Second Thoughts of Roman Identity


Questions about Byzantine identities have attracted the attention of many scholars for the past few years. Despite their methodological variations, the different approaches to the subject share, more or less, a common starting point: the old literature on the topic, by focusing mainly on the relationship between antiquity, Byzantium and modern Greece, ended up by confirming or denying the assumed continuity of a certain “Hellenism” through the centuries. Being not only static, it was also founded on an essentialist understanding of identities, which were treated as –almost- immutable entities that existed outside any historical context. For instance, in the old times, some historians cited later Byzantine claims of a certain Hellenic identity as proof of the empire’s underlying Hellenic “essence” throughout its history1. In answer to these approaches, researches in nowadays are mainly centered on the historicity and the fluidity of the ways in which the Byzantines defined themselves and others.


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