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The Age of Justinian: The Circumstances of Imperial Power (Roman Imperial Biographies) [Paperback]

J. A. S. Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 1, 2000 0415237262 978-0415237260
The Age of Justinian examines the reign of the great emperor Justinian (527-565) and his wife Theodora, who advanced from the theatre to the throne. The origins of the irrevocable split between East and West, between the Byzantine and the Persian Empire are chronicled, which continue up to the present day. The book looks at the social structure of sixth century Byzantium, and the neighbours that surrounded the empire. It also deals with Justinian's wars, which restored Italy, Africa and a part of Spain to the empire.

Editorial Reviews


'A lucid, thorough and reliable introduction to the age of Justinian for students of the Byzantine World.' - Journal of Roman Studies

'A most useful introduction for students of the eastern Roman empire in the sixth century ... gathers together much recent research.' - Classical Review

About the Author

J.A.S. Evans is Professor of Classics at the University of British Columbia and began his career as a papyrologist. His publications include Procopius (1972) and Herodotus, Explorer of the Past (1991).

Product Details

  • Series: Roman Imperial Biographies
  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415237262
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415237260
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,025,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I was a bit surprised to discover that this book, first published in 1996, has not been reviewed on either or on up to now. The author claimed, at the time, that there was still room for the "definitive history" of the reign of Justinian. One cannot help wondering as to whether there ever is such a thing as a definitive history or any character, event or period in history. If this was meant to mean that the author's purpose was not to come up with the most comprehensive and detailed book as possible on Justinian, then his claim is both correct and refreshingly modest. This book is not a biography of the great Emperor either. Rather, it is a reassessment of his reign and, accordingly, an excellent overview covering the period AD 491 to AD 574, from the beginning of the reign of Anastasius to the death of Justin II, Justinian's nephew. It is also perhaps the most accessible book and therefore the easiest to get to grip with this Emperor's long reign. This is only the first of its many qualities.

The second quality that I found n this book was the trouble and care taken in assessing both the context in which the reign began and its aftermath. At some 270 pages of text, the book is not too long to discourage a general reader. Almost 100 pages are dedicated to setting the scene, that is describing what Evans terms "The Imperial Environment" or, perhaps even more accurately, "the empire which Anastasius left behind". The care with which the "starting point" is described is worthy of praise, especially since the author manages to present an excellent overview while not overburdening the general reader with too much detail. The last section of the book ("The Final Years") describes Justinian's last decade, the reign of his immediate successor and assesses his reign.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
J.A.S. Evans, in his introduction rather modestly writes that this is not the diffinitive history of Justinian or his age. While I am not an anitquarian, this is by a wide margin the best single book on the topic I've read. The book addresses all aspects of 6th century Byzantium: its origins as first a Greek outpost and later second capital to the Roman empire; the economy, tax system and economic classes of the early Byzantine empire; the political climate of Justin out of which Justinian rose to power; the socio-economic rivalries within the city and their influence on Justinian's policies; the relationship between Theodora and Justinian (in itself a fascinating story); the various religious controversies of the age and the nature of Byzantine military and the way in which Justinian wielded it to maintain power and reclaim lost territory.

With its encyclopedic breadth, Evans also brings suprising detail and a critical eye towards the veracity of primary sources (like Procopius) and incisive analysis of the conclusions by other historians (on the Nika rebellion, for example.) There is much to like here. What sets this history apart from many others on the ancient world is the clarity of writing; while the subject matter can be dense - as in the case of the Byzantine economy - it is not dry, as Evans does what every exceptional historian is able to do: provide anecdotes and details to make the topic alive.

Even with its focus attention to detail, the book is accessable enough for anyone interested in Justinian or the time period. While the detail may be a bit daunting (even overwhelming), it is my first recommendation on the topic. Highly recommended.
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