commonly called Joannes of CAPPADOCIA, because he was a native of that country, one of the principal ministers of the emperor Justinian I., was appointed praefectus praetorio of the East in A. D. 530. His services, however, were more in the cabinet than in the field; and in the administration of the provinces subject to his authority he evinced a degree of rapacity and fiscal oppression that filled his own and the emperor's purse, but rendered him odious to the people. Nor had he fewer enemies among the great, for he was constantly busy in ruining his rivals, or other persons of eminence, through all sorts of slander and intrigues. Proud of Justinian's confidence, who, in his turn, was too fond of money not to like a servant of John's description, the praetorian praefect continued his system of peculation and oppression during thirteen years. John opposed sending an expedition against the Vandals in Africa, because he would be unable to appropriate so much of the imperial revenues; but Justinian would not take the advice of his favourite, and in 533 Belisarius set out for the conquest of Carthage. When he arrived off Methone, now Modon, in Greece, where he put some troops on shore, a disease decimated the men, and it was discovered to be the effect of a sultry climate combined with bad food : their bread was not fit to eat; John, who was at the head of the provision department at Constantinople, having given secret orders to bake the bread at the same fires which heated the public baths, whence it became not only very bad, but also increased both in bulk and weight.
In this way John robbed the treasury. Belisarius soon remedied the evil, and was much praised by Justinian, but John was not punished.
The arrogance of this rapacious man became daily more insupportable, and at last he undertook to ruin the empress Theodora in the egtimation of her husband. Upon this, Theodora and Antonina, the wife of Belisarius, concerted one of those petty plots through which women often succeed in ruining men : they surrounded him with false flatterers, who pointed out to him the possibility of seizing the crown from Justinian, and Antonina, having feigned hostile intentions towards the emperor, persuaded John to an interview with her. Their conversation was heard by spies placed there by Antonina and the empress, and Justinian having been informed of it, deprived him of his office, confiscated his property, and forced him to take the habit of a monk. Soon afterwards, however, he gave him most of his estates back, and John lived in splendour at Cyzicus (541). Four years afterwards he was accused by Theodora of having contrived the death of Eusebius, bishop of Cyzicus, who was slain in a riot, and he was now exiled to Egypt, where he lived in the greatest misery, till after the death of Theodora he was allowed to return to Constantinople.
There he led the life of a mendicant monk, and died in obscurity. [JUSTINIANUS, 1.] (Procop. Bell. Pers.
1.24, 25, 2.30, Bell. Vand.
100.2, 17, 22; Theophanes, p. 160, ed. Paris.)