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New Medieval Books: Procopius of Caesarea: The Persian Wars: A Historical Commentary

Procopius of Caesarea: The Persian Wars: A Historical Commentary

By Geoffrey Greatrex

Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 978-1-107-5322-9

The History of the Wars by Procopius of Caesarea is considered the most important source about the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (527-565). This work focuses on the first two books from that History, namely The Persian Wars, and gives the reader detailed comments and explanations. It goes paragraph by paragraph, adding context and pointing out how Procopius is creating this work.


The Commentary seeks to offer the reader an elucidation of Procopius’s text, touching on matters both historical and historiographical. I have often accordingly separated my introduction to larger sections of the work, discussing initially the events in question, then Procopius’s handling of them in comparison to that of other sources. There are also remarks on some literary for philological points in a text; I am in no doubt, however, that these could be multiplied and improved by those with greater expertise in this domain.


Who is this book for?

This book complements Greatrex’ translation of The Persian Wars, which was published at the same time by Cambridge University Press. However, this book also works on its own, as readers can consult many of the other translations of Procopius. It is aimed at the historian who focuses on this part of Byzantine history and one needs to be very familiar with Procopius to find it useful.

The Author:

Geoffrey Greatrex is a professor of Classics at the University of Ottawa and one of the most important historians of Justinian and Procopius. Many of his previous books and articles are about the Byzantine wars with the Persian Empire, and this current pair of books, offering a translation and commentary on The Persian Wars, feel as if this is his magnum opus.


You can listen to him speaking on the topic: Procopius and the Persians: History, Fable or Morality Tale?

You can learn more about his research on Geoffrey’s page.

You can learn more about this book on the publisher’s website

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