free ebooks

History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

The life of Justinian was spared


[Footnote

1113: Schlosser (Geschichte der bilder sturmenden Kaiser, p. 90) supposed that the young princes were mutilated after the first insurrection; that after this the acts were still inscribed with their names, the princes being closely secluded in the palace. The improbability of this circumstance may be weighed against Gibbon's want of authority for his statement.--M.]

After the decease of his father, the inheritance of the Roman world devolved to Justinian II.; and the name of a triumphant lawgiver was dishonored by the vices of a boy, who imitated his namesake only in the expensive luxury of building. His passions were strong; his understanding was feeble; and he was intoxicated with a foolish pride, that his birth had given him the command of millions, of whom the smallest community would not have chosen him for their local magistrate. His favorite ministers were two beings the least susceptible of human sympathy, a eunuch and a monk: to the one he abandoned the palace, to the other the finances; the former corrected the emperor's mother with a scourge, the latter suspended the insolvent tributaries, with their heads downwards, over a slow and smoky fire. Since the days of Commodus and Caracalla, the cruelty of the Roman princes had most commonly been the effect of their fear; but Justinian, who possessed some vigor of character, enjoyed the sufferings, and braved the revenge, of his subjects, about ten years, till the measure was full, of his

crimes and of their patience. In a dark dungeon, Leontius, a general of reputation, had groaned above three years, with some of the noblest and most deserving of the patricians: he was suddenly drawn forth to assume the government of Greece; and this promotion of an injured man was a mark of the contempt rather than of the confidence of his prince. As he was followed to the port by the kind offices of his friends, Leontius observed, with a sigh, that he was a victim adorned for sacrifice, and that inevitable death would pursue his footsteps. They ventured to reply, that glory and empire might be the recompense of a generous resolution; that every order of men abhorred the reign of a monster; and that the hands of two hundred thousand patriots expected only the voice of a leader. The night was chosen for their deliverance; and in the first effort of the conspirators, the praefect was slain, and the prisons were forced open: the emissaries of Leontius proclaimed in every street, "Christians, to St. Sophia!" and the seasonable text of the patriarch, "This is the day of the Lord!" was the prelude of an inflammatory sermon. From the church the people adjourned to the hippodrome: Justinian, in whose cause not a sword had been drawn, was dragged before these tumultuary judges, and their clamors demanded the instant death of the tyrant. But Leontius, who was already clothed with the purple, cast an eye of pity on the prostrate son of his own benefactor and of so many emperors. The life of Justinian was spared; the amputation of his nose, perhaps of his tongue, was imperfectly performed: the happy flexibility of the Greek language could impose the name of Rhinotmetus; and the mutilated tyrant was banished to Chersonae in Crim-Tartary, a lonely settlement, where corn, wine, and oil, were imported as foreign luxuries.


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