Saturday, May 22, 2010

John Lydus on the Disasters of the AD 520s

I stumbled across this book "Joannis Laurentii Lydi Philadelpheni De magistratibus reipublicae Romanae" which is a Latin translation of John Lydus (John the Lydian) a court official of the Byzantine Empire. Most is a relating of procedures relating to magistrates but in a a digression he talks about the disasters of Antioch in the AD 520s. Here is his text from Book Three - Chapter 54:

His quoad Persas, innumeris vero aliis bellis coortis, in posterum literatis ad praefecturam aditus non patuit. Pecunia autem opus erat, neo sine ea quidquam eorum, quae oportebat, fieri poterat. Ac ne quid in evertenda pristina felicitate praetermitteretur, exsultantes terramque findentes motus Seleuci Antiochiam radicitus eruerunt, super jacenti colle urbem tegentes; nullo ut discrimine montis urbisque locis relicto, totum valles et scopuli occuparent, qui praeterfluenti urbem Orontae umbram quondam praebuerant. Immensam itaque auri copiam effundere praefectus cogebatur, quo elatae ruina moles, quae in excelsa aviaque juga intumuerant, interim auferrentur: etenim periculosum erat, Syrorum principem urbem dejectam negligere. Cum autem multo labore et pecuniae vi artiumque ope quasi ex erebo urbs enasceretur, Justino fato fungente, fatalis Chosroes per Arabiam cum innumerabili exercitu in Syrias irruit, ipsamque nuper collapsam urbem, facilem sibi, ut pote apertam, superatu visam, bello captam, infinita caede patrata, combussit; signis autem, queis ornata erat, cum tabulis, lapidibus picturisque omnibus una ablatis, totam in Persas Syriam abegit. Neque vero agricola aut collator fisco relictus erat : et tributum quidem nullum imperatori inferebatur; at militem sustentare praefectus cogebatur, omnesque consuetos reipublicae sumtus praebere, qui non tantum Syrorum tributa, quae quidem sola magni imperantibus momenti erant, amisisset, sed addere insuper sumtus numero majores cogeretur, cum in captas urbes, tum in collatores, si quos elapsos Persarum vinculis in desertis admirabilium quondam locorum errare contingeret.

3 comments:

kayhan said...

Hi, i'm Dr.Kayhan KAPLAN in Hatay Mustafa Kemal University.I finished project:VISUALIZING, MODELING AND ANIMATING ANCIENT CITIES AND THEIR ENVIRONMENTAL SURROUNDINGS BY USING REAL-TIME RENDER ENGINES: A CASE STUDY FOR THE ANTAKYA CITY.
We published web:www.ancientantioch.com(but little picture now)
thank you very much because i used to your blog.
plesae you send your email. i want talking about project.

Libanius_Redux said...

My email is cecclestone@gmail.com

Marc Lane said...

This earthquake, leading to Antioch's demise, is reminiscent of the non-fiction book "Catastrophe" by David Keys. He dates many similar global events to a probable meteor impact around Java/Sumatra in c. 535 AD.