Justin (Flavius Anicius Justestus). I. The Elder, Byzantine emperor, born of a family of barbarian peasants at Tauresium, a village near Sardica (now Sophia), in Bulgaria, in 450, died in 527. He went with two other youths on foot to the capital to enter the army, and on account of his strength and stature was placed among the guards of the emperor Leo I. Under the reigns of Zeno and Anastasius he emerged to wealth and honors. Having served in the Isaurian and Persian wars, and been promoted successively to the ranks of tribune, count, and general, and the dignity of senator, he was commander of the imperial guards at the time of the death of Anastasius (518). The eunuch Amantius, who then reigned in the court, being bent on setting one of his creatures, Theo-datus, on the throne, intrusted an ample donative to Justin, with which to gain the suffrage of the guards for his purpose. Justin employed the bribe in his own favor, and was proclaimed emperor at the age of 68. Brave, but ignorant, according to Procopius, even of the alphabet, he intrusted the quaestor Proclus with the affairs of the state, and adopted Justinian, his nephew, and a native of his village, who, however, was educated in Constantinople.
There are some dark stains on Justin's character. Amantius was executed on charges of conspiracy and heresy, Theodatus was murdered in prison, and Vitalian, a Gothic chief, who had become popular by his civil war against Anastasius in defence of the orthodox faith, was treacherously murdered at a banquet. Both Justin and his successor Justinian (during part of his reign) were defenders of the orthodox creed. II. The Younger, nephew of Justinian I., succeeded him in 565, and died Oct. 5, 578. He was of a very crafty disposition, and while his cousins Justin and Justinian, the sons of Germanus, were absent in the campaign against the Persians, he remained in Constantinople and courted the aged emperor. On assuming the imperial authority after the death of Justinian, he won popular favor by the expression of virtuous and generous sentiments. He granted a general pardon to offenders, liquidated all the debts of Justinian, and issued an edict of universal religious toleration. But he soon showed his true character. He instigated the murder of his cousin Justin, of whom he had become jealous, sold offices and positions without disguise, and recovered by rapacity and oppression the sums used in satisfying the creditors of his predecessor.
While he was thus arousing the indignation of the Greeks at home, Italy was in a deplorable state. Narses, who had been removed from the ex-archy through the hatred of the empress Sophia, revenged himself by inviting an invasion of the Longobards, who overran the country. At the same time Justin was involved in a war with the Persians, who ravaged Syria and took Dara. On the receipt of this news he exhibited symptoms of insanity, and the government devolved on the empress Sophia, who persuaded the emperor (574) to adopt Tiberius, the captain of his guards. The latter became virtually the ruler from that time, although Justin did not create him Augustus until Sept. 26, 578.
Justin (Justinus), a Latin historian, of whose personal history nothing is known. It is probable that he lived at Rome in the 3d or 4th century. He is the author of a work entitled Hiatoriarum Philippicarum Libri XLIV., founded on a lost work of Trogus Pompeius, a historian of the Augustan age. The original work, though professing to give only an account of the Macedonian monarchy, was hardly less than a universal history, and was of great value. Justin seems rather to have compiled selections from it than to have abridged it systematically, and his history contains a great variety of information that would not otherwise have been preserved, carelessly arranged, but written in a clear and sometimes elegant style. The first edition of Justin was printed at Venice by Jensen in 1470. The latest editions are those of Gutschmid (Leipsic, 1857), Hartwig (Brunswick, 1860), Pierrot and Boitard (Paris, 1862), and Domke and Eitner (Breslau, 1865). The English translations are by Codrington (1664), Brown (1712), Bayley (1732), Clark (1732), and Turnbull (1746).