The Secret History

The Secret History

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by Procopius
     
 

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A trusted member of the Byzantine establishment, Procopius was the Empire's official chronicler, and his History of the Wars of Justinian proclaimed the strength and wisdom of the Emperor's reign. Yet all the while the dutiful scribe was working on a very different—and dangerous—history to be published only once its author was safely in his grave.

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Overview

A trusted member of the Byzantine establishment, Procopius was the Empire's official chronicler, and his History of the Wars of Justinian proclaimed the strength and wisdom of the Emperor's reign. Yet all the while the dutiful scribe was working on a very different—and dangerous—history to be published only once its author was safely in his grave. The Secret History portrays the 'great lawgiver' Justinian as a rampant king of corruption and tyranny, the Empress Theodora as a sorceress and whore, and the brilliant general Belisarius as the pliable dupe of his scheming wife Antonina. Magnificently hyperbolic and highly opinionated, The Secret History is a work of explosive energy, depicting holy Byzantium as a hell of murder and misrule.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140455281
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/18/2007
Series:
Penguin Classics Series
Pages:
176
Sales rank:
246,092
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Procopius was born in Palestine around AD 500 and fought for the Byzantine Empire in Persia, Africa and Italy. Very little is known about him.

G.A. Williamson (1895-1982) was a Classical Exhibitioner at Worcester College, Oxford, graduating with a First Class Honours degree. He was Senior Classics Master at Norwich School from 1922 to 1960. He translated Josephus: The Jewish War (1959) and Procopius: The Secret History (1966) for the Penguin Classics. He died in 1982.

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The Secret History (Formatted with TOC) 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 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?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago