Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Sleepless Emperor

The Emperor Justinian would apparently thrive on Twitter:

Everything was done the wrong way, and of the old customs none remained; a few instances will illustrate, and the rest must be silence, that this book may have an end. In the first place, Justinian, having no natural aptitude toward the imperial dignity, neither assumed the royal manner nor thought it necessary to his prestige. In his accent, in his dress, and in his ideas he was a barbarian. When he wished to issue a decree, he did not give it out through the Quaestor's office, as is usual, but most frequently preferred to announce it himself, in spite of his barbarous accent; or sometimes he had a whole group of his intimates publish it together, so that those who were wronged by the edict did not know which one to complain against.

Procopius, The Secret History. Of course, The Secret History is a hatchet job, so shouldn't be trusted, and, what is more, as a hatchet job is very over-the-top (there is an extensive discussion of how Justinian, who famously slept very little, was a demon whose head would sometimes float around on its own at night), so who knows whether Justinian actually went around just announcing his decrees to whomever.

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