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The Foundation of Constantinople and the Adoption of Christianity
We begin our story about the history of Romiosini or the Greek Middle ages with
the founding of Constantinople, the capital city of the Eastern Roman Empire.
Constantinople was founded by the Roman emperor Constantine I (324-337) who
wanted to establish, for various political reasons, a new capital city for the
Roman Empire in the east. Ultimately, this change was brought about because of
the turmoil which the Roman Empire was facing in the west at the time.
Consequently, after a series of internal struggles among the ruling powers of
the Empire, Constantine -who emerged victorious-chose as the location of his new
capital the ancient Greek city of Byzantion. In 324 Constantine transformed
Byzantion into "The New Rome" or "Constantinopolis", the City of Constantine.
The people often referred to it simply as "The City" or, in Greek, "Hi Polis".
A look at a map of the late Roman empire shows that Constantinople was right at
the heart of the Roman Empire. Approaching the city via the Sea of Marmara, one
could see the city as it first rose above the water on its triangular peninsula.
The city was protected on three sides by the sea of Marmara, the Bosporus and
the Golden horn, a natural barrier which the historian Procopius tells us
"surrounded the city like a garland". Later on the garrison of the city was to
be made complete by the addition of a wall, erected by the Emperor Theodosius,
which stretched along the land side of the city from the Golden Horn down to the
Sea of Marmara. Being at the crossroads between the east and west of the
Greco-Roman world, Constantinople was also in a strategic position both
militarily and commercially. Militarily the New Rome was in a much better
position to fight invasions on the Empire's eastern frontiers, as well as
trouble on the Danube. Commercially it was in a position to control trade to and
from the Euxine sea, Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean.
It was at this period in time that the Roman Empire also acquired a new official
religion: Christianity. In time Christianity itself was transformed into a "new"
Christian culture, being couched into the framework of the philosophies,
symbolism's and customs of the ancient Greek world. The natural theology of the
fourth-century eastern Fathers Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil and Gregory of Nyssa
and John Chrysostomos of Ambrose, represented, to a large extent, the
metapsychosis and fusion of Ancient Greek thought and Christian Dogma into a new
philosophical tradition. These issues will be dealt with later in this work,
when we deal with Christianity and the Greek-Orthodox Church. Along with the
Greek language and customs, the Greek-Orthodox faith was to form one of the
links of continuity between the cultures of the ancient Greek and Greco-Roman
worlds and the Medieval world of the Greek Roman East.

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Additional Photos by Nicephorus Phocas (CRATEOS) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1223 W: 133 N: 1457] (7278)
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