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Social Control in Late Antiquity
The Violence of Small Worlds


Kate Cooper, Jamie Wood, Julia Hillner, Vasiliki Limberis, Jonathan Tallon, Chris L. de Wet, Lillian Larsen, Maria Chiara Giorda, Blake Leyerle, Aaron Johnson, Blossom Stefaniw, Melissa Markauskas, James Corke-Webster, David Natal, Thomas Dimambro
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  • Date Published: March 2022
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108742696

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About the Authors
  • Social Control in Late Antiquity: The Violence of Small Worlds explores the small-scale communities of late antiquity – households, monasteries, and schools – where power was a question of personal relationships. When fathers, husbands, teachers, abbots, and slave-owners asserted their own will, they saw themselves as maintaining the social order, and expected law and government to reinforce their rule. Naturally, the members of these communities had their own ideas, and teaching them to 'obey their betters' was not always a straightforward business. Drawing on a wide variety of sources from across the late Roman Mediterranean, from law codes and inscriptions to monastic rules and hagiography, the book considers the sometimes conflicting identities of women, slaves, and children, and documents how they found opportunities for agency and recognition within a system built on the unremitting assertion of the rights of the powerful.

    • Sheds light on the small-scale environments such as households, schools, and monasteries, where ancient people spent much of their daily lives
    • Documents the experience of low-status people including women, children, and slaves
    • Offers an interdisciplinary view of late Roman social life informed by modern social science
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… scholars with a robust background in late antiquity, early Christian monasticism, Church fathers, inter alia, will find much to appreciate in its pages.' Sarah Rollens, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2022
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108742696
    • length: 394 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.58kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction. The violence of small worlds: re-thinking small-scale social control in late antiquity Kate Cooper and Jamie Wood
    Part I. Women and Children First: Autonomy, Social Control, and Social Reproduction in the Late Ancient Household:
    1. Female crime and female confinement in late antiquity Julia Hillner
    2. Holy beatings: Emmelia, her son Gregory of Nyssa, and the Forty Martyrs of Sebasteia Vasiliki Limberis
    3. Power, faith, and reciprocity in a slave society: domestic relationships in the preaching of John Chrysostom Jonathan Tallon
    4. A predator and a gentleman: Augustine, autobiography, and the ethics of Christian marriage Kate Cooper
    Part II. 'Slaves, Be Subject to your Masters': Discipline, Reciprocity, and Moral Autonomy in a Slave Society:
    5. Modelling msarrqūtā: humiliation, Christian monasticism, and the ascetic life of slavery in late antique Syria and Mesopotamia Chris L. de Wet
    6. Constructing complexity: slavery in the small worlds of early monasticism Lillian Larsen
    7. Disciplining the slaves of god: monastic children in Egypt at the end of antiquity Maria Chiara Giorda
    Part III. Knowledge, Power, and Symbolic Violence: The Aesthetics of Control in Christian Pedagogy:
    8. John Chrysostom and the strategic use of fear Blake Leyerle
    9. The fear of belonging: the violent training of elite males in the late fourth century Jamie Wood
    10. Words at war: textual violence in Eusebius of Caesarea Aaron Johnson
    11. Of sojourners and soldiers: demonic violence in the letters of Antony and the life of Antony Blossom Stefaniw
    12. Coercing the catechists: Augustine's De Catechizandis rudibus Melissa Markauskas
    Part IV. Vulnerability and Power: Christian Heroines and the Small Worlds of Late Antiquity:
    13. Reading Thecla in fourth-century Pontus: violence, virginity, and female autonomy in Gregory of Nyssa's Life of Macrina James Corke-Webster
    14. Family heroines: female vulnerability in the writings of Ambrose of Milan David Natal
    15. Women on the edge: violence, 'othering', and the limits of imperial power in Euphemia and the Goth Thomas Dimambro.

  • Editors

    Kate Cooper, Royal Holloway, University of London
    Kate Cooper is a Professor of History at Royal Holloway, University of London. She writes and teaches about Roman history and early Christianity with a special interest in daily life, gender, and the household. Her publications include Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women (2013), The Fall of the Roman Household (2007), and The Virgin and the Bride: Idealized Womanhood in Late Antiquity (1996). Kate has been awarded numerous grants and prizes, including the Rome Prize of the American Academy in Rome, an RCUK Global Uncertainties Fellowship, and a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship.

    Jamie Wood, University of Lincoln
    Jamie Wood is an Associate Professor in History at the University of Lincoln. He works on late antique and early medieval history, with particular interests in the religious and social history of the Iberian Peninsula. He has published widely on the writings of Isidore of Seville, including The Politics of Identity in Visigothic Spain (2012), A Companion to Isidore of Seville (co-edited with Andrew Fear, 2019), and Isidore of Seville and his Reception in the Early Middle Ages (co-edited with Andrew Fear, 2016). Jamie's postdoctoral research was funded by a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship and he has received grants from the British Academy and the Gulbenkian Foundation, among others. He is currently writing a book about the Byzantine presence in the Iberian Peninsula in the sixth and seventh centuries.


    Kate Cooper, Jamie Wood, Julia Hillner, Vasiliki Limberis, Jonathan Tallon, Chris L. de Wet, Lillian Larsen, Maria Chiara Giorda, Blake Leyerle, Aaron Johnson, Blossom Stefaniw, Melissa Markauskas, James Corke-Webster, David Natal, Thomas Dimambro

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