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Was the Byzantine Empire mainly a Hellenic Empire?

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  Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Was the Byzantine Empire mainly a Hellenic Empire?
    Posted: 23-Jun-2005 at 14:36
Originally posted by GENERAL PARMENION

. A " Roman " was a synonym for " Greek ". Bulgarians , slavs in general , Armenians e.t.c. never called themselves Romans .


Unless, of course, they had become Emperors themselves, like:

Heraclius(610-641) whose father was Armenian
Leo III the Isaurian (717-741)
Leo V the Armenian (813-820)
Basil I (867-886) of Armenian/Macedonian descent

to name a few.


And, surprise, surprise, there even was a German Byzantine Emperor:

Tiberius III (698-705), a German army officer called Apsimar

The term "Romaioi" did not refer to ethnic , but to cultural Greeks, citizens and Emperors of the East-Roman Empire, be they ethnic Greeks, or Armenians, or Bulgars, or even Germans.
And if you like it not, today's Greece was only a very small and not even a very important part of an Empire that was more "multi-cultural" than any of today's nations will hopefully become.






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  Quote GENERAL PARMENION Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jun-2005 at 14:45
You obviously know nothing about the Byzantine Empire and the " Greco - Roman " issue.
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  Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jun-2005 at 15:03
Originally posted by GENERAL PARMENION

You obviously know nothing about the Byzantine Empire and the " Greco - Roman " issue.


That why we've hired you for AE!
So, please, please, explain to us how the terms "Greek" and "Romaioi" can be applied to the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural character of the Byzantine Empire.
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  Quote GENERAL PARMENION Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jun-2005 at 15:07

Originally posted by GENERAL PARMENION

As i said before , Greek and Roman turned out to mean the same thing. Bare in mind that at the time of the Byzantine Empire all of its citizens where refered as " Roman citizens ". True , but ONLY Greeks called themselves Romans . A " Roman " was a synonym for " Greek ". Bulgarians , slavs in general , Armenians e.t.c. never called themselves Romans . They where simply citizens of the Roman Empire.

I dont want to repeat myself.

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  Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jun-2005 at 15:33
Originally posted by GENERAL PARMENION


I dont want to repeat myself.




Let me try again.
In 212 emperor Caracalla decreed that all free citizens of the Roman Empire, regardless of their ethnic identity had the right to call themselves "Romans".
As after the collapse of the Western-roman Empire, the Eastern half quite rightly regarded themselves as the only rightful heirs of the Roman Empire, and continued to call themselves "Romans" and with the gradual Hellenisation of the Empire the term was adopted into Greek as "Romaioi".
But the term "Romaioi" was a political one, not an ethnic, indicated the affiliation with the idea of the Empire, and not with a particular national group.

That over the centuries the B.E. was reduced to a territory that allowed for a identity between ethnicity and state, namely today's Greece, might explain why the term "Romaioi" eventually became synonymous with the population of Greece, and why the Turks called the Greeks "Rum".
The original meaning however was a different one.
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  Quote dorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jun-2005 at 19:41

That's true for the name "Romans". But it was used basically for the Greeks "Romioi".

The region of modern Greece was not important for the Empire? It was one of the vital regions like modern Syria for example. Besides the suppositive Greek field extended to Constantinople and Minor Asia.

Again offensive language. "If you like it or not", "That's why we hired you in AE" etc    Everyone who claims to be an expert post something and considers himself undisputed. 



Edited by dorian
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  Quote Mosquito Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jun-2005 at 20:32
I would say it was more greek but roman influences were strong. Basically the Greeks were living under the rules of roman law, using legal institutions invented by the best roman lawyers. Corpus Iuris Civilis was one of the greatest achievements of Byzantium.
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  Quote Morgoth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jun-2005 at 23:14

Of course the empire was multi-ethnic as one would expect given its size and location. To me this seems of very little importance. What is important is that the Roman Empire (for we must never forget that it was the Roman Empire) became linguistically and culturally Greek. Also, ethnicity is primarily defined by culture and languge anyway, so that seems a moot point. The aristocracy was Greek and the state became Greek, thus the Empire was Greek.



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  Quote Phallanx Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jun-2005 at 23:49
The term Roman was originally adopted in order to denounce the pagan past. While it is very true that the Byzantine empire was a multi-ethnic one, by no means does this mean that any of it's subjects ceased to identify and support their own ethnicity.

The Byzantine Hellines demanded and actually managed quite early to be distinguished from the other population of the empire with the term "".
There were actually two terms that described the population of the empire.

"=Romioi" and "=Romaioi" were used but there was one difference. The first was created in order to indicate generally the Hellinic Orthodox members of the "=genos"= (gender,blood), while the second to indicate the Orthodox Christians of the empire in general."

We actually find that the reference of a Hellinic ethnicity is continuouly reminded to part of the subjects.(the Hellinic part)
Constantine Porphyrogennitos tells us how the Slavs had attacked the Greeks, (kata ton Graikon).
George Gemistos Plethon, Anna Komnene, Michael Psellos (just to mention a few) begin to use the denounced pagan term Hellin to describe only the people of Hellinic origin.
Psellos at one time actually attacks Herodotus and names him a "philo-Persian" that dared to insult his ancestors by showing favor to the Persians.

Further proof that "=(gender,blood) was of major interest to the Hellinic population at least, are the many references to rasism toward our Christian brothers of rmenia, I recall that there is a poem by Cassiani (unfortunately don't have the title) that could be labeled "racsist" against the Armenians.

But, we must keep in mind that we are talking about a theocratic empire, where the use of the terms Hellas and Hellinas were strictly forbidden since they reminded people of their pagan past, hence we see the damnations on Orthodox Sunday. (platonic ideas, platonic teachings
To the gods we mortals are all ignorant.Those old traditions from our ancestors, the ones we've had as long as time itself, no argument will ever overthrow, in spite of subtleties sharp minds invent.
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  Quote Raider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Jun-2005 at 07:05

 

I have consulted this question in the book Byzanz by Peter Schreiner.

According to Schreiner the term rhomanoi was used independently from nationality or ethnic groups.  Schreiner states that orthodoxy was in close relation with this term. For example jews were always excluded.

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  Quote Kenaney Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Jun-2005 at 13:04
Thats (maybe) why the Turks call the greeks somethimes "Rum".
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Jun-2005 at 07:44
I think the Greeks here are confusing the term Roman in the Byzantine Empire. It wasn't used to describe Greeks, it was used to describe Christians in the Byzantine Empire. The term Greek or Hellene were considered pagan after Christianity took its hold in Europe. Therefore, Roman was used because Roman meant Christian, and Greek meant pagan. Simple as that.

But yes, the Byzantine Empire in many aspects was Greek. Not in all aspects, but in a very large portion of it. However, strangely enough, during the empire's decline, the empire began to be partially Italianized due to the increasing dominance of the Italian city-states like Venice and Genoa.
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  Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Jun-2005 at 23:02

Of course Byzantium saw itself as the direct continuation of the Roman State, rather than a purely Greek one. An enormous amounts of what made up the Byzantine Empire were Greek, I would argue the majority of what made up Byzantium what it was was Greek. Read the journey of Liutprand of Cremona (highly amusing). When he called the Byzantine Emperor Nikephoros II Phocas Emperor of the Greeks rather than Emperor of the Romans there was uproar in the court over the disrespect. The Byzantine court would not tolerate the usage of such a term, to them it was an insult. For the Emperor of Constantinople only Emperor of the Romans was a sufficiently worthy title.

 Also look at the treaty signed under the auspices of Nikephoros I and Michael I with Charlemagne over the appropriate imperial title to be used in the wake of Charlegmagne being crowned by the Pope. It specifically, because of the Byzantine drafting, allows the Frankish ruler to be called Emperor. However, the title of the Byzantines is not Emperor but Emperor of the Romans.

All this said, the idea of being a Byzantine had less to do with ethnicity than it had to do with your religious orientation and ideology. Byzantium, much like Rome, easily integrated many peoples because being a Byzantine meant you were an Orthodox Christian, typically spoke adequate Greek and acknowledged the ruler of Constantinople as the direct successor of the Roman Emperors and accepted his primacy in the world of man.

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  Quote GENERAL PARMENION Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Jun-2005 at 15:16

Originally posted by TheSicilianVespers

I think the Greeks here are confusing the term Roman in the Byzantine Empire. It wasn't used to describe Greeks, it was used to describe Christians in the Byzantine Empire. The term Greek or Hellene were considered pagan after Christianity took its hold in Europe. Therefore, Roman was used because Roman meant Christian, and Greek meant pagan. Simple as that.

But yes, the Byzantine Empire in many aspects was Greek. Not in all aspects, but in a very large portion of it. However, strangely enough, during the empire's decline, the empire began to be partially Italianized due to the increasing dominance of the Italian city-states like Venice and Genoa.

Wrong! Bulgarian christians , slavs or Armenian christians where not called Romans. Only Greeks where called like that.

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  Quote dorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Jun-2005 at 16:04

During the Byzantine campaign in Italy in 535 AD, the habitants regarded the Byzantines as the brothers who came to join them to the Eastern Empire. The Ostrogoths who had conquered Italy tried to persuade the population not to help the Byzantines stating that  they were only Graekoi conquerors and they were not the prior Romans anymore. In my opinion this fact is another proof that the Byzantine Empire was considered as a Hellenic one early enough after the division of the united Roman Empire.

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  Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Jun-2005 at 01:14
Originally posted by dorian


During the Byzantine campaign in Italy in 535 AD, the habitants regarded the Byzantines as the brothers who came to join them to the Eastern Empire. The Ostrogoths who had conquered Italy tried to persuade the population not to help the Byzantines stating that they were only Graekoi conquerors and they were not the prior Romans anymore. In my opinion this fact is another proof that the Byzantine Empire was considered as a Hellenic one early enough after the division of the united Roman Empire.


Isn't there a slight flaw in your logic?
"The Ostrogoths unsuccessfully tried to convince the indigenous Roman population that the East-Roman were Greeks and therefore an alien invader.
The Roman population however refused to acknowledge that and in the contrary regarded the East-Romans as brothers, as Romans."
What you are saying is, that a Germanic tribe called the East-Romans Greeks for propaganda purposes, whilst the Romans, who should know better, regarded them as fellow Romans. Im my books, this is not a proof for the Hellenisation of the East-Roman Empire.

Apart from that, the premise that the indigenous Roman population in Italy welcomed Belisarius' or Narses' armies with open arms, is at its best historically inaccurate.
The City of Rome and its administration switched allegiance on a few occasions, especially during the siege of Rome in 538, and so did a number of other cities during the campaigns. The Roman population basiscally regarded both the Ostrogoths and the East-Roman as foreign invaders.
In fact, this would be a far better argument for your claims.

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  Quote Phallanx Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Jun-2005 at 02:58

No one has actually attempted to explain, why we find the terms like "Bulgaroktonus" (Bulgr-slayer 9th cent) and the demographic measure named "epi tas Sklabinas" (on the Slavs 8th cent.), used for the already assimilated in the empire ethnic groups.
What is the purpose of using these terms when they could have easily used the term "Romaioi" that was allegedly cultural and not ethnic???

It is also interesting that Constantine Porphyrogenitus in his "De Administrando Imperio" clearly makes a seperate reference to the ethnic groups of Bulgarians, Slavs and Armenians and does not name them "Romans-Romioi".




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  Quote Yiannis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Jun-2005 at 03:31
Bulgarians were not subjects of the empire at that time. They were independant and a very strong adversary of Byzantium. Armenians too were sometimes part and sometimes not of the empire.
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  Quote Phallanx Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Jun-2005 at 04:42
About the Bulgarians you're correct, seems like I missed four yrs, but with the Armenians, we'd expect a different treatment.
Since we know of Emperors of Armenian descent like Leo V, one would expect that they would "deserve" the title "Romaioi/Romioi"
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  Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Jun-2005 at 06:44

Originally posted by Phallanx

About the Bulgarians you're correct, seems like I missed four yrs, but with the Armenians, we'd expect a different treatment.
Since we know of Emperors of Armenian descent like Leo V, one would expect that they would "deserve" the title "Romaioi/Romioi"

The Armenians were often also politically autonomous to Byzantium for much of their history. In a similar vein to the Bulgars, the Armenians had their own autonomous leaders, national army and language. I am speaking generally here, as for certain periods of history Armenia was annexed by Byzantium completely. But because the Armenians generally did not recognise the Byzantine Emperor as their political leader, and even at times fought against the Byzantine Empire, they could rightly be considered foreigners. Another important sticking point is that the Armenians were usually staunch monophysites, which further distinguished them from being called a people of Byzantium.

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