Body and Gender, Soul and Reason in Late Antiquity  book cover
1st Edition

Body and Gender, Soul and Reason in Late Antiquity

ISBN 9780367602246
Published June 30, 2020 by Routledge
346 Pages

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Book Description

What does it mean to say that a human being is body and soul, and how does each affect the other? Late antique philosophers, Christians included, asked these central questions. The papers collected here explore their answers, and use those answers to ask further questions, reading Iamblichus, Porphyry, Augustine and others in their social and intellectual context. Among the topics dealt with are the following. Humans are mortal rational beings, so how does the mortal body affect the rational soul? The body needs food: what foods are best for the soul, and is it right to eat animal foods if animals are less rational than humans? The body is gendered for reproduction: are reason and the soul also gendered? Ascetic lifestyles may free our bodies from the limitations of gender and desire, so that our souls are free to reconnect with the divine; but this need must be balanced with the claims of family and society. Philosophers asked whether life in the body is exile for the soul; Christians defended their claim that body as well as soul would live after death, and even the smallest fragment of a martyr's body is proof of resurrection.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Part I Bodies and Minds: the Limits of Reason: The Fathers and the children; Cosmic sympathies: nature as the expression of divine purpose; The Fathers and the animals: the rule of reason?; Animal passions. Part II Bodies and Gender: Christian Challenges: Women and asceticism in late antiquity: the refusal of status and gender; 'The bright frontier of friendship': Augustine and the Christian body as frontier; Adam's womb (Augustine, Confessions 13.28) and the salty sea; Bodies and blood: late antique debate on martyrdom, virginity and resurrection; The old Adam: the Fathers and the unmaking of masculinity; Adam's engendering: Augustine on gender and creation; In the foreskin of your flesh': the pure male body in late antiquity. Part III Bodies and Souls: the Philosophic Life: Victricius of Rouen: Praising the Saints; Translating relics: Victricius of Rouen and 4th-century debate; Translate into Greek: Porphyry of Tyre on the new barbarians; Philosophic Lives and the philosophic life: Porphyry and Iamblicus; Fattening the soul: Christian asceticism and Porphyry On Abstinence; The health of the spiritual athlete; Do try this at home: the domestic philosopher in late antiquity; Addenda; Index.

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Until her retirement in 2010, Professor Gillian Clark was Professor of Ancient History at the University of Bristol, UK.


'As Gillian Clark is a leading historian of late antiquity, this volume of eighteen papers is quite welcome. Scholars have been contending with the dispersal of these papers from 1993 to 2005 in journals and edited volumes. Thanks to this volume, appreciating the range of [Clark's] thought will be an easier task.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review 'These 18 chapters give an excellent portrayal of a scholar’s work on and love for the prominent philosophic figures of Late Antiquity and their works... the publication of these papers in one volume is a valuable asset in the libri of a researcher with a special interest in Late Antiquity.' Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae