Night-loving Creatures in the Greco-Roman World (p. 9-32)


Despina Iosif

Adjunct Professor of Ancient History and Religion,

College Year in Athens

Abstract: Τhis paper will argue that most people in the Greco-Roman world did not avoid going out at night, the streets were not empty after dark, and the night was not a time for inactivity and silence in antiquity. Pagans were out and about at night, and Christians invited them to become even more active in the service of their god. A great percentage of significant Christian action took place during the night. Early Christians did not regard the daytime as sufficient for their venerating needs. For them, the night was ideal for even more instruction, more prayer, more miracles, prophetic visions, and dreams. Expanding Christian time was a desideratum, and nocturnal activities became almost normative with the advent of Christianity. Christians, and especially Christian women, were busy after hours visiting their incarcerated ikons most of whom were Christian confessors, and collecting the remains of the new heroes of the day, the martyrs. The NT exhortation: ‘remember those in prison as though in prison withthem,’ was taken (or was to be taken) by Christian and aspiring Christian women very seriously. One factor that contributed to the success of the new religion, and which has escaped scholarly notice, must have been the activity of early Christian women throughout the night, especially inside Roman prisons. Christian’s use of the night and Christian women’s fearlessness partly accounts for their eventual success. Dark, nocturnal prisons, not just arenas, were places of Roman violence and torture and displays of Christian courage and inspiration.

Night-loving Creatures in the Greco-Roman World (pdf)