Date of Award

Fall 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Classical Studies


Evan Haley


Claude Eilers



Committee Member

Martin Beckmann


Scholarship dealing with the phenomenon of Christianisation in the Roman Empire has overwhelmingly been Christian-centred, often ignoring the importance of the declining pagan communities in the fourth century A.D. During this period of cultural and religious transformation in the Empire, the construction of religious identity by the Church resulted in the need for pagan communities to adapt themselves to a Judeo-Christian understanding of religion, in order to establish their place in an increasingly Christianizing society. Consequently, the isolation of pagans from, and their vilification within, the growing Christian world were factors that had aided the development of a pagan socio-religious identity which had not existed in previous centuries. Therefore, this paper will examine the question of what elements constituted the pagan identity in late antiquity, and, perhaps more importantly, how this identity had come to be formed.

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