Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Comment on the Legacy of Anastasius

The biggest legacy of the Emperor Anastasius was the defensive walls that he built from the Marmara to the Black Sea. What is often ignored is that Anastasius left behind a surplus in the coffers of the government that enabled later for Justinian to build Hagia Sofia and a large range of other public projects. He also negotiated a treaty with the Persians which enabled a level of stability for Justinian on the eastern frontier, paving the way for Justinian to reconquer some of the lost territory of the Empire.

Why is Anastasius not more widely known, as compared to Justinian? This could be attributed to the lack of an official biographer. Procopius, the official biographer of Justinian, documented his remarkable life. There is evidence that Procopius attributed some of the fortifications that Anastasius built to Justinian. He even made light of the quality of the construction of the long walls that was supervised by Anastasius by indicating that Justinian had to do major repairs to the Wall. The lesson to all politicians is: If you want to more than a footnote in history books, don't forget to hire a biographer that will 'spin' your deeds. Unfortunately, much of what we know about Anastasius comes via the prejudiced view of Procopius.

1 comment:

  1. Well, another problem for Anastasius is that he favored monophysite views which also prevented him from being known among the Eastern Orthodox like Justinian. Also, people forget when Anastasius was emperor, Justinian was just one of the imperial guards.