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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

Justinian the Great and his successors (518-610)

St. Sophia 


The Original Greek New Testament

St. Sophia or the Great Church, as it was called throughout the East, was constructed by the orders of Justinian on the site of the small basilica of St. Sophia (divine wisdom) which was set on fire during the Nika revolt (532). In order to make this temple a building of unusual splendor, Justinian, according to late tradition, ordered the governors of the provinces to furnish the capital with the best pieces of ancient monuments. Enormous quantities of marble of various colors and shades were also transported to the capital from the richest mines. Silver, gold, ivory, and precious stones were brought in to add further magnificence to the new temple. The Emperor chose for the execution of this grandiose project two gifted architects, Anthemius and Isidore. Both were natives of Asia Minor, Anthemius from the city of Tralles, and Isidore from Miletus. They attacked their great task with enthusiasm and skillfully guided the work of ten thousand laborers. The Emperor visited the construction personally, watching its progress with keen interest, offering advice, and arousing the zeal of the workers. In five years the construction was completed. On Christmas Day of the year 537 the triumphant dedication of St. Sophia took place in the presence of the Emperor. Later sources related that the Emperor, overwhelmed by his attainment, said upon entering the temple: Glory be to God who deemed me worthy of this deed! I have conquered thee, Solomon! On this triumphant occasion the population was granted many favors and great celebrations were arranged in the capital.  

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