Educators in the Late Ancient City of Rome (300 - 700 CE)

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In this contribution, I attempt to bring a thorough compilation of both the literary and the epigraphic sources on educators in Late Antiquity. For the latter sources, the focus will be on the rich inscriptional evidence from the City of Rome. Professional, usually servile, educators were common in elite and (upper)-middle class households of the Principate. This changed in Late Antiquity when households instead relied mainly on family members as educators. However, this fundamental change in hierarchical values of the honourable Roman society is, never attested explicitly in the ancient records. There are some indications in the works of literary writers, but the inscriptions cannot be used to prove this change statistically. Still, the change must have been profound: educational tasks, which were in the mind-set of a Roman family members so much linked with servile labour, became more entrusted to other family members. It is only by looking at the wider context that we can catch a glimpse of how fundamentally things might have changed for educators and the families which made use of their services. Ideas of social hierarchy still existed in Late Antiquity, and so there still were slave educators. However, by the late sixth century, all this was embedded in a society which would have been hardly recognisable by those who lived there two centuries before.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-207
JournalRevue belge de philologie et d'histoire
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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