Thom Dunn's Reviews > Western Civilization to 1500

Western Civilization to 1500 by Walther Kirchner
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message 1: by Valerie (new)

Valerie This reminds me of a trick question on a History of The English Language test. The question was 'Describe the Old English Language'. Of course I knew that there WAS no single language that could be described as 'Old English' preeminently. So I just derived a 'lowest common denominator', and went with that. But my answer, while true, was not accepted.

The notion of a unitary 'Western Civilization' in Europe, Western Asia, Northern Africa and adjacent areas has really always been a case of somewhat severe 'clumping'. I've been getting illumination about this from several sources lately. Herodotus tells stories from the point of view (mostly) of Greeks. But he doesn't argue (generally) that Greeks are somehow superior to say 'Libyans' (which seems, in his day, to have comprised most Mediterranean Africans). Indeed, he often argues that the Greeks differed more in language from their neighbors than in anything else, including ethnicity, politics, philosophy, and religious practices.

I also went into a discussion of Sutton Hoo recently, and found, to my surprise, that a lot of the artifacts in the graves are Byzantine, implying quite a bit of trade throughout Europe from the 'Eastern Empire'.

I suppose at some point I should begin to try to find sources to disentangle the notoriously labyrinthine history of Byzantium. And a good source would include information on exchanges between the 'Eastern' and 'Western' empires.

I've always found interesting the contention that Cleopatra's main goal was to establish just such 'Eastern' and Western' empires as later developed, and that the primary evidence that she had no conquest ambitions toward Rome is that, though she was a polyglot who knew the languages of all lands she meant to control, she never bothered to learn Latin.


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