Procopius’ View of Justinian

Procopius (c. 500-554 AD), a Byzatine historian, had a very dim view of the character of the Emperor Justinian. In his Secret History, Procopius described Justinian as:

“deceitful, devious, false, hypocritical, two-faced, cruel, skilled in dissembling his thought, never moved to tears by either joy or pain, though he could summon them artfully at will when the occasion demanded…”

He also said that:

“nature seemed to have taken the wickedness of all other men combined and planted it in this man’s soul.”

Procopius obviously viewed Justinian as the most undesirable person in the world. His only complement involved Justinian’s facial appearance, which he compared to Domition’s, an insane Emperor who demanded his subject’s worship, and was responsible for the deaths of thousands of early Christians. So then again, maybe not so much of a complement.


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