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In the historical novel, Count Belisarius written in 1938, novelist and poet, Robert Graves, offered the reader a fictional yet authentic account of the life of Belisarius, the brilliant general who restored the influence of the Byzantine Empire in North Africa and Italy during the reign of 6th century Emperor Justinian.
When Count Belisarius was first published Graves was confronted with numerous negative reviews. Perhaps Graves did not believe in great men and Belisarius is the exception which proves the rule. One might claim that Graves described Belisarius as being 'good', not as being 'great'. But Lawrence's puritanism bears an equal resemblance to that of Belisarius in the novel of Graves. Clearly, in a matter as queasy as female sexuality the Belisarius of Graves, like the real Lawrence, prized ignorance. There was one military disadvantage that both Belisarius and Lawrence managed to turn to their own advantage.
One of Modestus' companions remarks to the old man: "Modestus, my generous host, you live in a world long dead, shut in that book-cupboard yonder.
The military historian Basil Liddell Hart was also aware of the similarities between Belisarius and Lawrence. This work by Paul Doolan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. British architect David Chipperfield was recently awarded the Royal Gold Medal for his services to architecture. Just revising the French Revolution with my class this morning and we decided to make up some French Revolution jokes. To listen to some people, we need to thank Twitter and Facebook for the current Arab Revolutions. La formacion del joven Thomas como historiador en el Jesus College y su interes por la arqueologia en Oriente Medio le llevaron a recorrer durante cuatro anos, desde 1909, la cuenca del Eufrates conociendo mejor la zona, la lengua y las costumbres de sus habitantes. Yet from the account of the life of Belisarius emerges a vivid description of character which I contend shows a great resemblance to that of Lawrence of Arabia, whose remarkable achievements had astounded the western world only twenty years earlier. Most criticised the novel for its stiff portrayal of the main character, finding him to be "altogether too noble".
One might argue that when Graves wrote to Sassoon in 1930 he had not yet realised the extent of Belisarius' greatness and therefore was as yet unaware that a great man had ever existed. We learn from the novel that as a youth Belisarius had taken an oath "renouncing the world, the flesh and the devil".
Graves quotes the citizens of Constantinople as saying: "He (Belisarius) is a sort of monster. Years later Graves, in a short essay, claimed that honour is the most important ingredient in a man's morality.
British comedian Spike Milligan though a good friend of Graves, admitted that they disagreed about one thing: war. In his own words Lawrence of Arabia’s mission was "to restore a lost influence", not to the ancient Romans but to the modern Arabs.

Belisarius is portrayed as possessing all the ingredients of greatness; bravery, honour, compassion, intelligence, loyalty.
Unflinching in the face of danger, incorruptible in a world of intrigue, uncontaminated by the temptations of selfish ambition; Graves would no doubt have agreed with Gibbon that Belisarius was "a hero who in the vigour of life disdained the fairest offers of ambition and revenge". He may have been "merely a fellow soldier" but more important, he was "a great man" and an honourable one. Belisarius was not the only exception to the rule, for Graves was already aware of the existence of a great man before he penned his letter to Sassoon.
The narrator of the novel, Eugenius - a Christian, ends his narration by saying that those who abide by the pagan customs and believe that virtue is the highest honour will be confronted in their beliefs by the example of Belisarius: "For Count Belisarius had such a simple devotion to virtue".
Unlike Lawrence, Belisarius did partake in the pleasures of the flesh; at least we may suppose so, for even Graves could not hide the fact that Belisarius married an ex-courtesan called Antonina. It is clear that Graves, like Lawrence, preferred an age gone by, the world captured between book covers: an age before the advent of modem war. As a youth he had made partial translations of Procopius, historian and secretary of Belisarius. Fue uno de los frentes mas activos para los otomanos, que se vieron sobrepasados por el empuje ruso, frenado en ultima instancia por la Revolucion de Octubre de 1917. We learn this from a letter he wrote in 1921 in which he described someone with the very words "a great man".
He then adds, ''Those of you for whom the Gospel story carries historical weight may perhaps say that Belisarius behaved at his trial before Justinian very much as his Master had done before Pontius Pilate". Interestingly, Graves portrayed the marriage as having been based on equality and comradeship. Lawrence had convinced him that warfare had ceased to be human when the English introduced the use of 'artillery' and defeated the French at Crecy in 1346. Finally, though Crecy may have been the beginning of the end, for a brief moment the forward march of history had been brought to a halt by Lawrence's war. Lawrence, in Graves' eyes, had temporarily brought this age out of history and back to life. When a Christian compares a person with Christ, surely this counts as awarding him the title 'great man'. Antonina is more than a wife to Belisarius; she is his friend and companion, an astute defender of his political interests and a capable fellow military commander.
For someone like Graves who had experienced the blood and mud of the trenches during The Great War, Lawrence’s Arabian adventures must have seemed an anachronism, a faint revival of the glorious past, an echo of a time when heroes could be made.
In the 1930s Lawrence had written Graves a letter comparing himself, indirectly, with Belisarius. Instead he shifted ground and accused his critics of lacking taste, even morality, thereby transforming his work into a statement of objective values, because he had shown Belisarius to have been "a really good man". Already during the 1920s Graves had compared Lawrence in a poetry anthology with Alexander the Great.
Este supo dar una vuelta de tuerca a la situacion poniendo contra las cuerdas a las tropas aliadas, tomando la ciudad-fortaleza de Kut, en la que perdio la vida.

Lawrence had discarded the army rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and, though one of the heroes of the Great War, sought anonymity by re-enlisting as an aircraftsman in the RAF. Also, the fact that Belisarius was married ought not to entice us to conclude that he could do what Lawrence could not do, namely, "face the fact of the existence of women". Graves was not a pacifist and his autobiography was an attack on the stupidity of the 1914-1918 war only. The idealization of Belisarius that we find in Count Belisarius is consistent with this point of view.
Instead, three years after Lawrence’s death in a motorcycle accident, he wrote Count Belisarius. La batalla de Galipoli, que protagonizo esta campana, fue una de las mayores heridas en el orgullo aliado y el mayor motivo de satisfaccion para los otomanos. In none of his previous works can we perceive such panegyrics, with the exception of his biography of Lawrence of Arabia from 1928 - a work that is best described as hagiography. In fact the belief in "good men" is in direct contradiction with the opinion which Graves expressed to his friend and fellow poet Siegfried Sassoon: "I do not believe in great men". Graves denied the possibility that Lawrence was gay and believed that his rejection of the flesh meant that he died a virgin. No napalm, but surely Graves would have had to admit that even in this distant age children were massacred and women prostituted. Finally, Graves admitted that Lawrence was tempted by the devil but in this he was compared to Jesus Christ and, presumably, did not give in to temptation.
In the opening chapters of Count Belisarius Graves does comment that the inevitable degeneration of warfare had already commenced in the early centuries after Christ. Graves admitted that Lawrence "could never squarely face the fact of the existence of women". Instead he drew the comforting conclusion that she had been seduced against her own will by some evil magic. He introduces the fictitious person Modestus, a character whose "strained rhetorical talk full of puns and recondite allusions" make him anything but modest. For Modestus, like Lawrence and Graves, one particular battle represented a historical calamity and an end to civilized warfare. Modestus' Crecy was the battle of Adrianople when the brave Roman legionnaires were slaughtered due to the cowardice of the cavalry: "Our allied cavalry betrayed us.
Far from the age of trench-warfare and despite the disaster of Adrianople he had turned the tide of warfare's degeneration and reinvested the word 'honour' with meaning.

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