Towards its end, we know that Byzantine Empire was more or less Greek, while it continued to call itself the Roman Empire (please correct me if it's not so).

What was the phase in its history, when it became more Greek than anything else, in terms of language, customs, and ruling class?

An auxiliary question is please suggest me some good sources about the social and cultural life in the empire.

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    Possible duplicate of When did the Greeks stop calling themselves Romans? Jun 23 '18 at 5:18
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    @PieterGeerkens I viewed the said question. Its about when did Greeks start calling themselves not Romans. My question is about when did the Romans become more Greek. Nonetheless, interesting, and might contain some discussion I am looking for.
    – Rohit
    Jun 23 '18 at 5:24
  • It might be a good idea to remove the request for sources as this is off-topic (unless you mean primary). Jun 23 '18 at 7:11
  • @LarsBosteen Its not an inseparable part of the question :). Overlook if you feel like
    – Rohit
    Jun 23 '18 at 9:29

My understanding of the Eastern Empire is that the Greeks never really lost their identity.

Even when Rome was ruling the area directly, Greek remained the lingua franca in the East - and indeed the official one for all practical intents if not legally. There were a few efforts to enforce Latin as the official language but they never got anywhere:

The emperor Claudius tried to limit the use of Greek, and on occasion revoked the citizenship of those who lacked Latin. Even in addressing the Roman Senate, however, he drew on his own bilingualism in communicating with Greek-speaking ambassadors. Suetonius quotes him as referring to "our two languages," and the employment of two imperial secretaries, one for Greek and one Latin, dates to his reign.

The everyday interpenetration of the two languages is indicated by bilingual inscriptions, which sometimes even switch back and forth between Greek and Latin. The epitaph of a Greek-speaking soldier, for instance, might be written primarily in Greek, with his rank and unit in the Roman army expressed in Latin.

In the Eastern empire, laws and official documents were regularly translated into Greek from Latin. Both languages were in active use by government officials and the Church during the 5th century. From the 6th century, Greek culture was studied in the West almost exclusively through Latin translation. Latin loanwords appear liberally in Greek texts on technical topics from late antiquity and the Byzantine period.

If you really want to put a date on when some kind of transition occurred whereby it reverted to being purely Greek, the collapse of the Western Empire might fit the bill. So might the year when the Byzantine Empire switched from Latin to Greek as its official language (610 or whereabouts - see MAGolding's comment below). But this should be with the understanding that, prior to that, it was very Greek already.

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    Your statement that the Byzantine Empire switched the official language from Latin to Greek in 610 seems based on the fact that Heraclius became Emperor in 610. It is commonly claimed that Heraclius changed the official language to Greek. But many sources claim that is a myth. historum.com/medieval-byzantine-history/… quora.com/…
    – MAGolding
    Jun 23 '18 at 17:06
  • @MAGolding: oh, ok. I mindlessly took the date from the Byzantium empire's Wikipedia page without realizing it might be controversial. Will adjust the answer. Jun 23 '18 at 17:29

This really only supplements Dennis De Bernady's answer. The Eastern half of the Roman Empire, which we call Byzantium after the former name of its capital city, had previously been part of the Greek/Macedonian ruled Empire of Alexander the Great, and the successor states into which it split after his death founded by his generals e.g. Ptolemy in Egypt. Hence Greek was the language of the rulers and became the 'lingua franca' of trade and cultural exchange. When the Romans took over the region, as government and commerce were already mostly conducted in Greek and this seemed to work, and educated Romans already tended to know Greek, there was no reason to change it.

When I have visited former parts of the East Roman Empire like Greece, Turkey and Egypt where ancient inscriptions remain from the Roman period they are very, very rarely in Latin, but almost always either in Greek or a local language.

The New Testament was written in Greek as the main literary language of the region even though it was then part of the Roman Empire, Jesus preached in Aramaic and the scriptures he quoted were in Hebrew.

When the Western Latin-speaking half of the Roman Empire fell to the barbarians in the fifth century, and the attempt at partial reconquest under Emperor Justinian in the Sixth Century did not last, most of the Latin speaking parts of the Empire were gone, and the Greek speaking parts continued speaking Greek, so Latin fell out of use.

This was not 100%; speaking of Latin in the formerly barbarian provinces of the northern Balkans had been encouraged and survives today in the Latin-derived language Romanian (whose name is related to Roman) and until the nineteenth century in the now extinct Dalmatian language.

Also, when Roman law was codified under Justinian in the sixth century it was done (like the earlier laws on which it was based) in Latin, producing the 'Digest' of laws which is the main form in which Roman law was studied in Europe thereafter.

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