So much then for the emperor’s domestic arrangements. On the international stage matters were scarcely more edifying.
At length we were thrown into the common prison; and this is a den having its pavement fourteen steps below ground, and it has only a little door instead of a window; here the darkness is complete, and can be felt, the only light being from a lamp, or some reflection by day, and it is impossible ever to see the light of dawn in this dungeon, nor the rays of the moon. Our bodies were distressed by the heat, for it was summer, and we were scorched by the breath of our fellow-prisoners; and besides, the vermin and the lice, and hosts of fleas and other little insects, make a man miserable by their bites; promiscuously with us there were confined in the same prison, to trade (as it were) with these miseries, Ethiopians, Tarsians, Jews, Lombards, and some of our own Christians, from different parts, among whom was also the most holy Bishop of Malta, chained with double shackles. Then the two bishops embraced one another, and kissed one another with the holy kiss, and wept together awhile over the things that had happened to them; but presently the gave thanks to God for it all, and combated their grief with arguments drawn from our philosophy.
Basil gets a reasonably good press from the chroniclers which seems surprising given his bloody seizure of power and less than awe-inspiring military record. As the founding father of the dynasty under whose auspices his story was being written however, he was guaranteed a fairly decent write up. His admirers can point to his recodification of the laws, his programme of church construction and the strident missionary effort which was carried on amongst the peoples of the Balkans under his reign.
None of that would have been of much consolation to poor Theodosius however, as he suffered in his prison and cursed the emperor who had abandoned Syracuse to its fate.
Leo's concealed weapon is revealed!
The reign of Basil I
The Macedonian Dynasty
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