The Ancient Library

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On this page: Bedas – Begoe – Belenus – Belesis – Belgius – Belisarius


from whom the Bebryces in Bithynia were be­ lieved to have derived their name. (Eustath. ad Dionys. Perieg. 805.) Others however derived the Bebryces from a hero, Bebryx. (Steph. Byz. s. v. BeSpijKwv.) [L. S.]

BEDAS, a sculptor, the son and pupil of Ly-sippus, sculptured a praying youth (Plin. H. N. xxxiv. 8. s. 19), probably the original of which the fine bronze statue in Berlin is a copy. [W. I.]

BEGOE, an Etruscan nymph, who was believed to have written the Ars fulguritarum, probably the art of purifying places which had been struck by lightning. This religious book was kept at Rome in the temple of Apollo together with the Sibylline books and the Carmina of the Marcii. (Serv. ad Aen. vi. 72.) [L. S.]

BELENUS. [abellio.]

BELESIS or BE'LESYS (BeAetns, Be'Ae<rvs), the noblest of the Chaidaean priests at Babylon, who, according to the account of Ctesias, is said, in conjunction with Arbaces, the Mede, to have overthrown the old Assyrian empire. [arbaces.] Beiesis afterwards received the satrapy of Babylon from Arbaces. (Diod. ii. 24, &c. 28.)

BELGIUS or BO'LGIUS (BoA7tos), the leader of that division of the Gaulish army which invaded Macedonia and Illyria in b. c. 280. He defeated the Macedonians in a great battle, in which Pto­lemy Ceraunus, who had then the supreme power in Macedonia, was killed; but the Gauls did not follow up their victory, and the rest of Greece was spared for a time. (Pans. x. 19. § 4 ; Justin. xxiv. 5.)

BELISARIUS (the name is Beli-tzar, Sclavonic for "White Prince"), remarkable as being the greatest, if not the only great general, whom the Byzantine empire ever produced. Pie was born about A. d. 505 (comp. Procop. Goth. i. 5, Pers. i. 1.2) at Germania, a town of Illyria. (Procop. Vand. i. 11, deAedif. iv. 1.) His public life is so much mixed up with the history of the times, that it need not here be given except in outline, and his private life is known to us only through the narra­tive of the licentiousness and intrigues of his un­worthy wife Antonina in the Secret History of Procopius. He first appears as a young man in the service of Justinian under the emperor Justin I. A, d. 520-527 (Procop. Pers. i. 12), and on the accession of the former, was made general of the Eastern armies, to check the inroads of the Per­sians, a. d. 529-532 (Procop. Pers. i. 13—21); shortly after which he married Antonina, a woman of wealth and rank, but of low birth and morals, and following the profession of an actress. (Procop. Hist. Arccm. 4, 5.)

The two great scenes of his history were the wars against the Vandals in Africa, and against the Os­trogoths in Italy.

1. The African expedition (a. d. 533, 534) was speedily ended by the taking of Carthage, the cap­ture of the Vandal king, Gelimer, and the final overthrow of the Vandal kingdom established in Africa. (Procop. Vand. i. 11, ii. 8.) His triumph in 534 was remarkable as being the first ever seen at Constantinople, and the first ever enjoyed by a subject since the reign of Tiberius. Amongst his captives was the noble Gelimer, and the spoils of the Vandal kingdom contained the vessels of the temple of Jerusalem, that had been carried from Rome to Carthage by Genseric. He also (alone of Roman citizens besides Bonifacius) had



medals struck in his honour, with his head on the reverse (Cedrenus, i. 370), and on Jan. 1, a. D.535, was inaugurated with great splendour as consul, and with a second triumph, conducted however not according to the new imperial, but the old republi­can forms. (Procop. Vand. ii. 9.)

2. The Gothic war consists of two acts, the first (a. d. 535—540), the second (a. d. 544—548). The first began in the claims laid by Justinian to Sicily, and in his demand for the abdication of the feeble Gothic king, Theodatus. It was marked by Belisarius's conquest of Sicily (535) and Naples (537), by his successful defence of Rome against the newly elected and energetic king of the Goths, Vitiges (March, 537—March, 538), and by the capture of Ravenna with Vitiges himself, Dec. 539. (Procop. Goth. i. 5, ii. 30.) He was then recalled by the jealousy of Justinian and the intrigues of rival generals, without even the honours of a triumph. (Procop. Goth. iii. ].)

The interval between the two Gothic wars was occupied by his defence of the eastern frontier against the inroads of the Persians under Nushirvan or Chosroes (541—543) (Procop. Pers. i. 25), from which he was again recalled by the intrigues of the empress Theodora, and of his wife Antonina, and escaped the sentence of death only by a heavy fine, and by his complete submission to his wife. (Procop. Hist. Arcan. 3, 4.)

The second act of the Gothic war, which Belisa-rius undertook in the office of count of the stables, arose from the revolt of the Goths and reconquest of Italy under their new king, Totila, A. d. 541— 544. (Procop. Goth. iii. 2—9.) Belisarius, on ar­riving in Italy, made a vigorous but vain endeavour to raise the siege of Rome (May, 546—Feb. 547)? and then kept in check the hostility of the con­querors, and when they left the city, recovered and successfully defended it against them. (Procop, Goth. iii. 13—24.) His career was again cut short by the intrigues of the Byzantine court, and after a brief campaign in Lucania, he returned from Italy, Sept. A. d. 548 (Procop. Goth. iii. 29—32), and left his victories to be completed by his rival Narses in the complete overthrow of the Ostrogothic king­dom, and the establishment of the exarchate of Ravenna. (Procop. Goth. iv. 21—35.) (a. d. 549 —554.)

The last victory of Belisarius was gained in re­pelling an inroad of the Bulgarians, A. d. 559. (Agath.^^. v. 15-20; Theophanes, pp. 198,199.) In a. d. 563 he was accused of a conspiracy against the life of Justinian, and his fortune was seques­tered. All that is certain after this is, that he died on the 13th of March, A. d. 565. (Theophanes pp. 160, 162.)

It is remarkable that whilst his life is preserved to us with more than usual accuracy—by the fact of the historian Procopius having been his secre­tary (Procop. Pers. i. 12), and having published both a public and private history of the times— the circumstances of his disgrace and death are in­volved in great uncertainty, and historical truth has in popular fame been almost eclipsed by ro­mance. This arises from the termination of the contemporary histories of Procopius and Agathias before the event in question; and in the void thus left, Gibbon (after Alemann) follows the story of John Malala (p. 242), and of Theophanes (pp. 159—162), that he was merely imprisoned for a year in his own palace (a. d. 563, 564) and

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