Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The World of Late Antiquity by Peter Brown

I finished Peter Brown's The World of Late Antiquity: AD 150-750 (1971)(203 p.). Brown writes wonderfully. The only drawback for me was the immensity of his knowledge & his topic. So much was happening! The rise of Christianity, the continuation and deterioration of Roman culture and political rule, the invasions of barbarians, the rise of Byzantium as a separate political entity and culture, and last, but not least, the rise of the Moslem rule and culture. Brown passes through these topics like a knowledgeable museum curator giving you the basic guided tour. Indeed, the book includes a number of illustrations of contemporary art works (love those mosaics!). In all, this work provides a very formidable and wide-ranging survey of this diverse and changing era. No longer will it simply be thought of as the era of the Decline and Fall, or as simply the Dark Ages (although I'm not convinced that this doesn't apply in Northern Europe from about 750-1000 CE). In any event, I'm eager to read more of Brown's work.

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