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Greeks and Italians. They are all Romans.


In one text, George Akropolitis - one of the greatest Byzantine scholars - gives us one of the few and very interesting interpretations of the concept of what meant for a Byzantine to call themselves as Romans, which was connected with the ecumenical ideology of the Byzantine/Roman state.


In addressing the Latins, Akropolites recalls the love that once united the Greeks and the Italians. He mentions that the Italians took knowledge and science from the Greeks.

But in order not to be described by pagan names, a New Rome, Constantinople, was built. Thus from the two Romes both people were called Romans. These two states were united by common state institutions (laws, councils, courts).


In other words, Akropolites gives the concept of Roman a parallel identity. If we wanted to make a (perhaps arbitrary) reduction to the present it is something like saying Greek as a citizen of Greece and European citizen as a citizen of the EU.


*It is important not to take the sources for granted. The Byzantine state imposed political concepts and did not allow for interpretations in terms of ethnic or civil identity. It just said: You are Romans, that's all!


No one has ever openly addressed the question of Roman, Graikos, Hellen in a treatise. We have scattered but isolated examples in texts and letters. (Vatatzis' admission of his descent from the Greek race, the use of Ancient Roman titles by Manuel Komnenos, D. Kydoni's reference to his descent from colonists of Rome, etc.). One of these is that of Akropolitis quoted in this post.




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