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Symmachus And Paganism Revision Notes

History Notes > Augustine and the Last Days of Rome: 370-450 Notes

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Symmachus and Paganism Revision R. H. Barrow, Prefect and Emperor, The Relationes of Symmachus A.D. 384 (Clarendon, 1973).?

Introduction to Symmachus Urban prefect o Held by Symmachus in 384.
? Answerable only to the emperor. o Role
? Administer justice and keep the law.
? Prefect is supreme judge
? Police force
? Religion o He would oversee state religious ceremonies
? Maintain food supply
? Maintain balance between guilds, religious cults, finances. o Limited power:
? Can't make law, can only apply it.
? The vicarious also has great power and had his own networks of patronage.
? Climate of opinion
? Emperor's attitude o Is he anti-pagan, anti-senatorial?
? Valentinian I may have given neutrality to different religious groups (according to Ammianus) but he also officially recognised Easter. o Gratian
? Refused to be Pontex Maximus, confiscated the revenues and immunities of temples and priesthoods and rejected protest.
? Separates state from pagan practice.
? Symmachus was succeeded by a Christian urban prefect, Pinianus o Games
? Way of courting the favour of the rowdy public.?

Symmachus Prefect from 384-385 o A long, illustrious public career
? Quaestor ? Proconsul (373) ? Urban prefect
? Famed orator
? Delivered panegyric to Valentinian and Gratian. o In 384, Praetextatus secured from Valentinian II an order to restore temple ornaments. o In December 384, Praetextatus dies.

Relationes 3: To our Lord Theodosius (actually Valentinian), For Ever Augsutus, Greeting from Symmachus of the Distinguished Order of Senators, Prefect of the City. Context to the Altar of Victory:Augustus build it to celebrate triumph of Roman spirit, a symbol of official state-cults.

???????Constantius o Removes the altar but allowed all other cults to continue Julian o Restores the Altar Valentinian I and Valens o Leave it in position and permit sacrifice, but forbade nocturnal rites Gratian o Removed the altar The Work Itself 'law had gained upper hand over wickedness'1 o Reference perhaps to Praetextatus' obtaining of an order from Gratian to restore the ornaments Christians had stolen from temples. Asks Valentinian to restore state funding to pagan cults. o Why?
? Precedence
? Emperors since Augustus venerated the cults, while later Christian emperors tolerated them.
? Constantius o The removal of the Altar by Constantius was quickly reversed ? one should never follow precedence quickly put aside. V, your name, will be tarnished o Did not know he was committing mistake o He did not remove privileges of Vestal Virgins.
? In the past, VV's were honoured and were given a moderate livelihood and reasonable privileges.
? Gratitude
? The Altar of Victory has led Roman emperors to great victory in the past; Valentinian would do well to keep it in place.
? Protection
? 'We are not on such good terms with the barbarians that we can do without an Altar of Victory'2 (5) Importance of Altar of Victory to the Senate 'Where else are we to take the oath of allegiance to your laws and ordinances?'3 o Makes men speak the truth o Harmonises the Senate as a group. (8) It's all the same religion?
'Everyone has his own customs, his own religious practices' the divine mind has assigned to different cities different religions to be their guardians. Each man is given at birth a separate soul' in the same way each people is given its own special genius to take care of its destiny' Proof of God

1 Page 35. 2 Page 37. 3 Page 37.

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