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have received this ignominious pardon. He fell CHAP, prostrate before his wife; he kissed the feet of his saviour, 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 *.
* The continuator of the chronicle of Marcellinus gives, in a few decent words, the substance of the anecdotes : Belisarius de Oriente evocatus, in offensam periculumque incurrens grave, etinvidiæ subjacens rursus remittitur in Italiam (p. 54.).
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.-Chose roes I. or Nushirvan King of Persia. His prose perous Reign and Wars with the Romans. The Cholchian or Lazic War. Ibe Æthiopians.
Weakness of the empire of Jus. tinian,
A. D. 527-565.
UR 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 or country: and the same stature, which in a people of giants would pass unnoticed, must appear conspicuous in a race of pigmies. Leonidas and his three hun. dred companions, devoted their lives at Thermopylæ ; but the education of the infant, the boy, and the man, had prepared, and almost ensured, this memorable sacrifice; and each Spartan would approve, rather than admire, an act of duty, of which himself and eight thousand of his fellowcitizens were equally capable *. The great Pom
* It will be a pleasure, not a task, to read Herodotus (1. vii. c. 104. 134. P. 550.615). The conversation of Xerxes and Demaratus at Thermopylæ is one of the most interesting and moral scenes in history. It was the torture of the royal Spartan to behold, with anguish and remorse, the virtue of his country.
pey might inscribe on his trophies, that he had CH A P. defeated in battle two millions of enemies, and XLII. 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 ora 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 supersti
See this proud inscription in Pliny (Hist. Natur. vii. 27.). Few men have more exquisitely tasted of glory and disgrace : nor could Juvenal (Satir. x.) produce a more striking example of the vicissitudes of forune, and the vanity of human wishes.
+ T gaix86 . . εξ ών τα προτερα εδινα ες Iταλιαν ήκοντα ειδον, οτι μη τραγωδες, και ναυτας λωποδυτας. This last epithet of Procopius is too nobly tiunslated by pirates; naval thieves is the proper word : strippers of garments, either for injury orinsult (De mosthenes contra Conon. in Reiske Orator. Græc. tom. ii. p. 1264.).
CHAP. tion; 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 honour, 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, laboured 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
* See the third and fourth books of the Gothic War: the writer of the Anecdotes cannot aggravate these abuses.
the triumphs of Belisarius, and afterwards of Nar- CHA P. ses, 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 pre- State of the judicial to the state, since they abolished the im- ans. portant 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 re- The Gepté VOL. VII.
Agathias, I. 5. p. 157, 158. He confines this weakness of the emperor and the empire to the old age of Justiniar'; but, alas ! he was never young.
+ This mischievous policy, which Procopious (Anecdot. c. 19.) imputes to the emperor, is revealed in his epistle to a Scythian prince, who was capable of understanding it. Agar agovenon sus X45&T, says Agathias (1. v. p. 170, 171.).