The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Edward Gibbon

Part 2 out of 15

Amantius lost his head; three of his companions, the first
domestics of the palace, were punished either with death or
exile; and their unfortunate candidate for the purple was cast
into a deep dungeon, overwhelmed with stones, and ignominiously
thrown, without burial, into the sea. The ruin of Vitalian was a
work of more difficulty and danger. That Gothic chief had
rendered himself popular by the civil war which he boldly waged
against Anastasius for the defence of the orthodox faith, and
after the conclusion of an advantageous treaty, he still remained
in the neighborhood of Constantinople at the head of a formidable
and victorious army of Barbarians. By the frail security of
oaths, he was tempted to relinquish this advantageous situation,
and to trust his person within the walls of a city, whose
inhabitants, particularly the blue faction, were artfully
incensed against him by the remembrance even of his pious
hostilities. The emperor and his nephew embraced him as the
faithful and worthy champion of the church and state; and
gratefully adorned their favorite with the titles of consul and
general; but in the seventh month of his consulship, Vitalian was
stabbed with seventeen wounds at the royal banquet; ^7 and
Justinian, who inherited the spoil, was accused as the assassin
of a spiritual brother, to whom he had recently pledged his faith
in the participation of the Christian mysteries. ^8 After the
fall of his rival, he was promoted, without any claim of military
service, to the office of master-general of the Eastern armies,
whom it was his duty to lead into the field against the public
enemy. But, in the pursuit of fame, Justinian might have lost
his present dominion over the age and weakness of his uncle; and
instead of acquiring by Scythian or Persian trophies the applause
of his countrymen, ^9 the prudent warrior solicited their favor
in the churches, the circus, and the senate, of Constantinople.
The Catholics were attached to the nephew of Justin, who, between
the Nestorian and Eutychian heresies, trod the narrow path of
inflexible and intolerant orthodoxy. ^10 In the first days of the
new reign, he prompted and gratified the popular enthusiasm
against the memory of the deceased emperor. After a schism of
thirty-four years, he reconciled the proud and angry spirit of
the Roman pontiff, and spread among the Latins a favorable report
of his pious respect for the apostolic see. The thrones of the
East were filled with Catholic bishops, devoted to his interest,
the clergy and the monks were gained by his liberality, and the
people were taught to pray for their future sovereign, the hope
and pillar of the true religion. The magnificence of Justinian
was displayed in the superior pomp of his public spectacles, an
object not less sacred and important in the eyes of the multitude
than the creed of Nice or Chalcedon: the expense of his
consulship was esteemed at two hundred and twenty-eight thousand
pieces of gold; twenty lions, and thirty leopards, were produced
at the same time in the amphitheatre, and a numerous train of
horses, with their rich trappings, was bestowed as an
extraordinary gift on the victorious charioteers of the circus.
While he indulged the people of Constantinople, and received the
addresses of foreign kings, the nephew of Justin assiduously
cultivated the friendship of the senate. That venerable name
seemed to qualify its members to declare the sense of the nation,
and to regulate the succession of the Imperial throne: the feeble
Anastasius had permitted the vigor of government to degenerate
into the form or substance of an aristocracy; and the military
officers who had obtained the senatorial rank were followed by
their domestic guards, a band of veterans, whose arms or
acclamations might fix in a tumultuous moment the diadem of the
East. The treasures of the state were lavished to procure the
voices of the senators, and their unanimous wish, that he would
be pleased to adopt Justinian for his colleague, was communicated
to the emperor. But this request, which too clearly admonished
him of his approaching end, was unwelcome to the jealous temper
of an aged monarch, desirous to retain the power which he was
incapable of exercising; and Justin, holding his purple with both
his hands, advised them to prefer, since an election was so
profitable, some older candidate. Not withstanding this
reproach, the senate proceeded to decorate Justinian with the
royal epithet of nobilissimus; and their decree was ratified by
the affection or the fears of his uncle. After some time the
languor of mind and body, to which he was reduced by an incurable
wound in his thigh, indispensably required the aid of a guardian.
He summoned the patriarch and senators; and in their presence
solemnly placed the diadem on the head of his nephew, who was
conducted from the palace to the circus, and saluted by the loud
and joyful applause of the people. The life of Justin was
prolonged about four months; but from the instant of this
ceremony, he was considered as dead to the empire, which
acknowledged Justinian, in the forty-fifth year of his age, for
the lawful sovereign of the East. ^11

[Footnote 6: Manichaean signifies Eutychian. Hear the furious
acclamations of Constantinople and Tyre, the former no more than
six days after the decease of Anastasius. They produced, the
latter applauded, the eunuch's death, (Baronius, A.D. 518, P. ii.
No. 15. Fleury, Hist Eccles. tom. vii. p. 200, 205, from the
Councils, tom. v. p. 182, 207.)]

[Footnote 7: His power, character, and intentions, are perfectly
explained by the court de Buat, (tom. ix. p. 54 - 81.) He was
great-grandson of Aspar, hereditary prince in the Lesser Scythia,
and count of the Gothic foederati of Thrace. The Bessi, whom he
could influence, are the minor Goths of Jornandes, (c. 51.)]

[Footnote 8: Justiniani patricii factione dicitur interfectus
fuisse, (Victor Tu nunensis, Chron. in Thesaur. Temp. Scaliger,
P. ii. p. 7.) Procopius (Anecdot. c. 7) styles him a tyrant, but
acknowledges something which is well explained by Alemannus.]

[Footnote 9: In his earliest youth (plane adolescens) he had
passed some time as a hostage with Theodoric. For this curious
fact, Alemannus (ad Procop. Anecdot. c. 9, p. 34, of the first
edition) quotes a Ms. history of Justinian, by his preceptor
Theophilus. Ludewig (p. 143) wishes to make him a soldier.]
[Footnote 10: The ecclesiastical history of Justinian will be
shown hereafter. See Baronius, A.D. 518 - 521, and the copious
article Justinianas in the index to the viith volume of his

[Footnote 11: The reign of the elder Justin may be found in the
three Chronicles of Marcellinus, Victor, and John Malala, (tom.
ii. p. 130 - 150,) the last of whom (in spite of Hody, Prolegom.
No. 14, 39, edit. Oxon.) lived soon after Justinian, (Jortin's
Remarks, &c., vol. iv p. 383:) in the Ecclesiastical History of
Evagrius, (l. iv. c. 1, 2, 3, 9,) and the Excerpta of Theodorus
Lector, (No. 37,) and in Cedrenus, (p. 362 - 366,) and Zonaras,
(l. xiv. p. 58 - 61,) who may pass for an original.

Note: Dindorf, in his preface to the new edition of Malala,
p. vi., concurs with this opinion of Gibbon, which was also that
of Reiske, as to the age of the chronicler. - M.]

From his elevation to his death, Justinian governed the
Roman empire thirty-eight years, seven months, and thirteen days.

The events of his reign, which excite our curious attention by
their number, variety, and importance, are diligently related by
the secretary of Belisarius, a rhetorician, whom eloquence had
promoted to the rank of senator and praefect of Constantinople.
According to the vicissitudes of courage or servitude, of favor
or disgrace, Procopius ^12 successively composed the history, the
panegyric, and the satire of his own times. The eight books of
the Persian, Vandalic, and Gothic wars, ^13 which are continued
in the five books of Agathias, deserve our esteem as a laborious
and successful imitation of the Attic, or at least of the
Asiatic, writers of ancient Greece. His facts are collected from
the personal experience and free conversation of a soldier, a
statesman, and a traveller; his style continually aspires, and
often attains, to the merit of strength and elegance; his
reflections, more especially in the speeches, which he too
frequently inserts, contain a rich fund of political knowledge;
and the historian, excited by the generous ambition of pleasing
and instructing posterity, appears to disdain the prejudices of
the people, and the flattery of courts. The writings of
Procopius ^14 were read and applauded by his contemporaries: ^15
but, although he respectfully laid them at the foot of the
throne, the pride of Justinian must have been wounded by the
praise of a hero, who perpetually eclipses the glory of his
inactive sovereign. The conscious dignity of independence was
subdued by the hopes and fears of a slave; and the secretary of
Belisarius labored for pardon and reward in the six books of the
Imperial edifices. He had dexterously chosen a subject of
apparent splendor, in which he could loudly celebrate the genius,
the magnificence, and the piety of a prince, who, both as a
conqueror and legislator, had surpassed the puerile virtues of
Themistocles and Cyrus. ^16 Disappointment might urge the
flatterer to secret revenge; and the first glance of favor might
again tempt him to suspend and suppress a libel, ^17 in which the
Roman Cyrus is degraded into an odious and contemptible tyrant,
in which both the emperor and his consort Theodora are seriously
represented as two daemons, who had assumed a human form for the
destruction of mankind. ^18 Such base inconsistency must
doubtless sully the reputation, and detract from the credit, of
Procopius: yet, after the venom of his malignity has been
suffered to exhale, the residue of the anecdotes, even the most
disgraceful facts, some of which had been tenderly hinted in his
public history, are established by their internal evidence, or
the authentic monuments of the times. ^19 ^* From these various
materials, I shall now proceed to describe the reign of
Justinian, which will deserve and occupy an ample space. The
present chapter will explain the elevation and character of
Theodora, the factions of the circus, and the peaceful
administration of the sovereign of the East. In the three
succeeding chapters, I shall relate the wars of Justinian, which
achieved the conquest of Africa and Italy; and I shall follow the
victories of Belisarius and Narses, without disguising the vanity
of their triumphs, or the hostile virtue of the Persian and
Gothic heroes. The series of this and the following volume will
embrace the jurisprudence and theology of the emperor; the
controversies and sects which still divide the Oriental church;
the reformation of the Roman law which is obeyed or respected by
the nations of modern Europe.
[Footnote 12: See the characters of Procopius and Agathias in La
Mothe le Vayer, (tom. viii. p. 144 - 174,) Vossius, (de
Historicis Graecis, l. ii. c. 22,) and Fabricius, (Bibliot.
Graec. l. v. c. 5, tom. vi. p. 248 - 278.) Their religion, an
honorable problem, betrays occasional conformity, with a secret
attachment to Paganism and Philosophy.]

[Footnote 13: In the seven first books, two Persic, two Vandalic,
and three Gothic, Procopius has borrowed from Appian the division
of provinces and wars: the viiith book, though it bears the name
of Gothic, is a miscellaneous and general supplement down to the
spring of the year 553, from whence it is continued by Agathias
till 559, (Pagi, Critica, A.D. 579, No. 5.)]
[Footnote 14: The literary fate of Procopius has been somewhat
1. His book de Bello Gothico were stolen by Leonard Aretin,
and published (Fulginii, 1470, Venet. 1471, apud Janson.
Mattaire, Annal Typograph. tom. i. edit. posterior, p. 290, 304,
279, 299,) in his own name, (see Vossius de Hist. Lat. l. iii. c.
5, and the feeble defence of the Venice Giornale de Letterati,
tom. xix. p. 207.)

2. His works were mutilated by the first Latin translators,
Christopher Persona, (Giornale, tom. xix. p. 340 - 348,) and
Raphael de Volaterra, (Huet, de Claris Interpretibus, p. 166,)
who did not even consult the Ms. of the Vatican library, of which
they were praefects, (Aleman. in Praefat Anecdot.)
3. The Greek text was not printed till 1607, by Hoeschelius
of Augsburg, (Dictionnaire de Bayle, tom. ii. p. 782.)

4. The Paris edition was imperfectly executed by Claude
Maltret, a Jesuit of Toulouse, (in 1663,) far distant from the
Louvre press and the Vatican Ms., from which, however, he
obtained some supplements. His promised commentaries, &c., have
never appeared. The Agathias of Leyden (1594) has been wisely
reprinted by the Paris editor, with the Latin version of
Bonaventura Vulcanius, a learned interpreter, (Huet, p. 176.)

Note: Procopius forms a part of the new Byzantine collection
under the superintendence of Dindorf. - M.]

[Footnote 15: Agathias in Praefat. p. 7, 8, l. iv. p. 137.
Evagrius, l. iv. c. 12. See likewise Photius, cod. lxiii. p.

[Footnote 16: Says, he, Praefat. ad l. de Edificiis is no more
than a pun! In these five books, Procopius affects a Christian
as well as a courtly style.]
[Footnote 17: Procopius discloses himself, (Praefat. ad Anecdot.
c. 1, 2, 5,) and the anecdotes are reckoned as the ninth book by
Suidas, (tom. iii. p. 186, edit. Kuster.) The silence of Evagrius
is a poor objection. Baronius (A.D. 548, No. 24) regrets the
loss of this secret history: it was then in the Vatican library,
in his own custody, and was first published sixteen years after
his death, with the learned, but partial notes of Nicholas
Alemannus, (Lugd. 1623.)]

[Footnote 18: Justinian an ass - the perfect likeness of Domitian
- Anecdot. c. 8. - Theodora's lovers driven from her bed by rival
daemons - her marriage foretold with a great daemon - a monk saw
the prince of the daemons, instead of Justinian, on the throne -
the servants who watched beheld a face without features, a body
walking without a head, &c., &c. Procopius declares his own and
his friends' belief in these diabolical stories, (c. 12.)]
[Footnote 19: Montesquieu (Considerations sur la Grandeur et la
Decadence des Romains, c. xx.) gives credit to these anecdotes,
as connected, 1. with the weakness of the empire, and, 2. with
the instability of Justinian's laws.]
[Footnote *: The Anecdota of Procopius, compared with the former
works of the same author, appear to me the basest and most
disgraceful work in literature. The wars, which he has described
in the former volumes as glorious or necessary, are become
unprofitable and wanton massacres; the buildings which he
celebrated, as raised to the immortal honor of the great emperor,
and his admirable queen, either as magnificent embellishments of
the city, or useful fortifications for the defence of the
frontier, are become works of vain prodigality and useless
ostentation. I doubt whether Gibbon has made sufficient
allowance for the "malignity" of the Anecdota; at all events, the
extreme and disgusting profligacy of Theodora's early life rests
entirely on this viratent libel - M.]

I. In the exercise of supreme power, the first act of
Justinian was to divide it with the woman whom he loved, the
famous Theodora, ^20 whose strange elevation cannot be applauded
as the triumph of female virtue. Under the reign of Anastasius,
the care of the wild beasts maintained by the green faction at
Constantinople was intrusted to Acacius, a native of the Isle of
Cyprus, who, from his employment, was surnamed the master of the
bears. This honorable office was given after his death to
another candidate, notwithstanding the diligence of his widow,
who had already provided a husband and a successor. Acacius had
left three daughters, Comito, ^21 Theodora, and Anastasia, the
eldest of whom did not then exceed the age of seven years. On a
solemn festival, these helpless orphans were sent by their
distressed and indignant mother, in the garb of suppliants, into
the midst of the theatre: the green faction received them with
contempt, the blues with compassion; and this difference, which
sunk deep into the mind of Theodora, was felt long afterwards in
the administration of the empire. As they improved in age and
beauty, the three sisters were successively devoted to the public
and private pleasures of the Byzantine people: and Theodora,
after following Comito on the stage, in the dress of a slave,
with a stool on her head, was at length permitted to exercise her
independent talents. She neither danced, nor sung, nor played on
the flute; her skill was confined to the pantomime arts; she
excelled in buffoon characters, and as often as the comedian
swelled her cheeks, and complained with a ridiculous tone and
gesture of the blows that were inflicted, the whole theatre of
Constantinople resounded with laughter and applause. The beauty
of Theodora ^22 was the subject of more flattering praise, and
the source of more exquisite delight. Her features were delicate
and regular; her complexion, though somewhat pale, was tinged
with a natural color; every sensation was instantly expressed by
the vivacity of her eyes; her easy motions displayed the graces
of a small but elegant figure; and either love or adulation might
proclaim, that painting and poetry were incapable of delineating
the matchless excellence of her form. But this form was degraded
by the facility with which it was exposed to the public eye, and
prostituted to licentious desire. Her venal charms were
abandoned to a promiscuous crowd of citizens and strangers of
every rank, and of every profession: the fortunate lover who had
been promised a night of enjoyment, was often driven from her bed
by a stronger or more wealthy favorite; and when she passed
through the streets, her presence was avoided by all who wished
to escape either the scandal or the temptation. The satirical
historian has not blushed ^23 to describe the naked scenes which
Theodora was not ashamed to exhibit in the theatre. ^24 After
exhausting the arts of sensual pleasure, ^25 she most
ungratefully murmured against the parsimony of Nature; ^26 but
her murmurs, her pleasures, and her arts, must be veiled in the
obscurity of a learned language. After reigning for some time,
the delight and contempt of the capital, she condescended to
accompany Ecebolus, a native of Tyre, who had obtained the
government of the African Pentapolis. But this union was frail
and transient; Ecebolus soon rejected an expensive or faithless
concubine; she was reduced at Alexandria to extreme distress; and
in her laborious return to Constantinople, every city of the East
admired and enjoyed the fair Cyprian, whose merit appeared to
justify her descent from the peculiar island of Venus. The vague
commerce of Theodora, and the most detestable precautions,
preserved her from the danger which she feared; yet once, and
once only, she became a mother. The infant was saved and
educated in Arabia, by his father, who imparted to him on his
death-bed, that he was the son of an empress. Filled with
ambitious hopes, the unsuspecting youth immediately hastened to
the palace of Constantinople, and was admitted to the presence of
his mother. As he was never more seen, even after the decease of
Theodora, she deserves the foul imputation of extinguishing with
his life a secret so offensive to her Imperial virtue.

[Footnote 20: For the life and manners of the empress Theodora
see the Anecdotes; more especially c. 1 - 5, 9, 10 - 15, 16, 17,
with the learned notes of Alemannus - a reference which is always
[Footnote 21: Comito was afterwards married to Sittas, duke of
Armenia, the father, perhaps, at least she might be the mother,
of the empress Sophia. Two nephews of Theodora may be the sons of
Anastasia, (Aleman. p. 30, 31.)]
[Footnote 22: Her statute was raised at Constantinople, on a
porphyry column. See Procopius, (de Edif. l. i. c. 11,) who gives
her portrait in the Anecdotes, (c. 10.) Aleman. (p. 47) produces
one from a Mosaic at Ravenna, loaded with pearls and jewels, and
yet handsome.]

[Footnote 23: A fragment of the Anecdotes, (c. 9,) somewhat too
naked, was suppressed by Alemannus, though extant in the Vatican
Ms.; nor has the defect been supplied in the Paris or Venice
editions. La Mothe le Vayer (tom. viii. p. 155) gave the first
hint of this curious and genuine passage, (Jortin's Remarks, vol.
iv. p. 366,) which he had received from Rome, and it has been
since published in the Menagiana (tom. iii. p. 254 - 259) with a
Latin version.]

[Footnote 24: After the mention of a narrow girdle, (as none
could appear stark naked in the theatre,) Procopius thus
proceeds. I have heard that a learned prelate, now deceased, was
fond of quoting this passage in conversation.]

[Footnote 25: Theodora surpassed the Crispa of Ausonius, (Epigram
lxxi.,) who imitated the capitalis luxus of the females of Nola.
See Quintilian Institut. viii. 6, and Torrentius ad Horat.
Sermon. l. i. sat. 2, v. 101. At a memorable supper, thirty
slaves waited round the table ten young men feasted with
Theodora. Her charity was universal.

Et lassata viris, necdum satiata, recessit.]

[Footnote 26: She wished for a fourth altar, on which she might
pour libations to the god of love.]

[Footnote *: Gibbon should have remembered the axiom which he
quotes in another piece, scelera ostendi oportet dum puniantur
abscondi flagitia. - M.]
In the most abject state of her fortune, and reputation,
some vision, either of sleep or of fancy, had whispered to
Theodora the pleasing assurance that she was destined to become
the spouse of a potent monarch. Conscious of her approaching
greatness, she returned from Paphlagonia to Constantinople;
assumed, like a skilful actress, a more decent character;
relieved her poverty by the laudable industry of spinning wool;
and affected a life of chastity and solitude in a small house,
which she afterwards changed into a magnificent temple. ^27 Her
beauty, assisted by art or accident, soon attracted, captivated,
and fixed, the patrician Justinian, who already reigned with
absolute sway under the name of his uncle. Perhaps she contrived
to enhance the value of a gift which she had so often lavished on
the meanest of mankind; perhaps she inflamed, at first by modest
delays, and at last by sensual allurements, the desires of a
lover, who, from nature or devotion, was addicted to long vigils
and abstemious diet. When his first transports had subsided, she
still maintained the same ascendant over his mind, by the more
solid merit of temper and understanding. Justinian delighted to
ennoble and enrich the object of his affection; the treasures of
the East were poured at her feet, and the nephew of Justin was
determined, perhaps by religious scruples, to bestow on his
concubine the sacred and legal character of a wife. But the laws
of Rome expressly prohibited the marriage of a senator with any
female who had been dishonored by a servile origin or theatrical
profession: the empress Lupicina, or Euphemia, a Barbarian of
rustic manners, but of irreproachable virtue, refused to accept a
prostitute for her niece; and even Vigilantia, the superstitious
mother of Justinian, though she acknowledged the wit and beauty
of Theodora, was seriously apprehensive, lest the levity and
arrogance of that artful paramour might corrupt the piety and
happiness of her son. These obstacles were removed by the
inflexible constancy of Justinian. He patiently expected the
death of the empress; he despised the tears of his mother, who
soon sunk under the weight of her affliction; and a law was
promulgated in the name of the emperor Justin, which abolished
the rigid jurisprudence of antiquity. A glorious repentance (the
words of the edict) was left open for the unhappy females who had
prostituted their persons on the theatre, and they were permitted
to contract a legal union with the most illustrious of the
Romans. ^28 This indulgence was speedily followed by the solemn
nuptials of Justinian and Theodora; her dignity was gradually
exalted with that of her lover, and, as soon as Justin had
invested his nephew with the purple, the patriarch of
Constantinople placed the diadem on the heads of the emperor and
empress of the East. But the usual honors which the severity of
Roman manners had allowed to the wives of princes, could not
satisfy either the ambition of Theodora or the fondness of
Justinian. He seated her on the throne as an equal and
independent colleague in the sovereignty of the empire, and an
oath of allegiance was imposed on the governors of the provinces
in the joint names of Justinian and Theodora. ^29 The Eastern
world fell prostrate before the genius and fortune of the
daughter of Acacius. The prostitute who, in the presence of
innumerable spectators, had polluted the theatre of
Constantinople, was adored as a queen in the same city, by grave
magistrates, orthodox bishops, victorious generals, and captive
monarchs. ^30
[Footnote 27: Anonym. de Antiquitat. C. P. l. iii. 132, in
Banduri Imperium Orient. tom. i. p. 48. Ludewig (p. 154) argues
sensibly that Theodora would not have immortalized a brothel: but
I apply this fact to her second and chaster residence at

[Footnote 28: See the old law in Justinian's Code, (l. v. tit. v.
leg. 7, tit. xxvii. leg. 1,) under the years 336 and 454. The
new edict (about the year 521 or 522, Aleman. p. 38, 96) very
awkwardly repeals no more than the clause of mulieres scenicoe,
libertinae, tabernariae. See the novels 89 and 117, and a Greek
rescript from Justinian to the bishops, (Aleman. p. 41.)]
[Footnote 29: I swear by the Father, &c., by the Virgin Mary, by
the four Gospels, quae in manibus teneo, and by the Holy
Archangels Michael and Gabriel, puram conscientiam germanumque
servitium me servaturum, sacratissimis DDNN. Justiniano et
Theodorae conjugi ejus, (Novell. viii. tit. 3.) Would the oath
have been binding in favor of the widow? Communes tituli et
triumphi, &c., (Aleman. p. 47, 48.)]

[Footnote 30: "Let greatness own her, and she's mean no more,"
&c. Without Warburton's critical telescope, I should never have
seen, in this general picture of triumphant vice, any personal
allusion to Theodora.]

Chapter XL: Reign Of Justinian.

Part II.

Those who believe that the female mind is totally depraved
by the loss of chastity, will eagerly listen to all the
invectives of private envy, or popular resentment which have
dissembled the virtues of Theodora, exaggerated her vices, and
condemned with rigor the venal or voluntary sins of the youthful
harlot. From a motive of shame, or contempt, she often declined
the servile homage of the multitude, escaped from the odious
light of the capital, and passed the greatest part of the year in
the palaces and gardens which were pleasantly seated on the
sea-coast of the Propontis and the Bosphorus. Her private hours
were devoted to the prudent as well as grateful care of her
beauty, the luxury of the bath and table, and the long slumber of
the evening and the morning. Her secret apartments were occupied
by the favorite women and eunuchs, whose interests and passions
she indulged at the expense of justice; the most illustrious
person ages of the state were crowded into a dark and sultry
antechamber, and when at last, after tedious attendance, they
were admitted to kiss the feet of Theodora, they experienced, as
her humor might suggest, the silent arrogance of an empress, or
the capricious levity of a comedian. Her rapacious avarice to
accumulate an immense treasure, may be excused by the
apprehension of her husband's death, which could leave no
alternative between ruin and the throne; and fear as well as
ambition might exasperate Theodora against two generals, who,
during the malady of the emperor, had rashly declared that they
were not disposed to acquiesce in the choice of the capital. But
the reproach of cruelty, so repugnant even to her softer vices,
has left an indelible stain on the memory of Theodora. Her
numerous spies observed, and zealously reported, every action, or
word, or look, injurious to their royal mistress. Whomsoever they
accused were cast into her peculiar prisons, ^31 inaccessible to
the inquiries of justice; and it was rumored, that the torture of
the rack, or scourge, had been inflicted in the presence of the
female tyrant, insensible to the voice of prayer or of pity. ^32
Some of these unhappy victims perished in deep, unwholesome
dungeons, while others were permitted, after the loss of their
limbs, their reason, or their fortunes, to appear in the world,
the living monuments of her vengeance, which was commonly
extended to the children of those whom she had suspected or
injured. The senator or bishop, whose death or exile Theodora
had pronounced, was delivered to a trusty messenger, and his
diligence was quickened by a menace from her own mouth. "If you
fail in the execution of my commands, I swear by Him who liveth
forever, that your skin shall be flayed from your body." ^33

[Footnote 31: Her prisons, a labyrinth, a Tartarus, (Anecdot. c.
4,) were under the palace. Darkness is propitious to cruelty,
but it is likewise favorable to calumny and fiction.]

[Footnote 32: A more jocular whipping was inflicted on
Saturninus, for presuming to say that his wife, a favorite of the
empress, had not been found. (Anecdot. c. 17.)]

[Footnote 33: Per viventem in saecula excoriari te faciam.
Anastasius de Vitis Pont. Roman. in Vigilio, p. 40.]

If the creed of Theodora had not been tainted with heresy,
her exemplary devotion might have atoned, in the opinion of her
contemporaries, for pride, avarice, and cruelty. But, if she
employed her influence to assuage the intolerant fury of the
emperor, the present age will allow some merit to her religion,
and much indulgence to her speculative errors. ^34 The name of
Theodora was introduced, with equal honor, in all the pious and
charitable foundations of Justinian; and the most benevolent
institution of his reign may be ascribed to the sympathy of the
empress for her less fortunate sisters, who had been seduced or
compelled to embrace the trade of prostitution. A palace, on the
Asiatic side of the Bosphorus, was converted into a stately and
spacious monastery, and a liberal maintenance was assigned to
five hundred women, who had been collected from the streets and
brothels of Constantinople. In this safe and holy retreat, they
were devoted to perpetual confinement; and the despair of some,
who threw themselves headlong into the sea, was lost in the
gratitude of the penitents, who had been delivered from sin and
misery by their generous benefactress. ^35 The prudence of
Theodora is celebrated by Justinian himself; and his laws are
attributed to the sage counsels of his most reverend wife whom he
had received as the gift of the Deity. ^36 Her courage was
displayed amidst the tumult of the people and the terrors of the
court. Her chastity, from the moment of her union with
Justinian, is founded on the silence of her implacable enemies;
and although the daughter of Acacius might be satiated with love,
yet some applause is due to the firmness of a mind which could
sacrifice pleasure and habit to the stronger sense either of duty
or interest. The wishes and prayers of Theodora could never
obtain the blessing of a lawful son, and she buried an infant
daughter, the sole offspring of her marriage. ^37 Notwithstanding
this disappointment, her dominion was permanent and absolute; she
preserved, by art or merit, the affections of Justinian; and
their seeming dissensions were always fatal to the courtiers who
believed them to be sincere. Perhaps her health had been
impaired by the licentiousness of her youth; but it was always
delicate, and she was directed by her physicians to use the
Pythian warm baths. In this journey, the empress was followed by
the Praetorian praefect, the great treasurer, several counts and
patricians, and a splendid train of four thousand attendants: the
highways were repaired at her approach; a palace was erected for
her reception; and as she passed through Bithynia, she
distributed liberal alms to the churches, the monasteries, and
the hospitals, that they might implore Heaven for the restoration
of her health. ^38 At length, in the twenty-fourth year of her
marriage, and the twenty-second of her reign, she was consumed by
a cancer; ^39 and the irreparable loss was deplored by her
husband, who, in the room of a theatrical prostitute, might have
selected the purest and most noble virgin of the East. ^40

[Footnote 34: Ludewig, p. 161 - 166. I give him credit for the
charitable attempt, although he hath not much charity in his
[Footnote 35: Compare the anecdotes (c. 17) with the Edifices (l.
i. c. 9) - how differently may the same fact be stated! John
Malala (tom. ii. p. 174, 175) observes, that on this, or a
similar occasion, she released and clothed the girls whom she had
purchased from the stews at five aurei apiece.]
[Footnote 36: Novel. viii. 1. An allusion to Theodora. Her
enemies read the name Daemonodora, (Aleman. p. 66.)]

[Footnote 37: St. Sabas refused to pray for a son of Theodora,
lest he should prove a heretic worse than Anastasius himself,
(Cyril in Vit. St. Sabae, apud Aleman. p. 70, 109.)]

[Footnote 38: See John Malala, tom. ii. p. 174. Theophanes, p.
158. Procopius de Edific. l. v. c. 3.]

[Footnote 39: Theodora Chalcedonensis synodi inimica canceris
plaga toto corpore perfusa vitam prodigiose finivit, (Victor
Tununensis in Chron.) On such occasions, an orthodox mind is
steeled against pity. Alemannus (p. 12, 13) understands of
Theophanes as civil language, which does not imply either piety
or repentance; yet two years after her death, St. Theodora is
celebrated by Paul Silentiarius, (in proem. v. 58 - 62.)]

[Footnote 40: As she persecuted the popes, and rejected a
council, Baronius exhausts the names of Eve, Dalila, Herodias,
&c.; after which he has recourse to his infernal dictionary:
civis inferni - alumna daemonum - satanico agitata spiritu -
oestro percita diabolico, &c., &c., (A.D. 548, No. 24.)]
II. A material difference may be observed in the games of
antiquity: the most eminent of the Greeks were actors, the Romans
were merely spectators. The Olympic stadium was open to wealth,
merit, and ambition; and if the candidates could depend on their
personal skill and activity, they might pursue the footsteps of
Diomede and Menelaus, and conduct their own horses in the rapid
career. ^41 Ten, twenty, forty chariots were allowed to start at
the same instant; a crown of leaves was the reward of the victor;
and his fame, with that of his family and country, was chanted in
lyric strains more durable than monuments of brass and marble.
But a senator, or even a citizen, conscious of his dignity, would
have blushed to expose his person, or his horses, in the circus
of Rome. The games were exhibited at the expense of the
republic, the magistrates, or the emperors: but the reins were
abandoned to servile hands; and if the profits of a favorite
charioteer sometimes exceeded those of an advocate, they must be
considered as the effects of popular extravagance, and the high
wages of a disgraceful profession. The race, in its first
institution, was a simple contest of two chariots, whose drivers
were distinguished by white and red liveries: two additional
colors, a light green, and a caerulean blue, were afterwards
introduced; and as the races were repeated twenty-five times, one
hundred chariots contributed in the same day to the pomp of the
circus. The four factions soon acquired a legal establishment,
and a mysterious origin, and their fanciful colors were derived
from the various appearances of nature in the four seasons of the
year; the red dogstar of summer, the snows of winter, the deep
shades of autumn, and the cheerful verdure of the spring. ^42
Another interpretation preferred the elements to the seasons, and
the struggle of the green and blue was supposed to represent the
conflict of the earth and sea. Their respective victories
announced either a plentiful harvest or a prosperous navigation,
and the hostility of the husbandmen and mariners was somewhat
less absurd than the blind ardor of the Roman people, who devoted
their lives and fortunes to the color which they had espoused.
Such folly was disdained and indulged by the wisest princes; but
the names of Caligula, Nero, Vitellius, Verus, Commodus,
Caracalla, and Elagabalus, were enrolled in the blue or green
factions of the circus; they frequented their stables, applauded
their favorites, chastised their antagonists, and deserved the
esteem of the populace, by the natural or affected imitation of
their manners. The bloody and tumultuous contest continued to
disturb the public festivity, till the last age of the spectacles
of Rome; and Theodoric, from a motive of justice or affection,
interposed his authority to protect the greens against the
violence of a consul and a patrician, who were passionately
addicted to the blue faction of the circus. ^43

[Footnote 41: Read and feel the xxiid book of the Iliad, a living
picture of manners, passions, and the whole form and spirit of
the chariot race West's Dissertation on the Olympic Games (sect.
xii. - xvii.) affords much curious and authentic information.]

[Footnote 42: The four colors, albati, russati, prasini, veneti,
represent the four seasons, according to Cassiodorus, (Var. iii.
51,) who lavishes much wit and eloquence on this theatrical
mystery. Of these colors, the three first may be fairly
translated white, red, and green. Venetus is explained by
coeruleus, a word various and vague: it is properly the sky
reflected in the sea; but custom and convenience may allow blue
as an equivalent, (Robert. Stephan. sub voce. Spence's
Polymetis, p. 228.)]

[Footnote 43: See Onuphrius Panvinius de Ludis Circensibus, l. i.
c. 10, 11; the xviith Annotation on Mascou's History of the
Germans; and Aleman ad c. vii.]

Constantinople adopted the follies, though not the virtues,
of ancient Rome; and the same factions which had agitated the
circus, raged with redoubled fury in the hippodrome. Under the
reign of Anastasius, this popular frenzy was inflamed by
religious zeal; and the greens, who had treacherously concealed
stones and daggers under baskets of fruit, massacred, at a solemn
festival, three thousand of their blue adversaries. ^44 From this
capital, the pestilence was diffused into the provinces and
cities of the East, and the sportive distinction of two colors
produced two strong and irreconcilable factions, which shook the
foundations of a feeble government. ^45 The popular dissensions,
founded on the most serious interest, or holy pretence, have
scarcely equalled the obstinacy of this wanton discord, which
invaded the peace of families, divided friends and brothers, and
tempted the female sex, though seldom seen in the circus, to
espouse the inclinations of their lovers, or to contradict the
wishes of their husbands. Every law, either human or divine, was
trampled under foot, and as long as the party was successful, its
deluded followers appeared careless of private distress or public
calamity. The license, without the freedom, of democracy, was
revived at Antioch and Constantinople, and the support of a
faction became necessary to every candidate for civil or
ecclesiastical honors. A secret attachment to the family or sect
of Anastasius was imputed to the greens; the blues were zealously
devoted to the cause of orthodoxy and Justinian, ^46 and their
grateful patron protected, above five years, the disorders of a
faction, whose seasonable tumults overawed the palace, the
senate, and the capitals of the East. Insolent with royal favor,
the blues affected to strike terror by a peculiar and Barbaric
dress, the long hair of the Huns, their close sleeves and ample
garments, a lofty step, and a sonorous voice. In the day they
concealed their two-edged poniards, but in the night they boldly
assembled in arms, and in numerous bands, prepared for every act
of violence and rapine. Their adversaries of the green faction,
or even inoffensive citizens, were stripped and often murdered by
these nocturnal robbers, and it became dangerous to wear any gold
buttons or girdles, or to appear at a late hour in the streets of
a peaceful capital. A daring spirit, rising with impunity,
proceeded to violate the safeguard of private houses; and fire
was employed to facilitate the attack, or to conceal the crimes
of these factious rioters. No place was safe or sacred from their
depredations; to gratify either avarice or revenge, they
profusely spilt the blood of the innocent; churches and altars
were polluted by atrocious murders; and it was the boast of the
assassins, that their dexterity could always inflict a mortal
wound with a single stroke of their dagger. The dissolute youth
of Constantinople adopted the blue livery of disorder; the laws
were silent, and the bonds of society were relaxed: creditors
were compelled to resign their obligations; judges to reverse
their sentence; masters to enfranchise their slaves; fathers to
supply the extravagance of their children; noble matrons were
prostituted to the lust of their servants; beautiful boys were
torn from the arms of their parents; and wives, unless they
preferred a voluntary death, were ravished in the presence of
their husbands. ^47 The despair of the greens, who were
persecuted by their enemies, and deserted by the magistrates,
assumed the privilege of defence, perhaps of retaliation; but
those who survived the combat were dragged to execution, and the
unhappy fugitives, escaping to woods and caverns, preyed without
mercy on the society from whence they were expelled. Those
ministers of justice who had courage to punish the crimes, and to
brave the resentment, of the blues, became the victims of their
indiscreet zeal; a praefect of Constantinople fled for refuge to
the holy sepulchre, a count of the East was ignominiously
whipped, and a governor of Cilicia was hanged, by the order of
Theodora, on the tomb of two assassins whom he had condemned for
the murder of his groom, and a daring attack upon his own life.
^48 An aspiring candidate may be tempted to build his greatness
on the public confusion, but it is the interest as well as duty
of a sovereign to maintain the authority of the laws. The first
edict of Justinian, which was often repeated, and sometimes
executed, announced his firm resolution to support the innocent,
and to chastise the guilty, of every denomination and color. Yet
the balance of justice was still inclined in favor of the blue
faction, by the secret affection, the habits, and the fears of
the emperor; his equity, after an apparent struggle, submitted,
without reluctance, to the implacable passions of Theodora, and
the empress never forgot, or forgave, the injuries of the
comedian. At the accession of the younger Justin, the
proclamation of equal and rigorous justice indirectly condemned
the partiality of the former reign. "Ye blues, Justinian is no
more! ye greens, he is still alive!" ^49
[Footnote 44: Marcellin. in Chron. p. 47. Instead of the vulgar
word venata he uses the more exquisite terms of coerulea and
coerealis. Baronius (A.D. 501, No. 4, 5, 6) is satisfied that
the blues were orthodox; but Tillemont is angry at the
supposition, and will not allow any martyrs in a playhouse,
(Hist. des Emp. tom. vi. p. 554.)]

[Footnote 45: See Procopius, (Persic. l. i. c. 24.) In describing
the vices of the factions and of the government, the public, is
not more favorable than the secret, historian. Aleman. (p. 26)
has quoted a fine passage from Gregory Nazianzen, which proves
the inveteracy of the evil.]

[Footnote 46: The partiality of Justinian for the blues (Anecdot.
c. 7) is attested by Evagrius, (Hist. Eccles. l. iv. c. 32,) John
Malala, (tom ii p. 138, 139,) especially for Antioch; and
Theophanes, (p. 142.)]
[Footnote 47: A wife, (says Procopius,) who was seized and almost
ravished by a blue-coat, threw herself into the Bosphorus. The
bishops of the second Syria (Aleman. p. 26) deplore a similar
suicide, the guilt or glory of female chastity, and name the

[Footnote 48: The doubtful credit of Procopius (Anecdot. c. 17)
is supported by the less partial Evagrius, who confirms the fact,
and specifies the names. The tragic fate of the praefect of
Constantinople is related by John Malala, (tom. ii. p. 139.)]

[Footnote 49: See John Malala, (tom. ii. p. 147;) yet he owns
that Justinian was attached to the blues. The seeming discord of
the emperor and Theodora is, perhaps, viewed with too much
jealousy and refinement by Procopius, (Anecdot. c. 10.) See
Aleman. Praefat. p. 6.]

A sedition, which almost laid Constantinople in ashes, was
excited by the mutual hatred and momentary reconciliation of the
two factions. In the fifth year of his reign, Justinian
celebrated the festival of the ides of January; the games were
incessantly disturbed by the clamorous discontent of the greens:
till the twenty-second race, the emperor maintained his silent
gravity; at length, yielding to his impatience, he condescended
to hold, in abrupt sentences, and by the voice of a crier, the
most singular dialogue ^50 that ever passed between a prince and
his subjects. Their first complaints were respectful and modest;
they accused the subordinate ministers of oppression, and
proclaimed their wishes for the long life and victory of the
emperor. "Be patient and attentive, ye insolent railers!"
exclaimed Justinian; "be mute, ye Jews, Samaritans, and
Manichaeans!" The greens still attempted to awaken his
compassion. "We are poor, we are innocent, we are injured, we
dare not pass through the streets: a general persecution is
exercised against our name and color. Let us die, O emperor! but
let us die by your command, and for your service!" But the
repetition of partial and passionate invectives degraded, in
their eyes, the majesty of the purple; they renounced allegiance
to the prince who refused justice to his people; lamented that
the father of Justinian had been born; and branded his son with
the opprobrious names of a homicide, an ass, and a perjured
tyrant. "Do you despise your lives?" cried the indignant
monarch: the blues rose with fury from their seats; their hostile
clamors thundered in the hippodrome; and their adversaries,
deserting the unequal contest spread terror and despair through
the streets of Constantinople. At this dangerous moment, seven
notorious assassins of both factions, who had been condemned by
the praefect, were carried round the city, and afterwards
transported to the place of execution in the suburb of Pera.
Four were immediately beheaded; a fifth was hanged: but when the
same punishment was inflicted on the remaining two, the rope
broke, they fell alive to the ground, the populace applauded
their escape, and the monks of St. Conon, issuing from the
neighboring convent, conveyed them in a boat to the sanctuary of
the church. ^51 As one of these criminals was of the blue, and
the other of the green livery, the two factions were equally
provoked by the cruelty of their oppressor, or the ingratitude of
their patron; and a short truce was concluded till they had
delivered their prisoners and satisfied their revenge. The
palace of the praefect, who withstood the seditious torrent, was
instantly burnt, his officers and guards were massacred, the
prisons were forced open, and freedom was restored to those who
could only use it for the public destruction. A military force,
which had been despatched to the aid of the civil magistrate, was
fiercely encountered by an armed multitude, whose numbers and
boldness continually increased; and the Heruli, the wildest
Barbarians in the service of the empire, overturned the priests
and their relics, which, from a pious motive, had been rashly
interposed to separate the bloody conflict. The tumult was
exasperated by this sacrilege, the people fought with enthusiasm
in the cause of God; the women, from the roofs and windows,
showered stones on the heads of the soldiers, who darted fire
brands against the houses; and the various flames, which had been
kindled by the hands of citizens and strangers, spread without
control over the face of the city. The conflagration involved
the cathedral of St. Sophia, the baths of Zeuxippus, a part of
the palace, from the first entrance to the altar of Mars, and the
long portico from the palace to the forum of Constantine: a large
hospital, with the sick patients, was consumed; many churches and
stately edifices were destroyed and an immense treasure of gold
and silver was either melted or lost. From such scenes of horror
and distress, the wise and wealthy citizens escaped over the
Bosphorus to the Asiatic side; and during five days
Constantinople was abandoned to the factions, whose watchword,
Nika, vanquish! has given a name to this memorable sedition. ^52

[Footnote 50: This dialogue, which Theophanes has preserved,
exhibits the popular language, as well as the manners, of
Constantinople, in the vith century. Their Greek is mingled with
many strange and barbarous words, for which Ducange cannot always
find a meaning or etymology.]

[Footnote 51: See this church and monastery in Ducange, C. P.
Christiana, l. iv p 182.]

[Footnote 52: The history of the Nika sedition is extracted from
Marcellinus, (in Chron.,) Procopius, (Persic. l. i. c. 26,) John
Malala, (tom. ii. p. 213 - 218,) Chron. Paschal., (p. 336 - 340,)
Theophanes, (Chronograph. p. 154 - 158) and Zonaras, (l. xiv. p.
61 - 63.)]

As long as the factions were divided, the triumphant blues,
and desponding greens, appeared to behold with the same
indifference the disorders of the state. They agreed to censure
the corrupt management of justice and the finance; and the two
responsible ministers, the artful Tribonian, and the rapacious
John of Cappadocia, were loudly arraigned as the authors of the
public misery. The peaceful murmurs of the people would have
been disregarded: they were heard with respect when the city was
in flames; the quaestor, and the praefect, were instantly
removed, and their offices were filled by two senators of
blameless integrity. After this popular concession, Justinian
proceeded to the hippodrome to confess his own errors, and to
accept the repentance of his grateful subjects; but they
distrusted his assurances, though solemnly pronounced in the
presence of the holy Gospels; and the emperor, alarmed by their
distrust, retreated with precipitation to the strong fortress of
the palace. The obstinacy of the tumult was now imputed to a
secret and ambitious conspiracy, and a suspicion was entertained,
that the insurgents, more especially the green faction, had been
supplied with arms and money by Hypatius and Pompey, two
patricians, who could neither forget with honor, nor remember
with safety, that they were the nephews of the emperor
Anastasius. Capriciously trusted, disgraced, and pardoned, by
the jealous levity of the monarch, they had appeared as loyal
servants before the throne; and, during five days of the tumult,
they were detained as important hostages; till at length, the
fears of Justinian prevailing over his prudence, he viewed the
two brothers in the light of spies, perhaps of assassins, and
sternly commanded them to depart from the palace. After a
fruitless representation, that obedience might lead to
involuntary treason, they retired to their houses, and in the
morning of the sixth day, Hypatius was surrounded and seized by
the people, who, regardless of his virtuous resistance, and the
tears of his wife, transported their favorite to the forum of
Constantine, and instead of a diadem, placed a rich collar on his
head. If the usurper, who afterwards pleaded the merit of his
delay, had complied with the advice of his senate, and urged the
fury of the multitude, their first irresistible effort might have
oppressed or expelled his trembling competitor. The Byzantine
palace enjoyed a free communication with the sea; vessels lay
ready at the garden stairs; and a secret resolution was already
formed, to convey the emperor with his family and treasures to a
safe retreat, at some distance from the capital.

Justinian was lost, if the prostitute whom he raised from
the theatre had not renounced the timidity, as well as the
virtues, of her sex. In the midst of a council, where Belisarius
was present, Theodora alone displayed the spirit of a hero; and
she alone, without apprehending his future hatred, could save the
emperor from the imminent danger, and his unworthy fears. "If
flight," said the consort of Justinian, "were the only means of
safety, yet I should disdain to fly. Death is the condition of
our birth; but they who have reigned should never survive the
loss of dignity and dominion. I implore Heaven, that I may never
be seen, not a day, without my diadem and purple; that I may no
longer behold the light, when I cease to be saluted with the name
of queen. If you resolve, O Caesar! to fly, you have treasures;
behold the sea, you have ships; but tremble lest the desire of
life should expose you to wretched exile and ignominious death.
For my own part, I adhere to the maxim of antiquity, that the
throne is a glorious sepulchre." The firmness of a woman restored
the courage to deliberate and act, and courage soon discovers the
resources of the most desperate situation. It was an easy and a
decisive measure to revive the animosity of the factions; the
blues were astonished at their own guilt and folly, that a
trifling injury should provoke them to conspire with their
implacable enemies against a gracious and liberal benefactor;
they again proclaimed the majesty of Justinian; and the greens,
with their upstart emperor, were left alone in the hippodrome.
The fidelity of the guards was doubtful; but the military force
of Justinian consisted in three thousand veterans, who had been
trained to valor and discipline in the Persian and Illyrian wars.

Under the command of Belisarius and Mundus, they silently marched
in two divisions from the palace, forced their obscure way
through narrow passages, expiring flames, and falling edifices,
and burst open at the same moment the two opposite gates of the
hippodrome. In this narrow space, the disorderly and affrighted
crowd was incapable of resisting on either side a firm and
regular attack; the blues signalized the fury of their
repentance; and it is computed, that above thirty thousand
persons were slain in the merciless and promiscuous carnage of
the day. Hypatius was dragged from his throne, and conducted,
with his brother Pompey, to the feet of the emperor: they
implored his clemency; but their crime was manifest, their
innocence uncertain, and Justinian had been too much terrified to
forgive. The next morning the two nephews of Anastasius, with
eighteen illustrious accomplices, of patrician or consular rank,
were privately executed by the soldiers; their bodies were thrown
into the sea, their palaces razed, and their fortunes
confiscated. The hippodrome itself was condemned, during several
years, to a mournful silence: with the restoration of the games,
the same disorders revived; and the blue and green factions
continued to afflict the reign of Justinian, and to disturb the
tranquility of the Eastern empire. ^53

[Footnote 53: Marcellinus says in general terms, innumeris
populis in circotrucidatis. Procopius numbers 30,000 victims:
and the 35,000 of Theophanes are swelled to 40,000 by the more
recent Zonaras. Such is the usual progress of exaggeration.]

III. That empire, after Rome was barbarous, still embraced
the nations whom she had conquered beyond the Adriatic, and as
far as the frontiers of Aethiopia and Persia. Justinian reigned
over sixty-four provinces, and nine hundred and thirty-five
cities; ^54 his dominions were blessed by nature with the
advantages of soil, situation, and climate: and the improvements
of human art had been perpetually diffused along the coast of the
Mediterranean and the banks of the Nile from ancient Troy to the
Egyptian Thebes. Abraham ^55 had been relieved by the well-known
plenty of Egypt; the same country, a small and populous tract,
was still capable of exporting, each year, two hundred and sixty
thousand quarters of wheat for the use of Constantinople; ^56 and
the capital of Justinian was supplied with the manufactures of
Sidon, fifteen centuries after they had been celebrated in the
poems of Homer. ^57 The annual powers of vegetation, instead of
being exhausted by two thousand harvests, were renewed and
invigorated by skilful husbandry, rich manure, and seasonable
repose. The breed of domestic animals was infinitely multiplied.
Plantations, buildings, and the instruments of labor and luxury,
which are more durable than the term of human life, were
accumulated by the care of successive generations. Tradition
preserved, and experience simplified, the humble practice of the
arts: society was enriched by the division of labor and the
facility of exchange; and every Roman was lodged, clothed, and
subsisted, by the industry of a thousand hands. The invention of
the loom and distaff has been piously ascribed to the gods. In
every age, a variety of animal and vegetable productions, hair,
skins, wool, flax, cotton, and at length silk, have been
skilfully manufactured to hide or adorn the human body; they were
stained with an infusion of permanent colors; and the pencil was
successfully employed to improve the labors of the loom. In the
choice of those colors ^58 which imitate the beauties of nature,
the freedom of taste and fashion was indulged; but the deep
purple ^59 which the Phoenicians extracted from a shell-fish, was
restrained to the sacred person and palace of the emperor; and
the penalties of treason were denounced against the ambitious
subjects who dared to usurp the prerogative of the throne. ^60

[Footnote 54: Hierocles, a contemporary of Justinian, composed
his (Itineraria, p. 631,) review of the eastern provinces and
cities, before the year 535, (Wesseling, in Praefat. and Not. ad
p. 623, &c.)]
[Footnote 55: See the Book of Genesis (xii. 10) and the
administration of Joseph. The annals of the Greeks and Hebrews
agree in the early arts and plenty of Egypt: but this antiquity
supposes a long series of improvement; and Warburton, who is
almost stifled by the Hebrew calls aloud for the Samaritan,
Chronology, (Divine Legation, vol. iii. p. 29, &c.)

Note: The recent extraordinary discoveries in Egyptian
antiquities strongly confirm the high notion of the early
Egyptian civilization, and imperatively demand a longer period
for their development. As to the common Hebrew chronology, as far
as such a subject is capable of demonstration, it appears to me
to have been framed, with a particular view, by the Jews of
Tiberias. It was not the chronology of the Samaritans, not that
of the LXX., not that of Josephus, not that of St. Paul. - M.]

[Footnote 56: Eight millions of Roman modii, besides a
contribution of 80,000 aurei for the expenses of water-carriage,
from which the subject was graciously excused. See the 13th
Edict of Justinian: the numbers are checked and verified by the
agreement of the Greek and Latin texts.]
[Footnote 57: Homer's Iliad, vi. 289. These veils, were the work
of the Sidonian women. But this passage is more honorable to the
manufactures than to the navigation of Phoenicia, from whence
they had been imported to Troy in Phrygian bottoms.]

[Footnote 58: See in Ovid (de Arte Amandi, iii. 269, &c.) a
poetical list of twelve colors borrowed from flowers, the
elements, &c. But it is almost impossible to discriminate by
words all the nice and various shades both of art and nature.]

[Footnote 59: By the discovery of cochineal, &c., we far surpass
the colors of antiquity. Their royal purple had a strong smell,
and a dark cast as deep as bull's blood - obscuritas rubens,
(says Cassiodorus, Var. 1, 2,) nigredo saguinea. The president
Goguet (Origine des Loix et des Arts, part ii. l. ii. c. 2, p.
184 - 215) will amuse and satisfy the reader. I doubt whether
his book, especially in England, is as well known as it deserves
to be.]
[Footnote 60: Historical proofs of this jealousy have been
occasionally introduced, and many more might have been added; but
the arbitrary acts of despotism were justified by the sober and
general declarations of law, (Codex Theodosian. l. x. tit. 21,
leg. 3. Codex Justinian. l. xi. tit. 8, leg. 5.) An inglorious
permission, and necessary restriction, was applied to the mince,
the female dancers, (Cod. Theodos. l. xv. tit. 7, leg. 11.)]

Chapter XL: Reign Of Justinian.

Part III.

I need not explain that silk ^61 is originally spun from the
bowels of a caterpillar, and that it composes the golden tomb,
from whence a worm emerges in the form of a butterfly. Till the
reign of Justinian, the silk- worm who feed on the leaves of the
white mulberry-tree were confined to China; those of the pine,
the oak, and the ash, were common in the forests both of Asia and
Europe; but as their education is more difficult, and their
produce more uncertain, they were generally neglected, except in
the little island of Ceos, near the coast of Attica. A thin gauze
was procured from their webs, and this Cean manufacture, the
invention of a woman, for female use, was long admired both in
the East and at Rome. Whatever suspicions may be raised by the
garments of the Medes and Assyrians, Virgil is the most ancient
writer, who expressly mentions the soft wool which was combed
from the trees of the Seres or Chinese; ^62 and this natural
error, less marvellous than the truth, was slowly corrected by
the knowledge of a valuable insect, the first artificer of the
luxury of nations. That rare and elegant luxury was censured, in
the reign of Tiberius, by the gravest of the Romans; and Pliny,
in affected though forcible language, has condemned the thirst of
gain, which explores the last confines of the earth, for the
pernicious purpose of exposing to the public eye naked draperies
and transparent matrons. ^63 ^* A dress which showed the turn of
the limbs, and color of the skin, might gratify vanity, or
provoke desire; the silks which had been closely woven in China
were sometimes unravelled by the Phoenician women, and the
precious materials were multiplied by a looser texture, and the
intermixture of linen threads. ^64 Two hundred years after the
age of Pliny, the use of pure, or even of mixed silks, was
confined to the female sex, till the opulent citizens of Rome and
the provinces were insensibly familiarized with the example of
Elagabalus, the first who, by this effeminate habit, had sullied
the dignity of an emperor and a man. Aurelian complained, that a
pound of silk was sold at Rome for twelve ounces of gold; but the
supply increased with the demand, and the price diminished with
the supply. If accident or monopoly sometimes raised the value
even above the standard of Aurelian, the manufacturers of Tyre
and Berytus were sometimes compelled, by the operation of the
same causes, to content themselves with a ninth part of that
extravagant rate. ^65 A law was thought necessary to discriminate
the dress of comedians from that of senators; and of the silk
exported from its native country the far greater part was
consumed by the subjects of Justinian. They were still more
intimately acquainted with a shell-fish of the Mediterranean,
surnamed the silk-worm of the sea: the fine wool or hair by which
the mother-of-pearl affixes itself to the rock is now
manufactured for curiosity rather than use; and a robe obtained
from the same singular materials was the gift of the Roman
emperor to the satraps of Armenia. ^66

[Footnote 61: In the history of insects (far more wonderful than
Ovid's Metamorphoses) the silk-worm holds a conspicuous place.
The bombyx of the Isle of Ceos, as described by Pliny, (Hist.
Natur. xi. 26, 27, with the notes of the two learned Jesuits,
Hardouin and Brotier,) may be illustrated by a similar species in
China, (Memoires sur les Chinois, tom. ii. p. 575 - 598;) but our
silk-worm, as well as the white mulberry-tree, were unknown to
Theophrastus and Pliny.]

[Footnote 62: Georgic. ii. 121. Serica quando venerint in usum
planissime non acio: suspicor tamen in Julii Caesaris aevo, nam
ante non invenio, says Justus Lipsius, (Excursus i. ad Tacit.
Annal. ii. 32.) See Dion Cassius, (l. xliii. p. 358, edit.
Reimar,) and Pausanius, (l. vi. p. 519,) the first who describes,
however strangely, the Seric insect.]

[Footnote 63: Tam longinquo orbe petitur, ut in publico matrona
transluceat ...ut denudet foeminas vestis, (Plin. vi. 20, xi.
21.) Varro and Publius Syrus had already played on the Toga
vitrea, ventus texilis, and nebula linen, (Horat. Sermon. i. 2,
101, with the notes of Torrentius and Dacier.)]
[Footnote *: Gibbon must have written transparent draperies and
naked matrons. Through sometimes affected, he is never
inaccurate. - M.]

[Footnote 64: On the texture, colors, names, and use of the silk,
half silk, and liuen garments of antiquity, see the profound,
diffuse, and obscure researches of the great Salmasius, (in Hist.
August. p. 127, 309, 310, 339, 341, 342, 344, 388 - 391, 395,
513,) who was ignorant of the most common trades of Dijon or

[Footnote 65: Flavius Vopiscus in Aurelian. c. 45, in Hist.
August. p. 224. See Salmasius ad Hist. Aug. p. 392, and Plinian.
Exercitat. in Solinum, p. 694, 695. The Anecdotes of Procopius
(c. 25) state a partial and imperfect rate of the price of silk
in the time of Justinian.]

[Footnote 66: Procopius de Edit. l. iii. c. 1. These pinnes de
mer are found near Smyrna, Sicily, Corsica, and Minorca; and a
pair of gloves of their silk was presented to Pope Benedict XIV.]

A valuable merchandise of small bulk is capable of defraying
the expense of land-carriage; and the caravans traversed the
whole latitude of Asia in two hundred and forty-three days from
the Chinese Ocean to the sea-coast of Syria. Silk was immediately
delivered to the Romans by the Persian merchants, ^67 who
frequented the fairs of Armenia and Nisibis; but this trade,
which in the intervals of truce was oppressed by avarice and
jealousy, was totally interrupted by the long wars of the rival
monarchies. The great king might proudly number Sogdiana, and
even Serica, among the provinces of his empire; but his real
dominion was bounded by the Oxus and his useful intercourse with
the Sogdoites, beyond the river, depended on the pleasure of
their conquerors, the white Huns, and the Turks, who successively
reigned over that industrious people. Yet the most savage
dominion has not extirpated the seeds of agriculture and
commerce, in a region which is celebrated as one of the four
gardens of Asia; the cities of Samarcand and Bochara are
advantageously seated for the exchange of its various
productions; and their merchants purchased from the Chinese, ^68
the raw or manufactured silk which they transported into Persia
for the use of the Roman empire. In the vain capital of China,
the Sogdian caravans were entertained as the suppliant embassies
of tributary kingdoms, and if they returned in safety, the bold
adventure was rewarded with exorbitant gain. But the difficult
and perilous march from Samarcand to the first town of Shensi,
could not be performed in less than sixty, eighty, or one hundred
days: as soon as they had passed the Jaxartes they entered the
desert; and the wandering hordes, unless they are restrained by
armies and garrisons, have always considered the citizen and the
traveller as the objects of lawful rapine. To escape the Tartar
robbers, and the tyrants of Persia, the silk caravans explored a
more southern road; they traversed the mountains of Thibet,
descended the streams of the Ganges or the Indus, and patiently
expected, in the ports of Guzerat and Malabar, the annual fleets
of the West. ^69 But the dangers of the desert were found less
intolerable than toil, hunger, and the loss of time; the attempt
was seldom renewed, and the only European who has passed that
unfrequented way, applauds his own diligence, that, in nine
months after his departure from Pekin, he reached the mouth of
the Indus. The ocean, however, was open to the free
communication of mankind. From the great river to the tropic of
Cancer, the provinces of China were subdued and civilized by the
emperors of the North; they were filled about the time of the
Christian aera with cities and men, mulberry- trees and their
precious inhabitants; and if the Chinese, with the knowledge of
the compass, had possessed the genius of the Greeks or
Phoenicians, they might have spread their discoveries over the
southern hemisphere. I am not qualified to examine, and I am not
disposed to believe, their distant voyages to the Persian Gulf,
or the Cape of Good Hope; but their ancestors might equal the
labors and success of the present race, and the sphere of their
navigation might extend from the Isles of Japan to the Straits of
Malacca, the pillars, if we may apply that name, of an Oriental
Hercules. ^70 Without losing sight of land, they might sail along
the coast to the extreme promontory of Achin, which is annually
visited by ten or twelve ships laden with the productions, the
manufactures, and even the artificers of China; the Island of
Sumatra and the opposite peninsula are faintly delineated ^71 as
the regions of gold and silver; and the trading cities named in
the geography of Ptolemy may indicate, that this wealth was not
solely derived from the mines. The direct interval between
Sumatra and Ceylon is about three hundred leagues: the Chinese
and Indian navigators were conducted by the flight of birds and
periodical winds; and the ocean might be securely traversed in
square-built ships, which, instead of iron, were sewed together
with the strong thread of the cocoanut. Ceylon, Serendib, or
Taprobana, was divided between two hostile princes; one of whom
possessed the mountains, the elephants, and the luminous
carbuncle, and the other enjoyed the more solid riches of
domestic industry, foreign trade, and the capacious harbor of
Trinquemale, which received and dismissed the fleets of the East
and West. In this hospitable isle, at an equal distance (as it
was computed) from their respective countries, the silk merchants
of China, who had collected in their voyages aloes, cloves,
nutmeg, and sandal wood, maintained a free and beneficial
commerce with the inhabitants of the Persian Gulf. The subjects
of the great king exalted, without a rival, his power and
magnificence: and the Roman, who confounded their vanity by
comparing his paltry coin with a gold medal of the emperor
Anastasius, had sailed to Ceylon, in an Aethiopian ship, as a
simple passenger. ^72
[Footnote 67: Procopius, Persic. l. i. c. 20, l. ii. c. 25;
Gothic. l. iv. c. 17. Menander in Excerpt. Legat. p. 107. Of
the Parthian or Persian empire, Isidore of Charax (in Stathmis
Parthicis, p. 7, 8, in Hudson, Geograph. Minor. tom. ii.) has
marked the roads, and Ammianus Marcellinus (l. xxiii. c. 6, p.
400) has enumerated the provinces.

Note: See St. Martin, Mem. sur l'Armenie, vol. ii. p. 41. -
[Footnote 68: The blind admiration of the Jesuits confounds the
different periods of the Chinese history. They are more
critically distinguished by M. de Guignes, (Hist. des Huns, tom.
i. part i. in the Tables, part ii. in the Geography. Memoires de
l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xxxii. xxxvi. xlii. xliii.,)
who discovers the gradual progress of the truth of the annals and
the extent of the monarchy, till the Christian aera. He has
searched, with a curious eye, the connections of the Chinese with
the nations of the West; but these connections are slight,
casual, and obscure; nor did the Romans entertain a suspicion
that the Seres or Sinae possessed an empire not inferior to their

Note: An abstract of the various opinions of the learned
modern writers, Gosselin, Mannert, Lelewel, Malte-Brun, Heeren,
and La Treille, on the Serica and the Thinae of the ancients, may
be found in the new edition of Malte-Brun, vol. vi. p. 368, 382.
- M.]

[Footnote 69: The roads from China to Persia and Hindostan may be
investigated in the relations of Hackluyt and Thevenot, the
ambassadors of Sharokh, Anthony Jenkinson, the Pere Greuber, &c.
See likewise Hanway's Travels, vol. i. p. 345 - 357. A
communication through Thibet has been lately explored by the
English sovereigns of Bengal.]

[Footnote 70: For the Chinese navigation to Malacca and Achin,
perhaps to Ceylon, see Renaudot, (on the two Mahometan
Travellers, p. 8 - 11, 13 - 17, 141 - 157;) Dampier, (vol. ii. p.
136;) the Hist. Philosophique des deux Indes, (tom. i. p. 98,)
and Hist. Generale des Voyages, (tom. vi. p. 201.)]
[Footnote 71: The knowledge, or rather ignorance, of Strabo,
Pliny, Ptolemy, Arrian, Marcian, &c., of the countries eastward
of Cape Comorin, is finely illustrated by D'Anville, (Antiquite
Geographique de l'Inde, especially p. 161 - 198.) Our geography
of India is improved by commerce and conquest; and has been
illustrated by the excellent maps and memoirs of Major Rennel.
If he extends the sphere of his inquiries with the same critical
knowledge and sagacity, he will succeed, and may surpass, the
first of modern geographers.]
[Footnote 72: The Taprobane of Pliny, (vi. 24,) Solinus, (c. 53,)
and Salmas. Plinianae Exercitat., (p. 781, 782,) and most of the
ancients, who often confound the islands of Ceylon and Sumatra,
is more clearly described by Cosmas Indicopleustes; yet even the
Christian topographer has exaggerated its dimensions. His
information on the Indian and Chinese trade is rare and curious,
(l. ii. p. 138, l. xi. p. 337, 338, edit. Montfaucon.)]
As silk became of indispensable use, the emperor Justinian
saw with concern that the Persians had occupied by land and sea
the monopoly of this important supply, and that the wealth of his
subjects was continually drained by a nation of enemies and
idolaters. An active government would have restored the trade of
Egypt and the navigation of the Red Sea, which had decayed with
the prosperity of the empire; and the Roman vessels might have
sailed, for the purchase of silk, to the ports of Ceylon, of
Malacca, or even of China. Justinian embraced a more humble
expedient, and solicited the aid of his Christian allies, the
Aethiopians of Abyssinia, who had recently acquired the arts of
navigation, the spirit of trade, and the seaport of Adulis, ^73
^* still decorated with the trophies of a Grecian conqueror.
Along the African coast, they penetrated to the equator in search
of gold, emeralds, and aromatics; but they wisely declined an
unequal competition, in which they must be always prevented by
the vicinity of the Persians to the markets of India; and the
emperor submitted to the disappointment, till his wishes were
gratified by an unexpected event. The gospel had been preached
to the Indians: a bishop already governed the Christians of St.
Thomas on the pepper-coast of Malabar; a church was planted in
Ceylon, and the missionaries pursued the footsteps of commerce to
the extremities of Asia. ^74 Two Persian monks had long resided
in China, perhaps in the royal city of Nankin, the seat of a
monarch addicted to foreign superstitions, and who actually
received an embassy from the Isle of Ceylon. Amidst their pious
occupations, they viewed with a curious eye the common dress of
the Chinese, the manufactures of silk, and the myriads of
silk-worms, whose education (either on trees or in houses) had
once been considered as the labor of queens. ^75 They soon
discovered that it was impracticable to transport the short-lived
insect, but that in the eggs a numerous progeny might be
preserved and multiplied in a distant climate. Religion or
interest had more power over the Persian monks than the love of
their country: after a long journey, they arrived at
Constantinople, imparted their project to the emperor, and were
liberally encouraged by the gifts and promises of Justinian. To
the historians of that prince, a campaign at the foot of Mount
Caucasus has seemed more deserving of a minute relation than the
labors of these missionaries of commerce, who again entered
China, deceived a jealous people by concealing the eggs of the
silk-worm in a hollow cane, and returned in triumph with the
spoils of the East. Under their direction, the eggs were hatched
at the proper season by the artificial heat of dung; the worms
were fed with mulberry leaves; they lived and labored in a
foreign climate; a sufficient number of butterflies was saved to
propagate the race, and trees were planted to supply the
nourishment of the rising generations. Experience and reflection
corrected the errors of a new attempt, and the Sogdoite
ambassadors acknowledged, in the succeeding reign, that the
Romans were not inferior to the natives of China in the education
of the insects, and the manufactures of silk, ^76 in which both
China and Constantinople have been surpassed by the industry of
modern Europe. I am not insensible of the benefits of elegant
luxury; yet I reflect with some pain, that if the importers of
silk had introduced the art of printing, already practised by the
Chinese, the comedies of Menander and the entire decads of Livy
would have been perpetuated in the editions of the sixth century.

A larger view of the globe might at least have promoted the
improvement of speculative science, but the Christian geography
was forcibly extracted from texts of Scripture, and the study of
nature was the surest symptom of an unbelieving mind. The
orthodox faith confined the habitable world to one temperate
zone, and represented the earth as an oblong surface, four
hundred days' journey in length, two hundred in breadth,
encompassed by the ocean, and covered by the solid crystal of the
firmament. ^77

[Footnote 73: See Procopius, Persic. (l. ii. c. 20.) Cosmas
affords some interesting knowledge of the port and inscription of
Adulis, (Topograph. Christ. l. ii. p. 138, 140 - 143,) and of the
trade of the Axumites along the African coast of Barbaria or
Zingi, (p. 138, 139,) and as far as Taprobane, (l. xi. p. 339.)]

[Footnote *: Mr. Salt obtained information of considerable ruins
of an ancient town near Zulla, called Azoole, which answers to
the position of Adulis. Mr. Salt was prevented by illness, Mr.
Stuart, whom he sent, by the jealousy of the natives, from
investigating these ruins: of their existence there seems no
doubt. Salt's 2d Journey, p. 452. - M.]

[Footnote 74: See the Christian missions in India, in Cosmas, (l.
iii. p. 178, 179, l. xi. p. 337,) and consult Asseman. Bibliot.
Orient. (tom. iv. p. 413 - 548.)]

[Footnote 75: The invention, manufacture, and general use of silk
in China, may be seen in Duhalde, (Description Generale de la
Chine, tom. ii. p. 165, 205 - 223.) The province of Chekian is
the most renowned both for quantity and quality.]

[Footnote 76: Procopius, (l. viii. Gothic. iv. c. 17. Theophanes
Byzant. apud Phot. Cod. lxxxiv. p. 38. Zonaras, tom. ii. l. xiv.
p. 69. Pagi (tom. ii. p. 602) assigns to the year 552 this
memorable importation. Menander (in Excerpt. Legat. p. 107)
mentions the admiration of the Sogdoites; and Theophylact
Simocatta (l. vii. c. 9) darkly represents the two rival kingdoms
in (China) the country of silk.]

[Footnote 77: Cosmas, surnamed Indicopleustes, or the Indian
navigator, performed his voyage about the year 522, and composed
at Alexandria, between 535, and 547, Christian Topography,
(Montfaucon, Praefat. c. i.,) in which he refutes the impious
opinion, that the earth is a globe; and Photius had read this
work, (Cod. xxxvi. p. 9, 10,) which displays the prejudices of a
monk, with the knowledge of a merchant; the most valuable part
has been given in French and in Greek by Melchisedec Thevenot,
(Relations Curieuses, part i.,) and the whole is since published
in a splendid edition by Pere Montfaucon, (Nova Collectio Patrum,
Paris, 1707, 2 vols. in fol., tom. ii. p. 113 - 346.) But the
editor, a theologian, might blush at not discovering the
Nestorian heresy of Cosmas, which has been detected by La Croz
(Christianisme des Indes, tom. i. p. 40 - 56.)]

IV. The subjects of Justinian were dissatisfied with the
times, and with the government. Europe was overrun by the
Barbarians, and Asia by the monks: the poverty of the West
discouraged the trade and manufactures of the East: the produce
of labor was consumed by the unprofitable servants of the church,
the state, and the army; and a rapid decrease was felt in the
fixed and circulating capitals which constitute the national
wealth. The public distress had been alleviated by the economy
of Anastasius, and that prudent emperor accumulated an immense
treasure, while he delivered his people from the most odious or
oppressive taxes. ^* Their gratitude universally applauded the
abolition of the gold of affliction, a personal tribute on the
industry of the poor, ^78 but more intolerable, as it should
seem, in the form than in the substance, since the flourishing
city of Edessa paid only one hundred and forty pounds of gold,
which was collected in four years from ten thousand artificers.
^79 Yet such was the parsimony which supported this liberal
disposition, that, in a reign of twenty-seven years, Anastasius
saved, from his annual revenue, the enormous sum of thirteen
millions sterling, or three hundred and twenty thousand pounds of
gold. ^80 His example was neglected, and his treasure was abused,
by the nephew of Justin. The riches of Justinian were speedily
exhausted by alms and buildings, by ambitious wars, and
ignominious treaties. His revenues were found inadequate to his
expenses. Every art was tried to extort from the people the gold
and silver which he scattered with a lavish hand from Persia to
France: ^81 his reign was marked by the vicissitudes or rather by
the combat, of rapaciousness and avarice, of splendor and
poverty; he lived with the reputation of hidden treasures, ^82
and bequeathed to his successor the payment of his debts. ^83
Such a character has been justly accused by the voice of the
people and of posterity: but public discontent is credulous;
private malice is bold; and a lover of truth will peruse with a
suspicious eye the instructive anecdotes of Procopius. The
secret historian represents only the vices of Justinian, and
those vices are darkened by his malevolent pencil. Ambiguous
actions are imputed to the worst motives; error is confounded
with guilt, accident with design, and laws with abuses; the
partial injustice of a moment is dexterously applied as the
general maxim of a reign of thirty-two years; the emperor alone
is made responsible for the faults of his officers, the disorders
of the times, and the corruption of his subjects; and even the
calamities of nature, plagues, earthquakes, and inundations, are
imputed to the prince of the daemons, who had mischievously
assumed the form of Justinian. ^84

[Footnote *: See the character of Anastasius in Joannes Lydus de
Magistratibus, iii. c. 45, 46, p. 230 - 232. His economy is
there said to have degenerated into parsimony. He is accused of
having taken away the levying of taxes and payment of the troops
from the municipal authorities, (the decurionate) in the Eastern
cities, and intrusted it to an extortionate officer named Mannus.

But he admits that the imperial revenue was enormously increased
by this measure. A statue of iron had been erected to Anastasius
in the Hippodrome, on which appeared one morning this pasquinade.

This epigram is also found in the Anthology. Jacobs, vol.
iv. p. 114 with some better readings.

This iron statue meetly do we place To thee, world-wasting king,
than brass more base; For all the death, the penury, famine, woe,
That from thy wide-destroying avarice flow, This fell Charybdis,
Scylla, near to thee, This fierce devouring Anastasius, see; And
tremble, Scylla! on thee, too, his greed, Coining thy brazen
deity, may feed.

But Lydus, with no uncommon inconsistency in such writers,
proceeds to paint the character of Anastasius as endowed with
almost every virtue, not excepting the utmost liberality. He was
only prevented by death from relieving his subjects altogether
from the capitation tax, which he greatly diminished. - M.]

[Footnote 78: Evagrius (l. ii. c. 39, 40) is minute and grateful,
but angry with Zosimus for calumniating the great Constantine.
In collecting all the bonds and records of the tax, the humanity
of Anastasius was diligent and artful: fathers were sometimes
compelled to prostitute their daughters, (Zosim. Hist. l. ii. c.
38, p. 165, 166, Lipsiae, 1784.) Timotheus of Gaza chose such an
event for the subject of a tragedy, (Suidas, tom. iii. p. 475,)
which contributed to the abolition of the tax, (Cedrenus, p. 35,)
- a happy instance (if it be true) of the use of the theatre.]

[Footnote 79: See Josua Stylites, in the Bibliotheca Orientalis
of Asseman, (tom. p. 268.) This capitation tax is slightly
mentioned in the Chronicle of Edessa.]

[Footnote 80: Procopius (Anecdot. c. 19) fixes this sum from the
report of the treasurers themselves. Tiberias had vicies ter
millies; but far different was his empire from that of

[Footnote 81: Evagrius, (l. iv. c. 30,) in the next generation,
was moderate and well informed; and Zonaras, (l. xiv. c. 61,) in
the xiith century, had read with care, and thought without
prejudice; yet their colors are almost as black as those of the

[Footnote 82: Procopius (Anecdot. c. 30) relates the idle
conjectures of the times. The death of Justinian, says the
secret historian, will expose his wealth or poverty.]

[Footnote 83: See Corippus de Laudibus Justini Aug. l. ii. 260,
&c., 384, &c
"Plurima sunt vivo nimium neglecta parenti, Unde tot exhaustus
contraxit debita fiscus."

Centenaries of gold were brought by strong men into the
"Debita persolvit, genitoris cauta recepit."]

[Footnote 84: The Anecdotes (c. 11 - 14, 18, 20 - 30) supply many
facts and more complaints.

Note: The work of Lydus de Magistratibus (published by Hase
at Paris, 1812, and reprinted in the new edition of the Byzantine
Historians,) was written during the reign of Justinian. This
work of Lydus throws no great light on the earlier history of the
Roman magistracy, but gives some curious details of the changes
and retrenchments in the offices of state, which took place at
this time. The personal history of the author, with the account
of his early and rapid advancement, and the emoluments of the
posts which he successively held, with the bitter disappointment
which he expresses, at finding himself, at the height of his
ambition, in an unpaid place, is an excellent illustration of
this statement. Gibbon has before, c. iv. n. 45, and c. xvii. n.
112, traced the progress of a Roman citizen to the highest honors
of the state under the empire; the steps by which Lydus reached
his humbler eminence may likewise throw light on the civil
service at this period. He was first received into the office of
the Praetorian praefect; became a notary in that office, and made
in one year 1000 golden solidi, and that without extortion. His
place and the influence of his relatives obtained him a wife with
400 pounds of gold for her dowry. He became chief chartularius,
with an annual stipend of twenty-four solidi, and considerable
emoluments for all the various services which he performed. He
rose to an Augustalis, and finally to the dignity of Corniculus,
the highest, and at one time the most lucrative office in the
department. But the Praetorian praefect had gradually been
deprived of his powers and his honors. He lost the
superintendence of the supply and manufacture of arms; the
uncontrolled charge of the public posts; the levying of the
troops; the command of the army in war when the emperors ceased
nominally to command in person, but really through the Praetorian
praefect; that of the household troops, which fell to the
magister aulae. At length the office was so completely stripped
of its power, as to be virtually abolished, (see de Magist. l.
iii. c. 40, p. 220, &c.) This diminution of the office of the
praefect destroyed the emoluments of his subordinate officers,
and Lydus not only drew no revenue from his dignity, but expended
upon it all the gains of his former services.

Lydus gravely refers this calamitous, and, as he considers
it, fatal degradation of the Praetorian office to the alteration
in the style of the official documents from Latin to Greek; and
refers to a prophecy of a certain Fonteius, which connected the
ruin of the Roman empire with its abandonment of its language.
Lydus chiefly owed his promotion to his knowledge of Latin! - M.]

After this precaution, I shall briefly relate the anecdotes
of avarice and rapine under the following heads: I. Justinian
was so profuse that he could not be liberal. The civil and
military officers, when they were admitted into the service of
the palace, obtained an humble rank and a moderate stipend; they
ascended by seniority to a station of affluence and repose; the
annual pensions, of which the most honorable class was abolished
by Justinian, amounted to four hundred thousand pounds; and this
domestic economy was deplored by the venal or indigent courtiers
as the last outrage on the majesty of the empire. The posts, the
salaries of physicians, and the nocturnal illuminations, were
objects of more general concern; and the cities might justly
complain, that he usurped the municipal revenues which had been
appropriated to these useful institutions. Even the soldiers
were injured; and such was the decay of military spirit, that
they were injured with impunity. The emperor refused, at the
return of each fifth year, the customary donative of five pieces
of gold, reduced his veterans to beg their bread, and suffered
unpaid armies to melt away in the wars of Italy and Persia. II.
The humanity of his predecessors had always remitted, in some
auspicious circumstance of their reign, the arrears of the public
tribute, and they dexterously assumed the merit of resigning
those claims which it was impracticable to enforce. "Justinian,
in the space of thirty-two years, has never granted a similar
indulgence; and many of his subjects have renounced the
possession of those lands whose value is insufficient to satisfy
the demands of the treasury. To the cities which had suffered by
hostile inroads Anastasius promised a general exemption of seven
years: the provinces of Justinian have been ravaged by the
Persians and Arabs, the Huns and Sclavonians; but his vain and
ridiculous dispensation of a single year has been confined to
those places which were actually taken by the enemy." Such is the
language of the secret historian, who expressly denies that any
indulgence was granted to Palestine after the revolt of the
Samaritans; a false and odious charge, confuted by the authentic
record which attests a relief of thirteen centenaries of gold
(fifty-two thousand pounds) obtained for that desolate province
by the intercession of St. Sabas. ^85 III. Procopius has not
condescended to explain the system of taxation, which fell like a
hail-storm upon the land, like a devouring pestilence on its
inhabitants: but we should become the accomplices of his
malignity, if we imputed to Justinian alone the ancient though
rigorous principle, that a whole district should be condemned to
sustain the partial loss of the persons or property of
individuals. The Annona, or supply of corn for the use of the
army and capital, was a grievous and arbitrary exaction, which
exceeded, perhaps in a tenfold proportion, the ability of the
farmer; and his distress was aggravated by the partial injustice
of weights and measures, and the expense and labor of distant
carriage. In a time of scarcity, an extraordinary requisition
was made to the adjacent provinces of Thrace, Bithynia, and
Phrygia: but the proprietors, after a wearisome journey and
perilous navigation, received so inadequate a compensation, that
they would have chosen the alternative of delivering both the
corn and price at the doors of their granaries. These
precautions might indicate a tender solicitude for the welfare of
the capital; yet Constantinople did not escape the rapacious
despotism of Justinian. Till his reign, the Straits of the
Bosphorus and Hellespont were open to the freedom of trade, and
nothing was prohibited except the exportation of arms for the
service of the Barbarians. At each of these gates of the city, a
praetor was stationed, the minister of Imperial avarice; heavy
customs were imposed on the vessels and their merchandise; the
oppression was retaliated on the helpless consumer; the poor were
afflicted by the artificial scarcity, and exorbitant price of the
market; and a people, accustomed to depend on the liberality of
their prince, might sometimes complain of the deficiency of water
and bread. ^86 The aerial tribute, without a name, a law, or a
definite object, was an annual gift of one hundred and twenty
thousand pounds, which the emperor accepted from his Praetorian
praefect; and the means of payment were abandoned to the
discretion of that powerful magistrate. IV. Even such a tax was
less intolerable than the privilege of monopolies, ^* which
checked the fair competition of industry, and, for the sake of a
small and dishonest gain, imposed an arbitrary burden on the
wants and luxury of the subject. "As soon" (I transcribe the
Anecdotes) "as the exclusive sale of silk was usurped by the
Imperial treasurer, a whole people, the manufacturers of Tyre and
Berytus, was reduced to extreme misery, and either perished with
hunger, or fled to the hostile dominions of Persia." A province
might suffer by the decay of its manufactures, but in this
example of silk, Procopius has partially overlooked the
inestimable and lasting benefit which the empire received from
the curiosity of Justinian. His addition of one seventh to the
ordinary price of copper money may be interpreted with the same
candor; and the alteration, which might be wise, appears to have
been innocent; since he neither alloyed the purity, nor enhanced
the value, of the gold coin, ^87 the legal measure of public and
private payments. V. The ample jurisdiction required by the
farmers of the revenue to accomplish their engagements might be
placed in an odious light, as if they had purchased from the
emperor the lives and fortunes of their fellow-citizens. And a
more direct sale of honors and offices was transacted in the
palace, with the permission, or at least with the connivance, of
Justinian and Theodora. The claims of merit, even those of
favor, were disregarded, and it was almost reasonable to expect,
that the bold adventurer, who had undertaken the trade of a
magistrate, should find a rich compensation for infamy, labor,
danger, the debts which he had contracted, and the heavy interest
which he paid. A sense of the disgrace and mischief of this
venal practice, at length awakened the slumbering virtue of
Justinian; and he attempted, by the sanction of oaths ^88 and
penalties, to guard the integrity of his government: but at the
end of a year of perjury, his rigorous edict was suspended, and
corruption licentiously abused her triumph over the impotence of
the laws. VI. The testament of Eulalius, count of the
domestics, declared the emperor his sole heir, on condition,
however, that he should discharge his debts and legacies, allow
to his three daughters a decent maintenance, and bestow each of
them in marriage, with a portion of ten pounds of gold. But the
splendid fortune of Eulalius had been consumed by fire, and the
inventory of his goods did not exceed the trifling sum of five
hundred and sixty-four pieces of gold. A similar instance, in
Grecian history, admonished the emperor of the honorable part
prescribed for his imitation. He checked the selfish murmurs of
the treasury, applauded the confidence of his friend, discharged
the legacies and debts, educated the three virgins under the eye
of the empress Theodora, and doubled the marriage portion which
had satisfied the tenderness of their father. ^89 The humanity of
a prince (for princes cannot be generous) is entitled to some
praise; yet even in this act of virtue we may discover the
inveterate custom of supplanting the legal or natural heirs,
which Procopius imputes to the reign of Justinian. His charge is
supported by eminent names and scandalous examples; neither
widows nor orphans were spared; and the art of soliciting, or
extorting, or supposing testaments, was beneficially practised by
the agents of the palace. This base and mischievous tyranny
invades the security of private life; and the monarch who has
indulged an appetite for gain, will soon be tempted to anticipate
the moment of succession, to interpret wealth as an evidence of
guilt, and to proceed, from the claim of inheritance, to the
power of confiscation. VII. Among the forms of rapine, a
philosopher may be permitted to name the conversion of Pagan or
heretical riches to the use of the faithful; but in the time of
Justinian this holy plunder was condemned by the sectaries alone,
who became the victims of his orthodox avarice. ^90

[Footnote 85: One to Scythopolis, capital of the second
Palestine, and twelve for the rest of the province. Aleman. (p.
59) honestly produces this fact from a Ms. life of St. Sabas, by
his disciple Cyril, in the Vatican Library, and since published
by Cotelerius.]

[Footnote 86: John Malala (tom. ii. p. 232) mentions the want of
bread, and Zonaras (l. xiv. p. 63) the leaden pipes, which
Justinian, or his servants, stole from the aqueducts.]

[Footnote *: Hullman (Geschichte des Byzantinischen Handels. p.
15) shows that the despotism of the government was aggravated by
the unchecked rapenity of the officers. This state monopoly,
even of corn, wine, and oil, was to force at the time of the
first crusade. - M.]

[Footnote 87: For an aureus, one sixth of an ounce of gold,
instead of 210, he gave no more than 180 folles, or ounces of
copper. A disproportion of the mint, below the market price,
must have soon produced a scarcity of small money. In England
twelve pence in copper would sell for no more than seven pence,
(Smith's Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations, vol. i. p. 49.) For
Justinian's gold coin, see Evagrius, (l. iv. c. 30.)]

[Footnote 88: The oath is conceived in the most formidable words,
(Novell. viii. tit. 3.) The defaulters imprecate on themselves,
quicquid haben: telorum armamentaria coeli: the part of Judas,
the leprosy of Gieza, the tremor of Cain, &c., besides all
temporal pains.]

[Footnote 89: A similar or more generous act of friendship is
related by Lucian of Eudamidas of Corinth, (in Toxare, c. 22, 23,
tom. ii. p. 530,) and the story has produced an ingenious, though
feeble, comedy of Fontenelle.]
[Footnote 90: John Malala, tom. ii. p. 101, 102, 103.]

Chapter XL: Reign Of Justinian.

Part IV.

Dishonor might be ultimately reflected on the character of
Justinian; but much of the guilt, and still more of the profit,
was intercepted by the ministers, who were seldom promoted for
their virtues, and not always selected for their talents. ^91 The
merits of Tribonian the quaestor will hereafter be weighed in the
reformation of the Roman law; but the economy of the East was
subordinate to the Praetorian praefect, and Procopius has
justified his anecdotes by the portrait which he exposes in his
public history, of the notorious vices of John of Cappadocia. ^92
^* His knowledge was not borrowed from the schools, ^93 and his
style was scarcely legible; but he excelled in the powers of
native genius, to suggest the wisest counsels, and to find
expedients in the most desperate situations. The corruption of
his heart was equal to the vigor of his understanding. Although
he was suspected of magic and Pagan superstition, he appeared
insensible to the fear of God or the reproaches of man; and his
aspiring fortune was raised on the death of thousands, the
poverty of millions, the ruins of cities, and the desolation of
provinces. From the dawn of light to the moment of dinner, he
assiduously labored to enrich his master and himself at the
expense of the Roman world; the remainder of the day was spent in
sensual and obscene pleasures, ^* and the silent hours of the
night were interrupted by the perpetual dread of the justice of
an assassin. His abilities, perhaps his vices, recommended him
to the lasting friendship of Justinian: the emperor yielded with
reluctance to the fury of the people; his victory was displayed
by the immediate restoration of their enemy; and they felt above
ten years, under his oppressive administration, that he was
stimulated by revenge, rather than instructed by misfortune.
Their murmurs served only to fortify the resolution of Justinian;
but the resentment of Theodora, disdained a power before which
every knee was bent, and attempted to sow the seeds of discord
between the emperor and his beloved consort. Even Theodora
herself was constrained to dissemble, to wait a favorable moment,
and, by an artful conspiracy, to render John of Coppadocia the
accomplice of his own destruction. ^! At a time when Belisarius,
unless he had been a hero, must have shown himself a rebel, his
wife Antonina, who enjoyed the secret confidence of the empress,
communicated his feigned discontent to Euphemia, the daughter of
the praefect; the credulous virgin imparted to her father the
dangerous project, and John, who might have known the value of
oaths and promises, was tempted to accept a nocturnal, and almost
treasonable, interview with the wife of Belisarius. An ambuscade
of guards and eunuchs had been posted by the command of Theodora;
they rushed with drawn swords to seize or to punish the guilty
minister: he was saved by the fidelity of his attendants; but
instead of appealing to a gracious sovereign, who had privately
warned him of his danger, he pusillanimously fled to the
sanctuary of the church. The favorite of Justinian was
sacrificed to conjugal tenderness or domestic tranquility; the
conversion of a praefect into a priest extinguished his ambitious
hopes: but the friendship of the emperor alleviated his disgrace,
and he retained in the mild exile of Cyzicus an ample portion of
his riches. Such imperfect revenge could not satisfy the
unrelenting hatred of Theodora; the murder of his old enemy, the
bishop of Cyzicus, afforded a decent pretence; and John of
Cappadocia, whose actions had deserved a thousand deaths, was at
last condemned for a crime of which he was innocent. A great
minister, who had been invested with the honors of consul and
patrician, was ignominiously scourged like the vilest of
malefactors; a tattered cloak was the sole remnant of his
fortunes; he was transported in a bark to the place of his
banishment at Antinopolis in Upper Egypt, and the praefect of the
East begged his bread through the cities which had trembled at
his name. During an exile of seven years, his life was
protracted and threatened by the ingenious cruelty of Theodora;
and when her death permitted the emperor to recall a servant whom
he had abandoned with regret, the ambition of John of Cappadocia
was reduced to the humble duties of the sacerdotal profession.
His successors convinced the subjects of Justinian, that the arts
of oppression might still be improved by experience and industry;
the frauds of a Syrian banker were introduced into the
administration of the finances; and the example of the praefect
was diligently copied by the quaestor, the public and private
treasurer, the governors of provinces, and the principal
magistrates of the Eastern empire. ^94

[Footnote 91: One of these, Anatolius, perished in an earthquake
- doubtless a judgment! The complaints and clamors of the people
in Agathias (l. v. p. 146, 147) are almost an echo of the
anecdote. The aliena pecunia reddenda of Corippus (l. ii. 381,
&c.,) is not very honorable to Justinian's memory.]
[Footnote 92: See the history and character of John of Cappadocia
in Procopius. (Persic, l. i. c. 35, 25, l. ii. c. 30. Vandal.
l. i. c. 13. Anecdot. c. 2, 17, 22.) The agreement of the history
and anecdotes is a mortal wound to the reputation of the

[Footnote *: This view, particularly of the cruelty of John of
Cappadocia, is confirmed by the testimony of Joannes Lydus, who
was in the office of the praefect, and eye-witness of the
tortures inflicted by his command on the miserable debtors, or
supposed debtors, of the state. He mentions one horrible
instance of a respectable old man, with whom he was personally
acquainted, who, being suspected of possessing money, was hung up
by the hands till he was dead. Lydus de Magist. lib. iii. c. 57,
p. 254. - M.]
[Footnote 93: A forcible expression.]

[Footnote *: Joannes Lydus is diffuse on this subject, lib. iii.
c. 65, p. 268. But the indignant virtue of Lydus seems greatly
stimulated by the loss of his official fees, which he ascribes to
the innovations of the minister. - M.]

[Footnote !: According to Lydus, Theodora disclosed the crimes
and unpopularity of the minister to Justinian, but the emperor
had not the courage to remove, and was unable to replace, a
servant, under whom his finances seemed to prosper. He
attributes the sedition and conflagration to the popular
resentment against the tyranny of John, lib. iii. c 70, p. 278.
Unfortunately there is a large gap in his work just at this
period. - M.]
[Footnote 94: The chronology of Procopius is loose and obscure;
but with the aid of Pagi I can discern that John was appointed
Praetorian praefect of the East in the year 530 - that he was
removed in January, 532 - restored before June, 533 - banished in
541 - and recalled between June, 548, and April 1, 549. Aleman.
(p. 96, 97) gives the list of his ten successors - a rapid series
in a part of a single reign.

Note: Lydus gives a high character of Phocas, his successor
tom. iii. c. 78 p. 288. - M.]

V. The edifices of Justinian were cemented with the blood
and treasure of his people; but those stately structures appeared
to announce the prosperity of the empire, and actually displayed
the skill of their architects. Both the theory and practice of
the arts which depend on mathematical science and mechanical
power, were cultivated under the patronage of the emperors; the
fame of Archimedes was rivalled by Proclus and Anthemius; and if
their miracles had been related by intelligent spectators, they
might now enlarge the speculations, instead of exciting the
distrust, of philosophers. A tradition has prevailed, that the
Roman fleet was reduced to ashes in the port of Syracuse, by the
burning-glasses of Archimedes; ^95 and it is asserted, that a
similar expedient was employed by Proclus to destroy the Gothic
vessels in the harbor of Constantinople, and to protect his
benefactor Anastasius against the bold enterprise of Vitalian.
^96 A machine was fixed on the walls of the city, consisting of a
hexagon mirror of polished brass, with many smaller and movable
polygons to receive and reflect the rays of the meridian sun; and
a consuming flame was darted, to the distance, perhaps of two
hundred feet. ^97 The truth of these two extraordinary facts is
invalidated by the silence of the most authentic historians; and
the use of burning-glasses was never adopted in the attack or
defence of places. ^98 Yet the admirable experiments of a French
philosopher ^99 have demonstrated the possibility of such a
mirror; and, since it is possible, I am more disposed to
attribute the art to the greatest mathematicians of antiquity,
than to give the merit of the fiction to the idle fancy of a monk
or a sophist. According to another story, Proclus applied
sulphur to the destruction of the Gothic fleet; ^100 in a modern
imagination, the name of sulphur is instantly connected with the
suspicion of gunpowder, and that suspicion is propagated by the
secret arts of his disciple Anthemius. ^101 A citizen of Tralles
in Asia had five sons, who were all distinguished in their
respective professions by merit and success. Olympius excelled in
the knowledge and practice of the Roman jurisprudence. Dioscorus
and Alexander became learned physicians; but the skill of the
former was exercised for the benefit of his fellow-citizens,
while his more ambitious brother acquired wealth and reputation
at Rome. The fame of Metrodorus the grammarian, and of Anthemius
the mathematician and architect, reached the ears of the emperor
Justinian, who invited them to Constantinople; and while the one
instructed the rising generation in the schools of eloquence, the
other filled the capital and provinces with more lasting
monuments of his art. In a trifling dispute relative to the
walls or windows of their contiguous houses, he had been
vanquished by the eloquence of his neighbor Zeno; but the orator
was defeated in his turn by the master of mechanics, whose
malicious, though harmless, stratagems are darkly represented by
the ignorance of Agathias. In a lower room, Anthemius arranged
several vessels or caldrons of water, each of them covered by the
wide bottom of a leathern tube, which rose to a narrow top, and
was artificially conveyed among the joists and rafters of the
adjacent building. A fire was kindled beneath the caldron; the
steam of the boiling water ascended through the tubes; the house
was shaken by the efforts of imprisoned air, and its trembling
inhabitants might wonder that the city was unconscious of the
earthquake which they had felt. At another time, the friends of
Zeno, as they sat at table, were dazzled by the intolerable light
which flashed in their eyes from the reflecting mirrors of
Anthemius; they were astonished by the noise which he produced
from the collision of certain minute and sonorous particles; and
the orator declared in tragic style to the senate, that a mere
mortal must yield to the power of an antagonist, who shook the
earth with the trident of Neptune, and imitated the thunder and
lightning of Jove himself. The genius of Anthemius, and his
colleague Isidore the Milesian, was excited and employed by a
prince, whose taste for architecture had degenerated into a
mischievous and costly passion. His favorite architects
submitted their designs and difficulties to Justinian, and
discreetly confessed how much their laborious meditations were
surpassed by the intuitive knowledge of celestial inspiration of
an emperor, whose views were always directed to the benefit of
his people, the glory of his reign, and the salvation of his
soul. ^102
[Footnote 95: This conflagration is hinted by Lucian (in Hippia,
c. 2) and Galen, (l. iii. de Temperamentis, tom. i. p. 81, edit.
Basil.) in the second century. A thousand years afterwards, it
is positively affirmed by Zonaras, (l. ix. p. 424,) on the faith
of Dion Cassius, Tzetzes, (Chiliad ii. 119, &c.,) Eustathius, (ad
Iliad. E. p. 338,) and the scholiast of Lucian. See Fabricius,
(Bibliot. Graec. l. iii. c. 22, tom. ii. p. 551, 552,) to whom I
am more or less indebted for several of these quotations.]

[Footnote 96: Zonaras (l. xi. c. p. 55) affirms the fact, without
quoting any evidence.]

[Footnote 97: Tzetzes describes the artifice of these
burning-glasses, which he had read, perhaps, with no learned
eyes, in a mathematical treatise of Anthemius. That treatise has
been lately published, translated, and illustrated, by M. Dupuys,
a scholar and a mathematician, (Memoires de l'Academie des
Inscriptions, tom xlii p. 392 - 451.)]

[Footnote 98: In the siege of Syracuse, by the silence of
Polybius, Plutarch, Livy; in the siege of Constantinople, by that
of Marcellinus and all the contemporaries of the vith century.]

[Footnote 99: Without any previous knowledge of Tzetzes or
Anthemius, the immortal Buffon imagined and executed a set of
burning-glasses, with which he could inflame planks at the
distance of 200 feet, (Supplement a l'Hist. Naturelle, tom. i.
399 - 483, quarto edition.) What miracles would not his genius
have performed for the public service, with royal expense, and in
the strong sun of Constantinople or Syracuse?]

[Footnote 100: John Malala (tom. ii. p. 120 - 124) relates the
fact; but he seems to confound the names or persons of Proclus
and Marinus.]
[Footnote 101: Agathias, l. v. p. 149 - 152. The merit of
Anthemius as an architect is loudly praised by Procopius (de
Edif. l. i. c. 1) and Paulus Silentiarius, (part i. 134, &c.)]

[Footnote 102: See Procopius, (de Edificiis, l. i. c. 1, 2, l.
ii. c. 3.) He relates a coincidence of dreams, which supposes
some fraud in Justinian or his architect. They both saw, in a
vision, the same plan for stopping an inundation at Dara. A
stone quarry near Jerusalem was revealed to the emperor, (l. v.
c. 6:) an angel was tricked into the perpetual custody of St.
Sophia, (Anonym. de Antiq. C. P. l. iv. p. 70.)]

The principal church, which was dedicated by the founder of
Constantinople to St. Sophia, or the eternal wisdom, had been
twice destroyed by fire; after the exile of John Chrysostom, and
during the Nika of the blue and green factions. No sooner did
the tumult subside, than the Christian populace deplored their
sacrilegious rashness; but they might have rejoiced in the
calamity, had they foreseen the glory of the new temple, which at
the end of forty days was strenuously undertaken by the piety of
Justinian. ^103 The ruins were cleared away, a more spacious plan
was described, and as it required the consent of some proprietors
of ground, they obtained the most exorbitant terms from the eager
desires and timorous conscience of the monarch. Anthemius formed
the design, and his genius directed the hands of ten thousand


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