Friday, 8 May 2015

Bella Image: Becoming Christian: the Roman Senate in the period up to Constantine

This paper addresses the question of ‘becoming Christian' not for an individual, but for a body: the senatorial class of Rome.
The people of Rome, and in particular the senatorial class, are often characterized in academic literature as the last bastion of traditional Roman religion. However, this may be skewed by interest in the so-called ‘pagan revival' of the late fourth century. Yet the case for senatorial disinterest in Christianity in the third century is in fact mere argument 'ex silentio' arising from the paucity of evidence. This paper therefore reviews the signs of Christianity for the period up to the reign of Constantine, and parallels this with evidence for a decline in traditional religion in the same period among the senatorial classes. It will be argued that, as an urban group, the senatorial class in Rome may have even led the way in Christianisation more than often thought.

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