Caracalla to Constantine
Setting Porphyrian universalism in its historical, social, political, economic, and cultural milieu, this chapter analyzes the development of universalist notions of salvation specifically in the context of the Third Century Crisis of the Roman Empire. Of the three main components of the imperial infrastructure, the emperor and his administration, the army, and Roman religion, only the latter surfaced as a viable unifying agent during hard times. Yet even the cults were adversely affected due to the economic woes permeating the provinces resulting in a decrease in the benefactors of the pagan temples and the centrally important practice of animal sacrifice. The practice of Christianity, on the other hand, was very cost-effective and low maintenance. As the crises of the period grew worse, Roman emperors increasingly depended upon religion as a unifying agent. Constantine inherited much from his pagan predecessors and used Christianity for his own politico-religious unification policies.
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