For me, that came mercifully early on in my career as a young graduate student. I had spent two days looking at a document that I had quickly concluded was unbelievably dull: a typikon (or a foundation grant) establishing a monastery in Bulgaria in the early 1080s. The monastery was founded by Gregory Pakourianos, a leading Byzantine general who was one of the most senior figures in the empire at the time.
Monks at the monastery at Bachkovo, near Philippopolis (modern Plovdiv) shall be forbidden to have any food in their own cells: eating and drinking in secret is despicable and the work of the devil. That is Gregory's voice. I am totally opposed to any choice of food or drink at meal time. That is him too. Who knows why he had formed these views - perhaps he had been brought up by stern parents (the fact that he talks elsewhere of how lucky he was to grow up eating 'all kinds of fruit and vegetables which we valued dearly since childhood' hints that he was grateful for his daily bread and had good table manners).
Then back to the voices of the lawyers, covering point after point in generic, turgid Greek to set out what happened when the head abbot died, who was responsible for what and going into the sort of detail that forces you to stare out of the window until you suddenly think of something you want to add.
They formed the basis of the first scholarly article I ever published. One of those things you always remember, in other words. I
The 'hegoumenos' (Bul: 'Igumen') or chief abbot of the monastery had been removed from his position.
He could point too at the fact that Gregory had specificially commanded that the head of the monastery should 'show his love in equal measure both to young and to old.' And as for the wine, well, Gregory had never said quality was the problem: he had simply insisted that there should be no choice. So what if Chateau Lafitte was on the table, in other words; just so long as there was no Puligny-Montrachet there too.
You can almost hear the 11th century lawyers laughing to themselves now. 70 pages, they'd be saying, is not long enough if you want to be really clear about your intentions. Gregory should have let them