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."
". . . ranks as one of the supreme hatchet jobs of all time. . ."
"The outstanding example of vituperative literature that has come to us from all antiquity."
—Arthur E. R. Boak
Procopius was the greatest historian of the Later Roman Empire. He was the author of an account of the Persian, Vandal, and Gothic Wars called The History of the Wars, and of Buildings of Justinian. His Secret History lay unpublished until 1623. The present translation by Richard Attwater is the only one to stand as a work of literature in its own right.
By the Historian 3
I. How the Great General Belisarius Was Hoodwinked by His Wife 5
II. How Belated Jealousy Affected Belisarius's Military Judgment 10
III. Showing the Danger of Interfering with a Woman's Intrigues 16
IV. How Theodora Humiliated the Conqueror of Africa and Italy 20
V. How Theodora Tricked the General's Daughter 26
VI. Ignorance of the Emperor Justin, and How His Nephew Justinian Was the Virtual Ruler 31
VII. Outrages of the Blues 35
VIII. Character and Appearance of Justinian 40
IX. How Theodora, Most Depraved of All Courtesans, Won His Love 45
X. How Justinian Created a New Law Permitting Him to Marry a Courtesan 51
XI. How the Defender of the Faith Ruined His Subjects 56
XII. Proving That Justinian and Theodora Were Actually Friends in Human Form 61
XIII. Deceptive Affability and Piety of a Tyrant 67
XIV. Justice for Sale 71
XV. How All Roman Citizens Became Slaves 75
XVI. What Happened to Those Who Fell Out of Favor with Theodora 79
XVII. How She Saved Five Hundred Harlots from a Life of Sin 83
XVIII. How Justinian Killed a Trillion People 89
XIX. How He Seized All the Wealth of the Romans and Threw It Away 95
XX. Debasing of the Quaestorship 98
XXI. The Sky Tax, and How Border Armies Were Forbidden to Punish Invading Barbarians 102
XXII. Further Corruption in High Places 106
XXIII. How Landowners Were Ruined 111
XXIV. Unjust Treatment of the Soldiers 115
XXV. How He Robbed His Own Officials 119
XXVI. How He Spoiled the Beauty of the Cities and Plundered the Poor 124
XXVII. How the Defender of the Faith Protected the Interests of the Christians 130
XXVIII. His Violation of the Laws of the Romans, and How Jews Were Fined for Eating Lamb 134
XXIX. Other Incidents Revealing Him as a Liar and a Hypocrite 137
XXX. Further Innovations of Justinian and Theodora, and a Conclusion 141