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The difference of religion, involving in this case an entirely different kind of life and different ideals in everything, prevented absorption; and the subject Christians were too valuable an asset as taxpayers to be wiped out by the Arabs. Then the Greek ideal--Hellenism--spread over Asia, Egypt, and westward to Italy. For about three centuries these States attained a perfection in every form of civilization that gives them the first place in the history of Europe.Where a certain degree of Greek consciousness (shown most obviously in the use of the language) prevails, there we may call the people Greeks, more or less so according to the measure of their absorption by Hellas. Himself a Hellenized Macedonian, descended from people whom the old Greeks certainly considered barbarians (though Macedonians seem to have been akin to the Aeolians), his empire spread the Greek ideal and language throughout Asia and Egypt. C.) there was no longer any question of a Greek political nation. It is true that Byzantine civilization was influenced from other sides (from Rome and Asia Minor , for instance); but this would apply to the old Greek ideals too, on which Egypt, Persia, and Asia had their influence; it is the normal process of the development of any civilization to absorb foreign influences gradually, without breaking its own continuity.
The old Greek States covered about the territory included in the modern kingdom and the islands, with colonies around the coast of Asia Minor , Sicily, Southern Italy, Northern Egypt, even Southern Gaul. Only, in this period the centre of gravity has moved from Athens to Constantinople.
The Greeks are a people who appear first in history as separated in various small States, but bound together by a common language, religion and civilization, in the south of the Balkan Peninsula, the islands around, and the coast of Asia Minor opposite.
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