Which Byzantine Ruler Are You?

From Mike Aquilina’s The Way of the Fathers blog, the Which Byzantie Ruler Are You? quiz.

Which am I? Why, Saint Justinian, of course! (He was in mind as I giggled my way through answering the questions!) Here’s Mike’s blurb on this undeniably great emperor:

In the sixth century, Justinian accomplished the brief recovery of the empire’s old territory in the east, in Africa, and in the west. His victories, however, were hard won over the course of decades, and they came at a great cost in human life, not to mention taxation. Paradoxically, Justinian’s military successes probably contributed to the empire’s subsequent decline. The conquered lands were hardly secure, and many were lost in the years after his death. During his reign there was a great flowering of Byzantine culture, whose monuments remain in Istanbul (e.g., Hagia Sophia) and Ravenna. His reconstitution of Roman law, the so-called Justinian Code, is still the basis of civil law in some modern states. Justinian is venerated as a saint in the Orthodox Church.

Next to Justinian’s law code, we have several important different works on this period from a man very close to the Emperor, the consiliarius of the great general Belisarius, Procopius of Caesarea, who wrote the extraordinary Wars in eight books (Loeb edition: Books 1-2, Books 3-4, Books 5-6.15, Books 6.16-7.35, Books 7.36-8) chronicling Justinian’s reign and Belisarius’ remarkably successful campaigns, and the Buildings (in a volume with a general index to all the Loeb Procopius volumes), describing Justinian’s magnificent building program which included the Great Church, the Hagia Sophia. He also wrote the unfortunate Anekdota, often called The Secret History (Loeb volume), an embittered attack on Justinian, Theodora, the Church, the State and apparently anything else that entered Procopius’ sight. (Procopius seems not to have been a happy man.) Ostensibly a continuation or supplement to the Wars, the work is marred by the bitterness of its invective, and sometimes outright viciousness. This makes it, owing to the delight in gossipy trash so reflective of popular culture, the most well-known of his works. Of course.


  1. truly, he was in many aspects a great emperor, but he was also one of the most effective ones who worked for Church’s subordination to the state. and though i could say that that subordination did a lot of good to her (of course in a very indirect way–we avoid “papocaesarism”), but, on the other hand, since him it became impossible any other messianic character for her than the political one. (even in the monasticism.)

    if the great monuments of the past used as their main mortar slaves’ blood; St. Sophia’s church’s main raw material (maybe) was Church’s messianic-freedom’s suspension.

    best wishes

  2. Thanks for your comment Vassili! We have, of course, had one messiah, and don’t really need any more do we? Whatever happened then, the Church hasn’t quite minded, and absolutely disagreed with Procopius’ opinions. Both Justinian and Theodora are Saints, after all! St Justinian has left us various religious writings including several kontakia still in use, as I recall, though I don’t remember when during the year. And though their early lives and careers may not be too savory, I think there must have been quite a great deal more of repentance done out of the spotlight than in it for them to be recognized as Saints by the Church. Rulership is a tremendous burden, and I can only hope that if I ever (God forbid!) suffered from such an extreme trial as being the ruler of such an empire that I could do even half as well as Emperor St Justinian did, and with half the nobility that Empress St Theodora, the former actress, displayed.

    But thank you for your comments. May God always strengthen our fathers the monks!

  3. Kevin,
    If I might trouble you for some advice … I’m looking for an overview on the Eastern Roman Empire between about the 4-6th centuries until it

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