History of Byzantine Eastern Roman Empire for Kids

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Byzantine Ancient Traditions and Customs

It is an important historical fact that Byzantium preserved the traditions and scientific knowledge of the ancient world. The Byzantines considered the traditions of ancient Greece and Rome to be their own heritage and preserved them for many centuries. Numerous studies have been written on the fields of literature, art, philosophy, law, etc., but there are fewer studies on the scientific developments during the Byzantine period.

The heritage of Roman law represented an unbroken tradition that continued down to the time of Justinian. Preservation and renewal of the laws, Justinian felt, offered the possibility of emphasizing one of major roots of the empire's strength. This immense accomplishment far outlasted the Byzantine empire and survived to form the basis of European jurisprudence. On February 13, 528, Justinian appointed ten jurists to compile a new codification of the statute law.

The celebration of the Byzantine New Year’s Day is an ancient tradition that involves every year not only all the inhabitants but also many tourists that are fascinated by the unique spectacle offered by such a charming city as Amalfi.

In the Greek East, even under Roman subjugation, Greek literature kept alive for centuries the tradition of the political, philosophical and artistic achievements of the classical Hellenic world. For a Greek Christian to give up all the classical teachings simply because parts of them were indelicate would have meant losing a great deal. It would have meant, had he chose to accept only the teachings of the early Christians, that he would be cut off from a major part of his cultural heritage.

The ancient tradition of the Eastern Churches was for Liturgy to be celebrated in the language of the people. Hence, Byzantine Catholics were actually celebrating the Divine Liturgy in English here in America, while Roman Catholics were still using Latin.

The artistic traditions of the wealthy state extended throughout the empire, including the southernmost provinces of Egypt and North Africa, which remained under Byzantine control until the Arab conquest of the region in the seventh century. The development of the codex, or bound manuscript, replacing the ancient scroll marked a major innovation in these first centuries.

Over the course of the Early Byzantine period, production of sculpture in the round declined, marking a change from the ancient traditions of sculpting portrait busts and full-length statues to commemorate civic and religious figures (66.25). Relief carving in diverse media and the two-dimensional arts of painting and mosaic work were extremely popular in both secular and religious art.

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