So who was Belisarius? Briefly, he was one of the last great Roman generals, and he lived in the sixth century. According to legend that became popular in the Middle Ages, Emperor Justinian ordered his eyes put out. This left Belisarius a homeless beggar--as you see in the figure group. The veracity of the story is dubious, and some believe it to be apocryphal. However, the subject came into favor in art in the late 1700s, with artists seeing parallels between Justinian's repressive actions and contemporary rulers.