The Byzantine Office of Barbarian Affairs refers to the agency the Byzantines had to spy and deal with foreign affairs. I've seen this information across many sources (Wikipedia and blogs) but I can't find a reliable source on any other databases (Jstor, Ebsco). Where did this information come from? How did people find out about it? Any help would be great. I went to the primary source referenced on the Wikipedia page (Notitia) and couldn't find it.

Links: diplomacy.edu, Wikipedia: Bureau of Barbarians


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Notitia Dignitatum has it mentioned under Pars Secunda. In partibus Orientis. XI. Insignia viri illustris magistri officiorum:

Sub dispositione viri illustris magistri officiorum:
scola agentum in rebus et deputati eiusdem scolae.
Officium autem suprascripti viri illustris magistri officiorum de scola agentum in rebus est ita:
Barbaricariorum quatuor:
Orientis unus.
Asianae unus.
Ponticae unus.
Thraciarum et Illyrici unus.

Under the rule of the distinguished Master of the Offices:
The agent corps and those deputised to the same corps.
And the office of the agent corps of the above-mentioned man, the illustrious Master of the Offices, is thus:
For the Barbarians four:
One for Oriens.
One for Asiana.
One for Pontica.
One for Thrace and Illyricum.

This does not mention a dedicated Office of Barbarians, but the four officials are a prominent part of the office of the agentes in rebus. (The list names nine dedicated positions plus couriers "for all provinces" and "several interpreters".)

A scrinium barbarorum shows up in the Novel Theodosian Constitutions, in a law of the year 441, concerning attempts to increase the ranks of the scholae in undue ways:

Quam super his observandis poenam circa temeratores statutorum praemissa tua statuit celsitudo, ut quinque librarum auri qui de gradibus supradictis indebitum domesticatus accedit officium, decem librarum auri scrinium Barbarorum, si tale quid vel adtemptari passum fuerit vel adtemptatum contra legem non sugesserit, quinque etiam librarum auri v. s. Com. scolae si quid adversum hanc legem vel commiserit, vel committi concesserir, percellatur, firmam per istius quoque legis auctoritatem esse praecipimus.

Translation by Clyde Pharr, Theresa Sherrer Davidson, Mary Brown Pharr (eds.): The Theodosian Code and Novels, and the Sirmondian Constitutions

We direct that the provisions which Your Excelency has established for the enforcement of the above regulation, by providing a penalty against rash violators of the statutes, shall be valid through the authority of that law also, namely, if any person from the aforesaid grades of rank should enter upon the undue office of confidential adviser, he shall be smitten by a fine of five pounds of gold; the bureau of barbarians shall be smitten by a fine of ten pounds of gold if they should permit any such thing to be attempted or if they should not report anything that had been attempted contrary to the law; the Respectable count of the scholarians also shall be smitten with a fine of five pounds of gold if he should commit any action contrary to this law or if he should allow it to be committed.

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