"Justice for all" Basilica Sant'Apollinare Nuovo Tip by iandsmith

Basilica Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna: 28 reviews and 89 photos

  Mosaic depicting Justinian
by iandsmith

Near today's Skopje, in 482 AD, a man was born whose relevance is still felt to this day. Flavius Petrus Sabatius was his name but you probably know him from the name his uncle changed it to - Justinian - when he was 12.
His uncle had moved up the military circles of Constantinople and brought his sister to the capital. It was here Justinian's curiousity ran riot and he absorbed the philosophies and teachings of the great monasteries.
His uncle Justus became emperor in 518 AD and made Justinian a count and later a consul but he didn't get involved in court life and lived an austere life on cereal and vegetables, constantly obsessed about danger and secret plots. In fact, anxiety often overwhelmed him but in 521 he met Theodora, aged twenty, who was half his age. She influenced him greatly for the rest of his life as she felt he would be a powerful man and he started flaunting himself openly until he was the most popular aristocrat in Constantinople.
In just a few months he spent 2,800 gold coins from the treasury on games and the like for the masses while being ever faithful to church dogma. On 1st April, 527, the ageing and very ill emperor passed his crown over.
Theodora was the power behind the throne and she too was crowned and they spent lavishly but, from 528, Justinian devoted himself to his famous work, The Justinian Code. Two thousand works from forty authors were compressed into about one twentieth the size for the final work. Legal status was given to about 50 books called the "Digesta" and there were another four works for students of the University.
Today this work forms the basis of law for many countries still.
Justinian taxed heavily to sustain his excessive lifestyle and wars against the Persians and others.
Eventually the populous railed against him and repressive measures were taken against them and capital works (such as the reconstruction of Hagia Sophia) were undertaken at great expense.
Justinian was displeasing many but none more so than the new power from the church in Rome and, when Theodora died in 548 AD, he was incapable of ruling and others basically did it for him.
Despite plots and ineptness he managed to last until he was 82 and he died in 565 AD, leaving a legacy of laws we have inherited.
Despite references and such, like the prominent mosaic on the back wall of San Apollinare Nuovo di Classe shown in the picture, the famous emperor never set foot in Ravenna.

Address: Via di Roma, 52

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Dec 29, 2009
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