Tuesday, January 07, 2003

The Secret History - by Pocopius of Caesarea

Procopius: The Secret History


By the Historian (See bottom of this page)

1 - How the Great General Belisarius Was Hoodwinked by His Wife

2 - How Belated Jealousy Affected Belisarius's Military Judgment

3 - Showing the Danger of Interfering with a Woman's Intrigues

4 - How Theodora Humiliated the Conqueror of Africa and Italy

5 - How Theodora Tricked the General's Daughter

6 - Ignorance of the Emperor Justin, and How His Nephew Justinian Was the Virtual Ruler

7 - Outrages of the Blues

8 - Character and Appearance of Justinian

9 - How Theodora, Most Depraved of All Courtesans, Won His Love

10 - How Justinian Created a New Law Permitting Him to Marry a Courtesan

11 - How the Defender of the Faith Ruined His Subjects

12 - Proving That Justinian and Theodora Were Actually Fiends in Human Form

13 - Perceptive Affability and Piety of a Tyrant

14 - Justice for Sale

15 - How All Roman Citizens Became Slaves

16 - What Happened to Those Who Fell Out of Favor with Theodora

17 - How She Saved Five Hundred Harlots from a Life of Sin

18 - How Justinian Killed a Trillion People

19 - How He Seized All the Wealth of the Romans and Threw It Away

20 - Debasing of the Quaestorship

21 - The Sky Tax, and How Border Armies Were Forbidden to Punish Invading Barbarians

22 - Further Corruption in High Places

23 - How Landowners Were Ruined

24 - Unjust Treatment of the Soldiers

25 - How He Robbed His Own Officials

26 - How He Spoiled the Beauty of the Cities and Plundered the Poor

27 - How the Defender of the Faith Protected the Interests of the Christians

28 - His Violation of the Laws of the Romans and How Jews Were Fined for Eating Lamb

29 - Other Incidents Revealing Him as a Liar and a Hypocrite

30 - Further Innovations of Justinian and Theodora, and a Conclusion
By the Historian
In what I have written on the Roman wars up to the present point, the story was arranged in chronological order and as completely as the times then permitted. What I shall write now follows a different plan, supplementing the previous formal chronicle with a disclosure of what really happened throughout the Roman Empire. You see, it was not possible, during the life of certain persons, to write the truth of what they did, as a historian should. If I had, their hordes of spies would have found out about it, and they would have put me to a most horrible death. I could not even trust my nearest relatives. That is why I was compelled to hide the real explanation of many matters glossed over in my previous books.

These secrets it is now my duty to tell and reveal the remaining hidden matters and motives. Yet when I approach this different task, I find it hard indeed to have to stammer and retract what I have written before about the lives of Justinian and Theodora. Worse yet, it occurs to me that what I am now about to tell will seem neither probable nor plausible to future generations, especially as time flows on and my story becomes ancient history. I fear they may think me a writer of fiction, and even put me among the poets.

However, I have this much to cheer me, that my account will not be unendorsed by other testimony: so I shall not shrink from the duty of completing this work. For the men of today, who know best the truth of these matters, will be trustworthy witnesses to posterity of the accuracy of my evidence.

Still another thing for a long time deferred my passion to relieve myself of this untold tale. For I wondered if it might be prejudicial to future generations, and the wickedness of these deeds had not best remain unknown to later times: lest future tyrants, hearing, might emulate them. It is deplorably natural that most monarchs mimic the sins of their predecessors and are most readily disposed to turn to the evils of the past.

But, finally, I was again constrained to proceed with this history, for the reason that future tyrants may see also that those who thus err cannot avoid retribution in the end, since the persons of whom I write suffered that judgment. Furthermore, the disclosure of these actions and tempers will be published for all time, and in consequence others will perhaps feel less urge to transgress.

For who now would know of the unchastened life of Semiramis or the madness of Sardanapalus or Nero, if the record had not thus been written by men of their own times? Besides, even those who suffer similarly '-from later tyrants will not find this narrative quite unprofitable. For the miserable find comfort in the philosophy that not on them alone has evil fallen.

Accordingly, I begin the tale. First I shall reveal the folly of Belisarius, and then the depravity of Justinian and Theodora.