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was their only consolation and support. He generously sold the gold and silver plate of the church to purchase the freedom of some, to alleviate the slavery of others, and to assist the wants and infirmities of a captive multitude, "whose health was impaired by the hardships which they had suffered in their passage from Italy to Africa. By his order two spacious churches were converted into hospitals: the sick were distributed in convenient beds, and liberally supplied with food and medicines; and the aged prelate repeated his visits, both in the day and night, with an assiduity that surpassed his strength, and a tender sympathy which enhanced the value of his services. Compare this scene with the field of Cannae; and judge between Hannibal and the successor of St. Cyprian.*
The deaths of JEtius and Valentinian had relaxed the ties which held the barbarians of Gaul in peace and subordination. The sea-coast was infested by the Saxons; the Allemanni and the Franks advanced from the Rhine to the Seine; and the ambition of the Goths seemed to meditate more extensive and permanent conquests. The emperor Maximus relieved himself, by a judicious choice, from the weight of these distant cares; life silenced the solicitations
and the victims of Genseric's irruption were Nicenists. Orthodox writers, therefore, coldly acknowledged the assistance which he so generously bestowed, and his own sect upbraided his tender mercies for unbelievers. Gibbon might have raised him much higher by contrasting his principle of action with that of Leo the great, on a very similar occasion. Among the Africans who sought an asylum at Rome when Carthage was attacked by the Vandals, there was a large proportion of Manicha:ans and Pelagians. Instead of commiserating the unfortunate outcasts, Leo ordered that their creeds should be strictly inquired into, directed his clergy and true believers to repel all heretics, and obtained an imperial decree, by which they were either banished, imprisoned, or otherwise treated with the most rigorous severity. (Zedler's Lexicon, 17, p. 155. Neander, Hist, of Chris. 4. 489, 490.) The name of Deogratias, which deserves to be placed far above that of Leo, can seldom be found on the page of an ancient writer, and has scarcely a place in modern ecclesiastical histories or in "biographies of eminent men. The mere attempt to make it remembered, is a gratifying effort.—Ed.] * The general evidence for the death of Maximus, and the sack of Rome by the Vandals, is comprised in Sidonius (Panegyr. Avit. 441—450), Procopius (de Bell. Vandal. 1.I, c. 4,5, p. 188,189, and 1.2, c. 9, p. 255), Evagrius (1 . 2, c. 7), Jornandes (De Reb. Geticis, c. 45, p. 677), and the Chronicles of Idatius, Prosper, Marcellinus, and Theophanes, under the proper year. VOL. IV. H
of his friends, listened to the voice of fame, and promoted a stranger to the general command of the forces in Gaul. Avitus,* the stranger, whose merit was so nobly rewarded, descended from a wealthy and honourable family in the diocese of Auvergne. The convulsions of the times urged him to embrace, with the same ardour, the civil and military professions; and the indefatigable youth blended the studies of literature and jurisprudence with the exercise of arms and hunting. Thirty years of his life were laudably spent in the public service; he alternately displayed his talents in war and negotiation; and the soldier of ^Etius, after executing the most important embassies, was raised to the station of praetorian prefect of Gaul. Either the merit of Avitus excited envy, or his moderation was desirous of repose, since he calmly retired to an estate, which he possessed in the neighbourhood of Clermont. A copious stream, issuing from the mountain, and falling headlong in many a loud and foaming cascade, discharged its waters into a lake about two miles in length, and the villa was pleasantly seated on the margin of the lake. The baths, the porticoes, the summer and winter apartments, were adapted to the purposes of luxury arid use; and the adjacent country afforded the various prospects of woods, pastures, and meadows.f In this retreat, where Avitus amused his leisure with books, rural sports, the practice of husbandry, and the society of his friends,} he received the imperial diploma, which constituted him master-general of the cavalry and infantry of Gaul. He assumed the military command; the
* The private live and elevation of Avitus must be deduced, with, becoming suspicion, from the panegyric pronounced by Sidonius Apollinaris, his subject, and his son-in-law.
+ After the example of the younger Pliny, Sidonius (lib. 2, c. 2) has laboured the florid, prolix, and obscure description of his villa, which bore the name (Avitacum), and had been the property of Avitus. The precise situation is not ascertained. Consult however the notes of Savaron and Sirmond. t Sidonius (lib. 2, epist. 9) has
described the country life of the Gallic nobles, in a visit which he made to his friends, whose estates were in the neighbourhood of Nismes. The morning-hours were spent in the sphceristerium, or tenniscourt; or in the library, which was furnished with Latin authors, profane and religious; the former for the men, the latter for the ladies. The table was twice served, at dinner and supper, with hot meat (boiled and roast) and wine. During the intermediate time, the company slept, took the air on horseback, and used the warm bath.
barbarians suspended their fury; and 'whatever means he might employ, whatever concessions he might be forced to make, the people enjoyed the benefits of actual tranquillity. But the fate of Gaul depended on the Visigoths; and the Roman general, less attentive to his dignity than to the public interest, did not disdain to visit Thoulouse in the character of an ambassador. He was received with courteous hospitality by Theodoric, the king of the Goths; but while Avitus laid the foundations of a solid alliance with that powerful nation, he was astonished by the intelligence, that the emperor Maximus was slain, and that Roine had been pillaged by the Vandals. A vacant throne, which he might ascend without guilt or danger, tempted his ambition ;* and the Visigoths were easily persuaded to support his claim by their irresistible suffrage. They loved the person of Avitus: they respected his virtues; and they were not insensible of the advantage, as well as honour, of giving an emperor to the West. The season was now approaching, in which the annual assembly of the seven provinces was held at Aries: their deliberations might perhaps be influenced by the presence of Theodoric and his martial brothers; but their choice would naturally incline to the most illustrious of their countrymen. Avitus, after a decent resistance, accepted the imperial diadem from the representatives of Gaul; and his election was ratified by tho acclamations of the barbarians and provincials. The formal consent of Marcian, emperor of the East, was solicited and obtained: but the senate, Rome, and Italy, though humbled by their recent calamities, submitted with a secret murmur to the presumption of the Gallic usurper.
Theodoric, to whom Avitus was indebted for the purple, had acquired the Gothic sceptre by the murder of his elder brother Torismond; and he justified this atrocious deed by the design which his predecessor had formed of violating his alliance with the empire.f Such a crime might not
* Seventy lines of panegyric (505—575) which describe the importunity of Theodoric and of Gaul, struggling to overcome the modest reluctance of Avitus, are blown away by three words of an honesst historian,—Eomanum ambisset imperium. Greg. Turon. lib. 2, c. 11, in tom. ii. p. 168. + Isidore, archbishop of Seville,
who was himself of the blood-royal of the Goths, acknowledges, and almost justifies (Hist. Goth. p. 718) the crime which their slave Jornandes had basely dissembled (c. 43, p. 673).
be incompatible with the virtues of a barbarian; but the manners of Theodoric were gentle and humane; and posterity may contemplate without terror the original picture of a Gothic king, whom Sidonius had intimately observed in the hours of peace and of social intercourse. In an epistle, dated from the court of Thoulouse, the orator satisfies the curiosity of one of his friends in the following description :*—" By the majesty of his appearance, Theodoric would command the respect of those who are ignorant of his merit; and although he is born a prince, his merit would dignify a private station. He is of a middle stature, his body appears rather plump than fat, and in his well* proportioned limbs agility is united with muscular strength.f If you examine his countenance, you will distinguish a high forehead, large shaggy eye-brows, an aquiline nose, thin lips, a regular set of white teeth, and a fair complexion, that blushes more frequently from modesty than from anger. The ordinary distribution of his time, as far as it is exposed to the public view, may be concisely represented. Before day-break he repairs, with a small train, to his domestic chapel, where the service is performed by the Arian clergy; but those who presume to interpret his secret sentiments consider this assiduous devotion as the effect of habit and policy. The rest of the morning is employed in the administration of his kingdom. His chair is surrounded by some military officers of decent aspect and behaviour: the noisy crowd of his barbarian guards occupies the hall of audience; but they are not permitted to stand within the veils, or curtains, that conceal the council-chamber from vulgar eyes. The ambassadors of the nations are successively introduced: Theodoric listens with attention, answers them with discreet brevity, and either announces or delays, according to the nature of their business, his final resolution. About eight (the second
* This elaborate description (1ib. 1, ep. 2, p. 2—7) was dictated by some political motive. It was designed for the public eye, and had been shown by the friends of Sidonius, before it was inserted in tho collection of his epistles. The first book was published separately. See Tillemont, Hemoires Eccle's. tom. xvi, p 264.
+ I have suppressed in this portrait of Theodoric, several minute circumstances and technical phrases, which could be tolerable, or indeed intelligible, to those only, who, like the contemporaries of Sidonius, had frequented the markets where naked slaves were exposed to sale.
Lour) he rises from his throne, and visits either his treasury or his stables. If he chooses to hunt, or at least to exercise himself on horseback, his bow is carried by a favourite youth; but when the game is marked, he bends it with his own hand, and seldom misses the object of his aim: as a king, he disdains to bear arms in such ignoble warfare; but, as a soldier, he would blush to accept any military service which he could perform himself. On common days, his dinner is not different from the repast of a private citizen; but every Saturday many honourable guests are invited to the royal table, which, on these occasions, is served with the elegance of Greece, the plenty of Gaul, and the order and diligence of Italy.* The gold or silver plate is less remarkable for its weight than for the brightness and curious workmanship; the taste is gratified without the help of foreign and costly luxury; the size and number of the cups of wine are regulated with a strict regard to the laws of temperance; and the respectful silence that prevails is interrupted only by grave and instructive conversation. After dinner Theodoric sometimes indulges himself in a short slumber; and as soon as he wakes he calls for the dice and tables, encourages his friends to forget the royal majesty, and is delighted when they freely express the passions which are excited by the incidents of play. At this game, which he loves as the image of war, he alternately displays his eagerness, his skill, his patience, and his cheerful temper. If he loses, he laughs; he is modest and silent if he wins. Yet, notwithstanding this seeming indifference, his courtiers choose to solicit any favour in the moments of victory; and I myself, in my applications to the king, have derived some benefit from my losses.f About the ninth hour (three o'clock) the tide of business again returns, and flows incessantly till after sunset, wheu the signal of the royal supper dismisses the weary crowd of suppliants and pleaders. At the supper, a more familiar repast, buffoons and pantomimes are sometimes introduced
Dubos, Hist. Critique, tom, i, p. 404. * Videas ibi elegantiam
Gracam, abundantiam Gallicanam, celeritatem Italam; publicam pompam, privatam diligentiam, regiam disciplinam.
T Tunc etiam ego illiquid obsecraturus felioiter vineor, et mihi tabula perit ut causa salvetur. Sidonius of .Auvergne was not a subject of Theodoric; but he might be compelled to solicit either justice