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Map or The Crusades

Frontispiece.

THE

HISTORY

OF

THE DECLINE AND FALL

OP THE

ROMAN EMPIRE.

CHAPTER LIII.

State Of The Eastern Empire In The Tenth Century. Extent And Division. Wealth And Revenue. Palace or Constantinople. Titles And Offices. Pride And Power Of The Emperors. Tactics Of The Greeks, Arabs, And Franks. — Loss Of The Latin Tongue.Studies And Solitude Of The Greeks.

A Ray of historic light seems to beam from the darkness of the tenth century. We open with curiosity and respect the royal

i r n > T«i • ii-ii Memorials

volumes of Constantine rorpnyrogenitus,' which he com- of the Greek posed at a mature age for the instruction of his son, and mp which promise to unfold the state of the Eastern empire, both in peace and war, both at home and abroad. In the first of Works of these works he minutely describes the pompous ceremonies j£rS*!1.Uno of the church and palace of Constantinople, according to r°g«iitu». his own practice and that of his predecessors.2 In the second he attempts an accurate survey of the provinces, the themes, as they were then denominated, both of Europe and Asia.3 The system of

1 The epithet of n«{pvfcyltnrts, Porphyrogenitus, born in the purple, is elegantly defined by Claudian:—

Ardua privatos nescit fortuna Penates; Et regnum cum luce dedit. Cognata potestas Excepit Tyrio venerabile pignus in ostro. And Ducange, in his Greek and Latin Glossaries, produces many passages expressive of the same idea.

* A splendid MS. of Constantine, de Coeremoniis Aulte et Ecclesire Byzantinae, wandered from Constantinople to Buda, Frankfort, and Leipsic, where it was published in a splendid edition by Leich and Iieiske (am. 1751, in folio), with such lavish praise as editors never fail to bestow on the worthy or worthless object of their toil.

3 See, in the first volume of Banduri's Imperium Orientale, Constantinus de TheVOL. vn. B

2 WORKS OF CONSTANTINE POBPHYROGENITUS. Chap. LIII.

Roman tactics, the discipline and order of the troops, and the military operations by land and sea, are explained in the third of these didactic collections, which may be ascribed to Constantine or his father Leo.'1 In the fourth, of the administration of the empire, he reveals the secrets of the Byzantine policy, in friendly or hostile intercourse with the nations of the earth. The literary labours of the age, the practical systems of law, agriculture, and history, might redound to the benefit of the subject, and the honour of the Macedonian princes. The sixty books of the Basilics,5 the code and pandects of civil jurisprudence, were gradually framed in the three first reigns of that prosperous dynasty. The art of agriculture had amused the leisure, and exercised the pens, of the best and wisest of the ancients; and their chosen precepts are comprised in the twenty books of the Geoponics'' of Constantine. At his command the historical examples of vice and virtue were methodised in fifty-three books,7 and every citizen might apply to his contemporaries or himself the lesson or the warning of past times. From the august character of a legislator, the sovereign of the East descends to the more humble office of a teacher and a scribe; and if his successors

niatibus, p. 1-24 (tom. iii. p. 11-64, ed. Bonn]; de Administrando Imperio, p. 45-127, edit. Venet. (t. iii. p. 65-270, ed. Bonn]. The text of the old edition of Meursius is corrected from a MS. of the royal library of Paris, which Isaac Casaubon had formerly seen (Epiat. ad Polybium, p. 10), and the sense is illustrated by two maps of William Deslisle, the prince of geographers till the appearance of the greater D'Anville.

4 The Tactics of Leo and Constantine are published with the aid of some new MSS. in the great edition of the works of Meursius, by the learned John Lami (tom. vi. p. 531-920, 1211-1417, Florent. 1745), yet the text is still corrupt and mutilated, the version is still obscure and faulty. The Imperial Library of Vienna would afford some valuable materials to a new editor (Fabric. Biblioth. Gram. tom. vi. p. 369, 370).*

5 On the subject of the Basilica, Fabricius (Biblioth. Grace, tom. xii. p. 425-514), and Heineccius (Hist. Juris Romani, p. 396-399), and Qiannone (Istoria Civile di Napoli, tom. i. p. 450-458), as historical civilians, may be usefully consulted, Xli books of this Greek code have been published, with a Latin version, by Charles Annibal Fabrottus (Paris, 1647), in seven tomes in folio; iv other books have been since discovered, and are inserted in Gerard Meerman's Novus Thesaurus Juris Civ. et Canon, torn. v. Of the whole work, the sixty books, John Leunclavius has printed (Basil, 1575) an eclogue or synopsis. The cxui novels, or new laws, of Leo, may be found in the Corpus Juris Civilis.b

6 I have used the last and best edition of the Geoponics (by Nicolas Nicolas, Lipsiae, 1781, 2 vols, in octavo). I read in the preface that the same emperor restored the long-forgottuu systems of rhetoric aud philosophy; and his two books of Hippiatrica, or Horse-physic, were published at Paris, 15;10, in folio (Fabric. Biblioth. Once. torn. vi. p. 493-50(1).

7 Of these Liii books, or titles, only two have been preserved and printed—de Legationibus (by Fulviua Ursinus, Antwerp, 1582, and Daniel Hooschclius, August. Viudel. 1603) and de Virtutibus et Vitiis (by Henry Valesius, or de Valois, Paris, 1634).

a Compare Institutions Militaires de b For an account of the Basilica and of l'Empereur Leon le Philosophe, traduites the sources of the Byzantine law, see par Joly de Maizeroy.—S. Note A at the end of this chapter.—S.

Chap. L1II. THEIR IMPERFECTIONS. 8

and subjects were regardless of his paternal cares, we may inherit and enjoy the everlasting legacy.

A closer survey will indeed reduce the value of the gift and the gratitude of posterity: in the possession of these Imperial Thelr imper- treasures we may still deplore our poverty and ignorance; fecUoMand the fading glories of their authors will be obliterated by indifference or contempt The Basilics will sink to a broken copy, a partial and mutilated version in the Greek language, of the laws of Justinian; but the sense of the old civilians is often superseded by the influence of bigotry: and the absolute prohibition of divorce, concubinage, and interest for money, enslaves the freedom of trade and the happiness of private life. In the historical book a subject of Constantine might admire the inimitable virtues of Greece and Rome: he might learn to what a pitch of energy and elevation the human character had formerly aspired. But a contrary effect must have been produced by a new edition of the lives of the saints, which the great logothete, or chancellor of the empire, was directed to prepare; and the dark fund of superstition was enriched by the fabulous and florid legends of Simon the Metaphrast." The merits and miracles of the whole calendar are of less account in the eyes of a sage than the toil of a single husbandman, who multiplies the gifts of the Creator and supplies the food of his brethren. Yet the royal authors of the Geoponics were more seriously employed in expounding the precepts of the destroying art, which has been taught since the days of Xeuophon9 as the art of heroes and kings. But the Tactics of Leo and Constantine are mingled with the baser alloy of the age in which they lived. It was destitute of original genius; they implicitly transcribe the rules and maxims which had been confirmed by victories. It was unskilled in the propriety of style and method; they blindly confound the most distant and discordant institutions, the phalanx of Sparta and that of Macedon, the legions of Cato and Trajan, of Augustus and Theodosius. Even the use, or

* The life and writings of Simeon Metaphrastes are described by Hankius (de Scriptoribus Byzant. p. 418-460). This biographer of the saints indulged himself in a loose paraphrase of the sense or nonsense of more ancient acts. His Greek rhetoric is again paraphrased in the Latin version of Surius, and scarcely a thread can be now visible of the original texture.

* According to the first book of the Cyropsedia, professors of tactics, a small part of the science of war, were already instituted in Persia, by which Greece must be understood. A good edition of all the Scriptores Tactici would be a task not unworthy of a scholar. His industry might discover some new MSS., and his learning might illustrate the military history of the ancients. But this scholar should be likewise a soldier; and, alas! Quintus Icilius is no more.'

■ M. Guichardt, author of Mcmoiies de mes Lectures. Misc. Works, vol. v. p. Militeires Bur les Greca et sur les Ro- 219.—M. main*. See Gibbon's Gxtraits liaisonnes

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