The Success of Procopius

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Distefano 2

The Success of Procopius

Millie Distefano

Medieval Christendom and its Neighbors

Professor Barnhouse

February 8th, 2012

Among the works of the sixth-century author Procopius, one has stood out due to it's racy and unprecedented content that reveals the "truth" about life under the reign of Justinian of the Roman Empire. The Secret History, published long after Justinian's reign, portrays the Emperor Justinian, his wife Theodora, Belisarius, Antonina as well as the rest of society in ways not documented by any other historians. His bitter rendition of the tyrannical rule of Justinian and Theodora does not only reveal his honest opinion of them as cruel, vulgar, and "demon-like" humans, but also comments on the flaws in the rest of society - the inept political and military officials, the exploitive, manipulative women, as well as the ignorance among all people of the empire. He uses his own, intimate knowledge and experience to expose readers to the true corruption in Byzantium at a time that no other historian would speak up.

To successfully persuade the readers, he maintains a confident, forceful and strong-mind tone throughout the book.

Procopius begins the book with the story of Belisarius, a general of Byzantine, and his unfaithful wife, Antonina. Claiming that Antonina had a continuous affair with their adopted son, Theodosius, Procopius criticizes her adulterous and sneaky behavior. As Procopius' story goes, Antonina hid her actions from her husband until he caught her in the act. The ignorant and foolish side Belisarius is revealed when he chose to go against what he saw and believe his wife's lies. The affair not only made Belisarius seem extremely weak and dependent on his wife, but also portrayed him as an inept and unprofessional military leader. Procopius claims that Belisarius let his jealousy affect his military...