Friday, July 26, 2013
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Monday, October 29, 2012
It's an interesting letter! Enjoy!
Thursday, September 13, 2012
[Update: I recently came across the original Italian poem Cyriacus wrote in D’Ancona, Cyriaco (2003) Later Travels. Ed. and trans. Edward W. Bognar.
Alma città laconica spartana,
gloria de Grecia, già del mondo exemplo
d'arme e de castità, gymnasio e templo
e d'ogni alma virtù specchio e fontana
se politia, costumi, e legge humana
con l'altre tue moral virtù contemplo
poi te remiro in Eurota, extemplo
exclamo al chor del'alma tua Diana
Dove è 'l tuo bon Lycurgo, ove Dioscori,
diri gemelli, Castore e Polluce?
Anaxandrida, Orythyada, e Gylippo,
Euriste e Leonida? Ove demori
Atride e Pausania? O chiaro duce
Lysandro, Aristo, Agesilao e Xanthippo?
Non Roma, non Phillipo
dixe: "Ma è 'l saecol vil vostro. Adconfino
la volta in Mysithra sub Constantino
Translated that is:
Great Laconian city of Sparta,
glory of Greece, once example to the world
of arms, chastity, gymnasium and temple
and mirror and font of every noble virtue
If I contemplate your constitution, customs, and human law
with your other moral virtues
then I marvel again at Eurotas; suddenly
I exclaim to the chorus of your great Diana
Where is your good Lycurgus, where are the Dioscori,
the dire twins, Castor and Pollux?
Anaxandrides, Orythyades, and Gylippus,
Eurystus and Leonidas? Where do you dwell
son of Atreas and Pausanias? O famous leader
Lysander, Aristo, Agesilaus, and Xanthippus?
Not Rome, not Phillip
said, "This is your wretched age. I assign
the turn to Mistra under Constantine.]
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
ADMONITION TO THE EMPEROR
by Katakalon Kekaumenos
When some say that the emperor is not below the law, but is the law, I agree with them. However, As long as he acts and makes laws justly, we obey him. Were he to say, "Drink poison", then absolutely don't do it. If he says, "Get in the sea and swim across it", you do not have to do this. Recognize that the emperor is a man who is below divine law. On this account, we are creating this writing for our pious and Christ-loving emperors who come after.
Holy lord, God has raised you on high to the imperial throne and made you by his favor, as it is said, into God on earth to do and act as he wills. Hence, let your deeds and doings be filled with wisdom and truth and let righteousness be in your heat. Look and act eye to eye with everyone, those in office and those otherwise, and do not abuse some freely and show favor to some contrary to what is right, but treat everyone equally. Let he who errs be compensated measurably for his errors even if you sympathize with him and forgive him his failing as it befits God and an emperor. Don't get angry at someone who has done you no wrong, but rather you should be glad, since he who does not wrong you is better above all than he who has. And if you show favor to he who has wronged you...and you should do good to bad and bad to good.
Don't pay attention to false accusers. I'm not saying you should completely ignore them; there are some tattle-tales who do tell the truth. Put both's story to the test and send away the false accuser empty-handed, but not in an insulting manner, while you do good for the person telling the truth. If you hear people accuse an official of yours of plotting against you, don't let evil get the better of your soul and try to kill him, but conduct a thorough investigation first secretly, then if you find there's some truth to it put him on trial openly, freely...hence you'll make an enemy out of him and many other people on account of him.
Let your benefactions be accounted and let the people you deemed worthy attend to them...benefactions by the emperors to the people not worthy. If you want to help out mimes and the people they call ‘politicians’, help them out with a few coins and not with honors, since by definition an honor goes to someone honorable. If you honor a mime as protospatharios or a dishonorable man, likewise if you honor your notary or secretary as patrician, then your soldier who wants to spill his blood for you will think the honor is worthless. I have seen much of this. I have seen judges worthy of ridicule prosper while the wisest and the best of men are held in contempt by the emperors including even good soldiers for the gain of liars and fortune-hunters to my utter despair unable to bear it in my heart.
Take care especially of your soldiers. Do not reduce their pay, since when a soldier receives this from you, he is selling his blood. Give them honors, but not all of them, just those who have distinguished themselves. Foreign forces in imperial service and Roman reserves [Ῥωμαῖοι οἱ φυλάσσοντες] should not be denied, but should receive their grain each month without hassle as well as their fodder and pay for upkeep [τὰς ρόγας αὐτῶν σώας]. Honor them and they will not conspire against you. If they are denied these items, they will naturally want to leave for where they can get them and become your implacable enemies, and from that day forward they will not come back over to your side remembering that nothing good was done to them by you, rather that they were taken advantage of and will separate people favorable to you from you. And then without any aid, you will truly regret it.
For you foreign forces, if they not are not of the royal line of their country, do not elevate them to high honors or entrust them with high offices, since you will so be diminishing your own importance and that of your Roman officials. When you honor a foreign soldier from
Ask and learn, your Lordship, how [foreigners] came in many circumstance to prior emperors such as the Lord Basil the Porphyrogennetos (976-1025), his father, his grandfather, his great-grandfather, and even further back. And why am I even talking about emperors back then. Neither the lord Romanos Argyropolos (1025-1034), nor any of those blessed emperors appointed a Frank or Varangian to the honor of patrician or would even make him a consul or a commander of soldiers and would just barely make them a spatharios. Yet all of them worked for food and clothes while Romans received high offices and did great deeds with
I cite for your Imperial Majesty the example of my grandfather Nikoulitzes, who after many labors for
I cite for you another example, my holy lord. Senachyreim, as you know, was the descendant of ancient kings who wanted to give his lands to the emperor lord Basil the porphrogennetos and become his servant. The emperor receiving his show of affection honored him as magister and nothing more, even when he was the descendant of ancient kings and a king himself.
I have one last example for your Imperial Majesty before I stop in this vein. Harald was the son of the king of the Varangia, who had a brother Olaf, who after the death of their father took their father’s throne appointing his brother Harald his successor to the throne. As he was young, he wanted to come and pay homage to the emperor Michael the Paphlagonian (1034-1041), which he did coming in sight of the Roman state. He brought with him also a group of five hundred noble men. When he came, the emperor received as it was possible and sent him with his people to
And do not overburden your city, the countries under you, or the army, but always be a father to everyone and they will serve you conscientiously. Some time ago, a mischievous man gave different advice to the porphyrogennetos Lord Basil desiring for Basil’s destruction. He said, “Make poor your people.” Do that, and they will hate you and especially rise up against you. Don’t treat horses like that and don’t treat like that sentient people who consider and think about whether they are treated well or badly. Your Majesty must do and act according to your fear of god. And as for your soldiers, do not deny them their pay or likewise the senators and citizens, and each of them according to their duty, as it was first noted, will serve you and will not mutter. And as for the countries under your rule, do not put upon them daily increases, appearances, and foreign and new fangled notions, and they will not revolt from you, but they will serve you whole-heartedly if they provide according to their ability yearly taxes to the treasury.
And as for the foreign countries beneath you, do not weigh them down. Command your generals to practice moderation and piety and to not act rashly or bear a grudge against anyone, but to protect judges so that they can judge with fear of God and justice. And what is the sight which we see now? It is the drawing of soldiers in battle lines more than necessary not only in demanded debts, but also in pointless marches.
Command the familiars of Your Majesty not to anyone, nor to put in power bad men and enemies of the truth, but rather if someone comes to them who has been wronged, to put him in power. And give them permission to remind Your Imperial Majesty of the people who are wronged. Your relatives should fear you and not have the go-ahead to wrong people.
I cite for you, my lord, the disaster that happened in the Paphlagonian's reign. This blessed emperor did not have noteworthy parents, but and obscure and utterly base parents, though he still had great virtues. Some without learning say that he was well-born and from a great race, but really he was ill-born and base. I say that all men are children of one man, Adam, whether they are emperors, nobles, or beggars. I have seen those of great descent fall on deceit, divination, and magic, and I say that it is them who are ill-born. For a sentient man can, if he wants, become divine by the grace of God.  The emperor lord Michael, as it was said, had great virtues though he had legitimate kinsmen who were many and poor, who were looked after by the orphanotrophos. He was the emperor's brother who was in charge of the palace. He wanted to enrich them and gave them permission to steal from other people, of which the emperor knew nothing. Message-bearers and imperial men sent in his service wherever they met a man on horseback whether in a hotel or on an abandoned road, they threw him from his horse or mule, took possession of it, and departed. On this account, this wonderful and conspicuous emperor became hated for the most part because of the injustices of his kinsmen and everyone was ready to be rid of his family. Not much later he died. Having died in peace and repentance, his nephew became emperor only to be risen up against by the entire city and those from outside found within using as a pretext against him his exiling of the empress. He and entire family were expelled in a single day. In his place, Monomachos became emperor who wasted and destroyed the
Your Majesty should remember this. The chief man of your Imperial Majesty who handles everything should remind you of every subject and things should come to your attention, of which you have knowledge. If you follow my meager and humble words, you end your life in utter peace. If you give yourself up to frivolous pleasures, then many things in life shall impede you.
Indeed, the emperor is the pattern and model of conduct for everyone who look to him and imitate his conduct. If it is good, they are eager to adopt and imitate it. If it is bad and condemnable, they do likewise. Hold and keep the four virtues: courage, justice, restraint, and prudence. There is prudence for the good and prudence for the bad. It is the same with courage, restraint, and justice where one would not find action for the bad. Possessing these virtues, as it was said, raises you up from earth to the heavens with your praise being great and the Lord bestowing on you many days as justice and truth flowers both on your face and in your heart.
Let many products be deposited at your disposal for you, the imperial court, and your capital. Let arrows, many arms, spears, breast plates, helmets, shields, swords, and anything else needed for war be at your side. Let siege machinery and caltrops be at your side. You do not know what bad people want. I have seen something of the following sort and life altered.
I have seen the former emperor Michael who was Caesar (1041-1042) being the mighty emperor with the sun's rising and at the third hour of the day have become piteous, alone, and blind. You should not become arrogant, my Lord, of the glory of your Imperial Majesty, but rather take pride in your power and say, “What is able to bring me down from the height of my glory? A single change of fate says the greatly wise theologian Gregory and a change of many matters. Let your hope be in God and security. As God made us capable of thinking, we must keep ourselves in his favor looking ahead and after our salvation trusting in him.
You should not accept flattery from anyone, but rather keep friends who embarrass you. I cite for your Imperial Majesty this example. Augustus, Caesar's son, was arrogant, cruel, and immoral with contempt-worthy and evil purposes yet with natural intelligence, he said, “I’m no good without an instructor.” And so he sent for in Alexandria Athenodoros a poor man lacking in much honor, but prudent and very wise nonetheless as attested to by some of those in the palace who said he was very prudent and wise. To him, Augustus said, "Do you know why Athenodoros I have brought you here with such honor?" He replied that he did not know. Caesar said, "I have habits that go against my office, so having heard that you are a good man in counsel and action, I wanted to have you as my friend and counselor so that when you see me doing things and saying things that are not good and are contemptible in nature you might tell me I am wrong in private. And if I do not accept your correction, openly do it to me." Athenodoros replied, “Okay, but as for you, my lord, do not turn you face away when you are rebuked or belittled me, and I will be a doctor for you in this way." He did not cease to tell him what he was doing wrong every day until finally he made him virtuous. When he asked permission to return to him homeland, he was not given permission by Caesar, who said to him, "My dearest friend, I am yet incomplete.”
Then he wanted to meet Abgar, the king of
You should have a man like this who you give permission to tell you what you are saying and doing wrong every day. You should not say that, "I am wise and I know everything." To this I say to you, "There are many things you know, but greater still is what you don't know. God alone does not forget, while man, whoever he is, is fallible. As the angel said to Zosimas, "No man is everything."
As for your army, you should not disband it and make it poor, since you are really only making yourself poor and weaken yourself, since the army is the glory of the emperor and the strength of the palace. Indeed, without an army, your public servants do not stand by you, but anyone will oppose you.
Endeavor likewise to always keep the fleet in top shape and without any shortages as the fleet is the glory of
Just as an eagle flying in the air, if it is missing a wing, does not fly well, so the long boats, if they are missing oars, do not sail well. Naval commanders also do further damage when accept gifts from soldiers. By letting them go unarmed, the soldiers henceforth turn in flight when confronted by the enemy. Even then ‘confronted’ might be too much. They don’t even come into their sight before they flee bring dishonor to the Romans.
When the long boats head for the islands on the pretext of patrolling, they do nothing else except collect grain, barley, pulses, cheese, wine, meat, olives, much money, and whatever else the islands have from the
Follow this same injunction for the officials of the fleet and let them be without deficiencies in the things they need. And if they are corrupt, teach them a lesson through flogging, tonsure, and monetary punishment. Naval officials after having stayed in the fleet for many years are in the habit of possessing laziness, rest, and luxury, in which total complacency emerges. You must keep the fleet on its toes and if you see them carrying on and acting as such, you must expel them from the fleet and put others in charge in their place.
If I might say something to your pious Majesty, there is something which if you do it, will not be harmful, but will bring you much security. If you see naval officials disposed as it was said above, do not replace them in their rank with other naval officials, but find old counts and droungarioi, who you ought to expel from the ranks because of their lack of activity or whom you have already expelled, and make them commanders of the fleet. Address them as such, “You know that you are old, inactive, and fit to rest in your homes, but My Imperial Majesty realizing that, returning home you would be deprived of necessities for which you have labored, cannot tolerate to deprive you of them. For this reason, I have appointed you commanders of the fleet so that you will be self sufficient and not be neglected, but dedicated so to speak you will be able to win victories God willing. Recognize that if you do this, you will not fall short of your aim, but your fleet will be in perfect condition. Also keep archers on board your long boats. Let the droungarios and the protonotarios of the fleet be pious, active, capable, wise, fearing God and your Imperial Majesty. They should pay attention to and search for with precision the slightest thing which is done in the fleet. If the fleet falls into nothingness, you will fall.
I am aware, Your Majesty, that it is human nature to be inclined to laziness. This tendency above is made even more harmful should the emperor not visit the lands subject to him in the east and west, but instead remain bound as though in prison in Constantinople. Indeed if someone restrained you to one city, you would not put up with it and depart, but it is you have done this to yourself. What need be said? Go, visit the lands under you and go to the themes and see the wrongs that the poor suffer and what the agents sent by you have done. And if the poor have been wronged, fix it. Then the Roman themes and the lands under you will know that they have a emperor and lord who is looking after them and you will make known in every theme, city, and land your might and how things are to be done, what is to be punished, and what must be done, and there will be no insurrections, no revolts against you. Your lands will be in peace.
I know that those you serve you will advise you that this is not good because of the expense and that you will weary the lands and themes by passing through them with your retinue and the imperial bodyguard. They will say as well that if you leave
 That is to say,
 The title of domestic of excubites is something of a mystery as to how this military function worked. For discussion of the title and its various holders, see Hans Joachim Kühn, Die byzantinishe Armee im 10. und 11. Jahrhundert, (
 A major hall used for audiences, etc.
 The Harald referred to here is Harald III of
 The text here may require some emendation. The word used for what a man might become is θεός ‘god.’ While it is possible for that to be the meaning in Kekaumenos (it is reminiscent of the Modern Greek expression θεός είναι), I prefer an emendation here to θείος, which fits nicely in opposition to the unsacred acts being perpetrated by nobles.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
[Note: I am republishing here an old translation and introduction that I finished a few years ago to a piece on the historian John of Epiphania, whose history is not very well known and for that purpose hopefully this extract will help give his words life.]
JOHN OF EPIPHANIA: PREFACE TO HIS HISTORY
Very few details have been preserved for us of the writer of this history. Our only sources for information about him and his life derive from a short reference to him in the Ecclesiastical History of Evagrius Book V Chapter 42 and what few details he provides about himself in his short preface. All that we can say is that he was somehow related to Evagrius with whom he shared the similar titles of σχολαστικοῦ and ἀπὸ ὑπάρχων/ἀπὸ ἐπάρχων, and that he also served as a legal advisor to Gregory, the Patriarch of Antioch, therefore being present at his meeting and trips involving the Persians from which he learned what he wrote.
Of John’s history, only a fragment remains containing the first five chapters in the Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1056 of which it occupies folio 94 until the manuscript breaks off six folios later from there being too badly mutilated. What happened to the rest of the work is a mystery.
John’s history seems to have found a small audience in its time. Written perhaps a year or two after the restoration of Chosroës in 591 A.D., it was made use of in certainty by Evagrius Scholasticus before he finished in 593/4 A.D. and Theophylact Simocatta, whose work the Whitby’s date to the reign of Heraclius (1). After this century, subsequent writers seem to have made little use or none of it. Theophanes the Confessor writing in the early ninth century apparently makes use only of Theophylact Simocatta and Evagrius for the information he reproduces concerning the submission of Chosroës. In addition, Photius in his great Library makes no mention of John though he does of Evagrius with whom (perhaps) he confused John because of their similar titles, but this seems quite unlikely given that subsequently the great compiler of histories, John Zonaras, in the mid-twelfth century makes no use of him, but of almost exclusively Simocatta in his account (2). Furthermore, the fact that his history was apparently unknown to the extractors of the emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus (945-959 A.D.) who extracted many other works of the sixth century now lost also shows the small breadth of his readership and almost suggests that he may never have published the work, of which we possess this small fragment.
However, because his work was made use of by Evagrius and Theophylact, we can at least construct and suggest what his history must of looked like. We have the beginning and that allows us to see where to begin reconstructing. Evagrius V.6-14 obviously derive from John with a few of Evagrius’s own digressions into the ancient history and characteristics of some of the places such as that of Nisibis V.9 and Apamea V.10 as well as some ecclesiastical events and the madness of Justin II, which he considerably elaborates V.11. From his text we can also see what was present in the lacunae of our text. However, after this point where the manuscript breaks off, what came next is open to conjecture, but probably Evagrius follows it in summary continuing to add his own comments in chapters 14-15 and 19-22. As Evagrius ends his fifth book with the accession of Maurice, we can suppose that there too was where John ended his first part before proceeding on to what he knew.
Of Book VI by Evagrius, Chapters 1-16 probably follow John’s work more or less. The speech given by Gregory to the soldiers in 12 is probably taken word for word from John’s history and therefore should be viewed as an example of John’s style of writing speeches, which becomes useful for dealing with Theophylact Simocatta's long and tiresome discourses. Whatever the case, the letters provided in Simocatta as having passed between Varam and Chosroës almost certainly derive from John who would have had a chance to get his hands on the originals while in Persia. The subsequent information on the cross and the inscription on it as it appears in both histories also derives from John. Finally, in all probability we can say that John’s history ended where his Evagrius’s did with the death of Gregory while returning from Persia, since this would seem the ideal place.
The text below was translated from K. Muller, Fragmenta historicorum graecorum, vol. 4 (1851), p.272f.
1. Michael and Mary Whitby (trans.), The History of Theophylact Simocatta: An English Translation with Introduction, Oxford University Press, (1986) pg. xiii
2. This is evidenced by the language and the rewording of Theophylact v.15.5-8 in Zonaras pg. 189
History of the submission of Chosroes the Younger to Maurice the Roman Emperor
By John of Epiphania the Scholastic and the Expraefectus
1. What the Romans and Medians suffered and did making war on each other during the reign of the Roman emperor Justinian has been described by Agathias of Myrina, a preeminent man amongst the rhetors of Byzantium recording after Procopius of Caesarea the events happening involving the barbarians. As it is of great importance that which we have witnessed (the king of the Persians taking flight from his own land after having been deposed and submitting to the Roman State in order to gain the aid of the emperor Maurice in restoring himself to the throne), I have embarked upon this work not given confidence to do so by any particular eloquence on my part, nor by any previous study, but so that such a thing as this should not be left unspoken for posterity, since if the greatest deeds are not preserved in words and committed to memory, they will be extinguished by the darkness of silence. For words provide life as things wear away. Having been involved in some of these events and spoken with Chosroës and other particularly mentionable Medians (I was previously an advisor to Gregory, the archpriest of the city of Antioch, accompanying him frequently to meetings with them, and after the end of the war, I went with Gregory to Persia when he was promoting concord amongst them), I do not believe it is misplaced for me to narrate these events, as I am able to, to those who do not know about them. As it is necessary to know precisely about important previous events to learn about what follows, I feel I must make mention of the events that took place prior to me in brief including the revolt that took place against Hormisdas the father of Chosroes before proceeding to the rest of the work reminding those who know about these things of the actions taken and giving a starting point for those who have not heard anything at all of them to learn clearly before proceeding to subsequent events.
2. When Justinian after reigning for thirty nine years ended his life, he died in peace with other nations including the Medians and was succeeded by his nephew Justin the younger under whom the peace treaties Justinian had made with Chosroes, the Persian king, for a period of fifty five years after having waged war on another, which were in their twentieth year during the seventh year of Justin’s reign and would reach their end in the ninth year of the emperor Maurice, broke down. The causes of their strife with one another were as such: the Romans were displeased that the Persians intending to Homerites (an Indic race allied and subject to them), with them having no choice, had made an attack on them in the present period of peace. Besides this, as the Turks had sent envoys to the Romans to which the emperor Justin had responded sending Zemarchus, a member of the Senate, back with them again, the Persians planned to bribe the Alans through whose lands they were about to make their passage to become an obstruct Zemarchus and the Romans and Turks with him. The Medians had a similar way about it finding causes for war with the Romans as the Armenians, their vassals, had risen up in revolt, killed their ruler by the name of Surenes, and gone over to the Roman Empire with the Romans welcoming them and offering them an alliance. Their contentiousness increased even further (for whoever wishes to learn the most disgraceful reason, though true) when Justin did not deem to pay the Medians the five hundred pounds of gold each year previously agreed to under the peace treaties and let the Roman State remain forever a tributary of the Persians.
3. As the time drew near for the previously agreed sums of money to be taken to Chosroes (it had been agreed to pay the amount for ten years time), nothing was done as had been agreed and instead Justin, the Roman emperor, sent in haste to the east his general Marcian, who was amongst the patricians of the Senate and was related to him being not unskilled in war and exceptionally brave. Crossing the Euphrates River, Marcian came to Osroëne already when the summer was underway, and with the barbarians having no forewarning of war he sent a contingent of three thousand men to Arzanene entrusting Theodore and Sergius, who were descended from the family of Rabdios, with command of them as well as sending Juventinus, the commander of the legions in Chalkis. They invaded suddenly ravaging Persian land and returned carrying off a considerable amount of plunder in all haste. After the winter season, Marcian gathered together his forces again and set out from Dara meeting with the barbarians in front of the city of Nisibis led by Varaman, who was in command of the companies stationed them. A fierce battle followed in which the Romans turned to the barbarians to flight vigorously near the Persian place called Sarmathon bringing down many of them then making an attempt at the fortress of Thebython where they spent ten days. Unable to seize it, they returned to the city of Dara while it was still spring and again invaded enemy land planning to besiege Nisibis with the approval of the emperor Justin.
4. While they were encamped near the city, King Chosroes set out from Babylon with an army of Medians crossing the Tigris River and passing over empty land, as the Roman had not heard of the king‘s movements, and came upon the Persian fortress of Amvaron (it is five days distant from the city of Circesion), where he dispatched Adaarman, as the general was called, to cross the Euphrates River there and plunder Roman territory with thousands of his own Medians and nomadic barbarians. At the same time, he urged Avorras on to the Romans besieging Nisibis. When Adaarman reached the city of Circesion, he crossed the Euphrates and began to forage Roman lands without any restraint. For due to the previous peace and quiet that they had enjoyed during the reign of Justinian, their war time preparation had receded and their virility completely vanished. As no one dared to come to blows with the barbarians, Adaarman was able to come as far as the city of Antioch ravaging the sites and fields near the city and then advancing on Coele Syria. He made camp not far from the great city of Apamea, to whose citizens’ embassies he promised to enter the city and leave it unharmed, but then actually entering it where the Persians seized their possessions, enslaved its inhabitants, and put the entire city to the flame then returning in all haste to their own land. As a result of these actions, the emperor Justin dispatched Acacius (the Romans are accustomed to add the name of Archelaus) removing Marcian, who was still besieging Nisibis, from office because he had doubts about his loyalty as the city had not yet been taken control of.
5. As the Romans were retreating, they came to a fortress on the border named Mardes by its inhabitants where King Chosroës suddenly...laying siege himself...and the water of the city...constructing great (the word is unclear -????) by the city wall and making use of projectile launching machines against it, and because no external aid came for its inhabitants, he captured the city with the Medians violently mounting onto the city walls. He plundered the entire city and enslaved its inhabitants including even John the son of Timostratus, a man of surpassing strength and honor who had been entrusted with the rule and administration of the city, and then left behind a considerable garrison and returned home while the Romans were still holed up at the fortress of Mardes with Magnus in command, who also was in charge of imperial monies. Not many days later, Justin came down suddenly with a physical ailment and fearing for it all made a truce in that year with the Persians. As his ailment grew worse, he decided to announce his adoption of Tiberius, who commanded his bodyguards (Romans call this person the comes excubitorum) and proclaimed him Caesar handing over to him the cares of government. Of all of Justin's actions, this one, besides providing a good and indeed salutary period of rule, proved responsible for a great number of fair things for Roman affairs. When it happened that Tiberius took charge in these present circumstances, lest some terrible harm befall...to save and the starting points... seemed...Theodore who was in charge of the affairs of Armenia holding many other not ignoble offices being very learned and quite well able to see to what was necessary, so he sent off the barbarians revealing the things being done about him according to his arrangement and charging Chosroes to make a truce. A short while later, he sent off in haste to the east likewise Justinian, the son of Germanus, who numbered amongst the patricians of the Senate, entrusting him with charge of the war as he had been a man raised in the ways of war coming to maturity in it being subject neither to the rashness of youth, nor the frailty of age. Justinian came in all haste to the east taking care for the good conduct and order of his soldiers. Tiberius the Caesar then sent an army not small in number off in speed taking great care for its preparation for war by allocating a boundless sum of money and raising a mighty and war-like number from the nations taking great care for the coming war. As the duration of the truce was nearing its end, the Persians gathered themselves near Dara and came upon the city of Constantina, which Dara is four hundred and ninety stades to the west of (1).
1. Unfortunately, most of this passage must derive from the History of Theophanes of Byzantium who covered the reigns of Justin and Tiberius, which is summarized by Photius in Codex 64 and also the fragments preserved of Menander the Guardsmen 14-20 who covered the same period of time.
145. To Andronikos Doukas while on campaign against Romanus Diogenes (transl. from Bibliotheca graeca Medii Aevi. ed. Constantine Sathas.
I am not amazed that you have conquered and taken hold of the enemy by your superiority, most noble and martial man, my dearest friend, because of your so great honor, strategic sagacity, and your cunning in war. I praise you for your marches, advances, stratagems, devices, thoughtful invention, and embellished change of scale. I amazed with you for your struggles, presence in the battle, phalanx, the appearances before the routs, the division on both in columns…and of the opponent, either crosswise or on each sides, one of them in columns, the other in the cycles that men cunning in this name them. For it does not thus happen either with great fear or from the first vestibule, resplendent with victory and victories you may be received again by us, but from martial plans, from tactical movements, from lines and divisions, and noble fights and such things as the head of a general is crowned by.
For some time, we all were midair divided in our opinions on both sides and very joyous for any news from where you were. The greater part of us and more divine voices were pleased, thrice-beloved and most magnificent man, to hear from your messengers of your rout and victory. It has thus been written in the above books, or rather from above you have received these noble deeds as gifts.
You, although the head of the serpent has not yet removed, have announced this good news. It has already been lost on us, since the full length of the serpent has not yet been taken care of, while the arch-evil head has not yet been broken, though may the beast may be struck down by your lightning bolt and this, not deep below nor unseen, but high up and manifest as you come upon the den, strip down the remaining parts, and inflict a terrible poison throughout it for the righteous.
You, with hands of gold, arms of steel, and a chest of bronze, when you have completed it, please send news. For I am already devising words of praise for you for when there is final victory and I shall place an uncontaminated laurel gathered from Attic meadows upon your head.
However, there is still the basilisk upon my mind! Of whom do I speak? The most wily Chatatourios (Romanos Diogenes' commander who had eluded capture unlike the emperor), who please do not let escape and slip through your hands. Let the beast be captured at once by your hands, since he is not a part of length of the serpent, but at the same level with the head of the serpent.
After all of this, shall I pour [kisses] around your neck, shall I caress your right hand stained with righteous blood seeing with my own eyes the fair sight, and shall I proclaim you in the middle of the City climbing upon the highest surface so that my voice may be heard throughout the world, if it is possible, to make it heard the furthest away?
What is there for me to make famous of you, most sagacious of all men? For not, if you prescribe it shall it be of a contrary nature, since the memory should not be from set purpose, not from commandment, but bubbling up from below gushing forth in noble substance. I will make you famous even in Hades if indeed that is where spirits are left to remembrance.
You need craft no message about yourself, since this happening suffices for you in the place of any, even this one of mine, even if it will shortly be said that you gave life to the dead empire of the Romans.
82. To the emperor Diogenes when he was blinded (trans. from Bibliotheca graeca Medii Aevi. ed. Constantine Sathas.
I am completely at a loss, most noble and miraculous man, whether I should cry for you as a most unfortunate man, or I should be amazed at you a most glorious martyr. When I behold your sufferings surpassing in number and intensity, I count you among the most unfortunate. When I reflect upon your so blameless conscious and your desire for good, I reckon you among the martyrs. Even after myriads of evils, still you remain upright and grateful to God, so I place you above the ranks of the martyrs.
I know not whether any other person has been tried by so many evils and yet been so completely blameless. Know this from me, most divine man: every thing in life happens out of divine providence and reason. There is nothing unaccounted for, nothing unforeseen; the sleepless eye sees all and rewards the patient for their earthly anguish and misery.
I know that it is bitter to be deprived of the light, and this grievously after so many prior evils, but again I am sure that enjoyment of divine light previously readied awaits you to comfort your heart because God will light undefiled light in your spirit, and the day of salvation shall light up for you and the holy sun shall dawn for you so that you shall hate this fresh light and love that recognized and unspeakable light.
Give praise to God that you are a man whom he made his messenger, esteemed worthy to deprive of the better light of sight, and ranked amongst his sufferers [i.e. martyrs] and in depriving you of the mortal adorned you with the heaven-weaved garland.
Reflect on the coming day of judgment when either the good fortuned here will go almost entirely unnoticed on account of this, or will received paltry honor, while you shall stand on the right of just radiantly crowned with the martyr's diadem, eyes opened, inspecting the mysteries and marvels of the divine. The martyrs will caress your pained eyes, the angels will kiss them, and boldly I venture even God himself.
Reflecting upon this joy, be of good cheer, be glad at your sufferings after the divine Apostle: a man on the face of it, who God regarding your heart recognizes the divine part of it in your soul, not choking at earthly wounds body broken but look after the good seed unseen with unseen forces.
Above all and before all, I swear to you by God whom the true Logos serves that the emperor's soul is innocent and completely blameless. When it seemed not evil would happen to you, then this tribulation happened to you. He was distressed on hearing it wailing, grieving, beating his breast in anguish, weeping torrents of tears, wishing to die many times, and utterly agape. Put faith in what I write. It is not false, nor for the sake of favor, but true and far-shining with light. He cannot be comforted and is giving up on this life. You have this fine comfort, you have a lord you loves you, or rather might I say a legitimate and beloved son, and you have him to comfort you, to cry for you, to care for you, to embrace you, and to honor you.
I wanted to inscribe this letter with my very blood or tears, but since this was not possible, I wrote as such, I wrote, wailing and lamenting, that I eagerly desired and wanted to preserve you and was not able to save you from this calamity.
- Scott Kennedy
- Right now, I'm a grad student at Ohio State University where I am studying Byzantine history and literature. This blog features translations and outtakes from my work that I have accumulated over the years. For those that are wondering, the title of my blog is Speculum Linguarum et Litterarum, which means in Latin 'A Mirror of Letters and Languages' because the act of studying letters and languages is very much an act of looking in the mirror and reflecting upon it .
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