the second son of Germanus, and the grand-nephew of Justinian I. (see the genealogical table prefixed to the life of that emperor), a distinguished general, becomes first conspicuous in the Gothic campaign of A. D. 550, when, after exerting himself in raising the army that was to invade Italy through Illyricum, he was appointed, on the sudden death of his father, to succeed him in the supreme command.
He was then very young, but the time of his birth can only be conjectured: it was probably about 530.
In the following year he commanded, with his elder brother, Justin, against the Slavonians; and he is also mentioned as the commander of the Greek auxiliaries of Alboin against Thrasimund, king of the Gepidae. His name became universally known as one of the first generals of the empire, when the regent, Tiberius, appointed him, in 574, or, as some say, 576, commander-in-chief of an army of 150,000 German and Scythian mercenaries, against the Persian king, Chosroes, who had invaded Armenia. Justinian advanced from Cappadocia, and Chosroes pushed on to meet him.
The encounter took place at Melitene, in Lesser Armenia, not far from the Euphrates; and after a sharp struggle, the left wing of the Persians was totally routed; in consequence of which Chosroes was compelled to retreat in haste and confusion into the heart of his dominions.
This splendid victory was equally due to the military skill of Justinian, and the undaunted valour of Curs, a Scythian in the Greek service. Upon this Justinian crossed the Euphrates, and turning to the left, conquered part of northern Persia, took up his winter-quarters in Hyrcania, and returned unmolested in the following spring to Armenia.
But there he suffered a severe defeat from the Persian general, Tamchosroes, in consequence of which the pending negotiations for peace were abruptly broken off by Chosroes, and the war continued without any prospect of a speedy termination. Tiberius, dissatisfied with Justinian's conduct in this campaign, recalled him, and gave the command to Mauricius. Justinian thought himself unfairly dealt with, and entered into a conspiracy to assassinate Tiberius on the day of his coronation, and to have himself chosen in his stead.
It appears that he had no chance of success, for he voluntarily confessed his evil designs, and Tiberius generously pardoned him. When, in the following year, 579, Tiberius was absent from the capital, the empress Sophia, who expected that Tiberius would have married her, but was grievously disappointed at seeing that he was secretly married to another, persuaded Justinian to resume his former designs, promising to assist him with her treasures and influence.
The plan was discovered, the property of Sophia was confiscated, and a watch was put upon her; but Justinian was again pardoned by the noble Tiberius.
The time of Justinian's death is not known. (Theophan. p. 385, &c., ed. Paris; Evagrius, 5.14, &c.; Procop. Bell. Goth.
3.32, 40, 4.25, 26 ; Theophylact. 3.12, &c.; Paul. Diacon. 3.12 ; Meander in Excerpt. Legat. ;
the sources quoted in the lives of Justin. II. and Tiberius.)