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Summary

Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire painted a portrait of the Roman Empire in a long, debilitating slide to oblivion, but now historians have reevaluated this picture to create a radically different understanding of the period now known as "late antiquity." Far from being a period of decline and fall, late antiquity marked one of history's great turning points.

These 36 half-hour lectures take you through five momentous centuries that link the classical world with the modern, beginning with Rome near its pinnacle of power and geographical extent and ending with the Byzantine Empire, the rise of Islam, and a succession of barbarian Christian kingdoms.

You'll explore key features of late antiquity including how this tripartite division occurred; the memorable rulers and religious leaders who led the way; and the architecture, visual arts, and literature of the period. You also study what it was like to live in the late antique world: How did people earn their livings?

What was the role of women in society? What distinguished the great cities of the era?

Nothing in Rome's previous experience compared with the ferment of late antiquity, which saw the unpredictable growth of new institutions, states, religions, and arts. After taking this course you will never think of the barbarians and the "fall" of Rome in quite the same way again. Your imagination will be alive with the incidents, innovations, and peoples of an exciting era that gave birth to us all: late antiquity.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2008 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2008 The Great Courses

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  • AlexIndia
  • 15-12-14

Drinking history from a fire hose!

What made the experience of listening to Late Antiquity: Crisis and Transformation the most enjoyable?

The fact that Dr. Noble gave such a detailed answer to the simple question of the fall of the Roman Empire. It took you from the end of the 2nd century to the 8th century, but to do this you have to jump around geographically. History, especially this period, reads like a novel that is telling 8 stories at once... sort of like A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones for you non-readers).

What other book might you compare Late Antiquity: Crisis and Transformation to and why?

I have listened to several of the lecture courses and for the most part, they have been well worth my while. Some others will say that they are too academic .... well duhhh! It's a lecture course! When I buy a lecture course, I get a lecture course... not a novel! This one was not like some of the other courses in that it MUST jump around to be able to tell the story. Thus it is not told in linear form but is told in modular form.

What does Professor Thomas F. X. Noble bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He knows far more than I could memorize. I loved the lecture but I will need to listen several more times so that the knowledge can begin to permeate into my brain.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

This question is not suitable for a lecture... Audible needs to set up a set of questions that is more tailored to the lectures rather than all being applied to novels.

Any additional comments?

I recommend this lecture but know that you will be drinking from a fire hose. If you like history and want the details, then buy this one. But I would recommend it not being your first lecture. I think you need to have a good foundation in Greek and Roman history before you jump into this one. Also it would be good to review some maps before listening so that you can get a good visual of where all the places are and who invades who.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Nicolas Cobelo
  • 03-11-17

Great speaker!

Excellent course to transition from ancient european history to the middle ages!

1- The World of Late Antiquity
2- The Crisis of the 3rd Century
3- The New Empire of Diocletian
4- Constantine’s Roman Revolution
5- The House of Constantine, 337–363
6- The End of a Unified Empire.
7- Ruling the Roman Empire—The Imperial Center
8- Ruling the Roman Empire—The Provinces
9- The Barbarians—Ethnicity and Identity
10- Rome and the Barbarians
11- Barbarian Kingdoms—Gaul
12- Barbarian Kingdoms—Spain and North Africa
13- Barbarian Kingdoms—Italy
14- The Eastern Empire in the 5th Century
15- The End of the Western Empire
16- The Age of Justinian, 527–565
17- The Christianization of the Roman World
18- Christianity and the Roman State
19- The Rise of the Roman Church
20- The Call of the Desert—Monasticism
21- Monasticism—Solitaries and Communities
22- The Church Fathers—Talking About God
23- Patristic Portraits
24- “What Has Athens to Do with Jerusalem?”
25- Graven Images—Christianity’s Visual Arts
26- The Universal in the Local—Cities
27- Rome and Constantinople
28- Visigothic Spain and Merovingian Gaul
29- Celt and Saxon in the British Isles
30- The Birth of Byzantium
31- Byzantium—Crisis and Recovery
32- Muhammad and the Rise of Islam
33- The Rise of the Caliphate
34- Material Life in Late Antiquity
35- The Social World of Late Antiquity
36- What Happened, and Why Does It Matter?

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • B. Bartosh
  • 15-10-17

Very good!

Fascinating lecture that demonstrates just how complex the changes from antiquity to the medieval world could be.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • horoscopy
  • 02-04-17

EXTREMELY interesting "course'...great speaker

What made the experience of listening to Late Antiquity: Crisis and Transformation the most enjoyable?

the professor is extremely interesting to listen to and sounds very enthusiastic himself over subject and is not your typical "boring, long winded speaker". his mind moves very fast so sometimes it is hard to keep up with his thoughts...but that makes it challenging and enjoy relistening to it over and over to capture all his interesting information and thoughts.

Any additional comments?

RECOMMEND HIGHLY

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel Albert Ogden
  • 20-07-16

Tough going

Professor noble knows his stuff, however these lectures are seriously compromised by two problems, one of which is personal while the other is theoretical.

First personal: the professor is afflicted by a variety of verbal ticks. He has a hard time ending the sentence without an "OK?" or a "you see?". There are many varieties of this issue and it required a great deal of discipline on my part to ignore them instead of getting perpetually irritated.

Then there's his whole theory of "what do we know?" He actually spent half a lecture on why we don't know anything about a certain period. One or two sentences would have sufficed.

Easily one of the most difficult of the 20 or so lectures that I've listen to from the GreatCourses.


5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Tom Tancredi
  • 26-11-15

so much on early catholism, not enough politics

Wish there was more on 5-6th century Gothic and European politics with Christianity. this was the Era where empires turned to kingdoms, and 7 to 8 sessions focused on early Church doctrine, which seemed too much in my opinion.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • James Tyrrell
  • 02-10-15

outstanding teacher and fascinating subject!

Professor Noble is an engaging teacher and storyteller. I highly recommend this and any lecture of his.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Matthew Curtis
  • 28-06-17

Great narrator

The best of all The Great Courses lectures I've listened to (most of the history selection).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • bewok
  • 07-06-18

brimming with essential knowledge

provides major insights and perspective for understanding how the Roman empire was slowly digested into the late antique, plus an enjoyable, energetic performance.

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  • meredith
  • 18-03-18

absolutely dynamite

had the biggest impact on my existing knowledge of all lectures I've listened to in the great courses series. thinking about listening to it immediately again. Also great lecturer. knew his stuff and very excited to talk about it.