Procopius and political realism
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 19:02 authored by Paris Antoniades
This thesis examines the political philosophy of Procopius of Caesarea, a Late Antique historian who, in his Wars of Justinian, wrote of the wars conducted by the Roman emperor Justinian during the sixth century A.D. The concept of political realism may invoke a modern interpretation; however, this term will be defined by the parameters of power and morality based on the political philosophy of the classical Greek historian, Thucydides. It is well known that Thucydides influenced the literary style of Procopius as many passages from Procopius’ Wars allude to Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War. Thucydides’ concepts have arguably been utilised by modern realists, much in the same way Procopius used Thucydides’ political philosophy as a basis for his own interpretation of politics. Like Thucydides, we will show that Procopius believed that morality and justice would restrain the excessive use of power. Passages that will help us understand Procopius’ concepts will include the siege of Naples by Belisarius in which the moral restraint of power was debated and the siege of Rome by the Goths which revealed the amoral use of power. These passages will be compared to several of Thucydides passages such as the Melian Dialogue and the Mytilenean Debate.