A compelling history of radical transformation in the fourth-century--when Christianity decimated the practices of traditional pagan religion in the Roman Empire. The Final Pagan Generation recounts the fascinating story of the lives and fortunes of the last Romans born before the Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. Edward J. Watts traces their experiences of living through the fourth century's dramatic religious and political changes, when heated confrontations saw the Christian establishment legislate against pagan practices as mobs attacked pagan holy sites and temples. The emperors who issued these laws, the imperial officials charged with implementing them, and the Christian perpetrators of religious violence were almost exclusively young men whose attitudes and actions contrasted markedly with those of the earlier generation, who shared neither their juniors' interest in creating sharply defined religious identities nor their propensity for violent conflict. Watts examines why the "final pagan generation"--born to the old ways and the old world in which it seemed to everyone that religious practices would continue as they had for the past two thousand years--proved both unable to anticipate the changes that imperially sponsored Christianity produced and unwilling to resist them. A compelling and provocative read, suitable for the general reader as well as students and scholars of the ancient world.
Learn why the Roman Republic collapsed -- and how it could have continued to thrive -- with this insightful history from an award-winning author. In Mortal Republic, prize-winning historian Edward J. Watts offers a new history of the fall of the Roman Republic that explains why Rome exchanged freedom for autocracy. For centuries, even as Rome grew into the Mediterranean's premier military and political power, its governing institutions, parliamentary rules, and political customs successfully fostered negotiation and compromise. By the 130s BC, however, Rome's leaders increasingly used these same tools to cynically pursue individual gain and obstruct their opponents. As the center decayed and dysfunction grew, arguments between politicians gave way to political violence in the streets. The stage was set for destructive civil wars -- and ultimately the imperial reign of Augustus. The death of Rome's Republic was not inevitable. In Mortal Republic, Watts shows it died because it was allowed to, from thousands of small wounds inflicted by Romans who assumed that it would last forever.
Noted scholars in the field explore the rich variety of late antique literature With contributions from leading scholars in the field, A Companion to Late Antique Literature presents a broad review of late antique literature. The late antique period encompasses a significant transitional era in literary history from the mid-third century to the early seventh century. The Companion covers notable Greek and Latin texts of the period and provides a varied overview of literature written in six other late antique languages. Comprehensive in scope, this important volume presents new research, methodologies, and significant debates in the field. The Companion explores the histories, forms, features, audiences, and uses of the literature of the period. This authoritative text: Provides an inclusive overview of late antique literature Offers the widest survey to date of the literary traditions and forms of the period, including those in several languages other than Greek and Latin Presents the most current research and new methodologies in the field Contains contributions from an international group of contributors Written for students and scholars of late antiquity, this comprehensive volume provides an authoritative review of the literature from the era.
As this book intriguingly explores, for those who would make Rome great again and their victims, ideas of Roman decline and renewal have had a long and violent history. The decline of Rome has been a constant source of discussion for more than 2200 years. Everyone from American journalists in the twenty-first century AD to Roman politicians at the turn of the third century BC have used it as a tool to illustrate the negative consequences of changes in their world. Because Roman history is so long, it provides a buffet of ready-made stories of decline that can help develop the context around any snapshot. And Rome did, in fact, decline and, eventually, fall. An empire that once controlled all or part of more than 40 modern European, Asian, and African countries no longer exists. Roman prophets of decline were, ultimately, proven correct-a fact that makes their modern invocations all the more powerful. If it happened then, it could happen now. The Eternal Decline and Fall of Rome tells the stories of the people who built their political and literary careers around promises of Roman renewal as well as those of the victims they blamed for causing Rome's decline. Each chapter offers the historical context necessary to understand a moment or a series of moments in which Romans, aspiring Romans, and non--Romans used ideas of Roman decline and restoration to seize power and remake the world around them. The story begins during the Roman Republic just after 200 BC. It proceeds through the empire of Augustus and his successors, traces the Roman loss of much of western Europe in the fifth century AD, and then follows Roman history as it runs through the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) until its fall in 1453. The final two chapters look at ideas of Roman decline and renewal from the fifteenth century until today. If Rome illustrates the profound danger of the rhetoric of decline, it also demonstrates the rehabilitative potential of a rhetoric that focuses on collaborative restoration, a lesson of great relevance to our world today.