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Alexandria in Late Antiquity: Topography and Social Conflict


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Publisher Comments:

Second only to Rome in the ancient world, Alexandria was home to many of late antiquity's most brilliant writers, philosophers, and theologiansamong them Philo, Origen, Arius, Athanasius, Hypatia, Cyril, and John Philoponus. Now, in Alexandria in Late Antiquity, Christopher Haas offers the first book to place these figures within the physical and social context of Alexandria's bustling urban milieu. <P>Because of its clear demarcation of communal boundaries, Alexandria provides the modern historian with an ideal opportunity to probe the multicultural makeup of an ancient urban unit. Haas explores the broad avenues and back alleys of Alexandria's neighborhoods, its suburbs and waterfront, and aspects of material culture that underlay Alexandrian social and intellectual life. Organizing his discussion around the city's religious and ethnic blocs — Jews, pagans, and Christians — he details the fiercely competitive nature of Alexandrian social dynamics. In contrast to recent scholarship, which cites Alexandria as a model for peaceful coexistence within a culturally diverse community, Haas finds that the diverse groups' struggles for social dominance and cultural hegemony often resulted in violence and bloodshed — a volatile situation frequently exacerbated by imperial intervention on one side or the other.<P>Eventually, Haas concludes, Alexandrian society achieved a certain stability and reintegration — a process that resulted in the transformation of Alexandrian civic identity during the crucial centuries between antiquity and the Middle Ages.

Book News Annotation:

Contemporaries attributed the high degree of popular violence in the Egyptian city during late antiquity to the fact that Alexandrians were frenzied madmen who possessed an inborn propensity to senseless violence. Haas (history, Villanova U.) is not at all sure that such an explanation is adequate, and examines the historical and social context. He especially notes the fierce competition for hegemony between the strong pagan, Christian, and Jewish religious communities. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Product Details

Haas, Christopher
Johns Hopkins University Press
Ancient - General
Psychology : General
Ancient Society & History
Publication Date:
9.00x6.00x1.15 in. 1.65 lbs.

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Product details 520 pages Johns Hopkins University Press - English 9780801885419 Reviews:
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