My frustration about academic literature on the Roman Empire

meisenimverbis

Civis Illustris
It's really sad to me that most of the books about The Roman Empire go until the Antonini and stop there. And then, after that, you take books about what they call Late Antiquity, which take the narrative from the Tetrarchy, jumping the crisis.

To me, the Roman Empire should be at least (or actually until) Iustinianus. All right, all right, people will say he's Byzantine, but, well, I can see at least effort of Roman Empire until Iustinianus. One could argue that if you go up to Iustinianus, you'd have to cover all the Byzantium Romans until 1453.

Anyway, I'm just sad to get a book that says to be about the Roman Empire that ends in the middle of the story...
 

Serenus

legātus armisonus
It's really sad to me that most of the books about The Roman Empire go until the Antonini and stop there. And then, after that, you take books about what they call Late Antiquity, which take the narrative from the Tetrarchy, jumping the crisis.

To me, the Roman Empire should be at least (or actually until) Iustinianus. All right, all right, people will say he's Byzantine, but, well, I can see at least effort of Roman Empire until Iustinianus. One could argue that if you go up to Iustinianus, you'd have to cover all the Byzantium Romans until 1453.

Anyway, I'm just sad to get a book that says to be about the Roman Empire that ends in the middle of the story...
Was Justinian even that admirable? Didn't his conquests, piled onto by the infamous plague of 541, effectively wipe the unity of Italy until the great blackout of 2003, as James O'Donnell once said, partly in jest? (Aren't classicists at their best in their more candid moments?)

Regarding the topic, I do think of the Roman Empire as continuing to 1453, but there are important, long-standing cultural narrative reasons for why the last century or so of the late Republic and that First Empire founded by Augustus (and, spiritually, Julius Caesar) that lasted with relatively good wealth and stability for a bit over a century have been the focus of so many people for so long. Not least the people of Late Antiquity themselves, whether we mean Apuleius just before the crisis using obsolete words taken off Plautus and Terence, or Macrobius trying to show off learning of old literature, or Cassiodorus asking for forgiveness from the readers of his hastily-written Variae by saying that even Cicero, "that fountain of eloquence" (ipse fons eloquentiae), could not always perform...
 
Last edited:
Top