John Lydus and the Roman Past: Antiquarianism and Politics in the Age of Justinian Kindle Edition
|Length: 210 pages|
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I picked out this book specifically because I had read an article by Charles Pazdernik which dealt with John the Lydian and found him to be a fascinating historical figure. Michael Maas does an excellent job explaining the scope and subject matter of each of John's works, and examines the motives behind why he wrote what he did. As someone who worked within the magistracy of the Praetorian Prefecture, John believed that the Empire--which was falling into ruin--could only be restored by the reinvigoration of the ancient magistracies, particularly his own prefecture. He lauds Phocas who was Prefect for several months (and a crypto-pagan) while excoriating the notorious John of Cappadocia.
Maas speculates about John's own religious outlook and also about the religious make up of the bureacracy in Constantinople in the mid-6th century. Interestingly, in his examination of "On the Months", he delves into the subject of how much the pagan past (festivals in particular) survived into the Christian era and were stripped of their pagan significance. He points out how John's work "On the Magistracies" contains much forced and false chronology, inserted specifically to make his claims for the antiquity of the office of the Praetorian Prefecture seem reasonable.Read more ›