Ὁ αὐτοκράτορας Θεόφιλος (829-842) στέλνει στὸ χαλιφάτο τὸν Ἰωάννη Σύγκελλο ὡς πρέσβη, κι αὐτὸς καταπλήσσει τοὺς Ἄραβες μὲ τὸν βυζαντινὸ πλοῦτο.
Ἀπὸ τὴ Συνέχεια τοῦ Θεοφάνη, Γ’, 9, γιὰ τὴν ὁποία περιμένουμε κάποτε κάποιος Νεοέλληνας νὰ κάνει μιὰ ἑλληνικὴ μετάφρασή της. Ἡ Ὑπομονὴ εἶναι ἀρετή. Ἡ ἀγγλικὴ εἶναι τῶν M. Featherstone – J. Signes Codoner.
Now since in accordance with ancient custom he [ὁ Θεόφιλος] desired to make his sovereignty manifest to the Hagarenes, whether to share with them his good cheer or rather to appear formidable to them, he chose as worthy for this service John, then Syncellus, who, as we have said, was formerly his teacher. For because he was full of political aptitude and remained faithful to Theophilus in his heresy and, moreover, was vigorous in disputation, the latter loved him and esteemed him above all others around him. He therefore dispatched him to the ruler of Syria, giving him many of the things for which the empire of the Romans is admired and whereby the race of foreigners is astounded, adding also a sum of gold exceeding four hundredweights. He sent the other things as gifts for the ameramnounes, but the gold was for John to distribute with munificence, for the sake of display and increase. For if the envoy could scatter the gold as he desired, as if it were sand, then he who dispatched him would be all the more marvelled at for his heaps of gold. On this same account, in addition to these things, Theophilus also gave him two vessels consisting of gold and precious stones which the common, vulgar tongue calls wash-basins, in every wise exalting and honouring his envoy. And when the latter arrived, he had hardly reached Bagdad before he shewed himself important, internally for his intelligence and fluent expression, and externally for the wealth and dignity which adorned him, and he granted no small sums to those who were dispatched to him and frequented him but rather great ones as befits only the emperor of the Romans. Because of this he was admired and his name was made thrilling. At first, no sooner had he approached the borders of the barbarians than he astonished everyone and, by his liberality with gifts and gold to those who came up to meet him with questions, merely enquiring how the emperor was, he made them marvel. Then, after he came to Ismael and stood in his presence, he reported the emperor’s words to him; and when he had made the report, he went off to his resting-place. But desirous as he was to promote yet further the affairs of the Romans, he shewed munificence to those who frequented him for whatever reason, be it important or not, filling a silver vessel with gold for each of them. Once, when he was dining with the barbarians he instructed those serving purposely to lose one of the two aforementioned hand-basins which had been brought into service. Now, when no inconsiderable murmur arose on account of the basin’s loss, and all the barbarians, struck in their souls by its beauty and majesty no less than by its magnificence, made an enquiry and search, moving every rope, as the saying goes, in order to bring to light that which had been stolen, then John commanded them to bring out the other basin, adding ‘Let this one be lost too!’ and thus causing the Saracens to marvel because he had stoppped the search. Whereupon the ameramnounes shewed munificence in return, wishing not to appear in second place, and he honoured him with many other gifts. But John was not won over by these latter and cast them like dust before him. The other granted also one hundred captives, taking them straightway from the prison and adorning them in seemly clothes, having removed the rags of their captivity. But John, though he greatly praised and acknowledged the generosity of the donor, in no wise accepted, saying that they should remain in ease and freedom at home until he could make compensation by adding more Saracen captives to these in order to receive ours in full. The Saracen was astonished by this, and he no longer held John as a foreigner but as one of his own, and he invited him continually and shewed him his treaures and the beauties of his abodes and his majestic state. And thus he manifestly honoured him until he dispatched him again with magnificence to Constantinople.