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perfectly satisfactory and successful in securing the peace of the Church.
All this, however, must have been as obvious to Leo the Armenian as it seems to us. He cannot have failed to realize the powerful opposition which a revival of iconoclasm would arouse; yet he resolved to disturb the tranquil condition of the ecclesiastical world and enter upon a dangerous and disagreeable conflict with the monks.
Most of the Eastern Emperors were theologians as well as statesmen, and it is highly probable that Leo's personal conviction of the wrongfulness of icon-worship,' and the fact that this conviction was shared by many prominent people and widely diffused in the Asiatic Themes, would have been sufficient to induce him to revive an aggressive iconoclastic policy. But there was certainly another motive which influenced his decision. It was a patent fact that the iconoclastic Emperors had been conspicuously strong and successful rulers, whereas the succeeding period, during which the worship of images had been encouraged or permitted, was marked by weakness and some signal disasters. The day is not yet entirely past for men, with vague ideas of the nexus of cause and effect, to attribute the failures and successes of nations to the wrongness or soundness of their theological beliefs; and even now some who read the story of Leo's reign may sympathize with him in his reasoning that the iconoclastic doctrine was proved by events to be pleasing in the sight of Heaven. We are told that " he imitated the Isaurian Emperors Leo and Constantine, whose heresy he revived, wishing to live many years like them and to become illustrious."
To the ardent admirer of Leo the Isaurian, his own name seemed a good omen in days when men took such coincidences seriously; and to make the parallel between his own case and that of his model nearer still, he changed the Armenian name of his eldest son Symbatios and designated him Constantine. The new Constantine was crowned and proclaimed Augustus at the end of 813, when the Bulgarians were still
1 That the iconoclastic policy of Leo III. and Constantine V. is not to be explained by "considerations of administrative and military interest' has been shown by Lombard, Con
stantin V, cap. viii.
devastating in Thrace or just after they had retreated, and it pleased Leo to hear the soldiers shouting the customary acclamations in honour of "Leo and Constantine." Propitious names inaugurated an Armenian dynasty which might rival the Isaurian.
Stories were told in later times, by orthodox fanatics who execrated his memory, of sinister influences which were brought to bear on Leo and determine his iconoclastic policy. And here, too, runs a thread of that drama in which he was one of the chief actors. The prophecy of the hermit of Philomelion had come to pass, and it is said that Leo, in grateful recognition, sent a messenger with costly presents to seek out the true prophet. But when the messenger arrived at Philomelion he found that the man was dead and that another monk named Sabbatios had taken possession of his hut. Sabbatios was a zealous opponent of image-worship, and he prophesied to the messenger in violent language. The Empress Irene he reviled as "Leopardess" and "Bacchant," he perverted the name of Tarasius to "Taraxios" (Disturber), and he foretold that God would overturn the throne of Leo if Leo did not overturn images and pictures.1
The new prophecy from Philomelion is said to have alarmed the Emperor, and he consulted his friend Theodotos Kassiteras on the matter. We already met this Theodotos playing a part in the story of the possessed damsel who foretold Leo's elevation. Whatever basis of fact these stories may have, we can safely infer that Theodotos was an intimate adviser of the Emperor. On this occasion, according to the tale, he did not deal straightforwardly with his master. He advised Leo to consult a certain Antonius, a monk who resided in the capital; but in the meantime Theodotos himself secretly repaired to Antonius and primed him for the coming interview. It was arranged that Antonius should urge the Emperor to adopt the doctrine of Leo the Isaurian and should prophesy that he would reign till his seventy-second year. Leo, dressed as a private individual, visited the monk at night, and his faith
1 Gen. 13 (repeated in Cont. Th.). It may be one of the tales which Genesios derived from rumour (ńμn), but it is also told in the Epist. Synod. Orient. ad Theoph. 368, where Sabbatios
describes himself as Sesuch the lord of earthquakes, addresses Leo as Alexander," and prophesies that he will reduce the Bulgarians if he abolishes icons.
was confirmed when Antonius recognized him. which, of course, we cannot unreservedly believe, became current at the time, and was handed down to subsequent generations in a verse pasquinade composed by Theophanes Confessor.1
The Emperor discovered a valuable assistant in a young man known as John the Grammarian,2 who had the distinction of earning as many and as bitter maledictions from the orthodox party of the time and from subsequent orthodox historians as were ever aimed at Manes or at Arius or at Leo III. He was one of the most learned men of his day, and, like most learned men who fell foul of the Church in the middle ages, he was accused of practising the black art. His accomplishments and scientific ability will appear more conspicuously when we meet him again some years hence as an illustrious figure in the reign of Theophilus. He was known by several names. We meet him as John the Reader, more usually as John the Grammarian; but those who detested him used the opprobrious titles of Hylilas,3 by which they understood a forerunner and coadjutor of the devil, or Lekanomantis, meaning that he conjured with a dish. His parentage, if the account is true, was characteristic. He was the son of one Pankratios, a hermit, who from childhood had been possessed with a demon. But all the statements of our authorities with respect to John are coloured by animosity because he was an iconoclast. Patriarchs and monks loved to drop a vowel of his name and call him "Jannes" after the celebrated magician, just as they loved to call the Emperor Leo "Chame-leon."
The project of reviving iconoclasm was begun warily and silently; Leo had determined to make careful preparations before he declared himself. At Pentecost, 814, John the Grammarian, assisted by several colleagues, began to prepare
1 Gen. 15.
2 See Scr. Incert. 349, 350.
3 Ib. It is not quite clear, however, whether this obscure name was applied to John or to Pankratios his father. Pseudo-Simeon (606) interprets the passage in the former sense, and I have followed him. See Hirsch, 332. He belonged to the family of the Morocharzamioi (Morocharzanioi
in Cedrenus, ii. 144), Cont. Th. 154— a distinguished family in Constantinople, which St. Martin (apud Lebeau, xiii. 14) thinks was of Armenian origin. His brother bore the Armenian name Arsaber, and his father's name Pankratios may be a hellenization of Bagrat.
4 Besides Bishop Antonius, mentioned below, the other members of
an elaborate work against the worship of images. The Emperor provided him with full powers to obtain access to any libraries that he might wish to consult. Rare and ancient books were scattered about in monasteries and churches, and this notice suggests that it was not easy for private individuals to obtain permission to handle them. It is said that the zeal of the scholar was increased by a promise of Leo, to appoint him Patriarch, in case it should be found necessary to remove Nicephorus. John and his colleagues collected many books and made an extensive investigation. Of course their opponents alleged that they found only what they sought, and sought only for passages which might seem to tell in favour of iconoclasm, while they ignored those which told against it. The Acts of the Synod of 753 gave them many references, and we are told how they placed marks in the books at the relevant passages.
It was desirable to have a bishop in the commission, and in July a suitable person was found in Antonius, the bishop of Syllaion in Pamphylia.2 He is said to have been originally a lawyer and a schoolmaster, and in consequence of some scandal to have found it advisable to enter a monastery. He became an abbot, and, although his behaviour was loose and unseemly, "God somehow allowed him" to become bishop of Syllaion. His indecent behaviour seems to have consisted in amusing the young monks with funny tales and practical jokes. He was originally orthodox and only adopted the heresy in order to curry favour at the Imperial Court. Such is the sketch of the man drawn by a writer who was violently prejudiced against him and all his party.3
Private apartments in the Palace were assigned to the committee, and the bodily wants of the members were so well provided for that their opponents described them as living like pigs. In the tedious monotony of their work they were consoled by delicacies supplied from the Imperial kitchen, and εἰς τοὺς τόπους ἔνθα ηὕρισκον).
2 Syllaion was near the inland Kibyra (see Anderson's Map of Asia Minor).
3 Scr. Incert. 351.
Ignatius, Vit. Nic. Patr. 165 Tò πρὸς τρυφὴν συῶν δίκην ἀποτάξας αὐτοῖς σιτηρέσιον.
the commission were the laymen Joannes Spektas and Eutychianos, members of the Senate, and the monks Leontios and Zosimas (Theosteriktos, Vit. Nicet. xxix., who adds that Zosimas soon afterwards died in consequence of having his nose cut off as a punishment for adultery).
Scr. Incert. 350 (onμádia BáλλovTes
while the learning and subtlety of John lightened the difficulties of the labour, the jests and buffoonery of the bishop might enliven the hours of relaxation. The work of research was carried on with scrupulous secrecy. Whenever any curious person asked the students what they were doing they said, "The Emperor commissioned us to consult these books, because some one told him that he has only a short time to reign; that is the object of our search." 1
In December the work of the commission was completed and the Emperor summoned Nicephorus to a private interview in the Palace.2 Leo advocated the iconoclastic policy on the ground that the worship of images was a scandal in the army. "Let us make a compromise," he said, “to please the soldiers, and remove the pictures which are hung low." But Nicephorus was not disposed to compromise; he knew that compromise in this matter would mean defeat. When Leo reminded him that image-worship was not ordained in the Gospels and laid down that the Gospels were the true standard of orthodoxy, Nicephorus asserted the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in successive ages. This interview probably did not last very long. The Patriarch was firm and the Emperor polite. Leo was not yet prepared to proceed to extremes, and Nicephorus still hoped for his conversion, even as we are told that Pope Gregory II. had hoped for the conversion of his Isaurian namesake.
The policy of the orthodox party at this crisis was to refuse to argue the question at issue. The Church had already declared itself on the matter in an Ecumenical Council; and to doubt the decision of the Church was heretical. And so when Leo proposed that some learned bishops whom the Patriarch had sent to him should hold a disputation with some learned iconoclasts, the Emperor presiding, they emphatically declined, on the ground that the Council of Nicaea
1 According to the Epist. Synod. Orient. ad Theoph. 373, Nicephorus at length obtained an inkling of what was going on in the Palace and summoned a synod in St. Sophia, at which he charged the members of the commission with heretical opinions; and the synod anathematized Antonius. It may be questioned whether the authors of this document were accu
rately informed. See C. Thomas, Theodor, 104, n. 2. The synod, at which 270 ecclesiastics are said to have been present, was doubtless a σύνοδος ἐνδημοῦσα, for which see Hergenröther, i. 38, and Pargoire, L'Égl. byz. 55-56.
2 This interview is described by Scr. Incert. 352-353.