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Melania the YoungerFrom Rome to Jerusalem$
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Elizabeth A. Clark

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780190888220

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190888220.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 20 April 2021

To Sicily and North Africa

To Sicily and North Africa

(p.114) 7 To Sicily and North Africa
Melania the Younger

Elizabeth A. Clark

Oxford University Press

Chapter 7 narrates the adventures of Melania, Pinian, and Albina as they left the Italian peninsula, encountering danger in their sea travel, first to Sicily. In Sicily, a favored location for the estates of Roman aristocrats, Melania gathered sixty women, slave and free, to join her in ascetic practices. Whether Melania’s estate was as lush as the Villa del Casale at Piazza Armerina remains unknown. From Sicily also comes the ascetic treatise On Riches (probably by a Pelagian author), the most scathing critique of wealth from late antiquity. Roman Christian aristocrats, including Melania and her circle, expressed considerable interest in the Pelagian branch of Christianity, away from which bishop Augustine of Hippo tried to steer them. From Sicily, the trio left for agriculturally rich Roman North Africa before the end of 410. On one of their North African estates, Melania built monasteries, developed her ascetic practices, and enriched local churches. North African Christians in this era were divided between Donatist and Catholic factions; pagans and Manicheans were also present. To service the area’s agricultural production, vast numbers of slaves and seasonal laborers were needed. The trio lived in North Africa for seven years before departing for Jerusalem.

Keywords:   agriculture, ascetic practices, Donatism, estates, monasteries, pagans, Pelagianism, riches, slavery, Villa del Casale / Piazza Armerina

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