Peter Brown
Ireland/USA
2011 Balzan Prize for Ancient History (The Graeco-Roman World)

For his exceptional contributions to the historical interpretation of late antiquity through highly original studies of strong impact and extraordinary influence, with works on the cult of the saints, the body and sexuality, the emergence of Christianity, and poverty and power.


Peter Brown, previously Professor of Modern History at Royal Holloway College, University of London and Professor of Classics and History at the University of California, Berkeley, has been the Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History at Princeton University since 1986. One of the greatest living historians, he has dedicated most of his scholarly activity to the creation of a new interpretation and an original vision of late antiquity, with works of outstanding critical acumen and inimitable literary style, from his first masterful monograph on St. Augustine to particularly evocative and intense studies on the cult of the saints, power and persuasion in the late antique world, authority and the sacred, the emergence of Western Christianity, sexuality and society, and poverty, wealth and power in the Late Roman Empire. His works and his historical syntheses are characterized by their original structure, the particular point of view of the research, effectiveness in the selection of data and the clear-sightedness and complexity of his insights. His profoundly innovative conception of the centuries that were crucial to the formation of the Western world, expressed according to a method that combines philological rigour with inspiration from sociology, psychology and contemporary philosophy, has marked a revolution in the evaluation of late antiquity, and the influence of his methods and results has few paragons among historiographers of antiquity in the second half of the twentieth century. He is a scholar of deep and broad erudition, great international renown and extraordinary influence in the intellectual world.
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