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The more important question that needs to be asked is, in this new alignment where the church wielded such authority, would as many safeguards be available for emperors when bishops like Ambrose intruded in civil affairs?

Heaven and earth

The suppression of traditional religions in the new Christian empire is the point at which all of the topics of this chapter - the church, society and power -intersect. The law codes preserve increasingly severe penalties placed on the practice of traditional religion from the time of Constantine, and literary sources are widely quoted for their graphic protests against the assaults of rampaging monks - 'men in appearance [who] led the lives of swine', as one hostile account characterises them.37 These are less delicate records of Christianity's insertion into the public sphere, and the traditional reason for them - Christianity's innate 'intolerance' - one that is most urgently in need of re-thinking. Yet on this most important of topics, Eusebius and Agapetus prove to be less certain guides. The problem lies in a significant difference in the way the two chose to illustrate the use of imperial power. To Eusebius, the emperor is engaged in a cosmic battle against polytheism and idolatry. Armed with standards provided from above, he 'subdues and chastises the visible opponents of truth by the law of combat', while his divine counterpart wages similar battle against all the invisible powers that 'used to fly through the earth's air and infect men's souls' (LC 2.3; cf. 7.1,12). He confiscates temple treasures and suppresses the debauchery ofthe polytheists (LC 8). Such activity is absent from Agapetus, who has an entirely different message to deliver. To him, nothing justifies an emperor's rule more than charity and concern for the poor. To earn the crown of 'invincible kingship', he cautions Justinian, 'you must also acquire the garland of well-doing (EÜuoiía) to the poor' (53). In a radical call for re-distribution of wealth, Agapetus argues that a society divided between the rich, who are 'afflicted by satiety', and the poor, who are 'destroyed by hunger', is an unhealthy society that will only be restored to health through taxation - 'the remedy of subtraction and addition' - by which means equality replaces inequality (16). Just as the suppression of Eusebius' 'opponents of truth' is absent from Agapetus, so his radical social agenda can be found nowhere in Eusebius' speeches. And this is the problem.

37 Eunapius, Vitae philosophorum 472 (trans. Wright); equally famous is the rhetor Libanius's characterisation of monks as 'this black-robed tribe, who eat more than elephants': Or. 30.8 (trans. Norman, ii: 107). On imperial efforts to control monks, see now D. F. Caner, Wandering, begging monks.

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