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in a subterranean prison.1 But he presently released him, and Methodius, who, though an inflexible image-worshipper, was no fanatic, lived in the Palace on good terms with the Emperor, who esteemed his learning, and showed him high honour.2
Of the measures adopted by Theophilus for the suppression of icon-worship by cutting off the supply of pictures we know nothing on authority that can be accepted as good. It is stated that he forbade religious pictures to be painted, and that he cruelly tortured Lazarus, the most eminent painter of the time. There is probably some truth behind both statements, and the persecution of monks, with which he is charged, may be explained by his endeavours to suppress the painting of pictures. Theophilus did not penalise monks on account of their profession; for we know from other facts that he was not opposed to monasticism. But they were the religious artists of the age, and we may conjecture that many of those who incurred his displeasure were painters.
If we review the ecclesiastical policy of Theophilus in the light of the few facts which are certain and compare it with other persecutions to which Christians have at various times resorted to force their opinions upon differing souls, it is obviously absurd to describe it as extraordinarily severe. The list of cases of cruel maltreatment is short. That many obscure monks besides underwent distress and privation we cannot doubt; but such distress seems to have been due to a severer enforcement of the same rule which Michael II. had applied to Theodore of Studion and his friends. Those
he was imprisoned. Released by the intercession of Theodora, he retired to the cloister of Phoberon, where he painted a picture of John the Baptist (to whom the cloister was dedicated), extant in the tenth century. After the death of Theophilus he painted a Christ for the palace-gate of Chalkê. It seems incredible that he could have continued to work after the operation on his hands. Lazarus is mentioned in Lib. Pont. ii. 147, 150, as bearer of a present which Michael III. sent to St. Peter's at Rome, and is described as genere Chazarus. The visit to Rome is mentioned in Synaxar. Cpl. 233, where he is said to have been sent a second time and to have died on the way.
who would not acquiesce in the synod of Leo V. and actively defied it were compelled to leave the city. The monastery of Phoberon, at the north end of the Bosphorus, seems to have been one of the chief refuges for the exiles.1 This brings us to the second characteristic of the persecution of Theophilus, its geographical limitation. Following in his father's traces, he insisted upon the suppression of pictures only in Constantinople itself and its immediate neighbourhood. Iconoclasm was the doctrine of the Emperor and the Patriarch, but they did not insist upon its consequences beyond the precincts of the capital. So far as we can see, throughout the second period of iconoclasm, in Greece and the islands and on the coasts of Asia Minor, image-worship flourished without let or hindrance, and the bishops and monks were unaffected by the decrees of Leo V. This salient fact has not been realised by historians, but it sets the persecution of Theophilus in a different light. He would not allow pictures in the churches of the capital; and he drove out all active picture-worshippers and painters, to indulge themselves in their heresy elsewhere. It was probably only in a few exceptional cases that he resorted to severe punishment.
The females of the Emperor's household were devoted to images, and the secret opinion of Theodora must have been well known known to Theophilus. The situation occasioned anecdotes turning on the motive that the Empress and her mother Theodora kept a supply of icons, but kept them well out of sight. The Emperor had a misshapen fool and jester, named Denderis, whose appearance reminded the courtiers of the Homeric Thersites.2 Licensed to roam at large through the Palace, he burst one day into Theodora's bedchamber and found her kissing sacred images.3
1 εὐκτήριον Προδρόμου (St. John Baptist)" rò οὕτω καλούμενον τοῦ Φοβεροῦ κατὰ τὸν Εὔξεινον πόντον (Cont. Th. 101). The monks of the Abraamite monastery (which possessed a famous image of Christ impressed on a cloth, and a picture of the Virgin ascribed to St. Luke) were expelled to Phoberon, and said to have been beaten to death (ib.). The monastery of St. Abraamios was outside the city, near the Golden Gate (Leo Diaconus, 47-48). It was called the Acheiropoietos, from
When he curiously asked
the miraculous image. Legend ascribed its foundation to Constantine (cp. Ducange, Const. Chr. iv. 80), but it was probably not older than the sixth century. Cp. Pargoire, "Les débuts de monachisme à Constantinople" (Revue des questions historiques, lxv., 1899) 93 sqq.
2 Cont. Th. 91.
3 The scene is represented in the Madrid Skylitzes, and reproduced by Beylié, L'Habitation byzantine, 120.
what they were, she said, "They are my pretty dolls, and I love them dearly." He then went to the Emperor, who was sitting at dinner. Theophilus asked him where he had been. With nurse, said Denderis (so he used to call Theodora)," and I saw her taking such pretty dolls out of a cushion." The Emperor comprehended. In high wrath he rose at once from table, sought Theodora, and overwhelmed her with reproaches as an idolatress. But the lady met him. with a ready lie. It is not as you suppose," she said; “I and some of my maids were looking in the mirror, and Denderis took the reflexions for dolls and told you a foolish story." Theophilus, if not satisfied, had to accept the explanation, and Theodora carefully warned Denderis not to mention the dolls again. When Theophilus asked him one day whether nurse had again kissed the pretty dolls, Denderis, placing one hand on his lips and the other on his posterior parts, said, "Hush, Emperor, don't mention the dolls."
Another similar anecdote is told of the Emperor's motherin-law, Theoktiste, who lived in a house of her own,2 where she was often visited by her youthful granddaughters. She sought to imbue them with a veneration for pictures and to counteract the noxious influence of their father's heresy. She would produce the sacred forms from the box in which she kept them, and press them to the faces and lips of the young
1 παρὰ τὴν μάναν.
2 Cont. Th. 90. The house was known as Gastria. She had bought it from Nicetas, and afterwards converted it into a monastery. It was in the quarter of Psamathia, in the southwest of the city. Paspates (Buš. μeλ. 354-357) has identified it with the ruinous building Sanjakdar Mesjedi (of which he gives a drawing), which lies a little to the north of the Armenian Church of St. George (where St. Mary Peribleptos used to stand). Gastria is interpreted as flower-pots in the story told in the Πάτρια Κπλ. 215, where the foundation of the cloister is ascribed to St. Helena, who is said to have brought back from Jerusalem the flowers which grew over the place where she had discovered the cross, and planted them in pots (yáσrpas) on this spot. Paspates points out that
the abundance of water in the grounds below the Sanjakdar mosque favours the tradition that there was a flowergarden there, and this would explain the motive of the Helena legend. Mr. van Millingen is disposed to think that the identification Paspates may be right, but he suggests that the extant building was originally a library, not a church. The good Abbé Marin, who accepts without question all the monastic foundations of Constantinian date, thinks there was a monastic foundation at Gastria before Theoktiste. The evidence for Constantinian monasteries has been drastically dealt with by Pargoire, "Les Débuts de monachisme à Constantinople," in the Revue des questions historiques, lxv. 67 sqq. (1899).
girls. Their father, suspecting that they were being tainted with the idolatrous superstition, asked them one day, when they returned from a visit to their grandmother, what presents she had given them and how they had been amused. The older girls saw the trap and evaded his questions, but Pulcheria, who was a small child, truthfully described how her grandmother had taken a number of dolls from a box and pressed them upon the faces of herself and her sisters. Theophilus was furious, but it would have been odious to take any severe measure against the Empress's mother, who was highly respected for her piety. All he could do was to prevent his daughters from visiting her as frequently as before.
§ 4. Death of Theophilus and Restoration of Icon Worship
Theophilus died of dysentery on January 20, A.D. 842.2 His last illness was disturbed by the fear that his death would be followed by a revolution against the throne of his infant son. The man who seemed to be the likely leader of a movement to overthrow his dynasty was Theophobos, a somewhat mysterious general, who was said to be of Persian descent and had commanded the Persian troops in the Imperial service.3 Theophobos was an "orthodox” Christian,1 but he was one of the Emperor's right-hand men in the eastern wars, and had been honoured with the hand of his sister or sister-in-law.5 He had been implicated some years before in a revolt, but had been restored to favour and lived in the Palace. It is said that he was popular in Constantinople, and the Emperor may have had good reasons for thinking that he might aspire with success to the supreme power. From his deathbed he ordered Theophobos to be cast into a dungeon of the Bucoleon Palace, where he was secretly decapitated at night."
1 Theoktiste is represented giving an icon to Pulcheria, the other daughters standing behind, in a miniature in the Madrid Skylitzes (see reproduction in Beylié, op. cit. 56). 2 Cont. Th. 139.
3 See below, p. 252 sq.
4 Simeon, Add. Georg. 803 (cp. Gen. 6110),
Ib. 793. See below, p. 253.
6 Gen. 59.
7 Gen. 60, and Add. Georg. 810, where Petronas, with the logothete (i.e. Theoktistos), is said to have performed the decapitation. The alternative account given by Gen. 60-61 has no value, as Hirsch pointed out, p. 142, but it is to be noticed that Ooryphas is there stated to have been drungarios of the watch. We meet a
Exercising a constitutional right of his sovran authority, usually employed in such circumstances, the Emperor had appointed two regents to act as his son's guardians and assist the Empress, namely, her uncle Manuel, the chief Magister, and Theoktistos, the Logothete of the Course, who had proved himself a devoted servant of the Amorian house. It is possible that Theodora's brother Bardas was a third regent, but this cannot be regarded as probable. The position of Theodora closely resembled that of Irene during the minority of Constantine. The government was carried on in the joint names of the mother and the son, but the actual exercise of Imperial authority devolved upon the mother provisionally. Yet there was a difference in the two cases. Leo IV., so far as we know, had not appointed any regents or guardians of his son to act with Irene, so that legally she had the supreme power entirely in her hands; whereas Theodora was as unable to act without the concurrence of Manuel and Theoktistos as they were unable to act without her.
It has been commonly thought that Theophilus had hardly closed his eyes before his wife and her advisers made such pious haste to repair his ecclesiastical errors that a council was held and the worship of images restored, almost as a matter of course, a few weeks after his death.
person or persons of this name
have devolved on the Prefect, not on the admiral, and I conclude that Nicetas Ooryphas was prefect in A.D. 860, and drungarios in A.D. 867 (such changes of office were common in Byzantium), and that the author of Vit. Ign. knowing him by the later office, in which he was most distinguished, described him erroneously. Ooryphas the drungarios of the watch may be identical with (1); but I suspect there is a confusion with Petronas, who seems to have held that office at one time in the reign of Theophilus (see above, p. 122).
1 In the same way the Emperor Alexander appointed seven guardians (TirpоTO) for his nephew Constantine, A. D. 913. The boy's mother Zoe was not included. Cont. Th. 380.
2 It is safest to follow Gen. 77. Bardas was probably added by Cont. Th. (148) suo Marte, on account of his prominent position a few years later. So Uspenski, Ocherki, 25.