Magic, Montanism, Perpetua, and the Severan Persecution

Magic, Montanism, Perpetua, and the Severan Persecution MAGIC, MONTANISM, PERPETUA, AND THE SEVERAN PERSECUTION BY ANDRZEJ WYPUSTEK Prior to Decius, that is before the Roman Empire had launched state persecution of Christians, the repressive measures victimising followers of Christianity were usually local and spontaneous outbursts of the heathen mob, or they were the result of the policy of provincial governors heed- ing popular incriminations at most. This was the reason why the popular image of Christians among pagans was of extreme importance. We should appreciate some additional factors which made accusations of this kind more dangerous than ever in the times of Emperor Severus, at the turn of the second century, inciting the persecution in which popular enmity and official repression went hand in hand. Septimus Severus himself was ruthless towards magicians, astrologers and prophetic dreams.' The Severan lawyer Julius Paulus has left us an out- line of legislation afflicting them severely at this time.' Even those who merely possessed magic handbooks were threatened with the death sen- tence. Hitherto, not the magic knowledge as such, but its public display and practice by giving advice were punishable. With Severus, the very sci- entia huius artis was liable to be punished.3 The range of repression of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Vigiliae Christianae Brill

Magic, Montanism, Perpetua, and the Severan Persecution

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Publisher
BRILL
Copyright
© 1997 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0042-6032
eISSN
1570-0720
D.O.I.
10.1163/157007297X00219
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

MAGIC, MONTANISM, PERPETUA, AND THE SEVERAN PERSECUTION BY ANDRZEJ WYPUSTEK Prior to Decius, that is before the Roman Empire had launched state persecution of Christians, the repressive measures victimising followers of Christianity were usually local and spontaneous outbursts of the heathen mob, or they were the result of the policy of provincial governors heed- ing popular incriminations at most. This was the reason why the popular image of Christians among pagans was of extreme importance. We should appreciate some additional factors which made accusations of this kind more dangerous than ever in the times of Emperor Severus, at the turn of the second century, inciting the persecution in which popular enmity and official repression went hand in hand. Septimus Severus himself was ruthless towards magicians, astrologers and prophetic dreams.' The Severan lawyer Julius Paulus has left us an out- line of legislation afflicting them severely at this time.' Even those who merely possessed magic handbooks were threatened with the death sen- tence. Hitherto, not the magic knowledge as such, but its public display and practice by giving advice were punishable. With Severus, the very sci- entia huius artis was liable to be punished.3 The range of repression of

Journal

Vigiliae ChristianaeBrill

Published: Jan 1, 1997

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