Constantinople: Ritual, Violence, and Memory in the Making of a Christian Imperial Capital

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Univ of California Press, 2020 - Christianity and culture - 237 pages

As Christian spaces and agents assumed prominent positions in civic life, the end of the long span of the fourth century was marked by large-scale religious change. Churches had overtaken once-thriving pagan temples, old civic priesthoods were replaced by prominent bishops, and the rituals of the city were directed toward the Christian God. Such changes were particularly pronounced in the newly established city of Constantinople, where elites from various groups contended to control civic and imperial religion.

Rebecca Stephens Falcasantos argues that imperial Christianity was in fact a manifestation of traditional Roman religious structures. In particular, she explores how deeply established habits of ritual engagement in shared social spaces--ones that resonated with imperial ideology and appealed to the memories of previous generations--constructed meaning to create a new imperial religious identity. By examining three dynamics--ritual performance, rhetoric around violence, and the preservation and curation of civic memory--she distinguishes the role of Christian practice in transforming the civic and cultic landscapes of the late antique polis.

 

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Contents

religion in Late antiquity
15
The Founding of a City
46
Constantinople in 337 c e
50
Violence and the Politics of memory
74
Constantinople ca 400 c e
109
Cult Practice as a technology of social Construction
110
vii
128
Imperial Piety and the Writing of Christian history
143
The making of a Christian City
179
Selected Bibliography
191

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About the author (2020)

Rebecca Stephens Falcasantos is a Research Associate and Lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on the intersection of religious practices, rhetoric, and contestations over cultural dominance in the late Roman East.

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