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Theodoric in Italy (Oxford University Press academic monograph reprints)



By: John Moorhead(Author)

Language: English

Genre: Biography

Publisher: Oxford University Press (21 Jan. 1993)

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The original title of the book: Theodoric in Italy (Oxford University Press academic monograph reprints)

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The career of Theoderic the Ostrogoth is one of the great success stories of antiquity. From being a ruler of a barbarian people wandering around the Balkans, he became king in Italy (493-526) and established one of the most powerful of the post-Roman states. Thanks to its ample documentation, the Italy of Theoderic allows detailed examination of a period on the frontiers of ancient and medieval, Roman and barbarian. Thanks to his success in attracting the attention of some of the major literary figures of the time, new light is cast on Boethius, Cassiodorus, and Ennodius when they are considered in the context of their connections with the government. Yet Theoderic's reign, so praised by contemporaries, ended amid tension and discord. In this study, Dr Moorhead considers whether the principles in accordance with which he governed entailed the impermanence of his achievement.

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  • By Arch Stanton on 16 February 2012

    This book is an excellent look at a subject who has not been covered in English for over a hundred years. Theoderic was the second Gothic king of Italy, and was remembered remarkably favorably given his situation. As a barbarian in Italy, the former heart of the empire, he should have been despised and hated. That he managed to keep the peace for over thirty years (he cannot be shown to have participated in any campaigns after his conquest) is due to his skill as a ruler. This man was previously covered by Hodgkins, whose work I stopped reading when he began to describe the Huns as "the Turanian type in its uglist form," whose "little black restless eyes gleam[ed] beneath their low foreheads" which "adorned their uncouth yellow faces." A little dated it is.The first chapter is called 'The Way to Italy' and is a basic narrative of Theodoric's career prior to his invasion of Italy. There is rather more known about his background than I expected and this manages to be fairly detailed for such a little-known period of history. The second chapter is called 'The Securing of the State' and deals withThe remaining chapters cover Roman/Goth interactions, religions battles, the conflict between the senate and the court at Ravenna, foreign affairs, and Theoderic's final years. Except for the last one these chapters are not chronological and offer an analysis of the entirity of his reign. For such a famous king it is surprising how little is known of him. The middle chapters seem somewhat padded out (or maybe I'm just easily bored with theological issues) and the final chapter doesn't really cover his death in the detail desired. Perhaps more could have been written on the state after his death. But these last are fairly minor issues. On the whole the book is a detailed look at a man who greatly impressed contemporaries and 18th Century writers looking for the origin of national characteristics. Yet he recieves fairly little press now, a fact remedied at least in part by this work.

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