Procopius

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Procopius

Procopius (prōkō´pēəs), d. 565?, Byzantine historian, b. Caesarea in Palestine. He accompanied Belisarius on his campaigns as his secretary, and later he commanded the imperial navy and served (562) as prefect of Constantinople. His education, high connections, and public offices give his histories great value as firsthand accounts. His chief works are generally known as Procopius' History of His Own Time, dealing mainly with the wars against the Goths, Vandals, and Persians, and as the Secret History of Procopius, which is largely a scandalous and often scurrilous court chronicle. His authorship of the Secret History has been questioned, but most scholars now agree that it is an authentic work of Procopius. He also wrote On Buildings, a work in six books describing buildings erected by Justinian throughout the empire. In his polished style Procopius imitated the historians of the Greek classical period. His descriptions of social and religious customs among the barbarians are very valuable, but his histories are marred by his violent personal prejudices, e.g., in favor of Belisarius and against Empress Theodora.

See study by J. A. S. Evans (1972) and A. Cameron (1985).

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