Their development as a maritime people, engaged in small trading and intimately acquainted with their home waters, led Belisarius to seek their help in his task of recovering Italy from the Goths.
They were, however, compelled to retreat before the reinforcements sent by Belisarius and Narses; thus the Byzantines, after various vicissitudes, became masters of the town, appointed a duke as its governor, and included it in the exarchate of Ravenna.
The fiction of Belisarius wandering as a blind beggar through the streets of Constantinople, which has been adopted by Marmontel in his Belisaire, and by various painters and poets, is first heard of in the 10th century.
The Goths having meanwhile reconquered Italy, Belisarius was despatched with utterly inadequate forces to oppose them.
When Belisarius and John met, the latter ostentatiously thanked Narses alone for his preservation.
Gelimer, who was strangely ignorant of the plans of Justinian, had sent his brother Tzazo with some of his best troops to quell a rebellion in Sardinia (that island as well as the Balearic Isles forming part of the Vandal dominions), and the landing of Belisarius was entirely unopposed.
In the sixth Christian century lived Procopius, a Christian magistrate of Constantinople, in the days when Justinian was Emperor and Belisarius general.
The battle did not reflect any great credit either on Byzantine or Vandal generalship. It was in fact a series of blunders on both sides, but Belisarius made the fewest and victory remained with him.
In this capacity, in 530, he received into the emperor's obedience another Narses, a fellow-countryman, with his two brothers, Aratius and Isaac. These Persarmenian generals, having formerly fought under the standard of Persia, now in consequence of the successes of Belisarius transferred their allegiance to the emperor Justinian, came to Constantinople, and received costly gifts from the great minister.
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.