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Chapter XXXIII.—Desecration of the Altar of the Great Church by Runaway Slaves.

While matters were in this state it happened that an outrage was perpetrated in the church. For the domestics of a man of quality who were foreigners, having experienced harsh treatment from their master, fled from him to the church; and thus they ran up to the very altar with their swords drawn.10121012    Cf. Bingham, Christ. Antiq. VIII. 11. Nor could they be prevailed upon by any entreaties to withdraw; so that they impeded the performance of the sacred services; but inasmuch as they obstinately maintained their position for several days, brandishing their weapons in defiance of any one who dared to approach them—and in fact killed one of the ecclesiastics, and wounded another—they were finally compelled to slay themselves. A person who was present at this desecration of the sanctuary, remarked that such a profanation was an ominous presage, and in support of his view of the matter, quoted the two following iambics of an ancient poet:—

172“For such prognostics happen at a time

When temples are defiled by impious crime.”

Nor was he who made the prediction disappointed in these inauspicious forebodings: for they signified as it seems a division among the people, and the deposition of the author of it.


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