credit, or rather favor, as a strange example of the vicissitudes of fortune." If the emperor could rejoice in the death of Belisarius, he enjoyed the base satisfaction only eight months, the last period of a reign of thirty-eight, and a life of eightythree years. It would be difficult to trace the character of a prince who is not the most conspicuous object of his own times: but the confessions of an enemy may be received as the safest evidence of his virtues. The resemblance of Justinian to the bust of Domitian, is maliciously urged;" with the acknowledgment, however, of a well-proportioned figure, a ruddy complexion, and a pleasing countenance. The emperor was easy of access, patient of hearing, courteous and affable in discourse, and a master of the angry passions which rage with such destructive violence in the breast of a despot. Procopius praises his temper, to reproach him with calm and deliberate cruelty; but in the conspiracies which attacked his authority and person, a more candid judge will approve the justice, or admire the clemency, of Justinian. He excelled in the private virtues of chastity and temperance: but the impartial love of beauty would have been less mischievous than his conjugal tenderness for Theodora ; and his abstemious diet was regulated, not by the prudence of a philosopher, but the superstition of a monk. His repasts were short and frugal: on solemn fasts, he contented himself with water and vegetables; and such was his strength, as well as fervor, that he frequently passed two days, and as many nights, without tasting any food. The measure of his sleep was not less rigorous: after the repose of a single hour, the body was awakened by the soul, and, to the astonishment of his chamberlains, Justinian walked or studied till the morning light. Such restless application prolonged his time for the acquisition of knowledge" and the despatch of business and he might seriously deserve the reproach of confounding, by minute and preposterous diligence, the general order of his administration. The emperor professed himself a musician and architect, a poet and philosopher, a lawyer and theologian ; and if he failed in the enterprise of reconciling the Christian sects, the review of the Roman jo. is a noble monument of his spirit and industry. n the government of the empire, he was less wise, or less successful: the age was unfortunate; the people was oppressed and discontented ; Theodora abused her power; a succession of bad ministers disgraced his judgment; and Justinian was neither beloved in his life, nor regretted at his death. The love of fame was deeply implanted in his breast, but he condescended to the poor ambition of titles, honors, and contemporary praise; and while he labored to fix the admiration, he forfeited the esteem and affection, of the Romans. The design of the African and Italian wars was boldly conceived and executed; and his penetration discovered the talents of Belisarius in the camp, of Narses in the palace. But the name of the emperor is eclipsed by the names of his victorious generals; and Belisarius still lives, to upbraid the envy and ingratitude of his sovereign. The partial favor of mankind applauds the genius of a conqueror, who leads and directs his subjects in the exercise of arms. The characters of Philip the Second and of Justinian are distinguished by the cold ambition which delights in war, and declines the dangers of the field. Yet a colossal statue of bronze represented the emperor on horseback, preparing to march against the Persians in the habit and armor of Achilles, in the great square before the church of St. Sophia, this monument was raised on a brass column and a stone pedestal of seven steps; and the pillar of Theodosius, which weighed seven thousand four hundred pounds of silver, was removed from the same place by the avarice and vanity of Justinian. Future princes were more just or indulgent to his memory; the elder Andronicus, in the beginning of the fourteenth century, repaired and beautified his equestrian statue; since the fall of the empire it has been melted into cannon by the victorious Turks.”

defended by Baronius (A. D. 561, No. 2, &c.), for the honor of the church. Yet TZetzes himself had read in other chronicles, that Belisarius did not lose his sight, and that he recovered his fame and fortunes.

". The statue in the villa Borghese at Rome, in a sitting posture, with an open hand, which is vulgarly given to Belisarius, may be ascribed with more dignity to Augustus in the act of propitiating Nemesis (Winckelman. Hist. de l’Art, tom. iii. p. 266). Ex nocturmo visu etiam stipem, quotannis, die certo, emendi. cabat a popuio, cavam manum asses porrigentibus praebens (Sueton. in August. c. 91, with an excellent note of Casaubon).”

7. The rubor of Domitian is stigmatized, quaintly enough, by the pen of Tacitus (in Vit. Agricol. c. 45); and has been likewise noticed by the younger Pliny (Panegyr. c. 48) and Suetonius (in Domitian, c. 18, and Casaubon ad locum). Procopius (Anecdot. c. 8) foolishly believes that only one bust of Doleitian had reached the with century.

* I ord Mahon abandons the statue, as altogether irreconcilable with the state of the arts at this period (p. 472).-M.

* The studies and science of Justinian are attested by the confession (Anecdot. c. 8, 13) still more than by the praises (Gothic. l. iii. c. 31, de Edific. l. i. £room. c. 7) of Procopius. , Consult the copious index of Alemannus, and read the life of Justinian by Ludewig (pn. 135-142).

*See in the C. P. Christiana of Dugange (l. i. c. 24, No. 1), a chain of original testimonies, from Procopius in the vith, to Gyllius in the xvith century.

I shall conclude this chapter with the comets, the earth. quakes, and the plague, which astonished or afflicted the age of Justinian.

I. In the fifth year of his reign, and in the month of September, a comet?" was seen during twenty days in the western quarter of the heavens, and which shot its rays into the north. Eight years afterwards, while the sun was in Capricorn, another comet appeared to follow in the Sagittary; the size was gradually increasing; the head was in the east, the tail in the west, and it remained visible above forty days. The nations, who gazed with astonishment, expected wars and calamities from their baleful influence; and these expectations were abundantly fulfilled. The astronomers dissembled their ignorance of the nature of these blazing stars, which they affected to represent as the floating meteors of the air; and few among them embraced the simple notion of Seneca and the Chaldeans, that they are only planets of a longer period and more eccentric motion.” Time and science have justified the conjectures and predictions of the IRoman sage: the telescope has opened new worlds to the eyes of astronomers; " and, in the narrow space of history and fable, one and the same comet is already found to have revisited the earth in seven equal revolutions of five hundred and seventy-five years. The first,” which ascends beyond the Christian aera one thousand seven hundred and sixty-seven years, is cočval with Ogyges, the father of Grecian antiquity. And this appearance explains the tradition which Varro has preserved, that under his reign the planet Venus changed her color, size, figure, and course; a prodigy without example either in past or succeeding ages.” The second visit, in the year eleven hundred and ninety-three, is darkly implied in the fable of Electra, the seventh of the Pleiads, who have been reduced to six since the time of the Trojan war. That nymph, the wife of Dardanus, was unable to support the ruin of her country: she abandoned the dances of her sister orbs, fled from the zodiac to the north pole, and obtained, from her dishevelled locks, the name of the comet. The third period expires in the year six hundred and eighteen, a date that exactly agrees with the tremendous comet of the Sibyl, and perhaps of Pliny, which arose in the West two generations before the reign of Cyrus. The fourth apparition, forty-four years before the birth of Christ, is of all others the most splendid and important. After the death of Caesar, a long-haired star was conspicuous to Rome and to the nations, during the games which were exhibited by young Octavian in honor of Venus and his uncle. The vulgar opinion, that it conveyed to heaven the divine soul of the dictator, was cherished and consecrated by the piety of a statesman; while his secret superstition referred the comet to the glory of his own times.” The fifth visit has been already ascribed to the fifth year of Justinian, which coincides with the five hundred and thirty-first of the Christian era. And it may deserve notice, that in this, as in the preceding instance, the comet was followed, though at a longer interval, by a remarkable paleness of the sun. The sixth return, in the year eleven hundred and six, is recorded by the chronicles of Europe and China: and in the first fervor of the crusades, the Christians and the Mahometans might surmise, with equal reason, that it portended the destruction of the infidels. The seventh phenomenon, of one thousand six hundred and eighty, was presented to the eyes of an enlightened age.” The philosophy of Bayle dispelled a prejudice which Milton's muse had so recently adorned, that the comet, “from its horrid hair shakes pestilence and war.”” Its road in the heavens was observed with exquisite skill by Flamstead and Cassini: and the m: thematical science of IBernoulli, Newton," and Halley, investigated the laws of its revolutions. At the eighth period, in the year two thousand three hundred and fifty-five, their calculations may perhaps be verified by the astronomers of some future capital in the Siberian or American wilderness. II. The near approach of a comet may injure or destroy the globe which we inhabit; but the changes on its surface have been hitherto produced by the action of volcanoes and earthquakes.” The nature of the soil may indicate the countries most exposed to these formidable concussions, since they are caused by subterraneous fires, and such fires are kindled by the union and fermentation of iron and sulphur. But their times and effects appear to lie beyond the reach of human curiosity; and the philosopher will discreetly abstain from the prediction of earthquakes, till he has counted the drops of water that silently filtrate on the inflammable mineral, and measured the caverns which increase by resistance the explosion of the imprisoned air. Without assigning the cause, history will distinguish the periods in which these calamitous events have been rare or frequent, and will observe, that this fever of the earth raged with uncommon violence during the reign of Justinian.” Each year is marked by the repetition of earthquakes, of such duration, that Constantinople has been shaken above forty days; of such extent, that the shock has been communicated to the whole surface of the globe, or at least of the IRoman empire. An impulsive or vibratory motion was felt; enormous chasms were opened, huge and heavy bodies were discharged into the air, the sea alter. nately advanced and retreated beyond its ordinary bounds,

14 The first comet is mentioned by John Malala (tom. ii. pp.190, 219) and Theophanes (p. 154); the second, by o: (Persic.I., ii, c. 4). Yet I strongly suspect their identity. The paleness of the sun (Vandal. l. ii. c. 14) is applied by Théophanes (p. 158) to a different year.”

75 §. viith book of Natural Questions displays, in the theory of comets, a philosophic mind. Yet should we not too candidly confound a vague prediction, a veniet tempus, &c., with the merit of real discoveries.

76 Astronomers may study, Newton, and Halley... I draw my humble science from the article CoMETE, in the French Encyclopedie, by M. d’Alembert.

in whiston, the horest, pious, visionary. Whiston, had fancied for the era of Noah's flood (2242 years before Christ) a prior apparition of the same comet which drowned the earth with its tail. - -

is A Dissertation of Freret (Mémoires de l'Académie des Inscriptions, tom. x. p. 357-377) affords a happy union of philosophy and erudition. The phenomenon in

* See Lydus de Ostentis, particularly c. 15, in which the author begins to show the signification of comets according to the part of the heavens in which they appear, and what fortunes, they prognosticate to the Roman ompire and their i." onemies. The chapter, however, is imperfect. (Edit. Niebuhr, p. 290).-M.

the time of Ogyges was preserved by Varro (Apud Augustin. de Civitate Dei, xxi. 8), who quotes Castor. 15ion of Naples and Adrastus of Cyzicus—nobiles mathematici. The two subsequent periods are preserved by the Greek mythologists and the spurious books of Sibylline verses. 79 Pliny (Hist. Nat. ii. 23) has transcribed the original memorial of Augustus. Mairan, in his most ingenious letters to the P. Parennin. missionary in China, removes the games and the comet of September, from the year 44 to the year 43. before the Christian aera : but I am not totally subdued by the criticism of the astronomer (Opuscules, pp. 275-351). * This last comet was visible in the month of December, 1680. Bayle, who began his Pensées sur la Comète in January, 1681 (CEuvres. tom. iii.), was forced to argue that a supernatural comet would have confirmed the ancients in their idolatry. Bernoulli (see his Eloge, in Fontenelle, tom. v. p. 99) was forced to allow that the tail, though not the head. was a sign of the wrath of God. ** Paradise Lost was published in the year 1667; and the famous lines (l. ii. 708, &c). which startled the licenser, may allude to the recent comet of 1664 observed by Cassini at Rome in the presence of Queen Christina (Fontenelle, in his Eloge, torn. v. p. 338). Had Charles II, betrayed any symptoms of curiosity or fear 2 * For the cause of earthquakes, see Buffon (tom. i. pp. 502-536. Supplément à !' Hist. Naturelle, tom. v. pp. 382–300, edition in 4to.), Valmont de Bomare (I)ictionnaire d’Histoire Naturelle, Tremblement de Terre, Pyrites), Watson (Chemical Fssays, tom. i. pp. 181-209), * The earthquakes that shook the Roman world in the reign of Justinian are described or mentioned by Procopius (Goth. l. iv. c.25, Anecdot. c. 18), Agathias, (1 ii. pp. 52, 53.54. ). v. pp. 145–152), John Malala (Chron. tom. ii. pp. 140–146, 176, 177, 183, 193,220, 229 231, 233,234), and Theophanes (pp. 151, 183, 189, 191-196).t

* Compare Pingrè, Histoire des Comètes.—M. + corate Daubeny on Earthquakes, and Lyell's Geology, vol. ii. p. 181, et seq.—M.

« ForrigeFortsett »