|About the Book|
While this book is aimed at academicians, it has a lyrical quality that appeals to the lay reader, too. It is a study of the Roman world in the first five centuries after Christ, and it tells the story of the historically improbable oddity of how aMoreWhile this book is aimed at academicians, it has a lyrical quality that appeals to the lay reader, too. It is a study of the Roman world in the first five centuries after Christ, and it tells the story of the historically improbable oddity of how a religious cult centered on an obscure construction worker living in the backwaters of a great Empire supplants the sophisticated Classical European religious worldview that had been embraced for thousands of years. Of particular interest to me was the story of Julian the Apostate, the last Roman emperor to openly embrace paganism. The author generously devotes an entire chapter to this remarkable personage. Although Julian was a nephew of Emperor Constantine and was raised as a Christian, he renounced the new religion when he became an adult and embraced the gods of his fathers. Because Julian ruled the Empire for a scant three years, he had insufficient time to turn back the tide of religious history, and we are left to wonder how things might have been different if he had ruled for 30 years instead. The authors sympathetic portrayal of this little-known Emperor lent a touching air of wistfulness to the sad story of the clash of Christianity with Paganism. This book is a fascinating read, for it reveals in an evenhanded way the pagan side of things and gives the reader a balanced perspective of an historical era that is generally not well understood.