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Being Christian in Late AntiquityA Festschrift for Gillian Clark$
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Carol Harrison, Caroline Humfress, and Isabella Sandwell

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199656035

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199656035.001.0001

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Fashions for Varro in Late Antiquity and Christian Ways with Books

Fashions for Varro in Late Antiquity and Christian Ways with Books

(p.253) 14 Fashions for Varro in Late Antiquity and Christian Ways with Books
Being Christian in Late Antiquity

Mark Vessey

Oxford University Press

This essay explores aspects of the ‘bookishness’ of late ancient Christians through an analysis of receptions of Varro leading up to Augustine’s City of God. Augustine was not the only Latin Christian writer of late antiquity to latch on to the personality and ‘books’ of Varro as a medium through which to reconfigure his contemporaries’ sense of relationship to the Roman past. Jerome had seen the opportunity too and taken it in his own fashion and the poems of Ausonius provide further hints of the serviceability of Varro’s oeuvre in late antiquity—both what had been transmitted and what had not. A study of the kinds of recourse made to Varro by these writers can help us to understand the broader ways in which they engineered the canons and traditions in relation to which they and their readers recognized themselves as Romans, and as Christians in a Roman world.

Keywords:   Varro, Jerome, Augustine, Ausonius, Christian literature, bookishness, codex

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