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orthodoxy was celebrated by a solemn festival service in St. Sophia, on the first Sunday in Lent (March 11, A.D. 843). The monks from all the surrounding monasteries, and perhaps even hermits from the cells of Athos, flocked into the city,1 and we may be sure that sacred icons were hastily hung in the places from which others had been torn in all the churches of the capital. A nocturnal thanksgiving was held in the church of the Virgin in Blachernae, and on Sunday morning the Empress, with the child Emperor, the Patriarch and clergy, and all the ministers and senators, bearing crosses and icons and candles in their hands, devoutly proceeded to St. Sophia.3
1 Gen. 82 mentions Olympus, Ida, Athos, and even τὸ κατὰ Κυμινᾶν σνμτλýрwμα, monks from Mt. Kyminas in Mysia. This passage is important as a chronological indication for the beginnings of the religious settlements on Mount Athos, which are described in K. Lake's The Early Days of Monasticism on Mount Athos, 1909. He seems to have overlooked this passage. As he points out, there were three stages in the development (1) the hermit period; (2) the loose organizations of the hermits in lauras; (3) the strict organization in monasteries. In A.D. 843 we are in the first period, and the first hermit of whom we know is Peter, whose Life by a younger contemporary, Nicolaus, has been printed by Lake. Peter had been a soldier in the Scholae, and was carried captive to Samarra (therefore after A.D. 836, see below, p. 238) by the Saracens, possibly in Mutasim's expedition of A. D. 838; having escaped, he went to Rome to be tonsured, and then to Athos, where he lived fifty years as a hermit. The first laura of which we know seems to have been founded at the very end of the reign of Michael III. (see Lake, p. 44), by Euthymius of Thessalonica, whose Life has been edited from an Athos MS. by L. Petit (Vie et office de Saint-Euthyme le Jeune, 1904). The earliest monastery in the vicinity was the Kolobu, founded by John Kolobos in the reign of Basil I.; it was not on Mount Athos, but to the north, probably near Erissos (Lake, 60 sqq.), and there were no monasteries on the mountain itself till the coming of Athanasius, the friend of the Emperor Nicephorus II.-There was a Mount Kyminas close to Akhyraos
(George Acrop. i. 27-28. ed. Heisenberg) which corresponds to Balikesri in Mysia, according to Ramsay, Asia Minor, 154, and Tomaschek, Zur historischen Topographie von Kleinasien im Mittelalter, 96. But the evidence of the Vita Michaelis Maleini (ed. Petit, 1903) and the Vita Mariae iun. (cited by Petit, p. 61) seem to make it probable that Mount Kyminas of the monks was in eastern Bithynia near Prusias ad Hypion (Uskub; cp. Anderson, Map), and Petit identifies it with the Dikmen Dagh.
2 New icons soon adorned the halls of the Palace. The icon of Christ above the throne in the Chrysotriklinos was restored. Facing this, above the entrance, the Virgin was represented, and on either side of her Michael III. and Methodius; around apostles, martyrs, etc. See Anthol. Pal. i. 106 (cp. 107), 11. 14, 15:
ὅθεν καλοῦμεν χριστοτρίκλινον νέον τὸν πρὶν λαχόντα κλήσεως χρυσωνύμου. Tрóedρos, 1. 10, is the Patriarch as Ebersolt has seen (Le Grand Palais, 82). Coins of Michael and Theodora were issued, with the head of Christ on the reverse. This had been introduced by Justinian II., and did not reappear till now. The type is evidently copied from coins of Justinian. Wroth, xliv. 3 Narr. de Theoph. absol. 38. official description of the ceremony, evidently drawn up in the course of Michael's reign (with later additions at the end), is preserved in Constantine, Cer. i. 28. The Patriarch and the clergy kept vigil in the church at Blachernae, and proceeded in the morning to St. Sophia, διὰ τοῦ δημοσίου ἐμβόλου (from the church of the
It was enacted that henceforward the restoration of icons should be commemorated on the same day, and the first Sunday of Lent is still the feast of Orthodoxy in the Greek Church.
All our evidence for this ecclesiastical revolution comes from the records of those who rejoiced in it; we are not informed of the tactics of the iconoclastic party, nor is it hinted that they made any serious effort to fight for a doomed cause. We can hardly believe that the Patriarch John was quiescent during the year preceding the Council, and silently awaited the event. But the only tradition of any countermovement is the anecdote of a scandalous attempt to discredit Methodius after his elevation to the Patriarchate. The iconoclasts, it was said, bribed a young woman to allege publicly that the Patriarch had seduced her. An official inquiry was held, and Methodius proved his innocence, to the satisfaction of a curious and crowded assembly, by a cynical ocular demonstration that he was physically incapable of the offence with which he was charged. He explained that many years ago, during his sojourn at Rome, he had been tormented by the stings of carnal desire, and that in answer to his prayer St. Peter's miraculous touch had withered his body and freed him for ever from the assaults of passion. The woman was compelled to confess that she had been suborned, and the heretics who had invented the lie received the mild punishment of being compelled every year, at the feast of orthodoxy, to join the procession from Blachernae to St. Sophia with torches in their hands, and hear with their own ears anathema pronounced upon them.1 There was some
Apostles to the Augusteon, the street had porticoes; we know nothing about the road from Blachernae to the Apostles). The Emperor went to St. Sophia from the Palace.
The story is told by Gen. 83-85, and repeated, with the usual elaboration, in Cont. Th. 158-160. It was unknown to the author of the Vita Methodii, and his silence is a strong external argument for rejecting it entirely. But that there was a motif behind, which we are not in a position to discover, is proved, as Hirsch has pointed out (154), by the fact that Genesios identifies the woman as
mother of Metrophanes, afterwards bishop of Smyrna, who was prominent in the struggle between Photius and Ignatius. There must have been some link of connexion between her and Methodius. A second motif probably was the impotence of the Patriarch. The story had the merit of insulting the repentant iconoclastic clergy, who, as a condition of retaining their posts, were obliged to take part in the anniversary procession. We cannot put much more faith in the anecdote that the ex-Patriarch John, who was compelled to retire to a monastery at Kleidion on the Bos
kernel of truth in this edifying fiction, but it is impossible to disentangle it.
It would seem that the great majority of the iconoclastic bishops and clergy professed repentance of their error and were allowed to retain their ecclesiastical dignities. Here Methodius, who was a man of moderation and compromise, followed the precedent set by Tarasius at the time of the first restoration of image-worship. But the iconoclastic heresy was by no means immediately extinguished, though it never again caused more than administrative trouble. Some of those who repented lapsed into error, and new names were added, twenty-five years later, to the list of the heretics who were held up to public ignominy on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, and stigmatized as Jews or pagans.
The final installation of icons among the sanctities of the Christian faith, the authoritative addition of icon-worship to the superstitions of the Church, was a triumph for the religious spirit of the Greeks over the doctrine of Eastern heretics whose Christianity had a more Semitic flavour. The struggle had lasted for about a hundred and twenty years, and in its latest stage had been virtually confined to Constantinople. Here the populace seems to have oscillated between the two extreme views, and many of the educated inhabitants probably belonged to that moderate party which approved of images in Churches, but was opposed to their worship. Of the influence of the iconoclastic movement on Byzantine art something will be said in another chapter, but it must be noticed here that in one point it won an abiding victory. In the doctrine laid down by the Council no distinction was drawn between sculptured and painted representations; all icons were legitimized. But whereas, before the controversy began, religious art had expressed itself in both forms, after the Council of phorus (Simeon, Cont. Georg. 811), ordered a servant to poke out the eyes of an icon in the church of that cloister, and for this offence received 200 stripes by the command of the Empress (Gen. 82). Cont. Th. 151 says that he was banished to his suburban house called τὰ ψιχά (there was another place of this name near the Forum of Constantine, Cont. Th. 420). Probably Psicha was at Kleidion, which is the modern Defterdan Burnu, a little north of
Ortakeui, on the European side of the
1 For the policy of Methodius and the disapproval which it aroused, see below, p. 182.
2 Condemned by the Council of A.D. 869 (Mansi, xvi. 389).
3 ἑαυτοὺς τῇ τῶν Ἰουδαίων καὶ Ἑλλήνων μερίδι καθυποβαλλομένοις, Uspenski, op. cit. 98. "EXλny is here used for pagan.
Cp. Bréhier, 40.
A.D. 843, sculpture was entirely discarded, and icons came to mean pictures and pictures only. This was a silent surrender, never explicitly avowed by the orthodox Church, to the damnable teaching of the iconoclasts; so that these heretics can claim to have so far influenced public opinion as to induce their victorious adversaries to abandon the cult of graven images. After all, the victory was a compromise.
§ 1. The Regency
MICHAEL III. reigned for a quarter of a century, but he never governed. During the greater part of his life he was too young; when he reached a riper age he had neither the capacity nor the desire. His reign falls into two portions. In his minority, the Empress Theodora held the reins, guided by the advice of Theoktistos, the Logothete of the Course, who proved as devoted to her as he had been to her husband. During the later years, when Michael nominally exercised the sovranty himself, the real power and the task of conducting the administration devolved upon her brother Bardas. In the first period, the government seems to have been competent, though we have not sufficient information to estimate it with much confidence; in the second period it was eminently efficient.
The Empress Theodora1 occupied the same constitutional position which the Empress Irene had occupied in the years following her husband's death. She was not officially the Autocrat, any more than her daughter Thecla, who was associated with her brother and mother in the Imperial dignity; she only acted provisionally as such on behalf of
1 At the beginning of the reign coins were issued with the head of Theodora (despoina) on one side, on the other the child-Emperor and his eldest sister Thecla robed as Augusta. A few years later Michael and Theodora appear together on the obverse; on the reverse is the head of the Saviour,
cp. above, p. 150, n. 2.
2 Acta 42 Mart. Am. 52 (A.D. 845) βασιλεύοντος τῆς Ῥωμαίων ἀρχῆς Μιχαὴλ καὶ Θεοδώρας καὶ Θέκλης. Cp. Wroth, 431 (Pl. xlix. 19) Μιχαήλ Θεοδώρα καὶ Θέκλα ἐκ θεοῦ) βασιλεῖς Ῥωμαίων on reverse of silver coins.