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Ancient Mediterranean Sacrifice$
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Jennifer Wright Knust and Zsuzsanna Varhelyi

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199738960

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738960.001.0001

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The End of Public Sacrifice

The End of Public Sacrifice

Changing Definitions of Sacrifice in Post-Constantinian Rome and Italy

Chapter:
(p.167) 8 The End of Public Sacrifice
Source:
Ancient Mediterranean Sacrifice
Author(s):

Michele Renee Salzman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738960.003.0008

Michele Renee Salzman examines the pagan response to the heightened contestation of animal sacrifice by Christians in fourth-century Rome. A key figure in this response was Symmachus, who offered a creative redefinition of pagan sacrifice in his Letters and his Third State Paper, dating from the 370s and early 380s. Unlike Julian and his followers who wanted to preserve sacrifice by justifying its existence, Symmachus tried to keep the practice alive in two other important ways: through allowing private individuals to fund and perform these rites, and by expanding the scope of the ritual so that it could be fulfilled in ways other than by animal killing. Even though the absence of a communal, public aspect in this re-invented version of sacrifice contributed to its demise, the evidence of Symmachus offers an example of a creative response by late ancient Romans committed to preserving some form of the earlier sacrificial practice.

Keywords:   Roman sacrifice, late Roman empire, Symmachus, end of sacrifice

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