From Rome to Constantinople
This introduction aims to sketch out the trajectories of Rome and Constantinople from the fourth to the sixth centuries, to survey the scholarship on the two cities, and to locate in this historical and historiographical context the chapters to come. The chapter cautions both against teleological approaches, which regard Rome’s replacement by Constantinople as inevitable, and against underestimating the distinctness of early Constantinople; it also draws attention to the disparities in evidence for the two cities. The foundation of Constantinople on the site of Byzantium is discussed in the context of the establishment of imperial residences in places other than in Rome, along with the implications of the city’s designation as New Rome; the sections that follow discuss the status of Constantinople in the mid- to late-fourth century (with a particular focus on the senate); the significance of Rome in the same period; Christianization and the status of the cities as religious centers; the transformation of the two cities in the fifth and sixth centuries; and the subsequent development of myths about the growth of Constantinople and the eclipse of Rome.
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