History of the Wars: Books 3-4. (Vandalic War): 81 Twarda oprawa – 1 lipca 1989
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Procopius, born at Caesarea in Palestine late in the 5th century, became a lawyer. In 527 CE he was made legal adviser and secretary of Belisarius, commander against the Persians, and went with Belisarius again in 533 against the Vandals and in 535 against the Ostrogoths. Sometime after 540 he returned to Constantinople. He may have been that Procopius who was prefect of Constantinople in 562, but the date of his death (after 558) is unknown.Procopius's History of the Wars in 8 books recounts the Persian Wars of emperors Justinus and Justinian down to 550 (2 books); the Vandalic War and after-events in Africa 532-546 (2 books); the Gothic War against the Ostrogoths in Sicily and Italy 536-552 (3 books); and a sketch of events to 554 (1 book). The whole consists largely of military history, with much information about peoples and places as well, and about special events. He was a diligent, careful, judicious narrator of facts and developments and shows good powers of description. He is just to the empire's enemies and boldly criticises emperor Justinian. Other works by Procopius are the Anecdota or Secret History--vehement attacks on Justinian, Theodora, and others; and The Buildings of Justinian (down to 558 CE) including roads and bridges as well as churches, forts, hospitals, and so on in various parts of the empire. The Loeb Classical Library edition of Procopius is in seven volumes.
- Wydawca : Harvard University Press (1 lipca 1989)
- Język : Angielski, Grecki
- Twarda oprawa : 494 str.
- ISBN-10 : 0674990900
- ISBN-13 : 978-0674990906
- Wymiary : 10.8 x 2.76 x 16.19 cm
- Recenzje klientów:
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This volume, containing both books of Procopius's Vandalic Wars, details the the history of the African provinces prior to Justinian as well as the difficult, but ultimately successful efforts of Belisarius, Solomon, and others to reconquer and retain them for Justinian. The work details the conquest of the Vandals and the bringing of their king, Gelimer, back to Constantinople as a captive. It also deals with the many mutinies, Moorish invasions, uprisings, and sieges endured by the governors of the province after the departure of Belisarius. By the end, it is clear that the African provinces, so long a rich and prosperous part of the empire, had been largely depopulated and economically ruined by the ceaseless succession of wars and rebellions.
The author, Procopius, was an eyewitness to many of the events which he describes and offers insights into the actions that only an insider would know. However, he tends to be a bit credulous and considering the later "Secret History" which is rightly or wrongly attributed to Procopius, one is forced to read into much of what he recorded.
While I am not qualified to speak about the translation (my Greek is atrocious), I found the English text to be very readable and prosaic. All in all, this (along with the other works of Procopius from the Loeb) is required reading for anyone interested in the Late Roman/Early Byzantine period and helps make clear how Islamic armies were able to sweep through north Africa with such ease just a century later.
It is also interesting to see the influence of Christianity upon Procopius' writing, with all Roman victories attributed to divine favor or intervention. On the other hand, the reader may sense Pagan influences just under the surface and these Pagan attitudes did resurface from time to time in the early Byzantine period. It is also refreshing to see that Procopius is not afraid to criticize the Emperor Justinian for being too parsimonious with the military and financial resources. Unlike other Byzantine authors, like the fawning Michael Psellus, Procopius was not writing to please the imperial court and thus, provides a more balanced interpretation of events.
The Byzantine expedition to North Africa quickly succeeded in crushing the Vandals, primarily due to the military skill of Belisarius and his small band of highly trained soldiers. Belisarius then moved on to Italy to deal with the Ostrogoths, leaving only secondary forces to occupy and pacify North Africa. Procopius' account of the military revolts that followed provide keen insight into the military weaknesses of the Roman Empire of the period. After brilliantly winning the field campaign, the Roman troops were then short-changed of their due pay and deprived of any land grants in the re-conquered territories. Procopius makes clear that the Emperor Justinian wanted to keep all the land and financial booty for his own purposes and that he viewed his soldiers as mere hirelings. This failure to provide for the troops' welfare led to revolt after revolt in the 4th and 5th Centuries and severely undermined the military efficiency of one of the best armies of the period.
Procopius' battle descriptions usually cover only a few pages, but he usually manages to discuss tactical dispositions and terrain, although he usually leaves out opposing strengths and casualties. The only annoying tendency by the author - common among ancient historians since Thucydides - is to provide pre-battle speeches by the opposing commanders; these speeches are patent inventions designed to show the "mood" of each side, but they have little value to the modern reader. All in all, Procopius is one of the better ancient military histories, even if he can be a bit dull and repetitive at times.