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date: 03 December 2020

Acts of the Pagan (or Heathen) Martyrslocked

  • Edith Mary Smallwood
  •  and M. T. Griffin

Extract

Is the name given by modern scholars to about a dozen fragments of Alexandrian nationalist literature, preserved on papyri mostly written in the 2nd or early 3rd cent. ce. The majority of the fragments give, in dramatic form, reports of the hearing of Alexandrian embassies and of the trials of Alexandrian nationalist leaders before various Roman emperors. The episodes related, of which the dramatic dates range from the time of *Augustus to that of *Commodus, are probably basically historical and the accounts appear to be derived to some extent from official records. But they have been coloured up, more in some cases than in others, for propaganda purposes, to caricature the emperors, to stress the fearless outspokenness of the Alexandrians, who are sometimes surprisingly rude to the emperors, and to represent their punishment, usually execution, as martyrdom in the nationalist cause. This literature is in general bitterly hostile to Rome, reflecting the tensions between *Alexandria (1) and her overlord during the first two centuries of Roman rule.

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