BELISARIUS (c. 505-565), one of the most famous generals of the later Roman empire, was born about A.D.
In reward for these services Belisarius was invested with the consular dignity, and medals were struck in his honour.
Accordingly, Belisarius invaded Sicily; and, after storming Naples and defending Rome for a year against almost the entire strength of the Goths in Italy, he concluded the war by the capture of Ravenna, and with it of the Gothic king Vitiges.
The Goths having meanwhile reconquered Italy, Belisarius was despatched with utterly inadequate forces to oppose them.
Belisarius remained at Constantinople in tranquil retirement until 559, when an incursion of Bulgarian savages spread a panic through the metropolis, and men's eyes were once more turned towards the neglected veteran, who placed himself at the head of a mixed multitude of peasants and soldiers, and repelled the barbarians with his wonted courage and adroitness.
Shortly afterwards Belisarius was accused of complicity in a conspiracy against the emperor (562); his fortune was confiscated, and he was confined as a prisoner in his palace.
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.
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.
It is a furious invective against these sovereigns, their characters, personal conduct and government, with attacks on Belisarius and his wife Antonina, and; on other noted officials in the civil and military services of the empire.
He was ordained by order of Belisarius while Silverius was still alive; his elevation was due to Theodora, who, by an appeal at once to his ambition and, it is said, to his covetousness, had induced him to promise to disallow the council of Chalcedon, in connexion with the "three chapters" controversy.
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.