Day 10 – Ken here
Chapter 3 ends with a long digression into “Orientalism” versus western freedom – with an almost incoherent passage about – a national hero of Persia, Rustan (Rostam) but I’m not sure what the digression is supposed to point out except that “orientals” love to be obedient.
With Chapter 4 we hit some straight History with details of the reigns of Commodus and of Pertinax, and leave page after page of praise for the Age of the Antonines. More on Commodus tomorrow – but a note here – we’re entering wild territory. As our sources dwindle in the late 190’s and throught the middle 200’s we’ll be relying more and more on the Augustan Histories, which are, unfortunately, almost the only source material we have in literary form for much of the period. Relying on them is a lot like relying on National Lampoon or Mad Magazine volume of American History to figure out what happened in the American Revolution. In Gibbon’s day, they were still taken seriously – now, grown men (who also happen to be Late Antiquity historians) visibly wince if you casually drop the name “Augustan History” in conversation.