The Reign of Justinian from Secret History 558 Procopius.docx

The Reign of Justinian from Secret History 558 Procopius.docx

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1 The Reign of Justinian from Secret History (558) Procopius Procopius. 1927. Secret History. Translated by Richard Atwater. New York: Covici-Friede. The Byzantine Emperor Justinian ruled from 527-565 AD, and governed an empire stretching from the Black Sea to the Nile (what was once the Eastern Roman Empire). During his reign Justinian ordered the creation of a great legal code, controlled firmly both the church and state, and also attempted to reconquer as much as possible of the old Western Roman Empire. Most historians consider Justinian at least a moderate success, and also generally give credit to his wife, Theodora, for being a compassionate and charitable empress. Procopius, however, was an enemy of the empress, and gives an unflattering portrait of the ruler’s wife. Regardless, his work is a crucial source on the palace intrigue and maneuvering that typified Byzantine court life. [7] Outrages of the Blues The people had since long previous time been divided, as I have explained elsewhere, into two factions, the Blues and the Greens. Justinian, by joining the former party, which had already shown favor to him, was able to bring everything into confusion and turmoil, and by its power to sink the Roman state to its knees before him. Not all the Blues were willing to follow his leadership, but there were plenty who were eager for civil war. Yet even these, as the trouble spread, seemed the most prudent of men, for their crimes were less awful than was in their power to commit. Nor did the Green partisans remain quiet, but showed their resentment as violently as they could, though one by one they were continually punished; which, indeed, urged them each time to further recklessness. For men who are wronged are likely to become desperate. Then it was that Justinian, fanning the flame and openly inciting the Blues to fight, made the whole Roman Empire shake on its foundation, as if an earthquake or a cataclysm had stricken it, or every city within its confines had been taken by the foe. Everything everywhere was uprooted: nothing was left undisturbed by him. Law and order, throughout the State, overwhelmed by distraction, were turned upside down. First the rebels revolutionized the style of wearing their hair. For they had it cut differently from the 1 PRIMARY SOURCE
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2 rest of the Romans: not molesting the mustache or beard, which they allowed to keep on growing as long as it would, as the Persians do, but clipping the hair short on the front of the head down to the temples, and letting it hang down in great length and disorder in the back, as the Massageti do. This weird combination they called the Hun haircut.
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