PROCOPIUS OF CAESAREA, PRAGMATIKE HISTORIA, AND THE LIMITS OF IMPERIAL POWER
Frechette, Joseph Raymond
Eckstein, Arthur M
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The implicit assumption in many recent treatments of the sixth century historian Procopius of Caesarea and his history of the wars of the emperor Justinian is that the “classicizing” elements contained in the Wars are a product of mimesis that Procopius deployed for literary or political purposes. These approaches lead to the conclusion that the Wars are disconnected from the realities of the mid sixth century. This dissertation suggests that we may gain a better understanding not only of this important historian and his most substantial work, but also the regime he served and criticized, by suspending our disbelief and taking the Wars on its own terms. That is, as a work of analytical history whose author expected would be useful to its readers in the conduct of military and political affairs. To this end it examines Procopius’ career, the nature and relative dates of his works, the historiographic context in which he operated, the nature of his audience, some of the recurrent issues faced by Roman commanders as described in the Wars and their practical applicability to a contemporary military audience, points of contact between Procopius and the didactic military literature of the period, the inapplicability of discussing Procopius as a critic of a “totalitarian” regime, and the Wars’ portrait, instead, of an imperial regime limited by both external and internal constraints.