Late Antiquity, which lies between Classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages (ca. A.D. 250-750), heralded the gradual decline of Mediterranean classical civilization, and the initial formation of a strictly western European, Christian society. During this period, three momentous developments threatened the paternalistic Roman social system: the rise of the Christian church, the disintegration of the Roman Empire in the west, and the establishment of the barbarian kingdoms.
In this volume Ralph W. Mathisen provides a new way of looking at the social transformations taking place in the Late Roman and early medieval worlds. During this tumultuous era, many marginalized groups found opportunities for literary self expression previously enjoyed only by Rome's secular male elite. Mathisen uses this literature of Late Antiquity to bring to light the personal concerns, private interactions, and family lives of the age, including a thorough exploration of the roles of women and children. Rather than extracting single words or phrases from the Latin documents, this volume gives concentrated attention to its literary sources. Mathisen provides translations of extended passages, allowing the literature of Late Antiquity to be interpreted, understood, and appreciated in the context of its own times.
"To students of the medieval Latin West, People offers a valuable grounding in its social and cultural roots in the late-antique world, particularly in Gaul. Students of late antiquity will likewise find their insight into the field deepened and enriched...Through experiencing how late-antique men and women, in speaking about their own lives and those of others, bear witness to the far-reaching transformations of the post classical world, readers of Mathisen's volumes will find themselves participating in a form of social and cultural history that has to be constructed, as it were, from the ground up."