The opening ceremony of the 2018 Edition of the Annual School of Byzantine Studies






The Annual School of Byzantine Studies

“Representations of Byzantium in History, Literature and Art”

 The solidarization of the academic community around a successful project


September 11th, 2018

The opening ceremony of the 2018 Edition of the Annual School of Byzantine Studies, organized by the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization in partnership with the University of Bucharest, the Francophone Regional Centre for Advanced Research in Social Sciences, the “Ovidius” University in Constanța, the National University of Political and Administrative Studies, the Museum of National History and Archaeology in Constanța and the Romanian Foundation for Democracy was held in the Senate Hall of the University of Bucharest.

The commencement address of the President of the Scientific Council of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization, Professor Emil Constantinescu and that of Professor Paolo Odorico of the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris and Scientific Director of the Annual School of Byzantine Studies together highlighted the importance and the scope of this initiative, through emphatic and captivating pleas for the further development  - both within Romania and worldwide – of the humanities in general and of Byzantine Studies in particular. President Emil Constantinescu illustrated the influence of the age-old Byzantine traditions maintained in Romania, which led Nicolae Iorga to once call this space a “Byzance après Byzance”. Professor Paolo Odorico, in turn, noted his pleasant surprise at the level of development and the openness of Romania in the last few years, expressing his wish to continue to mould another generation of experts in Byzantine Studies in this fertile space. The erudite message of Professor Ioan Pânzaru, the Director of CEREFREA – Villa Noël and the organizer of the 2017 edition of the Annual School of Byzantine Studies, highlighted the influence of Byzantium on French culture, and underlined the points of contact between French and Romanian researchers in the field of Byzantine Studies. The commencement address of Professor Ioan-Aurel Pop, President of the Romanian Academy and Rector of the “Babeş-Bolyai” University in Cluj-Napoca, as well as that of Professor Michel Kaplan of the Sorbonne University in Paris, were conveyed to the attentive audience. The addresses of Professor Bogdan Murgescu, the Director of the Doctoral School of the University of Bucharest and of Professor Daniela Ţurcanu Caruțiu, the Director of the Institute of Science, Culture and Spirituality at the “Ovidius” University in Constanța, underlined the efforts on the part of their respective institutions in support of the Annual School of Byzantine Studies.



Prof.dr. Bogdan Murgescu, președintele Societății de Științe Istorice din România:

Professor Bogdan Murgescu, PhD, President of the Romanian Society of Historical Sciences:

“Byzantium, a millennial civilization that shaped and connected the world around it”

“The University of Bucharest is an academic and research centre in the South-Eastern part of Europe, renowned both within Romania and worldwide. Alongside historians, the University is also host to specialists in Theology, Geography, Geology, Letters and many other academic fields that are connected not solely to the present realities but also to the past realities of the region we find ourselves in. We are proud to have been able to support the inaugural edition of the Summer School of Byzantine Studies with the invaluable assistance of our colleagues at the Faculty of History and at CeReFREA – the Regional Francophone Centre of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences at the University of Bucharest. We are once again proud to be able to contribute to the organization of this edition of the Summer School, and to be a part of the process of transforming what had only been an initiative into a true tradition of academic excellence. I believe that this is an essential endeavour, and I would like to warmly welcome and congratulate the members of the Scientific Council of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization for taking this second step, hopefully one of many on the road to creating a long and established tradition of academic excellence.

As a historian, I could talk at length about the influence of Byzantium; however, since all of us gathered here today either are or are soon to be specialists in the field of Byzantine Studies, I trust it is not necessary that I elaborate on the importance of the Byzantine Empire for mediaeval and modern history. What I would, however, like to remind our honoured audience of is the fact that, because Byzantium was a millennial civilization, it did not just shape the world around it, but also connected it. It is thus my hope that this Summer School will offer you the opportunity to in turn contribute to the available knowledge, to shape the directions of academic discourse in the field of Byzantine Studies, to establish durable ties to your fellow specialists who also honour us with their presence here today, and to craft long and successful academic careers for yourselves.



Prof.dr. Emil Constantinescu, președintele Consiliului Științific al ISACCL:

Professor Emil Constantinescu, PhD, President of the Scientific Council of the ISALCC:

“The Byzantine period was a moment of cultural, intellectual, social and religious flowering, which has left an extensive and indelible mark on world history.”

“The Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization, taking on the initiative of a Summer School organized by the Regional Francophone Centre for Advanced Research in Social Studies at the University of Bucharest, has established a School of Byzantine Studies, which will annually bring together professors, researchers, students, PhD candidates and those with a passion for Byzantine Studies.

The Byzantine period was a moment of cultural, intellectual, social and religious flowering, one that left an extensive and indelible mark on world history. Beyond the archaeological remains, a number of customs and elements of Byzantine lifestyle can still be found in many in the social interactions of today. This partly explains the renewed interest in Byzantine Studies in contemporary academia, both in universities and in research centres around the globe.

On the edge of the Empire, and at times a part of it, the Romanian space directly felt the powerful influence of Byzantium. After the fall of Constantinople, Byzantine culture continued to exert a major influence on the emergent arts and culture of the developing Romanian princedoms, so much so that the famous historian and politician Nicolae Iorga felt it appropriate to speak of a “Byzantium after Byzantium” in mediaeval Romania.

In order to adequately portray the impact of Byzantium on the Romanian cultural consciousness, the first day of the School of Byzantine Studies will be spent visiting several historical and cultural sites in Bucharest, being a good opportunity for those interested in discovering and exploring Bucharest’s rich post-Byzantine heritage. Our activities in the field will be followed up by trips to other sites representative of the Roman-Byzantine period, both in Romania and Bulgaria, complementing the addresses of distinguished members of academia that have graciously answered the call from Professor Paolo Odorico – the Scientific Director of the School of Byzantine Studies – to share some of their wisdom and experience with our participants. I salute the presence here today of young researchers both from Romania and from afar, and I hope that our efforts contribute positively to their academic formation.



A message from the President of the Romanian Academy, Professor Ioan-Aurel Pop, PhD and Rector of the “Babeş-Bolyai” University in Cluj-Napoca:

“The New Rome of the East left a visible impact on this people”

“The Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization, through the Annual School of Byzantine Studies, is reviving an old tradition, by which the Romanian spirit has successfully managed to affirm its dual cultural appurtenance: on the one hand, to the Latin West, and on the other, to the Byzantine East. Even though, due to their Roman descent – evident in their language, toponymy, naming conventions and even in their approach to Christianity – Romanians can rightly claim their descent from the great family of Western European cultures, the New Rome of the East still managed to leave a visible impact upon this people. Their church, the observance of Byzantine-Orthodox rites, the use of Slavonic for mediaeval Church writings as well as for the chancelleries of the period and in Romanian mediaeval culture on the whole, the use of the Cyrillic alphabet until the second half of the 19th century, the successive rounds of Phanariote rule during the Enlightenment, together with a certain Levantine forma mentis, have allowed this people to rightly consider themselves the last Eastern descendants of Rome, in a space that carried forward the memory of old Rome, yet with  a Greek and Slavonic substrate. Byzantium, often called “the Empire of the Romans”, with an Imperator Romanorum at its head, created - as Dimitri Obolenski would have said – a veritable Commonwealth of Nations in this region, and one that exerted a powerful influence over Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. Yet, at the same time, this same Commonwealth was illuminating the West, reviving Greco-Latin classicism during a dark time in Western history. Without the Greco-Roman traditions, carefully preserved over the centuries in the East and expanded upon after 1453, Western Europe would have been much worse off, and the Renaissance would have certainly had a different trajectory. As such, “the two lungs of Europe”, to quote Pope John Paul II, were reunited in a remarkable synthesis, one that to this day awaits passionate researchers and academics to truly bring it to light.

The Annual School of Byzantine Studies in Bucharest is a remarkable opportunity to foster interest in an original, creative and lengthy civilization, one that Nicolae Iorga called a “Byzantium after Byzantium – Byzance après Byzance”. We greatly appreciate the initiative of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization to undertake this project, and we would like to take this opportunity to extend our congratulations to President Constantinescu for his effort in continuing to promote such a profound academic initiative in an ever faster and more superficial world. We wish great success to all the participants and invited speakers in deciphering a world whose plenary influences on our contemporary society are still being brought to light, a world which can help more wisely shape our future.”



Prof. dr. Paolo Odorico, director științific al Școlii Anuale de Studii Bizantine:

Professor Paolo Odorico, Scientific Director of the Annual School of Byzantine Studies:

“Romania is a country that, given its relatively recent period in which history was all but banished from society”

“Long ago, I started a summer school in Greece, that had tremendous success which continues to this day. Last year, thanks to the efforts on the part of CeReFREA – that is to say, of Professor Pânzaru -, on the part of the University of Bucharest and with perhaps a slightly crazy level of enthusiasm on the part of Ana – Maria Răducan, we successfully established a summer university in Romania. I am amazed to see the level of development and the importance placed on the humanities in Romania. I had three doctoral students, now all PhDs, from Romania, and it was impossible to distinguish between them in terms of their academic proficiency. Perhaps the best-known today is Andrei Timotin, now the Director of the Institute for South-East European Studies. He was my student. The other two, in turn, are destined for great academic careers. And this is because Romania has at its disposal colossal intellectual resources that today, unfortunately, are sorely lacking in the West. Imagine that, in France, the study of Greek is practically extinct, and the study of Latin is almost non-existent. The humanities are no longer taken into account, the main focus being the hard sciences that have a say in the economy. Can you imagine a society without a humanist culture, without a culture of letters? This is the reality. Today, we are at the stage where Voltaire could never find an editor, since it would most certainly not be profitable to publish him. The slumber of reason births nightmares.

Byzantine Studies is also a submerged field. Why study Byzantium, in the end? Because it carries significant meaning, and a great Byzantine, Orthodox tradition. I do not wish to equate Byzantium with the Church, but I must stress the reality of this observable fact, this interwoven mental structure so thoroughly Eastern. On the other hand, Byzantium has for the longest time been demonized by the West. Now, things are actually changing. For the past twenty years, we have witnessed an enormous development of the field of Byzantine Studies. Picture that now, on the brink of retirement, I have 18 doctoral students from across the globe, and my last cohort has students coming from as far as China, Korea, Canada, Mexico and Argentina, countries that most definitely did not have a Byzantine past.

Why, then, study Byzantium? Because Byzantium is the foundation of Eastern Europe, which is just as European as the other Europe. Westerners are often mistaken equating Europe with Charlemagne. Well, false! There are two Europes, one just as European as the other, and we Westerners look at Byzantium, at Eastern Europe, at what we could have become but did not. After so many years of demonizing and condemning Byzantium, now is the time of our resurgence and that of scouring society for those forces that still believe in humanist values. Romania is a country that is now opening up tremendously, after so many years of post-war hardship and following a relatively recent period in which history was all but banished from society.”



A message from Professor Michel Kaplan, PhD, Centre des Recherches et Civilisation Byzantines et du Proche Orient Médiéval:

“The wealth of Byzantine heritage in Romania completely justifies the creation of such an Annual School”

“The links between Romania and the Byzantine civilization, as well as the wealth of Byzantine heritage in Romania completely justify the creation of this School. I would have loved to take part in it, as I took part last year; unfortunately, I cannot for reasons beyond my control. I sincerely regret not being able to attend, and I would like to sincerely thank Charis Messis for kindly stepping in as my replacement at such short notice. I know you are in safe hands with him.

The field of Byzantine Studies is a difficult one, and that is why I have always supported Professor Paolo Odorico’s efforts of creating Summer Schools dedicated to the field, that allow young Byzantine scholars to acquire a more thorough understanding of the progress of research across the various specializations of Byzantine Studies. Such schools allow young researchers to embrace the scientific mind-set and acquire an openness to cross-disciplinary interference that they couldn’t otherwise find, had they remained content with the exact fields of their respective specializations.”



Prof.dr. Ioan Pânzaru, director CEREFREA:

Professor Ioan Pânzaru, PhD, Director of CeReFREA:

“In Romania, the field of Byzantine Studies has evolved on its home soil”

“I would only like to add that, in Romania, the field of Byzantine Studies has evolved on its home soil. There had of course existed a great tradition of Byzantine Studies before World War II, a tradition that somehow persisted through the dark years of communism thanks to the efforts of the Orthodox Church. There was an established tradition, there was the Philokalia, there were numerous studies in patrology, we have never ceased translating... Yet I wish to point out, as Director of the Francophone Centre, that with regard to Byzantine Studies there was always a close collaboration between French and Romanian researchers in the field, beginning with Nicolae Iorga, Berger, Charles Etienne etc.

Before the War, an Institute of Byzantine Studies was created by the Assumptionist Fathers in Bucharest. They only recently returned, and have picked up where they had left off. Before the war, they had a monastery at Blaj, where Father Ademar Mercks would often travel to, and where they opened a boarding school for poor children, which were taught by Cardinal Todea, with which Mercks was on very good terms.

French culture did indeed for the longest time have a tradition of disdain and hatred towards Byzantium, as Byzantium was associated with the infamy of the West, so to speak, especially with regard to religious tolerance. This French tradition is primarily owed to Voltaire, whose works, as rightly has been pointed out, are no longer in demand.

Yet by the end of the 19th century, depictions of Byzantium veered towards violence, for example in the incredibly successful works of Victorien Sardou, or in the role of Empress Theodora, played by Sarah Bernhardt. All these developments were keenly followed by the Romanian public. Concurrently, there was also the famous Jean Lombard – famous at the time, as he is mostly forgotten today – and his opera containing bizarre and extravagant intrigues, expressly titled “Byzance” and which reminds the viewer of Sallambô in its dramatic description of the horrors that would take place in Constantinople.

Furthermore, we should mention Paul Adam, a very interesting character as he was a specialist in Greek. He translated works of Greek patrology never before translated into French, directly from the sources. Among others, in his novel titled “Irène et les eunuques”, which speaks of the re-establishing of the true faith by empress Irene, he stresses at length the plots hatched between the eunuchs at the palace, with particular attention to the eunuch Starurakios, Stavrakios or Stavrikios – however you wish to call him and, among others, recounts the famous beauty contest held in order to find a wife for Emperor Konstantinos Isauros. The chosen bride is a particularly beautiful, particularly virtuous young woman, the daughter of a saint, called Mary of Amnia. For us, those versed in Romanian literature, this has strong familiar echoes of the famous Mihail Sadoveanu – famous to Romanians – who, in his novel “The Golden Branch”, described exactly the same scene and I cannot help but think that he was familiar with the work of Paul Adam, which had come out ten years prior, from which he carried over the essential aspects of the scene. He writes it in pages that owe nothing to his French influence, untranslatable pages of breath-taking beauty. Perhaps someone, someday, will take on the task of translating “The Golden Branch” into the French. It recounts exactly the same history, only with a romanticist inflection. Mary of Amnia is in love with a young and handsome monk, a Dacian, the famous Kesarion Breb. Their love is ideal, yet Kesarion Breb returns to the mountains of Wallachia to continue his ancestral rites – rites which are, at best, ambiguously Christian, with strong undertones of pre-Christian pagan rituals in honour of the god Zamolxis. I believe Paul Adam and Mihail Sadoveanu have found an artistic niche all their own, and have a remarkable connection to one another.”



Prof.dr. Daniela Țurcanu Caruțiu, director al Institutului de Știință, Cultură și Spiritualitate:

Professor Daniela Ţurcanu Caruțiu, Director of the Institute of Science, Culture and Spirituality:

“Our institutions are committed to jointly organizing the Annual School of Byzantine Studies”

“This summer, the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization entered a partnership accord with the Institute of Science, Culture and Spirituality at the “Ovidius” University in Constanța, through which our two institutions committed to the joint organization of the Annual School of Byzantine Studies. We aimed, and hopefully will have succeeded, to provide you with optimal conditions for the activities of the Summer School, both with regard to the locations of the lectures themselves, and to the accommodation of the participants. After arriving in Constanța, I will be able to show you several of the most important archaeological sites in Dobrogea, sites of particular relevance for the Byzantine culture and civilization in the region. Beginning from Tomis – modern Constanța – we will follow two routes:  one northwards, along the shore of the Black Sea, where we will visit the citadels at Histria, Argamum, Enisala and Halmyris in Murighiol, and the other westwards, towards the Danube and Carsium – modern Hârşova. I will have the honour of presenting my passion and field of study, cultural heritage, with a lecture on Byzantine art in relation to Christianity. It is my hope that the proceedings of the Summer School of Byzantine Studies will be a tremendous success, and I warmly await your arrival in Constanța two days from now.

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