Beer Kingdom
Part 5Byzantinians
"The Roman conquest strengthened the Classical tradition in the Balkans. But with the fall of Western Roman power in the peninsula the cultural influence of Byzantium, as the Eastern Roman Empire came to be called, grew to overwhelming proportions".
"Thus the Balkans-like Russia to the northeast-became part of the world of the Byzantine vision; they cannot be understood unless we make the effort or will to pierce this uncompromising, brilliant, but essentially alien imagination"

"The Byzantine imagination is alien to our own because it is a fusion of two diverse traditions-the Greco-Roman classical and the Eastern-only one of which we in the Western world truly share"

"Byzantine art in its essence is expressionist, antirealist, symbolic. There is no better expression of the long-standing Byzantine contempt for the envelope of flesh which the ascetic tradition of the Eastern Church urges us to despise, than the actual church structures of the Orthodox East.

These are relatively unadorned structures of brick arranged in geometric patterns on the outside, within, they are something else. Once inside these churches, a world of immense richness opens before us. It is not an exaggeration to say that once we enter this world of spirituality, the 500 years of Western art between the Renaissance and the Post-Impressionists of the late 19th century seem almost a willful detour from what is pure, controlled, self-denying and great".

"It is not a culture or an art that encourages individuality. It urges instead a sense of social solidarity".

"In the remote Balkan mountain valleys, these NAMELESS men labored and worked out an honorable destiny. Spurning everything that suggests the facile, tawdry or cheap, they lined for us a world of inner spirit. What they sought to teach us, the world would do well to learn again".

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