The Emperor Maurice and His Historian: Theophylact Simocatta on Persian and Balkan Warfare

The Emperor Maurice and His Historian: Theophylact Simocatta on Persian and Balkan Warfare

Hardback Oxford Historical Monographs

By (author) Michael Whitby

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  • Publisher: Clarendon Press
  • Format: Hardback | 400 pages
  • Dimensions: 147mm x 224mm x 28mm | 666g
  • Publication date: 1 April 1993
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0198229453
  • ISBN 13: 9780198229452
  • Illustrations note: 13 maps

Product description

Theophylact Simocatta, the last historian of classical antiquity, has in the past deterred investigators by the idiosyncrasies of his style. Through examination of Theophylact's narrative, and collation with other available evidence, Dr Whitby has unpicked the obscurities, biases, and errors to clear the way for a more accurate appreciation of the events of the reign of Emperor Maurice (582-602). Maurice's reign witnessed great struggles as the Romans attempted to defend their traditional frontiers on the Danube and in Mesopotamia and Armenia. In both areas, Maurice achieved great successes: in the Balkans, migrations of Slavs and invasions by Avars were held in check, if not completely halted; and in the east the emperor reinstated Khusro II, the legitimate Persian king, and attempted to forge a long-term peace. These events are important both in the historical geography of the Balkans and eastern frontier, and for understanding the fate of the post-Justinian Roman Empire. Whitby reveals the History as a work worthy of serious study in its own right as a product of the last flowering of classical Greek literature in antiquity.

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Review quote

'a substantial contribution both to our knowledge of a dark period and to our understanding of how the last Greek historian working in the classical tradition set about his task ... to the student of late antiquity his book will be a mine of information and ideas, and a model of method' Times Literary Supplement 'Whitby writes elegantly, with meticulous documentation.' Times Higher Education Supplement 'This is a most ingenious book which illuminates and elucidates a period of Byzantine history more successfully than more orthodox approaches might have ... a major contribution to this phase of Byzantine history.' Michael Angold, University of Edinburgh, Classical Review 'This is a compreensive study of a much-neglected period ... It is a well-balanced work, with an impressive and useful bibliography.' Richard Harrison, The Greek Gazette 'No one, least of all me, could seriously criticize W.'s style, scholarship or knowledge of the sources. But it is not so much the scholarship of this work that impresses me as W.'s whole approach to the writing of Late Roman (or Late Antique, if you prefer) history. W. has crafted a fine book ... there is little doubt that it will stand as the definitive account of the period and of Theophylact for many years to come.' R.W. Burgess, University of Ottawa, The Ancient History Bulletin 4.5 (1990) 'He is particularly good at military history, and he uses to great effect his excellent grasp of topography, strategy and logistics to supplement, elucidate and correct in the light of all the available evidence.' David Frendo, University College Cork, EHR, Apr.'92 'This book is a model of theological biography. It is written with great clarity and sensitivity for its subject. It also makes a very significant contribution to our knowledge of nineteenth century British theology and to the intellectual and spiritual genesis of arguably its greatest practitioner. David Young presents a fascinating and formidably well researched picture of Unitarian thought and doctrine ... Maurice was a theologian of rare profundity and insight. He has been well served by his latest biographer.' Ian Bradley, University of Aberdeen, Scottish Journal of Theology, 1993

Table of contents

List of maps. List of abbreviations. Part 1 Emperor and author: Maurice the emperor; Theophylact the author. Part 2 The Balkan wars: introduction; the Balkans before 582; the sources; the Balkans in Maurice's reign; the Balkans after 602. Part 3 The Persian war: introduction; geographical and historical setting; the sources; the war under Justin II and Tiberius (572-582); the war in Maurice's reign; aftermath. Part 4 Historiography: Theophylact the historian; the end of traditions. Select bibliography. Index.