Late Antiquity is a confusing period in history, despite also being one of the most transformative. Since the Roman Empire’s third century crises, history witnessed the emergence of three different monotheistic religions, the impact of barbaric invasions, the fall of Rome and the traditional Western Empire, the rise of the Eastern Empire, the destruction of the Persian Sassanid world, and the expansion of the Islamic world.
In The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon characterized the years after the Empire as the Dark Ages, a period of decay and stagnation. However, recent discoveries have changed our understanding of this age to one of great transformations with consequences that continue to influence today’s issues. This course will study the continuity, rather than discontinuities, of the transformation of Roman culture into Hellenistic Byzantium culture. Each weekly lecture will be followed by questions and discussion.