John Lydus and the Roman Past

Format: Hardcover
Pub. Date: 1992-03-13
Publisher(s): Routledge
List Price: $160.00

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John Lydus, a retired official at Justinian's court in the mid-sixth century, is an important, neglected source for the study of the fate of the classical legacy in the newly Christianized Roman empire, Byzantium. Torn between devotion to an urban-based intellectual tradition, which had its roots in classical antiquity, and allegiance to a despotic emperor whose policies he knew to be undercutting that tradition, Lydus nevertheless hoped for a restoration. Lydus' dilemma is representative of the tensions of his age. His intellectual debts were to classical secular antiquity, a body of knowledge which was under attack on a number of fronts. In particular, it was easily confused with paganism. Although a Christian himself, Lydus based his most important arguments on material that was demonstrably pagan, and his political patron was accused of paganism. Examining his work (On Portents, On the Months, and On Magistracies), Michael Maas establishes Lydus as a credible witnessto the political and cultural milieu in the age of Justinian--at the moment when the state re-historicized itself and its Roman legacy in Christian terms. Within a few generations, addressing antiquity from a non-Christian viewpoint will be unthinkable. But from his place on the edge of a shifting paradigm, Lydus sees, and helps us see the emergence of medieval Byzantium through Roman eyes.

Table of Contents

Introduction: John Lydus and the Silver Heirloom
Changes in the Age of Justinian
Portrait of a Bureaucrat
The Ideologica Transformation of Tradition
De Mensibus and the Antiquarian Tradition
Paganisim and Politics
De Magistratibus and the Theory of Imperial Restoration
Lydus and the Philosophers
De ostentis: Portents and the Enemies of Ptolemy
Conclusion: Collusion
Authorities cited by Lydus
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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