Friday, July 27, 2007

Popular Morality in the Early Roman Empire by Teresa Morgan

Morality is one of the fundamental structures of any society, enabling complex groups to form, negotiate their internal differences and persist through time. In the first book-length study of Roman popular morality, Dr Morgan argues that we can recover much of the moral thinking of people across the Empire. Her study draws on proverbs, fables, exemplary stories and gnomic quotations, to explore how morality worked as a system for Roman society as a whole and in individual lives. She examines the range of ideas and practices and their relative importance, as well as questions of authority and the relationship with high philosophy and the ethical vocabulary of documents and inscriptions. The Roman Empire incorporated numerous overlapping groups, whose ideas varied according to social status, geography, gender and many other factors. Nevertheless it could and did hold together as an ethical community, which was a significant factor in its socio-political success.

About the Author
Teresa Morgan is University Lecturer in Ancient History at Oxford and a Fellow of Oriel College. She is the author of Literate Education in the Hellenistic and Roman Worlds (1998).

Egypt in the Byzantine World by Roger S. Bagnall (Editor)

Egypt in the period from the reign of the emperor Constantine to the Arab conquest was both a vital part of the Late Roman and Byzantine world, participating fully in the culture of its wider Mediterranean society, and a distinctive milieu, launched on a path to developing the Coptic Christian culture that we see fully only after the end of Byzantine rule. This book is the first comprehensive survey of Egypt to treat this entire period including the first half-century of Arab rule. Twenty-one renowned specialists present the history, society, economy, culture, religious institutions, art and architecture of the period. Topics covered range from elite literature to mummification and from monks to Alexandrian scholars. A full range of Egypt's uniquely rich source materials - literature, papyrus documents, letters, and archaeological remains - gives exceptional depth and vividness to this portrait of a society, and recent archaeological discoveries are described and illustrated.

About the Author
Roger Bagnall is Professor of Classics and History at Colombia University.

Severan Culture by Simon Swain(Editor), Stephen Harrison (Editor), Jas' Elsner (Editor)

The Roman Empire during the reigns of Septimius Severus and his successors (AD 193–225) enjoyed a remarkably rich and dynamic cultural life. It saw the consolidation of the movement known as the second sophistic, which had flourished during the second century and promoted the investigation and reassessment of classical Greek culture. It also witnessed the emergence of Christianity on its own terms, in Greek and in Latin, as a major force extending its influence across literature, philosophy, theology, art and even architecture. This volume offers the first wide-ranging and authoritative survey of the culture of this fascinating period when the background of Rome's rulers was for the first time non-Italian. Leading scholars discuss general trends and specific instances, together producing a vibrant picture of an extraordinary period of cultural innovation rooted in ancient tradition.

About the Author
Simon Swain is Professor of Classics at the University of Warwick. His recent publications include editing Bilingualism in Ancient Society (2002) (with J. N. Adams and M. Jase), Approaching Late Antiquity (2004) and Seeing the Face, Seeing the Soul: Polemon's Physiognomy from Classical Antiquity to Medieval Islam (2007). Stephen Harrison is Professor of Classical Languages and Literature at the University of Oxford and Fellow and Tutor in Classics at Corpus Christi College. His numerous publications include A Commentary on Vergil, Aeneid 10 (1991), Apuleius: A Latin Sophist (2000), Generic Enrichment in Vergil and Horace (2007) and, as editor, The Cambridge Companion to Horace (2007). Jas’ Elsner is Humfry Payne Senior Research Fellow in Classical Archaeology at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He has edited and co-edited numerous volumes and is the author of Art and the Roman Viewer (1995), Imperial Rome and Christian Triumph: The Art of the Roman Empire (1998) and Roman Eyes: Visuality and Subjectivity in Art and Text (2007).

The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians

"The death of the Roman Empire is one of the perennial mysteries of world history. Now, in this groundbreaking book, Peter Heather proposes a stunning new solution: Centuries of imperialism turned the neighbors Rome called barbarians into an enemy capable of dismantling an Empire that had dominated their lives for so long. A leading authority on the late Roman Empire and on the barbarians, Heather relates the extraordinary story of how Europe's barbarians, transformed by centuries of contact with Rome on every possible level, eventually pulled the empire apart. He shows first how the Huns overturned the existing strategic balance of power on Rome's European frontiers, to force the Goths and others to seek refuge inside the Empire. This prompted two generations of struggle, during which new barbarian coalitions, formed in response to Roman hostility, brought the Roman west to its knees. The Goths first destroyed a Roman army at the battle of Hadrianople in 378, and went on to sack Rome in 410. The Vandals spread devastation in Gaul and Spain, before conquering North Africa, the breadbasket of the Western Empire, in 439. We then meet Attila the Hun, whose reign of terror swept from Constantinople to Paris, but whose death in 453 ironically precipitated a final desperate phase of Roman collapse, culminating in the Vandals' defeat of the massive Byzantine Armada: the west's last chance for survival. Peter Heather convincingly argues that the Roman Empire was not on the brink of social or moral collapse. What brought it to an end were the barbarians."