik and Jon HallA Companion to Classical TraditionEdited by Craig KallendorfA Companion to Roman ReligionEdited by Jörg RüpkeA Companion to OvidEdited by Peter KnoxA Companion to CatullusEdited by Marilyn Skinner


ß 2006 by Blackwell Publishing LtdBLACKWELL PUBLISHING350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148-5020, USA9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK550 Swanston Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053, AustraliaThe right of David S. Potter to be identified as the Author of the Editorial Material in this Work has beenasserted in accordance with the UK Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act 1988.All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, ortransmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise,except as permitted by the UK Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act 1988, without the prior permission ofthe publisher.First published 2006 by Blackwell Publishing Ltd1 2006Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataA companion to the Roman Empire / edited by David Potter.p. cm. — (Blackwell companions to the ancient world. Ancient history)Includes bibliographical references and index.ISBN-13: 978-0-631-22644-4 (hard cover : alk. paper)ISBN-10: 0-631-22644-3 (hard cover : alk. paper) 1. Rome—History—Empire, 30 B.C. –476 A.D. 2.Rome—History—Empire, 30 B.C. –476 A.D.—Sources. 3. Rome—Civilization. I. Potter, D. S. (DavidStone), 1957– II. Series.DG311.P68 2006937’.06–dc222005015454A catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library.Set in 10/12pt Galliardby SPI Publisher Services, Pondicherry, India.Printed and bound in Indiaby Replika Press Pvt. Ltd, KundliThe publisher’s policy is to use permanent paper from mills that operate a sustainable forestry policy, andwhich has been manufactured from pulp processed using acid-free and elementary chlorine-free practices.Furthermore, the publisher ensures that the text paper and cover board used have met acceptableenvironmental accreditation standards.For further information onBlackwell Publishing, visit our website:www.blackwellpublishing.com

For Claire and Natalie

ContentsList of IllustrationsxList of TablesxiiiNotes on ContributorsxivAcknowledgmentsxviReference works: AbbreviationsxviiAncient authors: Abbreviations and GlossaryThe Emperors of Rome from Augustus to ConstantineIntroduction: The Shape of Roman History: The Fate of the Governing ClassDavid S. PotterPA R T I TH E SO U R C E Sxxxxix1211Constructing a NarrativeCynthia Damon232Roman Imperial NumismaticsWilliam E. Metcalf353DocumentsTraianos Gagos and David S. Potter454Art, Architecture, and Archaeology in the Roman EmpireLea Stirling755Interdisciplinary ApproachesJames B. Rives98

ContentsviiiPA R T II NA R R AT I V E1136The Emergence of Monarchy: 44Greg RoweBCE –96 C E7Rome the Superpower: 96–235Michael Peachin8The Transformation of the Empire: 235–337David S. Potter115126CECEPA R T III AD M I N I S T R AT I O N910The Administration of the ProvincesClifford AndoThe Transformation of Government under Diocletian andConstantineHugh Elton15317517719311The Roman ArmyNigel Pollard20612Greek Cities Under Roman RuleMaud W. Gleason22813Cities and Urban Life in the Western Provinces of theRoman Empire 30 BCE –250 C EJonathan EdmondsonPA R T IV SO C I A L A N D EC O N O M I C LI F E25028114The Imperial EconomyDavid Mattingly28315Landlords and TenantsDennis P. Kehoe29816The FamilyJudith Evans Grubbs31217Sexuality in the Roman EmpireAmy Richlin32718On Food and the BodyVeronika E. Grimm35419LeisureGarrett G. Fagan36920SpectacleDavid S. Potter385

ContentsPA R T V IN T E L L E C T U A L LI F Eix40921The Construction of the Past in the Roman EmpireRowland Smith41122Imperial PoetryK. Sara Myers43923Greek FictionJoseph L. Rife45324Roman Law and Roman HistoryJohn Matthews47725Roman MedicineAnn Hanson49226Philosophy in the Roman EmpireSara Ahbel-Rappe524PA R T VI RE L I G I O N54127Traditional CultDavid Frankfurter28Jews and Judaism 70–429Yaron Z. Eliav29Christians in the Roman Empire in the First ThreeCenturies CEPaula Fredriksen30Christian ThoughtMark Edwards543CE565587607Bibliography620Index681

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINEChristians in the Roman Empirein the First Three Centuries C EPaula Fredriksen1Prelude: The Fourth-Century WatershedOur view of Christians in the Roman Empire during their first three hundred years isprofoundly affected by what happened both to Christianity and to the empire in thecourse of the fourth century. In 312 C E , Constantine began Christianity’s conversionto a form of imperial Roman religion. Becoming the patron of one branch of thechurch, he used his prestige, his authority, and a good deal of publicly-funded largesseon behalf of this now-favored community. As Constantine consolidated his ownpower, so too did those urban bishops upon whom he increasingly relied as ad hocadministrators of welfare and justice (Drake 2000: 309–440). Throughout the courseof the fourth century, interrupted dramatically but only briefly by the reign ofConstantine’s pagan nephew Julian (361–3), imperial and ecclesiastical politicsgrew increasingly entwined. The emperors were always unambiguously supreme.Their support for projects important to the bishops, however, ultimately enabledthe bishops to have a profound effect not only on their own contemporaries, whetherChristian, Jewish, or pagan (Fowden 1978; Bradbury 1994), but also on their distantcultural descendants, modern historians of ancient Christianity.The long shadow cast by these bishops gives the measure of their commitment tothe ideology of orthodoxy. ‘‘Orthodoxy’’ means ‘‘right opinion.’’ In the periodbefore Constantine, this term might serve as a self-designation for any Christiangroup: ‘‘orthodoxy’’ is always ‘‘my doxy.’’ All the various Christian communities, intheir rivalry with each other, claimed to represent the ‘‘true faith,’’ the only way. Wesee this as early as the late first century, when Matthew’s Jesus, in the Sermon on theMount, repudiates other Christians whose views and practices are, presumably, different from those of Matthew’s community (Mt 7:15–23). And we see this in thegeneration after Constantine, when the political split between East and West Romecorresponded to differing theological constructions of the person of Christ. Each sideviewed itself as ‘‘orthodox,’’ and accused the other of heresy (Hunt 1998: 7–43).

588Paula FredriksenWhat changed with Constantine, however, was the nature, and thus the consequences, of the argument. Earlier, the intra-Christian polemic between differentgroups had fundamentally been name calling; now, the invective of one side couldinform government policy. The first Romans to feel the negative effects of Constantine’s new religious allegiance, in short, were other Christians. The emperor orderedthem to disband, outlawing their assemblies, exiling their bishops and burning theirbooks (Euseb. Eccl. Hist. 10.5.16, 6.4, 7.2; VC 64–6; cf. CTh. 16.5.1). Suchlegislation, difficult to enforce, clearly met with uneven success, and ‘‘heretical’’(that is, non-enfranchised) churches long continued to exist (T. D. Barnes 1981:224). But an atmosphere of intimidation could easily be conjured, and variousChristian communities could be and were targeted. By the early fifth century, inNorth Africa, imperial legislation and even military force would impose the policies ofthe orthodox or ‘‘catholic’’ (‘‘universal’’) bishops against Christians of a rival church(Frend 1952: 227–74; Brown 1967: 226–43).The imperial bishops’ battle against Christian diversity affected more than the livesof their contemporaries. It affected, as well, both the past and the future. By banningthe texts of ‘‘deviant’’ Christians, burning their books, or simply ceasing to allowthem to be copied, the bishops got to remake the past in their own image. The onlydocuments to survive were the ones that they approved. Countless gospels, apocryphal acts, sermons, letters, commentaries, and theological treatises simply disappeared. Some lucky manuscript finds in the twentieth century – most spectacularly,the Nag Hammadi library in Egypt, on which more below – have off-set this ancienttriage. But the loss has been immense, and much of the record of the Christian pastwas simply effaced by the church itself.The bishops filled this void of their own making by recreating the past in their ownimage, the ‘‘true’’ history of the ‘‘true’’ church – that is, of their church. Throughbiblical exegesis and ecclesiastical histories, they constructed a genealogy oforthodoxy that stretched from the prophets of ancient Israel (in their view, witnessesto Christ) through the appearance in the flesh of God’s son, through his apostles(who in their view were their early counterparts, the first bishops), and ultimatelyto themselves. Christians outside of their own communities they condemned asexcessively influenced by Judaism, or by pagan philosophy, or by pride. ‘‘Heretics’’were innovators; the orthodox, guardians of true tradition. Orthodoxy, in this view,was stable across the ages and prior to all other confessions. Discernible in theJewish Bible (if that were interpreted ‘‘correctly’’), it was revealed once for allby Christ, and preserved unchanging and uniquely, from his time to theirs, inhis true church, the church of the imperial bishops. Diversity was simple – anddamnable – deviance.The language of modern scholarship witnesses to the continuing power of thisancient orthodox rhetoric. Surveys of pre-Constantinian Christianity perforce identifythese other Christian communities, marginalized only in the fourth century, as ‘‘heretical’’ already in the late first, the second, and the third centuries (Chadwick 2001).Such an approach implicitly takes ‘‘orthodoxy’’ to mean ‘‘intrinsically authentic,’’somehow in some special way ‘‘true.’’ What primarily distinguished the orthodoxfrom their rivals, however, was power. After 312, one group won in the imperialpatronage sweepstakes, and the others lost. To think otherwise is simply to recapitulatein academic language the claim of the orthodox bishops themselves.

Christians in the Roman Empire589Even scholars sensitive to this problem nonetheless continue to identify thesecommunities, as did the orthodox before them, by the names of their prominentleaders – ‘‘Marcionites’’ (followers of Marcion), ‘‘Valentinians’’ (followers of Valentinus), ‘‘Montanists’’ (followers of Montanus), and so on. This practice has the virtueof easily distinguishing these communities from their proto-‘‘orthodox’’ contemporaries. But it only reinforces the orthodox victory, for these people, in their own eyes,were simply followers of Christ, and thus, Christians. Finally, even the terms ofancient polemic have passed into modern scholarship as categories of analysis. Historians have also described various Christian sects as overly influenced by classicalphilosophy, or by esoteric forms of Judaism, or by oriental cults. They do so seemingly unaware of the degree to which their views and even their analytic terms derivefrom and recapitulate the perspective of the orthodox, whose texts often provide ouronly glimpse of these otherwise lost and silenced communities (K. L. King 2003).If the fourth century so obscures our view of earlier intra-Christian diversity, itobscures no less our view of how these ancient Christians interacted with their Jewishand pagan neighbors. Orthodoxy presents a story of almost universal hostility directedagainst the true church, stretching from the murder of Christ through the persecutionof his saints until, miraculously, history reached a moment of dramatic reversal withConstantine’s conversion. It foregrounds an image of heroic resistance to relentlessattacks from furious Jews and murderous pagans, while belittling non-orthodox Christians and denying that they showed such resolve. It presents orthodox identity asdistinct, unambiguous, and unchanging, preserved through a principled separationfrom the world, with ‘‘true’’ Christians assiduously avoiding synagogue and civicrituals, and any sort of friendly – or even normal – contact with pagans and Jews.The messiness of real life rarely obliges the clarity of ideology. Embedded in thevery texts that promulgate the orthodox view lies the evidence of a more complicated– and more interesting – story. To understand and appreciate the diverse practices,experiences, and commitments of these many different sorts of ancient Christians inthe period before any one group could impose its own views is the goal of thischapter. To re-imagine them, we have to place ourselves back in their world: aworld thick with gods and different ethnic (thus, religious) groups; a world wherecommunal eating and public celebration were the measure of piety, which was aconcern of the state. Further, and despite its roots in the farming villages of theGalilee, Christianity as soon as we meet it in its earliest texts – the letters of Paul (c.50CE ) and the writings of the canonical evangelists (c.70–100) – was essentially andalready an urban phenomenon. And for its first three centuries, Christianity in all itsvarieties remained an urban phenomenon. To re-imagine these ancient Christians,then, we also have to place ourselves in a world where life and time were measured bythe rhythms of the Greco-Roman city.2Gods and Humans in Mediterranean AntiquityPeople in the modern West tend to think of religion as a detachable aspect of personal(and even of national) identity. We also tend to think of religion as something largelypersonal or private, a question first of all of beliefs. And ‘‘God’’ in modern monotheisms functions as a unique, transcendent, somewhat isolated metaphysical point.

590Paula FredriksenWhat of ‘‘religion’’ in Mediterranean antiquity? The word, first of all, scarcelytranslates at all. Its closest functional equivalent would be ‘‘cult,’’ those rituals andofferings whereby ancients enacted their respect for and devotion to the deity, andthereby solicited heaven’s good will. While individual households and, indeed, persons might have their own particular protocols of piety, much of ancient worship waspublic, communal, and (at the civic and imperial levels) what we would call ‘‘political.’’ Modern religion emphasizes psychological states: sincerity or authenticity ofbelief, the inner disposition of the believer. Ancient ‘‘religion’’ emphasized acts: howone lived, what one did, according to both inherited and local custom. Ancientreligion was thus intrinsically communal and public: performance-indexed piety.In this world filled with gods, some ancient communities – Jewish; eventually,Christian; also pagan (Athanassiadi and Frede 1999) – worshiped a single god as thehighest one, the one to whom they particularly owed allegiance and respect. Butancient monotheists did not doubt that other gods also existed. In antiquity, divinityexpressed itself along a gradient, and the Highest God (be he or it pagan, Jewish, orChristian) hardly stood alone. Many lesser divine personalities, cosmic and terrestrial,filled in the gap between the High God and humanity. The question for the ancientmonotheist was how to deal with all these other gods. Different groups – anddifferent individuals within the same group – had, as we shall see, different answersto this question. But as we imagine both Judaism and, later, Christianity withinancient Mediterranean culture, we should not conceive them as ‘‘monotheism’’standing against ‘‘polytheism.’’ By modern measure, all ancient monotheists werepolytheists. It was their behavior, not their beliefs, that distinguished these groupsfrom others.A useful way to contrast ancient and modern conceptualizations of ‘‘religion’’ is toconsider, in antiquity, the embeddedness of divinity. Ancient gods were local in a dualsense. First, they attached to particular places, whether natural or man-made. Groves,grottos, mountains; cities, temples and, especially, altars: all these might be visited orinhabited by the god to whom they were sacred (Lane Fox 1986: 11–261). Godstended to be emotionally invested in the precincts of their habitation. Humans, inconsequence, took care to safeguard the purity, sanctity, sacrifices, and financialsecurity of such holy sites, because, in a simple way, the god was there. We catch anice statement of this common ancient idea in the Gospel of Matthew, wherein Jesusobserves that ‘‘he who swears by the Temple [in Jerusalem], swears by it and by himwho dwells in it’’ – that is, the god of Israel, who abides in his temple (Mt 23:21; cf.similarly Paul, Rom 9:4).Second, gods also attached to particular peoples: ‘‘religion’’ ran in the blood. Putdifferently: cult was a type of ethnic designation, something that identified one’speople or kinship group, the genos. Herodotus, in his Histories, gives a clear exampleof this way of thinking, when he defines ‘‘Greekness’’ in terms of shared blood, gods,cults, and customs (Hdt. 8.144.2–3; Malkin 2001); centuries later, the apostle Paullikewise described Jewishness in strikingly similar terms (Rom 9:4–5; see below).More commonly, deities were identified through reference to the peoples whoworshiped them: the god of Israel, the gods of Rome, the god at Delos, and so on(cf. Acts 19:28: ‘‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’’).This family connection between gods and their humans could be expressed orimagined in terms of descent. Rulers – kings of Israel, or Alexander the Great,

Christians in the Roman Empire591or Julius Caesar, for example – were deemed the ‘‘son’’ of their particular god.Alexander was descended from Heracles; the Julian house, through Aeneas, fromVenus. Jewish scriptures used similar language, designating Israelite kings the sons ofIsrael’s god (e.g., 2 Sm 7:14; Ps 2:7, and frequently elsewhere. Later Christianexegesis referred such passages to Jesus.) Divine connections were politically useful.Whole peoples, also, saw themselves in family relationships with their gods. Hellenistic and later Roman dipl

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