The Ancient Library

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The date of the birth of Justinian is fixed on the llth of May, A. d. 483, in IS Art de Verifier les Dates (vol. i. p. 409), where the question is cri­tically investigated. His birthplace was the village of Tauresium, in the district of Bederiana, in Bar-dania, where he afterwards built the splendid city of Justiniana, on the site of which stands the modern town of Kostendil. (See D'Anville, Me-moire stir deux villes qui ont porte le nom de Jus-tintcma, in the 31st vol. of Memoiresde rAcadhnie ides Inscriptions et Belles Lettres.)

At an early age Justinian went to Constanti­nople, where his uncle Justin, who had risen to high military honours, took care of his education and advancement. During some time hie lived as an hostage at the court of Theodoric, king of the East Goths, After the accession of his uncle Justin to the imperial throne, in 518, he rose to eminence, and prepared his own fortune by securing that of the emperor. Active in the destruction of the eu­nuch Amantius and his associates, he contrived or perpetrated the murder of Vitalian, the Goth^ so famous by his rebellion against the emperor Anas-tasius, and who was stabbed at a banquet in the presence of Justin and Justinian. In reward for his faithful allegiance, Justinian was made commander-in-chief of the armies in Asia ; but he was no warrior, and preferred remaining at Con­stantinople, where he canvassed the friendship of the clergy and the senators. He was advanced to the consulship in 521, and his influence became so great, that, at the suggestion of the senate, the aged emperor adopted him, and proclaimed him co-emperor, 1st of April, 527. Justin died a few months afterwards, and Justinian was crowned by the patriarch of Constantinople, together with his wife, the actress Theodora, whom he raised to the dignity of empress, in spite of the opposition of his mother and other relatives. [theodora.]

Justinian signalised his accession by public festivals more splendid than the Greeks had ever witnessed, and the money alone which was distri­buted among the people is said to have amounted to 288,000 pieces of gold. Had he hot been an excellent financier, his extravagances might have impeded his operations against the enemies of the empire, against whom he was obliged to prosecute the war which had been begun by his predecessor; but he understood thoroughly the subtle art of emptying those purses again which his liberality had filled ; and if his generals were not successful against the Persians, it was not for want of money. The Huns on the northern shores of the Euxine, especially around the Palus Maeotis, or the Sea of Azof, were either subjugated or submitted volun­tarily ; and the Arabs, who made frequent inroads into Syria as far as Antioch, were likewise, though with more, difficulty, compelled to desist from hos­tilities. The relations between Constantinople and Persia were of an indifferent character, and an open war broke out between the two powers, when Justinian promised to assist Tzathus, the king of the Lazi, between Pontus and the Caucasus, who came to Constantinople to implore the aid of the Romans against the Persians. In the first cam­paign against these hereditary enemies of Rome, the generals of Justinian, Belisarius, Cyricus, and Petrus, were defeated ; but their successor, Petrus Notarius, was successful. The war was chiefly carried on in Armenia, but also on the frontiers of Syria and Mesopotamia, and lasted till 532, when,



after as many defeats as victories, but without being compelled by necessity, Justinian made peace with Chosroes, the Persian king, who desisted from further hostilities on receiving an annual tribute of 440,000 pieces of gold. Justinian wished for peace with Persia, because he intended to make war against the Vandals in Africa, and to subdue, if possible, the political factions by which the empire had so often been shaken, and which had created a fearful riot in the very year that the peace was concluded with Persia. In January,. 532, Justinian honoured the public feast in the hippodrome with his presence, being surrounded by vast numbers of the " Blue faction " (of Bei/erci), who were adherents of the orthodox Catholic church, and, consequently, partisans of the ortho­dox emperor. Suddenly some of the " Green fac­tion " (pi Updo-woi), who had already made much noise, rose and complained of several grievances, especially that the emperor patronised the Blue, and showed himself too indulgent towards their riotous and dissolute conduct. They further com­plained of fiscal oppression and the partial adminis­tration of justice. In all these points they were perfectly right. The emperor answered them through a crier (Maj/Sarw/o, the Latin Mandator), and a long dialogue ensued, which grew more and more violent on both sides, and which Theophanes gives with apparent fidelity. The Blues took the emperor's part; the quarrel came to blows, and after a short struggle within the hippodrome, the infuriated factions rushed into the streets, and soon Constantinople was filled with murder and blood­shed. The nouses of the leaders of the two parties were demolished, others were set on fire ; and every body being engaged either in saving their own lives or in attempting the lives of others, the flames spread from street to street, and a general confla­gration consumed thousands of houses, the church of St. Sophia, a large part of the imperial palace, the baths of Zeuxippus (Alexander), the great, hos­pital of Sampso, and a vast number of churches and public or private palaces. After five days' murder and plunder, many thousands of dead bodies covered the streets, or lay roasting among burning ruins. These riots are known by the name of the vino, riots, the word viica, " be vic­torious," having been the war-cry of both the Blue and the Green. Unfortunately for the emperor, the two factions, after fighting against each other, perceived that the victory of neither would remove those abuses against which the Green had first risen, and they consequently formed an union, and turned their fury against such of the imperial officers as were most suspected of peculation and oppression. The chief objects of their hatred were the quaestor Tribonian, the jurist, and the praefect John, of Cappadocia; Justinian deposed them both, in order to appease the popular fury, but in vain. Hypatius and Pompeius, two nephews of the late emperor Anastasius, who were removed from the court because they were suspected of being engaged in the riots, were, apparently against their will, chosen by the populace to act as their leaders; Hypatius was proclaimed emperor, and Justinian, despairing of quelling the rebellion, prepared to fly with his treasures to Heracleia, in Thrace, none of his ministers, not even Belisarius, having succeeded in discovering any means of saving their master in .this critical moment. He would have been lost but for his wife Theodora,

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