Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
William Butler Yeats – Sailing to Byzantium
Well it had to come at sometime. After ‘Byzantine bureaucracy’ and ‘of Byzantine complexity’. Yeats’ poem is probably the best known phrase associated with Byzantium. And for what it is worth I think I will publish the whole poem at some time.
My reason for starting with this is that I plan to make a journey towards Byzantium this year, in fact at the end of this month. I will not be sailing but walking. And due to the constraints of time and the need to turn up to my day job I will not have the time to complete the journey this year.
<I will be walking on a Caravan with some friends from the Via Egnatia Foundation. Our goal is to attempt to rediscover the route of the 2nd Century BC Roman road that ran from the Adriatic to Byzantium, the Via Egnatia. We will be walking from Durres in Albania to Edessa in Greece in weekly legs, and in groups of about 20-30 people plus mules! The beasts will carry our bags and give our expedition the feel of a caravan, just like those that plied their trade along this ancient road.
The road would have been used by Caesar and Pompey, Octavian and Mark Anthony, Constantine himself and numerous other Byzantine Emperors as they fought to defend their Empire. It was the route used by invaders such as the Crusaders, including the infamous Bohemond who was finally defeated by Alexius near Dyrrachium (modern Durres).
I will update you on our plans as the time to depart approaches. If you are interested in joining us you are more than welcome. You have to get yourself to any one of the start/finish points on the schedule. We will have an eclectic group of historians, archaeologists, engineers and normal people from all over Europe. It should be fun, and it will certainly be interesting. Come and join us!