Roman Emperors Ban Destruction of Pagan Temples if They Don't Contain Illicit Objects

Roman Emperors Ban Destruction of Pagan Temples if They Don't Contain Illicit Objects

Emperor Arcadius
Source: portableantiquities

Roman emperors Arcadius and Honorius decree that pagan temples should not be destroyed if they do not contain illegal objects such as statues and altars. Any idols that are found, however, must be taken down.

This decree states:

"No one should try to destroy temples which are empty of illicit objects. The condition of such buildings must remain unimpaired.

However, if anyone is caught performing a sacrifice, he shall be punished according to the laws. Idols must be taken down under the direction of the local authorities after a proper investigation has been conducted. It is evident that even now the worship of a vain superstition is still being paid to idols." [CTh 16.10.18]

It's interesting that the pagan temples are allowed to remain standing, since pagan sacrifices have been banned and pagan images have to be removed. Do the emperors already intend to take over the temples for other uses in the near future?

Video

Istanbul — Through the Column of Arcadius

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