Narses, a Byzantine general, born about A. D. 473, died in Rome about 568. He was a eunnch and a slave of Justinian, but rendering important services to his master during the riots of "the blue" and "the green" in 532, he was appointed imperial treasurer, and was subsequently sent on several embassies. In 538 he commanded the reŽnforcements sent to Belisarius, then waging war against the Goths in Italy; but his jealousy of that general, whom he is supposed to have had instructions from Justinian to thwart, paralyzed the Roman arms and led to the capture of Milan by the Goths. Narses was recalled shortly after, and for the next 12 years his name is hardly mentioned in the Byzantine annals; but in the imperial councils he continued to exercise a predominant influence. He commanded a second expedition against the Goths in Italy in 552, and near Rome gained a victory over King Totila, who perished with 6,000 of his soldiers. This triumph led to the surrender of Rome and several of the strongest fortresses in central Italy. A vast barbarian army under Teias, the successor of Totila, was soon afterward defeated on the banks of the Sarno, near Naples, after a battle of two days, in which Teias was slain.

The Franks and Alemanni, to the number of 75,000, now descended from the Alps, and spread themselves over the whole peninsula. When they had become demoralized and weakened by rapine, Narses attacked them at Casilinum in Campania, on their return northward, with such vigor that out of 30,000 men only 5,000 are said to have escaped. This victory ruined the barbarian power in Italy, which once more became a province of the empire. Narses was rewarded by the appointment of governor of the conquered territory, and ruled at Ravenna with the title of exarch for about 14 years. After the accession of Justin II., being dismissed from office, he invited the Lombards to invade Italy, probably anticipating that he would be restored to power in order to repel them. In this he was disappointed, and he is said to have died of grief at the ruin he brought upon the country.