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Rome, Pollution and Propriety brings together scholars from a range of disciplines in order to examine the historical continuity of dirt, disease and hygiene in one environment, and to explore the development and transformation of these ideas alongside major chapters in the city's history, such as early Roman urban development, Roman pagan religion, the medieval Church, the Renaissance, the unification of Italy and the advent of Fascism. This volume sets out to identify the defining characteristics, functions and discourses of pollution in Rome in such realms as disease and medicine, death and burial, sexuality and virginity, prostitution, purity and absolution, personal hygiene and morality, criminality, bodies and cleansing, waste disposal, decay, ruins and urban renovation, as well as studying the means by which that pollution was policed and controlled.
Throughout the Middle Ages, the policies of the Church towards the Jews rested on a set of consistently enunciated principles. These principles referred to Christian salvation, the promotion of the Church as both a spiritual and a worldly institution and to the Jews ultimately Christian soteriological role. The achievement of order and equilibrium typified the thirteenth-century Church's formal stance toward the Jews. It did so even in the face of what came to be viewed as enormous provocations, namely, those associated, first, with the contents of the Talmud, and, second, with the wooing back to Judaism of converts to Christianity. By the thirteenth century, Christians began studying Hebrew, better to know the Bible, often instructed by rabbis. Thomas's discussion of the Jews in his Summa theologica is predicated on the idea that Jews are an indispensable block in the seamless scholastic building fabric of society and its ideals.