Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

A country possessed of so many valuable objects of exchange soon attracted the merchants of the world, whose beneficial traffic was encouraged and protected by the liberal spirit of Theodoric. The free intercourse of the provinces by land and water was restored and extended; the city gates were never shut either by day or by night; and the common saying, that a purse of gold might be safely left in the fields, was expressive of the conscious security of the inhabitants. A difference of religion is always pernicious, and often fatal, to the harmony of the prince and people: the Gothic conqueror had been educated in the profession of Arianism, and Italy was devoutly attached to the Nicene faith. But the persuasion of Theodoric was not infected by zeal; and he piously adhered to the heresy of his fathers, without condescending to balance the subtile arguments of theological metaphysics. Satisfied with the private toleration of his Arian sectaries, he justly conceived himself to be the guardian of the public worship, and his external reverence for a superstition which he despised, may have nourished in his mind the salutary indifference of a statesman or philosopher. The Catholics of his dominions acknowledged, perhaps with reluctance, the peace of the church; their clergy, according to the degrees of rank or merit, were honorably entertained in the palace of Theodoric ; he esteemed the living sanctity of Caesarius" and Epiphanius,” the orthodox bishops of Arles and Pavia; and presented a decent offering on the tomb of St. Peter, without any scrupulous inquiry into the creed of the apostle.” His favorite Goths, and even his mother, were permitted to retain or embrace the Athanasian faith, and his long reign could not afford the example of an Italian Catholic, who, either from choice or compulsion, had deviated into the religion of the conqueror.” The people, and the Barbarians themselves, were edified by the pomp. and order of religious worship; the magistrates were instructed to defend the just immunities of ecclesiastical persons and possessions; the bishops held their synods, the metropolitans exercised their jurisdiction, and the privileges of sanctuary were maintained or moderated according to the spirit of the Roman jurisprudence.” With the protection, Theodoric assumed the legal supremacy, of the church; and his firm administration restored or extended some useful prerogatives which had been neglected by the feeble emperors of the West. He was not ignorant of the dignity and importance of the Roman pontiff, to whom the venerable name of Pope was now appropriated. The peace or the revolt of Italy might depend on the character of a wealthy and popular bishop, who claimed such ample dominion both in heaven and earth; who had been declared in a numerous synod to be pure from all sin, and exempt from all judgment.” When the chair of St. Peter was disputed by Symmachus and Laurence, they appeared at his summons before the tribunal of an Arian monarch, and he confirmed the election of the most worthy or the most obsequious candidate. At the end of his life, in a moment of jealousy and resentment, he prevented the choice of the Romans, by nominating a pope in the palace of Ravenna. The danger and furious contests of a schism were mildly restrained, and the last decree of the senate was enacted to extinguish, if it were possible, the scandalous venality of the papal elections.” I have descanted with pleasure on the fortunate condition of Italy; but our fancy must not hastily conceive that the golden age of the poets, a race of men without vice or misery, was realized under the Gothic conquest. The fair prospect was sometimes overcast with clouds; the wisdom of Theodoric might be deceived, his power might be resisted, and the declining age of the monarch was sullied with popular hatred and patrician blood. In the first insolence of victory, he had been tempted to deprive the whole party of Odoacer of the civil and even the natural rights of society;” a tax unseasonably imposed after the calamities of war, would have crushed the rising agriculture of Liguria; a rigid prečmption of corn, which was intended for the public relief, must have aggravated the distress of Campania. These dangerous projects were defeated by the virtue and eloquence of Epiphanius and Boethius, who, in the presence of Theodoric himself, successfully pleaded the cause of the people; ” but if the royal ear was open to the voice of truth, a saint and a philosopher are not always to be found at the ear of kings. The privileges of rank, or office, or favor, were too frequently abused by Italian fraud and Gothic violence, and the avarice of the king's nephew was publicly exposed, at first by the usurpation, and afterwards by the restitution of the estates which he had unjustly extorted from his Tuscan neighbors. Two hundred thousand Barbarians, formidable even to their master, were seated in the heart of Italy; they indignantly supported the restraints of peace and discipline; the disorders of their march were always felt and sometimes compensated ; and where it was dangerous to punish, it might be prudent to dissemble, the sallies of their native fierceness. When the indulgence of Theodoric had remitted two-thirds of the Ligurian tribute, he condescended to explain the difficulties of his situation, and to lament the heavy though inevitable burdens which he imposed on his subjects for their own defence.” These ungrateful subjects could never be cordially reconciled to the origin, the religion, or even the virtues, of the Gothic conqueror; past calamities were forgotten, and the sense or suspicion of injuries was rendered still more exquisite by the present felicity of the times. Even the religious toleration which Theodoric had the glory of introducing into the Christian world, was painful and offensive to the orthodox zeal of the Italians. They respected the armed heresy of the Goths; but their pious rage was safely pointed against the rich and defenceless Jews, who had formed their establishments at Naples, Rome, Ravenna, Milan, and Genoa, for the benefit of trade, and under the sanction of the laws.” Their persons were insulted, their effects were pillaged, and their synagogues were burnt by the mad populace of Ravenna and Rome, inflamed, as it should seem, by the most frivolous or extravagant pretences. The government which could neglect, would have deserved such an outrage. A legal inquiry was instantly directed; and as the authors of the tumult had escaped in the crowd, the whole community was condemned to repair the damage; and the obstinate bigots, who refused their contributions, were whipped through the streets by the hand of the executioner:* This simple act of justice exasperated the discontent of the Catholics, who applauded the merit and patience of these holy confessors. Three hundred pulpits deplored the persecution of the church; and if the chapel of St. Stephen at Verona was demolished by the command of Theodoric, it is probable that some miracle hostile to his name and dignity had been performed on that sacred theatre. At the close of a glorious life, the king of Italy discovered that he had excited the hatred of a people whose happiness he had so assiduously labored to promote; and his mind was soured by indignation, jealousy, and the bitterness of unrequited love. The Gothic o COndescended to disarm the unwarlike natives of Italy, Interdicting all weapons of offence, and excepting only a small knife for domestic use. The deliverer of Rome was accused of conspiring with the vilest informers against the lives of senators whom he suspected of a secret and treasonable correspondence with the Byzantine court.” After the death of Anastasius, the diadem had been placed on the head of a feeble old man; but the powers of government were assumed by his nephew Justinian, who already meditated the extirpation of heresy, and the conquest of Italy and Africa. A rigorous law, which was published at Constantinople, to reduce the Arians by the dread of punishment within the pale of the church, awakened the just resentment of Theodoric, who claimed for his distressed brethren of the East the same indulgence which he had so long granted to the Catholics of his dominions.” At his stern command, the Roman pontiff, with four illustrious senators, embarked on an embassy, of which he must have alike dreaded the failure or the success. The singular veneration shown to the first pope who had visited Constantinople was punished as a crime by his jealous monarch; the artful or peremptory refusal of the Byzantine court might excuse an equal, and would provoke a larger, measure of retaliation; and a mandate was prepared in Italy, to prohibit, after a stated day, the exercise of the Catholic worship. By the bigotry of his subjects and enemies, the most tolerant of princes was driven to the brink of persecution; and the life of Theodoric was too long, since he lived to condemn the virtue of Boethius and Symmachus.” The senator Boethius * is the last of the Romans whom Cato or Tully could have acknowledged for their countryman. As a wealthy orphan, he inherited the patrimony and honors of the Anician family, a name ambitiously assumed by the kings and emperors of the age; and the appellation of Manlius asserted his genuine or fabulous descent from a race of consuls and dictators, who had repulsed the Gauls from the Capitol, and sacrificed their sons to the discipline of the republic. In the youth of Boethius the studies of Rome were not totally abandoned; a Virgil" is now extant, corrected by the hand of a consul; and the professors of grammar, rhetoric, and jurisprudence, were maintained in their privileges and pensions by the liberality of the Goths. But the erudition of the Latin language was insufficient to satiate his ardent curiosity; and Boethius is said

76 See the life of St. Caesarius in Baronius (A. D. 508, No. 12, 13, 14). The king Food him with 300 gold solidi, and a discus of silver of the weight of sixty ll 11(13. poo Ennodius in Vit. St. Epiphanii, in Sirmond, Op. tom. i. pp. 1672–1690. Theodoric bestowed some important favors on this bishop, whom he used as a counsellor in peace and war. 78 I)evotissimus ac si Catholicus (Anonym. Vales. p. 720); yet his offering was no more than two silver candlesticks (cerostrata) of the weight of seventy pounds, far inferior to the gold and gems of Constantinople and France (Anastasius in Wit. Pont. in Hormisda, p. 34, edit, Paris). * The tolerating system of his reign (Ennodius, p. 1612. Anonym. Yales. p. 719. Procop. Goth...] i.e. 1, 1. ii. c. 6) may be studied in the Epistles of Cassiodorus, under the following heads: bishops (Var. i. 9, viii. 15, 24, xi. 23); immuni; ties (i. 26, ii. 29, 30): church lands (iv. 17, 20) : sanctuaries (ii. ti, iii. 47); church late (xii. 20); discipline (iv. 44); which prove, at the same time, that it was the ead of the church as well as of the state.”

* He recommended the same toleration to the emperor Justin.-M.

30 We may reject a foolish tale of his beheading a Catholic deacon who turned Arian (Theodor. Lector. No. 17). Why is Theodoric surnamed Afer 2 From Vafer 2 (Wales. ad loc.) A light conjecture.

8 Ennodius, pp. 1621, 1622, 1636, 1638. His libel was approved and registered (synodaliter) by a Roman council (Baronius, A. D. 503, No. 6. Franciscus Pagi in Breviar. Pont. Rom. tom. i. p. 242).

$2 See Cassiodorus (Var. viii. 15, ix. 15, 16), Anastasius (in Symmacho, p. 31), and the xviith Annotation of Mascou. Baronius, Pagi, and most of the Catholie doctors confess, with an angry growl, this Gothic usurpation.

& He disabled them—a licentia testandi; and all Italy mourned—lamentabili justitio. I wish to believe that these penalties were enacted against the rebels who had violated their oath of allegiance; but the testimony of Ennodius (pp. lo-Isis is the more weighty, as he lived and died under the reign Of Theodoc

84 Ennodius, in Vit. Epiphan. pp. 1589, 1690. Boethius de Consolatione Philosophiae, l. i. pros. iv. pp. 45, 46, 47. Respect, but § the passions of the saint and the senator; and fortify and alleviate their complaints by the various hints of Cassiodorus (ii. 8, iv. 36, viii. 5).

$5 Immanium expensarum polidus * * * pro ipsorum salute, &c.; yet these Are no more than words.

86 The Jews were settled at Naples (Procopius, Goth. 1. i. c. 8), at Genoa (War. ii 28, iv, 33), Milan (v. 37), Rome (iv. 43). See likewise Basnage, Hist, des Juifs, tom viii c. 7, p. 254.

st Rex avidus communis exitii, &c. (Boethius, l. i. p. 59): rex dolum Romanis

tendebat (Anonym. Wales. p. 723). These are hard words; they speak the padsions of the Italians, and those (I fear) of Theodoric himself.

* See History of the Jews, vol. iii. p. 217.-M.

88 I have labored to extract a rational narrative from the dark, concise, and various hints of the Walesian Fo (pp. 722, 723, 724), Theophanes (p. 145) Anastasius (in Johanne, p. 35), and the Hist. Miscella (p. 103, edit. Muratori). A #. pressure and paraphrase of their words is no violence. Consult likewise uratori (Annali d'Italia, tom. iv. pp. 471–478), with the Annals and Breviary (tom. i. pp. 259–263) of the two Pagis, the uncle and the nephew. 89 Le Clerc has composed a critical and philosophical life of Anicius Manlius Severinus Boetius (Bibliot. Choisie, tom. xvi. pp. 168-275); and both Tiraboschi §§ iii.) and Fabricius (Bibliot. Latin) may be usefully consulted. The date of is birth may be placed about the year 470, and his death in 524, in a premature old age (Consol. Phil. Metrica, i. p. 5). * For the age and value of this MS., now in the Medicean library at Florence, see the Cenotaphia Pisana (p. 430–447) of Cardinal Noris. .

* Gibbon should not have omitted the golden words of Theodoric in a letter which he addressed to Justin : That to pretend to a dominion over the conscience is to usurp the prerogative of God; that by the nature of things the power of sovereigns is confined to external government; that they have no right of punishment but over those who disturb the public peace, of which they are the guardians; that the most dangerous heresy is that of a sovereign who separates from himself a part of his subjects, because they believe not according to his belief. Compare Le Beau, vol. viii. p. 68.-M.

Vol. III.-26

« ForrigeFortsett »