Froelich, Jakob. “Classical Perspectives at the End of Antiquity”, Boston College, 2017. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:107418.
Rome changed throughout its history and the city that existed during the fourth century CE was different from the city that Virgil and Cicero lived in and described in their writings. The Roman state and society changed during the intervening four centuries as Rome ceased to be politically significant, elite behavior became increasingly disconnected from any role in governance, and the traditional religious cults were neglected as Christianity gained prominence. Despite these changes, Roman tradition dictated an idealization of ancestral custom, which was preserved in the corpus of extant literature. I argue that among the elites of fourth century society, there were individuals such as Ammianus Marcellinus or Symmachus who interpreted and responded to their society through the filter of these fossilized images of an idealized Rome. Although they lived in largely post-classical time, their writings express a worldview that is congruent with the late Republic and early Principate.