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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," 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
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.1
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. 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.
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).
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
2 Syllaion was near the inland Kibyra (see Anderson's Map of Asia Minor).
3 Scr. Incert. 351.
Ignatius, Vit. Nic. Patr. 165 Td πρὸς τρυφὴν συῶν δίκην ἀποτάξας αὐτοῖς σιτηρέσιον.
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."'
In December the work of the commission was completed and the Emperor summoned Nicephorus to a private interview in the Palace. 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'Egl. byz. 55-56.
2 This interview is described by Scr. Incert. 352-353.
in A.D. 787 had settled the question of image-worship for
Soon after these preliminary parleys, soldiers of the Tagmata or residential regiments showed their sympathies by attacking the Image of Christ over the Brazen Gate of the Palace. It was said that this riot was suggested and encouraged by Leo; and the inscription over the image, telling how Irene erected a new icon in the place of that which Leo III. destroyed, might stimulate the fury of those who revered the memory of the Isaurian Emperors. Mud and stones were hurled by the soldiers at the sacred figure, and then the Emperor innocently said, "Let us take it down, to save it from these insults." This was the first overt act in the new campaign, and the Patriarch thought it high time to summon a meeting of bishops and abbots to discuss the danger which was threatening the Church. The convocation was held in the Patriarch's palace. All those who were present swore to stand fast by the doctrine laid down at the Seventh Council, and they read over the passages which their opponents cited against them.' When Christmas came, Nicephorus begged the Emperor to remove him from the pontifical chair if he (Nicephorus) were unpleasing in his eyes, but to make no innovations in the Church. To this Leo replied by disclaiming either intention.2
These preliminary skirmishes occurred before Christmas (A.D. 814). On Christmas day it was noticed by curious and watchful eyes that Leb adored in public a cloth on which the birth of Christ was represented. But on the next great feast of the Church, the day of Epiphany, it was likewise observed that he did not adore, according to custom. Meanwhile, the iconoclastic party was being reinforced by proselytes, and the Emperor looked forward to a speedy settlement of the question in his own favour at a general synod. He issued a summons to the bishops of the various dioceses in the Empire to 133-135; Ebersolt, Sainte-Sophie de Constantinople, 26-27 (1910).
1 The riot of the soldiers and the meeting of the bishops occurred in December before Christmas: so expressly Scr. Incert. 355 raûra éπρáxon πрò Tŵν éоρTŵv. C. Thomas (ib. 107, n. 5) seems to have overlooked this. The Patriarch's palace was on the south side of St. Sophia, probably towards the east; see Bieliaev, ii.
assemble in the capital, and perhaps stirred the prelates of Hellas to undertake the journey by a reminiscence flattering to their pride. He reminded them that men from Mycenae in Argolis, men from Carystos in Euboea, men from Corinth, and many other Greeks, joined the Megarians in founding that colony of the Bosphorus which had now grown to such great estate.1 According as they arrived, they were conducted straightway to the Emperor's presence, and were prohibited from first paying a visit to the Patriarch, as was the usual practice. The Emperor wished to act on their hopes or fears before they had been warned or confirmed in the faith by the words of their spiritual superior; and this policy was regarded as one of his worst acts of tyranny. Many of the bishops submitted to the arguments or to the veiled threats of their sovran, and those who dared to resist his influence were kept in confinement. The Patriarch in the meantime encouraged. his own party to stand fast. He was supported by the powerful interest of the monks, and especially by Theodore, abbot of Studion, who had been his adversary a few years ago. A large assembly of the faithful was convoked in the Church of St. Sophia, and a service lasting the whole night was celebrated.3 Nicephorus prayed for the conversion of the Emperor, and confirmed his followers in their faith.
The Emperor was not well pleased when the news reached the Palace of the doings in the Church. About the time of cockcrow he sent a message of remonstrance to the Patriarch and suminoned him to appear in the Palace at break of day, to explain his conduct. There ensued a second and more famous interview between the Emperor and the Patriarch, when they discussed at large the arguments for and against image-worship. Nicephorus doubtless related to his friends the substance of what was said, and the admirers of that saint afterwards wrote elaborate accounts of the dialogue, which they found a grateful subject for exhibiting learning,