Prisons in the Late Antique world were intended, by those in power, to function as a sort of half-way house for the accused awaiting trial or the condemned, awaiting death. Legal understanding of prison was not, however, what resulted for all classes and social groups. Though it was unintentional, prisons became yet another form of punishment to the masses. And while philosophers like Libanius agonized over the miserable conditions in the prison for the poor, the Christians saw the prison as a time of seclusion, a time to reflect and grow spiritually. Christianity applied a new religious twist to the prison system; and from this ideological application, prisons were transmuted into theoretical havens that assisted the transition into the next world. Although prisons changed little during Late Antiquity, the perception and the understanding of prisons varied by social groups; from the law-makers to the common man, but it was the Christians who applied a higher spiritual meaning to what was an inconvenience to some and an unintentional form of suffering to others.



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