Socialist History Society Public Meeting
Professor Judith Herrin will speak on
Byzantium and What We Can Learn from the Empire
with a particular focus on the role of women
7.00pm, Friday 8th February 2013
Venue: Bishopsgate Institute, Liverpool Street
Free to attend; all welcome
About the Speaker:
Judith Herrin is Emeritus Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies at King's College London. She has long been associated with Past and Present and is currently the Vice Chairman of the journal's Editorial Board. She is one of the world's leading authorities on Byzantine history, culture archaeology. Her specific research interests include women in Byzantium and Byzantium in relation to Islam and Europe. Professor Herrin is the author of The Formation of Christendom; Women in Purple: Rulers of Medieval Byzantium; and most recently Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire.
About the Talk:
Professor Herrin argues for a contemporary appreciation of Byzantium which stresses its civilisation of quality, intelligence and success, and sees aspects of its society as a kind of positive model from which modern civilisation can learn. In her work, she challenges the old stereotype of Byzantium, whose very name is an insult. She sees the core strength of Byzantium as coming from its "inner Greek fire", with its unique combination of Pagan energy, Greek education, Roman law and administration, and Christian faith. "When the capital city was inaugurated in 330," Herrin writes, "all these elements were present and the society that resulted, with its extraordinary self-belief, was "born old". This was the cultural background to its capacity to play the long game when necessary. It also gave it immense self-confidence and flexibility, permitting innovation and invention, from the unprecedented domed structure of Hagia Sophia to the secret of Greek fire itself. It was quite capable of delivering ruthless and crushing defeats as well as developing the arts, techniques and insignia of diplomacy."