Reinterpreting Rebellion

Leslie Dossey

in Peasant and Empire in Christian North Africa

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780520254398
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947771 | DOI:
Reinterpreting Rebellion

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  • Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)


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By the fourth century, various aspects of Roman civic life—commodities, communal structures, and public speaking—had spread to the North African countryside. This chapter addresses the question of how they came to undermine verecundia, the modesty and respect that were the proper attributes of the peasant in his relations with his superiors. It starts by considering the Donatist “circumcellions,” who were accused of preventing creditors from collecting their debts, reversing the position between master and slave, and attacking imperial officials for distributing charity to the poor. The chapter then compares some Catholic incidents known from Augustine's letters—a bishop telling coloni that they need not obey their landlord, a band of rural clergy flogging a magistrate who had seduced a local nun, and clerics freeing coloni who had been wrongly enslaved.

Keywords: Roman civic life; peasants; verecundia; Donatist circumcellions; bishops; coloni

Chapter.  10990 words. 

Subjects: Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)

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