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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

13 understands of Theophanes as civil language


[Footnote

34: Ludewig, p. 161--166. I give him credit for the charitable attempt, although he hath not much charity in his temper.]

[Footnote 35: Compare the anecdotes (c. 17) with the Edifices (l. i. c. 9)--how differently may the same fact be stated! John Malala (tom. ii. p. 174, 175) observes, that on this, or a similar occasion, she released and clothed the girls whom she had purchased from the stews at five aurei apiece.]

[Footnote 36: Novel. viii. 1. An allusion to Theodora. Her enemies read the name Daemonodora, (Aleman. p. 66.)]

[Footnote 37: St. Sabas refused to pray for a son of Theodora, lest he should prove a heretic worse than Anastasius himself, (Cyril in Vit. St. Sabae, apud Aleman. p. 70, 109.)]

[Footnote 38: See John Malala, tom. ii. p. 174. Theophanes, p. 158. Procopius de Edific. l. v. c. 3.]

[Footnote 39: Theodora Chalcedonensis synodi inimica canceris plaga toto corpore perfusa vitam prodigiose finivit, (Victor Tununensis in Chron.) On such occasions, an orthodox mind is steeled against pity. Alemannus (p. 12, 13) understands of Theophanes as civil language, which does not imply either piety or repentance; yet two years after her death, St. Theodora is celebrated by Paul Silentiarius, (in proem. v. 58--62.)]

[Footnote 40: As she persecuted the popes, and rejected

a council, Baronius exhausts the names of Eve, Dalila, Herodias, &c.; after which he has recourse to his infernal dictionary: civis inferni--alumna daemonum--satanico agitata spiritu-oestro percita diabolico, &c., &c., (A.D. 548, No. 24.)]

II. A material difference may be observed in the games of antiquity: the most eminent of the Greeks were actors, the Romans were merely spectators. The Olympic stadium was open to wealth, merit, and ambition; and if the candidates could depend on their personal skill and activity, they might pursue the footsteps of Diomede and Menelaus, and conduct their own horses in the rapid career. [41] Ten, twenty, forty chariots were allowed to start at the same instant; a crown of leaves was the reward of the victor; and his fame, with that of his family and country, was chanted in lyric strains more durable than monuments of brass and marble. But a senator, or even a citizen, conscious of his dignity, would have blushed to expose his person, or his horses, in the circus of Rome. The games were exhibited at the expense of the republic, the magistrates, or the emperors: but the reins were abandoned to servile hands; and if the profits of a favorite charioteer sometimes exceeded those of an advocate, they must be considered as the effects of popular extravagance, and the high wages of a disgraceful profession. The race, in its first institution, was a simple contest of two chariots, whose drivers were distinguished by white and red liveries: two additional colors, a light green, and a caerulean blue, were afterwards introduced; and as the races were repeated twenty-five times, one hundred chariots contributed in the same day to the pomp of the circus. The four factions soon acquired a legal establishment, and a mysterious origin, and their fanciful colors were derived from the various appearances of nature in the four seasons of the year; the red dogstar of summer, the snows of winter, the deep shades of autumn, and the cheerful verdure of the spring. [42] Another interpretation preferred the elements to the seasons, and the struggle of the green and blue was supposed to represent the conflict of the earth and sea. Their respective victories announced either a plentiful harvest or a prosperous navigation, and the hostility of the husbandmen and mariners was somewhat less absurd than the blind ardor of the Roman people, who devoted their lives and fortunes to the color which they had espoused. Such folly was disdained and indulged by the wisest princes; but the names of Caligula, Nero, Vitellius, Verus, Commodus, Caracalla, and Elagabalus, were enrolled in the blue or green factions of the circus; they frequented their stables, applauded their favorites, chastised their antagonists, and deserved the esteem of the populace, by the natural or affected imitation of their manners. The bloody and tumultuous contest continued to disturb the public festivity, till the last age of the spectacles of Rome; and Theodoric, from a motive of justice or affection, interposed his authority to protect the greens against the violence of a consul and a patrician, who were passionately addicted to the blue faction of the circus. [43]


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