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Luxury and Public HappinessPolitical Economy in the Italian Enlightenment$
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Till Wahnbaeck

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199269839

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199269839.001.0001

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The Meaning of the Term ‘Luxury’: Shifts and Extensions

The Meaning of the Term ‘Luxury’: Shifts and Extensions

(p.13) 1 The Meaning of the Term ‘Luxury’: Shifts and Extensions
Luxury and Public Happiness


Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the variety of definitions of luxury as used by Greek, Roman, and Christian thinkers during the Middle Ages. It also tells of the reassessment of the definition of luxury in early modern times, particularly during the last quarter of the 18th century, as influenced by some writers. It explains that the process of redefinition, as well as the broader range of meaning that the term had acquired by the 18th century, is best evaluated through the explanations provided in contemporary dictionaries. It discusses that the common usage of the term luxury resulted in its new meaning: a concept more and more appertaining to the economic realm in northern Europe, and more flexible, ambiguous approach in Italy which left room for old Christians as well as new economic considerations alike.

Keywords:   meaning, luxury, Greeks, Romans, Christians, Middle Ages, contemporary dictionaries

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