J. B. Bury

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John Bagnell Bury (16 October 18611 June 1927) was preeminent historian and expert on Roman history.


Justinian I
  • Not long after his (Justinian) accession, he reaffirmed the penalties which previous Emperors had enacted against the pagans, and forbade all donations or legacies for the purpose of maintaining "Hellenic impiety,"...by making the profession of (Christian) orthodoxy a necessary condition for public teaching Justinian accelerated the extinction of "Hellenism." ... This event had a curious sequel. Some of the philosophers whose occupation was gone resolved to cast the dust of the Christian Empire from their feet and migrate.
  • The Macedonian people and their kings were of Greek stock, as their traditions and the scanty remains of their language combine to testify.
    • A History of Greece to the Death of Alexander the Great, 2nd ed. (1913).

The Idea of Progress: An Inquiry Into Its Origin and Growth (1921)[edit]

  • Science has been advancing without interruption during the last three of four hundred years; every new discovery has led to new problems and new methods of solution, and opened up new fields for exploration. Hitherto men of science have not been compelled to halt, they have always found ways to advance further. But what assurance have we that they will not come up against impassable barriers? ...Take biology or astronomy. How can we be sure that some day progress may not come to a dead pause, not because knowledge is exhausted, but because our resources for investigation are exhausted... It is an assumption, which cannot be verified, that we shall not reach a point in our knowledge of nature beyond which the human intellect is unqualified to pass.
    • Introduction
  • The doubts that Mr. Balfour expressed nearly thirty years ago, in an Address delivered in Glasgow, have not, so far, been answered. And it is probable that many people, to whom six years ago the notion of a sudden decline or break-up of our western civilisation, as a result not of cosmic forces but of its own development, would have appeared almost fantastic, will feel much less confident to-day, notwithstanding the fact that the leading nations of the world have instituted a league of peoples for the prevention of war, the measure to which so many high priests of Progress have looked forward as meaning a long stride forward on the road to Utopia.

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