Re: A. Kaldellis and Romanland (2019). First, I love this book. He is one of my fave academix. And It retired so many dull tropes about only the tyranny of the emperor bound the eastern roman empire. It does, however, have flaws.
Mainly, talk of nationalism and Romans will always be anachronistic. Romans never thought of the Rhomaion politeia as having natural boundaries & a fixed people. It was always imperial in sense that it really was meant to be the Oikoumene.
Theory mattered, it wasn’t pure ideology. The empire should be "sine fine". Sure reality was different but that was thanks to Man's fallenness & nothing to do with the theory/mandate from heaven.
See C7th Doctrina Jacobi: “Once all these [countless] peoples [even Britons] had been subordinated to the Romans by the will of God [mandate fr heaven], but now one could see Romania had been humbled.”
The real Pillars of Romanitas? Chalcedonian doctrine, Roman law & political customs of Republic/Palace. Nt one is framed in terms of common ethnic descent – tho they may work as approximate ethnic markers, it is important that they r never explicitly articulated as such.
Leo VI’s Tactica has kantatores (messages/speeches) to each small unit (bandon) of the army. A good sample runs thus
“Call to mind the reward for their faith in God. Then the benefactions of the emperor. Then their previous victories. Then their labours on behalf of the entire people (ethnos)… and fatherland (patris)… the freedom of their brothers… the fight against the enemies of God.”
Danger of anachronism is rife: the people is the ethnos Christianon, the Romans as the chosen leader of this broad group of orthodox peoples NOT the Roman Race in modern terminology.
The patris is, of course, the fatherland of the Roman Empire but not in a blut und boden sense, but as a historical continuum, & even more in a sense of HOME (i.e. that their crops, women and kids were behind them in Christendom & all enemies stood against these things/places).
Behind these plucky Romans stood their tes heauton patridos (regional homeland), their little patches/patrides (homelands), Roman communities that believed correctly & had a historically honed polity.
Byz could war down orthodox enemies mainly thanks to the fact/fiction it was always they & not the Romans who had attacked the Christian commonwealth, it was THEY who had violated the Christian laws of brotherhood and peace.
Let’s not overplay the hand, Byz were not mercenaries brought together by fate or the emperor’s purse. They were an ethnicity in modern sense of shared history, culture, faith etc.: A ROMANIA, ROMAN EMPIRE, A PATRIA COMMUNIS: But they never expressed it in racial terms.
The ethnic bagginess is what allows Pechenegs, Turkomen, Armenians, Bulgars & Saracens to rise high. Put your hand on the big Chalcedonian Bible and u Roman brah.
The historical thread; the shared past of a community is the real golden seam. Look at Zonaras charting Rome from kingship to tyranny, aristocracy to democracy and then to its flowering autocracy. All one ppl experiencing the same polity.
Some of my least fave Romans are the Rhomaioi of Lake Pousgouse. They showed no loyalty to emperor in C12th and so John II had to fight his own people to reintegrate them into the Roman Empire. Fukn jokers.
This is all greatly complicated by the fact C13th provincialism made Romanitas insecure. It unmoored it from its anchor: Constantinople, which secured all Rome’s history in one legitimating centre, the New Rome.
In reaction, Hellenism as an ethnicity rose as an attempt to connect Romanitas to an ethnicity rather than the global node that was Constantinople.
This is where we see the birth of the modern issues that plague historiography. Were Greeks submerged in Roman History or were Romans immersed in the Greek story?
Were there essentially Greek city-states in subservience (douleia) to a nasty big Roman metropolis called Constantinople or was there sufficient kinship and culture for the Roman name to be meaningful and yet not meaningful enough 1453-1821? These are very contested Qs.
FINAL COMMENT: Metochites (yes, he of Chora hat fame) is first to play with idea srsly that Romanitas is an element of Hellenism rather than vice versa. Personally, I prefer Chrysoloras’ melding of two peoples (Romans and Hellenes) to make the eternal Rhomaioi.

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