Decline, Fall, and Transformation
By Clifford Ando
Journal of Late Antiquity, Vol.1:1 (2008)
Abstract: The essay offers a series of perspectives on the historiography of Late Antiquity. It relates popular indices of continuity, change, and decline to particular systems of moral and aesthetic evaluation. Most pointedly, it asks what is bracketed, and what presumed, by cultural-historical study in this period, and suggests three failings in the literature: too much credence is often granted to interested ancient claims to innovation; modern analytic categories often are redescribed as the motivating polarities of ancient discourse; and ancient interests (for example, in ethnicity) are perforce remobilized in modern study. All three moves support particular, often dubious periodizations of the classical and late antique and require on-going interrogation.