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The writers mostly criticized pagan works of art for pointing to false gods, thus encouraging idolatry.

Statues in the round were avoided as being too close to the principal artistic focus of pagan cult practices, as they have continued to be (with some small-scale exceptions) throughout the history of Eastern Christianity. c.430), in his Letter to Heliodorus Silentiarius, records a miracle in which St.

Indeed, in the 5th century the courts of justice and municipal buildings of the empire still honoured the portrait of the reigning emperor in this way.

In 425 Philostorgius, an allegedly Arian Christian, charged the Orthodox Christians in Constantinople with idolatry because they still honored the image of the emperor Constantine the Great, the founder of the city, in this way.

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Paintings of martyrs and their feats began to appear, and early writers commented on their lifelike effect, one of the elements a few Christian writers criticized in pagan art — the ability to imitate life.

It went missing in 1204 when Crusaders sacked Constantinople, but by then numerous copies had firmly established its iconic type.

The 4th-century Christian Aelius Lampridius produced the earliest known written records of Christian images treated like icons (in a pagan or Gnostic context) in his Life of Alexander Severus (xxix) that formed part of the Augustan History.

Modern academic art history considers that, while images may have existed earlier, the tradition can only be traced back to the 3rd century, and the images that survive from Early Christian art were often very different from later ones.

The icons of later centuries can be linked, often closely, to images from the 5th century onwards, though very few of these survive.

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