Saturday, July 1, 2017

Books: Interview with Historian and Byzantinologist Konstantinos Karatolios



We had the pleasure of interviewing a Greek historian and expert in Byzantine history, who is also a writer, Konstantinos Karatolios. Read more to find out about the fascinating history that he brings to life in his book.

Living in Greece, you’re breathing history. Did your surroundings make you passionate about history?


You can say that. People in Greece love history. It is a topic to be discussed not only by experts but almost by everyone. 


Yes, your country is a live museum, so rich with culture and history. When did you realize you wanted to write and when did you start writing?


I’ve always wanted to write. Writing is about expressing yourself. Whether it is history, literature or just a letter to your beloved one, it can be creative and fun. Of course writing about science has its own rules, but I still enjoy it as much.


I agree. Writing is a wonderful form of expression. What is your favorite quote, and who wrote it?


Τον άρχοντα τριών δει μέμνησθαι: Πρώτον ότι ανθρώπων άρχει. Δεύτερον ότι κατά νόμους άρχει. Τρίτον ότι ουκ αεί άρχει. Αγάθων (Agathon), 450-400 b.c.. It means that those who rule must remember three things. That they rule over people, that they rule according to the law and that they will not rule for ever. I think that if all rulers followed his advice, our world would be a much better place to live in. 




That's for sure. A very interesting quote indeed. Who is your favorite historical figure? Why? 


If I had to choose one I would pick Constantine the Great. He was the founder of Constantinople and one can argue that with him starts Byzantine History as well. So in a way, we can say that he can be used as a symbol for this great civilization. 


That shows that you're totally into Byzantine history. What inspired you to write your book on Greek Fire? How did you research the topic? What is your target audience for the book?

The mystery surrounding this secret weapon and the fame it had gained through history was enough to intrigue me. I love researching Byzantine History, but this was a real challenge. I like working with the sources. I believe that it is the closer we can get to how the Byzantines actually thought. Of course you can’t just ignore what other researchers have wrote on the subject and I certainly didn’t. Although it is a scientific book, it is also written in a way that a wider audience that doesn’t know much about the era can read it too without difficulty.


It's a great book, and well researched. Readers who are familiar with "Game of Thrones" might also take an interesting in finding out more about this interesting topic. Why do you think it’s important to learn history? How do you think history impacts our lives and the world around us?


Everything around us is a product of a historical process. To understand our world is to understand how it has come to be this way. I think that History is a real brain opener.




There's so much we can learn from history. It's always been one of my favorite subjects. If you could choose a historical period to visit as a time traveler, where would you go and why?


I think that you already know the answer. Byzantium would be my target. It would be a chance to know if what we say is true, and I would be able to learn so much more. For now, the only time travel machine we have is called books though.


I'd have guessed this answer. With your extensive knowledge of historical periods and the Byzantine world, do you have plans to write fiction or historical fiction?


That would be nice. Time is always an issue, though. We don’t live long enough to do everything we like.


You could certainly write a very accurate time period fiction book! What are you working on currently and what are your writing plans for the future?


I’m working on a PhD regarding the education of the byzantine princes in the Middle Byzantine period. If we know what and how they learned it we might be able to know more about these future emperors.




It sounds like a fascinating topic. Is there anything else you'd like to share with the readers?


My book on Greek Fire is available in English and in Greek. It will also be available in Spanish and Portuguese soon. I hope it becomes an introduction for more people to get to know Byzantium. 

Congratulations! We wish you sucess with your PhD research and hope you write more books that tell the fascinating history of the Byzantine period.

Don't miss this exciting book. For more information, click on the link below:

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