Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Pagans and Christians” as Want to Read:
Pagans and Christians
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Pagans and Christians

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  317 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Fox recreates the period from the 2nd to the 4th century, when the Olympians lost their dominion & Christianity, with Constantine's conversion, triumphed in the Mediterranean world.
List of Maps
Pagans & Christians
Pagans & their cities
Pagan cults
Seeing the gods
Language of the gods
The spread of Christianity
Living like angels
Visions & prophecy
Published 1986 by Penguin Books Ltd.
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Pagans and Christians, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Pagans and Christians

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Aug 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Late paganism was moribund, decrepit and sclerotic; it had no chance against the rise of Christianity.

Well, so goes the historical myth.

But, not true, says Robin Lane Fox; certainly not true in the countrysides of the Roman Empire, which, by the way, was the last place in which Christianity took hold.

Fox paints a rural, and urban, Roman Imperium where, aside from the skepticism of some philosophers, some form of pagan belief remained vital even years after Constantine convened the Council of
Erik Graff
Apr 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
Having read some Fox previously (and not his gardening books), seeing this at the Evanston Library booksale and finding books which address both church and classical history rare, I snapped it up.

Pagans and Christians has two major--and quite controversial--theses running throughout the bulk of the text. The first is that Christians were a tiny minority (under 5% is estimated) in the Roman empire until the "conversion" of Constantine in the fourth century and that second is that Constantine conv
Sep 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Not quite what I was looking for: influences on Christianity: anything taken directly taken from paganism and Christianized, e.g., something detailed, such as how possibly Roman religious garb influenced Christian vestments. However, if I take it on its terms and am not too disappointed that it isn't what I hoped for, it's an amazing book: detailed history of both Christianity and paganism from the Gordians [3rd century] through Constantine [4th century]. I felt it was a bit similar to The Golde ...more
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Late paganism was moribund, decrepit and sclerotic; it had no chance against the rise of Christianity.

Well, so goes the historical myth.

But, not true, says Robin Lane Fox; certainly not true in the countrysides of the Roman Empire, which, by the way, was the last place in which Christianity took hold.

Fox paints a rural, and urban, Roman Imperium where, aside from the skepticism of some philosophers, some form of pagan belief remained vital even years after Constantine convened the Council of Nic
Crammed with details.
Some reviewers seem to find this biased either towards the xtian view or the pagan, but I found it well balanced…they all seem bonkers at times.
So, from some perspectives pagans worshiped a snake glove puppet and ventriloquist stylee statues and xtians worshiped a donkey headed god or a variant of Dionysus. And while the xtians have their weird sex hang-ups the pagans did too…they just took it a bit further, occasionally castrating priests…though if you were a priest of Mars
Cristobo De
Apr 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
It amazes me the talent this man (Robin Lane Fox) has to track small stories, ages old, and explain them to you like if they had just happened last week. I mean, from an unsuspected amount of sources mr Fox manages to explain the spread of Christianity during II-III centuries A.C. almost by the month! He even locates isolated individuals (definitely NOT celebrities) and follow their biography. It`s almost as if those cities in Asia Minor had been preserved like Pompey and you could have a look i ...more
I'm hoping that this book might have some reliable information as to these early years when Christianity became more powerful and Paganism declined.And evidence as to the whys and wherefores.
Having studied in a Catholic monastery for several years, the History of the Church was one subject we rarely studied - actually I can recall only one year when it was studied.
"Why ?", is now the question that intrigues, bemuses and amuses me. Certainly our vow of Chastity never had the economic re
Nov 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Fox does an incredible job of stitching together evidence from texts, epigraphs, coins and other sources to paint detailed portraits of both late paganism and early Christianity up to and including Constantine. He believes that the Church was not growing greatly until the conversion of Constantine, which he shows to be very real (in agreement with Leithart's later book). It is difficult to draw any firm numbers on the size of the Church prior to Constantine, and although it was growing and sprea ...more
Bryn Hammond
Fascinating close-up on late paganism and early Christianity. Paganism, alas, lost the battle. I do take sides, and I felt this book does, frankly. The Christians are very often crazy, and the pagans have a wisdom you might often see here for the first time. So the upshot broke my heart. And he became my favourite historian.

No doubt I do him a disservice - I'm sure he's impartial; it's because he is, because paganism gets a fair case, that I am left with a grief for what we lost.
Matthew Dambro
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent description and analysis of the interplay between paganism and Christianity from the second through the fourth centuries. Dr. Fox is the premier expert on late Roman antiquity and does much to dispel the myth of a moribund paganism. He is very detailed in his exposition and clear in his analysis. One should have some background in the area because he takes much for granted.
Oct 07, 2010 rated it it was ok
Long and arduous yet somehow rewarding.
Mar 12, 2017 rated it liked it
A study of the continued strength of paganism during the rise of Christianity. The author is a master of his sources. He presents a clear picture of religious sentiments in this period, albeit with some anti-Christian snark. The book is informative, and that's all that's required of a work of history.
Unfortunately, Fox's prose is deadly. You can't read more than twenty pages without nodding off. I can recommend this book to anyone suffering from chronic insomnia.
May 03, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
Skyriai per ilgi, informacija nesusisteminta, stengiamasi pateikti kuo daugiau, bet be jokio 'information flow', taigi dažnai gaunasi, kad valandą praskaitai, ir net nežinai apie ką, daug visko, bet tuo pačiu nieko bendro.. Deja, taip ir nepavyko užbaigti
This book is a truly informative read. Lane-Fox style is really easy to read in my opinion. This is a good thing as the content at times can be heavy. If it were not for the flare of this particular author one may get bogged down in the intricacy of the detail of the study which are conducted in this work. The scope of the book covers the best part of three centuries. It encompass the relations between the Pagan World of Rome and the nascent Christian culture that was beginning to put down roots ...more
J.J. Ward
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a very long book, but the author makes the subject extremely interesting - even when he's discussing what might seem to be technical academic questions, for example (in the last thirty pages or so of the book, whether such and such a speech attributed to Constantine in the 4th century really was his.

What comes across fairly strongly is how relaxed paganism was compared with Christianity. Lane Fox holds that one of the major reasons the latter survived the fall of the Roman empire was its
Jesús Rodriguez
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
Well it could be unfair to rate this because Robin Lane Fox does know his subject and maybe the foremost on Religion studies and history; and there that is where the problem come in. He tries too hard to give so much details, information that the reader gets lost and will need to read two or three times the same page or paragraph just to make sure the reader knows what he is talking about also to convince-example that the Christianity Catholicism version of intermediaries with the saints and vir ...more
May 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
After reading the Res Gestae Divi Augusti (see elsewhere) this overview of late Roman times became a new bountiful platform to view the remains that still testify to the faith of its earlier inhabitants. The physical remains that this book uses to state and clarify it's argument were an entirely new field to me. Not just the remains but their situation and their descendants, both physical and 'translated'. There are so many examples. Oh! If I had the grant money how I would love to go to sites i ...more
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
This took me forever to get through and then I didn't like it that much. I'm not sure why I think I wanted something different. I enjoyed the part of comparing views on sex and other things but a lot of it just wasn't what I wanted.
Ted Milne
Dec 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very thorough look at one of the most disruptive periods in western history. Christianity's ecclesiastical structure easily took over the more individualistic nature of the pagan world and ended up dressing itself in the "transcended" pagan robes.
I can find no better description of this vast an engaging work other than to say it is a truly magisterial and scholarly treatment of a very difficult set of topics . . . highly recommended to those interested in such things . . .
Brian Swanigan
Aug 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A great read on the beginning of the Christian Church.
Mar 26, 2009 rated it liked it
Written in foot-pounds but good expose of the usurpation of the pagan ways
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
I found this book kind of interesting, but in the same sense kind of confusing.... It was a little hard to get into...
rated it really liked it
Feb 16, 2014
Susanne Parsons
rated it it was ok
Sep 19, 2010
Michelle McCoy
rated it it was amazing
Jan 18, 2017
Leslie Ellis
rated it it was amazing
Nov 21, 2012
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Christians as the Romans Saw Them
  • The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph & Diversity 200–1000
  • The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century
  • The Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity (Oxford Illustrated Histories)
  • The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: Vols. 5-8
  • Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations
  • The Closing of the Western Mind: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason
  • Millennium: A History of the Last Thousand Years
  • The Roman Revolution
  • Augustine : A New Biography
  • The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul
  • The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity
  • The Knight in History
  • Pax Britannica: Climax of an Empire
  • The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580
  • Frozen Desire: The Meaning of Money
  • From the Maccabees to the Mishnah
  • The Oxford History of the Classical World
Robin Lane Fox (born 1946) is an English historian, currently a Fellow of New College, Oxford and University of Oxford Reader in Ancient History.

Lane Fox was educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford.

Since 1977, he has been a tutor in Greek and Roman history, and since 1990 University Reader in Ancient History. He has also taught Greek and Latin literature and early Islamic history, a subject
More about Robin Lane Fox...