Religio licita

Religio licita ("permitted religion,"[1] also translated as "approved religion"[2]) is a phrase used in the Apologeticum of Tertullian[3] to describe the special status of the Jews in the Roman Empire. It was not an official term in Roman law.[4]

Although it occurs in only one patristic text and in no classical Roman sources or inscriptions,[5] the phrase has spawned abundant scholarly conjecture on its possible significance. Some scholars have gone so far as to imagine that all religions under the Empire had a legal status as either licita or illicita, despite the absence of any ancient texts referring to these categories.[6] The most extreme view has held that Tertullian's phrase means all foreign religions required a license from the Roman government.[7] But it was Roman custom to permit or even encourage the subject peoples of the provinces and foreign communities in Rome to maintain their ancestral religion, unless specific practices were regarded as disruptive or subversive:[8] "A religio was licita for a particular group on the basis of tribe or nationality and traditional practices, coupled with the proviso that its rites were not offensive to the Roman people or its gods."[9]

Tertullian uses the phrase in a passage arguing that Christians should be granted the same freedom to practice their religion as any other inhabitant of the Empire; the passage itself, and not the phrase religio licita, is evidence of the general tolerance afforded under the Roman system of religion.[10]

Judaism as licita

Religio licita has sometimes been taken as a formal recognition or charter originating with Julius Caesar and embodied by various pieces of Roman legislation pertaining to the Jews, conceived of as a coherent policy.[11] In fact, the various privileges and exemptions granted to the Jews were responses to specific complaints or requests, made in the context of the traditional patronage network,[12] and had nothing to do with a supposed religio licita status.[13] To the extent that the Romans respected Judaism, it was because of the religion's great antiquity, ancestral tradition being regarded as a source of social and political stability.[14]

It has been observed that "Roman magistrates treated the Jews the way they did not because they were consciously tolerant, but simply because they had no reason to hinder the free exercise of Jewish religious practices."[15]

Christianity as illicita

Some scholars have argued that Christianity was declared a religio illicita (an impermissible or illegitimate religion) by Domitian in the 80s AD.[16] Though this term appears nowhere, it has been conjectured that a declaration of Christianity as illicita was the legal basis for official persecutions. There was, however, "no law, either existing section of criminal law, or special legislation directed against the Christians, under which Christians were prosecuted in the first two centuries."[17] Rome lacked a uniform policy or legal code pertaining to foreign cults,[18] and before Christian hegemony in the 4th century, there was no legal language to designate a concept analogous to "heresy" or crimes against orthodox religion.[19]

Under Constantine the Great, Christianity and other religions became tolerated with the Edict of Milan in 313. Toleration did not extend to religions that practiced human sacrifice, such as Druidism. This state of affairs lasted until 380, when Nicene Christianity was adopted as the state religion of the Roman Empire, after which time persecution of non-Christian and non-Nicene cults began. Priscillian was executed for heresy in 385, and Theodosius I began outlawing Rome's traditional religious rituals in 391.

See also

References

  1. ^ Licita is the past participle of licet, "is permitted, is lawful."
  2. ^ Jörg Rüpke, Religion of the Romans (Polity Press, 2007, originally published in German 2001), p. 35.
  3. ^ Tertullian, Apologeticum 21.1.
  4. ^ Philip Francis Esler, Community and Gospel in Luke–Acts: The Social and Political Motivations of Lucan Theology (Cambridge University Press, 1989, 1996), p. 211, begins his analysis of the religio licita theory "by immediately scotching the idea that Rome had some process for licensing foreign religions. There is no historical support for this whatsoever; … there never was a juridical category of religio licita." See also Rüpke, Religion of the Romans, p. 35; Solomon Grayzel, "The Jews and Roman Law," Jewish Quarterly Review, 59 (1968), pp. 93-117; Ben Witherington III, The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1997), p. 542; John J. O'Keefe, entry on "Religio licita," in A Dictionary of Jewish-Christian Relations (Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 371.
  5. ^ Benjamin H. Isaac, The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity (Princeton University Press, 2004, 2006), p. 449; Tessa Rajak, "Was There a Roman Charter for the Jews?" Journal of Roman Studies, 74 (1984), pp. 107-123. As Stephen Wilson, Related Strangers: Jews and Christians, 70–170 C.E. (Augsburg Fortress, 1995, 2005), p. 68, has noted, religio licita "is not a Roman but a Christian concept."
  6. ^ Philip A. Harland, Associations, Synagogues, and Congregations: Claiming a Place in Ancient Mediterranean Society (Augsburg Fortress, 2003), p. 222.
  7. ^ Esler, Community and Gospel in Luke–Acts, p. 206, taking note of Foakes Jackson and Kirsopp Lake, B.S. Easton, and the early work of H.J. Cadbury as examples of this extreme of interpretation.
  8. ^ Isaac, The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity, p. 449; Jörg Rüpke, "Roman Religion – Religions of Rome," in A Companion to Roman Religion (Blackwell, 2007), p. 4.
  9. ^ W. H. C. Frend, Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church: A Study of Conflict from the Maccabees to Donatus (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1967), p. 106.
  10. ^ Cecilia Ames, "Roman Religion in the Vision of Tertullian," in A Companion to Roman Religion, p. 467.
  11. ^ E. Mary Smallwood, The Jews Under Roman Rule: From Pompey to Diocletian: A Study in Political Relations (2nd ed.; Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1981), p. 539 et passim.
  12. ^ Harland, Associations, Synagogues, and Congregations, pp. 221–222; Leonard Victor Rutgers, "Roman Policy towards the Jews: Expulsions from the City of Rome during the First Century C.E.," Classical Antiquity, 13 (1994) pp. 58-59.
  13. ^ Esler, Community and Gospel in Luke–Acts, p. 211.
  14. ^ Esler, Community and Gospel in Luke–Acts, p. 215.
  15. ^ Leonard Victor Rutgers, "Roman Policy towards the Jews: Expulsions from the City of Rome during the First Century C.E.," Classical Antiquity 13 (1994), p. 73.
  16. ^ Geoffrey E.M. de Ste. Croix, "Why Were the Early Christians Persecuted?" Past and Present, 26 (1963), pp. 6-38.
  17. ^ J.E.A. Crake, "Early Christians and Roman Law," Phoenix 19 (1965), p. 70.
  18. ^ T.D. Barnes, "Legislation against the Christians," Journal of Roman Studies 58 (1968), 50
  19. ^ Rutgers, "Roman Policy," p. 68.
Apologeticus

Apologeticus (Latin: Apologeticum or Apologeticus) is Tertullian's most famous work, consisting of apologetic and polemic. In this work Tertullian defends Christianity, demanding legal toleration and that Christians be treated as all other sects of the Roman Empire. It is in this treatise that one finds the phrase: "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church" (Apologeticus, Chapter 50).

There is a similarity of content, if not of purpose, between this work and Tertullian's Ad nationes—published earlier in the same year—and it has been claimed that the latter is a finished draft of Apologeticus. There arises also the question of similarity to Minucius Felix's dialogue Octavius. Some paragraphs are shared by both texts; it is not known which predated the other.

Tertullian's brief De testimonio animae ("Concerning the Evidences of the Soul") is an appendix to the Apologeticus, intended to illustrate the meaning of the phrase testimonium animae naturaliter christianae in chapter 17).

Christianity and Hellenistic philosophy

Christianity and Hellenistic philosophies experienced complex interactions during the first to the fourth centuries.

As Christianity spread throughout the Hellenic world, an increasing number of church leaders were educated in Greek philosophy. The dominant philosophical traditions of the Greco-Roman world then were Stoicism, Platonism, and Epicureanism. Stoicism and, particularly, Platonism were readily incorporated into Christian ethics and Christian theology.

Christianity in late antiquity

Christianity in late antiquity traces Christianity during the Christian Roman Empire – the period from the rise of Christianity under Emperor Constantine (c. 313), until the fall of the Western Roman Empire (c. 476). The end-date of this period varies because the transition to the sub-Roman period occurred gradually and at different times in different areas. One may generally date late ancient Christianity as lasting to the late 6th century and the re-conquests under Justinian (reigned 527-565) of the Byzantine Empire, though a more traditional end-date is 476, the year in which Odoacer deposed Romulus Augustus, traditionally considered the last western emperor.

Christianity began to spread initially from Roman Judaea without state support or endorsement. It became the state religion of Armenia in either 301 or 314, of Ethiopia in 325, and of Georgia in 337. With the Edict of Thessalonica it became the state religion of the Roman Empire in 380.

Decian persecution

The Decian persecution resulted from an edict issued in 250 by the Emperor Decius ordering everyone in the Roman Empire (except for Jews, who were exempted) to perform a sacrifice to the Roman gods and the well-being of the Emperor. The edict ordered that the sacrifices be performed in the presence of a Roman magistrate, and a signed and witnessed certificate be issued to that effect. It was the first time that Christians had faced legislation forcing them to choose between their religious beliefs and death, although there is no evidence that Decius' edict was specifically intended to target Christians. The edict appears to have been designed more as an Empire-wide loyalty oath. Nevertheless, a number of Christians were put to death for refusing to perform the sacrifices, many others apostatized and performed the ceremonies, and others went into hiding. The effects were long-lasting and caused tension between Christians who had performed the sacrifices or fled and those who had not, and left bitter memories of persecution.

Edict of Serdica

The Edict of Serdica, also called Edict of Toleration by Galerius, was issued in 311 in Serdica (today Sofia, Bulgaria) by the Roman emperor Galerius, officially ending the Diocletianic persecution of Christianity in the East.The Edict implicitly granted Christianity the status of "religio licita", a worship recognized and accepted by the Roman Empire. It was the first edict legalizing Christianity, preceding the Edict of Milan by two years.

Hellenistic religion

Hellenistic religion is any of the various systems of beliefs and practices of the people who lived under the influence of ancient Greek culture during the Hellenistic period and the Roman Empire (c. 300 BCE to 300 CE). There was much continuity in Hellenistic religion: the Greek gods continued to be worshipped, and the same rites were practiced as before.

Change came from the addition of new religions from other countries, including the Egyptian deities Isis and Serapis, and the Syrian gods Atargatis and Hadad, which provided a new outlet for people seeking fulfillment in both the present life and the afterlife. The worship of Hellenistic rulers was also a feature of this period, most notably in Egypt, where the Ptolemies adapted earlier Egyptian practice and Greek hero cults and established themselves as Pharaohs within the new syncretic Ptolemaic cult of Alexander the Great. Elsewhere, rulers might receive divine status without the full status of a god.

Magic was practiced widely, and this too, was a continuation from earlier times. Throughout the Hellenistic world, people would consult oracles, and use charms and figurines to deter misfortune or to cast spells. Also developed in this era was the complex system of astrology, which sought to determine a person's character and future in the movements of the sun, moon, and planets. The systems of Hellenistic philosophy, such as Stoicism and Epicureanism, offered an alternative to traditional religion, even if their impact was largely limited to the educated elite.

History of Sofia

The history of Sofia, Bulgaria's capital and largest city, spans thousands of years from Antiquity to modern times, during which the city has been a commercial, industrial, cultural and economic centre in its region and the Balkans.

History of the Jews in the Roman Empire

The history of the Jews in the Roman Empire traces the interaction of Jews and Romans during the period of the Roman Empire (27 BC – AD 476). Their cultures began to overlap in the centuries just before the Christian Era. Jews, as part of the Jewish diaspora, migrated to Rome and Roman Europe from the Land of Israel, Asia Minor, Babylon and Alexandria in response to economic hardship and incessant warfare over the land of Israel between the Ptolemaic and Seleucid empires. In Rome, Jewish communities enjoyed privileges and thrived economically, becoming a significant part of the Empire's population (perhaps as much as ten percent).The Roman general Pompey in his eastern campaign established the Roman province of Syria in 64 BC and conquered Jerusalem in 63 BC. Julius Caesar conquered Alexandria c. 47 BC and defeated Pompey in 45 BC. Under Julius Caesar, Judaism was officially recognised as a legal religion, a policy followed by the first Roman emperor, Augustus. Herod the Great was designated ‘King of the Jews’ by the Roman Senate in c. 40 BC, the Roman province of Egypt was established in 30 BC, and Judea proper, Samaria and Idumea (biblical Edom) were converted to the Roman province of Iudaea in 6 AD. Jewish-Roman tensions resulted in several Jewish–Roman wars, 66-135 AD, which resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple and institution of the Jewish Tax in 70 and Hadrian's attempt to create a new Roman colony named Aelia Capitolina c. 130.

Around this time, Christianity developed from Second Temple Judaism. In 313, Constantine and Licinius issued the Edict of Milan giving official recognition to Christianity as a legal religion. Constantine the Great moved the Roman capital from Rome to Constantinople (‘New Rome’) c. 330, sometimes considered the start of the Byzantine Empire, and with the Edict of Thessalonica in 380, Christianity became the state church of the Roman Empire. The Christian emperors persecuted their Jewish subjects and restricted their rights.

Imperial cult of ancient Rome

The Imperial cult of ancient Rome identified emperors and some members of their families with the divinely sanctioned authority (auctoritas) of the Roman State. Its framework was based on Roman and Greek precedents, and was formulated during the early Principate of Augustus. It was rapidly established throughout the Empire and its provinces, with marked local variations in its reception and expression.

Augustus's reforms transformed Rome's Republican system of government to a de facto monarchy, couched in traditional Roman practices and Republican values. The princeps (later known as Emperor) was expected to balance the interests of the Roman military, Senate and people, and to maintain peace, security and prosperity throughout an ethnically diverse empire. The official offer of cultus to a living emperor acknowledged his office and rule as divinely approved and constitutional: his Principate should therefore demonstrate pious respect for traditional Republican deities and mores.

A deceased emperor held worthy of the honor could be voted a state divinity (divus, plural divi) by the Senate and elevated as such in an act of apotheosis. The granting of apotheosis served religious, political and moral judgment on Imperial rulers and allowed living Emperors to associate themselves with a well-regarded lineage of Imperial divi from which unpopular or unworthy predecessors were excluded. This proved a useful instrument to Vespasian in his establishment of the Flavian Imperial Dynasty following the death of Nero and civil war, and to Septimius in his consolidation of the Severan dynasty after the assassination of Commodus.

The Imperial cult was inseparable from that of Rome's official deities, whose cult was essential to Rome's survival and whose neglect was therefore treasonous. Traditional cult was a focus of Imperial revivalist legislation under Decius and Diocletian. Christian apologists and martyrologists saw the cult of the Emperor as a particularly offensive instrument of pagan impiety and persecution. It therefore became a focus of theological and political debate during the ascendancy of Christianity under Constantine I. The emperor Julian failed to reverse the declining support for Rome's official religious practices: Theodosius I adopted Christianity as Rome's state religion. Rome's traditional gods and Imperial cult were officially abandoned. However, many of the rites, practices and status distinctions that characterized the cult to emperors were perpetuated in the theology and politics of the Christianized Empire.

Judaism

Judaism (originally from Hebrew יהודה, Yehudah, "Judah"; via Latin and Greek) is the religion of the Jewish people. It is an ancient, monotheistic, Abrahamic religion with the Torah as its foundational text. It encompasses the religion, philosophy, and culture of the Jewish people. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenant that God established with the Children of Israel. Judaism encompasses a wide body of texts, practices, theological positions, and forms of organization. The Torah is part of the larger text known as the Tanakh or the Hebrew Bible, and supplemental oral tradition represented by later texts such as the Midrash and the Talmud. With between 14.5 and 17.4 million adherents worldwide, Judaism is the tenth largest religion in the world.

Within Judaism there are a variety of movements, most of which emerged from Rabbinic Judaism, which holds that God revealed his laws and commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of both the Written and Oral Torah. Historically, this assertion was challenged by various groups such as the Sadducees and Hellenistic Judaism during the Second Temple period; the Karaites and Sabbateans during the early and later medieval period; and among segments of the modern non-Orthodox denominations. Modern branches of Judaism such as Humanistic Judaism may be nontheistic. Today, the largest Jewish religious movements are Orthodox Judaism (Haredi Judaism and Modern Orthodox Judaism), Conservative Judaism, and Reform Judaism. Major sources of difference between these groups are their approaches to Jewish law, the authority of the Rabbinic tradition, and the significance of the State of Israel. Orthodox Judaism maintains that the Torah and Jewish law are divine in origin, eternal and unalterable, and that they should be strictly followed. Conservative and Reform Judaism are more liberal, with Conservative Judaism generally promoting a more traditionalist interpretation of Judaism's requirements than Reform Judaism. A typical Reform position is that Jewish law should be viewed as a set of general guidelines rather than as a set of restrictions and obligations whose observance is required of all Jews. Historically, special courts enforced Jewish law; today, these courts still exist but the practice of Judaism is mostly voluntary. Authority on theological and legal matters is not vested in any one person or organization, but in the sacred texts and the rabbis and scholars who interpret them.The history of Judaism spans more than 3,000 years. Judaism has its roots as an organized religion in the Middle East during the Bronze Age. Judaism is considered one of the oldest monotheistic religions. The Hebrews and Israelites were already referred to as "Jews" in later books of the Tanakh such as the Book of Esther, with the term Jews replacing the title "Children of Israel". Judaism's texts, traditions and values strongly influenced later Abrahamic religions, including Christianity, Islam and the Baha'i Faith. Many aspects of Judaism have also directly or indirectly influenced secular Western ethics and civil law. Hebraism was just as important a factor in the ancient era development of Western civilization as Hellenism, and Judaism, as the background of Christianity, has considerably shaped Western ideals and morality since Early Christianity.Jews are an ethnoreligious group including those born Jewish, in addition to converts to Judaism. In 2015, the world Jewish population was estimated at about 14.3 million, or roughly 0.2% of the total world population. About 43% of all Jews reside in Israel and another 43% reside in the United States and Canada, with most of the remainder living in Europe, and other minority groups spread throughout Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Australia.

Little Peace of the Church

In the history of the Roman Empire, the "Little Peace of the Church" was a roughly 40-year period in the latter 3rd century when Christianity flourished without official suppression from the central government. It is particularly associated with the reign of Gallienus (253–268), who issued the first official declaration of tolerance regarding Christians. Among the series of imperial edicts that halted acts of persecution against Christians, one addressed to the bishops of Egypt has survived, recognizing places of worship and cemeteries as ecclesiastical property and restoring them to Christian ownership. The Church for the first time even asked a Roman emperor to arbitrate an internal dispute. In 272, after Paul of Samosata was accused of heresy but refused to be deposed as bishop of Antioch, Aurelian ruled in favor of his successor, who was in good standing with the church hierarchy.The "little" peace of the Church, described primarily by Eusebius, is preliminary to the final "peace of the Church" ushered in by the conversion of Constantine I.

Nortia

Nortia is the Latinized name of the Etruscan goddess Nurtia (variant manuscript readings include Norcia, Norsia, Nercia, and Nyrtia), whose sphere of influence was time, fate, destiny, and chance.

Origins of Christianity

Early Christianity has its roots in Hellenistic Judaism and Jewish messianism of the first century. It started with Jewish eschatological expectations, and developed into the veneration of a deified Jesus after his earthly ministry, his crucifixion, and post–crucifixion experiences of his followers.

Early on, a number of related but divergent Christian communities and interpretations of the eschaton and Jesus' life and death developed during the first and early second century CE, which gradually departed from the Pharisees and other Jewish sects. From the former eventually arose "orthodox" Christianity, while the latter developed into Rabbinic Judaism.

Origins of Rabbinic Judaism

Rabbinic Judaism or Rabbinism has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century, after the codification of the Talmud. Rabbinic Judaism gained predominance within the Jewish diaspora between the 2nd to 6th centuries, with the development of the oral law and the Talmud to control the interpretation of Jewish scripture (specifically the Masoretic Text) and to encourage the practice of Judaism in the absence of Temple sacrifice and other practices no longer possible, while waiting for the Third Temple.

Pact of Umar

The Pact of Umar (also known as the Covenant of Umar, Treaty of Umar or Laws of Umar; Arabic: شروط عمر‎ or عهد عمر or عقد عمر), is an apocryphal treaty between the Muslims and the Christians of either Syria, Mesopotamia, or Jerusalem that later gained a canonical status in Islamic jurisprudence. It specifies rights and restrictions for non-Muslims (dhimmis) living under Islamic rule.

There are several versions of the pact, differing both in structure and stipulations. While the pact is traditionally attributed to the second Rashidun Caliph Umar ibn Khattab, other jurists and orientalists have doubted this attribution with the treaty being attributed to 9th century Mujtahids (Islamic scholars) or the Umayyad Caliph Umar II. This treaty should not be confused with Umar's Assurance of safety to the people of Aelia (known as al-ʿUhda al-ʿUmariyya, Arabic: العهدة العمرية‎).

In general, the pact contains a list of rights and restrictions on non-Muslims (dhimmis). By abiding to them, non-Muslims are granted security of their persons, their families, and their possessions. Other rights and stipulations may also apply. According to Ibn Taymiyya, one of the jurists who accepted the authenticity of the pact, the dhimmis have the right "to free themselves from the Covenant of 'Umar and claim equal status with the Muslims if they enlisted in the army of the state and fought alongside the Muslims in battle."

Religion in ancient Rome

Religion in Ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion of the city of Rome that the Romans used to define themselves as a people, as well as the religious practices of peoples brought under Roman rule, in so far as they became widely followed in Rome and Italy. The Romans thought of themselves as highly religious, and attributed their success as a world power to their collective piety (pietas) in maintaining good relations with the gods. The Romans are known for the great number of deities they honored, a capacity that earned the mockery of early Christian polemicists.The presence of Greeks on the Italian peninsula from the beginning of the historical period influenced Roman culture, introducing some religious practices that became as fundamental as the cult of Apollo. The Romans looked for common ground between their major gods and those of the Greeks (interpretatio graeca), adapting Greek myths and iconography for Latin literature and Roman art, as the Etruscans had. Etruscan religion was also a major influence, particularly on the practice of augury. According to legends, most of Rome's religious institutions could be traced to its founders, particularly Numa Pompilius, the Sabine second king of Rome, who negotiated directly with the gods. This archaic religion was the foundation of the mos maiorum, "the way of the ancestors" or simply "tradition", viewed as central to Roman identity.

Roman religion was practical and contractual, based on the principle of do ut des, "I give that you might give". Religion depended on knowledge and the correct practice of prayer, ritual, and sacrifice, not on faith or dogma, although Latin literature preserves learned speculation on the nature of the divine and its relation to human affairs. Even the most skeptical among Rome's intellectual elite such as Cicero, who was an augur, saw religion as a source of social order. As the Roman Empire expanded, migrants to the capital brought their local cults, many of which became popular among Italians. Christianity was in the end the most successful of these, and in 380 became the official state religion.

For ordinary Romans, religion was a part of daily life. Each home had a household shrine at which prayers and libations to the family's domestic deities were offered. Neighborhood shrines and sacred places such as springs and groves dotted the city. The Roman calendar was structured around religious observances. Women, slaves, and children all participated in a range of religious activities. Some public rituals could be conducted only by women, and women formed what is perhaps Rome's most famous priesthood, the state-supported Vestals, who tended Rome's sacred hearth for centuries, until disbanded under Christian domination.

Roman Empire

The Roman Empire (Latin: Imperium Rōmānum, Classical Latin: [ɪmˈpɛ.ri.ũː roːˈmaː.nũː]; Koine and Medieval Greek: Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, tr. Basileia tōn Rhōmaiōn) was the post-Roman Republic period of the ancient Roman civilization. An Iron Age civilization, it had a government headed by emperors and large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, and West Asia. From the constitutional reforms of Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, the Empire was a principate ruled from the city of Rome (27 BC – 285 AD). The Roman Empire was then divided between a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople, and it was ruled by multiple emperors (with the exception of the sole rule of Constantine I between 324 and 337, and Theodosius I between 392 and 395).

The previous Republic, which had replaced Rome's monarchy in the 6th century BC, became severely destabilized in a series of civil wars and political conflict. In the mid-1st century BC Julius Caesar was appointed as perpetual dictator and then assassinated in 44 BC. Civil wars and executions continued, culminating in the victory of Octavian, Caesar's adopted son, over Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. The following year Octavian conquered Ptolemaic Egypt, ending the Hellenistic period that had begun with the conquests of Alexander the Great of Macedon in the 4th century BC. Octavian's power was then unassailable and in 27 BC the Roman Senate formally granted him overarching power and the new title Augustus, effectively making him the first emperor.

The first two centuries of the Empire were a period of unprecedented stability and prosperity known as the Pax Romana ("Roman Peace"). It reached its greatest territorial expanse during the reign of Trajan (98–117 AD). A period of increasing trouble and decline began with the reign of Commodus. In the 3rd century, the Empire underwent a crisis that threatened its existence, but was reunified under Aurelian. In an effort to stabilize the Empire, Diocletian set up two different imperial courts in the Greek East and Latin West. Christians rose to power in the 4th century following the Edict of Milan in 313 and the Edict of Thessalonica in 380. Shortly after, the Migration Period involving large invasions by Germanic peoples and the Huns of Attila led to the decline of the Western Roman Empire. With the Fall of Ravenna to the Germanic Herulians and deposition of Romulus Augustulus in 476 AD by Odoacer, who proclaimed himself King of Italy, the Western Roman Empire finally collapsed and it was formally abolished by emperor Zeno in 480 AD. The Eastern Roman Empire, known in the post-Roman West as the Byzantine Empire, collapsed when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks of Mehmed II in 1453.

Due to the Roman Empire's vast extent and long endurance, the institutions and culture of Rome had a profound and lasting influence on the development of language, religion, architecture, philosophy, law, and forms of government in the territory it governed, particularly Europe. The Latin language of the Romans evolved into the Romance languages of the medieval and modern world, while Medieval Greek became the language of the Eastern Roman Empire. Its adoption of Christianity led to the formation of Christendom during the Middle Ages. Greek and Roman art had a profound impact on the late medieval Italian Renaissance, while Rome's republican institutions influenced the political development of later republics such as the United States and France. The corpus of Roman law has its descendants in many legal systems of the world today, such as the Napoleonic Code. Rome's architectural tradition served as the basis for Neoclassical architecture.

Samaritans

The Samaritans (; Samaritan Hebrew: ࠔࠠࠌࠝࠓࠩࠉࠌ, translit. Shamerim (שַמֶרִים), "Guardians/Keepers/Watchers (of the Torah)") are an ethnoreligious group of the Levant originating from the Israelites (or Hebrews) of the Ancient Near East.

Ancestrally, Samaritans claim descent from the tribe of Ephraim and tribe of Manasseh (two sons of Joseph) as well as from the Levites, who have links to ancient Samaria (now constituting the majority of the territory known as the West Bank) from the period of their entry into Canaan, while some Orthodox Jews suggest that it was from the beginning of the Babylonian captivity up to the Samaritan polity under the rule of Baba Rabba. Samaritans used to include descendants who ascribed to the Benjamin tribe, but this line became extinct in the 1960s. According to Samaritan tradition, the split between them and the Judean-led Southern Israelites began during the biblical time of the priest Eli when the Southern Israelites split off from the central Israelite tradition, as they perceive it.In the Talmud, a central post-exilic religious text of Rabbinic Judaism, the Samaritans are called Cutheans (Hebrew: כּוּתִים‎, Kutim), referring to the ancient city of Kutha, geographically located in what is today Iraq. In the biblical account, however, Kuthah was one of several cities from which people were brought to Samaria, and they worshiped Nergal. Modern genetics partially support both the claims of the Samaritans and the account in the Hebrew Bible (and Talmud), suggesting that the genealogy of the Samaritans lies in some combination of these two accounts. Genetically, modern Samaritan populations are found to have "much greater affinity" genetically to Jews than to neighbouring Palestinian Arabs. This suggests that the Samaritans remained a genetically isolated population.The Samaritans are adherents of Samaritanism, a religion closely related to Judaism. Samaritans believe that their worship, which is based on the Samaritan Pentateuch, is the true religion of the ancient Israelites from before the Babylonian captivity, preserved by those who remained in the Land of Israel, as opposed to Judaism, which they see as a related but altered and amended religion, brought back by those returning from the Babylonian Captivity. The Samaritans believe that Mount Gerizim was the original Holy Place of Israel from the time that Joshua conquered Canaan. The major issue between Jews and Samaritans has always been the location of the Chosen Place to worship God: The Temple Mount of Moriah in Jerusalem according to the Jewish faith or Mount Gerizim according to the Samaritan faith.Once a large community, the Samaritan population appears to have shrunk significantly in the wake of the bloody suppression of the Samaritan Revolts (mainly in 529 CE and 555 CE) against the Byzantine Empire. Conversion to Christianity under the Byzantines also reduced their numbers. Conversions to Islam took place as well, and by the mid–Middle Ages, Benjamin of Tudela estimated only around 1,900 Samaritans remained in Palestine and Syria. As of January 1, 2017, the population was 796, divided between Qiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim and the city of Holon, just outside Tel Aviv. Most Samaritans in Holon and Qiryat Luza today speak Hebrew and Arabic. For liturgical purposes, Samaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic, and Arabic are used, all written with the Samaritan alphabet, a variant of the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet, which is distinct from the Hebrew alphabet. Hebrew and later Aramaic were languages in use by the Jewish and Samaritan inhabitants of Judea (the name by which Israel was known during part of the Second Temple era) before the Roman exile.Samaritans have a stand-alone religious status in Israel, and there are occasional conversions from Judaism to Samaritanism and vice versa due to marriages. While the Israeli Rabbinic authorities consider Samaritanism to be a branch of Judaism, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel requires Samaritans to officially go through a formal conversion to Judaism in order to be recognized as Halakhic Jews. One example is Israeli TV personality Sofi Tsedaka, who formally converted to Rabbinic Judaism at the age of 18. Samaritans with Israeli citizenship are obligated to undertake mandatory service in the Israel Defense Forces, while those with dual Israeli-Palestinian citizenship (living in Qiryat Luza) are generally exempted.

Sofia

Sofia ( SOH-fee-ə, SOF-; Bulgarian: Со́фия, translit. Sofiya, IPA: [ˈsɔfijə] (listen)) is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria. The city is at the foot of Vitosha Mountain in the western part of the country. Being in the centre of the Balkan peninsula, it is midway between the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea, and closest to the Aegean Sea.Sofia has been an area of human habitation since at least 7000 BC. The recorded history of Sofia begins with the attestation of the conquest of Serdica by the Roman Republic in 29 BC from the Celtic tribe Serdi, raided by Huns in 343-347 AD and 447 AD, conquered by Visigoths in 376-382 AD, conquered by Avars and Slavs in 617 AD, and on 9th April, 809 Serdica was surrendered to Krum of Bulgaria. In 1018, the Byzantines ended Bulgarian rule, while in 1040 it was shortly restored. The town was conquered by the Pechenegs in 1048 and 1078, by the Magyars and Serbs in 1183, and by the Crusaders in 1095 and 1190. The rule of the Second Bulgarian Empire lasted from 1194 until its conquest by the Ottomans in 1382.. Bulgarian rule was restored in 1878. During World War II Sofia was bombarded by the UK and US Air Forces and at the end of the war, it was seized by the Soviet Army.

Being Bulgaria's primate city, Sofia is a hometown of many of the major local universities, cultural institutions and commercial companies. Sofia is one of the top 10 best places for start-up businesses in the world, especially in information technologies, according to Bulgarian National Television. Sofia was Europe's most affordable capital to visit in 2013.The population of Sofia declined down from 70,000 in the late 18th century, through 19,000 in 1870, to 11,649 in 1878 and began increasing. Sofia hosts some 1.23 million residents within a territory of 492 km2, a concentration of 17.5% of the country population within the 200th percentile of the country territory. The urban area of Sofia hosts some 1.54 million residents within 5723 km², which comprises Sofia City Province and parts of Sofia Province (Dragoman, Slivnitsa, Kostinbrod, Bozhurishte, Svoge, Elin Pelin, Gorna Malina, Ihtiman, Kostenets) and Pernik Province (Pernik, Radomir), representing 5.16% of the country territory. The metropolitan area of Sofia is based upon one hour of car travel time, stretches internationally and includes Dimitrovgrad in Serbia. Unlike most European metropolitan areas, it is not to be defined as a substantially functional metropolitan area, but is of the type with "limited variety of functions". The metropolitan region of Sofia is inhabited by a population of 1.68 million and is made up of the whole provinces Sofia City, Sofia and Pernik, comprising more than 10,000 km².

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