Visiting Eternity

Emperor Justin I


Eastern Roman Emperor Justin I was born to a family of a peasant. He joined the military service of the palace guard. Being clever, strong, resilient, loyal and volitional fighter, he rose to the rank of military leader and was appointed head of the palace guard at the rank of comes and senator. In 518, after the death of childless Anastasius I, Justin became emperor, receiving support from the Guards, the Senate and Patriarch John I, who assured the Senate that the new emperor would follow the decisions of the Council of Chalcedon.

Justin I was born in the hamlet Baderiana rear Skopje. As he did not have children of his own, he invited to Constantinople his nephew Justinian, who later succeeded him as Emperor.


Emperor Justinian I

Justinian was well educated in jurisprudence, theology and Roman history. During Justin's reign, Justinian was the emperor's close confidant. As Justin became frail towards the end of his life, Justinian became de facto the ruler. In 521 was appointed consul, and later commander of the army. After Justin’s death in 527 Justinian became the sole emperor.

Justinian knew how to interact with people and was always surrounded by talented advisers and military leaders, however, decisions were always made by himself, which many in the Senate did not like. Justinian was very lucky to marry Theodora, who became one of the brightest figures in history, despite her common origin. Daughter of a zookeeper, a circus actress, a dancer and a courtesan, she had beauty, intelligence, a strong will and a craving for knowledge. Low origin largely determined her attitude to the court nobility. After her marriage to Justinian, she turned into a virtuous woman, and conducted correspondence, participated in theological disputes, reception of ambassadors and other public affairs.

Only once was the emperor's determination and firmness shaken - during Nika riots, when Justinian wanted to flee the capital. But he was chastened by his wife Theodora, who said: "Who wore the tiara once should not fear death, and purple makes the best shroud." The Emperor stayed in the capital.

After successfully crushing the Nika riot Justinian I began to strengthen its power. He decided to build in Constantinople the largest cathedral of Hagia Sophia on the place where the original church was burned down during the Nika riots. For this purpose, in 532 he invited the most famous architects of that time, who had experience in designing and building grand structures. They were Anthemius of Tralles and Isidore of Milet.


Physician Stephanus

In the city of Tralles (modern Aydın in Turkey) during the era of Emperors Justin I and Justinian I there lived a doctor - Stephanus of Tralles. Stephanus was an ordinary city doctor. He did not stand out from the crowd of educated citizens and his name would have been lost likenames of many millions lived before and after him, but he became known thanks to his famous sons Anthemius, Dioscorus, Alexander, Olympius and Metrodorus. The most famous of them were Alexander - a famous doctor in Constantinople, and Anthemius of Tralles (in Greek Ἀνθέμιος ὁ Τραλλιανός) – an architect and mathematician, who together with Isidore of Miletus designed and constructed the temple of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.

Stephanus lived in an ordinary house, which was located on the bank of the great Menderes River. This house had a patio with awnings, which allowed to rest from the heat in summer, as well as hide from the rain in the autumn-winter season.

While no drawings or sketches of this house survived, if we listen to the voice of the unconscious, we can see the following...


Anthemius of Tralles

After completing his education Anthemius put his skills to practice with the design and construction of various structures. The land Anthemius lived in was reach in architecture of various construction techniques, as it had a lot of Greek buildings - a living example from which he studied the proportions and other elements of design.

To get acquainted with the works of the architects of Rome, Anthemius travelled to the former capital of the empire. At that time, it was a long and unsafe venture. In Rome Anthemius visited the Pantheon. Designed by the architect Apollodorus of Damascus and completed around 125 AD during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian. Pantheon represents the best technical skill and artistic expression of Roman architecture.

Rome impressed Anthemius with its splendor and architectural forms. Anthemius spent a long time standing in the square in front of the Pantheon and observing the temple dedicated to all the Gods of the Empire. His attention was attracted by a giant dome supported by the walls of extraordinary thickness, without those the dome would have crushed the entire structure…


Isidore of Miletus


Isidore of Miletus lived in a city that grew up on the site of a settlement that dates back 4000 years BC. Founded by the Ionians in the 10th century BC, Miletus was ruled by the Neleid dynasty and before the Persian invasion of the 6th century BC, Miletus was considered one of the greatest and wealthiest Greek cities. Since 129 AD Miletus was under the authority of Rome, and later Byzantine Empire.

Isidore of Miletus was the architect who, together with Anthemius of Tralles, constructed Hagia Sofia in Constantinople. Isidore studied mathematics, geometry and mechanics from the works of Heron of Alexandria, who lived in the 1st - 2nd century AD. Heron of Alexandria left a rich heritage. He invented many useful things and technologies, such as automatic doors leading to the temple, an automatic sales machine, a steam turbine, a device for measuring the length of roads (taximeter), programmable devices and others. He wrote works on mechanics (preserved in Arabic translation), works on optics and more.

Isidore was also familiar with the works of Vitruvius and his Triad, and for some time he taught sciences in Alexandria and Constantinople. He wrote works on history and construction, which later he put into practice in the design and construction of the Hagia Sophia.


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Iconographer Semyon Anfimov

Distant descendants of the Byzantines, who worked on construction, restoration and decoration of churches in medieval Russia lived in the village of Fomikha. One of them was Semyon Anfimov, who was fond of drawing and painted frescos and icons. He had no formal education in art, but he inherited all his skills and knowledge in working with paints and brushes from his distant ancestors and old masters, with whom he decorated the church named after Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. This temple was built in 1830, but the decoration of the inner walls and the dome was carried out for a long decade.

The son of Semyon Anfimov - Semyon Semyonovich (1880-1971), also had a propensity for drawing and painting. His paintings were exhibited at the St. Petersburg art exhibition in 1905 and postcards from them were printed during the reign of Nicholas II.

After the 1905 revolution Semyon Semyonovich Anfimov moved with his family to Kharkov, where he took part in restoration of churches. He carried out the most difficult and labor-intensive work to restore the inner dome - lying on his back on scaffolding at a dizzying height. On the walls of his house in Kharkov there were paintings and icons of his own making. Semyon Anfimov painted in oil very quickly, he often used sticks instead of brushes, and sometimes his thumb. He painted air and perspective very skilfully.

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