A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

(the name is Be-lilzar, Sclavonic for "White Prince"), remarkable as being the greatest, if not the only great general, whom the Byzantine empire ever produced. He was born about A. D. 505 (comp. Procop. Goth. 1.5, Pers. 1.12) at Germania, a town of Illyria. (Procop. Vand. 1.11, de Aedif. 4.1.) His public life is so much mixed up with the history of the times, that it need not here be given except in outline, and his private life is known to us only through the narrative of the licentiousness and intrigues of his unworthy wife Antonina in the Secret History of Procopius. He first appears as a young man in the service of Justinian under the emperor Justin I. A. D. 520-527 (Procop. Pers. 1.12), and on the accession of the former, was made general of the Eastern armies, to check the inroads of the Persians, A. D. 529-532 (Procop. Pers. 1.13-21); shortly after which he married Antonina, a woman of wealth and rank, but of low birth and morals, and following the profession of an actress. (Procop. Hist. Arcan. 4, 5.)

The two great scenes of his history were the wars against the Vandals in Africa, and against the Ostrogoths in Italy.