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I love Late Antiquity

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Justin Swanton
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I love Late Antiquity

Post by Justin Swanton » Wed February 8th, 2012, 10:29 am

Hi everyone. I've always been fascinated by the theme of the fall of the Roman Empire, and when I started doing research for my novel I discovered the period to be much more interesting than Hollywood ever imagined it.

Growing up in Rhodesia had something to do with it: we were a white society making an economic success of a country, firmly in control, sure of ourselves; then facing a war we ultimately could not win, forced to give way to black rule, to reassess all our assumptions or sink into a futile bitterness. We reassessed.

The fall of Rome was a lot like that. The new barbarian rulers were not civilised like the Romans, however they did not try to destroy the imperial civilisation, but rather adapted it and adapted to it until they produced the culture of the Middle Ages.

There are idiosyncracies about this period that are unique. For example, the fact that the Western Imperial army survived the official fall of the Western Empire by nearly a century. Procopius, writing in the middle of the 6th century, describes Roman military units in the west that still guarded their old forts, passing on their traditions, standards, fighting methods, even clothing style, from father to son. Now is that a theme for a novel or what?

Anyone else here interested in the same period? It is contemporaneous with Arthur, though I think events on the mainland were much more dynamic (and far fuller of consequences for Western civilisation) than what was happening in Britain. Just my opinion. ;)

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sweetpotatoboy
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Post by sweetpotatoboy » Wed February 8th, 2012, 2:41 pm

Welcome Justin, from another Justin! Good to have you here.

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Post by Carla » Wed February 8th, 2012, 3:57 pm

Hello and welcome! I write in early seventh-century Britain, which grew out of / followed on from Late Antiquity. I agree, a fascinating period.
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Post by fljustice » Wed February 8th, 2012, 4:12 pm

Welcome, Justin! I study and write about early/middle 5th C Rome, the lead up to the fall in the West and beginning of the Byzantine in the East; but focus on the social and political rather than the military. Of course it's hard to separate the two! Just finished a biography on Stilicho and looking forward to a biography on Aetius due out in March. Times of transition are always fascinating. Best of luck with your novel.
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Post by LoveHistory » Wed February 8th, 2012, 4:17 pm

Hi Justin. Nice to meet you. My eldest son would disagree with you about the mainland happenings being more interesting. He wrote a book about Arthur during his summer vacation from school. Arthurian England is his ideal home. It used to be Victorian England. By the time he graduates from high school he may be in the first century. :D

An interesting time period, late antiquity. Plenty of things going on and I agree that it's a wonderful setting for a novel (or twenty).

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Post by Madeleine » Wed February 8th, 2012, 5:32 pm

Hi Justin and welcome.
Currently reading: "Unto us a son is Given" by Donna Leon

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Justin Swanton
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Post by Justin Swanton » Wed February 8th, 2012, 6:41 pm

Thanks for the welcome everyone.

fljustice - I'm interested in the social and political too, especially the social and political!

LoveHistory - Arthur is interesting (and does feature in my novel). But he is a well-worn path, whereas late fifth-century Gaul seems to be virgin fields for a writer - and so much was happening there. The confrontation between Syagrius and Clovis and the subsequent ten-year war between the peerless Breton cavalry allied to the Roman towns on the one hand, and the Franks on the other, is first-rate fictional material. I'm just surprised no-one (with one exception to my knowledge) has ever gone there.

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Post by DianeL » Fri February 10th, 2012, 1:35 am

Welcome, Justin. My own novel, "The Ax and the Vase" is Clovis' story, so your setting of course intrigues me. :)
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Post by LoveHistory » Fri February 10th, 2012, 3:13 am

[quote=""Justin Swanton""]

LoveHistory - Arthur is interesting (and does feature in my novel). But he is a well-worn path....[/quote]

I totally agree. Just can't convince my 12 year old Aspie about it. :D

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Justin Swanton
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Post by Justin Swanton » Fri February 10th, 2012, 3:23 am

Hi DianeL,

Yes, Clovis is an important character in my novel. The famous Vase of Soissons incident also appears there.

You might be interested in my illustration of him in my album (the Secret Meeting pic).

Good luck with your own novel! Where can I get a copy of it, by the way?
Last edited by Justin Swanton on Fri February 10th, 2012, 6:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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