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Book I
Chapter 8

This webpage reproduces a chapter of

Italy and Her Invaders

by
Thomas Hodgkin


2nd edition
Oxford University Press
London, 1892

The text, and illustrations except as noted,
are 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,
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Book I
Chapter 10

Book 1 (continued)

Vol. I
p470
Chapter IX

The Insurrection of Antioch

Authorities

Sources: —

For the events narrated in the following chapter we have two invaluable contemporary authorities, Libanius and Chrysostom.

Libanius, professor of rhetoric, was born at Antioch in the year 314. He lost his father when he was ten years old, and the care of his education devolved on his mother, a gentle and loveable woman, who after her husband's death lived only for her children. All the traditions of his family, and the influences which were brought to bear upon him in childhood, breathed the spirit of Hellenism; and a worshipper of the old gods of Greece Libanius remained through life, notwithstanding the ever-increasing number of the votaries of Christianity in Antioch. In his fifteenth year Libanius solemnly dedicated himself to the pursuit of knowledge, a pursuit, however, which according to the ideas of the time meant chiefly the reading of the Greek poets and the rather profitless toil of a student of rhetoric. After visiting Greece and spending several years of middle life at Constantinople and Nicomedia, he returned to his native city about the year 354, and there spent the remainder of his days. As a State-paid professor of rhetoric he received the Ateleia or immunity from all political and fiscal claims, and thus escaped the dangerous honour of a seat in the Senate to which many of his friends were entitled. As a heathen he hailed with joy the accession of Julian (361), praised enthusiastically his measures for the restoration of the  p471 ancient faith, and wrote a mournful monody on his death, bitterly reproaching the gods for allowing their votary to be cut off before his prime. Libanius was seventy-three years old at the time of the insurrection of Antioch, which was the last public event in which he took a prominent part. He composed five orations on the subject, two addressed (or supposed to be addressed) to Theodosius, one aimed at the fugitives from the city, and one addressed to each of the two Commissioners, Caesarius and Hellebichus. Zosimus represents him as sent on an embassy from the citizens of Antioch to the Imperial Court, but this is certainly an error, probably derived from the fact that in his first oration to Theodosius, Libanius represents himself, by a rhetorical fiction, as having undertaken the long and difficult journey to the capital in order to plead for his fellow-citizens.

The orations themselves, though they supply us with some valuable information, are tedious and vapid in the extreme. There is no orderly grouping of facts, no steady march in the argument. The orator darts from one obscurity to another without plan or method; and one cannot but feel that it was fortunate for the citizens of Antioch that the irritable Emperor was spared the annoyance of listening to such an intercessor. Libanius had suffered all his life from weak health, and perhaps the utter poverty of these speeches may be partly excused by the fact that he was sinking into his dotage.

The year of Libanius' death is uncertain, but it is possible that he survived to the accession of Arcadius (395). It is said that on his death‑bed he was asked who should succeed him in his professor's chair, and that he answered, 'It should have been Chrysostom if the Christians had not stolen him from us.'

For John surnamed Chrysostom (the golden-mouthed) was in his youth one of the pupils of Libanius. He was born at Antioch about 346, the son of an 'illustrious' Master of the Soldiery, who died when Chrysostom was an infant. At the age of twenty he began to attend the school of Libanius, where he soon gave indications of his future eminence as an orator. At this time he was intending to practise as an advocate in the law‑courts, thus entering upon a career which would probably have led a man of his abilities to the highest civil dignities of the Empire. But under the influence of a friend of his named  p472 Basil (not the great Cappadocian St. Basil) Chrysostom because more and more dissatisfied with his chosen profession, and cherished with increasing affection the thought of devoting himself along with Basil and two other young men (one of whom was the celebrated Theodore of Mopsuestia) to what he called 'the true philosophy,' a life of monastic self-seclusion from the world. The earnest entreaties of his mother, who had set her heart on seeing him pursue a brilliant career in the Prefect's Court, prevailed upon him for a time to forego his design; but at length about the year 374 (possibly after his mother's death), he finally quitted the bar and retired to a monastery in the mountains south of Antioch, which was governed by the rule of the Egyptian Pachomius. After four years he left his cell in the monastery for a solitary cave, or in the technical language of monasticism, he exchanged the life of a coenobite for that of an anchorite. Here his austerities were so great that he was able to continue this mode of life for only two years. With a prematurely wasted frame and health permanently injured, he returned to Antioch, where in the year 381 he was ordained as a deacon by Meletius shortly before the departure of that prelate to the Council of Constantinople. In 386 he received the office of presbyter from the hands of Flavian, the successor of Meletius, and at once began to make his mark as the greatest preacher of his city, and (as was soon discovered) the greatest preacher of the Christian world. He had been thus engaged for about a year, when the insurrection of Antioch broke out, and 'the Homilies on the Statues,' twenty in number, were preached by him. Though diffuse, these homilies are models of grave, well-sustained, and earnest eloquence (incomparably superior to the obscure platitudes of Libanius), and we are indebted to them for some of our most vivid impressions of the Imperial City of Antioch in her varying moods of insolence and terror.

The precise order of the Homilies on the Statues cannot perhaps now be clearly ascertained. In spite of Clinton's defence (Fasti Romani, I.515) it does not seem possible to uphold the order in which they are now arranged. The following is the chronology of the period between the insurrection and the pardon according to Dr. Arnold Hug, whose monograph on the subject is alluded to below: —

 p473 
March 4, Outbreak of the Sedition.
" 6‑13, 1st week of Lent Homily 2. Departure of Flavian. Homilies 3‑8, 15.
" 13‑20, 2nd   "      "
" 20‑27, 3rd   "      " Homilies 16 (The Prefect in the Church), 9, 20.
" 27‑Ap. 3, 4th   "      " March 29 (Monday) Arrival of the Commissioners.
  "   30 (Tuesday) Preliminary enquiry.
  "   31 (Wednesday) Day of judgment.
Postponement of sentence.
April  1 (Thursday) Departure of Caesarius.
April 3‑10, 5th   "      " Homilies 11, 12, 13 (Wednesday), 17, 14, 18 (half of Lent over: not yet 20 days since the first edict of the Emperor). Towards the end of the week, arrival of Caesarius at Constantinople, and pardon of the Antiochenes.
" 10‑17 6th   "      " Homily 20 (10 days before Easter).
" 17‑24, 7th   "      " (Beginning of this week or end of the previous one.) Arrival of the decree of pardon. Rejoicings in the city.
" 25,

Easter Sunday

Homily 21. The Christians celebrate at the same time the return of Flavian.

Some of the chief events in the later career of Chrysostom will come under our notice in a subsequent chapter.

The ecclesiastical historians, especially Theodoret, supply some few further particulars, but are not very accurate in their dates.

Guides: —

The careful little essay Dr. Arnold Hug, 'Antiochia und der Aufstand des Jahres 387 n. Chr.' (Winterthur, 1863), deals  p474 exhaustively with the subject of this chapter. But in order to understand the historical framework of the story, it will be well to consult Dr. G. B. Sievers, 'Das Leben des Libanius' (Berlin, 1868), published after the death of its author, and a truly admirable specimen of a German monograph, laborious but clear, often even graphic, and above all furnished with a very complete index.

The life of St. John Chrysostom, by the Rev. W. R. W. Stephens (London, 1883: 3rd edition), will also be found very helpful.

Defects in the financial policy of Theodosius. It has been already hinted that Theodosius was not an economical ruler of the Empire. Both his policy and his pleasures compelled him to make large demands on the purses of his subjects. The chiefs of the foederati, who doubtless thought the wealth of the great Empire boundless, could not be kept in good humour without rich presents for themselves and frequent largesse for their followers. And, whether we accept or partially reject the accusations of Zosimus, who never tires of inveighing against the luxury, the extravagance, the prodigality of Theodosius, it is clear he had no tendency towards parsimony, and that he had very high notions of the state which a Roman Augustus ought to maintain. Possibly a liberal expenditure was a wise policy for the Empire; certainly frugality like that of Valens had proved in the end disastrously expensive: but, whether wise or unwise, the heavy demands which it necessitated upon the resources of the tax‑payers caused, doubtless, many a muttered execration against this spendthrift Spaniard, his barbarians, and his chamberlains, execrations of which we not only hear the distant echo in the words of Zosimus, but can listen to their turbulent explosion in the story of the insurrection of Antioch.

 p475  Quinquennalia of Arcadius. In the beginning of the year 387 (before Maximus had openly declared war upon Valentinian), Theodosius determined to celebrate the expiration of eight years of his own government and four of the conjoint rule of himself and his young son Arcadius,1 or in more technical language his own Decennalia and his son's Quinquennalia. The festival of the Quinquennalia, instituted in imitation of the Greek Olympiads, recurred every fifth year, that is, at the expiration of the fourth, the ninth, and the fourteenth years of the ruler's reign, and so on. It consisted of games, chariot-races, and musical contests; but above all, in the present state of the Empire, and with the ever-growing demands of the German foederati, it was an occasion for increased largesse to the soldiery. Letters were accordingly written by the Emperor, commanding the provinces to furnish extraordinary contributions for these Quinquennalia.2 These letters caused probably in most cities of the already over-burdened East, such domestic scenes as are vividly described to us by the great preacher of Antioch:3 'When we hear that gold is required of us by the Emperor, every one goes to his house and calls together his wife, his children, and his slaves, that he may consult with them from what source  p476 he shall raise that contribution.' But though we hear rumours of seditious movements at Alexandria4 and Beyrout, it was only at Antioch that the discontent caused by these unwelcome letters burst into a flame.

Exacting disposition of the citizens of Antioch. For the special irritation displayed by the citizens of Antioch there were several reasons. The great capital of the East, situated in the delightful valley of the Orontes, with her massive walls boldly climbing the picturesque heights of Mount Silpius, her long colonnade, the work of Herod, her Royal Palace, her Forum, her Hippodrome; the city which had been for near three centuries the seat of the mighty kingdom of the Seleucidae, the city which now prided herself yet more on having been the birthplace of the name 'Christian,' was disposed to be somewhat exacting in her demeanour towards her Roman rulers. Julian's slovenly attire and unkempt beard had moved the scorn of the citizens of Antioch, a scorn so openly displayed as to provoke him to the undignified retaliation of the satire Misopogon.5 Jovian, whose abandonment of Nisibis filled the people of Antioch with fears lest they should be the next victims, was assailed in scurrilous libels,6 and had Helen's bitter taunt of Paris hurled in his face —

'Back you are come from the fight: I would you had died on the war‑plain.'7

 p477  But the dark and suspicious Valens, so little loved in the rest of the Empire, seems to have been generally popular in Antioch, on account of his having preferred it to Constantinople as his chief place of abode. Now, however, this new Spanish Emperor, who was approaching the Decennalia of his reign, had not once favoured the dwellers by the Orontes with a sight of his comely countenance. Antioch, therefore, was already sore at heart with her sovereign as well as overburdened with the expenses of his administration, when these letters of his came (probably in the early days of March 387) to turn the mob's dislike into hatred and the tax‑payer's perplexity into despair.

The Senatorial class at Antioch. The story of the insurrection which now broke forth, brings into strong relief the character of the two classes which together made up the bulk of the free population of Antioch as of the other cities of the Empire. There was first the Middle Class, as we should now call it, timid, unenterprising, still perhaps wealthy, though groaning under the heavy burdens imposed upon it by the financial necessities of the sinking Empire. From this class, centuries ago, had emerged the citizens who, with eager emulation, had contended with one another for the honour of a seat in the Curia or Senate of their native city, and the glory of being addressed as Decurio. That state of things had now long passed away. Though the Curia had still some power (of the kind recently possessed in England by 'Quarter Sessions' and now by the 'County Council'), it was well understood among all classes, that the sensibility attached to the office of Decurio so largely outweighed the power, that no reasonable being would covet a seat in the local Senate for its own sake. Instead of a  p478 coveted honour, therefore, it had become a dreaded, but hereditary, burden imposed on the infant son of a Decurio at birth and (for the most part) only to be escaped from by death. Above these Curial families stood a small privileged class of functionaries, Prefects, Counts, Consulars, and their children, the most highly prized of whose immunities consisted in this, that they could no longer be called upon to discharge 'Curial obligations.' Below them lay the great sensual, swinish mass of Forum-loungers. All that was onerous in public life, fell with ever-increasing weight on the middle class of Decurions. The collection of the revenue, the responsibility for the cornº‑rations, the care of the prisons, even the heating of the baths, devolved on these men; and whoever else might by jobbery and peculation defraud the public revenue, it seems clear that the Decurion had no chance of plundering, but only the dreary necessity of making good the deficiency caused by the plundering of others.

It is no wonder that a class thus heavily burdened was ever dwindling both in numbers and in wealth. The Senate of Antioch, which had once consisted of 600 members, had so far fallen away that the Emperor Julian took credit to himself for having raised its number to 200; yet, notwithstanding this temporary increase, that number had again fallen to 60 in 386, and in 388 (the year following the insurrection), it was only 12.8 The same attenuation was evidently going on throughout the Empire. The governor of Cilicia, at the period of which we are now treating, found the Senate of the city of Alexandria in that province  p479 reduced to one lame man, but raised it to 15 without violence, but merely by kind words and the assurance that the agents of the centralised despotism at Constantinople should not be permitted to plunder the new Senators, who might even make some profit out of their administrative functions. These fair words drew the desired Senators from their hiding-places under beds and couches or in the caves of the mountains, to undertake, even with alacrity, 'Curial obligations.' Once, too, when the first Valentinian, in one of his cruel moods, issued a decree that for the punishment of some disorders in one of the provinces, three Decurions in each of its cities should be put to death, the Prefect to whom this order was addressed replied pleasantly, 'What is to be done if a town have not so many as three Decurions in it? You ought to add these words to the Edict, "(Let them be killed) if they can be found." '9

Such then was the burdened, sorely pressed life of the comparatively wealthy citizens of the Middle Class who were left in the cities of the Empire. It is easy to see that it reproduces the so‑called 'liturgies' (obligations to undertake certain services to the State), which formed so marked a feature in the life of ancient Athens, and it is indeed under this term that the Curial obligations are constantly spoken of by contemporary orators;10 but the means to discharge these liturgies had grown smaller, the command to perform them harsher and more irresistible, the inducement which had once been the desire to earn the favour of one's fellow citizens,  p480 and to be by them raised to the high places of the State, had vanished altogether.

Privileges of the mob. But as the rich liturgy-performing aristocracy, so also the pampered democracy of the cities of the Empire, carries us back in remembrance to the days of Aristophanes. The idea of the Roman Empire was in the main urban, as was that of the Athenian Empire, and not only were they both urban, but both were in a certain sense socialistic. To keep the populace of the capital cities of the Empire in good humour was one of the chief cares of a Roman Augustus, and almost of equal importance with the other two, the maintenance of the loyalty of the army and the repulse of the incursions of the barbarians. At Antioch, as at Rome, at Constantinople, and at Alexandria, the citizens enjoyed a free distribution of corn or rather of bread, at the expense of the State. The precise amount of this daily ration does not seem to be handed down to us, but there can be no doubt that it was sufficient to support life for the receiver and his family, and to obviate the necessity of work. The bath — that luxury which is almost a necessity under a Syrian sky — was also open, either gratuitously or at an exceedingly small charge, to all classes of the community; and when the water was not heated hot enough, Demos in the Theatre howled his disapprobation and even threw stones at the governor who had been so slack in enforcing the ministrations of the richer citizens to his comfort.11 Twice (in 382 and 384) an unfavourable season raised the price of corn. The people in the Theatre cried out for larger loaves, cheaper loaves. In  p481 spite of the opposition of certain members of the Senate, who had some dim previsions of the science now known as Political Economy, a governor was each time found who issued a decree lowering the price of the loaf. Unable to comply with the decree the bakers left the city and fled to the mountains. Naturally the famine in the city was not lessened by their departure. The law was withdrawn and the bakers returned but led a precarious existence, always liable to be arrested, and flogged through the streets of Antioch if a governor wished to curry favour with the people, and to repel by this easy demonstration the charge of having himself shared in the profits of the unpopular class.12

The Aramaic-speaking rural population. We have glanced at the condition of the urban population, of which we always hear most; but we must not forget that there was in the rural districts of Syria a large peasant-class, which is comparatively mute in Imperial history. A sermon of St. Chrysostom13 brings before us the patient, toilful lives of these men, strangers to the language, to the pleasures, and to the vices of the city-populace, but united to them in faith; and in their temperate and frugal existence illustrating the spirit of Christianity far better than the noisy theological disputants of Antioch. The yoke of the Imperial government pressed heavily on these men, who could not shout applause in the Hippodrome, or hurl stones and taunts at the Prefect in the Theatre, and who therefore, as representative government was unknown, had no means of influencing the administration of affairs. Thus, when the populace were raging at the high price of bread, an edict was issued, forbidding any  p482 peasant to carry more than two loaves out of the city, and soldiers were stationed at the gates to enforce the observance of this decree. Thus also, by a yet more vexatious enactment, it was provided that every rustic who brought hay or straw into the city should carry out of it a certain quantity of the débris of houses shattered by earthquakes, or falling into decay, and this provision was stringently enforced even when the rain-swollen torrents and miry roads of winter made obedience to it most burdensome.14 It is by slight hints like these as to the condition of the rural population, that we are enabled to understand the rapid success of the Saracens in Syria, two centuries and a half after the period with which we are now dealing. These simple-hearted country folk with their Aramaic speech are in the year 387 still Christian by religious profession, but they are out of sympathy with Greek civilisation and are hardly dealt with by Roman functionaries. Bitter controversies and stern persecutions in the fifth and sixth centuries will alienate many of them from the form of faith dominant at Constantinople; and when in the seventh century a great Semitic prophet shall arise to reassert the principle of the unity of God and to declare a religious war against the Roman Empire, they will offer scant resistance to the sword of Khalid, and will after the lapse of one generation be counted among the most obedient followers of Islam.

Arrival of the taxation edict at Antioch. Circa
4 March15
Such then was the condition of the people in and around Antioch when, in the beginning of 387, the letters arrived from Theodosius ordering a levy of aurum coronarium for his son's Quinquennalia. It  p483 was felt that this was too much; and an angry growl was heard through all the ranks of the citizens. Men rushed up to one another in the market-place, saying, 'Our life is become unliveable; the city is quite ruined; no one will be able to bear such a weight of tribute.' So did the 'grave and reverend signors,' the men on whom the weight of taxation would fall most heavily, utter their discontent; and in their exasperation they probably used many a word bordering on treason. Meanwhile the mob, among whom there were many boys, and all of whom had the spirit of boyish mischief in their hearts, proceeded from words to deeds. Streaming along the great colonnade which ran past the judgment-hall, having thrown off their upper garments to show that they meant work, they lifted their right arms menacingly in the air calling on all brave men to join them. They went first to the public baths, and severing with their swords the ropes by which the great brazen lamps were suspended they let them fall with a crash to the pavement.

Overthrow of the Imperial statues. Then the statues of the Imperial family met their eyes and inflamed their wrath. Here was the Emperor himself with that stately presence of his which seemed to command the obedience of Goth and of Roman. By his side was the gentle and pious Flaccilla, the wife whom he had lost two years before. Here was his  p484 noble old father, the pacifier of Britain and of Africa; and here was the young Arcadius, the boy of ten years old for whose Quinquennalia all this weight of 'coronary gold' was demanded, and there was the little Honorius, a child of three, not yet Augustus, but already glorified with a statue. The whole family were for the moment hateful in the eyes of the men of Antioch. With ribald shouts and words which a loyal orator16 could not repeat and wished that he had never heard, they began to stone the wooden statues. There was a roar of laughter as each statue fell in ludicrous ruin, a roar of rage when one, more strongly compacted with its neighbour, resisted the onslaught. From the wooden statues they proceeded to those of brass. As stone-throwing here availed not, they tied ropes round the necks of the Imperial family, dragged them from their pedestals, smashed them as well as they could into fragments, and dragged the scattered members about the streets.

Fire-raising. There was a certain leading citizen who, as the mob felt, viewed these seditious proceedings with disapproval. To his house they rushed and threw fire into it, fire which if it could once have got a head would have destroyed the neighbouring palace of the Emperor. But now at last the chief officer of the garrison, a man well trained in war, but who had been completely cowed by this outburst of popular fury, recovered his nerve, ordered his archers to the rescue, extinguished the flames, and by a few discharges of arrows utterly quelled the rioters. The outbreak suppressed. Another officer (perhaps the Comes Orientis) when he heard that the archers were called out, plucked up his courage and brought his companies of infantry  p485 to assist in restoring order.17 The rioters who were caught in the act of incendiarism were committed to prison; the rest of the roaring crowd melted silently away: by noon Antioch was quiet again, and men had leisure to bethink them what had been done, and what punishment would fall upon the city.

Summary punishment. On the audacious criminals who had been caught red‑handed in the act of firing the city punishment, cruel in form, but, in essence, not unmerited, promptly descended. On the third day after the insurrection, Chrysostom, describing the fate of these lawless ones, said,18 'Some have perished by fire, others by the sword, others have been thrown to the wild beasts, and these, not men only, but boys also. Neither the unripeness of their age, nor the popular tumult, nor the fact that Devils tempted them to their mad outbreak, nor the intolerable burden of the taxes imposed, nor their poverty, nor the general assent of the citizens to the crime, nor their promise never to offend again — none of these pleas availed them, but, without chance of pardon, they have been hurried off to the place of execution,19 armed soldiers guarding them on all sides to prevent the possibility of a rescue. Mothers followed afar off beholding their sons dragged away and not daring even to bewail their calamity.'

 p486  Anxiety of the citizens. But severe as were these punishments inflicted on the most conspicuous rioters, there ran through all ranks of the community a vague presentiment that the matter would not end there. Messengers had at once started off for Constantinople to inform the Emperor of what had occurred, and the citizens shivered with fear when they thought what answer those messengers might possibly bring back with them. The insult to the Imperial dignity contained in the overthrow of the statues had been gross and palpable. The law of Laesa Majestas. All who had abetted or even connived at it were clearly liable to the tremendous penalties denounced against 'Laesa Majestas,' the Roman equivalent of High Treason. When, under Tiberius, the fashion of currying favour with the Emperors by lodging accusations of 'Majestas' against eminent citizens was raging most fiercely, if a man had beaten his slave, or changed his clothes, in the presence of the Emperor's statue, or if even in intoxication he had seemed to treat despitefully a ring bearing the Emperor's effigy, these were sufficient offences upon which to ground the terrible indictment.20 Possibly under later Emperors this fanaticism of adulation had somewhat subsided; but the statues of the reigning sovereign remained the visible expression of his majesty, raised (as we saw in the case of Maximus) when an usurper was recognised as legitimate ruler, hurled to the ground with ignominy when the fortune of war had declared against him. Woe therefore to the presumptuous mortal who laid a sacrilegious hand upon the effigy of the undethroned Emperor. The chapter  p487 in the Digest21 which comments on the law of Treason quotes two out of its eleven paragraphs to this very question. 'A man is not guilty of treason who repairs the statues of Caesar which have decayed through age. Nor is one, who by the chance throw of a stone has hit a statue, guilty of the crime of treason; so Severus and Antoninus (Caracalla) ruled in their rescript to Julius Cassianus. The same Emperors decided that there was no injury to "majestas" in selling the images of Caesar which had not yet been consecrated. But they who shall melt down the statues or images of the Emperor which have been already consecrated or commit any similar act, are subject to the penalties of the Lex Julia Majestatis.'

Were others beside the actual stone-throwers to be punished? That 'Majesty' had been 'injured' therefore in the colonnades of Antioch there could be no question, but the active perpetrators of the insult, notwithstanding the tender years of some of them, had already expiated this crime by fire, by sword, by the cruel teeth of the lions. The question now, the terrible question for the substantial citizens of Antioch, was how far they had made that crime their own by their tacit acquiescence. Thus was the case stated by the great preacher who put their dark forebodings into words:22 'Lo! we, whose conscience acquits us of having had any share in the outrage, are not less in fear of the Emperor's wrath than the actual criminals. For it sufficeth us not to say in our defence, "I was not present; I was not assisting; I was not a partaker in the crime." "For that very reason," he may say, "thou shalt be punished,  p488 because thou wast not present. Thou didst not hinder the lawless ones. Thou didst not help to repress the tumult. Thou didst not put thy life at hazard for the honour of the Emperor." '

At the distance of more than fifteen centuries it is hopeless to re‑try the case of the burgesses of Antioch, and to decide whether they were or were not guilty of connivance in the outrage on the Imperial dignity. The whole affair occupied only a few hours of a March morning; and it is clear that there was no premeditated revolt against the Emperor. But all men were taken by surprise. The wealthy burghers certainly showed an utter want of presence of mind and a cowardly unwillingness to face the mob. Perhaps their fault ended here, but the impression made upon my own mind is that there was something more than this; a certain disposition to stand on one side and allow this extravagant Spaniard who was making life unliveable by his ceaseless demands for money to fight his own battles and defend his throne against these roaring insurgents without the aid of the citizens.23

Bishop Flavian undertakes a mission of intercession. In their dismay at what had been done and fear of the consequences, the citizens of Antioch turned to the Church for aid. In fact, on the fatal morning itself, when the letters of the Emperor were read, the first impulse of the people had been to visit the house of Bishop Flavian and ask his counsel and intercession; and it was only when they had failed in finding him at home that the movement had passed from lamentation  p489 to mutiny.24 Now, they again and more earnestly sought the aid of the venerable prelate, the successor of Meletius, the man whose election had indirectly led to the abdication by Gregory Nazianzen of the Episcopal throne of Constantinople, but who had, by this time, lived down the opposition to his episcopate and was evidently not accepted merely, but beloved by the vast majority of the Christians of Antioch. Flavian was in advanced age, and broken health, little fitted to endure the fatigues and hardships of a journey of 800 miles across the highlands of Asia Minor in the beginning of March. Moreover, his only sister, who dwelt with him in the ancestral mansion, was lying on her death‑bed, and her one most earnest longing was that he might be with her when her last hour came. But rising above all these excuses for inactivity the noble old man, thinking only of the words, 'The good shepherd giveth his life for the flock,' cheerfully accepted the mission to the Court25 of Theodosius, there to plead for an indulgent view of the crime of the citizens of Antioch. He started apparently about the 6th of March, and already on the 10th of that month the citizens were comforted by the news that their Bishop, the messenger of reconciliation, was likely to catch up the other travellers, the messengers of wrath, who had started as if with wings to their heels, but had been so delayed — possibly by snow in the passes of Taurus — that they were still only in the middle of their journey,  p490 having been obliged to dismount from their horses and travel by the slower conveyance of chariots, drawn probably by mules.26

Miserable condition of the city. For more than twenty days the silence of an awful suspense brooded over the once light-hearted city of Antioch.27 Many of the citizens left their homes and took up their abodes in deserts and caves in the wild gorges of Mount Silpius. The Forum, once loud with the din of buyers and sellers or bright with the robes of revellers, was empty and desolate. If a citizen, to shake off the melancholy which weighed upon him at home, walked abroad in the Forum, so gloomy was the aspect of the place, where he saw only one or two of his fellow- p491 citizens creeping about, with cowed looks and crouching frames, that he soon returned to the less depressing solitude of his home. There he sat, a free man, but as it were in fetters, dreading the entry of an informer or of the lictors who would drag him off to prison. As no friends visited him, he would pass the time in conversation with his slaves, conversation which turned on such dreary topics as these, 'Who has been seized? Who has been carried off to prison? Who has been punished to‑day, and what was the manner of the punishment?'28

Sermons of St. Chrysostom. In the city thus abandoned to gloom there was but one place in which words of comfort and hope resounded. In the pulpit of the great church built by Constantine there stood, day after day, the slight figure of Chrysostom, a broad-browed man, with deep‑set eyes, pleading with the overflowing congregations which flocked to the church — it was now the season of Lent — to put off their vices, their luxury, and their worldliness, and to meet with brave hearts whatever the future might have in store for them. One sin against which, with a persistency which is almost amusing, he warns his hearers is that of oaths lightly and frivolously sworn. If a slave made some mistake in waiting at table, the mistress of the house would swear that she would have him flogged, and her husband would swear that the stripes should not be inflicted. Thus, one or other of the discordant pair must commit perjury. A tutor would swear that his pupil should taste no food till he had learned a certain lesson, and when the sun was descending on the still unfinished task, the tutor found himself shut up to one of two alternatives, perjury or murder. Almost every one of the nineteen homilies  p492 which the 'golden-mouthed' preacher delivered during these eventful weeks concludes with an earnest exhortation to abstain from profane swearing.

Visit of the Prefect to the church. Circa
20 March
One day, probably in the third week of Lent, the Praetorian Prefect of the East29 himself came in state to the church. He recognised that there was in the great preacher's discourses the best medicine for the nervous, panic-stricken, dispirited condition of the public mind; and in order to prevent the city from being depopulated through sheer terror he came to give the sanction of the civil magistrate's presence to the soothing and hopeful words of the ecclesiastic. 'I praise,' said Chrysostom,30 'the forethought of the Prefect, who, seeing the city in bewilderment, and all talking about flight, has come in and hither to comfort you and turn you to good hope again; but I do not praise you, that after all my sermons you should still need these assurances to deliver you from cowardice. You are a prey to panic terrors. Some one enters and tells you that the soldiers are going to break in upon you. Instead of falling into a paroxysm of fear, calmly tell the messenger of evil tidings to depart, and do you seek the Lord in prayer.' Towards the close of the same sermon, in dwelling on the contrast between the earthly and the heavenly riches, the preacher says, 'If you have money, many may rob you of the pleasure which it affords you; the thief digging through your house-wall, the slave embezzling what was entrusted to him, the Emperor confiscating, the informer delating.' It had come to  p493 this, therefore, that in the ordinary social life of the capital of Asia, the Emperor's terrible demands for money could be classed, by a loyal and orthodox preacher, with the crimes of the house-breaker and the defaulting slave as a chief source of anxiety to the wealthy householder.

So the days wore on. In the city, men were living in an agony of fear, so great that, as the preacher said, if but a leaf moved it set them trembling for days. In the mountains, the refugees were suffering all manner of hardships; not grown men only, but little children and tender and delicate women, spent their days and nights in caves and hollow ravines, and some fell a prey to the wild beasts of the desert.31

Arrival of the Emperor's Commissioners. Circa
29 March
At length, about twenty-five days after the tumult, the Emperor's commissioners arrived. Their names were Caesarius and Hellebichus. Caesarius probably already held the high position of Master of the Offices.32 Hellebichus (or Ellebichus), whose name surely indicates a barbarian, perhaps a Gothic, origin, had been for at least three years Master of the Horse and Foot quartered in the neighbourhood of Constantinople. He had previously held either that or a similar command at Antioch, and had endeared himself to the inhabitants by his humane and temperate demeanour. It was accepted as a good omen by all the trembling hearts in Antioch that he should have been chosen as a member of the dreaded tribunal.33 Of Caesarius less was known,  p494 but he appears to have been a man who was capable of a generous and self-sacrificing sympathy with misfortune.

Punishment to be inflicted on the city. The decree which these men brought with them was a stern one, and nothing can show the misery of despair which had fallen upon the inhabitants of the joyous city more vividly than the fact that even such a decree should have been almost welcomed as a relief from the intolerable agony of suspense. The Theatre and the Hippodrome, which had been temporarily closed since the fatal outbreak, were not to be reopened; the baths were to be also closed; the grain-largesses which Antioch had hitherto shared with Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople were to cease; and, bitterest drop in the cup to the vanity of the Antiochenes, their city was to lose her high place among the 'great cities' of the Empire, and to take rank henceforth as a dependent of Laodicea, her petty rival on the sea‑coast some sixty-five miles to the south. Even so might Paris, after the war of the Commune in 1871, have been made permanently subject to Versailles.

Further judicial proceedings to be taken. Still, as has been said, even these rigorous decrees were received with a sigh of relief by the citizens of Antioch. It was something that life was left to them, that their city was not to be levelled to the dust for its outrage on the Emperor. But would even life, much less property, be left to them? That was the question which began to torment the wealthier citizens, the Senators of Antioch, when Caesarius and Hellebichus took their seats in the Hall of Judgment and opened their Commission, for the trial, not now of the street-boys and vagabonds of the Forum who had actually  p495 thrown the stones and dragged the dismembered statues about the streets, but of those important and respectable persons who were theoretically the rulers of the city, and who, either from cowardice or disaffection, had let the tumult rage and roar past them without lifting a hand to save the Majesty of the Emperor from outrage. These were the men whom Theodosius had determined at least to terrify, possibly to destroy, as an atonement to the insulted memory of his wife and father.

Proceedings at the trial. The Commissioners seem to have arrived at Antioch on Monday the 29th of March. On the 30th they held a preliminary enquiry at the lodgings of Hellebichus, an enquiry which, like all their subsequent proceedings, dealt chiefly with the Senate and with those who held or had held municipal offices in the city. On Wednesday the 31st they took their seats in due form in the Praetorium, surrounded by their lictors, with a strong guard of soldiers outside, and opened 'the dread tribunal which shook all the hearts of the citizens with terror, and made the day seem black as night through the sadness and fear which dimmed the eyes of all men.'34 In accordance with an old custom at Antioch, criminal trials had to take place at night in order to strike more awe into the hearts of the accused. The Commissioners so far complied with this custom as to begin their proceedings before dawn, but soon the sun rose upon their gloomy work, revealing the cowering multitude without, the stern executioners at their cruel work within. The main object of the Commissioners was to extort confessions of complicity with the insurgents (whether in order to magnify the future clemency of the Emperor or to furnish a pretext for fines and confiscations  p496 it is not now easy to determine); and in order to obtain these confessions, torture was freely applied to the leading citizens of Antioch. Chrysostom, who spent that memorable day in the precincts of the Praetorium, draws a vivid picture of the scene. The miserable remnant of the joyous multitude of the city was gathered round the doors in silence, with not even the ordinary platitudes of conversation passing between the by‑standers, for each man feared an informer in his neighbour. Only each looked up to Heaven and silently prayed God to soften the hearts of the judges.

Still more gloomy was the sight in the Audience Chamber of the Praetorium; stern soldiers, armed with swords and clubs, tramping up and down amid a crowd of women, the wives, mothers, and daughters of the accused, who were waiting in agonised suspense to learn the fate of their relatives. There were two especially, the mother and sister of a Senator of high rank, who lay on the very threshold of the innermost hall, spreading out their hands in vain entreaty towards the unseen powers within. There they lay, these women, used to the delicate ministrations of waiting-maids and eunuchs, and accustomed to the semi-Oriental seclusion of a Syrian thalamus. No servant, or friend, or neighbour was there to soothe the anguish of their souls, as they lay grovelling upon the ground, unveiled, before the eyes, and almost under the feet, of a brutal soldiery.

And from within, from the dread hall itself, into which not even the preacher might enter, came terrible sounds, the harsh voices of the stolid executioners, the swish of stripes, the wailings of the tortured, the  p497 tremendous threats of the judges. But the agony outside, thought the orator, was even more terrible than the agony within. For as it was well known that the indictments would be framed on the information thus extracted by torture, when the ladies in the hall of waiting heard the moans of some relative who was being scourged to make him declare his accomplices, they looked up to Heaven and prayed God to give him fortitude that he might not in his anguish utter words which would bring another beloved one into trouble. 'Thus were there torments within, torments without; the torturers within were the executioners; without, the feelings of nature and the wringing of the heart with pity and fear.'

All the long day through the judges proceeded with their dreadful work, apparently unmoved by the prayers and tears of those by whom they were surrounded. Yet this apathy was in truth but a mask to conceal their real feelings. Towards sunset the orator Libanius ventured to approach the suppliant-crowded door. Fearing to intrude, he was about to move away again, when Caesarius, with whom he had some previous acquaintance, pushed through the throng to meet him, and, taking him in a friendly manner by the wrist, assured him that none of those who were then imprisoned should suffer death. All other possible punishments seemed light after this assurance, and Libanius wept for joy on receiving it. He descended into the streets and imparted the comforting tidings of that crowd.

Harsh treatment of the Senators. But if the extreme penalty of the law was not to be inflicted there was every sign of a determination to treat with sternness the crimes, voluntary or involuntary,  p498 of the Senators of Antioch. They were all loaded with chains and led through the Forum to the gaol; men (as Chrysostom reflected, on beholding the dismal procession) who had been accustomed to drive their own chariots, who were the givers of games and the furnishers of countless brilliant 'liturgies' to the people. But these men's properties were for the time confiscated, and you might see the government sign affixed to all their doors. Their wives, turned out of their ancestral homes, wandered from house to house, begging a night's lodging in vain, for all men feared to receive a relation of the accused or to minister to any of their needs. Such was the abject terror with which the inhabitants of a great Imperial city regarded the wrath of the Emperor.

Irruption of hermits into the city. While the citizens were thus displaying the meanness and selfishness of fear, a strange swarm of visitors appeared in their streets, as if to show by contrast what courage and what generous sympathy for the woes of others can be found in the hearts of men who had voluntarily renounced all that makes life delightful. These were the hermits who lived in the caves and fastnesses of the rocks in the mountain range which overhung the city. No one had invited them, but when they heard, probably from the refugees, of the cloud of doom which was hanging over Antioch, they left their tents and their caves and flocked into the city from all quarters. At another time their vile raiment and uncouth demeanour would probably have moved the laughter of the citizens, but now they were welcomed as guardian angels floating down from heaven. Fearless of the great ones of the earth, they went straight to the Commissioners and pleaded confidently for the  p499 accused. They were all ready they said to shed their blood that they might deliver the prisoners from the woes that impended over them.35

One of the wildest and most awe‑inspiring of these strange figures was 'the holy Macedonius, a man totally ignorant of all learning, sacred or profane, who passed his nights and his days on the top of a mountain, engaged in all but unintermitting prayer to the Saviour of mankind.' Meeting Hellebichus riding in martial pomp through the city, accompanied by Caesarius, he laid his hand upon the officer's military cloak, and desired him and his companions to dismount. At first they resented this language, coming from a stunted old man of mean appearance and clad in rags. But when the by‑standers informed them of the virtue and holiness of the strange figure that stood before them, the Master of the Soldiery and the Master of the Offices dismounted from their horses, and clasping his sun‑browned knees implored his pardon. Filled as with a prophet's inspiration the squalid mountaineer thus addressed them, 'Go, my friends, to the Emperor, and say to him, "You are not only an Emperor but a man, and you have to think of human nature as well as of the Imperial dignity. Man was made in the image of God: do not then order that image to be destroyed and so offend the great Artificer. You are making all this stir about bronze statues which it is easy to replace, but if you kill men for the sake of these statues not one hair of their heads can be remade." '36

 p500  Such were the pleadings of Macedonius. Others of the hermits entreated that they might be sent as ambassadors to the Emperor. 'The man,' said they, 'who bears rule over the world, is a religious man, faithful and pious, and we shall surely reconcile him to his people. We will not permit you to stain the sword nor to take a single life. If you slay any of these men we are resolved that we will die with them. Great crimes have been committed, but not greater than the mercy of the Emperor can pardon.'

The Commissioners reassure the people. The offer of the hermits to act as intercessors was gently but firmly declined by the Commissioners. Moved, however, by their rugged earnestness, and by the pitiful lamentations of the female relatives of the prisoners, the Commissioners repeated in a more public and emphatic manner the assurance already given to Libanius, that no capital sentence should be inflicted at any rate till the pleasure of the Emperor had been taken on the matter. On Thursday, the 1st of April, Caesarius departed, amid the prayers and blessings of the weeping inhabitants, to obtain, if it might be, some mitigation of the decree pronounced against the city, and to consult as to the nature of the punishment to be inflicted on the accused Senators.

Journey of Caesarius. The road from Antioch to Constantinople was 790 Roman miles long; it crossed two steep mountain ranges and traversed arduous highlands. First of all Mount Amanus had to be over-passed and the deep Gulf of Scanderoon to be rounded; several Cilician rivers must be crossed and Cilician Tarsus visited. A long and steep pull carried the traveller over the rugged range of Taurus, and he then journeyed for many a stage down the widening valley of the Halys,  p501 passing on his way the little town of Nazianzus, where St. Gregory was born, and the road-side station of Sasima, the scene of his undesired episcopate. A long journey across the Galatian highlands led him from the valley of the Halys, past the city of Ancyra (now Angora),a into the valley of the Sangarius, from whence he crossed over to Nicaea of the famous Council, to Diocletian's Nicomedia, and so coasted along between the Bithynian Mountains and the Sea of Marmora till he entered the gates of Chalcedon, and saw the towers of Constantinople rising proudly in the west, the welcome goal of his journeyings. It was a distance of nearly 800 miles, as has been said, to traverse which, through regions wasted by Ottoman domination, would now occupy 230 hours or nearly ten days of absolutely continuous travel; but such was the zeal of Caesarius, inflamed by pity and the remembrance of the sad hearts which he had left behind him at Antioch, and such the goodness of the Roman roads fifteen centuries ago, that he accomplished the journey in six days, travelling therefore at the rate of 130 miles a day.

Arrival of Caesarius at Constantinople, 7 April. When Caesarius arrived in Constantinople to hand in his report and to plead for mercy to Antioch, Interviews of Flavian with the Emperor. he found that the ground had been well prepared for him by Bishop Flavian. There can be little doubt that the aged prelate (who must by this time have been at least a fortnight in Constantinople), had several interviews with the Emperor, though St. Chrysostom, for dramatic effect, describes them as one.37 When Flavian entered the Palace he stood afar off from the Imperial presence, silent, weeping, crouching low and shrinking from observation,  p502 as if it were he himself that had committed the fatal outrages. By this well-calculated humility he turned the Emperor's wrath into pity. Theodosius drew near and addressed him rather in sorrow than in anger, enumerating all the benefits which from the beginning of his reign he had bestowed on ungrateful Antioch. He had ever longed to visit her, yea, had sworn to do so; but even if he himself had deserved ever so ill of the citizens, surely they might have confined their anger to the living. Why wreak their vengeance on the innocent dead, on the brave old general and the gentle Empress who had passed away from earth?

At this the Bishop groaned and shed more tears, and with a heavy sigh (for he saw that the Emperor's gentle expostulation was making Antioch's case seem all the worse) he began, confessing the Imperial benefits, lamenting the vile ingratitude of the inhabitants, and admitting that if the city were swept from the face of the earth, it would not be punished more severely than it deserved. Then he proceeded to open a line of defence, which both the heathen and the Christian apologists for Antioch united in maintaining. The outrages said to be the work of demons. The insurrection — said both Libanius and Chrysostom — was not the work of the Antiochenes themselves in their sober senses, but was due to demons, jealous of the prosperity of the city, who had assumed the guise of men, and mingling with the crowd on that fatal morning had goaded them to madness. Libanius in his oration (of which a copy had perhaps been transmitted to the Emperor by Caesarius), gravely tells the story of a certain old man, displaying more than an old man's strength, who rode up and down among the rioters,  p503 urging them on to the work of demolition, and who, when the cry was raised 'Well done, old man!'38 changed himself, under the eyes of many beholders, into a youth, then into a boy, and then vanished into thin air. This singular story may not have been relayed by the weeping Bishop to the Emperor, but he certainly did allude to the demons' jealousy of the glory of Antioch and of her sovereign's love for her, and besought him to foil that envious scheme, and by the exercise of his Imperial clemency to re‑erect for himself a statue more glorious than any that had been overthrown, a statue not of gold, nor brass, not precious mosaic-work, but his own likeness in the hearts of his subjects.

'It is said,' continued Flavian, 'that the blessed Constantine, when his effigy had been stoned by the mob, and when his friends, urging him to avenge the insult, told him that all the face of the statue was marred by the impact of the stones, calmly stroked his own face with his hand, and said with a laugh, "I can find no wound in my forehead. My head and my face appear to be quite uninjured." A noble saying this, one not forgotten by after generations, and tending more to the renown of Constantine than even the cities which he founded, and the victories which he gained over the barbarians.'

'Think that you have now not merely the fate of one city in your hands, but that the whole credit of Christianity is at stake. All nations are watching you, Jews and Gentiles alike, and if you show humanity in this case, they will all cry "Papae! what a wonderful thing is the power of this Christianity; that a man who has no equal upon earth, absolute lord of all men, to  p504 save or to destroy, should have so restrained himself and exhibited a degree of philosophy which would have been rare even in a private person."

'Think, too, what a thing it will be for posterity to hear, that when so great a city was lying prostrate under fear of the coming vengeance; when generals, prefects and judges were all struck dumb with horror, one old man, wearing the robes of a priest of God, by his mere appearance and conversation, moved the Emperor to an indulgence which none of his other subjects could obtain from him.'39

When Flavian had finished his earnest supplication, Theodosius, we are told, like Joseph, sought a place where to weep apart. It was to a mind softened by interviews such as this, that Caesarius, the Master of the Offices, brought the tidings of the abject self-humiliation of the city, of his own harsh measures towards the Senators, and the recommendation to mercy jointly put forward by himself and his colleague. Theodosius, who had probably been only waiting for this advice to be given by his Commissioners, seems to have gladly accepted it, Antioch pardoned. and at once 'pronounced the sweet word "pardon," which became him better than any diadem.'40 The previous decree was to be rescinded, Antioch was to be resume all her forfeited privileges, the imprisoned Senators were to be set free and their confiscated property restored to them.

 p505  The grateful Flavian offered to remain at Constantinople a few days longer, in order to share the Easter-feast of gladness with the reconciled Emperor. But Theodosius, whose whole mind seemed now set on pardon, begged him to return at once and show himself to his flock. 'I know,' said he, 'their downcast souls. Do you go and comfort them. When they see their pilot once more in his wonted place at the helm, the bitter memory of the storm will pass away.' The Bishop importuned him to let the young Arcadius return with him as a visible pledge that the Imperial anger was abated. 'Not now,' said Theodosius. 'Pray ye that these obstacles may be removed, that these impending wars [alluding, no doubt, to the inevitable war with Maximus] may be extinguished, and I will come myself without delay.' Even after the Bishop had departed, the Emperor sent messengers beseeching him to lose no time on the road, lest he should diminish the pleasure of the citizens by celebrating Easter anywhere else than within their walls. Generously foregoing, as also did Caesarius, the delight of being the first to communicate the glad-tidings, Flavian detached a horseman from his train, and bade him ride on fast and take the joyful letters of pardon to the city.

State of Antioch during the last three weeks of suspense. 1‑22 (?) April The three weeks which had elapsed since the departure of Caesarius had, naturally, been a time of suspense and discouragement for the citizens of Antioch. The absolute closing of all places of amusement weighed on the spirits of the people, the closed doors of the great baths subjected them to bodily privations which seemed almost intolerable. The city‑mob streamed down to the banks of the arrowy Orontes, and  p506 there, with a disregard for decency, for which St. Chrysostom severely rebuked them,41 bathed amid ribald songs and demoralising laughter, and with no proper provision for the separation of the sexes.

The Senators in prison. Meanwhile the Fathers of the city were still languishing in prison, the discomforts of which had been often, in previous years, pointed out to them by Libanius. He had in vain told them that the prisoners had hardly room to stretch themselves for slumber, that they had but the scantiest provision of food except what their friends supplied to them, and only a single lamp, for which they had to pay a high price to the gaoler.42 Into this miserable dungeon the untried as well as the convicted prisoners were crowded together, and thousands of both classes had died in recent years of the diseases thus engendered. The Senators, who had turned a deaf ear to all Libanius' pleas for Prison Reform, had now an opportunity of learning by bitter experience how greatly it was needed. The courtyard in which they were imprisoned had no roof to cover it from the scorching rays of the noonday sun, nor to protect it from the April showers and the dews of night. Here, crowded so closely together that they trod one on another, with sleep made almost impossible, with food only to be snatched at irregular intervals, as the friends of each might succeed in shouldering their way through the crowd to bring it to them, languished the Senators of Antioch. So miserable was their durance, that it seemed doubtful whether they would be alive to hear the news of pardon when it came. But the gentle-hearted Hellebichus, though powerless to  p507 change the decree for their imprisonment, connived at its alleviation. He caused the wall which divided the Senate House from the Prison to be pierced through, and thus the unhappy captives found room and shelter in the halls which had often resounded with their deliberations.

Arrival of the news of pardon. Circa 22 April But all these hardships, and all the long suspense of the city on the Orontes were ended, when on one of the days of Holy Week the horseman sent forward by Flavian rode through the Northern Gate shouting that one word 'Pardon.' When the Imperial letter to Hellebichus was read, and when the citizens learned how full was the measure of the Imperial forgiveness, that the baths, the theatres, and the hippodrome were to be re‑opened, the corn-largesses restored, Antioch again to take her own high place as a first city of the East, they crowned the pillars of the forum with garlands, they lighted lamps in all the streets, spread couches before the workshops, and laid out the banqueting tables in front of them. Thus the city wore all the appearance of one of the joyous old lectisternia of republican Rome, except that, doubtless, the recumbent statues of the gods Jupiter, Juno, and Ceres were absent from the streets of Christian Antioch — more Christian now than ever, since the mitigation of a great calamity had been obtained by the prayers of a Christian Bishop addressed to a Christian Emperor. In the great Basilica which had been the refuge of the citizens in their dire distress, there was now celebrated such a glad Easter feast as Antioch had never seen before. Flavian was there, unharmed by his sixteen hundred miles of journeying, and having had the joy of finding his sister still alive, and able to exchange a last  p508 farewell. Chrysostom, of course, ascended the pulpit, and told all the story of the interview between the Bishop and the Emperor. The agony of the city was over, and the great series of 'the Homilies on the Statues' was ended.43

It remains only to be said that the visit of Theodosius to the forgiven city was apparently never paid. The war with Maximus, the necessity of setting in order the affairs of Italy, the second civil war which will shortly have to be described, prevented the fulfilment of the design, if it had ever been seriously entertained by Theodosius. 395 Only eight years after the affair of the statues, Antioch was to see from her walls the hosts of the savage Huns spreading ruin and desolation over the pleasant plains of Syria.44

Character of Theodosius as illustrated by these events. Such was the history of the crime and the forgiveness of Antioch. It is usually told as an instance of the generous magnanimity of Theodosius. It may be admitted that no blood appears to have been shed by his orders, and that the first outbreak of fierce resentment, which was almost justified by the insults heaped on his dead wife and his dead father, was amply repented of when he had leisure calmly to reflect on the excess of the punishment over the crime, and to listen to the wise pleadings of Flavian and Caesarius.

Let Theodosius, therefore, in the judgment of posterity, have the full credit which he deserves for his  p509 arrested wrath, for his unexecuted purposes of vengeance, although the historian cannot but perceive the difficulty of rightly estimating character, if uncommitted crimes are to be allowed to build up a saintly reputation. Hard lot of the Senators of Antioch. But the feeling which will probably be uppermost in the minds of those who study the history of the sedition of Antioch will be compassion for the hard fate of the Senators of that city. Burdened with responsibility, bereft of power, ground between the upper and nether mill-stones of the Emperor and the mob, these unhappy remnants of a once powerful middle class suffered the fate which will probably always be their portion under a system of Imperial Socialism. There was still in them something left to grind, but when they had been ground out of existence the Empire ceased to be.

Awful majesty of the Emperor. One other phenomenon of Imperial Rome, the story of the broken statues brings vividly before us, the unapproachable, the almost superhuman majesty of the man who happened to be robed in the purple of Empire. As St. Chrysostom said,45 'He whom the city of Antioch hath insulted hath not his fellow upon the earth, for he is Emperor, the head and crown of all things in the world. Therefore let us fly to the Heavenly King, and call on Him for aid: for if we cannot taste the compassion of the Lord on high, there is nothing in all the world that can help us when we think of that which we have done.'


The Author's Notes:

1 The four years of Arcadius' reign ended on the 16th January, and the eight of his father's on the 19th January, 387. It was a year too soon for the Decennalia of Theodosius, but the union of the two festivals seems to have been represented as an act of consideration for the tax‑payer.

2 I do not think that we are informed either of the name or of the amount of the contributions thus ordered; but it seems probable that they would be of the nature of aurum coronarium: and the above quotation from Chrysostom seems to confirm this suggestion.

3 Chrysostom, Ad Populum Antiochenum, Homil. 3.

4 At Alexandria the people in the Theatre broke out into invectives against Theodosius, and publicly expressed their wish that the overturner of the Western throne (Maximus) would come thither also (Libanius, Orat. XII Ad Theodosium).

5 Beard-hater.

6 Τοῖς καλουμένοις Φαμώσσοις (famosis), Joannes Antiochenus, fr. 181, ap. Müller, vol. IV.

7 Iliad III.428. The story is told by Suidas s.v. Ἰοβιανός. I owe these two quotations to Hug.

8 See Libanius (ed. Reiske), II.575 and 528. Julian Misopogon, p106. I owe these references to Sievers, p7 n. 36.

9 Libanius, Ad Celsum, Ep. 608 (ed. Wolf), and Ammianus Marcellinus, XXVII.7.7 (both quoted by Kuhn, Verf. des Röm. Reichs, I.248).

10 Especially Libanius.

11 Libanius, II.93‑95 (Sievers, 164). The governor was Icarius, Comes Orientis, 384.

12 Sievers, 155, 165.

13 Homily 19 (τῇ κυριακῇ τῆς Ἐπισωζομένης).

14 Libanius, περὶ τῶν ἀγγαρειῶν (quoted by Sievers, p167).

15 The date of the outbreak of the sedition was fixed by Tillemont at 26 February, and Clinton in the main agrees with him. But Hug, finding that the passage in the Second Homily of St. Chrysostom, which would fix its deliverance on the eighth day after the sedition, is marked by the latest editor as spurious, makes the date of the sedition a week later, 4th of March instead of 26th of February. The dates of the subsequent events (most of which are only approximate) are those assigned by Hug.

16 Libanius.

17 Ὁ δὲ ἄρχων τῶν ἐθνῶν ὡς ἤκουσε τοξότας ἥκοντας, ἐπὶ τοὺς τὸ πῦρ προσάγοντας ἧκέ τε αὐτὸς καὶ τὰ ἀπὸ τῶν λόχων εἰσήνεγκε. Liban. Or. XII. Sievers (p175) suggests that the officer here named was Comes Orientis. To me the commander of some corps of barbarian foederati would have seemed more probable.

18 Homily 3, p45 (ed. Montfaucon). Libanius also mentions 'fire, the sword, and the mouths of wild beasts' as the instruments of death (Oratio XII, ad Theodosium, p397, ed. Morel).

19 Barathrum.

20 Suetonius, Tiberius 58, and Seneca, de Beneficiis III.26, are the two chief authorities for this extraordinary development of 'laesa majestas.'

21 XLVIII.4. Ad legem Juliam Majestatis.

22 St. Chrysostom, Homily 2 (p25).

23 In fact, something like the attitude of the tax‑provoked Israelites at Shechem: 'What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David' (1 Kings xii.16).

24 Libanius mentions this (Oratio XII p395), and his testimony on this point is more valuable than St. Chrysostom's.

25 In speaking of this mission, St. Chrysostom always speaks of it as εἰς τὸ στρατόπεδον, 'to the camp,' one amid many illustrations that the dominant conception of the Imperator's office was the military one.

26 Possibly, however, this was a false rumour (as Hug suggests), for the Bishop seems to have met the Imperial Commissioner on their journey to Antioch (St. Chrys. Homily 21, p216), and this, of course, must have been preceded by the arrival of the first messengers at Constantinople. But if they got over their difficulties and pushed on rapidly on horseback after the Bishop had overthrown them, both accounts will be consistent.

27 'Now, to their thinking, were their former fears of the ruin of Mansoul confirmed. Now what death they should die, and how long they should be in dying, was that which most perplexed their heads and hearts. Yea, they were afraid that Emmanuel would command them all into the deep . . . for they knew that they had deserved it.'

'Presently, they that had heard what was said flew about the town, one crying one thing and another the quite contrary. One would say, "We must all be killed"; another would say, "We must all be saved," and a third would say that the Prince would not be concerned with Mansoul, and a fourth that the prisoners must suddenly be put to death. Nay, some of them had got this story by the end, that the Prince did intend to put Mansoul to the sword. And now it began to be dark, wherefore poor Mansoul was in sad perplexity all that night until the morning.' These sentences from Bunyan's Holy War (chap. VIII), and many more which might be quoted, read like a transcript of the Homilies of Chrysostom, though we might probably affirm with safety that Bunyan had never heard of the Insurrection of Antioch.

28 St. Chrysostom, Hom. 2, p22.

29 Ὁ ἄρχων: possibly the Comes Orientis, but more likely the Praefectus Praetorio.

30 Homily 16, p160.

31 St. Chrysostom, Homily 21, pp221, 222.

32 Which he certainly possessed in 389.

33 A letter of Gregory Nazianzen to Hellebichus is preserved. The saint regrets that his weak health prevents him from visiting the soldier 'and renewing our ancient friendship and intercourse.' He asks him to give a discharge from the army to the young Mamas whose father was a soldier, but who is himself consecrated to the service of God as a 'lector' (Ep. 225).

34 Chrysostom, Homily 13, p133.

35 St. Chrysostom, Homily 17, p172.

36 The speech of Macedonius is given by St. Chrysostom (Homily 17), but we get his name and the description of his character from Theodoret (Ecclesiastical Hist. V.20).

37 In the 21st Homily. This point is well brought out by Hug (p23).

38 Oration XII p396, ed. Morel.

39 I do not transcribe, because I do not believe in Flavian's alleged threat that if Theodosius would not pardon Antioch, he would never return thither. This strange menace seems to me more in keeping with the somewhat feminine character of Chrysostom than with the rugged simplicity of Flavian.

40 It is needless to quote the well-known parallel passage from Shakespeare.

41 Homily 18, p187.

42 See Sievers, Libanius, p171.

43 Except one (the 19th), which was delivered on the Sunday before Ascension Day.

44

'Syriae tractus vastantur amoeni

Assuetumque choris, et laetâ plebe canorum

Proterit imbellem sonipes hostilis Orontem.'

Claudian, In Rufinum II.33‑35.

45 Homily 2, p23.


Thayer's Note:

a A century later, familiar to us as respelled: Ankara.


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