Byzantium - Cultural Identity?

May 2009
187
#1
So here's something I've been wondering in my recent readings on Byzantium.

How to culturally identify the empire?

Would you call it Greek or Roman?

I'm new to the subject and so call upon the much more experienced scholars of this field for guidance.
 
Aug 2009
81
The minds of the Admins
#2
The 'Byzantine' Empire was actually the Roman Empire the inhabitants called themselves Romaioi (Romans) and the the correct name of the Capital was actually Nova Roma the Term Byzantium and Byzantine originates from the name of the fishing town Nova Roma was built on and so that was the origin of the Term Byzantine which was never used by the Romaioi it was a traders term used by Europeans the Europeans also called them Greeks as well. But the Romaioi were Romans.

So yes IMO I would say they were Roman or: Romaioi
 
Aug 2009
81
The minds of the Admins
#4
True however they still called themselves Romaioi and their rulers still took Latin names granterd there were strong elements of Greek culture but they were still Roman.

I'm a Yankee but I have strong elements of southern culture but I'm still a Yankee
 

sturm

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
8,893
Bulgaria
#5
Sure thats true.
However sometimes people in Byzantium called themself christians, which maybe was more important then nationality.
Also lets not forget that Byzantium empire is a mix of many races..
 
Jun 2009
512
California
#6
There's an added complication, for there are actually two questions here:

1) How long did the Byzantines go on thinking of themselves as Romans?

2) How long did everyone else go on thinking of the Byzantines as Romans?

In theory, one could have had a situation where the Arabs or the Moors thought of the Byzantines as heirs to the Roman tradition while the Byzantines thought of themselves as... I dunno... Japanese or something. And contemporary Byzantine sources, like the Secret History of Procopius, are hard to interpret because of that strong religious element sturm remarked on in his post.
 

sturm

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
8,893
Bulgaria
#7
I think that byzantinians aways considered themself romans.
Bulgarians aways called then "romei" which means "romans", but deffentely there is strong religious element. Arabs usually called all christians, infidels, sometimes they called them by there nation. Look at my signature, they call bulgarians by nationality because they were still pagan, and they say "one horsmen of theres can face 100 or 200 horsemens of the infidels" without saying exactlly who the infidel is. Thats just a small example, i bet there are many such examples.
 
Jul 2009
120
U.S.
#10
By the end of the empire the Byzantines largely considered themselves to be Greek. Though the Romans once ruled the area, after the Empire split, the populace, which was largely Greek, began to dominate. Over time, as they drew their new Emperors from the East rather than the West, the Byzantine Empire slowly transformed into a Greek empire.

Further, after the Schism, both the Orthodox Church and the Emperor began to consciously emphasize their distinctions with the West - something that did not serve them well when the Turks showed up.

The Latin titles were only words and traditions by the end.
 

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