via Classicists: reminder – The Byzantine Republic

The Byzantine Republic

A round-table discussion with Benet Salway, Dennis Stathakopoulos, and
Anthony Kaldellis
June 4th, 6pm, University College London, Gordon House, room 106.

Although Byzantium is known to history as the Eastern Roman Empire,
scholars have long claimed that this Greek Christian theocracy bore
little resemblance to Rome. Here, in a revolutionary model of Byzantine
politics and society, Anthony Kaldellis reconnects Byzantium to its
Roman roots, arguing that from the fifth to the twelfth centuries CE the
Eastern Roman Empire was essentially a republic, with power exercised on
behalf of the people and sometimes by them too.The Byzantine Republic
recovers for the historical record a less autocratic, more populist
Byzantium whose Greek-speaking citizens considered themselves as fully
Roman as their Latin-speaking “ancestors.”
Kaldellis shows that the idea of Byzantium as a rigid imperial theocracy
is a misleading construct of Western historians since the Enlightenment.
With court proclamations often draped in Christian rhetoric, the notion
of divine kingship emerged as a way to disguise the inherent
vulnerability of each regime. The legitimacy of the emperors was not
predicated on an absolute right to the throne but on the popularity of
individual emperors, whose grip on power was tenuous despite the
stability of the imperial institution itself. Kaldellis examines the
overlooked Byzantine concept of the polity, along with the complex
relationship of emperors to the law and the ways they bolstered their
popular acceptance and avoided challenges. The rebellions that
periodically rocked the empire were not aberrations, he shows, but an
essential part of the functioning of the republican monarchy.

For information contact Valentina Arena: v.arena​ AT ​
ucl.ac.uk

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