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Belisarius Ryan

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About Belisarius Ryan

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  • Birthday 01/21/1981

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    richmond, va, usa
  • Interests
    history: in general, i like ancient and medieval history; specifically i am interested in classical greece & alexander the great, ancient rome & medieval byzantium, and medieval europe. i am also fascinated by ancient china and feudal japan.

    other interests: music (i play bass, guitar, and a little keyboard; i am interested in recording and producing music as well)
    i'm also a film geek. i like science fiction, action, drama, italian horror, etc...
  1. Belisarius Ryan

    Where does the Byzantine Empire begin?

    The Eastern Empire might not have survived as long as it did (or at least in the form it survived), had it not been for the "romanization" of the eastern peoples which had already occurred. Although it was more a Greek Empire by the middle ages, it was still rooted in roman ideals, traditions, legal systems, etc..
  2. Belisarius Ryan

    What do you guys do for living?

    I'm embarressed to say what i do after reading about you lawyers and professors. I'm a blue-collar intellectual...a college dropout factory worker. My IQ is probably double that of my immediate supervisors, but they all think I'm weird because I chatter endlessly about roman emperors, politics, etc, and all they care about is college football and which restaurants have the best fried chicken
  3. Many great individuals in history are now believed to have had Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of Autism. Einstein is believed to have had it. Thomas Jefferson also may have had it (read Diagnosing Jefferson). I myself have asperger's syndrome, and after reading about Claudius, the 4th emperor, I believe there is a strong possibility that he too may have been mildly autistic. Many of his relatives and contemporaries were embarressed by him and considered him dumb or retarded, yet he was actually quite intelligent and in many ways a progressive leader.
  4. Belisarius Ryan

    Where does the Byzantine Empire begin?

    Indeed. Byzantine makes more sense anyway, as it was Constantinople (Byzantium), not Rome, which existed as the cultural and economic nerve center of the Eastern Empire. However, I can see why many citizens of the Byzantine Empire may have taken pride in calling themselves "Roman," just as many U.S. citizens seem to pride themselves on the fact that they are "American". The Roman Empire (especially in the east) was comprised of a diverse population of various ethnic groups, just as the U.S. is now. What gave them a common identity was a sense of pride in knowing (or believing) they were part of the greatest civilization in the world, just as many Americans seem to do in current times.
  5. Belisarius Ryan

    What's the last book you read?

    I just read the linked review of Justinian's Flea. I agree that it Rosen does a good job of not alienating the reader. (I can't really speak for other readers, but I wasn't bored with it.) I agree that one of Justinian's key talents was his ability to spot talent in other individuals and to use them to their full potential. He was not unlike some of the great leaders of the modern era. Looking back at Washington, it wasn't necessarily his own talents which made him a good president, but rather the cabinet he employed (Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton--all incredibly intelligent and talented men). It is regrettable that Justinian was a bit distrusting and paranoid, however. Had he trusted Belisarius more, the conquest of Italy may have been more successful and perhaps the reconquered lands would not have fallen back into the hands of the barbarians as soon as they did.
  6. Belisarius Ryan

    What's the last book you read?

    You may be interested in a review of the book from one of my esteemed colleagues: http://www.unrv.com/book-review/justinians-flea.php Thanks for the link
  7. Belisarius Ryan

    What's the last book you read?

    I just finished Justinian's Flea by William Rosen. It was about the plague and how it affected the empire and europe during Justinian's reign. Right now I'm reading a bio of roman emperors from 31 BC to 476 AD ...I forget the author's name, but it's awesome because I only know scattered bits of data about a few emperors. Historical info is lacking on some of the emperors, but I'm learning a lot more about the more obscure ones, and the ones with shorter reigns (i.e. Galba).
  8. Belisarius Ryan

    Surnames of the Claudii

    What about Clodius Albinus, the claimant emperor circa 193 AD?
  9. Belisarius Ryan

    Where does the Byzantine Empire begin?

    I think they considered themselves Romans right up to the fall of Constantinople in 1453. I think it was mainly western europeans that began to see them as 'byzantines' and not romans. Most historians refer to anything later than the 6th century as byzantine, but Toynbee refers to the late byantine empire as the eastern roman empire in A Study of History. The important thing to remember is that they were indeed the inheritors of the roman empire. The eastern empire evolved into a state that was essentially greek, but it was still a hellenistic entity, just as the roman republic and early empire was. In some ways the western european states of the early middle ages were just as roman as the byzantine empire. Althought the last legitimate western emperor was deposed in the 5th century, roman citizens did not simply vanish with the appearance of barbarians such as Odoacer and Theodoric, who basically modeled their governments after what had been used by the romans already. Also, the catholic church, which was probably the major unifying force in medieval western europe, was closely based on the roman imperial government. Even the russian czars after 1453 considered themselves the rulers of the "third rome" however different their culture was from that of Augustus or Justinian or even Basil II.
  10. Belisarius Ryan

    Where does the Byzantine Empire begin?

    I meant to type this in the previous post. I don't really see any one of these dates as turning point. I believe the Eastern Roman Empire gradually evolved into a Greek/Byzantine Empire as the Western Empire gradually declined and splintered into the beginnings of the nations of middle age and renaissance era europe. I still think of Justinian as a Roman and not a Byzantine, although he was a far leap from the Italian born emperors such as Augustuts and Tiberius. If I had to pick only one of those dates, I would go with 610 or 800.
  11. This is a question I have floated around in my head since I was 12: at what point in history does the Roman Empire begin and the Byzantine Empire begin? Every history book on the subject seems to have a different answer. I am listing several possible points in time that could be considered the definitive turning point of the Eastern Empire (i.e. when it became Byzantine and ceased to be Roman). Please tell me which is the best answer, in your opinion. If I didn't list a date you believe to be the definitive answer, then please offer your own answer. a) 286: Diocletian appoints a co-emperor to rule one half of the Roman Empire c. 330: Constantine makes Nova Roma/Byzantium/Constantinople the new capital, thus shifting the cultural and economic centers to the eastern regions of the Roman Empire. c) 395: the death of Theodosius the Great, the last emperor to rule over a unified empire. (it was after his death that many of the Eastern emperors began ignoring the western half altogether. d) 476/480: Romulus Augustus deposed in 476; Julius Nepos, last western emperor legitimately recognized by the eastern empire dies in 480. e) 565: Justinian the Great dies. Not long after his death, many of the western provinces he reconquered fall back into the hands of the Germanic barbarians in the west. f) 610: Heracleus becomes emperor. He makes Greek (already the dominant language in the east) the official language of the empire. g) era of Charlemagne: circa 800, the pope crowns him Roman Emperor. As a result the eastern roman empire begins to be referenced as byzantine, not roman, by inhabitants of western europe.
  12. Belisarius Ryan

    "The Living Camera"

    I have asperger's syndrome, and although I doubt I could do what he did, I kinda understand anyway. When I was about 7 years old I memorized the first 40 presidents after skimming through an encyclopedia. My wife thinks I have savant-like musical abilities, although i disagree. I didn't start playing an instrument until I was 20, and I'm certainly no virtuoso, but I do think I have a very good ear. I can often listen to a song once or twice and immediately learn the notes or chords. I really don't like to talk about it, because I feel like I'm bragging. I'm far from perfect. I can learn my way around a new town or city relatively fast (I guess you could describe it as an internal map I keep in my brain), but I doubt I could come close to doing what that gentleman is capable of doing.
  13. Belisarius Ryan

    Justinian I and Justinian II

    I would recommend reading Justinian's Flea by William Rosen. It discusses the plague's effect on Europe and the Eastern Empire, but it also offers a nice account of the emperor's life. Rosen blames the plague for Justinian's failure to recapture all of the Western provinces. He basically says that Europe and the Eastern Empire would've taken very different paths had the plague not occured.
  14. Belisarius Ryan

    Your Hidden Roman Name

    I like that name
  15. thanks everyone for the warm welcome. I really like this site..so far this is the best site I've found on the subject of roman/byzantine history. It's nice to meet others who share my passion for history.