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Title: Beyond schools and monasteries : literate education in Late Roman Syria (350-450 AD)
Author: Rigolio, Alberto
ISNI:       0000 0004 5369 4253
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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The subject of the present work is the provision of higher literate education in late Roman Syria (c. 350 - c. 450). The difference that Christianity made to literate education has always been in danger of being explained with the introduction and the development of a new kind of instruction provided in monasteries. A rigid dichotomy between secular schools and Christian monasteries, however, finds limited validation in our sources for literate education. While early Christian literature often presented monasteries as providers of education, documentary evidence offers a more blurred picture. On the one hand, students╩╝ papyri show the penetration of Christianity into schools, and, on the other, secular instructional texts have been found in the excavations of early monasteries in Egypt. This thesis presents a neglected corpus of Christian instructional texts that call into question an oppositional understanding of scholastic and monastic education in the Syrian region during late Antiquity. The corpus consists of the Syriac translations of six literary pieces by (or attributed to) Plutarch, Lucian, and Themistius that bring together features of rhetorical education with an interest in Christian asceticism (ch. 2). While the contents and the transmission of the Syriac translations reveal the link to Christianity and Christian ascetic practice (ch. 3), the textual form and the choice of the texts unearths the underlying connection to traditional literate education (ch. 4). These documents, which will be put in relation to instructional literature composed in Greek, Latin, and Syriac in the same period, challenge the existence of a neat line dividing scholastic and monastic education in the Syrian region during late Antiquity. A fresh analysis that is not constrained by a preconceived model of monastic instruction better accounts for the involvement of early Christian leaders in higher education and prompts a new investigation of their conduct on the social scene. Their agency now appears much closer to that of their non-Christian counterparts, sophists in primis, and raises the broader question of the extent to which they owed their considerable success to the implementation of strategies ultimately derived from the world of professional paideia.
Supervisor: McLynn, Neil ; Taylor, David Sponsor: St. John's College, University of Oxford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Classical Greek ; Hellenic (Classical Greek) literature ; Literatures of other languages ; Other languages ; Church history ; Christianity and Christian spirituality ; Religions of antiquity ; Reception of Classical antiquity ; History of the ancient world ; Intellectual History ; Late antiquity and the Middle Ages ; Classics ; Late Antiquity ; Greek Literature ; Syriac ; Syriac Translations from Greek