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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.
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.
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. 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. Lawrence's activities leading the Arab revolt against the Turks during World War One.Producer Sam Spiegel bought the rights to Lawrence's own 1922 account of his experiences in the Middle East, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, for Lean (who had previously helmed the Spiegel-produced The Bridge on the River Kwai to great success) to direct. 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.
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.
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. When finally released in 1962, it won a ton of awards including the Academy Award for Best Picture, and remains highly-regarded by most critics decades later. 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.
The movie is intelligently written and well-acted, although some critics have issues with the historical accuracy. 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. On a visual note, it contains some absolutely beautiful desert scenery, and Peter O'Toole is terribly pretty in the title role.The film was twice subjected to major cuts, being reduced from an initial 222 minute length to as short as 187 minutes by the early '70s.
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. 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. Much of the missing footage was misplaced by Columbia Pictures until the 1989 restoration (216 minutes).
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. 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 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. This even though Ferrer had about four minutes of total screen time (though admittedly a very memorable scene).
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. The Alliance: And collecting the various Feuding Families to form this is a large part of the movie.
In real life, his relations with his male "companions" were (and are) considered very suspect.
Real life speculation about Lawrence's sexuality seems to oscillate between two extremes: he was either entirely asexual, or a masochistic gay man. 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.
He's clearly uncomfortable with some of the actions he's forced to take, assuaging his conscience with protests that he's Just Following Orders. Armchair Military: Played with by British command promoting and supplying Lawrence once his tactics prove effective. Because I am a river to my people!" Badass Bookworm: Lawrence, whose knowledge of the area makes him more effective at his job than his comrades.
After taking Aqaba, Lawrence is confident that he can cross the Sinai desert safely and inform his superiors about the siege. Blood Knight: Lawrence's expressed aversion to violence is in fact an effort to suppress this part of his personality. California Doubling: David Lean originally wanted to shoot the entire movie in Jordan, which is located in the same region where it takes place.
Much of the desert scenes were filmed in Jordan, but ultimately most of the movie was filmed in Spain. With its abundance of Moorish architecture, Seville plays the part of basically every Middle Eastern city in the movie. Composite Character: Sherif Ali (Ali ibn el-Kharish) was clearly based on Ali ibn el Hussein, the brother of Faisal, but was stripped of his royal identity and made a generic tribal leader. Conflicting Loyalty: Lawrence is caught between loyalty to his country and the Arab Revolt. In fact he talked much of this in Real Life, though when you think of it, it is inevitable in any officer seconded to an allied force. Cool Horse: Auda Abu Tayi's favorite part of the Plunder, when they seize a Turkish train and he comes away with a handsome white horse. Creator Cameo: David Lean voices the motorcyclist who asks Lawrence "Who are you?" at the Suez Canal. Robert Bolt plays one of the officers (smoking a pipe) watching Lawrence's first conference with Allenby.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Lawrence is viewed to be eccentric and insubordinate in Cairo, so much that the commanding general openly treats him with contempt.
Dated History: Besides the Hollywood History below, the depiction of Lawrence as a sadist who enjoys killing can be traced to several critical Lawrence biographies (by Richard Aldington and Anthony Nutting) written shortly before the movie's release, something which most modern historians discount.
On the other hand, showing him as a masochist who liked receiving pain has become widely accepted.

Despair Event Horizon: Lawrence crosses it following Daraa, becoming more broken and bitter. Downer Ending: Even though Lawrence succeeded in reaching and taking Damascus with his Arab calvary, Lawrence is unsuccessful in uniting the Arab tribes as a united people, and heads home, depressed and unable to feel joy again. A Father to His Men: Lawrence impresses the men under his command when he makes a dangerous trek back into the desert to save a straggler.
After hearing Murray's relieved of command, Lawrence remarks "That's a step in the right direction!" Girly Skirt Twirl: A pretty rare example of this trope being played straight with a male character. Grey and Gray Morality: No side comes off looking particularly good in this film, and all of the characters have varying degrees of moral ambiguity. Heel?Face Turn: Brighton goes from stuffy martinet to admirer of Lawrence after the latter captures Aqaba. He's pushed even further during the Damascus scene, as he urges Allenby to help the Arabs (and is callously ignored).
The British general staff and Lawrence were on overwhelmingly good terms save for a few exceptions.
Lawrence was, however, quite contemptuous of the military rank-and-file and their strategic objectives (he saw it as his aim to subvert the Sykes-Picot agreement which wanted to divvy up Syria instead of creating an Arab state). Secondly, the taking of Aqaba was not a glorious cavalry charge into the town but a prolonged melee for a pillbox a few miles outside of town. Thirdly, the relations with the Saudi-dominated Najd are almost completely ignored when in fact they were a crucial part of diplomacy Lawrence was involved in. And this is before we get into the issue of who exactly liberated Damascus (Western Allies or Arab rebels), which is STILL a matter of pride that is fiercely contested to this day. The screenwriter, Robert Bolt, based the movie off of Lawrence's memoirs because there were too many conflicting sources; the accuracy of his writings has been brought under serious scrutiny by recent historians. In keeping with the Hollywood attitude of the time, Capitaine Rosario Pisani and other Gauls with Grenades, such as the adjudant Lamotte, who rode the 1000 km to Aqaba with Lawrence, are not even mentioned. To be fair, Pisani wrote only 60 pages about his mission, mostly still classified, compared to the 800 public pages of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and the Foil of most French soldiers compared to the Arabs was not as large as the one with Lawrence, since they mostly grew up and learnt to fight in Maghreb with Arabs and against Arabs. Perhaps the biggest (and to some, most insulting) alteration is the ending, which shows Feisal's "Arab Council" collapsing from in-fighting, Damascus degenerating into chaos, and the British (after having refused to help Feisal) taking over. While there was tension and occasional violence between the different Arab factions (mostly between Feisal's Bedouin and the Damascus-based "city Arabs"), it didn't cause Feisal's government to disintegrate. Also, the Turks and their German allies destroyed much of Damascus while evacuating - a more proximate cause for the chaos than Arab incompetence. Neither did Allenby refuse to help Feisal, a depiction the General's family bitterly resented.
Iconic Outfit: Lawrence's lovely white Arab clothes are the outfit for any hero crossing the desert. And a man who lies only hides the truth, but a man who tells half-lies has forgotten where he put it!" Jerkass Has a Point: General Murray, who is depicted to be a blowhard and a General Failure, especially compared to his replacement Allenby asks Dreiden:"Does the Arab Bureau want a big thing in Arabia?
Large Ham: Lawrence was Peter O'Toole's first starring role, and he'd mostly done stage work up until then. Subverted by the fact that Lawrence, as portrayed in the film, pretty much exemplified this trope as well. He roars around like a big child, and at one point he walks across a table to yell at someone. Leave No Survivors: "NO PRISONERS!" Directed at a column that had just slaughtered some villagers. For instance the scene where Ali walks into the tent has a long slow pan up his body from Lawrence's point of view. This is a shot normally used to indicate that the character in question is a love interest (in his essay on the film Martin Scorsese pointed out that in Film Noir the Femme Fatale is often introduced like this). Also the scene where Lawrence is stripped and beaten by the Turkish soldiers has a lot of lingering shots of half naked Peter O'Toole. Match Cut: A particularly famous (and literal) one, when Lawrence blows out a match, cutting to the sun rising over the Arabian desert. Meaningful Echo: Early in the film, Lawrence's Bedouin guide is shot by a man from another tribe (Sherif Ali), for drinking from his well. Bentley arrives at the scene, stunned, Sherif Ali essentially parrots what Lawrence had said to him before: "Does it surprise you, Mr Bentley? Who but they!" "Nothing is written!" and several variants are repeated throughout the film.
Lawrence admiring himself in the blade of his dagger, just after Ali presents him with his Arab robes. At first it's played straight; Lawrence impresses the Arabs and is made one of their leaders. Mood Whiplash: The first half is an epic adventure film which climaxes in a triumphant battle scene, Lawrence's promotion and Allenby promising to help the Arabs. The second half becomes increasingly downbeat, showing how deluded Lawrence and the Arabs' dreams of independence are in the face of British imperialism.
Fanservice: Omar Sharif and Peter O'Toole (somewhat averted by the latter's aversion to sex). Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Lawrence takes his pubescent assistants into the desert with him on his way to Cairo to announce his victory at Aqaba, brushing off any objections. No Celebrities Were Harmed: Jackson Bentley is an obvious stand-in for Lowell Thomas, the American journalist who made Lawrence famous.
Given that Thomas was still alive at the time (and the problems they ran into with the families of others depicted in the film), the name change was legally expedient.
Lawrence's servant has to be given a Mercy Kill because it is impossible not to leave him behind. No Woman's Land: It is a World War I movie, but still - no women are shown on screen, except for a handful of veiled extras here and there, and some nurses.

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