The Life Of Cosmopolitan Women Essay

1064 Words Mar 29th, 2016 5 Pages
The life of cosmopolitan women in late-antiquity has remained something of an enigma to scholars. Perceptions of general decadence and moral impoverishment date back to the early research of historians like Edward Gibbon, who argued that a loss of virtue-ethics plagued the secular government. Authors of the 5th and 6th centuries, like Procopius and St. Augustine, offer little to undermine that notion. One would be quick to assume that the general decline in quality of life in the late Eastern-Roman world would have a detrimental effect on the rights of women. However, contemporary research indicates that the opposite was true. Women in Constantinople during late-antiquity managed to not only retain the social gains made by the rise of Christianity, but capitalize on them further. In both ecclesiastic and secular life, women were able to carve out a fairly substantial – albeit unequal – place in civic life. Early secular opposition to new gender paradigms can be found in the work of the 6th centuries’ eminent historian, Procopius of Caesarea – a man trained in law and devoted to the structural and social conventions of the Greco-Roman past. His preoccupation with the lives of certain women implies a series of political gains antithetical to traditional practice, at least in the secular orders. Further civil shifts in the ‘Corpus Juris Civilis’, Justinian I’s reform of the Roman legal code, are telling. Greater legal privileges are granted to women throughout the Eastern…

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