|Husband:||Justinian I + (483-565)|
|Wife:||Theodora + (500-548)|
|Children:||Justin II of BYZANTIUM (520-578)|
|Theodora + (525- )|
|Johannes (527?- )|
|Name:||Justinian I +|
|Father:||Sabbatius + (460- )|
|Mother:||Vigilantia + (465- )|
|Birth||11 May 0483||Tauresium, Dardania|
|Occupation||Emperor of the Byzantine Empire|
|Title||frm 1 Aug 0527 to 14 Nov 0565 (age 44-82)||Emperor of the Byzantine Empire|
|Death||14 Nov 0565 (age 82)||Constantinople, Turkey|
|Father:||Acasius + (440-500)|
|Mother:||Theodora + (450- )|
|Occupation||Empress of the Byzantine Empire|
|Title||Empress of the Byzantine Empire|
|Death||28 Jun 0548 (age 47-48)||Constantinople, Turkey|
|Burial||Church of the Holy Apostles|
|Name:||Justin II of BYZANTIUM|
|Death||0578 (age 57-58)|
|Spouse:||Anastasius + of the BYZANTINE EMPIRE (530- )|
Justinian I (Latin: Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Justinianus Augustus, Greek: F??ß??? ??t??? Saßß?t??? ???st???a???; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Roman (Byzantine) Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.
One of the most important figures of Late Antiquity and the last emperor to speak Latin as a first language, Justinian's rule constitutes a distinct epoch in the history of the Eastern Roman Empire. The impact of his administration extended far beyond the boundaries of his time and domain. Justinian's reign is marked by the ambitious but only partly realized renovatio imperii, or "restoration of the empire". This ambition was expressed by the partial recovery of the territories of the Western Roman Empire. His general Belisarius swiftly conquered the Vandal Kingdom in North Africa, extending Roman control to the Atlantic Ocean. Subsequently Belisarius, Narses, and other generals conquered the Ostrogothic Kingdom, restoring Dalmatia, Sicily, Italy, and Rome to the empire after being under barbarian control for over half a century. The prefect Liberius reclaimed most of southern Iberia, establishing the province of Spania. These campaigns re-established Roman control over the western Mediterranean, increasing the empire's annual revenue by over a million solidi. During his reign Justinian also annexed Lazica, a region on the east coast of the Black Sea never under Roman rule before.
A still more resonant aspect of his legacy was the uniform rewriting of Roman law, the Corpus Juris Civilis, which is still the basis of civil law in many modern states. His reign also marked a blossoming of Byzantine culture, and his building programme yielded such masterpieces as the church of Hagia Sophia, which was to be the center of Eastern Orthodox Christianity for many centuries.
A devastating outbreak of bubonic plague (see Plague of Justinian) in the early 540s marked the end of an age of splendor. The empire entered a period of territorial decline not to be reversed until the ninth century.
Procopius provides the primary source for the history of Justinian's reign. The Syriac chronicle of John of Ephesus, which does not survive, was used as a source for later chronicles, contributing many additional details of value. Both historians became very bitter towards Justinian and his empress, Theodora. Other sources include the histories of Agathias, Menander Protector, John Malalas, the Paschal Chronicle, the chronicles of Marcellinus Comes and Victor of Tunnuna.
Justinian is considered a saint amongst Eastern Orthodox Christians, and is also commemorated by some Lutheran Churches.[5
Justinian was born in Tauresium in the Roman province of Dardania (the precise location of this site is disputed, e.g. the possible locations include Justiniana Prima near the modern town of Lebane in southern Serbia and Taor near Skopje, Republic of Macedonia), in AD 483. His Latin-speaking peasant family is believed to have been of Thraco-Roman or Illyro-Roman origins.
The cognomen Iustinianus which he took later is indicative of adoption by his uncle Justin. During his reign, he founded Justiniana Prima not far from his birthplace, today in South East Serbia. His mother was Vigilantia, the sister of Justin. Justin, who was in the imperial guard (the Excubitors) before he became emperor, adopted Justinian, brought him to Constantinople, and ensured the boy's education. As a result, Justinian was well educated in jurisprudence, theology and Roman history. Justinian served for some time with the Excubitors but the details of his early career are unknown. Chronicler John Malalas, who lived during the reign of Justinian, tells of his appearance that he was short, fair skinned, curly haired, round faced and handsome. Another contemporary chronicler, Procopius, compares Justinian's appearance to that of tyrannical Emperor Domitian, although this is probably slander.
When Emperor Anastasius died in 518, Justin was proclaimed the new emperor, with significant help from Justinian. During Justin's reign (518–527), Justinian was the emperor's close confidant. Justinian showed much ambition, and it has been thought that he was functioning as virtual regent long before Justin made him associate emperor on 1 April 527, although there is no conclusive evidence for this. As Justin became senile near the end of his reign, Justinian became the de facto ruler. Justinian was appointed consul in 521, and later commander of the army of the east. Upon Justin I's death on 1 August 527, Justinian became the sole sovereign.
Tremissis of emperor Justinian.As a ruler, Justinian showed great energy. He was known as "the Emperor who never sleeps" on account of his work habits. Nevertheless, he seems to have been amenable and easy to approach. Justinian's family came from a lowly and provincial background, and therefore he had no power base in the traditional aristocracy of Constantinople. Instead, he surrounded himself with men and women of extraordinary talent, whom he selected not on the basis of aristocratic origin, but on the basis of merit. Around 525 he married in Constantinople Theodora, who was by profession a courtesan about 20 years his junior. Justinian would have, in earlier times, been unable to marry her because of her class, but his uncle Emperor Justin I had passed a law allowing intermarriage between social classes. Theodora would become very influential in the politics of the Empire, and later emperors would follow Justinian's precedent in marrying outside the aristocratic class. The marriage caused a scandal, but Theodora would prove to be very intelligent, "street smart", a good judge of character and Justinian's greatest supporter. Other talented individuals included Tribonian, his legal adviser; Peter the Patrician, the diplomat and longtime head of the palace bureaucracy; his finance ministers John the Cappadocian and Peter Barsymes, who managed to collect taxes more efficiently than any before, thereby funding Justinian's wars; and finally, his prodigiously talented general Belisarius.
Justinian's rule was not universally popular; early in his reign he almost lost his throne during the Nika riots, and a conspiracy against the emperor's life by dissatisfied businessmen was discovered as late as 562.
Justinian was struck by the plague in the early 540s but recovered. Theodora died in 548, perhaps of cancer, at a relatively young age; Justinian outlived her by almost twenty years. Justinian, who had always had a keen interest in theological matters and actively participated in debates on Christian doctrine, became even more devoted to religion during the later years of his life. When he died, on the night of November 13–14 of the year 565, he left no children. He was succeeded by Justin II, who was the son of his sister Vigilantia, and married to Sophia, the niece of Empress Theodora. Justinian's body was entombed in a specially built mausoleum in the Church of the Holy Apostles.
 Legislative activitiesMain article: Corpus Juris Civilis
The Barberini Ivory, which is thought to portray either Justinian or Anastasius I.Justinian achieved lasting fame through his judicial reforms, particularly through the complete revision of all Roman law, something that had not previously been attempted. The total of Justinian's legislature is known today as the Corpus juris civilis. It consists of the Codex Justinianus, the Digesta or Pandectae, the Institutiones, and the Novellae.
Early in his reign, Justinian appointed the quaestor Tribonian to oversee this task. The first draft of the Codex Justinianus, a codification of imperial constitutions from the 2nd century onward, was issued on 7 April 529. (The final version appeared in 534.) It was followed by the Digesta (or Pandectae), a compilation of older legal texts, in 533, and by the Institutiones, a textbook explaining the principles of law. The Novellae, a collection of new laws issued during Justinian's reign, supplements the Corpus. As opposed to the rest of the corpus, the Novellae appeared in Greek, the common language of the Eastern Empire.
The Corpus forms the basis of Latin jurisprudence (including ecclesiastical Canon Law) and, for historians, provides a valuable insight into the concerns and activities of the later Roman Empire. As a collection it gathers together the many sources in which the leges (laws) and the other rules were expressed or published: proper laws, senatorial consults (senatusconsulta), imperial decrees, case law, and jurists' opinions and interpretations (responsa prudentum).
Tribonian's code ensured the survival of Roman law. It formed the basis of later Byzantine law, as expressed in the Basilika of Basil I and Leo VI the Wise. The only western province where the Justinianic code was introduced was Italy (after the conquest, by the so-called Pragmatic Sanction of 554), from where it was to pass to Western Europe in the 12th century and become the basis of much European law code. It eventually passed to Eastern Europe where it appeared in Slavic editions, and it also passed on to Russia. It remains influential to this day.
In order to marry Theodora, he abolished the law which forbade actresses to marry men of senatorial class. He also passed laws to protect prostitutes from exploitation and women being forced into prostitution. Rapists were treated severely. Women charged with major crimes should be guarded by other women to prevent sexual abuse. After a woman got widowed, her dowry should be returned and a husband could not take on a major debt without his wife giving her consent twice.
 Nika riotsMain article: Nika riots
Justinian's habit of choosing efficient, but unpopular advisors nearly cost him his throne early in his reign. In January 532, partisans of the chariot racing factions in Constantinople, normally divided among themselves, united against Justinian in a revolt that has become known as the Nika riots. They forced him to dismiss Tribonian and two of his other ministers, and then attempted to overthrow Justinian himself and replace him by the senator Hypatius, who was a nephew of the late emperor Anastasius. While the crowd was rioting in the streets, Justinian considered fleeing the capital, but he remained in the city on the stirring words of Theodora (according to Procopius, she said "For an Emperor to become a fugitive is not a thing to be endured...I hold with the old saying that the purple makes an excellent shroud".) In the next two days, he ordered the brutal suppression of the riots by his generals Belisarius and Mundus. Procopius relates that 30,000 unarmed civilians were killed in the Hippodrome. On Theodora's insistence, and apparently against his own judgment, Justinian had Anastasius' nephews executed.
The destruction that had taken place during the revolt provided Justinian with an opportunity to tie his name to a series of splendid new buildings, most notably the architectural innovation of the domed Hagia Sophia.
 Military activities[show]v · d · e
Wars of Justinian I
Dara - Satala - Callinicum
Ad Decimum - Tricamarum
1st Rome - Faventia - 2nd Rome - 3rd Rome - Sena Gallica - Taginae - Mons Lactarius - Volturnus
One of the most spectacular features of Justinian's reign was the recovery of large stretches of land around the Western Mediterranean basin which had slipped out of imperial control in the 5th century. As a Christian Roman emperor, Justinian considered it his divine duty to restore the Roman Empire to its ancient boundaries. Although he never personally took part in military campaigns, he boasted of his successes in the prefaces to his laws and had them commemorated in art. The reconquests were in large part carried out by his general Belisarius.
 War with the Sassanid Empire, 527–532Main article: Iberian War
From his uncle, Justinian inherited ongoing hostilities with the Sassanid Empire. In 530 a Persian army was defeated at Dara, but the next year saw the defeat of Roman forces under Belisarius near Callinicum. When king Kavadh I of Persia died (September 531), Justinian concluded an "Eternal Peace" (which cost him 11,000 pounds of gold) with his successor Khosrau I (532). Having thus secured his eastern frontier, Justinian turned his attention to the West, where Arian Germanic kingdoms had been established in the territories of the former Western Roman Empire.
 Conquest of North Africa, 533–534Main article: Vandalic War
An older Justinian; mosaic in Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna (possibly a modified portrait of Theodoric).The first of the western kingdoms Justinian attacked was that of the Vandals in North Africa. King Hilderic, who had maintained good relations with Justinian and the North African Catholic clergy, had been overthrown by his cousin Gelimer in 530. Imprisoned, the deposed king appealed to Justinian.
In 533, Belisarius with a fleet of 92 dromons escorting 500 transports, landed at Caput Vada (modern Ras Kaboudia) in modern Tunisia with an army of about 15,000 men, as well as a number of barbarian troops. They defeated the Vandals, who were caught completely off-guard, at Ad Decimum on 14 September 533 and Tricamarum in December; Belisarius took Carthage. King Gelimer fled to Mount Pappua in Numidia, but surrendered the next spring. He was taken to Constantinople, where he was paraded in a triumph. Sardinia and Corsica, the Balearic Islands, and the stronghold Septem near Gibraltar were recovered in the same campaign.
An African prefecture, centered in Carthage, was established in April 534, but it would teeter on the brink of collapse during the next 15 years, amidst warfare with the Moors and military mutinies. The area was not completely pacified until 548, but remained peaceful thereafter and enjoyed a measure of prosperity. The recovery of Africa cost the empire about 100,000 pounds of gold.
 War in Italy, first phase, 535–540Main article: Gothic War (535–554)
As in Africa, dynastic struggles in Ostrogothic Italy provided an opportunity for intervention. The young king Athalaric had died on 2 October 534, and an usurper, Theodahad, had imprisoned queen Amalasuntha, Theodoric's daughter and mother of Athalaric, on the island of Martana in Lake Bolsena, where he had her assassinated in 535. Thereupon Belisarius with 7,500 men invaded Sicily (535) and advanced into Italy, sacking Naples and capturing Rome on 9 December 536. By that time Theodahad had been deposed by the Ostrogothic army, who had elected Vitigis as their new king. He gathered a large army and besieged Rome from February 537 to March 538 without being able to retake the city. Justinian sent another general, Narses, to Italy, but tensions between Narses and Belisarius hampered the progress of the campaign. Milan was taken, but was soon recaptured and razed by the Ostrogoths. Justinian recalled Narses in 539. By then the military situation had turned in favour of the Romans, and in 540 Belisarius reached the Ostrogothic capital Ravenna. There he was offered the title of Western Roman Emperor by the Ostrogoths at the same time that envoys of Justinian were arriving to negotiate a peace which would leave the region north of the Po River in Gothic hands. Belisarius feigned to accept the offer, entered the city in May 540, and reclaimed it for the Empire. Then, having been recalled by Justinian, Belisarius returned to Constantinople, taking the captured Vitigis and his wife Matasuntha with him.
 War with the Sassanid Empire, 540–562
Modern or early modern drawing of a medallion celebrating the reconquest of Africa, c. 535Belisarius had been recalled in the face of renewed hostilities by the Persians. Following a revolt against Byzantium in Armenia in the late 530s and possibly motivated by the pleas of Ostrogothic ambassadors, King Khosrau I broke the "Eternal Peace" and invaded Roman territory in the spring of 540. He first sacked Beroea and then Antioch (allowing the garrison of 6,000 men to leave the city), besieged Daras, and then went on to attack the small but strategically significant satellite kingdom of Lazica near the Black Sea, exacting tribute from the towns he passed along his way. He forced Justinian I to pay him 5,000 pounds of gold, plus 500 pounds of gold more each year.
Belisarius arrived in the East in 541, but, after some success, was again recalled to Constantinople in 542. The reasons for his withdrawal are not known, but it may have been instigated by rumours of disloyalty on behalf of the general reaching the court. The outbreak of the plague caused a lull in the fighting during the year 543. The following year Khosrau defeated a Byzantine army of 30,000 men, but unsuccessfully besieged the major city of Edessa. Both parties made little headway, and in 545 a truce was agreed upon for the southern part of the Roman-Persian frontier. After that the Lazic War in the North continued for several years, until a second truce in 557, followed by a Fifty Years' Peace in 562. Under its terms, the Persians agreed to abandon Lazica in exchange for an annual tribute of 400 or 500 pounds of gold (30,000 solidi) to be paid by the Romans.
 War in Italy, second phase, 541–554While military efforts were directed to the East, the situation in Italy took a turn for the worse. Under their respective kings Ildibad and Eraric (both murdered in 541) and especially Totila, the Ostrogoths made quick gains. After a victory at Faenza in 542, they reconquered the major cities of Southern Italy and soon held almost the entire peninsula. Belisarius was sent back to Italy late in 544, but lacked sufficient troops. Making no headway, he was relieved of his command in 548. Belisarius succeeded in defeating a Gothic fleet with 200 ships. During this period the city of Rome changed hands three more times, first taken and depopulated by the Ostrogoths in December 546, then reconquered by the Byzantines in 547, and then again by the Goths in January 550. Totila also plundered Sicily and attacked the Greek coastlines. Finally, Justinian dispatched a force of approximately 35,000 men (2,000 men were detached and sent to invade southern Visigothic Spain) under the command of Narses. The army reached Ravenna in June 552, and defeated the Ostrogoths decisively within a month at the battle of Busta Gallorum in the Apennines, where Totila was slain. After a second battle at Mons Lactarius in October that year, the resistance of the Ostrogoths was finally broken. In 554, a large-scale Frankish invasion was defeated at Casilinum, and Italy secured for the Empire, even though it would take Narses several years to reduce the remaining Gothic strongholds. At the end of the war, Italy was garrisoned with an army of 16,000 men. The recovery of Italy cost the empire about 300,000 pounds of gold.
 Other campaigns
Spanish Visigothic gold tremisses in the name of emperor Justinian I, 7th century. The Christian cross on the breast defines the Visigothic attribution. British Museum.In addition to the other conquests, the Eastern Empire established a presence in Visigothic Spain, when the usurper Athanagild requested assistance in his rebellion against king Agila. In 552, Justinian dispatched a force of 2,000 men under the octogenarian Liberius, who had served under the Ostrogoth kings of Italy since the 490s. The Byzantines took Cartagena and other cities on the southeastern coast and founded the new province of Spania before being checked by their former ally Athanagild, who had by now become king. This campaign marked the apogee of Byzantine expansion.
During Justinian's reign, the Balkans suffered from several incursions by the Turkic and Slavic peoples who lived north of the Danube. Here, Justinian resorted mainly to a combination of diplomacy and a system of defensive works. In 559 a particularly dangerous invasion of Sklavinoi and Kutrigurs under their khan Zabergan threatened Constantinople, but they were repulsed by the aged general Belisarius.
The enlargement of the Eastern Roman Empire's territory between the rise to power of Justinian (red, 527) and his death (orange, 565)Justinian's ambition to restore the Roman Empire to its former glory was only partly realised. In the West, the brilliant early military successes of the 530s were followed by years of stagnation. The dragging war with the Goths was a disaster for Italy, even though its long-lasting effects may have been less severe than is sometimes thought. The heavy taxes that the administration imposed upon its population were deeply resented. While the final victory in Italy and the conquest of the coast of southern Spain significantly enlarged the area over which Byzantium could project its power and influence, and while they must have contributed to the empire's prestige, most of the conquests proved ephemeral. The greater part of Italy would be lost to the invading Lombards three years after Justinian's death (568), the newly founded province of Spania was completely recovered by the Spanish Visigoths in 624 under the leadership of Suintila, and within a century and a half Africa would be forever lost for the empire to the Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates during the Muslim conquests.
Events of the later years of the reign showed that Constantinople itself was not safe from barbarian incursions from the north, and even the relatively benevolent historian Menander Protector felt the need to explain the emperor's failure to protect the capital from the weakness of his body in his old age. In his efforts to renew the old Roman Empire, Justinian dangerously stretched the resources of the Eastern Empire while failing to take into account the changed realities of 6th-century Europe. Paradoxically, the grand scale of Justinian's military successes probably contributed in part to the empire's subsequent decline.
 Religious activitiesJustinian saw the orthodoxy of his empire threatened by diverging religious currents, especially Monophysitism, which had many adherents in the eastern provinces of Syria and Egypt. Monophysite doctrine had been condemned as a heresy by the Council of Chalcedon in 451, and the tolerant policies towards Monophysitism of Zeno and Anastasius I had been a source of tension in the relationship with the bishops of Rome. Justin reversed this trend and confirmed the Chalcedonian doctrine, openly condemning the Monophysites. Justinian, who continued this policy, tried to impose religious unity on his subjects by forcing them to accept doctrinal compromises that might appeal to all parties, a policy which proved unsuccessful as he satisfied none of them. Near the end of his life, Justinian became ever more inclined towards the Monophysite doctrine, especially in the form of Aphthartodocetism, but he died before being able to issue any legislation which would have elevated its teachings to the status of dogma. The empress Theodora sympathised with the Monophysites and is said to have been a constant source of pro-Monophysite intrigues at the court in Constantinople in the earlier years. In the course of his reign Justinian, who had a genuine interest in matters of theology, authored a small number of theological treatises.
 Religious policy
Justinian I, depicted on an AE Follis coinAs with his secular administration, despotism appeared also in the emperor's ecclesiastical policy. He regulated everything, both in religion and in law.
At the very beginning of his reign, he deemed it proper to promulgate by law the Church's belief in the Trinity and the Incarnation; and to threaten all heretics with the appropriate penalties; whereas he subsequently declared that he intended to deprive all disturbers of orthodoxy of the opportunity for such offense by due process of law. He made the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan creed the sole symbol of the Church, and accorded legal force to the canons of the four ecumenical councils. The bishops in attendance at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 recognized that nothing could be done in the Church contrary to the emperor's will and command; while, on his side, the emperor, in the case of the Patriarch Anthimus, reinforced the ban of the Church with temporal proscription. Justinian protected the purity of the church by suppressing heretics. He neglected no opportunity for securing the rights of the Church and clergy, for protecting and extending monasticism. He granted the monks the right to inherit property from private citizens and the right to receive solemnia or annual gifts from the imperial treasury or from the taxes of certain provinces and he prohibited lay confiscation on monastic estates.
Although the despotic character of his measures is contrary to modern sensibilities, he was indeed a "nursing father" of the Church. Both the Codex and the Novellae contain many enactments regarding donations, foundations, and the administration of ecclesiastical property; election and rights of bishops, priests and abbots; monastic life, residential obligations of the clergy, conduct of divine service, episcopal jurisdiction, etc. Justinian also rebuilt the Church of Hagia Sophia (which cost 20,000 pounds of gold), the original site having been destroyed during the Nika riots. The new Hagia Sophia, with its numerous chapels and shrines, gilded octagonal dome, and mosaics, became the centre and most visible monument of Eastern Orthodoxy in Constantinople.
 Religious relations with RomeFrom the middle of the fifth century onward increasingly arduous tasks confronted the emperors of the East in ecclesiastical matters. For one thing, the radicals on all sides felt themselves constantly repelled by the creed adopted by the Council of Chalcedon to defend the biblical doctrine of the nature of Christ and bridge the gap between the dogmatic parties. The letter of Pope Leo I to Flavian of Constantinople was widely considered in the East as the work of Satan; so that nobody cared to hear of the Church of Rome. The emperors, however, had a policy of preserving the unity between Constantinople and Rome; and this remained possible only if they did not swerve from the line defined at Chalcedon. In addition, the factions in the East which had become stirred up and disaffected because of Chalcedon needed restraining and pacifying. This problem proved the more difficult because, in the East, the dissenting groups exceeded supporters of Chalcedon both in numerical strength and in intellectual ability. Tension from the incompatibility of the two aims grew: whoever chose Rome and the West must renounce the East, and vice versa.
Consular diptych displaying Justinian's full name (Constantinople 521)Justinian entered the arena of ecclesiastical statecraft shortly after his uncle's accession in 518, and put an end to the Monophysite schism that had prevailed between Rome and Constantinople since 483. The recognition of the Roman see as the highest ecclesiastical authority remained the cornerstone of his Western policy. Offensive as it was to many in the East, nonetheless Justinian felt himself entirely free to take a Despotic stance toward the popes such as Silverius and Vigilius. While no compromise could ever be accepted by the dogmatic wing of the church, his sincere efforts at reconciliation gained him the approval of the major body of the church. A signal proof was his attitude in the Theopaschite controversy. At the outset he was of the opinion that the question turned on a quibble of words. By degrees, however, Justinian came to understand that the formula at issue not only appeared orthodox, but might also serve as a conciliatory measure toward the Monophysites, and he made a vain attempt to do this in the religious conference with the followers of Severus of Antioch, in 533.
Again, Justinian moved toward compromise in the religious edict of 15 March 533, and congratulated himself that Pope John II admitted the orthodoxy of the imperial confession. The serious blunder that he had made at the beginning by abetting a severe persecution of the Monophysite bishops and monks and thereby embittering the population of vast regions and provinces, he remedied eventually. His constant aim now remained to win over the Monophysites, yet not to surrender the Chalcedonian faith. For many at court, he did not go far enough: Theodora especially would have rejoiced to see the Monophysites favored unreservedly. Justinian, however, felt restrained by the complications that would have ensued with the West. But in the condemnation of the Three Chapters Justinian tried to satisfy both the East and the West, but succeeded in satisfying neither. Although the pope assented to the condemnation, the West believed that the emperor had acted contrary to the decrees of Chalcedon. Though many delegates emerged in the East subservient to Justinian, many, especially the Monophysites, remained unsatisfied; all the more bitter for him because during his last years he took an even greater interest in theological matters.
 Suppression of religions
Justinian was one of the first emperors to be depicted wielding the cross on the obverse of a coin.Justinian's religious policy reflected the imperial conviction that the unity of the Empire unconditionally presupposed unity of faith; and it appeared to him obvious that this faith could be only the Orthodox (Nicaean). Those of a different belief had to recognize that the process of consolidation, which imperial legislation had effected from the time of Constantius II, would now vigorously continue. The Codex contained two statutes which decreed the total destruction of paganism, even in private life; these provisions were zealously enforced. Contemporary sources (John Malalas, Theophanes, John of Ephesus) tell of severe persecutions, even of men in high position.
Perhaps the most noteworthy event occurred in 529 when the Neoplatonic Academy of Athens was placed under state control by order of Justinian, effectively strangling this training-school for Hellenism. Paganism was actively suppressed. In Asia Minor alone, John of Ephesus claimed to have converted 70,000 pagans. Other peoples also accepted Christianity: the Heruli, the Huns dwelling near the Don, the Abasgi, and the Tzanni in Caucasia.
The worship of Amun at Augila in the Libyan desert was abolished; and so were the remnants of the worship of Isis on the island of Philae, at the first cataract of the Nile. The Presbyter Julian and the Bishop Longinus conducted a mission among the Nabataeans, and Justinian attempted to strengthen Christianity in Yemen by despatching a bishop from Egypt.
The Jews were also persecuted, their civil rights were restricted and their religious privileges threatened. Justinian also interfered in the internal affairs of the synagogue. However, he did not violently persecute the Jews, but nevertheless encouraged them to use the Greek Septuagint in their synagogues in Constantinople.
The emperor had much trouble with the Samaritans, resisting conversion to Christianity and repeatedly in insurrection. He opposed them with rigorous edicts, but yet could not prevent hostilities towards Christians from taking place in Samaria toward the close of his reign. The consistency of Justinian's policy meant that the Manicheans too suffered severe persecution, experiencing both exile and threat of capital punishment. At Constantinople, on one occasion, not a few Manicheans, after strict inquisition, were executed in the emperor's very presence: some by burning, others by drowning.
 Building activities, learning, art and literatureJustinian was a prolific builder; the historian Procopius bears witness to his activities in this area. Under Justinian's patronage the San Vitale in Ravenna, which features two famous mosaics representing Justinian and Theodora, was completed. Most notably, he had the Hagia Sophia, originally a basilica style church that had been burnt down during the Nika riots, splendidly rebuilt according to a completely different ground plan, under the architectural supervision of Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles. According to Procopius, Justinian stated at the completion of this edifice, "Solomon I have outdone thee" (in reference to the 1st Jewish temple). This new cathedral, with its magnificent dome filled with mosaics, remained the centre of eastern Christianity for centuries. Another prominent church in the capital, the Church of the Holy Apostles, which had been in a very poor state near the end of the 5th century, was likewise rebuilt. Works of embellishment were not confined to churches alone: excavations at the site of the Great Palace of Constantinople have yielded several high-quality mosaics dating from Justinian's reign, and a column topped by a bronze statue of Justinian on horseback and dressed in a military costume was erected in the Augustaeum in Constantinople in 543. Rivalry with other, more established patrons from the Constantinopolitan and exiled Roman aristocracy (like Anicia Juliana) may have enforced Justinian's building activities in the capital as a means of strengthening his dynasty's prestige.
Justinian also strengthened the borders of the empire from Africa to the East through the construction of fortifications, and ensured Constantinople of its water supply through construction of underground cisterns. To prevent floods from damaging the strategically important border town Dara, an advanced arch dam was built. During his reign the large Sangarius Bridge was built in Bithynia, securing a major military supply route to the east. Furthermore, Justinian restored cities damaged by earthquake or war and built a new city near his place of birth called Justiniana Prima, which was intended to replace Thessalonica as the political and religious center of the Illyricum.
In Justinian's era, and partly under his patronage, Byzantine culture produced noteworthy historians, including Procopius and Agathias, and poets such as Paul the Silentiary and Romanus the Melodist flourished during his reign. On the other hand, centers of learning as the Platonic Academy in Athens and the famous law school of Beirut lost their importance during his reign. Despite Justinian's passion for the glorious Roman past, the practice of choosing Roman consul was allowed to lapse after 541.
 Economy and administrationFurther information: Byzantine silk
Gold coin of Justinian I (527-565 CE) excavated in India probably in the south, an example of Indo-Roman trade during the period.As was the case under Justinian's predecessors, the empire's economic health rested primarily on agriculture. In addition, long-distance trade flourished, reaching as far north as Cornwall where tin was exchanged for Roman wheat. Within the empire, convoys sailing from Alexandria provided Constantinople with wheat and grains. Justinian made the traffic more efficient by building a large granary on the island of Tenedos for storage and further transport to Constantinople. Justinian also tried to find new routes for the eastern trade, which was suffering badly from the wars with the Persians. One important luxury product was silk, which was imported and then processed in the empire. In order to protect the manufacture of silk products, Justinian granted a monopoly to the imperial factories in 541. In order to bypass the Persian landroute, Justinian established friendly relations with the Abyssinians, whom he wanted to act as trade mediators by transporting Indian silk to the empire; the Abyssinians, however, were unable to compete with the Persian merchants in India. Then, in the early 550s, two monks succeeded in smuggling eggs of silk worms from Central Asia back to Constantinople, and silk became an indigenous Byzantine product.
Gold and silver were mined in the Balkans, Anatolia, Armenia,Cyprus, Egypt and Nubia.
Scene from daily life on a mosaic from the Great Palace of Constantinople, early 6th centuryAt the start of Justinian I's reign he had inherited a surplus 28,800,000 solidi (400,000 pounds of gold) in the imperial treasury from Anastasius I and Justin I. Under Justinian's rule, measures were taken to counter corruption in the provinces and to make tax collection more efficient. Greater administrative power was given to both the leaders of the prefectures and of the provinces, while power was taken away from the vicariates of the dioceses, of which a number were abolished. The overall trend was towards a simplification of administrative infrastructure. According to Brown (1971), the increased professionalisation of tax collection did much to destroy the traditional structures of provincial life, as it weakened the autonomy of the town councils in the Greek towns. It has been estimated that before Justinian I's reconquests the state had an annual revenue of 5,000,000 solidi in AD 530, but after his reconquests, the annual revenue was increased to 6,000,000 solidi in AD 550.
Throughout Justinian's reign, the cities and villages of the East prospered, although Antioch was struck by two earthquakes (526, 528) and sacked and evacuated by the Persians (540). Justinian had the city rebuilt, but on a slightly smaller scale. Some consider Justinian the "Last of the Romans," for he is the last Roman emperor to speak Latin.
Despite all these measures, the empire suffered several major setbacks in the course of the 6th century. The first one was the plague, which lasted from 541 to 543 and, by decimating the empire's population, probably created a scarcity of labour and a rising of wages. The lack of manpower also led to a significant increase in the number of "barbarians" in the Byzantine armies after the early 540s. The protracted war in Italy and the wars with the Persians themselves laid a heavy burden on the empire's resources, and Justinian was criticized for curtailing the government-run post service, which he limited to only one eastern route of military importance.
Theodora (c. 500 - June 28 548), was empress of the Roman (Byzantine) Empire and the wife of Emperor Justinian I. Like her husband, she is a saint in the Orthodox Church, commemorated on November 14. Theodora is perhaps the most influential and powerful woman in the empire's history.
The main historical sources for her life are the works of her contemporary Procopius, scribe for General Belisarius. However the historian has offered three contradictory portrayals of the Empress. The Wars of Justinian, largely completed in 545, paints a picture of a courageous and influential empress.
Later he wrote the Secret History, which was not published at the time. The work revealed an author who had become deeply disillusioned with the emperor Justinian, the empress, and even his patron Belisarius. Justinian is depicted as cruel, venal, prodigal and incompetent; as for Theodora, the reader is treated to a detailed and titillating portrayal of vulgarity and insatiable lust, combined with shrewish and calculating mean-spiritedness; Procopius even claims both are demons whose heads were seen to leave their bodies and roam the palace at night. Yet much of the work covers the same time period as The Wars of Justinian.
The Buildings of Justinian, written about the same time as the Secret History, is a panegyric which paints Justinian and Theodora as a pious couple and presents particularly flattering portrayals of them. Besides her piety, her beauty is excessively praised. Although Theodora was dead when this work was published, Justinian was very much alive, and probably commissioned the work.
Her contemporary John of Ephesus writes about Theodora in his Lives of the Eastern Saints. He mentions an illegitimate daughter not named by Procopius.
Various other historians presented additional information on her life. Theophanes the Confessor mentions some familial relations of Theodora to figures not mentioned by Procopius. Victor Tonnennensis notes her familial relation to the next empress, Sophia. Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopoulos traces her origin to Cyprus. Patria, attributed to George Codinus, claims Theodora came from Paphlagonia.
Michael the Syrian, the Chronicle of 1234 and Bar-Hebraeus place her origin in the city of Daman, near Kallinikos, Syria. They contradict Procopius by making Theodora the daughter of a priest, trained in the pious practices of Monophysitism since birth. These are late Miaphysite sources and record her depiction among members of their creed. The Miaphysites have tended to regard Theodora as one of their own and the tradition may have been invented as a way to improve her reputation and are also in conflict with what is told by the contemporary Miaphysite historian John of Ephesus. These accounts are thus usually ignored in favor of Procopius.
 Early yearsTheodora, according to Michael Grant, was of Greek Cypriot descent. There are several indications of her possible birthplace. According to Michael the Syrian her birthplace was in Syria; Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopoulos names Theodora a native of Cyprus, while the Patria claims Theodora came from Paphlagonia.
Her father, Acacius, was a bear trainer of the hippodrome's Blue faction in Constantinople. Her mother, whose name is not recorded, was a dancer and an actress. Her parents had two more daughters. After her father's death, her mother brought her children wearing garlands into the hippodrome and presented them as suppliants to the Blue faction. From then on Theodora would be their supporter.
Both John of Ephesus and Procopius (in his Secret History) relate that Theodora from an early age followed her sister Komito's example and worked in a Constantinople brothel serving low-status customers; later she performed on stage. Lynda Garland in "Byzantine Empresses: Women and Power in Byzantium, AD 527-1204" notes that there seems to be little reason to believe she worked out of a brothel "managed by a pimp". Employment as an actress at the time would include both "indecent exhibitions on stage" and providing sexual services off stage. In what Garland calls the "sleazy entertainment business in the capital", Theodora would earn her living by a combination of her theatrical and sexual skills. Theodora made a name for herself with her portrayal of Leda and the Swan, where she stripped off her clothes as far as the law allowed, lying on her back while some attendants scattered barley on her groin and then some geese picked up the barley with their bills. She also entertained notables at banquets and accepted a multitude of lovers.
During this time she met Antonina, with whom she would remain lifelong friends.
Procopius mentions that during her time as a prostitute, Theodora was familiar with all the methods to induce an abortion.
At the age of 16, she traveled to North Africa as the companion of a Syrian official named Hecebolus when he went to the Libyan Pentapolis as governor. She stayed with him for almost four years before returning to Constantinople. Abandoned and maltreated by Hecebolus, on her way back to the capital of the Byzantine Empire, she settled for a while in Alexandria, Egypt. She is said to have met Patriarch Timothy III in Alexandria, who was Monophysite, and it was at that time that she converted to Monophysite Christianity. From Alexandria she went to Antioch, where she met a Blue faction's dancer, Macedonia, who was perhaps an informer of Justinian.
She returned to Constantinople in 522 and gave up her former lifestyle, settling as a wool spinner in a house near the palace. Her beauty, wit and amusing character drew attention from Justinian, who wanted to marry her. However, he could not: He was heir of the throne of his uncle, Emperor Justin I, and a Roman law from Constantine's time prevented government officials from marrying actresses. Empress Euphemia, who liked Justinian and ordinarily refused him nothing, was against his wedding with an actress. However, Justin was fond of Theodora. In 525, when Euphemia had died, Justin repealed the law, and Justinian managed to marry Theodora. By this point, she already had a daughter (whose name has been lost). Justinian apparently treated the daughter and the daughter's son Athanasius as fully legitimate, although sources disagree whether Justinian was the girl's father.
 Ascent to the Byzantine throneJustinian was crowned augustus (emperor) and Theodora augusta on April 4 527, giving them control of the Byzantine Empire. A contemporary official, Joannes Laurentius Lydus, remarked that she was "superior in intelligence to any man". Justinian clearly recognized this as well, allowing her to share his throne and take active part in decision making. As Justinian writes, he consulted Theodora when he promulgated a constitution that included reforms meant to end corruption by public officials.
The imperial status of Theodora also proved profitable for her relatives. Her sister Comito became the wife of a rising young officer, Sittas, though he was to die young while campaigning in Armenia. Her niece Sophia married the nephew of Justinian, Justin II, who succeeded his uncle as emperor in 565.
 Partnership in power
Empress Theodora and attendants (mosaic from Basilica of San Vitale, 6th century).Theodora proved herself a worthy and able leader during the Nika riots. There were two rival political factions in the Empire, the Blues and the Greens, which started a riot stemming from many grievances in January 532, during a chariot race in the hippodrome. The rioters set many public buildings on fire, including the Hagia Sophia, and proclaimed a new emperor, Hypatius, the nephews of former emperor Anastasius I. Unable to control the mob, Justinian and his officials prepared to flee. At a meeting of the government council, Theodora spoke out against leaving the palace and underlined the significance of someone who died as a ruler instead of living as nothing. Her determined speech convinced them all. As a result, Justinian ordered his loyal troops led by two reliable officers, Belisarius and Mundus, to attack the demonstrators in the hippodrome. His generals attacked the hippodrome, killing (according to Procopius) over 30,000 rebels. Hypatius was also put to death. Historians agree that it was Theodora's courage and decisiveness that saved Justinian's reign.
Following the Nika revolt, Justinian and Theodora rebuilt and reformed Constantinople and made it the most splendid city the world had seen for centuries, building or rebuilding aqueducts, bridges and more than twenty five churches. The greatest of these is Hagia Sophia, considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and one of the architectural wonders of the world.
Theodora was punctilious about court ceremony. According to Procopius, the Imperial couple made all senators, including patricians, prostrate themselves before them whenever they entered their presence, and made it clear that their relations with the civil militia were those of masters and slaves. They also carefully supervised the magistrates, much more so than previous emperors, possibly to reduce bureaucratic corruption. Theodora also created her own centers of power. The eunuch Narses, who in old age developed into a brilliant general, was her protege, and so was the praetorian prefect Peter Barsymes. John the Cappadocian, Justinian's chief tax collector, was identified as her enemy, because of his independent influence.
Theodora participated in Justinian's legal and spiritual reforms, and her involvement in the increase of the rights of women was substantial. She had laws passed that prohibited forced prostitution and closed brothels. She created a convent on the Asian side of the Dardanelles called the Metanoia (Repentance), where the ex-prostitutes could support themselves. She also expanded the rights of women in divorce and property ownership, instituted the death penalty for rape, forbade exposure of unwanted infants, gave mothers some guardianship rights over their children, and forbade the killing of a wife who committed adultery. Procopius wrote that she was naturally inclined to assist women in misfortune.
 Religious policy
Bust of a Byzantine empress, possibly Theodora. 6th century. Museum of Ancient Art in the Castello Sforzesco in Milan, Italy.Theodora worked against her husband's support of Chalcedonian Christianity in the ongoing struggle for the predominance of each faction. In spite of Justinian being Orthodox Christian, Theodora founded a Monophysite monastery in Sykae and provided shelter in the palace for Monophysite leaders who faced opposition from the majority Orthodox Christians, like Severus and Anthimus. Anthimus, had been appointed Patriarch of Constantinople under her influence, and after the excommunication order he was hidden in Theodora's quarters for twelve years, until her death. When the Chalcedonian Patriarch Ephraim provoked a violent revolt in Antioch, eight Monophysite bishops were invited to Constantinople and Theodora welcomed them and housed them in the Hormisdas Palace adjoining the Great Palace, which had been Justinian and Theodora's own dwelling before they became emperor and empress.
In Egypt, when Timothy III died, Theodora enlisted the help of Dioscoros the Augustal Prefect and Aristomachos the duke of Egypt, to facilitate the enthronement of a disciple of Severus, Theodosius, thereby outmaneuvering her husband who had been plotting for a Catholic successor as patriarch. But Pope Theodosius I of Alexandria, even with the help of imperial troops, could not hold his ground in Alexandria against the Julianists and when he was exiled by Justinian along with 300 Monophysites to the fortress of Delcus in Thrace, Theodora rescued him and brought him to the Hormisdas Palace where he lived under her protection, and after her death in 548, under Justinian's.
When Pope Silverius refused Theodora's demand that he remove the anathema of Pope Agapetus I from Anthimus, she sent Belisarius instructions to find a pretext to remove Silverius. When this was accomplished, Virgilius was appointed in his stead.
Conclusively, Theodora's policy on theological matters was separatist. One could argue, as the Chalcedonians did, that Theodora fostered heresy and thus undermined the unity of Christendom. But it would be equally fair to say that Theodora's policy delayed the alienation of the eastern church, and might have postponed it indefinitely but for external events she could not control or foresee.
Another incident, which shows how far Theodora could go to thwart her husband on religious matters, is the case of Nobatae, south of Egypt, whose inhabitants were converted to Monophysite Christianity about 540. Justinian had been determined that they be converted to the Chalcedonian faith and Theodora equally determined that they should be Monophysites. Justinian made arrangements for Chalcedonian missionaries from Thebaid to go with presents to Silko, the king of the Nobatae. But on hearing this, Theodora prepared her own missionaries and wrote to the duke of Thebaid that he should delay her husband's embassy so that the Monophysite missionaries should arrive first; otherwise he would pay for it with his life. The duke was canny enough to thwart the easygoing Justinian instead of the unforgiving Theodora. He saw to it that the Chalcedonian missionaries were delayed. When they eventually reached Silko, they were sent away, for the Nobatae had already adopted the Monophysite creed of Theodosius.
The Empress Theodora at the Colosseum, oil painting by Jean-Joseph Benjamin-ConstantTheodora died of an unspecified cancer on June 28 548 before the age of 50, 17 years before Justinian. Her body was buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles, in Constantinople. Though it has been argued that the sole source for her illness, Victor of Tonnena, may not use the word "cancer" in its modern medical sense, yet cancer seems to be best guess. (There is no documentation to suggest that she died of breast cancer, as some scholars have suggested.) Justinian wept bitterly at her funeral.
Both Theodora and Justinian are represented in mosaics that exist to this day in the Basilica of San Vitale of Ravenna, Italy, which was completed a year before her death.
 Lasting InfluenceHer influence on Justinian was so strong that after her death, he worked to bring harmony between the Monophysites and the Orthodox Christians in the Empire, and he kept his promise to protect her little community of Monophysite refugees in the Hormisdas Palace. Theodora provided much political support for the ministry of Jacob Baradaeus, and apparently personal friendship as well. Diehl attributes the modern existence of Jacobite Christianity equally to Baradaeus and to Theodora.
Theodora is considered a great female figure of the Byzantine Empire, and a pioneer of feminism, because of the laws she passed, increasing the rights of women. As a result of Theodora's efforts, the status of women in the Byzantine Empire was elevated far above that of women in the Middle East and the rest of Europe.
Olbia in Cyrenaica renamed itself Theodorias after Theodora. (It was a common event that ancient cities renamed themselves to honor an emperor or empress.) The city, now called Qasr Libya, is known for its splendid sixth-century mosaics.
Lecture 5a: Byzantium, continued
Euclid's Voyage, by Ralph H. Abraham M181 S94 5 Tu 3 May 94
Unlike Alexandria, a certain amount of Byzantium was saved as they modernized the city into present-day Istanbul. Old Alexandria is completely paved over by new Alexandria. I've never been to Istanbul, but I guess you could actually take a tour of the earliest churches of Christendom. We're going on to Bagdad today, but as I don't feel that I've successfully evoked the spirit of Byzantium yet, I will read you a story that will give you a better feeling for that culture. Byzantium is not well known in our culture, and the study of the art history and political and military history and so on of the Byzantine empire is a new enterprise, therefore there's not a great deal of literature. But here is one of the pioneering historiographers of the Byzantine empresses: French historian Charlotte Diehl has written a book as kind of a hobby about Byzantine empresses. I've chosen a chapter on Theodora, who was the empress at the time. The main focus is Euclid and events around Euclid in Byzantium.
In the early years of the 6th century, the notoriety of the actress and dancer Theodora was widespread throughout Constantinople. Little is known of her origins. Some of the later chroniclers say that she was born in Cypress, the hot passionate land of Aphrodite. Others with greater likelihood bring her from Syria. But whatever her birthplace, she came while still a child to Byzantium with her parents, and it was in the corrupt and turbulent capital that her youth was spent. Her family, equally obscure, is a legend. Out of reverence for the imperial rank which she attained, she is given an illustrious, or at least presentable, ancestry in the person of a steady and respectable father of senatorial rank. As a matter of fact, she seems to have been of humbler origin. Her father, if the secret history may be trusted, was a poor man named Acasius, by profession guardian of the bears in the amphitheatre. Her mother was no better than she should be, like many connected with the stage and the circus.
Into this professional household, two daughters were born, the second a future empress about the year 500. Early in life, Theodora came into contact with the people whom she was later to charm as an actress before governing as empress. Acasius had died, leaving his widow and his two daughters in very straightened circumstances. To retain her late husband's position, the family's only means of support, the mother found no better way than to take up with another man who should obtain the guardianship of the bears, and therefore look after the family and the animals. But the success of her plan depended upon the consent of Astarius, the head of the Greens, and Astarius had accepted money to support a rival candidate. In order to overcome opposition, Theodora's mother thought she might be able to interest the people in her cause, and one day, when the crowd was assembled, she appeared in the arena, thrusting before her her two little daughters.
The crowd threw flowers and she held out their hands in supplication to the spectators. The Greens merely laughed at the touching request. But fortunately, the Blues, who were always delighted to oppose their adversaries, hastened to grant the prayer which the Greens refused, and awarded Acasius' family an employment similar to that which it had lost. Theodora never forgot the scornful indifference with which the Greens had received her and Trudy[?], and from that moment began in the child the tendency toward long cherished rancor and the implacable desire for vengeance, which became so strong in the woman.
Thus Theodora grew up in the casual society of the hippodrome, and in the course of time was ready for her future career. The eldest of her sisters had made a success on the stage and Theodora followed in her footsteps. She went on the (?) with her big sister and played the part of ladies maid. She also accompanied her to entertainments where in the mixed company of the more public apartments she came across much impurity and indiscrete familiarity. Then she in her turn became a full-fledged actress, but she had no desire to be a flute player, a singer or a dancer like some of the others. She preferred to appear in living pictures in which she could display undraped the beauty of which she was so proud and in pantomines where her vivacity and her feeling for comedy could have full scope. She was pretty and rather small but extraordinarily graceful and her charming face with its pale creamy coloring was livened up by large, vivacious, sparkling eyes.
Little of this all-powerful charm is left in her official picture inside the Tower of Rivana. Beneath her imperial mantle she appears stiff and tall, under the diadem that hides her forehead, her delicate small face and the narrow oval shape, and her large, thin, straight nose invests her with a sort of solemn gravity, almost with melancholy. One feature alone remains unaltered in this faded portrait, and that is the beautiful black eyes that Procorpius speaks of under the harried meeting eyebrows which still illumine her face and seem almost to engulf it. But Theodora had something else beside her beauty. She was intelligent, witty and amusing. She had bohemian high spirits which were often exerted at the expense of her fellow actresses, and a pleasing and comic way with her that kept even the most volatile adorers firmly attached. She was not always kindly and did not stop at hard words if they would provoke a laugh, but when she wanted to please, she knew how to put forth irresistible powers of fascination. Bold, enterprising and audacious with all, she was not content to wait for favor to seek her out, but set forth consciously to joyously provoke and encourage it. And having but little moral sense, it was difficult to see where she could have acquired it, as well as a (?) degree, the perfect amorous temperament. She became an immediate success both without and within the theatre. Beyond her profession, of which virtue is not a necessary attribute, she (?), charmed and scandalized Constantinople.
On the stage she indulged in the most audicious exhibitions and the most immodest affects. (?) she soon became celebrated for her wild suppers, her adventuresomeness, and the number of her lovers. Soon she became so compromised that respectable people passing her in the street drew aside lest they should sully themselves by contact with a creature so impure, and the very fact of meeting her was considered an ill omen. At this time she was not yet 20 years of age. Suddenly she disappeared. She had a Syrian lover, Hekabulus by name, who was appointed governor of the African Pentabeles. Theodora decided to accompany him to his distant province. The romance, unfortunately, did not last long. For reasons unknown Hekabulus rudely sent her away penniless and without the necessities of life. The unfortunate Theodora for some time roamed all the East in misery. In Alexandria at last, she settled down for a while and her sojourn there was not without its effect upon her future.
The capital of Egypt was not merely a great commercial center, a rich and splendid city of loose habits, corrupt, the favorite abode of many celebrated courtesans. From the (?), it was also one of the capitals of Christianity. Nowhere else were religious quarrels more bitter nor theological disputes more subtle and heated, nor fanaticism more easily excited. Nowhere else had the memory of the great founders of the solitary life produced a richer flowering of monasteries, of mystics, and of ascetics. The suburbs of Alexandria were studded with religious houses, and the Lybian desert was so full of hermits as to be (?) its name, Desert of the Saints. In her moral distress, Theodora was not insensitive to the influence of the sphere into which circumstances had cast her. She had (pierced?) such holy men as the patriarch Timothy and Thedeus of Antioch, who preached especially to women, and it is not improbable that owing to them the penitent courtesan may, momentarily at least, have entered upon a purer and more Christian mode of life.
By the time of her return to Constantinople, she had become more sensible, more mature, and was weary of her wandering existence and of her wild adventures. Whether sincerely or not, she was careful to lead a more virtuous retired life. According to one tradition she was respectable and proper and lived in an unpretentious little house, staying at home and spinning, like (Matrix?) did in those Roman times. It was under these circumstances that she met Justinian. We cannot tell how much she managed to enslave and hold this man--no longer young, he was nearly 40--this politician in so delicate a situation with a future which must not be compromised. Precorpius talks of magic and philters, but that really complicates matters too much and leaves out of account the consumate intelligence, easy grace, humor and wit with which Theodora had conquered so many hearts. Above all it omits her clear, inflexible courage that was to influence so powerfully her lover's feeble and undecided character.
In all events, we know that the prince was comletely enslaved. They were madly in love. He refused his mistress nothing. She was fond of many, so he mated her with (?). She coveted honor and distinctions, so he persuaded his uncle the emporer to raise her to the high rank of patrician. She was ambitious and keen for power, so he allowed himself to be swayed by her advice and by the (?) instrument of her likes and of her hates. Soon he came to the point of insisting upon marriage. The good emporer Justin was not ruined (?) by her lack of noble birth and did not seem to have grudged his consent to his beloved nephew. The opposition to Justinian's scheme came from an unexpected corner. In her present mind, the (?) common sense of the Empress Eugenia was shocked at the thought of having Theodora as her successor, and in spite of all her affection for her nephew, in spite of her usual compliance with his every wish, on this point she stood firm. Though fortunately she died in 523 in the nick of time. Henceforth (?) just plain (?). Senators and high dignitaries were forbidden by law to marry women of such vile condition, inkeeper's daughters, actresses or courtesans.
To please Justinian, Justin abregated this law. He went even further when in April 527 he associated his nephew, Justinian, with him officially in the imperial power. Theodora shared in her husband's elevation and triumph. With him on Easter Day in St. Sophia, which we have just seen gleaming with candlelight, she was solemnly crowned. Afterward, according to the custom of Byzantine soverence, she went to the Hippodrome and received the acclamations of the people at the place where she had made her first public appearance. Her dream had come true. Such is the story of Theodora's youth. At least, that is how Precorpius tells it. And for some two centuries and a half, since the discovery of the manuscript of the secret history, this scandalous narrative has received almost universal credence. Must it therefore be accepted without reserve? A pamphlet is not history and (?) will inquire into the truth of these amazing adventures. Given the (?) that no one would invent such incredible things and that therefore they must be true. Of late years, on the other hand, intelligent scholars have at various times doubted the authority of Precorpius' unsupported statements and have made serious talk of the Theodora legend. Without wishing to reopen the question, or to belittle the value of some of the comments that have been made, I should hesitate to whitewash too thoroughly her whom the secret history has so outrageously blackened.
It is a pity that John Bishop of Athesis, who had access to Theodora and knew her well should, out of respect for the great ones of the earth, have omitted to give us full particulars concerning the (?) which the pious but (?) outspoken monks more than once, so he tells us, directed against the Empress. It is certain by all events that Precorpius was not alone among her contemporaries in criticizing her and that there were persons attached to the imperial court, such as the secretary Briscus and the prefect John of Capadocia, who knew the chinks in her armor. I do not know whether, as Precorpius states, she really had decided to use these (?), it appears such an unfortunate accident. It is certain at all events that she had a daughter of whom Justinian was not the father. This reminder of her sordid past did not seem, however, if you may judge by its success that this girl's (?) had at court, either to have (?) very much, or to have troubled the emporer. It is certain that Theodora's characteristics fit in fairly well with the stories that are told about her youth: the interest she took in poor girls in the capitol who had been led astray, more often through want than through viciousness, and the steps she took to rescue these unfortunates and to free them, as a contemporary writer puts it, "from the yoke of their shameful slavery," and also the rather contentuous harshness with which she always treated men, and if all this that is undeniable is admitted, it would be impossible to reject the secret history in its entirety.
But I was also obliged to believe that Theodora's adventures had the (?) and the variety that Precorpius invests them with, that she was, as in his account, a courtesan on a heroic scale, an angel of evil whom the devil permitted to go flaunting her life to and fro upon the rest. It must not be forgotten that Precorpius has a habit of investing his characters with an almost epic perversity and that although he tries hard to determine to a hair's breadth the lowest point to which Theodora fell, I for my my part regard her, though her interest may thereby be diminished, as the heroine of a less extraordinary tale. She was a dancer who had led the same life as the majority of her commonal agents, tired suddenly of her precarious amours, and finding a sensible man who could provide her with a home, settled down to married life and conjugal devotion, adventurous perhaps but at the same time astute, quiet and cleverness, she was able to keep up appearances, one who could marry even a future emporer without a (?) scandal. (?), I know, created just such a character and named her (Virginia Caramel), but it was not just Theodora who is of importance to us, for there is another, a less well known and a far more interesting Theodora, a great empress closely associated in all Justinian's works, who often played a decisive part in the government, a woman of high courage, of exceptional intelligence, energetic, despotic, proud, violent, passionate, complex, baffling, but always extraordinarily fascinating.
In the (?) from the Tower at Ravena, (?) the golden mosaics, we may still see Theodora in all the splendor of her majesty. The costume she is wearing is of unparalleled magnificance. Clad in a long purple violet mantle, with a broad border of gold embroidery flowering and glistening (?), she wears on her oiled head a lofty diadem of gold and precious stones. In and out through her hair are wound twisted strands of gems and pearls, while other jewels fall in sparkling sprays upon her shoulders. Thus she appears in this official portrait to the eyes of posterity and thus in her lifetime she desired to appear to her contemporaries. Seldom has upstart accustomed herself more rapidly to the exigencies of her newly acquired majesty. Seldom has (?) and sovereign loved and appreciated more thoroughly the many pleasures, the delights of luxury, and the little gratifications of pride which the exercise of supreme power can bestow. Very (?), always elegant, eager to please, she loved sensuous apartments, magnificant plays, marvelous jewels, and exquisite and delicate (?). She took careful and constant care of her beauty. To keep her face kind and serene, she lengthened her hours of sleep by endless siestas. To preserve the freshness of her complexion, she took frequent baths followed by long hours of rest, so she felt that her charm was the surest guarantee of her influence. Even though tenaciously (?) the circumstances of power, she would have her own court, her own following, her own guides and processions. Like the upstart she was, she loved the complications of (ceremonial?) and added to them. To win her approval, one had to be constantly paying court to her, to prostrate oneself at her feet, to dance the (?) interminably every day for (?) to get her hours of audience. Her theatrical experience had given her a taste for stage effects as well as the knowledge of how to attain them.
But (?) of being very happy, she inflicted jealously upon her rank and it doubtless gave her a secret delight to see so many great nobles who in former days had treated her more familiarity than the (?) over her purple buskins. It would be somewhat ingenuous however, to imagine that all this display, this apparent insistence upon etiquette must necessarily have excluded such adventures as those that Sidu has invented for his Theodora. It is certain that many mysterious things about which Justinian knew nothing could take place in the imperial (?)acium. The story of the patriarch Anfeminus which I had already related is proof of this. Nor would I be so foolish as to insist upon Theodora's post-marital virtue. Although as is well known it is always difficult to be certain on such points, I am not ready to believe that Theodora's life was without reproach. I am fully convinced that during her youth she went to (?) and I do not feel called upon to be scandalized if she picked it up and made her life. Justinian would have been the only person entitled to complain. But facts are facts, and one must take them as one finds them.
Now it is certain that no contemporary writers nor any historians of a later age--and it is these last who have strongly censored Theodora for her turpitude, her despotic and violent temper, her obsessive influence over Justinian, and the scandal to which her hetero(?) gave rise, not one of them recalls anything which cast doubt upon the correctness of her private life after her marriage, even Precorpius, who has so calumniated her, relating so fully the adventures of youth and telling with a notorious wealth of detail of her (?), her cruelties, her infamies, as one woman, even he, (???) when they wish to read the text, did not hint at the shadow of an amorous adventure after her marriage on the part of ths absolutely corrupt woman. I think it would be (?) that if the empress had given the slightest occasion the (?) would not have been backward in describing her (?) in detail. He has told of nothing of the sort because there was really nothing to tell. But this reflects no credit upon Theodora's moral qualities. Aside from the fact that she was no longer young when she ascended the throne--an Eastern woman at 30 is almost on the threshold of old age--she was too intelligent and too ambitious to risk compromising by love intrigues the position she had won for herself. Supreme power was worth taking some pains to preserve and the dignity of her life reflects quite as much upon her common sense as upon her moral qualities. But chiefly this courageous and ambitious woman who so eagerly desires power had other interests than the pursuit of vulgar amours.
She was endowed with several of the personal qualities which justify the striving for supreme power: a proud energy, a stern fixity of purpose, the serene courage that never failed her even in the most difficult circumstances. It was owing to these qualities that during 21 years she shared Justinian's throne she exercised a profound and legitimate influence over her adoring husband. One incident that must never be forgotten when writing about Theodora is the part she played on a tragic 18 January in 532 when the transient rebels stormed at the gates of the imperial palace and the distracted emporer completely lost his head and thought only of flight. Theodora was present at the council. In the midst of the general discouragement, she alone was (?) and self-controlled. At first she said nothing. Suddenly in the silence she arose, disgusted with the universal cowardice, and recalled the (?) emporer and his ministers to their duty. "If they were left me no safety but in flight I would not fly," said she. "(?) who have worn the crown should never survive its loss. Never will I see the day that I am not hailed empress. If you wish to fly, Caesar, more and good. You have money, the ships are ready, the sea is clear. But I shall stay, for I love the old proverb that says 'The purple is the best warming sheet.'" On that day when, to quote a contemporary, the very empire seemed upon the brink of destruction Theodora stayed desperately enthroned and in this supreme struggle when her crown and her life were at stake, ambition inspired her to real heroism. At this decisive moment, Theodora, by her (?) and energy, showed herself a statesman, and as has been well said, she proved herself worthy of a place in the imperial council which until then she had owed to the emporer's weakness. Henceforth, she never lost it, and Justinian did not begrudge it.
To the very last he was passionately devoted to the woman he had adored in his younger days and as he was completely under the influence of her superior ingelligence and of her strong and resolute will, he never refused her anything, either the outward show, or the real exercise of supreme power. Upon the church walls of that time, and over the gates of citadels, Theodora's name may still be read alongside of the emporer's. Inside the Tower at Ravena, her portrait is appendant to that of her imperial husband. And in the mosaics that decorated the apartments of the sacred palace, Justinian had (?) associated (?) with him in connection with his military triumphs and the (?) glories of his reign. The people erected statues to her, and officials did homage to her, as they did to Justinian, for throughout her life she was the equal of the emperor. (?) the most momentous questions, Justinian was pleased to take the advice of the most revered spouse whom God had given unto him, whom he loved to call his "sweetest delight," and her contemporaries are unanimous in declaring that she was unscrupulous in her boundless influence over the sovereign, and that her power was quite as great as his and perhaps greater."
It goes on just a few pages more, which further the impression, so seldom found in history books, that women of power actually did have decisive influence in history.
There's more historiography on our agenda, and then we'll go on toward Bagdad. We won't get to Bagdad, but we'll begin to get some background on early Islam. I want to show you this best ever (?) I have ever seen -- the Wall Chart of World History, from earliest times to the present. This is a (facsimile?) edition. It was published in 1988. I don't know the dates of the earlier editions. It's a wall chart, not a book. It's in accordian form. [trying to fit it in room?] It starts down here on the lower level, there's this wavy line, now that's the (?) of time, then they marked each century about two inches, and on it goes, starting with the beginning of the world according to the fundamentalist version in the year 4004 B.C., just out of sight here, where you have these three, they look like snakes, Adam, Abel and Cain. They have Enoch and (?) and so on. ...It's small, just about 4 inches. And then, eventually, turn one page, it gets much bigger. So in each of these lines -- here's the biblical generations up above, and down below our cultures. For example, here are the dynasties of Egypt. Here is Assyria, Libera, Asia Minor...And then over these snakes there are little pictures, so you get a feeling for the place. The roots of the tree trunk indicate more or less the population. I've got a bifurcation on the screen ...This bar here, that's Alexander's conquest. To the left of it is the Persian Empire, about 2 inches wide from here, you can just see the edge of it at the bottom. And then there's Sparta, Athens, little line out of your sight for all these separate city states, polities of Ancient Greece. And this long bar where they're all unified. So this is kind of like a meltdown. To the left the caterpillar and to the right the butterfly, and then this very short-lived bar united all, which is Alexander's conquest. Then out of it we have, here's Egypt over the Tolomes, and Syria under the Salucids, and Asia Minor and so on. Then in this line in Egypt, each successor ruler, Tolome, is given a different color, so you see the length of their reign very graphically. Here is Tolome I Satir, Tolome II Philadelphus, and so on. This is an inspiring example and everything I talked about is somehow represented. I'm going to set this out here so you can have a look after the lecture.
Just a little more about historiogrpahy. I want to show you this new official definition of mathematics according to the American Mathematical Society. Here is a little article I did called "The New Mathematics." It starts with a quote by Alfred North Whitehead. He says, "Understanding is the aperception of pattern as such." And Gregory Bateson, who I mentioned last time, says, "What is the pattern which connects all the living creatures? The pattern which connects is a metapattern. It is a pattern of patterns. It is that metapattern which defines the vast generalization that indeed it is patterns which connect." He said that in 1979 while he was still professor at Santa Cruz, the year before he died. And here is the new definition that appeared in the American Mathematical Society monthly notices in 1988: "Mathematics is often defined as the science of space and number. It was not until the recent resonance of computers and mathematics that a new apt definition became fully evident: mathematics is the science of patterns."
I mentioned different names and never made a list, a chronology or a chronograph, but as this list will soon come to an end, let me do it now. Burkhardt, Inervesse tried to come up with a definition of crisis in 304 named steps that seeded such major transformations as the Renaissance or Alexander's Conquest. I mentioned Sir Flinders Petrie, who dug up Ancient Egypt, and his work is called The Crises of History. Sir Flinders Petrie published a book in 1911 called Revolutions of Civilization in which he proposed another step-by-step dynamical model for a major social transformation. In 1917, Louis Frye Richardson, a successful physicist and meterologist was called to service in World War I as a Quaker. He became a conscientious objector, went to France as an ambulance driver in World War I, and became convinced that war could be avoided by coming to understand it. He proposed mathematical models for the arms race, founding a whole field called Political Metrics, which was used by Gregory Bateson in 1935 in his idea of Schizmogenesis, coming from a perspective of a cultural anthropologist. I haven't mentioned Ludwig Fleck yet, I'll speak about him right now. Hopefully I'll end soon with a discussion of Rosenstat Kissi, I think maybe I mentioned him last time. His book is called Out of Revolution.
We're almost done with historiography here, just want to give an idea of this person who was succeeded by Thomas Kuhn. More people probably have heard about Thomas Kuhn. Kuhn popularized the notion of paradigm shift, particularly in the context of history of science, and therefore one could think seriously of applying the notion to history of mathematics too. Kuhn emphasized paradigm shift as a sociological phenomenon occurring within a community of scholars. People who get the new idea too early are expelled. Eventually there's sort of a quickening, an increase in the population of the subgroup interested in the new idea which, in the context of the history of science, is stimulated by, is demanded by data coming from the laboratory that doesn't fit the current paradigm. Many people would like to stick to the consensus, they can't stand the essential tension between the current paradigm and the new incoming data. One of Kuhn's books is called The Essential Tension.
Fleck was a medical scientist in Nazi Germany. In spite of being a Jew he survived the entire Nazi period because of his scientific skills. He was sent to Auschwitz, among other death camps, and there he was employed as a medical scientist, slave labor essentially, doing pretty much what he usually did anyway. His life was there. He saw his family go one by one to the showers, a one-way trip to the showers in Auschwitz. And then, when the camp was liberated by the allies, he went right back to work in the University of Levoff, his hometown. His book is called Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact. It's his theory, it's a sociological idea about how a society changes its mind. It is related in the context of a particular example of a scientific paradigm shift that has to do with syphilis and the Wasserman test, a certain theoretical diagnostic for syphilis. He was involved in that kind of work in connection with Typhoid and other diseases. The syphilis example preceded [?] him a few years. I'll just give you an idea of the quality of his thinking and how this could possibly be used in understanding Euclid's voyage and the transformations that occur in a society when the foreign (toxic?) information from Ancient Greece arrived in a book. This is just about a page worth:
"This example exhibits three stages: (1) vague visual perception and inadequate initial observation; (2) an irrational, concept- forming and style-converting state of experience; (3) developed reproducable and stylized visual perception of form." He's talking about scientific research in a laboratory, so when the results come in, he's inspired by the hermeneutic concept that the experiment itself is formed in the concept of a theory. The results of the experiment can only be perceived in the context of the theory, and when there might be a mismatch that creates that essential tension, there might be a slight drift in the theory, then a slight drift in the design of the experiment, then a slight drift in the data that's obtained, then a slight drift in the perception of the data that's obtained, and all of this perception he is thinking of as a thought process and uses the metaphor of visual perception.
"This description demonstrates how a finding originates. Many research scientists will certainly recognize an analogy with their own method of research. The first, chaotically-styled observation resembles a chaos of feelings, amazement, a searching for similarities, trial by experiment, the attraction, as well as hope and disappointment. Feeling, will and intellect all come together as an individual unit. The research worker gropes, but everything recedes. Nowhere is there a firm support. Everything seems to be an artificial effect, inspired by his own personal will. Every formulation melts away at the next test. He looks for that resistance and seeks constraint in the face of which he could feel passive. Aids appear in the form of memory and education. At the moment of scientific genesis, the research worker personifies the totality of his physical and intellectual ancestors and of all his friends and enemies that both promote and inhibit his search. The worker, the research scientist knows that in the context of confusion and chaos which he faces, he must distinguish that which obeys his will from that which arises spontaneously and opposes it. This is the firm ground that he, as representative of the thought collective, continuously seeks. These are the passive connections, as we have called them. The general aim of intellectual work is therefore maximum thought constraint with minimum thought caprice. This is how a fact arises. At first, there's a (?) of resistance in the chaotic initial thinking, then a definite thought constraint, and finally, a form to be directly perceived. The fact always occurs in the context of the history of thought and is always the result of a definite thought style."
Well, there's a whole book to read and study here. Thomas Kuhn seems more readable, but still, in these works, it's very difficult to get the idea. What he's confronting is something like the Abidema. Abida was a meditation teacher who taught meditation based on meditation experience. In the meditation experience he figured out a lot about the thought process by simply paying attention, and the Abidema describes how an idea comes into your head. If you practice meditation and pay attention, you'll find that you are constantly being distracted from your meditation by an unwanted thought coming into your head. Abida dissected that process of a thought coming into your head by watching, and then watching some more, and then watching some more, and he wrote all of this down in the Abidema and the other text of the Polycannon. So here we have sort of the Polycannon of the research scientist. This man never came out of the lab. Hitler came and went. His family was dragged off to the oven, and he kept working in the lab. What he was doing was writing an inside report of the exact process of scientific facts coming into your head. It's a kind of psychology which can't be found anywhere else, where the visualization of all the ancestors is sort of the thought constraint within which you must find your way. Deviation from it is the cause of this very painful essential tension.
The mathematicians on our list in the History of Mathematics, Archimedes and so on, were all caught in this essential tension, in the struggle between the confinement and the thought process in the past, and opening the way for a new idea in the future. We can think of this as the psychological process of a bifurcation of this sort: a pitchfork bifurcation, or an explosive bifurcation, or a subtle bifurcation. If such a thing is happening in the history of consciousness, and you are a person lurking in that (review?) at the moment of the crisis in history or the revolution of thought or the paradigm shift or the bifurcation and so on, you have an experience that is relatively unique in history, due to the fact that these bifurcation points are sort of a discrete point set of measure 0 or practically 0 within the infinitude or continuity of all possible time. Nevertheless, within all of the rare moments that ever occured in the history of the thought process in that particular milieu, there are all these large numbers of previous instants in which people have felt the exceptional, and the exceptional was, as a matter of fact, the same. The dynamical systems theory in its program to give a detailed list and explicit mathematical model for all these bifurcations is, as it were, codifying, explaining, analyzing, modeling, presenting, groking the bifurcation process as it occurs in the consciousness of an individual person like you and me and everyone else.
And now...on to Bagdad. Today I want to blow up this part of the map from roughly 500 A.D. We have these main sections which, excluding Babylonian Egypt, the ancient prehistory, we started with Athens. Athens' mathematical and philosophical history ended in 529 when the Academies were closed by Justinian. In defense of Theodora -- they were married in 530 when she was 30 years old (she was born in 500) -- the closing of the academies probably wouldn't have happened when she took hold of the reins, because she was much more open-minded than Justinian or his father Justin. She came on the scene in 530, but in 529 the Academies were closed and that was the end of the Academy in Athens. The Academy in Alexandria somehow survived by converting to a Christian academy, and thanks to it, we have the famous case of Hypatia.
Maybe I didn't give Hypatia the attention she deserves in lectures on Euclid's voyage, because as you see in the first volume of Heath, an extensive history of all the (rescensions) of Euclid's Elements came to us, such as the Holy Eight Rescensions that we see. The most important and influential, especially during Medieval times, was that of Theon. Theon was Hypatia's father. He not only edited and probably improved them, he also wrote commentaries on Euclid, nourished them and saw to their survival. It's very likely that the editing on Euclid's Elements and other works, like Ptolome's Almagest, was actually done by Hypatia. It's a pattern in mathematics and in science that if a woman ever should find her way into an important position, her work would be abregated by men. Theodora's work in ruling the Byzantine Empire was claimed, or at least assigned by historians to have been done by her husband Justinian. She was torn apart by a Christian mob at the instigation of Bishop Fleural. She was the last of the pagan philosophers, and that was pretty much the end of the neoplatonic tradition in Alexandria, although there are some important figures in the history of mathematics afterwards who were associated with Alexandria, particularly Micomasa of Jurasa and Theon of Smyrna, another Theon. MAP BEING SHOWN HERE
It all comes to an end in 610 or 11 or whenever it was. In 620, 622, 623, the Muslim army arrives, invades the town and destroys the library, while Byzantium, just recently started, goes on forever. It exists to this day. The revival of the university in the time of Justinian held out until 1453, when the Ottoman Turks arrived and destroyed what had long been a kind of plug protecting Europe from Islam. That's the fragment of the main map, the map of the main stations we have looked at so far, and we're going to add Bagdad, which starts around 800. It has a prehistory in, we'll call it early Islam. Where do Euclid's Elements go? In 300, they go to Alexandria, and in 400 or 500, to Byzantium, and in 800, to Bagdad. There's the history of Euclid's Elements in Alexandria and then this history of Byzantium, and in order to understand the lifetime of Euclid's Elements in Islam, we need to have a little bit of a basic sketch of Islam before the foundation of Bagdad. I'll end with just this outline here. This is the part, early Islam, that I'm going to call (it all?) Bagdad, all between the beginning of Islam around 600 and the arrival of the book in 800.
We have four periods, I'll call them M, R, U, and A. The first chapter on the throne of Islam is the lifetime of Muhammed, and then the first four (Ahelid?), the early (Calif), and then the (Umayed), and the Otassid Dynasties. Under the Otassid Dynasty the foundation of the University of Bagdad is laid. It is modeled on the Alexandrian museum, the attraction of Euclid's Elements carried by hand by Louis the Mathematician and so on, that's the story that we will come to here. For these three periods we need just a brief sketch to understand the flavor of the thing. I recommend that you read about Islam somewhere, but let me warn you about one thing. There are many, many books on Islam, they can be sorted into two categories: those written by Muslims, and all the others. If you want to understand anything about Islam, you have to read those histories written by Muslims, because all the others share the same disgusting feature -- a very negative view of Islam. Everything is interpreted and twisted in a manner that makes the sense of Islam and the history of such a large part of the world completely incomprehensible. We're talking about a billion people here, occupying and controlling a large part of the inhabitable planet.
Here's the story of Muhammed. The idea is that the Jewish, Christian, and Islam religions are very similar, based on the same literature and basic story as seen from the perspective of Islam. The Judeo-Christian traditions begin with something correct, which then gradually deviates from truth and essentially disintegrates through a natural process. In order to maintain the connection between the human species and the divine, it is necessary for God to constantly be sending prophets to renew the message. Without actually criticizing the early Hebrews or the early Christians, Mohammed could claim that the religions of this tradition needed renewal. After his death the Moslems compiled an official list of 28 prophets, including all the ones mentioned in the Old Testament, and Jesus is on the list. His divinity is denied. This could be put in the context of a spectrum of opinions about Christology, between the Orthodox Church, the Monocruxites, the Monotelemites. What all these deviant Christian sects disagreed about is the exact degree of the divinity of Christ, or the exact degree of the divinity of Mary, or the exact degree of the divinity of the Holy Spirit and so on. Islam affirms the divinity of God and denies the divinity of Christ, but puts all these prophets who had a historical mission in coming to a certain culture at a certain time on a high level. Muhammed was one of these, according to the story, and he has the peculiar distinction, as the 28th, to be the last.
I don't really understand -- why is he the last? There are let's say 500 years between Christ and Muhammed, and 500 years after Mohammed we're still on our last prophet. They said that there would not be any more prophets, and there hasn't been one as far as I know. Anyway, Mohammed was born in 570 in Mukah of the Payosh, the tribe of Mukah. He married a wealthy woman, relieving him of some of life's stresses, had a family and so on. In 610 he had a vision in a cave outside Mukah, which was later called a vision of the Angel Gabriel. In this vision he was told that he was a prophet, basically, and that he had to go out and do the right thing. He didn't accept it immediately, but he did start telling friends about it. His wife died in 619 and also his uncle. These relatives were very powerful within the clan and had been protecting Mohammed from persecution for his heretic views in the context of Arabic religion, which is kind of an animistic and polytheistic religion. He was urging people to redistribute their wealth and saying that there is only one god.
When his protectors died, more and more violent persecutions began. In 622 he escaped to Medina where some of his disciples had gathered, and there he was made welcome and became a leader of the town. This is called the Hejra, and dates in Islam are in years A.H., Anno Hejra, the year of the Hejra, so this is 622, it's 622 A.D. and it's 1 A.H. They don't coincide exactly because the Hejra was in the summer and not on the first of January. In Medina, he unified the neighboring tribes around his ideas and became more and more a powerful military leader. Eventually the persecutors from Mukah followed him there and tried to stone Medina, and then the army of Mohammed went to Mukah to take it over, because Mukah was a pilgrimmage spot for the pagan Arabic religions long before Mohammed. In 629, an alliance between Medina and Mekkah was formed. That was the beginning of a United Arab -- I'd call it a kingdom, but I guess that's not the right word. Islam is really two things: a revolutionary political organization and a religion all in one.
In 632, in (Porshily?), Mohammed died. That precipitated the beginning of stage R and, as usual, a lot of bloody strife between the potential successors to the extraordinary military and financial power of such an organization. I'll continue with my tour to Bagdad next time, in the period of the early Califate and the Mirab Dynasty down to the beginning of the Odissids and the (??) of the mathematician.
Occupation: Byzantine Empress
Known for: Theodora, empress of Byzantium from 527-548, was probably the most influential and powerful woman in the empire's history.
The major source for information on Theodora is Procopius, who wrote about her in three works: his History of the Wars of Justinian, De Aedificiis, and Anekdota or Secret History. All three were written after Theodora's death. The first credits Theodora with the suppression of the Nika revolt, through her courageous response, and possibly therefore with Justinian's continued rule. De Aedificiis is flattering to Theodora. But the Secret History is quite nasty about Theodora, especially her early life.
According to Procopius, Theodora's father was the bear and animal keeper at the Hippodrome, and her mother, after her husband died, started Theodora's acting career, which evolved into a life as a prostitute and mistress of Hecebolus, whom she soon left. She became a Monophysite, and, still working as an actress, or as a wool-spinner, she came to the attention of Justinian, nephew and heir of the emperor Justin. Justin's wife may also have been a prostitute; she changed her name to Euphemia upon becoming empress. Theodora first became the mistress of Justinian; then Justin accommodated his heir's attraction to Theodora by changing the law that forbid a patrician from marrying an actress. That there is an independent record of this law being changed lends weight to at least the general outline of Procopius' story of Theodora's lowly origins.
Whatever her origins, Theodora had the respect of her new husband. In 532, when two factions (known as the Blues and the Greens) threatened to end Justinian's rule, she is credited with getting Justinian and his generals and officials to stay in the city and take strong action to suppress the rebellion.
Through her relationship with her husband, who seems to have treated her as his intellectual partner, Theodora had a real effect on the political decisions of the empire. Justinian writes, for instance, that he consulted Theodora when he promulgated a constitution which included reforms meant to end corruption by public officials. She is credited with influencing many other reforms, including some which expanded the rights of women in divorce and property ownership, forbid exposure of unwanted infants, gave mothers some guardianship rights over their children, and forbid the killing of a wife who committed adultery. She closed brothels and created convents where the ex-prostitutes could support themselves.
Theodora remained a monophysite Christian, and her husband remained an orthodox Christian. Some commentators -- including Procopius -- allege that their differences were more a pretense than a reality, presumably to keep the church from having too much power. She was known as a protector of members of the Monophysite faction when they were accused of heresy. She supported the moderate Monophysite Severus and, when he was excommunicated and exiled -- with Justinian's approval -- Theodorus helped him to settle in Egypt. Another excommunicated Monophysite, Anthimus, was still hiding in the women's quarters when Theodora died, twelve years after the excommunication order. She sometimes explicitly worked against her husband's support of Chalcedonian Christianity in the ongoing struggle for the predominance of each faction, especially at the edges of the empire.
Theodora died in 548, probably of cancer. At the end of his life, Constantine, too, converted to Monophysitism. 1
|1||Ralph Abraham, "Euclid's Voyage".|
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