In the Byzantine Empire, there were two paths to fame, fortune, and influence. The first of the these was the military. The second was the civil service – the bureaucracy. Competition for posts was fierce, and individuals employed nearly every tool at their disposal to gain a coveted position. This usually involved family or personal influence, the recommendation of a higher ranking patron, and, of course, bribery.
By the fifth century, bribery had become so common that the emperor, Theodosius II, had it regularized and regulated by law.