Procopius

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Procopius

(prōkō`pēəs), d. 565?, Byzantine historian, b. Caesarea in Palestine. He accompanied BelisariusBelisarius
, c.505–565, Byzantine general under Justinian I. After helping to suppress (532) the dangerous Nika riot (see Blues and Greens), he defeated (533–34) the Vandals of Africa, and captured their king.
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 on his campaigns as his secretary, and later he commanded the imperial navy and served (562) as prefect of Constantinople. His education, high connections, and public offices give his histories great value as firsthand accounts. His chief works are generally known as Procopius' History of His Own Time, dealing mainly with the wars against the Goths, Vandals, and Persians, and as the Secret History of Procopius, which is largely a scandalous and often scurrilous court chronicle. His authorship of the Secret History has been questioned, but most scholars now agree that it is an authentic work of Procopius. He also wrote On Buildings, a work in six books describing buildings erected by Justinian throughout the empire. In his polished style Procopius imitated the historians of the Greek classical period. His descriptions of social and religious customs among the barbarians are very valuable, but his histories are marred by his violent personal prejudices, e.g., in favor of Belisarius and against Empress Theodora.

Bibliography

See study by J. A. S. Evans (1972) and A. Cameron (1985).

Procopius

 

Born between 490 and 507; died after 562. Byzantine writer and adviser to Belisarius; a member of the senatorial aristocracy.

Procopius took part in campaigns against the Persians, Vandals, and Ostrogoths. He glorified Justinian I in his semiofficial works Wars (eight books), completed in 553 and based on personal impressions, and On the Buildings (553–555), a description of construction during Justinian’s reign. However, he also wrote a short work, Secret History (c. 550), directed against the emperor and his wife, Theodora.

Thucydides was Procopius’ literary model, but the Secret History departed from objective exposition and made extensive use of hyperbole. Procopius’ works are an important source for the history of Byzantium and its neighboring states during the late fifth and the sixth century, as well as for the history of Slavic incursions into the Balkans.

WORKS

Opera omnia, vols. 1–4. Leipzig, 1962–64.
In Russian translation:
Voina s gotami. Introductory article by Z. V. Udal’tsova. Moscow, 1950.
“Tainaia istoriia.” Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1938, no. 4.
“O postroikakh.” Ibid., 1939, no.4.

REFERENCES

Udal’tsova, Z. V. “Mirovozzrenie Prokopiia Kesariiskogo.” In the collection Vizantiiskii vremennik, vol. 31. Moscow, 1971.
Rubin, B. “Prokopios von Kaisareia.” In Realencyclopädie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, vol. 23, fase. [45]. Stuttgart, 1957.
Gantar, K. “Der betrogene Justinian.” Byzantinische Zeitschrift, 1963, vol. 56, part I.

Procopius

?490--?562 ad, Byzantine historian, noted for his account of the wars of Justinian I against the Persians, Vandals, and Ostrogoths