By Prokopios, Anthony Kaldellis

By exposing the perversion, repression, corruption, and injustice on the middle of Justinian's regime, Prokopios' The mystery History destroyed ceaselessly that emperor's popularity because the nice and benevolent ruler of an enormous Byzantine state.

Faithfully rendered the following in blunt and idiomatic English, Prokopios' tell-all is as surprising this present day because it used to be within the 6th century. Kaldellis' titanic advent addresses, between different issues, the ancient history to The mystery History; Prokopios' literary type and significant subject matters; and the relationships among Prokopios, Justinian, and Empress Theodora. Maps, genealogies, a word list, and a range of comparable texts (including excerpts from Prokopios' Wars and Buildings and a number of other modern files) increase and help the studying of this scandalous and suspenseful book.

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If people need to go to the post office or the doctor, or anywhere else at the bottom of the valley, they speak of going to the merkez. Yuva is a mountainous district. The villages cover large areas of steep terrain, and the houses are spread out. The people who live midway up the mountain and lower engage primarily in agricultural activities. The most common crops are corn, hazelnuts, and cabbage. Houses typically sit right above the fields belonging to the family. The people who live higher up, where the terrain is steeper and less amenable to planting, are typically involved in animal husbandry.

Women manage the household and most of the chores associated with the cultivation of various crops. The ubiquitous kofin (large basket), called a sepet in Yuva and described in Meeker’s study of Of, is still strapped to women’s backs all along the Black Sea. Black Sea Turks share certain characteristics with Pontic Greeks as well as their neighbors of the Caucasus. In fact, Black Sea Turks are not the only victims of mistaken identification. 25 They were also famous for their blood feuds, their attachment to weapons, their preoccupation with honor and reputation, and their careful attention to female chastity.

They are found in a different part of town. I was unable to locate a single woman who engaged in both trades. The prostitutes and the suitcase merchants did not criticize one another. They understood that war, national bankruptcy, and civil unrest all put women in situations that they would never choose for themselves, whether they were selling their bodies or selling portable radios and sleeping on a mattress in a marketplace in some foreign country away from their children. They were surviving the best way they could.

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