Dark Ages

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An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it. ~ James A. Michener
It has been so written, for the most part, that the times it describes are with remarkable propriety called dark ages. They are dark, as one has observed, because we are so in the dark about them. ~ Henry David Thoreau

Dark Ages is a term which arose with expressions of the Italian scholar Petrarch as a sweeping criticism of the character of Late Latin literature, later expanded to refer to the transitional period between Roman times and the High Middle Ages; it has also since become more broadly applied to any period to be denoted as one of ignorance and confusion.


  • Between the far away past history of the world, and that which lies near to us; in the time when the wisdom of the ancient times was dead and had passed away, and our own days of light had not yet come, there lay a great black gulf in human history, a gulf of ignorance, of superstition, of cruelty, and of wickedness. That time we call the dark or Middle Ages. Few records remain to us of that dreadful period in our world's history, and we only know of it through broken and disjointed fragments that have been handed down to us through the generations.
    • Pyle, Howard (1888). Otto of the Silver Hand. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, p. 1.
  • If it was dark, it was the darkness of the womb.
  • The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.
  • An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it.
  • Those who suggest that the 'dark ages' were a time of violence and superstition would do well to remember the appalling cruelties of our own time, truly without parallel in past ages, as well as the fact that the witch-hunts were not strictly speaking a medieval phenomenon but belong rather to the so-called Renaissance.

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