Anastasius, Justinian, and the Pagans: A Tale of Two Law Codes and a Papyrus


P. Oxy. XV 1814 provides the most direct evidence for the contents of the First Edition of the Justinian Code (the Novus Codex of 529). Providing the basis for a comparison with the Second Edition (the Codex repetitae praelectionis of 534), it reveals how in the later edition material was added, removed, replaced, and relocated. In particular, the papyrus throws light on imperial policy toward the pagans from its presentation of material under CJ 1.11 (On Pagans, Sacrifices, and Temples). Thus CJ21.11.9 = CJ11.11.10 is shown to have been issued by Anastasius, a fact often overlooked by scholars, because it is not reflected in Krüger's standard Code edition. It is argued here that a convincing context for this anti-pagan measure can be found in the aftermath of the Brytae riots of 502. The traditional association between CJ21.11.10 and the ending of pagan philosophical teaching in Athens is affirmed, with the law dated to the late summer/autumn of 529, coinciding with Tribonian taking control of legal policy. Finally, it is in the detailed anti-pagan measures of CJ21.11.10 that the reasons for the deletion of CJ11.11.1 (absent from the Second Edition) can be found. This mysterious constitution should not be associated with Constantine's missing law against sacrifice, but was probably a measure protective of pagans in some way and so most likely a private rescript of a pre-Christian emperor deriving from the Gregorian Code