Sunday, April 30, 2006

Byzantium: The Decline and Fall

Byzantium: The Decline and Fall
by John Julius Norwich

Haven't been posting too much, but am amazed my blog has been around for a year now. It has evolved into sometimes scrapbook, sometimes political posting of current events, and sometimes , well odds and ends. But odds and ends that I find of interest.

Anyway I finally got back to reading Byzantium: The Decline and Fall by John Julius Norwich . Had started it a few years back, but it is the kind of book that requires sustained devoted attention. Managed to find the time now , and it is rewarding. Here is the initial editorial review over at Amazon:

"With this volume, Norwich completes his magisterial narrative history of Byzantium. As in the earlier volumes (Byzantium: The Early Centuries, LJ 3/1/89; and Byzantium: The Apogee, LJ 1/92), he seeks to rectify the negative impressions perpetuated by 18th-century historian Edward Gibbon. Norwich records the history of a brilliant civilization that endured for over 11 centuries. From the founding of Constantinople (capital of Byzantium) by the first Christian Roman emperor and Byzantium's first flowering, to its fatal weakening after the treacherous attack on Constantinople by Western knights in the Fourth Crusade in 1204 and the valiant death of the last Byzantine emperor in 1453 at the hands of the conquering Turks, Norwich has told Byzantium's story in elegant and moving prose. "

I found once I gave sustained attention to this book, it is hard to put down. A tragic story, but it fills end a part of history often neglected in the West. Norwich's narrative largely follows the tales of the various Emperors, and the problems they had to deal with in each reign. It doesn't really cover the art, literature, and culture of the decline. For that better to check out Warren Treadgold.

I think I became interested in Bzyantium from the time I first read Sailing to Bzyantium by Yeats. I was lucky enough to have taken a Classical Civ. course on Rome, at U.T., but that course only took us through the fall of the Western Empire .

Since I started reading about the Eastern Empire I have been hooked. Another 1,100 years of the Romani, and plenty to learn from and reflect upon. Anyway , I would recommend reading the first two volumes of Norwich's trilogy, before getting to this onePosted by Picasa

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