I like Classics (as this page shows). I like the Middle Ages (as this other page shows). It is sort of inevitable, then, that I would have an interest in the final period, the final centuries, of Classical Antiquity. As the current page shows.
When I was working on my M.A., I thought long and hard about what I wanted to focus on for my career. Latin is a chief cause of my having studied Classics at university, as is Roman history. I was drawn to some degree to Vergil, or to the Augustan age. But Vergil, sadly, is overdone. I decided I wanted to save him for having fun.
The other period that interested me was this liminal land of transition, from the Classical to the Medieval, from the pagan to the Christian, from the Empire to the kingdoms. I studied it at undergrad in two classes, ‘Pagans and Christians in the Later Roman Empire’ and ‘From Rome to Byzantium’. It turns out that there is a lot more room to play in this sub-field of Classics than in Vergilian studies or the rest of the Age of Augustus. Therefore, when I did my M.A. in Classics, I chose a fifth-century Latin monastic text — the Conferences of John Cassian — as my focus. And when I did my second Master’s in church history, I chose two Eastern monastic hagiographers of the age of Justinian to broaden my horizons, John of Ephesus and Cyril of Scythopolis.
I returned to the fifth-century Latin West for my Ph.D., seeking out something that needed textual criticism but the study of which would furnish much historical insight. R. W. Burgess noted to me that the letters of Pope Leo the Great need editing; this is what I’ve been working on ever since, although I’m currently on a stopover with some of Leo’s predecessors.
The upshot of all this is that I will inevitably blog about Late Antiquity here. But it’s not as well known as Classical Classics, so I’ve been writing (off and on for almost three years, now!) a series of posts entitled, ‘Discover Late Antiquity.’ This tour is to help readers orient themselves if they find themselves in the midst of something Late Antique that seems impenetrable.
And so our tour of Late Antiquity has so far helped us discover:
- Rome First
- The Third Century
- The Fourth Century: Religion and Literature
- The Fourth Century: Politics
- The Fifth Century: Religion and Literature
- The Fifth Century: Politics to 423
- The Fifth Century: Western Politics, 423 to 500ish
- The Fifth Century: Eastern Politics
- Sixth-century Manuscripts
- Sixth-century Religion
- The Late Antique City of Rome — hunting for it; the Mausoleo di Santa Costanza; the Baths of Diocletian; basilicas; the small stuff
- and Late Antique art (in the form of a book review!)
This tour will move us further into the world of the sixth century next!