HotFreeBooks.com
The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Volume 1
by Edward Gibbon
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

[Footnote 2: In particular, Mr. Hume, the Abbe du Bos, and M. Pelloutier. Hist. des Celtes, tom. i.]

[Footnote 3: Diodorus Siculus, l. v. p. 340, edit. Wessel. Herodian, l. vi. p. 221. Jornandes, c. 55. On the banks of the Danube, the wine, when brought to table, was frequently frozen into great lumps, frusta vini. Ovid. Epist. ex Ponto, l. iv. 7, 9, 10. Virgil. Georgic. l. iii. 355. The fact is confirmed by a soldier and a philosopher, who had experienced the intense cold of Thrace. See Xenophon, Anabasis, l. vii. p. 560, edit. Hutchinson. Note: The Danube is constantly frozen over. At Pesth the bridge is usually taken up, and the traffic and communication between the two banks carried on over the ice. The Rhine is likewise in many parts passable at least two years out of five. Winter campaigns are so unusual, in modern warfare, that I recollect but one instance of an army crossing either river on the ice. In the thirty years' war, (1635,) Jan van Werth, an Imperialist partisan, crossed the Rhine from Heidelberg on the ice with 5000 men, and surprised Spiers. Pichegru's memorable campaign, (1794-5,) when the freezing of the Meuse and Waal opened Holland to his conquests, and his cavalry and artillery attacked the ships frozen in, on the Zuyder Zee, was in a winter of unprecedented severity.—M. 1845.]

[Footnote 4: Buffon, Histoire Naturelle, tom. xii. p. 79, 116.]

[Footnote 5: Caesar de Bell. Gallic. vi. 23, &c. The most inquisitive of the Germans were ignorant of its utmost limits, although some of them had travelled in it more than sixty days' journey. * Note: The passage of Caesar, "parvis renonum tegumentis utuntur," is obscure, observes Luden, (Geschichte des Teutschen Volkes,) and insufficient to prove the reindeer to have existed in Germany. It is supported however, by a fragment of Sallust. Germani intectum rhenonibus corpus tegunt.—M. It has been suggested to me that Caesar (as old Gesner supposed) meant the reindeer in the following description. Est bos cervi figura cujus a media fronte inter aures unum cornu existit, excelsius magisque directum (divaricatum, qu?) his quae nobis nota sunt cornibus. At ejus summo, sicut palmae, rami quam late diffunduntur. Bell. vi.—M. 1845.]

[Footnote 6: Cluverius (Germania Antiqua, l. iii. c. 47) investigates the small and scattered remains of the Hercynian wood.]

[Footnote 7: Charlevoix, Histoire du Canada.]

It is difficult to ascertain, and easy to exaggerate, the influence of the climate of ancient Germany over the minds and bodies of the natives. Many writers have supposed, and most have allowed, though, as it should seem, without any adequate proof, that the rigorous cold of the North was favorable to long life and generative vigor, that the women were more fruitful, and the human species more prolific, than in warmer or more temperate climates. [8] We may assert, with greater confidence, that the keen air of Germany formed the large and masculine limbs of the natives, who were, in general, of a more lofty stature than the people of the South, [9] gave them a kind of strength better adapted to violent exertions than to patient labor, and inspired them with constitutional bravery, which is the result of nerves and spirits. The severity of a winter campaign, that chilled the courage of the Roman troops, was scarcely felt by these hardy children of the North, [10] who, in their turn, were unable to resist the summer heats, and dissolved away in languor and sickness under the beams of an Italian sun. [11]

[Footnote 8: Olaus Rudbeck asserts that the Swedish women often bear ten or twelve children, and not uncommonly twenty or thirty; but the authority of Rudbeck is much to be suspected.]

[Footnote 9: In hos artus, in haec corpora, quae miramur, excrescunt. Taeit Germania, 3, 20. Cluver. l. i. c. 14.]

[Footnote 10: Plutarch. in Mario. The Cimbri, by way of amusement, often did down mountains of snow on their broad shields.]

[Footnote 11: The Romans made war in all climates, and by their excellent discipline were in a great measure preserved in health and vigor. It may be remarked, that man is the only animal which can live and multiply in every country from the equator to the poles. The hog seems to approach the nearest to our species in that privilege.]



Chapter IX: State Of Germany Until The Barbarians.—Part II.

There is not any where upon the globe a large tract of country, which we have discovered destitute of inhabitants, or whose first population can be fixed with any degree of historical certainty. And yet, as the most philosophic minds can seldom refrain from investigating the infancy of great nations, our curiosity consumes itself in toilsome and disappointed efforts. When Tacitus considered the purity of the German blood, and the forbidding aspect of the country, he was disposed to pronounce those barbarians Indigence, or natives of the soil. We may allow with safety, and perhaps with truth, that ancient Germany was not originally peopled by any foreign colonies already formed into a political society; [12] but that the name and nation received their existence from the gradual union of some wandering savages of the Hercynian woods. To assert those savages to have been the spontaneous production of the earth which they inhabited would be a rash inference, condemned by religion, and unwarranted by reason.

[Footnote 12: Facit. Germ. c. 3. The emigration of the Gauls followed the course of the Danube, and discharged itself on Greece and Asia. Tacitus could discover only one inconsiderable tribe that retained any traces of a Gallic origin. * Note: The Gothini, who must not be confounded with the Gothi, a Suevian tribe. In the time of Caesar many other tribes of Gaulish origin dwelt along the course of the Danube, who could not long resist the attacks of the Suevi. The Helvetians, who dwelt on the borders of the Black Forest, between the Maine and the Danube, had been expelled long before the time of Caesar. He mentions also the Volci Tectosagi, who came from Languedoc and settled round the Black Forest. The Boii, who had penetrated into that forest, and also have left traces of their name in Bohemia, were subdued in the first century by the Marcomanni. The Boii settled in Noricum, were mingled afterwards with the Lombards, and received the name of Boio Arii (Bavaria) or Boiovarii: var, in some German dialects, appearing to mean remains, descendants. Compare Malte B-m, Geography, vol. i. p. 410, edit 1832—M.]

Such rational doubt is but ill suited with the genius of popular vanity. Among the nations who have adopted the Mosaic history of the world, the ark of Noah has been of the same use, as was formerly to the Greeks and Romans the siege of Troy. On a narrow basis of acknowledged truth, an immense but rude superstructure of fable has been erected; and the wild Irishman, [13] as well as the wild Tartar, [14] could point out the individual son of Japhet, from whose loins his ancestors were lineally descended. The last century abounded with antiquarians of profound learning and easy faith, who, by the dim light of legends and traditions, of conjectures and etymologies, conducted the great grandchildren of Noah from the Tower of Babel to the extremities of the globe. Of these judicious critics, one of the most entertaining was Oaus Rudbeck, professor in the university of Upsal. [15] Whatever is celebrated either in history or fable, this zealous patriot ascribes to his country. From Sweden (which formed so considerable a part of ancient Germany) the Greeks themselves derived their alphabetical characters, their astronomy, and their religion. Of that delightful region (for such it appeared to the eyes of a native) the Atlantis of Plato, the country of the Hyperboreans, the gardens of the Hesperides, the Fortunate Islands, and even the Elysian Fields, were all but faint and imperfect transcripts. A clime so profusely favored by Nature could not long remain desert after the flood. The learned Rudbeck allows the family of Noah a few years to multiply from eight to about twenty thousand persons. He then disperses them into small colonies to replenish the earth, and to propagate the human species. The German or Swedish detachment (which marched, if I am not mistaken, under the command of Askenaz, the son of Gomer, the son of Japhet) distinguished itself by a more than common diligence in the prosecution of this great work. The northern hive cast its swarms over the greatest part of Europe, Africa, and Asia; and (to use the author's metaphor) the blood circulated from the extremities to the heart.

[Footnote 13: According to Dr. Keating, (History of Ireland, p. 13, 14,) the giant Portholanus, who was the son of Seara, the son of Esra, the son of Sru, the son of Framant, the son of Fathaclan, the son of Magog, the son of Japhet, the son of Noah, landed on the coast of Munster the 14th day of May, in the year of the world one thousand nine hundred and seventy-eight. Though he succeeded in his great enterprise, the loose behavior of his wife rendered his domestic life very unhappy, and provoked him to such a degree, that he killed—her favorite greyhound. This, as the learned historian very properly observes, was the first instance of female falsehood and infidelity ever known in Ireland.]

[Footnote 14: Genealogical History of the Tartars, by Abulghazi Bahadur Khan.]

[Footnote 15: His work, entitled Atlantica, is uncommonly scarce. Bayle has given two most curious extracts from it. Republique des Lettres Janvier et Fevrier, 1685.]

But all this well-labored system of German antiquities is annihilated by a single fact, too well attested to admit of any doubt, and of too decisive a nature to leave room for any reply. The Germans, in the age of Tacitus, were unacquainted with the use of letters; [16] and the use of letters is the principal circumstance that distinguishes a civilized people from a herd of savages incapable of knowledge or reflection. Without that artificial help, the human memory soon dissipates or corrupts the ideas intrusted to her charge; and the nobler faculties of the mind, no longer supplied with models or with materials, gradually forget their powers; the judgment becomes feeble and lethargic, the imagination languid or irregular. Fully to apprehend this important truth, let us attempt, in an improved society, to calculate the immense distance between the man of learning and the illiterate peasant. The former, by reading and reflection, multiplies his own experience, and lives in distant ages and remote countries; whilst the latter, rooted to a single spot, and confined to a few years of existence, surpasses but very little his fellow-laborer, the ox, in the exercise of his mental faculties. The same, and even a greater, difference will be found between nations than between individuals; and we may safely pronounce, that without some species of writing, no people has ever preserved the faithful annals of their history, ever made any considerable progress in the abstract sciences, or ever possessed, in any tolerable degree of perfection, the useful and agreeable arts of life.

[Footnote 16: Tacit. Germ. ii. 19. Literarum secreta viri pariter ac foeminae ignorant. We may rest contented with this decisive authority, without entering into the obscure disputes concerning the antiquity of the Runic characters. The learned Celsius, a Swede, a scholar, and a philosopher, was of opinion, that they were nothing more than the Roman letters, with the curves changed into straight lines for the ease of engraving. See Pelloutier, Histoire des Celtes, l. ii. c. 11. Dictionnaire Diplomatique, tom. i. p. 223. We may add, that the oldest Runic inscriptions are supposed to be of the third century, and the most ancient writer who mentions the Runic characters is Venan tius Frotunatus, (Carm. vii. 18,) who lived towards the end of the sixth century. Barbara fraxineis pingatur Runa tabellis. * Note: The obscure subject of the Runic characters has exercised the industry and ingenuity of the modern scholars of the north. There are three distinct theories; one, maintained by Schlozer, (Nordische Geschichte, p. 481, &c.,) who considers their sixteen letters to be a corruption of the Roman alphabet, post-Christian in their date, and Schlozer would attribute their introduction into the north to the Alemanni. The second, that of Frederick Schlegel, (Vorlesungen uber alte und neue Literatur,) supposes that these characters were left on the coasts of the Mediterranean and Northern Seas by the Phoenicians, preserved by the priestly castes, and employed for purposes of magic. Their common origin from the Phoenician would account for heir similarity to the Roman letters. The last, to which we incline, claims much higher and more venerable antiquity for the Runic, and supposes them to have been the original characters of the Indo-Teutonic tribes, brought from the East, and preserved among the different races of that stock. See Ueber Deutsche Runen von W. C. Grimm, 1821. A Memoir by Dr. Legis. Fundgruben des alten Nordens. Foreign Quarterly Review vol. ix. p. 438.—M.]

Of these arts, the ancient Germans were wretchedly destitute. [1601] They passed their lives in a state of ignorance and poverty, which it has pleased some declaimers to dignify with the appellation of virtuous simplicity. Modern Germany is said to contain about two thousand three hundred walled towns. [17] In a much wider extent of country, the geographer Ptolemy could discover no more than ninety places which he decorates with the name of cities; [18] though, according to our ideas, they would but ill deserve that splendid title. We can only suppose them to have been rude fortifications, constructed in the centre of the woods, and designed to secure the women, children, and cattle, whilst the warriors of the tribe marched out to repel a sudden invasion. [19] But Tacitus asserts, as a well-known fact, that the Germans, in his time, had no cities; [20] and that they affected to despise the works of Roman industry, as places of confinement rather than of security. [21] Their edifices were not even contiguous, or formed into regular villas; [22] each barbarian fixed his independent dwelling on the spot to which a plain, a wood, or a stream of fresh water, had induced him to give the preference. Neither stone, nor brick, nor tiles, were employed in these slight habitations. [23] They were indeed no more than low huts, of a circular figure, built of rough timber, thatched with straw, and pierced at the top to leave a free passage for the smoke. In the most inclement winter, the hardy German was satisfied with a scanty garment made of the skin of some animal. The nations who dwelt towards the North clothed themselves in furs; and the women manufactured for their own use a coarse kind of linen. [24] The game of various sorts, with which the forests of Germany were plentifully stocked, supplied its inhabitants with food and exercise. [25] Their monstrous herds of cattle, less remarkable indeed for their beauty than for their utility, [26] formed the principal object of their wealth. A small quantity of corn was the only produce exacted from the earth; the use of orchards or artificial meadows was unknown to the Germans; nor can we expect any improvements in agriculture from a people, whose prosperity every year experienced a general change by a new division of the arable lands, and who, in that strange operation, avoided disputes, by suffering a great part of their territory to lie waste and without tillage. [27]

[Footnote 1601: Luden (the author of the Geschichte des Teutschen Volkes) has surpassed most writers in his patriotic enthusiasm for the virtues and noble manners of his ancestors. Even the cold of the climate, and the want of vines and fruit trees, as well as the barbarism of the inhabitants, are calumnies of the luxurious Italians. M. Guizot, on the other side, (in his Histoire de la Civilisation, vol. i. p. 272, &c.,) has drawn a curious parallel between the Germans of Tacitus and the North American Indians.—M.]

[Footnote 17: Recherches Philosophiques sur les Americains, tom. iii. p. 228. The author of that very curious work is, if I am not misinformed, a German by birth. (De Pauw.)]

[Footnote 18: The Alexandrian Geographer is often criticized by the accurate Cluverius.]

[Footnote 19: See Caesar, and the learned Mr. Whitaker in his History of Manchester, vol. i.]

[Footnote 20: Tacit. Germ. 15.]

[Footnote 21: When the Germans commanded the Ubii of Cologne to cast off the Roman yoke, and with their new freedom to resume their ancient manners, they insisted on the immediate demolition of the walls of the colony. "Postulamus a vobis, muros coloniae, munimenta servitii, detrahatis; etiam fera animalia, si clausa teneas, virtutis obliviscuntur." Tacit. Hist. iv. 64.]

[Footnote 22: The straggling villages of Silesia are several miles in length. See Cluver. l. i. c. 13.]

[Footnote 23: One hundred and forty years after Tacitus, a few more regular structures were erected near the Rhine and Danube. Herodian, l. vii. p. 234.]

[Footnote 24: Tacit. Germ. 17.]

[Footnote 25: Tacit. Germ. 5.]

[Footnote 26: Caesar de Bell. Gall. vi. 21.]

[Footnote 27: Tacit. Germ. 26. Caesar, vi. 22.]

Gold, silver, and iron, were extremely scarce in Germany. Its barbarous inhabitants wanted both skill and patience to investigate those rich veins of silver, which have so liberally rewarded the attention of the princes of Brunswick and Saxony. Sweden, which now supplies Europe with iron, was equally ignorant of its own riches; and the appearance of the arms of the Germans furnished a sufficient proof how little iron they were able to bestow on what they must have deemed the noblest use of that metal. The various transactions of peace and war had introduced some Roman coins (chiefly silver) among the borderers of the Rhine and Danube; but the more distant tribes were absolutely unacquainted with the use of money, carried on their confined traffic by the exchange of commodities, and prized their rude earthen vessels as of equal value with the silver vases, the presents of Rome to their princes and ambassadors. [28] To a mind capable of reflection, such leading facts convey more instruction, than a tedious detail of subordinate circumstances. The value of money has been settled by general consent to express our wants and our property, as letters were invented to express our ideas; and both these institutions, by giving a more active energy to the powers and passions of human nature, have contributed to multiply the objects they were designed to represent. The use of gold and silver is in a great measure factitious; but it would be impossible to enumerate the important and various services which agriculture, and all the arts, have received from iron, when tempered and fashioned by the operation of fire, and the dexterous hand of man. Money, in a word, is the most universal incitement, iron the most powerful instrument, of human industry; and it is very difficult to conceive by what means a people, neither actuated by the one, nor seconded by the other, could emerge from the grossest barbarism. [29]

[Footnote 28: Tacit. Germ. 6.]

[Footnote 29: It is said that the Mexicans and Peruvians, without the use of either money or iron, had made a very great progress in the arts. Those arts, and the monuments they produced, have been strangely magnified. See Recherches sur les Americains, tom. ii. p. 153, &c]

If we contemplate a savage nation in any part of the globe, a supine indolence and a carelessness of futurity will be found to constitute their general character. In a civilized state, every faculty of man is expanded and exercised; and the great chain of mutual dependence connects and embraces the several members of society. The most numerous portion of it is employed in constant and useful labor. The select few, placed by fortune above that necessity, can, however, fill up their time by the pursuits of interest or glory, by the improvement of their estate or of their understanding, by the duties, the pleasures, and even the follies of social life. The Germans were not possessed of these varied resources. The care of the house and family, the management of the land and cattle, were delegated to the old and the infirm, to women and slaves. The lazy warrior, destitute of every art that might employ his leisure hours, consumed his days and nights in the animal gratifications of sleep and food. And yet, by a wonderful diversity of nature, (according to the remark of a writer who had pierced into its darkest recesses,) the same barbarians are by turns the most indolent and the most restless of mankind. They delight in sloth, they detest tranquility. [30] The languid soul, oppressed with its own weight, anxiously required some new and powerful sensation; and war and danger were the only amusements adequate to its fierce temper. The sound that summoned the German to arms was grateful to his ear. It roused him from his uncomfortable lethargy, gave him an active pursuit, and, by strong exercise of the body, and violent emotions of the mind, restored him to a more lively sense of his existence. In the dull intervals of peace, these barbarians were immoderately addicted to deep gaming and excessive drinking; both of which, by different means, the one by inflaming their passions, the other by extinguishing their reason, alike relieved them from the pain of thinking. They gloried in passing whole days and nights at table; and the blood of friends and relations often stained their numerous and drunken assemblies. [31] Their debts of honor (for in that light they have transmitted to us those of play) they discharged with the most romantic fidelity. The desperate gamester, who had staked his person and liberty on a last throw of the dice, patiently submitted to the decision of fortune, and suffered himself to be bound, chastised, and sold into remote slavery, by his weaker but more lucky antagonist. [32]

[Footnote 30: Tacit. Germ. 15.]

[Footnote 31: Tacit. Germ. 22, 23.]

[Footnote 32: Id. 24. The Germans might borrow the arts of play from the Romans, but the passion is wonderfully inherent in the human species.]

Strong beer, a liquor extracted with very little art from wheat or barley, and corrupted (as it is strongly expressed by Tacitus) into a certain semblance of wine, was sufficient for the gross purposes of German debauchery. But those who had tasted the rich wines of Italy, and afterwards of Gaul, sighed for that more delicious species of intoxication. They attempted not, however, (as has since been executed with so much success,) to naturalize the vine on the banks of the Rhine and Danube; nor did they endeavor to procure by industry the materials of an advantageous commerce. To solicit by labor what might be ravished by arms, was esteemed unworthy of the German spirit. [33] The intemperate thirst of strong liquors often urged the barbarians to invade the provinces on which art or nature had bestowed those much envied presents. The Tuscan who betrayed his country to the Celtic nations, attracted them into Italy by the prospect of the rich fruits and delicious wines, the productions of a happier climate. [34] And in the same manner the German auxiliaries, invited into France during the civil wars of the sixteenth century, were allured by the promise of plenteous quarters in the provinces of Champaigne and Burgundy. [35] Drunkenness, the most illiberal, but not the most dangerous of our vices, was sometimes capable, in a less civilized state of mankind, of occasioning a battle, a war, or a revolution.

[Footnote 33: Tacit. Germ. 14.]

[Footnote 34: Plutarch. in Camillo. T. Liv. v. 33.]

[Footnote 35: Dubos. Hist. de la Monarchie Francoise, tom. i. p. 193.]

The climate of ancient Germany has been modified, and the soil fertilized, by the labor of ten centuries from the time of Charlemagne. The same extent of ground which at present maintains, in ease and plenty, a million of husbandmen and artificers, was unable to supply a hundred thousand lazy warriors with the simple necessaries of life. [36] The Germans abandoned their immense forests to the exercise of hunting, employed in pasturage the most considerable part of their lands, bestowed on the small remainder a rude and careless cultivation, and then accused the scantiness and sterility of a country that refused to maintain the multitude of its inhabitants. When the return of famine severely admonished them of the importance of the arts, the national distress was sometimes alleviated by the emigration of a third, perhaps, or a fourth part of their youth. [37] The possession and the enjoyment of property are the pledges which bind a civilized people to an improved country. But the Germans, who carried with them what they most valued, their arms, their cattle, and their women, cheerfully abandoned the vast silence of their woods for the unbounded hopes of plunder and conquest. The innumerable swarms that issued, or seemed to issue, from the great storehouse of nations, were multiplied by the fears of the vanquished, and by the credulity of succeeding ages. And from facts thus exaggerated, an opinion was gradually established, and has been supported by writers of distinguished reputation, that, in the age of Caesar and Tacitus, the inhabitants of the North were far more numerous than they are in our days. [38] A more serious inquiry into the causes of population seems to have convinced modern philosophers of the falsehood, and indeed the impossibility, of the supposition. To the names of Mariana and of Machiavel, [39] we can oppose the equal names of Robertson and Hume. [40]

[Footnote 36: The Helvetian nation, which issued from a country called Switzerland, contained, of every age and sex, 368,000 persons, (Caesar de Bell. Gal. i. 29.) At present, the number of people in the Pays de Vaud (a small district on the banks of the Leman Lake, much more distinguished for politeness than for industry) amounts to 112,591. See an excellent tract of M. Muret, in the Memoires de la Societe de Born.]

[Footnote 37: Paul Diaconus, c. 1, 2, 3. Machiavel, Davila, and the rest of Paul's followers, represent these emigrations too much as regular and concerted measures.]

[Footnote 38: Sir William Temple and Montesquieu have indulged, on this subject, the usual liveliness of their fancy.]

[Footnote 39: Machiavel, Hist. di Firenze, l. i. Mariana, Hist. Hispan. l. v. c. 1]

[Footnote 40: Robertson's Charles V. Hume's Political Essays. Note: It is a wise observation of Malthus, that these nations "were not populous in proportion to the land they occupied, but to the food they produced." They were prolific from their pure morals and constitutions, but their institutions were not calculated to produce food for those whom they brought into being.—M—1845.]

A warlike nation like the Germans, without either cities, letters, arts, or money, found some compensation for this savage state in the enjoyment of liberty. Their poverty secured their freedom, since our desires and our possessions are the strongest fetters of despotism. "Among the Suiones (says Tacitus) riches are held in honor. They are therefore subject to an absolute monarch, who, instead of intrusting his people with the free use of arms, as is practised in the rest of Germany, commits them to the safe custody, not of a citizen, or even of a freedman, but of a slave. The neighbors of the Suiones, the Sitones, are sunk even below servitude; they obey a woman." [41] In the mention of these exceptions, the great historian sufficiently acknowledges the general theory of government. We are only at a loss to conceive by what means riches and despotism could penetrate into a remote corner of the North, and extinguish the generous flame that blazed with such fierceness on the frontier of the Roman provinces, or how the ancestors of those Danes and Norwegians, so distinguished in latter ages by their unconquered spirit, could thus tamely resign the great character of German liberty. [42] Some tribes, however, on the coast of the Baltic, acknowledged the authority of kings, though without relinquishing the rights of men, [43] but in the far greater part of Germany, the form of government was a democracy, tempered, indeed, and controlled, not so much by general and positive laws, as by the occasional ascendant of birth or valor, of eloquence or superstition. [44]

[Footnote 41: Tacit. German. 44, 45. Freinshemius (who dedicated his supplement to Livy to Christina of Sweden) thinks proper to be very angry with the Roman who expressed so very little reverence for Northern queens. Note: The Suiones and the Sitones are the ancient inhabitants of Scandinavia, their name may be traced in that of Sweden; they did not belong to the race of the Suevi, but that of the non-Suevi or Cimbri, whom the Suevi, in very remote times, drove back part to the west, part to the north; they were afterwards mingled with Suevian tribes, among others the Goths, who have traces of their name and power in the isle of Gothland.—G]

[Footnote 42: May we not suspect that superstition was the parent of despotism? The descendants of Odin, (whose race was not extinct till the year 1060) are said to have reigned in Sweden above a thousand years. The temple of Upsal was the ancient seat of religion and empire. In the year 1153 I find a singular law, prohibiting the use and profession of arms to any except the king's guards. Is it not probable that it was colored by the pretence of reviving an old institution? See Dalin's History of Sweden in the Bibliotheque Raisonneo tom. xl. and xlv.]

[Footnote 43: Tacit. Germ. c. 43.]

[Footnote 44: Id. c. 11, 12, 13, & c.]

Civil governments, in their first institution, are voluntary associations for mutual defence. To obtain the desired end, it is absolutely necessary that each individual should conceive himself obliged to submit his private opinions and actions to the judgment of the greater number of his associates. The German tribes were contented with this rude but liberal outline of political society. As soon as a youth, born of free parents, had attained the age of manhood, he was introduced into the general council of his countrymen, solemnly invested with a shield and spear, and adopted as an equal and worthy member of the military commonwealth. The assembly of the warriors of the tribe was convened at stated seasons, or on sudden emergencies. The trial of public offences, the election of magistrates, and the great business of peace and war, were determined by its independent voice. Sometimes indeed, these important questions were previously considered and prepared in a more select council of the principal chieftains. [45] The magistrates might deliberate and persuade, the people only could resolve and execute; and the resolutions of the Germans were for the most part hasty and violent. Barbarians accustomed to place their freedom in gratifying the present passion, and their courage in overlooking all future consequences, turned away with indignant contempt from the remonstrances of justice and policy, and it was the practice to signify by a hollow murmur their dislike of such timid counsels. But whenever a more popular orator proposed to vindicate the meanest citizen from either foreign or domestic injury, whenever he called upon his fellow-countrymen to assert the national honor, or to pursue some enterprise full of danger and glory, a loud clashing of shields and spears expressed the eager applause of the assembly. For the Germans always met in arms, and it was constantly to be dreaded, lest an irregular multitude, inflamed with faction and strong liquors, should use those arms to enforce, as well as to declare, their furious resolves. We may recollect how often the diets of Poland have been polluted with blood, and the more numerous party has been compelled to yield to the more violent and seditious. [46]

[Footnote 45: Grotius changes an expression of Tacitus, pertractantur into Proetractantur. The correction is equally just and ingenious.]

[Footnote 46: Even in our ancient parliament, the barons often carried a question, not so much by the number of votes, as by that of their armed followers.]

A general of the tribe was elected on occasions of danger; and, if the danger was pressing and extensive, several tribes concurred in the choice of the same general. The bravest warrior was named to lead his countrymen into the field, by his example rather than by his commands. But this power, however limited, was still invidious. It expired with the war, and in time of peace the German tribes acknowledged not any supreme chief. [47] Princes were, however, appointed, in the general assembly, to administer justice, or rather to compose differences, [48] in their respective districts. In the choice of these magistrates, as much regard was shown to birth as to merit. [49] To each was assigned, by the public, a guard, and a council of a hundred persons, and the first of the princes appears to have enjoyed a preeminence of rank and honor which sometimes tempted the Romans to compliment him with the regal title. [50]

[Footnote 47: Caesar de Bell. Gal. vi. 23.]

[Footnote 48: Minuunt controversias, is a very happy expression of Caesar's.]

[Footnote 49: Reges ex nobilitate, duces ex virtute sumunt. Tacit Germ. 7]

[Footnote 50: Cluver. Germ. Ant. l. i. c. 38.]

The comparative view of the powers of the magistrates, in two remarkable instances, is alone sufficient to represent the whole system of German manners. The disposal of the landed property within their district was absolutely vested in their hands, and they distributed it every year according to a new division. [51] At the same time they were not authorized to punish with death, to imprison, or even to strike a private citizen. [52] A people thus jealous of their persons, and careless of their possessions, must have been totally destitute of industry and the arts, but animated with a high sense of honor and independence.

[Footnote 51: Caesar, vi. 22. Tacit Germ. 26.]

[Footnote 52: Tacit. Germ. 7.]



Chapter IX: State Of Germany Until The Barbarians.—Part III.

The Germans respected only those duties which they imposed on themselves. The most obscure soldier resisted with disdain the authority of the magistrates. The noblest youths blushed not to be numbered among the faithful companions of some renowned chief, to whom they devoted their arms and service. A noble emulation prevailed among the companions, to obtain the first place in the esteem of their chief; amongst the chiefs, to acquire the greatest number of valiant companions. To be ever surrounded by a band of select youths was the pride and strength of the chiefs, their ornament in peace, their defence in war. The glory of such distinguished heroes diffused itself beyond the narrow limits of their own tribe. Presents and embassies solicited their friendship, and the fame of their arms often insured victory to the party which they espoused. In the hour of danger it was shameful for the chief to be surpassed in valor by his companions; shameful for the companions not to equal the valor of their chief. To survive his fall in battle, was indelible infamy. To protect his person, and to adorn his glory with the trophies of their own exploits, were the most sacred of their duties. The chiefs combated for victory, the companions for the chief. The noblest warriors, whenever their native country was sunk into the laziness of peace, maintained their numerous bands in some distant scene of action, to exercise their restless spirit, and to acquire renown by voluntary dangers. Gifts worthy of soldiers—the warlike steed, the bloody and even victorious lance—were the rewards which the companions claimed from the liberality of their chief. The rude plenty of his hospitable board was the only pay that he could bestow, or they would accept. War, rapine, and the free-will offerings of his friends, supplied the materials of this munificence. [53] This institution, however it might accidentally weaken the several republics, invigorated the general character of the Germans, and even ripened amongst them all the virtues of which barbarians are susceptible; the faith and valor, the hospitality and the courtesy, so conspicuous long afterwards in the ages of chivalry.

The honorable gifts, bestowed by the chief on his brave companions, have been supposed, by an ingenious writer, to contain the first rudiments of the fiefs, distributed after the conquest of the Roman provinces, by the barbarian lords among their vassals, with a similar duty of homage and military service. [54] These conditions are, however, very repugnant to the maxims of the ancient Germans, who delighted in mutual presents; but without either imposing, or accepting, the weight of obligations. [55]

[Footnote 53: Tacit. Germ. 13, 14.]

[Footnote 54: Esprit des Loix, l. xxx. c. 3. The brilliant imagination of Montesquieu is corrected, however, by the dry, cold reason of the Abbe de Mably. Observations sur l'Histoire de France, tom. i. p. 356.]

[Footnote 55: Gaudent muneribus, sed nec data imputant, nec acceptis obligautur. Tacit. Germ. c. 21.]

"In the days of chivalry, or more properly of romance, all the men were brave, and all the women were chaste;" and notwithstanding the latter of these virtues is acquired and preserved with much more difficulty than the former, it is ascribed, almost without exception, to the wives of the ancient Germans. Polygamy was not in use, except among the princes, and among them only for the sake of multiplying their alliances. Divorces were prohibited by manners rather than by laws. Adulteries were punished as rare and inexpiable crimes; nor was seduction justified by example and fashion. [56] We may easily discover that Tacitus indulges an honest pleasure in the contrast of barbarian virtue with the dissolute conduct of the Roman ladies; yet there are some striking circumstances that give an air of truth, or at least probability, to the conjugal faith and chastity of the Germans.

[Footnote 56: The adulteress was whipped through the village. Neither wealth nor beauty could inspire compassion, or procure her a second husband. 18, 19.]

Although the progress of civilization has undoubtedly contributed to assuage the fiercer passions of human nature, it seems to have been less favorable to the virtue of chastity, whose most dangerous enemy is the softness of the mind. The refinements of life corrupt while they polish the intercourse of the sexes. The gross appetite of love becomes most dangerous when it is elevated, or rather, indeed, disguised by sentimental passion. The elegance of dress, of motion, and of manners, gives a lustre to beauty, and inflames the senses through the imagination. Luxurious entertainments, midnight dances, and licentious spectacles, present at once temptation and opportunity to female frailty. [57] From such dangers the unpolished wives of the barbarians were secured by poverty, solitude, and the painful cares of a domestic life. The German huts, open, on every side, to the eye of indiscretion or jealousy, were a better safeguard of conjugal fidelity, than the walls, the bolts, and the eunuchs of a Persian haram. To this reason another may be added, of a more honorable nature. The Germans treated their women with esteem and confidence, consulted them on every occasion of importance, and fondly believed, that in their breasts resided a sanctity and wisdom more than human. Some of the interpreters of fate, such as Velleda, in the Batavian war, governed, in the name of the deity, the fiercest nations of Germany. [58] The rest of the sex, without being adored as goddesses, were respected as the free and equal companions of soldiers; associated even by the marriage ceremony to a life of toil, of danger, and of glory. [59] In their great invasions, the camps of the barbarians were filled with a multitude of women, who remained firm and undaunted amidst the sound of arms, the various forms of destruction, and the honorable wounds of their sons and husbands. [60] Fainting armies of Germans have, more than once, been driven back upon the enemy, by the generous despair of the women, who dreaded death much less than servitude. If the day was irrecoverably lost, they well knew how to deliver themselves and their children, with their own hands, from an insulting victor. [61] Heroines of such a cast may claim our admiration; but they were most assuredly neither lovely, nor very susceptible of love. Whilst they affected to emulate the stern virtues of man, they must have resigned that attractive softness, in which principally consist the charm and weakness of woman. Conscious pride taught the German females to suppress every tender emotion that stood in competition with honor, and the first honor of the sex has ever been that of chastity. The sentiments and conduct of these high-spirited matrons may, at once, be considered as a cause, as an effect, and as a proof of the general character of the nation. Female courage, however it may be raised by fanaticism, or confirmed by habit, can be only a faint and imperfect imitation of the manly valor that distinguishes the age or country in which it may be found.

[Footnote 57: Ovid employs two hundred lines in the research of places the most favorable to love. Above all, he considers the theatre as the best adapted to collect the beauties of Rome, and to melt them into tenderness and sensuality,]

[Footnote 58: Tacit. Germ. iv. 61, 65.]

[Footnote 59: The marriage present was a yoke of oxen, horses, and arms. See Germ. c. 18. Tacitus is somewhat too florid on the subject.]

[Footnote 60: The change of exigere into exugere is a most excellent correction.]

[Footnote 61: Tacit. Germ. c. 7. Plutarch in Mario. Before the wives of the Teutones destroyed themselves and their children, they had offered to surrender, on condition that they should be received as the slaves of the vestal virgins.]

The religious system of the Germans (if the wild opinions of savages can deserve that name) was dictated by their wants, their fears, and their ignorance. [62] They adored the great visible objects and agents of nature, the Sun and the Moon, the Fire and the Earth; together with those imaginary deities, who were supposed to preside over the most important occupations of human life. They were persuaded, that, by some ridiculous arts of divination, they could discover the will of the superior beings, and that human sacrifices were the most precious and acceptable offering to their altars. Some applause has been hastily bestowed on the sublime notion, entertained by that people, of the Deity, whom they neither confined within the walls of the temple, nor represented by any human figure; but when we recollect, that the Germans were unskilled in architecture, and totally unacquainted with the art of sculpture, we shall readily assign the true reason of a scruple, which arose not so much from a superiority of reason, as from a want of ingenuity. The only temples in Germany were dark and ancient groves, consecrated by the reverence of succeeding generations. Their secret gloom, the imagined residence of an invisible power, by presenting no distinct object of fear or worship, impressed the mind with a still deeper sense of religious horror; [63] and the priests, rude and illiterate as they were, had been taught by experience the use of every artifice that could preserve and fortify impressions so well suited to their own interest.

[Footnote 62: Tacitus has employed a few lines, and Cluverius one hundred and twenty-four pages, on this obscure subject. The former discovers in Germany the gods of Greece and Rome. The latter is positive, that, under the emblems of the sun, the moon, and the fire, his pious ancestors worshipped the Trinity in unity]

[Footnote 63: The sacred wood, described with such sublime horror by Lucan, was in the neighborhood of Marseilles; but there were many of the same kind in Germany. * Note: The ancient Germans had shapeless idols, and, when they began to build more settled habitations, they raised also temples, such as that to the goddess Teufana, who presided over divination. See Adelung, Hist. of Ane Germans, p 296—G]

The same ignorance, which renders barbarians incapable of conceiving or embracing the useful restraints of laws, exposes them naked and unarmed to the blind terrors of superstition. The German priests, improving this favorable temper of their countrymen, had assumed a jurisdiction even in temporal concerns, which the magistrate could not venture to exercise; and the haughty warrior patiently submitted to the lash of correction, when it was inflicted, not by any human power, but by the immediate order of the god of war. [64] The defects of civil policy were sometimes supplied by the interposition of ecclesiastical authority. The latter was constantly exerted to maintain silence and decency in the popular assemblies; and was sometimes extended to a more enlarged concern for the national welfare. A solemn procession was occasionally celebrated in the present countries of Mecklenburgh and Pomerania. The unknown symbol of the Earth, covered with a thick veil, was placed on a carriage drawn by cows; and in this manner the goddess, whose common residence was in the Isles of Rugen, visited several adjacent tribes of her worshippers. During her progress the sound of war was hushed, quarrels were suspended, arms laid aside, and the restless Germans had an opportunity of tasting the blessings of peace and harmony. [65] The truce of God, so often and so ineffectually proclaimed by the clergy of the eleventh century, was an obvious imitation of this ancient custom. [66]

[Footnote 64: Tacit. Germania, c. 7.]

[Footnote 65: Tacit. Germania, c. 40.]

[Footnote 66: See Dr. Robertson's History of Charles V. vol. i. note 10.]

But the influence of religion was far more powerful to inflame, than to moderate, the fierce passions of the Germans. Interest and fanaticism often prompted its ministers to sanctify the most daring and the most unjust enterprises, by the approbation of Heaven, and full assurances of success. The consecrated standards, long revered in the groves of superstition, were placed in the front of the battle; [67] and the hostile army was devoted with dire execrations to the gods of war and of thunder. [68] In the faith of soldiers (and such were the Germans) cowardice is the most unpardonable of sins. A brave man was the worthy favorite of their martial deities; the wretch who had lost his shield was alike banished from the religious and civil assemblies of his countrymen. Some tribes of the north seem to have embraced the doctrine of transmigration, [69] others imagined a gross paradise of immortal drunkenness. [70] All agreed, that a life spent in arms, and a glorious death in battle, were the best preparations for a happy futurity, either in this or in another world.

[Footnote 67: Tacit. Germania, c. 7. These standards were only the heads of wild beasts.]

[Footnote 68: See an instance of this custom, Tacit. Annal. xiii. 57.]

[Footnote 69: Caesar Diodorus, and Lucan, seem to ascribe this doctrine to the Gauls, but M. Pelloutier (Histoire des Celtes, l. iii. c. 18) labors to reduce their expressions to a more orthodox sense.]

[Footnote 70: Concerning this gross but alluring doctrine of the Edda, see Fable xx. in the curious version of that book, published by M. Mallet, in his Introduction to the History of Denmark.]

The immortality so vainly promised by the priests, was, in some degree, conferred by the bards. That singular order of men has most deservedly attracted the notice of all who have attempted to investigate the antiquities of the Celts, the Scandinavians, and the Germans. Their genius and character, as well as the reverence paid to that important office, have been sufficiently illustrated. But we cannot so easily express, or even conceive, the enthusiasm of arms and glory which they kindled in the breast of their audience. Among a polished people, a taste for poetry is rather an amusement of the fancy, than a passion of the soul. And yet, when in calm retirement we peruse the combats described by Homer or Tasso, we are insensibly seduced by the fiction, and feel a momentary glow of martial ardor. But how faint, how cold is the sensation which a peaceful mind can receive from solitary study! It was in the hour of battle, or in the feast of victory, that the bards celebrated the glory of the heroes of ancient days, the ancestors of those warlike chieftains, who listened with transport to their artless but animated strains. The view of arms and of danger heightened the effect of the military song; and the passions which it tended to excite, the desire of fame, and the contempt of death, were the habitual sentiments of a German mind. [71] [711]

[Footnote 71: See Tacit. Germ. c. 3. Diod. Sicul. l. v. Strabo, l. iv. p. 197. The classical reader may remember the rank of Demodocus in the Phaeacian court, and the ardor infused by Tyrtaeus into the fainting Spartans. Yet there is little probability that the Greeks and the Germans were the same people. Much learned trifling might be spared, if our antiquarians would condescend to reflect, that similar manners will naturally be produced by similar situations.]

[Footnote 711: Besides these battle songs, the Germans sang at their festival banquets, (Tac. Ann. i. 65,) and around the bodies of their slain heroes. King Theodoric, of the tribe of the Goths, killed in a battle against Attila, was honored by songs while he was borne from the field of battle. Jornandes, c. 41. The same honor was paid to the remains of Attila. Ibid. c. 49. According to some historians, the Germans had songs also at their weddings; but this appears to me inconsistent with their customs, in which marriage was no more than the purchase of a wife. Besides, there is but one instance of this, that of the Gothic king, Ataulph, who sang himself the nuptial hymn when he espoused Placidia, sister of the emperors Arcadius and Honorius, (Olympiodor. p. 8.) But this marriage was celebrated according to the Roman rites, of which the nuptial songs formed a part. Adelung, p. 382.—G. Charlemagne is said to have collected the national songs of the ancient Germans. Eginhard, Vit. Car. Mag.—M.]

Such was the situation, and such were the manners of the ancient Germans. Their climate, their want of learning, of arts, and of laws, their notions of honor, of gallantry, and of religion, their sense of freedom, impatience of peace, and thirst of enterprise, all contributed to form a people of military heroes. And yet we find, that during more than two hundred and fifty years that elapsed from the defeat of Varus to the reign of Decius, these formidable barbarians made few considerable attempts, and not any material impression on the luxurious and enslaved provinces of the empire. Their progress was checked by their want of arms and discipline, and their fury was diverted by the intestine divisions of ancient Germany. I. It has been observed, with ingenuity, and not without truth, that the command of iron soon gives a nation the command of gold. But the rude tribes of Germany, alike destitute of both those valuable metals, were reduced slowly to acquire, by their unassisted strength, the possession of the one as well as the other. The face of a German army displayed their poverty of iron. Swords, and the longer kind of lances, they could seldom use. Their frameoe (as they called them in their own language) were long spears headed with a sharp but narrow iron point, and which, as occasion required, they either darted from a distance, or pushed in close onset. With this spear, and with a shield, their cavalry was contented. A multitude of darts, scattered [72] with incredible force, were an additional resource of the infantry. Their military dress, when they wore any, was nothing more than a loose mantle. A variety of colors was the only ornament of their wooden or osier shields. Few of the chiefs were distinguished by cuirasses, scarcely any by helmets. Though the horses of Germany were neither beautiful, swift, nor practised in the skilful evolutions of the Roman manege, several of the nations obtained renown by their cavalry; but, in general, the principal strength of the Germans consisted in their infantry, [73] which was drawn up in several deep columns, according to the distinction of tribes and families. Impatient of fatigue and delay, these half-armed warriors rushed to battle with dissonant shouts and disordered ranks; and sometimes, by the effort of native valor, prevailed over the constrained and more artificial bravery of the Roman mercenaries. But as the barbarians poured forth their whole souls on the first onset, they knew not how to rally or to retire. A repulse was a sure defeat; and a defeat was most commonly total destruction. When we recollect the complete armor of the Roman soldiers, their discipline, exercises, evolutions, fortified camps, and military engines, it appears a just matter of surprise, how the naked and unassisted valor of the barbarians could dare to encounter, in the field, the strength of the legions, and the various troops of the auxiliaries, which seconded their operations. The contest was too unequal, till the introduction of luxury had enervated the vigor, and a spirit of disobedience and sedition had relaxed the discipline, of the Roman armies. The introduction of barbarian auxiliaries into those armies, was a measure attended with very obvious dangers, as it might gradually instruct the Germans in the arts of war and of policy. Although they were admitted in small numbers and with the strictest precaution, the example of Civilis was proper to convince the Romans, that the danger was not imaginary, and that their precautions were not always sufficient. [74] During the civil wars that followed the death of Nero, that artful and intrepid Batavian, whom his enemies condescended to compare with Hannibal and Sertorius, [75] formed a great design of freedom and ambition. Eight Batavian cohorts renowned in the wars of Britain and Italy, repaired to his standard. He introduced an army of Germans into Gaul, prevailed on the powerful cities of Treves and Langres to embrace his cause, defeated the legions, destroyed their fortified camps, and employed against the Romans the military knowledge which he had acquired in their service. When at length, after an obstinate struggle, he yielded to the power of the empire, Civilis secured himself and his country by an honorable treaty. The Batavians still continued to occupy the islands of the Rhine, [76] the allies, not the servants, of the Roman monarchy.

[Footnote 72: Missilia spargunt, Tacit. Germ. c. 6. Either that historian used a vague expression, or he meant that they were thrown at random.]

[Footnote 73: It was their principal distinction from the Sarmatians, who generally fought on horseback.]

[Footnote 74: The relation of this enterprise occupies a great part of the fourth and fifth books of the History of Tacitus, and is more remarkable for its eloquence than perspicuity. Sir Henry Saville has observed several inaccuracies.]

[Footnote 75: Tacit. Hist. iv. 13. Like them he had lost an eye.]

[Footnote 76: It was contained between the two branches of the old Rhine, as they subsisted before the face of the country was changed by art and nature. See Cluver German. Antiq. l. iii. c. 30, 37.]

II. The strength of ancient Germany appears formidable, when we consider the effects that might have been produced by its united effort. The wide extent of country might very possibly contain a million of warriors, as all who were of age to bear arms were of a temper to use them. But this fierce multitude, incapable of concerting or executing any plan of national greatness, was agitated by various and often hostile intentions. Germany was divided into more than forty independent states; and, even in each state, the union of the several tribes was extremely loose and precarious. The barbarians were easily provoked; they knew not how to forgive an injury, much less an insult; their resentments were bloody and implacable. The casual disputes that so frequently happened in their tumultuous parties of hunting or drinking, were sufficient to inflame the minds of whole nations; the private feuds of any considerable chieftains diffused itself among their followers and allies. To chastise the insolent, or to plunder the defenceless, were alike causes of war. The most formidable states of Germany affected to encompass their territories with a wide frontier of solitude and devastation. The awful distance preserved by their neighbors attested the terror of their arms, and in some measure defended them from the danger of unexpected incursions. [77]

[Footnote 77: Caesar de Bell. Gal. l. vi. 23.]

"The Bructeri [771] (it is Tacitus who now speaks) were totally exterminated by the neighboring tribes, [78] provoked by their insolence, allured by the hopes of spoil, and perhaps inspired by the tutelar deities of the empire. Above sixty thousand barbarians were destroyed; not by the Roman arms, but in our sight, and for our entertainment. May the nations, enemies of Rome, ever preserve this enmity to each other! We have now attained the utmost verge of prosperity, [79] and have nothing left to demand of fortune, except the discord of the barbarians." [80]—These sentiments, less worthy of the humanity than of the patriotism of Tacitus, express the invariable maxims of the policy of his countrymen. They deemed it a much safer expedient to divide than to combat the barbarians, from whose defeat they could derive neither honor nor advantage. The money and negotiations of Rome insinuated themselves into the heart of Germany; and every art of seduction was used with dignity, to conciliate those nations whom their proximity to the Rhine or Danube might render the most useful friends as well as the most troublesome enemies. Chiefs of renown and power were flattered by the most trifling presents, which they received either as marks of distinction, or as the instruments of luxury. In civil dissensions the weaker faction endeavored to strengthen its interest by entering into secret connections with the governors of the frontier provinces. Every quarrel among the Germans was fomented by the intrigues of Rome; and every plan of union and public good was defeated by the stronger bias of private jealousy and interest. [81]

[Footnote 771: The Bructeri were a non-Suevian tribe, who dwelt below the duchies of Oldenburgh, and Lauenburgh, on the borders of the Lippe, and in the Hartz Mountains. It was among them that the priestess Velleda obtained her renown.—G.]

[Footnote 78: They are mentioned, however, in the ivth and vth centuries by Nazarius, Ammianus, Claudian, &c., as a tribe of Franks. See Cluver. Germ. Antiq. l. iii. c. 13.]

[Footnote 79: Urgentibus is the common reading; but good sense, Lipsius, and some Mss. declare for Vergentibus.]

[Footnote 80: Tacit Germania, c. 33. The pious Abbe de la Bleterie is very angry with Tacitus, talks of the devil, who was a murderer from the beginning, &c., &c.]

[Footnote 81: Many traces of this policy may be discovered in Tacitus and Dion: and many more may be inferred from the principles of human nature.]

The general conspiracy which terrified the Romans under the reign of Marcus Antoninus, comprehended almost all the nations of Germany, and even Sarmatia, from the mouth of the Rhine to that of the Danube. [82] It is impossible for us to determine whether this hasty confederation was formed by necessity, by reason, or by passion; but we may rest assured, that the barbarians were neither allured by the indolence, nor provoked by the ambition, of the Roman monarch. This dangerous invasion required all the firmness and vigilance of Marcus. He fixed generals of ability in the several stations of attack, and assumed in person the conduct of the most important province on the Upper Danube. After a long and doubtful conflict, the spirit of the barbarians was subdued. The Quadi and the Marcomanni, [83] who had taken the lead in the war, were the most severely punished in its catastrophe. They were commanded to retire five miles [84] from their own banks of the Danube, and to deliver up the flower of the youth, who were immediately sent into Britain, a remote island, where they might be secure as hostages, and useful as soldiers. [85] On the frequent rebellions of the Quadi and Marcomanni, the irritated emperor resolved to reduce their country into the form of a province. His designs were disappointed by death. This formidable league, however, the only one that appears in the two first centuries of the Imperial history, was entirely dissipated, without leaving any traces behind in Germany.

[Footnote 82: Hist. Aug. p. 31. Ammian. Marcellin. l. xxxi. c. 5. Aurel. Victor. The emperor Marcus was reduced to sell the rich furniture of the palace, and to enlist slaves and robbers.]

[Footnote 83: The Marcomanni, a colony, who, from the banks of the Rhine occupied Bohemia and Moravia, had once erected a great and formidable monarchy under their king Maroboduus. See Strabo, l. vii. [p. 290.] Vell. Pat. ii. 108. Tacit. Annal. ii. 63. * Note: The Mark-manaen, the March-men or borderers. There seems little doubt that this was an appellation, rather than a proper name of a part of the great Suevian or Teutonic race.—M.]

[Footnote 84: Mr. Wotton (History of Rome, p. 166) increases the prohibition to ten times the distance. His reasoning is specious, but not conclusive. Five miles were sufficient for a fortified barrier.]

[Footnote 85: Dion, l. lxxi. and lxxii.]

In the course of this introductory chapter, we have confined ourselves to the general outlines of the manners of Germany, without attempting to describe or to distinguish the various tribes which filled that great country in the time of Caesar, of Tacitus, or of Ptolemy. As the ancient, or as new tribes successively present themselves in the series of this history, we shall concisely mention their origin, their situation, and their particular character. Modern nations are fixed and permanent societies, connected among themselves by laws and government, bound to their native soil by arts and agriculture. The German tribes were voluntary and fluctuating associations of soldiers, almost of savages. The same territory often changed its inhabitants in the tide of conquest and emigration. The same communities, uniting in a plan of defence or invasion, bestowed a new title on their new confederacy. The dissolution of an ancient confederacy restored to the independent tribes their peculiar but long-forgotten appellation. A victorious state often communicated its own name to a vanquished people. Sometimes crowds of volunteers flocked from all parts to the standard of a favorite leader; his camp became their country, and some circumstance of the enterprise soon gave a common denomination to the mixed multitude. The distinctions of the ferocious invaders were perpetually varied by themselves, and confounded by the astonished subjects of the Roman empire. [86]

[Footnote 86: See an excellent dissertation on the origin and migrations of nations, in the Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xviii. p. 48—71. It is seldom that the antiquarian and the philosopher are so happily blended.]

Wars, and the administration of public affairs, are the principal subjects of history; but the number of persons interested in these busy scenes is very different, according to the different condition of mankind. In great monarchies, millions of obedient subjects pursue their useful occupations in peace and obscurity. The attention of the writer, as well as of the reader, is solely confined to a court, a capital, a regular army, and the districts which happen to be the occasional scene of military operations. But a state of freedom and barbarism, the season of civil commotions, or the situation of petty republics, [87] raises almost every member of the community into action, and consequently into notice. The irregular divisions, and the restless motions, of the people of Germany, dazzle our imagination, and seem to multiply their numbers. The profuse enumeration of kings, of warriors, of armies and nations, inclines us to forget that the same objects are continually repeated under a variety of appellations, and that the most splendid appellations have been frequently lavished on the most inconsiderable objects.

[Footnote 87: Should we suspect that Athens contained only 21,000 citizens, and Sparta no more than 39,000? See Hume and Wallace on the number of mankind in ancient and modern times. * Note: This number, though too positively stated, is probably not far wrong, as an average estimate. On the subject of Athenian population, see St. Croix, Acad. des Inscrip. xlviii. Boeckh, Public Economy of Athens, i. 47. Eng Trans, Fynes Clinton, Fasti Hellenici, vol. i. p. 381. The latter author estimates the citizens of Sparta at 33,000—M.]



Chapter X: Emperors Decius, Gallus, Aemilianus, Valerian And Gallienus—Part I.

The Emperors Decius, Gallus, Aemilianus, Valerian, And Gallienus.—The General Irruption Of The Barbari Ans.—The Thirty Tyrants.

From the great secular games celebrated by Philip, to the death of the emperor Gallienus, there elapsed twenty years of shame and misfortune. During that calamitous period, every instant of time was marked, every province of the Roman world was afflicted, by barbarous invaders, and military tyrants, and the ruined empire seemed to approach the last and fatal moment of its dissolution. The confusion of the times, and the scarcity of authentic memorials, oppose equal difficulties to the historian, who attempts to preserve a clear and unbroken thread of narration. Surrounded with imperfect fragments, always concise, often obscure, and sometimes contradictory, he is reduced to collect, to compare, and to conjecture: and though he ought never to place his conjectures in the rank of facts, yet the knowledge of human nature, and of the sure operation of its fierce and unrestrained passions, might, on some occasions, supply the want of historical materials.

There is not, for instance, any difficulty in conceiving, that the successive murders of so many emperors had loosened all the ties of allegiance between the prince and people; that all the generals of Philip were disposed to imitate the example of their master; and that the caprice of armies, long since habituated to frequent and violent revolutions, might every day raise to the throne the most obscure of their fellow-soldiers. History can only add, that the rebellion against the emperor Philip broke out in the summer of the year two hundred and forty-nine, among the legions of Maesia; and that a subaltern officer, [1] named Marinus, was the object of their seditious choice. Philip was alarmed. He dreaded lest the treason of the Maesian army should prove the first spark of a general conflagration. Distracted with the consciousness of his guilt and of his danger, he communicated the intelligence to the senate. A gloomy silence prevailed, the effect of fear, and perhaps of disaffection; till at length Decius, one of the assembly, assuming a spirit worthy of his noble extraction, ventured to discover more intrepidity than the emperor seemed to possess. He treated the whole business with contempt, as a hasty and inconsiderate tumult, and Philip's rival as a phantom of royalty, who in a very few days would be destroyed by the same inconstancy that had created him. The speedy completion of the prophecy inspired Philip with a just esteem for so able a counsellor; and Decius appeared to him the only person capable of restoring peace and discipline to an army whose tumultuous spirit did not immediately subside after the murder of Marinus. Decius, [2] who long resisted his own nomination, seems to have insinuated the danger of presenting a leader of merit to the angry and apprehensive minds of the soldiers; and his prediction was again confirmed by the event. The legions of Maesia forced their judge to become their accomplice. They left him only the alternative of death or the purple. His subsequent conduct, after that decisive measure, was unavoidable. He conducted, or followed, his army to the confines of Italy, whither Philip, collecting all his force to repel the formidable competitor whom he had raised up, advanced to meet him. The Imperial troops were superior in number; but the rebels formed an army of veterans, commanded by an able and experienced leader. Philip was either killed in the battle, or put to death a few days afterwards at Verona. His son and associate in the empire was massacred at Rome by the Praetorian guards; and the victorious Decius, with more favorable circumstances than the ambition of that age can usually plead, was universally acknowledged by the senate and provinces. It is reported, that, immediately after his reluctant acceptance of the title of Augustus, he had assured Philip, by a private message, of his innocence and loyalty, solemnly protesting, that, on his arrival on Italy, he would resign the Imperial ornaments, and return to the condition of an obedient subject. His professions might be sincere; but in the situation where fortune had placed him, it was scarcely possible that he could either forgive or be forgiven. [3]

[Footnote 1: The expression used by Zosimus and Zonaras may signify that Marinus commanded a century, a cohort, or a legion.]

[Footnote 2: His birth at Bubalia, a little village in Pannonia, (Eutrop. ix. Victor. in Caesarib. et Epitom.,) seems to contradict, unless it was merely accidental, his supposed descent from the Decii. Six hundred years had bestowed nobility on the Decii: but at the commencement of that period, they were only plebeians of merit, and among the first who shared the consulship with the haughty patricians. Plebeine Deciorum animae, &c. Juvenal, Sat. viii. 254. See the spirited speech of Decius, in Livy. x. 9, 10.]

[Footnote 3: Zosimus, l. i. p. 20, c. 22. Zonaras, l. xii. p. 624, edit. Louvre.]

The emperor Decius had employed a few months in the works of peace and the administration of justice, when he was summoned to the banks of the Danube by the invasion of the Goths. This is the first considerable occasion in which history mentions that great people, who afterwards broke the Roman power, sacked the Capitol, and reigned in Gaul, Spain, and Italy. So memorable was the part which they acted in the subversion of the Western empire, that the name of Goths is frequently but improperly used as a general appellation ef rude and warlike barbarism.

In the beginning of the sixth century, and after the conquest of Italy, the Goths, in possession of present greatness, very naturally indulged themselves in the prospect of past and of future glory. They wished to preserve the memory of their ancestors, and to transmit to posterity their own achievements. The principal minister of the court of Ravenna, the learned Cassiodorus, gratified the inclination of the conquerors in a Gothic history, which consisted of twelve books, now reduced to the imperfect abridgment of Jornandes. [4] These writers passed with the most artful conciseness over the misfortunes of the nation, celebrated its successful valor, and adorned the triumph with many Asiatic trophies, that more properly belonged to the people of Scythia. On the faith of ancient songs, the uncertain, but the only memorials of barbarians, they deduced the first origin of the Goths from the vast island, or peninsula, of Scandinavia. [5] [501] That extreme country of the North was not unknown to the conquerors of Italy: the ties of ancient consanguinity had been strengthened by recent offices of friendship; and a Scandinavian king had cheerfully abdicated his savage greatness, that he might pass the remainder of his days in the peaceful and polished court of Ravenna. [6] Many vestiges, which cannot be ascribed to the arts of popular vanity, attest the ancient residence of the Goths in the countries beyond the Rhine. From the time of the geographer Ptolemy, the southern part of Sweden seems to have continued in the possession of the less enterprising remnant of the nation, and a large territory is even at present divided into east and west Gothland. During the middle ages, (from the ninth to the twelfth century,) whilst Christianity was advancing with a slow progress into the North, the Goths and the Swedes composed two distinct and sometimes hostile members of the same monarchy. [7] The latter of these two names has prevailed without extinguishing the former. The Swedes, who might well be satisfied with their own fame in arms, have, in every age, claimed the kindred glory of the Goths. In a moment of discontent against the court of Rome, Charles the Twelfth insinuated, that his victorious troops were not degenerated from their brave ancestors, who had already subdued the mistress of the world. [8]

[Footnote 4: See the prefaces of Cassiodorus and Jornandes; it is surprising that the latter should be omitted in the excellent edition, published by Grotius, of the Gothic writers.]

[Footnote 5: On the authority of Ablavius, Jornandes quotes some old Gothic chronicles in verse. De Reb. Geticis, c. 4.]

[Footnote 501: The Goths have inhabited Scandinavia, but it was not their original habitation. This great nation was anciently of the Suevian race; it occupied, in the time of Tacitus, and long before, Mecklenburgh, Pomerania Southern Prussia and the north-west of Poland. A little before the birth of J. C., and in the first years of that century, they belonged to the kingdom of Marbod, king of the Marcomanni: but Cotwalda, a young Gothic prince, delivered them from that tyranny, and established his own power over the kingdom of the Marcomanni, already much weakened by the victories of Tiberius. The power of the Goths at that time must have been great: it was probably from them that the Sinus Codanus (the Baltic) took this name, as it was afterwards called Mare Suevicum, and Mare Venedicum, during the superiority of the proper Suevi and the Venedi. The epoch in which the Goths passed into Scandinavia is unknown. See Adelung, Hist. of Anc. Germany, p. 200. Gatterer, Hist. Univ. 458.—G. ——M. St. Martin observes, that the Scandinavian descent of the Goths rests on the authority of Jornandes, who professed to derive it from the traditions of the Goths. He is supported by Procopius and Paulus Diaconus. Yet the Goths are unquestionably the same with the Getae of the earlier historians. St. Martin, note on Le Beau, Hist. du bas Empire, iii. 324. The identity of the Getae and Goths is by no means generally admitted. On the whole, they seem to be one vast branch of the Indo-Teutonic race, who spread irregularly towards the north of Europe, and at different periods, and in different regions, came in contact with the more civilized nations of the south. At this period, there seems to have been a reflux of these Gothic tribes from the North. Malte Brun considers that there are strong grounds for receiving the Islandic traditions commented by the Danish Varro, M. Suhm. From these, and the voyage of Pytheas, which Malte Brun considers genuine, the Goths were in possession of Scandinavia, Ey-Gothland, 250 years before J. C., and of a tract on the continent (Reid-Gothland) between the mouths of the Vistula and the Oder. In their southern migration, they followed the course of the Vistula; afterwards, of the Dnieper. Malte Brun, Geogr. i. p. 387, edit. 1832. Geijer, the historian of Sweden, ably maintains the Scandinavian origin of the Goths. The Gothic language, according to Bopp, is the link between the Sanscrit and the modern Teutonic dialects: "I think that I am reading Sanscrit when I am reading Olphilas." Bopp, Conjugations System der Sanscrit Sprache, preface, p. x—M.]

[Footnote 6: Jornandes, c. 3.]

[Footnote 7: See in the Prolegomena of Grotius some large extracts from Adam of Bremen, and Saxo-Grammaticus. The former wrote in the year 1077, the latter flourished about the year 1200.]

[Footnote 8: Voltaire, Histoire de Charles XII. l. iii. When the Austrians desired the aid of the court of Rome against Gustavus Adolphus, they always represented that conqueror as the lineal successor of Alaric. Harte's History of Gustavus, vol. ii. p. 123.]

Till the end of the eleventh century, a celebrated temple subsisted at Upsal, the most considerable town of the Swedes and Goths. It was enriched with the gold which the Scandinavians had acquired in their piratical adventures, and sanctified by the uncouth representations of the three principal deities, the god of war, the goddess of generation, and the god of thunder. In the general festival, that was solemnized every ninth year, nine animals of every species (without excepting the human) were sacrificed, and their bleeding bodies suspended in the sacred grove adjacent to the temple. [9] The only traces that now subsist of this barbaric superstition are contained in the Edda, [901] a system of mythology, compiled in Iceland about the thirteenth century, and studied by the learned of Denmark and Sweden, as the most valuable remains of their ancient traditions.

[Footnote 9: See Adam of Bremen in Grotii Prolegomenis, p. 105. The temple of Upsal was destroyed by Ingo, king of Sweden, who began his reign in the year 1075, and about fourscore years afterwards, a Christian cathedral was erected on its ruins. See Dalin's History of Sweden, in the Bibliotheque Raisonee.]

[Footnote 901: The Eddas have at length been made accessible to European scholars by the completion of the publication of the Saemundine Edda by the Arna Magnaean Commission, in 3 vols. 4to., with a copious lexicon of northern mythology.—M.]

Notwithstanding the mysterious obscurity of the Edda, we can easily distinguish two persons confounded under the name of Odin; the god of war, and the great legislator of Scandinavia. The latter, the Mahomet of the North, instituted a religion adapted to the climate and to the people. Numerous tribes on either side of the Baltic were subdued by the invincible valor of Odin, by his persuasive eloquence, and by the fame which he acquired of a most skilful magician. The faith that he had propagated, during a long and prosperous life, he confirmed by a voluntary death. Apprehensive of the ignominious approach of disease and infirmity, he resolved to expire as became a warrior. In a solemn assembly of the Swedes and Goths, he wounded himself in nine mortal places, hastening away (as he asserted with his dying voice) to prepare the feast of heroes in the palace of the God of war. [10]

[Footnote 10: Mallet, Introduction a l'Histoire du Dannemarc.]

The native and proper habitation of Odin is distinguished by the appellation of As-gard. The happy resemblance of that name with As-burg, or As-of, [11] words of a similar signification, has given rise to an historical system of so pleasing a contexture, that we could almost wish to persuade ourselves of its truth. It is supposed that Odin was the chief of a tribe of barbarians which dwelt on the banks of the Lake Maeotis, till the fall of Mithridates and the arms of Pompey menaced the North with servitude. That Odin, yielding with indignant fury to a power which he was unable to resist, conducted his tribe from the frontiers of the Asiatic Sarmatia into Sweden, with the great design of forming, in that inaccessible retreat of freedom, a religion and a people, which, in some remote age, might be subservient to his immortal revenge; when his invincible Goths, armed with martial fanaticism, should issue in numerous swarms from the neighborhood of the Polar circle, to chastise the oppressors of mankind. [12]

[Footnote 11: Mallet, c. iv. p. 55, has collected from Strabo, Pliny, Ptolemy, and Stephanus Byzantinus, the vestiges of such a city and people.]

[Footnote 12: This wonderful expedition of Odin, which, by deducting the enmity of the Goths and Romans from so memorable a cause, might supply the noble groundwork of an epic poem, cannot safely be received as authentic history. According to the obvious sense of the Edda, and the interpretation of the most skilful critics, As-gard, instead of denoting a real city of the Asiatic Sarmatia, is the fictitious appellation of the mystic abode of the gods, the Olympus of Scandinavia; from whence the prophet was supposed to descend, when he announced his new religion to the Gothic nations, who were already seated in the southern parts of Sweden. * Note: A curious letter may be consulted on this subject from the Swede, Ihre counsellor in the Chancery of Upsal, printed at Upsal by Edman, in 1772 and translated into German by M. Schlozer. Gottingen, printed for Dietericht, 1779.—G. ——Gibbon, at a later period of his work, recanted his opinion of the truth of this expedition of Odin. The Asiatic origin of the Goths is almost certain from the affinity of their language to the Sanscrit and Persian; but their northern writers, when all mythology was reduced to hero worship.—M.]

If so many successive generations of Goths were capable of preserving a faint tradition of their Scandinavian origin, we must not expect, from such unlettered barbarians, any distinct account of the time and circumstances of their emigration. To cross the Baltic was an easy and natural attempt. The inhabitants of Sweden were masters of a sufficient number of large vessels, with oars, [13] and the distance is little more than one hundred miles from Carlscroon to the nearest ports of Pomerania and Prussia. Here, at length, we land on firm and historic ground. At least as early as the Christian aera, [14] and as late as the age of the Antonines, [15] the Goths were established towards the mouth of the Vistula, and in that fertile province where the commercial cities of Thorn, Elbing, Koningsberg, and Dantzick, were long afterwards founded. [16] Westward of the Goths, the numerous tribes of the Vandals were spread along the banks of the Oder, and the sea-coast of Pomerania and Mecklenburgh. A striking resemblance of manners, complexion, religion, and language, seemed to indicate that the Vandals and the Goths were originally one great people. [17] The latter appear to have been subdivided into Ostrogoths, Visigoths, and Gepidae. [18] The distinction among the Vandals was more strongly marked by the independent names of Heruli, Burgundians, Lombards, and a variety of other petty states, many of which, in a future age, expanded themselves into powerful monarchies. [181]

[Footnote 13: Tacit. Germania, c. 44.]

[Footnote 14: Tacit. Annal. ii. 62. If we could yield a firm assent to the navigations of Pytheas of Marseilles, we must allow that the Goths had passed the Baltic at least three hundred years before Christ.]

[Footnote 15: Ptolemy, l. ii.]

[Footnote 16: By the German colonies who followed the arms of the Teutonic knights. The conquest and conversion of Prussia were completed by those adventurers in the thirteenth century.]

[Footnote 17: Pliny (Hist. Natur. iv. 14) and Procopius (in Bell. Vandal. l. i. c. l) agree in this opinion. They lived in distant ages, and possessed different means of investigating the truth.]

[Footnote 18: The Ostro and Visi, the eastern and western Goths, obtained those denominations from their original seats in Scandinavia. In all their future marches and settlements they preserved, with their names, the same relative situation. When they first departed from Sweden, the infant colony was contained in three vessels. The third, being a heavy sailer, lagged behind, and the crew, which afterwards swelled into a nation, received from that circumstance the appellation of Gepidae or Loiterers. Jornandes, c. 17. * Note: It was not in Scandinavia that the Goths were divided into Ostrogoths and Visigoths; that division took place after their irruption into Dacia in the third century: those who came from Mecklenburgh and Pomerania were called Visigoths; those who came from the south of Prussia, and the northwest of Poland, called themselves Ostrogoths. Adelung, Hist. All. p. 202 Gatterer, Hist. Univ. 431.—G.]

[Footnote 181: This opinion is by no means probable. The Vandals and the Goths equally belonged to the great division of the Suevi, but the two tribes were very different. Those who have treated on this part of history, appear to me to have neglected to remark that the ancients almost always gave the name of the dominant and conquering people to all the weaker and conquered races. So Pliny calls Vindeli, Vandals, all the people of the north-east of Europe, because at that epoch the Vandals were doubtless the conquering tribe. Caesar, on the contrary, ranges under the name of Suevi, many of the tribes whom Pliny reckons as Vandals, because the Suevi, properly so called, were then the most powerful tribe in Germany. When the Goths, become in their turn conquerors, had subjugated the nations whom they encountered on their way, these nations lost their name with their liberty, and became of Gothic origin. The Vandals themselves were then considered as Goths; the Heruli, the Gepidae, &c., suffered the same fate. A common origin was thus attributed to tribes who had only been united by the conquests of some dominant nation, and this confusion has given rise to a number of historical errors.—G. ——M. St. Martin has a learned note (to Le Beau, v. 261) on the origin of the Vandals. The difficulty appears to be in rejecting the close analogy of the name with the Vend or Wendish race, who were of Sclavonian, not of Suevian or German, origin. M. St. Martin supposes that the different races spread from the head of the Adriatic to the Baltic, and even the Veneti, on the shores of the Adriatic, the Vindelici, the tribes which gave their name to Vindobena, Vindoduna, Vindonissa, were branches of the same stock with the Sclavonian Venedi, who at one time gave their name to the Baltic; that they all spoke dialects of the Wendish language, which still prevails in Carinthia, Carniola, part of Bohemia, and Lusatia, and is hardly extinct in Mecklenburgh and Pomerania. The Vandal race, once so fearfully celebrated in the annals of mankind, has so utterly perished from the face of the earth, that we are not aware that any vestiges of their language can be traced, so as to throw light on the disputed question of their German, their Sclavonian, or independent origin. The weight of ancient authority seems against M. St. Martin's opinion. Compare, on the Vandals, Malte Brun. 394. Also Gibbon's note, c. xli. n. 38.—M.]

In the age of the Antonines, the Goths were still seated in Prussia. About the reign of Alexander Severus, the Roman province of Dacia had already experienced their proximity by frequent and destructive inroads. [19] In this interval, therefore, of about seventy years, we must place the second migration of about seventy years, we must place the second migration of the Goths from the Baltic to the Euxine; but the cause that produced it lies concealed among the various motives which actuate the conduct of unsettled barbarians. Either a pestilence or a famine, a victory or a defeat, an oracle of the gods or the eloquence of a daring leader, were sufficient to impel the Gothic arms on the milder climates of the south. Besides the influence of a martial religion, the numbers and spirit of the Goths were equal to the most dangerous adventures. The use of round bucklers and short swords rendered them formidable in a close engagement; the manly obedience which they yielded to hereditary kings, gave uncommon union and stability to their councils; [20] and the renowned Amala, the hero of that age, and the tenth ancestor of Theodoric, king of Italy, enforced, by the ascendant of personal merit, the prerogative of his birth, which he derived from the Anses, or demi gods of the Gothic nation. [21]

[Footnote 19: See a fragment of Peter Patricius in the Excerpta Legationum and with regard to its probable date, see Tillemont, Hist, des Empereurs, tom. iii. p. 346.]

[Footnote 20: Omnium harum gentium insigne, rotunda scuta, breves gladii, et erga rages obsequium. Tacit. Germania, c. 43. The Goths probably acquired their iron by the commerce of amber.]

[Footnote 21: Jornandes, c. 13, 14.]

The fame of a great enterprise excited the bravest warriors from all the Vandalic states of Germany, many of whom are seen a few years afterwards combating under the common standard of the Goths. [22] The first motions of the emigrants carried them to the banks of the Prypec, a river universally conceived by the ancients to be the southern branch of the Borysthenes. [23] The windings of that great stream through the plains of Poland and Russia gave a direction to their line of march, and a constant supply of fresh water and pasturage to their numerous herds of cattle. They followed the unknown course of the river, confident in their valor, and careless of whatever power might oppose their progress. The Bastarnae and the Venedi were the first who presented themselves; and the flower of their youth, either from choice or compulsion, increased the Gothic army. The Bastarnae dwelt on the northern side of the Carpathian Mountains: the immense tract of land that separated the Bastarnae from the savages of Finland was possessed, or rather wasted, by the Venedi; [24] we have some reason to believe that the first of these nations, which distinguished itself in the Macedonian war, [25] and was afterwards divided into the formidable tribes of the Peucini, the Borani, the Carpi, &c., derived its origin from the Germans. [251] With better authority, a Sarmatian extraction may be assigned to the Venedi, who rendered themselves so famous in the middle ages. [26] But the confusion of blood and manners on that doubtful frontier often perplexed the most accurate observers. [27] As the Goths advanced near the Euxine Sea, they encountered a purer race of Sarmatians, the Jazyges, the Alani, [271] and the Roxolani; and they were probably the first Germans who saw the mouths of the Borysthenes, and of the Tanais. If we inquire into the characteristic marks of the people of Germany and of Sarmatia, we shall discover that those two great portions of human kind were principally distinguished by fixed huts or movable tents, by a close dress or flowing garments, by the marriage of one or of several wives, by a military force, consisting, for the most part, either of infantry or cavalry; and above all, by the use of the Teutonic, or of the Sclavonian language; the last of which has been diffused by conquest, from the confines of Italy to the neighborhood of Japan.

[Footnote 22: The Heruli, and the Uregundi or Burgundi, are particularly mentioned. See Mascou's History of the Germans, l. v. A passage in the Augustan History, p. 28, seems to allude to this great emigration. The Marcomannic war was partly occasioned by the pressure of barbarous tribes, who fled before the arms of more northern barbarians.]

[Footnote 23: D'Anville, Geographie Ancienne, and the third part of his incomparable map of Europe.]

[Footnote 24: Tacit. Germania, c. 46.]

[Footnote 25: Cluver. Germ. Antiqua, l. iii. c. 43.]

[Footnote 251: The Bastarnae cannot be considered original inhabitants of Germany Strabo and Tacitus appear to doubt it; Pliny alone calls them Germans: Ptolemy and Dion treat them as Scythians, a vague appellation at this period of history; Livy, Plutarch, and Diodorus Siculus, call them Gauls, and this is the most probable opinion. They descended from the Gauls who entered Germany under Signoesus. They are always found associated with other Gaulish tribes, such as the Boll, the Taurisci, &c., and not to the German tribes. The names of their chiefs or princes, Chlonix, Chlondicus. Deldon, are not German names. Those who were settled in the island of Peuce in the Danube, took the name of Peucini. The Carpi appear in 237 as a Suevian tribe who had made an irruption into Maesia. Afterwards they reappear under the Ostrogoths, with whom they were probably blended. Adelung, p. 236, 278.—G.]

[Footnote 26: The Venedi, the Slavi, and the Antes, were the three great tribes of the same people. Jornandes, 24. * Note Dagger: They formed the great Sclavonian nation.—G.]

[Footnote 27: Tacitus most assuredly deserves that title, and even his cautious suspense is a proof of his diligent inquiries.]

[Footnote 271: Jac. Reineggs supposed that he had found, in the mountains of Caucasus, some descendants of the Alani. The Tartars call them Edeki-Alan: they speak a peculiar dialect of the ancient language of the Tartars of Caucasus. See J. Reineggs' Descr. of Caucasus, p. 11, 13.—G. According to Klaproth, they are the Ossetes of the present day in Mount Caucasus and were the same with the Albanians of antiquity. Klaproth, Hist. de l'Asie, p. 180.—M.]



Chapter X: Emperors Decius, Gallus, Aemilianus, Valerian And Gallienus.—Part II.

The Goths were now in possession of the Ukraine, a country of considerable extent and uncommon fertility, intersected with navigable rivers, which, from either side, discharge themselves into the Borysthenes; and interspersed with large and leafy forests of oaks. The plenty of game and fish, the innumerable bee-hives deposited in the hollow of old trees, and in the cavities of rocks, and forming, even in that rude age, a valuable branch of commerce, the size of the cattle, the temperature of the air, the aptness of the soil for every species of gain, and the luxuriancy of the vegetation, all displayed the liberality of Nature, and tempted the industry of man. [28] But the Goths withstood all these temptations, and still adhered to a life of idleness, of poverty, and of rapine.

[Footnote 28: Genealogical History of the Tartars, p. 593. Mr. Bell (vol. ii. p 379) traversed the Ukraine, in his journey from Petersburgh to Constantinople. The modern face of the country is a just representation of the ancient, since, in the hands of the Cossacks, it still remains in a state of nature.]

The Scythian hordes, which, towards the east, bordered on the new settlements of the Goths, presented nothing to their arms, except the doubtful chance of an unprofitable victory. But the prospect of the Roman territories was far more alluring; and the fields of Dacia were covered with rich harvests, sown by the hands of an industrious, and exposed to be gathered by those of a warlike, people. It is probable that the conquests of Trajan, maintained by his successors, less for any real advantage than for ideal dignity, had contributed to weaken the empire on that side. The new and unsettled province of Dacia was neither strong enough to resist, nor rich enough to satiate, the rapaciousness of the barbarians. As long as the remote banks of the Niester were considered as the boundary of the Roman power, the fortifications of the Lower Danube were more carelessly guarded, and the inhabitants of Maesia lived in supine security, fondly conceiving themselves at an inaccessible distance from any barbarian invaders. The irruptions of the Goths, under the reign of Philip, fatally convinced them of their mistake. The king, or leader, of that fierce nation, traversed with contempt the province of Dacia, and passed both the Niester and the Danube without encountering any opposition capable of retarding his progress. The relaxed discipline of the Roman troops betrayed the most important posts, where they were stationed, and the fear of deserved punishment induced great numbers of them to enlist under the Gothic standard. The various multitude of barbarians appeared, at length, under the walls of Marcianopolis, a city built by Trajan in honor of his sister, and at that time the capital of the second Maesia. [29] The inhabitants consented to ransom their lives and property by the payment of a large sum of money, and the invaders retreated back into their deserts, animated, rather than satisfied, with the first success of their arms against an opulent but feeble country. Intelligence was soon transmitted to the emperor Decius, that Cniva, king of the Goths, had passed the Danube a second time, with more considerable forces; that his numerous detachments scattered devastation over the province of Maesia, whilst the main body of the army, consisting of seventy thousand Germans and Sarmatians, a force equal to the most daring achievements, required the presence of the Roman monarch, and the exertion of his military power.

[Footnote 29: In the sixteenth chapter of Jornandes, instead of secundo Maesiam we may venture to substitute secundam, the second Maesia, of which Marcianopolis was certainly the capital. (See Hierocles de Provinciis, and Wesseling ad locum, p. 636. Itinerar.) It is surprising how this palpable error of the scribe should escape the judicious correction of Grotius. Note: Luden has observed that Jornandes mentions two passages over the Danube; this relates to the second irruption into Maesia. Geschichte des T V. ii. p. 448.—M.]

Decius found the Goths engaged before Nicopolis, one of the many monuments of Trajan's victories. [30] On his approach they raised the siege, but with a design only of marching away to a conquest of greater importance, the siege of Philippopolis, a city of Thrace, founded by the father of Alexander, near the foot of Mount Haemus. [31] Decius followed them through a difficult country, and by forced marches; but when he imagined himself at a considerable distance from the rear of the Goths, Cniva turned with rapid fury on his pursuers. The camp of the Romans was surprised and pillaged, and, for the first time, their emperor fled in disorder before a troop of half-armed barbarians. After a long resistance, Philoppopolis, destitute of succor, was taken by storm. A hundred thousand persons are reported to have been massacred in the sack of that great city. [32] Many prisoners of consequence became a valuable accession to the spoil; and Priscus, a brother of the late emperor Philip, blushed not to assume the purple, under the protection of the barbarous enemies of Rome. [33] The time, however, consumed in that tedious siege, enabled Decius to revive the courage, restore the discipline, and recruit the numbers of his troops. He intercepted several parties of Carpi, and other Germans, who were hastening to share the victory of their countrymen, [34] intrusted the passes of the mountains to officers of approved valor and fidelity, [35] repaired and strengthened the fortifications of the Danube, and exerted his utmost vigilance to oppose either the progress or the retreat of the Goths. Encouraged by the return of fortune, he anxiously waited for an opportunity to retrieve, by a great and decisive blow, his own glory, and that of the Roman arms. [36]

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18     Next Part
Home - Random Browse