Flavius Belisarius, was one of the greatest generals of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire. He was instrumental to Emperor Justinian’s ambitious project of reconquering much of the Mediterranean territory of the former Western Roman Empire, which had been lost less than a century previously.
According to a story that gained popularity during the Middle Ages, Justinian is said to have ordered Belisarius’ eyes to be put out, and reduced him to the status of homeless beggarnear the Pincian Gate of Rome condemned to asking passers-by to “give an oblus to Belisarius” before pardoning him.
One of the defining features of Belisarius’ career was his success despite the little or no support he received from Justinian. He is also among a select group of men considered to be the “Last of the Romans”.
Image is Bélisaire, by François-André Vincent (1776).