Bjornlie, M. Shane. “Gregory of Tours and the Decem Libri Historiarum between Religious Belief and Rhetorical Habit.” Studies in Late Antiquity,
vol. 4, issue 2, 2020, pp. 153-184.
Abstract: This study examines the rhetorical structure of the Decem libri historiarum of Gregory of Tours. Whereas previous studies have drawn attention to Gregory's habit of pairing parallel narrative threads for
the purpose of comparing what he considered to be appropriate and inappropriate behavior, the inconsistencies in that rhetorical strategy (e.g., lack of criticism for Clovis' parricidal policies of expansion and uncharacteristic moments of
praise for Chilperic, the “Herod and Nero” of Gregory's lifetime) have been attributed to Gregory's penchant for the ironic or satirical. This study takes the view that Gregory purposefully constructed complicated, and at times
contradictory, profiles for the dramatis personae of his history in order to generate a sense of suspended judgment for which he would become the ultimate arbiter at the end of an individual's life. This style of narrating the
lives of individuals made Gregory himself a dramatis persona in his own history by investing him with absolute interpretative authority and authority over the construction of historical memory. Gregory's careful development of that
authority was itself a strategy for survival in a very fluid, and often volatile, political environment.
Bjornlie, Shane. Review of Rome Resurgent, by Peter Heather. Studies in
Late Antiquity, vol. 3, issue 4, 2020, pp. 624-29.
Bjornlie, M. Shane. "The Sack of Rome in 410: the Anatomy of a Late Antique Debate." Leadership and Community in Late Antiquity: Essays in Honour of
Raymond Van Dam, edited by Y.R. Kim and A.E.T. McLaughlin. Brepols, 2020, pp. 249-79.
Abstract: The Gothic sack of Rome in 410 was an event consequential to how people living in Late Antiquity thought about the Roman Empire. After centuries of Rome's uninterrupted and unequivocal association with the many
faces of Empire, the occupation of Rome by what the sources characterize as 'barbarians' challenged the political, religious and ethnic definition of Empire. Reactions to the event reverberated in literary sources for centuries, but those
many reactions, when read from the 5th to the 8th century, reveal the complex interplay of different associations for Empire in highly individualized contexts. This paper surveys reactions to a single event as a means of understanding the
production of historical knowledge in Late Antiquity.
Bjornlie, M. Shane. The Selected Letters of Cassiodorus: A Sixth-Century Sourcebook. University of California Press, 2020.
Abstract: One of the great Christian scholars of antiquity and a high-ranking public official under Theoderic, King of the Ostrogoths, Cassiodorus authored edicts, diplomatic letters and legal documents while in office.
The collection of his writings, the Variae, remains among the most important sources for the sixth century, the period during which late antiquity transitioned to the early middle ages. In The Selected Letters, M. Shane Bjornlie translates
the most interesting evidence from the Variae for understanding the political culture, legal structure, intellectual and religious worldviews, and social evolution during the twilight of the late-Roman state. Bjornlie's invaluable
introduction discusses Cassiodorus's interactions with emperors, kings, bishops, military commanders, private citizens, and even criminals. Section notes to each letter provide context and connection to other letters, opening a window to