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Arabic-Islamic Views of the Latin WestTracing the Emergence of Medieval Europe$
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Daniel G. König

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198737193

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198737193.001.0001

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Discovery of the Roman West

Discovery of the Roman West

(p.114) 4 Discovery of the Roman West
Arabic-Islamic Views of the Latin West

Daniel G. König

Oxford University Press

Chapter 4 analyses how Arabic-Islamic scholars acquired knowledge about the Roman West. Loosely speaking, they accessed the history of the Roman West in retrospect, working backwards from Byzantium to Republican Rome. In spite of Arab involvement in the Roman Empire, the earliest Arabic-Islamic images of the empire were confined to experiences with Byzantium in the century preceding the rise of Islam. The Arabic-Islamic expansion and the assimilation of Oriental Christian knowledge gave rise to the earliest systematic expositions of Roman history and the development of an early standard narrative that only occasionally contained details about the Roman West. Access to Latin sources in al-Andalus of the ninth and tenth centuries introduced new information about the western dimension of the Roman Empire. Initially restricted to Western Muslim scholars, this knowledge gradually diffused to the Middle East where it became part of late historiographical compendia.

Keywords:   Roman history, Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Roman West, al-Andalus, Middle East, Ancient history, Romans, exchange between al-Andalus and the Middle East

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