Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

they advanced without delay to seek a superior enemy, and the two armies approached each other at the distance of one hundred furlongs, between Tagina” and the sepulchres of the Gauls.” The haughty message of Narses was an offer, not of peace, but of pardon. The answer of the Gothic king declared his resolution to die or conquer. “What day,” said the messenger, “will you fix for the combat?” “The eighth day,” replied Totila; but early the next morning he attempted to surprise a foe, suspicious of deceit, and prepared for battle. Ten thousand Heruli and Lombards, of approved valor and doubtful faith, were placed in the centre. Each of the wings was composed of eight thousand Romans; the right was guarded by the cavalry of the Huns, the left was covered by fifteen hundred chosen horse, destined, according to the emergencies of action, to sustain the retreat of their friends, or to encompass the flank of the enemy. From his proper station at the head of the right wing, the eunuch rode along the line, expressing by his voice and countenance the assurance of victory; exciting the soldiers of the emperor to punish the guilt and madness of a band of robbers, and exposing to their view gold chains, collars, and bracelets, the rewards of military virtue. From the event of a single combat they drew an omen of success; and they beheld with pleasure the courage of fifty archers, who maintained a small eminence against three successive attacks of the Gothic cavalry. At the distance only of two bow-shots, the armies spent the morning in dreadful suspense, and the Romans tasted some necessary food, without unloosing the cuirass from their breast, or the bridle from their horses. Narses awaited the charge; and it was delayed by Totila till he had received his last succors of two thousand Goths. While he consumed the hours in fruitless treaty, the king exhibited in a narrow space the strength and agility of a warrior. His armor was enchased with gold; his purple banner floated with the wind; he cast his lance into the air; caught it with the right hand; shifted it to the left; threw himself backwards; recovered his seat: and managed a fiery steed in all the paces and evolutions of the equestrian school. As soon as the succors had arrived, he retired to his tent, assumed the dress and arms of a private soldier, and gave the signal of battle. The first line of cavalry advanced with more courage than discretion, and left behind them the infantry of the second line. They were soon engaged between the horns of a crescent, into which the adverse wings had been insensibly curved, and were saluted from either side by the volleys of four thousand archers. Their ardor, and even their distress, drove them forwards to a close and unequal conflict, in which they could only use their lances against an enemy equally skilled in all the instruments of war. A generous emulation inspired the Ikomans and their Barbarian allies; and Narses, who calmly viewed and directed their efforts, doubted to whom he should adjudge the prize of superior bravery. The Gothic cavalry was astonished and disordered, pressed and broken ; and the line of infantry, instead of presenting their spears, or opening their intervals, were trampled under the feet of the flying horse. Six thousand of the Goths were slaughtered without mercy in the field of Tagina. Their prince, with five attendants, was overtaken by Asbad, of the race of the Gepidae. “Spare the king of Italy,” “ cricq a loyal voice, and Asbad struck his lance through the body of Totila. The blow was instantly revenged by the faithful Goths: they transported their dying monarch seven miles beyond the scene of his disgrace; and his last moments were not imbittered by the presence of an enemy. Compassion afforded him the shelter of an obscure tomb ; but the Romans were not satisfied of their victory, till they beheld the corpse of the Gothic king. His hat, enriched with gems, and his bloody robe, were presented to Justinian by the messengers of triumph.” As soon as Narses had paid his devotions to the Author of victory, and the blessed Virgin, his peculiar patroness,” he praised, rewarded, and dismissed the Lombards. The villages had been reduced to ashes by these valiant savages; they ravished matrons and virgins on the altar; their retreat was diligently watched by a strong detachment of regular forces, who prevented a repetition of the like disorders. The victorious eunuch pursued his march through Tuscany, accepted the submission of the Goths, heard the acclama-. tions, and often the complaints, of the Italians, and encompassed the walls of Rome with the remainder of his formidable host. Itound the wide circumference, Narses assigned to himself, and to each of his lieutenants, a real or a feigned attack, while he silently marked the place of easy and unguarded entrance. Neither the fortifications of Hadrian's mole, nor of the port, could long delay the progress of the conqueror; and Justinian once more received the keys of Rome, which, under his reign, had been five times taken and recovered.” But the deliverance of Rome was the last calamity of the Roman people. The Barbarian allies of Narses too frequently confounded the privileges of peace and war. The despair of the flying Goths found some consolation in sanguinary revenge; and three hundred youths of the noblest families, who had been sent as hostages beyond the Po, were inhumanly slain by the successor of Totila. The fate of the senate suggests an awful lesson of the . vicissitude of human affairs. Of the senators whom Totila : had banished from their country, some were rescued by an officer of Belisarius, and transported from Campania to Sicily; while others were too guilty to confide in the clemency of Justinian, or too poor to provide horses for their escape to the sea-shore. Their brethren languished five years in a state of indigence and exile: the victory of Narses revived their hopes; but their premature return to the metropolis was prevented by the furious Goths; and all the fortresses of Campania were stained with patrician * blood. . After a period of thirteen centuries, the institution of Romulus expired; and if the nobles of IRome still assumed the title of senators, few subsequent traces can be discovered of a public council, or constitutional order. Ascend six hundred years, and contemplate the kings of the earth soliciting an audience, as the slaves or freedmen of the Roman senate | * I 39 "Emot Touroy Bagossovros ré Téortov taxoo. Fo: Goth. lib, iy. p. 33.] in the year 536 by Belisarius, in 546 by Totila, in 547 by Belisarius, in 549 by Totila, and in 552 by Narses. Maltretus had inadvertently translated seroum : a mistake which he afterwards retracts : but the mischief was done ; and Cousin, with a train of French and Latin readers, have fallen into the snare. * Compare two passages of Procopius (l. iii. c. 26, 1. iv. c. : 4), which, with some coilateral hints from Marcellinus and Jornandes, illustrate the state of the expiring senate.

* Taginae, or rather Tadinae, is mentioned by Pliny ; but the bishopric of that obscure town, a mile from Gualdo, in the plain, was united, in the year 1007, with that of Nocera. The signs of antiquity are preserved in the local appellations, Fossato, the camp : Caprava, Caprea; Bastva, Busta Gallorum. See Cluverius (Italia Antiqua, I. ii. c. 6, pp. 615,616, 617), Lucas Holstenius (Annotat. ad Cluver. pp. 85, 86). Guazzesi (IOissertat. pp. 177–217, a professed inquiry), and the maps of the ecclesiastical state and the march of Ancona, by Le Maire and Magini

* The battle was fought in the year of Rome, 458; and the consul Decius, by devoting his own life, assured the triumph of his country and his colleague Fabius (T: , Liv x. 28, 29). Procopius ascribes to Camillus the victory of the Busta, Gallorum ; and his error is branded by Cluverius with the national reproach of Graecorum nugamenta.

37 Theophanes, Chron. p. 193. Hist. Miscell. 1. xvi. p. 108. * Evagrius, l. iv. c. 24. The inspiration of the Virgin revealed to Narses the day, and the word, of battle (Paul Diacon. l. ii. c. 3, p. 776).

* “Dog, wilt thou strike thy Lord?” was the more characteristic exclamation of the Gothic youth. Procop. lib. iv. p. 32.-M.

* See, in the example of Prusias, as it is delivered in the fragments of Poly. bius (Excerpt. Legat. xcvii. pp. 927, 928), a curious picture of a royal slave.

The Gothic war was yet alive. The bravest of the nation retired beyond the Po; and Teias was unanimously chosen to succeed and revenge their departed hero. The new king immediately sent ambassadors to implore, or rather to purchase, the aid of the Franks, and nobly lavished, for the public safety, the riches which had been deposited in the palace of Pavia. The residue of the royal treasure was guarded by his brother Aligern, at Cumae, in Campania; but the strong castle which Totila had fortified was closely besieged by the arms of Narses. From the Alps to the foot of Mount Vesuvius, the Gothic king, by rapid and secret marches, advanced to the relief of his brother, eluded the vigilance of the Roman chiefs, and pitched his camp on the banks of the Sarnus or Draco,” which flows from Nuceria into the Bay of Naples. The river separated the two armies: sixty days were consumed in distant and fruitless combats, and Teias maintained this important post till he was deserted by his fleet and the hope of subsistence. With reluctant steps he ascended the Lactarian mount, where the phy. sicians of Rome, since the time of Galen, had sent their patients for the benefit of the air and the milk.” But the Goths soon embraced a more generous resolution: to descend the hill, to dismiss their horses, and to die in arms, and In the possession of freedom. The king marched at their head, bearing in his right hand a lance, and an ample buckler in his left: with the one he struck dead the foremost of the assailants; with the other he received the weapons which every hand was ambitious to aim against his life. After a combat of many hours, his left arm was fatigued by the weight of twelve javelins which hung from his shield. Without moving from his ground, or suspending his blows, the hero called aloud on his attendants for a fresh buckler; but in the moment while his side was uncovered, it was pierced by a mortal dart. He fell; and his head, exalted on a spear, proclaimed to the nation that the Gothic kingdom was no more. But the example of his death served only to animate the companions who had sworn to perish with their leader. They fought till darkness descended on the earth. They reposed on their arms. The combat was renewed with the return of light, and maintained with unabated vigor till the evening of the second day. The repose of a second night, the want of water, and the loss of their bravest champions, determined the surviving Goths to accept the fair capitulation which the prudence of Narses was inclined to propose. They embraced the alternative of residing in Italy, as the subjects and soldiers of Justinian, or departing with a portion of their private wealth, in search of some independent country.” Yet the oath of fidelity or exile was alike rejected by one thousand Goths, who broke away before the ...? WaS signed, and boldly effected their retreat to the walls of Pavia. The spirit, as well as the situation, of Algern prompted him to imitate rather than to bewail his brother: a strong and dexterous archer, he transpierced with a single arrow the armor and breast of his antagonist; and his military conduct defended Cumae “ above a year against the forces of the Romans. Their industry had scooped the Sibyl's cave * into a prodigious mine; combustible materials were introduced to consume the temporary props: the wall and the gate of Cumae sunk into the cavern, but the ruins formed a deep and inaccessible precipice. On the fragment of a rock Allgern stood alone and unshaken, till he calmly surveyed the hopeless condition of his country, and judged it more honorable to be the friend of Narses, than the slave of the Franks. After the death of Teias, the Roman general separated his troops to reduce the cities of Italy; Lucca sustained a long and vigorous siege : and such was the humanity or the prudence of Narses, that the repeated perfidy of the inhabitants could not provoke him to exact the for. feit lives of their hostages. These hostages were dismissed in safety; and their grateful zeal at length subdued the obstinacy of their countrymen.”

* The Apaixov of Procopius (Goth. 1. iv. c. 35) is evidently the Sarnus. The text is accused or altered by the rash violence of Cluverius (I. lv. c. 3, p. 1156): but Camillo Pellegrini of Naples (Discorsi sopra la Campania Felice, pp. 330, 331 has proved from old records, that as early as the year 822 that river was calle the Dracontio, or I)raconcello.

* Galen, (de Method. Medendi, 1. v. apud Cluver. l. iv. c. 3, pp. 1159, 1160) describes the losty site, pure air, and rich milk, of Mount Lactarius, whose medicinal benefits were equally known and sought in the time of Symmachus (l, X opist. 18) anol Cassiodorus (Var. xi. 10). Nothing is now left except the name of the town of Lettere.

* Buat (tom. xi. p. 2, &c.) conveys to his favorite Bavaria this remnant of Goths, who by others are buried in the mountains of Uli, or restored to their native isle of Gothland (Mascou, Annot. xxi.). .* I leave Scaliger (Animadvers. in Euseb. p. 59) and Salmasius (Exereitat. Plimian. pp. 51, 52) to quarrel about the origin of Cumae, the oldest of the Greek colonies in Italy (Strab. 1. v. p. 372, Velleius Paterculus, l. i. c. 4), already vacant in Juvenal's time (Satir. iii.), and now in ruins. * Agathias (l. i. c. 21) settles the Sibyl's cave under the wall of Cumae: hr. agrees with Servius (ad l. vi. AFneid.); nor can I perceive why their opinion should be rejected by Heyne, the excellent editor of Virgil (tom. ii. pp. 650, 651). In urbe media secreta religio ! But Cumae was not yet built ; and the lines (1. vi. 96.97) would become ridiculous, if AEneas were actually in a Greek city. “There is some difficulty in cominecting the 35th chapter of the fourth book of the Gothie war of Procopius with the first book of the so of Agathias. We ow relinquish a statesman and soldier, to attend the footsteps of a poet

and rhetorician (i. i. p. 11, l. ii. p. 51, editiouvie).” o

« ForrigeFortsett »