Page 1003

1003 ROME-AGE OF JUSTINIAN.

devolved upon the Empress Sophia, who had

already, in 574, procured the adoption of Tiberius, captain of the guards, as heir-apparent

to the throne. In 578, a few days before the

Emperor's death, Tiberius was proclaimed

Augustus.

Bitter was the disappointment of the intriguing Sophia. She had confidently elected to

become the wife of a second Caesar; and indeed

Tiberius had promised to make her his queen.

After the manner of the world, however, he

forgot his promise when the prize had been

gained. When the factions of the hippodrome

began to clamor for the proclamation of an

Empress, Tiberius astonished the city by announcing the name of Anastasia, a wife to

whom he had been secretly married. Sophia

was retained at the court and loaded with

honors. Albeit, Tiberius may have supposed

that these could suffice for the baffled hope!

Soon he had cause to learn that the woman

slighted is ever the same. Sophia accepted

her honors, smiled and smiled-and made a

conspiracy. She took into her confidence the

general Justinian, son of Germanus, and him

persuaded to disloyalty. He had recently

achieved great fame in the ever recurring wars

with Persia, and the applause of the eastern

army had filled his ears with the hum of

ambition. The Emperor was at the time enjoying a respite in the country, when the ex-empress and her confederate attempted to consummate their plot. But Tiberius came to

the windward of the scheme, returned to the

city, and the conspiracy was easily overthrown.

Somewhat better-perhaps wiser-than his

generation, the Emperor employed no harsh

measures against those who had plotted his

downfall. On the contrary, he contented himself with reducing Sophia to a humbler position

in the state, and permitted Justinian to escape

with a reprimand. The Emperor gave himself the name of Constantine, and would fain

be regarded as the Marcus Aurelius of the

Later Empire. Nor was his claim to be so

considered without a valid foundation in fact.

Humanity, justice, and self-restraint were the

qualities exhibited in his life and character.

The government at once reacted from its

downward tendency, and began to show signs of vigor and virtue. The war with Persia was prosecuted with more success than at any time

since the days of Constantine. Great was the

misfortune to the Empire when so prosperous

a reign was so suddenly cut short by the death

of the sovereign. In 582 the Emperor died,

and was succeeded by the soldier Maurice,

whom he designated as heir to the throne.

Again the choice was a blessing to the

state. The new Emperor had been disciplined

in the army, and had greatly distinguished

himself for valor and probity during the Persian war. After his accession his military renown was heightened by successful campaigns

against the Avars of the Danube. In the

East he dignified the name of the Empire,

even at the court of Persia, where he restored

to the throne Chosroes II., who had been deposed in a revolution. An alliance was effected

between the king and his protector, and the

eastern army could now be withdrawn to operate in the West.

It was an attempt of Maurice to carry the

reforms already instituted in the civil administration into the army that led to his deposition

and death. The legions of the Danube, impatient of salutary restraint, revolted under

Phocas, one of the centurions, whom they

proclaimed Emperor, and under whom they

marched on Constantinople. When they neared

the capital, a tumult arose in the city; for the

mobocratic party there turned also against the

virtuous Maurice, and joined with his enemies.

The Emperor and his household fled to Chalcedon. Phocas entered the city in triumph,

and the Green faction of the hippodrome was

again in the ascendant. The Blues still adhered to the fortunes of Maurice, whose life

soon paid the forfeit of their support. In 602

executioners were sent by Phocas to Chalcedon, and Maurice and his five sons were

dragged from the sanctuary of Saint Antonomus and put to death with an aggravation of

cruelty.

Great was the contrast between the virtues

of the late and the present Emperor. Phocas

was brutal and ignorant, regardless of law and

the despiser of virtue. His conduct in the

administration of affairs was despotic and degrading. If he spared the female members of