Attila the Hun, By Christopher Kelly
Sunday 13 September 2009
Popular history cleaves to the one-man principle – that world events are controlled by the caprice of a single character – and it's an approach the history-book-buying public tends to favour. So biographies of Napoleon or Henry VIII triumph over interpretations of events that privilege context instead of individuals. Christopher Kelly's approach appears at first to be the former, in that he credits Attila the Hun with single-handedly ending the once-mighty Roman Empire. But given the lack of contemporaneous information about Attila, and that what there is was provided by Roman scholars who weren't best placed to judge him, Kelly must broaden his net and examine the context of his anti-hero.
The political machinations of the now Christian Roman Empire, the establishment of Christianity in the East, and Attila's heathen appropriation of all of that (Kelly argues that the Huns, nomads without a strong enough culture of their own, simply adopted the culture of whatever country they had subdued) produce a cast of characters that would have made Cecil B DeMille's mind boggle, had he ever tried to film this ancient story.
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Exodus Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott never considered casting 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Michael Buerk wishes he'd killed Jimmy Savile when he had the chance - by pushing him overboard a cruise ship
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' close to camp
Jennifer Lawrence scores first UK top 40 single with Hunger Games track 'The Hanging Tree'
Exodus Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott never considered casting 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
The Fall, series 2, episode 3 – TV review: It’s starting to push the realms of plausibility, but who cares?
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque