Coming After. Late antique ecopoetics

Start - End 
2022 - 2026 (ongoing)
Department of Literary Studies
Research Focus 
Research Period 
Research Language 



Over the course of the 4th to the 6th centuries, the ancient world was coming to its end in the midst of massive change: the establishment of Christianity, alterations in political structures, and, as K. Harper has argued in The Fate of Rome, climate change. Now known as “late” antiquity, this period by definition comes after something. The fifth-century Christian historian Orosius, writing after the sack of Rome, describes his own era as an eternal present waiting for the end of the world; history has ended. This scenario surprisingly resonates with our own time. D. Chakrabarty, a modern Orosius, sees the Anthropocene, the current age named after the dominant role of humanity, as marked by the end of human history as we know it precisely because the past offers no solution to the current environmental disaster. Surprisingly enough, late antique literature has not yet been studied from an ecocritical perspective. It is time to fill that gap. This project analyzes a representative selection of late Latin texts through the lens of three basic themes: landscapes, things, and sound. The project seeks to make new contributions to our understanding both of this pivotal period of literary history and of ecocriticism itself, asking whether there might be something “late antique” about it. A few decades ago German classicist R. Herzog wrote a brilliant essay entitled “We Live in Late Antiquity.” Never has this title been more relevant than now: we come after. Are we too late?



Phd Student(s)