Aug 25 2014

The Secret History by Procopius

Most later historians tend to dismiss Procopius’ account as grossly exaggerated, maintaining that Justinian and Theodora were just, able, and virtuous co-rulers. But if that is really the case, it is hard to see why he would have written this history, since it obviously posed great risk to himself. If Procopius can be believed, Justinian and Theodora were vicious, bloodthirsty, depraved, and greedy, and they were guilty of all kinds of sordid deeds and misrule during their co-reign. This hardly agrees with what I have heard from other sources, but the stories he reports do not sound fabricated. Yet I wonder if he merely had some personal axe to grind; it is hard to believe that the great legislator, builder, and administrator Justinian could have been such an immoral tyrant. I would like to know more about Procopius himself before I give his story too much credibility.

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