Hierarchy and equality in Late Antiquity. Subverting power relations in the Later Roman Empire.

01 October 2023 → 30 September 2027
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Ancient history
Late Antiquity social hierarchies equality
Project description

Although the Later Roman Empire (ca 300-650) was highly stratified, scholars have rarely asked how this impacted on social interactions and what the impact was of ideas of equality on social hierarchies. This project fills this lacuna, by introducing a new method, sources and topics. It combines discourse-analysis of philosophical and theological reflections about hierarchy and equaliyty with an analysis, inspired by practice theory, of a set of social interactions (such as forced penance, insults,  andlynch justice).  Through this combination, it seeks to chart the meanings of the interactions and how these meanings were exploited by individual actors, for example to invert - albeit momentarily - the hierarchical power relation.. The project starts from the hypothesis that the semantics of the action, in the form of moral expectations, allowed the inferior ro challenge the superior. In this way, the  project challenges traditional top-down views of the Later Roman empire.