The lost culture of Byzantine Europe
The Eagle Has Two Faces: Journeys through Byzantine Europe is a recently released 'travelogue' by Alexander Billinis, exploring the remnants of the Byzantine
The Eagle Has Two Faces: Journeys through Byzantine Europe is a recently released 'travelogue' by Alexander Billinis, exploring the remnants of the Byzantine Empire. Born in the US of Greek parents, it began as a quest to discover his Greek identity, and has led him to a conception of the deep relationship between Greece and the Balkan states.
"Growing up as a Diaspora Greek, I was constantly seeking what it means to be Greek," he says in an interview with Neos Kosmos.
"To me, who we are as Greeks has far more to do with the thousand plus years of Byzantine history and the 500 years of Turkish rule than the Classical Greek period." Centred around Constantinople, the Byzantine Empire lasted from the fourth century to the mid 1400s. Throughout its duration, it was perhaps the most politically, economically and culturally advanced society on earth. It finally succumbed to the Ottoman Empire in 1453. Subsequently, Byzantine achievements have drifted into obscurity.
"It is never talked about, and as a result it is easy to dismiss a whole culture, to the detriment of the Greeks, the Serbs and others who are successors to this civilization," he continues. The Eagle Has Two Faces seeks to redress this anomaly, and rediscover a vital period of history which binds the cultures of Greece and the Balkans. Alexander contends that under the Ottomans, these two geographically European entities were insulated from western influence, and therefore share a common experience which has seen them emerge behind, and out of step with the rest of Europe.
Moreover, this legacy goes a long way to explaining the prevailing condition of the region, from the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, to Greece's current economic malaise, Alexander argues. Alexander was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and says if anything, the concentration of Mormons there made the Greek community more cohesive. After studying international business and law, he carved out a successful career in banking. Consequently, much of the analysis in his book is based on business and economics.
"When I worked in Greece as a banker, it was astonishing how nearly all Greek investment is in ex-Byzantine countries," he says. Having lived and worked in Bulgaria and Greece, and travelled widely throughout Turkey, Italy Austria and Hungary, his experience of the region is substantial. Now living in Serbia with his Serbian wife, the pattern continues. "Living in Serbia is not a foreign experience for a Greek, since so many of the symbols of identity are the same." His search has clearly yielded results; historical, cultural and even personal. "The Byzantines are where we come from, so by studying them, by visiting their sites, and what remains of their culture, I learn about myself."
The Eagle Has Two Faces: Journeys through Byzantine Europe can be purchased through www.amazon.co.uk
- Register Now
- Hawke labels Coalition's parental leave plan 'poor policy'
- Kewell dumped by Al Gharafa
- Eurovision 2013: The kitsch and the high notes
- AEK set for liquidation and third tier
- Ancient Greek should be funded by community
- Greeks abroad may help Greece and Cyprus recovery
- Raptis disputes $21m tax debt
- Thanasi you're a scholar!
- Director Oliver Stone wishes Tsipras 'good luck'
- 8 May 2013 | 12 Votes
- 15 May 2013 | 9 Votes
- 19 Apr 2013 | 9 Votes
- 3 May 2013 | 8 Votes
- 8 May 2013 | 8 Votes
- 13 May 2013 | 7 Votes
More from this Section
- Heristanidis shortlisted for NSW Premier's Literary Award
- A tale of superstition, family myths and denial
- High Heels for Six available on Amazon
- Muslim-Christian coexistence, before the nation
- Christos Tsiolkas, back at uni
- Το βιβλίο της εβδομάδας
- Don't judge this book by its cover
- Literary comp open
- Spyros' memoirs
- Book review: Travels with Epicurus
Senator claims Labor's asylum seeker policy is the reason for the government turning a blind eye to the Malaysian election result
The third annual art exhibition: Antipodean Palette 2013
Nick Giannopoulos, Vince Colosimo, and Alex Dimitriades take over The Party, presented by DJ Krazy Kon.
Costas Iordanidis gives his opinion on Greek PM Antonis Samaras' visit to China, and the bilateral ties he plans on making there
Sooner or later, community indifference and the plurality of other options will place our language's existence within the National Curriculum in jeopardy
Demure family matriarch gets respectful send-off
Nick Dallas sits down with former radio broadcaster and community activist Kostas Karamarkos to talk Greek politics, the crisis and the worsening state of the Eurozone
Neos Kosmos writer Dora Kitinas-Gogos is in Greece, and gives us her perspective of what's going on in our mother country
Wellington Phoenix striker Jeremy Brockie will play for Major League Soccer club Toronto FC
Research is on history, literature, or archaeology, in the Egyptian, Greek, Roman or post-Roman worlds.
The businessman hopes to bring international interest to the complex
Tsochatzopoulos called for two defense ministers in the New Democracy governments that took over from PASOK from 2004 onward to be questioned
Sunk in recession for the past six years and struggling to steer its economy through painful austerity cuts, Greece now faces a fertility crisis as well.
Director Oliver Stone wished SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras 'good luck' in leading Greece.
Greek Australian businessman Mark Voyage was one of the first Australians to crack the Chinese market and witnessed historic moments from a local perspective
The government will have to complete certain structural reforms before the second tranche is released
The Greek Australian footy star kicked four goals and helped Essendon get 40 points in front
Greek supporters left without Greek derby, as Oakleigh Cannons decide not to enter the FFV Knockout Cup match with South Melbourne