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The World of Byzantium | [The Great Courses]

The World of Byzantium

Byzantium is too-often considered merely the "eastern rump" of the old Roman Empire, a curious and even unsettling mix of the classical and medieval. Yet it was, according to Professor Harl, "without a doubt the greatest state in Christendom through much of the Middle Ages," and well worth our attention as a way to widen our perspective on everything from the decline of imperial Rome to the rise of the Renaissance.
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Publisher's Summary

Byzantium is too-often considered merely the "Eastern rump" of the old Roman Empire, a curious and even unsettling mix of the classical and medieval. Yet it was, according to Professor Harl, "without a doubt the greatest state in Christendom through much of the Middle Ages," and well worth our attention as a way to widen our perspective on everything from the decline of imperial Rome to the rise of the Renaissance.

In a series of 24 tellingly detailed lectures, you'll learn how the Greek-speaking empire of Byzantium, or East Rome, occupied a crucial place in both time and space that began with Constantine the Great and endured for more than a millennium - a crucible where peoples, cultures, and ideas met and melded to create a world at once Eastern and Western, Greek and Latin, classical and Christian. And you'll be dazzled by the achievements of Byzantium's emperors, patriarchs, priests, monks, artists, architects, scholars, soldiers, and officials

  • Preserving and extending the literary, intellectual, and aesthetic legacy of Classical and Hellenistic Greece
  • Carrying forward path-breaking Roman accomplishments in law, politics, engineering, architecture, urban design, and military affairs
  • Deepening Christian thought while spreading the faith to Russia and the rest of what would become the Orthodox world
  • Developing Christian monastic institutions
  • Shielding a comparatively weak and politically fragmented western Europe from the full force of eastern nomadic and Islamic invasions
  • Fusing classical, Christian, and eastern influences
  • Helping to shape the course of the Humanist revival and the Renaissance

    Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

    ©2001 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2001 The Great Courses

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    collin lau hillsborough, california United States 09-28-13
    collin lau hillsborough, california United States 09-28-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Another piece of the puzzle"
    Where does The World of Byzantium rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    WB ranks among the top. Dr. Harl provides another piece of the puzzle addressing the question of our relationship with the Middle East and Russia


    Have you listened to any of Professor Kenneth W. Harl’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No - will try another soon.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No - it was quite long. It was in two parts.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saud United States 03-24-14
    Saud United States 03-24-14 Member Since 2007

    Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.

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    "Where two worlds collide"

    Byzantium rarely receives the recognition and attention it deserves, especially when we realize the significance it had to the Muslim world and Christian Europe. This course explores the basic points of this rich empire without holding back.

    Worth listening to for any history buff.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jbfuller317 Chestnut Hill, MA USA 09-02-13
    jbfuller317 Chestnut Hill, MA USA 09-02-13 Member Since 2013

    History glutton

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    "Excellent Survey"
    If you could sum up The World of Byzantium in three words, what would they be?

    Comprehensive integrative clear


    What other book might you compare The World of Byzantium to and why?

    It's a lecture series, so this isn't very relevant.


    Have you listened to any of Professor Kenneth W. Harl’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    This is a good survey, which does a nice job of placing Byzantium in the context of more familiar and popular historical themes-- emergence of the Renaissance, the rise of the Ottoman Empire, the decline of the Western Roman Empire, humanism. Harl is a good scholar and an interesting and occasionally amusing lecturer. If you have an interest in knowing the basics, this is a worth listen.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike New Jersey 04-26-14
    Mike New Jersey 04-26-14
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    "Traditional History at it's Best"
    Any additional comments?

    I have listened to Professor Kenneth J. Harl many times and have never been disappointed. He delivers the traditional historical experience at its best.

    This series of lectures covers the origins of the Byzantine Empire (or East Roman Empire) from its background and foundations in the late Roman Empire and its birth through the dynamic personality of Emperor Constantine the Great around 300 AD. It then provides an overview of that history right down to the empires final collapse in the epic and moving siege and fall of the city of Constantinople to it's Ottoman Turkic attackers in 1453 AD.

    Those who are looking for an in-depth treatment of the topic should probably find a more thorough book to read. Those who are interested in getting an overview of the topic and enjoy listening to history will not be disappointed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt Parkdale, Australia 11-26-13
    Matt Parkdale, Australia 11-26-13 Member Since 2004
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    "A Very Difficult Listen - Not for Beginners!"

    Sorry Prof - only 3/10 from me on this one. Too much information crammed in to too small a space and not enough effort put into engaging the audience with interesting stories.

    Considering the real life dramas that actually took place in this period, the presentation style was often disappointingly boring. That made the material very hard to retain.

    The author of this course is clearly a very learned gent who loves his subject. I wanted to know a bit about Byzantium so I decided to stay with him until the end. It was really hard work though.

    On the plus, side he covers a lot of ground. If you're already quite familiar with the period, the major protagonists and empires and want to know more you'll definitely pick up useful stuff from these lectures. As a newcomer to Byzantine history, I did learn a few things, too so it wasn't entirely lacking in merit.

    What makes it so very hard though, is his presentation style: an endless and often bewildering succession of people, dates, battles, political events, kingdoms, alliances etc- delivered at an almost uniformly high speed - with very few pauses. Imagine the audio equivalent of a long text book with very long dense paragraphs, minus headers, bullet points or any other typographical features and you'll get the idea. The pace is relentless and the overall body of work is frankly, quite featureless and dull. Certainly hard to retain.

    What makes it even more difficult is that he seemed to be speaking to an audience who already knows a lot about the subject. He also assumes that the listener fully recalls events, or people mentioned in passing in previous chapters and refers back to them in such a way that I was often left thinking - so where are we now, what's he talking about?

    At the end of it I felt quite frustrated and unsatisfied. I've just listened to twelve hours and not picked up anywhere near as much as I would have liked from the experience.

    One last thing worth mentioning: I've listened to a few of these "Great Courses" on history and classics now. During the course of going through other courses - I frequently found myself jumping on to the internet to look stuff up - authors, historical works, artwork, places etc. I was fascinated and inspired to want to learn more. I did not have that urge once with this course.



    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
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