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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Secret History

of
Procopius

published in the Loeb Classical Library,
1935

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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Procopius
The Anecdota
or Secret History

p361 Appendix I

The Factions of the Hippodrome in Constantinople

The following account of the strange nature and the pernicious activity of the Green and the Blue Factions, derived, it would appear, from the four parties of the Roman Circus, is taken from Bury's edition of Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, IV.220 ff.

"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. From the capital this pestilence was diffused into the provinces and cities of the East, and the sportive distinction of the two colours produced two strong and irreconcilable factions which shook the foundations of a feeble government. 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 p362or 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 licence, 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 honours. 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, 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."


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Page updated: 12 Feb 09