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

[Footnote 80: See Zosimus, l. v. p. 331, and the Chronicles of Prosper and Marcellinus.]

[Footnote 81: Olympiodorus (apud Photium, p. 180) uses an expression which would denote a strict and friendly alliance, and render Stilicho still more criminal. The paulisper detentus, deinde interfectus, of Orosius, is sufficiently odious. * Note: Gibbon, by translating this passage of Olympiodorus, as if it had been good Greek, has probably fallen into an error. The natural order of the words is as Gibbon translates it; but it is almost clear, refers to the Gothic chiefs, "whom Stilicho, after he had defeated Radagaisus, attached to his army." So in the version corrected by Classen for Niebuhr's edition of the Byzantines, p. 450.—M.]

[Footnote 82: Orosius, piously inhuman, sacrifices the king and people, Agag and the Amalekites, without a symptom of compassion. The bloody actor is less detestable than the cool, unfeeling historian.——Note: Considering the vow, which he was universally believed to have made, to destroy Rome, and to sacrifice the senators on the altars, and that he is said to have immolated his prisoners to his gods, the execution of Radagaisus, if, as it appears, he was taken in arms, cannot deserve Gibbon's severe condemnation. Mr. Herbert (notes to his poem of Attila, p. 317) justly observes, that "Stilicho had probably authority for hanging him on the first tree." Marcellinus, adds Mr. Herbert, attributes the execution to the Gothic chiefs Sarus.—M.]

[Footnote 83: And Claudian's muse, was she asleep? had she been ill paid! Methinks the seventh consulship of Honorius (A.D. 407) would have furnished the subject of a noble poem. Before it was discovered that the state could no longer be saved, Stilicho (after Romulus, Camillus and Marius) might have been worthily surnamed the fourth founder of Rome.]

The fame of the victory, and more especially of the miracle, has encouraged a vain persuasion, that the whole army, or rather nation, of Germans, who migrated from the shores of the Baltic, miserably perished under the walls of Florence. Such indeed was the fate of Radagaisus himself, of his brave and faithful companions, and of more than one third of the various multitude of Sueves and Vandals, of Alani and Burgundians, who adhered to the standard of their general. [84] The union of such an army might excite our surprise, but the causes of separation are obvious and forcible; the pride of birth, the insolence of valor, the jealousy of command, the impatience of subordination, and the obstinate conflict of opinions, of interests, and of passions, among so many kings and warriors, who were untaught to yield, or to obey. After the defeat of Radagaisus, two parts of the German host, which must have exceeded the number of one hundred thousand men, still remained in arms, between the Apennine and the Alps, or between the Alps and the Danube. It is uncertain whether they attempted to revenge the death of their general; but their irregular fury was soon diverted by the prudence and firmness of Stilicho, who opposed their march, and facilitated their retreat; who considered the safety of Rome and Italy as the great object of his care, and who sacrificed, with too much indifference, the wealth and tranquillity of the distant provinces. [85] The Barbarians acquired, from the junction of some Pannonian deserters, the knowledge of the country, and of the roads; and the invasion of Gaul, which Alaric had designed, was executed by the remains of the great army of Radagaisus. [86]

[Footnote 84: A luminous passage of Prosper's Chronicle, "In tres partes, pes diversos principes, diversus exercitus," reduces the miracle of Florence and connects the history of Italy, Gaul, and Germany.]

[Footnote 85: Orosius and Jerom positively charge him with instigating the in vasion. "Excitatae a Stilichone gentes," &c. They must mean a directly. He saved Italy at the expense of Gaul]

[Footnote 86: The Count de Buat is satisfied, that the Germans who invaded Gaul were the two thirds that yet remained of the army of Radagaisus. See the Histoire Ancienne des Peuples de l'Europe, (tom. vii. p. 87, 121. Paris, 1772;) an elaborate work, which I had not the advantage of perusing till the year 1777. As early as 1771, I find the same idea expressed in a rough draught of the present History. I have since observed a similar intimation in Mascou, (viii. 15.) Such agreement, without mutual communication, may add some weight to our common sentiment.]

Yet if they expected to derive any assistance from the tribes of Germany, who inhabited the banks of the Rhine, their hopes were disappointed. The Alemanni preserved a state of inactive neutrality; and the Franks distinguished their zeal and courage in the defence of the of the empire. In the rapid progress down the Rhine, which was the first act of the administration of Stilicho, he had applied himself, with peculiar attention, to secure the alliance of the warlike Franks, and to remove the irreconcilable enemies of peace and of the republic. Marcomir, one of their kings, was publicly convicted, before the tribunal of the Roman magistrate, of violating the faith of treaties. He was sentenced to a mild, but distant exile, in the province of Tuscany; and this degradation of the regal dignity was so far from exciting the resentment of his subjects, that they punished with death the turbulent Sunno, who attempted to revenge his brother; and maintained a dutiful allegiance to the princes, who were established on the throne by the choice of Stilicho. [87] When the limits of Gaul and Germany were shaken by the northern emigration, the Franks bravely encountered the single force of the Vandals; who, regardless of the lessons of adversity, had again separated their troops from the standard of their Barbarian allies. They paid the penalty of their rashness; and twenty thousand Vandals, with their king Godigisclus, were slain in the field of battle. The whole people must have been extirpated, if the squadrons of the Alani, advancing to their relief, had not trampled down the infantry of the Franks; who, after an honorable resistance, were compelled to relinquish the unequal contest. The victorious confederates pursued their march, and on the last day of the year, in a season when the waters of the Rhine were most probably frozen, they entered, without opposition, the defenceless provinces of Gaul. This memorable passage of the Suevi, the Vandals, the Alani, and the Burgundians, who never afterwards retreated, may be considered as the fall of the Roman empire in the countries beyond the Alps; and the barriers, which had so long separated the savage and the civilized nations of the earth, were from that fatal moment levelled with the ground. [88]

[Footnote 87:

Provincia missos Expellet citius fasces, quam Francia reges Quos dederis.

Claudian (i. Cons. Stil. l. i. 235, &c.) is clear and satisfactory. These kings of France are unknown to Gregory of Tours; but the author of the Gesta Francorum mentions both Sunno and Marcomir, and names the latter as the father of Pharamond, (in tom. ii. p. 543.) He seems to write from good materials, which he did not understand.]

[Footnote 88: See Zosimus, (l. vi. p. 373,) Orosius, (l. vii. c. 40, p. 576,) and the Chronicles. Gregory of Tours (l. ii. c. 9, p. 165, in the second volume of the Historians of France) has preserved a valuable fragment of Renatus Profuturus Frigeridus, whose three names denote a Christian, a Roman subject, and a Semi-Barbarian.]

While the peace of Germany was secured by the attachment of the Franks, and the neutrality of the Alemanni, the subjects of Rome, unconscious of their approaching calamities, enjoyed the state of quiet and prosperity, which had seldom blessed the frontiers of Gaul. Their flocks and herds were permitted to graze in the pastures of the Barbarians; their huntsmen penetrated, without fear or danger, into the darkest recesses of the Hercynian wood. [89] The banks of the Rhine were crowned, like those of the Tyber, with elegant houses, and well-cultivated farms; and if a poet descended the river, he might express his doubt, on which side was situated the territory of the Romans. [90] This scene of peace and plenty was suddenly changed into a desert; and the prospect of the smoking ruins could alone distinguish the solitude of nature from the desolation of man. The flourishing city of Mentz was surprised and destroyed; and many thousand Christians were inhumanly massacred in the church. Worms perished after a long and obstinate siege; Strasburgh, Spires, Rheims, Tournay, Arras, Amiens, experienced the cruel oppression of the German yoke; and the consuming flames of war spread from the banks of the Rhine over the greatest part of the seventeen provinces of Gaul. That rich and extensive country, as far as the ocean, the Alps, and the Pyrenees, was delivered to the Barbarians, who drove before them, in a promiscuous crowd, the bishop, the senator, and the virgin, laden with the spoils of their houses and altars. [91] The ecclesiastics, to whom we are indebted for this vague description of the public calamities, embraced the opportunity of exhorting the Christians to repent of the sins which had provoked the Divine Justice, and to renounce the perishable goods of a wretched and deceitful world. But as the Pelagian controversy, [92] which attempts to sound the abyss of grace and predestination, soon became the serious employment of the Latin clergy, the Providence which had decreed, or foreseen, or permitted, such a train of moral and natural evils, was rashly weighed in the imperfect and fallacious balance of reason. The crimes, and the misfortunes, of the suffering people, were presumptuously compared with those of their ancestors; and they arraigned the Divine Justice, which did not exempt from the common destruction the feeble, the guiltless, the infant portion of the human species. These idle disputants overlooked the invariable laws of nature, which have connected peace with innocence, plenty with industry, and safety with valor. The timid and selfish policy of the court of Ravenna might recall the Palatine legions for the protection of Italy; the remains of the stationary troops might be unequal to the arduous task; and the Barbarian auxiliaries might prefer the unbounded license of spoil to the benefits of a moderate and regular stipend. But the provinces of Gaul were filled with a numerous race of hardy and robust youth, who, in the defence of their houses, their families, and their altars, if they had dared to die, would have deserved to vanquish. The knowledge of their native country would have enabled them to oppose continual and insuperable obstacles to the progress of an invader; and the deficiency of the Barbarians, in arms, as well as in discipline, removed the only pretence which excuses the submission of a populous country to the inferior numbers of a veteran army. When France was invaded by Charles V., he inquired of a prisoner, how many days Paris might be distant from the frontier; "Perhaps twelve, but they will be days of battle:" [93] such was the gallant answer which checked the arrogance of that ambitious prince. The subjects of Honorius, and those of Francis I., were animated by a very different spirit; and in less than two years, the divided troops of the savages of the Baltic, whose numbers, were they fairly stated, would appear contemptible, advanced, without a combat, to the foot of the Pyrenean Mountains.

[Footnote 89: Claudian (i. Cons. Stil. l. i. 221, &c., l. ii. 186) describes the peace and prosperity of the Gallic frontier. The Abbe Dubos (Hist. Critique, &c., tom. i. p. 174) would read Alba (a nameless rivulet of the Ardennes) instead of Albis; and expatiates on the danger of the Gallic cattle grazing beyond the Elbe. Foolish enough! In poetical geography, the Elbe, and the Hercynian, signify any river, or any wood, in Germany. Claudian is not prepared for the strict examination of our antiquaries.]

[Footnote 90:—Germinasque viator Cum videat ripas, quae sit Romana requirat.]

[Footnote 91: Jerom, tom. i. p. 93. See in the 1st vol. of the Historians of France, p. 777, 782, the proper extracts from the Carmen de Providentil Divina, and Salvian. The anonymous poet was himself a captive, with his bishop and fellow-citizens.]

[Footnote 92: The Pelagian doctrine, which was first agitated A.D. 405, was condemned, in the space of ten years, at Rome and Carthage. St Augustin fought and conquered; but the Greek church was favorable to his adversaries; and (what is singular enough) the people did not take any part in a dispute which they could not understand.]

[Footnote 93: See the Memoires de Guillaume du Bellay, l. vi. In French, the original reproof is less obvious, and more pointed, from the double sense of the word journee, which alike signifies, a day's travel, or a battle.]

In the early part of the reign of Honorius, the vigilance of Stilicho had successfully guarded the remote island of Britain from her incessant enemies of the ocean, the mountains, and the Irish coast. [94] But those restless Barbarians could not neglect the fair opportunity of the Gothic war, when the walls and stations of the province were stripped of the Roman troops. If any of the legionaries were permitted to return from the Italian expedition, their faithful report of the court and character of Honorius must have tended to dissolve the bonds of allegiance, and to exasperate the seditious temper of the British army. The spirit of revolt, which had formerly disturbed the age of Gallienus, was revived by the capricious violence of the soldiers; and the unfortunate, perhaps the ambitious, candidates, who were the objects of their choice, were the instruments, and at length the victims, of their passion. [95] Marcus was the first whom they placed on the throne, as the lawful emperor of Britain and of the West. They violated, by the hasty murder of Marcus, the oath of fidelity which they had imposed on themselves; and their disapprobation of his manners may seem to inscribe an honorable epitaph on his tomb. Gratian was the next whom they adorned with the diadem and the purple; and, at the end of four months, Gratian experienced the fate of his predecessor. The memory of the great Constantine, whom the British legions had given to the church and to the empire, suggested the singular motive of their third choice. They discovered in the ranks a private soldier of the name of Constantine, and their impetuous levity had already seated him on the throne, before they perceived his incapacity to sustain the weight of that glorious appellation. [96] Yet the authority of Constantine was less precarious, and his government was more successful, than the transient reigns of Marcus and of Gratian. The danger of leaving his inactive troops in those camps, which had been twice polluted with blood and sedition, urged him to attempt the reduction of the Western provinces. He landed at Boulogne with an inconsiderable force; and after he had reposed himself some days, he summoned the cities of Gaul, which had escaped the yoke of the Barbarians, to acknowledge their lawful sovereign. They obeyed the summons without reluctance. The neglect of the court of Ravenna had absolved a deserted people from the duty of allegiance; their actual distress encouraged them to accept any circumstances of change, without apprehension, and, perhaps, with some degree of hope; and they might flatter themselves, that the troops, the authority, and even the name of a Roman emperor, who fixed his residence in Gaul, would protect the unhappy country from the rage of the Barbarians. The first successes of Constantine against the detached parties of the Germans, were magnified by the voice of adulation into splendid and decisive victories; which the reunion and insolence of the enemy soon reduced to their just value. His negotiations procured a short and precarious truce; and if some tribes of the Barbarians were engaged, by the liberality of his gifts and promises, to undertake the defence of the Rhine, these expensive and uncertain treaties, instead of restoring the pristine vigor of the Gallic frontier, served only to disgrace the majesty of the prince, and to exhaust what yet remained of the treasures of the republic. Elated, however, with this imaginary triumph, the vain deliverer of Gaul advanced into the provinces of the South, to encounter a more pressing and personal danger. Sarus the Goth was ordered to lay the head of the rebel at the feet of the emperor Honorius; and the forces of Britain and Italy were unworthily consumed in this domestic quarrel. After the loss of his two bravest generals, Justinian and Nevigastes, the former of whom was slain in the field of battle, the latter in a peaceful but treacherous interview, Constantine fortified himself within the walls of Vienna. The place was ineffectually attacked seven days; and the Imperial army supported, in a precipitate retreat, the ignominy of purchasing a secure passage from the freebooters and outlaws of the Alps. [97] Those mountains now separated the dominions of two rival monarchs; and the fortifications of the double frontier were guarded by the troops of the empire, whose arms would have been more usefully employed to maintain the Roman limits against the Barbarians of Germany and Scythia.

[Footnote 94: Claudian, (i. Cons. Stil. l. ii. 250.) It is supposed that the Scots of Ireland invaded, by sea, the whole western coast of Britain: and some slight credit may be given even to Nennius and the Irish traditions, (Carte's Hist. of England, vol. i. p. 169.) Whitaker's Genuine History of the Britons, p. 199. The sixty-six lives of St. Patrick, which were extant in the ninth century, must have contained as many thousand lies; yet we may believe, that, in one of these Irish inroads the future apostle was led away captive, (Usher, Antiquit. Eccles Britann. p. 431, and Tillemont, Mem. Eccles. tom. xvi. p. 45 782, &c.)]

[Footnote 95: The British usurpers are taken from Zosimus, (l. vi. p. 371-375,) Orosius, (l. vii. c. 40, p. 576, 577,) Olympiodorus, (apud Photium, p. 180, 181,) the ecclesiastical historians, and the Chronicles. The Latins are ignorant of Marcus.]

[Footnote 96: Cum in Constantino inconstantiam... execrarentur, (Sidonius Apollinaris, l. v. epist. 9, p. 139, edit. secund. Sirmond.) Yet Sidonius might be tempted, by so fair a pun, to stigmatize a prince who had disgraced his grandfather.]

[Footnote 97: Bagaudoe is the name which Zosimus applies to them; perhaps they deserved a less odious character, (see Dubos, Hist. Critique, tom. i. p. 203, and this History, vol. i. p. 407.) We shall hear of them again.]

Chapter XXX: Revolt Of The Goths.—Part V.

On the side of the Pyrenees, the ambition of Constantine might be justified by the proximity of danger; but his throne was soon established by the conquest, or rather submission, of Spain; which yielded to the influence of regular and habitual subordination, and received the laws and magistrates of the Gallic praefecture. The only opposition which was made to the authority of Constantine proceeded not so much from the powers of government, or the spirit of the people, as from the private zeal and interest of the family of Theodosius. Four brothers [98] had obtained, by the favor of their kinsman, the deceased emperor, an honorable rank and ample possessions in their native country; and the grateful youths resolved to risk those advantages in the service of his son. After an unsuccessful effort to maintain their ground at the head of the stationary troops of Lusitania, they retired to their estates; where they armed and levied, at their own expense, a considerable body of slaves and dependants, and boldly marched to occupy the strong posts of the Pyrenean Mountains. This domestic insurrection alarmed and perplexed the sovereign of Gaul and Britain; and he was compelled to negotiate with some troops of Barbarian auxiliaries, for the service of the Spanish war. They were distinguished by the title of Honorians; [99] a name which might have reminded them of their fidelity to their lawful sovereign; and if it should candidly be allowed that the Scots were influenced by any partial affection for a British prince, the Moors and the Marcomanni could be tempted only by the profuse liberality of the usurper, who distributed among the Barbarians the military, and even the civil, honors of Spain. The nine bands of Honorians, which may be easily traced on the establishment of the Western empire, could not exceed the number of five thousand men: yet this inconsiderable force was sufficient to terminate a war, which had threatened the power and safety of Constantine. The rustic army of the Theodosian family was surrounded and destroyed in the Pyrenees: two of the brothers had the good fortune to escape by sea to Italy, or the East; the other two, after an interval of suspense, were executed at Arles; and if Honorius could remain insensible of the public disgrace, he might perhaps be affected by the personal misfortunes of his generous kinsmen. Such were the feeble arms which decided the possession of the Western provinces of Europe, from the wall of Antoninus to the columns of Hercules. The events of peace and war have undoubtedly been diminished by the narrow and imperfect view of the historians of the times, who were equally ignorant of the causes, and of the effects, of the most important revolutions. But the total decay of the national strength had annihilated even the last resource of a despotic government; and the revenue of exhausted provinces could no longer purchase the military service of a discontented and pusillanimous people.

[Footnote 98: Verinianus, Didymus, Theodosius, and Lagodius, who in modern courts would be styled princes of the blood, were not distinguished by any rank or privileges above the rest of their fellow-subjects.]

[Footnote 99: These Honoriani, or Honoriaci, consisted of two bands of Scots, or Attacotti, two of Moors, two of Marcomanni, the Victores, the Asca in, and the Gallicani, (Notitia Imperii, sect. xxxiii. edit. Lab.) They were part of the sixty-five Auxilia Palatina, and are properly styled by Zosimus, (l. vi. 374.)]

The poet, whose flattery has ascribed to the Roman eagle the victories of Pollentia and Verona, pursues the hasty retreat of Alaric, from the confines of Italy, with a horrid train of imaginary spectres, such as might hover over an army of Barbarians, which was almost exterminated by war, famine, and disease. [100] In the course of this unfortunate expedition, the king of the Goths must indeed have sustained a considerable loss; and his harassed forces required an interval of repose, to recruit their numbers and revive their confidence. Adversity had exercised and displayed the genius of Alaric; and the fame of his valor invited to the Gothic standard the bravest of the Barbarian warriors; who, from the Euxine to the Rhine, were agitated by the desire of rapine and conquest. He had deserved the esteem, and he soon accepted the friendship, of Stilicho himself. Renouncing the service of the emperor of the East, Alaric concluded, with the court of Ravenna, a treaty of peace and alliance, by which he was declared master-general of the Roman armies throughout the praefecture of Illyricum; as it was claimed, according to the true and ancient limits, by the minister of Honorius. [101] The execution of the ambitious design, which was either stipulated, or implied, in the articles of the treaty, appears to have been suspended by the formidable irruption of Radagaisus; and the neutrality of the Gothic king may perhaps be compared to the indifference of Caesar, who, in the conspiracy of Catiline, refused either to assist, or to oppose, the enemy of the republic. After the defeat of the Vandals, Stilicho resumed his pretensions to the provinces of the East; appointed civil magistrates for the administration of justice, and of the finances; and declared his impatience to lead to the gates of Constantinople the united armies of the Romans and of the Goths. The prudence, however, of Stilicho, his aversion to civil war, and his perfect knowledge of the weakness of the state, may countenance the suspicion, that domestic peace, rather than foreign conquest, was the object of his policy; and that his principal care was to employ the forces of Alaric at a distance from Italy. This design could not long escape the penetration of the Gothic king, who continued to hold a doubtful, and perhaps a treacherous, correspondence with the rival courts; who protracted, like a dissatisfied mercenary, his languid operations in Thessaly and Epirus, and who soon returned to claim the extravagant reward of his ineffectual services. From his camp near Aemona, [102] on the confines of Italy, he transmitted to the emperor of the West a long account of promises, of expenses, and of demands; called for immediate satisfaction, and clearly intimated the consequences of a refusal. Yet if his conduct was hostile, his language was decent and dutiful. He humbly professed himself the friend of Stilicho, and the soldier of Honorius; offered his person and his troops to march, without delay, against the usurper of Gaul; and solicited, as a permanent retreat for the Gothic nation, the possession of some vacant province of the Western empire.

[Footnote 100:

Comitatur euntem Pallor, et atra fames; et saucia lividus ora Luctus; et inferno stridentes agmine morbi. —-Claudian in vi. Cons. Hon. 821, &c.]

[Footnote 101: These dark transactions are investigated by the Count de Bual (Hist. des Peuples de l'Europe, tom. vii. c. iii.—viii. p. 69-206,) whose laborious accuracy may sometimes fatigue a superficial reader.]

[Footnote 102: See Zosimus, l. v. p. 334, 335. He interrupts his scanty narrative to relate the fable of Aemona, and of the ship Argo; which was drawn overland from that place to the Adriatic. Sozomen (l. viii. c. 25, l. ix. c. 4) and Socrates (l. vii. c. 10) cast a pale and doubtful light; and Orosius (l. vii. c. 38, p. 571) is abominably partial.]

The political and secret transactions of two statesmen, who labored to deceive each other and the world, must forever have been concealed in the impenetrable darkness of the cabinet, if the debates of a popular assembly had not thrown some rays of light on the correspondence of Alaric and Stilicho. The necessity of finding some artificial support for a government, which, from a principle, not of moderation, but of weakness, was reduced to negotiate with its own subjects, had insensibly revived the authority of the Roman senate; and the minister of Honorius respectfully consulted the legislative council of the republic. Stilicho assembled the senate in the palace of the Caesars; represented, in a studied oration, the actual state of affairs; proposed the demands of the Gothic king, and submitted to their consideration the choice of peace or war. The senators, as if they had been suddenly awakened from a dream of four hundred years, appeared, on this important occasion, to be inspired by the courage, rather than by the wisdom, of their predecessors. They loudly declared, in regular speeches, or in tumultuary acclamations, that it was unworthy of the majesty of Rome to purchase a precarious and disgraceful truce from a Barbarian king; and that, in the judgment of a magnanimous people, the chance of ruin was always preferable to the certainty of dishonor. The minister, whose pacific intentions were seconded only by the voice of a few servile and venal followers, attempted to allay the general ferment, by an apology for his own conduct, and even for the demands of the Gothic prince. "The payment of a subsidy, which had excited the indignation of the Romans, ought not (such was the language of Stilicho) to be considered in the odious light, either of a tribute, or of a ransom, extorted by the menaces of a Barbarian enemy. Alaric had faithfully asserted the just pretensions of the republic to the provinces which were usurped by the Greeks of Constantinople: he modestly required the fair and stipulated recompense of his services; and if he had desisted from the prosecution of his enterprise, he had obeyed, in his retreat, the peremptory, though private, letters of the emperor himself. These contradictory orders (he would not dissemble the errors of his own family) had been procured by the intercession of Serena. The tender piety of his wife had been too deeply affected by the discord of the royal brothers, the sons of her adopted father; and the sentiments of nature had too easily prevailed over the stern dictates of the public welfare." These ostensible reasons, which faintly disguise the obscure intrigues of the palace of Ravenna, were supported by the authority of Stilicho; and obtained, after a warm debate, the reluctant approbation of the senate. The tumult of virtue and freedom subsided; and the sum of four thousand pounds of gold was granted, under the name of a subsidy, to secure the peace of Italy, and to conciliate the friendship of the king of the Goths. Lampadius alone, one of the most illustrious members of the assembly, still persisted in his dissent; exclaimed, with a loud voice, "This is not a treaty of peace, but of servitude;" [103] and escaped the danger of such bold opposition by immediately retiring to the sanctuary of a Christian church. [See Palace Of The Caesars]

[Footnote 103: Zosimus, l. v. p. 338, 339. He repeats the words of Lampadius, as they were spoke in Latin, "Non est ista pax, sed pactio servi tutis," and then translates them into Greek for the benefit of his readers. * Note: From Cicero's XIIth Philippic, 14.—M.]

But the reign of Stilicho drew towards its end; and the proud minister might perceive the symptoms of his approaching disgrace. The generous boldness of Lampadius had been applauded; and the senate, so patiently resigned to a long servitude, rejected with disdain the offer of invidious and imaginary freedom. The troops, who still assumed the name and prerogatives of the Roman legions, were exasperated by the partial affection of Stilicho for the Barbarians: and the people imputed to the mischievous policy of the minister the public misfortunes, which were the natural consequence of their own degeneracy. Yet Stilicho might have continued to brave the clamors of the people, and even of the soldiers, if he could have maintained his dominion over the feeble mind of his pupil. But the respectful attachment of Honorius was converted into fear, suspicion, and hatred. The crafty Olympius, [104] who concealed his vices under the mask of Christian piety, had secretly undermined the benefactor, by whose favor he was promoted to the honorable offices of the Imperial palace. Olympius revealed to the unsuspecting emperor, who had attained the twenty-fifth year of his age, that he was without weight, or authority, in his own government; and artfully alarmed his timid and indolent disposition by a lively picture of the designs of Stilicho, who already meditated the death of his sovereign, with the ambitious hope of placing the diadem on the head of his son Eucherius. The emperor was instigated, by his new favorite, to assume the tone of independent dignity; and the minister was astonished to find, that secret resolutions were formed in the court and council, which were repugnant to his interest, or to his intentions. Instead of residing in the palace of Rome, Honorius declared that it was his pleasure to return to the secure fortress of Ravenna. On the first intelligence of the death of his brother Arcadius, he prepared to visit Constantinople, and to regulate, with the authority of a guardian, the provinces of the infant Theodosius. [105] The representation of the difficulty and expense of such a distant expedition, checked this strange and sudden sally of active diligence; but the dangerous project of showing the emperor to the camp of Pavia, which was composed of the Roman troops, the enemies of Stilicho, and his Barbarian auxiliaries, remained fixed and unalterable. The minister was pressed, by the advice of his confidant, Justinian, a Roman advocate, of a lively and penetrating genius, to oppose a journey so prejudicial to his reputation and safety. His strenuous but ineffectual efforts confirmed the triumph of Olympius; and the prudent lawyer withdrew himself from the impending ruin of his patron.

[Footnote 104: He came from the coast of the Euxine, and exercised a splendid office. His actions justify his character, which Zosimus (l. v. p. 340) exposes with visible satisfaction. Augustin revered the piety of Olympius, whom he styles a true son of the church, (Baronius, Annal. Eccles, Eccles. A.D. 408, No. 19, &c. Tillemont, Mem. Eccles. tom. xiii. p. 467, 468.) But these praises, which the African saint so unworthily bestows, might proceed as well from ignorance as from adulation.]

[Footnote 105: Zosimus, l. v. p. 338, 339. Sozomen, l. ix. c. 4. Stilicho offered to undertake the journey to Constantinople, that he might divert Honorius from the vain attempt. The Eastern empire would not have obeyed, and could not have been conquered.]

In the passage of the emperor through Bologna, a mutiny of the guards was excited and appeased by the secret policy of Stilicho; who announced his instructions to decimate the guilty, and ascribed to his own intercession the merit of their pardon. After this tumult, Honorius embraced, for the last time, the minister whom he now considered as a tyrant, and proceeded on his way to the camp of Pavia; where he was received by the loyal acclamations of the troops who were assembled for the service of the Gallic war. On the morning of the fourth day, he pronounced, as he had been taught, a military oration in the presence of the soldiers, whom the charitable visits, and artful discourses, of Olympius had prepared to execute a dark and bloody conspiracy. At the first signal, they massacred the friends of Stilicho, the most illustrious officers of the empire; two Praetorian praefects, of Gaul and of Italy; two masters-general of the cavalry and infantry; the master of the offices; the quaestor, the treasurer, and the count of the domestics. Many lives were lost; many houses were plundered; the furious sedition continued to rage till the close of the evening; and the trembling emperor, who was seen in the streets of Pavia without his robes or diadem, yielded to the persuasions of his favorite; condemned the memory of the slain; and solemnly approved the innocence and fidelity of their assassins. The intelligence of the massacre of Pavia filled the mind of Stilicho with just and gloomy apprehensions; and he instantly summoned, in the camp of Bologna, a council of the confederate leaders, who were attached to his service, and would be involved in his ruin. The impetuous voice of the assembly called aloud for arms, and for revenge; to march, without a moment's delay, under the banners of a hero, whom they had so often followed to victory; to surprise, to oppress, to extirpate the guilty Olympius, and his degenerate Romans; and perhaps to fix the diadem on the head of their injured general. Instead of executing a resolution, which might have been justified by success, Stilicho hesitated till he was irrecoverably lost. He was still ignorant of the fate of the emperor; he distrusted the fidelity of his own party; and he viewed with horror the fatal consequences of arming a crowd of licentious Barbarians against the soldiers and people of Italy. The confederates, impatient of his timorous and doubtful delay, hastily retired, with fear and indignation. At the hour of midnight, Sarus, a Gothic warrior, renowned among the Barbarians themselves for his strength and valor, suddenly invaded the camp of his benefactor, plundered the baggage, cut in pieces the faithful Huns, who guarded his person, and penetrated to the tent, where the minister, pensive and sleepless, meditated on the dangers of his situation. Stilicho escaped with difficulty from the sword of the Goths and, after issuing a last and generous admonition to the cities of Italy, to shut their gates against the Barbarians, his confidence, or his despair, urged him to throw himself into Ravenna, which was already in the absolute possession of his enemies. Olympius, who had assumed the dominion of Honorius, was speedily informed, that his rival had embraced, as a suppliant the altar of the Christian church. The base and cruel disposition of the hypocrite was incapable of pity or remorse; but he piously affected to elude, rather than to violate, the privilege of the sanctuary. Count Heraclian, with a troop of soldiers, appeared, at the dawn of day, before the gates of the church of Ravenna. The bishop was satisfied by a solemn oath, that the Imperial mandate only directed them to secure the person of Stilicho: but as soon as the unfortunate minister had been tempted beyond the holy threshold, he produced the warrant for his instant execution. Stilicho supported, with calm resignation, the injurious names of traitor and parricide; repressed the unseasonable zeal of his followers, who were ready to attempt an ineffectual rescue; and, with a firmness not unworthy of the last of the Roman generals, submitted his neck to the sword of Heraclian. [106]

[Footnote 106: Zosimus (l. v. p. 336-345) has copiously, though not clearly, related the disgrace and death of Stilicho. Olympiodorus, (apud Phot. p. 177.) Orosius, (l. vii. c. 38, p. 571, 572,) Sozomen, (l. ix. c. 4,) and Philostorgius, (l. xi. c. 3, l. xii. c. 2,) afford supplemental hints.]

The servile crowd of the palace, who had so long adored the fortune of Stilicho, affected to insult his fall; and the most distant connection with the master-general of the West, which had so lately been a title to wealth and honors, was studiously denied, and rigorously punished. His family, united by a triple alliance with the family of Theodosius, might envy the condition of the meanest peasant. The flight of his son Eucherius was intercepted; and the death of that innocent youth soon followed the divorce of Thermantia, who filled the place of her sister Maria; and who, like Maria, had remained a virgin in the Imperial bed. [107] The friends of Stilicho, who had escaped the massacre of Pavia, were persecuted by the implacable revenge of Olympius; and the most exquisite cruelty was employed to extort the confession of a treasonable and sacrilegious conspiracy. They died in silence: their firmness justified the choice, [108] and perhaps absolved the innocence of their patron: and the despotic power, which could take his life without a trial, and stigmatize his memory without a proof, has no jurisdiction over the impartial suffrage of posterity. [109] The services of Stilicho are great and manifest; his crimes, as they are vaguely stated in the language of flattery and hatred, are obscure at least, and improbable. About four months after his death, an edict was published, in the name of Honorius, to restore the free communication of the two empires, which had been so long interrupted by the public enemy. [110] The minister, whose fame and fortune depended on the prosperity of the state, was accused of betraying Italy to the Barbarians; whom he repeatedly vanquished at Pollentia, at Verona, and before the walls of Florence. His pretended design of placing the diadem on the head of his son Eucherius, could not have been conducted without preparations or accomplices; and the ambitious father would not surely have left the future emperor, till the twentieth year of his age, in the humble station of tribune of the notaries. Even the religion of Stilicho was arraigned by the malice of his rival. The seasonable, and almost miraculous, deliverance was devoutly celebrated by the applause of the clergy; who asserted, that the restoration of idols, and the persecution of the church, would have been the first measure of the reign of Eucherius. The son of Stilicho, however, was educated in the bosom of Christianity, which his father had uniformly professed, and zealously supported. [111] [1111] Serena had borrowed her magnificent necklace from the statue of Vesta; [112] and the Pagans execrated the memory of the sacrilegious minister, by whose order the Sibylline books, the oracles of Rome, had been committed to the flames. [113] The pride and power of Stilicho constituted his real guilt. An honorable reluctance to shed the blood of his countrymen appears to have contributed to the success of his unworthy rival; and it is the last humiliation of the character of Honorius, that posterity has not condescended to reproach him with his base ingratitude to the guardian of his youth, and the support of his empire.

[Footnote 107: Zosimus, l. v. p. 333. The marriage of a Christian with two sisters, scandalizes Tillemont, (Hist. des Empereurs, tom. v. p. 557;) who expects, in vain, that Pope Innocent I. should have done something in the way either of censure or of dispensation.]

[Footnote 108: Two of his friends are honorably mentioned, (Zosimus, l. v. p. 346:) Peter, chief of the school of notaries, and the great chamberlain Deuterius. Stilicho had secured the bed-chamber; and it is surprising that, under a feeble prince, the bed-chamber was not able to secure him.]

[Footnote 109: Orosius (l. vii. c. 38, p. 571, 572) seems to copy the false and furious manifestos, which were dispersed through the provinces by the new administration.]

[Footnote 110: See the Theodosian code, l. vii. tit. xvi. leg. 1, l. ix. tit. xlii. leg. 22. Stilicho is branded with the name of proedo publicus, who employed his wealth, ad omnem ditandam, inquietandamque Barbariem.]

[Footnote 111: Augustin himself is satisfied with the effectual laws, which Stilicho had enacted against heretics and idolaters; and which are still extant in the Code. He only applies to Olympius for their confirmation, (Baronius, Annal. Eccles. A.D. 408, No. 19.)]

[Footnote 112: Zosimus, l. v. p. 351. We may observe the bad taste of the age, in dressing their statues with such awkward finery.]

[Footnote 113: See Rutilius Numatianus, (Itinerar. l. ii. 41-60,) to whom religious enthusiasm has dictated some elegant and forcible lines. Stilicho likewise stripped the gold plates from the doors of the Capitol, and read a prophetic sentence which was engraven under them, (Zosimus, l. v. p. 352.) These are foolish stories: yet the charge of impiety adds weight and credit to the praise which Zosimus reluctantly bestows on his virtues. Note: One particular in the extorted praise of Zosimus, deserved the notice of the historian, as strongly opposed to the former imputations of Zosimus himself, and indicative of he corrupt practices of a declining age. "He had never bartered promotion in the army for bribes, nor peculated in the supplies of provisions for the army." l. v. c. xxxiv.—M.]

[Footnote 1111: Hence, perhaps, the accusation of treachery is countenanced by Hatilius:—

Quo magis est facinus diri Stilichonis iniquum Proditor arcani quod fuit imperii. Romano generi dum nititur esse superstes, Crudelis summis miscuit ima furor. Dumque timet, quicquid se fecerat ipso timeri, Immisit Latiae barbara tela neci. Rutil. Itin. II. 41.—M.] Among the train of dependants whose wealth and dignity attracted the notice of their own times, our curiosity is excited by the celebrated name of the poet Claudian, who enjoyed the favor of Stilicho, and was overwhelmed in the ruin of his patron.

The titular offices of tribune and notary fixed his rank in the Imperial court: he was indebted to the powerful intercession of Serena for his marriage with a very rich heiress of the province of Africa; [114] and the statute of Claudian, erected in the forum of Trajan, was a monument of the taste and liberality of the Roman senate. [115] After the praises of Stilicho became offensive and criminal, Claudian was exposed to the enmity of a powerful and unforgiving courtier, whom he had provoked by the insolence of wit. He had compared, in a lively epigram, the opposite characters of two Praetorian praefects of Italy; he contrasts the innocent repose of a philosopher, who sometimes resigned the hours of business to slumber, perhaps to study, with the interesting diligence of a rapacious minister, indefatigable in the pursuit of unjust or sacrilegious, gain. "How happy," continues Claudian, "how happy might it be for the people of Italy, if Mallius could be constantly awake, and if Hadrian would always sleep!" [116] The repose of Mallius was not disturbed by this friendly and gentle admonition; but the cruel vigilance of Hadrian watched the opportunity of revenge, and easily obtained, from the enemies of Stilicho, the trifling sacrifice of an obnoxious poet. The poet concealed himself, however, during the tumult of the revolution; and, consulting the dictates of prudence rather than of honor, he addressed, in the form of an epistle, a suppliant and humble recantation to the offended praefect. He deplores, in mournful strains, the fatal indiscretion into which he had been hurried by passion and folly; submits to the imitation of his adversary the generous examples of the clemency of gods, of heroes, and of lions; and expresses his hope that the magnanimity of Hadrian will not trample on a defenceless and contemptible foe, already humbled by disgrace and poverty, and deeply wounded by the exile, the tortures, and the death of his dearest friends. [117] Whatever might be the success of his prayer, or the accidents of his future life, the period of a few years levelled in the grave the minister and the poet: but the name of Hadrian is almost sunk in oblivion, while Claudian is read with pleasure in every country which has retained, or acquired, the knowledge of the Latin language. If we fairly balance his merits and his defects, we shall acknowledge that Claudian does not either satisfy, or silence, our reason. It would not be easy to produce a passage that deserves the epithet of sublime or pathetic; to select a verse that melts the heart or enlarges the imagination. We should vainly seek, in the poems of Claudian, the happy invention, and artificial conduct, of an interesting fable; or the just and lively representation of the characters and situations of real life. For the service of his patron, he published occasional panegyrics and invectives: and the design of these slavish compositions encouraged his propensity to exceed the limits of truth and nature. These imperfections, however, are compensated in some degree by the poetical virtues of Claudian. He was endowed with the rare and precious talent of raising the meanest, of adorning the most barren, and of diversifying the most similar, topics: his coloring, more especially in descriptive poetry, is soft and splendid; and he seldom fails to display, and even to abuse, the advantages of a cultivated understanding, a copious fancy, an easy, and sometimes forcible, expression; and a perpetual flow of harmonious versification. To these commendations, independent of any accidents of time and place, we must add the peculiar merit which Claudian derived from the unfavorable circumstances of his birth. In the decline of arts, and of empire, a native of Egypt, [118] who had received the education of a Greek, assumed, in a mature age, the familiar use, and absolute command, of the Latin language; [119] soared above the heads of his feeble contemporaries; and placed himself, after an interval of three hundred years, among the poets of ancient Rome. [120]

[Footnote 114: At the nuptials of Orpheus (a modest comparison!) all the parts of animated nature contributed their various gifts; and the gods themselves enriched their favorite. Claudian had neither flocks, nor herds, nor vines, nor olives. His wealthy bride was heiress to them all. But he carried to Africa a recommendatory letter from Serena, his Juno, and was made happy, (Epist. ii. ad Serenam.)]

[Footnote 115: Claudian feels the honor like a man who deserved it, (in praefat Bell. Get.) The original inscription, on marble, was found at Rome, in the fifteenth century, in the house of Pomponius Laetus. The statue of a poet, far superior to Claudian, should have been erected, during his lifetime, by the men of letters, his countrymen and contemporaries. It was a noble design.]

[Footnote 116: See Epigram xxx.

Mallius indulget somno noctesque diesque: Insomnis Pharius sacra, profana, rapit. Omnibus, hoc, Italae gentes, exposcite votis; Mallius ut vigilet, dormiat ut Pharius.

Hadrian was a Pharian, (of Alexandrian.) See his public life in Godefroy, Cod. Theodos. tom. vi. p. 364. Mallius did not always sleep. He composed some elegant dialogues on the Greek systems of natural philosophy, (Claud, in Mall. Theodor. Cons. 61-112.)]

[Footnote 117: See Claudian's first Epistle. Yet, in some places, an air of irony and indignation betrays his secret reluctance. * Note: M. Beugnot has pointed out one remarkable characteristic of Claudian's poetry, and of the times—his extraordinary religious indifference. Here is a poet writing at the actual crisis of the complete triumph of the new religion, the visible extinction of the old: if we may so speak, a strictly historical poet, whose works, excepting his Mythological poem on the rape of Proserpine, are confined to temporary subjects, and to the politics of his own eventful day; yet, excepting in one or two small and indifferent pieces, manifestly written by a Christian, and interpolated among his poems, there is no allusion whatever to the great religious strife. No one would know the existence of Christianity at that period of the world, by reading the works of Claudian. His panegyric and his satire preserve the same religious impartiality; award their most lavish praise or their bitterest invective on Christian or Pagan; he insults the fall of Eugenius, and glories in the victories of Theodosius. Under the child,—and Honorius never became more than a child,—Christianity continued to inflict wounds more and more deadly on expiring Paganism. Are the gods of Olympus agitated with apprehension at the birth of this new enemy? They are introduced as rejoicing at his appearance, and promising long years of glory. The whole prophetic choir of Paganism, all the oracles throughout the world, are summoned to predict the felicity of his reign. His birth is compared to that of Apollo, but the narrow limits of an island must not confine the new deity—

... Non littora nostro Sufficerent angusta Deo.

Augury and divination, the shrines of Ammon, and of Delphi, the Persian Magi, and the Etruscan seers, the Chaldean astrologers, the Sibyl herself, are described as still discharging their prophetic functions, and celebrating the natal day of this Christian prince. They are noble lines, as well as curious illustrations of the times:

... Quae tunc documenta futuri? Quae voces avium? quanti per inane volatus? Quis vatum discursus erat? Tibi corniger Ammon, Et dudum taciti rupere silentia Delphi. Te Persae cecinere Magi, te sensit Etruscus Augur, et inspectis Babylonius horruit astris; Chaldaei stupuere senes, Cumanaque rursus Itonuit rupes, rabidae delubra Sibyllae. —Claud. iv. Cons. Hon. 141.

From the Quarterly Review of Beugnot. Hist. de la Paganisme en Occident, Q. R. v. lvii. p. 61.—M.]

[Footnote 118: National vanity has made him a Florentine, or a Spaniard. But the first Epistle of Claudian proves him a native of Alexandria, (Fabricius, Bibliot. Latin. tom. iii. p. 191-202, edit. Ernest.)]

[Footnote 119: His first Latin verses were composed during the consulship of Probinus, A.D. 395.

Romanos bibimus primum, te consule, fontes, Et Latiae cessit Graia Thalia togae.

Besides some Greek epigrams, which are still extant, the Latin poet had composed, in Greek, the Antiquities of Tarsus, Anazarbus, Berytus, Nice, &c. It is more easy to supply the loss of good poetry, than of authentic history.]

[Footnote 120: Strada (Prolusion v. vi.) allows him to contend with the five heroic poets, Lucretius, Virgil, Ovid, Lucan, and Statius. His patron is the accomplished courtier Balthazar Castiglione. His admirers are numerous and passionate. Yet the rigid critics reproach the exotic weeds, or flowers, which spring too luxuriantly in his Latian soil]

Chapter XXXI: Invasion Of Italy, Occupation Of Territories By Barbarians.—Part I.

Invasion Of Italy By Alaric.—Manners Of The Roman Senate And People.—Rome Is Thrice Besieged, And At Length Pillaged, By The Goths.—Death Of Alaric.—The Goths Evacuate Italy.—Fall Of Constantine.—Gaul And Spain Are Occupied By The Barbarians. —Independence Of Britain.

The incapacity of a weak and distracted government may often assume the appearance, and produce the effects, of a treasonable correspondence with the public enemy. If Alaric himself had been introduced into the council of Ravenna, he would probably have advised the same measures which were actually pursued by the ministers of Honorius. [1] The king of the Goths would have conspired, perhaps with some reluctance, to destroy the formidable adversary, by whose arms, in Italy, as well as in Greece, he had been twice overthrown. Their active and interested hatred laboriously accomplished the disgrace and ruin of the great Stilicho. The valor of Sarus, his fame in arms, and his personal, or hereditary, influence over the confederate Barbarians, could recommend him only to the friends of their country, who despised, or detested, the worthless characters of Turpilio, Varanes, and Vigilantius. By the pressing instances of the new favorites, these generals, unworthy as they had shown themselves of the names of soldiers, [2] were promoted to the command of the cavalry, of the infantry, and of the domestic troops. The Gothic prince would have subscribed with pleasure the edict which the fanaticism of Olympius dictated to the simple and devout emperor. Honorius excluded all persons, who were adverse to the Catholic church, from holding any office in the state; obstinately rejected the service of all those who dissented from his religion; and rashly disqualified many of his bravest and most skilful officers, who adhered to the Pagan worship, or who had imbibed the opinions of Arianism. [3] These measures, so advantageous to an enemy, Alaric would have approved, and might perhaps have suggested; but it may seem doubtful, whether the Barbarian would have promoted his interest at the expense of the inhuman and absurd cruelty which was perpetrated by the direction, or at least with the connivance of the Imperial ministers. The foreign auxiliaries, who had been attached to the person of Stilicho, lamented his death; but the desire of revenge was checked by a natural apprehension for the safety of their wives and children; who were detained as hostages in the strong cities of Italy, where they had likewise deposited their most valuable effects. At the same hour, and as if by a common signal, the cities of Italy were polluted by the same horrid scenes of universal massacre and pillage, which involved, in promiscuous destruction, the families and fortunes of the Barbarians. Exasperated by such an injury, which might have awakened the tamest and most servile spirit, they cast a look of indignation and hope towards the camp of Alaric, and unanimously swore to pursue, with just and implacable war, the perfidious nation who had so basely violated the laws of hospitality. By the imprudent conduct of the ministers of Honorius, the republic lost the assistance, and deserved the enmity, of thirty thousand of her bravest soldiers; and the weight of that formidable army, which alone might have determined the event of the war, was transferred from the scale of the Romans into that of the Goths.

[Footnote 1: The series of events, from the death of Stilicho to the arrival of Alaric before Rome, can only be found in Zosimus, l. v. p. 347-350.]

[Footnote 2: The expression of Zosimus is strong and lively, sufficient to excite the contempt of the enemy.]

[Footnote 3: Eos qui catholicae sectae sunt inimici, intra palatium militare pro hibemus. Nullus nobis sit aliqua ratione conjunctus, qui a nobis fidest religione discordat. Cod. Theodos. l. xvi. tit. v. leg. 42, and Godefroy's Commentary, tom. vi. p. 164. This law was applied in the utmost latitude, and rigorously executed. Zosimus, l. v. p. 364.]

In the arts of negotiation, as well as in those of war, the Gothic king maintained his superior ascendant over an enemy, whose seeming changes proceeded from the total want of counsel and design. From his camp, on the confines of Italy, Alaric attentively observed the revolutions of the palace, watched the progress of faction and discontent, disguised the hostile aspect of a Barbarian invader, and assumed the more popular appearance of the friend and ally of the great Stilicho: to whose virtues, when they were no longer formidable, he could pay a just tribute of sincere praise and regret. The pressing invitation of the malecontents, who urged the king of the Goths to invade Italy, was enforced by a lively sense of his personal injuries; and he might especially complain, that the Imperial ministers still delayed and eluded the payment of the four thousand pounds of gold which had been granted by the Roman senate, either to reward his services, or to appease his fury. His decent firmness was supported by an artful moderation, which contributed to the success of his designs. He required a fair and reasonable satisfaction; but he gave the strongest assurances, that, as soon as he had obtained it, he would immediately retire. He refused to trust the faith of the Romans, unless Aetius and Jason, the sons of two great officers of state, were sent as hostages to his camp; but he offered to deliver, in exchange, several of the noblest youths of the Gothic nation. The modesty of Alaric was interpreted, by the ministers of Ravenna, as a sure evidence of his weakness and fear. They disdained either to negotiate a treaty, or to assemble an army; and with a rash confidence, derived only from their ignorance of the extreme danger, irretrievably wasted the decisive moments of peace and war. While they expected, in sullen silence, that the Barbarians would evacuate the confines of Italy, Alaric, with bold and rapid marches, passed the Alps and the Po; hastily pillaged the cities of Aquileia, Altinum, Concordia, and Cremona, which yielded to his arms; increased his forces by the accession of thirty thousand auxiliaries; and, without meeting a single enemy in the field, advanced as far as the edge of the morass which protected the impregnable residence of the emperor of the West. Instead of attempting the hopeless siege of Ravenna, the prudent leader of the Goths proceeded to Rimini, stretched his ravages along the sea-coast of the Hadriatic, and meditated the conquest of the ancient mistress of the world. An Italian hermit, whose zeal and sanctity were respected by the Barbarians themselves, encountered the victorious monarch, and boldly denounced the indignation of Heaven against the oppressors of the earth; but the saint himself was confounded by the solemn asseveration of Alaric, that he felt a secret and praeternatural impulse, which directed, and even compelled, his march to the gates of Rome. He felt, that his genius and his fortune were equal to the most arduous enterprises; and the enthusiasm which he communicated to the Goths, insensibly removed the popular, and almost superstitious, reverence of the nations for the majesty of the Roman name. His troops, animated by the hopes of spoil, followed the course of the Flaminian way, occupied the unguarded passes of the Apennine, [4] descended into the rich plains of Umbria; and, as they lay encamped on the banks of the Clitumnus, might wantonly slaughter and devour the milk-white oxen, which had been so long reserved for the use of Roman triumphs. [5] A lofty situation, and a seasonable tempest of thunder and lightning, preserved the little city of Narni; but the king of the Goths, despising the ignoble prey, still advanced with unabated vigor; and after he had passed through the stately arches, adorned with the spoils of Barbaric victories, he pitched his camp under the walls of Rome. [6]

[Footnote 4: Addison (see his Works, vol. ii. p. 54, edit. Baskerville) has given a very picturesque description of the road through the Apennine. The Goths were not at leisure to observe the beauties of the prospect; but they were pleased to find that the Saxa Intercisa, a narrow passage which Vespasian had cut through the rock, (Cluver. Italia Antiq. tom. i. p. 168,) was totally neglected.

Hine albi, Clitumne, greges, et maxima taurus Victima, saepe tuo perfusi flumine sacro, Romanos ad templa Deum duxere triumphos. —Georg. ii. 147.

Besides Virgil, most of the Latin poets, Propertius, Lucan, Silius Italicus, Claudian, &c., whose passages may be found in Cluverius and Addison, have celebrated the triumphal victims of the Clitumnus.]

[Footnote 6: Some ideas of the march of Alaric are borrowed from the journey of Honorius over the same ground. (See Claudian in vi. Cons. Hon. 494-522.) The measured distance between Ravenna and Rome was 254 Roman miles. Itinerar. Wesseling, p. 126.] During a period of six hundred and nineteen years, the seat of empire had never been violated by the presence of a foreign enemy. The unsuccessful expedition of Hannibal [7] served only to display the character of the senate and people; of a senate degraded, rather than ennobled, by the comparison of an assembly of kings; and of a people, to whom the ambassador of Pyrrhus ascribed the inexhaustible resources of the Hydra. [8] Each of the senators, in the time of the Punic war, had accomplished his term of the military service, either in a subordinate or a superior station; and the decree, which invested with temporary command all those who had been consuls, or censors, or dictators, gave the republic the immediate assistance of many brave and experienced generals. In the beginning of the war, the Roman people consisted of two hundred and fifty thousand citizens of an age to bear arms. [9] Fifty thousand had already died in the defence of their country; and the twenty-three legions which were employed in the different camps of Italy, Greece, Sardinia, Sicily, and Spain, required about one hundred thousand men. But there still remained an equal number in Rome, and the adjacent territory, who were animated by the same intrepid courage; and every citizen was trained, from his earliest youth, in the discipline and exercises of a soldier. Hannibal was astonished by the constancy of the senate, who, without raising the siege of Capua, or recalling their scattered forces, expected his approach. He encamped on the banks of the Anio, at the distance of three miles from the city; and he was soon informed, that the ground on which he had pitched his tent, was sold for an adequate price at a public auction; [911] and that a body of troops was dismissed by an opposite road, to reenforce the legions of Spain. [10] He led his Africans to the gates of Rome, where he found three armies in order of battle, prepared to receive him; but Hannibal dreaded the event of a combat, from which he could not hope to escape, unless he destroyed the last of his enemies; and his speedy retreat confessed the invincible courage of the Romans.

[Footnote 7: The march and retreat of Hannibal are described by Livy, l. xxvi. c. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11; and the reader is made a spectator of the interesting scene.]

[Footnote 8: These comparisons were used by Cyneas, the counsellor of Pyrrhus, after his return from his embassy, in which he had diligently studied the discipline and manners of Rome. See Plutarch in Pyrrho. tom. ii. p. 459.]

[Footnote 9: In the three census which were made of the Roman people, about the time of the second Punic war, the numbers stand as follows, (see Livy, Epitom. l. xx. Hist. l. xxvii. 36. xxix. 37:) 270,213, 137,108 214,000. The fall of the second, and the rise of the third, appears so enormous, that several critics, notwithstanding the unanimity of the Mss., have suspected some corruption of the text of Livy. (See Drakenborch ad xxvii. 36, and Beaufort, Republique Romaine, tom. i. p. 325.) They did not consider that the second census was taken only at Rome, and that the numbers were diminished, not only by the death, but likewise by the absence, of many soldiers. In the third census, Livy expressly affirms, that the legions were mustered by the care of particular commissaries. From the numbers on the list we must always deduct one twelfth above threescore, and incapable of bearing arms. See Population de la France, p. 72.]

[Footnote 911: Compare the remarkable transaction in Jeremiah xxxii. 6, to 44, where the prophet purchases his uncle's estate at the approach of the Babylonian captivity, in his undoubting confidence in the future restoration of the people. In the one case it is the triumph of religious faith, in the other of national pride.—M.]

[Footnote 10: Livy considers these two incidents as the effects only of chance and courage. I suspect that they were both managed by the admirable policy of the senate.]

From the time of the Punic war, the uninterrupted succession of senators had preserved the name and image of the republic; and the degenerate subjects of Honorius ambitiously derived their descent from the heroes who had repulsed the arms of Hannibal, and subdued the nations of the earth. The temporal honors which the devout Paula [11] inherited and despised, are carefully recapitulated by Jerom, the guide of her conscience, and the historian of her life. The genealogy of her father, Rogatus, which ascended as high as Agamemnon, might seem to betray a Grecian origin; but her mother, Blaesilla, numbered the Scipios, Aemilius Paulus, and the Gracchi, in the list of her ancestors; and Toxotius, the husband of Paula, deduced his royal lineage from Aeneas, the father of the Julian line. The vanity of the rich, who desired to be noble, was gratified by these lofty pretensions. Encouraged by the applause of their parasites, they easily imposed on the credulity of the vulgar; and were countenanced, in some measure, by the custom of adopting the name of their patron, which had always prevailed among the freedmen and clients of illustrious families. Most of those families, however, attacked by so many causes of external violence or internal decay, were gradually extirpated; and it would be more reasonable to seek for a lineal descent of twenty generations, among the mountains of the Alps, or in the peaceful solitude of Apulia, than on the theatre of Rome, the seat of fortune, of danger, and of perpetual revolutions. Under each successive reign, and from every province of the empire, a crowd of hardy adventurers, rising to eminence by their talents or their vices, usurped the wealth, the honors, and the palaces of Rome; and oppressed, or protected, the poor and humble remains of consular families; who were ignorant, perhaps, of the glory of their ancestors. [12]

[Footnote 11: See Jerom, tom. i. p. 169, 170, ad Eustochium; he bestows on Paula the splendid titles of Gracchorum stirps, soboles Scipionum, Pauli haeres, cujus vocabulum trahit, Martiae Papyriae Matris Africani vera et germana propago. This particular description supposes a more solid title than the surname of Julius, which Toxotius shared with a thousand families of the western provinces. See the Index of Tacitus, of Gruter's Inscriptions, &c.]

[Footnote 12: Tacitus (Annal. iii. 55) affirms, that between the battle of Actium and the reign of Vespasian, the senate was gradually filled with new families from the Municipia and colonies of Italy.]

In the time of Jerom and Claudian, the senators unanimously yielded the preeminence to the Anician line; and a slight view of their history will serve to appreciate the rank and antiquity of the noble families, which contended only for the second place. [13] During the five first ages of the city, the name of the Anicians was unknown; they appear to have derived their origin from Praeneste; and the ambition of those new citizens was long satisfied with the Plebeian honors of tribunes of the people. [14] One hundred and sixty-eight years before the Christian aera, the family was ennobled by the Praetorship of Anicius, who gloriously terminated the Illyrian war, by the conquest of the nation, and the captivity of their king. [15] From the triumph of that general, three consulships, in distant periods, mark the succession of the Anician name. [16] From the reign of Diocletian to the final extinction of the Western empire, that name shone with a lustre which was not eclipsed, in the public estimation, by the majesty of the Imperial purple. [17] The several branches, to whom it was communicated, united, by marriage or inheritance, the wealth and titles of the Annian, the Petronian, and the Olybrian houses; and in each generation the number of consulships was multiplied by an hereditary claim. [18] The Anician family excelled in faith and in riches: they were the first of the Roman senate who embraced Christianity; and it is probable that Anicius Julian, who was afterwards consul and praefect of the city, atoned for his attachment to the party of Maxentius, by the readiness with which he accepted the religion of Constantine. [19] Their ample patrimony was increased by the industry of Probus, the chief of the Anician family; who shared with Gratian the honors of the consulship, and exercised, four times, the high office of Praetorian praefect. [20] His immense estates were scattered over the wide extent of the Roman world; and though the public might suspect or disapprove the methods by which they had been acquired, the generosity and magnificence of that fortunate statesman deserved the gratitude of his clients, and the admiration of strangers. [21] Such was the respect entertained for his memory, that the two sons of Probus, in their earliest youth, and at the request of the senate, were associated in the consular dignity; a memorable distinction, without example, in the annals of Rome. [22]

[Footnote 13:

Nec quisquam Procerum tentet (licet aere vetusto Floreat, et claro cingatur Roma senatu) Se jactare parem; sed prima sede relicta Aucheniis, de jure licet certare secundo. —-Claud. in Prob. et Olybrii Coss. 18.

Such a compliment paid to the obscure name of the Auchenii has amazed the critics; but they all agree, that whatever may be the true reading, the sense of Claudian can be applied only to the Anician family.]

[Footnote 14: The earliest date in the annals of Pighius, is that of M. Anicius Gallus. Trib. Pl. A. U. C. 506. Another tribune, Q. Anicius, A. U. C. 508, is distinguished by the epithet of Praenestinus. Livy (xlv. 43) places the Anicii below the great families of Rome.]

[Footnote 15: Livy, xliv. 30, 31, xlv. 3, 26, 43. He fairly appreciates the merit of Anicius, and justly observes, that his fame was clouded by the superior lustre of the Macedonian, which preceded the Illyrian triumph.]

[Footnote 16: The dates of the three consulships are, A. U. C. 593, 818, 967 the two last under the reigns of Nero and Caracalla. The second of these consuls distinguished himself only by his infamous flattery, (Tacit. Annal. xv. 74;) but even the evidence of crimes, if they bear the stamp of greatness and antiquity, is admitted, without reluctance, to prove the genealogy of a noble house.]

[Footnote 17: In the sixth century, the nobility of the Anician name is mentioned (Cassiodor. Variar. l. x. Ep. 10, 12) with singular respect by the minister of a Gothic king of Italy.]

[Footnote 18:

Fixus in omnes Cognatos procedit honos; quemcumque requiras Hac de stirpe virum, certum est de Consule nasci. Per fasces numerantur Avi, semperque renata Nobilitate virent, et prolem fata sequuntur.

(Claudian in Prob. et Olyb. Consulat. 12, &c.) The Annii, whose name seems to have merged in the Anician, mark the Fasti with many consulships, from the time of Vespasian to the fourth century.]

[Footnote 19: The title of first Christian senator may be justified by the authority of Prudentius (in Symmach. i. 553) and the dislike of the Pagans to the Anician family. See Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, tom. iv. p. 183, v. p. 44. Baron. Annal. A.D. 312, No. 78, A.D. 322, No. 2.]

[Footnote 20: Probus... claritudine generis et potentia et opum magnitudine, cognitus Orbi Romano, per quem universum poene patrimonia sparsa possedit, juste an secus non judicioli est nostri. Ammian Marcellin. xxvii. 11. His children and widow erected for him a magnificent tomb in the Vatican, which was demolished in the time of Pope Nicholas V. to make room for the new church of St. Peter Baronius, who laments the ruin of this Christian monument, has diligently preserved the inscriptions and basso-relievos. See Annal. Eccles. A.D. 395, No. 5-17.]

[Footnote 21: Two Persian satraps travelled to Milan and Rome, to hear St. Ambrose, and to see Probus, (Paulin. in Vit. Ambros.) Claudian (in Cons. Probin. et Olybr. 30-60) seems at a loss how to express the glory of Probus.]

[Footnote 22: See the poem which Claudian addressed to the two noble youths.]

Chapter XXXI: Invasion Of Italy, Occupation Of Territories By Barbarians.—Part II.

"The marbles of the Anician palace," were used as a proverbial expression of opulence and splendor; [23] but the nobles and senators of Rome aspired, in due gradation, to imitate that illustrious family. The accurate description of the city, which was composed in the Theodosian age, enumerates one thousand seven hundred and eighty houses, the residence of wealthy and honorable citizens. [24] Many of these stately mansions might almost excuse the exaggeration of the poet; that Rome contained a multitude of palaces, and that each palace was equal to a city: since it included within its own precincts every thing which could be subservient either to use or luxury; markets, hippodromes, temples, fountains, baths, porticos, shady groves, and artificial aviaries. [25] The historian Olympiodorus, who represents the state of Rome when it was besieged by the Goths, [26] continues to observe, that several of the richest senators received from their estates an annual income of four thousand pounds of gold, above one hundred and sixty thousand pounds sterling; without computing the stated provision of corn and wine, which, had they been sold, might have equalled in value one third of the money. Compared to this immoderate wealth, an ordinary revenue of a thousand or fifteen hundred pounds of gold might be considered as no more than adequate to the dignity of the senatorian rank, which required many expenses of a public and ostentatious kind. Several examples are recorded, in the age of Honorius, of vain and popular nobles, who celebrated the year of their praetorship by a festival, which lasted seven days, and cost above one hundred thousand pounds sterling. [27] The estates of the Roman senators, which so far exceeded the proportion of modern wealth, were not confined to the limits of Italy. Their possessions extended far beyond the Ionian and Aegean Seas, to the most distant provinces: the city of Nicopolis, which Augustus had founded as an eternal monument of the Actian victory, was the property of the devout Paula; [28] and it is observed by Seneca, that the rivers, which had divided hostile nations, now flowed through the lands of private citizens. [29] According to their temper and circumstances, the estates of the Romans were either cultivated by the labor of their slaves, or granted, for a certain and stipulated rent, to the industrious farmer. The economical writers of antiquity strenuously recommend the former method, wherever it may be practicable; but if the object should be removed, by its distance or magnitude, from the immediate eye of the master, they prefer the active care of an old hereditary tenant, attached to the soil, and interested in the produce, to the mercenary administration of a negligent, perhaps an unfaithful, steward. [30]

[Footnote 23: Secundinus, the Manichaean, ap. Baron. Annal. Eccles. A.D. 390, No. 34.]

[Footnote 24: See Nardini, Roma Antica, p. 89, 498, 500.]

[Footnote 25:

Quid loquar inclusas inter laquearia sylvas; Vernula queis vario carmine ludit avis.

Claud. Rutil. Numatian. Itinerar. ver. 111. The poet lived at the time of the Gothic invasion. A moderate palace would have covered Cincinnatus's farm of four acres (Val. Max. iv. 4.) In laxitatem ruris excurrunt, says Seneca, Epist. 114. See a judicious note of Mr. Hume, Essays, vol. i. p. 562, last 8vo edition.]

[Footnote 26: This curious account of Rome, in the reign of Honorius, is found in a fragment of the historian Olympiodorus, ap. Photium, p. 197.]

[Footnote 27: The sons of Alypius, of Symmachus, and of Maximus, spent, during their respective praetorships, twelve, or twenty, or forty, centenaries, (or hundred weight of gold.) See Olympiodor. ap. Phot. p. 197. This popular estimation allows some latitude; but it is difficult to explain a law in the Theodosian Code, (l. vi. leg. 5,) which fixes the expense of the first praetor at 25,000, of the second at 20,000, and of the third at 15,000 folles. The name of follis (see Mem. de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. xxviii. p. 727) was equally applied to a purse of 125 pieces of silver, and to a small copper coin of the value of 1/2625 part of that purse. In the former sense, the 25,000 folles would be equal to 150,000 L.; in the latter, to five or six ponuds sterling The one appears extravagant, the other is ridiculous. There must have existed some third and middle value, which is here understood; but ambiguity is an excusable fault in the language of laws.]

[Footnote 28: Nicopolis...... in Actiaco littore sita possessioris vestra nunc pars vel maxima est. Jerom. in Praefat. Comment. ad Epistol. ad Titum, tom. ix. p. 243. M. D. Tillemont supposes, strangely enough, that it was part of Agamemnon's inheritance. Mem. Eccles. tom. xii. p. 85.]

[Footnote 29: Seneca, Epist. lxxxix. His language is of the declamatory kind: but declamation could scarcely exaggerate the avarice and luxury of the Romans. The philosopher himself deserved some share of the reproach, if it be true that his rigorous exaction of Quadringenties, above three hundred thousand pounds which he had lent at high interest, provoked a rebellion in Britain, (Dion Cassius, l. lxii. p. 1003.) According to the conjecture of Gale (Antoninus's Itinerary in Britain, p. 92,) the same Faustinus possessed an estate near Bury, in Suffolk and another in the kingdom of Naples.]

[Footnote 30: Volusius, a wealthy senator, (Tacit. Annal. iii. 30,) always preferred tenants born on the estate. Columella, who received this maxim from him, argues very judiciously on the subject. De Re Rustica, l. i. c. 7, p. 408, edit. Gesner. Leipsig, 1735.]

The opulent nobles of an immense capital, who were never excited by the pursuit of military glory, and seldom engaged in the occupations of civil government, naturally resigned their leisure to the business and amusements of private life. At Rome, commerce was always held in contempt: but the senators, from the first age of the republic, increased their patrimony, and multiplied their clients, by the lucrative practice of usury; and the obselete laws were eluded, or violated, by the mutual inclinations and interest of both parties. [31] A considerable mass of treasure must always have existed at Rome, either in the current coin of the empire, or in the form of gold and silver plate; and there were many sideboards in the time of Pliny which contained more solid silver, than had been transported by Scipio from vanquished Carthage. [32] The greater part of the nobles, who dissipated their fortunes in profuse luxury, found themselves poor in the midst of wealth, and idle in a constant round of dissipation. Their desires were continually gratified by the labor of a thousand hands; of the numerous train of their domestic slaves, who were actuated by the fear of punishment; and of the various professions of artificers and merchants, who were more powerfully impelled by the hopes of gain. The ancients were destitute of many of the conveniences of life, which have been invented or improved by the progress of industry; and the plenty of glass and linen has diffused more real comforts among the modern nations of Europe, than the senators of Rome could derive from all the refinements of pompous or sensual luxury. [33] Their luxury, and their manners, have been the subject of minute and laborious disposition: but as such inquiries would divert me too long from the design of the present work, I shall produce an authentic state of Rome and its inhabitants, which is more peculiarly applicable to the period of the Gothic invasion. Ammianus Marcellinus, who prudently chose the capital of the empire as the residence the best adapted to the historian of his own times, has mixed with the narrative of public events a lively representation of the scenes with which he was familiarly conversant. The judicious reader will not always approve of the asperity of censure, the choice of circumstances, or the style of expression; he will perhaps detect the latent prejudices, and personal resentments, which soured the temper of Ammianus himself; but he will surely observe, with philosophic curiosity, the interesting and original picture of the manners of Rome. [34]

[Footnote 31: Valesius (ad Ammian. xiv. 6) has proved, from Chrysostom and Augustin, that the senators were not allowed to lend money at usury. Yet it appears from the Theodosian Code, (see Godefroy ad l. ii. tit. xxxiii. tom. i. p. 230-289,) that they were permitted to take six percent., or one half of the legal interest; and, what is more singular, this permission was granted to the young senators.]

[Footnote 32: Plin. Hist. Natur. xxxiii. 50. He states the silver at only 4380 pounds, which is increased by Livy (xxx. 45) to 100,023: the former seems too little for an opulent city, the latter too much for any private sideboard.]

[Footnote 33: The learned Arbuthnot (Tables of Ancient Coins, &c. p. 153) has observed with humor, and I believe with truth, that Augustus had neither glass to his windows, nor a shirt to his back. Under the lower empire, the use of linen and glass became somewhat more common. * Note: The discovery of glass in such common use at Pompeii, spoils the argument of Arbuthnot. See Sir W. Gell. Pompeiana, 2d ser. p. 98.—M.]

[Footnote 34: It is incumbent on me to explain the liberties which I have taken with the text of Ammianus. 1. I have melted down into one piece the sixth chapter of the fourteenth and the fourth of the twenty-eighth book. 2. I have given order and connection to the confused mass of materials. 3. I have softened some extravagant hyperbeles, and pared away some superfluities of the original. 4. I have developed some observations which were insinuated rather than expressed. With these allowances, my version will be found, not literal indeed, but faithful and exact.]

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