From Gibbon to Auden: Essays on the Classical Tradition

Oxford University Press
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For several decades G. W. Bowersock has been one of our leading historians of the classical world. This volume collects seventeen of his essays, each illustrating how the classical past has captured the imagination of some of the greatest figures in modern historiography and literature. The essays here range across three centuries, the eighteenth to the twentieth, and are divided chronologically. The great Enlightenment historian Edward Gibbon is in large part the unifying force of this collection as he appears prominently in the first four essays, beginning with Bowersock's engaging introduction to the methods and genius behind The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Gibbon's profound influence is revealed in subsequent essays on Jacob Burckhardt, the nineteenth-century scholar famous for his history of the Italian Renaissance but whose work on late antiquity is only now being fully appreciated; the modern Greek poet Constantine Cavafy, whose annotations on Gibbon's Decline and Fall tell us much about his own historical poems; and finally W. H. Auden, whose poem and little known essay "The Fall of Rome" were, in quirky ways, tributes to Gibbon. The collection reprints Auden's poem and essay in full. The result is a rich survey of the early modern and modern uses of the classical past by one of its most important contemporary commentators.
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About the author

G.W. Bowersock is Professor Emeritus of Ancient History at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey. He is the author of more than 300 articles and books on Greek, Roman, and Near Eastern history, as well as the classical tradition in western literature.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Mar 25, 2009
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9780199704071
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Ancient / General
Literary Collections / Ancient & Classical
Literary Criticism / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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G.W. Bowersock
Just prior to the rise of Islam in the sixth century AD, southern Arabia was embroiled in a violent conflict between Christian Ethiopians and Jewish Arabs. Though little known today, this was an international war that involved both the Byzantine Empire, which had established Christian churches in Ethiopia, and the Sasanian Empire in Persia, which supported the Jews in what became a proxy war against its longtime foe Byzantium. Our knowledge of these events derives largely from an inscribed marble throne at the Ethiopian port of Adulis, meticulously described by a sixth-century Christian merchant known as Cosmas Indicopleustes. Using the writings of Cosmas and a wealth of other historical and archaeological evidence from the period, eminent historian G. W. Bowersock carefully reconstructs this fascinating but overlooked chapter in pre-Islamic Arabian history. The flashpoint of the war, Bowersock tells us, occurred when Yusuf, the Jewish king of Himyar, massacred hundreds of Christians living in Najran. The Christian ruler of Ethiopia, Kaleb, urged on by the Byzantine emperor Justin, led a force of 120,000 men across the Red Sea to defeat Yusuf. But when the victorious Kaleb--said to have retired to a monastery-left behind weak leaders in both Ethiopia and Himyar, the Byzantine and Persian empires expanded their activity in the Arabian territory. In the midst of this conflict, a new religion was born, destined to bring a wholly unanticipated resolution to the power struggle in Arabia. The Throne of Adulis vividly recreates the Red Sea world of Late Antiquity, transporting readers back to a remote but pivotal epoch in ancient history, one that sheds light on the collapse of the Persian Empire as well as the rise of Islam.
G.W. Bowersock
Just prior to the rise of Islam in the sixth century AD, southern Arabia was embroiled in a violent conflict between Christian Ethiopians and Jewish Arabs. Though little known today, this was an international war that involved both the Byzantine Empire, which had established Christian churches in Ethiopia, and the Sasanian Empire in Persia, which supported the Jews in what became a proxy war against its longtime foe Byzantium. Our knowledge of these events derives largely from an inscribed marble throne at the Ethiopian port of Adulis, meticulously described by a sixth-century Christian merchant known as Cosmas Indicopleustes. Using the writings of Cosmas and a wealth of other historical and archaeological evidence from the period, eminent historian G. W. Bowersock carefully reconstructs this fascinating but overlooked chapter in pre-Islamic Arabian history. The flashpoint of the war, Bowersock tells us, occurred when Yusuf, the Jewish king of Himyar, massacred hundreds of Christians living in Najran. The Christian ruler of Ethiopia, Kaleb, urged on by the Byzantine emperor Justin, led a force of 120,000 men across the Red Sea to defeat Yusuf. But when the victorious Kaleb--said to have retired to a monastery-left behind weak leaders in both Ethiopia and Himyar, the Byzantine and Persian empires expanded their activity in the Arabian territory. In the midst of this conflict, a new religion was born, destined to bring a wholly unanticipated resolution to the power struggle in Arabia. The Throne of Adulis vividly recreates the Red Sea world of Late Antiquity, transporting readers back to a remote but pivotal epoch in ancient history, one that sheds light on the collapse of the Persian Empire as well as the rise of Islam.
G.W. Bowersock
Just prior to the rise of Islam in the sixth century AD, southern Arabia was embroiled in a violent conflict between Christian Ethiopians and Jewish Arabs. Though little known today, this was an international war that involved both the Byzantine Empire, which had established Christian churches in Ethiopia, and the Sasanian Empire in Persia, which supported the Jews in what became a proxy war against its longtime foe Byzantium. Our knowledge of these events derives largely from an inscribed marble throne at the Ethiopian port of Adulis, meticulously described by a sixth-century Christian merchant known as Cosmas Indicopleustes. Using the writings of Cosmas and a wealth of other historical and archaeological evidence from the period, eminent historian G. W. Bowersock carefully reconstructs this fascinating but overlooked chapter in pre-Islamic Arabian history. The flashpoint of the war, Bowersock tells us, occurred when Yusuf, the Jewish king of Himyar, massacred hundreds of Christians living in Najran. The Christian ruler of Ethiopia, Kaleb, urged on by the Byzantine emperor Justin, led a force of 120,000 men across the Red Sea to defeat Yusuf. But when the victorious Kaleb--said to have retired to a monastery-left behind weak leaders in both Ethiopia and Himyar, the Byzantine and Persian empires expanded their activity in the Arabian territory. In the midst of this conflict, a new religion was born, destined to bring a wholly unanticipated resolution to the power struggle in Arabia. The Throne of Adulis vividly recreates the Red Sea world of Late Antiquity, transporting readers back to a remote but pivotal epoch in ancient history, one that sheds light on the collapse of the Persian Empire as well as the rise of Islam.
G.W. Bowersock
Just prior to the rise of Islam in the sixth century AD, southern Arabia was embroiled in a violent conflict between Christian Ethiopians and Jewish Arabs. Though little known today, this was an international war that involved both the Byzantine Empire, which had established Christian churches in Ethiopia, and the Sasanian Empire in Persia, which supported the Jews in what became a proxy war against its longtime foe Byzantium. Our knowledge of these events derives largely from an inscribed marble throne at the Ethiopian port of Adulis, meticulously described by a sixth-century Christian merchant known as Cosmas Indicopleustes. Using the writings of Cosmas and a wealth of other historical and archaeological evidence from the period, eminent historian G. W. Bowersock carefully reconstructs this fascinating but overlooked chapter in pre-Islamic Arabian history. The flashpoint of the war, Bowersock tells us, occurred when Yusuf, the Jewish king of Himyar, massacred hundreds of Christians living in Najran. The Christian ruler of Ethiopia, Kaleb, urged on by the Byzantine emperor Justin, led a force of 120,000 men across the Red Sea to defeat Yusuf. But when the victorious Kaleb--said to have retired to a monastery-left behind weak leaders in both Ethiopia and Himyar, the Byzantine and Persian empires expanded their activity in the Arabian territory. In the midst of this conflict, a new religion was born, destined to bring a wholly unanticipated resolution to the power struggle in Arabia. The Throne of Adulis vividly recreates the Red Sea world of Late Antiquity, transporting readers back to a remote but pivotal epoch in ancient history, one that sheds light on the collapse of the Persian Empire as well as the rise of Islam.
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