Society for Late Antiquity


Sessions Sponsored as an Affiliated Group of the Society for Classical Studies

(formerly the American Philological Association)




SLA Five-Year SCS Charter Coordinators


Noel Lenski (2007-2012)

Paul Kimball (2012-2017)

Mark Masterson (2017-2022)




Representing The Peoples of Late Antiquity

Sponsored By The Society For Late Antiquity

Aaron P. Johnson, Organizer

1, David Olster, University of Kentucky

Ethnicity and Pauline Soteriology (20 mins.)

2, Rachel Stroumsa, Duke University

Between Roman and Saracen: Identities in Nessana(20 mins.)

3. Thomas Sizgorich, The University of New Mexico

Then God Sent Us a Prophet: Empire and Memory in Islamic Late Antiquity (20 mins.)

4. Peter Turner, University of Oxford

Gildas’ De Excidio:A Failure of Ethnogenesis in Sub-Roman Britain? (20 mins.)

5. Andrew Gillett, Macquarie University

Beyond Barbarian Identity (20 mins.)



New Aproaches to Rhetoric in Late Antiquity

Sponsored by the Society for Late Antiquity

Paul Kimball, Organizer

It is a well-known paradox of Greco-Roman culture that the art of rhetoric successfully retained its privileged role in the articulation of political, pedagogical, religious, philosophical, and literary power after Constantine’s adoption of Christianity. Indeed, late antiquity witnessed a remarkable surge in rhetorical production both Greek and Latin, and as a result European scholarship has increasingly come to identify this period as a “Third Sophistic.” While this formulation stresses synchronic linkages at the expense of diachronic perspectives, we think it worthwhile nonetheless to examine this phase in the cultural history of the late empire as a unity.Paul Kimball, Bilkent UniversityOpening Remarks (10 mins.)

1, Giuseppe La Bua, Università di Roma“La Sapienza”

The Restoration of the Schools of Autun: Rhetoric and Education in Third-Century Gaul (20 mins.)

2, Heather Waddell Gruber, Ohio University

Enduring Stereotypes: Declamation and the “Problem” of Marriage (20 mins.)

3. Aaron Wenzel, The Ohio State University

Libanios, Gregory of Nazianzen, and the Ideal of Athens in Late Antiquity (20 mins.)

4. Riemer Faber, University of Waterloo

The Rhetorical Construction of Space in the Ekphrases of Nonnus’ Dionysiaca (20 mins.)

5. Federica Ciccolella, Texas A&M University

“Call Me a Sophist”: Procopius of Gaza, His Letters, and His World (20 mins.)

Robert J. Penella, Fordham University, Respondent (15 mins.



Patronage in Late Antiquity

Sponsored by the Society for Late Antiquity

David Olster and Noel Lenski, Organizers

1,Robert Chenault, Willamette University

Patronage Inscriptions in the Houses of Late Roman Senators (20 mins.)

2,Peter Van Nuffelen, University of Exeter

Episcopal Succession in Constantinople (379-457 A.D.): Elites, Patronage, and Power (20 mins.)

3.Tim Watson, University of California, Irvine

The Bounds of Ambition: Q. Aurelius Symmachus and the Aristocracy of Service (20 mins.)

4.Ine Jacobs, Leuven University

Recognizing Late Antique Patrons in Material Remains (20 mins.)

5.Rod Stearn, University of Kentucky

Literary Tropes and Patronage in the Hagiographies of the Late Antique Judean Wilderness (20 mins.)


Meeting of the Society for Late Antiquity



Late Antique Poetry and Poetics

Sponsored by the Society for Late Antiquity

Suzanne Abrams Rebillard, Cornell University, Organizer

This panel’s aim is to consider the state of the question of how we now, twenty years after Michael Roberts’ seminal monograph TheJeweledS tyle, define a poetics of poetry in late antiquity. The papers in this session span centuries and bridge the divide between Latin West and Greek East with a view to sparking discussion on, for example, whether such a poetics can be defined; if it is limited to poetry or part of a broader aesthetics of the period; and how it relates to the classical tradition.

1. Kevin Kalish, Colgate University

What does Homer’s Ogygia have to do with Christ’s Martyrs? (20mins.)

2, Aaron Pelttari, Cornell University

The Quotation: An Intertextual Form Analogous to the Jeweled Style of Late Antiquity (20mins.)

3. Cillian  O’Hogan,University of Toronto

Prudentius and the Limits of Art (20mins.)

4. Catherine Conybeare, Bryn Mawr College

The Poetics o fLaughter in the Cena Cypriani (20mins.



Asceticism and Monasticism in Late Antiquity

Sponsored by the Society for Late Antiquity

Richard Westall, Pontifica Università Gregoriana, Organizer

Michele Renee Salzman, University of California, Riverside, Chair

1, Steff Coppieters, University of Ghent

Fashioning the Perfect Life: Abstaining and Obeying (20 mins.)

2, Sarah Insley, Harvard University

Writing an Ascetic Landscape: Monasticism in Late Antique Constantinople (20 mins.)

3. Elizabeth Platte, University of Michigan

Administration of Monasteries in Late Antiquity: The Case of the Monastery of Phoibammon (20 mins.)

4. Mary Frances Williams, Independent Scholar

St. Ambrose and his Ideas of Asceticism in De officiis 3.1-7 (20mins.)      



Letters in Late Antiquity

Sponsored by the Society for Late Antiquity

Noel Lenski, University of Colorado–Boulder, Organizer

We are fortunate to have more letters and letter collections from Late Antiquity than from the rest of Greco-Roman antiquity combined. These offer a wealth of information on personal relations, political alliances, and religious concerns. They also open a broad window onto the literary ambitions of their authors, reflecting as they do the power this genre exerted over the formation of literary personae and their performance on the cultural stage. This panel will explore why this form of expression suited the late antique world so well and what these letters and letter collections have to teach us.

1, Raffaella Cribiore, New York University

Letters versus Orations: A Question of Genre (15 mins.)

2, Zachary Yuzwa, Cornell University

Reading Genre in Sulpicius Severus’ Letters (15 mins.)

3. Jonathan McLaughlin, University of MichiganB

ridging the Cultural Divide? Letters between Civilian and Military Elites in the Fourth Century (15 mins.)

4. Adam Schor, University of South Carolina

Enter the Bishop: Late Roman Epistolary Networks and the Effects of Clerical Office (15 mins.)

5. Scott Bradbury, Smith College

Patronage and Networking in Libanius’ Letters



The Role of “Performance” in Late Antiquity

Sponsored by the Society for Late Antiquity

Ralph Mathisen, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Organizer

1, Yuliya Minets, Catholic University of AmericaWhy Are We Told Which Language Was Spoken? Performative Strategies

and Languages in Christian Narratives of Late Antiquity (15 mins.)

2, Zeev Weiss, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Actors and Theaters, Rabbis and Synagogues: The Use of Public Performances in Shaping Communal Behavior in Late Antique Palestine (15 mins.)

3. Mathilde Cambron-Goulet, Université de Montréal

Sharing Letters, Sharing Friendship: Public Readings in Synesius (15 mins.)

4. Martin Reznick, New York University

Performance and Petitions: A Game of Justice in Roman Egypt (15 mins.)

5. Audrey Becker, Université de Lorraine

The Performance of Diplomacy: Verbal and Non-verbal Communication at the Imperial Court of the Late Roman Empire (15 mins.)

Danuta Shanzer, Universität Wien, Chair and Respondent



Travel, Travelers and Traveling in Late Antique Literary Culture

Sponsored by the Society for Late Antiquity

Cam Grey, University of Pennsylvania, Organizer

Narratives of travel underpin a multitude of genres and texts in late antiquity. Our sources also suggest that an extraordinary variety of individuals walked or rode the roads of the Roman world in the period, notwithstanding the dangers that, we are told, attended such travel. The papers in this session engage with a range of different literary texts and material objects to explore questions about the role of travel as a structuring device for authors and their communities to employ, a metaphor for them to access, and a tool for them to use in shaping their individual and collective identities.

Cam Grey, University of PennsylvaniaIntroduction (5 mins.)

1, Colin Whiting, University of California, Riverside

Exile and Identity: The Origins of the Luciferian Community (20 mins.)

2, Alex Petkas, Princeton University

Philosophy and Travel in the Letters of Synesius (20 mins.)

3. David Natal Villazala, Austrian Academy of Sciences

Symbolic Territories: Relic Translation and Aristocratic Competition in Victricius of Rouen (20 mins.)

Edward Watts, University of California, San Diego, Respondent (20 mins.)

General discussion (20 mins.



The Emperor Julian

Sponsored by the Society for Late Antiquity

Gavin Kelly, The University of Edinburgh, Organizer

Although Julian ruled as sole emperor for under two years, his reign is among the best attested periods of ancient history, not least through his own writings; his rejection of Christianity made him the object of intense debate among contemporaries. This panel ex-plores the surprisingly peaceful transfer of power after Constantius’ death in November 361, Julian’s self-definition as a philosopher in comparison to his Christian contemporary Basil, the importance of Attic oratory for understanding Julian’s Misopogon, and how Ammianus Marcellinus created a ‘Western Julian’ for Latin readers, a generation after his hero’s death.

1, Kevin Feeney, Yale University

The Making of the Emperor: Julian and the Succession of 361 (20 mins.)

2, Stefan Hodges-Kluck, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Julian and Basil of Caesarea on Impostor Philosophers (20 mins.)

3. Joshua J. Hartman, University of Washington

Julian as Citizen: Attic Oratory and the Misopogon (20 mins.)

4. Alan Ross, University College Dublin

In Search of a Western Julian: Ammianus and the Latin Tradition (20 mins.)

Susanna Elm, University of California, Berkeley, Response (20 mins.)

General Discussion (10 mins.)



Narrating the Self: Autobiography in Late Antiquity

Sponsored by the Society for Late Antiquity

Eric Hutchinson, Hillsdale College, Organizer

1. Eric Hutchinson, Hillsdale College, Introduction

2, Ian Fielding, University of Oxford

The Conversion of Ovid in Early Christian poetry

3. Moyses Marcos, University of California, Riverside

Fighting a Civil War through Autobiography: The Emperor Julian’s Epistle to the Athenians and the Promotion and Consoli-dation of Roman Imperial Authority and Legitimacy

4. Ryan Brown-Haysom, University of Auckland

Interiority and Selfhood in Fifth-Century Autobiography

5. Joshua Benjamins, University of Notre Dame

Fragmentation and Recreation: An Ontology of Fluctus and Defluere in Augustine’s Confessions

6. David Ungvary, Dumbarton Oaks

Ennodius’s Eucharisticon and the Poetics of Ascetic Autobiography



“Where does it End?”: Limits on Imperial Authority in Late Antiquity

Sponsored by the Society for Late Antiquity

Jacqueline Long, Loyola University Chicago, Organizer

No other mortal man commanded more authority in empire. The late-Roman emperor was source of law, head of government, victor of his armies’ wars (whether or not he led in battle), exemplar and enforcer of orthodoxy even after repudiating his ancient presidency over state cults, because public order relied on him. How was such a man to “remember [he was] mortal”? If the famous triumphal counterpoint was no more than a Christian interjection to the tradition of ceremony (Beard, Roman Triumph [2007] 85-92), nevertheless it had currency amid the ideological and historical changes of the later Empire. Its question generalizes: what limits on imperial power were recognized, after Roman imperialism proved its geographical limit?

1, Jacqueline Long, Loyola University Chicago, Introduction

2, Shawn Ragan, University of California, Riverside

The Imperial Adventus: Evolving Dialogues between Emperor and City in the Third Century C.E.

3. Craig Caldwell, Appalachian State University

Vetranio and the Limits of Legitimacy in the Danubian Provinces

4. Jeremy Swist, University of Iowa

The Kings as Imperial Models in the Fourth-Century Epitomators

5. Matt Chalmers, University of Pennsylvania

Samaritans, Regional Coalition, and the Limits of Imperial Authority in Late Antique Palestine



Late Antique Textualities

Sponsored by the Society for Late Antiquity

Colin M. Whiting, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Organizer

1, Colin Whiting, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Introduction

2, Alan Ross, Columbia University

Text and Paratext: Reading the Emperor Julian via Libanius

3. Christopher Blunda, University of California, Berkeley

Gennadius and Jerome: Discontinuity in the De Viris Illustribus Tradition

4. Andrew Horne, University of Chicago

Why Is There So Much Varro in the City of God?

5. Jacob Latham, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Romanitas between “Pagans” and Christians: Christian Invective against Late Antique Roman Traditional Religions


The Society for Late Antiquity: BUSINESS MEETING Saturday, January 4, 2020



New Environmental History: Promise and Pitfalls

Sponsored by the Society for Late Antiquity

Organized by Mark Letteney, University of Southern California, and Alex Petkas, California State University, Fresno)

1. Henry Gruber (Harvard University)

Systems Change without Demographic Collapse? Trans-Mediterranean Trade and the Justinianic Pandemic

2. Krešimir Vuković (Catholic University of Croatia / Hrvatsko Katoličko Sveučilište)

The River and the City: The Tiber as a Case Study in Roman Ecohistory

3. David Pickel (Stanford University)

Artifacts as Exposures: Malarial Landscapes in Late Roman Italy

Kristina Sessa (The Ohio State University), Response