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Synesius, On Imperial Rule, 17


Bust of Arcadius. Forum of Theodosius, Constantinople; Arkeoloji Müzesi, İstanbul (Turkey). Photo Marco Prins.
Bust of Arcadius. Forum of Theodosius, Constantinople (Arkeoloji Müzesi, İstanbul)
Synesius of Cyrene (c.370-c.413) was a Neo-Platonic philosopher who became bishop of Ptolemais in the Cyrenaica. He left behind a small corpus of texts that offer much information about daily life in Late Antiquity, about the christianization of the Roman world, and the military crisis at the beginning of the fifth century.

In his speech On Imperial Rule (or On Monarchy), Synesius offers some advise to the emperor Arcadius (395-408). More information can be found here.
Throughout this speech, the word "Scythians" refers to the Tervingian Germans (who would later be known as Visigoths), whereas "king" refers to emperor.

The
text is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald. The green four-digit numbers are page numbers of the Migne edition.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

[17] [1100] The institution of embassies, sacred as it is in other respects, is in this connection of the highest value. Conferring with these, the king will know that which is afar no less than that which is near, nor will foresight for his kingdom be bounded by the sense of sight. He can even raise up that which is fallen, though he see it not, can give largess to races in distress, and remit state burdens to such persons as have long been groaning under them. He will break off a war that threatens, and will terminate a war which has broken out, and will adjust everything else in time, for by the agency of embassies he will be able, like the god, 'to see and hear everything'.[1]

To these let him be accessible, and 'gentle as a father',[2] whether they come from near or from afar, for so I have heard Homer speaking once for all of the king that is at peace with himself.

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Note 1:
Homer, Iliad, 3.277.

Note 2:
Homer, Odyssey, 2.234.
Online 2007
Revision: 5 December 2007
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