After a decade as emperor

After a decade as emperor, with doctrinal disputes put to rest, Theodosius felt he was in a position to crack down. In 391, he issued the formal imperial edict banning traditional sacrifice and religious ritual. The mandate was enforced by imperial troops, by social fear, and, here and there, by the partially approved thuggery of Christian zealots. Theodosius died in 395, and it was only in 399 that real temple busting came to Roman Africa, for example; and when it did come, it was quick and decisive. Not since Caracalla, who conferred full Roman citizenship on all free inhabitants of the empire in the early third century, had a single emperor done so much to affect so many lives, irreversibly. Ramsay MacMullen has noted the supreme confidence of the Christians at that time, leading to a nearly complete cessation of serious efforts to proselytize for their religion.26 Henceforth, Christianity was a matter of requirement, and persuasion was irrelevant. Pope Gregory’s mission to con

Son of Constantius

That last Galerian persecution backfired completely. The young general Constantine (son of Constantius, who had ruled Britain for Diocletian and himself briefly succeeded to an unsteady throne) saw a chance to grasp for power. Diocletian had created a college of imperial leaders and put in motion a complicated system of succession and promotion that collapsed as soon as it was implemented in 305. In a welter of emperors and would-be emperors, Constantine emerged from the pack, establishing himself first in the west, and eventually in all of the empire.

He was the victor of a critical battle in 312 for control of the Milvian bridge, just upriver on the Tiber where it protected the approaches to the city of Rome. Constantine told a story afterward of a vision he had before the battle and how he and his men had fought under Christ’s protection. For the rest of his life—he lived and reigned until 337—he was consistently the best Christian emperor he could be. This is not to

Stiff-necked qualities of Judaism

The latter quality derived from the more stiff-necked qualities of Judaism. Judaism takes its name from a place, Judaea, and the ancient word for a member of the cult, Judaeus, meaning “person from Judaea.” Judaean pride convinced itself that the one and only true god visited his temple on a hilltop just at the boundary between cultivated land and the desert, in Jerusalem. Anyone would agree that a provincial god might do such a thing, but to claim that this one local god was uniquely true and powerful—such self-assurance would strike almost everyone as bizarre.

At the heart of Judaism, however, was the Judaeans’ assurance that their god was still local, and therefore that only they should worship him. They made certain that joining his cult—through circumcision—involved a high degree of commitment and difficulty. They argued that Yahweh was the one and only god; yet, ironically, it also did not matter if most of the world owed him no allegiance and went on about

War with the Normans part 22

And I could mention several of them, had not time obliterated their names from my memory. All this took place before my father was elevated to the throne. On his accession he found all education here in a very poor way and the regular study of letters apparently banished afar, he lost no time in raking the ashes together to see whether some live sparks might perchance be bidden under them.

Those who were inclined to learning (and they were but few and had not passed beyond the vestibule of Aristotelian philosophy) he did not cease from encouraging but bade them prefer the study of the sacred writings to Greek literature. He found Italus throwing everything into confusion and leading many astray, so he deputed the Sebastocrator Isaac to examine him, as he was very literary and accustomed to undertaking important duties. When Isaac found that Italus was as report said, he openly censured him in a public meeting and then passed him on to the ecclesiastical tribunal by order o

War with the Normans part 21

IX This man then was the acknowledged master of all philosophy and the youth flocked to him. (For he expounded to them the doctrines of Plato and Proclus, and of the two philosophers, Porphyry and Iamblichus, but especially the rules of Aristotle; and he gave instruction in the system to those who wished, as affording a serviceable tool and it was on this that he rather prided himself and to this he devoted his attention.) Yet he was unequal to exerting a very good influence on his pupils as his violent temper and his general instability of character stood in the way.

And look, I pray, at his pupils-there were Solomon John, and an Iasitas and Serblias and others devoted to learning maybe; most of them I saw myself later, as they often came to the palace. They knew no literary subject accurately, but would pose as dialecticians, making ungainly movements and mad contortions of their limbs, they understood nothing sound but put forth ideas, even those about metempsychosis, i

War with the Normans part 20

Consequently his language was not adaptable nor at all polished. For the same reason, too, his character was austere and entirely unadorned with grace. His studies too had contracted his brows and he literally exhaled harshness. His writings were crammed full of dialectic exordiums and his language in disputations redounded with ‘attempted proofs,’ more so in his discourses than in his written works. He was so strong in his arguments and so difficult to beat that his opponent would automatically be reduced to silence and to despair.

Temper annulled and obliterated the credit

For he would dig a pit either, side of his question and hurl his interlocutor into a well of difficulties. Such skill the man had in dialectics, and by a rapid succession of questions he would overwhelm his opponents by confusing and daunting their minds. And it was impossible for anyone, who had once argued with him, to free himself from these labyrinths. In other ways he was m

War with the Normans part 19

This man had not studied very much under learned professors, but through his natural cleverness and quick intelligence and further by the help of God (which he had obtained by his mother’s ardent supplications, for she often spent whole nights in the church of God weeping and making invocations to the holy picture of the Virgin on her son’s behalf) he had reached the summit of all knowledge, was thoroughly acquainted with Greek and Chaldoean literature and grew famous in those days for his wisdom. Italus, then, became this man’s disciple, but he was never able to plumb the depths of philosophy for he was of such a boorish and barbarous disposition that he could not endure teachers even when learning from them. He was full of daring and barbarous rebelliousness and even before learning a thing, imagined he surpassed everybody else and from the very start he entered the lists against Psellus himself.

Being well versed in dialectics he caused daily commotion

War with the Normans part 18

VIII When he arrived he found the church in a very perturbed condition, and did not even have a short period of relaxation. But as he was a true apostle of the church, and now found it vexed by the teachings of Italus, although he was anxious to march against Bryennius (the Frank who had taken Castoria, as we have said) yet even under these circumstances he did not neglect his faith. For at this time the doctrines of Italus had obtained a great vogue and were upsetting the church.

Now this Italus (for it is necessary to give his history from the beginning) was a native of Italy and had spent a considerable time in Sicily; this is an island situated near Italy. For the Sicilians had rebelled against the Roman rule and were preparing for war against them and invited the Italians to join them; amongst those w1lo came was the father of Italus who brought his son with him, although he was not of military age, and the boy accompanied and tripped along with him and received a mil

War with the Normans part 17

And Bohemund seeing them come rejoiced as ‘a lion who has met with mighty prey,’ to use a Homeric expression, even so he, when he saw the men and the Protostrator Michael with his own eyes, dashed at them with all his forces in an irresistible rush, whereupon they immediately turned and fled. Uzas (who was thus named after his race), a man famous for his bravery and skilled, as Homer says, ‘in wielding, now right now left, the tough bull’s hide that formed his target,’ bent to the right as he was coming out of the entrance and, turning sharply, hit the Latin following him, who straightway f ell headlong to the ground. But Bohemund pursued the fugitives as far as the river Salabrias.

During the flight this same Uzas pierced Bohemund’s standard-bearer with his spear and plucking the standard from his hands waved it aloft a minute, and then lowered it to the ground. When the Latins saw their standard lowered, they were confounded and fled a

War with the Normans part 16

But when he heard the news sent by Bryennius and realized the craftiness and the victory won by guile he was naturally, indeed, furious with the Emperor, but in no wise cast down, so brave was he. A few selected Franks in full armour who were with him, then mounted a small hill opposite Larissa. Directly our heavy troops caught sight of them they demanded very eagerly to be allowed to attack them, but Alexius restrained them from this enterprise.

Nevertheless quite a number from the different divisions and of various types did join together and mounted the hill and attacked the Franks, who immediately rushed at them and killed about five hundred. Then the Emperor guessing at the spot where Bohemund was likely to pass, dispatched brave soldiers with the Turks and Migidenus as chief commander, but as they drew near, Bohemund set upon them and beat them and pursued them to the river.

VII As dawn broke on the following day Bohemund crossed the river we have mentioned