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Ekaterina Nechaeva

Embassies Negotiations Gifts


Systems of East Roman Diplomacy in Late Antiquity

Alte Geschichte Geographica Historica 30

Franz Steiner Verlag


Ekaterina Nechaeva
Embassies Negotiations Gifts
geographica historica
Begrndet von Ernst Kirsten,
herausgegeben von Eckart Olshausen und Vera Sauer
Band 30
Ekaterina Nechaeva

Embassies Negotiations Gifts


Systems of East Roman Diplomacy
in Late Antiquity

Franz Steiner Verlag


Satz: Vera Sauer

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Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2014
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Printed in Germany.
ISBN 978-3-515-10632-0 (Print)
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Vorwort der Herausgeber

Ekaterina Nechaeva hat sich in ihrer an der Universitt Siena entstandenen Dissertation
mit den weit gespannten diplomatischen Beziehungen des Kaiserhofs in Konstantinopel in
der Zeit des 4. bis 6. Jh. befat. Nicht zuletzt aufgrund der Gesandtschaftsreisen, die fr den
diplomatischen Verkehr von fundamentaler Bedeutung waren, hat das Thema vielfltige
und wesentliche historisch-geographische Bezge. Die Geographica Historica bieten daher
den angemessenen Rahmen fr diese Arbeit ganz im Sinne der Konzeption, die seinerzeit
Ernst Kirsten zur Grndung dieser Reihe motiviert hat.
Eckart Olshausen und Vera Sauer
To my parents
Nikita Nechaev and Tatyana Girbasova
to keep the promise.

Acknowledgments

This book could never have been written had it not been for Barbara Scardigli under whose
scientific supervision I was extremely fortunate to write my PhD thesis at the University of
Siena, and who became my tutor in all the most sublime senses of the word, always being
magnanimous, attentive, cordially ready to advise and to support, and wise in guidance. My
affection, respect and gratitude are infinite and most sincere.
I wish to acknowledge my gratitude to the reviewers of my thesis Walter Pohl and Luis
A. Garca Moreno, whose observations have influenced my book as well as my further
work.
I am very much obliged to Anthony Kaldellis for his most intense reading of the whole
draft of this book and his numerous and extremely constructive criticisms, comments, cor-
rections and suggestions.
I am deeply grateful to Mario Mazza for the privilege of conversing with him, his kind
willingness to read my thesis and extremely valuable suggestions for the improvement of
the text.
I owe many acknowledgments to my instructors at the Saint Petersburg State University
Department of the History of Ancient Greece and Rome and especially to Petr Shuvalov,
the supervisor of my M.A. thesis, who introduced me to the Late Antique problematic, thus
giving me an impulse to study East Roman diplomacy. I express my thanks for his plentiful
advice on my PhD thesis, in particular regarding Late Antique bureaucracy and source
study, as well as historical geography and the voyages of envoys. I am also grateful to Alexey
Egorov for his remarks regarding my thesis.
I feel deep gratitude to Mark Schchukin, a sentiment mixed with my deep sorrow for his
recent death. He was a wise don, from whom it was a real pleasure to learn. My warm
thanks also go to Oleg Sharov and to all my friends and colleagues in the Slavonic-Sarma-
tian archaeological expedition and to the participants of Mark Schchukins home seminar.
To the late Dmitry Machinsky I am immensely indebted for my formation both as a
scholar and a person.
Most heartfelt thanks are addressed to Tamara Zheglova and Nadezhda Jijina for their
inspiring professional influence.
I must record my gratitude to the State Hermitage Museum and its Educational Depart-
ment, namely to Ludmila Ershova and Sofia Kudryavtseva for making my work on this
book possible, and to Marina Kozlovskaya for her support, countenance and friendship.
8 Acknowledgments

This study has benefited from a fellowship of the State Hermitage Museum and the Foun-
dation Hermitage Italia in 2008.
My investigation of the problem of diplomatic gifts was supported by a Diderot postdoc-
toral fellowship (MSH, EHESS, Paris) in 2009, which allowed me to research in the libraries
of Paris. I am also grateful to Paolo Odorico for his stimulating seminars.
My sincere thanks go to Ren Rebuffat for his interest in my work, his bonhomie and
help. I am deeply indebted to Leandro Polverini for the chance to present and discuss my
work.
It is due to Elena Krichevskaya that I dared to write a book and due to Ludmila Voevodi-
na that I dared to do it in English. If this book is comprehensible, this is because of Karen
Whittles immense effort in turning my ponderous English phrases laden with long Russian
periods (just like in this one) into a readable and clear text (where I so allowed it). It was a
privilege and a pleasure to work with Karen, and I am most grateful for her thoroughness
and professionalism.
I was fortunate to prepare a considerable part of this work in one of the most inspiring
places on Earth at the American Academy in Rome and I am very thankful to the staff
of the Arthur and Janet C. Ross Library, now my colleagues and friends. I am especially
grateful to Kristine Iara for her precious help. I am also thankful to Foteini Spingou for her
aid.
My special thanks go to Eckart Olshausen for accepting my book in the Geographica His-
torica series and to Vera Sauer for her help in the work on the manuscript.
The backing and encouragement from all my family and friends were amazing and of
immense importance.
Contents

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

Chapter I: Mechanisms of diplomacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23


1. State structures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
1.1 Emperor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
1.2 Senate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
1.3 Consistorium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
1.4 Sacrum cubiculum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
1.5 The magister officiorum and his personnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
1.6 Other administrative structures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
1.7 Decision-making . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
2. Reception of embassies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
2.1 Ceremonial of reception . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
2.2 Non- or partial reception of an embassy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
2.3 The release of envoys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
3. Diplomatic interchanges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
3.1 Open interchanges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
3.1.1 Embassies and negotiations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
3.1.2 Letters and speeches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
3.1.3 Rules respected and not . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
3.1.4 Subsidies, gifts and titles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
3.1.5 Persons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
3.2 Secret interchanges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
3.2.1 Secret negotiations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
3.2.2 Plots . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
4. Diplomatic inviolability and the problem of the safety of
diplomatic delegations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
5. Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
10 Contents

Chapter II: Diplomatic negotiation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69


1. The negotiating parties and agents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
1.1 Rulers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
1.1.1 Relatively equal basis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
1.1.2 Paradigm of the empires dominancy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
1.1.3 Direct communication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
1.1.4 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
1.2 Ruler and representative . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
1.2.1 Blocks of embassies: initiative and response . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
1.2.1.1 Relations with Persia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
1.2.1.2 Relations with the Goths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
1.2.1.3 Relations with the Huns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
1.2.1.4 Others . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
1.2.1.5 Block system of embassies. A summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
1.2.2 Single embassies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
1.2.3 Classification of embassies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
1.2.3.1 Minor embassy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
1.2.3.2 Major embassies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
1.2.3.3 Conventionally distinguished group of medium embassies . . . 92
1.2.3.4 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
1.3 Negotiations between representatives of rulers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
1.3.1 Plenipotentiary and autocratic embassies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
1.3.1.1 Authorized embassies. A summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
1.3.2 Local negotiations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
1.3.2.1 Magistri militum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
1.3.2.2 Clergymen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
1.4 Agents of negotiation. A summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
2. The purposes of embassies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
2.1 Negotiations of a peaceful origin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103
2.2 Negotiations held in consequence of a military conflict . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106
2.2.1 Conclusion of peace/truce agreements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106
2.2.1.1 Truce . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106
2.2.1.2 Peace treaties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107
2.3 Main questions of negotiations and clauses of treaties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
3. Procedure of discussing and signing a treaty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
4. Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116

Chapter III: Embassy structure and personnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117


1. Ranks, professions and qualities of ambassadors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118
1.1 Titles and dignities of envoys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118
1.2 Qualities of a diplomat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
1.3 Professional diplomats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127
Contents 11

2. Embassy personnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131


2.1 Chief envoys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
2.2 Companions of chief envoys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
2.3 Interpreters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
2.4 Messengers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135
2.5 . The ambassadors satellites and suite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137
2.6 Outsiders travelling with embassies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138
2.7 Lists of embassy personnel and the number of people in a
diplomatic delegation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139
3. Diplomatic expeditions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141
3.1 Ambassadors voyages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141
3.2 Transport and logistics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145
3.3 Conditions on diplomatic journeys. Envoys adventures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148
3.3.1 Hardships of the journey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149
3.3.2 Duration of the diplomatic journeys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150
3.3.3 Peculiarities and surprises of reception . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150
3.3.4 Departure of a delegation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151
4. Extra embassy functions. Information gathering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152
4.1 Envoys reports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152
4.2 Ethnographical observations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154
4.3 Clandestine tasks. Late Antique envoys spy activity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155
5. Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160

Chapter IV: Gifts in the diplomatic practice of Late Antiquity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163


1. Etiquette and the system of gift exchange in diplomatic negotiations . . . . . . . . . . . 165
1.1 State gifts. From ruler to ruler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165
1.2 Personal gifts from diplomats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167
1.3 Personal gifts for diplomats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168
1.4 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 169
2. Perception of the gift donations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170
3. Sets of gifts donated by the Roman Empire to different partners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174
3.1 Gifts to the Persians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175
3.2 Gifts to the Avars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
3.3 Gifts to the Huns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184
3.4 Gifts to the Sabirian Huns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186
3.5 Gifts to the Arabs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186
3.6 Gifts to the rulers of Caucasian kingdoms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189
3.7 Gifts to the Goths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 190
3.8 Gifts to the Franks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191
3.9 Gifts to the Chersonites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191
3.10 Roman gifts. A summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 194
12 Contents

4. Sets of gifts donated to the Roman Empire by different partners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 195


4.1 Gifts from the Persians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 195
4.2 Gifts from the Huns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 198
4.3 Gifts from the Turks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 198
4.4 Gifts from peoples of Africa and South Arabia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 198
4.5 Gifts from different barbarians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202
4.6 Foreign gifts. A Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204
5. Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204

Chapter V: Insignia in the diplomatic practice of Late Antiquity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207


1. Insignia of the Lazian kings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 208
1.1 Headdress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 209
1.2 Chlamys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211
1.3 Chiton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 214
1.4 Fibula . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 215
1.5 Footwear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217
1.6 Belt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 219
1.7 The Lazian kings insignia. A summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 220
2. Insignia of the Armenian Satraps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 220
2.1 Chlamys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 222
2.2 Chiton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 223
2.3 Fibula . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 224
2.4 Footwear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 224
2.5 The Armenian satraps insignia. A summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 225
3. Insignia of the rulers of the Moors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 225
3.1 Sceptre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 226
3.2 Headdress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227
3.3 Chlamys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 228
3.4 Chiton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 228
3.5 Fibula . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229
3.6 Footwear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
3.7 The Moorish rulers insignia. A summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
4. The insignia of Clovis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 231
5. Insignia distributed by the Roman Empire. A summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 232

Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237

Appendix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 243
1. Sets of gifts donated by the Roman Empire to different partners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 243
2. Sets of gifts donated to the Roman Empire by different partners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249
3. Insignia Sets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 252
Contents 13

Literature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 255
Abbreviations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 255
Principal primary sources and main editions and translations used . . . . . . . . . . . . 255
Secondary Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 260

Indices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 279
Personal names . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 279
Geographical names and places . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 283
Notions, ideas and concepts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 287
Index locorum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 296
Introduction

The general aim of this book is to examine the phenomenon of Late Roman diplomacy, its
formation and operation as a whole system during the Late Antique period. The Roman
imperial diplomacys traditional sphere of activity was in relations with Iran first Parthian
and later Sassanian. The experience accumulated in this interaction formed the basis and
standard of high-level diplomacy. The Late Antiquity brought new realities and protago-
nists, shifting the balance and roles. Studying the phenomena of the Great Migration period
through the prism of the diplomatic structure and practices is one of the keys to under-
standing how that transformation could happen, how different masses of peoples and cul-
tures the existing ones and the newcomers from outside Europe could be integrated into
a cooperating system. A process of reciprocal influence was taking place: the Roman/
Byzantine Empire and the surrounding barbarians gradually accepted each others rules,
norms and traditions. We can speak about the barbarization of the Empire and about the
newcomers imitation of that Empire. When the Roman Empire faced the barbarians of the
Great Migration epoch it had to draw up new foreign policy methods. The Late Antiquity
was the time for the formation of a very elaborate and accurate, future Byzantine system of
diplomacy, based on rules and norms and ceremony. The system proved to be strict but
flexible when necessary. It seems important to investigate the making (and the process be-
hind it) of a diplomatic system in the Late Antiquity period which helped a state and society
not to collapse in the collision with the new reality but to take a new life, and become in-
volved in the new processes.1 Diplomacy can be regarded as an aggregate of methods, rules
and norms adopted by the sides in their mutual communication that helped either to avoid
or correct the consequences of conflicts.
The main subject of the research is the structure of the diplomacy system, how it worked
and its semantics and patterns of development. On the other hand, it is not intended to
make a serious prosopographical analysis of the ambassadors and key decision-making fig-
ures. Aspects of matrimonial diplomacy are left apart, as they deserve a special study mostly
within the context of the West. Neither is it the purpose of the current study to concentrate
on the course of events and chronology of diplomatic actions, since this is already well re-
constructed in the specialist literature. In this book I mean first of all to deal with the pat-
terns of structural relations and communication, concentrating on the issues of negoti-
ations and ambassadorial practices. I do not hazard to intrude into the economic basis and
implications of diplomacy, but am more interested in the semantically symbolic language

1 Diplomatie dabord, as formulated by Mario Mazza when explaining his will to analyse diplo-
matic relations and their political and socio-economical prerequisites as a reaction to numerous re-
cent studies of military history and frontier archaeology (Mazza, Cultura, guerra, diplomazia
123).
16 Introduction

of diplomatic interaction, which seems to have been the most important foundation and
expression of Late Antique diplomacy. That is why the work does not aim to analyse the
subsidies and various payments released by the Empire in communication with its partners,
but instead diplomatic gifts, which were not valued (at least not only or mainly) for their
cost, but for their specific symbolic significance.
It is not possible to cover all the spheres of the many-sided phenomenon in this book.
Themes of inner imperial diplomacy are mainly left aside in favour of international diplo-
macy. However, a complex net of connections and treaties with the barbarians and their in-
clusion within the imperial boundaries does not always make such a distinction significant.
International law and the juridical side of the problem of diplomacy are also outside my
field of competence and the goals of this work. The scope of the study is to concentrate on
the main working mechanisms of the diplomatic machine and the principles behind them,
especially on various aspects of international diplomatic communication. The most impor-
tant form of its realization were embassies which provided a system of negotiation func-
tioning through representatives. It is essential for the present book to explore the organiza-
tion of the negotiating process, its rules and regulations, the phenomenon of diplomatic
mission and ceremonial forms of diplomacy.
Another aspect is the role of diplomatic gifts as a method and language of communica-
tion. An investigation of the types of objects donated and the directions for distribution, se-
mantics and status symbolism of these presents is a necessary element in the reconstruction
of the diplomatic system as a whole.
It is important to recognize, as noted precisely by F. Tinnenfeld, that the complex and
increasingly ceremonial system was charged with refined semiotics to use a modern ex-
pression which was open to any kind of sophisticated nuances in order to express mean-
ingful variations of the political atmosphere. Normally, the relations between nuances in
ceremonial and political meanings are not expressly emphasized in our sources,2 and in
general can be applied to different symbolic acts of East Roman/Byzantine diplomacy. The
present book is an attempt to decipher and to interpret this system of codes.
The geographical and chronological limits are as follows: it was not intended to investi-
gate all the spheres of diplomacy in Late Antiquity in the vast territory covered by the Ro-
man Empires diplomatic contacts. My concern is only to show the main characteristic fea-
tures of the phenomenon. The chronological limits are the middle IV and the late VI centu-
ries, i.e. beginning with Ammianus and finishing with Theophylact as sources. The re-
search refers first of all to the Eastern Roman Empire in its relations with the peoples of the
provinces, boundary and neighbouring areas, such as: the Pontic and Caucasian region,
Eurasian steppes, Central and West Europe, Near East and North Africa. Diplomacy in the
Western part of the Empire is not given specific attention here for various reasons. The Late
Antique West, especially from the V century AD, was developing its own way, within a dif-
ferent paradigm from the Eastern, future Byzantine Empire. The system of Western politi-
cal communication is a separate, vast field of research, which was recently undertaken by A.

2 Tinnefeld, Ceremonies 213.


Introduction 17

Gillett and by A. Becker.3 The time frames limiting the study to the IVVI centuries
AD seem logical as they allow us to look at the phenomenon within the historical epoch
that can be regarded as a last stage of the Roman Antique world and also the time when a
new one was born. A combination of general historical reasons (the IV century as the sig-
nificant stage in the evolution of the Roman state and the formation of a system of domina-
tion; the VI century which marks the highest peak in the development of the Late Roman
Empire, on the eve of the changes of the VII century), as well as the nature of the sources,
make this period optimal for examining the phenomenon and system of late Roman diplo-
macy.
My book is based on the written sources of Greek-Roman historiography. Mainly the
works of Late Antique secular historians are used, the most important among them being:
Ammianus Marcellinus, Procopius of Caesarea, Agathias of Myrina and Theophylact Si-
mocatta. Most of my sources belong to the so-called classicizing direction.4 This group also
includes historical compositions which have only survived in fragments, conserved in the
conspectus by Photius, like Olympiodorus of Thebes for example,5 and especially in Con-
stantines De legationibus excerpts. Compiled following the order of emperor Constantine
VII Porphyrogennetos (945959), this was a sort of moralistic encyclopaedia,6 perhaps it
is better to say, bibliotheca, a library or a collection,7 a sort of reference book that could
also be used with educational purposes.8 Of special interest for this study is one of its 53
sections the one on embassies. Its two parts, Excerpta de legationibus Romanorum and
Excerpta de legationibus gentium are known to have been edited by an excerptor a certain

3
Gillett, Envoys. The book of A. Becker on the fifth-century diplomatic relations (Paris 2013)
discusses similar questions to this inquiry but from the western perspective. It appeared while this
study was in press, so it was impossible to use it.
4 See: FCHLRE.
5
According to the evidence of the philosopher Hierocles, Olympiodorus served as ambassador
(most likely of the Eastern Empire) to many great barbarian peoples who are said to have hon-
oured him greatly (Phot. Bibl. 214). He himself wrote about his participation in the embassy to the
Huns (Olymp. 19). The date of this embassy is fixed by Gordon as 412 (Gordon, Age of Attila
186); the same date is given by Treadgold, Diplomatic Career 713. Shuvalov denies this date,
demonstrating that any date between 408 and 411 is possible, but not the year 412 (Olimpiodor
Fivanskii [Skrzhinskaia/Shuvalov] 33, 36). On the author in general: W. Haedicke, Olym-
piodoros (11; von Theben), in: RE 18, 201207; FCHLRE 1, 2747; 2, 152220]; Hunger, Hoch-
sprachliche profane Literatur 281f. with references to bibliography; PLRE-II, 798f., s.v. Olympio-
dorus 1; Cameron, Wandering poets 470509; Baldwin, Olympiodorus 212231; Matthews,
Olympiodorus 81f.; Thompson, Olympiodorus 4352; Udaltsova, Razvitie 143145; Tread-
gold, Diplomatic Career 709733.
6
The term, used by K. Krumbacher and followers: Krumbacher, Geschichte (1897) 258; Btt-
ner- Wobst, Anlage 88120; Dain, Lencyclopdisme 6481; Hunger, Hochsprachliche profane
Literatur 361366.
7
Odorico, Cultura 5.
8
Hunger, Hochsprachliche profane Literatur 361; see on the methods of work and about the Ex-
cerpta in general: Schreiner, Historikerhandschrift 129; Semenovker, Bibliograficheskie (esp.
ch. 4 Bibliograficheskii apparat vizantiiskikh entsiklopedii. Enciklopedii i bibliografija, 6773);
Toynbee, Constantin Porphyrogenitus 20; A. Kazhdan, Excerpta, in: ODB 2, 767; Wilson,
Scholars 140145; W. Drews, Konstantinos VII Porphyrogennetos, in: RAC 21, 2006, 483485;
Lemerle, Byzantine Humanism 323332 and note 49 with references to the bibliography (the
original French edition: Lemerle, Premier humanisme 280288); Smirnova, Evnapii i Zosim 71,
75.
18 Introduction

Theodosius Minor.9 The texts by Priscus of Panium,10 Malchus of Philadelphia11 and Me-
nander Protector12 referred to us in the De legationibus excerpts are of special value for the

9
The text survived only in one manuscript in the library of Escorial. This manuscript burnt in a fire
in 1671 and is known to us from the copies made by Darmarius or his assistant in the XVI century.
On the manuscripts and stemma: Levinskaia, Tokhtasev, Menandr 313315 (critics against
De legationibus [de Boor] and Blockley [FCHLRE], using the published and unpublished
works of M. N. Krasheninnikov, O rukopisnom predanii). See also: Krasheninnikov, No-
vaia rukopis-I; Krasheninnikov, Novaia rukopis-II.
10
The fragment of text by Priscus is of primary importance for the study of diplomacy. He provides
valuable data on different embassies and diplomatic actions, as not only did he have a particular in-
terest in the problem and access to the sources (he served under the command of the magister offi-
ciorum, a figure traditionally involved in diplomatic activity), but he also participated personally in
one of the Roman diplomats most dramatic missions to the court of Attila. According to the pre-
sumption of C. Zuckerman, the editors of the De legationibus transmitted Priscuss text in a quite
exhaustive manner, including full descriptions of the Roman and barbarian embassies (Zucker-
man, Lempire 180). Perhaps he worked as a scriniarius, enabling him to become acquainted with
Maximinus (with whom Priscus later travelled), who at that time was comes et magister scrinii me-
moriae. Maximinus participated in the composition of the Theodosian Code in December 435 (W.
Ensslin, Priscus (35), in: RE 23.1, 1957, 9f.; W. Ensslin, Maximinus (17), in: RE Suppl. 5, 1931,
665). This hypothesis by W. Ensslin can well explain the fact that later Priscus was an assessor of
Maximinus, the head of the famous embassy to the court of Attila described by Priscus in his com-
position. Later in the autumn of 450 he was in Rome, where Maximinus was sent at that time, per-
haps with a letter announcing the enthronement of Marcianus. On November 9, 450 Maximinus
received a letter from Pope Leo to carry to Constantinople. Later Priscus accompanied Maximinus
who held negotiations with the Arabs at Damascus and then with the Blemmyes and Nobadae in
Thebais. Later, after the death of Maximinus, Priscus was the assessor of the Master of Offices, Eu-
phemius. Priscus disapproved the policy of Theodosius II and supported Marcianus. Perhaps this
was one of the reasons why he created a positive, but realistic image of Attila. Priscus was not inter-
ested in military history, instead showing more interest in the political history and diplomatic rela-
tions. Diplomatic orations in his text are made on the basis of real facts, but are considered to have
been rhetorically revised by the author. On Priscus see also: FCHLRE 1, 4870; W. Ensslin, Pris-
cus (35), in: RE 23.1, 1957, 9f.; W. Ensslin, Maximinus (17) in: RE Suppl. 5, 1931, 665 (I support
the identification of PLRE-II Maximinus 10 and 11, and possibly 6, proposed by Ensslin against
Blockleys scepticism p. 48, 143 no. 5: the fact that Maximinus 17=11 was the strategos in his
mission to make peace with the Nubades and Blemmyes after their defeat by the previous governor
does not necessarily mean he had to be a soldier by profession); Hunger, Hochsprachliche profa-
ne Literatur 1, 282284, with references to bibliography; Gindin/Ivan chik, Prisk Paniiskii 81
83; Zuckerman, Lempire 159182; Udaltsova, Ideino-politicheskaia borba 100142; Dobl-
hofer, Diplomaten 11; Maltese, A proposito; Baldwin, Priscus 18.
11
The fragment of the texts by Malchus is important for the current study because of his objectivity
and attention to the Empires ambassadorial problems and relations with the barbarians. Malchus
had a strong interest in diplomacy issues. On Malchus see also: FCHLRE 1, 7185; R. Laquer,
Malchos (2), in: RE 14.1, 1928, 851857; Hunger, Hochsprachliche profane Literatur 1, 284285,
with references to the bibliography; Baldwin, Malchus 91107.
12
Menander is a very important source for the present investigation, valuable due to his detail, wis-
dom, access to the primary sources and accounts about extremely important Roman relational is-
sues with the Persians and the barbarians. Of outstanding significance is his account of negoti-
ations with the Persians which provides the text of the treaty, based on the account by Peter the Pa-
trician, the details about relations with the Avars and descriptions of imperial ambassadors jour-
neys to the distant Turk territories. He seems, however, to have no personal diplomatic experience,
being only a protector. On Menander see also: Hunger, Hochsprachliche profane Literatur 1, 309
312; Baldwin, Menander 100125; Levinskaia/Tokhtasev, Menandr 311313; Udaltso-
va, Ideino-politicheskaia borba 243274; Grecu, Menander 7884.
Introduction 19

studied subject, because they demonstrate a certain unity of style, methods, approaches and
traditions, and provide a full picture of the historical process and diplomatic realities and
the collisions within it.
In addition to the main sources, chronicles, epistolographical13 and hagiographical
sources and church histories have been occasionally used. The character of the material
provided by these sources seems rather selective and less applicable to the reconstruction of
the system of diplomacy than the data provided by historiography. Additional sources
mainly of Oriental descent (from the Syrian, Arabic and Persian traditions) are used in
translation.
The diplomacy of Late Antiquity, having introduced and elaborated many principles
which were later adopted and used by the Byzantine diplomatic system, inherited and de-
veloped many principles of the traditional Roman diplomacy and foreign policy of the Re-
publican, Principate and Imperial periods, as well as those of Classical Greece deriving
through Hellenistic traditions.14 The paradigm of Roman-Persian relations as the etalon of
the relations of supreme status partners was being formed in the times of the early Empire
with the Parthians to then develop in the later epoch. It is evident that from the times of the
Principate the emperor started to play a dominant and decisive role in the conduction and
formation of the diplomacy, while the senate tended to maintain more formal and con-
sultative positions such a scheme was partly relevant for Late Antiquity as well. It is im-
portant to note that it was the time of the early Principate when the special bureaucratic
structures,15 which later played a significant role in making the diplomacy, were being
formed and also applied for diplomatic use. Certainly in the situation of the new epoch and
international circumstances, with the growing might of Persia, the great migration process-
es which brought numerous new partners and enemies into the orbit of the Roman world
and changes in the situations within Empire, the Roman state had to develop and improve
the diplomatic system, adapting it to the new circumstances. Thus it was the Late Antique
period when traditional Roman diplomacy was partly changed, increased and greatly devel-
oped, and a new, complex, highly structured, hierarchical system of diplomacy was created,
the one which was inherited by the Byzantine Empire.

13 Such a source as Variae by Cassiodorus is not studied here systematically due to a combination of
different reasons. As already noted, the book does not aim to seriously investigate the diplomacy of
the Western kingdoms and the post-Roman traditions of the Gothic Italian court. Instead, I mainly
intend to concentrate on the classical traditional diplomacy of the Eastern Empire, on traditional
directions like Persia, first of all, and different barbarians. Furthermore, the text by Cassiodorus re-
quires a special analysis to investigate the problem of the letters veracity and the correlation be-
tween diplomatic realities and influences from literature. A. Gillett has devoted a serious work
to the subject of the Wests political communication and the Variae in particular (Gillett, Envoys
172219).
14 See e.g.: Mosley, Envoys; Mosley, Griechenland; Jones, Kinship and Diplomacy; Piccirilli,
Linvenzione della diplomazia nella Grecia Antica; Gazzano, Diplomazia; Orsi, Trattative; An-
geli Bertinelli/Piccirilli (eds.), Linguaggio; Matthaei, Classification; Ziegler, Bezie-
hungen; Keaveney, Treaties; Pohl(ed.), Kingdoms; Campbell, War and Diplomacy; Affor-
tunati, Ambasciatori; Scardigli (ed.), Trattati; Jger, Unverletzlichkeit.
15
Potemkin (ed.), Istoriia diplomatii; Kovalev, Istoriia Rima; A. von Premerstein, Legatus, in:
RE 12.1, 1924, 1138.
20 Introduction

Concept of diplomacy in Late Antiquity


Diplomacy as an aggregate of methods, rules and norms which allowed domestic political
aims to be fulfilled using alternative means to the military undoubtedly existed and was
quite well developed in the Late Antiquity. Though, in spite of its Greek origin, the actual
word diplomacy only started to be used with this meaning in modern times.16
It seems important to try to reconstruct the perception of the phenomenon of diplomacy
by Late Antique authors, a phenomenon whose very existence in that epoch is obvious for
us now.17
Ancient authors rarely write about what we now call diplomacy as a whole. The majority
of the evidence deals with concrete events of foreign policy: concluding treaties, exchange
of embassies, etc. It is evident that in Antiquity the main components of what we today call
diplomacy were embassies, conferences, meetings, receptions, negotiations, treaties, etc.
One could analyse the evidence in the sources to see if there are any traces of the general
notion of the phenomenon of diplomacy, guided mostly by the modern paradigm of this
concept.18 First one can mark out ideas about the art of eloquence, oratory and persuasion
(Men. Prot. 9.1; 6.1; 19.1).19 In the sources one can find some terms/notions/words, which,
as I understand it, may be related to the perception of what we call diplomacy. It is the war
peace contraposition that gives some possibilities to distinguish the notion.20 There are
some examples when ancient authors characterize the barbarian chiefs not only as good
warriors, but also as good diplomats. The authors used different terms, like ars, consilium,
providentia and (Jord. Get. 168sq.; 183; 186; Proc. BV 1.4.12). In the context of
these characteristics all of them should refer to what we today call diplomacy, but in the
analysed texts they are not united by any common notion/term. Another theme often ex-
ploited by Late Antique authors is the contraposition of the rulers youth, when he is full of
strength and leads aggressive policies and wars, with the senior age at which rulers tended
to turn to peaceful life, using not instruments of war, but pacific tools instead (Proc. BV
1.4.12; Agath. 5.14; Men. Prot. 5.1sq.; 9.1; 12.5sq.; 15.1; 16.1; 20.2; 26.1; Agath. 5.24.225.6).
Attitudes towards such a shift may have been different. As noted by E. Chrysos, most of
the historical sources seem to favour the warlike attitude as synonymous with correct impe-
rial behaviour, while the titles /pacificus remained in fashion only for a very short
period in imperial rhetoric. At the same time E. Chrysos notes that less official sources
tend to give emperors more merit for the advantages of peace than the imperial propaganda
would admit.21 It is important, however, that the authors perceive and underline the differ-

16
A. Gillet emphasized that the information we have on the Late Antiquity is not enough to exam-
ine diplomacy itself: Gillett, Envoys 17.
17 Nechaeva, Predstavleniia o diplomatii 7786.
18
The literature devoted to the problem is not very ample. The following works pay some attention to
the theory of diplomacy, but not from the point of view of how the phenomenon was perceived by
the ancients themselves: Kazhdan, Notion 321; Chrysos, Byzantine diplomacy, 2539; Obo-
lensky, Principles.
19
Here and hereafter I quote Menander in the edition: The history of Menander the Guardsman
[Blockley].
20
In general about the Roman concept of peace e.g.: Desideri, Varrone 107119; Kaegi, Concep-
tions 502f.
21 Chrysos, Buy the Peace 231.
Introduction 21

ence in methods and mark a contraposition between aggressive and diplomatic ones. Pa-
cific rhetoric which fills the speeches of diplomats, letters of emperors etc. could also give a
key to distinguishing the concept of the means which helped to achieve peace, i.e. the vari-
ous methods of diplomacy (Proc. BP 1.14.13; 1.16.13; 2.4.14; 2.10.10; 2.21.1929; Proc.
BG 3.21.1822; Men. Prot. 6.1.50). Notable in this context is the characteristic of Julian pro-
vided by Ammianus:22
He gained a reputation among foreign nations for eminence in bravery, sobriety, and knowledge
of military affairs, as well as of increase in all noble qualities; and his fame gradually spread and
filled the entire world. Then, since the fear of his coming extended widely over neighbouring and
far distant nations, deputations hastened to him more speedily than usual: on one side, the peo-
ples beyond the Tigris and the Armenians begged for peace; on another, the Indian nations as far
as the Divi and the Serendivi vied with one another in sending their leading men with gifts ahead
of time; on the south, the Moors offered their services to the Roman state; from the north and the
desert regions, through which the Phasis flows to the sea, came embassies from the Bosporani and
other hitherto unknown peoples, humbly asking that on payment of their annual tribute they
might be allowed to live in peace within the bounds of their native lands. Amm. 22.7.9sq.
Here we see both concepts together: the emperor is brave and strong and that is why peo-
ples all over the world seek peace with him, employing diplomacy. In this case receiving
various embassies appears very honourable and his role not only as a warrior, but also a dip-
lomat, emphasizes the greatness.
It may be concluded that ancient authors wrote rather often about diplomacy in our
modern meaning of the word. In the source texts one can find a division between the com-
prehension of military and pacific methods of foreign policy. If a certain politician is de-
scribed as a good diplomat such terms as ars, consilium, providentia, , ,
and such characteristics as , , , ,
, and are used.23 But when his bellicose mood is
emphasized, he is called , , or . Their definitions
are numerous and few of them are used systematically. It seems possible to suppose that in
the period of Late Antiquity a general concept which would unite all the forms of foreign
policy undertaken by alternative means to the military had not yet been found. Thus one
faces a certain paradox in this epoch diplomacy evidently existed, since it was quite devel-
oped and complete, but the term and the notion were lacking, hence the final, definitive
perception did not occur.

22
See about this passage: Matthews, Empire 106.
23 See also: Diehl, Justinien 412.
Chapter I
Mechanisms of diplomacy

This chapter has above all an introductory character. Many problems are listed rather than
actually dealt with here, with the aim to give the context for the study. The main thrust of
the book is in the following chapters, where some of the questions touched in the first chap-
ter are analysed in more detail.

1. State structures
1.1 Emperor
The emperor must be regarded as a principal figure in the sphere of diplomacy, decision-
making and elaboration of the general strategy and political tasks of diplomacy. Evidently
the supreme rulers degree of personal involvement in these matters depended greatly on
the sovereign himself. It is also important to note that the general principle of the organiza-
tion of the late Roman Empire identified the actions of the state with the figure of its ruler.
Both in theory and in practice the constitution of the emperors powers were absolute. He
controlled foreign policy, making peace and wars at will.1 Officially all the letters and em-
bassies from abroad were addressed personally to the emperor, and all the response actions
derived from him.2 There were consulting bodies and various state structures that assisted
him in different matters (see further). Throughout the period of Late Antiquity the extent
of the emperors real personal involvement in the problems of wars, frontiers and diplo-
macy decreased with the evident shift from the mobile emperors to the emperors resident
in Constantinople.3 So long as they remained personally active on the frontiers, emperors
retained much more direct involvement in negotiations with foreign peoples,4 whereas, by
relinquishing this role and remaining in the capital, emperors of the 5th and 6th centuries
created greater scope for officials to play a mediating role in diplomacy.5 This process pro-
moted the development of mediating shuttle diplomacy, which saw envoys, agents of inter-
national communication, travelling there and back to negotiate and make agreements. Me-
diatory diplomacy differed technically from diplomacy with more direct involvement from
state rulers, but the principle of the superiority of all the monarchs actions remained. It was
carried out through sets of strict instructions for ambassadorial delegations which they

1
Jones,Later Roman Empire I, 321. See more about personal diplomacy: II.1.1. (the indications
here and further on are to the chapter and sections of this paper).
2 Paradisi, Storia 182.
3
Lee, Information 42.
4
Cf. Millar, Emperors 6.
5 Lee, Information 42.
24 I. Mechanisms of diplomacy

were obliged to follow,6 and imperial ratification was required for all the acts of agreements
and treaties.7 In the sphere of reception and negotiations with foreign embassies arriving in
the empire, the emperor remained the most important figure in all the ceremonies and
talks.
So, in general, the emperor seems to have been the most significant figure in the regula-
tion and conduction of the diplomatic process, and sources usually explained changes in
the course of politics as the result of the will of emperor or the accession into power of a
new ruler with a new political programme. According to F. Millar, emperors both could
and did draw on systematic sources of up-to-date information from beyond the frontiers.8
At the same time it must be admitted that without a staff of professionals and experts re-
sponsible for the realization of concrete actions and orders, and those who could provide
serious consultations on matters of diplomacy and foreign policy, the system would hardly
have functioned. Scholars mark a notable tendency: through the period from the 4th to the
6th centuries the role of emperor in diplomacy was becoming more and more ceremonial,9
thus the role of consulting bodies and state bureaucratic structures involved in the diplo-
macy process must have increased. It also seems very important to underline that in differ-
ent cases the patters could have been different, as they depended much (if not mostly) on
the emperors personality, his own political will, programme and power, which determined
the degree and level of the influence of bureaucracy and concrete figures.
Empresses may also have played some role in diplomacy and foreign policy. Theodora
seems to have been rather active in foreign policy.10 We are also informed about Empress
Sophias involvement in the reception and dispatching of embassies (Men. Prot. 18.16).11
Thus, at least some of the empresses could act for the emperors in certain situations or even
act in competition with them.

6
See: I.3.1.3; II.1.2.
7
See: II.3.
8 Millar, Emperors 19.
9
Whitby, From Frontier; Lee, Information 42.
10
According to Procopius, she wrote a letter to a Persian Zaberganes (PLRE-IIIB, 1410, s.v. Zaber-
ganes 1), a close associate of Chosroes (whom she met during his diplomatic mission to Constanti-
nople), asking him to persuade the shah to make peace with the Romans (Proc. Anecd. 2.3236).
She did not succeed, but her involvement is notable. Further evidence of her activity in foreign af-
fairs is the episode of the Christianization of the Nobadae, when the empress dispatched her own
Monophysite ambassador on a rival mission to the one sent by Justinian (Joh. Eph. HE 4.6; see:
III.3.2). The same Theodora may have participated at least, or have been at the origin, of a plot to
assassinate Amalasuintha (Proc. Anecd. 16.3; BG 1.4.30; see: I.3.2.2; Lee, Abduction 10f.)
See Evans, Theodora, chapter 6 Theodora and Foreign Policy, 5966. Diplomatic gifts may
have been sent on behalf of the emperor and the empress, as noted by John Malalas about gifts to
the Persians from Justinian and Theodora (Joh. Mal. 18.61.15; see: IV.1.2). See Evans, Theodora
6366.
11
PLRE-IIIA, 1179f., s.v. Aelia Sophia 1. She took an active part in government when her husband
Justin II was mentally ill.
1. State structures 25

1.2 Senate
The role of the senate in Late Roman diplomacy is considered to have been minimal, which
correlates with the general devaluation of its importance as an effective council of state as
its role became more ceremonial throughout Late Antiquity.12 However, some diplomatic
activity and involvement of the senate in discussing and decisions of international matters
is evident. In some cases decisions were taken by the emperor in cooperation with the sen-
ate (e.g. Malch. 15.1014; 17.2.711; Proc. BG 4.25; Theoph. Sim. 4.13.314.1). Priscus pro-
vides evidence of the episode when the envoy for the mission to the Huns was selected by
the senate and then ratified by the emperor (Prisc. 2.1618).
The cases when the senate participated in diplomatic activities seem to have fully de-
pended on the emperors will. Procopius characterizes the senates role in the times of Jus-
tinian as minimal and purely decorative (Proc. Anecd. 14.7sq.). The cases under Justinian
when the senate participated in political decisions on the problems of foreign policy seem
to have been mostly formal acts of approval.13 According to L. Brhier and D. A. Mill-
er, in the 5th and 6th centuries, especially after the death of Justinian, there was a great in-
crease in the role of the senate: this body gained perceptible influence in matters of foreign
policy and was more than a consultative organ.14 D. A. Miller provides references to cas-
es of significant participation by the senate in discussions and its contribution to decision-
making on the problems of diplomacy.15
One of the aspects that can be named was a tendency for a growing number of senators
to act as ambassadors,16 but this argument cannot be used to seriously characterize the role
of the senate as an institution, as the senate was formed of retired civil servants17 and am-
bassadorial business required a high status and position, a condition which was met by the
senators.
It was probably the principal position of the consistorium in the process of receiving em-
bassies that limited the senates involvement. Perhaps there was some fluctuation in the
roles of the official bodies of advisors,18 the senate and the consistory in their involve-
ment in diplomatic affairs. Important influence by the senate in making principal decisions
in diplomacy seems to have been limited and rare.

1.3 Consistorium
This council of state, especially at the time when it was most active and efficient, in the 4th
century,19 debated matters of foreign policy. Official receptions of embassies and diplo-
mats communication with the emperor took place in the consistorium (de cer. 1.89),20

12
Jones,Later Roman Empire I, 329.
13 Miller, Studies 140.
14
Brhier, Institutions 11949,181f.; Miller, Studies 138f.
15
Miller, Studies 139141.
16 See: III.1.1; Miller, Studies 138f.
17
Miller, Studies 139.
18
Jones,Later Roman Empire I, 329.
19 Jones,Later Roman Empire I, 334.
20
Jones,Later Roman Empire I, 334f.; Delmaire, Institutions 37f.; Boak, Master 92. In summer
the hall of the so-called big consistorium was used, and in winter the small one (Guilland, tudes
topographique 57).
26 I. Mechanisms of diplomacy

which is why, perhaps, the officials of the consistorium notarii and silentiarii participated
in the reception and escorting of embassies (de cer. 1.89 [399.4; 402.8]).21 It was the job of
the silentiarii to accompany the envoys to the second reception with the emperor (de cer.
1.90 [408.10]), they transmitted the gifts received from ambassador and gave them to the
sacravestis (office of comes sacrarum largitionum) (de cer. 1.89 [407.6]; Coripp. Iust. 3.255
259)22 and carried letters. Belonging to the highest elite and very close to the emperor, they
could have realized some of the emperors concrete ideas in diplomacy. They seem to dupli-
cate and control the functions of the cursus publicus, admissionales in the diplomatic
sphere, and perhaps also duplicated some functions of the agentes in rebus (which were sub-
ject to the master of offices). According to A. H. M. Jones, by the 6th century the consisto-
rium itself had become as ceremonial a body as the senate: it merely ceremonially received
foreign envoys while the real negotiations were held elsewhere.23

1.4 Sacrum cubiculum


The sacrum cubiculum24 was also involved in diplomacy.25 After the citatio one decurio ac-
companied the candidati armati from the small consistorium and lined them up in the big
consistorium. He gave an order to the left (de cer. 1.89 [406.1; 406.5; 407.20]) and then
brought them back to the small consistorium (de cer. 1.89 [407.20]).26 Another decurio
transmitted greetings to the Persian embassy and a welcome to Chalcedon (de cer. 1.89
[403.15]) and invited, upon order from the emperor, the envoy to the first reception in
Constantinople (de cer. 1.89 [403.19]). The role of the sacrum cubiculum in diplomacy is
rather vague and uncertain. First: they provided security and were guards to the emperor
during the receptions, second: they transmitted the emperors invitations. On the one hand,
it seems that they only carried out a few additional functions. On the other hand, we are
also aware of the main eunuchs role in the plot against Attila,27 so it may be presumed that
an important part of diplomacy, perhaps mostly clandestine, belonged to the sphere of the
cubiculum.28

1.5 The magister officiorum and his personnel


The general practical direction, realization and control of foreign policy are considered to
have belonged to the master of officers, who during the later 5th and the 6th centuries played
a significant role in diplomacy.29 This office was introduced by Constantine the Great. Rep-
resentatives of foreign countries were under the care of the master of offices from the time
they crossed the border of the empire. It was his responsibility to provide delegations with

21
Here and hereafter, in brackets I refer to the Reiske edition: Constantini Porphyrogeniti [Reis-
ke].
22
See: IV.1; Whitby, Omission 478483.
23
Jones,Later Roman Empire I, 337f.
24 See about this structure with a list of the literature: Delmaire, Institutions 49160.
25
B. Kbler, Decurio, in: RE 4, 1901, 23192352.
26
Helm, Untersuchungen 425f.
27 See: I.3.2.2.
28
Some of the eunuchs may have sometimes been quite powerful and played a large role in policy:
Jones, Later Roman Empire I, 341.
29 Jones,Later Roman Empire I, 368f.; Haldon, Economy and Administration 4143.
1. State structures 27

an escort, to receive and entertain them, to introduce them to the emperor, to give them
suitable presents and to provide them with safe conduct upon their departure.30
The master of offices was also a permanent member of the consistorium31 and directed
meetings there,32 which also provided him with influence over the emperor.
He is sometimes called a minister for foreign affairs and was also personally much con-
cerned with negotiations and treaties (Prisc. 11.1.6164).33 In analysing the evolution of the
character of diplomacy and ambassadorial affairs throughout the period of Late Antiquity,
A. D. Lee notes an evident change and shift in the emperors role, as in the 5th and 6th cen-
turies he tended to be less personally involved in activity on the frontiers and negoti-
ations.34 This evolution must have led to an increase in the officials role of mediating in
diplomacy. An investigation into the personnel of the magistri and the ambassadors (who
seem to have become more professional)35 in this period leads A. D. Lee to the conclusion
that there was an increasing recognition of the need for greater attention to the conduct of
foreign relations and a more organized approach to the empires relations with neighbor-
hood peoples, which in many aspects was due to the fact that the magister officiorum had
become more closely involved in foreign relations.36
The officium of master of offices included personnel37 with different diplomatic duties:38
The adiutor39 accompanied the ambassadors to the palace (de cer. 1.87 [394.4]);40 one of
the subadiuvae adiutoris41 brought the invitation (de cer. 1.89 [403.18]).42 These officials
were appointed and chosen by the master of offices himself. They were appointed each year
(by the superior agentes in rebus), so they could hardly have a serious influence on the dip-
lomatic process, as they did not have enough time to enter into matters deeply, unless spe-
cially desired by the magister officiorum. The adiutor himself, also an agens in rebus in his
past, may also have been changed annually.
The subadiuvae barbarorum and the scrinium barbarorum (formed in the 5th century)
controlled the movements of foreign envoys in Roman territory on their way through Ro-
man dioceses (thus controlling the territory according to their administrative division) and
in the capital;43 acted as mediators and assisted the imperial envoys travelling abroad while

30
Boak, Master 93; see about the master of offices role in the foreign embassy reception process
Clauss, Magister 6467.
31 Helm, Untersuchungen 422.
32
Delmaire, Institutions 91.
33
Jones,Later Roman Empire I, 368f.
34 See: II.1.
35
See: III.1.3.
36
Lee, Information 4248.
37 Giardina, Aspetti, 5963.
38
Boak, Master 9496.
39
Adiutor (Not. Dig. Or. 11.41; Occ. 9.41).
40 Helm, Untersuchungen 425.
41
Subadiuvae adiutoris (Not. Dig. Occ. 9.41). In Eastern part: two of the adiutores (Not. Dig. Or.
11.43), three on fabrics (Not. Dig. Or. 11.44; Occ. 9.43), four barbariorum (Not. Dig. Or. 11.4549).
One for each of the dioceses of: Oriens, Asiana, Pontica and the European part of Thracia and Il-
lyricum.
42
Helm, Untersuchungen 425; Boak, Master 102.
43 See: I.2.1; Boak, Master 103; Clauss, Magister 64.
28 I. Mechanisms of diplomacy

they were in the territory of the empire;44 and were concerned with the disbursement of
funds.45 It was the scrinium barbarorum which preserved the accounts of the expenditures
made for the conveyance of a Persian legate and his suite from the eastern frontier to Con-
stantinople (de cer. 1.89 [400]).46
The head of the scrinium barbarorum, who was called the optio barbarorum, gave the
Persian ambassador a sum of money for his stay on his arrival in Chalcedon (de cer. 1.89
[401.6; 402.13]).47
The chartularii barbarorum were responsible for protocol, registration,48 handling the
paperwork involved in overseeing the affairs of foreigners,49 they accompanied envoys on
the way from the schola of the magister to the anteconsistorium together with the admissio-
nalis and interpretes, they transmitted a citatio to the admissionalis and read it to the em-
peror in the cubiculum before he entered the consistorium (de cer. 1.89 [404.15; 405.18]).50
Officers barbarorum were perhaps responsible for some organizational matters concerning
receiving a foreign delegation, but they could hardly have had important influence over the
really significant diplomatic problems, as they were involved in the attendant formalities.
Besides these heads of the departments there were a number (perhaps a large number) of
subordinate employees in every department. Their presence is evident but the numbers are
not clear because there is no source for this office like we have for the comes sacrarum largi-
tionum (CJ 12.23.7).
The officers of the cursus publicus51 were responsible for the transportation of the for-
eign missions in the territory of the empire.52
The interpretes were responsible for translation.53 Formally the interpreters were only
auxiliary figures, and only responsible for translation, but one may suppose their deeper
involvement in the diplomatic process, as translation always implies some interpretation
and in many cases they could appear the only persons in the delegation to have direct com-
munication with the receiving side. As noted by Miller: There seems to be no evidence
that formal training in foreign languages was available for persons in the diplomatic bu-
reau, which probably was not necessary.54 D. A. Miller distinguishes three possible
sources of linguists: bilingual citizens of various nationalities; merchants and frontiers-
men; immigrants and allies.55 It is important to perceive that most likely interpreters were
very often natives of the peoples whose language they translated or were half-blooded bar-
barians, so they could hardly participate in elaborating general strategic plans, but their in-

44
Delmaire, Institutions 83; Boak, Master 95.
45 Miller, Studies 2.
46
Boak, Master 103; Clauss, Magister 65.
47
Helm, Untersuchungen 423; Boak, Master 103.
48 Clauss, Magister 65.
49
Miller, Studies 12.
50
Helm, Untersuchungen 423; Boak, Master 103.
51 The curiosus cursus publici praesentalis (Not. Dig. Or. 11.50; Occ. 9.44) and curiosi per omnes pro-
vincias (Not. Dig. Or. 11.51; Occ. 9.45); interpretes diversarum gentium (Not. Dig. Or. 11.52; Occ.
9.46).
52 See: III.3.2; Helm, Untersuchungen 423; A. Kolb, Cursus publicus, in: NP 3, 2003, 1022f.
53
See: III.2.3; Helm, Untersuchungen 424, note 7 with the list of mentions of actual interpreters.
54
Miller, Studies 19.
55 Miller, Studies 1921.
1. State structures 29

fluence in concrete cases could have been rather great (we are aware of some cases when in-
terpreters acted as ambassadors;56 a significant example here is the case of the interpreter
Vigilas who was the key figure in the plot against Attila).57
Besides the officium of master of offices, an important role in diplomatic relations be-
longed to the underlying officium admissionum (Not. Dig. Or. 11.17; Occ. 9.14). He was re-
sponsible for admissions, receptions and audiences in the consistorium (Prisc. 11.1.61
64).58 The proximus admissionum or one of the admissionales, depending on the rank of the
embassy (de cer. 1.87. [394.1]), accompanied envoys from their dwelling to the palace or
from the schola of the master to the anteconsistorium and the consistorium (de cer. 1.89
[405.6]).59 One of the admissionales transmitted the master of offices order of entry to the
standard-bearer during the reception (de cer. 1.89 [404.3]). These officials functions seem
to have been similar to a heralds they were responsible for the ceremonial side of receiv-
ing embassies, assisting the master of offices,60 and, most likely, they accompanied the mis-
sions, gave them directions and made sure that the protocol worked correctly. So, this of-
fices main task must have been to maintain the ritual; their influence over diplomacy strat-
egy was limited only to ceremonial aspects.
Some other officials under the master of offices also took part in the diplomatic process.
Scholarii (Not. Dig. Or. 11.411; Occ. 9.49) of a higher rank, i.e. candidati, stood in the
guard of honour, headed by one decurio from the sacrum cubiculum, besides the emperor
during the reception in the consistorium (de cer. 1.89 [406.4]).61 Some agentes in rebus
(Not. Dig. Or. 11.11; Occ. 9.9)62 accompanied embassies on their way to the capital63 and
brought letters. Details about the agentes in rebus role remain unclear.64 Some mensores
(Not. Dig. Or. 11.12; metatores)65 could have been responsible for logging embassies during
their journey (metata) according to the norms of hospitium.66 Evidently their role in
grand-scale diplomacy was additional and auxiliary.

1.6 Other administrative structures


Officials from some other administrative structures (not those of the master of offices) were
also involved in the diplomacy-making process, as well as in assisting and maintaining em-
bassies.
The rank and position of the quaestor sacri palatii, the post was created by Constantine
the Great, was among the highest in the imperial civil hierarchy. He was a spokesman for

56
See evidence and reasoning on the problem: Miller, Studies 24f.
57
See: III.2.3.
58 Jones,Later Roman Empire 1, 368f.
59
Helm, Untersuchungen 423f; Boak, Master 92.
60
About this office: Boak, Master 66.
61 O. Seeck, Candidatus, in: RE 3, 1899, 1468f.
62
See about them Clauss, Magister 2732.
63
Clauss, Magister 63.
64 Boak, Master 7173.
65
Boak, Master 81.
66
Boak, Master 19f. Helm does not mention mensores as participants in the diplomatic process
(Helm, Untersuchungen 422426).

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