Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

their entrance through the Salarian gate, they fired the ad. jacent houses to guide their march, and to distract the attention of the citizens; the flames, which encountered no obstacle in the disorder of the night, consumed many private and public buildings; and the ruins of the palace of Sallust” remained, in the age of Justinian, a stately monument of the Gothic conflagration.” Yet a contemporary historian has observed, that fire could scarcely consume the enormous beams of solid brass, and that the strength of man was insufficient to subvert the foundations of ancient structures. Some truth may possibly be concealed in his devout assertion, that the wrath of Heaven supplied the imperfections of hostile rage; and that the proud Forum of Rome, decorated with the statues of so many gods and heroes, was levelled in the dust by the stroke of lightning.” Whatever might be the numbers of equestrian or plebeian rank, who perished in the massacre of Rome, it is confidently affirmed that only one senator lost his life by the sword of the enemy.” But it was not easy to compute the multitudes, who, from an honorable station and a prosperous fortune, were suddenly reduced to the miserable condition of captives and exiles. As the Barbarians had more occasion for money than for slaves, they fixed at a moderate price the redemption of their indigent prisoners; and the ransom was often paid by the benevolence of their friends, or the charity of strangers.” The captives, who were regularly 105 The historiam Sallust, who usefully practiced the vices which he has so eloquently censured, employed the plunder of Numidia to adorn his palace and gardens on the Quirinal hill. The spot where the house stood is now marked by the church of St. Susanna, separated only by a street from the baths of Diocletian, and not far distant from the Salarian gate. See Nardini, Roma Antica, pp. 192, 193, and the great Plan of Modern Rome, by Nolli. 100 The expressions of Procopius are distinct and moderate (de Bell. Vandal. 1. i. c. 2). The Chronicle of Marcellinus speaks too strongly, partem urbis Romae cremavit ; and the words of Philostorgius êv ćpeutriots & tims tróAews ketuévns, l. xii. c. 3) convey a false and exaggerated idea. Bargaeus has composed a particular dissertation (see tom. iv. Antiquit. Rom. Graev.) to prove that the edifices of Rome were not subverted by the Goths and Vandals, 107 Orosius, l. ii. c. 19, p. 143. He speaks as if he disapproved all statues: vel , Deum vel hominem mentiuntur. They consisted of the kings of Alba and Rome from AEneas, the Romans, illustrious either in arms or arts, and the deified Caesars. The expression which he uses of Forwm is somewhat ambiguous, since there existed fire principal Fora; but as they were all contiguous and adjacent, in the plain which is surrounded by the Capitoline, the Quirinal, the Esquiline, and the Palatine hills, they might fairly be considered as one. See the Roma Antiqua of IJonatus, pp. 162–201, and the Roma Antica of Nardini, pp. 212–273. The former is more useful for the ancient descriptions, the latter for the actual topography. 10s Orosius (1.ii. c. 19, p. 142) compares the cruelty of the Gauls and the clem. ency of the Goths. Ibi vix quemduam inventum senatorem, qui vel absens evaserit; hic vix quemauam requiri, qui forte ut latens perierit. But there is an air of rhetoric, and perhaps of falsehood, in this antithesis; and Socrates (l. vi. c. 10) affirms, perhaps by an opposite exaggeration, that many senators were put to death with various and exquisite tortiures.

1% Multi .....Christiani incaptivitatem ducti sunt. Augustin, de Civ. Dei. ?, i. c. 14; and the Christians experienced 110 peculiar hardships.

sold, either in open market, or by private contract, would have legally regained their native freedom, which it was impossible for a citizen to lose, or to alienate.” But as it was soon discovered that the vindication of their liberty would endanger their lives; and that the Goths, unless they were tempted to sell, might be provoked to murder, their useless prisoners; the civil jurisprudence had been already qualified by a wise regulation, that they should be obliged to serve the moderate term of five years, till they had discharged by their labor the price of their redemption.” The nations who invaded the Roman empire, had driven before them, into Italy, whole troops of hungry and affrighted provincials, less apprehensive of servitude than of famine. The calamities of Rome and Italy dispersed the inhabitants to the most lonely, the most secure, the most distant places of refuge. While the Gothic cavalry spread terror and desolation along the sea-coast of Campania and Tuscany, the little island of Igilium, separated by a narrow channel from the Argentarian promontory, repulsed, or eluded, their hostile attempts ; and at so small a distance from Rome, great numbers of citizens were securely concealed in the thick woods of that sequestered spot.” The ample patrimonies, which many senatorian families possessed in Africa, invited them, if they had time, and prudence, to escape from the ruin of their country, to embrace the shelter of that hospitable province. The most illustrious of these fugitives was the noble and pious Proba,” the widow of the praefect Petronius. After the deatn of her husband, the most powerful subject of Rome, she had remained at the head of the Anician family, and successively supplied, from her private fortune, the expense of the consulships of her three sons. When the city was besieged and taken by the Goths, Proba supported, with Christian resignation, the loss of immense riches; embarked in a small vessel, from whence she beheld, at sea, the flames of her burning palace, and fled with her daughter Laeta, and her granddaughter, the celebrated virgin, Demetrias, to the coast of Africa. The benevolent profusion with which the matron distributed the fruits, or the price, of her estates, contributed to alleviate the misfortunes of exile and captivity. But even the family of Proba herself was not exempt from the rapacious oppression of Count Heraclian, who basely sold, in matrimonial prostitution, the noblest maidens of Rome to the lust or avarice of the Syrian merchants. The Italian fugitives were dispersed through the provinces, along the coast of Egypt and Asia, as far as Constantinople and Jerusalem; and the village of Bethlem, the solitary residence of St. Jerom and his female converts, was crowded with illustrious beggars of either sex, and every age, who excited the public compassion by the remembrance of their past fortune.” This awful catastrophe of Rome filled the astonished empire with grief and terror. So interesting a contrast of greatness and ruin, disposed the fond credulity of the people to deplore, and even to exaggerate, the afflictions of the queen of cities. The clergy, who applied to recent events the lofty metaphors of Oriental prophecy, were sometimes tempted to confound the destruction of the capital and the dissolution of the globe. There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify the evils, of the present times. Yet, when the first emotions had subsided, and a fair estimate was made of the real damage, the more learned and judicious contemporaries were forced to confess, that infant Rome had formerly received more essential injury from the Gauls, than she had now sustained from the Goths in her declining age.” The experience of eleven centuries has enabled posterity to produce a much more singu114 See the pathetic complaint of Jerom (tom. v. p. 400), in his preface to the second book of his Commentaries on the Prophet Ezekiel. 115 Orosius, though with some theological partiality, states this comparison, 1. ii. c. 19, p. 142, 1. vii. c. 39, p. 575. But in the history of the taking of Rome by the Gauls, everything is uncertain, and perhaps fabulous. See Beaufort sur l’Incerlar parallel; and to affirm with confidence, that the ravages of the Barbarians, whom Alaric had led from the banks of the Danube, were less destructive, than the hostilities exercised by the troops of Charles the Fifth, a Catholic prince, who styled himself Emperor of the Romans.” The Goths evacuated the city at the end of six days, but Rome remained above nine months in the possession of the Imperialists; and every hour was stained by some atrocious act of cruelty, lust, and rapine. The authority of Alaric preserved some order and moderation among the ferocious multitude which acknowledged him for their leader and king; but the constable of Bourbon had gloriously fallen in the attack of the walls; and the death of the general removed every restraint of discipline from an army which consisted of three independent nations, the Italians, the Spaniards, and the Germans. In the beginning of the sixteenth century, the manners of Italy exhibited a remarkable scene of the depravity of mankind. They united the sanguinary crimes that prevail in an unsettled state of society, with the polished vices which spring from the abuse of art and luxury; and the loose adventurers, who had violated every prejudice of patriotism and superstition to assault the palace of the Roman pontiff, must deserve to be considered as the most prof. ligate of the Italians. At the same aera, the Spaniards were the terror both of the Old and New World; but their high-spirited valor was disgraced by gloomy pride, rapacious avarice, and unrelenting cruelty. Indefatigable in the pursuit of fame and riches, they had improved, by repeated practice, the most exquisite and effectual methods of torturing their prisoners: many of the Castilians, who pillaged IRome, were familiars of the holy inquisition, and some volunteers, perhaps, were lately returned from the conquest of Mexico. The Germans were less corrupt than the Italians, less cruel than the Spaniards; and the rustic, or even savage, aspect of those Tramontane warriors, often disguised a simple and merciful disposition. But they had imbibed, in the first fervor of the reformation, the spirit, as well as the principles, of Louther. It was their favorite amusement

110 See Heineccius, Antiquitat. Juris Roman. tom. i. p. 96. 111 Appendix Cod. Theodos, xvi. in Sirmond. Opera, tom. i. p. 735. This edict was published on the 11th of December, A. D. 408, and is more reasonable than properly belonged to the ministers of Honorius. 112 Eminus Igilii sylvosa cacumina miror; Quem fraudare nefas laudis honore suæ. Haec proprios muper tutata est insula saltus; Sive loci ingenio, seu Domini genio. Gurgite cum modico victricibus obstitit armis, Taim tuam longinquo dissociatiu mari. Haec multos lacerå suscepit abuj be fugatos, Hic fessis posito certa timore salus. Plurima terreno populaveral aequora bello, Contra naturam classe timelidus eques: Unum, mira fides, vario discrimine portuin Taui prope Romanis, tam procul esse Getis. Rutilius, in Itinerar. 1. i. 325. The island is now called Giglio. See Cluver. Ital. Antiq. l. ii. p. 502. 113 As the adventures of Proba and lier family are connected with the life of St. Augustin, they are diligently illustrated by Tillemont, Mém. Eccles. tom. xiii. pp. 620–635. Some time after their arrival in Africa, Demetrias took the veil, and made a vow of virginity: an event which was considered as of the highest importance to Rome and to the world. All the Saints wrote congratulatory letters to her; that of Jerom isstill extant (tom. i. pp. 62-73, ad Demetriad. de servanda Virginitat.), and contains a mixture of absurd reasoning, spirited declamation, and eurious facts, some of which relate to the siege and sack of Rome.

[graphic]

titude, &c., de l’Histoire Romaine, p. 356; and Melot, in the Mém. de l'Académie des Inscript. tom. xv. pp. 1-21.

110 The reader who wishe, to inform himself of the circumstances of this famous eyent, may peruse an admirable mariative in Dr. Robertson's History of Charles V. vol. ii. p. 283 ; or consult the Annali d'Italia of the learned Muratori, tom, xiv. #. 230–244, octavo edition. If he is desirous of examining the originals, he may ave recourse to the eighteenth book of the great, but unfinished, history of Guic, ciardini. . But the account which most truly deserves the name of authentic and original, is a little book, entitled, Il Sacco di Roma, composed, within less than a month after the assault of the city, by the brother of the historian Guicciardin?, who appears to have been an able magistrate and a dispassionate writer.

to insult, or destroy, the consecrated objects of Catholic superstition; they indulged, without pity or remorse, a devout hatred against the clergy of every denomination and degree, who form so considerable a part of the inhabitants of modern Itome; and their fanatic zeal might aspire to subvert the throne of Antichrist, to purify, with blood and fire, the abominations of the spiritual Babylon.” The retreat of the victorious Goths, who evacuated Rome on the sixth day,” might be the result of prudence; but it was not surely the effect of fear.” At the head of an army encumbered with rich and weighty spoils, their intrepid leader advanced along the Appian way into the southern provinces of Italy, destroying whatever dared to oppose his passage, and contenting himself with the plunder of the unresisting country. The fate of Capua, the proud and luxurious metropolis of Campania, and which was respected, even in its decay, as the eighth city of the empire,” is buried in oblivion; whilst the adjacent town of Nola" has been illustrated, on this occasion, by the sanctity of Paulinus,” who was successively a consul, a monk, and a bishop. At the age of forty, he renounced the enjoyment of wealth and honor, of society and literature, to embrace a life of solitude and penance; and the loud applause of the clergy encouraged him to despise the reproaches of his worldly friends, who ascribed this desperate act to some disorder of the mind or body.” An early and passionate attachment determined him to fix his humble dwelling in one of the suburbs of Nola, 117 The furious spirit of Luther, the effect of temper and enthusiasm, has been forcibly atta -ked (Bossuet, Hist. des Variations des Eglises Protestantes, livre i. pp. 20–36), and feebly defended (Seckendorf, Comment. de Lutheranismo, especially l. i. No. 78, p. 12", and l. iii. No. 122, p. 556). 115 Marcellinus, in CIlron. Orosius (l. vii. c. 39, p. 575), asserts that he left Rome on the third day; but this difference is easily reconciled by the successive motions of great bodies of troops. 119 Socrates (l. vii. c. 10) pretends, without any color of truth or reason, that Alaric fled on the report that the armies of the Eastern Empire were in full march to attack him. 120 Ausonius de Claris Urbibus, }: 233, edit. Toll. The louxury of Capua had formerly surpassed that of Sybaris itself. See Athenaeus Deipnosophist. 1. xii. p. 528, edit. Casaubon. izi Forty-eight years before the foundation of Rome (about 800 before, the Christian aera), the Tuscans built Capua and Nola, at the distance of twenty-throe miles from each other; but the latter of the two cities never emerged from 1 a sta'e of mediocrity. 122 Tillemont (Mém. Ecclés. tom, xiv. pp. 1–46) has compiled, with his usual diligence, all that relates to the life and writings of Paulinus, whose retreat is celebrated by his own pen, and by the praises of St. Ambrose, St. Jerom, St. Augustin, Sulpicius Severus, &c., his Christian friends and contemporaries, 123 See the affectionate letters of Ausonius (epist. xix.-xxv. pp. 650–698, edit. Toll.) to his colleague, his friend, and his disciple, Paulinus. The religion of Ausonius is still a problem (see Mém. de l’Académie des Inscriptions, tom. xv. pp.

123–138). I believe that it was such in his own time, and, consequently, that his heart he was a Pagan.

« ForrigeFortsett »