The Myth of the First City in the Earlier Middle Ages

Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Group
Sam Ottewill-Soulsby, Faculty of Classics
The Richard King Room, Darwin College
Tuesday, October 17, 2017 - 14:10 to 15:00

The idea of a mythical first city appears in most societies that possess urban settlements, and medieval Europe was no exception. This talk will discuss the way medieval writers approached the origins of urban living, a subject which acquired importance in a wide variety of areas of study, including history writing, philosophy and legal theory. People who engaged with the problem had to reckon with both the Biblical first city of Cain and anthropological models inherited from the Classical world. Examination of how these writers solved these issues sheds light not just on their understanding of the primordial past, but also their views of the city and human civilisation as a whole.

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