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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

Justinian the Great and his successors (518-610)

Religious problems and the Fifth Ecumenical Council   -Cf. Acts of the Fifth Ecumenical Council


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However, things changed very soon. Pope Agapetus and a party of the Akoimetoi (extreme orthodox), upon arriving at Constantinople, raised such an uproar against the religious pliancy of Anthimus that Justinian was forced regretfully to change his policy. Anthimus was deposed and his place was taken by the orthodox presbyter, Menas. One source relates the following conversation between the Emperor and the pope: I shall either force you to agree with us, or else I shall send you into exile, said Justinian, to which Agapetus answered, I wished to come to the most Christian of all emperors, Justinian, and I have found now a Diocletian; however, I fear not your threats. It is very likely that the Emperor's concessions to the pope were caused partly by the fact that the Ostrogothic war began at this time in Italy and Justinian needed the support of the West.

In spite of this concession, Justinian did not forsake further attempts of reconciliation with the Monophysites. This time he raised the famous question of the Three Chapters. The matter concerned three church writers of the fifth century: Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrus, and Ibas of Edessa. The Monophysites accused the Council of Chalcedon because in spite of the Nestorian ideas of these three writers, it had failed to condemn them. The pope and the Akoimetoi advanced very strong opposition. Justinian, greatly provoked, declared that in this case the Monophysites were right and the orthodox must agree with them. He issued in the early forties a decree which anathematized the works of the three writers and threatened to do the same to all people who might attempt to defend or approve them.

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