As an historian Procopius is of quite unusual merit, when the generally low literary level of his age is considered. He is industrious in collecting facts, careful and impartial in stating them; his judgment is sound, his reflections generally acute, his conceptions of the general march and movement of things not unworthy of the great events he has recorded. His descriptions, particularly of military ope1'ations, are clear, and his especial fondness for this part of the subject seldom leads him into unnecessary minuteness. The style, although marked by mannerisms, by occasional affectations and rhetorical devices, is on the whole direct and businesslike, nor is the Greek bad for the period in which he wrote. His models are Thucydides and Herodotus. The former he imitates in the maxims ('yv¢'€>/aaa) he throws in and the speeches which he puts into the mouth of the chief actors; the latter in his frequent geographical digressions, in the personal anecdotes, in the tendency to collect and attach some credence to marvellous tales. The speeches are obviously composed by Procopius himself, rarely showing any dramatic variety in their language, but they seem sometimes to convey the substance of what was said; and even when this is not the case they frequently serve to bring out the points of a critical situation. Procopius is almost as much a geographer as an historian, and his descriptions of the people and places he himself visited are generally careful and thorough. Although a warmly patriotic Roman, he does full justice to the merits of the barbarian enemies of the empire, particularly the Ostrogoths; although the subject of a despotic prince, he criticizes the civil and military administration of Justinian and his dealings with foreign peoples with a freedom which gives a favourable impression of the tolerance of the emperor. His chief defects are a somewhat pretentious and at the same time monotonous style, and a want of sympathy and intensity.
The De aedijiciis contains an account of the chief public works executed during the reign of Iustinian down to 558 (in which year it seems to have been composed), particularly churches, palaces, hospitals, fortresses, roads, bridges and other river works throughout the empire. All these are of course ascribed to the personal action of the monarch. If not written at the command of Iustinian (as some have supposed), it is evidently grounded on official information, and is full of gross flattery of the emperor and of the (then deceased) empress. In point of style it is greatly inferior to the Histories-Horid, pompous and affected, and at the same time tedious. Its chief value lies in the geographical notices which it contains. The Aneedota (“ Secret History”) purports to be a supplement to the Histories, containing explanations and additions which the author could not insert in the latter work for fear of Iustinian and Theodora. It is a furious invective against these sovereigns, their characters, personal conduct and government, with attacks on Belisarius and his wife Antonina, and on other noted officials in the civil and military services of the empire. Owing to the ferocity and brutality of the attacks upon Justinian, the authenticity of the Anecdota has often been called in question, but the claims of Procopius to the authorship are now generally recognized. In point of style, the Anecdota is inferior to the H istories, and has the air of being unfinished, or at least unrevised. Its merit lies in the furious earnestness with which it is written, which gives it a force and reality sometimes wanting in the more elaborate books written for publication. The history of Philip of Macedon by Theopompus probably furnished the author with a model.
The best complete edition of Procopius is by I. Haury (Teubner Series, 1905); the Gothic War has been edited by D. Comparetti (1895-1898), with an Italian translation. There are English translations of the History of the Wars, by H. Holcroft (1653); of the Anecdota (1674, anonymous); of the Buildings, by Aubrey Stewart (1888, in Palestine Pilgrims' Text Society). Chief authorities: F. Dahn, Procopius von Cdsarea (1865); W. S. Teutfel in Studien und Charakteristiken (2nd ed., 1889)2 L. Ranke, Weltgeschichte (1883), iv. 2. On the genuineness of the Aneedota cf. ]. B. Bu (who agrees with Ranke in rejecting the authorship of Procopiug A History of the Later Roman Empire (1889). vol. i., and introd. to vol. i. (p. 57) and app.to vol. iv. of his edition of Gibbon's Decline and Fall. For the literature of the subject generally, see C. Krumbacher, Gesehichte der byzantinischen Litteratur (2nd ed., 1897).
PROCOPIUS OF GAZA (c. 465-528 A.D.), Christian sophist and rhetorician, one of the most important representatives of the famous school of his native place. Here he spent nearly the whole of his life teaching and writing, and took no part in the theological movements of his time. The little that is known of him is to be found in his letters and the encomium by his pupil and successor Choricius. He was the author of numerous rhetorical and theological works. Of the former, his panegyric on the emperor Anastasius alone is extant; the description of the church of St Sophia and the monody on its partial destruction by an earthquake are spurious. His letters (162 in number), addressed to persons of rank, friends, and literary opponents, throw valuable light upon the condition of the sophistical rhetoric of the period and the character of the writer. The fragment of a polemical treatise against the Neoplatonist Proclus is now assigned to Nicolaus, archbishop of Methone in Peloponnesus (fl. I2th century). Procopius's theological writings consist of commentaries on the Octateuch, the books of Kings and Chronicles, Isaiah, the Proverbs, the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes. They are amongst the earliest examples of the “ catenic ” (catena, chain) form of commentary, consisting of a series of extracts from the fathers, arranged, with independent additions, to elucidate the portions of Scripture concerned. Photius (cod. 206), while blaming the diffuseness of these commentaries, praises the writer's learning and style, which, however, he considers too ornate for the purpose. Complete editions of the works of Procopius in Migne, Patrologia graeca, lxxxvii; the letters also in Epistolographi graeei, ed. R. Hercher (1873); see also K. Seitz, Die Sehule von Gaza (1892); D. Russos, Tpeis Fagfaioi (Constantinople, 1893); L. Eisenhofer, Procopius von Gaza (1897); further bibliographical notices in C. Krumbacher, Gesehichte der byzantinischen Litteratur (1897), and article by G. Kriiger in Herzog-Hauck's Realeneyclopddie fur protestantische Theologie (1905).
PROCRUSTES (Gr. for “ the stretcher ”), also called POLY-PEMON or DAMASTES, in Greek legend, a robber dwelling in the neighbourhood of Eleusis, who was slain by Theseus. He had two bedsteads (according to some, only one), the one very long, the other very short. When a stranger claimed his hospitality, Procrustes compelled him, if he was tall, to lie down on the short bed, and then cut off his extremities to make him fit. If on the other hand he was short, he was placed on the long bedstead and his limbs pulled out until he died from exhaustion. The “ bed of Procrustes ” has become proverbial. Diod. Sic. iv. 59;, Hyginus, fab. 38; Plutarch, Theseus, II; Pausanias i. 38, 5.
PROCTER, BRYAN WALLER (1787-1874), English poet, was born at Leeds on the 21st of November 1787. He was educated at Harrow, where he had for contemporaries Lord Byron and Sir Robert Peel. On leaving school he was placed in the office of a solicitor at Calne, Wiltshire, remaining there until about 1807, when he returned to London to study law. By the death of his father in 1816 he became possessed of a small property, and soon after entered into partnership with a solicitor; but in 1820 the partnership was dissolved, and he began to write under the pseudonym of “ Barry Cornwall.” After his marriage in 1824 to Miss Skepper, a daughter of Mrs Basil Montague, he returned to his professional work as conveyance, and was called to the bar in 1831. In the following year he was appointed, metropolitan commissioner of lunacy-an appointment annually renewed until his election to the permanent commission constituted by the act of 1842. He resigned office in 1861. He died on the 5th of October 1874. Most of his verse was composed between 1815, when he began to contribute to the Literary Gazette, and 1823, or at latest 1832.
His principal poetical works were: Dramatic Scenes and other Poems (1819), A Sicilian Story (1820), Mirandola, a tragedy performed at Covent Garden with Macready, Charles Kemble and Miss Foote in the leading parts (1821), The Flood of Thessaly (1823). and English Songs (1832). He was also the author of