The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. II
Edward Gibbon

Part 16 out of 16

Bourgoigne; car deja a Morat l'avoit ouy." (See the Pieces
Justificatives in the 4to. edition of Philippe de Comines, tom.
iii. p. 493.)]

[Footnote 72: Jornandes de Rebus Geticis, c. 26, p. 648, edit.
Grot. These splendidi panm (they are comparatively such) are
undoubtedly transcribed from the larger histories of Priscus,
Ablavius, or Cassiodorus.]
[Footnote 73: Cum populis suis longe ante suscepti. We are
ignorant of the precise date and circumstances of their

[Footnote 74: An Imperial manufacture of shields, &c., was
established at Hadrianople; and the populace were headed by the
Fabricenses, or workmen. (Vales. ad Ammian. xxxi. 6.)]

[Footnote 75: Pacem sibi esse cum parietibus memorans. Ammian.
xxxi. 7.]
[Footnote 76: These mines were in the country of the Bessi, in
the ridge of mountains, the Rhodope, that runs between Philippi
and Philippopolis; two Macedonian cities, which derived their
name and origin from the father of Alexander. From the mines of
Thrace he annually received the value, not the weight, of a
thousand talents, (200,000l.,) a revenue which paid the phalanx,
and corrupted the orators of Greece. See Diodor. Siculus, tom.
ii. l. xvi. p. 88, edit. Wesseling. Godefroy's Commentary on the
Theodosian Code, tom. iii. p. 496. Cellarius, Geograph. Antiq.
tom. i. p. 676, 857. D Anville, Geographie Ancienne, tom. i. p.
[Footnote 77: As those unhappy workmen often ran away, Valens had
enacted severe laws to drag them from their hiding-places. Cod.
Theodosian, l. x. tit xix leg. 5, 7.]

[Footnote 78: See Ammianus, xxxi. 5, 6. The historian of the
Gothic war loses time and space, by an unseasonable
recapitulation of the ancient inroads of the Barbarians.]

The imprudence of Valens and his ministers had introduced
into the heart of the empire a nation of enemies; but the
Visigoths might even yet have been reconciled, by the manly
confession of past errors, and the sincere performance of former
engagements. These healing and temperate measures seemed to
concur with the timorous disposition of the sovereign of the
East: but, on this occasion alone, Valens was brave; and his
unseasonable bravery was fatal to himself and to his subjects.
He declared his intention of marching from Antioch to
Constantinople, to subdue this dangerous rebellion; and, as he
was not ignorant of the difficulties of the enterprise, he
solicited the assistance of his nephew, the emperor Gratian, who
commanded all the forces of the West. The veteran troops were
hastily recalled from the defence of Armenia; that important
frontier was abandoned to the discretion of Sapor; and the
immediate conduct of the Gothic war was intrusted, during the
absence of Valens, to his lieutenants Trajan and Profuturus, two
generals who indulged themselves in a very false and favorable
opinion of their own abilities. On their arrival in Thrace, they
were joined by Richomer, count of the domestics; and the
auxiliaries of the West, that marched under his banner, were
composed of the Gallic legions, reduced indeed, by a spirit of
desertion, to the vain appearances of strength and numbers. In a
council of war, which was influenced by pride, rather than by
reason, it was resolved to seek, and to encounter, the
Barbarians, who lay encamped in the spacious and fertile meadows,
near the most southern of the six mouths of the Danube. ^79 Their
camp was surrounded by the usual fortification of wagons; ^80 and
the Barbarians, secure within the vast circle of the enclosure,
enjoyed the fruits of their valor, and the spoils of the
province. In the midst of riotous intemperance, the watchful
Fritigern observed the motions, and penetrated the designs, of
the Romans. He perceived, that the numbers of the enemy were
continually increasing: and, as he understood their intention of
attacking his rear, as soon as the scarcity of forage should
oblige him to remove his camp, he recalled to their standard his
predatory detachments, which covered the adjacent country. As
soon as they descried the flaming beacons, ^81 they obeyed, with
incredible speed, the signal of their leader: the camp was filled
with the martial crowd of Barbarians; their impatient clamors
demanded the battle, and their tumultuous zeal was approved and
animated by the spirit of their chiefs. The evening was already
far advanced; and the two armies prepared themselves for the
approaching combat, which was deferred only till the dawn of day.

While the trumpets sounded to arms, the undaunted courage of the
Goths was confirmed by the mutual obligation of a solemn oath;
and as they advanced to meet the enemy, the rude songs, which
celebrated the glory of their forefathers, were mingled with
their fierce and dissonant outcries, and opposed to the
artificial harmony of the Roman shout. Some military skill was
displayed by Fritigern to gain the advantage of a commanding
eminence; but the bloody conflict, which began and ended with the
light, was maintained on either side, by the personal and
obstinate efforts of strength, valor, and agility. The legions
of Armenia supported their fame in arms; but they were oppressed
by the irresistible weight of the hostile multitude the left wing
of the Romans was thrown into disorder and the field was strewed
with their mangled carcasses. This partial defeat was balanced,
however, by partial success; and when the two armies, at a late
hour of the evening, retreated to their respective camps, neither
of them could claim the honors, or the effects, of a decisive
victory. The real loss was more severely felt by the Romans, in
proportion to the smallness of their numbers; but the Goths were
so deeply confounded and dismayed by this vigorous, and perhaps
unexpected, resistance, that they remained seven days within the
circle of their fortifications. Such funeral rites, as the
circumstances of time and place would admit, were piously
discharged to some officers of distinguished rank; but the
indiscriminate vulgar was left unburied on the plain. Their
flesh was greedily devoured by the birds of prey, who in that age
enjoyed very frequent and delicious feasts; and several years
afterwards the white and naked bones, which covered the wide
extent of the fields, presented to the eyes of Ammianus a
dreadful monument of the battle of Salices. ^82

[Footnote 79: The Itinerary of Antoninus (p. 226, 227, edit.
Wesseling) marks the situation of this place about sixty miles
north of Tomi, Ovid's exile; and the name of Salices (the
willows) expresses the nature of the soil.]

[Footnote 80: This circle of wagons, the Carrago, was the usual
fortification of the Barbarians. (Vegetius de Re Militari, l.
iii. c. 10. Valesius ad Ammian. xxxi. 7.) The practice and the
name were preserved by their descendants as late as the fifteenth
century. The Charroy, which surrounded the Ost, is a word
familiar to the readers of Froissard, or Comines.]

[Footnote 81: Statim ut accensi malleoli. I have used the
literal sense of real torches or beacons; but I almost suspect,
that it is only one of those turgid metaphors, those false
ornaments, that perpetually disfigure to style of Ammianus.]

[Footnote 82: Indicant nunc usque albentes ossibus campi.
Ammian. xxxi. 7. The historian might have viewed these plains,
either as a soldier, or as a traveller. But his modesty has
suppressed the adventures of his own life subsequent to the
Persian wars of Constantius and Julian. We are ignorant of the
time when he quitted the service, and retired to Rome, where he
appears to have composed his History of his Own Times.]

The progress of the Goths had been checked by the doubtful
event of that bloody day; and the Imperial generals, whose army
would have been consumed by the repetition of such a contest,
embraced the more rational plan of destroying the Barbarians by
the wants and pressure of their own multitudes. They prepared to
confine the Visigoths in the narrow angle of land between the
Danube, the desert of Scythia, and the mountains of Haemus, till
their strength and spirit should be insensibly wasted by the
inevitable operation of famine. The design was prosecuted with
some conduct and success: the Barbarians had almost exhausted
their own magazines, and the harvests of the country; and the
diligence of Saturninus, the master-general of the cavalry, was
employed to improve the strength, and to contract the extent, of
the Roman fortifications. His labors were interrupted by the
alarming intelligence, that new swarms of Barbarians had passed
the unguarded Danube, either to support the cause, or to imitate
the example, of Fritigern. The just apprehension, that he
himself might be surrounded, and overwhelmed, by the arms of
hostile and unknown nations, compelled Saturninus to relinquish
the siege of the Gothic camp; and the indignant Visigoths,
breaking from their confinement, satiated their hunger and
revenge by the repeated devastation of the fruitful country,
which extends above three hundred miles from the banks of the
Danube to the straits of the Hellespont. ^83 The sagacious
Fritigern had successfully appealed to the passions, as well as
to the interest, of his Barbarian allies; and the love of rapine,
and the hatred of Rome, seconded, or even prevented, the
eloquence of his ambassadors. He cemented a strict and useful
alliance with the great body of his countrymen, who obeyed
Alatheus and Saphrax as the guardians of their infant king: the
long animosity of rival tribes was suspended by the sense of
their common interest; the independent part of the nation was
associated under one standard; and the chiefs of the Ostrogoths
appear to have yielded to the superior genius of the general of
the Visigoths. He obtained the formidable aid of the Taifalae,
^* whose military renown was disgraced and polluted by the public
infamy of their domestic manners. Every youth, on his entrance
into the world, was united by the ties of honorable friendship,
and brutal love, to some warrior of the tribe; nor could he hope
to be released from this unnatural connection, till he had
approved his manhood by slaying, in single combat, a huge bear,
or a wild boar of the forest. ^84 But the most powerful
auxiliaries of the Goths were drawn from the camp of those
enemies who had expelled them from their native seats. The loose
subordination, and extensive possessions, of the Huns and the
Alani, delayed the conquests, and distracted the councils, of
that victorious people. Several of the hords were allured by the
liberal promises of Fritigern; and the rapid cavalry of Scythia
added weight and energy to the steady and strenuous efforts of
the Gothic infantry. The Sarmatians, who could never forgive the
successor of Valentinian, enjoyed and increased the general
confusion; and a seasonable irruption of the Alemanni, into the
provinces of Gaul, engaged the attention, and diverted the
forces, of the emperor of the West. ^85

[Footnote 83: Ammian. xxxi. 8.]

[Footnote *: The Taifalae, who at this period inhabited the
country which now forms the principality of Wallachia, were, in
my opinion, the last remains of the great and powerful nation of
the Dacians, (Daci or Dahae.) which has given its name to these
regions, over which they had ruled so long. The Taifalae passed
with the Goths into the territory of the empire. A great number
of them entered the Roman service, and were quartered in
different provinces. They are mentioned in the Notitia Imperii.
There was a considerable body in the country of the Pictavi, now
Poithou. They long retained their manners and language, and
caused the name of the Theofalgicus pagus to be given to the
district they inhabited. Two places in the department of La
Vendee, Tiffanges and La Tiffardiere, still preserve evident
traces of this denomination. St. Martin, iv. 118. - M.]
[Footnote 84: Hanc Taifalorum gentem turpem, et obscenae vitae
flagitiis ita accipimus mersam; ut apud eos nefandi concubitus
foedere copulentur mares puberes, aetatis viriditatem in eorum
pollutis usibus consumpturi. Porro, siqui jam adultus aprum
exceperit solus, vel interemit ursum immanem, colluvione
liberatur incesti. Ammian. xxxi. 9.

Among the Greeks, likewise, more especially among the
Cretans, the holy bands of friendship were confirmed, and
sullied, by unnatural love.]
[Footnote 85: Ammian. xxxi. 8, 9. Jerom (tom. i. p. 26)
enumerates the nations and marks a calamitous period of twenty
years. This epistle to Heliodorus was composed in the year 397,
(Tillemont, Mem. Eccles tom xii. p. 645.)]

Chapter XXVI: Progress of The Huns.

Part IV.

One of the most dangerous inconveniences of the introduction
of the Barbarians into the army and the palace, was sensibly felt
in their correspondence with their hostile countrymen; to whom
they imprudently, or maliciously, revealed the weakness of the
Roman empire. A soldier, of the lifeguards of Gratian, was of
the nation of the Alemanni, and of the tribe of the Lentienses,
who dwelt beyond the Lake of Constance. Some domestic business
obliged him to request a leave of absence. In a short visit to
his family and friends, he was exposed to their curious
inquiries: and the vanity of the loquacious soldier tempted him
to display his intimate acquaintance with the secrets of the
state, and the designs of his master. The intelligence, that
Gratian was preparing to lead the military force of Gaul, and of
the West, to the assistance of his uncle Valens, pointed out to
the restless spirit of the Alemanni the moment, and the mode, of
a successful invasion. The enterprise of some light detachments,
who, in the month of February, passed the Rhine upon the ice, was
the prelude of a more important war. The boldest hopes of
rapine, perhaps of conquest, outweighed the considerations of
timid prudence, or national faith. Every forest, and every
village, poured forth a band of hardy adventurers; and the great
army of the Alemanni, which, on their approach, was estimated at
forty thousand men by the fears of the people, was afterwards
magnified to the number of seventy thousand by the vain and
credulous flattery of the Imperial court. The legions, which had
been ordered to march into Pannonia, were immediately recalled,
or detained, for the defence of Gaul; the military command was
divided between Nanienus and Mellobaudes; and the youthful
emperor, though he respected the long experience and sober wisdom
of the former, was much more inclined to admire, and to follow,
the martial ardor of his colleague; who was allowed to unite the
incompatible characters of count of the domestics, and of king of
the Franks. His rival Priarius, king of the Alemanni, was
guided, or rather impelled, by the same headstrong valor; and as
their troops were animated by the spirit of their leaders, they
met, they saw, they encountered each other, near the town of
Argentaria, or Colmar, ^86 in the plains of Alsace. The glory of
the day was justly ascribed to the missile weapons, and
well-practised evolutions, of the Roman soldiers; the Alemanni,
who long maintained their ground, were slaughtered with
unrelenting fury; five thousand only of the Barbarians escaped to
the woods and mountains; and the glorious death of their king on
the field of battle saved him from the reproaches of the people,
who are always disposed to accuse the justice, or policy, of an
unsuccessful war. After this signal victory, which secured the
peace of Gaul, and asserted the honor of the Roman arms, the
emperor Gratian appeared to proceed without delay on his Eastern
expedition; but as he approached the confines of the Alemanni, he
suddenly inclined to the left, surprised them by his unexpected
passage of the Rhine, and boldly advanced into the heart of their
country. The Barbarians opposed to his progress the obstacles of
nature and of courage; and still continued to retreat, from one
hill to another, till they were satisfied, by repeated trials, of
the power and perseverance of their enemies. Their submission
was accepted as a proof, not indeed of their sincere repentance,
but of their actual distress; and a select number of their brave
and robust youth was exacted from the faithless nation, as the
most substantial pledge of their future moderation. The subjects
of the empire, who had so often experienced that the Alemanni
could neither be subdued by arms, nor restrained by treaties,
might not promise themselves any solid or lasting tranquillity:
but they discovered, in the virtues of their young sovereign, the
prospect of a long and auspicious reign. When the legions
climbed the mountains, and scaled the fortifications of the
Barbarians, the valor of Gratian was distinguished in the
foremost ranks; and the gilt and variegated armor of his guards
was pierced and shattered by the blows which they had received in
their constant attachment to the person of their sovereign. At
the age of nineteen, the son of Valentinian seemed to possess the
talents of peace and war; and his personal success against the
Alemanni was interpreted as a sure presage of his Gothic
triumphs. ^87
[Footnote 86: The field of battle, Argentaria or Argentovaria, is
accurately fixed by M. D'Anville (Notice de l'Ancienne Gaule, p.
96 - 99) at twenty-three Gallic leagues, or thirty-four and a
half Roman miles to the south of Strasburg. From its ruins the
adjacent town of Colmar has arisen.
Note: It is rather Horburg, on the right bank of the River
Ill, opposite to Colmar. From Schoepflin, Alsatia Illustrata.
St. Martin, iv. 121. - M.]
[Footnote 87: The full and impartial narrative of Ammianus (xxxi.
10) may derive some additional light from the Epitome of Victor,
the Chronicle of Jerom, and the History of Orosius, (l. vii. c.
33, p. 552, edit. Havercamp.)]

While Gratian deserved and enjoyed the applause of his
subjects, the emperor Valens, who, at length, had removed his
court and army from Antioch, was received by the people of
Constantinople as the author of the public calamity. Before he
had reposed himself ten days in the capital, he was urged by the
licentious clamors of the Hippodrome to march against the
Barbarians, whom he had invited into his dominions; and the
citizens, who are always brave at a distance from any real
danger, declared, with confidence, that, if they were supplied
with arms, they alone would undertake to deliver the province
from the ravages of an insulting foe. ^88 The vain reproaches of
an ignorant multitude hastened the downfall of the Roman empire;
they provoked the desperate rashness of Valens; who did not find,
either in his reputation or in his mind, any motives to support
with firmness the public contempt. He was soon persuaded, by the
successful achievements of his lieutenants, to despise the power
of the Goths, who, by the diligence of Fritigern, were now
collected in the neighborhood of Hadrianople. The march of the
Taifalae had been intercepted by the valiant Frigeric: the king
of those licentious Barbarians was slain in battle; and the
suppliant captives were sent into distant exile to cultivate the
lands of Italy, which were assigned for their settlement in the
vacant territories of Modena and Parma. ^89 The exploits of
Sebastian, ^90 who was recently engaged in the service of Valens,
and promoted to the rank of master-general of the infantry, were
still more honorable to himself, and useful to the republic. He
obtained the permission of selecting three hundred soldiers from
each of the legions; and this separate detachment soon acquired
the spirit of discipline, and the exercise of arms, which were
almost forgotten under the reign of Valens. By the vigor and
conduct of Sebastian, a large body of the Goths were surprised in
their camp; and the immense spoil, which was recovered from their
hands, filled the city of Hadrianople, and the adjacent plain.
The splendid narratives, which the general transmitted of his own
exploits, alarmed the Imperial court by the appearance of
superior merit; and though he cautiously insisted on the
difficulties of the Gothic war, his valor was praised, his advice
was rejected; and Valens, who listened with pride and pleasure to
the flattering suggestions of the eunuchs of the palace, was
impatient to seize the glory of an easy and assured conquest.
His army was strengthened by a numerous reenforcement of
veterans; and his march from Constantinople to Hadrianople was
conducted with so much military skill, that he prevented the
activity of the Barbarians, who designed to occupy the
intermediate defiles, and to intercept either the troops
themselves, or their convoys of provisions. The camp of Valens,
which he pitched under the walls of Hadrianople, was fortified,
according to the practice of the Romans, with a ditch and
rampart; and a most important council was summoned, to decide the
fate of the emperor and of the empire. The party of reason and
of delay was strenuously maintained by Victor, who had corrected,
by the lessons of experience, the native fierceness of the
Sarmatian character; while Sebastian, with the flexible and
obsequious eloquence of a courtier, represented every precaution,
and every measure, that implied a doubt of immediate victory, as
unworthy of the courage and majesty of their invincible monarch.
The ruin of Valens was precipitated by the deceitful arts of
Fritigern, and the prudent admonitions of the emperor of the
West. The advantages of negotiating in the midst of war were
perfectly understood by the general of the Barbarians; and a
Christian ecclesiastic was despatched, as the holy minister of
peace, to penetrate, and to perplex, the councils of the enemy.
The misfortunes, as well as the provocations, of the Gothic
nation, were forcibly and truly described by their ambassador;
who protested, in the name of Fritigern, that he was still
disposed to lay down his arms, or to employ them only in the
defence of the empire; if he could secure for his wandering
countrymen a tranquil settlement on the waste lands of Thrace,
and a sufficient allowance of corn and cattle. But he added, in
a whisper of confidential friendship, that the exasperated
Barbarians were averse to these reasonable conditions; and that
Fritigern was doubtful whether he could accomplish the conclusion
of the treaty, unless he found himself supported by the presence
and terrors of an Imperial army. About the same time, Count
Richomer returned from the West to announce the defeat and
submission of the Alemanni, to inform Valens that his nephew
advanced by rapid marches at the head of the veteran and
victorious legions of Gaul, and to request, in the name of
Gratian and of the republic, that every dangerous and decisive
measure might be suspended, till the junction of the two emperors
should insure the success of the Gothic war. But the feeble
sovereign of the East was actuated only by the fatal illusions of
pride and jealousy. He disdained the importunate advice; he
rejected the humiliating aid; he secretly compared the
ignominious, at least the inglorious, period of his own reign,
with the fame of a beardless youth; and Valens rushed into the
field, to erect his imaginary trophy, before the diligence of his
colleague could usurp any share of the triumphs of the day.
[Footnote 88: Moratus paucissimos dies, seditione popularium
levium pulsus Ammian. xxxi. 11. Socrates (l. iv. c. 38) supplies
the dates and some circumstances.

Note: Compare fragment of Eunapius. Mai, 272, in Niebuhr,
p. 77. - M]
[Footnote 89: Vivosque omnes circa Mutinam, Regiumque, et Parmam,
Italica oppida, rura culturos exterminavit. Ammianus, xxxi. 9.
Those cities and districts, about ten years after the colony of
the Taifalae, appear in a very desolate state. See Muratori,
Dissertazioni sopra le Antichita Italiane, tom. i. Dissertat.
xxi. p. 354.]

[Footnote 90: Ammian. xxxi. 11. Zosimus, l. iv. p. 228 - 230.
The latter expatiates on the desultory exploits of Sebastian, and
despatches, in a few lines, the important battle of Hadrianople.
According to the ecclesiastical critics, who hate Sebastian, the
praise of Zosimus is disgrace, (Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs,
tom. v. p. 121.) His prejudice and ignorance undoubtedly render
him a very questionable judge of merit.]
On the ninth of August, a day which has deserved to be
marked among the most inauspicious of the Roman Calendar, ^91 the
emperor Valens, leaving, under a strong guard, his baggage and
military treasure, marched from Hadrianople to attack the Goths,
who were encamped about twelve miles from the city. ^92 By some
mistake of the orders, or some ignorance of the ground, the right
wing, or column of cavalry arrived in sight of the enemy, whilst
the left was still at a considerable distance; the soldiers were
compelled, in the sultry heat of summer, to precipitate their
pace; and the line of battle was formed with tedious confusion
and irregular delay. The Gothic cavalry had been detached to
forage in the adjacent country; and Fritigern still continued to
practise his customary arts. He despatched messengers of peace,
made proposals, required hostages, and wasted the hours, till the
Romans, exposed without shelter to the burning rays of the sun,
were exhausted by thirst, hunger, and intolerable fatigue. The
emperor was persuaded to send an ambassador to the Gothic camp;
the zeal of Richomer, who alone had courage to accept the
dangerous commission, was applauded; and the count of the
domestics, adorned with the splendid ensigns of his dignity, had
proceeded some way in the space between the two armies, when he
was suddenly recalled by the alarm of battle. The hasty and
imprudent attack was made by Bacurius the Iberian, who commanded
a body of archers and targeteers; and as they advanced with
rashness, they retreated with loss and disgrace. In the same
moment, the flying squadrons of Alatheus and Saphrax, whose
return was anxiously expected by the general of the Goths,
descended like a whirlwind from the hills, swept across the
plain, and added new terrors to the tumultuous, but irresistible
charge of the Barbarian host. The event of the battle of
Hadrianople, so fatal to Valens and to the empire, may be
described in a few words: the Roman cavalry fled; the infantry
was abandoned, surrounded, and cut in pieces. The most skilful
evolutions, the firmest courage, are scarcely sufficient to
extricate a body of foot, encompassed, on an open plain, by
superior numbers of horse; but the troops of Valens, oppressed by
the weight of the enemy and their own fears, were crowded into a
narrow space, where it was impossible for them to extend their
ranks, or even to use, with effect, their swords and javelins.
In the midst of tumult, of slaughter, and of dismay, the emperor,
deserted by his guards and wounded, as it was supposed, with an
arrow, sought protection among the Lancearii and the Mattiarii,
who still maintained their ground with some appearance of order
and firmness. His faithful generals, Trajan and Victor, who
perceived his danger, loudly exclaimed that all was lost, unless
the person of the emperor could be saved. Some troops, animated
by their exhortation, advanced to his relief: they found only a
bloody spot, covered with a heap of broken arms and mangled
bodies, without being able to discover their unfortunate prince,
either among the living or the dead. Their search could not
indeed be successful, if there is any truth in the circumstances
with which some historians have related the death of the emperor.

By the care of his attendants, Valens was removed from the field
of battle to a neighboring cottage, where they attempted to dress
his wound, and to provide for his future safety. But this humble
retreat was instantly surrounded by the enemy: they tried to
force the door, they were provoked by a discharge of arrows from
the roof, till at length, impatient of delay, they set fire to a
pile of dry magots, and consumed the cottage with the Roman
emperor and his train. Valens perished in the flames; and a
youth, who dropped from the window, alone escaped, to attest the
melancholy tale, and to inform the Goths of the inestimable prize
which they had lost by their own rashness. A great number of
brave and distinguished officers perished in the battle of
Hadrianople, which equalled in the actual loss, and far surpassed
in the fatal consequences, the misfortune which Rome had formerly
sustained in the fields of Cannae. ^93 Two master-generals of the
cavalry and infantry, two great officers of the palace, and
thirty-five tribunes, were found among the slain; and the death
of Sebastian might satisfy the world, that he was the victim, as
well as the author, of the public calamity. Above two thirds of
the Roman army were destroyed: and the darkness of the night was
esteemed a very favorable circumstance, as it served to conceal
the flight of the multitude, and to protect the more orderly
retreat of Victor and Richomer, who alone, amidst the general
consternation, maintained the advantage of calm courage and
regular discipline. ^94

[Footnote 91: Ammianus (xxxi. 12, 13) almost alone describes the
councils and actions which were terminated by the fatal battle of
Hadrianople. We might censure the vices of his style, the
disorder and perplexity of his narrative: but we must now take
leave of this impartial historian; and reproach is silenced by
our regret for such an irreparable loss.]
[Footnote 92: The difference of the eight miles of Ammianus, and
the twelve of Idatius, can only embarrass those critics (Valesius
ad loc.,) who suppose a great army to be a mathematical point,
without space or dimensions.]

[Footnote 93: Nec ulla annalibus, praeter Cannensem pugnam, ita
ad internecionem res legitur gesta. Ammian. xxxi. 13. According
to the grave Polybius, no more than 370 horse, and 3,000 foot,
escaped from the field of Cannae: 10,000 were made prisoners; and
the number of the slain amounted to 5,630 horse, and 70,000 foot,
(Polyb. l. iii. p 371, edit. Casaubon, 8vo.) Livy (xxii. 49) is
somewhat less bloody: he slaughters only 2,700 horse, and 40,000
foot. The Roman army was supposed to consist of 87,200 effective
men, (xxii. 36.)]

[Footnote 94: We have gained some faint light from Jerom, (tom.
i. p. 26 and in Chron. p. 188,) Victor, (in Epitome,) Orosius,
(l. vii. c. 33, p. 554,) Jornandes, (c. 27,) Zosimus, (l. iv. p.
230,) Socrates, (l. iv. c. 38,) Sozomen, (l. vi. c. 40,) Idatius,
(in Chron.) But their united evidence, if weighed against
Ammianus alone, is light and unsubstantial.]
While the impressions of grief and terror were still recent
in the minds of men, the most celebrated rhetorician of the age
composed the funeral oration of a vanquished army, and of an
unpopular prince, whose throne was already occupied by a
stranger. "There are not wanting," says the candid Libanius,
"those who arraign the prudence of the emperor, or who impute the
public misfortune to the want of courage and discipline in the
troops. For my own part, I reverence the memory of their former
exploits: I reverence the glorious death, which they bravely
received, standing, and fighting in their ranks: I reverence the
field of battle, stained with their blood, and the blood of the
Barbarians. Those honorable marks have been already washed away
by the rains; but the lofty monuments of their bones, the bones
of generals, of centurions, and of valiant warriors, claim a
longer period of duration. The king himself fought and fell in
the foremost ranks of the battle. His attendants presented him
with the fleetest horses of the Imperial stable, that would soon
have carried him beyond the pursuit of the enemy. They vainly
pressed him to reserve his important life for the future service
of the republic. He still declared that he was unworthy to
survive so many of the bravest and most faithful of his subjects;
and the monarch was nobly buried under a mountain of the slain.
Let none, therefore, presume to ascribe the victory of the
Barbarians to the fear, the weakness, or the imprudence, of the
Roman troops. The chiefs and the soldiers were animated by the
virtue of their ancestors, whom they equalled in discipline and
the arts of war. Their generous emulation was supported by the
love of glory, which prompted them to contend at the same time
with heat and thirst, with fire and the sword; and cheerfully to
embrace an honorable death, as their refuge against flight and
infamy. The indignation of the gods has been the only cause of
the success of our enemies." The truth of history may disclaim
some parts of this panegyric, which cannot strictly be reconciled
with the character of Valens, or the circumstances of the battle:
but the fairest commendation is due to the eloquence, and still
more to the generosity, of the sophist of Antioch. ^95

[Footnote 95: Libanius de ulciscend. Julian. nece, c. 3, in
Fabricius, Bibliot Graec. tom. vii. p. 146 - 148.]

The pride of the Goths was elated by this memorable victory;
but their avarice was disappointed by the mortifying discovery,
that the richest part of the Imperial spoil had been within the
walls of Hadrianople. They hastened to possess the reward of
their valor; but they were encountered by the remains of a
vanquished army, with an intrepid resolution, which was the
effect of their despair, and the only hope of their safety. The
walls of the city, and the ramparts of the adjacent camp, were
lined with military engines, that threw stones of an enormous
weight; and astonished the ignorant Barbarians by the noise, and
velocity, still more than by the real effects, of the discharge.
The soldiers, the citizens, the provincials, the domestics of the
palace, were united in the danger, and in the defence: the
furious assault of the Goths was repulsed; their secret arts of
treachery and treason were discovered; and, after an obstinate
conflict of many hours, they retired to their tents; convinced,
by experience, that it would be far more advisable to observe the
treaty, which their sagacious leader had tacitly stipulated with
the fortifications of great and populous cities. After the hasty
and impolitic massacre of three hundred deserters, an act of
justice extremely useful to the discipline of the Roman armies,
the Goths indignantly raised the siege of Hadrianople. The scene
of war and tumult was instantly converted into a silent solitude:
the multitude suddenly disappeared; the secret paths of the woods
and mountains were marked with the footsteps of the trembling
fugitives, who sought a refuge in the distant cities of Illyricum
and Macedonia; and the faithful officers of the household, and
the treasury, cautiously proceeded in search of the emperor, of
whose death they were still ignorant. The tide of the Gothic
inundation rolled from the walls of Hadrianople to the suburbs of
Constantinople. The Barbarians were surprised with the splendid
appearance of the capital of the East, the height and extent of
the walls, the myriads of wealthy and affrighted citizens who
crowded the ramparts, and the various prospect of the sea and
land. While they gazed with hopeless desire on the inaccessible
beauties of Constantinople, a sally was made from one of the
gates by a party of Saracens, ^96 who had been fortunately
engaged in the service of Valens. The cavalry of Scythia was
forced to yield to the admirable swiftness and spirit of the
Arabian horses: their riders were skilled in the evolutions of
irregular war; and the Northern Barbarians were astonished and
dismayed, by the inhuman ferocity of the Barbarians of the South.

A Gothic soldier was slain by the dagger of an Arab; and the
hairy, naked savage, applying his lips to the wound, expressed a
horrid delight, while he sucked the blood of his vanquished
enemy. ^97 The army of the Goths, laden with the spoils of the
wealthy suburbs and the adjacent territory, slowly moved, from
the Bosphorus, to the mountains which form the western boundary
of Thrace. The important pass of Succi was betrayed by the fear,
or the misconduct, of Maurus; and the Barbarians, who no longer
had any resistance to apprehend from the scattered and vanquished
troops of the East, spread themselves over the face of a fertile
and cultivated country, as far as the confines of Italy and the
Hadriatic Sea. ^98

[Footnote 96: Valens had gained, or rather purchased, the
friendship of the Saracens, whose vexatious inroads were felt on
the borders of Phoenicia, Palestine, and Egypt. The Christian
faith had been lately introduced among a people, reserved, in a
future age, to propagate another religion, (Tillemont, Hist. des
Empereurs, tom. v. p. 104, 106, 141. Mem. Eccles. tom. vii. p.

[Footnote 97: Crinitus quidam, nudus omnia praeter pubem,
subraunum et ugubre strepens. Ammian. xxxi. 16, and Vales. ad
loc. The Arabs often fought naked; a custom which may be
ascribed to their sultry climate, and ostentatious bravery. The
description of this unknown savage is the lively portrait of
Derar, a name so dreadful to the Christians of Syria. See
Ockley's Hist. of the Saracens, vol. i. p. 72, 84, 87.]

[Footnote 98: The series of events may still be traced in the
last pages of Ammianus, (xxxi. 15, 16.) Zosimus, (l. iv. p. 227,
231,) whom we are now reduced to cherish, misplaces the sally of
the Arabs before the death of Valens. Eunapius (in Excerpt.
Legat. p. 20) praises the fertility of Thrace, Macedonia, &c.]

The Romans, who so coolly, and so concisely, mention the
acts of justice which were exercised by the legions, ^99 reserve
their compassion, and their eloquence, for their own sufferings,
when the provinces were invaded, and desolated, by the arms of
the successful Barbarians. The simple circumstantial narrative
(did such a narrative exist) of the ruin of a single town, of the
misfortunes of a single family, ^100 might exhibit an interesting
and instructive picture of human manners: but the tedious
repetition of vague and declamatory complaints would fatigue the
attention of the most patient reader. The same censure may be
applied, though not perhaps in an equal degree, to the profane,
and the ecclesiastical, writers of this unhappy period; that
their minds were inflamed by popular and religious animosity; and
that the true size and color of every object is falsified by the
exaggerations of their corrupt eloquence. The vehement Jerom
^101 might justly deplore the calamities inflicted by the Goths,
and their barbarous allies, on his native country of Pannonia,
and the wide extent of the provinces, from the walls of
Constantinople to the foot of the Julian Alps; the rapes, the
massacres, the conflagrations; and, above all, the profanation of
the churches, that were turned into stables, and the contemptuous
treatment of the relics of holy martyrs. But the Saint is surely
transported beyond the limits of nature and history, when he
affirms, "that, in those desert countries, nothing was left
except the sky and the earth; that, after the destruction of the
cities, and the extirpation of the human race, the land was
overgrown with thick forests and inextricable brambles; and that
the universal desolation, announced by the prophet Zephaniah, was
accomplished, in the scarcity of the beasts, the birds, and even
of the fish." These complaints were pronounced about twenty years
after the death of Valens; and the Illyrian provinces, which were
constantly exposed to the invasion and passage of the Barbarians,
still continued, after a calamitous period of ten centuries, to
supply new materials for rapine and destruction. Could it even
be supposed, that a large tract of country had been left without
cultivation and without inhabitants, the consequences might not
have been so fatal to the inferior productions of animated
nature. The useful and feeble animals, which are nourished by
the hand of man, might suffer and perish, if they were deprived
of his protection; but the beasts of the forest, his enemies or
his victims, would multiply in the free and undisturbed
possession of their solitary domain. The various tribes that
people the air, or the waters, are still less connected with the
fate of the human species; and it is highly probable that the
fish of the Danube would have felt more terror and distress, from
the approach of a voracious pike, than from the hostile inroad of
a Gothic army.

[Footnote 99: Observe with how much indifference Caesar relates,
in the Commentaries of the Gallic war, that he put to death the
whole senate of the Veneti, who had yielded to his mercy, (iii.
16;) that he labored to extirpate the whole nation of the
Eburones, (vi. 31;) that forty thousand persons were massacred at
Bourges by the just revenge of his soldiers, who spared neither
age nor sex, (vii. 27,) &c.]

[Footnote 100: Such are the accounts of the sack of Magdeburgh,
by the ecclesiastic and the fisherman, which Mr. Harte has
transcribed, (Hist. of Gustavus Adolphus, vol. i. p. 313 - 320,)
with some apprehension of violating the dignity of history.]

[Footnote 101: Et vastatis urbibus, hominibusque interfectis,
solitudinem et raritatem bestiarum quoque fieri, et volatilium,
pisciumque: testis Illyricum est, testis Thracia, testis in quo
ortus sum solum, (Pannonia;) ubi praeter coelum et terram, et
crescentes vepres, et condensa sylvarum cuncta perierunt. Tom.
vii. p. 250, l, Cap. Sophonias and tom. i. p. 26.]

Chapter XXVI: Progress of The Huns.

Part V.

Whatever may have been the just measure of the calamities of
Europe, there was reason to fear that the same calamities would
soon extend to the peaceful countries of Asia. The sons of the
Goths had been judiciously distributed through the cities of the
East; and the arts of education were employed to polish, and
subdue, the native fierceness of their temper. In the space of
about twelve years, their numbers had continually increased; and
the children, who, in the first emigration, were sent over the
Hellespont, had attained, with rapid growth, the strength and
spirit of perfect manhood. ^102 It was impossible to conceal from
their knowledge the events of the Gothic war; and, as those
daring youths had not studied the language of dissimulation, they
betrayed their wish, their desire, perhaps their intention, to
emulate the glorious example of their fathers The danger of the
times seemed to justify the jealous suspicions of the
provincials; and these suspicions were admitted as unquestionable
evidence, that the Goths of Asia had formed a secret and
dangerous conspiracy against the public safety. The death of
Valens had left the East without a sovereign; and Julius, who
filled the important station of master-general of the troops,
with a high reputation of diligence and ability, thought it his
duty to consult the senate of Constantinople; which he
considered, during the vacancy of the throne, as the
representative council of the nation. As soon as he had obtained
the discretionary power of acting as he should judge most
expedient for the good of the republic, he assembled the
principal officers, and privately concerted effectual measures
for the execution of his bloody design. An order was immediately
promulgated, that, on a stated day, the Gothic youth should
assemble in the capital cities of their respective provinces;
and, as a report was industriously circulated, that they were
summoned to receive a liberal gift of lands and money, the
pleasing hope allayed the fury of their resentment, and, perhaps,
suspended the motions of the conspiracy. On the appointed day,
the unarmed crowd of the Gothic youth was carefully collected in
the square or Forum; the streets and avenues were occupied by the
Roman troops, and the roofs of the houses were covered with
archers and slingers. At the same hour, in all the cities of the
East, the signal was given of indiscriminate slaughter; and the
provinces of Asia were delivered by the cruel prudence of Julius,
from a domestic enemy, who, in a few months, might have carried
fire and sword from the Hellespont to the Euphrates. ^103 The
urgent consideration of the public safety may undoubtedly
authorize the violation of every positive law. How far that, or
any other, consideration may operate to dissolve the natural
obligations of humanity and justice, is a doctrine of which I
still desire to remain ignorant.
[Footnote 102: Eunapius (in Excerpt. Legat. p. 20) foolishly
supposes a praeternatural growth of the young Goths, that he may
introduce Cadmus's armed men, who sprang from the dragon's teeth,
&c. Such was the Greek eloquence of the times.]

[Footnote 103: Ammianus evidently approves this execution,
efficacia velox et salutaris, which concludes his work, (xxxi.
16.) Zosimus, who is curious and copious, (l. iv. p. 233 - 236,)
mistakes the date, and labors to find the reason, why Julius did
not consult the emperor Theodosius who had not yet ascended the
throne of the East.]

The emperor Gratian was far advanced on his march towards
the plains of Hadrianople, when he was informed, at first by the
confused voice of fame, and afterwards by the more accurate
reports of Victor and Richomer, that his impatient colleague had
been slain in battle, and that two thirds of the Roman army were
exterminated by the sword of the victorious Goths. Whatever
resentment the rash and jealous vanity of his uncle might
deserve, the resentment of a generous mind is easily subdued by
the softer emotions of grief and compassion; and even the sense
of pity was soon lost in the serious and alarming consideration
of the state of the republic. Gratian was too late to assist, he
was too weak to revenge, his unfortunate colleague; and the
valiant and modest youth felt himself unequal to the support of a
sinking world. A formidable tempest of the Barbarians of Germany
seemed ready to burst over the provinces of Gaul; and the mind of
Gratian was oppressed and distracted by the administration of the
Western empire. In this important crisis, the government of the
East, and the conduct of the Gothic war, required the undivided
attention of a hero and a statesman. A subject invested with
such ample command would not long have preserved his fidelity to
a distant benefactor; and the Imperial council embraced the wise
and manly resolution of conferring an obligation, rather than of
yielding to an insult. It was the wish of Gratian to bestow the
purple as the reward of virtue; but, at the age of nineteen, it
is not easy for a prince, educated in the supreme rank, to
understand the true characters of his ministers and generals. He
attempted to weigh, with an impartial hand, their various merits
and defects; and, whilst he checked the rash confidence of
ambition, he distrusted the cautious wisdom which despaired of
the republic. As each moment of delay diminished something of
the power and resources of the future sovereign of the East, the
situation of the times would not allow a tedious debate. The
choice of Gratian was soon declared in favor of an exile, whose
father, only three years before, had suffered, under the sanction
of his authority, an unjust and ignominious death. The great
Theodosius, a name celebrated in history, and dear to the
Catholic church, ^104 was summoned to the Imperial court, which
had gradually retreated from the confines of Thrace to the more
secure station of Sirmium. Five months after the death of
Valens, the emperor Gratian produced before the assembled troops
his colleague and their master; who, after a modest, perhaps a
sincere, resistance, was compelled to accept, amidst the general
acclamations, the diadem, the purple, and the equal title of
Augustus. ^105 The provinces of Thrace, Asia, and Egypt, over
which Valens had reigned, were resigned to the administration of
the new emperor; but, as he was specially intrusted with the
conduct of the Gothic war, the Illyrian praefecture was
dismembered; and the two great dioceses of Dacia and Macedonia
were added to the dominions of the Eastern empire. ^106

[Footnote 104: A life of Theodosius the Great was composed in the
last century, (Paris, 1679, in 4to-1680, 12mo.,) to inflame the
mind of the young Dauphin with Catholic zeal. The author,
Flechier, afterwards bishop of Nismes, was a celebrated preacher;
and his history is adorned, or tainted, with pulpit eloquence;
but he takes his learning from Baronius, and his principles from
St. Ambrose and St Augustin.]

[Footnote 105: The birth, character, and elevation of Theodosius
are marked in Pacatus, (in Panegyr. Vet. xii. 10, 11, 12,)
Themistius, (Orat. xiv. p. 182,) Zosimus, l. iv. p. 231,)
Augustin. (de Civitat. Dei. v. 25,) Orosius, (l. vii. c. 34,)
Sozomen, (l. vii. c. 2,) Socrates, (l. v. c. 2,) Theodoret, (l.
v. c. 5,) Philostorgius, (l. ix. c. 17, with Godefroy, p. 393,)
the Epitome of Victor, and the Chronicles of Prosper, Idatius,
and Marcellinus, in the Thesaurus Temporum of Scaliger.

Note: Add a hostile fragment of Eunapius. Mai, p. 273, in
Niebuhr, p 178 - M.]

[Footnote 106: Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, tom. v. p. 716,
The same province, and perhaps the same city, ^107 which had
given to the throne the virtues of Trajan, and the talents of
Hadrian, was the orignal seat of another family of Spaniards,
who, in a less fortunate age, possessed, near fourscore years,
the declining empire of Rome. ^108 They emerged from the
obscurity of municipal honors by the active spirit of the elder
Theodosius, a general whose exploits in Britain and Africa have
formed one of the most splendid parts of the annals of
Valentinian. The son of that general, who likewise bore the name
of Theodosius, was educated, by skilful preceptors, in the
liberal studies of youth; but he was instructed in the art of war
by the tender care and severe discipline of his father. ^109
Under the standard of such a leader, young Theodosius sought
glory and knowledge, in the most distant scenes of military
action; inured his constitution to the difference of seasons and
climates; distinguished his valor by sea and land; and observed
the various warfare of the Scots, the Saxons, and the Moors. His
own merit, and the recommendation of the conqueror of Africa,
soon raised him to a separate command; and, in the station of
Duke of Misaea, he vanquished an army of Sarmatians; saved the
province; deserved the love of the soldiers; and provoked the
envy of the court. ^110 His rising fortunes were soon blasted by
the disgrace and execution of his illustrious father; and
Theodosius obtained, as a favor, the permission of retiring to a
private life in his native province of Spain. He displayed a
firm and temperate character in the ease with which he adapted
himself to this new situation. His time was almost equally
divided between the town and country; the spirit, which had
animated his public conduct, was shown in the active and
affectionate performance of every social duty; and the diligence
of the soldier was profitably converted to the improvement of his
ample patrimony, ^111 which lay between Valladolid and Segovia,
in the midst of a fruitful district, still famous for a most
exquisite breed of sheep. ^112 From the innocent, but humble
labors of his farm, Theodosius was transported, in less than four
months, to the throne of the Eastern empire; and the whole period
of the history of the world will not perhaps afford a similar
example, of an elevation at the same time so pure and so
honorable. The princes who peaceably inherit the sceptre of
their fathers, claim and enjoy a legal right, the more secure as
it is absolutely distinct from the merits of their personal
characters. The subjects, who, in a monarchy, or a popular
state, acquire the possession of supreme power, may have raised
themselves, by the superiority either of genius or virtue, above
the heads of their equals; but their virtue is seldom exempt from
ambition; and the cause of the successful candidate is frequently
stained by the guilt of conspiracy, or civil war. Even in those
governments which allow the reigning monarch to declare a
colleague or a successor, his partial choice, which may be
influenced by the blindest passions, is often directed to an
unworthy object But the most suspicious malignity cannot ascribe
to Theodosius, in his obscure solitude of Caucha, the arts, the
desires, or even the hopes, of an ambitious statesman; and the
name of the Exile would long since have been forgotten, if his
genuine and distinguished virtues had not left a deep impression
in the Imperial court. During the season of prosperity, he had
been neglected; but, in the public distress, his superior merit
was universally felt and acknowledged. What confidence must have
been reposed in his integrity, since Gratian could trust, that a
pious son would forgive, for the sake of the republic, the murder
of his father! What expectations must have been formed of his
abilities to encourage the hope, that a single man could save,
and restore, the empire of the East! Theodosius was invested with
the purple in the thirty-third year of his age. The vulgar gazed
with admiration on the manly beauty of his face, and the graceful
majesty of his person, which they were pleased to compare with
the pictures and medals of the emperor Trajan; whilst intelligent
observers discovered, in the qualities of his heart and
understanding, a more important resemblance to the best and
greatest of the Roman princes.

[Footnote 107: Italica, founded by Scipio Africanus for his
wounded veterans of Italy. The ruins still appear, about a
league above Seville, but on the opposite bank of the river. See
the Hispania Illustrata of Nonius, a short though valuable
treatise, c. xvii. p. 64 - 67.]
[Footnote 108: I agree with Tillemont (Hist. des Empereurs, tom.
v. p. 726) in suspecting the royal pedigree, which remained a
secret till the promotion of Theodosius. Even after that event,
the silence of Pacatus outweighs the venal evidence of
Themistius, Victor, and Claudian, who connect the family of
Theodosius with the blood of Trajan and Hadrian.]
[Footnote 109: Pacatas compares, and consequently prefers, the
youth of Theodosius to the military education of Alexander,
Hannibal, and the second Africanus; who, like him, had served
under their fathers, (xii. 8.)]
[Footnote 110: Ammianus (xxix. 6) mentions this victory of
Theodosius Junior Dux Maesiae, prima etiam tum lanugine juvenis,
princeps postea perspectissimus. The same fact is attested by
Themistius and Zosimus but Theodoret, (l. v. c. 5,) who adds some
curious circumstances, strangely applies it to the time of the

[Footnote 111: Pacatus (in Panegyr. Vet. xii. 9) prefers the
rustic life of Theodosius to that of Cincinnatus; the one was the
effect of choice, the other of poverty.]

[Footnote 112: M. D'Anville (Geographie Ancienne, tom. i. p. 25)
has fixed the situation of Caucha, or Coca, in the old province
of Gallicia, where Zosimus and Idatius have placed the birth, or
patrimony, of Theodosius.]
It is not without the most sincere regret, that I must now
take leave of an accurate and faithful guide, who has composed
the history of his own times, without indulging the prejudices
and passions, which usually affect the mind of a contemporary.
Ammianus Marcellinus, who terminates his useful work with the
defeat and death of Valens, recommends the more glorious subject
of the ensuing reign to the youthful vigor and eloquence of the
rising generation. ^113 The rising generation was not disposed to
accept his advice or to imitate his example; ^114 and, in the
study of the reign of Theodosius, we are reduced to illustrate
the partial narrative of Zosimus, by the obscure hints of
fragments and chronicles, by the figurative style of poetry or
panegyric, and by the precarious assistance of the ecclesiastical
writers, who, in the heat of religious faction, are apt to
despise the profane virtues of sincerity and moderation.
Conscious of these disadvantages, which will continue to involve
a considerable portion of the decline and fall of the Roman
empire, I shall proceed with doubtful and timorous steps. Yet I
may boldly pronounce, that the battle of Hadrianople was never
revenged by any signal or decisive victory of Theodosius over the
Barbarians: and the expressive silence of his venal orators may
be confirmed by the observation of the condition and
circumstances of the times. The fabric of a mighty state, which
has been reared by the labors of successive ages, could not be
overturned by the misfortune of a single day, if the fatal power
of the imagination did not exaggerate the real measure of the
calamity. The loss of forty thousand Romans, who fell in the
plains of Hadrianople, might have been soon recruited in the
populous provinces of the East, which contained so many millions
of inhabitants. The courage of a soldier is found to be the
cheapest, and most common, quality of human nature; and
sufficient skill to encounter an undisciplined foe might have
been speedily taught by the care of the surviving centurions. If
the Barbarians were mounted on the horses, and equipped with the
armor, of their vanquished enemies, the numerous studs of
Cappadocia and Spain would have supplied new squadrons of
cavalry; the thirty-four arsenals of the empire were plentifully
stored with magazines of offensive and defensive arms: and the
wealth of Asia might still have yielded an ample fund for the
expenses of the war. But the effects which were produced by the
battle of Hadrianople on the minds of the Barbarians and of the
Romans, extended the victory of the former, and the defeat of the
latter, far beyond the limits of a single day. A Gothic chief
was heard to declare, with insolent moderation, that, for his own
part, he was fatigued with slaughter: but that he was astonished
how a people, who fled before him like a flock of sheep, could
still presume to dispute the possession of their treasures and
provinces. ^115 The same terrors which the name of the Huns had
spread among the Gothic tribes, were inspired, by the formidable
name of the Goths, among the subjects and soldiers of the Roman
empire. ^116 If Theodosius, hastily collecting his scattered
forces, had led them into the field to encounter a victorious
enemy, his army would have been vanquished by their own fears;
and his rashness could not have been excused by the chance of
success. But the great Theodosius, an epithet which he honorably
deserved on this momentous occasion, conducted himself as the
firm and faithful guardian of the republic. He fixed his
head-quarters at Thessalonica, the capital of the Macedonian
diocese; ^117 from whence he could watch the irregular motions of
the Barbarians, and direct the operations of his lieutenants,
from the gates of Constantinople to the shores of the Hadriatic.
The fortifications and garrisons of the cities were strengthened;
and the troops, among whom a sense of order and discipline was
revived, were insensibly emboldened by the confidence of their
own safety. From these secure stations, they were encouraged to
make frequent sallies on the Barbarians, who infested the
adjacent country; and, as they were seldom allowed to engage,
without some decisive superiority, either of ground or of
numbers, their enterprises were, for the most part, successful;
and they were soon convinced, by their own experience, of the
possibility of vanquishing their invincible enemies. The
detachments of these separate garrisons were generally united
into small armies; the same cautious measures were pursued,
according to an extensive and well-concerted plan of operations;
the events of each day added strength and spirit to the Roman
arms; and the artful diligence of the emperor, who circulated the
most favorable reports of the success of the war, contributed to
subdue the pride of the Barbarians, and to animate the hopes and
courage of his subjects. If, instead of this faint and imperfect
outline, we could accurately represent the counsels and actions
of Theodosius, in four successive campaigns, there is reason to
believe, that his consummate skill would deserve the applause of
every military reader. The republic had formerly been saved by
the delays of Fabius; and, while the splendid trophies of Scipio,
in the field of Zama, attract the eyes of posterity, the camps
and marches of the dictator among the hills of the Campania, may
claim a juster proportion of the solid and independent fame,
which the general is not compelled to share, either with fortune
or with his troops. Such was likewise the merit of Theodosius;
and the infirmities of his body, which most unseasonably
languished under a long and dangerous disease, could not oppress
the vigor of his mind, or divert his attention from the public
service. ^118

[Footnote 113: Let us hear Ammianus himself. Haec, ut miles
quondam et Graecus, a principatu Cassaris Nervae exorsus, adusque
Valentis inter, pro virium explicavi mensura: opus veritatem
professum nun quam, ut arbitror, sciens, silentio ausus
corrumpere vel mendacio. Scribant reliqua potiores aetate,
doctrinisque florentes. Quos id, si libuerit, aggressuros,
procudere linguas ad majores moneo stilos. Ammian. xxxi. 16. The
first thirteen books, a superficial epitome of two hundred and
fifty- seven years, are now lost: the last eighteen, which
contain no more than twenty-five years, still preserve the
copious and authentic history of his own times.]

[Footnote 114: Ammianus was the last subject of Rome who composed
a profane history in the Latin language. The East, in the next
century, produced some rhetorical historians, Zosimus,
Olympiedorus, Malchus, Candidus &c. See Vossius de Historicis
Graecis, l. ii. c. 18, de Historicis Latinis l. ii. c. 10, &c.]

[Footnote 115: Chrysostom, tom. i. p. 344, edit. Montfaucon. I
have verified and examined this passage: but I should never,
without the aid of Tillemont, (Hist. des Emp. tom. v. p. 152,)
have detected an historical anecdote, in a strange medley of
moral and mystic exhortations, addressed, by the preacher of
Antioch, to a young widow.]

[Footnote 116: Eunapius, in Excerpt. Legation. p. 21.]

[Footnote 117: See Godefroy's Chronology of the Laws. Codex
Theodos tom. l. Prolegomen. p. xcix. - civ.]

[Footnote 118: Most writers insist on the illness, and long
repose, of Theodosius, at Thessalonica: Zosimus, to diminish his
glory; Jornandes, to favor the Goths; and the ecclesiastical
writers, to introduce his baptism.]
The deliverance and peace of the Roman provinces ^119 was
the work of prudence, rather than of valor: the prudence of
Theodosius was seconded by fortune: and the emperor never failed
to seize, and to improve, every favorable circumstance. As long
as the superior genius of Fritigern preserved the union, and
directed the motions of the Barbarians, their power was not
inadequate to the conquest of a great empire. The death of that
hero, the predecessor and master of the renowned Alaric, relieved
an impatient multitude from the intolerable yoke of discipline
and discretion. The Barbarians, who had been restrained by his
authority, abandoned themselves to the dictates of their
passions; and their passions were seldom uniform or consistent.
An army of conquerors was broken into many disorderly bands of
savage robbers; and their blind and irregular fury was not less
pernicious to themselves, than to their enemies. Their
mischievous disposition was shown in the destruction of every
object which they wanted strength to remove, or taste to enjoy;
and they often consumed, with improvident rage, the harvests, or
the granaries, which soon afterwards became necessary for their
own subsistence. A spirit of discord arose among the independent
tribes and nations, which had been united only by the bands of a
loose and voluntary alliance. The troops of the Huns and the
Alani would naturally upbraid the flight of the Goths; who were
not disposed to use with moderation the advantages of their
fortune; the ancient jealousy of the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths
could not long be suspended; and the haughty chiefs still
remembered the insults and injuries, which they had reciprocally
offered, or sustained, while the nation was seated in the
countries beyond the Danube. The progress of domestic faction
abated the more diffusive sentiment of national animosity; and
the officers of Theodosius were instructed to purchase, with
liberal gifts and promises, the retreat or service of the
discontented party. The acquisition of Modar, a prince of the
royal blood of the Amali, gave a bold and faithful champion to
the cause of Rome. The illustrious deserter soon obtained the
rank of master-general, with an important command; surprised an
army of his countrymen, who were immersed in wine and sleep; and,
after a cruel slaughter of the astonished Goths, returned with an
immense spoil, and four thousand wagons, to the Imperial camp.
^120 In the hands of a skilful politician, the most different
means may be successfully applied to the same ends; and the peace
of the empire, which had been forwarded by the divisions, was
accomplished by the reunion, of the Gothic nation. Athanaric, who
had been a patient spectator of these extraordinary events, was
at length driven, by the chance of arms, from the dark recesses
of the woods of Caucaland. He no longer hesitated to pass the
Danube; and a very considerable part of the subjects of
Fritigern, who already felt the inconveniences of anarchy, were
easily persuaded to acknowledge for their king a Gothic Judge,
whose birth they respected, and whose abilities they had
frequently experienced. But age had chilled the daring spirit of
Athanaric; and, instead of leading his people to the field of
battle and victory, he wisely listened to the fair proposal of an
honorable and advantageous treaty. Theodosius, who was
acquainted with the merit and power of his new ally, condescended
to meet him at the distance of several miles from Constantinople;
and entertained him in the Imperial city, with the confidence of
a friend, and the magnificence of a monarch. "The Barbarian
prince observed, with curious attention, the variety of objects
which attracted his notice, and at last broke out into a sincere
and passionate exclamation of wonder. I now behold (said he)
what I never could believe, the glories of this stupendous
capital! And as he cast his eyes around, he viewed, and he
admired, the commanding situation of the city, the strength and
beauty of the walls and public edifices, the capacious harbor,
crowded with innumerable vessels, the perpetual concourse of
distant nations, and the arms and discipline of the troops.
Indeed, (continued Athanaric,) the emperor of the Romans is a god
upon earth; and the presumptuous man, who dares to lift his hand
against him, is guilty of his own blood." ^121 The Gothic king
did not long enjoy this splendid and honorable reception; and, as
temperance was not the virtue of his nation, it may justly be
suspected, that his mortal disease was contracted amidst the
pleasures of the Imperial banquets. But the policy of Theodosius
derived more solid benefit from the death, than he could have
expected from the most faithful services, of his ally. The
funeral of Athanaric was performed with solemn rites in the
capital of the East; a stately monument was erected to his
memory; and his whole army, won by the liberal courtesy, and
decent grief, of Theodosius, enlisted under the standard of the
Roman empire. ^122 The submission of so great a body of the
Visigoths was productive of the most salutary consequences; and
the mixed influence of force, of reason, and of corruption,
became every day more powerful, and more extensive. Each
independent chieftain hastened to obtain a separate treaty, from
the apprehension that an obstinate delay might expose him, alone
and unprotected, to the revenge, or justice, of the conqueror.
The general, or rather the final, capitulation of the Goths, may
be dated four years, one month, and twenty-five days, after the
defeat and death of the emperor Valens. ^123

[Footnote 119: Compare Themistius (Orat, xiv. p. 181) with
Zosimus (l. iv. p. 232,) Jornandes, (c. xxvii. p. 649,) and the
prolix Commentary of M. de Buat, (Hist. de Peuples, &c., tom. vi.
p. 477 - 552.) The Chronicles of Idatius and Marcellinus allude,
in general terms, to magna certamina, magna multaque praelia.
The two epithets are not easily reconciled.]
[Footnote 120: Zosimus (l. iv. p. 232) styles him a Scythian, a
name which the more recent Greeks seem to have appropriated to
the Goths.]
[Footnote 121: The reader will not be displeased to see the
original words of Jornandes, or the author whom he transcribed.
Regiam urbem ingressus est, miransque, En, inquit, cerno quod
saepe incredulus audiebam, famam videlicet tantae urbis. Et huc
illuc oculos volvens, nunc situm urbis, commeatumque navium, nunc
moenia clara pro spectans, miratur; populosque diversarum
gentium, quasi fonte in uno e diversis partibus scaturiente unda,
sic quoque militem ordinatum aspiciens; Deus, inquit, sine dubio
est terrenus Imperator, et quisquis adversus eum manum moverit,
ipse sui sanguinis reus existit Jornandes (c. xxviii. p. 650)
proceeds to mention his death and funeral.]

[Footnote 122: Jornandes, c. xxviii. p. 650. Even Zosimus (l. v.
p. 246) is compelled to approve the generosity of Theodosius, so
honorable to himself, and so beneficial to the public.]

[Footnote 123: The short, but authentic, hints in the Fasti of
Idatius (Chron. Scaliger. p. 52) are stained with contemporary
passion. The fourteenth oration of Themistius is a compliment to
Peace, and the consul Saturninus, (A.D. 383.)]

The provinces of the Danube had been already relieved from
the oppressive weight of the Gruthungi, or Ostrogoths, by the
voluntary retreat of Alatheus and Saphrax, whose restless spirit
had prompted them to seek new scenes of rapine and glory. Their
destructive course was pointed towards the West; but we must be
satisfied with a very obscure and imperfect knowledge of their
various adventures. The Ostrogoths impelled several of the
German tribes on the provinces of Gaul; concluded, and soon
violated, a treaty with the emperor Gratian; advanced into the
unknown countries of the North; and, after an interval of more
than four years, returned, with accumulated force, to the banks
of the Lower Danube. Their troops were recruited with the
fiercest warriors of Germany and Scythia; and the soldiers, or at
least the historians, of the empire, no longer recognized the
name and countenances of their former enemies. ^124 The general
who commanded the military and naval powers of the Thracian
frontier, soon perceived that his superiority would be
disadvantageous to the public service; and that the Barbarians,
awed by the presence of his fleet and legions, would probably
defer the passage of the river till the approaching winter. The
dexterity of the spies, whom he sent into the Gothic camp,
allured the Barbarians into a fatal snare. They were persuaded
that, by a bold attempt, they might surprise, in the silence and
darkness of the night, the sleeping army of the Romans; and the
whole multitude was hastily embarked in a fleet of three thousand
canoes. ^125 The bravest of the Ostrogoths led the van; the main
body consisted of the remainder of their subjects and soldiers;
and the women and children securely followed in the rear. One of
the nights without a moon had been selected for the execution of
their design; and they had almost reached the southern bank of
the Danube, in the firm confidence that they should find an easy
landing and an unguarded camp. But the progress of the
Barbarians was suddenly stopped by an unexpected obstacle a
triple line of vessels, strongly connected with each other, and
which formed an impenetrable chain of two miles and a half along
the river. While they struggled to force their way in the
unequal conflict, their right flank was overwhelmed by the
irresistible attack of a fleet of galleys, which were urged down
the stream by the united impulse of oars and of the tide. The
weight and velocity of those ships of war broke, and sunk, and
dispersed, the rude and feeble canoes of the Barbarians; their
valor was ineffectual; and Alatheus, the king, or general, of the
Ostrogoths, perished with his bravest troops, either by the sword
of the Romans, or in the waves of the Danube. The last division
of this unfortunate fleet might regain the opposite shore; but
the distress and disorder of the multitude rendered them alike
incapable, either of action or counsel; and they soon implored
the clemency of the victorious enemy. On this occasion, as well
as on many others, it is a difficult task to reconcile the
passions and prejudices of the writers of the age of Theodosius.
The partial and malignant historian, who misrepresents every
action of his reign, affirms, that the emperor did not appear in
the field of battle till the Barbarians had been vanquished by
the valor and conduct of his lieutenant Promotus. ^126 The
flattering poet, who celebrated, in the court of Honorius, the
glory of the father and of the son, ascribes the victory to the
personal prowess of Theodosius; and almost insinuates, that the
king of the Ostrogoths was slain by the hand of the emperor. ^127
The truth of history might perhaps be found in a just medium
between these extreme and contradictory assertions.
[Footnote 124: Zosimus, l. iv. p. 252.]

[Footnote 125: I am justified, by reason and example, in applying
this Indian name to the the Barbarians, the single trees hollowed
into the shape of a boat. Zosimus, l. iv. p. 253.]

Ausi Danubium quondam tranare Gruthungi
In lintres fregere nemus: ter mille ruebant
Per fluvium plenae cuneis immanibus alni.
Claudian, in iv. Cols. Hon. 623.]

[Footnote 126: Zosimus, l. iv. p. 252 - 255. He too frequently
betrays his poverty of judgment by disgracing the most serious
narratives with trifling and incredible circumstances.]

[Footnote 127: - Odothaei Regis opima
Retulit - Ver. 632.

The opima were the spoils which a Roman general could only win
from the king, or general, of the enemy, whom he had slain with
his own hands: and no more than three such examples are
celebrated in the victorious ages of Rome.]

The original treaty which fixed the settlement of the Goths,
ascertained their privileges, and stipulated their obligations,
would illustrate the history of Theodosius and his successors.
The series of their history has imperfectly preserved the spirit
and substance of this single agreement. ^128 The ravages of war
and tyranny had provided many large tracts of fertile but
uncultivated land for the use of those Barbarians who might not
disdain the practice of agriculture. A numerous colony of the
Visigoths was seated in Thrace; the remains of the Ostrogoths
were planted in Phrygia and Lydia; their immediate wants were
supplied by a distribution of corn and cattle; and their future
industry was encouraged by an exemption from tribute, during a
certain term of years. The Barbarians would have deserved to
feel the cruel and perfidious policy of the Imperial court, if
they had suffered themselves to be dispersed through the
provinces. They required, and they obtained, the sole possession
of the villages and districts assigned for their residence; they
still cherished and propagated their native manners and language;
asserted, in the bosom of despotism, the freedom of their
domestic government; and acknowledged the sovereignty of the
emperor, without submitting to the inferior jurisdiction of the
laws and magistrates of Rome. The hereditary chiefs of the
tribes and families were still permitted to command their
followers in peace and war; but the royal dignity was abolished;
and the generals of the Goths were appointed and removed at the
pleasure of the emperor. An army of forty thousand Goths was
maintained for the perpetual service of the empire of the East;
and those haughty troops, who assumed the title of Foederati, or
allies, were distinguished by their gold collars, liberal pay,
and licentious privileges. Their native courage was improved by
the use of arms and the knowledge of discipline; and, while the
republic was guarded, or threatened, by the doubtful sword of the
Barbarians, the last sparks of the military flame were finally
extinguished in the minds of the Romans. ^129 Theodosius had the
address to persuade his allies, that the conditions of peace,
which had been extorted from him by prudence and necessity, were
the voluntary expressions of his sincere friendship for the
Gothic nation. ^130 A different mode of vindication or apology
was opposed to the complaints of the people; who loudly censured
these shameful and dangerous concessions. ^131 The calamities of
the war were painted in the most lively colors; and the first
symptoms of the return of order, of plenty, and security, were
diligently exaggerated. The advocates of Theodosius could
affirm, with some appearance of truth and reason, that it was
impossible to extirpate so many warlike tribes, who were rendered
desperate by the loss of their native country; and that the
exhausted provinces would be revived by a fresh supply of
soldiers and husbandmen. The Barbarians still wore an angry and
hostile aspect; but the experience of past times might encourage
the hope, that they would acquire the habits of industry and
obedience; that their manners would be polished by time,
education, and the influence of Christianity; and that their
posterity would insensibly blend with the great body of the Roman
people. ^132

[Footnote 128: See Themistius, Orat. xvi. p. 211. Claudian (in
Eutrop. l. ii. 112) mentions the Phrygian colony: -

- Ostrogothis colitur mistisque Gruthungis
Phyrx ager -

and then proceeds to name the rivers of Lydia, the Pactolus,
and Herreus.]

[Footnote 129: Compare Jornandes, (c. xx. 27,) who marks the
condition and number of the Gothic Foederati, with Zosimus, (l.
iv. p. 258,) who mentions their golden collars; and Pacatus, (in
Panegyr. Vet. xii. 37,) who applauds, with false or foolish joy,
their bravery and discipline.]
[Footnote 130: Amator pacis generisque Gothorum, is the praise
bestowed by the Gothic historian, (c. xxix.,) who represents his
nation as innocent, peaceable men, slow to anger, and patient of
injuries. According to Livy, the Romans conquered the world in
their own defence.]

[Footnote 131: Besides the partial invectives of Zosimus, (always
discontented with the Christian reigns,) see the grave
representations which Synesius addresses to the emperor Arcadius,
(de Regno, p. 25, 26, edit. Petav.) The philosophic bishop of
Cyrene was near enough to judge; and he was sufficiently removed
from the temptation of fear or flattery.]

[Footnote 132: Themistius (Orat. xvi. p. 211, 212) composes an
elaborate and rational apology, which is not, however, exempt
from the puerilities of Greek rhetoric. Orpheus could only charm
the wild beasts of Thrace; but Theodosius enchanted the men and
women, whose predecessors in the same country had torn Orpheus in
pieces, &c.]

Notwithstanding these specious arguments, and these sanguine
expectations, it was apparent to every discerning eye, that the
Goths would long remain the enemies, and might soon become the
conquerors of the Roman empire. Their rude and insolent behavior
expressed their contempt of the citizens and provincials, whom
they insulted with impunity. ^133 To the zeal and valor of the
Barbarians Theodosius was indebted for the success of his arms:
but their assistance was precarious; and they were sometimes
seduced, by a treacherous and inconstant disposition, to abandon
his standard, at the moment when their service was the most
essential. During the civil war against Maximus, a great number
of Gothic deserters retired into the morasses of Macedonia,
wasted the adjacent provinces, and obliged the intrepid monarch
to expose his person, and exert his power, to suppress the rising
flame of rebellion. ^134 The public apprehensions were fortified
by the strong suspicion, that these tumults were not the effect
of accidental passion, but the result of deep and premeditated
design. It was generally believed, that the Goths had signed the
treaty of peace with a hostile and insidious spirit; and that
their chiefs had previously bound themselves, by a solemn and
secret oath, never to keep faith with the Romans; to maintain the
fairest show of loyalty and friendship, and to watch the
favorable moment of rapine, of conquest, and of revenge. But as
the minds of the Barbarians were not insensible to the power of
gratitude, several of the Gothic leaders sincerely devoted
themselves to the service of the empire, or, at least, of the
emperor; the whole nation was insensibly divided into two
opposite factions, and much sophistry was employed in
conversation and dispute, to compare the obligations of their
first, and second, engagements. The Goths, who considered
themselves as the friends of peace, of justice, and of Rome, were
directed by the authority of Fravitta, a valiant and honorable
youth, distinguished above the rest of his countrymen by the
politeness of his manners, the liberality of his sentiments, and
the mild virtues of social life. But the more numerous faction
adhered to the fierce and faithless Priulf, ^* who inflamed the
passions, and asserted the independence, of his warlike
followers. On one of the solemn festivals, when the chiefs of
both parties were invited to the Imperial table, they were
insensibly heated by wine, till they forgot the usual restraints
of discretion and respect, and betrayed, in the presence of
Theodosius, the fatal secret of their domestic disputes. The
emperor, who had been the reluctant witness of this extraordinary
controversy, dissembled his fears and resentment, and soon
dismissed the tumultuous assembly. Fravitta, alarmed and
exasperated by the insolence of his rival, whose departure from
the palace might have been the signal of a civil war, boldly
followed him; and, drawing his sword, laid Priulf dead at his
feet. Their companions flew to arms; and the faithful champion
of Rome would have been oppressed by superior numbers, if he had
not been protected by the seasonable interposition of the
Imperial guards. ^135 Such were the scenes of Barbaric rage,
which disgraced the palace and table of the Roman emperor; and,
as the impatient Goths could only be restrained by the firm and
temperate character of Theodosius, the public safety seemed to
depend on the life and abilities of a single man. ^136

[Footnote 133: Constantinople was deprived half a day of the
public allowance of bread, to expiate the murder of a Gothic
soldier: was the guilt of the people. Libanius, Orat. xii. p.
394, edit. Morel.]

[Footnote 134: Zosimus, l. iv. p. 267-271. He tells a long and
ridiculous story of the adventurous prince, who roved the country
with only five horsemen, of a spy whom they detected, whipped,
and killed in an old woman's cottage, &c.]

[Footnote *: Eunapius. - M.]

[Footnote 135: Compare Eunapius (in Excerpt. Legat. p. 21, 22)
with Zosimus, (l. iv. p. 279.) The difference of circumstances
and names must undoubtedly be applied to the same story.
Fravitta, or Travitta, was afterwards consul, (A.D. 401.) and
still continued his faithful services to the eldest son of
Theodosius. (Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, tom. v. p. 467.)]
[Footnote 136: Les Goths ravagerent tout depuis le Danube
jusqu'au Bosphore; exterminerent Valens et son armee; et ne
repasserent le Danube, que pour abandonner l'affreuse solitude
qu'ils avoient faite, (Oeuvres de Montesquieu, tom. iii. p. 479.
Considerations sur les Causes de la Grandeur et de la Decadence
des Romains, c. xvii.) The president Montesquieu seems ignorant
that the Goths, after the defeat of Valens, never abandoned the
Roman territory. It is now thirty years, says Claudian, (de Bello
Getico, 166, &c., A.D. 404,)
Ex quo jam patrios gens haec oblita Triones,
Atque Istrum transvecta semel, vestigia fixit
Threicio funesta solo -

the error is inexcusable; since it disguises the principal and
immediate cause of the fall of the Western empire of Rome.]


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