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Synesius, On Imperial Rule, 18


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

[18] [1100] First of all, let the soldiers be enjoined to show consideration to the city populations, and to the rural also, and to be as little as possible a burden to them, remembering the duties they have undertaken on their account. For the king fights in their defense, and enlists men to fight in order that the prosperity of the town and the countryside may be preserved.

Whosoever, therefore, keeps the foreign enemy from me, but does not himself treat me with justice, such a man as this seems to me in no wise to differ from a dog who pursues wolves as far away as possible for no other reason than that he may himself slaughter the flock at his leisure, whereas in his fill of milk he has received the due reward of his guardianship.[1] True peace, therefore, comes if the soldiers have been trained to treat civilians as brothers, and only to take what the regulations permit.

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Note 1:
Plato, State, 416e, 464c.
Online 2007
Revision: 5 December 2007
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