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The Letters of Symmachus: Book 1
Michele Renee Salzman, Michael Roberts

ISBN 9781589835979
Status Available
Price: $34.95
Binding Paperback
Publication Date November 2011

This first introduction to, commentary on, and translation into English of the first book of the letters of Quintus Aurelius Symmachus shows the leading orator and statesman of the fourth-century Roman Senate deeply engaged in conversation with the leading men of the empire. The book highlights the influence of the late Roman aristocracy that flourished in the century after Constantine and demonstrates that it did not become powerless in the face of the new Christian elite. Shared goals united the late Roman elites far more than religion divided them, helping explain the relatively nonviolent and gradual conversion of the western Roman aristocracy. One hundred and seven letters—nuanced to match the recipient’s personality, status, and interest—discuss literature, religion, politics, and shared pleasures, and provide a unique window into the private lives of Rome’s leaders, pagan and Christian, in late antiquity.

Michele Renee Salzman is Professor of History at the University of California at Riverside. She is the author of two other books, On Roman Time: The Codex-Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity (University of California Press, 1990), The Making of a Christian Aristocracy: Social and Religious Change in the Western Roman Empire (Harvard University Press, 2002), and numerous articles; and is the General Editor for the Cambridge History of Ancient Mediterranean Religions.
Michael Roberts is Robert Rich Professor of Latin at Wesleyan University. He is the author of numerous books and articles on late Latin poetry, most recently The Humblest Sparrow: The Poetry of Venantius Fortunatus (University of Michigan Press, 2009). His The Jeweled Style: Poetry and Poetics in Late Antiquity (Cornell University Press, 1989) has recently been reissued in paperback. He is a member of the editorial board for the SBL Writings from the Greco-Roman World series

Click here for the volume front matter, including the table of contents.

Click here for a printable publication sheet that you can put in your files or give to your librarian or bookstore.

Hardback edition available from Brill Academic Publishers (

“This is an important book … that provides an accessible translation of Book 1 of Symmachus’ letters and gives us insights into several important aspects of late antiquity. We can only hope that Salzman’s and Roberts’s excellent work will be a catalyst for similar annotated translations of other books of Symmachus’ letters.”
— Scott McGill, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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