By Christopher Haas
Moment in basic terms to Rome within the historical global, Alexandria used to be domestic to a lot of past due antiquity's so much excellent writers, philosophers, and theologians -- between them Philo, Origen, Arius, Athanasius, Hypatia, Cyril, and John Philoponus. Now, in Alexandria in past due Antiquity, Christopher Haas bargains the 1st booklet to put those figures in the actual and social context of Alexandria's bustling city milieu. as a result of its transparent demarcation of communal obstacles, Alexandria offers the trendy historian with an incredible chance to probe the multicultural make-up of an old city unit. Haas explores the extensive avenues and again alleys of Alexandria's neighborhoods, its suburbs and waterfront, and facets of fabric tradition that underlay Alexandrian social and highbrow existence. Organizing his dialogue round the city's spiritual and ethnic blocs -- Jews, pagans, and Christians -- he information the fiercely aggressive nature of Alexandrian social dynamics. not like fresh scholarship, which cites Alexandria as a version for peaceable coexistence inside of a culturally assorted neighborhood, Haas unearths that the varied teams' struggles for social dominance and cultural hegemony frequently ended in violence and bloodshed -- a risky state of affairs usually exacerbated through imperial intervention on one facet or the other.Eventually, Haas concludes, Alexandrian society completed a undeniable balance and reintegration -- a procedure that ended in the transformation of Alexandrian civic id through the the most important centuries among antiquity and the center a while.
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Extra resources for Alexandria in Late Antiquity: Topography and Social Conflict (Ancient Society and History)
On the seaward side of the Caesarion two graceful obelisks were erected, plundered by Augustus from Pharaonic temples at Heliopolis (figure 4). These two monuments would have captured the attention of travelers who had just passed by the Pharos and entered the Great Harbor, immediately drawing their vision toward the temple of the Divine Augustus. 16 Philo strikingly captures the central place these buildings occupied in the City's design: For there 15 elsewhere no precmct hke that which 15 called the Sebasteum, a temple to Caesar on shipboard, situated on an emmence facing the harbors famed for their excellent moorage, huge and conspicuous, fitted on a scale not found elsewhere with dedicated offerings, around It a girdle of pictures and statues in silver and gold, forming a precinct of vast breadth, embellished with portlcoes, hbraries, chambers, groves, gateways and WIde open courts and everything whIch laVIsh expendIture could produce to beautlfy It-the whole a hope of safety to the voyager eIther gomg mto or out of the harbor.
Who orchestrated and presided over the publtc rituals that embodied the established social and political order? And who could lay claim to representing the city to outsiders, espeCially to the emperor? It is in this broader context that the Alexandrian violence of the fourth and early fifth centuries becomes comprehensible. Prior to the fourth century, the pagan community was undisputed in its cultural mastery of the city. For the pagans, Alexandrian identity was so intertwined with paganism, that the two were inseparable.
2o For these reasons, I eschew a strictly chronological approach to Alexandrian history as well as a rigidly thematic approach. Both of these methodologies have their own particular virtues, as can readily be seen in two very different books on Antioch: Glanville Downey's History oj Antioch in Syria (1961) and] . H. W G. Liebeschuetz's Antioch: Crty and Imperial Administration in the Later Roman Empire (1972). Despite the laudable qualities of these two traditional approaches to urban history, they are unable to capture an essential element in the history of Alexandria: the constant interplay among the built environment, the socioeconomic and political structures of the city, and the ongoing competition for cultural hegemony.