[ocr errors]

The Goths were landed in CoreyTa and the ancient continent of Epirus; they advanced as far as Nicopolis, the trophy of Augustus, and Dodona,* once famous by the oracle of Jove. In every step of his victories the wise barbarian repeated to Justinian his desire of peace, applauded the concord of their predecessors, and offered to employ the Gothic arms in the service of the empire.

Justinian was deaf to the voice of peace; but he neglected the prosecution of war; and the indolence of his temper disappointed, in some degree, the obstinacy of his passions. From this salutary slumber the emperor was awakened by the pope Vigilius and the patrician Cethegus, who appeared before his throne, and adjured him, in the name of God and the people, to resume the conquest and deliverance of Italy. In the choice of the generals, caprice, as well as judgment, was shewn. A fleet and army sailed for the relief of Sicily under the conduct of Liberius; but his want of youth and experience was afterwards discovered, and before he touched the shores of the island, he was overtaken by his successor.f In the place of Liberius, the conspirator Artaban was raised from a prison to military honours; in the pious presumption, that gratitude would animate his valour and fortify his allegiance. Belisarius

stones, dedicated by a merchant to Jupiter Caasius (1. 4, c. 22). Eustatbius had supposed it to be the fanciful likeness of rock.

* M. d'Anville (Memoires de l'Acad. tom. xxxii, p. 513—528)illustrates the gulf of Ambracia; but he cannot ascertain the situation of Dodona. A country in sight of Italy is less known than the wilds of America. [Strabo informs us (1.7), that Dodona was situated at thefoot of mount Tomarus; and among modem travellers, Walpole and Leake have explored its site.—Ed.]

f [The passage respecting Liberius is here copied from the quarto edition of this work. In later editions, including Milman's, "Youth and want of experience" are erroneously imputed to him, whom Procopius represents as an old man, in the last stage of life, but unversed in the art of war; k(TxaToyeputv Te a avrtp /iaXioTa Kcu djufXerj/roc iroXefiiorv. (De Bell. Goth. 3. 89.) He was unquestionably the same whom Cassiodorus, on two occasions, so highly eulogised to the Roman senate (Var. ii. 16; xi. 1). Theodoric appointed him prEetorian prefect, and made his son, Venantius, count of the domestics. He was sent by Theodatus as ambassador to Constantinople, where he was honourably received as a Roman senator and a man of acknowledged worth (Procop. De Bell. Goth. 1. 4). After the murder of Amalasontha, he was probably unwilling to return' to Italy and offered his services to Justinian. Notwithstanding his advanced age, his reputation made them acceptable, and from his knowledge of the country, he was selected to command a division of the army under Germanus.—Ed.]

[ocr errors]

reposed in the shade of his laurels, but the command of the principal army was reserved for Germanus,* the emperor's nephew, whose rank and merit had been long depressed by the jealousy of the court. Theodora had injured him in the rights of a private citizen, the marriage of his children, and the testament of his brother; and although his conduct was pure and blameless, Justinian was displeased that he should be thought worthy of the confidence of the malecontents. The life of Germanus was a lesson of implicit obedience; ho nobly refused to prostitute his name and character in the factions of the circus: the gravity of his manner was tempered by innocent cheerfulness; and his riches were lent without interest to indigent or deserving friends. His valour had formerly triumphed over the Sclavonians of the Danube and the rebels of Africa: the first report of his promotion revived the hopes of the Italians: and he was privately assured, that a crowd of Roman deserters would abandon, on his approach, the standard of Totila. His second marriage with Malasontha, the granddaughter of Theodoric, endeared Germanus to the Goths themselves; and they marched with reluctance against the father of a royal infant, the last offspring of the line of Amali-f A

* See the acts of Germanus in the public (Vandal. 1 . 2, c. 16—18. Goth. 1. 3, c. 31, 32) and private history (Anecdot. c. 5), and those of his son Justin, in Agathias (1. 4, p. 130, 131). Notwithstanding an ambiguous expression of Jornandes, fratri suo, Alemannus has proved that he was the son of the emperor's brother. [Jornandes was probably himself the writer of his concluding chapter, in which this passage occurs. He was evidently very ill-informed on affairs at Constantinople; and having heard of a Germanus, Justinian's nephew, he concluded that this was the son, and therefore that the father, who bore the same name, must have been the emperor's brother. Procopius, who undoubtedly knew the degree of relationship, speaks of it in very ambiguous terms. First, (De Bell. Goth. 3. 37) Germanus,' the father, is styled Justinian's avtij/wc, which, according to Stephanus (Thesaurus ad voc.), may mean either cousin or nephew; and afterwards (4. 1) the word used is KijSeuroc, which denotes only common kinship, one of a family (affinis). In a former note (p. 431), Gibbon, citing the authority of Jornandes, speaks of "the elder and the younger Germanus," without a comment; and correctly gives the name of Mathasuintha to the grand-daughter of Theodoric, whom he here, confounding her with her mother, calls Malasontha. Her son too, who, according to Jornandes, was not born till after his father's death, is here styled the "royal infant," whose father the Goths were unwilling to resist as an enemy.—Ed.]

+ Conjuncta Aniciorum gena cum Amala stirpe, spem adhuc utri

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

splendid allowance was assigned by the emperor: the general contributed his private fortune; his two sons were popular and active; and he surpassed, in the promptitude and success of his levies, the expectation of mankind. He was permitted to select some squadrons of Thracian cavalry: the veterans, as well as the youth of Constantinople and Europe, engaged their voluntary service; and as far as the heart of Germany, his fame and liberality attracted the aid of the Barbarians. The Romans advanced to Sardica; an army of Sclavonians fled before their march: but within two days of their final departure, the designs of Germanus were termi^ nated by his malady and death. Yet the impulse which ha had given to the Italian war still continued to act with energy and effect. The maritime towns, Ancona, Crotona, Centumcellse, resisted the assaults of Totila. Sicily was reduced by the zeal of Artaban, and the Gothic navy was defeated near the coast of the Hadriatic. The two fleets were almost equal, forty-seven to fifty galleys: the victory was decided by the knowledge and dexterity of the Greeks; but the ships were so closely grappled, that only twelve of the Goths escaped from this unfortunate conflict. They affected to depreciate an element in which they were unskilled; but their own experience confirmed the truth of a maxim, that the master of the sea will always acquire the dominion of the land.*

After the loss of Germanus, the nations were provoked to smile, by the strange intelligence, that the command of the Roman armies was given to an eunuch. But the eunuch Narsesf is ranked among the few who have rescued that unhappy name from the contempt and hatred of mankind. A feeble diminutive body concealed the soul of a statesman and a warrior. His youth had been employed in the management of the loom and distaff, in the cares of the household, and the service of female luxury; but while his hands were

usque generis promittit. (Jornandes, o. 60, p. 703.) He wrote at Ravenna before the death of Totila.

* The third book of Procoprus is terminated by the death of Germanus. (Add. 1. 4, c. 23—26.) + Procopius relates the whole series of this second Gothic war and the victory of Narses (l . 4, c. 21. 26—35). A splendid scene! Among the six subjects of epic poetry which Tasso revolved in his mind, he hesitated between the conquests of Italy by Belisarius and Narses. (Hayley's Works, vol. iv, p. 70.)

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

busy, he secretly exercised the faculties of a vigorous and discerning mind. A stranger to the schools and the camp, he studied in the palace to dissemble, to flatter, and to persuade; and as soon as he approached the person of the emperor, Justinian listened with surprise and pleasure to the manly counsels of his chamberlain and private treasurer.* The talents of Narses were tried and improved in frequent embassies; he led an array into Italy, acquired a practical knowledge of the war and the country, and presumed to strive with the genius of Belisarius. Twelve years after his return, the eunuch was chosen to achieve the conquest which had been left imperfect by the first of the Roman generals. Instead of being dazzled by vanity or emulation, he seriously declared, that unless he were armed with an adequate force, he would never consent to risk his own glory, and that of his sovereign. Justinian granted to the favourite, what he might have denied to the hero: the Gothic war was rekindled from its ashes, and the preparations were not unworthy of the ancient majesty of the empire. The key of the public treasure was put into his hand, to collect magazines, to levy soldiers, to purchase arms and horses, to discbarge the arrears of pay, and to tempt the fidelity of the fugitives and deserters. The troops of Germanus were still in arms; they halted at Salona in the expectation of a new leader; and legions of subjects and allies were created by the well-known liberality of the eunuch Narses. The king of the Lombards f satisfied or surpassed the obli

* The country of Narses is unknown, since he must not be confounded with the Persarmenian. Procopius styles him (Goth. 1. 2, c. 13,) fiaaiXucutv xpw^rwv rapiag; Paul Warnefrid (1. 2, c. 3, p. 776, Chartularius. Marcellinus adds the name of Cubicularius. In an inscription on the Salarian bridge he is entitled Ex-consul, Ex-prsepositus, Cubiculi Patricius. (Mascou, Hist. of the Germans, 1.13, e. 25). The law of Theodosius against eunuchs was obsolete or abolished (Annotation 20), but the foolish prophecy of the Romans subsisted in full vigour. (Procop. 1. 4, c. 21.) [In the absence of more positive information, the name of Narses authorizes us to look upon him as a native of Persia. From the son of Varanes III., in the days of Diocletian (see ch. 13) it occurs frequently, among both the Arsacides and Sassanides, as well as some of their distinguished subjects; nor are examples of it found among any other people. Justinian's general was for a time a bookseller, which is probably the meaning of Paul Warnefrid's "chartularius."—Ed.] + Paul Warnefrid the

Lombard records with complacency the succour, service, and honour?

[ocr errors][merged small]

gations of a treaty, by lending two thousand two hundred of his bravest warriors, who were followed by three thousand of their martial attendants. Three thousand Heruli fought on horseback under Philemuth, their native chief; and the noble Aratus, who adopted the manners and discipline of Rome, conducted a band of veterans of the same nation. Dagistheus was released from prison to command the Huns: and Kobad, the grandson and nephew of the great king, was conspicuous by the regal tiara at the head of his faithful Persians, who had devoted themselves to the fortunes of their prince.* Absolute in the exercise of his authority, more absolute in the affection of his troops, Narses led a numerous and gallant army from Philippopolis to Salona, from whence he coasted the eastern side of the Hadriatic as far as the confines of Italy. His progress was checked. The East could not supply vessels capable of transporting such multitudes of men and horses. The Franks, who, in the general confusion, had usurped the greater part of the Venetian province, refused a free passage to the friends of the Lombards. The station of Verona was occupied by Teias, with the flower of the Gothic forces; and that skilful commander had overspread the adjacent country with the fall of woods and the inundation of waters.f In this perplexity, an officer of experience proposed a measure, secure

able dismission of his countrymen—reipubliese Romania adversns aemulos adjutores fuerant (1. 2, c. 1, p. 774, edit. Grot.) I am surprised that Alboin, their martial king, did not lead his subjects in person. [So small an auxiliary force was scarcely worthy of being led by their king in person. Accustomed to command in chief, he could not stoop to a subordinate station. Procopiua (De Bell. Goth. 4. 26) makes this body of Lombards exceed 5500 men, 2500 of high rank, and more, than 3000 of the lower.—Ed.] * He was, if not an impostor, the

son of the blind Zanies, saved by compassion, and educated in the Byzantine court by the various motives of policy, pride, and generosity. (Procop. Persic. 1. 1, c* 23.) f In the time of Augustus, and in the middle ages, the whole waste from Aquileia to Kavenna was covered with woods, lakes, and morasses. Man has subdued nature, and the land has been cultivated, since the waters are confined and embanked. See the learned researches of Muratori, (Antiquitat. Italise Medii .^Evi, tom. i, Dissert. 21, p. 253, 254,) from Vitruvius, Strabo, Herodian, old charters, and local knowledge. [The retreat of the sea from this line of coast, as more particularly noticed at p. 29 of this volume, accounts for the conversion of lakes and morasses into cultivable land.—En.]

« ForrigeFortsett »