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In Minucius Felix the contents of Christian belief crop up only in a few hints, while in his theodicy and natural ethics he makes wide use of philosophical elements, drawn esp. from Cicero and Seneca. These are also his preferred models, not uninfluenced by the archaism then in vogue in literary form. Rome Subway Map We see the same conformity to formal tradition in Cyprian, the rhetor who, converted to Christianity and made bishop of Carthage 248 258, was completely taken up with the needs of his pastoral ministry and uninterested in cultural problems. Arnobius of Sicca d. ca. 327 took a different attitude: in the seven books of his Adversus nationes, rich in information from good sources on pagan belief and worship esp. in Africa, he gives considerable prominence to philosophical currents, esp. Platonism, contesting their value, since reason is incapable of reaching the truth. He too molded his literary style on the traditions of the schools, with a profuse, emphatic style not lacking in vigor and originality. Lactantius lived in an age ca. 250 320 when Christianity, by now widespread even in intellectual circles, had to measure itself against pagan culture. In his Divinae institutiones he sought to defend his religion systematically, with constant use of rational investigation, in polemic against philosophy. He was called the Christian Cicero for his perfect style, modeled on the best authors and cultivated in the firm conviction that in this way he was helping the Christian cause. Between his death and that of Leo the Great 461, Christian literature reached its greatest splendor in both East and West. It was marked by, among other things, a more serene openness of the Christian consciousness to the values of classical culture, which, even amid the lingering residues of traditional diffidence, began to be distinguished from the religious content of paganism. We should bear in mind that, in the East and in the West, young Christians and pagans were formed in the same cultural environment, since there were no schools run by Christians or for Christians except for the catechumenate, which was strictly religious in scope. Here we can only give quick glimpses of a cultural movement that was growing broader and deeper, with the emergence of personalities of great importance in the Christian world.

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