History of the Later Roman Empire: From the Death of...

History of the Later Roman Empire: From the Death of Theodosius I to the Death of Justinian (Volume 2)

J. B. Bury
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This book is volume 2 of a reprint edition of Bury's "History of the Later Roman Empire" which was originally published in the early 1920s. It is well to keep this in mind when reading this work, as all the footnotes refer to works of scholarship from this period or before (obviously!) and much archaeological and philological work has been done since then. The reader should also keep in mind that Bury was writing for an audience that could read classical Latin and Greek, and therefore he includes passages in both languages that are not translated. This second volume focuses exclusively on the reigns of Justin I and his famous nephew, Justinian the Great. As with the first volume, Bury's scholarship is very impressive and wide-ranging and the book is extraordinarily useful as a general reference on the reign of Justinian. In format, it is somewhat marred by disjunction and lack of flow among the chapters. Bury begins with a history of the reign of Justin I, but then interrupts his narrative with extensive character sketches of Justinian, Theodora, John the Cappadocian, and others as well as descriptions of the church of St. Sophia, the Nika Rebellion, etc. For those lacking a basic framework of Justinian's reign, this can make for confusing reading. Bury then picks up the narrative again, successfully blending the sources at his disposal to give a coherent account of the Persian, Gothic, and Vandalic wars of the Justinianic reign. Toward the end, he gives excellent summaries of the financial and ecclesiastical situations within the empire. His overview of the great Justinianic legal reform is good, and would have been better if Bury had not wasted two whole pages decrying Roman divorce laws--this being a peculiar preoccupation for some British writers. The work ends with a very useful discussion of the major historians of the 6th century, Procopius, John Malalas, Agathias, etc. Bury's romantic attachment to Greco-Roman paganism is evident throughout volume 2, though it is better concealed than in the previous volume. The same is true of his dislike for Roman Catholicism, and particularly the papacy. He maintains, however, an annoying tendency to judge the actions of historical figures in terms of 20th century humanism. Overall, as long as readers are able to spot Bury's occasional biases with a clear eye, they will be well-rewarded by the time they finish this volume.
Dover Publications
ISBN 10:
ISBN 13:
PDF, 29.58 MB
CID , CID Blake2b
english, 1958
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