Women and Law in Late Antiquity

Women and Law in Late Antiquity

Women and Law in Late Antiquity

Women and Law in Late Antiquity

Synopsis

This book explores the legal and social position of women in the west from classical antiquity through the early middle ages. Arjava argues that from the viewpoint of most women, late antiquity was not a period of radical change, and that the influence of Christianity on the social position of women has often been exaggerated. It was only after the fall of the western empire that a new legal system and a new social world emerged.

Excerpt

There are many people who think that men should not write women's history. Nevertheless, I have ventured to spend eight years studying women in late antiquity. Although I have tried my best to avoid any male bias, I am the first to confess that there is very little in my work which might be called feminist insight. I hope that someone else will be able to make good this deficiency in the future.

Iiro Kajanto first suggested the topic to me and later encouraged me to continue. Päivi Setälä introduced me to women's studies in the classical world. My special gratitude is due to Paavo Castrén, who promoted the study of late antiquity in Finland and led the research programme in which the major part of this work was written. Over the years he has been an unfailing and inspiring support. Christer Bruun, Jaakko Frösén, Maarit Kaimio, Unto Paananen, Olli Salomies, and Heikki Solin read drafts of the manuscript and supplied a wealth of useful comments. Heikki Kotila shared my office, kept me good company, and discussed my topic as a theologian. The Department of Classical Philology at the University of Helsinki has been an ideal place to work. All my colleagues there contributed to a pleasant atmosphere and offered their help whenever I needed it.

It would have been very difficult to write a study like this without succour from the best experts all over the world. I owe an inestimable debt to Gillian Clark, Judith Evans Grubbs, Jane F. Gardner, and Pauline Stafford, who all read through the whole manuscript, corrected dozens of errors, opened new avenues of approach, and helped me generously in every possible way. Judith Evans Grubbs allowed me to see her study on Constantine's marriage legislation still in typescript, and I could only partially indicate in the footnotes how much I owe to her work. Roger S. Bagnall, Katrinette Bodarwé, Suzanne Dixon, Tim Parkin, and Richard P. Saller sent their valuable comments on individual chapters. Many people, among them Joëlle Beaucamp . . .

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