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The simple idea that "things were better" in the past is one that may appeal to many. Historians, however, tend not to believe it.
This on the place of riots in first-century Greco-Roman cities from French historian Jerome Carcopino:
"Night fell over the city like the shadow of a great danger, diffused, sinister and menacing. Everyone fled to his home, shut himself in and barricaded the entrance....Juvenal sighs that to go out to supper without having made your will was to expose yourself to reproach of carelessness....Criminals abounded in the city."
And this from Professor Rodney Stark from the University of Washngton:
"The social integration of Greco-Roman cities was severely disrupted .... exposing residents to a variety of harmful consequences, including high rates of devience and disorder. Indeed, this is a major reason why Greco-Roman cities were so prone to riots."
On Antioch in particular, location of Christianity's first genuinely multi-racial church, Professor Stark notes:
"the six major periods of rioting that racked the city [during the Roman era]. By a major riot, I mean one resulting in substantial damage and death, as distinct from the city's frequent riots in which only a few were killed."