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CHAP. placable hatred was pointed against the Chersonites, XLVIII. who had insulted his exile and violated the laws of hos
pitality. Their remote situation afforded some means of defence, or at least of escape; and a grievous tax was imposed on Constantinople, to supply the preparations of a fleet and army. “ All are guilty, and all must perish,” was the mandate of Justinian; and the bloody execution was intrusted to his favourite Stephen, who was recommended by the epithet of the savage. Yet even the savage Stephen imperfectly accomplished the intentions of his sovereign. The slowness of his attack allowed the greater part of the inhabitants to withdraw into the country; and the minister of vengeance contented himself with reducing the youth of both sexes to a state of servitude, with roasting alive seven of the principal citizens, with drowning twenty in the sea, and with reserving forty-two in chains to receive their doom from the mouth of the emperor. In their return, the fleet was driven on the rocky shores of Anatolia; and Justinian applauded the obedience of the Euxine, which had involved so many thousands of his subjects and enemies in a common shipwreck: but the tyrant was still insatiate of blood; and a second expedition was commanded to extirpate the remains of the proscribed colony. In the short interval, the Chersonites had returned to their city, and were prepared to die in arms; the khan of the Chozars had renounced the cause of his odious brother; the exiles of every province were assembled in Tauris; and Bardanes, under the name of Philippicus, was invested with the purple. The imperial troops, unwilling and unable to perpetrate the revenge of Justinian, escaped his displeasure by abjuring his allegiance: the fleet, under their new sovereign, steered back a more auspicious course to the harbours of Sinope and Constantinople; and every tongue was prompt to pronounce, every
hand to execute, the death of the tyrant. Destitute CHAP. of friends, he was deserted by his barbarian guards; and the stroke of the assassin was praised as an act of patriotism and Roman virtue. His son Tiberius had taken refuge in a church; his aged grandmother guarded the door; and the innocent youth, suspending round his neck the most formidable relics, embraced with one hand the altar, with the other the wood of the true cross. But the popular fury that dares to trample on superstition is deaf to the cries of humanity; and the race of Heraclius was extinguished after a reign of one hundred years.
Between the fall of the Heraclian and the rise of Philipthe Isaurian dynasty, a short interval of six years is A. D. 711, , divided into three reigns. Bardanes, or Philippicus, December. was hailed at Constantinople as a hero who had delivered his country from a tyrant; and he might taste some moments of happiness in the first transports of sincere and universal joy. Justinian had left behind him an ample treasure, the fruit of cruelty and rapine: but this useful fund was soon and idly dissipated by his successor. On the festival of his birthday, Philippicus entertained the multitude with the games of the hippodrome; from thence he paraded through the streets with a thousand banners and a thousand trumpets; refreshed himself in the baths of Zeuxippus, and returning to the palace, entertained his nobles with a sumptuous banquet. At the meridian hour he withdrew to his chamber, intoxicated with flattery and wine, and forgetful that his example had made every subject ambitious, and that every ambitious subject was his secret enemy. Some bold conspirators introduced themselves in the disorder of the feast; and the slumbering monarch was surprised, bound, blinded, and deposed, before he was sensible of his danger. Yet the traitors were deprived of their reward; and the free voice of the senate and people promoted Ar
Anasta. sius II.
CHAP. temius from the office of secretary to that of emperor:
he assumed the title of Anastasius the second, and
displayed in a short and troubled reign the virtues A. D. 713, both of peace and war. But, after the extinction of
the imperial line, the rule of obedience was violated, and every change diffused the seeds of new revolutions. In a mutiny of the fleet, an obscure and reluctant officer of the revenue was forcibly invested with the purple: after some months of a naval war, Anastasius resigned the sceptre; and the conqueror,
Theodosiùs the third, submitted in his turn to the sius III. A. D. 716, superior ascendant of Leo, the general and emperor of January
the oriental troops. His two predecessors were permitted to embrace the ecclesiastical profession: the restless impatience of Anastasius tempted him to risk and to lose his life in a treasonable enterprise; but the last days of Theodosius were honourable and secure. The single sublime word, “ Health,” which he inscribed on his tomb, expresses the confidence of philosophy or religion; and the fame of his miracles was long preserved among the people of Ephesus. This convenient shelter of the church might sometimes impose a lesson of clemency; but it may be questioned whether it is for the public interest to diminish the perils of unsuccessful ambition.
I have dwelt on the fall of a tyrant; I shall rian, briefly represent the founder of a new dynasty, March 26. who is known to posterity by the invectives of his
enemies, and whose public and private life is involved in the ecclesiastical story of the Iconoclasts. Yet in spite of the clamours of superstition, a favourable prejudice for the character of Leo the Isaurian may be reasonably drawn from the obscurity of his birth, and the duration of his reign.--I. In an age of manly spirit, the prospect of an imperial reward would have kindled every energy of the mind, and produced a crowd of competitors as deserving as
Leo III. the Isau.
they were desirous to reign. Even in the corruption CHAP. and debility of the modern Greeks, the elevation of a plebeian from the last to the first rank of society supposes some qualifications above the level of the multitude. He would probably be ignorant and disdainful of speculative science; and, in the pursuit of fortune, he might absolve himself from the obligations of benevolence and justice: but to his character we may ascribe the useful virtues of prudence and fortitude, the knowledge of mankind, and the important art of gaining their confidence and directing their passions. It is agreed that Leo was à native of Isauria, and that Conon was his primitive name. The writers, whose awkward satire is praise, describe him as an itinerant pedler, who drove an ass with some paltry merchandise to the country fairs; and, foolishly relate that he met on the road some Jewish fortune-tellers, who promised him the Roman empire, on condition that he should abolish the worship of idols. A more probable account relates the migration of his father from Asia Minor to Thrace, where he exercised the lucrative trade of a grazier; and he must have acquired considerable wealth, since the first introduction of his son was procured by a supply of five hundred sheep to the imperial camp. His first service was in the guards of Justinian, where he soon attracted the notice, and by degrees the jealousy, of the tyrant. His valour and dexterity were conspicuous in the Colchian war: from Anastasius he received the command of the Anatolian legions, and by the suffrage of the soldiers he was raised to the empire with the general applause of the Roman world.-II. In this dangerous elevation, Leo the third supported himself against the envy of his equals, the discontent of a powerful faction, and the assaults of his foreign and domestic enemies. The Catholics, who accuse his religious innovations, are obliged to
CHAP. confess that they were undertaken with temper and conducted with firmness. Their silence
Their silence respects the wisdom of his administration and the purity of his
After a reign of twenty-four years, he peaceably expired in the palace of Constantinople; and the purple which he had acquired was transmitted by the right of inheritance to the third generation.
In a long reign of thirty-four years, the son and Coprony successor of Leo, Constantine the fifth, surnamed A.D. 741, Copronymus, attacked with less temperate zeal the June 18. images or idols of the church. Their votaries have
exhausted the bitterness of religious gall, in their portrait of this spotted panther, this antichrist, this flying dragon of the serpent's seed, who surpassed the vices of Elagabalus and Nero. His reign was a long butchery of whatever was most noble, or holy, or innocent, in his empire. In person, the emperor assisted at the execution of his victims, surveyed their agonies, listened to their groans, and indulged, without satiating, his appetite for blood: a plate of noses was accepted as a grateful offering, and his domestics were often scourged or mutilated by the royal hand. His surname was derived from his pollution of his baptismal font. The infant might be excused; but the manly pleasures of Copronymus degraded him below the level of a brute; his lust confounded the eternal distinctions of sex and species; and he seemed to extract some unnatural delight from the objects most offensive to human sense. In his religion, the Iconoclast was a Heretic, a Jew, a Mahometan, a Pagan, and an Atheist; and his belief of an invisible power could be discovered only in his magic rites, human victims, and nocturnal sacrifices to Venus and the dæmons of antiquity. His life was stained with the most opposite vices, and the ulcers which covered his body anticipated before his death the sentiment