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CHAP. trance to the altar of Mars, and the long portico
from the palace to the forum of Constantine ; a large hospital, with the sick patients, was consumed; many churches and stately edifices were destroyed, and an immense treasure of gold and silver was either melted or lost. From such scenes
. of horror and distress, the wise and wealthy citizens escaped over the Bosphorus to the Asiatic side ; and during five days Constantinople was abandoned to the factions, whose watch-word, NIKA, vanquish! has given a name to this memorable sedition *.
As long as the factions were divided, the tritress of Justiniano) umphant blues, and desponding greens, appeared
to behold with the same indifference the disorders of the state. They agreed to censure the corrupt management of justice and the finance; and the two responsible ministers, the artful Tribonian, and the rapacious John of Capadocia, were loudly arraigned as the authors of the public misery. The peaceful murmurs of the people would have been disregarded : they were heard with respect when the city was in flames; the quæstor, and the præfect, were instantly removed, and their offices were filled by two senators of blameless integrity. After this popular concession, Justinian proceeded to the hippodrome to confess his own errors, and to accept the repentance of his grateful subjects;
þut they distrusted his assurances, though solemnly
* The history of the Nika sedition is extracted from Marcellinus (in Chron.), Procopius (Persic. l. i. c. 26.), John Malala, (tom. ii. p. 213—218.), Chron. Paschal. (p. 336340.), Theophanes (Chronograph. p. 154-158.) and Zonarus (l. xiv. p. 61-63.).
pronounced in the presence of the holy gospels; CHA P. and the emperor, alarmed by their distrust, retreated with precipitation to the strong fortress of the palace. The obstinacy of the tumult was now imputed to a secret and ambitious conspiracy, and a suspicion was entertained, that the insurgents, more especially the green faction, had been supplied with arms and money by Hypatius and Pompey, two patricians, who could neither forget with honour, nor remember with safety, that they were the nephews of the emperor Anastasius. Capri. ciously trusted, disgraced, and pardoned, by the jealous levity of the monarch, they had appeared as loyal servants before the throne; and, during five days of the tumult, they were detained as important hostages; till at length, the fears of Justinian prevailing over his prudence, he viewed the two brothers in the light of spies, perhaps of assassins, and sternly commanded them to depart from the palace. After a fruitless representation, that obedience might lead to involuntary treason, they retired to their houses, and in the morning of the sixth day Hypatius was surrounded and seized by the people, who, regardless of his virtuous resistence, and the tears of his wife, transported their favourite to the forum of Constantine, and instead of a diadem, placed a rich collar on his head. If the usurper, who afterwards pleaded the merit of his delay, had complied with the advice of his senate, and urged the fury of the multitude, their first irresistable effort might have oppressed or expelled his trembling competitor. The Byzantine palace enjoyed a free communication with the sea;
CHAP. vessels lay ready at the garden stairs; and a secret
resolution was already formed, tu .convey the emperor with his family and treasures to a safe retreat,
at some distance from the capital. Firmness of Justinian was lost, if the prostitute whom he Theodora.
raised from the theatre had not renounced the timidity, as well as the virtues, of her sex. In the midst of a council, where Belisarius was present, Theodora alone displayed the spirit of an hero; and she alone, without apprehending his future hatred, could save the emperor from the imminent danger, and his unworthy fears. “ If flight", said the consort of Justinian, " were the only means “ of safety, yet I should disdain to fly. Death is " the condition of our birth; but they who have “ reigned should never survive the loss of dignity " and dominion. I implore heaven, that I may " never be seen, not a day, without my diadem " and purple ; that I may no longer behold the
light, when I cease to be saluted with the name “ of queen. If you resolve, O Cæsar! to fly, you
, “ have treasures; behold the sea, you have ships; " but tremble lest the desire of life should
expose you to wretched exile and ignominious death. " For my own part, I adhere to the maxim of an“ tiquity, that the throne is a glorious sepulchre.” The firmness of a woman restored the courage to deliberate and act, and courage soon discuvers the resources of the most desperate situation. It was an easy and a decisive measure to revive the ani.
a mosity of the factions; the blue were astonished at their own guilt and folly, that a trifling injury should provoke them to conspire with their impla,
cable enemies against a gracious and liberal bene- C HA P. factor ; they again proclaimed the majesty of Justinian, and the greens, with their upstart emperor, The sedi were left alone in the Hippodrome. The fidelity of tion is sup
pressed. the guards was doubtful; but the military force of Justinian consisted in three thousand veterans, who had been trained to valour and discipline in the Persian and Illyrian wars. Under the command of Belisarius and Mundus, they silently marched in two divisions from the palace, forced their obscure way through narrow passages, expiring flames, and falling edifices, and burst open at the same moment the two opposite gates of the Hippodrome. In this narrow space, the disorderly and affrighted crowd was incapable of resisting on either side a firm and regular attack; the blues signalized the fury of their repentance; and it is computed, that above thirty thousand persons were slain in the merciless and promiscuous carnage of the day. Hypatius was dragged from his throne, and conducted with his brother Pompey to the feet of the emperor : they implored his clemency; but their crime was manifest, their innocence uncertain, and Justinian had been too much terrified to forgive. The next morning the two nephews of Anastasius, with eighteen illustrious accomplices, of patrician or consular rank, were privately executed by the soldiers; their bodies were thrown into the sea, their palaces razed, and their fortunes confiscated. The hippodrome itself was condemned during several years, to a mournful silence : with the restoration of the games, the same disorders revived; and the blue and green factions conG4
CHA P. tinued to afflict the reign of Justinian, and to disturb the tranquillity of the Eastern empire*.
Agriculture and manufac
tures of the
III. That empire, after Rome was barbarous, still embraced the nations whom she had conquered beyond the Hadriatic, and as far as the frontiers of Ethiopia and Persia. Justinian reigned over sixty-four provinces, and nine hundred and thirtyfive cities; his dominions were blessed by nature with the advantages of soil, situation and climate: and the improvements of human art had been perpetually diffused along the coast of the Mediterranean and the banks of the Nile, from ancient Troy to the Egyptian Thebes, Abraham had been relieved by the well-known plenty of Egypt; the same country, a small and populous tract, was still capable of exporting, each year, two hundred and sixty thousand quarters of wheat for the use of Constantinople §; and the capital of Justinian was fupplied with the manufactures of Sidon, fifteen cen
* Marcellinus says in general terms, innumeris populis in circo trucidatis. Procopius numbers 30,000 victims: and the 35,000 of Theophanes are swelled to 40,000 by the more recent Zonares. Such is the usual progress of exaggeration.
+ Hierocles, a contemporary of Justinian, composed his Zurdexes (Itineraria, p. 631.), or review of the eastern provinces and cities, before the year 535 (Wesseling in Præfat. and Not. ad p. 623, &c.).
See the book of Genesis (xii. 10.), and the administration of Joseph. The annals of the Greeks and Hebrews agree in the early arts and plenty of Egypt: but this antiquity supposes a long series of improvements; and Warburton, who is almost stifled by the Hebrew, calls aloud for the Samaritan chronology (Divine Legation, vol. iii. p. 29, &c.).
Eight millions of Roman modii, besides a contribution of 80,000 aurei for the expences of water-carriage, from which the subject was graciously excused. See the xiiith Edict of Justinian; the numbers are checked and verified by the agreement of the Greek and Latin texts.