Damascius' Vita Isidori and Zacharias Scholasticus' Vita Severi are the main sources for the famous 'persecutions' of pagan teachers in Alexandria during the reign of the emperor Zeno (474-491). The events are far from certain and much debated: the date, reasons and results of the repressions are unknown and controversial. In the Damascius' account, which is preserved very poorly, certain Nicomedes, perhaps agens in rebus, was sent by the emperor to investigate Alexandrian circles. As a result some of the pagan philosophers were arrested and tortured. There is almost general consensus among scholars that these repressions were of a religious character. Some serious attempts were also made by scholars in order to reconstruct the events by comparison to the relation of Zacharias Scholasticus. It appears, however, that Nicomedes' investigation had political and not religious background and it seems certain that Zacharias describing religious conflicts between Christian community and pagan teachers in Alexandria, speaks about completely different events.
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