News and Frontier Consciousness in the Late Roman Empire
Prior to the third century A.D., two broad Roman conceptions of frontiers proliferated and competed: an imperial ideology of rule without limit coexisted with very real and pragmatic attempts to define and defend imperial frontiers. But from about A.D. 250-500, there was a basic shift in mentality, as news from and about frontiers began to portray a more defined Roman world—a world with limits—allowing a new understanding of frontiers as territorial and not just as divisions of people. This concept, previously unknown in the ancient world, brought with it a new consciousness, which soon spread to cosmology, geography, myth, sacred texts, and prophecy. The “frontier consciousness” produced a unified sense of Roman identity that transcended local identities and social boundaries throughout the later Empire.
Approaching Roman frontiers with the aid of media studies as well as anthropological and sociological methodologies, Mark W. Graham chronicles and documents this significant transition in ancient thought, which coincided with, but was not necessarily dependent on, the Christianization of the Roman world.
Mark W. Graham is Assistant Professor of History at Grove City College.
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List of Illustrations xv Abbreviations
Frontiers News and Worldview 1
Toward a Late Roman Cosmology of Space and Frontiers
The Roman Empire ca A D 395 xi
The victorious emperor defeating his enemies
West side of column base column of Arcadius
fines romanorum and Nisibis
Natural Frontiers in a Late Roman Worldview 5 1
River gods on coin
Africa Ammianus Ammianus Marcellinus Anatolia ancient Ancyra apocalyptic Apocalypticism argued audience Augustine barbarians Basil boundaries Braund campaign claims communication connection Constantine context cosmology cosmos crossing crucial Danube defense divine E. K. Fowden early Empire East eastern frontier Egeria emperor Eumenius Eunapius Euphrates Eusebius example fact fourth century fron frontier cities frontier studies frontier zones Galerius geography gods historians Hydatius images imagined Imperial Ideology inscriptions Isaac Julian Late Antiquity late Roman frontier later Empire later Roman Empire letter Libanius limes Marc Mattern military natural frontiers Nisibis North African frontier Ocean oration Orosius pagan pagan and Christian panegyric Panegyrici N&R passage peripheries Persian portents Potter Procopius proliferation prophecy prophetic records references rivers roads role Roman Empire Roman frontier consciousness Roman Imperial Roman world Roman worldview Rome Sibylline Oracle sources space specifically suggests Tabula Peutingeriana third century Tigris tion visual wall Whittaker writes Zosimus