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Belisarius
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Military Personnel
    (505-March 565)
    Born in Germane (modern-day Sapareva Banya)
    Byzantine general
    Birth name was Flavius Belisarius
    Served under Byzantine Emperor Justinian I
    Appointed to command the Roman army in the East to halt the advances of the Sassanid Empire (527)
    Led the Romans to victory over the Sassanids in the Battle of Dara (530)
    Defeated Persian forces, the next year, in the decisive Battle of Callinicum on the Euphrates (531)
    Major factor in the suppression of the Nika Revolt and riots in Constantinople, preventing Emperor Justinian from being forced from his throne (532)
    Commanded Byzantine forces, on both land and sea, during the Vandalic War (533 - 534)
    Commissioned by the Emperor to conquer and contain the Ostrogothic Kingdom in Italy, and later to fend off Persian advances in Syria, during the Gothic War (535 - 554)
    Last campaign of war was his defeating the Kutrigur Bulgars and driving them back across the Danube river, soon after which he retired from service (559)
    Allegedly spent his final years as a blind old beggar, homeless and constantly dependent on alms
    Depicted in a famous Jacques-Louis David painting, 'Belisarius Begging for Alms' (1781)
    Inspired the tragic three-act opera, by Gaetano Donizetti, 'Belisario' (1820 - 1826)
    Subject of the novels 'Bélisaire,' Jean-François Marmontel (1767), 'Belisarius: A Tragedy,' by Margaretta Faugères (1795), and Robert Graves' 'Count Belisarius' (1938)
    His name sounds like a scientific term for some kind of reptile.
    Putting down the Nika Revolt, he oversaw the killing of close to 30,000 rebels in the Hippodrome.
    He was allegedly an impotent basket case, behind closed doors.
    His wife reportedly cheated on him with their own adopted son, Theodosius (the affair was apparently common knowledge).
    Legend has it, he did try to put his foot down on his wife's incestuous adultery at one point, but the Empress Theodora prevented him from pressing charges against her.
    He did the Empress Theodora's bidding by ousting a Pope installed by the Goths and replacing him with a Roman deacon, an act that haunted the rest of his military career.
    He was tried, convicted, and imprisoned on charges of corruption after his retirement (although he received a pardon from Justinian).
    Historians seriously doubt the legend that Justinian ordered him to be blinded and reduced him to a homeless beggar in the streets of Rome (which served as a template for Classical artists for centuries).
    He is historically viewed as among the 'Last of the Romans.'
    He served as the bodyguard for Justinian's father; Emperor Justin.
    He is the poster child for long-suffering heroes spurned by the ungrateful.
    He is referenced in the works of Melville and Asimov, and he inspired works by Longfellow and Borges.
    His partnership with Justinian increased the size of the Byzantine Empire by close to 50%.
    He is known as 'Justinian's general,' but he butted heads with him frequently, often not attaining his full support.
    He was also deeply unpopular in the Byzantine Imperial Court, which may explain why existing records depict him so unflatteringly (and explains how he could be tried and convicted on trumped-up corruption charges).
    As such, many saw it as fitting that the two died within a less than one year apart from each other, in 565.
    He is frequently grouped with Samson, Homer, and Oedipus (fellow icons of Classical art; blinded, 'fallen heroes').
    His image figured prominently in Medieval/Renaissance art which regarded him as a secular Saint, representative of the poor, abandoned, and downtrodden.
    He was instrumental to the re-conquest of the Mediterranean territory of the former Roman Empire, which had been lost for close to a century.
    His only major biographer made a strong case for the authenticity of the 'blind beggar' legend, based on available primary sources (that it was even remotely plausible was enough for most, though).

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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