« ForrigeFortsett »
productions which they had bequeathed to posterity, were exposed without defence to the rapacious vanity of a despot. By his commands the cities of Greece and Asia were despoiled of their most valuable ornaments." The trophies of memorable wars, the objects of religious veneration, the most finished statues of the gods and heroes, of the sages and poets, of ancient times, contributed to the splendid triumph of Constantinople; and gave occasion to the remark of the historian Cedrenus,' who observes with much enthusiasm, that nothing seemed wanting except the souls of the illustrious men whom those admirable monuments were intended to represent. But it is not in the city of Constantine, nor in the declining period of an empire, when the human mind was depressed by civil and religious slavery, that we should seek for the souls of Homer and of Demosthenes.
During the siege of Byzantium, the conqueror Edifices.
had pitched his tent on the commanding eminence of the second hill. To perpetuate the memory of his success, he chose the same advantageous position for the principal forum;" which appears to have been of a circular, or rather elliptical form. · The two opposite entrances formed triumphal arches; the porticos, which enclosed it on every side, were filled with statues; and the centre of the forum was occupied by a lofty column, of which a mutilated fragment is now degraded by the appellation of the burnt pillar. This column was erected on a pedestal of white marble twenty feet high; and was composed of ten pieces of porphyry, each of which mea sured about ten feet in height, and about thirty-three in
$ Constantinopolis dedicatur pæne omnium urbium nuditate. Hieronym. Chron. p. 181. See Codinus, p. 8, 9. The author of the Antiquitat. Const. lib. 3. (apud Banduri Imp. Orient. tom. 1. p. 41.) enumerates Rome, Sicily, Antioch, Athens, and a long list of other cities. The provinces of Greece and Asia Minor may be supposed to have yielded the richest booty.
i Hist. Compend. 369. He describes the statue, or rather bust, of Homer with a degree of taste which plainly indicates that Cedrenus copied the style of a more fortunate age.
Zosim. lib. 2. p. 106. Chron. Alexandrin. vel. Paschal, p. 284. Ducange Const. lib. 1. c. 24. Even the last of those writers seems to confound the Forum of Constantine with the Augusteum, or court of the palace. I am not satisfied whether I bave properly distinguished what belongs to the one and the other.
circumference. On the summit of the pillar, above one hundred and twenty feet from the ground, stood the colossal statue of Apollo. It was of bronze, had been transported either from Athens, or from a town of Phrygia, and was supposed to be the work of Phidias. The artist had represented the god of day, or, as it was afterward interpreted, the emperor Constantine himself, with a sceptre in his right hand, the globe of the world in his left
, and a crown of rays glittering on his head. The Circus, or Hippodrome, was a stately building, about four hundred paces in length, and one hundred in breadth. The space between the two metæ or goals was filled with statues and obelisks; and we may still remark a very singular fragment of antiquity; the bodies of three serpents, twisted into one pillar of brass. Their triple heads had once supported the golden tripod which, after the defeat of Xerxes, was consecrated in the temple of Delphi by the victorious Greeks. The beauty of the Hippodrome has been long since defaced by the rude hands of the Turkish conquerors; but, under the similar ap pellation of Atmeidan, it still serves as a place of exercise for their horses. From the throne, whence the emperor viewed the Circensian games, a winding staircase
* The most tolerable account of this column is given by Pocock. Description of the East, vol. 2. part 2. p. 131. But it is still in many instances perplexed and unsatisfactory.
y Ducange Const. lib. 1. c. 24. p. 76. and his notes ad Alexiad. p. 382. The statue of Constantine or Apollo was thrown down under the reign of Alexis Com. 1 2 Tournefort (lettre 12.) computes the Atmeidan at four hundred paces. If he means geometrical paces of five feet each, it was three hundred toises in length, about forty more than the great circus of Rome. See d'Anville, Measures Itineraires, p. 73.
a The guardians of the most holy relics would rejoice if they were able to produce such a chain of evidence as may be alleged on this occasion. See Bandari ad Antiquitat. Const. p. 668. Gyllius de Byzant. lib. 2. c. 13. 1. The original consecration of the tripod and pillar in the temple of Delphi may be proved from Herodotus and Pausanias. 2. The Pagan Zosimus agrees with the three ecclesiastical historians, Eusebius, Socrates, and Sozomen, that the sacred ornaments of the temple of Delphi were removed to Constantinople by the order of Constantine; and among these the serpentine pillar of the Hippodrome is particularly mentioned. 3. All the European travellers who have visited Constantinople, Buondelmonte to Pocock, describe it in the same place, and almost in the same manner; the differences between them are occasioned only by the injuries which it has sustained from the Turks. Mahomet II. broke the under jaw of one of the serpents with a stroke of his battle-ate. Thevenot, lib. 1. c. 19.
6. The Latin name cochleh was adopted by the Greeks, and very frequently occurs in the Byzantine history. Ducange Const. lib. 2. c. 1. p. 104.
descended to the palace; a magnificent edifice, which scarcely yielded to the residence of Rome itself; and which, together with the dependant courts, gardens, and porticos, covered a considerable extent of ground upon the banks of the Propontis, between the Hippodrome and the church of St. Sophia. We might likewise celebrate the baths, which still retained the name of Zeuxippus, after they had been enriched, by the munificence of Constantine, with lofty columns, various marbles, and above threescore statues of bronze. But we should deviate from the design of this history, if we attempted minutely to describe the different buildings or quarters of the city. It may be sufficient to observe, that whatever could adorn the dignity of a great capital, or contribute to the benefit or pleasure of its numerous inhabitants, was contained within the walls of Constantinople. A particular description, composed about a century after its foundation, enumerates a capitol or school of learning, a circus, two theatres, eight public, and one hundred and fifty-three private baths, fifty-two porticos, five granaries, eight aqueducts or reservoirs of water, four spacious halls for the meetings of the senate or courts of justice, fourteen churches, fourteen palaces, and four thousand three hundred and eighty-eight houses, which, for their size or beauty, deserved to be distinguished from the multitude of plebeian habitations.
€ There are three topographical points which indicate the situation of the palace. 1. The staircase, which connected it with the Hippodrome or Atmeidan. 2. A small artificial port on the Propontis, from whence there was an easy ascent, by a flight of marble steps, to the gardens of the palace. 3. The Augusteum was a spa. cious court, one side of which was occupied by the front of the palace, and another by the church of St. Sophia.
Zeuxippus was an epithet of Jupiter, and the baths were a part of old Byzantium. The difficulty of assigning their true situation has not been felt by Ducange. History seems to connect them with St. Sophia and the palace; but the original plan, inserted in Banduri, places them on the other side of the city, near the harbour. For their beauties, see Chron. Paschal, p. 285. and Gyllius de Byzant. lib. 2. c.7. Christodorus (see Antiquitat. Const. lib. 7.) composed inscriptions in verse for each of the statues. He was a Theban poet in genius as well as in
Bæotum in crasso jurares aere natum. e See the Notitia. Rome only reckoned one thousand seven hundred and eighty large houses, domus ; but the word must have had a more dignified signification. No insulæ are mentioned at Constantinople. The old capital consisted of four hundred and twenty-four streets, the new of three hundred and twenty-two.
The populousness of this favoured city was the
next and most serious object of the attention of its founder. In the dark ages which succeeded the translation of the empire, the remote and the immediate consequences of that memorable event were strangely confounded by the vanity of the Greeks, and the credulity of the Latins. It was asserted and believed, that all the noble families of Rome, the senate, and the equestrian order, with their innumerable attendants, had followed their emperor to the banks of the Propontis; that a spurious race of strangers and plebeians was left to possess the solitude of the ancient capital, and that the lands of Italy, long since converted into gardens, were at once deprived of cultivation and inhabitants. In the course of this history, such exaggerations will be reduced to their just value. Yet, since the growth of Constantinople cannot be ascribed to the general increase of mankind and of industry, it must be admitted, that this artificial colony was raised at the expense of the ancient cities of the empire. Many opulent senators of Rome, and of the eastern provinces, were probably invited by Constantine to adopt for their country the fortunate spot which he had chosen for his own residence. The invitations of a master are scarcely to be distinguished from commands; and the liberality of the emperor obtained a ready and cheerful obedience. He bestowed on his favourites the palaces which he had built in the several quarters of the city, assigned them lands and pensions for the support of their dignity," and alienated the de
| Liutprand Legatio ad Imp. Nicophorum, p. 153. The modern Greeks hare strangely disfigured the antiquities of Constantinople. We might excuse the errors of the Turkish or Arabian writers ; but it is somewhat astonishing, that the Greeks, who had access to the authentic materials preserved in their own language, should prefer fiction to truth, and loose tradition to genuine history. In a single page of Godinus we may detect twelve unpardonable mistakes; the recon. ciliation of Severus and Niger, the marriage of their son and daughter, the siege of Byzantium by the Macedonians, the invasion of the Gauls which recalled Severus to Rome, the sixty years which elapsed from his death to the foundation of Constantinople, &c.
6 Montesquieu, Grandeur et Decadence des Romains, c. 17. b Themist. Orat. 3. p. 48. edit. Hardouin. Sozomen, lib. 2. c. 3. Zosim. lib.2. p. 107. Anonym. Valesian. p. 715. If we could credit Codinus, (p. 10.) Con
mesnes of Pontus and Asia, to grant the hereditary estates by the easy tenure of maintaining a house in the capital.' But these encouragements and obligations soon became superfluous, and were gradually abolished. Wherever the seat of government is fixed, a considerable part of the public revenue will be expended by the prince himself, by his ministers, by the officers of justice, and by the domestics of the palace. The most wealthy of the provincials will be attracted by the powerful motives of interest and duty, of amusement and curiosity. A third and more numerous class of inhabitants will insensibly be formed, of servants, of artificers, and of merchants, who derive their subsistence from their own labour, and from the wants or luxury of the superior ranks. In less than a century, Constantinople disputed with Rome itself the pre-eminence of riches and numbers. New piles of buildings, crowded together with too little regard to health or convenience, scarcely allowed the intervals of narrow streets for the perpetual throng of men, of horses, and of carriages. The allotted
of ground was insufficient to contain the increasing people; and the additional foundations, which, on either side, were advanced into the sea, might alone have composed a very considerable city.
The frequent and regular distributions of wine Privileges.
and oil, of corn or bread, of money or provisions, had almost exempted the poorest citizens of Rome from the necessity of labour. The magnificence of the first stantine built houses for the senators on the exact model of their Roman palaces, and gratified them, as well as himself, with the pleasure of an agreeable surprise ; but the whole story is full of fictions and inconsistencies.
i The law by which the younger Theodosius, in the year 438, abolished this tenure, may be found among the Novellæ of that emperor at the head of the Theodosian Code, tom. 6. nov. 12. M. de Tillemont (Hist. des Empereurs, tom. 4. p. 371.) has evidently mistaken the nature of these estates. With a grant from the imperial demesnes, the same condition was accepted as a favour which would justly have been deemed a hardship, if it had been imposed upon private property.
k The passages of Zosimus, of Eunapius, of Sozomen, and of Agathius, which relate to the increase of buildings and inhabitants at Constantinople, are collected and connected by Gyllius de Byzant. lib. 1. c. 3. Sidonius Apollinaris (in Panegyr. Anthem. 56. p. 290. edit. Sirmond) describes the moles that were pushed forwards into the sea; they consisted of the famous Puzzolan sand, which hardens in the water.