The End of Public Sacrifice

Michele Renee Salzman

in Ancient Mediterranean Sacrifice

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199738960
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918676 | DOI:
The End of Public Sacrifice

Show Summary Details


Michele Renee Salzman examines the pagan response to the heightened contestation of animal sacrifice by Christians in fourth-century Rome. A key figure in this response was Symmachus, who offered a creative redefinition of pagan sacrifice in his Letters and his Third State Paper, dating from the 370s and early 380s. Unlike Julian and his followers who wanted to preserve sacrifice by justifying its existence, Symmachus tried to keep the practice alive in two other important ways: through allowing private individuals to fund and perform these rites, and by expanding the scope of the ritual so that it could be fulfilled in ways other than by animal killing. Even though the absence of a communal, public aspect in this re-invented version of sacrifice contributed to its demise, the evidence of Symmachus offers an example of a creative response by late ancient Romans committed to preserving some form of the earlier sacrificial practice.

Keywords: Roman sacrifice; late Roman empire; Symmachus; end of sacrifice

Chapter.  8755 words. 

Subjects: History of Religion

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.