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    The Cambridge Ancient History
    • Online ISBN: 9781139054409
    • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005
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Book description

With the publication of Volume 13 The Cambridge Ancient History moves into fresh territory. The first edition was completed by Volume 12 which closed in AD 324. The editors of the new edition have enlarged the scope of Volume 12 to include the foundation of Constantinople and the death of Constantine, and extended the series with two new volumes taking the history down to AD 600. Volume 13 covers the years 337–425, from the death of Constantine to the reign of Theodosius II. It begins with a series of narrative chapters, followed by a part on government and institutions. The economy and society of the Empire are grouped together, as are chapters on foreign relations and the barbarian world. A part on religion marks the importance of Christianity in the Roman Empire by this period. The volume concludes with chapters on the various literary cultures of the Empire, and on art.

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‘I had bought this volume before I was asked to review it, the best possible compliment surely to publishers, editors, and contributors alike.’

Source: The Classical Review

‘Cameron and Garnsey deserve congratulations for this: the volume will last at least as long as the first editions of CAH did (of course they did not cover this period at all), and maybe longer.’

Source: Journal of Roman Studies

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Page 1 of 2


  • 1 - The successors of Constantine
    pp 1-43
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.002
  • View abstract
    Summary
    In dealing with the established institutions of Rome, where Constantine had already charted the pragmatic course which would be followed by his Christian successors through the century, the emperor faced constraints against the thoroughgoing eradication of paganism which the will of God ideally required - and of which Constans and his brother were eloquently reminded about this time in Firmicus Maternus' pamphlet On the Error of Profane Religions. A more definitive legacy of Constantine's was the transformation of ecclesiastical politics into affairs of state. Constans' destroyer, Fl. Magnus Magnentius, was representative of a new breed of capaces imperii springing up in the western provinces in the fourth century. In over twenty years of defending Roman territory in the east, Amida was the first place to fall to the Persians. At Constantinople he ordered an investigation into the disaster, which resulted in Ursicinus' being retired from his command.
  • 2 - Julian
    pp 44-77
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.003
  • View abstract
    Summary
    It was at Nicomedia that Julian first encountered the teaching of Libanius. Libanius' own claim is that Julian was moved to Nicomedia on the orders of the emperor, for fear of his growing popularity in 'court circles' in the capital. Julian remained at Nicomedia when his older brother was elevated to imperial rank in March 351; the two met as the new Caesar passed through the city en route to taking up his residence at Antioch. More significant, though, is Julian's misrepresentation of his position as Caesar in relation to Constantius and the existing military establishment in Gaul. The Paris proclamation displays some of the classic ingredients of a late Roman usurpation. When the law on the qualifications of teachers was issued in June 362, Julian may already have embarked on the journey from Constantinople to Antioch, with the intention of assembling an army to resume the war against Persia which Constantius had left unfinished.
  • 3 - From Jovian to Theodosius
    pp 78-110
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.004
  • View abstract
    Summary
    At Thilsaphata Jovian met the forces of Procopius and Sebastdanus, which Julian had stationed in the area for the defence of Mesopotamia. The army was divided into two parts: the larger force accompanied Procopius to Tarsus with the body of Julian, and Jovian took the smaller to Antioch, diplomatically visiting the largest city of the eastern empire, where he hoped to make a better impression than Julian had done. Valentinian was an orthodox Nicene Christian. His tolerance in religious matters impressed pagans, many of whom had expected a violent response to Julian's michievous religious policy. In the spring of 368, Theodosius embarked his vanguard at Bononia and crossed the Channel to Rutupiae. An engagement between Theodosius and the Goths ended in a serious defeat for the Romans. After his accession Theodosius took time to understand fully the complexity of Greek Christianity.
  • 4 - The dynasty of Theodosius
    pp 111-137
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.005
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The legacy of Theodosius I to the Roman world contained three elements of capital importance. First, his insistence that the Nicene version of Christian orthodoxy prevail routed Arianism from its strongholds in the Balkans and in Constantinople itself and laid down the lines of development for Roman Christianity, both east and west. Second, his settling as autonomous federates the barbarian peoples who had crossed into the Roman empire both before and after Adrianople, his gready increased use of federate troops in the Roman armies, and his cultivation of the chieftains of the barbarians, especially the Visigoths. Finally, Theodosius' determination that his dynasty should rule the whole Roman world led to a costly civil war against Eugenius and, at his own death shordy thereafter, the division of the empire between his two young and incapable sons, controlled by ministers whose rivalries split the resources of the state at a time when they needed to be united.
  • 5 - Emperors, government and bureaucracy
    pp 138-183
    • By Christopher Kelly, Lecturer in Classics in the University of Cambridge, and Fellow of Corpus Christi College
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.006
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter examines the consequences for emperors and their supporters of the increasing centralization of power and the continued growth of a sophisticated and well-organized bureaucracy. The emperor in the later Roman world was undoubtedly a powerful figure. Later Roman emperors could not rule alone. As fourth-century commentators clearly saw, the effective governance of empire inevitably involved a close reliance on sometimes untrustworthy courtiers, relatives, officials and friends. The payment of money was integral to the workings of later Roman bureaucracy. In an uncertain world, only emperors, as they repeatedly insisted, stood a chance of resolving what for the majority caught up in later Roman government remained a shifting set of tactical possibilities to be played to best advantage. From that point of view it was clearly in the interests of all jockeying for power, position or preferment to cheer loudly as the glittering procession of a godlike emperor passed them by.
  • 6 - Senators and senates
    pp 184-210
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.007
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter discusses the total revolution in the nature of the imperial senatorial order. It considers the institutional changes put in place in the course of the century, the new career patterns which resulted, and the evolving political role of senators, both in central, imperial politics and in the governing of localities. The most obvious institutional innovation of the fourth century was the creation of the senate of Constantinople. The new body did not spring fully formed from the head of the emperor Constantine, however, having at least three marked phases of development. The link between the bureaucracy and the senate was fully institutionalized in the reign of Valentinian I and Valens. The fundamental changes in the nature of the senatorial order naturally affected the type of careers being followed by its members. Individual senators and institutional bodies dominated by senators were involved in a wide variety of ways in imperial politics: the formulation of policy and regimes.
  • 7 - The army
    pp 211-237
    • By A. D. Lee, University of Wales, Lampeter
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.008
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The army was an institution of central importance throughout Roman imperial history. This chapter talks about two sources Notitia Dignitatum, which allows one to see something of the formal organization of the empire's military forces; and History of Ammianus Marcellinus, which enables to observe the army in action, in its military capacity and in its wider political and social context. The main theme in the organizational evolution of the field army after Constantine's death is regionalization. The army was a consumer of human resources, and emperors of the period do seem to have had difficulties finding sufficient recruits. From the advent of monarchy under Augustus, maintenance of a good relationship with the army was always one of the most important political priorities of emperors. The starting-point in assessing the effectiveness of the limitanei must be the question of whether they were in origin a peasant militia, given land to farm while they performed military service.
  • 8 - The church as a public institution
    pp 238-276
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.009
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The Christian church in the Roman empire had been transformed from an object of official indifference and active hostility into the recipient of favour, privilege and protection. The bishops at Sardica in 343 began to formulate the appellate jurisdiction of the Roman bishop ostensibly as a reaction against the rush to involve the imperial power as a court of last resort for settling church issues. At Constantinople the tally of church buildings increased steadily in the generations after Constantine, while in the time of bishop Macedonius, under Constantius II, the eastern capital also began to witness the emergence of a network of monasteries and charitable establishments. Although the bishop's role of judge and arbitrator for his fellow citizens had a history in earlier church procedure, and was enhanced by the increased public profile of the church in the fourth century, it was also given an institutional footing by the endorsement of imperial decrees.
  • 9 - Rural life in the later Roman empire
    pp 277-311
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.010
  • View abstract
    Summary
    There was in the later Roman world a veritable 'explosion' of documentation and pictorial representation of rural life that paved the way to the medieval world by illustrating the ruralization of the lives of even urban inhabitants. The first thing, which must be studied in any discussion of the countryside in late antiquity, is whether production on the land had declined. There are some reasons why it might have done so: war damage, particularly in frontier regions; loss of land to barbarian settlements; over-taxation in certain parts; shortage of manpower; bad management, particularly as a result of absentee landlords or imperial ownership. But it is necessary to look at the positive evidence also: whether there was better management and technological improvement; and whether new land was being brought into production and new labour resources made available. Assessment of the productivity of the land must include some discussion about the forces of production and the ownership of land.
  • 10 - Trade, industry and the urban economy
    pp 312-337
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.011
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter revolves around urban demand for commodities, both staples and luxury goods. This is because it was in the cities that the mass of non-producing consumers and most of the wealthy were concentrated. Goods changed hands in other settings, but the city remained the central place where rural production converged and exchange took place. Demand was continuous and remained high, for two main reasons. First, though traditional civic institutions did decline, the cities on the whole survived as economic units. Second, their economic life was still dominated by a landed elite. The movement of goods over medium or long distances did not dry up in the late empire, as the finds of pottery amply demonstrate. It was above all the participation of the propertied classes in the urban economy which guaranteed a certain level of independent economic activity, a certain volume of market exchange.
  • 11 - Late Roman social relations
    pp 338-370
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.012
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The most obvious characteristic of Roman society, its verticality, became more accentuated in late antiquity. The history of social relations in late antiquity certainly benefits from being illuminated by sources notable for their quantity and quality. The sources issue, as always in antiquity, from the upper classes of society, and the silence of the lower classes is almost total. Christian charity undoubtedly represented a significant departure from the typical forms of munificence of the pagan empire, precisely because of the universalistic ideology which directed it towards groups which were normally neglected. In the second half of the fourth century, a way of advancement opened up for Christian women in the form of an ascetic lifestyle. The increased verticalization of the society of late antiquity is most apparent in the emphasis on the figure of the emperor. At Constantinople between the fourth and the fifth century the arbiters of the political struggle are the barbarians in the army and the bishops.
  • 12 - The cities
    pp 371-410
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.013
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The Roman empire of the fourth and early fifth centuries remained, as it had always been, city-based, with political, religious and aristocratic life revolving around the civitates and around major capitals. Although their importance remained unchanged, the cities of the late empire differed in several obvious ways from the cities of the earlier Roman world. The three changes, in the political, military and religious role of the cities had a marked effect on the politics of city life and on the way that the aristocracy played out its role within the cities. The fourth to sixth centuries saw the decline of the centuries-old ideal of the classical city governing the patterns of local political life and spending. These centuries also saw the gradual emergence of a 'new' city, playing an important part within the overall administrative, financial and military structures of church and state, and increasingly focused on a Christian ideology of saints and their churches.
  • 13 - Warfare and diplomacy
    pp 411-436
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.014
  • View abstract
    Summary
    In the Roman tradition diplomacy, that is, 'direct communication state-to-state', was viewed mainly as an adjunct or epilogue to war, as when a victorious general negotiated the surrender of a defeated enemy, or an alliance was struck for a military goal, or a truce was agreed to forestall an attack or bury the dead. Information from the works, contextualized by the enormous amount of data now available from archaeology, makes it possible to construct a fairly ample account of the warfare of the period. The Greek and Latin sources begin to show a greater interest in diplomatic activity only during the later part of the reign of Theodosius II. Diocletian and Constantine completed the work of the third-century soldier-emperors in saving the Roman empire from its external enemies. The dangers latent in the federate settlements became clear soon after the death of Theodosius and the division of the empire between his ineffective sons, Arcadius and Honorius.
  • 14 - The eastern frontier
    pp 437-460
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.015
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Any description of the eastern frontier must start with a discussion of the relationship between Rome and Persia. During most of the reign of Yezdegerd I (399-420) and in the first years of Theodosius II (408-50), relations between Rome and Persia were marked by a policy of mutual tolerance. In the fourth century the Arab nomad forces, 'Saracens', as they are called in the contemporary literature, became an important factor in the warfare between Rome and Persia to an extent previously unknown. The Jews in Palestine and the Diaspora had enjoyed a considerable degree of autonomy under Roman rule from the second century onward. The military organization of the second half of the fourth century had more in common with that of the sixth than with that of the third. This period witnessed the institution of territorial commands held by duces as distinct from the field arm.
  • 15 - The Germanic peoples
    pp 461-486
    • By Malcolm Todd, Principal of Trevelyan College and Professor of Archaeology at the University of Durham
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.016
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Roman written sources suggest little change within the social order of the Germanic peoples from the first contacts to the migrations. The impact of environmental change in the later Roman Iron Age must also be allowed for, in certain areas at least, most notably in the northern coastlands. From some areas of northern Gaul, however, there have come clear signs of German settlement dating from the late fourth and early fifth centuries. The peoples of the northern German coastlands who posed an increasing threat to the security of the frontier on the lower Rhine and to the coasts of northern Gaul and Britain in the fourth century were lumped together by Roman sources as 'Saxons', though that name embraced wide ethnic variety. By the early fifth century, whether in Gaul, the Danube lands or Scandinavia, Germanic leaders could express a growing confidence that their place in a changed world was assured as never before.
  • 16 - Goths and Huns, c. 320–425
    pp 487-515
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.017
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The geographical area dominated by the Goths before the arrival of the Huns is broadly defined by the extent of the Cernjachov culture. In the past, the association of this culture with the Goths was highly contentious, but important methodological advances have made it irresistible. It is traditional to conceive of the Goths as being divided in the fourth century into Visigoths and Ostrogoths. A huge revolution in Gothic society, started some fifty years earlier by the Huns, had finally come to fruition in the creation of the Visigoths. Theoderic I established a new order in Gotho-Roman relations. Goths and Romans co-operated in Spain, destroying one out of two Vandal groups, and savaging various groups of Alans. For the Romans, the Goths had become a lesser evil, and, with that in mind, they were willing to countenance their autonomous settlement within the Roman frontier and sanction it with a formal alliance.
  • 17 - The barbarian invasions and first settlements
    pp 516-537
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.018
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The majority of the Tervingi decided to abandon dieir homelands, and under the leadership of Alavivus and Fritigern petitioned to cross die Danube and enter the Roman empire. With this crossing, and die officially approved settlement of die Tervingian Goths in the Balkans in 376, the narrative of the barbarian invasions and settlements can be said to have begun. This period of invasion can usefully be distinguished within die larger history of barbarian migration and assimilation into the Roman world. An edict appended to the Liber Constitutionum reveals a subsequent set of allocations, probably made in the 520s, in which land was divided equally between Romans and barbarians. Early information on the first settlements, therefore, is very slight. Since the empire of Valentinian III was shored up by die barbarians, it was possible to drink that little had changed since the days of Theodosius I.
  • 18 - Polytheist religion and philosophy
    pp 538-560
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.019
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter talks about the hand of the state and about its role, whether active or passive, in the foundering of public polytheism. The reign of Constantius is peculiarly elusive for the historian of religion. Julian was a polytheist who believed firmly in individual gods who inhabited particular parts of the earth. Though there was some anti-polydieist reaction immediately after Julian's death, his successor Jovian (363-4) espoused a 'Constantinian' policy of broad toleration which permitted, according to Themistius, 'legal sacrifices'. About the year 386, for example, one finds bishop Marcellus of Apamea encompassing, in that famous centre of polytheist religion and philosophy, the destruction of the temple of Zeus. As a form of local and especially rural religion, polytheism showed remarkable powers of resistance. Although there is an obvious connection between the triumph of Christianity and the demise of polytheism, these were two distinct processes with independent timetables.
  • 19 - Orthodoxy and heresy from the death of Constantine to the eve of the first council of Ephesus
    pp 561-600
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.020
  • View abstract
    Summary
    By Constantine's time in both east and west, the baptismal creed had been shaped to give affirmations which were simultaneously denials of gnostic heresy. The controversy about Origen's orthodoxy became acute again in the time of Justinian who, by decree, condemned Origen, Evagrius and Didymus. An accusation of heresy was brought before Aurelius, bishop of Carthage, at which, despite his eloquent protests that he was not denying the need for infants to be baptized, Celestius was declared excommunicate. He left for Ephesus. Augustine was moved to write by the sympathy which Celestius' theses evoked in Africa. The council of Ephesus inaugurated a series of ecumenical councils, and numerous colloquia and lesser councils, to try to reach agreement between the two main groups. The party of 'one nature', called by their opponents 'Monophysites', regarded the party of 'two natures' as holding Jesus to be no more than an inspired man.
  • 20 - Asceticism: pagan and Christian
    pp 601-631
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.021
  • View abstract
    Summary
    In a tense and ambitious age, asceticism was one possible form of achievement among many. Most important of all, late Roman asceticism would not have been so exuberantly creative if the 'statements' made by differing ascetic traditions and 'read' by those around them had not varied dramatically. To a modern reader all late antique ascetic practices can appear equal, because all seem to be equally a departure from what we have been accustomed to regard as the less ascetic, more world-affirming tone of the classical period. This chapter concentrates on the differences in meaning, attached by differing groups, to what were often commonplace ascetic practices. With Augustine the process is complete. Only through Christ and the Catholic church had the tragic gap between the world of unchanging truth and the world of time been bridged. In the next centuries, the history of asceticism, especially in the west, would increasingly coincide with the history of die Christian church.
  • 21 - Christianization and religious conflict
    pp 632-664
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.022
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter discusses the process by which the hints of the infinitely diverse religious climate that prevailed in much of the Roman empire in the fourth and fifth centuries have remained what they are for any modern reader - tantalizing fragments of a complex religious world, glimpsed through the chinks in a body of evidence which claims to tell a very different story. One tends to forget how much of the conflict between Constantine and Theodosius II, was considered by late Roman Christians to have been fought out in heaven rather than on earth. The late antique period is characterized by the successful imposition of a rabbinic interpretation of Judaism among the Jewish communities in Palestine, Mesopotamia and elsewhere, and by the formalization and propagation of Zoroastrianism throughout the Sasanian empire. Both are remarkable events of which we know singularly little, compared with the process that we call the 'Christianization of the Roman empire'.
  • 22 - Education and literary culture
    pp 665-707
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.023
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter concentrates on literary culture and the cognitive aspects of cultural systems. The traditional rhetorical education continued to be valued throughout the period; it was indeed the only kind of education available, except in special fields like philosophy and law. Christians and pagans alike were deeply influenced by Neoplatonism, and especially by certain key texts. The late fourth century is remarkable for the intensity of literary and intellectual activity among certain members of the upper class, both Christian and pagan; for the sheer volume of surviving works, this is surely the richest period of antiquity. It is hardly surprising if Christian and pagan epistolography followed a similar pattern, with an emphasis on letters of recommendation, consolation and encouragement, in accordance with the demands of late Roman amicitia. A dense and complex ascetic literature, ranging from the more or less popular to the highly rhetorical, developed in the eastern empire from die fourth century onwards, and spread to the west.
  • 23a - Syriac Culture, 337–425
    pp 708-719
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521302005.024
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Syriac culture was heir to three quite different literary cultures: ancient Mesopotamian, Jewish and Greek. In the period up to 425, elements from all three can be readily identified, in varying proportions, in the extant literature; from the early fifth century onwards the Greek element became the predominant influence, while the other two fade into the background. This applies equally to the history of Syriac culture in the Sasanian empire, although there the influence of Greek culture on Syriac literature does not become strong until the sixth century. The interaction between Greek and Syriac culture in Syria and northern Mesopotamia was in fact a complex affair, and in the period under consideration the juxtaposition of the two literary cultures resulted in mutual enrichment. In the sixth century, at a time when the prestige of Greek culture was resulting in ever stronger influence on Syriac literature, Syriac was actually gaining ground as a written language to the west of the Euphrates.

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