Deno John Geanakoplos here offers a prodigious collection of source materials on the Byzantine church, society, and civilization (many translated for the first time into English), arranged chronologically and topically, and knit together with an analytical historical commentary. His selections from Byzantine writers as well as from more obscure documents and chronicles in Latin, Arabic, Slavic, Italian, Armenian, and French reflect all the diversity of Byzantine life—the military tactics of the long-invincible cataphract cavalry and the warships armed with Greek fire, the mysticism of Hesychast monks, the duties of imperial officers, the activities of daily life from the Hippodrome and Hagia Sophia to the marketplaces, baths, and brothels. Geanakoplos not only covers the traditional areas of political, ecclesiastical, socioeconomic, administrative, and military life, but also provides a vivid picture of Byzantine culture—education, philosophy, literature, theology, medicine, and science. Of particular interest are the insights into the empire's relations with the Latin West, the Slavs, the Arabs, the Turks, and other neighboring peoples.
Byzantium is much more than a sourcebook. The running commentary reflects the most recent scholarly research in Byzantine studies and places each translated source in its precise historical context. Through the use of both primary sources and commentary, Geanakoplos has represented in all its richness and complexity one of the world's great civilizations. There is no comparable book on Byzantine history and civilization in any language.