Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Tiberius II., emperor of Constantinople

Tiberius (2) II., emperor of Constantinople, 578–582. For the secular history of his reign see D. of G. and R. Biogr. We shall confine ourselves to the religious history of the period, for which the church history of the Monophysite John of Ephesus (Dr. Payne Smith's trans.) afforded fresh material. Tiberius presented a striking example of toleration in an intolerant age. The patriarchs of Constantinople were ardent opponents of the Monophysites. The patriarch, John Scholasticus, soon after the emperor's accession to the position of Caesar (a.d. 574), called on him to persecute the Monophysites. The emperor, having extorted from the patriarch an acknowledgment of their Christian character, declared he would not become a Diocletian in persecuting such followers of Christ. Eutychius, restored after John in 577, again urged Tiberius in the same direction, and again Tiberius refused, whereupon Eutychius, of his own motion, set the laws against heresy in operation (cf. John of Ephesus, H. E. pp. 72, 201). On p. 207 John relates Tiberius's only act of persecution. He had hired an army of Goths (Arians) to fight against the Persians. They left their families at Constantinople, stipulating for the use of a church for Arian worship. Tiberius consulted the patriarch, whereupon interested parties roused the mob to hoot the emperor and accuse him of Arianism. To clear himself he permitted the mob to attack the houses of all heretics. A book concerning the nature of the resurrection, published by Eutychius, taught that the body would be impalpable like a pure spirit. Gregory, afterwards pope Gregory the Great, then a deacon and Roman apocrisiarius at the imperial court, at once detected heresy in the patriarch's teaching. The emperor, being appealed to, decided in favour of Gregory, while the patriarch was induced to burn the obnoxious book. John of Ephesus, p. 192, says that Tiberius substituted a cross on his coins for a female figure, like Venus, which Justin introduced. See also Evagr. H. E. v. 11–22; Paul Diac. Hist. Miscell. lib. xvii.; Theophan. Chronogr. i. 380–387; Baron. Annal. a.d. 582–585; Clinton's Fasti, p. 840.