Not a long one today but I’ve always been interested in the last hold outs of any dead culture or long ago civilization. Stories of Ishi, the last of the Yahi Indians, where the remnants of Nazi Germany fled to, or the last defenders of Roman civilization in Britain have always interested me. Something about defiance in the face of decline is immensely fascinating.
I can’t be the only one. Heck, there’s even an entire section in the dictionary for “The Last of the Romans.” (Hint: There’s a lot of them.)
Which is why I felt compelled to share this story of the survival of Roman identity, even until our modern era.
One soldier, tired of being stared at, finally asked them, “What are you looking at?”
A friend of Charanis responded, “At the Hellenes.”
The soldier laughed, “Are you not Hellenes yourselves?”
“No,” he responded, matter of fact. “We are Rhomaîoi.”
We are Romans.
- Hellenism in Byzantium: The Transformations of Greek Identity and the Reception of the Classical Tradition by Anthony Kaldellis, Cambridge University Press, 2008.
- Carlyle’s discussion of “The Last of the Romans” in On Heroes, Hero Worship and the Heroic in History.
- The History of Byzantium Podcast’s excellent episode on Byzantine identity.