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girls. Their father, suspecting that they were being tainted with the idolatrous superstition, asked them one day, when they returned from a visit to their grandmother, what presents she had given them and how they had been amused. The older girls saw the trap and evaded his questions, but Pulcheria, who was a small child, truthfully described how her grandmother had taken a number of dolls from a box and pressed them upon the faces of herself and her sisters. Theophilus was furious, but it would have been odious to take any severe measure against the Empress's mother, who was highly respected for her piety. All he could do was to prevent his daughters from visiting her as frequently as before.
§ 4. Death of Theophilus and Restoration of Icon Worship
Theophilus died of dysentery on January 20, A.D. 842.2 His last illness was disturbed by the fear that his death would be followed by a revolution against the throne of his infant son. The man who seemed to be the likely leader of a movement to overthrow his dynasty was Theophobos, a somewhat mysterious general, who was said to be of Persian descent and had commanded the Persian troops in the Imperial service. Theophobos was an "orthodox" Christian,* but he was one of the Emperor's right-hand men in the eastern wars, and had been honoured with the hand of his sister or sister-in-law.5 He had been implicated some years before in a revolt, but had been restored to favour and lived in the Palace." It is said that he was popular in Constantinople, and the Emperor may have had good reasons for thinking that he might aspire with success to the supreme power. From his deathbed he ordered Theophobos to be cast into a dungeon of the Bucoleon Palace, where he was secretly decapitated at night.7
1 Theoktiste is represented giving an icon to Pulcheria, the other daughters standing behind, in a miniature in the Madrid Skylitzes (see reproduction in Beylié, op. cit. 56). 2 Cont. Th. 139.
3 See below, p. 252 sq.
4 Simeon, Add. Georg. 803 (cp. Gen. 6110)
Ib. 793. See below, p. 253.
6 Gen. 59.
7 Gen. 60, and Add. Georg. 810, where Petronas, with the logothete (i.e. Theoktistos), is said to have performed the decapitation. The alternative account given by Gen. 60-61 has no value, as Hirsch pointed out, p. 142, but it is to be noticed that Ooryphas is there stated to have been drungarios of the watch. We meet a
Exercising a constitutional right of his sovran authority, usually employed in such circumstances,1 the Emperor had appointed two regents to act as his son's guardians and assist the Empress, namely, her uncle Manuel, the chief Magister, and Theoktistos, the Logothete of the Course, who had proved himself a devoted servant of the Amorian house. It is possible that Theodora's brother Bardas was a third regent, but this cannot be regarded as probable. The position of Theodora closely resembled that of Irene during the minority of Constantine. The government was carried on in the joint names of the mother and the son, but the actual exercise of Imperial authority devolved upon the mother provisionally. Yet there was a difference in the two cases. Leo IV., so far as we know, had not appointed any regents or guardians of his son to act with Irene, so that legally she had the supreme power entirely in her hands; whereas Theodora was as unable to act without the concurrence of Manuel and Theoktistos as they were unable to act without her.
It has been commonly thought that Theophilus had hardly closed his eyes before his wife and her advisers made such pious haste to repair his ecclesiastical errors that a council was held and the worship of images restored, almost as a matter of course, a few weeks after his death. The
person or persons of this name holding different offices under the Amorians: (1) Ooryphas, in command of a fleet, under Michael II. (see below, Chap. IX. p. 290); (2) Ooryphas, one of the commanders in an Egyptian expedition in A.D. 853 (see below, Chap. IX. p. 292); (3) Ooryphas, Prefect of the City in A.D. 860 (see below, Chap. XIII. p. 419); (4) Ooryphas,
strategos" of the fleet at the time of the death of Michael III.; see Vat. MS. of Cont. Georg. in Muralt, p. 752 = Pseudo-Simeon, 687. The fourth of these is undoubtedly Nicetas Ooryphas whom we meet in Basil's reign as drungarios of the Imperial fleet. He may probably be the same as the second, but is not likely (from considerations of age) to be the same as the first. In regard to (3), it is to be noted that according to Nicetas, Vit. Ign. 232, Nicetas Ooryphas, drungarios of the Imperial fleet, oppressed Ignatius in A.D. 860. Such business would
have devolved on the Prefect, not on the admiral, and I conclude that Nicetas Ooryphas was prefect in A.D. 860, and drungarios in A.D. 867 (such changes of office were common in Byzantium), and that the author of Vit. Ign. knowing him by the later office, in which he was most distinguished, described him erroneously. Ooryphas the drungarios of the watch may be identical with (1); but I suspect there is a confusion with Petronas, who seems to have held that office at one time in the reign of Theophilus (see above, p. 122).
1 In the same way the Emperor Alexander appointed seven guardians (èniτρоTо) for his nephew Constantine, A. D. 913. The boy's mother Zoe was not included. Cont. Th. 380.
2 It is safest to follow Gen. 77. Bardas was probably added by Cont. Th. (148) suo Marte, on account of his prominent position a few years later. So Uspenski, Ocherki, 25.
truth is that more than a year elapsed before the triumph of orthodoxy was secured.1 The first and most pressing care of the regency was not to compose the ecclesiastical schism, but to secure the stability of the Amorian throne; and the question whether iconoclasm should be abandoned depended on the view adopted by the regents as to the effect of a change in religious policy on the fortunes of the dynasty.
For the change was not a simple matter, nor one that could be lightly undertaken. Theodora, notwithstanding her personal convictions, hesitated to take the decisive step. It is a mistake to suppose that she initiated the measures which led to the restoration of pictures. She had a profound belief in her husband's political sagacity; she shrank from altering the system which he had successfully maintained;3 and there was the further consideration that, if iconoclasm were condemned by the Church as a heresy, her husband's name would be anathematized. Her scruples were overcome by the arguments of the regents, who persuaded her that the restoration of images would be the surest means to establish the safety of the throne.1 But when she yielded to these reasons, to the pressure of other members of her own family, and probably to the representations of Methodius, she made it a condition of her consent, that the council which she would
1 The old date was in itself impossible: the change could not have been accomplished in the time, The right date is furnished by Sabas, Vit. Joannic. 320, where the event is definitely placed a year after the accession of Michael. This is confirmed by the date of the death of Methodius, who was Patriarch for four years and died June 14, 847 (Vit. Joannic. by Simeon Met. 92; the same date can be inferred from Theophanes, De ex. S. Niceph. 164). All this was shown for the first time by de Boor, Angriff der Rhos, 450-453; the proofs have been restated by Vasil'ev, Viz. i Arab., Pril. iii.; and the fact is now universally accepted by savants, though many writers still ignorantly repeat the old date.
2 Her hesitation comes out clearly in the tradition and must be accepted as a fact.
3 Gen. 80 ὁ ἐμὸς ἀνήρ γε καὶ βασιλεὺς
μακαρίτης σοφίας ἀρκούντως ἐξείχετο καὶ οὐδὲν τῶν δεόντων αὐτῷ ἐλελήθει· καὶ πῶς τῶν ἐκείνου διαταγμάτων ἀμνημονήσαντες εἰς ἑτέραν διαγωγὴν ἐκτραπείημεν ;
4 The chief mover was, I have no doubt, Theoktistos. His name alone is mentioned by the contemporary George Mon. 811 (cp. Vita Theodorae, 14). In Gen. he shares the credit with Manuel (78), and in Cont. Th. (148-150) Manuel appears alone as Theodora's adviser. But the part played by Manuel is mixed up with a hagiographical tradition, redounding to the credit of the monks of Studion, whose prayers were said to have saved him from certain death by sickness, on condition of his promising to restore image-worship when he recovered. (For the connexion of Manuel with the Studites, cp. also Vita Nicolai, 916, where Nicolaus is said to have healed Helena, Manuel's wife.)
have to summon should not brand the memory of Theophilus with the anathema of the Church.1
Our ignorance of the comparative strength of the two parties in the capital and in the army renders it impossible for us to understand the political calculations which determined the Empress and her advisers to act in accordance with her religious convictions. But the sudden assassination of Theophobos by the command of the dying Emperor is a significant indication2 that a real danger menaced the throne, and that the image-worshippers, led by some ambitious insurgent, would have been ready and perhaps able to overthrow the dynasty.3 The event seems to corroborate the justice of their fears. For when they re-established the cult of pictures, iconoclasm died peacefully without any convulsions or rebellions. The case of Theoktistos may be adduced to illustrate the fact that many of those who held high office were not fanatical partisans. He had been perfectly contented with the iconoclastic policy, and was probably a professed iconoclast, but placed in a situation where iconoclasm appeared to be a peril to the throne, he was ready to throw it over for the sake of political expediency.
Our brief, vague, and contradictory records supply little certain information as to the manner in which the government conducted the preparations for the defeat of iconoclasm.5 It is evident that astute management was required; and a considerable time was demanded for the negotiations and intrigues needful to facilitate a smooth settlement. We may
1 This is an inevitable inference from the traditions.
2 Cp. Uspenski, ib. 59.
3 The story of Genesios (77-78) that Manuel addressed the assembled people in the Hippodrome, and demanded a declaration of loyalty to the government, and that the people-expecting that he would himself usurp the throne-were surprised and disappointed when he cried, "Long life to Michael and Theodora," seems to be also significant.
4 The interest of the Studies in Manuel (see above, p. 145, n. 4) argues that he was at heart an imageworshipper, as the other relatives of Theodora seem to have been. Gen.
(78) says of him that he wavered (dià μέσου τινὸς παρεμπεσόντος διώκλασεν), but this seems to imply that he at first shared the hesitation of the Empress.
5 We must assume that Theodora, before a final decision was taken, held a silention at which both the Senate and ecclesiastics were present. Such a meeting is recorded in Theophanes, De ex. S. Niceph. 164, and in Skylitzes (Cedrenus), ii. 142. The assembly declared in favour of restoring images, and ordered that passages should be selected from the writings of the Fathers to support the doctrine. The former source also asserts that Theodora addressed a manifesto to the people.
take it for granted that Theodora and her advisers had at once destined Methodius (who had lived for many years in the Palace on intimate terms with the late Emperor, and who, we may guess, had secretly acted as a spiritual adviser to the Imperial ladies) as successor to the Patriarchal chair. him naturally fell1 the task of presiding at a commission, which met in the official apartments of Theoktistos 2 and prepared the material for the coming Council.3
Before the Council met, early in March (A.D. 843), the Patriarch John must have been officially informed by the Empress of her intention to convoke it, and summoned to attend. He was not untrue to the iconoclastic doctrine which he had actively defended for thirty years, and he declined to alter his convictions in order to remain in the Patriarchal chair. He was deposed by the Council, Methodius was elected Council supplied the Commission with its material.
4 In the sources there is some variation in the order of events. Theophanes, De ex. S. Niceph., represents the deposition of John (with the measures taken against him) as an act of the Council which restored orthodoxy. George Mon. (also a contemporary) agrees (802), and the account of Genesios is quite consistent, for he relates the measures taken against John after the Council (81). According to Cont. Th. John received an ultimatum from the Empress before the Council met (150-151), but this version cannot be preferred to that of Genesios. After the act of deposition by the Council, Constantine, the Drungary of the Watch, was sent with some of his officers, to remove John from the Patriarcheion. He made excuses and would not stir, and when Bardas went to inquire why he refused, he displayed his stomach pricked all over with sharp instruments, and alleged that the wounds were inflicted by the cruelty of Constantine (an Armenian) and his officers, whom he stigmatized as pagans (this insult excites the wrath of Genesios who was a descendant of Constantine). But Bardas saw through the trick. Genesios does not expressly say that the wounds were self-inflicted, but his vague words suggest this inference to the reader (cp. Hirsch, 153). In Cont. Th. the story is elaborated, and the manner in which John wounded
1 Cp. Uspenski, op. cit. 33. That Methodius took the leading part in the preparations, and that the success of the Council was chiefly due to his influence and activity is a conclusion which all the circumstances suggest; without the co-operation of such an ecclesiastic, the government could not have carried out their purpose. But a hagiographical tradition confirms the conclusion. It was said that hermits of Mount Olympus, Joannikios, who had the gift of prophecy, and Arsakios, along with one Esaias of Nicomedia, were inspired to urge Methodius to restore images, and that at their instigation he incited the Empress (Narr. de Theophili absol. 25). This story assumes that Methodius played an important part. According to Vit. Mich. Sync. A 249, the Empress and Senate sent a message to Joannikios, who recommended Methodius. The same writer says (ib.) that Michael the synkellos was designated by popular opinion as John's successor. But the hagiographers are unscrupulous in making statements which exalt their heroes (see below, p. 148, n. 1). He seems to have been made abbot of the Chora convent (ib. 250); he died January 4, 846 (cp. Vailhé, Saint Michel, 314).
2 Gen. 80.
3 The preparation of the reports for the Council of A.D. 815 had occupied nearly a year (see above, p. 60). The Acts of the Seventh Ecumenical