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
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2001 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2001 The Great Courses
I have listened to many Great Courses and am a huge fan. But this was a very poor course in my opinion. It is a mixture of historical narrative and a discussion of the early development of Christianity, and these two components were not integrated at all. Morever the historical narrative did not across very well as a story and I did not find myself engaging at all with the main protagonists. I persevered to the end but was really fed up with it in the latter stages. I was frustrated that I didn't get a good feel for this topic so I decided to look for something else and found the Modern Scholar course, also on audible, "Empire of Gold" by Thomas Madden. I am now part way through this and it is really good -- what a contrast! I strongly recommend chosing that rather than Professor Harl's course.
Good overall and very interesting but a bit sparse on the detail. The book could had done with being a lot longer. That said, still worth a listen.
"Traditional History at it's Best"
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.
"Another piece of the puzzle"
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
No - will try another soon.
No - it was quite long. It was in two parts.
Comprehensive integrative clear
It's a lecture series, so this isn't very relevant.
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.
I really loved this course. The narrator has a way of giving his information with ease and without boring you to death. It's nice being able to learn about a historical subject without wishing that you had something more interesting to do.
"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.
"it's as if he were paid by how fast he could speak"
There were many interesting facts presented, but it was such a jumble that I felt like I was being thrown balls of yarn for me to unravel myself, but without the time to do so before he moved onto another topic.
Possibly. It might be better to get some solid texts on specific eras of the Byzantine world than to try and eat the entire empire whole. It proved an indigestible lump in this format.
His pronunciations were all over the place. There was no rhyme or reason to them. He didn't follow the modern Greek pronunciation, certainly not the Byzantine Greek, nor Oxford pronunciation, or even standard American English. His pronunciation of words like caliph, European, and many more were difficult to accept without mental effort.
Far too broad a topic to be a movie. People would be born and then slain horribly by their relatives every 5 minutes.
It's as if he were given a period of time and only moments to sketch the events. Imagine a man told to draw birds in a nearby park. He half draws them before they fly off and then he starts on another and then it flies off then one comes back and he tries to sketch over his last version of the bird. Many chapters are exhausting and you feel like you don't know where the thread of one topic ends before another begins. He also drops in bits of trivia with little explanation - not enough to make this a good read for collecting trivia and just enough to make you hit rewind to confirm what you heard.
"Byz 101 (and deeper)- huge personal gain"
5 stars for many aspects that were both well-conceived and well-executed. If you knew you were missing from your American education vital components of classical and antique history - because the Byzantine empire was glossed over - you came to the correct lecture set. The professor seems to have made it a mission to speak at the equivalent of 90 (substantive) words a minute, so get ready to pause and reverse innumerable times. I view that as a mark of quality, and think many would agree. Also has stimulated the need to dive into other sources, and maybe the one criticism i would make is that prof did seems not to have felt the need to cite sources as much as he should have- academic arrogance might be the culprit. If so, again, quality overall outweigheth.
The professor possessed knowledge of his subject and the narration was entertaining. The problem is that the course was too short. I think that it had gaps as it tried to cover 1000 years in 24 lectures
"Not good for listening in the car"
I have just about finished this course, listening to it in my car. Of course this is never ideal, since it is impossible to pay full attention to the lecture, and you can't easily look up something you don't understand or look at a map. Nevertheless, I feel that I have learned quite a lot from other lectures, but I'm coming away from this one with only the most basic improvement in my understanding of Byzantium.
One really annoying verbal trait of this professor: He pronounces the word "European" in three syllables as "Europeen". Every time he does this (and it's a lot) it interrupts my attention and I forget what he's talking about.
"Harl is a joy to listen to"
Professor Harl is easy to listen to and clearly knows his subject. The Roman East gets so little air time in most history courses, so this one ably fills a hole in how most of us are educated. My only beef with all The Great Courses on Audible is the lack of any supplementary materials - at least a map would be useful. However, this is a great value so I wouldn't complain too much
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