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Using a variety of historical sources and methodological approaches, this book presents the first large-scale study of single men and women in the Roman world, from the Roman Republic to Late Antiquity and covering virtually all periods of the ancient Mediterranean. It asks how singleness was defined and for what reasons people might find themselves unmarried. While marriage was generally favoured by philosophers and legislators, with the arguments against largely confined to genres like satire and comedy, the advent of Christianity brought about a more complex range of thinking regarding its desirability. Demographic, archaeological and socio-economic perspectives are considered, and in particular the relationship of singleness to the Roman household and family structures. The volume concludes by introducing a number of comparative perspectives, drawn from the early Islamic world and from other parts of Europe down to and including the nineteenth century, in order to highlight possibilities for the Roman world.
The Single Life in the Roman and Later Roman World
Introduction; 1. What's in a single? Roman Antiquity and a comparative world approach Christian Laes; Part I. Demographic, Archaeological, and Socio-Economic Approaches: 2. Single men and women in pagan society - the case of Roman Egypt Sabine Huebner; 3. Looking for singles in the archaeological record of Roman Egypt Anna Boozer; 4. Between coercion and compulsion? The impact of occupations and economic interests on the relational status of slaves and freedmen Wim Broekaert; Part II. Being Single in the Roman World: 5. Singles, sex, and status in the Augustan marriage legislation Judith Evans Grubbs; 6. 'Singleness' in Cicero and Catullus Harri Kiiskinen; 7. Tracing Roman ideas on female singleness - Virgil's Aeneid Elina Pyy; 8. Single as a Lena. The depiction of procuresses in Roman Augustan literature Mina Petrova; Part III. Singles in Judaism: 9. (Why) was Jesus single? John W. Martens; 10. Contesting the Jerusalem Temple - James, Nazirite vows and celibacy Kevin Funderburk; Part IV. Late Antique Christianity - The Rise of the Ideal of Being Single: 11. Singles and singleness in the Christian epigraphic evidence from Rome (c. 300-500 CE) Thomas Goessens; 12. Different ways of life: being single in the fourth century CE Raffaela Cribiore; 13. Single life in Late Antiquity? Virgins between the earthly and the heavenly family Ville Vuolanto; 14. Being a bachelor in Late Antiquity - desire and social norms in the experience of Augustine Geoffrey Nathan; 15. Single people in early Byzantine literature Stephanos Efthymiadis; 16. 'Listen to my mistreatment' - support networks for widows and divorcees in the Coptic record Jennifer Cromwell; Part V. Comparative Voices: 17. Celibacy and sexual abstinence in early Islam Mohammed Hocine Benkheira; 18. To marry or not to marry in fifteenth and sixteenth-century cities, cases Antwerp and Bruges Julie De Groot; 19. Singleness in nineteenth-century Italy - permanent celibacy and solitariness between coercion and free choice Matteo Manfredini.