Monday, January 10, 2011

The blinding
of the Byzantine Emperor
John IV Laskaris /

Η τύφλωση
του Βυζαντινού αυτοκράτορα
Ιωάννη Δ΄ Λάσκαρη



Emperor
Michael VIII Palaiologos
/
Ο αυτοκράτορας
Μιχαήλ Η' Παλαιολόγος



Emperor
John IV Laskaris
/
Ο αυτοκράτορας
Ιωάννης Δ' Λάσκαρης
«Τούτοις καταστρατηγηθέντος τοῖς λογισμοῖς τοῦ βασιλέως [ενν. του Μιχαήλ Η' Παλαιολόγου]—ὑπέκαιε γὰρ αὐτὸν ὁ τῆς μοναρχίας ἔρως, καὶ τὴν παρερχομένην δόξαν περὶ πλείονος ἐτίθει τοῦ θείου φόβου διὰ τὴν τοῦ πλείονος ὄρεξιν, βουλὴν βουλεύεται μάλα μὲν αἰσχίστην, μάλα δὲ καὶ Θεοῦ πόρρω βάλλουσαν, καὶ πέμψας ἐκτυφλοῦν τὸν παῖδα [ενν. τον Ιωάννη Δ΄ Λάσκαρη] προσέταττε, παιδίον ἁπαλὸν καὶ μηδὲν ἔτι σχεδὸν τελέως ἢ τὸ χαίρειν ἢ τὸ λυπεῖσθαι μαθόν, καί γ’ ἐν ἴσῳ τιθέμενον τό τ’ ἄρχειν καὶ τὸ ἄρχεσθαι, μόνῳ δὲ τῷ πατριάρχῃ πιστεῦον καὶ τοῖς οὕτω τὰ κατ’ αὐτὸν διοικοῦσι, καὶ μηδὲ ὅ τί ἐστιν ὅρκος εἰδός, ἐξ οὗ καὶ θαρρεῖν εἶχε μὲν οὐκ αὐτός, ἀλλ’ οἱ περὶ ἐκεῖνον, ἐκεῖνον σῴζεσθαι. Γίνεται γοῦν ὡς τὴν ἀρχὴν προσετάχθη, καὶ τὸ βρέφους μικρὸν ὑπερβεβηκὸς παιδίον στερεῖται τοῦ βλέπειν, τοῦτο μόνον φιλανθρωπευσαμένων τῶν περὶ τὸν Ἐξώτροχον ἐξυπηρετουμένων τῷ μιαρῷ τολμήματι τὸ μὴ σιδήροις ἐκπυρωθεῖσι τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς λυμήνασθαι, ἀλλ’ ἠχείῳ τινὶ πυρωθέντι ἐπὶ τῶν ὄψεων φερομένῳ ἐξοπτῆσαι τῷ νεανίσκῳ τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς, ἀπομαρανθέντας τῇ ἐκπυρώσει καὶ ἠρέμα σβεσθέντας τὸ ὀπτικόν. Μεθὸ δὲ ταῦτ’ ἐτολμήθη κατ’ αὐτὴν ἡμέραν τῆς ἑορτῆς τοῦ Σωτῆρος καθ’ ἣν ἄρα καὶ ἐγεννήθη, χειρὶ μὲν παρανόμῳ, προστάξει δὲ παρανομωτέρᾳ, φέροντες ἐκ Χηλῆς φόρτον ἐλεεινὸν καὶ οἷον ἄψυχον, τῷ πρὸς θάλασσαν τῆς Δακιβύζης φρουρίῳ ἐν ἀσφαλεῖ κατακλείουσι καί οἱ φρουροὶ ἐγκαθίστανται, ἀποταχθέντος αὐτάρκους σιτηρεσίου τῷ ἐγκεκλεισμένῳ. Ὅρκοι δ’ ἐκεῖνοι καὶ συνθεσίαι καὶ ἐμπεδώσεις φρικταὶ ὡς λάχανα κατεδήδοτο βασιλεῖ δοκοῦντι θεοφίλειαν ἔχειν, δι’ ἣν καὶ προὐτιμᾶτο παρὰ τῆς ἐκκλησίας εἰς τὴν ἀρχήν. Ἀλλ’ ἦν ἄρα τὸ λεγόμενον ἀληθές, ὡς ἀρχὰ δείξοι ἄνδρα· ἔδειξε γὰρ ἡ ἀρχὴ κἀκεῖνον, ὅπως ἔμελέ οἱ τοῦ δικαίουκαὶ τῆς περὶ τὸν Θεὸν εὐλαβείας. Πλὴν τυφλώττων κἀκεῖνος τῇ τῆς δόξης ματαιότητι τὴν ψυχήν, ἐκτυφλοῦν ἐκέλευε σωματικῶς τὸν ἀναίτιον».

Γεώργιος Παχυμέρης / George Pachymeres,
Συγγραφικαὶ Ἱστορίαι 3:10,


A. Failler and V. Laurent,
Georges Pachymérès. Relations historiques,
Corpus Fontium Historiae Byzantinae,
Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1984,
Vol./Τόμ. 24.1,
pp./σσ. 257-259.






«With the two other methods of blinding, that is by fire and by pouring 'heated liquid', the executioners were able to achieve a controlled blinding, i.e., the incomplete blinding of the victim. This was easily achieved either by regulating the temperature of the heated iron or the boiling liquid, or by holding the heated tool closer to or further from the eyes or finally by regulating the amount of liquid poured on the eyes. The case of Leo Curopalates and Nicephorus is mentioned as typical. In this case the executioners held the red-hot iron tool at such a distance so as to burn only the eyelashes. The blinding of John Lascaris is also interesting. Pachymeres describes this event in detail: 'And the child whose age was just beyond the age of babyhood is denied its vision and in this only the executioners showed mercy, in that when they executed the abominable deed they did not destroy the eyes with an iron tool but with a drum which was heated and which they brought before the eyes of the youth. This in order to char his eyes which withered in the heat and also that his visual faculty might dim gradually (ηρέμα) (Pachymeres 1, 191, 20, 192, 1-6). According to this detailed description by Pachymeres it is clear that a heated iron was not used, for this would cause total blindness. But a heated drum, was held close to the eyes and this dried them out or withered them apparently creating a small leucoma of the cornea and a small drop in visual acuity, that is partial blindness. It is characteristic that in using the word 'gradually' in this case, which might be interpreted to mean, 'quietly', 'lightly', 'slowly', the partial loss of vision is plainly implied in point of fact (Stamatakos 1972). Conversely in the case of pouring liquid, highly heated, or even in the case where the heated tool came into direct contact with the eyes so as to be termed 'sizzling' by historians, then it is certain that total blindness of the victims followed. A characteristic example is the penalty of blinding by fire in the case of Isaac Angelus which resulted in total blindness because, as Nicetas Choniata asserts, when he was restored to the throne with his son Alexius, 'he assumed the royal throne led by the hand because he had suffered blinding by fire' (Choniata 727; Lampsidis 1949; Karayiannopoulos 1977)».


John Lascaratos & S. Marketos,
«The penalty of blinding during Byzantine times»
Η ποινή της τύφλωσης κατά τους βυζαντινούς χρόνους»],
Documenta Ophthalmologica,
Kluwer Academic Publishers (Netherlands),
Issue/Τεύχος 81: 133-144, 1992,
p./σ. 143.

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