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apologists, Christian  

Wolfram Kinzig

The modern collective term appears to go back to F. Morel (Corpus Apologetarum, 1615) and P. Maran (1742; cf. PG 6). The idea as such, however, is much older, as can be seen from the codex Paris. gr. 451 (written in 914 by the scribe Baanes by order of Arethas, archbishop of *Caesarea (1) in Cappadocia) which contains a collection of apologetic writings. The term designates a number of Christian Greek and Latin authors of the 2nd and early 3rd cents. who defended the Christian faith against attacks from their pagan contemporaries. Apologists in this sense, whose writings are partly or fully preserved, are Quadratus, Aristides, *Justin Martyr, *Tatian, *Melito, *Athenagoras, and *Theophilus (3) of Antioch, who all wrote in Greek, and the Latin authors *Minucius Felix and *Tertullian. Nothing is left of the works of Miltiades and Apollinaris of Hierapolis. They all wrote at a time when the legal position of the new religious groups was unclear and the Christians were under continuous threat from their *pagan environment (see christianity).



George M. A. Hanfmann and Roger Ling

A circular cloud of light which surrounds the heads of gods or emperors (Serv. on Aen. 2. 616, 3. 587) and heroes. The belief that light radiates from a sacred or divine person is a common one and the nimbus only a special form which was developed in classical religion and art. Assyrian art, for instance, represents some gods with rays around their shoulders, and Greek art shows deities of light, such as *Helios, with a radiate crown. Greek vases and Etruscan mirrors of the 5th cent. bce afford the earliest examples of nimbus, often combined with the crown of rays. This hybrid form is also found at *Palmyra in the 1st cent. ad. Under the Roman empire the plain, smooth form tends to prevail. In Pompeian wall-paintings (see pompeii) it is still associated primarily with the deities of light, such as *Apollo-Helios and *Diana, but almost all pagan gods of any importance are occasionally represented with a nimbus; in the 2nd and 3rd cents.


pagan, paganism  

Michele Renee Salzman

The Latin word paganus (pagan), which originally meant “a country district or community,” could take on a more general sense as “a place with fixed boundaries.” From this early meaning, paganus evolved to mean civilian as opposed to military. Its application by Christians to those who were not of their faith has been explained variously. Some scholars derive its Christian usage based on the association of pagans with the countryside, while others see Christians using the term for the civilians as opposed to “soldiers of Christ.” Only in the 4th century do the words pagan and paganism (paganismus) emerge with the general meaning of “non-Christian.” Some scholars dispute the pejorative nature of the term at this date, but non-Christians were increasingly attacked by hostile 4th-century Christian writers. Because of this enmity and due to the misleading denigration of non-Christians as pagans, some modern scholars have refused to use the term pagan or paganism in their works. Others, however, view its usage as justified, especially given the hostility of late Roman Christians to non-believers.


possession, religious  

Corinne Ondine Pache

That a human being might become possessed by a supernatural power was a fairly common ancient belief. The effect might be a sudden change in behavior, the altered state of consciousness associated with Dionysiac ritual, or a prophetic frenzy as in the case of a divinely inspired trance (see Delphic oracle). Plato (Phaedr. 244a ff., esp. 265a-c) distinguishes between prophetic (mantikê, inspired by Apollo), mystical (telestikê, inspired by Dionysus), poetic (inspired by the Muses), and erotic (inspired by Aphrodite and Eros) possession. Sources also differentiate between unprompted possession and possession sought through ritual, as in the case of the Pythia at Delphi who became ἔνθεος (“inspired” or “filled with a god”) and whose body became a medium for the god’s voice.Words such as θεόληπτος, θεοφόρητος, or κάτοχος (expressing the notion “possessed by (a) god”), carried an ambivalent meaning. On the one hand, they referred to terrifying pathological experiences, such as epileptic strokes or various types of insanity. On the other hand, possession involved direct contact with a god and thus could effect a kind of sacralization. Socrates mentions the possibility of becoming “seized by the nymphs” (νυμφόληπτος) while conversing in a sanctuary dedicated to nymphs (Phaedr.



Bryan Ward-Perkins

Vatican, an extramural area of the city of Rome, on the right bank of the *Tiber around the mons Vaticanus. In the early empire the Vatican was the site of an imperial park (the horti Agrippinae); and of entertainment structures, the Naumachiae (see naumachia), where mock sea-battles were exhibited, and the Vatican *circus, where *Gaius(1) set up a great obelisk from Heliopolis and which was traditionally the site of the martyrdom of St Peter. There was also an important shrine of *Cybele (or the Magna Mater) attested in inscriptions; and along the two roads that crossed the area, the via Cornelia and the via Triumphalis, were cemeteries. A group of mausolea on the foot-slopes of the mons Vaticanus were excavated under St Peter's in the 1940s, and within this cemetery (directly under the high altar of St Peter's) was found a small 2nd-cent. shrine, marking the probable burial-site of Peter, apostle and first bishop of Rome.