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Starred Review. In this deft synthesis of scholarship, classicist Wells shows how the Byzantines exerted a profound influence on all neighboring civilizations. Concrete examples still exist that testify to that influence—such as Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy—but this book focuses on the more ineffable products of culture that traveled from the Bosporus, influencing Western, Islamic and Slavic cultures. The story of Renaissance Europe's embrace of pagan learning is familiar, but Wells tells of a fascinating intellectual circuit that begins with the transmission of Greek learning to the newly powerful Arabs and leads to Averroës's commentary on Aristotle, Aquinas's use of this commentary and finally to the Byzantine Cydones's translation of Aquinas in the 14th century. By then, the dominant Orthodox movement of Hesychasm deemed pagan learning incompatible with Christian faith, forcing many humanists to the Catholic West. Wells devotes much space to the Hesychasts and blames them for this betrayal of Greek heritage and for weakening the empire before its final collapse in 1453, but duly credits them with shaping the Russian Orthodox Church and positioning Moscow as the Third Rome. This volume, which contains a useful glossary of historical figures, detailed maps and a time line, is a superb survey of Byzantium's many cultural bequests. (July 25)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Wells begins his detailed book with a list of the major characters--51 of them, including humanists, monks, emperors, patriarchs of Constantinople, philosophers, historians, classicists, and prophets. The Byzantine Empire began in the early fourth century with the foundation of a new Christian capital, Constantinople, on the site of the old Greek city of Byzantium. It ended when the Ottoman Turks captured that city in 1453, making it the capital of their Islamic empire, which in territorial aspirations and imperial style essentially replaced the old Byzantine Greek Empire. Wells points out that more recent historical research has revealed a story of lasting achievement and vigorous expansion. He divides the book into three parts: "Byzantium and the West," discussing the Byzantine legacy to Western civilization; "Byzantium and the Islamic World," describing the rise of the Arab Islamic Empire on former Byzantine lands in the Middle East; and "Byzantium and the Slavic World," exploring the religious side of the Byzantine legacy. Wells brings vividly to life this history of a long-lost era and its opulent heritage. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A very readable and interesting account of a complex but fascinating period. An excellent introduction for the general reader and a welcome summary for those more familiar with the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Rhondda
I listened to this book on audio CD, or at least I tried to. I concur with the other reviewers who find the lack of writing in anything remotely resembling chronological order make... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Deacon 85
This author has done meticulous research and his writing style almost make this a 'page turner.' During my undergrad years the history of the Byzantine Empire was glossed over or... Read morePublished 6 months ago by J. Hayter
Mr. Wells is an excellent writer and this book is a pleasure to read. Much research went into this fascinating subject. We all owe Byzantium a big vote of thanks. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Jacqueline Davidson
This book is full of useful and interesting facts. Yet, it is at the same time annoyingly blinkered by the author's own modern prejudices. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Enough
Excellent account of a history not well known but highly important. The greatest achievements of the Christian work remain submerged under Islamic domination.Published 17 months ago by John Haretos
Bizantine legacy still lives among us, from East to West their heritage is in the bedrock of the modern world.Published 19 months ago by Federico Garcia
A knowledge-expanding experience, not easy but doable. This copy is for the second of two close friends that I have had the presumption to give to them as worthwhile reading.Published 19 months ago by Jacqueline Oler
A history of the cultural developments that resulted from the interaction of Byzantium with Europe and the Middle East. Vastly more useful than a traditional history.Published 23 months ago by N P