Byzantium, the Golden Empire

George Meszoly

Tuesdays, February 6 - March 13 10:00 a.m. - noon 6 sessions
Hampshire House, 84 Beacon Street

O sages standing in God’s holy fire

As in the gold mosaic of a wall...” —

William Butler Yeats, Sailing to Byzantium

Perhaps the most neglected of all the major nations and empires, the Eastern Roman Empire was in fact one of the most successful ever. For over 1,100 years it survived, and often even prospered, while on every side enemies and competitors sought to loot, conquer, or destroy it, despite its own internal strife of schisms, schemes and dynastic skullduggery. It competed with its western counterpart and outlasted it by almost a millennium; when the steppe nomads, Goths, Huns, Pechenegs, Khazars and even Hungarians pounded on its borders, it never lost. Vikings and Arabs besieged it and it did not fall; and for almost 800 years, it was the shield and sword that kept from Muslim invasion an ignorant West that did not understand it and reviled it. And, while defending itself by diplomacy, military might,  and bribery, it attained the highest levels of civilization, culture and art. It kept alive classical knowledge long lost in the rest of Europe; its churches were the models  for Islamic mosques; and in its prosperity, it was the economic envy of the world, its coinage the world’s standard.

Join me in discovering this almost magic kingdom, and sit with me

“...upon a golden bough to sing... Of what is past, or passing, or to come.”

Recommended: John Julius Norwich, A Short History of Byzantium.

Teaching Style: Lecture with questions     Weekly Preparation: None

    George Meszoly

    George Meszoly is a graduate of Harvard College in linguistics and Far Eastern languages and of Columbia University in linguistics and Uralic languages.