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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent but patchy introduction, 13 Oct 2013
E. L. Wisty "World Domination League" (Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: From Rome to Byzantium AD 363 to 565: The Transformation of Ancient Rome (The Edinburgh History of Ancient Rome) (Paperback)
This forms part of series covering Roman history to 565, which appears to be aimed at students coming to it for the first time. I have read the previous volume Imperial Rome AD 284 to 363: The New Empire, but one of the most immediately obvious deficiencies in comparison is whereas the previous covered ~80 years in 384 pages, this covers 200 years in 360. One might expect therefore for some areas to suffer in the coverage, and indeed this is so.

Divided into four main sections, the first covers the later fourth century, with a largely narrative chapter followed by two more thematic ones considering the Christianisation of the empire and the changing roles of Rome and Constantinople respectively.

The second section covers the fifth century, with chapters on the relationship between the generals and the imperial court, the interaction between Romans and barbarians, the church and state, a narrative chapter on Anastasius, and concluding with a rather brief consideration of the successor states in the West.

A thematic third section follows, with chapters on urban continuity and change, and the economy, respectively, over the course of the period covered by the book.

Inevitably the fourth section is given over entirely to Justinian, and his relationship to the Roman past (and in particular the recodification of law), his position as Christian emperor (quite a well written chapter compared to some of the histrionics one sees written about this subject), and "Justinian and the end of antiquity" where the author contrary to many puts the blame on Justinian's successors decades down the line for the beginning of the decline of the Eastern empire. This fourth section gives a good example of how some areas are neglected in that the treatment of the conquest of Vandalic Africa and subsequently of Ostrogothic Italy occupies a handful of sentences.

So in summary, it's a decent but somewhat patchy introduction for those new to this history, unlikely to offer much new for those already well immersed.
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