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Choricius of Gaza, Speeches 3.35-3.37


Following his teacher Procopius, Choricius was the leading figure of the rhetorical flowering at Late Antique Gaza. Although we know nothing of his career, his evident professional success, references within his writings, and his reputation for stylistic sophistication among Byzantine scholars all point to the status and influence of Choricius among classicizing intellectuals of the Near East during roughly the second quarter of the 6th century. He apparently had personal experience with Alexandria and Caesarea, but his teaching and lecturing was chiefly based in Gaza. Among his surviving works are declamations, laudatory and apologetic speeches, funeral oratory, and treatises. This passage comes from his encomium to Aratius, dux of Palaestina Prima, and Stephanus, ἄρχων, possibly delivered at Caesarea on the occasion of Stephanus’ accession to the proconsulship in 534/5 C.E. Choricius here praises Stephanus's crackdown on crime on the roads between Caesarea and neighboring settling, which not only facilitated safe travel but also improved commerce and relations generally.


(35) … δευτέρα δέ σου κηρύττεται πρᾶξις ἐκ τῆς Καισαρέων ἅμα καὶ τῶν ἐκείνης ὁμόρων. τὰς γὰρ ἐν μέσῳ τῶν πόλεων κακούργων ἐνέδραις ἐπισφαλεῖς λεωφόρους, αἷς οὐδὲ στρατιώτης ἀνὴρ ἐχρῆτο θαρρῶν, νυνὶ καὶ παιδίον ἀκινδύνως πορεύεται, κἂν ἤδη ληγούσης ἀκτῖνος ἀνὴρ ὁδοιπόρος ἐξ ἑτέρας τῶν πόλεων ἐπὶ τὴν ἑτέραν ἰὼν μεταξύ που καθεύδῃ χρυσὸν ἐπιφέρων, ἄσυλον αὐτῷ τὸ χρυσίον ἐν ἐρημίᾳ καὶ νυκτὶ καὶ ὕπνῳ τῆς τοῦ κέρδους ἐπιθυμίας τῷ φόβῳ παραχωρούσης. (36) τέως δὲ τῶν ὁδῶν κεκλειμένων λῃστρικαῖς ἐπηρείαις τὸ τῶν ἐπιμιξιῶν ἡδύ τε καὶ χρήσιμον τὰς πόλεις ἐξέλειπεν· ἡδὺ μὲν γὰρ ἐκδημοῦντας ἱστορῆσαι γείτονα πόλιν, ἡδὺ δὲ τὴν ἐπιθυμίαν ἐμπλήσαντας πάλιν ἐπὶ τὴν οἰκείαν ἰέναι· τό γε μὴν κερδαλέον καὶ λυσιτελὲς οὐδὲ τὸν λίαν ἀπράγμονα καὶ διὰ παντὸς οἰκουροῦντα λανθάνει. (37) καὶ γὰρ πλείονα πεῖραν πραγμάτων καὶ τριβὴν ὀξυτέραν καὶ τὸ ῥᾳδίως ὅτου δέοιντο πορίζεσθαι τῶν πόλεων αἱ πρὸς ἀλλήλας ἐπιμιξίαι χαρίζονται. ἑκάστη γὰρ τὸ μὲν αὐτὴ κέκτηται, τὸ δὲ παρ’ ἑτέρας λαμβάνει τάχα τῆς φύσεως ἐξεπίτηδες τοῦτο μηχανωμένης, ἵνα πρόφασις εἴη φιλίας ταῖς πόλεσιν ἡ πρὸς ἀλλήλας τῶν ἐπιτηδείων ἀντίδοσις.1

Textual Note

Ed. Foerster and Richsteig 1929


(35) … A second deed of yours (Stephanos) is announced from the city of Caesarea and its neighbors. For the roads between cities, which were unsafe due to ambushes by bad men and which even an armed man would not dare to use, now even a child may travel without any danger. And even if, when the sun has already set, a traveler going from one city to another and carrying gold falls asleep somewhere in between, his gold will remain intact, even though he would be alone and asleep at night, because the desire for profit has given way to fear. (36) At the time when the roads were closed because of assaults by robbers, the pleasant and useful commerce between cities disappeared; for it is pleasant for travelers to explore a neighboring city, and it is also pleasant for them to return satistfied to their home city. To be sure, this beneficial and profitable experience does not escape even the most inactive person who has been completely housebound. (37) It is the case that interstate commerce freely grants to each city a greater engagement in affairs, more focused business, and ready provision for the needs of each. For on the one hand, each city has it possessions, but at the same time it easily receives (goods) from other cities, as if nature had deliberately contrived that the mutual exchange of necessities might be a justification for friendly relations between cities.2

Translation Note

Adapted from Litsas 1980

Works Cited

  • 1 Choricius of Gaza, Choricii Gazaei opera, ed. Eberhard Richtsteig and Richard Foerster, Bibliotheca scriptorum graecorum et latinorum Teubneriana (Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1929), section: 3.35-3.37, p: 58.8-59.5.Link to Zotero Bibliographic RecordLink to HathiTrust Bibliographic record
  • 2 Choricius of Gaza and Fotios K. Litsas, Choricius of Gaza: An Approach to His Work. Introduction, Translation, Commentary (Ph.D., Chicago, University of Chicago, 1980), p: 164-165.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record

Additional Bibliography

  • Robert J. Penella, Introduction, in Rhetorical Exercises from Late Antiquity: A Translation of Choricius of Gaza’s Preliminary Talks and Declamations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Pres, 2009), xii + 323 ppLink to Zotero Bibliographic RecordLink to Worldcat Bibliographic record


How to Cite This Entry

Joseph L. Rife, “Choricius of Gaza, Speeches 3.35-3.37,” in Caesarea Maritima: A Collection of Testimonia, entry published January 20, 2023,


Joseph L. Rife, “Choricius of Gaza, Speeches 3.35-3.37.” In Caesarea Maritima: A Collection of Testimonia, edited by Joseph L. Rife., edited by Joseph L. Rife. Caesarea City and Port Exploration Project, 2023. Entry published January 20, 2023.

About this Entry

Entry Title: Choricius of Gaza, Speeches 3.35-3.37

Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:

  • Joseph L. Rife, general editor, Vanderbilt University
  • Joseph L. Rife, editor, Caesarea Maritima: A Collection of Testimonia
  • David A. Michelson, Daniel L. Schwartz, and William L. Potter, technical editor, “Choricius of Gaza, Speeches 3.35-3.37
  • Joseph L. Rife, entry contributor, “Choricius of Gaza, Speeches 3.35-3.37

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