PROCOPIUS’ MODEL OF AN IDEAL ROMAN RULER – AN EVALUTATION OF JUSTINIAN AND HIS DOINGS
The Byzantine Empire, 330-1453 – Section E
October 19, 2014
The Secret History is one of Procopius’s many works that helped him become of one of the most renowned scholars of all time. Written sometime during the sixth century but not actually published until 1653, The Secret History is one of the most valuable resources that provide information about the reign of Emperor Justinian. At the time of Justinian’s rule, Procopius was an advisor to the military commander Belisarius, and was eventually hired as Justinian’s biographer. While he constantly glorifies the emperor’s deeds in public documents, Procopius condemns Justinian and his wife Theodora behind closed doors, calling them a “pair of blood-thirsty demons of some sort.”1 Because Procopius never made the couple’s wrong doings a public affair during their reign, he could only denounce Justinian and Theodora in private while the rest of the empire celebrated their rule. As described in The Secret History, Justinian and Theodora are unfitting for Procopius’ model of ideal Roman rulers. Procopius indirectly sets his standards for an ideal Roman ruler by criticizing profuse amounts of Justinian’s deeds. In Procopius’ opinion, a Roman emperor should be characterized by traits that completely differ from those of Justinian and Theodora. One of Procopius’ biggest concerns with the emperor was the issue of thievery. Before Justinian reached the throne, his uncle, Justin ruled the empire. Through tax revenues, Justin had helped the state to achieve significant amounts of money that would be used to help advance the empire. However, upon Justinian’s ascension to the throne, these resources quickly dissipated as he put most of the empire’s earnings towards “constructions on shore which served no useful purpose, partly on friendship with the barbarians.”2 On the same note,...
Bibliography: Procopius. "Anatomy of a Regime." In The Secret History, 78. Penguin Classics.
Procopius. "Justinian and Theodora." In The Secret History, 28, 51. Penguin Classics.
Stewart, Michael Edward. "Two King of Kings? Procopius ' Presentation of Justinian and Kosrow
I - Medievalists.net." Academia.edu. June 1, 2014. Accessed October 19, 2014.
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