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    There is no one set date which marks the passing of Classical Paganism and the beginning of Byzantine Paganism. The vision of the Emperor Constantine at the Milvian Bridge in 311 AD can be thought of as the start of the process, and the Edict of Milan in 313 AD as its first official step.

     Even so the dedication of the City of Constantinople as the "New Rome" on May 11, 330 AD was presided over both Christian and Pagan priesthood equally. Both Priesthoods officially consecrated the city, and invoked blessings of Deity upon the new capital. This deliberate inclusion of Pagan faith included the burying of some of the most sacred relics of both religions at the pillar of Constantine to sanctify the city. Sacred Pagan objects such as the Palladium were set to empower Constantiople and it is believed they remain there to this day. 



The Emperor Julian


     After Constantine's reign subsequent Emperors expanded the powers and influence of Christianity. The Emperor Julian, (361-363 AD) the last Emperor from Constantine's family, led a final renaissance of Classical Paganism which continued in places until perhaps 375 AD. Thereafter the process of Imperial change continued until the final adoption of Christianity as the official state religion of the Empire with the Edict of Thessalonica by the Emperor Theodosius in 380 AD.

      Yet even that dire edict no means ended Paganism. It remained an "organized force" capable of putting up public resistance to persecution for at least 738 more years!  By the 11th century, the practice of the ancient religions had been effectively driven underground, but ancient spirituality proved impossible to completely destroy. There were groups of Byzantine Pagans still known in the City of Mistras in 1453 AD, a full 1,142 years after the conversion of Constantine.

  Traditionally, the history of Paganism in the Byzantine Empire has been presented through little more than  lists of official edicts and persecutions detailing the "end" of ancient religion. More detailed research shows that this process happened much more slowly than is usually presented - and that in fact Paganism never completely died in the Byzantine world.

   The history of Classical Religion in the Christian Eastern Roman Empire is not a happy history, but it is a surprising one. It is a story of faith and reason continuing to exist under overwhelming odds. Most of it remained unwritten - but enough facts have survived to show proof.  Through Byzantium, the Classical faiths just barely managed to bridge the gap from the ancient world to the modern world. There were still those faithful to the Gods who fled to the West after the destruction of Constantinople, helping to bring ancient Classical writings and sciences which laid the foundations of the Renaissance.

  

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