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date: 26 February 2021

pagan, paganismlocked

  • Philip Rousseau


The Latin word paganus means literally “one who inhabits a *pagus”: see Festus, 247Lindsay, and *Servius's comment on *Virgil's phrase pagos et compita circum (G. 2. 382). By imperial times (e.g. Tac.Hist. 3. 24. 3, Plin.Ep. 10. 86b), the term was applied to one who stayed at home or lived a civilian life. Christian reference implied one who was not a miles Christi (hence fides pagana and paganus fidelis in Tert. De corona 11. 4 f. and numerous examples thereafter). Paganismus was first used in the 4th century by Marius Victorinus (Ep. ad Galatios 2. 4. 9) and *Augustine (Div. quaest. 83. 83). Traditional usage nevertheless persisted (Prudent.Cath. 11. 87, Macrob.Sat. 1. 16. 6).Both expressions, in the Christian era, may have been colloquial (see Cod. Theod. 16. 5. 46 of 409ce and AugustineEp.

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