Re: Themistokle, wasn't Byzantium founded by the Greek adventurer

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Posted by Themistokles on February 16, 2001 at 22:40:20:

In Reply to: Re: Themistokle, wasn't Byzantium founded by the Greek adventurer posted by Joanna on February 16, 2001 at 04:50:41:

: : Themistokles

: Themistokle,

: From what I've read the name BYZANTIUM was given to the city because it's founder was BYZAS. This is the story in brief: About 2600 years ago, the shores of the Bosporus were settled by Greeks. These first settlers were blind to the advantages of the site of the future city (Byzantium) and settled at Chalcedon instead. According to legend the Oracle of Delphi instructed a 2nd expedition to found a colony opposite the "city of the blind", and these men, seeing the Chalcedonians' mistake, decided to make their home on the soil of the future city. BYZAS, their leader, is said to have given the name BYZANTIUM to the little town he built on the headland in about 660 B.C.

: I'd like to hear your opinion, or what you know about it.

Thank you for the note, Joanna. Yes, the word Byzantium (or "Byzantion" in Greek) was a city founded by (emigrating) citizens of Megara (a small town outside of Athens) around the 7th century B.C. What I referred to originally in my message, however, was that the use of the term "Byzantine Empire" by the western Europeans as a description removed all references to the official term that the "Byzantines" themselves used to describe themselves, namely, that of "Romans". (This is why one often hears modern Hellenes referrering to themselves as "Romoii").

We musn't forget how much anger that the complete move of the Roman Empire's Rome-based administration caused in the west when Constantine (son of St. Helen) moved it to the small Hellenic city of Byzantium in the early 300's A.D. He even moved to his new capital a great deal of the art that the Romans had looted (stolen) from Greece (hundreds of thousands of statues, paintings etc.) following their conquest of Greece around the 140's B.C..

His new capital's symbol remained the ancient Byzantine emblem of the crescent moon (yes, the very symbol that's on today's Turkish flag); yet, the empire's new symbol became the two-headed eagle, symbolizing the two-directions that the (new) Roman Empire looked to in the 320's (A.D.). Rome's official symbol was the (single-headed) eagle.

So my point was and is: that by removing any use of the word "Eastern Roman Empire" when describing the Constantinople-based empire, the Franks aimed to (and succeeded) create a mind-set that the only Roman empire was that of Charlamagne's Frankish empire (which wasn't even based in Rome, but in Germany/France). Thus, out went the term "Roman" in describing Constaninople and in came the pre-Christian name of "Byzantium." Similar misuses of naming conventions that one can talk about are the terms "Balkan Peninsula", "Kosovo", "Istanbul", "Macedonian Republic" etc.

Take care and I look forward to others to contribute to this discussion.


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