Christian Emperors, Divination, and Curiositas

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This article discusses the notion of curiosity (curiositas) in fourth-century Christian emperors’ legislation on divination. Curiosity or inquisitiveness was mainly treated negatively in legislation and in ecclesiastical polemical literature, especially where ›pagans‹ and ›heretics‹ were concerned. How did the Christian emperors’ attitudes differ from those of their non-Christian predecessors, and in which aspects were they similar? What was forbidden knowledge and which were the forbidden ways and tools of attaining it? In addition, I survey the idea of curiositas in the writings of early Christian writers, with the main focus on Augustine. My analysis reveals the emergence of new ways of defining legitimate and illicit knowledge, but also continuities in making these distinctions and in attempts to control knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJahrbuch für Antike und Christentum
Pages (from-to)133-147
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 615 History and Archaeology
  • divination
  • oracles
  • curiositas
  • Antiquity
  • Late Antiquity
  • Roman Empire

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