Appia

Via Appia 2

Ὁ δὲ διὰ τῆς Λατίνης ὁδοῦ ἀπῆγε τὸ στράτευμα, τὴν Ἀππίαν ὁδὸν ἀφεὶς ἐν ἀριστερᾷ, ἣν Ἄππιος ὁ Ῥωμαίων ὕπατος ἐννακοσίοις ἐνιαυτοῖς πρότερον ἐποίησέ τε καὶ ἐπώνυμον ἔσχεν. ἔστι δὲ ἡ Ἀππία ὁδὸς ἡμερῶν πέντε εὐζώνῳ ἀνδρί· ἐκ Ῥώμης γὰρ αὕτη ἐς Καπύην διήκει. εὖρος δέ ἐστι τῆς ὁδοῦ ταύτης ὅσον ἁμάξας δύο ἀντίας ἰέναι ἀλλήλαις, καὶ ἔστιν ἀξιοθέατος πάντων μάλιστα. τὸν γὰρ λίθον ἅπαντα, μυλίτην τε ὄντα καὶ φύσει σκληρόν, ἐκ χώρας ἄλλης μακρὰν οὔσης τεμὼν Ἄππιος ἐνταῦθα ἐκόμισε· ταύτης γὰρ δὴ τῆς γῆς οὐδαμῆ πέφυκε. λείους δὲ τοὺς λίθους καὶ ὁμαλοὺς ἐργασάμενος, ἐγγωνίους τε τῇ ἐντομῇ πεποιημένος, ἐς ἀλλήλους ξυνέδησεν, οὔτε χάλικα ἐντὸς οὔτε τι ἄλλο ἐμβεβλημένος. οἱ δὲ ἀλλήλοις οὕτω τε ἀσφαλῶς συνδέδενται καὶ μεμύκασιν, ὥστε ὅτι δὴ οὐκ εἰσὶν ἡρμοσμένοι, ἀλλ’ ἐμπεφύκασιν ἀλλήλοις, δόξαν τοῖς ὁρῶσι παρέχονται· καὶ χρόνου τριβέντος συχνοῦ δὴ οὕτως ἁμάξαις τε πολλαῖς καὶ ζῴοις ἅπασι διαβατοὶ γινόμενοι ἐς ἡμέραν ἑκάστην οὔτε τῆς ἁρμονίας παντάπασι διακέκρινται οὔτε τινὶ αὐτῶν διαφθαρῆναι ἢ μείονι γίνεσθαι ξυνέπεσεν, οὐ μὴν οὐδὲ τῆς ἀμαρυγῆς τι ἀποβαλέσθαι. τὰ μὲν οὖν τῆς Ἀππίας ὁδοῦ τοιαῦτά ἐστι.
(Procopius, Bell. Goth. 1.14.6-11)

So Belisarius led his army from Naples by the Latin Way, leaving on the left the Appian Way, which Appius, the consul of the Romans, had made nine hundred years before and to which he had given his name. Now the Appian Way is in length a journey of five days for an unencumbered traveller; for it extends from Rome to Capua. And the breadth of this road is such that two waggons going in opposite directions can pass one another, and it is one of the noteworthy sights of the world. For all the stone, which is mill-stone and hard by nature, Appius quarried in another place far away and brought there; for it is not found anywhere in this district. And after working these stones until they were smooth and flat, and cutting them to a polygonal shape, he fastened them together without putting concrete or anything else between them. And they were fastened together so securely and the joints were so firmly closed, that they give the appearance, when one looks at them, not of being fitted together, but of having grown together. And after the passage of so long a time, and after being traversed by many waggons and all kinds of animals every day, they have neither separated at all at the joints, nor has any one of the stones been worn out or reduced in thickness,—nay, they have not even lost any of their polish. Such, then, is the Appian Way. (tr. Henry Bronson Dewing)

Ēphanistai

theodora_mosaic_-_basilica_san_vitale_ravenna

Ἐτύγχανε δὲ ὑπό του κυήσασα τῶν ἐραστῶν, ἡνίκα ἔτι ἐπὶ σκηνῆς ἦν, τοῦ δὲ κακοῦ ὀψὲ τοῦ καιροῦ αἰσθομένη πάντα μὲν ἐς τὸ ἀμβλύσκειν, ὥσπερ εἰώθει, ἐποίει, ἄωρον δὲ ἀποκτιννύναι τὸ βρέφος οὐδεμιᾷ μηχανῇ εἶχεν, ἐπεὶ οὐ πολλῷ ἀπελέλειπτο τοῦ ἀνθρωποειδὲς γένος γεγονέναι.  διὸ δὴ ἐπεὶ οὐδὲν προὐχώρει, τῆς πείρας ἀφεμένη τίκτειν ἠνάγκαστο. ὁρῶν δὲ αὐτὴν ὁ τοῦ τεχθέντος πατὴρ ἀπορουμένην τε καὶ ἀσχάλλουσαν, ὅτι μήτηρ γενομένη τῷ σώματι ὁμοίως ἐργάζεσθαι οὐκέτι ἂν δυνατὴ εἴη, ἐπεὶ καὶ ἀληθῶς δὴ ὑπῄσθετο ὡς διαχρήσεται τὸ παιδίον, ἀνείλετό τε καὶ Ἰωάννην ἐπονομάσας, ἐπεὶ ἄρσεν ἦν, ἐς τὴν Ἀραβίαν ἐς ἥνπερ ὥρμητο ἀπιὼν ᾤχετο. ἐπεὶ δὲ αὐτὸς μὲν τελευτᾶν ἔμελλεν, Ἰωάννης δὲ ἤδη μειράκιον ἦν, τὸν πάντα λόγον αὐτῷ ἀμφὶ τῇ μητρὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἔφρασε. καὶ ὃς ἅπαντα ἐπὶ τῷ πατρὶ ἐξ ἀνθρώπων ἀφανισθέντι τὰ νόμιμα ποιήσας, χρόνῳ τινὶ ὕστερον ἐς Βυζάντιον ἦλθε καὶ τοῖς παρὰ τὴν μητέρα τὰς εἰσόδους ἀεὶ ποιουμένοις τὸ πρᾶγμα ἀγγέλλει. οἱ δὲ οὐδὲν ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀνθρωπείου τρόπου αὐτὴν λογιεῖσθαι ὑποτοπήσαντες ἐπαγγέλλουσι τῇ μητρὶ ὅτι δὴ αὐτῆς Ἰωάννης ὁ υἱὸς ἥκοι. δείσασα δὲ ἡ γυνὴ μὴ ἐς τὸν ἄνδρα ἔκπυστος ὁ λόγος γένηται, τὸν παῖδά οἱ ἐς ὄψιν ἐκέλευεν ἥκειν. ἐπεί τε εἶδε παραγενόμενον, τῶν οἰκείων τινὶ ἐνεχείρισεν, ᾧπερ ἀεὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα ἐπέχειν εἰώθει. καὶ τρόπῳ μὲν ὅτῳ ὁ ταλαίπωρος ἐξ ἀνθρώπων ἠφάνισται οὐκ ἔχω εἰπεῖν, οὐδεὶς δὲ αὐτὸν ἄχρι δεῦρο ἰδεῖν οὐδὲ ἀπογενομένης τῆς βασιλίδος ἔσχε.
(Procopius, Anecdota 17.16-23)

She* had accidentally become pregnant by one of her lovers, when she was still on the stage; and perceiving her ill luck too late tried all the usual measures to cause a miscarriage, but despite every artifice was unable to prevail against nature at this advanced stage of development. Finding that nothing else could be done, she abandoned the attempt and was compelled to give birth to the child. The father of the baby, seeing that Theodora was at her wit’s end and vexed because motherhood interfered with her usual recreations, and suspecting with good reason that she would do away with the child, took the infant from her, naming him John, and sailed with the baby to Arabia. Later, when he was on the verge of death and John was a lad of fourteen, the father told him the whole story about his mother. So the boy, after he had performed the last rites for his departed father, shortly after came to Constantinople and announced his presence to the Empress’s chamberlains. And they, not conceiving the possibility of her acting so inhumanly, reported to the mother that her son John had come. Fearing the story would get to the ears of her husband, Theodora bade her son be brought face to face with her. As soon as he entered, she handed him over to one of her servants who was ordinarily entrusted with such commissions. And in what manner the poor lad was removed from the world, I cannot say, for no one has ever seen him since, not even after the Queen died.

* Empress Theodora

(tr. Richard Atwater)

Legi

Igitur rex Theodericus illiteratus erat et sic obtuso sensu, ut in decem annos regni sui quattuor litteras subscriptionis edicti sui discere nullatenus potuisset. de qua re laminam auream iussit interrasilem fieri, quattuor litteras “legi”* habentem; unde si subscribere voluisset, posita lamina super chartam, per eam pennam ducebat, ut subscriptio eius tantum videretur.
(Excerpta Valesiana 79)

Now King Theodoric was without training in letters, and of such dull comprehension that for ten years of his reign he had been wholly unable to learn the four letters necessary for endorsing his edicts. For that reason he had a golden plate with slits made, containing the four letters “legi”*; then, if he wished to endorse anything, he placed the plate over the paper and drew his pen through the slits, so that only this subscription of his was seen.
* “I have read (it).” Or perhaps ΘΕΟΔ.

(tr. John C. Rolfe, with his note)

Ὅπως δὲ μαρτυρίαν τῆς βασιλέως χειρὸς ἔχοιεν, οἷς δὴ ἐπίκειται τὸ ἔργον τοῦτο, ἐπενοήθη τάδε. ξύλῳ εἰργασμένῳ βραχεῖ ἐγκολάψαντες μορφήν τινα γραμμάτων τεττάρων, ἅπερ ἀναγνῶναι τῇ Λατίνων φωνῇ δύναται, γραφίδα τε βαφῇ βάψαντες, ᾗ βασιλεῖς γράφειν εἰώθασιν, ἐνεχειρίζοντο τῷ βασιλεῖ τούτῳ. καὶ τὸ ξύλον, οὗπερ ἐμνήσθην, τῷ βιβλίῳ ἐνθέμενοι, λαβόμενοί τε τῆς βασιλέως χειρὸς, περιῆγον μὲν ξὺν τῇ γραφίδι ἐς τῶν τεττάρων γραμμάτων τὸν τύπον, ἐς πάσας τε τὰς τοῦ ξύλου αὐτὴν περιελίξαντες ἐντομὰς οὕτω δὴ ἀπηλλάσσοντο, τοιαῦτα βασιλέως γράμματα φέροντες.
(Procopius, Anecd. 6.14-16)

But in order to obtain formal ratification by the imperial hand*, those who supervise this matter devised the following scheme. Onto a small strip of polished wood they carved the shape of four letters that spelled, in the Latin language, the word “I have read.” They dipped the pen into the special ink that is used for imperial subscriptions and put it into the hands of this emperor*. Then they placed the slat of wood that I mentioned upon the document and, holding the emperor’s hand, traced the pattern of the four letters with the pen, following the curving lines that were cut into the wood. And so, they would complete their business with the emperor in this way, having obtained his handwritten letters, such as they were. (tr. Anthony Kaldellis)

* Justin I.