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Two RomesRome and Constantinople in Late Antiquity$
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Lucy Grig and Gavin Kelly

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199739400

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199739400.001.0001

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From Rome to New Rome, from Empire to Nation-State

From Rome to New Rome, from Empire to Nation-State

Reopening the Question of Byzantium’s Roman Identity

Chapter:
(p.387) 17 From Rome to New Rome, from Empire to Nation-State
Source:
Two Romes
Author(s):

Anthony Kaldellis

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199739400.003.0017

The book’s epilogue is a wide-ranging and revisionist essay on the nature of the Byzantine Empire in the middle period (ca. 700–1200) and the place of Constantinople within it. Scholarly orthodoxy, resting on the foundations of both western anti-Byzantinism and Greek nationalism, has been to emphasize the Christian and Greek elements of Byzantium and to downplay or ignore the Byzantines’ self-identification as Romans: Byzantium has been viewed as a multiethnic empire with universalist ideological claims, and the Byzantines’ identification as Romans has been tied to their Christianity or to their political subjection to the Roman emperor and its capital, the New Rome. The chapter proposes that Byzantium —which its own people called Romanía, the land of the Romans—is better defined as the nation-state of the Roman people, and that the emperor and capital’s identity as Roman stemmed from the people’s. The foundations of this Roman identity ran deep, since the Romanization of the eastern empire in the early centuries AD; indeed, they had been laid down for the most part before Constantinople was even founded. The city was an important but not a constitutive element of Roman identity.

Keywords:   New Rome, Byzantium, Byzantine Empire, Constantinople, identity, Romanía, Christianity, romanization

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