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was sent without time for repentance to the tribunal in another world. The Patriarch owed his position to Bardas, and if he knew his weaknesses, must have appreciated his merits. We can detect in the phraseology of his epistle, and especially in one ambiguous sentence, the mixture of his feelings. "The virtue and clemency of your Majesty forbid me to suspect that the letter was fabricated or that the circumstances of the fall of Bardas were otherwise than it alleges-circumstances by which he (Bardas) is crowned and others will suffer." These words intimate suspicion as clearly as it could decently be intimated in such a case. It was impossible not to accept the sovran's assurance of the Caesar's guilt, if it were indeed his own assurance, yet Photius allows it to be seen that he suspects that the Imperial letter was dictated by Basil and that there was foul play. But perhaps the most interesting passage in this composition of Photius-in' which we can feel his deep agitation under the rhetorical figures of his style—is his brief characterization of the Caesar as one who was to many a terror, to many a warning, to many a cause of pity, but to more a riddle.” 2


Photius concluded his letter with an urgent prayer that the Emperor should instantly return to the capital, professing that this was the unanimous desire of the Senate and the citizens; and shortly afterwards he dispatched another brief but importunate request to the same effect.3 It is absurd to suppose that this solicitude was unreal, or dictated by motives of vulgar flattery. We cannot doubt the genuine concern of the Patriarch; but in our ignorance of the details of the situation we can only conjecture that he and his friends entertained the fear that Michael might share the fate of his uncle. The intrigues of Basil were, of course, known well to all who were initiated in Court affairs; and modern partisan writers of the Roman Church, who detest Photius and all his works, do not pause to consider, when they scornfully animadvert upon these "time-serving" letters, that to have

1 δι ̓ ὧν ἐκεῖνος μὲν στέφεται ἄλλοι δὲ κόψονται. The paraphrase of the Abbé Jager (Hist. de Photius, 116) entirely omits this.

2 Mistranslated by Jager, ib. 117. 3 Ep. 222.

4 Jager, ib. 115. Hergenrother, i. 589. Valettas, in his apology for Photius (note to Ep. 221, p. 536), says that Ph. calls Basil ἐν πόλει λῃστήν, etc., in Ep. 190; but Basil, Prefect of the City, to whom this letter is addressed, is a different person.

addressed to Michael holy words of condemnation or reproof would have been to fling away every chance of rescuing him from the influence of his High Chamberlain. We know not whether the Emperor was influenced by the pressing messages of the Patriarch, but at all events the Cretan expedition was abandoned, and he returned with Basil to Constantinople.

§ 3. The Elevation of Basil and the Murder of Michael

The High Chamberlain promptly reaped the due reward of his craft and audacity. He was adopted as a son by the childless Emperor, and invested with the order of Magister.1 A few weeks later, Michael suddenly decided to elevate him to the throne. We can easily understand that this step seemed the easiest way out of his perplexities to the Emperor, who felt himself utterly lost when Bardas was removed from the helm. Basil, firm and self-confident, was a tower of strength, and at this moment he could exert unlimited influence over the weak mind of his master. The Court and the city were kept in the dark till the last moment. On the eve of Pentecost, the Chief of the Private Wardrobe waited on the Patriarch and informed him that on the morrow he would be required to take part in the inauguration of Basil as Basileus and Augustus.

On Whitsunday (May 26), it was observed with surprise that two Imperial seats were placed side by side in St. Sophia. In the procession from the Palace, Basil walked behind the Emperor, in the usual guise of the High Chamberlain; but Michael on entering the church did not remove the crown from his head as was usual. He ascended the ambo 2 wearing the diadem, Basil stood on a lower step, and below him Leo Kastor, a secretary, with a document in his hand, while the Praepositus, the demarchs, and the demes stood around. Leo then read out an Imperial declaration: "The Caesar Bardas plotted against me to slay me, and for this reason induced me to leave the city. If I had not been informed of the plot by Symbatios and Basil, I should not have been alive The Caesar died through his own guilt. It is my will


1 Cont. Th. 238.

2 There were two flights of steps up

to the ambo, described by Paul Silent.,

Descr. Ambonis, 60 sqq. (ed. Bonn, p. 51).

that Basil, the High Chamberlain, since he is faithful to me and protects my sovranty and delivered me from my enemy and has much affection for me, should be the guardian and manager of my Empire and should be proclaimed by all as Emperor." Then Michael gave his crown to the Patriarch, who placed it on the holy table and recited a prayer over it. Basil was arrayed by the eunuchs in the Imperial dress (the divêtêsion and the red boots), and knelt before the Emperor. The Patriarch then crowned Michael, and Michael crowned Basil.1


On the following day (Whitmonday) Symbatios, the Logothete of the Course, deeply incensed at the trick that Basil had played on him and disappointed in his hopes of promotion to the rank of Caesar, requested Michael to confer upon him the post of a stratêgos. He was made Stratêgos of the Thrakesian Theme, and his friend George Pêganês was appointed Count of the Opsikian Theme. These two conspired and marched through the provinces, ravaging the crops, declaring their allegiance to Michael and disowning Basil. The Emperors ordered the other stratêgoi to suppress them, and Nicephorus Maleinos, by distributing a flysheet, induced their soldiers to abandon them. When Pêganês was caught, his eyes were put out and he was placed at the Milestone in the Augusteon, with a plate in his hand, into which the passers-by might fling alms-a form of public degradation which gave rise to the fable that the great general Belisarius

1 The description of the coronation is given by Simeon (Cont. Georg. 832-833). This text (cp. also ed. Muralt, 744) is in error when it is said that Photius "took the crown from the Emperor's head and placed it on Basil's"; the writer meant to say, "6 gave it to the Emperor," and 7 Barthely is obviously an error for τῷ βασιλεῖ. The same mistake is found in the vers. Slav. 108, but Leo Gr. 246 éπédWкEV AUTÒ T Baoiλeî, and Theod. Mel. 172 ἀπέδωκεν αὐτῷ βασιλεῖ are closer here to the original text. The ceremony is described in Constantine, Cer. 194 πρῶτον μὲν στέφει ὁ πατρ. τὸν μέγαν βασιλέα, εἶτα ἐπιδίδωσι τῷ μεγ. βασιλεῖ τὸ στέμμα καὶ στέφει ὁ βασιλεὺς τὸν νεοχειροτόνητον βασιλέα. The senior Emperor always crowned the colleague whom he created, unless he were unable to be present; then he assigned the office to the Patriarch. See Bury,

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ended his days as a beggar. A month later Symbatios, who had fled across Asia Minor, was caught in an inn in Keltzênê.1 His right hand was cut off and he was blinded of one eye,2 and placed outside the palace of Lausos in Middle Street, to beg like his comrade. At the end of three days, the two offenders were restored to their abodes, where they were kept under arrest.


The joint reign of Michael and Basil lasted for less than a year and a half. Michael continued to pursue his amusements, but we may suspect that in this latest period of his life his frivolous character underwent a change. He became more reckless in his extravagance, more immoderate in his cups, and cruel in his acts. The horror of his uncle's murder may have cast its shadow, and Basil, for whom he had not the same respect, was unable to exert the same kind of ascendency as Bardas. We cannot suppose that all the essential facts of the situation are disclosed to us in the meagre reports of our chronicles. The following incident can only have marked the beginning of the final stage of intensely strained relations.*

Michael held a horse-race in the Palace of St Mamas. He drove himself as a Blue charioteer, Constantine the Armenian drove as a White, other courtiers as Green and Red. The Emperor won the race, and in the evening he dined with Basil and Eudocia Ingerina, and was complimented by the patrician Basiliskianos 5 on his admirable driving. Michael, delighted by his flattery, ordered him to stand up, to take the

1 Simeon, ib. 834. Keltzênê is the classical Akilisênê, called Ekelesênê by Procopius (B.P. i. 17); 'Ekeλevšívη, Mansi, xi. 613; KEλTSηvý, Nova Tactica, ed. Gelzer, 78. It lies on the left bank of the Euphrates, north of Sophene, east of Dardanalis; its chief town was Erez, now Erzinjan, northeast of Ani (Theodosiopolis). For a geographical description see Adonts, Armeniia v epokhu Iustiniana, 48, 52 sqq. According to Cont. Th. 240, Symbatios occupied the fort Ts πλατείας πέτρας; we do not know where this was. Simeon, ib.,.states that when Symbatios arrived in the capital, Pêganês was brought to meet him, holding a clay censer in his hand with sulphur to fumigate him,-a mysterious performance.

2 According to Cont. Th. 241, of both eyes, and, according to this source the nose of Pêganês was slit.

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3 In late writers, the Emperor is designated as Michael the Drunkard (μelvoτýs), e.g. Glycas, ed. Bonn, 541, 546. Cp. Gen. 113 οἰνοφλυγίας, and Cont. Th. 251-252.

4 Our only useful source here is Simeon. Gen. and Cont. Th. slur over the murder of Michael, and exonerate Basil. According to Gen. 113, Basil's friends advised him to slay Michael, but he declined, and they did the deed themselves.

5 In Cont. Th. 250, he is called Basilikinos, where we learn that he was a brother of Constantine Kapnogenes who was afterwards Prefect of the City, and that he was one of Michael's fellows in his religious mummeries. According to this source (Constantine Porph.), Michael arrayed him in full Imperial dress and introduced him to the Senate with some doggrel verses.


red boots from his own feet and put them on. hesitated and looked at Basil, who signed to him not to obey. The Emperor furiously commanded him to do as he was bidden, and turning on Basil cried with an oath, "The boots become him better than you. I made you Emperor, and have I not the power to create another Emperor if I will?" Eudocia in tears, remonstrated: "The Imperial dignity is great, and we, unworthy as we are, have been honoured with it. It is not right that it should be brought into contempt." Michael replied, "Do not fear; I am perfectly serious; I am ready to make Basiliskianos Emperor." This incident seriously alarmed Basil. Some time later when Michael was hunting, a monk met him and gave him a paper which purposed to reveal a plot of Basil against his life. He then began to harbour designs against his colleague. He had small chance against

such an antagonist.

Basil struck the blow on Sept. 24, A.D. 867.2 Michael had bidden him and Eudocia to dinner in the Palace of St. Mamas. When Michael had drunk deeply, Basil made an excuse to leave the room, and entering the Imperial bedchamber tampered with the bolts of the door so that it could not be locked. He then returned to the table, and when the Emperor became drunk as usual, he conducted him to his bed and kissing his hand went out. The Keeper of the Private Wardrobe, who was accustomed to sleep in the Emperor's room, was absent on a commission, and Basiliskianos had been commanded to take his place. Michael sank on his bed in

1 Cont. Th. 249 (cp. 209) asserts an actual attempt on Basil's life in the hunting-field.

2 Tb. 210.

3 The Empress Theodora (who was now at liberty, see above, p. 169) had invited her son to dinner in the house of Anthemios, and Michael had ordered Rentakios, Keeper of the Wardrobe, to kill some game to send to his mother. Hirsch (66) has misapprehended this, for he says, “Theodora giebt ja im Palaste des Anthemios jenes Gastmahl, nach welchem Michael ermordet wird." It is clear that Theodora's dinner was to be held on a subsequent day; it is mentioned by Simeon only to account for the absence

of the Protovestiarios. Michael was murdered in the Palace of St. Mamas. That Theodora had been restored to liberty, though not to power, by a.d. 866, is illustrated by the letter which Pope Nicolas addressed to her (Nov. 866). But we can fix the resumption of her honours as Augusta to an earlier date, A.D. 863, for in triumphal aкта in Constantine, Cer. 332, which belong as I have shown to that year, "the honourable Augustae" celebrated; see below, p. 284, n. 4. The house of Anthemios (τὰ ̓Ανθεμίου) means perhaps not a 'palace," but (as Pargoire thinks, Boradion, 474) the monastery founded by her son-inlaw Alexios in the suburban quarter of Anthemios (see above, p. 127).




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