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Roman

Edmonton, AB, Canada | Member Since 2005

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  • Sailing from Byzantium: How a Lost Empire Shaped the World

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Colin Wells
    • Narrated By Lloyd James
    Overall
    (95)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (27)

    A gripping intellectual adventure story, Sailing from Byzantium sweeps you from the deserts of Arabia to the dark forests of northern Russia, from the colorful towns of Renaissance Italy to the final moments of a millennial city under siege.

    Nikoli Gogol says: "The Missing Years"
    "The Missing Years"
    Overall

    Accounts of European History end with the sack of Rome in 410, then have a black hole called the Dark Ages, and then pick up the story with Charlemagne. This account of history is very incomplete and inaccurate.

    While Western Europe was in decline, the Byzantine Empire was in existence from the year 330 to 1453 during which time it was the wellspring of science, art, literature, and history. This Empire was in existence longer that Britain’s government, if one dates it from the Battle of Hastings in the 1066. The works of the ancient Greeks and Romans were preserved, copied and transmitted. Byzantium and its enemies referred to it as the uninterrupted Roman Empire until its fall.

    The author shows that three empires in turn benefitted from Byzantium’s contributions: Western Europe; the Slavic Countries most notably Russia (the self styled “Third Rome”); and Moslems. Significantly, Byzantine monks invented the Cyrillic alphabet for use by the Slavs and translated the bible into a vernacular in the 9th century. The British did not have a vernacular bible till the 17 century.

    The term “Byzantine” has acquired the pejorative meaning similar to the term "Kafkaesque" because of complication in messy dynastic changes, the similarity of names of offspring, and theological disputes in which the Orthodox beliefs of the Byzantines were more in keeping with the Christian canon than Rome’s view on the same topics.

    Edward Gibbon, a skeptic, weighed in with his acidic and exaggerated descriptions of the worst that Byzantium had to offer. This is hardly a reason to dismiss the innumerable positive achievements of Byzantium and its effect in enlightening Europe and making the Renaissance possible.

    See also Justinian’s Flea and the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon, both available on Audible.

    22 of 23 people found this review helpful

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