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The Byzantine Lists: ERRORS OF THE LATINS (Illinois Medieval Studies)

– tekijä: Tia M. Kolbaba

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioKeskustelut
1011,473,129 (4.5)-
The Byzantine lists cataloguing the errors of Latin Christians have been dismissed by generations of scholars as the writings of deranged fanatics. In contrast, Tia M. Kolbaba takes these texts seriously and presents an explanation of their significance.
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Tia Kolbaba has written a fairly short, but very informative work regarding attitudes of the Greek Christians toward Latins. Beginning in the 11th century many Greek Religious authors composed lists of errors which the Western Church was guilty of. Among the errors listed are matters of foods eaten, religious rituals such as Lenten Fasting and Baptism, dress, behaviors such as marriage and a Latin addition to the Nicene Creed known as the Filioque (the addition of the words; "and the Son", to the procession of the Holy Spirit in the Creed - the Greeks retained the original "from the father", without this addition).

Kolbaba discusses which errors are listed and the frequency with which they are found in the various lists. This is a very interesting portion of the work; however those who have read one of the History's of the Byzantine Empire such as Vasiliev, Ostrogorsky or Treadgold will find later portions more valuable for it is here that she turns to a discussion of what these lists tell us - not about the Latins but about the Greeks themselves.

First Kolbaba discusses how many of the Greeks participate in the same errors as the Latins. She believes that many of these lists were not meant primarily to turn the Greeks against the Latins, but rather to argue that, by engaging in these behaviors, Greeks resembled them. While this is a form of demonization, it is more along the lines of, "You shouldn't be doing that - you behave like a barbarian!" For a society which prided itself on its perceived superiority to the West, this could be very powerful.

In later chapters Kolbaba discusses the general change in tone contained in these lists over time. Where earlier lists decry the Latin errors, they are less hostile and many state that almost all of the errors, with the exception of the Filioque, while wrong, may be forgiven as not reflecting a loss of truth regarding religion. However the later lists become progressively more hostile toward the Latins and tend to point out more negatives not related to religion, such as the barbarians being unreliable, uncouth, loud, violent, uneducated, etc. For obvious reasons, this becomes even more pronounced after 1204. At its extreme, these involve pure demonizing - priests use icons as toilet seats, bathe in urine and use the ashes of animals in rituals.

This also serves as a very interesting illustration of how societies, when threatened, become more conservative and tend to pull into themselves, battling to preserve their sense of what they are and retain what makes their place in the world unique. As any Byzantine student knows, the last half century or so of the Byzantine Empire contained several instances of the olive branch from the West being dangled before them - resolve the schism and join your Church to ours and an Army will come to save you. Whether any army would have staved off the inevitable is arguable. What is not is that when Emperors such as Michael Palaiologos gave any indication that they might accept such an offer, the residents of what remained of the Empire rose powerfully against it.

This was a very enjoyable work. Kolbaba uses an interesting method to organize her work but one which works quite well. If I have a criticism, I believe a bit more time could have been spent on the Latin reaction to these Lists. Were they offended? How often did letters arrive from the West reacting to the latest slander - as they surely perceived it - against their religious practices? Or were they relatively uncaring? Certainly the West wrote their own lists of errors of the Byzantines, but what did they think of these lists written in the East?

In any case, this work will make valuable reading for anyone interested in what the Greeks thought of their Western contemporaries; as well as giving a great deal of insight into how their society defended itself culturally against the physically stronger west; and how the Eastern Empire responded to its approaching destruction. ( )
  cemanuel | Oct 21, 2008 |
Moreover, The contents are masterwork. you've done a great job on this topic!
 
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The Byzantine lists cataloguing the errors of Latin Christians have been dismissed by generations of scholars as the writings of deranged fanatics. In contrast, Tia M. Kolbaba takes these texts seriously and presents an explanation of their significance.

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