A Companion to Late Antiquity by Philip Rousseau

By Philip Rousseau

An available and authoritative evaluation shooting the energy and variety of scholarship that exists at the transformative period of time often called overdue antiquity.

  • Provides a necessary evaluation of present scholarship on overdue antiquity – from among the accession of Diocletian in advert 284 and the top of Roman rule within the Mediterranean
  • Comprises 39 essays from a number of the world's most popular students of the period
  • Presents this once-neglected interval as an age of robust transformation that formed the fashionable global
  • Emphasizes the significant value of faith and its reference to financial, social, and political life

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Georgios the Monk, for instance, repeatedly invokes the authority of Gregory of Nazianzus and other patristic authors in support of his historical writing. ’’ Evident in the Parallela is a fear of words as mere ornamentation, forgery, and simulation; a fear of the surface of discourse and the aesthetics of mere appearance. Late antique texts are paraded one after the other precisely to reinforce that fear. What is interesting here is that the late antique theory of discourse and its fear of discursive form is adopted by those who in Byzantium write the history of Late Antiquity.

The case of Ephrem is even more complex. Works attributed to him survive in both Greek and Syriac, but the relationship between the two corpora is distant, and the biographies demonstrate two distinct personae (Griffith 1998). Identifying an ‘‘author’’ or even discussing authenticity in this instance is problematic, and so we talk of Ephrem Graecus and Ephrem Syrus to distinguish the two corpora. To further complicate matters, monks of the Greco-Syrian communities of the sixth century, in addition to transmitting the works of Ephrem Graecus in both Greek and Syriac, composed new poetic homilies and songs in his style and under his name (Griffith 1998).

One can trace a significant development in Byzantine metahistory and literary criticism. From an initial emphasis on the ability of discourse to mediate content – truth in general, but especially historical truth – Byzantine authors moved toward an increasing appreciation of form itself. This development influenced the ways in which Byzantine authors wrote about their late antique past. While initially Late Antiquity was regarded as a historical past immediately present in Byzantine historiography, gradually Byzantine authors became aware of how their writing about the past was mediated through form, and of how the past could therefore be creatively constructed to meet the demands or tastes of the present.

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