Emperor Michael III

In tantam vero furoris abundantiam prorupistis, ut linguae Latinae iniuriam irrogaretis, hanc in epistola vestra barbaram et Scythicam appellantes ad iniuriam eius, qui fecit eam; omnis enim operis derogatio ad opificis redundat iniuriam. o furorem, qui nec linguae novit parcere, quam Deus fecit, et quae inter ceteras in nomine Domini hortante apostolo confitetur, quia ‘dominus noster Iesus Christus in gloria est Dei patris’ et quae cum Hebrea atque Graeca in titulo Domini a reliquis discreta insignem principatum tenens omnibus nationibus praedicat Iesum Nazarenum regem Iudaeorum. quem titulum multi Iudaeorum corrumpere voluerunt, sicut vos nunc huius celeberrimae linguae temptatis insigne destruere, sed minime potuerunt; scriptum quippe divinitus in libro psalmorum fuerat: ne corrumpas tituli inscriptionem! vel quia Christiani sunt, quorum linguam barbaram vel Scythicam appellatis, gloriam vestram quare non pudeat, obstupescimus. cum enim barbari omnes et Scythae ut insensata animalia vivant, Deum verum nesciant, ligna autem et lapides adorent, in eo ipso, quo verum Deum colit lingua Latina, quantum barbaram vel Scythicam linguam antecedat, agnoscitur. iam vero, si ideo linguam Latinam barbaram dicitis, quoniam illam non intelligitis, vos considerate, quia ridiculum est vol appellare Romanorum imperatores et tamen linguam non nosse Romanam. ad extremum autem, si iam saepe nominatam linguam ideo barbaram nuncupatis, quoniam a translatoribus in Graecam dictionem mutata barbarismos generat, non linguae Latinae, sed culpa est, ut opinamur, interpretum, qui quando necesse est non sensum e sensu, sed violenter verbum edere conantur e verbo. ecce enim in principio epistolae vestrae imperatorem vos nuncupastis Romanorum et tamen Romanam linguam barbaram appellare non veremini. ecce cotidie, immo vero in praecipuis festivitatibus inter Graecam linguam veluti quiddam pretiosum hanc, quam barbaram et Scythicam linguam appellatis, miscentes, quasi minus decori vestro facitis, si hac etiam non bene ac ex toto intellecta in vestris obsequiis ac officiis non utamini. quiescite igitur vos nuncupare Romanorum imperatores, quoniam secundum vestram sententiam barbari sunt, quorum vos imperatores esse asseritis.
(Nicholas I, Ep. 88 MGH = 86 PG, ad Michaelem III imperatorem)

You were driven into such an overwhelming frenzy, that you insulted the Latin language calling it in your letter barbaric and Skythian, which is an insult to him who created this language, because every denigration of a work entails also an insult to its author. Oh, what fury, which has not even spared the language which was created by God; †a language which, along with other ones, professes in the name of the lord, as the apostle admonished, ‘that Jesus Christ is lord, to the glory of God the father’ [Phil. 2:11]! This is the language that, together with Hebrew and Greek, was placed in an exalted position on the sign on the cross of our lord (these three languages, and none other!), proclaiming to all peoples: ‘Jesus the Nazarene, king of the Jews’ [John 19:20]! Many Jews wanted to destroy this sign, just like you are now trying to destroy the renown of this our distinguished language; but they did not succeed, because it was already written by God in the book of Psalms. So do not destroy the language of the sign!† We are dismayed that your majesty is not ashamed: for it is the language of Christian peoples which you call barbaric and Skythian. Is it not well known that all barbarians and Skythians live like ignorant animals, that they do not know the true God, but worship trees and stones? Fromthis, of course, one can see how much the latin language, which worships the true God, surpasses the barbarian and Skythian language. Furthermore, if you call the Latin language barbaric, because you do not understand Latin, you should be careful: is it not ridiculous to call yourself emperor of the Romans when you do not know the language of the Romans? And finally, you call the language under discussion barbaric for the simple reason that by translating Latin into Greek certain barbarisms were generated. This, though, we believe, is not the fault of the Latin language but the fault of interpreters, who tried to force words out of words rather than, as is necessary, to produce meaning out of meaning. In fact, in the beginning of your letter you call yourself ’emperor of the Romans’, but you are not afraid to call the Roman language barbaric! In truth, every day, especially on the occasion of major ceremonies, you set into the Greek language as if it were a precious jewel exactly what you call a barbarian and Skythian language! And you do so as if you would diminish your majesty if you were to refrain from using Latin words in your retinue and offices—even though these words are not used properly or perfectly understood. So, abandon the title ’emperor of the Romans’, because according to your own opinion they are barbarians whose emperor you claim to be! (tr. Marie Theres Fögen; except the passage between †† added by David Bauwens)


Simeon Solomon, Night, 1890
Simeon Solomon, Night (1890)

ᾟ μοι δοκοῦσιν εὐφρόνην κεκληκέναι τὴν νύκτα, ἐπειδὴ τηνικάδε ἡ ψυχὴ πεπαυμένη τῶν αἰσθήσεων συννεύει πρὸς αὑτὴν καὶ μᾶλλον μετέχει τῆς φρονήσεως. διὰ ταῦτ’ οὖν καὶ αἱ τελεταὶ γίνονται νυκτὸς μάλιστα, σημαίνουσαι τὴν ἐν νυκτὶ τῆς ψυχῆς συστολὴν  ἀπὸ τοῦ σώματος. ἄρ’ οὖν μὴ καθεύδωμεν ὡς οἱ λοιποί, ἀλλὰ γρηγορῶμεν καὶ νήφωμεν. οἱ γὰρ καθεύδοντες νυκτὸς καθεύδουσι καὶ οἱ μεθυσκόμενοι νυκτὸς μεθύουσιν· ἡμεῖς δὲ ἡμέρας ὄντες νήφωμεν, ἐνδυσάμενοι θώρακα πίστεως καὶ ἀγάπης καὶ περικεφαλαίαν ἐλπίδα σωτηρίου. ὅσα δ’ αὖ περὶ ὕπνου λέγουσι, τὰ αὐτὰ χρὴ καὶ περὶ θανάτου ἐξακούειν. ἑκάτερος γὰρ δηλοῖ τὴν ἀπόστασιν τῆς ψυχῆς, ὃ μὲν μᾶλλον, ὃ δὲ ἧττον, ὅπερ ἐστὶ καὶ παρὰ Ἡρακλείτου λαβεῖν· “ἄνθρωπος ἐν εὐφρόνῃ φάος· ἅπτεται ἑαυτῷ ἀποθανών,  ἀποσβεσθεὶς ὄψεις, ζῶν δέ ἅπτεται τεθνεῶτος εὕδων, ἀποσβεσθεὶς ὄψεις· ἐγρηγορὼς ἅπτεται εὕδοντος.” μακάριοι γὰρ οἱ εἰδότες τὸν καιρὸν κατὰ τὸν ἀπόστολον, ὅτι ὥρα ὑμᾶς ἤδη ἐξ ὕπνου ἐγερθῆναι· νῦν γὰρ ἐγγύτερον ἡμῶν ἡ σωτηρία ἢ ὅτε ἐπιστεύσαμεν. ἡ νὺξ προέκοψεν, ἡ δὲ ἡμέρα ἤγγικεν. ἀποθώμεθα οὖν τὰ ἔργα τοῦ σκότους, ἐνδυσώμεθα δὲ τὰ ὅπλα τοῦ φωτός.
(Clement of Alexandria, Strom. 4.140.2-141.5)

And for this reason, as they appear to me, to have called night Euphrone; since then the soul, released from the perceptions of sense, turns in on itself, and has a truer hold of intelligence. Wherefore the mysteries are for the most part celebrated by night, indicating the withdrawal of the soul from the body, which takes place by night. “Let us not then sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that are drunken, are drunken in the night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as an helmet the hope of salvation.” (Paul, 1 Thess. 5.1-6) And as to what, again, they say of sleep, the very same things are to be understood of death. For each exhibits the departure of the soul, the one more, the other less; as we may also get this in Heraclitus (fr. 122): “Man touches night in himself, when dead and his light quenched; and alive, when he sleeps he touches the dead; and awake, when he shuts his eyes, he touches the sleeper.” “For blessed are those that have seen the Lord,” according to the apostle; “for it is high time to awake out of sleep. For now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light.” (Paul, Rom. 13.11-12) (tr. Philip Schaff)



Πᾶσα ψυχὴ ἐξουσίαις ὑπερεχούσαις ὑποτασσέσθω, οὐ γὰρ ἔστιν ἐξουσία εἰ μὴ ὑπὸ θεοῦ, αἱ δὲ οὖσαι ὑπὸ θεοῦ τεταγμέναι εἰσίν. ὥστε ὁ ἀντιτασσόμενος τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ τῇ τοῦ θεοῦ διαταγῇ ἀνθέστηκεν, οἱ δὲ ἀνθεστηκότες ἑαυτοῖς κρίμα λήμψονται. οἱ γὰρ ἄρχοντες οὐκ εἰσὶν φόβος τῷ ἀγαθῷ ἔργῳ ἀλλὰ τῷ κακῷ. θέλεις δὲ μὴ φοβεῖσθαι τὴν ἐξουσίαν; τὸ ἀγαθὸν ποίει, καὶ ἕξεις ἔπαινον ἐξ αὐτῆς· θεοῦ γὰρ διάκονός ἐστιν σοὶ εἰς τὸ ἀγαθόν. ἐὰν δὲ τὸ κακὸν ποιῇς, φοβοῦ· οὐ γὰρ εἰκῇ τὴν μάχαιραν φορεῖ· θεοῦ γὰρ διάκονός ἐστιν, ἔκδικος εἰς ὀργὴν τῷ τὸ κακὸν πράσσοντι. διὸ ἀνάγκη ὑποτάσσεσθαι, οὐ μόνον διὰ τὴν ὀργὴν ἀλλὰ καὶ διὰ τὴν συνείδησιν, διὰ τοῦτο γὰρ καὶ φόρους τελεῖτε, λειτουργοὶ γὰρ θεοῦ εἰσιν εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο προσκαρτεροῦντες. ἀπόδοτε πᾶσι τὰς ὀφειλάς, τῷ τὸν φόρον τὸν φόρον, τῷ τὸ τέλος τὸ τέλος, τῷ τὸν φόβον τὸν φόβον, τῷ τὴν τιμὴν τὴν τιμήν.
(Paul, Rom. 13.1-7)

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. (King James Version)



Θεὸν ὁμολογοῦσιν εἰδέναι, τοῖς δὲ ἔργοις ἀρνοῦνται, βδελυκτοὶ ὄντες καὶ ἀπειθεῖς καὶ πρὸς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθὸν ἀδόκιμοι.
(Paul, Titus 1:16)

They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. (King James translation)