網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

CHAP, was displayed amidst the tumult of the people and xi.

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 *. Notwithstanding this disappointment, her dominion was permanent and absolute; she preserved, by art or merit, the affections of Justinian; and their seeming dissentions 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 præfect, the great treasurer, 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 t.

At

[ocr errors]

St. Sabas refused to pray for a son of Theodora, lest he should prove an heretic worse than Anastasius himself (Cyril in Vit. St. Sabæ, apud Aleman. p. 70. 109.).

+ See John Malala, tom. ii. p. 174. Theophanes, p. 158. Procopius de Edific, 1. v. c. 3.

The death

At length, in the twenty-fourth year of her mar, C H A P. riage, and the twenty-second of her reign, she was XL. consumed by a cancer *; and the irreparable loss was deplored by her husband, who, in the room of a theatrical prostitute, might have selected the A.D. 548, purest and most noble virgin of the East †.

of Theo

dora,

June 11.

circus.

- II. A material difference may be observed in The fac the. games of antiquity: the most eminent of the tions of the Greeks were actors, the Romars 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 chaunted in lyric strains more durable than monuments of brass and marble. But a senator, or even a citizen,

*Theodora Chalcedonensis synodi inimica canceris plaga 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 spoßas excipenon of Theophanes as civil language, which does not imply either piety or repentance; yet two years after her death, St. Theodora is celebrated by Paul Silentiarius (in Proem. v. 58-62.).

:

+ 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 dæmonum-satanico agitata spiritu-astro percita diabolico, &c. &c. (A. D. 548, No. 24.).

Read and feel the xxiiid book of the Illiad, a living picture of manners, passions, and the whole form and spirit of the chariot race. West's Dissertation on the Olympic Games (sect. xii-xvii.) affords much curious and authentic informa-1

XL.

CHA P. citizen, conscious of his dignity, would have blush.

ed to expose his person or his horses in the circus of Rome. The games were exhibited at the expence of the republic, the magistrates, or the 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 cærulean blue, were afterwards introduced; and as the races were repeated twentyfive 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 naviga

tion,

* The four colours, albati, russati, prasini, veneti, represent the four seasons, according to Cassiodorius (Var. üi. 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. Venetøs is explained by cæruleus, 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.).'

,

XL.

tion, and the hostility of the husbandmen and CHAP. 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, At Rome. applauded their favourites, chastised their antagonists, and deserved the eseem of the populace, by the natural or affected imitation of their manThe 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 *.

ners.

tract Con

and the

East.

Constantinople adopted the follies, though not They dis the virtues, of ancient Rome; and the same fac- stantinople tions 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 t. From the capital,

* See Onuphrius Panviníus de Ludis Circensibus, 1. i. c. re, 11.; the xviith Annotation on Mascou's History of the Ger mans; and Aleman. ad c. vii.

Marcellin. in Chron. p. 47. Instead of the vulgar word beneta, he uses the more exquisite terms of cærulea and cœrealis. Baronius (A. D. 501, No. 4, 5, 6.) is satisfied that the

blues

XL.

[ocr errors]

CHAP. pital, this pestilence was diffused into the provinces

and cities of the East, and the sportive distinction of two colours produced two strong and irreconcileable 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 fami-. lies, 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 licence, without the freedom, of democracy, was revived at Antioch and Constantinople, 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 Justinian

the cause of orthodoxy and Justinian t, and their favours the blues. grateful patron protected, above five years, the disorders of a faction, whose seasonable tumults

overawed 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.).

* See Procopius, Persic. 1. i. 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 the evil.

+ The partiality of Justinian for the blues (Anecdot. c. 7.) is attested by Evagrius (Hist. Eccles, l. iv. c. 32.); John Malala (tom. ii. p. 138, 139.), especially for Antioch; and Theophanes p. 142.).

« 上一頁繼續 »