« PrethodnaNastavi »
wards dragged naked from the Palace by the “Gate of Spoils” to the Hippodrome, to be exposed to the spurns of the populace, which had so lately trembled in the presence of the form which they now insulted. From the Hippodrome the corpse was borne on the back of a horse or mule to a harbour and embarked in the same boat which was to convey the widow and the children of the Emperor to a lonely and lowly exile in the island of Prôtê. Here a new sorrow was in store for Theodosia : the body of the son who was called by her own name was to be laid by that of his father. The decree had gone forth that the four sons were to be made eunuchs, in order that they might never aspire to recover the throne from which their father had fallen. The same measure which Leo had meted to his predecessor's children was dealt out to his own offspring. Theodosius, who was probably the youngest of the brothers, did not survive the mutilation, and he was buried with Leo. There is a tale that one of the other brothers, but it is not quite clear whether it was Constantine or Basil,” lost his power of speech from the same cause, but that by devout and continuous prayer to God and to St. Gregory, whose image had been set up in the island, his voice was restored to him. The third son, Gregory, lived to become in later years bishop of Syracuse. Both Basil and Gregory repented of their iconoclastic errors, and iconodule historians spoke of them in after days as “great in virtue.
But although Michael, with a view to his own security, dealt thus cruelly with the boys, he did not leave the family destitute. He gave them a portion of Leo's property for their
. support, but he assigned them habitations in different places. The sons were confined in Prôtê, while the wife and the mother of Leo were allowed to dwell“ safely and at their own will ” in a more verdant and charming island of the same group, Chalkitês, which is now known as Halki.4
1 There is a picture of the scene in the Madrid MS. of Skylitzes (Beylié, L'Habitation byzantine, 106). Partisans of Michael appear above the roof of the Palace to illustrate the chronicler's words (Cedrenus, ii. 67) Ocà tò tv βασίλειον αυλήν όπλοις οικείοις πάντοθεν περιφραχθήναι.
Τh. 47 Κωνσταντίνος o μετονομασθείς Βασίλειος. This, of
course, is a mistake. Constantine was not Basil. The renaming was of Symbatios, who became Constantine (ib. 41 ; below, p. 58). It seems probable that Basil was meant, as we find the story told of him in PseudoSimeon, 619.
3 Gen. 99.
4 Cont. Th. 46, where their retreat is designated as the monastery Twv
§ 3. The Revival of Iconoclasm The revival of image-worship by the Empress Irene and the authority of the Council of Nicaea had not extinguished the iconoclastic doctrine, which was still obstinately maintained by powerful parties both in the Court circles of Byzantium and in the army. It is not surprising that the struggle should have been, however unwisely, renewed. The first period of iconoclasm and persecution, which was initiated by Leo the Isaurian, lasted for more than fifty, the second, which was initiated by Leo the Armenian, for less than thirty years.
The two periods are distinguished by the greater prominence of the dogmatic issues of the question in the later epoch, and by the circumstance that the persecution was less violent and more restricted in its range.
We have already seen that Leo, before he entered Constantinople to celebrate his coronation, wrote to assure the Patriarch of his orthodoxy. No hint is given that this letter was a reply to a previous communication from the Patriarch. We may suppose that Leo remembered how Nicephorus had exacted a written declaration of orthodoxy from Michael, and wished to anticipate such a demand. We know not in what terms the letter of Leo was couched, but it is possible that he gave Nicephorus reason to believe that he would be ready to sign a more formal document to the same effect after his coronation. The crowned Emperor, however, evaded the formality, which the uncrowned Emperor had perhaps promised or suggested ; and thus when he afterwards repudiated the Acts of the Seventh Ecumenical Council he could not legally be said to Δεσποτών. I know no other reference monasteries, see Schlumberger, op. cit. to this cloister, but infer that it was in Halki from the letter of Theodore 1 Theoph. 502 γράφει μεν Νικηφόρο of Studion to Theodosia and her son τω πατριάρχη τα περί της εαυτού ορθοBasil (ii. 204 επειδή δε απεδόθη υμίν δοξίας διαβεβαιούμενος, αιτών μετά της παρά του μεγάλου βασιλέως ή νήσος της ευχής και επινεύσεως αυτού του κράτους Χαλκίτου εις κατοικητήριον). Theodore & Maßéodai. This statement of Theocomplains that the abbot and monks phanes is most important and seems to had been turned out of their house to be the key to the difficulty. Theophanes make room for Theodosia, and have no does not say a word in prejudice of Leo. home. The letter might suggest that He wrote probably very soon after Basil was with Theodosia (in contra- Leo's accession and before the iconodiction to the statement of Cont. Th.), clastic policy had been announced. If but the inference is not necessary and Leo had signed, like Michael, a formal the superscription may be inaccurate. document, Theophanes would almost For a description of Halki and its certainly have mentioned it.
have broken solemn engagements.
But his adversaries were eager to represent him as having broken faith. According to one account, he actually signed a solemn undertaking to preserve inviolate the received doctrines of the Church; and this he flagrantly violated by his war against images. According to the other account, he definitely promised to sign such a document after his coronation, but, when it came to the point, refused. The first story seizes the fact of his reassuring letter to Nicephorus and represents it as a binding document; the second story seizes the fact that Leo after his coronation declined to bind himself, and represents this refusal as a breach of a definite promise.
The iconoclastic doctrine was still widely prevalent in the army, and was held by many among the higher classes in the capital. If it had not possessed a strong body of adherents, the Emperor could never have thought of reviving it. That he committed a mistake in policy can hardly be disputed in view of subsequent events. Nicephorus I., in preserving the settlement of the Council of Nicaea, while he allowed iconoclasts perfect freedom to propagate their opinions, had proved himself a competent statesman. For, considered in the interest of ecclesiastical tranquillity, the great superiority of imageworship to iconoclasm lay in the fact that it need not lead to persecution or oppression. The iconoclasts could not be compelled to worship pictures, they had only to endure the offence of seeing them and abstain from insulting them; whereas the adoption of an iconoclastic policy rendered persecution inevitable. The course pursued by Nicephorus seems to have been
1 Scr. Incert. 340 rpótepov monoas ιδιόχειρον; cp. 349. Simeon (Leo Gr. 207) βεβαιώσας αυτόν εγγράφως περί της cavtoü õpboðoğlas (cp. Vers. Slav. 90 ; Add. Georg. ed. Mur. 679 has TÒ έγγραφον -- αθετήσας). Hirsch is the only modern authority since Lebeau (xii. 297) who accepts this account (22). According to Vit. Theod. Grapt. 665, Leo gave an undertaking at the time of the coronation.
2 Ignatius, Vit. Niceph. Patr. 163, 164 : Nicephorus sent an elaborate form (tbuos), containing the orthodox creed, to Leo before his coronation ; Leo assented to its contents, but postponed signing until the diadem was
placed on his head ; then deutépą tñs βασιλείας ημέρας και αύθις ο θεοφόρος τω της ορθοδοξίας τόμο τον άρτιφανή βασιλέα κατήπειγεν ενσημήνασθαι ο δε κραταιώς απαρνείτο.
This story may be near the truth though it is told by a partisan. It is repeated by Genesios, etc., and accepted by Finlay, ii. 113 (who here confounds the Patriarch with the deacon Ignatius), Hergenröther, i. 234, and most writers. Hefele leaves the question open_(iv. 1). Ignatius relates that the Patriarch, when placing the crown on Leo's head, felt as if he were pricked by thorns (164).
perfectly satisfactory and successful in securing the peace of the Church.
All this, however, must have been as obvious to Leo the Armenian as it seems to us. He cannot have failed to realize the powerful opposition which a revival of iconoclasm would arouse ; yet he resolved to disturb the tranquil condition of the ecclesiastical world and enter upon a dangerous and disagreeable conflict with the monks.
Most of the Eastern Emperors were theologians as well as_statesmen, and it is highly probable that Leo's personal conviction of the wrongfulness of icon-worship, and the fact that this conviction was shared by many prominent people and widely diffused in the Asiatic Themes, would have been sufficient to induce him to revive an aggressive iconoclastic policy. But there was certainly another motive which influenced his decision. It was a patent fact that the iconoclastic Emperors had been conspicuously strong and successful rulers, whereas the succeeding period, during which the worship of images had been encouraged or permitted, was marked by weakness and some signal disasters. The day is not yet entirely past for men, with vague ideas of the nexus of cause and effect, to attribute the failures and successes of nations to the wrongness or soundness of their theological beliefs; and
some who read the story of Leo's reign may sympathize with him in his reasoning that the iconoclastic doctrine was proved by events to be pleasing in the sight of Heaven. We are told that “he imitated the Isaurian Emperors Leo and Constantine, whose heresy he revived, wishing to live many years like them and to become illustrious.” 2
To the ardent admirer of Leo the Isaurian, his own name seemed a good omen in days when men took such coincidences seriously; and to make the parallel between his own case and that of his model nearer still, he changed the Armenian name of his eldest son Symbatios and designated him Constantine.3 The new Constantine was crowned and proclaimed Augustus at the end of 813, when the Bulgarians were still
1 That the iconoclastic policy of Leo III. and Constantine V. is not to be explained by “considerations of administrative and military interest has been shown by Lombard, Con
stantin V, cap. viii. See also Schenk,
Scr. Incert. 346, 349.
devastating in Thrace or just after they had retreated, and it pleased Leo to hear the soldiers shouting the customary acclamations in honour of “Leo and Constantine.” Propitious names inaugurated an Armenian dynasty which might rival the Isaurian.
Stories were told in later times, by orthodox fanatics who execrated his memory, of sinister influences which were brought to bear on Leo and determine his iconoclastic policy. And here, too, runs a thread of that drama in which he was one of the chief actors. The prophecy of the hermit of Philomelion had come to pass, and it is said that Leo, in grateful recognition, sent a messenger with costly presents to seek out the true prophet. But when the messenger arrived at Philomelion he found that the man was dead and that another monk named Sabbatios had taken possession of his hut. Sabbatios was a zealous opponent of image-worship, and he prophesied to the messenger in violent language. The Empress Irene he reviled as “ Leopardess” and “Bacchant," he perverted the name of Tarasius to “ Taraxios” (Disturber), and he foretold that God would overturn the throne of Leo if Leo did not overturn images and pictures.
The new prophecy from Philomelion is said to have alarmed the Emperor, and he consulted his friend Theodotos Kassiteras on the matter. We already met this Theodotos playing a part in the story of the possessed damsel who foretold Leo's elevation. Whatever basis of fact these stories may have, we can safely infer that Theodotos was an intimate adviser of the Emperor. On this occasion, according to the tale, he did not deal straightforwardly with his master. He advised Leo to consult a certain Antonius, a monk who resided in the capital; but in the meantime Theodotos himself secretly repaired to Antonius and primed him for the coming interview. arranged that Antonius should urge the Emperor to adopt the doctrine of Leo the Isaurian and should prophesy that he would reign till his seventy-second year. Leo, dressed as a private individual, visited the monk at night, and his faith
1 Gen. 13 (repeated in Cont. Th.). It may be one of the tales which Genesios derived from rumour (onun), but it is also told in the Epist. Synod. Orient. ad Theoph. 368, where Sabbatios
describes himself as Sesuch the lord of