From Rome to Byzantium: The Fifth Century AD

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Overview

Byzantium was dismissed by Gibbon, in the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,and his Victorian successors as a decadent, dark, oriental culture, given up to intrigue, forbidden pleasure and refined cruelty. This great empire, founded by Constantine as the seat of power in the East began to flourish in the fifth century AD, after the fall of Rome, yet its culture and history have been neglected by scholars in comparison to the privileging of interest in the Western and Roman Empire. Michael Grant's latest book aims to compensate for that neglect and to provide an insight into the nature of the Byzantine Empire in the fifth century; the prevalence of Christianity, the enormity and strangeness of the landscape of Asia Minor; and the history of invasion prior to the genesis of the empire.
Michael Grant's narrative is lucid and colourful as always, lavishly illustrated with photographs and maps. He successfully provides an examination of a comparatively unexplored area and constructs the history of an empire which rivals the former richness and diversity of a now fallen Rome.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The great popular classical historian (Greek and Roman Historians, 1995; Constantine the Great, 1994; etc.) here meditates briefly on the century that saw the death agony of the Roman Empire and the birth pangs of the "new Rome" of the East, a civilization that would persist, against great odds, for almost a thousand years. Since before the age of Constantine the Great (c. 272รพ337 a.d.), the Roman Empire had been divided for administrative convenience into eastern and western halves. Constantine unified the empire, but his achievement was short-lived: After Theodosius I died, in 395 a.d., the two halves became permanently riven into eastern and western empires. The eastern empire, based in Constantine's old capital of Constantinople and held together by vigorous rulers, an all-powerful bureaucracy, and a vital citizen-army, repelled repeated barbarian invasions and gradually coalesced into the Byzantine Empire. Meanwhile, as Grant shows, the old locus of Roman imperium in the West quickly slid into desuetude: Alaric and his Visigoths sacked Rome in 410 a.d. Ganseric and the Vandals repeated this humiliation four decades later. By 476 a.d. petty principalities. Grant deftly sketches the distinctive cultural achievements of the early Byzantines in church architecture and in the visual arts; in literature, Grant points out, the Byzantines were not as accomplished as their western counterparts. In conclusion, Grant laments the sparse attention given the important eastern empire in historical scholarship and credits the Byzantines with the preservation of Western culture during Europe's Dark Ages. So brief as to seem superficial at points, Grant's study nonetheless isimpressively erudite and characteristically well researched, and provides a fresh perspective on a century that was truly the best and worst of times. (44 b&w photos, 6 line drawings, not seen)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415147538
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 3/28/1998
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Grant
Michael Grant

Michael Grant is the cocreator and cowriter of the bestselling middle-grade science fiction series Animorphs and Everworld. He lives in California with his wife, Katherine Applegate, and their two children.

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations
Introduction
1 Rome and other cities 1
2 The divided empire 8
3 Constantinople 11
4 The fall of Rome 17
5 Finance and the armies 30
6 East and West 37
7 The eastern emperors 49
8 Empresses 60
9 Religion 67
10 Literature 77
11 Architecture 81
12 The human and divine form 105
Epilogue 118
App. 1 Constantine I the Great and after 122
App. 2 Africa, Spain, Gaul 129
App. 3 Justinian I and before 132
Notes 141
List 1: Roman emperors (western and eastern) 179
List 2: Popes (fifth century) 181
List 3: Events 181
Bibliography 1: Latin 184
Bibliography 2: Greek 188
Bibliography 3: Modern 191
Index 197
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