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resolved to deliver or revenge his friend, Gelimer CHAP. 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 Debates on to the vain and idle populace of Constansinople, war: 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 campaigos, 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 à 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 dis




CHAP. " tance is not less than one hundred and forty . days journey; on the sea, a whole year

* must elapse before you can receive any intelligence * froń your fleet.

fleet. If Africa should be reduced, it cannot be preserved without the additional conquest of Sicily and Italy. Success will im

pose the obligation of new labours ; 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 rea

“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,



* A year-absurd exaggeration! The conquest of Africa may be dated A. D. 533, September 14: it is celebrated by Justinian in the preface to his Institutes, which were published November 21, of the same year. Including the voyage and return, such a computation might be truly applied to our Indian empire.


and a small military aid restored the province of CHA P. Tripoli to the obedience of the Romans. The government of Sardinia had been entrusted 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.

and choice

The Africanus of new Rome was born, and per- Character haps educated, among the Thracian peasants*, of Belisawithout any of those advantages which had formed rius. the virtues of the elder and the 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 valour 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 staVOL. VII.



* Ωρμητο δε ὁ Βελισάριος εκ Γερμανίας, ή Θρακώντα και Ιλλυριών μSTAŽU XSTAI, (Procop. Vandal. 1. i. c. 11.). Aleman (Not. ad Anecdot. p. 5.), an Italian, could easily reject the German vanity of Giphanius, and Velserus, who wished to claim the hero; but his Germania, a métropolis of Thrace, I cannot find in any civil or ecclesiastical lists of the provinces and cities.

sian war,

A. D

CH A P. tion of Dara, where he first accepted the service

KLI. of Procopius, the faithful companion, and diligent His services

historian, of his exploits * The Mirranes of Perin the Persia advanced, with forty thousand of her best troops,

to raze the fortifications of Dara; and signified the 529–332. day and the hour on which the citizens should pre

pare a bath for his refreshment after the toils of victory. He encountered an adversary cqual 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 hum bled 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 Aanks 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 van: quished 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


* The two first Persian campaigns of Belisarius are fairly and copiously related by his secretary (Persic. 1. i. 6. 12-18.).


pressed their retreat, occupied each night their c H A P. 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, shewed 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 pikeś 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 alone he 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 Con stantinople 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


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