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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Is confirmed by the testimony of Joannes Lydus


misfortune. Their murmurs served

only to fortify the resolution of Justinian; but the resentment of Theodora, disdained a power before which every knee was bent, and attempted to sow the seeds of discord between the emperor and his beloved consort. Even Theodora herself was constrained to dissemble, to wait a favorable moment, and, by an artful conspiracy, to render John of Coppadocia the accomplice of his own destruction. [932] At a time when Belisarius, unless he had been a hero, must have shown himself a rebel, his wife Antonina, who enjoyed the secret confidence of the empress, communicated his feigned discontent to Euphemia, the daughter of the praefect; the credulous virgin imparted to her father the dangerous project, and John, who might have known the value of oaths and promises, was tempted to accept a nocturnal, and almost treasonable, interview with the wife of Belisarius. An ambuscade of guards and eunuchs had been posted by the command of Theodora; they rushed with drawn swords to seize or to punish the guilty minister: he was saved by the fidelity of his attendants; but instead of appealing to a gracious sovereign, who had privately warned him of his danger, he pusillanimously fled to the sanctuary of the church. The favorite of Justinian was sacrificed to conjugal tenderness or domestic tranquility; the conversion of a praefect into a priest extinguished his ambitious hopes: but the friendship of the emperor alleviated his disgrace, and he retained in the mild exile of Cyzicus an ample portion
of his riches. Such imperfect revenge could not satisfy the unrelenting hatred of Theodora; the murder of his old enemy, the bishop of Cyzicus, afforded a decent pretence; and John of Cappadocia, whose actions had deserved a thousand deaths, was at last condemned for a crime of which he was innocent. A great minister, who had been invested with the honors of consul and patrician, was ignominiously scourged like the vilest of malefactors; a tattered cloak was the sole remnant of his fortunes; he was transported in a bark to the place of his banishment at Antinopolis in Upper Egypt, and the praefect of the East begged his bread through the cities which had trembled at his name. During an exile of seven years, his life was protracted and threatened by the ingenious cruelty of Theodora; and when her death permitted the emperor to recall a servant whom he had abandoned with regret, the ambition of John of Cappadocia was reduced to the humble duties of the sacerdotal profession. His successors convinced the subjects of Justinian, that the arts of oppression might still be improved by experience and industry; the frauds of a Syrian banker were introduced into the administration of the finances; and the example of the praefect was diligently copied by the quaestor, the public and private treasurer, the governors of provinces, and the principal magistrates of the Eastern empire. [94]

[Footnote 91: One of these, Anatolius, perished in an earthquake--doubtless a judgment! The complaints and clamors of the people in Agathias (l. v. p. 146, 147) are almost an echo of the anecdote. The aliena pecunia reddenda of Corippus (l. ii. 381, &c.,) is not very honorable to Justinian's memory.]

[Footnote 92: See the history and character of John of Cappadocia in Procopius. (Persic, l. i. c. 35, 25, l. ii. c. 30. Vandal. l. i. c. 13. Anecdot. c. 2, 17, 22.) The agreement of the history and anecdotes is a mortal wound to the reputation of the praefct.]

[Footnote 921: This view, particularly of the cruelty of John of Cappadocia, is confirmed by the testimony of Joannes Lydus, who was in the office of the praefect, and eye-witness of the tortures inflicted by his command on the miserable debtors, or supposed debtors, of the state. He mentions one horrible instance of a respectable old man, with whom he was personally acquainted, who, being suspected of possessing money, was hung up by the hands till he was dead. Lydus de Magist. lib. iii. c. 57, p. 254.--M.]


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