prayers of Theodora could never obtain the blessing of a lawful son, and she buried an infant daughter, the sole offspring of her marriage. 57 Notwithstanding this disappointment, her dominion was permanent and absolute; she preserved, by art or merit, the affections of Justinian; and their sceming dissensions were always fatal to the courtiers who believed them to be sincere. Perhaps her health had been impaired by the licentiousness of her youth; but it was always delicate, and she was directed by her physicians to use the Pythian warm baths. In this journey, the empress was followed by the Prætorian praefect, the great treasurer, several counts and patricians, and a splendid train of four thousand attendants: the highways were repaired at her approach, a palace was erected for her reception : and as she passed through Bithynia, she distributed liberal alms to the churches, the monasteries, and the hospitals, that they might implore Heaven for the restoration of her health.38 At length, in the twenty-fourth year of her marriage, and the twenty-second of her reign, she was consumed by a cancer; and the irreparable loss was deplored by her husband, who, in the room of a theatrical prostitute, might have selected the purest and most noble virgin of the East.40

II. A material difference may be observed in the games of antiquity: the most eminent of the Greeks were actors, the Romans were merely spectators. The Olympic stadium was open to wealth, merit, and ambition; and if the candidates could depend on their personal skill and activity, they might pursue the footsteps of Diomede and Menelaus, and conduct their own horses in the rapid career. Ten, twenty, forty chariots were allowed to start at the same instant; a crown of leaves was the reward of the victor; and his fame,



37 St. Sabas refused to pray for a son of Theodora, lest he should prove a heretic worse than Anastasius hiinself (Cyril in Vit. St. Sabæ. apud Aleman. pp. 70, 109).

35 See John Malala, tom. ii. p. 174. Thcophanes. p. 158. Procopius de Edific, 1. v. c. 3.

39 Theodora Chalcedonensis synođi inimica canceris plagâ toto corpore per. fusa vitam prodigiose finivit (Victor Tununensis in Chron). On such occasions, au orthodox mind is steeled against pity. Alemanirus (pp. 12, 13) understands the evo éßws évoluÝAn of Theophanes as civil language, which does not imply either pety or repentance ; yet two years after her death, St. Theodora is celebrated by Paul Silentiari'is (in proem. v. 58-62).

49 As she persecuted the popes, and rejected a council, Baronius exhausts the names of Eve, Dalila, Herodias. &c.; after which he has recourse to his infernal dictionary: civis inferni-alumna dæmonum-satanico agitata spiritû-cestro percita diabolico, &c., &c. (A.D. 518, Nos. 24).

$1 Read and feel the xxiid book of the Iliad, a living picture of manners, passions, and the whole form and spirit of the chariot race. West's Dissertation on the Oiympic Games (sect. xii.-xvii.) affords much curious and authentic iufore mation.

with that of his family and country, was chanted in lyric strains more durable than monuments of brass and marble. But a senator, or even a citizen, conscious of his dignity, would have blushed to expose his person or his horses in the circus of Rome. The games were exhibited at the expense of the republic, the magistrates, or the emperors : but the reins were abandoned to servile hands; and if the profits of a favorite charioteer sometimes exceeded those of an advocate, they must be considered as the effects of popular extravagance, and the high wages of a disgraceful profession. The race, in its first institution, was a simple contest of two chariots, whose drivers were distinguished by white and red liveries: two additional colors a light green, and a cærulean blue, were afterwards introduced; and, as the races were repeated twenty-five times, one hundred chariots contributed in the same day to the pomp of the circus. The four factions soon acquired a legal establishment, and a mysterious origin, and their fanciful colors were derived from the various appearances of nature in the four seasons of the


the red dogstar of summer, the snows of winter, the deep shades of autumn, and the cheerful verdure of the spring. Another interpretation preferred the elements to the seasons, and the struggle of the green and blue was supposed to represent the conflict of the earth and sea. Their respective victories announced either a plentiful harvest or a prosperous navigation, and the hostility of the husbandmen and mariners was somewhat less absurd than the blind ardor of the Roman people, who devoted their lives and fortunes to the color which they had espoused. Such folly was disdained and indulged by the wisest princes; but the names of Caligula, Nero, Vitellius, Verus, Commodus, Caracalla, and Elagabalus, were enrolled in the blue or green factions of the circus: they frequented their stables, applauded their favorites, chastised their antagonists, and deserved the esteem of the populace, by the natural or affected imitation of their

The bloody and tumultuous contest continued to disturb the public festivity, till the last age of the spectacles of Rome; and Theodoric, from a motive of justice or affection, interposed his authority to protect the greens against

42 The four colors, albati, russati, prasini, veneti, represent the four seasons, according to Cassiodorus (Var. iii. 51), who lavishes much wit and eloquence on this theatrical mystery. Of these colors, the three first may be fairly translated white, red, and green. Venetus is explained by coeruleus, a word various and vague : it is properly the sky reflected in the sea; but custom and convenience may allow blue as an equivalent (Robert. Stephan. sub voce. Spence's Polymetis, p. 228),



the violence of a consul and a patrician, who were passion: ately addicted to the blue faction of the circus.

Constantinople adopted the follies, though not the vir. tues, of ancient Rome; and the same factions which had agitated the circus, raged with redoubled fury in the hippodrome. Under the reign of Anastasius, this popular frenzy was inflamed by religiosis zeal; and the greens, who had treacherously concealed stones and daggers under baskets of fruit, massacred, at a solemn festival, three thousand of their blue adversaries. From the capital, this pestilence was diffused into the provinces and cities of the East, and the sportive distinction of two colors produced two strong and irreconcilable factions, which shook the foundations of a feeble government.45 The popular dissensions, founded on the most serious interest, or holy pretence, have scarcely equalled the obstinacy of this wanton discord, which invaded the peace of families, divided friends and brothers, and tempted the female sex, though seldom seen in the circus, to espouse the inclinations of their lovers, or to contradict the wishes of their husbands. Every law, either human or divine, was trampled under foot, and as long as the party was successful, its deluded followers appeared careless of private distress or public calamity. The license, without the freedom, of democracy, was revived at Antioch and Constantinople, and the support of a faction became necessary to every candidate for civil or ecclesiastical honors. A secret attachment to the family or sect of Anastasius was imputed to the greens; the blues were zealously devoted to the cause of orthodoxy and Justinian, 46 and their grateful patron protected, above five years, the disorders of a faction, whose seasonable tumults overawed the palace, the senate, and the capitals of the East. Insolent with royal favor, the blues affected to strike terror by a peculiar and Barbaric dress, the long hair of the Huns, their close sleeves and ample garments, a lofty step, and a sonorous voice. In the day

43 See Onuphrius Panvinius de Ludis Circensibus, 1. i. c. 10, 11; the xviith Annotation on Mascou's History of the Germans; and Aleman. ad c. vii.

44 Marcellin. in Chron. p. 47. Instead of the vulgar word veneta, he uses the more exquisite terms of coerulea and cærealis. Baronius (A. D. 501, No. 4, 5, 6) is satisfied that the blues were orthodox; but Tillemont is angry at the supposition, and will not allow any martyrs in a playhouse (Hist. des. Emp. tom, vi. p. 554).

45 See Procopius (Persic. 1. i. c. 24). În describing the vices of the factions and of the governnient, the public, is not more favorable than the secret, historian. Alemani. (p. 26) has quoted a fine passage from Gregory Nazianzen, which proves the inveteracy of the cvil.

46 The partiality of Justinian for the blues (Anecdot. c. 7) is attested by Evagrius (Hist. Eccles. 1. iv. c. 32), John Malala (tom. ii. p. 138, 139), especially for Antioch ; and Theophanes (p. 142).

they concealed their two-edged poniards, but in the night they boldly assembled in arms, and in numerous bands, prepared for every act of violence and rapine. Their adversaries of the green faction, or even inoffensive citizens, were stripped and often murdered by these nocturnal robbers, and it became dangerous to wear any gold buttons or girdles, or to appear at a late hour in the streets of a peaceful capital. A daring spirit, rising with impunity, proceeded to violate the safeguard of private houses; and fire was employed to facilitate the attack, or to conceal the crimes of these factious rioters. No place was safe or sacred from their depredations; to gratify either avarice or revenge, they profusely spilt the blood of the innocent; churches and altars were polluted by atrocious murders; and it was the boast of the assassins, that their dexterity could always inflict a mortal wound with a single stroke of their dagger. The dissolute youth of Constantinople adopted the blue livery of disorder; the laws were silent, and the bonds of society were relaxed : creditors were compelled to resign their obligations; judges to reverse their sentence; masters to enfranchise their slaves; fathers to supply the extravagance of their children; noble matrons were prostituted to the lust of their servants; beautiful boys were torn from the arms of their parents; and wives, unless they preferred a voluntary death, were ravished in the presence of their husbands.47 The despair of the greens, who were persecuted by their enemies, and deserted by the magistrates, assumed the privilege of defence, perhaps of retaliation; but those who survived the combat were dragged to execution, and the unhappy fugitives, escaping to woods and caverns, preyed without mercy on the society from whence they were expelled. Those ministers of justice who had courage to punish the crimes, and to brave the resentment, of the blues, became the victims of their indiscreet zeal; a præfect of Constantinople fled for refuge to the holy sepulchre; a count of the East was ignominiously whipped, and a governor of Cilicia was hanged, by the order of Theodora, on the tomb of two assassins whom he had condemned for the murder of his groom, and a daring attack upon his own life.4 An aspiring candidate

47 A wife (says Proropius), who was seized and almost ravished by a blue-coat. threw herself into the Bosphorus. The bishops of the second Syria (Aleman. P. 26) deplore a similar suicide, the guilt or glory of female chastity, and name the heroine,

48 The doubtful credit of Procopius (Anecdot. c. 17) is supported by the less partial Evagrius, who confirms the fact, and specifies the names. The tragio late of the præfect of Constantinople is related by John Malala (tom. i. p. 139).

may be tempted to build his greatness on the public con. fusion, but it is the interest as well as duty of a sovereign to maintain the authority of the laws. The first edict of Justinian, which was often repeated, and sometimes executed, announced his firm resolution to support the innocent, and to chastise the guilty, of every denomination and color. Yet the balance of justice was still inclined in favor of the blue faction, by the secret affection, the habits, and the fears of the emperor; his equity, after an apparent struggle, submitted, without reluctance, to the implacable passions of Theodora, and the empress never forgot, or forgave, the injuries of the comedian. At the accession of the younger Justin, the proclamation of equal and rigorous justice indirectly condemned the partiality of the former reign. “Ye blues, Justinian is no more! ye greens, he is still alive!” 49

A sedition, which almost laid Constantinople in ashes, was excited by the mutual hatred and momentary reconciliation of the two factions. In the fifth year of his reign, Justinian celebrated the festival of the ides of January: the games were incessantly disturbed by the clamorous discontent of the greens : till the twenty-second race, the emperor maintained his silent gravity; at length, yielding to his impatience, he condescended to hold, in abrupt sentences, and by the voice of a crier, the most singular dialogue so that ever passed between a prince and his subjects. Their first complaints were respectful and modest; they accused the subordinate ministers of oppression, and proclaimed their wishes for the long life and victory of the emperor.

« Ве patient and attentive, ye insolent railers !” exclaimed Justinian; “be mute, ye Jews, Samaritans, and Manichæans!” The greens still attempted to awaken his compassion. “We are poor, we are innocent, we are injured, we dare not pass through the streets: a general persecution is exercised against our name and color. Let us die, O emperor! but let us die by your command, and for your service!" But the repetition of partial and passionate invectives degraded, in their eyes, the majesty of the purple: they renounced allegiance to the prince who refused justice to his people;

49 See John Malala (tom, ii, p. 147); yet he owns that Justinian was attached to the blues. The seeming discord of the emperor and Theodora is, perhaps, viewed with too much jealousy and refinement by Procopius (Anecdot. c. 10). See Aleman. Præfat. p. 6,

50 This dialogue, which Theoplanes has preferred, exhibits the popular language, as well as the manners, of Constantinople, in the vith century. Their Greek is mingled with many strange and barbarous words, for which Ducange cannot always find a meaning or etymology.

« ForrigeFortsett »