Ancient History & Civilisation


References to Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Everyman edition, 1966) are given as Gibbon, throughout. Other references to sources are Agathias, Ammianus, Avitus, Cassius Dio, Evagrius, Gildas, Herodian, Latomus, Orosius, Priscus, Socrates, Sozomen, Zonoras, Zosimus

Chapter 1

1. Lives of the Later Caesars, pp. 90, 98–9, 112–3, 139; Dio, book 69.

2. Lives of the Later Caesars, pp. 163–4.

3. Lives of the Later Caesars, pp 187–9; Dio, book 73, chapter 9.

4. Anthony Birley, Marcus Aurelius: A Biography, pp 108, 114, 128, 147, 149, 162.

5. Lives of the Later Caesars, p. 208.

6. Lives of the Later Caesars, pp. 211–12.

7. Dio, book 76, chapter 16.

8. Dio, book 75, chapter 8.

9. Dio, book 76, chapter 15.

10. Dio, book 75, chapter 8.

11. Dio, book 75, chapter 14; Herodian, book 3, chapter 11.

12. Herodian, book 3, chapter 7.

13. Dio, book 76, chapter 14.

14. Herodian, book 3, chapters 11–12; Dio, book 76, chapters 3–6.

15. Herodian, book 3, chapter 15; Dio, book 76, chapter 14.

16. Dio, book 76.

17. Dio, book 74, chapter 1.

18. Herodian, book 4, chapters 3–4.

19. Dio, book 78, chapter 4; Lives of the Later Caesars, p 256.

20. Lives of the Later Caesars, pp 300–1.

21. Dio, book 80, chapters 1–2; Herodian, book 8, chapters 1-8.

22. Zosimus, book 1, chapter 23; Zonaras, book 12, chapter 10.

23. As analysed by Bryan Ward-Perkins (see chapter 2, note 10).

24. Dio, book 80, chapter 20; Herodian, book 5, chapter 8.

25. Herodian, book 6, chapter 7–8; Zosimus, book 1, chapter 13.

Chapter 2

1. Procopius, Buildings, ed. and tr. H.B. Dewing, (London/Cambridge Mass., 1940), book IV, ch. 1.

2. Orosius, book 7, ch. 23 on Athaulf – a story related by an émigré citizen of Narbo to St. Jerome in Palestine. See Gibbon, part 3, pp. 261–5. For Alaric’s invasions, see Zosimus book 1, ch. 5.

3. Priscus’ embassy: P. Heather, The Fall of the Roman Empire: a New History (Macmillan 2005), pp. 449–50. Princess Honoria: Jordanes, De Rebus Getica, chapter 42: Gibbon, chapter 30.

4. Ammianus, book 31, chapters 12–13.

5. Analysis of the Gothic war: Heather, The Fall of the Roman Empire: a New History pp. 151–8. For Augustine and the arguments over the sack of Rome, see G.P. O’Day, Augustine’s City of God: a Reader’s Guide (Oxford 1999). For Alaric in Greece: Zosimus, book 1, chapter 5 and Gibbon, chapter 30.

6. Claudian, De Bello Getica; Gibbon, chapter 30.

7. For the 408–10 campaigns: Zosimus, book 1, chapter 5; Sozomen, book 2, chapter 10; Gibbon, chapter 30. Analysis in P. Courcelle, Historie litteraire des grandes invasions Germaniques (Paris, 1964), pp. 45–55 and in J. F. Matthew, Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court 364–425 (OUP, 1975), chapter 11.

8. For the events of 455: Priscus, fr. 2, ed. Blockley (1982); Sidonius, Panegyric, Avitus pp. 441–50; Evagrius, book 2 , chapter 11; and Gibbon, chapter 36.

9. Life of St. Severinus, translated by G. W. Robinson, Harvard, 1914.

10. See the thesis in Bryan Ward-Perkins, The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization (2005). This is a powerful rebuttal to the modern arguments for basic continuity. The archaeological evidence shows a drastic localization of resources and decline of architectural standards in and around Italy during the fifth century.

11. See Ian Wood, The Merovingian Kingdoms 451–751 (Longman, 19740, pp. 28–32. Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English Peoples, ed. Judith McClure and Roger Collins (OUP, 1969) book 4, chapter 1.

12. See H. Chadwick, The Church and Ancient Society, pp. 658–74; J. C. Cavadini (ed.), Gregory the Great (Notre Dame, Indiana, 1995). For the events of 546: Procopius, Gothic Wars, book 4.

13. See A. H. M. Jones, The Decline of the Ancient World (Longmans, 1966) chapters 12 and 16. Also, Stephen Williams, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery (Routledge, 1997), chapters 8 (government), 9 and 10 (society and economy). It is now less certain that there was a bureaucratic master-plan by Diocletian himself, and how much Constantine contributed.

14. Alaric Watson, Aurelian and the Third Century (Routledge, 1996), pp. 191–6.

15. H. Chadwick, The Church in Ancient Society, chapter 28; Charles Odahl, Constantine and the Christian Empire (Routledge, 2004), chapter 7 and 11.

16. Gibbon, chapter 37 (part 4, pp. 27–31), quoting Victor Vitensis De Persecutione Vandalorum.

17. e.g. in J. Wallace-Hadrill, The Barbarian West, AD 400–1000 (Blackwell, 1967), comparing Catholic Francia to Visigothic Spain.

18. See Robert Browning, The Emperor Julian (Berkeley, 1976) and Gibbon, chapter 23 (part 2, pp. 330 ff.). Julian himself banned Christians from office or teaching, so he was as guilty of prescribing intellectual conformity as his predecessors; and in retaliation for his aggressive personal promotion of pagan shrines at Antioch Christians were suspected of arson at the local shrine of Apollo at Daphne. For the events of 468, see Procopius, Vandal Wars, book 1, chapters 5 and 6.

19. See Michael Grant, Fall of the Roman Empire. For the size of Egyptian monasticism c.300, see H, Chadwick, The Church and Ancient Society, pp. 401–2.

20. For Ablabius, see Odahl, Constantine and the Christian Empire, p. 248; for Rufinus, see S. Williams and G. Friell, Theodosius: the Empire at Bay (Batsford, 1994), p. 165. Zosimus, book 4, chapter 32 on Rufinus’ oppression and the plot to ruin Tatian.

21. Ammianus, book 16, chapter 8 on Constantius’ tyranny and paranoia; and see book 28, chapter 1 and book 29, chapter 1 on Valens.

22. Ammianus, book 3, chapter 6.

23. J. H. Ward, ‘The Notitia Dignitatum’, in Latomus, no. 33 (1974), pp. 397–434. For the probable size of the late Roman army before the collapse, see A H.M. Jones’ estimate of up to 600,000 in his The Later Roman Empire: a Social, Economic and Administrative Survey (3 vols, Oxford 1964), pp. 679–86. How battle-ready both the mobile ‘comitatus’ and the frontier ‘limitanie’ were is another matter. Ramsey Macmullen , Soldier and Civilian in the Late Roman Empire (Cambridge, Mass., 1963) disparages the latter. The latest arguments are in P. Heather, The Fall of the Roman Empire: a New History, pp. 63–5.

24. Zosimus, book 6, chapter 3; Orosius, book 7, chapter 40. See Heather, The Fall of the Roman Empire: a New History, pp. 115–16 citing the work of Georges Tchalenko in the 1950s on the prosperity of Late Roman Syria.

25. See Heather, The Fall of the Roman Empire: a New History pp. 199–202. Also see discussion of the numbers involved in Heather, Goths and Romans AD332–489 (Oxford, 1991). The most exaggerate figures were by some near-contemporaries but not witnesses. Augustine City of God, book 5, chapter 23) claims Radaigaisus had 80,000 followers in 405, civilians included; Orosius says 200,000 (book 7, chapter 23). On the 406 invaders, Procopius in the 540s reckoned there were 80,000 Vandals and Alans fighting Vandal Wars, book 1, chapter 5), but Victor De Persecutione Vandalorum, book 1 chapter 2) has this for the total Vandal population. St. Jerome later reckoned the Burgundians at 80,000 (including civilians), Chronicle 2389; Orosius (book 7, chapter 32) reckoned their warriors at 80,000.

26. Tacitus, Germania, book 7. chapter 1; S. Bassett, Origins of Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms, pp. 40–4. For the mass-abandonment of German settlements north of the Danube, see Heather, The Fall of the Roman Empire: a New History pp. 199–201; this would suggest that there were mass-movements of entire peoples into Roman territory either in the attested invasions or more gradually.

27. Heather, The Fall of the Roman Empire: a New History pp. 86–8 and 90–2. Ammianus (book 9, chapter 10 and book 11, chapter 12) makes it clear that in 355–6 the Alemanni had multiple leadership.

28. Gregory of Tours on Clovis suppressing rival kings, book 2, chapters 40–2.

29. See especially coverage of the 441–2 attacks on the East (Olympiodorus, Zosimus, Count Marcellinus) as assessed by Gibbon, part 3, pp. 343–53; and in general, Jordanes De Rebus Getica chapters 34–50. Sidonius Apollinaris also used extravagant language for the 451 attack on Gaul, though he was a poet. Roman writers had heard a story that Attila owned the ‘sword of Mars’ and boasted that it would give him world conquest.

30. The term was probably invented by the later seventeenth century French historian Du Cange.

31. Procopius, Vandal Wars, book 6, chapters 10–16.

32. Ammianus, book 26, chapters 1 and 4.

33. Ammianus, book 31, chapter 12.

Chapter 3

1. In general on 251–84: Zosimus, book 1; Zonaras, book 1; Aurelius Victor, De Caesaribus, translated H. Bird (Liverpool University Press, 1994), chapters 28–39; Gibbon, chapters 10–12. For the crucial extra problem posed by the aggressive, centralised Sassanian state and army, see M. H. Dodgeon and S. Lieu, The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars, AD226–363: a Documentary History (London, 1991), and review in Heather, The Fall of the Roman Empire: a New History, pp. 58–61

2. On 211–35: Cassius Dio, books 27–30 and Herodian, book 1, chapters 3–6. Severus’ advice to his sons: Dio, book 27 (edited E. Cary, Harvard U.P. 1955, pp. 271–2). Dio relates (ibid, p. 269) that Caracalla had already nearly attacked his father once so his disgrace would have been justifiable.

3. Tacitus, Annals, ed. M. Grant (Penguin, 1969) pp. 61–79. There is still the possibility that Germanicus would only have raided, not annexed the area, using war for prestige as Domitian did against the local Chatti in the 80s.

4. Dio, book 56, chapters 18–24, translated by Ian Scott-Kilvert, Penguin 1987.

5. Dio, book 71, chapters 33–4. See Anthony Birley, Marcus Aurelius: a Biography (Batsford, 1987), pp. 207–9.

6. See Fergus Millar’s analysis in The Emperor in the Roman World (Duckworth, 1977), section II, part 3, chapters 4 -6 on Imperial freedmen and secretaries.

7. See the character-portraits and individual incidents in Suetonius’ Lives of Caligula, Nero, and Domitian, translated by Robert Graves and revised by Michael Grant (Penguin 1979).

8. Victor Epitome, book 41, chapter 11; Zonaras, Epitome book 2, chapter 13 (for the parallel with Theseus’ story); Patrick Guthrie, The Execution of Crispus in Phoenix, vol., 20 (1966), pp. 225–31; Odahl, Constantine and the Christian Empire, pp. 205–7.

9. Suetonius, Claudius, chapter 10.

10. See Barbara Levick, Claudius (Batsford 199x), pp. 69–75. Claudius was following Augustus’ precedent after his grandsons’ deaths in putting age above genealogical closeness in the order of succession.

11. Gibbon, chapter 3 (part 1, pp. 73–8) , with its famous statement that the human race had its most happy and prosperous period under the Antonines.

12. See the non-contemporary and partly fictional biographies of the brothers in the Augustan History (a.k.a. Lives of the later Caesars), translated by Anthony Birley (Penguin, 1976) and Birley, Septimius Severus: the African Emperor, pp. 57 ff.

13. For the adoption by Elagabalus, see Lives of the Later Caesars, p. 299 For Severus and Pertinax, see Birley, Septimius Severus: the African Emperor, p. 208.

14. Ammianus, book 15, chapter 5 (Silvanus) and book 20, chapter 4 (Julian). In both cases they revolted for their own safety under an unpredictable and suspicious sovereign.

15. For Aetius and Gaudentius, see Gibbon, part 3, pp. 403–4.

16. For the events of 518, see John Malalas, Chronicle (trans. E. and m. Jeffreys and M. Scott, Melbourne, 1986), book 17; also book 16 on Anastasius. Analysis in Vasiliev, Justin the First, pp. 52 ff. Possibly Hypatius’ recent military incompetence counted against him. But would Justinian have succeeded Justin but for his luring his more experienced rival Vitalian into a murder-trap later? What if his foe Empress Euphemia (who loathed Theodora) had not died?

17. See Procopius, Persian Wars, books 22 and 23 with a caveat that he seems to be consciously echoing the description of the Athenian plague of 430BC in Thucydides. Analysis in William Rosen, Justinian’s Flea, Pimlico, 2006.

18. See Warren Treadgold, The Byzantine State and Society (Stanford University Press, 1997), pp. 226–7.

19. For the events of 550, see the final section of Procopius, Gothic Wars, book 4. For the course of the wars in the 540s, see Procopius, Gothic Wars, books 3 and 4 and analysis in J. A. S. Evans, The Age of Justinian, pp.151–80. It is unclear how much of the small number of troops sent to Italy in the 540s was due to Justinian’s fear of another massive Persian attack, as opposed to miserliness (Procopius’ disillusioned opinion) or losses in the plague.

Chapter 4

1. Constantius, Life of St. Germanus, chapter 12.

2. See Nicholas Higham’s work on Nennius , e.g. Arthur: Myth-Making and History (Routledge, 2002) His theory is that the writer presented Arthur as a national saviour for the chosen people in the manner of Joshua in the Old Testament. Hence the ascription of twelve victories over the pagans to Arthur, as for Joshua. For a sceptical view of the value of Welsh historians’ Arthur as a historical figure, see Oliver Padel’s work, e.g The Nature of Arthur in Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 27, 1994, pp. 1–31. The other main recent sceptic about the authenticity of the chronicle references to Arthur is David Dumville, e.g his 1977 article on Sub-Roman British History and Legend in History, vol.62, pp. 173–92. The thrust of recent arguments is that Arthur was a mythological figure, used post-800 for Welsh literary and political purposes.

3. Gildas, chapter 25. Gildas is also assessed by recent literary experts as writing Old Testament-influenced polemics, not history. See P. Hanning, The Vision of History in Early Britain (Columbia U.P., 1966).

4. R. G. Collingwood and J.N. Myres, Roman Britain, OUP 1932. The ‘Count of Britain’ theory was invented by U. Zimmer, a German historian, in 1896.

5. For the tomb, see the Chronicle of ‘Matthew of Westminster’ sub ann.1283, quoted by J. Lindsay in Arthur and His Times, p. 69.

6. Gallic Chronicle, sub ann. 441/2; ed. Mommsen 1882.

7. Gildas, chapter 25. Some recent historians speculate that Ambrosius not only won the battle of Mount Badon but was ‘the’ Arthur, the name being a nickname connected to the epithet ‘bear’.

8. See A. Pearson, Construction of the Saxon Shore Forts in British Archaeological Report no. 49 , Oxford 2003, and his The Roman Shore Forts: Defences of Coastal Britain (Tempus, 2000). On one crucial dig, see Barry Cunliffe, Excavations at Portchester Castle: I. Roman’ in Society of Antiquaries Research Report, no.32 (London, 1975). A general summary of current thinking is in Francis Pryor, Britain AD (Harper Collins, 2004).

9. Ammianus, book 27, chapter 8.

10. See Stuart Laycock, Britannia: a failed State (History Press, 2008) for an extreme recent view of the revival of tribal identities in post Roman Britain. It is certainly logical that the council that aided Vortigern the British king in inviting in the Saxon mercenaries c. 428 (Nennius) or 449 (Bede) was an equivalent of the Gallic council of the Roman provinces of Gaul extant in the fifth century, and, like it, representing the ex-tribal administrative regions.

11. See Geraint Jenkins, The Foundations of Modern Wales 1642–1780 (OUP, 1987), pp. 218–19, 241–5. The Welsh scholarly enthusiasm for reviving pre-Roman culture in the eighteenth century duly extended to a romanticised cult of the Druids, mainly due to Henry Rowlands, and in due course to Edward Williams (‘Iolo Morgannwg)’s revival of the Druidic-led eisteddfods.

12. See the most (but too?) hopeful interpretation of a peaceful fifth century cultural transition from British to Anglo-Saxon in Catherine Hill, The Origins of the English (Duckworth, 2003). The extinction of proto-Welsh as a language in England is surely an indication that more than a dominant Germanic elite arrived. English survived the takeover by such a linguistically alien elite in 1066.

13. Petra Dark’s work on specific agricultural sites (e.g. in the Fenland) where there was continuity in the fifth century, quoted by Francis Pryor in Britain AD, (Harper Collins, 2004).

14. See Garret Mattingley, An Imperial Possession: Britain in the Roman Empire.

15. Procopius, Persian Wars, book 2, chapters 22–3, and discussion in William Rosen,Justinian’s Flea Pimlico, 2006.

16. Annales Cambriae, sub ann. 518.

17. Gildas, chapters 27–32.

18. Harleian Mss. 3582 (Oxford), and P.C. Bartrum Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts (Cardiff U.P., 1966).

19. Gildas, chapter 27.

20. See John Morris, The Age of Arthur: Britain AD350–650, pp. 345 and 347–9.

21. Gildas, chapter 20.

22. Saxo Grammaticus, History, ed. P. Fisher and Hilda Davidson (Cambridge, 1979). The idea of a respectable long lineage for an aspirant dynasty ultimately came from Vergil’s Aeneid and its Trojan royal ancestry for the Caesars; the precedent for Saxo was probably Fredegar’s seventh century mythical early French royal line.

23. Trans. G. Garmondsway and J. Simpson, (London, 1968). The Scandinavian attack on Gaul referred to in Beowulf is dated at 524 in Frankish sources.

24. See Pat Southern, The Roman Empire from Severus to Constantine, (Routledge, 2001), pp. 138–43. The original details of Carausius are in Aurelius Victor, De Caesaribus (trans. H.W. Bird, Liverpool U.P., 1994). p. 43.

25. Bede, Ecclesiatical History of the English People, book 3, ch. 25.

26. Morris, Age of Arthur, p. 65.

27. For the ‘maximalist’ view of a genuinely powerful Irish High Kingship pre-560, see Morris, Age of Arthur, chapters 8 and 9. This is now discounted by modern Irish historians, e.g. T. O’Rahilly, as wishful back-dating by later chroniclers.

28. Morris, Age of Arthur, pp. 17, 19, and 66.

29. See John T. Koch, The Gododdin of Aneirin (University of Cardiff Press, 1997). Did the Votadini/Gododdin’s horse-using elite inherit a Hadrian’s Wall frontier cavalry unit, as suggested by Alistair Moffat?

30. See S. Williams and G. Friell, Theodosius: the Empire at Bay (Batsford, 1994), pp. 130–3.

31. See Prudentius, In Symmachum, book 1, chapters 1 and 2, Gibbon chapter 28, and discussion by J.T. Matthews, Western Aristocracies and the Imperial Court AD364–425, p. 204

32. Life of St. Germanus, chapter 12.

33. See Liber Pontificalis, vol 1, pp. 371–82.

34. Procopius, Secret History, book 8, chapters 22 and 24–6. In contemporary terms of supernatural belief, he claimed that the Emperor was possessed by a demon and wandered around the Palace at night without a head. But how much of this was stock rhetoric or later disillusion, not intended for publication?

35. Gibbon chapter 30.

36. See Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, sub ann. 893: edited by Michael Swanton (Dent, 1996), p. 84. Discussion in Richard Abels, Alfred the Great: War, Kingship and Culture in Ninth Century England (Longman, 1993), pp. 195–203.

Chapter 5

1. See Stephen Oppenheimer, Blood of the British (Constable and Robinson).

2. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ed. Swanton, pp. 77–8.

3. See H. Lamb, Climate From 1000BC to AD1000 in M. Jones and G. Dimbleby, The Environment of Man, British Archaeological Report 87 (Oxford 1953–65).

4. See Hesiod, Theogony, verses 214–16 and Pliny, Natural History book 6, chapter 36 for the western location of the ‘Hesperides’ (beyond the Canary Islands?) and Andrew Collins, Gateway to Atlantis (Headline, 2000), pp. 87–92 for the possible interpretation of this. The whole question of Roman coins or ships found in the New World remains controversial and unproven. For the interpretation of St. Brendan’s voyage, see Geoffrey Ashe, Land to the West: St. Brendan’s Voyage to America (Collins, 1962) and Tim Severin,The Brendan Voyage.

5. Their mythic land of origin, the ‘tlapallan’ (red land), could logically have been Cuba from its direction from Yucatan and the colour of the soil. The complex nature of Mexican and Maya myth makes it unclear if the founder cult-hero of the Toltecs around 900, who bore the same name as the god Quetzalcoatl, genuinely came from overseas or was a white man (?European) as interpreted by the Spanish in the sixteenth century.

6. See Nigel Davies, The Aztecs (New York, 1973), The Cambridge History of Latin America, vol. 1 (ed. Leslie Bethell, Cambridge 1980) and Hugh Thomas, The Conquest of Mexico (Hutchinson, 1993) chapter 1.

7. See N. Davies, The Toltec Heritage (Norman, 1980).

8. See Michael Cox, The Mayas (Thames and Hudson, 1999 edition).

9. See Tacitus, Annals, ed. Michael Grant (Penguin 1996) p. 327 for the Roman attack on Mon. Caesar also deplored Druidic practices.

10. David Keays, Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World (1999), and review by E. James, Did Medieval History Begin with Catastrophe? in Medieval Life vol. 12 (2000), pp. 3–6. Further evidence for unusual phenomena in the mid-530s, interpreted differently, is in M. Baillie, Exodus to Arthur: Catastrophic Encounters with Comets (London, 1991).

11. Procopius, quoted in ibid, and Antti Arjava, The Mystery Cloud of 536 CE in the Mediterranean Sources in Dumbarton Oaks Papers no. 59 (2006), pp. 73–93.

12. As n. 98; and see J.D. Gunn, The Years Without a Summer: Tracing AD536 and its Aftermath in British Archaeological Report International Series, (Oxford, 2006).

13. See Williams and Friell, Theodosius: the Empire At Bay, pp. 120–5 on the Emperor’s suppression of paganism; and Zosimus, book 1, chapter 4 on the iconoclastic purge by Cynegius.

14. Socrates, book 4, chapter 18; Gibbon, chapter 28 (part 3, pp. 129–32).

15. Original story in Theodoret, Historia Ecclesiastica, book 5, chapter 26. Now thought to be a myth.

16. Alan Cameron, Circus Factions: Blues and Greens in Rome and Byzantium (Oxford, 1976).

17. Procopius, Persian Wars, book 1, chapter 24.

18. Procopius, Secret History, chapters 1–5. See Averil Cameron’s discussion of Procopius’ attitude to Theodora in Procopius and the Sixth Century (Routledge, 1985), pp. 67–83.

19. Original source for the story of the closure: John Malalas, Chronicle, book 18, chapter 47. Discussed in Michael Maas, Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian (Cambridge U.P. ,2005), pp. 330–3.

20. See Psellus, Chronographia, translated (as Fourteen Byzantine Rulers) by E.R.A. Sewter (Penguin, 1966) pp. 254–8 for Psellus’ own account.

21. See Anna Comnena, Alexiad, trans. E.R.A. Sewter (Penguin 1969), pp. 174–80.

22. Constantine VII, De Administrando Imperio, ed. Romilly Jenkins (Dumbarton Oaks, 1967), chapters 1–13.

23. See H. Chadwick, The Early Church (Penguin, 1967), pp. 40–4, 81–2.

24. See Philip Rousseau, The Early Christian Centuries (Longman, 2002) p. 67; and discussion of the emerging definitive canon in pp. 64–9. One probably late second or early third century list, the ‘Muratorian Fragment’, left out 1 and 2 Peter and included the ‘Apocalypse of Peter’; Irenaeus, main proponent of a finalised list, probably excluded James and 2 Peter; the Roman Church at first left out the Epistle to the Hebrews (Chadwick, p. 81). The Shepherd of Hermas was eventually removed as not by an Apostle.

25. The centrepiece of the Gnostic (hidden) tradition was probably the collection of writings of which a copy was found hidden in a jar at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945. These ‘Nag Hammadi’ gospels (edited James Robinson, Leyden, 1977) and similar writings were more of a collection of wisdom literature about Jesus’ teachings than the letters of Apostles which were included in the eventually definitive canon. Modern scholars disagree over their dating, though some place the theologically non-Catholic Gospel of St. Thomas around 100. Their early date, and thus authenticity, as well as theological positions were seen as suspect by the mainstream Church Fathers (eg Irenaeus and Tertullian) by 180–200; their exclusion’was not the work of Constantine or the Council of Nicaea as Dan Brown et al. would have it.

26. See A.H.M. Jones, Decline of the Ancient World, p. 60.

27. See Odahl, Constantine and the Christian Empire (Routledge, 2004), p. 168 ff.

28. As stated enthusiastically by Athanasius.

29. See Lindsay, Arthur and His Times, pp. 70–87.

30. For the original myth of the burning of the library by Omar, see Gibbon, part 5, pp. 275–6 and J. Butler, The Arab Conquest of Egypt (Oxford, 1978). P. Hitti, History of the Arabs (Macmillan, 1970 edition, p. 66,) traces the story to Abd-al-Latif al-Baghdadi, who died in 1231; Gibbon cites ‘Abdulpharagius’.

31. Caesar does not mention the incident as including manuscripts at the relevant point in his Civil War (book 3, chapter 112). Recently, J. Empereur in Alexandria, Jewel of Egypt (2002) thinks it archaeologically clear that the building survived into the Empire, but was it extant as late as 391?

32. As recounted by contemporary writer Nicetas Chroniates.

Chapter 6

1. See Paul Lemerle, Invasions et migrations dans les Balkans depuis le fin de l’epoque romaine jusqu’au VIII siècle, in Revue Historique 21 (1994) pp. 261–308.

2. See Owen Moorhead, Justinian , 1994, pp. 145–53 on 540. For 559, see Agathias, book 5, chapter 14.

3. There were indeed Romano-Turkish diplomatic contacts from 568, at the latter’s initiative, halted by the Turks due to Roman co-operation with the Turks’ Avar enemies c. 576.

4. Treadgold, History of the Byzantine State and Society, p. 224.

5. John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, trans E.W. Brooks (1936), book 6, chapter 28.

6. M. Whitby, The Emperor Maurice and His Historian (Oxford, 1988); Treadgold, History of the Byzantine State and Society, pp. 232–5.

7. Origo Constantinis Imperatoris trans. J.C. Rolfe in his Ammianus Marcellinus (London 1964), book 6, chapter 32. Eusebius, Life of Constantine, book 4, chapter 6 trans. E.C. Richardson in NPNF, 2nd series, vol 1, (Grand Rapids, 1986).

8. See Whitby, The Emperor Maurice and His Historian (Oxford, 1988) pp. 24–7 and Treadgold, History of the Byzantine State and Society, pp. 235–6. For the disastrous reign of Phocas and its implications, see David Olster, The Politics of Usurpation in the Seventh Century (Amsterdam, 1993), pp. 1–21. The basic details of Phocas’ reign are in Theophanes, Chronicle, ed. H. Turtledove, (Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1982) pp. 1–8. Maurice’s Balkan campaigns are covered in detail by Theophylact Simocatta,History, ed. M. and M. Whitby, (Oxford, 1986) see book 6 on the 602 mutiny and books 9–10 on the overthrow of Maurice.

9. See Averil Cameron, The Empress Sophia , in Byzantion, vol. 45 (1975). pp. 5–21.

10. See Constance Head, The Emperor Justinian II of Byzantium (Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1972); and Theophanes, Chronicle, ed. Turtledove (Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1982) p. 62.

11. Theophanes does not mention the false Theodosius; see only local West Syrian chronicles. His survival is unlikely, but was rumoured as he was sent away to safety by Maurice in 602 and caught and killed separately from Maurice himself and his younger sons. For Priscus, see Patriarch Nicephorus, Short History, ed. Cyril Mango (Dumbarton Oaks, 1990), chapter 2 (relations with Phocas and Heraclius) and The Armenian History Attributed to Sebeos trans. R.W. Thomson (Liverpool Univ. Press, 1999) chapter 34, 113.

12. See Sebeos, chapters 32–3, and Theophanes, Chronicle, ed. C. De Boor (Leipzig, reprint 1972) p. 299.

13. Theophanes Chronicle, (ed. Turtledove), pp. 1–8.

14. See Sebeos, chapter 34; Vie de Theodore de Sykeon, chapter 153; and Walter Kaegi, Heraclius, Emperor of Byzantium (Cambridge U.P., 2003), pp. 58–83. The fact that Chosroes apparently turned down a request for peace on Heraclius’ accession shows that he was by then confidant enough to proceed with an outright war of conquest into Syria.

15. Theophanes, Chronicle (ed. de Boor), pp. 306–35; Nicephorus, Short History, books 12–18 (ed. Mango), pp. 57–67; Sebeos, 126–7; Kaegi, Heraclius, Emperor of Byzantium (Cambridge U.P., 2003), pp. 122–92. For the Arab attack on Iraq, see Hugh Kennedy,The Great Arab Conquests (Phoenix, 2007) pp. 98–138.

16. It may also have helped that traditionally Abu Sufyan, related to the Prophet and father of the main invasion-commanders of Syria (Yazid and Mu’awiya), owned property in Jordan and the general who attacked invasions of the Byzantine Levant seem to have been a total of around 30,000 at most, provided the oral sources (written down generations later) were accurate. See Hugh Kennedy, The Great Arab Conquests (Phoenix, 2007), pp. 66–97, and Walter Kaegi, Byzantium and the Early Islamic Conquests(Cambridge, 1992).

17. See Kennedy, The Great Arab Conquests, pp. 255–333.

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