Chapter 4: Physiologia in Early Medieval Times
Chapter 4Physiologia in Early Medieval Times
Looking at the Antique World, we are caught between the regretful contemplation of ancient ruins and the excited acclamation of new growth.
– Peter Brown, The World of Late Antiquity: 150–750 AD (1971)
We now come to a period loosely called “Late Antiquity.” There are various specifications for this historiographic catchphrase. The Oxford Centre for Late Antiquity (http://www.ocla.ox.ac.uk/), for instance, describes this time as follows: “‘Late Antiquity’, the period between approximately 250 and 750 CE, witnessed massive cultural and political changes: the emergence of the world’s great monotheistic religions, rabbinic Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; the development, and eventual destruction, of the Sasanian empire – the last Persian empire of Antiquity; the Germanic conquest and settlement of the western Roman empire; the transformation of Byzantium into a militarised and christianised society.” Other scholarly sources define the time-period more narrowly (cf. Brown, 1971; Johnson, 2012; Scourfield, 2007). Generally, this era designates the transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages. It was a turbulent age, marked broadly by the reorganization of the Roman Empire into the “West” (centered at Rome) and the “East” (centered at Byzantium/Constantinople), the eventual fall of the Roman Empire in the West, the decline of learning in the Christian West, and the preservation of classical knowledge from the Hellenistic realm in the Islamic East.
The rise of Christianity led to the dominant belief that all secular knowledge, including Greek philosophy (such as...
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