A thoroughly riveting history of a truly admirable man both in character and deeds A quick sketch of Belisarius As a military leader he was enterprising, firm, and fearless his conception was clear, and his judgment rapid and decisive His conquests were achieved with smaller means than any other of like extent recorded in history He frequently experienced reverses in the field, but in no case did he fail without some strong and sufficient reason for his failure, such as the mutiny of his soldiers, the overwhelming number of his antagonists, or his total want of necessary supplies and it may be observed of him, as of Arminius, that sometimes beaten in battle he was never overcome in war His superior tactics covered his defeats, retrieved his losses, and prevented his enemies from reaping the fruits of victory and it is particularly mentioned that even in the most dangerous emergencies he never lost his presence of mind.Among the circumstances which contributed most strongly to his success were the kindness which his adversaries met with at his hands, and the strict discipline which he maintained among his soldiers The moderation of Belisarius appears theentitled to praise from the fierceness and disorder usual in his age It was his first care after every victory to extend mercy and protection to the vanquished, and to shield their persons and, if possible, their property from injury During a march the trampling of the corn fields by the cavalry was carefully avoided, and the troops, as Procopius tells us, seldom ventured even to gather an apple from the trees, while a ready payment to the villagers for any provisions that they bought made them bless the name of Belisarius and secured to the Eoman camp a plentiful supply To the soldiers who transgressed these rules the general was stern and unforgiving no rank could defy, no obscurity could elude his justice and, because he punished severely, he had to punish but seldom But while the licentious and turbulent were repressed by the strong arm of Belisarius, his liberality cheered and animated the deserving The gift of a gold bracelet or collar rewarded any achievement in battle the loss of a horse or weapon was immediately supplied out of his private funds, and the wounded found in him a father and a friend His private virtues promoted and confirmed the discipline of his men none ever saw him overcome with wine, and the charms of the fairest captives from the Goths or Vandals could not overcome his conjugal fidelity Lord Mahon The Life of Belisarius Great readI enjoyed reading this book and the author did a pretty decent job of adhering to the facts but it could be discern that he did had a favorable disposition towards this tragic hero of the Byzantine Empire, Belisarius Enjoyed this book Jon Coulston s introduction describes this as a work of meticulous scholarship penned by a British aristocrat with the resources and leisure for travel and research Philip Stanhope a k a Lord Mahon was 24 years old when The Life of Belisarius was published, and it is clearly a commendable, if flawed, effort The authorial voice is positively enslaved by a compulsion to mimic Edward Gibbon Even so, it s a good definitive source for the perspectives of mildly pompous, 19th Century English dandies on the life and times of Belisarius.Mahon is churlishly misogynistic a fault which Coulston attempts to minimize by ascribing it to his Mahon s era rather than his person , as well as nakedly pro Christian Even Gibbon acknowledged the inherent superstitious quality of all religions Mahon finds it only in non Christian actors and occasionally in those Christian sects of which he personally disapproves These are, in themselves, petty criticisms However, throughout his book Mahon relies heavily upon his own biases and prejudices to explain historical causation.Nevertheless, it is an engrossing and entertaining book in no small measure because of the subject himself Belisarius may not have bequeathed to posterity enough material to construct a first rate psychological biography, but his actions precluded the necessity His story would be impressive in any telling of it. The author was 24 when he wrote this To me this is incredible, but evenincredible is that Lord Mahon s youth only helped his creative energies, resulting in one of the best narratives on the life of Belisarius, Rome s last great general Impassioned and powerful, the story is grand in scope, shifting from Persia to Africa, Italy and the Balkans, all the while exploring human nature Nowhere does the author, Lord Mahon of the British Empire, deal in half measures His prose is carefully constructed but forceful, loaded with koans that every philosopher and leader should try and remember Mahon is not easily categorized politically He criticizes almost all equally and speaks with a humanist wisdom often forgotten today Take these quotes as demonstrative Like most men, when unjustly condemned, they soon sunk to the level of their reputation T hey had lost the confidence of success, which, in soldiers, is the surest means to its attainment, while, in generals, it is the common forerunner of rashness and defeat If Gelimer, at the time, could really divest himself of useless sorrow for his throne, he far surpassed in wisdom and in happiness the greater number of mankind, who seldom enjoy any object during its possession, and only become alive to its value from the moment they have lost it The recollection of the grievous and distracted government of the western emperors might have taught the citizens of Rome affection to their Gothic rulers, could one generation ever profit by the experience of the last Lord Mahon was what every rich nob with too much time on their hands should aspire to be a human being who leaves a positive mark on his world Inevitably some may disagree, but Belisarius himself might fall into that niche too This book benefits immensely from another often missed feature the forward Jon Coulson adds some perspective to Mahon s work, but rather than using this forward to bash an 19th CE writer, let s view it as another reason to buy this book I like this quote particularly Of course one audience s praise of architectural glories is another s condemnation of ruinous building expenditure, but it would take an inhumanly bitter and twisted accountant not to be affected by the Church of the Holy Wisdom of God Hagia Sophia xi You will get two great authors for the price of one. The Life of Belisarius is really just a retelling of the works of Prokopios and Agathias, with a heavy Victorian slant The scholarship is shallow, and the writing is loaded with Gibbonisms, but nonetheless it still maintains some commendable features The narrative, while loaded with all sorts of silly judgments that have no place amongst scholarly works, is very easy to follow Coulston s introduction is very good, and he acknowledges the faults of the work he is writing the preface for The maps are generally useless, being much to small to see anything, and placed at random places in the book, making it very hard to find them once again.Nonetheless, I can t bring myself to give it less than 3 stars While it is shallow, extremely biased, and has virtually no support material, the narrative is very readable The modern reader should be able to see through most of the Victorian Georgian mindset If you want to write an essay, just go and get Prokopios and Agathias and Malalas and Scholastikos if you re a little braver If you just want some light reading on the Justinianic period, this is a fine book It does not take an advanced student to see past Mahon s faults as a historian. I m naming my first born son Belisarius.He ll be so bitter.Unless he gets the ancient history gene. An excellent biography of a great man Belisarius, brilliant and ever loyal to the empire, reconquered italy and north africa and reformed the Roman Empire, then defended the empire from Persia, then went back to Italy Though he was given no support practically no troops or equipment he was able to win victories and the survival of the Byzantine empire His reconquest of Africa did likely pave the way for the muslim invasion some centuries later, as he was never able to hold on to and organize the province, but there was no way he could have known of that at the time He was offered the crown of the Western Empire, but declined it perhaps he should have taken it Hoton s writing is clear and he clearly researched the primary sources Hoton absolutely hates Empress Theodora although history has softened on her in recent years, perhaps justly , but this is a minor quibble A book worth reading about a great man who was unfairly treated by his contemporaries and who should be recognized by us. Serving The Byzantine Emperor Justinian During The Th Century AD Belisarius Defeated A Superior Persian Force That Threatened To Extinguish Constantinople His Small Army Next Drove The Vandals Out Of The Ancient Roman Provinces Of North Africa And Forced The Visigoths To Retreat From Italy, Returning Rome To The Emperor For The Final Time His Ability To Achieve Victory Against Overwhelming Odds And His Fairness To Both His Own Troops And Those Of His Enemies Became Legendary Despite His Successes, Justinian Recalled Belisarius And, Swayed By Jealous Advisers, Accused The General Of Conspiring To Overthrow Him Although Innocent, He Was Publicly Humiliated And Stripped Of His Rank But When A Massive Army Of Barbarians Moved Against Constantinople And The Citizenry Panicked In Fear, They Turned To Their Only True Hero, Belisarius The Forsaken General Donned His Armor, Called Out His Trusted Veterans, And Repulsed The Barbarian Horde But Instead Of Showing Gratitude, Justinian Banished Him From The CityConsidered Among The Greatest Generals Of All Time And Studied Later For His Innovative Battle Tactics And Unconventional Strategy, Belisarius Is Credited With Reclaiming The Lost Glory Of Rome And Helping To Preserve Constantinople, Whose Influence Would Continue For Centuries Lord Mahon S Biography, The First Scholarly History Of This Remarkable Figure, Combines The Adventure Of A Great Epic Novel With The Engrossing Story Of A Man Who, Despite Injustices, Remained Loyal To The End Edited And Introduced By Historian Jon C N Coulston, This New And Retypeset Edition, The First In ThanYears, Will Allow The Modern Reader To Discover One Of History S Most Intriguing Figures
Philip Henry Stanhope, 5th Earl Stanhope FRS 30 January 1805 24 December 1875 , styled Viscount Mahon between 1816 and 1855, was a British politician and historian.
- 256 pages
- The Life Of Belisarius
- Philip Henry Stanhope
- 08 August 2019 Philip Henry Stanhope