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Title: History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire — Volume 4
Author: Gibbon, Edward, 1737-1794
Language: English
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HISTORY OF THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

Edward Gibbon

With notes by the Rev. H. H. Milman

Vol. 4

1782 (Written), 1845 (Revised)



Chapter XXXIX: Gothic Kingdom Of Italy.--Part I.

     Zeno And Anastasius, Emperors Of The East.--Birth,
     Education, And First Exploits Of Theodoric The Ostrogoth.--
     His Invasion And Conquest Of Italy.--The Gothic Kingdom Of
     Italy.--State Of The West.--Military And Civil Government.--
     The Senator Boethius.--Last Acts And Death Of Theodoric.

After the fall of the Roman empire in the West, an interval of fifty
years, till the memorable reign of Justinian, is faintly marked by the
obscure names and imperfect annals of Zeno, Anastasius, and Justin, who
successively ascended to the throne of Constantinople. During the same
period, Italy revived and flourished under the government of a Gothic
king, who might have deserved a statue among the best and bravest of the
ancient Romans.

Theodoric the Ostrogoth, the fourteenth in lineal descent of the royal
line of the Amali, was born in the neighborhood of Vienna two
years after the death of Attila. A recent victory had restored the
independence of the Ostrogoths; and the three brothers, Walamir,
Theodemir, and Widimir, who ruled that warlike nation with united
counsels, had separately pitched their habitations in the fertile though
desolate province of Pannonia. The Huns still threatened their revolted
subjects, but their hasty attack was repelled by the single forces of
Walamir, and the news of his victory reached the distant camp of his
brother in the same auspicious moment that the favorite concubine of
Theodemir was delivered of a son and heir. In the eighth year of his
age, Theodoric was reluctantly yielded by his father to the public
interest, as the pledge of an alliance which Leo, emperor of the East,
had consented to purchase by an annual subsidy of three hundred pounds
of gold. The royal hostage was educated at Constantinople with care and
tenderness. His body was formed to all the exercises of war, his mind
was expanded by the habits of liberal conversation; he frequented the
schools of the most skilful masters; but he disdained or neglected
the arts of Greece, and so ignorant did he always remain of the first
elements of science, that a rude mark was contrived to represent the
signature of the illiterate king of Italy. As soon as he had attained
the age of eighteen, he was restored to the wishes of the Ostrogoths,
whom the emperor aspired to gain by liberality and confidence. Walamir
had fallen in battle; the youngest of the brothers, Widimir, had led
away into Italy and Gaul an army of Barbarians, and the whole nation
acknowledged for their king the father of Theodoric. His ferocious
subjects admired the strength and stature of their young prince; and he
soon convinced them that he had not degenerated from the valor of his
ancestors. At the head of six thousand volunteers, he secretly left the
camp in quest of adventures, descended the Danube as far as Singidunum,
or Belgrade, and soon returned to his father with the spoils of a
Sarmatian king whom he had vanquished and slain. Such triumphs, however,
were productive only of fame, and the invincible Ostrogoths were reduced
to extreme distress by the want of clothing and food. They unanimously
resolved to desert their Pannonian encampments, and boldly to advance
into the warm and wealthy neighborhood of the Byzantine court, which
already maintained in pride and luxury so many bands of confederate
Goths. After proving, by some acts of hostility, that they could be
dangerous, or at least troublesome, enemies, the Ostrogoths sold at a
high price their reconciliation and fidelity, accepted a donative
of lands and money, and were intrusted with the defence of the Lower
Danube, under the command of Theodoric, who succeeded after his father's
death to the hereditary throne of the Amali.

A hero, descended from a race of kings, must have despised the base
Isaurian who was invested with the Roman purple, without any endowment
of mind or body, without any advantages of royal birth, or superior
qualifications. After the failure of the Theodosian life, the choice of
Pulcheria and of the senate might be justified in some measure by the
characters of Martin and Leo, but the latter of these princes confirmed
and dishonored his reign by the perfidious murder of Aspar and his sons,
who too rigorously exacted the debt of gratitude and obedience. The
inheritance of Leo and of the East was peaceably devolved on his infant
grandson, the son of his daughter Ariadne; and her Isaurian husband, the
fortunate Trascalisseus, exchanged that barbarous sound for the Grecian
appellation of Zeno. After the decease of the elder Leo, he approached
with unnatural respect the throne of his son, humbly received, as
a gift, the second rank in the empire, and soon excited the public
suspicion on the sudden and premature death of his young colleague,
whose life could no longer promote the success of his ambition. But the
palace of Constantinople was ruled by female influence, and agitated by
female passions: and Verina, the widow of Leo, claiming his empire as
her own, pronounced a sentence of deposition against the worthless and
ungrateful servant on whom she alone had bestowed the sceptre of the
East. As soon as she sounded a revolt in the ears of Zeno, he fled with
precipitation into the mountains of Isauria, and her brother Basiliscus,
already infamous by his African expedition, was unanimously proclaimed
by the servile senate. But the reign of the usurper was short and
turbulent. Basiliscus presumed to assassinate the lover of his sister;
he dared to offend the lover of his wife, the vain and insolent
Harmatius, who, in the midst of Asiatic luxury, affected the dress,
the demeanor, and the surname of Achilles. By the conspiracy of the
malecontents, Zeno was recalled from exile; the armies, the capital, the
person, of Basiliscus, were betrayed; and his whole family was condemned
to the long agony of cold and hunger by the inhuman conqueror, who
wanted courage to encounter or to forgive his enemies. The haughty
spirit of Verina was still incapable of submission or repose. She
provoked the enmity of a favorite general, embraced his cause as soon as
he was disgraced, created a new emperor in Syria and Egypt, raised an
army of seventy thousand men, and persisted to the last moment of her
life in a fruitless rebellion, which, according to the fashion of the
age, had been predicted by Christian hermits and Pagan magicians. While
the East was afflicted by the passions of Verina, her daughter Ariadne
was distinguished by the female virtues of mildness and fidelity;
she followed her husband in his exile, and after his restoration, she
implored his clemency in favor of her mother. On the decease of Zeno,
Ariadne, the daughter, the mother, and the widow of an emperor, gave
her hand and the Imperial title to Anastasius, an aged domestic of the
palace, who survived his elevation above twenty-seven years, and whose
character is attested by the acclamation of the people, "Reign as you
have lived!"

Whatever fear of affection could bestow, was profusely lavished by Zeno
on the king of the Ostrogoths; the rank of patrician and consul, the
command of the Palatine troops, an equestrian statue, a treasure in gold
and silver of many thousand pounds, the name of son, and the promise of
a rich and honorable wife. As long as Theodoric condescended to serve,
he supported with courage and fidelity the cause of his benefactor; his
rapid march contributed to the restoration of Zeno; and in the second
revolt, the _Walamirs_, as they were called, pursued and pressed the
Asiatic rebels, till they left an easy victory to the Imperial troops.
But the faithful servant was suddenly converted into a formidable enemy,
who spread the flames of war from Constantinople to the Adriatic; many
flourishing cities were reduced to ashes, and the agriculture of Thrace
was almost extirpated by the wanton cruelty of the Goths, who deprived
their captive peasants of the right hand that guided the plough. On
such occasions, Theodoric sustained the loud and specious reproach of
disloyalty, of ingratitude, and of insatiate avarice, which could be
only excused by the hard necessity of his situation. He reigned, not as
the monarch, but as the minister of a ferocious people, whose spirit was
unbroken by slavery, and impatient of real or imaginary insults. Their
poverty was incurable; since the most liberal donatives were soon
dissipated in wasteful luxury, and the most fertile estates became
barren in their hands; they despised, but they envied, the laborious
provincials; and when their subsistence had failed, the Ostrogoths
embraced the familiar resources of war and rapine. It had been the wish
of Theodoric (such at least was his declaration) to lead a peaceful,
obscure, obedient life on the confines of Scythia, till the Byzantine
court, by splendid and fallacious promises, seduced him to attack
a confederate tribe of Goths, who had been engaged in the party
of Basiliscus. He marched from his station in Mæsia, on the solemn
assurance that before he reached Adrianople, he should meet a plentiful
convoy of provisions, and a reënforcement of eight thousand horse
and thirty thousand foot, while the legions of Asia were encamped at
Heraclea to second his operations. These measures were disappointed by
mutual jealousy. As he advanced into Thrace, the son of Theodemir found
an inhospitable solitude, and his Gothic followers, with a heavy train
of horses, of mules, and of wagons, were betrayed by their guides among
the rocks and precipices of Mount Sondis, where he was assaulted by the
arms and invectives of Theodoric the son of Triarius. From a neighboring
height, his artful rival harangued the camp of the _Walamirs_, and
branded their leader with the opprobrious names of child, of madman, of
perjured traitor, the enemy of his blood and nation. "Are you ignorant,"
exclaimed the son of Triarius, "that it is the constant policy of the
Romans to destroy the Goths by each other's swords? Are you insensible
that the victor in this unnatural contest will be exposed, and justly
exposed, to their implacable revenge? Where are those warriors, my
kinsmen and thy own, whose widows now lament that their lives were
sacrificed to thy rash ambition? Where is the wealth which thy soldiers
possessed when they were first allured from their native homes to
enlist under thy standard? Each of them was then master of three or four
horses; they now follow thee on foot, like slaves, through the deserts
of Thrace; those men who were tempted by the hope of measuring gold with
a bushel, those brave men who are as free and as noble as thyself." A
language so well suited to the temper of the Goths excited clamor and
discontent; and the son of Theodemir, apprehensive of being left alone,
was compelled to embrace his brethren, and to imitate the example of
Roman perfidy.

In every state of his fortune, the prudence and firmness of Theodoric
were equally conspicuous; whether he threatened Constantinople at the
head of the confederate Goths, or retreated with a faithful band to the
mountains and sea-coast of Epirus. At length the accidental death of
the son of Triarius destroyed the balance which the Romans had been so
anxious to preserve, the whole nation acknowledged the supremacy of the
Amali, and the Byzantine court subscribed an ignominious and oppressive
treaty. The senate had already declared, that it was necessary to choose
a party among the Goths, since the public was unequal to the support of
their united forces; a subsidy of two thousand pounds of gold, with
the ample pay of thirteen thousand men, were required for the least
considerable of their armies; and the Isaurians, who guarded not the
empire but the emperor, enjoyed, besides the privilege of rapine, an
annual pension of five thousand pounds. The sagacious mind of Theodoric
soon perceived that he was odious to the Romans, and suspected by the
Barbarians: he understood the popular murmur, that his subjects were
exposed in their frozen huts to intolerable hardships, while their king
was dissolved in the luxury of Greece, and he prevented the painful
alternative of encountering the Goths, as the champion, or of leading
them to the field, as the enemy, of Zeno. Embracing an enterprise worthy
of his courage and ambition, Theodoric addressed the emperor in the
following words: "Although your servant is maintained in affluence by
your liberality, graciously listen to the wishes of my heart! Italy, the
inheritance of your predecessors, and Rome itself, the head and mistress
of the world, now fluctuate under the violence and oppression of Odoacer
the mercenary. Direct me, with my national troops, to march against
the tyrant. If I fall, you will be relieved from an expensive and
troublesome friend: if, with the divine permission, I succeed, I shall
govern in your name, and to your glory, the Roman senate, and the part
of the republic delivered from slavery by my victorious arms." The
proposal of Theodoric was accepted, and perhaps had been suggested, by
the Byzantine court. But the forms of the commission, or grant,
appear to have been expressed with a prudent ambiguity, which might be
explained by the event; and it was left doubtful, whether the conqueror
of Italy should reign as the lieutenant, the vassal, or the ally, of the
emperor of the East.

The reputation both of the leader and of the war diffused a universal
ardor; the _Walamirs_ were multiplied by the Gothic swarms already
engaged in the service, or seated in the provinces, of the empire; and
each bold Barbarian, who had heard of the wealth and beauty of Italy,
was impatient to seek, through the most perilous adventures, the
possession of such enchanting objects. The march of Theodoric must be
considered as the emigration of an entire people; the wives and children
of the Goths, their aged parents, and most precious effects, were
carefully transported; and some idea may be formed of the heavy baggage
that now followed the camp, by the loss of two thousand wagons, which
had been sustained in a single action in the war of Epirus. For their
subsistence, the Goths depended on the magazines of corn which was
ground in portable mills by the hands of their women; on the milk and
flesh of their flocks and herds; on the casual produce of the chase, and
upon the contributions which they might impose on all who should
presume to dispute the passage, or to refuse their friendly assistance.
Notwithstanding these precautions, they were exposed to the danger, and
almost to the distress, of famine, in a march of seven hundred miles,
which had been undertaken in the depth of a rigorous winter. Since the
fall of the Roman power, Dacia and Pannonia no longer exhibited the
rich prospect of populous cities, well-cultivated fields, and convenient
highways: the reign of barbarism and desolation was restored, and the
tribes of Bulgarians, Gepidæ, and Sarmatians, who had occupied the
vacant province, were prompted by their native fierceness, or the
solicitations of Odoacer, to resist the progress of his enemy. In many
obscure though bloody battles, Theodoric fought and vanquished; till at
length, surmounting every obstacle by skilful conduct and persevering
courage, he descended from the Julian Alps, and displayed his invincible
banners on the confines of Italy.

Odoacer, a rival not unworthy of his arms, had already occupied the
advantageous and well-known post of the River Sontius, near the ruins of
Aquileia, at the head of a powerful host, whose independent _kings_
or leaders disdained the duties of subordination and the prudence of
delays. No sooner had Theodoric gained a short repose and refreshment to
his wearied cavalry, than he boldly attacked the fortifications of the
enemy; the Ostrogoths showed more ardor to acquire, than the mercenaries
to defend, the lands of Italy; and the reward of the first victory was
the possession of the Venetian province as far as the walls of Verona.
In the neighborhood of that city, on the steep banks of the rapid
Adige, he was opposed by a new army, reënforced in its numbers, and not
impaired in its courage: the contest was more obstinate, but the event
was still more decisive; Odoacer fled to Ravenna, Theodoric advanced
to Milan, and the vanquished troops saluted their conqueror with loud
acclamations of respect and fidelity. But their want either of constancy
or of faith soon exposed him to the most imminent danger; his vanguard,
with several Gothic counts, which had been rashly intrusted to
a deserter, was betrayed and destroyed near Faenza by his double
treachery; Odoacer again appeared master of the field, and the invader,
strongly intrenched in his camp of Pavia, was reduced to solicit the
aid of a kindred nation, the Visigoths of Gaul. In the course of
this History, the most voracious appetite for war will be abundantly
satiated; nor can I much lament that our dark and imperfect materials do
not afford a more ample narrative of the distress of Italy, and of the
fierce conflict, which was finally decided by the abilities, experience,
and valor of the Gothic king. Immediately before the battle of Verona,
he visited the tent of his mother and sister, and requested, that on
a day, the most illustrious festival of his life, they would adorn him
with the rich garments which they had worked with their own hands. "Our
glory," said he, "is mutual and inseparable. You are known to the world
as the mother of Theodoric; and it becomes me to prove, that I am the
genuine offspring of those heroes from whom I claim my descent." The
wife or concubine of Theodemir was inspired with the spirit of the
German matrons, who esteemed their sons' honor far above their safety;
and it is reported, that in a desperate action, when Theodoric himself
was hurried along by the torrent of a flying crowd, she boldly met them
at the entrance of the camp, and, by her generous reproaches, drove them
back on the swords of the enemy.

From the Alps to the extremity of Calabria, Theodoric reigned by the
right of conquest; the Vandal ambassadors surrendered the Island of
Sicily, as a lawful appendage of his kingdom; and he was accepted as
the deliverer of Rome by the senate and people, who had shut their gates
against the flying usurper. Ravenna alone, secure in the fortifications
of art and nature, still sustained a siege of almost three years; and
the daring sallies of Odoacer carried slaughter and dismay into the
Gothic camp. At length, destitute of provisions and hopeless of relief,
that unfortunate monarch yielded to the groans of his subjects and the
clamors of his soldiers. A treaty of peace was negotiated by the bishop
of Ravenna; the Ostrogoths were admitted into the city, and the hostile
kings consented, under the sanction of an oath, to rule with equal
and undivided authority the provinces of Italy. The event of such an
agreement may be easily foreseen. After some days had been devoted to
the semblance of joy and friendship, Odoacer, in the midst of a solemn
banquet, was stabbed by the hand, or at least by the command, of his
rival. Secret and effectual orders had been previously despatched; the
faithless and rapacious mercenaries, at the same moment, and without
resistance, were universally massacred; and the royalty of Theodoric was
proclaimed by the Goths, with the tardy, reluctant, ambiguous consent
of the emperor of the East. The design of a conspiracy was imputed,
according to the usual forms, to the prostrate tyrant; but his
innocence, and the guilt of his conqueror, are sufficiently proved by
the advantageous treaty which _force_ would not sincerely have granted,
nor _weakness_ have rashly infringed. The jealousy of power, and the
mischiefs of discord, may suggest a more decent apology, and a sentence
less rigorous may be pronounced against a crime which was necessary to
introduce into Italy a generation of public felicity. The living author
of this felicity was audaciously praised in his own presence by
sacred and profane orators; but history (in his time she was mute and
inglorious) has not left any just representation of the events which
displayed, or of the defects which clouded, the virtues of Theodoric.
One record of his fame, the volume of public epistles composed by
Cassiodorus in the royal name, is still extant, and has obtained more
implicit credit than it seems to deserve. They exhibit the forms, rather
than the substance, of his government; and we should vainly search
for the pure and spontaneous sentiments of the Barbarian amidst the
declamation and learning of a sophist, the wishes of a Roman senator,
the precedents of office, and the vague professions, which, in
every court, and on every occasion, compose the language of discreet
ministers. The reputation of Theodoric may repose with more confidence
on the visible peace and prosperity of a reign of thirty-three years;
the unanimous esteem of his own times, and the memory of his wisdom and
courage, his justice and humanity, which was deeply impressed on the
minds of the Goths and Italians.

The partition of the lands of Italy, of which Theodoric assigned
the third part to his soldiers, is _honorably_ arraigned as the sole
injustice of his life. And even this act may be fairly justified by
the example of Odoacer, the rights of conquest, the true interest of the
Italians, and the sacred duty of subsisting a whole people, who, on the
faith of his promises, had transported themselves into a distant land.
Under the reign of Theodoric, and in the happy climate of Italy, the
Goths soon multiplied to a formidable host of two hundred thousand men,
and the whole amount of their families may be computed by the ordinary
addition of women and children. Their invasion of property, a part of
which must have been already vacant, was disguised by the generous but
improper name of _hospitality_; these unwelcome guests were irregularly
dispersed over the face of Italy, and the lot of each Barbarian was
adequate to his birth and office, the number of his followers, and the
rustic wealth which he possessed in slaves and cattle. The distinction
of noble and plebeian were acknowledged; but the lands of every freeman
were exempt from taxes, and he enjoyed the inestimable privilege
of being subject only to the laws of his country. Fashion, and even
convenience, soon persuaded the conquerors to assume the more elegant
dress of the natives, but they still persisted in the use of their
mother-tongue; and their contempt for the Latin schools was applauded
by Theodoric himself, who gratified their prejudices, or his own, by
declaring, that the child who had trembled at a rod, would never dare to
look upon a sword. Distress might sometimes provoke the indigent Roman
to assume the ferocious manners which were insensibly relinquished by
the rich and luxurious Barbarian; but these mutual conversions were not
encouraged by the policy of a monarch who perpetuated the separation of
the Italians and Goths; reserving the former for the arts of peace, and
the latter for the service of war. To accomplish this design, he studied
to protect his industrious subjects, and to moderate the violence,
without enervating the valor, of his soldiers, who were maintained for
the public defence. They held their lands and benefices as a military
stipend: at the sound of the trumpet, they were prepared to march under
the conduct of their provincial officers; and the whole extent of Italy
was distributed into the several quarters of a well-regulated camp. The
service of the palace and of the frontiers was performed by choice or by
rotation; and each extraordinary fatigue was recompensed by an increase
of pay and occasional donatives. Theodoric had convinced his brave
companions, that empire must be acquired and defended by the same arts.
After his example, they strove to excel in the use, not only of the
lance and sword, the instruments of their victories, but of the missile
weapons, which they were too much inclined to neglect; and the lively
image of war was displayed in the daily exercise and annual reviews of
the Gothic cavalry. A firm though gentle discipline imposed the habits
of modesty, obedience, and temperance; and the Goths were instructed
to spare the people, to reverence the laws, to understand the duties of
civil society, and to disclaim the barbarous license of judicial combat
and private revenge.



Chapter XXXIX: Gothic Kingdom Of Italy.--Part II.

Among the Barbarians of the West, the victory of Theodoric had spread
a general alarm. But as soon as it appeared that he was satisfied with
conquest and desirous of peace, terror was changed into respect, and
they submitted to a powerful mediation, which was uniformly employed
for the best purposes of reconciling their quarrels and civilizing their
manners. The ambassadors who resorted to Ravenna from the most distant
countries of Europe, admired his wisdom, magnificence, and courtesy; and
if he sometimes accepted either slaves or arms, white horses or
strange animals, the gift of a sun-dial, a water-clock, or a musician,
admonished even the princes of Gaul of the superior art and industry of
his Italian subjects. His domestic alliances, a wife, two daughters, a
sister, and a niece, united the family of Theodoric with the kings
of the Franks, the Burgundians, the Visigoths, the Vandals, and the
Thuringians, and contributed to maintain the harmony, or at least the
balance, of the great republic of the West. It is difficult in the dark
forests of Germany and Poland to pursue the emigrations of the Heruli,
a fierce people who disdained the use of armor, and who condemned their
widows and aged parents not to survive the loss of their husbands, or
the decay of their strength. The king of these savage warriors solicited
the friendship of Theodoric, and was elevated to the rank of his son,
according to the barbaric rites of a military adoption. From the shores
of the Baltic, the Æstians or Livonians laid their offerings of native
amber at the feet of a prince, whose fame had excited them to undertake
an unknown and dangerous journey of fifteen hundred miles. With
the country from whence the Gothic nation derived their origin, he
maintained a frequent and friendly correspondence: the Italians were
clothed in the rich sables of Sweden; and one of its sovereigns, after
a voluntary or reluctant abdication, found a hospitable retreat in the
palace of Ravenna. He had reigned over one of the thirteen populous
tribes who cultivated a small portion of the great island or peninsula
of Scandinavia, to which the vague appellation of Thule has been
sometimes applied. That northern region was peopled, or had been
explored, as high as the sixty-eighth degree of latitude, where the
natives of the polar circle enjoy and lose the presence of the sun at
each summer and winter solstice during an equal period of forty days.
The long night of his absence or death was the mournful season of
distress and anxiety, till the messengers, who had been sent to
the mountain tops, descried the first rays of returning light, and
proclaimed to the plain below the festival of his resurrection.

The life of Theodoric represents the rare and meritorious example of a
Barbarian, who sheathed his sword in the pride of victory and the vigor
of his age. A reign of three and thirty years was consecrated to
the duties of civil government, and the hostilities, in which he was
sometimes involved, were speedily terminated by the conduct of his
lieutenants, the discipline of his troops, the arms of his allies, and
even by the terror of his name. He reduced, under a strong and regular
government, the unprofitable countries of Rhætia, Noricum, Dalmatia,
and Pannonia, from the source of the Danube and the territory of the
Bavarians, to the petty kingdom erected by the Gepidæ on the ruins of
Sirmium. His prudence could not safely intrust the bulwark of Italy to
such feeble and turbulent neighbors; and his justice might claim the
lands which they oppressed, either as a part of his kingdom, or as the
inheritance of his father. The greatness of a servant, who was named
perfidious because he was successful, awakened the jealousy of the
emperor Anastasius; and a war was kindled on the Dacian frontier, by the
protection which the Gothic king, in the vicissitude of human affairs,
had granted to one of the descendants of Attila. Sabinian, a general
illustrious by his own and father's merit, advanced at the head of ten
thousand Romans; and the provisions and arms, which filled a long train
of wagons, were distributed to the fiercest of the Bulgarian tribes.
But in the fields of Margus, the eastern powers were defeated by the
inferior forces of the Goths and Huns; the flower and even the hope
of the Roman armies was irretrievably destroyed; and such was the
temperance with which Theodoric had inspired his victorious troops,
that, as their leader had not given the signal of pillage, the rich
spoils of the enemy lay untouched at their feet. Exasperated by this
disgrace, the Byzantine court despatched two hundred ships and eight
thousand men to plunder the sea-coast of Calabria and Apulia: they
assaulted the ancient city of Tarentum, interrupted the trade and
agriculture of a happy country, and sailed back to the Hellespont, proud
of their piratical victory over a people whom they still presumed to
consider as their _Roman_ brethren. Their retreat was possibly hastened
by the activity of Theodoric; Italy was covered by a fleet of a thousand
light vessels, which he constructed with incredible despatch; and his
firm moderation was soon rewarded by a solid and honorable peace. He
maintained, with a powerful hand, the balance of the West, till it was
at length overthrown by the ambition of Clovis; and although unable to
assist his rash and unfortunate kinsman, the king of the Visigoths, he
saved the remains of his family and people, and checked the Franks in
the midst of their victorious career. I am not desirous to prolong or
repeat this narrative of military events, the least interesting of the
reign of Theodoric; and shall be content to add, that the Alemanni were
protected, that an inroad of the Burgundians was severely chastised, and
that the conquest of Arles and Marseilles opened a free communication
with the Visigoths, who revered him as their national protector, and
as the guardian of his grandchild, the infant son of Alaric. Under
this respectable character, the king of Italy restored the prætorian
præfecture of the Gauls, reformed some abuses in the civil government
of Spain, and accepted the annual tribute and apparent submission of its
military governor, who wisely refused to trust his person in the palace
of Ravenna. The Gothic sovereignty was established from Sicily to the
Danube, from Sirmium or Belgrade to the Atlantic Ocean; and the Greeks
themselves have acknowledged that Theodoric reigned over the fairest
portion of the Western empire.

The union of the Goths and Romans might have fixed for ages the
transient happiness of Italy; and the first of nations, a new people of
free subjects and enlightened soldiers, might have gradually arisen from
the mutual emulation of their respective virtues. But the sublime merit
of guiding or seconding such a revolution was not reserved for the reign
of Theodoric: he wanted either the genius or the opportunities of a
legislator; and while he indulged the Goths in the enjoyment of rude
liberty, he servilely copied the institutions, and even the abuses,
of the political system which had been framed by Constantine and his
successors. From a tender regard to the expiring prejudices of Rome,
the Barbarian declined the name, the purple, and the diadem, of the
emperors; but he assumed, under the hereditary title of king, the whole
substance and plenitude of Imperial prerogative. His addresses to the
eastern throne were respectful and ambiguous: he celebrated, in pompous
style, the harmony of the two republics, applauded his own government as
the perfect similitude of a sole and undivided empire, and claimed above
the kings of the earth the same preeminence which he modestly allowed to
the person or rank of Anastasius. The alliance of the East and West was
annually declared by the unanimous choice of two consuls; but it should
seem that the Italian candidate who was named by Theodoric accepted a
formal confirmation from the sovereign of Constantinople. The Gothic
palace of Ravenna reflected the image of the court of Theodosius or
Valentinian. The Prætorian præfect, the præfect of Rome, the quæstor,
the master of the offices, with the public and patrimonial treasurers,
* whose functions are painted in gaudy colors by the rhetoric of
Cassiodorus, still continued to act as the ministers of state. And
the subordinate care of justice and the revenue was delegated to seven
consulars, three correctors, and five presidents, who governed the
fifteen _regions_ of Italy according to the principles, and even the
forms, of Roman jurisprudence. The violence of the conquerors was
abated or eluded by the slow artifice of judicial proceedings; the civil
administration, with its honors and emoluments, was confined to the
Italians; and the people still preserved their dress and language, their
laws and customs, their personal freedom, and two thirds of their landed
property. It had been the object of Augustus to conceal the introduction
of monarchy; it was the policy of Theodoric to disguise the reign of a
Barbarian. If his subjects were sometimes awakened from this pleasing
vision of a Roman government, they derived more substantial comfort from
the character of a Gothic prince, who had penetration to discern, and
firmness to pursue, his own and the public interest. Theodoric loved the
virtues which he possessed, and the talents of which he was destitute.
Liberius was promoted to the office of Prætorian præfect for his
unshaken fidelity to the unfortunate cause of Odoacer. The ministers of
Theodoric, Cassiodorus, and Boethius, have reflected on his reign the
lustre of their genius and learning. More prudent or more fortunate than
his colleague, Cassiodorus preserved his own esteem without forfeiting
the royal favor; and after passing thirty years in the honors of the
world, he was blessed with an equal term of repose in the devout and
studious solitude of Squillace.

As the patron of the republic, it was the interest and duty of the
Gothic king to cultivate the affections of the senate and people.
The nobles of Rome were flattered by sonorous epithets and formal
professions of respect, which had been more justly applied to the merit
and authority of their ancestors. The people enjoyed, without fear or
danger, the three blessings of a capital, order, plenty, and public
amusements. A visible diminution of their numbers may be found even
in the measure of liberality; yet Apulia, Calabria, and Sicily, poured
their tribute of corn into the granaries of Rome an allowance of bread
and meat was distributed to the indigent citizens; and every office was
deemed honorable which was consecrated to the care of their health and
happiness. The public games, such as the Greek ambassador might politely
applaud, exhibited a faint and feeble copy of the magnificence of the
Cæsars: yet the musical, the gymnastic, and the pantomime arts, had not
totally sunk in oblivion; the wild beasts of Africa still exercised
in the amphitheatre the courage and dexterity of the hunters; and the
indulgent Goth either patiently tolerated or gently restrained the
blue and green factions, whose contests so often filled the circus with
clamor and even with blood. In the seventh year of his peaceful reign,
Theodoric visited the old capital of the world; the senate and
people advanced in solemn procession to salute a second Trajan, a new
Valentinian; and he nobly supported that character by the assurance of
a just and legal government, in a discourse which he was not afraid to
pronounce in public, and to inscribe on a tablet of brass. Rome, in this
august ceremony, shot a last ray of declining glory; and a saint, the
spectator of this pompous scene, could only hope, in his pious fancy,
that it was excelled by the celestial splendor of the new Jerusalem.
During a residence of six months, the fame, the person, and the
courteous demeanor of the Gothic king, excited the admiration of the
Romans, and he contemplated, with equal curiosity and surprise, the
monuments that remained of their ancient greatness. He imprinted the
footsteps of a conqueror on the Capitoline hill, and frankly confessed
that each day he viewed with fresh wonder the forum of Trajan and his
lofty column. The theatre of Pompey appeared, even in its decay, as a
huge mountain artificially hollowed, and polished, and adorned by human
industry; and he vaguely computed, that a river of gold must have been
drained to erect the colossal amphitheatre of Titus. From the mouths of
fourteen aqueducts, a pure and copious stream was diffused into every
part of the city; among these the Claudian water, which arose at the
distance of thirty-eight miles in the Sabine mountains, was conveyed
along a gentle though constant declivity of solid arches, till it
descended on the summit of the Aventine hill. The long and spacious
vaults which had been constructed for the purpose of common sewers,
subsisted, after twelve centuries, in their pristine strength; and these
subterraneous channels have been preferred to all the visible wonders of
Rome. The Gothic kings, so injuriously accused of the ruin of antiquity,
were anxious to preserve the monuments of the nation whom they had
subdued. The royal edicts were framed to prevent the abuses, the
neglect, or the depredations of the citizens themselves; and a professed
architect, the annual sum of two hundred pounds of gold, twenty-five
thousand tiles, and the receipt of customs from the Lucrine port, were
assigned for the ordinary repairs of the walls and public edifices. A
similar care was extended to the statues of metal or marble of men or
animals. The spirit of the horses, which have given a modern name to the
Quirinal, was applauded by the Barbarians; the brazen elephants of
the _Via sacra_ were diligently restored; the famous heifer of Myron
deceived the cattle, as they were driven through the forum of peace; and
an officer was created to protect those works of rat, which Theodoric
considered as the noblest ornament of his kingdom.



Chapter XXXIX: Gothic Kingdom Of Italy.--Part III.

After the example of the last emperors, Theodoric preferred the
residence of Ravenna, where he cultivated an orchard with his own hands.
As often as the peace of his kingdom was threatened (for it was never
invaded) by the Barbarians, he removed his court to Verona on the
northern frontier, and the image of his palace, still extant on a coin,
represents the oldest and most authentic model of Gothic architecture.
These two capitals, as well as Pavia, Spoleto, Naples, and the rest
of the Italian cities, acquired under his reign the useful or splendid
decorations of churches, aqueducts, baths, porticos, and palaces. But
the happiness of the subject was more truly conspicuous in the busy
scene of labor and luxury, in the rapid increase and bold enjoyment
of national wealth. From the shades of Tibur and Præneste, the Roman
senators still retired in the winter season to the warm sun, and
salubrious springs of Baiæ; and their villas, which advanced on solid
moles into the Bay of Naples, commanded the various prospect of the sky,
the earth, and the water. On the eastern side of the Adriatic, a new
Campania was formed in the fair and fruitful province of Istria, which
communicated with the palace of Ravenna by an easy navigation of
one hundred miles. The rich productions of Lucania and the adjacent
provinces were exchanged at the Marcilian fountain, in a populous fair
annually dedicated to trade, intemperance, and superstition. In the
solitude of Comum, which had once been animated by the mild genius of
Pliny, a transparent basin above sixty miles in length still reflected
the rural seats which encompassed the margin of the Larian lake; and
the gradual ascent of the hills was covered by a triple plantation of
olives, of vines, and of chestnut trees. Agriculture revived under the
shadow of peace, and the number of husbandmen was multiplied by the
redemption of captives. The iron mines of Dalmatia, a gold mine in
Bruttium, were carefully explored, and the Pomptine marshes, as well as
those of Spoleto, were drained and cultivated by private undertakers,
whose distant reward must depend on the continuance of the public
prosperity. Whenever the seasons were less propitious, the doubtful
precautions of forming magazines of corn, fixing the price, and
prohibiting the exportation, attested at least the benevolence of the
state; but such was the extraordinary plenty which an industrious people
produced from a grateful soil, that a gallon of wine was sometimes sold
in Italy for less than three farthings, and a quarter of wheat at about
five shillings and sixpence. A country possessed of so many valuable
objects of exchange soon attracted the merchants of the world, whose
beneficial traffic was encouraged and protected by the liberal spirit of
Theodoric. The free intercourse of the provinces by land and water was
restored and extended; the city gates were never shut either by day or
by night; and the common saying, that a purse of gold might be safely
left in the fields, was expressive of the conscious security of the
inhabitants.

A difference of religion is always pernicious, and often fatal, to the
harmony of the prince and people: the Gothic conqueror had been educated
in the profession of Arianism, and Italy was devoutly attached to the
Nicene faith. But the persuasion of Theodoric was not infected by
zeal; and he piously adhered to the heresy of his fathers, without
condescending to balance the subtile arguments of theological
metaphysics. Satisfied with the private toleration of his Arian
sectaries, he justly conceived himself to be the guardian of the
public worship, and his external reverence for a superstition which he
despised, may have nourished in his mind the salutary indifference of a
statesman or philosopher. The Catholics of his dominions acknowledged,
perhaps with reluctance, the peace of the church; their clergy,
according to the degrees of rank or merit, were honorably entertained in
the palace of Theodoric; he esteemed the living sanctity of Cæsarius
and Epiphanius, the orthodox bishops of Arles and Pavia; and presented a
decent offering on the tomb of St. Peter, without any scrupulous inquiry
into the creed of the apostle. His favorite Goths, and even his mother,
were permitted to retain or embrace the Athanasian faith, and his long
reign could not afford the example of an Italian Catholic, who, either
from choice or compulsion, had deviated into the religion of the
conqueror. The people, and the Barbarians themselves, were edified by
the pomp and order of religious worship; the magistrates were instructed
to defend the just immunities of ecclesiastical persons and possessions;
the bishops held their synods, the metropolitans exercised their
jurisdiction, and the privileges of sanctuary were maintained or
moderated according to the spirit of the Roman jurisprudence. With the
protection, Theodoric assumed the legal supremacy, of the church; and
his firm administration restored or extended some useful prerogatives
which had been neglected by the feeble emperors of the West. He was not
ignorant of the dignity and importance of the Roman pontiff, to whom the
venerable name of Pope was now appropriated. The peace or the revolt of
Italy might depend on the character of a wealthy and popular bishop,
who claimed such ample dominion both in heaven and earth; who had been
declared in a numerous synod to be pure from all sin, and exempt from
all judgment. When the chair of St. Peter was disputed by Symmachus and
Laurence, they appeared at his summons before the tribunal of an Arian
monarch, and he confirmed the election of the most worthy or the most
obsequious candidate. At the end of his life, in a moment of jealousy
and resentment, he prevented the choice of the Romans, by nominating
a pope in the palace of Ravenna. The danger and furious contests of a
schism were mildly restrained, and the last decree of the senate was
enacted to extinguish, if it were possible, the scandalous venality of
the papal elections.

I have descanted with pleasure on the fortunate condition of Italy; but
our fancy must not hastily conceive that the golden age of the poets,
a race of men without vice or misery, was realized under the Gothic
conquest. The fair prospect was sometimes overcast with clouds; the
wisdom of Theodoric might be deceived, his power might be resisted and
the declining age of the monarch was sullied with popular hatred and
patrician blood. In the first insolence of victory, he had been tempted
to deprive the whole party of Odoacer of the civil and even the natural
rights of society; a tax unseasonably imposed after the calamities
of war, would have crushed the rising agriculture of Liguria; a rigid
preemption of corn, which was intended for the public relief, must
have aggravated the distress of Campania. These dangerous projects were
defeated by the virtue and eloquence of Epiphanius and Boethius, who, in
the presence of Theodoric himself, successfully pleaded the cause of the
people: but if the royal ear was open to the voice of truth, a saint
and a philosopher are not always to be found at the ear of kings. The
privileges of rank, or office, or favor, were too frequently abused by
Italian fraud and Gothic violence, and the avarice of the king's nephew
was publicly exposed, at first by the usurpation, and afterwards by
the restitution of the estates which he had unjustly extorted from his
Tuscan neighbors. Two hundred thousand Barbarians, formidable even
to their master, were seated in the heart of Italy; they indignantly
supported the restraints of peace and discipline; the disorders of
their march were always felt and sometimes compensated; and where it was
dangerous to punish, it might be prudent to dissemble, the sallies of
their native fierceness. When the indulgence of Theodoric had remitted
two thirds of the Ligurian tribute, he condescended to explain the
difficulties of his situation, and to lament the heavy though inevitable
burdens which he imposed on his subjects for their own defence. These
ungrateful subjects could never be cordially reconciled to the origin,
the religion, or even the virtues of the Gothic conqueror; past
calamities were forgotten, and the sense or suspicion of injuries was
rendered still more exquisite by the present felicity of the times.

Even the religious toleration which Theodoric had the glory of
introducing into the Christian world, was painful and offensive to the
orthodox zeal of the Italians. They respected the armed heresy of the
Goths; but their pious rage was safely pointed against the rich and
defenceless Jews, who had formed their establishments at Naples, Rome,
Ravenna, Milan, and Genoa, for the benefit of trade, and under the
sanction of the laws. Their persons were insulted, their effects were
pillaged, and their synagogues were burned by the mad populace of
Ravenna and Rome, inflamed, as it should seem, by the most frivolous or
extravagant pretences. The government which could neglect, would have
deserved such an outrage. A legal inquiry was instantly directed; and as
the authors of the tumult had escaped in the crowd, the whole community
was condemned to repair the damage; and the obstinate bigots, who
refused their contributions, were whipped through the streets by the
hand of the executioner. This simple act of justice exasperated the
discontent of the Catholics, who applauded the merit and patience of
these holy confessors. Three hundred pulpits deplored the persecution of
the church; and if the chapel of St. Stephen at Verona was demolished
by the command of Theodoric, it is probable that some miracle hostile to
his name and dignity had been performed on that sacred theatre. At
the close of a glorious life, the king of Italy discovered that he had
excited the hatred of a people whose happiness he had so assiduously
labored to promote; and his mind was soured by indignation, jealousy,
and the bitterness of unrequited love. The Gothic conqueror condescended
to disarm the unwarlike natives of Italy, interdicting all weapons
of offence, and excepting only a small knife for domestic use. The
deliverer of Rome was accused of conspiring with the vilest informers
against the lives of senators whom he suspected of a secret and
treasonable correspondence with the Byzantine court. After the death of
Anastasius, the diadem had been placed on the head of a feeble old man;
but the powers of government were assumed by his nephew Justinian, who
already meditated the extirpation of heresy, and the conquest of Italy
and Africa. A rigorous law, which was published at Constantinople, to
reduce the Arians by the dread of punishment within the pale of the
church, awakened the just resentment of Theodoric, who claimed for his
distressed brethren of the East the same indulgence which he had so long
granted to the Catholics of his dominions. At his stern command, the
Roman pontiff, with four _illustrious_ senators, embarked on an embassy,
of which he must have alike dreaded the failure or the success.
The singular veneration shown to the first pope who had visited
Constantinople was punished as a crime by his jealous monarch; the
artful or peremptory refusal of the Byzantine court might excuse an
equal, and would provoke a larger, measure of retaliation; and a mandate
was prepared in Italy, to prohibit, after a stated day, the exercise of
the Catholic worship. By the bigotry of his subjects and enemies, the
most tolerant of princes was driven to the brink of persecution; and the
life of Theodoric was too long, since he lived to condemn the virtue of
Boethius and Symmachus.

The senator Boethius is the last of the Romans whom Cato or Tully
could have acknowledged for their countryman. As a wealthy orphan,
he inherited the patrimony and honors of the Anician family, a name
ambitiously assumed by the kings and emperors of the age; and the
appellation of Manlius asserted his genuine or fabulous descent from
a race of consuls and dictators, who had repulsed the Gauls from the
Capitol, and sacrificed their sons to the discipline of the republic. In
the youth of Boethius the studies of Rome were not totally abandoned;
a Virgil is now extant, corrected by the hand of a consul; and the
professors of grammar, rhetoric, and jurisprudence, were maintained in
their privileges and pensions by the liberality of the Goths. But the
erudition of the Latin language was insufficient to satiate his ardent
curiosity: and Boethius is said to have employed eighteen laborious
years in the schools of Athens, which were supported by the zeal, the
learning, and the diligence of Proclus and his disciples. The reason and
piety of their Roman pupil were fortunately saved from the contagion
of mystery and magic, which polluted the groves of the academy; but
he imbibed the spirit, and imitated the method, of his dead and living
masters, who attempted to reconcile the strong and subtile sense of
Aristotle with the devout contemplation and sublime fancy of Plato.
After his return to Rome, and his marriage with the daughter of his
friend, the patrician Symmachus, Boethius still continued, in a palace
of ivory and marble, to prosecute the same studies. The church was
edified by his profound defence of the orthodox creed against the Arian,
the Eutychian, and the Nestorian heresies; and the Catholic unity was
explained or exposed in a formal treatise by the _indifference_ of three
distinct though consubstantial persons. For the benefit of his Latin
readers, his genius submitted to teach the first elements of the arts
and sciences of Greece. The geometry of Euclid, the music of Pythagoras,
the arithmetic of Nicomachus, the mechanics of Archimedes, the astronomy
of Ptolemy, the theology of Plato, and the logic of Aristotle, with
the commentary of Porphyry, were translated and illustrated by the
indefatigable pen of the Roman senator. And he alone was esteemed
capable of describing the wonders of art, a sun-dial, a water-clock,
or a sphere which represented the motions of the planets. From these
abstruse speculations, Boethius stooped, or, to speak more truly, he
rose to the social duties of public and private life: the indigent were
relieved by his liberality; and his eloquence, which flattery might
compare to the voice of Demosthenes or Cicero, was uniformly exerted in
the cause of innocence and humanity. Such conspicuous merit was felt
and rewarded by a discerning prince: the dignity of Boethius was adorned
with the titles of consul and patrician, and his talents were
usefully employed in the important station of master of the offices.
Notwithstanding the equal claims of the East and West, his two sons were
created, in their tender youth, the consuls of the same year. On the
memorable day of their inauguration, they proceeded in solemn pomp from
their palace to the forum amidst the applause of the senate and people;
and their joyful father, the true consul of Rome, after pronouncing an
oration in the praise of his royal benefactor, distributed a triumphal
largess in the games of the circus. Prosperous in his fame and fortunes,
in his public honors and private alliances, in the cultivation of
science and the consciousness of virtue, Boethius might have been styled
happy, if that precarious epithet could be safely applied before the
last term of the life of man.

A philosopher, liberal of his wealth and parsimonious of his time, might
be insensible to the common allurements of ambition, the thirst of
gold and employment. And some credit may be due to the asseveration of
Boethius, that he had reluctantly obeyed the divine Plato, who enjoins
every virtuous citizen to rescue the state from the usurpation of vice
and ignorance. For the integrity of his public conduct he appeals to
the memory of his country. His authority had restrained the pride
and oppression of the royal officers, and his eloquence had delivered
Paulianus from the dogs of the palace. He had always pitied, and often
relieved, the distress of the provincials, whose fortunes were exhausted
by public and private rapine; and Boethius alone had courage to oppose
the tyranny of the Barbarians, elated by conquest, excited by avarice,
and, as he complains, encouraged by impunity. In these honorable
contests his spirit soared above the consideration of danger, and
perhaps of prudence; and we may learn from the example of Cato, that a
character of pure and inflexible virtue is the most apt to be misled by
prejudice, to be heated by enthusiasm, and to confound private enmities
with public justice. The disciple of Plato might exaggerate the
infirmities of nature, and the imperfections of society; and the mildest
form of a Gothic kingdom, even the weight of allegiance and gratitude,
must be insupportable to the free spirit of a Roman patriot. But the
favor and fidelity of Boethius declined in just proportion with the
public happiness; and an unworthy colleague was imposed to divide and
control the power of the master of the offices. In the last gloomy
season of Theodoric, he indignantly felt that he was a slave; but as his
master had only power over his life, he stood without arms and without
fear against the face of an angry Barbarian, who had been provoked to
believe that the safety of the senate was incompatible with his own. The
senator Albinus was accused and already convicted on the presumption of
_hoping_, as it was said, the liberty of Rome. "If Albinus be criminal,"
exclaimed the orator, "the senate and myself are all guilty of the same
crime. If we are innocent, Albinus is equally entitled to the protection
of the laws." These laws might not have punished the simple and barren
wish of an unattainable blessing; but they would have shown less
indulgence to the rash confession of Boethius, that, had he known of a
conspiracy, the tyrant never should. The advocate of Albinus was soon
involved in the danger and perhaps the guilt of his client; their
signature (which they denied as a forgery) was affixed to the original
address, inviting the emperor to deliver Italy from the Goths; and three
witnesses of honorable rank, perhaps of infamous reputation, attested
the treasonable designs of the Roman patrician. Yet his innocence
must be presumed, since he was deprived by Theodoric of the means of
justification, and rigorously confined in the tower of Pavia, while the
senate, at the distance of five hundred miles, pronounced a sentence of
confiscation and death against the most illustrious of its members. At
the command of the Barbarians, the occult science of a philosopher was
stigmatized with the names of sacrilege and magic. A devout and dutiful
attachment to the senate was condemned as criminal by the trembling
voices of the senators themselves; and their ingratitude deserved the
wish or prediction of Boethius, that, after him, none should be found
guilty of the same offence.

While Boethius, oppressed with fetters, expected each moment the
sentence or the stroke of death, he composed, in the tower of Pavia, the
_Consolation of Philosophy_; a golden volume not unworthy of the
leisure of Plato or Tully, but which claims incomparable merit from the
barbarism of the times and the situation of the author. The celestial
guide, whom he had so long invoked at Rome and Athens, now condescended
to illumine his dungeon, to revive his courage, and to pour into his
wounds her salutary balm. She taught him to compare his long prosperity
and his recent distress, and to conceive new hopes from the inconstancy
of fortune. Reason had informed him of the precarious condition of her
gifts; experience had satisfied him of their real value; he had enjoyed
them without guilt; he might resign them without a sigh, and calmly
disdain the impotent malice of his enemies, who had left him happiness,
since they had left him virtue. From the earth, Boethius ascended
to heaven in search of the Supreme Good; explored the metaphysical
labyrinth of chance and destiny, of prescience and free will, of
time and eternity; and generously attempted to reconcile the perfect
attributes of the Deity with the apparent disorders of his moral and
physical government. Such topics of consolation so obvious, so vague, or
so abstruse, are ineffectual to subdue the feelings of human nature. Yet
the sense of misfortune may be diverted by the labor of thought; and the
sage who could artfully combine in the same work the various riches
of philosophy, poetry, and eloquence, must already have possessed the
intrepid calmness which he affected to seek. Suspense, the worst of
evils, was at length determined by the ministers of death, who executed,
and perhaps exceeded, the inhuman mandate of Theodoric. A strong cord
was fastened round the head of Boethius, and forcibly tightened, till
his eyes almost started from their sockets; and some mercy may be
discovered in the milder torture of beating him with clubs till he
expired. But his genius survived to diffuse a ray of knowledge over the
darkest ages of the Latin world; the writings of the philosopher were
translated by the most glorious of the English kings, and the third
emperor of the name of Otho removed to a more honorable tomb the bones
of a Catholic saint, who, from his Arian persecutors, had acquired the
honors of martyrdom, and the fame of miracles. In the last hours of
Boethius, he derived some comfort from the safety of his two sons, of
his wife, and of his father-in-law, the venerable Symmachus. But the
grief of Symmachus was indiscreet, and perhaps disrespectful: he had
presumed to lament, he might dare to revenge, the death of an injured
friend. He was dragged in chains from Rome to the palace of Ravenna; and
the suspicions of Theodoric could only be appeased by the blood of an
innocent and aged senator.

Humanity will be disposed to encourage any report which testifies the
jurisdiction of conscience and the remorse of kings; and philosophy is
not ignorant that the most horrid spectres are sometimes created by the
powers of a disordered fancy, and the weakness of a distempered body.
After a life of virtue and glory, Theodoric was now descending with
shame and guilt into the grave; his mind was humbled by the contrast of
the past, and justly alarmed by the invisible terrors of futurity. One
evening, as it is related, when the head of a large fish was served
on the royal table, he suddenly exclaimed, that he beheld the angry
countenance of Symmachus, his eyes glaring fury and revenge, and his
mouth armed with long sharp teeth, which threatened to devour him. The
monarch instantly retired to his chamber, and, as he lay, trembling
with aguish cold, under a weight of bed-clothes, he expressed, in broken
murmurs to his physician Elpidius, his deep repentance for the murders
of Boethius and Symmachus. His malady increased, and after a dysentery
which continued three days, he expired in the palace of Ravenna, in
the thirty-third, or, if we compute from the invasion of Italy, in the
thirty-seventh year of his reign. Conscious of his approaching end, he
divided his treasures and provinces between his two grandsons, and fixed
the Rhone as their common boundary. Amalaric was restored to the
throne of Spain. Italy, with all the conquests of the Ostrogoths, was
bequeathed to Athalaric; whose age did not exceed ten years, but who
was cherished as the last male offspring of the line of Amali, by the
short-lived marriage of his mother Amalasuntha with a royal fugitive of
the same blood. In the presence of the dying monarch, the Gothic chiefs
and Italian magistrates mutually engaged their faith and loyalty to
the young prince, and to his guardian mother; and received, in the same
awful moment, his last salutary advice, to maintain the laws, to love
the senate and people of Rome, and to cultivate with decent reverence
the friendship of the emperor. The monument of Theodoric was erected by
his daughter Amalasuntha, in a conspicuous situation, which commanded
the city of Ravenna, the harbor, and the adjacent coast. A chapel of
a circular form, thirty feet in diameter, is crowned by a dome of one
entire piece of granite: from the centre of the dome four columns arose,
which supported, in a vase of porphyry, the remains of the Gothic king,
surrounded by the brazen statues of the twelve apostles. His spirit,
after some previous expiation, might have been permitted to mingle with
the benefactors of mankind, if an Italian hermit had not been witness,
in a vision, to the damnation of Theodoric, whose soul was plunged, by
the ministers of divine vengeance, into the volcano of Lipari, one of
the flaming mouths of the infernal world.



Chapter XL: Reign Of Justinian.--Part I.

     Elevation Of Justin The Elder.--Reign Of Justinian.--I. The
     Empress Theodora.--II. Factions Of The Circus, And Sedition
     Of Constantinople.--III. Trade And Manufacture Of Silk.--IV.
     Finances And Taxes.--V. Edifices Of Justinian.--Church Of
     St. Sophia.--Fortifications And Frontiers Of The Eastern
     Empire.--Abolition Of The Schools Of Athens, And The
     Consulship Of Rome.

The emperor Justinian was born near the ruins of Sardica, (the modern
Sophia,) of an obscure race of Barbarians, the inhabitants of a wild
and desolate country, to which the names of Dardania, of Dacia, and of
Bulgaria, have been successively applied. His elevation was prepared by
the adventurous spirit of his uncle Justin, who, with two other peasants
of the same village, deserted, for the profession of arms, the more
useful employment of husbandmen or shepherds. On foot, with a scanty
provision of biscuit in their knapsacks, the three youths followed the
high road of Constantinople, and were soon enrolled, for their strength
and stature, among the guards of the emperor Leo. Under the two
succeeding reigns, the fortunate peasant emerged to wealth and
honors; and his escape from some dangers which threatened his life was
afterwards ascribed to the guardian angel who watches over the fate of
kings. His long and laudable service in the Isaurian and Persian wars
would not have preserved from oblivion the name of Justin; yet they
might warrant the military promotion, which in the course of fifty years
he gradually obtained; the rank of tribune, of count, and of general;
the dignity of senator, and the command of the guards, who obeyed him
as their chief, at the important crisis when the emperor Anastasius
was removed from the world. The powerful kinsmen whom he had raised and
enriched were excluded from the throne; and the eunuch Amantius, who
reigned in the palace, had secretly resolved to fix the diadem on the
head of the most obsequious of his creatures. A liberal donative, to
conciliate the suffrage of the guards, was intrusted for that purpose
in the hands of their commander. But these weighty arguments were
treacherously employed by Justin in his own favor; and as no competitor
presumed to appear, the Dacian peasant was invested with the purple
by the unanimous consent of the soldiers, who knew him to be brave and
gentle, of the clergy and people, who believed him to be orthodox, and
of the provincials, who yielded a blind and implicit submission to
the will of the capital. The elder Justin, as he is distinguished from
another emperor of the same family and name, ascended the Byzantine
throne at the age of sixty-eight years; and, had he been left to his own
guidance, every moment of a nine years' reign must have exposed to his
subjects the impropriety of their choice. His ignorance was similar to
that of Theodoric; and it is remarkable that in an age not destitute
of learning, two contemporary monarchs had never been instructed in the
knowledge of the alphabet. But the genius of Justin was far inferior
to that of the Gothic king: the experience of a soldier had not
qualified him for the government of an empire; and though personally
brave, the consciousness of his own weakness was naturally attended with
doubt, distrust, and political apprehension. But the official business
of the state was diligently and faithfully transacted by the quæstor
Proclus; and the aged emperor adopted the talents and ambition of his
nephew Justinian, an aspiring youth, whom his uncle had drawn from the
rustic solitude of Dacia, and educated at Constantinople, as the heir of
his private fortune, and at length of the Eastern empire.

Since the eunuch Amantius had been defrauded of his money, it became
necessary to deprive him of his life. The task was easily accomplished
by the charge of a real or fictitious conspiracy; and the judges were
informed, as an accumulation of guilt, that he was secretly addicted to
the Manichæan heresy. Amantius lost his head; three of his companions,
the first domestics of the palace, were punished either with death or
exile; and their unfortunate candidate for the purple was cast into a
deep dungeon, overwhelmed with stones, and ignominiously thrown, without
burial, into the sea. The ruin of Vitalian was a work of more difficulty
and danger. That Gothic chief had rendered himself popular by the civil
war which he boldly waged against Anastasius for the defence of the
orthodox faith, and after the conclusion of an advantageous treaty, he
still remained in the neighborhood of Constantinople at the head of a
formidable and victorious army of Barbarians. By the frail security of
oaths, he was tempted to relinquish this advantageous situation, and
to trust his person within the walls of a city, whose inhabitants,
particularly the _blue_ faction, were artfully incensed against him
by the remembrance even of his pious hostilities. The emperor and his
nephew embraced him as the faithful and worthy champion of the church
and state; and gratefully adorned their favorite with the titles of
consul and general; but in the seventh month of his consulship, Vitalian
was stabbed with seventeen wounds at the royal banquet; and Justinian,
who inherited the spoil, was accused as the assassin of a spiritual
brother, to whom he had recently pledged his faith in the participation
of the Christian mysteries. After the fall of his rival, he was
promoted, without any claim of military service, to the office of
master-general of the Eastern armies, whom it was his duty to lead
into the field against the public enemy. But, in the pursuit of fame,
Justinian might have lost his present dominion over the age and weakness
of his uncle; and instead of acquiring by Scythian or Persian trophies
the applause of his countrymen, the prudent warrior solicited their
favor in the churches, the circus, and the senate, of Constantinople.
The Catholics were attached to the nephew of Justin, who, between the
Nestorian and Eutychian heresies, trod the narrow path of inflexible and
intolerant orthodoxy. In the first days of the new reign, he prompted
and gratified the popular enthusiasm against the memory of the deceased
emperor. After a schism of thirty-four years, he reconciled the proud
and angry spirit of the Roman pontiff, and spread among the Latins a
favorable report of his pious respect for the apostolic see. The thrones
of the East were filled with Catholic bishops, devoted to his interest,
the clergy and the monks were gained by his liberality, and the people
were taught to pray for their future sovereign, the hope and pillar of
the true religion. The magnificence of Justinian was displayed in the
superior pomp of his public spectacles, an object not less sacred
and important in the eyes of the multitude than the creed of Nice or
Chalcedon: the expense of his consulship was esteemed at two hundred and
twenty-eight thousand pieces of gold; twenty lions, and thirty leopards,
were produced at the same time in the amphitheatre, and a numerous train
of horses, with their rich trappings, was bestowed as an extraordinary
gift on the victorious charioteers of the circus. While he indulged the
people of Constantinople, and received the addresses of foreign kings,
the nephew of Justin assiduously cultivated the friendship of the
senate. That venerable name seemed to qualify its members to declare
the sense of the nation, and to regulate the succession of the Imperial
throne: the feeble Anastasius had permitted the vigor of government
to degenerate into the form or substance of an aristocracy; and the
military officers who had obtained the senatorial rank were followed by
their domestic guards, a band of veterans, whose arms or acclamations
might fix in a tumultuous moment the diadem of the East. The treasures
of the state were lavished to procure the voices of the senators, and
their unanimous wish, that he would be pleased to adopt Justinian for
his colleague, was communicated to the emperor. But this request, which
too clearly admonished him of his approaching end, was unwelcome to the
jealous temper of an aged monarch, desirous to retain the power which
he was incapable of exercising; and Justin, holding his purple with both
his hands, advised them to prefer, since an election was so profitable,
some older candidate. Not withstanding this reproach, the
senate proceeded to decorate Justinian with the royal epithet of
_nobilissimus_; and their decree was ratified by the affection or the
fears of his uncle. After some time the languor of mind and body, to
which he was reduced by an incurable wound in his thigh, indispensably
required the aid of a guardian. He summoned the patriarch and senators;
and in their presence solemnly placed the diadem on the head of his
nephew, who was conducted from the palace to the circus, and saluted
by the loud and joyful applause of the people. The life of Justin was
prolonged about four months; but from the instant of this ceremony, he
was considered as dead to the empire, which acknowledged Justinian, in
the forty-fifth year of his age, for the lawful sovereign of the East.

From his elevation to his death, Justinian governed the Roman empire
thirty-eight years, seven months, and thirteen days. The events of his
reign, which excite our curious attention by their number, variety, and
importance, are diligently related by the secretary of Belisarius, a
rhetorician, whom eloquence had promoted to the rank of senator and
præfect of Constantinople. According to the vicissitudes of courage or
servitude, of favor or disgrace, Procopius successively composed the
_history_, the _panegyric_, and the _satire_ of his own times. The eight
books of the Persian, Vandalic, and Gothic wars, which are continued
in the five books of Agathias, deserve our esteem as a laborious and
successful imitation of the Attic, or at least of the Asiatic, writers
of ancient Greece. His facts are collected from the personal experience
and free conversation of a soldier, a statesman, and a traveller; his
style continually aspires, and often attains, to the merit of strength
and elegance; his reflections, more especially in the speeches, which he
too frequently inserts, contain a rich fund of political knowledge;
and the historian, excited by the generous ambition of pleasing and
instructing posterity, appears to disdain the prejudices of the people,
and the flattery of courts. The writings of Procopius were read and
applauded by his contemporaries: but, although he respectfully laid them
at the foot of the throne, the pride of Justinian must have been wounded
by the praise of a hero, who perpetually eclipses the glory of his
inactive sovereign. The conscious dignity of independence was subdued by
the hopes and fears of a slave; and the secretary of Belisarius labored
for pardon and reward in the six books of the Imperial _edifices_. He
had dexterously chosen a subject of apparent splendor, in which he
could loudly celebrate the genius, the magnificence, and the piety of
a prince, who, both as a conqueror and legislator, had surpassed the
puerile virtues of Themistocles and Cyrus. Disappointment might urge the
flatterer to secret revenge; and the first glance of favor might again
tempt him to suspend and suppress a libel, in which the Roman Cyrus
is degraded into an odious and contemptible tyrant, in which both
the emperor and his consort Theodora are seriously represented as two
dæmons, who had assumed a human form for the destruction of mankind.
Such base inconsistency must doubtless sully the reputation, and detract
from the credit, of Procopius: yet, after the venom of his malignity has
been suffered to exhale, the residue of the _anecdotes_, even the most
disgraceful facts, some of which had been tenderly hinted in his public
history, are established by their internal evidence, or the authentic
monuments of the times. From these various materials, I shall now
proceed to describe the reign of Justinian, which will deserve and
occupy an ample space. The present chapter will explain the elevation
and character of Theodora, the factions of the circus, and the peaceful
administration of the sovereign of the East. In the three succeeding
chapters, I shall relate the wars of Justinian, which achieved the
conquest of Africa and Italy; and I shall follow the victories of
Belisarius and Narses, without disguising the vanity of their triumphs,
or the hostile virtue of the Persian and Gothic heroes. The series
of this and the following volume will embrace the jurisprudence and
theology of the emperor; the controversies and sects which still divide
the Oriental church; the reformation of the Roman law which is obeyed or
respected by the nations of modern Europe.

I. In the exercise of supreme power, the first act of Justinian was
to divide it with the woman whom he loved, the famous Theodora, whose
strange elevation cannot be applauded as the triumph of female virtue.
Under the reign of Anastasius, the care of the wild beasts maintained by
the green faction at Constantinople was intrusted to Acacius, a native
of the Isle of Cyprus, who, from his employment, was surnamed the master
of the bears. This honorable office was given after his death to another
candidate, notwithstanding the diligence of his widow, who had already
provided a husband and a successor. Acacius had left three daughters,
Comito, Theodora, and Anastasia, the eldest of whom did not then exceed
the age of seven years. On a solemn festival, these helpless orphans
were sent by their distressed and indignant mother, in the garb of
suppliants, into the midst of the theatre: the green faction received
them with contempt, the blues with compassion; and this difference,
which sunk deep into the mind of Theodora, was felt long afterwards in
the administration of the empire. As they improved in age and beauty,
the three sisters were successively devoted to the public and private
pleasures of the Byzantine people: and Theodora, after following Comito
on the stage, in the dress of a slave, with a stool on her head, was
at length permitted to exercise her independent talents. She neither
danced, nor sung, nor played on the flute; her skill was confined to the
pantomime arts; she excelled in buffoon characters, and as often as the
comedian swelled her cheeks, and complained with a ridiculous tone
and gesture of the blows that were inflicted, the whole theatre of
Constantinople resounded with laughter and applause. The beauty of
Theodora was the subject of more flattering praise, and the source of
more exquisite delight. Her features were delicate and regular; her
complexion, though somewhat pale, was tinged with a natural color; every
sensation was instantly expressed by the vivacity of her eyes; her easy
motions displayed the graces of a small but elegant figure; and
either love or adulation might proclaim, that painting and poetry were
incapable of delineating the matchless excellence of her form. But
this form was degraded by the facility with which it was exposed to the
public eye, and prostituted to licentious desire. Her venal charms were
abandoned to a promiscuous crowd of citizens and strangers of every
rank, and of every profession: the fortunate lover who had been promised
a night of enjoyment, was often driven from her bed by a stronger or
more wealthy favorite; and when she passed through the streets, her
presence was avoided by all who wished to escape either the scandal or
the temptation. The satirical historian has not blushed to describe the
naked scenes which Theodora was not ashamed to exhibit in the theatre.
After exhausting the arts of sensual pleasure, she most ungratefully
murmured against the parsimony of Nature; but her murmurs, her
pleasures, and her arts, must be veiled in the obscurity of a learned
language. After reigning for some time, the delight and contempt of the
capital, she condescended to accompany Ecebolus, a native of Tyre, who
had obtained the government of the African Pentapolis. But this
union was frail and transient; Ecebolus soon rejected an expensive or
faithless concubine; she was reduced at Alexandria to extreme distress;
and in her laborious return to Constantinople, every city of the East
admired and enjoyed the fair Cyprian, whose merit appeared to justify
her descent from the peculiar island of Venus. The vague commerce of
Theodora, and the most detestable precautions, preserved her from the
danger which she feared; yet once, and once only, she became a mother.
The infant was saved and educated in Arabia, by his father, who imparted
to him on his death-bed, that he was the son of an empress. Filled with
ambitious hopes, the unsuspecting youth immediately hastened to the
palace of Constantinople, and was admitted to the presence of his
mother. As he was never more seen, even after the decease of Theodora,
she deserves the foul imputation of extinguishing with his life a secret
so offensive to her Imperial virtue.

In the most abject state of her fortune, and reputation, some vision,
either of sleep or of fancy, had whispered to Theodora the pleasing
assurance that she was destined to become the spouse of a potent
monarch. Conscious of her approaching greatness, she returned from
Paphlagonia to Constantinople; assumed, like a skilful actress, a more
decent character; relieved her poverty by the laudable industry of
spinning wool; and affected a life of chastity and solitude in a small
house, which she afterwards changed into a magnificent temple. Her
beauty, assisted by art or accident, soon attracted, captivated, and
fixed, the patrician Justinian, who already reigned with absolute sway
under the name of his uncle. Perhaps she contrived to enhance the value
of a gift which she had so often lavished on the meanest of mankind;
perhaps she inflamed, at first by modest delays, and at last by sensual
allurements, the desires of a lover, who, from nature or devotion, was
addicted to long vigils and abstemious diet. When his first transports
had subsided, she still maintained the same ascendant over his mind, by
the more solid merit of temper and understanding. Justinian delighted
to ennoble and enrich the object of his affection; the treasures of the
East were poured at her feet, and the nephew of Justin was determined,
perhaps by religious scruples, to bestow on his concubine the sacred and
legal character of a wife. But the laws of Rome expressly prohibited
the marriage of a senator with any female who had been dishonored by
a servile origin or theatrical profession: the empress Lupicina, or
Euphemia, a Barbarian of rustic manners, but of irreproachable virtue,
refused to accept a prostitute for her niece; and even Vigilantia, the
superstitious mother of Justinian, though she acknowledged the wit and
beauty of Theodora, was seriously apprehensive, lest the levity and
arrogance of that artful paramour might corrupt the piety and happiness
of her son. These obstacles were removed by the inflexible constancy of
Justinian. He patiently expected the death of the empress; he despised
the tears of his mother, who soon sunk under the weight of her
affliction; and a law was promulgated in the name of the emperor
Justin, which abolished the rigid jurisprudence of antiquity. A glorious
repentance (the words of the edict) was left open for the unhappy
females who had prostituted their persons on the theatre, and they were
permitted to contract a legal union with the most illustrious of the
Romans. This indulgence was speedily followed by the solemn nuptials of
Justinian and Theodora; her dignity was gradually exalted with that
of her lover, and, as soon as Justin had invested his nephew with the
purple, the patriarch of Constantinople placed the diadem on the heads
of the emperor and empress of the East. But the usual honors which the
severity of Roman manners had allowed to the wives of princes, could not
satisfy either the ambition of Theodora or the fondness of Justinian.
He seated her on the throne as an equal and independent colleague in the
sovereignty of the empire, and an oath of allegiance was imposed on the
governors of the provinces in the joint names of Justinian and Theodora.
The Eastern world fell prostrate before the genius and fortune of the
daughter of Acacius. The prostitute who, in the presence of innumerable
spectators, had polluted the theatre of Constantinople, was adored as
a queen in the same city, by grave magistrates, orthodox bishops,
victorious generals, and captive monarchs.



Chapter XL: Reign Of Justinian.--Part II.

Those who believe that the female mind is totally depraved by the loss
of chastity, will eagerly listen to all the invectives of private envy,
or popular resentment which have dissembled the virtues of Theodora,
exaggerated her vices, and condemned with rigor the venal or voluntary
sins of the youthful harlot. From a motive of shame, or contempt, she
often declined the servile homage of the multitude, escaped from the
odious light of the capital, and passed the greatest part of the year in
the palaces and gardens which were pleasantly seated on the sea-coast of
the Propontis and the Bosphorus. Her private hours were devoted to the
prudent as well as grateful care of her beauty, the luxury of the bath
and table, and the long slumber of the evening and the morning. Her
secret apartments were occupied by the favorite women and eunuchs, whose
interests and passions she indulged at the expense of justice; the most
illustrious person ages of the state were crowded into a dark and sultry
antechamber, and when at last, after tedious attendance, they were
admitted to kiss the feet of Theodora, they experienced, as her humor
might suggest, the silent arrogance of an empress, or the capricious
levity of a comedian. Her rapacious avarice to accumulate an immense
treasure, may be excused by the apprehension of her husband's death,
which could leave no alternative between ruin and the throne; and fear
as well as ambition might exasperate Theodora against two generals, who,
during the malady of the emperor, had rashly declared that they were not
disposed to acquiesce in the choice of the capital. But the reproach of
cruelty, so repugnant even to her softer vices, has left an indelible
stain on the memory of Theodora. Her numerous spies observed, and
zealously reported, every action, or word, or look, injurious to their
royal mistress. Whomsoever they accused were cast into her peculiar
prisons, inaccessible to the inquiries of justice; and it was rumored,
that the torture of the rack, or scourge, had been inflicted in the
presence of the female tyrant, insensible to the voice of prayer or
of pity. Some of these unhappy victims perished in deep, unwholesome
dungeons, while others were permitted, after the loss of their limbs,
their reason, or their fortunes, to appear in the world, the living
monuments of her vengeance, which was commonly extended to the children
of those whom she had suspected or injured. The senator or bishop,
whose death or exile Theodora had pronounced, was delivered to a trusty
messenger, and his diligence was quickened by a menace from her own
mouth. "If you fail in the execution of my commands, I swear by Him who
liveth forever, that your skin shall be flayed from your body."

If the creed of Theodora had not been tainted with heresy, her exemplary
devotion might have atoned, in the opinion of her contemporaries, for
pride, avarice, and cruelty. But, if she employed her influence to
assuage the intolerant fury of the emperor, the present age will allow
some merit to her religion, and much indulgence to her speculative
errors. The name of Theodora was introduced, with equal honor, in
all the pious and charitable foundations of Justinian; and the most
benevolent institution of his reign may be ascribed to the sympathy
of the empress for her less fortunate sisters, who had been seduced or
compelled to embrace the trade of prostitution. A palace, on the
Asiatic side of the Bosphorus, was converted into a stately and spacious
monastery, and a liberal maintenance was assigned to five hundred women,
who had been collected from the streets and brothels of Constantinople.
In this safe and holy retreat, they were devoted to perpetual
confinement; and the despair of some, who threw themselves headlong
into the sea, was lost in the gratitude of the penitents, who had
been delivered from sin and misery by their generous benefactress. The
prudence of Theodora is celebrated by Justinian himself; and his laws
are attributed to the sage counsels of his most reverend wife whom he
had received as the gift of the Deity. Her courage was displayed amidst
the tumult of the people and the terrors of the court. Her chastity,
from the moment of her union with Justinian, is founded on the silence
of her implacable enemies; and although the daughter of Acacius might be
satiated with love, yet some applause is due to the firmness of a mind
which could sacrifice pleasure and habit to the stronger sense either of
duty or interest. The wishes and prayers of Theodora could never obtain
the blessing of a lawful son, and she buried an infant daughter, the
sole offspring of her marriage. Notwithstanding this disappointment, her
dominion was permanent and absolute; she preserved, by art or merit, the
affections of Justinian; and their seeming dissensions were always fatal
to the courtiers who believed them to be sincere. Perhaps her health
had been impaired by the licentiousness of her youth; but it was always
delicate, and she was directed by her physicians to use the Pythian
warm baths. In this journey, the empress was followed by the Prætorian
præfect, the great treasurer, several counts and patricians, and a
splendid train of four thousand attendants: the highways were repaired
at her approach; a palace was erected for her reception; and as she
passed through Bithynia, she distributed liberal alms to the churches,
the monasteries, and the hospitals, that they might implore Heaven for
the restoration of her health. At length, in the twenty-fourth year of
her marriage, and the twenty-second of her reign, she was consumed by
a cancer; and the irreparable loss was deplored by her husband, who, in
the room of a theatrical prostitute, might have selected the purest and
most noble virgin of the East.

II. A material difference may be observed in the games of antiquity:
the most eminent of the Greeks were actors, the Romans were merely
spectators. The Olympic stadium was open to wealth, merit, and ambition;
and if the candidates could depend on their personal skill and activity,
they might pursue the footsteps of Diomede and Menelaus, and conduct
their own horses in the rapid career. Ten, twenty, forty chariots were
allowed to start at the same instant; a crown of leaves was the reward
of the victor; and his fame, with that of his family and country,
was chanted in lyric strains more durable than monuments of brass and
marble. But a senator, or even a citizen, conscious of his dignity,
would have blushed to expose his person, or his horses, in the circus
of Rome. The games were exhibited at the expense of the republic, the
magistrates, or the emperors: but the reins were abandoned to servile
hands; and if the profits of a favorite charioteer sometimes exceeded
those of an advocate, they must be considered as the effects of popular
extravagance, and the high wages of a disgraceful profession. The race,
in its first institution, was a simple contest of two chariots, whose
drivers were distinguished by _white_ and _red_ liveries: two additional
colors, a light _green_, and a cærulean _blue_, were afterwards
introduced; and as the races were repeated twenty-five times, one
hundred chariots contributed in the same day to the pomp of the
circus. The four _factions_ soon acquired a legal establishment, and
a mysterious origin, and their fanciful colors were derived from the
various appearances of nature in the four seasons of the year; the red
dogstar of summer, the snows of winter, the deep shades of autumn, and
the cheerful verdure of the spring. Another interpretation preferred
the elements to the seasons, and the struggle of the green and blue
was supposed to represent the conflict of the earth and sea. Their
respective victories announced either a plentiful harvest or a
prosperous navigation, and the hostility of the husbandmen and mariners
was somewhat less absurd than the blind ardor of the Roman people, who
devoted their lives and fortunes to the color which they had espoused.
Such folly was disdained and indulged by the wisest princes; but the
names of Caligula, Nero, Vitellius, Verus, Commodus, Caracalla, and
Elagabalus, were enrolled in the blue or green factions of the circus;
they frequented their stables, applauded their favorites, chastised
their antagonists, and deserved the esteem of the populace, by
the natural or affected imitation of their manners. The bloody and
tumultuous contest continued to disturb the public festivity, till the
last age of the spectacles of Rome; and Theodoric, from a motive of
justice or affection, interposed his authority to protect the greens
against the violence of a consul and a patrician, who were passionately
addicted to the blue faction of the circus.

Constantinople adopted the follies, though not the virtues, of ancient
Rome; and the same factions which had agitated the circus, raged with
redoubled fury in the hippodrome. Under the reign of Anastasius, this
popular frenzy was inflamed by religious zeal; and the greens, who
had treacherously concealed stones and daggers under baskets of
fruit, massacred, at a solemn festival, three thousand of their blue
adversaries. From this capital, the pestilence was diffused into the
provinces and cities of the East, and the sportive distinction of two
colors produced two strong and irreconcilable factions, which shook the
foundations of a feeble government. The popular dissensions, founded on
the most serious interest, or holy pretence, have scarcely equalled the
obstinacy of this wanton discord, which invaded the peace of families,
divided friends and brothers, and tempted the female sex, though seldom
seen in the circus, to espouse the inclinations of their lovers, or
to contradict the wishes of their husbands. Every law, either human
or divine, was trampled under foot, and as long as the party was
successful, its deluded followers appeared careless of private distress
or public calamity. The license, without the freedom, of democracy,
was revived at Antioch and Constantinople, and the support of a faction
became necessary to every candidate for civil or ecclesiastical honors.
A secret attachment to the family or sect of Anastasius was imputed to
the greens; the blues were zealously devoted to the cause of orthodoxy
and Justinian, and their grateful patron protected, above five years,
the disorders of a faction, whose seasonable tumults overawed the
palace, the senate, and the capitals of the East. Insolent with royal
favor, the blues affected to strike terror by a peculiar and Barbaric
dress, the long hair of the Huns, their close sleeves and ample
garments, a lofty step, and a sonorous voice. In the day they concealed
their two-edged poniards, but in the night they boldly assembled in
arms, and in numerous bands, prepared for every act of violence and
rapine. Their adversaries of the green faction, or even inoffensive
citizens, were stripped and often murdered by these nocturnal robbers,
and it became dangerous to wear any gold buttons or girdles, or to
appear at a late hour in the streets of a peaceful capital. A daring
spirit, rising with impunity, proceeded to violate the safeguard of
private houses; and fire was employed to facilitate the attack, or
to conceal the crimes of these factious rioters. No place was safe or
sacred from their depredations; to gratify either avarice or revenge,
they profusely spilt the blood of the innocent; churches and altars were
polluted by atrocious murders; and it was the boast of the assassins,
that their dexterity could always inflict a mortal wound with a single
stroke of their dagger. The dissolute youth of Constantinople adopted
the blue livery of disorder; the laws were silent, and the bonds
of society were relaxed: creditors were compelled to resign their
obligations; judges to reverse their sentence; masters to enfranchise
their slaves; fathers to supply the extravagance of their children;
noble matrons were prostituted to the lust of their servants; beautiful
boys were torn from the arms of their parents; and wives, unless they
preferred a voluntary death, were ravished in the presence of their
husbands. The despair of the greens, who were persecuted by their
enemies, and deserted by the magistrates, assumed the privilege of
defence, perhaps of retaliation; but those who survived the combat were
dragged to execution, and the unhappy fugitives, escaping to woods
and caverns, preyed without mercy on the society from whence they were
expelled. Those ministers of justice who had courage to punish the
crimes, and to brave the resentment, of the blues, became the victims
of their indiscreet zeal; a præfect of Constantinople fled for refuge to
the holy sepulchre, a count of the East was ignominiously whipped, and a
governor of Cilicia was hanged, by the order of Theodora, on the tomb of
two assassins whom he had condemned for the murder of his groom, and a
daring attack upon his own life. An aspiring candidate may be tempted to
build his greatness on the public confusion, but it is the interest as
well as duty of a sovereign to maintain the authority of the laws.
The first edict of Justinian, which was often repeated, and sometimes
executed, announced his firm resolution to support the innocent, and to
chastise the guilty, of every denomination and _color_. Yet the balance
of justice was still inclined in favor of the blue faction, by the
secret affection, the habits, and the fears of the emperor; his equity,
after an apparent struggle, submitted, without reluctance, to the
implacable passions of Theodora, and the empress never forgot, or
forgave, the injuries of the comedian. At the accession of the younger
Justin, the proclamation of equal and rigorous justice indirectly
condemned the partiality of the former reign. "Ye blues, Justinian is no
more! ye greens, he is still alive!"

A sedition, which almost laid Constantinople in ashes, was excited by
the mutual hatred and momentary reconciliation of the two factions. In
the fifth year of his reign, Justinian celebrated the festival of the
ides of January; the games were incessantly disturbed by the clamorous
discontent of the greens: till the twenty-second race, the emperor
maintained his silent gravity; at length, yielding to his impatience, he
condescended to hold, in abrupt sentences, and by the voice of a crier,
the most singular dialogue that ever passed between a prince and his
subjects. Their first complaints were respectful and modest; they
accused the subordinate ministers of oppression, and proclaimed their
wishes for the long life and victory of the emperor. "Be patient and
attentive, ye insolent railers!" exclaimed Justinian; "be mute, ye Jews,
Samaritans, and Manichæans!" The greens still attempted to awaken his
compassion. "We are poor, we are innocent, we are injured, we dare not
pass through the streets: a general persecution is exercised against our
name and color. Let us die, O emperor! but let us die by your command,
and for your service!" But the repetition of partial and passionate
invectives degraded, in their eyes, the majesty of the purple; they
renounced allegiance to the prince who refused justice to his people;
lamented that the father of Justinian had been born; and branded his son
with the opprobrious names of a homicide, an ass, and a perjured tyrant.
"Do you despise your lives?" cried the indignant monarch: the blues
rose with fury from their seats; their hostile clamors thundered in the
hippodrome; and their adversaries, deserting the unequal contest spread
terror and despair through the streets of Constantinople. At this
dangerous moment, seven notorious assassins of both factions, who
had been condemned by the præfect, were carried round the city, and
afterwards transported to the place of execution in the suburb of Pera.
Four were immediately beheaded; a fifth was hanged: but when the same
punishment was inflicted on the remaining two, the rope broke, they fell
alive to the ground, the populace applauded their escape, and the monks
of St. Conon, issuing from the neighboring convent, conveyed them in a
boat to the sanctuary of the church. As one of these criminals was
of the blue, and the other of the green livery, the two factions were
equally provoked by the cruelty of their oppressor, or the ingratitude
of their patron; and a short truce was concluded till they had delivered
their prisoners and satisfied their revenge. The palace of the præfect,
who withstood the seditious torrent, was instantly burnt, his officers
and guards were massacred, the prisons were forced open, and freedom was
restored to those who could only use it for the public destruction.
A military force, which had been despatched to the aid of the civil
magistrate, was fiercely encountered by an armed multitude, whose
numbers and boldness continually increased; and the Heruli, the wildest
Barbarians in the service of the empire, overturned the priests and
their relics, which, from a pious motive, had been rashly interposed
to separate the bloody conflict. The tumult was exasperated by this
sacrilege, the people fought with enthusiasm in the cause of God; the
women, from the roofs and windows, showered stones on the heads of the
soldiers, who darted fire brands against the houses; and the various
flames, which had been kindled by the hands of citizens and strangers,
spread without control over the face of the city. The conflagration
involved the cathedral of St. Sophia, the baths of Zeuxippus, a part of
the palace, from the first entrance to the altar of Mars, and the long
portico from the palace to the forum of Constantine: a large hospital,
with the sick patients, was consumed; many churches and stately edifices
were destroyed and an immense treasure of gold and silver was either
melted or lost. From such scenes of horror and distress, the wise and
wealthy citizens escaped over the Bosphorus to the Asiatic side; and
during five days Constantinople was abandoned to the factions, whose
watchword, _Nika_, _vanquish!_ has given a name to this memorable
sedition.

As long as the factions were divided, the triumphant blues, and
desponding greens, appeared to behold with the same indifference the
disorders of the state. They agreed to censure the corrupt management of
justice and the finance; and the two responsible ministers, the artful
Tribonian, and the rapacious John of Cappadocia, were loudly arraigned
as the authors of the public misery. The peaceful murmurs of the people
would have been disregarded: they were heard with respect when the city
was in flames; the quæstor, and the præfect, were instantly removed, and
their offices were filled by two senators of blameless integrity.
After this popular concession, Justinian proceeded to the hippodrome
to confess his own errors, and to accept the repentance of his grateful
subjects; but they distrusted his assurances, though solemnly pronounced
in the presence of the holy Gospels; and the emperor, alarmed by their
distrust, retreated with precipitation to the strong fortress of the
palace. The obstinacy of the tumult was now imputed to a secret
and ambitious conspiracy, and a suspicion was entertained, that the
insurgents, more especially the green faction, had been supplied with
arms and money by Hypatius and Pompey, two patricians, who could neither
forget with honor, nor remember with safety, that they were the
nephews of the emperor Anastasius. Capriciously trusted, disgraced, and
pardoned, by the jealous levity of the monarch, they had appeared as
loyal servants before the throne; and, during five days of the tumult,
they were detained as important hostages; till at length, the fears of
Justinian prevailing over his prudence, he viewed the two brothers in
the light of spies, perhaps of assassins, and sternly commanded them to
depart from the palace. After a fruitless representation, that obedience
might lead to involuntary treason, they retired to their houses, and in
the morning of the sixth day, Hypatius was surrounded and seized by the
people, who, regardless of his virtuous resistance, and the tears of
his wife, transported their favorite to the forum of Constantine, and
instead of a diadem, placed a rich collar on his head. If the usurper,
who afterwards pleaded the merit of his delay, had complied with the
advice of his senate, and urged the fury of the multitude, their first
irresistible effort might have oppressed or expelled his trembling
competitor. The Byzantine palace enjoyed a free communication with the
sea; vessels lay ready at the garden stairs; and a secret resolution was
already formed, to convey the emperor with his family and treasures to a
safe retreat, at some distance from the capital.

Justinian was lost, if the prostitute whom he raised from the theatre
had not renounced the timidity, as well as the virtues, of her sex. In
the midst of a council, where Belisarius was present, Theodora alone
displayed the spirit of a hero; and she alone, without apprehending his
future hatred, could save the emperor from the imminent danger, and his
unworthy fears. "If flight," said the consort of Justinian, "were
the only means of safety, yet I should disdain to fly. Death is the
condition of our birth; but they who have reigned should never survive
the loss of dignity and dominion. I implore Heaven, that I may never
be seen, not a day, without my diadem and purple; that I may no longer
behold the light, when I cease to be saluted with the name of queen. If
you resolve, O Cæsar! to fly, you have treasures; behold the sea, you
have ships; but tremble lest the desire of life should expose you to
wretched exile and ignominious death. For my own part, I adhere to
the maxim of antiquity, that the throne is a glorious sepulchre." The
firmness of a woman restored the courage to deliberate and act, and
courage soon discovers the resources of the most desperate situation.
It was an easy and a decisive measure to revive the animosity of the
factions; the blues were astonished at their own guilt and folly, that
a trifling injury should provoke them to conspire with their implacable
enemies against a gracious and liberal benefactor; they again proclaimed
the majesty of Justinian; and the greens, with their upstart emperor,
were left alone in the hippodrome. The fidelity of the guards was
doubtful; but the military force of Justinian consisted in three
thousand veterans, who had been trained to valor and discipline in the
Persian and Illyrian wars. Under the command of Belisarius and Mundus,
they silently marched in two divisions from the palace, forced their
obscure way through narrow passages, expiring flames, and falling
edifices, and burst open at the same moment the two opposite gates of
the hippodrome. In this narrow space, the disorderly and affrighted
crowd was incapable of resisting on either side a firm and regular
attack; the blues signalized the fury of their repentance; and it is
computed, that above thirty thousand persons were slain in the merciless
and promiscuous carnage of the day. Hypatius was dragged from his
throne, and conducted, with his brother Pompey, to the feet of the
emperor: they implored his clemency; but their crime was manifest,
their innocence uncertain, and Justinian had been too much terrified to
forgive. The next morning the two nephews of Anastasius, with eighteen
_illustrious_ accomplices, of patrician or consular rank, were privately
executed by the soldiers; their bodies were thrown into the sea, their
palaces razed, and their fortunes confiscated. The hippodrome itself
was condemned, during several years, to a mournful silence: with the
restoration of the games, the same disorders revived; and the blue
and green factions continued to afflict the reign of Justinian, and to
disturb the tranquility of the Eastern empire.

III. That empire, after Rome was barbarous, still embraced the nations
whom she had conquered beyond the Adriatic, and as far as the frontiers
of Æthiopia and Persia. Justinian reigned over sixty-four provinces,
and nine hundred and thirty-five cities; his dominions were blessed
by nature with the advantages of soil, situation, and climate: and the
improvements of human art had been perpetually diffused along the coast
of the Mediterranean and the banks of the Nile from ancient Troy to the
Egyptian Thebes. Abraham had been relieved by the well-known plenty of
Egypt; the same country, a small and populous tract, was still capable
of exporting, each year, two hundred and sixty thousand quarters of
wheat for the use of Constantinople; and the capital of Justinian was
supplied with the manufactures of Sidon, fifteen centuries after
they had been celebrated in the poems of Homer. The annual powers of
vegetation, instead of being exhausted by two thousand harvests,
were renewed and invigorated by skilful husbandry, rich manure,
and seasonable repose. The breed of domestic animals was infinitely
multiplied. Plantations, buildings, and the instruments of labor
and luxury, which are more durable than the term of human life, were
accumulated by the care of successive generations. Tradition preserved,
and experience simplified, the humble practice of the arts: society
was enriched by the division of labor and the facility of exchange; and
every Roman was lodged, clothed, and subsisted, by the industry of a
thousand hands. The invention of the loom and distaff has been piously
ascribed to the gods. In every age, a variety of animal and vegetable
productions, hair, skins, wool, flax, cotton, and at length _silk_, have
been skilfully manufactured to hide or adorn the human body; they
were stained with an infusion of permanent colors; and the pencil was
successfully employed to improve the labors of the loom. In the choice
of those colors which imitate the beauties of nature, the freedom of
taste and fashion was indulged; but the deep purple which the Phnicians
extracted from a shell-fish, was restrained to the sacred person and
palace of the emperor; and the penalties of treason were denounced
against the ambitious subjects who dared to usurp the prerogative of the
throne.



Chapter XL: Reign Of Justinian.--Part III.

I need not explain that _silk_ is originally spun from the bowels of a
caterpillar, and that it composes the golden tomb, from whence a worm
emerges in the form of a butterfly. Till the reign of Justinian,
the silk-worm who feed on the leaves of the white mulberry-tree were
confined to China; those of the pine, the oak, and the ash, were common
in the forests both of Asia and Europe; but as their education is
more difficult, and their produce more uncertain, they were generally
neglected, except in the little island of Ceos, near the coast of
Attica. A thin gauze was procured from their webs, and this Cean
manufacture, the invention of a woman, for female use, was long admired
both in the East and at Rome. Whatever suspicions may be raised by the
garments of the Medes and Assyrians, Virgil is the most ancient writer,
who expressly mentions the soft wool which was combed from the trees of
the Seres or Chinese; and this natural error, less marvellous than the
truth, was slowly corrected by the knowledge of a valuable insect, the
first artificer of the luxury of nations. That rare and elegant luxury
was censured, in the reign of Tiberius, by the gravest of the Romans;
and Pliny, in affected though forcible language, has condemned the
thirst of gain, which explores the last confines of the earth, for the
pernicious purpose of exposing to the public eye naked draperies and
transparent matrons. A dress which showed the turn of the limbs, and
color of the skin, might gratify vanity, or provoke desire; the silks
which had been closely woven in China were sometimes unravelled by the
Phnician women, and the precious materials were multiplied by a looser
texture, and the intermixture of linen threads. Two hundred years after
the age of Pliny, the use of pure, or even of mixed silks, was confined
to the female sex, till the opulent citizens of Rome and the provinces
were insensibly familiarized with the example of Elagabalus, the first
who, by this effeminate habit, had sullied the dignity of an emperor and
a man. Aurelian complained, that a pound of silk was sold at Rome for
twelve ounces of gold; but the supply increased with the demand, and
the price diminished with the supply. If accident or monopoly sometimes
raised the value even above the standard of Aurelian, the manufacturers
of Tyre and Berytus were sometimes compelled, by the operation of the
same causes, to content themselves with a ninth part of that extravagant
rate. A law was thought necessary to discriminate the dress of comedians
from that of senators; and of the silk exported from its native country
the far greater part was consumed by the subjects of Justinian.
They were still more intimately acquainted with a shell-fish of the
Mediterranean, surnamed the silk-worm of the sea: the fine wool or
hair by which the mother-of-pearl affixes itself to the rock is now
manufactured for curiosity rather than use; and a robe obtained from the
same singular materials was the gift of the Roman emperor to the satraps
of Armenia.

A valuable merchandise of small bulk is capable of defraying the expense
of land-carriage; and the caravans traversed the whole latitude of
Asia in two hundred and forty-three days from the Chinese Ocean to the
sea-coast of Syria. Silk was immediately delivered to the Romans by the
Persian merchants, who frequented the fairs of Armenia and Nisibis; but
this trade, which in the intervals of truce was oppressed by avarice
and jealousy, was totally interrupted by the long wars of the rival
monarchies. The great king might proudly number Sogdiana, and even
_Serica_, among the provinces of his empire; but his real dominion
was bounded by the Oxus and his useful intercourse with the Sogdoites,
beyond the river, depended on the pleasure of their conquerors,
the white Huns, and the Turks, who successively reigned over that
industrious people. Yet the most savage dominion has not extirpated the
seeds of agriculture and commerce, in a region which is celebrated as
one of the four gardens of Asia; the cities of Samarcand and Bochara are
advantageously seated for the exchange of its various productions; and
their merchants purchased from the Chinese, the raw or manufactured silk
which they transported into Persia for the use of the Roman empire. In
the vain capital of China, the Sogdian caravans were entertained as
the suppliant embassies of tributary kingdoms, and if they returned in
safety, the bold adventure was rewarded with exorbitant gain. But the
difficult and perilous march from Samarcand to the first town of Shensi,
could not be performed in less than sixty, eighty, or one hundred days:
as soon as they had passed the Jaxartes they entered the desert; and the
wandering hordes, unless they are restrained by armies and garrisons,
have always considered the citizen and the traveller as the objects of
lawful rapine. To escape the Tartar robbers, and the tyrants of Persia,
the silk caravans explored a more southern road; they traversed the
mountains of Thibet, descended the streams of the Ganges or the Indus,
and patiently expected, in the ports of Guzerat and Malabar, the annual
fleets of the West. But the dangers of the desert were found less
intolerable than toil, hunger, and the loss of time; the attempt was
seldom renewed, and the only European who has passed that unfrequented
way, applauds his own diligence, that, in nine months after his
departure from Pekin, he reached the mouth of the Indus. The ocean,
however, was open to the free communication of mankind. From the great
river to the tropic of Cancer, the provinces of China were subdued and
civilized by the emperors of the North; they were filled about the
time of the Christian æra with cities and men, mulberry-trees and their
precious inhabitants; and if the Chinese, with the knowledge of the
compass, had possessed the genius of the Greeks or Phnicians, they might
have spread their discoveries over the southern hemisphere. I am not
qualified to examine, and I am not disposed to believe, their distant
voyages to the Persian Gulf, or the Cape of Good Hope; but their
ancestors might equal the labors and success of the present race, and
the sphere of their navigation might extend from the Isles of Japan to
the Straits of Malacca, the pillars, if we may apply that name, of an
Oriental Hercules. Without losing sight of land, they might sail along
the coast to the extreme promontory of Achin, which is annually visited
by ten or twelve ships laden with the productions, the manufactures,
and even the artificers of China; the Island of Sumatra and the opposite
peninsula are faintly delineated as the regions of gold and silver; and
the trading cities named in the geography of Ptolemy may indicate, that
this wealth was not solely derived from the mines. The direct interval
between Sumatra and Ceylon is about three hundred leagues: the Chinese
and Indian navigators were conducted by the flight of birds and
periodical winds; and the ocean might be securely traversed in
square-built ships, which, instead of iron, were sewed together with
the strong thread of the cocoanut. Ceylon, Serendib, or Taprobana,
was divided between two hostile princes; one of whom possessed the
mountains, the elephants, and the luminous carbuncle, and the other
enjoyed the more solid riches of domestic industry, foreign trade, and
the capacious harbor of Trinquemale, which received and dismissed
the fleets of the East and West. In this hospitable isle, at an equal
distance (as it was computed) from their respective countries, the silk
merchants of China, who had collected in their voyages aloes, cloves,
nutmeg, and sandal wood, maintained a free and beneficial commerce with
the inhabitants of the Persian Gulf. The subjects of the great king
exalted, without a rival, his power and magnificence: and the Roman, who
confounded their vanity by comparing his paltry coin with a gold medal
of the emperor Anastasius, had sailed to Ceylon, in an Æthiopian ship,
as a simple passenger.

As silk became of indispensable use, the emperor Justinian saw with
concern that the Persians had occupied by land and sea the monopoly
of this important supply, and that the wealth of his subjects was
continually drained by a nation of enemies and idolaters. An active
government would have restored the trade of Egypt and the navigation of
the Red Sea, which had decayed with the prosperity of the empire; and
the Roman vessels might have sailed, for the purchase of silk, to the
ports of Ceylon, of Malacca, or even of China. Justinian embraced a more
humble expedient, and solicited the aid of his Christian allies,
the Æthiopians of Abyssinia, who had recently acquired the arts of
navigation, the spirit of trade, and the seaport of Adulis, still
decorated with the trophies of a Grecian conqueror. Along the African
coast, they penetrated to the equator in search of gold, emeralds, and
aromatics; but they wisely declined an unequal competition, in which
they must be always prevented by the vicinity of the Persians to the
markets of India; and the emperor submitted to the disappointment, till
his wishes were gratified by an unexpected event. The gospel had been
preached to the Indians: a bishop already governed the Christians of St.
Thomas on the pepper-coast of Malabar; a church was planted in
Ceylon, and the missionaries pursued the footsteps of commerce to
the extremities of Asia. Two Persian monks had long resided in China,
perhaps in the royal city of Nankin, the seat of a monarch addicted to
foreign superstitions, and who actually received an embassy from the
Isle of Ceylon. Amidst their pious occupations, they viewed with a
curious eye the common dress of the Chinese, the manufactures of silk,
and the myriads of silk-worms, whose education (either on trees or
in houses) had once been considered as the labor of queens. They soon
discovered that it was impracticable to transport the short-lived
insect, but that in the eggs a numerous progeny might be preserved and
multiplied in a distant climate. Religion or interest had more power
over the Persian monks than the love of their country: after a long
journey, they arrived at Constantinople, imparted their project to the
emperor, and were liberally encouraged by the gifts and promises of
Justinian. To the historians of that prince, a campaign at the foot of
Mount Caucasus has seemed more deserving of a minute relation than
the labors of these missionaries of commerce, who again entered China,
deceived a jealous people by concealing the eggs of the silk-worm in a
hollow cane, and returned in triumph with the spoils of the East. Under
their direction, the eggs were hatched at the proper season by the
artificial heat of dung; the worms were fed with mulberry leaves;
they lived and labored in a foreign climate; a sufficient number of
butterflies was saved to propagate the race, and trees were planted
to supply the nourishment of the rising generations. Experience and
reflection corrected the errors of a new attempt, and the Sogdoite
ambassadors acknowledged, in the succeeding reign, that the Romans were
not inferior to the natives of China in the education of the insects,
and the manufactures of silk, in which both China and Constantinople
have been surpassed by the industry of modern Europe. I am not
insensible of the benefits of elegant luxury; yet I reflect with some
pain, that if the importers of silk had introduced the art of printing,
already practised by the Chinese, the comedies of Menander and the
entire decads of Livy would have been perpetuated in the editions of the
sixth century. A larger view of the globe might at least have promoted
the improvement of speculative science, but the Christian geography was
forcibly extracted from texts of Scripture, and the study of nature was
the surest symptom of an unbelieving mind. The orthodox faith confined
the habitable world to _one_ temperate zone, and represented the earth
as an oblong surface, four hundred days' journey in length, two hundred
in breadth, encompassed by the ocean, and covered by the solid crystal
of the firmament.

IV. The subjects of Justinian were dissatisfied with the times, and with
the government. Europe was overrun by the Barbarians, and Asia by the
monks: the poverty of the West discouraged the trade and manufactures of
the East: the produce of labor was consumed by the unprofitable servants
of the church, the state, and the army; and a rapid decrease was felt in
the fixed and circulating capitals which constitute the national wealth.
The public distress had been alleviated by the economy of Anastasius,
and that prudent emperor accumulated an immense treasure, while he
delivered his people from the most odious or oppressive taxes.
Their gratitude universally applauded the abolition of the _gold of
affliction_, a personal tribute on the industry of the poor, but more
intolerable, as it should seem, in the form than in the substance, since
the flourishing city of Edessa paid only one hundred and forty pounds
of gold, which was collected in four years from ten thousand artificers.
Yet such was the parsimony which supported this liberal disposition,
that, in a reign of twenty-seven years, Anastasius saved, from his
annual revenue, the enormous sum of thirteen millions sterling, or three
hundred and twenty thousand pounds of gold. His example was neglected,
and his treasure was abused, by the nephew of Justin. The riches of
Justinian were speedily exhausted by alms and buildings, by ambitious
wars, and ignominious treaties. His revenues were found inadequate to
his expenses. Every art was tried to extort from the people the gold and
silver which he scattered with a lavish hand from Persia to France:
his reign was marked by the vicissitudes or rather by the combat, of
rapaciousness and avarice, of splendor and poverty; he lived with the
reputation of hidden treasures, and bequeathed to his successor the
payment of his debts. Such a character has been justly accused by
the voice of the people and of posterity: but public discontent is
credulous; private malice is bold; and a lover of truth will peruse
with a suspicious eye the instructive anecdotes of Procopius. The secret
historian represents only the vices of Justinian, and those vices are
darkened by his malevolent pencil. Ambiguous actions are imputed to the
worst motives; error is confounded with guilt, accident with design,
and laws with abuses; the partial injustice of a moment is dexterously
applied as the general maxim of a reign of thirty-two years; the emperor
alone is made responsible for the faults of his officers, the disorders
of the times, and the corruption of his subjects; and even the
calamities of nature, plagues, earthquakes, and inundations, are imputed
to the prince of the dæmons, who had mischievously assumed the form of
Justinian.

After this precaution, I shall briefly relate the anecdotes of avarice
and rapine under the following heads: I. Justinian was so profuse that
he could not be liberal. The civil and military officers, when they were
admitted into the service of the palace, obtained an humble rank and a
moderate stipend; they ascended by seniority to a station of affluence
and repose; the annual pensions, of which the most honorable class was
abolished by Justinian, amounted to four hundred thousand pounds; and
this domestic economy was deplored by the venal or indigent courtiers as
the last outrage on the majesty of the empire. The posts, the salaries
of physicians, and the nocturnal illuminations, were objects of more
general concern; and the cities might justly complain, that he usurped
the municipal revenues which had been appropriated to these useful
institutions. Even the soldiers were injured; and such was the decay
of military spirit, that they were injured with impunity. The emperor
refused, at the return of each fifth year, the customary donative
of five pieces of gold, reduced his veterans to beg their bread, and
suffered unpaid armies to melt away in the wars of Italy and Persia. II.
The humanity of his predecessors had always remitted, in some auspicious
circumstance of their reign, the arrears of the public tribute, and they
dexterously assumed the merit of resigning those claims which it was
impracticable to enforce. "Justinian, in the space of thirty-two years,
has never granted a similar indulgence; and many of his subjects have
renounced the possession of those lands whose value is insufficient to
satisfy the demands of the treasury. To the cities which had suffered by
hostile inroads Anastasius promised a general exemption of seven years:
the provinces of Justinian have been ravaged by the Persians and Arabs,
the Huns and Sclavonians; but his vain and ridiculous dispensation of a
single year has been confined to those places which were actually
taken by the enemy." Such is the language of the secret historian, who
expressly denies that any indulgence was granted to Palestine after the
revolt of the Samaritans; a false and odious charge, confuted by the
authentic record which attests a relief of thirteen centenaries of gold
(fifty-two thousand pounds) obtained for that desolate province by
the intercession of St. Sabas. III. Procopius has not condescended to
explain the system of taxation, which fell like a hail-storm upon the
land, like a devouring pestilence on its inhabitants: but we should
become the accomplices of his malignity, if we imputed to Justinian
alone the ancient though rigorous principle, that a whole district
should be condemned to sustain the partial loss of the persons or
property of individuals. The _Annona_, or supply of corn for the use
of the army and capital, was a grievous and arbitrary exaction, which
exceeded, perhaps in a tenfold proportion, the ability of the farmer;
and his distress was aggravated by the partial injustice of weights and
measures, and the expense and labor of distant carriage. In a time
of scarcity, an extraordinary requisition was made to the adjacent
provinces of Thrace, Bithynia, and Phrygia: but the proprietors, after
a wearisome journey and perilous navigation, received so inadequate a
compensation, that they would have chosen the alternative of delivering
both the corn and price at the doors of their granaries. These
precautions might indicate a tender solicitude for the welfare of the
capital; yet Constantinople did not escape the rapacious despotism of
Justinian. Till his reign, the Straits of the Bosphorus and Hellespont
were open to the freedom of trade, and nothing was prohibited except the
exportation of arms for the service of the Barbarians. At each of these
gates of the city, a prætor was stationed, the minister of Imperial
avarice; heavy customs were imposed on the vessels and their
merchandise; the oppression was retaliated on the helpless consumer; the
poor were afflicted by the artificial scarcity, and exorbitant price
of the market; and a people, accustomed to depend on the liberality of
their prince, might sometimes complain of the deficiency of water
and bread. The _aerial_ tribute, without a name, a law, or a definite
object, was an annual gift of one hundred and twenty thousand pounds,
which the emperor accepted from his Prætorian præfect; and the means of
payment were abandoned to the discretion of that powerful magistrate.
IV. Even such a tax was less intolerable than the privilege of
monopolies, which checked the fair competition of industry, and, for
the sake of a small and dishonest gain, imposed an arbitrary burden
on the wants and luxury of the subject. "As soon" (I transcribe the
Anecdotes) "as the exclusive sale of silk was usurped by the Imperial
treasurer, a whole people, the manufacturers of Tyre and Berytus, was
reduced to extreme misery, and either perished with hunger, or fled to
the hostile dominions of Persia." A province might suffer by the
decay of its manufactures, but in this example of silk, Procopius has
partially overlooked the inestimable and lasting benefit which the
empire received from the curiosity of Justinian. His addition of one
seventh to the ordinary price of copper money may be interpreted with
the same candor; and the alteration, which might be wise, appears to
have been innocent; since he neither alloyed the purity, nor enhanced
the value, of the gold coin, the legal measure of public and private
payments. V. The ample jurisdiction required by the farmers of the
revenue to accomplish their engagements might be placed in an odious
light, as if they had purchased from the emperor the lives and fortunes
of their fellow-citizens. And a more direct sale of honors and offices
was transacted in the palace, with the permission, or at least with the
connivance, of Justinian and Theodora. The claims of merit, even those
of favor, were disregarded, and it was almost reasonable to expect,
that the bold adventurer, who had undertaken the trade of a magistrate,
should find a rich compensation for infamy, labor, danger, the debts
which he had contracted, and the heavy interest which he paid. A sense
of the disgrace and mischief of this venal practice, at length awakened
the slumbering virtue of Justinian; and he attempted, by the sanction
of oaths and penalties, to guard the integrity of his government: but
at the end of a year of perjury, his rigorous edict was suspended, and
corruption licentiously abused her triumph over the impotence of the
laws. VI. The testament of Eulalius, count of the domestics, declared
the emperor his sole heir, on condition, however, that he should
discharge his debts and legacies, allow to his three daughters a decent
maintenance, and bestow each of them in marriage, with a portion of ten
pounds of gold. But the splendid fortune of Eulalius had been consumed
by fire, and the inventory of his goods did not exceed the trifling sum
of five hundred and sixty-four pieces of gold. A similar instance, in
Grecian history, admonished the emperor of the honorable part prescribed
for his imitation. He checked the selfish murmurs of the treasury,
applauded the confidence of his friend, discharged the legacies and
debts, educated the three virgins under the eye of the empress Theodora,
and doubled the marriage portion which had satisfied the tenderness of
their father. The humanity of a prince (for princes cannot be generous)
is entitled to some praise; yet even in this act of virtue we may
discover the inveterate custom of supplanting the legal or natural
heirs, which Procopius imputes to the reign of Justinian. His charge is
supported by eminent names and scandalous examples; neither widows
nor orphans were spared; and the art of soliciting, or extorting, or
supposing testaments, was beneficially practised by the agents of
the palace. This base and mischievous tyranny invades the security of
private life; and the monarch who has indulged an appetite for gain,
will soon be tempted to anticipate the moment of succession, to
interpret wealth as an evidence of guilt, and to proceed, from the claim
of inheritance, to the power of confiscation. VII. Among the forms of
rapine, a philosopher may be permitted to name the conversion of Pagan
or heretical riches to the use of the faithful; but in the time of
Justinian this holy plunder was condemned by the sectaries alone, who
became the victims of his orthodox avarice.



Chapter XL: Reign Of Justinian.--Part IV.

Dishonor might be ultimately reflected on the character of Justinian;
but much of the guilt, and still more of the profit, was intercepted
by the ministers, who were seldom promoted for their virtues, and not
always selected for their talents. The merits of Tribonian the quæstor
will hereafter be weighed in the reformation of the Roman law; but
the economy of the East was subordinate to the Prætorian præfect, and
Procopius has justified his anecdotes by the portrait which he exposes
in his public history, of the notorious vices of John of Cappadocia.
* His knowledge was not borrowed from the schools, and his style was
scarcely legible; but he excelled in the powers of native genius,
to suggest the wisest counsels, and to find expedients in the most
desperate situations. The corruption of his heart was equal to the
vigor of his understanding. Although he was suspected of magic and
Pagan superstition, he appeared insensible to the fear of God or the
reproaches of man; and his aspiring fortune was raised on the death
of thousands, the poverty of millions, the ruins of cities, and the
desolation of provinces. From the dawn of light to the moment of dinner,
he assiduously labored to enrich his master and himself at the expense
of the Roman world; the remainder of the day was spent in sensual and
obscene pleasures, and the silent hours of the night were interrupted
by the perpetual dread of the justice of an assassin. His abilities,
perhaps his vices, recommended him to the lasting friendship of
Justinian: the emperor yielded with reluctance to the fury of the
people; his victory was displayed by the immediate restoration of
their enemy; and they felt above ten years, under his oppressive
administration, that he was stimulated by revenge, rather than
instructed by misfortune. Their murmurs served only to fortify the
resolution of Justinian; but the resentment of Theodora, disdained a
power before which every knee was bent, and attempted to sow the seeds
of discord between the emperor and his beloved consort. Even Theodora
herself was constrained to dissemble, to wait a favorable moment, and,
by an artful conspiracy, to render John of Cappadocia the accomplice
of his own destruction. At a time when Belisarius, unless he had been
a hero, must have shown himself a rebel, his wife Antonina, who
enjoyed the secret confidence of the empress, communicated his feigned
discontent to Euphemia, the daughter of the præfect; the credulous
virgin imparted to her father the dangerous project, and John, who might
have known the value of oaths and promises, was tempted to accept
a nocturnal, and almost treasonable, interview with the wife of
Belisarius. An ambuscade of guards and eunuchs had been posted by the
command of Theodora; they rushed with drawn swords to seize or to punish
the guilty minister: he was saved by the fidelity of his attendants; but
instead of appealing to a gracious sovereign, who had privately warned
him of his danger, he pusillanimously fled to the sanctuary of the
church. The favorite of Justinian was sacrificed to conjugal tenderness
or domestic tranquility; the conversion of a præfect into a priest
extinguished his ambitious hopes: but the friendship of the emperor
alleviated his disgrace, and he retained in the mild exile of Cyzicus
an ample portion of his riches. Such imperfect revenge could not satisfy
the unrelenting hatred of Theodora; the murder of his old enemy, the
bishop of Cyzicus, afforded a decent pretence; and John of Cappadocia,
whose actions had deserved a thousand deaths, was at last condemned
for a crime of which he was innocent. A great minister, who had been
invested with the honors of consul and patrician, was ignominiously
scourged like the vilest of malefactors; a tattered cloak was the sole
remnant of his fortunes; he was transported in a bark to the place of
his banishment at Antinopolis in Upper Egypt, and the præfect of the
East begged his bread through the cities which had trembled at his name.
During an exile of seven years, his life was protracted and threatened
by the ingenious cruelty of Theodora; and when her death permitted
the emperor to recall a servant whom he had abandoned with regret, the
ambition of John of Cappadocia was reduced to the humble duties of
the sacerdotal profession. His successors convinced the subjects of
Justinian, that the arts of oppression might still be improved by
experience and industry; the frauds of a Syrian banker were introduced
into the administration of the finances; and the example of the præfect
was diligently copied by the quæstor, the public and private treasurer,
the governors of provinces, and the principal magistrates of the Eastern
empire.

V. The _edifices_ of Justinian were cemented with the blood and treasure
of his people; but those stately structures appeared to announce the
prosperity of the empire, and actually displayed the skill of their
architects. Both the theory and practice of the arts which depend on
mathematical science and mechanical power, were cultivated under the
patronage of the emperors; the fame of Archimedes was rivalled by
Proclus and Anthemius; and if their _miracles_ had been related by
intelligent spectators, they might now enlarge the speculations, instead
of exciting the distrust, of philosophers. A tradition has prevailed,
that the Roman fleet was reduced to ashes in the port of Syracuse, by
the burning-glasses of Archimedes; and it is asserted, that a similar
expedient was employed by Proclus to destroy the Gothic vessels in
the harbor of Constantinople, and to protect his benefactor Anastasius
against the bold enterprise of Vitalian. A machine was fixed on the
walls of the city, consisting of a hexagon mirror of polished brass,
with many smaller and movable polygons to receive and reflect the rays
of the meridian sun; and a consuming flame was darted, to the distance,
perhaps of two hundred feet. The truth of these two extraordinary facts
is invalidated by the silence of the most authentic historians; and the
use of burning-glasses was never adopted in the attack or defence of
places. Yet the admirable experiments of a French philosopher have
demonstrated the possibility of such a mirror; and, since it is
possible, I am more disposed to attribute the art to the greatest
mathematicians of antiquity, than to give the merit of the fiction
to the idle fancy of a monk or a sophist. According to another story,
Proclus applied sulphur to the destruction of the Gothic fleet; in a
modern imagination, the name of sulphur is instantly connected with the
suspicion of gunpowder, and that suspicion is propagated by the secret
arts of his disciple Anthemius. A citizen of Tralles in Asia had five
sons, who were all distinguished in their respective professions by
merit and success. Olympius excelled in the knowledge and practice
of the Roman jurisprudence. Dioscorus and Alexander became learned
physicians; but the skill of the former was exercised for the benefit
of his fellow-citizens, while his more ambitious brother acquired wealth
and reputation at Rome. The fame of Metrodorus the grammarian, and
of Anthemius the mathematician and architect, reached the ears of the
emperor Justinian, who invited them to Constantinople; and while the one
instructed the rising generation in the schools of eloquence, the other
filled the capital and provinces with more lasting monuments of his
art. In a trifling dispute relative to the walls or windows of their
contiguous houses, he had been vanquished by the eloquence of his
neighbor Zeno; but the orator was defeated in his turn by the master
of mechanics, whose malicious, though harmless, stratagems are darkly
represented by the ignorance of Agathias. In a lower room, Anthemius
arranged several vessels or caldrons of water, each of them covered by
the wide bottom of a leathern tube, which rose to a narrow top, and
was artificially conveyed among the joists and rafters of the adjacent
building. A fire was kindled beneath the caldron; the steam of the
boiling water ascended through the tubes; the house was shaken by the
efforts of imprisoned air, and its trembling inhabitants might wonder
that the city was unconscious of the earthquake which they had felt. At
another time, the friends of Zeno, as they sat at table, were dazzled
by the intolerable light which flashed in their eyes from the reflecting
mirrors of Anthemius; they were astonished by the noise which he
produced from the collision of certain minute and sonorous particles;
and the orator declared in tragic style to the senate, that a mere
mortal must yield to the power of an antagonist, who shook the earth
with the trident of Neptune, and imitated the thunder and lightning of
Jove himself. The genius of Anthemius, and his colleague Isidore
the Milesian, was excited and employed by a prince, whose taste for
architecture had degenerated into a mischievous and costly passion.
His favorite architects submitted their designs and difficulties to
Justinian, and discreetly confessed how much their laborious meditations
were surpassed by the intuitive knowledge of celestial inspiration of an
emperor, whose views were always directed to the benefit of his people,
the glory of his reign, and the salvation of his soul.

The principal church, which was dedicated by the founder of
Constantinople to St. Sophia, or the eternal wisdom, had been twice
destroyed by fire; after the exile of John Chrysostom, and during the
_Nika_ of the blue and green factions. No sooner did the tumult subside,
than the Christian populace deplored their sacrilegious rashness; but
they might have rejoiced in the calamity, had they foreseen the glory
of the new temple, which at the end of forty days was strenuously
undertaken by the piety of Justinian. The ruins were cleared away, a
more spacious plan was described, and as it required the consent of some
proprietors of ground, they obtained the most exorbitant terms from the
eager desires and timorous conscience of the monarch. Anthemius formed
the design, and his genius directed the hands of ten thousand workmen,
whose payment in pieces of fine silver was never delayed beyond the
evening. The emperor himself, clad in a linen tunic, surveyed each day
their rapid progress, and encouraged their diligence by his familiarity,
his zeal, and his rewards. The new Cathedral of St. Sophia was
consecrated by the patriarch, five years, eleven months, and ten days
from the first foundation; and in the midst of the solemn festival
Justinian exclaimed with devout vanity, "Glory be to God, who hath
thought me worthy to accomplish so great a work; I have vanquished thee,
O Solomon!" But the pride of the Roman Solomon, before twenty years had
elapsed, was humbled by an earthquake, which overthrew the eastern part
of the dome. Its splendor was again restored by the perseverance of
the same prince; and in the thirty-sixth year of his reign, Justinian
celebrated the second dedication of a temple which remains, after twelve
centuries, a stately monument of his fame. The architecture of St.
Sophia, which is now converted into the principal mosch, has been
imitated by the Turkish sultans, and that venerable pile continues
to excite the fond admiration of the Greeks, and the more rational
curiosity of European travellers. The eye of the spectator is
disappointed by an irregular prospect of half-domes and shelving roofs:
the western front, the principal approach, is destitute of simplicity
and magnificence; and the scale of dimensions has been much surpassed by
several of the Latin cathedrals. But the architect who first erected and
_aerial_ cupola, is entitled to the praise of bold design and skilful
execution. The dome of St. Sophia, illuminated by four-and-twenty
windows, is formed with so small a curve, that the depth is equal
only to one sixth of its diameter; the measure of that diameter is one
hundred and fifteen feet, and the lofty centre, where a crescent has
supplanted the cross, rises to the perpendicular height of one hundred
and eighty feet above the pavement. The circle which encompasses the
dome, lightly reposes on four strong arches, and their weight is firmly
supported by four massy piles, whose strength is assisted, on the
northern and southern sides, by four columns of Egyptian granite. A
Greek cross, inscribed in a quadrangle, represents the form of the
edifice; the exact breadth is two hundred and forty-three feet, and two
hundred and sixty-nine may be assigned for the extreme length from the
sanctuary in the east, to the nine western doors, which open into the
vestibule, and from thence into the _narthex_ or exterior portico. That
portico was the humble station of the penitents. The nave or body of the
church was filled by the congregation of the faithful; but the two sexes
were prudently distinguished, and the upper and lower galleries were
allotted for the more private devotion of the women. Beyond the northern
and southern piles, a balustrade, terminated on either side by the
thrones of the emperor and the patriarch, divided the nave from the
choir; and the space, as far as the steps of the altar, was occupied by
the clergy and singers. The altar itself, a name which insensibly
became familiar to Christian ears, was placed in the eastern recess,
artificially built in the form of a demi-cylinder; and this sanctuary
communicated by several doors with the sacristy, the vestry, the
baptistery, and the contiguous buildings, subservient either to the
pomp of worship, or the private use of the ecclesiastical ministers.
The memory of past calamities inspired Justinian with a wise resolution,
that no wood, except for the doors, should be admitted into the new
edifice; and the choice of the materials was applied to the strength,
the lightness, or the splendor of the respective parts. The solid piles
which contained the cupola were composed of huge blocks of freestone,
hewn into squares and triangles, fortified by circles of iron, and
firmly cemented by the infusion of lead and quicklime: but the weight of
the cupola was diminished by the levity of its substance, which consists
either of pumice-stone that floats in the water, or of bricks from the
Isle of Rhodes, five times less ponderous than the ordinary sort. The
whole frame of the edifice was constructed of brick; but those base
materials were concealed by a crust of marble; and the inside of St.
Sophia, the cupola, the two larger, and the six smaller, semi-domes, the
walls, the hundred columns, and the pavement, delight even the eyes of
Barbarians, with a rich and variegated picture. A poet, who beheld the
primitive lustre of St. Sophia, enumerates the colors, the shades,
and the spots of ten or twelve marbles, jaspers, and porphyries, which
nature had profusely diversified, and which were blended and contrasted
as it were by a skilful painter. The triumph of Christ was adorned with
the last spoils of Paganism, but the greater part of these costly stones
was extracted from the quarries of Asia Minor, the isles and continent
of Greece, Egypt, Africa, and Gaul. Eight columns of porphyry, which
Aurelian had placed in the temple of the sun, were offered by the piety
of a Roman matron; eight others of green marble were presented by the
ambitious zeal of the magistrates of Ephesus: both are admirable by
their size and beauty, but every order of architecture disclaims their
fantastic capital. A variety of ornaments and figures was curiously
expressed in mosaic; and the images of Christ, of the Virgin, of saints,
and of angels, which have been defaced by Turkish fanaticism, were
dangerously exposed to the superstition of the Greeks. According to the
sanctity of each object, the precious metals were distributed in thin
leaves or in solid masses. The balustrade of the choir, the capitals
of the pillars, the ornaments of the doors and galleries, were of
gilt bronze; the spectator was dazzled by the glittering aspect of the
cupola; the sanctuary contained forty thousand pounds weight of silver;
and the holy vases and vestments of the altar were of the purest gold,
enriched with inestimable gems. Before the structure of the church had
arisen two cubits above the ground, forty-five thousand two hundred
pounds were already consumed; and the whole expense amounted to three
hundred and twenty thousand: each reader, according to the measure of
his belief, may estimate their value either in gold or silver; but the
sum of one million sterling is the result of the lowest computation.
A magnificent temple is a laudable monument of national taste and
religion; and the enthusiast who entered the dome of St. Sophia might be
tempted to suppose that it was the residence, or even the workmanship,
of the Deity. Yet how dull is the artifice, how insignificant is the
labor, if it be compared with the formation of the vilest insect that
crawls upon the surface of the temple!

So minute a description of an edifice which time has respected, may
attest the truth, and excuse the relation, of the innumerable works,
both in the capital and provinces, which Justinian constructed on a
smaller scale and less durable foundations. In Constantinople alone and
the adjacent suburbs, he dedicated twenty-five churches to the honor
of Christ, the Virgin, and the saints: most of these churches were
decorated with marble and gold; and their various situation was
skilfully chosen in a populous square, or a pleasant grove; on the
margin of the sea-shore, or on some lofty eminence which overlooked
the continents of Europe and Asia. The church of the Holy Apostles at
Constantinople, and that of St. John at Ephesus, appear to have been
framed on the same model: their domes aspired to imitate the cupolas of
St. Sophia; but the altar was more judiciously placed under the centre
of the dome, at the junction of four stately porticos, which more
accurately expressed the figure of the Greek cross. The Virgin of
Jerusalem might exult in the temple erected by her Imperial votary on a
most ungrateful spot, which afforded neither ground nor materials to the
architect. A level was formed by raising part of a deep valley to the
height of the mountain. The stones of a neighboring quarry were hewn
into regular forms; each block was fixed on a peculiar carriage, drawn
by forty of the strongest oxen, and the roads were widened for the
passage of such enormous weights. Lebanon furnished her loftiest cedars
for the timbers of the church; and the seasonable discovery of a vein of
red marble supplied its beautiful columns, two of which, the supporters
of the exterior portico, were esteemed the largest in the world. The
pious munificence of the emperor was diffused over the Holy Land; and if
reason should condemn the monasteries of both sexes which were built or
restored by Justinian, yet charity must applaud the wells which he
sunk, and the hospitals which he founded, for the relief of the weary
pilgrims. The schismatical temper of Egypt was ill entitled to the
royal bounty; but in Syria and Africa, some remedies were applied to
the disasters of wars and earthquakes, and both Carthage and Antioch,
emerging from their ruins, might revere the name of their gracious
benefactor. Almost every saint in the calendar acquired the honors of a
temple; almost every city of the empire obtained the solid advantages
of bridges, hospitals, and aqueducts; but the severe liberality of the
monarch disdained to indulge his subjects in the popular luxury of baths
and theatres. While Justinian labored for the public service, he was not
unmindful of his own dignity and ease. The Byzantine palace, which had
been damaged by the conflagration, was restored with new magnificence;
and some notion may be conceived of the whole edifice, by the vestibule
or hall, which, from the doors perhaps, or the roof, was surnamed
_chalce_, or the brazen. The dome of a spacious quadrangle was
supported by massy pillars; the pavement and walls were incrusted with
many-colored marbles--the emerald green of Laconia, the fiery red, and
the white Phrygian stone, intersected with veins of a sea-green hue: the
mosaic paintings of the dome and sides represented the glories of the
African and Italian triumphs. On the Asiatic shore of the Propontis, at
a small distance to the east of Chalcedon, the costly palace and gardens
of Heræum were prepared for the summer residence of Justinian, and more
especially of Theodora. The poets of the age have celebrated the rare
alliance of nature and art, the harmony of the nymphs of the groves, the
fountains, and the waves: yet the crowd of attendants who followed the
court complained of their inconvenient lodgings, and the nymphs were too
often alarmed by the famous Porphyrio, a whale of ten cubits in breadth,
and thirty in length, who was stranded at the mouth of the River
Sangaris, after he had infested more than half a century the seas of
Constantinople.

The fortifications of Europe and Asia were multiplied by Justinian; but
the repetition of those timid and fruitless precautions exposes, to
a philosophic eye, the debility of the empire. From Belgrade to the
Euxine, from the conflux of the Save to the mouth of the Danube, a chain
of above fourscore fortified places was extended along the banks of the
great river. Single watch-towers were changed into spacious citadels;
vacant walls, which the engineers contracted or enlarged according to
the nature of the ground, were filled with colonies or garrisons; a
strong fortress defended the ruins of Trajan's bridge, and several
military stations affected to spread beyond the Danube the pride of the
Roman name. But that name was divested of its terrors; the Barbarians,
in their annual inroads, passed, and contemptuously repassed, before
these useless bulwarks; and the inhabitants of the frontier, instead
of reposing under the shadow of the general defence, were compelled
to guard, with incessant vigilance, their separate habitations. The
solitude of ancient cities, was replenished; the new foundations of
Justinian acquired, perhaps too hastily, the epithets of impregnable
and populous; and the auspicious place of his own nativity attracted
the grateful reverence of the vainest of princes. Under the name of
_Justiniana prima_, the obscure village of Tauresium became the seat
of an archbishop and a præfect, whose jurisdiction extended over
seven warlike provinces of Illyricum; and the corrupt apellation of
_Giustendil_ still indicates, about twenty miles to the south of
Sophia, the residence of a Turkish sanjak. For the use of the emperor's
countryman, a cathedral, a place, and an aqueduct, were speedily
constructed; the public and private edifices were adapted to the
greatness of a royal city; and the strength of the walls resisted,
during the lifetime of Justinian, the unskilful assaults of the Huns and
Sclavonians. Their progress was sometimes retarded, and their hopes
of rapine were disappointed, by the innumerable castles which, in the
provinces of Dacia, Epirus, Thessaly, Macedonia, and Thrace, appeared
to cover the whole face of the country. Six hundred of these forts were
built or repaired by the emperor; but it seems reasonable to believe,
that the far greater part consisted only of a stone or brick tower, in
the midst of a square or circular area, which was surrounded by a wall
and ditch, and afforded in a moment of danger some protection to the
peasants and cattle of the neighboring villages. Yet these military
works, which exhausted the public treasure, could not remove the just
apprehensions of Justinian and his European subjects. The warm baths of
Anchialus in Thrace were rendered as safe as they were salutary; but the
rich pastures of Thessalonica were foraged by the Scythian cavalry;
the delicious vale of Tempe, three hundred miles from the Danube,
was continually alarmed by the sound of war; and no unfortified spot,
however distant or solitary, could securely enjoy the blessings of
peace. The Straits of Thermopylæ, which seemed to protect, but which had
so often betrayed, the safety of Greece, were diligently strengthened
by the labors of Justinian. From the edge of the sea-shore, through
the forests and valleys, and as far as the summit of the Thessalian
mountains, a strong wall was continued, which occupied every practicable
entrance. Instead of a hasty crowd of peasants, a garrison of two
thousand soldiers was stationed along the rampart; granaries of corn
and reservoirs of water were provided for their use; and by a precaution
that inspired the cowardice which it foresaw, convenient fortresses
were erected for their retreat. The walls of Corinth, overthrown by
an earthquake, and the mouldering bulwarks of Athens and Platæa, were
carefully restored; the Barbarians were discouraged by the prospect of
successive and painful sieges: and the naked cities of Peloponnesus
were covered by the fortifications of the Isthmus of Corinth. At the
extremity of Europe, another peninsula, the Thracian Chersonesus, runs
three days' journey into the sea, to form, with the adjacent shores
of Asia, the Straits of the Hellespont. The intervals between eleven
populous towns were filled by lofty woods, fair pastures, and arable
lands; and the isthmus, of thirty seven stadia or furlongs, had been
fortified by a Spartan general nine hundred years before the reign of
Justinian. In an age of freedom and valor, the slightest rampart may
prevent a surprise; and Procopius appears insensible of the superiority
of ancient times, while he praises the solid construction and double
parapet of a wall, whose long arms stretched on either side into
the sea; but whose strength was deemed insufficient to guard the
Chersonesus, if each city, and particularly Gallipoli and Sestus, had
not been secured by their peculiar fortifications. The _long_ wall, as
it was emphatically styled, was a work as disgraceful in the object,
as it was respectable in the execution. The riches of a capital
diffuse themselves over the neighboring country, and the territory of
Constantinople a paradise of nature, was adorned with the luxurious
gardens and villas of the senators and opulent citizens. But their
wealth served only to attract the bold and rapacious Barbarians; the
noblest of the Romans, in the bosom of peaceful indolence, were led away
into Scythian captivity, and their sovereign might view from his palace
the hostile flames which were insolently spread to the gates of the
Imperial city. At the distance only of forty miles, Anastasius was
constrained to establish a last frontier; his long wall, of sixty miles
from the Propontis to the Euxine, proclaimed the impotence of his arms;
and as the danger became more imminent, new fortifications were added by
the indefatigable prudence of Justinian.

Asia Minor, after the submission of the Isaurians, remained without
enemies and without fortifications. Those bold savages, who had
disdained to be the subjects of Gallienus, persisted two hundred and
thirty years in a life of independence and rapine. The most successful
princes respected the strength of the mountains and the despair of
the natives; their fierce spirit was sometimes soothed with gifts,
and sometimes restrained by terror; and a military count, with three
legions, fixed his permanent and ignominious station in the heart of
the Roman provinces. But no sooner was the vigilance of power relaxed or
diverted, than the light-armed squadrons descended from the hills, and
invaded the peaceful plenty of Asia. Although the Isaurians were
not remarkable for stature or bravery, want rendered them bold, and
experience made them skilful in the exercise of predatory war.
They advanced with secrecy and speed to the attack of villages and
defenceless towns; their flying parties have sometimes touched the
Hellespont, the Euxine, and the gates of Tarsus, Antioch, or Damascus;
and the spoil was lodged in their inaccessible mountains, before the
Roman troops had received their orders, or the distant province had
computed its loss. The guilt of rebellion and robbery excluded them from
the rights of national enemies; and the magistrates were instructed,
by an edict, that the trial or punishment of an Isaurian, even on the
festival of Easter, was a meritorious act of justice and piety. If the
captives were condemned to domestic slavery, they maintained, with their
sword or dagger, the private quarrel of their masters; and it was found
expedient for the public tranquillity to prohibit the service of such
dangerous retainers. When their countryman Tarcalissæus or Zeno ascended
the throne, he invited a faithful and formidable band of Isaurians, who
insulted the court and city, and were rewarded by an annual tribute of
five thousand pounds of gold. But the hopes of fortune depopulated the
mountains, luxury enervated the hardiness of their minds and bodies, and
in proportion as they mixed with mankind, they became less qualified for
the enjoyment of poor and solitary freedom. After the death of Zeno, his
successor Anastasius suppressed their pensions, exposed their persons
to the revenge of the people, banished them from Constantinople, and
prepared to sustain a war, which left only the alternative of victory or
servitude. A brother of the last emperor usurped the title of Augustus;
his cause was powerfully supported by the arms, the treasures, and the
magazines, collected by Zeno; and the native Isaurians must have formed
the smallest portion of the hundred and fifty thousand Barbarians under
his standard, which was sanctified, for the first time, by the presence
of a fighting bishop. Their disorderly numbers were vanquished in the
plains of Phrygia by the valor and discipline of the Goths; but a war
of six years almost exhausted the courage of the emperor. The Isaurians
retired to their mountains; their fortresses were successively besieged
and ruined; their communication with the sea was intercepted; the
bravest of their leaders died in arms; the surviving chiefs, before
their execution, were dragged in chains through the hippodrome; a colony
of their youth was transplanted into Thrace, and the remnant of the
people submitted to the Roman government. Yet some generations elapsed
before their minds were reduced to the level of slavery. The populous
villages of Mount Taurus were filled with horsemen and archers: they
resisted the imposition of tributes, but they recruited the armies of
Justinian; and his civil magistrates, the proconsul of Cappadocia, the
count of Isauria, and the prætors of Lycaonia and Pisidia, were invested
with military power to restrain the licentious practice of rapes and
assassinations.



Chapter XL: Reign Of Justinian.--Part V.

If we extend our view from the tropic to the mouth of the Tanais, we may
observe, on one hand, the precautions of Justinian to curb the savages
of Æthiopia, and on the other, the long walls which he constructed
in Crimæa for the protection of his friendly Goths, a colony of three
thousand shepherds and warriors. From that peninsula to Trebizond, the
eastern curve of the Euxine was secured by forts, by alliance, or by
religion; and the possession of _Lazica_, the Colchos of ancient, the
Mingrelia of modern, geography, soon became the object of an important
war. Trebizond, in after-times the seat of a romantic empire, was
indebted to the liberality of Justinian for a church, an aqueduct, and
a castle, whose ditches are hewn in the solid rock. From that maritime
city, frontier line of five hundred miles may be drawn to the fortress
of Circesium, the last Roman station on the Euphrates. Above Trebizond
immediately, and five days' journey to the south, the country rises into
dark forests and craggy mountains, as savage though not so lofty as the
Alps and the Pyrenees. In this rigorous climate, where the snows seldom
melt, the fruits are tardy and tasteless, even honey is poisonous: the
most industrious tillage would be confined to some pleasant valleys; and
the pastoral tribes obtained a scanty sustenance from the flesh and milk
of their cattle. The _Chalybians_ derived their name and temper from
the iron quality of the soil; and, since the days of Cyrus, they might
produce, under the various appellations of Chadæans and Zanians,
an uninterrupted prescription of war and rapine. Under the reign of
Justinian, they acknowledged the god and the emperor of the Romans, and
seven fortresses were built in the most accessible passages, to exclude
the ambition of the Persian monarch. The principal source of the
Euphrates descends from the Chalybian mountains, and seems to flow
towards the west and the Euxine: bending to the south-west, the river
passes under the walls of Satala and Melitene, (which were restored
by Justinian as the bulwarks of the Lesser Armenia,) and gradually
approaches the Mediterranean Sea; till at length, repelled by Mount
Taurus, the Euphrates inclines its long and flexible course to the
south-east and the Gulf of Persia. Among the Roman cities beyond the
Euphrates, we distinguish two recent foundations, which were named from
Theodosius, and the relics of the martyrs; and two capitals, Amida and
Edessa, which are celebrated in the history of every age. Their strength
was proportioned by Justinian to the danger of their situation. A ditch
and palisade might be sufficient to resist the artless force of the
cavalry of Scythia; but more elaborate works were required to sustain
a regular siege against the arms and treasures of the great king. His
skilful engineers understood the methods of conducting deep mines, and
of raising platforms to the level of the rampart: he shook the strongest
battlements with his military engines, and sometimes advanced to the
assault with a line of movable turrets on the backs of elephants. In
the great cities of the East, the disadvantage of space, perhaps of
position, was compensated by the zeal of the people, who seconded the
garrison in the defence of their country and religion; and the fabulous
promise of the Son of God, that Edessa should never be taken, filled the
citizens with valiant confidence, and chilled the besiegers with doubt
and dismay. The subordinate towns of Armenia and Mesopotamia were
diligently strengthened, and the posts which appeared to have
any command of ground or water were occupied by numerous forts,
substantially built of stone, or more hastily erected with the obvious
materials of earth and brick. The eye of Justinian investigated every
spot; and his cruel precautions might attract the war into some lonely
vale, whose peaceful natives, connected by trade and marriage, were
ignorant of national discord and the quarrels of princes. Westward of
the Euphrates, a sandy desert extends above six hundred miles to the Red
Sea. Nature had interposed a vacant solitude between the ambition of two
rival empires; the Arabians, till Mahomet arose, were formidable only as
robbers; and in the proud security of peace the fortifications of Syria
were neglected on the most vulnerable side.

But the national enmity, at least the effects of that enmity, had
been suspended by a truce, which continued above fourscore years. An
ambassador from the emperor Zeno accompanied the rash and unfortunate
Perozes, in his expedition against the Nepthalites, or white Huns,
whose conquests had been stretched from the Caspian to the heart of
India, whose throne was enriched with emeralds, and whose cavalry was
supported by a line of two thousand elephants. The Persians were
twice circumvented, in a situation which made valor useless and flight
impossible; and the double victory of the Huns was achieved by military
stratagem. They dismissed their royal captive after he had submitted to
adore the majesty of a Barbarian; and the humiliation was poorly evaded
by the casuistical subtlety of the Magi, who instructed Perozes to
direct his attention to the rising sun. The indignant successor of
Cyrus forgot his danger and his gratitude; he renewed the attack with
headstrong fury, and lost both his army and his life. The death of
Perozes abandoned Persia to her foreign and domestic enemies; and twelve
years of confusion elapsed before his son Cabades, or Kobad, could
embrace any designs of ambition or revenge. The unkind parsimony of
Anastasius was the motive or pretence of a Roman war; the Huns and Arabs
marched under the Persian standard, and the fortifications of Armenia
and Mesopotamia were, at that time, in a ruinous or imperfect
condition. The emperor returned his thanks to the governor and people
of Martyropolis for the prompt surrender of a city which could not be
successfully defended, and the conflagration of Theodosiopolis might
justify the conduct of their prudent neighbors. Amida sustained a long
and destructive siege: at the end of three months the loss of fifty
thousand of the soldiers of Cabades was not balanced by any prospect
of success, and it was in vain that the Magi deduced a flattering
prediction from the indecency of the women on the ramparts, who had
revealed their most secret charms to the eyes of the assailants. At
length, in a silent night, they ascended the most accessible tower,
which was guarded only by some monks, oppressed, after the duties of a
festival, with sleep and wine. Scaling-ladders were applied at the dawn
of day; the presence of Cabades, his stern command, and his drawn
sword, compelled the Persians to vanquish; and before it was sheathed,
fourscore thousand of the inhabitants had expiated the blood of their
companions. After the siege of Amida, the war continued three years, and
the unhappy frontier tasted the full measure of its calamities. The
gold of Anastasius was offered too late, the number of his troops was
defeated by the number of their generals; the country was stripped of
its inhabitants, and both the living and the dead were abandoned to the
wild beasts of the desert. The resistance of Edessa, and the deficiency
of spoil, inclined the mind of Cabades to peace: he sold his conquests
for an exorbitant price; and the same line, though marked with
slaughter and devastation, still separated the two empires. To avert the
repetition of the same evils, Anastasius resolved to found a new colony,
so strong, that it should defy the power of the Persian, so far advanced
towards Assyria, that its stationary troops might defend the province by
the menace or operation of offensive war. For this purpose, the town
of Dara, fourteen miles from Nisibis, and four days' journey from the
Tigris, was peopled and adorned; the hasty works of Anastasius were
improved by the perseverance of Justinian; and, without insisting on
places less important, the fortifications of Dara may represent the
military architecture of the age. The city was surrounded with two
walls, and the interval between them, of fifty paces, afforded a retreat
to the cattle of the besieged. The inner wall was a monument of strength
and beauty: it measured sixty feet from the ground, and the height of
the towers was one hundred feet; the loopholes, from whence an enemy
might be annoyed with missile weapons, were small, but numerous; the
soldiers were planted along the rampart, under the shelter of double
galleries, and a third platform, spacious and secure, was raised on the
summit of the towers. The exterior wall appears to have been less lofty,
but more solid; and each tower was protected by a quadrangular bulwark.
A hard, rocky soil resisted the tools of the miners, and on the
south-east, where the ground was more tractable, their approach was
retarded by a new work, which advanced in the shape of a half-moon. The
double and treble ditches were filled with a stream of water; and in the
management of the river, the most skilful labor was employed to supply
the inhabitants, to distress the besiegers, and to prevent the mischiefs
of a natural or artificial inundation. Dara continued more than sixty
years to fulfil the wishes of its founders, and to provoke the jealousy
of the Persians, who incessantly complained, that this impregnable
fortress had been constructed in manifest violation of the treaty of
peace between the two empires.

Between the Euxine and the Caspian, the countries of Colchos, Iberia,
and Albania, are intersected in every direction by the branches of Mount
Caucasus; and the two principal _gates_, or passes, from north to south,
have been frequently confounded in the geography both of the ancients
and moderns. The name of _Caspian_ or _Albanian_ gates is properly
applied to Derbend, which occupies a short declivity between the
mountains and the sea: the city, if we give credit to local tradition,
had been founded by the Greeks; and this dangerous entrance was
fortified by the kings of Persia with a mole, double walls, and doors of
iron. The _Iberian_ gates are formed by a narrow passage of six miles
in Mount Caucasus, which opens from the northern side of Iberia, or
Georgia, into the plain that reaches to the Tanais and the Volga. A
fortress, designed by Alexander perhaps, or one of his successors,
to command that important pass, had descended by right of conquest or
inheritance to a prince of the Huns, who offered it for a moderate
price to the emperor; but while Anastasius paused, while he timorously
computed the cost and the distance, a more vigilant rival interposed,
and Cabades forcibly occupied the Straits of Caucasus. The Albanian and
Iberian gates excluded the horsemen of Scythia from the shortest and
most practicable roads, and the whole front of the mountains was covered
by the rampart of Gog and Magog, the long wall which has excited the
curiosity of an Arabian caliph and a Russian conqueror. According to a
recent description, huge stones, seven feet thick, and twenty-one feet
in length or height, are artificially joined without iron or cement, to
compose a wall, which runs above three hundred miles from the shores
of Derbend, over the hills, and through the valleys of Daghestan and
Georgia. Without a vision, such a work might be undertaken by the policy
of Cabades; without a miracle, it might be accomplished by his son, so
formidable to the Romans, under the name of Chosroes; so dear to the
Orientals, under the appellation of Nushirwan. The Persian monarch held
in his hand the keys both of peace and war; but he stipulated, in every
treaty, that Justinian should contribute to the expense of a common
barrier, which equally protected the two empires from the inroads of the
Scythians.

VII. Justinian suppressed the schools of Athens and the consulship of
Rome, which had given so many sages and heroes to mankind. Both these
institutions had long since degenerated from their primitive glory; yet
some reproach may be justly inflicted on the avarice and jealousy of a
prince, by whose hand such venerable ruins were destroyed.

Athens, after her Persian triumphs, adopted the philosophy of Ionia
and the rhetoric of Sicily; and these studies became the patrimony of a
city, whose inhabitants, about thirty thousand males, condensed, within
the period of a single life, the genius of ages and millions. Our sense
of the dignity of human nature is exalted by the simple recollection,
that Isocrates was the companion of Plato and Xenophon; that he
assisted, perhaps with the historian Thucydides, at the first
representation of the dipus of Sophocles and the Iphigenia of Euripides;
and that his pupils Æschines and Demosthenes contended for the crown of
patriotism in the presence of Aristotle, the master of Theophrastus, who
taught at Athens with the founders of the Stoic and Epicurean sects.
The ingenuous youth of Attica enjoyed the benefits of their domestic
education, which was communicated without envy to the rival cities. Two
thousand disciples heard the lessons of Theophrastus; the schools of
rhetoric must have been still more populous than those of philosophy;
and a rapid succession of students diffused the fame of their teachers
as far as the utmost limits of the Grecian language and name. Those
limits were enlarged by the victories of Alexander; the arts of Athens
survived her freedom and dominion; and the Greek colonies which the
Macedonians planted in Egypt, and scattered over Asia, undertook long
and frequent pilgrimages to worship the Muses in their favorite temple
on the banks of the Ilissus. The Latin conquerors respectfully listened
to the instructions of their subjects and captives; the names of Cicero
and Horace were enrolled in the schools of Athens; and after the perfect
settlement of the Roman empire, the natives of Italy, of Africa, and
of Britain, conversed in the groves of the academy with their
fellow-students of the East. The studies of philosophy and eloquence are
congenial to a popular state, which encourages the freedom of inquiry,
and submits only to the force of persuasion. In the republics of Greece
and Rome, the art of speaking was the powerful engine of patriotism or
ambition; and the schools of rhetoric poured forth a colony of statesmen
and legislators. When the liberty of public debate was suppressed, the
orator, in the honorable profession of an advocate, might plead the
cause of innocence and justice; he might abuse his talents in the
more profitable trade of panegyric; and the same precepts continued
to dictate the fanciful declamations of the sophist, and the chaster
beauties of historical composition. The systems which professed to
unfold the nature of God, of man, and of the universe, entertained the
curiosity of the philosophic student; and according to the temper of
his mind, he might doubt with the Sceptics, or decide with the Stoics,
sublimely speculate with Plato, or severely argue with Aristotle. The
pride of the adverse sects had fixed an unattainable term of moral
happiness and perfection; but the race was glorious and salutary; the
disciples of Zeno, and even those of Epicurus, were taught both to act
and to suffer; and the death of Petronius was not less effectual than
that of Seneca, to humble a tyrant by the discovery of his impotence.
The light of science could not indeed be confined within the walls of
Athens. Her incomparable writers address themselves to the human race;
the living masters emigrated to Italy and Asia; Berytus, in later
times, was devoted to the study of the law; astronomy and physic
were cultivated in the musæum of Alexandria; but the Attic schools of
rhetoric and philosophy maintained their superior reputation from the
Peloponnesian war to the reign of Justinian. Athens, though situate in a
barren soil, possessed a pure air, a free navigation, and the monuments
of ancient art. That sacred retirement was seldom disturbed by the
business of trade or government; and the last of the Athenians were
distinguished by their lively wit, the purity of their taste and
language, their social manners, and some traces, at least in discourse,
of the magnanimity of their fathers. In the suburbs of the city, the
_academy_ of the Platonists, the _lycum_ of the Peripatetics, the
_portico_ of the Stoics, and the _garden_ of the Epicureans, were
planted with trees and decorated with statues; and the philosophers,
instead of being immured in a cloister, delivered their instructions in
spacious and pleasant walks, which, at different hours, were consecrated
to the exercises of the mind and body. The genius of the founders
still lived in those venerable seats; the ambition of succeeding to the
masters of human reason excited a generous emulation; and the merit of
the candidates was determined, on each vacancy, by the free voices of
an enlightened people. The Athenian professors were paid by their
disciples: according to their mutual wants and abilities, the price
appears to have varied; and Isocrates himself, who derides the avarice
of the sophists, required, in his school of rhetoric, about thirty
pounds from each of his hundred pupils. The wages of industry are just
and honorable, yet the same Isocrates shed tears at the first receipt
of a stipend: the Stoic might blush when he was hired to preach the
contempt of money; and I should be sorry to discover that Aristotle or
Plato so far degenerated from the example of Socrates, as to exchange
knowledge for gold. But some property of lands and houses was settled by
the permission of the laws, and the legacies of deceased friends, on the
philosophic chairs of Athens. Epicurus bequeathed to his disciples the
gardens which he had purchased for eighty minæ or two hundred and fifty
pounds, with a fund sufficient for their frugal subsistence and monthly
festivals; and the patrimony of Plato afforded an annual rent, which,
in eight centuries, was gradually increased from three to one thousand
pieces of gold. The schools of Athens were protected by the wisest and
most virtuous of the Roman princes. The library, which Hadrian founded,
was placed in a portico adorned with pictures, statues, and a roof of
alabaster, and supported by one hundred columns of Phrygian marble. The
public salaries were assigned by the generous spirit of the Antonines;
and each professor of politics, of rhetoric, of the Platonic, the
Peripatetic, the Stoic, and the Epicurean philosophy, received an annual
stipend of ten thousand drachmæ, or more than three hundred pounds
sterling. After the death of Marcus, these liberal donations, and the
privileges attached to the _thrones_ of science, were abolished and
revived, diminished and enlarged; but some vestige of royal bounty may
be found under the successors of Constantine; and their arbitrary choice
of an unworthy candidate might tempt the philosophers of Athens to
regret the days of independence and poverty. It is remarkable, that the
impartial favor of the Antonines was bestowed on the four adverse sects
of philosophy, which they considered as equally useful, or at least, as
equally innocent. Socrates had formerly been the glory and the
reproach of his country; and the first lessons of Epicurus so strangely
scandalized the pious ears of the Athenians, that by his exile, and
that of his antagonists, they silenced all vain disputes concerning
the nature of the gods. But in the ensuing year they recalled the hasty
decree, restored the liberty of the schools, and were convinced by the
experience of ages, that the moral character of philosophers is not
affected by the diversity of their theological speculations.

The Gothic arms were less fatal to the schools of Athens than the
establishment of a new religion, whose ministers superseded the exercise
of reason, resolved every question by an article of faith, and condemned
the infidel or sceptic to eternal flames. In many a volume of laborious
controversy, they exposed the weakness of the understanding and
the corruption of the heart, insulted human nature in the sages of
antiquity, and proscribed the spirit of philosophical inquiry, so
repugnant to the doctrine, or at least to the temper, of an humble
believer. The surviving sects of the Platonists, whom Plato would have
blushed to acknowledge, extravagantly mingled a sublime theory with the
practice of superstition and magic; and as they remained alone in the
midst of a Christian world, they indulged a secret rancor against the
government of the church and state, whose severity was still suspended
over their heads. About a century after the reign of Julian, Proclus was
permitted to teach in the philosophic chair of the academy; and such
was his industry, that he frequently, in the same day, pronounced five
lessons, and composed seven hundred lines. His sagacious mind explored
the deepest questions of morals and metaphysics, and he ventured to urge
eighteen arguments against the Christian doctrine of the creation of
the world. But in the intervals of study, he _personally_ conversed
with Pan, Æsculapius, and Minerva, in whose mysteries he was secretly
initiated, and whose prostrate statues he adored; in the devout
persuasion that the philosopher, who is a citizen of the universe,
should be the priest of its various deities. An eclipse of the sun
announced his approaching end; and his life, with that of his scholar
Isidore, compiled by two of their most learned disciples, exhibits a
deplorable picture of the second childhood of human reason. Yet the
golden chain, as it was fondly styled, of the Platonic succession,
continued forty-four years from the death of Proclus to the edict of
Justinian, which imposed a perpetual silence on the schools of Athens,
and excited the grief and indignation of the few remaining votaries
of Grecian science and superstition. Seven friends and philosophers,
Diogenes and Hermias, Eulalius and Priscian, Damascius, Isidore, and
Simplicius, who dissented from the religion of their sovereign, embraced
the resolution of seeking in a foreign land the freedom which was denied
in their native country. They had heard, and they credulously believed,
that the republic of Plato was realized in the despotic government
of Persia, and that a patriot king reigned ever the happiest and most
virtuous of nations. They were soon astonished by the natural discovery,
that Persia resembled the other countries of the globe; that Chosroes,
who affected the name of a philosopher, was vain, cruel, and ambitious;
that bigotry, and a spirit of intolerance, prevailed among the Magi;
that the nobles were haughty, the courtiers servile, and the magistrates
unjust; that the guilty sometimes escaped, and that the innocent were
often oppressed. The disappointment of the philosophers provoked them
to overlook the real virtues of the Persians; and they were scandalized,
more deeply perhaps than became their profession, with the plurality
of wives and concubines, the incestuous marriages, and the custom of
exposing dead bodies to the dogs and vultures, instead of hiding them in
the earth, or consuming them with fire. Their repentance was expressed
by a precipitate return, and they loudly declared that they had rather
die on the borders of the empire, than enjoy the wealth and favor of
the Barbarian. From this journey, however, they derived a benefit which
reflects the purest lustre on the character of Chosroes. He required,
that the seven sages who had visited the court of Persia should be
exempted from the penal laws which Justinian enacted against his Pagan
subjects; and this privilege, expressly stipulated in a treaty of peace,
was guarded by the vigilance of a powerful mediator. Simplicius and his
companions ended their lives in peace and obscurity; and as they left no
disciples, they terminate the long list of Grecian philosophers, who may
be justly praised, notwithstanding their defects, as the wisest and most
virtuous of their contemporaries. The writings of Simplicius are now
extant. His physical and metaphysical commentaries on Aristotle have
passed away with the fashion of the times; but his moral interpretation
of Epictetus is preserved in the library of nations, as a classic book,
most excellently adapted to direct the will, to purify the heart, and
to confirm the understanding, by a just confidence in the nature both of
God and man.

About the same time that Pythagoras first invented the appellation of
philosopher, liberty and the consulship were founded at Rome by the
elder Brutus. The revolutions of the consular office, which may be
viewed in the successive lights of a substance, a shadow, and a name,
have been occasionally mentioned in the present History. The first
magistrates of the republic had been chosen by the people, to exercise,
in the senate and in the camp, the powers of peace and war, which were
afterwards translated to the emperors. But the tradition of ancient
dignity was long revered by the Romans and Barbarians. A Gothic
historian applauds the consulship of Theodoric as the height of all
temporal glory and greatness; the king of Italy himself congratulated
those annual favorites of fortune who, without the cares, enjoyed the
splendor of the throne; and at the end of a thousand years, two consuls
were created by the sovereigns of Rome and Constantinople, for the sole
purpose of giving a date to the year, and a festival to the people. But
the expenses of this festival, in which the wealthy and the vain aspired
to surpass their predecessors, insensibly arose to the enormous sum of
fourscore thousand pounds; the wisest senators declined a useless
honor, which involved the certain ruin of their families, and to this
reluctance I should impute the frequent chasms in the last age of the
consular Fasti. The predecessors of Justinian had assisted from the
public treasures the dignity of the less opulent candidates; the avarice
of that prince preferred the cheaper and more convenient method of
advice and regulation. Seven _processions_ or spectacles were the number
to which his edict confined the horse and chariot races, the athletic
sports, the music, and pantomimes of the theatre, and the hunting of
wild beasts; and small pieces of silver were discreetly substituted to
the gold medals, which had always excited tumult and drunkenness,
when they were scattered with a profuse hand among the populace.
Notwithstanding these precautions, and his own example, the succession
of consuls finally ceased in the thirteenth year of Justinian, whose
despotic temper might be gratified by the silent extinction of a title
which admonished the Romans of their ancient freedom. Yet the annual
consulship still lived in the minds of the people; they fondly expected
its speedy restoration; they applauded the gracious condescension of
successive princes, by whom it was assumed in the first year of their
reign; and three centuries elapsed, after the death of Justinian, before
that obsolete dignity, which had been suppressed by custom, could be
abolished by law. The imperfect mode of distinguishing each year by the
name of a magistrate, was usefully supplied by the date of a permanent
æra: the creation of the world, according to the Septuagint version,
was adopted by the Greeks; and the Latins, since the age of Charlemagne,
have computed their time from the birth of Christ.



Chapter XLI: Conquests Of Justinian, Character Of Balisarius.--Part I.

     Conquests Of Justinian In The West.--Character And First
     Campaigns Of Belisarius--He Invades And Subdues The Vandal
     Kingdom Of Africa--His Triumph.--The Gothic War.--He
     Recovers Sicily, Naples, And Rome.--Siege Of Rome By The
     Goths.--Their Retreat And Losses.--Surrender Of Ravenna.--
     Glory Of Belisarius.--His Domestic Shame And Misfortunes.

When Justinian ascended the throne, about fifty years after the fall of
the Western empire, the kingdoms of the Goths and Vandals had obtained
a solid, and, as it might seem, a legal establishment both in Europe and
Africa. The titles, which Roman victory had inscribed, were erased
with equal justice by the sword of the Barbarians; and their successful
rapine derived a more venerable sanction from time, from treaties,
and from the oaths of fidelity, already repeated by a second or third
generation of obedient subjects. Experience and Christianity had refuted
the superstitious hope, that Rome was founded by the gods to reign
forever over the nations of the earth. But the proud claim of perpetual
and indefeasible dominion, which her soldiers could no longer maintain,
was firmly asserted by her statesmen and lawyers, whose opinions
have been sometimes revived and propagated in the modern schools of
jurisprudence. After Rome herself had been stripped of the Imperial
purple, the princes of Constantinople assumed the sole and sacred
sceptre of the monarchy; demanded, as their rightful inheritance, the
provinces which had been subdued by the consuls, or possessed by the
Cæsars; and feebly aspired to deliver their faithful subjects of the
West from the usurpation of heretics and Barbarians. The execution of
this splendid design was in some degree reserved for Justinian. During
the five first years of his reign, he reluctantly waged a costly and
unprofitable war against the Persians; till his pride submitted to
his ambition, and he purchased at the price of four hundred and forty
thousand pounds sterling, the benefit of a precarious truce, which, in
the language of both nations, was dignified with the appellation of the
_endless_ peace. The safety of the East enabled the emperor to employ
his forces against the Vandals; and the internal state of Africa
afforded an honorable motive, and promised a powerful support, to the
Roman arms.

According to the testament of the founder, the African kingdom had
lineally descended to Hilderic, the eldest of the Vandal princes. A mild
disposition inclined the son of a tyrant, the grandson of a conqueror,
to prefer the counsels of clemency and peace; and his accession was
marked by the salutary edict, which restored two hundred bishops to
their churches, and allowed the free profession of the Athanasian creed.
But the Catholics accepted, with cold and transient gratitude, a favor
so inadequate to their pretensions, and the virtues of Hilderic offended
the prejudices of his countrymen. The Arian clergy presumed to insinuate
that he had renounced the faith, and the soldiers more loudly complained
that he had degenerated from the courage, of his ancestors. His
ambassadors were suspected of a secret and disgraceful negotiation in
the Byzantine court; and his general, the Achilles, as he was named, of
the Vandals, lost a battle against the naked and disorderly Moors. The
public discontent was exasperated by Gelimer, whose age, descent, and
military fame, gave him an apparent title to the succession: he assumed,
with the consent of the nation, the reins of government; and his
unfortunate sovereign sunk without a struggle from the throne to a
dungeon, where he was strictly guarded with a faithful counsellor, and
his unpopular nephew the Achilles of the Vandals. But the indulgence
which Hilderic had shown to his Catholic subjects had powerfully
recommended him to the favor of Justinian, who, for the benefit of his
own sect, could acknowledge the use and justice of religious toleration:
their alliance, while the nephew of Justin remained in a private
station, was cemented by the mutual exchange of gifts and letters; and
the emperor Justinian asserted the cause of royalty and friendship. In
two successive embassies, he admonished the usurper to repent of his
treason, or to abstain, at least, from any further violence which might
provoke the displeasure of God and of the Romans; to reverence the laws
of kindred and succession, and to suffer an infirm old man peaceably
to end his days, either on the throne of Carthage or in the palace of
Constantinople. The passions, or even the prudence, of Gelimer compelled
him to reject these requests, which were urged in the haughty tone of
menace and command; and he justified his ambition in a language rarely
spoken in the Byzantine court, by alleging the right of a free people to
remove or punish their chief magistrate, who had failed in the execution
of the kingly office. After this fruitless expostulation, the captive
monarch was more rigorously treated, his nephew was deprived of his
eyes, and the cruel Vandal, confident in his strength and distance,
derided the vain threats and slow preparations of the emperor of the
East. Justinian resolved to deliver or revenge his friend, Gelimer to
maintain his usurpation; and the war was preceded, according to the
practice of civilized nations, by the most solemn protestations, that
each party was sincerely desirous of peace.

The report of an African war was grateful only to the vain and idle
populace of Constantinople, whose poverty exempted them from tribute,
and whose cowardice was seldom exposed to military service. But the
wiser citizens, who judged of the future by the past, revolved in their
memory the immense loss, both of men and money, which the empire had
sustained in the expedition of Basiliscus. The troops, which, after
five laborious campaigns, had been recalled from the Persian frontier,
dreaded the sea, the climate, and the arms of an unknown enemy. The
ministers of the finances computed, as far as they might compute, the
demands of an African war; the taxes which must be found and levied to
supply those insatiate demands; and the danger, lest their own lives, or
at least their lucrative employments, should be made responsible for the
deficiency of the supply. Inspired by such selfish motives, (for we may
not suspect him of any zeal for the public good,) John of Cappadocia
ventured to oppose in full council the inclinations of his master. He
confessed, that a victory of such importance could not be too dearly
purchased; but he represented in a grave discourse the certain
difficulties and the uncertain event. "You undertake," said the præfect,
"to besiege Carthage: by land, the distance is not less than one hundred
and forty days' journey; on the sea, a whole year must elapse before
you can receive any intelligence from your fleet. If Africa should
be reduced, it cannot be preserved without the additional conquest of
Sicily and Italy. Success will impose the obligations of new labors;
a single misfortune will attract the Barbarians into the heart of your
exhausted empire." Justinian felt the weight of this salutary advice; he
was confounded by the unwonted freedom of an obsequious servant; and the
design of the war would perhaps have been relinquished, if his courage
had not been revived by a voice which silenced the doubts of profane
reason. "I have seen a vision," cried an artful or fanatic bishop of the
East. "It is the will of Heaven, O emperor! that you should not abandon
your holy enterprise for the deliverance of the African church. The God
of battles will march before your standard, and disperse your enemies,
who are the enemies of his Son." The emperor, might be tempted, and
his counsellors were constrained, to give credit to this seasonable
revelation: but they derived more rational hope from the revolt, which
the adherents of Hilderic or Athanasius had already excited on the
borders of the Vandal monarchy. Pudentius, an African subject, had
privately signified his loyal intentions, and a small military aid
restored the province of Tripoli to the obedience of the Romans. The
government of Sardinia had been intrusted to Godas, a valiant Barbarian
he suspended the payment of tribute, disclaimed his allegiance to the
usurper, and gave audience to the emissaries of Justinian, who found him
master of that fruitful island, at the head of his guards, and proudly
invested with the ensigns of royalty. The forces of the Vandals were
diminished by discord and suspicion; the Roman armies were animated by
the spirit of Belisarius; one of those heroic names which are familiar
to every age and to every nation.

The Africanus of new Rome was born, and perhaps educated, among the
Thracian peasants, without any of those advantages which had formed
the virtues of the elder and younger Scipio; a noble origin, liberal
studies, and the emulation of a free state. The silence of a loquacious
secretary may be admitted, to prove that the youth of Belisarius could
not afford any subject of praise: he served, most assuredly with valor
and reputation, among the private guards of Justinian; and when his
patron became emperor, the domestic was promoted to military command.
After a bold inroad into Persarmenia, in which his glory was shared by a
colleague, and his progress was checked by an enemy, Belisarius repaired
to the important station of Dara, where he first accepted the service
of Procopius, the faithful companion, and diligent historian, of his
exploits. The Mirranes of Persia advanced, with forty thousand of her
best troops, to raze the fortifications of Dara; and signified the
day and the hour on which the citizens should prepare a bath for his
refreshment, after the toils of victory. He encountered an adversary
equal to himself, by the new title of General of the East; his superior
in the science of war, but much inferior in the number and quality
of his troops, which amounted only to twenty-five thousand Romans and
strangers, relaxed in their discipline, and humbled by recent disasters.
As the level plain of Dara refused all shelter to stratagem and ambush,
Belisarius protected his front with a deep trench, which was prolonged
at first in perpendicular, and afterwards in parallel, lines, to cover
the wings of cavalry advantageously posted to command the flanks and
rear of the enemy. When the Roman centre was shaken, their well-timed
and rapid charge decided the conflict: the standard of Persia fell;
the _immortals_ fled; the infantry threw away their bucklers, and eight
thousand of the vanquished were left on the field of battle. In the next
campaign, Syria was invaded on the side of the desert; and Belisarius,
with twenty thousand men, hastened from Dara to the relief of the
province. During the whole summer, the designs of the enemy were baffled
by his skilful dispositions: he pressed their retreat, occupied
each night their camp of the preceding day, and would have secured a
bloodless victory, if he could have resisted the impatience of his
own troops. Their valiant promise was faintly supported in the hour
of battle; the right wing was exposed by the treacherous or cowardly
desertion of the Christian Arabs; the Huns, a veteran band of eight
hundred warriors, were oppressed by superior numbers; the flight of
the Isaurians was intercepted; but the Roman infantry stood firm on the
left; for Belisarius himself, dismounting from his horse, showed them
that intrepid despair was their only safety. They turned their backs
to the Euphrates, and their faces to the enemy: innumerable arrows
glanced without effect from the compact and shelving order of their
bucklers; an impenetrable line of pikes was opposed to the repeated
assaults of the Persian cavalry; and after a resistance of many hours,
the remaining troops were skilfully embarked under the shadow of the
night. The Persian commander retired with disorder and disgrace, to
answer a strict account of the lives of so many soldiers, which he had
consumed in a barren victory. But the fame of Belisarius was not sullied
by a defeat, in which he alone had saved his army from the consequences
of their own rashness: the approach of peace relieved him from the
guard of the eastern frontier, and his conduct in the sedition of
Constantinople amply discharged his obligations to the emperor. When
the African war became the topic of popular discourse and secret
deliberation, each of the Roman generals was apprehensive, rather than
ambitious, of the dangerous honor; but as soon as Justinian had declared
his preference of superior merit, their envy was rekindled by the
unanimous applause which was given to the choice of Belisarius. The
temper of the Byzantine court may encourage a suspicion, that the hero
was darkly assisted by the intrigues of his wife, the fair and subtle
Antonina, who alternately enjoyed the confidence, and incurred the
hatred, of the empress Theodora. The birth of Antonina was ignoble;
she descended from a family of charioteers; and her chastity has
been stained with the foulest reproach. Yet she reigned with long and
absolute power over the mind of her illustrious husband; and if
Antonina disdained the merit of conjugal fidelity, she expressed a manly
friendship to Belisarius, whom she accompanied with undaunted resolution
in all the hardships and dangers of a military life.

The preparations for the African war were not unworthy of the last
contest between Rome and Carthage. The pride and flower of the army
consisted of the guards of Belisarius, who, according to the pernicious
indulgence of the times, devoted themselves, by a particular oath of
fidelity, to the service of their patrons. Their strength and stature,
for which they had been curiously selected, the goodness of their horses
and armor, and the assiduous practice of all the exercises of war,
enabled them to act whatever their courage might prompt; and their
courage was exalted by the social honor of their rank, and the personal
ambition of favor and fortune. Four hundred of the bravest of the
Heruli marched under the banner of the faithful and active Pharas; their
untractable valor was more highly prized than the tame submission of the
Greeks and Syrians; and of such importance was it deemed to procure a
reënforcement of six hundred Massagetæ, or Huns, that they were allured
by fraud and deceit to engage in a naval expedition. Five thousand horse
and ten thousand foot were embarked at Constantinople, for the conquest
of Africa; but the infantry, for the most part levied in Thrace and
Isauria, yielded to the more prevailing use and reputation of the
cavalry; and the Scythian bow was the weapon on which the armies of Rome
were now reduced to place their principal dependence. From a laudable
desire to assert the dignity of his theme, Procopius defends the
soldiers of his own time against the morose critics, who confined
that respectable name to the heavy-armed warriors of antiquity, and
maliciously observed, that the word archer is introduced by Homer as
a term of contempt. "Such contempt might perhaps be due to the naked
youths who appeared on foot in the fields of Troy, and lurking behind
a tombstone, or the shield of a friend, drew the bow-string to their
breast, and dismissed a feeble and lifeless arrow. But our archers
(pursues the historian) are mounted on horses, which they manage with
admirable skill; their head and shoulders are protected by a casque or
buckler; they wear greaves of iron on their legs, and their bodies are
guarded by a coat of mail. On their right side hangs a quiver, a sword
on their left, and their hand is accustomed to wield a lance or javelin
in closer combat. Their bows are strong and weighty; they shoot in every
possible direction, advancing, retreating, to the front, to the rear,
or to either flank; and as they are taught to draw the bow-string not to
the breast, but to the right ear, firm indeed must be the armor that
can resist the rapid violence of their shaft." Five hundred transports,
navigated by twenty thousand mariners of Egypt, Cilicia, and Ionia, were
collected in the harbor of Constantinople. The smallest of these vessels
may be computed at thirty, the largest at five hundred, tons; and the
fair average will supply an allowance, liberal, but not profuse, of
about one hundred thousand tons, for the reception of thirty-five
thousand soldiers and sailors, of five thousand horses, of arms,
engines, and military stores, and of a sufficient stock of water and
provisions for a voyage, perhaps, of three months. The proud galleys,
which in former ages swept the Mediterranean with so many hundred oars,
had long since disappeared; and the fleet of Justinian was escorted only
by ninety-two light brigantines, covered from the missile weapons of
the enemy, and rowed by two thousand of the brave and robust youth
of Constantinople. Twenty-two generals are named, most of whom were
afterwards distinguished in the wars of Africa and Italy: but the
supreme command, both by land and sea, was delegated to Belisarius
alone, with a boundless power of acting according to his discretion,
as if the emperor himself were present. The separation of the naval and
military professions is at once the effect and the cause of the modern
improvements in the science of navigation and maritime war.

In the seventh year of the reign of Justinian, and about the time of
the summer solstice, the whole fleet of six hundred ships was ranged in
martial pomp before the gardens of the palace. The patriarch pronounced
his benediction, the emperor signified his last commands, the general's
trumpet gave the signal of departure, and every heart, according to
its fears or wishes, explored, with anxious curiosity, the omens
of misfortune and success. The first halt was made at Perinthus or
Heraclea, where Belisarius waited five days to receive some Thracian
horses, a military gift of his sovereign. From thence the fleet pursued
their course through the midst of the Propontis; but as they struggled
to pass the Straits of the Hellespont, an unfavorable wind detained them
four days at Abydus, where the general exhibited a memorable lesson of
firmness and severity. Two of the Huns, who in a drunken quarrel had
slain one of their fellow-soldiers, were instantly shown to the army
suspended on a lofty gibbet. The national dignity was resented by their
countrymen, who disclaimed the servile laws of the empire, and asserted
the free privilege of Scythia, where a small fine was allowed to expiate
the hasty sallies of intemperance and anger. Their complaints were
specious, their clamors were loud, and the Romans were not averse to the
example of disorder and impunity. But the rising sedition was appeased
by the authority and eloquence of the general: and he represented to
the assembled troops the obligation of justice, the importance of
discipline, the rewards of piety and virtue, and the unpardonable
guilt of murder, which, in his apprehension, was aggravated rather
than excused by the vice of intoxication. In the navigation from the
Hellespont to Peloponnesus, which the Greeks, after the siege of Troy,
had performed in four days, the fleet of Belisarius was guided in their
course by his master-galley, conspicuous in the day by the redness of
the sails, and in the night by the torches blazing from the mast head.
It was the duty of the pilots, as they steered between the islands, and
turned the Capes of Malea and Tænarium, to preserve the just order and
regular intervals of such a multitude of ships: as the wind was fair and
moderate, their labors were not unsuccessful, and the troops were safely
disembarked at Methone on the Messenian coast, to repose themselves for
a while after the fatigues of the sea. In this place they experienced
how avarice, invested with authority, may sport with the lives of
thousands which are bravely exposed for the public service. According to
military practice, the bread or biscuit of the Romans was twice prepared
in the oven, and the diminution of one fourth was cheerfully allowed
for the loss of weight. To gain this miserable profit, and to save the
expense of wood, the præfect John of Cappadocia had given orders that
the flour should be slightly baked by the same fire which warmed the
baths of Constantinople; and when the sacks were opened, a soft and
mouldy paste was distributed to the army. Such unwholesome food,
assisted by the heat of the climate and season, soon produced an
epidemical disease, which swept away five hundred soldiers. Their health
was restored by the diligence of Belisarius, who provided fresh bread
at Methone, and boldly expressed his just and humane indignation the
emperor heard his complaint; the general was praised but the minister
was not punished. From the port of Methone, the pilots steered along
the western coast of Peloponnesus, as far as the Isle of Zacynthus, or
Zante, before they undertook the voyage (in their eyes a most arduous
voyage) of one hundred leagues over the Ionian Sea. As the fleet was
surprised by a calm, sixteen days were consumed in the slow navigation;
and even the general would have suffered the intolerable hardship of
thirst, if the ingenuity of Antonina had not preserved the water in
glass bottles, which she buried deep in the sand in a part of the ship
impervious to the rays of the sun. At length the harbor of Caucana, on
the southern side of Sicily, afforded a secure and hospitable shelter.
The Gothic officers who governed the island in the name of the daughter
and grandson of Theodoric, obeyed their imprudent orders, to receive the
troops of Justinian like friends and allies: provisions were liberally
supplied, the cavalry was remounted, and Procopius soon returned from
Syracuse with correct information of the state and designs of
the Vandals. His intelligence determined Belisarius to hasten his
operations, and his wise impatience was seconded by the winds. The fleet
lost sight of Sicily, passed before the Isle of Malta, discovered
the capes of Africa, ran along the coast with a strong gale from the
north-east, and finally cast anchor at the promontory of Caput Vada,
about five days' journey to the south of Carthage.

If Gelimer had been informed of the approach of the enemy, he must have
delayed the conquest of Sardinia for the immediate defence of his person
and kingdom. A detachment of five thousand soldiers, and one hundred and
twenty galleys, would have joined the remaining forces of the Vandals;
and the descendant of Genseric might have surprised and oppressed
a fleet of deep laden transports, incapable of action, and of light
brigantines that seemed only qualified for flight. Belisarius had
secretly trembled when he overheard his soldiers, in the passage,
emboldening each other to confess their apprehensions: if they were once
on shore, they hoped to maintain the honor of their arms; but if they
should be attacked at sea, they did not blush to acknowledge that they
wanted courage to contend at the same time with the winds, the waves,
and the Barbarians. The knowledge of their sentiments decided Belisarius
to seize the first opportunity of landing them on the coast of Africa;
and he prudently rejected, in a council of war, the proposal of sailing
with the fleet and army into the port of Carthage. Three months after
their departure from Constantinople, the men and horses, the arms and
military stores, were safely disembarked, and five soldiers were left as
a guard on board each of the ships, which were disposed in the form of
a semicircle. The remainder of the troops occupied a camp on the
sea-shore, which they fortified, according to ancient discipline, with
a ditch and rampart; and the discovery of a source of fresh water, while
it allayed the thirst, excited the superstitious confidence, of the
Romans. The next morning, some of the neighboring gardens were pillaged;
and Belisarius, after chastising the offenders, embraced the slight
occasion, but the decisive moment, of inculcating the maxims of justice,
moderation, and genuine policy. "When I first accepted the commission
of subduing Africa, I depended much less," said the general, "on
the numbers, or even the bravery of my troops, than on the friendly
disposition of the natives, and their immortal hatred to the Vandals.
You alone can deprive me of this hope; if you continue to extort by
rapine what might be purchased for a little money, such acts of violence
will reconcile these implacable enemies, and unite them in a just and
holy league against the invaders of their country." These exhortations
were enforced by a rigid discipline, of which the soldiers themselves
soon felt and praised the salutary effects. The inhabitants, instead of
deserting their houses, or hiding their corn, supplied the Romans with a
fair and liberal market: the civil officers of the province continued to
exercise their functions in the name of Justinian: and the clergy, from
motives of conscience and interest, assiduously labored to promote
the cause of a Catholic emperor. The small town of Sullecte, one day's
journey from the camp, had the honor of being foremost to open her
gates, and to resume her ancient allegiance: the larger cities of Leptis
and Adrumetum imitated the example of loyalty as soon as Belisarius
appeared; and he advanced without opposition as far as Grasse, a palace
of the Vandal kings, at the distance of fifty miles from Carthage. The
weary Romans indulged themselves in the refreshment of shady groves,
cool fountains, and delicious fruits; and the preference which Procopius
allows to these gardens over any that he had seen, either in the East
or West, may be ascribed either to the taste, or the fatigue, or the
historian. In three generations, prosperity and a warm climate had
dissolved the hardy virtue of the Vandals, who insensibly became the
most luxurious of mankind. In their villas and gardens, which might
deserve the Persian name of _Paradise_, they enjoyed a cool and elegant
repose; and, after the daily use of the bath, the Barbarians were seated
at a table profusely spread with the delicacies of the land and sea.
Their silken robes loosely flowing, after the fashion of the Medes, were
embroidered with gold; love and hunting were the labors of their life,
and their vacant hours were amused by pantomimes, chariot-races, and the
music and dances of the theatre.

In a march of ten or twelve days, the vigilance of Belisarius was
constantly awake and active against his unseen enemies, by whom, in
every place, and at every hour, he might be suddenly attacked. An
officer of confidence and merit, John the Armenian, led the vanguard of
three hundred horse; six hundred Massagetæ covered at a certain distance
the left flank; and the whole fleet, steering along the coast, seldom
lost sight of the army, which moved each day about twelve miles, and
lodged in the evening in strong camps, or in friendly towns. The near
approach of the Romans to Carthage filled the mind of Gelimer with
anxiety and terror. He prudently wished to protract the war till his
brother, with his veteran troops, should return from the conquest of
Sardinia; and he now lamented the rash policy of his ancestors, who, by
destroying the fortifications of Africa, had left him only the dangerous
resource of risking a battle in the neighborhood of his capital. The
Vandal conquerors, from their original number of fifty thousand, were
multiplied, without including their women and children, to one hundred
and sixty thousand fighting men: and such forces, animated with valor
and union, might have crushed, at their first landing, the feeble and
exhausted bands of the Roman general. But the friends of the captive
king were more inclined to accept the invitations, than to resist
the progress, of Belisarius; and many a proud Barbarian disguised
his aversion to war under the more specious name of his hatred to
the usurper. Yet the authority and promises of Gelimer collected a
formidable army, and his plans were concerted with some degree of
military skill. An order was despatched to his brother Ammatas, to
collect all the forces of Carthage, and to encounter the van of the
Roman army at the distance of ten miles from the city: his nephew
Gibamund, with two thousand horse, was destined to attack their left,
when the monarch himself, who silently followed, should charge their
rear, in a situation which excluded them from the aid or even the view
of their fleet. But the rashness of Ammatas was fatal to himself and his
country. He anticipated the hour of the attack, outstripped his tardy
followers, and was pierced with a mortal wound, after he had slain with
his own hand twelve of his boldest antagonists. His Vandals fled to
Carthage; the highway, almost ten miles, was strewed with dead bodies;
and it seemed incredible that such multitudes could be slaughtered by
the swords of three hundred Romans. The nephew of Gelimer was defeated,
after a slight combat, by the six hundred Massagetæ: they did not
equal the third part of his numbers; but each Scythian was fired by
the example of his chief, who gloriously exercised the privilege of his
family, by riding, foremost and alone, to shoot the first arrow against
the enemy. In the mean while, Gelimer himself, ignorant of the event,
and misguided by the windings of the hills, inadvertently passed the
Roman army, and reached the scene of action where Ammatas had fallen. He
wept the fate of his brother and of Carthage, charged with irresistible
fury the advancing squadrons, and might have pursued, and perhaps
decided, the victory, if he had not wasted those inestimable moments
in the discharge of a vain, though pious, duty to the dead. While his
spirit was broken by this mournful office, he heard the trumpet of
Belisarius, who, leaving Antonina and his infantry in the camp, pressed
forwards with his guards and the remainder of the cavalry to rally his
flying troops, and to restore the fortune of the day. Much room could
not be found, in this disorderly battle, for the talents of a general;
but the king fled before the hero; and the Vandals, accustomed only to a
Moorish enemy, were incapable of withstanding the arms and discipline
of the Romans. Gelimer retired with hasty steps towards the desert of
Numidia: but he had soon the consolation of learning that his private
orders for the execution of Hilderic and his captive friends had been
faithfully obeyed. The tyrant's revenge was useful only to his enemies.
The death of a lawful prince excited the compassion of his people; his
life might have perplexed the victorious Romans; and the lieutenant of
Justinian, by a crime of which he was innocent, was relieved from
the painful alternative of forfeiting his honor or relinquishing his
conquests.



Chapter XLI: Conquests Of Justinian, Character Of Balisarius.--Part II.

As soon as the tumult had subsided, the several parts of the army
informed each other of the accidents of the day; and Belisarius pitched
his camp on the field of victory, to which the tenth mile-stone from
Carthage had applied the Latin appellation of _Decimus_. From a wise
suspicion of the stratagems and resources of the Vandals, he marched the
next day in order of battle, halted in the evening before the gates of
Carthage, and allowed a night of repose, that he might not, in darkness
and disorder, expose the city to the license of the soldiers, or the
soldiers themselves to the secret ambush of the city. But as the fears
of Belisarius were the result of calm and intrepid reason, he was soon
satisfied that he might confide, without danger, in the peaceful
and friendly aspect of the capital. Carthage blazed with innumerable
torches, the signals of the public joy; the chain was removed that
guarded the entrance of the port; the gates were thrown open, and the
people, with acclamations of gratitude, hailed and invited their Roman
deliverers. The defeat of the Vandals, and the freedom of Africa, were
announced to the city on the eve of St. Cyprian, when the churches were
already adorned and illuminated for the festival of the martyr whom
three centuries of superstition had almost raised to a local deity. The
Arians, conscious that their reign had expired, resigned the temple to
the Catholics, who rescued their saint from profane hands, performed the
holy rites, and loudly proclaimed the creed of Athanasius and Justinian.
One awful hour reversed the fortunes of the contending parties. The
suppliant Vandals, who had so lately indulged the vices of conquerors,
sought an humble refuge in the sanctuary of the church; while the
merchants of the East were delivered from the deepest dungeon of the
palace by their affrighted keeper, who implored the protection of his
captives, and showed them, through an aperture in the wall, the sails
of the Roman fleet. After their separation from the army, the naval
commanders had proceeded with slow caution along the coast till they
reached the Hermæan promontory, and obtained the first intelligence of
the victory of Belisarius. Faithful to his instructions, they would have
cast anchor about twenty miles from Carthage, if the more skilful
seamen had not represented the perils of the shore, and the signs of
an impending tempest. Still ignorant of the revolution, they declined,
however, the rash attempt of forcing the chain of the port; and the
adjacent harbor and suburb of Mandracium were insulted only by the
rapine of a private officer, who disobeyed and deserted his leaders.
But the Imperial fleet, advancing with a fair wind, steered through the
narrow entrance of the Goletta, and occupied, in the deep and capacious
lake of Tunis, a secure station about five miles from the capital. No
sooner was Belisarius informed of their arrival, than he despatched
orders that the greatest part of the mariners should be immediately
landed to join the triumph, and to swell the apparent numbers, of
the Romans. Before he allowed them to enter the gates of Carthage, he
exhorted them, in a discourse worthy of himself and the occasion, not to
disgrace the glory of their arms; and to remember that the Vandals had
been the tyrants, but that they were the deliverers, of the Africans,
who must now be respected as the voluntary and affectionate subjects of
their common sovereign. The Romans marched through the streets in close
ranks prepared for battle if an enemy had appeared: the strict
order maintained by the general imprinted on their minds the duty of
obedience; and in an age in which custom and impunity almost sanctified
the abuse of conquest, the genius of one man repressed the passions of a
victorious army. The voice of menace and complaint was silent; the trade
of Carthage was not interrupted; while Africa changed her master and her
government, the shops continued open and busy; and the soldiers, after
sufficient guards had been posted, modestly departed to the houses which
were allotted for their reception. Belisarius fixed his residence in
the palace; seated himself on the throne of Genseric; accepted and
distributed the Barbaric spoil; granted their lives to the suppliant
Vandals; and labored to repair the damage which the suburb of Mandracium
had sustained in the preceding night. At supper he entertained his
principal officers with the form and magnificence of a royal banquet.
The victor was respectfully served by the captive officers of the
household; and in the moments of festivity, when the impartial
spectators applauded the fortune and merit of Belisarius, his envious
flatterers secretly shed their venom on every word and gesture which
might alarm the suspicions of a jealous monarch. One day was given to
these pompous scenes, which may not be despised as useless, if they
attracted the popular veneration; but the active mind of Belisarius,
which in the pride of victory could suppose a defeat, had already
resolved that the Roman empire in Africa should not depend on the chance
of arms, or the favor of the people. The fortifications of Carthage
had alone been exempted from the general proscription; but in the reign
of ninety-five years they were suffered to decay by the thoughtless and
indolent Vandals. A wiser conqueror restored, with incredible despatch,
the walls and ditches of the city. His liberality encouraged the
workmen; the soldiers, the mariners, and the citizens, vied with each
other in the salutary labor; and Gelimer, who had feared to trust his
person in an open town, beheld with astonishment and despair, the rising
strength of an impregnable fortress.

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 Cagliari, 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 Massagetæ, who secretly
reserved their aid for the conquerors. The historian has inserted, and
the reader may easily supply, the speeches 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.
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
Africa.

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. Cæsarea, 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, 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. 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
immunities, 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; and the synod of
Carthage, by the voice of two hundred and seventeen bishops, 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, Cæsarea, 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
Prætorian præfect; 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 præfect
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 Prætorian præfect 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.

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, 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, 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, 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.

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 Cæsars. 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, 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.



Chapter XLI: Conquests Of Justinian, Character Of Balisarius.--Part III.

But the purest reward of Belisarius was in the faithful execution of a
treaty for which his honor had been pledged to the king of the Vandals.
The religious scruples of Gelimer, who adhered to the Arian heresy, were
incompatible with the dignity of senator or patrician: but he received
from the emperor an ample estate in the province of Galatia, where the
abdicated monarch retired, with his family and friends, to a life of
peace, of affluence, and perhaps of content. The daughters of Hilderic
were entertained with the respectful tenderness due to their age and
misfortune; and Justinian and Theodora accepted the honor of educating
and enriching the female descendants of the great Theodosius. The
bravest of the Vandal youth were distributed into five squadrons of
cavalry, which adopted the name of their benefactor, and supported
in the Persian wars the glory of their ancestors. But these rare
exceptions, the reward of birth or valor, are insufficient to explain
the fate of a nation, whose numbers before a short and bloodless war,
amounted to more than six hundred thousand persons. After the exile of
their king and nobles, the servile crowd might purchase their safety by
abjuring their character, religion, and language; and their degenerate
posterity would be insensibly mingled with the common herd of African
subjects. Yet even in the present age, and in the heart of the Moorish
tribes, a curious traveller has discovered the white complexion and long
flaxen hair of a northern race; and it was formerly believed, that the
boldest of the Vandals fled beyond the power, or even the knowledge,
of the Romans, to enjoy their solitary freedom on the shores of the
Atlantic Ocean. Africa had been their empire, it became their prison;
nor could they entertain a hope, or even a wish, of returning to the
banks of the Elbe, where their brethren, of a spirit less adventurous,
still wandered in their native forests. It was impossible for cowards
to surmount the barriers of unknown seas and hostile Barbarians; it was
impossible for brave men to expose their nakedness and defeat before the
eyes of their countrymen, to describe the kingdoms which they had lost,
and to claim a share of the humble inheritance, which, in a happier
hour, they had almost unanimously renounced. In the country between the
Elbe and the Oder, several populous villages of Lusatia are inhabited by
the Vandals: they still preserve their language, their customs, and
the purity of their blood; support, with some impatience, the Saxon
or Prussian yoke; and serve, with secret and voluntary allegiance, the
descendant of their ancient kings, who in his garb and present fortune
is confounded with the meanest of his vassals. The name and situation of
this unhappy people might indicate their descent from one common stock
with the conquerors of Africa. But the use of a Sclavonian dialect more
clearly represent them as the last remnant of the new colonies, who
succeeded to the genuine Vandals, already scattered or destroyed in the
age of Procopius.

If Belisarius had been tempted to hesitate in his allegiance, he might
have urged, even against the emperor himself, the indispensable duty of
saving Africa from an enemy more barbarous than the Vandals. The origin
of the Moors is involved in darkness; they were ignorant of the use of
letters. Their limits cannot be precisely defined; a boundless continent
was open to the Libyan shepherds; the change of seasons and pastures
regulated their motions; and their rude huts and slender furniture were
transported with the same case as their arms, their families, and their
cattle, which consisted of sheep, oxen, and camels. During the vigor of
the Roman power, they observed a respectful distance from Carthage and
the sea-shore: under the feeble reign of the Vandals, they invaded the
cities of Numidia, occupied the sea-coast from Tangier to Cæsarea, and
pitched their camps, with impunity, in the fertile province of Byzacium.
The formidable strength and artful conduct of Belisarius secured the
neutrality of the Moorish princes, whose vanity aspired to receive,
in the emperor's name, the ensigns of their regal dignity. They were
astonished by the rapid event, and trembled in the presence of their
conqueror. But his approaching departure soon relieved the apprehensions
of a savage and superstitious people; the number of their wives allowed
them to disregard the safety of their infant hostages; and when the
Roman general hoisted sail in the port of Carthage, he heard the
cries, and almost beheld the flames, of the desolated province. Yet he
persisted in his resolution, and leaving only a part of his guards to
reënforce the feeble garrisons, he intrusted the command of Africa to
the eunuch Solomon, who proved himself not unworthy to be the successor
of Belisarius. In the first invasion, some detachments, with two
officers of merit, were surprised and intercepted; but Solomon speedily
assembled his troops, marched from Carthage into the heart of the
country, and in two great battles destroyed sixty thousand of the
Barbarians. The Moors depended on their multitude, their swiftness, and
their inaccessible mountains; and the aspect and smell of their camels
are said to have produced some confusion in the Roman cavalry. But as
soon as they were commanded to dismount, they derided this contemptible
obstacle: as soon as the columns ascended the hills, the naked and
disorderly crowd was dazzled by glittering arms and regular evolutions;
and the menace of their female prophets was repeatedly fulfilled,
that the Moors should be discomfited by a _beardless_ antagonist. The
victorious eunuch advanced thirteen days journey from Carthage, to
besiege Mount Aurasius, the citadel, and at the same time the garden,
of Numidia. That range of hills, a branch of the great Atlas, contains,
within a circumference of one hundred and twenty miles, a rare variety
of soil and climate; the intermediate valleys and elevated plains abound
with rich pastures, perpetual streams, and fruits of a delicious taste
and uncommon magnitude. This fair solitude is decorated with the ruins
of Lambesa, a Roman city, once the seat of a legion, and the residence
of forty thousand inhabitants. The Ionic temple of Æsculapius is
encompassed with Moorish huts; and the cattle now graze in the midst
of an amphitheatre, under the shade of Corinthian columns. A sharp
perpendicular rock rises above the level of the mountain, where the
African princes deposited their wives and treasure; and a proverb is
familiar to the Arabs, that the man may eat fire who dares to attack
the craggy cliffs and inhospitable natives of Mount Aurasius. This hardy
enterprise was twice attempted by the eunuch Solomon: from the first,
he retreated with some disgrace; and in the second, his patience and
provisions were almost exhausted; and he must again have retired, if he
had not yielded to the impetuous courage of his troops, who audaciously
scaled, to the astonishment of the Moors, the mountain, the hostile
camp, and the summit of the Geminian rock A citadel was erected to
secure this important conquest, and to remind the Barbarians of their
defeat; and as Solomon pursued his march to the west, the long-lost
province of Mauritanian Sitifi was again annexed to the Roman empire.
The Moorish war continued several years after the departure of
Belisarius; but the laurels which he resigned to a faithful lieutenant
may be justly ascribed to his own triumph.

The experience of past faults, which may sometimes correct the mature
age of an individual, is seldom profitable to the successive generations
of mankind. The nations of antiquity, careless of each other's safety,
were separately vanquished and enslaved by the Romans. This awful lesson
might have instructed the Barbarians of the West to oppose, with timely
counsels and confederate arms, the unbounded ambition of Justinian. Yet
the same error was repeated, the same consequences were felt, and the
Goths, both of Italy and Spain, insensible of their approaching danger,
beheld with indifference, and even with joy, the rapid downfall of the
Vandals. After the failure of the royal line, Theudes, a valiant and
powerful chief, ascended the throne of Spain, which he had formerly
administered in the name of Theodoric and his infant grandson. Under
his command, the Visigoths besieged the fortress of Ceuta on the African
coast: but, while they spent the Sabbath day in peace and devotion, the
pious security of their camp was invaded by a sally from the town; and
the king himself, with some difficulty and danger, escaped from the
hands of a sacrilegious enemy. It was not long before his pride and
resentment were gratified by a suppliant embassy from the unfortunate
Gelimer, who implored, in his distress, the aid of the Spanish monarch.
But instead of sacrificing these unworthy passions to the dictates of
generosity and prudence, Theudes amused the ambassadors till he was
secretly informed of the loss of Carthage, and then dismissed them with
obscure and contemptuous advice, to seek in their native country a
true knowledge of the state of the Vandals. The long continuance of the
Italian war delayed the punishment of the Visigoths; and the eyes
of Theudes were closed before they tasted the fruits of his mistaken
policy. After his death, the sceptre of Spain was disputed by a civil
war. The weaker candidate solicited the protection of Justinian, and
ambitiously subscribed a treaty of alliance, which deeply wounded the
independence and happiness of his country. Several cities, both on
the ocean and the Mediterranean, were ceded to the Roman troops, who
afterwards refused to evacuate those pledges, as it should seem, either
of safety or payment; and as they were fortified by perpetual supplies
from Africa, they maintained their impregnable stations, for the
mischievous purpose of inflaming the civil and religious factions of
the Barbarians. Seventy years elapsed before this painful thorn could be
extirpated from the bosom of the monarchy; and as long as the emperors
retained any share of these remote and useless possessions, their vanity
might number Spain in the list of their provinces, and the successors of
Alaric in the rank of their vassals.

The error of the Goths who reigned in Italy was less excusable than that
of their Spanish brethren, and their punishment was still more immediate
and terrible. From a motive of private revenge, they enabled their most
dangerous enemy to destroy their most valuable ally. A sister of the
great Theodoric had been given in marriage to Thrasimond, the African
king: on this occasion, the fortress of Lilybæum in Sicily was resigned
to the Vandals; and the princess Amalafrida was attended by a martial
train of one thousand nobles, and five thousand Gothic soldiers, who
signalized their valor in the Moorish wars. Their merit was overrated
by themselves, and perhaps neglected by the Vandals; they viewed the
country with envy, and the conquerors with disdain; but their real
or fictitious conspiracy was prevented by a massacre; the Goths were
oppressed, and the captivity of Amalafrida was soon followed by her
secret and suspicious death. The eloquent pen of Cassiodorus was
employed to reproach the Vandal court with the cruel violation of every
social and public duty; but the vengeance which he threatened in the
name of his sovereign might be derided with impunity, as long as Africa
was protected by the sea, and the Goths were destitute of a navy. In
the blind impotence of grief and indignation, they joyfully saluted the
approach of the Romans, entertained the fleet of Belisarius in the ports
of Sicily, and were speedily delighted or alarmed by the surprising
intelligence, that their revenge was executed beyond the measure of
their hopes, or perhaps of their wishes. To their friendship the emperor
was indebted for the kingdom of Africa, and the Goths might reasonably
think, that they were entitled to resume the possession of a barren
rock, so recently separated as a nuptial gift from the island of Sicily.
They were soon undeceived by the haughty mandate of Belisarius, which
excited their tardy and unavailing repentance. "The city and promontory
of Lilybæum," said the Roman general, "belonged to the Vandals, and I
claim them by the right of conquest. Your submission may deserve the
favor of the emperor; your obstinacy will provoke his displeasure, and
must kindle a war, that can terminate only in your utter ruin. If
you compel us to take up arms, we shall contend, not to regain the
possession of a single city, but to deprive you of all the provinces
which you unjustly withhold from their lawful sovereign." A nation of
two hundred thousand soldiers might have smiled at the vain menace of
Justinian and his lieutenant: but a spirit of discord and disaffection
prevailed in Italy, and the Goths supported, with reluctance, the
indignity of a female reign.

The birth of Amalasontha, the regent and queen of Italy, united the two
most illustrious families of the Barbarians. Her mother, the sister of
Clovis, was descended from the long-haired kings of the _Merovingian_
race; and the regal succession of the _Amali_ was illustrated in the
eleventh generation, by her father, the great Theodoric, whose merit
might have ennobled a plebeian origin. The sex of his daughter excluded
her from the Gothic throne; but his vigilant tenderness for his family
and his people discovered the last heir of the royal line, whose
ancestors had taken refuge in Spain; and the fortunate Eutharic was
suddenly exalted to the rank of a consul and a prince. He enjoyed only
a short time the charms of Amalasontha, and the hopes of the succession;
and his widow, after the death of her husband and father, was left the
guardian of her son Athalaric, and the kingdom of Italy. At the age
of about twenty-eight years, the endowments of her mind and person had
attained their perfect maturity. Her beauty, which, in the apprehension
of Theodora herself, might have disputed the conquest of an emperor,
was animated by manly sense, activity, and resolution. Education and
experience had cultivated her talents; her philosophic studies were
exempt from vanity; and, though she expressed herself with equal
elegance and ease in the Greek, the Latin, and the Gothic tongue,
the daughter of Theodoric maintained in her counsels a discreet and
impenetrable silence. By a faithful imitation of the virtues, she
revived the prosperity, of his reign; while she strove, with pious
care, to expiate the faults, and to obliterate the darker memory of his
declining age. The children of Boethius and Symmachus were restored
to their paternal inheritance; her extreme lenity never consented to
inflict any corporal or pecuniary penalties on her Roman subjects; and
she generously despised the clamors of the Goths, who, at the end of
forty years, still considered the people of Italy as their slaves or
their enemies. Her salutary measures were directed by the wisdom, and
celebrated by the eloquence, of Cassiodorus; she solicited and deserved
the friendship of the emperor; and the kingdoms of Europe respected,
both in peace and war, the majesty of the Gothic throne. But the future
happiness of the queen and of Italy depended on the education of her
son; who was destined, by his birth, to support the different and almost
incompatible characters of the chief of a Barbarian camp, and the first
magistrate of a civilized nation. From the age of ten years, Athalaric
was diligently instructed in the arts and sciences, either useful or
ornamental for a Roman prince; and three venerable Goths were chosen to
instil the principles of honor and virtue into the mind of their young
king. But the pupil who is insensible of the benefits, must abhor
the restraints, of education; and the solicitude of the queen, which
affection rendered anxious and severe, offended the untractable nature
of her son and his subjects. On a solemn festival, when the Goths were
assembled in the palace of Ravenna, the royal youth escaped from his
mother's apartment, and, with tears of pride and anger, complained of
a blow which his stubborn disobedience had provoked her to inflict. The
Barbarians resented the indignity which had been offered to their
king; accused the regent of conspiring against his life and crown; and
imperiously demanded, that the grandson of Theodoric should be rescued
from the dastardly discipline of women and pedants, and educated, like a
valiant Goth, in the society of his equals and the glorious ignorance of
his ancestors. To this rude clamor, importunately urged as the voice
of the nation, Amalasontha was compelled to yield her reason, and the
dearest wishes of her heart. The king of Italy was abandoned to wine,
to women, and to rustic sports; and the indiscreet contempt of the
ungrateful youth betrayed the mischievous designs of his favorites and
her enemies. Encompassed with domestic foes, she entered into a secret
negotiation with the emperor Justinian; obtained the assurance of a
friendly reception, and had actually deposited at Dyrachium, in Epirus,
a treasure of forty thousand pounds of gold. Happy would it have been
for her fame and safety, if she had calmly retired from barbarous
faction to the peace and splendor of Constantinople. But the mind of
Amalasontha was inflamed by ambition and revenge; and while her ships
lay at anchor in the port, she waited for the success of a crime which
her passions excused or applauded as an act of justice. Three of the
most dangerous malecontents had been separately removed under the
pretence of trust and command, to the frontiers of Italy: they were
assassinated by her private emissaries; and the blood of these noble
Goths rendered the queen-mother absolute in the court of Ravenna, and
justly odious to a free people. But if she had lamented the disorders of
her son she soon wept his irreparable loss; and the death of Athalaric,
who, at the age of sixteen, was consumed by premature intemperance,
left her destitute of any firm support or legal authority. Instead of
submitting to the laws of her country which held as a fundamental maxim,
that the succession could never pass from the lance to the distaff, the
daughter of Theodoric conceived the impracticable design of sharing,
with one of her cousins, the regal title, and of reserving in her own
hands the substance of supreme power. He received the proposal with
profound respect and affected gratitude; and the eloquent Cassiodorus
announced to the senate and the emperor, that Amalasontha and Theodatus
had ascended the throne of Italy. His birth (for his mother was the
sister of Theodoric) might be considered as an imperfect title; and the
choice of Amalasontha was more strongly directed by her contempt of
his avarice and pusillanimity which had deprived him of the love of
the Italians, and the esteem of the Barbarians. But Theodatus was
exasperated by the contempt which he deserved: her justice had repressed
and reproached the oppression which he exercised against his Tuscan
neighbors; and the principal Goths, united by common guilt and
resentment, conspired to instigate his slow and timid disposition. The
letters of congratulation were scarcely despatched before the queen of
Italy was imprisoned in a small island of the Lake of Bolsena, where,
after a short confinement, she was strangled in the bath, by the order,
or with the connivance of the new king, who instructed his turbulent
subjects to shed the blood of their sovereigns.

Justinian beheld with joy the dissensions of the Goths; and the
mediation of an ally concealed and promoted the ambitious views of
the conqueror. His ambassadors, in their public audience, demanded the
fortress of Lilybæum, ten Barbarian fugitives, and a just compensation
for the pillage of a small town on the Illyrian borders; but they
secretly negotiated with Theodatus to betray the province of Tuscany,
and tempted Amalasontha to extricate herself from danger and perplexity,
by a free surrender of the kingdom of Italy. A false and servile epistle
was subscribed, by the reluctant hand of the captive queen: but the
confession of the Roman senators, who were sent to Constantinople,
revealed the truth of her deplorable situation; and Justinian, by the
voice of a new ambassador, most powerfully interceded for her life and
liberty. Yet the secret instructions of the same minister were adapted
to serve the cruel jealousy of Theodora, who dreaded the presence and
superior charms of a rival: he prompted, with artful and ambiguous
hints, the execution of a crime so useful to the Romans; received the
intelligence of her death with grief and indignation, and denounced,
in his master's name, immortal war against the perfidious assassin. In
Italy, as well as in Africa, the guilt of a usurper appeared to
justify the arms of Justinian; but the forces which he prepared, were
insufficient for the subversion of a mighty kingdom, if their feeble
numbers had not been multiplied by the name, the spirit, and the
conduct, of a hero. A chosen troop of guards, who served on horseback,
and were armed with lances and bucklers, attended the person of
Belisarius; his cavalry was composed of two hundred Huns, three hundred
Moors, and four thousand _confederates_, and the infantry consisted of
only three thousand Isaurians. Steering the same course as in his former
expedition, the Roman consul cast anchor before Catana in Sicily, to
survey the strength of the island, and to decide whether he should
attempt the conquest, or peaceably pursue his voyage for the African
coast. He found a fruitful land and a friendly people. Notwithstanding
the decay of agriculture, Sicily still supplied the granaries of Rome:
the farmers were graciously exempted from the oppression of military
quarters; and the Goths, who trusted the defence of the island to the
inhabitants, had some reason to complain, that their confidence was
ungratefully betrayed. Instead of soliciting and expecting the aid
of the king of Italy, they yielded to the first summons a cheerful
obedience; and this province, the first fruits of the Punic war, was
again, after a long separation, united to the Roman empire. The Gothic
garrison of Palermo, which alone attempted to resist, was reduced, after
a short siege, by a singular stratagem. Belisarius introduced his ships
into the deepest recess of the harbor; their boats were laboriously
hoisted with ropes and pulleys to the top-mast head, and he filled them
with archers, who, from that superior station, commanded the ramparts
of the city. After this easy, though successful campaign, the conqueror
entered Syracuse in triumph, at the head of his victorious bands,
distributing gold medals to the people, on the day which so gloriously
terminated the year of the consulship. He passed the winter season in
the palace of ancient kings, amidst the ruins of a Grecian colony, which
once extended to a circumference of two-and-twenty miles: but in the
spring, about the festival of Easter, the prosecution of his designs was
interrupted by a dangerous revolt of the African forces. Carthage was
saved by the presence of Belisarius, who suddenly landed with a thousand
guards. Two thousand soldiers of doubtful faith returned to the
standard of their old commander: and he marched, without hesitation,
above fifty miles, to seek an enemy whom he affected to pity and
despise. Eight thousand rebels trembled at his approach; they were
routed at the first onset, by the dexterity of their master: and
this ignoble victory would have restored the peace of Africa, if the
conqueror had not been hastily recalled to Sicily, to appease a sedition
which was kindled during his absence in his own camp. Disorder and
disobedience were the common malady of the times; the genius to command,
and the virtue to obey, resided only in the mind of Belisarius.



Chapter XLI: Conquests Of Justinian, Character 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, 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 one should act according to his
character_. What is your meaning? _You are a philosopher--Justinian is
emperor of the Romans: it would ill 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, 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 was employed in the reduction of
Sicily, the invasion of Italy is applied by Procopius to the second year
of the Gothic war.

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. 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; 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. 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 measured only two thousand three hundred and sixty three
paces: 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; 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.

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. 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. 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 Cæsars
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 æra 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 Cumæ, 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 primæval
beauty, and not a flaw could be discovered in the large polished stones,
of which that solid, though narrow road, was so firmly compacted.
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.

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, 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, 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.

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. 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; 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; 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.

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 _balista_, 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. A chain was drawn across the Tyber; the arches of the
aqueducts were made impervious, and the mole or sepulchre of Hadrian 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. 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 Prnestine 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. 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 ancestors.

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 Prænestine 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 reëchoed 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 Prænestine gate and the sepulchre of Hadrian, at the
distance of three miles from each other. Near the former, the double
walls of the Vivarium 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,
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.



Chapter XLI: Conquests Of Justinian, Character 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 Prænestine 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, 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, 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. The ecclesiastics, who followed their bishop, were detained in
the first or second apartment, 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.

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
reënforcement 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, 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, 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 Centumcellæ, their place was instantly supplied; the
garrisons of Narni, Spoleto, and Perusia, were reënforced, 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, 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."

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.
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 Æmilian province. The fierce and formidable bands
of the Heruli were attached to the person of Narses; 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 Fæsulæ 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.

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. 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 and ruin, escaped to the luxury and
honors of the Byzantine court; 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; 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. 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 Æmilia, 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 federal 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: he was overthrown and slain by
a wild bull, as he hunted in the Belgic or German forests.



Chapter XLI: Conquests Of Justinian, Character 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 Fæsulæ 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, and secretly firing the granaries of a besieged
city. 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.
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.

Vitiges, who perhaps had attempted to escape, was honorably guarded in
his palace; 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.

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.
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. 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.

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 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 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, 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, 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.

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 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 præfect, 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.

In the succeeding campaign, Belisarius was again sent against the
Persians: he saved the East, but he offended Theodora, and perhaps the
emperor himself. The malady of Justinian had countenanced the rumor of
his death; and the Roman general, on the supposition of that probable
event spoke the free language of a citizen and a soldier. His colleague
Buzes, who concurred in the same sentiments, lost his rank, his liberty,
and his health, by the persecution of the empress: but the disgrace of
Belisarius was alleviated by the dignity of his own character, and the
influence of his wife, who might wish to humble, but could not desire to
ruin, the partner of her fortunes. Even his removal was colored by the
assurance, that the sinking state of Italy would be retrieved by the
single presence of its conqueror. But no sooner had he returned, alone
and defenceless, than a hostile commission was sent to the East, to
seize his treasures and criminate his actions; the guards and veterans,
who followed his private banner, were distributed among the chiefs of
the army, and even the eunuchs presumed to cast lots for the partition
of his martial domestics. When he passed with a small and sordid retinue
through the streets of Constantinople, his forlorn appearance excited
the amazement and compassion of the people. Justinian and Theodora
received him with cold ingratitude; the servile crowd, with insolence
and contempt; and in the evening he retired with trembling steps to
his deserted palace. An indisposition, feigned or real, had confined
Antonina to her apartment; and she walked disdainfully silent in
the adjacent portico, while Belisarius threw himself on his bed, and
expected, in an agony of grief and terror, the death which he had so
often braved under the walls of Rome. Long after sunset a messenger
was announced from the empress: he opened, with anxious curiosity, the
letter which contained the sentence of his fate. "You cannot be ignorant
how much you have deserved my displeasure. I am not insensible of the
services of Antonina. To her merits and intercession I have granted your
life, and permit you to retain a part of your treasures, which might be
justly forfeited to the state. Let your gratitude, where it is due, be
displayed, not in words, but in your future behavior." I know not how to
believe or to relate the transports with which the hero is said to have
received this ignominious pardon. He fell prostrate before his wife,
he kissed the feet of his savior, and he devoutly promised to live the
grateful and submissive slave of Antonina. A fine of one hundred
and twenty thousand pounds sterling was levied on the fortunes of
Belisarius; and with the office of count, or master of the royal
stables, he accepted the conduct of the Italian war. At his departure
from Constantinople, his friends, and even the public, were persuaded
that as soon as he regained his freedom, he would renounce his
dissimulation, and that his wife, Theodora, and perhaps the emperor
himself, would be sacrificed to the just revenge of a virtuous rebel.
Their hopes were deceived; and the unconquerable patience and loyalty of
Belisarius appear either _below_ or _above_ the character of a man.



Chapter XLII: State Of The Barbaric World.--Part I.

     State Of The Barbaric World.--Establishment Of The Lombards
     On the Danube.--Tribes And Inroads Of The Sclavonians.--
     Origin, Empire, And Embassies Of The Turks.--The Flight Of
     The Avars.--Chosroes I, Or Nushirvan, King Of Persia.--His
     Prosperous Reign And Wars With The Romans.--The Colchian Or
     Lazic War.--The Æthiopians.

Our estimate of personal merit, is relative to the common faculties of
mankind. The aspiring efforts of genius, or virtue, either in active or
speculative life, are measured, not so much by their real elevation,
as by the height to which they ascend above the level of their age and
country; and the same stature, which in a people of giants would pass
unnoticed, must appear conspicuous in a race of pygmies. Leonidas, and
his three hundred companions, devoted their lives at Thermopylæ; but the
education of the infant, the boy, and the man, had prepared, and almost
insured, this memorable sacrifice; and each Spartan would approve,
rather than admire, an act of duty, of which himself and eight thousand
of his fellow-citizens were equally capable. The great Pompey might
inscribe on his trophies, that he had defeated in battle two millions of
enemies, and reduced fifteen hundred cities from the Lake Mæotis to the
Red Sea: but the fortune of Rome flew before his eagles; the nations
were oppressed by their own fears, and the invincible legions which he
commanded, had been formed by the habits of conquest and the discipline
of ages. In this view, the character of Belisarius may be deservedly
placed above the heroes of the ancient republics. His imperfections
flowed from the contagion of the times; his virtues were his own, the
free gift of nature or reflection; he raised himself without a master or
a rival; and so inadequate were the arms committed to his hand, that
his sole advantage was derived from the pride and presumption of his
adversaries. Under his command, the subjects of Justinian often deserved
to be called Romans: but the unwarlike appellation of Greeks was imposed
as a term of reproach by the haughty Goths; who affected to blush,
that they must dispute the kingdom of Italy with a nation of tragedians
pantomimes, and pirates. The climate of Asia has indeed been found
less congenial than that of Europe to military spirit: those populous
countries were enervated by luxury, despotism, and superstition; and
the monks were more expensive and more numerous than the soldiers of the
East. The regular force of the empire had once amounted to six hundred
and forty-five thousand men: it was reduced, in the time of Justinian,
to one hundred and fifty thousand; and this number, large as it may
seem, was thinly scattered over the sea and land; in Spain and Italy, in
Africa and Egypt, on the banks of the Danube, the coast of the Euxine,
and the frontiers of Persia. The citizen was exhausted, yet the soldier
was unpaid; his poverty was mischievously soothed by the privilege
of rapine and indolence; and the tardy payments were detained and
intercepted by the fraud of those agents who usurp, without courage or
danger, the emoluments of war. Public and private distress recruited the
armies of the state; but in the field, and still more in the presence
of the enemy, their numbers were always defective. The want of national
spirit was supplied by the precarious faith and disorderly service of
Barbarian mercenaries. Even military honor, which has often survived the
loss of virtue and freedom, was almost totally extinct. The generals,
who were multiplied beyond the example of former times, labored only to
prevent the success, or to sully the reputation of their colleagues; and
they had been taught by experience, that if merit sometimes provoked
the jealousy, error, or even guilt, would obtain the indulgence, of
a gracious emperor. In such an age, the triumphs of Belisarius, and
afterwards of Narses, shine with incomparable lustre; but they are
encompassed with the darkest shades of disgrace and calamity. While the
lieutenant of Justinian subdued the kingdoms of the Goths and Vandals,
the emperor, timid, though ambitious, balanced the forces of the
Barbarians, fomented their divisions by flattery and falsehood, and
invited by his patience and liberality the repetition of injuries. The
keys of Carthage, Rome, and Ravenna, were presented to their conqueror,
while Antioch was destroyed by the Persians, and Justinian trembled for
the safety of Constantinople.

Even the Gothic victories of Belisarius were prejudicial to the state,
since they abolished the important barrier of the Upper Danube, which
had been so faithfully guarded by Theodoric and his daughter. For the
defence of Italy, the Goths evacuated Pannonia and Noricum, which
they left in a peaceful and flourishing condition: the sovereignty
was claimed by the emperor of the Romans; the actual possession was
abandoned to the boldness of the first invader. On the opposite banks of
the Danube, the plains of Upper Hungary and the Transylvanian hills were
possessed, since the death of Attila, by the tribes of the Gepidæ, who
respected the Gothic arms, and despised, not indeed the gold of the
Romans, but the secret motive of their annual subsidies. The vacant
fortifications of the river were instantly occupied by these Barbarians;
their standards were planted on the walls of Sirmium and Belgrade; and
the ironical tone of their apology aggravated this insult on the majesty
of the empire. "So extensive, O Cæsar, are your dominions, so numerous
are your cities, that you are continually seeking for nations to whom,
either in peace or in war, you may relinquish these useless possessions.
The Gepidæ are your brave and faithful allies; and if they have
anticipated your gifts, they have shown a just confidence in your
bounty." Their presumption was excused by the mode of revenge which
Justinian embraced. Instead of asserting the rights of a sovereign for
the protection of his subjects, the emperor invited a strange people to
invade and possess the Roman provinces between the Danube and the Alps
and the ambition of the Gepidæ was checked by the rising power and
fame of the Lombards. This corrupt appellation has been diffused in the
thirteenth century by the merchants and bankers, the Italian posterity
of these savage warriors: but the original name of _Langobards_ is
expressive only of the peculiar length and fashion of their beards. I am
not disposed either to question or to justify their Scandinavian origin;
nor to pursue the migrations of the Lombards through unknown regions and
marvellous adventures. About the time of Augustus and Trajan, a ray of
historic light breaks on the darkness of their antiquities, and they are
discovered, for the first time, between the Elbe and the Oder. Fierce,
beyond the example of the Germans, they delighted to propagate the
tremendous belief, that their heads were formed like the heads of dogs,
and that they drank the blood of their enemies, whom they vanquished in
battle. The smallness of their numbers was recruited by the adoption of
their bravest slaves; and alone, amidst their powerful neighbors, they
defended by arms their high-spirited independence. In the tempests of
the north, which overwhelmed so many names and nations, this little bark
of the Lombards still floated on the surface: they gradually descended
towards the south and the Danube, and, at the end of four hundred years,
they again appear with their ancient valor and renown. Their manners
were not less ferocious. The assassination of a royal guest was executed
in the presence, and by the command, of the king's daughter, who
had been provoked by some words of insult, and disappointed by his
diminutive stature; and a tribute, the price of blood, was imposed on
the Lombards, by his brother the king of the Heruli. Adversity revived
a sense of moderation and justice, and the insolence of conquest was
chastised by the signal defeat and irreparable dispersion of the Heruli,
who were seated in the southern provinces of Poland. The victories of
the Lombards recommended them to the friendship of the emperors; and
at the solicitations of Justinian, they passed the Danube, to reduce,
according to their treaty, the cities of Noricum and the fortresses of
Pannonia. But the spirit of rapine soon tempted them beyond these
ample limits; they wandered along the coast of the Hadriatic as far as
Dyrrachium, and presumed, with familiar rudeness to enter the towns and
houses of their Roman allies, and to seize the captives who had escaped
from their audacious hands. These acts of hostility, the sallies, as
it might be pretended, of some loose adventurers, were disowned by the
nation, and excused by the emperor; but the arms of the Lombards
were more seriously engaged by a contest of thirty years, which was
terminated only by the extirpation of the Gepidæ. The hostile nations
often pleaded their cause before the throne of Constantinople; and the
crafty Justinian, to whom the Barbarians were almost equally odious,
pronounced a partial and ambiguous sentence, and dexterously protracted
the war by slow and ineffectual succors. Their strength was formidable,
since the Lombards, who sent into the field several _myriads_ of
soldiers, still claimed, as the weaker side, the protection of the
Romans. Their spirit was intrepid; yet such is the uncertainty of
courage, that the two armies were suddenly struck with a panic; they
fled from each other, and the rival kings remained with their guards
in the midst of an empty plain. A short truce was obtained; but their
mutual resentment again kindled; and the remembrance of their shame
rendered the next encounter more desperate and bloody Forty thousand of
the Barbarians perished in the decisive battle, which broke the power
of the Gepidæ, transferred the fears and wishes of Justinian, and first
displayed the character of Alboin, the youthful prince of the Lombards,
and the future conqueror of Italy.

The wild people who dwelt or wandered in the plains of Russia,
Lithuania, and Poland, might be reduced, in the age of Justinian, under
the two great families of the Bulgarians and the Sclavonians. According
to the Greek writers, the former, who touched the Euxine and the Lake
Mæotis, derived from the Huns their name or descent; and it is needless
to renew the simple and well-known picture of Tartar manners. They
were bold and dexterous archers, who drank the milk, and feasted on the
flesh, of their fleet and indefatigable horses; whose flocks and herds
followed, or rather guided, the motions of their roving camps; to whose
inroads no country was remote or impervious, and who were practised
in flight, though incapable of fear. The nation was divided into two
powerful and hostile tribes, who pursued each other with fraternal
hatred. They eagerly disputed the friendship, or rather the gifts, of
the emperor; and the distinctions which nature had fixed between the
faithful dog and the rapacious wolf was applied by an ambassador who
received only verbal instructions from the mouth of his illiterate
prince. The Bulgarians, of whatsoever species, were equally attracted
by Roman wealth: they assumed a vague dominion over the Sclavonian name,
and their rapid marches could only be stopped by the Baltic Sea, or the
extreme cold and poverty of the north. But the same race of Sclavonians
appears to have maintained, in every age, the possession of the same
countries. Their numerous tribes, however distant or adverse, used one
common language, (it was harsh and irregular,) and where known by the
resemblance of their form, which deviated from the swarthy Tartar, and
approached without attaining the lofty stature and fair complexion of
the German. Four thousand six hundred villages were scattered over the
provinces of Russia and Poland, and their huts were hastily built of
rough timber, in a country deficient both in stone and iron. Erected,
or rather concealed, in the depth of forests, on the banks of rivers,
or the edges of morasses, we may not perhaps, without flattery, compare
them to the architecture of the beaver; which they resembled in a double
issue, to the land and water, for the escape of the savage inhabitant,
an animal less cleanly, less diligent, and less social, than that
marvellous quadruped. The fertility of the soil, rather than the labor
of the natives, supplied the rustic plenty of the Sclavonians. Their
sheep and horned cattle were large and numerous, and the fields which
they sowed with millet or panic afforded, in place of bread, a coarse
and less nutritive food. The incessant rapine of their neighbors
compelled them to bury this treasure in the earth; but on the appearance
of a stranger, it was freely imparted by a people, whose unfavorable
character is qualified by the epithets of chaste, patient, and
hospitable. As their supreme god, they adored an invisible master of the
thunder. The rivers and the nymphs obtained their subordinate honors,
and the popular worship was expressed in vows and sacrifice. The
Sclavonians disdained to obey a despot, a prince, or even a magistrate;
but their experience was too narrow, their passions too headstrong, to
compose a system of equal law or general defence. Some voluntary respect
was yielded to age and valor; but each tribe or village existed as
a separate republic, and all must be persuaded where none could be
compelled. They fought on foot, almost naked, and except an unwieldy
shield, without any defensive armor; their weapons of offence were a
bow, a quiver of small poisoned arrows, and a long rope, which they
dexterously threw from a distance, and entangled their enemy in a
running noose. In the field, the Sclavonian infantry was dangerous
by their speed, agility, and hardiness: they swam, they dived, they
remained under water, drawing their breath through a hollow cane; and
a river or lake was often the scene of their unsuspected ambuscade. But
these were the achievements of spies or stragglers; the military art was
unknown to the Sclavonians; their name was obscure, and their conquests
were inglorious.

I have marked the faint and general outline of the Sclavonians and
Bulgarians, without attempting to define their intermediate boundaries,
which were not accurately known or respected by the Barbarians
themselves. Their importance was measured by their vicinity to the
empire; and the level country of Moldavia and Wallachia was occupied
by the Antes, a Sclavonian tribe, which swelled the titles of
Justinian with an epithet of conquest. Against the Antes he erected the
fortifications of the Lower Danube; and labored to secure the alliance
of a people seated in the direct channel of northern inundation, an
interval of two hundred miles between the mountains of Transylvania and
the Euxine Sea. But the Antes wanted power and inclination to stem the
fury of the torrent; and the light-armed Sclavonians, from a hundred
tribes, pursued with almost equal speed the footsteps of the Bulgarian
horse. The payment of one piece of gold for each soldier procured a safe
and easy retreat through the country of the Gepidæ, who commanded the
passage of the Upper Danube. The hopes or fears of the Barbarians; their
intense union or discord; the accident of a frozen or shallow stream;
the prospect of harvest or vintage; the prosperity or distress of the
Romans; were the causes which produced the uniform repetition of annual
visits, tedious in the narrative, and destructive in the event. The same
year, and possibly the same month, in which Ravenna surrendered, was
marked by an invasion of the Huns or Bulgarians, so dreadful, that it
almost effaced the memory of their past inroads. They spread from the
suburbs of Constantinople to the Ionian Gulf, destroyed thirty-two
cities or castles, erased Potidæa, which Athens had built, and Philip
had besieged, and repassed the Danube, dragging at their horses' heels
one hundred and twenty thousand of the subjects of Justinian. In a
subsequent inroad they pierced the wall of the Thracian Chersonesus,
extirpated the habitations and the inhabitants, boldly traversed the
Hellespont, and returned to their companions, laden with the spoils of
Asia. Another party, which seemed a multitude in the eyes of the Romans,
penetrated, without opposition, from the Straits of Thermopylæ to the
Isthmus of Corinth; and the last ruin of Greece has appeared an object
too minute for the attention of history. The works which the emperor
raised for the protection, but at the expense of his subjects, served
only to disclose the weakness of some neglected part; and the walls,
which by flattery had been deemed impregnable, were either deserted by
the garrison, or scaled by the Barbarians. Three thousand Sclavonians,
who insolently divided themselves into two bands, discovered the
weakness and misery of a triumphant reign. They passed the Danube and
the Hebrus, vanquished the Roman generals who dared to oppose their
progress, and plundered, with impunity, the cities of Illyricum
and Thrace, each of which had arms and numbers to overwhelm their
contemptible assailants. Whatever praise the boldness of the Sclavonians
may deserve, it is sullied by the wanton and deliberate cruelty which
they are accused of exercising on their prisoners. Without distinction
of rank, or age, or sex, the captives were impaled or flayed alive, or
suspended between four posts, and beaten with clubs till they expired,
or enclosed in some spacious building, and left to perish in the flames
with the spoil and cattle which might impede the march of these savage
victors. Perhaps a more impartial narrative would reduce the number, and
qualify the nature, of these horrid acts; and they might sometimes be
excused by the cruel laws of retaliation. In the siege of Topirus, whose
obstinate defence had enraged the Sclavonians, they massacred fifteen
thousand males; but they spared the women and children; the most
valuable captives were always reserved for labor or ransom; the
servitude was not rigorous, and the terms of their deliverance were
speedy and moderate. But the subject, or the historian of Justinian,
exhaled his just indignation in the language of complaint and reproach;
and Procopius has confidently affirmed, that in a reign of thirty-two
years, each annual inroad of the Barbarians consumed two hundred
thousand of the inhabitants of the Roman empire. The entire population
of Turkish Europe, which nearly corresponds with the provinces of
Justinian, would perhaps be incapable of supplying six millions of
persons, the result of this incredible estimate.

In the midst of these obscure calamities, Europe felt the shock of
revolution, which first revealed to the world the name and nation of the
Turks. Like Romulus, the founder of that martial people was suckled
by a she-wolf, who afterwards made him the father of a numerous progeny;
and the representation of that animal in the banners of the Turks
preserved the memory, or rather suggested the idea, of a fable, which
was invented, without any mutual intercourse, by the shepherds of Latium
and those of Scythia. At the equal distance of two thousand miles from
the Caspian, the Icy, the Chinese, and the Bengal Seas, a ridge of
mountains is conspicuous, the centre, and perhaps the summit, of Asia;
which, in the language of different nations, has been styled Imaus, and
Caf, and Altai, and the Golden Mountains, and the Girdle of the Earth.
The sides of the hills were productive of minerals; and the iron forges,
for the purpose of war, were exercised by the Turks, the most despised
portion of the slaves of the great khan of the Geougen. But their
servitude could only last till a leader, bold and eloquent, should arise
to persuade his countrymen that the same arms which they forged for
their masters, might become, in their own hands, the instruments of
freedom and victory. They sallied from the mountains; a sceptre was the
reward of his advice; and the annual ceremony, in which a piece of iron
was heated in the fire, and a smith's hammer was successively handled
by the prince and his nobles, recorded for ages the humble profession
and rational pride of the Turkish nation. Bertezena, their first leader,
signalized their valor and his own in successful combats against the
neighboring tribes; but when he presumed to ask in marriage the daughter
of the great khan, the insolent demand of a slave and a mechanic was
contemptuously rejected. The disgrace was expiated by a more noble
alliance with a princess of China; and the decisive battle which almost
extirpated the nation of the Geougen, established in Tartary the new and
more powerful empire of the Turks. They reigned over the north; but
they confessed the vanity of conquest, by their faithful attachment to
the mountain of their fathers. The royal encampment seldom lost sight
of Mount Altai, from whence the River Irtish descends to water the rich
pastures of the Calmucks, which nourish the largest sheep and oxen in
the world. The soil is fruitful, and the climate mild and temperate: the
happy region was ignorant of earthquake and pestilence; the emperor's
throne was turned towards the East, and a golden wolf on the top of a
spear seemed to guard the entrance of his tent. One of the successors of
Bertezena was tempted by the luxury and superstition of China; but his
design of building cities and temples was defeated by the simple wisdom
of a Barbarian counsellor. "The Turks," he said, "are not equal in
number to one hundredth part of the inhabitants of China. If we balance
their power, and elude their armies, it is because we wander without any
fixed habitations in the exercise of war and hunting. Are we strong? we
advance and conquer: are we feeble? we retire and are concealed. Should
the Turks confine themselves within the walls of cities, the loss of a
battle would be the destruction of their empire. The bonzes preach only
patience, humility, and the renunciation of the world. Such, O king! is
not the religion of heroes." They entertained, with less reluctance, the
doctrines of Zoroaster; but the greatest part of the nation acquiesced,
without inquiry, in the opinions, or rather in the practice, of their
ancestors. The honors of sacrifice were reserved for the supreme deity;
they acknowledged, in rude hymns, their obligations to the air, the
fire, the water, and the earth; and their priests derived some profit
from the art of divination. Their unwritten laws were rigorous and
impartial: theft was punished with a tenfold restitution; adultery,
treason, and murder, with death; and no chastisement could be inflicted
too severe for the rare and inexpiable guilt of cowardice. As the
subject nations marched under the standard of the Turks, their cavalry,
both men and horses, were proudly computed by millions; one of their
effective armies consisted of four hundred thousand soldiers, and in
less than fifty years they were connected in peace and war with the
Romans, the Persians, and the Chinese. In their northern limits, some
vestige may be discovered of the form and situation of Kamptchatka, of
a people of hunters and fishermen, whose sledges were drawn by dogs, and
whose habitations were buried in the earth. The Turks were ignorant of
astronomy; but the observation taken by some learned Chinese, with a
gnomon of eight feet, fixes the royal camp in the latitude of forty-nine
degrees, and marks their extreme progress within three, or at least ten
degrees, of the polar circle. Among their southern conquests the most
splendid was that of the Nephthalites, or white Huns, a polite and
warlike people, who possessed the commercial cities of Bochara and
Samarcand, who had vanquished the Persian monarch, and carried their
victorious arms along the banks, and perhaps to the mouth, of the
Indus. On the side of the West, the Turkish cavalry advanced to the Lake
Mæotis. They passed that lake on the ice. The khan who dwelt at the foot
of Mount Altai issued his commands for the siege of Bosphorus, a city
the voluntary subject of Rome, and whose princes had formerly been the
friends of Athens. To the east, the Turks invaded China, as often as
the vigor of the government was relaxed: and I am taught to read in the
history of the times, that they mowed down their patient enemies like
hemp or grass; and that the mandarins applauded the wisdom of an emperor
who repulsed these Barbarians with golden lances. This extent of savage
empire compelled the Turkish monarch to establish three subordinate
princes of his own blood, who soon forgot their gratitude and
allegiance. The conquerors were enervated by luxury, which is always
fatal except to an industrious people; the policy of China solicited
the vanquished nations to resume their independence and the power of the
Turks was limited to a period of two hundred years. The revival of their
name and dominion in the southern countries of Asia are the events of
a later age; and the dynasties, which succeeded to their native realms,
may sleep in oblivion; since _their_ history bears no relation to the
decline and fall of the Roman empire.



Chapter XLII: State Of The Barbaric World.--Part II.

In the rapid career of conquest, the Turks attacked and subdued the
nation of the Ogors or Varchonites on the banks of the River Til,
which derived the epithet of Black from its dark water or gloomy
forests. The khan of the Ogors was slain with three hundred thousand
of his subjects, and their bodies were scattered over the space of four
days' journey: their surviving countrymen acknowledged the strength and
mercy of the Turks; and a small portion, about twenty thousand warriors,
preferred exile to servitude. They followed the well-known road of the
Volga, cherished the error of the nations who confounded them with the
Avars, and spread the terror of that false though famous appellation,
which had not, however, saved its lawful proprietors from the yoke of
the Turks. After a long and victorious march, the new Avars arrived at
the foot of Mount Caucasus, in the country of the Alani and Circassians,
where they first heard of the splendor and weakness of the Roman empire.
They humbly requested their confederate, the prince of the Alani, to
lead them to this source of riches; and their ambassador, with the
permission of the governor of Lazica, was transported by the Euxine
Sea to Constantinople. The whole city was poured forth to behold with
curiosity and terror the aspect of a strange people: their long hair,
which hung in tresses down their backs, was gracefully bound with
ribbons, but the rest of their habit appeared to imitate the fashion of
the Huns. When they were admitted to the audience of Justinian, Candish,
the first of the ambassadors, addressed the Roman emperor in these
terms: "You see before you, O mighty prince, the representatives of the
strongest and most populous of nations, the invincible, the irresistible
Avars. We are willing to devote ourselves to your service: we are able
to vanquish and destroy all the enemies who now disturb your repose.
But we expect, as the price of our alliance, as the reward of our valor,
precious gifts, annual subsidies, and fruitful possessions." At the time
of this embassy, Justinian had reigned above thirty, he had lived
above seventy-five years: his mind, as well as his body, was feeble
and languid; and the conqueror of Africa and Italy, careless of the
permanent interest of his people, aspired only to end his days in the
bosom even of inglorious peace. In a studied oration, he imparted to
the senate his resolution to dissemble the insult, and to purchase the
friendship of the Avars; and the whole senate, like the mandarins
of China, applauded the incomparable wisdom and foresight of their
sovereign. The instruments of luxury were immediately prepared to
captivate the Barbarians; silken garments, soft and splendid beds, and
chains and collars incrusted with gold. The ambassadors, content with
such liberal reception, departed from Constantinople, and Valentin, one
of the emperor's guards, was sent with a similar character to their camp
at the foot of Mount Caucasus. As their destruction or their success
must be alike advantageous to the empire, he persuaded them to invade
the enemies of Rome; and they were easily tempted, by gifts and
promises, to gratify their ruling inclinations. These fugitives, who
fled before the Turkish arms, passed the Tanais and Borysthenes, and
boldly advanced into the heart of Poland and Germany, violating the
law of nations, and abusing the rights of victory. Before ten years
had elapsed, their camps were seated on the Danube and the Elbe, many
Bulgarian and Sclavonian names were obliterated from the earth, and the
remainder of their tribes are found, as tributaries and vassals, under
the standard of the Avars. The chagan, the peculiar title of their king,
still affected to cultivate the friendship of the emperor; and Justinian
entertained some thoughts of fixing them in Pannonia, to balance the
prevailing power of the Lombards. But the virtue or treachery of an Avar
betrayed the secret enmity and ambitious designs of their countrymen;
and they loudly complained of the timid, though jealous policy, of
detaining their ambassadors, and denying the arms which they had been
allowed to purchase in the capital of the empire.

Perhaps the apparent change in the dispositions of the emperors may be
ascribed to the embassy which was received from the conquerors of the
Avars. The immense distance which eluded their arms could not extinguish
their resentment: the Turkish ambassadors pursued the footsteps of
the vanquished to the Jaik, the Volga, Mount Caucasus, the Euxine
and Constantinople, and at length appeared before the successor of
Constantine, to request that he would not espouse the cause of
rebels and fugitives. Even commerce had some share in this remarkable
negotiation: and the Sogdoites, who were now the tributaries of the
Turks, embraced the fair occasion of opening, by the north of the
Caspian, a new road for the importation of Chinese silk into the Roman
empire. The Persian, who preferred the navigation of Ceylon, had stopped
the caravans of Bochara and Samarcand: their silk was contemptuously
burnt: some Turkish ambassadors died in Persia, with a suspicion of
poison; and the great khan permitted his faithful vassal Maniach, the
prince of the Sogdoites, to propose, at the Byzantine court, a treaty of
alliance against their common enemies. Their splendid apparel and rich
presents, the fruit of Oriental luxury, distinguished Maniach and his
colleagues from the rude savages of the North: their letters, in the
Scythian character and language, announced a people who had attained the
rudiments of science: they enumerated the conquests, they offered
the friendship and military aid of the Turks; and their sincerity was
attested by direful imprecations (if they were guilty of falsehood)
against their own head, and the head of Disabul their master. The Greek
prince entertained with hospitable regard the ambassadors of a remote
and powerful monarch: the sight of silk-worms and looms disappointed the
hopes of the Sogdoites; the emperor renounced, or seemed to renounce,
the fugitive Avars, but he accepted the alliance of the Turks; and the
ratification of the treaty was carried by a Roman minister to the foot
of Mount Altai. Under the successors of Justinian, the friendship of the
two nations was cultivated by frequent and cordial intercourse; the most
favored vassals were permitted to imitate the example of the great khan,
and one hundred and six Turks, who, on various occasions, had visited
Constantinople, departed at the same time for their native country. The
duration and length of the journey from the Byzantine court to Mount
Altai are not specified: it might have been difficult to mark a road
through the nameless deserts, the mountains, rivers, and morasses of
Tartary; but a curious account has been preserved of the reception of
the Roman ambassadors at the royal camp. After they had been purified
with fire and incense, according to a rite still practised under the
sons of Zingis, they were introduced to the presence of Disabul. In
a valley of the Golden Mountain, they found the great khan in his tent,
seated in a chair with wheels, to which a horse might be occasionally
harnessed. As soon as they had delivered their presents, which were
received by the proper officers, they exposed, in a florid oration, the
wishes of the Roman emperor, that victory might attend the arms of the
Turks, that their reign might be long and prosperous, and that a strict
alliance, without envy or deceit, might forever be maintained between
the two most powerful nations of the earth. The answer of Disabul
corresponded with these friendly professions, and the ambassadors were
seated by his side, at a banquet which lasted the greatest part of the
day: the tent was surrounded with silk hangings, and a Tartar liquor was
served on the table, which possessed at least the intoxicating qualities
of wine. The entertainment of the succeeding day was more sumptuous; the
silk hangings of the second tent were embroidered in various figures;
and the royal seat, the cups, and the vases, were of gold. A third
pavilion was supported by columns of gilt wood; a bed of pure and massy
gold was raised on four peacocks of the same metal: and before the
entrance of the tent, dishes, basins, and statues of solid silver, and
admirable art, were ostentatiously piled in wagons, the monuments of
valor rather than of industry. When Disabul led his armies against the
frontiers of Persia, his Roman allies followed many days the march of
the Turkish camp, nor were they dismissed till they had enjoyed their
precedency over the envoy of the great king, whose loud and intemperate
clamors interrupted the silence of the royal banquet. The power and
ambition of Chosroes cemented the union of the Turks and Romans,
who touched his dominions on either side: but those distant nations,
regardless of each other, consulted the dictates of interest, without
recollecting the obligations of oaths and treaties. While the successor
of Disabul celebrated his father's obsequies, he was saluted by the
ambassadors of the emperor Tiberius, who proposed an invasion of Persia,
and sustained, with firmness, the angry and perhaps the just reproaches
of that haughty Barbarian. "You see my ten fingers," said the great
khan, and he applied them to his mouth. "You Romans speak with as many
tongues, but they are tongues of deceit and perjury. To me you hold
one language, to my subjects another; and the nations are successively
deluded by your perfidious eloquence. You precipitate your allies
into war and danger, you enjoy their labors, and you neglect your
benefactors. Hasten your return, inform your master that a Turk is
incapable of uttering or forgiving falsehood, and that he shall speedily
meet the punishment which he deserves. While he solicits my friendship
with flattering and hollow words, he is sunk to a confederate of
my fugitive Varchonites. If I condescend to march against those
contemptible slaves, they will tremble at the sound of our whips; they
will be trampled, like a nest of ants, under the feet of my innumerable
cavalry. I am not ignorant of the road which they have followed to
invade your empire; nor can I be deceived by the vain pretence, that
Mount Caucasus is the impregnable barrier of the Romans. I know the
course of the Niester, the Danube, and the Hebrus; the most warlike
nations have yielded to the arms of the Turks; and from the rising to
the setting sun, the earth is my inheritance." Notwithstanding this
menace, a sense of mutual advantage soon renewed the alliance of
the Turks and Romans: but the pride of the great khan survived his
resentment; and when he announced an important conquest to his friend
the emperor Maurice, he styled himself the master of the seven races,
and the lord of the seven climates of the world.

Disputes have often arisen between the sovereigns of Asia for the title
of king of the world; while the contest has proved that it could not
belong to either of the competitors. The kingdom of the Turks was
bounded by the Oxus or Gihon; and _Touran_ was separated by that great
river from the rival monarchy of _Iran_, or Persia, which in a smaller
compass contained perhaps a larger measure of power and population. The
Persians, who alternately invaded and repulsed the Turks and the Romans,
were still ruled by the house of Sassan, which ascended the throne
three hundred years before the accession of Justinian. His contemporary,
Cabades, or Kobad, had been successful in war against the emperor
Anastasius; but the reign of that prince was distracted by civil and
religious troubles. A prisoner in the hands of his subjects, an exile
among the enemies of Persia, he recovered his liberty by prostituting
the honor of his wife, and regained his kingdom with the dangerous and
mercenary aid of the Barbarians, who had slain his father. His nobles
were suspicious that Kobad never forgave the authors of his expulsion,
or even those of his restoration. The people was deluded and inflamed by
the fanaticism of Mazdak, who asserted the community of women, and the
equality of mankind, whilst he appropriated the richest lands and
most beautiful females to the use of his sectaries. The view of these
disorders, which had been fomented by his laws and example, imbittered
the declining age of the Persian monarch; and his fears were increased
by the consciousness of his design to reverse the natural and customary
order of succession, in favor of his third and most favored son, so
famous under the names of Chosroes and Nushirvan. To render the youth
more illustrious in the eyes of the nations, Kobad was desirous that he
should be adopted by the emperor Justin: the hope of peace inclined
the Byzantine court to accept this singular proposal; and Chosroes might
have acquired a specious claim to the inheritance of his Roman parent.
But the future mischief was diverted by the advice of the quæstor
Proclus: a difficulty was started, whether the adoption should
be performed as a civil or military rite; the treaty was abruptly
dissolved; and the sense of this indignity sunk deep into the mind
of Chosroes, who had already advanced to the Tigris on his road to
Constantinople. His father did not long survive the disappointment of
his wishes: the testament of their deceased sovereign was read in the
assembly of the nobles; and a powerful faction, prepared for the event,
and regardless of the priority of age, exalted Chosroes to the throne of
Persia. He filled that throne during a prosperous period of forty-eight
years; and the Justice of Nushirvan is celebrated as the theme of
immortal praise by the nations of the East.

But the justice of kings is understood by themselves, and even by their
subjects, with an ample indulgence for the gratification of passion and
interest. The virtue of Chosroes was that of a conqueror, who, in the
measures of peace and war, is excited by ambition, and restrained by
prudence; who confounds the greatness with the happiness of a nation,
and calmly devotes the lives of thousands to the fame, or even the
amusement, of a single man. In his domestic administration, the just
Nushirvan would merit in our feelings the appellation of a tyrant. His
two elder brothers had been deprived of their fair expectations of the
diadem: their future life, between the supreme rank and the condition of
subjects, was anxious to themselves and formidable to their master: fear
as well as revenge might tempt them to rebel: the slightest evidence
of a conspiracy satisfied the author of their wrongs; and the repose of
Chosroes was secured by the death of these unhappy princes, with their
families and adherents. One guiltless youth was saved and dismissed by
the compassion of a veteran general; and this act of humanity, which was
revealed by his son, overbalanced the merit of reducing twelve nations
to the obedience of Persia. The zeal and prudence of Mebodes had fixed
the diadem on the head of Chosroes himself; but he delayed to attend the
royal summons, till he had performed the duties of a military review: he
was instantly commanded to repair to the iron tripod, which stood before
the gate of the palace, where it was death to relieve or approach the
victim; and Mebodes languished several days before his sentence was
pronounced, by the inflexible pride and calm ingratitude of the son
of Kobad. But the people, more especially in the East, is disposed to
forgive, and even to applaud, the cruelty which strikes at the loftiest
heads; at the slaves of ambition, whose voluntary choice has exposed
them to live in the smiles, and to perish by the frown, of a capricious
monarch. In the execution of the laws which he had no temptation to
violate; in the punishment of crimes which attacked his own dignity, as
well as the happiness of individuals; Nushirvan, or Chosroes, deserved
the appellation of _just_. His government was firm, rigorous, and
impartial. It was the first labor of his reign to abolish the dangerous
theory of common or equal possessions: the lands and women which the
sectaries of Mazdak has usurped were restored to their lawful owners;
and the temperate chastisement of the fanatics or impostors confirmed
the domestic rights of society. Instead of listening with blind
confidence to a favorite minister, he established four viziers over
the four great provinces of his empire, Assyria, Media, Persia, and
Bactriana. In the choice of judges, præfects, and counsellors, he strove
to remove the mask which is always worn in the presence of kings: he
wished to substitute the natural order of talents for the accidental
distinctions of birth and fortune; he professed, in specious language,
his intention to prefer those men who carried the poor in their bosoms,
and to banish corruption from the seat of justice, as dogs were excluded
from the temples of the Magi. The code of laws of the first Artaxerxes
was revived and published as the rule of the magistrates; but the
assurance of speedy punishment was the best security of their virtue.
Their behavior was inspected by a thousand eyes, their words were
overheard by a thousand ears, the secret or public agents of the
throne; and the provinces, from the Indian to the Arabian confines,
were enlightened by the frequent visits of a sovereign, who affected
to emulate his celestial brother in his rapid and salutary career.
Education and agriculture he viewed as the two objects most deserving of
his care. In every city of Persia orphans, and the children of the poor,
were maintained and instructed at the public expense; the daughters were
given in marriage to the richest citizens of their own rank, and the
sons, according to their different talents, were employed in mechanic
trades, or promoted to more honorable service. The deserted villages
were relieved by his bounty; to the peasants and farmers who were found
incapable of cultivating their lands, he distributed cattle, seed, and
the instruments of husbandry; and the rare and inestimable treasure of
fresh water was parsimoniously managed, and skilfully dispersed over the
arid territory of Persia. The prosperity of that kingdom was the effect
and evidence of his virtues; his vices are those of Oriental despotism;
but in the long competition between Chosroes and Justinian, the
advantage both of merit and fortune is almost always on the side of the
Barbarian.

To the praise of justice Nushirvan united the reputation of knowledge;
and the seven Greek philosophers, who visited his court, were invited
and deceived by the strange assurance, that a disciple of Plato
was seated on the Persian throne. Did they expect, that a prince,
strenuously exercised in the toils of war and government, should
agitate, with dexterity like their own, the abstruse and profound
questions which amused the leisure of the schools of Athens? Could they
hope that the precepts of philosophy should direct the life, and control
the passions, of a despot, whose infancy had been taught to consider his
absolute and fluctuating will as the only rule of moral obligation? The
studies of Chosroes were ostentatious and superficial: but his example
awakened the curiosity of an ingenious people, and the light of science
was diffused over the dominions of Persia. At Gondi Sapor, in the
neighborhood of the royal city of Susa, an academy of physic was
founded, which insensibly became a liberal school of poetry, philosophy,
and rhetoric. The annals of the monarchy were composed; and while recent
and authentic history might afford some useful lessons both to the
prince and people, the darkness of the first ages was embellished by the
giants, the dragons, and the fabulous heroes of Oriental romance. Every
learned or confident stranger was enriched by the bounty, and flattered
by the conversation, of the monarch: he nobly rewarded a Greek
physician, by the deliverance of three thousand, captives; and the
sophists, who contended for his favor, were exasperated by the wealth
and insolence of Uranius, their more successful rival. Nushirvan
believed, or at least respected, the religion of the Magi; and some
traces of persecution may be discovered in his reign. Yet he allowed
himself freely to compare the tenets of the various sects; and the
theological disputes, in which he frequently presided, diminished the
authority of the priest, and enlightened the minds of the people. At his
command, the most celebrated writers of Greece and India were translated
into the Persian language; a smooth and elegant idiom, recommended by
Mahomet to the use of paradise; though it is branded with the epithets
of savage and unmusical, by the ignorance and presumption of Agathias.
Yet the Greek historian might reasonably wonder that it should be
found possible to execute an entire version of Plato and Aristotle in
a foreign dialect, which had not been framed to express the spirit of
freedom and the subtilties of philosophic disquisition. And, if the
reason of the Stagyrite might be equally dark, or equally intelligible
in every tongue, the dramatic art and verbal argumentation of the
disciple of Socrates, appear to be indissolubly mingled with the grace
and perfection of his Attic style. In the search of universal knowledge,
Nushirvan was informed, that the moral and political fables of Pilpay,
an ancient Brachman, were preserved with jealous reverence among the
treasures of the kings of India. The physician Perozes was secretly
despatched to the banks of the Ganges, with instructions to procure,
at any price, the communication of this valuable work. His dexterity
obtained a transcript, his learned diligence accomplished the
translation; and the fables of Pilpay were read and admired in the
assembly of Nushirvan and his nobles. The Indian original, and the
Persian copy, have long since disappeared; but this venerable monument
has been saved by the curiosity of the Arabian caliphs, revived in
the modern Persic, the Turkish, the Syriac, the Hebrew, and the Greek
idioms, and transfused through successive versions into the modern
languages of Europe. In their present form, the peculiar character, the
manners and religion of the Hindoos, are completely obliterated; and the
intrinsic merit of the fables of Pilpay is far inferior to the concise
elegance of Phædrus, and the native graces of La Fontaine. Fifteen moral
and political sentences are illustrated in a series of apologues: but
the composition is intricate, the narrative prolix, and the precept
obvious and barren. Yet the Brachman may assume the merit of
_inventing_ a pleasing fiction, which adorns the nakedness of truth, and
alleviates, perhaps, to a royal ear, the harshness of instruction. With
a similar design, to admonish kings that they are strong only in the
strength of their subjects, the same Indians invented the game of chess,
which was likewise introduced into Persia under the reign of Nushirvan.



Chapter XLII: State Of The Barbaric World.--Part III.

The son of Kobad found his kingdom involved in a war with the successor
of Constantine; and the anxiety of his domestic situation inclined
him to grant the suspension of arms, which Justinian was impatient to
purchase. Chosroes saw the Roman ambassadors at his feet. He accepted
eleven thousand pounds of gold, as the price of an _endless_ or
indefinite peace: some mutual exchanges were regulated; the Persian
assumed the guard of the gates of Caucasus, and the demolition of Dara
was suspended, on condition that it should never be made the residence
of the general of the East. This interval of repose had been solicited,
and was diligently improved, by the ambition of the emperor: his African
conquests were the first fruits of the Persian treaty; and the avarice
of Chosroes was soothed by a large portion of the spoils of Carthage,
which his ambassadors required in a tone of pleasantry and under the
color of friendship. But the trophies of Belisarius disturbed the
slumbers of the great king; and he heard with astonishment, envy, and
fear, that Sicily, Italy, and Rome itself, had been reduced, in three
rapid campaigns, to the obedience of Justinian. Unpractised in the art
of violating treaties, he secretly excited his bold and subtle vassal
Almondar. That prince of the Saracens, who resided at Hira, had not been
included in the general peace, and still waged an obscure war against
his rival Arethas, the chief of the tribe of Gassan, and confederate of
the empire. The subject of their dispute was an extensive sheep-walk
in the desert to the south of Palmyra. An immemorial tribute for the
license of pasture appeared to attest the rights of Almondar, while
the Gassanite appealed to the Latin name of strata, a paved road, as an
unquestionable evidence of the sovereignty and labors of the Romans. The
two monarchs supported the cause of their respective vassals; and
the Persian Arab, without expecting the event of a slow and doubtful
arbitration, enriched his flying camp with the spoil and captives of
Syria. Instead of repelling the arms, Justinian attempted to seduce the
fidelity of Almondar, while he called from the extremities of the earth
the nations of Æthiopia and Scythia to invade the dominions of his
rival. But the aid of such allies was distant and precarious, and the
discovery of this hostile correspondence justified the complaints of
the Goths and Armenians, who implored, almost at the same time, the
protection of Chosroes. The descendants of Arsaces, who were still
numerous in Armenia, had been provoked to assert the last relics of
national freedom and hereditary rank; and the ambassadors of Vitiges
had secretly traversed the empire to expose the instant, and almost
inevitable, danger of the kingdom of Italy. Their representations were
uniform, weighty, and effectual. "We stand before your throne, the
advocates of your interest as well as of our own. The ambitious and
faithless Justinian aspires to be the sole master of the world. Since
the endless peace, which betrayed the common freedom of mankind, that
prince, your ally in words, your enemy in actions, has alike insulted
his friends and foes, and has filled the earth with blood and confusion.
Has he not violated the privileges of Armenia, the independence of
Colchos, and the wild liberty of the Tzanian mountains? Has he not
usurped, with equal avidity, the city of Bosphorus on the frozen Mæotis,
and the vale of palm-trees on the shores of the Red Sea? The Moors, the
Vandals, the Goths, have been successively oppressed, and each nation
has calmly remained the spectator of their neighbor's ruin. Embrace, O
king! the favorable moment; the East is left without defence, while the
armies of Justinian and his renowned general are detained in the distant
regions of the West. If you hesitate or delay, Belisarius and his
victorious troops will soon return from the Tyber to the Tigris, and
Persia may enjoy the wretched consolation of being the last devoured."
By such arguments, Chosroes was easily persuaded to imitate the example
which he condemned: but the Persian, ambitious of military fame,
disdained the inactive warfare of a rival, who issued his sanguinary
commands from the secure station of the Byzantine palace.

Whatever might be the provocations of Chosroes, he abused the confidence
of treaties; and the just reproaches of dissimulation and falsehood
could only be concealed by the lustre of his victories. The Persian
army, which had been assembled in the plains of Babylon, prudently
declined the strong cities of Mesopotamia, and followed the western
bank of the Euphrates, till the small, though populous, town of Dura
presumed to arrest the progress of the great king. The gates of Dura,
by treachery and surprise, were burst open; and as soon as Chosroes had
stained his cimeter with the blood of the inhabitants, he dismissed the
ambassador of Justinian to inform his master in what place he had left
the enemy of the Romans. The conqueror still affected the praise of
humanity and justice; and as he beheld a noble matron with her infant
rudely dragged along the ground, he sighed, he wept, and implored the
divine justice to punish the author of these calamities. Yet the herd
of twelve thousand captives was ransomed for two hundred pounds of gold;
the neighboring bishop of Sergiopolis pledged his faith for the payment:
and in the subsequent year the unfeeling avarice of Chosroes exacted
the penalty of an obligation which it was generous to contract and
impossible to discharge. He advanced into the heart of Syria: but a
feeble enemy, who vanished at his approach, disappointed him of the
honor of victory; and as he could not hope to establish his dominion,
the Persian king displayed in this inroad the mean and rapacious vices
of a robber. Hierapolis, Berrhæa or Aleppo, Apamea and Chalcis, were
successively besieged: they redeemed their safety by a ransom of gold
or silver, proportioned to their respective strength and opulence; and
their new master enforced, without observing, the terms of capitulation.
Educated in the religion of the Magi, he exercised, without remorse, the
lucrative trade of sacrilege; and, after stripping of its gold and gems
a piece of the true cross, he generously restored the naked relic to the
devotion of the Christians of Apamea. No more than fourteen years had
elapsed since Antioch was ruined by an earthquake; but the queen of
the East, the new Theopolis, had been raised from the ground by the
liberality of Justinian; and the increasing greatness of the buildings
and the people already erased the memory of this recent disaster. On one
side, the city was defended by the mountain, on the other by the River
Orontes; but the most accessible part was commanded by a superior
eminence: the proper remedies were rejected, from the despicable fear
of discovering its weakness to the enemy; and Germanus, the emperor's
nephew, refused to trust his person and dignity within the walls of
a besieged city. The people of Antioch had inherited the vain and
satirical genius of their ancestors: they were elated by a sudden
reënforcement of six thousand soldiers; they disdained the offers of
an easy capitulation and their intemperate clamors insulted from the
ramparts the majesty of the great king. Under his eye the Persian
myriads mounted with scaling-ladders to the assault; the Roman
mercenaries fled through the opposite gate of Daphne; and the generous
assistance of the youth of Antioch served only to aggravate the miseries
of their country. As Chosroes, attended by the ambassadors of Justinian,
was descending from the mountain, he affected, in a plaintive voice, to
deplore the obstinacy and ruin of that unhappy people; but the slaughter
still raged with unrelenting fury; and the city, at the command of a
Barbarian, was delivered to the flames. The cathedral of Antioch was
indeed preserved by the avarice, not the piety, of the conqueror: a more
honorable exemption was granted to the church of St. Julian, and the
quarter of the town where the ambassadors resided; some distant streets
were saved by the shifting of the wind, and the walls still subsisted
to protect, and soon to betray, their new inhabitants. Fanaticism had
defaced the ornaments of Daphne, but Chosroes breathed a purer air
amidst her groves and fountains; and some idolaters in his train might
sacrifice with impunity to the nymphs of that elegant retreat. Eighteen
miles below Antioch, the River Orontes falls into the Mediterranean. The
haughty Persian visited the term of his conquests; and, after bathing
alone in the sea, he offered a solemn sacrifice of thanksgiving to the
sun, or rather to the Creator of the sun, whom the Magi adored. If this
act of superstition offended the prejudices of the Syrians, they were
pleased by the courteous and even eager attention with which he assisted
at the games of the circus; and as Chosroes had heard that the _blue_
faction was espoused by the emperor, his peremptory command secured the
victory of the _green_ charioteer. From the discipline of his camp the
people derived more solid consolation; and they interceded in vain for
the life of a soldier who had too faithfully copied the rapine of the
just Nushirvan. At length, fatigued, though unsatiated, with the spoil
of Syria, he slowly moved to the Euphrates, formed a temporary bridge
in the neighborhood of Barbalissus, and defined the space of three
days for the entire passage of his numerous host. After his return,
he founded, at the distance of one day's journey from the palace of
Ctesiphon, a new city, which perpetuated the joint names of Chosroes
and of Antioch. The Syrian captives recognized the form and situation
of their native abodes: baths and a stately circus were constructed for
their use; and a colony of musicians and charioteers revived in Assyria
the pleasures of a Greek capital. By the munificence of the royal
founder, a liberal allowance was assigned to these fortunate exiles; and
they enjoyed the singular privilege of bestowing freedom on the slaves
whom they acknowledged as their kinsmen. Palestine, and the holy wealth
of Jerusalem, were the next objects that attracted the ambition, or
rather the avarice, of Chosroes. Constantinople, and the palace of the
Cæsars, no longer appeared impregnable or remote; and his aspiring fancy
already covered Asia Minor with the troops, and the Black Sea with the
navies, of Persia.

These hopes might have been realized, if the conqueror of Italy had
not been seasonably recalled to the defence of the East. While Chosroes
pursued his ambitious designs on the coast of the Euxine, Belisarius,
at the head of an army without pay or discipline, encamped beyond the
Euphrates, within six miles of Nisibis. He meditated, by a skilful
operation, to draw the Persians from their impregnable citadel, and
improving his advantage in the field, either to intercept their retreat,
or perhaps to enter the gates with the flying Barbarians. He advanced
one day's journey on the territories of Persia, reduced the fortress of
Sisaurane, and sent the governor, with eight hundred chosen horsemen,
to serve the emperor in his Italian wars. He detached Arethas and his
Arabs, supported by twelve hundred Romans, to pass the Tigris, and to
ravage the harvests of Assyria, a fruitful province, long exempt from
the calamities of war. But the plans of Belisarius were disconcerted by
the untractable spirit of Arethas, who neither returned to the camp,
nor sent any intelligence of his motions. The Roman general was fixed
in anxious expectation to the same spot; the time of action elapsed, the
ardent sun of Mesopotamia inflamed with fevers the blood of his European
soldiers; and the stationary troops and officers of Syria affected to
tremble for the safety of their defenceless cities. Yet this diversion
had already succeeded in forcing Chosroes to return with loss and
precipitation; and if the skill of Belisarius had been seconded by
discipline and valor, his success might have satisfied the sanguine
wishes of the public, who required at his hands the conquest of
Ctesiphon, and the deliverance of the captives of Antioch. At the end of
the campaign, he was recalled to Constantinople by an ungrateful court,
but the dangers of the ensuing spring restored his confidence and
command; and the hero, almost alone, was despatched, with the speed of
post-horses, to repel, by his name and presence, the invasion of Syria.
He found the Roman generals, among whom was a nephew of Justinian,
imprisoned by their fears in the fortifications of Hierapolis. But
instead of listening to their timid counsels, Belisarius commanded them
to follow him to Europus, where he had resolved to collect his forces,
and to execute whatever God should inspire him to achieve against
the enemy. His firm attitude on the banks of the Euphrates restrained
Chosroes from advancing towards Palestine; and he received with art and
dignity the ambassadors, or rather spies, of the Persian monarch. The
plain between Hierapolis and the river was covered with the squadrons of
cavalry, six thousand hunters, tall and robust, who pursued their
game without the apprehension of an enemy. On the opposite bank the
ambassadors descried a thousand Armenian horse, who appeared to guard
the passage of the Euphrates. The tent of Belisarius was of the coarsest
linen, the simple equipage of a warrior who disdained the luxury of the
East. Around his tent, the nations who marched under his standard were
arranged with skilful confusion. The Thracians and Illyrians were posted
in the front, the Heruli and Goths in the centre; the prospect was
closed by the Moors and Vandals, and their loose array seemed to
multiply their numbers. Their dress was light and active; one soldier
carried a whip, another a sword, a third a bow, a fourth, perhaps,
a battle axe, and the whole picture exhibited the intrepidity of the
troops and the vigilance of the general. Chosroes was deluded by
the address, and awed by the genius, of the lieutenant of Justinian.
Conscious of the merit, and ignorant of the force, of his antagonist,
he dreaded a decisive battle in a distant country, from whence not
a Persian might return to relate the melancholy tale. The great king
hastened to repass the Euphrates; and Belisarius pressed his retreat, by
affecting to oppose a measure so salutary to the empire, and which could
scarcely have been prevented by an army of a hundred thousand men. Envy
might suggest to ignorance and pride, that the public enemy had been
suffered to escape: but the African and Gothic triumphs are less
glorious than this safe and bloodless victory, in which neither fortune,
nor the valor of the soldiers, can subtract any part of the general's
renown. The second removal of Belisarius from the Persian to the Italian
war revealed the extent of his personal merit, which had corrected or
supplied the want of discipline and courage. Fifteen generals, without
concert or skill, led through the mountains of Armenia an army of thirty
thousand Romans, inattentive to their signals, their ranks, and their
ensigns. Four thousand Persians, intrenched in the camp of Dubis,
vanquished, almost without a combat, this disorderly multitude; their
useless arms were scattered along the road, and their horses sunk under
the fatigue of their rapid flight. But the Arabs of the Roman party
prevailed over their brethren; the Armenians returned to their
allegiance; the cities of Dara and Edessa resisted a sudden assault and
a regular siege, and the calamities of war were suspended by those
of pestilence. A tacit or formal agreement between the two sovereigns
protected the tranquillity of the Eastern frontier; and the arms of
Chosroes were confined to the Colchian or Lazic war, which has been too
minutely described by the historians of the times.

The extreme length of the Euxine Sea from Constantinople to the mouth of
the Phasis, may be computed as a voyage of nine days, and a measure
of seven hundred miles. From the Iberian Caucasus, the most lofty
and craggy mountains of Asia, that river descends with such oblique
vehemence, that in a short space it is traversed by one hundred and
twenty bridges. Nor does the stream become placid and navigable, till it
reaches the town of Sarapana, five days' journey from the Cyrus, which
flows from the same hills, but in a contrary direction to the Caspian
Lake. The proximity of these rivers has suggested the practice, or at
least the idea, of wafting the precious merchandise of India down the
Oxus, over the Caspian, up the Cyrus, and with the current of the Phasis
into the Euxine and Mediterranean Seas. As it successively collects the
streams of the plain of Colchos, the Phasis moves with diminished speed,
though accumulated weight. At the mouth it is sixty fathom deep, and
half a league broad, but a small woody island is interposed in the midst
of the channel; the water, so soon as it has deposited an earthy or
metallic sediment, floats on the surface of the waves, and is no longer
susceptible of corruption. In a course of one hundred miles, forty of
which are navigable for large vessels, the Phasis divides the celebrated
region of Colchos, or Mingrelia, which, on three sides, is fortified
by the Iberian and Armenian mountains, and whose maritime coast extends
about two hundred miles from the neighborhood of Trebizond to Dioscurias
and the confines of Circassia. Both the soil and climate are relaxed
by excessive moisture: twenty-eight rivers, besides the Phasis and his
dependent streams, convey their waters to the sea; and the hollowness
of the ground appears to indicate the subterraneous channels between the
Euxine and the Caspian. In the fields where wheat or barley is sown, the
earth is too soft to sustain the action of the plough; but the _gom_,
a small grain, not unlike the millet or coriander seed, supplies the
ordinary food of the people; and the use of bread is confined to the
prince and his nobles. Yet the vintage is more plentiful than the
harvest; and the bulk of the stems, as well as the quality of the wine,
display the unassisted powers of nature. The same powers continually
tend to overshadow the face of the country with thick forests; the
timber of the hills, and the flax of the plains, contribute to the
abundance of naval stores; the wild and tame animals, the horse, the ox,
and the hog, are remarkably prolific, and the name of the pheasant is
expressive of his native habitation on the banks of the Phasis. The gold
mines to the south of Trebizond, which are still worked with sufficient
profit, were a subject of national dispute between Justinian and
Chosroes; and it is not unreasonable to believe, that a vein of precious
metal may be equally diffused through the circle of the hills, although
these secret treasures are neglected by the laziness, or concealed by
the prudence, of the Mingrelians. The waters, impregnated with particles
of gold, are carefully strained through sheep-skins or fleeces; but this
expedient, the groundwork perhaps of a marvellous fable, affords a
faint image of the wealth extracted from a virgin earth by the power
and industry of ancient kings. Their silver palaces and golden chambers
surpass our belief; but the fame of their riches is said to have excited
the enterprising avarice of the Argonauts. Tradition has affirmed, with
some color of reason, that Egypt planted on the Phasis a learned and
polite colony, which manufactured linen, built navies, and invented
geographical maps. The ingenuity of the moderns has peopled, with
flourishing cities and nations, the isthmus between the Euxine and the
Caspian; and a lively writer, observing the resemblance of climate, and,
in his apprehension, of trade, has not hesitated to pronounce Colchos
the Holland of antiquity.

But the riches of Colchos shine only through the darkness of conjecture
or tradition; and its genuine history presents a uniform scene of
rudeness and poverty. If one hundred and thirty languages were spoken
in the market of Dioscurias, they were the imperfect idioms of so many
savage tribes or families, sequestered from each other in the valleys of
Mount Caucasus; and their separation, which diminished the importance,
must have multiplied the number, of their rustic capitals. In the
present state of Mingrelia, a village is an assemblage of huts within
a wooden fence; the fortresses are seated in the depths of forests; the
princely town of Cyta, or Cotatis, consists of two hundred houses, and a
stone edifice appertains only to the magnificence of kings. Twelve ships
from Constantinople, and about sixty barks, laden with the fruits of
industry, annually cast anchor on the coast; and the list of Colchian
exports is much increased, since the natives had only slaves and hides
to offer in exchange for the corn and salt which they purchased from
the subjects of Justinian. Not a vestige can be found of the art, the
knowledge, or the navigation, of the ancient Colchians: few Greeks
desired or dared to pursue the footsteps of the Argonauts; and even the
marks of an Egyptian colony are lost on a nearer approach. The rite of
circumcision is practised only by the Mahometans of the Euxine; and the
curled hair and swarthy complexion of Africa no longer disfigure the
most perfect of the human race. It is in the adjacent climates of
Georgia, Mingrelia, and Circassia, that nature has placed, at least to
our eyes, the model of beauty in the shape of the limbs, the color
of the skin, the symmetry of the features, and the expression of the
countenance. According to the destination of the two sexes, the men
seemed formed for action, the women for love; and the perpetual supply
of females from Mount Caucasus has purified the blood, and improved
the breed, of the southern nations of Asia. The proper district of
Mingrelia, a portion only of the ancient Colchos, has long sustained
an exportation of twelve thousand slaves. The number of prisoners or
criminals would be inadequate to the annual demand; but the common
people are in a state of servitude to their lords; the exercise of
fraud or rapine is unpunished in a lawless community; and the market is
continually replenished by the abuse of civil and paternal authority.
Such a trade, which reduces the human species to the level of cattle,
may tend to encourage marriage and population, since the multitude of
children enriches their sordid and inhuman parent. But this source of
impure wealth must inevitably poison the national manners, obliterate
the sense of honor and virtue, and almost extinguish the instincts of
nature: the _Christians_ of Georgia and Mingrelia are the most dissolute
of mankind; and their children, who, in a tender age, are sold into
foreign slavery, have already learned to imitate the rapine of the
father and the prostitution of the mother. Yet, amidst the rudest
ignorance, the untaught natives discover a singular dexterity both of
mind and hand; and although the want of union and discipline exposes
them to their more powerful neighbors, a bold and intrepid spirit has
animated the Colchians of every age. In the host of Xerxes, they served
on foot; and their arms were a dagger or a javelin, a wooden casque, and
a buckler of raw hides. But in their own country the use of cavalry has
more generally prevailed: the meanest of the peasants disdained to walk;
the martial nobles are possessed, perhaps, of two hundred horses;
and above five thousand are numbered in the train of the prince of
Mingrelia. The Colchian government has been always a pure and hereditary
kingdom; and the authority of the sovereign is only restrained by the
turbulence of his subjects. Whenever they were obedient, he could lead
a numerous army into the field; but some faith is requisite to believe,
that the single tribe of the Suanians as composed of two hundred
thousand soldiers, or that the population of Mingrelia now amounts to
four millions of inhabitants.



Chapter XLII: State Of The Barbaric World.--Part IV.

It was the boast of the Colchians, that their ancestors had checked
the victories of Sesostris; and the defeat of the Egyptian is less
incredible than his successful progress as far as the foot of Mount
Caucasus. They sunk without any memorable effort, under the arms of
Cyrus; followed in distant wars the standard of the great king, and
presented him every fifth year with one hundred boys, and as many
virgins, the fairest produce of the land. Yet he accepted this _gift_
like the gold and ebony of India, the frankincense of the Arabs, or the
negroes and ivory of Æthiopia: the Colchians were not subject to the
dominion of a satrap, and they continued to enjoy the name as well
as substance of national independence. After the fall of the Persian
empire, Mithridates, king of Pontus, added Colchos to the wide circle
of his dominions on the Euxine; and when the natives presumed to request
that his son might reign over them, he bound the ambitious youth in
chains of gold, and delegated a servant in his place. In pursuit of
Mithridates, the Romans advanced to the banks of the Phasis, and their
galleys ascended the river till they reached the camp of Pompey and
his legions. But the senate, and afterwards the emperors, disdained to
reduce that distant and useless conquest into the form of a province.
The family of a Greek rhetorician was permitted to reign in Colchos and
the adjacent kingdoms from the time of Mark Antony to that of Nero;
and after the race of Polemo was extinct, the eastern Pontus, which
preserved his name, extended no farther than the neighborhood of
Trebizond. Beyond these limits the fortifications of Hyssus, of Apsarus,
of the Phasis, of Dioscurias or Sebastopolis, and of Pityus, were
guarded by sufficient detachments of horse and foot; and six princes
of Colchos received their diadems from the lieutenants of Cæsar. One of
these lieutenants, the eloquent and philosophic Arrian, surveyed,
and has described, the Euxine coast, under the reign of Hadrian. The
garrison which he reviewed at the mouth of the Phasis consisted of
four hundred chosen legionaries; the brick walls and towers, the double
ditch, and the military engines on the rampart, rendered this place
inaccessible to the Barbarians: but the new suburbs which had been built
by the merchants and veterans, required, in the opinion of Arrian, some
external defence. As the strength of the empire was gradually impaired,
the Romans stationed on the Phasis were neither withdrawn nor expelled;
and the tribe of the Lazi, whose posterity speak a foreign dialect, and
inhabit the sea coast of Trebizond, imposed their name and dominion on
the ancient kingdom of Colchos. Their independence was soon invaded by
a formidable neighbor, who had acquired, by arms and treaties, the
sovereignty of Iberia. The dependent king of Lazica received his sceptre
at the hands of the Persian monarch, and the successors of Constantine
acquiesced in this injurious claim, which was proudly urged as a right
of immemorial prescription. In the beginning of the sixth century, their
influence was restored by the introduction of Christianity, which the
Mingrelians still profess with becoming zeal, without understanding
the doctrines, or observing the precepts, of their religion. After the
decease of his father, Zathus was exalted to the regal dignity by the
favor of the great king; but the pious youth abhorred the ceremonies
of the Magi, and sought, in the palace of Constantinople, an orthodox
baptism, a noble wife, and the alliance of the emperor Justin. The king
of Lazica was solemnly invested with the diadem, and his cloak and tunic
of white silk, with a gold border, displayed, in rich embroidery, the
figure of his new patron; who soothed the jealousy of the Persian court,
and excused the revolt of Colchos, by the venerable names of hospitality
and religion. The common interest of both empires imposed on the
Colchians the duty of guarding the passes of Mount Caucasus, where
a wall of sixty miles is now defended by the monthly service of the
musketeers of Mingrelia.

But this honorable connection was soon corrupted by the avarice and
ambition of the Romans. Degraded from the rank of allies, the Lazi were
incessantly reminded, by words and actions, of their dependent state.
At the distance of a day's journey beyond the Apsarus, they beheld the
rising fortress of Petra, which commanded the maritime country to the
south of the Phasis. Instead of being protected by the valor, Colchos
was insulted by the licentiousness, of foreign mercenaries; the benefits
of commerce were converted into base and vexatious monopoly; and
Gubazes, the native prince, was reduced to a pageant of royalty, by the
superior influence of the officers of Justinian. Disappointed in their
expectations of Christian virtue, the indignant Lazi reposed some
confidence in the justice of an unbeliever. After a private assurance
that their ambassadors should not be delivered to the Romans, they
publicly solicited the friendship and aid of Chosroes. The sagacious
monarch instantly discerned the use and importance of Colchos; and
meditated a plan of conquest, which was renewed at the end of a thousand
years by Shah Abbas, the wisest and most powerful of his successors.
His ambition was fired by the hope of launching a Persian navy from the
Phasis, of commanding the trade and navigation of the Euxine Sea, of
desolating the coast of Pontus and Bithynia, of distressing, perhaps of
attacking, Constantinople, and of persuading the Barbarians of Europe to
second his arms and counsels against the common enemy of mankind.
Under the pretence of a Scythian war, he silently led his troops to the
frontiers of Iberia; the Colchian guides were prepared to conduct them
through the woods and along the precipices of Mount Caucasus; and a
narrow path was laboriously formed into a safe and spacious highway, for
the march of cavalry, and even of elephants. Gubazes laid his person
and diadem at the feet of the king of Persia; his Colchians imitated
the submission of their prince; and after the walls of Petra had been
shaken, the Roman garrison prevented, by a capitulation, the impending
fury of the last assault. But the Lazi soon discovered, that their
impatience had urged them to choose an evil more intolerable than the
calamities which they strove to escape. The monopoly of salt and corn
was effectually removed by the loss of those valuable commodities.
The authority of a Roman legislator, was succeeded by the pride of an
Oriental despot, who beheld, with equal disdain, the slaves whom he had
exalted, and the kings whom he had humbled before the footstool of his
throne. The adoration of fire was introduced into Colchos by the zeal
of the Magi: their intolerant spirit provoked the fervor of a Christian
people; and the prejudice of nature or education was wounded by the
impious practice of exposing the dead bodies of their parents, on the
summit of a lofty tower, to the crows and vultures of the air. Conscious
of the increasing hatred, which retarded the execution of his great
designs, the just Nashirvan had secretly given orders to assassinate the
king of the Lazi, to transplant the people into some distant land, and
to fix a faithful and warlike colony on the banks of the Phasis. The
watchful jealousy of the Colchians foresaw and averted the approaching
ruin. Their repentance was accepted at Constantinople by the prudence,
rather than clemency, of Justinian; and he commanded Dagisteus, with
seven thousand Romans, and one thousand of the Zani, to expel the
Persians from the coast of the Euxine.

The siege of Petra, which the Roman general, with the aid of the Lazi,
immediately undertook, is one of the most remarkable actions of the
age. The city was seated on a craggy rock, which hung over the sea,
and communicated by a steep and narrow path with the land. Since the
approach was difficult, the attack might be deemed impossible: the
Persian conqueror had strengthened the fortifications of Justinian; and
the places least inaccessible were covered by additional bulwarks.
In this important fortress, the vigilance of Chosroes had deposited a
magazine of offensive and defensive arms, sufficient for five times the
number, not only of the garrison, but of the besiegers themselves. The
stock of flour and salt provisions was adequate to the consumption of
five years; the want of wine was supplied by vinegar; and of grain from
whence a strong liquor was extracted, and a triple aqueduct eluded
the diligence, and even the suspicions, of the enemy. But the firmest
defence of Petra was placed in the valor of fifteen hundred Persians,
who resisted the assaults of the Romans, whilst, in a softer vein of
earth, a mine was secretly perforated. The wall, supported by slender
and temporary props, hung tottering in the air; but Dagisteus delayed
the attack till he had secured a specific recompense; and the town was
relieved before the return of his messenger from Constantinople. The
Persian garrison was reduced to four hundred men, of whom no more than
fifty were exempt from sickness or wounds; yet such had been their
inflexible perseverance, that they concealed their losses from the
enemy, by enduring, without a murmur, the sight and putrefying stench
of the dead bodies of their eleven hundred companions. After their
deliverance, the breaches were hastily stopped with sand-bags; the
mine was replenished with earth; a new wall was erected on a frame
of substantial timber; and a fresh garrison of three thousand men
was stationed at Petra to sustain the labors of a second siege. The
operations, both of the attack and defence, were conducted with skilful
obstinacy; and each party derived useful lessons from the experience of
their past faults. A battering-ram was invented, of light construction
and powerful effect: it was transported and worked by the hands of forty
soldiers; and as the stones were loosened by its repeated strokes, they
were torn with long iron hooks from the wall. From those walls, a shower
of darts was incessantly poured on the heads of the assailants; but
they were most dangerously annoyed by a fiery composition of sulphur and
bitumen, which in Colchos might with some propriety be named the oil
of Medea. Of six thousand Romans who mounted the scaling-ladders, their
general Bessas was the first, a gallant veteran of seventy years of age:
the courage of their leader, his fall, and extreme danger, animated
the irresistible effort of his troops; and their prevailing numbers
oppressed the strength, without subduing the spirit, of the Persian
garrison. The fate of these valiant men deserves to be more distinctly
noticed. Seven hundred had perished in the siege, two thousand three
hundred survived to defend the breach. One thousand and seventy were
destroyed with fire and sword in the last assault; and if seven hundred
and thirty were made prisoners, only eighteen among them were found
without the marks of honorable wounds. The remaining five hundred
escaped into the citadel, which they maintained without any hopes of
relief, rejecting the fairest terms of capitulation and service, till
they were lost in the flames. They died in obedience to the commands of
their prince; and such examples of loyalty and valor might excite their
countrymen to deeds of equal despair and more prosperous event. The
instant demolition of the works of Petra confessed the astonishment and
apprehension of the conqueror.

A Spartan would have praised and pitied the virtue of these heroic
slaves; but the tedious warfare and alternate success of the Roman and
Persian arms cannot detain the attention of posterity at the foot of
Mount Caucasus. The advantages obtained by the troops of Justinian
were more frequent and splendid; but the forces of the great king were
continually supplied, till they amounted to eight elephants and seventy
thousand men, including twelve thousand Scythian allies, and above three
thousand Dilemites, who descended by their free choice from the hills of
Hyrcania, and were equally formidable in close or in distant combat.
The siege of Archæopolis, a name imposed or corrupted by the Greeks, was
raised with some loss and precipitation; but the Persians occupied the
passes of Iberia: Colchos was enslaved by their forts and garrisons;
they devoured the scanty sustenance of the people; and the prince of the
Lazi fled into the mountains. In the Roman camp, faith and discipline
were unknown; and the independent leaders, who were invested with equal
power, disputed with each other the preeminence of vice and corruption.
The Persians followed, without a murmur, the commands of a single chief,
who implicitly obeyed the instructions of their supreme lord. Their
general was distinguished among the heroes of the East by his wisdom in
council, and his valor in the field. The advanced age of Mermeroes, and
the lameness of both his feet, could not diminish the activity of his
mind, or even of his body; and, whilst he was carried in a litter in the
front of battle, he inspired terror to the enemy, and a just confidence
to the troops, who, under his banners, were always successful. After
his death, the command devolved to Nacoragan, a proud satrap, who, in
a conference with the Imperial chiefs, had presumed to declare that he
disposed of victory as absolutely as of the ring on his finger. Such
presumption was the natural cause and forerunner of a shameful defeat.
The Romans had been gradually repulsed to the edge of the sea-shore;
and their last camp, on the ruins of the Grecian colony of Phasis, was
defended on all sides by strong intrenchments, the river, the Euxine,
and a fleet of galleys. Despair united their counsels and invigorated
their arms: they withstood the assault of the Persians and the flight
of Nacoragan preceded or followed the slaughter of ten thousand of his
bravest soldiers. He escaped from the Romans to fall into the hands
of an unforgiving master who severely chastised the error of his own
choice: the unfortunate general was flayed alive, and his skin, stuffed
into the human form, was exposed on a mountain; a dreadful warning to
those who might hereafter be intrusted with the fame and fortune
of Persia. Yet the prudence of Chosroes insensibly relinquished the
prosecution of the Colchian war, in the just persuasion, that it is
impossible to reduce, or, at least, to hold a distant country against
the wishes and efforts of its inhabitants. The fidelity of Gubazes
sustained the most rigorous trials. He patiently endured the hardships
of a savage life, and rejected with disdain, the specious temptations
of the Persian court. The king of the Lazi had been educated in the
Christian religion; his mother was the daughter of a senator; during his
youth he had served ten years a silentiary of the Byzantine palace, and
the arrears of an unpaid salary were a motive of attachment as well as
of complaint. But the long continuance of his sufferings extorted from
him a naked representation of the truth; and truth was an unpardonable
libel on the lieutenants of Justinian, who, amidst the delays of a
ruinous war, had spared his enemies and trampled on his allies. Their
malicious information persuaded the emperor that his faithless vassal
already meditated a second defection: an order was surprised to send him
prisoner to Constantinople; a treacherous clause was inserted, that he
might be lawfully killed in case of resistance; and Gubazes, without
arms, or suspicion of danger, was stabbed in the security of a friendly
interview. In the first moments of rage and despair, the Colchians
would have sacrificed their country and religion to the gratification
of revenge. But the authority and eloquence of the wiser few obtained
a salutary pause: the victory of the Phasis restored the terror of the
Roman arms, and the emperor was solicitous to absolve his own name
from the imputation of so foul a murder. A judge of senatorial rank was
commissioned to inquire into the conduct and death of the king of the
Lazi. He ascended a stately tribunal, encompassed by the ministers
of justice and punishment: in the presence of both nations, this
extraordinary cause was pleaded, according to the forms of civil
jurisprudence, and some satisfaction was granted to an injured people,
by the sentence and execution of the meaner criminals.

In peace, the king of Persia continually sought the pretences of a
rupture: but no sooner had he taken up arms, than he expressed his
desire of a safe and honorable treaty. During the fiercest hostilities,
the two monarchs entertained a deceitful negotiation; and such was the
superiority of Chosroes, that whilst he treated the Roman ministers with
insolence and contempt, he obtained the most unprecedented honors
for his own ambassadors at the Imperial court. The successor of Cyrus
assumed the majesty of the Eastern sun, and graciously permitted his
younger brother Justinian to reign over the West, with the pale and
reflected splendor of the moon. This gigantic style was supported by the
pomp and eloquence of Isdigune, one of the royal chamberlains. His wife
and daughters, with a train of eunuchs and camels, attended the march of
the ambassador: two satraps with golden diadems were numbered among his
followers: he was guarded by five hundred horse, the most valiant of the
Persians; and the Roman governor of Dara wisely refused to admit more
than twenty of this martial and hostile caravan. When Isdigune had
saluted the emperor, and delivered his presents, he passed ten months at
Constantinople without discussing any serious affairs. Instead of being
confined to his palace, and receiving food and water from the hands
of his keepers, the Persian ambassador, without spies or guards, was
allowed to visit the capital; and the freedom of conversation and
trade enjoyed by his domestics, offended the prejudices of an age which
rigorously practised the law of nations, without confidence or courtesy.
By an unexampled indulgence, his interpreter, a servant below the notice
of a Roman magistrate, was seated, at the table of Justinian, by the
side of his master: and one thousand pounds of gold might be assigned
for the expense of his journey and entertainment. Yet the repeated
labors of Isdigune could procure only a partial and imperfect truce,
which was always purchased with the treasures, and renewed at the
solicitation, of the Byzantine court Many years of fruitless desolation
elapsed before Justinian and Chosroes were compelled, by mutual
lassitude, to consult the repose of their declining age. At a conference
held on the frontier, each party, without expecting to gain credit,
displayed the power, the justice, and the pacific intentions, of their
respective sovereigns; but necessity and interest dictated the treaty
of peace, which was concluded for a term of fifty years, diligently
composed in the Greek and Persian languages, and attested by the seals
of twelve interpreters. The liberty of commerce and religion was fixed
and defined; the allies of the emperor and the great king were
included in the same benefits and obligations; and the most scrupulous
precautions were provided to prevent or determine the accidental
disputes that might arise on the confines of two hostile nations. After
twenty years of destructive though feeble war, the limits still remained
without alteration; and Chosroes was persuaded to renounce his dangerous
claim to the possession or sovereignty of Colchos and its dependent
states. Rich in the accumulated treasures of the East, he extorted from
the Romans an annual payment of thirty thousand pieces of gold; and the
smallness of the sum revealed the disgrace of a tribute in its naked
deformity. In a previous debate, the chariot of Sesostris, and the
wheel of fortune, were applied by one of the ministers of Justinian,
who observed that the reduction of Antioch, and some Syrian cities, had
elevated beyond measure the vain and ambitious spirit of the Barbarian.
"You are mistaken," replied the modest Persian: "the king of kings, the
lord of mankind, looks down with contempt on such petty acquisitions;
and of the ten nations, vanquished by his invincible arms, he esteems
the Romans as the least formidable." According to the Orientals, the
empire of Nushirvan extended from Ferganah, in Transoxiana, to Yemen or
Arabia Fælix. He subdued the rebels of Hyrcania, reduced the provinces
of Cabul and Zablestan on the banks of the Indus, broke the power of
the Euthalites, terminated by an honorable treaty the Turkish war, and
admitted the daughter of the great khan into the number of his lawful
wives. Victorious and respected among the princes of Asia, he gave
audience, in his palace of Madain, or Ctesiphon, to the ambassadors of
the world. Their gifts or tributes, arms, rich garments, gems, slaves
or aromatics, were humbly presented at the foot of his throne; and he
condescended to accept from the king of India ten quintals of the wood
of aloes, a maid seven cubits in height, and a carpet softer than silk,
the skin, as it was reported, of an extraordinary serpent.

Justinian had been reproached for his alliance with the Æthiopians, as
if he attempted to introduce a people of savage negroes into the system
of civilized society. But the friends of the Roman empire, the Axumites,
or Abyssinians, may be always distinguished from the original natives
of Africa. The hand of nature has flattened the noses of the negroes,
covered their heads with shaggy wool, and tinged their skin with
inherent and indelible blackness. But the olive complexion of the
Abyssinians, their hair, shape, and features, distinctly mark them as
a colony of Arabs; and this descent is confirmed by the resemblance of
language and manners the report of an ancient emigration, and the narrow
interval between the shores of the Red Sea. Christianity had raised
that nation above the level of African barbarism: their intercourse with
Egypt, and the successors of Constantine, had communicated the rudiments
of the arts and sciences; their vessels traded to the Isle of Ceylon,
and seven kingdoms obeyed the Negus or supreme prince of Abyssinia. The
independence of the Homerites, who reigned in the rich and happy Arabia,
was first violated by an Æthiopian conqueror: he drew his hereditary
claim from the queen of Sheba, and his ambition was sanctified by
religious zeal. The Jews, powerful and active in exile, had seduced the
mind of Dunaan, prince of the Homerites. They urged him to retaliate
the persecution inflicted by the Imperial laws on their unfortunate
brethren: some Roman merchants were injuriously treated; and several
Christians of Negra were honored with the crown of martyrdom. The
churches of Arabia implored the protection of the Abyssinian monarch.
The Negus passed the Red Sea with a fleet and army, deprived the Jewish
proselyte of his kingdom and life, and extinguished a race of princes,
who had ruled above two thousand years the sequestered region of myrrh
and frankincense. The conqueror immediately announced the victory of
the gospel, requested an orthodox patriarch, and so warmly professed his
friendship to the Roman empire, that Justinian was flattered by the hope
of diverting the silk trade through the channel of Abyssinia, and
of exciting the forces of Arabia against the Persian king. Nonnosus,
descended from a family of ambassadors, was named by the emperor to
execute this important commission. He wisely declined the shorter, but
more dangerous, road, through the sandy deserts of Nubia; ascended the
Nile, embarked on the Red Sea, and safely landed at the African port
of Adulis. From Adulis to the royal city of Axume is no more than fifty
leagues, in a direct line; but the winding passes of the mountains
detained the ambassador fifteen days; and as he traversed the forests,
he saw, and vaguely computed, about five thousand wild elephants.
The capital, according to his report, was large and populous; and the
_village_ of Axume is still conspicuous by the regal coronations, by
the ruins of a Christian temple, and by sixteen or seventeen obelisks
inscribed with Grecian characters. But the Negus gave audience in
the open field, seated on a lofty chariot, which was drawn by four
elephants, superbly caparisoned, and surrounded by his nobles and
musicians. He was clad in a linen garment and cap, holding in his
hand two javelins and a light shield; and, although his nakedness was
imperfectly covered, he displayed the Barbaric pomp of gold chains,
collars, and bracelets, richly adorned with pearls and precious stones.
The ambassador of Justinian knelt; the Negus raised him from the ground,
embraced Nonnosus, kissed the seal, perused the letter, accepted the
Roman alliance, and, brandishing his weapons, denounced implacable war
against the worshipers of fire. But the proposal of the silk trade was
eluded; and notwithstanding the assurances, and perhaps the wishes, of
the Abyssinians, these hostile menaces evaporated without effect. The
Homerites were unwilling to abandon their aromatic groves, to explore a
sandy desert, and to encounter, after all their fatigues, a formidable
nation from whom they had never received any personal injuries. Instead
of enlarging his conquests, the king of Æthiopia was incapable of
defending his possessions. Abrahah, § the slave of a Roman merchant of
Adulis, assumed the sceptre of the Homerites; the troops of Africa
were seduced by the luxury of the climate; and Justinian solicited
the friendship of the usurper, who honored with a slight tribute the
supremacy of his prince. After a long series of prosperity, the power of
Abrahah was overthrown before the gates of Mecca; and his children were
despoiled by the Persian conqueror; and the Æthiopians were finally
expelled from the continent of Asia. This narrative of obscure and
remote events is not foreign to the decline and fall of the Roman
empire. If a Christian power had been maintained in Arabia, Mahomet must
have been crushed in his cradle, and Abyssinia would have prevented a
revolution which has changed the civil and religious state of the world.



Chapter XLIII: Last Victory And Death Of Belisarius, Death Of Justinian.--Part I.

     Rebellions Of Africa.--Restoration Of The Gothic Kingdom By
     Totila.--Loss And Recovery Of Rome.--Final Conquest Of Italy
     By Narses.--Extinction Of The Ostrogoths.--Defeat Of The
     Franks And Alemanni.--Last Victory, Disgrace, And Death Of
     Belisarius.--Death And Character Of Justinian.--Comet,
     Earthquakes, And Plague.

The review of the nations from the Danube to the Nile has exposed, on
every side, the weakness of the Romans; and our wonder is reasonably
excited that they should presume to enlarge an empire whose ancient
limits they were incapable of defending. But the wars, the conquests,
and the triumphs of Justinian, are the feeble and pernicious efforts of
old age, which exhaust the remains of strength, and accelerate the
decay of the powers of life. He exulted in the glorious act of restoring
Africa and Italy to the republic; but the calamities which followed the
departure of Belisarius betrayed the impotence of the conqueror, and
accomplished the ruin of those unfortunate countries.

From his new acquisitions, Justinian expected that his avarice, as
well as pride, should be richly gratified. A rapacious minister of the
finances closely pursued the footsteps of Belisarius; and as the old
registers of tribute had been burnt by the Vandals, he indulged his
fancy in a liberal calculation and arbitrary assessment of the wealth
of Africa. The increase of taxes, which were drawn away by a distant
sovereign, and a general resumption of the patrimony or crown lands,
soon dispelled the intoxication of the public joy: but the emperor was
insensible to the modest complaints of the people, till he was awakened
and alarmed by the clamors of military discontent. Many of the Roman
soldiers had married the widows and daughters of the Vandals. As their
own, by the double right of conquest and inheritance, they claimed the
estates which Genseric had assigned to his victorious troops. They heard
with disdain the cold and selfish representations of their officers,
that the liberality of Justinian had raised them from a savage or
servile condition; that they were already enriched by the spoils of
Africa, the treasure, the slaves, and the movables of the vanquished
Barbarians; and that the ancient and lawful patrimony of the emperors
would be applied only to the support of that government on which their
own safety and reward must ultimately depend. The mutiny was secretly
inflamed by a thousand soldiers, for the most part Heruli, who had
imbibed the doctrines, and were instigated by the clergy, of the Arian
sect; and the cause of perjury and rebellion was sanctified by the
dispensing powers of fanaticism. The Arians deplored the ruin of their
church, triumphant above a century in Africa; and they were justly
provoked by the laws of the conqueror, which interdicted the baptism
of their children, and the exercise of all religious worship. Of the
Vandals chosen by Belisarius, the far greater part, in the honors of the
Eastern service, forgot their country and religion. But a generous band
of four hundred obliged the mariners, when they were in sight of the
Isle of Lesbos, to alter their course: they touched on Peloponnesus,
ran ashore on a desert coast of Africa, and boldly erected, on Mount
Aurasius, the standard of independence and revolt. While the troops of
the provinces disclaimed the commands of their superiors, a conspiracy
was formed at Carthage against the life of Solomon, who filled with
honor the place of Belisarius; and the Arians had piously resolved
to sacrifice the tyrant at the foot of the altar, during the awful
mysteries of the festival of Easter. Fear or remorse restrained the
daggers of the assassins, but the patience of Solomon emboldened their
discontent; and, at the end of ten days, a furious sedition was kindled
in the Circus, which desolated Africa above ten years. The pillage of
the city, and the indiscriminate slaughter of its inhabitants, were
suspended only by darkness, sleep, and intoxication: the governor, with
seven companions, among whom was the historian Procopius, escaped to
Sicily: two thirds of the army were involved in the guilt of treason;
and eight thousand insurgents, assembling in the field of Bulla, elected
Stoza for their chief, a private soldier, who possessed in a superior
degree the virtues of a rebel. Under the mask of freedom, his eloquence
could lead, or at least impel, the passions of his equals. He raised
himself to a level with Belisarius, and the nephew of the emperor, by
daring to encounter them in the field; and the victorious generals were
compelled to acknowledge that Stoza deserved a purer cause, and a more
legitimate command. Vanquished in battle, he dexterously employed the
arts of negotiation; a Roman army was seduced from their allegiance, and
the chiefs who had trusted to his faithless promise were murdered by his
order in a church of Numidia. When every resource, either of force or
perfidy, was exhausted, Stoza, with some desperate Vandals, retired to
the wilds of Mauritania, obtained the daughter of a Barbarian prince,
and eluded the pursuit of his enemies, by the report of his death. The
personal weight of Belisarius, the rank, the spirit, and the temper, of
Germanus, the emperor's nephew, and the vigor and success of the second
administration of the eunuch Solomon, restored the modesty of the camp,
and maintained for a while the tranquillity of Africa. But the vices
of the Byzantine court were felt in that distant province; the troops
complained that they were neither paid nor relieved, and as soon as the
public disorders were sufficiently mature, Stoza was again alive, in
arms, and at the gates of Carthage. He fell in a single combat, but
he smiled in the agonies of death, when he was informed that his own
javelin had reached the heart of his antagonist. The example of Stoza,
and the assurance that a fortunate soldier had been the first king,
encouraged the ambition of Gontharis, and he promised, by a private
treaty, to divide Africa with the Moors, if, with their dangerous
aid, he should ascend the throne of Carthage. The feeble Areobindus,
unskilled in the affairs of peace and war, was raised, by his marriage
with the niece of Justinian, to the office of exarch. He was suddenly
oppressed by a sedition of the guards, and his abject supplications,
which provoked the contempt, could not move the pity, of the inexorable
tyrant. After a reign of thirty days, Gontharis himself was stabbed at
a banquet by the hand of Artaban; and it is singular enough, that an
Armenian prince, of the royal family of Arsaces, should reestablish
at Carthage the authority of the Roman empire. In the conspiracy
which unsheathed the dagger of Brutus against the life of Cæsar, every
circumstance is curious and important to the eyes of posterity; but the
guilt or merit of these loyal or rebellious assassins could interest
only the contemporaries of Procopius, who, by their hopes and fears,
their friendship or resentment, were personally engaged in the
revolutions of Africa.

That country was rapidly sinking into the state of barbarism from whence
it had been raised by the Phnician colonies and Roman laws; and every
step of intestine discord was marked by some deplorable victory of
savage man over civilized society. The Moors, though ignorant of
justice, were impatient of oppression: their vagrant life and boundless
wilderness disappointed the arms, and eluded the chains, of a conqueror;
and experience had shown, that neither oaths nor obligations could
secure the fidelity of their attachment. The victory of Mount Auras had
awed them into momentary submission; but if they respected the character
of Solomon, they hated and despised the pride and luxury of his two
nephews, Cyrus and Sergius, on whom their uncle had imprudently bestowed
the provincial governments of Tripoli and Pentapolis. A Moorish tribe
encamped under the walls of Leptis, to renew their alliance, and receive
from the governor the customary gifts. Fourscore of their deputies were
introduced as friends into the city; but on the dark suspicion of a
conspiracy, they were massacred at the table of Sergius, and the clamor
of arms and revenge was reëchoed through the valleys of Mount Atlas from
both the Syrtes to the Atlantic Ocean. A personal injury, the unjust
execution or murder of his brother, rendered Antalas the enemy of the
Romans. The defeat of the Vandals had formerly signalized his valor; the
rudiments of justice and prudence were still more conspicuous in a Moor;
and while he laid Adrumetum in ashes, he calmly admonished the emperor
that the peace of Africa might be secured by the recall of Solomon and
his unworthy nephews. The exarch led forth his troops from Carthage:
but, at the distance of six days' journey, in the neighborhood of
Tebeste, he was astonished by the superior numbers and fierce aspect of
the Barbarians. He proposed a treaty; solicited a reconciliation; and
offered to bind himself by the most solemn oaths. "By what oaths can he
bind himself?" interrupted the indignant Moors. "Will he swear by the
Gospels, the divine books of the Christians? It was on those books that
the faith of his nephew Sergius was pledged to eighty of our innocent
and unfortunate brethren. Before we trust them a second time, let us
try their efficacy in the chastisement of perjury and the vindication of
their own honor." Their honor was vindicated in the field of Tebeste, by
the death of Solomon, and the total loss of his army. The arrival of
fresh troops and more skilful commanders soon checked the insolence of
the Moors: seventeen of their princes were slain in the same battle;
and the doubtful and transient submission of their tribes was celebrated
with lavish applause by the people of Constantinople. Successive inroads
had reduced the province of Africa to one third of the measure of Italy;
yet the Roman emperors continued to reign above a century over Carthage
and the fruitful coast of the Mediterranean. But the victories and the
losses of Justinian were alike pernicious to mankind; and such was the
desolation of Africa, that in many parts a stranger might wander whole
days without meeting the face either of a friend or an enemy. The nation
of the Vandals had disappeared: they once amounted to a hundred and
sixty thousand warriors, without including the children, the women, or
the slaves. Their numbers were infinitely surpassed by the number of
the Moorish families extirpated in a relentless war; and the same
destruction was retaliated on the Romans and their allies, who perished
by the climate, their mutual quarrels, and the rage of the Barbarians.
When Procopius first landed, he admired the populousness of the cities
and country, strenuously exercised in the labors of commerce and
agriculture. In less than twenty years, that busy scene was converted
into a silent solitude; the wealthy citizens escaped to Sicily and
Constantinople; and the secret historian has confidently affirmed, that
five millions of Africans were consumed by the wars and government of
the emperor Justinian.

The jealousy of the Byzantine court had not permitted Belisarius to
achieve the conquest of Italy; and his abrupt departure revived the
courage of the Goths, who respected his genius, his virtue, and even the
laudable motive which had urged the servant of Justinian to deceive and
reject them. They had lost their king, (an inconsiderable loss,) their
capital, their treasures, the provinces from Sicily to the Alps, and
the military force of two hundred thousand Barbarians, magnificently
equipped with horses and arms. Yet all was not lost, as long as Pavia
was defended by one thousand Goths, inspired by a sense of honor, the
love of freedom, and the memory of their past greatness. The supreme
command was unanimously offered to the brave Uraias; and it was in his
eyes alone that the disgrace of his uncle Vitiges could appear as
a reason of exclusion. His voice inclined the election in favor of
Hildibald, whose personal merit was recommended by the vain hope that
his kinsman Theudes, the Spanish monarch, would support the common
interest of the Gothic nation. The success of his arms in Liguria and
Venetia seemed to justify their choice; but he soon declared to the
world that he was incapable of forgiving or commanding his benefactor.
The consort of Hildibald was deeply wounded by the beauty, the riches,
and the pride, of the wife of Uraias; and the death of that virtuous
patriot excited the indignation of a free people. A bold assassin
executed their sentence by striking off the head of Hildibald in the
midst of a banquet; the Rugians, a foreign tribe, assumed the privilege
of election: and Totila, the nephew of the late king, was tempted, by
revenge, to deliver himself and the garrison of Trevigo into the
hands of the Romans. But the gallant and accomplished youth was easily
persuaded to prefer the Gothic throne before the service of Justinian;
and as soon as the palace of Pavia had been purified from the Rugian
usurper, he reviewed the national force of five thousand soldiers, and
generously undertook the restoration of the kingdom of Italy.

The successors of Belisarius, eleven generals of equal rank, neglected
to crush the feeble and disunited Goths, till they were roused to action
by the progress of Totila and the reproaches of Justinian. The gates
of Verona were secretly opened to Artabazus, at the head of one hundred
Persians in the service of the empire. The Goths fled from the city. At
the distance of sixty furlongs the Roman generals halted to regulate
the division of the spoil. While they disputed, the enemy discovered the
real number of the victors: the Persians were instantly overpowered, and
it was by leaping from the wall that Artabazus preserved a life which
he lost in a few days by the lance of a Barbarian, who had defied him to
single combat. Twenty thousand Romans encountered the forces of Totila,
near Faenza, and on the hills of Mugello, of the Florentine territory.
The ardor of freedmen, who fought to regain their country, was opposed
to the languid temper of mercenary troops, who were even destitute
of the merits of strong and well-disciplined servitude. On the first
attack, they abandoned their ensigns, threw down their arms, and
dispersed on all sides with an active speed, which abated the loss,
whilst it aggravated the shame, of their defeat. The king of the Goths,
who blushed for the baseness of his enemies, pursued with rapid steps
the path of honor and victory. Totila passed the Po, traversed the
Apennine, suspended the important conquest of Ravenna, Florence, and
Rome, and marched through the heart of Italy, to form the siege or
rather the blockade, of Naples. The Roman chiefs, imprisoned in their
respective cities, and accusing each other of the common disgrace, did
not presume to disturb his enterprise. But the emperor, alarmed by the
distress and danger of his Italian conquests, despatched to the relief
of Naples a fleet of galleys and a body of Thracian and Armenian
soldiers. They landed in Sicily, which yielded its copious stores
of provisions; but the delays of the new commander, an unwarlike
magistrate, protracted the sufferings of the besieged; and the succors,
which he dropped with a timid and tardy hand, were successively
intercepted by the armed vessels stationed by Totila in the Bay of
Naples. The principal officer of the Romans was dragged, with a rope
round his neck, to the foot of the wall, from whence, with a trembling
voice, he exhorted the citizens to implore, like himself, the mercy of
the conqueror. They requested a truce, with a promise of surrendering
the city, if no effectual relief should appear at the end of thirty
days. Instead of _one_ month, the audacious Barbarian granted them
_three_, in the just confidence that famine would anticipate the term
of their capitulation. After the reduction of Naples and Cumæ, the
provinces of Lucania, Apulia, and Calabria, submitted to the king of
the Goths. Totila led his army to the gates of Rome, pitched his camp
at Tibur, or Tivoli, within twenty miles of the capital, and calmly
exhorted the senate and people to compare the tyranny of the Greeks with
the blessings of the Gothic reign.

The rapid success of Totila may be partly ascribed to the revolution
which three years' experience had produced in the sentiments of the
Italians. At the command, or at least in the name, of a Catholic
emperor, the pope, their spiritual father, had been torn from the Roman
church, and either starved or murdered on a desolate island. The virtues
of Belisarius were replaced by the various or uniform vices of eleven
chiefs, at Rome, Ravenna, Florence, Perugia, Spoleto, &c., who abused
their authority for the indulgence of lust or avarice. The improvement
of the revenue was committed to Alexander, a subtle scribe, long
practised in the fraud and oppression of the Byzantine schools,
and whose name of _Psalliction_, the _scissors_, was drawn from the
dexterous artifice with which he reduced the size without defacing the
figure, of the gold coin. Instead of expecting the restoration of peace
and industry, he imposed a heavy assessment on the fortunes of the
Italians. Yet his present or future demands were less odious than a
prosecution of arbitrary rigor against the persons and property of all
those who, under the Gothic kings, had been concerned in the receipt and
expenditure of the public money. The subjects of Justinian, who escaped
these partial vexations, were oppressed by the irregular maintenance
of the soldiers, whom Alexander defrauded and despised; and their hasty
sallies in quest of wealth, or subsistence, provoked the inhabitants of
the country to await or implore their deliverance from the virtues of
a Barbarian. Totila was chaste and temperate; and none were deceived,
either friends or enemies, who depended on his faith or his clemency. To
the husbandmen of Italy the Gothic king issued a welcome proclamation,
enjoining them to pursue their important labors, and to rest assured,
that, on the payment of the ordinary taxes, they should be defended by
his valor and discipline from the injuries of war. The strong towns he
successively attacked; and as soon as they had yielded to his arms, he
demolished the fortifications, to save the people from the calamities
of a future siege, to deprive the Romans of the arts of defence, and to
decide the tedious quarrel of the two nations, by an equal and honorable
conflict in the field of battle. The Roman captives and deserters were
tempted to enlist in the service of a liberal and courteous adversary;
the slaves were attracted by the firm and faithful promise, that they
should never be delivered to their masters; and from the thousand
warriors of Pavia, a new people, under the same appellation of Goths,
was insensibly formed in the camp of Totila. He sincerely accomplished
the articles of capitulation, without seeking or accepting any sinister
advantage from ambiguous expressions or unforeseen events: the garrison
of Naples had stipulated that they should be transported by sea; the
obstinacy of the winds prevented their voyage, but they were generously
supplied with horses, provisions, and a safe-conduct to the gates of
Rome. The wives of the senators, who had been surprised in the villas
of Campania, were restored, without a ransom, to their husbands; the
violation of female chastity was inexorably chastised with death; and
in the salutary regulation of the edict of the famished Neapolitans, the
conqueror assumed the office of a humane and attentive physician. The
virtues of Totila are equally laudable, whether they proceeded from
true policy, religious principle, or the instinct of humanity: he often
harangued his troops; and it was his constant theme, that national vice
and ruin are inseparably connected; that victory is the fruit of moral
as well as military virtue; and that the prince, and even the people,
are responsible for the crimes which they neglect to punish.

The return of Belisarius to save the country which he had subdued, was
pressed with equal vehemence by his friends and enemies; and the Gothic
war was imposed as a trust or an exile on the veteran commander. A hero
on the banks of the Euphrates, a slave in the palace of Constantinople,
he accepted with reluctance the painful task of supporting his own
reputation, and retrieving the faults of his successors. The sea was
open to the Romans: the ships and soldiers were assembled at Salona,
near the palace of Diocletian: he refreshed and reviewed his troops at
Pola in Istria, coasted round the head of the Adriatic, entered the
port of Ravenna, and despatched orders rather than supplies to the
subordinate cities. His first public oration was addressed to the Goths
and Romans, in the name of the emperor, who had suspended for a while
the conquest of Persia, and listened to the prayers of his Italian
subjects. He gently touched on the causes and the authors of the recent
disasters; striving to remove the fear of punishment for the past, and
the hope of impunity for the future, and laboring, with more zeal than
success, to unite all the members of his government in a firm league of
affection and obedience. Justinian, his gracious master, was inclined
to pardon and reward; and it was their interest, as well as duty, to
reclaim their deluded brethren, who had been seduced by the arts of
the usurper. Not a man was tempted to desert the standard of the Gothic
king. Belisarius soon discovered, that he was sent to remain the idle
and impotent spectator of the glory of a young Barbarian; and his own
epistle exhibits a genuine and lively picture of the distress of a noble
mind. "Most excellent prince, we are arrived in Italy, destitute of all
the necessary implements of war, men, horses, arms, and money. In our
late circuit through the villages of Thrace and Illyricum, we have
collected, with extreme difficulty, about four thousand recruits, naked,
and unskilled in the use of weapons and the exercises of the camp. The
soldiers already stationed in the province are discontented, fearful,
and dismayed; at the sound of an enemy, they dismiss their horses, and
cast their arms on the ground. No taxes can be raised, since Italy is in
the hands of the Barbarians; the failure of payment has deprived us of
the right of command, or even of admonition. Be assured, dread Sir, that
the greater part of your troops have already deserted to the Goths.
If the war could be achieved by the presence of Belisarius alone, your
wishes are satisfied; Belisarius is in the midst of Italy. But if you
desire to conquer, far other preparations are requisite: without a
military force, the title of general is an empty name. It would be
expedient to restore to my service my own veteran and domestic guards.
Before I can take the field, I must receive an adequate supply of light
and heavy armed troops; and it is only with ready money that you can
procure the indispensable aid of a powerful body of the cavalry of the
Huns." An officer in whom Belisarius confided was sent from Ravenna to
hasten and conduct the succors; but the message was neglected, and the
messenger was detained at Constantinople by an advantageous marriage.
After his patience had been exhausted by delay and disappointment, the
Roman general repassed the Adriatic, and expected at Dyrrachium the
arrival of the troops, which were slowly assembled among the subjects
and allies of the empire. His powers were still inadequate to the
deliverance of Rome, which was closely besieged by the Gothic king. The
Appian way, a march of forty days, was covered by the Barbarians; and as
the prudence of Belisarius declined a battle, he preferred the safe and
speedy navigation of five days from the coast of Epirus to the mouth of
the Tyber.

After reducing, by force, or treaty, the towns of inferior note in the
midland provinces of Italy, Totila proceeded, not to assault, but to
encompass and starve, the ancient capital. Rome was afflicted by the
avarice, and guarded by the valor, of Bessas, a veteran chief of Gothic
extraction, who filled, with a garrison of three thousand soldiers, the
spacious circle of her venerable walls. From the distress of the
people he extracted a profitable trade, and secretly rejoiced in the
continuance of the siege. It was for his use that the granaries had been
replenished: the charity of Pope Vigilius had purchased and embarked
an ample supply of Sicilian corn; but the vessels which escaped the
Barbarians were seized by a rapacious governor, who imparted a scanty
sustenance to the soldiers, and sold the remainder to the wealthy
Romans. The medimnus, or fifth part of the quarter of wheat, was
exchanged for seven pieces of gold; fifty pieces were given for an ox,
a rare and accidental prize; the progress of famine enhanced this
exorbitant value, and the mercenaries were tempted to deprive themselves
of the allowance which was scarcely sufficient for the support of life.
A tasteless and unwholesome mixture, in which the bran thrice exceeded
the quantity of flour, appeased the hunger of the poor; they were
gradually reduced to feed on dead horses, dogs, cats, and mice, and
eagerly to snatch the grass, and even the nettles, which grew among the
ruins of the city. A crowd of spectres, pale and emaciated, their bodies
oppressed with disease, and their minds with despair, surrounded the
palace of the governor, urged, with unavailing truth, that it was the
duty of a master to maintain his slaves, and humbly requested that he
would provide for their subsistence, to permit their flight, or command
their immediate execution. Bessas replied, with unfeeling tranquillity,
that it was impossible to feed, unsafe to dismiss, and unlawful to kill,
the subjects of the emperor. Yet the example of a private citizen might
have shown his countrymen that a tyrant cannot withhold the privilege of
death. Pierced by the cries of five children, who vainly called on their
father for bread, he ordered them to follow his steps, advanced with
calm and silent despair to one of the bridges of the Tyber, and,
covering his face, threw himself headlong into the stream, in
the presence of his family and the Roman people. To the rich and
pusillanimous, Bessas sold the permission of departure; but the
greatest part of the fugitives expired on the public highways, or were
intercepted by the flying parties of Barbarians. In the mean while, the
artful governor soothed the discontent, and revived the hopes of
the Romans, by the vague reports of the fleets and armies which were
hastening to their relief from the extremities of the East. They derived
more rational comfort from the assurance that Belisarius had landed at
the _port_; and, without numbering his forces, they firmly relied on the
humanity, the courage, and the skill of their great deliverer.



Chapter XLIII: Last Victory And Death Of Belisarius, Death Of Justinian.--Part II.

The foresight of Totila had raised obstacles worthy of such an
antagonist. Ninety furlongs below the city, in the narrowest part of the
river, he joined the two banks by strong and solid timbers in the form
of a bridge, on which he erected two lofty towers, manned by the bravest
of his Goths, and profusely stored with missile weapons and engines of
offence. The approach of the bridge and towers was covered by a strong
and massy chain of iron; and the chain, at either end, on the opposite
sides of the Tyber, was defended by a numerous and chosen detachment of
archers. But the enterprise of forcing these barriers, and relieving
the capital, displays a shining example of the boldness and conduct of
Belisarius. His cavalry advanced from the port along the public road, to
awe the motions, and distract the attention of the enemy. His infantry
and provisions were distributed in two hundred large boats; and each
boat was shielded by a high rampart of thick planks, pierced with many
small holes for the discharge of missile weapons. In the front, two
large vessels were linked together to sustain a floating castle, which
commanded the towers of the bridge, and contained a magazine of fire,
sulphur, and bitumen. The whole fleet, which the general led in person,
was laboriously moved against the current of the river. The chain
yielded to their weight, and the enemies who guarded the banks were
either slain or scattered. As soon as they touched the principal
barrier, the fire-ship was instantly grappled to the bridge; one of
the towers, with two hundred Goths, was consumed by the flames; the
assailants shouted victory; and Rome was saved, if the wisdom of
Belisarius had not been defeated by the misconduct of his officers.
He had previously sent orders to Bessas to second his operations by a
timely sally from the town; and he had fixed his lieutenant, Isaac, by
a peremptory command, to the station of the port. But avarice rendered
Bessas immovable; while the youthful ardor of Isaac delivered him into
the hands of a superior enemy. The exaggerated rumor of his defeat was
hastily carried to the ears of Belisarius: he paused; betrayed in that
single moment of his life some emotions of surprise and perplexity; and
reluctantly sounded a retreat to save his wife Antonina, his treasures,
and the only harbor which he possessed on the Tuscan coast. The vexation
of his mind produced an ardent and almost mortal fever; and Rome was
left without protection to the mercy or indignation of Totila. The
continuance of hostilities had imbittered the national hatred: the Arian
clergy was ignominiously driven from Rome; Pelagius, the archdeacon,
returned without success from an embassy to the Gothic camp; and a
Sicilian bishop, the envoy or nuncio of the pope, was deprived of both
his hands, for daring to utter falsehoods in the service of the church
and state.

Famine had relaxed the strength and discipline of the garrison of Rome.
They could derive no effectual service from a dying people; and the
inhuman avarice of the merchant at length absorbed the vigilance of the
governor. Four Isaurian sentinels, while their companions slept, and
their officers were absent, descended by a rope from the wall, and
secretly proposed to the Gothic king to introduce his troops into
the city. The offer was entertained with coldness and suspicion; they
returned in safety; they twice repeated their visit; the place was twice
examined; the conspiracy was known and disregarded; and no sooner had
Totila consented to the attempt, than they unbarred the Asinarian gate,
and gave admittance to the Goths. Till the dawn of day, they halted in
order of battle, apprehensive of treachery or ambush; but the troops of
Bessas, with their leader, had already escaped; and when the king was
pressed to disturb their retreat, he prudently replied, that no sight
could be more grateful than that of a flying enemy. The patricians, who
were still possessed of horses, Decius, Basilius, &c. accompanied the
governor; their brethren, among whom Olybrius, Orestes, and Maximus, are
named by the historian, took refuge in the church of St. Peter: but
the assertion, that only five hundred persons remained in the capital,
inspires some doubt of the fidelity either of his narrative or of his
text. As soon as daylight had displayed the entire victory of the Goths,
their monarch devoutly visited the tomb of the prince of the apostles;
but while he prayed at the altar, twenty-five soldiers, and sixty
citizens, were put to the sword in the vestibule of the temple. The
archdeacon Pelagius stood before him, with the Gospels in his hand. "O
Lord, be merciful to your servant." "Pelagius," said Totila, with an
insulting smile, "your pride now condescends to become a suppliant." "I
_am_ a suppliant," replied the prudent archdeacon; "God has now made us
your subjects, and as your subjects, we are entitled to your clemency."
At his humble prayer, the lives of the Romans were spared; and the
chastity of the maids and matrons was preserved inviolate from the
passions of the hungry soldiers. But they were rewarded by the freedom
of pillage, after the most precious spoils had been reserved for the
royal treasury. The houses of the senators were plentifully stored with
gold and silver; and the avarice of Bessas had labored with so much
guilt and shame for the benefit of the conqueror. In this revolution,
the sons and daughters of Roman consuls lasted the misery which they had
spurned or relieved, wandered in tattered garments through the streets
of the city and begged their bread, perhaps without success, before
the gates of their hereditary mansions. The riches of Rusticiana, the
daughter of Symmachus and widow of Boethius, had been generously
devoted to alleviate the calamities of famine. But the Barbarians were
exasperated by the report, that she had prompted the people to overthrow
the statues of the great Theodoric; and the life of that venerable
matron would have been sacrificed to his memory, if Totila had not
respected her birth, her virtues, and even the pious motive of her
revenge. The next day he pronounced two orations, to congratulate and
admonish his victorious Goths, and to reproach the senate, as the
vilest of slaves, with their perjury, folly, and ingratitude; sternly
declaring, that their estates and honors were justly forfeited to the
companions of his arms. Yet he consented to forgive their revolt; and
the senators repaid his clemency by despatching circular letters to
their tenants and vassals in the provinces of Italy, strictly to enjoin
them to desert the standard of the Greeks, to cultivate their lands in
peace, and to learn from their masters the duty of obedience to a Gothic
sovereign. Against the city which had so long delayed the course of his
victories, he appeared inexorable: one third of the walls, in different
parts, were demolished by his command; fire and engines prepared to
consume or subvert the most stately works of antiquity; and the world
was astonished by the fatal decree, that Rome should be changed into a
pasture for cattle. The firm and temperate remonstrance of Belisarius
suspended the execution; he warned the Barbarian not to sully his fame
by the destruction of those monuments which were the glory of the dead,
and the delight of the living; and Totila was persuaded, by the advice
of an enemy, to preserve Rome as the ornament of his kingdom, or the
fairest pledge of peace and reconciliation. When he had signified to
the ambassadors of Belisarius his intention of sparing the city, he
stationed an army at the distance of one hundred and twenty furlongs,
to observe the motions of the Roman general. With the remainder of his
forces he marched into Lucania and Apulia, and occupied on the summit of
Mount Garganus one of the camps of Hannibal. The senators were dragged
in his train, and afterwards confined in the fortresses of Campania: the
citizens, with their wives and children, were dispersed in exile; and
during forty days Rome was abandoned to desolate and dreary solitude.

The loss of Rome was speedily retrieved by an action, to which,
according to the event, the public opinion would apply the names of
rashness or heroism. After the departure of Totila, the Roman general
sallied from the port at the head of a thousand horse, cut in pieces the
enemy who opposed his progress, and visited with pity and reverence the
vacant space of the _eternal_ city. Resolved to maintain a station so
conspicuous in the eyes of mankind, he summoned the greatest part of
his troops to the standard which he erected on the Capitol: the old
inhabitants were recalled by the love of their country and the hopes
of food; and the keys of Rome were sent a second time to the emperor
Justinian. The walls, as far as they had been demolished by the
Goths, were repaired with rude and dissimilar materials; the ditch was
restored; iron spikes were profusely scattered in the highways to annoy
the feet of the horses; and as new gates could not suddenly be procured,
the entrance was guarded by a Spartan rampart of his bravest soldiers.
At the expiration of twenty-five days, Totila returned by hasty marches
from Apulia to avenge the injury and disgrace. Belisarius expected his
approach. The Goths were thrice repulsed in three general assaults; they
lost the flower of their troops; the royal standard had almost fallen
into the hands of the enemy, and the fame of Totila sunk, as it had
risen, with the fortune of his arms. Whatever skill and courage could
achieve, had been performed by the Roman general: it remained only that
Justinian should terminate, by a strong and seasonable effort, the
war which he had ambitiously undertaken. The indolence, perhaps
the impotence, of a prince who despised his enemies, and envied his
servants, protracted the calamities of Italy. After a long silence,
Belisarius was commanded to leave a sufficient garrison at Rome, and
to transport himself into the province of Lucania, whose inhabitants,
inflamed by Catholic zeal, had cast away the yoke of their Arian
conquerors. In this ignoble warfare, the hero, invincible against
the power of the Barbarians, was basely vanquished by the delay, the
disobedience, and the cowardice of his own officers. He reposed in his
winter quarters of Crotona, in the full assurance, that the two passes
of the Lucanian hills were guarded by his cavalry. They were betrayed by
treachery or weakness; and the rapid march of the Goths scarcely allowed
time for the escape of Belisarius to the coast of Sicily. At length a
fleet and army were assembled for the relief of Ruscianum, or Rossano,
a fortress sixty furlongs from the ruins of Sybaris, where the nobles
of Lucania had taken refuge. In the first attempt, the Roman forces were
dissipated by a storm. In the second, they approached the shore; but
they saw the hills covered with archers, the landing-place defended by
a line of spears, and the king of the Goths impatient for battle. The
conqueror of Italy retired with a sigh, and continued to languish,
inglorious and inactive, till Antonina, who had been sent to
Constantinople to solicit succors, obtained, after the death of the
empress, the permission of his return.

The five last campaigns of Belisarius might abate the envy of his
competitors, whose eyes had been dazzled and wounded by the blaze of
his former glory. Instead of delivering Italy from the Goths, he had
wandered like a fugitive along the coast, without daring to march into
the country, or to accept the bold and repeated challenge of Totila.
Yet, in the judgment of the few who could discriminate counsels from
events, and compare the instruments with the execution, he appeared
a more consummate master of the art of war, than in the season of his
prosperity, when he presented two captive kings before the throne of
Justinian. The valor of Belisarius was not chilled by age: his prudence
was matured by experience; but the moral virtues of humanity and justice
seem to have yielded to the hard necessity of the times. The parsimony
or poverty of the emperor compelled him to deviate from the rule of
conduct which had deserved the love and confidence of the Italians. The
war was maintained by the oppression of Ravenna, Sicily, and all
the faithful subjects of the empire; and the rigorous prosecution of
Herodian provoked that injured or guilty officer to deliver Spoleto into
the hands of the enemy. The avarice of Antonina, which had been some
times diverted by love, now reigned without a rival in her breast.
Belisarius himself had always understood, that riches, in a corrupt
age, are the support and ornament of personal merit. And it cannot be
presumed that he should stain his honor for the public service, without
applying a part of the spoil to his private emolument. The hero had
escaped the sword of the Barbarians. But the dagger of conspiracy
awaited his return. In the midst of wealth and honors, Artaban, who had
chastised the African tyrant, complained of the ingratitude of courts.
He aspired to Præjecta, the emperor's niece, who wished to reward her
deliverer; but the impediment of his previous marriage was asserted
by the piety of Theodora. The pride of royal descent was irritated by
flattery; and the service in which he gloried had proved him capable of
bold and sanguinary deeds. The death of Justinian was resolved, but the
conspirators delayed the execution till they could surprise Belisarius
disarmed, and naked, in the palace of Constantinople. Not a hope could
be entertained of shaking his long-tried fidelity; and they justly
dreaded the revenge, or rather the justice, of the veteran general, who
might speedily assemble an army in Thrace to punish the assassins, and
perhaps to enjoy the fruits of their crime. Delay afforded time for rash
communications and honest confessions: Artaban and his accomplices were
condemned by the senate, but the extreme clemency of Justinian detained
them in the gentle confinement of the palace, till he pardoned their
flagitious attempt against his throne and life. If the emperor forgave
his enemies, he must cordially embrace a friend whose victories were
alone remembered, and who was endeared to his prince by the recent
circumstances of their common danger. Belisarius reposed from his toils,
in the high station of general of the East and count of the domestics;
and the older consuls and patricians respectfully yielded the precedency
of rank to the peerless merit of the first of the Romans. The first
of the Romans still submitted to be the slave of his wife; but the
servitude of habit and affection became less disgraceful when the death
of Theodora had removed the baser influence of fear. Joannina, their
daughter, and the sole heiress of their fortunes, was betrothed to
Anastasius, the grandson, or rather the nephew, of the empress, whose
kind interposition forwarded the consummation of their youthful loves.
But the power of Theodora expired, the parents of Joannina returned, and
her honor, perhaps her happiness, were sacrificed to the revenge of an
unfeeling mother, who dissolved the imperfect nuptials before they had
been ratified by the ceremonies of the church.

Before the departure of Belisarius, Perusia was besieged, and few cities
were impregnable to the Gothic arms. Ravenna, Ancona, and Crotona, still
resisted the Barbarians; and when Totila asked in marriage one of the
daughters of France, he was stung by the just reproach that the king of
Italy was unworthy of his title till it was acknowledged by the Roman
people. Three thousand of the bravest soldiers had been left to
defend the capital. On the suspicion of a monopoly, they massacred the
governor, and announced to Justinian, by a deputation of the clergy,
that unless their offence was pardoned, and their arrears were
satisfied, they should instantly accept the tempting offers of Totila.
But the officer who succeeded to the command (his name was Diogenes)
deserved their esteem and confidence; and the Goths, instead of finding
an easy conquest, encountered a vigorous resistance from the soldiers
and people, who patiently endured the loss of the port and of all
maritime supplies. The siege of Rome would perhaps have been raised,
if the liberality of Totila to the Isaurians had not encouraged some of
their venal countrymen to copy the example of treason. In a dark night,
while the Gothic trumpets sounded on another side, they silently opened
the gate of St. Paul: the Barbarians rushed into the city; and the
flying garrison was intercepted before they could reach the harbor of
Centumcellæ. A soldier trained in the school of Belisarius, Paul of
Cilicia, retired with four hundred men to the mole of Hadrian. They
repelled the Goths; but they felt the approach of famine; and their
aversion to the taste of horse-flesh confirmed their resolution to risk
the event of a desperate and decisive sally. But their spirit insensibly
stooped to the offers of capitulation; they retrieved their arrears of
pay, and preserved their arms and horses, by enlisting in the service of
Totila; their chiefs, who pleaded a laudable attachment to their wives
and children in the East, were dismissed with honor; and above four
hundred enemies, who had taken refuge in the sanctuaries, were saved
by the clemency of the victor. He no longer entertained a wish of
destroying the edifices of Rome, which he now respected as the seat
of the Gothic kingdom: the senate and people were restored to their
country; the means of subsistence were liberally provided; and Totila,
in the robe of peace, exhibited the equestrian games of the circus.
Whilst he amused the eyes of the multitude, four hundred vessels were
prepared for the embarkation of his troops. The cities of Rhegium
and Tarentum were reduced: he passed into Sicily, the object of his
implacable resentment; and the island was stripped of its gold and
silver, of the fruits of the earth, and of an infinite number of horses,
sheep, and oxen. Sardinia and Corsica obeyed the fortune of Italy; and
the sea-coast of Greece was visited by a fleet of three hundred galleys.
The Goths were landed in Corcyra and the ancient continent of Epirus;
they advanced as far as Nicopolis, the trophy of Augustus, and Dodona,
once famous by the oracle of Jove. In every step of his victories, the
wise Barbarian repeated to Justinian the desire of peace, applauded the
concord of their predecessors, and offered to employ the Gothic arms in
the service of the empire.

Justinian was deaf to the voice of peace: but he neglected the
prosecution of war; and the indolence of his temper disappointed, in
some degree, the obstinacy of his passions. From this salutary slumber
the emperor was awakened by the pope Vigilius and the patrician
Cethegus, who appeared before his throne, and adjured him, in the name
of God and the people, to resume the conquest and deliverance of Italy.
In the choice of the generals, caprice, as well as judgment, was shown.
A fleet and army sailed for the relief of Sicily, under the conduct
of Liberius; but his youth and want of experience were afterwards
discovered, and before he touched the shores of the island he was
overtaken by his successor. In the place of Liberius, the conspirator
Artaban was raised from a prison to military honors; in the pious
presumption, that gratitude would animate his valor and fortify his
allegiance. Belisarius reposed in the shade of his laurels, but the
command of the principal army was reserved for Germanus, the emperor's
nephew, whose rank and merit had been long depressed by the jealousy of
the court. Theodora had injured him in the rights of a private citizen,
the marriage of his children, and the testament of his brother; and
although his conduct was pure and blameless, Justinian was displeased
that he should be thought worthy of the confidence of the malecontents.
The life of Germanus was a lesson of implicit obedience: he nobly
refused to prostitute his name and character in the factions of
the circus: the gravity of his manners was tempered by innocent
cheerfulness; and his riches were lent without interest to indigent or
deserving friends. His valor had formerly triumphed over the Sclavonians
of the Danube and the rebels of Africa: the first report of his
promotion revived the hopes of the Italians; and he was privately
assured, that a crowd of Roman deserters would abandon, on his approach,
the standard of Totila. His second marriage with Malasontha, the
granddaughter of Theodoric endeared Germanus to the Goths themselves;
and they marched with reluctance against the father of a royal infant
the last offspring of the line of Amali. A splendid allowance was
assigned by the emperor: the general contribute his private fortune: his
two sons were popular and active and he surpassed, in the promptitude
and success of his levies the expectation of mankind. He was permitted
to select some squadrons of Thracian cavalry: the veterans, as well as
the youth of Constantinople and Europe, engaged their voluntary service;
and as far as the heart of Germany, his fame and liberality attracted
the aid of the Barbarians. The Romans advanced to Sardica; an army of
Sclavonians fled before their march; but within two days of their final
departure, the designs of Germanus were terminated by his malady and
death. Yet the impulse which he had given to the Italian war still
continued to act with energy and effect. The maritime towns Ancona,
Crotona, Centumcellæ, resisted the assaults of Totila Sicily was reduced
by the zeal of Artaban, and the Gothic navy was defeated near the coast
of the Adriatic. The two fleets were almost equal, forty-seven to fifty
galleys: the victory was decided by the knowledge and dexterity of the
Greeks; but the ships were so closely grappled, that only twelve of
the Goths escaped from this unfortunate conflict. They affected to
depreciate an element in which they were unskilled; but their own
experience confirmed the truth of a maxim, that the master of the sea
will always acquire the dominion of the land.

After the loss of Germanus, the nations were provoked to smile, by the
strange intelligence, that the command of the Roman armies was given to
a eunuch. But the eunuch Narses is ranked among the few who have rescued
that unhappy name from the contempt and hatred of mankind. A feeble,
diminutive body concealed the soul of a statesman and a warrior. His
youth had been employed in the management of the loom and distaff, in
the cares of the household, and the service of female luxury; but while
his hands were busy, he secretly exercised the faculties of a vigorous
and discerning mind. A stranger to the schools and the camp, he studied
in the palace to dissemble, to flatter, and to persuade; and as soon
as he approached the person of the emperor, Justinian listened with
surprise and pleasure to the manly counsels of his chamberlain and
private treasurer. The talents of Narses were tried and improved in
frequent embassies: he led an army into Italy acquired a practical
knowledge of the war and the country, and presumed to strive with the
genius of Belisarius. Twelve years after his return, the eunuch was
chosen to achieve the conquest which had been left imperfect by the
first of the Roman generals. Instead of being dazzled by vanity or
emulation, he seriously declared that, unless he were armed with an
adequate force, he would never consent to risk his own glory and that
of his sovereign. Justinian granted to the favorite what he might have
denied to the hero: the Gothic war was rekindled from its ashes, and the
preparations were not unworthy of the ancient majesty of the empire. The
key of the public treasure was put into his hand, to collect magazines,
to levy soldiers, to purchase arms and horses, to discharge the arrears
of pay, and to tempt the fidelity of the fugitives and deserters. The
troops of Germanus were still in arms; they halted at Salona in the
expectation of a new leader; and legions of subjects and allies were
created by the well-known liberality of the eunuch Narses. The king
of the Lombards satisfied or surpassed the obligations of a treaty,
by lending two thousand two hundred of his bravest warriors, who were
followed by three thousand of their martial attendants. Three thousand
Heruli fought on horseback under Philemuth, their native chief; and the
noble Aratus, who adopted the manners and discipline of Rome, conducted
a band of veterans of the same nation. Dagistheus was released from
prison to command the Huns; and Kobad, the grandson and nephew of
the great king, was conspicuous by the regal tiara at the head of his
faithful Persians, who had devoted themselves to the fortunes of their
prince. Absolute in the exercise of his authority, more absolute in the
affection of his troops, Narses led a numerous and gallant army from
Philippopolis to Salona, from whence he coasted the eastern side of the
Adriatic as far as the confines of Italy. His progress was checked. The
East could not supply vessels capable of transporting such multitudes of
men and horses. The Franks, who, in the general confusion, had usurped
the greater part of the Venetian province, refused a free passage to the
friends of the Lombards. The station of Verona was occupied by Teias,
with the flower of the Gothic forces; and that skilful commander
had overspread the adjacent country with the fall of woods and the
inundation of waters. In this perplexity, an officer of experience
proposed a measure, secure by the appearance of rashness; that the
Roman army should cautiously advance along the seashore, while the fleet
preceded their march, and successively cast a bridge of boats over the
mouths of the rivers, the Timavus, the Brenta, the Adige, and the
Po, that fall into the Adriatic to the north of Ravenna. Nine days he
reposed in the city, collected the fragments of the Italian army, and
marching towards Rimini to meet the defiance of an insulting enemy.



Chapter XLIII: Last Victory And Death Of Belisarius, Death Of Justinian.--Part III.

The prudence of Narses impelled him to speedy and decisive action.
His powers were the last effort of the state; the cost of each day
accumulated the enormous account; and the nations, untrained to
discipline or fatigue, might be rashly provoked to turn their arms
against each other, or against their benefactor. The same considerations
might have tempered the ardor of Totila. But he was conscious that the
clergy and people of Italy aspired to a second revolution: he felt or
suspected the rapid progress of treason; and he resolved to risk the
Gothic kingdom on the chance of a day, in which the valiant would be
animated by instant danger and the disaffected might be awed by mutual
ignorance. In his march from Ravenna, the Roman general chastised the
garrison of Rimini, traversed in a direct line the hills of Urbino, and
reentered the Flaminian way, nine miles beyond the perforated rock,
an obstacle of art and nature which might have stopped or retarded his
progress. The Goths were assembled in the neighborhood of Rome, they
advanced without delay to seek a superior enemy, and the two armies
approached each other at the distance of one hundred furlongs, between
Tagina and the sepulchres of the Gauls. The haughty message of Narses
was an offer, not of peace, but of pardon. The answer of the Gothic
king declared his resolution to die or conquer. "What day," said the
messenger, "will you fix for the combat?" "The eighth day," replied
Totila; but early the next morning he attempted to surprise a foe,
suspicious of deceit, and prepared for battle. Ten thousand Heruli
and Lombards, of approved valor and doubtful faith, were placed in the
centre. Each of the wings was composed of eight thousand Romans; the
right was guarded by the cavalry of the Huns, the left was covered by
fifteen hundred chosen horse, destined, according to the emergencies
of action, to sustain the retreat of their friends, or to encompass the
flank of the enemy. From his proper station at the head of the right
wing, the eunuch rode along the line, expressing by his voice and
countenance the assurance of victory; exciting the soldiers of the
emperor to punish the guilt and madness of a band of robbers; and
exposing to their view gold chains, collars, and bracelets, the rewards
of military virtue. From the event of a single combat they drew an omen
of success; and they beheld with pleasure the courage of fifty archers,
who maintained a small eminence against three successive attacks of the
Gothic cavalry. At the distance only of two bow-shots, the armies spent
the morning in dreadful suspense, and the Romans tasted some necessary
food, without unloosing the cuirass from their breast, or the bridle
from their horses. Narses awaited the charge; and it was delayed by
Totila till he had received his last succors of two thousand Goths.
While he consumed the hours in fruitless treaty, the king exhibited in
a narrow space the strength and agility of a warrior. His armor was
enchased with gold; his purple banner floated with the wind: he cast
his lance into the air; caught it with the right hand; shifted it to the
left; threw himself backwards; recovered his seat; and managed a fiery
steed in all the paces and evolutions of the equestrian school. As soon
as the succors had arrived, he retired to his tent, assumed the dress
and arms of a private soldier, and gave the signal of a battle. The
first line of cavalry advanced with more courage than discretion, and
left behind them the infantry of the second line. They were soon engaged
between the horns of a crescent, into which the adverse wings had been
insensibly curved, and were saluted from either side by the volleys of
four thousand archers. Their ardor, and even their distress, drove them
forwards to a close and unequal conflict, in which they could only use
their lances against an enemy equally skilled in all the instruments
of war. A generous emulation inspired the Romans and their Barbarian
allies; and Narses, who calmly viewed and directed their efforts,
doubted to whom he should adjudge the prize of superior bravery. The
Gothic cavalry was astonished and disordered, pressed and broken; and
the line of infantry, instead of presenting their spears, or opening
their intervals, were trampled under the feet of the flying horse. Six
thousand of the Goths were slaughtered without mercy in the field of
Tagina. Their prince, with five attendants, was overtaken by Asbad,
of the race of the Gepidæ. "Spare the king of Italy," cried a loyal
voice, and Asbad struck his lance through the body of Totila. The blow
was instantly revenged by the faithful Goths: they transported their
dying monarch seven miles beyond the scene of his disgrace; and his
last moments were not imbittered by the presence of an enemy. Compassion
afforded him the shelter of an obscure tomb; but the Romans were not
satisfied of their victory, till they beheld the corpse of the Gothic
king. His hat, enriched with gems, and his bloody robe, were presented
to Justinian by the messengers of triumph.

As soon as Narses had paid his devotions to the Author of victory, and
the blessed Virgin, his peculiar patroness, he praised, rewarded, and
dismissed the Lombards. The villages had been reduced to ashes by these
valiant savages; they ravished matrons and virgins on the altar; their
retreat was diligently watched by a strong detachment of regular forces,
who prevented a repetition of the like disorders. The victorious eunuch
pursued his march through Tuscany, accepted the submission of the Goths,
heard the acclamations, and often the complaints, of the Italians, and
encompassed the walls of Rome with the remainder of his formidable host.
Round the wide circumference, Narses assigned to himself, and to each
of his lieutenants, a real or a feigned attack, while he silently marked
the place of easy and unguarded entrance. Neither the fortifications of
Hadrian's mole, nor of the port, could long delay the progress of the
conqueror; and Justinian once more received the keys of Rome, which,
under his reign, had been five times taken and recovered. But the
deliverance of Rome was the last calamity of the Roman people. The
Barbarian allies of Narses too frequently confounded the privileges of
peace and war. The despair of the flying Goths found some consolation
in sanguinary revenge; and three hundred youths of the noblest families,
who had been sent as hostages beyond the Po, were inhumanly slain by the
successor of Totila. The fate of the senate suggests an awful lesson
of the vicissitude of human affairs. Of the senators whom Totila
had banished from their country, some were rescued by an officer of
Belisarius, and transported from Campania to Sicily; while others were
too guilty to confide in the clemency of Justinian, or too poor to
provide horses for their escape to the sea-shore. Their brethren
languished five years in a state of indigence and exile: the victory of
Narses revived their hopes; but their premature return to the metropolis
was prevented by the furious Goths; and all the fortresses of Campania
were stained with patrician blood. After a period of thirteen centuries,
the institution of Romulus expired; and if the nobles of Rome still
assumed the title of senators, few subsequent traces can be discovered
of a public council, or constitutional order. Ascend six hundred years,
and contemplate the kings of the earth soliciting an audience, as the
slaves or freedmen of the Roman senate!

The Gothic war was yet alive. The bravest of the nation retired beyond
the Po; and Teias was unanimously chosen to succeed and revenge their
departed hero. The new king immediately sent ambassadors to implore, or
rather to purchase, the aid of the Franks, and nobly lavished, for the
public safety, the riches which had been deposited in the palace of
Pavia. The residue of the royal treasure was guarded by his brother
Aligern, at Cumæa, in Campania; but the strong castle which Totila had
fortified was closely besieged by the arms of Narses. From the Alps
to the foot of Mount Vesuvius, the Gothic king, by rapid and secret
marches, advanced to the relief of his brother, eluded the vigilance
of the Roman chiefs, and pitched his camp on the banks of the Sarnus
or _Draco_, which flows from Nuceria into the Bay of Naples. The river
separated the two armies: sixty days were consumed in distant and
fruitless combats, and Teias maintained this important post till he was
deserted by his fleet and the hope of subsistence. With reluctant steps
he ascended the _Lactarian_ mount, where the physicians of Rome, since
the time of Galen, had sent their patients for the benefit of the air
and the milk. But the Goths soon embraced a more generous resolution:
to descend the hill, to dismiss their horses, and to die in arms, and
in the possession of freedom. The king marched at their head, bearing in
his right hand a lance, and an ample buckler in his left: with the
one he struck dead the foremost of the assailants; with the other he
received the weapons which every hand was ambitious to aim against his
life. After a combat of many hours, his left arm was fatigued by the
weight of twelve javelins which hung from his shield. Without moving
from his ground, or suspending his blows, the hero called aloud on his
attendants for a fresh buckler; but in the moment while his side was
uncovered, it was pierced by a mortal dart. He fell; and his head,
exalted on a spear, proclaimed to the nations that the Gothic kingdom
was no more. But the example of his death served only to animate the
companions who had sworn to perish with their leader. They fought till
darkness descended on the earth. They reposed on their arms. The combat
was renewed with the return of light, and maintained with unabated vigor
till the evening of the second day. The repose of a second night, the
want of water, and the loss of their bravest champions, determined the
surviving Goths to accept the fair capitulation which the prudence
of Narses was inclined to propose. They embraced the alternative
of residing in Italy, as the subjects and soldiers of Justinian, or
departing with a portion of their private wealth, in search of some
independent country. Yet the oath of fidelity or exile was alike
rejected by one thousand Goths, who broke away before the treaty was
signed, and boldly effected their retreat to the walls of Pavia. The
spirit, as well as the situation, of Aligern prompted him to imitate
rather than to bewail his brother: a strong and dexterous archer, he
transpierced with a single arrow the armor and breast of his antagonist;
and his military conduct defended Cumæ above a year against the forces
of the Romans. Their industry had scooped the Sibyl's cave into a
prodigious mine; combustible materials were introduced to consume the
temporary props: the wall and the gate of Cumæ sunk into the cavern, but
the ruins formed a deep and inaccessible precipice. On the fragment of
a rock Aligern stood alone and unshaken, till he calmly surveyed the
hopeless condition of his country, and judged it more honorable to be
the friend of Narses, than the slave of the Franks. After the death of
Teias, the Roman general separated his troops to reduce the cities
of Italy; Lucca sustained a long and vigorous siege: and such was the
humanity or the prudence of Narses, that the repeated perfidy of the
inhabitants could not provoke him to exact the forfeit lives of their
hostages. These hostages were dismissed in safety; and their grateful
zeal at length subdued the obstinacy of their countrymen.

Before Lucca had surrendered, Italy was overwhelmed by a new deluge of
Barbarians. A feeble youth, the grandson of Clovis, reigned over the
Austrasians or oriental Franks. The guardians of Theodebald entertained
with coldness and reluctance the magnificent promises of the Gothic
ambassadors. But the spirit of a martial people outstripped the timid
counsels of the court: two brothers, Lothaire and Buccelin, the dukes
of the Alemanni, stood forth as the leaders of the Italian war; and
seventy-five thousand Germans descended in the autumn from the Rhætian
Alps into the plain of Milan. The vanguard of the Roman army was
stationed near the Po, under the conduct of Fulcaris, a bold Herulian,
who rashly conceived that personal bravery was the sole duty and merit
of a commander. As he marched without order or precaution along the
Æmilian way, an ambuscade of Franks suddenly rose from the amphitheatre
of Parma; his troops were surprised and routed; but their leader refused
to fly; declaring to the last moment, that death was less terrible
than the angry countenance of Narses. The death of Fulcaris, and the
retreat of the surviving chiefs, decided the fluctuating and rebellious
temper of the Goths; they flew to the standard of their deliverers, and
admitted them into the cities which still resisted the arms of the
Roman general. The conqueror of Italy opened a free passage to the
irresistible torrent of Barbarians. They passed under the walls of
Cesena, and answered by threats and reproaches the advice of Aligern,
that the Gothic treasures could no longer repay the labor of an
invasion. Two thousand Franks were destroyed by the skill and valor
of Narses himself, who sailed from Rimini at the head of three hundred
horse, to chastise the licentious rapine of their march. On the confines
of Samnium the two brothers divided their forces. With the right wing,
Buccelin assumed the spoil of Campania, Lucania, and Bruttium; with
the left, Lothaire accepted the plunder of Apulia and Calabria. They
followed the coast of the Mediterranean and the Adriatic, as far as
Rhegium and Otranto, and the extreme lands of Italy were the term
of their destructive progress. The Franks, who were Christians and
Catholics, contented themselves with simple pillage and occasional
murder. But the churches which their piety had spared, were stripped by
the sacrilegious hands of the Alamanni, who sacrificed horses' heads to
their native deities of the woods and rivers; they melted or profaned
the consecrated vessels, and the ruins of shrines and altars were
stained with the blood of the faithful. Buccelin was actuated by
ambition, and Lothaire by avarice. The former aspired to restore the
Gothic kingdom; the latter, after a promise to his brother of speedy
succors, returned by the same road to deposit his treasure beyond the
Alps. The strength of their armies was already wasted by the change of
climate and contagion of disease: the Germans revelled in the vintage of
Italy; and their own intemperance avenged, in some degree, the miseries
of a defenceless people.

At the entrance of the spring, the Imperial troops, who had guarded
the cities, assembled, to the number of eighteen thousand men, in
the neighborhood of Rome. Their winter hours had not been consumed
in idleness. By the command, and after the example, of Narses, they
repeated each day their military exercise on foot and on horseback,
accustomed their ear to obey the sound of the trumpet, and practised the
steps and evolutions of the Pyrrhic dance. From the Straits of Sicily,
Buccelin, with thirty thousand Franks and Alamanni, slowly moved towards
Capua, occupied with a wooden tower the bridge of Casilinum, covered
his right by the stream of the Vulturnus, and secured the rest of his
encampment by a rampart of sharp stakes, and a circle of wagons, whose
wheels were buried in the earth. He impatiently expected the return of
Lothaire; ignorant, alas! that his brother could never return, and that
the chief and his army had been swept away by a strange disease on the
banks of the Lake Benacus, between Trent and Verona. The banners
of Narses soon approached the Vulturnus, and the eyes of Italy were
anxiously fixed on the event of this final contest. Perhaps the talents
of the Roman general were most conspicuous in the calm operations which
precede the tumult of a battle. His skilful movements intercepted the
subsistence of the Barbarian deprived him of the advantage of the bridge
and river, and in the choice of the ground and moment of action reduced
him to comply with the inclination of his enemy. On the morning of the
important day, when the ranks were already formed, a servant, for some
trivial fault, was killed by his master, one of the leaders of the
Heruli. The justice or passion of Narses was awakened: he summoned the
offender to his presence, and without listening to his excuses, gave the
signal to the minister of death. If the cruel master had not infringed
the laws of his nation, this arbitrary execution was not less unjust
than it appears to have been imprudent. The Heruli felt the indignity;
they halted: but the Roman general, without soothing their rage, or
expecting their resolution, called aloud, as the trumpets sounded, that
unless they hastened to occupy their place, they would lose the honor
of the victory. His troops were disposed in a long front, the cavalry on
the wings; in the centre, the heavy-armed foot; the archers and slingers
in the rear. The Germans advanced in a sharp-pointed column, of the form
of a triangle or solid wedge. They pierced the feeble centre of Narses,
who received them with a smile into the fatal snare, and directed his
wings of cavalry insensibly to wheel on their flanks and encompass their
rear. The host of the Franks and Alamanni consisted of infantry: a
sword and buckler hung by their side; and they used, as their weapons
of offence, a weighty hatchet and a hooked javelin, which were only
formidable in close combat, or at a short distance. The flower of the
Roman archers, on horseback, and in complete armor, skirmished without
peril round this immovable phalanx; supplied by active speed the
deficiency of number; and aimed their arrows against a crowd of
Barbarians, who, instead of a cuirass and helmet, were covered by a
loose garment of fur or linen. They paused, they trembled, their ranks
were confounded, and in the decisive moment the Heruli, preferring glory
to revenge, charged with rapid violence the head of the column. Their
leader, Sinbal, and Aligern, the Gothic prince, deserved the prize
of superior valor; and their example excited the victorious troops to
achieve with swords and spears the destruction of the enemy. Buccelin,
and the greatest part of his army, perished on the field of battle, in
the waters of the Vulturnus, or by the hands of the enraged peasants:
but it may seem incredible, that a victory, which no more than five of
the Alamanni survived, could be purchased with the loss of fourscore
Romans. Seven thousand Goths, the relics of the war, defended the
fortress of Campsa till the ensuing spring; and every messenger of
Narses announced the reduction of the Italian cities, whose names were
corrupted by the ignorance or vanity of the Greeks. After the battle
of Casilinum, Narses entered the capital; the arms and treasures of the
Goths, the Franks, and the Alamanni, were displayed; his soldiers, with
garlands in their hands, chanted the praises of the conqueror; and Rome,
for the last time, beheld the semblance of a triumph.

After a reign of sixty years, the throne of the Gothic kings was filled
by the exarchs of Ravenna, the representatives in peace and war of the
emperor of the Romans. Their jurisdiction was soon reduced to the limits
of a narrow province: but Narses himself, the first and most powerful
of the exarchs, administered above fifteen years the entire kingdom of
Italy. Like Belisarius, he had deserved the honors of envy, calumny,
and disgrace: but the favorite eunuch still enjoyed the confidence of
Justinian; or the leader of a victorious army awed and repressed the
ingratitude of a timid court. Yet it was not by weak and mischievous
indulgence that Narses secured the attachment of his troops. Forgetful
of the past, and regardless of the future, they abused the present hour
of prosperity and peace. The cities of Italy resounded with the noise
of drinking and dancing; the spoils of victory were wasted in sensual
pleasures; and nothing (says Agathias) remained unless to exchange their
shields and helmets for the soft lute and the capacious hogshead. In a
manly oration, not unworthy of a Roman censor, the eunuch reproved these
disorderly vices, which sullied their fame, and endangered their
safety. The soldiers blushed and obeyed; discipline was confirmed; the
fortifications were restored; a _duke_ was stationed for the defence and
military command of each of the principal cities; and the eye of Narses
pervaded the ample prospect from Calabria to the Alps. The remains of
the Gothic nation evacuated the country, or mingled with the people; the
Franks, instead of revenging the death of Buccelin, abandoned, without
a struggle, their Italian conquests; and the rebellious Sinbal, chief
of the Heruli, was subdued, taken and hung on a lofty gallows by the
inflexible justice of the exarch. The civil state of Italy, after the
agitation of a long tempest, was fixed by a pragmatic sanction, which
the emperor promulgated at the request of the pope. Justinian introduced
his own jurisprudence into the schools and tribunals of the West; he
ratified the acts of Theodoric and his immediate successors, but every
deed was rescinded and abolished which force had extorted, or fear had
subscribed, under the usurpation of Totila. A moderate theory was framed
to reconcile the rights of property with the safety of prescription, the
claims of the state with the poverty of the people, and the pardon of
offences with the interest of virtue and order of society. Under the
exarchs of Ravenna, Rome was degraded to the second rank. Yet the
senators were gratified by the permission of visiting their estates
in Italy, and of approaching, without obstacle, the throne of
Constantinople: the regulation of weights and measures was delegated
to the pope and senate; and the salaries of lawyers and physicians, of
orators and grammarians, were destined to preserve, or rekindle,
the light of science in the ancient capital. Justinian might dictate
benevolent edicts, and Narses might second his wishes by the restoration
of cities, and more especially of churches. But the power of kings is
most effectual to destroy; and the twenty years of the Gothic war had
consummated the distress and depopulation of Italy. As early as the
fourth campaign, under the discipline of Belisarius himself, fifty
thousand laborers died of hunger in the narrow region of Picenum; and a
strict interpretation of the evidence of Procopius would swell the loss
of Italy above the total sum of her present inhabitants.

I desire to believe, but I dare not affirm, that Belisarius sincerely
rejoiced in the triumph of Narses. Yet the consciousness of his own
exploits might teach him to esteem without jealousy the merit of a
rival; and the repose of the aged warrior was crowned by a last victory,
which saved the emperor and the capital. The Barbarians, who annually
visited the provinces of Europe, were less discouraged by some
accidental defeats, than they were excited by the double hope of spoil
and of subsidy. In the thirty-second winter of Justinian's reign, the
Danube was deeply frozen: Zabergan led the cavalry of the Bulgarians,
and his standard was followed by a promiscuous multitude of Sclavonians.
* The savage chief passed, without opposition, the river and the
mountains, spread his troops over Macedonia and Thrace, and advanced
with no more than seven thousand horse to the long wall, which should
have defended the territory of Constantinople. But the works of man are
impotent against the assaults of nature: a recent earthquake had shaken
the foundations of the wall; and the forces of the empire were employed
on the distant frontiers of Italy, Africa, and Persia. The seven
_schools_, or companies of the guards or domestic troops, had been
augmented to the number of five thousand five hundred men, whose
ordinary station was in the peaceful cities of Asia. But the places
of the brave Armenians were insensibly supplied by lazy citizens, who
purchased an exemption from the duties of civil life, without being
exposed to the dangers of military service. Of such soldiers, few could
be tempted to sally from the gates; and none could be persuaded to
remain in the field, unless they wanted strength and speed to escape
from the Bulgarians. The report of the fugitives exaggerated the numbers
and fierceness of an enemy, who had polluted holy virgins, and abandoned
new-born infants to the dogs and vultures; a crowd of rustics, imploring
food and protection, increased the consternation of the city, and the
tents of Zabergan were pitched at the distance of twenty miles, on the
banks of a small river, which encircles Melanthias, and afterwards falls
into the Propontis. Justinian trembled: and those who had only seen the
emperor in his old age, were pleased to suppose, that he had _lost_ the
alacrity and vigor of his youth. By his command the vessels of gold and
silver were removed from the churches in the neighborhood, and even
the suburbs, of Constantinople; the ramparts were lined with trembling
spectators; the golden gate was crowded with useless generals and
tribunes, and the senate shared the fatigues and the apprehensions of
the populace.

But the eyes of the prince and people were directed to a feeble veteran,
who was compelled by the public danger to resume the armor in which he
had entered Carthage and defended Rome. The horses of the royal stables,
of private citizens, and even of the circus, were hastily collected; the
emulation of the old and young was roused by the name of Belisarius,
and his first encampment was in the presence of a victorious enemy. His
prudence, and the labor of the friendly peasants, secured, with a ditch
and rampart, the repose of the night; innumerable fires, and clouds of
dust, were artfully contrived to magnify the opinion of his strength;
his soldiers suddenly passed from despondency to presumption; and,
while ten thousand voices demanded the battle, Belisarius dissembled his
knowledge, that in the hour of trial he must depend on the firmness of
three hundred veterans. The next morning the Bulgarian cavalry advanced
to the charge. But they heard the shouts of multitudes, they beheld the
arms and discipline of the front; they were assaulted on the flanks by
two ambuscades which rose from the woods; their foremost warriors fell
by the hand of the aged hero and his guards; and the swiftness of their
evolutions was rendered useless by the close attack and rapid pursuit of
the Romans. In this action (so speedy was their flight) the Bulgarians
lost only four hundred horse; but Constantinople was saved; and
Zabergan, who felt the hand of a master, withdrew to a respectful
distance. But his friends were numerous in the councils of the
emperor, and Belisarius obeyed with reluctance the commands of envy and
Justinian, which forbade him to achieve the deliverance of his country.
On his return to the city, the people, still conscious of their danger,
accompanied his triumph with acclamations of joy and gratitude, which
were imputed as a crime to the victorious general. But when he entered
the palace, the courtiers were silent, and the emperor, after a cold and
thankless embrace, dismissed him to mingle with the train of slaves.
Yet so deep was the impression of his glory on the minds of men, that
Justinian, in the seventy-seventh year of his age, was encouraged to
advance near forty miles from the capital, and to inspect in person the
restoration of the long wall. The Bulgarians wasted the summer in the
plains of Thrace; but they were inclined to peace by the failure of
their rash attempts on Greece and the Chersonesus. A menace of killing
their prisoners quickened the payment of heavy ransoms; and the
departure of Zabergan was hastened by the report, that double-prowed
vessels were built on the Danube to intercept his passage. The danger
was soon forgotten; and a vain question, whether their sovereign had
shown more wisdom or weakness, amused the idleness of the city.



Chapter XLIII: Last Victory And Death Of Belisarius, Death Of Justinian.--Part IV.

About two years after the last victory of Belisarius, the emperor
returned from a Thracian journey of health, or business, or devotion.
Justinian was afflicted by a pain in his head; and his private entry
countenanced the rumor of his death. Before the third hour of the day,
the bakers' shops were plundered of their bread, the houses were shut,
and every citizen, with hope or terror, prepared for the impending
tumult. The senators themselves, fearful and suspicious, were convened
at the ninth hour; and the præfect received their commands to visit
every quarter of the city, and proclaim a general illumination for
the recovery of the emperor's health. The ferment subsided; but every
accident betrayed the impotence of the government, and the factious
temper of the people: the guards were disposed to mutiny as often as
their quarters were changed, or their pay was withheld: the frequent
calamities of fires and earthquakes afforded the opportunities of
disorder; the disputes of the blues and greens, of the orthodox and
heretics, degenerated into bloody battles; and, in the presence of the
Persian ambassador, Justinian blushed for himself and for his subjects.
Capricious pardon and arbitrary punishment imbittered the irksomeness
and discontent of a long reign: a conspiracy was formed in the palace;
and, unless we are deceived by the names of Marcellus and Sergius, the
most virtuous and the most profligate of the courtiers were associated
in the same designs. They had fixed the time of the execution; their
rank gave them access to the royal banquet; and their black slaves were
stationed in the vestibule and porticos, to announce the death of the
tyrant, and to excite a sedition in the capital. But the indiscretion
of an accomplice saved the poor remnant of the days of Justinian. The
conspirators were detected and seized, with daggers hidden under their
garments: Marcellus died by his own hand, and Sergius was dragged from
the sanctuary. Pressed by remorse, or tempted by the hopes of safety, he
accused two officers of the household of Belisarius; and torture forced
them to declare that they had acted according to the secret instructions
of their patron. Posterity will not hastily believe that a hero who,
in the vigor of life, had disdained the fairest offers of ambition and
revenge, should stoop to the murder of his prince, whom he could not
long expect to survive. His followers were impatient to fly; but flight
must have been supported by rebellion, and he had lived enough for
nature and for glory. Belisarius appeared before the council with less
fear than indignation: after forty years' service, the emperor had
prejudged his guilt; and injustice was sanctified by the presence
and authority of the patriarch. The life of Belisarius was graciously
spared; but his fortunes were sequestered, and, from December to July,
he was guarded as a prisoner in his own palace. At length his innocence
was acknowledged; his freedom and honor were restored; and death, which
might be hastened by resentment and grief, removed him from the world
in about eight months after his deliverance. The name of Belisarius can
never die but instead of the funeral, the monuments, the statues, so
justly due to his memory, I only read, that his treasures, the spoil of
the Goths and Vandals, were immediately confiscated by the emperor. Some
decent portion was reserved, however for the use of his widow: and as
Antonina had much to repent, she devoted the last remains of her life
and fortune to the foundation of a convent. Such is the simple and
genuine narrative of the fall of Belisarius and the ingratitude of
Justinian. That he was deprived of his eyes, and reduced by envy to beg
his bread, "Give a penny to Belisarius the general!" is a fiction of
later times, which has obtained credit, or rather favor, as a strange
example of the vicissitudes of fortune.

If the emperor could rejoice in the death of Belisarius, he enjoyed
the base satisfaction only eight months, the last period of a reign
of thirty-eight years, and a life of eighty-three years. It would
be difficult to trace the character of a prince who is not the most
conspicuous object of his own times: but the confessions of an enemy may
be received as the safest evidence of his virtues. The resemblance
of Justinian to the bust of Domitian, is maliciously urged; with
the acknowledgment, however, of a well-proportioned figure, a ruddy
complexion, and a pleasing countenance. The emperor was easy of access,
patient of hearing, courteous and affable in discourse, and a master
of the angry passions which rage with such destructive violence in the
breast of a despot. Procopius praises his temper, to reproach him with
calm and deliberate cruelty: but in the conspiracies which attacked his
authority and person, a more candid judge will approve the justice, or
admire the clemency, of Justinian. He excelled in the private virtues
of chastity and temperance: but the impartial love of beauty would have
been less mischievous than his conjugal tenderness for Theodora; and his
abstemious diet was regulated, not by the prudence of a philosopher, but
the superstition of a monk. His repasts were short and frugal: on solemn
fasts, he contented himself with water and vegetables; and such was his
strength, as well as fervor, that he frequently passed two days, and as
many nights, without tasting any food. The measure of his sleep was not
less rigorous: after the repose of a single hour, the body was awakened
by the soul, and, to the astonishment of his chamberlain, Justinian
walked or studied till the morning light. Such restless application
prolonged his time for the acquisition of knowledge and the despatch of
business; and he might seriously deserve the reproach of confounding,
by minute and preposterous diligence, the general order of his
administration. The emperor professed himself a musician and architect,
a poet and philosopher, a lawyer and theologian; and if he failed in the
enterprise of reconciling the Christian sects, the review of the Roman
jurisprudence is a noble monument of his spirit and industry. In the
government of the empire, he was less wise, or less successful: the age
was unfortunate; the people was oppressed and discontented; Theodora
abused her power; a succession of bad ministers disgraced his judgment;
and Justinian was neither beloved in his life, nor regretted at his
death. The love of fame was deeply implanted in his breast, but he
condescended to the poor ambition of titles, honors, and contemporary
praise; and while he labored to fix the admiration, he forfeited the
esteem and affection, of the Romans. The design of the African and
Italian wars was boldly conceived and executed; and his penetration
discovered the talents of Belisarius in the camp, of Narses in the
palace. But the name of the emperor is eclipsed by the names of his
victorious generals; and Belisarius still lives, to upbraid the envy and
ingratitude of his sovereign. The partial favor of mankind applauds
the genius of a conqueror, who leads and directs his subjects in the
exercise of arms. The characters of Philip the Second and of Justinian
are distinguished by the cold ambition which delights in war, and
declines the dangers of the field. Yet a colossal statue of bronze
represented the emperor on horseback, preparing to march against the
Persians in the habit and armor of Achilles. In the great square before
the church of St. Sophia, this monument was raised on a brass column
and a stone pedestal of seven steps; and the pillar of Theodosius, which
weighed seven thousand four hundred pounds of silver, was removed from
the same place by the avarice and vanity of Justinian. Future princes
were more just or indulgent to _his_ memory; the elder Andronicus, in
the beginning of the fourteenth century, repaired and beautified his
equestrian statue: since the fall of the empire it has been melted into
cannon by the victorious Turks.

I shall conclude this chapter with the comets, the earthquakes, and the
plague, which astonished or afflicted the age of Justinian.

I. In the fifth year of his reign, and in the month of September, a
comet was seen during twenty days in the western quarter of the heavens,
and which shot its rays into the north. Eight years afterwards, while
the sun was in Capricorn, another comet appeared to follow in the
Sagittary; the size was gradually increasing; the head was in the east,
the tail in the west, and it remained visible above forty days. The
nations, who gazed with astonishment, expected wars and calamities
from their baleful influence; and these expectations were abundantly
fulfilled. The astronomers dissembled their ignorance of the nature of
these blazing stars, which they affected to represent as the floating
meteors of the air; and few among them embraced the simple notion of
Seneca and the Chaldeans, that they are only planets of a longer
period and more eccentric motion. Time and science have justified the
conjectures and predictions of the Roman sage: the telescope has opened
new worlds to the eyes of astronomers; and, in the narrow space of
history and fable, one and the same comet is already found to have
revisited the earth in _seven_ equal revolutions of five hundred and
seventy-five years. The _first_, which ascends beyond the Christian æra
one thousand seven hundred and sixty-seven years, is coeval with Ogyges,
the father of Grecian antiquity. And this appearance explains the
tradition which Varro has preserved, that under his reign the planet
Venus changed her color, size, figure, and course; a prodigy without
example either in past or succeeding ages. The _second_ visit, in the
year eleven hundred and ninety-three, is darkly implied in the fable of
Electra, the seventh of the Pleiads, who have been reduced to six since
the time of the Trojan war. That nymph, the wife of Dardanus, was unable
to support the ruin of her country: she abandoned the dances of her
sister orbs, fled from the zodiac to the north pole, and obtained,
from her dishevelled locks, the name of the _comet_. The _third_ period
expires in the year six hundred and eighteen, a date that exactly agrees
with the tremendous comet of the Sibyl, and perhaps of Pliny, which
arose in the West two generations before the reign of Cyrus. The
_fourth_ apparition, forty-four years before the birth of Christ, is of
all others the most splendid and important. After the death of Cæsar, a
long-haired star was conspicuous to Rome and to the nations, during the
games which were exhibited by young Octavian in honor of Venus and his
uncle. The vulgar opinion, that it conveyed to heaven the divine soul of
the dictator, was cherished and consecrated by the piety of a statesman;
while his secret superstition referred the comet to the glory of his own
times. The _fifth_ visit has been already ascribed to the fifth year of
Justinian, which coincides with the five hundred and thirty-first of
the Christian æra. And it may deserve notice, that in this, as in the
preceding instance, the comet was followed, though at a longer interval,
by a remarkable paleness of the sun. The _sixth_ return, in the year
eleven hundred and six, is recorded by the chronicles of Europe and
China: and in the first fervor of the crusades, the Christians and
the Mahometans might surmise, with equal reason, that it portended the
destruction of the Infidels. The _seventh_ phenomenon, of one thousand
six hundred and eighty, was presented to the eyes of an enlightened age.
The philosophy of Bayle dispelled a prejudice which Milton's muse had
so recently adorned, that the comet, "from its horrid hair shakes
pestilence and war." Its road in the heavens was observed with exquisite
skill by Flamstead and Cassini: and the mathematical science of
Bernoulli, Newton, and Halley, investigated the laws of its
revolutions. At the _eighth_ period, in the year two thousand three
hundred and fifty-five, their calculations may perhaps be verified
by the astronomers of some future capital in the Siberian or American
wilderness.

II. The near approach of a comet may injure or destroy the globe which
we inhabit; but the changes on its surface have been hitherto produced
by the action of volcanoes and earthquakes. The nature of the soil may
indicate the countries most exposed to these formidable concussions,
since they are caused by subterraneous fires, and such fires are kindled
by the union and fermentation of iron and sulphur. But their times
and effects appear to lie beyond the reach of human curiosity; and the
philosopher will discreetly abstain from the prediction of earthquakes,
till he has counted the drops of water that silently filtrate on
the inflammable mineral, and measured the caverns which increase by
resistance the explosion of the imprisoned air. Without assigning the
cause, history will distinguish the periods in which these calamitous
events have been rare or frequent, and will observe, that this fever of
the earth raged with uncommon violence during the reign of Justinian.
Each year is marked by the repetition of earthquakes, of such duration,
that Constantinople has been shaken above forty days; of such extent,
that the shock has been communicated to the whole surface of the globe,
or at least of the Roman empire. An impulsive or vibratory motion was
felt: enormous chasms were opened, huge and heavy bodies were discharged
into the air, the sea alternately advanced and retreated beyond its
ordinary bounds, and a mountain was torn from Libanus, and cast into
the waves, where it protected, as a mole, the new harbor of Botrys
in Phnicia. The stroke that agitates an ant-hill may crush the
insect-myriads in the dust; yet truth must extort confession that man
has industriously labored for his own destruction. The institution of
great cities, which include a nation within the limits of a wall, almost
realizes the wish of Caligula, that the Roman people had but one neck.
Two hundred and fifty thousand persons are said to have perished in the
earthquake of Antioch, whose domestic multitudes were swelled by the
conflux of strangers to the festival of the Ascension. The loss of
Berytus was of smaller account, but of much greater value. That city,
on the coast of Phnicia, was illustrated by the study of the civil
law, which opened the surest road to wealth and dignity: the schools of
Berytus were filled with the rising spirits of the age, and many a youth
was lost in the earthquake, who might have lived to be the scourge or
the guardian of his country. In these disasters, the architect becomes
the enemy of mankind. The hut of a savage, or the tent of an Arab, may
be thrown down without injury to the inhabitant; and the Peruvians had
reason to deride the folly of their Spanish conquerors, who with so
much cost and labor erected their own sepulchres. The rich marbles of a
patrician are dashed on his own head: a whole people is buried under the
ruins of public and private edifices, and the conflagration is kindled
and propagated by the innumerable fires which are necessary for the
subsistence and manufactures of a great city. Instead of the mutual
sympathy which might comfort and assist the distressed, they dreadfully
experience the vices and passions which are released from the fear
of punishment: the tottering houses are pillaged by intrepid avarice;
revenge embraces the moment, and selects the victim; and the earth often
swallows the assassin, or the ravisher, in the consummation of their
crimes. Superstition involves the present danger with invisible terrors;
and if the image of death may sometimes be subservient to the virtue or
repentance of individuals, an affrighted people is more forcibly moved
to expect the end of the world, or to deprecate with servile homage the
wrath of an avenging Deity.

III. Æthiopia and Egypt have been stigmatized, in every age, as the
original source and seminary of the plague. In a damp, hot, stagnating
air, this African fever is generated from the putrefaction of animal
substances, and especially from the swarms of locusts, not less
destructive to mankind in their death than in their lives. The fatal
disease which depopulated the earth in the time of Justinian and his
successors, first appeared in the neighborhood of Pelusium, between the
Serbonian bog and the eastern channel of the Nile. From thence, tracing
as it were a double path, it spread to the East, over Syria, Persia, and
the Indies, and penetrated to the West, along the coast of Africa,
and over the continent of Europe. In the spring of the second year,
Constantinople, during three or four months, was visited by the
pestilence; and Procopius, who observed its progress and symptoms
with the eyes of a physician, has emulated the skill and diligence of
Thucydides in the description of the plague of Athens. The infection
was sometimes announced by the visions of a distempered fancy, and the
victim despaired as soon as he had heard the menace and felt the stroke
of an invisible spectre. But the greater number, in their beds, in the
streets, in their usual occupation, were surprised by a slight fever; so
slight, indeed, that neither the pulse nor the color of the patient
gave any signs of the approaching danger. The same, the next, or
the succeeding day, it was declared by the swelling of the glands,
particularly those of the groin, of the armpits, and under the ear; and
when these buboes or tumors were opened, they were found to contain a
_coal_, or black substance, of the size of a lentil. If they came to a
just swelling and suppuration, the patient was saved by this kind and
natural discharge of the morbid humor. But if they continued hard and
dry, a mortification quickly ensued, and the fifth day was commonly
the term of his life. The fever was often accompanied with lethargy or
delirium; the bodies of the sick were covered with black pustules or
carbuncles, the symptoms of immediate death; and in the constitutions
too feeble to produce an irruption, the vomiting of blood was followed
by a mortification of the bowels. To pregnant women the plague was
generally mortal: yet one infant was drawn alive from his dead mother,
and three mothers survived the loss of their infected ftus. Youth was
the most perilous season; and the female sex was less susceptible than
the male: but every rank and profession was attacked with indiscriminate
rage, and many of those who escaped were deprived of the use of
their speech, without being secure from a return of the disorder. The
physicians of Constantinople were zealous and skilful; but their art
was baffled by the various symptoms and pertinacious vehemence of the
disease: the same remedies were productive of contrary effects, and the
event capriciously disappointed their prognostics of death or recovery.
The order of funerals, and the right of sepulchres, were confounded:
those who were left without friends or servants, lay unburied in the
streets, or in their desolate houses; and a magistrate was authorized to
collect the promiscuous heaps of dead bodies, to transport them by land
or water, and to inter them in deep pits beyond the precincts of the
city. Their own danger, and the prospect of public distress, awakened
some remorse in the minds of the most vicious of mankind: the confidence
of health again revived their passions and habits; but philosophy must
disdain the observation of Procopius, that the lives of such men were
guarded by the peculiar favor of fortune or Providence. He forgot, or
perhaps he secretly recollected, that the plague had touched the
person of Justinian himself; but the abstemious diet of the emperor may
suggest, as in the case of Socrates, a more rational and honorable cause
for his recovery. During his sickness, the public consternation
was expressed in the habits of the citizens; and their idleness and
despondence occasioned a general scarcity in the capital of the East.

Contagion is the inseparable symptom of the plague; which, by mutual
respiration, is transfused from the infected persons to the lungs and
stomach of those who approach them. While philosophers believe and
tremble, it is singular, that the existence of a real danger should have
been denied by a people most prone to vain and imaginary terrors. Yet
the fellow-citizens of Procopius were satisfied, by some short and
partial experience, that the infection could not be gained by the
closest conversation: and this persuasion might support the assiduity
of friends or physicians in the care of the sick, whom inhuman prudence
would have condemned to solitude and despair. But the fatal security,
like the predestination of the Turks, must have aided the progress
of the contagion; and those salutary precautions to which Europe is
indebted for her safety, were unknown to the government of Justinian.
No restraints were imposed on the free and frequent intercourse of the
Roman provinces: from Persia to France, the nations were mingled and
infected by wars and emigrations; and the pestilential odor which lurks
for years in a bale of cotton was imported, by the abuse of trade, into
the most distant regions. The mode of its propagation is explained
by the remark of Procopius himself, that it always spread from the
sea-coast to the inland country: the most sequestered islands and
mountains were successively visited; the places which had escaped the
fury of its first passage were alone exposed to the contagion of the
ensuing year. The winds might diffuse that subtile venom; but unless the
atmosphere be previously disposed for its reception, the plague would
soon expire in the cold or temperate climates of the earth. Such was the
universal corruption of the air, that the pestilence which burst forth
in the fifteenth year of Justinian was not checked or alleviated by any
difference of the seasons. In time, its first malignity was abated and
dispersed; the disease alternately languished and revived; but it was
not till the end of a calamitous period of fifty-two years, that mankind
recovered their health, or the air resumed its pure and salubrious
quality. No facts have been preserved to sustain an account, or even
a conjecture, of the numbers that perished in this extraordinary
mortality. I only find, that during three months, five, and at length
ten, thousand persons died each day at Constantinople; that many cities
of the East were left vacant, and that in several districts of Italy the
harvest and the vintage withered on the ground. The triple scourge of
war, pestilence, and famine, afflicted the subjects of Justinian; and
his reign is disgraced by the visible decrease of the human species,
which has never been repaired in some of the fairest countries of the
globe.



Chapter XLIV: Idea Of The Roman Jurisprudence.--Part I.

     Idea Of The Roman Jurisprudence.--The Laws Of The Kings--The
     Twelve Of The Decemvirs.--The Laws Of The People.--The
     Decrees Of The Senate.--The Edicts Of The Magistrates And
     Emperors--Authority Of The Civilians.--Code, Pandects,
     Novels, And Institutes Of Justinian:--I. Rights Of Persons.--
     II. Rights Of Things.--III. Private Injuries And Actions.--
     IV. Crimes And Punishments.

The vain titles of the victories of Justinian are crumbled into dust;
but the name of the legislator is inscribed on a fair and everlasting
monument. Under his reign, and by his care, the civil jurisprudence
was digested in the immortal works of the Code, the Pandects, and
the Institutes: the public reason of the Romans has been silently or
studiously transfused into the domestic institutions of Europe,, and the
laws of Justinian still command the respect or obedience of independent
nations. Wise or fortunate is the prince who connects his own reputation
with the honor or interest of a perpetual order of men. The defence of
their founder is the first cause, which in every age has exercised
the zeal and industry of the civilians. They piously commemorate his
virtues; dissemble or deny his failings; and fiercely chastise the guilt
or folly of the rebels, who presume to sully the majesty of the purple.
The idolatry of love has provoked, as it usually happens, the rancor
of opposition; the character of Justinian has been exposed to the blind
vehemence of flattery and invective; and the injustice of a sect (the
_Anti-Tribonians_,) has refused all praise and merit to the prince, his
ministers, and his laws. Attached to no party, interested only for the
truth and candor of history, and directed by the most temperate and
skilful guides, I enter with just diffidence on the subject of civil
law, which has exhausted so many learned lives, and clothed the walls of
such spacious libraries. In a single, if possible in a short, chapter,
I shall trace the Roman jurisprudence from Romulus to Justinian,
appreciate the labors of that emperor, and pause to contemplate the
principles of a science so important to the peace and happiness of
society. The laws of a nation form the most instructive portion of its
history; and although I have devoted myself to write the annals of a
declining monarchy, I shall embrace the occasion to breathe the pure and
invigorating air of the republic.

The primitive government of Rome was composed, with some political
skill, of an elective king, a council of nobles, and a general assembly
of the people. War and religion were administered by the supreme
magistrate; and he alone proposed the laws, which were debated in the
senate, and finally ratified or rejected by a majority of votes in
the thirty _curi_ or parishes of the city. Romulus, Numa, and Servius
Tullius, are celebrated as the most ancient legislators; and each
of them claims his peculiar part in the threefold division of
jurisprudence. The laws of marriage, the education of children, and the
authority of parents, which may seem to draw their origin from _nature_
itself, are ascribed to the untutored wisdom of Romulus. The law of
_nations_ and of religious worship, which Numa introduced, was derived
from his nocturnal converse with the nymph Egeria. The _civil_ law is
attributed to the experience of Servius: he balanced the rights and
fortunes of the seven classes of citizens; and guarded, by fifty new
regulations, the observance of contracts and the punishment of crimes.
The state, which he had inclined towards a democracy, was changed by the
last Tarquin into a lawless despotism; and when the kingly office was
abolished, the patricians engrossed the benefits of freedom. The royal
laws became odious or obsolete; the mysterious deposit was silently
preserved by the priests and nobles; and at the end of sixty years, the
citizens of Rome still complained that they were ruled by the arbitrary
sentence of the magistrates. Yet the positive institutions of the kings
had blended themselves with the public and private manners of the city,
some fragments of that venerable jurisprudence were compiled by the
diligence of antiquarians, and above twenty texts still speak the
rudeness of the Pelasgic idiom of the Latins.

I shall not repeat the well-known story of the Decemvirs, who sullied by
their actions the honor of inscribing on brass, or wood, or ivory, the
Twelve Tables of the Roman laws. They were dictated by the rigid and
jealous spirit of an aristocracy, which had yielded with reluctance to
the just demands of the people. But the substance of the Twelve Tables
was adapted to the state of the city; and the Romans had emerged
from Barbarism, since they were capable of studying and embracing the
institutions of their more enlightened neighbors. A wise Ephesian was
driven by envy from his native country: before he could reach the shores
of Latium, he had observed the various forms of human nature and civil
society: he imparted his knowledge to the legislators of Rome, and a
statue was erected in the forum to the perpetual memory of Hermodorus.
The names and divisions of the copper money, the sole coin of the
infant state, were of Dorian origin: the harvests of Campania and Sicily
relieved the wants of a people whose agriculture was often interrupted
by war and faction; and since the trade was established, the deputies
who sailed from the Tyber might return from the same harbors with a more
precious cargo of political wisdom. The colonies of Great Greece had
transported and improved the arts of their mother country. Cumæ and
Rhegium, Crotona and Tarentum, Agrigentum and Syracuse, were in the
rank of the most flourishing cities. The disciples of Pythagoras applied
philosophy to the use of government; the unwritten laws of Charondas
accepted the aid of poetry and music, and Zaleucus framed the republic
of the Locrians, which stood without alteration above two hundred years.
From a similar motive of national pride, both Livy and Dionysius are
willing to believe, that the deputies of Rome visited Athens under the
wise and splendid administration of Pericles; and the laws of Solon were
transfused into the twelve tables. If such an embassy had indeed been
received from the Barbarians of Hesperia, the Roman name would have been
familiar to the Greeks before the reign of Alexander; and the faintest
evidence would have been explored and celebrated by the curiosity of
succeeding times. But the Athenian monuments are silent; nor will it
seem credible that the patricians should undertake a long and perilous
navigation to copy the purest model of democracy. In the comparison of
the tables of Solon with those of the Decemvirs, some casual resemblance
may be found; some rules which nature and reason have revealed to every
society; some proofs of a common descent from Egypt or Phnicia. But in
all the great lines of public and private jurisprudence, the legislators
of Rome and Athens appear to be strangers or adverse at each other.



Chapter XLIV: Idea Of The Roman Jurisprudence.--Part II.

Whatever might be the origin or the merit of the twelve tables, they
obtained among the Romans that blind and partial reverence which
the lawyers of every country delight to bestow on their municipal
institutions. The study is recommended by Cicero as equally pleasant and
instructive. "They amuse the mind by the remembrance of old words and
the portrait of ancient manners; they inculcate the soundest principles
of government and morals; and I am not afraid to affirm, that the brief
composition of the Decemvirs surpasses in genuine value the libraries of
Grecian philosophy. How admirable," says Tully, with honest or affected
prejudice, "is the wisdom of our ancestors! We alone are the masters of
civil prudence, and our superiority is the more conspicuous, if we deign
to cast our eyes on the rude and almost ridiculous jurisprudence of
Draco, of Solon, and of Lycurgus." The twelve tables were committed
to the memory of the young and the meditation of the old; they were
transcribed and illustrated with learned diligence; they had escaped the
flames of the Gauls, they subsisted in the age of Justinian, and their
subsequent loss has been imperfectly restored by the labors of modern
critics. But although these venerable monuments were considered as the
rule of right and the fountain of justice, they were overwhelmed by the
weight and variety of new laws, which, at the end of five centuries,
became a grievance more intolerable than the vices of the city. Three
thousand brass plates, the acts of the senate of the people, were
deposited in the Capitol: and some of the acts, as the Julian law
against extortion, surpassed the number of a hundred chapters. The
Decemvirs had neglected to import the sanction of Zaleucus, which so
long maintained the integrity of his republic. A Locrian, who proposed
any new law, stood forth in the assembly of the people with a cord
round his neck, and if the law was rejected, the innovator was instantly
strangled.

The Decemvirs had been named, and their tables were approved, by an
assembly of the _centuries_, in which riches preponderated against
numbers. To the first class of Romans, the proprietors of one hundred
thousand pounds of copper, ninety-eight votes were assigned, and
only ninety-five were left for the six inferior classes, distributed
according to their substance by the artful policy of Servius. But the
tribunes soon established a more specious and popular maxim, that every
citizen has an equal right to enact the laws which he is bound to
obey. Instead of the _centuries_, they convened the _tribes_; and the
patricians, after an impotent struggle, submitted to the decrees of an
assembly, in which their votes were confounded with those of the meanest
plebeians. Yet as long as the tribes successively passed over narrow
_bridges_ and gave their voices aloud, the conduct of each citizen
was exposed to the eyes and ears of his friends and countrymen. The
insolvent debtor consulted the wishes of his creditor; the client would
have blushed to oppose the views of his patron; the general was followed
by his veterans, and the aspect of a grave magistrate was a living
lesson to the multitude. A new method of secret ballot abolished the
influence of fear and shame, of honor and interest, and the abuse of
freedom accelerated the progress of anarchy and despotism. The
Romans had aspired to be equal; they were levelled by the equality of
servitude; and the dictates of Augustus were patiently ratified by
the formal consent of the tribes or centuries. Once, and once only,
he experienced a sincere and strenuous opposition. His subjects had
resigned all political liberty; they defended the freedom of domestic
life. A law which enforced the obligation, and strengthened the bonds
of marriage, was clamorously rejected; Propertius, in the arms of Delia,
applauded the victory of licentious love; and the project of reform was
suspended till a new and more tractable generation had arisen in the
world. Such an example was not necessary to instruct a prudent usurper
of the mischief of popular assemblies; and their abolition, which
Augustus had silently prepared, was accomplished without resistance, and
almost without notice, on the accession of his successor. Sixty thousand
plebeian legislators, whom numbers made formidable, and poverty secure,
were supplanted by six hundred senators, who held their honors, their
fortunes, and their lives, by the clemency of the emperor. The loss of
executive power was alleviated by the gift of legislative authority; and
Ulpian might assert, after the practice of two hundred years, that the
decrees of the senate obtained the force and validity of laws. In the
times of freedom, the resolves of the people had often been dictated by
the passion or error of the moment: the Cornelian, Pompeian, and Julian
laws were adapted by a single hand to the prevailing disorders; but the
senate, under the reign of the Cæsars, was composed of magistrates and
lawyers, and in questions of private jurisprudence, the integrity of
their judgment was seldom perverted by fear or interest.

The silence or ambiguity of the laws was supplied by the occasional
edicts of those magistrates who were invested with the _honors_ of the
state. This ancient prerogative of the Roman kings was transferred, in
their respective offices, to the consuls and dictators, the censors and
prætors; and a similar right was assumed by the tribunes of the people,
the ediles, and the proconsuls. At Rome, and in the provinces, the
duties of the subject, and the intentions of the governor, were
proclaimed; and the civil jurisprudence was reformed by the annual
edicts of the supreme judge, the prætor of the city. As soon as he
ascended his tribunal, he announced by the voice of the crier, and
afterwards inscribed on a white wall, the rules which he proposed to
follow in the decision of doubtful cases, and the relief which his
equity would afford from the precise rigor of ancient statutes. A
principle of discretion more congenial to monarchy was introduced into
the republic: the art of respecting the name, and eluding the efficacy,
of the laws, was improved by successive prætors; subtleties and fictions
were invented to defeat the plainest meaning of the Decemvirs, and where
the end was salutary, the means were frequently absurd. The secret or
probable wish of the dead was suffered to prevail over the order of
succession and the forms of testaments; and the claimant, who was
excluded from the character of heir, accepted with equal pleasure from
an indulgent prætor the possession of the goods of his late kinsman or
benefactor. In the redress of private wrongs, compensations and fines
were substituted to the obsolete rigor of the Twelve Tables; time and
space were annihilated by fanciful suppositions; and the plea of
youth, or fraud, or violence, annulled the obligation, or excused the
performance, of an inconvenient contract. A jurisdiction thus vague and
arbitrary was exposed to the most dangerous abuse: the substance, as
well as the form, of justice were often sacrificed to the prejudices of
virtue, the bias of laudable affection, and the grosser seductions of
interest or resentment. But the errors or vices of each prætor expired
with his annual office; such maxims alone as had been approved by reason
and practice were copied by succeeding judges; the rule of proceeding
was defined by the solution of new cases; and the temptations of
injustice were removed by the Cornelian law, which compelled the
prætor of the year to adhere to the spirit and letter of his first
proclamation. It was reserved for the curiosity and learning of Adrian,
to accomplish the design which had been conceived by the genius of
Cæsar; and the prætorship of Salvius Julian, an eminent lawyer,
was immortalized by the composition of the Perpetual Edict. This
well-digested code was ratified by the emperor and the senate; the long
divorce of law and equity was at length reconciled; and, instead of the
Twelve Tables, the perpetual edict was fixed as the invariable standard
of civil jurisprudence.

From Augustus to Trajan, the modest Cæsars were content to promulgate
their edicts in the various characters of a Roman magistrate; and, in
the decrees of the senate, the _epistles_ and _orations_ of the prince
were respectfully inserted. Adrian appears to have been the first who
assumed, without disguise, the plenitude of legislative power. And this
innovation, so agreeable to his active mind, was countenanced by the
patience of the times, and his long absence from the seat of government.
The same policy was embraced by succeeding monarchs, and, according to
the harsh metaphor of Tertullian, "the gloomy and intricate forest
of ancient laws was cleared away by the axe of royal mandates and
_constitutions_." During four centuries, from Adrian to Justinian
the public and private jurisprudence was moulded by the will of the
sovereign; and few institutions, either human or divine, were permitted
to stand on their former basis. The origin of Imperial legislation was
concealed by the darkness of ages and the terrors of armed despotism;
and a double fiction was propagated by the servility, or perhaps the
ignorance, of the civilians, who basked in the sunshine of the Roman and
Byzantine courts. 1. To the prayer of the ancient Cæsars, the people
or the senate had sometimes granted a personal exemption from the
obligation and penalty of particular statutes; and each indulgence was
an act of jurisdiction exercised by the republic over the first of
her citizens. His humble privilege was at length transformed into the
prerogative of a tyrant; and the Latin expression of "released from the
laws" was supposed to exalt the emperor above _all_ human restraints,
and to leave his conscience and reason as the sacred measure of his
conduct. 2. A similar dependence was implied in the decrees of the
senate, which, in every reign, defined the titles and powers of an
elective magistrate. But it was not before the ideas, and even the
language, of the Romans had been corrupted, that a _royal_ law, and an
irrevocable gift of the people, were created by the fancy of Ulpian, or
more probably of Tribonian himself; and the origin of Imperial power,
though false in fact, and slavish in its consequence, was supported on
a principle of freedom and justice. "The pleasure of the emperor has the
vigor and effect of law, since the Roman people, by the royal law,
have transferred to their prince the full extent of their own power and
sovereignty." The will of a single man, of a child perhaps, was allowed
to prevail over the wisdom of ages and the inclinations of millions; and
the degenerate Greeks were proud to declare, that in his hands alone
the arbitrary exercise of legislation could be safely deposited. "What
interest or passion," exclaims Theophilus in the court of Justinian,
"can reach the calm and sublime elevation of the monarch? He is already
master of the lives and fortunes of his subjects; and those who have
incurred his displeasure are already numbered with the dead." Disdaining
the language of flattery, the historian may confess, that in questions
of private jurisprudence, the absolute sovereign of a great empire can
seldom be influenced by any personal considerations. Virtue, or even
reason, will suggest to his impartial mind, that he is the guardian
of peace and equity, and that the interest of society is inseparably
connected with his own. Under the weakest and most vicious reign, the
seat of justice was filled by the wisdom and integrity of Papinian and
Ulpian; and the purest materials of the Code and Pandects are inscribed
with the names of Caracalla and his ministers. The tyrant of Rome was
sometimes the benefactor of the provinces. A dagger terminated the
crimes of Domitian; but the prudence of Nerva confirmed his acts, which,
in the joy of their deliverance, had been rescinded by an indignant
senate. Yet in the _rescripts_, replies to the consultations of the
magistrates, the wisest of princes might be deceived by a partial
exposition of the case. And this abuse, which placed their hasty
decisions on the same level with mature and deliberate acts of
legislation, was ineffectually condemned by the sense and example of
Trajan. The _rescripts_ of the emperor, his _grants_ and _decrees_, his
_edicts_ and _pragmatic sanctions_, were subscribed in purple ink,
and transmitted to the provinces as general or special laws, which the
magistrates were bound to execute, and the people to obey. But as their
number continually multiplied, the rule of obedience became each day
more doubtful and obscure, till the will of the sovereign was fixed and
ascertained in the Gregorian, the Hermogenian, and the Theodosian codes.
* The two first, of which some fragments have escaped, were framed by
two private lawyers, to preserve the constitutions of the Pagan emperors
from Adrian to Constantine. The third, which is still extant, was
digested in sixteen books by the order of the younger Theodosius to
consecrate the laws of the Christian princes from Constantine to his own
reign. But the three codes obtained an equal authority in the tribunals;
and any act which was not included in the sacred deposit might be
disregarded by the judge as spurious or obsolete.



Chapter XLIV: Idea Of The Roman Jurisprudence.--Part III.

Among savage nations, the want of letters is imperfectly supplied by
the use of visible signs, which awaken attention, and perpetuate the
remembrance of any public or private transaction. The jurisprudence of
the first Romans exhibited the scenes of a pantomime; the words were
adapted to the gestures, and the slightest error or neglect in the
_forms_ of proceeding was sufficient to annul the _substance_ of the
fairest claim. The communion of the marriage-life was denoted by the
necessary elements of fire and water; and the divorced wife resigned the
bunch of keys, by the delivery of which she had been invested with the
government of the family. The manumission of a son, or a slave, was
performed by turning him round with a gentle blow on the cheek; a work
was prohibited by the casting of a stone; prescription was interrupted
by the breaking of a branch; the clinched fist was the symbol of a
pledge or deposit; the right hand was the gift of faith and confidence.
The indenture of covenants was a broken straw; weights and scales were
introduced into every payment, and the heir who accepted a testament was
sometimes obliged to snap his fingers, to cast away his garments, and to
leap or dance with real or affected transport. If a citizen pursued any
stolen goods into a neighbor's house, he concealed his nakedness with
a linen towel, and hid his face with a mask or basin, lest he should
encounter the eyes of a virgin or a matron. In a civil action the
plaintiff touched the ear of his witness, seized his reluctant adversary
by the neck, and implored, in solemn lamentation, the aid of his
fellow-citizens. The two competitors grasped each other's hand as if
they stood prepared for combat before the tribunal of the prætor; he
commanded them to produce the object of the dispute; they went, they
returned with measured steps, and a clod of earth was cast at his feet
to represent the field for which they contended. This occult science
of the words and actions of law was the inheritance of the pontiffs
and patricians. Like the Chaldean astrologers, they announced to their
clients the days of business and repose; these important trifles were
interwoven with the religion of Numa; and after the publication of the
Twelve Tables, the Roman people was still enslaved by the ignorance of
judicial proceedings. The treachery of some plebeian officers at length
revealed the profitable mystery: in a more enlightened age, the
legal actions were derided and observed; and the same antiquity which
sanctified the practice, obliterated the use and meaning of this
primitive language.

A more liberal art was cultivated, however, by the sage of Rome, who, in
a stricter sense, may be considered as the authors of the civil law. The
alteration of the idiom and manners of the Romans rendered the style
of the Twelve Tables less familiar to each rising generation, and the
doubtful passages were imperfectly explained by the study of legal
antiquarians. To define the ambiguities, to circumscribe the latitude,
to apply the principles, to extend the consequences, to reconcile the
real or apparent contradictions, was a much nobler and more important
task; and the province of legislation was silently invaded by the
expounders of ancient statutes. Their subtle interpretations concurred
with the equity of the prætor, to reform the tyranny of the darker ages:
however strange or intricate the means, it was the aim of artificial
jurisprudence to restore the simple dictates of nature and reason, and
the skill of private citizens was usefully employed to undermine the
public institutions of their country. The revolution of almost one
thousand years, from the Twelve Tables to the reign of Justinian, may be
divided into three periods, almost equal in duration, and distinguished
from each other by the mode of instruction and the character of the
civilians. Pride and ignorance contributed, during the first period, to
confine within narrow limits the science of the Roman law. On the public
days of market or assembly, the masters of the art were seen walking
in the forum ready to impart the needful advice to the meanest of their
fellow-citizens, from whose votes, on a future occasion, they might
solicit a grateful return. As their years and honors increased, they
seated themselves at home on a chair or throne, to expect with patient
gravity the visits of their clients, who at the dawn of day, from the
town and country, began to thunder at their door. The duties of social
life, and the incidents of judicial proceeding, were the ordinary
subject of these consultations, and the verbal or written opinion of the
_juris-consults_ was framed according to the rules of prudence and law.
The youths of their own order and family were permitted to listen; their
children enjoyed the benefit of more private lessons, and the Mucian
race was long renowned for the hereditary knowledge of the civil law.
The second period, the learned and splendid age of jurisprudence, may be
extended from the birth of Cicero to the reign of Severus Alexander.
A system was formed, schools were instituted, books were composed, and
both the living and the dead became subservient to the instruction of
the student. The _tripartite_ of Ælius Pætus, surnamed Catus, or the
Cunning, was preserved as the oldest work of Jurisprudence. Cato the
censor derived some additional fame from his legal studies, and those
of his son: the kindred appellation of Mucius Scævola was illustrated by
three sages of the law; but the perfection of the science was ascribed
to Servius Sulpicius, their disciple, and the friend of Tully; and the
long succession, which shone with equal lustre under the republic and
under the Cæsars, is finally closed by the respectable characters of
Papinian, of Paul, and of Ulpian. Their names, and the various titles
of their productions, have been minutely preserved, and the example
of Labeo may suggest some idea of their diligence and fecundity. That
eminent lawyer of the Augustan age divided the year between the city and
country, between business and composition; and four hundred books are
enumerated as the fruit of his retirement. Of the collection of his
rival Capito, the two hundred and fifty-ninth book is expressly quoted;
and few teachers could deliver their opinions in less than a century
of volumes. In the third period, between the reigns of Alexander and
Justinian, the oracles of jurisprudence were almost mute. The measure
of curiosity had been filled: the throne was occupied by tyrants and
Barbarians, the active spirits were diverted by religious disputes, and
the professors of Rome, Constantinople, and Berytus, were humbly content
to repeat the lessons of their more enlightened predecessors. From
the slow advances and rapid decay of these legal studies, it may be
inferred, that they require a state of peace and refinement. From the
multitude of voluminous civilians who fill the intermediate space, it
is evident that such studies may be pursued, and such works may be
performed, with a common share of judgment, experience, and industry.
The genius of Cicero and Virgil was more sensibly felt, as each
revolving age had been found incapable of producing a similar or a
second: but the most eminent teachers of the law were assured of leaving
disciples equal or superior to themselves in merit and reputation.

The jurisprudence which had been grossly adapted to the wants of the
first Romans, was polished and improved in the seventh century of the
city, by the alliance of Grecian philosophy. The Scævolas had been
taught by use and experience; but Servius Sulpicius was the first
civilian who established his art on a certain and general theory. For
the discernment of truth and falsehood he applied, as an infallible
rule, the logic of Aristotle and the stoics, reduced particular cases
to general principles, and diffused over the shapeless mass the light of
order and eloquence. Cicero, his contemporary and friend, declined the
reputation of a professed lawyer; but the jurisprudence of his country
was adorned by his incomparable genius, which converts into gold every
object that it touches. After the example of Plato, he composed a
republic; and, for the use of his republic, a treatise of laws; in which
he labors to deduce from a celestial origin the wisdom and justice of
the Roman constitution. The whole universe, according to his sublime
hypothesis, forms one immense commonwealth: gods and men, who
participate of the same essence, are members of the same community;
reason prescribes the law of nature and nations; and all positive
institutions, however modified by accident or custom, are drawn from
the rule of right, which the Deity has inscribed on every virtuous mind.
From these philosophical mysteries, he mildly excludes the sceptics
who refuse to believe, and the epicureans who are unwilling to act. The
latter disdain the care of the republic: he advises them to slumber in
their shady gardens. But he humbly entreats that the new academy would
be silent, since her bold objections would too soon destroy the fair and
well ordered structure of his lofty system. Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno,
he represents as the only teachers who arm and instruct a citizen for
the duties of social life. Of these, the armor of the stoics was found
to be of the firmest temper; and it was chiefly worn, both for use and
ornament, in the schools of jurisprudence. From the portico, the Roman
civilians learned to live, to reason, and to die: but they imbibed
in some degree the prejudices of the sect; the love of paradox, the
pertinacious habits of dispute, and a minute attachment to words
and verbal distinctions. The superiority of _form_ to _matter_ was
introduced to ascertain the right of property: and the equality of
crimes is countenanced by an opinion of Trebatius, that he who touches
the ear, touches the whole body; and that he who steals from a heap of
corn, or a hogshead of wine, is guilty of the entire theft.

Arms, eloquence, and the study of the civil law, promoted a citizen to
the honors of the Roman state; and the three professions were
sometimes more conspicuous by their union in the same character. In
the composition of the edict, a learned prætor gave a sanction and
preference to his private sentiments; the opinion of a censor, or a
counsel, was entertained with respect; and a doubtful interpretation of
the laws might be supported by the virtues or triumphs of the civilian.
The patrician arts were long protected by the veil of mystery; and in
more enlightened times, the freedom of inquiry established the general
principles of jurisprudence. Subtile and intricate cases were elucidated
by the disputes of the forum: rules, axioms, and definitions, were
admitted as the genuine dictates of reason; and the consent of the legal
professors was interwoven into the practice of the tribunals. But these
interpreters could neither enact nor execute the laws of the republic;
and the judges might disregard the authority of the Scævolas themselves,
which was often overthrown by the eloquence or sophistry of an ingenious
pleader. Augustus and Tiberius were the first to adopt, as a useful
engine, the science of the civilians; and their servile labors
accommodated the old system to the spirit and views of despotism. Under
the fair pretence of securing the dignity of the art, the privilege
of subscribing legal and valid opinions was confined to the sages of
senatorian or equestrian rank, who had been previously approved by
the judgment of the prince; and this monopoly prevailed, till Adrian
restored the freedom of the profession to every citizen conscious of his
abilities and knowledge. The discretion of the prætor was now governed
by the lessons of his teachers; the judges were enjoined to obey the
comment as well as the text of the law; and the use of codicils was
a memorable innovation, which Augustus ratified by the advice of the
civilians.

The most absolute mandate could only require that the judges should
agree with the civilians, if the civilians agreed among themselves. But
positive institutions are often the result of custom and prejudice; laws
and language are ambiguous and arbitrary; where reason is incapable of
pronouncing, the love of argument is inflamed by the envy of rivals,
the vanity of masters, the blind attachment of their disciples; and
the Roman jurisprudence was divided by the once famous sects of the
_Proculians_ and _Sabinians_. Two sages of the law, Ateius Capito and
Antistius Labeo, adorned the peace of the Augustan age; the former
distinguished by the favor of his sovereign; the latter more illustrious
by his contempt of that favor, and his stern though harmless opposition
to the tyrant of Rome. Their legal studies were influenced by the
various colors of their temper and principles. Labeo was attached to
the form of the old republic; his rival embraced the more profitable
substance of the rising monarchy. But the disposition of a courtier
is tame and submissive; and Capito seldom presumed to deviate from the
sentiments, or at least from the words, of his predecessors; while the
bold republican pursued his independent ideas without fear of paradox or
innovations. The freedom of Labeo was enslaved, however, by the rigor of
his own conclusions, and he decided, according to the letter of the
law, the same questions which his indulgent competitor resolved with
a latitude of equity more suitable to the common sense and feelings
of mankind. If a fair exchange had been substituted to the payment of
money, Capito still considered the transaction as a legal sale; and
he consulted nature for the age of puberty, without confining his
definition to the precise period of twelve or fourteen years. This
opposition of sentiments was propagated in the writings and lessons
of the two founders; the schools of Capito and Labeo maintained their
inveterate conflict from the age of Augustus to that of Adrian; and the
two sects derived their appellations from Sabinus and Proculus, their
most celebrated teachers. The names of _Cassians_ and _Pegasians_ were
likewise applied to the same parties; but, by a strange reverse, the
popular cause was in the hands of Pegasus, a timid slave of Domitian,
while the favorite of the Cæsars was represented by Cassius, who gloried
in his descent from the patriot assassin. By the perpetual edict, the
controversies of the sects were in a great measure determined. For that
important work, the emperor Adrian preferred the chief of the Sabinians:
the friends of monarchy prevailed; but the moderation of Salvius
Julian insensibly reconciled the victors and the vanquished. Like the
contemporary philosophers, the lawyers of the age of the Antonines
disclaimed the authority of a master, and adopted from every system
the most probable doctrines. But their writings would have been less
voluminous, had their choice been more unanimous. The conscience of the
judge was perplexed by the number and weight of discordant testimonies,
and every sentence that his passion or interest might pronounce was
justified by the sanction of some venerable name. An indulgent edict
of the younger Theodosius excused him from the labor of comparing and
weighing their arguments. Five civilians, Caius, Papinian, Paul, Ulpian,
and Modestinus, were established as the oracles of jurisprudence: a
majority was decisive: but if their opinions were equally divided, a
casting vote was ascribed to the superior wisdom of Papinian.



Chapter XLIV: Idea Of The Roman Jurisprudence.--Part IV.

When Justinian ascended the throne, the reformation of the Roman
jurisprudence was an arduous but indispensable task. In the space of ten
centuries, the infinite variety of laws and legal opinions had filled
many thousand volumes, which no fortune could purchase and no capacity
could digest. Books could not easily be found; and the judges, poor in
the midst of riches, were reduced to the exercise of their illiterate
discretion. The subjects of the Greek provinces were ignorant of
the language that disposed of their lives and properties; and the
_barbarous_ dialect of the Latins was imperfectly studied in the
academies of Berytus and Constantinople. As an Illyrian soldier, that
idiom was familiar to the infancy of Justinian; his youth had been
instructed by the lessons of jurisprudence, and his Imperial choice
selected the most learned civilians of the East, to labor with their
sovereign in the work of reformation. The theory of professors
was assisted by the practice of advocates, and the experience of
magistrates; and the whole undertaking was animated by the spirit of
Tribonian. This extraordinary man, the object of so much praise and
censure, was a native of Side in Pamphylia; and his genius, like that of
Bacon, embraced, as his own, all the business and knowledge of the age.
Tribonian composed, both in prose and verse, on a strange diversity of
curious and abstruse subjects: a double panegyric of Justinian and
the life of the philosopher Theodotus; the nature of happiness and the
duties of government; Homer's catalogue and the four-and-twenty sorts of
metre; the astronomical canon of Ptolemy; the changes of the months;
the houses of the planets; and the harmonic system of the world. To the
literature of Greece he added the use of the Latin tongue; the Roman
civilians were deposited in his library and in his mind; and he most
assiduously cultivated those arts which opened the road of wealth and
preferment. From the bar of the Prætorian præfects, he raised himself
to the honors of quæstor, of consul, and of master of the offices: the
council of Justinian listened to his eloquence and wisdom; and envy
was mitigated by the gentleness and affability of his manners. The
reproaches of impiety and avarice have stained the virtue or the
reputation of Tribonian. In a bigoted and persecuting court, the
principal minister was accused of a secret aversion to the Christian
faith, and was supposed to entertain the sentiments of an Atheist and
a Pagan, which have been imputed, inconsistently enough, to the last
philosophers of Greece. His avarice was more clearly proved and more
sensibly felt. If he were swayed by gifts in the administration of
justice, the example of Bacon will again occur; nor can the merit of
Tribonian atone for his baseness, if he degraded the sanctity of his
profession; and if laws were every day enacted, modified, or repealed,
for the base consideration of his private emolument. In the sedition of
Constantinople, his removal was granted to the clamors, perhaps to the
just indignation, of the people: but the quæstor was speedily restored,
and, till the hour of his death, he possessed, above twenty years, the
favor and confidence of the emperor. His passive and dutiful submission
had been honored with the praise of Justinian himself, whose vanity was
incapable of discerning how often that submission degenerated into the
grossest adulation. Tribonian adored the virtues of his gracious of
his gracious master; the earth was unworthy of such a prince; and he
affected a pious fear, that Justinian, like Elijah or Romulus, would be
snatched into the air, and translated alive to the mansions of celestial
glory.

If Cæsar had achieved the reformation of the Roman law, his creative
genius, enlightened by reflection and study, would have given to the
world a pure and original system of jurisprudence. Whatever flattery
might suggest, the emperor of the East was afraid to establish his
private judgment as the standard of equity: in the possession of
legislative power, he borrowed the aid of time and opinion; and his
laborious compilations are guarded by the sages and legislature of past
times. Instead of a statue cast in a simple mould by the hand of an
artist, the works of Justinian represent a tessellated pavement of
antique and costly, but too often of incoherent, fragments. In the first
year of his reign, he directed the faithful Tribonian, and nine learned
associates, to revise the ordinances of his predecessors, as they were
contained, since the time of Adrian, in the Gregorian Hermogenian, and
Theodosian codes; to purge the errors and contradictions, to retrench
whatever was obsolete or superfluous, and to select the wise and
salutary laws best adapted to the practice of the tribunals and the use
of his subjects. The work was accomplished in fourteen months; and the
twelve books or _tables_, which the new decemvirs produced, might be
designed to imitate the labors of their Roman predecessors. The new
Code of Justinian was honored with his name, and confirmed by his royal
signature: authentic transcripts were multiplied by the pens of notaries
and scribes; they were transmitted to the magistrates of the European,
the Asiatic, and afterwards the African provinces; and the law of the
empire was proclaimed on solemn festivals at the doors of churches.
A more arduous operation was still behind--to extract the spirit of
jurisprudence from the decisions and conjectures, the questions and
disputes, of the Roman civilians. Seventeen lawyers, with Tribonian
at their head, were appointed by the emperor to exercise an absolute
jurisdiction over the works of their predecessors. If they had obeyed
his commands in ten years, Justinian would have been satisfied with
their diligence; and the rapid composition of the Digest or Pandects, in
three years, will deserve praise or censure, according to the merit of
the execution. From the library of Tribonian, they chose forty, the most
eminent civilians of former times: two thousand treatises were comprised
in an abridgment of fifty books; and it has been carefully recorded,
that three millions of lines or sentences, were reduced, in this
abstract, to the moderate number of one hundred and fifty thousand.
The edition of this great work was delayed a month after that of the
Institutes; and it seemed reasonable that the elements should precede
the digest of the Roman law. As soon as the emperor had approved their
labors, he ratified, by his legislative power, the speculations of
these private citizens: their commentaries, on the twelve tables, the
perpetual edict, the laws of the people, and the decrees of the senate,
succeeded to the authority of the text; and the text was abandoned, as
a useless, though venerable, relic of antiquity. The _Code_, the
_Pandects_, and the _Institutes_, were declared to be the legitimate
system of civil jurisprudence; they alone were admitted into the
tribunals, and they alone were taught in the academies of Rome,
Constantinople, and Berytus. Justinian addressed to the senate and
provinces his _eternal oracles_; and his pride, under the mask of
piety, ascribed the consummation of this great design to the support and
inspiration of the Deity.

Since the emperor declined the fame and envy of original composition, we
can only require, at his hands, method choice, and fidelity, the
humble, though indispensable, virtues of a compiler. Among the various
combinations of ideas, it is difficult to assign any reasonable
preference; but as the order of Justinian is different in his three
works, it is possible that all may be wrong; and it is certain that
two cannot be right. In the selection of ancient laws, he seems to have
viewed his predecessors without jealousy, and with equal regard: the
series could not ascend above the reign of Adrian, and the narrow
distinction of Paganism and Christianity, introduced by the superstition
of Theodosius, had been abolished by the consent of mankind. But the
jurisprudence of the Pandects is circumscribed within a period of
a hundred years, from the perpetual edict to the death of Severus
Alexander: the civilians who lived under the first Cæsars are seldom
permitted to speak, and only three names can be attributed to the age of
the republic. The favorite of Justinian (it has been fiercely urged) was
fearful of encountering the light of freedom and the gravity of Roman
sages. Tribonian condemned to oblivion the genuine and native wisdom
of Cato, the Scævolas, and Sulpicius; while he invoked spirits more
congenial to his own, the Syrians, Greeks, and Africans, who flocked to
the Imperial court to study Latin as a foreign tongue, and jurisprudence
as a lucrative profession. But the ministers of Justinian, were
instructed to labor, not for the curiosity of antiquarians, but for
the immediate benefit of his subjects. It was their duty to select the
useful and practical parts of the Roman law; and the writings of the old
republicans, however curious on excellent, were no longer suited to
the new system of manners, religion, and government. Perhaps, if the
preceptors and friends of Cicero were still alive, our candor would
acknowledge, that, except in purity of language, their intrinsic merit
was excelled by the school of Papinian and Ulpian. The science of the
laws is the slow growth of time and experience, and the advantage
both of method and materials, is naturally assumed by the most recent
authors. The civilians of the reign of the Antonines had studied the
works of their predecessors: their philosophic spirit had mitigated the
rigor of antiquity, simplified the forms of proceeding, and emerged
from the jealousy and prejudice of the rival sects. The choice of
the authorities that compose the Pandects depended on the judgment of
Tribonian: but the power of his sovereign could not absolve him from
the sacred obligations of truth and fidelity. As the legislator of the
empire, Justinian might repeal the acts of the Antonines, or condemn, as
seditious, the free principles, which were maintained by the last of the
_Roman_ lawyers. But the existence of past facts is placed beyond the
reach of despotism; and the emperor was guilty of fraud and forgery,
when he corrupted the integrity of their text, inscribed with
their venerable names the words and ideas of his servile reign, and
suppressed, by the hand of power, the pure and authentic copies of
their sentiments. The changes and interpolations of Tribonian and his
colleagues are excused by the pretence of uniformity: but their cares
have been insufficient, and the _antinomies_, or contradictions of the
Code and Pandects, still exercise the patience and subtilty of modern
civilians.

A rumor devoid of evidence has been propagated by the enemies of
Justinian; that the jurisprudence of ancient Rome was reduced to ashes
by the author of the Pandects, from the vain persuasion, that it was now
either false or superfluous. Without usurping an office so
invidious, the emperor might safely commit to ignorance and time the
accomplishments of this destructive wish. Before the invention of
printing and paper, the labor and the materials of writing could be
purchased only by the rich; and it may reasonably be computed, that
the price of books was a hundred fold their present value. Copies were
slowly multiplied and cautiously renewed: the hopes of profit tempted
the sacrilegious scribes to erase the characters of antiquity, and
Sophocles or Tacitus were obliged to resign the parchment to missals,
homilies, and the golden legend. If such was the fate of the most
beautiful compositions of genius, what stability could be expected
for the dull and barren works of an obsolete science? The books of
jurisprudence were interesting to few, and entertaining to none: their
value was connected with present use, and they sunk forever as soon as
that use was superseded by the innovations of fashion, superior merit,
or public authority. In the age of peace and learning, between Cicero
and the last of the Antonines, many losses had been already sustained,
and some luminaries of the school, or forum, were known only to the
curious by tradition and report. Three hundred and sixty years of
disorder and decay accelerated the progress of oblivion; and it may
fairly be presumed, that of the writings, which Justinian is accused
of neglecting, many were no longer to be found in the libraries of
the East. The copies of Papinian, or Ulpian, which the reformer had
proscribed, were deemed unworthy of future notice: the Twelve Tables and
prætorian edicts insensibly vanished, and the monuments of ancient Rome
were neglected or destroyed by the envy and ignorance of the Greeks.
Even the Pandects themselves have escaped with difficulty and danger
from the common shipwreck, and criticism has pronounced that _all_ the
editions and manuscripts of the West are derived from _one_ original.
It was transcribed at Constantinople in the beginning of the seventh
century, was successively transported by the accidents of war and
commerce to Amalphi, Pisa, and Florence, and is now deposited as a
sacred relic in the ancient palace of the republic.

It is the first care of a reformer to prevent any future reformation. To
maintain the text of the Pandects, the Institutes, and the Code, the use
of ciphers and abbreviations was rigorously proscribed; and as Justinian
recollected, that the perpetual edict had been buried under the weight
of commentators, he denounced the punishment of forgery against the rash
civilians who should presume to interpret or pervert the will of their
sovereign. The scholars of Accursius, of Bartolus, of Cujacius, should
blush for their accumulated guilt, unless they dare to dispute his right
of binding the authority of his successors, and the native freedom of
the mind. But the emperor was unable to fix his own inconstancy; and,
while he boasted of renewing the exchange of Diomede, of transmuting
brass into gold, discovered the necessity of purifying his gold from the
mixture of baser alloy. Six years had not elapsed from the publication
of the Code, before he condemned the imperfect attempt, by a new and
more accurate edition of the same work; which he enriched with two
hundred of his own laws, and fifty decisions of the darkest and
most intricate points of jurisprudence. Every year, or, according
to Procopius, each day, of his long reign, was marked by some legal
innovation. Many of his acts were rescinded by himself; many were
rejected by his successors; many have been obliterated by time; but the
number of sixteen Edicts, and one hundred and sixty-eight Novels, has
been admitted into the authentic body of the civil jurisprudence. In the
opinion of a philosopher superior to the prejudices of his profession,
these incessant, and, for the most part, trifling alterations, can be
only explained by the venal spirit of a prince, who sold without shame
his judgments and his laws. The charge of the secret historian is indeed
explicit and vehement; but the sole instance, which he produces, may
be ascribed to the devotion as well as to the avarice of Justinian. A
wealthy bigot had bequeathed his inheritance to the church of Emesa;
and its value was enhanced by the dexterity of an artist, who subscribed
confessions of debt and promises of payment with the names of the
richest Syrians. They pleaded the established prescription of thirty or
forty years; but their defence was overruled by a retrospective edict,
which extended the claims of the church to the term of a century; an
edict so pregnant with injustice and disorder, that, after serving this
occasional purpose, it was prudently abolished in the same reign. If
candor will acquit the emperor himself, and transfer the corruption
to his wife and favorites, the suspicion of so foul a vice must still
degrade the majesty of his laws; and the advocates of Justinian may
acknowledge, that such levity, whatsoever be the motive, is unworthy of
a legislator and a man.

Monarchs seldom condescend to become the preceptors of their subjects;
and some praise is due to Justinian, by whose command an ample system
was reduced to a short and elementary treatise. Among the various
institutes of the Roman law, those of Caius were the most popular in the
East and West; and their use may be considered as an evidence of
their merit. They were selected by the Imperial delegates, Tribonian,
Theophilus, and Dorotheus; and the freedom and purity of the Antonines
was incrusted with the coarser materials of a degenerate age. The same
volume which introduced the youth of Rome, Constantinople, and Berytus,
to the gradual study of the Code and Pandects, is still precious to
the historian, the philosopher, and the magistrate. The Institutes
of Justinian are divided into four books: they proceed, with no
contemptible method, from, I. _Persons_, to, II. _Things_, and from
things, to, III. _Actions_; and the article IV., of _Private Wrongs_, is
terminated by the principles of _Criminal Law_.



Chapter XLIV: Idea Of The Roman Jurisprudence.--Part V.

The distinction of ranks and _persons_ is the firmest basis of a mixed
and limited government. In France, the remains of liberty are kept alive
by the spirit, the honors, and even the prejudices, of fifty thousand
nobles. Two hundred families supply, in lineal descent, the second
branch of English legislature, which maintains, between the king and
commons, the balance of the constitution. A gradation of patricians and
plebeians, of strangers and subjects, has supported the aristocracy
of Genoa, Venice, and ancient Rome. The perfect equality of men is the
point in which the extremes of democracy and despotism are confounded;
since the majesty of the prince or people would be offended, if
any heads were exalted above the level of their fellow-slaves or
fellow-citizens. In the decline of the Roman empire, the proud
distinctions of the republic were gradually abolished, and the reason or
instinct of Justinian completed the simple form of an absolute monarchy.
The emperor could not eradicate the popular reverence which always
waits on the possession of hereditary wealth, or the memory of famous
ancestors. He delighted to honor, with titles and emoluments, his
generals, magistrates, and senators; and his precarious indulgence
communicated some rays of their glory to the persons of their wives and
children. But in the eye of the law, all Roman citizens were equal,
and all subjects of the empire were citizens of Rome. That inestimable
character was degraded to an obsolete and empty name. The voice of a
Roman could no longer enact his laws, or create the annual ministers of
his power: his constitutional rights might have checked the arbitrary
will of a master: and the bold adventurer from Germany or Arabia was
admitted, with equal favor, to the civil and military command, which the
citizen alone had been once entitled to assume over the conquests of his
fathers. The first Cæsars had scrupulously guarded the distinction of
_ingenuous_ and _servile_ birth, which was decided by the condition of
the mother; and the candor of the laws was satisfied, if her freedom
could be ascertained, during a single moment, between the conception
and the delivery. The slaves, who were liberated by a generous master,
immediately entered into the middle class of _libertines_ or freedmen;
but they could never be enfranchised from the duties of obedience and
gratitude; whatever were the fruits of their industry, their patron and
his family inherited the third part; or even the whole of their fortune,
if they died without children and without a testament. Justinian
respected the rights of patrons; but his indulgence removed the badge of
disgrace from the two inferior orders of freedmen; whoever ceased to be
a slave, obtained, without reserve or delay, the station of a citizen;
and at length the dignity of an ingenuous birth, which nature had
refused, was created, or supposed, by the omnipotence of the emperor.
Whatever restraints of age, or forms, or numbers, had been formerly
introduced to check the abuse of manumissions, and the too rapid
increase of vile and indigent Romans, he finally abolished; and the
spirit of his laws promoted the extinction of domestic servitude.
Yet the eastern provinces were filled, in the time of Justinian, with
multitudes of slaves, either born or purchased for the use of their
masters; and the price, from ten to seventy pieces of gold, was
determined by their age, their strength, and their education. But the
hardships of this dependent state were continually diminished by the
influence of government and religion: and the pride of a subject was no
longer elated by his absolute dominion over the life and happiness of
his bondsman.

The law of nature instructs most animals to cherish and educate their
infant progeny. The law of reason inculcates to the human species the
returns of filial piety. But the exclusive, absolute, and perpetual
dominion of the father over his children, is peculiar to the Roman
jurisprudence, and seems to be coeval with the foundation of the city.
The paternal power was instituted or confirmed by Romulus himself; and,
after the practice of three centuries, it was inscribed on the fourth
table of the Decemvirs. In the forum, the senate, or the camp, the
adult son of a Roman citizen enjoyed the public and private rights of a
_person_: in his father's house he was a mere _thing_; confounded by the
laws with the movables, the cattle, and the slaves, whom the capricious
master might alienate or destroy, without being responsible to any
earthly tribunal. The hand which bestowed the daily sustenance might
resume the voluntary gift, and whatever was acquired by the labor or
fortune of the son was immediately lost in the property of the father.
His stolen goods (his oxen or his children) might be recovered by the
same action of theft; and if either had been guilty of a trespass, it
was in his own option to compensate the damage, or resign to the injured
party the obnoxious animal. At the call of indigence or avarice, the
master of a family could dispose of his children or his slaves. But the
condition of the slave was far more advantageous, since he regained, by
the first manumission, his alienated freedom: the son was again restored
to his unnatural father; he might be condemned to servitude a second and
a third time, and it was not till after the third sale and deliverance,
that he was enfranchised from the domestic power which had been so
repeatedly abused. According to his discretion, a father might
chastise the real or imaginary faults of his children, by stripes, by
imprisonment, by exile, by sending them to the country to work in chains
among the meanest of his servants. The majesty of a parent was armed
with the power of life and death; and the examples of such bloody
executions, which were sometimes praised and never punished, may be
traced in the annals of Rome beyond the times of Pompey and Augustus.
Neither age, nor rank, nor the consular office, nor the honors of a
triumph, could exempt the most illustrious citizen from the bonds of
filial subjection: his own descendants were included in the family of
their common ancestor; and the claims of adoption were not less sacred
or less rigorous than those of nature. Without fear, though not
without danger of abuse, the Roman legislators had reposed an unbounded
confidence in the sentiments of paternal love; and the oppression was
tempered by the assurance that each generation must succeed in its turn
to the awful dignity of parent and master.

The first limitation of paternal power is ascribed to the justice and
humanity of Numa; and the maid who, with _his_ father's consent, had
espoused a freeman, was protected from the disgrace of becoming the
wife of a slave. In the first ages, when the city was pressed, and often
famished, by her Latin and Tuscan neighbors, the sale of children might
be a frequent practice; but as a Roman could not legally purchase the
liberty of his fellow-citizen, the market must gradually fail, and the
trade would be destroyed by the conquests of the republic. An imperfect
right of property was at length communicated to sons; and the threefold
distinction of _profectitious_, _adventitious_, and _professional_ was
ascertained by the jurisprudence of the Code and Pandects. Of all that
proceeded from the father, he imparted only the use, and reserved the
absolute dominion; yet if his goods were sold, the filial portion
was excepted, by a favorable interpretation, from the demands of
the creditors. In whatever accrued by marriage, gift, or collateral
succession, the property was secured to the son; but the father, unless
he had been specially excluded, enjoyed the usufruct during his life.
As a just and prudent reward of military virtue, the spoils of the enemy
were acquired, possessed, and bequeathed by the soldier alone; and the
fair analogy was extended to the emoluments of any liberal profession,
the salary of public service, and the sacred liberality of the emperor
or empress. The life of a citizen was less exposed than his fortune
to the abuse of paternal power. Yet his life might be adverse to the
interest or passions of an unworthy father: the same crimes that flowed
from the corruption, were more sensibly felt by the humanity, of the
Augustan age; and the cruel Erixo, who whipped his son till he expired,
was saved by the emperor from the just fury of the multitude. The Roman
father, from the license of servile dominion, was reduced to the
gravity and moderation of a judge. The presence and opinion of Augustus
confirmed the sentence of exile pronounced against an intentional
parricide by the domestic tribunal of Arius. Adrian transported to
an island the jealous parent, who, like a robber, had seized the
opportunity of hunting, to assassinate a youth, the incestuous lover of
his step-mother. A private jurisdiction is repugnant to the spirit of
monarchy; the parent was again reduced from a judge to an accuser;
and the magistrates were enjoined by Severus Alexander to hear his
complaints and execute his sentence. He could no longer take the life
of a son without incurring the guilt and punishment of murder; and the
pains of parricide, from which he had been excepted by the Pompeian
law, were finally inflicted by the justice of Constantine. The same
protection was due to every period of existence; and reason must applaud
the humanity of Paulus, for imputing the crime of murder to the father
who strangles, or starves, or abandons his new-born infant; or exposes
him in a public place to find the mercy which he himself had denied.
But the exposition of children was the prevailing and stubborn vice of
antiquity: it was sometimes prescribed, often permitted, almost always
practised with impunity, by the nations who never entertained the Roman
ideas of paternal power; and the dramatic poets, who appeal to the human
heart, represent with indifference a popular custom which was palliated
by the motives of economy and compassion. If the father could subdue
his own feelings, he might escape, though not the censure, at least the
chastisement, of the laws; and the Roman empire was stained with the
blood of infants, till such murders were included, by Valentinian and
his colleagues, in the letter and spirit of the Cornelian law. The
lessons of jurisprudence and Christianity had been insufficient to
eradicate this inhuman practice, till their gentle influence was
fortified by the terrors of capital punishment.

Experience has proved, that savages are the tyrants of the female sex,
and that the condition of women is usually softened by the refinements
of social life. In the hope of a robust progeny, Lycurgus had delayed
the season of marriage: it was fixed by Numa at the tender age of twelve
years, that the Roman husband might educate to his will a pure and
obedient virgin. According to the custom of antiquity, he bought his
bride of her parents, and she fulfilled the _coemption_ by purchasing,
with three pieces of copper, a just introduction to his house and
household deities. A sacrifice of fruits was offered by the pontiffs in
the presence of ten witnesses; the contracting parties were seated on
the same sheep-skin; they tasted a salt cake of _far_ or rice; and this
_confarreation_, which denoted the ancient food of Italy, served as an
emblem of their mystic union of mind and body. But this union on the
side of the woman was rigorous and unequal; and she renounced the name
and worship of her father's house, to embrace a new servitude, decorated
only by the title of adoption, a fiction of the law, neither rational
nor elegant, bestowed on the mother of a family (her proper appellation)
the strange characters of sister to her own children, and of daughter to
her husband or master, who was invested with the plenitude of paternal
power. By his judgment or caprice her behavior was approved, or
censured, or chastised; he exercised the jurisdiction of life and death;
and it was allowed, that in the cases of adultery or drunkenness, the
sentence might be properly inflicted. She acquired and inherited for
the sole profit of her lord; and so clearly was woman defined, not as a
_person_, but as a _thing_, that, if the original title were deficient,
she might be claimed, like other movables, by the use and possession
of an entire year. The inclination of the Roman husband discharged or
withheld the conjugal debt, so scrupulously exacted by the Athenian and
Jewish laws: but as polygamy was unknown, he could never admit to his
bed a fairer or a more favored partner.

After the Punic triumphs, the matrons of Rome aspired to the common
benefits of a free and opulent republic: their wishes were gratified
by the indulgence of fathers and lovers, and their ambition was
unsuccessfully resisted by the gravity of Cato the Censor. They declined
the solemnities of the old nuptials; defeated the annual prescription
by an absence of three days; and, without losing their name or
independence, subscribed the liberal and definite terms of a marriage
contract. Of their private fortunes, they communicated the use, and
secured the property: the estates of a wife could neither be alienated
nor mortgaged by a prodigal husband; their mutual gifts were prohibited
by the jealousy of the laws; and the misconduct of either party might
afford, under another name, a future subject for an action of theft.
To this loose and voluntary compact, religious and civil rights were no
longer essential; and, between persons of a similar rank, the apparent
community of life was allowed as sufficient evidence of their nuptials.
The dignity of marriage was restored by the Christians, who derived all
spiritual grace from the prayers of the faithful and the benediction
of the priest or bishop. The origin, validity, and duties of the holy
institution were regulated by the tradition of the synagogue, the
precepts of the gospel, and the canons of general or provincial synods;
and the conscience of the Christians was awed by the decrees and
censures of their ecclesiastical rulers. Yet the magistrates of
Justinian were not subject to the authority of the church: the emperor
consulted the unbelieving civilians of antiquity, and the choice of
matrimonial laws in the Code and Pandects, is directed by the earthly
motives of justice, policy, and the natural freedom of both sexes.

Besides the agreement of the parties, the essence of every rational
contract, the Roman marriage required the previous approbation of the
parents. A father might be forced by some recent laws to supply the
wants of a mature daughter; but even his insanity was not gradually
allowed to supersede the necessity of his consent. The causes of the
dissolution of matrimony have varied among the Romans; but the most
solemn sacrament, the confarreation itself, might always be done away by
rites of a contrary tendency. In the first ages, the father of a family
might sell his children, and his wife was reckoned in the number of his
children: the domestic judge might pronounce the death of the offender,
or his mercy might expel her from his bed and house; but the slavery of
the wretched female was hopeless and perpetual, unless he asserted for
his own convenience the manly prerogative of divorce. The warmest
applause has been lavished on the virtue of the Romans, who abstained
from the exercise of this tempting privilege above five hundred years:
but the same fact evinces the unequal terms of a connection in which the
slave was unable to renounce her tyrant, and the tyrant was unwilling
to relinquish his slave. When the Roman matrons became the equal and
voluntary companions of their lords, a new jurisprudence was introduced,
that marriage, like other partnerships, might be dissolved by the
abdication of one of the associates. In three centuries of prosperity
and corruption, this principle was enlarged to frequent practice and
pernicious abuse. Passion, interest, or caprice, suggested daily motives
for the dissolution of marriage; a word, a sign, a message, a letter,
the mandate of a freedman, declared the separation; the most tender
of human connections was degraded to a transient society of profit
or pleasure. According to the various conditions of life, both
sexes alternately felt the disgrace and injury: an inconstant spouse
transferred her wealth to a new family, abandoning a numerous, perhaps
a spurious, progeny to the paternal authority and care of her late
husband; a beautiful virgin might be dismissed to the world, old,
indigent, and friendless; but the reluctance of the Romans, when they
were pressed to marriage by Augustus, sufficiently marks, that the
prevailing institutions were least favorable to the males. A specious
theory is confuted by this free and perfect experiment, which
demonstrates, that the liberty of divorce does not contribute to
happiness and virtue. The facility of separation would destroy all
mutual confidence, and inflame every trifling dispute: the minute
difference between a husband and a stranger, which might so easily be
removed, might still more easily be forgotten; and the matron, who in
five years can submit to the embraces of eight husbands, must cease to
reverence the chastity of her own person.

Insufficient remedies followed with distant and tardy steps the rapid
progress of the evil. The ancient worship of the Romans afforded a
peculiar goddess to hear and reconcile the complaints of a married life;
but her epithet of _Viriplaca_, the appeaser of husbands, too clearly
indicates on which side submission and repentance were always expected.
Every act of a citizen was subject to the judgment of the _censors_; the
first who used the privilege of divorce assigned, at their command, the
motives of his conduct; and a senator was expelled for dismissing his
virgin spouse without the knowledge or advice of his friends. Whenever
an action was instituted for the recovery of a marriage portion,
the _prtor_, as the guardian of equity, examined the cause and the
characters, and gently inclined the scale in favor of the guiltless
and injured party. Augustus, who united the powers of both magistrates,
adopted their different modes of repressing or chastising the license
of divorce. The presence of seven Roman witnesses was required for the
validity of this solemn and deliberate act: if any adequate provocation
had been given by the husband, instead of the delay of two years, he was
compelled to refund immediately, or in the space of six months; but
if he could arraign the manners of his wife, her guilt or levity
was expiated by the loss of the sixth or eighth part of her marriage
portion. The Christian princes were the first who specified the just
causes of a private divorce; their institutions, from Constantine to
Justinian, appear to fluctuate between the custom of the empire and
the wishes of the church, and the author of the Novels too frequently
reforms the jurisprudence of the Code and Pandects. In the most rigorous
laws, a wife was condemned to support a gamester, a drunkard, or a
libertine, unless he were guilty of homicide, poison, or sacrilege, in
which cases the marriage, as it should seem, might have been dissolved
by the hand of the executioner. But the sacred right of the husband was
invariably maintained, to deliver his name and family from the disgrace
of adultery: the list of _mortal_ sins, either male or female, was
curtailed and enlarged by successive regulations, and the obstacles of
incurable impotence, long absence, and monastic profession, were
allowed to rescind the matrimonial obligation. Whoever transgressed the
permission of the law, was subject to various and heavy penalties. The
woman was stripped of her wealth and ornaments, without excepting the
bodkin of her hair: if the man introduced a new bride into his bed,
_her_ fortune might be lawfully seized by the vengeance of his exiled
wife. Forfeiture was sometimes commuted to a fine; the fine was
sometimes aggravated by transportation to an island, or imprisonment in
a monastery; the injured party was released from the bonds of marriage;
but the offender, during life, or a term of years, was disabled from
the repetition of nuptials. The successor of Justinian yielded to the
prayers of his unhappy subjects, and restored the liberty of divorce
by mutual consent: the civilians were unanimous, the theologians were
divided, and the ambiguous word, which contains the precept of Christ,
is flexible to any interpretation that the wisdom of a legislator can
demand.

The freedom of love and marriage was restrained among the Romans by
natural and civil impediments. An instinct, almost innate and universal,
appears to prohibit the incestuous commerce of parents and children in
the infinite series of ascending and descending generations. Concerning
the oblique and collateral branches, nature is indifferent, reason mute,
and custom various and arbitrary. In Egypt, the marriage of brothers
and sisters was admitted without scruple or exception: a Spartan might
espouse the daughter of his father, an Athenian, that of his mother; and
the nuptials of an uncle with his niece were applauded at Athens as a
happy union of the dearest relations. The profane lawgivers of Rome
were never tempted by interest or superstition to multiply the forbidden
degrees: but they inflexibly condemned the marriage of sisters and
brothers, hesitated whether first cousins should be touched by the same
interdict; revered the parental character of aunts and uncles, and
treated affinity and adoption as a just imitation of the ties of blood.
According to the proud maxims of the republic, a legal marriage could
only be contracted by free citizens; an honorable, at least an ingenuous
birth, was required for the spouse of a senator: but the blood of kings
could never mingle in legitimate nuptials with the blood of a Roman;
and the name of Stranger degraded Cleopatra and Berenice, to live the
_concubines_ of Mark Antony and Titus. This appellation, indeed, so
injurious to the majesty, cannot without indulgence be applied to the
manners, of these Oriental queens. A concubine, in the strict sense of
the civilians, was a woman of servile or plebeian extraction, the sole
and faithful companion of a Roman citizen, who continued in a state
of celibacy. Her modest station, below the honors of a wife, above the
infamy of a prostitute, was acknowledged and approved by the laws: from
the age of Augustus to the tenth century, the use of this secondary
marriage prevailed both in the West and East; and the humble virtues of
a concubine were often preferred to the pomp and insolence of a noble
matron. In this connection, the two Antonines, the best of princes and
of men, enjoyed the comforts of domestic love: the example was imitated
by many citizens impatient of celibacy, but regardful of their families.
If at any time they desired to legitimate their natural children, the
conversion was instantly performed by the celebration of their nuptials
with a partner whose faithfulness and fidelity they had already tried.
* By this epithet of _natural_, the offspring of the concubine were
distinguished from the spurious brood of adultery, prostitution, and
incest, to whom Justinian reluctantly grants the necessary aliments of
life; and these natural children alone were capable of succeeding to a
sixth part of the inheritance of their reputed father. According to the
rigor of law, bastards were entitled only to the name and condition of
their mother, from whom they might derive the character of a slave,
a stranger, or a citizen. The outcasts of every family were adopted
without reproach as the children of the state.



Chapter XLIV: Idea Of The Roman Jurisprudence.--Part VI.

The relation of guardian and ward, or in Roman words of _tutor_ and
_pupil_, which covers so many titles of the Institutes and Pandects,
is of a very simple and uniform nature. The person and property of an
orphan must always be trusted to the custody of some discreet friend.
If the deceased father had not signified his choice, the _agnats_, or
paternal kindred of the nearest degree, were compelled to act as the
natural guardians: the Athenians were apprehensive of exposing the
infant to the power of those most interested in his death; but an axiom
of Roman jurisprudence has pronounced, that the charge of tutelage
should constantly attend the emolument of succession. If the choice
of the father, and the line of consanguinity, afforded no efficient
guardian, the failure was supplied by the nomination of the prætor of
the city, or the president of the province. But the person whom they
named to this _public_ office might be legally excused by insanity or
blindness, by ignorance or inability, by previous enmity or adverse
interest, by the number of children or guardianships with which he was
already burdened, and by the immunities which were granted to the useful
labors of magistrates, lawyers, physicians, and professors. Till the
infant could speak, and think, he was represented by the tutor, whose
authority was finally determined by the age of puberty. Without his
consent, no act of the pupil could bind himself to his own prejudice,
though it might oblige others for his personal benefit. It is needless
to observe, that the tutor often gave security, and always rendered an
account, and that the want of diligence or integrity exposed him to a
civil and almost criminal action for the violation of his sacred trust.
The age of puberty had been rashly fixed by the civilians at fourteen;
* but as the faculties of the mind ripen more slowly than those of the
body, a _curator_ was interposed to guard the fortunes of a Roman youth
from his own inexperience and headstrong passions. Such a trustee had
been first instituted by the prætor, to save a family from the blind
havoc of a prodigal or madman; and the minor was compelled, by the laws,
to solicit the same protection, to give validity to his acts till he
accomplished the full period of twenty-five years. Women were condemned
to the perpetual tutelage of parents, husbands, or guardians; a sex
created to please and obey was never supposed to have attained the age
of reason and experience. Such, at least, was the stern and haughty
spirit of the ancient law, which had been insensibly mollified before
the time of Justinian.

II. The original right of property can only be justified by the accident
or merit of prior occupancy; and on this foundation it is wisely
established by the philosophy of the civilians. The savage who hollows a
tree, inserts a sharp stone into a wooden handle, or applies a string to
an elastic branch, becomes in a state of nature the just proprietor of
the canoe, the bow, or the hatchet. The materials were common to all,
the new form, the produce of his time and simple industry, belongs
solely to himself. His hungry brethren cannot, without a sense of their
own injustice, extort from the hunter the game of the forest overtaken
or slain by his personal strength and dexterity. If his provident care
preserves and multiplies the tame animals, whose nature is tractable
to the arts of education, he acquires a perpetual title to the use and
service of their numerous progeny, which derives its existence from him
alone. If he encloses and cultivates a field for their sustenance and
his own, a barren waste is converted into a fertile soil; the seed, the
manure, the labor, create a new value, and the rewards of harvest
are painfully earned by the fatigues of the revolving year. In the
successive states of society, the hunter, the shepherd, the husbandman,
may defend their possessions by two reasons which forcibly appeal to
the feelings of the human mind: that whatever they enjoy is the fruit
of their own industry; and that every man who envies their felicity,
may purchase similar acquisitions by the exercise of similar diligence.
Such, in truth, may be the freedom and plenty of a small colony cast
on a fruitful island. But the colony multiplies, while the space still
continues the same; the common rights, the equal inheritance of
mankind, are engrossed by the bold and crafty; each field and forest
is circumscribed by the landmarks of a jealous master; and it is the
peculiar praise of the Roman jurisprudence, that it asserts the claim of
the first occupant to the wild animals of the earth, the air, and the
waters. In the progress from primitive equity to final injustice, the
steps are silent, the shades are almost imperceptible, and the absolute
monopoly is guarded by positive laws and artificial reason. The active,
insatiate principle of self-love can alone supply the arts of life and
the wages of industry; and as soon as civil government and exclusive
property have been introduced, they become necessary to the existence
of the human race. Except in the singular institutions of Sparta, the
wisest legislators have disapproved an agrarian law as a false and
dangerous innovation. Among the Romans, the enormous disproportion of
wealth surmounted the ideal restraints of a doubtful tradition, and an
obsolete statute; a tradition that the poorest follower of Romulus had
been endowed with the perpetual inheritance of two _jugera_; a statute
which confined the richest citizen to the measure of five hundred
jugera, or three hundred and twelve acres of land. The original
territory of Rome consisted only of some miles of wood and meadow along
the banks of the Tyber; and domestic exchange could add nothing to the
national stock. But the goods of an alien or enemy were lawfully exposed
to the first hostile occupier; the city was enriched by the profitable
trade of war; and the blood of her sons was the only price that was paid
for the Volscian sheep, the slaves of Briton, or the gems and gold of
Asiatic kingdoms. In the language of ancient jurisprudence, which was
corrupted and forgotten before the age of Justinian, these spoils were
distinguished by the name of _manceps_ or _mancipium_, taken with
the hand; and whenever they were sold or _emancipated_, the purchaser
required some assurance that they had been the property of an enemy,
and not of a fellow-citizen. A citizen could only forfeit his rights by
apparent dereliction, and such dereliction of a valuable interest
could not easily be presumed. Yet, according to the Twelve Tables, a
prescription of one year for movables, and of two years for immovables,
abolished the claim of the ancient master, if the actual possessor had
acquired them by a fair transaction from the person whom he believed
to be the lawful proprietor. Such conscientious injustice, without any
mixture of fraud or force could seldom injure the members of a small
republic; but the various periods of three, of ten, or of twenty years,
determined by Justinian, are more suitable to the latitude of a great
empire. It is only in the term of prescription that the distinction of
real and personal fortune has been remarked by the civilians; and
their general idea of property is that of simple, uniform, and absolute
dominion. The subordinate exceptions of _use_, of _usufruct_, of
_servitude_, imposed for the benefit of a neighbor on lands and houses,
are abundantly explained by the professors of jurisprudence. The claims
of property, as far as they are altered by the mixture, the division,
or the transformation of substances, are investigated with metaphysical
subtilty by the same civilians.

The personal title of the first proprietor must be determined by
his death: but the possession, without any appearance of change, is
peaceably continued in his children, the associates of his toil, and the
partners of his wealth. This natural inheritance has been protected by
the legislators of every climate and age, and the father is encouraged
to persevere in slow and distant improvements, by the tender hope, that
a long posterity will enjoy the fruits of his labor. The _principle_ of
hereditary succession is universal; but the _order_ has been variously
established by convenience or caprice, by the spirit of national
institutions, or by some partial example which was originally decided
by fraud or violence. The jurisprudence of the Romans appear to have
deviated from the inequality of nature much less than the Jewish, the
Athenian, or the English institutions. On the death of a citizen, all
his descendants, unless they were already freed from his paternal
power, were called to the inheritance of his possessions. The insolent
prerogative of primogeniture was unknown; the two sexes were placed on a
just level; all the sons and daughters were entitled to an equal portion
of the patrimonial estate; and if any of the sons had been intercepted
by a premature death, his person was represented, and his share was
divided, by his surviving children. On the failure of the direct line,
the right of succession must diverge to the collateral branches. The
degrees of kindred are numbered by the civilians, ascending from the
last possessor to a common parent, and descending from the common parent
to the next heir: my father stands in the first degree, my brother in
the second, his children in the third, and the remainder of the series
may be conceived by a fancy, or pictured in a genealogical table. In
this computation, a distinction was made, essential to the laws and even
the constitution of Rome; the _agnats_, or persons connected by a line
of males, were called, as they stood in the nearest degree, to an equal
partition; but a female was incapable of transmitting any legal claims;
and the _cognats_ of every rank, without excepting the dear relation of
a mother and a son, were disinherited by the Twelve Tables, as strangers
and aliens. Among the Romans _agens_ or lineage was united by a common
_name_ and domestic rites; the various _cognomens_ or _surnames_ of
Scipio, or Marcellus, distinguished from each other the subordinate
branches or families of the Cornelian or Claudian race: the default
of the _agnats_, of the same surname, was supplied by the larger
denomination of _gentiles_; and the vigilance of the laws maintained, in
the same name, the perpetual descent of religion and property. A similar
principle dictated the Voconian law, which abolished the right of female
inheritance. As long as virgins were given or sold in marriage, the
adoption of the wife extinguished the hopes of the daughter. But the
equal succession of independent matrons supported their pride and
luxury, and might transport into a foreign house the riches of
their fathers. While the maxims of Cato were revered, they tended to
perpetuate in each family a just and virtuous mediocrity: till female
blandishments insensibly triumphed; and every salutary restraint was
lost in the dissolute greatness of the republic. The rigor of the
decemvirs was tempered by the equity of the prætors. Their edicts
restored and emancipated posthumous children to the rights of nature;
and upon the failure of the _agnats_, they preferred the blood of the
_cognats_ to the name of the gentiles whose title and character were
insensibly covered with oblivion. The reciprocal inheritance of mothers
and sons was established in the Tertullian and Orphitian decrees by the
humanity of the senate. A new and more impartial order was introduced by
the Novels of Justinian, who affected to revive the jurisprudence of
the Twelve Tables. The lines of masculine and female kindred were
confounded: the descending, ascending, and collateral series was
accurately defined; and each degree, according tot he proximity of blood
and affection, succeeded to the vacant possessions of a Roman citizen.

The order of succession is regulated by nature, or at least by the
general and permanent reason of the lawgiver: but this order is
frequently violated by the arbitrary and partial _wills_, which prolong
the dominion of the testator beyond the grave. In the simple state
of society, this last use or abuse of the right of property is seldom
indulged: it was introduced at Athens by the laws of Solon; and the
private testaments of the father of a family are authorized by the
Twelve Tables. Before the time of the decemvirs, a Roman citizen exposed
his wishes and motives to the assembly of the thirty curiæ or parishes,
and the general law of inheritance was suspended by an occasional act
of the legislature. After the permission of the decemvirs, each private
lawgiver promulgated his verbal or written testament in the presence of
five citizens, who represented the five classes of the Roman people; a
sixth witness attested their concurrence; a seventh weighed the copper
money, which was paid by an imaginary purchaser; and the estate was
emancipated by a fictitious sale and immediate release. This singular
ceremony, which excited the wonder of the Greeks, was still practised in
the age of Severus; but the prætors had already approved a more simple
testament, for which they required the seals and signatures of seven
witnesses, free from all legal exception, and purposely summoned for the
execution of that important act. A domestic monarch, who reigned
over the lives and fortunes of his children, might distribute their
respective shares according to the degrees of their merit or his
affection; his arbitrary displeasure chastised an unworthy son by the
loss of his inheritance, and the mortifying preference of a stranger.
But the experience of unnatural parents recommended some limitations of
their testamentary powers. A son, or, by the laws of Justinian, even a
daughter, could no longer be disinherited by their silence: they were
compelled to name the criminal, and to specify the offence; and the
justice of the emperor enumerated the sole causes that could justify
such a violation of the first principles of nature and society. Unless
a legitimate portion, a fourth part, had been reserved for the children,
they were entitled to institute an action or complaint of _inofficious_
testament; to suppose that their father's understanding was impaired by
sickness or age; and respectfully to appeal from his rigorous sentence
to the deliberate wisdom of the magistrate. In the Roman jurisprudence,
an essential distinction was admitted between the inheritance and the
legacies. The heirs who succeeded to the entire unity, or to any of the
twelve fractions of the substance of the testator, represented his civil
and religious character, asserted his rights, fulfilled his obligations,
and discharged the gifts of friendship or liberality, which his last
will had bequeathed under the name of legacies. But as the imprudence or
prodigality of a dying man might exhaust the inheritance, and leave
only risk and labor to his successor, he was empowered to retain the
_Falcidian_ portion; to deduct, before the payment of the legacies, a
clear fourth for his own emolument. A reasonable time was allowed to
examine the proportion between the debts and the estate, to decide
whether he should accept or refuse the testament; and if he used the
benefit of an inventory, the demands of the creditors could not exceed
the valuation of the effects. The last will of a citizen might be
altered during his life, or rescinded after his death: the persons whom
he named might die before him, or reject the inheritance, or be exposed
to some legal disqualification. In the contemplation of these events,
he was permitted to substitute second and third heirs, to replace each
other according to the order of the testament; and the incapacity of
a madman or an infant to bequeath his property might be supplied by a
similar substitution. But the power of the testator expired with the
acceptance of the testament: each Roman of mature age and discretion
acquired the absolute dominion of his inheritance, and the simplicity of
the civil law was never clouded by the long and intricate entails which
confine the happiness and freedom of unborn generations.

Conquest and the formalities of law established the use of _codicils_.
If a Roman was surprised by death in a remote province of the empire,
he addressed a short epistle to his legitimate or testamentary heir;
who fulfilled with honor, or neglected with impunity, this last request,
which the judges before the age of Augustus were not authorized to
enforce. A codicil might be expressed in any mode, or in any language;
but the subscription of five witnesses must declare that it was the
genuine composition of the author. His intention, however laudable, was
sometimes illegal; and the invention of _fidei-commissa_, or
trusts, arose form the struggle between natural justice and positive
jurisprudence. A stranger of Greece or Africa might be the friend or
benefactor of a childless Roman, but none, except a fellow-citizen,
could act as his heir. The Voconian law, which abolished female
succession, restrained the legacy or inheritance of a woman to the sum
of one hundred thousand sesterces; and an only daughter was condemned
almost as an alien in her father's house. The zeal of friendship, and
parental affection, suggested a liberal artifice: a qualified citizen
was named in the testament, with a prayer or injunction that he would
restore the inheritance to the person for whom it was truly intended.
Various was the conduct of the trustees in this painful situation: they
had sworn to observe the laws of their country, but honor prompted them
to violate their oath; and if they preferred their interest under the
mask of patriotism, they forfeited the esteem of every virtuous mind.
The declaration of Augustus relieved their doubts, gave a legal sanction
to confidential testaments and codicils, and gently unravelled the forms
and restraints of the republican jurisprudence. But as the new practice
of trusts degenerated into some abuse, the trustee was enabled, by the
Trebellian and Pegasian decrees, to reserve one fourth of the estate,
or to transfer on the head of the real heir all the debts and actions of
the succession. The interpretation of testaments was strict and literal;
but the language of _trusts_ and codicils was delivered from the minute
and technical accuracy of the civilians.

III. The general duties of mankind are imposed by their public and
private relations: but their specific _obligations_ to each other can
only be the effect of, 1. a promise, 2. a benefit, or 3. an injury: and
when these obligations are ratified by law, the interested party may
compel the performance by a judicial action. On this principle, the
civilians of every country have erected a similar jurisprudence, the
fair conclusion of universal reason and justice.



Chapter XLIV: Idea Of The Roman Jurisprudence.--Part VII.

1. The goddess of _faith_ (of human and social faith) was worshipped,
not only in her temples, but in the lives of the Romans; and if that
nation was deficient in the more amiable qualities of benevolence and
generosity, they astonished the Greeks by their sincere and simple
performance of the most burdensome engagements. Yet among the same
people, according to the rigid maxims of the patricians and decemvirs,
a _naked pact_, a promise, or even an oath, did not create any
civil obligation, unless it was confirmed by the legal form of a
_stipulation_. Whatever might be the etymology of the Latin word, it
conveyed the idea of a firm and irrevocable contract, which was always
expressed in the mode of a question and answer. Do you promise to pay me
one hundred pieces of gold? was the solemn interrogation of Seius. I
do promise, was the reply of Sempronius. The friends of Sempronius, who
answered for his ability and inclination, might be separately sued
at the option of Seius; and the benefit of partition, or order of
reciprocal actions, insensibly deviated from the strict theory of
stipulation. The most cautious and deliberate consent was justly
required to sustain the validity of a gratuitous promise; and the
citizen who might have obtained a legal security, incurred the suspicion
of fraud, and paid the forfeit of his neglect. But the ingenuity of the
civilians successfully labored to convert simple engagements into the
form of solemn stipulations. The prætors, as the guardians of social
faith, admitted every rational evidence of a voluntary and deliberate
act, which in their tribunal produced an equitable obligation, and for
which they gave an action and a remedy.

2. The obligations of the second class, as they were contracted by the
delivery of a thing, are marked by the civilians with the epithet of
real. A grateful return is due to the author of a benefit; and whoever
is intrusted with the property of another, has bound himself to the
sacred duty of restitution. In the case of a friendly loan, the merit of
generosity is on the side of the lender only; in a deposit, on the side
of the receiver; but in a _pledge_, and the rest of the selfish commerce
of ordinary life, the benefit is compensated by an equivalent, and
the obligation to restore is variously modified by the nature of the
transaction. The Latin language very happily expresses the fundamental
difference between the _commodatum_ and the _mutuum_, which our poverty
is reduced to confound under the vague and common appellation of a loan.
In the former, the borrower was obliged to restore the same individual
thing with which he had been _accommodated_ for the temporary supply of
his wants; in the latter, it was destined for his use and consumption,
and he discharged this _mutual_ engagement, by substituting the same
specific value according to a just estimation of number, of weight,
and of measure. In the contract of _sale_, the absolute dominion is
transferred to the purchaser, and he repays the benefit with an adequate
sum of gold or silver, the price and universal standard of all earthly
possessions. The obligation of another contract, that of _location_, is
of a more complicated kind. Lands or houses, labor or talents, may be
hired for a definite term; at the expiration of the time, the thing
itself must be restored to the owner, with an additional reward for the
beneficial occupation and employment. In these lucrative contracts, to
which may be added those of partnership and commissions, the civilians
sometimes imagine the delivery of the object, and sometimes presume the
consent of the parties. The substantial pledge has been refined into
the invisible rights of a mortgage or _hypotheca_; and the agreement
of sale, for a certain price, imputes, from that moment, the chances of
gain or loss to the account of the purchaser. It may be fairly supposed,
that every man will obey the dictates of his interest; and if he accepts
the benefit, he is obliged to sustain the expense, of the transaction.
In this boundless subject, the historian will observe the _location_ of
land and money, the rent of the one and the interest of the other, as
they materially affect the prosperity of agriculture and commerce.
The landlord was often obliged to advance the stock and instruments of
husbandry, and to content himself with a partition of the fruits. If the
feeble tenant was oppressed by accident, contagion, or hostile violence,
he claimed a proportionable relief from the equity of the laws: five
years were the customary term, and no solid or costly improvements could
be expected from a farmer, who, at each moment might be ejected by the
sale of the estate. Usury, the inveterate grievance of the city, had
been discouraged by the Twelve Tables, and abolished by the clamors of
the people. It was revived by their wants and idleness, tolerated by
the discretion of the prætors, and finally determined by the Code of
Justinian. Persons of illustrious rank were confined to the moderate
profit of _four per cent_.; six was pronounced to be the ordinary and
legal standard of interest; eight was allowed for the convenience of
manufactures and merchants; twelve was granted to nautical insurance,
which the wiser ancients had not attempted to define; but, except in
this perilous adventure, the practice of exorbitant usury was severely
restrained. The most simple interest was condemned by the clergy of the
East and West; but the sense of mutual benefit, which had triumphed over
the law of the republic, has resisted with equal firmness the decrees of
the church, and even the prejudices of mankind.

3. Nature and society impose the strict obligation of repairing an
injury; and the sufferer by private injustice acquires a personal right
and a legitimate action. If the property of another be intrusted to our
care, the requisite degree of care may rise and fall according to the
benefit which we derive from such temporary possession; we are seldom
made responsible for inevitable accident, but the consequences of a
voluntary fault must always be imputed to the author. A Roman pursued
and recovered his stolen goods by a civil action of theft; they might
pass through a succession of pure and innocent hands, but nothing less
than a prescription of thirty years could extinguish his original claim.
They were restored by the sentence of the prætor, and the injury was
compensated by double, or threefold, or even quadruple damages, as the
deed had been perpetrated by secret fraud or open rapine, as the robber
had been surprised in the fact, or detected by a subsequent research.
The Aquilian law defended the living property of a citizen, his slaves
and cattle, from the stroke of malice or negligence: the highest price
was allowed that could be ascribed to the domestic animal at any moment
of the year preceding his death; a similar latitude of thirty days was
granted on the destruction of any other valuable effects. A personal
injury is blunted or sharpened by the manners of the times and the
sensibility of the individual: the pain or the disgrace of a word or
blow cannot easily be appreciated by a pecuniary equivalent. The rude
jurisprudence of the decemvirs had confounded all hasty insults, which
did not amount to the fracture of a limb, by condemning the aggressor to
the common penalty of twenty-five _asses_. But the same denomination
of money was reduced, in three centuries, from a pound to the weight of
half an ounce: and the insolence of a wealthy Roman indulged himself
in the cheap amusement of breaking and satisfying the law of the twelve
tables. Veratius ran through the streets striking on the face the
inoffensive passengers, and his attendant purse-bearer immediately
silenced their clamors by the legal tender of twenty-five pieces of
copper, about the value of one shilling. The equity of the prætors
examined and estimated the distinct merits of each particular complaint.
In the adjudication of civil damages, the magistrate assumed a right
to consider the various circumstances of time and place, of age and
dignity, which may aggravate the shame and sufferings of the injured
person; but if he admitted the idea of a fine, a punishment, an example,
he invaded the province, though, perhaps, he supplied the defects, of
the criminal law.

The execution of the Alban dictator, who was dismembered by eight
horses, is represented by Livy as the first and the fast instance of
Roman cruelty in the punishment of the most atrocious crimes. But this
act of justice, or revenge, was inflicted on a foreign enemy in the heat
of victory, and at the command of a single man. The twelve tables afford
a more decisive proof of the national spirit, since they were framed by
the wisest of the senate, and accepted by the free voices of the people;
yet these laws, like the statutes of Draco, are written in characters
of blood. They approve the inhuman and unequal principle of retaliation;
and the forfeit of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a limb for a
limb, is rigorously exacted, unless the offender can redeem his pardon
by a fine of three hundred pounds of copper. The decemvirs distributed
with much liberality the slighter chastisements of flagellation and
servitude; and nine crimes of a very different complexion are adjudged
worthy of death. _1._ Any act of _treason_ against the state, or of
correspondence with the public enemy. The mode of execution was painful
and ignominious: the head of the degenerate Roman was shrouded in
a veil, his hands were tied behind his back, and after he had been
scourged by the lictor, he was suspended in the midst of the forum on
a cross, or inauspicious tree. _2._ Nocturnal meetings in the city;
whatever might be the pretence, of pleasure, or religion, or the public
good. _3._ The murder of a citizen; for which the common feelings of
mankind demand the blood of the murderer. Poison is still more odious
than the sword or dagger; and we are surprised to discover, in two
flagitious events, how early such subtle wickedness had infected the
simplicity of the republic, and the chaste virtues of the Roman matrons.
The parricide, who violated the duties of nature and gratitude, was cast
into the river or the sea, enclosed in a sack; and a cock, a viper,
a dog, and a monkey, were successively added, as the most suitable
companions. Italy produces no monkeys; but the want could never be
felt, till the middle of the sixth century first revealed the guilt of
a parricide. _4._The malice of an _incendiary_. After the previous
ceremony of whipping, he himself was delivered to the flames; and in
this example alone our reason is tempted to applaud the justice of
retaliation. _5._ _Judicial perjury_. The corrupt or malicious witness
was thrown headlong from the Tarpeian rock, to expiate his falsehood,
which was rendered still more fatal by the severity of the penal laws,
and the deficiency of written evidence. _6._ The corruption of a judge,
who accepted bribes to pronounce an iniquitous sentence. _7._ Libels
and satires, whose rude strains sometimes disturbed the peace of
an illiterate city. The author was beaten with clubs, a worthy
chastisement, but it is not certain that he was left to expire under
the blows of the executioner. _8._ The nocturnal mischief of damaging or
destroying a neighbor's corn. The criminal was suspended as a grateful
victim to Ceres. But the sylvan deities were less implacable, and the
extirpation of a more valuable tree was compensated by the moderate fine
of twenty-five pounds of copper. _9._ Magical incantations; which had
power, in the opinion of the Latin shepherds, to exhaust the strength
of an enemy, to extinguish his life, and to remove from their seats
his deep-rooted plantations. The cruelty of the twelve tables against
insolvent debtors still remains to be told; and I shall dare to prefer
the literal sense of antiquity to the specious refinements of modern
criticism. After the judicial proof or confession of the debt, thirty
days of grace were allowed before a Roman was delivered into the power
of his fellow-citizen. In this private prison, twelve ounces of rice
were his daily food; he might be bound with a chain of fifteen pounds
weight; and his misery was thrice exposed in the market place, to
solicit the compassion of his friends and countrymen. At the expiration
of sixty days, the debt was discharged by the loss of liberty or life;
the insolvent debtor was either put to death, or sold in foreign slavery
beyond the Tyber: but, if several creditors were alike obstinate and
unrelenting, they might legally dismember his body, and satiate their
revenge by this horrid partition. The advocates for this savage law have
insisted, that it must strongly operate in deterring idleness and
fraud from contracting debts which they were unable to discharge; but
experience would dissipate this salutary terror, by proving that no
creditor could be found to exact this unprofitable penalty of life or
limb. As the manners of Rome were insensibly polished, the criminal code
of the decemvirs was abolished by the humanity of accusers, witnesses,
and judges; and impunity became the consequence of immoderate rigor. The
Porcian and Valerian laws prohibited the magistrates from inflicting
on a free citizen any capital, or even corporal, punishment; and the
obsolete statutes of blood were artfully, and perhaps truly, ascribed to
the spirit, not of patrician, but of regal, tyranny.

In the absence of penal laws, and the insufficiency of civil actions,
the peace and justice of the city were imperfectly maintained by the
private jurisdiction of the citizens. The malefactors who replenish our
jails are the outcasts of society, and the crimes for which they suffer
may be commonly ascribed to ignorance, poverty, and brutal appetite. For
the perpetration of similar enormities, a vile plebeian might claim
and abuse the sacred character of a member of the republic: but, on the
proof or suspicion of guilt, the slave, or the stranger, was nailed to
a cross; and this strict and summary justice might be exercised without
restraint over the greatest part of the populace of Rome. Each family
contained a domestic tribunal, which was not confined, like that of the
prætor, to the cognizance of external actions: virtuous principles and
habits were inculcated by the discipline of education; and the Roman
father was accountable to the state for the manners of his children,
since he disposed, without appeal, of their life, their liberty,
and their inheritance. In some pressing emergencies, the citizen was
authorized to avenge his private or public wrongs. The consent of the
Jewish, the Athenian, and the Roman laws approved the slaughter of the
nocturnal thief; though in open daylight a robber could not be slain
without some previous evidence of danger and complaint. Whoever
surprised an adulterer in his nuptial bed might freely exercise
his revenge; the most bloody and wanton outrage was excused by the
provocation; nor was it before the reign of Augustus that the husband
was reduced to weigh the rank of the offender, or that the parent was
condemned to sacrifice his daughter with her guilty seducer. After the
expulsion of the kings, the ambitious Roman, who should dare to assume
their title or imitate their tyranny, was devoted to the infernal gods:
each of his fellow-citizens was armed with the sword of justice; and
the act of Brutus, however repugnant to gratitude or prudence, had
been already sanctified by the judgment of his country. The barbarous
practice of wearing arms in the midst of peace, and the bloody maxims of
honor, were unknown to the Romans; and, during the two purest ages, from
the establishment of equal freedom to the end of the Punic wars, the
city was never disturbed by sedition, and rarely polluted with atrocious
crimes. The failure of penal laws was more sensibly felt, when every
vice was inflamed by faction at home and dominion abroad. In the time
of Cicero, each private citizen enjoyed the privilege of anarchy; each
minister of the republic was exalted to the temptations of regal power,
and their virtues are entitled to the warmest praise, as the spontaneous
fruits of nature or philosophy. After a triennial indulgence of lust,
rapine, and cruelty, Verres, the tyrant of Sicily, could only be sued
for the pecuniary restitution of three hundred thousand pounds sterling;
and such was the temper of the laws, the judges, and perhaps the accuser
himself, that, on refunding a thirteenth part of his plunder, Verres
could retire to an easy and luxurious exile.

The first imperfect attempt to restore the proportion of crimes and
punishments was made by the dictator Sylla, who, in the midst of his
sanguinary triumph, aspired to restrain the license, rather than
to oppress the liberty, of the Romans. He gloried in the arbitrary
proscription of four thousand seven hundred citizens. But, in the
character of a legislator, he respected the prejudices of the times;
and, instead of pronouncing a sentence of death against the robber or
assassin, the general who betrayed an army, or the magistrate who ruined
a province, Sylla was content to aggravate the pecuniary damages by
the penalty of exile, or, in more constitutional language, by the
interdiction of fire and water. The Cornelian, and afterwards
the Pompeian and Julian, laws introduced a new system of criminal
jurisprudence; and the emperors, from Augustus to Justinian, disguised
their increasing rigor under the names of the original authors. But the
invention and frequent use of _extraordinary pains_ proceeded from
the desire to extend and conceal the progress of despotism. In the
condemnation of illustrious Romans, the senate was always prepared to
confound, at the will of their masters, the judicial and legislative
powers. It was the duty of the governors to maintain the peace of their
province, by the arbitrary and rigid administration of justice; the
freedom of the city evaporated in the extent of empire, and the Spanish
malefactor, who claimed the privilege of a Roman, was elevated by the
command of Galba on a fairer and more lofty cross. Occasional rescripts
issued from the throne to decide the questions which, by their novelty
or importance, appeared to surpass the authority and discernment of
a proconsul. Transportation and beheading were reserved for honorable
persons; meaner criminals were either hanged, or burnt, or buried in the
mines, or exposed to the wild beasts of the amphitheatre. Armed robbers
were pursued and extirpated as the enemies of society; the driving
away horses or cattle was made a capital offence; but simple theft was
uniformly considered as a mere civil and private injury. The degrees
of guilt, and the modes of punishment, were too often determined by the
discretion of the rulers, and the subject was left in ignorance of the
legal danger which he might incur by every action of his life.

A sin, a vice, a crime, are the objects of theology, ethics, and
jurisprudence. Whenever their judgments agree, they corroborate each
other; but, as often as they differ, a prudent legislator appreciates
the guilt and punishment according to the measure of social injury. On
this principle, the most daring attack on the life and property of a
private citizen is judged less atrocious than the crime of treason or
rebellion, which invades the _majesty_ of the republic: the obsequious
civilians unanimously pronounced, that the republic is contained in the
person of its chief; and the edge of the Julian law was sharpened by
the incessant diligence of the emperors. The licentious commerce of the
sexes may be tolerated as an impulse of nature, or forbidden as a source
of disorder and corruption; but the fame, the fortunes, the family of
the husband, are seriously injured by the adultery of the wife. The
wisdom of Augustus, after curbing the freedom of revenge, applied to
this domestic offence the animadversion of the laws: and the guilty
parties, after the payment of heavy forfeitures and fines, were
condemned to long or perpetual exile in two separate islands. Religion
pronounces an equal censure against the infidelity of the husband; but,
as it is not accompanied by the same civil effects, the wife was never
permitted to vindicate her wrongs; and the distinction of simple or
double adultery, so familiar and so important in the canon law, is
unknown to the jurisprudence of the Code and the Pandects. I touch with
reluctance, and despatch with impatience, a more odious vice, of which
modesty rejects the name, and nature abominates the idea. The primitive
Romans were infected by the example of the Etruscans and Greeks: and in
the mad abuse of prosperity and power, every pleasure that is innocent
was deemed insipid; and the Scatinian law, which had been extorted by an
act of violence, was insensibly abolished by the lapse of time and the
multitude of criminals. By this law, the rape, perhaps the seduction, of
an ingenuous youth, was compensated, as a personal injury, by the poor
damages of ten thousand sesterces, or fourscore pounds; the ravisher
might be slain by the resistance or revenge of chastity; and I wish
to believe, that at Rome, as in Athens, the voluntary and effeminate
deserter of his sex was degraded from the honors and the rights of a
citizen. But the practice of vice was not discouraged by the severity
of opinion: the indelible stain of manhood was confounded with the
more venial transgressions of fornication and adultery, nor was the
licentious lover exposed to the same dishonor which he impressed on the
male or female partner of his guilt. From Catullus to Juvenal, the poets
accuse and celebrate the degeneracy of the times; and the reformation
of manners was feebly attempted by the reason and authority of the
civilians till the most virtuous of the Cæsars proscribed the sin
against nature as a crime against society.



Chapter XLIV: Idea Of The Roman Jurisprudence.--Part VIII.

A new spirit of legislation, respectable even in its error, arose in the
empire with the religion of Constantine. The laws of Moses were received
as the divine original of justice, and the Christian princes adapted
their penal statutes to the degrees of moral and religious turpitude.
Adultery was first declared to be a capital offence: the frailty of
the sexes was assimilated to poison or assassination, to sorcery or
parricide; the same penalties were inflicted on the passive and active
guilt of pæderasty; and all criminals of free or servile condition were
either drowned or beheaded, or cast alive into the avenging flames. The
adulterers were spared by the common sympathy of mankind; but the lovers
of their own sex were pursued by general and pious indignation: the
impure manners of Greece still prevailed in the cities of Asia, and
every vice was fomented by the celibacy of the monks and clergy.
Justinian relaxed the punishment at least of female infidelity: the
guilty spouse was only condemned to solitude and penance, and at the end
of two years she might be recalled to the arms of a forgiving husband.
But the same emperor declared himself the implacable enemy of unmanly
lust, and the cruelty of his persecution can scarcely be excused by the
purity of his motives. In defiance of every principle of justice, he
stretched to past as well as future offences the operations of his
edicts, with the previous allowance of a short respite for confession
and pardon. A painful death was inflicted by the amputation of the
sinful instrument, or the insertion of sharp reeds into the pores
and tubes of most exquisite sensibility; and Justinian defended the
propriety of the execution, since the criminals would have lost their
hands, had they been convicted of sacrilege. In this state of disgrace
and agony, two bishops, Isaiah of Rhodes and Alexander of Diospolis,
were dragged through the streets of Constantinople, while their brethren
were admonished, by the voice of a crier, to observe this awful lesson,
and not to pollute the sanctity of their character. Perhaps these
prelates were innocent. A sentence of death and infamy was often founded
on the slight and suspicious evidence of a child or a servant: the guilt
of the green faction, of the rich, and of the enemies of Theodora, was
presumed by the judges, and pæderasty became the crime of those to whom
no crime could be imputed. A French philosopher has dared to remark that
whatever is secret must be doubtful, and that our natural horror of vice
may be abused as an engine of tyranny. But the favorable persuasion of
the same writer, that a legislator may confide in the taste and reason
of mankind, is impeached by the unwelcome discovery of the antiquity and
extent of the disease.

The free citizens of Athens and Rome enjoyed, in all criminal cases,
the invaluable privilege of being tried by their country. 1. The
administration of justice is the most ancient office of a prince: it was
exercised by the Roman kings, and abused by Tarquin; who alone, without
law or council, pronounced his arbitrary judgments. The first consuls
succeeded to this regal prerogative; but the sacred right of appeal soon
abolished the jurisdiction of the magistrates, and all public causes
were decided by the supreme tribunal of the people. But a wild
democracy, superior to the forms, too often disdains the essential
principles, of justice: the pride of despotism was envenomed by plebeian
envy, and the heroes of Athens might sometimes applaud the happiness of
the Persian, whose fate depended on the caprice of a _single_ tyrant.
Some salutary restraints, imposed by the people or their own passions,
were at once the cause and effect of the gravity and temperance of the
Romans. The right of accusation was confined to the magistrates. A vote
of the thirty five tribes could inflict a fine; but the cognizance of
all capital crimes was reserved by a fundamental law to the assembly of
the centuries, in which the weight of influence and property was sure to
preponderate. Repeated proclamations and adjournments were interposed,
to allow time for prejudice and resentment to subside: the whole
proceeding might be annulled by a seasonable omen, or the opposition
of a tribune; and such popular trials were commonly less formidable
to innocence than they were favorable to guilt. But this union of the
judicial and legislative powers left it doubtful whether the accused
party was pardoned or acquitted; and, in the defence of an illustrious
client, the orators of Rome and Athens address their arguments to the
policy and benevolence, as well as to the justice, of their sovereign.
2. The task of convening the citizens for the trial of each offender
became more difficult, as the citizens and the offenders continually
multiplied; and the ready expedient was adopted of delegating
the jurisdiction of the people to the ordinary magistrates, or to
extraordinary _inquisitors_. In the first ages these questions were rare
and occasional. In the beginning of the seventh century of Rome they
were made perpetual: four prætors were annually empowered to sit in
judgment on the state offences of treason, extortion, peculation, and
bribery; and Sylla added new prætors and new questions for those
crimes which more directly injure the safety of individuals. By these
_inquisitors_ the trial was prepared and directed; but they could only
pronounce the sentence of the majority of _judges_, who with some
truth, and more prejudice, have been compared to the English juries. To
discharge this important, though burdensome office, an annual list of
ancient and respectable citizens was formed by the prætor. After many
constitutional struggles, they were chosen in equal numbers from the
senate, the equestrian order, and the people; four hundred and fifty
were appointed for single questions; and the various rolls or _decuries_
of judges must have contained the names of some thousand Romans, who
represented the judicial authority of the state. In each particular
cause, a sufficient number was drawn from the urn; their integrity was
guarded by an oath; the mode of ballot secured their independence; the
suspicion of partiality was removed by the mutual challenges of the
accuser and defendant; and the judges of Milo, by the retrenchment of
fifteen on each side, were reduced to fifty-one voices or tablets,
of acquittal, of condemnation, or of favorable doubt. 3. In his civil
jurisdiction, the prætor of the city was truly a judge, and almost a
legislator; but, as soon as he had prescribed the action of law, he
often referred to a delegate the determination of the fact. With the
increase of legal proceedings, the tribunal of the centumvirs, in which
he presided, acquired more weight and reputation. But whether he acted
alone, or with the advice of his council, the most absolute powers might
be trusted to a magistrate who was annually chosen by the votes of
the people. The rules and precautions of freedom have required some
explanation; the order of despotism is simple and inanimate. Before the
age of Justinian, or perhaps of Diocletian, the decuries of Roman judges
had sunk to an empty title: the humble advice of the assessors might
be accepted or despised; and in each tribunal the civil and criminal
jurisdiction was administered by a single magistrate, who was raised and
disgraced by the will of the emperor.

A Roman accused of any capital crime might prevent the sentence of
the law by voluntary exile, or death. Till his guilt had been legally
proved, his innocence was presumed, and his person was free: till the
votes of the last _century_ had been counted and declared, he might
peaceably secede to any of the allied cities of Italy, or Greece, or
Asia. His fame and fortunes were preserved, at least to his children,
by this civil death; and he might still be happy in every rational and
sensual enjoyment, if a mind accustomed to the ambitious tumult of Rome
could support the uniformity and silence of Rhodes or Athens. A bolder
effort was required to escape from the tyranny of the Cæsars; but this
effort was rendered familiar by the maxims of the stoics, the example of
the bravest Romans, and the legal encouragements of suicide. The bodies
of condemned criminals were exposed to public ignominy, and their
children, a more serious evil, were reduced to poverty by the
confiscation of their fortunes. But, if the victims of Tiberius and
Nero anticipated the decree of the prince or senate, their courage and
despatch were recompensed by the applause of the public, the decent
honors of burial, and the validity of their testaments. The exquisite
avarice and cruelty of Domitian appear to have deprived the unfortunate
of this last consolation, and it was still denied even by the clemency
of the Antonines. A voluntary death, which, in the case of a capital
offence, intervened between the accusation and the sentence, was
admitted as a confession of guilt, and the spoils of the deceased were
seized by the inhuman claims of the treasury. Yet the civilians have
always respected the natural right of a citizen to dispose of his life;
and the posthumous disgrace invented by Tarquin, to check the despair of
his subjects, was never revived or imitated by succeeding tyrants. The
powers of this world have indeed lost their dominion over him who is
resolved on death; and his arm can only be restrained by the religious
apprehension of a future state. Suicides are enumerated by Virgil among
the unfortunate, rather than the guilty; and the poetical fables of the
infernal shades could not seriously influence the faith or practice of
mankind. But the precepts of the gospel, or the church, have at length
imposed a pious servitude on the minds of Christians, and condemn
them to expect, without a murmur, the last stroke of disease or the
executioner.

The penal statutes form a very small proportion of the sixty-two books
of the Code and Pandects; and in all judicial proceedings, the life or
death of a citizen is determined with less caution or delay than
the most ordinary question of covenant or inheritance. This singular
distinction, though something may be allowed for the urgent necessity of
defending the peace of society, is derived from the nature of criminal
and civil jurisprudence. Our duties to the state are simple and uniform:
the law by which he is condemned is inscribed not only on brass or
marble, but on the conscience of the offender, and his guilt is commonly
proved by the testimony of a single fact. But our relations to each
other are various and infinite; our obligations are created,
annulled, and modified, by injuries, benefits, and promises; and the
interpretation of voluntary contracts and testaments, which are often
dictated by fraud or ignorance, affords a long and laborious exercise
to the sagacity of the judge. The business of life is multiplied by the
extent of commerce and dominion, and the residence of the parties in
the distant provinces of an empire is productive of doubt, delay, and
inevitable appeals from the local to the supreme magistrate. Justinian,
the Greek emperor of Constantinople and the East, was the legal
successor of the Latin shepherd who had planted a colony on the banks
of the Tyber. In a period of thirteen hundred years, the laws had
reluctantly followed the changes of government and manners; and the
laudable desire of conciliating ancient names with recent institutions
destroyed the harmony, and swelled the magnitude, of the obscure and
irregular system. The laws which excuse, on any occasions, the
ignorance of their subjects, confess their own imperfections: the
civil jurisprudence, as it was abridged by Justinian, still continued a
mysterious science, and a profitable trade, and the innate perplexity
of the study was involved in tenfold darkness by the private industry
of the practitioners. The expense of the pursuit sometimes exceeded the
value of the prize, and the fairest rights were abandoned by the poverty
or prudence of the claimants. Such costly justice might tend to abate
the spirit of litigation, but the unequal pressure serves only to
increase the influence of the rich, and to aggravate the misery of the
poor. By these dilatory and expensive proceedings, the wealthy pleader
obtains a more certain advantage than he could hope from the accidental
corruption of his judge. The experience of an abuse, from which our
own age and country are not perfectly exempt, may sometimes provoke
a generous indignation, and extort the hasty wish of exchanging our
elaborate jurisprudence for the simple and summary decrees of a Turkish
cadhi. Our calmer reflection will suggest, that such forms and delays
are necessary to guard the person and property of the citizen; that the
discretion of the judge is the first engine of tyranny; and that the
laws of a free people should foresee and determine every question that
may probably arise in the exercise of power and the transactions of
industry. But the government of Justinian united the evils of liberty
and servitude; and the Romans were oppressed at the same time by the
multiplicity of their laws and the arbitrary will of their master.



Chapter XLV: State Of Italy Under The Lombards.--Part I.

     Reign Of The Younger Justin.--Embassy Of The Avars.--Their
     Settlement On The Danube.--Conquest Of Italy By The
     Lombards.--Adoption And Reign Of Tiberius.--Of Maurice.--
     State Of Italy Under The Lombards And The Exarchs.--Of
     Ravenna.--Distress Of Rome.--Character And Pontificate Of
     Gregory The First.

During the last years of Justinian, his infirm mind was devoted to
heavenly contemplation, and he neglected the business of the lower
world. His subjects were impatient of the long continuance of his life
and reign: yet all who were capable of reflection apprehended the moment
of his death, which might involve the capital in tumult, and the empire
in civil war. Seven nephews of the childless monarch, the sons or
grandsons of his brother and sister, had been educated in the splendor
of a princely fortune; they had been shown in high commands to the
provinces and armies; their characters were known, their followers were
zealous, and, as the jealousy of age postponed the declaration of a
successor, they might expect with equal hopes the inheritance of their
uncle. He expired in his palace, after a reign of thirty-eight years;
and the decisive opportunity was embraced by the friends of Justin, the
son of Vigilantia. At the hour of midnight, his domestics were awakened
by an importunate crowd, who thundered at his door, and obtained
admittance by revealing themselves to be the principal members of the
senate. These welcome deputies announced the recent and momentous secret
of the emperor's decease; reported, or perhaps invented, his dying
choice of the best beloved and most deserving of his nephews, and
conjured Justin to prevent the disorders of the multitude, if they
should perceive, with the return of light, that they were left without a
master. After composing his countenance to surprise, sorrow, and decent
modesty, Justin, by the advice of his wife Sophia, submitted to the
authority of the senate. He was conducted with speed and silence to
the palace; the guards saluted their new sovereign; and the martial and
religious rites of his coronation were diligently accomplished. By the
hands of the proper officers he was invested with the Imperial garments,
the red buskins, white tunic, and purple robe. A fortunate soldier, whom
he instantly promoted to the rank of tribune, encircled his neck with
a military collar; four robust youths exalted him on a shield; he stood
firm and erect to receive the adoration of his subjects; and their
choice was sanctified by the benediction of the patriarch, who imposed
the diadem on the head of an orthodox prince. The hippodrome was already
filled with innumerable multitudes; and no sooner did the emperor appear
on his throne, than the voices of the blue and the green factions were
confounded in the same loyal acclamations. In the speeches which Justin
addressed to the senate and people, he promised to correct the abuses
which had disgraced the age of his predecessor, displayed the maxims of
a just and beneficent government, and declared that, on the approaching
calends of January, he would revive in his own person the name and
liberty of a Roman consul. The immediate discharge of his uncle's
debts exhibited a solid pledge of his faith and generosity: a train
of porters, laden with bags of gold, advanced into the midst of the
hippodrome, and the hopeless creditors of Justinian accepted this
equitable payment as a voluntary gift. Before the end of three years,
his example was imitated and surpassed by the empress Sophia, who
delivered many indigent citizens from the weight of debt and usury: an
act of benevolence the best entitled to gratitude, since it relieves the
most intolerable distress; but in which the bounty of a prince is the
most liable to be abused by the claims of prodigality and fraud.

On the seventh day of his reign, Justin gave audience to the ambassadors
of the Avars, and the scene was decorated to impress the Barbarians with
astonishment, veneration, and terror. From the palace gate, the spacious
courts and long porticos were lined with the lofty crests and gilt
bucklers of the guards, who presented their spears and axes with more
confidence than they would have shown in a field of battle. The officers
who exercised the power, or attended the person, of the prince, were
attired in their richest habits, and arranged according to the military
and civil order of the hierarchy. When the veil of the sanctuary was
withdrawn, the ambassadors beheld the emperor of the East on his throne,
beneath a canopy, or dome, which was supported by four columns, and
crowned with a winged figure of Victory. In the first emotions of
surprise, they submitted to the servile adoration of the Byzantine
court; but as soon as they rose from the ground, Targetius, the chief
of the embassy, expressed the freedom and pride of a Barbarian. He
extolled, by the tongue of his interpreter, the greatness of the chagan,
by whose clemency the kingdoms of the South were permitted to exist,
whose victorious subjects had traversed the frozen rivers of Scythia,
and who now covered the banks of the Danube with innumerable tents.
The late emperor had cultivated, with annual and costly gifts, the
friendship of a grateful monarch, and the enemies of Rome had respected
the allies of the Avars. The same prudence would instruct the nephew of
Justinian to imitate the liberality of his uncle, and to purchase the
blessings of peace from an invincible people, who delighted and excelled
in the exercise of war. The reply of the emperor was delivered in the
same strain of haughty defiance, and he derived his confidence from
the God of the Christians, the ancient glory of Rome, and the recent
triumphs of Justinian. "The empire," said he, "abounds with men and
horses, and arms sufficient to defend our frontiers, and to chastise
the Barbarians. You offer aid, you threaten hostilities: we despise your
enmity and your aid. The conquerors of the Avars solicit our alliance;
shall we dread their fugitives and exiles? The bounty of our uncle
was granted to your misery, to your humble prayers. From us you shall
receive a more important obligation, the knowledge of your own weakness.
Retire from our presence; the lives of ambassadors are safe; and, if
you return to implore our pardon, perhaps you will taste of our
benevolence." On the report of his ambassadors, the chagan was awed
by the apparent firmness of a Roman emperor of whose character and
resources he was ignorant. Instead of executing his threats against
the Eastern empire, he marched into the poor and savage countries of
Germany, which were subject to the dominion of the Franks. After two
doubtful battles, he consented to retire, and the Austrasian king
relieve the distress of his camp with an immediate supply of corn and
cattle. Such repeated disappointments had chilled the spirit of the
Avars, and their power would have dissolved away in the Sarmatian
desert, if the alliance of Alboin, king of the Lombards, had not given
a new object to their arms, and a lasting settlement to their wearied
fortunes.

While Alboin served under his father's standard, he encountered in
battle, and transpierced with his lance, the rival prince of the Gepidæ.
The Lombards, who applauded such early prowess, requested his father,
with unanimous acclamations, that the heroic youth, who had shared the
dangers of the field, might be admitted to the feast of victory. "You
are not unmindful," replied the inflexible Audoin, "of the wise customs
of our ancestors. Whatever may be his merit, a prince is incapable of
sitting at table with his father till he has received his arms from a
foreign and royal hand." Alboin bowed with reverence to the institutions
of his country, selected forty companions, and boldly visited the court
of Turisund, king of the Gepidæ, who embraced and entertained, according
to the laws of hospitality, the murderer of his son. At the banquet,
whilst Alboin occupied the seat of the youth whom he had slain, a tender
remembrance arose in the mind of Turisund. "How dear is that place! how
hateful is that person!" were the words that escaped, with a sigh, from
the indignant father. His grief exasperated the national resentment of
the Gepidæ; and Cunimund, his surviving son, was provoked by wine, or
fraternal affection, to the desire of vengeance. "The Lombards," said
the rude Barbarian, "resemble, in figure and in smell, the mares of our
Sarmatian plains." And this insult was a coarse allusion to the white
bands which enveloped their legs. "Add another resemblance," replied
an audacious Lombard; "you have felt how strongly they kick. Visit
the plain of Asfield, and seek for the bones of thy brother: they are
mingled with those of the vilest animals." The Gepidæ, a nation of
warriors, started from their seats, and the fearless Alboin, with his
forty companions, laid their hands on their swords. The tumult was
appeased by the venerable interposition of Turisund. He saved his
own honor, and the life of his guest; and, after the solemn rites of
investiture, dismissed the stranger in the bloody arms of his son; the
gift of a weeping parent. Alboin returned in triumph; and the Lombards,
who celebrated his matchless intrepidity, were compelled to praise the
virtues of an enemy. In this extraordinary visit he had probably seen
the daughter of Cunimund, who soon after ascended the throne of the
Gepidæ. Her name was Rosamond, an appellation expressive of female
beauty, and which our own history or romance has consecrated to amorous
tales. The king of the Lombards (the father of Alboin no longer lived)
was contracted to the granddaughter of Clovis; but the restraints
of faith and policy soon yielded to the hope of possessing the fair
Rosamond, and of insulting her family and nation. The arts of persuasion
were tried without success; and the impatient lover, by force and
stratagem, obtained the object of his desires. War was the consequence
which he foresaw and solicited; but the Lombards could not long
withstand the furious assault of the Gepidæ, who were sustained by a
Roman army. And, as the offer of marriage was rejected with contempt,
Alboin was compelled to relinquish his prey, and to partake of the
disgrace which he had inflicted on the house of Cunimund.

When a public quarrel is envenomed by private injuries, a blow that is
not mortal or decisive can be productive only of a short truce,
which allows the unsuccessful combatant to sharpen his arms for a
new encounter. The strength of Alboin had been found unequal to the
gratification of his love, ambition, and revenge: he condescended to
implore the formidable aid of the chagan; and the arguments that he
employed are expressive of the art and policy of the Barbarians. In
the attack of the Gepidæ, he had been prompted by the just desire of
extirpating a people whom their alliance with the Roman empire had
rendered the common enemies of the nations, and the personal adversaries
of the chagan. If the forces of the Avars and the Lombards should
unite in this glorious quarrel, the victory was secure, and the reward
inestimable: the Danube, the Hebrus, Italy, and Constantinople, would
be exposed, without a barrier, to their invincible arms. But, if they
hesitated or delayed to prevent the malice of the Romans, the same
spirit which had insulted would pursue the Avars to the extremity of the
earth. These specious reasons were heard by the chagan with coldness and
disdain: he detained the Lombard ambassadors in his camp, protracted the
negotiation, and by turns alleged his want of inclination, or his
want of ability, to undertake this important enterprise. At length he
signified the ultimate price of his alliance, that the Lombards should
immediately present him with a tithe of their cattle; that the spoils
and captives should be equally divided; but that the lands of the Gepidæ
should become the sole patrimony of the Avars. Such hard conditions
were eagerly accepted by the passions of Alboin; and, as the Romans
were dissatisfied with the ingratitude and perfidy of the Gepidæ, Justin
abandoned that incorrigible people to their fate, and remained the
tranquil spectator of this unequal conflict. The despair of Cunimund
was active and dangerous. He was informed that the Avars had entered
his confines; but, on the strong assurance that, after the defeat of
the Lombards, these foreign invaders would easily be repelled, he rushed
forwards to encounter the implacable enemy of his name and family. But
the courage of the Gepidæ could secure them no more than an honorable
death. The bravest of the nation fell in the field of battle; the king
of the Lombards contemplated with delight the head of Cunimund; and his
skull was fashioned into a cup to satiate the hatred of the conqueror,
or, perhaps, to comply with the savage custom of his country. After
this victory, no further obstacle could impede the progress of the
confederates, and they faithfully executed the terms of their agreement.
The fair countries of Walachia, Moldavia, Transylvania, and the other
parts of Hungary beyond the Danube, were occupied, without resistance,
by a new colony of Scythians; and the Dacian empire of the chagans
subsisted with splendor above two hundred and thirty years. The nation
of the Gepidæ was dissolved; but, in the distribution of the captives,
the slaves of the Avars were less fortunate than the companions of the
Lombards, whose generosity adopted a valiant foe, and whose freedom was
incompatible with cool and deliberate tyranny. One moiety of the spoil
introduced into the camp of Alboin more wealth than a Barbarian could
readily compute. The fair Rosamond was persuaded, or compelled, to
acknowledge the rights of her victorious lover; and the daughter of
Cunimund appeared to forgive those crimes which might be imputed to her
own irresistible charms.

The destruction of a mighty kingdom established the fame of Alboin. In
the days of Charlemagne, the Bavarians, the Saxons, and the other tribes
of the Teutonic language, still repeated the songs which described the
heroic virtues, the valor, liberality, and fortune of the king of the
Lombards. But his ambition was yet unsatisfied; and the conqueror of the
Gepidæ turned his eyes from the Danube to the richer banks of the Po,
and the Tyber. Fifteen years had not elapsed, since his subjects, the
confederates of Narses, had visited the pleasant climate of Italy: the
mountains, the rivers, the highways, were familiar to their memory: the
report of their success, perhaps the view of their spoils, had kindled
in the rising generation the flame of emulation and enterprise. Their
hopes were encouraged by the spirit and eloquence of Alboin: and it
is affirmed, that he spoke to their senses, by producing at the royal
feast, the fairest and most exquisite fruits that grew spontaneously in
the garden of the world. No sooner had he erected his standard, than the
native strength of the Lombard was multiplied by the adventurous youth
of Germany and Scythia. The robust peasantry of Noricum and Pannonia
had resumed the manners of Barbarians; and the names of the Gepidæ,
Bulgarians, Sarmatians, and Bavarians, may be distinctly traced in
the provinces of Italy. Of the Saxons, the old allies of the Lombards,
twenty thousand warriors, with their wives and children, accepted the
invitation of Alboin. Their bravery contributed to his success; but the
accession or the absence of their numbers was not sensibly felt in the
magnitude of his host. Every mode of religion was freely practised by
its respective votaries. The king of the Lombards had been educated
in the Arian heresy; but the Catholics, in their public worship, were
allowed to pray for his conversion; while the more stubborn Barbarians
sacrificed a she-goat, or perhaps a captive, to the gods of their
fathers. The Lombards, and their confederates, were united by their
common attachment to a chief, who excelled in all the virtues and vices
of a savage hero; and the vigilance of Alboin provided an ample magazine
of offensive and defensive arms for the use of the expedition. The
portable wealth of the Lombards attended the march: their lands they
cheerfully relinquished to the Avars, on the solemn promise, which was
made and accepted without a smile, that if they failed in the conquest
of Italy, these voluntary exiles should be reinstated in their former
possessions.

They might have failed, if Narses had been the antagonist of the
Lombards; and the veteran warriors, the associates of his Gothic
victory, would have encountered with reluctance an enemy whom they
dreaded and esteemed. But the weakness of the Byzantine court was
subservient to the Barbarian cause; and it was for the ruin of Italy,
that the emperor once listened to the complaints of his subjects. The
virtues of Narses were stained with avarice; and, in his provincial
reign of fifteen years, he accumulated a treasure of gold and silver
which surpassed the modesty of a private fortune. His government was
oppressive or unpopular, and the general discontent was expressed with
freedom by the deputies of Rome. Before the throne of Justinian they
boldly declared, that their Gothic servitude had been more tolerable
than the despotism of a Greek eunuch; and that, unless their tyrant were
instantly removed, they would consult their own happiness in the choice
of a master. The apprehension of a revolt was urged by the voice of
envy and detraction, which had so recently triumphed over the merit
of Belisarius. A new exarch, Longinus, was appointed to supersede the
conqueror of Italy, and the base motives of his recall were revealed in
the insulting mandate of the empress Sophia, "that he should leave to
_men_ the exercise of arms, and return to his proper station among the
maidens of the palace, where a distaff should be again placed in the
hand of the eunuch." "I will spin her such a thread as she shall not
easily unravel!" is said to have been the reply which indignation and
conscious virtue extorted from the hero. Instead of attending, a slave
and a victim, at the gate of the Byzantine palace, he retired to Naples,
from whence (if any credit is due to the belief of the times) Narses
invited the Lombards to chastise the ingratitude of the prince and
people. But the passions of the people are furious and changeable, and
the Romans soon recollected the merits, or dreaded the resentment, of
their victorious general. By the mediation of the pope, who undertook a
special pilgrimage to Naples, their repentance was accepted; and Narses,
assuming a milder aspect and a more dutiful language, consented to fix
his residence in the Capitol. His death, though in the extreme period of
old age, was unseasonable and premature, since _his_ genius alone could
have repaired the last and fatal error of his life. The reality, or
the suspicion, of a conspiracy disarmed and disunited the Italians. The
soldiers resented the disgrace, and bewailed the loss, of their general.
They were ignorant of their new exarch; and Longinus was himself
ignorant of the state of the army and the province. In the preceding
years Italy had been desolated by pestilence and famine, and a
disaffected people ascribed the calamities of nature to the guilt or
folly of their rulers.

Whatever might be the grounds of his security, Alboin neither expected
nor encountered a Roman army in the field. He ascended the Julian Alps,
and looked down with contempt and desire on the fruitful plains to
which his victory communicated the perpetual appellation of Lombardy.
A faithful chieftain, and a select band, were stationed at Forum Julii,
the modern Friuli, to guard the passes of the mountains. The Lombards
respected the strength of Pavia, and listened to the prayers of the
Trevisans: their slow and heavy multitudes proceeded to occupy the
palace and city of Verona; and Milan, now rising from her ashes, was
invested by the powers of Alboin five months after his departure from
Pannonia. Terror preceded his march: he found every where, or he left,
a dreary solitude; and the pusillanimous Italians presumed, without a
trial, that the stranger was invincible. Escaping to lakes, or rocks,
or morasses, the affrighted crowds concealed some fragments of their
wealth, and delayed the moment of their servitude. Paulinus, the
patriarch of Aquileia, removed his treasures, sacred and profane, to the
Isle of Grado, and his successors were adopted by the infant republic
of Venice, which was continually enriched by the public calamities.
Honoratus, who filled the chair of St. Ambrose, had credulously accepted
the faithless offers of a capitulation; and the archbishop, with the
clergy and nobles of Milan, were driven by the perfidy of Alboin to seek
a refuge in the less accessible ramparts of Genoa. Along the maritime
coast, the courage of the inhabitants was supported by the facility
of supply, the hopes of relief, and the power of escape; but from the
Trentine hills to the gates of Ravenna and Rome the inland regions of
Italy became, without a battle or a siege, the lasting patrimony of the
Lombards. The submission of the people invited the Barbarian to assume
the character of a lawful sovereign, and the helpless exarch was
confined to the office of announcing to the emperor Justin the rapid and
irretrievable loss of his provinces and cities. One city, which had been
diligently fortified by the Goths, resisted the arms of a new invader;
and while Italy was subdued by the flying detachments of the Lombards,
the royal camp was fixed above three years before the western gate
of Ticinum, or Pavia. The same courage which obtains the esteem of
a civilized enemy provokes the fury of a savage, and the impatient
besieger had bound himself by a tremendous oath, that age, and sex, and
dignity, should be confounded in a general massacre. The aid of famine
at length enabled him to execute his bloody vow; but, as Alboin entered
the gate, his horse stumbled, fell, and could not be raised from the
ground. One of his attendants was prompted by compassion, or piety, to
interpret this miraculous sign of the wrath of Heaven: the conqueror
paused and relented; he sheathed his sword, and peacefully reposing
himself in the palace of Theodoric, proclaimed to the trembling
multitude that they should live and obey. Delighted with the situation
of a city which was endeared to his pride by the difficulty of the
purchase, the prince of the Lombards disdained the ancient glories of
Milan; and Pavia, during some ages, was respected as the capital of the
kingdom of Italy.

The reign of the founder was splendid and transient; and, before he
could regulate his new conquests, Alboin fell a sacrifice to domestic
treason and female revenge. In a palace near Verona, which had not
been erected for the Barbarians, he feasted the companions of his arms;
intoxication was the reward of valor, and the king himself was
tempted by appetite, or vanity, to exceed the ordinary measure of
his intemperance. After draining many capacious bowls of Rhætian or
Falernian wine, he called for the skull of Cunimund, the noblest and
most precious ornament of his sideboard. The cup of victory was accepted
with horrid applause by the circle of the Lombard chiefs. "Fill it again
with wine," exclaimed the inhuman conqueror, "fill it to the brim: carry
this goblet to the queen, and request in my name that she would rejoice
with her father." In an agony of grief and rage, Rosamond had strength
to utter, "Let the will of my lord be obeyed!" and, touching it with her
lips, pronounced a silent imprecation, that the insult should be
washed away in the blood of Alboin. Some indulgence might be due to the
resentment of a daughter, if she had not already violated the duties of
a wife. Implacable in her enmity, or inconstant in her love, the queen
of Italy had stooped from the throne to the arms of a subject, and
Helmichis, the king's armor-bearer, was the secret minister of her
pleasure and revenge. Against the proposal of the murder, he could
no longer urge the scruples of fidelity or gratitude; but Helmichis
trembled when he revolved the danger as well as the guilt, when he
recollected the matchless strength and intrepidity of a warrior whom he
had so often attended in the field of battle. He pressed and obtained,
that one of the bravest champions of the Lombards should be associated
to the enterprise; but no more than a promise of secrecy could be
drawn from the gallant Peredeus, and the mode of seduction employed by
Rosamond betrays her shameless insensibility both to honor and love. She
supplied the place of one of her female attendants who was beloved by
Peredeus, and contrived some excuse for darkness and silence, till
she could inform her companion that he had enjoyed the queen of the
Lombards, and that his own death, or the death of Alboin, must be the
consequence of such treasonable adultery. In this alternative he chose
rather to be the accomplice than the victim of Rosamond, whose undaunted
spirit was incapable of fear or remorse. She expected and soon found a
favorable moment, when the king, oppressed with wine, had retired from
the table to his afternoon slumbers. His faithless spouse was anxious
for his health and repose: the gates of the palace were shut, the arms
removed, the attendants dismissed, and Rosamond, after lulling him to
rest by her tender caresses, unbolted the chamber door, and urged the
reluctant conspirators to the instant execution of the deed. On the
first alarm, the warrior started from his couch: his sword, which he
attempted to draw, had been fastened to the scabbard by the hand of
Rosamond; and a small stool, his only weapon, could not long protect him
from the spears of the assassins. The daughter of Cunimund smiled in
his fall: his body was buried under the staircase of the palace; and the
grateful posterity of the Lombards revered the tomb and the memory of
their victorious leader.



Chapter XLV: State Of Italy Under The Lombards.--Part II.

The ambitious Rosamond aspired to reign in the name of her lover; the
city and palace of Verona were awed by her power; and a faithful band of
her native Gepidæ was prepared to applaud the revenge, and to second
the wishes, of their sovereign. But the Lombard chiefs, who fled in the
first moments of consternation and disorder, had resumed their courage
and collected their powers; and the nation, instead of submitting to her
reign, demanded, with unanimous cries, that justice should be executed
on the guilty spouse and the murderers of their king. She sought a
refuge among the enemies of her country; and a criminal who deserved the
abhorrence of mankind was protected by the selfish policy of the exarch.
With her daughter, the heiress of the Lombard throne, her two lovers,
her trusty Gepidæ, and the spoils of the palace of Verona, Rosamond
descended the Adige and the Po, and was transported by a Greek vessel to
the safe harbor of Ravenna. Longinus beheld with delight the charms and
the treasures of the widow of Alboin: her situation and her past conduct
might justify the most licentious proposals; and she readily listened to
the passion of a minister, who, even in the decline of the empire, was
respected as the equal of kings. The death of a jealous lover was an
easy and grateful sacrifice; and, as Helmichis issued from the bath, he
received the deadly potion from the hand of his mistress. The taste of
the liquor, its speedy operation, and his experience of the character of
Rosamond, convinced him that he was poisoned: he pointed his dagger to
her breast, compelled her to drain the remainder of the cup, and expired
in a few minutes, with the consolation that she could not survive to
enjoy the fruits of her wickedness. The daughter of Alboin and
Rosamond, with the richest spoils of the Lombards, was embarked for
Constantinople: the surprising strength of Peredeus amused and terrified
the Imperial court: his blindness and revenge exhibited an imperfect
copy of the adventures of Samson. By the free suffrage of the nation, in
the assembly of Pavia, Clepho, one of their noblest chiefs, was elected
as the successor of Alboin. Before the end of eighteen months, the
throne was polluted by a second murder: Clepho was stabbed by the hand
of a domestic; the regal office was suspended above ten years during the
minority of his son Autharis; and Italy was divided and oppressed by a
ducal aristocracy of thirty tyrants.

When the nephew of Justinian ascended the throne, he proclaimed a new
æra of happiness and glory. The annals of the second Justin are marked
with disgrace abroad and misery at home. In the West, the Roman empire
was afflicted by the loss of Italy, the desolation of Africa, and the
conquests of the Persians. Injustice prevailed both in the capital and
the provinces: the rich trembled for their property, the poor for their
safety, the ordinary magistrates were ignorant or venal, the occasional
remedies appear to have been arbitrary and violent, and the complaints
of the people could no longer be silenced by the splendid names of a
legislator and a conqueror. The opinion which imputes to the prince all
the calamities of his times may be countenanced by the historian as
a serious truth or a salutary prejudice. Yet a candid suspicion will
arise, that the sentiments of Justin were pure and benevolent, and that
he might have filled his station without reproach, if the faculties of
his mind had not been impaired by disease, which deprived the emperor of
the use of his feet, and confined him to the palace, a stranger to the
complaints of the people and the vices of the government. The tardy
knowledge of his own impotence determined him to lay down the weight of
the diadem; and, in the choice of a worthy substitute, he showed some
symptoms of a discerning and even magnanimous spirit. The only son of
Justin and Sophia died in his infancy; their daughter Arabia was
the wife of Baduarius, superintendent of the palace, and afterwards
commander of the Italian armies, who vainly aspired to confirm the
rights of marriage by those of adoption. While the empire appeared an
object of desire, Justin was accustomed to behold with jealousy and
hatred his brothers and cousins, the rivals of his hopes; nor could
he depend on the gratitude of those who would accept the purple as a
restitution, rather than a gift. Of these competitors, one had been
removed by exile, and afterwards by death; and the emperor himself had
inflicted such cruel insults on another, that he must either dread his
resentment or despise his patience. This domestic animosity was refined
into a generous resolution of seeking a successor, not in his family,
but in the republic; and the artful Sophia recommended Tiberius, his
faithful captain of the guards, whose virtues and fortune the emperor
might cherish as the fruit of his judicious choice. The ceremony of
his elevation to the rank of Cæsar, or Augustus, was performed in the
portico of the palace, in the presence of the patriarch and the senate.
Justin collected the remaining strength of his mind and body; but the
popular belief that his speech was inspired by the Deity betrays a very
humble opinion both of the man and of the times. "You behold," said the
emperor, "the ensigns of supreme power. You are about to receive them,
not from my hand, but from the hand of God. Honor them, and from them
you will derive honor. Respect the empress your mother: you are now her
son; before, you were her servant. Delight not in blood; abstain from
revenge; avoid those actions by which I have incurred the public
hatred; and consult the experience, rather than the example, of your
predecessor. As a man, I have sinned; as a sinner, even in this life, I
have been severely punished: but these servants, (and we pointed to his
ministers,) who have abused my confidence, and inflamed my passions,
will appear with me before the tribunal of Christ. I have been dazzled
by the splendor of the diadem: be thou wise and modest; remember what
you have been, remember what you are. You see around us your slaves, and
your children: with the authority, assume the tenderness, of a parent.
Love your people like yourself; cultivate the affections, maintain the
discipline, of the army; protect the fortunes of the rich, relieve
the necessities of the poor." The assembly, in silence and in tears,
applauded the counsels, and sympathized with the repentance, of their
prince the patriarch rehearsed the prayers of the church; Tiberius
received the diadem on his knees; and Justin, who in his abdication
appeared most worthy to reign, addressed the new monarch in the
following words: "If you consent, I live; if you command, I die: may the
God of heaven and earth infuse into your heart whatever I have neglected
or forgotten." The four last years of the emperor Justin were passed
in tranquil obscurity: his conscience was no longer tormented by the
remembrance of those duties which he was incapable of discharging;
and his choice was justified by the filial reverence and gratitude of
Tiberius.

Among the virtues of Tiberius, his beauty (he was one of the tallest and
most comely of the Romans) might introduce him to the favor of Sophia;
and the widow of Justin was persuaded, that she should preserve her
station and influence under the reign of a second and more youthful
husband. But, if the ambitious candidate had been tempted to flatter and
dissemble, it was no longer in his power to fulfil her expectations,
or his own promise. The factions of the hippodrome demanded, with some
impatience, the name of their new empress: both the people and Sophia
were astonished by the proclamation of Anastasia, the secret, though
lawful, wife of the emperor Tiberius. Whatever could alleviate the
disappointment of Sophia, Imperial honors, a stately palace, a numerous
household, was liberally bestowed by the piety of her adopted son; on
solemn occasions he attended and consulted the widow of his benefactor;
but her ambition disdained the vain semblance of royalty, and the
respectful appellation of mother served to exasperate, rather than
appease, the rage of an injured woman. While she accepted, and repaid
with a courtly smile, the fair expressions of regard and confidence,
a secret alliance was concluded between the dowager empress and her
ancient enemies; and Justinian, the son of Germanus, was employed as the
instrument of her revenge. The pride of the reigning house supported,
with reluctance, the dominion of a stranger: the youth was deservedly
popular; his name, after the death of Justin, had been mentioned by
a tumultuous faction; and his own submissive offer of his head with a
treasure of sixty thousand pounds, might be interpreted as an evidence
of guilt, or at least of fear. Justinian received a free pardon, and the
command of the eastern army. The Persian monarch fled before his arms;
and the acclamations which accompanied his triumph declared him worthy
of the purple. His artful patroness had chosen the month of the vintage,
while the emperor, in a rural solitude, was permitted to enjoy the
pleasures of a subject. On the first intelligence of her designs, he
returned to Constantinople, and the conspiracy was suppressed by his
presence and firmness. From the pomp and honors which she had abused,
Sophia was reduced to a modest allowance: Tiberius dismissed her train,
intercepted her correspondence, and committed to a faithful guard the
custody of her person. But the services of Justinian were not considered
by that excellent prince as an aggravation of his offences: after a mild
reproof, his treason and ingratitude were forgiven; and it was commonly
believed, that the emperor entertained some thoughts of contracting
a double alliance with the rival of his throne. The voice of an angel
(such a fable was propagated) might reveal to the emperor, that he
should always triumph over his domestic foes; but Tiberius derived a
firmer assurance from the innocence and generosity of his own mind.

With the odious name of Tiberius, he assumed the more popular
appellation of Constantine, and imitated the purer virtues of the
Antonines. After recording the vice or folly of so many Roman princes,
it is pleasing to repose, for a moment, on a character conspicuous
by the qualities of humanity, justice, temperance, and fortitude; to
contemplate a sovereign affable in his palace, pious in the church,
impartial on the seat of judgment, and victorious, at least by his
generals, in the Persian war. The most glorious trophy of his victory
consisted in a multitude of captives, whom Tiberius entertained,
redeemed, and dismissed to their native homes with the charitable spirit
of a Christian hero. The merit or misfortunes of his own subjects had a
dearer claim to his beneficence, and he measured his bounty not so
much by their expectations as by his own dignity. This maxim, however
dangerous in a trustee of the public wealth, was balanced by a principle
of humanity and justice, which taught him to abhor, as of the basest
alloy, the gold that was extracted from the tears of the people. For
their relief, as often as they had suffered by natural or hostile
calamities, he was impatient to remit the arrears of the past, or the
demands of future taxes: he sternly rejected the servile offerings of
his ministers, which were compensated by tenfold oppression; and the
wise and equitable laws of Tiberius excited the praise and regret
of succeeding times. Constantinople believed that the emperor had
discovered a treasure: but his genuine treasure consisted in the
practice of liberal economy, and the contempt of all vain and
superfluous expense. The Romans of the East would have been happy, if
the best gift of Heaven, a patriot king, had been confirmed as a proper
and permanent blessing. But in less than four years after the death of
Justin, his worthy successor sunk into a mortal disease, which left him
only sufficient time to restore the diadem, according to the tenure
by which he held it, to the most deserving of his fellow-citizens.
He selected Maurice from the crowd, a judgment more precious than the
purple itself: the patriarch and senate were summoned to the bed of
the dying prince: he bestowed his daughter and the empire; and his last
advice was solemnly delivered by the voice of the quæstor. Tiberius
expressed his hope that the virtues of his son and successor would erect
the noblest mausoleum to his memory. His memory was embalmed by the
public affliction; but the most sincere grief evaporates in the tumult
of a new reign, and the eyes and acclamations of mankind were speedily
directed to the rising sun.

The emperor Maurice derived his origin from ancient Rome; but his
immediate parents were settled at Arabissus in Cappadocia, and their
singular felicity preserved them alive to behold and partake the fortune
of their august son. The youth of Maurice was spent in the profession of
arms: Tiberius promoted him to the command of a new and favorite legion
of twelve thousand confederates; his valor and conduct were signalized
in the Persian war; and he returned to Constantinople to accept, as his
just reward, the inheritance of the empire. Maurice ascended the throne
at the mature age of forty-three years; and he reigned above twenty
years over the East and over himself; expelling from his mind the
wild democracy of passions, and establishing (according to the quaint
expression of Evagrius) a perfect aristocracy of reason and virtue. Some
suspicion will degrade the testimony of a subject, though he protests
that his secret praise should never reach the ear of his sovereign, and
some failings seem to place the character of Maurice below the purer
merit of his predecessor. His cold and reserved demeanor might be
imputed to arrogance; his justice was not always exempt from cruelty,
nor his clemency from weakness; and his rigid economy too often exposed
him to the reproach of avarice. But the rational wishes of an absolute
monarch must tend to the happiness of his people. Maurice was endowed
with sense and courage to promote that happiness, and his administration
was directed by the principles and example of Tiberius. The
pusillanimity of the Greeks had introduced so complete a separation
between the offices of king and of general, that a private soldier, who
had deserved and obtained the purple, seldom or never appeared at
the head of his armies. Yet the emperor Maurice enjoyed the glory of
restoring the Persian monarch to his throne; his lieutenants waged a
doubtful war against the Avars of the Danube; and he cast an eye of
pity, of ineffectual pity, on the abject and distressful state of his
Italian provinces.

From Italy the emperors were incessantly tormented by tales of misery
and demands of succor, which extorted the humiliating confession of
their own weakness. The expiring dignity of Rome was only marked by the
freedom and energy of her complaints: "If you are incapable," she said,
"of delivering us from the sword of the Lombards, save us at least from
the calamity of famine." Tiberius forgave the reproach, and relieved the
distress: a supply of corn was transported from Egypt to the Tyber; and
the Roman people, invoking the name, not of Camillus, but of St. Peter
repulsed the Barbarians from their walls. But the relief was accidental,
the danger was perpetual and pressing; and the clergy and senate,
collecting the remains of their ancient opulence, a sum of three
thousand pounds of gold, despatched the patrician Pamphronius to lay
their gifts and their complaints at the foot of the Byzantine throne.
The attention of the court, and the forces of the East, were diverted by
the Persian war: but the justice of Tiberius applied the subsidy to
the defence of the city; and he dismissed the patrician with his best
advice, either to bribe the Lombard chiefs, or to purchase the aid of
the kings of France. Notwithstanding this weak invention, Italy was
still afflicted, Rome was again besieged, and the suburb of Classe, only
three miles from Ravenna, was pillaged and occupied by the troops of a
simple duke of Spoleto. Maurice gave audience to a second deputation
of priests and senators: the duties and the menaces of religion were
forcibly urged in the letters of the Roman pontiff; and his nuncio,
the deacon Gregory, was alike qualified to solicit the powers either of
heaven or of the earth. The emperor adopted, with stronger effect, the
measures of his predecessor: some formidable chiefs were persuaded
to embrace the friendship of the Romans; and one of them, a mild and
faithful Barbarian, lived and died in the service of the exarchs: the
passes of the Alps were delivered to the Franks; and the pope encouraged
them to violate, without scruple, their oaths and engagements to the
misbelievers. Childebert, the great-grandson of Clovis, was persuaded
to invade Italy by the payment of fifty thousand pieces; but, as he had
viewed with delight some Byzantine coin of the weight of one pound of
gold, the king of Austrasia might stipulate, that the gift should be
rendered more worthy of his acceptance, by a proper mixture of these
respectable medals. The dukes of the Lombards had provoked by frequent
inroads their powerful neighbors of Gaul. As soon as they were
apprehensive of a just retaliation, they renounced their feeble and
disorderly independence: the advantages of real government, union,
secrecy, and vigor, were unanimously confessed; and Autharis, the son of
Clepho, had already attained the strength and reputation of a warrior.
Under the standard of their new king, the conquerors of Italy withstood
three successive invasions, one of which was led by Childebert himself,
the last of the Merovingian race who descended from the Alps. The first
expedition was defeated by the jealous animosity of the Franks and
Alemanni. In the second they were vanquished in a bloody battle, with
more loss and dishonor than they had sustained since the foundation of
their monarchy. Impatient for revenge, they returned a third time with
accumulated force, and Autharis yielded to the fury of the torrent.
The troops and treasures of the Lombards were distributed in the walled
towns between the Alps and the Apennine. A nation, less sensible of
danger than of fatigue and delay, soon murmured against the folly of
their twenty commanders; and the hot vapors of an Italian sun infected
with disease those tramontane bodies which had already suffered the
vicissitudes of intemperance and famine. The powers that were inadequate
to the conquest, were more than sufficient for the desolation, of the
country; nor could the trembling natives distinguish between their
enemies and their deliverers. If the junction of the Merovingian and
Imperial forces had been effected in the neighborhood of Milan, perhaps
they might have subverted the throne of the Lombards; but the Franks
expected six days the signal of a flaming village, and the arms of the
Greeks were idly employed in the reduction of Modena and Parma, which
were torn from them after the retreat of their transalpine allies. The
victorious Autharis asserted his claim to the dominion of Italy. At
the foot of the Rhætian Alps, he subdued the resistance, and rifled the
hidden treasures, of a sequestered island in the Lake of Comum. At the
extreme point of the Calabria, he touched with his spear a column on
the sea-shore of Rhegium, proclaiming that ancient landmark to stand the
immovable boundary of his kingdom.

During a period of two hundred years, Italy was unequally divided
between the kingdom of the Lombards and the exarchate of Ravenna.
The offices and professions, which the jealousy of Constantine had
separated, were united by the indulgence of Justinian; and eighteen
successive exarchs were invested, in the decline of the empire, with the
full remains of civil, of military, and even of ecclesiastical, power.
Their immediate jurisdiction, which was afterwards consecrated as the
patrimony of St. Peter, extended over the modern Romagna, the marshes
or valleys of Ferrara and Commachio, five maritime cities from Rimini to
Ancona, and a second inland Pentapolis, between the Adriatic coast and
the hills of the Apennine. Three subordinate provinces, of Rome, of
Venice, and of Naples, which were divided by hostile lands from the
palace of Ravenna, acknowledged, both in peace and war, the supremacy
of the exarch. The duchy of Rome appears to have included the Tuscan,
Sabine, and Latin conquests, of the first four hundred years of the
city, and the limits may be distinctly traced along the coast, from
Civita Vecchia to Terracina, and with the course of the Tyber from
Ameria and Narni to the port of Ostia. The numerous islands from
Grado to Chiozza composed the infant dominion of Venice: but the more
accessible towns on the Continent were overthrown by the Lombards, who
beheld with impotent fury a new capital rising from the waves. The power
of the dukes of Naples was circumscribed by the bay and the adjacent
isles, by the hostile territory of Capua, and by the Roman colony of
Amalphi, whose industrious citizens, by the invention of the mariner's
compass, have unveiled the face of the globe. The three islands of
Sardinia, Corsica, and Sicily, still adhered to the empire; and the
acquisition of the farther Calabria removed the landmark of Autharis
from the shore of Rhegium to the Isthmus of Consentia. In Sardinia,
the savage mountaineers preserved the liberty and religion of their
ancestors; and the husbandmen of Sicily were chained to their rich and
cultivated soil. Rome was oppressed by the iron sceptre of the exarchs,
and a Greek, perhaps a eunuch, insulted with impunity the ruins of the
Capitol. But Naples soon acquired the privilege of electing her own
dukes: the independence of Amalphi was the fruit of commerce; and the
voluntary attachment of Venice was finally ennobled by an equal alliance
with the Eastern empire. On the map of Italy, the measure of the
exarchate occupies a very inadequate space, but it included an ample
proportion of wealth, industry, and population. The most faithful and
valuable subjects escaped from the Barbarian yoke; and the banners of
Pavia and Verona, of Milan and Padua, were displayed in their respective
quarters by the new inhabitants of Ravenna. The remainder of Italy was
possessed by the Lombards; and from Pavia, the royal seat, their
kingdom was extended to the east, the north, and the west, as far as the
confines of the Avars, the Bavarians, and the Franks of Austrasia and
Burgundy. In the language of modern geography, it is now represented by
the Terra Firma of the Venetian republic, Tyrol, the Milanese, Piedmont,
the coast of Genoa, Mantua, Parma, and Modena, the grand duchy of
Tuscany, and a large portion of the ecclesiastical state from Perugia
to the Adriatic. The dukes, and at length the princes, of Beneventum,
survived the monarchy, and propagated the name of the Lombards. From
Capua to Tarentum, they reigned near five hundred years over the
greatest part of the present kingdom of Naples.

In comparing the proportion of the victorious and the vanquished
people, the change of language will afford the most probably inference.
According to this standard, it will appear, that the Lombards of Italy,
and the Visigoths of Spain, were less numerous than the Franks or
Burgundians; and the conquerors of Gaul must yield, in their turn, to
the multitude of Saxons and Angles who almost eradicated the idioms of
Britain. The modern Italian has been insensibly formed by the mixture
of nations: the awkwardness of the Barbarians in the nice management
of declensions and conjugations reduced them to the use of articles
and auxiliary verbs; and many new ideas have been expressed by Teutonic
appellations. Yet the principal stock of technical and familiar words is
found to be of Latin derivation; and, if we were sufficiently conversant
with the obsolete, the rustic, and the municipal dialects of ancient
Italy, we should trace the origin of many terms which might, perhaps, be
rejected by the classic purity of Rome. A numerous army constitutes but
a small nation, and the powers of the Lombards were soon diminished
by the retreat of twenty thousand Saxons, who scorned a dependent
situation, and returned, after many bold and perilous adventures, to
their native country. The camp of Alboin was of formidable extent, but
the extent of a camp would be easily circumscribed within the limits of
a city; and its martial in habitants must be thinly scattered over
the face of a large country. When Alboin descended from the Alps, he
invested his nephew, the first duke of Friuli, with the command of the
province and the people: but the prudent Gisulf would have declined
the dangerous office, unless he had been permitted to choose, among
the nobles of the Lombards, a sufficient number of families to form a
perpetual colony of soldiers and subjects. In the progress of conquest,
the same option could not be granted to the dukes of Brescia or Bergamo,
of Pavia or Turin, of Spoleto or Beneventum; but each of these, and each
of their colleagues, settled in his appointed district with a band of
followers who resorted to his standard in war and his tribunal in
peace. Their attachment was free and honorable: resigning the gifts
and benefits which they had accepted, they might emigrate with their
families into the jurisdiction of another duke; but their absence from
the kingdom was punished with death, as a crime of military desertion.
The posterity of the first conquerors struck a deeper root into the
soil, which, by every motive of interest and honor, they were bound to
defend. A Lombard was born the soldier of his king and his duke; and the
civil assemblies of the nation displayed the banners, and assumed the
appellation, of a regular army. Of this army, the pay and the rewards
were drawn from the conquered provinces; and the distribution, which was
not effected till after the death of Alboin, is disgraced by the foul
marks of injustice and rapine. Many of the most wealthy Italians were
slain or banished; the remainder were divided among the strangers, and
a tributary obligation was imposed (under the name of hospitality) of
paying to the Lombards a third part of the fruits of the earth. Within
less than seventy years, this artificial system was abolished by a more
simple and solid tenure. Either the Roman landlord was expelled by
his strong and insolent guest, or the annual payment, a third of the
produce, was exchanged by a more equitable transaction for an adequate
proportion of landed property. Under these foreign masters, the business
of agriculture, in the cultivation of corn, wines, and olives, was
exercised with degenerate skill and industry by the labor of the slaves
and natives. But the occupations of a pastoral life were more pleasing
to the idleness of the Barbarian. In the rich meadows of Venetia, they
restored and improved the breed of horses, for which that province
had once been illustrious; and the Italians beheld with astonishment a
foreign race of oxen or buffaloes. The depopulation of Lombardy, and the
increase of forests, afforded an ample range for the pleasures of
the chase. That marvellous art which teaches the birds of the air to
acknowledge the voice, and execute the commands, of their master, had
been unknown to the ingenuity of the Greeks and Romans. Scandinavia and
Scythia produce the boldest and most tractable falcons: they were tamed
and educated by the roving inhabitants, always on horseback and in the
field. This favorite amusement of our ancestors was introduced by the
Barbarians into the Roman provinces; and the laws of Italy esteemed the
sword and the hawk as of equal dignity and importance in the hands of a
noble Lombard.



Chapter XLV: State Of Italy Under The Lombards.--Part III.

So rapid was the influence of climate and example, that the Lombards of
the fourth generation surveyed with curiosity and affright the portraits
of their savage forefathers. Their heads were shaven behind, but
the shaggy locks hung over their eyes and mouth, and a long beard
represented the name and character of the nation. Their dress consisted
of loose linen garments, after the fashion of the Anglo-Saxons, which
were decorated, in their opinion, with broad stripes or variegated
colors. The legs and feet were clothed in long hose, and open sandals;
and even in the security of peace a trusty sword was constantly girt to
their side. Yet this strange apparel, and horrid aspect, often concealed
a gentle and generous disposition; and as soon as the rage of battle
had subsided, the captives and subjects were sometimes surprised by the
humanity of the victor. The vices of the Lombards were the effect of
passion, of ignorance, of intoxication; their virtues are the more
laudable, as they were not affected by the hypocrisy of social manners,
nor imposed by the rigid constraint of laws and education. I should not
be apprehensive of deviating from my subject, if it were in my power
to delineate the private life of the conquerors of Italy; and I shall
relate with pleasure the adventurous gallantry of Autharis, which
breathes the true spirit of chivalry and romance. After the loss of
his promised bride, a Merovingian princess, he sought in marriage the
daughter of the king of Bavaria; and Garribald accepted the alliance of
the Italian monarch. Impatient of the slow progress of negotiation, the
ardent lover escaped from his palace, and visited the court of Bavaria
in the train of his own embassy. At the public audience, the unknown
stranger advanced to the throne, and informed Garribald that the
ambassador was indeed the minister of state, but that he alone was the
friend of Autharis, who had trusted him with the delicate commission of
making a faithful report of the charms of his spouse. Theudelinda was
summoned to undergo this important examination; and, after a pause
of silent rapture, he hailed her as the queen of Italy, and humbly
requested that, according to the custom of the nation, she would present
a cup of wine to the first of her new subjects. By the command of
her father she obeyed: Autharis received the cup in his turn, and, in
restoring it to the princess, he secretly touched her hand, and drew his
own finger over his face and lips. In the evening, Theudelinda imparted
to her nurse the indiscreet familiarity of the stranger, and was
comforted by the assurance, that such boldness could proceed only from
the king her husband, who, by his beauty and courage, appeared worthy of
her love. The ambassadors were dismissed: no sooner did they reach the
confines of Italy than Autharis, raising himself on his horse, darted
his battle-axe against a tree with incomparable strength and dexterity.
"Such," said he to the astonished Bavarians, "such are the strokes of
the king of the Lombards." On the approach of a French army, Garribald
and his daughter took refuge in the dominions of their ally; and the
marriage was consummated in the palace of Verona. At the end of one
year, it was dissolved by the death of Autharis: but the virtues of
Theudelinda had endeared her to the nation, and she was permitted to
bestow, with her hand, the sceptre of the Italian kingdom.

From this fact, as well as from similar events, it is certain that
the Lombards possessed freedom to elect their sovereign, and sense to
decline the frequent use of that dangerous privilege. The public revenue
arose from the produce of land and the profits of justice. When the
independent dukes agreed that Autharis should ascend the throne of
his father, they endowed the regal office with a fair moiety of their
respective domains. The proudest nobles aspired to the honors of
servitude near the person of their prince: he rewarded the fidelity
of his vassals by the precarious gift of pensions and _benefices_; and
atoned for the injuries of war by the rich foundation of monasteries and
churches. In peace a judge, a leader in war, he never usurped the
powers of a sole and absolute legislator. The king of Italy convened the
national assemblies in the palace, or more probably in the fields, of
Pavia: his great council was composed of the persons most eminent by
their birth and dignities; but the validity, as well as the execution,
of their decrees depended on the approbation of the _faithful_ people,
the _fortunate_ army of the Lombards. About fourscore years after
the conquest of Italy, their traditional customs were transcribed in
Teutonic Latin, and ratified by the consent of the prince and people:
some new regulations were introduced, more suitable to their present
condition; the example of Rotharis was imitated by the wisest of his
successors; and the laws of the Lombards have been esteemed the
least imperfect of the Barbaric codes. Secure by their courage in the
possession of liberty, these rude and hasty legislators were incapable
of balancing the powers of the constitution, or of discussing the nice
theory of political government. Such crimes as threatened the life
of the sovereign, or the safety of the state, were adjudged worthy of
death; but their attention was principally confined to the defence
of the person and property of the subject. According to the strange
jurisprudence of the times, the guilt of blood might be redeemed by a
fine; yet the high price of nine hundred pieces of gold declares a
just sense of the value of a simple citizen. Less atrocious injuries,
a wound, a fracture, a blow, an opprobrious word, were measured with
scrupulous and almost ridiculous diligence; and the prudence of the
legislator encouraged the ignoble practice of bartering honor and
revenge for a pecuniary compensation. The ignorance of the Lombards in
the state of Paganism or Christianity gave implicit credit to the malice
and mischief of witchcraft, but the judges of the seventeenth century
might have been instructed and confounded by the wisdom of Rotharis, who
derides the absurd superstition, and protects the wretched victims of
popular or judicial cruelty. The same spirit of a legislator, superior
to his age and country, may be ascribed to Luitprand, who condemns,
while he tolerates, the impious and inveterate abuse of duels,
observing, from his own experience, that the juster cause had often been
oppressed by successful violence. Whatever merit may be discovered in
the laws of the Lombards, they are the genuine fruit of the reason of
the Barbarians, who never admitted the bishops of Italy to a seat in
their legislative councils. But the succession of their kings is marked
with virtue and ability; the troubled series of their annals is adorned
with fair intervals of peace, order, and domestic happiness; and the
Italians enjoyed a milder and more equitable government, than any of
the other kingdoms which had been founded on the ruins of the Western
empire.

Amidst the arms of the Lombards, and under the despotism of the Greeks,
we again inquire into the fate of Rome, which had reached, about the
close of the sixth century, the lowest period of her depression. By the
removal of the seat of empire, and the successive loss of the provinces,
the sources of public and private opulence were exhausted: the lofty
tree, under whose shade the nations of the earth had reposed, was
deprived of its leaves and branches, and the sapless trunk was left to
wither on the ground. The ministers of command, and the messengers of
victory, no longer met on the Appian or Flaminian way; and the hostile
approach of the Lombards was often felt, and continually feared. The
inhabitants of a potent and peaceful capital, who visit without an
anxious thought the garden of the adjacent country, will faintly picture
in their fancy the distress of the Romans: they shut or opened their
gates with a trembling hand, beheld from the walls the flames of their
houses, and heard the lamentations of their brethren, who were coupled
together like dogs, and dragged away into distant slavery beyond the sea
and the mountains. Such incessant alarms must annihilate the pleasures
and interrupt the labors of a rural life; and the Campagna of Rome was
speedily reduced to the state of a dreary wilderness, in which the land
is barren, the waters are impure, and the air is infectious. Curiosity
and ambition no longer attracted the nations to the capital of the
world: but, if chance or necessity directed the steps of a wandering
stranger, he contemplated with horror the vacancy and solitude of the
city, and might be tempted to ask, Where is the senate, and where are
the people? In a season of excessive rains, the Tyber swelled above its
banks, and rushed with irresistible violence into the valleys of the
seven hills. A pestilential disease arose from the stagnation of the
deluge, and so rapid was the contagion, that fourscore persons expired
in an hour in the midst of a solemn procession, which implored the
mercy of Heaven. A society in which marriage is encouraged and industry
prevails soon repairs the accidental losses of pestilence and war:
but, as the far greater part of the Romans was condemned to hopeless
indigence and celibacy, the depopulation was constant and visible, and
the gloomy enthusiasts might expect the approaching failure of the
human race. Yet the number of citizens still exceeded the measure of
subsistence: their precarious food was supplied from the harvests of
Sicily or Egypt; and the frequent repetition of famine betrays the
inattention of the emperor to a distant province. The edifices of Rome
were exposed to the same ruin and decay: the mouldering fabrics were
easily overthrown by inundations, tempests, and earthquakes: and the
monks, who had occupied the most advantageous stations, exulted in their
base triumph over the ruins of antiquity. It is commonly believed, that
Pope Gregory the First attacked the temples and mutilated the statues
of the city; that, by the command of the Barbarian, the Palatine library
was reduced to ashes, and that the history of Livy was the peculiar
mark of his absurd and mischievous fanaticism. The writings of Gregory
himself reveal his implacable aversion to the monuments of classic
genius; and he points his severest censure against the profane learning
of a bishop, who taught the art of grammar, studied the Latin poets,
and pronounced with the same voice the praises of Jupiter and those of
Christ. But the evidence of his destructive rage is doubtful and recent:
the Temple of Peace, or the theatre of Marcellus, have been demolished
by the slow operation of ages, and a formal proscription would have
multiplied the copies of Virgil and Livy in the countries which were not
subject to the ecclesiastical dictator.

Like Thebes, or Babylon, or Carthage, the names of Rome might have been
erased from the earth, if the city had not been animated by a vital
principle, which again restored her to honor and dominion. A vague
tradition was embraced, that two Jewish teachers, a tent-maker and a
fisherman, had formerly been executed in the circus of Nero, and at
the end of five hundred years, their genuine or fictitious relics were
adored as the Palladium of Christian Rome. The pilgrims of the East and
West resorted to the holy threshold; but the shrines of the apostles
were guarded by miracles and invisible terrors; and it was not without
fear that the pious Catholic approached the object of his worship.
It was fatal to touch, it was dangerous to behold, the bodies of the
saints; and those who, from the purest motives, presumed to disturb the
repose of the sanctuary, were affrighted by visions, or punished with
sudden death. The unreasonable request of an empress, who wished to
deprive the Romans of their sacred treasure, the head of St. Paul,
was rejected with the deepest abhorrence; and the pope asserted, most
probably with truth, that a linen which had been sanctified in the
neighborhood of his body, or the filings of his chain, which it was
sometimes easy and sometimes impossible to obtain, possessed an equal
degree of miraculous virtue. But the power as well as virtue of the
apostles resided with living energy in the breast of their successors;
and the chair of St. Peter was filled under the reign of Maurice by the
first and greatest of the name of Gregory. His grandfather Felix had
himself been pope, and as the bishops were already bound by the laws of
celibacy, his consecration must have been preceded by the death of his
wife. The parents of Gregory, Sylvia, and Gordian, were the noblest
of the senate, and the most pious of the church of Rome; his female
relations were numbered among the saints and virgins; and his own
figure, with those of his father and mother, were represented near three
hundred years in a family portrait, which he offered to the monastery of
St. Andrew. The design and coloring of this picture afford an honorable
testimony that the art of painting was cultivated by the Italians of the
sixth century; but the most abject ideas must be entertained of their
taste and learning, since the epistles of Gregory, his sermons, and his
dialogues, are the work of a man who was second in erudition to none of
his contemporaries: his birth and abilities had raised him to the office
of præfect of the city, and he enjoyed the merit of renouncing the pomps
and vanities of this world. His ample patrimony was dedicated to the
foundation of seven monasteries, one in Rome, and six in Sicily; and
it was the wish of Gregory that he might be unknown in this life, and
glorious only in the next. Yet his devotion (and it might be sincere)
pursued the path which would have been chosen by a crafty and ambitious
statesman. The talents of Gregory, and the splendor which accompanied
his retreat, rendered him dear and useful to the church; and implicit
obedience has always been inculcated as the first duty of a monk. As
soon as he had received the character of deacon, Gregory was sent to
reside at the Byzantine court, the nuncio or minister of the apostolic
see; and he boldly assumed, in the name of St. Peter, a tone of
independent dignity, which would have been criminal and dangerous in the
most illustrious layman of the empire. He returned to Rome with a just
increase of reputation, and, after a short exercise of the monastic
virtues, he was dragged from the cloister to the papal throne, by the
unanimous voice of the clergy, the senate, and the people. He alone
resisted, or seemed to resist, his own elevation; and his humble
petition, that Maurice would be pleased to reject the choice of the
Romans, could only serve to exalt his character in the eyes of the
emperor and the public. When the fatal mandate was proclaimed, Gregory
solicited the aid of some friendly merchants to convey him in a basket
beyond the gates of Rome, and modestly concealed himself some days among
the woods and mountains, till his retreat was discovered, as it is said,
by a celestial light.

The pontificate of Gregory the _Great_, which lasted thirteen years, six
months, and ten days, is one of the most edifying periods of the history
of the church. His virtues, and even his faults, a singular mixture
of simplicity and cunning, of pride and humility, of sense and
superstition, were happily suited to his station and to the temper of
the times. In his rival, the patriarch of Constantinople, he condemned
the anti-Christian title of universal bishop, which the successor of
St. Peter was too haughty to concede, and too feeble to assume; and
the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Gregory was confined to the triple
character of Bishop of Rome, Primate of Italy, and Apostle of the West.
He frequently ascended the pulpit, and kindled, by his rude, though
pathetic, eloquence, the congenial passions of his audience: the
language of the Jewish prophets was interpreted and applied; and the
minds of a people, depressed by their present calamities, were directed
to the hopes and fears of the invisible world. His precepts and
example defined the model of the Roman liturgy; the distribution of the
parishes, the calendar of the festivals, the order of processions, the
service of the priests and deacons, the variety and change of sacerdotal
garments. Till the last days of his life, he officiated in the canon
of the mass, which continued above three hours: the Gregorian chant has
preserved the vocal and instrumental music of the theatre, and the rough
voices of the Barbarians attempted to imitate the melody of the Roman
school. Experience had shown him the efficacy of these solemn and
pompous rites, to soothe the distress, to confirm the faith, to mitigate
the fierceness, and to dispel the dark enthusiasm of the vulgar, and he
readily forgave their tendency to promote the reign of priesthood and
superstition. The bishops of Italy and the adjacent islands acknowledged
the Roman pontiff as their special metropolitan. Even the existence, the
union, or the translation of episcopal seats was decided by his absolute
discretion: and his successful inroads into the provinces of Greece,
of Spain, and of Gaul, might countenance the more lofty pretensions
of succeeding popes. He interposed to prevent the abuses of popular
elections; his jealous care maintained the purity of faith and
discipline; and the apostolic shepherd assiduously watched over the
faith and discipline of the subordinate pastors. Under his reign, the
Arians of Italy and Spain were reconciled to the Catholic church, and
the conquest of Britain reflects less glory on the name of Cæsar, than
on that of Gregory the First. Instead of six legions, forty monks were
embarked for that distant island, and the pontiff lamented the austere
duties which forbade him to partake the perils of their spiritual
warfare. In less than two years, he could announce to the archbishop of
Alexandria, that they had baptized the king of Kent with ten thousand
of his Anglo-Saxons, and that the Roman missionaries, like those of
the primitive church, were armed only with spiritual and supernatural
powers. The credulity or the prudence of Gregory was always disposed to
confirm the truths of religion by the evidence of ghosts, miracles, and
resurrections; and posterity has paid to _his_ memory the same tribute
which he freely granted to the virtue of his own or the preceding
generation. The celestial honors have been liberally bestowed by the
authority of the popes, but Gregory is the last of their own order whom
they have presumed to inscribe in the calendar of saints.

Their temporal power insensibly arose from the calamities of the times:
and the Roman bishops, who have deluged Europe and Asia with blood, were
compelled to reign as the ministers of charity and peace. I. The church
of Rome, as it has been formerly observed, was endowed with ample
possessions in Italy, Sicily, and the more distant provinces; and her
agents, who were commonly sub-deacons, had acquired a civil, and even
criminal, jurisdiction over their tenants and husbandmen. The successor
of St. Peter administered his patrimony with the temper of a vigilant
and moderate landlord; and the epistles of Gregory are filled with
salutary instructions to abstain from doubtful or vexatious lawsuits;
to preserve the integrity of weights and measures; to grant every
reasonable delay; and to reduce the capitation of the slaves of
the glebe, who purchased the right of marriage by the payment of an
arbitrary fine. The rent or the produce of these estates was transported
to the mouth of the Tyber, at the risk and expense of the pope: in the
use of wealth he acted like a faithful steward of the church and the
poor, and liberally applied to their wants the inexhaustible resources
of abstinence and order. The voluminous account of his receipts and
disbursements was kept above three hundred years in the Lateran, as
the model of Christian economy. On the four great festivals, he divided
their quarterly allowance to the clergy, to his domestics, to the
monasteries, the churches, the places of burial, the almshouses, and
the hospitals of Rome, and the rest of the diocese. On the first day of
every month, he distributed to the poor, according to the season, their
stated portion of corn, wine, cheese, vegetables, oil, fish, fresh
provisions, clothes, and money; and his treasurers were continually
summoned to satisfy, in his name, the extraordinary demands of indigence
and merit. The instant distress of the sick and helpless, of strangers
and pilgrims, was relieved by the bounty of each day, and of every hour;
nor would the pontiff indulge himself in a frugal repast, till he had
sent the dishes from his own table to some objects deserving of his
compassion. The misery of the times had reduced the nobles and matrons
of Rome to accept, without a blush, the benevolence of the church: three
thousand virgins received their food and raiment from the hand of their
benefactor; and many bishops of Italy escaped from the Barbarians to the
hospitable threshold of the Vatican. Gregory might justly be styled
the Father of his Country; and such was the extreme sensibility of his
conscience, that, for the death of a beggar who had perished in the
streets, he interdicted himself during several days from the exercise
of sacerdotal functions. II. The misfortunes of Rome involved the
apostolical pastor in the business of peace and war; and it might be
doubtful to himself, whether piety or ambition prompted him to supply
the place of his absent sovereign. Gregory awakened the emperor from
a long slumber; exposed the guilt or incapacity of the exarch and his
inferior ministers; complained that the veterans were withdrawn from
Rome for the defence of Spoleto; encouraged the Italians to guard their
cities and altars; and condescended, in the crisis of danger, to name
the tribunes, and to direct the operations, of the provincial troops.
But the martial spirit of the pope was checked by the scruples of
humanity and religion: the imposition of tribute, though it was employed
in the Italian war, he freely condemned as odious and oppressive; whilst
he protected, against the Imperial edicts, the pious cowardice of the
soldiers who deserted a military for a monastic life If we may credit
his own declarations, it would have been easy for Gregory to exterminate
the Lombards by their domestic factions, without leaving a king, a duke,
or a count, to save that unfortunate nation from the vengeance of their
foes As a Christian bishop, he preferred the salutary offices of peace;
his mediation appeased the tumult of arms: but he was too conscious of
the arts of the Greeks, and the passions of the Lombards, to engage his
sacred promise for the observance of the truce. Disappointed in the hope
of a general and lasting treaty, he presumed to save his country without
the consent of the emperor or the exarch. The sword of the enemy was
suspended over Rome; it was averted by the mild eloquence and seasonable
gifts of the pontiff, who commanded the respect of heretics and
Barbarians. The merits of Gregory were treated by the Byzantine court
with reproach and insult; but in the attachment of a grateful people, he
found the purest reward of a citizen, and the best right of a sovereign.



Chapter XLVI: Troubles In Persia.--Part I.

     Revolutions On Persia After The Death Of Chosroes On
     Nushirvan.--His Son Hormouz, A Tyrant, Is Deposed.--
     Usurpation Of Baharam.--Flight And Restoration Of Chosroes
     II.--His Gratitude To The Romans.--The Chagan Of The Avars.--
     Revolt Of The Army Against Maurice.--His Death.--Tyranny Of
     Phocas.--Elevation Of Heraclius.--The Persian War.--Chosroes
     Subdues Syria, Egypt, And Asia Minor.--Siege Of
     Constantinople By The Persians And Avars.--Persian
     Expeditions.--Victories And Triumph Of Heraclius.

The conflict of Rome and Persia was prolonged from the death of Crassus
to the reign of Heraclius. An experience of seven hundred years might
convince the rival nations of the impossibility of maintaining their
conquests beyond the fatal limits of the Tigris and Euphrates. Yet
the emulation of Trajan and Julian was awakened by the trophies of
Alexander, and the sovereigns of Persia indulged the ambitious hope of
restoring the empire of Cyrus. Such extraordinary efforts of power and
courage will always command the attention of posterity; but the events
by which the fate of nations is not materially changed, leave a faint
impression on the page of history, and the patience of the reader would
be exhausted by the repetition of the same hostilities, undertaken
without cause, prosecuted without glory, and terminated without effect.
The arts of negotiation, unknown to the simple greatness of the senate
and the Cæsars, were assiduously cultivated by the Byzantine princes;
and the memorials of their perpetual embassies repeat, with the same
uniform prolixity, the language of falsehood and declamation, the
insolence of the Barbarians, and the servile temper of the tributary
Greeks. Lamenting the barren superfluity of materials, I have studied to
compress the narrative of these uninteresting transactions: but the just
Nushirvan is still applauded as the model of Oriental kings, and the
ambition of his grandson Chosroes prepared the revolution of the East,
which was speedily accomplished by the arms and the religion of the
successors of Mahomet.

In the useless altercations, that precede and justify the quarrels of
princes, the Greeks and the Barbarians accused each other of violating
the peace which had been concluded between the two empires about four
years before the death of Justinian. The sovereign of Persia and India
aspired to reduce under his obedience the province of Yemen or Arabia
Felix; the distant land of myrrh and frankincense, which had escaped,
rather than opposed, the conquerors of the East. After the defeat of
Abrahah under the walls of Mecca, the discord of his sons and brothers
gave an easy entrance to the Persians: they chased the strangers
of Abyssinia beyond the Red Sea; and a native prince of the ancient
Homerites was restored to the throne as the vassal or viceroy of the
great Nushirvan. But the nephew of Justinian declared his resolution to
avenge the injuries of his Christian ally the prince of Abyssinia, as
they suggested a decent pretence to discontinue the annual _tribute_,
which was poorly disguised by the name of pension. The churches of
Persarmenia were oppressed by the intolerant spirit of the Magi; they
secretly invoked the protector of the Christians, and, after the pious
murder of their satraps, the rebels were avowed and supported as the
brethren and subjects of the Roman emperor. The complaints of Nushirvan
were disregarded by the Byzantine court; Justin yielded to the
importunities of the Turks, who offered an alliance against the common
enemy; and the Persian monarchy was threatened at the same instant by
the united forces of Europe, of Æthiopia, and of Scythia. At the age
of fourscore the sovereign of the East would perhaps have chosen the
peaceful enjoyment of his glory and greatness; but as soon as war became
inevitable, he took the field with the alacrity of youth, whilst the
aggressor trembled in the palace of Constantinople. Nushirvan, or
Chosroes, conducted in person the siege of Dara; and although that
important fortress had been left destitute of troops and magazines, the
valor of the inhabitants resisted above five months the archers, the
elephants, and the military engines of the Great King. In the mean while
his general Adarman advanced from Babylon, traversed the desert, passed
the Euphrates, insulted the suburbs of Antioch, reduced to ashes the
city of Apamea, and laid the spoils of Syria at the feet of his master,
whose perseverance in the midst of winter at length subverted the
bulwark of the East. But these losses, which astonished the provinces
and the court, produced a salutary effect in the repentance and
abdication of the emperor Justin: a new spirit arose in the Byzantine
councils; and a truce of three years was obtained by the prudence of
Tiberius. That seasonable interval was employed in the preparations
of war; and the voice of rumor proclaimed to the world, that from
the distant countries of the Alps and the Rhine, from Scythia, Mæsia,
Pannonia, Illyricum, and Isauria, the strength of the Imperial cavalry
was reënforced with one hundred and fifty thousand soldiers. Yet the
king of Persia, without fear, or without faith, resolved to prevent
the attack of the enemy; again passed the Euphrates, and dismissing the
ambassadors of Tiberius, arrogantly commanded them to await his arrival
at Cæsarea, the metropolis of the Cappadocian provinces. The two armies
encountered each other in the battle of Melitene: the Barbarians,
who darkened the air with a cloud of arrows, prolonged their line, and
extended their wings across the plain; while the Romans, in deep and
solid bodies, expected to prevail in closer action, by the weight of
their swords and lances. A Scythian chief, who commanded their right
wing, suddenly turned the flank of the enemy, attacked their rear-guard
in the presence of Chosroes, penetrated to the midst of the camp,
pillaged the royal tent, profaned the eternal fire, loaded a train of
camels with the spoils of Asia, cut his way through the Persian host,
and returned with songs of victory to his friends, who had consumed the
day in single combats, or ineffectual skirmishes. The darkness of the
night, and the separation of the Romans, afforded the Persian monarch an
opportunity of revenge; and one of their camps was swept away by a rapid
and impetuous assault. But the review of his loss, and the consciousness
of his danger, determined Chosroes to a speedy retreat: he burnt, in his
passage, the vacant town of Melitene; and, without consulting the safety
of his troops, boldly swam the Euphrates on the back of an elephant.
After this unsuccessful campaign, the want of magazines, and perhaps
some inroad of the Turks, obliged him to disband or divide his forces;
the Romans were left masters of the field, and their general Justinian,
advancing to the relief of the Persarmenian rebels, erected his standard
on the banks of the Araxes. The great Pompey had formerly halted within
three days' march of the Caspian: that inland sea was explored, for
the first time, by a hostile fleet, and seventy thousand captives were
transplanted from Hyrcania to the Isle of Cyprus. On the return of
spring, Justinian descended into the fertile plains of Assyria; the
flames of war approached the residence of Nushirvan; the indignant
monarch sunk into the grave; and his last edict restrained his
successors from exposing their person in battle against the Romans.
Yet the memory of this transient affront was lost in the glories of a
long reign; and his formidable enemies, after indulging their dream of
conquest, again solicited a short respite from the calamities of war.

The throne of Chosroes Nushirvan was filled by Hormouz, or Hormisdas,
the eldest or the most favored of his sons. With the kingdoms of Persia
and India, he inherited the reputation and example of his father, the
service, in every rank, of his wise and valiant officers, and a general
system of administration, harmonized by time and political wisdom to
promote the happiness of the prince and people. But the royal youth
enjoyed a still more valuable blessing, the friendship of a sage who had
presided over his education, and who always preferred the honor to the
interest of his pupil, his interest to his inclination. In a dispute
with the Greek and Indian philosophers, Buzurg had once maintained, that
the most grievous misfortune of life is old age without the remembrance
of virtue; and our candor will presume that the same principle compelled
him, during three years, to direct the councils of the Persian empire.
His zeal was rewarded by the gratitude and docility of Hormouz, who
acknowledged himself more indebted to his preceptor than to his parent:
but when age and labor had impaired the strength, and perhaps the
faculties, of this prudent counsellor, he retired from court, and
abandoned the youthful monarch to his own passions and those of his
favorites. By the fatal vicissitude of human affairs, the same scenes
were renewed at Ctesiphon, which had been exhibited at Rome after the
death of Marcus Antoninus. The ministers of flattery and corruption, who
had been banished by his father, were recalled and cherished by the son;
the disgrace and exile of the friends of Nushirvan established their
tyranny; and virtue was driven by degrees from the mind of Hormouz, from
his palace, and from the government of the state. The faithful agents,
the eyes and ears of the king, informed him of the progress of disorder,
that the provincial governors flew to their prey with the fierceness of
lions and eagles, and that their rapine and injustice would teach the
most loyal of his subjects to abhor the name and authority of their
sovereign. The sincerity of this advice was punished with death; the
murmurs of the cities were despised, their tumults were quelled by
military execution: the intermediate powers between the throne and the
people were abolished; and the childish vanity of Hormouz, who affected
the daily use of the tiara, was fond of declaring, that he alone would
be the judge as well as the master of his kingdom. In every word, and in
every action, the son of Nushirvan degenerated from the virtues of his
father. His avarice defrauded the troops; his jealous caprice degraded
the satraps; the palace, the tribunals, the waters of the Tigris, were
stained with the blood of the innocent, and the tyrant exulted in the
sufferings and execution of thirteen thousand victims. As the excuse of
his cruelty, he sometimes condescended to observe, that the fears of
the Persians would be productive of hatred, and that their hatred must
terminate in rebellion but he forgot that his own guilt and folly had
inspired the sentiments which he deplored, and prepared the event which
he so justly apprehended. Exasperated by long and hopeless oppression,
the provinces of Babylon, Susa, and Carmania, erected the standard
of revolt; and the princes of Arabia, India, and Scythia, refused the
customary tribute to the unworthy successor of Nushirvan. The arms of
the Romans, in slow sieges and frequent inroads, afflicted the frontiers
of Mesopotamia and Assyria: one of their generals professed himself the
disciple of Scipio; and the soldiers were animated by a miraculous image
of Christ, whose mild aspect should never have been displayed in the
front of battle. At the same time, the eastern provinces of Persia were
invaded by the great khan, who passed the Oxus at the head of three
or four hundred thousand Turks. The imprudent Hormouz accepted their
perfidious and formidable aid; the cities of Khorassan or Bactriana were
commanded to open their gates the march of the Barbarians towards the
mountains of Hyrcania revealed the correspondence of the Turkish and
Roman arms; and their union must have subverted the throne of the house
of Sassan.

Persia had been lost by a king; it was saved by a hero. After his
revolt, Varanes or Bahram is stigmatized by the son of Hormouz as an
ungrateful slave; the proud and ambiguous reproach of despotism, since
he was truly descended from the ancient princes of Rei, one of the seven
families whose splendid, as well as substantial, prerogatives exalted
them above the heads of the Persian nobility. At the siege of Dara, the
valor of Bahram was signalized under the eyes of Nushirvan, and both the
father and son successively promoted him to the command of armies, the
government of Media, and the superintendence of the palace. The popular
prediction which marked him as the deliverer of Persia, might be
inspired by his past victories and extraordinary figure: the epithet
_Giubin_ is expressive of the quality of _dry wood_: he had the
strength and stature of a giant; and his savage countenance was
fancifully compared to that of a wild cat. While the nation trembled,
while Hormouz disguised his terror by the name of suspicion, and his
servants concealed their disloyalty under the mask of fear, Bahram alone
displayed his undaunted courage and apparent fidelity: and as soon as
he found that no more than twelve thousand soldiers would follow him
against the enemy; he prudently declared, that to this fatal number
Heaven had reserved the honors of the triumph. The steep and narrow
descent of the Pule Rudbar, or Hyrcanian rock, is the only pass through
which an army can penetrate into the territory of Rei and the plains
of Media. From the commanding heights, a band of resolute men might
overwhelm with stones and darts the myriads of the Turkish host: their
emperor and his son were transpierced with arrows; and the fugitives
were left, without counsel or provisions, to the revenge of an injured
people. The patriotism of the Persian general was stimulated by his
affection for the city of his forefathers: in the hour of victory, every
peasant became a soldier, and every soldier a hero; and their ardor was
kindled by the gorgeous spectacle of beds, and thrones, and tables of
massy gold, the spoils of Asia, and the luxury of the hostile camp. A
prince of a less malignant temper could not easily have forgiven
his benefactor; and the secret hatred of Hormouz was envenomed by a
malicious report, that Bahram had privately retained the most precious
fruits of his Turkish victory. But the approach of a Roman army on
the side of the Araxes compelled the implacable tyrant to smile and to
applaud; and the toils of Bahram were rewarded with the permission of
encountering a new enemy, by their skill and discipline more formidable
than a Scythian multitude. Elated by his recent success, he despatched
a herald with a bold defiance to the camp of the Romans, requesting them
to fix a day of battle, and to choose whether they would pass the river
themselves, or allow a free passage to the arms of the great king. The
lieutenant of the emperor Maurice preferred the safer alternative; and
this local circumstance, which would have enhanced the victory of
the Persians, rendered their defeat more bloody and their escape more
difficult. But the loss of his subjects, and the danger of his kingdom,
were overbalanced in the mind of Hormouz by the disgrace of his personal
enemy; and no sooner had Bahram collected and reviewed his forces, than
he received from a royal messenger the insulting gift of a distaff, a
spinning-wheel, and a complete suit of female apparel. Obedient to the
will of his sovereign he showed himself to the soldiers in this unworthy
disguise they resented his ignominy and their own; a shout of rebellion
ran through the ranks; and the general accepted their oath of fidelity
and vows of revenge. A second messenger, who had been commanded to bring
the rebel in chains, was trampled under the feet of an elephant, and
manifestos were diligently circulated, exhorting the Persians to assert
their freedom against an odious and contemptible tyrant. The defection
was rapid and universal; his loyal slaves were sacrificed to the public
fury; the troops deserted to the standard of Bahram; and the provinces
again saluted the deliverer of his country.

As the passes were faithfully guarded, Hormouz could only compute the
number of his enemies by the testimony of a guilty conscience, and the
daily defection of those who, in the hour of his distress, avenged their
wrongs, or forgot their obligations. He proudly displayed the ensigns of
royalty; but the city and palace of Modain had already escaped from
the hand of the tyrant. Among the victims of his cruelty, Bindoes, a
Sassanian prince, had been cast into a dungeon; his fetters were broken
by the zeal and courage of a brother; and he stood before the king at
the head of those trusty guards, who had been chosen as the ministers
of his confinement, and perhaps of his death. Alarmed by the hasty
intrusion and bold reproaches of the captive, Hormouz looked round,
but in vain, for advice or assistance; discovered that his strength
consisted in the obedience of others; and patiently yielded to the
single arm of Bindoes, who dragged him from the throne to the same
dungeon in which he himself had been so lately confined. At the first
tumult, Chosroes, the eldest of the sons of Hormouz, escaped from the
city; he was persuaded to return by the pressing and friendly invitation
of Bindoes, who promised to seat him on his father's throne, and who
expected to reign under the name of an inexperienced youth. In the just
assurance, that his accomplices could neither forgive nor hope to be
forgiven, and that every Persian might be trusted as the judge and enemy
of the tyrant, he instituted a public trial without a precedent and
without a copy in the annals of the East. The son of Nushirvan, who had
requested to plead in his own defence, was introduced as a criminal into
the full assembly of the nobles and satraps. He was heard with decent
attention as long as he expatiated on the advantages of order and
obedience, the danger of innovation, and the inevitable discord of those
who had encouraged each other to trample on their lawful and hereditary
sovereign. By a pathetic appeal to their humanity, he extorted that pity
which is seldom refused to the fallen fortunes of a king; and while they
beheld the abject posture and squalid appearance of the prisoner,
his tears, his chains, and the marks of ignominious stripes, it was
impossible to forget how recently they had adored the divine splendor of
his diadem and purple. But an angry murmur arose in the assembly as soon
as he presumed to vindicate his conduct, and to applaud the victories
of his reign. He defined the duties of a king, and the Persian nobles
listened with a smile of contempt; they were fired with indignation
when he dared to vilify the character of Chosroes; and by the indiscreet
offer of resigning the sceptre to the second of his sons, he subscribed
his own condemnation, and sacrificed the life of his own innocent
favorite. The mangled bodies of the boy and his mother were exposed to
the people; the eyes of Hormouz were pierced with a hot needle; and the
punishment of the father was succeeded by the coronation of his eldest
son. Chosroes had ascended the throne without guilt, and his piety
strove to alleviate the misery of the abdicated monarch; from the
dungeon he removed Hormouz to an apartment of the palace, supplied with
liberality the consolations of sensual enjoyment, and patiently endured
the furious sallies of his resentment and despair. He might despise the
resentment of a blind and unpopular tyrant, but the tiara was trembling
on his head, till he could subvert the power, or acquire the friendship,
of the great Bahram, who sternly denied the justice of a revolution, in
which himself and his soldiers, the true representatives of Persia, had
never been consulted. The offer of a general amnesty, and of the second
rank in his kingdom, was answered by an epistle from Bahram, friend of
the gods, conqueror of men, and enemy of tyrants, the satrap of satraps,
general of the Persian armies, and a prince adorned with the title of
eleven virtues. He commands Chosroes, the son of Hormouz, to shun the
example and fate of his father, to confine the traitors who had been
released from their chains, to deposit in some holy place the diadem
which he had usurped, and to accept from his gracious benefactor the
pardon of his faults and the government of a province. The rebel might
not be proud, and the king most assuredly was not humble; but the one
was conscious of his strength, the other was sensible of his weakness;
and even the modest language of his reply still left room for treaty and
reconciliation. Chosroes led into the field the slaves of the palace and
the populace of the capital: they beheld with terror the banners of a
veteran army; they were encompassed and surprised by the evolutions
of the general; and the satraps who had deposed Hormouz, received the
punishment of their revolt, or expiated their first treason by a second
and more criminal act of disloyalty. The life and liberty of Chosroes
were saved, but he was reduced to the necessity of imploring aid or
refuge in some foreign land; and the implacable Bindoes, anxious to
secure an unquestionable title, hastily returned to the palace, and
ended, with a bowstring, the wretched existence of the son of Nushirvan.

While Chosroes despatched the preparations of his retreat, he
deliberated with his remaining friends, whether he should lurk in the
valleys of Mount Caucasus, or fly to the tents of the Turks, or solicit
the protection of the emperor. The long emulation of the successors
of Artaxerxes and Constantine increased his reluctance to appear as a
suppliant in a rival court; but he weighed the forces of the Romans,
and prudently considered that the neighborhood of Syria would render his
escape more easy and their succors more effectual. Attended only by his
concubines, and a troop of thirty guards, he secretly departed from the
capital, followed the banks of the Euphrates, traversed the desert,
and halted at the distance of ten miles from Circesium. About the third
watch of the night, the Roman præfect was informed of his approach, and
he introduced the royal stranger to the fortress at the dawn of day.
From thence the king of Persia was conducted to the more honorable
residence of Hierapolis; and Maurice dissembled his pride, and displayed
his benevolence, at the reception of the letters and ambassadors of
the grandson of Nushirvan. They humbly represented the vicissitudes of
fortune and the common interest of princes, exaggerated the ingratitude
of Bahram, the agent of the evil principle, and urged, with specious
argument, that it was for the advantage of the Romans themselves to
support the two monarchies which balance the world, the two great
luminaries by whose salutary influence it is vivified and adorned. The
anxiety of Chosroes was soon relieved by the assurance, that the emperor
had espoused the cause of justice and royalty; but Maurice prudently
declined the expense and delay of his useless visit to Constantinople.
In the name of his generous benefactor, a rich diadem was presented
to the fugitive prince, with an inestimable gift of jewels and gold; a
powerful army was assembled on the frontiers of Syria and Armenia, under
the command of the valiant and faithful Narses, and this general, of
his own nation, and his own choice, was directed to pass the Tigris, and
never to sheathe his sword till he had restored Chosroes to the throne
of his ancestors. The enterprise, however splendid, was less arduous
than it might appear. Persia had already repented of her fatal rashness,
which betrayed the heir of the house of Sassan to the ambition of a
rebellious subject: and the bold refusal of the Magi to consecrate his
usurpation, compelled Bahram to assume the sceptre, regardless of the
laws and prejudices of the nation. The palace was soon distracted with
conspiracy, the city with tumult, the provinces with insurrection; and
the cruel execution of the guilty and the suspected served to irritate
rather than subdue the public discontent. No sooner did the grandson of
Nushirvan display his own and the Roman banners beyond the Tigris, than
he was joined, each day, by the increasing multitudes of the nobility
and people; and as he advanced, he received from every side the grateful
offerings of the keys of his cities and the heads of his enemies. As
soon as Modain was freed from the presence of the usurper, the loyal
inhabitants obeyed the first summons of Mebodes at the head of only two
thousand horse, and Chosroes accepted the sacred and precious ornaments
of the palace as the pledge of their truth and the presage of his
approaching success. After the junction of the Imperial troops, which
Bahram vainly struggled to prevent, the contest was decided by two
battles on the banks of the Zab, and the confines of Media. The Romans,
with the faithful subjects of Persia, amounted to sixty thousand, while
the whole force of the usurper did not exceed forty thousand men: the
two generals signalized their valor and ability; but the victory was
finally determined by the prevalence of numbers and discipline. With the
remnant of a broken army, Bahram fled towards the eastern provinces of
the Oxus: the enmity of Persia reconciled him to the Turks; but his days
were shortened by poison, perhaps the most incurable of poisons; the
stings of remorse and despair, and the bitter remembrance of lost glory.
Yet the modern Persians still commemorate the exploits of Bahram; and
some excellent laws have prolonged the duration of his troubled and
transitory reign.

The restoration of Chosroes was celebrated with feasts and executions;
and the music of the royal banquet was often disturbed by the groans
of dying or mutilated criminals. A general pardon might have diffused
comfort and tranquillity through a country which had been shaken by
the late revolutions; yet, before the sanguinary temper of Chosroes is
blamed, we should learn whether the Persians had not been accustomed
either to dread the rigor, or to despise the weakness, of their
sovereign. The revolt of Bahram, and the conspiracy of the satraps, were
impartially punished by the revenge or justice of the conqueror; the
merits of Bindoes himself could not purify his hand from the guilt
of royal blood: and the son of Hormouz was desirous to assert his own
innocence, and to vindicate the sanctity of kings. During the vigor of
the Roman power, several princes were seated on the throne of Persia by
the arms and the authority of the first Cæsars. But their new subjects
were soon disgusted with the vices or virtues which they had imbibed in
a foreign land; the instability of their dominion gave birth to a vulgar
observation, that the choice of Rome was solicited and rejected with
equal ardor by the capricious levity of Oriental slaves. But the glory
of Maurice was conspicuous in the long and fortunate reign of his _son_
and his ally. A band of a thousand Romans, who continued to guard the
person of Chosroes, proclaimed his confidence in the fidelity of the
strangers; his growing strength enabled him to dismiss this unpopular
aid, but he steadily professed the same gratitude and reverence to his
adopted father; and till the death of Maurice, the peace and alliance of
the two empires were faithfully maintained. Yet the mercenary friendship
of the Roman prince had been purchased with costly and important gifts;
the strong cities of Martyropolis and Dara were restored, and the
Persarmenians became the willing subjects of an empire, whose eastern
limit was extended, beyond the example of former times, as far as the
banks of the Araxes, and the neighborhood of the Caspian. A pious hope
was indulged, that the church as well as the state might triumph in
this revolution: but if Chosroes had sincerely listened to the Christian
bishops, the impression was erased by the zeal and eloquence of the
Magi: if he was armed with philosophic indifference, he accommodated his
belief, or rather his professions, to the various circumstances of an
exile and a sovereign. The imaginary conversion of the king of Persia
was reduced to a local and superstitious veneration for Sergius, one
of the saints of Antioch, who heard his prayers and appeared to him in
dreams; he enriched the shrine with offerings of gold and silver, and
ascribed to this invisible patron the success of his arms, and the
pregnancy of Sira, a devout Christian and the best beloved of his wives.
The beauty of Sira, or Schirin, her wit, her musical talents, are still
famous in the history, or rather in the romances, of the East: her own
name is expressive, in the Persian tongue, of sweetness and grace; and
the epithet of _Parviz_ alludes to the charms of her royal lover. Yet
Sira never shared the passions which she inspired, and the bliss of
Chosroes was tortured by a jealous doubt, that while he possessed her
person, she had bestowed her affections on a meaner favorite.



Chapter XLVI: Troubles In Persia.--Part II.

While the majesty of the Roman name was revived in the East, the
prospect of Europe is less pleasing and less glorious. By the departure
of the Lombards, and the ruin of the Gepidæ, the balance of power was
destroyed on the Danube; and the Avars spread their permanent dominion
from the foot of the Alps to the sea-coast of the Euxine. The reign of
Baian is the brightest æra of their monarchy; their chagan, who occupied
the rustic palace of Attila, appears to have imitated his character
and policy; but as the same scenes were repeated in a smaller circle, a
minute representation of the copy would be devoid of the greatness and
novelty of the original. The pride of the second Justin, of Tiberius,
and Maurice, was humbled by a proud Barbarian, more prompt to inflict,
than exposed to suffer, the injuries of war; and as often as Asia was
threatened by the Persian arms, Europe was oppressed by the dangerous
inroads, or costly friendship, of the Avars. When the Roman envoys
approached the presence of the chagan, they were commanded to wait at
the door of his tent, till, at the end perhaps of ten or twelve days,
he condescended to admit them. If the substance or the style of their
message was offensive to his ear, he insulted, with real or affected
fury, their own dignity, and that of their prince; their baggage was
plundered, and their lives were only saved by the promise of a richer
present and a more respectful address. But _his_ sacred ambassadors
enjoyed and abused an unbounded license in the midst of Constantinople:
they urged, with importunate clamors, the increase of tribute, or the
restitution of captives and deserters: and the majesty of the empire
was almost equally degraded by a base compliance, or by the false and
fearful excuses with which they eluded such insolent demands. The
chagan had never seen an elephant; and his curiosity was excited by the
strange, and perhaps fabulous, portrait of that wonderful animal. At
his command, one of the largest elephants of the Imperial stables was
equipped with stately caparisons, and conducted by a numerous train to
the royal village in the plains of Hungary. He surveyed the enormous
beast with surprise, with disgust, and possibly with terror; and smiled
at the vain industry of the Romans, who, in search of such useless
rarities, could explore the limits of the land and sea. He wished, at
the expense of the emperor, to repose in a golden bed. The wealth of
Constantinople, and the skilful diligence of her artists, were instantly
devoted to the gratification of his caprice; but when the work was
finished, he rejected with scorn a present so unworthy the majesty of a
great king. These were the casual sallies of his pride; but the avarice
of the chagan was a more steady and tractable passion: a rich and
regular supply of silk apparel, furniture, and plate, introduced the
rudiments of art and luxury among the tents of the Scythians; their
appetite was stimulated by the pepper and cinnamon of India; the annual
subsidy or tribute was raised from fourscore to one hundred and twenty
thousand pieces of gold; and after each hostile interruption, the
payment of the arrears, with exorbitant interest, was always made the
first condition of the new treaty. In the language of a Barbarian,
without guile, the prince of the Avars affected to complain of the
insincerity of the Greeks; yet he was not inferior to the most civilized
nations in the refinement of dissimulation and perfidy. As the successor
of the Lombards, the chagan asserted his claim to the important city of
Sirmium, the ancient bulwark of the Illyrian provinces. The plains of
the Lower Hungary were covered with the Avar horse and a fleet of large
boats was built in the Hercynian wood, to descend the Danube, and to
transport into the Save the materials of a bridge. But as the strong
garrison of Singidunum, which commanded the conflux of the two rivers,
might have stopped their passage and baffled his designs, he dispelled
their apprehensions by a solemn oath that his views were not hostile to
the empire. He swore by his sword, the symbol of the god of war, that he
did not, as the enemy of Rome, construct a bridge upon the Save. "If
I violate my oath," pursued the intrepid Baian, "may I myself, and the
last of my nation, perish by the sword! May the heavens, and fire, the
deity of the heavens, fall upon our heads! May the forests and mountains
bury us in their ruins! and the Save returning, against the laws of
nature, to his source, overwhelm us in his angry waters!" After this
barbarous imprecation, he calmly inquired, what oath was most sacred
and venerable among the Christians, what guilt or perjury it was most
dangerous to incur. The bishop of Singidunum presented the gospel, which
the chagan received with devout reverence. "I swear," said he, "by the
God who has spoken in this holy book, that I have neither falsehood
on my tongue, nor treachery in my heart." As soon as he rose from his
knees, he accelerated the labor of the bridge, and despatched an envoy
to proclaim what he no longer wished to conceal. "Inform the emperor,"
said the perfidious Baian, "that Sirmium is invested on every side.
Advise his prudence to withdraw the citizens and their effects, and to
resign a city which it is now impossible to relieve or defend." Without
the hope of relief, the defence of Sirmium was prolonged above three
years: the walls were still untouched; but famine was enclosed within
the walls, till a merciful capitulation allowed the escape of the naked
and hungry inhabitants. Singidunum, at the distance of fifty miles,
experienced a more cruel fate: the buildings were razed, and the
vanquished people was condemned to servitude and exile. Yet the ruins of
Sirmium are no longer visible; the advantageous situation of Singidunum
soon attracted a new colony of Sclavonians, and the conflux of the Save
and Danube is still guarded by the fortifications of Belgrade, or the
_White City_, so often and so obstinately disputed by the Christian and
Turkish arms. From Belgrade to the walls of Constantinople a line may be
measured of six hundred miles: that line was marked with flames and with
blood; the horses of the Avars were alternately bathed in the Euxine and
the Adriatic; and the Roman pontiff, alarmed by the approach of a more
savage enemy, was reduced to cherish the Lombards, as the protectors
of Italy. The despair of a captive, whom his country refused to ransom,
disclosed to the Avars the invention and practice of military engines.
But in the first attempts they were rudely framed, and awkwardly
managed; and the resistance of Diocletianopolis and Beræa, of
Philippopolis and Adrianople, soon exhausted the skill and patience of
the besiegers. The warfare of Baian was that of a Tartar; yet his mind
was susceptible of a humane and generous sentiment: he spared Anchialus,
whose salutary waters had restored the health of the best beloved of his
wives; and the Romans confessed, that their starving army was fed and
dismissed by the liberality of a foe. His empire extended over Hungary,
Poland, and Prussia, from the mouth of the Danube to that of the Oder;
and his new subjects were divided and transplanted by the jealous policy
of the conqueror. The eastern regions of Germany, which had been
left vacant by the emigration of the Vandals, were replenished with
Sclavonian colonists; the same tribes are discovered in the neighborhood
of the Adriatic and of the Baltic, and with the name of Baian himself,
the Illyrian cities of Neyss and Lissa are again found in the heart of
Silesia. In the disposition both of his troops and provinces the chagan
exposed the vassals, whose lives he disregarded, to the first assault;
and the swords of the enemy were blunted before they encountered the
native valor of the Avars.

The Persian alliance restored the troops of the East to the defence of
Europe: and Maurice, who had supported ten years the insolence of
the chagan, declared his resolution to march in person against the
Barbarians. In the space of two centuries, none of the successors of
Theodosius had appeared in the field: their lives were supinely spent in
the palace of Constantinople; and the Greeks could no longer understand,
that the name of _emperor_, in its primitive sense, denoted the chief of
the armies of the republic. The martial ardor of Maurice was opposed
by the grave flattery of the senate, the timid superstition of the
patriarch, and the tears of the empress Constantina; and they all
conjured him to devolve on some meaner general the fatigues and perils
of a Scythian campaign. Deaf to their advice and entreaty, the emperor
boldly advanced seven miles from the capital; the sacred ensign of the
cross was displayed in the front; and Maurice reviewed, with conscious
pride, the arms and numbers of the veterans who had fought and conquered
beyond the Tigris. Anchialus was the last term of his progress by sea
and land; he solicited, without success, a miraculous answer to his
nocturnal prayers; his mind was confounded by the death of a favorite
horse, the encounter of a wild boar, a storm of wind and rain, and the
birth of a monstrous child; and he forgot that the best of omens is to
unsheathe our sword in the defence of our country. Under the pretence
of receiving the ambassadors of Persia, the emperor returned to
Constantinople, exchanged the thoughts of war for those of devotion,
and disappointed the public hope by his absence and the choice of his
lieutenants. The blind partiality of fraternal love might excuse the
promotion of his brother Peter, who fled with equal disgrace from the
Barbarians, from his own soldiers and from the inhabitants of a Roman
city. That city, if we may credit the resemblance of name and character,
was the famous Azimuntium, which had alone repelled the tempest of
Attila. The example of her warlike youth was propagated to succeeding
generations; and they obtained, from the first or the second Justin, an
honorable privilege, that their valor should be always reserved for the
defence of their native country. The brother of Maurice attempted
to violate this privilege, and to mingle a patriot band with the
mercenaries of his camp; they retired to the church, he was not awed
by the sanctity of the place; the people rose in their cause, the gates
were shut, the ramparts were manned; and the cowardice of Peter was
found equal to his arrogance and injustice. The military fame of
Commentiolus is the object of satire or comedy rather than of
serious history, since he was even deficient in the vile and vulgar
qualification of personal courage. His solemn councils, strange
evolutions, and secret orders, always supplied an apology for flight or
delay. If he marched against the enemy, the pleasant valleys of Mount
Hæmus opposed an insuperable barrier; but in his retreat, he explored,
with fearless curiosity, the most difficult and obsolete paths, which
had almost escaped the memory of the oldest native. The only blood which
he lost was drawn, in a real or affected malady, by the lancet of a
surgeon; and his health, which felt with exquisite sensibility the
approach of the Barbarians, was uniformly restored by the repose and
safety of the winter season. A prince who could promote and support this
unworthy favorite must derive no glory from the accidental merit of his
colleague Priscus. In five successive battles, which seem to have been
conducted with skill and resolution, seventeen thousand two hundred
Barbarians were made prisoners: near sixty thousand, with four sons of
the chagan, were slain: the Roman general surprised a peaceful district
of the Gepidæ, who slept under the protection of the Avars; and his last
trophies were erected on the banks of the Danube and the Teyss. Since
the death of Trajan the arms of the empire had not penetrated so deeply
into the old Dacia: yet the success of Priscus was transient and barren;
and he was soon recalled by the apprehension that Baian, with dauntless
spirit and recruited forces, was preparing to avenge his defeat under
the walls of Constantinople.

The theory of war was not more familiar to the camps of Cæsar and
Trajan, than to those of Justinian and Maurice. The iron of Tuscany or
Pontus still received the keenest temper from the skill of the Byzantine
workmen. The magazines were plentifully stored with every species of
offensive and defensive arms. In the construction and use of ships,
engines, and fortifications, the Barbarians admired the superior
ingenuity of a people whom they had so often vanquished in the field.
The science of tactics, the order, evolutions, and stratagems of
antiquity, was transcribed and studied in the books of the Greeks and
Romans. But the solitude or degeneracy of the provinces could no longer
supply a race of men to handle those weapons, to guard those walls,
to navigate those ships, and to reduce the theory of war into bold and
successful practice. The genius of Belisarius and Narses had been formed
without a master, and expired without a disciple Neither honor, nor
patriotism, nor generous superstition, could animate the lifeless bodies
of slaves and strangers, who had succeeded to the honors of the legions:
it was in the camp alone that the emperor should have exercised a
despotic command; it was only in the camps that his authority was
disobeyed and insulted: he appeased and inflamed with gold the
licentiousness of the troops; but their vices were inherent, their
victories were accidental, and their costly maintenance exhausted the
substance of a state which they were unable to defend. After a long and
pernicious indulgence, the cure of this inveterate evil was undertaken
by Maurice; but the rash attempt, which drew destruction on his own
head, tended only to aggravate the disease. A reformer should be exempt
from the suspicion of interest, and he must possess the confidence and
esteem of those whom he proposes to reclaim. The troops of Maurice
might listen to the voice of a victorious leader; they disdained the
admonitions of statesmen and sophists; and, when they received an edict
which deducted from their pay the price of their arms and clothing, they
execrated the avarice of a prince insensible of the dangers and fatigues
from which he had escaped. The camps both of Asia and Europe were
agitated with frequent and furious seditions; the enraged soldiers
of Edessa pursued with reproaches, with threats, with wounds, their
trembling generals; they overturned the statues of the emperor, cast
stones against the miraculous image of Christ, and either rejected the
yoke of all civil and military laws, or instituted a dangerous model of
voluntary subordination. The monarch, always distant and often deceived,
was incapable of yielding or persisting, according to the exigence of
the moment. But the fear of a general revolt induced him too readily to
accept any act of valor, or any expression of loyalty, as an atonement
for the popular offence; the new reform was abolished as hastily as it
had been announced, and the troops, instead of punishment and restraint,
were agreeably surprised by a gracious proclamation of immunities and
rewards. But the soldiers accepted without gratitude the tardy and
reluctant gifts of the emperor: their insolence was elated by the
discovery of his weakness and their own strength; and their mutual
hatred was inflamed beyond the desire of forgiveness or the hope of
reconciliation. The historians of the times adopt the vulgar suspicion,
that Maurice conspired to destroy the troops whom he had labored to
reform; the misconduct and favor of Commentiolus are imputed to this
malevolent design; and every age must condemn the inhumanity of avarice
of a prince, who, by the trifling ransom of six thousand pieces of gold,
might have prevented the massacre of twelve thousand prisoners in the
hands of the chagan. In the just fervor of indignation, an order
was signified to the army of the Danube, that they should spare the
magazines of the province, and establish their winter quarters in the
hostile country of the Avars. The measure of their grievances was full:
they pronounced Maurice unworthy to reign, expelled or slaughtered
his faithful adherents, and, under the command of Phocas, a
simple centurion, returned by hasty marches to the neighborhood of
Constantinople. After a long series of legal succession, the military
disorders of the third century were again revived; yet such was the
novelty of the enterprise, that the insurgents were awed by their
own rashness. They hesitated to invest their favorite with the vacant
purple; and, while they rejected all treaty with Maurice himself,
they held a friendly correspondence with his son Theodosius, and with
Germanus, the father-in-law of the royal youth. So obscure had been the
former condition of Phocas, that the emperor was ignorant of the
name and character of his rival; but as soon as he learned, that the
centurion, though bold in sedition, was timid in the face of danger,
"Alas!" cried the desponding prince, "if he is a coward, he will surely
be a murderer."

Yet if Constantinople had been firm and faithful, the murderer might
have spent his fury against the walls; and the rebel army would have
been gradually consumed or reconciled by the prudence of the emperor.
In the games of the Circus, which he repeated with unusual pomp,
Maurice disguised, with smiles of confidence, the anxiety of his heart,
condescended to solicit the applause of the _factions_, and flattered
their pride by accepting from their respective tribunes a list of nine
hundred _blues_ and fifteen hundred _greens_, whom he affected to esteem
as the solid pillars of his throne Their treacherous or languid support
betrayed his weakness and hastened his fall: the green faction were the
secret accomplices of the rebels, and the blues recommended lenity
and moderation in a contest with their Roman brethren The rigid and
parsimonious virtues of Maurice had long since alienated the hearts of
his subjects: as he walked barefoot in a religious procession, he was
rudely assaulted with stones, and his guards were compelled to present
their iron maces in the defence of his person. A fanatic monk ran
through the streets with a drawn sword, denouncing against him the
wrath and the sentence of God; and a vile plebeian, who represented
his countenance and apparel, was seated on an ass, and pursued by the
imprecations of the multitude. The emperor suspected the popularity of
Germanus with the soldiers and citizens: he feared, he threatened, but
he delayed to strike; the patrician fled to the sanctuary of the church;
the people rose in his defence, the walls were deserted by the guards,
and the lawless city was abandoned to the flames and rapine of a
nocturnal tumult. In a small bark, the unfortunate Maurice, with his
wife and nine children, escaped to the Asiatic shore; but the violence
of the wind compelled him to land at the church of St. Autonomus, near
Chalcedon, from whence he despatched Theodosius, he eldest son, to
implore the gratitude and friendship of the Persian monarch. For
himself, he refused to fly: his body was tortured with sciatic pains,
his mind was enfeebled by superstition; he patiently awaited the event
of the revolution, and addressed a fervent and public prayer to the
Almighty, that the punishment of his sins might be inflicted in this
world rather than in a future life. After the abdication of Maurice, the
two factions disputed the choice of an emperor; but the favorite of the
blues was rejected by the jealousy of their antagonists, and Germanus
himself was hurried along by the crowds who rushed to the palace of
Hebdomon, seven miles from the city, to adore the majesty of Phocas the
centurion. A modest wish of resigning the purple to the rank and merit
of Germanus was opposed by _his_ resolution, more obstinate and equally
sincere; the senate and clergy obeyed his summons; and, as soon as
the patriarch was assured of his orthodox belief, he consecrated the
successful usurper in the church of St. John the Baptist. On the third
day, amidst the acclamations of a thoughtless people, Phocas made his
public entry in a chariot drawn by four white horses: the revolt of the
troops was rewarded by a lavish donative; and the new sovereign, after
visiting the palace, beheld from his throne the games of the hippodrome.
In a dispute of precedency between the two factions, his partial
judgment inclined in favor of the greens. "Remember that Maurice is
still alive," resounded from the opposite side; and the indiscreet
clamor of the blues admonished and stimulated the cruelty of the tyrant.
The ministers of death were despatched to Chalcedon: they dragged
the emperor from his sanctuary; and the five sons of Maurice were
successively murdered before the eyes of their agonizing parent. At
each stroke, which he felt in his heart, he found strength to rehearse
a pious ejaculation: "Thou art just, O Lord! and thy judgments are
righteous." And such, in the last moments, was his rigid attachment to
truth and justice, that he revealed to the soldiers the pious falsehood
of a nurse who presented her own child in the place of a royal infant.
The tragic scene was finally closed by the execution of the emperor
himself, in the twentieth year of his reign, and the sixty-third of his
age. The bodies of the father and his five sons were cast into the sea;
their heads were exposed at Constantinople to the insults or pity of the
multitude; and it was not till some signs of putrefaction had appeared,
that Phocas connived at the private burial of these venerable remains.
In that grave, the faults and errors of Maurice were kindly interred.
His fate alone was remembered; and at the end of twenty years, in the
recital of the history of Theophylact, the mournful tale was interrupted
by the tears of the audience.

Such tears must have flowed in secret, and such compassion would have
been criminal, under the reign of Phocas, who was peaceably acknowledged
in the provinces of the East and West. The images of the emperor and his
wife Leontia were exposed in the Lateran to the veneration of the
clergy and senate of Rome, and afterwards deposited in the palace of the
Cæsars, between those of Constantine and Theodosius. As a subject and
a Christian, it was the duty of Gregory to acquiesce in the established
government; but the joyful applause with which he salutes the fortune of
the assassin, has sullied, with indelible disgrace, the character of the
saint. The successor of the apostles might have inculcated with decent
firmness the guilt of blood, and the necessity of repentance; he is
content to celebrate the deliverance of the people and the fall of the
oppressor; to rejoice that the piety and benignity of Phocas have been
raised by Providence to the Imperial throne; to pray that his hands may
be strengthened against all his enemies; and to express a wish,
perhaps a prophecy, that, after a long and triumphant reign, he may be
transferred from a temporal to an everlasting kingdom. I have already
traced the steps of a revolution so pleasing, in Gregory's opinion,
both to heaven and earth; and Phocas does not appear less hateful in
the exercise than in the acquisition of power The pencil of an impartial
historian has delineated the portrait of a monster: his diminutive and
deformed person, the closeness of his shaggy eyebrows, his red hair, his
beardless chin, and his cheek disfigured and discolored by a formidable
scar. Ignorant of letters, of laws, and even of arms, he indulged in
the supreme rank a more ample privilege of lust and drunkenness; and his
brutal pleasures were either injurious to his subjects or disgraceful
to himself. Without assuming the office of a prince, he renounced the
profession of a soldier; and the reign of Phocas afflicted Europe with
ignominious peace, and Asia with desolating war. His savage temper was
inflamed by passion, hardened by fear, and exasperated by resistance
of reproach. The flight of Theodosius to the Persian court had been
intercepted by a rapid pursuit, or a deceitful message: he was beheaded
at Nice, and the last hours of the young prince were soothed by the
comforts of religion and the consciousness of innocence. Yet his phantom
disturbed the repose of the usurper: a whisper was circulated through
the East, that the son of Maurice was still alive: the people expected
their avenger, and the widow and daughters of the late emperor would
have adopted as their son and brother the vilest of mankind. In the
massacre of the Imperial family, the mercy, or rather the discretion, of
Phocas had spared these unhappy females, and they were decently confined
to a private house. But the spirit of the empress Constantina, still
mindful of her father, her husband, and her sons, aspired to freedom
and revenge. At the dead of night, she escaped to the sanctuary of St.
Sophia; but her tears, and the gold of her associate Germanus, were
insufficient to provoke an insurrection. Her life was forfeited to
revenge, and even to justice: but the patriarch obtained and pledged an
oath for her safety: a monastery was allotted for her prison, and the
widow of Maurice accepted and abused the lenity of his assassin.
The discovery or the suspicion of a second conspiracy, dissolved the
engagements, and rekindled the fury, of Phocas. A matron who commanded
the respect and pity of mankind, the daughter, wife, and mother of
emperors, was tortured like the vilest malefactor, to force a confession
of her designs and associates; and the empress Constantina, with her
three innocent daughters, was beheaded at Chalcedon, on the same ground
which had been stained with the blood of her husband and five sons.
After such an example, it would be superfluous to enumerate the names
and sufferings of meaner victims. Their condemnation was seldom preceded
by the forms of trial, and their punishment was embittered by the
refinements of cruelty: their eyes were pierced, their tongues were torn
from the root, the hands and feet were amputated; some expired under the
lash, others in the flames; others again were transfixed with arrows;
and a simple speedy death was mercy which they could rarely obtain. The
hippodrome, the sacred asylum of the pleasures and the liberty of the
Romans, was polluted with heads and limbs, and mangled bodies; and the
companions of Phocas were the most sensible, that neither his favor, nor
their services, could protect them from a tyrant, the worthy rival of
the Caligulas and Domitians of the first age of the empire.



Chapter XLVI: Troubles In Persia.--Part III.

A daughter of Phocas, his only child, was given in marriage to the
patrician Crispus, and the _royal_ images of the bride and bridegroom
were indiscreetly placed in the circus, by the side of the emperor. The
father must desire that his posterity should inherit the fruit of his
crimes, but the monarch was offended by this premature and popular
association: the tribunes of the green faction, who accused the
officious error of their sculptors, were condemned to instant death:
their lives were granted to the prayers of the people; but Crispus might
reasonably doubt, whether a jealous usurper could forget and pardon
his involuntary competition. The green faction was alienated by the
ingratitude of Phocas and the loss of their privileges; every province
of the empire was ripe for rebellion; and Heraclius, exarch of Africa,
persisted above two years in refusing all tribute and obedience to the
centurion who disgraced the throne of Constantinople. By the secret
emissaries of Crispus and the senate, the independent exarch was
solicited to save and to govern his country; but his ambition was
chilled by age, and he resigned the dangerous enterprise to his
son Heraclius, and to Nicetas, the son of Gregory, his friend and
lieutenant. The powers of Africa were armed by the two adventurous
youths; they agreed that the one should navigate the fleet from Carthage
to Constantinople, that the other should lead an army through Egypt and
Asia, and that the Imperial purple should be the reward of diligence and
success. A faint rumor of their undertaking was conveyed to the ears of
Phocas, and the wife and mother of the younger Heraclius were secured
as the hostages of his faith: but the treacherous heart of Crispus
extenuated the distant peril, the means of defence were neglected or
delayed, and the tyrant supinely slept till the African navy cast anchor
in the Hellespont. Their standard was joined at Abidus by the fugitives
and exiles who thirsted for revenge; the ships of Heraclius, whose lofty
masts were adorned with the holy symbols of religion, steered their
triumphant course through the Propontis; and Phocas beheld from the
windows of the palace his approaching and inevitable fate. The green
faction was tempted, by gifts and promises, to oppose a feeble and
fruitless resistance to the landing of the Africans: but the people, and
even the guards, were determined by the well-timed defection of Crispus;
and they tyrant was seized by a private enemy, who boldly invaded the
solitude of the palace. Stripped of the diadem and purple, clothed in a
vile habit, and loaded with chains, he was transported in a small boat
to the Imperial galley of Heraclius, who reproached him with the crimes
of his abominable reign. "Wilt thou govern better?" were the last words
of the despair of Phocas. After suffering each variety of insult and
torture, his head was severed from his body, the mangled trunk was cast
into the flames, and the same treatment was inflicted on the statues
of the vain usurper, and the seditious banner of the green faction. The
voice of the clergy, the senate, and the people, invited Heraclius to
ascend the throne which he had purified from guilt and ignominy; after
some graceful hesitation, he yielded to their entreaties. His coronation
was accompanied by that of his wife Eudoxia; and their posterity, till
the fourth generation, continued to reign over the empire of the East.
The voyage of Heraclius had been easy and prosperous; the tedious march
of Nicetas was not accomplished before the decision of the contest:
but he submitted without a murmur to the fortune of his friend, and
his laudable intentions were rewarded with an equestrian statue, and a
daughter of the emperor. It was more difficult to trust the fidelity of
Crispus, whose recent services were recompensed by the command of the
Cappadocian army. His arrogance soon provoked, and seemed to excuse,
the ingratitude of his new sovereign. In the presence of the senate, the
son-in-law of Phocas was condemned to embrace the monastic life; and the
sentence was justified by the weighty observation of Heraclius, that the
man who had betrayed his father could never be faithful to his friend.

Even after his death the republic was afflicted by the crimes of Phocas,
which armed with a pious cause the most formidable of her enemies.
According to the friendly and equal forms of the Byzantine and Persian
courts, he announced his exaltation to the throne; and his ambassador
Lilius, who had presented him with the heads of Maurice and his sons,
was the best qualified to describe the circumstances of the tragic
scene. However it might be varnished by fiction or sophistry, Chosroes
turned with horror from the assassin, imprisoned the pretended envoy,
disclaimed the usurper, and declared himself the avenger of his father
and benefactor. The sentiments of grief and resentment, which humanity
would feel, and honor would dictate, promoted on this occasion the
interest of the Persian king; and his interest was powerfully magnified
by the national and religious prejudices of the Magi and satraps. In a
strain of artful adulation, which assumed the language of freedom, they
presumed to censure the excess of his gratitude and friendship for the
Greeks; a nation with whom it was dangerous to conclude either peace or
alliance; whose superstition was devoid of truth and justice, and who
must be incapable of any virtue, since they could perpetrate the most
atrocious of crimes, the impious murder of their sovereign. For the
crime of an ambitious centurion, the nation which he oppressed was
chastised with the calamities of war; and the same calamities, at the
end of twenty years, were retaliated and redoubled on the heads of the
Persians. The general who had restored Chosroes to the throne still
commanded in the East; and the name of Narses was the formidable
sound with which the Assyrian mothers were accustomed to terrify their
infants. It is not improbable, that a native subject of Persia should
encourage his master and his friend to deliver and possess the provinces
of Asia. It is still more probable, that Chosroes should animate his
troops by the assurance that the sword which they dreaded the most would
remain in its scabbard, or be drawn in their favor. The hero could not
depend on the faith of a tyrant; and the tyrant was conscious how
little he deserved the obedience of a hero. Narses was removed from his
military command; he reared an independent standard at Hierapolis, in
Syria: he was betrayed by fallacious promises, and burnt alive in the
market-place of Constantinople. Deprived of the only chief whom they
could fear or esteem, the bands which he had led to victory were twice
broken by the cavalry, trampled by the elephants, and pierced by the
arrows of the Barbarians; and a great number of the captives were
beheaded on the field of battle by the sentence of the victor, who might
justly condemn these seditious mercenaries as the authors or accomplices
of the death of Maurice. Under the reign of Phocas, the fortifications
of Merdin, Dara, Amida, and Edessa, were successively besieged, reduced,
and destroyed, by the Persian monarch: he passed the Euphrates, occupied
the Syrian cities, Hierapolis, Chalcis, and Berrhæa or Aleppo, and soon
encompassed the walls of Antioch with his irresistible arms. The rapid
tide of success discloses the decay of the empire, the incapacity of
Phocas, and the disaffection of his subjects; and Chosroes provided
a decent apology for their submission or revolt, by an impostor, who
attended his camp as the son of Maurice and the lawful heir of the
monarchy.

The first intelligence from the East which Heraclius received, was that
of the loss of Antioch; but the aged metropolis, so often overturned
by earthquakes, and pillaged by the enemy, could supply but a small
and languid stream of treasure and blood. The Persians were equally
successful, and more fortunate, in the sack of Cæsarea, the capital of
Cappadocia; and as they advanced beyond the ramparts of the frontier,
the boundary of ancient war, they found a less obstinate resistance and
a more plentiful harvest. The pleasant vale of Damascus has been adorned
in every age with a royal city: her obscure felicity has hitherto
escaped the historian of the Roman empire: but Chosroes reposed his
troops in the paradise of Damascus before he ascended the hills of
Libanus, or invaded the cities of the Phnician coast. The conquest of
Jerusalem, which had been meditated by Nushirvan, was achieved by the
zeal and avarice of his grandson; the ruin of the proudest monument of
Christianity was vehemently urged by the intolerant spirit of the Magi;
and he could enlist for this holy warfare with an army of six-and-twenty
thousand Jews, whose furious bigotry might compensate, in some degree,
for the want of valor and discipline. After the reduction of Galilee,
and the region beyond the Jordan, whose resistance appears to have
delayed the fate of the capital, Jerusalem itself was taken by assault.
The sepulchre of Christ, and the stately churches of Helena and
Constantine, were consumed, or at least damaged, by the flames; the
devout offerings of three hundred years were rifled in one sacrilegious
day; the Patriarch Zachariah, and the _true cross_, were transported
into Persia; and the massacre of ninety thousand Christians is imputed
to the Jews and Arabs, who swelled the disorder of the Persian march.
The fugitives of Palestine were entertained at Alexandria by the charity
of John the Archbishop, who is distinguished among a crowd of saints
by the epithet of _almsgiver_: and the revenues of the church, with a
treasure of three hundred thousand pounds, were restored to the true
proprietors, the poor of every country and every denomination. But
Egypt itself, the only province which had been exempt, since the time
of Diocletian, from foreign and domestic war, was again subdued by the
successors of Cyrus. Pelusium, the key of that impervious country, was
surprised by the cavalry of the Persians: they passed, with impunity,
the innumerable channels of the Delta, and explored the long valley
of the Nile, from the pyramids of Memphis to the confines of Æthiopia.
Alexandria might have been relieved by a naval force, but the archbishop
and the præfect embarked for Cyprus; and Chosroes entered the second
city of the empire, which still preserved a wealthy remnant of industry
and commerce. His western trophy was erected, not on the walls of
Carthage, but in the neighborhood of Tripoli; the Greek colonies of
Cyrene were finally extirpated; and the conqueror, treading in the
footsteps of Alexander, returned in triumph through the sands of the
Libyan desert. In the same campaign, another army advanced from the
Euphrates to the Thracian Bosphorus; Chalcedon surrendered after a long
siege, and a Persian camp was maintained above ten years in the presence
of Constantinople. The sea-coast of Pontus, the city of Ancyra, and the
Isle of Rhodes, are enumerated among the last conquests of the great
king; and if Chosroes had possessed any maritime power, his boundless
ambition would have spread slavery and desolation over the provinces of
Europe.

From the long-disputed banks of the Tigris and Euphrates, the reign of
the grandson of Nushirvan was suddenly extended to the Hellespont and
the Nile, the ancient limits of the Persian monarchy. But the provinces,
which had been fashioned by the habits of six hundred years to the
virtues and vices of the Roman government, supported with reluctance
the yoke of the Barbarians. The idea of a republic was kept alive by the
institutions, or at least by the writings, of the Greeks and Romans, and
the subjects of Heraclius had been educated to pronounce the words of
liberty and law. But it has always been the pride and policy of Oriental
princes to display the titles and attributes of their omnipotence; to
upbraid a nation of slaves with their true name and abject condition,
and to enforce, by cruel and insolent threats, the rigor of their
absolute commands. The Christians of the East were scandalized by the
worship of fire, and the impious doctrine of the two principles: the
Magi were not less intolerant than the bishops; and the martyrdom of
some native Persians, who had deserted the religion of Zoroaster, was
conceived to be the prelude of a fierce and general persecution. By the
oppressive laws of Justinian, the adversaries of the church were made
the enemies of the state; the alliance of the Jews, Nestorians, and
Jacobites, had contributed to the success of Chosroes, and his partial
favor to the sectaries provoked the hatred and fears of the Catholic
clergy. Conscious of their fear and hatred, the Persian conqueror
governed his new subjects with an iron sceptre; and, as if he suspected
the stability of his dominion, he exhausted their wealth by exorbitant
tributes and licentious rapine despoiled or demolished the temples of
the East; and transported to his hereditary realms the gold, the silver,
the precious marbles, the arts, and the artists of the Asiatic cities.
In the obscure picture of the calamities of the empire, it is not easy
to discern the figure of Chosroes himself, to separate his actions from
those of his lieutenants, or to ascertain his personal merit in the
general blaze of glory and magnificence. He enjoyed with ostentation the
fruits of victory, and frequently retired from the hardships of war to
the luxury of the palace. But in the space of twenty-four years, he was
deterred by superstition or resentment from approaching the gates of
Ctesiphon: and his favorite residence of Artemita, or Dastagerd,
was situate beyond the Tigris, about sixty miles to the north of the
capital. The adjacent pastures were covered with flocks and herds: the
paradise or park was replenished with pheasants, peacocks, ostriches,
roebucks, and wild boars, and the noble game of lions and tigers was
sometimes turned loose for the bolder pleasures of the chase. Nine
hundred and sixty elephants were maintained for the use or splendor of
the great king: his tents and baggage were carried into the field by
twelve thousand great camels and eight thousand of a smaller size; and
the royal stables were filled with six thousand mules and horses, among
whom the names of Shebdiz and Barid are renowned for their speed or
beauty. Six thousand guards successively mounted before the palace
gate; the service of the interior apartments was performed by twelve
thousand slaves, and in the number of three thousand virgins, the
fairest of Asia, some happy concubine might console her master for the
age or the indifference of Sira. The various treasures of gold, silver,
gems, silks, and aromatics, were deposited in a hundred subterraneous
vaults and the chamber _Badaverd_ denoted the accidental gift of the
winds which had wafted the spoils of Heraclius into one of the Syrian
harbors of his rival. The vice of flattery, and perhaps of fiction, is
not ashamed to compute the thirty thousand rich hangings that adorned
the walls; the forty thousand columns of silver, or more probably of
marble, and plated wood, that supported the roof; and the thousand
globes of gold suspended in the dome, to imitate the motions of the
planets and the constellations of the zodiac. While the Persian monarch
contemplated the wonders of his art and power, he received an epistle
from an obscure citizen of Mecca, inviting him to acknowledge Mahomet
as the apostle of God. He rejected the invitation, and tore the epistle.
"It is thus," exclaimed the Arabian prophet, "that God will tear the
kingdom, and reject the supplications of Chosroes." Placed on the verge
of the two great empires of the East, Mahomet observed with secret
joy the progress of their mutual destruction; and in the midst of the
Persian triumphs, he ventured to foretell, that before many years should
elapse, victory should again return to the banners of the Romans.

At the time when this prediction is said to have been delivered, no
prophecy could be more distant from its accomplishment, since the first
twelve years of Heraclius announced the approaching dissolution of the
empire. If the motives of Chosroes had been pure and honorable, he
must have ended the quarrel with the death of Phocas, and he would have
embraced, as his best ally, the fortunate African who had so generously
avenged the injuries of his benefactor Maurice. The prosecution of the
war revealed the true character of the Barbarian; and the suppliant
embassies of Heraclius to beseech his clemency, that he would spare the
innocent, accept a tribute, and give peace to the world, were rejected
with contemptuous silence or insolent menace. Syria, Egypt, and the
provinces of Asia, were subdued by the Persian arms, while Europe, from
the confines of Istria to the long wall of Thrace, was oppressed by the
Avars, unsatiated with the blood and rapine of the Italian war. They had
coolly massacred their male captives in the sacred field of Pannonia;
the women and children were reduced to servitude, and the noblest
virgins were abandoned to the promiscuous lust of the Barbarians. The
amorous matron who opened the gates of Friuli passed a short night in
the arms of her royal lover; the next evening, Romilda was condemned to
the embraces of twelve Avars, and the third day the Lombard princess was
impaled in the sight of the camp, while the chagan observed with a cruel
smile, that such a husband was the fit recompense of her lewdness and
perfidy. By these implacable enemies, Heraclius, on either side, was
insulted and besieged: and the Roman empire was reduced to the walls of
Constantinople, with the remnant of Greece, Italy, and Africa, and some
maritime cities, from Tyre to Trebizond, of the Asiatic coast. After the
loss of Egypt, the capital was afflicted by famine and pestilence;
and the emperor, incapable of resistance, and hopeless of relief,
had resolved to transfer his person and government to the more secure
residence of Carthage. His ships were already laden with the treasures
of the palace; but his flight was arrested by the patriarch, who armed
the powers of religion in the defence of his country; led Heraclius to
the altar of St. Sophia, and extorted a solemn oath, that he would live
and die with the people whom God had intrusted to his care. The chagan
was encamped in the plains of Thrace; but he dissembled his perfidious
designs, and solicited an interview with the emperor near the town of
Heraclea. Their reconciliation was celebrated with equestrian games; the
senate and people, in their gayest apparel, resorted to the festival
of peace; and the Avars beheld, with envy and desire, the spectacle of
Roman luxury. On a sudden the hippodrome was encompassed by the
Scythian cavalry, who had pressed their secret and nocturnal march: the
tremendous sound of the chagan's whip gave the signal of the assault,
and Heraclius, wrapping his diadem round his arm, was saved with extreme
hazard, by the fleetness of his horse. So rapid was the pursuit, that
the Avars almost entered the golden gate of Constantinople with the
flying crowds: but the plunder of the suburbs rewarded their treason,
and they transported beyond the Danube two hundred and seventy thousand
captives. On the shore of Chalcedon, the emperor held a safer conference
with a more honorable foe, who, before Heraclius descended from his
galley, saluted with reverence and pity the majesty of the purple. The
friendly offer of Sain, the Persian general, to conduct an embassy to
the presence of the great king, was accepted with the warmest gratitude,
and the prayer for pardon and peace was humbly presented by the
Prætorian præfect, the præfect of the city, and one of the first
ecclesiastics of the patriarchal church. But the lieutenant of Chosroes
had fatally mistaken the intentions of his master. "It was not an
embassy," said the tyrant of Asia, "it was the person of Heraclius,
bound in chains, that he should have brought to the foot of my throne.
I will never give peace to the emperor of Rome, till he had abjured his
crucified God, and embraced the worship of the sun." Sain was flayed
alive, according to the inhuman practice of his country; and the
separate and rigorous confinement of the ambassadors violated the law of
nations, and the faith of an express stipulation. Yet the experience
of six years at length persuaded the Persian monarch to renounce the
conquest of Constantinople, and to specify the annual tribute or ransom
of the Roman empire; a thousand talents of gold, a thousand talents
of silver, a thousand silk robes, a thousand horses, and a thousand
virgins. Heraclius subscribed these ignominious terms; but the time and
space which he obtained to collect such treasures from the poverty of
the East, was industriously employed in the preparations of a bold and
desperate attack.

Of the characters conspicuous in history, that of Heraclius is one of
the most extraordinary and inconsistent. In the first and last years of
a long reign, the emperor appears to be the slave of sloth, of pleasure,
or of superstition, the careless and impotent spectator of the public
calamities. But the languid mists of the morning and evening are
separated by the brightness of the meridian sun; the Arcadius of the
palace arose the Cæsar of the camp; and the honor of Rome and Heraclius
was gloriously retrieved by the exploits and trophies of six adventurous
campaigns. It was the duty of the Byzantine historians to have revealed
the causes of his slumber and vigilance. At this distance we can
only conjecture, that he was endowed with more personal courage than
political resolution; that he was detained by the charms, and perhaps
the arts, of his niece Martina, with whom, after the death of Eudocia,
he contracted an incestuous marriage; and that he yielded to the base
advice of the counsellors, who urged, as a fundamental law, that the
life of the emperor should never be exposed in the field. Perhaps he was
awakened by the last insolent demand of the Persian conqueror; but at
the moment when Heraclius assumed the spirit of a hero, the only hopes
of the Romans were drawn from the vicissitudes of fortune, which might
threaten the proud prosperity of Chosroes, and must be favorable to
those who had attained the lowest period of depression. To provide for
the expenses of war, was the first care of the emperor; and for the
purpose of collecting the tribute, he was allowed to solicit the
benevolence of the eastern provinces. But the revenue no longer flowed
in the usual channels; the credit of an arbitrary prince is annihilated
by his power; and the courage of Heraclius was first displayed in daring
to borrow the consecrated wealth of churches, under the solemn vow of
restoring, with usury, whatever he had been compelled to employ in the
service of religion and the empire. The clergy themselves appear to
have sympathized with the public distress; and the discreet patriarch of
Alexandria, without admitting the precedent of sacrilege, assisted
his sovereign by the miraculous or seasonable revelation of a secret
treasure. Of the soldiers who had conspired with Phocas, only two were
found to have survived the stroke of time and of the Barbarians; the
loss, even of these seditious veterans, was imperfectly supplied by the
new levies of Heraclius, and the gold of the sanctuary united, in the
same camp, the names, and arms, and languages of the East and West.
He would have been content with the neutrality of the Avars; and his
friendly entreaty, that the chagan would act, not as the enemy, but
as the guardian, of the empire, was accompanied with a more persuasive
donative of two hundred thousand pieces of gold. Two days after the
festival of Easter, the emperor, exchanging his purple for the simple
garb of a penitent and warrior, gave the signal of his departure. To the
faith of the people Heraclius recommended his children; the civil
and military powers were vested in the most deserving hands, and
the discretion of the patriarch and senate was authorized to save or
surrender the city, if they should be oppressed in his absence by the
superior forces of the enemy.

The neighboring heights of Chalcedon were covered with tents and arms:
but if the new levies of Heraclius had been rashly led to the attack,
the victory of the Persians in the sight of Constantinople might have
been the last day of the Roman empire. As imprudent would it have been
to advance into the provinces of Asia, leaving their innumerable cavalry
to intercept his convoys, and continually to hang on the lassitude and
disorder of his rear. But the Greeks were still masters of the sea;
a fleet of galleys, transports, and store-ships, was assembled in the
harbor; the Barbarians consented to embark; a steady wind carried them
through the Hellespont the western and southern coast of Asia Minor lay
on their left hand; the spirit of their chief was first displayed in a
storm, and even the eunuchs of his train were excited to suffer and
to work by the example of their master. He landed his troops on the
confines of Syria and Cilicia, in the Gulf of Scanderoon, where the
coast suddenly turns to the south; and his discernment was expressed
in the choice of this important post. From all sides, the scattered
garrisons of the maritime cities and the mountains might repair with
speed and safety to his Imperial standard. The natural fortifications of
Cilicia protected, and even concealed, the camp of Heraclius, which was
pitched near Issus, on the same ground where Alexander had vanquished
the host of Darius. The angle which the emperor occupied was deeply
indented into a vast semicircle of the Asiatic, Armenian, and Syrian
provinces; and to whatsoever point of the circumference he should direct
his attack, it was easy for him to dissemble his own motions, and to
prevent those of the enemy. In the camp of Issus, the Roman general
reformed the sloth and disorder of the veterans, and educated the new
recruits in the knowledge and practice of military virtue. Unfolding the
miraculous image of Christ, he urged them to _revenge_ the holy altars
which had been profaned by the worshippers of fire; addressing them by
the endearing appellations of sons and brethren, he deplored the public
and private wrongs of the republic. The subjects of a monarch were
persuaded that they fought in the cause of freedom; and a similar
enthusiasm was communicated to the foreign mercenaries, who must have
viewed with equal indifference the interest of Rome and of Persia.
Heraclius himself, with the skill and patience of a centurion,
inculcated the lessons of the school of tactics, and the soldiers were
assiduously trained in the use of their weapons, and the exercises and
evolutions of the field. The cavalry and infantry in light or heavy
armor were divided into two parties; the trumpets were fixed in the
centre, and their signals directed the march, the charge, the retreat or
pursuit; the direct or oblique order, the deep or extended phalanx; to
represent in fictitious combat the operations of genuine war. Whatever
hardships the emperor imposed on the troops, he inflicted with equal
severity on himself; their labor, their diet, their sleep, were measured
by the inflexible rules of discipline; and, without despising the enemy,
they were taught to repose an implicit confidence in their own valor
and the wisdom of their leader. Cilicia was soon encompassed with the
Persian arms; but their cavalry hesitated to enter the defiles of Mount
Taurus, till they were circumvented by the evolutions of Heraclius, who
insensibly gained their rear, whilst he appeared to present his front in
order of battle. By a false motion, which seemed to threaten Armenia, he
drew them, against their wishes, to a general action. They were tempted
by the artful disorder of his camp; but when they advanced to
combat, the ground, the sun, and the expectation of both armies, were
unpropitious to the Barbarians; the Romans successfully repeated their
tactics in a field of battle, and the event of the day declared to
the world, that the Persians were not invincible, and that a hero was
invested with the purple. Strong in victory and fame, Heraclius boldly
ascended the heights of Mount Taurus, directed his march through the
plains of Cappadocia, and established his troops, for the winter season,
in safe and plentiful quarters on the banks of the River Halys. His
soul was superior to the vanity of entertaining Constantinople with an
imperfect triumph; but the presence of the emperor was indispensably
required to soothe the restless and rapacious spirit of the Avars.

Since the days of Scipio and Hannibal, no bolder enterprise has been
attempted than that which Heraclius achieved for the deliverance of the
empire He permitted the Persians to oppress for a while the provinces,
and to insult with impunity the capital of the East; while the Roman
emperor explored his perilous way through the Black Sea, and the
mountains of Armenia, penetrated into the heart of Persia, and recalled
the armies of the great king to the defence of their bleeding country.
With a select band of five thousand soldiers, Heraclius sailed from
Constantinople to Trebizond; assembled his forces which had wintered
in the Pontic regions; and, from the mouth of the Phasis to the Caspian
Sea, encouraged his subjects and allies to march with the successor of
Constantine under the faithful and victorious banner of the cross. When
the legions of Lucullus and Pompey first passed the Euphrates, they
blushed at their easy victory over the natives of Armenia. But the long
experience of war had hardened the minds and bodies of that effeminate
people; their zeal and bravery were approved in the service of a
declining empire; they abhorred and feared the usurpation of the house
of Sassan, and the memory of persecution envenomed their pious hatred
of the enemies of Christ. The limits of Armenia, as it had been ceded to
the emperor Maurice, extended as far as the Araxes: the river submitted
to the indignity of a bridge, and Heraclius, in the footsteps of Mark
Antony, advanced towards the city of Tauris or Gandzaca, the ancient and
modern capital of one of the provinces of Media. At the head of forty
thousand men, Chosroes himself had returned from some distant expedition
to oppose the progress of the Roman arms; but he retreated on the
approach of Heraclius, declining the generous alternative of peace or
of battle. Instead of half a million of inhabitants, which have been
ascribed to Tauris under the reign of the Sophys, the city contained no
more than three thousand houses; but the value of the royal treasures
was enhanced by a tradition, that they were the spoils of Crsus, which
had been transported by Cyrus from the citadel of Sardes. The rapid
conquests of Heraclius were suspended only by the winter season; a
motive of prudence, or superstition, determined his retreat into the
province of Albania, along the shores of the Caspian; and his tents were
most probably pitched in the plains of Mogan, the favorite encampment of
Oriental princes. In the course of this successful inroad, he signalized
the zeal and revenge of a Christian emperor: at his command, the
soldiers extinguished the fire, and destroyed the temples, of the Magi;
the statues of Chosroes, who aspired to divine honors, were abandoned to
the flames; and the ruins of Thebarma or Ormia, which had given birth
to Zoroaster himself, made some atonement for the injuries of the
holy sepulchre. A purer spirit of religion was shown in the relief and
deliverance of fifty thousand captives. Heraclius was rewarded by their
tears and grateful acclamations; but this wise measure, which spread the
fame of his benevolence, diffused the murmurs of the Persians against
the pride and obstinacy of their own sovereign.



Chapter XLVI: Troubles In Persia.--Part IV.

Amidst the glories of the succeeding campaign, Heraclius is almost lost
to our eyes, and to those of the Byzantine historians. From the spacious
and fruitful plains of Albania, the emperor appears to follow the chain
of Hyrcanian Mountains, to descend into the province of Media or Irak,
and to carry his victorious arms as far as the royal cities of Casbin
and Ispahan, which had never been approached by a Roman conqueror.
Alarmed by the danger of his kingdom, the powers of Chosroes were
already recalled from the Nile and the Bosphorus, and three formidable
armies surrounded, in a distant and hostile land, the camp of the
emperor. The Colchian allies prepared to desert his standard; and the
fears of the bravest veterans were expressed, rather than concealed,
by their desponding silence. "Be not terrified," said the intrepid
Heraclius, "by the multitude of your foes. With the aid of Heaven, one
Roman may triumph over a thousand Barbarians. But if we devote our
lives for the salvation of our brethren, we shall obtain the crown of
martyrdom, and our immortal reward will be liberally paid by God and
posterity." These magnanimous sentiments were supported by the vigor of
his actions. He repelled the threefold attack of the Persians, improved
the divisions of their chiefs, and, by a well-concerted train of
marches, retreats, and successful actions, finally chased them from the
field into the fortified cities of Media and Assyria. In the severity
of the winter season, Sarbaraza deemed himself secure in the walls of
Salban: he was surprised by the activity of Heraclius, who divided his
troops, and performed a laborious march in the silence of the night. The
flat roofs of the houses were defended with useless valor against the
darts and torches of the Romans: the satraps and nobles of Persia, with
their wives and children, and the flower of their martial youth, were
either slain or made prisoners. The general escaped by a precipitate
flight, but his golden armor was the prize of the conqueror; and the
soldiers of Heraclius enjoyed the wealth and repose which they had so
nobly deserved. On the return of spring, the emperor traversed in seven
days the mountains of Curdistan, and passed without resistance the
rapid stream of the Tigris. Oppressed by the weight of their spoils and
captives, the Roman army halted under the walls of Amida; and Heraclius
informed the senate of Constantinople of his safety and success, which
they had already felt by the retreat of the besiegers. The bridges of
the Euphrates were destroyed by the Persians; but as soon as the emperor
had discovered a ford, they hastily retired to defend the banks of the
Sarus, in Cilicia. That river, an impetuous torrent, was about three
hundred feet broad; the bridge was fortified with strong turrets; and
the banks were lined with Barbarian archers. After a bloody conflict,
which continued till the evening, the Romans prevailed in the assault;
and a Persian of gigantic size was slain and thrown into the Sarus
by the hand of the emperor himself. The enemies were dispersed and
dismayed; Heraclius pursued his march to Sebaste in Cappadocia; and at
the expiration of three years, the same coast of the Euxine applauded
his return from a long and victorious expedition.

Instead of skirmishing on the frontier, the two monarchs who disputed
the empire of the East aimed their desperate strokes at the heart of
their rival. The military force of Persia was wasted by the marches and
combats of twenty years, and many of the veterans, who had survived
the perils of the sword and the climate, were still detained in the
fortresses of Egypt and Syria. But the revenge and ambition of Chosroes
exhausted his kingdom; and the new levies of subjects, strangers, and
slaves, were divided into three formidable bodies. The first army of
fifty thousand men, illustrious by the ornament and title of the
_golden spears_, was destined to march against Heraclius; the second
was stationed to prevent his junction with the troops of his brother
Theodore's; and the third was commanded to besiege Constantinople, and
to second the operations of the chagan, with whom the Persian king had
ratified a treaty of alliance and partition. Sarbar, the general of the
third army, penetrated through the provinces of Asia to the well-known
camp of Chalcedon, and amused himself with the destruction of the sacred
and profane buildings of the Asiatic suburbs, while he impatiently
waited the arrival of his Scythian friends on the opposite side of the
Bosphorus. On the twenty-ninth of June, thirty thousand Barbarians, the
vanguard of the Avars, forced the long wall, and drove into the capital
a promiscuous crowd of peasants, citizens, and soldiers. Fourscore
thousand of his native subjects, and of the vassal tribes of Gepidæ,
Russians, Bulgarians, and Sclavonians, advanced under the standard of
the chagan; a month was spent in marches and negotiations, but the whole
city was invested on the thirty-first of July, from the suburbs of
Pera and Galata to the Blachernæ and seven towers; and the inhabitants
descried with terror the flaming signals of the European and Asiatic
shores. In the mean while, the magistrates of Constantinople repeatedly
strove to purchase the retreat of the chagan; but their deputies were
rejected and insulted; and he suffered the patricians to stand before
his throne, while the Persian envoys, in silk robes, were seated by his
side. "You see," said the haughty Barbarian, "the proofs of my perfect
union with the great king; and his lieutenant is ready to send into
my camp a select band of three thousand warriors. Presume no longer to
tempt your master with a partial and inadequate ransom your wealth and
your city are the only presents worthy of my acceptance. For yourselves,
I shall permit you to depart, each with an under-garment and a shirt;
and, at my entreaty, my friend Sarbar will not refuse a passage through
his lines. Your absent prince, even now a captive or a fugitive, has
left Constantinople to its fate; nor can you escape the arms of the
Avars and Persians, unless you could soar into the air like birds,
unless like fishes you could dive into the waves." During ten successive
days, the capital was assaulted by the Avars, who had made some progress
in the science of attack; they advanced to sap or batter the wall,
under the cover of the impenetrable tortoise; their engines discharged
a perpetual volley of stones and darts; and twelve lofty towers of wood
exalted the combatants to the height of the neighboring ramparts. But
the senate and people were animated by the spirit of Heraclius, who
had detached to their relief a body of twelve thousand cuirassiers; the
powers of fire and mechanics were used with superior art and success in
the defence of Constantinople; and the galleys, with two and three ranks
of oars, commanded the Bosphorus, and rendered the Persians the idle
spectators of the defeat of their allies. The Avars were repulsed; a
fleet of Sclavonian canoes was destroyed in the harbor; the vassals
of the chagan threatened to desert, his provisions were exhausted, and
after burning his engines, he gave the signal of a slow and formidable
retreat. The devotion of the Romans ascribed this signal deliverance to
the Virgin Mary; but the mother of Christ would surely have condemned
their inhuman murder of the Persian envoys, who were entitled to the
rights of humanity, if they were not protected by the laws of nations.

After the division of his army, Heraclius prudently retired to the banks
of the Phasis, from whence he maintained a defensive war against the
fifty thousand gold spears of Persia. His anxiety was relieved by the
deliverance of Constantinople; his hopes were confirmed by a victory of
his brother Theodorus; and to the hostile league of Chosroes with the
Avars, the Roman emperor opposed the useful and honorable alliance of
the Turks. At his liberal invitation, the horde of Chozars transported
their tents from the plains of the Volga to the mountains of Georgia;
Heraclius received them in the neighborhood of Teflis, and the khan with
his nobles dismounted from their horses, if we may credit the Greeks,
and fell prostrate on the ground, to adore the purple of the Cæsars.
Such voluntary homage and important aid were entitled to the warmest
acknowledgments; and the emperor, taking off his own diadem, placed it
on the head of the Turkish prince, whom he saluted with a tender embrace
and the appellation of son. After a sumptuous banquet, he presented
Ziebel with the plate and ornaments, the gold, the gems, and the silk,
which had been used at the Imperial table, and, with his own hand,
distributed rich jewels and ear-rings to his new allies. In a
secret interview, he produced the portrait of his daughter Eudocia,
condescended to flatter the Barbarian with the promise of a fair and
august bride; obtained an immediate succor of forty thousand horse, and
negotiated a strong diversion of the Turkish arms on the side of the
Oxus. The Persians, in their turn, retreated with precipitation; in the
camp of Edessa, Heraclius reviewed an army of seventy thousand Romans
and strangers; and some months were successfully employed in the
recovery of the cities of Syria, Mesopotamia and Armenia, whose
fortifications had been imperfectly restored. Sarbar still maintained
the important station of Chalcedon; but the jealousy of Chosroes, or the
artifice of Heraclius, soon alienated the mind of that powerful satrap
from the service of his king and country. A messenger was intercepted
with a real or fictitious mandate to the cadarigan, or second in
command, directing him to send, without delay, to the throne, the head
of a guilty or unfortunate general. The despatches were transmitted to
Sarbar himself; and as soon as he read the sentence of his own death,
he dexterously inserted the names of four hundred officers, assembled a
military council, and asked the _cadarigan_ whether he was prepared to
execute the commands of their tyrant. The Persians unanimously declared,
that Chosroes had forfeited the sceptre; a separate treaty was concluded
with the government of Constantinople; and if some considerations
of honor or policy restrained Sarbar from joining the standard of
Heraclius, the emperor was assured that he might prosecute, without
interruption, his designs of victory and peace.

Deprived of his firmest support, and doubtful of the fidelity of his
subjects, the greatness of Chosroes was still conspicuous in its ruins.
The number of five hundred thousand may be interpreted as an Oriental
metaphor, to describe the men and arms, the horses and elephants, that
covered Media and Assyria against the invasion of Heraclius. Yet the
Romans boldly advanced from the Araxes to the Tigris, and the timid
prudence of Rhazates was content to follow them by forced marches
through a desolate country, till he received a peremptory mandate to
risk the fate of Persia in a decisive battle. Eastward of the Tigris,
at the end of the bridge of Mosul, the great Nineveh had formerly
been erected: the city, and even the ruins of the city, had long
since disappeared; the vacant space afforded a spacious field for the
operations of the two armies. But these operations are neglected by the
Byzantine historians, and, like the authors of epic poetry and romance,
they ascribe the victory, not to the military conduct, but to the
personal valor, of their favorite hero. On this memorable day,
Heraclius, on his horse Phallas, surpassed the bravest of his warriors:
his lip was pierced with a spear; the steed was wounded in the thigh;
but he carried his master safe and victorious through the triple phalanx
of the Barbarians. In the heat of the action, three valiant chiefs were
successively slain by the sword and lance of the emperor: among these
was Rhazates himself; he fell like a soldier, but the sight of his head
scattered grief and despair through the fainting ranks of the Persians.
His armor of pure and massy gold, the shield of one hundred and twenty
plates, the sword and belt, the saddle and cuirass, adorned the triumph
of Heraclius; and if he had not been faithful to Christ and his mother,
the champion of Rome might have offered the fourth _opime_ spoils to
the Jupiter of the Capitol. In the battle of Nineveh, which was fiercely
fought from daybreak to the eleventh hour, twenty-eight standards,
besides those which might be broken or torn, were taken from the
Persians; the greatest part of their army was cut in pieces, and the
victors, concealing their own loss, passed the night on the field. They
acknowledged, that on this occasion it was less difficult to kill
than to discomfit the soldiers of Chosroes; amidst the bodies of their
friends, no more than two bow-shot from the enemy the remnant of the
Persian cavalry stood firm till the seventh hour of the night; about
the eighth hour they retired to their unrifled camp, collected their
baggage, and dispersed on all sides, from the want of orders rather than
of resolution. The diligence of Heraclius was not less admirable in
the use of victory; by a march of forty-eight miles in four-and-twenty
hours, his vanguard occupied the bridges of the great and the lesser
Zab; and the cities and palaces of Assyria were open for the first
time to the Romans. By a just gradation of magnificent scenes, they
penetrated to the royal seat of Dastagerd, and, though much of the
treasure had been removed, and much had been expended, the remaining
wealth appears to have exceeded their hopes, and even to have satiated
their avarice. Whatever could not be easily transported, they consumed
with fire, that Chosroes might feel the anguish of those wounds which he
had so often inflicted on the provinces of the empire: and justice might
allow the excuse, if the desolation had been confined to the works of
regal luxury, if national hatred, military license, and religious zeal,
had not wasted with equal rage the habitations and the temples of the
guiltless subject. The recovery of three hundred Roman standards, and
the deliverance of the numerous captives of Edessa and Alexandria,
reflect a purer glory on the arms of Heraclius. From the palace
of Dastagerd, he pursued his march within a few miles of Modain or
Ctesiphon, till he was stopped, on the banks of the Arba, by the
difficulty of the passage, the rigor of the season, and perhaps the fame
of an impregnable capital. The return of the emperor is marked by the
modern name of the city of Sherhzour: he fortunately passed Mount
Zara, before the snow, which fell incessantly thirty-four days; and the
citizens of Gandzca, or Tauris, were compelled to entertain the soldiers
and their horses with a hospitable reception.

When the ambition of Chosroes was reduced to the defence of his
hereditary kingdom, the love of glory, or even the sense of shame,
should have urged him to meet his rival in the field. In the battle of
Nineveh, his courage might have taught the Persians to vanquish, or
he might have fallen with honor by the lance of a Roman emperor. The
successor of Cyrus chose rather, at a secure distance, to expect the
event, to assemble the relics of the defeat, and to retire, by measured
steps, before the march of Heraclius, till he beheld with a sigh the
once loved mansions of Dastagerd. Both his friends and enemies were
persuaded, that it was the intention of Chosroes to bury himself under
the ruins of the city and palace: and as both might have been equally
adverse to his flight, the monarch of Asia, with Sira, and three
concubines, escaped through a hole in the wall nine days before the
arrival of the Romans. The slow and stately procession in which he
showed himself to the prostrate crowd, was changed to a rapid and secret
journey; and the first evening he lodged in the cottage of a peasant,
whose humble door would scarcely give admittance to the great king. His
superstition was subdued by fear: on the third day, he entered with joy
the fortifications of Ctesiphon; yet he still doubted of his safety
till he had opposed the River Tigris to the pursuit of the Romans. The
discovery of his flight agitated with terror and tumult the palace, the
city, and the camp of Dastagerd: the satraps hesitated whether they had
most to fear from their sovereign or the enemy; and the females of the
harem were astonished and pleased by the sight of mankind, till the
jealous husband of three thousand wives again confined them to a more
distant castle. At his command, the army of Dastagerd retreated to a
new camp: the front was covered by the Arba, and a line of two hundred
elephants; the troops of the more distant provinces successively
arrived, and the vilest domestics of the king and satraps were enrolled
for the last defence of the throne. It was still in the power of
Chosroes to obtain a reasonable peace; and he was repeatedly pressed by
the messengers of Heraclius to spare the blood of his subjects, and to
relieve a humane conqueror from the painful duty of carrying fire
and sword through the fairest countries of Asia. But the pride of the
Persian had not yet sunk to the level of his fortune; he derived a
momentary confidence from the retreat of the emperor; he wept with
impotent rage over the ruins of his Assyrian palaces, and disregarded
too long the rising murmurs of the nation, who complained that their
lives and fortunes were sacrificed to the obstinacy of an old man. That
unhappy old man was himself tortured with the sharpest pains both of
mind and body; and, in the consciousness of his approaching end, he
resolved to fix the tiara on the head of Merdaza, the most favored of
his sons. But the will of Chosroes was no longer revered, and Siroes,
who gloried in the rank and merit of his mother Sira, had conspired with
the malecontents to assert and anticipate the rights of primogeniture.
Twenty-two satraps (they styled themselves patriots) were tempted by the
wealth and honors of a new reign: to the soldiers, the heir of Chosroes
promised an increase of pay; to the Christians, the free exercise of
their religion; to the captives, liberty and rewards; and to the nation,
instant peace and the reduction of taxes. It was determined by the
conspirators, that Siroes, with the ensigns of royalty, should appear in
the camp; and if the enterprise should fail, his escape was contrived
to the Imperial court. But the new monarch was saluted with unanimous
acclamations; the flight of Chosroes (yet where could he have fled?) was
rudely arrested, eighteen sons were massacred before his face, and he
was thrown into a dungeon, where he expired on the fifth day. The Greeks
and modern Persians minutely describe how Chosroes was insulted, and
famished, and tortured, by the command of an inhuman son, who so far
surpassed the example of his father: but at the time of his death, what
tongue would relate the story of the parricide? what eye could penetrate
into the _tower of darkness?_ According to the faith and mercy of his
Christian enemies, he sunk without hope into a still deeper abyss; and
it will not be denied, that tyrants of every age and sect are the best
entitled to such infernal abodes. The glory of the house of Sassan ended
with the life of Chosroes: his unnatural son enjoyed only eight months
the fruit of his crimes: and in the space of four years, the regal title
was assumed by nine candidates, who disputed, with the sword or dagger,
the fragments of an exhausted monarchy. Every province, and each city of
Persia, was the scene of independence, of discord, and of blood; and the
state of anarchy prevailed about eight years longer, till the factions
were silenced and united under the common yoke of the Arabian caliphs.

As soon as the mountains became passable, the emperor received the
welcome news of the success of the conspiracy, the death of Chosroes,
and the elevation of his eldest son to the throne of Persia. The authors
of the revolution, eager to display their merits in the court or camp of
Tauris, preceded the ambassadors of Siroes, who delivered the letters of
their master to his _brother_ the emperor of the Romans. In the language
of the usurpers of every age, he imputes his own crimes to the Deity,
and, without degrading his equal majesty, he offers to reconcile the
long discord of the two nations, by a treaty of peace and alliance more
durable than brass or iron. The conditions of the treaty were easily
defined and faithfully executed. In the recovery of the standards and
prisoners which had fallen into the hands of the Persians, the emperor
imitated the example of Augustus: their care of the national dignity
was celebrated by the poets of the times, but the decay of genius may
be measured by the distance between Horace and George of Pisidia: the
subjects and brethren of Heraclius were redeemed from persecution,
slavery, and exile; but, instead of the Roman eagles, the true wood of
the holy cross was restored to the importunate demands of the successor
of Constantine. The victor was not ambitious of enlarging the weakness
of the empire; the son of Chosroes abandoned without regret the
conquests of his father; the Persians who evacuated the cities of Syria
and Egypt were honorably conducted to the frontier, and a war which had
wounded the vitals of the two monarchies, produced no change in their
external and relative situation. The return of Heraclius from Tauris to
Constantinople was a perpetual triumph; and after the exploits of six
glorious campaigns, he peaceably enjoyed the Sabbath of his toils. After
a long impatience, the senate, the clergy, and the people, went forth
to meet their hero, with tears and acclamations, with olive branches
and innumerable lamps; he entered the capital in a chariot drawn by four
elephants; and as soon as the emperor could disengage himself from
the tumult of public joy, he tasted more genuine satisfaction in the
embraces of his mother and his son.

The succeeding year was illustrated by a triumph of a very different
kind, the restitution of the true cross to the holy sepulchre. Heraclius
performed in person the pilgrimage of Jerusalem, the identity of the
relic was verified by the discreet patriarch, and this august ceremony
has been commemorated by the annual festival of the exaltation of the
cross. Before the emperor presumed to tread the consecrated ground, he
was instructed to strip himself of the diadem and purple, the pomp and
vanity of the world: but in the judgment of his clergy, the persecution
of the Jews was more easily reconciled with the precepts of the gospel.
* He again ascended his throne to receive the congratulations of the
ambassadors of France and India: and the fame of Moses, Alexander, and
Hercules, was eclipsed in the popular estimation, by the superior merit
and glory of the great Heraclius. Yet the deliverer of the East was
indigent and feeble. Of the Persian spoils, the most valuable portion
had been expended in the war, distributed to the soldiers, or buried,
by an unlucky tempest, in the waves of the Euxine. The conscience of the
emperor was oppressed by the obligation of restoring the wealth of the
clergy, which he had borrowed for their own defence: a perpetual fund
was required to satisfy these inexorable creditors; the provinces,
already wasted by the arms and avarice of the Persians, were compelled
to a second payment of the same taxes; and the arrears of a simple
citizen, the treasurer of Damascus, were commuted to a fine of one
hundred thousand pieces of gold. The loss of two hundred thousand
soldiers who had fallen by the sword, was of less fatal importance
than the decay of arts, agriculture, and population, in this long and
destructive war: and although a victorious army had been formed
under the standard of Heraclius, the unnatural effort appears to have
exhausted rather than exercised their strength. While the emperor
triumphed at Constantinople or Jerusalem, an obscure town on the
confines of Syria was pillaged by the Saracens, and they cut in pieces
some troops who advanced to its relief; an ordinary and trifling
occurrence, had it not been the prelude of a mighty revolution. These
robbers were the apostles of Mahomet; their fanatic valor had emerged
from the desert; and in the last eight years of his reign, Heraclius
lost to the Arabs the same provinces which he had rescued from the
Persians.



Chapter XLVII: Ecclesiastical Discord.--Part I.

     Theological History Of The Doctrine Of The Incarnation.--The
     Human And Divine Nature Of Christ.--Enmity Of The Patriarchs
     Of Alexandria And Constantinople.--St. Cyril And Nestorius.--
     Third General Council Of Ephesus.--Heresy Of Eutyches.--
     Fourth General Council Of Chalcedon.--Civil And
     Ecclesiastical Discord.--Intolerance Of Justinian.--The
     Three Chapters.--The Monothelite Controversy.--State Of The
     Oriental Sects:--I. The Nestorians.--II. The Jacobites.--
     III. The Maronites.--IV. The Armenians.--V. The Copts And
     Abyssinians.

After the extinction of paganism, the Christians in peace and piety
might have enjoyed their solitary triumph. But the principle of discord
was alive in their bosom, and they were more solicitous to explore the
nature, than to practice the laws, of their founder. I have already
observed, that the disputes of the Trinity were succeeded by those of
the Incarnation; alike scandalous to the church, alike pernicious to the
state, still more minute in their origin, still more durable in their
effects. It is my design to comprise in the present chapter a religious
war of two hundred and fifty years, to represent the ecclesiastical and
political schism of the Oriental sects, and to introduce their clamorous
or sanguinary contests, by a modest inquiry into the doctrines of the
primitive church.

I. A laudable regard for the honor of the first proselyte has
countenanced the belief, the hope, the wish, that the Ebionites, or
at least the Nazarenes, were distinguished only by their obstinate
perseverance in the practice of the Mosaic rites. Their churches have
disappeared, their books are obliterated: their obscure freedom might
allow a latitude of faith, and the softness of their infant creed would
be variously moulded by the zeal or prudence of three hundred years. Yet
the most charitable criticism must refuse these sectaries any knowledge
of the pure and proper divinity of Christ. Educated in the school of
Jewish prophecy and prejudice, they had never been taught to elevate
their hopes above a human and temporal Messiah. If they had courage
to hail their king when he appeared in a plebeian garb, their grosser
apprehensions were incapable of discerning their God, who had studiously
disguised his celestial character under the name and person of a mortal.
The familiar companions of Jesus of Nazareth conversed with their friend
and countryman, who, in all the actions of rational and animal life,
appeared of the same species with themselves. His progress from infancy
to youth and manhood was marked by a regular increase in stature and
wisdom; and after a painful agony of mind and body, he expired on the
cross. He lived and died for the service of mankind: but the life and
death of Socrates had likewise been devoted to the cause of religion
and justice; and although the stoic or the hero may disdain the humble
virtues of Jesus, the tears which he shed over his friend and country
may be esteemed the purest evidence of his humanity. The miracles of the
gospel could not astonish a people who held with intrepid faith the more
splendid prodigies of the Mosaic law. The prophets of ancient days had
cured diseases, raised the dead, divided the sea, stopped the sun, and
ascended to heaven in a fiery chariot. And the metaphorical style of the
Hebrews might ascribe to a saint and martyr the adoptive title of Son of
God.

Yet in the insufficient creed of the Nazarenes and the Ebionites, a
distinction is faintly noticed between the heretics, who confounded the
generation of Christ in the common order of nature, and the less guilty
schismatics, who revered the virginity of his mother, and excluded the
aid of an earthly father. The incredulity of the former was countenanced
by the visible circumstances of his birth, the legal marriage of the
reputed parents, Joseph and Mary, and his lineal claim to the kingdom of
David and the inheritance of Judah. But the secret and authentic history
has been recorded in several copies of the Gospel according to St.
Matthew, which these sectaries long preserved in the original Hebrew, as
the sole evidence of their faith. The natural suspicions of the husband,
conscious of his own chastity, were dispelled by the assurance (in a
dream) that his wife was pregnant of the Holy Ghost: and as this distant
and domestic prodigy could not fall under the personal observation of
the historian, he must have listened to the same voice which dictated to
Isaiah the future conception of a virgin. The son of a virgin, generated
by the ineffable operation of the Holy Spirit, was a creature without
example or resemblance, superior in every attribute of mind and body to
the children of Adam. Since the introduction of the Greek or Chaldean
philosophy, the Jews were persuaded of the preexistence, transmigration,
and immortality of souls; and providence was justified by a supposition,
that they were confined in their earthly prisons to expiate the stains
which they had contracted in a former state. But the degrees of purity
and corruption are almost immeasurable. It might be fairly presumed,
that the most sublime and virtuous of human spirits was infused into the
offspring of Mary and the Holy Ghost; that his abasement was the result
of his voluntary choice; and that the object of his mission was, to
purify, not his own, but the sins of the world. On his return to his
native skies, he received the immense reward of his obedience; the
everlasting kingdom of the Messiah, which had been darkly foretold by
the prophets, under the carnal images of peace, of conquest, and of
dominion. Omnipotence could enlarge the human faculties of Christ to the
extend of is celestial office. In the language of antiquity, the title
of God has not been severely confined to the first parent, and his
incomparable minister, his only-begotten son, might claim, without
presumption, the religious, though secondary, worship of a subject of a
subject world.

II. The seeds of the faith, which had slowly arisen in the rocky and
ungrateful soil of Judea, were transplanted, in full maturity, to the
happier climes of the Gentiles; and the strangers of Rome or Asia, who
never beheld the manhood, were the more readily disposed to embrace the
divinity, of Christ. The polytheist and the philosopher, the Greek and
the Barbarian, were alike accustomed to conceive a long succession, an
infinite chain of angels or dæmons, or deities, or æons, or emanations,
issuing from the throne of light. Nor could it seem strange or
incredible, that the first of these æons, the _Logos_, or Word of God,
of the same substance with the Father, should descend upon earth, to
deliver the human race from vice and error, and to conduct them in
the paths of life and immortality. But the prevailing doctrine of the
eternity and inherent pravity of matter infected the primitive churches
of the East. Many among the Gentile proselytes refused to believe that
a celestial spirit, an undivided portion of the first essence, had been
personally united with a mass of impure and contaminated flesh; and,
in their zeal for the divinity, they piously abjured the humanity,
of Christ. While his blood was still recent on Mount Calvary, the
_Docetes_, a numerous and learned sect of Asiatics, invented the
_phantastic_ system, which was afterwards propagated by the Marcionites,
the Manichæans, and the various names of the Gnostic heresy. They denied
the truth and authenticity of the Gospels, as far as they relate the
conception of Mary, the birth of Christ, and the thirty years that
preceded the exercise of his ministry. He first appeared on the banks of
the Jordan in the form of perfect manhood; but it was a form only, and
not a substance; a human figure created by the hand of Omnipotence to
imitate the faculties and actions of a man, and to impose a perpetual
illusion on the senses of his friends and enemies. Articulate sounds
vibrated on the ears of the disciples; but the image which was impressed
on their optic nerve eluded the more stubborn evidence of the touch; and
they enjoyed the spiritual, not the corporeal, presence of the Son of
God. The rage of the Jews was idly wasted against an impassive phantom;
and the mystic scenes of the passion and death, the resurrection and
ascension, of Christ were represented on the theatre of Jerusalem for
the benefit of mankind. If it were urged, that such ideal mimicry,
such incessant deception, was unworthy of the God of truth, the Docetes
agreed with too many of their orthodox brethren in the justification of
pious falsehood. In the system of the Gnostics, the Jehovah of Israel,
the Creator of this lower world, was a rebellious, or at least an
ignorant, spirit. The Son of God descended upon earth to abolish his
temple and his law; and, for the accomplishment of this salutary end, he
dexterously transferred to his own person the hope and prediction of a
temporal Messiah.

One of the most subtile disputants of the Manichæan school has pressed
the danger and indecency of supposing, that the God of the Christians,
in the state of a human ftus, emerged at the end of nine months from
a female womb. The pious horror of his antagonists provoked them to
disclaim all sensual circumstances of conception and delivery; to
maintain that the divinity passed through Mary like a sunbeam through a
plate of glass; and to assert, that the seal of her virginity remained
unbroken even at the moment when she became the mother of Christ. But
the rashness of these concessions has encouraged a milder sentiment of
those of the Docetes, who taught, not that Christ was a phantom, but
that he was clothed with an impassible and incorruptible body.
Such, indeed, in the more orthodox system, he has acquired since his
resurrection, and such he must have always possessed, if it were capable
of pervading, without resistance or injury, the density of intermediate
matter. Devoid of its most essential properties, it might be exempt from
the attributes and infirmities of the flesh. A ftus that could increase
from an invisible point to its full maturity; a child that could attain
the stature of perfect manhood without deriving any nourishment from
the ordinary sources, might continue to exist without repairing a
daily waste by a daily supply of external matter. Jesus might share the
repasts of his disciples without being subject to the calls of thirst
or hunger; and his virgin purity was never sullied by the involuntary
stains of sensual concupiscence. Of a body thus singularly constituted,
a question would arise, by what means, and of what materials, it was
originally framed; and our sounder theology is startled by an answer
which was not peculiar to the Gnostics, that both the form and the
substance proceeded from the divine essence. The idea of pure and
absolute spirit is a refinement of modern philosophy: the incorporeal
essence, ascribed by the ancients to human souls, celestial beings, and
even the Deity himself, does not exclude the notion of extended space;
and their imagination was satisfied with a subtile nature of air, or
fire, or æther, incomparably more perfect than the grossness of the
material world. If we define the place, we must describe the figure, of
the Deity. Our experience, perhaps our vanity, represents the powers of
reason and virtue under a human form. The Anthropomorphites, who swarmed
among the monks of Egypt and the Catholics of Africa, could produce the
express declaration of Scripture, that man was made after the image of
his Creator. The venerable Serapion, one of the saints of the Nitrian
deserts, relinquished, with many a tear, his darling prejudice; and
bewailed, like an infant, his unlucky conversion, which had stolen
away his God, and left his mind without any visible object of faith or
devotion.

III. Such were the fleeting shadows of the Docetes. A more substantial,
though less simple, hypothesis, was contrived by Cerinthus of Asia, who
dared to oppose the last of the apostles. Placed on the confines of the
Jewish and Gentile world, he labored to reconcile the Gnostic with the
Ebionite, by confessing in the same Messiah the supernatural union of a
man and a God; and this mystic doctrine was adopted with many fanciful
improvements by Carpocrates, Basilides, and Valentine, the heretics of
the Egyptian school. In their eyes, Jesus of Nazareth was a mere mortal,
the legitimate son of Joseph and Mary: but he was the best and wisest of
the human race, selected as the worthy instrument to restore upon earth
the worship of the true and supreme Deity. When he was baptized in
the Jordan, the Christ, the first of the æons, the Son of God himself,
descended on Jesus in the form of a dove, to inhabit his mind, and
direct his actions during the allotted period of his ministry. When
the Messiah was delivered into the hands of the Jews, the Christ, an
immortal and impassible being, forsook his earthly tabernacle, flew back
to the _pleroma_ or world of spirits, and left the solitary Jesus to
suffer, to complain, and to expire. But the justice and generosity of
such a desertion are strongly questionable; and the fate of an innocent
martyr, at first impelled, and at length abandoned, by his divine
companion, might provoke the pity and indignation of the profane.
Their murmurs were variously silenced by the sectaries who espoused and
modified the double system of Cerinthus. It was alleged, that when Jesus
was nailed to the cross, he was endowed with a miraculous apathy of mind
and body, which rendered him insensible of his apparent sufferings.
It was affirmed, that these momentary, though real, pangs would be
abundantly repaid by the temporal reign of a thousand years reserved for
the Messiah in his kingdom of the new Jerusalem. It was insinuated,
that if he suffered, he deserved to suffer; that human nature is never
absolutely perfect; and that the cross and passion might serve to
expiate the venial transgressions of the son of Joseph, before his
mysterious union with the Son of God.

IV. All those who believe the immateriality of the soul, a specious
and noble tenet, must confess, from their present experience, the
incomprehensible union of mind and matter. A similar union is not
inconsistent with a much higher, or even with the highest, degree of
mental faculties; and the incarnation of an æon or archangel, the most
perfect of created spirits, does not involve any positive contradiction
or absurdity. In the age of religious freedom, which was determined
by the council of Nice, the dignity of Christ was measured by private
judgment according to the indefinite rule of Scripture, or reason, or
tradition. But when his pure and proper divinity had been established on
the ruins of Arianism, the faith of the Catholics trembled on the edge
of a precipice where it was impossible to recede, dangerous to stand,
dreadful to fall and the manifold inconveniences of their creed were
aggravated by the sublime character of their theology. They hesitated
to pronounce; _that_ God himself, the second person of an equal and
consubstantial trinity, was manifested in the flesh; _that_ a being who
pervades the universe, had been confined in the womb of Mary; _that_ his
eternal duration had been marked by the days, and months, and years of
human existence; _that_ the Almighty had been scourged and crucified;
_that_ his impassible essence had felt pain and anguish; _that_ his
omniscience was not exempt from ignorance; and that the source of life
and immortality expired on Mount Calvary. These alarming consequences
were affirmed with unblushing simplicity by Apollinaris, bishop of
Laodicea, and one of the luminaries of the church. The son of a learned
grammarian, he was skilled in all the sciences of Greece; eloquence,
erudition, and philosophy, conspicuous in the volumes of Apollinaris,
were humbly devoted to the service of religion. The worthy friend of
Athanasius, the worthy antagonist of Julian, he bravely wrestled
with the Arians and Polytheists, and though he affected the rigor of
geometrical demonstration, his commentaries revealed the literal and
allegorical sense of the Scriptures. A mystery, which had long floated
in the looseness of popular belief, was defined by his perverse
diligence in a technical form; and he first proclaimed the memorable
words, "One incarnate nature of Christ," which are still reëchoed with
hostile clamors in the churches of Asia, Egypt, and Æthiopia. He taught
that the Godhead was united or mingled with the body of a man; and that
the _Logos_, the eternal wisdom, supplied in the flesh the place and
office of a human soul. Yet as the profound doctor had been terrified at
his own rashness, Apollinaris was heard to mutter some faint accents
of excuse and explanation. He acquiesced in the old distinction of the
Greek philosophers between the rational and sensitive soul of man; that
he might reserve the _Logos_ for intellectual functions, and employ the
subordinate human principle in the meaner actions of animal life. With
the moderate Docetes, he revered Mary as the spiritual, rather than
as the carnal, mother of Christ, whose body either came from heaven,
impassible and incorruptible, or was absorbed, and as it were
transformed, into the essence of the Deity. The system of Apollinaris
was strenuously encountered by the Asiatic and Syrian divines whose
schools are honored by the names of Basil, Gregory and Chrysostom, and
tainted by those of Diodorus, Theodore, and Nestorius. But the person
of the aged bishop of Laodicea, his character and dignity, remained
inviolate; and his rivals, since we may not suspect them of the weakness
of toleration, were astonished, perhaps, by the novelty of the argument,
and diffident of the final sentence of the Catholic church. Her judgment
at length inclined in their favor; the heresy of Apollinaris was
condemned, and the separate congregations of his disciples were
proscribed by the Imperial laws. But his principles were secretly
entertained in the monasteries of Egypt, and his enemies felt the hatred
of Theophilus and Cyril, the successive patriarchs of Alexandria.

V. The grovelling Ebionite, and the fantastic Docetes, were rejected and
forgotten: the recent zeal against the errors of Apollinaris reduced the
Catholics to a seeming agreement with the double nature of Cerinthus.
But instead of a temporary and occasional alliance, _they_ established,
and we still embrace, the substantial, indissoluble, and everlasting
union of a perfect God with a perfect man, of the second person of the
trinity with a reasonable soul and human flesh. In the beginning of
the fifth century, the _unity_ of the _two natures_ was the prevailing
doctrine of the church. On all sides, it was confessed, that the mode
of their coexistence could neither be represented by our ideas, nor
expressed by our language. Yet a secret and incurable discord was
cherished, between those who were most apprehensive of confounding,
and those who were most fearful of separating, the divinity, and the
humanity, of Christ. Impelled by religious frenzy, they fled with
adverse haste from the error which they mutually deemed most destructive
of truth and salvation. On either hand they were anxious to guard,
they were jealous to defend, the union and the distinction of the two
natures, and to invent such forms of speech, such symbols of doctrine,
as were least susceptible of doubt or ambiguity. The poverty of ideas
and language tempted them to ransack art and nature for every possible
comparison, and each comparison mislead their fancy in the explanation
of an incomparable mystery. In the polemic microscope, an atom is
enlarged to a monster, and each party was skilful to exaggerate the
absurd or impious conclusions that might be extorted from the principles
of their adversaries. To escape from each other, they wandered through
many a dark and devious thicket, till they were astonished by the horrid
phantoms of Cerinthus and Apollinaris, who guarded the opposite issues
of the theological labyrinth. As soon as they beheld the twilight of
sense and heresy, they started, measured back their steps, and were
again involved in the gloom of impenetrable orthodoxy. To purge
themselves from the guilt or reproach of damnable error, they
disavowed their consequences, explained their principles, excused their
indiscretions, and unanimously pronounced the sounds of concord and
faith. Yet a latent and almost invisible spark still lurked among the
embers of controversy: by the breath of prejudice and passion, it
was quickly kindled to a mighty flame, and the verbal disputes of the
Oriental sects have shaken the pillars of the church and state.

The name of Cyril of Alexandria is famous in controversial story, and
the title of _saint_ is a mark that his opinions and his party have
finally prevailed. In the house of his uncle, the archbishop Theophilus,
he imbibed the orthodox lessons of zeal and dominion, and five years of
his youth were profitably spent in the adjacent monasteries of
Nitria. Under the tuition of the abbot Serapion, he applied himself
to ecclesiastical studies, with such indefatigable ardor, that in the
course of _one_ sleepless night, he has perused the four Gospels, the
Catholic Epistles, and the Epistle to the Romans. Origen he detested;
but the writings of Clemens and Dionysius, of Athanasius and Basil, were
continually in his hands: by the theory and practice of dispute, his
faith was confirmed and his wit was sharpened; he extended round his
cell the cobwebs of scholastic theology, and meditated the works of
allegory and metaphysics, whose remains, in seven verbose folios, now
peaceably slumber by the side of their rivals. Cyril prayed and fasted
in the desert, but his thoughts (it is the reproach of a friend) were
still fixed on the world; and the call of Theophilus, who summoned
him to the tumult of cities and synods, was too readily obeyed by the
aspiring hermit. With the approbation of his uncle, he assumed the
office, and acquired the fame, of a popular preacher. His comely person
adorned the pulpit; the harmony of his voice resounded in the cathedral;
his friends were stationed to lead or second the applause of the
congregation; and the hasty notes of the scribes preserved his
discourses, which in their effect, though not in their composition,
might be compared with those of the Athenian orators. The death of
Theophilus expanded and realized the hopes of his nephew. The clergy
of Alexandria was divided; the soldiers and their general supported the
claims of the archdeacon; but a resistless multitude, with voices and
with hands, asserted the cause of their favorite; and after a period of
thirty-nine years, Cyril was seated on the throne of Athanasius.



Chapter XLVII: Ecclesiastical Discord.--Part II.

The prize was not unworthy of his ambition. At a distance from the
court, and at the head of an immense capital, the patriarch, as he was
now styled, of Alexandria had gradually usurped the state and authority
of a civil magistrate. The public and private charities of the city were
blindly obeyed by his numerous and fanatic _parabolani_, familiarized in
their daily office with scenes of death; and the præfects of Egypt were
awed or provoked by the temporal power of these Christian pontiffs.
Ardent in the prosecution of heresy, Cyril auspiciously opened his
reign by oppressing the Novatians, the most innocent and harmless of the
sectaries. The interdiction of their religious worship appeared in his
eyes a just and meritorious act; and he confiscated their holy vessels,
without apprehending the guilt of sacrilege. The toleration, and even
the privileges of the Jews, who had multiplied to the number of forty
thousand, were secured by the laws of the Cæsars and Ptolemies, and
a long prescription of seven hundred years since the foundation of
Alexandria. Without any legal sentence, without any royal mandate, the
patriarch, at the dawn of day, led a seditious multitude to the attack
of the synagogues. Unarmed and unprepared, the Jews were incapable of
resistance; their houses of prayer were levelled with the ground, and
the episcopal warrior, after-rewarding his troops with the plunder
of their goods, expelled from the city the remnant of the unbelieving
nation. Perhaps he might plead the insolence of their prosperity, and
their deadly hatred of the Christians, whose blood they had recently
shed in a malicious or accidental tumult. Such crimes would have
deserved the animadversion of the magistrate; but in this promiscuous
outrage, the innocent were confounded with the guilty, and Alexandria
was impoverished by the loss of a wealthy and industrious colony. The
zeal of Cyril exposed him to the penalties of the Julian law; but in a
feeble government and a superstitious age, he was secure of impunity,
and even of praise. Orestes complained; but his just complaints were
too quickly forgotten by the ministers of Theodosius, and too deeply
remembered by a priest who affected to pardon, and continued to hate,
the præfect of Egypt. As he passed through the streets, his chariot was
assaulted by a band of five hundred of the Nitrian monks his guards
fled from the wild beasts of the desert; his protestations that he was
a Christian and a Catholic were answered by a volley of stones, and the
face of Orestes was covered with blood. The loyal citizens of Alexandria
hastened to his rescue; he instantly satisfied his justice and revenge
against the monk by whose hand he had been wounded, and Ammonius expired
under the rod of the lictor. At the command of Cyril his body was
raised from the ground, and transported, in solemn procession, to the
cathedral; the name of Ammonius was changed to that of Thaumasius the
_wonderful_; his tomb was decorated with the trophies of martyrdom, and
the patriarch ascended the pulpit to celebrate the magnanimity of an
assassin and a rebel. Such honors might incite the faithful to combat
and die under the banners of the saint; and he soon prompted, or
accepted, the sacrifice of a virgin, who professed the religion of the
Greeks, and cultivated the friendship of Orestes. Hypatia, the daughter
of Theon the mathematician, was initiated in her father's studies;
her learned comments have elucidated the geometry of Apollonius and
Diophantus, and she publicly taught, both at Athens and Alexandria, the
philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. In the bloom of beauty, and in the
maturity of wisdom, the modest maid refused her lovers and instructed
her disciples; the persons most illustrious for their rank or merit
were impatient to visit the female philosopher; and Cyril beheld, with
a jealous eye, the gorgeous train of horses and slaves who crowded the
door of her academy. A rumor was spread among the Christians, that the
daughter of Theon was the only obstacle to the reconciliation of the
præfect and the archbishop; and that obstacle was speedily removed. On
a fatal day, in the holy season of Lent, Hypatia was torn from her
chariot, stripped naked, dragged to the church, and inhumanly butchered
by the hands of Peter the reader, and a troop of savage and merciless
fanatics: her flesh was scraped from her bones with sharp oyster shells,
and her quivering limbs were delivered to the flames. The just progress
of inquiry and punishment was stopped by seasonable gifts; but the
murder of Hypatia has imprinted an indelible stain on the character and
religion of Cyril of Alexandria.

Superstition, perhaps, would more gently expiate the blood of a virgin,
than the banishment of a saint; and Cyril had accompanied his uncle
to the iniquitous synod of the Oak. When the memory of Chrysostom was
restored and consecrated, the nephew of Theophilus, at the head of a
dying faction, still maintained the justice of his sentence; nor was it
till after a tedious delay and an obstinate resistance, that he yielded
to the consent of the Catholic world. His enmity to the Byzantine
pontiffs was a sense of interest, not a sally of passion: he envied
their fortunate station in the sunshine of the Imperial court; and he
dreaded their upstart ambition, which oppressed the metropolitans of
Europe and Asia, invaded the provinces of Antioch and Alexandria, and
measured their diocese by the limits of the empire. The long moderation
of Atticus, the mild usurper of the throne of Chrysostom, suspended the
animosities of the Eastern patriarchs; but Cyril was at length awakened
by the exaltation of a rival more worthy of his esteem and hatred. After
the short and troubled reign of Sisinnius, bishop of Constantinople,
the factions of the clergy and people were appeased by the choice of the
emperor, who, on this occasion, consulted the voice of fame, and invited
the merit of a stranger. Nestorius, native of Germanicia, and a monk of
Antioch, was recommended by the austerity of his life, and the eloquence
of his sermons; but the first homily which he preached before the devout
Theodosius betrayed the acrimony and impatience of his zeal. "Give me, O
Cæsar!" he exclaimed, "give me the earth purged of heretics, and I will
give you in exchange the kingdom of heaven. Exterminate with me the
heretics; and with you I will exterminate the Persians." On the
fifth day as if the treaty had been already signed, the patriarch of
Constantinople discovered, surprised, and attacked a secret conventicle
of the Arians: they preferred death to submission; the flames that were
kindled by their despair, soon spread to the neighboring houses, and the
triumph of Nestorius was clouded by the name of _incendiary_. On either
side of the Hellespont his episcopal vigor imposed a rigid formulary of
faith and discipline; a chronological error concerning the festival of
Easter was punished as an offence against the church and state. Lydia
and Caria, Sardes and Miletus, were purified with the blood of the
obstinate Quartodecimans; and the edict of the emperor, or rather of the
patriarch, enumerates three-and-twenty degrees and denominations in
the guilt and punishment of heresy. But the sword of persecution which
Nestorius so furiously wielded was soon turned against his own breast.
Religion was the pretence; but, in the judgment of a contemporary saint,
ambition was the genuine motive of episcopal warfare.

In the Syrian school, Nestorius had been taught to abhor the confusion
of the two natures, and nicely to discriminate the humanity of his
_master_ Christ from the divinity of the _Lord_ Jesus. The Blessed
Virgin he revered as the mother of Christ, but his ears were offended
with the rash and recent title of mother of God, which had been
insensibly adopted since the origin of the Arian controversy. From the
pulpit of Constantinople, a friend of the patriarch, and afterwards the
patriarch himself, repeatedly preached against the use, or the abuse,
of a word unknown to the apostles, unauthorized by the church, and which
could only tend to alarm the timorous, to mislead the simple, to amuse
the profane, and to justify, by a seeming resemblance, the old genealogy
of Olympus. In his calmer moments Nestorius confessed, that it might
be tolerated or excused by the union of the two natures, and
the communication of their _idioms_: but he was exasperated, by
contradiction, to disclaim the worship of a new-born, an infant Deity,
to draw his inadequate similes from the conjugal or civil partnerships
of life, and to describe the manhood of Christ as the robe, the
instrument, the tabernacle of his Godhead. At these blasphemous sounds,
the pillars of the sanctuary were shaken. The unsuccessful competitors
of Nestorius indulged their pious or personal resentment, the Byzantine
clergy was secretly displeased with the intrusion of a stranger:
whatever is superstitious or absurd, might claim the protection of
the monks; and the people were interested in the glory of their virgin
patroness. The sermons of the archbishop, and the service of the altar,
were disturbed by seditious clamor; his authority and doctrine were
renounced by separate congregations; every wind scattered round the
empire the leaves of controversy; and the voice of the combatants on a
sonorous theatre reëchoed in the cells of Palestine and Egypt. It was
the duty of Cyril to enlighten the zeal and ignorance of his innumerable
monks: in the school of Alexandria, he had imbibed and professed the
incarnation of one nature; and the successor of Athanasius consulted
his pride and ambition, when he rose in arms against another Arius, more
formidable and more guilty, on the second throne of the hierarchy. After
a short correspondence, in which the rival prelates disguised their
hatred in the hollow language of respect and charity, the patriarch of
Alexandria denounced to the prince and people, to the East and to the
West, the damnable errors of the Byzantine pontiff. From the East,
more especially from Antioch, he obtained the ambiguous counsels of
toleration and silence, which were addressed to both parties while they
favored the cause of Nestorius. But the Vatican received with open arms
the messengers of Egypt. The vanity of Celestine was flattered by the
appeal; and the partial version of a monk decided the faith of the pope,
who with his Latin clergy was ignorant of the language, the arts, and
the theology of the Greeks. At the head of an Italian synod, Celestine
weighed the merits of the cause, approved the creed of Cyril, condemned
the sentiments and person of Nestorius, degraded the heretic from his
episcopal dignity, allowed a respite of ten days for recantation and
penance, and delegated to his enemy the execution of this rash and
illegal sentence. But the patriarch of Alexandria, while he darted the
thunders of a god, exposed the errors and passions of a mortal; and his
twelve anathemas still torture the orthodox slaves, who adore the
memory of a saint, without forfeiting their allegiance to the synod of
Chalcedon. These bold assertions are indelibly tinged with the colors
of the Apollinarian heresy; but the serious, and perhaps the sincere
professions of Nestorius have satisfied the wiser and less partial
theologians of the present times.

Yet neither the emperor nor the primate of the East were disposed to
obey the mandate of an Italian priest; and a synod of the Catholic, or
rather of the Greek church, was unanimously demanded as the sole remedy
that could appease or decide this ecclesiastical quarrel. Ephesus, on
all sides accessible by sea and land, was chosen for the place, the
festival of Pentecost for the day, of the meeting; a writ of summons was
despatched to each metropolitan, and a guard was stationed to protect
and confine the fathers till they should settle the mysteries of heaven,
and the faith of the earth. Nestorius appeared not as a criminal, but
as a judge; be depended on the weight rather than the number of his
prelates, and his sturdy slaves from the baths of Zeuxippus were armed
for every service of injury or defence. But his adversary Cyril was more
powerful in the weapons both of the flesh and of the spirit. Disobedient
to the letter, or at least to the meaning, of the royal summons, he was
attended by fifty Egyptian bishops, who expected from their patriarch's
nod the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. He had contracted an intimate
alliance with Memnon, bishop of Ephesus. The despotic primate of Asia
disposed of the ready succors of thirty or forty episcopal votes: a
crowd of peasants, the slaves of the church, was poured into the city to
support with blows and clamors a metaphysical argument; and the people
zealously asserted the honor of the Virgin, whose body reposed within
the walls of Ephesus. The fleet which had transported Cyril from
Alexandria was laden with the riches of Egypt; and he disembarked a
numerous body of mariners, slaves, and fanatics, enlisted with blind
obedience under the banner of St. Mark and the mother of God. The
fathers, and even the guards, of the council were awed by this martial
array; the adversaries of Cyril and Mary were insulted in the streets,
or threatened in their houses; his eloquence and liberality made a daily
increase in the number of his adherents; and the Egyptian soon computed
that he might command the attendance and the voices of two hundred
bishops. But the author of the twelve anathemas foresaw and dreaded the
opposition of John of Antioch, who, with a small, but respectable, train
of metropolitans and divines, was advancing by slow journeys from the
distant capital of the East. Impatient of a delay, which he stigmatized
as voluntary and culpable, Cyril announced the opening of the synod
sixteen days after the festival of Pentecost. Nestorius, who depended
on the near approach of his Eastern friends, persisted, like his
predecessor Chrysostom, to disclaim the jurisdiction, and to disobey
the summons, of his enemies: they hastened his trial, and his accuser
presided in the seat of judgment. Sixty-eight bishops, twenty-two of
metropolitan rank, defended his cause by a modest and temperate protest:
they were excluded from the councils of their brethren. Candidian,
in the emperor's name, requested a delay of four days; the profane
magistrate was driven with outrage and insult from the assembly of the
saints. The whole of this momentous transaction was crowded into
the compass of a summer's day: the bishops delivered their separate
opinions; but the uniformity of style reveals the influence or the hand
of a master, who has been accused of corrupting the public evidence
of their acts and subscriptions. Without a dissenting voice, they
recognized in the epistles of Cyril the Nicene creed and the doctrine of
the fathers: but the partial extracts from the letters and homilies of
Nestorius were interrupted by curses and anathemas: and the heretic was
degraded from his episcopal and ecclesiastical dignity. The sentence,
maliciously inscribed to the new Judas, was affixed and proclaimed in
the streets of Ephesus: the weary prelates, as they issued from the
church of the mother of God, were saluted as her champions; and her
victory was celebrated by the illuminations, the songs, and the tumult
of the night.

On the fifth day, the triumph was clouded by the arrival and indignation
of the Eastern bishops. In a chamber of the inn, before he had wiped
the dust from his shoes, John of Antioch gave audience to Candidian, the
Imperial minister; who related his ineffectual efforts to prevent or to
annul the hasty violence of the Egyptian. With equal haste and violence,
the Oriental synod of fifty bishops degraded Cyril and Memnon from their
episcopal honors, condemned, in the twelve anathemas, the purest venom
of the Apollinarian heresy, and described the Alexandrian primate as a
monster, born and educated for the destruction of the church. His throne
was distant and inaccessible; but they instantly resolved to bestow
on the flock of Ephesus the blessing of a faithful shepherd. By the
vigilance of Memnon, the churches were shut against them, and a strong
garrison was thrown into the cathedral. The troops, under the command of
Candidian, advanced to the assault; the outguards were routed and put to
the sword, but the place was impregnable: the besiegers retired; their
retreat was pursued by a vigorous sally; they lost their horses, and
many of their soldiers were dangerously wounded with clubs and stones.
Ephesus, the city of the Virgin, was defiled with rage and clamor,
with sedition and blood; the rival synods darted anathemas and
excommunications from their spiritual engines; and the court of
Theodosius was perplexed by the adverse and contradictory narratives of
the Syrian and Egyptian factions. During a busy period of three months,
the emperor tried every method, except the most effectual means of
indifference and contempt, to reconcile this theological quarrel. He
attempted to remove or intimidate the leaders by a common sentence, of
acquittal or condemnation; he invested his representatives at Ephesus
with ample power and military force; he summoned from either party eight
chosen deputies to a free and candid conference in the neighborhood of
the capital, far from the contagion of popular frenzy. But the Orientals
refused to yield, and the Catholics, proud of their numbers and of their
Latin allies, rejected all terms of union or toleration. The patience
of the meek Theodosius was provoked; and he dissolved in anger this
episcopal tumult, which at the distance of thirteen centuries assumes
the venerable aspect of the third cumenical council. "God is my
witness," said the pious prince, "that I am not the author of this
confusion. His providence will discern and punish the guilty. Return
to your provinces, and may your private virtues repair the mischief and
scandal of your meeting." They returned to their provinces; but the same
passions which had distracted the synod of Ephesus were diffused over
the Eastern world. After three obstinate and equal campaigns, John of
Antioch and Cyril of Alexandria condescended to explain and embrace: but
their seeming reunion must be imputed rather to prudence than to reason,
to the mutual lassitude rather than to the Christian charity of the
patriarchs.

The Byzantine pontiff had instilled into the royal ear a baleful
prejudice against the character and conduct of his Egyptian rival. An
epistle of menace and invective, which accompanied the summons,
accused him as a busy, insolent, and envious priest, who perplexed the
simplicity of the faith, violated the peace of the church and state,
and, by his artful and separate addresses to the wife and sister of
Theodosius, presumed to suppose, or to scatter, the seeds of discord in
the Imperial family. At the stern command of his sovereign. Cyril had
repaired to Ephesus, where he was resisted, threatened, and confined,
by the magistrates in the interest of Nestorius and the Orientals; who
assembled the troops of Lydia and Ionia to suppress the fanatic and
disorderly train of the patriarch. Without expecting the royal license,
he escaped from his guards, precipitately embarked, deserted the
imperfect synod, and retired to his episcopal fortress of safety and
independence. But his artful emissaries, both in the court and city,
successfully labored to appease the resentment, and to conciliate the
favor, of the emperor. The feeble son of Arcadius was alternately
swayed by his wife and sister, by the eunuchs and women of the palace:
superstition and avarice were their ruling passions; and the orthodox
chiefs were assiduous in their endeavors to alarm the former, and to
gratify the latter. Constantinople and the suburbs were sanctified with
frequent monasteries, and the holy abbots, Dalmatius and Eutyches, had
devoted their zeal and fidelity to the cause of Cyril, the worship of
Mary, and the unity of Christ. From the first moment of their monastic
life, they had never mingled with the world, or trod the profane ground
of the city. But in this awful moment of the danger of the church, their
vow was superseded by a more sublime and indispensable duty. At the
head of a long order of monks and hermits, who carried burning tapers in
their hands, and chanted litanies to the mother of God, they proceeded
from their monasteries to the palace. The people was edified and
inflamed by this extraordinary spectacle, and the trembling monarch
listened to the prayers and adjurations of the saints, who boldly
pronounced, that none could hope for salvation, unless they embraced
the person and the creed of the orthodox successor of Athanasius. At the
same time, every avenue of the throne was assaulted with gold. Under
the decent names of _eulogies_ and _benedictions_, the courtiers of
both sexes were bribed according to the measure of their power and
rapaciousness. But their incessant demands despoiled the sanctuaries of
Constantinople and Alexandria; and the authority of the patriarch was
unable to silence the just murmur of his clergy, that a debt of sixty
thousand pounds had already been contracted to support the expense of
this scandalous corruption. Pulcheria, who relieved her brother from
the weight of an empire, was the firmest pillar of orthodoxy; and so
intimate was the alliance between the thunders of the synod and the
whispers of the court, that Cyril was assured of success if he could
displace one eunuch, and substitute another in the favor of Theodosius.
Yet the Egyptian could not boast of a glorious or decisive victory.
The emperor, with unaccustomed firmness, adhered to his promise of
protecting the innocence of the Oriental bishops; and Cyril softened
his anathemas, and confessed, with ambiguity and reluctance, a twofold
nature of Christ, before he was permitted to satiate his revenge against
the unfortunate Nestorius.

The rash and obstinate Nestorius, before the end of the synod, was
oppressed by Cyril, betrayed by the court, and faintly supported by his
Eastern friends. A sentiment or fear or indignation prompted him, while
it was yet time, to affect the glory of a voluntary abdication: his
wish, or at least his request, was readily granted; he was conducted
with honor from Ephesus to his old monastery of Antioch; and, after a
short pause, his successors, Maximian and Proclus, were acknowledged as
the lawful bishops of Constantinople. But in the silence of his cell,
the degraded patriarch could no longer resume the innocence and security
of a private monk. The past he regretted, he was discontented with the
present, and the future he had reason to dread: the Oriental bishops
successively disengaged their cause from his unpopular name, and each
day decreased the number of the schismatics who revered Nestorius as the
confessor of the faith. After a residence at Antioch of four years, the
hand of Theodosius subscribed an edict, which ranked him with Simon the
magician, proscribed his opinions and followers, condemned his writings
to the flames, and banished his person first to Petra, in Arabia, and at
length to Oasis, one of the islands of the Libyan desert. Secluded from
the church and from the world, the exile was still pursued by the rage
of bigotry and war. A wandering tribe of the Blemmyes or Nubians invaded
his solitary prison: in their retreat they dismissed a crowd of useless
captives: but no sooner had Nestorius reached the banks of the Nile,
than he would gladly have escaped from a Roman and orthodox city, to the
milder servitude of the savages. His flight was punished as a new crime:
the soul of the patriarch inspired the civil and ecclesiastical powers
of Egypt; the magistrates, the soldiers, the monks, devoutly tortured
the enemy of Christ and St. Cyril; and, as far as the confines of
Æthiopia, the heretic was alternately dragged and recalled, till his
aged body was broken by the hardships and accidents of these reiterated
journeys. Yet his mind was still independent and erect; the president
of Thebais was awed by his pastoral letters; he survived the Catholic
tyrant of Alexandria, and, after sixteen years' banishment, the synod of
Chalcedon would perhaps have restored him to the honors, or at least
to the communion, of the church. The death of Nestorius prevented his
obedience to their welcome summons; and his disease might afford some
color to the scandalous report, that his tongue, the organ of blasphemy,
had been eaten by the worms. He was buried in a city of Upper Egypt,
known by the names of Chemnis, or Panopolis, or Akmim; but the immortal
malice of the Jacobites has persevered for ages to cast stones against
his sepulchre, and to propagate the foolish tradition, that it was never
watered by the rain of heaven, which equally descends on the righteous
and the ungodly. Humanity may drop a tear on the fate of Nestorius;
yet justice must observe, that he suffered the persecution which he had
approved and inflicted.



Chapter XLVII: Ecclesiastical Discord.--Part III.

The death of the Alexandrian primate, after a reign of thirty-two years,
abandoned the Catholics to the intemperance of zeal and the abuse
of victory. The _monophysite_ doctrine (one incarnate nature) was
rigorously preached in the churches of Egypt and the monasteries of the
East; the primitive creed of Apollinarius was protected by the sanctity
of Cyril; and the name of Eutyches, his venerable friend, has been
applied to the sect most adverse to the Syrian heresy of Nestorius. His
rival Eutyches was the abbot, or archimandrite, or superior of three
hundred monks, but the opinions of a simple and illiterate recluse might
have expired in the cell, where he had slept above seventy years, if the
resentment or indiscretion of Flavian, the Byzantine pontiff, had not
exposed the scandal to the eyes of the Christian world. His domestic
synod was instantly convened, their proceedings were sullied with
clamor and artifice, and the aged heretic was surprised into a seeming
confession, that Christ had not derived his body from the substance
of the Virgin Mary. From their partial decree, Eutyches appealed to a
general council; and his cause was vigorously asserted by his godson
Chrysaphius, the reigning eunuch of the palace, and his accomplice
Dioscorus, who had succeeded to the throne, the creed, the talents,
and the vices, of the nephew of Theophilus. By the special summons of
Theodosius, the second synod of Ephesus was judiciously composed of
ten metropolitans and ten bishops from each of the six dioceses of the
Eastern empire: some exceptions of favor or merit enlarged the number to
one hundred and thirty-five; and the Syrian Barsumas, as the chief
and representative of the monks, was invited to sit and vote with
the successors of the apostles. But the despotism of the Alexandrian
patriarch again oppressed the freedom of debate: the same spiritual and
carnal weapons were again drawn from the arsenals of Egypt: the Asiatic
veterans, a band of archers, served under the orders of Dioscorus; and
the more formidable monks, whose minds were inaccessible to reason or
mercy, besieged the doors of the cathedral. The general, and, as it
should seem, the unconstrained voice of the fathers, accepted the faith
and even the anathemas of Cyril; and the heresy of the two natures
was formally condemned in the persons and writings of the most learned
Orientals. "May those who divide Christ be divided with the sword, may
they be hewn in pieces, may they be burned alive!" were the charitable
wishes of a Christian synod. The innocence and sanctity of Eutyches were
acknowledged without hesitation; but the prelates, more especially those
of Thrace and Asia, were unwilling to depose their patriarch for the use
or even the abuse of his lawful jurisdiction. They embraced the knees of
Dioscorus, as he stood with a threatening aspect on the footstool of
his throne, and conjured him to forgive the offences, and to respect the
dignity, of his brother. "Do you mean to raise a sedition?" exclaimed
the relentless tyrant. "Where are the officers?" At these words a
furious multitude of monks and soldiers, with staves, and swords, and
chains, burst into the church; the trembling bishops hid themselves
behind the altar, or under the benches, and as they were not inspired
with the zeal of martyrdom, they successively subscribed a blank paper,
which was afterwards filled with the condemnation of the Byzantine
pontiff. Flavian was instantly delivered to the wild beasts of this
spiritual amphitheatre: the monks were stimulated by the voice and
example of Barsumas to avenge the injuries of Christ: it is said that
the patriarch of Alexandria reviled, and buffeted, and kicked, and
trampled his brother of Constantinople: it is certain, that the victim,
before he could reach the place of his exile, expired on the third day
of the wounds and bruises which he had received at Ephesus. This second
synod has been justly branded as a gang of robbers and assassins; yet
the accusers of Dioscorus would magnify his violence, to alleviate the
cowardice and inconstancy of their own behavior.

The faith of Egypt had prevailed: but the vanquished party was supported
by the same pope who encountered without fear the hostile rage of Attila
and Genseric. The theology of Leo, his famous _tome_ or epistle on
the mystery of the incarnation, had been disregarded by the synod of
Ephesus: his authority, and that of the Latin church, was insulted in
his legates, who escaped from slavery and death to relate the melancholy
tale of the tyranny of Dioscorus and the martyrdom of Flavian. His
provincial synod annulled the irregular proceedings of Ephesus; but
as this step was itself irregular, he solicited the convocation of a
general council in the free and orthodox provinces of Italy. From his
independent throne, the Roman bishop spoke and acted without danger
as the head of the Christians, and his dictates were obsequiously
transcribed by Placidia and her son Valentinian; who addressed their
Eastern colleague to restore the peace and unity of the church. But the
pageant of Oriental royalty was moved with equal dexterity by the hand
of the eunuch; and Theodosius could pronounce, without hesitation, that
the church was already peaceful and triumphant, and that the recent
flame had been extinguished by the just punishment of the Nestorians.
Perhaps the Greeks would be still involved in the heresy of the
Monophysites, if the emperor's horse had not fortunately stumbled;
Theodosius expired; his orthodox sister Pulcheria, with a nominal
husband, succeeded to the throne; Chrysaphius was burnt, Dioscorus was
disgraced, the exiles were recalled, and the tome of Leo was subscribed
by the Oriental bishops. Yet the pope was disappointed in his favorite
project of a Latin council: he disdained to preside in the Greek synod,
which was speedily assembled at Nice in Bithynia; his legates required
in a peremptory tone the presence of the emperor; and the weary fathers
were transported to Chalcedon under the immediate eye of Marcian and
the senate of Constantinople. A quarter of a mile from the Thracian
Bosphorus, the church of St. Euphemia was built on the summit of a
gentle though lofty ascent: the triple structure was celebrated as a
prodigy of art, and the boundless prospect of the land and sea might
have raised the mind of a sectary to the contemplation of the God of
the universe. Six hundred and thirty bishops were ranged in order in the
nave of the church; but the patriarchs of the East were preceded by the
legates, of whom the third was a simple priest; and the place of honor
was reserved for twenty laymen of consular or senatorian rank. The
gospel was ostentatiously displayed in the centre, but the rule of
faith was defined by the Papal and Imperial ministers, who moderated
the thirteen sessions of the council of Chalcedon. Their partial
interposition silenced the intemperate shouts and execrations, which
degraded the episcopal gravity; but, on the formal accusation of the
legates, Dioscorus was compelled to descend from his throne to the
rank of a criminal, already condemned in the opinion of his judges. The
Orientals, less adverse to Nestorius than to Cyril, accepted the Romans
as their deliverers: Thrace, and Pontus, and Asia, were exasperated
against the murderer of Flavian, and the new patriarchs of
Constantinople and Antioch secured their places by the sacrifice of
their benefactor. The bishops of Palestine, Macedonia, and Greece, were
attached to the faith of Cyril; but in the face of the synod, in the
heat of the battle, the leaders, with their obsequious train, passed
from the right to the left wing, and decided the victory by this
seasonable desertion. Of the seventeen suffragans who sailed from
Alexandria, four were tempted from their allegiance, and the thirteen,
falling prostrate on the ground, implored the mercy of the council, with
sighs and tears, and a pathetic declaration, that, if they yielded, they
should be massacred, on their return to Egypt, by the indignant people.
A tardy repentance was allowed to expiate the guilt or error of the
accomplices of Dioscorus: but their sins were accumulated on his head;
he neither asked nor hoped for pardon, and the moderation of those
who pleaded for a general amnesty was drowned in the prevailing cry of
victory and revenge. To save the reputation of his late adherents,
some _personal_ offences were skilfully detected; his rash and illegal
excommunication of the pope, and his contumacious refusal (while he was
detained a prisoner) to attend to the summons of the synod. Witnesses
were introduced to prove the special facts of his pride, avarice, and
cruelty; and the fathers heard with abhorrence, that the alms of the
church were lavished on the female dancers, that his palace, and even
his bath, was open to the prostitutes of Alexandria, and that the
infamous Pansophia, or Irene, was publicly entertained as the concubine
of the patriarch.

For these scandalous offences, Dioscorus was deposed by the synod, and
banished by the emperor; but the purity of his faith was declared in the
presence, and with the tacit approbation, of the fathers. Their prudence
supposed rather than pronounced the heresy of Eutyches, who was never
summoned before their tribunal; and they sat silent and abashed, when
a bold Monophysite casting at their feet a volume of Cyril, challenged
them to anathematize in his person the doctrine of the saint. If we
fairly peruse the acts of Chalcedon as they are recorded by the orthodox
party, we shall find that a great majority of the bishops embraced the
simple unity of Christ; and the ambiguous concession that he was formed
Of or From two natures, might imply either their previous existence,
or their subsequent confusion, or some dangerous interval between the
conception of the man and the assumption of the God. The Roman theology,
more positive and precise, adopted the term most offensive to the ears
of the Egyptians, that Christ existed In two natures; and this momentous
particle (which the memory, rather than the understanding, must retain)
had almost produced a schism among the Catholic bishops. The _tome_
of Leo had been respectfully, perhaps sincerely, subscribed; but they
protested, in two successive debates, that it was neither expedient nor
lawful to transgress the sacred landmarks which had been fixed at Nice,
Constantinople, and Ephesus, according to the rule of Scripture and
tradition. At length they yielded to the importunities of their masters;
but their infallible decree, after it had been ratified with deliberate
votes and vehement acclamations, was overturned in the next session by
the opposition of the legates and their Oriental friends. It was in vain
that a multitude of episcopal voices repeated in chorus, "The definition
of the fathers is orthodox and immutable! The heretics are now
discovered! Anathema to the Nestorians! Let them depart from the synod!
Let them repair to Rome." The legates threatened, the emperor was
absolute, and a committee of eighteen bishops prepared a new decree,
which was imposed on the reluctant assembly. In the name of the fourth
general council, the Christ in one person, but in two natures, was
announced to the Catholic world: an invisible line was drawn between
the heresy of Apollinaris and the faith of St. Cyril; and the road to
paradise, a bridge as sharp as a razor, was suspended over the abyss
by the master-hand of the theological artist. During ten centuries of
blindness and servitude, Europe received her religious opinions from the
oracle of the Vatican; and the same doctrine, already varnished with the
rust of antiquity, was admitted without dispute into the creed of the
reformers, who disclaimed the supremacy of the Roman pontiff. The synod
of Chalcedon still triumphs in the Protestant churches; but the ferment
of controversy has subsided, and the most pious Christians of the
present day are ignorant, or careless, of their own belief concerning
the mystery of the incarnation.

Far different was the temper of the Greeks and Egyptians under the
orthodox reigns of Leo and Marcian. Those pious emperors enforced with
arms and edicts the symbol of their faith; and it was declared by the
conscience or honor of five hundred bishops, that the decrees of the
synod of Chalcedon might be lawfully supported, even with blood. The
Catholics observed with satisfaction, that the same synod was odious
both to the Nestorians and the Monophysites; but the Nestorians were
less angry, or less powerful, and the East was distracted by the
obstinate and sanguinary zeal of the Monophysites. Jerusalem was
occupied by an army of monks; in the name of the one incarnate nature,
they pillaged, they burnt, they murdered; the sepulchre of Christ was
defiled with blood; and the gates of the city were guarded in tumultuous
rebellion against the troops of the emperor. After the disgrace and
exile of Dioscorus, the Egyptians still regretted their spiritual
father; and detested the usurpation of his successor, who was introduced
by the fathers of Chalcedon. The throne of Proterius was supported by a
guard of two thousand soldiers: he waged a five years' war against the
people of Alexandria; and on the first intelligence of the death of
Marcian, he became the victim of their zeal. On the third day before
the festival of Easter, the patriarch was besieged in the cathedral,
and murdered in the baptistery. The remains of his mangled corpse were
delivered to the flames, and his ashes to the wind; and the deed was
inspired by the vision of a pretended angel: an ambitious monk, who,
under the name of Timothy the Cat, succeeded to the place and opinions
of Dioscorus. This deadly superstition was inflamed, on either side,
by the principle and the practice of retaliation: in the pursuit of a
metaphysical quarrel, many thousands were slain, and the Christians of
every degree were deprived of the substantial enjoyments of social life,
and of the invisible gifts of baptism and the holy communion. Perhaps
an extravagant fable of the times may conceal an allegorical picture
of these fanatics, who tortured each other and themselves. "Under the
consulship of Venantius and Celer," says a grave bishop, "the people
of Alexandria, and all Egypt, were seized with a strange and diabolical
frenzy: great and small, slaves and freedmen, monks and clergy, the
natives of the land, who opposed the synod of Chalcedon, lost their
speech and reason, barked like dogs, and tore, with their own teeth the
flesh from their hands and arms."

The disorders of thirty years at length produced the famous Henoticon
of the emperor Zeno, which in his reign, and in that of Anastasius, was
signed by all the bishops of the East, under the penalty of degradation
and exile, if they rejected or infringed this salutary and fundamental
law. The clergy may smile or groan at the presumption of a layman who
defines the articles of faith; yet if he stoops to the humiliating task,
his mind is less infected by prejudice or interest, and the authority of
the magistrate can only be maintained by the concord of the people. It
is in ecclesiastical story, that Zeno appears least contemptible; and I
am not able to discern any Manichæan or Eutychian guilt in the generous
saying of Anastasius. That it was unworthy of an emperor to persecute
the worshippers of Christ and the citizens of Rome. The Henoticon was
most pleasing to the Egyptians; yet the smallest blemish has not been
described by the jealous, and even jaundiced eyes of our orthodox
schoolmen, and it accurately represents the Catholic faith of the
incarnation, without adopting or disclaiming the peculiar terms of
tenets of the hostile sects. A solemn anathema is pronounced against
Nestorius and Eutyches; against all heretics by whom Christ is divided,
or confounded, or reduced to a phantom. Without defining the number
or the article of the word _nature_, the pure system of St. Cyril, the
faith of Nice, Constantinople, and Ephesus, is respectfully confirmed;
but, instead of bowing at the name of the fourth council, the subject
is dismissed by the censure of all contrary doctrines, _if_ any such
have been taught either elsewhere or at Chalcedon. Under this ambiguous
expression, the friends and the enemies of the last synod might unite in
a silent embrace. The most reasonable Christians acquiesced in this mode
of toleration; but their reason was feeble and inconstant, and their
obedience was despised as timid and servile by the vehement spirit of
their brethren. On a subject which engrossed the thoughts and discourses
of men, it was difficult to preserve an exact neutrality; a book, a
sermon, a prayer, rekindled the flame of controversy; and the bonds of
communion were alternately broken and renewed by the private animosity
of the bishops. The space between Nestorius and Eutyches was filled by
a thousand shades of language and opinion; the _acephali_ of Egypt, and
the Roman pontiffs, of equal valor, though of unequal strength, may be
found at the two extremities of the theological scale. The acephali,
without a king or a bishop, were separated above three hundred years
from the patriarchs of Alexandria, who had accepted the communion of
Constantinople, without exacting a formal condemnation of the synod of
Chalcedon. For accepting the communion of Alexandria, without a formal
approbation of the same synod, the patriarchs of Constantinople were
anathematized by the popes. Their inflexible despotism involved the most
orthodox of the Greek churches in this spiritual contagion, denied or
doubted the validity of their sacraments, and fomented, thirty-five
years, the schism of the East and West, till they finally abolished the
memory of four Byzantine pontiffs, who had dared to oppose the supremacy
of St. Peter. Before that period, the precarious truce of Constantinople
and Egypt had been violated by the zeal of the rival prelates.
Macedonius, who was suspected of the Nestorian heresy, asserted, in
disgrace and exile, the synod of Chalcedon, while the successor of Cyril
would have purchased its overthrow with a bribe of two thousand pounds
of gold.

In the fever of the times, the sense, or rather the sound of a syllable,
was sufficient to disturb the peace of an empire. The Trisagion (thrice
holy,) "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts!" is supposed, by the
Greeks, to be the identical hymn which the angels and cherubim eternally
repeat before the throne of God, and which, about the middle of
the fifth century, was miraculously revealed to the church of
Constantinople. The devotion of Antioch soon added, "who was crucified
for us!" and this grateful address, either to Christ alone, or to the
whole Trinity, may be justified by the rules of theology, and has been
gradually adopted by the Catholics of the East and West. But it had
been imagined by a Monophysite bishop; the gift of an enemy was at first
rejected as a dire and dangerous blasphemy, and the rash innovation had
nearly cost the emperor Anastasius his throne and his life. The people
of Constantinople was devoid of any rational principles of freedom; but
they held, as a lawful cause of rebellion, the color of a livery in the
races, or the color of a mystery in the schools. The Trisagion, with
and without this obnoxious addition, was chanted in the cathedral by two
adverse choirs, and when their lungs were exhausted, they had recourse
to the more solid arguments of sticks and stones; the aggressors were
punished by the emperor, and defended by the patriarch; and the crown
and mitre were staked on the event of this momentous quarrel. The
streets were instantly crowded with innumerable swarms of men, women,
and children; the legions of monks, in regular array, marched, and
shouted, and fought at their head, "Christians! this is the day of
martyrdom: let us not desert our spiritual father; anathema to the
Manichæan tyrant! he is unworthy to reign." Such was the Catholic cry;
and the galleys of Anastasius lay upon their oars before the palace,
till the patriarch had pardoned his penitent, and hushed the waves
of the troubled multitude. The triumph of Macedonius was checked by a
speedy exile; but the zeal of his flock was again exasperated by the
same question, "Whether one of the Trinity had been crucified?" On
this momentous occasion, the blue and green factions of Constantinople
suspended their discord, and the civil and military powers were
annihilated in their presence. The keys of the city, and the standards
of the guards, were deposited in the forum of Constantine, the principal
station and camp of the faithful. Day and night they were incessantly
busied either in singing hymns to the honor of their God, or in
pillaging and murdering the servants of their prince. The head of his
favorite monk, the friend, as they styled him, of the enemy of the Holy
Trinity, was borne aloft on a spear; and the firebrands, which had
been darted against heretical structures, diffused the undistinguishing
flames over the most orthodox buildings. The statues of the emperor were
broken, and his person was concealed in a suburb, till, at the end of
three days, he dared to implore the mercy of his subjects. Without his
diadem, and in the posture of a suppliant, Anastasius appeared on the
throne of the circus. The Catholics, before his face, rehearsed their
genuine Trisagion; they exulted in the offer, which he proclaimed by
the voice of a herald, of abdicating the purple; they listened to the
admonition, that, since _all_ could not reign, they should previously
agree in the choice of a sovereign; and they accepted the blood of two
unpopular ministers, whom their master, without hesitation, condemned to
the lions. These furious but transient seditions were encouraged by the
success of Vitalian, who, with an army of Huns and Bulgarians, for
the most part idolaters, declared himself the champion of the Catholic
faith. In this pious rebellion he depopulated Thrace, besieged
Constantinople, exterminated sixty-five thousand of his
fellow-Christians, till he obtained the recall of the bishops, the
satisfaction of the pope, and the establishment of the council
of Chalcedon, an orthodox treaty, reluctantly signed by the dying
Anastasius, and more faithfully performed by the uncle of Justinian. And
such was the event of the _first_ of the religious wars which have been
waged in the name and by the disciples, of the God of peace.



Chapter XLVII: Ecclesiastical Discord.--Part IV.

Justinian has been already seen in the various lights of a prince, a
conqueror, and a lawgiver: the theologian still remains, and it affords
an unfavorable prejudice, that his theology should form a very prominent
feature of his portrait. The sovereign sympathized with his subjects in
their superstitious reverence for living and departed saints: his Code,
and more especially his Novels, confirm and enlarge the privileges
of the clergy; and in every dispute between a monk and a layman, the
partial judge was inclined to pronounce, that truth, and innocence,
and justice, were always on the side of the church. In his public and
private devotions, the emperor was assiduous and exemplary; his prayers,
vigils, and fasts, displayed the austere penance of a monk; his fancy
was amused by the hope, or belief, of personal inspiration; he had
secured the patronage of the Virgin and St. Michael the archangel; and
his recovery from a dangerous disease was ascribed to the miraculous
succor of the holy martyrs Cosmas and Damian. The capital and the
provinces of the East were decorated with the monuments of his religion;
and though the far greater part of these costly structures may be
attributed to his taste or ostentation, the zeal of the royal architect
was probably quickened by a genuine sense of love and gratitude towards
his invisible benefactors. Among the titles of Imperial greatness, the
name of _Pious_ was most pleasing to his ear; to promote the temporal
and spiritual interest of the church was the serious business of his
life; and the duty of father of his country was often sacrificed to that
of defender of the faith. The controversies of the times were congenial
to his temper and understanding and the theological professors must
inwardly deride the diligence of a stranger, who cultivated their art
and neglected his own. "What can ye fear," said a bold conspirator to
his associates, "from your bigoted tyrant? Sleepless and unarmed, he
sits whole nights in his closet, debating with reverend graybeards, and
turning over the pages of ecclesiastical volumes." The fruits of these
lucubrations were displayed in many a conference, where Justinian might
shine as the loudest and most subtile of the disputants; in many a
sermon, which, under the name of edicts and epistles, proclaimed to the
empire the theology of their master. While the Barbarians invaded the
provinces, while the victorious legion marched under the banners of
Belisarius and Narses, the successor of Trajan, unknown to the camp,
was content to vanquish at the head of a synod. Had he invited to these
synods a disinterested and rational spectator, Justinian might have
learned, "_that_ religious controversy is the offspring of arrogance
and folly; _that_ true piety is most laudably expressed by silence and
submission; _that_ man, ignorant of his own nature, should not presume
to scrutinize the nature of his God; and _that_ it is sufficient for us
to know, that power and benevolence are the perfect attributes of the
Deity."

Toleration was not the virtue of the times, and indulgence to rebels has
seldom been the virtue of princes. But when the prince descends to the
narrow and peevish character of a disputant, he is easily provoked to
supply the defect of argument by the plenitude of power, and to chastise
without mercy the perverse blindness of those who wilfully shut their
eyes against the light of demonstration. The reign of Justinian was
a uniform yet various scene of persecution; and he appears to have
surpassed his indolent predecessors, both in the contrivance of his laws
and the rigor of their execution. The insufficient term of three months
was assigned for the conversion or exile of all heretics; and if he
still connived at their precarious stay, they were deprived, under
his iron yoke, not only of the benefits of society, but of the common
birth-right of men and Christians. At the end of four hundred years, the
Montanists of Phrygia still breathed the wild enthusiasm of perfection
and prophecy which they had imbibed from their male and female apostles,
the special organs of the Paraclete. On the approach of the Catholic
priests and soldiers, they grasped with alacrity the crown of martyrdom
the conventicle and the congregation perished in the flames, but these
primitive fanatics were not extinguished three hundred years after
the death of their tyrant. Under the protection of their Gothic
confederates, the church of the Arians at Constantinople had braved the
severity of the laws: their clergy equalled the wealth and magnificence
of the senate; and the gold and silver which were seized by the
rapacious hand of Justinian might perhaps be claimed as the spoils of
the provinces, and the trophies of the Barbarians. A secret remnant of
Pagans, who still lurked in the most refined and most rustic conditions
of mankind, excited the indignation of the Christians, who were perhaps
unwilling that any strangers should be the witnesses of their intestine
quarrels. A bishop was named as the inquisitor of the faith, and his
diligence soon discovered, in the court and city, the magistrates,
lawyers, physicians, and sophists, who still cherished the superstition
of the Greeks. They were sternly informed that they must choose without
delay between the displeasure of Jupiter or Justinian, and that their
aversion to the gospel could no longer be distinguished under the
scandalous mask of indifference or impiety. The patrician Photius,
perhaps, alone was resolved to live and to die like his ancestors: he
enfranchised himself with the stroke of a dagger, and left his tyrant
the poor consolation of exposing with ignominy the lifeless corpse of
the fugitive. His weaker brethren submitted to their earthly monarch,
underwent the ceremony of baptism, and labored, by their extraordinary
zeal, to erase the suspicion, or to expiate the guilt, of idolatry.
The native country of Homer, and the theatre of the Trojan war, still
retained the last sparks of his mythology: by the care of the same
bishop, seventy thousand Pagans were detected and converted in Asia,
Phrygia, Lydia, and Caria; ninety-six churches were built for the new
proselytes; and linen vestments, Bibles, and liturgies, and vases of
gold and silver, were supplied by the pious munificence of Justinian.
The Jews, who had been gradually stripped of their immunities, were
oppressed by a vexatious law, which compelled them to observe the
festival of Easter the same day on which it was celebrated by the
Christians. And they might complain with the more reason, since the
Catholics themselves did not agree with the astronomical calculations of
their sovereign: the people of Constantinople delayed the beginning of
their Lent a whole week after it had been ordained by authority; and
they had the pleasure of fasting seven days, while meat was exposed for
sale by the command of the emperor. The Samaritans of Palestine were a
motley race, an ambiguous sect, rejected as Jews by the Pagans, by the
Jews as schismatics, and by the Christians as idolaters. The abomination
of the cross had already been planted on their holy mount of Garizim,
but the persecution of Justinian offered only the alternative of baptism
or rebellion. They chose the latter: under the standard of a desperate
leader, they rose in arms, and retaliated their wrongs on the lives, the
property, and the temples, of a defenceless people. The Samaritans were
finally subdued by the regular forces of the East: twenty thousand were
slain, twenty thousand were sold by the Arabs to the infidels of Persia
and India, and the remains of that unhappy nation atoned for the crime
of treason by the sin of hypocrisy. It has been computed that one
hundred thousand Roman subjects were extirpated in the Samaritan war,
which converted the once fruitful province into a desolate and smoking
wilderness. But in the creed of Justinian, the guilt of murder could not
be applied to the slaughter of unbelievers; and he piously labored to
establish with fire and sword the unity of the Christian faith.

With these sentiments, it was incumbent on him, at least, to be always
in the right. In the first years of his administration, he signalized
his zeal as the disciple and patron of orthodoxy: the reconciliation of
the Greeks and Latins established the _tome_ of St. Leo as the creed of
the emperor and the empire; the Nestorians and Eutychians were exposed.
on either side, to the double edge of persecution; and the four synods
of Nice, Constantinople, Ephesus, and _Chalcedon_, were ratified by the
code of a Catholic lawgiver. But while Justinian strove to maintain the
uniformity of faith and worship, his wife Theodora, whose vices were not
incompatible with devotion, had listened to the Monophysite teachers;
and the open or clandestine enemies of the church revived and multiplied
at the smile of their gracious patroness. The capital, the palace, the
nuptial bed, were torn by spiritual discord; yet so doubtful was the
sincerity of the royal consorts, that their seeming disagreement was
imputed by many to a secret and mischievous confederacy against the
religion and happiness of their people. The famous dispute of the Three
Chapters, which has filled more volumes than it deserves lines, is
deeply marked with this subtile and disingenuous spirit. It was now
three hundred years since the body of Origen had been eaten by the
worms: his soul, of which he held the preexistence, was in the hands
of its Creator; but his writings were eagerly perused by the monks of
Palestine. In these writings, the piercing eye of Justinian descried
more than ten metaphysical errors; and the primitive doctor, in the
company of Pythagoras and Plato, was devoted by the clergy to the
_eternity_ of hell-fire, which he had presumed to deny. Under the
cover of this precedent, a treacherous blow was aimed at the council of
Chalcedon. The fathers had listened without impatience to the praise
of Theodore of Mopsuestia; and their justice or indulgence had restored
both Theodore of Cyrrhus, and Ibas of Edessa, to the communion of the
church. But the characters of these Oriental bishops were tainted with
the reproach of heresy; the first had been the master, the two others
were the friends, of Nestorius; their most suspicious passages were
accused under the title of the _three chapters_; and the condemnation
of their memory must involve the honor of a synod, whose name was
pronounced with sincere or affected reverence by the Catholic world. If
these bishops, whether innocent or guilty, were annihilated in the sleep
of death, they would not probably be awakened by the clamor which, after
the a hundred years, was raised over their grave. If they were already
in the fangs of the dæmon, their torments could neither be aggravated
nor assuaged by human industry. If in the company of saints and angels
they enjoyed the rewards of piety, they must have smiled at the idle
fury of the theological insects who still crawled on the surface of the
earth. The foremost of these insects, the emperor of the Romans, darted
his sting, and distilled his venom, perhaps without discerning the true
motives of Theodora and her ecclesiastical faction. The victims were no
longer subject to his power, and the vehement style of his edicts could
only proclaim their damnation, and invite the clergy of the East to
join in a full chorus of curses and anathemas. The East, with some
hesitation, consented to the voice of her sovereign: the fifth general
council, of three patriarchs and one hundred and sixty-five bishops, was
held at Constantinople; and the authors, as well as the defenders, of
the three chapters were separated from the communion of the saints, and
solemnly delivered to the prince of darkness. But the Latin churches
were more jealous of the honor of Leo and the synod of Chalcedon: and
if they had fought as they usually did under the standard of Rome, they
might have prevailed in the cause of reason and humanity. But their
chief was a prisoner in the hands of the enemy; the throne of St. Peter,
which had been disgraced by the simony, was betrayed by the cowardice,
of Vigilius, who yielded, after a long and inconsistent struggle, to
the despotism of Justinian and the sophistry of the Greeks. His apostasy
provoked the indignation of the Latins, and no more than two bishops
could be found who would impose their hands on his deacon and successor
Pelagius. Yet the perseverance of the popes insensibly transferred to
their adversaries the appellation of schismatics; the Illyrian, African,
and Italian churches were oppressed by the civil and ecclesiastical
powers, not without some effort of military force; the distant
Barbarians transcribed the creed of the Vatican, and, in the period of a
century, the schism of the three chapters expired in an obscure angle of
the Venetian province. But the religious discontent of the Italians
had already promoted the conquests of the Lombards, and the Romans
themselves were accustomed to suspect the faith and to detest the
government of their Byzantine tyrant.

Justinian was neither steady nor consistent in the nice process of
fixing his volatile opinions and those of his subjects. In his youth he
was, offended by the slightest deviation from the orthodox line; in
his old age he transgressed the measure of temperate heresy, and
the Jacobites, not less than the Catholics, were scandalized by his
declaration, that the body of Christ was incorruptible, and that his
manhood was never subject to any wants and infirmities, the inheritance
of our mortal flesh. This _fantastic_ opinion was announced in the last
edicts of Justinian; and at the moment of his seasonable departure, the
clergy had refused to subscribe, the prince was prepared to persecute,
and the people were resolved to suffer or resist. A bishop of Treves,
secure beyond the limits of his power, addressed the monarch of the East
in the language of authority and affection. "Most gracious Justinian,
remember your baptism and your creed. Let not your gray hairs be defiled
with heresy. Recall your fathers from exile, and your followers from
perdition. You cannot be ignorant, that Italy and Gaul, Spain and
Africa, already deplore your fall, and anathematize your name. Unless,
without delay, you destroy what you have taught; unless you exclaim
with a loud voice, I have erred, I have sinned, anathema to Nestorius,
anathema to Eutyches, you deliver your soul to the same flames in
which _they_ will eternally burn." He died and made no sign. His death
restored in some degree the peace of the church, and the reigns of his
four successors, Justin Tiberius, Maurice, and Phocas, are distinguished
by a rare, though fortunate, vacancy in the ecclesiastical history of
the East.

The faculties of sense and reason are least capable of acting on
themselves; the eye is most inaccessible to the sight, the soul to the
thought; yet we think, and even feel, that _one will_, a sole principle
of action, is essential to a rational and conscious being. When
Heraclius returned from the Persian war, the orthodox hero consulted his
bishops, whether the Christ whom he adored, of one person, but of two
natures, was actuated by a single or a double will. They replied in the
singular, and the emperor was encouraged to hope that the Jacobites of
Egypt and Syria might be reconciled by the profession of a doctrine,
most certainly harmless, and most probably true, since it was taught
even by the Nestorians themselves. The experiment was tried without
effect, and the timid or vehement Catholics condemned even the semblance
of a retreat in the presence of a subtle and audacious enemy. The
orthodox (the prevailing) party devised new modes of speech, and
argument, and interpretation: to either nature of Christ they speciously
applied a proper and distinct energy; but the difference was no longer
visible when they allowed that the human and the divine will were
invariably the same. The disease was attended with the customary
symptoms: but the Greek clergy, as if satiated with the endless
controversy of the incarnation, instilled a healing counsel into the
ear of the prince and people. They declared themselves monothelites,
(asserters of the unity of will,) but they treated the words as new,
the questions as superfluous; and recommended a religious silence as the
most agreeable to the prudence and charity of the gospel. This law of
silence was successively imposed by the _ecthesis_ or exposition
of Heraclius, the _type_ or model of his grandson Constans; and the
Imperial edicts were subscribed with alacrity or reluctance by the four
patriarchs of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch. But the
bishop and monks of Jerusalem sounded the alarm: in the language, or
even in the silence, of the Greeks, the Latin churches detected a
latent heresy: and the obedience of Pope Honorius to the commands of
his sovereign was retracted and censured by the bolder ignorance of his
successors. They condemned the execrable and abominable heresy of the
Monothelites, who revived the errors of Manes, Apollinaris, Eutyches,
&c.; they signed the sentence of excommunication on the tomb of St.
Peter; the ink was mingled with the sacramental wine, the blood of
Christ; and no ceremony was omitted that could fill the superstitious
mind with horror and affright. As the representative of the Western
church, Pope Martin and his Lateran synod anathematized the perfidious
and guilty silence of the Greeks: one hundred and five bishops of Italy,
for the most part the subjects of Constans, presumed to reprobate his
wicked _type_, and the impious _ecthesis_ of his grandfather; and to
confound the authors and their adherents with the twenty-one notorious
heretics, the apostates from the church, and the organs of the devil.
Such an insult under the tamest reign could not pass with impunity.
Pope Martin ended his days on the inhospitable shore of the Tauric
Chersonesus, and his oracle, the abbot Maximus, was inhumanly chastised
by the amputation of his tongue and his right hand. But the same
invincible spirit survived in their successors; and the triumph of the
Latins avenged their recent defeat, and obliterated the disgrace of the
three chapters. The synods of Rome were confirmed by the sixth general
council of Constantinople, in the palace and the presence of a new
Constantine, a descendant of Heraclius. The royal convert converted the
Byzantine pontiff and a majority of the bishops; the dissenters, with
their chief, Macarius of Antioch, were condemned to the spiritual and
temporal pains of heresy; the East condescended to accept the lessons of
the West; and the creed was finally settled, which teaches the Catholics
of every age, that two wills or energies are harmonized in the person of
Christ. The majesty of the pope and the Roman synod was represented by
two priests, one deacon, and three bishops; but these obscure Latins
had neither arms to compel, nor treasures to bribe, nor language to
persuade; and I am ignorant by what arts they could determine the lofty
emperor of the Greeks to abjure the catechism of his infancy, and to
persecute the religion of his fathers. Perhaps the monks and people of
Constantinople were favorable to the Lateran creed, which is indeed the
least reasonable of the two: and the suspicion is countenanced by the
unnatural moderation of the Greek clergy, who appear in this quarrel
to be conscious of their weakness. While the synod debated, a fanatic
proposed a more summary decision, by raising a dead man to life: the
prelates assisted at the trial; but the acknowledged failure may serve
to indicate, that the passions and prejudices of the multitude were not
enlisted on the side of the Monothelites. In the next generation,
when the son of Constantine was deposed and slain by the disciple of
Macarius, they tasted the feast of revenge and dominion: the image or
monument of the sixth council was defaced, and the original acts were
committed to the flames. But in the second year, their patron was cast
headlong from the throne, the bishops of the East were released from
their occasional conformity, the Roman faith was more firmly replanted
by the orthodox successors of Bardanes, and the fine problems of the
incarnation were forgotten in the more popular and visible quarrel of
the worship of images.

Before the end of the seventh century, the creed of the incarnation,
which had been defined at Rome and Constantinople, was uniformly
preached in the remote islands of Britain and Ireland; the same ideas
were entertained, or rather the same words were repeated, by all the
Christians whose liturgy was performed in the Greek or the Latin tongue.
Their numbers, and visible splendor, bestowed an imperfect claim to the
appellation of Catholics: but in the East, they were marked with the
less honorable name of _Melchites_, or Royalists; of men, whose faith,
instead of resting on the basis of Scripture, reason, or tradition, had
been established, and was still maintained, by the arbitrary power of
a temporal monarch. Their adversaries might allege the words of the
fathers of Constantinople, who profess themselves the slaves of the
king; and they might relate, with malicious joy, how the decrees of
Chalcedon had been inspired and reformed by the emperor Marcian and his
virgin bride. The prevailing faction will naturally inculcate the duty
of submission, nor is it less natural that dissenters should feel and
assert the principles of freedom. Under the rod of persecution, the
Nestorians and Monophysites degenerated into rebels and fugitives; and
the most ancient and useful allies of Rome were taught to consider the
emperor not as the chief, but as the enemy of the Christians. Language,
the leading principle which unites or separates the tribes of mankind,
soon discriminated the sectaries of the East, by a peculiar and
perpetual badge, which abolished the means of intercourse and the hope
of reconciliation. The long dominion of the Greeks, their colonies, and,
above all, their eloquence, had propagated a language doubtless the most
perfect that has been contrived by the art of man. Yet the body of the
people, both in Syria and Egypt, still persevered in the use of their
national idioms; with this difference, however, that the Coptic was
confined to the rude and illiterate peasants of the Nile, while the
Syriac, from the mountains of Assyria to the Red Sea, was adapted to
the higher topics of poetry and argument. Armenia and Abyssinia were
infected by the speech or learning of the Greeks; and their Barbaric
tongues, which have been revived in the studies of modern Europe, were
unintelligible to the inhabitants of the Roman empire. The Syriac
and the Coptic, the Armenian and the Æthiopic, are consecrated in the
service of their respective churches: and their theology is enriched
by domestic versions both of the Scriptures and of the most popular
fathers. After a period of thirteen hundred and sixty years, the spark
of controversy, first kindled by a sermon of Nestorius, still burns in
the bosom of the East, and the hostile communions still maintain the
faith and discipline of their founders. In the most abject state of
ignorance, poverty, and servitude, the Nestorians and Monophysites
reject the spiritual supremacy of Rome, and cherish the toleration of
their Turkish masters, which allows them to anathematize, on the one
hand, St. Cyril and the synod of Ephesus: on the other, Pope Leo and the
council of Chalcedon. The weight which they cast into the downfall of
the Eastern empire demands our notice, and the reader may be amused with
the various prospect of, I. The Nestorians; II. The Jacobites; III. The
Maronites; IV. The Armenians; V. The Copts; and, VI. The Abyssinians.
To the three former, the Syriac is common; but of the latter, each is
discriminated by the use of a national idiom. Yet the modern natives
of Armenia and Abyssinia would be incapable of conversing with their
ancestors; and the Christians of Egypt and Syria, who reject the
religion, have adopted the language of the Arabians. The lapse of time
has seconded the sacerdotal arts; and in the East, as well as in the
West, the Deity is addressed in an obsolete tongue, unknown to the
majority of the congregation.



Chapter XLVII: Ecclesiastical Discord.--Part V.

I. Both in his native and his episcopal province, the heresy of the
unfortunate Nestorius was speedily obliterated. The Oriental bishops,
who at Ephesus had resisted to his face the arrogance of Cyril,
were mollified by his tardy concessions. The same prelates, or their
successors, subscribed, not without a murmur, the decrees of Chalcedon;
the power of the Monophysites reconciled them with the Catholics in
the conformity of passion, of interest, and, insensibly, of belief;
and their last reluctant sigh was breathed in the defence of the three
chapters. Their dissenting brethren, less moderate, or more sincere,
were crushed by the penal laws; and, as early as the reign of Justinian,
it became difficult to find a church of Nestorians within the limits of
the Roman empire. Beyond those limits they had discovered a new world,
in which they might hope for liberty, and aspire to conquest. In Persia,
notwithstanding the resistance of the Magi, Christianity had struck a
deep root, and the nations of the East reposed under its salutary shade.
The _catholic_, or primate, resided in the capital: in _his_ synods, and
in _their_ dioceses, his metropolitans, bishops, and clergy, represented
the pomp and order of a regular hierarchy: they rejoiced in the increase
of proselytes, who were converted from the Zendavesta to the gospel,
from the secular to the monastic life; and their zeal was stimulated by
the presence of an artful and formidable enemy. The Persian church
had been founded by the missionaries of Syria; and their language,
discipline, and doctrine, were closely interwoven with its original
frame. The _catholics_ were elected and ordained by their own suffragans;
but their filial dependence on the patriarchs of Antioch is attested by
the canons of the Oriental church. In the Persian school of Edessa, the
rising generations of the faithful imbibed their theological idiom: they
studied in the Syriac version the ten thousand volumes of Theodore of
Mopsuestia; and they revered the apostolic faith and holy martyrdom of
his disciple Nestorius, whose person and language were equally unknown
to the nations beyond the Tigris. The first indelible lesson of Ibas,
bishop of Edessa, taught them to execrate the _Egyptians_, who, in the
synod of Ephesus, had impiously confounded the two natures of Christ.
The flight of the masters and scholars, who were twice expelled from
the Athens of Syria, dispersed a crowd of missionaries inflamed by
the double zeal of religion and revenge. And the rigid unity of the
Monophysites, who, under the reigns of Zeno and Anastasius, had invaded
the thrones of the East, provoked their antagonists, in a land of
freedom, to avow a moral, rather than a physical, union of the two
persons of Christ. Since the first preaching of the gospel, the
Sassanian kings beheld with an eye of suspicion a race of aliens and
apostates, who had embraced the religion, and who might favor the cause,
of the hereditary foes of their country. The royal edicts had often
prohibited their dangerous correspondence with the Syrian clergy: the
progress of the schism was grateful to the jealous pride of Perozes, and
he listened to the eloquence of an artful prelate, who painted Nestorius
as the friend of Persia, and urged him to secure the fidelity of his
Christian subjects, by granting a just preference to the victims and
enemies of the Roman tyrant. The Nestorians composed a large majority of
the clergy and people: they were encouraged by the smile, and armed with
the sword, of despotism; yet many of their weaker brethren were startled
at the thought of breaking loose from the communion of the Christian
world, and the blood of seven thousand seven hundred Monophysites,
or Catholics, confirmed the uniformity of faith and discipline in the
churches of Persia. Their ecclesiastical institutions are distinguished
by a liberal principle of reason, or at least of policy: the austerity
of the cloister was relaxed and gradually forgotten; houses of charity
were endowed for the education of orphans and foundlings; the law
of celibacy, so forcibly recommended to the Greeks and Latins, was
disregarded by the Persian clergy; and the number of the elect was
multiplied by the public and reiterated nuptials of the priests, the
bishops, and even the patriarch himself. To this standard of natural and
religious freedom, myriads of fugitives resorted from all the provinces
of the Eastern empire; the narrow bigotry of Justinian was punished by
the emigration of his most industrious subjects; they transported into
Persia the arts both of peace and war: and those who deserved the favor,
were promoted in the service, of a discerning monarch. The arms of
Nushirvan, and his fiercer grandson, were assisted with advice, and
money, and troops, by the desperate sectaries who still lurked in their
native cities of the East: their zeal was rewarded with the gift of the
Catholic churches; but when those cities and churches were recovered by
Heraclius, their open profession of treason and heresy compelled them
to seek a refuge in the realm of their foreign ally. But the seeming
tranquillity of the Nestorians was often endangered, and sometimes
overthrown. They were involved in the common evils of Oriental
despotism: their enmity to Rome could not always atone for their
attachment to the gospel: and a colony of three hundred thousand
Jacobites, the captives of Apamea and Antioch, was permitted to erect a
hostile altar in the face of the _catholic_, and in the sunshine of the
court. In his last treaty, Justinian introduced some conditions which
tended to enlarge and fortify the toleration of Christianity in Persia.
The emperor, ignorant of the rights of conscience, was incapable of pity
or esteem for the heretics who denied the authority of the holy synods:
but he flattered himself that they would gradually perceive the temporal
benefits of union with the empire and the church of Rome; and if
he failed in exciting their gratitude, he might hope to provoke the
jealousy of their sovereign. In a later age the Lutherans have been
burnt at Paris, and protected in Germany, by the superstition and policy
of the most Christian king.

The desire of gaining souls for God and subjects for the church, has
excited in every age the diligence of the Christian priests. From the
conquest of Persia they carried their spiritual arms to the north, the
east, and the south; and the simplicity of the gospel was fashioned and
painted with the colors of the Syriac theology. In the sixth century,
according to the report of a Nestorian traveller, Christianity was
successfully preached to the Bactrians, the Huns, the Persians, the
Indians, the Persarmenians, the Medes, and the Elamites: the Barbaric
churches, from the Gulf of Persia to the Caspian Sea, were almost
infinite; and their recent faith was conspicuous in the number and
sanctity of their monks and martyrs. The pepper coast of Malabar,
and the isles of the ocean, Socotora and Ceylon, were peopled with an
increasing multitude of Christians; and the bishops and clergy of
those sequestered regions derived their ordination from the Catholic of
Babylon. In a subsequent age the zeal of the Nestorians overleaped the
limits which had confined the ambition and curiosity both of the Greeks
and Persians. The missionaries of Balch and Samarcand pursued without
fear the footsteps of the roving Tartar, and insinuated themselves into
the camps of the valleys of Imaus and the banks of the Selinga. They
exposed a metaphysical creed to those illiterate shepherds: to those
sanguinary warriors, they recommended humanity and repose. Yet a khan,
whose power they vainly magnified, is said to have received at their
hands the rites of baptism, and even of ordination; and the fame of
_Prester_ or _Presbyter_ John has long amused the credulity of Europe.
The royal convert was indulged in the use of a portable altar; but he
despatched an embassy to the patriarch, to inquire how, in the season of
Lent, he should abstain from animal food, and how he might celebrate
the Eucharist in a desert that produced neither corn nor wine. In their
progress by sea and land, the Nestorians entered China by the port of
Canton and the northern residence of Sigan. Unlike the senators of
Rome, who assumed with a smile the characters of priests and augurs, the
mandarins, who affect in public the reason of philosophers, are devoted
in private to every mode of popular superstition. They cherished and
they confounded the gods of Palestine and of India; but the propagation
of Christianity awakened the jealousy of the state, and, after a short
vicissitude of favor and persecution, the foreign sect expired in
ignorance and oblivion. Under the reign of the caliphs, the Nestorian
church was diffused from China to Jerusalem and Cyrus; and their
numbers, with those of the Jacobites, were computed to surpass the Greek
and Latin communions. Twenty-five metropolitans or archbishops composed
their hierarchy; but several of these were dispensed, by the distance
and danger of the way, from the duty of personal attendance, on the
easy condition that every six years they should testify their faith and
obedience to the catholic or patriarch of Babylon, a vague appellation
which has been successively applied to the royal seats of Seleucia,
Ctesiphon, and Bagdad. These remote branches are long since withered;
and the old patriarchal trunk is now divided by the _Elijahs_ of
Mosul, the representatives almost on lineal descent of the genuine and
primitive succession; the _Josephs_ of Amida, who are reconciled to the
church of Rome: and the _Simeons_ of Van or Ormia, whose revolt, at the
head of forty thousand families, was promoted in the sixteenth century
by the Sophis of Persia. The number of three hundred thousand is allowed
for the whole body of the Nestorians, who, under the name of Chaldeans
or Assyrians, are confounded with the most learned or the most powerful
nation of Eastern antiquity.

According to the legend of antiquity, the gospel was preached in India
by St. Thomas. At the end of the ninth century, his shrine, perhaps in
the neighborhood of Madras, was devoutly visited by the ambassadors of
Alfred; and their return with a cargo of pearls and spices rewarded the
zeal of the English monarch, who entertained the largest projects of
trade and discovery. When the Portuguese first opened the navigation
of India, the Christians of St. Thomas had been seated for ages on
the coast of Malabar, and the difference of their character and color
attested the mixture of a foreign race. In arms, in arts, and possibly
in virtue, they excelled the natives of Hindostan; the husbandmen
cultivated the palm-tree, the merchants were enriched by the pepper
trade, the soldiers preceded the _nairs_ or nobles of Malabar, and their
hereditary privileges were respected by the gratitude or the fear of the
king of Cochin and the Zamorin himself. They acknowledged a Gentoo of
sovereign, but they were governed, even in temporal concerns, by the
bishop of Angamala. He still asserted his ancient title of metropolitan
of India, but his real jurisdiction was exercised in fourteen hundred
churches, and he was intrusted with the care of two hundred thousand
souls. Their religion would have rendered them the firmest and most
cordial allies of the Portuguese; but the inquisitors soon discerned
in the Christians of St. Thomas the unpardonable guilt of heresy and
schism. Instead of owning themselves the subjects of the Roman pontiff,
the spiritual and temporal monarch of the globe, they adhered, like
their ancestors, to the communion of the Nestorian patriarch; and the
bishops whom he ordained at Mosul, traversed the dangers of the sea and
land to reach their diocese on the coast of Malabar. In their Syriac
liturgy the names of Theodore and Nestorius were piously commemorated:
they united their adoration of the two persons of Christ; the title
of Mother of God was offensive to their ear, and they measured with
scrupulous avarice the honors of the Virgin Mary, whom the superstition
of the Latins had almost exalted to the rank of a goddess. When
her image was first presented to the disciples of St. Thomas, they
indignantly exclaimed, "We are Christians, not idolaters!" and their
simple devotion was content with the veneration of the cross. Their
separation from the Western world had left them in ignorance of the
improvements, or corruptions, of a thousand years; and their conformity
with the faith and practice of the fifth century would equally
disappoint the prejudices of a Papist or a Protestant. It was the first
care of the ministers of Rome to intercept all correspondence with the
Nestorian patriarch, and several of his bishops expired in the prisons
of the holy office. The flock, without a shepherd, was assaulted by the
power of the Portuguese, the arts of the Jesuits, and the zeal of Alexis
de Menezes, archbishop of Goa, in his personal visitation of the coast
of Malabar. The synod of Diamper, at which he presided, consummated
the pious work of the reunion; and rigorously imposed the doctrine and
discipline of the Roman church, without forgetting auricular confession,
the strongest engine of ecclesiastical torture. The memory of Theodore
and Nestorius was condemned, and Malabar was reduced under the dominion
of the pope, of the primate, and of the Jesuits who invaded the see
of Angamala or Cranganor. Sixty years of servitude and hypocrisy were
patiently endured; but as soon as the Portuguese empire was shaken by
the courage and industry of the Dutch, the Nestorians asserted, with
vigor and effect, the religion of their fathers. The Jesuits were
incapable of defending the power which they had abused; the arms of
forty thousand Christians were pointed against their falling tyrants;
and the Indian archdeacon assumed the character of bishop till a fresh
supply of episcopal gifts and Syriac missionaries could be obtained from
the patriarch of Babylon. Since the expulsion of the Portuguese, the
Nestorian creed is freely professed on the coast of Malabar. The trading
companies of Holland and England are the friends of toleration; but
if oppression be less mortifying than contempt, the Christians of St.
Thomas have reason to complain of the cold and silent indifference of
their brethren of Europe.

II. The history of the Monophysites is less copious and interesting than
that of the Nestorians. Under the reigns of Zeno and Anastasius, their
artful leaders surprised the ear of the prince, usurped the thrones of
the East, and crushed on its native soil the school of the Syrians. The
rule of the Monophysite faith was defined with exquisite discretion
by Severus, patriarch of Antioch: he condemned, in the style of the
Henoticon, the adverse heresies of Nestorius; and Eutyches maintained
against the latter the reality of the body of Christ, and constrained
the Greeks to allow that he was a liar who spoke truth. But the
approximation of ideas could not abate the vehemence of passion; each
party was the more astonished that their blind antagonist could dispute
on so trifling a difference; the tyrant of Syria enforced the belief of
his creed, and his reign was polluted with the blood of three hundred
and fifty monks, who were slain, not perhaps without provocation or
resistance, under the walls of Apamea. The successor of Anastasius
replanted the orthodox standard in the East; Severus fled into
Egypt; and his friend, the eloquent Xenaias, who had escaped from the
Nestorians of Persia, was suffocated in his exile by the Melchites of
Paphlagonia. Fifty-four bishops were swept from their thrones, eight
hundred ecclesiastics were cast into prison, and notwithstanding the
ambiguous favor of Theodora, the Oriental flocks, deprived of their
shepherds, must insensibly have been either famished or poisoned. In
this spiritual distress, the expiring faction was revived, and united,
and perpetuated, by the labors of a monk; and the name of James Baradæus
has been preserved in the appellation of _Jacobites_, a familiar sound,
which may startle the ear of an English reader. From the holy confessors
in their prison of Constantinople, he received the powers of bishop of
Edessa and apostle of the East, and the ordination of fourscore thousand
bishops, priests, and deacons, is derived from the same inexhaustible
source. The speed of the zealous missionary was promoted by the fleetest
dromedaries of a devout chief of the Arabs; the doctrine and discipline
of the Jacobites were secretly established in the dominions of
Justinian; and each Jacobite was compelled to violate the laws and to
hate the Roman legislator. The successors of Severus, while they lurked
in convents or villages, while they sheltered their proscribed heads in
the caverns of hermits, or the tents of the Saracens, still asserted,
as they now assert, their indefeasible right to the title, the rank, and
the prerogatives of patriarch of Antioch: under the milder yoke of
the infidels, they reside about a league from Merdin, in the pleasant
monastery of Zapharan, which they have embellished with cells,
aqueducts, and plantations. The secondary, though honorable, place is
filled by the _maphrian_, who, in his station at Mosul itself, defies
the Nestorian _catholic_ with whom he contests the primacy of the East.
Under the patriarch and the maphrian, one hundred and fifty archbishops
and bishops have been counted in the different ages of the Jacobite
church; but the order of the hierarchy is relaxed or dissolved, and the
greater part of their dioceses is confined to the neighborhood of the
Euphrates and the Tigris. The cities of Aleppo and Amida, which are
often visited by the patriarch, contain some wealthy merchants and
industrious mechanics, but the multitude derive their scanty sustenance
from their daily labor: and poverty, as well as superstition, may impose
their excessive fasts: five annual lents, during which both the clergy
and laity abstain not only from flesh or eggs, but even from the taste
of wine, of oil, and of fish. Their present numbers are esteemed from
fifty to fourscore thousand souls, the remnant of a populous church,
which was gradually decreased under the impression of twelve centuries.
Yet in that long period, some strangers of merit have been converted
to the Monophysite faith, and a Jew was the father of Abulpharagius,
primate of the East, so truly eminent both in his life and death. In his
life he was an elegant writer of the Syriac and Arabic tongues, a poet,
physician, and historian, a subtile philosopher, and a moderate divine.
In his death, his funeral was attended by his rival the Nestorian
patriarch, with a train of Greeks and Armenians, who forgot their
disputes, and mingled their tears over the grave of an enemy. The sect
which was honored by the virtues of Abulpharagius appears, however, to
sink below the level of their Nestorian brethren. The superstition of
the Jacobites is more abject, their fasts more rigid, their intestine
divisions are more numerous, and their doctors (as far as I can measure
the degrees of nonsense) are more remote from the precincts of reason.
Something may possibly be allowed for the rigor of the Monophysite
theology; much more for the superior influence of the monastic order.
In Syria, in Egypt, in Ethiopia, the Jacobite monks have ever been
distinguished by the austerity of their penance and the absurdity of
their legends. Alive or dead, they are worshipped as the favorites of
the Deity; the crosier of bishop and patriarch is reserved for their
venerable hands; and they assume the government of men, while they are
yet reeking with the habits and prejudices of the cloister.

III. In the style of the Oriental Christians, the Monothelites of every
age are described under the appellation of _Maronites_, a name which
has been insensibly transferred from a hermit to a monastery, from a
monastery to a nation. Maron, a saint or savage of the fifth century,
displayed his religious madness in Syria; the rival cities of Apamea and
Emesa disputed his relics, a stately church was erected on his tomb, and
six hundred of his disciples united their solitary cells on the banks
of the Orontes. In the controversies of the incarnation they nicely
threaded the orthodox line between the sects of Nestorians and Eutyches;
but the unfortunate question of _one will_ or operation in the two
natures of Christ, was generated by their curious leisure. Their
proselyte, the emperor Heraclius, was rejected as a Maronite from the
walls of Emesa, he found a refuge in the monastery of his brethren;
and their theological lessons were repaid with the gift a spacious and
wealthy domain. The name and doctrine of this venerable school were
propagated among the Greeks and Syrians, and their zeal is expressed
by Macarius, patriarch of Antioch, who declared before the synod of
Constantinople, that sooner than subscribe the _two wills_ of Christ, he
would submit to be hewn piecemeal and cast into the sea. A similar or a
less cruel mode of persecution soon converted the unresisting subjects
of the plain, while the glorious title of _Mardaites_, or rebels, was
bravely maintained by the hardy natives of Mount Libanus. John Maron,
one of the most learned and popular of the monks, assumed the character
of patriarch of Antioch; his nephew, Abraham, at the head of the
Maronites, defended their civil and religious freedom against the
tyrants of the East. The son of the orthodox Constantine pursued with
pious hatred a people of soldiers, who might have stood the bulwark of
his empire against the common foes of Christ and of Rome. An army of
Greeks invaded Syria; the monastery of St. Maron was destroyed with
fire; the bravest chieftains were betrayed and murdered, and twelve
thousand of their followers were transplanted to the distant frontiers
of Armenia and Thrace. Yet the humble nation of the Maronites had
survived the empire of Constantinople, and they still enjoy, under
their Turkish masters, a free religion and a mitigated servitude. Their
domestic governors are chosen among the ancient nobility: the patriarch,
in his monastery of Canobin, still fancies himself on the throne of
Antioch: nine bishops compose his synod, and one hundred and fifty
priests, who retain the liberty of marriage, are intrusted with the care
of one hundred thousand souls. Their country extends from the ridge of
Mount Libanus to the shores of Tripoli; and the gradual descent affords,
in a narrow space, each variety of soil and climate, from the Holy
Cedars, erect under the weight of snow, to the vine, the mulberry, and
the olive-trees of the fruitful valley. In the twelfth century, the
Maronites, abjuring the Monothelite error were reconciled to the Latin
churches of Antioch and Rome, and the same alliance has been frequently
renewed by the ambition of the popes and the distress of the Syrians.
But it may reasonably be questioned, whether their union has ever been
perfect or sincere; and the learned Maronites of the college of Rome
have vainly labored to absolve their ancestors from the guilt of heresy
and schism.

IV. Since the age of Constantine, the Armenians had signalized their
attachment to the religion and empire of the Christians. The disorders
of their country, and their ignorance of the Greek tongue, prevented
their clergy from assisting at the synod of Chalcedon, and they floated
eighty-four years in a state of indifference or suspense, till their
vacant faith was finally occupied by the missionaries of Julian of
Halicarnassus, who in Egypt, their common exile, had been vanquished
by the arguments or the influence of his rival Severus, the Monophysite
patriarch of Antioch. The Armenians alone are the pure disciples of
Eutyches, an unfortunate parent, who has been renounced by the greater
part of his spiritual progeny. They alone persevere in the opinion, that
the manhood of Christ was created, or existed without creation, of a
divine and incorruptible substance. Their adversaries reproach them with
the adoration of a phantom; and they retort the accusation, by deriding
or execrating the blasphemy of the Jacobites, who impute to the Godhead
the vile infirmities of the flesh, even the natural effects of nutrition
and digestion. The religion of Armenia could not derive much glory from
the learning or the power of its inhabitants. The royalty expired with
the origin of their schism; and their Christian kings, who arose and
fell in the thirteenth century on the confines of Cilicia, were the
clients of the Latins and the vassals of the Turkish sultan of Iconium.
The helpless nation has seldom been permitted to enjoy the tranquillity
of servitude. From the earliest period to the present hour, Armenia has
been the theatre of perpetual war: the lands between Tauris and Erivan
were dispeopled by the cruel policy of the Sophis; and myriads of
Christian families were transplanted, to perish or to propagate in the
distant provinces of Persia. Under the rod of oppression, the zeal of
the Armenians is fervent and intrepid; they have often preferred the
crown of martyrdom to the white turban of Mahomet; they devoutly hate
the error and idolatry of the Greeks; and their transient union with
the Latins is not less devoid of truth, than the thousand bishops,
whom their patriarch offered at the feet of the Roman pontiff. The
_catholic_, or patriarch, of the Armenians resides in the monastery of
Ekmiasin, three leagues from Erivan. Forty-seven archbishops, each of
whom may claim the obedience of four or five suffragans, are consecrated
by his hand; but the far greater part are only titular prelates, who
dignify with their presence and service the simplicity of his court. As
soon as they have performed the liturgy, they cultivate the garden; and
our bishops will hear with surprise, that the austerity of their life
increases in just proportion to the elevation of their rank. In the
fourscore thousand towns or villages of his spiritual empire, the
patriarch receives a small and voluntary tax from each person above the
age of fifteen; but the annual amount of six hundred thousand crowns
is insufficient to supply the incessant demands of charity and tribute.
Since the beginning of the last century, the Armenians have obtained a
large and lucrative share of the commerce of the East: in their return
from Europe, the caravan usually halts in the neighborhood of Erivan,
the altars are enriched with the fruits of their patient industry;
and the faith of Eutyches is preached in their recent congregations of
Barbary and Poland.

V. In the rest of the Roman empire, the despotism of the prince might
eradicate or silence the sectaries of an obnoxious creed. But the
stubborn temper of the Egyptians maintained their opposition to the
synod of Chalcedon, and the policy of Justinian condescended to expect
and to seize the opportunity of discord. The Monophysite church
of Alexandria was torn by the disputes of the _corruptibles_ and
_incorruptibles_, and on the death of the patriarch, the two factions
upheld their respective candidates. Gaian was the disciple of Julian,
Theodosius had been the pupil of Severus: the claims of the former were
supported by the consent of the monks and senators, the city and the
province; the latter depended on the priority of his ordination, the
favor of the empress Theodora, and the arms of the eunuch Narses, which
might have been used in more honorable warfare. The exile of the popular
candidate to Carthage and Sardinia inflamed the ferment of Alexandria;
and after a schism of one hundred and seventy years, the _Gaianites_
still revered the memory and doctrine of their founder. The strength of
numbers and of discipline was tried in a desperate and bloody conflict;
the streets were filled with the dead bodies of citizens and soldiers;
the pious women, ascending the roofs of their houses, showered down
every sharp or ponderous utensil on the heads of the enemy; and the
final victory of Narses was owing to the flames, with which he wasted
the third capital of the Roman world. But the lieutenant of Justinian
had not conquered in the cause of a heretic; Theodosius himself was
speedily, though gently, removed; and Paul of Tanis, an orthodox monk,
was raised to the throne of Athanasius. The powers of government were
strained in his support; he might appoint or displace the dukes and
tribunes of Egypt; the allowance of bread, which Diocletian had granted,
was suppressed, the churches were shut, and a nation of schismatics was
deprived at once of their spiritual and carnal food. In his turn, the
tyrant was excommunicated by the zeal and revenge of the people:
and none except his servile Melchites would salute him as a man, a
Christian, or a bishop. Yet such is the blindness of ambition, that,
when Paul was expelled on a charge of murder, he solicited, with a bribe
of seven hundred pounds of gold, his restoration to the same station of
hatred and ignominy. His successor Apollinaris entered the hostile city
in military array, alike qualified for prayer or for battle. His troops,
under arms, were distributed through the streets; the gates of the
cathedral were guarded, and a chosen band was stationed in the choir,
to defend the person of their chief. He stood erect on his throne, and,
throwing aside the upper garment of a warrior, suddenly appeared before
the eyes of the multitude in the robes of patriarch of Alexandria.
Astonishment held them mute; but no sooner had Apollinaris begun to
read the tome of St. Leo, than a volley of curses, and invectives, and
stones, assaulted the odious minister of the emperor and the synod.
A charge was instantly sounded by the successor of the apostles;
the soldiers waded to their knees in blood; and two hundred thousand
Christians are said to have fallen by the sword: an incredible account,
even if it be extended from the slaughter of a day to the eighteen years
of the reign of Apollinaris. Two succeeding patriarchs, Eulogius and
John, labored in the conversion of heretics, with arms and arguments
more worthy of their evangelical profession. The theological knowledge
of Eulogius was displayed in many a volume, which magnified the errors
of Eutyches and Severus, and attempted to reconcile the ambiguous
language of St. Cyril with the orthodox creed of Pope Leo and the
fathers of Chalcedon. The bounteous alms of John the eleemosynary were
dictated by superstition, or benevolence, or policy. Seven thousand five
hundred poor were maintained at his expense; on his accession he
found eight thousand pounds of gold in the treasury of the church; he
collected ten thousand from the liberality of the faithful; yet the
primate could boast in his testament, that he left behind him no more
than the third part of the smallest of the silver coins. The churches
of Alexandria were delivered to the Catholics, the religion of the
Monophysites was proscribed in Egypt, and a law was revived which
excluded the natives from the honors and emoluments of the state.



Chapter XLVII: Ecclesiastical Discord.--Part VI.

A more important conquest still remained, of the patriarch, the oracle
and leader of the Egyptian church. Theodosius had resisted the
threats and promises of Justinian with the spirit of an apostle or
an enthusiast. "Such," replied the patriarch, "were the offers of the
tempter when he showed the kingdoms of the earth. But my soul is far
dearer to me than life or dominion. The churches attain the hands of a
prince who can kill the body; but my conscience is my own; and in exile,
poverty, or chains, I will steadfastly adhere to the faith of my holy
predecessors, Athanasius, Cyril, and Dioscorus. Anathema to the tome of
Leo and the synod of Chalcedon! Anathema to all who embrace their creed!
Anathema to them now and forevermore! Naked came I out of my mother's
womb, naked shall I descend into the grave. Let those who love God
follow me and seek their salvation." After comforting his brethren,
he embarked for Constantinople, and sustained, in six successive
interviews, the almost irresistible weight of the royal presence. His
opinions were favorably entertained in the palace and the city;
the influence of Theodora assured him a safe conduct and honorable
dismission; and he ended his days, though not on the throne, yet in
the bosom, of his native country. On the news of his death, Apollinaris
indecently feasted the nobles and the clergy; but his joy was checked by
the intelligence of a new election; and while he enjoyed the wealth of
Alexandria, his rivals reigned in the monasteries of Thebais, and
were maintained by the voluntary oblations of the people. A perpetual
succession of patriarchs arose from the ashes of Theodosius; and the
Monophysite churches of Syria and Egypt were united by the name of
Jacobites and the communion of the faith. But the same faith, which has
been confined to a narrow sect of the Syrians, was diffused over the
mass of the Egyptian or Coptic nation; who, almost unanimously, rejected
the decrees of the synod of Chalcedon. A thousand years were now elapsed
since Egypt had ceased to be a kingdom, since the conquerors of Asia and
Europe had trampled on the ready necks of a people, whose ancient wisdom
and power ascend beyond the records of history. The conflict of zeal
and persecution rekindled some sparks of their national spirit. They
abjured, with a foreign heresy, the manners and language of the Greeks:
every Melchite, in their eyes, was a stranger, every Jacobite a citizen;
the alliance of marriage, the offices of humanity, were condemned as a
deadly sin the natives renounced all allegiance to the emperor; and
his orders, at a distance from Alexandria, were obeyed only under the
pressure of military force. A generous effort might have redeemed the
religion and liberty of Egypt, and her six hundred monasteries might
have poured forth their myriads of holy warriors, for whom death should
have no terrors, since life had no comfort or delight. But experience
has proved the distinction of active and passive courage; the fanatic
who endures without a groan the torture of the rack or the stake, would
tremble and fly before the face of an armed enemy. The pusillanimous
temper of the Egyptians could only hope for a change of masters; the
arms of Chosroes depopulated the land, yet under his reign the Jacobites
enjoyed a short and precarious respite. The victory of Heraclius renewed
and aggravated the persecution, and the patriarch again escaped from
Alexandria to the desert. In his flight, Benjamin was encouraged by
a voice, which bade him expect, at the end of ten years, the aid of a
foreign nation, marked, like the Egyptians themselves, with the ancient
rite of circumcision. The character of these deliverers, and the nature
of the deliverance, will be hereafter explained; and I shall step over
the interval of eleven centuries to observe the present misery of the
Jacobites of Egypt. The populous city of Cairo affords a residence, or
rather a shelter, for their indigent patriarch, and a remnant of ten
bishops; forty monasteries have survived the inroads of the Arabs; and
the progress of servitude and apostasy has reduced the Coptic nation to
the despicable number of twenty-five or thirty thousand families; a
race of illiterate beggars, whose only consolation is derived from
the superior wretchedness of the Greek patriarch and his diminutive
congregation.

VI. The Coptic patriarch, a rebel to the Cæsars, or a slave to the
khalifs, still gloried in the filial obedience of the kings of Nubia and
Æthiopia. He repaid their homage by magnifying their greatness; and
it was boldly asserted that they could bring into the field a hundred
thousand horse, with an equal number of camels; that their hand could
pour out or restrain the waters of the Nile; and the peace and plenty
of Egypt was obtained, even in this world, by the intercession of the
patriarch. In exile at Constantinople, Theodosius recommended to his
patroness the conversion of the black nations of Nubia, from the tropic
of Cancer to the confines of Abyssinia. Her design was suspected
and emulated by the more orthodox emperor. The rival missionaries, a
Melchite and a Jacobite, embarked at the same time; but the empress,
from a motive of love or fear, was more effectually obeyed; and the
Catholic priest was detained by the president of Thebais, while the king
of Nubia and his court were hastily baptized in the faith of Dioscorus.
The tardy envoy of Justinian was received and dismissed with honor:
but when he accused the heresy and treason of the Egyptians, the
negro convert was instructed to reply that he would never abandon his
brethren, the true believers, to the persecuting ministers of the synod
of Chalcedon. During several ages, the bishops of Nubia were named and
consecrated by the Jacobite patriarch of Alexandria: as late as the
twelfth century, Christianity prevailed; and some rites, some ruins,
are still visible in the savage towns of Sennaar and Dongola. But the
Nubians at length executed their threats of returning to the worship of
idols; the climate required the indulgence of polygamy, and they have
finally preferred the triumph of the Koran to the abasement of the
Cross. A metaphysical religion may appear too refined for the capacity
of the negro race: yet a black or a parrot might be taught to repeat the
_words_ of the Chalcedonian or Monophysite creed.

Christianity was more deeply rooted in the Abyssinian empire; and,
although the correspondence has been sometimes interrupted above seventy
or a hundred years, the mother-church of Alexandria retains her colony
in a state of perpetual pupilage. Seven bishops once composed the
Æthiopic synod: had their number amounted to ten, they might have
elected an independent primate; and one of their kings was ambitious of
promoting his brother to the ecclesiastical throne. But the event
was foreseen, the increase was denied: the episcopal office has been
gradually confined to the _abuna_, the head and author of the Abyssinian
priesthood; the patriarch supplies each vacancy with an Egyptian monk;
and the character of a stranger appears more venerable in the eyes
of the people, less dangerous in those of the monarch. In the sixth
century, when the schism of Egypt was confirmed, the rival chiefs, with
their patrons, Justinian and Theodora, strove to outstrip each other in
the conquest of a remote and independent province. The industry of the
empress was again victorious, and the pious Theodora has established
in that sequestered church the faith and discipline of the Jacobites.
Encompassed on all sides by the enemies of their religion, the
Æthiopians slept near a thousand years, forgetful of the world, by whom
they were forgotten. They were awakened by the Portuguese, who, turning
the southern promontory of Africa, appeared in India and the Red Sea,
as if they had descended through the air from a distant planet. In the
first moments of their interview, the subjects of Rome and Alexandria
observed the resemblance, rather than the difference, of their faith;
and each nation expected the most important benefits from an alliance
with their Christian brethren. In their lonely situation, the Æthiopians
had almost relapsed into the savage life. Their vessels, which had
traded to Ceylon, scarcely presumed to navigate the rivers of Africa;
the ruins of Axume were deserted, the nation was scattered in villages,
and the emperor, a pompous name, was content, both in peace and
war, with the immovable residence of a camp. Conscious of their own
indigence, the Abyssinians had formed the rational project of importing
the arts and ingenuity of Europe; and their ambassadors at Rome and
Lisbon were instructed to solicit a colony of smiths, carpenters,
tilers, masons, printers, surgeons, and physicians, for the use of their
country. But the public danger soon called for the instant and effectual
aid of arms and soldiers, to defend an unwarlike people from the
Barbarians who ravaged the inland country and the Turks and Arabs who
advanced from the sea-coast in more formidable array. Æthiopia was saved
by four hundred and fifty Portuguese, who displayed in the field the
native valor of Europeans, and the artificial power of the musket and
cannon. In a moment of terror, the emperor had promised to reconcile
himself and his subjects to the Catholic faith; a Latin patriarch
represented the supremacy of the pope: the empire, enlarged in a tenfold
proportion, was supposed to contain more gold than the mines of America;
and the wildest hopes of avarice and zeal were built on the willing
submission of the Christians of Africa.

But the vows which pain had extorted were forsworn on the return of
health. The Abyssinians still adhered with unshaken constancy to the
Monophysite faith; their languid belief was inflamed by the exercise
of dispute; they branded the Latins with the names of Arians and
Nestorians, and imputed the adoration of _four_ gods to those who
separated the two natures of Christ. Fremona, a place of worship, or
rather of exile, was assigned to the Jesuit missionaries. Their skill
in the liberal and mechanic arts, their theological learning, and the
decency of their manners, inspired a barren esteem; but they were
not endowed with the gift of miracles, and they vainly solicited a
reënforcement of European troops. The patience and dexterity of forty
years at length obtained a more favorable audience, and two emperors
of Abyssinia were persuaded that Rome could insure the temporal and
everlasting happiness of her votaries. The first of these royal converts
lost his crown and his life; and the rebel army was sanctified by
the _abuna_, who hurled an anathema at the apostate, and absolved his
subjects from their oath of fidelity. The fate of Zadenghel was revenged
by the courage and fortune of Susneus, who ascended the throne under the
name of Segued, and more vigorously prosecuted the pious enterprise of
his kinsman. After the amusement of some unequal combats between the
Jesuits and his illiterate priests, the emperor declared himself a
proselyte to the synod of Chalcedon, presuming that his clergy and
people would embrace without delay the religion of their prince. The
liberty of choice was succeeded by a law, which imposed, under pain of
death, the belief of the two natures of Christ: the Abyssinians were
enjoined to work and to play on the Sabbath; and Segued, in the face of
Europe and Africa, renounced his connection with the Alexandrian church.
A Jesuit, Alphonso Mendez, the Catholic patriarch of Æthiopia, accepted,
in the name of Urban VIII., the homage and abjuration of the penitent.
"I confess," said the emperor on his knees, "I confess that the pope is
the vicar of Christ, the successor of St. Peter, and the sovereign of
the world. To him I swear true obedience, and at his feet I offer
my person and kingdom." A similar oath was repeated by his son, his
brother, the clergy, the nobles, and even the ladies of the court:
the Latin patriarch was invested with honors and wealth; and his
missionaries erected their churches or citadels in the most convenient
stations of the empire. The Jesuits themselves deplore the fatal
indiscretion of their chief, who forgot the mildness of the gospel and
the policy of his order, to introduce with hasty violence the liturgy of
Rome and the inquisition of Portugal. He condemned the ancient practice
of circumcision, which health, rather than superstition, had first
invented in the climate of Æthiopia. A new baptism, a new ordination,
was inflicted on the natives; and they trembled with horror when
the most holy of the dead were torn from their graves, when the most
illustrious of the living were excommunicated by a foreign priest. In
the defense of their religion and liberty, the Abyssinians rose in arms,
with desperate but unsuccessful zeal. Five rebellions were extinguished
in the blood of the insurgents: two abunas were slain in battle, whole
legions were slaughtered in the field, or suffocated in their caverns;
and neither merit, nor rank, nor sex, could save from an ignominious
death the enemies of Rome. But the victorious monarch was finally
subdued by the constancy of the nation, of his mother, of his son, and
of his most faithful friends. Segued listened to the voice of pity,
of reason, perhaps of fear: and his edict of liberty of conscience
instantly revealed the tyranny and weakness of the Jesuits. On the death
of his father, Basilides expelled the Latin patriarch, and restored
to the wishes of the nation the faith and the discipline of Egypt. The
Monophysite churches resounded with a song of triumph, "that the sheep
of Æthiopia were now delivered from the hyænas of the West;" and the
gates of that solitary realm were forever shut against the arts, the
science, and the fanaticism of Europe.



Chapter XLVIII: Succession And Characters Of The Greek Emperors.--Part I.

     Plan Of The Two Last Volumes.--Succession And Characters Of
     The Greek Emperors Of Constantinople, From The Time Of
     Heraclius To The Latin Conquest.

I have now deduced from Trajan to Constantine, from Constantine to
Heraclius, the regular series of the Roman emperors; and faithfully
exposed the prosperous and adverse fortunes of their reigns. Five
centuries of the decline and fall of the empire have already elapsed;
but a period of more than eight hundred years still separates me from
the term of my labors, the taking of Constantinople by the Turks. Should
I persevere in the same course, should I observe the same measure, a
prolix and slender thread would be spun through many a volume, nor would
the patient reader find an adequate reward of instruction or amusement.
At every step, as we sink deeper in the decline and fall of the
Eastern empire, the annals of each succeeding reign would impose a more
ungrateful and melancholy task. These annals must continue to repeat a
tedious and uniform tale of weakness and misery; the natural connection
of causes and events would be broken by frequent and hasty transitions,
and a minute accumulation of circumstances must destroy the light and
effect of those general pictures which compose the use and ornament of
a remote history. From the time of Heraclius, the Byzantine theatre is
contracted and darkened: the line of empire, which had been defined by
the laws of Justinian and the arms of Belisarius, recedes on all sides
from our view; the Roman name, the proper subject of our inquiries,
is reduced to a narrow corner of Europe, to the lonely suburbs of
Constantinople; and the fate of the Greek empire has been compared to
that of the Rhine, which loses itself in the sands, before its waters
can mingle with the ocean. The scale of dominion is diminished to our
view by the distance of time and place; nor is the loss of external
splendor compensated by the nobler gifts of virtue and genius. In the
last moments of her decay, Constantinople was doubtless more opulent and
populous than Athens at her most flourishing æra, when a scanty sum of
six thousand talents, or twelve hundred thousand pounds sterling was
possessed by twenty-one thousand male citizens of an adult age. But each
of these citizens was a freeman, who dared to assert the liberty of his
thoughts, words, and actions, whose person and property were guarded by
equal law; and who exercised his independent vote in the government
of the republic. Their numbers seem to be multiplied by the strong and
various discriminations of character; under the shield of freedom, on
the wings of emulation and vanity, each Athenian aspired to the level of
the national dignity; from this commanding eminence, some chosen spirits
soared beyond the reach of a vulgar eye; and the chances of superior
merit in a great and populous kingdom, as they are proved by experience,
would excuse the computation of imaginary millions. The territories of
Athens, Sparta, and their allies, do not exceed a moderate province of
France or England; but after the trophies of Salamis and Platea,
they expand in our fancy to the gigantic size of Asia, which had been
trampled under the feet of the victorious Greeks. But the subjects of
the Byzantine empire, who assume and dishonor the names both of Greeks
and Romans, present a dead uniformity of abject vices, which are neither
softened by the weakness of humanity, nor animated by the vigor of
memorable crimes. The freemen of antiquity might repeat with generous
enthusiasm the sentence of Homer, "that on the first day of his
servitude, the captive is deprived of one half of his manly virtue."
But the poet had only seen the effects of civil or domestic slavery, nor
could he foretell that the second moiety of manhood must be annihilated
by the spiritual despotism which shackles not only the actions, but even
the thoughts, of the prostrate votary. By this double yoke, the Greeks
were oppressed under the successors of Heraclius; the tyrant, a law of
eternal justice, was degraded by the vices of his subjects; and on the
throne, in the camp, in the schools, we search, perhaps with fruitless
diligence, the names and characters that may deserve to be rescued from
oblivion. Nor are the defects of the subject compensated by the skill
and variety of the painters. Of a space of eight hundred years, the four
first centuries are overspread with a cloud interrupted by some faint
and broken rays of historic light: in the lives of the emperors, from
Maurice to Alexius, Basil the Macedonian has alone been the theme of a
separate work; and the absence, or loss, or imperfection of contemporary
evidence, must be poorly supplied by the doubtful authority of more
recent compilers. The four last centuries are exempt from the reproach
of penury; and with the Comnenian family, the historic muse of
Constantinople again revives, but her apparel is gaudy, her motions are
without elegance or grace. A succession of priests, or courtiers,
treads in each other's footsteps in the same path of servitude and
superstition: their views are narrow, their judgment is feeble or
corrupt; and we close the volume of copious barrenness, still ignorant
of the causes of events, the characters of the actors, and the manners
of the times which they celebrate or deplore. The observation which
has been applied to a man, may be extended to a whole people, that the
energy of the sword is communicated to the pen; and it will be found by
experience, that the tone of history will rise or fall with the spirit
of the age.

From these considerations, I should have abandoned without regret the
Greek slaves and their servile historians, had I not reflected that the
fate of the Byzantine monarchy is _passively_ connected with the most
splendid and important revolutions which have changed the state of the
world. The space of the lost provinces was immediately replenished with
new colonies and rising kingdoms: the active virtues of peace and war
deserted from the vanquished to the victorious nations; and it is in
their origin and conquests, in their religion and government, that
we must explore the causes and effects of the decline and fall of the
Eastern empire. Nor will this scope of narrative, the riches and
variety of these materials, be incompatible with the unity of design
and composition. As, in his daily prayers, the Mussulman of Fez or Delhi
still turns his face towards the temple of Mecca, the historian's eye
shall be always fixed on the city of Constantinople. The excursive line
may embrace the wilds of Arabia and Tartary, but the circle will be
ultimately reduced to the decreasing limit of the Roman monarchy.

On this principle I shall now establish the plan of the last two volumes
of the present work. The first chapter will contain, in a regular
series, the emperors who reigned at Constantinople during a period of
six hundred years, from the days of Heraclius to the Latin conquest;
a rapid abstract, which may be supported by a _general_ appeal to the
order and text of the original historians. In this introduction, I
shall confine myself to the revolutions of the throne, the succession
of families, the personal characters of the Greek princes, the mode
of their life and death, the maxims and influence of their domestic
government, and the tendency of their reign to accelerate or suspend the
downfall of the Eastern empire. Such a chronological review will serve
to illustrate the various argument of the subsequent chapters; and each
circumstance of the eventful story of the Barbarians will adapt itself
in a proper place to the Byzantine annals. The internal state of the
empire, and the dangerous heresy of the Paulicians, which shook the East
and enlightened the West, will be the subject of two separate chapters;
but these inquiries must be postponed till our further progress shall
have opened the view of the world in the ninth and tenth centuries of
the Christian area. After this foundation of Byzantine history, the
following nations will pass before our eyes, and each will occupy the
space to which it may be entitled by greatness or merit, or the degree
of connection with the Roman world and the present age. I. The Franks; a
general appellation which includes all the Barbarians of France, Italy,
and Germany, who were united by the sword and sceptre of Charlemagne.
The persecution of images and their votaries separated Rome and Italy
from the Byzantine throne, and prepared the restoration of the Roman
empire in the West. II. The Arabs or Saracens. Three ample chapters will
be devoted to this curious and interesting object. In the first, after
a picture of the country and its inhabitants, I shall investigate
the character of Mahomet; the character, religion, and success of the
prophet. In the second, I shall lead the Arabs to the conquest of Syria,
Egypt, and Africa, the provinces of the Roman empire; nor can I check
their victorious career till they have overthrown the monarchies of
Persia and Spain. In the third, I shall inquire how Constantinople and
Europe were saved by the luxury and arts, the division and decay, of
the empire of the caliphs. A single chapter will include, III. The
Bulgarians, IV. Hungarians, and, V. Russians, who assaulted by sea or by
land the provinces and the capital; but the last of these, so important
in their present greatness, will excite some curiosity in their origin
and infancy. VI. The Normans; or rather the private adventurers of that
warlike people, who founded a powerful kingdom in Apulia and Sicily,
shook the throne of Constantinople, displayed the trophies of chivalry,
and almost realized the wonders of romance. VII. The Latins; the
subjects of the pope, the nations of the West, who enlisted under the
banner of the cross for the recovery or relief of the holy sepulchre.
The Greek emperors were terrified and preserved by the myriads of
pilgrims who marched to Jerusalem with Godfrey of Bouillon and the peers
of Christendom. The second and third crusades trod in the footsteps of
the first: Asia and Europe were mingled in a sacred war of two hundred
years; and the Christian powers were bravely resisted, and finally
expelled by Saladin and the Mamelukes of Egypt. In these memorable
crusades, a fleet and army of French and Venetians were diverted from
Syria to the Thracian Bosphorus: they assaulted the capital, they
subverted the Greek monarchy: and a dynasty of Latin princes was seated
near threescore years on the throne of Constantine. VIII. The Greeks
themselves, during this period of captivity and exile, must be
considered as a foreign nation; the enemies, and again the sovereigns of
Constantinople. Misfortune had rekindled a spark of national virtue;
and the Imperial series may be continued with some dignity from their
restoration to the Turkish conquest. IX. The Moguls and Tartars. By the
arms of Zingis and his descendants, the globe was shaken from China to
Poland and Greece: the sultans were overthrown: the caliphs fell, and
the Cæsars trembled on their throne. The victories of Timour suspended
above fifty years the final ruin of the Byzantine empire. X. I have
already noticed the first appearance of the Turks; and the names of
the fathers, of _Seljuk_ and _Othman_, discriminate the two successive
dynasties of the nation, which emerged in the eleventh century from
the Scythian wilderness. The former established a splendid and potent
kingdom from the banks of the Oxus to Antioch and Nice; and the first
crusade was provoked by the violation of Jerusalem and the danger of
Constantinople. From an humble origin, the _Ottomans_ arose, the scourge
and terror of Christendom. Constantinople was besieged and taken by
Mahomet II., and his triumph annihilates the remnant, the image, the
title, of the Roman empire in the East. The schism of the Greeks will be
connected with their last calamities, and the restoration of learning in
the Western world. I shall return from the captivity of the new, to the
ruins of ancient Rome; and the venerable name, the interesting theme,
will shed a ray of glory on the conclusion of my labors.

The emperor Heraclius had punished a tyrant and ascended his throne; and
the memory of his reign is perpetuated by the transient conquest, and
irreparable loss, of the Eastern provinces. After the death of Eudocia,
his first wife, he disobeyed the patriarch, and viola