Slike stranica

subtlety, and style. Ultimately Nicephorus proposed that the bishops and others who had accompanied him to the gate should be admitted to the Imperial presence, that his Majesty might become fully convinced of their unanimity on the question at issue. The audience was held in the Chrysotriklinos,1 and guards with conspicuous swords were present, to awe the churchmen into respect and obedience.

The Emperor bent his brows and spake thus:


Ye, like all others, are well aware that God has appointed us to watch over the interests of this illustrious and reasonable flock; 3 and that we are eager and solicitous to smoothe away and remove every thorn that grows in the Church. As some members of the fold are in doubt as to the adoration of images, and cite passages of Scripture which seem unfavourable to such practices, the necessity of resolving the question once for all is vital; more especially in order to compass our great end, which, as you know, is the unity of the whole Church. The questioners supply the premisses; we are constrained to draw the conclusion. have already communicated our wishes to the High Pontiff, and now we charge you to resolve the problem speedily. If you are too slow you may end in saying nothing, and disobedience to our commands will not conduce to your profit.


The bishops and abbots, encouraged by the firmness of the Patriarch, did not flinch before the stern aspect of the Emperor, and several spoke out their thoughts, the others murmuring approval.* Later writers edified their readers by composing orations which might have been delivered on such an occasion. In Theodore, the abbot of Studion, the Emperor recognised his most formidable opponent, and some words are ascribed to Theodore, which are doubtless genuine. He is reported to have denied the right of the Emperor to interfere in ecclesiastical affairs:

Leave the Church to its pastors and masters; attend to your own province, the State and the army. If you refuse to do this, and are bent on destroying our faith, know that though an angel came from heaven to pervert us we would not obey him, much less you.5

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The protest against Caesaropapism is characteristic of Theodore. The Emperor angrily dismissed the ecclesiastics, having assured Theodore that he had no intention of making a martyr of him or punishing him in any way, until the whole question had been further investigated.1

Immediately after this conclave an edict was issued forbidding members of the Patriarch's party to hold meetings or assemble together in private houses. The iconodules were thus placed in the position of suspected conspirators, under the strict supervision of the Prefect of the City; and Nicephorus himself was practically a captive in his palace, under the custody of one Thomas, a patrician.

The Patriarch did not yet wholly despair of converting the Emperor, and he wrote letters to some persons who might exert an influence over him. He wrote to the Empress Theodosia, exhorting her to deter her lord from his "terrible enterprise." He also wrote to the General Logothete to the same effect, and in more threatening language to Eutychian, the First Secretary. Eutychian certainly gave no heedful ear to the admonitions of the pontiff. If the Empress saw good to intervene, or if the General Logothete ventured to remonstrate, these representations were vain. The Emperor forbade Nicephorus to exercise any longer the functions of his office.3 Just at this time the Patriarch fell sick, and if the

1 Michael, Vit. Theod. 281-284.

2 She was the daughter of Arsaber, patrician and quaestor (Gen. 21). Dark hints were let fall that there was something queer about her marriage with Leo. Perhaps she was a relative within the forbidden limits. Cp. ib. 19.

3 Ignatius, Vit. Nic. 190. A curious story is told by Michael Syr. 71, that the crown of a statue of "Augustus Caesar," which stood on a high column, fell off. It was difficult, but important, to replace it, for it was believed that the crown had the power of averting pestilence from the city. When a man was found capable of the task, the Patriarch secretly gave him some coins and instructed him to say that he had found them at the foot of the statue. He wished to prove that the representation of sacred images was ancient. When the man descended

and showed the old coins, the Emperor asked him whether he found them exposed to the air or in a receptacle. He said "exposed to the air." The Emperor had them washed with water and the images disappeared. The man confessed the imposture, and the Patriarch was discredited. The motif of this fiction is doubtless an incident which occurred in the reign of Theophilus, when the gold circle (Toûpa) of the equestrian statue of Justinian in the Augusteum fell, and an agile workman reached the top of the column by the device, incredible as it is described by Simeon (Leo Gr. 227), of climbing with a rope to the roof of St. Sophia, attaching the rope to a dart, and hurling the dart which entered so firmly into the statue (iπотην, the Lat. transl. has equum) that he was able to swing himself along the suspended rope to the summit of the column.

4 Probably in February.

malady had proved fatal, Leo's path would have been smoothed. A successor of iconoclastic views could then have been appointed, without the odium of deposing such an illustrious prelate as Nicephorus. If Leo did not desire the death of his adversary, he decided at this time who was to be the next Patriarch. Hopes had been held out to John the Grammarian that he might aspire to the dignity, but on maturer reflexion it was agreed that he was too young and obscure.1 Theodotos Kassiteras, who seems to have been the most distinguished supporter of Leo throughout this ecclesiastical conflict, declared himself ready to be ordained and fill the Patriarchal chair.2


But Nicephorus did not succumb to the disease. He recovered at the beginning of Lent when the Synod was about to meet. Theophanes, a brother of the Empress, was sent to invite Nicephorus to attend, but was not admitted to his presence. A clerical deputation, however, waited at the Patriarcheion, and the unwilling Patriarch was persuaded by Thomas the patrician, his custodian, to receive them.5 Nicephorus was in a prostrate condition, but his visitors could not persuade him to make any concessions. Their visit had somehow become known in the city and a riotous mob, chiefly consisting of soldiers, had gathered in front of the Patriarcheion. A rush into the building seemed so imminent that Thomas was obliged to close the gates, while the crowd of enthusiastic iconoclasts loaded with curses the obnoxious names of Tarasius and Nicephorus.

After this the Synod met and deposed Nicephorus. The enemies of Leo encouraged the belief that the idea of putting Nicephorus to death was seriously entertained, and it is stated that Nicephorus himself addressed a letter to the Emperor, begging him to depose him and do nothing more violent, for

1 Scr. Incert. 359. The disappointment of John was doubtless due to the interest of Theodotos.

2 He belonged to the important family of the Melissenoi. His father Michael, patrician and general of the Anatolic Theme, had been a leading iconoclast under Constantine V. (cp. Theoph. 440, 445). For the family see Ducange, Fam. Byz. 145a.

3 Scr. Incert. 358. In the meantime, some of the duties of the Patriarch had been entrusted to a patrician,

whose views were at variance with those of the Patriarch (see Ignatius, Vit. Nic. Patr. 190). From the Scr. Incert. we know that this patrician was Thomas.

4 Ib. 191 τὸν τῆς βασιλίσσης ὁμαίμονα.

5 Ib. 193. The deputation brought a pamphlet with them - τῷ ἀτόμῳ ἐκείνῳ τόμῳ—which they tried to persuade him to endorse, threatening him with deposition.

6 Ib. 196. Scr. Incert. 358.

his own sake. But there is no good reason to suppose that Leo thought of taking the Patriarch's life. By such a course he would have gained nothing, and increased his unpopularity among certain sections of his subjects. It was sufficient to remove Nicephorus from Constantinople, especially as he had been himself willing to resign his chair. On the Bosphorus, not far north of the Imperial city, he had built himself a retreat, known as the monastery of Agathos.1 Thither he was first removed, but after a short time it was deemed expedient to increase the distance between the fallen Patriarch and the scene of his activity. For this purpose Bardas, a nephew of the Emperor, was sent to transport him to another but somewhat remoter monastery of his own building, that of the great Martyr Theodore, higher up the Bosphorus on the Asiatic side. The want of respect which the kinsman of the Emperor showed to his prisoner as they sailed to their destination made the pious shake their heads, and the tragic end of the young man four years later served as a welcome text for edifying sermons. Bardas as he sat on the deck summoned the Patriarch to his presence; the guards did not permit "the great hierarch" to seat himself; and their master irreverently maintained his sitting posture in the presence of grey hairs. Nicephorus, seeing the haughty and presumptuous heart of the young man, addressed him thus: "Fair Bardas, learn by the misfortunes of others to meet your own.' The words were regarded as a prophecy of the misfortunes in store for Bardas.3

" 2

On Easter day (April 1) Theodotos Kassiteras was tonsured and enthroned as Patriarch of Constantinople. The tone of the Patriarchal Palace notably altered when Theodotos took the place of Nicephorus. He is described by an opponent as a good-natured man who had a reputation for virtue, but was lacking in personal piety. It has been already observed that he was a relative of Constantine V., and as soon as he was consecrated he scandalised stricter brethren in a way Michael, Vit. Theod. 285, as March 20. 2 γνῶθι ταῖς ἀλλοτρίαις συμφοραῖς τὰς ἑαυτοῦ καλῶς διατίθεσθαι.

1 Ignatius, Vit. Nic. 201. It is not certain on which side of the Strait Agathos lay, but it can be proved that St. Theodore was on the Asiatic (see Pargoire, Boradion, 476-477). The date of the deposition is given by Theoph. De exil. S. Nic. 166, as March 13, by

3 See below, p. 72. The edifying anecdote may reasonably be suspected. 4 Scr. Incert. 360.


which that monarch would have relished. A luncheon party was held in the Patriarcheion, and clerks and monks who had eaten no meat for years, were constrained by the kind compulsion of their host to partake unsparingly of the rich viands which were set before them. The dull solemnity of an archiepiscopal table was now enlivened by frivolous conversation, amusing stories, and ribald wit.2


The first duty of Theodotos was to preside at the iconoclastic Council, for which all the preparations had been made. It met soon after his consecration, in St. Sophia, in the presence of the two Emperors. The decree of this Synod reflects a less violent spirit than that which had animated the Council assembled by Constantine V. With some abbreviations and omissions it ran as follows:

"The Emperors Constantine (V.) and Leo (IV.) considering the public safety to depend on orthodoxy, gathered a numerous synod of spiritual fathers and bishops, and condemned the unprofitable practice, unwarranted by tradition, of making and adoring icons, preferring worship in spirit and in truth.

"On this account, the Church of God remained tranquil for not a few years, and the subjects enjoyed peace, till the government passed from men to a woman, and the Church was distressed by female simplicity. She followed the counsel of very ignorant bishops, she convoked an injudicious assembly, and laid down the doctrine of painting in a material medium the Son and Logos of God, and of representing the Mother of God and the Saints by dead figures, and enacted that these representations should be adored, heedlessly defying the proper doctrine of the Church. So she sullied our latreutic adoration, and declared that what is due only to God should be offered to lifeless icons; she foolishly said that they were full of divine grace, and admitted the lighting of candles and the burning of incense before them. Thus she caused the simple to err.

"Hence we ostracize from the Catholic Church the unauthorised manufacture of pseudonymous icons; we reject the adoration defined by Tarasius; we annul the decrees of his synod, on the ground that they

1 Scr. Incert. 360 ἀριστόδειπνα, déjeuner.

2 Ib. γέλοια καὶ παιγνίδια καὶ

παλαίσματα καὶ αἰσχρολογίας.

3 The proceedings of this Council were destroyed when images were restored; but the text of the decree has been extracted literally from the anti-iconoclastic work of the Patriarch Nicephorus entitled Ἔλεγχος καὶ ἀνατροπὴ τοῦ ἀθέσμου κτλ ὅρου (preserved in cod. Paris, 1250) by D.

Serruys (see Bibliography; Acta con-
cilii, A.D. 815). In the first part of
this treatise (unpublished, but see
Fabricius, Bibl. Gr. ed. Harles, vii.
610 sq.) Nicephorus reproduced and
commented on the principal decrees of
the iconoclastic councils. The other
sources for the synod of 815 are:
Theodore Stud. Epp. ii. 1; Michael
II. Ep. ad Lud.; Scr. Incert. 360-361;
Theosteriktos, Vit. Nicet. xxx.
Mansi, xiv. 135 sqq. 417.


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