Literature and Society in the Fourth Century AD

Performing Paideia, Constructing the Present, Presenting the Self


Late Antiquity is often assumed to have witnessed the demise of literature as a social force and its retreat into the school and the private reading room: whereas the sophists of the Second Sophistic were influential social players, their late antique counterparts are thought to have been overshadowed by bishops. Literature and Society in the Fourth Century AD argues that this presumed difference should be attributed less to a fundamental change in the role of literature than to different scholarly methodologies with which Greek and Latin texts from the second and the fourth century are being studied. Focusing on performance, the literary construction of reality and self-presentation, this volume highlights how literature continued to play an important role in fourth-century elite society.

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Lieve Van Hoof, Ph.D. (2006), K.U.Leuven, is post-doctoral research fellow at Ghent University, Belgium. Her publications include a monograph on Plutarch’s practical ethics (Oxford, 2010) and an edited volume on Libanius (Cambridge, 2014). She is currently preparing a monograph on the letters of Libanius.

Peter Van Nuffelen, Ph.D. (2003), K.U.Leuven, is Professor of Ancient History at Ghent University, Belgium. He has published widely on Roman philosophy and religion and on late antique historiography, including monographs on Socrates and Sozomen (Leuven, 2004) and Orosius (Oxford, 2012).

Contributors: Clare Coombe, Roald Dijkstra, Bertrand Lançon, Morwenna Ludlow, Neil McLynn, Sigrid Mratschek, Lieve Van Hoof, Peter Van Nuffelen, Mark Vessey, John Weisweiler.
"Lieve Van Hoof and Peter Van Nuffelen’s excellent new volume (...) is successful in illuminating numerous examples of how texts constructed versions of reality, and images of their authors, to deal with specific situations. In fact, it is this close attention to details of text and context that characterises the volume’s most significant insights. (...) [A]s a whole this impressive volume demonstrates the benefits of applying techniques from the study of earlier imperial literature to works from late antiquity" Richard Flower, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2015.10.25.
Scholars of Greek and Latin literature, historians of Late Antiquity, scholars of literature interested in socio-literary approaches, as well as undergraduate and graduate students in these areas.
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