Notice: This is the official website of the All Empires History Community (Reg. 10 Feb 2002)

  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Register Register  Login Login

Byzantine or Roman?

 Post Reply Post Reply Page  12>
Author
Hamoudeh View Drop Down
Knight
Knight


Joined: 06-Dec-2005
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 75
  Quote Hamoudeh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Byzantine or Roman?
    Posted: 06-Dec-2005 at 12:06

This is a question that I have occupied myself with for some time, and a few months ago I was confronted with it once more. As I turned in my paper The Islamic Perspective of the Byzantine Empire it was returned with much criticism based on the main question of this thread. I briefly mentioned this in the previous linked thread in which I posted my paper:

Originally posted by Hamoudeh

There are many interesting things to be said about the Byzantines, of which one is also pointed out in the paper; the Byzantines are the Romans which is what the name of the Sura is as well. I indicated this originally in my paper by using the names interchangebly and using translations that make use of the term "Romans", but I received criticism for this and was forced to make adjustments. I disagree though for several reasons.

I will leave out the arguments in the context of my paper and focus on the main question of this thread: is this empire Byzantine or Roman? Can one historically justify the use of the term Byzantine in an absolute sense or in any other context than the Western one? That is the main question of this thread, and in my opinion this is not the case which I will address in the following points.

1) The Byzantines never called themselves anything other than Roman, the term Byzantine as a description of their empire is foreign to them. This I have noted in my paper as well:

Originally posted by Hamoudeh

3. A.P. Kazhdan en Giles Constable, People and power in Byzantium: An introduction to modern Byzantine studies
(Washington, D.C: Trustees for Harvard University 1982), 120-121

The Byzantines believed themselves to be the Rhomaioi, the Romans, and their capital, Byzantion, and country to be the Roman Empire. In about the thirteenth century they may have begun to emphasize their Greek origin, but even then they considered themselves to be the direct descendants of Antiquity and the heirs of ancient language, law and terminology.

Byzantines identified themselves as Romaioi (Ρωμαίοι - Romans) which had already become a synonym for a Hellene (Έλλην - Greek), and more than ever before were developing a national consciousness, as residents of Ρωμανία (Romania, as the Byzantine state and its world were called). This nationalist awareness is reflected in literature, particularly in the acritic songs, where frontiersmen (ακρίτες are praised for defending their country against invaders, of which most famous is the heroic or epic poem Digenis Acritas.

Byzantine Empire -Wikipedia

Thus from a perspective of the Byzantines themselves, Roman is the term that describes them best. Now one might question if their own self-perception is to be taken as scientifically absolute, surely this cannot be the case by definition. However, the arguments extend this self-perception whilst the alternative is no less based on a self-perception of the Western world as well. This I shall address in my following points.

2) Orientalists justify their use of the term Byzantine by refering to the split of the Roman Empire into East and West and by taking on a new capital that was previously known as Byzantion.

* Based on the first argument, at most one could term the Byzantines as East-Romans. However, the Western counterpart of the Empire collapsed quickly after it fully splitted and so there is no need to maintain a geographical definition based on one counterpart when the other counterpart was no longer there; especially when there already was an administrative seperation while it was still one empire. One might argue that it is of benefit to distinguish the empire chronologically, but there is no need for geographical terms to do this let alone a new term alltogether. 

* The second argument is flawed because the new capital was taken in the time that the Roman Empire was still one empire, and in this era the city of Byzantion was renamed to Nova Roma (New Roma) which later came to be known as Constantinople due to the popularity of the emperor that took on the new capital.

The reality is that the Byzantine Empire already took its new capital when the Roman Empire was still intact, whilst that what came to be known as Byzantine in the West was no less than the continuation of the eastern counterpart of the empire which remained intact for another thousand years, unlike the western counterpart which quickly collapsed. The lack of consensus on what exactly defines the beginning of the Byzantine Empire, reflects the incoherency of the use of Orientalist terminology on this subject:

There is no consensus on the starting date of the Byzantine period. Some place it during the reign of Diocletian (284-305) due to the administrative reforms he introduced, dividing the empire into a pars Orientis and a pars Occidentis. Others place it during the reign of Theodosius I (379-395) and Christendom's victory over paganism, or, following his death in 395, with the division of the empire into Western and Eastern halves. Others place it yet further in 476, when the last western emperor, Romulus Augustus, was forced to abdicate, thus leaving to the emperor in the Greek East sole imperial authority. In any case, the changeover was gradual and by 330, when Constantine I inaugurated his new capital, the process of Hellenization and Christianization was well underway. (Wikipedia)

The reality is, the Byzantine empire was simply defined by the West as such in contrast to itself: in contrast to Western culture, in contrast to Western Christendom and that is what will be elaborated upon in my final point:

3) The Orientalist alternative for the term Roman, namely Byzantine is no less culturally defined and involves political and other reasons that are far from being scientific.

The name Byzantine Empire is derived from the original Greek name for Constantinople; Byzantium. The name is a modern term and would have been alien to its contemporaries. The Empire's native Greek name was 'Pωμανία Romana or Βασιλεία 'Pωμαίων Basilea Romaon, a direct translation of the Latin name of the Roman Empire, Imperium Romanorum. The term Byzantine Empire was invented in 1557, about a century after the fall of Constantinople by German historian Hieronymus Wolf, who introduced a system of Byzantine historiography in his work Corpus Historiae Byzantinae in order to distinguish ancient Roman from medieval Greek history without drawing attention to their ancient predecessors. Standardization of the term did not occur until the 18th century, when French authors such as Montesquieu began to popularize it. Hieronymus himself was influenced by the rift caused by the 9th century dispute between Romans (Byzantines as we render them today) and Franks, who, under Charlemagne's newly formed empire, and in concert with the Pope, attempted to legitimize their conquests by claiming inheritance of Roman rights in Italy thereby renouncing their eastern neighbours as true Romans. The Donation of Constantine, one of the most famous forged documents in history, played a crucial role in this. Henceforth, it was fixed policy in the West to refer to the emperor in Constantinople not by the usual "Imperator Romanorum" (Emperor of the Romans) which was now reserved for the Frankish monarch, but as "Imperator Graecorum" (Emperor of the Greeks) and the land as "Imperium Graecorum", "Graecia", "Terra Graecorum" or even "Imperium Constantinopolitanus". This served as a precedent for Wolf who was motivated, at least partly, to re-interpret Roman history in different terms. Nevertheless, this was not intended in a demeaning manner since he ascribed his changes to historiography and not history itself. Later a derogatory use of 'Byzantine' was developed.

It is said history is written by the winners, and no better example of this statement is of the treatment of the Byzantine Empire in history - an empire resented by Western Europe, as shown by the sacking of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade. A popular American university text-book4 on medieval history that circulated in the 1960s and 70s, has this to say in the only paragraph in the book devoted to "Byzantium":

"The history of Byzantium is a study in disappointment. The empire centering on Constantinople had begun with all the advantages obtained from the inheritance of the political, economic, and intellectual life of the 4th- century Roman empire ... Byzantium added scarcely anything to this superb foundation. The Eastern Roman empire of the Middle Ages made no important contributions to philosophy, theology, science or literature. Its political institutions remained fundamentally unchanged from those which existed ... at the end of the 4th century; while the Byzantines continued to enjoy an active urban and commercial life they made no substantial advance in the technology of industry and trade as developed by the cities of the ancient world. Modern historians of the medieval Eastern Roman empire have strongly criticized the tendency of 19th-century scholars to write off Byzantium as the example of an atrophied civilization. Yet it is hard to find ... any contribution by way of either original ideas or institutions which the medieval Greek-speaking peoples made to civilization." (pp. 248-9) (Wikipedia)

My conclusion is that the Byzantines are the Romans: this is what they called themselves and this is what is historically most justified. They may have had a Greek character, this was not new; they may have had an Eastern character, this was not new either. New was them being Byzantine, a term coined by the West for the reason of their own claim of Roman heritage and their unwillingness to share this with anyone else even when those others are more entitled to it. Those "others" were very much resented and considered inferieur, how could they ever be those great Romans that the West claims as its foundation? Is Rome its foundation really? That is an additional, but nothing seems to be more the inheritor of Rome than Nova Roma.



Edited by Hamoudeh
Back to Top
Maju View Drop Down
King
King
Avatar

Joined: 14-Jul-2005
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 6565
  Quote Maju Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Dec-2005 at 15:55
It's clear that Byzantium is the Eastern Roman Empire and that they called themselves Romans and not Byzantines or even Greeks. The name Byzantium is a recent construct by western authors that were used to consider Western Europe as the sole or main heir of Rome. This is only justified by one or two facts:
  • All speakers of dialects of Latin lived traditionally in SW Europe, with the notable exception of Rumania that anyhow never belonged to the Eastern Empire. The language of Byzantium was Greek instead.
  • The Christian Patriarchate of Rome (also Catholic Church) is a Western thing, being the only church that had Latin as oficial language.
In brief, for westerners, Romans were basically the dwellers of Rome and its region. In a wide sense those that spoke Latin or dialects of it, as well. Eastern Romans weren't therefore Roman but in name: they were clearly percieved as Greeks.

Instead, for Arabs and Muslims in general they were percieved as Romans, while westerners were called Franks. It's just a matter of names anyhow.

NO GOD, NO MASTER!
Back to Top
Hamoudeh View Drop Down
Knight
Knight


Joined: 06-Dec-2005
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 75
  Quote Hamoudeh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Dec-2005 at 19:34

It's more than a matter of names, it's a matter of heritage. If one would limit himself to Rome and surroundings, then the Western counterpart of the Roman empire was Roman in name only as well. Especially after its downfall, it was Germanic tribes that dominated the culture of the territories, which is most strongly evident in Spain and France. This however is not a stand that is taken, but it is being applied to the Eastern counterpart. As for Greek, this is true but Hellenic influences were there before the break as well. True, speakers of Latin lived traditionally in the West with the exception of Romania which was not part of Byzantium, but it's people had close relationships with Byzantium and part of its religion and for a significant part its culture as well. I have a nice book by Nicolae-Serban Tanasoca called Bizantul si Romanii which discusses this subject extensively. As for the religious factor, this was important indeed but historically it was not Latin that had the most prominent role in Christianity, and the Romans did not convert immediately. To Muslims and Arabs the Byzantines were Romans, but this was no different to Christians and non-Arabs that did not live west of the Empire. The non-Roman character of the Byzantine Empire is indeed a strictly western concept, and to me it seems to go in the line of a form of centrism that seeks to draw evyrthing it appreciates towards itself (such as the ancient Greek civilization as well) and reject any claims by others even if they are more valid. I was astonished how this idea about the Byzantines was still maintained today, though evidently much less than in the past.

 

Back to Top
Byzantine Emperor View Drop Down
Arch Duke
Arch Duke
Avatar
Kastrophylax kai Tzaousios

Joined: 24-May-2005
Location: United States
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 1800
  Quote Byzantine Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Dec-2005 at 19:54

Just some quick points that I would like to make, which you probably already know, Hamoudeh:

1.  "Byzantine" was a word to describe the Eastern Romans that was coined by a French philologist in the 17th century (a bit later than was mentioned above).  The Eastern Romans themselves referred to each other as "Romans" (Rhomaioi in Greek).  Later on (around the 14th and 15th centuries), however, some Byzantines began to call themselves Hellenes, which at the time conotated a nationalistic tone; in the early period the term Hellene was used to refer to a pagan Greek.

2.  The Turks used the term Rumi to describe the Byzantines, or Eastern Romans.  After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Turks referred to the Greek Orthodox Church itself (the Patriarchate) in Constantinople as Rum -- in essence, "Rome." 



Edited by Byzantine Emperor
Back to Top
Hamoudeh View Drop Down
Knight
Knight


Joined: 06-Dec-2005
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 75
  Quote Hamoudeh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Dec-2005 at 20:25

Yea, but thanks for your contributions guys. I just want to add on to the second point, that this is also how they were called by the Arabs and Muslims from the start. It is how they are addressed in the Qur'an, in fact an entire chapter is titled "al-Rum" in reference to the Byzantines. I do think the Seljuks would have called themselves Rum as well at times.

 

Back to Top
Maju View Drop Down
King
King
Avatar

Joined: 14-Jul-2005
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 6565
  Quote Maju Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Dec-2005 at 21:01
Medieval Western Europe was far much more than just Germanic warriors. The Romanized natives, who were the vast majority west of the Rhin and south of the Alps, felt themselves Romans even if their kings were Germans - Romanized Germans in fact. There was strong cultural continuity from the Late Empire to the Early Middle Ages, which was largely kept by a Church that felt itself Roman and that wrote and spoke in Latin. The actual process wasn't so much a Germanization of the Latin World but rather a Romanization of the Germanic world, Vikings included too eventually, and further east into the Magyar and Polish new states. Eventually, the Empire was restored in the person of Charlemagne, even if for most of its history wasn't but a vane dream with an odd geography.

At least until Luther's Reformation there was a clear ideological (religious) community in Western and Central Europe, that looked to Rome for its historical as well as spiritual reference. This is the core of what we call now Europe.

NO GOD, NO MASTER!
Back to Top
Hamoudeh View Drop Down
Knight
Knight


Joined: 06-Dec-2005
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 75
  Quote Hamoudeh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Dec-2005 at 21:54

I agree it was much more than Germanic warriors, and the Roman heritage had a significant impact. However, was this impact more thanin the Eastern counterpart of the Roman Empire which continued to exist? Was Charlemagne's restoration a restoration of Rome as much as the Eastern counterpart was in its continued existance? Both peoples felt Roman, but the Romanization in the East amongst the rulers was from the beginning and not after latter invasions and of those invading. The use of Latin is important, but Greek always played an important role because of Hellenism while when it comes to the Church the prominence of Latin was a latter phenomenon. If we look at the Roman Empire before it was split, it seems that Byzantine is its continuous heir while western revivals were from a perspective that was still developping. But even if it would simply be 50/50 or less, it is enough for accepting the Byzantines as heirs and that is something that is still not fully recognized by western scholars. This is manifest in the fact that it is still being called Byzantine, and that little else is considered scholarly acceptable.

 

Back to Top
Maju View Drop Down
King
King
Avatar

Joined: 14-Jul-2005
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 6565
  Quote Maju Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 00:30
I can just say that Latin was soon lost in the Eastern Empire and replaced by Greek. That kind of proves that they were Romans mostly in name only.

This was a decision taken when the centralized Roman Empire was still in existence: when the Empire was divided it was in a Latin (or properly Roman) half and a Greek (or Hellenistic) one. Both were called Roman Empire and none had anymore its capital in the city of Romulus but one spoke Latin and the other Greek as their main and oficial tongues. One was centered in Italy and the other in Greece. One had the Patriarch of Rome as main religious oficial, the other had four patriarchs with maybe that of New Rome (Constantinople) as the leader.

Can't say much more. It's a question of your own viewpoint.

NO GOD, NO MASTER!
Back to Top
Hamoudeh View Drop Down
Knight
Knight


Joined: 06-Dec-2005
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 75
  Quote Hamoudeh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 00:58

If you consider language as an argument, which is a valid point then it should also be applied in terms of religion when this is added as an argument. In Christianity, Latin was not the most significant language. As for the question of language itself, Latin was maintained as an official language for at least 2 centuries after the split and preserved up to the 11th century. Though language is a valid point, it is far from being decisive. As a popular language Greek was spoken before the split, as were other languages in both East and West. It is rather strange that an empire, which previously was considered Roman and changed little compared to its western counterpart that was sacked, would all of a sudden loose its Roman character because of a change in the official language.

What I find interesting in the argument of Byzantine's Hellenic character, is that pre-Byzantine Hellenism may not be considered Roman but it is considered western, as Roman would be considered western. I agree that pov is essential, but particularly in the centrism of the west in its treatment of others. When it fits the perspective, it is included but when there is a better alternative it is rejected. Historically speaking however, I think the preserving of a Roman character points to the East and not the West. Revival is what points to the West, but this has been shaped and formed in how the Roman character was perceived in the West and not as much the actual character itself.

 

Back to Top
Maju View Drop Down
King
King
Avatar

Joined: 14-Jul-2005
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 6565
  Quote Maju Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 03:04
Well, ask Romans, that is the people of the city Rome.

For the rest, I think that Western Europeans, though in cultural debt with Greece, like other peoples, don't feel very Greek themselves. But Roman or Latin... that's another thing.

You know: apart from a few colonies thare was never real Hellnization in Western Europe. Phoenician presence was much stronger (but was wiped out by Rome). But all Latin or Romance speaking peoples could visualize themselves as part of Rome: they had remains of aqueducts, theatres, villas, bridges, roads... all that was a Roman product, it wasn't just in the books. Even Britons, maybe the most marginal ones could see it.

Also, don't forget that it wasn't just cultural continuity: the Germanic states were instituted as governors (foederati) by the Empire. Visigoths and Franks, for instance were "legitimate" in the context of the Western Roman Empire, while others, specially Vandals, Sweves and Alans weren't so. There was almost total continuity in Romania (Latin speaking countries).

The state survived in the East but it was soon re-Hellenized. In the west the empire as such vanished but all the rest survived very solidly. Most pre-Roman identities had already vanished for the time of Roman fall, there was no other identity, no other language... with the exception of Basques and some peripheric Celts of Britain. Only Germans could be somehow apart but even they were also Romanized and it would be precisely Germans (Franks) who took over the task of integrating them better - by force in some cases.

I don't know... for me the continuity is very clear. You read about Visigoths and all the administration they had were Councils of bishops who spoke Latin. Same with Franks, same with Anglo-Saxons, same with Lombards, Burgundians, whatever.

It's like a cell that breaks apart to create many microcells. That's what happened with old and internally weakened Rome.

NO GOD, NO MASTER!
Back to Top
Alkiviades View Drop Down
Baron
Baron
Avatar

Joined: 01-Sep-2005
Location: Antarctica
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 469
  Quote Alkiviades Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 05:27

Primarily, basing the whole Roman identity thing on the language purely is rather counterproductive.

One should understand that the Roman legacy and culture was not "purely Roman" in any perceivable way to begin with. There is a great deal of validity in the notion of a "Graeco-Roman culture" - even before the Roman conquest of the Greek world (mainland Hellas and hellenistic east) the Romans had adopted the Greek culture, keeping though their distinct political structure intact and bulding upon it. When the Romans took over all lands (save Bactria) of Hellenic culture, they took over the Hellenic heritage as well. One cannot possibly separate the two cultures after 100 BC - as we can't separate (later on) the Christian from the Greek side of the eastern Empire.

After the separation of the east and west, the west gradually fell to a number of powers that tried to immitate Rome and continue its legacy. The East didn't have to - it was the nominal and legit heir of Rome; actually, it was Rome. The west didn't have it's center in Rome anymore anyway.

Rome, after the empire was created, was no more the sole defining factor of the Empire. You didn't have to be an inhabitant of Rome to be Roman citizen nor did you have to have "roman" blood. That is a very progressive view at the time, mind you. Extremely progressive. The Roman identiy was much diffused and no longer had any ties with "being Roman" the way it was in the Res Publica times.

The Latin language was, surely, still present but the language in itself is not defining the character of the state or its institutions. And definitely does not define the heir to the empire. And only the elites spoke Latin - the rest certainly did not. Not to mention that Greek was anyway the lingua franca in most of the empire and other languages (like Aramaic) had the same role locally.

So, Byzantium IS the Roman Empire, not "the eastern empire" or any other sophistry one might come up with. The Empire has evolved, as one would expect it would. If it hadn't evolved, the East would've fallen in the same time the West did. It had undergone major changes and gradually had to fully (and nominally) adopt the prevalent language - most of the inhabitants of the East spoke Greek, what else could be done?

The culture was Roman alright - Graeco-Roman, as it was from the very beginning of the Empire in the first century BC anyway. The western states that sprung from the ruins of the western empire, could not claim continuity - they destroyed everything Roman and then tried to adopt the Roman way themselves. Eventually they succeeded, but there is much more in being Roman than speaking Latin. Much, much, much more. You can't speak a culture, can you?  

Not to mention that in the West, only the higher clergy fully understood (and spoke) Latin. The people? Only in Italy (and only the majority of them) spoke the vulgar Latin of the middle ages - in the rest of Europe, everybody had his own language. The fact that several languages are highly influenced or derive from Latin is irrelevant also - the German peasants never spoke a word of Latin, neither did the English peasants. Even the elites, found their way into Latin only during the High middle ages.

Back to Top
Maju View Drop Down
King
King
Avatar

Joined: 14-Jul-2005
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 6565
  Quote Maju Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 20:29
Byzantium is the Eastern Roman Empire: one of the offsprings of Roman desintegration, an important one... but not the only one.

In the long run, anyhow, Western Europe was much more influenced by Rome than anywhere else. Mind that I am defending in another topic that Rome was pretty much irrelevant... Well, that's globally but not in regard to Western Europe. Western Europe without Rome would have been radically diferent.

Instead the Hellenistic world got almost nothing from Rome but political unity and the name.

This doesn't mean that Rome wasn't influence by the Hellenistic world. It means that Rome was intermediary between Greece and the then barbarian West. But this intermediation had a specific Roman imprint: it wasn't done in Greek language but in Latin, it wasn't done majorly by Greeks but by Romans and romanized Italians and Westerners. Almost all that came ultimately from Greece or other Oriental cultures west and north of Rome, came via Rome and in Latin. The only exceptions are Marseilles and its small dependencies on one hand, and whatever influence Carthage had, specially in Spain.

Even Christianism, originally a Greco-Hebrew religion, came to the West via Rome.

NO GOD, NO MASTER!
Back to Top
Alkiviades View Drop Down
Baron
Baron
Avatar

Joined: 01-Sep-2005
Location: Antarctica
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 469
  Quote Alkiviades Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Dec-2005 at 03:14

Nope, Byzantium is the Roman Empire, the sole heir to Rome, so to say (actually it's not even that, it is Rome).

Basing this whole thing on language and western perception, is rather wrong. The mediteranean culture was a Graeco-Roman one, period. Had the barbarians not injected their germanic ways, customs, tradition etc. the West would be looking more hellenistic than anything else. So if anything, the influence of Rome (what actually Rome was all about) is much weaker in the West, where the Roman tradition was destroyed and lay in rabbles in the middle ages. On the contrary, in the East there is a continuous legacy, uninterrupted - albeit it evolved over time to adopt to local conditions.

The modern view of "the West" being heir to Rome, is rather flawed and is based on wishful thinking more than anything else (and in the linguistic tradition and influence of the Latin language, of course). The west remained fragmented up to the end of the dark ages, and frankly the kingships didn't manage to restore any of the political unity until feudalism began losing ground.

Back to Top
Maju View Drop Down
King
King
Avatar

Joined: 14-Jul-2005
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 6565
  Quote Maju Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Dec-2005 at 04:17
Originally posted by Alkiviades

Nope, Byzantium is the Roman Empire, the sole heir to Rome, so to say (actually it's not even that, it is Rome).



That's just an opinion.

Basing this whole thing on language and western perception, is rather wrong.

It's not wrong. It can be partial but not wrong.

The mediteranean culture was a Graeco-Roman one, period.

Rather than "period", I'd say "question mark". There was never a full integration of both halves in one. Greek and Roman culture continued having some peculiarities, particularly language but ot only. Economically also: Rome and Italy, despite its might, never was but the periphery of the Ancient World. The Hellenistic World instead remained more or less at the center. But this is not a feature of Rome but a characteristic of the Ancient World (and I would say even that of the Medieval one). Even if Rome was a little more "centered" in the Middle Ages, it remained largely peripheric until Western Europe achieved its moment of glory in the Modern Age.


Had the barbarians not injected their germanic ways, customs, tradition etc. the West would be looking more hellenistic than anything else.

Here is where you are totally wrong. The West, maybe with the partial exception of Italy and a few colonies was rather barbaric before the Punic Wars. The more civilized ones were surely Iberians but that was largely due to Phoenician (and Greek) influence and to a long local urban history. The rest was basically Celtic (tremendously Barbarian for the most part) or other peoples that were at least that barbarian: Basques, Cantabrians, Picts...

Rome partly civilized that region but just up to a point and specially where there was already some urban tradition (Mediterranean coasts basically). There were no relevant cities in the Atlantic basin before the High Middle Ages or maybe before the Late ones.

If Rome would have not existed or its expansion would have been aborted, it is reasonable to guess that Carthage and Etruria would have taken its place rather than Greeks. I don't mean to deny Greek influence but it was small in comparison and limited to Marseilles and its hinterland.

The "germanic ways" are not something that you can consider introduced, except reasonably in Britain. Hispania and Gaul remained Roman for the most part with the notable exception of Vasconia, that remained pre-Roman.

I have to think hard to find in either the Frankish or the Visigothic kingdom a "germanic way" that wasn't merely anecdotic. Feudalism was something invented by Romans, not any Germanic introduction. And apart of the Salic law of the Franks, I can't think in any other item of relevance, not counting heavy cavalry.

So if anything, the influence of Rome (what actually Rome was all about) is much weaker in the West, where the Roman tradition was destroyed and lay in rabbles in the middle ages.

This is a totally wrong perception of Western Romania and the early Middle Ages. There was no destruction of Roman tradition: it endured perfectly. The only thing that broke down was Roman administration but that was because of Roman introduction of feudalism.

There is a wrong concept that barbarians invaded Rome. They did but mostly they allied with Rome and took over an administration that was falling down visibly. The ilegal invaders were for the most part wiped out or submitted. Only the legal foederati remained and they adapted for the most part to the provincial Roman nature of their new domains.

On the contrary, in the East there is a continuous legacy, uninterrupted - albeit it evolved over time to adopt to local conditions.

I don't deny it. But the evolution, unlike in the West, was largely a "regression" to Hellenism under Christian-Roman structure.


The modern view of "the West" being heir to Rome, is rather flawed and is based on wishful thinking more than anything else (and in the linguistic tradition and influence of the Latin language, of course). The west remained fragmented up to the end of the dark ages, and frankly the kingships didn't manage to restore any of the political unity until feudalism began losing ground.



Well, you are right in the sense that political unity wasn't but episodically regained, but this is also a product of Rome: of Roman decadence and feudalization. But for the rest, what really matters, that is: culture and social structure, there was no major discontinuity.

In fact the West remained frangmeted even after the so-called dark ages. The West is still fragmented, though maybe a little less that a century ago. Only under Charlemagne and the Ottos there was some resemblance of unity but it was very frail. Yet the ideal of unity was never totally lost, either via religious oecumene or via neo-imperial dreams.

But this is just political. Thanks precisely to its diversity, the West would show a much greater dynamism in the long run. Rome was stuck in its grandiosity, same can be said of Byzantium probably. Only the competitivity of the new Romanic offsprings would eventually show able to go beyond and replicate the brilliance of Classical Greece, which eventually, after Byzantium was gone, became a new cultural reference and ideal for Renaissance Europe.


NO GOD, NO MASTER!
Back to Top
Alkiviades View Drop Down
Baron
Baron
Avatar

Joined: 01-Sep-2005
Location: Antarctica
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 469
  Quote Alkiviades Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Dec-2005 at 08:40
Originally posted by Maju



That's just an opinion.

But an educated and intelligent one

It's not wrong. It can be partial but not wrong.

It's wrong alright, not merely partial. Language is not everything.

  Rather than "period", I'd say "question mark". There was never a full integration of both halves in one. Greek and Roman culture continued having some peculiarities, particularly language but ot only. Economically also: Rome and Italy, despite its might, never was but the periphery of the Ancient World. The Hellenistic World instead remained more or less at the center. But this is not a feature of Rome but a characteristic of the Ancient World (and I would say even that of the Medieval one). Even if Rome was a little more "centered" in the Middle Ages, it remained largely peripheric until Western Europe achieved its moment of glory in the Modern Age.

Economically, Italy was the center of the empire - probably because of the gathered resources from all over, but nevertheless it was. When the capital was (practically) moved to Constantinople, the center moved also. As simple as that. Could you say today that Egypt is "richer" than Italy? Well, it was back then. But that doesn't prove anything. Your point?


Here is where you are totally wrong. The West, maybe with the partial exception of Italy and a few colonies was rather barbaric before the Punic Wars. The more civilized ones were surely Iberians but that was largely due to Phoenician (and Greek) influence and to a long local urban history. The rest was basically Celtic (tremendously Barbarian for the most part) or other peoples that were at least that barbarian: Basques, Cantabrians, Picts (...)

First of all, the Karthagenian urban culture was extremely influenced by the Greek one - despite the constant animosity with the Sicilian Greeks, the Karthagenian nobility was bilingual (Greek-Phoenician) and in general the mediteranean basin, more or less, had a degree of cultural unity even before the Romans. The "West" is by large a product of (the absorbtion of the Roman influence by the) Germanic people. If you can't see the germanic influences apart the Salic law, then you either ain't looking at all, or there are great differences in what we see.

The whole western europe in 200 AD hosted 120 million people and in 600 AD it has fallen under 60! You call that "no destruction of the previous institutions and structure"?  Can you say "depopulated"? What kind of structures remain intact after such a vast destruction? And why such a destruction if "everything remained intact" as you perceive?


This is a totally wrong perception of Western Romania and the early Middle Ages. There was no destruction of Roman tradition: it endured perfectly. The only thing that broke down was Roman administration but that was because of Roman introduction of feudalism.

You can't believe such a thing, can you now? Nah, you are just trying to be a naysayer  

But this is just political. Thanks precisely to its diversity, the West would show a much greater dynamism in the long run. Rome was stuck in its grandiosity, same can be said of Byzantium probably. Only the competitivity of the new Romanic offsprings would eventually show able to go beyond and replicate the brilliance of Classical Greece, which eventually, after Byzantium was gone, became a new cultural reference and ideal for Renaissance Europe.

Ah, here you go. A number of fallacies in one sentence and you actually admit that the West wasn't about Rome after all, huh? "The new Roman offspring"? There was no such thing, there was a europe-wide Germanic nomenclature (even in the heart of Italy) and that led the way, not some reborn Romans - those existed on the Eastern part of the Empire solely and they were Greeks anyway. Renaissance didn't occur in western europe, it occured in Italy, land of the former Rome, and only after the Italic city states became strong enough and the church got weakened enough. And it didn't occur until the real Roman Empire was gone. The flux of Greek scholars into Italy is what kicked off the renaissance, dear Maju.

So, all your assertions are quite frankly wrong in regards to this. 

Back to Top
Heraclius View Drop Down
Chieftain
Chieftain
Avatar

Joined: 28-Jun-2005
Location: England
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 1231
  Quote Heraclius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Dec-2005 at 11:20

Alkiviades "The whole western europe in 200 AD hosted 120 million people and in 600 AD it has fallen under 60! You call that "no destruction of the previous institutions and structure"?  Can you say "depopulated"? What kind of structures remain intact after such a vast destruction? And why such a destruction if "everything remained intact" as you perceive?"

 Where did you get the figure of 120 million from for western europe? the highest numbers ive seen for the population of the entire Roman empire at its height is 60 to 70 million. So how could 120 million have existed in lands including only France, Spain and Britain and a few other smaller nations?

 

 

A tomb now suffices him for whom the world was not enough.
Back to Top
Ikki View Drop Down
Chieftain
Chieftain
Avatar
Guanarteme

Joined: 31-Dec-2004
Location: Spain
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 1378
  Quote Ikki Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Dec-2005 at 12:21
Originally posted by Hamoudeh

The reality is that the Byzantine Empire already took its new capital when the Roman Empire was still intact, whilst that what came to be known as Byzantine in the West was no less than the continuation of the eastern counterpart of the empire which remained intact for another thousand years, unlike the western counterpart which quickly collapsed. The lack of consensus on what exactly defines the beginning of the Byzantine Empire, reflects the incoherency of the use of Orientalist terminology on this subject:



The main byzantine historians, and i am remembering Ostrogorsky, say that the byzantine empire born with Heraclius. If we put Rome Principate and Later Republic like "ROME", between Diocletian and Heraclius we can talk about Later Roman, Later Empire, East Roman, Dominate... it is Rome transforming and Byzancium borning, here we can use the famous words roman-byzantine.
Of course these divisions are artificial, but show clear changes. For example, the idiom of the East Roman state was the latin, although the main idiom of the people was the greek; by the VII century the greek was the main idiom. Justinian amdministration is the Constantine'administration, but the administration of the VII century is new, radically new.

bye
Back to Top
Maju View Drop Down
King
King
Avatar

Joined: 14-Jul-2005
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 6565
  Quote Maju Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Dec-2005 at 16:12
Originally posted by Heraclius

Alkiviades "The whole western europe in 200 AD hosted 120 million people and in 600 AD it has fallen under 60! You call that "no destruction of the previous institutions and structure"?  Can you say "depopulated"? What kind of structures remain intact after such a vast destruction? And why such a destruction if "everything remained intact" as you perceive?"

 Where did you get the figure of 120 million from for western europe? the highest numbers ive seen for the population of the entire Roman empire at its height is 60 to 70 million. So how could 120 million have existed in lands including only France, Spain and Britain and a few other smaller nations?



Thanks, Heraklius. I was going to say about the same. The fact, is that we don't have good figures for Roman and post-Roman demographics, much less in the west. In any case, there's no clear depopulation, just desurbanization (ruralization), started already in the Imperial period and only slightly increased with the arrival of the Germanic administration.

To Alkiviades: could you point why you think that Western Europe was so clearly germanized. I see it almost in nothing, much less in anything that endured the test of time (with the British exception). As I said before, it was more a matter of Romanizing the Germans and later other nations such as Poles, Czechs or Magyars.

For the rest, you can put the emphasis in whatever you want but you are not saying anything diferent that I say... except maybe in Italy being the economical center of the Empire, something I can't agree with. Italy was a heavy importer and a weak producer: being fed by the taxes that it collected in the East basically.

NO GOD, NO MASTER!
Back to Top
Heraclius View Drop Down
Chieftain
Chieftain
Avatar

Joined: 28-Jun-2005
Location: England
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 1231
  Quote Heraclius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Dec-2005 at 16:52

 Maju. Yes it is worth pointing out that estimating the population of really any territory so distant in the past is extremely difficult, the best that can be offered really is educated guesses. Archeology can offer clues, but in total it is surely impossible to give a specific number, probably why estimates are often in broad bands, 60 - 80 million for example.

 I find it very difficult to believe though that in western europe in 200AD there was 120 million people, the combined population of modern day Britain and France is barely over 120 million.

A tomb now suffices him for whom the world was not enough.
Back to Top
Alkiviades View Drop Down
Baron
Baron
Avatar

Joined: 01-Sep-2005
Location: Antarctica
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 469
  Quote Alkiviades Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Dec-2005 at 01:28
Oops... that was supposed to be "the whole Roman Empire", not "western europe"... got carried away with the references on WE I guess. But the number stands, I have it in at least three rather serious sources (in a "100 to 120 million" form, that is) and that seems to me quite plausible.

So, are we all agreed that Byzantium is Rome and move on?
Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply Page  12>

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down

Bulletin Board Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 9.56a [Free Express Edition]
Copyright ©2001-2009 Web Wiz

This page was generated in 0.129 seconds.