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Late Antiquity, which lies between Classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages (ca. A.D. 250-750), heralded the gradual decline of Mediterranean classical civilization, and the initial formation of a strictly western European, Christian society. During this period, three momentous developments threatened the paternalistic Roman social system: the rise of the Christian church, the disintegration of the Roman Empire in the west, and the establishment of the barbarian kingdoms.
In this volume Ralph W. Mathisen provides a new way of looking at the social transformations taking place in the Late Roman and early medieval worlds. During this tumultuous era, many marginalized groups found opportunities for literary self expression previously enjoyed only by Rome's secular male elite. Mathisen uses this literature of Late Antiquity to bring to light the personal concerns, private interactions, and family lives of the age, including a thorough exploration of the roles of women and children. Rather than extracting single words or phrases from the Latin documents, this volume gives concentrated attention to its literary sources. Mathisen provides translations of extended passages, allowing the literature of Late Antiquity to be interpreted, understood, and appreciated in the context of its own times.
Ralph W. Mathisen is Professor of Ancient and Byzantine History; Louise Fry Scudder Professor of Humanities; and Director, Biographical Database for Late Antiquity at the University of South Carolina.
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