The Final Pagan Generation: Rome's Unexpected Path to Christianity

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Univ of California Press, Aug 25, 2020 - Christianity and other religions - 352 pages
A compelling history of radical transformation in the fourth-century--when Christianity decimated the practices of traditional pagan religion in the Roman Empire.

The Final Pagan Generation recounts the fascinating story of the lives and fortunes of the last Romans born before the Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. Edward J. Watts traces their experiences of living through the fourth century's dramatic religious and political changes, when heated confrontations saw the Christian establishment legislate against pagan practices as mobs attacked pagan holy sites and temples. The emperors who issued these laws, the imperial officials charged with implementing them, and the Christian perpetrators of religious violence were almost exclusively young men whose attitudes and actions contrasted markedly with those of the earlier generation, who shared neither their juniors' interest in creating sharply defined religious identities nor their propensity for violent conflict. Watts examines why the "final pagan generation"--born to the old ways and the old world in which it seemed to everyone that religious practices would continue as they had for the past two thousand years--proved both unable to anticipate the changes that imperially sponsored Christianity produced and unwilling to resist them. A compelling and provocative read, suitable for the general reader as well as students and scholars of the ancient world.
 

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User Review  - FriStar7406 - LibraryThing

It is with Libanius, Themistius, Ausonius and Praetextatus' letters and orations's that Eward J Watts, takes us thru that pivotal century. Very well explained and thorouhgly argued (more then a ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
Growing Up in the Cities of the Gods
17
Education in an Age of Imagination
37
The System
59
Moving Up in an Age of Uncertainty
81
The Apogee
105
The New Pannonian Order
127
Christian Youth Culture in the 360s and 370s
149
Bishops Bureaucrats and Aristocrats under Gratian
167
Old Age in a Young Mans Empire
191
A Generations Legacy
213
Notes
221
Bibliography
305
Index
321
Copyright

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About the author (2020)

Edward J. Watts is Alkiviadis Vassiliadis Endowed Chair and Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny, among other books.

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