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Colin Wells has studied with eminent Byzantinist Speros Vryonis Jr. at UCLA and holds an M.A. from Oxford University in Greats (Greek and Latin language and literature). He has written numerous articles on world history and culture for over a decade. He lives in upstate New York. From the Hardcover edition.
Wells, an independent scholar specializing in Greek, Latin, and Byzantine topics, considers how Byzantium, the Eastern, Greek-language Roman Empire of the Middle Ages, influenced three successor civilizations Western Europe, Islam, and the eastern Slavic world of the Balkans and Russia. In Part 1, Wells relates how Byzantine scholars and teachers, many fleeing the Turks, settled in 15th-century Italy, where they introduced ancient Greek literature to Western scholars and helped launch the humanist movement that contributed to the Italian Renaissance. In Part 2, he looks at Byzantium's contribution to Islamic thought the scholars and translators who would introduce the Arab Muslims to Greek philosophy, medicine, and science, leading to a golden age of Arab science, which would eventually be repudiated by Islamic fundamentalists who sought to suppress the rational inquiry that was the basis of Greek philosophy and science. Next, Wells looks at the religious legacy that Byzantium transmitted to the eastern Slavic world the Orthodox Christianity of the Slavic churches, resulting from tireless missionary work, which may be the most enduring legacy of Byzantium. This history is a needed reminder of the debt that three of our major civilizations owe to Byzantium. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. Robert J. Andrews, Duluth P.L., MN Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"In this work of extraordinary learning...readers will find themselves guided on a fascinating journey through a story that has never before been presented in such an accessible and thought-provoking fashion."--Thomas R. Martin, Jeremiah O'Connor Professor of Classics at the College of the Holy Cross "A superb survey of Byzantium's many cultural bequests.... In this deft synthesis of scholarship, classicist Wells shows how the Byzantines exerted a profound influence on all neighboring civilizations.... Contains a useful glossary of historical figures, detailed maps and a time line."--Publishers Weekly, starred review "This history is a needed reminder of the debt that three of our major civilizations owe a debt to Byzantium. Highly recommended."--Library Journal, starred review From the Hardcover edition.
In this deft synthesis of scholarship, classicist Wells shows how the Byzantines exerted a profound influence on all neighboring civilizations. Concrete examples still exist that testify to that influence-such as Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy-but this book focuses on the more ineffable products of culture that traveled from the Bosporus, influencing Western, Islamic and Slavic cultures. The story of Renaissance Europe's embrace of pagan learning is familiar, but Wells tells of a fascinating intellectual circuit that begins with the transmission of Greek learning to the newly powerful Arabs and leads to Averro?s's commentary on Aristotle, Aquinas's use of this commentary and finally to the Byzantine Cydones's translation of Aquinas in the 14th century. By then, the dominant Orthodox movement of Hesychasm deemed pagan learning incompatible with Christian faith, forcing many humanists to the Catholic West. Wells devotes much space to the Hesychasts and blames them for this betrayal of Greek heritage and for weakening the empire before its final collapse in 1453, but duly credits them with shaping the Russian Orthodox Church and positioning Moscow as the Third Rome. This volume, which contains a useful glossary of historical figures, detailed maps and a time line, is a superb survey of Byzantium's many cultural bequests. (July 25) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.