Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-99c86f546-5rzhg Total loading time: 0.219 Render date: 2021-12-02T01:43:43.769Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Chapter 1 - The Late Roman Household in Italy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2011

Kristina Sessa
Affiliation:
Ohio State University
Get access

Summary

The domestic sphere was central to ancient conceptions of power and authority. Classical thinkers stressed the inextricable connections between a man's ability to conduct his household affairs and his capacities as a public leader. In Tacitus’ words, keeping a household ordered and its members well behaved was “a task often found as difficult as the governing of a province.” Householders were expected to master four principal domains of estate management: property administration, the social ordering of dependents, their family members’ ethical instruction and oversight, and the ritual cultivation of the gods. Those who succeeded were lauded by their peers and revered by their subordinates; those who failed were ridiculed in letters between friends, critiqued in moral treatises, and accused of nefarious crimes in public courts. The aristocratic household was simply too central an institution in Roman society to leave unexamined.

As a system of ideas and practices that defined domestic and civic expertise, household management was a pervasive and enduring discourse. Management of one's household remained part of an imperial language of power and governed thinking about elite authority well into the sixth century. According to Ammianus Marcellinus, Julian (361–363) exercised good oikonomia at a politically sensitive moment during the initial days of his reign. Requiring a “legitimacy boost” following Constantius’ death, Julian showcased his moral rectitude by reordering the imperial palace at Constantinople. He rid the court of excessive luxuries and ejected corrupt staff, from the eunuch praepositus sacri cubiculi down to the barbers and cooks. Elsewhere, Ammianus presented stinging critiques of the Roman senatorial aristocracy that foregrounded their failures in the realm of estate management. He caricatured their dinner parties as immoderate, their litters as too laden with gold, their reading choices as banal, their treatment of clients as fickle, their clients as greedy and obsequious, and their control over household slaves as extreme. He also belittled their oversight of land and claimed that Rome's noblemen greatly exaggerated their wealth.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Formation of Papal Authority in Late Antique Italy
Roman Bishops and the Domestic Sphere
, pp. 35 - 62
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2011

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×