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Lecture 11

CLA160H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 11: Bacchanalia, Pomerium, House Church

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CLA310 - Religion in the Roman World
Wednesday Nov 28, 2012
Lecture 11 - Religion through Literature and Philosophy
Christian Catacombs
First christians gathered together privately
Would not have had a public space
One place to gather for worship was catacombs (for burials)
Developed out of the practice of Jewish catacombs
Where could burials take place in Rome? - Outside the Pomerium
If you’re poor you might have a tombstone
Or a main centre for cremated remains housed in niches
Christians built underground chambers where you could bury your dead in sarcophagoi (means
“eats-flesh” in Greek)
May have a number of sarcophagoi lined up
Community effort
Some are better quality than others, some decorated (either hired or community)
Christians depicted famous people
From Old Testament stories
Or from their own writings (our New Testament)
And images of Jesus
Classic image of persecuted image: couldn't worship in public
That is only true part of the time - persecution of Christians only really began in 3rd century
These catacombs were built from 1st century A.D. Onwards and are heavily used in times of
For early christians the surviving parts of people who died were called relics
Heavy emphasis on bodies
All people in ancient mediterranean took extreme care to make sure people were well buried
For christians, should they have lived a particularly holy life, if they leave a part of themselves
behind they will be bodily raised from the dead
Some of their holiness can be communicated by touching these relics, or their clothing
So these catacombs were places of particularly intimacy with people who’d passed on to anoth-
er world but sill held a personal relationship with you and kept their individuality
This is different from traditional Roman practice
House Churches
House church of Dura Europus has a type of bath - believed to be for baptism
Shows that the community there was big and permanent enough to make an actual change in
the structure of their house in order to accommodate the rituals in the christian community
This would be unique to christian households
Christian Basilicas
When it becomes the religion of Rome it makes sense to establish buildings
Type of architecture for these buildings was taken from the Basilica
Not a roman or greek temple
Considered as secular as possible to the romans

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CLA310 - Religion in the Roman World
Wednesday Nov 28, 2012
Lecture 11 - Religion through Literature and Philosophy
This is where people would all things
Or have lawyers gather
A public space and not considered property of the gods
They didn’t want to have any association with paganism
Considered pagan gods “demons”
Hagia Sophia
Built in Constantinople
Transformed into a mosque after Constantinople fell to the turks
Islam does not allow images - only letters, so christian images are painted over
Has rounded arches which are derived from the basilica structure
Literary and Philosophical Sources
All literary and philosophical sources will emphasize the elite experience
Elite views, attitudes and experiences
Have the benefits of education
Perhaps are disillusioned, more rationalistic view
Emphasis on theories and abstract concepts: fate, fortune, virtue, evil
Often attempt to present a coherent or rationalized picture of religious beliefs and practices,
and their histories
May question or criticize the practices of the “masses”
May criticize, but may also advocate change or emphasis on following strict ritual vs. emo-
May uphold or reject “traditional” religion
A lot of people get the label “atheist” whilst still believing in some supernatural power
People would get accused of that if they did not worship traditional gods
Jews and christians received this title
Allegorizing may be present
May take traditional story and emphasize it’s hidden meaning
The characters or specific objects are symbols
Or make their own story
Plato’s cave
Happens in texts that use religious characters but not trying to make new myths but make
philosophical point
Literary sources can be abused
Try and make bigger claims on religion by looking at little passages
Make inferences from little material
G. Martin goes through and explains selection 1 of Vergil, Georgics
She assumes verses are Fescennine when he never says that
She turns carmina laeta as a specific genre, when all Vergil said “they sing joyful
Everything she presents is an educated guess - not based on anything
Hercules kills local monster and is honored with a hero-cult
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