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Introduction To Leo The Great And The Late Roman World That Was His Stage

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Chapter Summary

What was it about Leo that made him ?the Great'? A distinguished public career as the bishop of Rome, a respectable rhetorical education, and a literary production consisting of eloquent sermons and letters placed him among the Roman intelligentsia. This chapter explores to what extent Leo can be recognized as a kind of precursor to Gregory the Great, a contributing architect to the thought of the late Roman world whose idea of romanitas and ecclesiastical unity shaped the identity of Christians amid the advance of the barbarian kingdoms. The most sweeping geopolitical change affecting the late Roman West just prior to and during the time of Leo was the hostile invasion, the gradual migration, and the permanent settlement of barbarians onto Roman territory. A major wave of this transformation was marked by the crossing of Rhine into Gaul by the Vandals on 31 December 405, and their subsequent movement westward.

Keywords: barbarian kingdoms; Christians; Gaul; Gregory the Great; hostile invasion; late Roman world; Leo the Great; Rhine; Roman intelligentsia; romanitas



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