Comparing and contrasting the roman and byzantine empire

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            When Rome declined, the western half of the empire formed the Byzantine Empire. The eastern half became the Holy Roman Empire. Because the Byzantine Empire came from the fall of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire had many similarities with Rome. In addition to these similarities, there were also several differences between these two empires. This includes culture, religion, and location.  These similarities and differences helped shape the Byzantine Empire into what it became.

            One similarity between these two Empires was the form of entertainment that took place in these cultures. Both the Byzantine Empire and the Roman Empire enjoyed watching gladiator fights at a big stadium. (Rautman) The people of the Roman Empire held these events at the Coliseum. In the Byzantine Empire, there was the Circus Maximus, another stadium. The use of this arena was the same as the Coliseum in Rome. Gladiator fights and chariot races were held here. It is estimated that 50,000 to 350,000 people, or approximately a quarter of the population of the city could fit inside.  It has also been calculated that the arena of the Coliseum would fit 12 times into the Circus Maximus. (Crowther)

            A difference between the Byzantine and Roman Empire was their form of religion. (Salisbury)In Rome the people worshipped Jupiter as the father of all gods. Jupiter and his wife Juno had many children that were also gods. For example, Mars, the god of war was a child of Jupiter.  Mercury, the messenger god was another son of Jupiter and his wife. This meant that Rome was a polytheistic society. They believed in more than one god. The Byzantine Empire, on the other hand, was a monotheistic society. This meant that they believed in only one god. They mainly followed the teachings of Christianity. (Ermatinger)

            In conclusion, the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire were unique in their own was. Both civilizations rose out of fallen cultures. While the Roman Empire rose from the Roman Republic, the Byzantine Empire was established because of the fall of the Roman Empire. Despite these differences, the two cultures had similar aspects in culture, geography, science and technology. Some of these included government, religion, and location. These characteristics helped develop the two great civilizations and influence the world today. 

Works Cited 

Crowther, Nigel B. "Circus Maximus." 2007. ACB-CLIO. 25 March 2013.

Ermatinger, James W. "Growth of Christianity in Ancient Rome." 2013. Daily Life through History. ABC-CLIO. 25 March 2013.

Rautman, Marcus. "Entertainment in the Byzantine Empire." 2013. Daily Life through History. ABC-CLIO. 25 March 2013 .

Salisbury, Joyce E. and Gregory S. Aldrete. "Religious Beliefs in Rome: Ancient World." 2013. ABC-CLIO. 25 March 2013.

Compare and contrast the Eastern and Western halves of the Roman Empire

The ways of the historical development of Eastern and Western empires, after they finally split in 395, were significantly different. While both were ruled by brothers and sons of Theodosius, and in legal theory the idea of a unified empire only controlled by two emperors was preserved, in fact, and politically they were two independent states with their capitals (Ravenna and Constantinople), their imperial courts, with different challenges faced by the governments and, finally, with different socio-economic bases.
In the Eastern Roman Empire, the processes of feudalization retained the features of greater continuity of old social structures, were slower, and maintained a strong central authority of the emperor in Constantinople. Different was the way to the feudal socio-economic system in the West. Its main feature was the weakening of central authority of the Roman Emperor and its destruction as a political superstructure of the slave society, preserving slave orders. Another feature is the gradual formation of independent political entities on the territory of the Empire – the barbarian kingdoms (Cameron, 2011).

The main difference of the Byzantine Empire from the Western Roman Empire was the dominance of Greek culture on its territory. Even its official language was Greek, not Latin. In a sense, it can be viewed almost as a continuation of the Greek empire of Alexander the Macedonian. Also a profound ideological revolution was made in the Eastern Empire: Christianity, which was subjected to persecution in Rome, was declared the state religion during the reign of Constantine. Thus, Constantinople became the capital of the Christian empire. Eastern Roman Empire had few ties with Western Europe, although for a long time it did not recognize the right of Western countries to independence (Cameron, 2011).

Eastern Empire, which later became known as the Byzantine Empire, turned in a feudal state, which could last for a thousand years more until the middle of the 15th century (1453). Quite different was the historical destiny of the Western Roman Empire. The collapse of the slave system within its boundaries proceeded especially stormy, was accompanied by bloody wars, coups, popular uprisings, completely undermining the former might of one of the largest states in the ancient world. It could not defend itself against “barbarians”. Goths, one of the Germanic tribes, came and plundered Rome, and then came the Vandals and Huns. 

One of the reasons for their easy success was probably the fact that the Roman peasantry was suffering badly under the authority of the empire, it was levied with taxes so seriously, and the debts were so great that the peasants were ready to welcome any change. The Eastern Empire not only survived these attacks, but persisted for centuries, despite the constant struggle that it had to wage against the Arabs, and later against the Turks (Cameron, 2011).

Cameron, A. (2011). The Mediterranean World in Late Antiquity: AD 395-700. Routledge.

Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Similarities and Differences

For more than 1,000 years, there was a single monolithic Christian church. Then, in A.D. 1054, the Pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople excommunicated, creating what is called the Great Schism, during which the major Christian church separated into what became known as the Catholic Church in the west and the Orthodox Church in the east. While there are many similarities between the two denominations, in both belief and practice, each has its distinguishing factors.


The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches share many core beliefs regarding Jesus Christ, including his divine and human natures, his virginal birth, his death and subsequent resurrection, and his anticipated return to earth. Both denominations also recognize the teachings expressed in the first seven ecumenical councils.
At the root of the Great Schism between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches was the ways in which the idea of the Trinity was expressed. While the Eastern Orthodox Church emphasized the distinct personhood of each member of the Trinity, the Roman Catholic Church emphasized the Trinity’s unity of essence. This division culminated in the filioque controversy, which was one of the primary theological triggers of the Great Schism. The churches also differed on the perpetual virginity of Mary as well as the nature of original sin.


There are seven sacraments in both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. These include baptism, confirmation, penance, communion, marriage, holy orders and the anointing of the sick. Today, the practice of these sacraments in both churches is nearly identical in form and content.
One observable difference in ritual between the two groups is seen in communion. While the Eastern Orthodox Church uses leavened bread, the Roman Catholic Church uses unleavened bread. Each holds distinct beliefs about communion as well -- the Eastern Orthodox Church believes that Jesus Christ is mystically present in communion, while the Roman Catholic Church believes that the bread and wine are transformed literally, but invisibly, into the body and blood of Jesus Christ.


Both Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox churches use an hierarchical form of church government -- there are several levels of priesthood, including priests, monks, nuns and various levels of bishops. In the Roman Catholic Church, the Bishop of Rome is called the Pope, and he sits atop of the Catholic Church’s organizational hierarchy. Within the Catholic Church, he is considered Christ’s representative as the head of the Catholic Church on earth. The Eastern Orthodox Church is led by patriarchs, and each patriarch is the administrative head over the Orthodox Church in a given geographic region. These patriarchs are considered equals, with none having authority over another. The refusal of the Eastern Orthodox Church to defer to the will of the Bishop of Rome was a primary political factor in the Great Schism.

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