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1. The World of Late Antiquity.

In this lecture you turn to the crisis of the 3rd century, when
Rome found its frontiers threatened on several fronts. Armies made and
unmade emperors with alarming regularity. The literature of the period
also reveals unmistakable feelings of despair and uncertainty.
2. The Crisis of the 3rd Century
No one could have predicted that Rome was about to raise up two
of its greatest rulers: Diocletian and Constantine. You learn how
Diocletian instituted a series of reforms that divided the empire into
east and west while also launching the last and fiercest persecution of
3. The New Empire of Diocletian
Turning to Constantine, you see how he extended Diocletian's
reforms. Among them, he gave the empire a new capital at Byzantium,
which he renamed Constantinople after himself. He also took the
surprising step of legalizing Christianity.
4. Constantine's Roman Revolution
Constantine's dynasty lasted through his sons and his nephew
Julian, who continued the path of reform. You examine administrative,
foreign policy, economic, and religious challenges during this period. In
religion, Julian attempted to restore the pagan cults.
5. The House of Constantine, 337363
In the five decades after Julian's death in 363, the Roman Empire
lurched from crisis to crisis. But it also raised up one of late antiquity's
greatest rulers in Theodosius, who dealt with the Goths and the
Persians and made Catholicism Rome's state religion.
6. The End of a Unified Empire
This lecture looks at the powers, duties, and responsibilities of
the emperors, together with the basic ideas that sustained the imperial
regime. Also examined are the people who advised the emperor and the
nature of the offices they held.

7. Ruling the Roman EmpireThe Imperial Center

You turn here to the vast administrative hierarchy by which Rome
accomplished the task of managing a state that extended from the
north of Britain to Mesopotamia. Concluding reflections examine how
effective Rome's government actually was.
8. Ruling the Roman EmpireThe Provinces
The barbarians were continually changing groups of peoples who
defy the popular view that they were ethnically distinct tribes that
invaded the empire in a coordinated fashion. This lectures asks: Who
were they? What were their relations with Rome? And how do we know
about them?
9. The BarbariansEthnicity and Identity
You take the Visigoths as a case study of barbarian interactions
with the Roman Empire. The Visigoths under Alaric famously sacked
the city of Rome in 410, but this was neither an invasion nor a
catastrophe to the city. Around 418 they settled in Gaul under an
imperial treaty.
10. Rome and the Barbarians
In addition to the Visigoths, the Burgundians and the Franks also
erected kingdoms in Gaul. As the 5th century unfolded, the Franks
overwhelmed the Visigoths and the Burgundians, creating the most
successful and long-lived of the barbarian kingdoms.
11. Barbarian KingdomsGaul
You examine the shifting fortunes of the barbarian kingdoms and
their continuing relations with Rome. In 406 the Alans, Sueves, and
Vandals crossed the Rhine, initiating a sequence of events that would
eventually establish the Visigoths in Spain and the Vandals in North
12. Barbarian KingdomsSpain and North Africa
Sent to Italy by Constantinople to restore order, the Ostrogoths
created a remarkable kingdom under Theodoric. In the turmoil after
Theodoric's death, the emperor Justinian invaded Italy, launching the

devastating Gothic Wars. Eventually defeated, the Ostrogoths were

supplanted by the Lombards.
13. Barbarian KingdomsItaly
This lecture steps back to survey the Eastern Roman Empire
when the Western empire was embroiled in barbarian kingdoms. The
long reign of Theodosius II (401450) saw a great codification of Roman
law, military successes in the Balkans, and continuing religious strife.
14. The Eastern Empire in the 5th Century
You come to the event notoriously known as "the fall of the Roman
Empire"meaning the empire in the West. In 476 the barbarian general
Odovacer overthrew the last of the Western emperors, Romulus
Augustulus, inauspiciously named for two of Rome's greatest leaders.
15. The End of the Western Empire
While Roman rule would never be restored in the West, the East
raised up an exceptional ruler, Justinian, one of Rome's greatest
emperors. His many reforms include the Corpus Iuris Civilis, perhaps
the most influential collection of law ever assembled.
16. The Age of Justinian, 527565
How did an obscure religious sect eventually take over the Roman
world? Christianity had two things that no pagan cult ever possessed: a
recognized body of authoritative texts, and an increasingly sophisticated
administrative system that gradually reached across the empire.
17. The Christianization of the Roman World
You examine how the Roman state shifted from persecution to
tolerance to promotion of Christianity. Several key pieces of legislation
built the church into the public and private life of the empire.
Christianity and the Roman state each benefited, with Christianity
benefiting more.
18. Christianity and the Roman State
It was by no means foreordained that the bishop of Rome,
eventually to be called the pope, would achieve preeminence in the

church. This lecture looks at how the bishops of Rome exercised their
office and interacted with other church leaders. You also survey some
significant early popes.
19. The Rise of the Roman Church
The emergence of Christian monasticism in Egypt is one of late
antiquity's most dynamic and characteristic achievements. Instead of
engaging the world, as the church and its leaders did, monks fled
normal society. This lecture focuses on the Desert Fathers and their
first followers.
20. The Call of the DesertMonasticism
Within a century of monasticism's origins, monks and nuns could
be found in large numbers in every corner of the Roman Empire. This
lecture explores how and why the monastic movement spread. In the
East the more solitary form of monasticism prevailed, whereas in the
West the communal form triumphed.
21. MonasticismSolitaries and Communities
The writings of the church fathers represent the last great age of
ancient literature. Among the Greek fathers, this lecture focuses on
Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory Nazianzus and looks at how they helped
create a vocabulary and structures of thought for the Christian faith.
22. The Church FathersTalking About God
Augustine was the most prolific author in ancient Latin letters,
pagan or Christian. In his long and colorful life he became one of the
most influential thinkers in the history of Christianity. In addition to
discussing Augustine, this lecture considers Origen, John Chrysostom,
Ambrose, and Jerome.
23. Patristic Portraits
Tertullian asked, "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?"
meaning, why should Christians concern themselves with classical
culture? You see how Christian writers adapted classical models in
genres from philosophy to poetry to history. You also study the changing
educational system in late antiquity.
24. "What Has Athens to Do with Jerusalem?"

Given the Old Testament prohibition against graven images, it was

by no means certain that Christianity would develop visual arts. But it
didin profusion. After Christianity gained legal status in the empire,
the arts exploded in a dazzling array of frescoes, mosaics, and
25. Graven ImagesChristianity's Visual Arts
Cities were culturally dominant in late antiquity. At the same
time, only 10% to 15% of people lived in urban areas. This lecture
examines the nature of citieslarge and small, central and remote
using careful reading of the evidence to extract information such as
population numbers.
26. The Universal in the LocalCities
You explore late antiquity's greatest cities, Rome and
attainments, and major buildings. During this time, Rome faced
challenge, shrinkage, and decay, while Constantinople was a great city
just coming into being.
27. Rome and Constantinople
You turn to Visigothic Spain and Merovingian Gaul. The Franks in
Gaul and the Visigoths in Spain were the most successful of the early
barbarian kingdoms. While the Visigoths eventually lost Spain to Berber
and Arab invaders in 711, the Franks flourished under the Merovingian
28. Visigothic Spain and Merovingian Gaul
Moving to the edge of the late antique world, you examine the
British Isles, which provide a fascinating example of how peoples who
were little if at all influenced by the Romans were drawn into the orbit of
European civilization by the Catholic Church.
29. Celt and Saxon in the British Isles
You shift to the part of the empire that lasted until 1453the
Eastern Roman Empire. Eventually it became a distinctive regime that
historians call the Byzantine Empire, developing a separate foreign

policy from the West and evolving into its own form of Christianity:
Greek Orthodoxy.
30. The Birth of Byzantium
In the early 8th century, Byzantium appeared headed toward the
same fate as the Western Roman Empire. But it was saved by a new
dynasty of rulers, including Leo III, who instigated iconoclasmthe
rejection of religious imagery. The end of the century saw the reign of
the remarkable empress Irene.
31. ByzantiumCrisis and Recovery
The rise of Islam is the most surprising development of late
antiquity. You begin with a survey of pre-Islamic Arabia. Then you turn
to Muhammad and his essential teachings, concluding with a look at
the situation in the Arabian peninsula on Muhammad's death in 632.
32. Muhammad and the Rise of Islam
After Muhammad's death, his associates fashioned a military
machine that swept from Arabia to North Africa. By the early 8th
century, parts of Persia and central Asia had also been overrun. This
lecture concludes with a look at some of the early caliphs, the leaders
considered to be Muhammad's successors.
33. The Rise of the Caliphate
How was wealth generated in the Roman imperial and postimperial worlds? How was that wealth distributed through society? The
most revealing aspect of material conditions in late antiquity is the vast
disparity of incomes between the wealthy and the ordinary citizens of
the Roman world.
34. Material Life in Late Antiquity
This lecture looks at social conditions in the regions ruled by the
Romans, the barbarian kingdoms, Byzantium, and the Caliphate. The
all-pervasive feature of society that was most pronounced and likely to
seem strangest to modern observers centered on entrenched ideas of
35. The Social World of Late Antiquity

At the end of the 8th century, how would the rulers of Byzantium,
the Frankish Empire, and the Caliphate have looked back on the world
of Diocletian, 500 years earlier? The answer says much about the
remarkable transformations of late antiquity. You conclude with
reflections on what makes this historical period distinct.
36. What Happened, and Why Does It Matter?