From periphery to centre: pagan continuity and revival in Britain and Rome during the late fourth century AD
Carmela Maria Ranieri
Master of Arts, Classics, Durham University (2008)
In light of recent archaeological evidence regarding rural temples and the christianisation of the countryside in the Roman Empire, a re-examination af the concept and forms of pagan worship existent in the late fourth century is necessary in order to accommodate these new findings. Firstly, it is of vital importance to attempt to define the extremely broad term that is ‘paganism’ and to select the specific areas that will be addressed. The colloquial term pagani, which first appeared in Christian inscriptions of the early fourth century, likely referred to civilian non-believers who had not been baptised. However, it must be noted that the oldest sense of the classical Latin term paganus meant ‘of the country’ or ‘rustic’. It has been argued that the transferred use reflects the fact that the ancient idolatry lingered on in the rural villages and hamlets after Christianity had been generally accepted in the towns and cities of the Roman Empire.