The Secret History

The Secret History

by Procopius


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Procopius, from Palaestina Prima, or modern day Israel, is an important first hand source for the history of the 6th century, especially concerning the Emperor Justinian. Procopius was an incredibly learned man, having received a classical education, possibly from the famed School of Gaza. He would become a legal adviser for Belisarius, Justinian’s chief military commander and accompany him to the war front, an experience he would document in his “Wars of Justinian”. The ancient scholar’s most famous work however is “The Secret History”, which tells a more intimate and revealing history of Emperor Justinian and his wife, Empress Theodora, as well as Belisarius, and his wife Antonina. This fascinating document of imperialism is brutal in its honesty, often portraying its subjects in an unflattering light. “The Secret History” mentioned in the “Suda”, a tenth century Byzantine encyclopedia, had been lost to history until it was rediscovered in the 17th century in the Vatican library. Scholars and history buffs alike will find Procopius’ “The Secret History” an invaluable historical work from a man who has been referred to as the last major historian of the ancient world. This edition is printed on premium acid-free paper.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781420964554
Publisher: Neeland Media
Publication date: 11/07/2019
Pages: 96
Product dimensions: 5.51(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.23(d)

About the Author

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 His Secret History lay unpublished until 1623.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.

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The Secret History (Formatted with TOC) 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
GeorgeEllington More than 1 year ago
The modern reader of history must typically depend on the research of equally modern historians. Which is certainly not a bad thing. Modern historians have access to a vast number of resources and often at least strive to present a more objective view of the past, while most ancient historians had no appreciation whatsoever for objectivity in composing their accounts of what would have been for them contemporary events and figures. While true objectivity may be impossible, I prefer a more balanced approach to history over the panegyrics of the past. Having said that, it is still a pleasure to read ancient historians now and then, despite their shortcomings. And no historian was better placed to report on the lives of Justinian, Theodora, and Belisarius of the eastern Roman Empire than was Procopius, who produced eight volumes on the history of one of the greatest, most renowned Byzantine emperors - Justinian I. In his Secret History, Procopius not only casts aside panegyrics, but delves perhaps a bit too avidly into the revulsion he felt at his mighty emperor and empress. This is a history certainly worth reading for anyone whose view of Justinian is limited to praise for him as a devoted Christian ruler and appreciation for his sacral architecture, such as the fantastic Hagia Sophia in Konstantinopolis. Procopius details the greed and cruelty of his emperor, as well as the malice and lasciviousness of his wife, Theodora. Which is interesting reading, although I can't help but feel it is more than a bit overstated and undersupported. Unfortunately, ancient writers also lacked a concern for citing their sources. You can't simply assume that because Procopius was a contemporary of Justinian, therefore he personally witnessed all that he writes about. Nor does he suggest so himself. In which case, how much of his account is hearsay, is simple rumor based on rumor, and how much of it - if any - can be further documented? I at least walk away from this book with a sense that Justinian and Theodora were extremely suspicious characters. Yet, while Procopius insists that Justinian was the worst ruler in all of history, just how much worse were he and his wife from other rulers in the ancient world? Or, for that matter, our own?
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about 1,500 years old, but it's written in a way that's just as newsy and down-to-earth as anything today, which just goes to show you that people don't change. it is basically the history of Justinian and Theodora, two of the most influential rulers of Byzantium ever, from the perspective of a historian who hates their guts. A great way to discover ancient literature.
Guest More than 1 year ago
WOW...I didn't believe ancient people would write stuff like this... This book is hilarious.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Procopius writes a very readable discription of Byzantium at the time of Justiniun. He takes you to the corrupt court of the emperor giving you details that a tabloid would be proud of. You wonder how much to accept at face value, but the book is well worth reading anyway.
Florentius on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A book to be read with caution. It presents a scurrilous litany of scandal in the court of Justinian, but really, how seriously can we take a source, purportedly written by an otherwise sober-minded historian, which claims that Justinian was the spawn of a demon, that he was witnessed walking around the palace without a head, and that he was responsible for the death of a trillion people? Add to this the fact that the supposed author, Procopius, wrote a book praising Justinian *after* this one and the confusion really mounts.My suggestion: read Procopius's non-secret histories before you read this one. Then, at the very least, you'll have a more well-rounded view of the time and the people.
jukke on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After having published six books of histories Procopius wrote his Secret History, one of the vilest invectives known, mostly about the emperor Justinian and his wife Teodora. not forgetting his one-time friend, the warlord Belisarius. the stories resemble in a striking way the reports told of political leaders always - for instance of John F. Kennedy etc.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago