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A Potted History from the Time of Ancient Rome to the Crimea Now It might seem to be only a matter of academic

interest that the Crimean peninsula was once a part of the Roman Empire. Even so, I submit the somewhat surprising thesis that the present crisis in the Ukraine and the Russian repossession of the Crimean peninsula trace their origins to Roman times. Here goes. For us any talk of the tension between East and West brings the Cold War to mind. In antiquity there was also what we might call a tension between east and west and this emerged during the civil wars that beset Rome during the decades that led up to the establishment of the Principate by Augustus Caesar. In this connection we recall the rivalry between Julius Caesar and Pompey and later between Octavian (later Augustus) and Mark Antony. These conflicts gave rise to a propaganda assault against the East entailing the image of an eastern seductress portrayed most conspicuously by Cleopatra. Even the architecture of the Mausoleum of Augustus carried a propagandist message as this was topped by a tumulus, a mound of earth, in accord with native Italian traditions as opposed to the more sumptuous designs of eastern-style mausolea. A lack of coordination between the western and the eastern halves of the Roman Empire grew apace not so much as a result of military rivalries as of economic and administrative difficulties, all of which culminated in the official division of the Empire under Diocletian at the end of the third century. It was not long after this that Constantine the Great captured Rome, the capital of the Western Empire before becoming the ruler of the Eastern Empire also. His commitment to Christianity led him to establish a new expressly Christian Rome at Byzantium, which received the name of Constantinople, a move which reflected badly on Rome itself, where paganism held sway in the senatorial establishment. To cut a long story short, the divide between the Rome of the West and the new Rome of the East crept into the ecclesiastical domain, a fact that had deep political as well as religious ramifications. After the extinction of the Imperial line in Rome in 476, to all intents and purposes the Pope became the sole figurehead of Catholic Christendom in the West until the coronation of Charlemagne by the Pope in Rome on Christmas Day in 800. Charlemagne was modest enough not to acclaim himself the new Roman emperor that should replace the emperor in Constantinople, adopting more the role of his standard-bearer at the head of Western Christendom. Tensions between the Western and Eastern domains of Christendom surfaced in the form of theological tenets, and in one tenet in particular, the one sometimes referred to as the issue of Filiosque. This expression is tied in with the question as to whether the Holy Spirit proceeded from God the Father and God the Son, or only from God the Father, as the tradition of the Eastern Church maintained. The issue first arose during the contentions between the Catholic Church and Arianism, the form of Christianity adopted by the Visigoths in Spain. Other issues complicated the relations between Rome and Constantinople, such as those surrounding the veneration of religious images, the celibacy of priests, the date of Easter, the use of wafers for the celebration of the Eucharist and others. In combination with an effort

to convert the Khazars from Judaism to Christianity, the famous missionaries Cyril and Methodius evangelized the lands now occupied by the Ukraine and created the cyrillic script as the written medium in which religious documents should be written. As it seems they had the Pope's blessing in this matter the introduction of the cyrillic alphabet represented no slight against Western traditions. However, after the famous comparison of Papal, Byzantine and Islamic liturgies the people of Kiev accepted the Byzantine form of Christianity, the same tradition that was later followed in Moscow. The Great Schism of 1054 ossified the differences between the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox branches of Christianity. . We now take a quantum leap to the battle of Stalingrad , formerly named Tsaritsyn in honour of the Czar in 1589. It became Stalingrad in recognition of Stalin's role in the victory of Tsaritsyn over the Whites in 1919. Stalin evidently much admired Ivan IV, Ivan the Terrible (Grozny), as we can judge from a film he promoted and which Sergei Eisenstein produced depicting Ivan's victories. Ivan adopted the formulation coined by a learned monk to the effect that Moscow was The Third Rome, after ancient Rome and Constantinople. This finds a strange parallel in Hitler's concept of The Third Reich as that which forms a line beginning with the empire of Charlemagne and continued with the foundation of Imperial Germany in 1871 to reach its climax in 1933. The mindset evinced now by President Putin rests in a tradition that sees Western incursions into Russia as some form of crusade. The Russians, according to this analysis, beat back the Poles in the seventeenth century, the Swedes in the eighteenth, Napoleon in the nineteenth and Hitler in the twentieth. In such terms the West can now be seen as having another bash at Moscow and going for Russia's jugular vein in Holy Kiev. Let us proceed with caution.