Late Antiquity (ca. 250-650) witnessed the transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages in the Mediterranean and Near Eastern worlds. Christianity displaced polytheism over a wide area, offering new definitions of identity and community. The Roman Empire collapsed in Western Europe to be replaced by new "Germanic" kingdoms. In the East, Byzantium emerged, while the Persian Empire reached its apogee and collapsed. Arab armies carrying the banner of Islam reshaped the political map and brought the late antique era to a close.
This sourcebook illustrates the dramatic political, social and religious transformations of Late Antiquity through the words of the men and women who experienced them. Drawing from Greek, Latin, Syriac, Hebrew, Coptic, Persian, Arabic and Armenian sources, the carefully chosen passages illuminate the lives of emperors, abbesses, aristocrats, slaves, children, barbarian chieftains, and saints. The Roman Empire is kept at the centre of the discussion, with chapters devoted to its government, cities, army, law, medicine, domestic life, philosophy, Christianity, polytheism, and Jews. Further chapters deal with the peoples who surrounded the Roman state: Persians, Huns, northern "Germanic" barbarians, and the followers of Islam.
This revised and updated second edition provides an expanded view of Late Antiquity with a new chapter on domestic life, as well extra material throughout, including passages that appear for the first time in English translation. Readings in Late Antiquity is the only sourcebook that covers such a wide range of topics over the full breadth of the late antique period.