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The Practice Of Hospitium On The Roman Frontier

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Chapter Summary

Hospitium is one of those institutions that all claim to recognize. This chapter, relying on both the archaeological and literary evidence, intends to develop a case for understanding more precisely how hospitium facilitated exchange and understanding on the Roman frontier. The conventions surrounding the social institution called hospitium by the Romans provided a means by which members of different communities might find a way to interact with one another to the mutual advantage of both parties. References to traditional hospitium appear throughout Latin literature, and they continue well into the Principate. Hospitium is extended by a formal invitation, by a decree of the local senate if it is public, or by an individual who offers lodging, victuals and protection, if it is in the private sphere. The literary and especially the epigraphical evidence suggest that Romans and peregrines easily entered into hospitable relationships.

Keywords: hospitium; Roman frontier



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