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Medieval Sourcebook:
Procopius: from History of the Wars On Racing Factions


The population in every city has for a long been divided into two groups, the Greens and the Blues; but only recently, for the sake of these names and the places which they occupy while watching the games, have they come to spend their money, to abandon their bodies to the cruelest tortures, and to consider it a not unworthy thing to die a most disgraceful death. The members [of each faction] fight with their opponents not knowing for what reason they risk their lives, but realizing ful1 well that even when they vanquish their opponents in brawls, they will be carted off to prison and that, after they have suffered the most extreme tortures, they will be killed, Therefore, there arises in them an endless and unreasoning hatred against their fellow men, respecting neither marriage nor kinship nor bonds of friendship, even if those who support different colors might be brothers or some other kind of relatives. Neither human nor divine affairs matter to them compared to winning these [street] fights. When some impious act is committed by one of them against God, or when the laws and the state are injured by their comrades or opponents, or perhaps when they lack the necessities of life, or their country is suffering dire need, they ignore all this as long as events turn out well for their own "faction." For this is what they call the bands of rioters. Even women participate in this abomination, not only accompanying the men but, if the occasion arises, even opposing them, although the do not go to the public spectacles nor are they motivated by any other reason. Thus 1, for my part, consider [their actions] nothing else than a sickness of the soul. And this is how things are among the people of every city.

 

from Procopius, History of the Wars, Loeb Classical Library, (London: 1914), Vol 1, 218-220

 

 


This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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(c)Paul Halsall Mar 1996
halsall@murray.fordham.edu