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Religious Intolerance And Pagan Statuary

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Chapter Summary

A number of surviving statues, both divine and imperial, have come down to us because they were intentionally buried during Late Antiquity. These have included well-preserved examples, as well as others which were mutilated. Some of the statues were damaged by their collapse during earthquakes and were subsequently buried under rubble; others were deliberately mutilated before their intentional burial; others still were intact because they had been carefully hidden. From the manner in which ancient statues were buried, a wide range of motivations can be inferred. Christian writers used their knowledge of theurgy to explain how pagans attracted deities into their statues, thus making them dangerous objects for Christians. When the destruction and disposal of statues occurred during the late antique period, religious motivations spring to mind; Christian writers rejected idolatry and the act of sacrifice and invited their brethren to mock man-made objects which received offerings and sacrifices.

Keywords: Christian writers; Late Antiquity; pagans



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