Ἑνὸς οὖν ἄξιον ἐπιμνησθῆναι βασιλέως καὶ ἤθους καὶ ἔργου· καὶ γὰρ ἀποχρῶν ὁτιοῦν πάντα συνεφελκύσασθαι. λέγεται δή τινα τῶν οὐ λίαν ἀρχαίων, ἀλλ’ ὃν ἂν εἰδεῖεν καὶ τῶν γερόντων οἱ πάπποι, εἰ μὴ νέοι τοὺς παῖδας ἐτέκνωσαν, καὶ παρὰ νέων τῶν παίδων ἐγένοντο πάπποι· λέγεται δή τινα ἐκείνων στρατείαν μὲν ἄγειν ἐπὶ τὸν Ἀρσακίδην εἰς Ῥωμαίους ὑβρίσαντα· ἐπειδὴ δὲ πρὸς ταῖς ὑπερβολαῖς τῶν Ἀρμενίων γενέσθαι, πρὶν ἐπιχειρῆσαι τῇ πολεμίᾳ, δείπνου τε αὐτὸν ἐρασθῆναι, καὶ ἐπιτάξαι τῇ στρατιᾷ τοῖς ἀπὸ τῶν σκευοφόρων ἀγαθοῖς χρῆσθαι, ὡς ἐγγύθεν ἐπισιτιουμένοις, ἢν δέῃ. ἐδείκνυε δὲ ἄρα τοὺς Παρθυαίων ἀγρούς· ἐν τούτῳ δὲ ὄντων, πρεσβείαν ἐκ τῶν πολεμίων παρεῖναι καὶ οἴεσθαι μὲν ἥκουσαν προεντεύξεσθαι τοῖς βασιλεῖ παραδυναστεύουσι, καὶ τούτων γε αὖ πελάταις τισὶ καὶ εἰσαγγελεῦσιν, ὡς εἰς ἡμέραν πολλοστὴν ἀπ’ ἐκείνης τοῦ βασιλέως τῇ πρεσβείᾳ χρηματιοῦντος· συνενεχθῆναι δὲ κατ’ αὐτόν πως γενέσθαι τὸν βασιλέα δειπνοῦντα. οὐ γὰρ ἦν πω τὸ τῶν δορυφόρων τοιοῦτον, ἀπὸ τῆς στρατιᾶς στρατιά τις ἔκκριτος, νέοι πάντες, πάντες εὐμήκεις, τὰς κόμας ξανθοί τε καὶ περιττοί, “αἰεὶ δὲ λιπαροὶ κεφαλὰς καὶ καλὰ πρόσωπα” [Homer, Od. 15.332], χρυσάσπιδες καὶ χρυσεολόγχαι, οἷς, ὅταν ποτὲ ὀφθῶσι, τὸν βασιλέα σημαινόμεθα, καθάπερ, οἶμαι, ταῖς προανισχούσαις ἀκτῖσι τὸν ἥλιον· ἀλλὰ πᾶσα φάλαγξ τὸ οἰκεῖον ποιοῦσα, δορυφόρος ἦν τοῦ βασιλέως τε καὶ τῆς βασιλείας. οἱ δὲ ἁπλῶς ἑαυτῶν εἶχον, οὐκ ἀπὸ τῆς σκευῆς, ἀλλ’ ἀπὸ τῆς ψυχῆς βασιλεῖς ὄντες, καὶ τἄνδον τοῦ πλήθους διέφερον· τὰ δὲ ἐκτὸς ὅμοιοι τοῖς ἀγελαίοις ἐφαίνοντο, ὥσπερ ἔχοντά φασι τὸν Καρῖνον ὑπὸ τῆς πρεσβείας ὀφθῆναι. φοινικοβαφὴς χιτών, καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς πόας ἐκέκλιτο· τὸ δὲ δεῖπνον ἦν πίσινον ἕωλον ἔτνος, καὶ ἐν αὐτῷ τεμάχια ἄττα ταρίχη κρεῶν ὑείων, ἀπολελαυκότα τοῦ χρόνου. ἰδόντα δὲ αὐτόν, οὔτε ἀναθορεῖν οὔτε μεταποιῆσαί τι λέγεται· καλέσαντα δὲ αὐτόθεν τοὺς ἄνδρας, εἰδέναι τε φάναι παρ’ αὐτὸν ἥκοντας· αὐτὸς γὰρ εἶναι Καρῖνος· καὶ κελεύειν ἀπαγγεῖλαι τῷ νέῳ βασιλεῖ τήμερον, εἰ μὴ σωφρονήσοι, προσδέχεσθαι πᾶν μὲν ἄλσος αὐτῷ, πᾶν δὲ πεδίον ἐν μιᾷ σελήνῃ ψιλότερον ἔσεσθαι τῆς Καρίνου κεφαλῆς· ἅμα δὲ λέγοντά φασιν ἐκδῦναι τοῦ πίλου, δεικνύντα τὴν κεφαλὴν οὐδέν τι δασυτέραν παρακειμένου τοῦ κράνους· καὶ εἰ μὲν πεινῷεν, ἐφεῖναι συνεμβαλεῖν τῇ χύτρᾳ· μὴ δεομένους δέ, κελεύειν αὐθωρὸν ἀπηλλάχθαι καὶ ἔξω τοῦ Ῥωμαϊκοῦ χάρακος εἶναι, ὡς τῆς πρεσβείας αὐτοῖς τέλος εὑρούσης. λέγεται τοίνυν καὶ τούτων ἀνενεχθέντων ἐπὶ τὸ πλῆθος καὶ τὸν ἡγεμόνα τῶν πολεμίων, ὧν τε εἶδον ὧν τε ἤκουσαν, ὅπερ εἰκὸς ἦν συμβῆναι, φρίκην καὶ δέος ἐπιπεσεῖν ἅπασιν, εἰ πρὸς ἄνδρας μαχοῦνται τοιούτους, ὧν ὁ βασιλεὺς οὔτε βασιλεὺς ὢν οὔτε φαλακρὸς αἰσχύνεται, καὶ χύτραν παρατιθέμενος συνδείπνους καλεῖ· ἀφικέσθαι δὲ τὸν βασιλέα τὸν ἀλαζόνα κατορρωδήσαντα, πάντα εἴκειν ἕτοιμον ὄντα, τὸν ἐν τιάρᾳ καὶ κάνδυι τῷ μετὰ χιτῶνος φαύλων ἐρίων καὶ πίλου.
(Synesius, Peri Basileias 12.3-7)
It is therefore worthwhile to make mention of the character and achievements of a certain king, for any particular story will suffice to draw all others along in its wake. It is told of one of no great antiquity but such an one as even the grandfathers of our own elders might have known if only they had not begotten their children when young, and not become grandparents during the youth of their own children. It is said, then, that a certain monarch of those days was leading an expedition against the Parthians, who had behaved towards the Romans in an insulting manner. Now when they had reached the mountain frontiers of Armenia, before entering the enemy country, he was eager to dine, and gave orders to the army to make use of the provisions in the supply column, as they were now in a position to live off the neighboring country should it be necessary. He was then pointing out to them the land of the Parthians. Now, while they were so engaged, an embassy appeared from the enemy lines, thinking on their arrival to have the first conversation with the influential men who surrounded the king, and after these with some dependants and gentleman ushers, but supposing that only on a much later day would the king himself give audience to the embassy. However, it turned out somehow that the king was dining at the moment. Such a thing did not exist at that time as the Guards’ regiment, a sort of picked force detached from the army itself, of men all young, tall, fair-haired and superb, “their heads ever anointed and their faces fair,” equipped with golden shields and golden lances. At the sight of these we are made aware beforehand of the king’s approach, much as, I imagine, we recognize the sun by the rays that rise above the horizon. Here, in contrast, every phalanx doing its duty, was the guard of the king and kingdom. And these kings held themselves in simple fashion, for they were kings not in pomp but in spirit, and it was only within that they differed from other people. Externally they appeared in the likeness of the herd, and it was in such guise, they say, that Carinus was seen by the embassy. A tunic dyed in purple was lying on the grass, and for repast he had a soup of yesterday’s peas, and in some bits of salted pork that had grown old in the service. Now when he saw them, according to the story, he did not spring up, nor did he change anything; but called out to these men from the very spot and said that he knew that they had come to see him, for that he was Carinus; and he bade them tell the young king [Bahram II] that very day, that unless he conducted himself wisely, he might expect that the whole of their forest and plain would be in a single month barer than the head of Carinus. And as he spoke, they say that he took off his cap and showed his head, which was no more hairy than the helmet lying at his side. And he gave them leave if they were hungry to attack the stew-pot with him, but if not in need, he ordered them to depart at once, and to leave the Roman lines, as their mission was at an end. Now it is said that when these messages were reported to the rank and file and to the leader of the enemy, namely all that had been seen and heard, at once -as might have been expected- shuddering and fear fell upon everyone at the thought of fighting men such as these, whose very king was neither ashamed of being king nor of being bald, and who, offering them a stew-pot, invited them to share his meal. And their braggart king arrived in a state of terror and was ready to yield in everything, he of the tiara and robes, to one in a simple woolen tunic and cap. (tr. Augustine Fitzgerald)