July 15, 2009

Constantinus Porphyrogenitus on inter-ethnic marriage

Constantinus VII was a 10th c. Byzantine Emperor.

Constantinus Porphyrogenitus, De administrando imperio, Ch. 13
Because each nation has different customs and divergent laws and institutions, it must hold its own things, and perform the associations necessary for the continuation of life from the same nation. As every animal mixes with those of the same genus, so has it been established as a just thing for every nation to form marriage partnerships not with people of a different race and language, but of the same genus and speech. Because, herein grows sameness of mind, and intercourse, and friendly discourse, and cohabitation. But different customs and divergent laws give birth rather to dislikes and conflicts and hatreds and civil wars, which do not bring about friendship and intercourse, but enmity and dissent.

ἕκαστον γὰρ ἔθνος διάφορα ἔχον ἔθη καὶ διαλλάττοντας νόμους τε καὶ θεσμοὺς ὀφείλει τὰ οἰκεῖα κρατεῖν καὶ ἀπὸ τοῦ αὐτοῦ ἔθνους τὰς πρὸς ἀνάκρισιν βίου κοινωνίας ποιεῖσθαι καὶ ἐνεργεῖν. ὥσπερ γὰρ ἕκαστον ζῷον μετὰ τῶν ὁμογενῶν τὰς μίξεις ἐργάζεται, οὕτω καὶ ἕκαστον ἔθνος οὐκ εξ ἀλλοφύλων καὶ ἀλλογλώσσων ἀλλ’ ἐκ τῶν ὁμογενῶν τε καὶ ὁμοφώνων τὰ συνοικέσια τῶν γάμων ποιεῖσθαι καθέστηκε δίκαιον. ἐντεῦθεν γὰρ καὶ ἡ πρὸς ἀλλήλους ὁμοφροσύνη καὶ συνομιλία καὶ προσφιλὴς συνδιατριβὴ και συμβίωσις περιγίνεσθαι πέφυκε· τὰ δε ἀλλότρια ἔθη καὶ διαλλάττοντα νόμιμα ἀπεχθείας μᾶλλον καὶ προσκρούσεις καὶ μίση καὶ στάσεις εἴωθεν ἀπογεννᾶν, ἅπερ οὐ φιλίας καὶ κοινωνίας ἀλλ’ ἔχθρας καὶ διαστάσεις φιλεῖ ἀπεργάζεσθαι.

32 comments:

Kepler said...

That is rubbish, specially this: "different customs and divergent laws give birth rather to dislikes and conflicts and hatreds and civil wars, which do not bring about friendship and intercourse, but enmity and dissent."

If anything, it is more the other way around: people who isolate themselves differentiate themselves from others and this in turns creates conflicts with those others.

Dean said...

My relatives told me about the Greek civil war after WWII and about the enmity and dissent, where members of the same family were on opposite sides.

terryt said...

"As every animal mixes with those of the same genus, so has it been established as a just thing for every nation to form marriage partnerships not with people of a different race and language, but of the same genus and speech".

And I was criticised for suggesting different-looking groups of humans were equivalent to subspecies. Here they're called separate genera. That's pretty extreme.

"herein grows sameness of mind, and intercourse, and friendly discourse, and cohabitation".

And ultimately inbreeding, which is not a good thing in general. I've just seen the result in my small flock of poultry.

Dienekes said...

If anything, it is more the other way around: people who isolate themselves differentiate themselves from others and this in turns creates conflicts with those others.

I think this is empirically false. The emergence of ethnically homogeneous states in Europe since WWII has largely coincided with a cessation of war. Wars have continued only in parts of the Balkans and the Caucasus where different ethnic groups have to coincide within a political state.

The ideal system for world peace is a number of nation states each with a dominant ethnic majority.

Dienekes said...

And I was criticised for suggesting different-looking groups of humans were equivalent to subspecies. Here they're called separate genera. That's pretty extreme.

Not using "genus" in the modern biological taxonomic sense.

And ultimately inbreeding, which is not a good thing in general. I've just seen the result in my small flock of poultry.

I think there is a difference between a nation and a small flock of poultry. A moderately-sized nation is in no danger of suffering any adverse effects from inbreeding. And, of course, moderately-sized nations are never completely reproductively isolated, thus, gene flow of potentially new advantageous alleles is not impeded in the long run.

eurologist said...

,think this is empirically false. The emergence of ethnically homogeneous states in Europe since WWII has largely coincided with a cessation of war.

I largely agree that this is true, but for a different reason.

Firstly, recent history has shown that allowing low-level (albeit misguided) nationalism within the context of a greater identity/ cause is both stabilizing and educational.

Secondly, we all know that the genetic make-up of Europeans is very, very similar across the continent, and of no substantial consequence, locally.

Major Tom said...

In latin "Genus" means the whole a group of "Species" with common elements, the text no sermon the isolation but the relationship with people with the same characteristics, that in ancient time were more cultural than biological.

ioannes said...

1 Cain and Abel weren’t exactly lovers, were they?
2 Did Ethnic pride not cause the most heinous crimes of the last century? Were these claims on ethnicity not always based on false premises?
3 Indeed, how Greek are the Greek, Dienekes ?

Dienekes said...

Cain and Abel weren’t exactly lovers, were they?

Yes, but they had different customs, the one being a farmer the other a herdsman. The text has been widely seen (and correctly in my view) as an allegory for discord between settled and pastoral groups of people.

Did Ethnic pride not cause the most heinous crimes of the last century? Were these claims on ethnicity not always based on false premises?

I would say that the most heinous crimes of the last century were made by communists in their attempts to destroy ethnic man and replace him with internationalist-oriented communist man.

Urselius said...

You have to know the history behind the period to understand it.
Constantine was the semi-legitimate heir of Leo the Wise. Leo had married too many times for the clergy to unanimously recognise his late marriage to Constantine's mother. As a child his position was usurped by an admiral, Romanos Lekapenos, who became senior emperor. Romanos forced Constantine to marry his daughter. Eventually, Romanos elevated his own sons to the rank of co-emperor and placed them above Constantine in precedence. Eventually, Romanos's sons revolted against him and had him deposed. However, Constantine was well liked by the populace of Constantinople and he managed to turn on his brothers-in-law and had them deposed in their turn.

This history, of being the son of an emperor, then having a whole bunch of parvenues usurp your rightful inheritance must have informed Constantine's attitude to marriage and exogamy. This is the basis of his writing quoted here.

Also there was at the time a good deal of pressure from westerners for marriage into the Byzantine imperial family. This would obviously pose political difficulties if a half-Byzantine German prince turned up, with an army, and claimed the Byzantine throne. Also the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, and Byzantium had competing claims in Italy, a half-Byzantine prince might claim a legitimate title to the Italian portion of the empire.

Urselius said...

Continued:

At the time this threat was real, a member of the usurper, Romanos Lekapenos's family, Theophano, was sent off and married the Western Emperor Otto II, Their son Otto III, a half-Byzantine who had a high regard for his claims to be universal Roman Emperor of both East and West, was only prevented from becoming a threat to Byzantium by his early death.

Contantine, therefore was also making much about the difference between the offspring of a parvenue admiral who had usurped the throne, and a legitimate Byzantine princess, "born in the purple." He said that Byzantine women could marry foreigners but purple-born princesses could not.

This proved to be a nonsense also as his own grannd-daughter Anna, daughter of Romanos II and sister of Basil II Bulgaroktonos, married Vladimir of Kiev. Vladimir was not only a Russian and a foreigner but had been born a pagan.

Don't read Constantine's writings without knowing why he was writing, his was not a genetic theory, but a political lesson.

ioannes said...

"Yes, but they had different customs, the one being a farmer the other a herdsman."

Striving for ethnic purity and, it appears, uniform customs, is not only a waste of time but also selfdefeating in todays changing world.

"I would say that the most heinous crimes of the last century were made by communists..."

Indeed many heinous crimes were committed in the name of communism too (thanks for reminding): but isn't that the same thing: idealising one group (or system), hurting the rest of the world, for some or other nonsensical reason?


O yes: how Greek are the Greek?

Dienekes said...

Also there was at the time a good deal of pressure from westerners for marriage into the Byzantine imperial family.

Yes, but in the same text, Constantinus makes an exception for marriages between Romans and Franks (a fairly generic term for Western Europeans) while explicitly denying this privilege to the northern nations such as the Rus, the Khazars, and the Bulgars.

His acceptance of the Franks seems to be due to the common religion and long period of relationships with that nation, although religion by itself is not sufficient, as he criticizes a marriage between a Roman and a Christian Bulgar.

A century after his time, the Rus became Christian, and the Franks became separated from the Romans after the Great Schism, so it is important to note that the relativity of Constantinus' advice. We can still appreciate the gist of his message though, that intermarriage between co-ethnics or between friendly ethne is more conducive to harmony.

Dienekes said...

One needs to keep in mind the value of a thing vs. the value of the process that created it.

Take, for example, the magnificent buildings of the ancient past. Most were created by the toil and suffering of slaves or low-paid free workers. Thus, the process that created them was one of suffering, but the end result (the buildings) is good.

Similarly, homogeneous ethnic states were created by some degree of conflict and war -which are bad- but they themselves are more peaceful and stable, and are thus good.

ioannes said...

Could you name one homogeneous ethnic state to proof that it's not just a utopia, or taken the process to create it into account: a bad dream?

terryt said...

"I think there is a difference between a nation and a small flock of poultry".

A lot of similarities as well though.

Caucasian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Caucasian said...

Like Ioannes, I also wanna hear your opinion about how Greek are modern Greek.
As far as I know Ottoman occupation brought lots of Albanians, Slavs and Vlachs on the Greek soil. And they did not vanish after the Greek independence.
So one can assume, that considerable number of modern day Greeks are Greek by language but not by 'blood'.

Ildefonso said...

The point here is: good fences make good neighbours.
Individuals who are different and therefore are not "best friends forever" need not move into the same house. They can have an own house each and avoid the problems of living too closely side by side.
But still they can see each other at work, trade together, and respect common rules. In sum: be good neighbours. Is that soooo horrible?

On top of that, I am sure (that is, completely sure) all the proponents of multiethnic societies and tree-hugging multiculturalism will answer, when asked about the solution to the israeli-palestine problem, answer:
"Palestinians have an absolute right to a state, NOW. Israelis are evil for not giving it to them"
See, only Western white peoples have to share their countries with others. When Europeans go to other countries, it is colonialism, aggression, invasion...
Such are the joys of the leftist-"mind"set... al heart, no reason or consistency.
By the way, Dienekes, your blog is terrific, keep it up!

Ildefonso said...

And to IOANNES (and also others)

My impression is you are trying to prove how super non-racist you are and to hit "supposed" racists in the head with a moral club.

That is why you have to introduce a straw argument/idea like: "idealizing a group and hurting another". Nobody said a thing about that... except you.
And you know why?
Because both the original post and Dienekes´s comments are so non racist and utterly moderate and common-sensical that you could not get the sweet feeling of moral superiority caused by fighting racism without first considering sick ideas nobody here has proposed or advanced.

As to the EMPIRICAL question of whether having different ethnicities sharing a same place and the same limited resources is conducive to peace (an idea that runs counter to anything resembling common sense), Dienekes points to the right idea, one that has been highlighted by Jerry Z. Muller on his essay on ethnonationalism
(google it, it appeared in foreign affaires, I believe)
Only voluntary blindness (for the sake of feeling morally superior) can lead to dismiss such an obvious lesson.

ioannes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kepler said...

Dienekes,

You are trying to make science from a very limited part of history, as if it Europe of the XX century were some kind of reproducible experiment.

I see you think plausible certain events may have to do with randomness (like in the next post on Neanderthal's disappearance) and yet you are given post WWII (or WW1) Europe the value of a scientific experiment.
First of all: the Germans may be now mostly in Germany and the Turks out of Greece and big communities of Jews were wiped out by Nazis and collaborators from most places, but that is about it.
There are Hungarians in Slovakia and Romania, there are lots of Poles in Belarus, there is a lot of everything in Russia (not counting
the republics within Russia's Federation but Russia proper), there are Russians in Estonia, there are Basques in Spain and France, there are Catalans in Spain, Belgium has Germans, Flemish and French speakers, Switzerland German Swiss, French speakers and Italian speakers (well, an a tiny community of R. Romans, but that is too small).

I suppose Canada is being ravaged by war right now...

You cannot do science out of trying to accommodate just the tiny part of history that suits your hypothesis.

Kepler said...

Ildefonso,

I think you are imagining enemies and lobbying groups of this or that when in reality people are saying something completely different. You are fighting giants in the wine cellar.

"all the proponents of multiethnic societies and tree-hugging multiculturalism"
What is that? Who are they?

"Palestinians have an absolute right to a state, NOW. Israelis are evil for not giving it to them"

We are not talking about that here. Why are you bringing up that topic?
Anyway, Palestinians are trying to defend the land where most of them have been living since time immemorial (probably most of them were formerly Jews who converted to Christianity and then Islam, most are not direct descendants of late comers)
Some of them are using illegal methods, like some of the Jewish Israelis. That region is NOT Middle Earth. I think most people know there is more than "evil" versus "goodness"
and not one side is the sole owner of "the truth"

"See, only Western white peoples have to share their countries with others. When Europeans go to other countries, it is colonialism, aggression, invasion..."

Certainly not. Most "Western white people" who arrived in Africa were invited to work as toilet cleaners or construction workers or arrived as political refugees or as economic refugees, whatever. They never wiped out hundreds of thousands of people.
When they arrived to India or to Congo, to North America or to Australia, they did it exactly in the same terms as Arabs now in Europe o subsaharan Africans or whoever to the US and Europe, right?

And whoever thinks differently from you is "left"?
Oh...
I wonder what your background is. Sort of like you feel "your" civilization is under threat.

Dienekes said...

First of all: the Germans may be now mostly in Germany and the Turks out of Greece and big communities of Jews were wiped out by Nazis and collaborators from most places, but that is about it.

That is hardly "it". After the Balkan Wars there was an influx of Greeks fleeing from Bulgarian occupied territories and of Bulgarians fleeing from Greek ones. After WWII, Muslim Albanian Nazi collaborators (the Chams) fled Greece, and shortly thereafter communist Slav secessionists fled to FYROM (much the same people as now think they are "ancient Macedonians"). And, of course, there was mass fleeing of ethnic Germans to Germany from throughout eastern Europe after WWII and until recently, or of Jews into Israel throughout the pos-WWII period.

I will not even begin to cover how things have changed in the former Austro-Hungarian empire. Sure, minorities remain throughout Europe, but there are practically no states in Europe today where a single dominant ethnic group doesn't exist.

Kepler said...

Well, after the Austro Hungarian empire broke apart (WW 1, not2) and Austria joined Germany (1938) it was not like peace came.


Were Greeks non-dominant in Greece before Albanians fled?
(I don't know) Were there more Albanians in Greece back then than non-Greeks in Greece now? Again, I don't know, I am curious.

Why hasn't Canada become torn by war? Or the US, for that matter?

I think the whole issue is too fluffy until you define what a
"single dominant ethnic group"
is.

Dienekes said...

Well, after the Austro Hungarian empire broke apart (WW 1, not2) and Austria joined Germany (1938) it was not like peace came.

"Breaking apart" of an Empire or multi-ethnic state does not automatically redistribute the ethnic elements within it.

Were Greeks non-dominant in Greece before Albanians fled?

Being dominant numerically certainly didn't help Greek Epirots from the Albanian fifth column that collaborated with the Nazis.

Why hasn't Canada become torn by war? Or the US, for that matter?

As I recall, the US was torn by war and this war did have an ethnic dimension as it was a war between Yankees and Southerners as much as it was an ideological conflict over the issue of slavery.

As for Canada, as recently as 1995 the secession of Quebec by referendum was avoided by a very slim margin.

DagoRed said...

Canada always had a movement of rebellion against the British power, even if it wasn't so big. Rebellion were many also in the XIX century.
The austro hungaric empire was a multinational state created with a long genesis from the ashes of the Holy Roman Empire, through a lot of wars of religion, but it became culturally homogeneous and stable. Its dissolution didn't bring a major stability.

Kepler said...

Dienekes,
In spite of all the differences between Southerners and Yankees ethnicity was NOT the issue at play. It was not even slavery but economics. I reckon people from Crete are way more different from people in Athene or these from those in Thessaloniki
than a Yankee back then from a Southerner, ethnically speaking.

Ildefonso said...

Kepler,
thank you for your comments.
The West is not under threat. It is positively bound to perish, which is very different.
Consider:
1.- Whites were 22% of world population a 100 years ago, now they barely are 8% - and falling massively.
2.- The populations of European descent are ageing and slowly becoming a minority in all of Western Europe and the United States (this is not astrology, but demographics, which allows for very accurate predictions).
3.- Not only that. They are also being discriminated against legally in their very own countries - under the doublespeak word of "affirmative action" and "positive discrimination". This is so in the United States (although the Ricci might mark a watershed, which I doubt) and now also in France and the UK. This type of legislation is bound to spread even more.
4.- Adherents of Islam resent the West massively, and they are growing really fast and ensconcing themselves in Europe.

If you can put comparable facts on the table to prove that "our" civilazation(maybe "your" civilization is the Mayan, or Atlantis, for that matter, but mine is the West) is not under threat, do it.
I doubt you will. Instead, you have to create a straw man again, which proves your weakness (I wonder what your background is, you say, probably impliying I am a nazi or something - a discussion is not fun without nazis). It is also funny how you also feel the need to imply that I believe in conspirations, which I do not. Really, man, your arguments are so weak you cannot live without straw men!

Who are "tree hugging multiculturalists"? Easy. You and your ilk, who claim ethincity does not matter and we can all get along without any problems at all. I would not mind if you welcomed foreigners in your own backyard and I was unaffected. The problem is, you probably are European or American, which means we share an environment and *I* will be affected by your one-happy-world-hallucinations, too.

Ildefonso said...

Oh, and thinking ethnicity doesn´t matter and welcoming mass immigration are not leftist views, but prety conservative. Sure.

As to Israel and Palestine,of course you don´t understand why I bring that up. You seem to have dedicated too little thoughts to this kind of issues to understand anything at all, with all due respect. I was not expressing an opinion about the issue itself. In fact, I could not care less about the Middle East.

My point was that everybody can understand perfectly that every people has a right to have a state where they are ethnically dominant (Tibet, Uighurs, Palestine, the myriad of African countries after colonization, the disintegration of the USSR, or even the taking power by indigenous peoples in countries like Bolivia, though it does not involve the creation of a new state - see, I use examples, not straw men/arguments). See how you talk about "Palestine being their ancestral land" and all that. UNLESS that people is of European descent. In that case, they have to share their country, otherwise they are racist evil nazi conspirators.... like... eh... me, ain´t it?

As to colonialism, I do not condone it. But I will not apologize: I was not alive by the time, you know. I do not condone mass immigration today, either. And mind you, I am alive NOW.

And now, gentlemen, please excuse me. I have a meeting with the boys of the Klan.

BO7156 said...

Kepler said:
"I reckon people from Crete are way more different from people in Athene or these from those in Thessaloniki
than a Yankee back then from a Southerner, ethnically speaking."

Not completely true.

The people in Crete and Greece speak the same language and are adherents of the same religion, that was not necessarily true of the soldiers of the American Civil War or War Between States as Southerners term it..

The South was still rural and mostly inhabited by the descendants of the original European English and Scotch Irish settlers.

The rapidly industrializing North had received large amounts of immigrants from Ireland (potato famine, persecution of Catholics) and Germany (Jews and liberal Catholics and Protestants fleeing the oppressive German government.) To this day Germans are the largest single “ethnic” group in the USA; but that will soon change.

According to one source, the union Army had 150,000 Irish and 200,000 German immigrants enlisted in its ranks of 2,000,000 or approximately 17%. The Union Government had s system by which a American born could hire someone, usually an immigrant, to fight for them should they be drafted. Many immigrants and former slaves fought in units that were of ethnic composition. So the war was fought to no small extent by immigrants and former slaves and troops recruited from loyal Southerners, especially if you examine which units did front line duty and who guarded the rear. (this last is statement by a history professor of mine whose hobby was analyzing such things.)

For immigrants to serve is not unusual in the United States; military service is a path to citizenship. In the 1950’s, a draft notice followed my Basque immigrant father’s green card almost in the same post. They needed troops for Korea. He received his citizenship after his service.

The Scotch Irish and Huguenot people of my Mother's family split -- some fought for the South, my great-great-grandfather fought for the North. To this day ill feeling remains at a slight level between the descendants.

So the Southern Army was almost all Scotch Irish and English descent and wither Anglican or Presbyterian; The North had large numbers of Jewish or Catholic/Lutheran German and Catholic Gaelic speakers in their Army.

The Northern and Southern portions of the USA were very different during the 1850s and 1860s and many differences reamin to this day. Much less homogenous than Crete and Greece.

Here is some supporting documentation:

http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/317749.html

Immigration and American diversity, By Donna R. Gabaccia, pg 111, at Google Books

Bolinaga
USCG (RET.)
Glendale, Arizona, USA

Kepler said...

Ildefonso,

Civilizations come and go. If your idea of Western civilization is gone in a few years, too bad for you.

Any news about Palin?

Dienekes,

In the case of Austria: it became as much "German" as it is now, except for the Jews, same as Germany. And the Jews were not the cause of WW2