Black-robed Fury: Libanius’ Oration 30 and Temple Destruction in the Antiochene Countryside in Late Antiquity

Title: Black-robed Fury: Libanius’ Oration 30 and Temple Destruction in the Antiochene Countryside in Late Antiquity
Authors: Watson, Douglas
Date: 2013
Abstract: Oration 30 (Or. 30) has been commonly used in scholarship as positive affirmation of religious violence and temple destruction in late Antique Syria. This view of widespread violence in late 4th century Syria was previously supported by scholarship on temple destruction and conversion, which tended to argue that temple destruction and conversion was a widespread phenomenon in the 4th and 5th centuries. Recent archaeological scholarship, however, argues against this perspective, in favour of temple destruction and conversion being a rather exceptional and late phenomenon. The question must therefore be asked, to what extent can Libanius’ Or. 30 be used as a source of temple destruction in the Antiochene countryside in Late Antiquity? This question is explored through three chapters which examine: the text and context of Or. 30, the use and application of Roman law in Or. 30, and the archeological evidence for temple destruction and conversion in the Antiochene countryside. This research has revealed that Libanius tends to use similar arguments in his ‘reform speeches,’ that there was no legal basis for temple destruction in the late 4th century, and that there is no archaeological evidence for widespread temple destruction occurring around the composition of Or. 30. Thus, the evidence shows that Libanius’ claim of widespread violence must be seen as an exaggeration. Meaning that Or. 30 cannot be used to support the idea of widespread destruction and religious violence in the Antiochene countryside at the end of the 4th century or, for that matter, Late Antiquity in general.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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