The rediscovery and reconstruction of late antiquity as an independent era with its own character represent a relatively recent product of historiographical debate, but the roots of this process are to be found already in the work of scholars of the late 19th century. Above all the idea of an age of decline and fall which marked late antiquity since Edward Gibbon’s colossal ‘History’ has been gradually abandoned.

Today, late antique studies are not only flourishing but represent perhaps one of the most exciting fields within classical studies. For this volume, contemporary, internationally recognized scholars of late antiquity working in a range of academic contexts, intellectual styles, and languages (English, German, French, Italian) were invited to sketch intellectual portraits of key figures whose work decisively contributed to the emergence of what the editors of this volume call “the new late antiquity”.