Someone has to Start


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Someone has to Start

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Feb 28, 2007, 2:32pm

I miss the Byzantine Empire. I miss the effete city officers and their transformation into hardened warriors when the need arose. I miss Heraclius defeating the Persians but then being too weary to face the Arab onslaught although his defeat was blamed by his contemporaries on God's anger on his marriage to his niece. I miss the back stabbing, the blindings, the forced ensconcings in monasteries, the slaughter of the Bulgars, the millennia of battles at the walls of Theodosius.

Sorry, I'm a programmer. I have a lot of built-up hostility. :)

I very much like the trilogy (Byzantium: The Early Centuries, Byzantium: The Apogee and Byzantium: The Decline and Fall) by John Julius Norwich. Who doesn't? Runciman's The fall of Constantinople, 1453 is good as a finishing coda.

Feb 28, 2007, 3:49pm

I haven't read Norwich's trilogy on Byzantium, but if it's half as good as his A History of Venice I'll have to look for it.

Edited: Feb 28, 2007, 4:53pm

There's also Runciman's The Great Church in Captivity about the life of Christians after the fall of Constantinople. The increase in complicated intrigues of the court more than demonstrates the meaning of Byzantine! It's a great read.

Edited: Mar 5, 2007, 6:38pm

You will also find Byzantium and the Crusades by Jonathan Harris to be an extremely good read.

Mar 7, 2007, 6:33pm

I think I'm kind of the odd one out here, as I've never actually read the famous Norwich book(s). :-) It's good to read the political histories and such, but as a "living history" type of person, and a woman, I tend to gravitate more towards books about women, as well as how people actually lived---clothing, music, food, entertainment, foreign relations, religion, etc.

I'm also fond of Byzantine liturgical music and am fortunate that Portland is home to a local ensemble, Cappella Romana, who specializes in it.