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Cahill Paper Did The Irish Save Civilization?

1203 words - 5 pages

How the Irish Saved Civilization a book by Thomas Cahill is referred to as the untold story of Ireland’s heroic role in the advancement of western culture, from the decline of the Roman Empire until the European dark ages. The main point of this book is to offer a different viewpoint on the little known role that the Irish contributed to the survival of civilization, as we know it. This book offers a very persuasive argument about Ireland’s role in the preservation of ancient literature. It appears that Mr. Cahill decorates the known facts of the era and interjects his own viewpoints continuously throughout the book. Another minor flaw is how the author associates western civilization as civilization in general. It is also difficult to argue that the Irish were solely responsible for saving civilization, especially without persuasively showing that books had become extinct in the intervening 150 years (Eyore, 2). There is little doubt, after reading this very informative book, the Irish played a significant role in the preservation of western civilization, but when Mr. Cahill asserts that the Irish “Single-handedly re-founded European civilization throughout the continent” one senses a touch of hyperbole (Bernstein, 2).During the explanation of the fall of the Roman Empire, it is said that apathy and a general feeling of superiority ultimately lead to the demise of Roman rule. Mr. Cahill suggests that the Romans lived such a wonderful life, and had such a lax policy on what was required to become a Roman citizen, that they became too diluted, and eventually the Roman army consisted of people who were primarily immigrants, so to speak. It is without doubt that the sheer size of the empire was the primary cause of its demise, since the borders were very difficult to enforce, yet he focuses more on the cultural issues and credits those same issues for the fall of the empire. He also points out that the authentic Roman citizens felt they were too good to serve in the army, thus leading to an army consisting of people who were commissioned to fight the very tribes they used to belong to. Generally, he seems to be accurate in reference to the fall of the Roman Empire.After the author elaborates on the fall of the Roman Empire, he introduces St. Augustine of Hippo and offers his viewpoint of Augustine’s contributions to literature. He asserts that Augustine is the first person to write with conscious thought. Until this time, it is said, no other author had ventured into this type of prose. He calls Augustine the first memoirist and the father of the novel (Spievogel 183). There is little doubt that Augustine’s contributions to civilization were vast, seeing as how he was probably one of the most important theologians of all time, but to put them on par with St. Patrick seems to be a reach (Eyore 2). St. Patrick’s contributions were important, he essentially single handedly converted the whole of Ireland. The primary...

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