For eleven hundred years there had stood on the
Bosporous a city where the intellect was admired and the learning and
letters of the classical past were studied and preserved. Without the
help of Byzantine commentators and scribes there is little that we would
know today about the literature of ancient Greece.
It was too, a city
whose rulers down the centuries had inspired and encouraged a school of
art unparalleled in human history, an art that arose from an ever
varying blend of the cool cerebral Greek sense of the fitness of things
and a deep religious sense that saw in works of art the incarnation of
the Divine and the sanctification of matter.
It was too,
a great cosmopolitan city where along with merchandise ideas were freely
exchanged and whose citizens saw themselves not as a racial unit but as
the heirs of Greece and Rome, hallowed by the Christian faith.
From: Steven Runciman, The Fall of