History 4340: Byzantium and the West

History 4340: Byzantium and the West


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For the city in the late Roman and the Eastern Roman or Byzantine periods (330–1453), see Constantinople. For the Ottoman and modern city (after 1453), see Istanbul. For the empire, see Byzantine Empire.

Byzantium (bih-ZAN-tee-uhm; Greek: Βυζάντιον, Byzántion) was the ancient Greek city on the site that later became Constantinople (modern Istanbul). It was founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 657 BC. The city was rebuilt and reinaugurated as the new capital of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine I in 330 AD and subsequently renamed to Constantinople. The city remained the capital of the Byzantine Empire until 1453, when it was conquered and became the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Since the establishment of modern Turkey in 1923, the Turkish name of the city, Istanbul, has replaced the name Constantinople in the West.

The name of Byzantion is believed to be of Thracian or Illyrian origin[1] and may be derived from a Thracian or Illyrian personal name, Byzas.[2] Ancient Greek legend refers to a legendary king of that name as the leader of the Megarean colonists and eponymous founder of the city. The form Byzantium is a Latinization of the Greek.


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