The section on the plague was really fascinating because I had no idea that this had happened. The Black Death was much more well known nearly 1000 years later in the 14th century, but it seems to be more devastating in the 500’s.
Also of interest was the relationship between the emperor Justinian and his general Belisarius. The lack of trust because of Belisarius’ victories is sad because what might have been?
While almost certainly apocryphal, his last words “You have won, Galilean” are a tidy segue from Paganism to Christianity and he was right that paganism was pretty much dead by then. I’ll go a step further and say he does serve as a reminder of political religious extremism and also as to what Tolstoy says is the inability of a single person to influence the inevitable tide of history.
Constantine is covered next, and it’s interesting how he used religion – religion that was new and fracturing – to his administrative advantage. This seems really difficult to pull off since the world at the time was very chaotic and yet he was able to bring about order through clever maneuvering and always knowing which way the wind was (really) blowing. He also played a large role in the Nicene Creed.
Having listened to the fantastic podcast Lars did while writing the book I’ve been long wanting to read this book.
The book starts with Diocletian and his splitting of the Roman empire in half (then quarters). Funny how this division (of halves) still remains to this day nearly 2000 years later. Interesting too was how he was less a man of the common people and more ‘godlike’: religion = state, for stability.