Romans, Barbarians, and the Transformation of the Roman World by Ralph W. Mathisen
Book Review by Ian Hughes
"The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there”.* Nowhere does this oft-quoted opening line apply more than to Late Antiquity. For many years modern historians attempted to view the events surrounding the ‘Fall of Rome’ within the context of their own times, and in the twentieth century drew comparisons with the collapse of the European empires that had dominated the world. Yet the complex nature of the Fall and the bias of the historians resulted in many erroneous conclusions being drawn.
Over the past 20-30 years historians have been slowly unravelling many of these mistakes – a factor made more difficult by the fact that many of these had become accepted as truth. Yet, as usual, popular acceptance of these debates has lagged behind academic theory. Part of the difficulty has been that new work is almost always published in ‘academic’ texts and journals that are hard to access by anybody without access to a University library...
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