Almost nothing is known of Bonus's origins or private life. In a panegyric poem dedicated to Bonus in 626, George Pisides calls him a "companion in arms" of Heraclius, possibly implying that Bonus accompanied him when he sailed from Africa in 610 to overthrow Emperor Phocas (r. 602–610). He is also known to have had an illegitimate son, John, who was sent as a hostage to the Avars in 622.
At this time, the Byzantine Empire was engaged in a prolonged struggle with its large eastern antagonist, the Sassanid Persian Empire. Over the previous twenty years, Persian armies had scored victory after victory and captured most of the Byzantine Levant. In 622, after securing peace with the Avars in the Balkans, Heraclius set out to campaign in person against the Persians. Bonus was left behind in Constantinople as the Emperor's deputy and guardian of his young sons, together with PatriarchSergius. During Heraclius's absence on campaign for the next years, Bonus acted as the effective regent of the Byzantine Empire.
Bonus is first mentioned c. 561, while in the service of Justin, son of Germanus. Bonus was tasked with defending the Danubelimes against the Avars. He is mentioned at the time as a protostates (Greek:πρωτοστάτης τοῦ θητικοῦ και οἰκετικοῦ). His title might have been equivalent to a majordomo.
He resurfaces in 568-570 as a general. His exact position in the military hierarchy is uncertain, but the location of his activities at Sirmium, while still being in charge of the Danube limes, suggests the position of magister militum per Illyricum.
The spring of 568 found the Avars besieging Sirmium. Bonus was in charge of the defense within the walls and was wounded in combat. When negotiations started between the defenders and the besiegers, Bonus was initially unable to attend the meetings. The Avars started suspecting that their opponent was dead, forcing Bonus to appear to them in person. The Avars eventually agreed to lift the siege in exchange for a "gift" (payment). Bonus sought the approval from emperor Justin II.
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