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proportion of the taxes extorted from the people was detained and intercepted in their passage, through the foulest channels, to the treasury of Constantinople. The revenue was dissipated by Theodosius and his favorites in wasteful and profuse luxury ; which was disguised by the names of Imperial magnificence, or Christian charity. The immediate supplies had been exhausted by the unforeseen necessity of military preparations. A personal contribution, rigorously, but capriciously, imposed on the members of the senatorian order, was the only expedient that could disarm, without loss of time, the impatient avarice of Attila; and the poverty of the nobles compelled them to adopt the scandalous resource of exposing to public auction the jewels of their wives, and the hereditary ornaments of their palaces.” III. The king of the Huns appears to have established, as a principle of national jurisprudence, that he could never lose the property, which he had once acquired, in the persons who had yielded either a voluntary, or reluctant, submission to his authority. From this principle he concluded, and the conclusions of Attila were irrevocable laws, that the Huns, who had been taken prisoners in war, should be released without delay, and without ransom ; that every Roman captive, who had presumed to escape, should purchase his right to freedom at the price of twelve pieces of gold; and that all the Barbarians, who had deserted the standard of Attila, should be restored, without any promise or stipulation of pardon. In the execution of this cruel and ignominious treaty, the Imperial officers were forced to massacre several loyal and noble deserters, who refused to devote themselves to certain death ; and the Romans forfeited all reasonable claims to the friendship of any Scythian people, by this public confession, that they were destitute either of faith, or power, to protect the suppliant, who had embraced the throne of Theodosius.” The firmness of a single town, so obscure, that, except on this occasion, it has never been mentioned by any historian or geographer, exposed the disgrace of the emperor * According to the description, or rather invective, of Chrysostom, an auction of Byzantine luxury must have been very productive. Every wealthy house ossessed a senicircular table of massy silver, such as two men could scarcely and empire. Azimus, or Azimuntium, a small city of Thrace on the Illyrian borders,” had been distinguished by the martial spirit of its youth, the skill and reputation of the leaders whom they had chosen, and their daring exploits against the innumerable host of the Barbarians. Instead of tamely expecting their approach, the Azimuntines attacked, in frequent and successful sallies, the troops of the Huns, who gradually declined the dangerous neighborhood, rescued from their hands the spoil and the captives, and recruited their domestic force by the voluntary association of fugitives and deserters. After the conclusion of the treaty, Attila still menaced the empire with implacable war, unless the Azimuntines. were persuaded, or compelled, to comply with the conditions which their sovereign had accepted. The ministers of Theodosius confessed with shame, and with truth, that they no longer possessed any authority over a society of men, who so bravely asserted their natural independence; and the king of the Huns condescended to negotiate an equal exchange with the citizens of Azimus. The demanded the restitution of some shepherds, who, with their cattle, had been accidentally surprised. A strict, though fruitless, inquiry was allowed: but the Huns were obliged to swear, that they did not detain any prisoners belonging to the city, before they could recover two surviving countrymen, whom the Azimuntines had reservel as pledges for the safety of their lost companions. Attila, on his side, was satisfied, and deceived, by their solemn asseveration, that the rest of the captives had been put to the sword; and that it was their constant practice, immediately to dismiss the Romans and the deserters, who had obtained the security of the public faith. This prudent and officious dissimulation may be condemned, or excused, by the casuists, as they incline to the rigid decree of St. Augustin, or to the milder sentiment of St. Jerom and St. Chrysostom ; but every soldier, every statesman, must acknowledge, that, if the race of the Azimuntines had been encouraged and multiplied, the Barbarians would have ceased to trample on the majesty of the empire.”
ii Y. of solid gold of the weight of forty pounds, cups, dishes, of the same Imetal, &c. * The articles of the treaty, expressed without much order or precision, may be found in Priscus (pp. 34, 35, 36, 37, 53, &c.) Count Marcellinus dispenses some comfort, by observing, 1. That Attila himself solicited the peace and presents, Which, he had formerly refused ; and, 2dly, That, about the same time, the am. bassadors of India presented a time large taine tiger to the emperor Theodosius. * Priscus, pp. 35, 36. Among the hundred and eighty-two forts, or castles, of Thrace, enumerated by Procopius (the Edificiis, l. iv. c. xi tom. ii. p. 92, edit. Paris), there is one of the name of Esimontou, whose position is doubtfully marked, in the neighborhood of Anchialus and the Euxine Sea. The name and wails of Azimumtium might subsist till the reign of Justinian ; but the race of its brave defenders had been carefully extirpated by the jealousy of the Roman princes.
It would have been strange, indeed, if Theodosius had purchased, by the loss of honor, a secure and solid tranguillity, or if his tameness had not invited the repetition of injuries. The Byzantine court was insulted by five or six successive embassies;” and the ministers of Attila were uniformly instructed to press the tardy or imperfect execution of the last treaty; to produce the names of fugitives and deserters, who were still protected by the empire; and 'to declare, with seeming moderation, that, unless their sovereign obtained complete and immediate satisfaction, it would be impossible for him, were it even his wish, to check the resentment of his warlike tribes. Besides the motives of pride and interest, which might prompt the king of the Huns to continue this train of negotiation, he was influenced by the less honorable view of enriching his favorites at the expense of his enemies. The Imperial treasury was exhausted, to procure the friendly offices of the ambassadors and their principal attendants, whose favorable report might conduce to the maintenance of peace. The Barbarian monarch was flattered by the liberal reception of his ministers; he computed, with pleasure, the value and splendor of their gifts, rigorously exacted the performance of every promise which would contribute to their private emolument, and treated as an important business of state the marriage of his secretary Constantius.” That Gallic adventurer, who was recommended by Aëtius to the king of the Huns, had engaged his service to the ministers of Constantinople, for the stipulated reward of a wealthy and noble wife; and the daughter of Count Saturninus was chosen to discharge the obligations of her country. The reluctance of the victim, some domestic troubles, and the unjust confiscation of her fortune, cooled the ardor of her interested lover; but he still demanded, in the name of Attila, an equivalent alliance; and, after many ambiguous delays and excuses, the Byzantime court was compelled to sacrifice to this insolent stranger ent expedients, to reconcile the seeming quarrel of the two apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, depends on the solution of an important question (Middleton's Works, vol. ii. pp. 5–10), which has been §. agitated by Catholic and Protestant divines, and even by lawyers and philosophers of every age. * Montesquieu (Considerations sur la Grandeur, &c., c. xix.) has delineated, with a bold and easy pencil, some of the most striking circumstances of the oride of Attila, and the disgrace of the Romans. He deserves the praise of having read the Fragments of Priscus, which have been too much disregarded, * See Priscus, pp. 69, 71, 72, &c. I would fain believe, that this adventurer was afterwards crucified by the order of Attila, on a suspicion of treasonable practices; but Priscus (p. 57) has too plainly distinguished two persons of the
Alanne of Constantius, who, from the similar events of their lives, might have been easily confounded.
the widow of Armatius, whose birth, opulence, and beauty, placed her in the most illustrious rank of the Roman matrons. For these importunate and oppressive embassies, Attila claimed a suitable return: he weighed, with suspicious pride, the character and station of the Imperial envoys; but he condescended to promise that he would advance as far as Sardica to receive any ministers who had been invested with the consular dignity. The council of Theodosius cluded this proposal, by representing the desolate and ruined condition of Sardica, and even ventured to insinuate that every officer of the army or household was qualified to treat with the most powerful princes of Scythia. Maximin,” a respectable courtier, whose abilities had been long exercised in civil and military employments, accepted, with reluctance, the troublesome, and perhaps dangerous, commission of reconciling the angry spirit of the king of the Huns. His friend, the historian Priscus,” embraced the opportunity of observing the Barbarian hero in the peaceful and domestic scenes of life: but the secret of the embassy, a fatal and guilty secret, was intrusted only to the interpreter Vigilius. The two last ambassadors of the Huns, Orestes, a noble subject of the Pannonian province, and Edecon, a valiant chieftain of the tribe of the Scyrri, returned at the same time from Constantinople to the royal camp. Their obscure names were afterwards illustrated by the extraordinary fortune and the contrast of their sons: the two servants of Attila became the fathers of the last Roman emperor of the West, and of the first Barbarian king of Italy.
The ambassadors, who were followed by a numerous train of men and horses, made their first halt at Sardica, at the distance of three hundred and fifty miles, or thirteen days’ journey, from Constantinople. As the remains of Sardica were still included within the limits of the empire, it was incumbent on the Romans to exercise the duties of hospitality. They provided, with the assistance of the provincials, a sufficient number of sheep and oxen, and invited the Huns to a splendid, or, at least, a plentiful supper. But the harmony of the entertainment was soon disturbed by mutual prejudice and indiscretion. The greatness of the emperor and the empire was warmly maintained by their ministers; the Huns, with equal ardor, asserted the superiority of their victorious monarch: the dispute was inflamed by the rash and unseasonable flattery of Vigilius, who passionately rejected the comparison of a mere mortal with the divine Theodosius; and it was with extreme difficulty that Maximin and Priscus were able to divert the conversation, or to soothe the angry minds, of the Barbarians. When they rose from the table, the Imperial ambassador presented Edecon and Orestes with rich gifts of silk robes and Indian pearls, which they thankfully accepted. Yet Orestes could not forbear insinuating that he had not always been treated with such respect and liberality; and the offensive distinction which was implied, between his civil office and the hereditary rank of his colleague, seems to have made Edecon a doubtful friend, and Orestes an irreconcilable enemy. After this entertainment, they travelled about one hundred miles from Sardica to Naissus. That flourishing city, which had given birth to the great Constantine, was levelled with the ground; the inhabitants were destroyed or dispersed; and the appearance of some sick persons, who were still permitted to exist among the ruins of the churches, served only to increase the horror of the prospect. The surface of the country was covered with the bones of the slain ; and the ambassadors, who directed their course to the north-west, were obliged to pass the hills of modern Servia, before they descended into the flat and marshy grounds which are terminated by the Danube. The Huns were masters of the great river : their navigation was performed in large canoes, hollowed out of the trunk of a single tree; the ministers of Theodosius, were safely landed on the opposite bank; and their Barbarian associates immediately hastened to the camp of Attila, which was equally prepared for the amusements of hunting or of war. No sooner had Maximin advanced about two miles” from the Danube, than he began to experience the fastidious insolence of the conqueror. He was * 70 stadia. Priscus, 178. –M.
* In the Persian treaty, concluded in the year 422, the wise and eloquent Maximim had been the assessor of Ardaburius (Socrates, 1. vii. c. 20). When Marcian ascended the throne, the office of Great Chamberlain was bestowed on Maximin, who is ranked, in the public edict, among the four principal ministers of state (Novell. ad Calc. Cod. Theod. p. 31). He executed a civil and military commission in the Eastern provinces; and his death was lamented by the Savages of AEthiopia, whose incursions he had repressed. See Priscus, pp. 40, 41.
* Priscus was a native of Panium in Thrace, and deserved, by his eloquence, an honorable place annong the sophists of the age. His Byzantine history, whicli related to his own times, was comprised in seven books. See Fabricius, Bibliot. Graec. tom. vi. pp. 235,236. Notwithstanding the charitable judgment of the critics, I suspect that Priscus was a Pagan.*
* * Niebuhr concurs in this opinion. Life of Priscus in the new edition of the Byzantine Historians.—M.