The Secret History of Procopius, tr. by Richard Atwater, , at sacred-texts.com
I will now show what a liar and hypocrite he was. This Liberius, whom I recently mentioned, he removed from office and in his stead appointed John, an Egyptian, surnamed Laxarion. When Pelagius, a particular friend of Liberius's, heard of this, he asked the Emperor if the report about Laxarion's appointment were true. And he immediately denied it, assuring him he had done nothing of the sort; and gave him a letter to take to Liberius charging him to stick tight to his office and give it over to nobody, as he, Justinian, had not the slightest idea of removing him from it at this time.
Now John had an uncle in Constantinople named Eudemon, of consular rank and great wealth, who was at the time Count of the
imperial estates. This Eudemon, when he heard the rumor, also went to the Emperor to inquire if the office were really going to his nephew. And Justinian, in contradiction of what he had written to Liberius, now wrote a document to John, telling him to take over the office by all means, as his intentions were unchanged. John, trusting in this instruction, ordered Liberius to retire from his office as he had been officially removed. But Liberius, with equal confidence, of course, in the letter he had had from the Emperor, refused. So John went after Liberius with an armed guard, and Liberius with his own guard defended himself. During the fight many were killed, including John himself, the new Governor.
Now at Eudemon's instigation, Liberius was summoned to Constantinople; the Senate investigated the affair, and acquitted Liberius, since what he did had been in self-defense. The Emperor, however, did not let him off until he had privately paid him
a fine. This shows Justinian's love of truth and how he kept his word.
It might not be out of the way for me to tell a sequel of this incident. This Eudemon died a little later, leaving many relatives but no will of any kind. About the same time the chief eunuch of the palace, Euphrates, was released from life, leaving a nephew but no will disposing of his considerable property. The Emperor seized both estates, making himself the arbitrary heir, and did not give as much as a three-obol piece to the legal inheritors. Such was the respect for law and the kinsmen of his friends that this Emperor had. So, also, he seized the estate of Ireneus, who had died some time before, without any proper claim to it of any kind.
Another thing that happened at this time I must also not fail to tell. One Anatolius was foremost in the Senate of Ascalon. His daughter was married to a citizen of Caesarea by the name of Mamilian, of illustrious
family. This girl was Anatolius's legal heir, since she was his only child. Now there was an ancient law that when a Senator of any of the cities departed this world, leaving no male issue, one fourth of his estate should go to the Senate of his city, and all the rest to his heirs. Here again the tyrant had showed his true character. He made a new law reversing the rule, decreeing that when a Senator died without male issue, his heirs should get one fourth of his estate, and all the rest should go to the imperial treasury and the local Senate. Never in the memory of man had the treasury or the Emperor shared the estate of a Senator.
While this new law was in force, Anatolius reached the final day of his life. His daughter was about to divide her inheritance with the treasury and the city Senate according to the law, when she received letters from both the Emperor and the Ascalon Senate, dismissing all their claims
to the property, on the ground they had already all that was properly their just due.
Later Mamilian also died, Anatolius's son-in-law, leaving one daughter, who of course inherited his estate. While her mother was still living, this daughter too died, after marrying a man of distinction by whom she had no children, male or female. Justinian immediately seized the whole estate, on the remarkable ground that it would be an unholy thing for the daughter of Anatolius, an old woman, to become rich on the property of both her father and her husband. But that the woman might not be reduced to beggary, he ordered her to be given one gold stater a day so long as she lived: writing in the decree by which he robbed her of these properties that he was granting her this stater for the sake of religion, "for it is my custom to do what is holy and pious."
This will have to suffice, in order that my book may not be overfilled with such
anecdotes; and indeed, no one man could recall everything he did.
I will show how he cared nothing for even the Blues, who were devoted to him, when money was at stake. There was a Cilician named Malthanes, son-in-law of that Leo who was, as I have said, a Referendar. Justinian sent this Malthanes to restore order among the Cilicians. On this pretext Malthanes inflicted intolerable sufferings on most of his fellow citizens, and robbed them of their money, some of which he sent to the tyrant, enriching himself unjustly with the rest.
Now some bore their sufferings in silence; but those of the inhabitants of Tarsus who were Blues, trusting in the favor of the Empress, assembled in their Forum to insult Malthanes, who was not present. When Malthanes heard of this, he assembled a body of soldiers and arrived in Tarsus by night; and sending his soldiers into the private houses, ordered them to put the
inhabitants to death. Thinking this was an invasion by an enemy, the Blues defended themselves. And among other evils that took place in the darkness, it happened that Damian, a Senator, was killed by an arrow wound.
This Damian was president of the local Blues; and when the news came to Constantinople, the indignant Blues there made a great uproar throughout the city, and gathered in crowds to complain violently to the Emperor, while they uttered terrible threats against Leo and Malthanes. The Emperor pretended to be no less outraged at the affair, and immediately wrote to order an investigation and punishment of Malthanes by his citizens. But Leo gave him a large sum of money, so he stopped inquiry and his interest in the Blues.
With the affair thus unsettled, the Emperor received Malthanes at Constantinople with all favor and esteem. As he was leaving the imperial presence, the Blues, who
had been on the lookout for him, attacked him in the very palace and would have killed him, if some of their party, who had been bribed by Leo, had not stopped them. Who would not call that state most miserable, in which the Emperor accepts bribes to leave an inquiry unfinished, and in which factionists, while the Emperor is in the palace, dare to mutiny against one of their own magistrates and lift violent hands against him? However, no punishment for this was ever brought on either Malthanes or those who attacked him. And from this alone, if you pleased, you could prove the character of Justinian.