State of Greco-Pagan Polytheism in Italy during Christianity?

Apr 2016
1
Mississauga
I'm curious how long it took for Pagans in Italy to falter. Where did they go to escape prosecutions? Were any cities or areas of Italy distinctly Pagan? Was there any resistance or holdouts, and when did they die?

I'm mostly curious, as I've read Greco-Roman Paganism only died in Greece during the 800s, from the Mani Peninsula. It makes me curious how long Greco-Roman Polytheism survived in Italy. Any answers?
 
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Theodoric

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
2,979
Yötebory Sveriya
Paganism was on the decline from the time of Julius Caesar and Pompey when religions and organized cults were introduced. Then later the Imperial Cult. Then Christianity, a religion which also appealed to the rural societies began to displace it heavily.

Pagan comes from the Latin word "Paganus" which literally translates to bumpkin or hillbilly. It was used as a derogatory term prior to Christianization by adherents to the Imperial Cult and the Cult of Sol Invictus. And since it seemed to be usually in the provinces, it is possible paganism died out, or was at least heavily marginalized, in Italy before other regions.
 
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Oct 2019
124
West Virginia
The conversion of the countryside was far less due to choices made by the country people than Theodoric indicates. A lot of coercion and threat was involved.

"Paganism" usually is taken to include Neoplatonism, which was popular among educated people, and was viciously suppressed by the Roman (Christian) authorities.

Example: the murder of Hypatia in Alexandria.

Many see the Inquisition and witch burnings as simply a continuation of the efforts of Christian Rome to expunge all competing faiths.
 
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Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,903
Blachernai
Many see the Inquisition and witch burnings as simply a continuation of the efforts of Christian Rome to expunge all competing faiths.
The Inquisition did not exist before the twelfth century, and witch burning is by and large a late medieval and early modern phenomenon. And neither of these had any place in the Christian half of the Roman Empire that survived into the fifteenth century.
 
Oct 2019
124
West Virginia
The Inquisition did not exist before the twelfth century, and witch burning is by and large a late medieval and early modern phenomenon. And neither of these had any place in the Christian half of the Roman Empire that survived into the fifteenth century.
The Model T was extant in the 1920's, and the XKE in the 1960's, but they are both automobiles.
 
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Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,903
Blachernai
Has anyone read the Life of Saint Pankratios of Taormina? The text is set in a fictional Italy and Sicily of the first century AD that actually seems a lot more like the 8th c. AD. I was struck by how much attention is given to the struggle over cult statues for such a late date of composition, although I suppose it's also possible that is just a way for a way for the author to indicate antiquity. @AlpinLuke

The Model T was extant in the 1920's, and the XKE in the 1960's, but they are both automobiles.
The Latin church of 500 was not the same as the Latin church of 900, or 1400. Differing social systems and power structures across time created varying responses to heterodoxy.
 
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Oct 2019
124
West Virginia
Has anyone read the Life of Saint Pankratios of Taormina? The text is set in a fictional Italy and Sicily of the first century AD that actually seems a lot more like the 8th c. AD. I was struck by how much attention is given to the struggle over cult statues for such a late date of composition, although I suppose it's also possible that is just a way for a way for the author to indicate antiquity. @AlpinLuke



The Latin church of 500 was not the same as the Latin church of 900, or 1400. Differing social systems and power structures across time created varying responses to heterodoxy.
Over the centuries, things change. The details change. But the pattern of institutional Christian repression of paganism in the Empire and its Roman Catholic successor states is consistent. It was the same process, of eliminating all of the "pagan" (country) practices which persisted, some of them even to this day.

Those in power within the Roman Catholic Church descended originally from Roman patricians. It would seem they saw Germanic warlord rule coming, and found a way to preserve their power. But more to the point, the institutional power directed against pagan practices (whether these were labelled "heresy" or "witchcraft" or "heathen" or whatever) continued to erode the folk religious practices, by the late Medieval period including even the attempts to expunge the medical practices of "wise women".

Much of the repression was specifically targeted at women. As all goddesses were replaced by a male God and his Son, the Church was run entirely by males, in fact still will not admit female priests, and as part of this pattern it was no anomaly that during the time of Inquisition it was mostly women being tortured and burned. This reminds us even of the more ancient reduction of Lillith to the status of demon by the Hebrews.

Back in Imperial times, authorities would persecute anyone found holding pagan rites around burial sites. Later they would construe even the brewing of herbal tea as "sorcery". It's all part and parcel of the same process.

Christianity was not CHOSEN by most Europeans, it was imposed. How did Charlemagne accomplish the conversion of the Saxons? How did the Baltic peoples become Christian? All of a kind.
 
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Mar 2018
889
UK
Over the centuries, things change. The details change. But the pattern of institutional Christian repression of paganism in the Empire and its Roman Catholic successor states is consistent. It was the same process, of eliminating all of the "pagan" (country) practices which persisted, some of them even to this day.

Those in power within the Roman Catholic Church descended originally from Roman patricians. It would seem they saw Germanic warlord rule coming, and found a way to preserve their power. But more to the point, the institutional power directed against pagan practices (whether these were labelled "heresy" or "witchcraft" or "heathen" or whatever) continued to erode the folk religious practices, by the late Medieval period including even the attempts to expunge the medical practices of "wise women".

Much of the repression was specifically targeted at women. As all goddesses were replaced by a male God and his Son, the Church was run entirely by males, in fact still will not admit female priests, and as part of this pattern it was no anomaly that during the time of Inquisition it was mostly women being tortured and burned. This reminds us even of the more ancient reduction of Lillith to the status of demon by the Hebrews.

Back in Imperial times, authorities would persecute anyone found holding pagan rites around burial sites. Later they would construe even the brewing of herbal tea as "sorcery". It's all part and parcel of the same process.
That's a whole lot of claims that require evidence.

Personally, I find the idea that Roman patricians in 300AD could see 100 years into the future and therefore converted into a small sect so that they're great grand children would be in an institution that held power just a little hard to swallow.
 
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Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,903
Blachernai
Over the centuries, things change. The details change. But the pattern of institutional Christian repression of paganism in the Empire and its Roman Catholic successor states is consistent. It was the same process, of eliminating all of the "pagan" (country) practices which persisted, some of them even to this day.

Those in power within the Roman Catholic Church descended originally from Roman patricians. It would seem they saw Germanic warlord rule coming, and found a way to preserve their power. But more to the point, the institutional power directed against pagan practices (whether these were labelled "heresy" or "witchcraft" or "heathen" or whatever) continued to erode the folk religious practices, by the late Medieval period including even the attempts to expunge the medical practices of "wise women".

Much of the repression was specifically targeted at women. As all goddesses were replaced by a male God and his Son, the Church was run entirely by males, in fact still will not admit female priests, and as part of this pattern it was no anomaly that during the time of Inquisition it was mostly women being tortured and burned. This reminds us even of the more ancient reduction of Lillith to the status of demon by the Hebrews.

Back in Imperial times, authorities would persecute anyone found holding pagan rites around burial sites. Later they would construe even the brewing of herbal tea as "sorcery". It's all part and parcel of the same process.

Christianity was not CHOSEN by most Europeans, it was imposed. How did Charlemagne accomplish the conversion of the Saxons? How did the Baltic peoples become Christian? All of a kind.
There are some pretty big generalizations here.I don't doubt that all sorts of repression happened, I just don't think it tells us anything useful about the context of the various cases to flatten it all down into a simple "Christianity tried to stomp out heterodoxy" narrative that doesn't include the specifics of time and place.

Back in Imperial times, authorities would persecute anyone found holding pagan rites around burial sites.
I recall Augustine complaining about members of his flock going out any partying it up at pagan tombs and pouring out libations for the dead. But imperial authority was busy with matters more pressing than the whims of one second-ranked bishop, and all that Augustine could do was scold them. Imperial authority had trouble keeping peace between competing Christian sects in the major cities, as Constantinople and Alexandria in the fifth century indicate. Their ability to enforce "orthodoxy" elsewhere was extremely limited.

How did Charlemagne accomplish the conversion of the Saxons?
I wish I knew where this one came from. Charlemagne was not on any sort of proto-crusade. The Carolingians were fighting border wars with their neighbours, just like everyone else. Some of those neighbours, the Saxons, eventually decided to convert to Christianity and play bigger games. It's the same with the Magyars - in these loose tribal structures one elite group decides to throw in their lot with enemy in the hope of seizing power from another elite group.
 
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Feb 2017
328
Latin America
There are some pretty big generalizations here.I don't doubt that all sorts of repression happened, I just don't think it tells us anything useful about the context of the various cases to flatten it all down into a simple "Christianity tried to stomp out heterodoxy" narrative that doesn't include the specifics of time and place.



I recall Augustine complaining about members of his flock going out any partying it up at pagan tombs and pouring out libations for the dead. But imperial authority was busy with matters more pressing than the whims of one second-ranked bishop, and all that Augustine could do was scold them. Imperial authority had trouble keeping peace between competing Christian sects in the major cities, as Constantinople and Alexandria in the fifth century indicate. Their ability to enforce "orthodoxy" elsewhere was extremely limited.



I wish I knew where this one came from. Charlemagne was not on any sort of proto-crusade. The Carolingians were fighting border wars with their neighbours, just like everyone else. Some of those neighbours, the Saxons, eventually decided to convert to Christianity and play bigger games. It's the same with the Magyars - in these loose tribal structures one elite group decides to throw in their lot with enemy in the hope of seizing power from another elite group.
This guy doesn't know what he's talking about. I've already asked for more examples than Hypatia and he has failed to bring any. The closest is Eugenius and his revolt, but Eugenius was also supported by Christians and he was nothing but a wannabe emperor who wanted to seize power, not a freedom fighter for Greco-Roman pagans. His rank and file also consisted of Christians rather than pagans too, so you can't even say that the soldiers that died for him in battle constitute any mass killing of pagans. The defeat of his violent reactionary revolt is hardly an example of Christian intolerance.