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Procopius: The Secret History (Penguin Classics)

The Secret History - Procopius Forget everything you thought you knew about the Imperial court of 6th century Byzantium!NEW! From the mild-mannered historian who brought you [b:The History of the Wars|268692|History of the Wars, Volume I Books 1-2. (Persian War)|Procopius|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347364070s/268692.jpg|1198219] series, Procopius's disillusioned tell-all The Secret History gives you the lowdown on what was REALLY going on in the palace of Emperor Justinian! Constantinople's most-lauded historian pulls off the kid gloves and tells it like it was: the depravity, the corruption, the scandal; NO HOLDS BARRED! Don't trust the official party-line histories, or an outsider's opinion; take it from somebody who knew and lived among these rulers, and saw them warts-and-all every day!Emperor JustinianOfficial History says: Nephew of Emperor Justin, and successor to him on the Imperial throne. Best known for the beautiful and enduring buildings he commissioned throughout the capital city, as detailed in Procopius's adoring book [b:On Buildings|478463|On Buildings. General Index|Procopius|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348055338s/478463.jpg|10207186].Procopius says: THIS GUY WAS JUST THE WORST!Take every bad habit and character failing you can think of, ball them all up into one man, and that's basically this guy. He acts without thinking, he makes decrees before he has all the facts, he talks about things he doesn't know, he swears oaths and then doesn't keep his word, he takes bribes, he always withdraws money from the Treasury and never once makes a deposit to grow the Imperial wealth... he's just about the worst person you could pick to be an emperor. His favorite hobbies, apparently, include fucking up anything that’s working correctly, shitting all over Roman traditions, and devising new ways of stealing the choicest estates of the nobility for himself.He invaded Libya and killed, like, a third of the people FOR NO GOOD REASON! Those people could have paid taxes, yo! On another occasion (p.130), he started an unneccessary conflict against the Vandals, in which -by my rough estimate- one million million (i.e. a trillion) innocent persons lost their lives.Under his administration, the streets of Byzantium aren't safe. He pretty much doesn't give a fuck if roving gangs steal the beautiful brooches from upper crust ladies, or threaten fair-minded men and the elderly with daggers. "WTF do I care? I'm JUSTINIAN, bitches! Ain't no skin off my nose."Also: For some reason- God only knows why- he has a particularly devoted following among partisans who call themselves "The Blue". They're a bunch of lawless hoods, who fuck other men’s' wives and sons, but Justinian could give a rat's ass about that. It's easy to spot Blues on the street, because they are known by their favored hair style. Here, let me describe it to you (p.72):”The hair on the front of the head they cut right back to the temples, allowing the growth behind to hang down to its full length in a disorderly mass, like the Massagetae. That is why they sometimes called this the Hunnish style.” Sound familiar? Yeah, that's right; Justinian was huge with the mullet crowd.__________________________________________Empress TheodoraOfficial History says: Loving wife of Justin, and a strong co-ruler of the Empire, Theodora was also possessed of a legendary beauty which was admired throughout the known world. (Admittedly, it doesn't come across so well in mosaic.)Procopius says: THIS BITCH IS CRAZY!When she gets in one of her moods, clear out, because she’s been known to have servants’ tongues cut out for no reason. She had her best friend’s son tortured just because it suited her fancy. She had a dungeon constructed beneath her living quarters, where she had numerous people- citizens off the street, former friends, government advisors- you name it- detained… some of them for years. One of her husband’s trusted councilors was locked up in a pitch black maze there for two years. Servants would occasionally throw meat inside, like he was some kind of animal, but everybody was forbidden to speak with him. She forbade anybody to ask about his whereabouts, or how he was doing, so after a while, people kind of assumed he died down there. Then, one day –out of nowhere- she commanded the Master at Arms to go down and find him, and if he was still living, to give him his freedom. The poor guy was filthy and emaciated, and nearly insane from the isolation, malnourishment, and the general way he had so suddenly been mistreated. The palace staff washed him off, gave him fresh clothes, and sent him home- where he died two weeks later. Theodora pretty much co-ruled with her husband Justinian, and was every bit as corrupt and capricious. She and he used to have a sort of good cop/bad cop act they’d do, where if they wanted to steal a nobleman’s land, one of them would call him to the palace, and say “[my spouse] is furious with you! I don’t know what you did. [s]he wants to have you hanged this very afternoon! Arrange your affairs, because this is your last day on Earth.” The nobleman would be crazy with fear, wondering what he did, and would beseech them to go find out what the misunderstanding was. They’d come back and say [s]he is mad with rage, but I convinced him[/her] to spare your life if you donate to him[/her] your lovely villa on the lake (or whatever). The nobleman would gladly sign it over, and even thank them for sparing his life. Then Justinian and Theodora would have a good laugh over what a sucker the nobleman was, and set about impounding his estate. Oh, did I mention what a slut Theodora was? Yeah- Antonina had nothing on her! Judge for yourself, here are some excerpts from the book:True except: "There was not a particle of modesty in the little hussy, and no one ever saw her taken aback: she complied with the most outrageous demands without the slightest hesitation, and she was the sort of girl who if somebody walloped her or boxed her ears would make a jest of it and roar with laughter; and she would throw of her clothes and exhibit naked to all and sundry those regions, both in front and behind, which the rules of decency require to be kept veiled and hidden from masculine eyes.She used to tease her lovers by keeping them waiting, and by constantly playing about with novel methods of intercourse she cold always bring the lascivious to her feet; so far from waiting to be invited by anyone she encountered, she herself by cracking dirty jokes and wiggling her hips suggestively would invite all who came her way, especially if they were still in their teens. Never was anyone so completely given up to unlimited self indulgence. Often she would go to a bring-your-own-food dinner party with ten young men or more, all at the peak of their physical powers, and with fornication as their chief object in life, and would lie with all her fellow diners in turn the whole night long, reducing every last of them in copulation to exhaustion, even if they be thirty or more; and even so she could not satisfy her lust."Later in the text..."And though she brought three openings into service, she often found fault with Nature, grumbling because Nature had not made the openings in her nipples wider than is normal, so that she could devise another variety of intercourse in that region."Um.... yeah....Still, I have to admit: she was pretty hot. __________________________________________BelisariusOfficial History says: Badass Roman General, sometimes called the "Last Roman General", he was first councilor and eventually heir to Emperor Justinian. Procopius says: PUSSYWHIPPED JELLYWORM! Here's the man who showed it's possible to be a tough-guy Roman General and STILL manage to catch the late train to Loserville! He adopts a son, Theodosius, whom his slut wife Antonina immediately proceeds to fuck in every room of the palace, even giving the servants a free sex show. (Trust me; watching Antonina get it on goes with the territory of living in the palace. I think we’ve all been extras in her personal porno shows, at one time or another.) When the cuckold General CATCHES HER IN THE ACT, she explains it away to his satisfaction! WAAA?!?!? How do you find mother and son naked between incestuous sheets, and allow it to be "explained away"?!!??? What could she have possibly have said? "He was just helping me measure the inside of my vagina????" Nope. No way. Sad to say, the ball-less wonder Belisarius would do any, any, ANY thing to avoid confrontation with Antonina. As a result: he plays her fool as she rides bone with every willing dick in Byzantium. In one particularly horrible incident, a servant has sympathy on him, and shows him proofs of another infidelity. When he comes to Antonina with the evidence, she twists his mind with magic, to the point that he agrees to have the servant's tongue ripped out and ground into fish food, for telling him such lies. I don't need to tell you: the servant was honest.Later, once General Beliserius had been completely sissified, Empress Theodora and Antonina devised a plan to strip him of his wealth. Theodora made it known he had fallen into her ill favor, and that she was resolute he should be executed. He hid in his chambers, shaking like a child and crying. Then she dispatched a letter to him, saying that Antonina had interceded on his behalf, and convinced her (Theodora, that is) that he should be allowed to live. Theodora says she reluctantly agreed, but on the condition that he becomes Antonina's slave, and sign all his wealth over to her. With tears of gratitude for his life, the pathetic shell of a once-great man eagerly did so. How do you respect something like that?Ultimately, his circumstances in marriage were so well known, even slaves and eunuchs would laugh and mock Belisarius to his face, so he volunteered to resume his services as a General, and went off to fight the Ostrogoths in Italy. He did so at great peril to himself, just to be away from the embarrassment of life in the Imperial court. Sadly, his skills as a General had eroded, from the many years living in luxury in the capital city, so he had little success. In five years trying, he achieved not a single victory.Oh, and he was a shitty father too: he let his adopted son Theodosius harass and belittle his biologic son Photeus, to the point Photeus left town. __________________________________________AntoninaOfficial History says: Adoring wife and faithful advisor to General Belisarius.Procopius says: LYING WHORE! This ungrateful little gold digger was a prostitute from the earliest possible age, and gave herself up to no less than three of the most obscene vices imaginable... two of which I can not even profane these pages to describe to you! Given her kaleidoscope of sexual depravities, it should be no surprise to find incest on her menu as well. That's right; she whiled away many an afternoon in the palace, balling her stepson, Theodosius. But of course her infidelities extended well beyond him; by all accounts, she saw more ass than Mick Jagger.And if that wasn't bad enough, the little hussy was a comedienne! That's right; her parents were in the theater, and she used to get on stage and tell JOKES for the audience's pleasure! If popular rumor is to be believed, she was also friends with magicians. What does THAT say about a person's character?!__________________________________________Emperor JustinOfficial History says: A swashbuckling adventurer, folk hero, and maybe-pirate in his younger days, he trod an unlikely course to the Imperial crown. Uncle to Emperor Justinian, his successor.Procopius says: MORON.Couldn't even write his own name on official documents.A doddering old fool by the time he finally attained the imperial throne; his best days were WAY behind him. They shoulda' given it to somebody else...PLUS: married to a former slave... and not even just any slave, but a FOREIGN SLAVE, Lupicinia!! Is this the best we can do for Emperor? Gimme a fuckin' break.__________________________________________Best. Book. from Classical Antiquity. Ever.-BB