The Secret History/Part 6
We shall now tell how he succeeded in destroying the marks of distinction and all the things which confer honour and beauty both in Byzantium and in every other city. First he decided to abolish the rank of rhetor; for he straightway deprived the rhetors of all their competitive prizes in which they had formerly been wont to revel and take great pride when they had discharged their function as advocates, and he ordered those at variance with one another to litigate directly under oath; and being thus scorned, the rhetors fell into great despondency. And after, as has been said, he had taken away all the properties of the Senators and of the others who were considered prosperous, both in Byzantium and throughout the whole Roman Empire, there was nothing left for this profession thereafter other than to remain idle. For men possessed nothing of any value whatsoever, concerning which they might dispute with one another. Immediately, thereafter, having become few in number instead of many and being everywhere held in no esteem at all though they had formerly been most highly esteemed, they were oppressed by extreme poverty, as was to be expected, and in the end gained nothing from their profession except insults alone.
Nay more, he also caused physicians and teachers of free-born children to be in want of the necessities of life. For the allowances of free maintenance which the former Emperors had decreed should be given to men of these professions from the public funds he cancelled entirely. Furthermore, all the revenues which the inhabitants of all the cities had been raising locally for their own civic needs and for their public spectacles he transferred and dared to mingle them with the national income. And thereafter neither physicians nor teachers were held in any esteem, nor was anyone able any longer to make provision for public buildings, nor were the public lamps kept burning in the cities, nor was there any other consolation for their inhabitants. For the theatres and hippodromes and circuses were all closed for the most part — the places in which, as it happened, his wife had been born and reared and educated. And later he ordered these spectacles to close down altogether, even in Byzantium, so that the Treasury might not have to supply the usual sums to the numerous and almost countless persons who derived their living from them. And there was both in private and in public sorrow and dejection, as though still another affliction from Heaven had smitten them, and there was no laughter in life for anyone. And no other topics whatever arose in the conversation of the people, whether they were at home or in the market-place or were tarrying in the sacred places, than disasters and calamities and misfortunes of novel kind in surpassing degree.
Such was the situation in the cities. And that which remains to be told is worth recounting. Two Consuls of the Romans were chosen each year, the one in Rome and the other in Byzantium. And whoever was called to this honour was sure to be required to spend more than twenty centenaria of gold on the State, a small portion of this being his own money but the most of it supplied by the Emperor. This money was distributed to those whom I have mentioned and to those, as a general thing, who were altogether destitute of means of subsistence, and particularly to performers on the stage, and thus provided constant support for all civic undertakings. But since the time when Justinian took over the Empire, these things were no longer done at the appropriate seasons; but although at first a Consul was appointed for Romans after a long interval, yet finally the people never saw that official even in a dream, and consequently mankind was being most cruelly pinched by a kind of poverty, since the Emperor no longer provided his subjects with what they had been wont to receive, but kept on depriving them in every way and everywhere of what they still possessed.
Now how this despoiler has been swallowing up all the public monies and how he has been fleecing the members of the Senate of their property, both individually and all of them in common, has, I think, been sufficiently described. And how he has circumvented by blackmailing methods the others likewise who are reputed to be prosperous, and has succeeded in robbing them of their money, this I consider to have been told by me quite adequately; aye, and the soldiers and those who serve all the magistrates and those who serve in the Palace as guards, and the farmers and the owners and masters of lands, and those whose profession is oratory,— nay more, the shipping-merchants and the owners of ships and the sailors, and the mechanics and day-labourers and the tradesmen of the market-place and those who derive their living from performances on the stage, and, furthermore, all the other classes, I may say, which are reached by the damage which issues from this man.
And we shall proceed forthwith to tell how he treated the beggars and the common folk and the poor and those afflicted with every form of physical handicap; for his treatment of the priests will be described in my subsequent books. First of all, having taken control, as has been said, of all the shops and having established what are called the monopolies of all the most indispensable goods, he proceeded to exact from the whole population more than threefold the usual prices. Now as to his other doings, inasmuch as they have seemed to me past counting, I, for my part, could not aspire to catalogue them even in an endless narrative; but I will say that from the purchasers of bread he stole most cruelly at all times, men who, being manual labourers and impoverished and afflicted with every physical handicap, could not possibly avoid buying bread. For in order to realize from this source as much as three centenaria each year, he required that the loaves should be both more expensive and full of ash; for this Emperor did not hesitate to resort to even so impious an act of shameful covetousness as this. And those who were charged with this office, using this pretext as an excuse for contriving some private gains, did indeed find it easy to attain great wealth of a sort, but in so doing they were constantly, strange as it seemed, creating for the poor a man-made famine in times of abundance; for it was absolutely forbidden that any man should import even cornº from elsewhere, but it was required of all that they should buy and eat these loaves.
And though they saw that the city's aqueduct had been broken and was delivering only a small fraction of the water into the city, they took no notice of the matter and would not consent to spend any money on it whatever, in spite of the fact that a great throng of the people, bursting with indignation, was always gathered at the fountains, and that all the baths had been closed. And yet he squandered a great mass of money for no good reason on buildings over the sea and other senseless structures, building new ones in all parts of the suburbs, as if the palaces in which all the earlier Emperors had been content to live throughout their lives could not contain his household. Thus it was not from motives of economy, but in order to effect the destruction of human beings, that they saw fit to neglect the building of the aqueduct, for no man in the whole world since the beginning of time has been more ready than this Justinian both to acquire money basely and then immediately more foolishly to squander it. Of the two resources, then, namely food and drink, which had been left to those in extreme destitution, both were used by this Emperor to their injury, as I have stated, since he made the one, namely water, impossible to get, and the other, bread, far more expensive to buy.
And he treated thus not only the beggar class of Byzantium, but also, in some instances, those who lived elsewhere, as will immediately be told by me. For when Theoderic captured Italy, he left where they were those who were serving as soldiers in the Palace at Rome, in order that at least a trace of the ancient polity might be preserved there, leaving each man a small daily wage; and these soldiers were very numerous. For the Silentiarii, as they are called, and the Domestici and the Scholarii were among them, though in their case nothing military remained except the name of the army, and this pay which barely sufficed to maintain them; and Theoderic commanded that this custom be transmitted to their offspring and descendants. And to the beggars who had their station beside the Church of Pete the Apostle, he ordered that the Treasury should for ever supply each year three thousand measures of corn. These pensions all these beggars continued to receive until Alexander, called "Snips," arrived in Italy. For this man decided immediately, without any hesitation, to abolish them all. Upon learning this, Justinian, Emperor of the Romans, put the stamp of his approval upon this course of action and held Alexander in still higher honour than formerly. During this journey Alexander did the following disservice to the Greeks also.
The outpost at Thermopylae had from early times been under the care of the farmers of that region, and they used to take turns in guarding the wall there, whenever it was expected that some barbarians or other would make a descent upon the Peloponnesus. But when Alexander visited the place on the occasion in question, he, pretending that he was acting in the interests of the Peloponnesians, refused to entrust the outpost there to the farmers. So he stationed troops there to the number of two thousand and ordained that their pay should not be provided from the imperial Treasury, but instead he transferred to the Treasury the entire civic funds and the funds for the spectacles of all the cities of Greece, on the pretext that these soldiers were to be maintained there from, and consequently in all Greece, and not least in Athens itself, no public building was restored nor could any other needful thing be done. Justinian, however, without any hesitation confirmed these measures of "Snips."
So then these matters were moving on in the manner described. But we must now proceed to the subject of the poor in Alexandria. There had been a certain Hephaestus among the rhetors there, who took over the government of Alexandria, and while he did put an end to the factional strife of the populace, shewing himself an object of terror to the factious, he had brought upon all the inhabitants of the city the utter extreme of extreme misfortune. For straightway bringing all the shops of the city into what is called the monopoly, he would permit none of the merchants to engage in this business, but having, alone of them all, become himself a retailer, he would sell every kind of merchandise, obviously gauging their price by the arbitrary power of his office, and the city of Alexandria was like to burst with anger because of the scarcity of the necessities of life — a city where, in former times, all things had been exceedingly cheap even for those in extreme poverty; and he pinched them particularly in the matter of the bread. For he did all the buying of grain from the Egyptians himself, permitting no one else to purchase so much as a single peck, and thus he determined the size of the loaves and the price of bread just as he wished. Thus in a short time he acquired for himself fabulous wealth and fulfilled the Emperor's desire in this matter. And while the populace of Alexandria, through fear of Hephaestus, endured their plight in silence, the Emperor, out of respect for the money that kept coming in to him constantly, loved the man exceedingly.
And this Hephaestus, in order that he might be able still more to captivate the Emperor's mind, contrived this further scheme. Diocletian, a former Emperor of the Romans, had decreed that a huge amount of grain be given by the Treasury every year to the needy among the Alexandrians. And the populace, having distributed this grain among themselves in the first instance, have transmitted this custom to their descendants even down to the present day. But Hephaestus, from the time in question, wrested from those destitute of the necessities of life as much as two million measures annually and placed it in the warehouses of the State, writing to the Emperor that these people had until now been receiving the grain wrongfully, and not to the advantage of the public interest. And consequently the Emperor confirmed the action and held him in still greater favour, and those of the Alexandrians who had this one hope of a livelihood suffered most cruelly as a result of this inhumanity.
Now the deeds done by Justinian were so many in number that all eternity would not be able to suffice for the account of them. But it will suffice for me to collect and mention some few examples from the whole number by which his whole character will be clearly revealed to men of future generations also: that he was a dissembler and cared not either for God or for priests or for laws, nor for the populace, though in seeming it was favoured by him, nor, further, for any decency whatsoever nor for the advantage of the State or for any benefit that might accrue to it, or that his actions might be able to find some excuse, nor did any consideration weigh with him other than simply and solely the snatching of all the money there was in the world. And I shall begin with this last.
The Emperor designated a chief priest over the Alexandrians, Paulus by name. And it chanced that a certain Rhodon, a Phoenician by birth, at that time held sway in Alexandria. This man he instructed to support Paulus with all zeal in everything, so that not one of his orders might remain unfulfilled. For in this way he thought he should be able to win the adherence of the heretics among the Alexandrians to the Council of Chalcedon. There was a certain Arsenius, a native of Palestine, who had been serviceable to the Empress Theodora in a very important matter, and from this circumstance he had acquired great power and a vast amount of money and had achieved the dignity of the Senate, although he was an utter scoundrel. This man was, in fact, a Samaritan, but in order not to lose the power he held, he had seen fit to adopt the name of a Christian. His father and brother, however, relying upon this man's power, had continued on in Scythopolis, preserving their ancestral faith, and, under instructions from him, they were working outrageous wrongs upon all the Christians. Consequently the citizens rose against them and killed them both with a most cruel death, and many evils came to pass for the people of Palestine from that cause. And at that time neither Justinian nor the Empress did Arsenius any harm, though he had been the chief cause of all the difficulties, but they did forbid him to come to the Palace any longer; for they were being harassed most persistently by the Christians on account of this matter. This Arsenius, thinking to gratify the Emperor, not long afterwards set out in company with Paulus for Alexandria, in order to assist him in other matters and in particular to help him with all his might to bring about obedience on the part of the Alexandrians. For he declared that at the time when he had the ill-fortune to be excluded from the Palace, he had not neglected the study of all the doctrines of the Christians. But this annoyed Theodora; for she pretended to go against the Emperor in this, as I have stated previously. So when Paulus and Arsenius had arrived at Alexandria, Paulus delivered to Rhodon a certain deacon named Psoes to be put to death, claiming that he alone was the obstacle which prevented him from executing the Emperor's decisions. And Rhodon, acting under the guidance of the Emperor's messages, which were both frequent and exceedingly urgent, decided to torture the man. And he died at once when racked by the torture. Now when word of this came to the Emperor, he immediately, at the very vehement insistence of the Empress, set everything in motion against Paulus and Rhodon and Arsenius, as if he had forgotten utterly the instructions which he had given to these very men. So he appointed Liberius, one of the Patricians of Rome, as Governor of Alexandria and he sent some of the notable priests to that city to make a review of the situation, among them being the Archdeacon of Rome, Pelagius, assuming the role of the Chief Priest Vigilius, as he had been ordered to do by Vigilius. And when the murder had been proved, they immediately removed Paulus from his priesthood; and when Rhodon fled to Byzantium, the Emperor cut off his head and confiscated all his property to the Treasury, although the man displayed thirteen letters which the Emperor had written to him urging and earnestly insisting and commanding that he support Paulus in all things and not oppose him in anything whatsoever, to the end that he might be able to execute the Emperor's decisions touching the faith. And Liberius, by the will of Theodora, impaled Arsenius, and the Emperor saw fit to confiscate his property, although he had no charge to bring against him other than that he consorted with Paulus.
Now as to whether these things were rightly done by him or otherwise I cannot say, but the reason why I have recounted these things I shall declare immediately. Paulus some time later came to Byzantium and offered the Emperor seven centenaria of gold, demanding that he receive back the priesthood, on the ground that it had been illegally wrested from him. And Justinian accepted the money courteously and kept the man in honour, and he agreed to make him Chief Priest of Alexandria immediately, though another held that honour, just as if he did not know that he himself had both slain and robbed of their property men who had lived with him and had dared to serve him. So the Augustus was taking up the matter with great vehemence and enthusiasm, and Paulus was definitely expected to resume the priesthood in any case. But Vigilius, who was now present, absolutely refused to yield to the Emperor if he should issue such a command. For he said that he could not possibly cancel his own vote — meaning the opinion rendered by Pelagius. Thus this Emperor had no concern for anything except to be for ever depriving others of money. And another incident shall be told, as follows.
There was a certain Faustinus, born in Palestine, a Samaritan by descent, but under the constraint of the law he had espoused the name of Christian. This Faustinus had risen to the senatorial rank and was ruler of the land; but a little later he was removed from this office and came to Byzantium, where some of the priests began to slander him, alleging that he was observing the rites of the Samaritans and basely mistreating the Christians living in Palestine. And Justinian appeared to be furious and deeply resentful on this account, that while he was ruling over the Romans the name of Christ should be insulted by anyone. So when the Senate made an investigation of the matter, they penalized Faustinus with banishment because of the Emperor's importunity. But the Emperor received from him all the money he wanted and immediately recalled the decision which had been made. So Faustinus, once more in possession of his former dignity, consorted with the Emperor, and when he was appointed Overseer of the Imperial Domains in Palestine and Phoenicia, he felt more free to put through all the measures that were in accord with his own wishes. As to the methods, then, by which Justinian saw fit to defend the claims of the Christians, although it is not much that we have related, yet it is possible to form a conclusion from it, brief though it be. And how without any hesitation he shattered the laws when money was in sight shall be disclosed very briefly.
There was a certain Priscus in the city of Emesa who had a great natural ability in imitating the handwriting of others, and he was a very clever artist at this evil business. Now it happened that the Church of Emesa had a good many years before become the heir of one of the notables. The man in question was of patrician rank, one Mammianus by name, a man of distinguished family and great wealth, and during the reign of Justinian Priscus investigated all the families of the above-named city, and if he found any persons who both abounded in wealth and were capable of sustaining great losses of money, he would carefully trace out their ancestors, and when he chanced upon old letters of theirs, he made many documents purporting to have been written by them, in which they promised to pay to Mammianus large sums of money on the ground that they had received this as a deposit from him. And the total amount acknowledged in these forged documents amounted to no less than a hundred centenaria. And selecting the writing of a certain man who had been wont to have a seat in the market-place at the period when Mammianus was alive, a man who had a great reputation for truth and for virtue in general, and who used to execute all the documents of the citizens, sealing each personally with his own writing (such a person the Romans call tabellio), Priscus, after making a marvellous imitation of this man's writing, delivered the documents to those who administered the affairs of the Church of Emesa, they having promised that a share of the money to be derived from that source should fall to him. But since the law stood in the way, which provided that all ordinary cases should be subject to a thirty-year limitation, yet some few cases, including cases involving mortgages, should be extended to include a period of forty years, they hit upon the following expedient. Coming to Byzantium and paying out great sums of money to this Emperor, they besought him to co-operate with them in accomplishing the destruction of the citizens who had been found guilty of nothing. And he, after he had got the money, without the least hesitation published a law that Churches should be debarred from prosecuting their claims, not after the regular period of time, but after the lapse of full one hundred years, and providing that this should be valid, not in Emesa alone, but throughout the whole Roman Empire. And to arbitrate this question for the people of Emesa he designated a certain Longinus, an energetic man and very powerful in body, who later also held the office of Mayor of Byzantium. And those who managed the affairs of the Church lodged, to begin with, a case for two centenaria, based on the documents mentioned, against one of the citizens, and they immediately secured the man's conviction, since he was utterly unable, both because of such a lapse of time and because of his ignorance of what had been done at the time in question, to make any defence whatever. And all men were filled with great sorrow, and above all the most notable among the men of Emesa, as being all equally exposed to the denouncers. And since the evil was by now spreading out over the majority of the citizens, it so happened that a providence of God, one may say, occurred as follows. Longinus commanded Priscus, the author of this mischief, to bring together before him all the documents, and when he declined to do so, he struck him with great violence. And he, unable to support the blow of a very strong man, fell on his back, and by this time trembling and in a state of panic he suspected that Longinus knew entirely what he had done and so confessed the truth; thus the entire deviltry was brought to light and the denouncing ceased.
Yet these constant and daily tamperings with the laws of the Romans were not the only harm he did, but the Emperor also took pains to abolish the laws which the Hebrews honour. If it ever happened, for instance, that the year in its recurring rounds brought on the Feast of the Passover before the festival of the Christians, he would not allow the Jews to celebrate this at the proper time nor to make any offering to God at that feast nor to perform any of the rites customary among them. And many of them used to be brought to trial as having tasted the flesh of lambs at this time by those who were in positions of authority, and these punished them by heavy fines, arraigning them for violation of the laws of the State. And though I know well of countless other such actions on the part of Justinian, I shall not add anything, for an end must be set to my discourse. For the man's character will be disclosed with sufficient clearness by what has been said.
That he was insincere and a dissembler I shall straightway make clear. The Liberius whom I have just mentioned he dismissed from the office he held and appointed in his place John surnamed Laxarion, an Egyptian by birth. And when Pelagius, who was a very close friend of Liberius, learned of this, he enquired of the Emperor whether the report about Laxarion was true. And he straightway denied the report, insisting that he had not done any such thing, and he put in his hands a letter to Liberius, instructing him to hold on to this office most firmly and by no means to relinquish it. For it was not his will, he said, to remove him from the office at the present time. And John had an uncle in Byzantium named Eudaemon, who, having risen to senatorial rank and having acquired great wealth, was for a time administrator of the Emperor's personal estate. This Eudaemon, upon hearing the statements we have mentioned, also enquired of the Emperor whether his nephew's office was secure. Whereupon the Emperor denied what he had written to Liberius and wrote a letter to John instructing him to lay claim to the office with all his might; for, he said, he on his part had not planned any change regarding it. And John, having been convinced by these statements, commanded Liberius to retire from his official quarters as having been dismissed from his office. But Liberius refused absolutely to obey him, he also obviously having been led to do so by the Emperor's letters. So John armed his followers and proceeded to attack Liberius, while the latter, together with his supporters, prepared for resistance. And a fight took place in which many were killed, including John himself, the holder of the office. Liberius was therefore immediately summoned to Byzantium, Eudaemon urging this step vigorously, and the Senate, making a determination of the facts in the case, acquitted the man on the ground that the outrage had occurred while he was not an aggressor, but was acting in self-defence. But the Emperor did not drop the matter until he had punished him by a fine of money, imposed secretly.
It was in this wise, in sooth, that Justinian knew how to tell the truth and practised straightforwardness of speech! But it is not, I think, inopportune to add a matter that is incidental to this narrative. For this Eudaemon died not long afterwards, having neither disposed of his estate by will nor made any statement whatever, although he had many relatives surviving. And at about the same time a certain man, Euphratas by name, who had been overseer of the Palace eunuchs, departed this life, leaving a nephew but without having made any disposition of his estate, which was very great. And the Emperor seized both these estates, of his own arbitrary act making himself the heir and giving not a farthing to any of the lawful heirs. Such respect for the law and for the kinsmen of his intimates was shewn by this Emperor! In the same way he had seized the property of Eirenaeus who had died a long time before, although he had not a shadow of a claim to it.
And the incident directly connected with those just mentioned, which occurred at about the same time, I could not pass by in silence. There was a certain Anatolius who held chief place in the senatorial roster of Ascalon. This man's daughter had been duly married by one of the Caesareans, Mamilianus by name, a man of a very notable house. And the girl was an heiress, since she was the only child of Anatolius. Now it had been prescribed by ancient law that whenever a Senator of any one of the cities should depart this life without leaving male children, the fourth part of the property left by this man should be given to the Council of the city, while the natural heirs of the deceased should enjoy the rest; but the Emperor here too gave evidence of his own true character, for he happened to have promulgated a law recently, which arranged matters in just the opposite way, providing, namely, that when a Senator died without male issue, his natural heirs should receive the fourth part of his estate but that all the rest should be taken over by the Treasury and entered in the roster of the city's Senate. And yet never since the creation of man has either Treasurer or Emperor been empowered to share in senatorial property. So while this law was in force, the final day of life came upon Anatolius, and his daughter divided the estate with the Treasury and the Council of the city in accordance with the law, and both the Emperor himself and the magistrates in charge of the roster of Ascalon wrote letters to her releasing her from the counter-claim in this matter, since they had received their due correctly and justly. Later on Mamilianus also departed this life, the man who had been son-in‑law to Anatolius, and he left a single daughter, who alone acquired her father's estate, as was to be expected. But later on she too, while her mother still survived, reached the term of her life, having been married to one of the notables but having become mother of neither female nor male child. But Justinian seized upon all the property forthwith, letting fall the amazing statement that for the daughter of Anatolius, now an old woman, to be enriched by her husband's and her father's money was an impious thing! But in order that the woman might not henceforth be assigned to the ranks of the beggars, he ordered that this woman should receive a gold stater each day, as long as she lived, inserting in the document by means of which he had plundered all this money the statement that he relinquished the stater for the sake of piety: "For it is my custom," he said, "to do whatever is pious and righteous."
But concerning these matters it suffices to give these facts, that my account may not lead to surfeit, since it is not possible for any human being to mention them all. But that he has taken no account even of any adherent of the Blues, who were supposed to be his favourites, when money was at stake, I shall now make clear. There was a certain Malthanes in Cilicia, son-in‑law of that Leon who held, as mentioned above, the office of Referendarius as it is called. This man he directed to put a stop to the acts of violence in Cilicia. And laying hold of this pretext, Malthanes committed outrageous wrongs upon the majority of the Cilicians, and as he plundered their money, he sent some to the tyrant, while he saw fit to enrich himself with the remainder. Now all the rest endured their misfortunes in silence, but such of the men of Tarsus as were Blues, being bold in the licence which the Emperor's favour gave them, heaped many insults upon Malthanes in the public market-place when he was not present among them. And when Malthanes learned this, he straightway came to Tarsus by night, bringing a large force of soldiers, and sending them around to the houses at early dawn, he ordered them to take lodgings therein. And the Blues, thinking this to be a raid, defended themselves as well as they could. And many other mishaps took place in the darkness, but the worst was that Damianus, a member of the Senate, fell by a shot from a bow. Now this Damianus was the patron of the Blues there. And when news of this came to Byzantium, the Blues were angry and raised a great tumult throughout the city, and they plagued the Emperor about the matter exceedingly, and they vilified Leon and Malthanes roundly together with most terrible threats. And the Emperor pretended to be no less angry than they at what had happened. So he straightway wrote a letter ordering an investigation and punishment of the public acts of Malthanes. But Leon, by handing over to him a vast quantity of gold, caused him to give up at once both his anger and his fondness for the Blues, and though the matter had remained uninvestigated, when Malthanes came into the Emperor's presence in Byzantium, the latter received him with great friendliness and held him in honour. But when he went out from the Emperor's presence, the Blues, who had been watching for him, rained blows upon him in the Palace, and they would have destroyed him had not some of them prevented it, these being the men who chanced to have already received money in secret from Leon. And yet who would not call that State most pitiable in which an Emperor, having accepted a bribe, left the briber's crimes uninvestigated, and factionists, on the other hand, while the Emperor was there in the Palace, dared without any compunction to set upon one of the magistrates and to commit an unjust attack upon him? As for punishment, however, none was inflicted on account of these misdeeds, either upon Malthanes or upon his assailants. From these things, if anyone should wish, let him estimate the character of the Emperor Justinian.
And as to the question whether Justinian had any consideration for the welfare of the State, the things he did to the public post and to the spies will be illuminating. For the Roman Emperors of earlier times, by way of making provision that everything should be reported to them speedily and be subject to no delay,— such as the damage inflicted by the enemy upon each several country, whatever befell the cities in the course of civil conflict or of some unforeseen calamity, the acts of the magistrates and of all others in every part of the Roman Empire — and also, to the end that those who conveyed the annual taxes might reach the capital safely and without either delay or risk, had created a swift public post extending everywhere, in the following manner. Within the distance included in each day's journey for an unencumbered traveller they established stations, sometimes eight, sometimes less, but as a general thing not less than five. And horses to the number of forty stood ready at each station. And grooms in proportion to the number of horses were detailed to all stations. And always travelling with frequent changes of the horses, which were of the most approved breeds, those to whom this duty was assigned covered, on occasion, a ten-days' journey in a single day, and accomplished all those things which have just been mentioned; and furthermore, the owners of the land everywhere, and particularly if their lands happened to lie in the interior, were exceedingly prosperous because of this system. For every year they sold the surplus of their crops to the Government for the maintenance of horses and grooms, and thus earned much money. And the result of all this was that while the treasury regularly received the taxes assessed upon each man, yet those who paid the taxes received their money but also again immediately, and there was the further advantage that the State business has been accomplished.
Now in earlier times this was the situation. But this Emperor first of all abolished the post from Chalcedon as far as Daciviza and compelled all the couriers, much against their will, to proceed from Byzantium directly to Helenopolis by sea. When they make the passage, then, in small boats of the kind the folk are accustomed to use in crossing the strait, in case a storm happens to descend upon them, they come into great danger. For since the haste which is obligatory keeps urging them on, it is impossible for them to watch for the right weather and wait for the next calm. And, in the second place, while on the route leading into Persia he did allow the previous arrangement to stand, yet for all the rest of the East as far as Egypt he allowed one station only for each day's journey, using not horses, however, but mules and only a few of them. It is no wonder, consequently, that the things which take place in each country, being reported both with difficulty and too late to give opportunity for action and behind the course of events, cannot be dealt with at all, and the owners of the lands, with crops rotting on their hands and going to waste, continually lose all their profits.
And the matter of the spies is as follows. Many men from ancient times were maintained by the State, men who would go into the enemy's country and get into the Palace of the Persians, either on the pretext of selling something of by some other device, and after making a thorough investigation of everything, they would return to the land of the Romans, where they were able to report all the secrets of the enemy to the magistrates. And they, furnished with this advance information, would be on their guard and nothing unforeseen would befall them. And this practice had existed among the Medes also from ancient times. Indeed Chosroes, as they say, increased the salaries of his spies and profited by this forethought. For nothing that was happening among the Romans escaped him. Justinian, on the other hand, by refusing to spend anything at all on them blotted out from the land of the Romans even the very name of spies, and in consequence of this action many mistakes were made and Lazica was captured by the enemy, the Romans having utterly failed to discover where in the world the Persian king and his army were. Nay more, the State had also been wont from ancient times to maintain a great number of camels, which followed the Roman army as it moved against an enemy and carried all the provisions. And in those days neither were the farmers obliged to provide transportation nor did the soldiers find themselves in want of any of the necessities; but Justinian abolished these too, practically all of them. So now-a-days, when a Roman army proceeds against the enemy, none of the needful measures can possibly be taken.
Now the most important affairs of the State were going on badly in this fashion. And there is no harm in mentioning also one of Justinian's absurdities. There was among the orators of Caesarea a certain Evangelus, a man of no little distinction, who, since the breeze of fortune had blown favourably for him, had become owner of other property and especially of much land. And later on he even purchased a village on the seashore, Porphyreon by name, paying three centenaria of gold. Learning of this, the Emperor Justinian immediately took the place away from him, giving him some small portion of its value, with the remark that it would never comport with the dignity of Evangelus, an orator, to be the owner of such a town. But I shall say nothing more about these matters, now that I have, after a fashion, made mention of them.
And among the innovations of Justinian and Theodora in the administration of the Government there is also the following. In ancient times the Senate, as it came into the Emperor's presence, was accustomed to do obeisance in the following manner. Any man of patrician rank saluted him on the right breast. And the Emperor would kiss him on the head and then dismiss him; but all the rest first bent the right knee to the Emperor and then withdrew. The Empress, however, it was not at all customary to salute. But in the case of Justinian and Theodora, all the other members of the Senate and those as well who held the rank of Patricians, whenever they entered into their presence, would prostrate themselves to the floor, flat on their faces, and holding their hands and feet stretched far out they would touch with their lips one foot of each before rising. For even Theodora was not disposed to forego this testimony to her dignity, she who acted as though the Roman Empire lay at her feet, but was by no means averse to receiving even the ambassadors of the Persians and of the other barbarians and to bestowing upon them presents of money, a thing which had never happened since the beginning of time. And while in earlier times those who attended upon the Emperor used simply to call him "Emperor" and his consort "Empress," and used to address each one of the other magistrates in accordance with his standing at the moment, yet if anyone should enter into conversation with either one of these two and should use the words "Emperor" are "Empress" and fail to call them "Master" or "Mistress," or should undertake to use any other word but "slaves" in referring to any of the magistrates, such a person would be accounted both stupid and too free of tongue, and, as though he had erred most grievously and had treated with gross indignity those whom he should by no means have so treated, would leave the imperial presence.
And whereas in former times very few persons entered the Palace, and that too with difficulty, yet since the time when these succeeded to the throne, both magistrates and all others together remained constantly in the Palace. And the reason was that in the old days the magistrates were permitted to do what was just and lawful according to their own judgment. Hence the magistrates, being occupied with their own administrative business, used to remain in their own lodgings, and the subjects of the Emperor, since they neither saw nor heard of any act of violence, bothered him, as was to be expected, very little. But these rulers, always drawing all matters into their own hands to the ruin of their subjects, compelled everybody to dance attendance upon them in most servile fashion; and it was possible to see, practically every day, all the law-courts, on the one hand, for the most part empty, but at the Emperor's Court, on the contrary, one would find crowds and insolence and mighty pushing and all the time nothing but servility. And those who were supposed to be intimate with the royal pair, standing there continuously the entire day and regularly during the greater portion of the night, being without sleep and without food at the usual hours, were done to death, and this was all that their seeming good fortune amounted to. And when at length they were set free from all this, the poor fellows would quarrel with each other over the question of what had become of the money of the Romans. For whereas some maintained that it was all in the possession of the barbarians, others said that the Emperor kept it shut up in a large number of special rooms. So when Justinian either, if he is a man, departs this life, or, as being the Lord of the evil spirits, lays his life aside, all who have the fortune to have survived to that time will know the truth.