The article has undergone two brief peer reviews and a very thorough GA review. I am greatly indebted to Ealdgyth's comprehensive commentary at the latter, and eagerly await the "Oppose" she will no doubt be lodging here [winking emoticon]. I cleaned up the article to the best of my ability, and rely on the team here to catch anything that might have passed me by. I welcome any criticism and commentary you can give me. Geuiwogbil (Talk) 16:11, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
I saw one date range specified as 301–2, while the rest of the date ranges are fully specified (example, 301–302) ... should be consistent throughout. (Picky, picky.) SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:20, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
May I be picky-picky too? "31 B.C.–A.D. 337"—space the en dash if there is one space or more within the items themselves. See this if you can bear it. (Nerd-warning in advance.) Personally, I'd get rid of the fly-spots in BC and AD, but it's entirely up to you (31 BC – AD 337).
My personal pref. is for two closing digits in a range where possible (117–19). No big deal.
Opening sentence: do we need the commas? Do we need the comma after "Constantius"?
Consider inserting "it was" before "weakest. It almost needs a colon rather than a semicolon – or a dash.
Is "else" doing any good?
Perhaps a comma after "260" (you don't have to, though—it's a pretty short sentence).
The reversal sentence: "did" grammatically marks the meaning; perhaps one "did" is enough; see what you think.
Unusually, I seem to be taking issue with commas ... this is otherwise excellent writing: "His son, Constantine, on taking the imperial office in 306, restored Christians to full legal equality, and returned property confiscated during the persecution." Reads more smoothly without the comma after "equality"?
Is there a less ungainly equivalent word to "de-emphasize"? I can't think of one; you may be able to.
Past or present tense? "From the time it first appears to its legalization under Constantine, Christianity was an illegal religion in the eyes of the Roman state."
I haven't read further than the start of the first section. It's a fascinating topic, and the prose is of a type encountered every so often: elegance, clarity, technical skill, marred by a few recurring blank spots. That's a very good position to be in as a writer. My only other possible issue at this stage is that there are an awful lot of claims that I hope are rooted in authoritative sources further down. Interested to see other reviewers' takes. Tony(talk) 12:13, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
Thank you for the kind review, Tony. On your points:
I can't find that date range in the article.
I put two closing digits in a range where possible, too. However, where a number of the ranges end in the oughts, I switch across to full date readouts: 303-305. Since the tables contain dates of both varieties, I put them all in full readouts for consistency. If this doesn't comply with the MOS, or if I'm not complying to my own rules, do tell.
Some other kind soul has removed the commas there.
I am not sure what change you're looking for here.
Very few named refs; some can be added. These are not required, but they make thnings much neater. Will make a list of places where they could be used. Ling.Nut (talk) 14:17, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
Isn't there a bot that can do this? I remember seeing one trawling across one of my articles some time ago. It would certainly spare us a lot of legwork if we can find it. Geuiwogbil (Talk) 03:53, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Oppose, somewhat reluctantly; but the footnotes are misrepresentations as they stand. (Added after the discussion immediately below.) SeptentrionalisPMAnderson 19:46, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Neutral on this issue; could we have another opinion on whether the present form of the footnotes is clear and justified? SeptentrionalisPMAnderson 15:13, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
I have doubts about this. It's a delicate subject, dealing with a surprisingly foreign legal and social system. Excessive reliance on primary sources (and, by their nature, biased primary sources) has been only spottily corrected by consulting secondary sources.
My principal reservation is From the time it first appears to its legalization under Constantine, Christianity was an illegal religion in the eyes of the Roman state. Its members were always suspect, and could be arrested and condemned to death at a moment's notice. Yes, Christians could be put to death at a moment's notice in principle; but this is doubly misleading: they normally weren't, as much of the article tries to explain - and, more importantly, in principle, so could anybody else. This extract from Gibbon on the extent of the Emperor's power, in principle, should be enlightening; also Gibbon's note that using that power without the gravest necessity would be condemned by public opinion.
It wasn't just Nero who executed Senators without trial and at a moment's notice; Hadrian executed four at the beginning of his reign, and two at the end - and we know this because Cassius Dio condemned his memory for it. SeptentrionalisPMAnderson 15:16, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
Thank you for taking the time to respond, PMAnderson. I hope you don't mind if I object to some of your characterizations here. You write of "excessive reliance on primary sources", but I must confess (and I'm perhaps ashamed to confess), I haven't actually consulted the primary sources at all. The only path through which primary sources have entered the article, and the only means by which they've influenced the text, has been through the secondary sources I've consulted. I believe the article reflects their emphases and choices. If they mirror the narratives of Lactantius and Eusebius, so much the worse; that is their choice. You might note a large number of citations to primary sources in the footnotes, and infer that they're the primary source of the evidence presented in the article. You would be incorrect. A second look reveals that every primary source citation is immediately followed by a secondary source citation.
Let me explain. Take what is now note 275: "Eusebius, De Martyribus Palestinae 3.1; Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 151, 356 n.27." I have made an edit that clarifies precisely what I've done here: "Eusebius, De Martyribus Palestinae 3.1, cited in Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 151, 356 n.27." I have not read Eusebius' Martyrs of Palestine; I have read Barnes. I cite Eusebius' Martyrs because it is the sole source Barnes provides for his evidence. I offer it to the reader, not as a means of checking the text (although that would certainly be fine, too), but as a means of checking Barnes. Suppose you find a piece in the article you don't quite believe. Were I only to cite Barnes, you might say "Oh, Harvard University Press, good reviews, tenured professor", and ignore the more pervasive slant of Barnes' sources. As a follower of WP:WEIGHT and WP:RS, this is what I, as an editor, must do. If no one provides detailed criticism of Barnes' narrative, I have no reason to question it. You, however, have the chance to check the citation, you realize that the sole ancient authority is a rather rhetorical passage in one of these authors. The only modern to accept it is Barnes, and Barnes, well, you've heard that name before: too credulous by half. You dismiss the tale.
I have reflected the best secondary accounts of the events I could find. I did not create an narrative with primary sources, only to 'correct' them with secondary sources. No: It was secondary accounts, first to last. If perhaps you feel that some vein of scholarship has lain untouched, or if you can point out where a critical scholar has dispute the evidence, or would shade the evidence differently, I welcome your comments. As it is, I fear that either I have misunderstood the substance of your complaint, or you have misunderstood the nature of my article. Geuiwogbil (Talk) 03:53, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Then I'm afraid I must oppose. You are entitled to summarize Barnes' text; you are entitled to borrow his quotes, although this is often unwise; you are not entitled to take his footnotes, with one minor exception. Lactantius, De Mortibus Persecutorum 33.1; Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 20 claims that one of our editors has consulted Lactantius. You may not cite works you have not consulted. If (and only if) you are quoting Barnes' quotation from Lactantius, you can put something like Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 20, which quotes these words from Lactantius, De Mortibus Persecutorum 33.1.SeptentrionalisPMAnderson 15:57, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Ah, this is a shame. I have consulted Lactantius, I have consulted Eusebius, and I have also consulted the martyrs' acts, by way of Musurillo and Tilley. What I have not done, and why I say "I have not read them", is read them in Latin or Greek—I am unlettered. I will re-read them, confirm that (in their translations) they support the assertions in the article, and will remove them where they do not. (I will not remove the attached statements in these cases, deferring to the greater expertise of the secondary sources.) For those works I have not consulted—inscriptions, Optatus, the minor works of Cyprian, Augustine's works against the Donatists—will be marked as "Secondary source, citing primary source". If this is not satisfactory to you, I will remove the citation to the primary source altogether. I will post to your talk page when I have completed the runthrough. I hope to be done within four hours of this posting.
The emphasis from my first reply, however, remains: Primary sources have only entered into the text through the secondary sources, and this article reflects their emphases, not mine. I hope that, by rechecking, I will correct the feeling that the sources have been misrepresented, and address your oppose. Geuiwogbil (Talk) 21:55, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Ah, that is another story. If you have consulted a version, cite that version, preferably by the translator's title (therefore normally English, not Latin). When this represents what has actually been done, I'll have another look at it. SeptentrionalisPMAnderson 22:21, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Done. I can now attest to having read everything cited in this article. I will trump up some bibliographic information for the translations I have used after dinner, to which I must now attend. Geuiwogbil (Talk) 00:13, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
As for the disputed sentence, it's probably a case of rhetorical effusion and improper emphasis on the part of Frend. Since it can be removed without compromising the rest of the paragraph, I have done so. Geuiwogbil (Talk) 03:53, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
The Edict of Milan appears in quotes twice. The first time informs us that it wasn't called that in 313 (quite true; is it worth saying?); the second is On June 13, Licinius published the "Edict of Milan" in Nicomedia which are mere scare quotes. SeptentrionalisPMAnderson 20:30, 8 June 2009 (UTC)
I'm a worthless pedant: An edict is an edict, a letter is a letter, and by God, people should know the difference. I removed the quotation marks in the second instance, but I want to keep them in the first. Geuiwogbil (Talk) 03:53, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Christianity was also deeply threatening to Roman mechanisms of rule: the Romans preferred everyone to have a place, defer to their local oligarchs (who should be friends and allies of Rome, and defer to the Emperor), and follow their ancestral religions. The Emperors specifically disliked unauthorized social groups, and were slow to authorize groups (Trajan refused Nicomedia permission to have a fire department). Diocletian held the same views in exaggerated form (he required everybody to follow their father's profession, controlled prices, and increased ceremonial respect for the Emperor), presumably as a response to the Great Upheaval of the third century. I see you have a comment on the extent of Diocletian's reforms; one of the three books on Diocletian should make a comment on the direction of them (as a whole).
"Christianity was also deeply threatening to Roman mechanisms of rule": not an explanation I've yet seen. You might even tack this up on the "pro" side for Roman government: Once you've got the bishops in line, it's easier to coordinate religious uniformity than it would be with a mass of different cultists. They certainly cultivate a far more intensive patron-client relationship than the oracles of Asclepius and Apollo, which could be useful in mobilizing support. Of course, the doctrinal rigidity and heretical impulses in Christianity make it impossible to get the bishops in line—a lesson emperors of the fourth and fifth centuries would quickly discover. On first glance, however, bishops would just look like new oligarchs, stabilizing new social hierarchies and guaranteeing new cults. Why should they be any different? Grant them a few bequests, keep their established interests safe, and they'll fawn all over you, just like the old oligarchs. I'm not convinced. Still, I'd be interested to see the argument given a full workup. Do you have a source? Geuiwogbil (Talk) 00:01, 13 June 2009 (UTC)
"make a comment on the direction of [Diocletian's reforms] (as a whole)": This is pretty much what I'm taking from Potter in the third paragraph of "Persecution and Tetrarchic ideology". "The Diocletianic regime's activist stance, however, and Diocletian's belief in the power of central government to effect major change in morals and society, make him peculiar.... Under his rule, coinage, taxation, architecture, law, and history were all radically reconstructed to reflect his authoritarian and conservative ideology." Unfortunately, I don't think I have any of "the three books on Diocletian" anymore, and I don't have access to interlibrary loan. What would such a sentence look like, by the by? "Diocletian re-established the edifice of government on the sturdy stone of meritocratic bureaucracy" or some similar Edwardian waffling? Geuiwogbil (Talk) 00:01, 13 June 2009 (UTC)
Diocletian presented himself, like some earlier Emperors/Augustus, Trajan, and Aurelius, as the restorer of the world. As such, he intensified the long-standing Roman preference for ancient customs, and the Imperial opposition to independent societies....SeptentrionalisPMAnderson 19:02, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
Look at more sources before calling Diocletian (as in effect you do) more revolutionary than Augustus, Trajan, Septimius, or Aurelian. On the other hand, if Fergus Millar thinks so, it must be the new conventional wisdom. SeptentrionalisPMAnderson 17:02, 12 June 2009 (UTC)
Could you tell me what Fergus Millar says about Diocletian? I don't have access to any of his works. Also: If you have suggestions on how to tone down the implicit hints that Diocletian was more revolutionary than his predecessors, I'd welcome them. Geuiwogbil (Talk) 00:01, 13 June 2009 (UTC)
I prefer Lyons and Izmir; follow your own dialect. But whatever you use, be consistent. SeptentrionalisPMAnderson 17:02, 12 June 2009 (UTC)
Because that's how W.H.C. Frend decided to translate it. Would you prefer "hatred of humankind" or something like? Geuiwogbil (Talk) 02:15, 22 June 2009 (UTC)
I would prefer "hatred of the human race", as being what Tacitus said; Church and Broddribb use "hatred against mankind". SeptentrionalisPMAnderson 15:08, 22 June 2009 (UTC)
Hmm? How would you "hate against" something? Is that like "hating on" something? Can't you just hate? I have taken your translation. Geuiwogbil (Talk) 22:48, 22 June 2009 (UTC)
Diocletian's belief in the power of central government to effect major change in morals and society was commonplace; consider the jus trium liberorum, by which Augustus attempted to use the power of the central government to change demographics. I have toned the whole section down, but I suspect that you or your source is barking up the wrong tree. Again, more sources. SeptentrionalisPMAnderson 15:17, 22 June 2009 (UTC)
It would be, as I have said, "[my] source[s]", which drew constant contrast between the 'active' government of Diocletian and the 'passive' governments of his predecessors. Williams' biography, for example, begins with the accession of Marcus Aurelius, and paints a picture of a man entirely hamstrung, first by his army, and next by the Senatorial elite. Diocletian, Williams implies, moved with much more freedom. Most of my sources speak in awed tones of Diocletian's reforms. Take Alan Bowman, in the Cambridge Ancient History: "the accession of Diocletian has been more or less universally hailed by posterity as one of the most significant watersheds in the history of the Roman empire...there is no doubt at all that the institutions, the army, the bureaucracy and the fiscal regime (inter alia) were by A.D. 305 very different from what they had been twenty years earlier". I don't have Potter's book with me anymore—it was accessed with an ebook account I no longer have.
I really don't know what you seek to change here. As you say, much of this is "not surprising". But, for the untutored, the commonplace may explain the new. Moral reform + Decian and Valerian precedent + expansion of the Christian community = Great Persecution. We have to explain all those ingredients, not just the ones that seem particularly unusual.
"more sources"? Where; which ones; why. As a Wikipedian, I am a vessel of the sources for my subject; I am not a vessel of all sources, everywhere. I cannot make syntheses. I cannot add contrasting and enlightening data if my sources do not. Unless the sources you suggest are intimately connected to the events and material presented in this article, they would be unacceptable. Geuiwogbil (Talk) 22:48, 22 June 2009 (UTC)
I wasn't sure because the citation style is unfamiliar to me, but refs 350, 351, and 355 do not appear to be in a consitent format as the others. Perhaps Ealdgyth is a better person to comment on this since I'm not the expert.
The section entitled Prior Persecutions does not mention the most famous and first persecution by Nero. According to my sources, Nero blamed the Christians for the fire that destroyed Rome. Nero was also suspected of starting the fire. St. Peter is believed to have been put to death by Nero. This is the beginning of Roman persecution of Christians and should be mentioned in this section. NancyHeisetalk 03:06, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Comments - sources look okay, links checked out with the link checker tool. (I passed this article for GA, and did a pretty intense one, indeed.) Ealdgyth - Talk 13:40, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
In regards to the footnotes issue that PMAnderson brought up above, I'm agnostic. Its not how I would personally do the article (I prefer to exclusively use secondary sources as much as possible) but I do know that others prefer the approach taken here. In fact, Deacon attempted to get me to do much the same with Wilfrid, but we sorta-compromised on including a discussion of the sources available instead. Ealdgyth - Talk 00:35, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
Just checking in. PMAnderson asked me to take a look at this FAC as he's busy. I'm working through the article now. Andrew Dalby 13:49, 12 June 2009 (UTC)
Comments: Generally this is a very strong, well-documented article that fully deserves FA status. I have added some notes on the first 30 paras. I'm going to try to read on, but, like PMAnderson, I'm a bit busy! Congratulations, overall, on a fine piece of work.
Thank you for your kind words and extensive comments, Andrew! I hope you don't mind if I reply to your comments inline. Geuiwogbil (Talk) 00:01, 13 June 2009 (UTC)
In all this section I respect your viewpoint and I don't press for mine. The text as now adjusted is acceptable!
Para 3. "Where Galerius and Diocletian were avid persecutors, Constantius was unenthusiastic". From what the article says later, I would suggest "Where Galerian and, increasingly, Diocletian were determined to pursue this policy, Constantius was unenthusiastic".
That seems like a lengthy circumlocution. If we accept your emendation to delay Diocletian's eagerness, "were determined persecutors" is still a good three words shorter than "were determined to pursue this policy". Does "persecutors" have too much stigma on it? I have not yet changed the wording of the article.
My real discomfort is that we don't know enough about the intentions of these people or about their real personal involvement. "Avid persecutor" sounds a bit too much like the stock villain in a saint's life (which they were, of course).
Note 3, citing de Ste-Croix, is important: I would consider working this information into the introduction, perhaps as an extension of the words "most Christians avoided punishment".
As a quotation, or just as bare information? I will have to familiarize myself with de Ste-Croix
I just thought of adding a couple of words more of information: avoided by what comportment? I think you could get it out of that quote.
Para 4. "The persecution was ultimately a failure". The section "Persecution and Tetrarchic ideology", especially para 14, gives important perspective here. I get from this that the persecution was an aspect of a policy of Imperial consolidation. This overall policy wasn't a failure, but, yes, the persecution part of it was dropped
Hmm. That's really more of a summary of Diocletian and the Tetrarchy's achievements, which I attempt to do in Diocletian; this is an article on the persecutions, however, not the whole policy package. We evaluate them on their stated and implicit aims as persecutions. As such, the failure to achieve their aims of bringing many Christians back to traditional worship (which Galerius admits in 311) means that the persecutions failed. I might note somewhere, in a brief aside, that the overall Diocletianic policy package was a moderate success, but I feel it's kind of tangential. Hmm. I'm still chewing on this one.
OK, I haven't studied Diocletian. I take your point.
Para 16 (ordinary people didn't support the persecution) seems to conflict with para 20 ("people began to assert that Christians were the cause of all evils"). I believe 16; maybe in 20 you put too much weight on one unknown pagan quoted by a Christian apologist.
Ah, but I just loved it so much! Shame that it is entirely rhetorical. Removed.
Para 21 "perhaps after a whipping". I haven't checked all the sources, but if this is a guess, as it sounds to be, I would leave it out.
I originally had "after a light whipping", because I wanted to prod the reader. The entire "whipping" bit has now been removed. The rest—the absence of bloodshed—although a guess, seems to me a quite reasonable guess, given the rhetorical aims of Lactantius and Eusebius. It's a good lead-in to the "without bloodshed" part of the edict, IMO.
Paras 27-29: some odd use of language here. "Diocletian's religious passion drove him to use violent and hateful language": "violent" is not true from what you quote; "hateful" is strongly POV (perhaps you meant "hate-filled", but that also is overstating it); "passion" is obsolete in the sense you intend. Maybe "Diocletian's championing of traditional Roman cults impelled him to use the language of religious fervour"?
Switched out my for your words.
Para 28 seems to me too detailed on one martyrdom: it's hard to believe this one turbulent priest had much influence on Diocletian's thinking. I'd give it a sentence.
I cut it down, but left most intact. Sourced instances of personal involvement are so rare—especially for emperors lacking much in the way of narrative history—that I feel that it should have a bit more space than it would otherwise merit.
His death a year later was maybe a distraction from the chronology. But, yes, fair enough.
Para 29: I have doubts about "extermination" and "universal persecution", but I still have to read on ...
This is "according to Lactantius", so it's going to be a bit dodgy in any case. Are there phrasings you'd prefer? I could go "elimination", "annihilation", whatever. Let me quote from the translated edition of Lactantius (no Latinity here!) nearest me: "...[the mother of Galerius] conceived hatred against the Christians, and by woman-like complaints instigated her son, no less superstitious than herself, to destroy them. ...Galerius would have had all persons burnt alive who refused sacrifice." How is "universal persecution" questionable?
It's questionable by the result. Had they even seriously tried to do that, and the great majority of Christians had gone for martyrdom, there would surely have been no Christianity as state religion a few years later? If, on the other hand, the great majority of Christians chose outward compliance or conversion, then "extermination" is no longer true. And if the great majority of Christians were never even touched, then "universal" is no longer true. But never mind for the moment: let me read on.
I would have said that if place-names can be linked, it's distracting to add too much in the way of bracketed explanations. At the moment Turkey and Israel seem to be specially favoured!
Ah! I like doing this! I wish it wasn't so distracting. I like reminding the reader that, yes, these places are real, living cities, and you can go there on holiday! Not that you'd want to go to Turkey or Israel any time soon, but still. I have removed the links you've suggested.
I'm sorry to have messed you up. But why locate Smyrna and not Lyon, for example? And then, why not places that truly no one has heard of, like Tebessa and the mines of Phaeno (an authentic redlink, I think [but no! disambiguation needed!])?
I think it really is good to add a link for modern cities (e.g. "Smyrna (İzmir)") as you have often done. I only suggested removing Caesarea because that's a scrappy place these days, simply named after the ancient city.
When I was younger, I always thought Antioch was in Syria. It came as quite a shock to learn it was in Turkey. I don't know why it shocked me so much; I didn't know anything about the modern town. It just seemed like an especially Syrian place. Oh well. DONE.
Para 28: "Caesarea Maritima in Syria Palaestina" is fine: the added "Caesarea" doesn't help, being an ambiguous name anyway; the first line of the linked article shows that it's now in Israel
It's now disappeared along with most of the martyr's tale.
Primary sources. Would it help the reader if these authors' names were linked? I think so
Oh! I hate having blue in the bibliography. Done anyways.
Para 2. The past tense of "forebode" is "foreboded", but it's a rare form. You might prefer "heralded".
I already used "herald" two sentences before! I will use foreboded.
Para 4. what do you mean by "dislocation"?
Like: migration/relocation/loss of home. Refugees avant la lettre. Is there a better term?
Yes, there was a lot of that in the ancient world! I thought you must mean that, but I've never seen "dislocation" used in this sense, literal but non-surgical. Still, the dictionary definition covers it, so, fine. Andrew Dalby 09:56, 13 June 2009 (UTC)
Para 5: Lyons; para 7: Lyon. Prefer Lyon and put the link in para 5
Para 18: read "Jesus, whom he praised"
Para 18: Not "treasonously" but "treasonably"
Para 25: not "decried" but "denounced". I don't think you decry people
I love the idea of an "underdeveloped prison system". Very Whiggish.
I am nothing if not a Whig!
"in the judgment of historian Roger Rees ..." I feel I'd like to understand this. The big difference between 1 and 2 as you describe them is that 2 includes the arrest of priests, is that right? So what is Rees's point?
Here is what Rees writes on the matter, in its entirety: "There is credible evidence that the first edict was applied with some success (if unevenly); the publication of a second edict, however, suggests that either Diocletian was not aware that the terms of the first edict were being applied, or, more credibly, that although he knew the first edict was being applied, he felt it was not achieving all his wishes as quickly as he wanted. The short time lag also suggests that imperial administration was functioning very efficiently." That's it.
Here is what I imagine Rees would say, if he elaborated: ministering priests could have been arrested under the terms of the first act—Christian assembly was forbidden, and the churches and scriptures should have been destroyed. In a world of perfect administrative control, this would have been enough: imperial agents could have shut down any church, anywhere, at any time. The Roman Empire, however, did not exert perfect administrative control, much though Diocletian may have wished otherwise.
Diocletian must have soon realized that a campaign against churches and scriptures alone would not be enough to eliminate Christianity. It could only drive it underground. Priests would minister to their congregations in less prominent spaces (like individual Christians' homes, as in the first two centuries), and would sequester scriptures in private residences. Imperial agents had better things to do than raid Christians' homes at random intervals for illegal congregations. Fourth century pagans just didn't care that much. Thus the need for a second edict, with better targets: Priests. Priests are not easily replaced.
On the other hand, it might just be a poorly thought out comment.
Your suggestion "ministering priests could have been arrested under the terms of the first act—Christian assembly was forbidden" makes perfect sense. I hadn't looked at it like that. What a pity that Rees himself didn't say anything so explicit.
I suggest you might replace "Diocletian should not have needed this second edict; that he issued one" with "there was no logical necessity for this second edict; that Diocletian issued it". He evidently thought he did need it, and it's not really Diocletain's personal judgment that Rees is questioning, as I understand it.
As I read on, I feel the need for a clear reminder of which emperor ruled which region. Possibly an introductory sentence at "Regional variation"?
Sure. I've included a little tag after each of the emperors' names, listing their domains.
"After the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian in 305, and Constantius became Augustus ..." Something wrong with this sentence. Maybe "After 305, the year when Diocletian and Maximian abdicated and Constantius became Augustus ..."
"Constantine, in his later reminisces": I suggest "Constantine, in a later reminiscence"
Procopius's reply is very good indeed.
"thrown to the sea ... he sent to Phaeno": read "thrown into the sea ... he sent to the copper mines at Phaeno", I suggest. It's a long article, and not all readers will remember what there was at Phaeno. Ah, now I see it's explained in the next paragraph. Can you switch the explanation to this point?
I've switched the paragraphs.
"covered in libation" -- meaning what? sprinkled with sacrificial wine?
Yes? Or perhaps sacrificial olive oil, whatever was in stock at the time. If you're asking me what the distinction is between regular wine and sacrificial wine, I don't think my texts can tell me. I presume it was applied by a local temple priest.
"Acts of Pilate" ought to be linked. It can't be the same text as the Acts of Pilate, but the identity of what Eusebius calls the Acts of Pilate is mentioned in that article.
Does it? From Acts of Pilate: "[Eusebius] mentions an Acta Pilati referred to by Justin and Tertullian and other non-canonical Acts, shows no acquaintance with this work"—not much content here. I don't think that linking to that article would do much more than confuse the reader. It certainly confused me.
Yes, OK, I see what you mean. I was keeping my fingers crossed behind my back in saying that this is the text discussed in that curious sentence. But one wants to link such references in some way: if it isn't done now, someone will link it next week, as sure as eggs are eggs. OK, I have checked this in Hennecke, New Testament Apocrypha (1963 ed., vol. 1 p. 445). It says exactly the same thing but adds a crucial detail: to summarise, Eusebius shows no acquaintance with Christian Acts of Pilate, though you would think he might have known such a text, but "he knows pagan Acts (anti-Christian), which were fabricated under the persecutor Maximin and which at his command had to be read in the schools and committed to memory" [nice example of government-prescribed school curriculum]. I think that point needs to be added to the Acts of Pilate article. OK. [added later: I've amended the Acts of Pilate article now, so you can make the link if you like.]
"Maximinus issued orders forbidding Christians to congregate in cemeteries in Autumn 311": read "Maximinus issued orders in Autumn 311 forbidding Christians to congregate in cemeteries"
"Like in his last letter": read "As in his earlier letter"?
"maidens": read "virgins"
Table "Martyrdoms in the East". So these are hagiographical martyrdoms, i.e. we're counting people who are the heroes of texts; and the emptiness of the column Oriens means that we're not including people mentioned in the Martyrs of Palestine. And surely we have no idea at all how representative the figures are: in fact, just about all we can know is that they aren't representative, expecially since under "Legacy" you throw doubt on how many of these texts are factual! The problem, to me, is that a table, looking factual, diverts attention from the text. Since the purpose of showing these numbers seems to be to discuss whether Davies's interpretation of them is justified, I would suggest either ensuring that the table title includes some warnings about their validity, or else just incorporating the numbers in the text.
"emptiness of the column Oriens": my goodness, I don't think that's right. I must have fudged the syntax somewhere. My Internet connection's on the fritz, so I can't establish a connection to Davies' paper to correct the blank spots. I'll do it sometime soon. As to the accuracy of the table, yes, I've added a "(dubious)" to the table title.
Fixed! Davies does note that he excluded martyrs in Eusebius and Lactantius because they are "dealt with separately".
Obviously we have no clear idea at all of the numbers involved. Whether a ballpark figure of 3,000 is secure enough to put in the introduction I hardly know! I think, unless in fact other modern authors support it too, you might hint in the introduction that this is one modern author's figure.
Back to the sentence from the introduction "The persecution was ultimately a failure". I remain unhappy with this because you haven't said what its purpose was: the link Persecution of Christians, which might be looked to for an explanation of what persecutions are, implies that the answer is to kill Christians. If that's the case, it had some success; 3,000 (or maybe many more) were killed. But I think that wasn't the purpose at all: I think the purpose was to restore the traditional Roman belief system. And, if that's so, yes, it failed. Anyway, if, before saying that it failed, you can say what its purpose was, no problem remains ...
I think this article deserves FA status. Andrew Dalby 21:22, 14 June 2009 (UTC)
(So, does that mean you support it? ;) Ah! Many thanks for the thorough review, Andrew! I have replied to most of your comments. I'll try to clear up the remaining points when my Internet connection is stronger. Geuiwogbil (Talk) 23:11, 14 June 2009 (UTC)
Oh, yes, of course, one should use the correct words. I support it! Andrew Dalby 12:25, 15 June 2009 (UTC)
Support - for the meticulous research , generally very good writing and except for the legacy section, reasonably balanced and comprehensive coverage. Two area's I think could be improved:
To a degree the article reads more like an entry one would expect to find in a journal rather than an online encyclopaedia, albeit much more generously referenced and neutrally written than would be usual. Specifically Id suggest 1) More web references, fair enough if you want to keep the article consistent and not cite from them , but it would be good to have more in the external links section - so folk can readilly see how others have approached the topic. I've took the liberty of adding the best link I know. 2) More pics. OR restrictions are relaxed with pics, so you don't have to get from only from sources that talk specifically about the subject, as long as you can show the relevance with the caption. In addition to increasing the visuall appeal, and you can use the captions to mention points of human interest or different perspectives. On this subject Id suggest you replace the lede pic, perhaps with the pic I added to a later section. The current lede pic is emotinoally sterile and not even asethetically pleasing, Id have changed it only I felt that might be too major a change for me to still be a allowed a vote. 3) A see also section that could include
Persecution of Christians , MartyrEdict of Milan etc - I see you've linked to these but its good to re - emphasize the key related articles.
For me there’s two very important POVs you've missed out and undue weight on the line that Christians made a meal out of killings. Firstly you don't mention the view that the "worst legacy of the persecution was the basis for schism and an early indicator of a possible divide between eastern and western Christendom" ( see external link I added to the article). Secondly there's little hint of the impoartant (IMO correct) view that the persecutions not only failed to check the rise of Christianity, but actually significantly contributed to the faith's growth. See my talk page if you're interested in the reasons why this strikes me as a particularly glaring omission. PS. pls revert any of my minor changes if you dont like them. FeydHuxtable (talk) 14:32, 16 June 2009 (UTC)
Thank you for the comments, Feyd. I will respond to them in a more-or-less random order.
RE: Legacy. There are already paragraphs in the "Regional variation" and "Legacy" sections emphasizing the divisions the persecution wrought: "Because of the persecution, however, a number of Christian communities were riven between those who had complied with imperial authorities (traditores) and those who had refused. In Africa, the Donatists, who protested the election of the alleged traditor Caecilian to the bishopric of Carthage, continued to resist the authority of the central Church until after 411. The Melitians in Egypt left the Egyptian Church similarly divided." As to your other complaint, I added a paragraph noting the shift in the attitudes of the mass population, and the relative impact of martyrs. Most of the information on martyrs does not focus on their contribution to one particular persecution; this made writing much about them difficult. Taking from an authors' comments about martyrs in the time of Pionius or Pliny and placing them, without comment, in a fourth-century context, might introduce subtle bias. In any case, I don't have many sources which focus much on the martyrs as martyrs. In any case, thanks for prodding me to say something about martyrs and public attitudes.
RE: Web sources. I couldn't find anything good. In general, print sources published in peer-reviewed journals and books published by university presses are the gold standard of reliability. It's rare that something on the Internet challenges them in this. If readers wanted to find them, there's always Google.
RE: "See also" section. I politely disagree with your interpretation of the purpose of the "See also". If the reader wanted to read about martyrs, they'd type "martyr" into the text box on the left-hand side of the screen. If they wanted to read about the Edict of Milan, they'd click on it when it appears in the text. In my opinion, See Also sections are for articles that do not appear in the body of the text (Wikipedia style guidelines are on my side here), but which are nonetheless useful to the enterprising reader. None of your suggestions meet those criteria.
RE: Pictures. I prefer to have my pictures be of things that are within the time period in question. So sixteenth-century icons or nineteenth-century paintings are not much to my taste. I did not choose the top photograph; it's a rare leftover from this page as it stood before my contributions.
Thank you for your support and comments! Geuiwogbil (Talk) 23:27, 16 June 2009 (UTC)
You're most welcome Geuiwogbil. Ive added some more thoughts about the legacy and lede sections to the articles talk page . All intended as suggestions not complaints - you might have guessed I dont agree with much of the article, but given the balance of opinion recently expressed by ungodly and unintuitive scholars Id say you've succeeded in capturing NPOV very well.
Cant agree with you on web sources. Many readers will appreciate us pointing them to the more reliable online sources, a job we should be able to do much more efficiently than a google ranking. Still i take your point that the web isnt overflowing with great pages on this subject, so I guess the two we have are enough.
I guess my other suggestions were misplaced , thanks for explaining Im glad to learn more about community norms. Btw i didn't say before I really like how you've structured the article in terms of heading , in a logical way that helps the reader understand the whole topic. Hope this passes for you! FeydHuxtable (talk) 13:22, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
Dabs; please check the disambiguation links identified in the toolbox. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:45, 20 June 2009 (UTC)
I didn't think I'd be able to obtain the licensing information about the altar, so I replaced the image. Geuiwogbil (Talk) 23:38, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
Comment. I'm not happy with the use of the word "pagan" which occurs twice in the intro, and elswhere in the article. The Romans would not have referred to their own practices as "pagan" (which meant crude and rustic). "Pagan" with a capital "P" was not the name of their religion. Moreover, although it was frequently used in the 19th century to refer to the religion of ancient Rome, it is generally used nowdays for something different. I think that "perform pagan rituals" (with a small "p") ought to be replaced with "comply with Roman religious practices". The word needs replacing throughout the article.
Does it? The word is in widespread use amongst all the scholarship on the matter. There simply isn't a good alternative. We cannot say "Roman", because, for the most part, we aren't in Rome anymore; we cannot say "traditional", because Christians would also have their "traditions", and because there was much in the third-century Mediterranean religion that was new; we can't call it "polytheist", because there were strong monotheizing tendencies among pagan intellectuals, and because one could, by rhetorical jujitsu, assert that Christians were also polytheistic (they pray to a Father, a Son, and a Holy Spirit: three persons, right?). That the "Romans" would not refer to themselves by that name does not mean much. They did not have any term for themselves. If pressed, they'd probably call themselves "the pious" or "followers of our fathers' religion". For obvious reasons, we cannot use those terms. We should follow standard practice as much as possible.
"Pagan" was replaced in its first instance, but I cannot replace it everywhere. It is simply too convenient to avoid. Geuiwogbil (Talk) 17:12, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
No, the changes don't work. "Traditional" is not good, unless it is stated what tradition is being referred to.
Your statement We cannot say "Roman", because, for the most part, we aren't in Rome anymore is inappropriate since we are talking about the "Roman Empire" as stated in the first paragraph, and "Roman Emperors", as listed. The accepted religion was the religion of Rome. (Terms Like "Roman" Catholicism and "Anglican" Church are still in use, without regard for where the church is actually located.).
I am still of the opinion that "comply with Roman religious practices" is the best solution.
The use of the word "pagan" in literature is like the use of the words "infidel" and "kafir". It is strongly coloured by the writer's POV. Any 19th century, early 20th century or very conservatively Christian source is likely to use the term "pagan" in a way that nowadays would be considered discriminatory, unless the person referred to was a self-professed "Pagan" with a capital P and followed "Neopaganism". In other words, the writer who referred to Roman religious practices as "pagan rituals" would probably use it as a blanket term that encompassed all non-Christian religious practice with the exception of Judaism and possibly Islam.
Later sources sometimes use the word "Paganism" to refer to the religion of the Roman Empire, but it has a capital "P". If you are going to use it, then some explanation for its use is necessary.
No, your suggestions don't work. "Roman" is not good, because it is wrong.
The religious tradition of Gallia and Lydia were no more "Roman" than the religious tradition of Sudan and India were "British". Hence the "Empire": A polity containing many different nations. Terms like "Roman" Catholicism and "Anglican" Church are in use because their institutions point to the Bishop of Rome and the Archbishop of Canterbury as spiritual and ecclesiastic heads. It is important to note that these are from among very few examples of regional names available in the Christian tradition, and for good reason. Methodists do not point to the religious tradition of "Methodos", nor do Baptists pay homage to the Archduke of Baptisery in Baptistland, because their specific theo-doctrinal emphases run orthogonally to terrestrial geography. Not so the Anglicans and the Roman Catholics, whose temporal and spiritual heads live in very particular places.
I am still of the opinion that "pagan" is the best solution.
The use of the word "pagan" in the literature is no longer like the use of "infidel" and "kafir". "Discrimination" in the sense of "discriminating", or noting a difference between two things, is a very good process to pick up. I am quite proud to be of "discriminating" taste in film and literature; for the same reason, I am quite proud of my ability to "discriminate" between people of different ethnic and religious types. It is indeed a good thing that those writers took the time to sift through the masses of humanity, putting heathens on one side and the Children of God on the other. In any case, we are not writing a Nineteenth, early Twentieth, or very conservatively Christian source, and, as such, are not bound by their stylistic types, nor are our writings necessarily colored by that massive encumbrance of History. We are not using pagan as a "blanket term" to incorporate all non-Christian religious practice; we are focusing on the common religious practices of the Mediterranean littoral (save Judaism, Gnosticism, Christianity, Manicheanism, and certain progressive strands of Epicureanism), for which there is no term but pagan.
Later sources, my sources, toss around pagan like it is the only term available. Why? Because it is. Hence Robin Lane Fox, no great fan of Christians by any metric, titles his book Pagans and Christians. Whenever anyone needs to describe, in a single word, the religious leanings of a man with a predilection for the old cults, they say "pagan", and when they say it, they do not say it with a capital "P". Because "paganism" is not a Church, does not have a Doctrine, does not have a liturgy informed by anything but custom, and that custom does not come with a capital "C". There is no "religion of the Roman Empire". There are only religions of the Roman Empire. I am not going to say "Paganism", nor am I going to explain myself when I say "paganism", because it is common term in common use requiring no delineation or disquisition.
Support clearly comprehensive, engaging, with excellent citations, and on the whole superbly written. Can you help me with a few troublesome phrases?
Something seems missing here, Its members were always suspect, a "secret society" whose members communicated with a private code, who shied away from the public sphere.
Now: Christians were always suspect, members of a "secret society" whose members communicated with a private code, who shied away from the public sphere.
I didn't like "for turning Christian". How about "for becoming Christians"?
This sentence is cumbersome, I had to read it three times, Even when Emperor Nero executed Christians for their alleged involvement in the fire of 64, becoming the "very first of the Imperial Persecutors", it was a purely local affair; it did not spread beyond the city limits of Rome. I am still not sure what it means.
Uh, let's remove some of the content. Now: When Emperor Nero executed Christians for their alleged involvement in the fire of 64 it was a purely local affair; it did not spread beyond the city limits of Rome. It means: Nero's persecution didn't extend beyond Rome. It's in response to a previous sentence, which said that persecutions were limited in extent and carried out by local officials. At first glance, a "Neronian persecution" might seem to contradict this fact. On closer examination, however, it fits the general scheme.
And this sentence, Diocletian's favored gods did tend to be those that provided for the safety of the whole empire, however, instead of local deities in the provinces is difficult to understand.
Now: Diocletian favored gods who provided for the safety of the whole empire, instead of the local deities of the provinces.
There are occasional problems with tenses: The same pattern of favoritism appears in Egypt as well - appeared? make him unusual - made? I know this is how historians write, but this usage seems out of place here. Graham ColmTalk 12:11, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
Done. Thank you for your support, Graham! Geuiwogbil (Talk) 08:08, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
Support I thought I had already supported this, but it seems not (maybe I added it to some video game or battleship by mistake...) Anyway, meets FAC standards. Johnbod (talk) 17:17, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this page.