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Author Topic: Byzantium: The Lost Empire?  (Read 5918 times) Average Rating: 0
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Andreas
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« on: June 06, 2004, 11:23:13 AM »

Is it any good?

http://shopping.discovery.com/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10000&storeId=10000&productId=56053&langId=-1&search=Y&searchKey=1877049545


http://shopping.discovery.com/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10000&storeId=10000&productId=11448&langId=-1&search=Y&searchKey=1877049545
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« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2004, 12:35:28 PM »

Andreas,
I have not seen it, so I dont know, There are some good full length historical films (including much on Byzantium) on the Greek Archdiocese website in Real Media or Quicktime. go to www.goarch.org and follow links to multi-media resources. Hope you find something helpful.

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« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2004, 01:43:00 AM »

Thanks. Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2007, 04:19:29 PM »

This is terrific overall, I think. You may not agree with all of his interpretations (they are all well-considered), and it certainly isn't a standard history---more of a series of reflections---but I think John Romer really gets Byzantium, especially its mindset and culture, what made it special and different than other civilizations. Also, he takes you all over the place---Italy, Constantinople, Cappadocia, Russia, etc. It is a joy to see all the wonderful places (many of which I will never be able to see myself).

I first saw it on the Learning Channel back in 1997 (its debut) and taped it. Later I was able to buy the DVDs. Buy it or Netflix it!

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« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2007, 07:30:00 PM »


I have the older VHS 1997 version of this Film, an Exceptional film which relives the glory that was Byzantium.  Running time approx. 200 mins.

(From the back cover:) 

"Explore gigantic, subterranian water cisterns and the magnificent mosque ( church )Hagia Sophia.  Vist the treasuryof St. Mark's in Venice, resting place for some of Christendom's most revered antiquities--never before filmed for television.  Shot on location in nine countries, Byzantium: The Lost Empire transposts youtoa world tha thistory has nearly forgotten, but on that you will most certainly never forget."
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« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2007, 12:48:07 PM »

This is terrific overall, I think. You may not agree with all of his interpretations (they are all well-considered), and it certainly isn't a standard history---more of a series of reflections---but I think John Romer really gets Byzantium, especially its mindset and culture, ....


Not if he calls it "Byzantium" he doesn't.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13337.0.html
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« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2007, 07:06:20 PM »

Perfectly useful historical term. Old Rome centered on Rome and Greek-speaking eastern Rome centered on Constantinople (the former town of Byzantium) grew to have very different characters and should be made distinct historically to avoid confusion.

My professor and thesis advisor, a Romanian Orthodox, is an expert Byzantinist, and that is what he calls it. In the Byzantine history course I took with him, we spent some time on nomenclature and discussed at what point it was useful to change the name from (Eastern) Roman empire to Byzantine empire. A small number of historians and archeologists prefer to place it at the founding of Constantinople, others place it at the accession of Theodosius, others place it after the fall of western Rome, others place it at the accession of Justinian, and a small number of others do it at the Iconoclastic period.

My professor and I agreed, and others also, that the best time to begin calling it the Byzantine empire is at the reign of Herakleios. I think the empire after the Persian and Islamic wars was different than before---there was a paradigm shift, and it was after then that the character of medieval Byzantium as we know it was largely established. I also think that by this time the Hellenization of the empire was largely complete.

John Romer did not do a program on the Latin Roman empire but on the medieval Greek-speaking Roman empire historians call Byzantium. I think it is an appropriate title, avoiding confusion, and he does not give short shrift at all to the Byzantines' identity as the Christian Imperium Romanum---in fact, much of his program is devoted to it.

Give it a look and you will see.
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« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2007, 07:51:25 PM »

Perfectly historical term to you and your professor. The "historians" who use the term are the ones we claim, quite correctly, to be wrong. No where in all my readings have I seen the Constantinopalitans refer to themselves as anything but Romans.
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« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2007, 08:26:04 PM »

So how many inhabitants of pre-Ottoman Constantinople spoke modern English?  Different languages have different names for the same thing. 
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« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2007, 08:27:53 PM »

Perfectly historical term to you and your professor. The "historians" who use the term are the ones we claim, quite correctly, to be wrong. No where in all my readings have I seen the Constantinopalitans refer to themselves as anything but Romans.

That's not the point. The Persians did not call themselves Persians, the Germanic tribes did not call themselves Germans, the Scythians did not call themselves Scythians, etc. There was no such thing as "Late Antiquity" or "medieval Italy," but the terms have some use for historians.

No historian claims that the Byzantines called themselves that. That is what WE call them to avoid confusion. Anyone who has studied anything at all of Byzantine history knows that the civilization was the continuation of the Roman empire in the East. But the Roman empire of ca. 300 was not the Roman empire of ca. 1000, hence the use of (artificial but useful) Byzantine to describe that medieval civilization.

-

Historians do not mean anything else by the use of this term. Honestly, for too many Greeks and Slavs, the field of history seems to be only an arena for competing nationalisms to battle it out.
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« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2007, 08:36:46 PM »

That's an ad hominen, my friend.
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« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2007, 08:44:11 PM »

Wasn't directed specifically at you. Just a general comment about "Greek" and "Slavic" history as still often practiced today.

(MTA: Of course, nationalism as history is not just a Greek and Slavic problem.)
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« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2007, 10:28:26 PM »

Historians do not mean anything else by the use of this term. Honestly, for too many Greeks and Slavs, the field of history seems to be only an arena for competing nationalisms to battle it out.

Lubeltri,
Making general insulting statements about particular ethnicities based on how it "seeems" to you is simply stereotying and a sweeping ad hominem, and a cheap shot below the belt at yoiur opponent whom you know to be Greek. Trying to cover it up as a "general statement" simply won't wash.

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« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2007, 10:29:43 PM »

Honestly, for too many Greeks and Slavs, the field of history seems to be only an arena for competing nationalisms to battle it out.
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"Too many" is too many?

Hmm. . . is this good enough for you?

Honestly, for no Greeks and Slavs, the field of history seems to be only an arena for competing nationalisms to battle it out.


My comment was more generally directed at some practitioners of Greek and Slavic history than "laymen," if you will. It's somewhat of a controversy in the field of history, even post-Cold War.

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« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2007, 10:36:46 PM »

My comment was more generally directed at some practitioners of Greek and Slavic history than "laymen," if you will.
Then you should have said that, shouldn't you? rather than make a statement which appears to be stereotyping ethnicities generally.
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« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2007, 10:41:11 PM »

Then you should have said that, shouldn't you? rather than make a statement which appears to be stereotyping ethnicities generally.


I apologize for not being clearer with my language. I harbor absolutely no animus against either Greeks or Slavs. It was sort of a side comment that I tacked on after I posted.

And like I said, nationalism (or ideology in general) as history is not only a Greek or Slavic problem.

Please forgive me for any offense.
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« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2007, 10:50:38 PM »

Regardless of how Lubeltri phrased what he said, there is a serious problem with the perception of history and it being used to in modern politics to justify policy.   And of course there are Western historians who embrace nationalism and Slavic and Greek scholars who emphatically reject it.  A very good, but subtle, refutation of this was written in Norman Davies's introduction to God's Playground
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« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2007, 10:58:50 PM »

 And of course there are Western historians who embrace nationalism and Slavic and Greek scholars who emphatically reject it. 

Indeed, my Romanian professor has been actively involved in denouncing nationalism in Romanian historiography for years.
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« Reply #18 on: December 01, 2007, 11:04:13 PM »

Indeed, my Romanian professor has been actively involved in denouncing nationalism in Romanian historiography for years.

Oh boy, you did it again... Romanians are neither Slav nor Greek.   Cheesy
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« Reply #19 on: December 01, 2007, 11:21:06 PM »

lubeltri,

Be careful, you have entered a mine field...
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« Reply #20 on: December 01, 2007, 11:24:35 PM »

Not if he calls it "Byzantium" he doesn't.

Yep. Calling Constantinople "Byzantium" is no different to calling Native Americans "Indians". Native Americans never identified themselves as "Indians", it was simply a name imposed on them by those who felt themselves superior to them and wanted to treat 500 different Nations as one by giving them an identity which in no way was reflective of their real identity. In the same way, using the words "Byzantium" and "Byzantine" is just a cheap shot which any enlightened person would not lower themselves to. There was never a "Patriarch of Byzantium" or a Christian "Emperor of Byzantium". They were the Patriarch of Constantinople, and the Emperor of Rome whose Christian subjects were not "Byzantines" but "Romans". In my estimation, using the word "Byzantines" to describe Christians under Constantinople, given what is now public knowledge about the history of Constantinople, the New Rome, is simply insulting, not only to Christians under Constantinople, but Christianity itself, since it is an attempt at revisionist history in order to divorce Christianity from the history of The City of Constantinople.
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« Reply #21 on: December 01, 2007, 11:36:30 PM »

Oh boy, you did it again... Romanians are neither Slav nor Greek.   Cheesy

D'oh! Of course you're right. I shouldn't have left the Hungarians and Romanians out of this Wink It's really a problem across the former Soviet bloc countries.
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« Reply #22 on: December 01, 2007, 11:53:51 PM »

The Romans did get around back in the day... Smiley

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« Reply #23 on: December 02, 2007, 12:17:57 AM »

In my estimation, using the word "Byzantines" to describe Christians under Constantinople, given what is now public knowledge about the history of Constantinople, the New Rome, is simply insulting, not only to Christians under Constantinople, but Christianity itself, since it is an attempt at revisionist history in order to divorce Christianity from the history of The City of Constantinople.

My goodness, I didn't know it was that bad!  Shouldn't we be re-naming some things on this forum then?  Like in this poll, shouldn't the top entry be "Roman" chant?

http://www.orthodox.ws/index.php?option=com_poll&task=results&id=15


And shouldn't this thread be called "Links for Roman Music?"

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,12314.0.html
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« Reply #24 on: December 02, 2007, 12:27:40 AM »

My goodness, I didn't know it was that bad!  Shouldn't we be re-naming some things on this forum then?  Like in this poll, shouldn't the top entry be "Roman" chant?

http://www.orthodox.ws/index.php?option=com_poll&task=results&id=15


And shouldn't this thread be called "Links for Roman Music?"

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,12314.0.html

We Romans are a forgiving bunch. We understand that there is a lot of bad learning that needs to be undone. Wink
In fact, when Constantinople fell to the Ottomans, the Grand Duke of the City, Luke Notaras said: "Better the Sultan's Turban in the midst of the City than the Latin Mitre" and this proved to be prophetic. To this day, the Turks still call the Eastern Orthodox Christian citizens of Turkey "Romans"- a respect which even the Western Churches do not accord them. The Conquerers of Constantinople still treat the conquered citizens with more respect than the West does. The Turks only took their lives and livelihood. The West wants to take away even their identity.
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« Reply #25 on: December 02, 2007, 12:46:42 AM »

Romaioi...
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« Reply #26 on: December 02, 2007, 12:48:24 AM »

Yep. Calling Constantinople "Byzantium" is no different to calling Native Americans "Indians". Native Americans never identified themselves as "Indians", it was simply a name imposed on them by those who felt themselves superior to them and wanted to treat 500 different Nations as one by giving them an identity which in no way was reflective of their real identity. In the same way, using the words "Byzantium" and "Byzantine" is just a cheap shot which any enlightened person would not lower themselves to. There was never a "Patriarch of Byzantium" or a Christian "Emperor of Byzantium". They were the Patriarch of Constantinople, and the Emperor of Rome whose Christian subjects were not "Byzantines" but "Romans". In my estimation, using the word "Byzantines" to describe Christians under Constantinople, given what is now public knowledge about the history of Constantinople, the New Rome, is simply insulting, not only to Christians under Constantinople, but Christianity itself, since it is an attempt at revisionist history in order to divorce Christianity from the history of The City of Constantinople.

I think you are presuming too much here. Do you really think the 99% of historians who use the term Byzantine have such motives?

Just one of many examples: Deno John Geanakoplos, the eminent Yale professor of Byzantine and Orthodox Church history who died in October, a recipient of the Gold Cross of the Order of King George I and named an Archon by the Ecumenical Patriarch, used Byzantine in his work. Do you ascribe such malevolent motives to him?
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« Reply #27 on: December 02, 2007, 12:53:34 AM »

The Conquerers of Constantinople still treat the conquered citizens with more respect than the West does. The Turks only took their lives and livelihood. The West wants to take away even their identity.

What citizens, George? There are hardly any left. You know you may have a hard time finding an EP soon, or at least one who is based in Constantinople. . .
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« Reply #28 on: December 02, 2007, 12:59:44 AM »

What citizens, George? There are hardly any left.
Yes, but they are still there, and they are still called "Romans" by their Conquerors. You won't even give them that respect.
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« Reply #29 on: December 02, 2007, 01:04:16 AM »

Perfectly useful historical term. Old Rome centered on Rome and Greek-speaking eastern Rome centered on Constantinople (the former town of Byzantium) grew to have very different characters and should be made distinct historically to avoid confusion.

My professor and thesis advisor, a Romanian Orthodox, is an expert Byzantinist, and that is what he calls it. In the Byzantine history course I took with him, we spent some time on nomenclature and discussed at what point it was useful to change the name from (Eastern) Roman empire to Byzantine empire. A small number of historians and archeologists prefer to place it at the founding of Constantinople, others place it at the accession of Theodosius, others place it after the fall of western Rome, others place it at the accession of Justinian, and a small number of others do it at the Iconoclastic period.

My professor and I agreed, and others also, that the best time to begin calling it the Byzantine empire is at the reign of Herakleios. I think the empire after the Persian and Islamic wars was different than before---there was a paradigm shift, and it was after then that the character of medieval Byzantium as we know it was largely established. I also think that by this time the Hellenization of the empire was largely complete.

John Romer did not do a program on the Latin Roman empire but on the medieval Greek-speaking Roman empire historians call Byzantium. I think it is an appropriate title, avoiding confusion, and he does not give short shrift at all to the Byzantines' identity as the Christian Imperium Romanum---in fact, much of his program is devoted to it.

Give it a look and you will see.

Dark Ages is a perfectly useful historical term, especially if you want to discredit the Latin Church's role in civlizing Europe and keeping it civilized. Shocked

What paradigm shift?  It was still Roman (the Old Empire was Hellenized as well).
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« Reply #30 on: December 02, 2007, 01:05:37 AM »

Yes, but they are still there, and they are still called "Romans" by their Conquerors. You won't even give them that respect.

And, I might add, the Turks even call me "Roman" too. And again, you wont accord me that respect. I'm treated with more respect by the non-Christian enemies of my Church than by you.
As the Grand Duke said: "Better the Sultan's Turban in the midst of the City than the Latin Mitre"
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« Reply #31 on: December 02, 2007, 01:07:26 AM »

What citizens, George? There are hardly any left. You know you may have a hard time finding an EP soon, or at least one who is based in Constantinople. . .

In Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem we have millions of Rum (though millions speak Arabic, like yours truely Grin).

There's always the Avignon solution.
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« Reply #32 on: December 02, 2007, 01:11:46 AM »

Personally, I think Byzantium is a grand, glorious and august name. The Byzantines were greater than old pagan Rome. They were a Christian imperium whose glory and power preserved and protected Christian civilization, including that in the West. Their legacy endures.

THAT is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
- Those dying generations - at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
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« Reply #33 on: December 02, 2007, 01:13:15 AM »

Personally, I think Byzantium is a grand, glorious and august name. The Byzantines were greater than old pagan Rome.
Good for you. Roll Eyes
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« Reply #34 on: December 02, 2007, 01:18:46 AM »

George,

You are neither Roman nor Byzantine. The empire passed away a long time ago.

I don't even call myself Roman though my ancestors came from both what is modern-day Italy and Greece.

Of course the Byzantines were Romans, but like I said before, the empire of ca. 300 was very different from the empire of ca. 1000. The distinction is made not to show disrespect but to reduce confusion. Which is why even Greek historians use it.
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« Reply #35 on: December 02, 2007, 01:20:07 AM »

Tell me lubeltri, if a Navaho just finished telling you that he considered being called "Indian" to be an insult and explained to you why this is so, would you tell him that "Indian" is an "august name" and insist on calling him that? Or would you reflect on how you word things?
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« Reply #36 on: December 02, 2007, 01:25:17 AM »

Dark Ages is a perfectly useful historical term, especially if you want to discredit the Latin Church's role in civlizing Europe and keeping it civilized. Shocked

Not useful. It has been discarded and discredited.

If Byzantium ever had a pejorative sense, it has lost it, among most historians, at least. The field itself is even called Byzantine studies. I doubt Byzantinists disrespect the very civilization they've spent their whole lives studying.

A good parallel would be Middle Ages---it used to have a pejorative meaning. It has lost that. Gothic too.
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« Reply #37 on: December 02, 2007, 01:26:21 AM »

The Great Karnak is feeling a headache is a coming and will take leave of this current discussion...

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An old timer is a man who's had a lot of interesting experiences -- some of them true.

Grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.
lubeltri
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« Reply #38 on: December 02, 2007, 01:29:19 AM »

Dark Ages is a perfectly useful historical term, especially if you want to discredit the Latin Church's role in civlizing Europe and keeping it civilized. Shocked

Not useful. It has been discarded and discredited.

If Byzantium ever had a pejorative sense, it has lost it, among most historians, at least. The field itself is even called Byzantine studies. I doubt Byzantinists disrespect the very civilization they've spent their whole lives studying.

A good parallel would be Middle Ages---it used to have a pejorative
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ozgeorge
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« Reply #39 on: December 02, 2007, 01:30:13 AM »

You are neither Roman nor Byzantine. The empire passed away a long time ago.
Exactly who are you to tell me what I am and what my ethnicity is?
"Greek" is not an ethnicity in Greek. If someone asks me in Greek what my ethnicity is, the correct answer is "Ρομιος" ("Romios", ie. a Roman). "Australian-Hellene" is my nationality, but only because I have dual citizenship. If I didn't have a Greek passport, I would simply be "Australian".
If I identify my ethnicity as "Roman" when speaking in Greek, by what right do you tell me that I am not Roman?
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« Reply #40 on: December 02, 2007, 01:36:11 AM »

D'oh! Of course you're right. I shouldn't have left the Hungarians and Romanians out of this Wink It's really a problem across the former Soviet bloc countries.

You can still find Americans convinced of something akin to manifest destiny, and election year (or this current thing of two year campaigns) brings out the ol' Americana mythology.  And for that matter there is what I would call destiny driven history (nationalistic is too narrow of a term) in Iran, Turkey, China... and that is just what is sitting on my desk right now (I swear that this semester is going to kill me).  While post WWII politics have muted this in Western European, it often lurks just below the surface (and I'd cite another major work of Davies about the Isles as a scathing attack on current British historical thought).  To reduce this to simply an Eastern European problem is careless considering that there are these types of conflicts flaring up around the world.

Yep. Calling Constantinople "Byzantium" is no different to calling Native Americans "Indians". Native Americans never identified themselves as "Indians", it was simply a name imposed on them by those who felt themselves superior to them and wanted to treat 500 different Nations as one by giving them an identity which in no way was reflective of their real identity. In the same way, using the words "Byzantium" and "Byzantine" is just a cheap shot which any enlightened person would not lower themselves to. There was never a "Patriarch of Byzantium" or a Christian "Emperor of Byzantium". They were the Patriarch of Constantinople, and the Emperor of Rome whose Christian subjects were not "Byzantines" but "Romans". In my estimation, using the word "Byzantines" to describe Christians under Constantinople, given what is now public knowledge about the history of Constantinople, the New Rome, is simply insulting, not only to Christians under Constantinople, but Christianity itself, since it is an attempt at revisionist history in order to divorce Christianity from the history of The City of Constantinople.
 

For that matter, the indigenous peoples of the Americans never identified themselves as a collective "Native American."  Where are I live there are mostly Navajos, so I call them "Navajo."  And the other Arizona tribes don't really get along (Hopi, Navajo and Apache), so there is no real sense of pan-Native-Americanism that I see.  So perhaps it would be better to call Greeks, Turks, Macedonians, Albanians just Balkanish people? 

And perhaps the real reason why Anglophones say Byzantine is because there already was a Roman Empire (and a real one, based in - imagine this - Rome!).  The unqualified use of the term "Roman" is simply too ambiguous in English.   

And just as an ironic point, how many of the same people in this thread that have their panties in a bunch at the naming of the Byzantine Empire also foam at the mouth at the residents of the Republic of Macedonia calling themselves Macedonians...   
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lubeltri
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« Reply #41 on: December 02, 2007, 01:37:15 AM »

You can call yourself whatever you want. But those are two different Romes, buddy. We weren't talking ethnicity. We were talking about a political entity which has long since passed away. In that sense, you are not a Roman. Nobody is.
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ozgeorge
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« Reply #42 on: December 02, 2007, 01:39:35 AM »

We weren't talking ethnicity.
Yes we were.

We were talking about a political entity which has long since passed away.
No. You are talking about that.
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« Reply #43 on: December 02, 2007, 01:39:45 AM »

Tell me lubeltri, if a Navaho just finished telling you that he considered being called "Indian" to be an insult and explained to you why this is so, would you tell him that "Indian" is an "august name" and insist on calling him that? Or would you reflect on how you word things?

First off, a Navajo would likely appreciate having his or her ethnicity spelled correctly.  And as fits into this discussion quite well is that Navajo is not their tribal name in their own language.  They are the Dine, but in ENGLISH they call themselves Navajo.  In fact they find it a bit odd when a non-Navajo calls them Dine.   
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« Reply #44 on: December 02, 2007, 01:43:48 AM »

As a side note for our Armenians friends...

What would your reaction be if someone refused to call you Armenian and henceforth you are Hayastani.  And it is the Hayastani Apostolic Church in English.  Imagine the reaction it would cause! 
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