n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - Roman assimilations of the other : Humanitas at Rome
|Article Title||Roman assimilations of the other : Humanitas at Rome|
|© Publisher:||Classical Association of South Africa (CASA)|
|Journal||Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa|
|Author||Susanna Morton Braund|
|Publication Date||Jan 1997|
|Pages||15 - 32|
I argue that modern lexicographical analyses and wider discussions of the term humanitas do not accurately reflect its significance in the Roman construction of themselves and others. My study of the word suggests that the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae and Oxford Latin Dictionary entries miss the most important points : that the concept is used either inclusively or exclusively and that the exclusive usage predominates. This renders the Roman idea of humanitas - a tool to distinguish 'us' from 'them' significantly different from the inclusive tendency of the modern term 'humanity'.
Further, humanitas as 'culture' links with concepts of latinitas and urbanitas and hence with ideas of Roman-ness, which I call Romanitas. An examination of the pressures to conformity upon the Roman elite and others who wanted to join that élite suggests that humanitas and Romanitas converge. This, finally, raises questions for us as classicists : in our study of 'Humanity' and 'the humanities' are we party to a blinkered elitism or are we prepared to embrace issues such as slavery, gender and multiculturalism?
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