He was a native of Caesarea in the province of Palaestina Prima. Procopius recorded a few of the extreme weather events of — , although these were presented as a backdrop to Byzantine military activities, such as a mutiny in and around Carthage. Both the Wars  and the Secret History suggest that his relationship with Belisarius cooled thereafter. He thus belonged to the mid-ranking group of the senatorial order ordo senatorius. However, the Suda, which is usually well informed in such matters, also describes Procopius himself as one of the illustres. Many historians—including Howard-Johnson , Cameron , and Greatrex —date his death to , but there was an urban prefect of Constantinople praefectus urbi Constantinopolitanae called Procopius in
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Eugenio R. However, only the ethnographic excursus on the Slavs and Antes Procop. III In a well known passage of this work Procop. I am very grateful to Prof. For they believe that one god, the maker of the lightning, is the only lord of every- thing and they sacriice to him cattle and all kinds of victims, but they do not know the fate nor do they think that it has any bearing whatsoever on human beings.
Instead, when death is getting close to them, either when sickness strikes them or when they get ready for war, they promise that, if they escape, they will make a sac- riice to the god in exchange for their life and once they have escaped, they sacriice whatever they have at hand, believing that they have bought their safety thanks to that sacriice. Nevertheless, they also worship rivers, nymphs and some other divine beings and they also sacriice to them all, making divinations in those sacriices.
Some scholars have been quite skeptical about the reliability of the information pro- vided by Procopius3. Focusing speciically on the religious aspects of his description of the Slavs, the reference to a supreme god, master of the lightning, its well with the information about Perun that later sources provide, regardless of whether this god was or not already named in that way4.
He also states that they worshipped rivers, nymphs, and some other divine beings da…monej and this information can be checked in other sources, too, such as the Homiliary of Opatovice sermon 5, p. In the latter text, the introduction of this type of cults is attributed to the mythical igure of Tethka6.
It is not the aim of my paper to analyse once more this well known passage, but it was important to show how the information provided by Procopius concerning pagan Slavic religion seems to have a factual basis. I would like to draw attention to another interesting passage of the same work Procop. I will irst provide the Greek text and a translation, and will then comment on it.
Even ater the christianization of the Slavs these types of cults survived in popular beliefs; see Barford — Others they shut in their huts together with the cattle and sheep that they were unable to carry with them to their homeland and mercilessly set them on ire. Procopius expresses his surprise at the fact that on this occasion the Slavs had chosen not to kill everyone, but had just enslaved women and children, while their custom so far was not to spare anyone.
He then goes on to describe the ways in which they used to kill their victims up to that point. It would thus be a similar case to that of the previously quoted passage of the Gothic War. One could see babes torn away by them from breast and milk and life itself, and inding an improvised 8 Photius, Homily IV 2. Translation by Mango 98— Nay, nor was the savagery stopped with human beings, but over all speechless animals, oxen, horses, fowl and others, which they fell upon, did their cruelty extend.
Everything was full of dead bodies; the low of rivers was turned into blood; some of the fountains and reservoirs it was no longer pos- sible to distinguish, as their cavities were made level with corpses, other retained but faint traces of their former outline, the missing traces being overlaid by the bodies that lay scattered alongside them.
Corn-land was rotting with dead bodies, roads were obstructed, forests took on a wild and desolate aspect because of corpses rather than because of bushes and solitude, caverns were illed up, mountains, hills, ravines and gullies difered in no way from city cemeteries. It is my point that what Procopius is describing in this passage are, in fact, some quite elaborate rituals performed by the Slavs to carry out the execution of their enemies.
It would be rather unexpected that, in the context of their incursion on the other side of the river Danube, the Slavs would stop to make all the preparations necessary for those types of slayings for no reason at all.
Such a behaviour, however, would be better under- standable if those were some sorts of ritual sacriices. In the irst place there is a descrip- tion of a ritual of impalement.
It involved planting in the earth four pieces of wood and tying the feet and hands of the prisoners to them, ater which they beat their heads with clubs until they died. Why should it be that they limited themselves to beating their heads and not their whole bodies unless this was not part of a ritual? We do not have exact parallels of any of these practices in other texts dealing with pagan Slavic religion, but rituals in which diferent objects were planted in the earth seem to have played an important role in the religious rituals of these peoples.
Proco- pius remarks that they did this just with the cattle that the barbarians were not able to take with them to their homeland. However, we can wonder whether this was not again a speciic kind of religious ofering. We have some interesting parallels in this case.
Nicholas I Mystikos, patriach of Constantinople, in his letter 66, dated , complains that a pagan sacriice has been carried out for ratifying a treaty He insists in his letter that it was not by chance that the animals selected for that purpose were cows, dogs, and sheep. It would thus seem that the three ways in which the Slavenes used to kill their en- emies, according to this passage of De bello Gothico, are not accidental.
If our arguments are right, Procopius — who is very well informed about the facts that he is describing — would be providing here a quite detailed account of the rituals followed by 6th century Slavenes for putting their enemies to death. It would thus be a very valuable source for our knowledge of Slavic pre-Christian religion. References Barford, P. Benedicty, R. Grumel, V. Haury, J. Wirth], Leipzig, Teubner. Holzer, G. Capaldo ed. Capaldo et alii dirs.
Jenkins, R. Westerink eds. Letters, Dumbarton Oaks, Harvard University. Karalis, B. Mango, C. Meyer, C. Mikhailov, N. Mitologia slava", in: N. Mikhailov ed.
Niederle, L. Pisani, V. Puhvel, J. Reiter, N. Haussig ed. Vyncke, F. Jouco Bleeker — Geo Widengren eds. I Religions of the Past, reimpr. Leiden, Brill, pp.
Prokopios von Caesarea
AD Robert Vermaat The Roman poet Claudius Claudianus, a pagan Greek and probably born in Alexandria, wrote during one of the most exciting yet little known periods of Roman history. During his lifetime, Arcadius and Honorius, the weak sons of the last sole Roman emperor, Theodosius I, became weak puppets of strong generals and government ministers. Theodosius fought a fierce and bloody battle in against the forces of the usurper Eugenius at the River Frigidus in which both Alaric the Visigoth and the master general Flavius Stilicho led imperial troops to victory. This invasion of the West was probably also the origin of drawing up the Notitia Dignitatum. Claudian is considered by many to have been the last great poet of the ancient world.
Such a behaviour, however, would be better under- standable if those were some sorts of ritual sacriices. It would be rather unexpected that, in the context of their incursion on the other side of the river Danube, the Slavs would stop to make all the preparations necessary for those types of gothlco for no reason at all. It is my point that what Procopius is describing in this passage are, in fact, some quite elaborate rituals performed by the Slavs to carry out the execution of their enemies. Be gthico first to review this item Would you like to tell us about a lower price? However, we can wonder whether this was not again a speciic kind of religious ofering. Claudian was born in Alexandria. Per talia tendit frigoribus mediis Stilicho loca.
De bello Gothico
Life[ edit ] Claudian was born in Alexandria. He arrived in Rome in and made his mark as a court poet with a eulogy of his two young patrons , Probinus and Olybrius , consuls of He was well rewarded for his political engagement. In fact, he was granted the rank of vir illustris. The Roman senate honored him with a statue in the Roman Forum in
Eugenio R. However, only the ethnographic excursus on the Slavs and Antes Procop. III In a well known passage of this work Procop.