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tell fortunes, declared to him that Michael and another officer of his staff were marked out for Imperial rank in the future, he lost no time in taking measures to unite them with his family. He prepared a feast, and chose them out of all the officers to be his guests, to their own astonishment. But a greater surprise awaited them, for when they were heated with wine, he offered them his daughters in marriage. At this unexpected condescension, the young men, of whom one at least was of humble birth, were stupefied and speechless. They drew back at first from an honour of which they deemed themselves unworthy; but the superstitious general overcame their scruples, and the marriages took place. Thus it came about that Michael won Thecla, who became the mother of the Emperor Theophilus. The other son-in-law, whoever he may have been, was not so fortunate; in his case the soothsayer was conspicuously at fault.2
Theophilus, for whom Leo V. had probably stood sponsor,3 was adult when his father came to the throne, and on the following Whitsunday (May 12 A.D. 821) Michael, according to the usual practice, secured the succession by elevating him to the rank of Basileus and Augustus.* The ceremony of
his marriage was celebrated on the same occasion.5 Having
4 The true date of the elevation of Theophilus and his marriage has been ascertained by Brooks (B.Z. 10, 540 sqq.). The will of Justinian, Duke of Venice, equates indiction 7 (A.D. 828829) with the ninth year of Michael and the eighteenth (mistake for eighth) of Theophilus. This is compatible with his coronation in A.D. 821 or 822. Now there are no coins of Michael II. alone (see Wroth, ii. 416), and this fact, combined with the probability that the Emperor would not delay long to crown his son, justifies us in deciding for 821. The day of the ceremony is recorded by Simeon.
5 Simeon (Theod. Mel. 147), σTÉDEL δὲ Θεοδώραν ἐν τῷ εὐκτηρίῳ τοῦ ἁγίου Στεφάνου, στεφθεὶς καὶ αὐτὸς ἅμα αὐτῇ
ὑπὸ ̓Αντωνίου πατριάρχου καὶ τῷ τοῦ γάμου καὶ τῷ τῆς βασιλείας στέφει τῇ ȧyía TEVτηKOOT. (Cp. vers. Slav. 93, and Add. Georg. 790; the text of Leo Gr. is imperfect.) See Brooks, op. cit. 542, who rightly says that this is an authentic notice which must be separated from the legend which precedes it. It is not clear whether all these ceremonies were performed on the same day. The crowning of Theophilus with the diadem (OTÉμμа or diádnua) must have come first, and was performed in St. Sophia; the ceremony is described in Constantine, Cer. i. 38. We must not press the notice so as to imply that Michael was absent himself and deputed the Patriarch to crown his son. Except in the Emperor's absence, the Patriarch handed the crown to him, and he placed it on his colleague's head. The marriage ceremony was always performed in the Church of St. Stephen in Daphne, and is described Cer. i. 39 (the nuptial crown is oтepáνwμа, as distinguished from the Imperial
received the Imperial crown from his father's hands in St. Sophia, he was wedded by the Patriarch, in the Church of St. Stephen in the Palace, to Theodora, a Paphlagonian lady, whose father and uncle were officers in the army. The ceremony was followed by her coronation as Augusta.
It is probable that the provincial Theodora, of an obscure but well-to-do family, was discovered by means of the bride-show custom which in the eighth and ninth centuries was habitually employed for the purpose of selecting brides for Imperial heirs. Messengers were sent into the provinces to search for maidens who seemed by their exceptional physical attractions and their mental qualities worthy of sharing the throne of an Emperor. They were guided in their selection by certain fixed standards; they rejected all candidates who did not conform, in stature and in the dimensions of their heads and feet, to prescribed measures of beauty. It was thus that Maria, discovered in a small town in Paphlagonia, came to be the consort of Constantine VI.,3 and we saw how a bride-show was held for the wedding of Stauracius.1 In later times Michael III. and Leo VI. would win their brides in the same fashion; and it is not improbable that Irene of Athens owed her marriage with Leo IV. to this custom.
The bride-show of Theophilus has been embroidered with legendary details, and it has been misdated, but there is no reason for doubting that it was actually held. The story represents Theophilus as still unmarried when he became sole Emperor after his father's death.
στέμμα). The coronation of the Augusta was celebrated in the same place (ib. i. 40). The procedure where the marriage and coronation of an Augusta were combined is described ib. i. 41. For the succession of Antonius to the Patriarchate, see below, p. 115.
1 Her father was Marinos, a drungarios, if not a turmarch. He belonged to the town of Ebissa (Cont. Th. 89). In the same passage the fact that Theodora had been crowned "long ago," ráλai dý, i.e. before her husband's accession to the autocracy, is recorded. For the family relations of Theodora see below, Chapter V. p. 156, Genealogical Table. She was of Armenian descent, at least on one side, for her
His stepmother Euphrosyne
assembled the maidens, who had been gathered from all the provinces, in the Pearl-chamber in the Palace, and gave the Emperor a golden apple to bestow upon her who pleased him. best.1 Theophilus halted before Kasia, a lady of striking beauty and literary attainments, and addressed to her a cynical remark, apparently couched in metrical form, to which she had a ready answer in the same style.
A woman was the fount and source
Of all man's tribulation.
And from a woman sprang the course
The boldness of the retort did not please the Emperor, and he gave the golden apple to Theodora.
It was in the spring of A.D. 821, and not nine years later, that Theophilus made his choice, and it was his mother, Thecla, if she was still alive, and not Euphrosyne, who presided over the bride-show.3 Some may think that the golden apple, the motif of the judgment of Paris, must be rejected as a legendary trait in the story; yet it seems possible that the apple had been deliberately borrowed from the Greek myth as a symbol by which the Emperor intimated his choice and was a regular feature of the Byzantine brideshows. Nor does there seem any reason to doubt that the poetess Kasia was one of the chosen maidens; and the passage between her and the Emperor is, if not true, happily invented so far as her extant epigrams reveal her character.1 Dis
1 The story in its genuine form is told by Simeon (Add. Georg. 790). It is completely altered and corrupted in Vita Theodorae, 4 (see below). The Pearl-chamber (μaрyaρíтov тρíkλvos) is an anachronism. It was one of the new buildings of Theophilus himself (see below, p. 131). The bride-show of Leo VI. was held ἔν τινι βασιλικῷ ταμιείῳ τῇς περιβλέπτου Μαναύρας (Vita Theophanus, loc. cit.).
2 With slight change the dialogue in the chronicle falls into the "political metre," which I have reproduced in English:
0. <ŵ yúvai>, dià yvvaikòs (eio>eppún tà φαῦλα.
Κ. ἀλλὰ καὶ διὰ γυναικὸς τὰ κρείττονα πηγάζει.
(text: πηγ. τὰ κρ.). I pointed this out in Gibbon, v. 199 note, and Engl. Hist. Rev. xiii. p. 340 (1898).
3 Eudocia, his mother (not Basil), manages the bride-show of Leo VI. (Vita Theophanus, loc. cit.).
4 Her strong opinions came out in her epigrams; she did not suffer fools gladly see the verses on the uŵpos in Krumbacher, Kasia, p. 362, cp. p. 365. Three hymns of Kasia are printed in
appointed in her chance of empire, Kasia resolved to renounce the world, and a letter of Theodore, the abbot of Studion, is preserved in which he approves of her design, and compliments her on the learning and skill of some literary compositions which she had sent him.1
The pleasing story of the bride-show of Theophilus, in which Kasia is the heroine, did not find favour with the monk who wrote an edifying biography of the sainted Theodora. He would not allow that she owed her elevation to the too ready tongue of her rival who had presumed to measure wits with the Emperor, and he invented a different story in which Kasia is ignored.2 According to this frigid fiction, Theophilus selected seven of the maidens, gave each of them an apple, and summoned them again on the morrow. He asked each of them for her apple, but the apples were not forthcoming. Theodora alone produced hers, and along with it offered a second to the Emperor. "This first apple, which I have kept safe," she said, "is the emblem of my maidenhood; the second, do not decline it, is the fee3 of the son which shall be born to us." When Theophilus, in amazement, asked her to explain this oracle," she told him that at Nicomedia, on her way to Constantinople, she had visited a holy man who lived in a tower, and that he had prophesied her elevation to the throne. and had given her the apple.*
Christ and Paranikas, Anth. Graeca carm. Christianorum, 103-104; another in Krumbacher, 347 sqq. Krumbacher has shown that her name was Kasia, not Eikasia or Ikasia as the chronicle has, and he conjectures that Elkarla arose from Kaoía (317). Accepting the date of the bride-show as c. 830, he places her birth c. 810; but the true date of the marriage of Theophilus shows that the year of her birth must have been in the neighbourhood of 800. She was still a very young girl when she decided to become a nun (see next note), so that we might conjecture the date to be c. 804.
4 The beauty of Theodora was celebrated in Spain by the poet Yahya al-Ghazzal, who was sent by Abd arRahman as an envoy to the Court of Theophilus (A.D. 839-840). He was conversing with the Emperor when Theodora entered "dressed in all her finery a rising sun in beauty. AlGhazzal was so surprised that he could not take his eyes from her," and
2. The Civil War (A.D. 821-823)
Of the three actors in the historical drama which was said to have been shadowed forth by the soothsayer of Philomelion, one has passed finally from the scene. The last act is to take the form of a conflict between the two survivors, Michael of Amorion and Thomas of Gaziura. This conflict is generally known as the rebellion of Thomas, but it assumed the dimensions and the dignity of a civil war. Two rivals fought for a crown, which one of them had seized, but could not yet be said to have firmly grasped. Michael had been regularly elected, acclaimed, and crowned in the capital, and he had the advantage of possessing the Imperial city. His adversary had the support of most of the Asiatic provinces ; he was only a rebel because he failed.
We have seen how Thomas clung to his master and patron Bardanes whom others had deserted (A.D. 803). When the cause of Bardanes was lost, he probably saved himself by fleeing to Syria and taking up his abode among the Saracens,1 with whom he had lived before. For in the reign of Irene he had entered the service of a patrician,2 and, having been discovered in an attempt to commit adultery with his master's wife, he was constrained to seek a refuge in the dominions of the Caliph, where he seems to have lived for a considerable time. His second sojourn there lasted for
ceased to attend to the conversation.
1 There is an explicit statement in the Acta Davidis (a well-informed source), 232: having served Bardanes, he fled, on account of misdeeds, to the Saracens and lay quiet during the reigns of Nicephorus, Stauracius, Michael I., and a great part of Leo's
reign (this is incorrect). Michael II., in Ep. ad Lud. 417, says that he abode among the unbelievers until the reign of Leo, and during that time became a Mohammadan in order to gain influence with the Saracens.
2 For a discussion of the difficulties, see Bury, B.Z. i. 55 sqq., where it is shown that the patrician was not Bardanes, as Genesios alleges (35). Michael (Ep. ad Lud., ib.) does not name the patrician. The fact seems to be that Thomas first fled c. A.D. 788, and only returned in A.D. 803 to assist Bardanes; so that he might be roughly described as having lived with the Saracens for twenty-five years (Gen. ib.). This I now believe to be the true explanation of the twenty-five years, and not that which I suggested loc.