Procopius’s new Lessons to teach the history and teachings of Procopius and the lost education for this generation.
About Procopius of Caesarea
Procopius was born in Caesarea in Palestine late in the fifth century and died before AD 562. He is known as one of the greatest later Greek historians. He became a lawyer, and in AD 527, he was made legal adviser and secretary of Belisarius, commander against the Persians, and went with Belisarius again in AD 533 against the Vandals and in AD 535 against the Ostrogoths. After AD 541, or AD 540, Procopius returned to Constantinople. He might have attended Belisarius again when Belisarius and Narses campaigned against Tutila in Italy.
Career and Contributions
His History Of The Wars in 8 books recounts the Persian Wars of emperors Justinus and Justinian down to AD 550 (2 books); the Vandalic War and after events in Africa AD532-546 (2 books); the Gothic War against the Ostrogoths in Sicily and Italy AD 536-552 (3 books); and a sketch of events to AD 554 (1book). The whole consists mostly of military history, with a lot of information about people and places and special events.
Procopius was a diligent, careful, judicious narrator of the facts and developments and showed good powers of description. He is just to the Empire’s enemies and boldly criticizes Justinian. Procopius’s education included all the greatest Greek historians, geographers, poets, and orators. An interesting aspect of Procopius is his personal and official familiarity with the people, the places, and the events he writes about. His account of “Justinian’s Buildings” (peri ktismaton) was completed in A.D. 558 or 559. He is thought to have written it either by Imperial command or to deflect suspicions of disaffection.
The third of his books, the “Anecdota”, which Suidas characterizes as “a satirical attack on Justinian”, is most commonly known by the title of “Arcana Historia” (The Secret History). It supplements the other history, tracing events to AD 558-9. Procopius reveals his hatred of Justinian, Theodora, and even Belisarius and his wife in this book. It is a bitter attack against all the Byzantine Church and State powers.
Controversies and Interpretations
Procopius’ “The Secret History,” found centuries after his death, differs greatly from his previous writings. He calls Justinian and Theodora “morally corrupt and ruthless rulers” in this blistering indictment. Questions regarding his true intentions are prompted by the discrepancy between his public and private accounts. Due to the potentially controversial nature of Procopius’ criticisms, several experts believe he may have authored this book undercover.
Legacy and Influence
The works of Procopius have been crucial in developing our knowledge of the Byzantine Empire. His vivid accounts of conflict, political intrigue, and architectural marvels have inspired generations of researchers. In addition, his depiction of Justinian’s rule provides a unique window into the complexity of power and the human condition at a period of profound change.
Procopius of Caesarea has made invaluable contributions to the historical record. His writings have been crucial in putting together the fragmentary history of the Byzantine Empire. His status as a chronicler and commentator has not been lessened by the controversy and contradictory accounts that continue to fascinate academics. Procopius’s skill in evoking the spirit of his era continues to reverberate with historians and fans today, providing a window into the past and a richer knowledge of its previous inhabitants.