Oriental Domination Prevailed and Caused the Downfall of the Empire
The false stereotype of Orientalism involves outdated and wrongful racial assumptions and prejudices. An example of this false Orientalist stereotyping is the essay by Tenney Frank, “Race Mixture in the Roman Empire,” in which he argued that Rome was destroyed by the rising influence of the “Orient.” Some inter-group tensions and ethnic stereotyping existed in late antique Latin and Greek literature. Individuals and masses and leaders from the Middle East did not swamp and drag down and ruin the Roman Empire. In fact, talented leadership came out of the dynamic Middle Eastern provinces in many fields and professions and succeeded in rising to prominence by benefiting from the existence of the empire to travel and to communicate. Ambitious persons strove to compete and fulfill their ambitions in respective ways of life. Some of them helped to preserve the empire and its literature. [See Frank, Tenney. “Race Mixture in the Roman Empire,” American Historical Review 21 (1916): 689-708 and Duff, A. M. Freedmen in the Early Roman Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. 1928. Esp. pp 8-11]
“The 7 Survival Habits of Byzantium.” The New York Times Ideas Blog. Link to resource (accessed March 9, 2010).
Walter E. Kaegi
Professor of History, University of Chicago
1. Explain why “Orientalism” is correctly characterized as a false stereotype.
2. List many ways that the cultural diffusion within the Roman Empire would enhance the development of the empire.