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How Do We Know They Were Telling the Truth The inscription on the reverse of the radiate of Aurelian illustrated at right proclaims that hi si Restorer of the World How believable is his claim Did he really restore the world th the Roman Empire and people Follow the link to read the article and judge for yourself Objectivity is a thorny problem when it comes to interpreting ancient sources In many if not most cases there is only one surviving account of any particular event emperor or situation That person may have been highly opinionated and have had a great personal stake in the events he or she describes Indeed the most interesting ancient writers were either highly one-sided or wrote about the social problems and scandals of their day Anna Comnena writing in the Eleventh Century makes it very clear that she is praising the good deeds of her father the Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus and her Alexiad exalts the Comnenus family name and very vehemently blackens the name of their enemies Tacitus clearly displays his dislike of the imperial system and his greater dislike of civil wars in his Histories and his Annals Sometimes an author will confuse us even more by doing a total flip-flop on an issue Procopius first writes about Justinians re-conquest of Africa and Italy in the Sixth Century with glowing praise in his books on Justinians wars then turns around in The Secret History and blasts Justinian and his empress Theodora and makes his top generals look like fools Modern historians still cannot fathom his motives in this and are having trouble trying to decide which accounts of Procopius are closer to the truth to this day In fact a reasonable argument can be made for the position that no writer can be truly objective because the filters through which we all view events and people are colored by our own experiences and the culture within
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