This article presents a new interpretation of the historiographical production of Jordanes by situating it in the political and social environment of Constantinople of the years 550–552. It argues that these years were a period of crisis in Justinian's reign and that this is reflected in the pessimistic view of Roman power and the critique of Justinian's military and religious policy we can see in Jordanes’ Romana. If this prevents us from understanding Jordanes as a mouthpiece of the court, he cannot be reduced to a mere reproducer of Cassiodorus either: while there is more evidence for a close interaction between Jordanes and Cassiodorus (in particular the use of the Historia Tripartita in the Romana) than usually adduced, this is balanced by Jordanes’ explicit attempts to keep his distance from the senator. If the latter can be explained by Jordanes’ much lower social and literary status and his Moesian rather than Italian origin, which made him only a marginal member of Cassiodorus’ circle in Constantinople, the agreement between both men is the result of a confluence of views caused by the turn of the Italian war in 540–550. Jordanes, then, appears as a unique voice in what must have been a polyphony of opinions in mid-sixth-century Constantinople.