Friday, January 30, 2015

The Age of Attila: Fifth-Century Byzantium and the Barbarians

This book describes the tragic and bloody collapse of Roman civilization in the West in the fifth century and the near ruin of the Eastern Roman Empire.
The hundred years from the death of Theodosius I to the conquest of Italy by Theodoric the Ostrogoth were years of chaos, havoc, and destruction.



In the East we see the confusion of the imperial government, the palace intrigues, and the sinister role of the palace eunuchs—but survival. The events are dramatically described by eyewitnesses to the disasters—the Byzantine historians Priscus, Malchus, Olympiodorus, John of Antioch, and Candidus.

The contemporary accounts are translated into English and provided with a running commentary by C. D. Gordon to form a continuous narrative of an age of turmoil—the Age of Attila.David S. Potter has added translations of significant passages not in the original volume. He has also added extensive new notes to place the book in the contemporary study of the ancient world, as well as a new bibliography and a concordance with modern editions.“David Potter’s re-edition, really updating, expanding, reshaping, and refreshing Colin Gordon's classic Age of Attila is a very welcome development.

The Age of Attila, in Potter's expanded version, provides in English the most important literary sources for the immensely important period of the transition or decline, depending on one's view, of the Roman empire to the post-Roman kingdoms in the West, and for Roman history in the fifth century CE in general. This decisive century has always been hotly debated, but rising interest in economic history and a new wave of Attila books make this an especially fortuitous moment to have Gordon anew: no historian, no student of the later Roman Empire will be able to live without David Potter's edition of Gordon's Age of Attila!”—Susanna Elm, University of California, Berkeley“It has been half a century since C. D. Gordon published this valuable introduction to the fifth century, a narrative reconstituted from the fragmentary but tantalizing sources remaining for the period. David Potter has revitalized this classic work, updating it with reference to the latest critical editions and rewriting its notes to take account of recent scholarship. The book provides an excellent entry point into a world that saw the western Roman Empire crumble, Byzantium rise from its remains, and the barbarian peoples of central and western Eurasia reshape human history.”—Noel Lenski, University of Colorado Boulder

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