The Religious Background of Donatism
This chapter passes into the religious background of Donatism and examines the religious grounds for the fanaticism and even suicidal mania of some of its adherents. The temples of the pagan gods in North Africa shared the fate of the other public buildings in the decaying Roman cities. The third and fourth centuries saw equally the collapse of official paganism and the ruin of the urban middle classes. In the Mediterranean basin, however, it was Christianity that triumphed, and in Africa victory was won at the expense not only of official paganism but also of the great national cult of Saturn and Caelestis. In widely separated parts of the Empire the same period saw the downfall of hitherto all-powerful national cults before the same foe, an intense and fanatical form of the Christian religion.
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