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History of the Wars, Books I and II
The Persian War

written by "Procopius"
...rmanently restored. The history is more eneral than the title would imply, and all the important events of the time are touched upon. So while we read much of the campaigns against the nations who were crowding back the boundaries of the old empire, we also hear of civic affairs such as the great Nika insurrection in Byzantium in 532; similarly a careful account is given of the pestilence of 540, and the care shewn in describing the nature of the disease shews plainly that the author must have had some acquaintance with the medical science of the time. After the seventh book of the History of the Wars Procopius wrote the Anecdota, or Secret History. Here he freed himself from all the restraints of respect or fear, and set down without scruple everything which he had been led to suppress or gloss over in the History through motives of policy. He attacks unmercifully the emperor and empress and even Belisarius and his wife Antonina, and displays to us one of the blackest pictures ever set down in writing. It is a record of wanton crime and shameless debauchery, of intrigue and scandal both in public and in private life. It is plain that the thing is overdone, and the very extravagance of the calumny makes it impossible to be believed; again and again we meet statements which, if not absolutely impossible, are at least highly improbable. Many of the events of the History are presented in an entirely new light; we seem to hear one speaking out of the bitterness of his heart. It should be said, at the same time, that there are very few contradictions in statements of fact. The author has plainly singled out the empress Theodora as the principal victim of his venomous darts, and he gives an account of her early years which is both shocking and disgusting, but which, happily, we are not forced to regard as true. It goes without saying that such a work as this could not have been published during the lifetime of the author, and it appears t...

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