The "Dark Ages" is a historical periodization traditionally referring to the Early Middle Ages or Middle Ages, that asserts that a demographic, cultural, and economic deterioration occurred in Western Europe following the decline of the Roman Empire. It 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.
- Some of my youthful readers are developing wonderful imaginations. This pleases me. Imagination has brought mankind through the Dark Ages to its present state of civilization. Imagination led Columbus to discover America. Imagination led Franklin to discover electricity. Imagination has given us the steam engine, the telephoe, the talking-machine, and the automobile, for these things had to be dreamed of before they became realities. So I believe that dreams — day dreams, you know, with your eyes wide open and your brain machinery whizzing — are likely to lead to the betterment of the world. The imaginative child will become the imaginative man or woman most apt to create, to invent, and therefore to foster civilization. A prominent educator tells me that fairy tales are of untold value in developing imagination in the young. I believe it.
- But if we fail, then the whole world...will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.
- The dark ages still reign over all humanity, and the depth and persistence of this domination are only now becoming clear.
This Dark Ages prison has no steel bars, chains, or locks. Instead, it is locked by misorientation and built of misinformation. Caught up in a plethora of conditioned reflexes and driven by the human ego, both warden and prisoner attempt meagerly to compete with God. All are intractably skeptical of what they do not understand.
We are powerfully imprisoned in these Dark Ages simply by the terms in which we have been conditioned to think.
- Buckminster Fuller, in Cosmography : A Posthumous Scenario for the Future of Humanity (1992)
- One reason that the label ‘the Dark Ages’ has proven hard to untie from the neck of the Middle Ages is that for hundreds of years – between the sixth century and the beginnings of the Renaissance in the late thirteenth – the scientific and rational insights of the ancient world were forgotten or suppressed in the west. This was not simply an unfortunate symptom of creeping cultural dementia, It sprang from the policies of eastern emperors like Justinian, who made it their business to hound out of their world the self-appointed but unfortunately unchristian guardians of priceless knowledge.
- Dan Jones, Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages (2021), p. 94
- 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.
- 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.
- Sexually progressive cultures gave us mathematics, literature, philosophy, civilization and the rest, while sexually restrictive cultures gave us the Dark Ages and the Holocaust. Not that I’m trying to load my argument, of course.
- 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
- Western psychologists accuse religion of repressing the vital energy of man and rendering his life quite miserable as a result of the sense of guilt which especially obsesses the religious people and makes them imagine that all their actions are sinful and can only be expiated through abstention from enjoying the pleasures of life. Those psychologists add that Europe lived in the darkness of ignorance as long as it adhered to its religion but once it freed itself from the fetters of religion, its emotions were liberated and accordingly it achieved wonders in the field of production.
- The 10th incarnation of The Doctor: They've still got one foot in the Dark Ages — if I tell them the truth they'll panic and think it was witchcraft.
Martha Jones: OK. What was it then?
The Doctor [Pauses briefly, stares grimly at her]: Witchcraft.
- 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.