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Book V
Chapter 22

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Italy and Her Invaders

by
Thomas Hodgkin


2nd edition
Oxford University Press
London
1896

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,
please let me know!

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Book V
Chapter 24

Book V (continued)

Vol. IV
p571
Chapter XXIII

The Sorrows of Vigilius

Authorities

Sources: —

The letters and manifestoes of Vigilius and Justinian in reference to the controversy of the Three Chapters, as published in the 69th volume of Migne's Patrologia, and the Breviarium of Liberatus already described. Some valuable information as to the controversy is also to be obtained from the works of Facundus, Bishop of Hermiana in the African province of Byzacena (published in the 67th volume of Migne's Patrologia). Facundus was throughout the whole dispute a persistent opponent of the condemnation of the Three Chapters, and apparently the most learned of the writers on that side of the question. His treatise 'Pro Defensione Trium Capitulorum,' in twelve books, though too diffuse, is a very creditable performance, written in better Latin than many of his contemporaries used, and, upon the whole, well argued. The tone of manly but respectful remonstrance in which he addresses Justinian presents a refreshing contrast to the servility of most of the Byzantine ecclesiastics. After his return to Africa Facundus joined his brother bishops in excommunicating Pope Vigilius and all who had condemned the Three Chapters. The bishops who took part in this excommunication were severely handled by the Emperor; and Facundus apparently had to spend the remainder of his life in exile and concealment. In these dis­advantageous circumstances and in broken health he composed, at the request of his brother, a short treatise entitled 'Liber contra Mocianum,' to justify their conduct in excommunicating their antagonists. The book is more bitter  p572 in tone than his larger work, and is remarkable for the great freedom of its utterances concerning Pope Vigilius, whom, however, he as much as possible avoids mentioning by name.

All the foregoing are strictly contemporary authorities. The so‑called Anastasius Bibliothecarius in the Liber Pontificalis presents the usual puzzling admixture of graphic, apparently contemporary, details and obvious deviations from the truth of history.

Guides: —

I have chiefly followed the guidance of Hefele's Concilien­geschichte (vol. II.798‑911), and have freely availed myself of his valuable labours. Milman's History of Latin Christianity, Baronius, and Bower have also been consulted. The following articles in Smith's Dictionaries of Christian Biography and Antiquities are very helpful — Justinian, Ibas, Chalcedon.

537‑555 Difficulty of correctly estimating the Pontificate of Vigilius. Before we sit as spectators to watch the last act of the drama of Imperial Restoration in Italy, we must study for a short time one of the most perplexed and entangled passages in Papal History, that which relates to the Pontificate of Vigilius. The story is made difficult partly by the fact that it is a battle-ground for the champions and the opponents of the doctrine of Papal Infallibility, a doctrine which a secular historian may claim the privilege of passing by in silence, refusing to be drawn by the course of his narrative into the attitude either of a denier or of a maintainer of its truth. But the character of Pope Vigilius himself, and the bitter theological controversies in which he was involved, and in which it was his fate to please neither of the two contending parties, cause the contemporary notices of his life to be obscure and contradictory beyond the ordinary quality even of ecclesiastical history.

Early career of Vigilius. Let us briefly recapitulate what has been already  p573 said concerning the early career of this Pontiff. That he belonged to one of the great official families of Rome is proved by the fact that the Senator Reparatus was his brother.1 Throughout his life we may perceive some indications that his natural sympathies were with the aristocracy and the Court, and that some of his difficulties arose from a vain attempt to reconcile these aristocratic instincts with the bold part which a Pope in the Sixth Century was expected to play on behalf of the people and the popular enthusiasm of the lesser clergy. His unsuccessful attempt to obtain the first place in the Roman Church by the mere nomination of Pope Boniface II (an attempt which perhaps indicates the disposition of the Roman nobles to make the Papacy the exclusive possession of their own order) left Vigilius in the humiliating position of a defeated intriguer. Thenceforward he probably knew that he had no chance of obtaining the Pontificate by a fair vote of the clergy and people of Rome. The influence which, as an ecclesiastic, member of a great Roman family, he still possessed, and which was sufficient to obtain for him the important position of Nuncio (Apocrisiarius) at the Court of Constantinople, must therefore be used in a different and less open manner. In his official intercourse with the great personages of that Court he had abundant opportunity for observing how the heart of Theodora was set on the restoration of the Monophysites to high places in the Church, and how seldom that upon which Theodora had set her heart failed to be granted in the end by her Imperial consort.

His intrigues for the Papacy. Hence came those secret negotiations with the  p574 Empress which have been already referred to,2 and which led to the downfall of the unhappy Silverius. We view with some distrust the circumstantial statements of historians as to conversations and correspondence which must necessarily have been known to extremely few persons; but, according to these statements, the terms of the bargain were that Theodora should address a letter to Belisarius directing him to make Vigilius Pope, and should also present to the new Pontiff 700 lbs. weight of gold [£28,000]. Vigilius on his part undertook to overthrow the authority of the Council of Chalcedon, and to write to Theodosius, Anthimus, and Severus,a the Monophysite Patriarchs of Alexandria, Constantinople, and Antioch,3 acknowledging them as brethren in the faith.4

Made Pope on the deposition of Silverius. Armed with this letter from the all‑powerful Theodora, Vigilius sailed for Rome and sought an interview with Belisarius.5 Handing him the Empress's mandate he promised the General 200 lbs. weight of gold [£8,000] as the price of his assistance in procuring the  p575 coveted dignity. The result of this interview was, if we are to believe the biographers, the accusation against Silverius, the summons to the Pontiff to appear in the Pincian Palace, Antonina's insolent demeanour, the pallium stripped from off the Pope's shoulder, and the coarse monastic garb hung round them in its stead.

Exercise of the Imperial prerogative in the deposition of Silverius. This deposition of a Pope by the authority of the Emperor was a high-handed, probably an unpopular act; but there is no reason to doubt that it was acquiesced in by the clergy and people of Rome, and that Vigilius was regarded as his lawful successor. The accusation against Silverius was a political one. Not heterodoxy in doctrine, but a treacherous scheme for opening the gates of the City to the Goths, was the charge on account of which he met with such rough handling in the Pincian Palace;6 and of such an offence the Emperor or his deputy seems to have been considered a competent judge. The deposition of Silverius comes therefore under the same category with the deposition of the Byzantine Patriarchs, Euphemius and Macedonius; and is chiefly noteworthy as showing how dangerous to the independence of the Papacy was that Imperial authority which the Popes had with so light a heart brought back into the circle of Italian politics.7

 p576  Vigilius hesitates about paying the covenanted price for the Papacy. When the new Pope was firmly seated in his throne, the two authors of his elevation naturally called upon him to fulfil his share of the compact with each of them. Avarice made him unwilling to perform one of his promises; the loyalty to Chalcedon, which seemed to nestle in the folds of the Papal pallium, indisposed him to perform the other. As we have seen, he pleaded to Belisarius that unless Silverius were surrendered to him he could not pay the promised purchase-money. Whether, upon the surrender and death of his predecessor, the two hundredweight of gold were transferred from the vaults of St. Peter's to the head-quarters of Belisarius, history does not inform us; but the Pope does seem to have attempted, in a half-hearted clandestine way, to fulfil his contract with Theodora. His letter to the Monophysite Patriarchs. As for overthrowing the Council of Chalcedon,8 that was absurdly impossible; but he did write a letter9 addressed 'To my Lords and dear  p577 Brethren in the love of Christ our Saviour, the Bishops Theodosius, Anthimus, and Severus.' In this letter he said, 'I know that your Holinesses have already heard the report of my faith; nevertheless, to meet the wishes of my glorious daughter, the Patrician Antonina, I write these presents to assure you that the same faith which you hold I hold likewise, and have ever held. I know that your Brotherhood will gladly receive these tidings which I write. At the same time it is necessary that this letter should not be read by any one, but rather that your Wisdom should still profess to regard me as chief among your opponents, that I may the more easily carry through to the end the things which I now undertake. Pray God for me, my dear Brethren in Christ.'10 To this letter was appended a confession of faith which, if not actually Monophysite, went, in the opinion of his contemporaries, perilously near to the edge of that heresy.11

Vigilius refuses publicly to recognise the deposed Monophysite Patriarch of Constantinople. For a time this secret recognition of her partisans may have satisfied Theodora, but as the years went on  p578 and still Anthimus remained in exile and apparently under the ban of St. Peter, she pressed for a public fulfilment of the bargain by virtue of which Vigilius had become Pope. But Vigilius was now firm in his seat and could assume the attitude of unbending orthodoxy. The letter which he now sent was of this purport.12 'Be it far from me, Lady Augusta, that I should do this thing. Aforetime I spoke wrongly and foolishly: but now will I in no wise consent to recall a man that is an heretic and under anathema. And if it be said that I am an unworthy Vicar of the blessed Apostle Peter, yet what can be said against my holy predecessors Agapetus and Silverius, who condemned Anthimus?'

Vigilius accused of homicide. The anger of Theodora against her rebellious accomplice was quickened, and apparently justified, by the accusations which reached Constantinople, preferred by the Roman commonalty against their haughty and passionate Pope. It was not only the old charge of procuring the deposition and conniving at the death of Silverius that was now brought up against him. Other strange charges were made, which at least seem to indicate the violent temper of the aristocratic Pontiff. 'We submit to your Piety,' said the Roman messengers, 'that Vigilius is a homicide. He was seized with such fury that he gave a blow on the face to his notary, who shortly after fell at his feet and expired.13Also upon some offence committed by a  p579 widow's son he caused him to be arrested at night by his nephew Vigilius, son of the Consul Asterius, and beaten with rods till he died.'14

545 Anthemius sent to Rome to arrest Vigilius. 'On the receipt of these tidings,' says the Papal biographer, 'the Augusta [Theodora] sent Anthemius the Scribe to Rome with her orders and with a special commission,15 saying, "Only if he is in the Basilica of St. Peter refrain from arresting him. For if you shall find Vigilius in the Lateran or in the Palace [adjoining it], or in any church, at once put him on ship-board and bring him hither to us. If you do not do this, by Him who liveth for ever I will have you flayed alive."16 Then Anthemius the Scribe, coming to Rome, found him in the church of St. Cecilia on the 10th of the Kalends of December [22 November, 545] . . . . ; It was then his birthday, and he was distributing presents to the people: but Anthemius, arresting him, took him down to the Tiber and placed him on board ship. The common people followed him, begging in a loud voice that they might receive his prayers. When he had uttered his prayers all the people answered Amen, and the ship moved off. But when the Romans saw that the ship which bore Vigilius was really on her way, then they began to throw sticks, stones, and potsherds, and to shout, "Hunger go with thee: mortality be with thee. Thou hast wrought evil for the Romans: mayest thou find evil wherever thou goest." Nevertheless, some men who loved him followed him forth from the church.'

 p580  Doubtful character of this story. In this picture of a haughty and unpopular Pope, crouched to by the mob so long as he is still on shore, and the receiver of their missiles and their taunts as soon as his ship is under way, there is something which looks like the handiwork of a contemporary. Yet it is not very easy to fit in the details here given with what we know of the life of Vigilius. He was certainly not taken straight to Constantinople and at once exposed to the wrath of Theodora. Residence in Sicily. On the contrary, he seems to have spent the following year in Sicily,17 not in close custody, but an honoured and important guest. From thence, as we have already seen, in the early part of 546 he despatched a number of cornº-ships to Rome, a charitable return for the muttered execrations of the crowd (which perhaps had not reached the ears of his Holiness) — 'May hunger go with thee and death overtake thee.'

547 He sails for Constantinople. The mysterious residence of a year in Sicily was ended by an invitation, not from Theodora, but from Justinian, in obedience to which Vigilius sailed for Constantinople, arriving at that city on the 25th January, 547. The petition previously urged by Theodora for the recognition of Anthimus seems now to have been tacitly dropped. The whole efforts, both of the Imperial pair and of all who were like-minded with them in the East, were now devoted to procuring the Pope's assent to the condemnation of 'the Three Chapters.'

Controversy of the Three Chapters. The theological controversy which is labelled by this strangely-chosen name is one of the paltriest and least edifying that even the creed-spinners of the Eastern  p581 Church ever originated. Gladly would a modern historian leave it undisturbed in the dust which, for a thousand years and more, has gathered over it. But this cannot be. Its political importance. Even as Monophysitism, by loosening the hold of the Empire on Syria and Egypt, prepared the path of the Companions of Mohammed, so the schism of the Three Chapters loosened the hold of the Empire on recovered Italy, and made smooth the path of the invading Lombards. As the student of the Thirty Years' War in Germany must compel himself to listen to the disputes between the Lutheran and the Reformed Churches; as the student of the history of Holland must have patience with the squabbles of Calvinists and Remonstrants; as the student of our own Civil War must for the time look upon Prelacy and Presbytery as opposing principles for whose victory or defeat the universe stands expectant; so must we, at any rate for a few pages, watch narrowly the theological sword-play between Emperor and Pope beside the graves of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret, and Ibas.

Justin's passion for Theology. In the whispered conversations of Arsaces and Artabanes18 we caught a glimpse of the Emperor as he appeared at this time to his subjects, a grey-bearded theologian, sitting in the library of his palace till far on into the night, conversing with monks and bishops, and endlessly turning over with them the rolls of the Christian Scriptures or the Fathers' comments upon them. Points omitted by the Council of Chalcedon, 451. In these theological conferences Justinian discovered, or was taught to recognise, three defects in the proceedings of the venerated council of Chalcedon.19

p582 1. Writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia. 1. Theodore, Bishop of Mopsuestia, was the teacher of Nestorius, and one of the strongest maintainers of the doctrine that the divine Logos, distinct from the human personality of Christ, dwelt therein as Jehovah dwelt in his temple at Jerusalem. This doctrine had been emphatically condemned at the successive Councils of Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451): but Theodore himself, whose death happened three years before the former Council, had been allowed to sleep quietly in his tomb and had hitherto escaped anathema. This omission Justinian now proposed to remedy. Theodore had been dead for more than a century, but his name must now be struck out of the diptychs, and his person and writings visited with the unsparing anathema of the Church.

2. Certain writings of Theodoret of Cyrrhus. 2. Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrrhus in Syria (with whom we have already made some acquaintance as an ecclesiastical historian),20 was a friend and fellow-pupil of Nestorius, and therefore in the charitable judgment of the orthodox could easily be accused of sharing his heresy. Modern enquirers, however, incline to the conclusion that he was no Nestorian, but a man, clearer-sighted than some of his contemporaries, who began, earlier than they, the contest against the arrogant Monophysitism of the Alexandrian Church. However in this contest he had published treatises sharply attacking both Cyril, who was accounted  p583 orthodox, and the Council of Ephesus, to whose authority the whole Church bowed. Justinian did not seek for an anathema on the person of Theodoret, who after years of excommunication had been replaced in his bishopric by the Council of Chalcedon; but he claimed that these special writings against Cyril and against the Third Council should be branded as heretical, a claim which was legitimate according to the ecclesiastical ideas of the day, but which opened an endless vista of future disputation if there was to be practically no 'Statute of Limitations' in theological controversy.

3. The letter of Ibas of Edessa to Maris. 3. Ibas of Edessa was, like the two last-named prelates, a Syrian bishop, and belonged to the school of Theodore of Mopsuestia. He, like Theodoret, had been deposed from his see during the short interval between the Third and Fourth Councils in which the Monophysites virtually reigned supreme in the Church; and like Theodoret, he had been reinstated by the Council of Chalcedon. The chief offence now alleged against him was a letter written by him to a certain Maris, Bishop of Hardaschir in Persia, in which he described the acts of the Council of Ephesus in a tone of violent hostility and denounced Cyril as a heretic. Although Ibas himself, even at this period of his life, does not seem to have fully accepted the teaching of Nestorius, and afterwards at the Council of Chalcedon joined in the anathema against that theologian, there can be no doubt that some of the expressions used in this letter wore a Nestorian colour, and that if Cyril was to be venerated as a saint it was hard to defend the orthodoxy of Ibas. What rendered the affair peculiarly difficult, and should have made Justinian  p584 peculiarly unwilling to disinter it from the oblivion in which it was entombed, was that the Council of Chalcedon itself, the venerable Fourth Synod, had listened to the reading of this semi-Nestorian epistle and allowed it to be entered upon its minutes without manifesting its disapproval; nay, that the Papal Legates had expressly declared, 'after the reading of this letter we pronounce Ibas orthodox, and give judgment that he be restored to his see.'

Justinian's reasons for raising these questions. These, then, were the three points in which the lawyer-like intellect of Justinian had detected imperfection in the proceedings of the Council of Chalcedon, and in which he considered that a tacit reversal of the action of that Council might be made, in order to conciliate the prejudices of the Monophysites. The object which he had in view, and which was that which Zeno and Anastasius had sought to obtain, was a desirable one. The deep and increasing alienation of the Monophysites of Egypt and Syria was, in the existing condition of the Church's relations to the State, a real danger to the Empire, a danger the full extent of which was manifested in the following century, when the hosts of Omar and Amru invaded those two provinces. But the expedient devised by Justinian, though not devoid of cleverness, was too small and subtle to succeed. The stern Monophysites of Alexandria were not to be drawn back into union with Constantinople by the excitement of hunting three heretics who had been dead for a century. And, on the other hand, Italy, Africa, and Gaul felt that when the Sacred Council of Chalcedon was touched the Ark of God was in danger. By whatever external professions of respect the insult might be veiled, the new  p585 ecclesiastical legislation was an insult to the authority of Chalcedon and was resented accordingly.

The attempt to procure the condemnation of the persons or the writings of these three Syrian theologians occupied the best energies of Justinian during ten years of his reign, and perhaps somewhat consoled him for the loss of the Monophysite partner of his throne, who died when he was but half‑way through the battle. First edict against the Three Chapters. It was probably towards the end of 543, or early in 544, that 'Imperator Caesar Philochristus, Justinianus, Alamannicus, Gotthicus, Francicus, Germanicus, Anticus, Alanicus, Vandalicus, Africanus, the pious, the fortunate, the renowned, the victorious, the triumphant, the ever-venerable, the august,' issued in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost his edict to the whole body of the Catholic and Apostolic Church. Second edict, about 551. This edict is lost, but from a second edict which was published about eight years later, and which was probably a somewhat expanded edition of the first, we may form a conjecture as to its contents. This latter edict (which with its Latin translation fills fifty large octavo pages)21 begins by an elaborate statement of Christian doctrine according to the Creed of Nicaea. In ten short sections or 'chapters,' the errors of the Arians, the Apollinarians, the Eutychians, and the Nestorians are stamped with the Imperial anathema. Then come the celebrated Three Chapters,22 of which  p586 for the next century the world was to hear more than enough. In the eleventh chapter, Theodore of Mopsuestia, his person, his writings, his defenders are all anathematised. In the twelfth the same stigma is affixed to the writings of Theodoret on behalf of Nestorius and against Cyril and the Council of Ephesus. In the thirteenth, every one who defends the impious epistle of Ibas to the Persian heretic Maris, every one who says that that epistle or any part of it is sound, every one who refuses to anathematise it, is himself declared to be anathema. Then follows a long argument vainly endeavouring to prove that this 'impious epistle' met with no approval at the Council of Chalcedon. The question whether it be right to anathematise Theodore after his death is discussed, and decided in the affirmative on the authority of St. Augustine, and also on the ground that if the Church might not condemn heretics after their death, neither might she liberate after death those who, like St. Chrysostom, have passed away loaded with an unjust anathema. At length the Imperial theologian concludes with an appeal for reunion to the Monophysite sectaries: 'If therefore, after this true confession of faith and condemnation of the heretics, any one shall separate himself from the holy Church of God for the sake of words and syllables and quibbles about phrases, as if religion consisted in names and modes of speech and not in deeds, such an one will have to answer for his love of schism, and for those who have been or shall be hereafter deceived by him, to the great God  p587 and our Saviour Jesus Christ in the Day of Judgment. Amen.'

Justinian speaks as an ecclesiastical legislator. Throughout the whole of this long edict is heard a tone of calm superiority which reveals the presence of the ecclesiastical legislator who deems that he is settling once and for ever the controversies that have distracted the Church. It does not need the repetition of the titles of Justinian to assure us that we are listening to the same mouth which gave forth the Codex and the Institutiones. But beside this, we may perhaps discern a spirit of rivalry with Pope Leo and an endeavour to imitate the style of the majestic Tome which had been accepted by all Christendom as the true definition of the faith with regard to the union of the two natures in Christ. If it was the hope of the Emperor that he might go down to posterity as the successful competitor of that great Pontiff, he has been signally disappointed. True, he did with infinite labour and difficulty persuade a General Council to ratify his censures against the three Syrians, but the prevalent feeling even of his own age was probably that he was meddling with matters beyond his range, as it must have been the earnest desire of his successors that he would have left the Three Chapters in oblivion.

Qualified acceptance of the edict. The edict thus prepared in the Imperial Cabinet was laid before the Patriarchs of the East. Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria all at length signed, some after much hesitation, and the first only on condition that if Rome did not agree his assent should be accounted as withdrawn. Once having signed, however, they were led by an instinct of self-preservation to compel their suffragan bishops to the same course, and thus it came to pass that before long, probably  p588 before the end of 544, all the dioceses of the east had condemned the Three Chapters. Not so, however, in the West. Everywhere, in Gaul, in Illyricum, in Italy, but pre‑eminently in the province which had Carthage for its capital, a spirit of jealous alarm for the honour of the Fourth Council was aroused by the Imperial edict. Datius23 of Milan (the prelate whom we have seen24 actively promoting the restoration of his province to the obedience of Justinian) stoutly refused in Constantinople itself to append his signature to the edict, and returned to the West in order to arouse in the Pope the same spirit of opposition. Vigilius summoned to Constantinople. The forced departure of Vigilius himself from Rome was perhaps really owing to this controversy; and according to one well-informed writer,25 the populace of Rome, instead of shouting out 'Hunger and mortality go with thee!' really exclaimed 'Do not condemn the Three Chapters!' and the Bishops of Africa, Sardinia, and Illyricum accosted him on his journey with a similar request. However this may be, it is evident that the increasing opposition of the Western Bishops to the Imperial theology made Justinian even more anxious to have the successor of St. Peter close to his own residence and amenable to his own powers of persuasion or terror. Vigilius received an imperative summons to Constantinople, set sail from Sicily, and arrived at the capital on the 25th of January, 547.

 p589  His reception there. The Pope was received in that city, which he already knew so well, with every outward demonstration of respect. His first acts, however, seemed to show that the shouts of the Roman populace, 'Condemn not the Three Chapters!' were still ringing in his ears. Excommunications exchanged between Vigilius and Mennas. He condemned Mennas, the Patriarch of Constantinople, and all the other Bishops who had subscribed the Edict, to exclusion for four months from the Communion of the Church; and this ecclesiastical courtesy was repaid by Mennas with a sentence of precisely the same length upon the Bishop of Old Rome. According to Pope Gregory the Great, Vigilius at this time also laid his anathema on the Empress Theodora.

Vigilius is won over by the Court. This mood of stern antagonism to the Court did not last for many months. Justinian seems to have tried both flattery and menaces to shake the decision of the Pontiff: and if the menaces of imprisonment and hardship elicited only the spirited reply, 'You may keep me in captivity, but the blessed Apostle Peter will never be your captive,' on the other hand the invitations to the Imperial Palace, the visits from great personages in the state, the entreaties that he would not disturb the harmony of anathema which existed everywhere but where his power prevailed, were more successful. Vigilius renewed friendly relations with the Patriarch Mennas. He summoned the Western Bishops who were in Constantinople to a series of conferences, in which he discussed with them the possibility of gratifying the wishes of the Emperor. The Judicatum of Vigilius condemning the Three Chapters. At length, on the 11th of April 548, he published to the world the solemn Judicatum in which, summing up as judge the result of these episcopal conferences, he declared that, acting in obedience to the Apostolic  p590 command: 'Prove all things: hold fast that which is good,' he had examined the writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia, and finding many things in them contrary to the faith, he anathematised him and all his defenders. Similarly did he anathematise those writings of Theodoret in which he attacked the propositions of St. Cyril. Also the impious epistle said to have written by Ibas to Maris the Persian. But in all this, as Vigilius with fourfold emphasis asserted, no disrespect was intended to the Council of Chalcedon, and anathema was pronounced on any one who should seek to impair its eternal and unshaken authority.26

Mutiny of the Western Ecclesiastics. This saving clause was not sufficient to induce the Bishops of the West to acquiesce in the Judicatum. All men who were undazzled by the splendour and unterrified by the frowns of the Court could see that the new anathemas did deal a heavy blow at the authority and reputation of the Fourth Council. Datius. Even in Constantinople itself Datius of Milan, hitherto the trusty ally of the Pope, expressed his profound dissatisfaction with the Judicatum. Rusticus. It is true that Rusticus, a deacon and nephew of Vigilius, who was tarrying with his uncle at the capital, at first expressed unbounded enthusiasm on behalf of the Judicatum, busied himself in transmitting copies of it through the Empire, and declared that not only ought the name of Theodore of Mopsuestia to be anathematised, but his very bones dug up and cast out of holy ground. Sebastian. So too a young and restless ecclesiastic named Sebastian  p591 (also a deacon of the Roman Church), at first hailed the Judicatum as a direct message from Heaven. Soon, however, they were carried away with the tide of Western feeling, everywhere ebbing away from Vigilius and his new friends. They sent letters to Sicily, to Italy, to Africa, declaring that the Pope had betrayed the Council of Chalcedon; letters which, coming from Roman deacons and men of his immediate retinue, did infinite harm to the Papal cause. Vigilius, either in petulance or in self-defence, retaliated by deposing them and six of their 'fellow-conspirators' from their various offices in the Church.

Facundus. These repressive measures could not silence the voice of real alarm and indignation in the Western Churches. Facundus, the African Bishop to whom we owe the fullest account of this tedious controversy, had been present at Constantinople through all the conferences which led up to the Judicatum, and had done his utmost to prevent its being issued. The African Bishops excommunicate Vigilius. Returning now to his native province he gave such an account of the recent proceedings of the Pope that the Bishops assembled in Council resorted to the extreme measure of formally excommunicating the occupant of the Chair of St. Peter.

Vigilius begins to retreat from the Judicatum, Vigilius saw that he had strained the allegiance of his Western suffragans too far, and with hesitation and awkwardness began to retreat. He asked Justinian's permission to withdraw the Judicatum, and the Emperor, who began to perceive that he and the Pope alone could not carry the whole Church with them, consented. which is withdrawn. It was decided that a General Council should be convened, and in order that the matter should be left open for that Council's decision,  p592 the Pope's Judicatum was to be considered as withdrawn. Secret oath of the Pope to the Emperor. In private, however, the Pope had to swear to the Emperor that he would do his utmost to secure the condemnation of the Three Chapters, would enter into no secret compact with their defenders, and would disclose to the Emperor the name of any one who should seek to draw him into any plots on behalf of the Chapters or against the State. Justinian on his part swore that he would keep this engagement secret, and would not visit with penalty of death the persons whom Vigilius under his compact might be compelled to denounce.

A General Council convened, The proposed Council now occupied the minds of all the great dignitaries of Church and State at Constantinople. But as the months passed over, it became more and more clear that the Council would not heal the schism which Justinian had with so light a heart created. He was using his power with a heavy hand against his theological opponents, extruding Bishops from their sees, especially in Africa, with a harshness which would have seemed more to befit an Arian Vandal than an Orthodox Emperor: but the Western Bishops will not attend it. but neither from Africa nor Illyria, from Italy nor Gaul would the Bishops come to do his bidding in Council by condemning the Three Chapters. The Eastern Bishops, more subservient and less fanatically Chalcedonian, were willing to do all that the Emperor required of them. Now then, if Vigilius was to fulfil his oath to the Emperor, he must take his place at the head of these Eastern Bishops, and formally anathematise the Chapters which his own clergy and well-nigh all the Bishops of the West were passionately defending.

The situation was a cruel one, and might well make  p593 Vigilius curse the day when he began to intrigue for the Chair of St. Peter. The Emperor's second edict 551 (?). As if to complicate matters still further, the Emperor, without waiting for the assembling of the Council, put forth a second edict containing his authoritative definition of the essentials of the Christian faith, and anathematising the Three Chapters.27 Hostile assembly of Bishops in the Pope's palace. An assembly of all the Eastern and Western prelates who were at that time to be found in Constantinople was convened in the palace of Placidia,28 where the Pope was then dwelling. The professional jealousy of all the Bishops seems to have been aroused, and not even Theodore Bishop of Caesarea, the Emperor's chief adviser and right hand in all that concerned the condemnation of the Chapters, durst oppose the unanimous voice of the assembly, expressed by Datius of Milan and Vigilius of Rome, that an ecclesiastic who should celebrate mass in any of the churches where the Emperor's edict was publicly exhibited was a traitor to the brotherhood of the Church.29

Mennas and Theodore of Caesarea degraded and excommunicated by the Pope. Notwithstanding this solemn prohibition, Theodore before many days were over solemnly celebrated mass in one of the contaminated churches, and prevailed upon Zoilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, who had been hitherto considered somewhat of a Papal partisan, to be present likewise. Indignant at this open act of disobedience to the successor of St. Peter, Vigilius, with the concurrence of Datius and twelve other  p594 Western Bishops, chiefly from Italian cities, published a solemn sentence of degradation from every ecclesiastical function against Theodore of Caesarea; and, waxing bolder at the sound of their own voices, included in it also Mennas, Patriarch of Constantinople.

Vigilius and Datius obliged to take refuge in the churches. This daring blow, struck under the very eyes of the Emperor against his chief religious adviser and the ecclesiastical head of his own city, so exasperated Justinian that Vigilius and Datius found it necessary to fly for their lives to the asylum of the great basilicas. Vigilius chose for his place of refuge the Basilica of St. Peter, rightly judging that the sanctity of that place would be more efficacious than any other for the successor of the Apostle. Justinian however, who seems to have been in a state of frenzy at the insults offered to his vanity as a theologian and to his power as an Emperor, sent the Praetor to arrest him in the Basilica itself. Attempt of the Praetor Urbanus to arrest Vigilius in the church. This Praetor, the head of the City police, 'to whom,' as the adherents of Vigilius indignantly asserted, 'thieves and murderers rightly belonged,' came with a large number of soldiers bearing naked swords and bows ready strung in their hands. When he beheld them Vigilius fled to the altar,30 and clung to the columns on which it was supported. The deacons and other ecclesiastics who surrounded the Pope were first dragged away by the hair of their heads, and then the soldiers seized Vigilius himself, some by the legs, some by the hair, and some by the  p595 beard, and endeavoured to pull him from the altar. Still, however, with convulsive grasp the Pope clung to the pillars, and still the soldiers strove to drag his tall and portly form away from the place of refuge. In the scuffle the pillars of the altar were broken, and the altar itself was only prevented by the interposed hands of the ecclesiastics from falling on the Pope's head and ending his Pontificate and his sorrows at one blow.31

 p596  The sight of a chief of police and his satellites grasping the successor of St. Peter by the legs and trying to drag him forth from the shelter of St. Peter's own basilica was too much for the religious feelings of the people of Constantinople. Loud and menacing murmurs arose from the spectators who had crowded into the church. Even some of the soldiers audibly expressed their disapproval of the work upon which they were engaged: and soon the Praetor with his retinue vanished from the sacred building, leaving Vigilius still under its safeguard.

Belisarius and other Senators sent to expostulate with the Pope. The Emperor now tried another method. A deputation of the most important personages of the Empire was sent to argue calmly with Vigilius and persuade  p597 him to abandon an attitude of needless hostility and distrust. The persons who composed this deputation are all of them interesting to us for other reasons. First and foremost was Belisarius (now probably in the forty-sixth year of his age), the instrument by whom Vigilius had been raised to the Papacy. With him came his fellow-patrician Cethegus, the exile from Rome, formerly Princeps of the Roman Senate, a man once accused of treachery to the Emperor,32 but now apparently restored to full Imperial favour. The other envoys were Justin the son of the lately-deceased Germanus, who had been Consul eleven years previously, and who now held the high office of Master of the Household;33 Peter, once the bold ambassador to Theodahad,34 now Patrician and Master of the Offices; and Marcellinus the Quaestor, apparently the same literary courtier of Justinian who under the title of Marcellinus Comes has, by his useful Chronicle, filled so many gaps in our knowledge of the history of the fifth and sixth centuries. This deputation was instructed to invite the Pope to come forth from his asylum on receiving a solemn oath for his personal safety, and to inform him that, if he would not accept these terms, measures should again be taken for his forcible removal. Oaths having been given for his safety, Vigilius returns to his palace. After some little bargaining as to the forms of the oath, Vigilius consented to these conditions. The memorandum containing the terms of agreement was laid upon a cross containing a fragment of the true wood of the Cross of Calvary, above the  p598 keys of St. Peter, and upon the iron grating which fenced in the altar of the Apostle.35 When all these arrangements had been made, to give greater efficacy to the compact the five noblemen took their 'corporal oath' for the safety of the Pontiff, and Vigilius, emerging from his hiding-place, returned to the palace of Placidia.

His second flight. Notwithstanding all this solemn swearing, the situation of the Pope after his return became daily more intolerable. His servants and the ecclesiastics who remained faithful to him were publicly insulted; every entrance to the palace was blocked by armed men; he had reason to think that a violent attack was about to be made upon his person. After making a vain appeal to the Imperial envoys whose plighted oath was thus being violated, 23 Dec. 551 he quitted the palace again by night two days before Christmas‑day. The shouts of the men-at‑arms penetrated even into his bed‑chamber, and only this urgent terror, as he himself says, could have impelled him to the hardships and dangers of a nocturnal expedition.36 He fled this  p599 time, not to his old asylum at St. Peter's, but across the Bosporus to Chalcedon. He takes refuge at Chalcedon. There, in the renowned sanctuary of St. Euphemia, in the very church where, just one century before, the great Council of the Six Hundred and Thirty Fathers had been held, the hunted Pope, the champion of that Council's authority, took refuge.

He refuses again to quit his asylum. In such a place it would have been dangerous for the Emperor to repeat the scenes of violence which had profaned the basilica of St. Peter. After a month's interval he sent the same five noblemen who had composed the previous deputation, with an offer of new and perhaps more stringent oaths of protection if the Pope would again return to his palace. The answer of Vigilius was firm and dignified: 'For no private or pecuniary reason have I sought shelter in this church, but solely in order to avert the scandal to the Church which was being perpetrated before all the world. If the Emperor is determined to restore peace to the Church, as she enjoyed it in the days of his uncle and pious predecessor, I need no oaths, but come forth from my asylum at once. If this be not his intention, oaths are also needless, for I shall not leave the basilica of St. Euphemia.'

Letter of reproaches from the Emperor. The Pope now proceeded, or threatened to proceed, to publish the excommunication of Theodore and Mennas, which had before been privately served upon them. On his part the Emperor sent by the hands of Peter the Referendarius37 a letter which Vigilius  p600 alleges to have been so full of insults and mis‑statements, that he is certain it can never have been written by the Emperor. This, however, is of course only a figure of speech to enable him to criticise it without open disrespect. There can be no doubt that it was Justinian's own composition, and we can easily imagine its purport — an unsparing exposure of the past vacillations, intrigues, and broken promises of the Roman Pontiff.

The Pope issues his Encyclica, 5 Feb. 552. To this document and to the Emperor's proposals for peace Vigilius replied by a long letter, the 'Encyclica,' containing his account of the controversies of the past year, and offering, upon receiving proper oaths for their safety, to send Datius of Milan and certain other of the ecclesiastics who shared his exclusion, to treat, with full powers from him, for the restoration of the peace of the Church. It is from this Encyclica that we derive the greater part of our information as to the embittered strife between Pope and Emperor.

The dispute between Pope and Emperor passes out of the acute phase. That strife which for the past six months had assumed an acute type and had seemed likely to end in bloodshed, now relapsed into its tedious chronic condition. Death removed some of the combatants from the scene. Datius of Milan died in June; two months after, Mennas of Constantinople. It was clear that Justinian had succeeded in tying a knot which only a Fifth General Council could untie, Meeting of the Fifth General Council, 5 May, 553. and to that Council, which at length on the 5th of May, 553, assembled in Constantinople, all eyes, at least the eyes of all Oriental Christians, were now directed.  p601 The Western prelates still kept aloof. It was one thing to summon them to Constantinople, and another thing to induce them visit a capital where the venerable Datius, and Vigilius successor of St. Peter, had been treated with such discourtesy and had encountered so much actual peril.

The Pope will not preside at the Council. The Emperor naturally desired that the presidency of the Council should be vested in 'the Bishop of Old Rome;' and Eutychius the new Patriarch of Constantinople, a man apparently of gentler disposition than Mennas, voluntarily offered to concede the first place to Vigilius. The Pope, however, did not choose to preside in a Council composed almost entirely of Eastern Bishops. For the matter in debate he perhaps cared little, but he rightly dreaded again placing himself in opposition to the general voice of the Western Church. There were long negotiations between Pope and Emperor as to the composition of the Council. Vigilius proposed that four Easterns and four Westerns should meet and that their decision should be accepted as final. Justinian was willing to concede that four Bishops from each of the three Eastern Patriarchates should meet Vigilius and three of the Bishops in his obedience; but this the Pope would not accept. Thus the negotiations broke down: and in truth a small committee of the kind indicated by these proposals would have been a poor substitute for the great ecclesiastical Parliaments which had met at Nicaea and Chalcedon.

The Council without the Pope condemns the Three Chapters. Eventually when the Council, consisting of one hundred and thirty-nine Bishops from the East and six from the West, met in the Metropolitan Church of Constantinople, the throne prepared for Vigilius was vacant. Some sittings were spent in fruitless  p602 endeavours to induce the Pope to join the assembled Prelates, Belisarius and Cethegus being again vainly sent by the Emperor on this errand: and then the Council, under the presidency of Eutychius, proceeded to its main business. There was little discussion, apparently no opposition. The Bishops had, probably, each already condemned the Three Chapters in their individual capacity, and now shouted 'Anathema to Theodore; long life to the Emperor,' with edifying unanimity.

14 May, 553 The Pope in his Constitutum defends the Three Chapters. When Vigilius was invited to join the Council he replied with a demand for a delay of twenty days to enable him to prepare a written statement of his judgment on the Three Chapters. The Emperor answered, with some justice, that it was not his individual sentence, but his voice and vote at the Council that was required; but the Pope persisted in his project, and by the 14th of May had drawn up a document called the Constitutum, containing his own judgment and that of nineteen Bishops of the West and deacons of Rome concerning the matters in dispute. In this document, while examining at great length the writings and severely condemning the errors of Theodore of Mopsuestia, and while reiterating his own profession of faith, so as to show that he himself was utterly untainted with Nestorianism, Vigilius condemned all the proceedings of those who were now agitating for the condemnation of the Three Chapters; grounding his opposition chiefly on the familiar arguments of the impropriety of anathematising the dead, and the fact that, as far as Theodore and Ibas were concerned, the cause had been already decided in their favour at Chalcedon. He concluded  p603 in the tone of an autocrat of the Church, forbidding any person who held any ecclesiastical dignity whatever to put forth any opinion concerning the Three Chapters contrary to this Constitutum, or to raise any further question concerning them. Any action which might be taken by such ecclesiastical persons in opposition to this decree was declared beforehand to be made null and void 'by the authority of the Apostolic See over which by the grace of God we preside.'

Vigilius anathematised by the Council. The members of the Fifth Council, at whom of course this Constitutum was chiefly aimed, went on their way disregarding it; and at their seventh and last sitting, after completing all their other anathemas, struck the name of Vigilius out of the diptychs. This was done at the express and urgent entreaty of Justinian. Thus had the nephew of Justin, the mainstay of that Imperial house whose great glory it had once been to bring about the reconciliation with the Roman See, himself imitated the audacious act of Acacius, by excommunicating the successor of St. Peter.

Vigilius banished to Proconnesus. Sentence of banishment was passed on all the opposers of the Fifth Council, and in this banishment Vigilius, already in a certain sense an exile, had doubly to share. He was conveyed to the little island of Proconnesus, near the western end of the Sea of Marmora, closely guarded, given to understand that so long as he refused to accept the authority of the Fifth Council, he had no hope of revisiting Rome. Not only so, but the Emperor appears to have determined to order a new election to the Papal Chair, superseding Vigilius by a more pliable pontiff, as Theodora had superseded Silverius by Vigilius.

 p604  Vigilius surrenders. Under these hard blows, with the prospect of yet harder to come, and with his health undermined by that cruel disease38 the agony of which has crushed the strongest hearts, the spirit of Vigilius gave way. 8 Dec. 553 His letter of retraction addressed to the Patriarch of Constantinople. After six months of banishment he wrote a letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople, in which he lamented the mis­understandings which, by the instigation of the Devil, had arisen between himself and his brother bishops dwelling in the Royal City. Christ, the true Light of the World, had now removed all darkness from the writer's mind and recalled the whole Church to peace. Following the noble example of St. Augustine, who feared not in his Retractationes to own the mistakes in his previous writings, Vigilius would now acknowledge that, having with renewed care examined the writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia, he found therein many things both blasphemous and absurd which he was now ready unhesitatingly to condemn. With equal clearness could he anathematise all that Theodoret had written against the true faith, against the Council of Ephesus, and the twelve chapters of Cyril. Lastly, he anathematised the letter, full of profane blasphemies, which Ibas was said to have written to the Persian heretic Maris. No point was left uncovered. The Pope had surrendered to his enemies at discretion.

23 Feb. 554 He issues a new Constitutum condemning the Three Chapters. Two months later, Vigilius addressed, probably to the Bishops of the West, a long Constitutum, in which, going over all the weary controversy, he in fact retracted whatsoever he had previously advanced as to the impropriety of condemning the Three Chapters. The only novelty in the document, and a perilous  p605 one, was a long piece of special pleading (which seems to have convinced no one either in its own or succeeding ages) on behalf of the proposition that the so‑called letter of Ibas was never written by that ecclesiastic.

He is allowed to return to Italy. After this complete capitulation the pope was suffered to return to Italy. Great events had meanwhile been happening there, events which made his return at this time eminently opportune. The Roman clergy had petitioned for his restoration, to which step Justinian may perhaps have given somewhat of the character of an act of amnesty; though indeed the Emperor had so completely vanquished the Pope, that no reason for quarrel any longer existed between them.

He dies in Sicily, 7 Jan. 555. But Vigilius was not after all to see again the Church of the Lateran, for the sake of the first place in which he had done so many misdeeds and endured so many hardships. His health, which had been failing ever since his flight to Chalcedon, and which had no doubt suffered from his banishment to Proconnesus, now became rapidly worse. He could proceed no further on his way than to Sicily, and died there on the 7th of January, 555. He was succeeded, after a vacancy of a little more than three months, by the deacon Pelagius, who had served under Vigilius at Constantinople through all the recent controversy, and had shared his hardships and perils.

Results of the conflict. As far as Emperor and Pope were concerned, thus closed the controversy of the Three Chapters. Justinian had undoubtedly gathered all the laurels that could reward such a petty and ignoble contest. He, the amateur theologian, after a struggle as long as the siege of Troy, had imposed his definition of the right  p606 faith on all the four Christian patriarchates, and had bound those who believe in the infallibility of General Councils to accept it henceforward as an essential article of the Christian creed that the soul of Theodore of Mopsuestia suffers eternal torment. As a statesman his success was not perhaps equally brilliant. He did not by his manoeuvres secure the loyalty of a single disaffected Monophysite; and he raised up a generation of bitter schismatics in Italy who were to persist for a century and a half, preferring even the rule of the savage Lombard to communion with the Church which anathematised the Three Chapters. As a guide and counsellor of the Church the half-heathen Constantine certainly presents a fairer record than the highly-trained contro­versialist Justinian.

Position of the Pope. The unhappy Vigilius, in the course of this controversy, had to drink the cup of humiliation to the dregs. Deeply offending both parties, he has found champions in neither; and in consequence posterity has been perhaps unduly severe upon his memory. Travelling as he did at least four times from one point to the diametrically opposite point of the theological compass,39 he deeply injured the credit of the Roman See, which now passed through half a century of obscurity til the arising of the first and greatest Gregory. He must certainly be held to have been an unsuccessful general of the forces of the Papacy, but there is no proof that he was a coward, and his censors have perhaps hardly enough considered whether  p607 at his particular point in the campaign success was possible. For six years he had to dwell at the seat of the rival Patriarch, daily beholding the majesty of the Emperor and begirt by evidences of his power. To resist the commands of this omnipotent Caesar, from a modest dwelling within a mile or two of his palace, was a task which required much more hardihood than merely hurling spiritual thunderbolts from the Lateran or the Vatican at some unseen and unknown Frederick or Henry on the other side of the Alps.

Then the theological battle-field was ill‑chosen for the interests of the Papacy. To say nothing of the dismal unreality of the controversy (though Vigilius was probably acute enough to perceive and to be disheartened by this unreality), there can be no doubt that the pedantic, lawyer-like mind of Justinian had detected a flaw in the proceedings of the Council of Chalcedon. His determination to publish his discovery to an admiring world placed Vigilius in a pitiable dilemma, one from which even a Leo or a Hormisdas would have found a difficulty in escaping. If he defended the Three Chapters he was looked upon as tainted with Nestorianism and false to the Council of Ephesus. If he condemned them he seemed to be dallying with the Monophysites and disloyal to the Council of Chalcedon. Certainly to adopt both courses alternately, and to do this twice over, was about as disastrous a policy as he could possibly have adopted. But even as to this vacillation the harshness of our censure would be abated if we grasped fully the enormous difficulty of his position. He, like Justinian, was striving, and could not but strive, for an unattainable object. The Emperor was  p608 compelled to struggle for the restoration of the old boundaries of Roman Empire. The Pope was bound to wrestle for the preservation of the unity of the Christian Church. A decree against which they were powerless to contend had gone forth that the East and the West should be parted asunder, politically, religiously, and intellectually. But they knew not this; and the luckless Vigilius, labouring to prevent the Eastern and Western Churches from being rent asunder by this miserable question about the damnation of Theodore, was like a man who, standing on shipboard, reaches out his hand to a friend standing on the pier, and not unclasping it quickly enough, is swept from his place by the motion of the vessel and falls headlong into the sea.

But assuredly the wonderful political instinct of the Roman Church was at fault when she allied herself with Constantinople against Ravenna. Already have two Popes — Silverius and Vigilius — found the little finger of Justinian thicker than the loins of Theodoric.b


The Author's Notes:

1 See p187.

2 See pp222‑3.

3 Either actually ruling or deposed.

4 The fullest statement of this alleged compact is given by Liberatus (Breviarium, cap. xxii) as follows: —

'Augusta vero vocans Vigilium Agapeti diaconum, profiteri sibi secreto ab eo flagitavit, ut si papa fieret, tolleret synodum, et scriberet Theodosio, Anthimo et Severo, et per epistolam suam eorum firmaret fidem; promittens dare ei praeceptum ad Belisarium, ut papa ordinaretur, et dari centenaria septem. Lubenter ergo suscepit Vigilius promissum ejus, amore episcopatus et auri, et facta professione Romam profectus est.'

5 Liberatus asserts that Vigilius negotiated at first for the succession to Agapetus, and was surprised on reaching Rome to find Silverius already elected. But his information is not very accurate. He represents the first interview with Belisarius as taking place at Ravenna, which is certainly a mistake.

6 Lord Mahon thinks there was some foundation for the charge (Life of Belisarius, p227).

7 My reason for making this remark is that Baronius has persuaded himself that the intrusion of Vigilius into the Papal office was not acquiesced in by the Roman Church, that he was in fact looked upon as an Anti-Pope, and so continued to be considered, till, after the death of Silverius, a fresh and regular election by the clergy and people of Rome gave him a right to sit in the Chair of St. Peter. Of any such second election it may I believe be safely affirmed that there is not a trace in the authorities. For controversial reasons Baronius endeavours to prolong this period of the Anti-Papacy of Vigilius as much as possible, and therefore dates the death of Silverius in 540. The authorities, however, seem to speak of that event as following by a not very long interval after his deposition (18 November, 537). We know that it occurred on the 21st of June (or May, for the MSS. differ on this point), and its seems probable that it was in the year 538; but as the journeyings of Silverius during his exile are somewhat extensive for an interval of seven months, it is possible that we should rather assign it to 539.

8 'Tolleret synodum.'

9 There is some force in the arguments of Baronius against the genuineness of this letter. It is not easy to understand why no allusion should have been made to such a document in the fierce controversies which Vigilius had to pass through in later years. Still, this is only an argument e silentio. Victor Tunnunensis and Liberatus, both of whom insert the letter and ascribe it to Vigilius, are good contemporary authorities, and, as staunch Chalcedonians, were not likely to be imposed upon by a Monophysite forgery, which Baronius pronounces it to have been.

10 'Oportet ergo ut haec quae vobis scribo nullus agnoscat: sed magis tanquam suspectum me Sapientia vestra ante alios existimet habere, ut facilius possim haec quae coepi, operari et perficere.'

11 Liberatus stigmatises it as 'resolvens Tomum Papae Leonis.' But surely the first and most important sentence, 'Non duas Christum confitemur naturas sed ex duabus naturis compositum unum filium, unum Christum, unum Dominum,' is susceptible of an orthodox interpretation. Dioscorus is included among the objects of his anathema.

12 In Anastasius Bibliothecarius.

13 'Sic est in furorem versus ut daret alapam notario suo, qui mox ad pedes ejus cadens expiravit' (Anast. Bibl. p131, apud Muratori). Perhaps the indignity thus publicly inflicted on a proud Roman nobleman may have caused some apoplectic seizure which resulted in his death.

14 Or it may have been Vigilius's own nephew who was thus beaten to death. The text seems to be here hopelessly corrupt.

15 'Et cum virtute majore.'

16 'Nam si non feceris, per viventem in saecula excoriari te faciam.'

17 Perhaps not the whole of that year. Agnellus (§ 70) says that Vigilius consecrated Maximian Bishop of Ravenna, at Patras in Achaia, on the 14th of October, 546.

18 See p557.

19 A professed ecclesiastical historian would here have to notice the controversy as to the condemnation of Origen, out of which, by a kind of reaction, the debate as to the Three Chapters is said to have arisen. But besides that this would lead me too far from my main subject, I doubt whether the connexion of the two controversies as cause and effect was so close as was represented by the defenders of the Three Chapters.

20 See vol. I pp 280, 531, 728 n.

21 In Migne's Patrologia, vol. lxix.

22 Hefele (Concilien­geschichte, § 258) points out that, according to the original and proper usage, the Three Chapters (κεφάλαια) were the sentences condemning the three heretics, and therefore a supporter of the Three Chapters was a supporter of the Imperial decree. But by a very early perversion of language the word Chapters was applied to the opinions upon which anathema was pronounced, and thus while Justinian and the Fifth Council are spoken of as condemners of the Three Chapters, the Bishops of the West were for the most part their maintainers.

23 The name of this prelate is generally spelt with a c (Dacius) by the ecclesiastical writers. In Liber contra Mocianum, however, as printed by Migne (LXVII.862‑3), Facundus spells the name with a t. I adhere to the form which, following Procopius, I have already adopted.

24 p241.

25 Facundus, Pro Def. Tr. Cap. IV.3 (p624).

26 The Judicatum itself is no longer extant, but five fragments of it contained in other documents are collected by Hefele (II.821‑4). It was sometimes called a Constitutum: see Facundus, ap. Migne, p863, note a.

27 This is the edict which I have quoted above (p585) to illustrate the first edict, now lost, of which it was probably an expansion.

28 Doubtless the daughter of Arcadius, not her aunt, the daughter of Theodosius I.

29 Fragmentum Damnationis Theodori (ap. Migne, LXIX.61).

30 Theophanes says 'the altar of Sergius which was in the monastery of Hormisdas.' The other accounts are very clear as to this event occurring in the basilica of St. Peter, but this basilica, according to the words of Vigilius, was 'in Ormisda fundatam.'

31 This curious scene is very circumstantially described by three of our authorities:

1. By Vigilius himself in his Encyclica (p55, ed. Migne):

'Nam cum ad beati Petri basilicam in Ormisda fundatam Augusto mense nuper praeterito fugissemus, nullum latere confidimus, qui cum in eadem ecclesia a comitatu praetoris cum multitudine armatorum militum veniente, tanquam ad bellum instructa acie, a sancto ejus altari tracti pedibus traheremur, tenuimus: et super nos etiam ipsa altaris mensa ceciderat, nisi clericorum nostrorum fuisset manibus sustentata.'

2. By the Italian ecclesiastics tarrying at Constantinople in their letter to the Frankish ambassadors (p117, ed. Migne):

'Et tamen beatissimus papa Vigilius nec in basilica Beati Petri sedes tutas habere meruit: in tantum ut illic praetor, ad quem fures et homicidae tantummodo pertinent, mitteretur. Qui cum multitudine militum, spathas nudatas et arcus tensos portantium, supra dictam basilicam introivit. Quo viso, sanctus papa columnas altaris amplexus est: sed ille ferocitate et animo concitatus, primo de altari diaconos ejus et clericos a capillis tentos ejecit, postea vero ipsum sanctum papam alii a pedibus, alii a capillis et barba tentum crudeliter abstrahebant. Sed cum ille altaris columnas non dimitteret, cecidit altare, et columnae aliquae fractae sunt, et quantum ab ipso, ibi super ipsum altare in partibus mitti habuit.'

3. By Theophanes (eighth century):

Ὁ δὲ φοβηθεὶς τὴν ὀργὴν τοῦ βασιλέως τῷ θυσιαστηρίῳ Σεργίου τοῦ μάρτυρος μόνης τοῦ Ὁρμίσδου προσέφυγεν. Κᾀκεῖθεν ἑλκόμενος κατέσχεν τοὺς βαστάζοντας τὸ θυσιαστήριον κίονας, καὶ τούτους κατέστρεψεν βαρὺς ὢν καὶ μέγας τῷ σώματι.

The Liber Pontificalis, strangely enough, makes no mention here of the Three Chapters, but seems to consider that the quarrel between Vigilius and the Emperor was concerning the recognition of the former Patriarch, Anthimus. It represents the Pope, under the pressure of Justinian's menaces, as saying: 'So far as I can see, it is not Justinian and Theodora, those two most pious sovereigns, but Diocletian and Eleutheria who have summoned me hither and whom I find upon the throne. Do with me what you will: I receive the just reward of my deeds.' Then one of the bystanders gave him a slap on the face, saying, 'Homicide, do you know to whom you are speaking? Have you forgotten that you slew Silverius the Pope and caused the son of a widow woman to be cudgelled to death?' ('et filium mulieris viduae ad calces (?) et fustes interfecisti'). The biographer then tells the story of the flight to St. Euphemia's Church and the fracture of the altar-column, which he transfers thither from St. Peter's: and continues, 'And Theodora Augusta [who died three years previous to these events] caused a rope to be put round his neck and so had him dragged through the whole of the city till even-tide. Then he was put in prison and fed on a scanty pittance of bread and water. The Roman clergy who were with him were sent into exile in various places, and put to labour in the mines.' I doubt whether it is worth while attempting to fit in such loose and inaccurate gossip as this, into authentic history.

32 See p464.

33 Cura Palatii. The mention of his ex‑consulship shows that we have here to do with the son of Germanus, not with the successor of Justinian.

34 Se pp20 and 306.

35 'Et dum saepe dicti judices, posito indiculo super altare, et cataracta beati Petri apostoli, et super crucem quae de ligno passionis Domini habet inclausum, sed et super claves beati Petri apostoli praestitissent corporale jusjurandum' (Encyclica, p55 Migne). The interpretation above given of 'cataracta' is taken from Ducange. Whether St. Peter's keys were relics or not does not seem clear.

36 In allusion probably to his own portly person he appeals to the narrowness of the hole through which he escaped as a proof of the desperateness of his condition: 'Sicut locus ille poterit cunctis hominibus indicare' (p56). I do not quite understand the meaning of 'ut per parvam maceriem fabricantium transire compediti dolore nimio in nocturna obscuritate positi cogeremur.' Bower (II.392) says 'climbing . . . over a wall that was building, but was not yet raised to its due height:' but this does not seem to express the Pope's meaning.

Thayer's Note: For what it's worth, I side with Bower. The Pope clambered "thru a small heap of builders' rubble".

37 There were eighteen Referendarii under Justinian whose duty it was to put in proper form the petitions of his subjects and transmit his answers. Evidently this Peter is not the ex‑consul and Master of the Offices, but a person of lower rank.

38 Anastasius says, 'ex multa afflictione calculi dolorem habens.'

39 (1) Anathema against Mennas; (2) Judicatum against the Three Chapters; (3) Constitutum in their favour; (4) Constitutum in condemnation of them.


Thayer's Notes:

a The (1912) Catholic Encyclopedia article Pope Vigiliusq.v., states that the letter is widely considered a forgery, citing Duchesne and several other authorities.

b Quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus. . . ! Yet even when he nods off, Hodgkin has left us with a lovely, unforgettable image, perfectly suited to close this chapter with.


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