Marlis Arnhold presents a working paper on ‚Death and the Dead in the City – a case study on Roman and Late Antique Athens‘

Focusing on Roman and Late Antique Athens (1st c. BCE – 7th c. CE) this project analyses the mutual transformations of urban and burial space. It combines the analysis of archaeological, epigraphic and literary evidence in a wide-ranging investigation of urban social and religious dynamics and their effects. The period in question is particularly interesting as the city underwent various processes of urbanisation (2nd c. CE) and de-urbanisation (late 3rd c. CE). In Roman times, Athens was passed through by myriads of worshippers of Demeter and Kore on their way to nearby Eleusis in quest for a better fate after death. The Sacred Way hence formed a prominent burial location. However, many indicators of transformations that affected the cemeteries throughout time and space can be found: i.e. the creation of the Hadrianic ‚new town’, the construction of the Panathenaic Stadium, the emergence of villa complexes in the Imperial period to the east of the city, multiple changes to the city walls, but also the emergence of Christianity and new public spaces within the city in Late Antiquity. It is from the 4th-5th c. CE onwards that we find Christian burials sites in the very centre of the city in context of once grande monuments. All in all, a general connection between the preservation of monuments, their relevance for the collective memory of the city and the existence of the institutions associated with them can be observed.

Richard Lim presents a working paper on ‚Public Spectacles and Christianizing Urban Cultures in Late Antiquity‘

This Kolloquium text is part of an ongoing study of the transformations in public life in Roman metropolitan cities during Late Antiquity. The culture of public spectacles long continued to play a constitutive role in the cultural self-identities of the Roman urban populace despite Christianization and ecclesiastical condemnations. I show in this paper how the plebs urbana assumed participatory roles in making themselves ‘belongers’ in urban spaces by engaging with the culture of spectacles throughout the city notwithstanding their typical characterization as passive spectators in ancient and modern accounts.  I examine, in particular, the phenomenon of urban talk and related forms of sociability that came into being around the culture of Roman public spectacles even beyond the dedicated entertainment structures of the hippodrome, theatre and amphitheatre and explore how these persistent cultural forms shaped even the lives of urban Christians, a prime case in the reciprocal formation of religion and urbanity. How ordinary Late Antique Christians came to regard themselves as at once sophisticated urban inhabitants, proud members of a Roman metropolis and, at least by their own lights, upstanding followers of Christ in the context of their interactions with this urban culture of public spectacles has important implications for the way we conceptualize the processes of Christianization, secularization, de-paganization and de/re-sacralization in Late Antiquity.

Tiziana Faitini presents a working paper on ‚Officium and professional duty. Exploring a semantic field‘

This paper is intended as a contribution to the analysis of the
semantic field of “professional duty”. It will partially explore
various layers of meaning of the polysemic concept of officium
(which can be translated as “duty”, “service” or “office”), from
Late Antiquity to the Early Modern period, in a number of Latin
and Italian sources. In doing so, it will suggest that the
reelaboration of the concept of the officium is a condition of
possibility of the very concept of “professional duty” in itself, and,
for this reason, an essential step in the process of valorizing work
and the professions ethically. An analysis of this reelaboration can
thus serve to provide important insights into the genealogy of the
multifaceted valorization of work and professions.