R S 315 • Pagans/Christians Late Roman Empire
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
From its beginnings in the first century CE, Christianity was deeply influenced by the "pagan" Greco-Roman culture into which it was born. This course offers an introduction to the complicated interactions between the Early Christian Church and the Roman Empire, with particular emphasis on the consequences of Constantine's decision to end state-sanctioned persecutions of Christians. A careful and thoughtful study of specific historical episodes in the first four centuries CE will encourage students to move beyond a simplistic view of a unified Christianity in conflict with the values and traditions of the Roman Empire to develop a nuanced understand of their interaction. Additionally, we will interrogate the very term - paganism, - to better understand how it was used by Christians and what it meant. Finally, some attention will be paid to the persistence of this conflict between Christianity and-paganism- in contemporary culture (e.g. the much-hyped War on Christmas). Class lectures and discussion will focus on such topics as: martyrdom; Constantine_s rise to power and support of Christianity; the Emperor Julian's efforts to revive -pagan- culture; the Battle of the Altar waged between Symmachus and Ambrose; and Augustine's conversion to Christianity followed by his defense of the Christian God after the Fall of Rome.
Your grade will be determined by your performance on two midterm exams and the final exam.
Henry Bettenson, trans. Augustine: City of God. (Penguin Classics, 2003). 0140448942. Henry Chadwick, trans. Saint Augustine: Confessions (Oxford World Classics, 1991). 0-19-283372-3. Walter Hamilton, trans.Ammianus Marcellinus: The Later Roman Empire: AD 354-378 (Penguin Classics, 1986). 0140444068. A. D. Lee, Pagans and Christians in Late Antiquity: A Sourcebook (Routledge, 2000). 0-415-13893-0. (recommended) Averil Cameron, The Later Roman Empire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007). 0674511948