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It is difficult to understand how the exalted name of Philosophus could be given to a man like Leo, and one would feel inclined to take it ironically, were it not for the impudent flattery of the later Greeks* Gibbon, with a few striking words, gives the following character of this emperor: — w The name of Leo VI. has been dignified with the title of philosopher; and the union of the prince and the sage, of the active and speculative virtues, would indeed constitute the perfection of human nature. But the claims of Leo are far short of this ideal excellence. Did he reduce his passions and appetites under the dominion of reason ? His life was spent in the pomp of the palace, in the society of his wives and concubines; and even the clemency which he showed, and the peace which he strove to preserve, must be imputed to the softness and indolence of his character. Did he subdue his prejudices, and those of his subjects? His mind was tinged with the most puerile superstition ; the influence of the clergy, and the errors of the people, were consecrated by his laws ; and the oracles of Leo, which reveal in prophetic style the fates of the empire, are founded on the arts of astrology and divination. If we still inquire the reason of his sage appellation, it can only be replied, that the son of Basil was less ignorant than the greater part of his contemporaries in church and state ; that his education had been directed by the learned Pho-tius ; and that several books of profane and ecclesiastical science were composed by the pen, or in the name of the imperial philosopher."
In speaking1 of Leo's literary merits, we must first say a few words of his legislation.
In his time the Latin language had long since ceased to be the official language of the Eastern empire, and had gradually fallen into such disuse as to be only known to a few scholars, merchants, or navigators. The earlier laws being all written in Latin, opposed a serious obstacle to a fair and quick administration of justice ; and the emperor Basil I., the father of Leo, formed and partly executed the plan of issuing an authorised version of the Code and Digest. This plan was carried out by Leo, who was ably assisted by Sabathius, the commander of the imperial lifeguards. The new Greek version is known under the title of Ba<n\iKal Atardj-eis, or shortly, Ba<nAi/eai; in Latin, Basilica, which means " Imperial Constitutions," or *' Laws." It is divided into sixty books, subdivided into titles, and contains the whole of Justinian's legislation, via., the Institutes, the Digest, the Codex, and the Novellae; as also such constitutions as were issued by the successors of Justinian down to Leo VI. There are, however, many laws of the Digest omitted in the Basilica, which contain, on the other hand, a considerable number of laws or extracts from ancient jurists which are not in the Digest. The Basilica likewise give many early constitutions which are not contained in Justinian's Codex. They were afterwards revised by the son of Leo, Constantine Por-phyrogenitus* Editions: — Hervet published a Latin translation of the books 28—30, 45—48, Paris, 1557, fol. Cujacius, who made the Basilica a special subject of his studies, and published the criminal part of them at Lyon, 1566, fol., estimated the translation of Hervet but little, arid accordingly published a revised edition under the title "Libri VIII. Bcuri\iK&v . A*ara|6ft»', id est, Imperialium Constitutionum in quibus continentur totum Jus
Civile, a Constantino Porphyrogenito in LX. libros redactum, G. Herveto interprete. Accessit Liber LX., Jacobo Cujiacio interprete. Cum Praefatione D. Gothofredi," Hanoviae, 1606, fol. Previous to this edition, Joannes Leunclavius published, with notes and commentary, " LX. Libri Ba<nAiK«i>, id est, Universi Juris Romani, &c., Ecloga sive Synopsis ; accessit Novellarum antehac ineditarum Liber," Basel, 1575, fol. All these are incomplete editions of Latin versions. The Greek text, with a revised Latin version, of 36 complete, 6 incomplete books, and fragments of the remaining 18 books, was first published by Fabrot, Paris, 1647, 7 vols. fol. Four of the deficient books, viz. 49— 5*2, were afterwards discovered in MS., and published, with a Latin version by G. O. Reitz, by the Dutch jurist Meermann, in the 5th vol. of his Nov. Thesaur. Juris Civ. et Can. A separate reprint of these four books was published in London 1765, fol., as a supplement to Fabrofs edition. As long ago as 1830 the brothers Heimbach, in Germany, began a new critical edition of the whole collection, of which the first volume appeared in 1833, but which is not yet finished. The law of the Basilica is by no means a mere matter of antiquity: it is the groundwork of the legislation of the modern Greeks in Turkey as well as in the kingdom of Greece, and also that of the legislation of the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia ; and a closer investigation of the laws of Russia would perhaps trace the influence of the Basilica upon the history of the civilisation of that country also. (Montreuil, Histoire du Droit Byzantin ; C. W. E. Heimbach, De BasUicorum Origine, Leipzig, 1825, 8vo. ; Haubold, Manuale BasUicorum^ Leipzig, 1819, 4to.)
The principal works written, or supposed to be written, by the emperor Leo VI. are: —
1. T<2v ev Tro\efjLois rarer uc&v crdvrofjios Trapd-8o<ns, commonly called " Tactica," an essay on the art of warfare in the author's time, which is celebrated in military history. Leo perused freely the works of earlier writers on the subject, but it.would be unjust to charge him with plagiarism: there is a great deal of his own in the work, especially on the policy to be observed in warfare, but it betray is no genius. The editio princeps, but only in a Latin version, is by Joannes Checus (John Cheke), of Cambridge, and was published at Basel, 1554, 12mo.: it is dedicated to king Henry VIII., and was consequently composed previously to the death of that king, in 1547. The Greek text, together with the translation of Cheke, revised by Jo. Meursius, was first published at Ley den, 1612, 4to.; the same in the 6th vol. of Meursii Opera, edited by Lami, Florence, 1745, fol.; the same, together with Aelian's Tactica, Leyden, 1613, 4to. The importance of the work caused it to be translated into several modern languages. The best version is the one in French, entitled, " Institutions Militaires de PEmpereur Leon le Philosophe, traduites du Grec par M. Joly de Mezeray," Paris, 1771, 2 vols. 8vo., with engravings. The best German translation is entitled " Kaiser Leo's des Philosophen Strategic und Taktik, ubersetzt von einem MS. in der Kaiserlichen Bibliothek zu Wien bei J. W. vori Bourscheid," Vienna, 1771—1781, 5 vols. 8vo. with notes and engravings. The notes are very good, but the version resembles much more the French translation by Mezeray than the Greek text.