Thursday, April 22, 2010

Protecting the brand name Macedonia - lessons from Byzantine Diplomacy

by Miltiades Bolaris

A 2007 article by the Greek political scientist Constantinos Holevas, originally published in Antibaro, a Greek magazine made its re-appearance in the Akritas Macedonian blog recently.
It is titled "The importance of the name and Byzantine Diplomacy".

Professor Holevas reminded us in this article that the Byzantines never called their state Byzantium. They called themselves Romaioi/Ρωμαίοι (Romans) and their state Romania/Ρωμανία (State of the Romans). They were in full conscience of their Greek language descent and culture, yet they did not consider their state simply a kingdom of the Greeks but an ecumenical empire, a representation of Christ's kingdom on earth, a continuation of the Roman empire of the Caesars, aspiring to govern the whole known world. Constantinos Holevas reminded us that even in the bleakest moments of the empire, when, after the fall of Constantinople to the Franks of the Fourth Crusade in 1204 a Latin king was sitting on the throne of Constantinople the Eastern Romans, the Byzantines, never relented on their title. John III Doukas Vatatzes / Ιωάννης Γ΄Δούκας Βατάτζης (1222-1254) the Greek king of the tiny Byzantine kingdom of Nicaea (modern Iznik in Asia Minor-Turkey), replying to the Caesaropapist demand of Pope Gregory 8th (1227-1241) that he recognizes the Latin king of conquered Constantinople as the a legitimate Roman Emperor, he refused. He reminded the Pope that all his predecessors called themselves Emperors of the Romans / Ρωμαίων Aυτοκράτορες and that he would not give up his title to a forger who simply happened to be sitting on some of his lands. To the Pope's claims that he is simply a king of the Greeks, and not a Roman Emperor, John III Doukas Vatatzes replied, that.....

Friday, April 09, 2010

Alexander I at Olympia (Olympic Games)

Old king Amyntas was a conservative obliged to carry on his traditional local policy and consumed with fear of a new Persian onslaught. While he was alive, his heir Alexander spent his youth more or less in the background. But from the time when he ascended the throne on his father's death he was not slow in showing his deep felt convictions and opening up Greek horizons to Macedonia for the first time by means of direct contact with the Hellenes. The erstwhile youth who had slain the Persian nobles was still apparently alive in him and his heart had not ceased responding to the lure of legends and poetic traditions from his Hellenic schooling as a boy. Despite the fact that his sister lived at the Persian court as wife of a powerful Persian grandee, he felt himself a Greek to the core and was burning with desire to bring Macedonia actively into the orbit of Hellenic life and even more so, to exhibit his pan-Hellenic schoiling. The ambition to visit Olympia and take part in the games is also explained by his family traditions. As a Heracleid he would go on a pilgrimage to the all-Greek sanctuary which, according to the belief of all Greece, Heracles himself had founded. By gaining victories there and receiving a branch of the sacred olive his illustrious ancestor had planted, he would be acclaimed by all the Hellenes and show himself a worthy scion of the legendary hero.

So very shortly after his accession he determined to do what no Macedonian king before him and very few after him until Philip's day had contemplated doing. He made up his mind to visit Greece, to make personal acquaintance with the political and social life of the Greek cities, to sacrifice at the pan-Hellenic shrines and take part in the pan-Hellenic games. History tells us nothing of Alexander I's journey to Greece apart from his.......