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Ror:Y.Y.LIONS OF AFRICA.—RESTORATION OF THE GOTHIC KINGDOM BY TOTILA.—LOSS AND RECOVERY OF ROME.-FINAL conquEST OF ITALY BY NARSEs.-ExTINCTION OF THE OSTROGOTHS.—DEFEAT OF THE FRANKS AND A LEMANN I.LAs"r victor Y, DisgracE, AND DEATH OF BELISARIUS.– DEATH AND CHARACTER OF JUSTINIAN.—COMET, EARTHQUAKES, AND PLAGUE.
THE review of the nations from the Danube to the Nile has exposed, on every side, the weakness of the Romans; and our wonder is reasonably excited that they should presume to enlarge an empire whose ancient limits they were incapable of defending. But the wars, the conquests, and the triumphs of Justinian, are the feeble and pernicious efforts of old age, which exhaust the remains of strength, and accelerate the decay of the powers of life. He exulted in the glorious act of restoring Africa and Italy to the republic; but the calamities which followed the departure of Belisarius betrayed the impotence of the conqueror, and accomplished the ruin of those unfortunate countries. From his new acquisitions, Justinian expected that his avarice, as well as pride, should be richly gratified. A rapacious minister of the finances closely pursued the footsteps of I3elisarius; and as the old registers of tribute had been burnt by the Vandals, he indulged his fancy in a liberal calculation and arbitrary assessment of the wealth of Africa." The increase of taxes, which were drawn away by a distant sovereign, and a general resumption of the patrimony or crown lands, soon dispelled the intoxication of the public joy: but the emperor was insensible to the modest complaints of the people, till he was awakened and alarmed by the clamors of 1 For the troubles of Africa, I neither have nor desire another guide than Procopius, whose eye contemplated the image, and whose ear collected the reports, of the memorable events of his own times. In the second book of the Vandalic war he relates the revolt of Stoza (c. 14-24), the return of Belisarius (c. 15), the victory of Germanus (c. 16, 17, 18), the second administration of Solomon (c. 19, 20, 21), the government of Sergius (c. 22, 23), of Areobindus (c. 24), the #". military discontent. Many of the Roman soldiers had mar. ried the widows and daughters of the Vandals. As their own, by the double right of conquest and inheritance, they claimed the estates which Genseric had assigned to his victorious troops. They heard with disdain the cold and selfish representations of their officers, that the liberality of Justinian had raised them from a savage or servile condition; that they were already enriched by the spoils of Africa, the treasure, the slaves, and the movables of the vanquished Barbarians; and that the ancient and lawful patrimony of the emperors would be applied only to the support of that government on which their own safety and reward must ultimately depend. The mutiny was secretly inflamed by a thousand soldiers, for the most part, Heruli, who had imbibed the doctrines, and were instigated by the clergy, of the Arian sect; and the cause of perjury and rebellion was sanctified by the dispensing powers of fanaticism. The Arians deplored the ruin of their church, triumphant above a century in Africa; and they were justly provoked by the laws of the conqueror, which interdicted the baptism of their children, and the exercise of all religious worship. Of the Vandals chosen by Belisarius, the far greater part, in the honors of the Eastern service, forgot their country and religion. But a generous band of four hundred obliged the mariners, when they were in sight of the Isle of Lesbos, to alter their course: they touched on Peloponnesus, ran ashore on a desert coast of Africa, and boldly erected, on Mount Aurasius, the standard of independence and revolt. While the troops of the province disclaimed the commands of their superiors, a conspiracy was formed at Carthage against the life of Solomon, who filled with honor the place of Belisarius; and the Arians had piously resolved to sacrifice the tyrant at the foot of the altar, during the awful mysteries of the festival of Easter. Fear or remorse restrained the daggers of the assassins, but the patience of Solomon emboldened their discontent; and, at the end of ten days, a furious sedition was kindled in the Circus, which desolated Africa above ten years. The pillage of the city, and the indiscriminate slaughter of its inhabitants, were suspended only by darkness, sleep, and intoxication: the governor, with seven companions, among whom was the historian Procopius, escaped to Sicily: twothirds of the army were involved in the guilt of treason; and eight thousand insurgents, assembling in the field of
and death of Gontharis (c. 25, 26.27, 28); nor can I discern any symptoms of fla tery or malevolence in his various portraits.
Bulla, elected Stoza for their chief, a private soldier, who possessed in a superior degree the virtues of a rebel. Un: der the mask of freedom, his eloquence could lead, or at least impel, the passions of his equals. He raised himself to a level with Belisarius, and the nephew of the emperor, by daring to encounter them in the field; and the victorious generals were compelled to acknowledge that Stoza deserved a purer cause, and a more legitimate command. Vanquished in battle, he dexterously employed the arts of negotiation; a Roman army was seduced from their allegiance, and the chiefs who had trusted to his faithless promise were murdered by his order in a church of Numidia. When every resource, either of force or perfidy, was exhausted, Stoza, with some desperate Vandals, retired to the wilds of Mauritania, obtained the daughter of a Barbarian prince, and eluded the pursuit of his enemies, by the report of his death. The personal weight of Belisarius, the rank, the spirit, and the temper, of Germanus, the emperor's nephew, and the vigor and success of the second administration of the eunuch Solomon, restored the modesty of the camp, and maintained for a while the tranquillity of Africa. Dut the vices of the Byzantine court were felt in that distant province; the troops complained that they were neither paid nor relieved, and as soon as the public disorders were suffi. ciently mature, Stoza was again alive, in arms, and at the gates of Carthage. He fell in a single combat, but he smiled in the agonies of death, when he was informed that his own javelin had reached the heart of his antagonist.* The example of Stoza, and the assurance that a fortunate soldier had been the first king, encouraged the ambition of Gontharis, and he promised, by a private treaty, to divide Africa with the Moors, if, with their dangerous aid, he should ascend the throne of Carthage. The feeble Areobindus, unskilled in the affairs of peace and war, was raised, by his marriage with the niece of Justinian, to the office of exarch. He was suddenly oppressed by a sedition of the guards, and his abject supplications, which provoked the contempt, could not move the pity, of the inexorable tyrant. After a reign of thirty days, Gontharis himself was stabbed at a banquet by the hand of Artaban; * and it is singular enough, that an Armenian prince, of the royal family of Arsaces, should retistablish at Carthage the authority of the Roman empire. In the conspiracy which unsheathed the dagger of Brutus against the life of Caesar, every circumstance is curious and important to the eyes of posterity; but the guilt or merit of these loyal or rebellious assassins could interest only the contemporaries of Procopius, who, by their hopes and fears, their friendship or resentment, were personally engaged in the revolutions of Africa.” That country was rapidly sinking into the state of barbarism from whence it had been raised by the Phoenician colonies and Roman laws; and every step of intestine discord was marked by some deplorable victory of savage man over civilized society. The Moors,” though ignorant of justice, were impatient of oppression: their vagrant life and -boundless wilderness disappointed the arms, and eluded the chains, of a conqueror; and experience had shown, that neither oaths nor obligations could secure the fidelity of their attachment. The victory of Mount Auras had awed them into momentary submission; but if they respected the character of Solomon, they hated and despised the pride and luxury of his two nephews, Cyrus and Sergius, on whom their uncle had imprudently bestowed the provincial governments of Tripoli and Pentapolis. A Moorish tribe encamped under the walls of Leptis, to renew their alliance, and receive from the governor the customary gifts. Fourscore of their deputies were introduced as friends into the city; but on the dark suspicion of a conspiracy, they were massacred at the table of Sergius, and the clamor of arms and revenge was reëchoed through the valleys of Mount Atlas from both the Syrtes to the Atlantic Ocean. A personal injury, the unjust execution or murder of his brother, rendered Antalas the enemy of the Romans. The defeat of the Vandals had formerly signalized his valor; the rudiments of justice and prudence were still more conspicuous in a Moor; and while he laid Adrumetum in ashes, he calmly admonished the emperor that the peace of Africa might be secured by the recall of Solomon and his unworthy nephews. The exarch led forth his troops from Carthage: but, at the distance of six days’ journey, in the neighborhood of Tebeste,” he was astonished by the superior numbers and fierce aspect of the Darbarians. He pro!." a treaty; solicited a reconciliation; and offered to ind himself by the most solemn oaths. “By what oaths can he bind himself?” interrupted the indignant Moors. “Will he swear by the Gospels, the divine books of the Christians? It was on those books that the faith of his nephew Sergius was pledged to eighty of our innocent and unfortunate brethren. Before we trust them a second time, let us try their efficacy in the chastisement of perjury and the vindication of their own honor.” Their honor was vindicated in the field of Tebeste, by the death of Solomon, and the total loss of his army.* The arrival of fresh troops and more skilful commanders soon checked the insolence of the Moors: seventeen of their princes were slain in the same battle; and the doubtful and transient submission of their tribes was celebrated with lavish applause by the people of Constantinople. Successive inroads had reduced the province of Africa to one-third of the measure of Italy; yet the Roman emperors continued to reign above a century over Carthage and the fruitful coast of the Mediterranean. But the victories and the losses of Justinian were alike pernicious to mankind; and such was the desolation of Africa, that in many parts a stranger might wander whole days without meeting the face either of a friend or an enemy. The nation of the Vandals had disappeared: they once amounted
* Corippus gives a different account of the death of Stoza; he was transfixed by an arrow from the hand of John (not the hero of his poem), who broke, desperately through the victorious troops of the enemy., Stoza repented, says the poet, of his treasonous rebellion, and anticipated—another Catiline-eternal torments as his punishment. Reddam, o poenas Quas merui. Furiis socius Catilina cruentis Exagitatus adest. , Video jam Tartara, fundo Flammarumque globos, et clara incendia volvi, Johannidos, book iv. line 211.
All the other authorities confirm Gibbon's account of the death of John by the hand of Stoza. This poem of Corippus, unknown to Gibbon, was first published by Mazzuchelli during the present century, and is reprinted in the new edition of the Byzantine writers.-M.
* Yet I must not refuse him the merit of painting, in lively colors, the murder of Gontharis. Qne of the assassins uttered a sentiment not unworthy of a Roman patriot : “If I fail,” said Artasires, “in the first stroke, kill me on the spot, lest the rack should extort a discovery of my accomplices.” . * The Moorish wars are occasionally introduced into the narrative of Procopius (Vandal. 1. ii. c. 19-23, 25, 27, 28. Gothic. 1. i. v. c. 17); and Theophanes adds some prosperous and adverse events in the last years of Justinian.
"...This murder was prompted to the Armenian (according to Corippus) by the good Athanasius (then praefect of Africa). ( g ppus) by
... Hunc placidus canã gravitate coegit
4 Now Tibesh, in the kingdom of Algiers. It is watered by a river, the Sujerass, which falls into the Mejerda (Bagradas). Tibesh is still remarkable for its walls of large stones (like the Coliseum of Rome), a fountain, and a grove of walnut trees: the country is fruitful, and the neighboring Bereberes are warlike. It appears from an inscription, that, under the reign of Adrian, the road from Carthage to Tebeste was constructed by the third legion (Marmol, Description de l'Afrique, tom. ii. pp. 442, 443. Shaw’s Travels, pp. 64, 65, 66).
* Corippus (Johannidos, lib, iii. 417-441) describes the defeat and death of Solomon.—M.