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The Last Olympiad by Aleksander Krawczuk

The Last Olympiad by Aleksander Krawczuk

A turning point in history, the six years 389-395 AD in the Roman Empire saw many important historical developments:

the destruction of the temple of Serapis in Alexandria

the end of the Olympic games

the first excommunication of an Emperor

the first murder of an emperor at the hands of his Germanic bodyguards

the last significant rebellion of pagans against Christian rule

the Edict of Theodosius: an imperial edict prohibiting the practice of any and all pagan religions

Aleksander Krawczuk, the best-selling European author of books on Greaco-Roman antiquity, paints for us a rich and highly readable panorama of the intellectual life of Greeks and Romans of the period. Here they are, debating topics ranging from bathing and chariot races to national character and demon possession:

the doctors of the Church: Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine

the caustic and dysphoric historian Ammianus Marcellinus

three important historians of the Church

the rhetorician Libanius

the defenders of the Alexandrian Serapeum

the author of a rabid anti-Christian diatribe which miraculously survived to our times ("The Lives of Sophists")

and the quirky and mysterious figure of "Jorge Luis Borges of ancient Rome" ("Authors of Imperial History")

Quoting richly from various curious, entertaining, and beautiful texts from the period, Professor Krawczuk gives us a broad intellectual survey of the Roman Empire and its leading personalities at the time of the last rebellion of the pagan religion against Christianity.

Aleksander Krawczuk (died 2023) was a scholar, a professor at the Jagiellonian University and a best-selling European author of books on Graeco-Roman antiquity with an international cult following. His intimate and conversational style allowed him to talk about complicated subjects in an accessible way without dumbing them down in the process. His books remain in print in many languages across Europe. And now they finally appear in English.

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