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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Which Theophanes has preserved


their escape, and the monks of St. Conon, issuing from the neighboring convent, conveyed them in a boat to the sanctuary of the church. [51] As one of these criminals was of the blue, and the other of the green livery, the two factions were equally provoked by the cruelty of their oppressor, or the ingratitude of their patron; and a short truce was concluded till they had delivered their prisoners and satisfied their revenge. The palace of the praefect, who withstood the seditious torrent, was instantly burnt, his officers and guards were massacred, the prisons were forced open, and freedom was restored to those who could only use it for the public destruction. A military force, which had been despatched to the aid of the civil magistrate, was fiercely encountered by an armed multitude, whose numbers and boldness continually increased; and the Heruli, the wildest Barbarians in the service of the empire, overturned the priests and their relics, which, from a pious motive, had been rashly interposed to separate the bloody conflict. The tumult was exasperated by this sacrilege, the people fought with enthusiasm in the cause of God; the women, from the roofs and windows, showered stones on the heads of the soldiers, who darted fire brands against the houses; and the various flames, which had been kindled by the hands of citizens and strangers, spread without control over the face of the city. The conflagration involved the cathedral of St. Sophia, the baths of Zeuxippus, a part of the palace, from the first entrance to the altar of Mars, and the long portico from the palace to the forum of Constantine: a large hospital, with the sick patients, was consumed; many churches and stately edifices were destroyed and an immense treasure of gold and silver was either melted or lost. From such scenes of horror and distress, the wise and wealthy citizens escaped over the Bosphorus to the Asiatic side; and during five days Constantinople was abandoned to the factions, whose watchword, Nika, vanquish! has given a name to this memorable sedition. [52]

[Footnote 50: This dialogue, which Theophanes has preserved, exhibits the popular language, as well as the manners, of Constantinople, in the vith century. Their Greek is mingled with many strange and barbarous words, for which Ducange cannot always find a meaning or etymology.]

[Footnote 51: See this church and monastery in Ducange, C. P. Christiana, l. iv p 182.]

[Footnote 52: The history of the Nika sedition is extracted from Marcellinus, (in Chron.,) Procopius, (Persic. l. i. c. 26,) John Malala, (tom. ii. p. 213--218,) Chron. Paschal., (p. 336--340,) Theophanes, (Chronograph. p. 154--158) and Zonaras, (l. xiv. p. 61--63.)]

As long as the factions were divided, the triumphant blues, and desponding greens, appeared to behold with the same indifference the disorders of the state. They agreed to censure the corrupt


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