Persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire
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Persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire began during the reign of Constantine the Great — in the military colony of Aelia Capitolina Jerusalem , when he destroyed a temple for the purpose of constructing a church. Christian historians alleged that Hadrian 2nd century had constructed a temple of Aphrodite on the site of the crucifixion on Golgotha hill in order to suppress Jewish-Christian veneration there. Constantine used that to justify the temple's destruction, saying he was simply reclaiming the property. In , he issued two more laws forbidding sacrifice and the worship of images, making them capital crimes, as well as ordering the closing of all temples. The statue of victory was allowed to remain. Even so, it can be reasonably claimed that from until , paganism was relatively tolerated. This period of toleration ended under the reigns of three emperors, Gratian , Valentinian II and Theodosius I when anti-paganism policies were reinstituted and penalties increased.
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