Sunday, October 09, 2011

From a Groom to an Emperor – Part I – A boy named Basil.

If you thought that only in fairytales some groom could become an emperor, you were wrong. History teaches us that such things are possible even in real life, and the best example of that is Byzantine emperor Basil I the Macedonian.

In one Thracian village, in the home of a poor peasant, possibly an  Armenian immigrant, a boy was borne whom they named Basil. History knows him as Basil the Macedonian, because, at the time of his birth, this part of Thrace belonged to theme, or military-administrative unit, called Macedonia. Some scientists believe that Basil was born in 830 or 835, while others say that he was born on May 25, 836.

Several strange events suggested that this newborn boy would have a bright future. 

On one warm summer day, his parents went to work on the field, and they left their son in the shade where he fell asleep. Then an eagle showed up and, flying around him, sheltered him with the shadow of his wings. Basil’s mother was scared at first and tried to chase away the bird. But the eagle came back. That is when she accepted this as a sign of God.  In addition, she allegedly had a dream in which from her womb came out a golden tree full of golden flowers and fruit, and this tree grew so big that it threw a shadow over the entire house.

Another time, again in a dream, Prophet Elijah spoke to Basil’s mother. This tall old man with white beard from whose mouth a flame was burning, foretold success and happiness to her son. 

His father’s death affected his family greatly, and Basil, who had to take care of his mother and sisters, realized that from agriculture they could only live a difficult and meager life. He decided to try his luck and went to Constantinople.

On a late Sunday afternoon, he entered the "Queen of Cities" through the Golden Gate. Sources say that he was poorly dressed and had just a bundle and a stick. At first, he watched with amazement wide streets and large buildings of the city on the Bosphorus, but, when the night came, he had to seek some place to sleep.

Since he knew no one in Byzantine capital, and was already exhausted from a long journey and the tide of unusual impressions that splashed him on arrival in Constantinople, he lay under the porch of the famous monastery of Saint Diomedes and fell asleep. 

To read Part II – Little Theophilus and Big Basil, click HERE.

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