Byzantine Culture

Posted: March 11, 2016

Byzantine comes from the word Byzantium, a Greek colony founded by a man called Byzas (Luttak, 2009). It was ideally located in the Mediterranean Sea to serve as a trade and transit point between Europe and Asia. Constantine 1 chose Byzantine as the capital of Constantinople, and Christianity was the official religion (Luttak, 2009). The citizens identified themselves as Romans and Christians even though the majority of the population spoke Greek and not Latin. After the death of Constantine 1, the Roman Empire split into East and West. The Eastern half developed what is called the Byzantine culture (Levack et al., 2013). The Byzantine had some strategic advantages that spurred its growth. The geographical location favored the East from attacks. It had high walls and its location in the sea made it hard to be attacked. Also, it had a stronger administrative centre, political stability and great wealth that enabled their Emperors to exert influence over economic resources and marshal their armies.

The education system was another factor. Students received education in Greek history, literature, culture and medicine (Luttak, 2009). There was a school of higher learning in Constantinople where medicine, law, and philosophy was taught. It is this school that produced great scholars and thinkers like Plato and Aristotle (Luttak, 2009). Also, it was ruled by codified Roman law &Roman political institutions and the official language was Latin, and thus enhancing national unity. The Emperor was the patriarch of Constantinople and head of church and state (Levack et al., 2013). He instructed priests to preach summons that supported imperialistic policy and encouraged obedience to those in authority. Art was another unifying factor. The production of icons, which were paintings of Jesus and other religious persons which were magnificent works of art solidified people as they paid homage and believed on those religious images (Luttak, 2009). All the above factors led to its growth. However, the rise of Prophet Mohammed and Islam marked the downfall of the Byzantine as it was finally conquered by Sultan.

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