Slike stranica



truth is that more than a year elapsed before the triumph of orthodoxy was secured. The first and most pressing care of the regency was not to compose the ecclesiastical schism, but to secure the stability of the Amorian throne; and the question whether iconoclasm should be abandoned depended on the view adopted by the regents as to the effect of a change in religious policy on the fortunes of the dynasty.

For the change was not a simple matter, nor one that could be lightly undertaken. Theodora, notwithstanding her personal convictions, hesitated to take the decisive step. It is a mistake to suppose that she initiated the measures which led to the restoration of pictures. She had a profound belief in her husband's political sagacity; she shrank from altering the system which he had successfully maintained ; 3 and there was the further consideration that, if iconoclasm were condemned by the Church as a heresy, her husband's name would be anathematized. Her scruples were overcome by the arguments of the regents, who persuaded her that the restoration of images would be the surest means to establish the safety of the throne. But when she yielded to these reasons, to the pressure of other members of her own family, and probably to the representations of Methodius, she made it a condition of her consent, that the council which she would

1. The old date was in itself impos- μακαρίτης σοφίας αρκούντως εξείχετο και sible: the change could not have ουδέν των δεόντων αυτώ ελελήθει" και been accomplished in the time. The πώς των εκείνου διαταγμάτων αμνημονήright date is furnished by Sabas, Vit. σαντες εις ετέραν διαγωγήν εκτραπείημεν ; Joannic. 320, where the event is 4 The chief mover was, I have no definitely placed a year after the doubt, Theoktistos. His name alone accession of Michael.

This is con- is mentioned by the contemporary firmed by the date of the death of George Mon. 811 (cp. Vita Theodorae, Methodius, who was Patriarch for four 14). In Gen. he shares the credit years and died June 14, 847 (Vit. with Manuel (78), and in Cont. Th. Joannic. by Simeon Met. 92; the same (148-150) Manuel appears alone as date can be inferred from Theophanes, Theodora's adviser. But the part De ex. S. Niceph. 164). All this was played by Manuel is mixed up with shown for the first time by de Boor, a hagiographical tradition, redoundAngriff der Rhos, 450-453 ; the proofs ing to the credit of the monks of have been restated by Vasil'ev, Viz. Studion, whose prayers were said to i Arab., Pril. iii. ; and the fact is have saved him from certain death now universally accepted by savants, by sickness, on condition of his promisthough many writers still ignorantlying to restore image-worship when repeat the old date.

he recovered. (For the connexion of ? Her hesitation comes out clearly Manuel with the Studites, cp. also in the tradition and must be accepted Vita Nicolai, 916, where Nicolaus is as a fact.

said to have healed Helena, Manuel's 3 Gen. 80 ο έμός ανήρ γε και βασιλεύς wife.)



have to summon should not brand the memory of Theophilus with the anathema of the Church.

Our ignorance of the comparative strength of the two parties in the capital and in the army renders it impossible for to understand the political calculations which determined the Empress and her advisers to act in accordance with her religious convictions. But the sudden assassination of Theophobos by the command of the dying Emperor is a significant indication 2 that a real danger menaced the throne, and that the image-worshippers, led by some ambitious insurgent, would have been ready and perhaps able to overthrow the dynasty.” The event seems to corroborate the justice of their fears. For when they re-established the cult of pictures, iconoclasm died peacefully without any convulsions or rebellions. The case of Theoktistos may be adduced to illustrate the fact that many of those who held high office were not fanatical partisans. He had been perfectly contented with the iconoclastic policy, and was probably a professed iconoclast, but placed in situation where iconoclasm appeared to be a peril to the throne, he was ready to throw it over for the sake of political expediency.

Our brief, vague, and contradictory records supply little certain information as to the manner in which the government conducted the preparations for the defeat of iconoclasm." It is evident that astute management was required; and a considerable time was demanded for the negotiations and intrigues needful to facilitate a smooth settlement.




We may

1 This is an inevitable inference from the traditions.

2 Cp. Uspenski, ib. 59.

3 The story of Genesios (77-78) that Manuel addressed the assembled people in the Hippodrome, and demanded a declaration of loyalty to the government, and that the people—expecting that he would himself usurp the throne—were surprised and disappointed when he cried, “Long life to Michael and Theodora," seems to be also significant.

4 The interest of the dites in Manuel (see above, p. 145, n. 4) argues that he was at heart an imageworshipper, as the other relatives of Theodora seem to have been. Gen.

(78) says of him that he wavered (dià μέσου τινός παρεμπεσόντος διώκλασεν), but this seems to imply that he at first shared the hesitation of the Empress.

5 We must assume that Theodora, before a final decision was taken, held a silention at which both the Senate and ecclesiastics were present. Such a meeting is recorded in Theophanes, De ex. S. Niceph. 164, and in Skylitzes (Cedrenus), ii. 142. The assembly declared in favour of restoring images, and ordered that passages should be selected from the writings of the Fathers to support the doctrine. The former source also asserts that Theo. dora addressed a manifesto to the people.



take it for granted that Theodora and her advisers had at once destined Methodius (who had lived for many years in the Palace on intimate terms with the late Emperor, and who, we may guess, had secretly acted as a spiritual adviser to the Imperial ladies) as successor to the Patriarchal chair. To him naturally fell? the task of presiding at a commission, which met in the official apartments of Theoktistos? and prepared the material for the coming Council.3

Before the Council met, early in March (A.D. 843), the Patriarch John must have been officially informed by the Empress of her intention to convoke it, and summoned to attend. He was not untrue to the iconoclastic doctrine which he had actively defended for thirty years, and he declined to alter his convictions in order to remain in the Patriarchal chair. He was deposed by the Council, Methodius was elected

1 Cp. Uspenski, op. cit. 33. That Council supplied the Commission with Methodius took the leading part in its material. the preparations, and that the success 4 In the sources there is some variaof the Council was chiefly due to his tion in the order of events. Theoinfluence and activity is a conclusion phanes, De ex. S. Niceph., represents which all the circumstances suggest ; the deposition of John (with the without the co-operation of such an measures taken against him) as an act ecclesiastic, the government could not of the Council which restored orthohave carried out their purpose. But doxy. George Mon. (also a contema hagiographical tradition confirms porary) agrees (802), and the account the conclusion. It was said that of Genesios is quite consistent, for he hermits of Mount Olympus, Joannikios, relates the measures taken against who had the gift of prophecy, and John after the Council (81). According Arsakios, along with one Esaias of to Cont. Th.John received an ultimatum Nicomedia, were inspired to urge from the Empress before the Council Methodius to restore images, and that met (150-151), but this version cannot at their instigation he incited the be preferred to that of Genesios. After Empress (Narr. de Theophili absol. 25). the act of deposition by the Council, This story assumes that Methodius Constantine, the Drungary of the played an important part. According Watch, was sent with some of his to Vit. Mich. Sync. A 249, the officers, to remove John from the Empress and Senate sent a message Patriarcheion. He made excuses and to Joannikios, who recommended would not stir, and when Bardas went Methodius. The same writer says to inquire why he refused, he displayed (ib.) that Michael the synkellos was his stomach pricked all over with designated by popular opinion as sharp instruments, and alleged that John's successor. But the hagio- the wounds were inflicted by the graphers are unscrupulous in making cruelty of Constantine (an Armenian) statements which exalt their heroes and his officers, whom he stigmatized (see below, p. 148, n. 1). He seems as pagans (this insult excites the wrath to have been made abbot of the Chora of Genesios who was a descendant of convent (ib. 250); he died January 4, Constantine). But Bardas saw through 846 (cp. Vailhé, Saint Michel, 314). the trick. Genesios does not expressly Gen. 80.

say that the wounds were self-inflicted, 3 The preparation of the reports for but his vague words suggest this inthe Council of A.D. 815 had occu- ference to the reader (cp. Hirsch, 153). pied nearly a year (see above, p. 60), In Cont. Th. the story is elaborated, and The Acts of the Seventh Ecumenical the manner in which John wounded


in his stead, and the decrees of the Seventh Ecumenical Council were confirmed. The list of heretics who had been anathematized at that Council was augmented by the names of the prominent iconoclastic leaders who had since troubled the Church, but the name of the Emperor Theophilus was omitted. We can easily divine that to spare his memory was the most delicate and difficult part of the whole business. Methodius himself was in temper a man of the same cast as the Patriarchs Tarasius and Nicephorus; he understood the necessities of compromise, he appreciated the value of "economy," and he was ready to fall in with the wishes of Theodora. We may suspect that it was largely through his management that the members of the Council agreed, apparently without dissent, to exclude the late Emperor from the black list; and it is evident that their promises to acquiesce in this course must have been secured before the Council met. According to a story which has little claim to credit, Theodora addressed the assembly and pleaded for her husband on the ground that he had repented of his errors on his death-bed, and that she herself had held an icon to his lips before he breathed his last. But it is not improbable that the suggestion of a death-bed repentance was circulated unofficially for the purpose of influencing the monks who execrated the memory of the himself is described. See also Acta was to shift the responsibility to the Davidis, 248 (where the instrument is evil counsels of the Patriarch John ; a knife used for paring nails). In the see e.g. Nicetas, Vit. Ign. 222 and contemporary De ex. S. Niceph. of 216. According to the Acta Davidis Theophanes, another motive is alleged : Theodora had a private interview with the revolution threw John into such Methodius, Simeon the Stylite saint despondency that he almost laid violent of Lesbos, and his brother George, and hands on himself. It is impossible to intimated that some money (eủloyla, extract the truth from these state- a douceur) had been left to them by ments; but Schlosser and Finlay may the Emperor, if they would receive him be right in supposing that John was as orthodox. Simeon cried, “ To perreally wounded by soldiers, and that dition with him and his money,” but his enemies invented the fiction of finally yielded (244-246). This work self-inflicted wounds. In any case, so characteristically represents Simeon far as I can read through the tradition, as playing a prominent rôle in the there is no good ground for Uspenski's whole business, as disputing with conclusion (op. cit. 39) that “the pro- John in the presence of Theodora and cess against John was prior to the Michael, and as influential in the Council.” This view (based on Cont. election of Methodius. It is also Th.), also held by Hergenröther (i. stated that he was appointed Synkellos 294) and Finlay (ii. 163), is opposed to of the Patriarch (νεύματι της Αυγούστης, the other older sources (besides those 250). On the other hand the biocited above): Vita Meth. (1253) and grapher of Michael, synkellos of Vita Ignatii (221); cp. Hirsch, 211. Jerusalem, claims that he was made

i Cont. Th. 152-153. One way of Synkellos (Vit. Mich. Sync. 250). mitigating the guilt of Theophilus


last imperial iconoclast. It seems significant that the monks of Studion took no prominent part in the orthodox reform, though they afterwards sought to gain credit for having indirectly promoted it by instigating Manuel the Magister. We shall hardly do them wrong if we venture to read between the lines, and assume that, while they refrained from open opposition, they disapproved of the methods by which the welcome change was mancuvred.

But the flagrant fact that the guilty iconoclast, who had destroyed icons and persecuted their votaries, was excepted from condemnation by the synod which abolished his heresy, stimulated the mythopoeic fancy of monks, who invented divers vain tales to account for this inexplicable leniency.? The story of Theodora's personal assurances to the synod belongs to this class of invention. It was also related that she dreamed that her husband was led in chains before a great man who sat on a throne in front of an icon of Christ, and that this judge, when she fell weeping and praying at his feet, ordered Theophilus to be unbound by the angels who guarded him, for the sake of her faith. According to another myth, the divine pardon of the culprit was confirmed by a miracle. Methodius wrote down the names of all the Imperial heretics, including Theophilus, in a book which he deposited on an altar. Waking up from a dream in which an angel announced to him that pardon had been granted, he took the book from the holy table, and discovered that where the name of Theophilus had stood, there was a blank space.

Of one thing we may be certain : the Emperor did not repent. The suggestion of a death-bed repentance was a falsification of fact, probably circulated deliberately in order to save his memory, and readily believed because it was edifying. It helped to smooth the way in a difficult situation, by justifying in popular opinion the course of expediency or

economy,” which the Church adopted at the dictation of Theodora.

After the Council had completed its work, the triumph of





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1 See above, p. 145, n. 4.

Cp. Uspenski, op. cit. 47 sqq. 3 Narr. de Theophili absol. 32 sq. 5 A death-bed repentance is one of

those suspicious phenomena which, even when there is no strong interest for alleging it, cannot be accepted without exceptionally good evidence at first hand.

+ Ibid.

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