History of European Ideas 44 (6):795-811 (2018)

ABSTRACTThis paper proposes an intellectual history of the idea that the later Roman empire and, subsequently, the whole of Byzantium were less ‘free’ in comparison to the Roman Republic. Anxiety over diminished freedom recurred throughout Roman history, but only a few specific expressions of it were enshrined in modern thought as the basis on which to divide history into periods. The theorists of the Enlightenment, moreover, invented an unfree Byzantium for their own political purposes and not by examining the facts about its political culture. The second part of the paper proposes that the Byzantines valorized a model of positive freedom as legal-institutional protection against arbitrary oppressive power, including against both barbarian domination and domestic abuses. In contrast to modern thought, which tends to see the imperial position as the chief threat to liberty, the Byzantines viewed it as its bulwark. Yet they too had remedies for oppressive emperors, suggesting that the otherwise well-attested invocations of freedom were not a mere rhetorical trope for them but an actionable cultural norm.
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DOI 10.1080/01916599.2018.1513706
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References found in this work BETA

明治維新の源流.Hideo Ando - 1969 - Tokyo: Kinokuniya.
L’origine Des Titres Impériaux À Byzance.Louis Bréhier - 1906 - Byzantinische Zeitschrift 15 (1):161-178.

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Freedom, Ethical Choice and the Hellenistic Polis.Benjamin Gray - 2018 - History of European Ideas 44 (6):719-742.

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