Author: Mark Humphries
The last half century has seen an explosion in the study of late antiquity, which has characterised the period between the third and seventh centuries not as one of catastrophic collapse and ‘decline and fall’, but rather as one of dynamic and positive transformation. Yet research on cities in this period has provoked challenges to this positive picture of late antiquity. This study surveys the nature of this debate, examining problems associated with the sources historians use to examine late antique urbanism, and the discourses and methodological approaches they have constructed from them. It aims to set out the difficulties and opportunities presented by the study of cities in late antiquity in terms of transformations of politics, the economy, and religion, and to show that this period witnessed very real upheaval and dislocation alongside continuity and innovation in cities around the Mediterranean.
Author: Mark Humphries

Abstract

This chapter examines the extent to which the cultivation of the apostles Peter and Paul as founders of a specifically Christian Rome in the fourth and fifth centuries led to a displacement of the traditional foundation narrative of Rome associated with Romulus and Remus. A juxtaposition between the rival pairs of founders is found in sermons of Pope Leo I, and these can be read as indicative of a wider trend in which Rome’s traditional founders receded from view. A key period in this transformation falls between the mid-fourth and mid-fifth centuries, beginning with the historian Aurelius Victor complaining about the lack of observance of Rome’s 1100th anniversary in 348, and concluding with Leo’s rejection of the twins in favour of the apostles. A significant spike in the debate can be located in the Theodosian period, when imperial devotions to Peter and Paul were signalled by ceremonial and topographical changes in the city. The poetry of Prudentius is shown to provide a significant echo chamber for these changes.

In: The Early Reception and Appropriation of the Apostle Peter (60-800 CE)
In: The Propaganda of Power
Author: Mark Humphries

Abstract

The last half century has seen an explosion in the study of late antiquity, largely prompted by the influence of the works of Peter Brown. This new scholarship has characterised the period between the third and seventh centuries not as one of catastrophic collapse, but rather as one of dynamic and positive transformation. Where observers formerly had seen only a bleak picture of decline and fall, a new generation of scholars preferred to emphasise how the Roman Empire evolved into the new polities, societies, and cultures of the medieval West, Byzantium, and Islam. Yet research on the fortunes of cities in this period has provoked challenges to this increasingly accepted positive picture of late antiquity and has prompted historians to speak once more in terms that evoke Edward Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. This study surveys the nature of the current debate, examining problems associated with the sources historians use to examine late-antique urbanism, as well as the discourses and methodological approaches they have constructed from them. It aims to set out the difficulties and opportunities presented by the study of cities in late antiquity, how understanding the processes affecting them has issued challenges to the scholarly orthodoxy on late antiquity, and how the evidence suggests that this transitional period witnessed real upheaval and dislocation alongside continuity and innovation in cities around the Mediterranean.

In: Brill Research Perspectives in Ancient History
Author: Mark Humphries

Abstract

The last half century has seen an explosion in the study of late antiquity, largely prompted by the influence of the works of Peter Brown. This new scholarship has characterised the period between the third and seventh centuries not as one of catastrophic collapse, but rather as one of dynamic and positive transformation. Where observers formerly had seen only a bleak picture of decline and fall, a new generation of scholars preferred to emphasise how the Roman Empire evolved into the new polities, societies, and cultures of the medieval West, Byzantium, and Islam. Yet research on the fortunes of cities in this period has provoked challenges to this increasingly accepted positive picture of late antiquity and has prompted historians to speak once more in terms that evoke Edward Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. This study surveys the nature of the current debate, examining problems associated with the sources historians use to examine late-antique urbanism, as well as the discourses and methodological approaches they have constructed from them. It aims to set out the difficulties and opportunities presented by the study of cities in late antiquity, how understanding the processes affecting them has issued challenges to the scholarly orthodoxy on late antiquity, and how the evidence suggests that this transitional period witnessed real upheaval and dislocation alongside continuity and innovation in cities around the Mediterranean.

In: Cities and the Meanings of Late Antiquity

The impact of Christianity on secular life in Late Antiquity is often conceived in rather negative terms, as various characteristic features of classical Antiquity are regarded as coming to an end. Within this interpretative framework, most studies of the literature of Late Antiquity have focussed on the survival of ‘classical’ (or ‘pagan’ or ‘secular’ ) traditions and tropes in Christian writings. This paper examines the question from the opposite perspective. It aims to forefront various ways in which Christian discourses penetrated writings that were not primarily religious in content in the Latin West from the 4th c. to the 6th.

In: Late Antique Archaeology