Cancelled: HelRaw: Anna Usacheva 6.11. 2023

Ecclesiastic Cursus Publicus as a Form of Letter Publishing

Dear all,

this semester’s third Helsinki Research on the Ancient World seminar (HelRaw) takes place with Anna Usacheva (University of Helsinki) 6th day of November.

The topic of Usacheva’s talk is “Ecclesiastic Cursus Publicus as a Form of Letter Publishing”.

You are warmly welcome to join our speaker on Metsätalo or Zoom.


Scholars have argued that the expansion of the civilian and military bureaucracy in the later Roman Empire under the tetrarchy and Constantinian dynasty favoured the dissemination of literary letter collections. In my presentation, I will consider the process of establishment and growth of the social class of clergy, which modelled itself on the imperial administration.

Already during the papacy of Damacius, his office employed professional stenographers and notarii, who took care of the incoming correspondence and archival work. When Constantine officially granted the church a free disposal of the imperial postal service, this not only enhanced the efficacy of ecclesiastic management but also increased the assimilation of the church bureaucracy to the imperial administration. The increase of clergy and the evolution of the church institutions induced a stronger demand for expedient and reliable methods of correspondence. In emulation of the imperial cursus publicus, the church developed its own system of postal logistics.

In my presentation, I will analyse and characterise the mechanism of the ecclesiastic postal service, compare it with cursus publicus, discern its unique distinctive features and see how it played into the formation of the church authority, censorship and power distribution. I will specifically look at the collection of letters by pope Leo I and study their specific syncretic genre characteristics as normative documents and as literary epistolography. Consequently, I will also touch upon the question of letters as a form of authorial publication.

When: 6th of November, 17:15 PM Helsinki time.

Where: Metsätalo room 5, Unioninkatu 40, 00170 Helsinki

or in zoom


Meeting ID: 678 4319 6092
Passcode: 452940


Join by SIP
• 67843196092@


Join by H.323


About the Speaker:


Dr. Anna Usacheva (Postdoctoral researcher, Academy of Finland Research Project "Authorial Publication in Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages").

"My field of expertise and research interests focus on the study of the literature, philosophy, social and institutional history of late antiquity.

In 2015, I secured the Marie Skłodowska-Curie funding (Aarhus University). My research resulted in a monograph "Knowledge, Language and Intellection from Origen to Gregory Nazianzen". In this study, I explored the theological problems discussed during the second wave of the so-called Arian crisis, from the perspective of classical and late antique epistemological, linguistic, logical and ontological teachings.

In 2018, I received a Core Fellowship from the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. My research project was entitled “Physiology of Human Intelligence in De Natura Hominis by Nemesius of Emesa”. In 2019, I founded a new academic peer-reviewed Series called Contexts of Ancient and Medieval Anthropology (Brill). I am a member of the Editorial Board of this Series.


Since 2020, I have been employed as a senior researcher and the Vice-Leader of the Project “Authorial Publication in Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages” (University of Helsinki). I combine the methodologies of historical, philological and sociological scholarship to capture and explain the cultures of publishing in Late Antiquity. Presently I am working on a monograph “Public Personae and Publishing Strategies in the Early Medieval Rome”, which is currently will be submitted for publication in 2024."