1st Edition

Poverty in Ancient Greece and Rome Realities and Discourses

    316 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    316 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume presents an innovative picture of the ancient Mediterranean world. Approaching poverty as a multifaceted condition, it examines how different groups were affected by the lack of access to symbolic, cultural and social – as well as economic – capital.

    Collecting a wide range of studies by an international team of experts, it presents a diverse and complex analysis of life in antiquity, from the archaic to the late antique period. The sections on Greece, Rome, and Late Antiquity offer in-depth studies of ancient life, integrating analysis of socio-economic dynamics and cultural and discursive strategies that shaped this crucial element of ancient (and modern) societies. Themes like social cohesion and control, exclusion, gender, agency, and identity are explored through the combination of archaeological, epigraphic, and literary evidence, presenting a rich panorama of Greco-Roman societies and a stimulating collection of new approaches and methodologies for their understanding. The book offers a comprehensive view of the ancient world, analysing different social groups – from wealthy elites to poor peasants and the destitute – and their interactions, in contexts as diverse as Classical Athens and Sparta, imperial Rome, and the late antique towns of Egypt and North Africa.

    Poverty in Ancient Greece and Rome: Realities and Discourses is a valuable resource for students and scholars of ancient history, classical literature, and archaeology. In addition, topics covered in the book are of interest to social scientists, scholars of religion, and historians working on poverty and social history in other periods.

    1. Introduction – Filippo Carlà-Uhink, Lucia Cecchet, and Carlos Machado

    Part I: Greece

    2. Poverty, Wealth and Social Mobility: The cases of Megara and Athens – Lucia Cecchet

    3. Processes of Impoverishment: Bau Z in the Kerameikos and Discourses about Poverty – Claire Taylor

    4. Poverty and Honour in Classical Sparta – Gabriel C. Bernardo

    5. Greedy Gods and Hungry Humans: Sacrifice and the Poor in Classical and Hellenistic Greece – Irene Berti

    6. Poverty and Truth in Ancient Greek Philosophy – Étienne Helmer

    Part II: Rome

    7. Impoverished Senatorial Women in Mid-Republican Rome: Opima gloria and felix paupertas? – Lewis Webb

    8. The Dynamics of Shame: Elite Poverty in Late Republican and Early Imperial Discourse – Christian Rollinger

    9. Cicero, the Poor, and Roman Rhetoric – Filippo Carlà-Uhink

    10. Rich and Hungry, Poor and Full: Social and Cultural Food Poverty in the Roman World – Erica Rowan

    Part III: Late Antiquity

    11. ‘Not all Poverty is to be Praised’: Defining the Poor in a Christian Roman Empire – Daniel Caner

    12. Looking for the Poor in Late Antique Rome – Carlos Machado

    13. The Poor Facing Late Antique Justice: the Cases from Papyri – Christel Freu

    14. Poverty, Charity and the Social Strategies of the "Poor" in Late Antiquity: the View from North Africa in the Age of Augustine – Julio Cesar Magalhães de Oliveira


    Filippo Carlà-Uhink is professor of Ancient History at the University of Potsdam, Germany. Among his main research areas are the social and economic history of the Roman world, and the history of the Roman Republic, with a special focus on segmentary identities and their discursive construction. He is the author of various books and articles, including The ‘Birth’ of Italy. The Institutionalization of Italy as a Region in the Roman Republic (2017).

    Lucia Cecchet is Senior Lecturer in Greek History at the University of Milan. Her research interests focus on poverty and poverty discourses in Greek antiquity and on Greek citizenship from the classical to the imperial period. She is author of Poverty in Athenian Public Discourse (2015) and co-editor (with A. Busetto) of Citizens in the Graeco-Roman World (2017) and (with Ch. Degelmann and M. Patzelt) The Ancient War’s Impact on the Home Front (2019).

    Carlos Machado is senior lecturer in Ancient History at the University of St Andrews, where he directs the Centre for Late Antique Studies. He has published extensively on the social and cultural history of Late Antiquity, and is the author of Urban Space and Aristocratic Power in Late Antique Rome (2019).

    "This volume is highly recommended for its dynamic and engaging elucidation of the political, social and moral dimensions informed ancient conceptions of poverty and wealth, and of how these conceptions evolved. It also provides a compelling reminder to the modern researcher of the need to approach ancient societies on their own terms, as far as possible shedding our own culturally determined notions." - Bryn Mawr Classical Review

    "This is a stimulating volume that shines light on the discourses of poverty in the ancient world writ large – and writ largely from above. It teaches us to embrace rather than resist the slippery nature of the category of poverty. It is recommended reading not only for literary scholars but also for macro-economic modellers, survey archaeologists, scholars of micro-history and anyone studying discourses or realities of poverty in the ancient world." - The Classical Review