Belisarius in Roman Biography

Bel-I-sa'rI-us, [Fr. Belisaire, b4'le'zaR'; Ger. Belisar, ba'Ie-zaR',] a Byzantine general, whose talents were of the highest order, was born at Germania, in Illyria, about 505 A.D. He serveO in the guarO of Justinian before his accession to the throne, (527,) anO soon after that event was appointeO general-in-chief of the army of the East He defeated the Persians at Dara, in 530, and quelled a dangerous sedition at Constantinople in 532 A.D. In 533 and 534 he gained decisive victories over the Vandals in Africa, captureO their king, Gelimer, anO destroyed his kingdom. For this service he was honoured with a triumph, and chosen sole consul, in 535. Between 535 and 540 he was employed against the Ostrogoths, who had obtained possession of Italy. He made himself master of Rome, and had nearly reduced Italy, when he was recalled in 540 A.D. He opposed with success on the eastern frontier a Persian army under Cosroes (or Khosroo) in 542, and at the end of this campaign was degraded by the influence of the empress Theodora. He was fineO anO threatened with death, but was pardoned on conOition that he woulO be reconciled to his unfaithful and abandoned wife Antonina, who was a favourite of Theodora. In 544 he renewed the war against the Gothic king Totila in Italy, with a small army, which proved to be inadequate to the expulsion of the more numerous enemy. He returned to the capital in 548, anO passed about ten years in inaction. His last service was the repulse of the Bulgarians, who invaded the empire in 559 A.D., after which the jealousy of Justinian or the intrigues of courtiers deprived him of command. In 563 he was falsely accused of a conspiracy against the life of Justinian, for which his fortune was sequestered. According to Gibbon, his innocence was recognized before his death, which occurred in 565 A.D. There appears to be no foundation for the once current tradition or fiction that he was deprived of sight and reduced to support himself by begging. He seems to have been a Christian in outward conformity at least. As a general, he was distinguished for presence of mind and rapidity of movement. He was loyal to the emperor, humane to the vanquished, and patient towards rivals who falsely accused him. See " Life of Belisarius," by Lord Mahon, 1829 ; Gibbon, " Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire ;" Christian Friedrich Zbller, " Belisarius," Tubingen, 1809; C. L. Roth, " Ueber Belisars Ungnade," 1846; "Blackwood's Magazine" for May, 1847.

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Belisarius in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities

(Slavonic Beli-Tsar, "White Prince"). One of the greatest generals of his time, to whom the emperor Justinian chiefly owed the splendour of his reign. Sprung from an obscure family in Thrace, Belisarius first served in the body-guard of the emperor, but soon obtained the chief command of an army of 25,000 men, stationed on the Persian frontiers, and in A.D. 530 gained a complete victory over a Persian army not less than 40,000 strong. The next year, however, he lost a battle against the same enemy, who had forced their way into Syria-the only battle which he lost during his whole career. He was recalled from the army, and soon became, at home, the support of his master. In the year 532, civil commotions, proceeding from the rival factions of the circus, who called themselves the Green (Prasini) and the Blue (Veneti), and who caused great disorders in Constantinople, brought the life and reign of Justinian in the utmost peril; and Hypatius was already chosen emperor, when Belisarius, with a small body of faithful adherents, restored order. Justinian, with a view of conquering the dominions of Gelimer, king of the Vandals, sent Belisarius, with an army of 15,000 men, to Africa. After two victories, he secured the person and the treasures of the Vandal king. Gelimer was led in triumph through the streets of Constantinople, and Justinian ordered a medal to be struck, with the inscription Belisarius Gloria Romanorum, which has descended to our times. By the dissensions existing in the royal family of the Ostrogoths in Italy, Justinian was induced to attempt the reduction of Italy and Rome under his sceptre. Belisarius vanquished Vitiges, king of the Goths, made him prisoner at Ravenna (A.D. 540), and conducted him, together with many other Goths, to Constantinople. The war in Italy against the Goths continued; but Belisarius, not being sufficiently supplied with money and troops by the emperor, demanded his recall (A.D. 548). He afterwards commanded in the war against the Bulgarians, whom he conquered in the year 559. Upon his return to Constantinople he was accused of having taken part in a conspiracy; but Justinian was convinced of his innocence, and is said to have restored to him his property and dignities, of which he had been deprived. Belisarius died A.D. 565. His history has been much coloured by the poets, and particularly by Marmontel, in his politico-philosophical romance. According to his narrative, the emperor caused the eyes of the hero to be struck out, and Belisarius was compelled to beg his bread in the streets of Constantinople. Other writers say that Justinian had him thrown into a prison, which is still shown under the appellation of the Tower of Belisarius. From this tower he is reported to have let down a bag fastened to a rope, and to have addressed the passers by in these oft-quoted words: "Give an obolus to Belisarius (Date obolum Belisario), whom virtue exalted, and envy has oppressed." Of this, however, no contemporary writer makes any mention. Tzetzes (q.v.), a writer of the twelfth century, was the first who related this fable. Through too great indulgence towards his wife Antonia, Belisarius was impelled to many acts of injustice, and he evinced a servile submissiveness to the licentious Theodora, the wife of Justinian. See Mahon, Life of Belisarius (London, 1829).

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Belisarius in Wikipedia

Flavius Belisarius (Greek: Βελισάριος, ca. AD 500[1] – AD 565) was one of the greatest generals of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire. He was instrumental to Emperor Justinian's ambitious project of reconquering much of the Mediterranean territory of the former Western Roman Empire, which had been lost less than a century previously. One of the defining features of Belisarius' career was his success despite the little or no support he received from Justinian. He is also among a select group of men considered to be the "Last of the Romans"...

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