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MAItEIAGE OF ATTILA "WITH ILDICO. [CH. XXXV.
pressing eloquence of Leo, his majestic aspect, and sacerdotal robes, excited the veneration of Attila for the spiritual father of the Christians. The apparition of the two apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, who menaced the barbarian with instant death if he rejected the prayer of their successor, is one of the noblest legends of ecclesiastical tradition. The safety of Rome might deserve the interposition of celestial beings; and some indulgence is due to a fable, which has been represented by the pencil of Eaphael, and the chisel of Algardi.*
Before the ting of the Huns evacuated Italy, he threatened to return more dreadful and more implacable, if his bride, the princess Honoria, were not delivered to his ambassadors within the term stipulated by the treaty. Yet, in the meanwhile, Attila relieved his tender anxiety by adding a beautiful maid, whose name was Udico, to the list of his innumerable wives.f Their marriage was celebrated with barbaric pomp and festivity, at his wooden palace beyond the Danube; and the monarch, oppressed with wine and sleep, retired at a late hour from the banquet to the nuptial bed. His attendants continued to respect his pleasures or his repose the greatest part of the ensuing day, till the unusual silence alarmed their fears and suspicions; and, after attempting to awaken Attila by loud and repeated cries, they at length broke into the royal apartment. They found the trembling bride sitting by the
have discerned the real motive of Alaric's retreat, which was that the troops, laden with booty, were satisfied and wished to place in security what they had acquired, without exposing themselves or their gains to farther danger.—Ed.] * The picture of Raphael is in the Vati
can; the basso (or perhaps the alto) relievo of Algardi, on one of the altars of St. Peter. (See Dubos, Reflexions sur la Poesie et sur la Peinture, tom, i, p. 519, 520.) Baronius (Annal. Kecles. A.d. 452. No. 57, 58) bravely sustains the truth of the apparition; which is rejected, however, by the most learned and pious Catholics. + Attila, ut Priscus historicus refert, extinctionis sute tempore, puellam lldico nomine, decoram valde, sibi matrimonium post innumerabilee uxores . . eocians. Jornandes, c. 49, p. 683, 684. He afterwards adds, (c. 50, p. 686): Filii Attilse, quorum per licentiam libidinis poene populus fuit. Polygamy has been established among the Tartars of every age. The rank of plebeian wives is regulated only by their personal charms: and the faded matron prepares, without a murmur, the bed which is destined for her blooming rival. But in royal families the daughters of khans communicate to their sons a prior right of inheritance. See Genealogical History, p. 406—403.
A.D. 453.] . HIS DEATH. 35
bedside, hiding her face with her veil, and lamenting her own danger as well as the death of the king, who had expired during the night.* An artery had suddenly burst; and as Attila lay in a supine posture, he was suffocated by a torrent of blood, which, instead of finding a passage through the nostrils, regurgitated into the lungs and stomach. His body was solemnly exposed in the midst ot the plain, under a silken pavilion, and the chosen squadrons of the Huns, wheeling round in measured evolutions, chanted a funeral song to the memory of a hero glorious in his life, invincible in his death, the father of his people, the scourge of his enemies, and the terror of the world. According to their national custom, the barbarians cut off a part of their hair, gashed their faces with unseemly wounds, and bewailed their valiant leader as he deserved, not with the tears of women, but with the blood of warriors. The remains of Attila were inclosed within three coffins, of gold, of silver, and of iron, and privately buried in the night: the spoils of nations were thrown into his grave; the captives who had opened the ground were inhumanly massacred: and the same Huns who had indulged such excessive grief, feasted with dissolute and intemperate mirth about the recent sepulchre of their king. It was reported at Constantinople that, on the fortunate night on which he expired, Marcian beheld in a dream the bow of Attila broken asunder: and the report may be allowed to prove, how seldom the image of that formidable barbarian was absent from the mind of a Roman emperor.f
The revolution which subverted the empire of the Huns established the fame of Attila, whose genius alone had sustained the huge and disjointed fabric. After his death the boldest chieftains aspired to the rank of kings; the most powerful kings refused to acknowledge a superior; and the numerous sons whom so many various mothers bore to the
* The report of her guilt reached Constantinople, where it obtained a very different name; and Marcellinus observes, that the tyrant of Europe was slain in the night by the hand and the knife of a woman. Corneille, who has adapted the genuine account to his tragedy, describes the irruption of blood in forty bombast lines, and Attila exclaims, with ridiculous fury,
S'il ne veut s'arreter (his Mood),
(Dit-il) on me payera ce qu'il m'en va couter. + The curious circumstances of the death and funeral of Attila are
deceased monarch divided and disputed, like a privates inheritance, the sovereign command of the nations of Geranany and Scythia. The bold Ardaric felt and represented the disgrace of this servile partition; and his subjects, the "warlike Gepidae, with the Ostrogoths, under the conduct of three valiant brothers, encouraged their allies to vindicate the rights of freedom and royalty. In a bloody and decisive conflict on the banks of the river Netad, in Pannonia, the lance of the Gepidse, the sword of the Goths, the arrows of the Huns, the Suevic infantry, the light arms of the Heruli, and the heavy weapons of the Alani, encountered or supported each other; and the victory of Ardaric was accompanied with the slaughter of thirty thousand of his enemies. Ellac, the eldest son of Attila, lost his life and crown in the memorable battle of Netad: his early valour had raised him to the throne of the Acatzires, a Scythian people whom he subdued; and his father, who loved the superior merit, would have envied the death of Ellac* His brother Dengisich, with an army of Huns, still formidable in their flight and ruin, maintained his ground above fifteen years on the banks of the Danube. The palace of Attila, with the old country of Dacia, from the Carpathian hills to the Euxine, became the seat of a new power, which was erected by Ardaric, king of the Gepidae.f The Pannonian conquests, from Vienna to Sirmium were occupied by the Ostrogoths; and the settlements of the tribes who had so bravely asserted their native freedom were irregularly distributed, according to the measure of their respective strength. Surrounded and oppressed by the multitude of his father's slaves, the kingdom of Dengisich was confined to the circle of his wagons; his desperate courage urged him to invade the Eastern
related by Jornandes (e. 49, p. 683—685), and were probably transcribed from Priscus. * See Jornandes, de Rebus Geticis, c. 50,
p. 685—688. His distinction of the national arms is curious and important. Nam ibi admirandum reor fuisse spectaculum, ubi cernere erat cunctis, pugnantem Gothum ense furentem. Gepidam in vulnero suorum cuncta tela frangentem, Suevum pede, Hunnum sagitta prasumere, Alanuni gravi, Herulum levi armatunt aciem instruere. I am not precisely informed of the situation of the river Netad.
+ [Who were the Gepidse? We find them for a about a century performing an actual part on the stage of the world, after which they disappear, and this is all that we know of them. Yet this little set the
empire; he fell in battle; and his head, ignominiously exposed in the Hippodrome, exhibited a grateful spectacle to the people of Constantinople. Attila had fondly or superstitiously believed, that Irnac, the youngest of his sons, was destined to perpetuate the glories of his race. The character of that prince, who attempted to moderate the rashness of his brother Dengisich, was more suitable to the declining condition of the Huns; and Irnac, with his subject hordes, retired into the heart of the Lesser Scythia. They were soon overwhelmed by a torrent of new barbarians, who followed the same road which their own ancestors had formerly discovered. The Geougen or Avars, whose residence is assigned by the Greek writers to the shores of the ocean, impelled the adjacent tribes; till at length the Igours of the north, issuing from the cold Siberian regions, which produce the most valuable furs, spread themselves over the desert, as far as the Borysthenes and the Caspian gates; and finally extinguished the empire of the Huns.*
Such an event might contribute to the safety of the Eastern empire, under the reign of a prince, who conciliated the friendship, without forfeiting the esteem of the barbarians. But the emperor of the West, the feeble and dissolute Valentinian, who had reached his thirty-fifth year without attaining the age of reason or courage, abused this apparent security, to undermine the foundations of his own throne, by the murder of the patrician -3itius. From the instinct of a base and jealous mind, he hated the man who was universally celebrated as the terror of the barbarians, and the support of the republic; and his new favourite, the eunuch Heraclius, awakened the emperor from the supine lethargy, which might be disguised, during the life of Placidia,f by the excuse of filial piety. The fame of ^Etius,
ancients on imagining various origins for them, among which that of Jornandes (p. 39) is the most fabulous. They were evidently some Gothic band which, after a term of separation, merged among the Ostrogoths.—Ed.] * Two modern historians have thrown
much new light on the ruin and division of the empire of Attila. M. de Buat, by his laborious and minute diligence (tom, viii, p. 3—31, 6S—94), and M. de Guignes, by his extraordinary knowledge of the Chinese language and writers. See Hist, doa Huns, tom, ii, p. 315—319.
+ Placidia died at Rome, November 27, A.d. 450. She was buried at Ravenna, where her sepulchre, and even her corpse, seated in a chair
his wealth and dignity, the numerous and martial train of barbarian followers, his powerful dependents, who filled the civil offices of the state, and the hopes of his son Gaudentius, who was already contracted to Eudoxia, the emperor's daughter, had raised him above the rank of a subject. The ambitious designs of which he was secretly accused, excited the fears, as well as the resentment of Valentinian. .5£tius himself, supported by the consciousness of his merit, his services, and perhaps his innocence, seems to have maintained a haughty and indiscreet behaviour. The patrician offended his sovereign by a hostile declaration; he aggravated the offence, by compelling him to ratify with a solemn oath, a treaty of reconciliation and alliance; he proclaimed his suspicions; he neglected his safety; and from a vain confidence that the enemy whom he despised, was incapable even of a manly crime, he rashly ventured his person in the palace of Rome. Whilst he urged, perhaps with intemperate vehemence, the marriage of his son, Valentinian, drawing his sword, the first sword he had ever drawn, plunged it in the breast of a general who had saved his empire; his courtiers and eunuchs ambitiously struggled to imitate their master; and JEtius, pierced with a hundred wounds, fell dead in the royal presence. Boethius, the praetorian prelect, was killed at the same moment; and before the event could be divulged, the principal friends of the patrician were summoned to the palace, and separately murdered. The horrid deed, palliated by the specious names of justice and necessity, was immediately communicated by the emperor to his soldiers, his subjects, and
iEtius, generously deplored the unworthy fate of a hero; the barbarians who had been attached to his service, dissembled their grief and resentment; and the public contempt which had been so long entertained for Valentinian, was at once converted into deep and universal abhorrence. Such sentiments seldom pervade the walls of a palace; yet the emperor was confounded by the honest reply of a Roman, whose approbation he had not disdained to solicit. "I am ignorant, sir, of your motives or provocations; I only
of cypresa wood, were preserved for ages. The empress received many compliments from the orthodox clergy; and St. Peter Chrysologus assured her, that her zeal for the Trinity had been recompensed by an
strangers or enemies to