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The World of Late Antiquity: AD 150-750 (Library of World Civilization) Paperback – March 17, 1989

ISBN-13: 978-0393958034 ISBN-10: 0393958035 Edition: 1ST

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1ST edition (March 17, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393958035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393958034
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Peter Brown (Ph.D. Oxford University) is the Rollins Professor of History at Princeton University. He previously taught at London University and the University of California, Berkeley. He has written on the rise of Christianity and the end of the Roman empire. His works include: Augustine of Hippo (1967); The World of Late Antiquity (1972); The Cult of the Saints (1981); Body and Society (1988), The Rise of Western Christendom (1995 and 2002); Poverty and Leadership in the Later Roman Empire (2002). He is presently working on issues of wealth and poverty in the late Roman and early medieval Christian world.

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Customer Reviews

That said, I found this to be a wonderful introduction to the subject.
Robert Moore
This book is part of a series, the Library of World Civilisation, edited by Geoffrey Barraclough of Brandeis University.
FrKurt Messick
The book is graced with ample illustrations featuring a variety of Late Antique art.
Michael Taylor

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

115 of 117 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
The world of Late Antiquity is an historical period often overlooked. The more prominent periods such as the Greek Empire, Roman Empire, Early Christendom, Rise of Islam, East/West Split, etc. take the majority of space in historical texts; often the world of Late Antiquity is an epilogue or a prologue to anothe period.
Peter Brown, renowned for his authoritative biography on Augustine of Hippo, has produced a good introductory text to the period between the beginnings of the downfall of the Roman Empire and the beginnings of medieval times in western Europe. This period does not have strict boundaries -- there were no crucial or pivotal events defining the beginning or the end of the period, which is perhaps why it is often overlooked.
The text is divided into two primary sections -- the Late Roman Revolution, and Divergent Legacies. In the Late Roman Revolution, Brown explores the aspects of culture and religion that change slowly but ultimately dramatically from classical Roman to Christian-medieval. As Christianity rises and the power from the centre fades, including the power of the intelligensia, the post-Roman world takes on a new character.
In Divergent Legacies, Brown first looks at the development of the West after the fall of Rome. The barbarian invasions are recast, the assimilation of the Senate into the aristocratic and higher clerical ranks of the ruling Church shown to be a way in which the Roman hierarchy in fact survived the collapse of Rome, and the fragmentation of the empire ensured the dominance of Latin for the next many centuries.
This was a very different character from the survival of the Late Antique world in the East. Here the walls of Byzantium were never breached, despite the fact that most of the empire was lost not once but multiple times.
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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Michael Taylor on October 27, 2003
Format: Paperback
Peter Brown, professor of History at Princeton University, takes his readers on an epic trip across space and time, exploring the dynamic and often-neglected world of the Late Antique Mediterranian. Beginning with the era of Marcus Aurelius, he chronicals the crisis of the the 3rd Century, and the new "hard emperors" who arose to effectively re-unite the near-shattered empire. He surveys the wide variations in Christianity, from the Coptic Christianity in Egypt, to the rugged and ubiquitous holy men of Syria. He describes the Christian empires under Constantine and later Justinian and comments on the administrative collapse that caused the implosion of the Western Roman Empire. He concludes his books with a brief discussion of the Muslim conquests, and the interaction between the Muslims and the conquered Christian populations of the East.
The book is graced with ample illustrations featuring a variety of Late Antique art. While the period after 300 BC is not thought of as a time of high culture, the illustrations demonstrate that in reality Late Antique culture was as rich, varied, and sumptuous as Mediterrainian culture had even been. This book functions as an outstanding introduction to Late Antique scholarship (a field pioneered by Professor Brown), and is an excellent suppliment to those courses on Roman History that tend unsatisfyingly to end around 313 BC.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Listo on January 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
It is rare that I find a history so readable. I read some and I just want to keep on reading. This book actually proved distracting from class work.
Not only is it written like a delicious bowl of soup, it also presents a new (new for when it was written, any way) temporal framework; the old division of Classical, Dark, and Middle Ages is done away with. Brown shows how while elite culture in Europe changed under the influence of Christianity and northern cultures, the period was not so much marked by a loss knowledge as by a resurgence of provincialism. Furthermore, the focus of political (and to a certain degree cultural) change saw a shift eastward to Mesopotamia, that area long fought over by Romans, Arsacids, Sassanids and Byzantines. The rise of the Sassanids in Persia and the east-west cultural exchange across Mesopotamia and the Levant is given good attention.
The inclusion of the rise of Islam in the context of this Late Antiquity framework gives a breath of fresh air into our understanding of later history. The influence of Persian institutions and culture on the nascent Islamic empire, the bonding of Hellenistic philosophy with Christianity and the resurgence of provincial styles across the [former] Roman Empire shows how continuity underlined-- and perhaps typified-- the the profound changes of the period. The old understanding of the "Dark Ages" should be thrown out. Cultures always change. This book helps elucidate that point.
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53 of 60 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have used this book as a text for a course titled the Decline of Rome. It proved to be the mose aesthetic piece of literature I've read at the University of California. Brown uses charming little metaphors, which I paraphrase: "A garden protected by spears" and "As the storm of Arab conquest swept across he sky, people sat back to enjoy the sunshine." The book read like an essay, but gives the reader enough introductory information as encouragement to read more about a particular subject. Brown makes Byzantium seem like utopia on the surface, but is careful to underline its precaious state. And the birth of Islam seems like am eastern Renaissance in Brown's hands. For a person who admires Classical Aniquity, one will see the Post-Classical world as a rival.
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