were a rarity, something the well-travelled Paulinus was in a position to know.16 It seems that ecclesiastical ornamentation was mainly left to private persons until well into the fourth century The decision on the part of the church to use mosaics and frescos as ornamentation should be seen against the backdrop of emperor worship and the worship of pagan deities and imperial statues: pagans anointed the statues of their deities with oil, dressed them, and adorned them with laurels. Imperial statues were installed in temples in which the devout worshipped the emperor and sang hymns in praise of him. Golden garments were draped over these statues, and the statues of both living and dead emperors were carried in processions. An empty chair was reserved for dead emperors at theatres. As the illustrations in the Notitia dignitatum ('Register of dignitaries') show, burnt offerings, torches, candles, lamps and candelabras were arrayed around the emperor's image, to which animals and wine were sacrificed.

At the beginning of the fourth century, the memory of the steadfast refusal of Christians to make sacrifices to the images of emperors and gods was still alive. During the era of Christian persecution, Christians were forced to stand in front of an image of the emperor and say, 'The emperor is the Lord [Kyrios],' although for Christians only Christ was Lord. They were also ordered to make sacrificial offerings to the emperor's guardian spirit - but the Christian martyrs remained steadfast. It is difficult, given these circumstances, to imagine how the church could have managed to accept the existence of three-dimensional images of Christ. The fastigium erected by Constantine in the Lateran church and the silver statue of Christ in the Lateran baptistery are the rare exception, not the rule. If the first Christian emperor decided to use the media of the imperial cult in the episcopal church in Rome, he is unlikely to have faced open criticism. We also do not know whether the visual cult of his own image that Constantine freely propagated found favour with church authorities -although extremely devout Christians must have been perplexed by the monumental statue of Constantine that had formerly been in the Maxentius basilica, and the bigger than life-size statue in the vestibule of the Lateran church.

Be that as it may, the practice of producing three-dimensional statues of emperors was continued. For fourth-century Christians, proskynesis (veneration) in the presence of the emperor's image was accepted unquestioningly. Representations of the emperor's likeness, as well as the institution of the emperor itself, began to lose ground in the fifth and sixth centuries, except

16 Paulinus, Carm. 27, l. 544 (trans. Davis-Weyer, Early medieval art, 18).

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