Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XXXIX - The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 6
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CHAPTER XXXIX - Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 6 
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ed. J.B. Bury with an Introduction by W.E.H. Lecky (New York: Fred de Fau and Co., 1906), in 12 vols. Vol. 6.
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Zeno and Anastasius, Emperors of the East — Birth, Education, and first Exploits of Theodoric the Ostrogoth — His Invasion and Conquest of Italy — The Gothic Kingdom of Italy — State of the West — Military and Civil Government — The Senator Boethius — Last Acts and Death of Theodoric
After the fall of the Roman empire in the West, an interval of fifty years, till the memorable reign of Justinian, is faintly marked by the obscure names and imperfect annals of Zeno, Anastasius, and Justin, who successively ascended the throne of Constantinople. During the same period, Italy revived and flourished under the government of a Gothic king, who might have deserved a statue among the best and bravest of the ancient Romans.
Theodoric the Ostrogoth, the fourteenth in lineal descent of the royal line of the Amali,1 was born in the neighbourhood of Vienna2 two years after the death of Attila. A recent victory had restored the independence of the Ostrogoths; and the three brothers, Walamir, Theodemir, and Widimir, who ruled that warlike nation with united counsels, had separately pitched their habitations in the fertile though desolate province of Pannonia.3 The Huns still threatened their revolted subjects, but their hasty attack was repelled by the single forces of Walamir, and the news of his victory reached the distant camp of his brother in the same auspicious moment that the favourite concubine of Theodemir was delivered of a son and heir. In the eighth year of his age, Theodoric was reluctantly yielded by his father to the public interest, as the pledge of an alliance which Leo, emperor of the East, had consented to purchase by an annual subsidy of three hundred pounds of gold. The royal hostage was educated at Constantinople with care and tenderness. His body was formed to all the exercises of war, his mind was expanded by the habits of liberal conversation; he frequented the schools of the most skilful masters; but he disdained or neglected the arts of Greece, and so ignorant did he always remain of the first elements of science that a rude mark was contrived to represent the signature of the illiterate king of Italy.4 As soon as he had attained the age of eighteen, he was restored to the wishes of the Ostrogoths, whom the emperor aspired to gain by liberality and confidence. Walamir had fallen in battle; the youngest of the brothers, Widimir, had led away into Italy and Gaul an army of Barbarians, and the whole nation acknowledged for their king the father of Theodoric. His ferocious subjects admired the strength and stature of their young prince;5 and he soon convinced them that he had not degenerated from the valour of his ancestors. At the head of six thousand volunteers he secretly left the camp in quest of adventures, descended the Danube as far as Singidunum or Belgrade, and soon returned to his father with the spoils of a Sarmatian king whom he had vanquished and slain. Such triumphs, however, were productive only of fame, and the invincible Ostrogoths were reduced to extreme distress by the want of clothing and food. They unanimously resolved to desert their Pannonian encampments, and boldly to advance into the warm and wealthy neighbourhood of the Byzantine court, which already maintained in pride and luxury so many bands of confederate Goths. After proving by some acts of hostility that they could be dangerous, or at least troublesome, enemies, the Ostrogoths sold at a high price their reconciliation and fidelity, accepted a donative of lands6 and money, and were entrusted with the defence of the lower Danube, under the command of Theodoric, who succeeded after his father’s death to the hereditary throne of the Amali.7
An hero, descended from a race of kings, must have depised the base Isaurian who was invested with the Roman purple, without any endowments of mind or body, without any advantages of royal birth or superior qualifications. After the failure of the Theodosian line, the choice of Pulcheria and of the senate might be justified in some measure by the characters of Marcian and Leo, but the latter of these princes confirmed and dishonoured his reign by the perfidious murder of Aspar and his sons, who too rigorously exacted the debt of gratitude and obedience. The inheritance of Leo and of the East was peaceably devolved on his infant grandson, the son of his daughter Ariadne; and her Isaurian husband, the fortunate Trascalisseus, exchanged that barbarous sound for the Grecian appellation of Zeno. After the decease of the elder Leo, he approached with unnatural respect the throne of his son, humbly received, as a gift, the second rank in the empire, and soon excited the public suspicion on the sudden and premature death of his young colleague, whose life could no longer promote the success of his ambition. But the palace of Constantinople was ruled by female influence, and agitated by female passions; and Verina, the widow of Leo, claiming his empire as her own, pronounced a sentence of deposition against the worthless and ungrateful servant on whom she alone had bestowed the sceptre of the East.8 As soon as she sounded a revolt in the ears of Zeno, he fled with precipitation into the mountains of Isauria, and her brother Basiliscus, already infamous by his African expedition,9 was unanimously proclaimed by the servile senate. But the reign of the usurper was short and turbulent. Basiliscus presumed to assassinate the lover of his sister; he dared to offend the lover of his wife, the vain and insolent Harmatius, who, in the midst of Asiatic luxury, affected the dress, the demeanour, and the surname of Achilles.10 By the conspiracy of the malcontents, Zeno was recalled from exile; the armies, the capital, the person, of Basiliscus were betrayed; and his whole family was condemned to the long agony of cold and hunger by the inhuman conqueror, who wanted courage to encounter or to forgive his enemies. The haughty spirit of Verina was still incapable of submission or repose. She provoked the enmity of a favourite general, embraced his cause as soon as he was disgraced, created a new emperor in Syria and Egypt, raised an army of seventy thousand men, and persisted to the last moment of her life in a fruitless rebellion, which, according to the fashion of the age, had been predicted by Christian hermits and Pagan magicians. While the East was afflicted by the passions of Verina, her daughter Ariadne was distinguished by the female virtues of mildness and fidelity; she followed her husband in his exile, and after his restoration she implored his clemency in favour of her mother. On the decease of Zeno, Ariadne, the daughter, the mother, and the widow of an emperor, gave her hand and the Imperial title to Anastasius, an aged domestic of the palace, who survived his elevation above twenty-seven years, and whose character is attested by the acclamation of the people, “Reign as you have lived!”11
Whatever fear or affection could bestow, was profusely lavished by Zeno on the king of the Ostrogoths: the rank of patrician and consul, the command of the Palatine troops, an equestrian statue, a treasure in gold and silver of many thousand pounds, the name of son, and the promise of a rich and honourable wife. As long as Theodoric condescended to serve, he supported with courage and fidelity the cause of his benefactor: his rapid march contributed to the restoration of Zeno; and in the second revolt, the Walamirs, as they were called, pursued and pressed the Asiatic rebels, till they left an easy victory to the Imperial troops.12 But the faithful servant was suddenly converted into a formidable enemy, who spread the flames of war from Constantinople to the Adriatic; many flourishing cities were reduced to ashes, and the agriculture of Thrace was almost extirpated by the wanton cruelty of the Goths, who deprived their captive peasants of the right hand, that guided the plough.13 On such occasions, Theodoric sustained the loud and specious reproach of disloyalty, of ingratitude, and of insatiate avarice, which could be only excused by the hard necessity of his situation. He reigned, not as the monarch, but as the minister of a ferocious people, whose spirit was unbroken by slavery, and impatient of real or imaginary insults. Their poverty was incurable; since the most liberal donatives were soon dissipated in wasteful luxury, and the most fertile estates became barren in their hands; they despised, but they envied, the laborious provincials; and, when their subsistence had failed, the Ostrogoths embraced the familiar resources of war and rapine. It had been the wish of Theodoric (such at least was his declaration) to lead a peaceful, obscure, obedient life, on the confines of Scythia, till the Byzantine court, by splendid and fallacious promises, seduced him to attack a confederate tribe of Goths, who had been engaged in the party of Basiliscus. He marched from his station in Mæsia, on the solemn assurance that before he reached Hadrianople he should meet a plentiful convoy of provisions and a reinforcement of eight thousand horse and thirty thousand foot, while the legions of Asia were encamped at Heraclea to second his operations. These measures were disappointed by mutual jealousy. As he advanced into Thrace, the son of Theodemir found an inhospitable solitude, and his Gothic followers, with an heavy train of horses, of mules, and of waggons, were betrayed by their guides among the rocks and precipices of Mount Sondis,14 where he was assaulted by the arms and invectives of Theodoric the son of Triarius. From a neighbouring height, his artful rival harangued the camp of the Walamirs, and branded their leader with the opprobrious names of child, of madman, of perjured traitor, the enemy of his blood and nation. “Are you ignorant,” exclaimed the son of Triarius, “that it is the constant policy of the Romans to destroy the Goths by each other’s swords? Are you insensible that the victor in this unnatural contest will be exposed, and justly exposed, to their implacable revenge? Where are those warriors, my kinsmen and thy own, whose widows now lament that their lives were sacrificed to thy rash ambition? Where is the wealth which thy soldiers possessed when they were first allured from their native homes to enlist under thy standard? Each of them was then master of three or four horses; they now follow thee on foot like slaves, through the deserts of Thrace; those men who were tempted by the hope of measuring gold with a bushel, those brave men who are as free and as noble as thyself.” A language so well suited to the temper of the Goths excited clamour and discontent; and the son of Theodemir, apprehensive of being left alone, was compelled to embrace his brethren, and to imitate the example of Roman perfidy.15
In every state of his fortune, the prudence and firmness of Theodoric were equally conspicuous; whether he threatened Constantinople at the head of the confederate Goths, or retreated with a faithful band to the mountains and sea-coast of Epirus. At length the accidental death of the son of Triarius16 destroyed the balance which the Romans had been so anxious to preserve, the whole nation acknowledged the supremacy of the Amali, and the Byzantine court subscribed an ignominious and oppressive treaty.17 The senate had already declared that it was necessary to choose a party among the Goths, since the public was unequal to the support of their united forces; a subsidy of two thousand pounds of gold, with the ample pay of thirteen thousand men, were required for the least considerable of their armies;18 and the Isaurians, who guarded not the empire but the emperor, enjoyed, besides the privilege of rapine, an annual pension of five thousand pounds. The sagacious mind of Theodoric soon perceived that he was odious to the Romans, and suspected by the Barbarians; he understood the popular murmur that his subjects were exposed in their frozen huts to intolerable hardships, while their king was dissolved in the luxury of Greece; and he prevented the painful alternative of encountering the Goths, as the champion, or of leading them to the field as the enemy, of Zeno. Embracing an enterprise worthy of his courage and ambition, Theodoric addressed the emperor in the following words: “Although your servant is maintained in affluence by your liberality, graciously listen to the wishes of my heart! Italy, the inheritance of your predecessors, and Rome itself, the head and mistress of the world, now fluctuate under the violence and oppression of Odoacer the mercenary. Direct me, with my national troops, to march against the tyrant. If I fall, you will be relieved from an expensive and troublesome friend; if, with the Divine permission, I succeed, I shall govern in your name, and to your glory, the Roman senate, and the part of the republic delivered from slavery by my victorious arms.” The proposal of Theodoric was accepted, and perhaps had been suggested, by the Byzantine court. But the forms of the commission or grant appear to have been expressed with a prudent ambiguity, which might be explained by the event; and it was left doubtful, whether the conqueror of Italy should reign as the lieutenant, the vassal, or the ally of the emperor of the East.19
The reputation both of the leader and of the war diffused an universal ardour; the Walamirs were multiplied by the Gothic swarms already engaged in the service, or seated in the provinces, of the empire; and each bold Barbarian, who had heard of the wealth and beauty of Italy, was impatient to seek, through the most perilous adventures, the possession of such enchanting objects. The march of Theodoric must be considered as the emigration of an entire people;20 the wives and children of the Goths, their aged parents, and most precious effects were carefully transported; and some idea may be formed of the heavy baggage that now followed the camp, by the loss of two thousand waggons, which had been sustained in a single action in the war of Epirus. For their subsistence, the Goths depended on the magazines of corn which was ground in portable mills by the hands of their women; on the milk and flesh of their flocks and herds; on the casual produce of the chase, and upon the contributions which they might impose on all who should presume to dispute the passage or to refuse their friendly assistance. Notwithstanding these precautions, they were exposed to the danger, and almost to the distress, of famine, in a march of seven hundred miles, which had been undertaken in the depth of a rigorous winter. Since the fall of the Roman power, Dacia and Pannonia no longer exhibited the rich prospect of populous cities, well-cultivated fields, and convenient highways: the reign of barbarism and desolation was restored, and the tribes of Bulgarians, Gepidæ, and Sarmatians, who had occupied the vacant province, were prompted by their native fierceness, or the solicitations of Odoacer, to resist the progress of his enemy. In many obscure though bloody battles, Theodoric fought and vanquished; till at length, surmounting every obstacle by skilful conduct and persevering courage, he descended from the Julian Alps, and displayed his invincible banners on the confines of Italy.21
Odoacer, a rival not unworthy of his arms, had already occupied the advantageous and well-known post of the river Sontius near the ruins of Aquileia; at the head of a powerful host, whose independent kings22 or leaders disdained the duties of subordination and the prudence of delays. No sooner had Theodoric granted a short repose and refreshment to his wearied cavalry, than he boldly attacked the fortifications of the enemy; the Ostrogoths shewed more ardour to acquire, than the mercenaries to defend, the lands of Italy; and the reward of the first victory was the possession of the Venetian province as far as the walls of Verona. In the neighbourhood of that city, on the steep banks of the rapid Adige, he was opposed by a new army, reinforced in its numbers and not impaired in its courage: the contest was more obstinate, but the event was still more decisive; Odoacer fled to Ravenna, Theodoric advanced to Milan, and the vanquished troops saluted their conqueror with loud acclamations of respect and fidelity. But their want either of constancy or of faith soon exposed him to the most imminent danger; his vanguard, with several Gothic counts, which had been rashly entrusted to a deserter, was betrayed and destroyed near Faenza by his double treachery; Odoacer again appeared master of the field, and the invader, strongly intrenched in his camp of Pavia, was reduced to solicit the aid of a kindred nation, the Visigoths of Gaul.23 In the course of this history, the most voracious appetite for war will be abundantly satiated; nor can I much lament that our dark and imperfect materials do not afford a more ample narrative of the distress of Italy and of the fierce conflict which was finally decided by the abilities, experience, and valour of the Gothic king. Immediately before the battle of Verona, he visited the tent of his mother24 and sister, and requested that on a day, the most illustrious festival of his life, they would adorn him with the rich garments which they had worked with their own hands. “Our glory,” said he, “is mutual and inseparable. You are known to the world as the mother of Theodoric; and it becomes me to prove that I am the genuine offspring of those heroes from whom I claim my descent.” The wife or concubine of Theodemir was inspired with the spirit of the German matrons who esteemed their sons’ honour far above their safety; and it is reported that in a desperate action, when Theodoric himself was hurried along by the torrent of a flying crowd, she boldly met them at the entrance of the camp, and, by her generous reproaches, drove them back on the swords of the enemy.25
From the Alps to the extremity of Calabria, Theodoric reigned by the right of conquest;26 the vandal ambassadors surrendered the land of Sicily, as a lawful appendage of his kingdom; and he was accepted as the deliverer of Rome by the senate and people, who had shut their gates against the flying usurper.27 Ravenna alone, secure in the fortifications of art and nature, still sustained a siege of almost three years; and the daring sallies of Odoacer carried slaughter and dismay into the Gothic camp. At length, destitute of provisions and hopeless of relief, that unfortunate monarch yielded to the groans of his subjects and the clamours of his soldiers. A treaty of peace was negotiated by the bishop of Ravenna; the Ostrogoths were admitted into the city; and the hostile kings consented, under the sanction of an oath, to rule with equal and undivided authority the provinces of Italy.28 The event of such an agreement may be easily foreseen. After some days had been devoted to the semblance of joy and friendship, Odoacer, in the midst of a solemn banquet, was stabbed by the hand, or at least by the command, of his rival.29 Secret and effectual orders had been previously despatched; the faithless and rapacious mercenaries, at the same moment and without resistance, were universally massacred; and the royalty of Theodoric was proclaimed by the Goths, with the tardy, reluctant, ambiguous consent of the emperor of the East. The design of a conspiracy was imputed, according to the usual forms, to the prostrate tyrant; but his innocence and the guilt of his conqueror30 are sufficiently proved by the advantageous treaty which force would not sincerely have granted nor weakness have rashly infringed. The jealousy of power and the mischiefs of discord may suggest a more decent apology, and a sentence less rigorous may be pronounced against a crime which was necessary to introduce into Italy a regeneration of public felicity. The living author of this felicity was audaciously praised in his own presence by sacred and profane orators;31 but history (in his time she was mute and inglorious) has not left any just representation of the events which displayed, or of the defects which clouded, the virtues of Theodoric.32 One record of his fame, the volume of public epistles composed by Cassiodorius in the royal name, is still extant, and has obtained more implicit credit than it seems to deserve.33 They exhibit the forms, rather than the substance, of his government; and we should vainly search for the pure and spontaneous sentiments of the Barbarian amidst the declamation and learning of a sophist, the wishes of a Roman senator, the precedents of office, and the vague professions which, in every court and on every occasion, compose the language of discreet ministers. The reputation of Theodoric may repose with more confidence on the visible peace and prosperity of a reign of thirty-three years, the unanimous esteem of his own times, and the memory of his wisdom and courage, his justice and humanity, which was deeply impressed on the minds of the Goths and Italians.
The partition of the lands of Italy, of which Theodoric assigned the third part to his soldiers, is honourably arraigned as the sole injustice of his life. And even this act may be fairly justified by the example of Odoacer, the rights of conquest, the true interest of the Italians, and the sacred duty of subsisting a whole people, who, on the faith of his promises, had transported themselves into a distant land.34 Under the reign of Theodoric, and in the happy climate of Italy, the Goths soon multiplied to a formidable host of two hundred thousand men,35 and the whole amount of their families may be computed by the ordinary addition of women and children. Their invasion of property, a part of which must have been already vacant, was disguised by the generous but improper name of hospitality; these unwelcome guests were irregularly dispersed over the face of Italy, and the lot of each Barbarian was adequate to his birth and office, the number of his followers, and the rustic wealth which he possessed in slaves and cattle. The distinctions of noble and plebeian were acknowledged;36 but the lands of every freeman were exempt from taxes, and he enjoyed the inestimable privilege of being subject only to the laws of his country.37 Fashion, and even convenience, soon persuaded the conquerors to assume the more elegant dress of the natives, but they still persisted in the use of their mother-tongue; and their contempt for the Latin schools was applauded by Theodoric himself, who gratified their prejudices, or his own, by declaring that the child who had trembled at a rod would never dare to look upon a sword.38 Distress might sometimes provoke the indigent Roman to assume the ferocious manners which were insensibly relinquished by the rich and luxurious Barbarian;39 but these mutual conversions were not encouraged by the policy of a monarch who perpetuated the separation of the Italians and Goths; reserving the former for the arts of peace and the latter for the service of war. To accomplish this design, he studied to protect his industrious subjects, and to moderate the violence without enervating the valour of his soldiers, who were maintained for the public defence. They held their lands and benefices as a military stipend; at the sound of the trumpet they were prepared to march under the conduct of their provincial officers; and the whole extent of Italy was distributed into the several quarters of a well-regulated camp. The service of the palace and of the frontiers was performed by choice or by rotation; and each extraordinary fatigue was recompensed by an increase of pay and occasional donatives. Theodoric had convinced his brave companions that empire must be acquired and defended by the same arts. After his example, they strove to excel in the use, not only of the lance and sword, the instruments of their victories, but of the missile weapons, which they were too much inclined to neglect; and the lively image of war was displayed in the daily exercise and annual reviews of the Gothic cavalry. A firm though gentle discipline imposed the habits of modesty, obedience, and temperance; and the Goths were instructed to spare the people, to reverence the laws, to understand the duties of civil society, and to disclaim the barbarous licence of judicial combat and private revenge.40
Among the Barbarians of the West, the victory of Theodoric had spread a general alarm. But, as soon as it appeared that he was satisfied with conquest and desirous of peace, terror was changed into respect, and they submitted to a powerful mediation, which was uniformly employed for the best purposes of reconciling their quarrels and civilising their manners.41 The ambassadors who resorted to Ravenna from the most distant countries of Europe, admired his wisdom, magnificence,42 and courtesy; and, if he sometimes accepted either slaves or arms, white horses or strange animals, the gift of a sundial, a water-clock, or a musician, admonished even the princes of Gaul, of the superior art and industry of his Italian subjects. His domestic alliances,43 a wife, two daughters, a sister, and a niece, united the family of Theodoric with the kings of the Franks, the Burgundians, the Visigoths, the Vandals, and the Thuringians; and contributed to maintain the harmony, or at least the balance, of the great republic of the West.44 It is difficult in the dark forests of Germany and Poland to pursue the emigrations of the Heruli, a fierce people who disdained the use of armour, and who condemned their widows and aged parents not to survive the loss of their husbands or the decay of their strength.45 The king of these savage warriors solicited the friendship of Theodoric, and was elevated to the rank of his son, according to the barbaric rites of a military adoption.46 From the shores of the Baltic, the Æstians or Livonians laid their offerings of native amber47 at the feet of a prince whose fame had excited them to undertake an unknown and dangerous journey of fifteen hundred miles. With the country48 from whence the Gothic nation derived their origin he maintained a frequent and friendly correspondence; the Italians were clothed in the rich sables49 of Sweden; and one of its sovereigns, after a voluntary or reluctant abdication, found an hospitable retreat in the palace of Ravenna. He had reigned over one of the thirteen populous tribes who cultivated a small portion of the great island or peninsula of Scandinavia, to which the vague appellation of Thule has been sometimes applied. That Northern region was peopled, or had been explored, as high as the sixty-eighth degree of latitude, where the natives of the polar circle enjoy and lose the presence of the sun at each summer and winter solstice during an equal period of forty days.50 The long night of his absence or death was the mournful season of distress and anxiety, till the messengers who had been sent to the mountain tops descried the first rays of returning light and proclaimed to the plain below the festival of his resurrection.51
The life of Theodoric represents the rare and meritorious example of a Barbarian, who sheathed his sword in the pride of victory and the vigour of his age. A reign of three and thirty years was consecrated to the duties of civil government, and the hostilities in which he was sometimes involved were speedily terminated by the conduct of his lieutenants, the discipline of his troops, the arms of his allies, and even by the terror of his name. He reduced, under a strong and regular government, the unprofitable countries of Rhætia, Noricum, Dalmatia, and Pannonia, from the source of the Danube and the territory of the Bavarians,52 to the petty kingdom erected by the Gepidæ on the ruins of Sirmium. His prudence could not safely entrust the bulwark of Italy to such feeble and turbulent neighbours; and his justice might claim the lands which they oppressed, either as a part of his kingdom or as the inheritance of his father. The greatness of a servant, who was named perfidious because he was successful, awakened the jealousy of the emperor Anastasius; and a war was kindled on the Dacian frontier, by the protection which the Gothic king, in the vicissitude of human affairs, had granted to one of the descendants of Attila. Sabinian, a general illustrious by his own and father’s merit, advanced at the head of ten thousand Romans; and the provisions and arms, which filled a long train of waggons, were distributed to the fiercest of the Bulgarian tribes. But, in the fields of Margus, the Eastern powers were defeated by the inferior forces of the Goths and Huns;53 the flower, and even the hope, of the Roman armies was irretrievably destroyed; and such was the temperance with which Theodoric had inspired his victorious troops, that, as their leader had not given the signal of pillage, the rich spoils of the enemy lay untouched at their feet.54 Exasperated by this disgrace, the Byzantine court despatched two hundred ships and eight thousand men to plunder the sea-coast of Calabria and Apulia; they assaulted the ancient city of Tarentum, interrupted the trade and agriculture of an happy country, and sailed back to the Hellespont, proud of their piratical victory over a people whom they still presumed to consider as their Roman brethren.55 Their retreat was possibly hastened by the activity of Theodoric; Italy was covered by a fleet of a thousand light vessels,56 which he constructed with incredible despatch; and his firm moderation was soon rewarded by a solid and honourable peace. He maintained with a powerful hand the balance of the West, till it was at length overthrown by the ambition of Clovis; and, although unable to assist his rash and unfortunate kinsman the king of the Visigoths, he saved the remains of his family and people, and checked the Franks in the midst of their victorious career. I am not desirous to prolong or repeat57 this narrative of military events, the least interesting of the reign of Theodoric; and shall be content to add that the Alemanni were protected,58 that an inroad of the Burgundians was severely chastised, and that the conquest of Arles and Marseilles opened a free communication with the Visigoths, who revered him both as their national protector and as the guardian of his grandchild, the infant son of Alaric. Under this respectable character, the king of Italy restored the Prætorian prefecture of the Gauls, reformed some abuses in the civil government of Spain, and accepted the annual tribute and apparent submission of its military governor, who wisely refused to trust his person in the palace of Ravenna.59 The Gothic sovereignty was established from Sicily to the Danube, from Sirmium or Belgrade60 to the Atlantic Ocean; and the Greeks themselves have acknowledged that Theodoric reigned over the fairest portion of the Western empire.61
The union of the Goths and Romans might have fixed for ages the transient happiness of Italy; and the first of nations, a new people of free subjects and enlightened soldiers, might have gradually arisen from the mutual emulation of their respective virtues. But the sublime merit of guiding or seconding such a revolution was not reserved for the reign of Theodoric; he wanted either the genius or the opportunities of a legislator;62 and, while he indulged the Goths in the enjoyment of rude liberty, he servilely copied the institutions, and even the abuses, of the political system which had been framed by Constantine and his successors. From a tender regard to the expiring prejudices of Rome, the Barbarian declined the name, the purple, and the diadem of the emperors;63 but he assumed, under the hereditary title of king, the whole substance and plenitude of Imperial prerogative.64 His addresses to the Eastern throne were respectful and ambiguous; he celebrated in pompous style the harmony of the two republics, applauded his own government as the perfect similitude of a sole and undivided empire, and claimed above the kings of the earth the same pre-eminence which he modestly allowed to the person or rank of Anastasius. The alliance of the East and West was annually declared by the unanimous choice of two consuls; but it should seem that the Italian candidate who was named by Theodoric accepted a formal confirmation from the sovereign of Constantinople.65 The Gothic palace of Ravenna reflected the image of the court of Theodosius or Valentinian. The Prætorian prefect, the prefect of Rome, the quæstor, the master of the offices, with the public and patrimonial treasures, whose functions are painted in gaudy colours by the rhetoric of Cassiodorius, still continued to act as the ministers of state. And the subordinate care of justice and the revenue was delegated to seven consulars, three correctors, and five presidents, who governed the fifteen regions of Italy, according to the principles and even the forms of Roman jurisprudence.66 The violence of the conquerors was abated or eluded by the slow artifice of judicial proceedings; the civil administration with its honours and emoluments was confined to the Italians; and the people still preserved their dress and language, their laws and customs, their personal freedom, and two-thirds of their landed property. It had been the object of Augustus to conceal the introduction of monarchy; it was the policy of Theodoric to disguise the reign of a Barbarian.67 If his subjects were sometimes awakened from this pleasing vision of a Roman government, they derived more substantial comfort from the character of a Gothic prince who had penetration to discern, and firmness to pursue, his own and the public interest. Theodoric loved the virtues which he possessed, and the talents of which he was destitute. Liberius was promoted to the office of Prætorian prefect for his unshaken fidelity to the unfortunate cause of Odoacer. The ministers of Theodoric, Cassiodorius68 and Boethius, have reflected on his reign the lustre of their genius and learning. More prudent or more fortunate than his colleague, Cassiodorius preserved his own esteem without forfeiting the royal favour; and, after passing thirty years in the honours of the world, he was blessed with an equal term of repose in the devout and studious solitude of Squillace.
As the patron of the republic, it was the interest and duty of the Gothic king to cultivate the affections of the senate69 and people. The nobles of Rome were flattered by sonorous epithets and formal professions of respect, which had been more justly applied to the merit and authority of their ancestors. The people enjoyed, without fear or danger, the three blessings of a capital, order, plenty, and public amusements. A visible diminution of their numbers may be found even in the measure of liberality;70 yet Apulia, Calabria, and Sicily poured their tribute of corn into the granaries of Rome; an allowance of bread and meat was distributed to the indigent citizens; and every office was deemed honourable which was consecrated to the care of their health and happiness. The public games, such as a Greek ambassador might politely applaud, exhibited a faint and feeble copy of the magnificence of the Cæsars, yet the musical, the gymnastic, and the pantomime arts had not totally sunk in oblivion; the wild beasts of Africa still exercised in the amphitheatre the courage and dexterity of the hunters; and the indulgent Goth either patiently tolerated or gently restrained the blue and green factions, whose contests so often filled the circus with clamour, and even with blood.71 In the seventh year of his peaceful reign, Theodoric visited the old capital of the world; the senate and people advanced in solemn procession to salute a second Trajan, a new Valentinian; and he nobly supported that character by the assurance of a just and legal government,72 in a discourse which he was not afraid to pronounce in public and to inscribe on a tablet of brass. Rome, in this august ceremony, shot a last ray of declining glory; and a saint, the spectator of this pompous scene, could only hope, in his pious fancy, that it was excelled by the celestial splendour of the New Jerusalem.73 During a residence of six months, the fame, the person, and the courteous demeanour of the Gothic king excited the admiration of the Romans, and he contemplated, with equal curiosity and surprise, the monuments that remained of their ancient greatness. He imprinted the footsteps of a conqueror on the Capitoline hill, and frankly confessed that each day he viewed with fresh wonder the forum of Trajan and his lofty column. The theatre of Pompey appeared, even in its decay, as a huge mountain artificially hollowed and polished, and adorned by human industry; and he vaguely computed, that a river of gold must have been drained to erect the colossal amphitheatre of Titus.74 From the mouths of fourteen aqueducts, a pure and copious stream was diffused into every part of the city; among these the Claudian water, which arose at the distance of thirty-eight miles in the Sabine mountains, was conveyed along a gentle though constant declivity of solid arches, till it descended on the summit of the Aventine hill. The long and spacious vaults which had been constructed for the purpose of common sewers, subsisted, after twelve centuries, in their pristine strength; and the subterraneous channels have been preferred to all the visible wonders of Rome.75 The Gothic kings, so injuriously accused of the ruin of antiquity, were anxious to preserve the monuments of the nation whom they had subdued.76 The royal edicts were framed to prevent the abuses, the neglect, or the depredations of the citizens themselves; and a professed architect, the annual sum of two hundred pounds of gold, twenty-five thousand tiles, and the receipt of customs from the Lucrine port were assigned for the ordinary repairs of the walls and public edifices. A similar care was extended to the statues of metal or marble of men or animals. The spirit of the horses, which have given a modern name to the Quirinal, was applauded by the Barbarians;77 the brazen elephants of the Via sacra were diligently restored;78 the famous heifer of Myron deceived the cattle, as they were driven through the forum of Peace;79 and an officer was created to protect those works of art, which Theodoric considered as the noblest ornament of his kingdom.
After the example of the last emperors, Theodoric preferred the residence of Ravenna, where he cultivated an orchard with his own hands.80 As often as the peace of his kingdom was threatened (for it was never invaded) by the Barbarians, he removed his court to Verona81 on the northern frontier, and the image of his palace, still extant, on a coin, represents the oldest and most authentic model of Gothic architecture. These two capitals, as well as Pavia, Spoleto, Naples, and the rest of the Italian cities, acquired under his reign the useful or splendid decorations of churches, aqueducts, baths, porticoes, and palaces.82 But the happiness of the subject was more truly conspicuous in the busy scene of labour and luxury, in the rapid increase and bold enjoyment of national wealth. From the shades of Tibur and Præneste, the Roman senators still retired in the winter season to the warm sun and salubrious springs of Baiæ; and their villas, which advanced on solid moles into the bay of Naples, commanded the various prospect of the sky, the earth, and the water. On the eastern side of the Hadriatic, a new campania was formed in the fair and fruitful province of Istria, which communicated with the palace of Ravenna by an easy navigation of one hundred miles. The rich productions of Lucania and the adjacent provinces were exchanged at the Marcilian fountain, in a populous fair annually dedicated to trade, intemperance, and superstition. In the solitude of Comum, which had once been animated by the mild genius of Pliny, a transparent bason above sixty miles in length still reflected the rural seats which encompassed the margin of the Larian lake; and the gradual ascent of the hills was covered by a triple plantation of olives, of vines, and of chestnut trees.83 Agriculture revived under the shadow of peace, and the number of husbandmen was multiplied by the redemption of captives.84 The iron mines of Dalmatia, a gold mine in Bruttium, were carefully explored, and the Pomptine marshes, as well as those of Spoleto, were drained and cultivated by private undertakers, whose distant reward must depend on the continuance of the public prosperity.85 Whenever the seasons were less propitious, the doubtful precautions of forming magazines of corn, fixing the price, and prohibiting the exportation attested at least the benevolence of the state; but such was the extraordinary plenty which an industrious people produced from a grateful soil that a gallon of wine was sometimes sold in Italy for less than three farthings, and a quarter of wheat at about five shillings and sixpence.86 A country possessed of so many valuable objects of exchange soon attracted the merchants of the world, whose beneficial traffic was encouraged and protected by the liberal spirit of Theodoric. The free intercourse of the provinces by land and water was restored and extended; the city gates were never shut either by day or by night; and the common saying, that a purse of gold might be safely left in the fields, was expressive of the conscious security of the inhabitants.87
A difference of religion is always pernicious and often fatal to the harmony of the prince and people; the Gothic conqueror had been educated in the profession of Arianism, and Italy was devoutly attached to the Nicene faith. But the persuasion of Theodoric was not infected by zeal, and he piously adhered to the heresy of his fathers, without condescending to balance the subtile arguments of theological metaphysics. Satisfied with the private toleration of his Arian sectaries, he justly conceived himself to be the guardian of the public worship, and his external reverence for a superstition which he despised may have nourished in his mind the salutary indifference of a statesman or philosopher. The Catholics of his dominions acknowledged, perhaps with reluctance, the peace of the church; their clergy, according to the degrees of rank or merit, were honourably entertained in the palace of Theodoric; he esteemed the living sanctity of Cæsarius88 and Epiphanius,89 the orthodox bishops of Arles and Pavia; and presented a decent offering on the tomb of St. Peter, without any scrupulous inquiry into the creed of the apostle.90 His favourite Goths, and even his mother, were permitted to retain or embrace the Athanasian faith, and his long reign could not afford the example of an Italian Catholic who either from choice or compulsion had deviated into the religion of the conqueror.91 The people, and the Barbarians themselves, were edified by the pomp and order of religious worship; the magistrates were instructed to defend the just immunities of ecclesiastical persons and possessions; the bishops held their synods, the metropolitans exercised their jurisdiction, and the privileges of sanctuary were maintained or moderated according to the spirit of the Roman jurisprudence. With the protection, Theodoric assumed the legal supremacy of the church; and his firm administration restored or extended some useful prerogatives which had been neglected by the feeble emperors of the West. He was not ignorant of the dignity and importance of the Roman pontiff, to whom the venerable name of Pope was now appropriated. The peace or the revolt of Italy might depend on the character of a wealthy and popular bishop, who claimed such ample dominion both in heaven and earth; who had been declared in a numerous synod to be pure from all sin, and exempt from all judgment.92 When at his summons the chair of St. Peter was disputed by Symmachus and Lawrence, they appeared before the tribunal of an Arian monarch, and he confirmed the election of the most worthy or the most obsequious candidate.92a At the end of his life, in a moment of jealousy and resentment, he prevented the choice of the Romans, by nominating a pope in the palace of Ravenna. The danger and furious contests of a schism were mildly restrained, and the last decree of the senate was enacted to extinguish, if it were possible, the scandalous venality of the papal elections.93
I have descanted with pleasure on the fortunate condition of Italy; but our fancy must not hastily conceive that the golden age of the poets, a race of men without vice or misery, was realised under the Gothic conquest. The fair prospect was sometimes overcast with clouds; the wisdom of Theodoric might be deceived, his power might be resisted, and the declining age of the monarch was sullied with popular hatred and patrician blood. In the first insolence of victory, he had been tempted to deprive the whole party of Odoacer of the civil and even the natural rights of society;94 a tax unseasonably imposed after the calamities of war would have crushed the rising agriculture of Liguria; a rigid pre-emption of corn, which was intended for the public relief, must have aggravated the distress of Campania. These dangerous projects were defeated by the virtue and eloquence of Epiphanius and Boethius, who, in the presence of Theodoric himself, successfully pleaded the cause of the people;95 but, if the royal ear was open to the voice of truth, a saint and a philosopher are not always to be found at the ear of kings. The privileges of rank, or office, or favour were too frequently abused by Italian fraud and Gothic violence, and the avarice of the king’s nephew was publicly exposed, at first by the usurpation, and afterwards by the restitution, of the estates which he had unjustly extorted from his Tuscan neighbours. Two hundred thousand Barbarians, formidable even to their master, were seated in the heart of Italy; they indignantly supported the restraints of peace and discipline; the disorders of their march were always felt and sometimes compensated; and, where it was dangerous to punish, it might be prudent to dissemble, the sallies of their native fierceness. When the indulgence of Theodoric had remitted two thirds of the Ligurian tribute, he condescended to explain the difficulties of his situation, and to lament the heavy though inevitable burdens which he imposed on his subjects for their own defence.96 These ungrateful subjects could never be cordially reconciled to the origin, the religion, of even the virtues of the Gothic conqueror; past calamities were forgotten, and the sense or suspicion of injuries was rendered still more exquisite by the present felicity of the times.
Even the religious toleration which Theodoric had the glory of introducing into the Christian world was painful and offensive to the orthodox zeal of the Italians. They respected the armed heresy of the Goths; but their pious rage was safely pointed against the rich and defenceless Jews, who had formed their establishments at Naples, Rome, Ravenna, Milan, and Genoa, for the benefit of trade, and under the sanction of the laws.97 Their persons were insulted, their effects were pillaged, and their synagogues were burnt by the mad populace of Ravenna and Rome, inflamed, as it should seem, by the most frivolous or extravagant pretences. The government which could neglect, would have deserved, such an outrage. A legal inquiry was instantly directed; and, as the authors of the tumult had escaped in the crowd, the whole community was condemned to repair the damage; and the obstinate bigots who refused their contributions were whipped through the streets by the hand of the executioner. This simple act of justice exasperated the discontent of the Catholics, who applauded the merit and patience of these holy confessors; three hundred pulpits deplored the persecution of the church; and, if the chapel of St. Stephen at Verona was demolished by the command of Theodoric, it is probable that some miracle hostile to his name and dignity had been performed on that sacred theatre. At the close of a glorious life, the king of Italy discovered that he had excited the hatred of a people whose happiness he had so assiduously laboured to promote; and his mind was soured by indignation, jealousy, and the bitterness of unrequited love. The Gothic conqueror condescended to disarm the unwarlike natives of Italy, interdicting all weapons of offence, and excepting only a small knife for domestic use. The deliverer of Rome was accused of conspiring with the vilest informers against the lives of senators whom he suspected of a secret and treasonable correspondence with the Byzantine court.98 After the death of Anastasius, the diadem had been placed on the head of a feeble old man; but the powers of government were assumed by his nephew Justinian, who already meditated the extirpation of heresy, and the conquest of Italy and Africa. A rigorous law which was published at Constantinople, to reduce the Arians by the dread of punishment within the pale of the church, awakened the just resentment of Theodoric, who claimed for his distressed brethren of the East the same indulgence which he had so long granted to the Catholics of his dominions. At his stern command, the Roman pontiff, with four illustrious senators, embarked on an embassy, of which he must have alike dreaded the failure or the success. The singular veneration shewn to the first pope who had visited Constantinople was punished as a crime by his jealous monarch; the artful or peremptory refusal of the Byzantine court might excuse an equal, and would provoke a larger, measure of retaliation; and a mandate was prepared in Italy, to prohibit, after a stated day, the exercise of the Catholic worship. By the bigotry of his subjects and enemies, the most tolerant of princes was driven to the brink of persecution; and the life of Theodoric was too long, since he lived to condemn the virtue of Boethius and Symmachus.99
The senator Boethius100 is the last of the Romans whom Cato or Tully could have acknowledged for their countryman. As a wealthy orphan, he inherited the patrimony and honours of the Anician family, a name ambitiously assumed by the kings and emperors of the age; and the appellation of Manlius asserted his genuine or fabulous descent from a race of consuls and dictators, who had repulsed the Gauls from the Capitol and sacrificed their sons to the discipline of the republic. In the youth of Boethius, the studies of Rome were not totally abandoned; a Virgil101 is now extant, corrected by the hand of a consul; and the professors of grammar, rhetoric, and jurisprudence were maintained in their privileges and pensions by the liberality of the Goths. But the erudition of the Latin language was insufficient to satiate his ardent curiosity; and Boethius is said to have employed eighteen laborious years in the schools of Athens,102 which were supported by the zeal, the learning, and the diligence of Proclus and his disciples. The reason and piety of their Roman pupil were fortunately saved from the contagion of mystery and magic, which polluted the groves of the academy; but he imbibed the spirit, and imitated the method, of his dead and living masters, who attempted to reconcile the strong and subtle sense of Aristotle with the devout contemplation and sublime fancy of Plato. After his return to Rome and his marriage with the daughter of his friend, the patrician Symmachus, Boethius still continued, in a palace of ivory and marble,103 to prosecute the same studies.104 The church was edified by his profound defence of the orthodox creed against the Arian, the Eutychian, and the Nestorian heresies; and the Catholic unity was explained or exposed in a formal treatise by the indifference of three distinct though consubstantial persons.105 For the benefit of his Latin readers, his genius submitted to teach the first elements of the arts and sciences of Greece. The geometry of Euclid, the music of Pythagoras, the arithmetic of Nicomachus, the mechanics of Archimedes, the astronomy of Ptolemy, the theology of Plato, and the logic of Aristotle, with the commentary of Porphyry, were translated and illustrated by the indefatigable pen of the Roman senator. And he alone was esteemed capable of describing the wonders of art, a sundial, a water-clock, or a sphere which represented the motions of the planets. From these abstruse speculations, Boethius stooped, or, to speak more truly, he rose to the social duties of public and private life: the indigent were relieved by his liberality; and his eloquence, which flattery might compare to the voice of Demosthenes or Cicero, was uniformly exerted in the cause of innocence and humanity. Such conspicuous merit was felt and rewarded by a discerning prince; the dignity of Boethius was adorned with the titles of consul and patrician, and his talents were usefully employed in the important station of master of the offices. Notwithstanding the equal claims of the East and West, his two sons were created, in their tender youth, the consuls of the same year.106 On the memorable day of their inauguration, they proceeded in solemn pomp from their palace to the forum, amidst the applause of the senate and people; and their joyful father, the true consul of Rome, after pronouncing an oration in the praise of his royal benefactor, distributed a triumphal largess in the games of the circus. Prosperous in his fame and fortunes, in his public honours and private alliances, in the cultivation of science and the consciousness of virtue, Boethius might have been styled happy, if that precarious epithet could be safely applied before the last term of the life of man.
A philosopher, liberal of his wealth and parsimonious of his time, might be insensible to the common allurements of ambition, the thirst of gold and employment. And some credit may be due to the asseveration of Boethius, that he had reluctantly obeyed the divine Plato, who enjoins every virtuous citizen to rescue the state from the usurpation of vice and ignorance. For the integrity of his public conduct he appeals to the memory of his country. His authority had restrained the pride and oppression of the royal officers, and his eloquence had delivered Paulianus from the dogs of the palace. He had always pitied, and often relieved, the distress of the provincials, whose fortunes were exhausted by public and private rapine; and Boethius alone had courage to oppose the tyranny of the Barbarians, elated by conquest, excited by avarice, and, as he complains, encouraged by impunity. In these honourable contests, his spirit soared above the consideration of danger, and perhaps of prudence; and we may learn from the example of Cato that a character of pure and inflexible virtue is the most apt to be misled by prejudice, to be heated by enthusiasm, and to confound private enmities with public justice. The disciple of Plato might exaggerate the infirmities of nature and the imperfections of society; and the mildest form of a Gothic kingdom, even the weight of allegiance and gratitude, must be insupportable to the free spirit of a Roman patriot. But the favour and fidelity of Boethius declined in just proportion with the public happiness; and an unworthy colleague was imposed, to divide and control the power of the master of the offices. In the last gloomy season of Theodoric, he indignantly felt that he was a slave; but, as his master had only power over his life, he stood without arms and without fear against the face of an angry Barbarian, who had been provoked to believe that the safety of the senate was incompatible with his own. The senator Albinus was accused and already convicted on the presumption of hoping, as it was said, the liberty of Rome. “If Albinus be criminal,” exclaimed the orator, “the senate and myself are all guilty of the same crime. If we are innocent, Albinus is equally entitled to the protection of the laws.” These laws might not have punished the simple and barren wish of an unattainable blessing; but they would have shewn less indulgence to the rash confession of Boethius that, had he known of a conspiracy, the tyrant never should.107 The advocate of Albinus was soon involved in the danger and perhaps the guilt of his client; their signature (which they denied as a forgery) was affixed to the original address, inviting the emperor to deliver Italy from the Goths; and three witnesses of honourable rank, perhaps of infamous reputation, attested the treasonable designs of the Roman patrician.108 Yet his innocence must be presumed, since he was deprived by Theodoric of the means of justification, and rigorously confined in the tower of Pavia, while the senate, at the distance of five hundred miles, pronounced a sentence of confiscation and death against the most illustrious of its members. At the command of the Barbarians, the occult science of a philosopher was stigmatised with the names of sacrilege and magic.109 A devout and dutiful attachment to the senate was condemned as criminal by the trembling voices of the senators themselves; and their ingratitude deserved the wish or prediction of Boethius, that, after him, none should be found guilty of the same offence.110
While Boethius, oppressed with fetters, expected each moment the sentence or the stroke of death, he composed in the tower of Pavia the Consolation of Philosophy; a golden volume not unworthy of the leisure of Plato or Tully, but which claims incomparable merit from the barbarism of the times and the situation of the author. The celestial guide, whom he had so long invoked at Rome and Athens, now condescended to illumine his dungeon, to revive his courage, and to pour into his wounds her salutary balm. She taught him to compare his long prosperity and his recent distress, and to conceive new hopes from the inconstancy of fortune. Reason had informed him of the precarious condition of her gifts; experience had satisfied him of their real value; he had enjoyed them without guilt; he might resign them without a sigh, and calmly disdain the impotent malice of his enemies, who had left him happiness, since they had left him virtue. From the earth, Boethius ascended to heaven in search of the supreme good; explored the metaphysical labyrinth of chance and destiny, of prescience and free-will, of time and eternity; and generously attempted to reconcile the perfect attributes of the Deity with the apparent disorders of his moral and physical government. Such topics of consolation, so obvious, so vague, or so abstruse, are ineffectual to subdue the feelings of human nature. Yet the sense of misfortune may be diverted by the labour of thought; and the sage who could artfully combine in the same work the various riches of philosophy, poetry, and eloquence, must already have possessed the intrepid calmness which he affected to seek. Suspense, the worst of evils, was at length determined by the ministers of death, who executed, and perhaps exceeded, the inhuman mandate of Theodoric. A strong cord was fastened round the head of Boethius and forcibly tightened, till his eyes almost started from their sockets; and some mercy may be discovered in the milder torture of beating him with clubs till he expired.111 But his genius survived to diffuse a ray of knowledge over the darkest ages of the Latin world; the writings of the philosopher were translated by the most glorious of the English kings;112 and the third emperor of the name of Otho removed to a more honourable tomb the bones of a Catholic saint, who, from his Arian persecutors, had acquired the honours of martyrdom and the fame of miracles.113 In the last hours of Boethius, he derived some comfort from the safety of his two sons, of his wife, and of his father-in-law, the venerable Symmachus. But the grief of Symmachus was indiscreet, and perhaps disrespectful: he had presumed to lament, he might dare to revenge, the death of an injured friend. He was dragged in chains from Rome to the palace of Ravenna; and the suspicions of Theodoric could only be appeased by the blood of an innocent and aged senator.114
Humanity will be disposed to encourage any report which testifies the jurisdiction of conscience and the remorse of kings; and philosophy is not ignorant that the most horrid spectres are sometimes created by the powers of a disordered fancy and the weakness of a distempered body. After a life of virtue and glory, Theodoric was now descending with shame and guilt into the grave: his mind was humbled by the contrast of the past, and justly alarmed by the invisible terrors of futurity. One evening, as it is related, when the head of a large fish was served on the royal table,115 he suddenly exclaimed that he beheld the angry countenance of Symmachus, his eyes glaring fury and revenge, and his mouth armed with long sharp teeth which threatened to devour him. The monarch instantly retired to his chamber, and, as he lay trembling with aguish cold, under a weight of bedclothes, he expressed in broken murmurs to his physician Elpidius his deep repentance for the murders of Boethius and Symmachus.116 His malady increased, and, after a dysentery which continued three days, he expired in the palace of Ravenna, in the thirty-third, or, if we compute from the invasion of Italy, in the thirty-seventh year of his reign. Conscious of his approaching end, he divided his treasures and provinces between his two grandsons, and fixed the Rhone as their common boundary.117 Amalaric was restored to the throne of Spain. Italy, with all the conquests of the Ostrogoths, was bequeathed to Athalaric; whose age did not exceed ten years, but who was cherished as the last male offspring of the line of Amali, by the short-lived marriage of his mother Amalasuntha with a royal fugitive of the same blood.118 In the presence of the dying monarch, the Gothic chiefs and Italian magistrates mutually engaged their faith and loyalty to the young prince and to his guardian mother; and received, in the same awful moment, his last salutary advice, to maintain the laws, to love the senate and people of Rome, and to cultivate with decent reverence the friendship of the emperor.119 The monument of Theodoric was erected by his daughter Amalasuntha, in a conspicuous situation, which commanded the city of Ravenna, the harbour, and the adjacent coast. A chapel of a circular form, thirty feet in diameter, is crowned by a dome of one entire piece of granite: from the centre of the dome four columns arose, which supported, in a vase of porphyry, the remains of the Gothic king, surrounded by the brazen statues of the twelve apostles.120 His spirit, after some previous expiation, might have been permitted to mingle with the benefactors of mankind, if an Italian hermit had not been witness in a vision to the damnation of Theodoric,121 whose soul was plunged, by the ministers of divine vengeance, into the vulcano of Lipari, one of the flaming mouths of the infernal world.122
[1 ]Jornandes (de Rebus Geticis, c. 13, 14, p. 629, 630, edit. Grot.) has drawn the pedigree of Theodoric from Gapt, one of the Anses or Demi-gods who lived about the time of Domitian. Cassiodorius, the first who celebrates the royal race of the Amali (Variar. viii. 5, ix. 25, x. 2, xi. 1), reckons the grandson of Theodoric as the xviith in descent. Peringsciold (the Swedish commentator of Cochlœus, Vit. Theodoric. p. 271, &c. Stockholm, 1699) labours to connect this genealogy with the legends or traditions of his native country.
[2 ]More correctly, on the banks of the lake Pelso (Neusiedler-see), near Carnuntum, almost on the same spot where Marcus Antoninus composed his Meditations (Jornandes, c. 52, p. 659. Severin, Pannonia Illustrata, p. 22. Cellarius, Geograph. Antiq. tom. i. p. 350). [Date of Theodoric’s birth, c. 454 (not earlier); he was sent to Constantinople in 461.]
[3 ][This division of the kingdom, which we find so often among the Franks, meets us here first among the Goths. Walamir’s part seems to have been between the rivers Save and Drave, Widimir’s between the Save and the Plattensee, Theodemir’s between the Plattensee and the Danube. Cp. Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders, iii. p. 14.]
[4 ]The four first letters of his name (ΘΕΟΔ) were inscribed on a gold plate, and, when it was fixed on the paper, the king drew his pen through the intervals (Anonym. Valesian. ad calcem Amm. Marcellin. p. 722). This authentic fact, with the testimony of Procopius, or at least of the contemporary Goths (Gothic. l. i. c. 2, p. 311), far outweighs the vague praises of Ennodius (Sirmond, Opera, tom. i. p. 1596) and Theophanes (Chronograph. p. 112). [The same story is told of the Emperor Justin in the Secret History of Procopius. Mr. Hodgkin thinks it was transferred from Justin to Theodoric. It might be legitimate to make the reverse supposition, seeing that Procopius was ill disposed to Justin, the Anon. Val. impartial towards Theodoric.]
[5 ]Statura est quæ resignet proceritate [leg. prolixitate] regnantem (Ennodius, p. 1614 [§ 89; p. 214, ed. Vogel]). The bishop of Pavia (I mean the ecclesiastic who wished to be a bishop) then proceeds to celebrate the complexion, eyes, hands, &c. of his sovereign.
[6 ][Namely, certain cities in Macedonia Prima: — Pella, Cyrrhus, Europus, Methone, Pydna, Berœa, and (?) Dius. Cp. Mommsen’s Jordanes, p. 132.]
[7 ]The state of the Ostrogoths, and the first years of Theodoric, are found in Jornandes (c. 52-56, p. 689-696) and Malchus (Excerpt. Legat. p. 78-80), who erroneously style him the son of Walamir. [Mr. Hodgkin (p. 27) suggests that Theodoric’s triumphal entry into Rome in 500 , described by Anon. Vales. (67) as a triennial celebration, may have commemorated his reception of the title king in 471 in subordination to his father.]
[8 ]Theophanes (p. 111) inserts a copy of her sacred letters to the provinces: ἴστε ὄτι βασἱλειον ὴμέτερόν ὲστι . . . καὶ ὄτι προεχειρησάμεθα βασιλέα Τρασκαλλισαɩ̂ον, &c. Such female pretensions would have astonished the slaves of the first Cæsars. [This notice of Theophanes comes from Malalas; see the fragment in Hermes, vi. 371 (publ. by Mommsen).]
[9 ]Above, p. 126 sqq.
[10 ]Suidas, tom. i. p. 332, 333, edit. Kuster. [One of the chief causes of the fall of Basiliscus was his fatal policy of restoring the primacy in the Eastern Church to the see of Ephesus at the expense of Constantinople. This won for him the powerful opposition of the Patriarch Acacius. See Zacharias Myt., v. 3-5.]
[11 ]The contemporary histories of Malchus and Candidus are lost; but some extracts or fragments have been saved by Photius (lxxviii. lxxix. p. 100-102), Constantine Porphyrogenitus (Excerpt. Leg. p. 78-97), and in various articles of the Lexicon of Suidas. The Chronicle of Marcellinus (Imago Historiæ) are originals for the reigns of Zeno and Anastasius; and I must acknowledge, almost for the last time, my obligations to the large and accurate collections of Tillemont (Hist. des Emp. tom. vi. p. 472-652). [See further Appendix 2.]
[12 ]In ipsis congressionis tuæ foribus cessit invasor, cum profugo per te sceptra redderentur de salute dubitanti. Ennodius then proceeds (p. 1596, 1597, tom. i. Sirmond. [p. 204, ed: Vogel]) to transport his hero (on a flying dragon?) into Æthiopia, beyond the tropic of Caricer. The evidence of the Valesian Fragment (p. 717), Liberatus (Brev. Eutych. c. 25, p. 118), and Theophanes (p. 112) is more sober and rational. [The complicated triangular duel between the two Theodorics and the Emperor from 478 to 481 may be summarised thus: —
It will be seen that Gibbon (misled by false arrangement of the fragments of Malchus) has presented the interview of the two Theodorics (which took place in 478) and their alliance as subsequent to the events of 479. Theodoric son of Triarius was induced to desert his namesake by the bestowal of the post of magister militum in praesenti. The alliance of the Bulgarians — the first time this people appears in history — with Zeno is preserved in a fragment of John of Antioch (Müller, F.H.G. iv. p. 619), and a success gained by Theodoric over the Bulgarian king is recorded by Ennodius in his Panegyric on Theodoric (p. 211, ed. Vogel). — Recitach, the son of Theodoric son of Triarius, at first reconciled to Zeno, was afterwards slain by Theodoric the Amal at Zeno’s suggestion. See John of Antioch, ib. p. 620.]
[13 ]This cruel practice is specially imputed to the Triarian Goths, less barbarous, as it should seem, than the Walamirs; but the son of Theodemir is charged with the ruin of many Roman cities (Malchus, Excerpt. Leg. p. 95). [This is the right interpretation of the words of Malchus, χεɩ̂ράς τε άποτέμνων ἅμα τῷ Ἁρματίῳ. He does not mean “cutting off the hands of Harmatius,” but that in mutilating the peasants his conduct resembled that of Harmatius. Malch. p. 120, ed. Müller.]
[14 ][The site of this mountain is unknown.]
[15 ]Jornandes (c. 56, 57, p. 696) displays the services of Theodoric, confesses his rewards, but dissembles his revolt, of which such curious details have been preserved by Malchus (Excerpt. Legat. p. 78-97 [fr. 11, 15, 16, ed. Müller]). Marcellinus, a domestic of Justinian, under whose fourth consulship ( 534) he composed his Chronicle (Scaliger, Thesaurus Temporum, P. ii. p. 34-57), betrays his prejudice and passion: in Græciam debachantem . . . Zenonis munificentiâ pene pacatus . . . beneficiis nunquam satiatus, &c.
[16 ]As he was riding in his own camp, an unruly horse threw him against the point of a spear which hung before a tent, or was fixed on a waggon (Marcellin. in Chron., Evagrius, l. iii. c. 25).
[17 ]See Malchus (p. 91) and Evagrius (l. iii. c. 25).
[18 ]Malchus, p. 85. In a single action, which was decided by the skill and discipline of Sabinian, Theodoric could lose 5000 men. [In Epirus. 479.]
[19 ]Jornandes (c. 57, p. 696, 697) has abridged the great history of Cassiodorius. See, compare, and reconcile Procopius (Gothic. l. i. c. 1), the Valesian Fragment (p. 718 [§ 49]), Theophanes (p. 113), and Marcellinus (in Chron.). [Mr. Hodgkin translates and compares the Gothic version in Jordanes, and the Imperial version in Procopius and Anon. Val. He is inclined to ascribe this idea of invading Italy to Theodoric. It seems clear that Theodoric was to stand in the same relation to Zeno, in which Athaulf and Wallia stood to Honorius.]
[20 ][Various calculations of the numbers have been made. Mr. Hodgkin estimates the fighting strength of the army at about 40,000, the whole nation at 200,000, as minimum figures.]
[21 ]Theodoric’s march is supplied and illustrated by Ennodius (p. 1598-1602), when the bombast of the oration is translated into the language of common sense.
[22 ]Tot reges, &c. (Ennodius, p. 1602 [p. 207, ed. Vogel]). We must recollect how much the royal title was multiplied and degraded, and that the mercenaries of Italy were the fragments of many tribes and nations.
[23 ][They were a counterpoise to the Burgundians who came to the aid of Odovacar and invaded Liguria. See Historia Miscella.]
[24 ]See Ennodius, p. 1603, 1604 [p. 208, ed. Vog.]. Since the orator, in the king’s presence, could mention and praise his mother, we may conclude that the magnanimity of Theodoric was not hurt by the vulgar reproaches of concubine and bastard.
[25 ]This anecdote is related on the modern but respectable authority of Sigonius (Op. tom. i. p. 580. De Occident. Imp. l. xv.): his words are curious: “Would you return?” &c. She presented, and almost displayed, the original recess. [The anecdote is worthless; but whence did Sigonius derive it?]
[26 ][In the Panegyric of Ennodius, a passage (in c. x. p. 209, ed. Vogel) which escaped Gibbon’s notice darkly mentions a slaughter of the adherents of Odovacar in all parts of Italy, carried out (apparently in 490 ) by a prearranged scheme. His phrases suggest that the clergy were privy to it. Cp. Dahn, Kön. der Germanen, ii. 80.]
[27 ]Hist. Miscell. l. xv., a Roman history from Janus to the ninth century, an Epitome of Eutropius, Paulus Diaconus, and Theophanes, which Muratori has published from a MS. in the Ambrosian library (Script. Rerum Italicarum, tom. i. p. 100).
[28 ][This was an arrangement which obviously had no elements of permanence, and Tillemont rejected the statement of Procopius (i. 1), on whose single authority it depended until the discovery of a confirmatory fragment of John of Antioch (214a, Müller, F.H.G. v.).]
[29 ][An account of the death of Odovacar has been recovered in a fragment of John of Antioch (ib. fr. 214). Theodoric invited Odovacar (now 60 years old) to a feast in the Palace of the Consul at the south-east corner of Ravenna, on March 15. As Odovacar sat at table, two men knelt before him with a petition and clasped his hands. Then soldiers, who were hidden in recesses on either side of the hall, rushed out, but for some cause they could not bring themselves to strike the king. Theodoric himself stepped forward and raised his sword. “Where is God?” cried Odovacar. “This didst thou to my friends,” said Theodoric, and clave him from the collar bone to the loin. Surprised at his own stroke, he exclaimed, “The wretch can have had no bones in his body.”]
[30 ]Procopius (Gothic. l. i. c. 1) approves himself an impartial sceptic: ϕασὶ . . . δολερῷ τρόπῳ ἔκτεινε. Cassiodorius (in Chron.) and Ennodius (p. 1604 [p. 210, ed. Vogel]) are loyal and incredulous, and the testimony of the Valesian Fragment (p. 718 [§ 55]) may justify their belief. Marcellinus spits the venom of a Greek subject — perjuriis illectus interfectusque est (in Chron.).
[31 ]The sonorous and servile oration of Ennodius was pronounced at Milan or Ravenna in the years 507 or 508 (Sirmond, tom. i. p. 1615). Two or three years afterwards, the orator was rewarded with the bishopric of Pavia, which he held till his death in the year 521 (Dupin, Bibliot. Eccles., tom. v. p. 11-14. See Saxii Onomasticon, tom. ii. p. 12).
[32 ]Our best materials are occasional hints from Procopius and the Valesian Fragment, which was discovered by Sirmond, and is published at the end of Ammianus Marcellinus. The author’s name is unknown, and his style is barbarous; but in his various facts he exhibits the knowledge, without the passions, of a contemporary. [See Appendix 2.] The president Montesquieu had formed the plan of an history of Theodoric, which at a distance might appear a rich and interesting subject.
[33 ]The best edition of the Variarum Libri xii. is that of Joh. Garretius (Rotomagi, 1679, in Opp. Cassiodor. 2 vols. in fol.); but they deserved and required such an editor as the Marquis Scipio Maffei, who thought of publishing them at Verona. The Barbara Eleganza (as it is ingeniously named by Tiraboschi) is never simple and seldom perspicuous. [See further Appendix 2.]
[34 ]Procopius, Gothic. l. i. c. 1, Variarum, ii. . Maffei (Verona Illustrata, p. i. p. 228) exaggerates the injustice of the Goths, whom he hated as an Italian noble. The plebeian Muratori crouches under their oppression. [The process of distribution may have been in the main a transferring of the thirds of the men of Odovacar to the men of Theodoric.]
[35 ]Procopius, Goth. l. iii. c. 4, 21. Ennodius describes (p. 1612, 1613 [p. 213, ed. Vogel]) the military arts and increasing numbers of the Goths.
[36 ]When Theodoric gave his sister to the king of the Vandals, she sailed for Africa with a guard of 1000 noble Goths, each of whom was attended by five armed followers (Procop. Vandal. l. i. c. 8). The Gothic nobility must have been as numerous as brave.
[37 ]See the acknowledgment of Gothic liberty, Var. v. 30. [But compare i. 19 and iv. 14.]
[38 ]Procopius, Goth. l. i. c. 2. The Roman boys learned the language (Var. viii. 21) of the Goths. Their general ignorance is not destroyed by the exceptions of Amalasuntha, a female, who might study without shame, or of Theodatus, whose learning provoked the indignation and contempt of his countrymen.
[39 ]A saying of Theodoric was founded on experience: “Romanus miser imitatur Gothum; et utilis (dives [Valois suggested uilis, which is adopted by Gardthausen]) Gothus imitatur Romanum.” (See the Fragment and Notes of Valesius, p. 719 [§ 61].)
[40 ]The view of the military establishment of the Goths in Italy is collected from the Epistles of Cassiodorius (Var. i. 24, 40; iii. 3 [23 ?], 24, 48; iv. 13, 14; v. 26, 27; viii. 3, 4, 25). They are illustrated by the learned Mascou (Hist. of the Germans, l. xi. 40-44. Annotation xiv.).
[41 ]See the clearness and vigour of his negotiations in Ennodius (p. 1607) and Cassiodorius (Var. iii. 1, 2, 3, 4; iv. 13; v. 43, 44), who gives the different styles of friendship, counsel, expostulation, &c.
[42 ]Even of his table (Var. vi. 9) and palace (vii. 5). The admiration of strangers is represented as the most rational motive to justify these vain expenses, and to stimulate the diligence of the officers to whom those provinces were entrusted.
[43 ]See the public and private alliances of the Gothic monarch, with the Burgundians (Var. i. 45, 46), with the Franks (ii. 40), with the Thuringians (iv. 1), and with the Vandals (v. i.). Each of these epistles affords some curious knowledge of the policy and manners of the Barbarians. [Cp. genealogical table, Appendix 8.]
[44 ]His political system may be observed in Cassiodorius (Var. iv. 1, ix. 1), Jornandes (c. 58, p. 698, 699), and the Valesian Fragment (p. 720, 721). Peace, honourable peace, was the constant aim of Theodoric.
[45 ]The curious reader may contemplate the Heruli of Procopius (Goth. l. ii. c. 14), and the patient reader may plunge into the dark and minute researches of M. de Buat (Hist. des Peuples Anciens, tom. ix. p. 348-396). [Cp. Zeuss, Die Deutschen und die Nachbarstämme, p. 476.]
[46 ]Variarum, iv. 2. The spirit and forms of this martial institution are noticed by Cassiodorius; but he seems to have only translated the sentiments of the Gothic king into the language of Roman eloquence.
[47 ]Cassiodorius, who quotes Tacitus to the Æstians, the unlettered savages of the Baltic (Var. v. 2), describes the amber for which their shores have ever been famous, as the gum of a tree, hardened by the sun, and purified and wafted by the waves. When that singular substance is analysed by the chemists, it yields a vegetable oil and a mineral acid. [Tacitus, Germ. 45.]
[48 ]Scanzia, or Thule, is described by Jornandes (c. 3, p. 610-613) and Procopius (Goth. l. ii. c. 15). Neither the Goth nor the Greek had visited the country; both had conversed with the natives in their exile at Ravenna or Constantinople.
[49 ]Saphirinas pelles. In the time of Jornandes, they inhabited Suethans, the proper Sweden; but that beautiful race of animals has gradually been driven into the eastern parts of Siberia. See Buffon (Hist. Nat. tom. xiii. p. 309-313, quarto edition); Pennant (System of Quadrupeds, vol. i. p. 322-328); Gmelin (Hist. Gén. des Voyages, tom. xviii. p. 257, 258); and Levésque (Hist. de Russie, tom. v. p. 165, 166, 514, 515).
[50 ]In the system or romance of M. Bailly (Lettres sur les Sciences et sur l’Atlantide, tom. i. p. 249-256, tom. ii. p. 114-139), the phœnix of the Edda, and the annual death and revival of Adonis and Osiris, are the allegorical symbols of the absence and return of the sun in the arctic regions. This ingenious writer is a worthy disciple of the great Buffon; nor is it easy for the coldest reason to withstand the magic of their philosophy.
[51 ]Αὕτη τε Θυλίταις ἡ μεγίστη τω̂ν ὲορτω̂ν ἐστι, says Procopius. At present a rude Manicheism (generous enough) prevails among the Samoyedes in Greenland and in Lapland (Hist. des Voyages, tom. xviii. p. 508, 509, tom. xix. p. 105, 106, 527, 528); yet, according to Grotius, Samojutæ cælum atque astra adorant, numina haud aliis iniquiora (de Rebus Belgicis. l. iv. p. 338, folio edition): a sentence which Tacitus would not have disowned.
[52 ]See the Hist. des Peuples Anciens, &c. tom. ix. p. 255-273, 396-501. The Count de Buat was French minister at the court of Bavaria: a liberal curiosity prompted his inquiries into the antiquities of the country, and that curiosity was the germ of twelve respectable volumes.
[53 ][The “Huns” are Bulgarians; see Ennodius, Paneg. c. xii. p. 211, ed. Vogel.]
[54 ]See the Gothic transactions on the Danube and in Illyricum, in Jornandes (c. 58, p. 699), Ennodius (p. 1607-1610 [p. 210, 211, ed. Vogel]), Marcellinus (in Chron. p. 44, 47, 48), and Cassiodorius (in Chron. and Var. iii. 23, 50; iv. 13; vii. 4, 24; viii. 9, 10, 11, 21; ix. 8, 9).
[55 ]I cannot forbear transcribing the liberal and classic style of Count Marcellinus: Romanus comes domesticorum et Rusticus comes scholariorum cum centum armatis navibus, totidemque dromonibus, octo millia militum armatorum secum ferentibus, ad devastanda Italiæ littora processerunt, et usque ad Tarentum antiquissimam civitatem aggressi sunt; remensoque mari inhonestam victoriam quam piratico ausu Romani ex Romanis rapuerunt, Anastasio Cæsari reportarunt (in Chron. p. 48). See Variar. i. 16, ii. 38.
[56 ]See the royal orders and instructions (Var. iv. 15; v. 16-20). These armed boats should be still smaller than the thousand vessels of Agamemnon at the siege of Troy.
[57 ]Above, p. 329-235.
[58 ]Ennodius (p. 1610 [p. 212, ed. Vog.]) and Cassiodorius, in the royal name (Var. ii. 41), record his salutary protection of the Alemanni. [Compare Agathias, i. 6. The victory of the Franks over the Alamanni and the reception of Alamanni into the realm of Theodoric must be kept altogether apart chronologically, as von Schubert showed (Die Unterwerfung der Alamannen unter die Franken, 1884). The date for the former event, given in Gregory of Tours, 2, 30 (Whether due to Gregory himself or an adscript by some one else), is 495, and Mommsen is inclined to accept it (see Proœm. to his ed. of Cassiodorus, p. xxxiii.). In any case the date was not (as Vogel tried to prove, Sybel’s Hist. Zeitschrift, 1886, Bd. 56, 385 sqq.) subsequent to 500. But the reception of the Alamans was subsequent to the Sirmian expedition (see below) of 504. Probably, as Mommsen suggests, Theodoric assigned abodes in Pannonia to the Alaman fugitives who had been wandering about homeless since 495.]
[59 ]The Gothic transactions in Gaul and Spain are represented with some perplexity in Cassiodorius (Var. iii. 32, 38, 41, 43, 44; v. 39), Jornandes (c. 58, p. 698, 699), and Procopius (Goth. l. i. c. 12). I will neither hear nor reconcile the long and contradictory arguments of the Abbé Dubos and the Count de Buat about the wars of Burgundy.
[60 ][“Or Belgrade” seems to convey that Belgrade corresponds to the ancient Sirmium. This is a mistake. Belgrade (as the author knew) corresponds to Singidunum; Sirmium to Mitrovitz. The expedition against Sirmium took place in 504.]
[61 ]Theophanes, p. 113.
[62 ]Procopius affirms that no laws whatsoever were promulgated by Theodoric and the succeeding kings of Italy (Goth. l. ii. c. 6). He must mean in the Gothic language. A Latin edict of Theodoric is still extant, in one hundred and fifty-four articles. [The edictum Theodorici was only intended for cases in which (a) Romans or (b) Goths and Romans were concerned. The Goths had their own law, and their disputes were decided by an official entitled the Comes Gothorum (cp. Cass. Var. vii. 3) acting alone. In disputes between Goth and Roman, a Roman jurisconsult acted as assessor to the Comes Gothorum. For the text of the Edictum see part iv. of Dahn’s Könige der Germanen; an analysis in Hodgkin, iii. 345 sqq. The peculiar Ostrogothic institution of the saiones, a sort of royal messengers, may be mentioned here. We find a saio sent to call the Goths to arm against the Franks, or to rebuke a Prætorian prefect. One remarkable duty which devolved on a saio was the so-called tuitio regii nominis, Hodgkin, ib. 282. When a rich unwarlike Roman, “unable to protect himself against the rude assaults of sturdy Gothic neighbours, appealed to the King for protection,” the King took him under his tuitio, and a saio was quartered in his house as a guarantee of the royal protection. Naturally, the institution was sometimes abused.]
[63 ][Mr. Hodgkin (Italy and her Invaders, iii. p. 273) makes a statement exactly the reverse.]
[64 ]The image of Theodoric is engraved on his coins: his modest successors were satisfied with adding their own name to the head of the reigning emperor (Muratori, Antiquitat. Italiæ Medii Ævi, tom. ii. dissert. xxvii. p. 577-579. Giannone, Istoria Civile di Napoli, tom. i. p. 166). [Neither Theodoric nor any of his successors put his own effigy on his gold or silver coins. On silver coins of Theodoric we find on obverse the image of the Emperor; on reverse Theodoric’s monogram with cross and star, and INVICTA ROMA. But there is a copper coin of Theodahat with his bust.]
[65 ]The alliance of the emperor and the king of Italy are [leg. is] represented by Cassiodorius (Var. i. 1; ii. 1, 2, 3; vi. i.) and Procopius (Goth. l. ii. c. 6; l. iii. c. 21), who celebrate the friendship of Anastasius and Theodoric; but the figurative style of compliment was interpreted in a very different sense at Constantinople and Ravenna.
[66 ]To the xvii provinces of the Notitia, Paul Warnefrid the deacon (De Reb. Longobard. l. ii. c. 14-22) has subjoined an xviiith, the Apennine (Muratori Script. Rerum Italicarum, tom. i. p. 431-433). But of these Sardinia and Corsica were possessed by the Vandals, and the two Rhætias, as well as the Cottian Alps, seem to have been abandoned to a military government. The state of the four provinces that now form the kingdom of Naples is laboured by Giannone (tom. i. p. 172, 178) with patriotic diligence.
[67 ]See the Gothic history of Procopius (l. i. c. 1; l. ii. c. 6), the epistles of Cassiodorius (passim, but especially the vth and vith books, which contain the formulæ, or patents of offices), and the Civil History of Giannone (tom. i, l. ii. iii.). The Gothic counts, which he places in every Italian city, are annihilated, however, by Maffei (Verona Illustrata, p. i. l. viii. p. 227); for those of Syracuse and Naples (Var. vi. 22, 23) were special and temporary commissions. [Cp. Mommsen, Neues Archiv, 14, 499 sqq.]
[68 ]Two Italians of the name of Cassiodorius, the father (Var. i. 24, 40) and the son (ix. 24, 25), were successively employed in the administration of Theodoric. The son was born in the year 479: his various epistles as quæstor, master of the offices, and Prætorian prefect extend from 509 [possibly 507] to 539, and he lived as a monk about thirty years (Tiraboschi Storia della Letteratura Italiana, tom. iii. p. 7-24. Fabricius, Bibliot. Lat. Med. Ævi, tom. i. p. 357, 358, edit. Mansi). [Cp. Appendix 2.]
[69 ]See his regard for the senate in Cochlœus (Vit. Theod. viii. p. 72-80).
[70 ]No more than 120,000 modii, or four thousand quarters (Anonym. Valesian., p. 721 [§ 67], and Var. i. 35; vi. 18; xi. 5, 39).
[71 ]See his regard and indulgence for the spectacles of the circus, the amphitheatre, and the theatre, in the Chronicle and Epistles of Cassiodorius (Var. i. 20, 27, 30, 31, 32; iii. 51; iv. 51, illustrated by the xivth Annotation of Mascou’s History), who has contrived to sprinkle the subject with ostentatious though agreeable learning. [It is supposed that Theodoric’s visit to Rome may have been the occasion of the publication of the Edictum Theodorici; which in that case would probably be the work of Liberius.]
[72 ]Anonym. Vales. p. 721 [§ 69]. Marius Aventicensis in Chron. In the scale of public and personal merit, the Gothic conqueror is at least as much above Valentinian, as he may seem inferior to Trajan.
[73 ]Vit. Fulgentii in Baron. Annal. Eccles. 500, No. 10.
[74 ]Cassiodorius describes in his pompous style the forum of Trajan (Var. viii. [leg. vii.] 6), the theatre of Marcellus (iv. 51), and the amphitheatre of Titus (v. 42); and his descriptions are not unworthy of the reader’s perusal. According to the modern prices, the Abbé Barthelemy computes that the brickwork and masonry of the Coliseum would now cost twenty millions of French livres (Mém. de l’Académie des Inscriptions, tom. xxviii. p. 585, 586). How small a part of that stupendous fabric?
[75 ]For the aqueducts and cloacæ, see Strabo (l. v. p. 360), Pliny (Hist. Nat. xxxvi. 24), Cassiodorius (Var. iii. 30, 31; vi. 6), Procopius (Goth. l. i. c. 19), and Nardini (Roma Antica, p. 514-522). How such works could be executed by a king of Rome, is yet a problem.
[76 ]For the Gothic care of the buildings and statues, see Cassiodorius (Var. i. 21, 25; ii. 34; iv. 30; vii. 6, 13, 15), and the Valesian Fragment (p. 721 [§ 70 sqq.]). [Square bricks (tegulae) have been found with Theodoric’s name. Reg. DN. Theoderico Felix Roma. See Gregorovius, Gesch. der Stadt Rom, i. 294.]
[77 ]Var. vii. 15. These horses of Monte-Cavallo had been transported from Alexandria to the baths of Constantine (Nardini, p. 188). Their sculpture is disdained by the Abbé Dubos (Reflexions sur la Poésie et sur la Peinture, tom. i. section 39), and admired by Winckelmann (Hist. de l’Art, tom. ii. p. 159).
[78 ]Var. x. 10 [leg. 30]. They were probably a fragment of some triumphal car (Cuper, de Elephantis, ii. 10).
[79 ]Procopius (Goth. l. iv. c. 21) relates a foolish story of Myron’s cow, which is celebrated by the false wit of thirty-six Greek epigrams (Antholog. l. iv. p. 302-306, edit. Hen. Steph. Auson. Epigram. lviii.-lxviii.).
[80 ]See an Epigram of Ennodius (ii. 3, p. 1893, 1894 [cclxiv. p. 214, ed. Vogel]) on this garden and the royal gardener.
[81 ]His affection for that city is proved by the epithet of “Verona tua,” and the legend of the hero; under the barbarous name of Dietrich of Bern (Peringskiöld ad Cochlæum, p. 240) [Peringskiöld annotated the Vita Theodorici regis Ostrogothorum et Italiæ of I. Cochlæus, 1699 (Stockholm)], Maffei traces him with knowledge and pleasure in his native country (l. ix. p. 230-236). [On the legend of Theodoric in Verona, see C. Cipolla, in the Archivio Stor. It. (Florence), 1890, vi. p. 457 sqq.]
[82 ]See Maffei, Verona Illustrata, part i. p. 231, 232, 308, &c. [The image of the palace given by Maffei is from a seal, not from a coin.] He imputes Gothic architecture, like the corruption of language, writing, &c. not to the Barbarians, but to the Italians themselves. Compare his sentiments with those of Tiraboschi (tom. iii. p. 61). [At Ravenna there are two great memorials of Theodoric; his tomb (see below, p. 343) and the church of St. Martin (called in caelo aureo from its golden ceiling) now known as S. Apollinare Nuovo, with beautiful mosaics, among which is a representation of the Palace of Theodoric. Close to the church is a high wall with some marble pillars, supposed to be a fragment of the actual Palace of Theodoric, but this is very doubtful. See C. Ricci, Ravenna, ei suoi dintorni.]
[83 ]The villas, climate, and landscape of Baiæ (Var. ix. 6. See Cluver. Italia Antiq. l. iv. c. 2, p. 1119, &c.), Istria (Var. xii. 22, 26), and Comum (Var. xi. 14, compare with Pliny’s two villas, ix. 7), are agreeably painted in the epistles of Cassiodorius.
[84 ]In Liguria, numerosa agricolarum progenies (Ennodius, p. 1678, 1679, 1680 [p. 101, ed. Vogel]). St. Epiphanius of Pavia redeemed by prayer or ransom 6000 captives from the Burgundians of Lyons and Savoy. Such deeds are the best of miracles.
[85 ]The political economy of Theodoric (see Anonym. Vales. p. 721 and Cassiodorius, in Chron.) may be distinctly traced under the following heads: iron mine (Var. iii. 23); gold mine (ix. 3); Pomptine marshes (ii. 32, 33); Spoleto (ii. 21); corn (i. 34; x. 27, 28; xi. 11, 12); trade (vi. 7, vii. 9, 23); fair of Leucothoe or St. Cyprian in Lucania (viii. 33); plenty (xii. 4); the cursus, or public post (i. 29; ii. 31; iv. 47; v. 5; vi. 6; vii. 33); the Flaminian way (xii. 18). [An inscription records the draining of the marshes, which had flowed over the Appian way between Tripontium and Terracina. A copy of this inscription stands in the Piazza of Terracina. Cp. C.I.L. x. 6850, p. 690, and see Appendix 9.]
[86 ]LX modii tritici in solidum ipsius tempore fuerunt, et vinum xxx amphoras in solidum (Fragment Vales.). Corn was distributed from the granaries at xv or xxv modi for a piece of gold, and the price was still moderate.
[87 ]See the life of St. Cæsarius in Baronius ( 508, No. 12, 13, 14). The king presented him with 300 gold solidi, and a discus of silver of the weight of sixty pounds.
[88 ]Ennodius in Vit. St. Epiphanii, in Sirmond Op. tom. i. p. 1672-1690. Theodoric bestowed some important favours on this bishop, whom he used as a counsellor in peace and war.
[89 ]Devotissimus ac si Catholicus (Anonym. Vales. p. 720); yet his offering was no more than two silver candlesticks (cerostrata) of the weight of seventy pounds, far inferior to the gold and gems of Constantinople and France (Anastasius in Vit. Pont. in Hormisdâ, p. 34, edit. Paris).
[90 ]The tolerating system of his reign (Ennodius, p. 1612, Anonym. Vales. p. 719. Procop. Goth. l. i. c. 1; l. ii. c. 6) may be studied in the Epistles of Cassiodorius, under the following heads: bishops (Var. i. 9; viii. 15, 24; xi. 23); immunities (i. 26; ii. 29, 30); church lands (iv. 17, 20); sanctuaries (ii. 11; iii. 47); church plate (xii. 20); discipline (iv. 44); which prove at the same time that he was the head of the church as well as of the state.
[91 ]We may reject a foolish tale of his beheading a Catholic deacon who turned Arian (Theodor. Lector, No. 17). Why is Theodoric surnamed Afer? From Vafer (Vales. ad. loc.). A light conjecture.
[92 ]Ennodius, p. 1621, 1622, 1636, 1638. His libell [p. 48 sqq., ed. Vogel] was approved and registered (synodaliter) by a Roman council (Baronius, 503, No. 6. Franciscus Pagi in Breviar. Pont. Rom. tom. i. p. 242). [It is to be observed that Ennodius applies papa once or twice to Epiphanius.]
[92a ][There are two lives of Symmachus, one by a partisan of his own, the other by a partisan of his rival. In the main points they agree. See Duchesne, Lib. Pont. i. p. 33.]
[93 ]See Cassiodorius (Var. viii. 15; ix. 15, 16), Anastasius (in Symmacho, p. 31), and the xviith Annotation of Mascou. Baronius, Pagi, and most of the Catholic doctors confess, with an angry growl, this Gothic usurpation.
[94 ]He disabled them — a licentia testandi; and all Italy mourned — lamentabili justitio. I wish to believe that these penalties were enacted against the rebels who had violated their oath of allegiance; but the testimony of Ennodius (p. 1675-1678) is the more weighty, as he lived and died under the reign of Theodoric.
[95 ]Ennodius, in Vit. Epiphan. p. 1689, 1690 [p. 107-8, ed. Vog.]. Boethius de Consolatione Philosophiæ, l. i. pros. iv. p. 45, 46, 47. Respect, but weigh, the passions of the saint and the senator; and fortify or alleviate their complaints by the various hints of Cassiodorius (ii. 8; iv. 36; viii. 5).
[96 ]Immanium expensarum pondus . . . pro ipsorum salute, &c.; yet these are no more than words.
[97 ]The Jews were settled at Naples (Procopius, Goth. l. i. c. 8), at Genoa (Var. ii. 28; iv. 33), Milan (v. 37), Rome (iv. 43). See likewise Basnage, Hist. des Juifs, tom. viii. c. 7, p. 254.
[98 ]Rex avidus communis exitii, &c. (Boethius, l. i. p. 59): rex dolum Romanis tendebat (Anonym. Vales. p. 723 [§ 86; the MSS. have tenebat]). These are hard words: they speak the passions of the Italians, and those (I fear) of Theodoric himself.
[99 ]I have laboured to extract a rational narrative from the dark, concise, and various hints of the Valesian Fragment (p. 722, 723, 724), Theophanes (p. 145), Anastasius (in Johanne, p. 35), and the Hist. Miscella (p. 103, edit. Muratori). A gentle pressure and paraphrase of their words is no violence. Consult likewise Muratori (Annali d’Italia, tom. iv. p. 471-478), with the Annals and Breviary (tom. i. 259-263) of the two Pagis, the uncle and the nephew.
[100 ]Le Clerc has composed a critical and philosophical life of Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius (Bibliot. Choisie, tom. xvi. p. 168-275); and both Tiraboschi (tom. iii.) and Fabricius (Bibliot. Latin.) may be usefully consulted. The date of his birth may be placed about the year 470 [rather 480], and his death in 524, in a premature old age (Consol. Phil. Metrica, i. p. 5). [Some new light on Boethius and Symmachus has been gained by a fragment discovered in a 10th century MS. at Carlsruhe. It is known as the Anecdoton Holderi and has been edited by Usener (1877). Cp. Schepps’s paper in the Neues Archiv. xi., 1886.]
[101 ]For the age and value of this MS. now in the Medicean library at Florence, see the Cenotaphia Pisana (p. 430-447), of Cardinal Noris.
[102 ]The Athenian studies of Boethius are doubtful (Baronius, 510, No. 3, from a spurious tract, De Disciplinâ Scholarum), and the term of eighteen years is doubtless too long; but the simple fact of a visit to Athens is justified by much internal evidence (Brucker, Hist. Crit. Philosoph. tom. iii. p. 524-527), and by an expression (though vague and ambiguous) of his friend Cassiodorius (Var. i. 45), “longe positas [leg. positus] Athenas introisti.” [This expression is purely figurative and there is no evidence that Boethius had ever visited Athens. Cp. Gregorovius, Gesch. der Stadt Athen im Mittelalter, i. p. 54.]
[104 ]Bibliothecæ comptos ebore ac vitro parietes, &c. (Consol. Phil. l. i. pros. v. p. 74). The epistles of Ennodius (vi. 6; vii. 13; viii. 1, 31, 37, 40 [271, 318, 320, 408, 415, 418, ap. Vogel]), and Cassiodorius (Var. i. 39 [? 45]; iv. 6 [?]; ix. 21 [?]), afford many proofs of the high reputation which he enjoyed in his own times. It is true that the bishop of Pavia wanted to purchase of him an old house at Milan, and praise might be tendered and accepted in part of payment.
[105 ][The genuineness of these theological treatises is proved by a positive statement in the Anecdoton Holderi.]
[106 ]Pagi, Muratori, &c. are agreed that Boethius himself was consul in the year 510, his two sons in 522, and in 487, perhaps, his father. [For his father Aurelius Manlius Boethius, cp. C.I.L. v. 8120. He held the offices of Præf. Urbi and Præf. Præt.] A desire of ascribing the last of these consulships to the philosopher had perplexed the chronology of his life. In his honours, alliances, children, he celebrates his own felicity — his past felicity (p. 109, 110).
[107 ]Si ego scissem tu nescisses. Boethius adopts this answer (l. i. pros. 4, p. 53) of Julius Canus, whose philosophic death is described by Seneca (De Tranquillitate Animi, c. 14).
[108 ]The characters of his two delators, Basilius (Var. ii. 10, 11; iv. 22) and Opilio (v. 41; viii. 16), are illustrated, not much to their honour, in the epistles of Cassiodorius, which likewise mention Decoratus (v. 31), the worthless colleague of Boethius (l. iii. pros. 4, p. 193). [On the contrary we derive a favourable impression from Cassiodorius as to the character of the accusers Cyprian and Opilio, and also as to Decoratus. Cp. Var. viii. 17; v. 3, 4. Hodgkin, iii. 543 sqq.]
[109 ]A severe inquiry was instituted into the crime of magic (Var. iv. 22, 23; ix. 18); and it was believed that many necromancers had escaped by making their gaolers mad: for mad, I should read drunk. [The condemnation of Boethius and Symmachus had nothing to do with religion, so that they are in no sense martyrs.]
[110 ]Boethius had composed his own Apology (p. 53), perhaps more interesting than his Consolation. We must be content with the general view of his honours, principles, persecution, &c. (l. i. pros. iv. p. 42-62), which may be compared with the short and weighty words of the Valesian Fragment (p. 723 [§ 85]). An anonymous writer (Sinner, Catalog. MSS. Bibliot. Bern. tom. i. p. 287) charges him home with honourable and patriotic treason.
[111 ]He was executed in Agro Calventiano (Calvenzano, between Marignano and Pavia), Anonym. Vales. p. 723 [§ 87], by order of Eusebius, count of Ticinum or Pavia. The place of his confinement is styled the baptistery, an edifice and name peculiar to cathedrals. It is claimed by the perpetual tradition of the church of Pavia. The tower of Boethius subsisted till the year 1584, and the draught is yet preserved (Tiraboschi, tom. iii. p. 47, 48).
[112 ]See the Biographica Britannica, Alfred, tom. i. p. 80, 2d edition. The work is still more honourable if performed under the learned eye of Alfred by his foreign and domestic doctors. [Alfred made both a prose and a poetical translation.] For the reputation of Boethius in the middle ages, consult Brucker (Hist. Crit. Philosoph. tom. iii. p. 565, 566). [Chaucer also translated the Consolation.]
[113 ]The inscription on his new tomb was composed by the preceptor of Otho the third, the learned Pope Silvester II., who, like Boethius himself, was styled a magician by the ignorance of the times. The Catholic martyr had carried his head in his hands a considerable way (Baronius, 526, No. 17, 18); yet, on a similar tale, a lady of my acquaintance once observed, “La distance n’y fait rien; il n’y a que le premier pas qui coûte” [Madame du Deffand].
[114 ]Boethius applauds the virtues of his father-in-law (l. i. pros. 4, p. 59; l. ii. pros. 4, p. 118). Procopius (Goth. l. i. c. 1), the Valesian Fragment (p. 724), and the Historia Miscella (l. xv. p. 105) agree in praising the superior innocence or sanctity of Symmachus; and, in the estimation of the legend, the guilt of his murder is equal to the imprisonment of a pope. [Q. Aurelius Memmius Symmachus was great-grandson of the orator Symmachus who fought under Gratian and Theodosius for the dying cause of Paganism.]
[115 ]In the fanciful eloquence of Cassiodorius, the variety of sea and river fish are an evidence of extensive dominion; and those of the Rhine, of Sicily, and of the Danube were served on the table of Theodoric (Var. xii. 14). The monstrous turbot of Domitian (Juvenal. Satir. iii. 39) had been caught on the shores of the Adriatic.
[116 ]Procopius, Goth. l. i. c. 1. But he might have informed us whether he had received this curious anecdote from common report or from the mouth of the royal physician.
[117 ]Procopius, Goth. l. i. c. 1, 2, 12, 13. This partition had been directed by Theodoric, though it was not executed till after his death. Regni hereditatem superstes reliquit (Isidor. Chron. p. 721, edit. Grot.).
[118 ]Berimund, the third in descent from Hermanric, king of the Ostrogoths, had retired into Spain, where he lived and died in obscurity (Jornandes, c. 33, p. 202, edit. Murator.). See the discovery, nuptials, and death of his grandson Eutharic (c. 58, p. 220). His Roman games might render him popular (Cassiodor. in Chron.), but Eutharic was asper in religione (Anonym. Vales. p. 722, 723 [§ 80]).
[119 ]See the counsels of Theodoric, and the professions of his successor, in Procopius (Goth. l. i. c. 1, 2), Jornandes (c. 59, p. 220, 221), and Cassiodorius (Var. viii. 1-7). These epistles are the triumph of his ministerial eloquence.
[120 ]Anonym. Vales. p. 724, Agnellus de Vitis Pont. Raven. in Muratori, Script. Rerum Ital. tom. ii. P. i. p. 67. Alberti Descrittione d’Italia, p. 311. [In the time of Agnellus, the body of Theodoric was no longer in the mausoleum. In 1854 workmen found a skeleton with a golden cuirass and helmet, some hundred yards from the tomb. It is held by the archæologist of Ravenna, C. Ricci, that this was the body of Theodoric; others have named Odovacar. The gold armour was hidden and melted down by the discoverers, but some bits of the cuirass were rescued and are in the museum at Ravenna. Mr. Hodgkin has a fanciful conjecture on the removal of the body, iii. 583.]
[121 ]This legend is related by Gregory I. (Dialog. iv. 30), and approved by Baronius ( 526, No. 28); and both the Pope and Cardinal are grave doctors, sufficient to establish a probable opinion.
[122 ]Theodoric himself, or rather Cassiodorius, had described in tragic strains the vulcanos of Lipari (Cluver. Sicilia, p. 406, 410), and Vesuvius (iv. 50).