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By Sarefield, Daniel Christopher

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For our purposes, it is important to note that all of these texts and their readerships were viewed with suspicion by authorities at some time or other during antiquity on the grounds that they subverted or 30 this phenomenon, the immolators themselves represent a much wider spectrum of society than the often quite specific perpetrators and contexts in which other types of sacred or religious texts were destroyed. This chapter explores the polysemous nature of burning occult religious books in the Roman world.

E. and over the following centuries their forms proliferated and their function changed from simply necessary punishments to a variety of public entertainments held throughout the empire by which misbehavior was deterred and order and security affirmed. ”49 The disposal of the dead, a primary concern of Kyle’s investigation, most clearly revealed the significance of notions of pollution and purification. M. Coleman, “Fatal Charades: Executions Staged as Mythological Reenactments,” JRS 80 (1990): 44–73.

32 Liv. 6. 33 Liv. 5: Plures necati quam in vincula coniecta sunt. 34 Liv. 9–11. , and no persons seem to have been arrested or executed in connection with these activities, as occurred almost thirty years later during the suppression of the Bacchanalia. Presumably, by simply confiscating the texts they effected the suppression they desired. Nevertheless, it is clear from these events that at least as early as the late third century such practitioners of foreign rites, as well as their religious knowledge in book form, had come to be perceived as potentially dangerous to traditional religion and society and, therefore, could be subject to government repression.

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