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Prison, Punishment and Penance in Late Antiquity


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  • Date Published: September 2022
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781009296410

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About the Authors
  • This book traces the long-term genesis of the sixth-century Roman legal penalty of forced monastic penance. The late antique evidence on this penal institution runs counter to a scholarly consensus that Roman legal principle did not acknowledge the use of corrective punitive confinement. Dr Hillner argues that forced monastic penance was a product of a late Roman penal landscape that was more complex than previous models of Roman punishment have allowed. She focuses on invigoration of classical normative discourses around punishment as education through Christian concepts of penance, on social uses of corrective confinement that can be found in a vast range of public and private scenarios and spaces, as well as on a literary Christian tradition that gave the experience of punitive imprisonment a new meaning. The book makes an important contribution to recent debates about the interplay between penal strategies and penal practices in the late Roman world.

    • Pushes the boundaries of what is commonly understood as 'legal history' by focusing more on legal anthropology and the social and cultural ramifications of late Roman law
    • Invites reflection on the comparison of ancient and modern forms of punishment and corresponding social theory
    • Analyses a wide range of primary source material with all key terms given in their original language and in translation
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    • Honourable Mention, 2016 PROSE Award for Archaeology and Ancient History

    Reviews & endorsements

    '… Julia Hillner's inviting style allows the reader to come to her own conclusions with guided direction. Even if one does not always agree with some of the arguments put forth, all the evidence is provided for you, which is an invaluable feature of this book. Finally, due to the vast amount of topics discussed by the author, readers will inevitably be inspired to pick up new threads for further discovery. This book is a wonderful contribution to the field and comes highly recommended.' Jennifer Barry, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2022
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781009296410
    • length: 442 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 151 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.64kg
    • contains: 3 maps 4 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Punishment, Reform and Penance:
    1. Philosophical and domestic foundations
    2. Punishment and reform in early imperial legal thought
    3. Christian principles of punishment
    4. Punishment, reform and penance in late Roman law
    Part II. Prison and Punishment:
    5. The public prison in late antiquity
    6. Private power and punitive confinement
    7. Exile and confinement
    8. Exile, prison and the Christian imagination
    Part III. Prison and Penance:
    9. Monastic confinement and ecclesiastical justice
    10. Monastic confinement and imperial justice
    Appendix I. Places of forced residence
    Appendix II. Places of exiles' confinement
    Appendix III. Places of monastic confinement.

  • Author

    Julia Hillner, University of Sheffield
    Julia Hillner is Senior Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Sheffield. She is co-editor, with Kate Cooper, of Religion, Dynasty, and Patronage in Early Christian Rome, 300–900 (2007).


    • Honourable Mention, 2016 PROSE Award for Archaeology and Ancient History

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