Ammianus Marcellinus and Procopius of Caesarea: The Eastern Campaigns of Julian and Justinian, 4th and 6th centuries A.D
By Ian Kelso
MA Thesis, Dalhousie University, 1998
Abstract: Ammianus Marcellinus, a historian of the fourth century, and Procopius of Caesarea, in the sixth recorded their time in a way that left us two excellent accounts of eye witnesses. Ammianus’s Res Gestae record the actions of many, but none as well as those of the emperor Julian (361-363 AD). Especially Julian’s brief reign. More importantly his campaign against the Persians was recorded by Ammianus vividly, due to the fact that Ammianus was a staff officer in Julian’s headquarters. This gave him insight into the man and his methods and the ability to write a history that was of a higher quality than most. Ammianus’s classical education also assisted in his writing.
Procopius had a similar experience in his own time, but as a legal adviser on the staff of the leading general, Belisarius. Though he was not a soldier, he was well acquainted with soldiers and their ways. He was present at many of the major battles of the day, which gave him the knowledge he needed to write his works the Bella in 8 books(two on the Persian wars), the De AEdificiis and the Anecdota. All of these, when taken together, help to give a full picture of the people and events. He is the best historian for the emperor of the day, Justinian (527-565 AD), who had grand ideas of re-conquering the western half of the empire, but was delayed by wars against the Persians.
By using both of these historians it is hoped that the Persian campaigns of Julian and Justinian will be made clearer in the context of the emperors and their goals and flaws. The two historians will also be looked at to see what their abilities and skills were and where these skills originated. A source of their inspiration for writing their histories will be sought out as well.