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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

And agitated by female passions and Verina


grandson, the son of his daughter

Ariadne; and her Isaurian husband, the fortunate Trascalisseus, exchanged that barbarous sound for the Grecian appellation of Zeno. After the decease of the elder Leo, he approached with unnatural respect the throne of his son, humbly received, as a gift, the second rank in the empire, and soon excited the public suspicion on the sudden and premature death of his young colleague, whose life could no longer promote the success of his ambition. But the palace of Constantinople was ruled by female influence, and agitated by female passions: and Verina, the widow of Leo, claiming his empire as her own, pronounced a sentence of deposition against the worthless and ungrateful servant on whom she alone had bestowed the sceptre of the East. [6] As soon as she sounded a revolt in the ears of Zeno, he fled with precipitation into the mountains of Isauria, and her brother Basiliscus, already infamous by his African expedition, [7] was unanimously proclaimed by the servile senate. But the reign of the usurper was short and turbulent. Basiliscus presumed to assassinate the lover of his sister; he dared to offend the lover of his wife, the vain and insolent Harmatius, who, in the midst of Asiatic luxury, affected the dress, the demeanor, and the surname of Achilles. [8] By the conspiracy of the malecontents, Zeno was recalled from exile; the armies, the capital, the person, of Basiliscus, were betrayed; and his whole family was condemned to the long agony of cold and hunger by the inhuman conqueror,
who wanted courage to encounter or to forgive his enemies. [811] The haughty spirit of Verina was still incapable of submission or repose. She provoked the enmity of a favorite general, embraced his cause as soon as he was disgraced, created a new emperor in Syria and Egypt, [812] raised an army of seventy thousand men, and persisted to the last moment of her life in a fruitless rebellion, which, according to the fashion of the age, had been predicted by Christian hermits and Pagan magicians. While the East was afflicted by the passions of Verina, her daughter Ariadne was distinguished by the female virtues of mildness and fidelity; she followed her husband in his exile, and after his restoration, she implored his clemency in favor of her mother. On the decease of Zeno, Ariadne, the daughter, the mother, and the widow of an emperor, gave her hand and the Imperial title to Anastasius, an aged domestic of the palace, who survived his elevation above twenty-seven years, and whose character is attested by the acclamation of the people, "Reign as you have lived!" [9] [911]

[Footnote 6: Theophanes (p. 111) inserts a copy of her sacred letters to the provinces. Such female pretensions would have astonished the slaves of the first Caesars.]

[Footnote 7: Vol. iii. p. 504--508.]

[Footnote 8: Suidas, tom. i. p. 332, 333, edit. Kuster.]

[Footnote 811: Joannes Lydus accuses Zeno of timidity, or, rather, of cowardice; he purchased an ignominious peace from the enemies of the empire, whom he dared not meet in battle; and employed his whole time at home in confiscations and executions. Lydus, de Magist. iii. 45, p. 230.--M.]


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