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This article is about the ancient city Byzantium. Byzantium_sentence_0

For other uses, see Byzantium (disambiguation). Byzantium_sentence_1

For the city in the late Roman and the Eastern Roman or Byzantine periods (330–1453), see Constantinople. Byzantium_sentence_2

For the Ottoman and modern city (after 1453), see Istanbul. Byzantium_sentence_3

For the empire, see Byzantine Empire. Byzantium_sentence_4

Byzantium (/bɪˈzæntiəm, -ʃəm/) or Byzantion; (Ancient Greek: Βυζάντιον, romanized: Byzántion, Latin: Byzantium) was an ancient Greek city in classical antiquity that became known as Constantinople in late antiquity and Istanbul today. Byzantium_sentence_5

The Greek name Byzantion and its Latinization Byzantium continued to be used as a name of Constantinople sporadically and to varying degrees during the thousand year existence of the Byzantine Empire. Byzantium_sentence_6

Byzantium was colonized by the Greeks from Megara in 657 BC, and remained primarily Greek-speaking until its conquest by the Ottoman Empire in AD 1453. Byzantium_sentence_7

Name Byzantium_section_0

The etymology of Byzantium is unknown. Byzantium_sentence_8

It has been suggested that the name is of Thraco-Illyrian origin. Byzantium_sentence_9

It may be derived from the Thracian or Illyrian personal name Byzas. Byzantium_sentence_10

Ancient Greek legend refers to King Byzas, the leader of the Megarian colonists and founder of the city. Byzantium_sentence_11

The name Lygos for the city, which likely corresponds to an earlier Thracian settlement, is mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History. Byzantium_sentence_12

Byzántios, plural Byzántioi (Ancient Greek: Βυζάντιος, Βυζάντιοι, Latin: Byzantius; adjective the same) referred to Byzantion's inhabitants, also used as an ethnonym for the people of the city and as a family name. Byzantium_sentence_13

In the Middle Ages, Byzántion was also a synecdoche for the eastern Roman Empire. Byzantium_sentence_14

(An ellipsis of Medieval Greek: Βυζάντιον κράτος, romanized: Byzántion krátos). Byzantium_sentence_15

Byzantinós (Medieval Greek: Βυζαντινός, Latin: Byzantinus) denoted an inhabitant of the empire. Byzantium_sentence_16

The Anglicization of Latin Byzantinus yielded "Byzantine", with 15th and 16th century forms including Byzantin, Bizantin(e), Bezantin(e), and Bysantin as well as Byzantian and Bizantian. Byzantium_sentence_17

The name Byzantius and Byzantinus were applied from the 9th century to gold Byzantine coinage, reflected in the French besant (d'or), Italian bisante, and English besant, byzant, or bezant. Byzantium_sentence_18

The English usage, derived from Old French besan (pl. besanz), and relating to the coin, dates from the 12th century. Byzantium_sentence_19

Later, the name Byzantium became common in the West to refer to the Eastern Roman Empire, whose capital was Constantinople. Byzantium_sentence_20

As a term for the east Roman state as whole, Byzantium was introduced by the historian Hieronymus Wolf only in 1555, a century after the last remnants of the empire had fallen, and whose inhabitants continued to refer to their polity as the Roman Empire (Medieval Greek: Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, romanized: Basileía tōn Rhōmaíōn, lit. Byzantium_sentence_21

'empire of the Romans'), had ceased to exist. Byzantium_sentence_22

Other places were historically known as Byzántion (Βυζάντιον) - a city in Libya mentioned by Stephanus of Byzantium and another on the western coast of India referred to by the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea; in both cases the names were probably adaptations of names in local languages. Byzantium_sentence_23

Faustus of Byzantium was from a city of that name in Cilicia. Byzantium_sentence_24

History Byzantium_section_1

The origins of Byzantium are shrouded in legend. Byzantium_sentence_25

Traditional legend says Byzas from Megara (a city-state near Athens) founded Byzantium in 667 BC when he sailed northeast across the Aegean Sea. Byzantium_sentence_26

The tradition tells that Byzas, son of King Nisos (Νίσος), planned to found a colony of the Dorian Greek city of Megara. Byzantium_sentence_27

Byzas consulted the oracle of Apollo at Delphi, which instructed Byzas to settle opposite the "Land of the Blind". Byzantium_sentence_28

Leading a group of Megarian colonists, Byzas found a location where the Golden Horn, a great natural harbor, meets the Bosphorus and flows into the Sea of Marmara, opposite Chalcedon (modern day Kadıköy). Byzantium_sentence_29

He adjudged the Chalcedonians blind not to have recognized the advantages the land on the European side of the Bosporus had over the Asiatic side. Byzantium_sentence_30

In 667 BC he founded Byzantium at their location, thus fulfilling the oracle's requirement. Byzantium_sentence_31

It was mainly a trading city due to its location at the Black Sea's only entrance. Byzantium_sentence_32

Byzantium later conquered Chalcedon, across the Bosphorus on the Asiatic side. Byzantium_sentence_33

The city was taken by the Persian Empire at the time of the Scythian campaign (513 BC) of King Darius I (r. 522–486 BC), and was added to the administrative province of Skudra. Byzantium_sentence_34

Though Achaemenid control of the city was never as stable as compared to other cities in Thrace, it was considered, alongside Sestos, to be one of the foremost Achaemenid ports on the European coast of the Bosphorus and the Hellespont. Byzantium_sentence_35

Byzantium was besieged by Greek forces during the Peloponnesian War. Byzantium_sentence_36

As part of Sparta's strategy for cutting off grain supplies to Athens during their siege of Athens, Sparta took control of the city in 411 BC, to bring the Athenians into submission. Byzantium_sentence_37

The Athenian military later retook the city in 408 BC, when the Spartans had withdrawn following their settlement. Byzantium_sentence_38

After siding with Pescennius Niger against the victorious Septimius Severus, the city was besieged by Roman forces and suffered extensive damage in AD 196. Byzantium_sentence_39

Byzantium was rebuilt by Septimius Severus, now emperor, and quickly regained its previous prosperity. Byzantium_sentence_40

It was bound to Perinthus during the period of Septimius Severus. Byzantium_sentence_41

The location of Byzantium attracted Roman Emperor Constantine I who, in AD 330, refounded it as an imperial residence inspired by Rome itself. Byzantium_sentence_42

(See Nova Roma.) Byzantium_sentence_43

After his death the city was called Constantinople (Greek Κωνσταντινούπολις, Konstantinoupolis, "city of Constantine"). Byzantium_sentence_44

This combination of imperialism and location would affect Constantinople's role as the nexus between the continents of Europe and Asia. Byzantium_sentence_45

It was a commercial, cultural, and diplomatic centre. Byzantium_sentence_46

With its strategic position, Constantinople controlled the major trade routes between Asia and Europe, as well as the passage from the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea. Byzantium_sentence_47

On May 29, 1453, the city fell to the Ottoman Turks, and again became the capital of a powerful state, the Ottoman Empire. Byzantium_sentence_48

The Turks called the city "Istanbul" (although it was not officially renamed until 1930); the name derives from "eis-ten-polin" (Greek: "to-the-city"). Byzantium_sentence_49

To this day it remains the largest and most populous city in Turkey, although Ankara is now the national capital. Byzantium_sentence_50

Emblem Byzantium_section_2

Main article: Star and crescent Byzantium_sentence_51

By the late Hellenistic or early Roman period (1st century BC), the star and crescent motif was associated to some degree with Byzantium; even though it became more widely used as the royal emblem of Mithradates VI Eupator (who for a time incorporated the city into his empire). Byzantium_sentence_52

Some Byzantine coins of the 1st century BC and later show the head of Artemis with bow and quiver, and feature a crescent with what appears to be an eight-rayed star on the reverse. Byzantium_sentence_53

According to accounts which vary in some of the details, in 340 BC the Byzantines and their allies the Athenians were under siege by the troops of Philip of Macedon. Byzantium_sentence_54

On a particularly dark and wet night Philip attempted a surprise attack but was thwarted by the appearance of a bright light in the sky. Byzantium_sentence_55

This light is occasionally described by subsequent interpreters as a meteor, sometimes as the moon, and some accounts also mention the barking of dogs. Byzantium_sentence_56

However, the original accounts mention only a bright light in the sky, without specifying the moon. Byzantium_sentence_57

To commemorate the event the Byzantines erected a statue of Hecate lampadephoros (light-bearer or bringer). Byzantium_sentence_58

This story survived in the works of Hesychius of Miletus, who in all probability lived in the time of Justinian I. Byzantium_sentence_59

His works survive only in fragments preserved in Photius and the tenth century lexicographer Suidas. Byzantium_sentence_60

The tale is also related by Stephanus of Byzantium, and Eustathius. Byzantium_sentence_61

Devotion to Hecate was especially favored by the Byzantines for her aid in having protected them from the incursions of Philip of Macedon. Byzantium_sentence_62

Her symbols were the crescent and star, and the walls of her city were her provenance. Byzantium_sentence_63

It is unclear precisely how the symbol Hecate/Artemis, one of many goddesses would have been transferred to the city itself, but it seems likely to have been an effect of being credited with the intervention against Philip and the subsequent honors. Byzantium_sentence_64

This was a common process in ancient Greece, as in Athens where the city was named after Athena in honor of such an intervention in time of war. Byzantium_sentence_65

Cities in the Roman Empire often continued to issue their own coinage. Byzantium_sentence_66

"Of the many themes that were used on local coinage, celestial and astral symbols often appeared, mostly stars or crescent moons." Byzantium_sentence_67

The wide variety of these issues, and the varying explanations for the significance of the star and crescent on Roman coinage precludes their discussion here. Byzantium_sentence_68

It is, however, apparent that by the time of the Romans, coins featuring a star or crescent in some combination were not at all rare. Byzantium_sentence_69

People Byzantium_section_3


See also Byzantium_section_4


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