Procopius and Thucydides

Defining the Gothic War year




Belisarius, Narses, Justinian, Totila, Witiges, Thucydides, Procopius, Cassiodorus, Jordanes, Agnellus, Continuator of Marcellinus, Rome, Ravenna, Goths, Slavs, siege, war year


Modern understanding of the emperor Justinian’s protracted war against the Gothic regime in Italy and Sicily is based almost entirely on the account of Procopius of Caesarea from 535 to 552. The chronology of the war therefore depends on the interpretation of Procopius’s narrative in the fundamental books by J.B. Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire (1923) and E. Stein, Histoire du Bas-Empire (1949), which underpin all modern accounts. Both Bury and Stein presumed that Procopius’ Gothic war year ran uniformly from the end of June of one year to the end of June of the next. This paper aims to demonstrate that the Procopian Gothic war year did not run at a fixed time from June to June each year, but from the beginning of the annual campaign season (normally March) to the end of the following winter, in clear imitation of his model Thucydides. Also explored are the implications for redating key episodes of the Gothic War.

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How to Cite

Croke, B. “Procopius and Thucydides: Defining the Gothic War Year”. Classica Cracoviensia, vol. 26, Dec. 2023, pp. 7-127, doi:10.12797/CC.26.2023.26.01.