Dion Smythe

in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199252466
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History


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Lawrence Stone defines prosopography as the investigation of the common background characteristics of a group of actors in history through a collective study of their lives. Prosopography creates lists of biographical notes, covering both the political elite and "lesser mortals". While the information from each individual may be insufficient to draw meaningful conclusions, the pooled information supports historical analyses and is used to explain change in human societies in the past, whether in politics, economy, culture, or ideology. Stone has proposed two types of prosopographical study: elite prosopography and mass study. Prosopography may also be classified as old or new. "Old prosopography" refers to the offices, ranks, honors, and property held by individuals, while "new prosopography" encompasses not only offices and honorific titles, but also the relationships between individuals.

Keywords: prosopography; Lawrence Stone; political elite; human societies; elite prosopography; mass study; old prosopography; new prosopography

Article.  2693 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Middle Eastern Languages

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