Date of Award

Fall 1969

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Foreign Languages and Literatures


As Roman culture developed from being a rich inheritor of Greek thought to itself becoming the benefactor of subsequent cultures, it was compelled by circumstances to make its own practical assessments and develop its own conceptual weltanschauung. Because of the practicality of Rome's outlook, it was only natural that she should come to grips with an understanding of man and conceive of him less in theoretical and philosophical than in pragmatic terms. The Romans were not content to think of man merely as a structural unit in a political-social schema. Instead they developed the belief "das der mensch an sich etwas grosses und bejahenswertes ist. To conceptually embody their formulations of the essence of man, abstract, moral, and ethical, the Romans coined the term humanitas. Humanitas was a vital concept in Roman philosophical and moral thought, and it is still worthy of study in ours because of its interesting variations and nuances of meaning as its relevance changes to fit new historical circumstances and outlook. Fritz Schulz writes: The word has a peculiar history. While it is one of Cicero's favorites, it was positively avoided by Caesar, Livy, Tacitus and other authors. Considerable scholarly research has been devoted to humanitas as an important concept in the authors of classical Latin literature. However, the import of this concept into the literature of the early Christian fathers has received little consideration. The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the place of humanitas in early Christian literature and the nuances of its meaning in the cultural and religious context of Christianity as evidenced in the works of Lactantius.