« ForrigeFortsett »
sumptuous usurper, whom she suspected as the assassin of her deceased husband. These suspicions were soon justified by the indiscreet confession of Maximus himself; and he wantonly provoked the hatred of his reluctant bride, who was still conscious that she was descended from a line of emperors. From the East, however, Eudoxia could not hope to obtain any effectual assistance; her father and her aunt Pulcheria were dead; her mother languished at Jerusalem in disgrace and exile; and the sceptre of Constantinople was in the hands of a stranger. She directed her eyes towards Carthage; secretly implored the aid of the king of the Vandals; and persuaded Genseric to improve the fair opportunity of disguising his rapacious designs by the specious names of honor, justice, and compassion.” Whatever abilities Maximus might have shown in a subordinate station, he was found incapable of administering an empire; and though he might easily have been informed of the naval preparations which were made on the opposite shores of Africa, he expected with supine indifference the approach of the enemy, without adopting any measures of defence, of negotiation, or of a timely retreat. When the Vandals disembarked at the mouth of the Tiber, the emperor was suddenly roused from his lethargy by the clamors of a trembling and exasperated multitude. The only hope which presented itself to his astonished mind was that of a precipitate flight, and he exhorted the senators to imitate the example of their prince. But no sooner did Maximus appear in the streets, than he was assaulted by a shower of stones; a Roman, or a Burgundian soldier, claimed the honor of the first wound; his mangled body was ignominiously cast into the Tiber; the Roman people rejoiced in the punishment which they had inflicted on the author of the public calamities; and the domestics of Eudoxia signalized their zeal in the service of their mistress.” On the third day after the tumult, Genseric boldly advanced from the port of Ostia to the gates of the defenceless * Notwithstanding the evidence of Procopius, Evagrius, Idatius, Marcellinus, &c., the learned Muratori (Annali d’Italia, tom. iv. p. 249) doubts the reality of this invitation, and observes, with great truth, “Noli si puð dir quanto sia facile il popolo a sognare e spacciar voci false.” But his argument, from the interval city. Instead of a sally of the Roman youth, there issued from the gates an unarmed and venerable procession of the bishop at the head of his clergy." The fearless spirit of Leo, his authority and eloquence, again mitigated the fierceness of a Barbarian conqueror; the king of the Vandals romised to spare the unresisting multitude, to protect the uildings from fire, and to exempt the captives from torture; and although such orders were neither seriously given, nor strictly obeyed, the mediation of Leo was glorious to himself, and in some degree beneficial to his country. But IRome and its inhabitants were delivered to the licentiousmess of the Vandals and Moors, whose blind passions revenged the injuries of Carthage. The pillage slasted fourteen days and nights; and all that yet remained of public or private wealth, of sacred or profane treasure, was diligently transported to the vessels of Genseric. Among the spoils, the splendid relics of two temples, or rather of two religions, exhibited a memorable example of the vicissitudes of human and divine things. Since the abolition of Paganism, the Capitol had been violated and abandoned; yet the statues of the gods and heroes were still respected, and the curious roof of gilt bronze was reserved for the rapacious hands of Genseric." The holy instruments of the Jewish worship,” the gold table, and the gold candlestick with seven branches, originally framed according to the particular instructions of God himself, and which were placed in the sanctuary of his temple, had been ostentatiously displayed to the Roman people in the triumph of Titus. They were afterwards deposited in the temple of Peace; and at the end of four hundred years, the spoils of Jerusalem were transferred from Rome to Carthage, by a Barbarian who derived his origin from the shores of the Baltic. These ancient monuments might attract the notice of curiosity, as well as of avarice. ISut the Christian churches, enriched * The apparent success of Pope Leo may be justified by Prosper, and the His; toria Misceslan.; but the improbable motion of Baronius (A.JD. 455, No. 13) that Genseric spared the three apostolical churches, is not countenanced even by the doubtful testimony of the Liber 1’ontificalis. * The profusion of Cavulus, the first who gilt the roof of the Capitol, was not universally approved (Plin. Hist. Natur. xxxiii. 18); but it was far exceeded by the emperor’s, and the external gilding of the temple cost 1)onitian 12,000 talents (2,400,000l.). The expressions of Claudian and Rutilius (luce metal/l (emutu + + " fastigia astris, and comfundum taue raqos de/ulma micantia visus(manifestly prove that this splendid covering was not removed either by the Ghristians or the Goths (sce Donatus, IRoma Antiqua, l. ii. c. 6, p. 125). It should seem that the roof of the Capitol was decorated with gilt statues, and chariots drawn by four horses. & The curious reader may consult the learned and accurate treatise of Hadrian
of time and place, is extremely feeble. The figs which grew hear Carthage were produced to the senate of Rome on the third day.
& Infidoque tibi Burgundio ductu Extorquet trepidas mactandi lorincipis iras. Sidon. in Panegyr. Avit. 442.
A remarkable line, which insinuates that Rome and Maximus were betrayed by their Burgulidian mercenaries.
and adorned by the prevailing superstition of the times afforded more plentiful materials for sacrilege; and the pious liberality of Pope Leo, who melted six silver vases, the gift of Constantine, each of a hundred pounds weight, is an evidence of the damage which he attempted to repair. In the forty-five years that had elapsed since the Gothic invasion, the pomp and luxury of loome were in some measure restored; and it was difficult either to escape, or to satisfy, the avarice of a conqueror, who possessed leisure to collect, and ships to transport, the wealth of the capital. The Imperial ornaments of the palace, the magnificent furniture and wardrobe, the sideboards of massy plate, were accumulated with djsorderly rapine; the gold and silver amounted to several thousand talents; yet even the brass and copper were laboriously removed. Eudoxia herself, who advanced to meet her friend and deliverer, soon bewailed the imprudence of her own conduct. She was rudely stripped of her jewels; and the unfortunate empress, with her two daughters, the only surviving remains of the great Theodosius, was compelled, as a captive, to follow the haughty Vandal; who immediately hoisted sail, and returned with a prosperous navigation to the port of Carthage.” Many thousand Romans of both sexes, chosen for some useful or agreeable qualifications, reluctantly embarked on board the fleet of Genseric; and their distress was aggravated by the unfeeling Barbarians, who, in the division of the booty, separated the wives from their husbands, and the children from their parents. The charity of Deogratias, bishop of Carthage,” was their only consolation and support. He generously sold the gold and silver plate of the church to purchase the freedom of some, to alleviate the slavery of others, and to assist the wants and infirmities of a captive multitude, whose health was impaired by the hardships which they had suffered in their passage from Italy to Africa. By his order, two spacious churches were converted into hospitals; the sick were distributed in convenient beds, and liberally supplied with food and medicines; and the aged prelate repeated his visits both in the day and night, with an assiduity that surpassed his strength, and a tender sympathy which enhanced the value of his services. Compare this scene with the field of Cannae; and judge between Hannibal and the successor of St. Cyprian.” The deaths of Aëtius and Valentinian had relaxed the ties which held the Barbarians of Gaul in peace and subordination. The sea-coast was infested by the Saxons; the Alemanni and the Franks advanced from the Rhine to the Seine ; and the ambition of the Goths seemed to meditate more extensive and permanent conquests. The emperor Maximus relieved himself, by a judicious choice, from the weight of these distant cares; he silenced the solicitations of his friends, listened to the voice of fame, and promoted a stranger to the general command of the forces in Gaul. Avitus,” the stranger, whose merit was so nobly rewarded, descended from a wealthy and honorable family in the diocese of Auvergne. The convulsions of the times urged him to embrace, with the same ardor, the civil and militar professions: and the indefatigable youth blended the studies of literature and jurisprudence with the exercise of arms and hunting. Thirty years of his life were laudably spent in the public service; he alternately displayed his talents in war and negotiation; and the soldier of Aëtius, after executing the most important embassies, was raised to the station of Praetorian praefect of Gaul. Either the merit of Avitus excited envy, or his moderation was desirous of repose, since he calmly retired to an estate, which he possessed in the neighborhood of Clermont. A copious stream, issuing from the mountain, and falling headlong in many a loud and foaming cascade, discharged its waters into a lake about two miles in length, and the villa was pleasantly seated on the margin of the lake. The baths, the porticos, the summer and winter apartments, were adapted to the purposes of luxury and use; and the adjacent country afforded the various prospects of woods, pastures, and meadows.” In this retreat, where Avitus amused his leisure with books, rural sports, the practice of husbandry, and the society of lis friends,” he received the Imperial diploma, which consti. tuted him master-general of the cavalry and infantry of Gaul. He assumed the military command ; the Barbarians suspended their fury; and whatever means he might employ, whatever concessions he might be forced to make, the people enjoyed the benefits of actual tranquillity. But the fate of Gaul depended on the Visigoths; and the Roman general, less attentive to his dignity than to the public interest, did not disdain to visit Toulouse in the character of an ambassador. He was received with courteous hospitality by Theodoric, the king of the Goths; but while Avitus laid the foundations of a solid alliance with that powerful nation, he was astonished by the intelligence that the emperor Maximus was slain, and that Rome had been pillaged by the Vandals. A vacant throne, which he might ascend without guilt or danger, tempted his ambition; * and the Visigoths were easily persuaded to support his claim by their irresistible suffrage. They loved the person of Avitus; they respected his virtues; and they were not insensible of the advantage, as well as honor, of giving an emperor to the West. The season was now approaching, in which the annual assembly of the seven provinces was held at Arles; their deliberations might perhaps be influenced by the presence of Theodoric and his martial brothers; but their choice would naturally incline to the most illustrious of their countrymen. Avitus, after a decent resistance, accepted the Imperial diadem from the representatives of Gaul; and his election was ratified by the acclamations of the Barbarians and provincials. The formal consent of Marcian, emperor of the East, was solicited and obtained : but the senate, Rome, and Italy, though humbled by their recent calamities, submitted with a secret murmur to the presumption of the Gallic usurper. Theodoric, to whom Avitus was indebted for the purple,
° The vessel which transported the relics of the Capitol was the Qnly one of the whole fleet that suffered shipwreck. If a bigoted sophist, a Pagan bigot, had mentioned the accident, he might have rejoiced, that this cargo of sacrilege was lost in the sea.
10 See Victor Vitensis, de Persecut. Vandal. l. i. c. 8, pp. 11, 12, edit. Ruinart. TYeogratius governed the church of Carthage only three years. if he had not been privately buried, his corpse would have been torn piecemeal by the mad devotion of the people. in The general evidence for the death of Maximus, and the sack of Rome by the Vandals, is comprised in Sidonius (Panegyr. Avit. 441-450), Procopius (de Bell. Vandal. l. i. c. 4, 5, pp. 188, 189, and l. ii. c. 9, p. 255), **i. is (l. ii. c. 7), Jormandes (de Reb. Geticis, c. 45, p. 677), and the Chronicles of Idatius, Prosper, Marcellinus, and Theophanes, oil. the proper year.
* The private life and elevation of Avitus must be deduced, with becoming suspicion, from the panegyric pronounced by Sidonius Apollinaris, his subject, and his son-in-law.
* After the example of the younger Pliny, Sidonius (l. ii. c.2) has labored the florid, prolix, and obscure description of his villa, which bore the name (Avitacum), and had been the property of Avitus. The precise situation is not ascer. tained. Consult, however, the notes of Savaron and Sirmond.
had acquired the Gothic sceptre by the murder of his elder
14 Sidonius (l. ii. epist. 9) has described the country life of the Gallic nobles, in a visit which he made to his friends, whose estates were in the neighborhood of Nismes. The morning hours were spent in the sphaeristerium, or tennis-court; or in the library, which was furnished with Latin authors, profane and religious; the former for the men, the latter for the ladies. The table was twice served, at dinner and supper, with hot meat (boiled and roast) and wine. Durin the intermediate time, the company slept, took the air on lion seback, and used the warm bath.
15 Seventy lines of panegyric (505–575) which describe the importunity of '1'heo
doric and of Gaul, struggling to overcome the modest reluctance of Avitus, are olown away by three words of an honest historian. Romanum ambisset Imperium
(Greg. Turon. l. ii. c. 11, in tom. ii. p. 168). -