Friday, 31 December 2010

Philip the Arab: Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 7 Part 3

The assertion of authority by the Senate was to prove short lived.  Even while Maximus had been in the field against Maximin, there had been trouble in Rome between the Praetorians and the people, and blood had been shed.  The rule of Maximus and Balbinus was soon brought to an end by the now standard procedure of the soldiers simply killing them.  This happened only a few months after the triumphant return of Maximus.

Monday, 13 December 2010

A Turkish Historians view of Byzantine and Ottoman Empires

It didn't occur to me until I came across this blog post over on the dependable Mybyzantine blog, that I had never read any Turkish historian's account of anything about either the Ottoman or the Byzantine Empires.

Friday, 10 December 2010

What did Hypatia really know? The Science of Agora

With almost no cinema distribution and with the sales of the DVD virtually non-existent, Agora will probably vanish almost without a trace, not unlike its main character. The life of an historical figure few have heard of seems not to be a commercial proposition even when it gets generally good reviews on film buff blogs.  But there have been some heated debates online. Although any film where religion is a key part of the plot could upset someone somewhere, most of the discussion I have seen has been about how accurate a portrayal it was.  The historical background is one thing, but the question I find most interesting is what Hypatia actually did or didn't do.  Where does Hypatia fit in the history of science?

Read more about Hypatia and her science at the blog's new location.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Byzantine Influence continues to be felt on... fashion. (Yes. Fashion.)

The fashion world has latched onto the sumptious and sensuous world of Byzantine art.

Read more at the blog's new site

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Agora - How Christian Thugs Extinguished a Brilliant Mind

Portrait of Hypatia (thanks to Wikipedia)

Whatever you think about Christianity, the unpalatable fact is it owed its rise to coercion, violence and a huge amount of bloodshed. The scale of persecution of Christians by the pagan empire was tiny compared to the death toll once the Church became established.  The majority of the bloodshed was fighting between Christians.  Attacks on Pagans and Jews don't seem to have got very far up the to do list very often, but there were some celebrated cases.  The film Agora looks at one of the best known. It is the story of Hypatia, who lived in Alexandria at the same time as St Cyril, one of the founding fathers of the Church.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Yet another take on the Roman Empire

Beyond the frontiers, his anxious view could discover nothing, except the ocean, inhospitable deserts, hostile tribes of barbarians, of fierce manners and unknown language, or dependent kings, who would gladly purchase the emperor's protection by the sacrifice of an obnoxious fugitive. "Wherever you are," said Cicero to the exiled Marcellus, "remember that you are equally within the power of the conqueror."

The stately phrases of Gibbon are one way of describing the grandeur of the Roman Empire. But there is another way of presenting the story. For instance you can dress up in some fun clothes and set the words to well known pop songs. Weird, but somehow wonderful. There is a whole channel on Youtube created by Historyteachers dedicated to doing just this. It really is compulsive viewing - the one below is just a taster.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Climate Wars by Gwynne Dyer

Are man's activities altering the climate? Despite having an environmental science degree and a deep interest in environmental issues, bizarrely enough I have never really got around to forming an opinion on the matter. It is certainly true that the consensus among scientists is that man made climate change is a fact and that we should be taking steps to do something about it. If forced, I would say the chances are that they are right.