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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

The Iconoclastic epoch (717-867)

The internal activities of the emperors of the Isaurian dynasty 


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Page 4

It is interesting to note that the Ecloga of Leo and Constantine later formed part of the juridical collections of the orthodox church, especially in Russia. It is found in the printed Russian Kormchaia Kniga, i.e., The Book of Rules or Administrative Code, under the title, The chapters of the wisest Tsar Leo and Constantine, the two faithful emperors. There are other traces of the influence of the Ecloga upon documents of ancient Slavonic legislation.

The Ecloga can hardly be considered an extremely daring innovation, as was claimed by the Greek Byzantinist, Paparrigopoulos, an ardent admirer of the Isaurian emperors. At present, when the principles advanced by the compilers of the Ecloga are accepted by the civil legislation of the most progressive nations, he declared, the hour has finally come to accord esteem to the genius of the men who, a thousand years ago, fought for the inauguration of doctrines which have triumphed only in our own days. These are the comments of an enthusiastic Hellenic patriot, but nevertheless the modern world should recognize the high significance of the Ecloga in initiating a new period in the history of the Graeco-Roman or Byzantine law, a period which lasted until the accession of the Macedonian dynasty, when the Justinian law was restored to its former place but with many essential modifications. The Ecloga of Leo III was intended above all to meet the demands of the living realities of the period.

In connection with the Isaurian dynasty, and especially with the name of Leo III, scholars discuss three other legislative documents: the Rural Code or Farmers Law (νόμος γεωργικός), the Military Code (νόμος στρατιωτικός), and the Rhodian Sea Law (νόμος Ροδίων ναυτικός). Varying versions of these three documents usually appear in numerous surviving manuscripts after the Ecloga or after other juridical works, without indication of the names of the authors or of the time of first publication. Hence to attribute them to one time or another depends upon internal evidence, an evaluation of their contents and language, and comparison with other similar documents.

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