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CHA P. 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 usually 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 .
*By Leo the philosopher (Novell. xciv. A. D. 886-911.). See Pagi (Dissertat. Hypatica, p. 325-362.) and Ducange (Gloss. Græc. p. 1635, 1636.). Even the title was vilified; consulatus codicilli .... vilescunt, says the emperor himself.
+ According to Julius Africanus, &c. the world was created the first of September, 5508 years, three months, and twenty. five days before the birth of Christ (see Pezron, Antiquité des Tems defendue, p. 20-28.); and this æra has been used by the Greeks, the Oriental Christians, and even by the Russians, till the reign of Peter I. The period, however arbitrary, is clear and convenient. Of the 7296 years which are supposed to elapse since the creation, we shall find 3000 of ignorance and darkness; 2000 either fabulous or doubtful; 1000 of ancient history, commencing with the Persian empire, and the republics of Rome and Athens; 1000 from the fall of the Roman empire in the west to the discovery of America; and the remaining 296 will almost complete three centuries of the modern state of Europe and mankind. I regret this chronology, so far preferable to our double and perplexed method of counting backwards and forwards the years before and after the Christian æra.
The era of the world has prevailed in the East since the vith general council (A. D. 681.). In the West the Christian sera was first invented in the vith century: it was propagated in the viiith by the authority and writings of venerable Bede; but it was not till the xth that the use became legal and popu lar. See l'Art de verifier les Dates, Dissert. Preliminaire. p. iii. xii. Dictionaire Diplomatique, tom. i. p. 329-337.; the works of a laborious society of Benedictine monks,
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 CHA F.
fifty years after the fall of the Western empire, the kingdoms of the Goths and Vandals Justinian had obtained a solid, and, as it might seem, a resolves to legal establishment both in Europe and Africa. Africa, The titles which Roman victory had inscribed, A. D. 533were erazed 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 for ever 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
CHA P. revived and propagated in the modern schools of XLL jurisprudence. After Rome herself had been
stripped of the Imperial purple, the princes of Cone stantinople assumed the sole and sacred sceptre of the monarchy; demanded, as their rightful inhe. ritance, 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 honourable motive, and promised a powerful sup
port, to the Roman arms *. State of the According to the testament of the founder, the Vandals. Hilderic, African kingdom had lineally descended to Hil. deric the eldest of the Vandal princes. A mild
A. D. 523-530,
* The complete series of the Vandal war is related by Procopius in a regular and elegant narrative (1. i. c. 9-25. 1. ij. c. l-13.); and happy would be my lot, could I always tread in the footsteps of such a guide. From the entire and diligent perusal of the Greek text, I have a right to pronounce that the Latin and French versions of Grotius and Cousin may not be implicitly trusted : yet the president Cousin has been often praised, and Hugo Grotius was the first scholar of a learned age.
disposition inclined the son of a tyrant, the grand- CH A p. son 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 favour 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 negociation 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 exas- Gelimer, perated 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
See Ruinart, Hist. Persecut Vandal. c. xii. p. 589. His best evidence is drawn from the life of St. Fulgentius, composed by one of his disciples, transcribed in a great measure in the annals of Baronius, and printed in several great collections (Catalog. Bibliot. Bunavianæ, tom. i. vol. ii. p. 1258.).
For what quality of the mind or body? For speed, or beauty, or valour?-In what language did the Vandals read Homer?-Did he speak German?-The Latins had four versions (Fabric. tom. i. 1. ii. c. 3. p. 297.): yet in spite of the praises of Seneca (Consol. c. 26.), they appeared to have been more successful in imitating, than in translating, the Greek poets. But the name of Achilles might be famous and popular, even among the illiterate Barbarians.
CHA P. throne to a dungeon, where he was strictly guarded
with a faithful counseller, and his unpopular nephew the Achilles of the Vandals. But the indul. gence which Hilderic had shewn to his Catholic subjects had powerfully recommended him to the favour 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 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