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John Lydus and the Roman Past: Antiquarianism and Politics in the Age of Justinian Kindle Edition

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Length: 210 pages

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael Maas is Professor of History and Classical Studies at Rice University. The focus of his research is late antiquity. His publications include The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian (Cambridge University Press, 2005), Exegesis and Empire in the Early Byzantine Mediterranean (by Mohr Siebeck, translated by Michael Maas, 2003) and Readings in Late Antiquity: A Sourcebook, 2nd edition (2010).

Product Details

  • File Size: 676 KB
  • Print Length: 210 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0415060214
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 4 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Routledge (August 17, 2005)
  • Publication Date: August 17, 2005
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000P0JNOY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,064,227 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a scholarly treatment of the works of John the Lydian, a mid-level bureaucrat in the court of the Roman Emperor Justinian, AD 527 through 565. John is known from three extant works: De Magistratibus (On the Magistracies), De Mensibus (On the Months), and De Ostentis (On Signs). All of these works are considered 'antiquarian' in that they all dealt with Roman traditions from the distant past.

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.
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