An Everlasting Antiquity: Aspects of Peter Brown’s "The World of Late Antiquity"

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Peter Brown’s influential book "The World of Late Antiquity" has had a formidable impact on ancient historiography. Before it, historians who studied the period leading to the deposition of Romolus Agustulus—the last Roman emperor—in 476 AD considered themselves ‘classicists’ or ‘ancient historians’, while those who studied the subsequent period called themselves medievalists; therefore before Brown’s book the collapse of the Roman Empire remained the watershed date that brought upon the Middle Ages. It is not the task of this essay to trace the history of this conception, but to examine the assertions, merits, and faults of Peter Brown’s book. Brown magnified, or more precisely, outright invented a new epoch: “[a number of elements] converged to produce that very distinctive period in European civilization—the Late Antique world”.
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Archival date: 2016-03-01
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