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Title: Taking on the mantle of authority: gifts of clothing as devices in late-antique literature
Author: Rollason, Nikki
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis aims to investigate the use of gifts of male elite clothing in Roman society and literature during late Antiquity. Drawing upon modern scholarship surrounding clothing and gift-giving, it argues that when these items appeared in late-antique literature, it was a way for writers to explore and resolve uncertainties about authority. Chapter 1 presents an overview of clothing gifts from earlier periods of Greco-Roman history, in order to demonstrate that when late-antique authors employed gifts of garments as literary devices, they were drawing upon well established traditions which they adapted to suit their own concerns. The remaining chapters focus on various aspects of Late Antiquity. Chapter 2 investigates the gifting of consular trabeae, especially that of the emperor Gratian to Ausonius, and explores how figural decoration could work to envelop the wearer in the donor's narrative, strengthening an emperor's insecure authority. Chapter 3 examines how garment gifts functioned within diplomatic exchange, emphasising the way these items became a means to maintain an impression of a strong and authoritative empire even if this was sometimes removed from reality. Chapter 4 focuses on clothing gifts within Christian contexts, particularly their role in resolving the problematic authority of holy men by covering them with the mantle of Christian orthodoxy. In examining these areas this thesis suggests that, because the manufacture of clothing entailed the weaving of different elements into a completed whole, and because the giving of gifts had such far-reaching social significance in .antiquity, the presentation of garments of authority in late-antique literature was a practice heavy with symbolism. The clothing signified what the act of gift-giving was meant to achieve - the harmonious binding of the fabric of society - and allowed authors to cover over tensions in a period when things seemed to be coming apart at the seams.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available