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stantinople, his friends, and even the public, were persuaded that as soon as he regained his freedom, he would renounce his dissimulation; and that his wife, Theodora, and perhaps the emperor himself, would be sacrificed to the just revenge of a virtuous rebel. Their hopes were deceived; and the unconquerable patience and loyalty of Belisarius appear either below or above the character of a Man.*
CHAPTER XLII.—State Of The Barbario World.—Establishment
OF THE LOMBARDS ON THE DANUBE.—TRIBES AND INROADS OF THE SOLAVONIANS.—ORIGIN, EMPIRE, AND EMBASSIES OF THE TURKS. —THE FLIGHT OF THE AVARS.—OHOSROES L OR NUSHIRVAN, KING OF PERSIA.—HIS PROSPEROUS REIGN AND WARS WITH THE ROMANS.— THE COLOHIAN OR LAZIO WAR.—THE ETHIOPIANS.
Ovn estimate of personal merit is relative to the common faculties of mankind. The aspiring erforts of genius or virtue, either in active or speculative life, are measured, not so much by their real elevation, as by the height to which they ascend above the level of their age or country; and the same stature, which in a people of giants would pass unnoticed, must appear conspicuous in a race of pigmies. Leonidas, and his three hundred companions, devoted their lives at Thermopylae; but the education of the infant, the boy, and the man, had prepared, and almost ensured, this memorable sacrifice; and each Spartan would approve, rather than admire, an act of duty, of which himself and eight thousand of his fellow-citizens were equally capable.f The great Pompey might inscribe on his trophies, that he had defeated in battle two millions of enemies, and reduced
* The continuator of the chronicle of Marcellinus gives, in a few decent words, the substance of the Anecdotes.—Belisarius de Oriente evocatus, in offensam periculumque incurrens grave, et invidiam subjacens, rursus remittitur in Italiam. (p. 54.) + It will be a
pleasure, not a task, to read Herodotus (1. 7, c. 104. 134, p. 550. 615). The conversation of Xerxes and Demaratus at Thermopylse, is one of the most interesting and moral scenes in history. It was the torture of the royal Spartan to behold, with anguish and remorse, the virtue
fifteen hundred cities from the lake Maeotis to the Eed Sea ;* but the fortune of Rome flew before his eagles; the nations were oppressed by their own fears, and the invincible legions which he commanded had been formed by the habits of conquest, and the discipline of ages. In this view, the character of Belisarius may be deservedly placed above the heroes of the ancient republics. His imperfections flowed from the contagion of the times; his virtues were his own, the free gift of nature or reflection; he raised himself without a master or a rival; and so inadequate were the arms committed to his hand, that his sole advantage was derived from the pride and presumption of his adversaries. Under his command, the subjects of Justinian often deserved to be called Romans: but the unwarlike appellation of Greeks was imposed as a term of reproach by the haughty Goths; who aft'ected to blush, that they must dispute the kingdom of Italy with a nation of tragedians, pantomimes, and pirates.f The climate of Asia has indeed been found less congenial than that of Europe, to military spirit: those populous countries were enervated by luxury, despotism, and superstition; and the monks were more expensive and more numerous than the soldiers of the East. The regular force of the empire had once amounted to six hundred and forty-five thousand men: it was reduced, in the time of Justinian, to one hundred and fifty thousand; and this number, large as it may seem, was thinly scattered over the sea and land; in Spain and Italy, in Africa and Egypt, on the banks of the Danube, the coast of the Euxine, and the frontiers of Persia. The citizen was exhausted, yet the soldier was unpaid; his poverty was mischievously soothed by the privilege of rapine and indolence; and the tardy payments were detained and intercepted by the fraud of those agents who usurp, without courage or danger, the emoluments of war. Public and private distress recruited the armies of the state; but in the field, and still more in the presence of the enemy, their numbers were always defec
of his country. * See this proud inscription in Pliny. (Hist.
Natur. 7. 27.) Few men have more exquisitely tasted of glory and disgrace: nor could Juvenal (Satir. 10,) produce a more striking example of the vicissitudes of fortune, and the vanity of human wishes.
+ rpauroic s£ Siv ra irportpa ovSsva is 'lrakiav tfnovra ttlov, on firi rpayipSovg, cai vavras Xw7roMrae. This last epithet of Procopius is too nobly translated by pirates; naval thieves is the proper worda: A.D. 523-505.] STATE OF THE BAEBABIANS. 441
tive. The want of national spirit was supplied by the precarious faith and disorderly service of barbarian mercenaries. Even military honour, which has often survived the loss of virtue and freedom, was almost totally extinct. The generals, who were multiplied beyond the example of former times, laboured only to prevent the success, or to sully the reputation, of their colleagues; and they had been taught by experience, that if merit sometimes provoked the jealousy, error or even guilt would obtain the indulgence, of a gracious emperor.* In such an age the triumphs of Belisarius, and afterwards of Narses, shine with incomparable lustre ; but they are encompassed with the darkest shades of disgrace and calamity. While the lieutenant of Justinian subdued the kingdoms of the Goths and Vandals, the emperor,t timid, though ambitious, balanced the forces of the barbarians, fomented their divisions by flattery and falsehood, and invited by his patience and liberality the repetition of injuries.! The keys of Carthage, Rome, and Ravenna, were presented to their conqueror, while Antioch was destroyed by the Persians, and Justinian trembled for the safety of Constantinople.
Even the Gothic victories of Belisarius were prejudicial to the state, since they abolished the important barrier of the Upper Danube, which had been so faithfully guarded by Theodoric and his daughter. Eor the defence of Italy, the Goths evacuated Pannonia and Noricum, which they left in a peaceful and flourishing condition: the sovereignty was claimed by the emperor of the Romans: the actual possession was abandoned to the boldness of the first invader. On the opposite banks of the Danube, the plains of Upper Hungary and the Transylvanian hills were possessed, since the death of Attila, by the tribes of the Gepidse, who respected the Gothic arms, and despised, not indeed the gold of the Romans, but the secret motive of their annual subsidies. The vacant fortifications of the river were in
jitrippers of garments, either for injury or insult. (Demosthenes contra Conon., in Reiske, Orator. Grsec. tom. ii, p. 1264.)
* See the third and fourth books of the Gothic war: the writer of the Anecdotes cannot aggravate these abuses. + Agathias,
1. 5, p. 157, 158. He confines this weakness of the emperor and the empire to the old age of Justinian; but, alas ! he was never young.
X This mischievous policy which Procopius (Anecdot. c. 19) imputes to the emperor, is revealed in his epistle to a Scythian prince
stantly occupied by these barbarians: their standards were planted on the walls of Sirmium and Belgrade; and the ironical tone of their apology aggravated this insult on the majesty of the empire. "So extensive, O Ceesar, are your dominions; so numerous are your cities; that you are continually seeking for nations to whom, either in peace or war, you may relinquish these useless possessions. The Gepidse are your brave and faithful allies; and if they have anticipated your gifts, they have shown a just confidence in your bounty." Their presumption was excused by the mode of revenge which Justinian embraced. Instead of asserting the rights of a sovereign for the protection of his subjects, the emperor invited a strange people to invade and possess the Eoman provinces between the Danube and the Alps; and the ambition of the Gepidoe was checked by the rising power and fame of the Lombards.* This corrupt appellation
who was capable of understanding it. "Ayav irpo/*i)0>J Kai ayxlvoioTaTov, says Agathias. (1. 5, p. 170, 171.)
* Gens Germana feritate forocior, says Velleius Paterculus of the Lombards (2. 106). Langobardos paucitas nobilitat. Plurimis ac valentissimis nationibus cincti non per obsequium sed prseliis et periclitando tuti sunt. (Tacit. de Moribus German, c. 40.) See likewise Strabo (1. 7, p. 446). The best geographers place them beyond the Elbe, in the bishopric of Magdeburgh and the middle march of Brandenburgh; and their situation will agree with the patriotic remark of the count de Hertzburg, that most of the barbarian conquerore issued from the same countries which still produce the armies of Prussia. [Easy submission to authority long accepted the derivation of the name of Longobardi from the length of their beards. A more judicious criticism has of late deduced it from the long-handled battle-axe, which armed them. (See Latham's Germania of Tacitus, p. 139.) Barthe, from baerja, baren, to strike, was an ancient German term for a hatchet or axe. (See Adelung, Worterbuch, 1. 659. 2. 1095. 3. 971.) Lange barthen were, therefore, long axes, which, in reduced dimensions have descended lo later times as halberds. The patronymic given to the bearers of these, exercised the ingenuity of Leibnitz, in his Brunswick Antiquities, Von Ludwig, in his Life of Justinian, Spangenberg, and many others. Their Scandinavian origin was added by Paulus Diaconus to the numerous fables of the age respecting a trans-Baltic nursery of nations. It has been doubted by muny writers, whether they were at first a distinct tribe, or only differently armed sections of others, for some have found them among Sueves, Vandals, Herulians, Goths, and even Saxons. Tacitus (Germ. 40) having only heard the name, might mistake it for that of a people. No early abode has been satisfactorily ascertained for them. When they at last united into one body, and made their way
has been diffused in the thirteenth century by the merchants and bankers, the Italian posterity of these savage warriors: but the original name of Langobards is expressive only of the peculiar length and fashion of their beards. I am not disposed either to question or to justify their Scandinavian origin;* nor to pursue the migrations of the Lombards through unknown regions and marvellous adventures. About the time of Augustus and Trajan, a ray of historic light breaks on the darkness of their antiquities, and they are discovered, for the first time, between the Elbe and the Oder. Fierce beyond the example of the Germans, they delighted to propagate the tremendous belief, that their heads were formed like the heads of dogs, and that they drank the blood of their enemies whom they vanquished in battle. The smallness of their numbers was recruited by the adoption of their bravest slaves; and alone, amidst their powerful neighbours, they defended by arms their highspirited independence. In the tempest of the north, which overwhelmed so many names and nations, this little bark of the Lombards still floated on the surface: they gradually descended towards the south and the Danube: and at the end of four hundred years they again appear with their ancient valour and renown. Their manners were not less ferocious. The assassination of a royal guest was executed in the presence, and by the command, of the king's daughter, who had been provoked by some words of insult, and disappointed by his diminutive stature; and a tribute, the price of blood, was imposed on the Lombards, by his brother, the king of the Heruli. Adversity revived a sense of moderation and justice, and the insolence of conquest was chastised by the signal defeat and irreparable dispersion of the Heruli,
southward, they had to fight for a passage through the intermediate tracts, the occupiers of which first attempted to arrest their progress and then joined in their enterprise. Thus when Alboin entered Italy, he was the leader, not only of his own Langebarthen, but also of a mixed band of Suevi, Fannonians, Noricians, and even Bulgarians. Niebuhr (Lectures, 3. 230. 287) supposed the Juthungi, who never appear but in the time of Gallienus, to have been the "reigning dynasty of the Lombards." But this name was only another form of the Gruthungi or Guthungi, for whom see vol. iii, p. 203.—Ed.]
* The Scandinavian origin of the Goths and Lombards, as stated by Paul Warnefrid, surnamed the Deacon, is attacked by Cluverius, (Germania Antiq. 1 . 3, c. 26, p. 102, &c.) a native of Prussia, and