Wealth and the dark ages

As my last big book before turning to a beckoning pile of thrillers for the Christmas holiday next week, I started Peter Brown’s [amazon_link id=”069115290X” target=”_blank” ]Through The Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD[/amazon_link]. I know, I know. But it was strongly recommended to me and anyway is a beautifully produced book. I thought, too, that changing attitudes towards the wealthy on the eve of the Dark Ages could turn out to be an unexpectedly topical subject.

[amazon_image id=”069115290X” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD[/amazon_image]

I must say, though, that Chapter 1 has started in a comically school-masterly way: “In this chapter we will start with general considerations. We will deal first with the distinctive manner in which wealth and social status came together in Roman society. Then we will look at the way in which wealth was taken from the land. After this we will focus on a single century. We will attempt to sketch, inevitably briefly, the structure of upper class society in the Latin West in the fourth century AD….”

That ‘inevitably briefly’ did make me laugh out loud – this is a 759 page book. I will report back in due course. Meanwhile, one of my favourite novels ever evokes the post-Roman west brilliantly, Iain Pears’ [amazon_link id=”0099284588″ target=”_blank” ]The Dream of Scipio[/amazon_link]. His[amazon_link id=”009975181X” target=”_blank” ] An Instance of the Finger Post[/amazon_link] is better-known, but Dream of Scipio is absolutely superb.

[amazon_image id=”0099284588″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Dream Of Scipio[/amazon_image]

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