}. of honor and virtue into the mind of their young king. ut the pupil who is insensible of the benefits, must abhor the restraints, of education; and the solicitude of the queen, which affection rendered anxious and severe, offended the untractable nature of her son and his subjects. On a solemn festival, when the Goths were assembled in the palace of IRavenna, the royal youth escaped from his mother's apartment, and, with tears of pride and anger, complained of a blow which his stubborn disobedience had provoked her to inflict. The Barbarians resented the indignity which had been offered to their king; accused the regent of conspiring against his life and crown; and imperiously demanded, that the grandson of Theodoric should be rescued from the dastardly discipline of women and pedants, and educated, like a valiant Goth, in the society of his equals and the glorious ignorance of his ancestors. To this rude clamor, importunately urged as the voice of the nation, Amalasontha was compelled to yield her reason, and the dearest wishes of her heart. The king of Italy was abandoned to wine, to women, and to rustic sports; and the indiscreet contempt of the unrateful youth betrayed the mischievous designs of his avorites and her enemies. Encompassed with domestic foes, she entered into a secret negotiation with the emperor Justinian ; obtained the assurance of a friendly reception, and had actually deposited at Dyrrachium, in Epirus, a treasure of forty thousand pounds of gold. Happy would it have been for her fame and safety, if she had retired calmly from barbarous faction to the peace and splendor of Constantinople. But the mind of Amalasontha was inflamed by ambition and revenge; and while her ships lay at anchor in the port, she waited for the success of a crime which her passions excused or applauded as an act of justice. Three of the most dangerous malcontents had been separately removed under the pretence of trust and command, to the frontiers of Italy: they were assassinated by her private emissaries; and the blood of these noble Goths rendered the queen-mother absolute in the court of Ravenna, and justly odious to a free people. But if she had lamented the disorders of her son, she soon wept his irreparable loss; and the death of Athalaric, who, at the age of sixteen, was consumed by premature intemperance, left her destitute of any firm support or legal authority. Instead of submitting to the laws of her country, which held as a fundamental maxim, that the succession could never pass from the lance to the distaff, the daughter of Theodoric conceived the im, practicable design of sharing, with one of her cousins, the regal title, and of reserving in her own hands the substance of supreme power. He received the proposal with profound respect and affected gratitude; and the eloquent Cassiodorus announced to the senate and the emperor, that Amalasontha and Theodatus had ascended the throne of Italy. His birth (for his mother was the sister of Theodoric) might be considered as an imperfect title; and the choice of Amalasontha was more strongly directed by her contempt of his avarice and pusillanimity, which had deprived him of the love of the Italians, and the esteem of the Barbarians. But Theodatus was exasperated by the contempt which he deserved: her justice had repressed and reproached the oppression which he exercised against his Tuscan neighbors; and the principal Goths, united by common guilt and resentment, conspired to instigate his slow and timid disposition. The letters of congratulation were scarcely despatched before the queen of Italy was imprisoned in a small island of the Lake of Bolsena, * where, after a short confinement, she was strangled in the bath, by the order, or with the conmivance, of the new king, who instructed his turbulent subjects to shed the blood of their sovereigns. Justinian beheld with joy the dissensions of the Goths; and the mediation of an ally concealed and promoted the ambitious views of the conqueror. His ambassadors, in their public audience, demanded the fortress of Lilybaeum, ten Barbarian fugitives, and a just compensation for the pillage of a small town on the Illyrian borders; but they secretly negotiated with Theodatus to betray the province of Tuscany, and tempted Amalasontha to extricate herself from danger and perplexity, by a free surrender of the kingdom of Italy. A false and servile epistle was subscribed, by the reluctant hand of the captive queen : but the confession of the Roman senators, who were sent to Constantinople, revealed the truth of her deplorable situation; and Justinian, by the voice of a new ambassador, most powerfully interceded for her life, and liberty.” Yet the secret instructions of the * The lake, from the neighboring towns of Etruria, was styled either Vulsiniensis (now of Bolsena) or Tarquiniensis. It is surrounded with white rocks, and stored with fish and wild-fowl. The younger Pliny (Epist. ii. 96) celebrates two Woody islands that floated on its waters: if a fable, how credulous the ancients 1 same minister were adapted to serve the cruel jealousy of Theodora, who dreaded the presence and superior charms of a rival; he prompted, with artful and ambiguous hints, the execution of a crime so useful to the Romans; * received the intelligence of her death with grief and indignation, and denounced, in his master's name, immortal war against the perfidious assassin. In Italy, as well as in Africa, the guilt of a usurper appeared to justify the arms of Justinian; but the forces which he prepared, were insufficient for the subversion of a mighty kingdom, if their feeble numbers had not been multiplied by the name, the spirit, and the conduct, of a hero. A chosen troop of guards, who served on horseback, and were armed with lances and bucklers, attended the person of Belisarius; his cavalry was composed of two hundred Huns, three hundred Moors, and four thousand confederates, and the infantry consisted only of three thousand Isaurians. Steering the same course as in his former expedition, the Roman consul cast anchor before Catana in Sicily, to survey the strength of the island, and to decide whether he should attempt the conquest, or peaceably pursue his voyage for the African coast. ". found a fruitful land and a friendly people. Notwithstanding the decay of agriculture, Sicily still supplied the granaries of Rome: the farmers were graciously exempted from the oppression of military quarters; and the Goths, who trusted the defence of the island to the inhabitants, had some reason to complain, that their confidence was ungratefully betrayed. Instead of soliciting and expecting the aid of the king of Italy, they yielded to the first summons a cheerful obedience; and this province, the first fruits of the Punic wars, was again, after a long separation, united to the Roman empire.” The Gothic garrison of Palermo, which alone attempted to resist, was reduced, after a short siege, by a singular stratagem. Belisarius introduced his ships into the deepest recess of the harbor; their boats were laboriously hoisted with ropes and pulleys to the top-mast head, and he filled them with archers, who, from that superior station, commanded the ramparts of the city. After this easy, though successful, campaign, the conqueror entered Syracuse in triumph, at the head of his victorious bands, distributing gold medals to the people, on the day which so gloriously terminated the year of the consulship. He passed the winter season in the palace of ancient kings, amidst the ruins of a Grecian colony, which once extended to a circumference of two and twenty miles:* but in the spring, about the festival of Easter, the prosecution of his designs was interrupted by a dangerous revolt of the African forces. Carthage was saved by the presence of Belisarius, who suddenly landed with a thousand guards.” Two thousand soldiers of doubtful faith returned to the standard of their old commander: and he marched, without hesitation, above fifty miles, to seek an enemy whom he affected to pity and despise. Eight thousand rebels trembled at his approach; they were routed at the first onset, by the dexterity of their master; and this ignoble victory would have restored the peace of Africa, if the conqueror had not been hastily recalled to Sicily, to appease a sedition which was kindled during his absence in his own camp.” Disorder and disobedience were the common malady of the times; the genius to command, and the virtue to obey, resided only in the mind of Belisarius. Although Theodatus descended from a race of heroes, he was ignorant of the art, and averse to the dangers, of war. Although he had studied the writings of Plato and Tully, Shilosophy was incapable of purifying his mind from the asest passions, avarice and fear. He had purchased a sceptre by ingratitude and murder: at the first menace of an enemy, he degraded his own majesty and that of a nation, which already disdained their unworthy sovereign. Astonished by the recent example of Gelimer, he saw him58 The ancient magnitude and splendor of the five quarters of Syracuse are delineated by Cicero (in Verrem, actio li. l. iv. c. 52, 53), Strabo (l. vi. p. 415), and D’Orville Sioula (tom. ii. pp. 174–202). The new city, restored by Augustus, shrunk towards the island. . o Procopius (Vandal. 1. ii. c. 14, 15) so clearly relates the return of Belisarius into Sicily (p. 146, edit. Hoeschelii), that I am astonished at the strange misapself dragged in chains through the streets of Constantinople: the terrors which Belisarius inspired were heightened by the eloquence of Peter, the Byzantine ambassador; and that bold and subtle advocate persuaded him to sign a treaty, too ignominious to become the foundation of a lasting peace. It was stipulated, that in the acclamations of the Roman people, the name of the emperor should be always pro

if a foet, how careless the moderns Yet, since Pliny, the island may have been fixed by new and gradual accessions.

* Amalasontha was not alive when this new ambassador, Peter of Thessalonica, 56 Yet Procopius discredits his own evidence (Anecdot. c. 16) by confessing that in his public history he had not spoken the truth. See the epistles from Queen Gundelina to the Empress Theodora (Var. x. 20, 21, 23, and observe a suspicious word, de illā persona, &c.), with the elaborate Commentary of Buat (tom. X. "onquest of Sicily, o: the narrative of Procopius with the

complaints of Totila (Gothic. l. i. c. 5, 1. iii. c. 16). The Gothic queen had lately relieved that thankless island (Var. ix. 10, 11).

arrived in Italy: he could not then secretly contribute to her death. “But (says M. de Sainte Croix) it is not beyond probability that Theodora had entered into some criminal into igue with Gundelina: for that wife of Theodatus wrote to im}. her protection, reminding her of the considence which she and her hosband ad always placed in her former promises.” See on Amalasontha and the authors of her death an excellent dissertation of M. de Sainte Croix in the Archives Littéraires published by M. Vandenbourg, No. 50, t. xvii. p. 216.-G.

prehension and reproaches of a learned critic (CEuvres de la Mothe le Vayer, tons, viii. pp. 162, 163).

* A hundred (there was no room on board for more). Gibbon has again been misled by Cousin's translation. Lord Mahon, p. 157.-M.

laimed before that of the Gothic king; and that as often as the statue of Theodatus was erected in brass or marble, the divine image of Justinian should be placed on its right hand. Instead of conferring, the king of Italy was reduced to solicit, the honors of the senate ; and the consent of the emperor was made indispensable before he could execute, against a priest or senator, the sentence either of death or confiscation. The feeble monarch resigned the possession of Sicily; offered, as the annual mark of his dependence, a crown of gold of the weight of three hundred pounds; and promised to supply, at the requisition of his sovereign, three thousand Gothic auxiliaries, for the service of the empire. Satisfied with these extraordinary concessions, the successful agent of Justinian hastened his journey to Constantinople; but no sooner had he reached the Alban villa,” than he was recalled by the anxiety of Theodatus; and the dialogue which passed between the king and the ambassador deserves to be represented in its original simplicity. “Are you of opinion that the emperor will ratify this treaty? Perhaps. If he refuses, what consequence will ensue? |War. Will such a war be just or reasonable 2 Most assuredly : every one should act according to his character. What is your meaning? You are a philosopher—Justinian is emperor of the Romans : it would ill become the disciple of Plato to shed the blood of thousands in his private quarrel: the successor of Augustus should vindicate his rights, and recover by arms the ancient provinces of his empire.” This reasoning might not convince, but it was sufficient to alarm and subdue the weakness of Theodatus; and he soon de. scended to his last offer, that for the poor equivalent of a pension of forty-eight thousand pounds sterling, he would resign the kingdom of the Goths and Italians, and spend the remainder of his days in the innocent pleasures of philosophy and agriculture. Both treatles were intrusted to the

* The ancient Alba was ruined in the first age of Rome. On the same spot or at least in the neighborhood, successively arose, 1. The villa of Pompey, &c., 2. A camp of the Praetorian cohorts; 3. The modern episcopal city of Albanum or Albano (Procop. Goth. l. ii. c. 4. Cluver. Ital, Antiq. tom. ii. p. 914).

« ForrigeFortsett »