ACCUSATIONS against Christians Amen: F.Cabrol, DACL 1 (1907) 1554-1573. Alleluia: L.Eizenhfer, Der Allelujagesang vor dem Evangelium: EphLit 45 (1931) 374-382; A.
Martimort, Origine et signification de l'Alleluia de la messe romaine, in Kyriakon, Festschrift J.
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Quasten, M¼nster 1970, 2, 811-834; Deo gratias and Laus tibi, Christe: J.Jungmann, Missarum Sollemnia, Vienna 5 1962, vol.
I (Ital.tr. Turin 1963); P.
Salmon, Les Amen' du Canon de la Messe: EphLit 42 (1966) 496-506. Sanctus: J.Jungmann, op.
Cit. Vol.II. Kyrie eleison: P.
De Clerck, La pri¨re universelle dans les liturgies latines anciennes (LQF 62), M¼nster 1977; T.Klauser, Akklamationen: RAC 1 (1950) 216-233; T.E. Gregory, Vox Populi: Popular Opinion and Violence in the Religious Controversies of the 5th Century, Columbus 1979; J.H.W. G.
Liebeschuetz, Antioch. City and Imperial Administration in Later Roman Empire, Oxford 1972, 208-219; C.Rouech, Acclamations in the Later Roman Empire: New Evidence from Aphrodisias: JRS 74 (1984) 181-199; B.D.
Spinks, The Sanctus in the Eucharistic Prayer, New York 1991; G.Winkler, Das Sanctus: ¼ber den Ursprung und die Anf¤nge des Sanctus und sein Fortwirken, Rome 2002. A.
Chupungco ACCUSATIONS against Christians. Christianity, little understood by a public often ill-informed and willing to believe any suspicion or accusation, was subject to calumny from the outset. The prejudices of the mob and those of the cultivated class may have differed, but for the most part they issued from a common ignorance, as is clear from both pagan authors and Christian apologists.
The earliest pagans to write of the Christians were Suetonius and Tacitus. Suetonius, writing about Nero (Vita Caesarum 16, 3), refers to the punishments inflicted on Christians: The Christianspeople dedicated to a new and mischievous superstitioare consigned to torture. Superstitio means a non-Roman, foreign religion, in latent conflict with the gods, which were an integral part of the city.
Christianity's novelty became evident at the point when it was no longer confused with Judaism. More serious for a Roman was its characterization as mischievous, as Romans deeply feared witchcraft and the like. Tacitus speaks of flagitia atrocia et pudenda, a clear reference to Thyestean banquets and Oedipal unions (see Minucius Fel. Oct.
9) but does not dwell on these things. Rather, he reports the accusation of odium humani generis (Ann. XV, 44), the humanum genus being the Roman Empire and its citizens.
The apologists primarily relate the accusations that arose at the popular level, often due to the fact that Christians met for worship in private dwellings and not openly with the participation of all citizens, as in the old religions. Partially secret meetings were by definition suspect and viewed negatively. The pagan Cecilius accuses the Christians of latebrosa et lucifuga natio (Minucius Fel. Oct.
8,4). At the popular level, the Eucharist was thought to be the sacrifice of a baby, a cannibalistic rite. Mixed meetings in which members called one another brother and sister were interpreted as licentious gatherings ending in rape (Just. Dial.
10; I Rev 1-13; Athenag. Leg. 3; Teof. Autol.3, 4).
Tertullian writes: We are accused as the most wicked of criminals for a supposed rite of infanticide, for the meal that ensues, and for the incest committed after the dreadful banquet (Apol.7,1). Among the accusations was that of onolatry.
Fronto writes: It is said that they venerate the head of an ass, the vilest animal..
Rites dedicated to a man condemned to death in expiation for his crimes, and that on the lethal wood of the cross (Oratio 9; on the graffito on the Palatine, C.Cecchelli, Mater Christi, Rome 1948, II, 155-163). Though rejecting these accusations, Justin Martyr shows the irreducible incompatibility between the God of the Christians and the pagan divinities, which are based on demons.
We are atheists with respect to these supposed gods (I Ap.6). The same position can be inferred from the Martyrdom of Polycarp (9, 12).
The accusation of atheismnot worshiping the polyadic divinitieswas the most serious, in that with this attitude Christians did not contribute to the pax deorum; thus, in the pagan mentality, they were considered the cause of public catastrophes and natural calamities (Tertullian, Apol.40,1-2). By the fact that religion and politics were inseparable, nonparticipation in the sacra publica, the public rites financed by the city or the emperor, was considered refusal to honor the public gods.
The accusation was both religious and political You denounce and persecute us as wizards of sacrilege and lese majesty (Tertullian, Apol.10, 1)and led to persecution. Atheism as an essential reason for pagan accusation against Christians does not appear, however, until toward the end of the second century; before then, the hostility of pagans was due to a combination of characteristics of the Christians' lives, which both intrigued and annoyed them.
Christianity, moreover, seemed to be an atheist religion in that the Christians had no temples, altars, images or sacrifice (Tatian, Discourse to the Greeks 27, 2; Athenagoras 13, 1; Justin, I Apol. 6 and 13). The pagan philosopher Celsus writes: Why do you Christians have no altars, or statues, or temples? What prevents you from participating in the public festivals? (Origen, Against Celsus 8,17).
Linked to the accusation of atheism was that of antisocial behavior (accusations also made against the Jews) and of absenteeism from public life: if God is common to all, good, and without necessity, then nothing should prevent those devoted to him from also participating in public festivities; if idols indeed represent nothing, what evil would there be in partaking in public banquets (ibid. 8,24)? The accusation of atheism was thus both a political and religious charge, indistinctly. Eusebius of Caesarea writes: [The Christians] were apostate from the gods of the nation, which gave cohesion to every people and city (Prep. Ev.
I,2, 2: SC 206,105-106). Celsus attacked Christian doctrine above all, which for him distorted the harmony of the universe. The mystery of the incarnation and a salvation drawn from fallen humanity were for him inconceivable.
Even more, Christianity appeared to him an uncultured doctrine, its Lord a teacher of the miserable, and not the God of superior natures. At the existential level, Celsus reproved the Christians for their civic indifference: they exclude themselves from the city, not participating in the worship that holds it together. By refusing to marry and procreate (an allusion to continence), they do not participate in the realities of life.
They lack a civic sense, not taking oaths in the name of the emperor. This last accusation will be taken up again by the pagan aristocracy at the fall of Rome at the start of the 5th c.Augustine will respond to it in the City of God, when the Romans who had remained faithful to paganism also criticize, as does Rutilius Namatianus, the withdrawn life of monks: souls tormented by hidden remorse (De reditu 439-452; 515-526).
From the fourth century the pagans showed indignation and disgust for the Christian cult of the martyrs which they considered mere cadaversand especially for the transferral of their remains to locations within the city; in doing so, they broke the barrier between the worlds of the living and the dead. The emperor Julian says that Christianity filled the world with tombs and graves (Contra Galilaeos, fr. 81 Masaracchia); he also issued some rules against Christian funeralsthe edict of 12 February 363 (CTh 9,17, 5)prohibiting them from taking place during the day.
Julian sought to purify Daphne, a suburb of Antioch, of the presence of the martyr Babylas, a cadaver that he claimed prevented the oracle of Apollo from speaking (Misopog. 33 [361bc]; Libanio, Discorso 98; see 99; John Chrys. Discourse on Babylas 89-91). Eunapius writes that the Christians gathered the bones and skulls of criminals executed for numerous crimes after being condemned in court, considering them to be gods, and wallow in their tombs (Vitae soph.
6,11, 8); Maximus of Madaura says, The graves of [the martyrs], even if they are worth remembering, are mobbed by the insane who have abandoned the temples and ignored the spirits of their own fathers (Augustine, Civ. Dei 16, 1; see Theodoret, HE VIII, 34,69). The case of Iamblichus is famous, who, returning to the city after having celebrated a sacrifice and conversing about the gods with some of his disciples, suddenly stopped short, cutting off his words, and stared at the sun, having seen from a distance that a funeral train was approaching (Eunapius, Vitae soph.
5, 1,13. 14 = 12-13 Giangrande). Even the Christian forgiveness granted at baptism or with penitence incited pagan criticism from Celsus on, because it promises impunity to one who repents (Augustine, Sermo 20, 4; 352, 9; Enar. In Ps.
101,1, 10; this accusation is taken up again in Magonza 44, 6 and 9 [RBen 1993, 317 and 320]) and would thus cause the breakdown of discipline and the destruction of the habits of the human race (Augustine, Sermo 20,4). The emperor Julian speaks of his uncle Constantine as given over to vice, murder, etc. For which he could easily obtain penitence from the Christians (from Jesus). He writes: Whoever corrupts, whoever murders, whoever is cursed and rejected by all, comes here confidently, and being washed in this water will be made pure in an instant.
And then when he falls again into the same sin, beating his breast and striking his head will again make him pure (Caesares 336AB).H. Leclercq: DACL 1, 265-307; P.
De Labriolle, La r action pa¯- enne, Paris 1942; A.Hamman, Chr tiens et christianisme.
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Wilken, The Christian as the Romans Saw Them, New Haven 1984; S.Benko, Pagan Cristicism of Christianity During the First Two Centuries: ANRW II,23, 2, 1055-1118; A.Barzan, I cristiani nell'Impero romano precostantiniano, Milan 1990; J.J.
Walsh, On Christian Atheism: VChr 45 (1991) 255-277; R.L. Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians: In the Mediterranean World from the 2nd c.
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