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Was the Byzantine Empire mainly a Hellenic Empire?

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  Quote Byzantine Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Was the Byzantine Empire mainly a Hellenic Empire?
    Posted: 30-Aug-2007 at 23:58
Welcome to AE Scipion!
 
Originally posted by Scipion

Also you're also missing the fact that ever since the days of Jusinian I and until 1453, all Europeans referred to the Byzantine Empire as Greece and its people as Greeks in an ethnic sense.
 
Western Europeans who understood the nature of the Byzantine emperor's demands to be recognized as the Roman Emperor undoubtedly called them Greeks (Graeci) in a pejorative sense.  You often see the term "Greeks" coupled with derisive adjectives such as "perfidious" and "effeminate" in the accounts of Westerners.  There are plenty of examples of this in Liutprand of Cremona's account of his visit to Nikephoros II in the 10th century.  Liutprand subsequently demanded that his sovereign Otto be called "emperor" on equal footing with Nikephoros.  Of course, Nikephoros refused and chose to use the diminutive rex in reference to Otto.  So, there is a pejorative sense to the word in addition to ethnic when Western Europeans employed it.
 
Originally posted by Scipion

Also you seem to be completely ignorant of the modern Greek proto-nationalism which was born within the Byzantine Empire, starting with Psellos and reaching its peak in 1204. Then the term "Hellene" is returned to official use.
 
Can you cite some modern scholarship that posits Psellos' use of the term as being indicative of modern Greek proto-nationalism?  I would hope that you do not think that any scholar who does not agree with this label at this time period is an "amateur Western revisionist."
 
I think it would be more accurate to describe the use of "Hellene" in reference to Greek national pride in George Gemistos Plethon's use of it in the 15th century.  One must concede that the imperial unity of Byzantium at that point was fragmented and smaller in size then in Psellos' time.  Nonetheless, on a local level, it still lived in a smaller scale with slight variations such as in the Morea, Thessaloniki, Constantinople and countryside, and Trebizond.  Was Obolensky, who was not a Westerner, incorrect when he termed the late Byzantine Empire a "Byzantine Commonwealth?"
 
Originally posted by Scipion

Most scholars agree that the Greek Rhomaios was merely a political term and was only used within Byzantium.
 
Scholars such as? 
 
I don't think Rhomaioi was "merely a political term."  Within Byzantium, yes.  But the fact that the Byzantine emperors and people thought themselves to be descended from the Romans, is an idea that they held all the way to 1453/61.  To go beyond what Plethon was saying when he used the word "Hellene" in the 15th century is to journey into anacronism.
 
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  Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2007 at 03:16
Btw, Romaios (pron. Romeos) is a citizen of the western Roman Empire. Romios is the word the Greeks used for themselves after the banning of Hellen.


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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2007 at 09:10
Originally posted by Byzantine Emperor

Western Europeans who understood the nature of the Byzantine emperor's demands to be recognized as the Roman Emperor undoubtedly called them Greeks (Graeci) in a pejorative sense.


Thanks for your welcoming. I'm afraid that the westeners used "Greeks" in an ethnic sense. That was in fact the standard word for "Byzantine" in their languages. This can be also proved by the fact that even Byzantine noblemen would use "Greeks" instead of "Rhomaioi" when referring to the Latins (see for examples the appeal of Alexius IV to the crusaders). There have been specific studies on this, see for example Ciggaar's "Western Travellers to Constantinople: Cultural and Political relations" among many others. The westeners didn't make a distinction between the Greeks of Byzantium and the ancient Greeks. In fact, they only viewed Byzantium as a decayed version of ancient Greece. In medieval Latin texts "Graeci" and "Graecia" is the standard terminology for Byzantium. This is only normal if you think how the Latins -the direct heritors of the Romans- perceived themselves and the rest of the world. If they had ever seen Byzantium as a Roman Empire rather than a Greek one, they would have willingly submitted themselves to its rule. But that never happened. In official Latin texts, e.g. epistles that were sent to the Byzantine Emperors, terms such as "Imperator Romanorum" were used only until Charlemagne's coronation in 800 AD. This is where your example about emperor Nikephoros and the Pope comes into place. The resurrection of the Roman Empire under the Frankish monarch means to that the Greeks can have no official claims on the Imperium. In the eyes of the Latins the Roman scepters were simply transferred from the Greeks to the Germans (Romano nomine ad Graecos). This proves that the term "Roman" has long acquired a strictly political sense. However, the propaganda arguments used by Nikephoros to refute this and by the Pope to promote it cannot be of any historical significance today. If we take seriously the arguments of the former then we'll have to believe that he was a direct ancestor of Julius Caesar. If we take seriously the arguments of the latter the we'll have to believe that Byzantium has never had any connections to the Roman Empire whatsoever. This is why that event is irrelevant to the question at hand. What happened between the Pope and the "Roman" Emperors is independent to how the Latins viewed the Byzantines and vice versa up to that point. The event is important only from a political perspective, e.g. because it signals a break in the relations between the West and Byzantium.

Originally posted by Byzantine Emperor

Can you cite some modern scholarship that posits Psellos' use of the term as being indicative of modern Greek proto-nationalism?  I would hope that you do not think that any scholar who does not agree with this label at this time period is an "amateur Western revisionist."

Nobody would say that by Psellos' time there was a nationalism in the modern sense of the term (as it happened later). However, the era of Psellos is usually termed the "First Byzantine renaissance" due to the fact that Classical (neo-Platonic) thought is injected in Christian ideology. This renaissance is the first step to the inevitable, i.e. the creation of a nation-state out of an ecumenical empire. The real modern Greek proto-nationalism begins with the fall of Constantinople to the crusaders (1204). During that period Byzantine scholars such as Nicetas Choniates would start to proudly refer to the Byzantines as "Hellenes". The Byzantine emperor Vatatzes tells the Latins that "Hellenes have been granted the rule of the Roman state by Constantine the Great". The emperors of Nicaea would go as far as to argue that the Greek rulers of Trebizond and Epirus cannot lay claims to the Roman throne because they're not "Hellenic enough" in terms of land of population. The Lascarides argue that the Byzantine army has lost its fierce due to the large amount of non-Hellenic mercenary soldiers. In other words, from 1204 to 1453 the Empire becomes consciously an ethnic Greek state, and Byzantine noblemen use their Greekness as the main argument towards the succession of the Roman throne. Books such as Donald Nicol's, The last centuries of Byzantium or Michael Angold's Church and society in Byzantium under the Comneni: 1081-1261 are good sources on this topic.

Originally posted by Scipion

I think it would be more accurate to describe the use of "Hellene" in reference to Greek national pride in George Gemistos Plethon's use of it in the 15th century.


Personally I don't think that Plethon's cultural and political views can be representative of the Byzantine society of his time. His views tended more towards an utopian resurrection of an ancient Greek patriotism rather than the creation of a modern Greek nationalism (don't forget that Pletho was a pagan and modern Greek nationalism was founded on Orthodoxy). He did of course continue Psellos' work by contributing to the "Second Byzantine renaissance", yet the vision of a Hellenic Empire dates to the fourth crusade. I do find that the term "Byzantine commonwealth" is a good descriptor of the fragmented Greek states at the time.
 
Originally posted by Byzantine Emperor

Scholars such as? 
I don't think Rhomaioi was "merely a political term."  Within Byzantium, yes.  But the fact that the Byzantine emperors and people thought themselves to be descended from the Romans, is an idea that they held all the way to 1453/61.  To go beyond what Plethon was saying when he used the word "Hellene" in the 15th century is to journey into anacronism.


I'll have to disagree wholeheartedly. Michael Angold explicitely states that the Byzantines did not look to the Caesars and the Romans as their ancestors, but to the Emperors of Constantinople and the Greek-speaking christians of their domain. The Eastern Roman Empire was indeed a distinct political and cultural identity to the Roman Empire, hence why it has always been coined with a distinct name. I think your views are too affected by Nicephorus' epistles to the pope in which he claims himself to be an ancestor of the Caesars. I think you would agree that such a claim under such circumstances cannot be the basis of conclusions upon the entire history of the Byzantine state. Don't forget that Julian the Apostate would also call himself a Hellene and claim that the Roman Empire was a in fact the ecumenical form of Hellenism. But that would never lead us to conclude that the ancient Rome was a Greek Empire.

Steven Runciman would be one of the credible scholars who explain that "Rhomaios" had really the connotation of "Christian Greek". He also explains that during medieval times "Romans" had a political connotation in relation to the Imperium and the claims on ecumenical, christian rule. On the other hand D. Anguelov explains that the Greek "Graikos" was acceptable as an ethnonym synonymous to "Rhomaios" in Byzantine society (unlike the pagan "Hellene"). In my line of reasoning, the above facts in combination to the Greek nationalism of the 12th century and the Latin texts of late antiquity prove that the Greekness of Byzantium is not an anachronism. Similarly the cultural heritage of the Roman Empire had always been native to the lands of the Latins (in terms of language, religion and culture, which is what really defines a people). And as I said earlier the views of Pletho have little or no relevance to the question at hand. I'd better stop here because this is getting too long. My regards.


Edited by Scipion - 31-Aug-2007 at 17:03
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2007 at 17:19
Originally posted by Belisarius

No, it was actually a very good analogy.

True it was that the Byzantines in their devotion to Christianity destroyed many monuments from ancient Greece because of their pagan history.


Funny to hear this because Byzantium is generally regarded as the only direct link between classical antiquity and modern times. No Byzantium would mean no classical studies, no Italian renaissance and the list goes on. Byzantine education encompassed all aspects of classical knowledge which was preserved into modern times. Also you'd be surprised to know how many pagan Hellenic art existed in Constantinople. The Theodosian walls were decorated with the labors of Hercules and the streets of Constantinople contained statues of the Olympian gods. Nicetas Choniates describes a huge, golden statue of Athena which was destroyed during the anti-latin mob riots of 1202. All of those treasures were looted during the sack of the city.
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  Quote Chilbudios Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Sep-2007 at 14:44
I'll have to disagree wholeheartedly. Michael Angold explicitely states that the Byzantines did not look to the Caesars and the Romans as their ancestors, but to the Emperors of Constantinople and the Greek-speaking christians of their domain. The Eastern Roman Empire was indeed a distinct political and cultural identity to the Roman Empire, hence why it has always been coined with a distinct name. I think your views are too affected by Nicephorus' epistles to the pope in which he claims himself to be an ancestor of the Caesars. I think you would agree that such a claim under such circumstances cannot be the basis of conclusions upon the entire history of the Byzantine state. Don't forget that Julian the Apostate would also call himself a Hellene and claim that the Roman Empire was a in fact the ecumenical form of Hellenism. But that would never lead us to conclude that the ancient Rome was a Greek Empire.
I think the issue is a bit more complex than that, because the Byzantine Empire spans for over a millenium and projecting a single identity (political, ethnical) over it, seems a bit inapropriate.
Hlne Ahrweiler in L'idologie politique de l'empire byzantin says the actual image on what the empire is (universal or national), and who its inhabitants were it varied in time, from emperor to emperor, from era to era. The reign of Justinian I is obviously the apogee of the idea of Roman Empire. That's why (if you quoted him correctly) I don't think Angold is right. Moreover, in its first centuries, the Byzantine Empire had both Latin as official language and Latinophone territories (like the northern Balkans, not to mention Justinian's reconquests!).
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  Quote shock and thunder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Aug-2015 at 11:12
An old thread,

but obviously the Latin language and Roman institutions were dominant while the Western Empire was still in existence.

However, Greek was practically the lingua franca of the Mediterranean and Near East, and the Hellenistic domains were only acculturated gradually even after incorporation into the Roman domain.  And it is suggestive that writers continually pop up through the centuries to bring up tactical drills of the Macedonian phalanx throughout almost the entire history of the empire, from the time of the united empire to late antiquity and to many centuries after its fall.

That being said, for many centuries after the Arab invasion, Asia Minor was essentially the empire, with Greece being basically wholly lost, necessitating a substantial recolonization effort when the Empire finally returned to Greece.

Only after the Turk overspead Anatolia and the Crusades did the Empire begin obsessing itself with being 'Hellenic'; perhaps quite naturally given the restricted domain in those days which now essentially covered only Greece - but the fanaticism attached to its 'Hellenic' identity was to be its great detriment.


Edited by shock and thunder - 18-Aug-2015 at 11:15
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  Quote Aeoli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Feb-2016 at 13:10

This is nice map and I am not sure about it. In the central anatolia, there are to much Turkic people in and Galatian? 

Azeri and Turkish people quite similar. But we see them two different nations so what about Greeks? 


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  Quote Palani kumar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Apr-2016 at 05:02
Originally posted by strategos

I was looking at the FYROMians main website, quite humorous i might say,  and I found an article on how the Byzantine Empire was not a Hellenic Empire. I know it ruled over diverse people, but was it not mainly Hellenic at heart? What are your thoughts?


To be frank in many ways it was largely influenced by Greek Culture and so on. In fact some of the best emperors and Generals of Byzantine Empire were Greek Decedents, who took the Empire to it's heights.
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  Quote Morteg Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Jun-2016 at 17:00
I'm not seeing any "greeks""hellens" on the map... must be wrong with mostly Thracian tribes there...

Byzantine is a name that people are using for the East Roman Empire, as the holy Roman empire SPQR was struck in two :) and than came WRE and ERE...

In year of 1553 AD the german Hieronymus Wolf, created the false term Byzantine, that actually came from old city called Byzas (Busan was actually the more old name and that is Thracian)

The so called greek-helenic is actually coming from the Thracians, but the africans who are the actual greeks that everybody still calling them greeks  change it to fit the broken language they have.

There are a lot of Emperors from Thracian Origin, not latin, not greek, not armenian, not anything else...

1.Aurelian (Lucius Domitius Aurelianus Augustus).

Born in Sirmium on September 9 of 214 or 215 AD. He ruled the Empire between September 270 AD and September 275 AD before being assassinated by the Praetorian Guard on his way to Asia Minor and campaign against Sassanids.

2.
Claudius Gothicus (Marcus Aurelius Valerius Claudius Augustus).

Born in Sirmium on May 10, 210 AD. He ruled between September 268 AD and January 270 AD before succumbing to the plague. He’s infamous for beheading the St. Valentine.


3.
Constantine I (Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus).

Born in Naissus on February 27, 272 AD. He emerged as strongest of the Emperors vying for power in early fourth century and left a legacy like none other of his coevals and wider. He ruled the Empire between July 25, 306 AD and May 22, 337 AD. He’s responsible for passing the Edict of Milan in February 313 AD which gave Christianity a legal status within the Empire, thus effectively ending the prosecution of Christians.

4.
Constantius Chlorus (Marcus Flavius Valerius Constantius Herculius Augustus).

Born in northern Dardania or southern Moesia Superior on March 31, 250 AD. He was the father of Constantine I (Constantine the Great) and ruled the Empire between May 1, 305 AD and July 25, 306 AD.

5.
Constantius II (Flavius Julius Constantius Augustus).

Second son of Constantine the Great was born in Sirmium on August 7, 317 AD. His reign as Augustus lasted between 350 AD and 361 AD, but he also ruled as co-Augustus with Constantine II between 337 AD and 340 AD, and with his youngest brother Constans between 340 AD and 350 AD.


6.
Constantius III (Flavius Constantius Augustus).

Born in Naissus, in Serbia, Constantius III ended up being a successful general and politician. His reign as Augustus, however, only lasted between February 8, 421 AD and September 2, 421 AD when he died of natural causes – such a rarity for a Roman Emperor.

7.
Diocletian (Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus Augustus).

Born in Salona, modern day Solin near Split, Croatia circa December 22, 244 AD. He reigned for 21 years (quite a feat at the time), between November 20, 284 AD and May 1, 305 when he retired peacefully becoming the first Roman Emperor to do so. You can still see his palace in Split which is UNESCO World Heritage Site.


8.Galerius (Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus Augustus)Gratian (Flavius Gratianus Augustus).

Born in Felix Romuliana around 260 AD, although some sources state he was born in Serdica, modern-day Sofia, Bulgaria. He ruled the Empire between May 1, 305 AD and May 311 AD alongside (or in competition with) Constantius, Severus, Constantine and finally Licinius. He’s responsible for the erection of Felix Romuliana (Gamzigrad) which is UNESCO World Heritage Site near modern-day Zajecar (Zaječar) in Serbia.

9.Gratian (Flavius Gratianus Augustus).

Born in Sirmium, in Serbia between April 18 and May 23, 359 AD. He was the eldest son of Valentinian I and ruled below his father as Junior Augustus in the West between 367 AD and 375 AD. He then ruled as Augustus alone and jointly with his brother between 375 AD and August 25, 383 AD when he was murdered.

10.Hostilian (Gaius Valens Hostilianus Messius Quintus Augustus).

Born circa 230 in Sirmium, modern-day Sremska Mitrovica in Serbia. He was Trajan Decius’ younger son who ruled the Empire after his father’s death for few short months in second half of the 251 AD before succumbing to plague.


11.
Jovian (Flavius Iovianus Augustus).

Born in Singidunum, modern-day Belgrade, in 331 AD. He was hastily elected Emperor after the death of his predecessor Julian, and only reigned between June 26, 363 AD and February 17, 364 AD.

12.Licinius I (Gaius Valerius Licinianus Licinius Augustus).

Born circa 263 AD – 265 AD near Felix Romuliana, Licinius I ruled in competition with Constantine the Great between November 11, 308 AD and September 18, 324 AD. He was ultimately defeated by his rival and executed in 325 AD.

13.Maximian (Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus Herculius Augustus).

Born near Sirmium around 250 AD. He ruled jointly with Diocletian between April 286 AD and May 1, 305 AD. He abdicated together with Diocletian as well, but declared himself Emperor again in 310 AD before being overthrown by then legitimate ruler Constantine I and committing suicide on his behest.

14.
Maximinus II Daia (Gaius Valerius Galerius Maximinus Daia Augustus).

Born close to Felix Romuliana, near today’s village of Sarkamen (Šarkamen) in Serbia. His reign during the civil war lasted between May 1, 311 AD and 313 AD when he was defeated by Licinius I and probably committed suicide.

15.
Probus (Marcus Aurelius Probus Augustus).

Born in Sirmium circa August 19, 232 AD. He was the Emperor between September 276 AD and September or October 282 AD. Like Aurelian, he too was murdered by his own troops.

16.
Quintillus (Marcus Aurelius Claudius Quintillus Augustus).

Born in Sirmium like his brother Claudius, probably sometimes in 212 AD. He only ruled for a few short months during 270 AD before being killed or committing suicide.

17.
Severus II (Flavius Valerius Severus Augustus).

Born around Naissus which is modern-day Nis (Niš), Serbia. Severus ruled as Augustus during tumultuous time between summer 306 AD and April 307 AD. He was captured by Maxentius and executed or forced to commit suicide in 307 AD.


18.Trajan Decius (Caesar Gaius Messius Quintus Traianus Decius Augustus)

Born circa 201 AD in Budalia near Sirmium, modern day Martinci and Sremska Mitrovica (Serbia) respectively. He ruled between September or October 249 AD and June 251 AD when he was killed in the Battle of Abritus, thus becoming the first Roman Emperor killed in a battle by foreign enemy.

19.Valens (Flavius Julius Valens Augustus).

Valentinian’s brother who was also born in Cibalae, in Croatia. He jointly ruled with his brother over the Eastern Roman Empire from March 28, 364 AD to August 9, 378 AD. He died at the Battle of Adrianople against the Goths.

20.
Valentinian I (Flavius Valentinianus Augustus).

Born in Cibalae, present-day Vinkovci , Croatia, in 321 AD. He is considered the last great Western Roman Emperor because Rome rapidly declined after his reign which lasted between February 26, 364 AD and November 17, 375 AD.

21.
Vetranio (Flavius Vetranio Augustus).

Born somewhere in modern-day Serbia and ruled as Augustus in the West alongside Constantius II temporarily between March 1, 350 AD and December 25, 350 AD.

22.Maximinus Thrax (Gaius Julius Verus Maximinus Augustus) who ruled between 235 AD and 238 AD was born either in Moesia or Thrace ruled both Eastern and Western part of the empire before Western Empire’s downfall in 476 AD.

23.
Justinian I (Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus Augustus) Known as Upravda, Justinian the Great, ruled between 482 Ad and 565 AD. Born in Tauresium, Macedonia.

Other Thracian Emperors: Marcian, Lion Bes, Leo II, Tiberius II, Foka, Zenon, Vasilius I Macedon and a lot of others...

between 310 and 660 there were 15 Roman emperors who were on the throne of Byzantion and they were Thracian, not greek (greek were not fighters , everyone knows that, weak people are the african greeks).

as Frigians (Briges who are also thracians) were on the throne of ERE, let not forget that 3 of them are recorded and they not only didnt like the greeks but also they nasty african cultur, these emperors were Michael II, Teofil and Michael III.

Lets not forget about the Armenian dynasty who also didn't like greeks, the Lakapin dynasty, Leo V Armenian, Roman I, John I Tzimiskes, Philipikos Vardan  and others...

 There are more than 40 rulers of Constantinopol who were definetly not greek, so ERE, first like Roman Empire, and even after that as ERE (Byzantine) from the time of Constaine I the thracian, The Great and so on, is showing that is not greek culture. And on the FIRST OF ALL, greek culture was based on the THRACIANS, changes from the africans and stolen with many other things from the greeks. Herodotus HIIMSELF is telling you this!
 The whole Greek culture today is actually created after 1830 from America and other countries, trying to stop the Rise of Bulgarians and Rusians, but DNA doesn't lie neither Anthropology, Archeology and linguistics. People only lie.
 The big Pantheon of greek gods is actually lie, why ? because they are Thraco-Pelasgian ones.

http://sparotok.blogspot.bg/2013/09/who-were-thracians.html


Edited by Morteg - 02-Jun-2016 at 03:15
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  Quote Palani kumar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Nov-2016 at 02:34
@Morteg, I agree with you.. And to add more
The term Byzantium comes the ancient Greek Colonial City Byzantium, it was located in the same place where the future City of Constantinople (Literally meaning Constantine's city) was built by the Great emperor Constantine. 

But the greatest fun is that, this name (term for the empire) "Byzantine Empire" was coined and used about a century after the empire ceased to exist. 

The Empire at it's time was called by many terms, but the inhabitants considered themselves as just Romans, and the Empire was called as "Imperium Romanum", (Meaning Roman Empire in Latin)

The term "Eastern Roman Empire was not used with in the Empire, it was used by Westerners more specifically by Rulers of modern day France & Germany, as after Charlemagne was crowned by Pope Leo III as Imperator Augustus literally meaning "Holy Roman Emperor.
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  Quote medenaywe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Nov-2016 at 04:17
August is name of month when I have been born,etc.etc.Division of Roman Empire was question of domination of different centers of power with possible difference in population contents.Have a nice time here Palani Kumar.Smile
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