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had between them overstretched imperial resources

Discussion in 'English Only' started by threethree, Jul 31, 2013.

  1. threethree New Member

    Chinese/Cantonese
    "Justinian’s reign also saw an outbreak of plague, and much of the Eastern Empire was to fall in to Arab hands in the 630s. The suggestion is often raised, therefore, that the plague and conquests had between them overstretched imperial resources."

    I read this in a book on European history, and here the author is talking about the Byzantine Empire. I'm not quite sure what does "had between them..." mean?
    Does it mean that
    a) there is some kind of relation between the plague and the conquests (which is the overstretched imperial resources)
    or b) both the plague and conquests have resulted in overstretched imperial resources?
    or
    something else?

    Thanks for answering!
     
  2. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 73)
    UK English
    It means b). They had each contributed to the strain on resources. Between them could be replaced by together.
     
  3. velisarius Senior Member

    Greece
    British English (Sussex)
    Either plague or the extensive conquests might have been manageable for the empire, but the combination of both together was too much of a strain on imperial resources.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013
  4. boozer Senior Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    'Between' is often used in such situations, e.g. Between them they have 5 children. This means that we do not know how many children each one has - it may be 1:4, 2:3, 3:2 or 4:1 (or even 0:5 and 5:0 :D ). similarly, in your example, we do not know if plague and contests overstretched imperial resources separately, but we know that together they did. We do not know to what extent they overstretched the resources separately.
     

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