The stream of Time, irresistible, ever moving, carries off and bears away all things that come to birth and plunges them into utter darkness, both deeds of no account and deeds which are mighty and worthy of commemoration; as the playwright [Sophocles] says, it 'brings to light that which was unseen and shrouds from us that which was manifest.' Nevertheless, the science of History is a great bulwark against this stream of Time; in a way it checks this irresistible flood, it holds in a tight grasp whatever it can seize floating on the surface and will not allow it to slip away into the depths of Oblivion..I, having realized the effects wrought by Time, desire now by means of my writings to give an account of my father's deeds, which do not deserve to be consigned to Forgetfulness nor to be swept away on the flood of Time into an ocean of Non-Remembrance; I wish to recall everything..
Even now I cannot believe that I am still alive and writing this account of the emperor's death. I put my hands to my eyes, wondering if what I am relating here is not all a dream - or maybe it is not a dream: perhaps it is a delusion and I am mad, the victim of some extraordinary and monstrous hallucination. How comes it that when he is dead I am still numbered among the living?
It is extraordinary that nobody nowadays under the stress of great troubles is turned into stone or a bird or a tree or some inanimate object; they used to undergo such metamorphoses in ancient times (or so they say), though whether that is myth or a true story I know not. Maybe it would be better to change one's nature into something that lacks all feeling, rather than be so sensitive to evil. Had that been possible, these calamities would in all probability have turned me to stone.