In Praise of Byzantium – Why should we remember Byzantium? by Richard Blake

Ὁ μόνος εἰλικρινὴς φιλελληνισμὸς τῶν Δυτικῶν εἶναι δυνητικὰ ἐκεῖνος τῶν φιλοβυζαντινῶν Δυτικῶν. Οἱ ἄλλοι εἶναι ἀρχαιολάτρες ποὺ δὲν καταλαβαίνουν τὴ διαφορὰ μεταξὺ Τούρκου στὴν Ἔφεσο καὶ Ἕλληνα στοὺς Δελφούς. Ὁρισμένοι Δυτικοί, σὰν τὸν συγγραφέα τοῦ παρακάτω κειμένου, ἀντιλαμβάνονται τὰ ἀποθέματα ζωτικότητας τοῦ Βυζαντίου τώρα ποὺ τὸ Ἰσλὰμ ἔγινε ξανὰ ζωτικὸ πρόβλημα. Εἶναι λίγοι ἕως τώρα καὶ σχετικὰ παραπεταμένοι. Ἀλλὰ ἐπειδὴ ἡ Δύση δὲν ἀντιμετώπισε τὸ Ἰσλὰμ σὲ διαρκὴ πόλεμο αἰώνων ὅπως τὸ Βυζάντιο, ἂν διαθέτει ἀκόμη αὐτοσυντήρηση, θὰ ἐπανεκτιμήσει καὶ τὸ Βυζάντιο. Φυσικά, μιὰ τέτοια «ἐπανενοποίηση-συμφιλίωση» τῆς Εὐρώπης βρίσκει ἀντίθετες τεράστιες δυνάμεις: Ρώμη, Προτεσταντισμό, Διαφωτισμό, καὶ εἶναι ἐξαιρετικὰ δύσκολο.


where not overlooked, the Byzantines have been actively disliked. Our ancestors feared the Eastern Empire. They resented its contempt for their barbarism and poverty, and its ruthless meddling in their affairs. They hated it for its heretical and semi-heretical views about the Liturgy or the Nature of Christ. They were pleased enough to rip the Empire apart in 1204, and lifted barely a finger to save it from the Turks in 1453.

The more Byzantine the Eastern Roman Empire became, the less awful it was for ordinary people. This is why it lasted another thousand years. The consensus of educated opinion used to be that it survived by accident. Even without looking at the evidence, this doesn’t seem likely. In fact, during the seventh century, the Empire faced three challenges. First, there was the combined assault of the Persians from the east and the Avars and Slavs from the north. Though the Balkans and much of the East were temporarily lost, the Persians were annihilated. Then a few years after the victory celebrations in Jerusalem, Islam burst into the world. Syria and Egypt were overrun at once. North Africa followed. But the Home Provinces – these being roughly the territory of modern Turkey – held firm. The Arabs could sometimes invade, and occasionally devastate. They couldn’t conquer.

One of the few certain lessons that History teaches is that, when it goes on the warpath, you don’t face down Islam by accident. More often than not, you don’t face it down at all. In the 630s, the Arabs took what remained of the Persian Empire in a single campaign. Despite immensely long chains of supply and command, they took Spain within a dozen years. Yet, repeatedly and with their entire force, they beat against the Home Provinces of the Byzantine Empire. Each time, they were thrown back with catastrophic losses. The Byzantines never lost overall control of the sea. Eventually, they hit back, retaking large parts of Syria. More than once, the Caliphs were forced to pay tribute. You don’t manage this by accident.

This entry was posted in Δυτικοί, Δύση, Ισλάμ, Ρωμανία, ιστορία and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


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