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If poor individuals have always been with us, societies have not always seen the poor as a distinct social group. But within the Roman world, from at least the Late Republic onwards, the poor were an important force in social and political life and how to treat the poor was a topic of philosophical as well as political discussion. This book explains what poverty meant in antiquity, and why the poor came to be an important group in the Roman world, and it explores the issues which poverty and the poor raised for Roman society and for Roman writers. In essays which range widely in space and time across the whole Roman Empire, the contributors address both the reality and the representation of poverty, and examine the impact which Christianity had upon attitudes towards and treatment of the poor.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Roman poverty in context
The poor in the city of Rome
Stratification, deprivation and quality of life
'You do him no service': an exploration of pagan almsgiving
Writing poverty in Rome
Population and poverty in Roman Egypt
A pragmatic approach to poverty and riches: Ambrosiaster's Quaestio CXXIV
Portraying the poor: descriptions of poverty in Christian texts from the Late Roman Empire
Throwing parties for the poor: poverty and splendour in the late antique Church
Rhetoric and reality in Salvian of Marseille's portrayal of the poor
Poverty and Roman law
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