The late fourth and early fifth centuries were in many respects revolutionary times for North Africa because of the gradual transformations of local power structures. Historians have studied many of the mechanisms that may have brought about these changes, but rarely the transformative power of public speaking. It would be impossible to write a history of the end of the Roman Republic without Cicero's orations. Yet histories of the fourth and fifth centuries are frequently written with little reference to the most widely diffused form of public speaking Greco-Roman society produced: the Christian sermon. This is particularly regrettable because bishops possessed few means of acquiring influence other than by their voices. This chapter discusses how clerical communication penetrated more deeply in Africa than is often imagined. By studying the anonymous North African sermons, historians can glean something of its substance.
Keywords: North Africa; public speaking; Christian sermon; bishops; political change; clerical communication
Chapter. 12393 words.
Subjects: Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)
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