History of Byzantine Eastern Roman Empire for Kids

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Byzantine Empire Quotes


A contemporary writer quoted by Gibbon writes " ... the people of Alexandria and all Egypt, were seized with a strange and diabolical frenzy: great and small, slaves and freedmen ... who opposed the synod of Chalcedon, lost their speech and reason ...”

Justinian's wife Theodora was a fascinating character. She had been what we would call today a burlesque performer and a prostitute. Gibbon [EG, Chapter XI, vol. 4, pp 153-155] quotes (in the original Greek) contemporary writers with descriptions of her activities that are too raunchy even for our permissive times. In one show she would be naked and lie flat on her back on stage and a servant would throw grains of barley over her private parts. Then geese would come and eat the barley.

A famous quote by Empress Theodora

“The throne is a glorious sepulcher”

Most of the reconquered provinces were lost again and historians think that in the long run Justinian's policy was detrimental to the Byzantine Empire. It is worth mentioning a quote of Belisarius in reprimanding his troops for mistreating the local population: "When I first accepted the commission of subduing Africa, I depended much less on the numbers or upon the bravery of my troops, than upon the friendly disposition of the natives, and their immortal hatred to the Vandals".

Let Rome in Tiber melt and the wide arch
Of the ranged empire fall! Here is my space.
Kingdoms are clay; our dungy earth alike
Feeds beast as man. The nobleness of life
Is to do thus; when such a mutual pair
And such a twain can do 't, in which I bind,
On pain of punishment, the world to weet
We stand up peerless.
Brilliance and brutality, intellect and intrigue, Christianity and carnage, the Byzantine Empire was a beacon of light with a dark side. Led by rulers who exercised absolute power and architects who pushed beyond Rome’s engineering marvels, the Byzantines constructed the ancient world’s longest aqueduct, virtual invincible city walls and a colossal domed cathedral that defied the laws of nature. But carrying on a Roman legacy came with a price. They Byzantine Empire was the dominant civilization during the dark ages, but after a millennium of rule, it’s engineering feats would betray them as an ancient light was extinguished in the glare of modern warfare - anonymous
The gothic is singular in this; one seems easily at home in the renaissance; one is not too strange in the Byzantine; as for the Roman, it is ourselves; and we could walk blindfolded through every chink and cranny of the Greek mind; all these styles seem modern when we come close to them; but the gothic gets away. LESS

-Henry Brooks Adams

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