a district on the borders of Thrace and Macedonia. His name is supposed to be Slavonic. As a youth he served in the bodyguard of Justinian, who appointed him commander of the Eastern army. He won a signal victory over the Persians in 530, and successfully conducted a campaign against them, until forced, by the rashness of his soldiers, to join battle and suffer defeat in the following year. Recalled to Constantinople, he married Antonina, a clever, intriguing woman, and a favourite of the empress Theodora. During the sedition of the “green” and “blue” parties of the circus (known as the Nika sedition, 532) he did Justinian good service, effectually crushing the rebels who had proclaimed Hypatius emperor. In 533 the command of the expedition against the Vandal kingdom in Africa, a perilous office, which the rest of the imperial generals shunned, was conferred on Belisarius. With 15,000 mercenaries, whom he had to train into Roman discipline, he took Carthage, defeated Gelimer the Vandal king, and carried him captive, in 534, to grace the first triumph witnessed in Constantinople. In reward for these services Belisarius was invested with the consular dignity, and medals were struck in his honour. At this time the Ostrogothic kingdom, founded in Italy by Theodoric the Great, was shaken by internal dissensions, of which Justinian resolved to avail himself. Accordingly, Belisarius invaded Sicily; and, after storming Naples and defending Rome for a year against almost the entire strength of the Goths in Italy, he concluded the war by the capture of Ravenna, and with it of the Gothic king Vitiges. So conspicuous were Belisarius’s heroism and military skill that the Ostrogoths offered to acknowledge him emperor of the West. But his loyalty did not waver; he rejected the proposal and returned to Constantinople in 540. Next year he was sent to check the Persian king Chosroes (Anushirvan); but, thwarted by the turbulence of his troops, he achieved no decisive result. On his return to Constantinople he lived under a cloud for some time, but was pardoned through the influence Of Antonina with the empress. The Goths having meanwhile reconquered Italy, Belisarius was despatched with utterly inadequate forces to oppose them. Nevertheless, during five campaigns he held his enemies at bay, until he was removed from the command, and the conclusion of the war was entrusted to the eunuch Narses. Belisarius remained at Constantinople in tranquil retirement until 559, when an incursion of Bulgarian savages spread a panic through the metropolis, and men’s eyes were once more turned towards the neglected veteran, who placed himself at the head of a mixed multitude of peasants and soldiers, and repelled the barbarians with his wonted courage and adroitness. But this, like his former victories, stimulated Justinian’s envy. The saviour of his country was coldly received and left unrewarded by his suspicious sovereign. Shortly afterwards Belisarius was accused of complicity in a conspiracy against the emperor (562); his fortune was confiscated, and he was confined as a prisoner in his palace. He was liberated and restored to favour in 563, and died in 565.
The fiction of Belisarius wandering as a blind beggar through the streets of Constantinople, which has been adopted by Marmontel in his Bélisaire, and by various painters and poets, is first heard of in the 10th century. Gibbon justly calls Belisarius the Africanus of New Rome. He was merciful as a conqueror, stern as a disciplinarian, enterprising and wary as a general; while his courage, loyalty and forbearance seem to have been almost unsullied. He was the idol of his soldiers, a good tactician, but not a great strategist.
Authorities.—Procopius, De Bellis and Historia Arcana (best edition by J. Haury, 1905, 1907); see Gibbon, Decline and Fall (ed. Bury, vol. 4); T. Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders (vol. 4); J. B. Bury, Later Roman Empire, vol. i.; Diehl, Justinien (Paris, 1901).
(J. B. B.)
BELIT (signifying the “lady,” par excellence), in the Babylonian religion, the designation of the consort of Bel (q.v.). Her real name was Nin-lil, i.e. the “lady of power,” if the explanation suggested in Bel for the second element is correct. She is also designated as Nin-Khar-sag, “Lady of the mountain,” which name stands in some relationship to Im-Khar-sag, “storm mountain”—the name of the staged tower or sacred edifice to Bel at Nippur. As the consort of En-lil, the goddess Nin-lil or Belit belongs to Nippur and her titles as “ruler of heaven and earth,” and “mother of the gods” are all due to her position as the wife of Bel. While recognized by a temple of her own in Nippur and honoured by rulers at various times by having votive offerings made in her honour and fortresses dedicated in her name, she, as all other goddesses in Babylonia and Assyria with the single exception of Ishtar, is overshadowed by her male consort. The title Belit was naturally transferred to the great mother-goddess Ishtar after the decline of the cult at Nippur, and we also find the consort of Marduk, known as Sarpanit, designated as Belit, for the sufficient reason that Marduk, after the rise of the city of Babylon as the seat of his cult, becomes the Bel or “lord” of later days. (M. Ja.)
BELIZE, or Balize, the capital and principal seaport of British Honduras, on the Caribbean Sea, in 17° 29′ N. and 88° 11′ W. Pop. (1904) 9969. Belize occupies both banks of the river Belize, at its mouth. Its houses are generally built of wood, with high roofs and wide verandahs shaded by cocoanut or cabbage palms. The principal buildings are the court house, in the centre of the town, government house, at the southern end, Fort George, towards the north, the British bank of Honduras, the hospital, the Roman Catholic convent, and the Wesleyan church, which is the largest and handsomest of all. Mangrove swamps surround the town and epidemics of cholera, yellow fever and other tropical diseases have been frequent; but the unhealthiness of the climate is mitigated to some extent by the high tides which cover the marshes, and the invigorating breezes which blow in from the sea. Belize is connected by telegraph and telephone with the other chief towns of British Honduras, but there is no railway, and communication even by road is defective. The exports are mahogany, rosewood, cedar, logwood and other cabinet-woods and dye-woods, with cocoanuts, sugar, sarsaparilla, tortoiseshell, deerskins, turtles and fruit, especially bananas. Breadstuffs, cotton fabrics and hardware are imported.
Belize probably derives its name from the French balise, “a beacon,” as no doubt some signal or light was raised here for the guidance of the buccaneers who once infested this region. Local tradition connects the name with that of Wallis or Wallace, a Scottish buccaneer, who, in 1638, settled, with a party of logwood cutters, on St George’s Cay, a small island off the town. In the 18th century the names Wallis and Belize were used interchangeably for the town, the river and the whole country. The history of Belize is inextricably bound up with that of the rest of British Honduras (q.v.).
BELJAME, ALEXANDRE (1842-1906), French writer, was born at Villiers-le-Bel, Seine-et-Oise, on the 26th of November 1842. He spent part of his childhood in England and was a frequent visitor in London. His lectures on English literature at the Sorbonne, where a chair was created expressly for him, did much to promote the study of English in France. In 1905-1906 he was Clark lecturer on English literature at Trinity College, Cambridge. He died at Domont (Seine-et-Oise) on the 19th of September 1906. His best known book was a masterly study of the conditions of literary life in England in the 18th century illustrated by the lives of Dryden, Addison and Pope. This book, Le Public et les hommes de lettres en Angleterre au XVIIIe siècle (1881), was crowned by the French Academy on the appearance of the second edition in 1897. He was a good Shakespearian scholar, and his editions of Macbeth, Othello and Julius Caesar also received an academic prize in 1902.
BELKNAP, JEREMY (1744-1798), American author and clergyman, was born at Boston on the 4th of June 1744, and was educated at Harvard College, where he graduated in 1762. In 1767 he became minister of a Congregational church at Dover, New Hampshire, remaining there until 1787, when he removed to Federal Street church, Boston. He is recognized as the founder of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and in 1792 became an overseer of Harvard. He died at Boston on the 20th of June 1798. Belknap’s chief works are: History of New Hampshire (1784-1792); An Historical Account of those