Ecstasy in Late Imperial Rome

Dirk Bennett describes the crowded religious calendar of pagan Rome, and the spiritual market place in which Christianity had to fight for domination.

The sacred cry strikes to heaven with the praises of the eternal Lord and the pinnacle of the Capitol totters with the shock. The neglected images in the empty temples tremble when struck by the pious voices, and are overthrown by the name of Christ.

Terrified demons abandon their deserted shrines. The envious serpent pale with rage struggles in vain, his lips bloodstained, bemoaning with his hungry throat the redemption of man, and at the same time now, with unavailing groans, the predator writhes around his dry altars cheated of the blood of sacrificial cattle…’ (Paulinus of Nola)


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