Sailing from Byzantium: How a Lost Empire Shaped the World
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SAILING FROM BYZANTIUM
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SAILING FROM BYZANTIUM Publishers Weekly,In this deft synthesis of scholarship, classicist Wells shows how the Byzantines exerted a profound influence on all neighboring civilizations. Concrete examples still exist that testify to that influence-such as Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy-but this book focuses on the more ineffable products of culture that traveled from the Bosporus, influencing Western, Islamic and Slavic cultures. The story of Renaissance Europe's embrace of pagan learning is familiar, but Wells tells of a fascinating intellectual circuit that begins with the transmission of Greek learning to the newly powerful Arabs and leads to Averro?s's commentary on Aristotle, Aquinas's use of this commentary and finally to the Byzantine Cydones's translation of Aquinas in the 14th century. By then, the dominant Orthodox movement of Hesychasm deemed pagan learning incompatible with Christian faith, forcing many humanists to the Catholic West. Wells devotes much space to the Hesychasts and blames them for this betrayal of Greek heritage and for weakening the empire before its final collapse in 1453, but duly credits them with shaping the Russian Orthodox Church and positioning Moscow as the Third Rome. This volume, which contains a useful glossary of historical figures, detailed maps and a time line, is a superb survey of Byzantium's many cultural bequests. (July 25) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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