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SALE OF HOTfOUES AND OFFICES. [CH. XL.
to the hostile dominions of Persia." A province might suffer by the decay of its manufactures; but in this example of silk, Procopius has partially overlooked the inestimable and lasting benefit which the empire received from the curiosity of Justinian. His addition of one-seventh to the ordinary price of copper-money may be interpreted with the same candour; and the alteration, which might be wise, appears to have been innocent; since he neither alloyed the purity, nor enhanced the value, of the gold coin,* the legal measure of public and private payments. V. The ample jurisdiction, required by the farmers of the revenue to accomplish their engagements, might be placed in an odious light, as if they had purchased from the emperor the lives and fortunes of their fellow-citizens. And a more direct sale of honours and offices was transacted in the palace, with the permission, or at least with the connivance, of Justinian and Theodora. The claims of merit, even those of favour, were disregarded, and it was almost reasonable to expect that the bold adventurer, who had undertaken the trade of a magistrate, should find a rich compensation for infamy, labour, danger, the debts which he had contracted, and the heavy interest which he paid. A sense of the disgrace and mischief of this venal practice at length awakened the slumbering virtue of Justinian; and he attempted, by the sanction of oathsf and penalties, to guard the integrity of his government: but at the end of a year of perjury, his rigorous edict was suspended, and corruption licentiously abused her triumph over the impotence of the laws. VI. The testament of Eulalius, count of the domestics, declared the emperor his sole heir, on condition, however, that he should discharge his debts and legacies, allow to his three daughters a decent maintenance, and bestow each of them in marriage, with a portion of ten
vants, stole from the aqueducts. * For an aureus, one
sixth of an ounce of gold, instead of two hundred and ten, he gave no more than one hundred and eighty folles, or ounces of copper. A disproportion of the mint, below the market price, must have soon produced a scarcity of small money. In England, twelve pence in copper would sell for no more than seven pence. (Smith's Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations, vol. i, p. 49.) For Justinian's gold coin, see Evagrius (1ib. 4, c. 30). + The oath is conceived in the
most formidable words. (Novell. 8, tit. 3.) The defaulters imprecate on themselves, quicquid habent telorum armamentaria cceli; the part
pounds of gold. But the splendid fortune of Eulalius had been consumed by fire; and the inventory of his goods did not exceed the trifling sum of five hundred and sixty-four pieces of gold. A similar instance in Grecian history admonished the emperor of the honourable part prescribed for his imitation. He checked the selfish murmurs of the treasury, applauded the confidence of his friend, discharged the legacies and debts, educated the three virgins under the eye of the empress Theodora, and doubled the marriageportion which had satisfied the tenderness of their father.* The humanity of a prince (for princes cannot be generous) is entitled to some praise; yet even in this act of virtue we may discover the inveterate custom of supplanting the legal or natural heirs, which Procopius imputes to the reign of Justinian. His charge is supported by eminent names and scandalous examples; neither widows nor orphans were spared; and the art of soliciting, or extorting, or supposing testaments, was beneficially practised by the agents ot the palace. This base and mischievous tyranny invades the security of private life; and the monarch who has indulged an appetite for gain, will soon be tempted to anticipate the moment of succession, to interpret wealth as an evidence of guilt, and to proceed, from the claim of inheritance, to the power of confiscation. VII. Among the forms of rapine, a philosopher may be permitted to name the conversion of pagan or heretical riches to the use of the faithful; but in the time of Justinian this holy plunder was condemned by the sectaries alone, who became the victims of his orthodox avarice.f
Dishonour might be ultimately reflected on the character of Justinian; but much of the guilt, and still more of the profit, was intercepted by the ministers,! who w-ere seldom promoted for their virtues, and not always selected for their
of J'idas, the leprosy of Gehazi, the tremor of Cain, &c. besides all temporal pains. * A similar or more generous act of friendship is related by Lucian of Eudamidas of Corinth (in Toxare, c. 22, 23, tom. ii, p. 530), and the story has produced an ingenious, though feeble, comedy of Fontenelle.
T John Malalas, tom. ii, p. 101—103. J One of these,
Anatolius, perished in an earthquake—doubtless a judgment! The oomplaints and clamours of the people in Agathias (1. 5, p. 146, 147)
talents. The merits of Tribonian the qtlsestor will hereafter be weighed in the reformation of the Roman law; but the economy of the East was subordinate to the praetorian prefect, and Procopius has justified his anecdotes by the portrait which he exposes in his public history, of the notorious vices of John of Cappadocia.* His knowledge was not borrowed from the schools,f and his style was scarcely legible; but he excelled in the powers of native genius, to suggest the wisest counsels, and to find expedients in the most desperate situations. The corruption of his heart was equal to the vigour of his understanding. Although he was suspected of magic and pagan superstition, he appeared insensible to the fear of God or the reproaches of man; and his aspiring fortune was raised on the death of thousands, the poverty of millions, the ruin of cities, and the desolation of provinces. From the dawn of light to the moment of dinner, he assiduously laboured to enrich his master and himself at the expense of the Roman world; the remainder of the day was spent in sensual and obscene pleasures, and the silent hours of the night were interrupted by the perpetual dread of the justice of an assassin. His abilities, perhaps his vices, recommended him to the lasting friendship of Justinian: the emperor yielded with reluctance to the fury of the people; his victory was displayed by the immediate restoration of their enemy; and they felt above ten years, under his oppressive administration, that he was stimulated by revenge, rather than instructed by misfortune. Their murmurs served only to fortify the resolution of Justinian; but the prefect, in the insolence of favour, provoked the resentment of Theo
are almost an echo of the anecdote. The aliena pecunia raddenda of Corippus (1. 2. 381, &c.) is not very honourable to Justinian's memory.
* See the history and character of John of Cappadocia in Procopius. (Persic. 1 . 1, c. 24, 25; 1 . 2, o. 30. Vandal. 1 . 1, c. 13. Anecdot. c. 2. 17. 22.) The agreement of the history and anecdotes is a mortal wound to the reputation of the prefect.
+ Ou yap dXXo ouSsv ec ypapparttTTOv 0otrwv ffiaBev 3ri pr) ypanpara, xai Tavra Kami Kukuig ypaif/at— a forcible expression. [When one, so notoriously illiterate, could be capable of administering the highest offices of the state, we have a criterion by which to judge how the other departments of life, public and private, were generally filled.—Ed.]
dora, disdained a power before which every knee was bent, and attempted to sow the seeds of discord between the emperor and his beloved consort. Even Theodora herself was constrained to dissemble, to wait a favourable moment, and by an artful conspiracy, to render John of Cappadocia the accomplice of his own destruction. At a time when Belisarius, unless he had been a hero, must have shown himself a rebel, his wife Antonina, who enjoyed the secret confidence of the empress, communicated his feigned discontent to Euphemia, the daughter of the prefect; the credulous virgin imparted to her father the dangerous project, and John, who might have known the value of oaths and promises, was tempted to accept a nocturnal, and almost treasonable interview with the wife of Belisarius. An ambuscade of guards and eunuchs had been posted by the command of Theodora; they rushed with drawn swords to seize or to punish the guilty minister; he was saved by the fidelity of his attendants; but, instead of appealing to a gracious sovereign, who had privately warned him of his danger, he pusillanimously fled to the sanctuary of the church. The favourite of Justinian was sacrificed to conjugal tenderness or domestic tranquillity; the conversion of a prefect into a priest extinguished his ambitious hopes, but the friendship of the emperor alleviated his disgrace, and he retained, in the mild exile of Cyzicus, an ample portion of his riches. Such imperfect revenge could not satisfy the unrelenting hatred of Theodora; the murder of his old enemy, the bishop of Cyzicus, afforded a decent pretence; and John of Cappadocia, whose actions had deserved a thousand deaths, was at last condemned for a crime of which he was innocent. A great minister, who had been invested with the honours of consul and patrician, was ignominiously scourged like the vilest of malefactors; a tattered cloak was the sole remnant of his fortunes; he was transported in a bark to the place of his banishment at Antinopolis in Upper Egypt, and the prefect of the East begged his bread through the cities which had trembled at his name. During an exile of seven years, his life was protected and threatened by the ingenious cruelty of Theodora; and when her death permitted the emperor to recall a servant, whom he had abandoned with regret, the ambition of John of Cappadocia was reduced to the humble
duties of the sacerdotal profession. His successors convinced the subjects of Justinian, that the arts of oppression might still be improved by experience and industry; the frauds of a Syrian banker were introduced into the administration of the finances; and the example of the prefect was diligently copied by the qusestor, the public and private treasurer, the governors of provinces, and the principal magistrates of the Eastern empire.*
• V. The edifices of Justinian were cemented with the blood and treasure of his people; but those stately structures appeared to announce the prosperity of the empire, and actually displayed the skill of their architects. Both the theory and practice of the arts, which depend on mathematical science and mechanical power, were cultivated under the patronage of the emperors ; the fame of Archimedes was rivalled by Proclus and Anthemius; and if their miracles had been related by intelligent spectators, they might now enlarge the speculations, instead of exciting the distrust, of philosophers. A tradition has prevailed, that the Roman fleet was reduced to ashes in the port of Syracuse by the burning-glasses of Archimedes ;f and it is asserted, that a similar expedient was employed by Proclus to destroy the Gothic vessels in the harbour of Constantinople, and to protect his benefactor Anastasius against the bold enter
* The chronology of Procopius is loose and obscure; but with the aid of Pagi, I can discern that John was appointed prsetorian prefect of the East in the year 530; that he was removed in January 532— restored before June, 533—banished in 541—and recalled between June, 548, and April 1, 549. Aleman. (p. 96, 97) gives the list of his ten successors—a rapid series in a part of a single reign.
+ This conflagration is hinted by Lucian (in Hippia, c. 2), and Galen (1. 3, de temperamentis, tom, i, p. 81, edit. Bazil.), in the second century. A thousand years afterwards, it is positively affirmed by Zonaras (1. 9, p. 424), on the faith of Dion Cassius, by Tzetzes, (Chiliad 2. 119, Sec.) Eustathius, (ad Iliad. E. p. 338) and the scholiast of Lucian. See Fabricius, (Bibliot. Grcec. 1. 3, c. 22, tom, ii, p. 551, 552) to whom I am more or less indebted for several of these quotations. [Far more probable are the accounts of earlier writers, who attribute the injuries sustained by the ships of Marcellus during the siege of Syracuse, to the mechanical contrivances and destructive projectiles, used by Archimedes in the defence of the place. Syracuse was "the cradle of mechanical skill" (Niebuhr's Lectures, 2. 12); the catapulta was invented there 150 years before the Punic wars. ^ed.]