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This sleep of forgetfulness will not last for ever. Maybe the real Golden Age of Athens was in 40,000 BC, when Neanderthals on the rocky plain that would one day become Athens hunted mammoths in carefree abandon, loving life and being at one with nature and the changing seasons.
From The Muslims of Andalusia: I get that this is just a pun I’m taking too seriously.
Some people have used it this way, but this is neither how the term’s original inventors intended it, nor how a majority of modern people (historian or otherwise) think of it.
As mentioned above, the idea of a Dark Age was first developed by the late medieval/early Renaissance thinker Petrarch.
Part of the evidence for the “absence of sources” claim is that the first use of the exact term “Dark Age” may come from by the 16th-century writer Caesar Baronius, who had a more specific time in mind, 888 – 1046. In order to avoid this kind of speculation, I think of history as being along at least two axes: goodness and impressiveness.
He wrote: But Baronius was writing well after Petrarch, his “Dark Age” was very different from the one we know today (only used to refer to a 150-year period in the Church), and in the same sentence that he mentioned dark = few writers, he also calls it “harsh”, “barren of good”, “base”, and full of “abounding evil”. Alexander may or may not have been a good person, but he was certainly an impressive one.
Very few of the historical terms we use were invented by professional historians, and they are all necessarily based on that person’s opinion that it correctly describes the thing being described.
I await people admitting that there was no Cold War, because who is George Orwell to think he can just name an era based on what he feels it was like? Historical periods get their names from random individuals reflecting on them; the names catch on if people agree that they fit. The term “Dark Ages” was originally just supposed to mean that there aren’t many sources describing it, not that the era was bad Nope, wrong.
Christian writers, including Petrarch himself, had long used traditional metaphors of ‘light versus darkness’ to describe ‘good versus evil’.
Petrarch was the first to give the metaphor secular meaning by reversing its application. The “Time There Were Five Whole Emperors In A Row, None Of Whom Were Sadistic, Perverted, Or Insane, Which As Responsible Historians We Cannot Officially Call “Good”, But Which By The Standards Of Ancient Rome Is Seriously Super Impressive”. But if you only challenge the term “Dark Ages”, I feel like you’re doing the opposite of this suspension-of-judgment. ” you’re putting yourself in a position to judge historical eras, saying that maybe some of them were dark and others weren’t, but this particular one wasn’t.
People are now talking about how you’re a gullible rube if you still believe in a so-called “Dark Age”, and how all the real intellectuals know that this was a time of flourishing civilization every bit as good as the Romans or the Renaissance. The period from about 500 to about 1000 in Christian Western Europe was marked by profound economic and intellectual decline and stagnation relative to the periods that came before and after it. And not even all of Europe – not in the Eastern Roman Empire, not in al-Andalus… Have you debunked the so-called Great Plains narrative and proven that its believers are credulous morons?
This is incompatible with the “no such thing as the Dark Ages” claim except by a bunch of tortured logic, isolated demands for rigor, and historical ignorance. I wonder if these people interrupt anyone who talks about the Warring States period with “actually, there were only warring states in China. Or have you just missed that there’s a natural and well-delineated area suitable to be called “Great Plains” that doesn’t include your supposed counterexamples?
In around 1343, in the conclusion of his epic Africa, he wrote: “My fate is to live among varied and confusing storms. Look, a lot of history sucked, and moral judgments are hard.