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Otium Christianum: The Christian Reception of Traditional Roman Otium in Late Antiquity

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abstract
From the second century BCE to the fifth century CE, the Latin term otium—usually translated as ‘leisure’—undergoes a significant development in which the earlier, unmarked meaning comes to signify time devoted to literary pursuits away from the business of the city. In the late-fourth and early-fifth centuries, Roman Christians of the aristocratic class variously accepted, appropriated, or rejected otium as an acceptable Christian practice. Prudentius exemplifies a Christian who so fully integrated the traditional aristocratic Roman way of life with his Christianity that otium was not only an acceptable practice for him, but a practice which could be applied to Christian salvific ends. Augustine of Hippo continually sought after otium, even to the extent that his very conversion to Christianity can be framed in terms of this pursuit. The monk Jerome, on the other hand, scorned the wealth and reading of secular literature bound up in his conception of otium. However, the degree to which the rapidly expanding monastic movement shared with traditional aristocratic otium the ideals of withdrawal and devotion to literature belies Jerome’s proximity to otium as a way of life. An examination of these three treatments of otium demonstrates the complexity of otium’s late-antique Christian reception.
subject
Augustine
Christianity
Jerome
leisure
otium
Prudentius
contributor
Walker, Preston Charles (author)
Foskett, Mary F (committee chair)
Boyd, Stephen B (committee member)
Pendergraft, Mary L.B. (committee member)
date
2019-05-24T08:35:49Z (accessioned)
2019 (issued)
degree
Religion (discipline)
2024-06-01 (liftdate)
embargo
2024-06-01 (terms)
identifier
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/93975 (uri)
language
en (iso)
publisher
Wake Forest University
title
Otium Christianum: The Christian Reception of Traditional Roman Otium in Late Antiquity
type
Thesis

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