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Downey argued for a dating later than Whitby dates the Buildings to Evans , 43 also dates the work to Procopius characterizes the Buildings as a history transmitting the great achievements of Justinian I and states that the composition of the Buildings was the wish of the emperor Buildings 1. On the two recensions of the text, see Montinaro Dewing, G. Downey Procopius. Volume Seven.

Haury, G. Wirth Procopii Caesariensis opera omnia. Veh Prokopios: Werke. Four volumes. Cresci Procopio di Cesarea: Carte segrete. If not written at the command of Justinian as some have supposed , it is evidently grounded on official information and is a valuable source of information. The Secret History purports to be a supplement to the Wars , containing explanations and additions that the author could not insert into the latter work for fear of Justinian and Theodora. It is a vehement invective against these sovereigns , with attacks on Belisarius and his wife, Antonina, and on other noted officials.

In point of style, the Secret History is inferior to the Wars and has the air of being unfinished or at least unrevised. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. Start Your Free Trial Today. There is even what looks like a direct quotation of that kind of outdated Roman geographical tract, when he says, in a completely pointless aside, that among all these nations, which in ancient times dwelt on both sides of the Rhine, each people has its particular name, but the whole group was called, in common, Germans , which actually contradicts another notice 5.

Indeed, the whole picture comes from bookish Roman notions: when he says that Thule, "as far as men know at any rate", lies in the far north of the ocean, he is unconsciously identifying "men" with "Romans". So Procopius misapplied his moderate learning because of his tendency to think in grooves. However, all the most outrageous lies and oddities, whatever their origin, serve a Frankish purpose.

It is possible to imagine that Procopius may have failed to connect the Brittia of the Franks, with its three barbarian tribes, with the Britain of his literary sources, a Roman island ruled by a line of illegitimate sovereigns, tyranni , whom there is no reason to see as anything other than Roman.

But if he did, it was the Franks who confirmed him in the belief that they were two different lands; and they did so because, as they made it very clear, they regarded the island as their own happy hunting ground. The Franks, says Hermegisclus, "have achieved an enormous power"; can anyone doubt the source of this story? And even the huge power attributed to the English by the story - stratiotes , soldiers, by definition; the bravest in the known world; capable of mobilizing , formidable fighters, cross the sea, and not only defeat an enemy nation but scour its whole territory in pursuit of its king - ends up redounding to the Franks' advantage: they had a better claim to the alliance of the English, some of whose representatives travelled with them, than to that of any other tribe.

And while Procopius' mistakes arise from faulty connections - as the Franks are in Roman territory, their border has to be on the Rhine and Danube; as Brittia does not sound like Roman Britannia, it cannot be the same island - there is another class of errors in the story, featuring not so much faulty connections as deliberate, straight-faced illogic; and at least one of them is traced directly to the Franks.

They claim to be settling Britons, English and Frisians on their own territory so as to acquire influence in the island of Britain and bring under their control - how does the one follow from the other? Surely it is more likely that the massive settlement of islanders on the continent would give island powers a handle on Frankish affairs, than the reverse.

Procopius' View of the Byzantine Plague - Words | Bartleby

And a fallacy of the same order is embedded in the story of Hermegisclus: Hermegisclus wants his son to marry his Frankish stepmother - none other than the sister of mighty Theudebert - because a connection with the mightiest of his neighbours would strengthen his position. Unless we take Hermegisclus to be a moron, this is nonsense: such a marriage would tend to let the Franks even deeper into Varni affairs than they already are, and further reduce the freedom of manoeuvre of a small king facing an overmighty neighbour. The natural procedure in such cases is to make a marriage alliance with one of the next-strongest close neighbours; and that, in fact is what Radigis does - disregarding the romantic nonsense about jilted princesses taking great hosts to avenge their honour.

Unless we believe this highly improbable story, there is no reason to think anything but that he sent his step-mother home - probably to the great chagrin of Theudebert, who must have counted on her presence at court - and married his English intended, thus strengthening his position. The story of the jilted English maiden is not only romantic, it is - in its basic underlying political doctrine - illogical; and it is illogical in the same way as the description of the relationship between the Franks and the three tribes of Brittia , reversing the terms of political commonsense.

During Rule Of Emperor Justinian Of The Eastern Roman Empire,

In other words, they show a common style, which suggests that they were told by the same liar - shall we say, Theudebert's ambassador Secundinus? The fact that peeps from under the multi-coloured cover of the story is that Theudebert, not a weak or indecisive monarch, effectively did nothing. There is no suggestion whatever that he took any of the measures attributed to the English princess; he did not react to a major dynastic and political setback. The logic of things is that the English and the Varni are backing each other to gain extra manoeuvring space against - we will admit this - a genuinely overmighty and influential Frankish power with its hand in both their powers; and that they are succeeding in doing so.

But that is of no great importance within our research: what matters is to establish that the data in Procopius 8. The best that can be said is that it is interesting to see that the Franks - or a Frankified Roman such as Secundinus, as mendacious and as barbarous as his masters, and committed to Theudebert - envisage the English whom they must have known well enough as the kind of nation that could easily cross the sea in numbers and mount a formidable invasion of a continental kingdom, however small; and that as this sort of thing seemed likely to them, it may be that some such event actually happened.

He praises the heroine of this fable for going to war to avenge her virtue even when it was only a betrothal that was broken.

This corresponds more closely to Byzantine than to English or Frankish ideas; it was in the Eastern Empire, not among the island barbarians, that "the habit of attaching [compulsory] validity to betrothals" was "increasing" in the sixth, seventh and eighth centuries, which Evelyne Patlagean attributes to "oriental, perhaps Jewish influences". I myself sense in the episode an implicit but vehement reproach to Procopius' favourite targets, the depraved Emperess Theodora and her detestable friend Antonina: look, he says, what these barbarians will do to defend the virtue you palter with - even women will go to war for its sake!

But this is no reason to deny it happened. Gregory, who seems never to have heard of the Varni, is at his most vague and imprecise when dealing with Frankland's north-eastern frontier; his account of Theudebert's successful campaign against the Danes in Frisia History of the Franks 2.


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And if, as I guess, the collapse of the Varni marriage alliance had annoyed and perhaps mortified Theudebert, he would not be anxious to have it bruited abroad; hence the lengthy and fabulous excuse heard by Procopius, and hence, perhaps, why Gregory, who came a couple of generations later, never knew of it. Clearly, the Straits of Dover. The island which lies roughly in line with Spain is Ireland, as every mediaeval western geographer knew; and to place Brittia between two other great islands, Brettania and Thule Scandinavia strongly suggests that Ireland is what was meant.

But there is no way on God's green earth that Ireland could ever be held to be stades 75km or 45 miles, more or less from any continental coast; that can only apply to the western coasts of Britain along the Channel.

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It looks as though Procopius had confused two notices, one of which perhaps - the distance of "Britain" from Gaul - was given to him in good faith to describe the English Channel, while the other - the position of "Britain" north of Spain - can only have been a deliberate lie. The fact that he describes, in the same sentence, the Emperor of Constantinople with the same generic word for "sovereign king" - basileus - used for the three kings in Brittia that Theudebert claims as tributaries, shows what Theudebert was trying to achieve: to project himself as a king of kings equal with the mighty lord of the Romans.

Theudebert was the first barbarian king ever to impinge on the imperial Roman prerogative of minting golden coins. None of this would endear him to Procopius, who shared the general Roman mindset of his age, and the fact that he reports his claims at all is noteworthy. This would, of course, be a political novelty of the first importance to the Franks, but I doubt whether we can build so much on a single sentence which contradicts everything else the story says and may amount to a mere slip of the pen.

No denizen of the shores of the North Sea would describe the journey from Britain to the Continent as long and most difficult, and, wherever the frontier between Franks and Varni was, it was not on the Rhine.

Appendix B: The Italian Campaign of Justinian (Procopius)

On the other hand, underlying these flowers of Greek rhetoric there may well have been a comparison between the difficulty of crossing the sea and of crossing a river, in which case the border between the tribes - like that between Offa's continental Angles and the Myrgingas - would be on a river, perhaps the Weser. He actually wanted his son to marry his stepmother?

Whether or not the "fact" itself, as he regards it, has been performed, is irrelevant to the bride, and, more to the point, to her family, which was involved as a whole in the negotiations for her hand. Underlying all this is Theudebert's claim that both the Varni and the English are in some sense under Frankish suzerainty - see what resources we can call upon from our allied and tributary neighbours, let alone ourselves, if we want?

On the Roman side, Procopius' credulity is only excusable by the fact that he and his contemporaries were unhappily used to thinking of barbarians as enormous and overwhelming hordes; the thought of a swiftly assembled army of , would not seem so incredible to people who could read in their history books about Attila's hosts, and who were even then beginning to have to deal with a new and monstrous wave of Avaric and Slav interlopers.

Historians and the economy: Zosimus and Procopius on fifth and sixth century economic development

Think about it, lads The people who told Procopius this story must have been part of Frankish missions, and for once it is impossible to see the advantage to them of lying to the Greeks in that matter: and it follows that they probably believed the tales they told. Used with permission. Comments to: Fabio P.