Byzantium



Byzantium was an ancient Greek city-state, which according to legend was founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas or Byzantas. The name "Byzantium" is a Latinization of the original Thracian-Greek name Byzantion.

The origins of Byzantium are shrouded in legend. The traditional legend has it that Byzantium was founded by Byzas from Megara when he sailed northeast across the Aegean Sea. Byzas had consulted the Oracle at Delphi to know where to make his new city. The Oracle told him "opposite the blind." At the time, he did not know what this meant until he came upon the Bosphorus he realized what it meant: on the Asiatic shore was a Greek city, Chalcedon. It was they who must have been blind because they had not seen that obviously superior land was just a half mile away on the other side of the Bosphorus. Byzas found his city here in this superior land and named it Byzantion after himself.

After siding with Pescennius Niger against the victorious Septimius Severus the city was besieged by Rome and suffered extensive damage in AD 196. Byzantium was rebuilt by the now Roman Emperor Septimius Severus and quickly regained its previous prosperity. The location of Byzantium attracted Constantine the Great who, in AD 330, refounded it as Nova Roma. After his death the city was called Constantinoupolis (Constantinople, Greek Κωνσταντινούπολις) after a prophetic dream was said to have identified the location of the city. The Eastern Roman Empire, which had its capital in Constantinople from then until 1453, is usually referred to as the Byzantine Empire by modern scholars; by extension, the name Byzantium is often used to refer to the Empire, its territory, and its customs.

This combination of imperialism and location would play an important role as the crossing point between two continents (Europe and Asia), and later a magnet for Africa and others as well, in terms of commerce, culture, diplomacy and strategy. At a strategic position, Constantinople was able to control the route between Asia and Europe, as well as the passage from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euxinos Pontus (Black Sea).

On May 29, 1453, the city fell to the Ottoman Turks and was part of the Ottoman Empire until its official dissolution on November 1, 1922. Since then it has remained a part of the Republic of Turkey (first declared on January 20, 1921, generally recognized on October 29, 1923).

In the 20th century the city was renamed Istanbul. The renaming became official in 1930.

In 670 BC, the citizens of Byzantium claimed the crescent moon as their state symbol, after winning a battle, which they attributed to Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt, whose symbol was the crescent moon. Other ancient cultures might have worshipped the sky, moon and stars but Byzantium was the first governing state to use it as their national symbol. In 330 AD Constantine I added the Virgin Mary's star to the flag. When the city fell to the Ottomans in 1453 they saw this flag with the Crescent all over Constantinople and took it as their own which the Turkish Flag and many other Muslim nations have inherited ever since.

The crescent moon and star were not completely abandoned by the Christian world after the fall of Constantinople. To date the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem official church flag is a lavarum of white with a church building with two towers and on either side of the arms, at the top, are the outline in black of a crescent moon facing center, and a star/stars with rays.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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