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The first days, which coincided with the old Saturnalia, were devoted to mutual congratulation and the public joy, and the Catholics prepared to celebrate, without a rival, the approaching festival of the nativity of Christ. In the familiar conversation of a hero, the Romans acquired some notion of the virtues which history ascribed to their ancestors; they were edified by the apparent respect of Belisarius for the successor of St. Peter, and his rigid discipline secured in the midst of war the blessings of tranquillity and justice. They applauded the rapid success of his arms, which overran the adjacent country, as far as Narni, Perusia, and Spoleto; but they trembled, the senate, the clergy, and the unwarlike people, as soon as they understood that he had resolved, and would speedily be reduced, to sustain a siege against the powers of the Gothic monarchy. The designs of Vitiges were executed, during the winter season, with diligence and effect. From their rustic habitations, from their distant garrisons, the Goths assembled at Ravenna for the defence of their country; and such were their numbers, that, after an army had been detached for the relief of Dalmatia, one hundred and fifty thousand fighting men marched under the royal standard. According to the degrees of rank or merit, the Gothic king distributed arms and horses, rich gifts, and liberal promises; he moved along the Flaminian way, declined the useless sieges of Perusia and Spoleto, respected the impregnable rock of Narni, and arrived within two miles of Rome at the foot of the Milvian bridge. The narrow passage was fortified with a tower, and Belisarius had computed the value of the twenty days which must be lost in the construction of another bridge. But the consternation of the soldiers of the tower, who either fled or deserted, disappointed his hopes, and betrayed his person into the most imminent danger. . At the head of one thousand horse, the toman general sallied from the Flaminian gate to mark the ground of an advantageous position, and to survey the camp of the Barbarians; but while he believed them on the other side of the Tiber, he was suddenly encompassed and rather than from the corrupt, or interpolated, text of Procopius. The month (Decomber) is ascertained by Evagrius (), i. v. c.19); and the day (the tenth) may be admitted on the slight evidence of Nicephorus Callistus (1. xvii. c. 13). For this assaulted by their numerous squadrons. The fate of Italy depended on his life; and the deserters pointed to the conspicuous horse, a bay,” with a white face, which he rode on that memorable day. “Aim at the bay horse,” was the universal cry. Every bow was bent, every javelin was directed, against that fatal object, and the command was repeated and obeyed by thousands who were ignorant of its real motive. The bolder Barbarians advanced to the more honorable combat of swords and spears; and the praise of an enemy has graced the fall of Visandus, the standardbearer,” who maintained his foremost station, till he was pierced with thirteen wounds, perhaps by the hand of Belisarius himself. The Roman general was strong, active, and dexterous; on every side he discharged his weighty and mortal strokes: his faithful guards imitated his valor, and defended his person; and the Goths, after the loss of a thousand men, fled before the arms of a hero. They were rashly pursued to their camp; and the Romans, oppressed by multitudes, made a gradual, and at length a precipitate retreat to the gates of the city: the gates were shut against the fugitives; and the public terror was increased by the report that Belisarius was slain. His countenance was indeed disfigured by sweat, dust, and blood; his voice was hoarse, his strength was almost exhausted ; but his unconquerable spirit still remained; he imparted that spirit to his desponding companions; and their last desperate charge was felt by the flying Barbarians, as if a new army, vigorous and entire, had been poured from the city. The Flaminian gate was thrown open to a real triumph; but it was not before Belisarius had visited every post, and provided for the public safety, that he could be persuaded, by his wife and friends, to taste the needful refreshments of food and sleep. In the more improved state of the art of war, a general is seldom required, or even permitted to display the personal prowess of a soldier; and the example of Belisarius may be added to the rare examples of Henry IV, of Pyrrhus, and of Alexander.
accurate chronology we arc indebted to t --- ii. pp. 559, 560).” gy o the diligence and judgment of Pagi (tom.
* Compare Maltret's note, in the edition of Dindorf; cording to his reading.—M. ition of Dindorf; the ninth is the day, ac, 75 A horse of a bay or red color was styled déAtos by the Greeks, bassam by the Barbarians, and spadir by the Romans. Honesti spadices, says Virgil (Georgic. 1. iii. 72, with the Observations of Martin and Heyne). Smaðić, or Batov, signifies ; o o the palm-tree, whose name, botvić, is synonymous to red (Aulus GeluS., ii. 26). * I interpret Bavčaxáptos, not as a proper name, but an office, standard-bearer, from bandum (vexillum), a Barbaric word adopted by the Greeks and Romans Vol. Diacon. l. i.e. 20, p. 760. Grot. Nomina Gothica, p. 575. Ducange, Gloss. tin, tom. i. pp. 539, 540).
After this first and unsuccessful trial of their enemies, the whole army of the Goths passed the Tiber, and formed the siege of the city, which continued above a year, till their final departure. Whatever fancy may conceive, the severo compass of the geographer defines the circumference of Romg within a line of twelve miles and three hundred and fortyfive paces; and that circumference, except in the Vatican, has invariably been the same from the triumph of Aurelian to the peaceful but obscure reign of the modern popes." But in the day of her greatness, the space within her walls was crowded with habitations and inhabitants; and the populous suburbs, that stretched along the public roads, were darted like so many rays from one common centre. Adversity swept away these extraneous ornaments, and left naked and desolate a considerable part even of the seven hills. Yet Rome in its present state could send into the field about thirty thousand males of a military age;” and, notwithstanding the want of discipline and exercise, the far greater part, inured to the hardships of poverty, might be capable of bearing arms for the defence of their country and religion. The prudence of Belisarius did not neglect this important resource. His soldiers were relieved by the zeal and diligence of the people, who watched while they slept, and labored while they reposed : he accepted the voluntary service of the bravest and most indigent of the Roman youth: and the companies of townsmen sometimes represented, in a vacant post, the presence of the troops which had been drawn away to more essential duties. But his just confidence was placed in the veterans who had fought under his banner in the Persian and African wars; and although that gallant band was reduced to five thousand men, he undertook, with such contemptible numbers, to defend a circle of twelve miles, against an army of one hundred and fifty thousand Barbarians. In the walls of Rome, which Belisa. rius constructed or restored, the materials of ancient architecture may be discerned; " and the whole fortification was completed, except in a chasm still extant between the Pincian and Flaminian gates, which the prejudices of the Goths and Romans left under the effectual guard of St. Peter the apostle.” The battlements or bastions were shaped in sharp angles; a ditch, broad and deep, protected the foot of the ram!" ; and the archers on the rampart were assisted y military engines; the balista, a powerful cross-bow, which darted short but massy arrows; the onagri, or wild asses, which, on the principle of a sling, threw stones and bullets of an enormous size.” A chain was drawn across the Tiber; the arches of the aqueducts were made impervious, and the mole or sepulchre of Hadrian * was converted, for the first time, to the uses of a citadel. That venerable structure, which contained the ashes of the Antonines, was a circular turret rising from a quadrangular basis: it was covered with the white marble of Paros, and decorated by the statues of gods and heroes; and the lover of the arts must read with a sigh, that the works of Praxiteles or Lysippus were torn from their lofty pedestals, and hurled into the ditch on the heads of the besiegers.” To each of his lieutenants Belisarius asigned the defence of a gate, with the wise and peremptory instruction, that, whatever might be the alarm, they should steadily adhere to their respective * The accurate eye of Nardini (Roma Antica, l. i. c. viii. p. 31) could distinguish posts, and trust their general for the safety of Rome. The formidable host of the Goths was insufficient to embrace the ample measure of the city; of the fourteen gates, seven only were invested from the Praenestine to the Flaminian way; and Vitiges divided his troops into six camps, each of which was fortified with a ditch and rampart. On the Tuscan side of the river, a seventh encampment was formed in the field or circus of the Vatican, for the important purpose of commanding the Milvian bridge and the course of the Tiber; but they approached with devotion the adjacent church of St. Peter; and the threshold of the holy apostles was respected during the siege by a Christian enemy. In the ages of victory, as often as the senate decreed some distant conquest, the consul denounced hostilities, by unbarring, in solemn pomp, the gates of the temple of Janus.” Domestic war now rendered the admonition superfluous, and the ceremony was superseded by the establishment of a new relig1on. But the brazen temple of Janus was left standing in the forum; of a size sufficient only to contain the statue of the god, five cubits in height, of a human form, but with two faces directed to the east and west. The double gates were likewise of brass; and a fruitless effort to turn them on their rusty hinges revealed the scandalous secret that some Romans were still attached to the superstition of their anceStorS. Eighteen days were employed by the besiegers, to provide all the instruments of attack which antiquity had invented. Fascines were prepared to fill the ditches, scalingladders to ascend the walls. The largest trees of the forest supplied the timbers of four battering-rams: their heads were armed with iron; they were suspended by ropes, and each of them was worked by the labor of fifty men. The lofty wooden turrets moved on wheels or rollers, and formed a spacious platform of the level of the rampart. On the morning of the nineteenth day, a general attack was made from the Praenestine gate to the Vatican : seven Gothic columns, with their military engines, advanced to the assault; and the Romans, who lined the ramparts, listened with doubt and anxiety to the cheerful assurances of their commander. As soon as the enemy approached the ditch, Belisarius himself drew the first arrow; and such was his
77 M. D'Anville has given, in the Memoirs of the Academy for the year 1756 (tom. xxx. pp. 198–236), a plan of Rome on a smaller scale, but far more accurate than that which he had delineated in 1738 for Rollin's o: Fo had improved his knowledge; and instead of Rossi's topography, he used the new and excellent map of Nolli. Pliny's old measure of thirteen must be reduced to eight miles. It is easier to alter a text, than to remove hills or buildings.”
78 In the year 1709, Labat (Voyages en Italie, tom. iii. p. 218) reckoned 138,568 Christian souls, besides sooo or 10,000 Jews—without souls? In the year 1763, the numbers exceeded 160,000.
* Compare Gibbon, ch. xi. note 43, and xxxi. 67, and ch. lxxi. “It is quite clear,” observes Sir J. Hobhouse, “that all these measurements differ (in the first and second it is 21, in the text 12 and 345 paces, in the last 10), yet it is equally clear that the bistorian avers that they are all the same.” The present extent 12%, nearly agrees with the second statement of Gibbon. Sir J. Hobhouse also observes that the walls were enlarged by Constantine ; but there cla be mo doubt that the circuit has been much changed. Illust. of Ch. Harold, p. 180-M. the tumultuarie opere di Belisario. 80 The fissure and leaning in the upper part of the wall, which Procopius obo §o. 1. i. c. 13), is visible to the present hour (Domat. Roma Vetus, l. i. e. , pp. 53, .* Lipsius (Opp. tom. iii. Poliorcet. l. iii.) was ignorant of this clear and conspicuous passage of Procopius (Goth, l. i. c. 21). The engine was named Övaypos the wild ass, a calcitrando (Hen. Steph. Thesaur. Linguæ Graec. tom, ii. pp. 1340, 1341, tom.iii. p. 877)... I have seen an ingenious model, contrived and executed by: General Melville, which imitates or surpasses the art of antiquity. * The description of this mausoleum, or mole, in Procopius (1. i. c. 25), is the first and best. The height above the walls orxe6ov to es Atóov'BoAmv. On Nolli's great plan, the sides measure 260 English feet.* * Praxiteles excelled in Fauns, and that of Athens was his own masterpiece. Rome now contains about thirty of the same character. When the ditch of St. Angelo was cleansed under Urban VIII., the workmen found the sleeping Faun 9f the Barberini palace; but a leg, a thigh, and the right arm, had been broken sout beautiful statue (Winkelman, Hist. de l'Art, tom. ii. pp. 52, 53, tom, iii. p.
* Donatus and Nardini suppose that Hadrian's tomb was fortified by Honorius; it was united to the wall by men of old (Taxatoi čv6porot. Procop. in loc). Gib. boos mistaken the breadth for the height above the walls. Hobhouse, Illust. of Childe Harold, p. 302.—M.