free ebooks

History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Their adversaries of the green faction


[Footnote

41: Read and feel the xxiid book of the Iliad, a living picture of manners, passions, and the whole form and spirit of the chariot race West's Dissertation on the Olympic Games (sect. xii.--xvii.) affords much curious and authentic information.]

[Footnote 42: The four colors, albati, russati, prasini, veneti, represent the four seasons, according to Cassiodorus, (Var. iii. 51,) who lavishes much wit and eloquence on this theatrical mystery. Of these colors, the three first may be fairly translated white, red, and green. Venetus is explained by coeruleus, a word various and vague: it is properly the sky reflected in the sea; but custom and convenience may allow blue as an equivalent, (Robert. Stephan. sub voce. Spence's Polymetis, p. 228.)]

[Footnote 43: See Onuphrius Panvinius de Ludis Circensibus, l. i. c. 10, 11; the xviith Annotation on Mascou's History of the Germans; and Aleman ad c. vii.]

Constantinople adopted the follies, though not the virtues, of ancient Rome; and the same factions which had agitated the circus, raged with redoubled fury in the hippodrome. Under the reign of Anastasius, this popular frenzy was inflamed by religious zeal; and the greens, who had treacherously concealed stones and daggers under baskets of fruit, massacred, at a solemn festival, three thousand of their blue adversaries. [44] From this capital, the pestilence was diffused into the provinces

and cities of the East, and the sportive distinction of two colors produced two strong and irreconcilable factions, which shook the foundations of a feeble government. [45] The popular dissensions, founded on the most serious interest, or holy pretence, have scarcely equalled the obstinacy of this wanton discord, which invaded the peace of families, divided friends and brothers, and tempted the female sex, though seldom seen in the circus, to espouse the inclinations of their lovers, or to contradict the wishes of their husbands. Every law, either human or divine, was trampled under foot, and as long as the party was successful, its deluded followers appeared careless of private distress or public calamity. The license, without the freedom, of democracy, was revived at Antioch and Constantinople, and the support of a faction became necessary to every candidate for civil or ecclesiastical honors. A secret attachment to the family or sect of Anastasius was imputed to the greens; the blues were zealously devoted to the cause of orthodoxy and Justinian, [46] and their grateful patron protected, above five years, the disorders of a faction, whose seasonable tumults overawed the palace, the senate, and the capitals of the East. Insolent with royal favor, the blues affected to strike terror by a peculiar and Barbaric dress, the long hair of the Huns, their close sleeves and ample garments, a lofty step, and a sonorous voice. In the day they concealed their two-edged poniards, but in the night they boldly assembled in arms, and in numerous bands, prepared for every act of violence and rapine. Their adversaries of the green faction, or even inoffensive citizens, were stripped and often murdered by these nocturnal robbers, and it became dangerous to wear any gold buttons or girdles, or to appear at a late hour in the streets of a peaceful capital. A daring spirit, rising with impunity, proceeded to violate the safeguard of private houses; and fire was employed to facilitate the attack, or to conceal the crimes of these factious rioters. No place was safe or sacred from their depredations; to gratify either avarice or revenge,


eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us

freefictionbooks.org is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 freefictionbooks.org - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us