Definition of Byzantine
- Byzantine art
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
Today, the city that lies on the Bosporus Strait in Turkey is named Istanbul, but it was once known as Constantinople (a name given to it when it became capital of the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire), and in ancient times, it was called Byzantium. Its history is exotic-filled with mystics, wars, and political infighting-and the word Byzantine (from Late Latin Byzantinus, for "native of Byzantium") became synonymous with anything characteristic of the city or empire, from architecture to intrigue. The figurative sense of labyrinthine deviousness first appeared in the late 1930s. It was popularized by its frequent use in reference to the Soviet Union, whose secrecy and despotism were equated by Westerners with what went on in the old Byzantine Empire.
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subject to rapid or unexpected change
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