Byzantium

H. Glykatzi Arveler / Ελένη Γλύκατζη – Αρβελέρ

Introduction

The term Byzantium is rashly given to the Christianized eastern part of the Roman Empire, which had Constantinople as its administrative and cultural center and which controlled significant regions of Europe, Asia and Northern Africa from 330 to 1453. At its acme, it extended from the Euphrates to Spain and from the Nile to the Danube. The various peoples that inhabited these lands had a common characteristic: they were influenced, more or less, by Greek civilization, which was mainly conveyed through language.

Read more…

Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

St Constantine and Helen (May 21) – «In this thou shalt win»

Great Constantine this renowned sovereign of the Christians was the son of Constantius Chlorus (the ruler of the westernmost parts of the Roman empire), and of the blessed Helen. He was born in 272, in (according to some authorities) Naissus of Dardania, a city on the Hellespont. In 306, when his father died, he was proclaimed successor to his throne, in York. In 312, on learning that Maxentius and Maximinus had joined forces against him, he marched into Italy, where, while at the head of his troops, he saw in the sky after midday, beneath the sun, a radiant pillar in the form of a cross with the words: «In this thou shalt win» (Greek: ΕΝ ΤΟΥΤΩ ΝΙΚΑ). Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

National Healthcare and the Church-State Relationship in Romiosini (Byzantium)

hospital

http://www.amazon.com/Birth-Hospital-Byzantine-Empire/dp/0801856574

«Dr. Miller is a learned and enterprising historian with a fascinating theme. He shows beyond a doubt that the Western hospital tradition goes back to the early Byzantine Empire in the fourth century.» — Medical History

Fr. Romanides writes about the relationship between Church and State in the Roman Empire following the conversion to Christianity of Emperor Constantine the Great saying:

«The great struggle between paganism and Christianity in the time of Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337) is reflected in the difference between Roman Greeks (meaning Pagans) and Roman Christians. All Pagan Romans were defending their aristocratic ancient Hellenic identity and traditions which was being torn apart by the aristocratic identity of the cure of glorification which was open to all Romans, both gentis and non-gentis, and to all non-Romans.» Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The Early Centuries of the Greek Roman East (3)

The coronation of David. Miniature from the byzantine Psalter of the National Library of Paris (early 10th century). Η στέψη του Δαβίδ. Μικρογραφία από το βυζαντινό Ψαλτήρι της Εθνικής Βιβλιοθήκης των Παρισίων (αρχές 10ου αιώνος).

The coronation of David. Miniature from the byzantine Psalter of the National Library of Paris (early 10th century). Ο Δαβίδ στεφόμενος. Μικρογραφία από το βυζαντινό Ψαλτήρι της Εθνικής Βιβλιοθήκης των Παρισίων (αρχές 10ου αιώνος).

(continuation from 2)

Literature and the Arts

Outside the Augustaeum, in Constantinople, one would notice a statue of Justinian wearing what was known at the time as the armour of Achilles. But the Emperor carried no weapon. Instead he held in his left hand the symbol of power of the Christian Roman Emperor, the globe, which signified his dominion over land and sea, and on the globe was a cross, the emblem of the source of his rule. Justinian as Achilles was a natural example of the fusion of classical culture with Christianity in the Eastern Roman Empire. This fusion begun before Justinian’s time but was to continue to be one of the distinguishing marks of education and literature in the age of Justinian. Along with the legal and architectural splendours discussed above, the reign of Justinian also saw a flowering of literature such as the Greco-Roman world had not enjoyed for many years.

The earliest Christians avoided the worldly learning of the Greeks with their «philosophy and deceit», and saw no way in which the blasphemous literature could be brought into any sort of relationship with Christian teaching. This reaction of many Christians, as late as the second century, could be summed up in Tertullian’s famous phrase, «what has Athens to do with Jerusalem?» In time, however, Christian thinkers began to realize that there was much to be carried over into Christian teaching from the Classical Greeks. Socrates and Plato, for example, often seemed to approximate Christian thought. Likewise many of the writings of Aristotle could be fit right into the teachings of the Church.  MORE… Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The Early Centuries of the Greek Roman East (2)

A page of a byzantine illuminated manuscript of the 12th century, depicting the Ascension of Christ and two prophets.

A page of a byzantine illuminated manuscript of the 12th century, depicting the Ascension of Christ and two prophets. Φύλλο από βυζαντινό εικονογραφημένο χειρόγραφο του 12ου αιώνος, που απεικονίζει την Ανάληψη του Χριστού και δύο προφήτες.

Continuation from (1)

The Advancement of Architecture

The ruler as builder was one of the oldest ideals of a sovereign. Public buildings and other structures were, in principle, gifts to be used by the ruler’s subjects, but also monuments of the greatness of the ruler. Justinian strove hard to realize this ideal. The greatest buildings he erected or rebuilt were in Constantinople, the city which was now the embodiment of the civilization of the Eastern Roman Empire. Numerous magnificent and artistically beautiful structures were constructed or rebuilt during his reign. They included statues, churches and various other monuments. His crowning achievement was the building of St. Sophia, the Church of Holy Wisdom. This building was considered by many an architectural wonder of the middle ages, and is still standing strong today. Its design, size, artwork, name and its significance made it a building that symbolized the religious and philosophical epicenter of Constantinople and Byzantine civilization.

Even before he came to power, during his uncle’s reign, Justinian had already set about to rehabilitate and rebuild many churches in Constantinople and its suburbs. This work began mostly in a private capacity and reflected the piety which was to show itself further when Justinian became emperor. The chief church in this category was St. Accius, a Cappadocian soldier who had been executed at Byzantium in the early 300’s and was venerated as one of the leading martyrs who had suffered on the site of the future Constantinople. Six other churches were similarly rebuilt. One was St. Mocius. This was one of the most famous shrines in Constantinople. It was said to have been originally a temple of Zeus, which Constantine then converted into a church. Other churches included St. Plato, martyred at Ancyra, and St. Thyrsus, executed in Nicomedia in the same persecution. In the suburbs of Constantinople he rebuilt a church of the famous woman martyr, St. Thecla, who suffered in the first Christian century. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The Early Centuries of the Greek Roman East (1)

Justinian with his entourage (courtiers and guards), the bishop of Ravenna Maximian and clergy. Mosaic in the church of St. Vitalius in Ravenna (548AD). Ο Ιουστινιανός με την συνοδία του (αυλικούς και φρουρούς), τον επίσκοπο της Ραβέννας Μαξιμιανό και κληρικούς. Ψηφιδωτό στην εκκλησία του Αγίου Βιταλίου στην Ραβέννα (548 μΧ).

Justinian with his entourage (courtiers and guards), the bishop of Ravenna Maximian and clergy. Mosaic in the church of St. Vitalius in Ravenna (548AD). Ο Ιουστινιανός με την συνοδία του (αυλικούς και φρουρούς), τον επίσκοπο της Ραβέννας Μαξιμιανό και κληρικούς. Ψηφιδωτό στην εκκλησία του Αγίου Βιταλίου στην Ραβέννα (548 μΧ).

I.The Foundation of Constantinople and the Adoption of Christianity

We begin our story about the history of Romiosini or the Greek Middle ages with the founding of Constantinople, the capital city of the Eastern Roman Empire. Constantinople was founded by the Roman emperor Constantine I (324-337) who wanted to establish, for various political reasons, a new capital city for the Roman Empire in the east. Ultimately, this change was brought about because of the turmoil which the Roman Empire was facing in the west at the time. With much of the western territories having been destroyed by the invasions of the Germanic tribes, Rome was in constant danger of being attacked. Moreover, with the eastern frontier of the Empire stretching over all of Asia Minor and Syria, Rome was no longer in a position to check the ongoing hostilities with Persia. Consequently, after a series of internal struggles among the ruling powers of the Empire, Constantine -who emerged victorious-chose as the location of his new capital the ancient Greek city of Byzantion. In 324 Constantine transformed Byzantion into «The New Rome» or «Constantinopolis», the City of Constantine. The people often referred to it simply as «The City» or, in Greek, «Hi Polis». MORE… Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »