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"as a result of participation in Eugenius' revolt of the last of the pagans against emperor Diocletian" I removed this garble, revised the text and added some dab to Libanius' works. Wetman 18:54, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)

"of which Libanius would have been proud." I removed this because it isn't appropiate for an encyclopedia.

Libanius was not a 'pagan'[edit]

This repeats an explanation I made for Symmachus.

If you called Libanius a pagan, you would've been insulting him: see this definition of "Pagan" from the great Peter Brown, from which I give an extract:

"The adoption of paganus by Latin Christians as an all-embracing, pejorative term for polytheists represents an unforeseen and singularly long-lasting victory, within a religious group, of a word of Latin slang originally devoid of religious meaning. The evolution occurred only in the Latin west, and in connection with the Latin church. Elsewhere, 'Hellene' or 'gentile' (ethnikos) remained the word for 'pagan'; and paganos continued as a purely secular term, with overtones of the inferior and the commonplace."

There was no such thing as "paganism" at the time of Libanius; there were the diverse traditional religions of antiquity that Libanius chose to adhere to in the face of Christian hegemony. People who had not converted to Christianity, particularly educated people such as Symmachus and Libanius, called themselves Hellenes if they wished to make a point of it. To use the terms "paganism" or "pagan" is to give a distorted picture of ancient religious practice and belief, which was not monolithic. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:00, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

So also if you had called Shaftesbury a Whig, or Jefferson a Democrat; it would have been an insult. Nevertheless, we must use the party names we have; we are writing English, not Greek - or rather Latin. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 01:31, 15 May 2010 (UTC)
What an excellent point Brown makes.--Wetman (talk) 17:38, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
In answer to PMA (whose earlier comment I overlooked), I would say it's more like 'wingnut.' The problem with 'pagan' to describe the religious practices of someone like Libanius or Symmachus is that for the average person in 2010 (in terms of 'common usage') it evokes wine spilled orgiastically on bosoms, when of course Symmachus was about something quite conservative. It's accurate and verifiable that Libanius described himself as a Hellene in matters of religion; if his Christian contemporaries called him a paganus, then a clause could be appended to that effect. But here's a catch: when Ambrose responds to the Third Relatio of Symmachus, according to this translation the bishop of Milan speaks of "pagans"; in fact, according to this Latin text, Ambrose didn't use the word pagani, no doubt because he didn't consider it the right word. Ambrose uses gentiles. So my objection is precisely that "pagan" has a certain meaning in common contemporary usage, which acts as a barrier to understanding the religious issues at hand. I know I can sound a little rabid about this, but ancient religion never made sense to me until I stopped using the words "paganism" and "polytheism" as if they meant something useful in regard to Greece and Rome. Cynwolfe (talk) 20:58, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Absent in Exile?[edit]

"He studied in Athens and began his career in Constantinople as a private tutor, but was soon exiled to Nicomedia. Before his exile, Libanius was a friend of the emperor Julian" versus "His first Oration I is an autobiographical narrative, first written in 374 and revised throughout his life, a scholar's account that ends as an old exile's private journal. In 354, he accepted the chair of rhetoric in Antioch, where he stayed until his death." makes no sense. Lacking dates and basing my words solely on Gibbon's account, I gather he stayed in Antioch just before Julian's death. So, was it Constantinople --> Nicomedia --> Antioch or Constantinople --> Antioch --> Nicomedia --> Antioch? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:20, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

I agree; the biographical juxtaposition is incoherent. Bigturtle (talk) 16:03, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

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