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strong towns he successively attacked ; and as soon CHA P. as they had yielded to his arms, he demolished the XLIII. 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 honourable 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 eve its : 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 Gampania, 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 diet of the famished Neapolitans, the conqueror assumed the office of an 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
CHA P. are inserably 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. Second The return of Belisarius to save the country command
which he had subdued, was pressed with equal of Belisa. rius in Italy, vehemence by his friends and enemies; and the 544–548. Gothic war was imposed as a trust or an exile on
the veteran commander. An hero on the banks of the Euphrates, a slave in the palace of Constantinople, he accepted, with reluctance, the paintul 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 Hadriatic, entered the port of Ravenna, and dispatched 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 ltalian subjects. He gently touched on the causes and ihe authors of the recent disasters; striving to remove the fear of punishment for the past, and the hope of impunity for the future, and labouring, 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, t armed
brethren, who had been seduced by the arts of the c H A P. 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 Barba. rian; 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 aud Illyri
cum, we have collected, with extreme difficulty, " about four thousand recruits, naked and un“ skilled in the use of weapons and the exercises of " the camp. The soldiers already stationed in " the province are discontented, fearful, and dis
mayed; at the sound of an enemy, they dis“ miss 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 or com“ mand, 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 Belisa“ rius 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 veterans and domes“ tic guards. Before I can take the field, I must “ receive an adequate supply of light and heavy
A. D. 546, May.
"armed troops; and it is only with ready money that you can procure the indispensible 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 succours; 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 Hadriatic, 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 valour, 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 distresss of the people he extracted a profitable trade, and secretly rejoiced in the continuance of
* Procopius, 1. iii. c. 12. The soul of an hero is deeply impressed on the letter; nor can we confound such genuine and original acts with the elaborate and often empty speeches of the Byzantine historians.
the siege. It was for his use that the granaries had CH A P. been replenished; the charity of Pope Vigilius had XLIII. purchased and embarked an ample supply of Sici. lian corn ; But the vessels which escaped the Bar, barians 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 exor- . bitant 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, permit their flight, or command their immediate execution. Bessas replied with unfeeling tranquila lity, that it was impossible to feed, unsate to dismiss, and unlawful to kill, the subjects of the emperor. Yet the example of a private citizen might have shewn his countrymen that a tyrant cannot withhold the privilege of death. Pierced by the