Anna Cagiç answers our three "Byzantine" questions below. Check what he says about her favorite Byzantine emperor and also about the awareness of Byzantine tradition in Serbia.
How did you first learn about Byzantium and what did you like about it?
As a Serb, growing up in the country that has historically been connected with the Basileia Romaion for ages, I've known about it since childhood. Back in the day, when I was not that aware of its magnificent past, I could still see its legacy all around. Carigrad, the “Emperor's City“, as we call Constantinople to this day, has always been like a magic spell. I remember the first and the only, hopefully not the last time I've visited Hagia Sophia...equipped with no more but basic knowledge, I entered the Great Church and, suddenly, it was only me, the temple and voices of the past. Stepping into history and the very core of Orthodox faith, it was not a moment of discovery, but of recognition and identification.
What is your favourite story/period/ emperor?
Now, an unlikely answer – Isaakios II Angelos, his time, his life and story, and his character. Crowned by the people of Constantinople, in Hagia Sophia, where he sought refuge after killing the notorious persecutor sent to arrest and murder him, on order of the cruel Andronikos I, Isaakios came into supreme power quite unexpectedly, still fairly young, facing very difficult situation around the Empire – the legacy of his predecessors, to be overthrown by the least suspected, his own brother Alexios, whom he loved unconditionally. Despite prevailing (undeserved) bad reputation in modern history and popular knowledge, this emperor was all but idle and utterly incompetent. Isaakios' story is almost legendary at times, tragic in the end, and definitely worth (re)telling; something I would gladly contribute. Besides, his reign marks an important point in relations between the Serbian medieval state and Basileia.
Do the people in your country learn(how) or know anything about Byzantium?
Bonds between the Eastern Roman Empire and Serbia are old and deep, however troublesome throughout history, rooted in the Orthodox tradition, above all. In our time, sadly, global trends force us to forget our past and our legacy. It is a difficult task, regardless of how it may seem, for legacy is a matter of the soul. Here, in Belgrade, we have lived to see the temple of Saint Sava, an important figure in both Serbian and Byzantine history, finished after decades of construction, built in neo-byzantine style, adorned with beautiful golden mosaics, „Saint Sophia of the Balkans“, as some like to call it. It speaks more than words about how, in the 21st century, we perceive the our own past and Byzantine tradition.
Check out our previous interviews with fans of Byzantium from
Also, check the rest of the interviews with Portuguese fan of Byzantium here: Click here
and with one from Japan here: Click here
with one from The Philippines: Click here