Author Archives: Alexander Billinis

Obsessed with traces of lost empires (especially the Byzantine and the Hapsburg), Alexander Billinis self-identifies as an American-Generation-X-Liberal, but with a European’s faith in social democracy. An international banker who's spent much of his career in the Europe of the Financial Crisis, Billinis has most recently lived in Chicago and in Sombor, Serbia, in the multi-ethnic province of Vojvodina. Before that, he lived in the UK and Greece. A bi-national citizen of the United States and Greece, with a facility in several languages, this “Roaming East Roman” has now returned to the United States for the foreseeable future, unearthing his law degree to practice the law; and writing and lecturing on the side. His book, The Eagle has Two Faces: Journeys through Byzantine Europe, is a travelogue of the Balkans, Asia Minor, and Southern Italy. His second book, a novel, Hidden Mosaics: An Aegean Tale, reveals the common heritage of an Aegean littoral now divided up by exclusivist states. Both books are available via and other online vendors.

Unmasked Nostalgia (Best of Hubris)

“As the years have passed for me here, and particularly in fractious 2016, I fear that the age of multiple masks, and luminous, colorful ones, is yielding to that of the mono-mask.”—By Alexander Billinis Roaming East Roman By Alexander Billinis “Three Studies of Isabel Rawsthorne,” by Francis Bacon (1966) CHICAGO Illinois—(Weekly Hubris)—(This column first ran […]

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Thoughts and Prayers for The American Empire

“We started south from Chicago, flanking the Indiana border. When traveling across flat land without bold geographical markers, transitions are subtle but, somewhere in the lower half of Illinois, I felt I was leaving the North and transitioning to a part of the country with a more tribal, blood-and-soil identity. It might have been the […]

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The Brothers Macedonian

“The truth of these ‘Brothers Macedonian’ is that they were products of a unified culture, Byzantine Orthodox but not specifically or exclusively Greek or Slavic. Herein lies the not-so-secret complication of the Macedonian Question, about which the vociferously insecure protest too much on all sides of the conflict. No nation is hermetically sealed, and each […]

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A Tale of Two Jackets

“To be honest, the shopkeeper’s story was as interesting to me as his wares. Between jackets, I inquired as to his origins. He was an ethnic Turk from Yugoslavia, most specifically the Kosovo Province of Serbia. My wife had studied in Kosovo for a semester and the two of them exchanged some nostalgic memories of […]

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The Leigh Fermor Effect

“Reading Leigh Fermor’s exquisite prose, about a variety of subjects that I loved, stirred my own lesser and corporate repressed creative juices. This was a man who, when writing about the ‘long eclipsed’ Turkish legacy in Central Europe, referred to their legacy ‘commemorated here and there by a minaret left in their lost possession like […]

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The “Keeper” of the Peace of Karlowitz

“We had one more stop before leaving for Belgrade. I had to find some tangible connection with the Treaty of Karlowitz. I spoke briefly to the local tourist office, whose guide handed me a map and answered absently that there was a church, called Kapela Mira (Peace Chapel), built on the site where the treaty […]

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The Stamp(s) of History

“In the chaotic aftermath of my father’s death from Alzheimer’s, many family heirlooms were lost to my eldest sister and me. Among the items my father intended for me included several folders and binders of stamps, collected both as a side hobby and as a result of his extensive correspondence to Greece and Cyprus. As […]

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Stolen Figs, Stolen Spuds (Best of WH)

“Turning his sparkling Corfiot eyes my way, he said, ‘Alekaki, row me to the shore,’ grinning as he stripped down to his Fruit-of-the-Loom tank top and same-brand tighty-whities: ‘We’re off to steal figs!’”—Alexander Billinis Roaming East Roman By Alexander Billinis CLEMSON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—First Published on 1/25/2016—I remember it well, particularly on a freezing day […]

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Becksi Skolovano (“Vienna-Schooled”)

“It was an elderly Serbian who said that, in the Sombor of the Hapsburg era, a Becksi Skolovan person spoke German, Hungarian, and Serbian, the better to communicate with his fellow citizens in their native tongues.”—Alexander Billinis Roaming East Roman By Alexander Billinis CHICAGO Illinois (Weekly Hubris)—August 2017—In 2016, my family and I exchanged a […]

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On Bended Knee at Standing Rock

“He has that sense of history that is common among those of us who are graduates of Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. What is uncommon, and heroic, is how he has transmuted that keen feel for history, and responsibility in the light of historical knowledge, into words—and deeds.”—Alexander Billinis Roaming East Roman By Alexander Billinis […]

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