Romanity or Barbarism
Taking as his starting point Romanity by Father John Romanides of blessed memory, the author attempts to trace the roots of the historic clash between Hellenism and the West, which appears in different forms up to the present. Although the rift hardened with the Schism and the Crusades, its origins go back to the eighth century with the founding of Charlemagne’s Empire and the misappropriation of the title ‘Roman’ by the Franks. In order to legitimise Frankish claims, relentless propaganda was set in motion that denied the free Romans their own name, calling them Greeks initially, then, when their state disappeared, Byzantines. As a result of Frankish propaganda the same people have been called by four names (Romans, Greeks, Byzantines, Hellenes) over the last 600 years.
Using the extant sources, the author, Anastasios Filippides, examines the preservation of ‘Roman identity’ among the Romans of the West after their conquest by barbarian Germanic tribes. The difference in cultural level, as well as religious and legal differences, prevented the integration of Romans and barbarians for centuries. The vanquished Romans were simply reduced to serfs of a militaristic minority of Frankish conquerors, and remained so until the eighteenth century. It is in this bitter realisation of impotence in the face of the objectives of foreign conquerors that we should look for the seeds of ‘Romanity’s yearning’, which defined modern Greeks up to the twentieth century.
The author, Anastasios Filippides, stresses that, ever since Charlemagne, Western European civilisation has been distinct from Orthodox Helleno-Roman civilisation. Consequently contemporary Orthodox Greeks have no reason to identify with the Western cultural tradition, which is burdened with innumerable crimes against many of the world’s peoples. On the contrary, they should put forward their own tradition as a source of hope for all humanity.