n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - From Rome to Byzantium AD 363 to 565: The Transformation of Ancient Rome, A.D. Lee : reviews

Volume 58, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1141
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Doug Lee is a veteran scholar who has already delivered major contributions to the studies of frontiers, warfare, and Christianity in Late Antiquity. For the multi-authored Edinburgh series, however, he probably drew the short straw. In merely 300 pages Lee is forced to cover two centuries from the death of Julian to the death of Justinian (AD 363-565). The late fourth century and early sixth century, respectively, are exceptionally well documented, at least according to the standards of ancient history, thanks to the rich histories of Ammianus Marcellinus and Procopius, the legal codes, and a plethora of chronicles, letters, panegyrics and other writings. There would have been rich pickings for at least two separate volumes. This is all the more remarkable when comparing this volume in this series with Clifford Ando's , where equal space is given to one of the most poorly documented single centuries in Rome's history. Furthermore, the choice to start the final volume with the death of Julian is a rather unusual one as Lee himself concedes (p. xiii), given that the major turbulent changes setting both halves of the Empire on fundamentally different courses would only come to full fruition with the death of Theodosius I in 395 (a terminal point more widely used, as noticed in the aforementioned works of Bury, Cameron and Moorhead). Lee's choice to end the volume with the death of Justinian is certainly more orthodox, though it could have helped to take the volume up to the death of Heraclius (641) which saw the advent of Islam and the final eclipse of the Ancient World.

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