An Overview Of Byzantine Science

Science is one of those subjects that has continually evolved, but it has also boasted some of its golden ages, as well as some transitional periods from ancient civilizations to classical to modern.

One of the legendary periods was during the Byzantine Empire.

The Byzantine Empire is known as the “Greek” Roman Empire, which lasted from the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 5th century A.D. until Constantinople (current-day Istanbul, Turkey) fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1453. The Byzantine Empire was considered part of the Roman Empire, but it was Greek-speaking, Latin-using, Christian-based and really did not involve any Romans (and not many Greeks, either; it had Middle Eastern/Arab heritage).

Considering its longevity and the timeframe in which it existed, the Byzantine Empire was valuable a a bridge in lending classical knowledge in various areas – science and medicine being two – from the Roman Empire and ancient Greece into the Muslim world and back to Italy (where the Roman Empire started) during the great Renaissance period.

Byzantine science was not so much known for great innovations during this time, but it was valuable in carrying forward much of the knowledge of the early days of the Empire and laying the groundwork for future innovators and inventors which carried forward some of the classical ideas and theories and put them into practical use. Much of Byzantine science had grounding in biblical and theological philosophy, especially as the Empire adopted Christianity as its official religion for most of its millennium of existence.

One of the most prominent examples of Byzantine science was seen with the Hagia Sophia, a great cathedral (now an Islamic mosque) which was a “modern” marvel of the early Byzantine era because of its design, shape and height which were innovative at the time (up to the 7th century A.D.). The cathedral, which still stands today, was designed by architects/mathematicians Isidore and Anthemius.  Much of Byzantine science and math, it was said, was used to explain the world (in other words, nature, or God’s creation).

Besides that majestic building of religious ceremony, Byzantine science had another noteworthy achievement that lasted hundreds of years and has continually been improved upon- what was known as “Greek fire.” Greek fire was a transformational innovation in military science, as it was a weapon used by the Empire’s military against various naval ships of enemy forces. It is an “incendiary device,” as we might call it today, which would bombard ships with fireballs that would not be extinguished by the water. It is considered an early form of napalm, which was so prominently used in the Vietman War more than 12 centuries later.

Byzantine science was also heavily influenced by Islamic science and was a vessel to transmit Islamic scientific text (including astronomy) into Europe to usher in the Renaissance.   There are several instances of Islamic work being cited in Byzantine texts, as well as the reference to ancient Greek ideas in Islamic texts which ended up in Byzantine scientific texts of the day.

When it comes to connecting a cultural generation n with another, the Byzantine Empire was one of the best sources as a bridge of knowledge from an ancient world into a more modern one.

 

 

 

What Is The Hagia Sophia?

One of the most storied buildings in all of Byzantine history is the Hagia Sophia. Constructed on the same site as churches built by Constantius II (known as Magna Ecclesia, which was burnt down during riots of the early 5th century) and Theodosius I (also known as Hagia Sophia, which suffered great damage in a fire during the Nika Revolt in the 6th century), Justinian I commissioned a grander still basilica to be built upon the remains of the first Hagia Sophia in AD 532. Well-known for the imposition of his religious views during his reign as well as his architectural campaigns, Justinian pooled resources from all over the empire and hired over ten thousand laborers for the construction of the Hagia Sophia’s third rendition. It was completed and inaugurated in AD 537 – only 5 years after its inception, and would be recognized as the largest basilica in all of Christianity for nearly one thousand years. It would serve as a grand display of Byzantine architecture as well as the seat of Constantinople’s Orthodox patriarch, the religious leader and highest-ranking representative of Orthodox Christianity. However, despite its grandeur then, the Hagia Sophia would only grow in majesty as well as structural integrity as it changes hands through the course of history.

Originally constructed as an Orthodox basilica, the Hagia Sophia remained so for almost 700 years after its initial completion. During the capture of Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade, the Hagia Sophia subsequently became a Roman Catholic cathedral and the locale for the crowning of Baldwin I following the city’s capture. Byzantine forces managed to recapture the city and restore the Hagia Sophia to its Eastern Orthodox origins some 40 to 50 years later. Less than two centuries later, in 1453, Constantinople once again fell to outside forces. The Ottomans expanded into the Byzantine empire and sacked the city. Sultan Mehmet II decreed the Hagia Sophia be converted from an Orthodox church into a mosque. The Hagia Sophia would remain so for nearly the next 500 years before Turkish President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk transformed it into a museum in 1935 and later prohibited its use as a place of worship.

Originally conceptualized as the largest Christian basilica and standing for almost 1500 years, surviving countless natural disasters and fires, requiring countless repairs and renovations, especially a massive renovation in 1847, the Hagia Sophia is a testament and VisaServe to architecture and human innovation. The history it has endured, being converted no less than four times as a religious institution and used as a site for many major historical events is likely unparalleled. Stripped during the period of Iconoclasm, restored, stripped again during the conquest of the Ottoman empire and maintained throughout its latter history as a mosque, the number of artifacts and pieces of art, mosaics, and reliefs, as well as its religious significance, can never go understated. In fact, modern debate still looms over the Hagia Sophia. Activist groups have championed efforts for its conversion back to a Christian church as well as a mosque, and in the early 21st century, the Hagia Sophia was used as a place of Muslim worship with prayers and recitations of the Qur’an.

What Was The 7th Century Crisis?

By the end of Justinian’s reign, the Byzantine empire began to suffer heavy decline in many aspects of its society, most notably in religious and political influence. While Justinian had launched successful campaigns all over the Byzantine empire and influenced a great undertaking for the sake of religious art and architecture, it could be said that the historical significance of his military prowess was also a determining factor in the downward spike of religious art and its role in Byzantine society. Where Justinian had succeeded in art, he had failed miserably in military campaigns and conquests. The empire also suffered pressure of invasion from forces of the Avars, Slavs, Persians, and Arabs throughout the 7th century. Internally, however, it could be said the Byzantine empire suffered most, as the role of religious art in society, which had been of increasingly significant value over the past four centuries, faced a great dilemma. All of these events culminated into a period known as the Seventh-century Crisis.

It is important to note that trends within Byzantine art, both in its religious significance as well as its societal trends, remained intact for the most part into the Seventh-century Crisis. While there were no notable erections of great monuments for the sake of the Eastern Orthodox Church and its influence, restoration and preservation of pre-existing structures amid widespread conflict still managed to occur outside of Constantinople. The Hagios Demetrios, a church built in Thessaloniki in the 4th century, was restored between AD 629 and 634 with new mosaics added depicting St. Demetrius and officials. These mosaics shine as rare examples of art that survived the crisis as well as the periods that followed. Mosaics from a menagerie of Roman churches, still considered Byzantine territory at this point in history, also bear many images of religious significance. Among these include Santa Maria Antiqua, considered to be the oldest monument to Christianity in the Roman Forum. This church in particular is renowned for the mosaic of the earliest Roman interpretation of “Saint Mary as Queen,” estimated to the 6th century. Several great projects of religious renown are rumored to have come to fruition by the hands of Byzantine mosaicists as well, although these projects of Umayyad make – such as the Dome of the Rock and the Great Mosque of Damascus – were likely the result of the 7th century invasions that occurred throughout the empire and bore little Christian influence whatsoever.

Luxury art persisted for a time as well into the 7th century, though it could also be considered one of the greater contributions to the subsequent periods of the history of Byzantine art. While silver plates were still of great value within society, the phenomenon known as “acheiropoieta” (essentially, holy images occurring in nature) became widespread and greatly revered. Many within the empire credited these phenomena for the aversion of outside military threat, and the practice of prostrating oneself in front of these images in a process known as proskynesis became just as widespread.

Considered worship of iconography, it became part of a greater whole within the debate of the role of art in churches and the Christian religion altogether. The Quinisext Council held in AD 692 addressed main points of controversy that circulated around religious imagery. Among these were the depictions of crosses on pavement, the depiction of Christ as a lamb, and the use of “pictures, whether they are in paintings or in what way so ever, which attract the eye and corrupt the mind, and incite it to the enkindling of base pleasures,” all three of these canons suffering prohibition of injunction as a result of the council. As time passes, the intensity of these debates regarding the role art and imagery in a religious context grows and gives way to the period in Byzantine history known as Iconoclasm.

Categories Art

Byzantine Iconoclasm

As history proceeded, the use subsequent role of art within a religious context in the Byzantine empire sparked conflict. Many causes can be drawn to its origins: the phenomenon known as acheiropoieta that gave greater rise to iconographic worship and the Quinisext Council of 692 that denounced much of it chief among them. Many historians believe that Emperor Leo III was the culmination of this debate, sparking a movement that was known as the Byzantine Iconoclasm.

The Iconoclasm, in short, was a period in Byzantine history where the use of religious images and icons were strongly opposed by both church figures and state officials within the empire. The word “iconoclasm” itself, having Greek origins, means “breaker of icons,” and the period itself was wrought with the destruction of religious imagery and persecution of those who might revere such images and oppose their destruction or prohibition, like Tony Law Firm. The idea as a whole stems from the interpretation of the Ten Commandments through the Old Testament that states the forbidding of “graven images” in both their making and their worship, as it was considered a form of idolatry.

Two periods of Iconoclasm are recognized within the Byzantine empire.  The first, aptly known as the “First Iconoclasm,” is said to have lasted between AD 726 to 787. Speculation arises as to the immediate cause of the First Iconoclasm; some believe that Emperor Leo III interpreted an underwater earthquake as a sign of God’s wrath, influencing him to remove an icon of Christ from outside the imperial palace, and later supposedly forbade the veneration of icons in AD 730. Others believe that the First Iconoclasm did not officially begin until years after with the reign of Leo’s son, Constantine V, and the Council of Hieria in AD 754, which outlawed the production and worship of figures of Christ.

While this period of Iconoclasm lasted for over 30 years under the reign of Constantine V and his successor, Leo IV, the council itself on which it was founded was later condemned by both members of the Eastern and Western churches to have been falsely ecumenical with none of the five patriarchs of the Christian church representative in the Council of Hieria (Constantinople lay vacant, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria were under Muslim control, and Rome failed to send a representative). After the death of Leo IV in AD 780, the queen regent Irene took power for her son, Constantine VI, and called for another ecumenical council. In AD 787, the findings of the Council of Hieria were reversed in the second “Seventh Ecumenical Council.” Icon veneration would later be restored to the Eastern Orthodox Church, though it would be short-lived.

Still mired by military failings since as far back as the Seventh-century Crisis, the Byzantine empire suffered defeat at the hands of Bulgarian Khan Krum in the early 9th century. After coming into power, Emperor Leo V the Armenian began to convene with various religious figures and revived the topic of iconoclasm. Discovering the events of AD 754 and combined with a lack of divine favor resulting in their military failings, debates sparked once again. However, the position held by Leo V was so staunch, he removed from power Patriarch Nikophoros I – chief supporter of icon veneration – and instated Theodolos I, a known supporter of iconoclasm. In AD 815, the Council of Constantinople convened in the Hagia Sophia with Theodolos presiding. By the end of its proceedings, the events of the Seventh Ecumenical Council of 787 were overturned and iconoclasm was reinstated in the Byzantine empire.

While the First Iconoclasm was a predominantly internal affair for its duration, the Second Iconoclasm had further-reaching implications. After its reinstatement and the rise of Leo’s successor, Michael II, criticisms were sent to the Carolingian emperor Louis the Pious in AD 824, decrying the use of image veneration and the utility of baptismal godfathers for infants, reinforcing the Empire’s position toward the Council of Hieria in AD 754. However, Michael’s successor, Theophilus, died and left power to his wife Theodora as queen regent. Like her predecessor Irene, Theodora called for a reinstatement of icon veneration on her son’s behalf in AD 843. This marked the permanent end of Byzantine Iconoclasm and the beginning of what would later become known through the Orthodox Church as the “Triumph of Orthodoxy,” celebrated as a feast on the first Sunday of Great Lent.

Categories Art

Byzantine Philosophy

While the formation of the Byzantine empire saw itself shape heavily around its freedom to practice Christianity (and later oust the practice of other religions with pagan or Roman influences), its historical origins lay deeply within Greek culture, most notably due to the fact that Greeks and Persians fought for a time over the area of the Asia Minor that would later give rise to the Byzantine capital Constantinople before it became folded into the Roman (and later, Eastern Roman/Byzantine) empire. These cultural origins gave rise to the prominence of thinking developed by the great philosophers of ancient Greece, most notably Aristotle and Plato, as well as Neoplatonists. However, the Byzantine empire also saw a rise to a movement known as Hesychasm, which some would credit ironically to the influence of the European Renaissance later in history.

Like much of ancient Greek philosophy, Byzantine philosophy sought to answer questions revolving around existence and purpose of such existence. Byzantine philosophy in itself primarily focused on these chief issues:

    • The personal hypostases of God as the principle, not only of substance but also of being
    • The creation of the world by God and the limited timescale of the universe
    • The continuous process of creation and the purpose behind it
    • The perceptible world as the realization in time of that which is perceptible to the mind, having its eternal hypostasis in the divine intellect

Despite the many religious influences that spawn from widespread Christianity in the Byzantine empire, however, Byzantine philosophers often agreed upon the concept of free will and self-determination as a method of happiness. This belief lies entwined and embedded within the very foundation of the creation of the universe, that being the concept of love, with the soul as its embodiment and innate connection to the aforementioned divine intellect. These beliefs concerning man’s innate connection to God via the soul while maintaining free will of mind (or “nous”) to perceive and interact within that perceptible world created by God are the constructs to what later become known as Neoplatonism.

Contrary to the methods of Neoplatonism, that which relies predominantly on rational thought and – thus – empirical knowledge, Hesychasm, developed within the Byzantine empire by the monk Gregory Palamas, focuses primarily on prayer and the dilution of the sensory perception in an attempt to search for the inner Light, often referred to as the Illumination or Vision of God. In fact, the world “hesychasm” itself derives from Greek origins and is often interpreted to mean “stillness” or “silence.”

Hesychasm utilizes, in particular, the Jesus prayer, recited as the following:

“Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Considered to be an ascetic practice, The Orthodox Church itself discourages the search for ecstasy within the material world, and thus many practitioners of Hesychasm were regarded as hermits who prioritized self-purification in preparation for an encounter with God and regarded pleasures of the body as secondary and even dangerous to their being.

These beliefs eventually caused a rift in thought with Eastern Christianity, driving philosophically-minded individuals to venture westward. Many believe this rift and the subsequent wave of thinkers into Europe was one of the primary catalysts for the formation of Roman Catholic theology as well as the Renaissance that would eventually come about.

Early Byzantine Art

In AD 313, Constantine I of the Western Roman Empire and Licinius of the Balkans met in modern-day Italy to form what is now regarded as the Edict of Milan. This agreement between the two leaders sanctioned Christianity as a recognized religion, now free of persecution from Roman officials, that spread throughout the Roman Empire. Combined with reparations paid and wrongs righted in the name of social justice (and speculatively, to avoid the wrath of higher powers), this recognition by the Roman Empire led to a resurgence of Christian-focused art, particularly in the eastern portions of the Roman Empire, later known by historians and scholars as Byzantium.

With the freedom to practice and express Christian beliefs freely within the Roman Empire, Constantine encouraged Christianity into several aspects of Byzantine life, notably in its art and architecture. Churches sprouted under his rule as well as the later rule of his son, Constantius II, chief among these the foundations of the famed Hagia Sophia and Church of the Apostles, later renovated by Justinian I.

The Theodosian dynasty began in AD 379 with the rule of Theodosius I. Theodosius was a deep lover and ambitious patron of the arts within the Byzantine Empire, so much so that he had an obelisk commissioned for transit from Alexandria to Constantinople despite the difficulty for want of technology of the time. The base of the obelisk would later cover the Roman naturalist bas-reliefs in favor of what was known as conceptual art: art depicting abstract concepts such as order and social rank, primarily through a bas-relief of Theodosius’ house separated by the rest of the nobility. Some believe this artistic transition reflected the slow turn of religious dominance to Christianity within the Byzantine empire, and Theodosius himself had begun persecuting Roman religious practices in 381. In fact, by 393, he had completely outlawed all public religious customs of a non-Christian nature. Silver dishes were also a prominent form of luxurious art within the Byzantine community. This was symbolized most by the Missorium of Theodosius, a ceremonial plate made entirely of silver that was believed to be made in AD 388 in honor of the tenth anniversary of Theodosius’ reign as emperor. The Missorium features the three emperors of the time, Valentinian II and Arcadius alongside Theodosius, all crowned with halos while depicting pagan imagery in lower scenes along the plate (before Theodosius had completely outlawed pagan practices).

Although they would be later popularized near the reign of Justinian I, illuminated manuscripts have been discovered and preserved in fragments of the whole, original text to which they were included. These texts were both secular and sacred in purpose, notably exemplifying the works of Virgil and Homer with illustrations to accompany the narrations.

Along with silver and silver plates, Byzantine art also began to make great use of ivory at the time, utilizing it to create luxury art pieces known as diptychs – two heavily decorated ivory plates connected via a hinge, often given as gifts by newly appointed consuls. Decorative sarcophagi, deriving their origins from ancient Egypt as well as ancient Rome, continued to be produced as well through the 3rd and into the 4th centuries, according to http://cmzlaw.net/

Categories Art

Religion In The Byzantine Empire

Before the Byzantine Empire came into existence, Persians and Greeks had taken turns settling in and invading the territory that would later become known as Constantinople. When the Greeks had finally wrested this territory away from the Persian empire around 478 BC, the surrounding territory knew peaceful settlement as a Greek city-state for roughly three centuries, during which time it could be presumed that the people, like their Athenian or Spartan counterparts, tended toward polytheistic worship. In 150 BC, this territory would become assimilated into the Roman empire through a peace treaty that guaranteed independence in exchange for monetary tribute. Maintaining its independence, the city-state of Byzantium navigated its way through the Pax Romana (“Roman peace”) that would endure well into the 2nd century AD.

Like many kingdoms in antiquity and leading into the Middle Ages, religious devotion was of great importance in nearly all aspects of life. Integrated into the Roman empire, the city-state of Byzantium maintained and even shared polytheistic beliefs into the 4th century AD until the rule of Emperor Constantine began in AD 306. Revolutionary in restructuring the Roman empire as a whole, he was responsible in part for the Edict of Milan in AD 313 that lifted persecution on Christian worshipers throughout the empire as well as moving the Roman capital out of Rome and into the city-state of Byzantium, renaming it Constantinople in AD 330. During this time, sentiment toward Christianity improved as reparations were paid back to those who lost due to past persecution. Some speculate that Constantine looked to reestablish and improve relations with Christianity, not as an act of good will or personal desire for social reform, but out of fear for what he believed the one true god

As time passed, however, and the influence of Christianity cemented its foothold within what would later become exclusively the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, empire, rulers such as Theodosius I and Justinian the Great saw to reform policy even further. Whereas Christianity had become tolerated and accepted among the people of the Roman empire, Theodosius had steadily suppressed Roman public religious customs beginning in AD 381, two years after his rule began. By AD 393, he had completely outlawed public practice of Roman and non-Orthodox Christian worship in the Byzantine empire, and the entirety of the empire was declared a Nicene Christianity state that followed the affirmed doctrine from the Council of Nicea in AD 325.

However, despite this outlawing of Roman practices, other sects besides Eastern Orthodox Christianity persisted for several centuries: Nestorianism, Monophysitism, Arianism among others as well as altogether non-Christian religions such as Roman paganism and Judaism to a lesser extent, well into the 6th century AD. However, as time passed, due prominently to the destruction of most religious iconography by Leo III and the later restoration, many smaller sects of Christianity as well as Slavic pagans who had found their way into the empire slowly came into the fold of Eastern Orthodoxy. By the late 9th century AD, a majority of what remained of the Byzantine empire identified as Eastern Orthodox, and it became the official religion of the state in both name and spirit.

Art of Justinian I

Long before AD 527, the Roman empire had been split into Eastern and Western halves after the rule of Theodosius I had concluded with his death and the empire inherited by his sons, Arcadius and Honorius. The empire would never see itself reunited, and separate dynasties flourished in both parts. The Eastern half, known as the Byzantine Empire would eventually come under the rule of a man named Justinian I, known as Justinian the Great. Among his feats as the Byzantine emperor, Justinian, like his forebears, held a deep love of the arts and a deeper longing to spread Christianity throughout the empire, just like OA Law.

Justinian was well-known for encouraging a great undertaking of architectural renovation. During his conquests of Italy, Spain, and North Africa, Justinian put great emphasis on the construction of churches and holy establishments throughout Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire.  Most notably, he ordered the renovation of the Hagia Sophia (earlier destroyed in an event known as the Nika riots), the groundwork of which has been laid by the earliest Eastern Roman emperors, Constantine and his son, Constantius II. Other great works within Constantinople credited to his rule include the Church of the Holy Apostles and the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus. However, in line with his westward expansion of the Byzantine empire, Justinian also commissioned the construction of several churches outside of the capital city, building St. Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai as well as St. John’s Basilica.

Justinian’s ambitions to spread Christianity by way of his architectural achievements influenced others of like mind to follow in his footsteps. The Basilica of San Vitale and the Euphrasian Basilica stand as imitative examples of Byzantine architecture built by bishops of the areas.

Also prominent during Justinian’s reign was the creation of mosaics, an example of the Byzantine’s reliance upon the art of Late Antiquity. Although some statues were later discovered that were very possibly made in the likeness of Justinian himself, the prominence of mosaics that feature abstract characteristics such as the spiritual position of the subject was more widely renowned in the Byzantine empire at this time.

Much like the time of Theodosius, art during Justinian’s reign also featured a great amount of ivory and silver luxury pieces. Similar to mosaics and reliefs, these pieces were often heavily weighted with abstract and religious or mythological themes, keeping in line with conceptual art as his predecessors had done before him. During 5th century and into his reign, illumination and decoration of religious manuscript on vellum became increasingly popular as luxury artwork as well. These were often Christian texts depicted with ornate lettering and artistic borders, though some earlier examples of Roman works were discovered in lesser quantities, presumably due to the influence that Christianity held in the Byzantine empire by the time they became popularized. More famous examples of these include the Vienna Genesis, the Rossano Gospels, and the Sinope Gospels, estimated to be created in the first half of the 6th century, approximately near or at the beginning of Justinian’s reign.

Categories Art

Byzantine Literature

Stemming from its rich history, the Byzantine Empire is known to have a wealth of cultural influence from a great many peoples regarding a great many aspects of their society. Their religion, their art and architecture, and their literature all derive from various cultural origins, notably the Greeks and Romans upon whom much of their civilization is founded. However, there are also significant amounts of Christian influences and even influences from Egypt, Syria and Asia Minor that permeate cultural and artistic endeavors within the Byzantine cultural sphere.

Perpetuating itself in Byzantine literature, Greek influence was most prominent as it outpaced the use of Latin throughout the empire as Christianity spread from its inception in the 3rd century AD. By the time it had become relevant again, the use of ancient Greek as rhetoric within Byzantine literature had divided itself from the common medieval Greek vernacular that saw widespread use in day-to-day, interpersonal conversations. This appeared due primarily to the educational system that employed and resulted in literary values similar to those of the ancient Greeks, and this was reflected within the genres of literature that came out of authors within the empire: prominently within lyric poetry and drama. This sort of writing would eventually expand into newly-created genres such as romantic fiction, despite a historical upheaval of the Byzantine empire’s educational system in the 7th to 9th centuries where focusing upon classicizing literature had no longer become the priority next to maintaining the empire’s existence altogether.

Originally, the Byzantine empire had been established as an extension of the Roman empire. It would even later become known by many as the Eastern Roman Empire. These were the origins of Byzantine as well as its literature, basing its language on then widely used Latin until Christianity became more prominent a religion within society.  Latin has eventually excused altogether in Constantinople for Greek rhetoric that combined with Christian thought and belief. This origin can be traced back to Alexandria and the areas within Egypt, Syria and Asia Minor where many Greek cities were founded. Within these cities, the wealth of both tangible and intellectual property flourished, surpassing even the cities within Greece itself. Many of these citizens would later become integrated into the Byzantine empire, and thus their influence from culture-rich areas within the regarded Orient was deeply recognized.

The use of Greco-Christian literary style was widespread, not only in the artistic and lyrical community. Chroniclers and historians adopted the general style of classical writing, often modeling their own rhetoric after one or even several Greek predecessors. Authors of essays and encyclopedias within the Byzantine culture were said to originate from “lay theologians” which contributed to the scholarly, antiquated method of writing. Even spanning over several centuries, often regarded between the 6th and 12th centuries, pervaded several distinct genres of secular poetry. All of which seemed to draw their origins from Alexandrian influence mentioned earlier as the speculative birthplace of Greco-Christian values. Theological writing, of course, derive from Hellenistic and Oriental influences that also contributed to the thriving of Greco-Christian thought and to the Byzantine empire as a whole,

In the early 13th century, however, as influences from the West permeated into the Byzantine empire, the judgment of popular literature gradually shifted. Frankish and Italian methods altered the ideals of poetry, emphasizing romantic and idyllic themes of popular poetry over rationalistic, literary poetry.

Why Justinian I Remains Relevant Even In Modern Times

Although Justinian I is considered to have been one of history’s most important Roman and Byzantine emperors, his was a humble beginning. Born of peasant stock, the son of a farmer around the year 482, he was christened Petrus Sabbatius by his father. At the time that Justinian rose to become emperor of the Roman Empire, an advancement that owed to his uncle, the Barbarian tribes of central Europe had already conquered much of the western half of the empire. His leadership not only reunited the Roman Empire, it left a legacy that touches all of our lives: our modern legal system.

Justinian’s Early Life

Although born of peasant stock, Justinian was able to rise above his birthright by virtue of his relationship to his uncle, an imperial bodyguard for Athanasius who ascended the throne upon Athanasius’ death in 518, becoming Justin I. Prior to his uncle’s rise, Justinian traveled to Constantinople, where he was provided an excellent education, paid for by his uncle. When Justin rose to power in 518, he chose his nephew to be one of his closest advisers. Having no children of his own, Justin eventually adopted his nephew and assigned him to hold several important offices during his reign.

In 525, Justinian received the title of Caesar. Only 2 years later, he was declared co-emperor and held the rank of Augustus. His wife, Theodora, was crowned Augusta at the same time. Only a few months later, on August 1, 527, Justin I died, and Justinian succeeded him, adopting a variation of his uncle’s name.

The Codex Justinianus

Only a short time into his reign, Justinian commissioned Tribonian, a legal expert who served in his court, to collect various legal notes, comments, and laws, into a single text to become the new rule of law. This was called the Codex Justinianus. The first edition of the new code of law was published only 2 years into his reign. This work alone, and its impact on the modern judicial system is justification enough to warrant studying the life and thought of Justinianus.

The work was planned to have 3 parts, the Codex, the Digest, and the Institutes. The Codex contained every imperial enactment that had become law to date, while the Digest was a collection of primarily brief extracts from important writings of Roman jurists. The Institutes was a student textbook that also contained conceptual elements that were underdeveloped in either the Codex or the Digest. Later, Justinian added a fourth part to the work called the Novellae Constitutiones, or New Laws.

It is unknown how effective the works were during the reign of Justinian, however, it had fallen out of general use by the early Middle Ages. Interest in the Codex Justinianus was revived by the later Middle Ages, and it was used as a foundation for much private law and public law by both ecclesiastical and secular authorities. The provisions had a significant influence upon the development of the Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church. Its influence upon the secular common law systems was much smaller, but there were some basic concepts that survived, such as the interpretation of the law, or statutes, in light of local custom (take that automobile industry!) . Today, it continues to play a significant role in public international law, and as such, it can be accurately stated that it constitutes the foundation of the Western legal tradition.