The Ultimate "Continuations of the Roman Empire" Poll

Which of these do YOU consider to be continuations of the Roman Empire?

  • The Dominate (284)

    Votes: 107 51.4%
  • San Marino (303)

    Votes: 21 10.1%
  • Byzantine Empire (313/395)

    Votes: 180 86.5%
  • Odoacer's Kingdom (476)

    Votes: 26 12.5%
  • Ostrogothic Kingdom (493)

    Votes: 11 5.3%
  • Holy Roman Empire (800/962)

    Votes: 24 11.5%
  • Ottoman Empire (1453)

    Votes: 27 13.0%
  • Tsardom of Russia (1510)

    Votes: 18 8.7%
  • Kingdom of Italy (1861)

    Votes: 8 3.8%
  • None of the above

    Votes: 7 3.4%
  • Republic of Venice (697)

    Votes: 9 4.3%
  • Papal States (754)

    Votes: 28 13.5%

  • Total voters
    208
The idea that ancient Rome was bilingual or that Greek was just as important as Latin is waaaaay overstated, for several reasons:

- Since only a very small proportion were actually educated in Greek, Rome as a whole can't be considered Greek-speaking. By way of analogy, educated Englishmen in the 18th century were expected to be fluent in French, but nobody claims that 18th-century England was actually a French-speaking country, or that French was just as important as English.

- Even if Roman elites were fluent in Greek, Latin was still clearly their first language -- they communicated with each other in Latin, conducted official business in Latin, wrote books in Latin, and so on. Although they could communicate in Greek if they wanted to, the fact that, left to their own devices, they preferred to use Latin, indicates that they were Latin-speakers, not Greek-speakers.

- By the later Empire, even educated Westerners weren't fluent in Latin. So even if you want to argue that Augustan Rome was bilingual, fourth-century Rome wasn't, making the claim that switching to Greek doesn't really represent an important change more difficult to sustain.

- Even if the only difference between the Western and Eastern halves of the Empire was the language they used, language is such an important part of culture that I think a good case could be made that Greek culture was still separate to Latin.
 
In any case, none of this matters. All that matters is legally, the Roman Empire of 1204/1453 is still the same political entity as it was under Augustus, and during the Republic before it. Legally, every single resident of the Roman Empire in 212, was from that point on, a full Roman. This argument is completely pointless.

They were hardly peripheral provinces. They were the most integral provinces in the entire empire. Italy was a net drain on the empire. The empire's prime recruiting grounds were in Gaul and the Balkans. The empire's most prosperous economic provinces were Spain, North Africa, Syria, and Egypt. The breadbasket of the empire was North Africa and Egypt. Rome had emperors of Spanish, Balkan, Punic, Gallic, and Greek origin. Rome was a cosmopolitan empire.

I think you're being inconsistent here. If the official legal situation is all that matters, then Gaul, the Balkans, etc., were just peripheral provinces ruled by the city of Rome. If their legal status is less important than their de facto position, then I don't see why the same reasoning shouldn't apply to the people who were legally Roman citizens but who didn't speak Latin or adopt Roman culture.
 
I think it's easy to say the Byzantines aren't Romans off surface distinctions, but you have to remember that Rome went through three massive shifts that resulted in a completely restructuring of its government. The first was the shift from Republic to Principate, which probably began around the time of Marius and Sulla and wrapped up with Augustus installed as Emperor (with Julius Caesar being the key player that guided things towards the final result. [ ... ] But just as it's ridiculous to say that people living during the reign of Augustus weren't Roman because the had eschewed the traditional Roman Republican government

Augustus and his successors actually went some lengths to deny that they were abandoning the Republican constitution. Emperors who didn't do this (e.g., Caligula, Domitian) tended to get murdered.

The Romans became what we think of as "the Byzantines" because they adapted after a crisis. There was no point in using Latin for government anymore, as no one in the Empire spoke Latin as a first language, with the exceptions of the tiny footholds in Italy. As others above pointed out, Greek was a secondary language of government anyways, so the shift made sense. The provinces were reformed into themes because that was a pragmatic reform that needed to be done, basically along the same lines as Diocletian's Diocesan system.

Erm, yes, that's exactly what people have been saying -- that the Empire post-7th century didn't have much in common, in terms of geographical extent, language, or culture, with the old Roman Empire.
 

Red Orm

Banned
Maximinus Thrax was a Thracian like Justinian, while Severus Alexander was a Syrian.

My point was that, compared to Severus Alexander, Maximinus Thrax was barely Roman in Roman eyes, yet the legions chose him over Severus Alexander. So the emperor's legitimacy has less to do with being Roman than you think.

They were hardly peripheral provinces. They were the most integral provinces in the entire empire. Italy was a net drain on the empire. The empire's prime recruiting grounds were in Gaul and the Balkans. The empire's most prosperous economic provinces were Spain, North Africa, Syria, and Egypt. The breadbasket of the empire was North Africa and Egypt. Rome had emperors of Spanish, Balkan, Punic, Gallic, and Greek origin. Rome was a cosmopolitan empire.

The City of Rome was a net drain on the empire by 150 BC, probably. Would you call other provinces and areas more integral than Rome at that time? Remember, most soldiers were recruited from outside the city, trade went to Ostia, etc..

Romaness changed through the history of the empire. While an eastern dominated rome would be as unrecognisable to say republican roman empire generations as a black president would be to the original generations of the USA, it was the trajectory that the roman empire moved, with new Rome, Constantinople as its capital. At that point, I actually not only consider the eastern roman empire to be the roman empire, but to be even more of the roman empire than the western part and ravenna. Due to having the most impressive and populated capital, wealth, big cities, military power. Both were roman of course but the center of power has moved more eastward.

That impressiveness, wealth, and power was all gone by AD 660.
 

Abhakhazia

Banned
Augustus and his successors actually went some lengths to deny that they were abandoning the Republican constitution. Emperors who didn't do this (e.g., Caligula, Domitian) tended to get murdered.

No one in the Byzantine East tried for a hard break with the Latin past. The only example I can think of that is when an Emperor, angry at the Papacy, called Latin "inferior" to Greek, which he was chastised for saying.

- Since only a very small proportion were actually educated in Greek, Rome as a whole can't be considered Greek-speaking. By way of analogy, educated Englishmen in the 18th century were expected to be fluent in French, but nobody claims that 18th-century England was actually a French-speaking country, or that French was just as important as English.

This is an awful comparison. As far is I'm aware, all of northern England didn't speak French as a first language. Greek was used alongside Latin in the east starting in the Principate and continuing on.

I think you're being inconsistent here. If the official legal situation is all that matters, then Gaul, the Balkans, etc., were just peripheral provinces ruled by the city of Rome. If their legal status is less important than their de facto position, then I don't see why the same reasoning shouldn't apply to the people who were legally Roman citizens but who didn't speak Latin or adopt Roman culture.

First of all, that's absolutely not true. The provinces ceased to be in a subordinate position to Rome in the 2nd century, and one of the key aspects of Roman rule was not making anyplace feel like they were under an "Italian" occupation.

I think something you're finding difficult to grasp is that Rome wasn't a nation state- it was a civilization state. No matter what language you spoke or religion you were, if you followed the basic tenants of Roman culture, you were a Roman. Roman culture, naturally, changed over time, but you do see influences of Byzantium is the pre-476 West.
 
People outside the city were Romans as early as 300 BC, maybe earlier. That doesn't make Romans of Greeks across the sea who hated Rome and anything Roman.

Everything Latin, which considering the erratic actions of the Pope in Rome and the Norman crusaders is only natural. Either way, Romanitas as Latinitas definitively ended with Caracalla's edict, though even before then it was a cosmopolitan culture which stole gods as often as it did military equipment. Rome became an Empire, and the Empire became Rome.

One doesn't have to be a Roman to be the Roman Emperor, you know.

Then what does Romanity mean, if not being a citizen of the Empire?

---

There is being Roman, and being Latin, and being Italian. Italian is a geographic thing, an inhabitant of the Italian peninsula. Latin is a linguistic thing, speaking Latin and maybe its derivatives.

But Roman is separate, a nationality, being a citizen of Rome, of the Roman Empire. It may be bound to the two previous things which are vagaries of ethnicity, but can be unbound from them. The Romans spread Latin across the Western half of the Empire. That was when the three were, with some exceptions, a single thing.

And then all of the people of the Empire who weren't slaves became Roman citizens. And so Italianity and Latinity became unbound from Romanity, finding its way into the identity of the Greeks. And when the West fell to the Germanic princes, the Greeks remained Roman. And the Italians, invaded by German kings, became merely Latins.
 
The City of Rome was a net drain on the empire by 150 BC, probably. Would you call other provinces and areas more integral than Rome at that time? Remember, most soldiers were recruited from outside the city, trade went to Ostia, etc..
Of course I would, because they absolutely were. The city of Rome was, by that time, not integral at all to Rome's military strength. Rome gained her citizen soldiers from her Roman and Latin colonies for the most part, and gained her allied soldiers from her Italian subjects. That's why when Italy rebelled in 91 BCE and Campania and Etruria were on the brink, the Romans freaked. They were nothing without their allies. Similarly, by the 2nd century, Rome had practically ceased recruiting in Italy all together. The rest of the provinces weren't "Peripheral". They were the most integral provinces to Rome's continued survival and success. The western Roman Empire could effectively not function after losing the revenue streams in North Africa and Spain, and not having access to recruiting grounds in Gaul and the Balkans. Never once during this period in the 5th century did they lose control of any territory in Italy, and yet, shockingly enough, they were completely crippled. The eastern Roman Empire was similarly crippled for a time when they lost Egypt and Syria, and it took serious reforms for them to stabilize and recover their revenue streams and food supply via Anatolia.

This is akin to saying California is just a "peripheral" part of the United States and that despite being the world's 8th largest economy on its own, isn't actually that integral to the US state.
 
I think something you're finding difficult to grasp is that Rome wasn't a nation state- it was a civilization state. No matter what language you spoke or religion you were, if you followed the basic tenants of Roman culture, you were a Roman. Roman culture, naturally, changed over time, but you do see influences of Byzantium is the pre-476 West.

I think this is the bit causing the disagreement. In my view, language and religious beliefs are two of the biggest -- if not the two biggest -- determinants of culture, such that I don't think two people can be said to share a culture if they speak different languages and follow different religions. What would you say are the main determinants of culture?
 
Seems to be different opinions of what a "continuation" means. For me it means more or less that it is the same thing, but someone might perhaps mean that the Dominate and the Byzantine empire are not continuations, but that they both are the Roman Empire. For me they are the Roman Empire, meaning that they are continuations.
 
I think this is the bit causing the disagreement. In my view, language and religious beliefs are two of the biggest -- if not the two biggest -- determinants of culture, such that I don't think two people can be said to share a culture if they speak different languages and follow different religions. What would you say are the main determinants of culture?

I agree they are some of the most important. However, there are some exceptions. One cannot say that despite, for the most part, New Orleans is an English speaking city, it still can be said that it is apart of French culture in terms of food, customs, reverence and religion.
 
I agree they are some of the most important. However, there are some exceptions. One cannot say that despite, for the most part, New Orleans is an English speaking city, it still can be said that it is apart of French culture in terms of food, customs, reverence and religion.

I'm sorry, this is a bit unclear -- are you saying that New Orleans is French, or that it's not?
 
I agree they are some of the most important. However, there are some exceptions. One cannot say that despite, for the most part, New Orleans is an English speaking city, it still can be said that it is apart of French culture in terms of food, customs, reverence and religion.
I'm sorry, this is a bit unclear -- are you saying that New Orleans is French, or that it's not?
I do not consider New Orleans to be a continuation of the Carolingian "Holy" "Roman" "Empire".
 
I do not consider New Orleans to be a continuation of the Carolingian "Holy" "Roman" "Empire".
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I'm of the opinion that the Roman Empire as we know it ended with the Crisis of the Third Century, and its continued survival after that relied on it becoming many things that it previously was nothing like. The Roman Empire we know is the Principate, which died with the Crisis of the Third Century. The Dominate took its place and survived as the Roman and then Eastern Roman Empire for one thousand more years.
 
Voted for the Byzantines because they were for all intents and purposes a continuation of the Roman Empire (until at least 1204) and the Papal States, since the Catholic Church wasn't an option.
 
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