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The Great Empires of Prophecy, from Babylon to the Fall of Rome

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    Entrance of the Goths into History—The Visigoths Taken Over the Danube—Under Alaric They Ravage Greece—Alaric Master-General of Illyricum—Honorius Prepares the Way—Siege of Rome—Rome’s Ransom—The Sack of Rome—The Visigoths Leave Italy—In Gaul and Spain—In Spain Their Final Settlement

    It was reserved for the Goths, whose fortunes we are now about to trace, to deal the first mortal blow at the Roman State; to be the first to stand in the Forum of Roma Invicta, and prove to the amazed world (themselves half terrified with the greatness of their victory) that she who had stricken the nations with a perpetual stroke was now herself laid low.”GEP 621.1

    2. “The information which Jordanes gives us as to the earliest home and first migration of the Goths, is as follows:—GEP 621.2

    “The island of Scanzia [peninsula of Norway and Sweden] lies in the Northern Ocean, opposite the mouths of the Vistula, in shape like a cedar-leaf. In this island, this manufactory of nations (officina gentium), dwelt the Goths, with other tribes.GEP 621.3

    “‘From this island the Goths, under their king Berig, set forth in search of new homes. They had but three ships, and as one of these, during their passage, always lagged behind, they called her Gepanta—“the torpid one.” Their crew, who ever after showed themselves more sluggish and clumsy than their companions, when they became a nation, bore a name derived from this quality—Gepidae, the Loiterers.GEP 621.4

    “‘However, all came safely to land at a place which was called ever after, Gothi-scandza. From thence they moved forward to the dwellings of the Ulmerugi by the shores of the ocean. These people they beat in pitched battle and drove from their habitations, and then, subduing their neighbors the Vandals, they employed them as instruments of their own subsequent victories’”—Hodgkin. 1[Page 621] “Italy and Her Invaders,” book 1. pars 1, 4. The name which Hodgkingives as Jordanes, is given by Gibbon and others as Jornandes. He was a Goth.GEP 621.5

    3. A province of the southern part of Sweden is even yet called Gothland. And “the Swedes, who might well be satisfied with their own fame in arms, have in every age claimed the kindred glory of the Goths. To cross the Baltic was an easy and natural attempt. The inhabitants of Sweden were masters of a sufficient number of large vessels with oars; and the distance is little more than one hundred miles from Carlscrona to the nearest ports of Pomerania and Prussia. Here, at length, we land on firm and historic ground. At least as early as the Christian era, and as late as the age of the Antonines [A. D. 138-180], the Goths were established toward the mouth of the Vistula, and in that fertile province where the commercial cities of Thorn, Elbing, Konigsberg, and Dantzic were long afterward founded.GEP 621.6

    4. “In the age of the Antonines the Goths were still seated in Prussia. About the reign of Alexander Severus [A. D. 222-235], the Roman province of Dacia had already experienced their proximity by frequent and destructive inroads. In this interval, therefore, of about seventy years, we must place the second migration of the Goths from the Baltic to the Euxine; but the cause that produced it lies concealed among the various motives which actuate the conduct of unsettled barbarians.GEP 622.1

    5. “The first motions of the emigrants carried them to the banks of the Prypec, a river universally conceived by the ancients to be the southern branch of the Borysthenes [Dnieper]. The windings of that great stream through the plains of Poland and Russia gave a direction to their line of march, and a constant supply of fresh water and pasturage to their numerous herds of cattle. They followed the unknown course of the river, confident in their valor, and careless of whatever power might oppose their progress. The Bastarnae and the Venedi were the first who presented themselves; and the flower of their youth, either from choice or compulsion, increased the Gothic army.... As the Goths advanced near the Euxine [Black] Sea, they encountered a purer race of Sarmatians, the Jazyges, the Alani, and the Roxolani; and they were probably the first Germans who saw the mouths of the Borysthenes and of the Tanais[Don].GEP 622.2

    6. “The Goths were now in possession of the Ukraine, a country of considerable extent and uncommon fertility, intersected with navigable rivers which from either side discharge themselves into the Borysthenes, and interspersed with large and lofty forests of oak. The plenty of game and fish, the innumerable beehives, deposited in the hollows of old trees and in the cavities of rocks, and forming, even in that rude age, a valuable branch of commerce, the size of the cattle, the temperature of the air, the aptness of the soil for every species of grain, and the luxuriance of the vegetation, all displayed the liberality of nature, and tempted the industry of man. But the Goths withstood all these temptations, and still adhered to a life of idleness, of poverty, and of rapine.”—Gibbon. 2[Page 623] “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” Chap. 10. pars. 3,4,8-11.GEP 622.3

    7. In the reign of Philip, A. D. 244-49, the Goths overran Dacia, crossed the Danube, and made their way as far into the Roman Empire as the city of Marcianoplis, capital of the province of Moesia. “The inhabitants consented to ransom their lives and property by the payment of a large sum of money, and the invaders retreated back into their deserts, animated rather than satisfied with the first success of their arms against an opulent but feeble country.”GEP 623.1

    8. In the reign of Decius, A. D. 250, they again crossed the Danube, and “scattered devastation over the province of Moesia. This is the first considerable occasion in which history mentions that great people, who afterward broke the Roman power, sacked the capital, and reigned in Gaul, Spain, and Italy. So memorable was the part which they acted in the subversion of the Western Empire, that the name of Goths is frequently, but improperly, used as a general appellation of rude and warlike barbarism.” 3[Page 623] Id., pars. 3,12.GEP 623.2

    9. In the following hundred and twenty-five years the Goths made four naval expeditions round the Black Sea, through the Bosporus, and over the AEgean Sea to Greece, carrying devastation everywhere they went, and returning laden with untold wealth from the despoiled cities and provinces of the Eastern Empire of Rome. During this time the Goths had been steadily extending their power in the north, until in A. D. 375 the great Hermanric, between the eightieth and the hundred and tenth years of his age, had established the Gothic dominion over all the country and tribes between the river Danube and the Baltic Sea, and eastward to the river Don.GEP 623.3

    10. In the native seats of the Goths in Sweden, there were two divisions of them, named from their respective localities, Ostro, or East-Goths; and Visi-, or West-Goths; and in their camps, their locations, and all their marches, this distinction was always preserved—the Ostrogoths always pitching to the east, the Visigoths always to the west.GEP 623.4

    11. We now approach the time when this division leads to a final and wide separation. In 376 a mighty horde of Huns, having made their way from the borders of China, invaded the Gothic dominions on the east, and “precipitated on the provinces of the west the Gothic nation, which advanced in less than forty years from the Danube to the Atlantic, and opened a way by the success of their arms to the inroads of so many hostile tribes more savages than themselves.”GEP 624.1

    12. The Huns drove the Ostrogoths upon the Visigoths, who, being hemmed in by the Danube, were compelled to seek some way of escape. In 376, the emperor Valens was informed “that the suppliant multitudes of that warlike nation whose pride was now humbled in the dust, covered a space of many miles along the banks of the river. With outstretched arms and pathetic lamentations, they loudly deplored their past misfortunes and their present danger; acknowledged that their only hope of safety was in the clemency of the Roman government; and most solemnly protested that if the gracious liberality of the emperor would permit them to cultivate the waste lands of Thrace, they should ever hold themselves bound, by the strongest obligations of duty and gratitude, to obey the laws, and to guard the limits, of the republic.” 4[Page 624] Chap 26, par. 13.GEP 624.2

    13. Valens listened to their entreaties and agreed to receive them within the empire, provided they would deliver up their arms, and allow their children to be dispersed among the families of the Romans, both to serve as hostages and to be taught the ways of civilization. To this the Visigoths, in their distress, agreed. “The imperial mandate was at length received for transporting over the Danube the whole body of the [Visi] Gothic nation; but the execution of this order was a task of labor and difficulty.GEP 624.3

    14. “The stream of the Danube, which in those parts is above a mile broad, had been swelled by incessant rains; and in the tumultuous passage many were swept away, and drowned, by the rapid violence of the current. A large fleet of vessels, of boats, and of canoes was provided; many days and nights they passed and repassed with indefatigable toil; and the most strenuous diligence was exerted by the officers of Valens that not a single barbarian of those who were reserved to subvert the foundations of Rome, should be left on the opposite shore. It was thought expedient that an accurate account should be taken of their numbers; but the persons who were employed soon desisted, with amazement and dismay, from the prosecution of the endless and impracticable task; and the principal historian of the age most seriously affirms that the prodigious armies of Darius and Xerxes, which had so long been considered as the fables of vain and credulous antiquity, were now justified, in the eyes of mankind, by the evidence of fact and experience.GEP 624.4

    15. “A probable testimony has fixed the number of the Gothic warriors at two hundred thousand men; and if we can venture to add the just proportion of women, of children, and of slaves, the whole mass of people which composed this formidable emigration must have amounted to near a million of persons, of both sexes and of all ages. The children of the Goths, those at least of a distinguished rank, were separated from the multitude. They were conducted, without delay, to the distant seats assigned for their residence and education; and as the numerous train of hostages or captives passed through the cities, their gay and splendid apparel, their robust and martial figure, excited the surprise and envy of the provincials.” 5[Page 625] Chap 26. par.14.GEP 625.1

    16. The officers appointed to receive the weapons of the Goths willingly received bribes instead; and when the task of transporting them over the Danube had been completed, the Visigoths stood a fully armed nation within Roman territory. The officers also who were appointed to deal out provisions to them conspired with the contractors, and “the vilest food was sold at an extravagant price; and in the room of wholesome and substantial provision, the market was filled with the flesh of dogs and unclean animals which had died of disease.GEP 625.2

    17. “To obtain the valuable acquisition of a pound of bread, the Goths resigned the possession of an expensive, though serviceable slave; and a small quantity of meat was greedily purchased with ten pounds of a precious, but useless, metal. When their property was exhausted, they continued this necessary traffic by the sale of their sons and daughters; and notwithstanding the love of freedom which animated every Gothic breast, they submitted to the humiliating maxim that it was better for their children to be maintained in a servile condition, than to perish in a wretched and helpless independence.” 6[Page 626] Id., par. 15.GEP 626.1

    18. The result was that the Visigoths broke loose and inflicted a terrible revenge upon the provinces of the Roman Empire. “In the course of their depredations a great number of the children of the Goths who had been sold into captivity, were restored to the embraces of their afflicted parents; but these tender interviews, which might have revived and cherished in their minds some sentiments of humanity, tended only to stimulate their native fierceness by the desire of revenge. They listened, with eager attention to the complaints of their captive children, who had suffered the most cruel indignities from the lustful or angry passions of their masters; and the same cruelties, the same indignities, were severely retaliated on the sons and daughters of the Romans.GEP 626.2

    19. “The imprudence of Valens and his ministers had introduced into the heart of the empire a nation of enemies; but the Visigoths might even yet have been reconciled, by the manly confession of past errors, and the sincere performance of former engagements. These healing and temperate measures seemed to concur with the timorous disposition of the sovereign of the East; but, on this occasion alone, Valens was brave, and his unreasonable bravery was fatal to himself and to his subjects. He declared [A. D. 377] his intention of marching from Antioch to Constantinople to subdue this dangerous rebellion; and as he was not ignorant of the difficulties of the enterprise, he solicited the assistance of his nephew, the emperor Gratian, who commanded the forces of the West.GEP 626.3

    20. “On the 9th of August, 378, a day which has deserved to be marked among the most inauspicious of the Roman calendar, the emperor Valens, leaving under a strong guard his baggage and military treasure, marched from Adrianople to attack the Goths, who were encamped about twelve miles from the city.” The Roman army was defeated, the emperor Valens and a “great number of brave and distinguished officers perished,” and about two thirds of the Roman army were destroyed. 7[Page 627] Id. pars. 16,17,21.GEP 627.1

    21. Five months after the death of Valens, Jan. 19, A. D. 379, the emperor Gratian chose Theodosius as his associate in the imperial power; and Theodosius was successful in securing “the final capitulation of the Goths (Oct. 3, A. D. 382), four years, one month and twenty-five days after the defeat and death of the emperor Valens.” Theodosius “died in the month of January, 395, and before the end of the winter of the same year, the Gothic nation was in arms.GEP 627.2

    22. “The Goths, instead of being impelled by the blind and headstrong passions of their chiefs, were now directed by the bold and artful genius of Alaric. That renowned leader was descended from the noble race of the Balti, which yielded only to the royal dignity of the Amali; he had solicited the command of the Roman armies; and the imperial court provoked him to demonstrate the folly of their refusal and the importance of their loss.... Alaric disdained to trample any longer on the prostrate and ruined countries of Thrace and Dacia, and he resolved to seek a plentiful harvest of fame and riches in a province which had hitherto escaped the ravages of war.” 8[Page 627] Chap 30, par, 1.GEP 627.3

    23. That province was Achaia, composed of the State of Greece. “The troops which had been posted to defend the Straits of Thermopylae retired, as they were directed, without attempting to disturb the secure and rapid passage of Alaric; and the fertile fields of Phocis and Boeotia were instantly covered by a deluge of barbarians, who massacred the males of an age to bear arms, and drove away the beautiful females with the spoil and cattle of the flaming villages. The travelers who visited Greece several years afterward could easily discover the deep and bloody traces of the march of the Goths.GEP 627.4

    24. “The whole territory of Attica, from the promontory of Sunium to the town of Megara, was blasted by his baleful presence; and if we may use the comparison of a contemporary philosopher, Athens itself resembled the bleeding and empty skin of a slaughtered victim. The confidence of the cities of Peloponnesus in their natural rampart, had tempted them to neglect the care of their antique walls; and the avarice of the Roman governors had exhausted and betrayed the unhappy province. Corinth, Argos, Sparta, yielded without resistance to the arms of the Goths; and the most fortunate of the inhabitants were saved by death from beholding the slavery of their families and the conflagrations of their cities. The vases and statues were distributed among the barbarians, with more regard to the value of the materials than to the elegance of the workmanship; the female captives submitted to the laws of war; the enjoyment of beauty was the reward of valor; and the Greeks could not reasonably complain of an abuse which was justified by the example of the heroic times.” 9[Page 628] Chap 30, pars. 1,2.GEP 628.1

    25. Stilicho, the chief officer of Honorius, was sent with a powerful army into Greece to chastise Alaric and his Visigoths. The Roman army landed on the isthmus near Corinth. A great and stubborn battle was fought, in which the Romans at length prevailed. As the isthmus was held by the Romans, Alaric retreated to the mountain of Pholoe on the borders of Elis. There the Roman army surrounded the Visigoths; and Stilicho was so certain of their complete destruction in a short time, that he left his army, and went away “to enjoy his triumph in the theatrical games and lascivious dances of the Greeks.” His soldiers turned their attention to robbing the country rather than watching the Visigoths; and Alaric with his army slipped away to Corinth, thirty miles distant, seized transports there, and conveyed his whole army across the gulf to the opposite shore, and Stilicho was “confounded by the intelligence that the Goths, who had eluded his efforts, were in full possession of the important province of Epirus.”GEP 628.2

    26. Alaric then concluded a treaty of peace and alliance with the emperor of the East. Greece belonged to the Eastern Empire, and Stilicho and his army belonged to the Western. As Alaric was now the ally of the emperor of the East, the western army was ordered to withdraw from the territory of the East. About this time Synesius, a Greek philosopher who was at Constantinople, delivered an oration before the emperor Areadius, in which the emperor was exhorted to banish luxury from the court and camp, and in the place of his barbarian mercenaries, to enlist an army of citizens of the empire, put himself at their head, and drive the whole host of barbarians back to Scythia, or reduce them to slavery.GEP 628.3

    27. Instead of acting upon this advice, “an edict was published at Constantinople which declared the promotion of Alaric to the rank of master-general of the Eastern Illyricum. The Roman provincials, and the allies, who had respected the faith of the treaties, were justly indignant that the ruin of Greece and Epirus should be so liberally rewarded. The Gothic conqueror was received as a lawful magistrate in the cities which he had so lately besieged. The fathers whose sons he had massacred, the husbands whose wives he had violated, were subject to his authority; and the success of his rebellion encouraged the ambition of every leader of the foreign mercenaries.GEP 629.1

    28. “The use to which Alaric applied his new command distinguishes the firm and judicious character of his policy. He issued his orders to the four magazines and manufacturers of offensive and defensive arms, Margus, Ratiaria, Naissus, and Thessalonica, to provide his troops with an extraordinary supply of shields, helmets, swords, and spears; the unhappy provincials were compelled to forge the instruments of their own destruction; and the barbarians removed the only defect which had sometimes disappointed the efforts of their courage. The birth of Alaric, the glory of his past exploits, and the confidence in his future designs insensibly united the body of the nation under his victorious standard; and with the unanimous consent of the barbarian chieftains, the master-general of Illyricum was elevated, according to ancient custom, on a shield, and solemnly proclaimed king of the Visigoths.GEP 629.2

    29. “Armed with this double power, seated on the verge of the two empires, he alternately sold his deceitful promises to the court of Arcadius and of Honorius, till he declared and executed his resolution of invading the dominions of the west. The provinces of Europe which belonged to the Eastern emperor were already exhausted; those of Asia were inaccessible; and the strength of Constantinople had resisted his attack. But he was tempted by the fame, the beauty, the wealth of Italy, which he had twice visited; and he secretly aspired to plant the Gothic standard on the walls of Rome, and to enrich his army with the accumulated spoils of three hundred triumphs.” 10[Page 630] Chap 30. Pars 3,4.GEP 629.3

    30. In the years 400-403 A.D. Alaric led his Visigothic host through Pannonia, round the northern end of the Adriatic Sea, and spread devastation to Milan. “The emperor Honorius was distinguished above his subjects by the pre-eminence of fear, as well as of rank. The pride and luxury in which he was educated, had not allowed him to suspect that there existed on the earth any power presumptuous enough to invade the repose of the successor of Augustus. The arts of flattery concealed the impending danger, till Alaric approached the palace of Milan.” At Milan, however, Alaric was checked, defeated, and obliged to retreat, by Stilicho, the general of the Roman legions that had been gathered from Britain, Gaul, and Italy. Although Alaric was thus defeated and compelled to retreat to his camp on the confines of Italy, and although his retreat “was considered as the deliverance of Italy,” yet it was only a seeming deliverance; and his retreat was only for a season.GEP 630.1

    31. Shortly after Alaric had retired into Illyricum, he renounced the service and alliance of Arcadius, and concluded with Honorius “a treaty of peace and alliance, by which he was declared master-general of the Roman armies throughout the prefecture of Illyricum as it was claimed, according to the true and ancient limits, by the minister of Honorius.” He was also granted a subsidy of four thousand pounds of gold. The office of master-general empowered him to enlist and organize the best army that he possibly could. “The fame of his valor invited to the Gothic standard the bravest of the barbarian warriors, who, from the Euxine to the Rhine, were agitated by the desire of rapine and conquest;” and in five years Alaric and his Visigoths were again ready to invade the Western Empire.GEP 630.2

    32. And now, A. D. 408, the court of Honorius took a course which fully prepared the way for the sweeping success of such an invasion when it should again occur. Stilicho, the faithful minister of the emperor, and of the empire, who had twice delivered from the barbarians both the emperor and Italy, and who was still the only stay of falling Rome, was sacrificed to the treacherous ambition of a crafty rival. “The crafty Olympius,” who exercised a splendid office, and “who concealed his vices under the mask of Christian piety, had secretly undermined the benefactor by whose favor he was promoted to the honorable offices of the imperial palace.”GEP 631.1

    33. By representing to Honorius that Stilicho “already meditated the death of his sovereign, with the ambitious hope of placing the diadem on the head of his son Eucherius,” Olympius succeeded in supplanting Stilicho in the mind of the emperor, and “the respectful attachment of Honorius was converted [May, A. D. 408] into fear, suspicion, and hatred.” At the instigation of Olympius there were massacred of the friends of Stilicho, “the most illustrious officers of the empire: two praetorian prefects, of Gaul and of Italy; two masters-general of the cavalry and infantry; the masters of the offices; the quaestor, the treasurer, and the domestics; besides Stilicho himself.GEP 631.2

    34. “If Alaric himself had been introduced [September, A. D. 408] into the council of Ravenna, he would probably have advised the same measures which were actually pursued by the ministers of Honorius. The king of the Goths would have conspired, perhaps with some reluctance, to destroy the formidable adversary by whose arms, in Italy as well as in Greece, he had been twice overthrown. Their active and interested hatred laboriously accomplished the disgrace and ruin the great Stilicho. The Gothic prince would have subscribed with pleasure the edict which the fanaticism of Olympius dictated to the simple and devout emperor. Honorius excluded all persons who were adverse to the Catholic Church, from holding any office in the State, obstinately rejected the service of all those who dissented from his religion, and rashly disqualified many of his bravest and most skilful officers who adhered to the pagan worship or who had imbibed the opinions of Arianism.GEP 631.3

    35. “These measures, so advantageous to an enemy, Alaric would have approved, and might perhaps have suggested; but it may perhaps seem doubtful whether the barbarian would have promoted his interest at the expense of the inhuman and absurd cruelty which was perpetrated by the direction, or at least with the connivance, of the imperial ministers. The foreign auxiliaries, who had been attached to the person of Stilicho, lamented his death; but the desire of revenge was checked by a natural apprehension for the safety of their wives and children, who were detained as hostages in the strong cities of Italy, where they had likewise deposited their most valuable effects. At the same hour, and as if by a common signal, the cities of Italy were polluted by the same horrid scenes of universal massacre and pillage, which involved in promiscuous destruction the families and fortunes of the barbarians.GEP 632.1

    36. “Exasperated by such an injury, which might have awakened the tamest and most servile spirit, they cast a look of indignation and hope toward the camp of Alaric, and unanimously swore to pursue, with just and implacable war, the perfidious nation that had so basely violated the laws of hospitality. By the imprudent conduct of the ministers of Honorius, the republic lost the assistance, and deserved the enmity, of thirty thousand of her bravest soldiers; and the weight of that formidable army, which alone might have determined the event of the war, was transferred from the scale of the Romans into that of the Goths.”GEP 632.2

    37. In the month of October, A. D. 408, “Alaric, with bold and rapid marches, passed the Alps and the Po, hastily pillaged the cities of Aquileia, Altinum, Concordia, and Cremona, which yielded to his arms, increased his forces by the accession of thirty thousand auxiliaries, and, without meeting a single enemy in the field, advanced as far as the edge of the morass which protected the impregnable residence of the emperor of the West. Instead of attempting the hopeless siege of Ravenna, the prudent leader of the Goths proceeded to Rimini, stretched his ravages along the seacoast of the Adriatic, and meditated the conquest of the ancient mistress of the world.GEP 632.3

    38. “An Italian hermit, whose zeal and sanctity were respected by the barbarians themselves, encountered the victorious monarch, and boldly denounced the indignation of Heaven against the oppressors of the earth; but the saint himself was confounded by the solemn asseveration of Alaric that he felt a secret and preternatural impulse, which directed, and even compelled, his march to the gates of Rome.GEP 633.1

    39. “He felt that his genius and his fortune were equal to the most arduous enterprises, and the enthusiasm which he communicated to the Goths insensibly removed the popular, and almost superstitious, reverence of the nations for the majesty of the Roman name. His troops, animated by the hopes of spoil, followed the course of the Flaminian Way, occupied the unguarded passes of the Apennines, descended into the rich plains of Umbria; and as they lay encamped on the banks of the Clitumnus, might wantonly slaughter and devour the milk-white oxen which had been so long reserved for the use of Roman triumphs. A lofty situation, and a seasonable tempest of thunder and lightning, preserved the little city of Narni; but the king of the Goths, despising the ignoble prey, still advanced with unabated vigor; and after he had passed through the stately arches, adorned with the spoils of barbaric victories, he pitched his camp under the walls of Rome [A. D. 408]GEP 633.2

    40. “By a skilful disposition of his numerous forces, who impatiently watched the moment of an assault, Alaric encompassed the walls, commanded the twelve principal gates, intercepted all communication with the adjacent country, and vigilantly guarded the navigation of the Tiber, from which the Romans derived the surest and most plentiful supply of provisions. The first emotions of the nobles and of the people were those of surprise and indignation that a vile barbarian should dare to insult the capital of the world: but their arrogance was soon humbled by misfortune.GEP 633.3

    41. “That unfortunate city gradually experienced the distress of scarcity, and at length the horrid calamities of famine. The daily allowance of three pounds of bread was reduced to one-half, to one-third, to nothing; and the price of corn still continued to rise in a rapid and extravagant proportion. The poorer citizens, who were unable to purchase the necessaries of life, solicited the precarious charity of the rich; and for a while the public misery was alleviated by the humanity of Laeta, the widow of the emperor Gratian, who had fixed her residence at Rome, and consecrated to the use of the indigent the princely revenue which she annually received from the grateful successors of her husband. But these private and temporary donatives were insufficient to appease the hunger of a numerous people; and the progress of famine invaded the marble palaces of the senators themselves.GEP 633.4

    42. “The persons of both sexes who had been educated in the enjoyment of ease and luxury, discovered how little is requisite to supply the demands of nature, and lavished their unavailing treasures of gold and silver to obtain the coarse and scanty sustenance which they would formerly have rejected with disdain. The food the most repugnant to sense or imagination, the aliments the most unwholesome and pernicious to the constitution, were eagerly devoured, and fiercely disputed, by the rage of hunger. A dark suspicion was entertained that some desperate wretches fed on the bodies of their fellow creatures, whom they had secretly murdered; and even mothers (such was the horrid conflict of the two most powerful instincts implanted by nature in the human breast), even mothers are said to have tasted the flesh of their slaughtered infants!GEP 634.1

    43. “Many thousands of the inhabitants of Rome expired in their houses or in the streets for want of sustenance; and as the public sepulchers without the walls were in the power of the enemy, the stench which arose from so many putrid and unburied carcasses, infected the air; and the miseries of famine were succeeded and aggravated by the contagion of a pestilential disease.GEP 634.2

    44. “The last resource of the Romans was in the clemency, or at least in the moderation, of the king of the Goths. The senate, who in this emergency assumed the supreme powers of government, appointed two ambassadors to negotiate with the enemy. This important trust was delegated [A. D. 409] to Basilius, a senator of Spanish extraction, and already conspicuous in the administration of provinces; and to John, the first tribune of the notaries, who was peculiarly qualified by his dexterity in business as well as by his former intimacy with the Gothic prince.GEP 634.3

    45. “When they were introduced into his presence, they declared, perhaps in a more lofty style than became their abject condition, that the Romans were resolved to maintain their dignity, either in peace or war; and that, if Alaric refused them a fair and honorable capitulation, he might sound his trumpets, and prepare to give battle to an innumerable people, exercised in arms, and animated by despair. ‘The thicker the hay, the easier it is mowed,’ was the concise reply of the barbarian; and this rustic metaphor was accompanied by a loud and insulting laugh, expressive of his contempt for the menaces of an unwarlike populace, enervated by luxury before they were emaciated by famine. He then condescended to fix the ransom which he would accept as the price of his retreat from the walls of Rome; all the gold and silver in the city, whether it were the property of the State, or of individuals; all the rich and precious movables; and all the slaves who could prove their title to the name of barbarians.GEP 635.1

    46. “The ministers of the senate presumed to ask, in a modest and suppliant tone, ‘If such, O king, are your demands, what do you intend to leave us?’—‘YOUR LIVES!’ replied the haughty conqueror. They trembled, and retired. Yet, before they retired, a short suspension of arms was granted, which allowed some time for a more temperate negotiation. The stern features of Alaric were insensibly relaxed; he abated much of the rigor of his terms, and at length consented to raise the siege, on the immediate payment of five thousand pounds of gold, of thirty thousand pounds of silver, of four thousand robes of silk, of three thousand pieces of fine scarlet cloth, and of three thousand pounds’ weight of pepper.GEP 635.2

    47. “As soon as the Romans had satisfied the rapacious demands of Alaric, they were restored, in some measure, to the enjoyment of peace and plenty. Several of the gates were cautiously opened; the importation of provisions from the river and the adjacent country was no longer obstructed by the Goths; the citizens resorted in crowds to the free market, which was held during three days in the suburbs; and while the merchants who undertook this gainful trade made a considerable profit, the future subsistence of the city was secured by the ample magazines which were deposited in the public and private granaries.”GEP 635.3

    48. Alaric withdrew his army into Tuscany, where he established “his winter quarters, and the Gothic standard became the refuge of forty thousand barbarian slaves, who had broken their chains, and aspired, under the command of their great deliverer, to revenge the injuries and the disgrace of their cruel servitude. About the same time, he received a more honorable re-enforcement of Goths and Huns, whom Adolphus, the brother of his wife, had conducted, at his pressing invitation, from the banks of the Danube to those of the Tiber, and who had cut their way, with some difficulty and loss, through the superior numbers of the imperial troops. A victorious leader, who united the daring spirit of a barbarian with the art and discipline of a Roman general, was at the head of a hundred thousand fighting men; and Italy pronounced, with terror and respect, the formidable name of Alaric.”GEP 636.1

    49. About eighteen months were next spent in efforts, real or affected, at negotiations between the court of Honorius and Alaric. In this time Rome was again reduced, and again spared. “But the court and councils of Honorius still remained a scene of weakness and distraction, of corruption and anarchy;” and “the crime and folly of the court of Ravenna were expiated a third time by the calamities of Rome.GEP 636.2

    50. “The king of the Goths, who no longer dissembled his appetite for plunder and revenge, appeared in arms under the walls of the capital; and the trembling senate, without any hopes of relief, prepared, by a desperate resistance, to delay the ruin of their country. But they were unable to guard against the secret conspiracy of their slaves and domestics; who, either from birth or interest, were attached to the cause of the enemy. At the hour of midnight [Aug. 24, A. D. 410] the Salarian gate was silently opened, and the inhabitants were awakened by the tremendous sound of the Gothic trumpet. Eleven hundred and sixty-three years after the foundation of Rome, the imperial city, which had subdued and civilized so considerable a part of mankind, was delivered to the licentious fury of the tribes of Germany and Scythia.GEP 636.3

    51. “The writers, the best disposed to exaggerate their clemency, have freely confessed that a cruel slaughter was made of the Romans; and that the streets of the city were filled with dead bodies, which remained without burial during the general consternation. The despair of the citizens was sometimes converted into fury; and whenever the barbarians were provoked by opposition, they extended the promiscuous massacre to the feeble, the innocent, and the helpless. The private revenge of forty thousand slaves was exercised without pity or remorse; and the ignominious lashes which they had formerly received were washed away in the blood of the guilty or obnoxious families.GEP 637.1

    52. “In the pillage of Rome, a just preference was given to gold and jewels, which contain the greatest value in the smallest compass and weight; but after these portable riches had been removed by the more diligent robbers, the palaces of Rome were rudely stripped of their splendid and costly furniture. The side-boards of massy plate, and the variegated wardrobes of silk and purple, were irregularly piled in the wagons that always followed the march of a Gothic army. The most exquisite works of art were roughly handled or wantonly destroyed; many a statue was melted for the sake of the precious materials; and many a vase, in the division of the spoil, was shivered into fragments by the stroke of a battle-ax.GEP 637.2

    53. “The acquisition of riches served only to stimulate the avarice of the rapacious barbarians, who proceeded by threats, by blows, and by tortures, to force from their prisoners the confession of hidden treasure. Visible splendor and expense were alleged as the proof of a plentiful fortune; the appearance of poverty was imputed to a parsimonious disposition; and the obstinacy of some misers, who endured the most cruel torments before they would discover the secret object of their affection, was fatal to many unhappy wretches, who expired under the lash for refusing to reveal their imaginary treasures.”GEP 637.3

    54. Flames added their terrors to those of robbery and slaughter; and even “the wrath of Heaven supplied the imperfections of hostile rage,” for “the proud Forum of Rome, decorated with the statues of so many gods and heroes, was leveled in the dust by the stroke of lightning.” Nor is it “easy to compute the multitudes who, from an honorable station and a prosperous fortune, were suddenly reduced to the miserable condition of captives and exiles.”GEP 637.4

    “This awful catastrophe of Rome filled the astonished empire with grief and terror. So interesting a contrast of greatness and ruin disposed the fond credulity of the people to deplore, and even to exaggerate, the afflictions of the queen of cities. The clergy, who applied to recent events the lofty metaphors of Oriental prophecy, were sometimes tempted to confound the destruction of the capital and the dissolution of the globe.”GEP 638.1

    55. On the sixth day after entering Rome, Alaric again took up his march, Aug. 29, A. D. 410, “at the head of an army encumbered with rich and weighty spoils, along the Appian Way into the southern provinces of Italy, destroying whatever dared to oppose his passage, and contenting himself with the plunder of the unresisting country.GEP 638.2

    56. “No sooner had he reached the extreme land of Italy than he was attracted by the neighboring prospect of a fertile and peaceful island. Yet even the possession of Sicily he considered only as an intermediate step to the important expedition which he already meditated against the continent of Africa. The Straits of Rhegium and Messina are twelve miles in length, and in the narrowest passage, about one mile and a half broad; and the fabulous monsters of the deep, the rocks of Scylla, and the whirlpool of Charybdis, could terrify none but the most timid and unskilful mariners.GEP 638.3

    57. “Yet as soon as the first division of the Goths had embarked, a sudden tempest arose, which sunk or scattered many of the transports; their courage was daunted by the terrors of a new element; and the whole design was defeated by the premature death of Alaric [A. D. 410], which fixed, after a short illness, the fatal term of his conquests. The ferocious character of the barbarians was displayed in the funeral of a hero, whose valor and fortune they celebrated with mournful applause. By the labor of a captive multitude, they forcibly diverted the course of the Busentinus, a small river that washes the walls of Consentia. The royal sepulcher, adorned with the splendid spoils and trophies of Rome, was constructed in the vacant bed; the waters were then restored to their natural channel: and the secret spot where the remains of Alaric had been deposited, was forever concealed by the inhuman massacre of the prisoners who had been employed to execute the work.GEP 638.4

    58. “Above four years [A. D. 408-412] elapsed from the successful invasion of Italy by the arms of Alaric to the voluntary retreat of the Goths under the conduct of his successor, Adolphus; and during the whole time, they reigned without control over a country which, in the opinion of the ancients, had united all the various excellences of nature and art. The prosperity, indeed, which Italy had attained in the auspicious age of the Antonines, had gradually declined with the decline of the empire. The fruits of a long peace perished under the rude grasp of the barbarians; and they themselves were incapable of tasting the more elegant refinements of luxury, which had been prepared for the use of the soft and polished Italians.GEP 639.1

    59. “Each soldier, however, claimed an ample portion of the substantial plenty, the corn and cattle, oil and wine, that was daily collected and consumed in the Gothic camp; and the principal warriors insulted the villas and gardens, once inhabited by Lucullus and Cicero, along the beauteous coast of Campania. Their trembling captives, the sons and daughters of Roman senators, presented in goblets of gold and gems, large draughts of Falernian wine to the haughty victors, who stretched their huge limbs under the shade of plane-trees, artificially disposed to exclude the scorching rays, and to admit the genial warmth, of the sun. These delights were enhanced by the memory of past hardships; the comparison of their native soil, the bleak and barren hills of Scythia, and the frozen banks of the Elbe and Danube, added new charms to the felicity of the Italian climate.”GEP 639.2

    60. Adolphus “the successor of Alaric, suspended the operations of war; and seriously negotiated with the imperial court a treaty of friendship and alliance. It was the interest of the ministers of Honorius, who were now released from the obligation of their extravagant oath to deliver Italy from the intolerable weight of the Gothic powers; and they readily accepted their service against the tyrants and barbarians who infested the provinces beyond the Alps. Adolphus, assuming the character of a Roman general, directed his march [A. D. 412] from the extremity of Campania to the southern provinces of Gaul. His troops, either by force or agreement, immediately occupied the cities of Narbonne, Toulouse, and Bordeaux; and though they were repulsed by Count Boniface from the walls of Marseilles, they soon extended their quarters from the Mediterranean to the ocean.”GEP 639.3

    61. When Alaric first invested Rome, in 408, he by some means obtained possession of Placidia, the sister of the emperors Arcadius and Honorius; and, though respectfully treated, she had been held ever since by the Goths either as a hostage or a captive. She was, in 408, about twenty years of age. Before leaving Italy, Adolphus proposed to make Placidia his wife and queen. Honorius rejected with disdain the proposal of an alliance so injurious to every sentiment of Roman pride; but Placidia received with favor the proposal. “The marriage of Adolphus and Placidia was consummated before the Goths retired from Italy; and the solemn, perhaps the anniversary, day of their nuptials was afterward celebrated in the house of Ingenus, one of the most illustrious citizens of Narbonne in Gaul.GEP 640.1

    62. “The bride, attired and adorned like a Roman empress, was placed on a throne of state; and the king of the Goths, who assumed, on this occasion, the Roman habit, contented himself with a less honorable seat by her side. The nuptial gift which, according to the custom of his nation, was offered to Placidia, consisted of the rare and magnificent spoils of her country. Fifty beautify youths in silken robes carried a basin in each hand; and one of these basins was filled with pieces of gold, the other with precious stones of an inestimable value.... The barbarians enjoyed the insolence of their triumph; and the provincials rejoiced in this alliance, which tempered, by the mild influence of love and reason, the fierce spirit of their Gothic lord.”GEP 640.2

    63. In A. D. 414, Adolphus invaded Spain, and took the city of Barcelona. At that city, in August, A. D. 415, Adolphus was assassinated, and Singeric took the Visigothic throne. “The first act of his reign was the inhuman murder of the six children of Adolphus, the issue of a former marriage, whom he tore without pity from the feeble arms of a venerable bishop. The unfortunate Placidia, instead of the respectful compassion which she might have excited in the most savage breasts, was treated with cruel and wanton insult. The daughter of the emperor Theodosius, confounded among a crowd of vulgar captives, was compelled to march on foot about twelve miles before the horse of a barbarian, the assassin of a husband whom Placidia loved and lamented. But Placidia soon obtained the pleasure of revenge; and the view of her ignominious sufferings might rouse an indignant people against the tyrant, who was assassinated on the seventh day of his usurpation.GEP 640.3

    64. “After the death of Singeric, the free choice of the nation bestowed the Gothic scepter on Wallia [A. D. 415-419], whose warlike and ambitious temper appeared, in the beginning of his reign, extremely hostile to the republic. He marched in arms from Barcelona to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, which the ancients revered and dreaded as the boundary of the world. But when he reached the southern promontory of Spain, and, from the rock now covered by the fortress of Gibraltar, contemplated the neighboring and fertile coast of Africa, Wallia resumed the designs of conquest which had been interrupted by the death of Alaric. The winds and waves again disappointed the enterprise of the Goths; and the minds of a superstitious people were deeply affected by the repeated disasters of storms and shipwrecks.GEP 641.1

    65. “In this disposition, the successor of Adolphus no longer refused to listen to a Roman ambassador, whose proposals were enforced by the real, or supposed, approach of a numerous army. A solemn treaty was stipulated and observed; Placidia was honorably restored to her brother; six hundred thousand measures of wheat were delivered to the hungry Goths, and Wallia engaged to draw his sword in the service of the empire. A bloody war was instantly excited among the barbarians of Spain, and the contending princes are said to have addressed their letters, their ambassadors, and their hostages, to the throne of the Western emperor, exhorting him to remain a tranquil spectator of their contest, the events of which must be favorable to the Romans, by the mutual slaughter of their common enemies.GEP 641.2

    66. “The Spanish War was obstinately supported, during three campaigns, with desperate valor and various success; and the martial achievements of Wallia diffused through the empire the superior renown of the Gothic hero. He exterminated the Silingi, who had irretrievably ruined the elegant plenty of the province of Boetica. He slew, in battle, the king of the Alani; and the remains of those Scythian wanderers who escaped from the field, instead of choosing a new leader, humbly sought a refuge under the standard of the Vandals, with whom they were ever afterward confounded.GEP 642.1

    67. “The Vandals themselves and the Suevi yielded to the efforts of the invincible Goths. The promiscuous multitude of barbarians, whose retreat had been intercepted, were driven into the mountains of Galicia, where they still continued, in a narrow compass, and on a barren soil, to exercise their domestic and implacable hostilities. In the pride of victory, Wallia was faithful to his engagements; he restored his Spanish conquests to the obedience of Honorius; and the tyranny of the imperial officers soon reduced an oppressed people to regret the time of their barbarian servitude.GEP 642.2

    68. “His victorious Goths, forty-three years after they had passed the Danube, were established [A. D. 419], according to the faith of treaties, in the possession of the second Aquitaine, a maritime province between the Garonne and the Loire, under the civil and ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Bordeaux. That metropolis, advantageously situated for the trade of the ocean, was built in a regular and elegant form; and its numerous inhabitants were distinguished among the Gauls by their wealth, their learning, and the politeness of their manners. The adjacent province, which has been fondly compared to the garden of Eden, is blessed with a fruitful soil and a temperate climate; the face of the country displayed the arts and the rewards of industry; and the Goths, after their martial toils, luxuriously exhausted the rich vineyards of Aquitaine. The Gothic limits were enlarged by the additional gift of some neighboring dioceses; and the successors of Alaric fixed their royal residence at Toulouse, which included five populous quarters, or cities, within the spacious circuit of its walls.”GEP 642.3

    69. In A. D. 419, Wallia was succeeded by Theodoric, the son of Alaric, who had reigned thirty-two years when he was killed in the battle of Chalons, A. D. 451. He was succeeded by his eldest son Torismond, who was murdered in A. D 453 by his brother Theodoric II, who reigned till A. D. 466. “The design of extinguishing the Roman Empire in Spain and Gaul was conceived, and almost completed, in the reign of Euric, who assassinated his brother Theodoric [A. D. 466], and displayed, with a more savage temper, superior abilities, both in peace and war. He passed the Pyrenees at the head of a numerous army, subdued the cities of Saragossa and Pampeluna, vanquished in battle the martial nobles of the Tarragonese province, carried his victorious arms into the heart of Lusitania, and permitted the Suevi to hold the kingdom of Galicia under the Gothic monarchy of Spain. The efforts of Euric were not less vigorous or less successful in Gaul; and throughout the country that extends from the Pyrenees to the Rhone and the Loire, Berry and Auvergne were the only cities, or dioceses, which refused to acknowledge him as their master.”GEP 643.1

    70. Later the Visigoths yielded to the Franks “the greatest part of their Gallic Possessions; but their loss was amply compensated by the easy conquest and secure enjoyment of the provinces of Spain. From the monarchy of the Goths, which soon involved the Suevic kingdom of Galicia, the modern Spaniards still derive some national vanity.” 11[Page 643] Chaps. 30, pars. 23-25; 31, pars. 7-39; 36, par. 22; 38, par. 29.GEP 643.2

    71. “In Spain the Goth supplies an important element in the modern nation. And that element has been neither forgotten nor despised. Part of the unconquered region of northern Spain, the land of Asturia, kept for a while the name of Gothia, as did the Gothic possessions in Gaul and Crim. The name of the people who played so great a part in all southern Europe, and who actually ruled over so large a part of it, has now wholly passed away; but it is in Spain that its historical impress is to be looked for.” 12[Page 643] Encyclopedia Britannica, art. Goths, par. 18.GEP 643.3

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