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such atrocities had been frequent, we should have heard much more about them. The severer punishments were probably inflicted for some display of fanatical insolence towards the Emperor personally. His chief object was to remove from the capital those men, whose influence would conflict with the accomplishment of his policy.1 But there may have been fanatical monks, who, stirred with an ambition to outstrip the boldness of Theodore of Studion, bearded the Emperor to his face, and to them may have been meted out extreme
1 The statements about the sufferings of individuals in hagiographical literature (in which the principle that suffering for orthodoxy enhanced merit guided the writers) cannot be accepted without more ado. It is said that Leo scourged Euthymios of Sardis and banished him to Thasos (Acta Davidis, 229). George the bishop of Mytilene was sent to Cherson, and replaced by Leo an iconoclast; he excited the Emperor against the holy Simeon of Lesbos, who, imitating his namesake the Stylite, lived on a pillar at Molos, a harbour in the south of the island, having fastened his calves to his thighs with chains. The inhabitants were ordered to bring wood to the foot of the column; when the fire was kindled, Simeon allowed himself to be taken down, and was banished to Lagusae, an island off the Troad (ib. 227 sqq). Theophylactus of Nicomedia is said to have been struck in the face by the Emperor and banished to Strobilos in the Kibyrrhaeot Theme (see Synax. Ecc. Cpl. 519-520, cp. Loparev, Viz. Vrem. iv. 355). Michael, the Synkellos of Jerusalem (born c. 761, made Synkellos 811), his friend Job, and the two Palestinian brothers Theodore and Theophanes (see below, p. 136), were persecuted by Leo. But the Vita Mich. Sync. is full of errors and must be used with great caution. Theodore and Theophanes seem to have been among those monks who fled in the reign of Michael I. (on account of Mohammadan persecution: A.D. 812 monasteries and churches in Palestine were plundered) to Constantinople, where the monastery of Chora was placed at their disposal. Michael seems to have been sent by the Patriarch of Jerusalem on a mission to Rome in Leo's reign, and, tarrying on his way in Constantinople, to have
been thrown into prison. (Theod. Stud., writing to him in A.D. 824, Epp. ii. 213, p. 1641, asks him, "Why, when you had intended to go elsewhere, were you compelled to fall into the snares of those who govern here?") It is not clear why he did not return to Jerusalem under Michael II.; he is said to have lived then in a convent near Brusa. Theodore and Theophanes were confined by Leo in a fortress near the mouth of the Bosphorus (see Vailhe's study, Saint Michel le Syncelle). For the persecution of Makarios, abbot of Pelekêtê (near Ephesus) see Vit. Macarii 157-159, sq. (Cp. Theodore Stud. Ep. 38, ed. Cozza-L., p. 31.) John, abbot of the Katharoi monastery (E. of the Harbour of Eleutherios), is said to have suffered stripes and been banished first to a fort near Lampe (Phrygia) and then to another in the Bukellarian Theme (4.S. April 27, t. iii. 495). Hilarion, abbot of the convent of Dalmatos (or Dalmatoi; n. of the Forum Arcadii), was tortured by hunger by the Patriarch Theodotos, and then confined in various prisons (A.S. June 6, t. i. 759). Others who were maltreated, exiled, etc., were Aemilian, bishop of Cyzicus (Synax. Ecc. Cp. 875, cp. 519), Eudoxios of Amorion (ib. 519), and Michael of Synnada (ib. 703, cp. Pargoire, Echos d'orient, iv. 347 sqq., 1903). The last-named died in A.D. 826. Joannes, abbot of Psichâ (at Cple.), suffered according to his biographer (Vit. Joann. Psich. 114 sqq.) particularly harsh treatment. He was flogged, confined in various prisons, and then tortured by one "who outdid Jannes." This must mean not, as the editor thinks, John the Grammarian, but Theodotos. Cp. the story of the treatment of Hilarion.
penalties. Again, it is quite possible that during the destruction of pictures in the city, which ensued on their condemnation by the Synod, serious riots occurred in the streets, and death penalties may have been awarded to persons who attempted to frustrate the execution of the imperial commands. We are told that "the sacred representations were at the mercy of anyone who chose to work his wicked will upon them. Holy vestments, embroidered with sacred figures, were torn into shreds and cast ignominiously upon the ground; pictures and illuminated missals were cut up with axes and burnt in the public squares. Some of the baser sort insulted the icons by smearing them with cow-dung and foul-smelling ointments.2
1 Ignatius, Vit. Nic. ÈктνπúμаTа.
2 Ib. βολβίτοις καὶ ἀλοιφαῖς καὶ ὀδμαῖς ἀηδιζούσαις κατέχραινον.
MICHAEL II., THE AMORIAN
1. The Accession of Michael (A.D. 820).
and Marriage of Theophilus (A.D. 821)
WHILE his accomplices were assassinating the Emperor, Michael lay in his cell, awaiting the issue of the enterprise which meant for him death or empire, according as it failed or prospered. The conspirators, as we have seen, did not bungle in their work, and when it was accomplished, they hastened to greet Michael as their new master, and to bear him in triumph to the Imperial throne. With his legs still encased in the iron fetters he sat on his august seat, and all the servants and officers of the palace congregated to fall at his feet. Time, perhaps, seemed to fly quickly in the surprise of his new position, and it was not till midday that the gyves which so vividly reminded him of the sudden change of his fortunes were struck off his limbs. The historians tell of a
difficulty in finding the key of the fetters, and it was John Hexabulios, Logothete of the Course, who remembered that Leo had hidden it in his dress.1
About noon, without washing his hands or making any other seemly preparation, Michael, attended by his supporters, proceeded to the Great Church, there to receive the Imperial crown from the hands of the Patriarch, and to obtain recognition from the people. No hint is given as to the attitude of the Patriarch Theodotos to the conspiracy, but he seems
1 According to Cont. Th. (41), however, the key was not forthcoming, and the fetters were loosened
or broken with a hammer (μóλis θλασθέντων).
2 At the seventh hour, Gen. 30.
to have made no difficulty in performing the ceremony of coronation for the successful conspirator. The Amorian soldier received the crown from the prelate's hands, and the crowd was ready to acclaim the new Augustus. Those who held to image worship did not regret the persecutor of their faith, but thought that he had perished justly; and perhaps to most in that superstitious populace the worst feature in the whole work seemed to be that his blood had stained a holy building.1 We have already seen how Michael dealt with the Empress Theodosia and her children.
The new Roman Emperor 2 was a rude provincial, coarse in manners, ill-educated, and superstitious. But he was vigorous, ambitious, and prudent, and he had worked his way up in the army by his own energy and perseverance. Amorion, the city of his birth, in Upper Phrygia, was at this time an important place, as the capital of the Anatolic province. It was the goal of many a Saracen invasion. Its strong walls had defied the generals of the Caliphs in the days of the Isaurian Leo; but it was destined, soon after it had won the glory of giving a dynasty to the Empire, to be captured by the Unbelievers. This Phrygian town was a head-quarter for Jews, and for the heretics who were known as Athingani. It is said that Michael inherited from his parents Athingan views, but according to another account he was a Sabbatian.5 Whatever be the truth about this, he was inclined to tolerate heresies, of which he must have seen much at his native town in the days of his youth. He was also favourably disposed to the Jews; but the statement that his grandfather was a converted Jew does not rest on very good authority. It is certain that his parents were of humble rank, and that his youth, spent among heretics, Hebrews, and half-Hellenized Phrygians, was subject to influences which were very different from the Greek polish of the capital. One so trained must have felt himself strange among the men of old nobility, of Hellenic education, and ecclesiastical ortho
1 Such was the thought of the Continuer of Theophanes, 42.
2 His age on his accession is not recorded, but he was certainly well over forty.
3 See above, p. 40. 4 Cont. Th. 42.
5 Nicetas, Vit. Ign. 216. The Sabbatians were a fourth-century offshoot from the Novatians; they held that Easter should be celebrated on the same day and in the same manner as the Jewish feast.
6 Michael Syr. 72.
doxy1 with whom he had to deal in Constantinople. not disguise his contempt for Hellenic culture, and he is handed down to history as an ignorant churl. Such a man was a good aim for the ridicule of witty Byzantines, and it is recorded that many lampoons were published on the crowned boor.3
The low-born Phrygian who founded a new dynasty in the ninth century reminds us of the low-born Dardanian who founded a new dynasty exactly three hundred years before. The first Justin, like the second Michael, was ignorant of letters. It was told of Justin that he had a mechanical contrivance for making his signature, and of Michael it was popularly reported that another could read through a book more quickly than he could spell out the six letters of his name. They were both soldiers and had worked their way up in the service, and they both held the same post at the time of their elevation. Justin was the commander of the Excubitors when he was called upon to succeed Anastasius, even as Michael when he stepped into the place of Leo. But Michael could not say like Justin that his hands were pure of blood. The parallel may be carried still further. The soldier of Ulpiana, like the soldier of Amorion, reigned for about nine years, and each had a successor who was a remarkable contrast to himself. After the rude Justin, came his learned and intellectual nephew Justinian; after the rude Michael, his polished son Theophilus.
Michael shared the superstitions which were not confined to his own class. He was given to consulting soothsayers and diviners; and, if report spoke true, his career was directed by prophecies and omens. It is said that his first marriage was brought about through the utterances of a soothsayer. He had been an officer in the army of the Anatolic Theme, in days before he had entered the service of Bardanes. The general of that Theme, whose name is not recorded, was as ready as most of his contemporaries to believe in prognostication, and when one of the Athingan sect who professed to
1 Cp. Finlay, ii. pp. 128, 129.
2 Cont. Th. 49 τὴν ̔Ελληνικὴν παίδευσιν διαπτύων, where Hellenic is not used in the bad sense of pagan.
3 Ib. In the Acta Davidis, 230, he
is described as not so cruel as Leo, but τὰ πάντα γαστρὶ χαριζόμενος καὶ σχεδὸν ἐν ἀνθρωπείῳ σώματι κτηνώδη ἀναστροφὴν καὶ δίαιταν ἀναδειξάμενος.
4 Cont. Th. 49, clearly taken from one of the popular lampoons.