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Under the Persians, before Christ 500 .... 481
Under the Romans, before Christ 60 ... . . 4S2
INVASION OF QATTL BY ATTILA. — HE IS BEPULSED BT XT1V3 AND THH VISIGOTHS. — ATTILA INVADES AND EVACUATES ITALY.—THE DEATHS OF ATTILA, MT1VS, AND VALENTINIAN THE THIBD.
It was the opinion of Marcian, that war should he avoided, as long as it is possible to preserve a secure and honourable peace; but it was likewise his opinion, that peace cannot be honourable or secure, if the sovereign betrays a pusillanimous aversion to war. This temperate courage dictated his reply to the demands of Attila, who insolently pressed the payment of the annual tribute. The emperor signified to the barbarians, that they must no longer insult the majesty of Rome by the mention of a tribute; that he was disposed to reward, with becoming liberality, the faithful friendship of his allies; but that, if they presumed to violate the public peace, they should feel that he possessed troops, and arms, and resolution, to repel their attacks. The same language, even in the camp of the Huns, was used by his ambassador Apollonius, whose bold refusal to deliver the presents, till he had been admitted to a personal interview, displayed a sense of dignity and a contempt of danger which Attila
VOL. IT. B
CHABACTEB AND ADMINISTEATION [CH. XXXV.
was not prepared to expect from the degenerate Romans.* He threatened to chastise the rash successor of Theodosius; but he hesitated whether he should first direct his invincible arms against the Eastern or the Western empire. While mankind awaited his decision with awful suspense, he sent an equal defiance to the courts of Ravenna and Constantinople; and his ministers salnted the two emperors with the same haughty declaration. "Attila, my lord, and thy lord, commands thee to provide a palace for his immediate reception."f But as the barbarian despised, or affected to despise, the Romans of the east, whom he had so often vanquished, he soon declared his resolution of suspending the easy conquest, till he had achieved a more glorious and important enterprise. In the memorable invasions of Gaul and Italy, the Huns were naturally attracted by the wealth and fertility of those provinces; but the particular motives and provocations of Attila can only be explained by the state of the western empire under the reign of Valentinian, or, to speak more correctly, under the administration of .iEtius. J
After the death of his rival Boniface, ^Etius had prudently retired to the tents of the Huns; and he was indebted to their alliance for his safety and his restoration. Instead of the suppliant language of a guilty exile, he solicited his pardon at the head of sixty thousand barbarians; and the empress Placidia confessed, by a feeble resistance, that the condescension, which might have been ascribed to clemency, was the effect of weakness or fear. She delivered herself, her son Valentinian, and the "Western empire, into the hands of an insolent subject; nor could Placidia protect the sonin-law of Boniface, the virtuous and faithful Sebastian,§
* See Priscus, p. 39. 72. + The Alexandrian or Paschal
Chronicle, which introduces this haughty message during the lifetime of Theodosius, may have anticipated the date; hut the dull annalist was incapable of inventing the original and genuine style of Attila.
t The second book of the Histoire Critique de l'Etablissement de la Monarchie Francoise, tom.i, p. 189—424, throws great light on the state of Gaul, when it was invaded by Attila: but the ingenious author, the Abbe" Dubos, too often bewilders himself in system and conjecture.
§ Victor Vitensis (de Persecut. Vandal. 1.1, c. 6, p. 8, edit. Ruinart) calls him, acer consilio et strenuus in bello; but his courage, when he became unfortunate, was censured as desperate rashness; and Sebastian deserved, or obtained, the epithet of pracept. (Sidon. Apollinar. Carmen 9.181.) His adventures at Constantinople, in Sicily, Gaul, Spain, and Africa, are faintly marked in the Chronicles of Marcellinus
from the implacable persecution, which urged him from one kingdom to another, till he miserably perished in the service of the Vandals. The fortunate ALt ius, who was immediatelypromoted to the rank of patrician and thrice invested with the honours of the consu lship, assumed, with the title of master of the cavalry and infantry, the whole military power of the state ; and he is sometimes styled, by contemporary writers, the duke, or general, of the Romans of the West. His prudence, rather than his virtue, engaged him to leave the grandson of Theodosius in the possession of the purple; and Valentinian was permitted to enjoy the peace and luxury of Italy, while the patrician appeared in the glorious light of a hero and a patriot, who supported near twenty years the ruins of the western empire. The Gothic historian ingenuously confesses, that JEtius was born for the salvation of the Roman republic :* and the following portrait, though it is drawn in the fairest colours, must be allowed to contain a much larger proportion of truth than of flattery. "His mother was a wealthy and noble Italian, and his father Gaudentius, who held a distinguished rank in the province of Scythia, gradually rose, from the station of a military domestic, to the dignity of master of the cavalry. Their son, who was enrolled almost in his infancy, in the guards, was given as a hostage, first to Alaric, and afterwards to the Huns; and he successively obtained the civil and military honours of the palace, for which he was equally qualified by superior merit. The graceful figure of .iEtius was not above the middle stature: but his manly limbs were admirably formed for strength, beauty, and agility; and he excelled in the martial exercises of managing a horse, drawing the bow, and darting the javelin. He could f patiently endure the want of food or of sleep; and his mind and body were alike capable of the most laborious efforts. He possessed the genuine courage that can despise not only dangers but injuries; and it was impossible either to corrupt, or deceive, or intimidate, the firm integrity of his soul."t The barbarians, who had seated themselves in the
and Idatius. In his distress, he was always followed by a numerous train; since he could ravage the Hellespont and Propontis, and seize the city of Barcelona. * Reipublicse Romana; singulariter
natus, qui superbiam Suevorum Francorumque barbariem immensis csedibus servire imperio Romano coegisset. Jornandes de Rebus Ceticis, c. Si, p. 660. + This portrait is drawn by Renatua