The model of popular religion that is usually presented by scholars of late antiquity has the disadvantage that it assumes “popular religion” can be understood only from the viewpoint of the elite. “Popular religion” is presented as in some ways a diminution, a misconception or a contamination of “unpopular religion.” Whether it is presented, bluntly, as “popular superstition” or categorized as “lower forms of belief,” it is assumed that “popular religion” exhibits modes of thinking and worshipping that are best intelligible in terms of a failure to be something else.2

In the long, run, I expect that scholars will find the concept [i.e., popular religion] so ambiguous and unhelpful that they will abandon it.3

For some years now historians of religion in Late Antiquity, as of other periods, have largely rejected the concept of “popular religion.” The problems inherent in such a definition have been persuasively rehearsed on many occasions and alternative models for understanding religious unity and diversity have indeed been both proposed and employed with considerable success. However, this development has arguably had the unintended consequence of occluding important aspects of the social history of religion—in particular, in the history of non-elites, including consideration of subaltern agency. It is the purpose of this short discussion article to lay out some ways in which we might want to reconsider using “popular religion” as a helpful heuristic model, in particular by drawing on approaches to popular culture in the ancient world.

What is wrong with ‘“popular religion?” It is after all a field of study that produced a great deal of impressive scholarship—in medieval and early modern history in particular—during the 1970s and 1980s.4 A fundamental difficulty lies in the way in which the term has been used, itself indicative of the problematic framework defining the history of the study of religion. In his now classic work, The Cult of the Saints, Peter Brown described a pervasive “two-tiered model” of religion which he argued was the product of a scholarly genealogy that went as far back as the Enlightenment.5 Robert Orsi, however, writing a new forward for the second edition of another modern classic, The Madonna of 115th Street, chose to identify two alternative key starting points for the development of this framework. The first was the European reformation movements of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; the second was the period of the colonialization of Asia and Africa by Western states in the nineteenth century. As Orsi aptly puts it: “[t]he basic nomenclature of religious studies is deeply and directly implicated in the history of Western racism and colonialism and in three centuries of divisive, bitter internecine Christian conflict.”6 However, important as these developments are, as historians of Late Antiquity we are surely right to seek the origin of this powerfully dichotomising framework much earlier, in the way in which early Christianity adapted the Roman terminology of religio and superstitio and harnessed it to the creation of a new religious ideology. That is—we can seek the origins of this authorising discourse in the way in which early Christian writers developed a pre-existing distinction between superstitio and religio,7 already gaining force as a useful dichotomy for the religious self-definition of the Roman elite, providing a boundary between insiders and transgressive outsiders.8 In Late Antiquity, it would be the Christian Church, allied to the Roman state (crudely speaking), that would give full force, legal as well as rhetorical, to this distinction, as seen in the pronouncements of the Theodosian Code.9

Even taking into the account the problematic intellectual history and ideological framework of the term “popular religion,” even more striking for many scholars is the simple fact that, empirically speaking, describing any given practice or belief as purely “popular” is likely to be, quite simply, inaccurate. The vast majority of religious practices once ubiquitously described as “popular” were in fact shared across all social classes. Peter Brown famously demonstrated this nearly thirty years ago in The Cult of the Saints, with regard to both the cult of the dead and the cult of the saints, but many such examples can be found. Just one would be the use of charms and amulets of various kinds: their abundant survival in a wide range of materials (from cheap to precious), featuring diverse levels of linguistic expertise and degrees of personalization, demonstrates that they were widely used by individuals of varying socio-economic status, and indeed were sometime fabricated by clerics.10 So why have particular types of practice been associated with the lower classes? Again, we have to look at the genesis of the structure of the history of religion as going back to Late Antiquity itself. Late antique preachers themselves used an ultimately class-based discourse in order to stigmatize practices of which they did not approve, fully cognizant of the fact that their elite audience were themselves engaged in such activities. Caesarius of Arles, for instance, was just one of a number of clerical writers to use rusticitas as a pejorative category in this way, labelling certain practices as characteristic of “rustics” in order to persuade his largely elite audience to change their behavior.11 A helpful parallel comes in the long-standing (again pejorative) association of certain religious practices with women in order to denigrate them, as again with amulets, the scriptural form in particular often associated with them by the church fathers.12 The connection is polemical and ideological: deconstructing such discourses and their intellectual foundation is an important task of historians of religion.

The need for scholars of religion to unpack these problematic associations rather than accepting them as transparently factual is, therefore, obvious. A good deal of scholarship has indeed gone further, often seeking to understand religious practices and beliefs in terms of broad homogeneity rather than social differentiation. Most discernible, in the study of medieval and early modern religion from the 1980s onwards, is a clear rejection of the model of popular religion in favor of a picture of a communal, shared piety.13 The category of the laity is indeed discussed by Georgia Frank in this issue, having been revived recently for our period in a study of late antique Gaul by Lisa Bailey.14 But how far do we want to take an idea of homogeneity? In the case of ancient Greek religion, John Mikalson retained the term “popular” religion for his 1983 study, but by “popular” he meant “average”:

the religious views and attitudes that were acceptable to the majority of Athenians . . . These are the views and beliefs which were a part of the common cultural experience of the Athenians and which were spoken of and acted upon daily by average Athenian citizens.15

This might seem to be unhelpfully bland, and certainly does not seem to offer anything to a historian interested in a more sharply focused social and cultural history of religion, especially one that seeks to uncover subaltern experience and indeed agency.

So what alternative models might we use in writing social and cultural histories of religion? William Christian’s insightful study, Local Religion in Sixteenth-Century Spain, published the same year as Peter Brown’s Cult of the Saints, offered an exciting alternative paradigm. Thanks to unique archival material at his disposal in the form of a series of questionnaires carried out across the towns and villages of New Castile between 1585–90, Christian was able to produce a highly granular analysis of a fascinating range of beliefs and praxes. The in-depth study of this material led Christian to argue that

there were two levels of Catholicism—that of the Church Universal, based on the sacraments, the Roman liturgy, and the Roman calendar; and a local one based on particular sacred places, images, and relics, locally chosen patron saints, idiosyncratic ceremonies, and a unique calendar built up from the settlement’s own sacred history.16

Christian was clear from his research that class was not the key element of differentiation: “The kind of religion described in this study was rural and urban, lettered and unlettered, more or less modern and even applied to the king. Popular does not fit.”17 In the final analysis we have here a new binary: this lies in the difference “between religion as practiced and religion as prescribed.”18 This model of local religion was later fruitfully adopted for the ancient world by David Frankfurter in his 1998 book on religion in Roman Egypt.19 Frankfurter argues here convincingly that

[W]ithin (or at least in the context of) local religion one can accommodate and highlight the important continuities in religious practice between socioeconomic classes, a problem that previous constructions of “popular religion” have been unable to negotiate.20

The case of Roman Egypt is clearly a highly productive one for looking at a “local” iteration of religion. The most influential alternative model currently in use, however, is obviously that of “lived religion.” This movement will be discussed more thoroughly by Nicola Denzey Lewis elsewhere in this issue, but is also highly germane to this essay, though my discussion will, by necessity, be brief and, moreover, partial. The concept of “lived religion” has been developed most prominently in the anglophone sphere in the context of modern American religiosity by David Hall,21 Meredith McGuire,22 and Robert Orsi,23 although it has its origins in French sociological scholarship on “religion vécue.”24 Lived religion approaches use the work of scholars Michel de Certeau and Pierre Bourdieu, with the concepts of appropriation, bricolage, and habitus as key methodological building blocks.25 The approach is increasingly attractive to scholars of ancient and late ancient religion, associated above all currently with the work of Jorg Rüpke, in particular with his major European Research Council project that took place from 2012–17: “Lived Ancient Religion: questioning ‘cults’ and ‘polis religion,’”26 as well as with the new journal Lived Religion in the Roman Empire, which is dedicated to taking this project further forward.

A concentration on the individual in religion is a central preoccupation of lived religion scholarship, finding particular bite in reacting against a long tradition of understanding ancient religion in terms of community-religion (as in the model of “polis religion”).27 In an introductory, agenda-setting article in the first issue of the new journal Religion in the Roman Empire, Rubina Raja and Jorg Rüpke indeed cite de Certeau’s concept of appropriation, highlighting “the strategic selectivity of the individual agent’s making prefabricated meaning one’s own.”28 Moreover, Rüpke’s own recent monograph, arising from the project, is subtitled Lived Religion and the Individual in Ancient Rome.29 The problem is that the very nature of this agenda leads, inevitably, when studying ancient religion, to a concentration on the religion of elite males—the only type of ancient individual who can generally bear sustained investigation. This takes us a long way, of course, from the original aims of historians of popular religion, but also, arguably, from those scholars of lived religion in the modern era. Ultimately, I would suggest lived religion as currently defined provides a useful but only partial model in its concentration on the individual. Individuals constructed their own religion as members of communities, and as actors in a grossly unequal landscapes of power, not only just in religious terms but also in social and economic structures. Considering the siting of religious practise in their social and economic contexts remains an essential task and, moving forward, exploring the ways in which religion could play a role in social struggle will bear fruit for our understanding of late ancient religion as well as history more broadly.

Lest this essay appear to tilt overly at windmills in starting from the premise that popular religion is dead, it should be acknowledged that scholarship within the realm of “popular religion” from the 1990s onwards does include a spectrum of approaches.30 Some scholars have successfully used different, often helpful, tactics to retain the perceived utility of the term,31 in the face of opposition elsewhere.32 Ramsay MacMullen launched a forceful counterattack, restating the case of popular religion, with a push-back at Peter Brown in particular, especially in The Second Church, published in 2009.33 Here he goes so far as to argue that there were “two Christianities” in Late Antiquity, the first representing “the Establishment: ecclesiastical leadership, councils, and theology, scriptural citations…clergy…chanting…a laity almost wholly recruited from the local aristocracy” and a second comprised of “the 95 percent, worshiping in their own way.”34 This 95 percent, according to MacMullen, worshipped in their own ways, notably in funerary basilicas, with martyr cult offering a rare opportunity for a rapprochement of the “two Christianities.”35 Here is not the place to offer a detailed critique of MacMullen’s approach: however, while his determination to investigate the religious agency of non-elites is one I share, the methodology at work here does not offer the most productive way forward for a broader investigation of late antique popular religion. We cannot and should not determine the “popularity” of religion by counting seats in surviving ecclesiastical structures, for instance.36 As the proponents of lived religion approaches have so rightly established, “religion” exists far beyond the confines of ecclesiastical structures, embedded in the home, in the workplace, in the landscape, in the structures of society and culture. We must likewise seek a putative “popular religion” as embedded in this much broader framework.

Late ancient religion was fundamentally embedded in late ancient society and thereby enmeshed in structures of power and dependency. Belief and practice were shaped by these structures, which I would argue we need to understand as operating through the prism of class,37 as well as through other lenses, such as gender. While the agency of the individual in constructing their own “lived religion” is a crucial aspect of the analysis, individuals did not construct their religion in a vacuum, but instead operated as part of a larger community: household, village, urban quarter. Moreover, as individuals they were also interpellated into broader structures of culture, power, and ideology.38 In this way, popular religion operates like popular culture more generally: that is, not as a separate domain, divorced from broader structures. As defined in a seminal article by Stuart Hall: “there is no whole, authentic, autonomous ‘popular culture’ which lies outside the field of force of the relations of cultural power and domination.”39 The same applies to popular religion. Furthermore, this popular religion, like popular culture, is not static, but dynamic,40 a point made nearly 30 years ago by Bob Scribner with respect to the early modern period: “popular religion is not a fixed category or set of practices, but something which has a continuing dynamic which occurs in two ways: both as developing practice and in relationship to the institutional church.”41

Clearly at this point I should introduce an example—even speculative—of how we might put this kind of popular religion analysis into practice. I shall pick a particularly late antique phenomenon: the festival of the Kalends of January.42 Caesarius of Arles is only one of a number of patristic authorities to decry “superstitious” rituals associated with this festival, practices which he asserts are carried out not by his primary intended audience, the landowning elite of the region of Arles, but rather by rustici—the landowners’ social inferiors and subordinates, including those within their own households: vicini, famuli, and familiae.43 A whole range of practices were disparaged by our clerical sources, in both East and West, including making social visits, sometimes dressed in costume, for the exchange of greetings, and receipt of gifts. Caesarius tells his landowner audience not to offer hospitality to their social inferiors and subordinates (presumably including tenants, coloni, and indeed poorer neighbors) when they come knocking at their doors at New Year. The bishop firmly warns his audience not to show sympathy towards the revellers, and certainly not to let them into their homes. Instead, he urges correction by corporal punishment as well as by example.44 This strongly suggests that that the expectations of Caesarius’ congregations would have been rather different: they were obviously minded to be tolerant of, or even find enjoyment in, the revels. This is strongly suggested by the bishop’s insistence for his audience that Kalends practices are spiritually contaminating even when merely looked at, let alone laughed at (whether, he says, you are laughing with them or at them).45 Gift exchange is a widely discussed element of Kalends visits in Late Antiquity according to our sources,46 and we can assume that social superiors were expected to provide gifts not least in the form of hospitality, though Caesarius tells us nothing of this. Ultimately, these exchanges were indeed one of the customary practices or rituals whereby the fundamentally unequal and yet relatively stable social and economic relations of the late antique countryside were maintained, alongside more obviously coercive and extractive means.

This example can, therefore, be parsed to provide one possible model for analyzing popular religion. We might at first glance dismiss our patristic source’s association of a particular religious and cultural practice (in this case New Year ritual visits) with the lower classes as a purely rhetorical tactic designed to denigrate. However, a closer unpacking shows that what we can see is a religious and cultural practice that is shared, by persons of very different social status and of levels of resource, playing different roles, with different agendas at play. In providing a truly rounded analysis of our religious practices, we need to go beyond the mere deconstruction of patristic rhetoric, and consider the social and economic background in which religious practices took place. In this case we are looking at religious ritual as embedded in a rural landscape in which patterns of landholding and traditional elite dominance still prevailed—although this would not last for much longer. In the urban landscapes of Late Antiquity, meanwhile, accounts of Kalends rituals bring rather more obvious discord into view. In Amaseia, Asterius describes the aggressive demands for money from an underclass, and assaults on clerics.47 In Carthage, Augustine imagines revellers shouting, “Let’s create some chaos.”48 Such examples take us to a much more directly oppositional, conflictual model of popular religion. That the picture is varied in this way is entirely to be expected from a nuanced and dynamic model.

To conclude this brief essay, popular religion is indeed a lived religion: a social and cultural domain embedded both in the local habitus and within broader social and economic structures. Rituals and practices were not the unique preserve of any one class or type of person. “Religion,” as an embedded domain, provided a site for contestation as well as oppression, communal and individual expression and action. Approaches to popular culture thus suggest a potential model for a new kind of “popular religion” as constructed through a series of processes: creation, appropriation, “poaching.” Both have influences from “above” and “below.” Both contain elements we might call oppositional, but neither need or indeed should be considered as inherently oppositional. Both can be shared by various subgroups, and can have diverse possible relationships to elite and ecclesiastical forms. Both popular culture and lived religion operate across unequal landscapes, and the actors involved have markedly different levels of access to resources, and indeed to power. Questions of power and inequality are central, therefore, to the analysis of both. If our contemporary study of “lived religion” can incorporate these questions, then its results will be more truly important and wide ranging; otherwise, the need for a new era in the study of “popular religion” is evident.



I would like to thank my fellow panelists as well as the attendees of the workshop entitled “New/Old Approaches to Late Ancient Religion: Re-evaluating Neglected and Rejected Models” at the International Conference on Patristics Studies (Oxford 2019). I look forward to the day when we can discuss these ideas in person again once more. Special thanks to the ever-stimulating David Frankfurter, who made sure we continued the discussion in print.


Peter Brown, The Cult of the Saints in Late Antiquity (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1981), 19.


Meredith B. McGuire, Lived Religion: Faith and Practice in Everyday Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 46.


E.g., taking a variety of approaches: Natalie Zemon Davis, “Some Tasks and Themes in the Study of Popular Religion,” in The Pursuit of Holiness in Late Medieval and Renaissance Religion: Papers from the University of Michigan Conference, ed. H. A. Oberman and C. E. Trinkhaus (Leiden: Brill, 1974), 308–336; J.-C. Schmitt, “‘Religion populaire’ et culture folklorique,” in Annales: ESC 31 (1976): 951–53l; R. W. Scribner, Popular Culture and Popular Movements in Reformation Germany (London: Hambledon Continuum, 1987).


Brown, The Cult of the Saints, 13–17.


Robert Orsi, The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, 1889–1950, 2nd ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), xvi.


As per Seneca: “religio honors the gods, superstitio wrongs them” (religio deos colit, superstitio violat); De Clementia 2.5.1 (Loeb Classical Library 214: 438).


See the discussion in M. Beard, J. A. North, and S. Price, Religions of Rome, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 1: 211–44, and Richard Gordon, “Religion in the Roman Empire: the Civic Compromise and its Limits,” in Pagan Priests, ed. M. Beard and J. A. North (London: Duckworth, 1990), 233–55.


See M. R. Salzman, “‘Superstitio’ in the Codex Theodosianus and the Persecution of Pagans,” Vigiliae christianae 41 (1987): 172–88.


See still Fernand Cabrol and Henri Leclercq, Dictionanaire d’archeologie chrétienne et de liturgie, Vol. 1.2 (Paris: Letouzey et Ané, 1904–07), 1784–1860. For a recent study, see Theodore De Bruyn, Making Amulets Christian: Artefacts, Scribes and Contexts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017). On the association of clerics with the production of charms and amulets in late antique Gaul in particular, see, e.g., Caesarius of Arles, Sermo 50.1, V. Elig. 2.16 (MGH SRM 4: 706). Compare also the conciliar prohibitions against the clerical production of sortes in particular: Statuta ecclesia antiqua c. 83; Venet. 461–91 can. 16; (CCL 148: 156) Agde 506 can. 42 (CCL 148: 210–11); Orléans 511 can. 30 (CCL 148b: 30).


For detailed discussion with references to other scholarship, see Lucy Grig, “Caesarius of Arles and the Campaign Against Popular Culture in Late Antiquity,” Early Medieval Europe 26.1 (2018): 61–81.


E.g., John Chrysostom links the practice of wearing scriptural amulets with “women and little children” (Hom. Stat. 19.4 [Patrologia Graeca 49.196]), while Jerome links it with “superstitious little women” (Comm. Matt. 4.23.6 [Patrologia Latina 26.168]); cf. Chrysostom again, discussing the same passage from Matthew as Jerome, is more neutral in tone but again specifies women: Homiliae in Matthaeum 72 (PG 58.669). See further D. S. Kalleres, “Drunken Hags with Amulets and Prostitutes with Erotic Spells: The Re-Feminization of Magic in Late Antique Christian Homilies,” in Daughters of Hecate: Women & Magic in the Ancient World, ed. K. B. Stratton and D. S. Kalleres (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 219–51.


Usefully discussed with full bibliographical discussion in Laura A. Smoller, “‘Popular’ Religious Cultures,” in The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Christianity, ed. J. H. Arnold (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 340–56.


Lisa K. Bailey, The Religious Worlds of the Laity in Late Antique Gaul (London: Bloomsbury, 2015).


John Mikalson, Athenian Popular Religion (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983), 5–6. We can compare Yitzak Hen’s definition of (early medieval) popular culture as “the culture in which the vast majority of the population—laity and clerics, peasants and aristocrats—participated”; see Hen, Culture and Religion in Merovingian Gaul A.D. 481–751 (Leiden, New York, Cologne: Brill, 1995), 19.


William A. Christian, Local Religion in Sixteenth-Century Spain (Princeton: Princeton University Press), 3.


Christian, Local Religion, 178.


Christian, Local Religion, 178.


David Frankfurter, Religion in Roman Egypt: Assimilation and Resistance (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998).


Frankfurter, Religion in Roman Egypt, 34.


E.g., David Hall, ed., Lived Religion in America: Toward A History of Practice (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997).


McGuire, Lived Religion.


See Robert Orsi, “Everyday Miracles,” in Lived Religion in America, 3–21; Orsi, The Madonna of 115th Street.


For a useful summary of the work by Le Bras and others, see D. Hervieu-Léger, “‘What Scripture Tells Me’: Spontaneity and Regulation within the Catholic Charismatic Renewal,” in Lived Religion in America, 22–40.


See, e.g., McGuire, Lived Religion, 31, 64.


For a brief summary, see Janico Albrecht et al., “Religion in the Making: The Lived Ancient Religion Approach,” Religion 48:4 (2018): 568–593. See more fully now V. Gasparini et al., eds., Lived Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World: Approaching Religious Transformations from Archaeology, History, and Classics (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2020).


Provoking a counterattack in the form of John Scheid, The Gods, the State, and the Individual; Reflections on Civic Religion in Rome, trans. C. Ando (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016).


R. Raja and J. Rüpke, “Appropriating Religion: Methodological Issues in Testing the ‘Lived Ancient Religion’ Approach,” Religion in the Roman Empire 1.1, 11–19 at 13.


J. Rüpke, On Roman Religion: Lived Religion and the Individual in Ancient Rome (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2016).


For a useful methodological discussion, see F. Künzel, “Paganisme, syncrétisme et culture religieuse populaire au Haut Moyen Âge: Réflexions de méthode,” trans. F. Chevy, Annales (Économies, Sociétés, Civilisations) 47.4–5 (1992): 1055–1069.


E.g., Karen Louise Jolly, Popular Religion in Late Saxon England: Elf Charms in Context (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996), 13, where she talks about “overlapping spheres of influence” between “popular” and “formal” religion; compare Bernadette Filotas, Pagan Survivals, Superstitions and Popular Cultures (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 2005).


David Frankfurter is particularly robust on the deficiencies of the concept: “Beyond Magic and Superstition,” in Late Ancient Christianity, ed. V. Burrus, The People’s History of Christianity, vol. 2 (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005), 255–58.


Ramsay MacMullen, The Second Church: Popular Christianity AD 200–400 (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009).


MacMullen, The Second Church, 110, here returning to his much-cited earlier argument made in “The Preacher’s Audience (AD 350–400),” Journal of Theological Studies 40 (1989): 503–11, in which he argued that that church congregations were made up of only the social elite, an argument which has not gone unchallenged: see Pauline Allen, “The Homilist and the Congregation: Chrysostom,” Augustinianum 36 (1996): 397–421, and Philip Rousseau, “‘The Preacher’s Audience’: a More Optimistic View,” in Ancient History in a Modern University, vol. 2: Early Christianity, Late Antiquity and Beyond, ed. T. W. Hillard et al. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998), 391–400. However, I share MacMullen’s view that the sermons were targeted at social elites, as discussed in my readings of Caesarius.


MacMullen, The Second Church, 108.


MacMullen looked at 255 churches, in 155 towns and cities, and estimated that attendance at church could have included only between 1 and 8% of the population: The Second Church, 101.


I write this in full awareness that the majority of scholars (at least in the Anglophone sphere) would prefer to reject class as a prism through which to understand the social and economic history of the ancient world. Nevertheless, rightly rejecting any attempt to apply traditional Marxist class categories to late ancient society does not remove the historical reality of differential power and resources, and the resulting tensions (if not classic “class struggle” per se) arising from these.


The concept is that of Louis Althusser, “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (Notes towards an Investigation),” in Althusser, Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays, trans. B. Brewster (New York: NYU Press, 2001), 185–126.


Stuart Hall, “Notes on Deconstructing the ‘Popular,’” in People’s History and Socialist Theory, ed. R. Samuel (London: Routledge, 1981), 227–40, at 232.


See again Hall, “Notes on Deconstructing the ‘Popular,’” 235.


Scribner, Popular Culture and Popular Movements, 44; cf. again the comments of Jolly, who analyses popular religion in terms of “overlapping spheres of influence”: Popular Religion in Late Saxon England, 13.


For a full history of the festival see Michel Meslin, La fête des kalendes de janvier dans l’empire romain. Étude d’un rituel de Nouvel An (Brussels: Collection Latomus, 1970); for a recent study of the festival in Late Antiquity, focusing on popular culture, see Lucy Grig, “Interpreting the Kalends of January: A Case Study for Late Antique Popular Culture?” in Popular Culture in the Ancient World, ed. Lucy Grig (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), 237–56.


Caesarius of Arles, Serm. 193.2(CCL 104: 784).


si in peccatis eorum participes esse non vultis, cervulum, sive anniculam, aut alia quaelibet portenta ante domos vestras venire non permittatis, sed castigate potius atque corripite et, si potestis, etiam cum severitate distringite; Caes., Serm. 193.2 (CCL 104: 784).


quam cum illis vel de illis ad infelicem risum suum animum relaxare; Serm. 192.4.


E.g., Libanius, Or. 9.15; 9.17; Asterius of Amasea, Hom. 4.3–5 (Homilies I-XIV: Text, Introduction and Notes, ed. C. Datema [Leiden: Brill, 1970]), 39–41; Maximus of Turin, Serm. 98 extr. 2 (CCL 23: 390–1).


Ast., Hom. 4.4, 4.6.


Aug., Tract. in Ioh. 5.17, (CCL 36: 41) discussed by Brent Shaw, Sacred Violence: African Christians and Sectarian Hatred in the Age of Augustine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 220 n. 88. Shaw comments on the expression cited: “‘Alogiemus’ was a shout with Greek roots, that was an incitement to disorderly conduct, literally ‘let’s get things out of order’ or ‘let’s create some chaos’”; he also points out, however, that there is “little evidence” of “conflict and hostilities” (222).