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appointed in her chance of empire, Kasia resolved to renounce the world, and a letter of Theodore, the abbot of Studion, is preserved in which he approves of her design, and compliments her on the learning and skill of some literary compositions which she had sent him.1
The pleasing story of the bride-show of Theophilus, in which Kasia is the heroine, did not find favour with the monk who wrote an edifying biography of the sainted Theodora. He would not allow that she owed her elevation to the too ready tongue of her rival who had presumed to measure wits with the Emperor, and he invented a different story in which Kasia is ignored.2 According to this frigid fiction, Theophilus selected seven of the maidens, gave each of them an apple, and summoned them again on the morrow. He asked each of them for her apple, but the apples were not forthcoming. Theodora alone produced hers, and along with it offered a second to the Emperor. "This first apple, which I have kept safe," she said, "is the emblem of my maidenhood; the second, do not decline it, is the fee 3 of the son which shall be born to us.' When Theophilus, in amazement, asked her to explain this "oracle," she told him that at Nicomedia, on her way to Constantinople, she had visited a holy man who lived in a tower, and that he had prophesied her elevation to the throne and had given her the apple.1
Christ and Paranikas, Anth. Graeca carm. Christianorum, 103-104; another in Krumbacher, 347 sqq. Krumbacher has shown that her name was Kasia, not Eikasia or Ikasia as the chronicle has, and he conjectures that Elkaσía arose from Kaoía (317). Accepting the date of the bride-show as c. 830, he places her birth c. 810; but the true date of the marriage of Theophilus shows that the year of her birth must have been in the neighbourhood of 800. She was still a very young girl when she decided to become a nun (see next note), so that we might conjecture the date to be c. 804.
1 Ep. 270, Cozza - Luzi (cp. A. Gardner, Theodore, 266 sqq.). The tenth-century author of the IIárpia Królews (ed. Preger, 276) notices the convent founded by Kasia and describes her as τῆς μοναχῆς, εὐπρεποῦς καὶ εὖλαβοῦς καὶ σεβασμιᾶς γυναικός, ὡραίας τῷ
εἴδει, τῆς τε κάνονας καὶ στίχους ποιησάσης ἐν τοῖς χρόνοις Θεοφίλου καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ. The convent seems to have been somewhere on the Seventh Hill, near the Constantinian Wall (cp. van Millingen, Walls, 22-23).
2 Vita Theodorae, 4. Melioranski characterises this narrative as polemical pendant" to the story of Kasia (Iz sem. ist. 12). He thinks that the use of ἀμφοτέρας, p. 3, is an allusion to Kasia's rivalry; but ἀμφοτέρας here means all.
The beauty of Theodora was celebrated in Spain by the poet Yahya al-Ghazzal, who was sent by Abd arRahman as an envoy to the Court of Theophilus (A.D. 839-840). He was conversing with the Emperor when Theodora entered "dressed in all her finery a rising sun in beauty. AlGhazzal was so surprised that he could not take his eyes from her," and
§ 2. The Civil War (A.D. 821-823)
Of the three actors in the historical drama which was said to have been shadowed forth by the soothsayer of Philomelion, one has passed finally from the scene. The last act is to take the form of a conflict between the two survivors, Michael of Amorion and Thomas of Gaziura. This conflict is generally known as the rebellion of Thomas, but it assumed the dimensions and the dignity of a civil war. Two rivals fought for a crown, which one of them had seized, but could not yet be said to have firmly grasped. Michael had been regularly elected, acclaimed, and crowned in the capital, and he had the advantage of possessing the Imperial city. His adversary had the support of most of the Asiatic provinces ; he was only a rebel because he failed.
We have seen how Thomas clung to his master and patron Bardanes whom others had deserted (A.D. 803). When the cause of Bardanes was lost, he probably saved himself by fleeing to Syria and taking up his abode among the Saracens,1 with whom he had lived before. For in the reign of Irene he had entered the service of a patrician,2 and, having been discovered in an attempt to commit adultery with his master's wife, he was constrained to seek a refuge in the dominions of the Caliph, where he seems to have lived for a considerable time. His second sojourn there lasted for
ceased to attend to the conversation. Theophilus expressed astonishment at his rudeness, and the poet said to the interpreter, "Tell thy master that I am so captivated by the charms of this queen that I am prevented from listening. Say that I never saw in my life a handsomer woman.' "He then began to describe one by one all her charms, and to paint his amazement at her incomparable beauty, and concluded by saying that she had captivated him with her black eyes" (Makkari, ii. 115).
1 There is an explicit statement in the Acta Davidis (a well-informed source), 232 having served Bardanes, he fled, on account of misdeeds, to the Saracens and lay quiet during the reigns of Nicephorus, Stauracius, Michael I., and a great part of Leo's
reign (this is incorrect). Michael II., in Ep. ad Lud. 417, says that he abode among the unbelievers until the reign of Leo, and during that time became a Mohammadan in order to gain influence with the Saracens.
2 For a discussion of the difficulties, see Bury, B.Z. i. 55 sqq., where it is shown that the patrician was not Bardanes, as Genesios alleges (35). Michael (Ep. ad Lud., ib.) does not name the patrician. The fact seems to be that Thomas first fled c. A.D. 788, and only returned in A. D. 803 to assist Bardanes; so that he might be roughly described as having lived with the Saracens for twenty-five years (Gen. ib.). This I now believe to be the true explanation of the twenty-five years, and not that which I suggested loc.
about ten years (A.D. 803-813). We saw how he received a military command from his old fellow-officer, Leo the Armenian, and he rose in arms shortly before that Emperor's death.1
If he was tempted to rise against Leo, much more was he tempted to dispute the crown with Michael, with whom he seems to have had a rivalry of old standing.2 Thomas was much the elder of the two; at the time of his rising he was an old man. One of his legs was maimed; but his age and lameness did not impair his activity. The lame man was personally more popular than the lisper; for, while Michael's manners were coarse and brusque, Thomas was courteous and urbane.3 His Slavonic origin hardly counted against him;* men were by this time becoming familiar with Romaeized Slavs.
But Thomas did not come forward as himself; and this is a strange feature of the rebellion which it is difficult to understand. He did not offer himself to the inhabitants of Asia Minor as Thomas of Gaziura, but he pretended that he was really one who was generally supposed to be dead, a crowned Augustus, no other than Constantine the Sixth, son of Irene. That unfortunate Emperor, blinded by the orders of his mother, had died, if not before her dethronement, at all events in the first years of Nicephorus. The operation of blinding had not been performed in public, and a pretender might construct a tale that another had been substituted, and that the true Constantine had escaped. But it is hard to see how the fraud could have been successful even for a time in the case of Thomas. He might easily enough have palmed himself off among barbarian neighbours as the deposed Emperor. Or if he had produced an obscure stranger and given out that this was Constantine who for more than twenty years had lurked in some safe hiding-place, we could understand that the fiction might have imposed on the Themes of Asia. But we cannot easily conceive how one who had been recently before the eye of the world as Thomas, Commander
1 See above, p. 46 and p. 48. 2 Gen. 32 ἀνέκαθεν γὰρ ἀλλήλοις ἀντιπεπονθότως διίσταντο.
3 Cont. Th. 53.
4 But observe the εἰ καὶ σκυθίζων τῷ γένει of Genesios, 32. A Slav had
of the Federates, and whose earlier career must have been more or less known by his contemporaries, could suddenly persuade people that all this time he was not himself. One almost suspects that some link in the chain of events is lost which might have explained the feasibility of the deceit. If Thomas had withdrawn for some years to Syria, he might have returned in the new character of an Augustus who was supposed to be dead. And indeed in one account of the rebellion it is implied that he started from Syria, perhaps with some Saracen support at his back.1
The pretender was not content with being Constantine, son of Irene; he resolved, like Constantine the Great, to have a son named Constantius. Accordingly he adopted a man of mongrel race, whose true name is unknown, and called him Constantius. Our record describes this adopted son in terms of the utmost contempt, as a base and ugly mannikin.2 But he must have had some ability, for his "father" trusted him with the command of armies.
It is impossible to distinguish with certainty the early stages of the insurrection of Thomas, or to determine how far it had spread at the time of Michael's accession. He established his power by winning the district of Chaldia, in eastern Pontus. He also secured some strong places in the Armeniac Theme, in which Gaziura, his native town, was situated, but the soldiers of this Theme did not espouse his cause. It was to the eastern provinces that he chiefly looked for support at first, but his power presently extended to the west. The false Constantine and his son could soon reckon the greater part of Asia Minor, from the borders of Armenia to the shores of the Aegean, as their dominion. The Paulician heretics, who were persecuted by Leo, flocked to their standard. They intercepted the taxes which should have been conveyed to Constantinople and used the money for winning adherents to their cause.
The cities which would not voluntarily have acknowledged them were constrained by fear. Soon they could boast that only two armies in Asia had not joined them, the Opsikian and the Armeniac. The patrician Katakylas, Count of Opsikion, was a nephew of Michael, and remained true to his uncle. Olbianos, stratêgos of the Armeniacs, espoused the same cause. But the meagre and disorderly accounts of the war which have reached us do not inform us what Olbianos and Katakylas did, or whether they did anything, to stem the torrent of rebellion. No dates are given, and even the order
of events is obscure.
But if Michael and his supporters made no signal effort to oppose the progress of the danger, the attention of Thomas was diverted to another enemy. The civil war in the Empire was an opportunity for the Caliph, and the Saracens began to make excursions in the Roman lands which were left insufficiently protected, as the regular defenders had abandoned their posts to swell the army of Thomas. Perhaps the murmurs of his soldiers1 convinced Thomas that he must relinquish for a time his war against his countrymen to repel the common foe. But if he was yielding to the wishes. of his followers, in taking measures to protect their homes, he made a skilful use of the danger and turned it completely to his own advantage. His long sojourns among the Moslems stood him in good stead now. His first movement was to invade Syria 2 and display his immense forces to the astonished eyes of the Saracens. Perhaps such a large Roman army had seldom passed the Taurus since Syria had become a Saracen possession. But the object of this invasion was not to harry or harm the invaded lands, but rather to frighten the enemy into making a treaty with such a powerful commander. The design was crowned with success. The Caliph Mamun empowered persons in authority to meet the pretender, and a compact of alliance was arranged. Thomas or Constantine was recognised as Emperor of the Romans by the Commander of the Faithful, who undertook to help him to dethrone his rival. In return for this service, Thomas is said to have
1 Cont. Th. 54. This point is not in Genesios.
εἰς τὴν αὐτῶν εἰσβάλλων.
Genesios does not mention this movement. The Syrian episode evidently belongs to the summer of A.D. 821.