The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila, by Michael Maas, editor
Cambridge / New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Pp. xxxii, 486. Illus., maps, chron., notes, biblio., index. $36.99 paper. ISBN: 1107633885.
How Bad was Life in the Age of Attila?
Prof. Maas (Rice) and nearly two dozen of his colleagues explore the ancient world from about AD 375 to about AD 525, a period in which the most memorable historical figure is Attila the Hun (fl.
“The scourge of God” and most ironically barbaric of all the barbarians.
The 23 essays in this volume are grouped into three parts.
The first part, “The Rome Empire,” includes nine essays on the state of empire and the wider Roman world in the period. Individual essays give us an overview of the era, and then explore subjects such as
patterns of rural and particularly
urban life, military institutions, economics, dynastic politics,
law, and “Romanness,” though oddly omitting religion.
The second part,
the World Around Rome,”
had eleven essays that examine the origin of the
Huns and other “Barbarian” peoples, the nature of Hunnish and “barbarian” settlement in general, patterns of migration, the Vandal settlement of North Africa, and the Hunnish impact on SassanidPersia.
The final part, “Religious and Cultural Transformation,” has seven
Several of these address
various aspects of Christian such
as asceticism and monasticism, doctrinal questions, and anti-paganism. There are also essays on the
state of the Jews in the Empire, and
on the contemporary understanding of geography and the other discussing the nature of our sources.
naturally tend to have a narrow focus, taken together they make for a surprisingly comprehensive and interesting look at the history of what Maas calls “the long fifth century.” As these essays reflect the most recent scholarship, they offer some surprises,
notably the well documented
compared to the other invaders of the Roman world, Attila and his Huns were
nor the cruelest, despite their received reputations. While written for the specialist, this would make enjoyable reading even for the amateur student of late Antiquity.
A volume in the series “Cambridge Companions to the Ancient World, while
The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila
written for the specialist,
would make enjoyable reading even for the amateur student of late Antiquity.
The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila, is also available in hardback, $99.00, ISBN 978-1-107-02175-4, and as an e-Book.
Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor
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