Ὁ δὲ βασιλεὺς Ἀναστάσιος πρῴην μὲν ἦν μεταστειλάμενος διὰ Μαρίνου τὸν φιλόσοφον Πρόκλον τὸν Ἀθηναῖον, ἄνδρα περιβόητον, καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἀναστάσιος, “τί ἔχω ποιῆσαι τῷ κυνὶ τούτῳ, ὅτι οὕτως ταράσσει με καὶ τὴν πολιτείαν, φιλόσοφε;” ὁ δὲ Πρόκλος εἶπεν αὐτῷ, “μὴ ἀθυμήσεις, βασιλεῦ· φεύγει γὰρ καὶ ἀπέρχεται, ἢ μόνον πέμψεις κατ’ αὐτοῦ τινας.” καὶ εὐθέως ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἀναστάσιος εἶπε Μαρίνῳ τῷ Σύρῳ τῷ ἀπὸ ἐπάρχων, ἑστῶτι πλησίον ὅτε διελέγετο ὁ βασιλεὺς τῷ φιλοσόφῳ Πρόκλῳ, ὁπλίσασθαι κατὰ τοῦ αὐτοῦ Βιταλιανοῦ, ὄντι εἰς τὸ πέραν Κωνσταντινουπόλεως. καὶ λέγει Πρόκλος ὁ φιλόσοφος ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ βασιλέως Μαρίνῳ τῷ Σύρῳ, “ὃ δίδωμί σοι λάβε, καὶ ἔξελθε κατὰ τοῦ αὐτοῦ Βιταλιανοῦ.” καὶ ἐκέλευσεν ὁ αὐτὸς φιλόσοφος ἐνεχθῆναι τὸ λεγόμενον θεῖον ἄπυρον πολύ, εἰπὼν τριβῆναι αὐτὸ ὡς εἰς μῖγμα λεπτόν, καὶ δέδωκε τῷ αὐτῷ Μαρίνῳ, εἰρηκὼς αὐτῷ ὅτι “ὅπου ῥίψεις ἐξ αὐτοῦ εἴτε εἰς οἶκον εἴτε ἐν πλοίῳ μετὰ τὸ ἀνατεῖλαι τὸν ἥλιον, εὐθέως ἅπτεται ὁ οἶκος ἢ τὸ πλοῖον καὶ ὑπὸ πυρὸς ἀναλίσκεται.” ὁ δὲ Μαρῖνος παρεκάλεσε τὸν βασιλέα ἵνα ἕνα τῶν στρατηλατῶν αὐτοῦ πέμψῃ λαμβάνοντα τὸ βοήθημα· καὶ εὐθέως μετεστείλατο ὁ βασιλεὺς Πατρίκιον τὸν Φρύγα, τὸν στρατηλάτην, καὶ Ἰωάννην τὸν Βαλεριανῆς, καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁπλίσασθαι κατὰ τοῦ αὐτοῦ Βιταλιανοῦ εἰς τὸ πέραν, λαμβάνοντας πλοῖα δρομώνων καὶ στρατιώτας. καὶ ἔπεσαν ἐπὶ τοὺς πόδας τοῦ βασιλέως, λέγοντες ὅτι “καὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ οἱ δύο ἡμεῖς φίλοι ἤμεθα· καὶ μὴ συμβῇ τινα ἀποτυχίαν γενέσθαι, καὶ ὑπονοηθῶμεν ὡς προδόται. καὶ ἀγανακτήσας κατ’ αὐτῶν ὁ βασιλεὺς ἔβαλεν αὐτοὺς ἔξω τοῦ παλατίου, καὶ κελεύσας Μαρίνῳ τῷ Σύρῳ λαβεῖν τοὺς δρόμωνας καὶ τὸ θεῖον ἄπυρον καὶ τὴν στρατιωτικὴν βοήθειαν ὁπλισαμένην, καὶ ἐξελθεῖν κατὰ τοῦ αὐτοῦ Βιταλιανοῦ. ἀκούσας δὲ Βιταλιανὸς ὅτι μετὰ πολλῆς βοηθείας ἐξέρχεται ὁ Μαρῖνος κατ’ αὐτοῦ, ὅσα εὗρε πλοῖα ἐκράτησε καὶ ἐγόμωσεν αὐτὰ Οὑννικὴν καὶ Γοτθικὴν χεῖρα ὡπλισμένους. καὶ ὥρμησεν εἰσελθεῖν εἰς Κωνσταντινούπολιν, θαρρῶν ὅτι πάντως αὐτὴν λαμβάνει, καὶ Μαρῖνον δὲ ἀπαντῶντα ἀναλίσκει μεθ’ ἧς ἔχει βοηθείας. ὁ δὲ Μαρῖνος ἐρρόγευσε τὸ θεῖον ἄπυρον, ὃ ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ ὁ φιλόσοφος, εἰς ὅλα τὰ πλοῖα τῶν δρομώνων, εἰρηκὼς τοῖς ναύταις καὶ τοῖς στρατιώταις ὅτι οὐ χρεία ὅπλων, ἀλλ’ ἵνα “ῥίπτετε ἐκ τούτου εἰς τὰ ἐρχόμενα κατέναντι ὑμῶν πλοῖα καὶ καίονται. εἰ δὲ πέραν ἀπέλθωμεν εἰς τοὺς οἴκους, ἔνθα εἰσὶν οἱ ἐχθροὶ τοῦ βασιλέως, ἐκεῖ ῥίψατε.” ὁ δὲ Μαρῖνος, καθὼς εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁ φιλόσοφος ὅτι ἀνάπτονται ὑπὸ τοῦ πυρὸς τὰ πλοῖα καὶ ποντίζονται αὔτανδρα, παρήγγειλεν αὐτοῖς ῥίπτειν· καὶ ὥρμησεν εἰς τὸ πέραν κατὰ Βιταλιανοῦ καὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων αὐτοῦ. καὶ κατήντησαν καὶ τὰ πλοῖα Βιταλιανοῦ, καὶ εὑρέθησαν ἔγγιστα ἀλλήλων κατέναντι τῆς ἁγίας Θέκλης τῆς ἐν Σύκαις εἰς τὸν τόπον τοῦ ῥεύματος ὅπου λέγεται τὸ βυθάριν. καὶ γίνεται ἐκεῖ ἡ ναυμαχία ὥραν τρίτην τῆς ἡμέρας· καὶ ἀνήφθησαν ἐξαίφνης ὑπὸ πυρὸς τὰ πλοῖα ἅπαντα Βιταλιανοῦ τοῦ τυράννου καὶ ἐποντίσθησαν εἰς τὸν βυθὸν τοῦ ῥεύματος μεθ’ ὧν εἶχον Γότθων καὶ Οὕννων καὶ Σκυθῶν στρατιωτῶν συνεπομένων αὐτῷ. ὁ δὲ Βιταλιανὸς καὶ οἱ εἰς τὰ ἄλλα πλοῖα προσεσχηκότες τὸ γεγονός, ὅτι ὑπὸ πυρὸς αἰφνίδιον ἀνάπτονται τὰ ἑαυτῶν πλοῖα, ἔφυγον καὶ ὑπέστρεψαν ἐπὶ τὸν ἀνάπλουν. Μαρῖνος δὲ ὁ ἀπὸ ἐπάρχων περάσας ἐν Σύκαις, ὅσους εὗρε τῶν Βιταλιανοῦ εἰς τὰ προάστεια ἢ εἰς οἴκους, ἀνεῖλε, καταδιώκων αὐτοὺς ἕως τοῦ ἁγίου Μάμαντος· καὶ γενομένης ἑσπέρας ἔμεινε Μαρῖνος καὶ ἡ βοήθεια αὐτοῦ φυλάττουσα τὰ ἐκεῖ. ὁ δὲ Βιταλιανὸς ἔφυγε νυκτὸς μετὰ τῶν ὑπολειφθέντων αὐτῷ ἐκ τοῦ ἀνάπλου, ὁδεύσας ἐν τῇ αὐτῇ νυκτὶ μίλια ξʹ· καὶ πρωΐας γενομένης οὐδεὶς εὑρέθη εἰς τὸ πέραν ἐκ τοῦ αὐτοῦ Βιταλιανοῦ, καὶ ἐνίκησεν ὁ σωτὴρ Χριστὸς καὶ ἡ τοῦ βασιλέως τύχη.
(John Malalas, Chronographia 16.16 = 403-405 Dindorf)
The emperor Anastasios had formerly summoned, through Marinus, the philosopher Proklos of Athens, a famous man. The emperor Anastasios asked him, “Philosopher, what am I to do with this dog who is so disturbing me and the state?” Proklos replied to him, “Do not despair, emperor. For he will go away and leave as soon as you send some men against him”, The emperor Anastasios immediately spoke to the ex-prefect Marinus the Syrian, who was standing close by while the emperor was conversing with the philosopher Proklos, and told him to prepare for battle against Vitalian who was then opposite Constantinople, The philosopher Proklos said to Marinus the Syrian in the presence of the emperor, “Take what I give you and go out against Vitalian”. And the philosopher ordered that a large amount of what is known as elemental sulphur be brought in and that it be ground into fine powder. He gave it to Marinus with the words, “Wherever you throw some of this, be it at a building or a ship, after sunrise, the building or ship will immediately ignite and be destroyed by fire”. Marinus asked the emperor to send one of his magistri militum with the weapon. The emperor immediately summoned the Phrygian Patricius, the magister militum, and John, the son of Valeriana, and told them to prepare an attack against Vitalian across the water, and to take fast ships and soldiers. They fell at the emperor’s feet, saying, “We two have been his friends and his father’s friends. We are afraid that chance may bring an unfavourable result and we might be suspected of treachery”. The emperor was angry with them and dismissed them from the palace. He then ordered Marinus the Syrian to take the ships, the elemental sulphur and the force of soldiers that had been prepared and to go out against Vitalian. When Vitalian heard that Marinus was moving against him with a large force, he seized every ship he could find and loaded them with bands of Huns and Goths, fully armed. He then set out to attack Constantinople, confident that, he would certainly capture it and crush Marinus, who was coming to meet him, together with the force under his command. Marinus distributed the elemental sulphur, which the philosopher had given to him, among all the fast ships, telling the soldiers and sailors, “There is no need for weapons but throw some of this at the ships that are coming against you and they will burn. And if we get to the houses on the other side, where the enemies of the emperor are, throw it there”. Marinus told his men to throw it exactly as the philosopher had told him, when he had said that the ships would be set alight by the fire and sunk with the men on board. So he set out for the other side against Vitalian and his men, and Vitalian’s ships came to meet them. They drew very close to one another opposite St Thekla’s in Sykai at that part of the Bosphorus which is called Bytharion. The sea battle took place there at the third hour of the day. Suddenly all the ships of the rebel Vitalian caught fire and were set ablaze and plunged to the bottom of the Bosphorus, taking with them the Gothic, Hunnish and Scythian soldiers who had joined him. But when Vitalian and those on the other ships saw what happened, that their own ships had suddenly been set ablaze, they fled and returned to Anaplous. The ex-prefect Marinus crossed over to Sykai and killed all Vitalian’s men whom he found in the suburbs and houses, pursuing them as far as St Mamas. When evening fell, Marinus and his force stayed there, defending those areas. Vitalian fled from Anaplous during the night with his remaining men and travelled 60 miles that night. At daybreak none of Vitalian’s men could be found on the other side. Christ the Saviour and the emperor’s tyche had won the victory. (tr. Elizabeth Jeffreys, Michael Jeffreys & Roger Scott)