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General Narses by AMELIANVS General Narses by AMELIANVS
Eunuch Narses,briliant general of Justinian I, in his closing years.One of the key figures of Justinianic reconquista and right after Belisarius perhaps the most famous from non-Emperor medieval Roman commanders(although his times still had it closer to antiquity than to medieval world).Narses had the most sucessful career both in civilian as well as military sector.Born in Persarmenia(persian ruled part of Armenia devided between Roman and Persian Empire during 5th century treaty)Allegedly a member of Armenian noble family who was itself an offshoot of Iranian house of Karen who was itself related to Arsacid dynasty who ruled in Persia(and some caucasian states including Armenia)for almost 500 years before Sassanid dynasty overthrowed and replaced them. Basically nothing is known about his early years and first steps at the court of Constantinople.It is known that Narses was of somewhat deformed and notably small body stature.He was made an eunuch already as a child which was officially ilegal in the Empire yet children affected like this even if from poorer backgrounds had doors much wider open for the service at imperial administrative and especially at Imperial court where they can get to enormous richness and power(in some cases even become factual rulers of the state).Narses most likely started his career at the court already before Justinian but it was only during his reign he rised to some of the major officies of the Empire.He was also among those who helped to safe Justinian his throne during Nika riots,closely co-operated basically as an agent for Empress Theodora and participated in many court intriques and also as a diplomat.In this role Narses become from some reason very popular among some Germanic tribes-a fact which later helped him to gain many Germanic mercenaries recruited to his armies.

Although Narses was already enjoying high positions in imperial hierarchy and had even limited experience with leading an army real pinnacle of his career came only when he was already in very advanced age when Justinian decided to appoint him as the one who should finally bring an end to endless war in Italy(although he was not his 1st choice).A decision firstly met with severe criticism on account of Narses advanced age and not really big military experience.The fact he was an eunuch also made him someone not optimal for the military role in many contemporary eyes but for Justinian all these things were actually something speaking for Narses because he could never become an Emperor and Justinian didn't have to worry to entrust him lot of money and a big army to command(a trend that led to many other eunuch generals during consequent times).Narses was in this manner capable to gather possibly the strongest ever army sent by the Constantinople to Italy numbering around 30 000 man(great part of which was indeed international composed from many barbarian tribes mainly germanic but also from the Persian contingents led by exiled Persian prince and nobles).At that moment Empire was also in rare situation where it was able to focus its military potential mainly to one battlefield only and Narses recieved also much bigger financial support from the Emperor than someone as Belisarius ever had(by the way Narses and Belisarius hated each other).Series of splendid battlefield victories followed.

First he decisively crushed Ostrogothic army under Totila(who died there)at Taginae/Busta Gallorum in 552.Soon afterwards he also defeated the last united effort of the Goths for resistance at the battle of Mons lactarius where his army killed also successor of Totila-King Teia who was to be the last elected King of the Ostrogoths.Consequently he scored even more splendid victory over the Frankish intervention when they invaded Italy only to be smashed by Narses at the battle of Casillinus river in 554.In all these battles Narses was already over 70 years of age but contrary to all expectations he fulfiled all campaign goals and lived for many other years after that.After Frankish intervention was repulsed Gothic war and the conquest of Italy were practically over(although Narses soldiers only eliminated the very last resistance in the hard acessible mountains of Nothern Italy in 563).He remained in Italy for the rest of his life where he acted as the practicall viceroy in the name of Emperor and put a great effort into reconstruction of hugely depopulated and devastated peninsula.Although Narses had many positive character properties he also had some very negative-he could be very jealous,stubborn and especially annoying when trying to accumulate money without taking much care over troubles of normal and at post-war Italy usually very poor people who should give it to him.This however can be partially explained also by wishes of Emperor who was also  money ever-searching and desperate to replenish resources lost to gain Italy back.Position of Constantinople in Italy however quickly showed to be standing on clay legs after Narses passed away(despite retaining its smaller footholds there until 11th century).

When his patron Justinian died in 565(same as Narses old rival Belisarius) new generation took the chains of power in Constantinople and Narses relationship with the new Emperor Justin II and his wife Empress Sophia was not so good anymore.Because of complaints that were still coming on account of Narses reckless tax policy from Italy to Justin,new Emperor decided to recall old general from Italy but Narses refused to go and according to a legend he even invited his old Longboard allies to invade Italy as a form of revenge to Justin and Sophia although this part is most likely legend only.Narses eventually died in exceptionally high age of either 86 or maybe even 96 years old at his death(in 566 or in 574 which would be considered a happy age even at our times but in his it was especially uncommon)residing already for many years in ancient Emperial palace complex on the Palatine hill at Rome.Despite his tense relationship with the new rulers Narses body remains were escorted to Constantinople where famous general was given public state funeral(whom Belisar was not granted) with the Imperial couple attending funeral procession in person.

As a general Narses commanding style was significantly different from that of Belisarius.Where Belisarius was searching for carefull approach Narses preffered instant action.Where Belisarius was trying to avoid risky frontal confrontations Narses seeked for direct destruction of enemy forces in open battles.Of course Narses was,on the other hand,in far better position to risk big open battles than Belisarius for the most of the time was but during those battles and campaigns Narses proved himself to be a really talented commander with great strategic and tactical insight and masterly use of combined arms.Contrary to Belisarius who highly favored cavalry actions Narses had a great use of infantry and demonstrated that under good leadership even Roman infantry of Justinianic times could be still a very capable tool of war playing important and active roles in battle not just supportive for cavalry.Despite his age and physical limitations he also showed himself as personally brave and not hesitating to take part in actual combat himself-as he did at the battle of Ariminium where he led charge of his 300 men strong bucellarii cavalry against ca.2000 strong frankish force.Narses was also very popular among his soldiers.
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:iconthefirecircleyagna:
TheFireCircleYagna Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Narses, the Hammer of Goths!
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:iconjfmam:
Jfmam Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2015
Great Portrait! And thanks for the accompanying text. Is your portrait based on any existing images or descriptions? Regardless, it's  great to have an image for this Late Antique statesman/general.
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:iconthefirecircleyagna:
TheFireCircleYagna Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Actually there's a comemorative mosaic of Justinian's victory over the Goths on Taginae.  www.google.pt/search?q=narses+…;
There's no hundred percent accuracy, but narses is said to be the figure at the right of the Emperor.
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:iconjfmam:
Jfmam Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2017
Thanks; I've seen that mosaic, but didn't know the figure on the right was Narses.
Sorry for the late reply, I haven't been able to get on here for a while.
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:iconthefirecircleyagna:
TheFireCircleYagna Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
No prob :) I still find curious why narses, as an eunuch cut on his childhood, has beard......
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:iconamelianvs:
AMELIANVS Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
Partially I take in account mosaic from San Vitale in Ravenna where a man often theorized to represent Narses is standing close tp Justinian.But as I wrote in some other replay here this is rather unlikely identification.Probably no image of Narses survived or we cant be sure about indentification.The only short physical description of Narses I know of is that given by our main source on him-historian Agathias who says that Narses was of slim notable small and somewhat deformed body.That Narses was already a very old man at the time he finished Italian war and his career that is simply a fact which I applied visually to his skin.Partially I also had Narses as he appeared in 1968/69 movie Fight for Rome at mind.
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:iconjfmam:
Jfmam Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015
Thanks for the reply! It's cool to learn how you decide on how to depict these figures.
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:iconakitku:
akitku Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I'm so happy you decided to draw a picture of this amazing character! I love all the details in his costume, and great idea to draw him looking that old. What a remarkable persona!
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:iconthefirecircleyagna:
TheFireCircleYagna Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Amazing how he was already on his 70's and still with the strength of a young warrior, and still lived to nearly 100! Eunuchs are for sure amazing. Behold, the wonders of cutting your balls! :D
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:iconamelianvs:
AMELIANVS Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
Just now Im also working on one of his battles .-)
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:iconakitku:
akitku Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Awesome! I'm looking forward to it! :)
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:iconghost-missingno:
Ghost-MissingNo Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2015  Student Artist
Aww, thanks for drawing this :la:! I mentioned in once in your comments ^^;.

Didn't expected him to be so old and live so long! The only depiction I knew was alleged one from San Vitae en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nar… , guess he wasn't in that position back then.
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:iconamelianvs:
AMELIANVS Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
In his final years he certainly was an old man.But he also was already old when he fought all of his famous battle-over 70 years of age.I surely know that San Vitale image and I was partially taking it in account(originally picture was planned to look more similar to that mosaic),eventually however I decided to not base it so much on it because identity of that man as Narses is doubtful from more reasons-if he is really depicted than artist made him look younger and higher(Real Narses would probably looked grotesque next to other figures if artist would depicted him next to Emperor in his real body size).It also seems that that man has a trace of slight facial hair(although it could be just a shadow/skin tone only)and Eunuchs like Narses who were castrated in early childhood usually lacked facial hair completely.Other persons were also theoretically linked to be meant with that mosaic.It might also be that Narses is depicted as one of beardless officials standing next to Empress theodora also at San Vitale.They are almost certainly an eunuchs but also for these same as before is true-if anybody from them is meant as Narses he is made much younger and higher.
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:iconcominterntt:
CominternTT Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2015
Your works are amazing
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:iconamelianvs:
AMELIANVS Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
Thanks a lot .-)
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:iconcaledwiwer:
Caledwiwer Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Fine work as always! I tried my own Narses a while back, but unfortunately, someone ended up stepping on it. :( but this, this is just amazing.
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:iconamelianvs:
AMELIANVS Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
Dont be sad-there is a lot of room for much more Narses.He need to be depicted more :-) !
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:iconcaledwiwer:
Caledwiwer Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
maybe i'll try again. And i agree, Narses doesn't get nearly enough recognition. :)
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