Rome in the time of the fourth century was one of dramatic political and religious change. After thousands of years of pagan tradition, Christianity was suddenly the new order. In 311, The Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. Heated confrontations saw the Christian establishment legislate against pagan practices. Mobs attacked pagan holy sites and temples. By the mid-fourth century well-heeled middle-aged pagans found their world was transforming.

Many historians have written about this fascinating time. But Edwards Watts is the first to write about this transition through the eyes of the older generation who lived through this monumental societal change: the “final pagan generation.

Historian Edward Watts, author of The Final Pagan Generation: Rome’s Unexpected Path to Christianity, joined UC Press Executive Director, Tim Sullivan in this virtual conversation to discuss what new insights his book reveals about this significant time in Roman history.

Watts explains that most historians have not accounted for the differing generational perspectives during this period of Roman history. The result is a loss of nuance in the history, and a major gap in understanding how the different lived experiences between the generations at the time influenced how they understood their world.

As someone from the often overlooked, and smaller Gen X generation, Watts was drawn to this final pagan generation as a group who failed to anticipate and ultimately impact the trajectory of Rome’s future.

Learn more about Edward Watts’ book, The Final Pagan Generation.