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Thursday, April 16, 2020 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Resources for Books, Bodies, Histories—Augustine of Hippo on the Extraordinary| EVENT SUSPENDED

Free and open to the public

EVENT SUSPENDED. Read the full IAS statement on COVID-19 regarding suspended events.
Please note that the Department of History is working with Susanna Elm to reschedule this event for Spring 2021.

The IAS is working to create additional resources related to the rest of our spring semester events that have had to be suspended due to COVID-19. We are hoping to reschedule some of these discussions for future semesters. In the meantime, please check out the resources below related to this IAS Thursday.


In Book 16 of the City of God Augustine of Hippo discusses human bodies described by what he calls "too curious histories" as monstrous; such bodies, he tells us, are also depicted in mosaics on the grand esplanade in Carthage. Augustine here refers to Pliny the Elder's Natural History, where Pliny talks about pygmies, persons with feet so big that they can be used as sun shades, or persons who have only one eye in the center of their foreheads. Augustine additionally sprinkles mentions of extraordinary bodies throughout the City of God, not as described in histories but as present phenomena. Why is Augustine so interested in these bodies and why does he discuss them in greater detail in Book 16? What might that tell us about Augustine’s concepts of histories and the role of extraordinary bodies?

Susanna Elm is the Sidney H. Ehrman Professor of History and Classics at UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on the social and intellectual history of the Later Roman Empire with a particular emphasis on imperial representation and slavery. She is author of Sons of Hellenism, Fathers of the Church: Emperor Julian, Gregory of Nazianzus, and the Vision of Rome (Berkeley, UC Press, 2012; winner of the SCS Goodwin Award of Merit), and New Romans: Dress, Manliness, Imperial Representation and the Extraordinary in the Later Roman Empire (Berkeley, UC Press, forthcoming).

Co-sponsored by the Department of History Lauritsen Lecture 2020.

 Detail from a fifteenth-century copy of Hrabanus Maurus' ninth-century "De Rerum Natura" now held in the Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana.

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