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found skill in astronomy and the mathematics wtis admired by the strangers of the East; and this occult science was magnified by vulgar credulity, which modestly supposes that nil knowledge superior to its own must be the effect of inspiration or magic. At the pressing entreaty of the Caesar, his friend, the celebrated Photius,10* renounced the freedom of a secular and studious life, ascended the patriarchal throne and was alternately excommunicated and absolved by the synods of the East and West. By the confession even of priestly hatred, no art or science, except poetry, was foreign to this universal scholar, who was deep in thought, indefati gable in reading, and eloquent in diction. Whilst he exercised the office of protospathaire or captain of the guards, Photius was sent ambassador to the caliph of Bagdad.108 The tedious hours of exile, perhaps of confinement, were beguiled by the hasty composition of his Library, a living monument of erudition and criticism. Two hundred and fourscore writers, historians, orators, philosophers, theologians, are reviewed without any regular method: he abridges their narrative or doctrine, appreciates their style and character, and judges even the fathers of the church with a discreet freedom, which often breaks through the superstition of the times. The emperor Basil, who lamented the defects of his own education, intrusted to the care of Photius his son and successor, Leo the philosopher; and the reign of that prince and of his son Constantine Porphyrogenitus forms one of the most prosperous asras of the Byzantine literature. By their munificence the treasures of antiquity were deposited in the Imperial library; by their pens, or those of their associates, they were imparted in such extracts and abridgments as might amuse the curiosity, without oppressing the indolence, of the public. Besides the Basilics, or code of laws, the arts of husbandry and war, of feeding or destroying the human species, were
n The ecclesiastical and literary character of Photius is copiously discussed by Hanckius (de Scriptoribus Byzant. p. 269, 396) and Fa bricius.
,0* Ei's 'Aaavpinif can only mean Bagdad, the seat of the caliph ■ And the relation of his embassy might have been curious and instruo. tive But how did he procure his books? A library so numerous could neither be found at Bagdad, nor transported with his baggage nor preserved in his memory. Yet the last, however incredible, seems to be affirmed by Photius himself; Sous air^v h fivffm iilata^s. Camusat JHist. Critique des Journaux, p. 87—94) gives a good account of th» Hyriobiblon.
propagated with equal diligence; and the history of Greece and Rome was digested into fifty-three heads or titles, of which two only (of embassies, and of virtues and vices) have escaped the injuries of time. In every station, the reader joight contemplate the image of the past world, applv the lesson or warning of each page, and learn to admire, perhaps to imitate, the examples of a brighter period. I shall not expatiate on the works of the Byzantine Greeks, who, by the assiduous study of the ancients, have deserved, in some mi asure, the remembrance and gratitude of the moderns. The scholars of the present age may still enjoy the benefit of the philosophical commonplace book of Stobaeus, the grammatical and historical lexicon of Suidas, the Chiliads of Tzetzes, which comprise six hundred narratives in twelve thousand verses, and the commentaries on Homer of Eustathius, archbishop of Thessalonica, who, from his horn of plenty, has poured the names and authorities of four hundred writers, From these originals, and from the numerous tribe of scholiasts and critics,109 some estimate may be formed of the literary wealth of the twelfth century: Constantinople was enlightened by the genius of Homer and Demosthenes, of Aristotle and Plato: and in the enjoyment or nep^.ect of our present riches, we must envy the generation that could still peruse the history of Theopompus, the orations of Hyperides, the comedies of Menander,110 and the odes of Alcanis and Sappho. The frequent labor of illustration attests not only
109 Of these modern Greeks, see the respective articles in the Bibliotheca Graeca of Fabricius—a laborious work, yet susceptible of a better method and many improvements; of Eustathius, (torn. i. p. 289— 292, 306—821,) of the Pselli, (a diatribe of Leo Allatius, adcalcem torn, v.,) of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, torn. vi. p. 486—509) of John Stobaeus, (torn. viii. 665—728,) of Suidas, (torn. ix. p. 620—827,) John Tzetzes, (torn. xii. p. 245—273.) Mr. Harris, in his Philological Ar rangements, opus senile, has given a sketch of this Byzantine learn ing, (p. 287—300.)
110 From the obscure and hearsay evidence, Gerard Vossius (de Poetis Greeds, c. 6) and Le Clerc (Bibliotheque Choisie, torn. xix. p. 285) mention a commentary of Michael Psellus on twenty-four plays of Menander, still extant in MS. at Constantinople. Yet such classic studies seem incompatible with the gravity or dulness of a schoolman, who pored over the categories, (de Psellis, p. 42;) and Michael has probably been confounded with Homerus Selling, who wrote aiguments to the comedies of Menander. In the xth century, Suidai quotes fifty playj, but he often transcribes the old scholiast of Ariftto the existence, but the popularity, of the Grecian classics: the general knowledge of the age rray be deduced from the <!xam.' pie of two learned females, the empress Eudoeia, and the prin cess Anna Comnena, who cultivated, in the purple, the arts o' rhetoric and philosophy.111 The vulgar dialect of the city Wm gross and barbarous: a more correct and elaborate style distinguished the discourse, or at least the compositions, of the church and palace, which sometimes affected to copy the purity of the Attic models.
In our modern education, the painful though necessary attainment of two languages, which are no longer living, may consume the time and damp the ardor of the youthful student. The poets and orators were long imprisoned in the barbarous dialects of our Western ancestors, devoid of harmony or grace; and their genius, without precept or example, was abandoned to the rule and native powers of their judgment ■md fancy. But the Greeks of Constantinople, after purging away the impurities of their vulgar speech, acquired the free use of their ancient language, the most happv composition of human art, and a familiar knowledge of the sublime masters *ho had pleased or instructed the first of nations. But these advantages onlv tend to aggravate the reproach and shame of a degenerate people. They held in their lifeless hands the riches of their fathers, without inheriting the spirit which had created and improved that sacred patrimony: they read, they praised, they compiled, but their languid souls seemed alike incapable of thought and action. In the revolution ot ten centuries, not a single discovery was made to exalt the dignity or promote the happiness of mankind. Not a single idea has been added to the speculative systems of antiquity, and a succession of patient disciples became in their turn the .dogmatic teachers of the next servile generation. Not a single composition of history, philosophy, or literature, has been saved from oblivion by the intrinsic beauties of style or sentiment, of original fancy, or even of successful imitation In prose, the least offensive of the Byzantine writers are ab
1X1 Anna Comnena may boast of her Greek style. (7-0 'EXXuvifuv k kicpnv cazoviak-cia,) and Zonaras, her contemporary, but not hei flatterer, may add with truth, yhorrav dysv dnpi3bis Arrtnt^owav. The princess was conv 3rsant with the artful dialogues of Plato; and bad studied the Tctpuktvs, or ouadrivium of astrology, geometry, arthmetic. and music, (see he preface to the Alexiad, with Ducang«'»
Bolved from censure by their naked and unpresuming sim* plicily: but the orators, most eloquent,M in their own conceit, are the farthest removed from the models whom they affect to emulate. In every page our taste and reason are wounded by the choice of gigantic and obsolete words, a stiff and intricate phraseology, the discord of images, the childish play of false or unseasonable ornament, and the painful attempt tc elevate themselves, to astonish the reader, and to involve a trivial meaning in the smoke of obscurity and exaggeration. Their prose is soaring to the vicious affectation of poetry: their poetry is sinking below the flatness and insipidity of prose. The tragic, epic, and lyric muses, were silent and inglorious: the bards of Constantinople seldom rose above a riddle or epigram, a panegyric or tale; they forgot even the rules of prosody; and with the melody of Homer yet sounding in their ears, they confound all measure of feet and syllables in the impotent strains which have received the name of political or city verses.113 The minds of the Greek* were bound in the fetters of a base and imperious superstitioi which extends her dominion round the circle of profane scienc Their understandings were bewildered in metaphysical co» troversy: in the belief of visions and miracles, they had lo* all principles of moral evidence, and their taste was vitiatet by the homilies of the monks, an absurd medley of declama tion and Scripture. Even these contemptible studies wen ao longer dignified by the abuse of superior talents: th< leaders of the Greek church were humbly content to admire and copy the oracles of antiquity, nor did the schools o» pulpit produce any rivals of the fame of Athanasius an«* Ohrysostom.114
In all the pursuits of active and speculative life, the emula tion of states and individuals is the most powerful spring of the efforts and improvements of mankind. The cities or
na To censure the Byzantine taste. Ducange (Praefat. Gloss. Graw p. 17) strings the authorities of Aulus Gellius, Jerom, Petronius George Hamartolus, Longinus; who give at once the precept and thi uxaraple.
113 The versus politici, those common prostitutes, as, from their easi ness, they are styled by Leo Allatius, usually consist of fifteen sylla bles. They are used by Constantine Manasses, John Tzetzes, ±c (Ducange, Gloss. Latin, torn. iii. p. i. p. 345, 346, edit. Basil, 1762.)
114 As St. Bernird of the Latin, so St. John Damascenusin the viiitk century is revered as the last father of the Greek, church.
ancient Greece were cast in the happy mixture of union and ndependence, which is repeated on a larger scale, but in a ooser form, by the nations of modern Europe; the union of anguage, religion, and manners, which renders them the spectators and judges of each other's merit; m the independence of government and interest, which asserts their separate freedom, and excites them to strive for preeminence in the career of glory. The situation of the Romans was less favorable; yet in the early ages of the republic, which fixed the national character, a similar emulation was kindled among the states of Latium and Italy; and in the arts and sciences, they aspired to equal or surpass their Grecian masters. The empire of the Csesars undoubtedly checked the activity and progress of the human mind; its magnitude might indeed allow some scope for domestic competition; but when it was gradually reduced, at first to the East and at last to Greece and Constantinople, the Byzantine subjects were degraded to an abject and languid temper, the natural etfect of their solitary and insulated state. From the North they were oppressed by nameless tribes of Barbarians, to whom they scarcely imparted the appellation of men. The language and religion of the more polished Arabs were an insurmountable bar to all social intercourse. The conquerors of Europe were their brethren in the Christian faith; but the speech of the Franks or Latins was unknown, their manners were rude, and they were rarely connected, in peace or war, with the successors of Heraclius. Alone in the universe, the self-satisfied pride of the Greeks was not disturbed by the comparison of foreign merit; and it is no wonder if they fainted in the race, since they had neither competitors to urge their speed, nor judges to crown their victory. The nations of Europe and Asi? were mingled by the expeditions to the Holy Land; and i: is under the Comnenian dynasty that a faint emulation of knowledge and military virtue was rekindled in the Byzantine empire.