Sidebilder
PDF
ePub
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors]
[graphic]

subdued. The Quadi and the Marcomanni,(83) who had taken the sad 14 the war, were the most severely punished in its catastrophe. They were commanded to retire five miles(84) from their own banks of the Danube, and to deliver up the flower of the youth, who were immediately sent into Britain, a remote island, where they might be secure as hostages, and useful as soldiers.(85) On the frequent rebellions of the Quadi and Marcomanni, the irritated emperor resolved to reduce their country into the form of a province. His designs were disappointed by death. This formidable league, however, the only one that appears in the two first centuries of the imperial history, was entirely dissipated, without leaving any traces behind in Germany. In the course of this introductory chapter, we have confined ourselves to the

general outlines of the manners of Germany, without attempting to describe or to distinguish the various tribes which filled that great country in the time of Cesar, of Tacitus, or of Ptolemy. As the ancient, or as new tribes successivel present themselves in the series of this history, we shall concisely mention their origin, their situation, and their particular character. Modern nations are fixed and permanent societies, connected among themselves by laws and government, bound to their native soil by arts and agriculture. The German tribes were voluntary and fluctuating associations of soldiers, almost of savages. The same territory often changed its inhabitants in the tide of conquest and emigration. The same communities, uniting in a plan of defence or invasion, bestowed a new title on their new confederacy. The dissolution of an ancient confederacy restored to the independent tribes their peculiar but long forgotten appellation. A victorious state often communicated its own name to a vanquished people. Sometimes crowds of volunteers flocked from all parts to the standard of a favourite leader; his camp became their country, and some cir: cumstances of the enterprise, soon gave a common denomination to the mixed multitude. The distinctions of the ferocious invaders were perpetually varied by themselves, and confounded by the astonished subjects of the Roman eroso)

ars, and the administration of public affairs, are the principal subjects of history; but the number of persons interested in these busy scenes is very different, according to the different condition of mankind. In great monarchies, millions of obedient subjects pursue their useful occupations in peace and obscurity. The attention of the writer, as well as of the reader, is solely confined to a court, a capital, a regular army, and the districts which happen to be the occasional scene of military operations. But a state of freedom and barbarism, the season of civil commotions, or the situation of petty republics,(87) raises almost every member of the o into action, and consequently into notice. , The irregular divisions, and the restless motions, of the people of Germany, dazzle our imagination, and seem to multiply their numbers. The profuse enumeration of kings and warriors, of armies and nations, inclines us to forget that the same objects are continually repeated under a variety of appel; lations, and that the most splendid appellations have been frequently lavished on the most inconsiderable objects.

* (83) The Marcomanni, a colony, who, from the banks of the Rhine, occupied Bohemia and Moravia, had once erected a great and formidable monarchy under their king Maroboduus. See Strabo, l. vii. Wehl. Pat. ii. 105. Tacit. Annal. ii. 63.” (84) Mr. Wotton (History of Rome, p. 166) increases the prohibition to ten times the distance. His reasoning is specious, but not conclusive. Five miles were sufficient for a fortified barrier. (85) Dion, l. lxxi, and lxxii. (86) See an excellent dissertation on the origin and migrations of nations, in the Memoires de l'Aca demie des Inscriptions, tom. xviii. p. 48–71. It is seldom that the antiquarian and the philosopher are so happily blended. § Should we suspect that Athens contained only 21,000 citizens, and Sparta no more than 39,000? See and Wallace on the number of mankind in ancient and modern times.t

CHAPTER X.

The emperors Decius, Gallus, JEmilianus, Valerman, and Gallienus—The general irruption of the Barbarians—The thirty Tyrants.

[A. D. 24.8—268.] FROM the great secular games celebrated by Philip, to the death of the emperor Gallienus, there elapsed twenty years of shame and misfortune. During that calamitous period, every instant of time was marked, every province of the Roman world was afflicted, by barbarous invaders and military tyrants, and the ruined empire seemed to approach the last and fatal moment of its dissolution. The confusion of the times, and the scarcity of authentic memorials, oppose equal difficulties to the historian, who attempts to #. a clear and unbroken thread of narration. Surrounded with impersect ments, always concise, often obscure, and sometimes contradictory, he is reduced to collect, to compare, and to conjecture: and though he ought never o: his conjectures in the rank of facts, yet the knowledge of human nature, and of the sure operation of its fierce and unrestrained passions, might, on some occasions, supply the want of historical materials. There is not, for instance, any difficulty in conceiving, that the successive murders of so many emperors had loosened all the ties of allegiance between the prince and people; that all the o of Philip were disposed to imitate the example of their master; and that the caprice of armies, long since habituated to frequent and violent revolutions, might every day raise to the throne the most obscure of their fellow-soldiers. . History can only add, that the rebellion against the emperor Philip broke out in the summer of the year two hundred and forty-nine, among the legions of Maesia; and that a subaltern officer,(1) named Marinus, was the object of their seditious choice. Philip was alarmed. He dreaded lest the treason of the Maesian army should prove the first spark of a general conflagration. Distracted with the consciousness of his guilt and of his danger, he communicated the intelligence to the senate. A ; silence prevailed, the effect of fear, and perhaps of disaffection: till at ength Decius, one of the assembly, assuming a spirit worthy of his noble extraction, ventured to discover more intrepidity than the emperor seemed to possess. [A. D. 249.] He treated the whole business with contempt, as a hasty and inconsiderate tumult, and Philip's rival as a phantom of royalty, who in a very few days would be destroyed % the same "...". at had created him. The speedy completion of the prophecy inspired Philip with a just esteem for so able a counsellor; and Decius appeared to him the only person capable of restoring peace and discipline to an o whose tumultuous spirit did not j, subside after the murder of Marinus. Decius, who long resisted his own nomination, seems to have insinuated the danger of presenti a leader of merit, to the angry and apprehensive minds of the soldiers; and his prediction was again confirmed by the event. The legions of Maesia forced their judge to become their accomplice. They left him only the alternative of death or the purple. His subsequent conduct, after that decisive measure, was unavoidable. He conducted or followed his army to the confines of Italy, whither Philip, collecting all his force to repel the formidable competitor, whom he had raised up, advanced to meet him. The imperial troops were superior in number;(2) but the rebels formed an army of veterans, commanded by an able and experienced leader. Philip was either killed in the

(1) The expression used by Zosimus and Zonaras may signify that Marinus commanded a century, a cohort, or a legion.

(2) His birth at Bubalia, a little village in Pannonia (Eutrop. ix. Victor in Caesarib. epitom.), seems to contradict, unless it was merely accidental, his supposed descent from the Decil, Six hundred years had bestowed nobility on the Decii; but at the commencement of that period, they were only plebeians of merit, and among the first who shared the consulship with the haughty patricians. Plebela Deciorum animae, &c. Juvenal, Sat. viii.254. See the ... speech of Declus, in Livy, x. 9, 10

battle, or put to death a few days afterward at Verona. His son and associate in the empire was massacred at Rome by the Praetorian guards; and the victorious Decius, with more favourable circumstances than the ambition of that age can usually plead, was universally acknowledged by the senate and F. vinces. It is reported, that, immediately after his reluctant o: of the itle of Augustus, he had assured Philip by a private message, of his innocence and loyalty, solemnly protesting, that on his arrival in Italy, he would resign the imperial ornaments, and return to the condition of an obedient subject. His professions might be sincere. But in the situation where fortune had placed o it was scarcely possible that he could either forgive or be forgiven. (3

[A. D. ol. emperor Decius had employed a few months in the works of peace and the administration of justice, when he was summoned to the banks of the Danube by the invasion of the Goths. This is the first considerable occasion in which history mentions that great people, who afterward broke the Roman power, sacked the Capitol, and reigned in Gaul, Spain, and o: So ji. 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.

n the beginning of the sixth century, and after the conquest of Italy, the Goths, in possession of present greatness, very naturally indulged themselves in the prospect of past and of future glory. They wished to preserve the memory of their ancestors, and to transmit to posterity their own achievements. The principal minister of the court of Ravenna, the learned Cassiodorus, gratified the inclination of the conquerors in a Gothic history, which consisted of twelve books, now reduced to the imperfect abridgment of Jornandes.(4) These writers passed with the most artful conciseness over the misfortunes of the nation, celebrated its successful valour, and adorned the triumph with many Asiatic trophies, that more properly belonged to the people of Scythia. On the faith of ancient songs, the uncertain, but the only, memorials of barbarians, they reduced the first origin of the Goths, from the vast island, or peninsula, of Scandinavia.(5) That extreme country of the north was not unknown to the conquerors of Italy: the ties of ancient consanguinity had been strengthened by recent offices of friendship; and a Scandinavian king had cheerfully abdicated his savage greatness, that he might pass the remainder of his days in the o and polished court of Ravenna.(6) Many vestiges, which cannot be ascribed to the arts of popular vanity, attest the ancient residence of the Goths in the countries beyond the Baltic. From the time of the geographer Ptolemy; the southern part of Sweden seems to have continued in the

ssion of the less o remnant of the nation, and a large territo

is even at present divided into East and West Gothland. During the middle ages (from the ninth to the twelfth century) while Christianity was advancing with a slow progress into the north, the Goths and the Swedes composed two distinct and sometimes hostile members of the same ...”.” he latter of these two names has prevailed without extinguishing the former. The Swedes, who might well be satisfied with their own fame in arms, have in every age claimed the kindred glory of the Goths. In a moment of discontent against the court of Rome, Charles the Twelfth insinuated, that his victorious troops were not degenerated from their brave ancestors, who had already subdued the mistress of the world.(8)

Till the end of the eleventh century, a celebrated temple subsisted at Upsal, the most considerable town of the Swedes and Goths. It was enriched with the gold which the Scandinavians had acquired in their piratical adventures, and sanctified by the uncouth representations of the three principal deities, the god of war, the goddess of generation, and the god of thunder. In the general festival, that was solemnized every ninth year, nine animals of .*.*.*. (without excepting the human) were sacrificed, and their bleedj ies suspended in the sacred grove adjacent to the "...} The only traces that now subsist of this barbaric superstition are contained in the Edda, a system of mythology, compiled in Iceland about the thirteenth century, and studied, by the .#of Denmark and Sweden, as the most valuable remains of their ancient traditions. Notwithstanding the mysterious obscurity of the Edda, we can easily distinguish two persons confounded under the name of Odin ; the god of war, and the great legislator of Scandinavia. The latter, the Mahomet of the north, instituted a religion adapted to the climate and to the people. Numerous tribes on either #. of the Baltic were subdued by the invincible valour of Odin, by his persuasive eloquence, and by the fame which he acquired, of a most skilful magician. The faith that he had propagated during a long and prosperous life, he confirmed by a voluntary death. Apprehensive of the ignominious approach of disease and infirmity, he resolved to expire as became a warrior. In a solemn assembly of the Swedes and Goths, he wounded himself in nine mortal places, hastening away (as he asserted with his dying voice) to prepare the feast of heroes in the palace of the god of war.(10) he native and proper habitation of Qdin is distinguished by the appellation of As-gard. The happy resemblance of that name with As-burgh, or *..." 1) words of a similar signification, has given rise to an historical system of so pleasing a contexture, that we could almost wish to persuade ourselves of its #." is supposed that Odin was the chief of a tribe of barbarians which dwelt on the banks of the lake Maeotis, till the fall of Mithridates, and the arms of Pompey menaced the north with servitude. That Odin, yielding with indignant fury to a power which he was unable to resist, conducted his tribe from the frontiers of the Asiatic Sarmatia into Sweden, with the great design of forming, in that inaccessible retreat of freedom, a religion ..". people, which, in some remote age, might be subservient to his immortal revenge; when his invincible Goths, armed with martial fanaticism, should issue in numerous swarms from the neighbourhood of the Polar circle, to chastise the oppressors of mankind.(12) f so many successive generations of Goths were capable of preserving a faint tradition of their Scandinavian origin, we must not expect, from such unlettered barbarians, any distinct account of the time and circumstances of their emigration. 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,(13) 2nd the distance is little more than one hundred miles from Carlscroon 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,(15) the Goths were established towa the mouth of the Vistula, and in that fertile province where the commercial cities of Thorn, Elbing, Koningsberg, and Dantzick, were long afterward

* (3) Zosimus, l. i.p. 20. Zonaras, l. xii. p. 624, Edit. Louvre. (4) See the prefaces of Cassiodorus and Jornandes: it is surprising that the latter should be omitted in the excellent edition published by Grotius, of the Gothic writers. (5) On the authority of Ablavius, Jornandes quotes some old Gothic chronicles in verse. De Reb. Geticis, c. 4. (‘) Jornandes, c. 3. (7) See in the Prolegomena of Grotius some large extracts from Adam of Bremen, and Saxo Grammaticus. The former wrote in the year 1077, the latter flourished about the year 1200. (8) Voltaire, Histoire de Charles XII. l. iii. When the Austrians desired the aid of the Court of Rome against Gustavus Adolphus, they always represented that conqueror as the lineal successor on Alaric. Harte's History of Gustavus, vol. ii. p. #.

(9) See Adam of Bremen in Grotii Prolegomenis, p. 104. The temple of Upsal was destroyed by Ingo, king of Sweden, who began his reign in the year 1075, and about fourscore years afterward a Christian cathedral was erected on its ruins. See Dalm's History of Sweden, in the Bibliothèque Raisonnée. (10) Mallet Introduction à l’Histoire du Dannemare. (11) Mallet, c. iv. p. 55, has collected from Strabo, Pliny, Ptolemy, and Stephanus Byzantinus, the vestiges of such a city and people. (12) This wonderful expedition of Odin, which, by deducing the enmity of the Goths and Romans from so memorable a cause, might supply the noble ground-work of an Epic poem, but cannot safely be received as authentic history. According to the obvious sense of the Edda, and the interpretation of the most skilful critics, As-gard, instead of denoting a real city of the Asiatic Sarmatia, is the fictitious appellation of the mystic abode of the gods, the Olympus of Scandinavia: from whence the prophet was supposed to descend, when he announced his new religion to the Gothic nations, who were already seated in the southern parts of Sweden.f (13) Tacit. Germania, c. 44. (14) Tacit. Annal. ii. 62. If we could yield a firm assent to the navigations of Pytheas of Marseilleo we must allow that the Goths had passed the Baltic at least three hundred years before Christ. (15) Ptolemy, l. ii.

« ForrigeFortsett »