A scathing indictment of the emperor Justinian and his 6th-century Byzantine court by the greatest historian of the period

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Contents 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 Glossary          146


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.

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.

". . . a first-rate job. . . the translation is not only lucid, but wholly engaging and compelling." 
—Dudley Fitts

". . . 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