The Late Latin Letters Project investigates the larger social  and religious developments of the fourth century by studying the letters of both pagan and Christian writers. The insights generated by this project will be of particular significance to those interested in historical questions regarding the complex dynamics involved in the christianization of the Roman  Empire. In addition, this project will result in an English edition of the Latin letters of selected authors that will be a boon to scholars of late antiquity. 

Much of the correspondence from a period of prolific letter writing is difficult to access and has not received much scholarly attention. This lack of attention is exacerbated by the compartmentalization of disciplines. Historians of  Christianity focus primarily on Christians texts and letters whereas historians of antiquity tend to focus on letters and texts of pagans. Yet Symmachus, a 4th-century pagan  Roman senator and renowned orator, lived in the same social world as Ambrose, a fourth-century Christian bishop.  Both men shared a common cultural environment and aristocratic social class. Indeed, both men brought common  cultural values and training to their famous contest over the traditional presence of the (pagan) statue of Victory in the Roman senate.


Terentius Neo House at Pompeii
(ph.  Giovanni Lattanzi/Archart)

Roman glass
(ph. Ruben Dupertuis)

Roman lamp
(ph. Ruben Dupertuis)

Dr. Salzman's work will help bridge the gap in scholarship by looking at the social and religious developements of the fourth century through the letters of leaders such as Symmachus and Ambrose, Paulinus, Jerome, and Augustine, to name but a few. 


Michele Salzman is Professor of History

University of California, Riverside