'Violence' is virtually synonymous in the popular imagination with the period of the Later Roman Empire-a time when waves of barbarian invaders combined with urban mobs and religious zealots to bring an end to centuries of peace and serenity. All of these images come together in the Visigothic sack of the city of Rome in A.D. 410, a date commonly used for the fall of the entire empire. But was this period in fact as violent as it has been portrayed? A new generation of scholars in the field of Late Antiquity has called into question the standard narrative, pointing to evidence of cultural continuity and peaceful interaction between "barbarians" and Romans, Christians and pagans. To assess the state of this question, the fifth biennial 'Shifting Frontiers' conference was devoted to the theme of 'Violence in Late Antiquity'. Conferees addressed aspects of this question from standpoints as diverse as archaeology and rhetoric, anthropology and economics. A selection of the papers then delivered have been prepared for the present volume, along with others commissioned for the purpose and a concluding essay by Martin Zimmerman, reflecting on the theme of the book. The four sections on Defining Violence, 'Legitimate' Violence, Violence and Rhetoric, and Religious Violence are each introduced by a theme essay from a leading scholar in the field. While offering no definitive answer to the question of violence in Late Antiquity, the papers in this volume aim to stimulate a fresh look at this age-old problem.
Table of Contents
Contents: List of figures; List of tables; List of contributors; List of abbreviations; Acknowledgments; Introduction: Gauging violence in late antiquity, H.A. Drake. Part I Assessing Violence in Late Antiquity: Perceptions of barbarian violence, Walter Pohl; Violent behavior and the construction of barbarian identity in late antiquity, Ralph Mathisen; Violence in the barbarian successor kingdoms, Wolf Liebeschuetz; Justifiably outraged or simply outrageous? The Isaurian incident of Ammianus Marcellinus 14.2, Linda Honey; The inn as a place of violence and danger in rabbinic literature, Tziona Grossmark; A question of faith? Persecution and political centralization in the Sasanian empire of Yazdgard II (438-457 CE), Scott McDonough. Part II Legitimate Violence: Violence, victims and the legal tradition in late antiquity, Jill Harries; Violence in the process of arrest and imprisonment in late antique Egypt, Sofia Torallas Tovar; Coercion, resistance and 'the command economy' in late Roman Aperlae, Bill Leadbetter; Making late Roman taxpayers pay: imperial government strategies and practice, Hartmut Ziche; Desires of the hangman: Augustine on legitimized violence, Gillian Clark; Violence, purification and mercy in the late antique afterlife, Isabel Moreira; Exiled bishops in the Christian empire: victims of imperial violence?, Eric Fournier; Reasoned violence and shifty frontiers: shared victory in the late Roman East, Thomas Sizgorich. Part III Violence and Rhetoric: Bad boys: circumcellions and fictive violence, Brent D. Shaw; Teaching violence in the schools of rhetoric, Janet Davis; Doing violence to the image of an empress: the destruction of Eudoxias reputation, Wendy Mayer; The Thessalonian affair in the fifth-century histories, Daniel Washburn; 'Kill all the dogs!' or 'Apollonius says!': two stories against punitive violence, Jacqueline Long; Epiphanius of Cyprus and the geography of heresy, Young Kim; Cyclic violence and the poetics of negotiation in pre-Isl
Harold A. Drake is Professor in the Department of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, USA.