Hikanatoi – Epic Byzantine Music

Music and vocals by Farya Faraji. The Hikanatoi were an elite section of the Byzantine army based near Constantinople. They were founded in the 9th century and ended in the 11th. Please take note that this isn’t actual Byzantine music, nor does it seek to be–it’s modern “Epic” music which mixes a “film soundtrack” style with Modern Greek musical language to produce an image of Byzantine civilisation, not a reconstructive work. I don’t claim any authenticity with this piece beyond a very general Greek and Byzantine “vibe,” nothing more.

For the pronunciation, I tried doing some research to reproduce the pronunciation of very Late Antiquity to Early Byzantine times–the “x” sound in “pataxadi” would have likely been a mix of “kz” instead of “ks”, and the “ντ” cluster would have been pronounced literally as it is written, as a combination of “n” and “t” pronounced together instead of the modern hard “d” sound that you get in Modern Greek; I won’t vouch for the utter certainty of that claim though, I might have been wrong. A pretty major anachronistic mistake I made however is in the phrase: ἐν Χριστῷ τῷ Θεῷ, πιστός βασιλεὺς καὶ αὐτοκράτωρ Ῥωμαῖων (en Christó tó Theó, pistós vasilèfs kaí aftokrátor Romaíon)–I’ve been delving a little too long into Classical Greek literature and pronunciation, and so my natural reflex was to pronounce “Romaíon” as it “Romayion,” which is how it was pronounced in the Classical era of Socrates and Pericles. I later remembered that this pronunciation was already extinct by the 3rd century A.D, so keep that anachronism in mind, it’s not accurate to any Byzantine era. Also the Latin pronunciation is all over the place, I think I just wasn’t focused enough on that day, so some phrases retain Classical Pronunciation and others use Ecclesiastical.

Transliterated lyrics and translation:

To pataxadi basilis megalus, Alliluia!
(To him who defeated great kings, Aleluiah!)

Roma invicta, Roma aeterna, Roma caput mundi
(Rome undefeated, eternal Rome, Rome capital of the world)

Polataetiton vasileon!
(Many years to the Kings)

Vivat Imperator!
(Long live the Emperor)

In Christ, Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans

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