This volume presents an innovative picture of the ancient Mediterranean world. Approaching poverty as a multifaceted condition, it examines how different groups were affected by the lack of access to symbolic, cultural and social – as well as economic – capital.

Collecting a wide range of studies by an international team of experts, it presents a diverse and complex analysis of life in antiquity, from the archaic to the late antique period. The sections on Greece, Rome, and Late Antiquity offer in-depth studies of ancient life, integrating analysis of socio-economic dynamics and cultural and discursive strategies that shaped this crucial element of ancient (and modern) societies. Themes like social cohesion and control, exclusion, gender, agency, and identity are explored through the combination of archaeological, epigraphic, and literary evidence, presenting a rich panorama of Greco-Roman societies and a stimulating collection of new approaches and methodologies for their understanding. The book offers a comprehensive view of the ancient world, analysing different social groups – from wealthy elites to poor peasants and the destitute – and their interactions, in contexts as diverse as Classical Athens and Sparta, imperial Rome, and the late antique towns of Egypt and North Africa.

Poverty in Ancient Greece and Rome: Realities and Discourses is a valuable resource for students and scholars of ancient history, classical literature, and archaeology. In addition, topics covered in the book are of interest to social scientists, scholars of religion, and historians working on poverty and social history in other periods.

part I|100 pages


chapter 2|22 pages

Poverty, Wealth, and Social Mobility

The Cases of Megara and Athens

chapter 3|20 pages

Processes of Impoverishment

Bau Z in the Kerameikos and Discourses About Poverty 1

chapter 5|21 pages

Greedy Gods and Hungry Humans

Sacrifice and the Poor in Classical and Hellenistic Greece

part II|94 pages


chapter 7|27 pages

Impoverished Senatorial Women in Mid-Republican Rome

Opima Gloria and Felix Paupertas?

chapter 8|22 pages

The Dynamics of Shame

Elite Poverty in Late Republican and Early Imperial Discourse

chapter 10|25 pages

Rich and Hungry, Poor and Full

Social and Cultural Food Poverty in the Roman World

part III|86 pages

Late Antiquity

chapter 11|21 pages

Not All Poverty Is to Be Praised

Defining the Poor in a Christian Roman Empire

chapter 13|19 pages

The “Poor” Facing Late Antique Justice

The Cases from the Papyri 1

chapter 14|18 pages

Poverty, Charity, and the Social Strategies of “the Poor” in Late Antiquity

The View from North Africa in the Age of Augustine