The Final Pagan Generation: Rome's Unexpected Path to Christianity
Watts (Edward)
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Inside Cover Blurb

  1. The Final Pagan Generation recounts the fascinating story of the lives and fortunes of the last Romans born before the Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity.
  2. Edward J. Watts traces their experiences of living through the fourth century's dramatic religious and political changes, when heated confrontations saw the Christian establishment legislate against pagan practices as mobs attacked pagan holy sites and temples. The emperors who issued these laws, the imperial officials charged with implementing them, and the Christian perpetrators of religious violence were almost exclusively young men whose attitudes and actions contrasted markedly with those of the earlier generation, who shared neither their juniors' interest in creating sharply defined religious identities nor their propensity for violent conflict.
  3. Watts examines why the "final pagan generation"-born to the old ways and the old world in which it seemed to everyone that religious practices would continue as they had for the past two thousand years-proved both unable to anticipate the changes that imperially sponsored Christianity produced and unwilling to resist them.
  4. A compelling and provocative read, suitable for the general reader as well as students and scholars of the ancient world.

Back Cover Plaudits
  1. “A scintillating portrait of the transformative fourth century of the Roman Empire. Edward Watts employs the creative device of looking at the history of an era through the eyes of its own generation — like our Woodstock generation or Gen X — to show how its men and women witnessed, experienced, and engaged with the big and little events of their day. Understanding the oceanic changes in belief and behavior of the ‘last pagan generation’ in real time helps readers see that world from the perspective of the persons who lived it and not as if in some cosmic rear-view mirror. A real page turner!”
    → Brent D. Shaw, Andrew Fleming West Professor in Classics at Princeton University
  2. "Deeply nuanced and profoundly humane, this book shows what it meant to live through the Roman Empire’s initial transition to Christianity. In clear and eloquent prose, Edward Watts introduces us to a wide range of persons who responded to the Emperor Constantine’s conversion in widely different ways, from hostility or distaste to excitement and profound life changes. Watts provides a fresh and exciting vision of one the great generations of Mediterranean history, whose choices shaped the legacy of antiquity and the future of Christianity.”
    → David Potter, Francis W. Kelsey Collegiate Professor of Greek and Roman History at the University of Michigan

    List of Illustrations – xi
    Acknowledgments – xiii
    Introduction – i
  1. Growing Up in the Cities of the Gods – 17
  2. Education in an Age of Imagination – 37
  3. The System – 59
  4. Moving Up in an Age of Uncertainty – 81
  5. The Apogee – 105
  6. The New Pannonian Order – 127
  7. Christian Youth Culture in the 360s and 370s – 149
  8. Bishops, Bureaucrats, and Aristocrats under Gratian, Valentinian II, and Theodosius – 167
  9. Old Age in a Young Man’s Empire – 191
  10. A Generation’s Legacy – 223

Book Comment
  • University of California Press; Illustrated edition (30 Jan. 2015)
  • Transformation of the Classical Heritage Series, Volume LIII
  • Birthday present from family

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2023
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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