- Series: Greenwood Guides to Historic Events of the Ancient World
- Hardcover: 232 pages
- Publisher: Greenwood; annotated edition edition (January 30, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0313325820
- ISBN-13: 978-0313325823
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,930,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Emperor Justinian and the Byzantine Empire (Greenwood Guides to Historic Events of the Ancient World) annotated edition Edition
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"Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and two-year technical program students; general readers." - Choice
"The author has succeeded in providing an appealing and eminently accessible taster to this fascinating period…" - Journal of Classics Teaching
"Evans provides an introduction to Justinian's reign and time through descriptive chapters, biographical sketches, and annotated primary documents. An overview of late antiquity is followed by chapters on the shape of the Empire, the Nike revolt of 532, the legal achievements of Justinian, the Empress Theodora, Justinian's building program, and imperial achievements as a whole." - Reference & Research Book News/Art Book News Annual
"[A] handy, reliable account of the era complete with biographies of notable characters, a very useful glossary of terms, and a selection of major documents bearing on the reign of Emperor Justinian. The glossary is particularly welcome because the nonspecialist readership often finds Byzantine religious and theological concepts daunting. The twenty documents, selected by Evans, shed light on the rule of Justinian and the complex issues and relationships of that time….[t]his work does much to open up for upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and general readers the Byzantine world of Emperor Justinian. One can say that Evans has accomplished his task and has produced a readable work on that important era." - The Historian
"[F]or high school to college collections….[p]roviding an introduction to Justinian's reign and time. Biography blends with history using annotated primary documents to provide a review of the Late Antiquity and its influences….An excellent reference." - MBR Bookwatch
About the Author
James Allan Evans is Professor Emeritus of Classical Near Eastern and Religious Studies at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. He has published several works on ancient Greece and Rome, including The Age of Justinian: The Circumstances of Imperial Power.
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Top Customer Reviews
When he was born, Justinian wasn't really meant to be Emperor. His uncle Justin came to power somewhat unexpectedly, but Justinian adapted to the coming responsibility with shrewdness and ability. He has been called the last of the Romans for good purpose; the city of Rome itself had been sacked by Visigoths and Vandals in the preceding century, and the western lands were more often than not in open defiance of Roman authority. When they were officially Roman, they were as often demanding as they were supportive. Justinian's long reign enabled him to reunite most of the old Roman Empire one final time. After Justinian, no one would be able to reunite East and West again.
There were different groups pressing at the borders of the Empire - the various European tribes of peoples, from Goths and Germans to Slavs, pressed in on the northern borders with increasing power. The African provinces were increasingly problematic, and the ancient enemy to the east, the Persians (formerly Parthians). Justinian was the last emperor to expand territory and defend against the invaders on all the fronts. Some peace treaties (such as that with the Persians) leads to long-term problems; Justinian's successor refuses to pay the treaty amounts, for example, and war ensues with Persia once more.
As interesting a period as this is internationally, it is also an interesting period theologically; it is one of the few times in Roman history where the dominant belief (or at least wishes) of the Emperor are not translated into theological orthodoxy. The Monophysite party had great influence, not just with Justinian, but with his Empress, Theodora, and thus prompted church councils, that nonetheless determined against the Monophysites. Several heretical issues arose during Justinian's reign; some of the aftermath still survives in official church doctrine for the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic worlds, as well as for splinter groups in Christendom that remain to this day.
Evans also writes about the building of the Hagia Sophia, the crowning building project of Justinian's reign, and a magnificent structure which remains in the city of Istanbul to this day.
The book is arranged in an interesting manner - there is a timeline with annotations beginning with the dedication of Constantinople in the year 330, leading to the overrun of Greece by Avars and Slavs in the year 587, twenty years after Justinian's death. Evans put these events in some wider context - the prophet Muhammad was born about the same time as Justinian's death; the final stage of the united Roman Empire fell as Muhammad came of age.
The second section is a narrative history in six chapters, each one looking at particular significant topics (the overall context of the world in late antiquity; the Nika revolt of 432; the legal achievement of Justinian; the Empress Theodora; the building programme of Justinian; and a concluding chapter). This is followed by a biographical section, with short essay biographies of the major figures of the time period. The fourth section includes primary documents from the Byzantine Empire, including legal documents, architectural descriptions (Hagia Sophia), reports on the plague and more. Finally, there is a useful glossary, index, and list of bibliographic references that make this a truly useful volume for the historian in a hurry.
The text includes a few photographs in black-and-white of significant buildings and mosaics. The one disappointment for me was that there are no maps; a few showing the lay of the lands would be helpful.
Overall, this is an interesting, accessible volume for a little-studied time period. Bella Vivante states in the series foreword that knowing the past is essential to knowing the present, and gives good reason for studying time periods such as late antiquity and the reign of Justinian. James Evans' style of writing is engaging and succeeds in bringing these issues into relevance.
However despite all his concerns with laws and orthodoxy the eastern Empire is anything but a Pax Romana,with Invasions ,Counterinvasions,Riots over food and chariot race drivers,etc.The book spends a significant amount of time on the different writers of the Justinian Age and explores some of their motivations for explaining Justinians reign as they did.Lots of black and white pictures of Justinians ambitious building constructions.Despite all the lofty pronouncements of Justinian you still get the feeling there was lots of ways of skirting the laws like is still done today.