Historical region of Country
From the 4th c. this region was densely populated with villages see S. Gsell, Atlas archologique de l’Algrie, Paris 1911, esp. feuille, Constantine, and Berthier et al., Vestiges, 23-31. The remaining buildings and the excavations in central Numidia, esp. those of Andr Berthier and his colleagues from 1930 on, have revealed a uniform Christian population. South Africa Map Tourist Attractions Churches and chapels dedicated to the martyrs were, with private olive presses, the most important buildings in the villages ibid., 166-171. Despite the insufficiency of dating criteria, it seems that many of these chapels were in use contemporaneously, between 380 450 ibid., 170. Before the great persecution, Christianity in Numidia tended to be uncompromising in its attitudes see Acta Maximiliani, ed. H. Musurillo, Oxford 1972, 244. Support for the Donatism represented by Donatus of Casae Nigrae himself was to be expected.
Augustine held that the schism had originated in Numidia Serm. 46, 15,39: PL 38, 293. When the circumcellions first made their appearance, ca. 340 Opt., III, 4, they showed that the social and economic burdens debts, sense of social injustice had found their outlet through Donatism. South Africa Map Tourist Attractions And yet antagonism toward the landed proprietors was expressed in religious terms. The leaders of the circumcellions called themselves duces sanctorum, while the others were agonistici Opt., III, 4, 81. The emperors who tried to suppress the Donatists were called precursors of the Antichrist, representatives of the saeculum Passio Maximiani et Isaaci: PL 8, 768 A; Passio Marculi, ibid., 761 D, whom Christians had the duty to eternally oppose.
In the 5th c. the same hostility to the secular authorities was manifested against Genseric and the Vandal rulers Liber genealogus, 627: MGH, AA, IX, 196. Some Donatist leaders supported Firmus, the rebel leader of the Kabyles, in 372 375 Aug., Ep. 87,10 and C. Ep. Parmen. I, 10,16 and 11,17, and it has been established that exorbitant taxes were one cause of the revolt Zos., Hist. nova IV, 16. Gildo’s revolt was also supported in Numidia Aug., C. Ep. Parmen. II, 2,4 and C. litt. Petiliani II, 23,53; 83,184; and 92,209, but it would be anachronistic to consider Donatism a political revolt against the empire or even a fruit of N African particularism. In terms of the cultural life of N Africa, Numidian Donatism marked a vigorous renaissance of traditional indigenous N African art, esp. that of wood sculpture see Frend, The Revival of Berber Art: Antiquity 16 1942 342-352. The language of the Donatist church’s liturgy and preaching was Latin. South Africa Map Tourist Attractions The Donatist leaders, such as Petilian or Emeritus, came from the class that spoke Latin and had been brought up on the classics, just like their Catholic opponents. Nevertheless, the circumcellion movement itself would not have appeared credible without a real, though not fully articulated, connection between the rigorist tradition of Christianity in N Africa, reflected by the Donatists, and political and economic discontent. The Donatist bishops, like Macrobius, Augustine’s rival at Hippo, were ready to identify themselves with the circumcellion movement, despite the differences of culture or even of language see Aug., Ep. 108, 5,14 and Ep. 111,1. Augustine, on the other hand, was more at ease with the wealthy or ruling classes of his diocese see Frend, The Donatist Church, ch. 20.