Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

alienating their lands was ultimately designed for the benefit of the people, whose devotion would have been taxed to reo the dilapidations of the church.” Italy was protected the arms of its conqueror; and its frontiers were respected by the Barbarians of Gaul and Germany, who had so long insulted the feeble race of Theodosius. Odoacer passed the Adriatic, to chastise the assassins of the emperor Nepos, and to acquire the maritime province of Dalmatia. He pool the Alps, to rescue the remains of Noricum from Fava, or Feletheus, king of the Rugians, who held his residence beyond the Danube. The king was vanquished in battle, and led away prisoner; a numerous colony of captives and subjects was transplanted into Italy; and Rome, after a long period of defeat and disgrace, might claim the triumph of her Barbarian master.” Notwithstanding the prudence and success of Odoacer, his kingdom exhibited the sad prospect of misery and desolation. Since the age of Tiberius, the decay of agriculture had been felt in Italy; and it was a just subject of complaint, that the life of the Roman people depended on the accidents of the winds and waves.” In the division and the decline of the empire, the tributary harvests of Egypt and Africa were withdrawn; the numbers of the inhabitants continually diminished with the means of subsistence; and the country was exhausted by the irretrievable losses of war, famine,” and pestilence. St. Ambrose has deplored the ruin of a populous district, which had been once adorned with the flourishing cities of Bologna, Modena, Regium and Placentia.” Pope Gelasius was a subject of Odoacer; and he affirms, with strong exaggeration, that in AEmilia, Tuscany, and the adjacent provinces, the human species was almost extirpated.* The plebeians of Rome, who were fed by the

130 See Baronius, Annal. Eccles. A. D. 483, No. 10-15. Sixteen years afterwards the irregular proceedings of Basilius were condemned by Pope Symmachus in a IRoman synod. 137 The wars of Odoacer are concisely mentioned by Paul the Deacon (de Gest. Langobard. l. i. c. 19, p. 757, edit. Grot.), and in the two Chronicle3 of Cassiodorus and Cuspinian. The life of St. Severinus by Eugippius, which the count de I3 uat (IIist. des Peuples, &c., tom. viii. c. 1, 4, 8, 9) has diligently studied, illustrates the ruin of Noricum and the Bavarian antiquities. 133 Tacit. Annal. iii. 53. The IRecherches sur l’Administration des Terres chez les IRomains (pp. 351-361) clearly state the progress of interial decay. ** A famine, which afflicted Italy at the time of the irruption of Odoacer, king of the Heruli, is eloquently described, in prose and verse, by a French poet (Les Mois, tom. ii. pp. 171, 2-6, edit, in 12::io). I am ignorant from whence he derives . his information; but I aim well assured that he relates some facts incompatible with the truth of history. * See, the xxxixth epistle of St. Ambrose, as it is quoted by Muratori, sopra le Antichitl Italiane, tom. i. Dissert. xxi. p. 354. * Aomilia, Tuscia, ceteraeque provincia in quibus hominum prope nullus ex*...s oasius, Lpist. ad Andromachum, ap. Baronium, Annal Eccles. A. D. • NO.

hand of their master, perished or disappeared as soon as his liberality was suppressed; the decline of the arts reduced the industrious mechanic to idleness and want; and the senators, who might support with patience the ruin of their country, bewailed their private loss of wealth and luxury.* One third of those ample estates, to which the ruin of Italy is originally imputed,” was extorted for the use of the conquerors. Injuries were aggravated by insults: the sense of actual sufferings was imbittered by the fear of more dreadful evils; and as new lands were allotted to new swarms of Barbarians, each senator was apprehensive lest the arbitrary surveyors should approach his favorite villa, or his most profitable farm. The least unfortunate were those who submitted without a murmur to the power which it was impossible to resist. Since they desired to live, they owed some gratitude to the tyrant who had spared their lives; and since he was the absolute master of their fortunes, the portion which he left must be accepted as his pure and voluntary gift.” The distress of Italy f was mitigated by the prudence and humanity of Odoacer, who had bound himself, as the price of his elevation, to satisfy the demands of a licentious and turbulent multitude. The kings of the Barbarians were frequently resisted, deposed, or murdered, by their native subjects, and the various bands of Italian mercenaries, who associated under the standard of an elective general, claimed a larger privilege of freedom and rapine. A monarchy destitute of national union, and hered. itary right, hastened to its dissolution. After a reign of fourteen years, Odoacer was oppressed by the superior genius of Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths; a hero alike excellent in the arts of war and of government, who restored an age of peace and prospsity, and whose name still excites and deserves the attention of mankind.

i. Verumque confitentibus, latifundia perdidere Italiam. Plin. Hist. Natur. xviii. 7.

143 Such are the topics of consolation, or rather of patience, which Cicero (ad Familiares, lib. ix. Epist. 17) suggests to his friend Papirius Pastus, under the military despotism of Caesar. The argument, however, of “vivere pulcherrimum duxi,” is more forcibly addressed to a Itoman philosopher, who possessed the free alternative of life or death.

* Denima supposes that the Barbarians were compelled by necessity to turn their attention to agriculture. Italy, ei, her imperfectly cultivated, or not at all, §: e indolent or ruined proprietors, not only could not furnish the imposts, on which the pay of the soldiery depended, but not even a certain supply of the necessaries of life. The neighboring countries were now occupied by warlike nations; the supplies of corn from Africa were cut off; foreign commerce nearly destroyed; they could not look for supplies beyond the limits of Italy, throughout which the agriculture had been long in a state of progressive but rapid depression. (Denina, Rev. d’Italia. l. v. c. 1.)—M.

t Compare, on the desolation , and change of property in Italy, Manso, Geschichte des Ost-Gothischen Reiches, Part ii. p. 73, et seq.-M.

CHAPTER XXXVII.

oRIGIN, PROGRESS, AND EFFECTS OF THE MONASTIC LIFE.— CONVERSION OF THE BARBARIANS TO CHRISTIANITY AND AIRIANISM.–PERSECUTION OF THE VANDALS IN AFRICA.— YEXTINCTION OF ARIANISM AMONG THE J3ARBARIANS,

THE indissoluble connection of civil and ecclesiastical affairs has compelled, and encouraged, me to relate the progress, the persecutions, the establishment, the divisions, the final triumph, and the gradual corruption, of Christianity. I have purposely delayed the consideration of two religious events, interesting in the study of human nature, and important in the decline and fall of the Roman empire. I. The institution of the monastic life;" and, II. The conversion of the northern Barbarians. I. Prosperity and peace introduced the distinction of the vulgar and the Ascetic Christians.” The loose and imper. fect practice of religion satisfied the conscience of the multitude. The prince or magistrate, the soldier or merchant, reconciled their fervent zeal, and implicit faith, with the exercise of their profession, the pursuit of their interest, and the indulgence of their passions; but the Ascetics, who obeyed and abused the rigid precepts of the gospel, were inspired by the savage enthusiasm which represents man as a criminal, and God as a orant. They seriously renounced the business, and the pleasures, of the age; abjured the use of wine, of flesh, and of marriage; chastised their body, mortified their affections, and embraced a life of misery, as the price of eternal happiness. In the reign of Constantine, the Ascetics fled from a profane and degenerate world, to perpetual solitude, or religious society. Like the first 1 The origin of the monastic institution has been laboriously discussed by Thomassin (13iscipline de l'Eglise, tom, i. pp. 1119-1420) and Helyot (Hist. des Ordres Monastiques, tom. i. pp. 1-66). These authors are very learned and toler. ably honest, and their disserence of opinion shows the subject in its full extent. Yet the cautious Protestant, who distrusts any popish guides, may consult the seventh book of Bingham's Christian Antiquities. 2 See Euseb., Demonstrat. Evangel. (l. i. pp. 20, 21, edit. Graec. Itob, Stephant, Paris, 1545). In his Ecclesiastical IIistory, published twelve years after the

Demonstration, Eusebius (l. ii. c. 17) a serts the Christianity of the Therapeutae; out he appears ignorant that a similar institution was actually revived in Egypt Christians of Jerusalem,”* they resigned the use, or the property, of their temporal possessions; established regular communities of the same sex, and a similar disposition ; and assumed the names of Hermits, Monks, and Anachorets, expressive of their lonely retreat in a natural or artificial desert. o soon acquired the respect of the world, which they despised; and the loudest applause was bestowed on this DIVINE PHILosophy,” which surpassed, without the aid of science or reason, the laborious virtues of the Grecian schools. The monks might indeed contend with the Stoics, in the contempt of fortune, of pain and of death: the Py. thagorean silence and submission were revived in their servile discipline; and they disdained, as o as the Cynics themselves, all the forms and decencies of civil society. But the votaries of this Divine Philosophy aspired to imitate a purer and more perfect model. They trod in the footsteps of the prophets, who had retired to the desert;" and they restored the devout and contemplative life, which had been instituted by the Essenians, in Palestine and Egypt. The philosophic eye of Pliny had surveyed with astonishment a solitary people, who dwelt among the palmtrees near the Dead Sea; who subsisted without money, who were propagated without women; and who derived from the disgust and repentance of mankind a perpetual supply of voluntary associates." Egypt, the fruitful parent of superstition, afforded the * Cassian (Collat. xviii. 5), claims this origin for the institution of Coenobites, which gradually decayed till it was restored by Antony and his disciples. *'Q'beXtutoratov Yáp to xpilua es avjpatrovs eagovo a trapo toeovil towavt.) buxoa obta. These are the expressive words of Sozomen, who copiously and agreeably describes (l. i. e. 12, 13, 14) the origin and progress of this 1.lonkish philosophy (see Suicer Thesau. Eccles. tom. ii. p. 1441). Some modern writers, {{plin: (tom. iv. p, 448, Mamuduct ad Philosoph. Stoic, iii. 13) and La Mothe le Vayer (tom. ix. de la Vertu des Payens, pp. 228–262), have compared the Carmelites to the Pythae goreans, and the Cynics to the Capucins. * The Carmelites derive their pedigree, in regular succession, from the orophet Elijah (see the Theses of Beziers, A. D. 1682, in Bayle's Nouvelles de la epublique des Lettres, CEuvres, tom. i. p. 82, &c., and the prolix irony of the Ordres Monastiques, an anonymous work, tom. i. pp. 1-433, Berlin, 1751). Rome and the inquisition of Spain, silenced the profane criticism of the Jesuits of Flanders §o. Hist, des, Ordres Monastiques, tom. i. pp. 282-30), and the statue of †† the Carmelite, has been erected in the church of St. Peter (Voyages of u P. Labat, tom. iii. p. 87). * Plin. Hist. Natur. v. 15, Gens sola, et in toto orbe praeter ceteras mira, sino u11á feminā, omni venere abdicatá, sine pecuniã, socia palmarum. Ita per secu. lorum millia (incredibile dictu) gens asterna est in quâ memo nascitur. Tam foecunda illis aliorum vitae poenitentia est. He places them just beyond the nox. ious influence of the lake, and names Engaddi and Massada as the nearest towns,

The Laura; and monastery of St. Sabas, could not be far distant from this place, See Roland. Palestin., tom. i. p. 295; tom. ii. pp. 763, 874, 880, 800.

* It has before been shown that the first Christian community was not strictly toenobitjc. See vol. ii.-M. - - - - -

first example of the monastic life. Antony, an illiterate * youth of the lower parts of Thebais, distributed his patrimony,” deserted his family and native home, and executed his monastic penance with original and intrepid fanaticism. After a long and painful novitiate, among the tombs, and in a ruined tower, he boldly advanced into the desert three days’ journey to the eastward of the Nile; discovered a lonely spot, which possessed the advantages of shade and water, and sixed his last residence on Mount Colzim, near the Red Sea; where an ancient monastery still preserves the name and memory of the saint.” The curious devotion of the Christians pursued him to the desert; and when he was obliged to appear at Alexandria, in the face of mankind, he supported his fame with discretion and dignity. He enjoyed the friendship of Athanasius, whose doctrine he approved ; and the Egyptian peasant respectfully declined a respectful invitation from the emperor Constantine. The venerable patriarch (for Antony attained the age of one hundred and five years) beheld the numerous progeny which had been formed by his example and his lessons. The prolific colonies of monks multiplied with rapid increase on the sands of Libya, upon the rocks of Thebais, and in the cities of the Nile. To the south of Alexandria, the mountain, and adjacent desert, of Nitria, were peopled by five thousand anachorets; and the traveller may still investigate the ruins of fifty monasteries, which were planted in that barren soil by the disciples of Antony.” In the Upper Thebais, the vacant island of Tabenne *was occupied by Pachomius and

7 See Athanas. Op. tom. ii. pp. 450–505, and the Vit. Patrum, pp. 26–74, with Rosweyde's Annotations. The former is the Greek original; thé latter, a very ancient Latin version by Evagrius, the friend of St. Jerom. * Tpéuuata uèv uáðeuv, oùx mweaxero. Athanas... tom. ii. in Vit. St. Anton. p. 452, and the assertion of his total ignorance has been received by many of the ancients and moderns. But Tillemont (Mém. Eccles. tom, vii. p. 6GC) shows, by some probable arguments, that Antony could read and write in the Coptic, his native tongue; and that he was only a stranger to the Greek letters. The philosopher Synesius (p. 51) acknowledges that the natural genius of Antony did not require the aid of learning. * Arurae autem erant ei trecentae uberes, et valde optimae (Vit. Patr. 1. v. p. 36). lf the Arura be a square measure of a hundred Egyptian cubits (Rosweyde, Onomasticon ad Vit. Patrum, pp. 1014–1015), and the Egyptian cubit of all ages be equal to twenty-two English inches (Greaves, vol. i. p. 233), the arura will consist of about three quarters of an English acre. 10 The description of the monastery is given by Jerom (tom. i. pp. 248, 249, in Vit. Hilarion) and the P. Sicard. (Missions du Levant, tom. v. pp. 122-200). Their accounts cannot always be reconciled ; the father painted from his fancy, and the Jesuit from his experience. * Jerom, tom. i. p. 146, al Eustochium. Hist. Lausiac. c. 7, in Vit. Patrum, §. 712. The P. Sicard (Missions du Levant, tom. ii. pp. 22–79) visited and has escribed this desert, which now contains four monasteries, and twenty or thirty monks. See D'Anville, Description de l'Egypte, p. 74. * Tabenne is a small island in the Nile, in the diocese of Tentyra or Dendera, between the modern town of Girge and the ruins of ancient Thébes (D'Anville,

« ForrigeFortsett »