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In this introductory chapter, Attaleiates steps in the scene in medias res as a fully formed judge in the midst of high drama on the battlefield of Mantzikert. This abrupt introduction activates central tensions that mark our protagonist’s life. On the one hand, we gaze upon a civilian career linked to intensive service in the empire’s armies, while on the other we think of the Constantinopolitan judge serving on the mule tracks and Roman highways of eleventh-century Anatolia. These tensions lie at the center of this book, which follows the Constantinopolitan life of a provincial and the provincial service of a newly minted man of the capital. It also allows for the unspooling of the book’s central theme, namely the role of civilian officials servicing the emperor, by managing the affairs of the Medieval Roman polity we have come to know as Byzantium.