The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Edward Gibbon

Part 4 out of 15

That unfortunate monarch, after the loss of his capital,
applied himself to collect the remains of an army scattered,
rather than destroyed, by the preceding battle; and the hopes of
pillage attracted some Moorish bands to the standard of Gelimer.
He encamped in the fields of Bulla, four days' journey from
Carthage; insulted the capital, which he deprived of the use of
an aqueduct; proposed a high reward for the head of every Roman;
affected to spare the persons and property of his African
subjects, and secretly negotiated with the Arian sectaries and
the confederate Huns. Under these circumstances, the conquest of
Sardinia served only to aggravate his distress: he reflected,
with the deepest anguish, that he had wasted, in that useless
enterprise, five thousand of his bravest troops; and he read,
with grief and shame, the victorious letters of his brother Zano,
^* who expressed a sanguine confidence that the king, after the
example of their ancestors, had already chastised the rashness of
the Roman invader. "Alas! my brother," replied Gelimer, "Heaven
has declared against our unhappy nation. While you have subdued
Sardinia, we have lost Africa. No sooner did Belisarius appear
with a handful of soldiers, than courage and prosperity deserted
the cause of the Vandals. Your nephew Gibamund, your brother
Ammatas, have been betrayed to death by the cowardice of their
followers. Our horses, our ships, Carthage itself, and all
Africa, are in the power of the enemy. Yet the Vandals still
prefer an ignominious repose, at the expense of their wives and
children, their wealth and liberty. Nothing now remains, except
the fields of Bulla, and the hope of your valor. Abandon
Sardinia; fly to our relief; restore our empire, or perish by our
side." On the receipt of this epistle, Zano imparted his grief to
the principal Vandals; but the intelligence was prudently
concealed from the natives of the island. The troops embarked in
one hundred and twenty galleys at the port of Caghari, cast
anchor the third day on the confines of Mauritania, and hastily
pursued their march to join the royal standard in the camp of
Bulla. Mournful was the interview: the two brothers embraced;
they wept in silence; no questions were asked of the Sardinian
victory; no inquiries were made of the African misfortunes: they
saw before their eyes the whole extent of their calamities; and
the absence of their wives and children afforded a melancholy
proof that either death or captivity had been their lot. The
languid spirit of the Vandals was at length awakened and united
by the entreaties of their king, the example of Zano, and the
instant danger which threatened their monarchy and religion. The
military strength of the nation advanced to battle; and such was
the rapid increase, that before their army reached Tricameron,
about twenty miles from Carthage, they might boast, perhaps with
some exaggeration, that they surpassed, in a tenfold proportion,
the diminutive powers of the Romans. But these powers were under
the command of Belisarius; and, as he was conscious of their
superior merit, he permitted the Barbarians to surprise him at an
unseasonable hour. The Romans were instantly under arms; a
rivulet covered their front; the cavalry formed the first line,
which Belisarius supported in the centre, at the head of five
hundred guards; the infantry, at some distance, was posted in the
second line; and the vigilance of the general watched the
separate station and ambiguous faith of the Massagetae, who
secretly reserved their aid for the conquerors. The historian
has inserted, and the reader may easily supply, the speeches ^21
of the commanders, who, by arguments the most apposite to their
situation, inculcated the importance of victory, and the contempt
of life. Zano, with the troops which had followed him to the
conquest of Sardinia, was placed in the centre; and the throne of
Genseric might have stood, if the multitude of Vandals had
imitated their intrepid resolution. Casting away their lances and
missile weapons, they drew their swords, and expected the charge:
the Roman cavalry thrice passed the rivulet; they were thrice
repulsed; and the conflict was firmly maintained, till Zano fell,
and the standard of Belisarius was displayed. Gelimer retreated
to his camp; the Huns joined the pursuit; and the victors
despoiled the bodies of the slain. Yet no more than fifty Romans,
and eight hundred Vandals were found on the field of battle; so
inconsiderable was the carnage of a day, which extinguished a
nation, and transferred the empire of Africa. In the evening
Belisarius led his infantry to the attack of the camp; and the
pusillanimous flight of Gelimer exposed the vanity of his recent
declarations, that to the vanquished, death was a relief, life a
burden, and infamy the only object of terror. His departure was
secret; but as soon as the Vandals discovered that their king had
deserted them, they hastily dispersed, anxious only for their
personal safety, and careless of every object that is dear or
valuable to mankind. The Romans entered the camp without
resistance; and the wildest scenes of disorder were veiled in the
darkness and confusion of the night. Every Barbarian who met
their swords was inhumanly massacred; their widows and daughters,
as rich heirs, or beautiful concubines, were embraced by the
licentious soldiers; and avarice itself was almost satiated with
the treasures of gold and silver, the accumulated fruits of
conquest or economy in a long period of prosperity and peace. In
this frantic search, the troops, even of Belisarius, forgot their
caution and respect. Intoxicated with lust and rapine, they
explored, in small parties, or alone, the adjacent fields, the
woods, the rocks, and the caverns, that might possibly conceal
any desirable prize: laden with booty, they deserted their ranks,
and wandered without a guide, on the high road to Carthage; and
if the flying enemies had dared to return, very few of the
conquerors would have escaped. Deeply sensible of the disgrace
and danger, Belisarius passed an apprehensive night on the field
of victory: at the dawn of day, he planted his standard on a
hill, recalled his guardians and veterans, and gradually restored
the modesty and obedience of the camp. It was equally the
concern of the Roman general to subdue the hostile, and to save
the prostrate, Barbarian; and the suppliant Vandals, who could be
found only in churches, were protected by his authority,
disarmed, and separately confined, that they might neither
disturb the public peace, nor become the victims of popular
revenge. After despatching a light detachment to tread the
footsteps of Gelimer, he advanced, with his whole army, about ten
days' march, as far as Hippo Regius, which no longer possessed
the relics of St. Augustin. ^22 The season, and the certain
intelligence that the Vandal had fled to an inaccessible country
of the Moors, determined Belisarius to relinquish the vain
pursuit, and to fix his winter quarters at Carthage. From thence
he despatched his principal lieutenant, to inform the emperor,
that in the space of three months he had achieved the conquest of
[Footnote *: Gibbon had forgotten that the bearer of the
"victorious letters of his brother" had sailed into the port of
Carthage; and that the letters had fallen into the hands of the
Romans. Proc. Vandal. l. i. c. 23. - M.]
[Footnote 21: These orations always express the sense of the
times, and sometimes of the actors. I have condensed that sense,
and thrown away declamation.]

[Footnote 22: The relics of St. Augustin were carried by the
African bishops to their Sardinian exile, (A.D. 500;) and it was
believed, in the viiith century, that Liutprand, king of the
Lombards, transported them (A.D. 721) from Sardinia to Pavia. In
the year 1695, the Augustan friars of that city found a brick
arch, marble coffin, silver case, silk wrapper, bones, blood,
&c., and perhaps an inscription of Agostino in Gothic letters.
But this useful discovery has been disputed by reason and
jealousy, (Baronius, Annal. A.D. 725, No. 2 - 9. Tillemont, Mem.
Eccles. tom. xiii. p. 944. Montfaucon, Diarium Ital. p. 26 - 30.

Muratori, Antiq. Ital. Medii Aevi, tom. v. dissert. lviii. p. 9,
who had composed a separate treatise before the decree of the
bishop of Pavia, and Pope Benedict XIII.)]

Belisarius spoke the language of truth. The surviving
Vandals yielded, without resistance, their arms and their
freedom; the neighborhood of Carthage submitted to his presence;
and the more distant provinces were successively subdued by the
report of his victory. Tripoli was confirmed in her voluntary
allegiance; Sardinia and Corsica surrendered to an officer, who
carried, instead of a sword, the head of the valiant Zano; and
the Isles of Majorca, Minorca, and Yvica consented to remain an
humble appendage of the African kingdom. Caesarea, a royal city,
which in looser geography may be confounded with the modern
Algiers, was situate thirty days' march to the westward of
Carthage: by land, the road was infested by the Moors; but the
sea was open, and the Romans were now masters of the sea. An
active and discreet tribune sailed as far as the Straits, where
he occupied Septem or Ceuta, ^23 which rises opposite to
Gibraltar on the African coast; that remote place was afterwards
adorned and fortified by Justinian; and he seems to have indulged
the vain ambition of extending his empire to the columns of
Hercules. He received the messengers of victory at the time when
he was preparing to publish the Pandects of the Roman laws; and
the devout or jealous emperor celebrated the divine goodness, and
confessed, in silence, the merit of his successful general. ^24
Impatient to abolish the temporal and spiritual tyranny of the
Vandals, he proceeded, without delay, to the full establishment
of the Catholic church. Her jurisdiction, wealth, and immunites,
perhaps the most essential part of episcopal religion, were
restored and amplified with a liberal hand; the Arian worship was
suppressed; the Donatist meetings were proscribed; ^25 and the
synod of Carthage, by the voice of two hundred and seventeen
bishops, ^26 applauded the just measure of pious retaliation. On
such an occasion, it may not be presumed, that many orthodox
prelates were absent; but the comparative smallness of their
number, which in ancient councils had been twice or even thrice
multiplied, most clearly indicates the decay both of the church
and state. While Justinian approved himself the defender of the
faith, he entertained an ambitious hope, that his victorious
lieutenant would speedily enlarge the narrow limits of his
dominion to the space which they occupied before the invasion of
the Moors and Vandals; and Belisarius was instructed to establish
five dukes or commanders in the convenient stations of Tripoli,
Leptis, Cirta, Caesarea, and Sardinia, and to compute the
military force of palatines or borderers that might be sufficient
for the defence of Africa. The kingdom of the Vandals was not
unworthy of the presence of a Praetorian praefect; and four
consulars, three presidents, were appointed to administer the
seven provinces under his civil jurisdiction. The number of
their subordinate officers, clerks, messengers, or assistants,
was minutely expressed; three hundred and ninety-six for the
praefect himself, fifty for each of his vicegerents; and the
rigid definition of their fees and salaries was more effectual to
confirm the right than to prevent the abuse. These magistrates
might be oppressive, but they were not idle; and the subtile
questions of justice and revenue were infinitely propagated under
the new government, which professed to revive the freedom and
equity of the Roman republic. The conqueror was solicitous to
extract a prompt and plentiful supply from his African subjects;
and he allowed them to claim, even in the third degree, and from
the collateral line, the houses and lands of which their families
had been unjustly despoiled by the Vandals. After the departure
of Belisarius, who acted by a high and special commission, no
ordinary provision was made for a master- general of the forces;
but the office of Praetorian praefect was intrusted to a soldier;
the civil and military powers were united, according to the
practice of Justinian, in the chief governor; and the
representative of the emperor in Africa, as well as in Italy, was
soon distinguished by the appellation of Exarch. ^27
[Footnote 23: The expression of Procopius (de Edific. l. vi. c.
7.) Ceuta, which has been defaced by the Portuguese, flourished
in nobles and palaces, in agriculture and manufactures, under the
more prosperous reign of the Arabs, (l'Afrique de Marmai, tom.
ii. p. 236.]

[Footnote 24: See the second and third preambles to the Digest,
or Pandects, promulgated A.D. 533, December 16. To the titles of
Vandalicus and Africanus, Justinian, or rather Belisarius, had
acquired a just claim; Gothicus was premature, and Francicus
false, and offensive to a great nation.]
[Footnote 25: See the original acts in Baronius, (A.D. 535, No.
21 - 54.) The emperor applauds his own clemency to the heretics,
cum sufficiat eis vivere.]
[Footnote 26: Dupin (Geograph. Sacra Africana, p. lix. ad Optat.
Milav.) observes and bewails this episcopal decay. In the more
prosperous age of the church, he had noticed 690 bishoprics; but
however minute were the dioceses, it is not probable that they
all existed at the same time.]
[Footnote 27: The African laws of Justinian are illustrated by
his German biographer, (Cod. l. i. tit. 27. Novell. 36, 37, 131.

Vit. Justinian, p. 349 - 377.)]

Yet the conquest of Africa was imperfect till her former
sovereign was delivered, either alive or dead, into the hands of
the Romans. Doubtful of the event, Gelimer had given secret
orders that a part of his treasure should be transported to
Spain, where he hoped to find a secure refuge at the court of the
king of the Visigoths. But these intentions were disappointed by
accident, treachery, and the indefatigable pursuit of his
enemies, who intercepted his flight from the sea-shore, and
chased the unfortunate monarch, with some faithful followers, to
the inaccessible mountain of Papua, ^28 in the inland country of
Numidia. He was immediately besieged by Pharas, an officer whose
truth and sobriety were the more applauded, as such qualities
could seldom be found among the Heruli, the most corrupt of the
Barbarian tribes. To his vigilance Belisarius had intrusted this
important charge and, after a bold attempt to scale the mountain,
in which he lost a hundred and ten soldiers, Pharas expected,
during a winter siege, the operation of distress and famine on
the mind of the Vandal king. From the softest habits of
pleasure, from the unbounded command of industry and wealth, he
was reduced to share the poverty of the Moors, ^29 supportable
only to themselves by their ignorance of a happier condition. In
their rude hovels, of mud and hurdles, which confined the smoke
and excluded the light, they promiscuously slept on the ground,
perhaps on a sheep-skin, with their wives, their children, and
their cattle. Sordid and scanty were their garments; the use of
bread and wine was unknown; and their oaten or barley cakes,
imperfectly baked in the ashes, were devoured almost in a crude
state, by the hungry savages. The health of Gelimer must have
sunk under these strange and unwonted hardships, from whatsoever
cause they had been endured; but his actual misery was imbittered
by the recollection of past greatness, the daily insolence of his
protectors, and the just apprehension, that the light and venal
Moors might be tempted to betray the rights of hospitality. The
knowledge of his situation dictated the humane and friendly
epistle of Pharas. "Like yourself," said the chief of the
Heruli, "I am an illiterate Barbarian, but I speak the language
of plain sense and an honest heart. Why will you persist in
hopeless obstinacy? Why will you ruin yourself, your family, and
nation? The love of freedom and abhorrence of slavery? Alas! my
dearest Gelimer, are you not already the worst of slaves, the
slave of the vile nation of the Moors? Would it not be
preferable to sustain at Constantinople a life of poverty and
servitude, rather than to reign the undoubted monarch of the
mountain of Papua? Do you think it a disgrace to be the subject
of Justinian? Belisarius is his subject; and we ourselves, whose
birth is not inferior to your own, are not ashamed of our
obedience to the Roman emperor. That generous prince will grant
you a rich inheritance of lands, a place in the senate, and the
dignity of patrician: such are his gracious intentions, and you
may depend with full assurance on the word of Belisarius. So
long as Heaven has condemned us to suffer, patience is a virtue;
but if we reject the proffered deliverance, it degenerates into
blind and stupid despair." "I am not insensible" replied the king
of the Vandals, "how kind and rational is your advice. But I
cannot persuade myself to become the slave of an unjust enemy,
who has deserved my implacable hatred. Him I had never injured
either by word or deed: yet he has sent against me, I know not
from whence, a certain Belisarius, who has cast me headlong from
the throne into his abyss of misery. Justinian is a man; he is a
prince; does he not dread for himself a similar reverse of
fortune? I can write no more: my grief oppresses me. Send me, I
beseech you, my dear Pharas, send me, a lyre, ^30 a sponge, and a
loaf of bread." From the Vandal messenger, Pharas was informed of
the motives of this singular request. It was long since the king
of Africa had tasted bread; a defluxion had fallen on his eyes,
the effect of fatigue or incessant weeping; and he wished to
solace the melancholy hours, by singing to the lyre the sad story
of his own misfortunes. The humanity of Pharas was moved; he
sent the three extraordinary gifts; but even his humanity
prompted him to redouble the vigilance of his guard, that he
might sooner compel his prisoner to embrace a resolution
advantageous to the Romans, but salutary to himself. The
obstinacy of Gelimer at length yielded to reason and necessity;
the solemn assurances of safety and honorable treatment were
ratified in the emperor's name, by the ambassador of Belisarius;
and the king of the Vandals descended from the mountain. The
first public interview was in one of the suburbs of Carthage; and
when the royal captive accosted his conqueror, he burst into a
fit of laughter. The crowd might naturally believe, that extreme
grief had deprived Gelimer of his senses: but in this mournful
state, unseasonable mirth insinuated to more intelligent
observers, that the vain and transitory scenes of human greatness
are unworthy of a serious thought. ^31

[Footnote 28: Mount Papua is placed by D'Anville (tom. iii. p.
92, and Tabul. Imp. Rom. Occident.) near Hippo Regius and the
sea; yet this situation ill agrees with the long pursuit beyond
Hippo, and the words of Procopius, (l. ii.c.4,).

Note: Compare Lord Mahon, 120. conceive Gibbon to be right
- M.]
[Footnote 29: Shaw (Travels, p. 220) most accurately represents
the manners of the Bedoweens and Kabyles, the last of whom, by
their language, are the remnant of the Moors; yet how changed -
how civilized are these modern savages! - provisions are plenty
among them and bread is common.]
[Footnote 30: By Procopius it is styled a lyre; perhaps harp
would have been more national. The instruments of music are thus
distinguished by Venantius Fortunatus: -

Romanusque lyra tibi plaudat, Barbarus harpa.]

[Footnote 31: Herodotus elegantly describes the strange effects
of grief in another royal captive, Psammetichus of Egypt, who
wept at the lesser and was silent at the greatest of his
calamities, (l. iii. c. 14.) In the interview of Paulus Aemilius
and Perses, Belisarius might study his part; but it is probable
that he never read either Livy or Plutarch; and it is certain
that his generosity did not need a tutor.]

Their contempt was soon justified by a new example of a
vulgar truth; that flattery adheres to power, and envy to
superior merit. The chiefs of the Roman army presumed to think
themselves the rivals of a hero. Their private despatches
maliciously affirmed, that the conqueror of Africa, strong in his
reputation and the public love, conspired to seat himself on the
throne of the Vandals. Justinian listened with too patient an
ear; and his silence was the result of jealousy rather than of
confidence. An honorable alternative, of remaining in the
province, or of returning to the capital, was indeed submitted to
the discretion of Belisarius; but he wisely concluded, from
intercepted letters and the knowledge of his sovereign's temper,
that he must either resign his head, erect his standard, or
confound his enemies by his presence and submission. Innocence
and courage decided his choice; his guards, captives, and
treasures, were diligently embarked; and so prosperous was the
navigation, that his arrival at Constantinople preceded any
certain account of his departure from the port of Carthage. Such
unsuspecting loyalty removed the apprehensions of Justinian; envy
was silenced and inflamed by the public gratitude; and the third
Africanus obtained the honors of a triumph, a ceremony which the
city of Constantine had never seen, and which ancient Rome, since
the reign of Tiberius, had reserved for the auspicious arms of
the Caesars. ^32 From the palace of Belisarius, the procession
was conducted through the principal streets to the hippodrome;
and this memorable day seemed to avenge the injuries of Genseric,
and to expiate the shame of the Romans. The wealth of nations was
displayed, the trophies of martial or effeminate luxury; rich
armor, golden thrones, and the chariots of state which had been
used by the Vandal queen; the massy furniture of the royal
banquet, the splendor of precious stones, the elegant forms of
statues and vases, the more substantial treasure of gold, and the
holy vessels of the Jewish temple, which after their long
peregrination were respectfully deposited in the Christian church
of Jerusalem. A long train of the noblest Vandals reluctantly
exposed their lofty stature and manly countenance. Gelimer
slowly advanced: he was clad in a purple robe, and still
maintained the majesty of a king. Not a tear escaped from his
eyes, not a sigh was heard; but his pride or piety derived some
secret consolation from the words of Solomon, ^33 which he
repeatedly pronounced, Vanity! vanity! all is vanity! Instead
of ascending a triumphal car drawn by four horses or elephants,
the modest conqueror marched on foot at the head of his brave
companions; his prudence might decline an honor too conspicuous
for a subject; and his magnanimity might justly disdain what had
been so often sullied by the vilest of tyrants. The glorious
procession entered the gate of the hippodrome; was saluted by the
acclamations of the senate and people; and halted before the
throne where Justinian and Theodora were seated to receive homage
of the captive monarch and the victorious hero. They both
performed the customary adoration; and falling prostrate on the
ground, respectfully touched the footstool of a prince who had
not unsheathed his sword, and of a prostitute who had danced on
the theatre; some gentle violence was used to bend the stubborn
spirit of the grandson of Genseric; and however trained to
servitude, the genius of Belisarius must have secretly rebelled.
He was immediately declared consul for the ensuing year, and the
day of his inauguration resembled the pomp of a second triumph:
his curule chair was borne aloft on the shoulders of captive
Vandals; and the spoils of war, gold cups, and rich girdles, were
profusely scattered among the populace.
[Footnote 32: After the title of imperator had lost the old
military sense, and the Roman auspices were abolished by
Christianity, (see La Bleterie, Mem. de l'Academie, tom. xxi. p.
302 - 332,) a triumph might be given with less inconsistency to a
private general.]

[Footnote 33: If the Ecclesiastes be truly a work of Solomon, and
not, like Prior's poem, a pious and moral composition of more
recent times, in his name, and on the subject of his repentance.
The latter is the opinion of the learned and free-spirited
Grotius, (Opp. Theolog. tom. i. p. 258;) and indeed the
Ecclesiastes and Proverbs display a larger compass of thought and
experience than seem to belong either to a Jew or a king.

Note: Rosenmuller, arguing from the difference of style from
that of the greater part of the book of Proverbs, and from its
nearer approximation to the Aramaic dialect than any book of the
Old Testament, assigns the Ecclesiastes to some period between
Nehemiah and Alexander the Great Schol. in Vet. Test. ix.
Proemium ad Eccles. p. 19. - M.]

Chapter XLI: Conquests Of Justinian, Charact Of Balisarius.

Part IV.

Although Theodatus descended from a race of heroes, he was
ignorant of the art, and averse to the dangers, of war. Although
he had studied the writings of Plato and Tully, philosophy was
incapable of purifying his mind from the basest passions, avarice
and fear. He had purchased a sceptre by ingratitude and murder:
at the first menace of an enemy, he degraded his own majesty and
that of a nation, which already disdained their unworthy
sovereign. Astonished by the recent example of Gelimer, he saw
himself dragged in chains through the streets of Constantinople:
the terrors which Belisarius inspired were heightened by the
eloquence of Peter, the Byzantine ambassador; and that bold and
subtle advocate persuaded him to sign a treaty, too ignominious
to become the foundation of a lasting peace. It was stipulated,
that in the acclamations of the Roman people, the name of the
emperor should be always proclaimed before that of the Gothic
king; and that as often as the statue of Theodatus was erected in
brass on marble, the divine image of Justinian should be placed
on its right hand. Instead of conferring, the king of Italy was
reduced to solicit, the honors of the senate; and the consent of
the emperor was made indispensable before he could execute,
against a priest or senator, the sentence either of death or
confiscation. The feeble monarch resigned the possession of
Sicily; offered, as the annual mark of his dependence, a crown of
gold of the weight of three hundred pounds; and promised to
supply, at the requisition of his sovereign, three thousand
Gothic auxiliaries, for the service of the empire. Satisfied
with these extraordinary concessions, the successful agent of
Justinian hastened his journey to Constantinople; but no sooner
had he reached the Alban villa, ^60 than he was recalled by the
anxiety of Theodatus; and the dialogue which passed between the
king and the ambassador deserves to be represented in its
original simplicity. "Are you of opinion that the emperor will
ratify this treaty? Perhaps. If he refuses, what consequence
will ensue? War. Will such a war, be just or reasonable? Most
assuredly: every to his character. What is your meaning? You are
a philosopher - Justinian is emperor of the Romans: it would all
become the disciple of Plato to shed the blood of thousands in
his private quarrel: the successor of Augustus should vindicate
his rights, and recover by arms the ancient provinces of his
empire." This reasoning might not convince, but it was sufficient
to alarm and subdue the weakness of Theodatus; and he soon
descended to his last offer, that for the poor equivalent of a
pension of forty-eight thousand pounds sterling, he would resign
the kingdom of the Goths and Italians, and spend the remainder of
his days in the innocent pleasures of philosophy and agriculture.

Both treaties were intrusted to the hands of the ambassador, on
the frail security of an oath not to produce the second till the
first had been positively rejected. The event may be easily
foreseen: Justinian required and accepted the abdication of the
Gothic king. His indefatigable agent returned from
Constantinople to Ravenna, with ample instructions; and a fair
epistle, which praised the wisdom and generosity of the royal
philosopher, granted his pension, with the assurance of such
honors as a subject and a Catholic might enjoy; and wisely
referred the final execution of the treaty to the presence and
authority of Belisarius. But in the interval of suspense, two
Roman generals, who had entered the province of Dalmatia, were
defeated and slain by the Gothic troops. From blind and abject
despair, Theodatus capriciously rose to groundless and fatal
presumption, ^61 and dared to receive, with menace and contempt,
the ambassador of Justinian; who claimed his promise, solicited
the allegiance of his subjects, and boldly asserted the
inviolable privilege of his own character. The march of
Belisarius dispelled this visionary pride; and as the first
campaign ^62 was employed in the reduction of Sicily, the
invasion of Italy is applied by Procopius to the second year of
the Gothic war. ^63

[Footnote 60: The ancient Alba was ruined in the first age of
Rome. On the same spot, or at least in the neighborhood,
successively arose.
1. The villa of Pompey, &c.;

2. A camp of the Praetorian cohorts;

3. The modern episcopal city of Albanum or Albano.

(Procop. Goth. l. ii. c. 4 Oluver. Ital. Antiq tom. ii. p.
[Footnote 61: A Sibylline oracle was ready to pronounce - Africa
capta munitus cum nato peribit; a sentence of portentous
ambiguity, (Gothic. l. i. c. 7,) which has been published in
unknown characters by Opsopaeus, an editor of the oracles. The
Pere Maltret has promised a commentary; but all his promises have
been vain and fruitless.]

[Footnote 62: In his chronology, imitated, in some degree, from
Thucydides, Procopius begins each spring the years of Justinian
and of the Gothic war; and his first aera coincides with the
first of April, 535, and not 536, according to the Annals of
Baronius, (Pagi, Crit. tom. ii. p. 555, who is followed by
Muratori and the editors of Sigonius.) Yet, in some passages, we
are at a loss to reconcile the dates of Procopius with himself,
and with the Chronicle of Marcellinus.]

[Footnote 63: The series of the first Gothic war is represented
by Procopius (l. i. c. 5 - 29, l. ii. c. l - 30, l. iii. c. l)
till the captivity of Vitigas. With the aid of Sigonius (Opp.
tom. i. de Imp. Occident. l. xvii. xviii.) and Muratori, (Annali
d'Itaia, tom. v.,) I have gleaned some few additional facts.]

After Belisarius had left sufficient garrisons in Palermo
and Syracuse, he embarked his troops at Messina, and landed them,
without resistance, on the opposite shores of Rhegium. A Gothic
prince, who had married the daughter of Theodatus, was stationed
with an army to guard the entrance of Italy; but he imitated,
without scruple, the example of a sovereign faithless to his
public and private duties. The perfidious Ebermor deserted with
his followers to the Roman camp, and was dismissed to enjoy the
servile honors of the Byzantine court. ^64 From Rhegium to
Naples, the fleet and army of Belisarius, almost always in view
of each other, advanced near three hundred miles along the
sea-coast. The people of Bruttium, Lucania, and Campania, who
abhorred the name and religion of the Goths, embraced the
specious excuse, that their ruined walls were incapable of
defence: the soldiers paid a just equivalent for a plentiful
market; and curiosity alone interrupted the peaceful occupations
of the husbandman or artificer. Naples, which has swelled to a
great and populous capital, long cherished the language and
manners of a Grecian colony; ^65 and the choice of Virgil had
ennobled this elegant retreat, which attracted the lovers of
repose and study, elegant retreat, which attracted the lovers of
repose and study, from the noise, the smoke, and the laborious
opulence of Rome. ^66 As soon as the place was invested by sea
and land, Belisarius gave audience to the deputies of the people,
who exhorted him to disregard a conquest unworthy of his arms, to
seek the Gothic king in a field of battle, and, after his
victory, to claim, as the sovereign of Rome, the allegiance of
the dependent cities. "When I treat with my enemies," replied
the Roman chief, with a haughty smile, "I am more accustomed to
give than to receive counsel; but I hold in one hand inevitable
ruin, and in the other peace and freedom, such as Sicily now
enjoys." The impatience of delay urged him to grant the most
liberal terms; his honor secured their performance: but Naples
was divided into two factions; and the Greek democracy was
inflamed by their orators, who, with much spirit and some truth,
represented to the multitude that the Goths would punish their
defection, and that Belisarius himself must esteem their loyalty
and valor. Their deliberations, however, were not perfectly
free: the city was commanded by eight hundred Barbarians, whose
wives and children were detained at Ravenna as the pledge of
their fidelity; and even the Jews, who were rich and numerous,
resisted, with desperate enthusiasm, the intolerant laws of
Justinian. In a much later period, the circumference of Naples
^67 measured only two thousand three hundred and sixty three
paces: ^68 the fortifications were defended by precipices or the
sea; when the aqueducts were intercepted, a supply of water might
be drawn from wells and fountains; and the stock of provisions
was sufficient to consume the patience of the besiegers. At the
end of twenty days, that of Belisarius was almost exhausted, and
he had reconciled himself to the disgrace of abandoning the
siege, that he might march, before the winter season, against
Rome and the Gothic king. But his anxiety was relieved by the
bold curiosity of an Isaurian, who explored the dry channel of an
aqueduct, and secretly reported, that a passage might be
perforated to introduce a file of armed soldiers into the heart
of the city. When the work had been silently executed, the
humane general risked the discovery of his secret by a last and
fruitless admonition of the impending danger. In the darkness of
the night, four hundred Romans entered the aqueduct, raised
themselves by a rope, which they fastened to an olive-tree, into
the house or garden of a solitary matron, sounded their trumpets,
surprised the sentinels, and gave admittance to their companions,
who on all sides scaled the walls, and burst open the gates of
the city. Every crime which is punished by social justice was
practised as the rights of war; the Huns were distinguished by
cruelty and sacrilege, and Belisarius alone appeared in the
streets and churches of Naples to moderate the calamities which
he predicted. "The gold and silver," he repeatedly exclaimed,
"are the just rewards of your valor. But spare the inhabitants;
they are Christians, they are suppliants, they are now your
fellow-subjects. Restore the children to their parents, the wives
to their husbands; and show them by you, generosity of what
friends they have obstinately deprived themselves." The city was
saved by the virtue and authority of its conqueror; ^69 and when
the Neapolitans returned to their houses, they found some
consolation in the secret enjoyment of their hidden treasures.
The Barbarian garrison enlisted in the service of the emperor;
Apulia and Calabria, delivered from the odious presence of the
Goths, acknowledged his dominion; and the tusks of the Calydonian
boar, which were still shown at Beneventum, are curiously
described by the historian of Belisarius. ^70

[Footnote 64: Jornandes, de Rebus Geticis, c. 60, p. 702, edit.
Grot., and tom. i. p. 221. Muratori, de Success, Regn. p. 241.]

[Footnote 65: Nero (says Tacitus, Annal. xv. 35) Neapolim quasi
Graecam urbem delegit. One hundred and fifty years afterwards,
in the time of Septimius Severus, the Hellenism of the
Neapolitans is praised by Philostratus. (Icon. l. i. p. 763,
edit. Olear.)]

[Footnote 66: The otium of Naples is praised by the Roman poets,
by Virgil, Horace, Silius Italicus, and Statius, (Cluver. Ital.
Ant. l. iv. p. 1149, 1150.) In an elegant epistles, (Sylv. l.
iii. 5, p. 94 - 98, edit. Markland,) Statius undertakes the
difficult task of drawing his wife from the pleasures of Rome to
that calm retreat.]

[Footnote 67: This measure was taken by Roger l., after the
conquest of Naples, (A.D. 1139,) which he made the capital of his
new kingdom, (Giannone, Istoria Civile, tom. ii. p. 169.) That
city, the third in Christian Europe, is now at least twelve miles
in circumference, (Jul. Caesar. Capaccii Hist. Neapol. l. i. p.
47,) and contains more inhabitants (350,000) in a given space,
than any other spot in the known world.]

[Footnote 68: Not geometrical, but common, paces or steps, of 22
French inches, (D' Anville, Mesures Itineraires, p. 7, 8.) The
2363 do not take an English mile.]

[Footnote 69: Belisarius was reproved by Pope Silverius for the
massacre. He repeopled Naples, and imported colonies of African
captives into Sicily, Calabria, and Apulia, (Hist. Miscell. l.
xvi. in Muratori, tom. i. p. 106, 107.)]

[Footnote 70: Beneventum was built by Diomede, the nephew of
Meleager (Cluver. tom. ii. p. 1195, 1196.) The Calydonian hunt is
a picture of savage life, (Ovid, Metamorph. l. viii.) Thirty or
forty heroes were leagued against a hog: the brutes (not the hog)
quarrelled with lady for the head.]
The faithful soldiers and citizens of Naples had expected
their deliverance from a prince, who remained the inactive and
almost indifferent spectator of their ruin. Theodatus secured
his person within the walls of Rome, whilst his cavalry advanced
forty miles on the Appian way, and encamped in the Pomptine
marshes; which, by a canal of nineteen miles in length, had been
recently drained and converted into excellent pastures. ^71 But
the principal forces of the Goths were dispersed in Dalmatia,
Venetia, and Gaul; and the feeble mind of their king was
confounded by the unsuccessful event of a divination, which
seemed to presage the downfall of his empire. ^72 The most abject
slaves have arraigned the guilt or weakness of an unfortunate
master. The character of Theodatus was rigorously scrutinized by
a free and idle camp of Barbarians, conscious of their privilege
and power: he was declared unworthy of his race, his nation, and
his throne; and their general Vitiges, whose valor had been
signalized in the Illyrian war, was raised with unanimous
applause on the bucklers of his companions. On the first rumor,
the abdicated monarch fled from the justice of his country; but
he was pursued by private revenge. A Goth, whom he had injured
in his love, overtook Theodatus on the Flaminian way, and,
regardless of his unmanly cries, slaughtered him, as he lay,
prostrate on the ground, like a victim (says the historian) at
the foot of the altar. The choice of the people is the best and
purest title to reign over them; yet such is the prejudice of
every age, that Vitiges impatiently wished to return to Ravenna,
where he might seize, with the reluctant hand of the daughter of
Amalasontha, some faint shadow of hereditary right. A national
council was immediately held, and the new monarch reconciled the
impatient spirit of the Barbarians to a measure of disgrace,
which the misconduct of his predecessor rendered wise and
indispensable. The Goths consented to retreat in the presence of
a victorious enemy; to delay till the next spring the operations
of offensive war; to summon their scattered forces; to relinquish
their distant possessions, and to trust even Rome itself to the
faith of its inhabitants. Leuderis, an ancient warrior, was left
in the capital with four thousand soldiers; a feeble garrison,
which might have seconded the zeal, though it was incapable of
opposing the wishes, of the Romans. But a momentary enthusiasm
of religion and patriotism was kindled in their minds. They
furiously exclaimed, that the apostolic throne should no longer
be profaned by the triumph or toleration of Arianism; that the
tombs of the Caesars should no longer be trampled by the savages
of the North; and, without reflecting, that Italy must sink into
a province of Constantinople, they fondly hailed the restoration
of a Roman emperor as a new aera of freedom and prosperity. The
deputies of the pope and clergy, of the senate and people,
invited the lieutenant of Justinian to accept their voluntary
allegiance, and to enter the city, whose gates would be thrown
open for his reception. As soon as Belisarius had fortified his
new conquests, Naples and Cumae, he advanced about twenty miles
to the banks of the Vulturnus, contemplated the decayed grandeur
of Capua, and halted at the separation of the Latin and Appian
ways. The work of the censor, after the incessant use of nine
centuries, still preserved its primaeval beauty, and not a flaw
could be discovered in the large polished stones, of which that
solid, though narrow road, was so firmly compacted. ^73
Belisarius, however, preferred the Latin way, which, at a
distance from the sea and the marshes, skirted in a space of one
hundred and twenty miles along the foot of the mountains. His
enemies had disappeared: when he made his entrance through the
Asinarian gate, the garrison departed without molestation along
the Flaminian way; and the city, after sixty years' servitude,
was delivered from the yoke of the Barbarians. Leuderis alone,
from a motive of pride or discontent, refused to accompany the
fugitives; and the Gothic chief, himself a trophy of the victory,
was sent with the keys of Rome to the throne of the emperor
Justinian. ^74
[Footnote 71: The Decennovium is strangely confounded by
Cluverius (tom. ii. p. 1007) with the River Ufens. It was in
truth a canal of nineteen miles, from Forum Appii to Terracina,
on which Horace embarked in the night. The Decennovium, which is
mentioned by Lucan, Dion Cassius, and Cassiodorus, has been
sufficiently ruined, restored, and obliterated, (D'Anville,
Anayse de l'Italie, p. 185, &c.)]

[Footnote 72: A Jew, gratified his contempt and hatred for all
the Christians, by enclosing three bands, each of ten hogs, and
discriminated by the names of Goths, Greeks, and Romans. Of the
first, almost all were found dead; almost all the second were
alive: of the third, half died, and the rest lost their bristles.

No unsuitable emblem of the event]

[Footnote 73: Bergier (Hist. des Grands Chemins des Romains, tom.
i. p. 221 - 228, 440 - 444) examines the structure and
materials, while D'Anville (Analyse d'Italie, p. 200 - 123)
defines the geographical line.]
[Footnote 74: Of the first recovery of Rome, the year (536) is
certain, from the series of events, rather than from the corrupt,
or interpolated, text of Procopius. The month (December) is
ascertained by Evagrius, (l. iv. v. 19;) and the day (the tenth)
may be admitted on the slight evidence of Nicephorus Callistus,
(l. xvii. c. 13.) For this accurate chronology, we are indebted
to the diligence and judgment of Pagi, (tom, ii. p. 659, 560.)
Note: Compare Maltret's note, in the edition of Dindorf the
ninth is the day, according to his reading, - M.]

The first days, which coincided with the old Saturnalia,
were devoted to mutual congratulation and the public joy; and the
Catholics prepared to celebrate, without a rival, the approaching
festival of the nativity of Christ. In the familiar conversation
of a hero, the Romans acquired some notion of the virtues which
history ascribed to their ancestors; they were edified by the
apparent respect of Belisarius for the successor of St. Peter,
and his rigid discipline secured in the midst of war the
blessings of tranquillity and justice. They applauded the rapid
success of his arms, which overran the adjacent country, as far
as Narni, Perusia, and Spoleto; but they trembled, the senate,
the clergy, and the unwarlike people, as soon as they understood
that he had resolved, and would speedily be reduced, to sustain a
siege against the powers of the Gothic monarchy. The designs of
Vitiges were executed, during the winter season, with diligence
and effect. From their rustic habitations, from their distant
garrisons, the Goths assembled at Ravenna for the defence of
their country; and such were their numbers, that, after an army
had been detached for the relief of Dalmatia, one hundred and
fifty thousand fighting men marched under the royal standard.
According to the degrees of rank or merit, the Gothic king
distributed arms and horses, rich gifts, and liberal promises; he
moved along the Flaminian way, declined the useless sieges of
Perusia and Spoleto, respected he impregnable rock of Narni, and
arrived within two miles of Rome at the foot of the Milvian
bridge. The narrow passage was fortified with a tower, and
Belisarius had computed the value of the twenty days which must
be lost in the construction of another bridge. But the
consternation of the soldiers of the tower, who either fled or
deserted, disappointed his hopes, and betrayed his person into
the most imminent danger. At the head of one thousand horse, the
Roman general sallied from the Flaminian gate to mark the ground
of an advantageous position, and to survey the camp of the
Barbarians; but while he still believed them on the other side of
the Tyber, he was suddenly encompassed and assaulted by their
numerous squadrons. The fate of Italy depended on his life; and
the deserters pointed to the conspicuous horse a bay, ^75 with a
white face, which he rode on that memorable day. "Aim at the bay
horse," was the universal cry. Every bow was bent, every javelin
was directed, against that fatal object, and the command was
repeated and obeyed by thousands who were ignorant of its real
motive. The bolder Barbarians advanced to the more honorable
combat of swords and spears; and the praise of an enemy has
graced the fall of Visandus, the standard-bearer, ^76 who
maintained his foremost station, till he was pierced with
thirteen wounds, perhaps by the hand of Belisarius himself. The
Roman general was strong, active, and dexterous; on every side he
discharged his weighty and mortal strokes: his faithful guards
imitated his valor, and defended his person; and the Goths, after
the loss of a thousand men, fled before the arms of a hero. They
were rashly pursued to their camp; and the Romans, oppressed by
multitudes, made a gradual, and at length a precipitate retreat
to the gates of the city: the gates were shut against the
fugitives; and the public terror was increased, by the report
that Belisarius was slain. His countenance was indeed disfigured
by sweat, dust, and blood; his voice was hoarse, his strength was
almost exhausted; but his unconquerable spirit still remained; he
imparted that spirit to his desponding companions; and their last
desperate charge was felt by the flying Barbarians, as if a new
army, vigorous and entire, had been poured from the city. The
Flaminian gate was thrown open to a real triumph; but it was not
before Belisarius had visited every post, and provided for the
public safety, that he could be persuaded, by his wife and
friends, to taste the needful refreshments of food and sleep. In
the more improved state of the art of war, a general is seldom
required, or even permitted to display the personal prowess of a
soldier; and the example of Belisarius may be added to the rare
examples of Henry IV., of Pyrrhus, and of Alexander.

[Footnote 75: A horse of a bay or red color was styled by the
Greeks, balan by the Barbarians, and spadix by the Romans.
Honesti spadices, says Virgil, (Georgic. l. iii. 72, with the
Observations of Martin and Heyne.) It signifies a branch of the
palm-tree, whose name is synonymous to red, (Aulus Gellius, ii.

[Footnote 76: I interpret it, not as a proper, name, but an
office, standard-bearer, from bandum, (vexillum,) a Barbaric word
adopted by the Greeks and Romans, (Paul Diacon. l. i. c. 20, p.
760. Grot. Nomina Hethica, p. 575. Ducange, Gloss. Latin. tom.
i. p. 539, 540.)]

After this first and unsuccessful trial of their enemies,
the whole army of the Goths passed the Tyber, and formed the
siege of the city, which continued above a year, till their final
departure. Whatever fancy may conceive, the severe compass of
the geographer defines the circumference of Rome within a line of
twelve miles and three hundred and forty-five paces; and that
circumference, except in the Vatican, has invariably been the
same from the triumph of Aurelian to the peaceful but obscure
reign of the modern popes. ^77 But in the day of her greatness,
the space within her walls was crowded with habitations and
inhabitants; and the populous suburbs, that stretched along the
public roads, were darted like so many rays from one common
centre. Adversity swept away these extraneous ornaments, and left
naked and desolate a considerable part even of the seven hills.
Yet Rome in its present state could send into the field about
thirty thousand males of a military age; ^78 and, notwithstanding
the want of discipline and exercise, the far greater part, inured
to the hardships of poverty, might be capable of bearing arms for
the defence of their country and religion. The prudence of
Belisarius did not neglect this important resource. His soldiers
were relieved by the zeal and diligence of the people, who
watched while they slept, and labored while they reposed: he
accepted the voluntary service of the bravest and most indigent
of the Roman youth; and the companies of townsmen sometimes
represented, in a vacant post, the presence of the troops which
had been drawn away to more essential duties. But his just
confidence was placed in the veterans who had fought under his
banner in the Persian and African wars; and although that gallant
band was reduced to five thousand men, he undertook, with such
contemptible numbers, to defend a circle of twelve miles, against
an army of one hundred and fifty thousand Barbarians. In the
walls of Rome, which Belisarius constructed or restored, the
materials of ancient architecture may be discerned; ^79 and the
whole fortification was completed, except in a chasm still extant
between the Pincian and Flaminian gates, which the prejudices of
the Goths and Romans left under the effectual guard of St. Peter
the apostle. ^80

[Footnote 77: M. D'Anville has given, in the Memoirs of the
Academy for the year 1756, (tom. xxx. p. 198 - 236,) a plan of
Rome on a smaller scale, but far more accurate than that which he
had delineated in 1738 for Rollin's history. Experience had
improved his knowledge and instead of Rossi's topography, he used
the new and excellent map of Nolli. Pliny's old measure of
thirteen must be reduced to eight miles. It is easier to alter a
text, than to remove hills or buildings.

Note: Compare Gibbon, ch. xi. note 43, and xxxi. 67, and ch.
lxxi. "It is quite clear," observes Sir J. Hobhouse, "that all
these measurements differ, (in the first and second it is 21, in
the text 12 and 345 paces, in the last 10,) yet it is equally
clear that the historian avers that they are all the same." The
present extent, 12 3/4 nearly agrees with the second statement of
Gibbon. Sir. J. Hobhouse also observes that the walls were
enlarged by Constantine; but there can be no doubt that the
circuit has been much changed. Illust. of Ch. Harold, p. 180. -

[Footnote 78: In the year 1709, Labat (Voyages en Italie, tom.
iii. p. 218) reckoned 138,568 Christian souls, besides 8000 or
10,000 Jews - without souls? In the year 1763, the numbers
exceeded 160,000.]

[Footnote 79: The accurate eye of Nardini (Roma Antica, l. i. c.
viii. p. 31) could distinguish the tumultuarie opere di

[Footnote 80: The fissure and leaning in the upper part of the
wall, which Procopius observed, (Goth. l. i. c. 13,) is visible
to the present hour, (Douat. Roma Vetus, l. i. c. 17, p. 53,

The battlements or bastions were shaped in sharp angles a
ditch, broad and deep, protected the foot of the rampart; and the
archers on the rampart were assisted by military engines; the
balistri, a powerful cross-bow, which darted short but massy
arrows; the onagri, or wild asses, which, on the principle of a
sling, threw stones and bullets of an enormous size. ^81 A chain
was drawn across the Tyber; the arches of the aqueducts were made
impervious, and the mole or sepulchre of Hadrian ^82 was
converted, for the first time, to the uses of a citadel. That
venerable structure, which contained the ashes of the Antonines,
was a circular turret rising from a quadrangular basis; it was
covered with the white marble of Paros, and decorated by the
statues of gods and heroes; and the lover of the arts must read
with a sigh, that the works of Praxiteles or Lysippus were torn
from their lofty pedestals, and hurled into the ditch on the
heads of the besiegers. ^83 To each of his lieutenants Belisarius
assigned the defence of a gate, with the wise and peremptory
instruction, that, whatever might be the alarm, they should
steadily adhere to their respective posts, and trust their
general for the safety of Rome. The formidable host of the Goths
was insufficient to embrace the ample measure of the city, of the
fourteen gates, seven only were invested from the Proenestine to
the Flaminian way; and Vitiges divided his troops into six camps,
each of which was fortified with a ditch and rampart. On the
Tuscan side of the river, a seventh encampment was formed in the
field or circus of the Vatican, for the important purpose of
commanding the Milvian bridge and the course of the Tyber; but
they approached with devotion the adjacent church of St. Peter;
and the threshold of the holy apostles was respected during the
siege by a Christian enemy. In the ages of victory, as often as
the senate decreed some distant conquest, the consul denounced
hostilities, by unbarring, in solemn pomp, the gates of the
temple of Janus. ^84 Domestic war now rendered the admonition
superfluous, and the ceremony was superseded by the establishment
of a new religion. But the brazen temple of Janus was left
standing in the forum; of a size sufficient only to contain the
statue of the god, five cubits in height, of a human form, but
with two faces directed to the east and west. The double gates
were likewise of brass; and a fruitless effort to turn them on
their rusty hinges revealed the scandalous secret that some
Romans were still attached to the superstition of their

[Footnote 81: Lipsius (Opp. tom. iii. Poliorcet, l. iii.) was
ignorant of this clear and conspicuous passage of Procopius,
(Goth. l. i. c. 21.) The engine was named the wild ass, a
calcitrando, (Hen. Steph. Thesaur. Linguae Graec. tom. ii. p.
1340, 1341, tom. iii. p. 877.) I have seen an ingenious model,
contrived and executed by General Melville, which imitates or
surpasses the art of antiquity.]

[Footnote 82: The description of this mausoleum, or mole, in
Procopius, (l. i. c. 25.) is the first and best. The height
above the walls. On Nolli's great plan, the sides measure 260
English feet.

Note: Donatus and Nardini suppose that Hadrian's tomb was
fortified by Honorius; it was united to the wall by men of old,
(Procop in loc.) Gibbon has mistaken the breadth for the height
above the walls Hobhouse, Illust. of Childe Harold, p. 302. - M.]

[Footnote 83: Praxiteles excelled in Fauns, and that of Athens
was his own masterpiece. Rome now contains about thirty of the
same character. When the ditch of St. Angelo was cleansed under
Urban VIII., the workmen found the sleeping Faun of the Barberini
palace; but a leg, a thigh, and the right arm, had been broken
from that beautiful statue, (Winkelman, Hist. de l'Art, tom. ii.
p. 52, 53, tom iii. p. 265.)]

[Footnote 84: Procopius has given the best description of the
temple of Janus a national deity of Latium, (Heyne, Excurs. v. ad
l. vii. Aeneid.) It was once a gate in the primitive city of
Romulus and Numa, (Nardini, p. 13, 256, 329.) Virgil has
described the ancient rite like a poet and an antiquarian.]
Eighteen days were employed by the besiegers, to provide all
the instruments of attack which antiquity had invented. Fascines
were prepared to fill the ditches, scaling-ladders to ascend the
walls. The largest trees of the forest supplied the timbers of
four battering-rams: their heads were armed with iron; they were
suspended by ropes, and each of them was worked by the labor of
fifty men. The lofty wooden turrets moved on wheels or rollers,
and formed a spacious platform of the level of the rampart. On
the morning of the nineteenth day, a general attack was made from
the Praenestine gate to the Vatican: seven Gothic columns, with
their military engines, advanced to the assault; and the Romans,
who lined the ramparts, listened with doubt and anxiety to the
cheerful assurances of their commander. As soon as the enemy
approached the ditch, Belisarius himself drew the first arrow;
and such was his strength and dexterity, that he transfixed the
foremost of the Barbarian leaders.

As shout of applause and victory was reechoed along the
wall. He drew a second arrow, and the stroke was followed with
the same success and the same acclamation. The Roman general
then gave the word, that the archers should aim at the teams of
oxen; they were instantly covered with mortal wounds; the towers
which they drew remained useless and immovable, and a single
moment disconcerted the laborious projects of the king of the
Goths. After this disappointment, Vitiges still continued, or
feigned to continue, the assault of the Salarian gate, that he
might divert the attention of his adversary, while his principal
forces more strenuously attacked the Praenestine gate and the
sepulchre of Hadrian, at the distance of three miles from each
other. Near the former, the double walls of the Vivarium ^85 were
low or broken; the fortifications of the latter were feebly
guarded: the vigor of the Goths was excited by the hope of
victory and spoil; and if a single post had given way, the
Romans, and Rome itself, were irrecoverably lost. This perilous
day was the most glorious in the life of Belisarius. Amidst
tumult and dismay, the whole plan of the attack and defence was
distinctly present to his mind; he observed the changes of each
instant, weighed every possible advantage, transported his person
to the scenes of danger, and communicated his spirit in calm and
decisive orders. The contest was fiercely maintained from the
morning to the evening; the Goths were repulsed on all sides; and
each Roman might boast that he had vanquished thirty Barbarians,
if the strange disproportion of numbers were not counterbalanced
by the merit of one man. Thirty thousand Goths, according to the
confession of their own chiefs, perished in this bloody action;
and the multitude of the wounded was equal to that of the slain.
When they advanced to the assault, their close disorder suffered
not a javelin to fall without effect; and as they retired, the
populace of the city joined the pursuit, and slaughtered, with
impunity, the backs of their flying enemies. Belisarius
instantly sallied from the gates; and while the soldiers chanted
his name and victory, the hostile engines of war were reduced to
ashes. Such was the loss and consternation of the Goths, that,
from this day, the siege of Rome degenerated into a tedious and
indolent blockade; and they were incessantly harassed by the
Roman general, who, in frequent skirmishes, destroyed above five
thousand of their bravest troops. Their cavalry was unpractised
in the use of the bow; their archers served on foot; and this
divided force was incapable of contending with their adversaries,
whose lances and arrows, at a distance, or at hand, were alike
formidable. The consummate skill of Belisarius embraced the
favorable opportunities; and as he chose the ground and the
moment, as he pressed the charge or sounded the retreat, ^86 the
squadrons which he detached were seldom unsuccessful. These
partial advantages diffused an impatient ardor among the soldiers
and people, who began to feel the hardships of a siege, and to
disregard the dangers of a general engagement. Each plebeian
conceived himself to be a hero, and the infantry, who, since the
decay of discipline, were rejected from the line of battle,
aspired to the ancient honors of the Roman legion. Belisarius
praised the spirit of his troops, condemned their presumption,
yielded to their clamors, and prepared the remedies of a defeat,
the possibility of which he alone had courage to suspect. In the
quarter of the Vatican, the Romans prevailed; and if the
irreparable moments had not been wasted in the pillage of the
camp, they might have occupied the Milvian bridge, and charged in
the rear of the Gothic host. On the other side of the Tyber,
Belisarius advanced from the Pincian and Salarian gates. But his
army, four thousand soldiers perhaps, was lost in a spacious
plain; they were encompassed and oppressed by fresh multitudes,
who continually relieved the broken ranks of the Barbarians. The
valiant leaders of the infantry were unskilled to conquer; they
died: the retreat (a hasty retreat) was covered by the prudence
of the general, and the victors started back with affright from
the formidable aspect of an armed rampart. The reputation of
Belisarius was unsullied by a defeat; and the vain confidence of
the Goths was not less serviceable to his designs than the
repentance and modesty of the Roman troops.

[Footnote 85: Vivarium was an angle in the new wall enclosed for
wild beasts, (Procopius, Goth. l. i. c. 23.) The spot is still
visible in Nardini (l iv. c. 2, p. 159, 160,) and Nolli's great
plan of Rome.]

[Footnote 86: For the Roman trumpet, and its various notes,
consult Lipsius de Militia Romana, (Opp. tom. iii. l. iv.
Dialog. x. p. 125-129.) A mode of distinguishing the charge by
the horse-trumpet of solid brass, and the retreat by the
foot-trumpet of leather and light wood, was recommended by
Procopius, and adopted by Belisarius.]

Chapter XLI: Conquests Of Justinian, Charact Of Balisarius.

Part V.

From the moment that Belisarius had determined to sustain a
siege, his assiduous care provided Rome against the danger of
famine, more dreadful than the Gothic arms. An extraordinary
supply of corn was imported from Sicily: the harvests of Campania
and Tuscany were forcibly swept for the use of the city; and the
rights of private property were infringed by the strong plea of
the public safety. It might easily be foreseen that the enemy
would intercept the aqueducts; and the cessation of the
water-mills was the first inconvenience, which was speedily
removed by mooring large vessels, and fixing mill-stones in the
current of the river. The stream was soon embarrassed by the
trunks of trees, and polluted with dead bodies; yet so effectual
were the precautions of the Roman general, that the waters of the
Tyber still continued to give motion to the mills and drink to
the inhabitants: the more distant quarters were supplied from
domestic wells; and a besieged city might support, without
impatience, the privation of her public baths. A large portion
of Rome, from the Praenestine gate to the church of St. Paul, was
never invested by the Goths; their excursions were restrained by
the activity of the Moorish troops: the navigation of the Tyber,
and the Latin, Appian, and Ostian ways, were left free and
unmolested for the introduction of corn and cattle, or the
retreat of the inhabitants, who sought refuge in Campania or
Sicily. Anxious to relieve himself from a useless and devouring
multitude, Belisarius issued his peremptory orders for the
instant departure of the women, the children, and slaves;
required his soldiers to dismiss their male and female
attendants, and regulated their allowance that one moiety should
be given in provisions, and the other in money. His foresight
was justified by the increase of the public distress, as soon as
the Goths had occupied two important posts in the neighborhood of
Rome. By the loss of the port, or, as it is now called, the city
of Porto, he was deprived of the country on the right of the
Tyber, and the best communication with the sea; and he reflected,
with grief and anger, that three hundred men, could he have
spared such a feeble band, might have defended its impregnable
works. Seven miles from the capital, between the Appian and the
Latin ways, two principal aqueducts crossing, and again crossing
each other: enclosed within their solid and lofty arches a
fortified space, ^87 where Vitiges established a camp of seven
thousand Goths to intercept the convoy of Sicily and Campania.
The granaries of Rome were insensibly exhausted, the adjacent
country had been wasted with fire and sword; such scanty supplies
as might yet be obtained by hasty excursions were the reward of
valor, and the purchase of wealth: the forage of the horses, and
the bread of the soldiers, never failed: but in the last months
of the siege, the people were exposed to the miseries of
scarcity, unwholesome food, ^88 and contagious disorders.
Belisarius saw and pitied their sufferings; but he had foreseen,
and he watched the decay of their loyalty, and the progress of
their discontent. Adversity had awakened the Romans from the
dreams of grandeur and freedom, and taught them the humiliating
lesson, that it was of small moment to their real happiness,
whether the name of their master was derived from the Gothic or
the Latin language. The lieutenant of Justinian listened to
their just complaints, but he rejected with disdain the idea of
flight or capitulation; repressed their clamorous impatience for
battle; amused them with the prospect of a sure and speedy
relief; and secured himself and the city from the effects of
their despair or treachery. Twice in each month he changed the
station of the officers to whom the custody of the gates was
committed: the various precautions of patroles, watch words,
lights, and music, were repeatedly employed to discover whatever
passed on the ramparts; out-guards were posted beyond the ditch,
and the trusty vigilance of dogs supplied the more doubtful
fidelity of mankind. A letter was intercepted, which assured the
king of the Goths that the Asinarian gate, adjoining to the
Lateran church, should be secretly opened to his troops. On the
proof or suspicion of treason, several senators were banished,
and the pope Sylverius was summoned to attend the representative
of his sovereign, at his head-quarters in the Pincian palace. ^89
The ecclesiastics, who followed their bishop, were detained in
the first or second apartment, ^90 and he alone was admitted to
the presence of Belisarius. The conqueror of Rome and Carthage
was modestly seated at the feet of Antonina, who reclined on a
stately couch: the general was silent, but the voice of reproach
and menace issued from the mouth of his imperious wife. Accused
by credible witnesses, and the evidence of his own subscription,
the successor of St. Peter was despoiled of his pontifical
ornaments, clad in the mean habit of a monk, and embarked,
without delay, for a distant exile in the East. ^* At the
emperor's command, the clergy of Rome proceeded to the choice of
a new bishop; and after a solemn invocation of the Holy Ghost,
elected the deacon Vigilius, who had purchased the papal throne
by a bribe of two hundred pounds of gold. The profit, and
consequently the guilt, of this simony, was imputed to
Belisarius: but the hero obeyed the orders of his wife; Antonina
served the passions of the empress; and Theodora lavished her
treasures, in the vain hope of obtaining a pontiff hostile or
indifferent to the council of Chalcedon. ^91
[Footnote 87: Procopius (Goth. l. ii. c. 3) has forgot to name
these aqueducts nor can such a double intersection, at such a
distance from Rome, be clearly ascertained from the writings of
Frontinus, Fabretti, and Eschinard, de Aquis and de Agro Romano,
or from the local maps of Lameti and Cingolani. Seven or eight
miles from the city, (50 stadia,) on the road to Albano, between
the Latin and Appian ways, I discern the remains of an aqueduct,
(probably the Septimian,) a series (630 paces) of arches
twenty-five feet high.]
[Footnote 88: They made sausages of mule's flesh; unwholesome, if
the animals had died of the plague. Otherwise, the famous
Bologna sausages are said to be made of ass flesh, (Voyages de
Labat, tom. ii. p. 218.)]

[Footnote 89: The name of the palace, the hill, and the adjoining
gate, were all derived from the senator Pincius. Some recent
vestiges of temples and churches are now smoothed in the garden
of the Minims of the Trinita del Monte, (Nardini, l. iv. c. 7, p.
196. Eschinard, p. 209, 210, the old plan of Buffalino, and the
great plan of Nolli.) Belisarius had fixed his station between
the Pincian and Salarian gates, (Procop. Goth. l. i. c. 15.)]
[Footnote 90: From the mention of the primum et secundum velum,
it should seem that Belisarius, even in a siege, represented the
emperor, and maintained the proud ceremonial of the Byzantine

[Footnote *: De Beau, as a good Catholic, makes the Pope the
victim of a dark intrigue. Lord Mahon, (p. 225.) with whom I
concur, summed up against him. - M.]

[Footnote 91: Of this act of sacrilege, Procopius (Goth. l. i. c.
25) is a dry and reluctant witness. The narratives of Liberatus
(Breviarium, c. 22) and Anastasius (de Vit. Pont. p. 39) are
characteristic, but passionate. Hear the execrations of Cardinal
Baronius, (A.D. 536, No. 123 A.D. 538, No. 4 - 20:) portentum,
facinus omni execratione dignum.]

The epistle of Belisarius to the emperor announced his
victory, his danger, and his resolution. "According to your
commands, we have entered the dominions of the Goths, and reduced
to your obedience Sicily, Campania, and the city of Rome; but the
loss of these conquests will be more disgraceful than their
acquisition was glorious. Hitherto we have successfully fought
against the multitudes of the Barbarians, but their multitudes
may finally prevail. Victory is the gift of Providence, but the
reputation of kings and generals depends on the success or the
failure of their designs. Permit me to speak with freedom: if
you wish that we should live, send us subsistence; if you desire
that we should conquer, send us arms, horses, and men. The
Romans have received us as friends and deliverers: but in our
present distress, they will be either betrayed by their
confidence, or we shall be oppressed by their treachery and
hatred. For myself, my life is consecrated to your service: it
is yours to reflect, whether my death in this situation will
contribute to the glory and prosperity of your reign." Perhaps
that reign would have been equally prosperous if the peaceful
master of the East had abstained from the conquest of Africa and
Italy: but as Justinian was ambitious of fame, he made some
efforts (they were feeble and languid) to support and rescue his
victorious general. A reenforcement of sixteen hundred
Sclavonians and Huns was led by Martin and Valerian; and as they
reposed during the winter season in the harbors of Greece, the
strength of the men and horses was not impaired by the fatigues
of a sea-voyage; and they distinguished their valor in the first
sally against the besiegers. About the time of the summer
solstice, Euthalius landed at Terracina with large sums of money
for the payment of the troops: he cautiously proceeded along the
Appian way, and this convoy entered Rome through the gate Capena,
^92 while Belisarius, on the other side, diverted the attention
of the Goths by a vigorous and successful skirmish. These
seasonable aids, the use and reputation of which were dexterously
managed by the Roman general, revived the courage, or at least
the hopes, of the soldiers and people. The historian Procopius
was despatched with an important commission to collect the troops
and provisions which Campania could furnish, or Constantinople
had sent; and the secretary of Belisarius was soon followed by
Antonina herself, ^93 who boldly traversed the posts of the
enemy, and returned with the Oriental succors to the relief of
her husband and the besieged city. A fleet of three thousand
Isaurians cast anchor in the Bay of Naples and afterwards at
Ostia. Above two thousand horse, of whom a part were Thracians,
landed at Tarentum; and, after the junction of five hundred
soldiers of Campania, and a train of wagons laden with wine and
flour, they directed their march on the Appian way, from Capua to
the neighborhood of Rome. The forces that arrived by land and
sea were united at the mouth of the Tyber. Antonina convened a
council of war: it was resolved to surmount, with sails and oars,
the adverse stream of the river; and the Goths were apprehensive
of disturbing, by any rash hostilities, the negotiation to which
Belisarius had craftily listened. They credulously believed that
they saw no more than the vanguard of a fleet and army, which
already covered the Ionian Sea and the plains of Campania; and
the illusion was supported by the haughty language of the Roman
general, when he gave audience to the ambassadors of Vitiges.
After a specious discourse to vindicate the justice of his cause,
they declared, that, for the sake of peace, they were disposed to
renounce the possession of Sicily. "The emperor is not less
generous," replied his lieutenant, with a disdainful smile, "in
return for a gift which you no longer possess: he presents you
with an ancient province of the empire; he resigns to the Goths
the sovereignty of the British island." Belisarius rejected with
equal firmness and contempt the offer of a tribute; but he
allowed the Gothic ambassadors to seek their fate from the mouth
of Justinian himself; and consented, with seeming reluctance, to
a truce of three months, from the winter solstice to the equinox
of spring. Prudence might not safely trust either the oaths or
hostages of the Barbarians, and the conscious superiority of the
Roman chief was expressed in the distribution of his troops. As
soon as fear or hunger compelled the Goths to evacuate Alba,
Porto, and Centumcellae, their place was instantly supplied; the
garrisons of Narni, Spoleto, and Perusia, were reenforced, and
the seven camps of the besiegers were gradually encompassed with
the calamities of a siege. The prayers and pilgrimage of Datius,
bishop of Milan, were not without effect; and he obtained one
thousand Thracians and Isaurians, to assist the revolt of Liguria
against her Arian tyrant. At the same time, John the Sanguinary,
^94 the nephew of Vitalian, was detached with two thousand chosen
horse, first to Alba, on the Fucine Lake, and afterwards to the
frontiers of Picenum, on the Hadriatic Sea. "In the province,"
said Belisarius, "the Goths have deposited their families and
treasures, without a guard or the suspicion of danger. Doubtless
they will violate the truce: let them feel your presence, before
they hear of your motions. Spare the Italians; suffer not any
fortified places to remain hostile in your rear; and faithfully
reserve the spoil for an equal and common partition. It would
not be reasonable," he added with a laugh, "that whilst we are
toiling to the destruction of the drones, our more fortunate
brethren should rifle and enjoy the honey."

[Footnote 92: The old Capena was removed by Aurelian to, or near,
the modern gate of St. Sebastian, (see Nolli's plan.) That
memorable spot has been consecrated by the Egerian grove, the
memory of Numa two umphal arches, the sepulchres of the Scipios,
Metelli, &c.]

[Footnote 93: The expression of Procopius has an invidious cast,
(Goth. l. ii. c. 4.) Yet he is speaking of a woman.]

[Footnote 94: Anastasius (p. 40) has preserved this epithet of
Sanguinarius which might do honor to a tiger.]

The whole nation of the Ostrogoths had been assembled for
the attack, and was almost entirely consumed in the siege of
Rome. If any credit be due to an intelligent spectator, one
third at least of their enormous host was destroyed, in frequent
and bloody combats under the walls of the city. The bad fame and
pernicious qualities of the summer air might already be imputed
to the decay of agriculture and population; and the evils of
famine and pestilence were aggravated by their own
licentiousness, and the unfriendly disposition of the country.
While Vitiges struggled with his fortune, while he hesitated
between shame and ruin, his retreat was hastened by domestic
alarms. The king of the Goths was informed by trembling
messengers, that John the Sanguinary spread the devastations of
war from the Apennine to the Hadriatic; that the rich spoils and
innumerable captives of Picenum were lodged in the fortifications
of Rimini; and that this formidable chief had defeated his uncle,
insulted his capital, and seduced, by secret correspondence, the
fidelity of his wife, the imperious daughter of Amalasontha.
Yet, before he retired, Vitiges made a last effort, either to
storm or to surprise the city. A secret passage was discovered
in one of the aqueducts; two citizens of the Vatican were tempted
by bribes to intoxicate the guards of the Aurelian gate; an
attack was meditated on the walls beyond the Tyber, in a place
which was not fortified with towers; and the Barbarians advanced,
with torches and scaling-ladders, to the assault of the Pincian
gate. But every attempt was defeated by the intrepid vigilance
of Belisarius and his band of veterans, who, in the most perilous
moments, did not regret the absence of their companions; and the
Goths, alike destitute of hope and subsistence, clamorously urged
their departure before the truce should expire, and the Roman
cavalry should again be united. One year and nine days after the
commencement of the siege, an army, so lately strong and
triumphant, burnt their tents, and tumultuously repassed the
Milvian bridge. They repassed not with impunity: their thronging
multitudes, oppressed in a narrow passage, were driven headlong
into the Tyber, by their own fears and the pursuit of the enemy;
and the Roman general, sallying from the Pincian gate, inflicted
a severe and disgraceful wound on their retreat. The slow length
of a sickly and desponding host was heavily dragged along the
Flaminian way; from whence the Barbarians were sometimes
compelled to deviate, lest they should encounter the hostile
garrisons that guarded the high road to Rimini and Ravenna. Yet
so powerful was this flying army, that Vitiges spared ten
thousand men for the defence of the cities which he was most
solicitous to preserve, and detached his nephew Uraias, with an
adequate force, for the chastisement of rebellious Milan. At the
head of his principal army, he besieged Rimini, only thirty-three
miles distant from the Gothic capital. A feeble rampart, and a
shallow ditch, were maintained by the skill and valor of John the
Sanguinary, who shared the danger and fatigue of the meanest
soldier, and emulated, on a theatre less illustrious, the
military virtues of his great commander. The towers and
battering-engines of the Barbarians were rendered useless; their
attacks were repulsed; and the tedious blockade, which reduced
the garrison to the last extremity of hunger, afforded time for
the union and march of the Roman forces. A fleet, which had
surprised Ancona, sailed along the coast of the Hadriatic, to the
relief of the besieged city. The eunuch Narses landed in Picenum
with two thousand Heruli and five thousand of the bravest troops
of the East. The rock of the Apennine was forced; ten thousand
veterans moved round the foot of the mountains, under the command
of Belisarius himself; and a new army, whose encampment blazed
with innumerable lights, appeared to advance along the Flaminian
way. Overwhelmed with astonishment and despair, the Goths
abandoned the siege of Rimini, their tents, their standards, and
their leaders; and Vitiges, who gave or followed the example of
flight, never halted till he found a shelter within the walls and
morasses of Ravenna.
To these walls, and to some fortresses destitute of any
mutual support, the Gothic monarchy was now reduced. The
provinces of Italy had embraced the party of the emperor and his
army, gradually recruited to the number of twenty thousand men,
must have achieved an easy and rapid conquest, if their
invincible powers had not been weakened by the discord of the
Roman chiefs. Before the end of the siege, an act of blood,
ambiguous and indiscreet, sullied the fair fame of Belisarius.
Presidius, a loyal Italian, as he fled from Ravenna to Rome, was
rudely stopped by Constantine, the military governor of Spoleto,
and despoiled, even in a church, of two daggers richly inlaid
with gold and precious stones. As soon as the public danger had
subsided, Presidius complained of the loss and injury: his
complaint was heard, but the order of restitution was disobeyed
by the pride and avarice of the offender. Exasperated by the
delay, Presidius boldly arrested the general's horse as he passed
through the forum; and, with the spirit of a citizen, demanded
the common benefit of the Roman laws. The honor of Belisarius
was engaged; he summoned a council; claimed the obedience of his
subordinate officer; and was provoked, by an insolent reply, to
call hastily for the presence of his guards. Constantine,
viewing their entrance as the signal of death, drew his sword,
and rushed on the general, who nimbly eluded the stroke, and was
protected by his friends; while the desperate assassin was
disarmed, dragged into a neighboring chamber, and executed, or
rather murdered, by the guards, at the arbitrary command of
Belisarius. ^95 In this hasty act of violence, the guilt of
Constantine was no longer remembered; the despair and death of
that valiant officer were secretly imputed to the revenge of
Antonina; and each of his colleagues, conscious of the same
rapine, was apprehensive of the same fate. The fear of a common
enemy suspended the effects of their envy and discontent; but in
the confidence of approaching victory, they instigated a powerful
rival to oppose the conqueror of Rome and Africa. From the
domestic service of the palace, and the administration of the
private revenue, Narses the eunuch was suddenly exalted to the
head of an army; and the spirit of a hero, who afterwards
equalled the merit and glory of Belisarius, served only to
perplex the operations of the Gothic war. To his prudent
counsels, the relief of Rimini was ascribed by the leaders of the
discontented faction, who exhorted Narses to assume an
independent and separate command. The epistle of Justinian had
indeed enjoined his obedience to the general; but the dangerous
exception, "as far as may be advantageous to the public service,"
reserved some freedom of judgment to the discreet favorite, who
had so lately departed from the sacred and familiar conversation
of his sovereign. In the exercise of this doubtful right, the
eunuch perpetually dissented from the opinions of Belisarius;
and, after yielding with reluctance to the siege of Urbino, he
deserted his colleague in the night, and marched away to the
conquest of the Aemilian province. The fierce and formidable
bands of the Heruli were attached to the person of Narses; ^96
ten thousand Romans and confederates were persuaded to march
under his banners; every malecontent embraced the fair
opportunity of revenging his private or imaginary wrongs; and the
remaining troops of Belisarius were divided and dispersed from
the garrisons of Sicily to the shores of the Hadriatic. His
skill and perseverance overcame every obstacle: Urbino was taken,
the sieges of Faesulae Orvieto, and Auximum, were undertaken and
vigorously prosecuted; and the eunuch Narses was at length
recalled to the domestic cares of the palace. All dissensions
were healed, and all opposition was subdued, by the temperate
authority of the Roman general, to whom his enemies could not
refuse their esteem; and Belisarius inculcated the salutary
lesson that the forces of the state should compose one body, and
be animated by one soul. But in the interval of discord, the
Goths were permitted to breathe; an important season was lost,
Milan was destroyed, and the northern provinces of Italy were
afflicted by an inundation of the Franks.

[Footnote 95: This transaction is related in the public history
(Goth. l. ii. c. 8) with candor or caution; in the Anecdotes (c.
7) with malevolence or freedom; but Marcellinus, or rather his
continuator, (in Chron.,) casts a shade of premeditated
assassination over the death of Constantine. He had performed
good service at Rome and Spoleto, (Procop. Goth l. i. c. 7, 14;)
but Alemannus confounds him with a Constantianus comes stabuli.]
[Footnote 96: They refused to serve after his departure; sold
their captives and cattle to the Goths; and swore never to fight
against them. Procopius introduces a curious digression on the
manners and adventures of this wandering nation, a part of whom
finally emigrated to Thule or Scandinavia. (Goth. l. ii. c. 14,

When Justinian first meditated the conquest of Italy, he
sent ambassadors to the kings of the Franks, and adjured them, by
the common ties of alliance and religion, to join in the holy
enterprise against the Arians. The Goths, as their want were more
urgent, employed a more effectual mode of persuasion, and vainly
strove, by the gift of lands and money, to purchase the
friendship, or at least the neutrality, of a light and perfidious
nation. ^97 But the arms of Belisarius, and the revolt of the
Italians, had no sooner shaken the Gothic monarchy, than
Theodebert of Austrasia, the most powerful and warlike of the
Merovingian kings, was persuaded to succor their distress by an
indirect and seasonable aid. Without expecting the consent of
their sovereign, the thousand Burgundians, his recent subjects,
descended from the Alps, and joined the troops which Vitiges had
sent to chastise the revolt of Milan. After an obstinate siege,
the capital of Liguria was reduced by famine; but no capitulation
could be obtained, except for the safe retreat of the Roman
garrison. Datius, the orthodox bishop, who had seduced his
countrymen to rebellion ^98 and ruin, escaped to the luxury and
honors of the Byzantine court; ^99 but the clergy, perhaps the
Arian clergy, were slaughtered at the foot of their own altars by
the defenders of the Catholic faith. Three hundred thousand
males were reported to be slain; ^100 the female sex, and the
more precious spoil, was resigned to the Burgundians; and the
houses, or at least the walls, of Milan, were levelled with the
ground. The Goths, in their last moments, were revenged by the
destruction of a city, second only to Rome in size and opulence,
in the splendor of its buildings, or the number of its
inhabitants; and Belisarius sympathized alone in the fate of his
deserted and devoted friends. Encouraged by this successful
inroad, Theodebert himself, in the ensuing spring, invaded the
plains of Italy with an army of one hundred thousand Barbarians.
^101 The king, and some chosen followers, were mounted on
horseback, and armed with lances; the infantry, without bows or
spears, were satisfied with a shield, a sword, and a double-edged
battle-axe, which, in their hands, became a deadly and unerring
weapon. Italy trembled at the march of the Franks; and both the
Gothic prince and the Roman general, alike ignorant of their
designs, solicited, with hope and terror, the friendship of these
dangerous allies. Till he had secured the passage of the Po on
the bridge of Pavia, the grandson of Clovis dissembled his
intentions, which he at length declared, by assaulting, almost at
the same instant, the hostile camps of the Romans and Goths.
Instead of uniting their arms, they fled with equal
precipitation; and the fertile, though desolate provinces of
Liguria and Aemilia, were abandoned to a licentious host of
Barbarians, whose rage was not mitigated by any thoughts of
settlement or conquest. Among the cities which they ruined,
Genoa, not yet constructed of marble, is particularly enumerated;
and the deaths of thousands, according to the regular practice of
war, appear to have excited less horror than some idolatrous
sacrifices of women and children, which were performed with
impunity in the camp of the most Christian king. If it were not a
melancholy truth, that the first and most cruel sufferings must
be the lot of the innocent and helpless, history might exult in
the misery of the conquerors, who, in the midst of riches, were
left destitute of bread or wine, reduced to drink the waters of
the Po, and to feed on the flesh of distempered cattle. The
dysentery swept away one third of their army; and the clamors of
his subjects, who were impatient to pass the Alps, disposed
Theodebert to listen with respect to the mild exhortations of
Belisarius. The memory of this inglorious and destructive
warfare was perpetuated on the medals of Gaul; and Justinian,
without unsheathing his sword, assumed the title of conqueror of
the Franks. The Merovingian prince was offended by the vanity of
the emperor; he affected to pity the fallen fortunes of the
Goths; and his insidious offer of a foederal union was fortified
by the promise or menace of descending from the Alps at the head
of five hundred thousand men. His plans of conquest were
boundless, and perhaps chimerical. The king of Austrasia
threatened to chastise Justinian, and to march to the gates of
Constantinople: ^102 he was overthrown and slain ^103 by a wild
bull, ^104 as he hunted in the Belgic or German forests.
[Footnote 97: This national reproach of perfidy (Procop. Goth. l.
ii. c. 25) offends the ear of La Mothe le Vayer, (tom. viii. p.
163 - 165,) who criticizes, as if he had not read, the Greek

[Footnote 98: Baronius applauds his treason, and justifies the
Catholic bishops - qui ne sub heretico principe degant omnem
lapidem movent - a useful caution. The more rational Muratori
(Annali d'Italia, tom. v. p. 54) hints at the guilt of perjury,
and blames at least the imprudence of Datius.]
[Footnote 99: St. Datius was more successful against devils than
against Barbarians. He travelled with a numerons retinue, and
occupied at Corinth a large house. (Baronius, A.D. 538, No. 89,
A.D. 539, No. 20.)]
[Footnote 100: (Compare Procopius, Goth. l. ii. c. 7, 21.) Yet
such population is incredible; and the second or third city of
Italy need not repine if we only decimate the numbers of the
present text Both Milan and Genoa revived in less than thirty
years, (Paul Diacon de Gestis Langobard. l. ii. c. 38.)
Note: Procopius says distinctly that Milan was the second
city of the West. Which did Gibbon suppose could compete with
it, Ravenna or Naples; the next page he calls it the second. -

[Footnote 101: Besides Procopius, perhaps too Roman, see the
Chronicles of Marius and Marcellinus, Jornandes, (in Success.
Regn. in Muratori, tom. i. p. 241,) and Gregory of Tours, (l.
iii. c. 32, in tom. ii. of the Historians of France.) Gregory
supposes a defeat of Belisarius, who, in Aimoin, (de Gestis
Franc. l. ii. c. 23, in tom. iii. p. 59,) is slain by the
[Footnote 102: Agathias, l. i. p. 14, 15. Could he have seduced
or subdued the Gepidae or Lombards of Pannonia, the Greek
historian is confident that he must have been destroyed in

[Footnote 103: The king pointed his spear - the bull overturned a
tree on his head - he expired the same day. Such is the story of
Agathias; but the original historians of France (tom. ii. p. 202,
403, 558, 667) impute his death to a fever.]

[Footnote 104: Without losing myself in a labyrinth of species
and names - the aurochs, urus, bisons, bubalus, bonasus, buffalo,
&c., (Buffon. Hist. Nat. tom. xi., and Supplement, tom. iii.
vi.,) it is certain, that in the sixth century a large wild
species of horned cattle was hunted in the great forests of the
Vosges in Lorraine, and the Ardennes, (Greg. Turon. tom. ii. l.
x. c. 10, p. 369.)]

Chapter XLI: Conquests Of Justinian, Charact Of Balisarius.

Part VI.

As soon as Belisarius was delivered from his foreign and
domestic enemies, he seriously applied his forces to the final
reduction of Italy. In the siege of Osimo, the general was
nearly transpierced with an arrow, if the mortal stroke had not
been intercepted by one of his guards, who lost, in that pious
office, the use of his hand. The Goths of Osimo, ^* four
thousand warriors, with those of Faesulae and the Cottian Alps,
were among the last who maintained their independence; and their
gallant resistance, which almost tired the patience, deserved the
esteem, of the conqueror. His prudence refused to subscribe the
safe conduct which they asked, to join their brethren of Ravenna;
but they saved, by an honorable capitulation, one moiety at least
of their wealth, with the free alternative of retiring peaceably
to their estates, or enlisting to serve the emperor in his
Persian wars. The multitudes which yet adhered to the standard
of Vitiges far surpassed the number of the Roman troops; but
neither prayers nor defiance, nor the extreme danger of his most
faithful subjects, could tempt the Gothic king beyond the
fortifications of Ravenna. These fortifications were, indeed,
impregnable to the assaults of art or violence; and when
Belisarius invested the capital, he was soon convinced that
famine only could tame the stubborn spirit of the Barbarians.
The sea, the land, and the channels of the Po, were guarded by
the vigilance of the Roman general; and his morality extended the
rights of war to the practice of poisoning the waters, ^105 and
secretly firing the granaries ^106 of a besieged city. ^107 While
he pressed the blockade of Ravenna, he was surprised by the
arrival of two ambassadors from Constantinople, with a treaty of
peace, which Justinian had imprudently signed, without deigning
to consult the author of his victory. By this disgraceful and
precarious agreement, Italy and the Gothic treasure were divided,
and the provinces beyond the Po were left with the regal title to
the successor of Theodoric. The ambassadors were eager to
accomplish their salutary commission; the captive Vitiges
accepted, with transport, the unexpected offer of a crown; honor
was less prevalent among the Goths, than the want and appetite of
food; and the Roman chiefs, who murmured at the continuance of
the war, professed implicit submission to the commands of the
emperor. If Belisarius had possessed only the courage of a
soldier, the laurel would have been snatched from his hand by
timid and envious counsels; but in this decisive moment, he
resolved, with the magnanimity of a statesman, to sustain alone
the danger and merit of generous disobedience. Each of his
officers gave a written opinion that the siege of Ravenna was
impracticable and hopeless: the general then rejected the treaty
of partition, and declared his own resolution of leading Vitiges
in chains to the feet of Justinian. The Goths retired with doubt
and dismay: this peremptory refusal deprived them of the only
signature which they could trust, and filled their minds with a
just apprehension, that a sagacious enemy had discovered the full
extent of their deplorable state. They compared the fame and
fortune of Belisarius with the weakness of their ill- fated king;
and the comparison suggested an extraordinary project, to which
Vitiges, with apparent resignation, was compelled to acquiesce.
Partition would ruin the strength, exile would disgrace the
honor, of the nation; but they offered their arms, their
treasures, and the fortifications of Ravenna, if Belisarius would
disclaim the authority of a master, accept the choice of the
Goths, and assume, as he had deserved, the kingdom of Italy. If
the false lustre of a diadem could have tempted the loyalty of a
faithful subject, his prudence must have foreseen the inconstancy
of the Barbarians, and his rational ambition would prefer the
safe and honorable station of a Roman general. Even the patience
and seeming satisfaction with which he entertained a proposal of
treason, might be susceptible of a malignant interpretation. But
the lieutenant of Justinian was conscious of his own rectitude;
he entered into a dark and crooked path, as it might lead to the
voluntary submission of the Goths; and his dexterous policy
persuaded them that he was disposed to comply with their wishes,
without engaging an oath or a promise for the performance of a
treaty which he secretly abhorred. The day of the surrender of
Ravenna was stipulated by the Gothic ambassadors: a fleet, laden
with provisions, sailed as a welcome guest into the deepest
recess of the harbor: the gates were opened to the fancied king
of Italy; and Belisarius, without meeting an enemy, triumphantly
marched through the streets of an impregnable city. ^108 The
Romans were astonished by their success; the multitudes of tall
and robust Barbarians were confounded by the image of their own
patience and the masculine females, spitting in the faces of
their sons and husbands, most bitterly reproached them for
betraying their dominion and freedom to these pygmies of the
south, contemptible in their numbers, diminutive in their
stature. Before the Goths could recover from the first surprise,
and claim the accomplishment of their doubtful hopes, the victor
established his power in Ravenna, beyond the danger of repentance
and revolt.

[Footnote *: Auximum, p. 175. - M.]

[Footnote 105: In the siege of Auximum, he first labored to
demolish an old aqueduct, and then cast into the stream, 1. dead
bodies; 2. mischievous herbs; and 3. quicklime. (says Procopius,
l. ii. c. 27) Yet both words are used as synonymous in Galen,
Dioscorides, and Lucian, (Hen. Steph. Thesaur. Ling. Graec. tom.
iii. p. 748.)]

[Footnote 106: The Goths suspected Mathasuintha as an accomplice
in the mischief, which perhaps was occasioned by accidental
[Footnote 107: In strict philosophy, a limitation of the rights
of war seems to imply nonsense and contradiction. Grotius
himself is lost in an idle distinction between the jus naturae
and the jus gentium, between poison and infection. He balances
in one scale the passages of Homer (Odyss. A 259, &c.) and
Florus, (l. ii. c. 20, No. 7, ult.;) and in the other, the
examples of Solon (Pausanias, l. x. c. 37) and Belisarius. See
his great work De Jure Belli et Pacis, (l. iii. c. 4, s. 15, 16,
17, and in Barbeyrac's version, tom. ii. p. 257, &c.) Yet I can
understand the benefit and validity of an agreement, tacit or
express, mutually to abstain from certain modes of hostility.
See the Amphictyonic oath in Aeschines, de falsa Legatione.]
[Footnote 108: Ravenna was taken, not in the year 540, but in the
latter end of 539; and Pagi (tom. ii. p. 569) is rectified by
Muratori. (Annali d'Italia, tom. v. p. 62,) who proves from an
original act on papyrus, (Antiquit. Italiae Medii Aevi, tom. ii.
dissert. xxxii. p. 999 - 1007,) Maffei, (Istoria Diplomat. p. 155
- 160,) that before the third of January, 540, peace and free
correspondence were restored between Ravenna and Faenza.]
Vitiges, who perhaps had attempted to escape, was honorably
guarded in his palace; ^109 the flower of the Gothic youth was
selected for the service of the emperor; the remainder of the
people was dismissed to their peaceful habitations in the
southern provinces; and a colony of Italians was invited to
replenish the depopulated city. The submission of the capital
was imitated in the towns and villages of Italy, which had not
been subdued, or even visited, by the Romans; and the independent
Goths, who remained in arms at Pavia and Verona, were ambitious
only to become the subjects of Belisarius. But his inflexible
loyalty rejected, except as the substitute of Justinian, their
oaths of allegiance; and he was not offended by the reproach of
their deputies, that he rather chose to be a slave than a king.

[Footnote 109: He was seized by John the Sanguinary, but an oath
or sacrament was pledged for his safety in the Basilica Julii,
(Hist. Miscell. l. xvii. in Muratori, tom. i. p. 107.) Anastasius
(in Vit. Pont. p. 40) gives a dark but probable account.
Montfaucon is quoted by Mascou (Hist. of the Germans, xii. 21)
for a votive shield representing the captivity of Vitiges and now
in the collection of Signor Landi at Rome.]

After the second victory of Belisarius, envy again
whispered, Justinian listened, and the hero was recalled. "The
remnant of the Gothic war was no longer worthy of his presence: a
gracious sovereign was impatient to reward his services, and to
consult his wisdom; and he alone was capable of defending the
East against the innumerable armies of Persia." Belisarius
understood the suspicion, accepted the excuse, embarked at
Ravenna his spoils and trophies; and proved, by his ready
obedience, that such an abrupt removal from the government of
Italy was not less unjust than it might have been indiscreet. The
emperor received with honorable courtesy both Vitiges and his
more noble consort; and as the king of the Goths conformed to the
Athanasian faith, he obtained, with a rich inheritance of land in
Asia, the rank of senator and patrician. ^110 Every spectator
admired, without peril, the strength and stature of the young
Barbarians: they adored the majesty of the throne, and promised
to shed their blood in the service of their benefactor.
Justinian deposited in the Byzantine palace the treasures of the
Gothic monarchy. A flattering senate was sometime admitted to
gaze on the magnificent spectacle; but it was enviously secluded
from the public view: and the conqueror of Italy renounced,
without a murmur, perhaps without a sigh, the well-earned honors
of a second triumph. His glory was indeed exalted above all
external pomp; and the faint and hollow praises of the court were
supplied, even in a servile age, by the respect and admiration of
his country. Whenever he appeared in the streets and public
places of Constantinople, Belisarius attracted and satisfied the
eyes of the people. His lofty stature and majestic countenance
fulfilled their expectations of a hero; the meanest of his
fellow-citizens were emboldened by his gentle and gracious
demeanor; and the martial train which attended his footsteps left
his person more accessible than in a day of battle. Seven
thousand horsemen, matchless for beauty and valor, were
maintained in the service, and at the private expense, of the
general. ^111 Their prowess was always conspicuous in single
combats, or in the foremost ranks; and both parties confessed
that in the siege of Rome, the guards of Belisarius had alone
vanquished the Barbarian host. Their numbers were continually
augmented by the bravest and most faithful of the enemy; and his
fortunate captives, the Vandals, the Moors, and the Goths,
emulated the attachment of his domestic followers. By the union
of liberality and justice, he acquired the love of the soldiers,
without alienating the affections of the people. The sick and
wounded were relieved with medicines and money; and still more
efficaciously, by the healing visits and smiles of their
commander. The loss of a weapon or a horse was instantly
repaired, and each deed of valor was rewarded by the rich and
honorable gifts of a bracelet or a collar, which were rendered
more precious by the judgment of Belisarius. He was endeared to
the husbandmen by the peace and plenty which they enjoyed under
the shadow of his standard. Instead of being injured, the country
was enriched by the march of the Roman armies; and such was the
rigid discipline of their camp, that not an apple was gathered
from the tree, not a path could be traced in the fields of corn.
Belisarius was chaste and sober. In the license of a military
life, none could boast that they had seen him intoxicated with
wine: the most beautiful captives of Gothic or Vandal race were
offered to his embraces; but he turned aside from their charms,
and the husband of Antonina was never suspected of violating the
laws of conjugal fidelity. The spectator and historian of his
exploits has observed, that amidst the perils of war, he was
daring without rashness, prudent without fear, slow or rapid
according to the exigencies of the moment; that in the deepest
distress he was animated by real or apparent hope, but that he
was modest and humble in the most prosperous fortune. By these
virtues, he equalled or excelled the ancient masters of the
military art. Victory, by sea and land, attended his arms. He
subdued Africa, Italy, and the adjacent islands; led away
captives the successors of Genseric and Theodoric; filled
Constantinople with the spoils of their palaces; and in the space
of six years recovered half the provinces of the Western empire.
In his fame and merit, in wealth and power, he remained without a
rival, the first of the Roman subjects; the voice of envy could
only magnify his dangerous importance; and the emperor might
applaud his own discerning spirit, which had discovered and
raised the genius of Belisarius.
[Footnote 110: Vitiges lived two years at Constantinople, and
imperatoris in affectu convictus (or conjunctus) rebus excessit
humanis. His widow Mathasuenta, the wife and mother of the
patricians, the elder and younger Germanus, united the streams of
Anician and Amali blood, (Jornandes, c. 60, p. 221, in Muratori,
tom. i.)]

[Footnote 111: Procopius, Goth. l. iii. c. 1. Aimoin, a French
monk of the xith century, who had obtained, and has disfigured,
some authentic information of Belisarius, mentions, in his name,
12,000, pueri or slaves - quos propriis alimus stipendiis -
besides 18,000 soldiers, (Historians of France, tom. iii. De
Gestis Franc. l. ii. c. 6, p. 48.)]

It was the custom of the Roman triumphs, that a slave should
be placed behind the chariot to remind the conqueror of the
instability of fortune, and the infirmities of human nature.
Procopius, in his Anecdotes, has assumed that servile and
ungrateful office. The generous reader may cast away the libel,
but the evidence of facts will adhere to his memory; and he will
reluctantly confess, that the fame, and even the virtue, of
Belisarius, were polluted by the lust and cruelty of his wife;
and that hero deserved an appellation which may not drop from the
pen of the decent historian. The mother of Antonina ^112 was a
theatrical prostitute, and both her father and grandfather
exercised, at Thessalonica and Constantinople, the vile, though
lucrative, profession of charioteers. In the various situations
of their fortune she became the companion, the enemy, the
servant, and the favorite of the empress Theodora: these loose
and ambitious females had been connected by similar pleasures;
they were separated by the jealousy of vice, and at length
reconciled by the partnership of guilt. Before her marriage with
Belisarius, Antonina had one husband and many lovers: Photius,
the son of her former nuptials, was of an age to distinguish
himself at the siege of Naples; and it was not till the autumn of
her age and beauty ^113 that she indulged a scandalous attachment
to a Thracian youth. Theodosius had been educated in the
Eunomian heresy; the African voyage was consecrated by the
baptism and auspicious name of the first soldier who embarked;
and the proselyte was adopted into the family of his spiritual
parents, ^114 Belisarius and Antonina. Before they touched the
shores of Africa, this holy kindred degenerated into sensual
love: and as Antonina soon overleaped the bounds of modesty and
caution, the Roman general was alone ignorant of his own
dishonor. During their residence at Carthage, he surprised the
two lovers in a subterraneous chamber, solitary, warm, and almost
naked. Anger flashed from his eyes. "With the help of this
young man," said the unblushing Antonina, "I was secreting our
most precious effects from the knowledge of Justinian." The youth
resumed his garments, and the pious husband consented to
disbelieve the evidence of his own senses. From this pleasing
and perhaps voluntary delusion, Belisarius was awakened at
Syracuse, by the officious information of Macedonia; and that
female attendant, after requiring an oath for her security,
produced two chamberlains, who, like herself, had often beheld
the adulteries of Antonina. A hasty flight into Asia saved
Theodosius from the justice of an injured husband, who had
signified to one of his guards the order of his death; but the
tears of Antonina, and her artful seductions, assured the
credulous hero of her innocence: and he stooped, against his
faith and judgment, to abandon those imprudent friends, who had
presumed to accuse or doubt the chastity of his wife. The
revenge of a guilty woman is implacable and bloody: the
unfortunate Macedonia, with the two witnesses, were secretly
arrested by the minister of her cruelty; their tongues were cut
out, their bodies were hacked into small pieces, and their
remains were cast into the Sea of Syracuse. A rash though
judicious saying of Constantine, "I would sooner have punished
the adulteress than the boy," was deeply remembered by Antonina;
and two years afterwards, when despair had armed that officer
against his general, her sanguinary advice decided and hastened
his execution. Even the indignation of Photius was not forgiven
by his mother; the exile of her son prepared the recall of her
lover; and Theodosius condescended to accept the pressing and
humble invitation of the conqueror of Italy. In the absolute
direction of his household, and in the important commissions of
peace and war, ^115 the favorite youth most rapidly acquired a
fortune of four hundred thousand pounds sterling; and after their
return to Constantinople, the passion of Antonina, at least,
continued ardent and unabated. But fear, devotion, and lassitude
perhaps, inspired Theodosius with more serious thoughts. He
dreaded the busy scandal of the capital, and the indiscreet
fondness of the wife of Belisarius; escaped from her embraces,
and retiring to Ephesus, shaved his head, and took refuge in the
sanctuary of a monastic life. The despair of the new Ariadne
could scarcely have been excused by the death of her husband.
She wept, she tore her hair, she filled the palace with her
cries; "she had lost the dearest of friends, a tender, a
faithful, a laborious friend!" But her warm entreaties, fortified
by the prayers of Belisarius, were insufficient to draw the holy
monk from the solitude of Ephesus. It was not till the general
moved forward for the Persian war, that Theodosius could be
tempted to return to Constantinople; and the short interval
before the departure of Antonina herself was boldly devoted to
love and pleasure.
[Footnote 112: The diligence of Alemannus could add but little to
the four first and most curious chapters of the Anecdotes. Of
these strange Anecdotes, a part may be true, because probable -
and a part true, because improbable. Procopius must have known
the former, and the latter he could scarcely invent.
Note: The malice of court scandal is proverbially inventive;
and of such scandal the "Anecdota" may be an embellished record.
- M.]
[Footnote 113: Procopius intimates (Anecdot. c. 4) that when
Belisarius returned to Italy, (A.D. 543,) Antonina was sixty
years of age. A forced, but more polite construction, which
refers that date to the moment when he was writing, (A.D. 559,)
would be compatible with the manhood of Photius, (Gothic. l. i.
c. 10) in 536.]

[Footnote 114: Gompare the Vandalic War (l. i. c. 12) with the
Anecdotes (c. i.) and Alemannus, (p. 2, 3.) This mode of
baptismal adoption was revived by Leo the philosopher.]

[Footnote 115: In November, 537, Photius arrested the pope,
(Liberat. Brev. c. 22. Pagi, tom. ii. p. 562) About the end of
539, Belisarius sent Theodosius on an important and lucrative
commission to Ravenna, (Goth. l. ii. c. 18.)]
A philosopher may pity and forgive the infirmities of female
nature, from which he receives no real injury: but contemptible
is the husband who feels, and yet endures, his own infamy in that
of his wife. Antonina pursued her son with implacable hatred;
and the gallant Photius ^116 was exposed to her secret
persecutions in the camp beyond the Tigris. Enraged by his own
wrongs, and by the dishonor of his blood, he cast away in his
turn the sentiments of nature, and revealed to Belisarius the
turpitude of a woman who had violated all the duties of a mother
and a wife. From the surprise and indignation of the Roman
general, his former credulity appears to have been sincere: he
embraced the knees of the son of Antonina, adjured him to
remember his obligations rather than his birth, and confirmed at
the altar their holy vows of revenge and mutual defence. The
dominion of Antonina was impaired by absence; and when she met
her husband, on his return from the Persian confines, Belisarius,
in his first and transient emotions, confined her person, and
threatened her life. Photius was more resolved to punish, and
less prompt to pardon: he flew to Ephesus; extorted from a trusty
eunuch of his another the full confession of her guilt; arrested
Theodosius and his treasures in the church of St. John the
Apostle, and concealed his captives, whose execution was only
delayed, in a secure and sequestered fortress of Cilicia. Such a
daring outrage against public justice could not pass with
impunity; and the cause of Antonina was espoused by the empress,
whose favor she had deserved by the recent services of the
disgrace of a praefect, and the exile and murder of a pope. At
the end of the campaign, Belisarius was recalled; he complied, as
usual, with the Imperial mandate. His mind was not prepared for
rebellion: his obedience, however adverse to the dictates of
honor, was consonant to the wishes of his heart; and when he
embraced his wife, at the command, and perhaps in the presence,
of the empress, the tender husband was disposed to forgive or to
be forgiven. The bounty of Theodora reserved for her companion a
more precious favor. "I have found," she said, "my dearest
patrician, a pearl of inestimable value; it has not yet been
viewed by any mortal eye; but the sight and the possession of
this jewel are destined for my friend." ^* As soon as the
curiosity and impatience of Antonina were kindled, the door of a
bed-chamber was thrown open, and she beheld her lover, whom the
diligence of the eunuchs had discovered in his secret prison.
Her silent wonder burst into passionate exclamations of gratitude
and joy, and she named Theodora her queen, her benefactress, and
her savior. The monk of Ephesus was nourished in the palace with
luxury and ambition; but instead of assuming, as he was promised,
the command of the Roman armies, Theodosius expired in the first
fatigues of an amorous interview. ^! The grief of Antonina could
only be assuaged by the sufferings of her son. A youth of
consular rank, and a sickly constitution, was punished, without a
trial, like a malefactor and a slave: yet such was the constancy
of his mind, that Photius sustained the tortures of the scourge
and the rack, ^!! without violating the faith which he had sworn
to Belisarius. After this fruitless cruelty, the son of
Antonina, while his mother feasted with the empress, was buried
in her subterraneous prisons, which admitted not the distinction
of night and day. He twice escaped to the most venerable
sanctuaries of Constantinople, the churches of St. Sophia, and of
the Virgin: but his tyrants were insensible of religion as of
pity; and the helpless youth, amidst the clamors of the clergy
and people, was twice dragged from the altar to the dungeon. His
third attempt was more successful. At the end of three years,
the prophet Zachariah, or some mortal friend, indicated the means
of an escape: he eluded the spies and guards of the empress,
reached the holy sepulchre of Jerusalem, embraced the profession
of a monk; and the abbot Photius was employed, after the death of
Justinian, to reconcile and regulate the churches of Egypt. The
son of Antonina suffered all that an enemy can inflict: her
patient husband imposed on himself the more exquisite misery of
violating his promise and deserting his friend.

[Footnote 116: Theophanes (Chronograph. p. 204) styles him
Photinus, the son-in-law of Belisarius; and he is copied by the
Historia Miscella and Anastasius.]

[Footnote *: This and much of the private scandal in the
"Anecdota" is liable to serious doubt. Who reported all these
private conversations, and how did they reach the ears of
Procopius? - M.]


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