The Anatomy of a Riot

Edward J. Watts

in Riot in Alexandria

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780520262072
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520945623 | DOI:
The Anatomy of a Riot

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This book reconstructs a riot that erupted in Alexandria in 486 when a first-year Christian student named Paralius was beaten by a group of students for publicly insulting their teachers. This isolated incident evolved from a disciplinary beating within a scholastic setting into an act of religious violence with implications for the Christian and pagan communities in Alexandria and its suburbs. What is more remarkable, however, is the way the meaning of these events had been constructed. The Alexandria in which the deep pasts of intellectuals, ascetics, and bishops intersected with present realities remained a religiously heterogeneous place. The book looks at the personalities and communities involved in the riot at Alexandria to understand how communal ideas about a shared past helped to shape the interactions between pagan intellectuals, Christians involved with monasteries, and the Alexandrian church. Despite the rise of Christianity and the greater institutional organization which is often seen as characteristic of the later Roman Empire, personal connections and individual interactions remained the most important ways that people came to understand their proper place in the world.

Keywords: Alexandria; riot; Paralius; students; religious violence; Roman Empire; intellectuals; ascetics; bishops; Christians

Chapter.  10253 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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