The method of attack is the simple one of recounting anecdotes, and it is this plan which has caused the title of Chroniques Scandaleuses to be applied to this book so often. Antonina is the first target for attack and her humble origin is recounted and her disgraceful relations with her adopted son Theodosius are set forth with unblushing frankness. In this affair Belisarius cuts a sorry figure, as he does in the following tirade against his conduct in the field. He is accused of being weak and mercenary in his conduct of operations against hostile armies, being under the dominance of the demoniac spell cast over him by his energetic spouse.

The procedure is similar with the imperial pair. Theodora is first defamed by the vilest slanders touching her private life before her marriage to Justinian and their elevation to the throne. The unedifying picture omits no detail of depravity which can be imagined as possible for the most shameless of women, and the author succeeds only in discrediting his own testimony, which he seems to offer in full confidence, but which falls to the ground through the weight of its own extravagance.

Mention may also be made of an incident which is recorded both in the Secret History and in the Buildings — the establishment of a home on the Bosporus for fallen women. In the first case the establishment of this home is described as a tyrannical, and futile, act of Theodora, while in the Buildings it is praised as the wise act of a sovereign mindful only of the welfare of her subjects.

Written with passion and personal malice, the Secret History of Procopius is a scathing indictment of the emperor Justinian and his sixth-century Byzantine court. Never has there been a more calculated attempt to ruin an entire reign in the eyes of posterity. Procopius writes of:
. . How the Great General Belisarius was hoodwinked by his wife, whose lover became a monk.
. . How Theodora, most depraved of all empresses, won Justinian's love.
. . How she saved five hundred harlots from a life of sin, made off with her own natural son, and other curious incidents of her passion.

". . a first-rate job. . the translation is not only lucid, but wholly engaging and compelling."
—Dudley Fitts

"The outstanding example of vituperative literature that has come to us from all antiquity."
—Arthur E. R. Boak

The method of attack is the simple one of recounting anecdotes, and it is this plan which has caused the title of Chroniques Scandaleuses to be applied to this book so often. Antonina is the first target for attack and her humble origin is recounted and her disgraceful relations with her adopted son Theodosius are set forth with unblushing frankness. In this affair Belisarius cuts a sorry figure, as he does in the following tirade against his conduct in the field. He is accused of being weak and mercenary in his conduct of operations against hostile armies, being under the dominance of the demoniac spell cast over him by his energetic spouse.

The procedure is similar with the imperial pair. Theodora is first defamed by the vilest slanders touching her private life before her marriage to Justinian and their elevation to the throne. The unedifying picture omits no detail of depravity which can be imagined as possible for the most shameless of women, and the author succeeds only in discrediting his own testimony, which he seems to offer in full confidence, but which falls to the ground through the weight of its own extravagance.

Mention may also be made of an incident which is recorded both in the Secret History and in the Buildings — the establishment of a home on the Bosporus for fallen women. In the first case the establishment of this home is described as a tyrannical, and futile, act of Theodora, while in the Buildings it is praised as the wise act of a sovereign mindful only of the welfare of her subjects.

Internet History Sourcebooks Project


Procopius | Byzantine historian | Britannica.com

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