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A.D. 559.] LAST VICTOET OP BELISABITJS.
resume the armour in which he had entered Carthage and defended Borne. The horses of the royal stahles, of private citizens, and even of the circus, were hastily collected; the emulation of the old and young was roused by the name of Belisarius, and his first encampment was in the presence of a victorious enemy. His prudence, and the labour of the friendly peasants, secured with a ditch and rampart the repose of the night; innumerable fires and clouds of dust "were artfully contrived to magnify the opinion of his strength: his soldiers suddenly passed from despondency to presumption; and while ten thousand voices demanded the battle, Belisarius dissembled his knowledge, that in the hour of trial he must depend on the firmness of three hundred veterans. The next morning the Bulgarian cavalry advanced to the charge. But they heard the shouts of multitudes, they beheld the arms and discipline of the front; they were assaulted on the flanks by two ambuscades which rose from the woods; their foremost warriors fell by the hand of the aged hero and his guards; and the swiftness of their evolutions was rendered useless by the close attack and rapid pursuit of the Bomans. In this action (so speedy was their flight) the Bulgarians lost only four hundred horse; but Constantinople was saved; and Zabergan, who felt the hand of a master, withdrew to a respectful distance. But his friends were numerous in the councils of the emperor, and Belisarius obeyed with reluctance the commands of envy and Justinian, which forbade him to achieve the deliverance of his country. On his return to the city, the people, still conscious of their danger, accompanied his triumph with acclamations of joy and gratitude, which were imputed as a crime to the victorious general. But when he entered the palace, the courtiers were silent, and the emperor, after a cold and thankless embrace, dismissed him to mingle with the train of slaves. Yet so deep was the impression of his glory on the minds of men, that Justinian, in the seventyseventh year of his age, was encouraged to advance near forty miles from the capital, and to inspect in person the restoration of the long wall. The Bulgarians wasted the summer in the plains of Thrace; but they were inclined to peace by the failure of their rash attempts on Greece and the Chersonesus. A menance of killing their prisoners quickened the payment of heavy ransoms; and the departure
of Zabergan was hastened by the report, that double-prowed vessels were built on the Danube to intercept his passage. The danger was soon forgotten; and a vain question, whether their sovereign had shewn more wisdom or weakness, amused the idleness of the city.*
About two years after the last victory of Belisarius, the emperor returned from a Thracian journey of health, or business, or devotion. Justinian was afflicted by a pain in his head; and his private entry countenanced the rumour of his death. Before the third hour of the day, the bakers' shops were plundered of their bread, the houses were shut, and every citizen, with hope or terror, prepared for the impending tumult. The senators themselves, fearful and suspicious, were convened at the ninth hour; and the prefect received their commands to visit every quarter of the city, and proclaim a general illumination for the recovery of the emperor's health. The ferment subsided; but every accident betrayed the impotence of the government and the factious temper of the people; the guards were disposed to mutiny as often as their quarters were changed or their pay was withheld: the frequent calamities of fires and earthquakes afforded the opportunities of disorder; the disputes of the blues and greens, of the orthodox and heretics, degenerated into bloody battles; and in the presence of the Persian ambassador, Justinian blushed for himself and for his subjects. Capricious pardon and arbitrary punishment imbittered the irksomeness and discontent of a long reign; a conspiracy was formed in the palace; and, unless we are deceived by the names of Marcellus and Sergius, the most virtuous and the most profligate of the courtiers were associated in the same designs. They had fixed the time of the execution; their rank gave them access to the royal banquet; and their black slavest were stationed in the vestibule and porticoes, to announce the death of the tyrant, and to excite
* The Bulgarian war, and the last victory of Belisarius, are imperfectly represented in the prolix declamation of Agathias, (lib. 5, p. 154— 174,) and the dry chronicle of Theophanes (p. 197, 198).
f 'Ivdov£. They could scarcely be real Indians; and the Ethiopians, sometimes known by that name, were never used by the ancients as guards or followers: they were the trifling, though costly, objects of female and royal luxury. (Terent. Eunuch. act 1, scene 2. Sueton. in August. c. 83, with a good note of Casaubon, in Caligulfl,, c. 57.)
A.D. 561.] DISGEACE AND DEATH OF BELISAEir/s. 541
a sedition in the capital. But the indiscretion of an accomplice saved the poor remnant of the days of Justinian. The conspirators were detected and seized, with daggers hidden under their garments: Marcellus died by his own hand, and Sergius was dragged from the sanctuary.* Pressed by remorse, or tempted by the hopes of safety, he accused two officers of the household of Belisarius; and torture forced them to declare that they had acted according to the secret instructions of their patron.f Posterity will not hastily believe that a hero who, in the vigour of life, had disdained the fairest offers of ambition and revenge, should stoop to the murder of his prince whom he could not long expect to survive. His followers were impatient to fly; but flight must have been supported by rebellion, and he had lived enough for nature and for glory. Belisarius appeared before the council with less fear than indignation: after forty years' service, the emperor had prejudged his guilt; and injustice was sanctified by the presence and authority of the patriarch. The life of Belisarius was graciously spared; but his fortunes were sequestered, and from December. to July he was guarded as a prisoner in his own palace. At length his innocence was acknowledged; his freedom and honours were restored; and death, which might be hastened by resentment and grief, removed him from the world about eight months after his deliverance. The name of Belisarius can never die: but instead of the funeral, the monuments, the statues, so justly due to his memory, I only read, that his treasure, the spoils of the Goths and Vandals, were immediately confiscated by the emperor. Some decent portion was reserved, however, for the use of his widow; and as Antonina had much to repent, she devoted the last remains of her life and fortune to the foundation of a convent. Such is the simple and genuine narrative of the fall of Belisarius and the ingratitude of Justinian. J That he was deprived of
* The Sergius (Vandal. lib. 2, c. 21,22, Anecdot. c. 5,) and Marcellus (Goth. lib. 3, c. 32,) are mentioned by Procopius. See Theophanes, p. 197, 201. [The misconduct of Sergius, in Africa, which aggravated the evils of his uncle Solomon's Exarchate, is related in this chapter (p. 500). The chief of the conspirators is said to have been an Ablarus, of whom nothing more is known.—Ed.]
+ Alemannus (p 3.) quotes an old Byzantine MS. which has been printed in the Imperium Orientale of Banduri.
J Of the disgrace and restoration of Belisarius, the genuine original I
542 DEATH A3TD CHAEACTKB [CH. XLIIl
his eyes, and reduced by envy to beg his bread, " Give a penny to Belisarius the general!" is a fiction of later times,* which has obtained credit, or rather favour, as a strange example of the vicissitudes of fortune.t
If the emperor could rejoice in the death of Belisarius, he enjoyed the base satisfaction only eight months, the last period of a reign of thirty-eight, and a life of eighty-three years. It would be difficult to trace the character of a prince who is not the most conspicuous object of his own times: but the confessions of an enemy may be received as the safest evidence of his virtues. The resemblance of Justinian to the bust of Domitian, is maliciously urged ;J "with the ackowledgement, however, of a well-proportioned figure, a ruddy complexion, and a pleasing countenance.
record is preserved in the fragment of John Malalas (tom. ii, p. 234— 243), and the exact Chronicle of Theophanes. (p. 194—204). Cedrenus (Compend. p. 387, 388) and Zonaras, (tom. ii, 1 . 14, p. 69) 8eem to hesitate between the obsolete truth and the growing falsehood.
* The source of this idle fable may be derived from a miscellaneous work of the twelfth century, the Chiliads of John Tzetzes, a monk. (Basil. 1546, ad calcem Lycophront. Colon. Allobrog. 1614. in Corp. Poet. Graec.) He relates the blindness and beggary of Belisarius in ten ?ulgar or political verses. (Chiliad iii. No. 88, 339—348. in Corp. Poet. Grsec. tom. ii, p. 311.)
"Ecirw/ta gvXtvov cparuv, Ifioa Tif fiiXiif,
JitXtaaniy d[3oXov Sore Tip arpariIXary
~Ov Tvxi ftlv lloSaatv, airorvt/iXoX 5' 6 <pS6voc.
This moral or romantic talc was imported into Italy with the language and manuscripts of Greece; repeated before the end of the fifteenth century by Crinitus, Pontanus, and Volaterranue; attacked by Alciat, ior the honour of the law; and defended by Baronius (a.d. 561, No. 2. &c.) for the honour of the church. Yet Tzetzes himself had read in other chronicles, that Belisarius did not lose his sight, and that he recovered his fame and fortunes.
T The statue in the villa Borghese at Home, in a sitting posture, with an open hand, which is vulgarly given to Belisarius, may be ascribed with more dignity to Augustus in the act of propitiating Nemesis. (Winckelman, Hist. de l'Art, tom. iii. p. 266.) Ex nocturno visu etiam stipem, quotannis, die certo, emendicabat a populo, cavairi nunum asses porrigentibus prsebens. (Sueton. in August. c 91, with an excellent note of Casaubon.) J The rubor of
Domitian is stigmatized, quaintly enough, by the pen of Tacttus, (in Vit. Agricol. c. 46) and has been likewise noticed by the youngir Pliny, (Panegyr. c. 48) and Suetonius (in Domitian. c. 18, and Casmibon ad locum.) Procopius (Anecdot. c. 8) foolishly believes that only on« bust of Domitian had reached the sixth century.
The emperor -was easy of access, patient of hearing, courteous and affable in discourse, and a master of the angry passions, which rage with such destructive violence in the breast of a despot. Procopius praises his temper, to reproach him with calm and deliberate cruelty; but in the conspiracies which attacked his authority and person, a more candid judge will approve the justice, or admire the clemency, of Justinian. He excelled in the private virtues of chastity and temperance: but the impartial love of beauty would have been less mischievous than his conjugal tenderness for Theodora, and his abstemious diet was regulated, not by the prudence of a philosopher, but the superstition of a monk. His repasts were short and frugal: on solemn fasts, he contented himself with water and vegetables; and such was hia strength as well as fervour, that he frequently passed two ■ days and as many nights without tasting any food. The measure of his sleep was not less rigorous: after the repose of a single hour, the body was awakened by the soul, and, to the astonishment of his chamberlains, Justinian walked or studied till the morning light. Such restless application prolonged his time for the acquisition of knowledge,* and the dispatch of business: and he might seriously deserve the reproach of confounding, by minute and preposterous
* Tlie studies and science of Justinian are attested by the confession (Anecdot. c. 8. 13), still more than by the praises (Gothic, lib. 3, c. 31, de Edific. lib. 1, Proem, c. 7), of Procopius. Consult the copious index of Alemannus, and read the life of Justinian by Ludwig (p. 135—142). [Johann Peter Von Ludwig (or Ludewig) who is often quoted by Gibbon, held a foremost place among the jurists of Germany, in the first half of the eighteenth century. He succeeded Cellarius in 1703, as Professor of History at Halle, and in 1722 was appointed Chancellor of that university. Besides his lectures to the students, seventy-three of his published works are enumerated by Jocher, in his Lexicon der Gelehrten. From his long and learned preface to Zedler's Universal Lexicon, it may be inferred that he was the principal editor, and probably, one of ths nine scholars who divided among them the several departments of literature. Of a work so little known in this country, it may be permitted here to say a few words. Zedler was a spirited and enterprising bookseller at Leipzig, who undertook to publish the first complete Encyclopsedia. It consists of sixty-four large folio volumes, each containing more than one thousand pages. The first came out in 1730, and the last in 1750. It is not only the most comprehensive work of its kind, but for all information accessible at that period, it is complete and trustworthy.—Ed.]