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Count Belisarius Paperback – October 1, 1982


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Paperback, October 1, 1982
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (October 1, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374517398
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374517397
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 4.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,211,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert Ranke Graves (1895-1985) was a British poet, novelist, and critic. He is best known for the historical novel I, Claudius and the critical study of myth and poetry The White Goddess.

More About the Author

ROBERT GRAVES (1895-1985) was an English poet, translator, and novelist, one of the leading English men of letters in the twentieth century. He fought in World War I and won international acclaim in 1929 with the publication of his memoir of the First World War, Good-bye to All That. After the war, he was granted a classical scholarship at Oxford and subsequently went to Egypt as the first professor of English at the University of Cairo. He is most noted for his series of novels about the Roman emperor Claudius and his works on mythology, such as The White Goddess.

Customer Reviews

New readers would likely decide that Graves' writing style is a bit dry and cumbersome.
Frankland S. Strickland
So if you have not read Count Belisarius I can without hesitation recommend the book as some of the finest writing of Robert Graves.
David A. Wend
The characters feel more like stereotypes or cardboard cut-outs than real breathing people.
Norse Victorian

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 19, 1997
Format: Hardcover
If you loved "I, Claudius" please read this book as well! It's about the sixth century Byzantine general Belisarius in the service of the great emperor Justinian. Belisarius is the scorge of the Vandals, the Persians and the Goths, but they are not the only enemies he has. Back in Constantinople the emperor, jealous of his succes, is continuously plotting against his loyal subject. If it weren't for the friendship between Belisarius' wife and the empress Theodora, things would have looked much bleaker for the Roman empire because Belisarius is doing just fine in kicking the barbarians back to the frontiers of the old empire. Fans of historical novels and Graves will find much to enjoy here and in the process learn a lot about a relatively unknown period in the history of the Roman empire, namely the one after the fall of the Western Empire and between the actual Byzantine period. This is a period when the emperors in Constantinople still considered themselves to be masters of the entire mediterranean, if not in actuality , then at least in name and constantly strove to reassert their authority. In conclusion this is a real pearl and not to be misssed by fans of Graves or for that matter by anybody interested in reading great historical novels.

Remco Groeneveld
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This was a fine book by a great author. While "Goodbye to All That" undoubtedly was Graves' best work, "Count Belisarius" runs a close second. Graves takes us on a journey through the unbelievable achievements of this extradorinarily virtuous man who was so little appreciated by his emperor. Graves puts his own spin on some of the historical events in the novel - or at least he disagrees with some earlier historians - but the novel is well written and gives a great insite into the causes for Rome's decline and eventual collapse.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By cecilia on December 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book may not be one of Graves' best but in the spirit of Gibbon, he captures his sources well. However, for entertainment and a more immediate sense of the history, you may find it more worth your while to read Graves' source: Procopius, The Wars (not The Secret History!). It is less sentimental and gives a more edgy account of Belisarius' struggles and incomprehensible end.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By History Major on April 26, 2011
Format: Unknown Binding
Since I was a little kid I was always fascinated by the Roman and Byzantine Empires, in particular the latter. My interest in Byzantium was because it was a subject that was merely grazed over by my history teachers where as weeks and weeks were spent on Ancient Greece and Rome. Byzantium had an extremely interesting overview: a wealthy and powerful successor to the great Roman empire, beautiful archicture, defender of Christiandom, a long history, barely surviving the Muslim conquests, and even an attempt against all odds to reconquer the West. So began my interest in Byzantine history and I was thrilled to find that Robert Graves, author of one of my favorite novels, I Claudius, had written on the subject of Belisarius, widely regarded as one of history's most talented generals who undertook a massive campaign of conquest with a puny, albeit very well trained, army and repeatedly defeated armies of vastly numerical superiority.

The novel is written from the perspective of the Eunuch slave of Antonina, the cunning wife of the protaganist, Belisarius. The narrative reads much similar to I Claudius, with an almost endless ammount of historical background information on the subjects of religious discussion, relationships between the royal family, foreign affairs, etc. Graves' style, if I can describe this correctly, is almost similar to a classical story teller like Homer. His narrative contains numerous stories within stories. For example his backround on the relationships between the Roman and Persian Imperial families and his background on the families of Antonina and Theodora feature an almost inumerable ammount of tales featuring characters whose names and issues are not important in the least the main narrative.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Frankland S. Strickland on March 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
I've read through quite a few reviews here and can't wholeheartedly disagree with most of them. It is true that the plot of this novel can get a bit tedious, and I also agree that the character development is a bit lacking, especially when compared to "I, Claudius" or "Claudius The God . . . " For what it is though, a history of the life and times of the Byzantine Empire's most able general, it is quite good.

This novel is certainly not a good place to start for those new to Robert Graves. New readers would likely decide that Graves' writing style is a bit dry and cumbersome. No, this is really a novel for the seasoned Graves scholar---and honestly, only for those who have a genuine interest in the Eastern Roman Empire.
For those who do, however, this is an absolute treasurebook. In fact, a script of this novel would be suitable material for a History Channel documentary while his others were obviously suitable for the BBC.

It would probably be unfair to compare "Count Belisarius" to the likes of the two Claudian novels, but comparisons are made nonetheless. For the character of Claudius, Graves obviously had to "fill in some blanks." In doing so, he truly brings the character to life. This is not to say, however, that Graves took too many poetic liberties in developing the character---quite the contrary. Graves was, for all practical purposes, an historian. In other words, he always did his homework and when he does have to fill in bits of missing information, he does so in a way that one might logically expect that character to behave/react/decide etc. The same can be said for Belasarius. With Belisarius, however, Graves did not have to be nearly as "creative" as with Claudius, since the details of Belasarius' life are more concrete.
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