網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

facer of the civil and even the natural rights of so- CH A P. ciety *; a tax unseasonably imposed after the ca- XXXIX. lamities of war, would have crushed the rising agriculture of Liguria ; a rigid pre-emption of corn, which was intended for the public relief, must have aggravated the distress of Campania. These dangerous projects were defeated by the virtue and eloquence of Epiphanius and Boethius, who, in the presence of Theodoric himself, successfully pleaded the cause of the people : but if the royal ear was open to the voice of truth, a saint and a philosopher are not always to be found at the ear of kings. The privileges of rank, or office, or favour, were too frequently abused by Italian fraud and Gothic violence, and the avarice of the king's nephew was publicly exposed, at first by the usurpation, and afterwards by the restitution of the estates which he had unjustly extorted from his Tuscan neighbours. Two hundred thousand Barbarians, formidable even to their master, were seated in the heart of Italy; they indignantly supported the restraints of discipline; the disorders of their march were always felt and sometimes compensated; and where it was dangerous to punish, it might be prudent to dis...

semble,

peace and

D4

* He disabled them a licentia testandi ; and all Italy mourned-lamentabili justitio. I wish to believe, that these penalties were enacted against the rebels who had violated their oath of allegiance; but the testimony of Ennodius (p. 1675-1678.) is the more weighty, as he lived and died under the reign of Theodoric.

+ Ennodius, in Vit. Epiphan. p. 1689, 1690. Boethius de Consolatione Philosophiæ, 1. i. pros. iv. p. 45, 46, 47. Respect, but weigh the passions of the saint and the senator; and fortify or alleviate their complaints by the various hints of Cassiodo. rius (ii, 8. iv. 36. viii. 5.).

He is pro

CHAP. semble, the sallies of their native fierceness, XXXIX. When the indulgence of Theodoric had remitted

two-thirds of the Ligurian tribute, he condescend, ed to explain the difficulties of his situation, and to lament the heavy though inevitable burdens which he imposed on his subjects for their own defence *. These ungrateful subjects could never be cordially reconciled to the origin, the religion, or even the virtues of the Gothic conqueror; past calamities were forgotten, and the sense or suspi, cion of injuries was rendered still more exquisite by the present felicity of the times.

Even the religious toleration which Theodoric, voked to persecute had the glory of introducing into the Christian the Catho. lics. world, was painful and offensive to the orthodox

zeal of the Italians. They respected the armed heresy of the Goths ; but their pious rage was safely pointed against the rich and defenceless Jews, who had formed their establishments at Naples, Rome, Ravenna, Milan, and Genoa, for the benefit of trade, and under the sanction of the Jaws t. Their persons were insulted, their effects were pillaged, and their synagogues were burnt by the mad populace of Ravenna and Rome, inflamed, as it should seem, by the most frivolous or extravagant pretences. The government which could neglect, would have deserved, such an outrage. A legal inquiry was instantly directed ; and as the authors of the tumult had escaped in the

crowd,

• Immanium expensarum pondus ... pro ipsorum salute, &c.; yet these are no more than words,

+ The Jews were settled at Naples (Procopius, Goth. 1. i. C. 8.), at Genoa (Var. ii. 28. iv. 33.), Milan (v. 37.), Rome (iv. 43.). See likewise Basnage, Hist. des Juifs, tom. viii. f. 7, P. 254•

crowd, the whole community was condemned to CHAP, repair the damage ; and the obstinate bigots who XXXIX, refused their contributions, were whipped through the streets by the hand of the executioner. This simple act of justice exasperated the discontent of the Catholics, who applauded the merit and patience of these holy confessors; three hundred pulpits deplored the persecution of the church, and if the chapel of St. Stephen at Verona was demolished by the command of Theodoric, it is probable that some miracle hostile to his name and dignity had been performed on that sacred theatre. At the close of a glorious life, the king of Italy discovered that he had excited the hatred of a people whose happiness he had so assiduously laboured to promote ; and his mind was soured by indignation, jealousy, and the bitterness of unrequited love. The Gothic conqueror condescended to disarm the unwarlike natives of Italy, interdicting all weapons of offence, and excepting only a small knife for domestic use. The deliverer of Rome was accused of conspiring with the vilest informers against the lives of senators whom he suspected of a secret and treasonable correspondence with the Byzantine ,court *. After the death of Anastasius, the diadem had been placed on the head of a feeble old man; but the powers of government were assumed by his nephew Justinian, who already meditated the extirpation of heresy, and the conquest of Italy and Africa. A rigorous

law

[ocr errors]

* Rex avidus communis exitii, &c. (Boethius,' 1. i. p. 59.): rex dolum Romanis tendebat (Anonym. Vales. p. 723.). These are hard words: they speak the passions of the Italiaas, and those (I fear) of Theodoric himself.

GHA P. law which was published at Constantinople, to XXXIX. reduce the Arians by the dread of punishment

within the pale of the church, awakened the just resentment of Theodoric, who claimed for his distressed brethren of the East, the same indulgence which he had so long granted to the Catholics of his dominions. At his stern command, the Roman pontift, with four illustrious senators, embarked on an embassy, of which he must have alike dreaded the failure or the success. The singular veneration shewn to the first pope who had visited Constantinople was punished as a crime by his jealous monarch; the artful or peremptory re.. fusal of the Byzantine court might excuse an equal, and would provoke a larger, measure of retaliation; and a mandate was prepared in Italy, to prohibit, after a stated day, the exercise of the Catholic worship. By the bigotry of his subjects and enemies, the most tolerant of princes was driven to the brink of persecution; and the life of Theo. doric was too long, since he lived to condemn the

virtue of Boethius and Symmachus *. Character, The senator Boethius + is the last of the Rostudies, and honours of mans whom Cato or Tully could have acknowBoethius.

a

ledged

* I have laboured to extract a rational narrative from the dark, concise, and various hints of the Valesian Fragment (p. 722, 723, 724.), Theophanes (p. 145.), Anastasius (in Jo. hanne, p. 35.), and the Hist. Miscella (p. 103. edit. Muratori). A gentle pressure and paraphrase of their words is no violence. Consult likewise Muratori (Annali d'Italia, tom. iv. p. 471– 478.), with the Annals and Breviary (tom. i. 259–263.) of the two Pagi's, the uncle and the nephew.

+ Le Clerk has composed a critical and philosophical life of Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius (Bibliot. Choisie, tom.

ledged for their countryman. As a wealthy orphan, c H a r. he inherited the patrimony and honours of the A- XXXIX. nician family, a name ambitiously assumed by the kings and emperors of the age; and the appellation of Manlius asserted his genuine or fabulous descent from a race of consuls and dictators, who had repulsed the Gauls from the Capitol, and sacrificed their sons to the discipline of the republic. In the youth of Boethius, the studies of Rome were not totally abandoned; a Virgil is. now extant, corrected by the hand of a consul; and the professors of grammar, rhetoric, and jurisprudence, were maintained in their privileges and pensions, by the liberality of the Goths. But the erudition of the Latin language was insufficient to satiate his ardent curiosity; and Boethius is said to have employed eighteen laborious years in the schools of Athens †, which were supported by the zeal, the learning, and the diligence of Proclus and his disciples. The reason and piety of their Roman pupil were fortunately saved from the contagion of mystery and magic, which polluted the

groves

xvi. p. 168—275.); and both Tiraboschi (tom. iii.) and Fabricius (Bibliot. Latin.) may be usefully consulted. The date of his birth may be placed about the year 470, and his death in 524, in a premature old age (Consol. Phil. Metrica, i. p. 5.)

* For the age and value of this MS. now in the Medicean library at Florence, see the Cenotaphia Pisana (p. 430-447-) of Cardinal Noris.

The Athenian studies of Boethius are doubtful (Baronius, A. D. 510, No. 3. from a spurious tract, De Disciplina Scholarum), and the term of eighteen years is doubtless too long but the simple fact of a visit to Athens is justified by much internal evidence (Brucker, Hist. Crit. Philosoph. tom. iii. p. 524-527.), and by an expression (though vague and ambiguous) of his friend Cassiodorius (Var. i. 45.), "longe "positas Athenas introisti."

« 上一頁繼續 »