, an ancient Greek historian of the sixth century, was born at Caesarea in Palestine, and went thence to Constantinople in the time of the emperor Anastasius whose esteem he obtained, as well as that of Justin the first, and Justinian. His profession was that of a rhetorician and pleader of causes. He was advanced to be secretary to Belisarius, and attended that renowned general in the wars of Persia, Africa, and Italy. He afterwards was admitted into the senate, and became prefect or governor of the city gt Constantinople; where he seems to have died, somewhat above sixty, about the year 560. His history contains eight books; two, of the Persian war, which are epitomized by Photius, in the sixty-third chapter of his “Bibliotheca;” two, of the wars of the Vandals; and four, of that of the Goths; of all which there is a kind of abridgment, in the preface of Agathias, who began his history where Procopius left off. Besides these eight books, Suidas mentions a ninth, which comprehends matters not before published, and is therefore called his avExSbra, or indita. Vossius thought that this book was lost but it has since been published, and gone through many editions. Many learned men have been of opinion, that this is a spurious work, and falsely ascribed to Procopius; and cannot be persuaded, that he, who in the eight books represented Justinian, Theodora, and Belisarius, in a very advantageous light, should in this ninth have made such a collection of particulars as amounts to an invective against them and Le Vayer was so sensibly affected with this argument, that he declares all Procopius’ s history to be ridiculous, if ever so little credit be given to the calumnies of this piece. Fabricius, however, sees no reason, why this secret history tnayhot have been written by Procopius; and he produces several examples, and that of Cicero amongst them, to shew that nothing has been more usual, than fur writers to take greater liberties in their private accounts, than they can | venture to introduce in what was designed for the public. There is another work of Procopius, still extant, entitled “KTi<7/xaT<z, sive de sedificiisconditis vel restauratis auspicio Justiniani Imperatoris Hbri vi.” which, with his eight books of history, were first renewed in Greek by Hoeschelius in 1607 for the book of anecdotes, though published in 1624, was not added to these, till the edition of Paris, 1662, in folio, when they were all accompanied with Latin versions.

The learned have been much divided, nor are they yet agreed, about the religion of Procopius some contending that he was an Heathen, some that he was a Christian, and some that he was hoth Heathen and Christian: of which last opinion was the learned Cave. Le Vayer declares for the Paganism of Procopius, and quotes the following passage from his first book of the “Wars of the Goths,” which, he says, is sufficient to undeceive those who considered him as a Christian historian. “I will not trouble myself,” says he, speaking of the different opinions of Christians, “to relate the subject of such controversies, although it is not unknown to rne because I hold it a vain desire to comprehend the divine nature, and understand what God is. Human wit knows not the things here below; how then can it be satisfied in the search after divinity I omit therefore such vain matter, and which only the credulity of man causes to he respected; content with acknowledging, that there is one God full of bounty, who governs us, and whose power stretches over the universe. Let every one therefore believe what he thinks fit, whether he be a priest and tied to divine worship, or a man of a private and secular condition.Fabricius sees nothing in this inconsistent with the soundness of Christian belief, and therefore is not induced by this declaration, which appeared to Le Vayer, and other learned men, to decide against Procopius’s Christianity. This, however, whatever the real case may be, seems to have been allowed on all sides, that Procopius was at least a Christian by name and profession; and that, if his private persuasion was not with Christians, he conformed to the public worship, in order to be well with the emperor Justinian.

As an historian, he deserves an attentive reading, having written of things which he knew with great exactness. Suidas, after he had given him the surname of Illustrious, calls him rhetorician and sophister as perhaps he seems to have been too much for an historian. He is copious but his copiousness is rather Asiatic than Athenian, and has in | it more of superfluity than true ornament. It may not be improper to mention, that Grotius made a Latin version of Procopius’s two books of the wars of the Vandals, and of the four books of the wars with the Goths a good edition of which was published at Amsterdam in 1655, 8vo. 1


Cave, vol. I. —Vossius de Hist. Graec. Fabric. Bibl. Grace. Blount’s Censura. —Saxii Onomast.