Chapter

Pagans and Polytheists

Alan Cameron

in The Last Pagans of Rome

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199747276
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199866212 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199747276.003.0002
Pagans and Polytheists

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This chapter justifies the term “pagan”. The earliest documented meaning of the Latin paganus was apparently “rural,” from pagus, a rural district. But to judge from surviving texts, the dominant meaning by the early empire was “civilian,” as opposed to “military.” Soon after the middle of the 4th century, it became the standard Latin designation for non-Christians. It is less well known that by as early as the 1st century the word had passed into Greek, where it still survives in the modern language—but only in the second of these three meanings. The chapter also discusses the use of the term “polytheist” in place of “pagan”.

Keywords: pagan; paganus; Latin; Greek; polytheist

Chapter.  10361 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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