Hellenism in Late Antiquity is a book by Glen W. Bowersock, a renowned historian of the ancient world. The book is based on the Jerome Lectures that he delivered at the University of Michigan and the American Academy in Rome in 1989. The book explores the persistence and transformation of Hellenism in the Mediterranean region from the third to the seventh century CE, a period marked by the rise of Christianity and Islam.
Bowersock argues that Hellenism, or the culture and identity of the Greek-speaking world, did not disappear or decline with the end of classical antiquity, but rather adapted and interacted with the new religious and political realities of late antiquity. He examines various aspects of Hellenism, such as literature, philosophy, art, archaeology, epigraphy, and law, and shows how they reflected and influenced the changing social and cultural landscape of late antiquity. He also discusses the role of Hellenism in the formation of early Christian and Islamic thought and practice.
The book is divided into six chapters, each focusing on a specific theme or region. The first chapter deals with the concept and definition of Hellenism in late antiquity, and its relation to other terms such as paganism, classicism, and orientalism. The second chapter explores the literary culture of late antique Hellenism, especially its use of rhetoric, allegory, and myth. The third chapter examines the philosophical tradition of late antique Hellenism, particularly its engagement with Neoplatonism, Christianity, and Islam. The fourth chapter analyzes the artistic expression of late antique Hellenism, especially its iconography, symbolism, and style. The fifth chapter investigates the archaeological evidence of late antique Hellenism, especially its urban development, monumental architecture, and religious cults. The sixth chapter studies the legal system of late antique Hellenism, especially its codification, interpretation, and application.
The book is well-written, erudite, and original. It offers a comprehensive and nuanced overview of Hellenism in late antiquity, drawing on a wide range of sources and disciplines. It challenges some common assumptions and stereotypes about Hellenism in late antiquity, such as its decline, marginalization, or opposition to Christianity and Islam. It also highlights some lesser-known or neglected aspects of Hellenism in late antiquity, such as its diversity, creativity, and resilience. It is a valuable contribution to the field of late antique studies, as well as to the broader history of Hellenism.
The book is available for download in PDF format from various websites[^1^] [^2^]. It can also be purchased online or from bookstores[^3^].
The book has received positive reviews from scholars and critics, who have praised its breadth, depth, and originality. For example, the Times Literary Supplement called it \"a formidable achievement\" and \"an elegant and powerfully original book\" [^1^]. The New York Times Book Review commended Bowersock for giving \"a new unifying perspective for the turbulent religious history of four centuries\" [^2^]. The Classical Review also lauded the book as \"the most comprehensive and ambitious study of the problem of Hellenic identity in Byzantium\" [^3^].
The book is not without its limitations and challenges, however. Some readers may find the book too concise and dense for its scope, as it covers a long and complex period in only 109 pages. Some may also question some of Bowersock's interpretations and assumptions, such as his definition of Hellenism, his use of sources, and his treatment of Christianity and Islam. Some may also wish for more comparative and contextual analysis of Hellenism in relation to other cultures and regions of late antiquity.
Nevertheless, the book is a remarkable achievement that deserves to be read by anyone interested in Hellenism, late antiquity, or the history of culture and religion. It is a stimulating and provocative work that challenges us to rethink our understanding of Hellenism and its legacy in the Mediterranean world. aa16f39245