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Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350-450$
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Maijastina Kahlos

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190067250

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190067250.001.0001

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The emperor and the dissenters

The emperor and the dissenters

(p.17) 1 The emperor and the dissenters
Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, 350-450

Maijastina Kahlos

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the imperial power discourse in relation to religious dissidents. Imperial authority was reinforced with the rhetoric of public welfare. The well-being of the empire was thought to be based on the maintenance of good relations with the divine. Consequently, religious unity and the correct form of religion were presented as a matter of state security, and the emperor was put forth as the guardian of the correct religion. In the Christian Empire, Christianity was considered the instrument that protected humankind, and it was the responsibility of the emperor to guarantee the correct interpretation of the nature of God. Thus, imperial power was intrinsically linked with the unity and harmony of Christianity. Accordingly, the very presence of religious dissident groups was taken as an offense to Christian unity and the emperors.

Keywords:   emperors, imperial power, imperial discourse, rhetoric, public welfare, religious unity, religious dissidents, correct religion

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