Fla'vius Constanti'nus Vii. Porphyroge'nitus or Constanti'nus Vii. Porphyroge'nitus or Constanti'nus Porphyroge'nitus or Constanti'nus Vii. Porphyroge'nitus
), emperor of the East, A. D. 911-959, the only son of the emperor Leo VI. Philosophus, of the Macedonian dynasty, and his fourth wife, Zoe, was born in A. D. 905; the name Πορφυρογέννητος
, that is, " born in the purple," was given to him because he was born in an apartment of the imperial palace called πόρφυρα
, in which the empresses awaited their confinement.
The name Porphyrogenitus is also given to Constantine VI., but it is generally employed to distinguish the subject of this article. Constantine succeeded his father in 911, and reigned under the guardianship of his paternal uncle, Alexander, who was already Augustus, governed the empire as an absolute monarch, and died in the following year, 912.
After his death the government was usurped by Romanus Lecapenus, who excluded Constantine from the administration, leaving him nothing but an honorary retreat in the imperial palace, and who ruled as emperor till 944, when he was deposed and exiled by his sons Stephanus and Constantine, both Augusti, and who expected to be recognised as emperors. [ROMANUS LECAPENUS.] They were deceived; the people declared for the son of Leo; Constantine left his solitude, and, supported by an enthusiastic population, seized upon the usurpers, banished them, and ascended the throne.
In the long period of his retirement Constantine had become a model of learning and theoretical wisdom; but the energy of his character was suppressed ; instead of men he knew books, and when he took the reins of government into his hands, he held them without strength, prudence, and resolution.
He would have been an excellent artist or professor, but was an incompetent emperor. Yet the good qualities of his heart, his humanity, his love of justice, his sense of order, his passion for the fine arts and literature, won him the affections of his subjects. His good nature often caused him to trust without discernment, and to confer the high offices of the state upon fools or rogues; but he was not always deceived in his choice, and many of his ministers and generals were able men, and equally devoted to their business and their master.
The empire was thus governed much better than could have been expected.
In a long and bloody war against the Arabs in Syria, the Greek arms were victorious under Leo and Nicephorus, the sons of Bardas Phocas; the Christian princes of Iberia recognised the supremacy of the emperor; alliances of the Greeks with the Petchenegues or Patzinacitae in southern Russia checked both the Russians and the Bulgarians in their hostile designs against the empire; and Constantine had the satisfaction of receiving in his palace ambassadors of the khalifs of Baghdád and Africa, and of the Roman emperor Otho the Great. Luitprand, the emperor's ambassador, has left us a most interesting account of his mission to Constantinople. (Annales Luitpranli.
) One of the most praiseworthy acts of Constantine was the restoration to their lawful proprietors of estates confiscated during rebellions, and held by robbers and swindlers without any titles, or under fraudulent ones. Constantine's end was hastened by poison, administered to him by an ungrateful son, Romanus (his successor), in consequence of which he died on the 15th of November, A. D. 959. His wife was Helena, by whom he had the above-mentioned son Romanus, a daughter Theodora, married to Joannes Züniscus, and other children.
Constantine Porphyrogenitus holds a high rank in literature. His productions are no masterworks in point of style and thought, but they treat of important and interesting subjects, and without him our knowledge of his time would be reduced to a few vague notions; for he not only composed works himself, but caused others to be composed or compiled by the most able men among his subjects. His own works are--
The life of Basilius I. Macedo, the grandfather of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, a work of great importance for the reign and character of that great emperor, although it contains many things which cannot be relied upon, as Constantine was rather credulous, and embellished the truth from motives of filial piety or vanity.
1. By Leo Allatius in his Σύμμικτοι
, with a Latin translation, Cologne, 1653, 8vo.; the text divided into 70 sections or chapters.
2. By Combefisius, in his " Scriptores post Theophanem," Paris, 1685, fol. ; divided into 101 sections or chapters; with a new translation and notes of the editor.
(The origin and signification of the word Δέμα
as a new name for " province," is given in the life of CONSTANTINUS IV.)
This work is divided into two books; the first treats on the Eastern (Eastern and Southern) or Asiatic themas, and the second on the Western (Western and Northern) or European themas.
1. The first book, with a Latin translation and notes, by B. Vulcanius, Leyden, 1588, 8vo.
2. The second book, with a Latin translation and notes by T. Morellus, Paris, 1609, 8vo. Both these editions, and consequently the complete work, were reprinted and edited with some other works of Constantine, by Meursius, Leyden, 1617, 8vo.
3. The same in the sixth volume of " J. Meursii Opera," edited by Lami.
4. The complete work, by Bandurius, in the first volume of his " Imperium Orientale," with notes and a corrected version by the editor.
5. The same in the third volume of the Bonn edition or the works of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, a revised reprint of the edition of Bandurius, but without the map of De I'Isle, edited by Immanuel Bekker, Bonn, 1840.
De Administrando Imperio
, without a corresponding Greek title.
This celebrated work was written by the imperial author for the special purpose of informing his son Romanus of the political state of the empire, its various resources, and the political principles which ought to be followed in its administration, as well as in its relations to foreign nations.
It contains abundance of historical, geographical, ethnographical, and political facts of great importance, and without it our knowledge of the times of the author and the nations which were either his subjects or his neighbours would be little more than vagueness, error, or complete darkness.
The work is divided into 53 chapters, preceded by a dedication to prince Romanus.
In the first 13 chapters the author gives an account of the state of several nations which lived towards the north of the Danube, such as the Petchenegues or Patzinacitae, the Chazars, the Bulgarians, the Turks (by which he means the Majars or present Hungarians), and especially the Russians, who were then the most dangerous enemies of Constantinople.
In the 14th and following chapters he speaks of Mohammed, and gives a view of the rising power of the Arabs, which leads him to Spain and the conquest of the West Gothic kingdom by the Arabs. (cc. 23 and 24.)
The relations of the Greeks to Italy and to the Frankish kingdoms are related in cc. 26 to 28.
In the eight following chapters (29 to 36), which are all very long, he dwells on the history and geography of those parts of the empire which a few centuries before his time were, and are still, occupied by Slavonian nations, viz. Dalmatia, Servia, Croatia, &c. In 100.37 and following he returns to the Patzinacitae, Chazars, and other nations in ancient Scythia--a most valuable and interesting section, on which Bayer wrote the best commentary which we have on the work : it refers likewise to the corresponding part of the Themata and is contained in the ninth volume of the " Commentarii Academiae Petropolitanae."
After illustrating that subject, Constantine proceeds to Iberia, Armenia, and some of the adjacent countries in Asia. Chapter 52 contains some remarks on the thema of the Peloponnesus, a country of which the author speaks also occasionally in other chapters ; and in the 53rd and last chapter, which is of considerable length, he gives interesting information respecting the city of Cherson, the Chersonitae, and other adjacent nations.
The style of the work is generally clear and simple, but the logical order of the subjects is in some instances broken.
1 and 2. By Meursius, 1610, 8vo. and 1617, 8vo., in his " Opera Const. Porph.," with a Latin translation.
3. By the same, in the sixth volume of " Meursii Opera," edited by Lami, in which, however, only the translation of Meursius is contained, the editor having likewise given the more perfect text and translation of Bandurius.
4. By Bandurius, in his " Imperium Orientale," the best edition, partly on account of a map of the Eastern empire by Guillaume de L'Isle, which belongs both to this work and to that on the Themas. Bandurius added a new translation and an extensive commentary. Having perused better MSS. than Meursius, Bandurius was enabled to add the text with a translation of the 23rd and 24th chapters (" De Iberia" and " De Hispania"), of which Meursius had only fragments, so that he could not translate them.
5. By Immanuel Bekker, Bonn, 1840, in the Bonn collection of the Byzantines, a revised reprint of the edition of Bandurius without the map of Guillaume de L' Isle.
The commentary of Bayer cited above belongs likewise to this work.
commonly called " Tactica," an essay on the art of warfare by sea and by land, a very interesting treatise.
1 and 2. By Meursius, in " Constantini Opera, " and in the sixth volume of " Meursii Opera," edited by Lami, both cited above. No. 1 gives only the text, but No. 2 has also a Latin translation by Lami. Maffei, who translated a Cod. Veronensis of this work, attributes it to Constantine, the son of the emperor Romanus Lecapenus.
commonly called " Strategica," an interesting treatise on the mode of warfare adopted by different nations.
By Meursius, in the sixth volume of his works edited by Lami, with a Latin translation of the editor
This work is divided into three sections, viz. the first book, an appendix to the first book, and the second book.
It gives a detailed account of the ceremonies observed at the imperial court of Constantinople.
The appendix to the first book treats of the ceremonies observed in the imperial camp, and when the emperor sets out from his palace for the purpose of leading his army into the field, or returns from it to his capital : it is dedicated to Romanus, the son of Constantine.
The first book is divided into 97 chapters, the appendix into 16 sections, or heads, which are not numbered, and the second book into 56 chapters, the last chapter incomplete; and it seems that there were originally some chapters more, which have not been discovered yet.
The work is on the whole tedious and wearisome, as we may presume from the nature of the subject and the character of the emperor, who dwells with delight on trifling forms and usages which scarcely anybody but a master of ceremonies would find it worth while to write upon.
The style, however, is pure and elegant for the time; but the work abounds with Arabic and other terms strange to the Greek language, which are, however, explained by the commentators.
It is impossible to read it through; but if used as a book of reference it answers well, and it contains, besides, a number of important facts, and little stories or anecdotes referring to the life of former emperors.
1. By Leich and Reiske, the first volume containing the first book and the appendix, Leipzig, 1751, fol.; the second volume containing the second book, ibid. 1754, fol., with a Latin translation, an excellent Commentary to the first book by Reiske, and Notes and a " Commentatio de Vita et Rebus Gestis Constantini" by Leich.
2. By Niebuhr, vol. i., Bonn, 1829, 8vo.; vol. ii., ibid. 1830.
This is a carefully revised reprint of the editio princeps; it contains the remaining part of Reiske's commentary (to the appendix and the second book), first edited by Niebuhr.
The prine cipal laws issued by Constantine (Novellae Constitutiones) have been published by Leunclavius in his " Jus Graeco-Romanum," and by Labbe, Paris, 1606, 8vo. Constantine wrote besides several smaller treatises on religious and other matters
Works commissioned by Constantine
Besides his own writings, we owe to Constantine's love of literature the preservation of some works from destruction or oblivion, and the compilation of others at his order. Such are :
an extensive compilation, of which but the 27th book, Περὶ Πρεσβειῶν
, "De Legationibus," and the 50th, Περὶ Ἀρετῆς καὶ Κακίας
, "De Virtute et Vitio," have been preserved.
A further account of this work is given in the life of PRISCUS.
compiled from the works of a number of writers, a list of whom is given by Fabricius; it is divided into two books.
1. A Latin translation by J. Ruellius, Paris, 1530, fol.
2. The Greek text, by Simon Grynaeus, Basel, 1537, 4to.
3. By Valesius, together with the "Collectanea," &c., Paris, 1634, 4to.
An Italian translation of it was published at Venice, 1543, 8vo., and a French one at Paris, 1563, 4to.
This is generally attributed to Bassus Cassianus. [BASSUS CASSIANUS.]
Both the Hippiatrica and the Geoponica were held in high esteem in the middle ages as well as in after times, and they were both used for practical purposes, as we may see from the numerous editions and translations, especially of the Geoponica.
The first eight books of this work, which treat on the cure of beasts, and form a kind of domestic veterinary handbook, were separately published in a Latin translation by Andreas a Lacuna, Cologne, 1543, 8vo.
An Italian translation of the complete work appeared at Venice, 1542
; French ones at Poitiers, 1545, Lyon, 1557
; and a German, by Michael Herr, in 1551
, 3rd edition, edited by Ludwig Rabus, Strassburg, 1566, 8vo
The Annals of Theophanes were continued by Constantine's order [THEOPHANES], and he also induced Josephus Genesius to write his Annals, which contain the period from Leo Armenus to Basilius Macedo. [GENESIUS.] An account of Constantine's laws is given in the life of the emperor LEO PHILOSOPHUS.
Cedren. pp. 607, &c.,631, &c., ed. Paris; Leo Diaconus, pp. 487, &c., 507, &c., ed. Paris; Zonar. vol. ii. pp. 182, &c., 192, &c., ed. Paris; Joel, pp. 180, 181, ed. Paris; Glycas, pp. 302, 303, ed. Paris; Hanckius, De Script. Byzant.
pp. 461-478; Hamberger, Zuverlässige Nachrichten,
&c., vol. iii. p. 686, &c.; Fabric. Bibl. Graec.
vol. viii. p. l, &c.; Leich, Commentatio de Vita et Rebus Gestis Const. Porphyr.,
Leipzig, 1746, 4to., and also in his and Reiske's edition of Constantine's works, as well as in the Bonn edition of " De Cerem. Aulae Byzant."