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over the world, and profoundly influenced the development of the art of the early Church. Alexandrine decoration, with its landscapes, idyllic scenes, mythological themes, still life, and realistic portraits, came to life again in the iconoclastic period; a school of secular artists, who worked for the Emperors and the Court, arose; and the spirit of their work, with its antique inspiration, did not fail to awaken religious painters from their torpor. For the second great period of her art, which coincided with the Macedonian dynasty, Byzantium was chiefly indebted to the iconoclastic sovrans.1 Or rather we should say that art revived under the Amorians, religious art under their successors.
Wealth was a condition of this artistic revival, of which a chief characteristic was rich and costly decoration. In the work of the age of Justinian the richness of the material had been conspicuous; in the subsequent period, when all the resources of the State were strained in a life and death struggle with formidable enemies, there were no funds for the luxuries of art. By the ninth century the financial prosperity of the Empire had revived; the Imperial coffers were well filled; and the Emperors could indulge their taste or their pride in artistic magnificence. In the flourishing condition of the minor arts of the jeweller and the enameller, from the ninth to the twelfth century, we may also see an indication of the wealth of Constantinople. Here, too, we may probably suspect oriental influence. The jewellers did not abandon repoussé work, but they devoted themselves more and more to the colour effects of enamel decoration; the richest altars and chalices, crosses and the caskets which contained crosses or relics, the gold and silver cups and vessels in the houses of the rich, goldembroidered robes, the bindings of books, all shone with cloisonné enamels.2 The cloisonné technique was invented in the East, probably in Persia, and though it seems to have been known at Byzantium in the sixth century, we may ascribe its domestication and the definite abandonment of the old champlevé method to the oriental influences of the ninth. Portable objects with enamel designs, as well as embroidered fabrics,
1 On the formation of a new system of iconography between the ninth and eleventh centuries, see Diehl, 381 sqq. 2 Diehl, op. cit. 642.
A cross preserved in the
treasury of the Sancta Sanctorum at Rome, ascribed to this period, is wrought in cloisonné enamel (not glass).
easily travelled, and were frequently offered by the Emperors to foreign potentates; they must have performed an appreciable part in diffusing in Western Europe the influence of the motives and styles of Byzantine art.1
§ 2. Education and Learning
Among the traditions which the Empire inherited from antiquity, one of the most conspicuous, but not perhaps duly estimated in its importance as, a social fact, was higher education. The children of the well-to-do class, from which the superior administrative officials of the State were mainly drawn, were taught ancient Greek, and gained some acquaintance at least with some of the works of the great classical writers. Illiterateness was a reproach among reputable people; and the possession of literary education by laymen generally and women was a deep-reaching distinction between Byzantine civilisation and the barbarous West, where the field of letters was monopolized by ecclesiastics. It constituted one of the most indisputable claims of Byzantium to superiority, and it had an important social result. In the West the cleavage between the ecclesiastical and lay classes was widened and deepened by the fact that the distinction between them coincided with the distinction between learned and ignorant. In the East there were as many learned laymen as learned monks and priests; and even in divinity the layman was not helplessly at the mercy of the priest, for his education included some smattering of theology. The Patriarchs Tarasius and Nicephorus must have acquired, before they were suddenly moved into the spiritual order, no contemptible knowledge of theology; and Photius, as a layman, was a theological expert. Thus layman and cleric of the better classes met on common ground; there was no pregnant significance in the word clerk; and ecclesiastics never obtained the influence, or played the part, in administra
1 This has been rightly insisted on by Diehl. The enamelled reliquaries preserved at Limbourg and Gran are well known, and there are many fine specimens in the Treasury of St. Mark at Venice, including the Pala d' Oro. An enamelled gold triptych brought in the twelfth century from Constanti
nople to the Abbey of Stavelot in Belgium has recently been sold in London. It contains a relic of the true Cross. Many churches in France and Germany possess rich silks, with embroidered or woven designs, from the factories of Constantinople (tenth and eleventh centuries).
tion and politics which their virtually exclusive possession of letters procured for them in Western Europe.
The circumstance, however it may be explained, that the period from the Saracen invasion in the reign of Heraclius to the beginning of the ninth century is sterile in literary productions, must not be suffered to obscure the fact that the traditions of literary education were not interrupted. There rose no men of eminent secular learning; the Emperors did not encourage it; but Homer did not cease to be read. The ninth century witnessed a remarkable revival of learning and philosophy, and it is highly probable that at Constantinople this intellectual movement stimulated general education, improved its standards, and heightened its value in public opinion. It is to be noticed that our oldest Byzantine manuscripts of classical writers date from this century, the age of Photius, who stands out, not only above all his contemporaries, but above all the Greeks of the Middle Ages, as a scholar of encyclopaedic erudition.
It is, however, in the field of philosophy and science, more definitely than in that of literature and rhetoric, that we can speak of a revival of learning at this period.1 During the reign of Michael III. there were three eminent teachers of philosophy at Constantinople-Photius himself, Constantine who became the apostle of the Slavs, and Leo the mathematician. Both Leo and Constantine were official professors, endowed by the State, and the interest taken by the Court in science and learning is perhaps the greatest title of the Amorian dynasty to importance in the history of Byzantine civilisation. Since the age of Theophilus and Bardas, although some generations were not as fruitful as others, there was no interruption, no dark period, in the literary activity of the Greeks, till the final fall of Constantinople.
Theophilus was a man of culture, and is said to have been taught by John, whom he afterwards raised to the patriarchal throne, and who possessed considerable attainments in science and philosophy. His intimacy with the learned Methodius is also a sign of his interest in speculation. He seems to have realized what had not occurred to his pre
1 This did not escape Gibbon. "In the ninth century we trace the first
dawnings of the restoration of Science"
decessors, that it behoved a proud centre of civilisation like Byzantium to assert and maintain pre-eminence in the intellectual as well as in other spheres. Hitherto it had been taken for granted that all the learning of the world was contained within the boundaries of the Empire, and that the Greeks and Romans alone possessed the vessel of knowledge. Nobody thought of asking, Have we any great savants among us, or is learning on the decline? But the strenuous cultivation of scientific studies at Baghdad under the auspices of Harun and Mamun, and the repute which the Caliphs were winning as patrons of learning and literature, awakened a feeling at the Byzantine court that the Greeks must not surrender their pre-eminence in intellectual culture, the more so as it was from the old Greek masters that in many branches of science the Saracens were learning. If the reports of the magnificence of the palaces of Baghdad stimulated Theophilus to the construction of wonderful buildings in a new style at Constantinople, we may believe that Mamun's example brought home to him the idea that it was a ruler's duty to foster learning. We need not accept the story of the career of Leo, the philosopher and mathematician, as literally exact in all its details, but it probably embodies, in the form of an anecdote, the truth that the influence of suggestion was exercised by the court of Baghdad upon that of Byzantium.
Leo was a cousin of John the Patriarch. He had studied grammar and poetry at Constantinople, but it was in the island of Andros that he discovered a learned teacher who made
him proficient in philosophy and mathematics.1 Having visited many monastic libraries, for the purpose of consulting and purchasing books, he returned to Constantinople, where he lived poorly in a cheap lodging, supporting himself by teaching. His pupils were generally successful. One, to whom he had taught geometry, was employed as a secretary by a stratêgos, whom he accompanied in a campaign in the East. He was taken prisoner and became the slave of a Saracen, who must have been a man of some importance at Baghdad and treated him well. One day his master's conversation turned
1 A monument of the cultivation of science about the time at which Leo was a youthful student exists in the Vatican Library: a manuscript of
Ptolemy's Geography, illustrated in the reign of Leo V. (perhaps at Constantinople) after an older MS. See Diehl, op. cit. 350.
on the Caliph, and he mentioned Mamun's interest in geometry. "I should like," said the Greek youth, "to hear him and his masters discourse on the subject." The presence in Baghdad of a Greek slave who professed to understand geometry came to the ears of Mamun, who eagerly summoned him to the Palace. He was confronted with the Saracen geometers. They described squares and triangles; they displayed a most accurate acquaintance with the nomenclature of Euclid; but they showed no comprehension of geometrical reasoning. At their request, he gave them a demonstration, and they inquired in amazement how many savants of such a quality Constantinople possessed. Many disciples like myself" was the reply, "but not masters." Is your master still alive?" they asked. Yes, but he lives in poverty and obscurity." Then Mamun wrote a letter to Leo, inviting him to come to Baghdad, offering him rich rewards, and promising that the Saracens would bow their heads to his learning. The youth, to whom gifts and honours and permission to return to his country. were promised if he succeeded in his mission, was dispatched as ambassador to Leo. The philosopher discreetly showed the Caliph's letter to Theoktistos, the Logothete of the Course, who communicated the matter to the Emperor. By this means Leo was discovered, and his value was appreciated. Theophilus gave him a salary and established him as a public teacher, at the Church of the Forty Martyrs, between the Augusteon and the Forum of Constantine.1
Mamun is said to have afterwards corresponded with Leo, submitting to him a number of geometrical and astronomical problems. The solutions which he received rendered the Caliph more anxious than ever to welcome the eminent mathematician at his court, and he wrote to Theophilus begging him to send Leo to Baghdad for a short time, as an act of friendship, and offering in return eternal peace and 2000 pounds of gold (£86,400). But the Emperor, treating science as if it were a secret to be guarded like the manufacture of Greek fire, and deeming it bad policy to enlighten
1 In the Middle St. near the Forum of Constantine (cp. Theoph. 267, and Patria, 234). Acc. to Simeon (Add. Georg. 806), Theophilus established him in the palace of Magnaura; but Cont.
Th. 189 has evidently more precise information. In the following reign, Leo did teach in the Magnaura; see below..