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The Life of Belisarius by Lord Philip Henry…

The Life of Belisarius (original 1848; edition 2006)

by Lord Philip Henry Stanhpe Mahon, Jon Coulston (Foreword)

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Title:The Life of Belisarius
Authors:Lord Philip Henry Stanhpe Mahon
Other authors:Jon Coulston (Foreword)
Info:Yardley, PA: Westholme Publishing
Collections:Your library

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The Life of Belisarius by Earl Stanhope Philip Henry Stanhope (1848)



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Jon Coulston’s introduction describes this as “…a work of meticulous scholarship penned by a British aristocrat with the resources and leisure for travel and research.” Philip Stanhope (a/k/a Lord Mahon) was 24 years old when “The Life of Belisarius” was published, and it is clearly a commendable, if flawed, effort. The authorial voice is positively enslaved by a compulsion to mimic Edward Gibbon. Even so, it’s a good (definitive?) source for the perspectives of mildly pompous, 19th Century English dandies on the life and times of Belisarius.

Mahon is churlishly misogynistic (a fault which Coulston attempts to minimize by ascribing it to his [Mahon’s] era rather than his person), as well as nakedly pro-Christian. Even Gibbon acknowledged the inherent superstitious quality of all religions; Mahon finds it only in non-Christian actors (and occasionally in those Christian sects of which he personally disapproves). These are, in themselves, petty criticisms. However, throughout his book Mahon relies heavily upon his own biases and prejudices to explain historical causation.

Nevertheless, it is an engrossing and entertaining book – in no small measure because of the subject himself. Belisarius may not have bequeathed to posterity enough material to construct a first-rate psychological biography, but his actions precluded the necessity. His story would be impressive in any telling of it. ( )
  Narboink | Jun 21, 2009 |
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