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In this provocative book Éric Rebillard challenges many long-held assumptions about early Christian burial customs. For decades scholars of early Christianity have argued that the Church owned and operated burial grounds for Christians as early as the third century. Through a careful reading of primary sources including legal codes, theological works, epigraphical inscriptions, and sermons, Rebillard shows that there is little evidence to suggest that Christians occupied exclusive or isolated burial grounds in this early period.
In fact, as late as the fourth and fifth centuries the Church did not impose on the faithful specific rituals for laying the dead to rest. In the preparation of Christians for burial, it was usually next of kin and not representatives of the Church who were responsible for what form of rite would be celebrated, and evidence from inscriptions and tombstones shows that for the most part Christians didn't separate themselves from non-Christians when burying their dead. According to Rebillard it would not be until the early Middle Ages that the Church gained control over burial practices and that "Christian cemeteries" became common.
In this translation of Religion et Sépulture: L'église, les vivants et les morts dans l'Antiquité tardive, Rebillard fundamentally changes our understanding of early Christianity. The Care of the Dead in Late Antiquity will force scholars of the period to rethink their assumptions about early Christians as separate from their pagan contemporaries in daily life and ritual practice.
Much of the modern world's knowledge of criminal court trials in the Late Roman Republic derives from the orations of Cicero. His eleven court trial speeches have provided information about the trials and the practices of the time period. Records of the prosecution's case are lost; these speeches, our only transcripts of the time, were delivered by the defense. The Case for the Prosecution in the Ciceronian Era attempts to restore the judicial balance by depicting the lost side of the trial. Guided by Cicero's argument, Michael C. Alexander recreates the prosecution's case against the defendants in the trials. Organized into eleven chapters, each detailing one trial, the core of the work discusses the different dimensions of each trial, the circumstances surrounding the cases, those involved, the legal charges and allegations made by the prosecution, the ways in which the prosecution might have countered Cicero's rebuttal and the outcome. There is also a discussion concerning particular problems the prosecution may have faced in preparing for the trial. This book reveals strong points in favor of the prosecution; justifies the hope of the prosecutor, a private citizen who had volunteered to undertake the case; and asks why the prosecutors believed they would come out victorious, and why they eventually failed. The Case for the Prosecution in the Ciceronian Era draws on ancient rhetorical theory and on Roman law to shed light on these events. It will interest historians and classicists interested in Ciceronian oratory and those intrigued by legal history. Michael C. Alexander is Associate Professor of History, University of Illinois, Chicago.
Style in Greek Literature
Well before Aristotle’s Rhetoric elucidated the elements of verbal style that give writing its persuasive power, Greek poets and prose authors understood the importance of style in creating compelling characters to engage an audience. And because their works were composed in predominantly oral settings, their sense of style included not only the characters’ manner of speaking, but also their appearance and deportment. From Homeric epic to classical tragedy and oratory, verbal and visual cues work hand-in-hand to create distinctive styles for literary characters. In this book, Nancy Worman investigates the development and evolution of ideas about style in archaic and classical literature through a study of representations of Odysseus and Helen. She demonstrates that, as liars and imitators, pleasing storytellers, and adept users of costume, these two figures are especially skillful manipulators of style. In tracing the way literary representations of them changed through time—from Homer’s positive portrayal of their subtle self-presentations to the sharply polarized portrayals of these same subtleties in classical tragedy and oratory—Worman also uncovers a nascent awareness among the Greek writers that style may be used not only to persuade but also to distract and deceive.
From Poetic Translation to Elite Transcription
In the past decade, classical scholarship has been polarized by questions concerning the establishment of a literary tradition in Latin in the late third century BCE. On one side of the divide, there are those scholars who insist on the primacy of literature as a hermeneutical category and who, consequently, maintain a focus on poetic texts and their relationship with Hellenistic precedents. On the other side are those who prefer to rely on a pool of Latin terms as pointers to larger sociohistorical dynamics, and who see the emergence of Latin literature as one expression of these dynamics. Through a methodologically innovative exploration of the interlacing of genre and form with practice, Enrica Sciarrinobridges the gap between these two scholarly camps and develops new areas of inquiry by rescuing from the margins of scholarship the earliest remnants of Latin prose associated with Cato the Censor—a “new man” and one of the most influential politicians of his day. By systematically analyzing poetic and prose texts in relation to one another and to diverse authorial subjectivities, Cato the Censor and the Beginnings of Latin Prose: From Poetic Translation to Elite Transcription offers an entirely new perspective on the formation of Latin literature, challenges current assumptions about Roman cultural hierarchies, and sheds light on the social value attributed to different types of writing practices in mid-Republican Rome.
Women and the Pre-History of the Great Chain of Being
In Centaurs and Amazons, Page duBois offers a prehistory of hierarchy. Using structural anthropology, symbolic analysis, and recent literary theory, she demonstrates a shift in Greek thought from the fifth to the fourth century B.C. that had a profound influence upon subsequent Western culture and politics. Through an analysis of mythology, drama, sculpture, architecture, and Greek vase painting, duBois documents the transition from a system of thought that organized the experience of difference in terms of polarity and analogy to one based upon a relatively rigid hierarchical scheme. This was the beginning of "the great chain of being," the philosophical construct that all life was organized in minute gradations of superiority and inferiority. This scheme, in various guises, has continued to influence philosophical and political thought. The author's intelligent and discriminating use of scholarship from various fields makes Centaurs and Amazons an impressive interdisciplinary study of interest to classicists, feminist scholars, historians, art historians, anthropologists, and political scientists.
Performing Politics in Rome between Republic and Empire
In Ceremony and Power, Geoffrey Sumi is concerned with the relationship between political power and public ceremonial in the Roman Republic, with particular focus on the critical months following Ceasar's assassination and later as Augustus became the first emperor of Rome. The book traces the use of a variety of public ceremonies, including assemblies of the people, triumphs, funerals, and games, as a means for politicians in this period of instability and transition to shape their public images and consolidate their power and prestige. Ultimately, Sumi shows that the will of the people, whether they were the electorate assembled at the comitia, the citizen body at the contio, the spectators at the theater, the crowd at the triumph, or mourners at a funeral, strongly influenced the decisions and actions of Roman aristocrats.
Mathematics, Astronomy, and the Early History of Eclipse Reckoning
Lunar and solar eclipses have always fascinated human beings. Digging deep into history, Clemency Montelle examines the ways in which theoretical understanding of eclipses originated and how ancient and medieval cultures shared, developed, and preserved their knowledge of these awe-inspiring events. Eclipses were the celestial phenomena most challenging to understand in the ancient world. Montelle draws on original research—much of it derived from reading primary source material written in Akkadian and Sanskrit, as well as ancient Greek, Latin, and Arabic—to explore how observers in Babylon, the Islamic Near East, Greece, and India developed new astronomical and mathematical techniques to predict and describe the features of eclipses. She identifies the profound scientific discoveries of these four cultures and discusses how the societies exchanged information about eclipses. In constructing this history, Montelle establishes a clear pattern of the transmission of scientific ideas from one culture to another in the ancient and medieval world. Chasing Shadows is an invitingly written and highly informative exploration of the early history of astronomy.
In Christianity, Empire, and the Making of Religion in Late Antiquity, Jeremy M. Schott examines the ways in which conflicts between Christian and pagan intellectuals over religious, ethnic, and cultural identity contributed to the transformation of Roman imperial rhetoric and ideology in the early fourth century C.E. During this turbulent period, which began with Diocletian's persecution of the Christians and ended with Constantine's assumption of sole rule and the consolidation of a new Christian empire, Christian apologists and anti-Christian polemicists launched a number of literary salvos in a battle for the minds and souls of the empire.
Schott focuses on the works of the Platonist philosopher and anti- Christian polemicist Porphyry of Tyre and his Christian respondents: the Latin rhetorician Lactantius, Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea, and the emperor Constantine. Previous scholarship has tended to narrate the Christianization of the empire in terms of a new religion's penetration and conquest of classical culture and society. The present work, in contrast, seeks to suspend the static, essentializing conceptualizations of religious identity that lie behind many studies of social and political change in late antiquity in order to investigate the processes through which Christian and pagan identities were constructed. Drawing on the insights of postcolonial discourse analysis, Schott argues that the production of Christian identity and, in turn, the construction of a Christian imperial discourse were intimately and inseparably linked to the broader politics of Roman imperialism.
For too long, the study of religious life in Late Antiquity has relied on the premise that Jews, pagans, and Christians were largely discrete groups divided by clear markers of belief, ritual, and social practice. More recently, however, a growing body of scholarship is revealing the degree to which identities in the late Roman world were fluid, blurred by ethnic, social, and gender differences. Christianness, for example, was only one of a plurality of identities available to Christians in this period.
In Christians and Their Many Identities in Late Antiquity, North Africa, 200-450 CE, Éric Rebillard explores how Christians in North Africa between the age of Tertullian and the age of Augustine were selective in identifying as Christian, giving salience to their religious identity only intermittently. By shifting the focus from groups to individuals, Rebillard more broadly questions the existence of bounded, stable, and homogeneous groups based on Christianness. In emphasizing that the intermittency of Christianness is structurally consistent in the everyday life of Christians from the end of the second to the middle of the fifth century, this book opens a whole range of new questions for the understanding of a crucial period in the history of Christianity.
Cicero’s Practical Philosophy marks a revival over the last two generations of serious scholarly interest in Cicero’s political thought. Its nine original essays by a multidisciplinary group of distinguished international scholars manifest close study of Cicero’s philosophical writings and great appreciation for him as a creative thinker, one from whom we can continue to learn. This collection focuses initially on Cicero’s major work of political theory, his De Re Publica, and the key moral virtues that shape his ethics, but the contributors attend to all of Cicero’s primary writings on political community, law, the ultimate good, and moral duties. Room is also made for Cicero’s extensive writings on the art of rhetoric, which he explicitly draws into the orbit of his philosophical writings. Cicero’s concern with the divine, with epistemological issues, and with competing analyses of the human soul are among the matters necessarily encountered in pursuing, with Cicero, the large questions of moral and political philosophy, namely, what is the good and genuinely happy life and how are our communities to be rightly ordered.