Isidore-of-Seville's Classical Library presents

Procopius, The Secret History
Richard Atwater (trans.), Tim Spalding (ed.), with user-submitted commentary.

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[19] How he seized all the wealth of the Romans and threw it away
How he seized all wealth I will next discuss: recalling first a vision which, at the beginning of Justinian's rule, was revealed to one of illustrious rank in a dream.

In this dream, he said, he seemed to be standing on the shore of the sea somewhere in Constantinople, across the water from Chalcedon, and saw Justinian there in midchannel. And first Justinian drank up all the water of the sea, so that he presently appeared to be standing on the mainland, there bring no longer any waves to break against it; then other water, heavy with filth and rubbish, roaring out of the subterranean sewers, proceeded to cover the land. And this, too, he drank, a second time drying up the bed of the channel. This is what the vision in the dream disclosed.

Now Justinian, when his uncle Justin came to the throne, found the state well provided with public funds. For Anastasius, who had been the most provident and economical of all monarchs, fearing (which indeed happened) that the inheritor of his Empire should find himself in need of money, would perhaps plunder his subjects, filled all the treasuries to their brim with gold before he completed his span of life. All of this Justinian immediately exhausted, between his senseless building program on the coast and his lavish presents to the barbarians; though one might have thought that it would take the most extravagant of Emperors a hundred years to disburse such wealth. For the treasurers and those in charge of the other imperial properties had been able, during Anastasius's rule of more than twenty-seven years over the Romans, easily to accumulate 3,200 gold centenaries; and of all these nothing at all was left, for it had been squandered by this man while Justin still lived; as I have already related.

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