ePub 版

names of child, of madman, of perjured traitor, CHAP, the enemy of his blood and nation. “ Are you XXXIX, “ 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 con“ test will be exposed, and justly exposed, to their

implacable revenge? Where are those war“ riors, my kinsmen and thy own, whose wi"dows now lament that their lives were sacrificed

to thy rash ambition? Where is the wealth which

thy soldiers possessed when they were first al“ lured 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 desarts of Thrace; " those men who were tempted by the hope of

measuring gold with a bushel, those brave men " who are as free and as noble as thyself.” A language so well suited to the temper of the Goths, excited clamour and discontent; and the son of Theodemir, apprehensive of being left alone, was compelled to embrace his brethren, and to imitate the example of Roman perfidy *.

In every state of his fortune, the prudence and He underfirmness of Theodoric were equally conspicuous; conquest of

, A. D. 489.


takes the

whether Italy.

* Jornandes (c. 56, 57. p. 696.) displays the services of Theodoric, confesses his rewards, but dissembles his revolt, of which such curious details have been preserved by Malchus (Excerpt. Legat. p. 78-97.). Marcellinus, a domestic of Justinian, under whos: fourth consulship (A. D. 534.) he composed his Chronicle (Scaliger, Thesaurus Temporum, P. ii. P. 34-57.), betrays his prejudice and passion ; in Græciam debacchantem... Zenonis munificentia pene pacatus... benefin ciis nunquam satiatus, &c.

[ocr errors]

CHAP. whether he threatened Constantinople at the head XXXIX. 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 Amáli, 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

* As he was riding in his own camp, an unruly horse threw him against the point of a spear which hung before a tent, or was fixed on a waggon (Marcellin. in Chron. Evagrius, 1. iii. c. 25.)

See Malchus (p. 91.) and Evagrius (1. iii. c. 35.).

Malchus, p. 85. In a single action, which was decided by the skill and discipline of Sabinian, Theodoric could lose 5000 men.

worthy of his courage and ambition, Theodoric CHA P, addressed the emperor in the following words: “Al. xxxix.

though your servant is maintained in affluence bar

by your liberality, graciously listen to the wishes “ of my heart! Italy, the inheritance of your pre“ decessors, and Rome itself, the head and mistress “ of the world, now fluctuate under the violence " and oppression of Odoacer the mercenary. Di

rect me, with my national troops, to march a

gainst 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 His march. war diffused an universal ardour; the Walamirs were multiplied by the Gothic swarms already engaged in the service, or seated in the provinces, of the empire, and each bold Barbarian, who had heard of the wealth and beauty of Italy, was im


Jornandes (c. 57. p. 696, 697.) has abridged the great history of Cassiodorius. See, compare, and reconcile, Procopius (Gothic. 1. i. c. 1.) the Valesian Fragment (p. 718.), Theophanes (p. 113.), and Marcellinus (in Chron.).

CH A P. patient to seek, through the most perilous adven. xxxIx. tures, 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 waggons, which had been sustained in a single action in the war of Epirus. For their subsistence, the Goths depended on the magazines of corn which was ground in portable mills by the hands of their women; on the milk and flesh of their flocks and herds; on the casual produce of the chace, 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 perse.


[ocr errors]


Veting courage, he descended from the Julian CHA P. Alps, and displayed his invincible banners on the XXXIX. confines of Italy *

Odoacer, a rival not unworthy of his arms, had The thrcie already occupied the advantageous and well-known defeats of post of the river Sontius near the ruins of Aquileia; A. D. 489.

Aug. 28. at the head of a powerful host, whose independent Sept. 27. kings t or leaders disdained the duties of subordi. A. D. 49

August. nation and the prudence of delays. No sooner had Theodoric granted a short repose and refreshment to his wearied cavalry, than he boldly attacked the fortifications of the enemy; the Ostrogoths shewed more ardour to acquire, than the mercenaries to defend, the lands of Italy; and the reward of the first victory was the possession of the Venetian province as far as the walls of Verona. In the neighbourhood of that city, on the steep

banks of the rapid Adige, he was opposed by a : new army, reinforced in its numbers, and not im

paired in its courage : the contest was more obsti'nate, but the event was still more decisive; Odo. acer fied 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,

[ocr errors]


Theodoric's march is supplied and illustrated by Ennodius (p. 1598-1602.), when the bombast of the oration is translated into the language of common sense. + Tot reges, &c. (Ennodius, p. 1602.). We must recol

. lect how much the royal title was multiplied and degraded, and that the mercenaries of Italy were the fragments of many tribes and nations,

« 上一頁繼續 »