Long after the Goths had lost Rome they still clung to Ravenna, till at length, weary of the feebleness of their own king, Vitiges, and struck with admiration of their heroic conqueror, they offered to transfer their allegiance to Belisarius on condition of his assuming the diadem of the Western Empire.
Belisarius dallied with the proposal until he had obtained an entrance within the walls of the capital, and proclaimed his inviolable fidelity to Justinian.
Belisarius starved out Vitiges in 539, and became master of it.
Their development as a maritime people, engaged in small trading and intimately acquainted with their home waters, led Belisarius to seek their help in his task of recovering Italy from the Goths.
Reconquered by Belisarius in 534, Africa formed, under the name of praefectura Africae, one of the great administrative districts of the Byzantine empire.
Towards the end of 545 the Gothic king took up his station at Tivoli and prepared to starve Rome into surrender, making at the same time elaborate preparations for checking the progress of Belisarius who was advancing to its relief.
But its walls and other fortifications were soon restored, and Totila again marching against it was defeated by Belisarius, who, however, did not follow up his advantage.
Several cities were taken by the Goths, while Belisarius remained inactive and then left Italy, and in 549 Totila advanced a third time against Rome, which he captured through the treachery of some of its defenders.
The Romans, though led by Belisarius, could do little against him.
In 541 he fought under Belisarius in Mesopotamia.
Lost to Rome by the invasion of the Vandals, who took Carthage in 439, the province was recovered by Belisarius a century later (533-34), and remained Roman till the Arab invasions of 648-69.
547 Belisarius collected his fleet here before crossing into Calabria.
Under Athalaric he was praefectus praetorio, a post which he retained till about 540, after the triumphal entry of Belisarius into Ravenna, when he retired from public life.
The town was partially restored by Belisarius, and again sacked by the Arabs in the 7th century.
During the siege of Rome by Narses, Belisarius occupied Tibur: it was afterwards treacherously surrendered to Totila, whose troops plundered it, but who rebuilt it in A.D.
Here he wrote his Neue Apologie des Socrates (1772), a work occasioned by an attack on the fifteenth chapter of Marmontel's Belisarius made by Peter Hofstede, a clergyman of Rotterdam, who maintained the patristic view that the virtues of the noblest pagans were only splendida peccata.
Six months afterwards (Dec. 9) he was one of those who admitted Belisarius into the city.
He was deposed accordingly by Belisarius in March 537 on a charge of treasonable` correspondence with the Goths, and degraded to the rank of monk.
(q.v.) was driven back by Belisarius; but the latter was defeated in his pursuit at Rakka (531).
Yet Lilybaeum was a Gothic possession when Belisarius, conqueror of Africa, demanded it in vain as part of the Vandal possessions (Proc. Bell.
Belisarius was Pyrrhus and Marcellus in one.
The great source of our knowledge of Sicily in the century which followed the reconquest by Belisarius is the Letters of Pope Gregory the Great, and they naturally show the most Latin side of things.
He became a lawyer, probably at Constantinople, and was in 527 appointed secretary and legal adviser to Belisarius, who was proceeding to command the imperial army in the war against the Persians (De bello persico i.
When the Persian War was suspended and Belisarius was despatched against the Vandals of Africa in 533, Procopius again accompanied him, as he subsequently did in the war against the Ostrogoths of Italy, which began in 535.
It does not appear whether he was with the Roman armies in the later stages of the Gothic War, when Belisarius and afterwards Narses fought against Totila in Italy; his narrative of these years is much less full and minute than that of the earlier warfare.
After some campaigns, in which the skill of Belisarius obtained considerable successes, a peace was concluded in 533 with Chosroes I.
Belisarius, despatched from Constantinople with a large fleet and army, landed without opposition, and destroyed the barbarian power in two engagements.
Belisarius, who had been made commander of the Italian expedition, overran Sicily, reduced southern Italy, and in 536 occupied Rome.
After a siege of over a year, the energy, skill, and courage of Belisarius, and the sickness which was preying on the Gothic troops, obliged Vitiges to retire.
Belisarius pursued his diminished army northwards, shut him up in Ravenna, and ultimately received the surrender of that impregnable city.
Belisarius was sent against him, but with forces too small for the gravity of the situation.
The emperor at last complied, and in 552 a powerful army was despatched under Narses, an Armenian eunuch now advanced in life, but reputed the most skilful general of the age, as Belisarius was the hottest soldier.
405 Radagaisus was crushed in the neighbouring hills, and Belisarius besieged and took it in A.D.
Though the effect of his victories was afterwards neutralized by the successes of Belisarius, his name long remained the glory of the Vandals.
It was therefore to Byzantium that Italy turned for metal-workers, and especially for goldsmiths, when, in the 6th to the 8th centuries, the basilica of St Peter's in Rome was enriched with masses of gold and silver for decorations and fittings, the gifts of many donors from Belisarius to Leo III., the mere catalogue of which reads like a tale from the Arabian Nights.
It was recovered by Belisarius in 535, sacked by the Saracens in 902 and taken by the Normans.
In this capacity, in 530, he received into the emperor's obedience another Narses, a fellow-countryman, with his two brothers, Aratius and Isaac. These Persarmenian generals, having formerly fought under the standard of Persia, now in consequence of the successes of Belisarius transferred their allegiance to the emperor Justinian, came to Constantinople, and received costly gifts from the great minister.
In the fourth year of the latter war (538) the splendid successes of Belisarius had awakened both joy and fear in the heart of his master.
Belisarius understood that Narses came to serve under him like any other officer of distinguished but subordinate rank, and he received a letter from Justinian which seemed to support this conclusion.
The first interference of Narses with the plans of Belisarius was beneficial.
John, one of the officers highest in rank under Belisarius, had pressed on to Rimini, contrary to the instructions of his chief, leaving in his rear the difficult fortress of Osimo (Auximum) untaken.
Belisarius and his followers were prepared to let him pay the penalty of his rashness and disobedience.
But his friend Narses so insisted on the blow to the reputation of the imperial arms which would be produced by the surrender of Rimini that he carried the council of war with him, and Belisarius had to plan a brilliant march across the mountains, in conjunction with a movement by the fleet, whereby Rimini was relieved while Osimo was still untaken.
When Belisarius and John met, the latter ostentatiously thanked Narses alone for his preservation.
The two generals who were sent to relieve it loitered disgracefully over their march, and, when Belisarius wished to despatch further reinforcements, the commanders of these new troops refused to stir till Narses gave them orders.
Belisarius wrote to the eunuch pointing out the necessity of unity of purpose in the imperial army.
Italy, which appeared to have been won by the sword of Belisarius, had been lost again by the exactions and misgovernment of Alexander.
Totila had raised up a new army, had more than kept Belisarius at bay in five difficult campaigns (544-548) and now held nearly all the country.
Belisarius, however, in this his second series of campaigns, had never been properly seconded by his master.
Toward the close of his reign (527) he resumed the war, defeating Belisarius at Callinicum (531), with the zealous support of the wild Arab Mondhir II.
A great expedition under the command of Belisarius (in whose train was the historian Procopius) sailed from the Bosporus in June 533, and after touching at Catana in Sicily finally reached Africa in the beginning of September.
Gelimer, who was strangely ignorant of the plans of Justinian, had sent his brother Tzazo with some of his best troops to quell a rebellion in Sardinia (that island as well as the Balearic Isles forming part of the Vandal dominions), and the landing of Belisarius was entirely unopposed.
Belisarius, however, was too late to save the life of Hilderic, who had been slain by his rival's orders as soon as the news came of the landing of the imperial army.
On the return of Tzazo from Sardinia a force was collected considerably larger than the imperial army, and Gelimer met Belisarius in battle at a place about 20 m.
The well-known stories of his laughter when he was introduced to Belisarius, and his chant, "Vanitas vanitatum," when he walked before the triumphal car of his conqueror through the streets of Constantinople, probably point to an intellect disordered by his reverses and hardships.
In reward for these services Belisarius was invested with the consular dignity, and medals were struck in his honour.
The fiction of Belisarius wandering as a blind beggar through the streets of Constantinople, which has been adopted by Marmontel in his Belisaire, and by various painters and poets, is first heard of in the 10th century.
When, therefore, Justinian undertook the reconquest of Italy, his generals, Belisarius and Narses, were supported by the south.