Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 September 2020
Chapter One studies how Rome figures in the murky processes by which individuals settled their relation to the world. In the process, it establishes something of the range of conditions under which medieval and early modern writers negotiated their own absorption into the matter of Rome. The chapter pursues at length medieval and early modern habits of attending not so much to the wonders of Rome, but rather to all that is most ordinary, obvious (in the word’s etymological reference to that which is encountered ‘in the way’), and ubiquitous in what Rome left in its wake when it relinquished its formal, administrative hold on the provinces of Britannia. These preoccupations open onto a wide span of time: from the middle of the sixth to the middle of the seventeenth century. The texts and problems that dominate the chapter range from Gildas and Bede to Sir Thomas Browne in the late seventeenth century.