« ForrigeFortsett »
with equal honour, in all the pious and charitable foundations of Justinian; and the most benevolent institution of his reign may be ascribed to the sympathy of the empress for her less fortunate sisters, who had been seduced or compelled to embrace the trade of prostitution. A palace, on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus, was converted into a stately and spacious monastery, and a liberal maintenance was assigned to five hundred women, who had been col. lected from the streets and brothels of Constantinople. In this safe and holy retreat, they were devoted to perpetual confinement; and the despair of some, who threw themselves headlong into the sea, was lost in the gratitude of the peni. tents, who had been delivered from sin and misery by their generous benefactress.* The prudence of Theodora is celebrated by Justinian himself; and his laws are attributed to the sage counsels of his most reverend wife, whom he had received as the gift of the Deity.† Her courage was displayed amidst the tumult of the people and the terrors of the court. Her chastity, from the moment of her union with Justinian, is founded on the silence of her implacable enemies : and, although the daughter of Acacius might be satiated with love, yet some applause is due to the firmness of a mind which could sacrifice pleasure and habit to the stronger sense either of duty or interest. The wishes and prayers of Theodora could never obtain the blessing of a lawful son, and she buried an infant daughter, the sole offspring of her marriage. I Notwithstanding this disappointment, her dominion was permanent and absolute; she preserved, by art or merit, the affections of Justinian; and their seeming 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 prefect, the great treasurer,
* Compare the Anecdotes (c. 17) with the Edifices. (1. 1, c. 9.) How differently may the same fact be stated! John Malalas (tom. ii, p. 174, 175) observes, that on this or a similar occasion, she released and clothed the girls whom she had purchased from the stews at five aurei a-piece.
* Novel. 8. 1. An allusion to Theodora. Her enemies read the name Dæmonodora. (Aleman. p. 66.)
I St. Sabas refused to pray for a con of Theodora, lest he should prove a heretic worse than Anastasius himself. (Cyril in Vit. St. Sabæ,
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.* At length, in the twenty-fourth year of her marriage, and the twenty-second of her reign, she was consumed by a cancer;ť 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
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, 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
apud Aleman. p. 70. 109.)
* See John Malalas, tom. ii, p. 174. Theophanes, p. 158. Procopius de Edific. l. 5, c. 3.
of Theodora Chalcedonensis synodi inimica canceris plagâ toto corpore perfusa vitam prodigiose finivit. (Victor Tununensis in Chron.) On such occasions, an orthodox mind is steeled against pity. Alemannus (p. 12, 13) understands the evoißws Écocuńon of Tbeophanes as civil language, which does not imply either piety or repentance; yet two years after her death, St. Theodora is celebrated by Paulus Silentiarius (in Proem. 5. 58–62).
I 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 dæmonumsatanico agitata spiritû--æstro percita diabolico, &c. &c. (A.D. 548, No. 24.)
$ Read and feel the twenty-third 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 Olympic Games (sect. 12—17) affords much curious and authentic information.
emperors: but the reins were abandoned to servile hands; and if the profits of a favourite 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 colours, a light green, and'a cerulean 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 colours were derived from the various appearances of nature in the four seasons of the year; the red dog-star 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 ardour of the Roman people, who devoted their lives and fortunes to the colour 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 favourites, chastised their antagonists, and deserved the esteem of the
* The four colours, albati, russati, prasini, veneti, represent the four seasons according to Cassiodorus, (Var. 3. 51) who lavishes much wit and eloquence on this theatrical mystery. Of these colours, 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 term Veneti has been shown (ch. 35) to be the Latin form of the Celtic Avainach, or Waierlanders. In the sunny climes of the south, the floods have always an azure hue, and hence the watery colour was used in the circus to denote the blue. It is difficult to conceive how Cassiodorus was led to suppose that it bore any resemblance to the “nubila hyems.” It will be seen also, (ch. 45) that Venetia was early noted for its breed of race-horses. This may have concurred in the adoption of the name for a colour. -Ed.]
populace by the natural or affected imitation of their manners. 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 the violence of a consul and a patrician, who were passionately addicted to the blue faction of the circus.*
Constantinople adopted the follies, though not the virtues, 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 religious 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 colours produced two strong and irreconcilable factions, which shook the foundations of a feeble government. 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 Con
* See Onuphrius Panvinius de Ludis Circensibus, 1. 1, c. 10, 11, the seventeenth Annotation on Mascou's History of the Germans, and Aleman, ad c. 7. [Theodoric's order to institute a judicial inquiry into this assault, which caused the death of one of the Prasini, (Var. 1. 27) is a more authentic evidence of the fact and of his sentiments. He there declares himself to be the protector of the humble against the powerful.--Ed.]
+ Marcellin. in Chron. p. 47. Instead of the vulgar word veneta, he uses the more exquisite terms of cærulea and cerealis. Baronius (A.D. 501, No. 4–6) 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.)
I See Procopius, Persic. 1. 1, c. 24. In describing the vices of the factions and of the government, the public is not more favourable than the secret historian. Aleman. (p. 26) has quoted a fine passage from Gregory Nazianzen, which proves the inveteracy of
stantinople, and the support of a faction became necessary to every candidate for civil or ecclesiastical honours. 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,* 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 favour, 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 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 those 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.f The despair of the greens,
* The partiality of Justinian for the blues (Anecdot. c. 7) is attested by Evagrius (Hist. Eccles. 1. 4, c. 32); John Malalas (tom. ii, p. 138, 139), especially for Antioch; and Theophanes (p. 142).
+ A wife (says Procopius), who was seized and almost ravished by