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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.
When the darkness has been dispersed, our descendants can come again in the former pure radiance.” Petrarch can’t just be referring to an absence of good historical sources – he’s talking about his own era! Maybe the title “Alexander the Great” should really go to Alexander IV of Macedon, who was killed at age 14 and so never conquered, murdered, or oppressed anyone – truly an outstanding achievement matched by approximately zero other kings of the era.
[Warning: non-historian arguing about history, which is always dangerous and sometimes awful.
I will say in my defense that I’m drawing off the work of plenty of good historians like Bryan Ward-Perkins and Angus Maddison whom I interpret as agreeing with me.
As per Wikipedia: The idea of a Dark Age originated with the Tuscan scholar Petrarch in the 1330s.
Writing of the past, he said: “Amidst the errors there shone forth men of genius; no less keen were their eyes, although they were surrounded by darkness and dense gloom”.
The entire concept is complete and utter horseshit cobbled together by a deluded writer.
The term “Dark Ages” was first used in the 14th century by Petrarch, an Italian poet with a penchant for Roman nostalgia.
I’m probably an overly literal person, but whenever I think about dark ages, I think of the modern (and anachronistic for the period in question) association between light, population density, and economic activity: The Dark Ages in Europe were a time when things would have been more towards the North Korean end of that picture.The only time anyone ever gives anybody else grief over this is when they talk about the Dark Ages. And if this is really your true objection, let’s just agree to call it the Western European Dark Ages, as long as we can also agree it existed and was bad. I agree there are some concepts of the Dark Ages that mistakenly include some of the time after the recovery, and that Petrarch’s original version commits this error.But I think that there’s also a five hundred year period – more than long enough to count as a real historical age – that absolutely fits the bill. The term “Dark Ages” was invented by Petrarch – who wasn’t even a real historian – based only on his personal opinion.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.
And that the people I am disagreeing with are not historians themselves, but other non-historians trying to interpret historians’ work in a popular way that I interpret as wrong.