Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire




Gibbon's The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire

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145, 195, 247.) They were reconciled by the care of Mark I. (A.D. 799 - 819;) he promoted their chiefs to the bishoprics of Athribis and Talba, (perhaps Tava. See D'Anville, p. 82,) and supplied the sacraments, which had failed for want of an episcopal ordination.]

[Footnote 74: De his quos baptizavit, quos ordinavit Acacius, majorum traditione confectam et veram, praecipue religiosae solicitudini congruam praebemus sine difficultate medicinam, (Galacius, in epist. i. ad Euphemium, Concil. tom. v. 286.) The offer of a medicine proves the disease, and numbers must have perished before the arrival of the Roman physician. Tillemont himself (Mem. Eccles. tom. xvi. p. 372, 642, &c.) is shocked at the proud, uncharitable temper of the popes; they are now glad, says he, to invoke St. Flavian of Antioch, St. Elias of Jerusalem, &c., to whom they refused communion whilst upon earth.

But Cardinal Baronius is firm and hard as the rock of St. Peter.]

[Footnote 75: Their names were erased from the diptych of the church: ex venerabili diptycho, in quo piae memoriae transitum ad coelum habentium episcoporum vocabula continentur, (Concil. tom.

  1. p. 1846.) This ecclesiastical record was therefore equivalent to the book of life.] In the fever of the times, the sense, or rather the sound of

a syllable, was sufficient to disturb the peace of an empire. The Trisagion ^76 (thrice holy,) "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts!" is supposed, by the Greeks, to be the identical hymn which the angels and cherubim eternally repeat before the throne of God, and which, about the middle of the fifth century, was miraculously revealed to the church of Constantinople. The devotion of Antioch soon added, "who was crucified for us!" and this grateful address, either to Christ alone, or to the whole Trinity, may be justified by the rules of theology, and has been gradually adopted by the Catholics of the East and West. But it had been imagined by a Monophysite bishop; ^77 the gift of an enemy was at first rejected as a dire and dangerous blasphemy, and the rash innovation had nearly cost the emperor Anastasius his throne and his life. ^78 The people of Constantinople was devoid of any rational principles of freedom; but they held, as a lawful cause of rebellion, the color of a livery in the races, or the color of a mystery in the schools. The Trisagion, with and without this obnoxious addition, was chanted in the cathedral by two adverse choirs, and when their lungs were exhausted, they had recourse to the more solid arguments of sticks and stones; the aggressors were punished by the emperor, and defended by the patriarch; and the crown and mitre were staked on the event of this momentous quarrel. The streets were instantly crowded with innumerable swarms of men, women, and children; the legions of monks, in regular array, marched, and shouted, and fought at their head, "Christians! this is the day of martyrdom: let us not desert our spiritual father; anathema to the Manichaean tyrant! he is unworthy to reign." Such was the Catholic cry; and the galleys of Anastasius lay upon their oars before the palace, till the patriarch had pardoned his penitent, and hushed the waves of the troubled multitude. The triumph of Macedonius was checked by a speedy exile; but the zeal of his flock was again exasperated by the same question, "Whether one of the Trinity had been crucified?" On this momentous occasion, the blue and green factions of Constantinople suspended their discord, and the civil and military powers were annihilated in their presence. The keys of the city, and the standards of the guards, were deposited in the forum of Constantine, the principal station and camp of the faithful. Day and night they were incessantly busied either in singing hymns to the honor of their God, or in pillaging and murdering the servants of their prince. The head of his favorite monk, the friend, as they styled him, of the enemy of the Holy Trinity, was borne aloft on a spear; and the firebrands, which had been darted against heretical structures, diffused the undistinguishing flames over the most orthodox buildings. The statues of the emperor were broken, and his person was concealed in a suburb, till, at the end of three days, he dared to implore the mercy of his subjects. Without his diadem, and in the posture of a suppliant, Anastasius appeared on the throne of the circus. The Catholics, before his face, rehearsed their genuine Trisagion; they exulted in the offer, which he proclaimed by the voice of a herald, of abdicating the purple; they listened to the admonition, that, since all could not reign, they should previously agree in the choice of a sovereign; and they accepted the blood of two unpopular ministers, whom their master, without hesitation, condemned to the lions. These furious but transient seditions were encouraged by the success of Vitalian, who, with an army of Huns and Bulgarians, for the most part idolaters, declared himself the champion of the Catholic faith. In this pious rebellion he depopulated Thrace, besieged Constantinople, exterminated sixty-five thousand of his fellow-Christians, till he obtained the recall of the bishops, the satisfaction of the pope, and the establishment of the council of Chalcedon, an orthodox treaty, reluctantly signed by the dying Anastasius, and more faithfully performed by the uncle of Justinian. And such was the event of the first of the religious wars which have been waged in the name and by the disciples, of the God of peace. ^79

[Footnote 76: Petavius (Dogmat. Theolog. tom. v. l. v. c. 2, 3, 4, p. 217 - 225) and Tillemont (Mem. Eccles. tom. xiv. p. 713, &c., 799) represent the history and doctrine of the Trisagion. In the twelve centuries between Isaiah and St. Proculs's boy, who was taken up into heaven before the bishop and people of Constantinople, the song was considerably improved. The boy heard the angels sing, "Holy God! Holy strong! Holy immortal!"]

[Footnote 77: Peter Gnapheus, the fuller, (a trade which he had exercised in his monastery,) patriarch of Antioch. His tedious story is discussed in the Annals of Pagi (A.D. 477 - 490) and a dissertation of M. de Valois at the end of his Evagrius.]

[Footnote 78: The troubles under the reign of Anastasius must be gathered from the Chronicles of Victor, Marcellinus, and Theophanes. As the last was not published in the time of Baronius, his critic Pagi is more copious, as well as more correct.]

[Footnote 79: The general history, from the council of Chalcedon to the death of Anastasius, may be found in the Breviary of Liberatus, (c. 14 - 19,) the iid and iiid books of Evagrius, the abstract of the two books of Theodore the Reader, the Acts of the Synods, and the Epistles of the Pope, (Concil. tom. v.) The series is continued with some disorder in the xvth and xvith tomes of the Memoires Ecclesiastiques of Tillemont. And here I must take leave forever of that incomparable guide - whose bigotry is overbalanced by the merits of erudition, diligence, veracity, and scrupulous minuteness. He was prevented by death from completing, as he designed, the vith century of the church and empire.]



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Fall of Roman Empire
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