Historians have long taken Procopius' description of heavily armored mounted archers in the opening of his Wars to be a more-or-less accurate depiction of contemporary military practice. This paper argues that Procopius employs archery as a metaphor for authorship by drawing on the techniques of figured writing (which include metaphor) as developed by the late antique rhetorical tradition in which he was trained. The comparison between Homeric and contemporary warriors at the opening of the Wars is therefore a figured way for Procopius to engage in a self-referential discussion concerning authorship and, in particular, to develop his agonistic relationship with his primary classical models, Herodotus and Thucydides. This conclusion requires a reevaluation of the military history of the sixth century.

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