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BMCR reviews Marc Mastrangelo’s The Roman Self in Late Antiquity: Prudentius and the Poetics of the Soul. According to the review, Mastrangelo argues that “Prudentius has never been given his due” and that lack of recognition for Christian poets in general goes back to Eusebius, whose Church History excludes poets. (Unappreciated. Alas.)

Also at BMCR, we get acquainted with Becoming Byzantine: Children and Childhood in Byzantium, edited by Arietta Papaconstantinou and Alice-Mary Talbot. There have been several fascinating titles on childhood in antiquity; and readers of this blog seem to harbor a special interest in the subject. I’ve posted on it here and here.

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Roma Bella

I know that some of you have been waiting to hear a report on the pilgrimage to Rome. At first I was waiting till other pilgrims posted photos, but now I discover that Facebook has changed the dynamic a bit. I’m not on Facebook, so I’ll share this shot with you. How was my time in Rome? How could it be anything but wonderful when I spent my days with these two bright and lovely young women (my daughters)?

It was a much richer pilgrimage with art historian Liz Lev as our guide. It was my seventh trip to the Eternal City, but with Liz’s guidance I felt as if I saw the ancient city for the first time.

Happy Feast of Saints Peter and Paul to everyone. Remember: no one in Rome works today.

And apparently that’s a favored straight line for Italian comedians.

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Going Underground

These are boom times for Christian archeology. While I was writhing with kidney stones last week, I could still enjoy the news of the discovery of the earliest images of the apostles. I thought Catholic News Service’s account was fascinating (here with a postscript here). You’ll find other details and photos, though, in the Daily Mail, CNN, and the BBC.

In related news: CNS posted another neat piece on archeology in Rome. And Bulgarian archeologists think they’re closing in on one of Constantine’s palaces.

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Grave Matter

You’ve probably already seen coverage of the discovery of a Roman Era mass grave for unwanted newborns. Roger Pearse has posted a stunning reflection on the “casual evil” of Roman life. You must read it.

It’s not the first such discovery. You’ll find the story of Ashkelon’s sewer clogged with newborns here.

I hope you’ve read Rodney Stark’s The Rise of Christianity, which treats this subject in chilling detail.

The archeologists seem sure that the recent find must have been associated with a brothel. But I’ve seen no evidence to lead to that conclusion. Why pass off on the prostitutes what was acceptable in polite company?

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Murphy’s Law-dable and Audible

My friend Ian Murphy teaches theology at Duquesne University and religious studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Now comes the news that he’s taking his talents to a bigger classroom. “An Evening with Ian” will run on radio Saturday evenings 7-8 p.m. through the summer. The debut is tomorrow, Saturday, June 5. The show broadcasts on WMUG 105.1 FM out of Indiana, Pennsylvania, and also online.  If you click on the web link, the page will have a “Listen Online” feature in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.  If you email the show at, you may hear his response during the broadcast.
According to the promotional materials, “this time of story-telling and Scripture presents a fresh approach to the Gospel that makes theology accessible to everybody, and with plenty of laughs!”